Friday, July 31, 2015

5 Things on a Friday: Race4Chase Time

Happy Friday, folks!  Hope everybody’s set to have a great weekend.
The Obama administration outraged human rights advocates on Monday by removing Malaysia from its list of the world's worst human trafficking offenders -- a move that the activists said damages U.S. credibility -- simply to boost the president's trade agenda…
Hundreds of Democrats and a handful of Republicans had previously urged the State Department to maintain Malaysia's ranking as a "Tier 3" human trafficking violator. For years, the Malaysian government has largely turned a blind eye to sex slavery involving men, women and children. Forced labor is rampant in several sectors of the country's economy, particularly the electronics industry. In April, mass graves holding more than 130 human trafficking victims were discovered near the country's northern border with Thailand. That same month, the U.S. ambassador to Malaysia said the government needed to take human trafficking prosecution more seriously.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

D&D: Astral Madness & Mutant-Zombie Ghouls

I'm going through an editing process right now for a new adventure I hope to publish here in the next couple of weeks called "The Fall of Cahokiantep".  To quote the introduction:

The purpose of this adventure is twofold.  It introduces the city of Cahokiantep as an adventure location, and it provides a bridge from a traditional swords-and-horses style roleplaying campaign to plane-hopping fantasy with elements inspired by science fiction.

"The Fall of Cahokiantep" is intended as the first part of a trilogy, but as of this writing all I have for the next part is a high concept.  I've no clue at all how the thing is going to end.

Monday, July 27, 2015

I couldn't find my shirt last night...

...when we started grilling.  Sally, of course, took this as an opportunity to start taking pictures.

Despite spending an entire day out on Long Island Sound, I still need to work on my tan.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Race Report: Swim Across the Sound 2015

St. Vincent's Hospital held their annual Swim Across the Sound yesterday, and I participated for the first time.  My friends George, Ben, and I swim together frequently at the Woodruff Family YMCA in Orange, CT, and George has been trying to get me into marathon swimming for a while now.  He's a veteran; he's crossed the English Channel, done the Sound solo, and has many other impressive marathon swim finishes.  I agreed, but not until the last minute, unfortunately, because our family's schedule has been pretty damned busy of late.  Our girls are in triathlon camp (they have their first race next weekend), Sally's their coach, she's also woring to get a little PLYOGA practice off the ground, and there's always my work in Manhattan.  Anyway, George named our team "Y Me?" because we're all YMCA swimmers, and in fact, the Woodruff Family YMCA sent two full teams to compete in this year's race.  That is pretty awesome.

Friday, July 24, 2015

5 Things on a Friday: Science Loves Dad-Bods

Hey!  It’s Friday!!!  
How was your week?
Acquisition of Sikorsky for an after-tax price less than its current annual sales will improve Lockheed’s market positioning — already viewed as the best among first-tier defense contractors — in several ways.  First, it will boost annual revenues over $7 billion by acquiring rotorcraft franchises central to U.S. military operations.  Second, it will reduce company reliance on the tri-service F-35 fighter program, which had been projected to grow to over a quarter of corporate revenue as production ramped up.  Third, it will accelerate the company’s efforts to derive a greater share of income from foreign sources, since Sikorsky last year generated nearly half of its revenues overseas (Lockheed was at about 20%).  Finally, it will provide the combined enterprise with a multi-decade stream of sustainment revenues as it supports thousands of Black Hawks and other Sikorsky helicopters in use around the world.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

D&D: Expanding Mordecai’s Monster

The Mystery of Mordecai’s Monster” is finally out from ENWorld’s EN5ider magazine.  That’s awesome, of course, and I’m super-pleased with the way that the adventure came out.  In its final form, “Mordecai’s Monster” is a svelte done-in-one (or maybe two) adventure that GMs can run for their groups without an over-long commitment to the storyline.  I like that.  Writing it that way was a serious challenge for me, and I’ve got to give a lot of credit to En5ider’s editor James Haeck for helping smooth out some of the rough edges.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Swim Across the Sound

I'm signed up for a team for St. Vincent’s SWIM Across the Sound Marathon Swim.  It's an annual charity swimming race that supports cancer prevention, education and assistance programs.
St. Vincent's Swim Across the Sound.
If you didn't know, my entire family was killed by cancer.  Both my grandmothers, my grandfather, my mother, and Sally​'s father all died as a result of cancer, and my father got cancer but survived, though it was one of the critical elements in his later descent.  If you can help support this charity, I think it is a worthy cause.  For me, it's a uniquely personal cause.

Click here to support our team!

Saturday News & Notes: 49 Days to Football

Army's season kicks off the Friday before Memorial Day Weekend.

I don't know what the rest of football nation is doing, but it ought to be fun to see how Coach Monken's squad starts coming together after a full year in the system.  Here's hoping!

A photo posted by Army West Point Athletics (@goarmywestpoint) on

Friday, July 17, 2015

5 Things on a Friday: Texas Enters the Union at Last

Thank God it's Friday.  I don't know about you, but this has been a really long week for me.

The guys who bought the Commodore name are releasing an Android smartphone for about $300. The price includes some bog standard specs but, most important, includes two emulators so you can play classic 1980s games right on your screen.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

D&D: 8 Spelljammer Story Ideas

When I call these Spelljammer ideas, I don’t mean that they are literally tied to the Spelljammer game setting.  I mean that they are fantasy / sci fi ideas for D&D that might involve some kind of planar travel in space oon the Astral Sea.  As it happens, I’ve been struggling to come up with ideas for a campaign like this, so I thought maybe laying some down would help jog something loose.  
And anyway, I’m way too tired to do any real writing this morning.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

D&D: 13 Things I’d like to see from 5e (Part 2)

Part 1 of this article was wildly popular, with 100% of respondents saying that they wanted to see a revisitation of the Spelljammer universe.  I confess that I was expectingPlanescape to be the big winner, but the old adage really is true.  “There’s always enough fantasy but never enough good sci fi.”
For what it’s worth, I think the odds of new Spelljammer content approach zero, which is why I went back to the guys at En5ider and pitched them a new sci fi / fantasy adventure based loosely on last week’s feedback.  We’ll see how that goes, but privately I’m not overly optimistic.  I also think there’s room for homebrewing on the blog, but right now that’s just a set of ideas sitting in my notebook.  I haven’t even started putting together the Wanderhaven Campaign Guide, and here we are talking about a new would-be setting.  Honestly, it makes me tired just thinking about it.  
This post is the second half of our list, “13 Things I’d Like to See from 5e”.  Hopefully the feedback from this half will be as interesting as it was for the first half.  Regardless, thanks for coming by!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Short Tempo Run

Today's lunchtime run was a touch over 24 minutes.

--12:00 easy warm-up
--5 x :30 intervals (tempo pace)
----:30 rest (easy jog) between intervals
--3:00 @ 5k pace
--1:00 easy jog
--Charge hard up the hill (~1:00)
--Easy jog to finish

That totaled right at 2.5 miles; ~9:00/mile average pace.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Army Football Preview: Pondering the Imponderables

Army’s summer program starts August 3rd.  That puts us about a month out, and since I’ve already started seeing websites and Twitter pages talking about the coming season, now’s as good a time as any to put out some thoughts of my own.  I may eventually do a game-by-game breakdown, but for the time being it strikes me that there are too many unknown to make any actual predictions.  As one of my old squadron commanders used to say, “We don’t know what we don’t know.”  The first thing to do, then, is to figure out what we don’t know.  From there we can develop a set of questions that we hope camp can answer, and when we add that to the scuttlebutt from the teams on Army’s schedule (and maybe a little statistical analysis), we can maybe start making some predictions.
Let’s start with the Big One, and no I’m not talking about who’s going to play quarterback.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

D&D: 13 Things I’d like to see from 5e (Part 1)

The new edition of Dungeons and Dragons has been out for awhile now.  We’ve got all three core rulebooks, a super-high quality Starter Set to introduce new players to the game, and a small-but-growing collection of longer adventures for those looking to go deeper into the game’s core themes.  With the advent of the latest D&D poll from publisher Wizards of the Coast, however, we also seem to have an opportunity.  The poll asks the following:
Which of the following campaign settings would you like to see updated to fifth edition D&D rules?
Which of the following character types from prior editions would you like to see updated to fifth edition D&D rules?
Which of the following races from prior editions would you want to see updated to fifth edition rules?
There are a lot of choices.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Training Log: PLYOGA & Triathlon Training

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a training update.  If you follow this blog a lot, you may know that I got hurt in April and then again in May, and that made it tough to train.  I’d been fighting knee problems off and on for the past year or more, and not surprisingly those problems got worse as I got more and more into running over the winter.  By the time April rolled around, I’d realized that I needed to stop running--and I changed my routine accordingly.  
At a certain level, this was no big deal.  I like triathlon, but it’s no secret that I’m a better swimmer and cyclist than runner, and more importantly, backing off on running gave me more time to dedicate to the weight room.  Against that, though, is the reality that enjoy running, and anyway, you can’t very well swim-bike-run without that last bit.  But then in May I hurt my shoulders and elbows doing a combination of ropes-course work and weight training.  That sucked!  So then I had to take time away from swimming, running, and weight training, even being on the bike made me hurt sometimes.

Friday, July 3, 2015

D&D: Fan Mail

On behalf of myself and my PCs I would like to thank you for these great storys. I have DMed on and off for 4 years but only recently started with 5th ed. I was also hoping you would know any more storys like these. Regardless, thank you for your work.

 -- From Lukethanuke, commenting on "D&D: Journey through Crocodile Crossroads".

My response to Luke's question got so long that I decided to make it an actual post rather leaving it as a comment that no one but Luke was likely to see.

5 Things on a Friday: Unpayable Debts, Unpayable Wages

Happy Friday, folks.  Today kicks off a nice, long weekend here in the States, and if you’re me--and I am--it’s the start of four days off.  Hallelujah!  I’ve been busy as all Hell lately and can use the time.
Let’s get to it.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Comic Review: The Punisher (MAX)

I don't generally think of myself as a fan of the Punisher.  You look at folks who wear Punisher t-shirts, who talk about how awesome the Punisher is, and well, these are not typically your most well-adjusted folks.  On top of that, The Punisher tends to be a little mean-spirited.  Frank Castle's family is gunned down amidst a mafia gang war, and he goes on a rampage.  That rampage involves killing, torturing, maiming...  Castle is not a nice man.  It makes him hard to like.  In fact, half the time you're reading the Punisher, the point of the book is that Frank's an asshole, that you're not supposed to like him.  He's an anti-hero in the sense that he's actually a villain.  But sometimes we tell stories about him anyway.