Where To Say It?
Posted in General
First dog watch, 1 bell (4:44 pm)

I dearly want to say something to everyone I follow on social media, but they'll all think I am targeting them specifically when I'm not. Not really. Here it is:

I don't follow you because I'm interested in your political views. Nobody that thinks differently from you is going to have an epiphany and change their mind because you reposted something that fits in with your politics. You're seeking validation (or justification) of your views, and you'll get it from your friends that believe the same way you do—but you're not changing anything, you're just shouting into a void listening for echoes to make yourself feel better. Get over your anger, pick yourself up from your "I can't believe everyone doesn't think the same way I do" tantrum, and go out and make changes for good in your community. Volunteer your time and talents to help others, make a difference in someone's life.

And another thing that really bothered me: this whole "punch a nazi" thing. Violence is never the right answer. People have a right to believe what they want to believe (and they will), accept it. Don't encourage or cheer for violence. I'm ashamed of people that are so welcoming of most different-thinking people (LGBT etc) in their community yet still harbor hate and violence toward others. So here's my opinion on the subject: you're wrong. I'm not condoning "nazi" beliefs, I'm quite strongly against them, but they are entitled to their beliefs.

And clickbait. Boy do I dislike clickbait.

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Block of Wood by Carbon Leaf
Posted in General
Forenoon watch, 5 bells (10:52 am)

I've been a fan of Carbon Leaf for a long time. The lyrics to Block of Wood on the re-release album Love Loss Hope Repeat Reneaux are so much more than the original song, yet I can't find them on the Internet anywhere. So this is my attempt to decipher them. I'm missing two places and will try to fill them in as I can.

Block of Wood
Carbon Leaf

Grab your heart we need to leave
There's no time to cry or grieve
for the fallen family tree

Rise above the flooding plain
Crouch low to duck the flame
Generations against the grain
Up in smoke, down the drain

Narrow pass and gaining speed
A judgment lapse is all we need
to make the treachery complete

Fire from the mountainside
Floods below not far behind
...for a swim
Best to let the water in

If the fire if the flood
burns the tree and thins the blood
if your tears don't wanna dry
I can help you cry
through the night
through the night and day
I can't take the pain away
But I can help you cry

Returning .. close to home
learning all there is to know
about reaping what you sow

SOS in dot and dash
morse code to fire and ash
what we have will have to do
to work the ground and start anew

Cut the branch from this tree
carve a place for you and me
a wooden seat that we can string
from a branch where we can swing

Just take this block of wood
carve it down and sand it good
when finished it will be
a souvenir of the family tree

If the fire if the flood
burns the tree and thins the blood
if your tears don't wanna dry
I can help you cry
through the night
through the night and day
I can't take the pain away
But I can help you cry
through the night
through the night and day
I can't take the pain away
But I can try but
God help me please
Come save the family tree
My friends have broke them off
when falling off the wall

In the ash I found an ember
something warm to help remember
the block of wood that used to be
a strong tall family tree
a strong tall family tree
blowing in the breeze

Cry through the night
through the night and day

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Aggravating Parking
Forenoon watch, 4 bells (10:20 am)

This morning as I was pulling in to work I noticed that a truck with a trailer pulled across 5 of the maybe 9 parking spaces available. That happens sometimes, as that parking lot is small and we often have contractors coming or going to work on the building. I park there because it's closer to my office. So I figure I'll park in one of the two spaces he left behind the trailer (two others were already taken), but as I pulled around the corner (it's a small circular lot with trees in the middle) there was a car just sitting in the road. The driver was playing with her phone. When she noticed me, she pulled forward to where the trailer was parked, then parked—taking up both spaces! I sat there for another minute but she was clueless to what she had just done. Finally I backed my car up (a might bit angrily I should add), and parked in the handicap spot, then got out of my car. At this point I think she finally realized what she'd done and she backed up and left the lot. She had no business being there at all, not waiting for anyone, delivering anything, etc. I guess she just wanted a place to hang out. Retard.

As she was leaving, I walked back to my car and parked in one of the two spots she had just vacated, ire and venom dripping from my lips.

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New Garbage Disposal
First watch, 4 bells (10:12 pm)

Last Monday I discovered a leak from my garbage disposal (an Insinkerator Badger 5).

I've spent all evening working on it, and had to make a trip to Lowe's, but I have installed a new garbage disposal (Waste King L-8000). I was even able to remove an unnecessary piece of pipe and its compression fitting. The new disposal is quieter and twice as strong. And so far there are no leaks, despite the fact that this was my first time using plumber's putty.

I'll feel better after a few days of no leaks, though. Why does water have to ruin everything?

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Farewell, Discworld
Posted in Books
Afternoon watch, 1 bell (12:52 pm)

It's both a happy and a sad thing to read a book by an author you love when you know there can never be another one to follow. Today, with a heavy sadness, I finished The Shepherd's Crown, the final Discworld novel by Sir Terry Pratchett and the final book of the Tiffany Aching stories set therein.

It was a wonderful book, but leaves a disc-shaped hole inside you that can only be filled by old stories and your own imagination.

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Hair Types
Posted in Strangeness
Forenoon watch, 7 bells (11:58 am)

Here is a list of the types of hair I've found growing on my face

Wait, what?? Red? Yes, I have discovered that I have a small number of red hairs in my beard and mustache.

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How I Met George R. R. Martin
First watch, 1 bell (8:38 pm)

Today at Sasquan (Worldcon 73) I had just finished getting some books signed by Joe Haldeman (his Forever War is a must-read classic!) and talking briefly with his wife. I then went off to the side to in a chair and go through my book bag. George R. R. Martin walked up to the autograph table and chatted with the Haldemans (Haldemen?), then was walking past me when I said "I loved Wild Cards!". He stopped, turned, and thanked me. He had an assistant and another couple people that recognized him standing around. He asked me a question (I've already forgotten what it was) and I told him that I didn't know the answer, that this was my first Worldcon. Then he stuck his hand out for me to shake and welcomed me.

He then proceeded to take a few of us around the Hugo table and tell us all kinds of trivia about the different years' awards. It was a pretty awesome experience.

About an hour later I was running the sound board in the room he did his reading from the next A Song of Ice and Fire book.

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Worldcon 2015 – Sasquan
Posted in General
Morning watch, 7 bells (7:51 am)

Today I'm taking some time off work to volunteer at Worldcon 2015 in Spokane (I'm on the Tech Division Staff). I expect it to be a long, busy day. Especially since I didn't get any sleep last night.

Busy day today, especially since some work issues are happening at the same time I'm volunteering here. Juggling responsibilities, sigh.

Another long day, my 10 hour parking permit was expired when I left. Lots of unloading of large trucks, sorting items, and miles of walking. But we also had times where we could sit and rest, too. By the afternoon there were a lot more people around the convention center. Much of the stage, lighting, and sound is done, or nearly so.

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The Long Road to Recovery
Forenoon watch, 8 bells (12:22 pm)

distal biceps tendon injury surgical scar

On 27 August 2014 I experienced a "traumatic rupture of the distal biceps tendon" only a week after completing physical therapy for tearing my Achilles tendon the year before.

As of now, I have been pronounced "healed" by my surgeon and can now return to normal activity. At least what normal activity I can manage after almost nine months of atrophy and habitual disuse. Seriously, that's a long time for a recovery. No shorter than my Achilles tendon though, and if it's any indication I'll be dealing with this for a long time to come. After almost two years my left leg is much better but certainly not 100%.

In any case, it's nice to have the OK to stop babying my arm.

After two straight years of (very expensive) injuries, my goal for 2015 is to not have surgery. And I will be very happy if I can attain it. My one recommendation to you (very) few loyal readers is this: do not tear your tendons.

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Bad Refrigerator?
Forenoon watch, 6 bells (11:23 am)

When I moved in to my house I bought a $500 refrigerator. After about eight years, I had to get a new one. That new one cost about four times the old one, but it's really nice and I haven't ever regretted spending so much money on a fridge.

However, two nights ago I noticed the freezer wasn't as cold as it should be. As I investigated it more, I found a thick layer of frost and ice in the back. That frost formed when the freezer wasn't shut all the way (I've found the doors open twice, in the morning so they'd been open all night).

Last night I unplugged the refrigerator and pulled it out from its home. I opened the freezer. Lorien and I emptied it, moving some things to the freezer in the garage and others to the trash bin (ew). I chipped most of the ice away but it went down into some vents in the back of the freezer. So Lorien ran out and picked up some dry ice which we put in the refrigerator part and left closed while we let the freezer sit open overnight.

This morning there was a huge puddle of water on the floor, so I can only assume it's completely thawed out. I plugged it back in and cleaned the vents. There was an incredibly well-held-together strip of hair and cat fur that I literally peeled from the vent cover. It was pretty gross, and I probably should check it more often.

However, I'm hopeful that there are no problems with the unit, and that a defrosting and cleaning is all it needed. After it was plugged in for an hour the freezer seemed pretty cold to me. I placed a cup of water in it to see if it would freeze over as a test. I'll know this evening, but I sure hope that's all that was wrong with it.

13 Apr 2015 Update It looks like the aggressive defrosting was the ticket—the freezer seems to be working great now.

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Hooray for Net Neutrality!
Posted in News
Forenoon watch, 6 bells (11:26 am)

I'm not one for talking politics, but today's FCC decision is an important one. For once, a government entity has done something in favor of people and not big business.

Anyone that tells you otherwise is, literally, trying to sell you something (or in their pockets).

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Dead Distributor
Afternoon watch, 5 bells (2:47 pm)

My wife's car died yesterday while she was driving it. I got it towed to a mechanic and they found that the distributor was bad. That is the same distributor we had replaced last year around this time.

Since she'd driven less than a thousand miles (in a year!), it was still under warranty. That's great news because we put a lot of money into that car (and mine, too) last year and I wasn't looking forward to a do-over. Still, it's a hassle to go without that second car.

EDIT: Well I guess I blogged too soon. The fuel pump acted up just after she left the mechanic's and we need to replace that now.

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Welding Class, Day One
Forenoon watch, 6 bells (11:26 am)

Last night I attended my first welding class at Gizmo Cd'A, our local makerspace. We started out with safety discussion and an overview of what we were going to do, then we jumped in to plasma cutting practice on some scrap steel. I quickly realized how difficult it can be to cut a straight line, but started to get the hang of it after a while. I also practiced plunge cuts (as opposed to starting at the edge of the material). It amazed me how fast a plasma cutter can cut through steel.

We had a short break and got answers to several questions (there were six of us in the class). Then the instructor taught us more about different types of welding and the pros and cons of each. We went back into the shop, watched some demonstrations, learned the parts of the welders, and got started practicing with a MIG wire feed welder. That's where I learned how much welding is a skill as much as an art, neither of which I'm very good at yet. But it was great to practice, and get the feel for how fast or slow to go. Practice took up the rest of the class.

I had a great time, and learned a bunch of new things. I can hardly wait for the next class!

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Learning a New Skill
Afternoon watch, 3 bells (1:32 pm)

Tomorrow night I start taking a welding class. Because I don't have enough hobbies.

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Shadows of Brimstone
Posted in Reviews
First watch, 7 bells (11:53 pm)

Tonight, for the first time, my wife and I played Shadows of Brimstone City of the Ancients. Since we were only two players, and were playing the introductory adventure A Fistful of Dark Stone, we only faced low threat enemies. Until the end, where it spiraled out of control. We entered the mine, tried to scavenge with little success at first, and as we delved deeper my wife was real good at passing the Holding Back the Darkness rolls for the most part. We found our first clue in the room right past the mine entrance, but didn't find the second (objective room) until we were seven rooms in. We had several encounters, where we lucked out and missed taking damage every time, or got a good result instead. We had one early skirmish with 6 Void Spiders, and Lorien took out four of them by tossing dynamite into their midst. We quickly won that fight, and she received dynamite as a reward!

So the rest of the encounters were lucky as I mentioned, up until we got to the objective room. This is where either the game balance is off or we were extremely unlucky—or both. It appears that no matter how many players are in the game, you draw a red High Threat card to face off against in the objective room. Ours had us draw two Medium Threat cards. One of those cards had us draw two Low Threat cards. Our final fight was the Marshall and the Saloon Girl versus (in descending order of nastiness) three Night Terrors, three Stranglers, and nine Void Spiders. Most of them targeted my wife, who was stuck a bit behind me. The Void Spiders had the highest initiative and attacked first, quickly surrounding us and cutting off any hope of escape. Lorien faced two of them, and I faced four. The Stranglers couldn't reach either of us, so were sitting out the fight watching from the bleachers. Then we attacked, killed a couple of spiders, and then the Night Terrors shoved everyone out of the way and came to attack. Unluckily for her, they all chose to target Lorien first. She almost got KO'd that first round but had some luck dodging damage. The next round I managed to heal her, but they beat her like an old punching bag when their turn came up again.

So we used our one-and-only Revive token and she popped right back up. She threw dynamite again, took out a handful of spiders, wounded a few more, and even wounded two of the Night Terrors. I hit one several times with my shotgun but also had some bad luck rolls. In the end I managed to take two of them down, but not before they beat the lunch money out of Lorien again, KO'd in one round.

There was nothing left for me to do as I was surrounded on my next turn by Void Spiders and the final remaining Night Terror and pounded unconscious after surviving one round on my own.

So like I said, I may have been really unlucky, but it felt like the odds were too stacked against us at the final fight. Especially considering we'd have faced the same enemies if we had six players instead of just two…

All that said, this game kicks serious pigu. Way to go, Flying Frog!

Unfortunately we'd already cleared off the board when I finally took a picture, but here it is anyway.
My first Shadows of Brimstone game

I need a bigger game table!

PS I painted all the miniatures myself. Normally they come as grey plastic, so don't be disappointed if that's what you get.

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