That Dice-Rolling Hobby

Jul. 24th, 2017 10:09 pm
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[personal profile] tcpip
Apart from dealing with multiple medical issues that I've raised in previous posts, I have had the opportunity to engage in my favourite hobby othe weekend - traditional roleplaying games. On Friday evening I participated in what I call Eclipse Phase Mars, on the basis of its standard location (although most recently this has involved extrasolar gatecrashing etc). This particular group meets primarily on Google Hangouts with players in Western Australia, Vietnam, Victoria, and New Zealand. I've missed a couple of sessions of this game, partially due to technology issues (my computer screen was completey destroyed on my last trip to NZ, so I've been trying to work with a dinky Asus Aspire One), and partially because of international trips. Both of these have affected my ability to complete Papers & Paychecks; although I did release an update on Saturday morning following completing the bestiary section, and integration a number of significant changes, even this late in the publication process.

Saturday was also a regular CheeseQuest day with [livejournal.com profile] hathhalla and [livejournal.com profile] ser_pounce. Given the cool weather, our lunch feast consisted of a pumpkin gnocchi and Nova Scotia brown bread. The cheese feast included fried saganaki and halloumi, havarti, maasdam, gorgonzola, Dutch smoked, and two not-cheeses, a faux cheddar and "tree nut" cheese, which are quite tolerable. I was rather taken by the Devil's Corner pinot noir that our guests brought over, light but tasty and with a brilliant ruby colour. After lunch was the second session of our historical-fantasy Dungeons & Dragons game, using the very different 4th edition rules in the setting of Charlemagne's rule. The game went very well, everyone plays up their character ethno-religious background and character class, as they cleared out a old Roman-Germanic temple in Freisland haunted by Wiedergänger.

Sunday was also a gaming day, this time with my own game of Eclipse Phase. This session involved the PCs engaging in a short-case to an autonomist morph resleever on one of Neptune Trojans, then taking a stealth craft to intercept an Ultimate scout ship en-route to Eris. There was an almighty gun-battle that followed which eventually saw the PCs successful, and partially courtesy due an inside agent providing assistance at the last moment. After that was the challenging process of psychosurgery and the literal merging of minds. More on that for the next session. Appropriately I've started reading the two books entitled Dungeons & Dragons and Philosophy (one published by Open Court, 2012 and the other by Wiley Blackwell, 2014)

Interesting Links for 24-07-2017

Jul. 24th, 2017 12:00 pm
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[personal profile] andrewducker

In which there is the June Book, 1976

Jul. 24th, 2017 09:49 am
spiralsheep: Ladies Sewing Circle and Terrorist Society (Sewing Circle Terrorist Society)
[personal profile] spiralsheep
60. June Book, 1976, annual, comic, girls own. (3/5)

• 2-8 & 25-31 Mam'selle X and Operation Danger comic: sabotage and steam engines in occupied France.

• 9-11 Strangest Stories Ever Told (aka The Storyteller &c.) comic: our heroine befriends a tree that is subsequently involved in a fatal accident, made into a sledge, before the sentient and now also mobile tree saves the girl's life, "It's made from Philippa, darling, that's why! Daddy was very clever and sawed strips of wood off her to make it." Randomly set in Canada. SO EXOTIC!

• 12-15 Lucky's Living Doll comic: there are two episodes of this long-running comedy in this annual. Tina, the "living doll", looks after a mum and her baby after they miss the last bus and decide to stay the night in the mysterious invisible stranger's house instead of walking and/or hitching which would be much safer in the real world!

• 16 Just Joking comic: a page of single panel cartoons. I'm planning to post this image whenever anyone mentions "white feminism" from now on. :-D

Is this an uninhabited island? From the June Book annual 1976

Contents and two more scans. )

(no subject)

Jul. 23rd, 2017 04:40 pm
maju: Clean my kitchen (Default)
[personal profile] maju
It's a do-nothing kind of day today, although we did achieve a few bits and pieces. As we've done for the last few days in an effort to reset our body clocks, we jumped out of bed as soon as the alarm went off and went for a walk for an hour plus. (It's still hard to wake up before 6 but I'm not feeling tired during the day any more.) The temperature was 3 degrees lower than yesterday (73F rather than 76F - at 6 am) but after the thunderstorms and rain in the afternoon and overnight it felt far more humid this morning even than yesterday. It's pouring with rain again now but I haven't heard any thunder yet. The predicted high winds didn't happen yesterday for which I'm very thankful.

My achievements for the day were: first, roasted a slow cooker full of vegetables, mainly butternut squash and potatoes, with some broccoli and frozen peas added for good measure. Topped with grated cheese and tomato sauce (ketchup) and sometimes with other green vegetables added, this is one of my favourite meals. S isn't as fond of it as I am, so she will eat from the freezer for a few days; second, made a batch of baked bean and cheese jaffles for my lunches for a couple of weeks. Yum. Have I ever mentioned that I love cooking ahead and not having to think about food every day apart from pulling something out of the freezer?

I can't do any quilting for another few days because I haven't yet received the batting and backing for Eden's quilt. I didn't want to order it too long before we got back from California, then when I looked online for suitable backing fabric while we were still in California I couldn't find anything that satisfied me. The day after we arrived back I was able to find something suitable and order it, but the order will take another couple of days to arrive.

The state of Augmented Reality

Jul. 23rd, 2017 09:27 pm
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[personal profile] andrewducker
Five years ago I had a disagreement with a friend over whether this article was being overly pessimistic about augmented reality and whether we'd have "hard" AR soon.

Five years later, and this is the state of the art:


Which is, I totally admit, a very neat tech demo. But it's not "there" yet. The FOV is too small, and you can see the real world through it. Although, to be fair, most of the time the real world isn't _that_ distracting, you're definitely not going to be able to "see Victorian gas lamps in place of normal lights" or "have a real Coke can that you want to turn into an AR Pepsi can by drawing a Pepsi logo over the Coke logo".

Ah well, I'll make a note to come back in five years time and see where we are then!

Cats update

Jul. 23rd, 2017 03:33 am
vass: Icon of Saint Ignatius being eaten by lions (eaten by lions)
[personal profile] vass
He's being a terrible Dory again. (Sung to the tune of 'I'm telling a terrible story' from The Pirates of Penzance.) This time his evidence exculpatory is that I won't let him use the indoor swimming pool. (No, not the sink. And I don't have a bathtub.)

So he learned to turn the lever sort of door handles and also swing on them in such a way that he can open an outward opening door from the outside. I am pondering technological solutions. I hear there's a form of child lock that works on cats. Until then I'm leaving the lid down and putting a barrier in front of the door, but I expect that won't hold him for long.

A Star Has Fallen

Jul. 22nd, 2017 11:52 pm
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[personal profile] tcpip
"Fiery the angels fell; deep thunder rolled around their shores; burning with the fires of Orc"

Yesterday I was informed that an old friend and former housemate in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Erica W., had died of a stroke. For those that knew her, this has been a terrible shock. She was relatively young, and seemed so alive, and seemed to have so much to contribute to this world. It is a harsh reminder that friends can be lost at any time with the randomness of life.

When I first met her she and her partner at the time, James, were in their mid-teens. Intelligent, attractive, highly alternative, and very fashionable, they were already living together and regularly visiting local nightclubs, where they were very well-regarded for the characteristics mentioned. There was an especially amusing moment when a local newspaper printed her in a vox-pop what her preferred nightclub was - and mentioned her age in the credit.

"Morphology, longevity, incept dates"

Whilst in Perth we shared two households at different times - the first was the famous "accelerated house", a dilapidated duplex pair with questionable plumbing. Part of the duplex was the home of the Accelerated Men, a goth band of some repute. The place was wired up a local area network with a AlphaMicro AM-100, and came with its own stray cat (Velocity) which I adopted. Several years later, at the final place where I lived in Perth, we were in more normal accommodation. I could help but chuckle a little at my highly fashion-conscious housemates who could spend hours in preparation on going out. I also remember showing them the Internet at the time; a text-based interface to usenet groups. "This", I implored sagaciously, "is going to change everything". I don't think they quite believed me at the time, so it was with great fondness catching up with James just a couple of years ago, and recalling that moment, he said: "And you were right!".

At the time Erica was suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome, and despite being a witty conversationalist, was physically in the doldrums. A few years later however, and I suspect heavily because of the direction provided by our mutual friend Bruce T., there had been a complete change, as she had become quite a figure in the fashion industry and was running her own label and store, Alysian Empire. I still have some of their clothes to this day. Later she would go on to have another fashion label of even greater renown, ericaamerica.

In the post-Alysian Empire period we only caught up in person a couple of times, and more recently exchanged a few messages, courtesy of the 'borg of social media. Despite this we had the sort of friendship where years could literally go by and when we did get in contact our banter could continue as if no time had passed at all. It was a friendship built on mutual understanding and respect, of affirmation of each other, of strong and happy shared memories. The mention of her name in conversation would always brighten my day and bring me joy; but not this time.

"Tyrell had told me Rachael was special: no termination date. I didn't know how long we had together. Who does?"

(no subject)

Jul. 22nd, 2017 09:48 am
maju: Clean my kitchen (Default)
[personal profile] maju
I'm feeling a bit jetlagged today. Both yesterday and today we took ourselves out for a long walk as soon as we got up, in an effort to get our bodies quickly adjusted to the time difference. Today it was much harder to walk at a good pace than it was yesterday and I think that was because it felt a lot more humid today than yesterday. This makes sense as the weather forecast is for severe thunderstorms later this afternoon (with possibly damaging strong winds which I'm hoping don't happen).

I do hope it rains as my one dogwood that really struggled through its first summer last year is again looking a bit stressed already this year. I was hoping that it would be much better adapted with deeper roots by this summer, but maybe not. Or maybe we just chose a very poor location in the yard for it. If we don't get rain in the next day or so I'll have to water it again.

Interesting Links for 22-07-2017

Jul. 22nd, 2017 12:00 pm
spiralsheep: A raven (spiralsheep Raven Logo)
[personal profile] spiralsheep
- Beloved of small children, canines, and corvids: two jackdaws watching me sitting on a wall, because apparently I'm more interesting than all the tourists dropping food a couple of hundred metres away (i.e. within the same birds' territory). I admire the daylight while midnight watches me....

Jackdaw curiosity, Lands End, Cornwall 05-17

- Third book in a row with a shack: "I didn't know then that the crooks were still quite near... hiding in a shack down a side turning." [Note: it's a shed in a European town, 1974.]

- Reading, books 2017: 70

59. The Wolves of Normality, Foyle Young Poets of the Year anthology, 2016, poetry. (?/5)

How to be a patriot, by Sophia Carney (full poem)

1. Plate your pain with reinforced steel;
fit it with tire treads and arm

it with the revolver you keep
in the kitchen cabinet next to the Coco Pops.

2. Exhibit your pride;
curate it like a museum display.

Soak the constitution in formaldehyde
that sticks the imperatives to the page.

Program the X-ray machine at the door to record
the shade of the visitors' skin
in hexadecimal.

3. Press the flag flat.

Turn it to a freeze-frame
between two Perspex sheets labelled
DO NOT TOUCH.

4. Neglect to mention the pixels of
blood that appear
under UV light and human scrutiny.

(no subject)

Jul. 21st, 2017 04:22 pm
maju: Clean my kitchen (Default)
[personal profile] maju
Well, it's back to the everyday routine again. We haven't quite adjusted back to this timezone, but we're getting there. It's hot hot hot here - low 90s by day, mid 70s by night - and although S prefers this kind of heat (hazy and humid) I find it quite oppressive even though the sky isn't completely overcast. She says that in contrast to California's bright clear heat, this is "good" heat; I say there is no such thing as good heat. Oh well, it's not much more than two weeks until I'll be leaving for Perth and a spell of lovely mild winter weather. (I can't believe this trip is coming up so fast; for months it's been hovering off in the far distance and now it's almost upon me.) Going to California somehow concertinaed the time.

Today was supposedly S's fortnightly Friday off; I say "supposedly" because she's been working off and on all day, but she did take time out for our weekly grocery shopping expedition. Our fridge was looking rather bare after two weeks away, but not any more. Every week we buy cheese and I grate most of it with the food processor, and every week I marvel at the ease and speed of grating cheese with a food processor compared to doing it by hand, especially parmesan cheese which S puts in her scrambled eggs every morning.

Speaking of scrambled eggs, I was very glad to get home and resume having toast and marmalade for breakfast. At our motel in California I ate scrambled eggs or omelette (whichever they served) with bacon and some kind of fried potatoes for breakfast because there was no marmalade for toast, and also because I was eating much earlier than I do at home and I needed to eat a sustaining breakfast to last until lunch. Toast doesn't cut it if you have to wait five or more hours for lunch. I don't wake up particularly hungry and I'm happy not to eat breakfast until 8 am or later if I'm at home, but our schedule was different while we were away so I had to adjust my eating accordingly. However, by the end of the two weeks I wasn't really looking forward to another breakfast of eggs and bacon.

Interesting Links for 21-07-2017

Jul. 21st, 2017 12:00 pm
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(no subject)

Jul. 20th, 2017 02:14 pm
maju: Clean my kitchen (Default)
[personal profile] maju
We made it safely home yesterday, to be welcomed by oppressive and (to me at least) debilitating heat. Of course I'm also tired because of a short night last night, so I can't blame all of my tiredness on the heat. Our flight wasn't until 1 pm (and didn't actually take off until 2 pm) so we didn't arrive in DC until about 9:30 pm. The flight was uneventful apart from the guy in the aisle seat next to me, who kept his elbow fairly aggressively on the arm rest for much of the flight and also glared at us when we got up to go to the bathroom. (If you're sitting in the aisle seat you can expect to have people asking to get past you to go to the bathroom. I like aisle seats and I consider having to stand up to let people out to be part of the cost of doing business. One of the reasons I like aisle seats is because I tend to need to go to the bathroom more than many younger people.) I think he was also annoyed that I moved into the empty seat beside him so I could sit with S (where he had already put his computer before I moved), but as he did not tell us he had booked and paid for that seat, I had as much right to it as he did. (Because we didn't book at the same time S and I had window seats one in front of the other, but although the middle seat beside S wasn't available when I booked it was empty on the flight so I was able to move into it.)

After we landed there was a long delay while we waited for our checked bag to come through. I'm puzzled as to why it took so long as there weren't that many people waiting for bags (because so many people just take huge carry on bags?), but eventually it arrived. Not being fans of paying to do laundry (because it's free at home) we both took enough clothes with us to get through two weeks without wearing dirty clothes for too long. Therefore when we packed to come home, the bottom half of our shared suitcase was stuffed full of dirty clothes, including underwear. When we opened the bag there was a little note from TSA on top of the dirty clothes saying our bag had been randomly chosen for inspection. I hope they enjoyed looking through all our dirty laundry.

As we didn't get home until about 11:30 pm it was of course dark and I couldn't see the state of the yard. However, this morning I discovered that the protective black mesh around a couple of my fledgling trees had been either dislodged or in one case completely removed, I suppose blown off during a thunderstorm, and the leaves of the little trees had been fairly thoroughly eaten. I think there are enough leaves left that the trees will be fine, and today I've done repairs to discourage any further browsing by deer, but I was very sad to see what had happened.

Review: Kingdomino

Jul. 20th, 2017 01:46 pm
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[personal profile] andrewducker
When I saw that it had won the 2017 Spiel des Jahres I took a look at Kingdomino. On discovering that it was only £15, and that games could be played in about 15 minutes I decided to pick up a copy.

So far I've played games with both [personal profile] swampers and [personal profile] danieldwilliam and both of them picked it up quickly and enjoyed playing it.

It's based (surprisingly enough) on the idea behind dominoes - or, at least, the part of dominoes where you have tiles with two ends and need to match them against each other. In this case the different ends are different terrains (grass, mountain, etc), and you score by forming areas of the same terrain*. Each turn you have to make a judgement between going for the tiles that score the highest, versus going for lower-scoring tiles which allow you make the first move the next turn.

I enjoyed it, and I'm definitely taking it on holiday. If you're looking for a filler game then it'll do a great job of that.



*It's a bit more complex than that, but not a lot.

Interesting Links for 20-07-2017

Jul. 20th, 2017 12:00 pm
andrewducker: (Default)
[personal profile] andrewducker
spiralsheep: Flowers (skywardprodigal Cog Flowers)
[personal profile] spiralsheep
Rah rah rust, Zombie cheerleader, Lego monsters

- Ethics and a beneficial side effect of the NHS, which arose in my last post (due to via_ostiense's contribution) and is worth top posting imo: one of the benefits of freely available healthcare, especially accident and emergency care, is that normal everyday social interactions such as true accidents are prevented from immediately becoming acrimonious attempts by injured people in mild shock to assign blame to a legally evidential degree. Freely available healthcare = more social cohesion + fewer street incidents needing police attention (= also bad for the income of ambulance-chasing lawyers). I bet it's rare for the social and economic benefits of accidents being agreed to be accidental to be calculated into the value of a National Health Service and other forms of socialised medicine!

- Quote from my current reading for jesse_the_k: "The place Gorsch rented was a shack, really, and in those days shacks were truly shacks." [It's 2015 fanfic but traditionally published as a novel without filing the serial numbers off because the original went out of copyright in 2011.]

- Reading, books 2017: 68

57. Eleven root poems (Undici poesie radice), by Tiziano Fratus, 2000-2017, poetry. (3/5)

• So, firstly I note that that Dōgen was a Japanese Zen Buddhist philosopher and poet whose work is still extremely influential. Secondly I note that in Japanese aesthetics "rust", sometimes synonymous with "patina", is not only decay through time and interaction with environment but also a visual and tactile connection with the history of an object and the past more generally, so a narrow Western perception of "rust" exclusively as corruption often fails to encompass the full connotations within traditional Japanese culture (which shouldn't detract from the following poem as an object in its own cultural place and time, obv).

Parola di Dōgen, by Tiziano Fratus

Alla fine della giornata,
mi sono seduto al centro del vuoto:
ho lasciato che l’IO
a cui tanto avevo lavorato si arrugginisse.
Vedevo che l’acqua corrompeva,
ma smisi di preoccuparmene.
L’uomo che si era seduto
non si è più rialzato

English translation. )
andrewducker: (Default)
[personal profile] andrewducker
I posted yesterday about the media using "X defends against accusations" as a way of making you think that there are widespread attacks on them.

47 people clicked through to that post from Facebook. 5 from Twitter.

The 5 from Twitter all did so within an hour of the post going up.

The 47 from Facebook did so over the course of the following 12 hours (19 of them within an hour, but then an ongoing curve downwards).

Which indicates to me that Facebook does a pretty good job of knowing when something is interesting to my friends, and keeping it "active" for a while, whereas Twitter sweeps it away near-instantly, and unless it really grabs people it's gone.

And looking at my overall referrer stats, Facebook gets between three and six times the number of clicks that Twitter does.

(Just had a look at my actual LJ statistics too - yesterday I had 145 readers, of which 100-ish were reading via their friends-page and 45 were going direct to my posts/journal. Sadly I don't get the same info from DW, but Google Analytics tells me that 78 people visited that post on DW.)

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