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3D6, a Rocket Crowbar, and some Yoo-Hoo

Putting dice in my mouth since 1978


February 14th, 2011

Book review: The Horns of Ruin by Tim Akers @ 11:12 pm

Current Mood: chipper chipper
Tags:

Just finished The Horns of Ruin by Tim Akers. Took WAY too long for me to finish this book, considering what a quick read it should have been.

I really enjoyed this book. The main character is not likable, but I found myself enjoying the ride she was taking me on, wincing as she made bad decisions due to stubbornness, mentally cheering as she somehow shouldered through magics and overwhelming odds with just her sword and her will to just keep going. Conan-esque, in a way, but with much better prose.

The main thing that made this book for me was the setting, as is often the case. The City of Ash, built on ruins sunk into a black lake, filled with crazy technology, some familiar, others seemingly so until you see that they arrived at the final result using a completely different method. The book confines itself strictly to this city, which I love. Even with the entire book prodding into the many recesses of the city, there is so much more I'd love to know.

Magics all seem to be divine, gathered through remembrance of events passed for  the deity in question, reciting bits from holy books and performing motions. You then gain some of the power associated with that event. There are three major deities worshipped, the three brothers-turned-gods. Our protagonist is Eva Forge, the last Paladin of the House of Morgan, the Slain Warrior. The book drops us on a simple pick-up mission, starts ramping up the action, and basically never stops.

The dialogue was decent and natural. The fights are described perfectly, giving me just enough detail to picture in my head what's going on without giving me a turn-by-turn combat lifted straight from the square or hex grid of a game. Fluid, I would say.

Clocking in at 268 pages, this is by no means a gigantic book, and is a VERY fast read, having taken me so long only due to the lack of spare moments I have had and lack of concentration I can sometimes display. I would recommend this book to pretty much anyone who reads sci-fi, fantasy, steampunk, or enjoys a strong female protagonist. I would also recommend Tim Akers' other book, Heart of Veridon, which has some similar steampunk sensibilities and the same hints of a much, much larger world that is just waiting to be filled up with our imaginations, sequels, or both.

The quick and dirty: Fast read, lots of brilliant fight-scenes, strong female protagonist, the tip of the iceberg of a fantastic setting, steampunk and fantasy twisted just enough to keep it fresh. Definitely recommended.
 

March 26th, 2010

(no subject) @ 03:49 am

Current Mood: awake awake

Currently awake after flooping into bed way earlier than normal today (like 7:30ish). Woke up around 2:00 and let the dog out and it had snowed. Woah. What's up with that?

Had an all-day training session today. Learned a few extremely useful things, ate tasty foods, and was ridiculously bored a good portion of the time. The worst part of the day was the "Importance of Being a Student Worker" meeting which we had while the part-timers (middle management which get decent pay but still no benefits) had their own meeting.

Wow. No meeting has ever had such ironic consequences on my sense of worth. They basically had some HR person who didn't know what our job was slap together a PowerPoint presentation. Not 10 minutes into the presentation, she had obviously run out of ways to make up reasons about how we were important, and spent the rest of the 45 minutes telling us how to dress for interviews and go to job fairs. She ended on a note not unlike "And you have to do your job really well, because they don't need to go through the normal firing process to get rid of you. If you don't cut the mustard, you're gone!" Awesome.

K got re-jobbified on Monday. It's with an ad agency, which is awesome! The ad agency is old (distinguished), which is also awesome. Sadly, they seem to have never moved forward from their ways in the heydays of Mad Men in the 50's or 60's. They still file everything by hand, still use typewriters, and give merit based on time put in instead of actual output. Also: the health insurace sucks. It's seriously almost as bad as my student health care and it's expensive. Even with her slight raise from the last job, after health care expenses it's more like a big cut in pay.

So... yeah. K's kinda depressed about the health thing, and they've got her on an old Mac Mini which may or may not have wifi. And this is high tech for this place. Oy. Our money situation went from looking up to looking down... All this has her pretty stressed out.

So what are we doing? I'm looking around for other jobs. I might as well. With the shitty schedule they've got me on now, there's little difference between this and a higher-paying part-time position doing IT or something somewhere, save pay. My school hours are pretty regular, so shouldn't be hard to work with. If there were more thrift stores up here, I'd try to make a few dimes finding and refurbishing retro systems, but it just doesn't seem to pan out in this area.

I think I'm going to take a break from DMing my campaign. Lots of other people are wanting to run, a lot of the people who have come in seem to want something other than what I deliver, and I feel as though I'm just not giving it my attention (at least in part due to shitty response from players when I try to get info on their characters or whatever). My call for character info was met with exactly zero responses. One of my players went off his meds and is having a rough time, scheduling is a constant mess, and there's the fact that the majority of my players are in another state and transport has recently become an issue for many (including myself). I've been entertaining getting a more local group together... Maybe.

I think one of the reasons I've been feeling down lately is my lack of local friends. I'm the kind of guy that, when bored, likes to hang out with pals and talk geekly stuff. Keeps my mind spinning in the right way. I've got some local acquaintances made, just have to make that extra effort and see if we can hang out a bit more.

Snax is still being awesome. She's adjusted well to the transition to BeanCake Manor mkII. She came housetrained and knew "Sit." She's already gotten shake ("gimme paw") and is 9/10 of the way to lie down. The main issues we've got is her play biting and jumping up. We don't really mind the jumping up, but some of our friends do.

captain_jester is possibly running us through a Savage Worlds avatar game (not Avatar, the Last Airbender. Or Avatar, the ThunderSmurfs.) at some point soon, which I am excited about and he needs to e-mail me the rolling rules for (STARE).

That's... about it. La la la.
 

March 13th, 2010

DOG DOG DOG! @ 11:30 pm

Current Mood: stressed stressed
Tags: , ,

So, K and I have been, when we have time, looking at dogs. Since her last day was yesterday, she's pretty insistent on having the dog sooner rather than later to help keep her mind occupied. Well, today we were in luck (at least, where dogs are involved).

We stopped by SICSA (The Society for the Improvement and Conditions of Stray Animals) today to look. I was in a pretty shitty mood (more on that later) and wasn't expecting to find a dog which met my qualifications and didn't have little legs (which is the bulk of K's qualifications). We'd already seen a puppy which fit the bill for what we both wanted almost perfectly, and I figured I was doomed to wander the wastelands without a Dogmeat.

But we go in and look around a bit, finding the area with larger dogs. In the second kennel we looked at was an absolutely gorgeous dog that looked a lot like a pure white husky. She was super-sweet, so we asked to spend some time with her. When they brought her out she was energetic and playful and friendly. She was a little "mouthy", but she's still kind of a puppy, so that's understandable. Anyway, we played with her a little bit, got some great tips from the staff member who helped us out, and put a 24-hour hold on her so she can meet Steph's dogs and make sure they get along.

Anyway, here is a pic after the cut!Collapse )
As to my grumpiness, I can only assume it was because of finals week pressure, worries about the car, wondering if I'll be a good doggy dad, too much rain, gaming withdrawal, and not enough tomatoes. By dinnertime I was feeling much better.

Speaking of the car, oy. It's definitely something electrical shorting out, but heck if I know what. It quit on us twice today, and after the initial start in the garage, we couldn't get it to start at all without our portable jump-starter. So weird. We're going to take it in Monday and hope for the best.

That's... about it for now. I need to get some of my ridiculous amounts of pre-finals week homework done.
 

Writer's Block: Categorically speaking ... @ 08:20 pm


If the interior discussion in your head were indexed by category, what would the five most recurring subjects be?


School
Cleaning
Friends
Gaming
Where did I put (thing x)?
 

March 11th, 2010

Warm house! @ 09:39 am

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So we moved into the new place this week! Now that it's warm, of course, it's not as big a deal, but SO much warmer than the old house. I find myself actually getting up and doing things instead of staying in a hibernation state at all times.

And now that it's warm, I'm actually exercising. I'm working out in the morning, riding my bike to and from work, and feeling much better about everything, and a bit less like a big lump of lumpiness. Huzzah!

K got laid off, which sucks. The company is effectively shutting down until next tax season, due to horrible money mismanagement and the fact that the owner of the company can't not employ his loser friends who are running his IP into the ground with illegal practices. FUN! Anyway, tomorrow's her last day. Given that we share a pretty similar work ethic (if I'm not working, I'm kinda worthless), it's probably gonna be a bit rocky until she finds work. They told her that if she's available next season, they'd love to hire her back on. I doubt she'll go for that unless they up her salary to make it worth her while.

On the bright side: Puppies! We're looking at candidates for Snacks right now. =D Looked at some adorable lab mixes last night. One of them was energetic and really liked us, but had already been spoken for. The others were nice, but not the dog we're looking for. Also, it had coloration similar to the dog from Dragon Age. Ah well. We look at some awesome husky mixes tonight. Mutts ftw!

School is... school. Statistics is absolutely murdering me. The material itself isn't difficult, but the instructor is just awful. I will be happy if I pass this class. Only one week left, then it's spring break! Woo!

Game's kinda on hold right now for finals and getting settled into the new house. Looking forward to getting back to it, though.

Argh! Carpocalypse! A bit back, the car started running very loudly and rough. It's enough that it seems to be shaking things loose, and the car is starting to fall apart. Some of the stripping on the windshield has come loose, and earlier this week, driving from school to home, it just stopped running in the road, and all of the electrics went off. When I tried to start it again, they kinda flashed on and off, but nothing more. Even my blinkers wouldn't work. It was like I got hit by an EMP. So weird. Eventually it started up again, but I am wary of taking it on the expressway, due to the fact that I, and I'm sure others, would like to continue living instead of dying in a fiery crash.

That's about it, I guess. Some of the guys from work do karaoke on Wednesdays. I might join them. They are also talking about getting together for BattleTech, for which I still have a nigh-pristine box set. I will have to join them for this as well!
 

January 25th, 2010

(no subject) @ 11:47 pm

Current Mood: a bit cross

Oy. Happy New Year! Have I posted that yet? I don't think I've posted at all recently. So, the usual condiment: ketchup.

Christmas was great, then I was pretty dirt poor for some time. Finally got my loan/grant money. Huzzah! Now I am no longer super dirt poor!

This quarter, I'm taking: Statistics, Public Speaking, English Composition (eugh) and Marketing.

English composition is even worse than I was dreading. It is being taught by someone whose only credential, so far as I am able to determine, is that she has had one published poem. Uck.

In other news, my awesome flash drive that I've loved for several months was stolen at school today, which meant a hastily typed speech outline and PowerPoint presentation to replace those which I had stored on it. Also, this means I shall have to turn down the pretties on Dragon Age, on the scarce instances where I make time to play it, since I was using it as memory.. Le sigh.

In other news, we're looking to move into a smaller home. The heating costs this winter were crazy, and we've found some comparably awesome yet tinier spaces that might house us. Although I will miss this amazing house we're in, I will not miss keeping the temperature at 55F and still having a heating bill over $300.

Also, the new places are dog friendly. =D Anything with little legs is out due to K's irrational fears ("They're like carnies!"), so I'm thinking Bernese Mountain Dog. They pull carts!

Game bitching: I'm getting tired of running. I like my story, I like my world, I even like my players. What I don't like? Many players are playing a character for a few sessions, then chucking it for a new one. There are two original party members left, and they're the craziest ones. My player that used to be my keystone player is swapping out characters faster than anyone, and it's driving me crazy. I love for my players to have fun, but I have to have fun too. I'm seriously about to switch it to GURPS. You're invested in those characters by the time you're done with them.

Okay. I play Dragon Age to cool off now.
 

December 11th, 2009

Grades, books, gaming @ 12:40 am


Managed to get an 'A' in all my classes. Woo!

Started playing in a friend's Star Wars game, which has done wonders for my writer's block. I felt very fluid and reactive last game, and enjoyed it immensely. The plot is moving forward. With a bit of prodding, the party is moving in the right direction. Huzzah!

K got all of the Buffy she was missing at Wal-Mart on Black Friday. Thankfully, I am a resourceful bean and have managed to find some other presents. Most of my shopping is done (which is good, because I'm running out of moolah).

K did spring to get us an awesome external 1TB hard drive, which I used to back up all my crap so I could do a fresh install of Windows 7.

Firstly, I love how a 1TB hard drive, external, no less, is affordable.

Secondly, I like Windows 7. Big surprise, I know. It's pretty much Vista that doesn't suck. I want to say more about it, but that's really the big picture.

Beat Borderlands with the Hunter. It was a fun game, overall. Is The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned out yet for PC? 'Cause I can't frickin' find it anywhere. Bastiches.

ALSO finished Tales of Monkey Island. Overall, wonderful. The last installment left me with much of the same feelings as every Monkey Island post 2. Basically, the end was rushed. It's really a shame. With all the wonderful dialogue and possibilities, I feel like they really dropped the ball on the last one. Ah well.

Books!

Heart of Veridon by Tim Akers

Until I read this book, I had never heard of Tim Akers. Now I am hunting down all of his short stories.

The first thing you must know about heart of Veridon is that it is awesome. If you like troubled protagonists with metal eyes, crazy spider-people, technology scavenged from gods, and possibly the best MacGuffin since the One Ring, you should read this book.

The world is painted vividly, the characters come to life, and the action is packed. Like action. In a pack.

I would recommend this book to anyone I know and care about. A+


Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett

A Discworld book. That might tell you already whether you will like it or not.

Mostly about Foot the Ball (soccer), mob mentality (especially with regard to sports), and prejudice. A lot of the Unseen University wizards in this one, mostly Archchancellor Ridcully and Ponder Stibbons. Rincewind makes some very minor appearances. Vetinari shows up a lot in this one and is in good form.

This one started out a bit clumsy, but soon recovered well enough to stand beside the majority of the Discworld books. Certainly not the best, but had some decent new characters, did justice to returning ones, and was overall, a book by Terry Pratchett.

I enjoyed it quite a bit for a book that is, basically, about a sport I don't care about. B

Implied Spaces by Walter Jon Williams

This book starts off as what seems like a standard fantasy with Arabian Nights flair, and then goes through at least two other genres. And it does it WELL. Great pacing, likable post-human characters, cool supercomputers, named magical weapons, wormhole technology, and all kinds of awesome stuff.

And, y'know, a talking cat. Normally, not a big fan of the talking cat. Overdone. But it works pretty well here.

Solid A

And finally, thanks to spartydragon, I present you with THE TETRIS GOD!
 

October 27th, 2009

Health care fix! @ 11:09 pm

Tags: ,

Firstly, health care is fixed!... Kinda. It's still TECHNICALLY having problems, but we've been told that it will be pushed through and that everything should be fine. So... Yeah. Big weight off of my shoulders. I can schedule things and not pay $3,000 for a scan. Huzzah!

K and I had a fine little feast over the weekend involving eating a lot of things and carving pumpkins. It was a great time, and pictures of it can be seen here!

Started work today at school doing IT stuff. Today wasn't too bad, but I expect a much harder time come Thursday. It was wonderful to be working again. Especially nice because I knew most of the job already.

Also, the thing that makes me a little extra-bit happy about the health insurance is that now my "extra" money from the job is actually extra! Especially since I have extra hours now! Woo!

Not much else to say. Watching Weird Al on Kevin Pollak's Chat Show. Yay! He turned fifty last week. Wow.
 

October 7th, 2009

A post a day keeps the tapeworms away! @ 11:14 am


So I'll make a quick one about food and miniatures!

I took some quick snaps of the modded-up tiefling paladin with K's much nicer camera. You can see them here. I'm very happy with the results, overall, especially the horns. Those were a pain in the tuckus. As I get more interested in doing small details with minis, I want the sculpting tools and a magnifier and light for my third hand.

OH! Also, I applied for a job at school, just doing computer lab stuff, but it's a little extra money and I can work on homework (or game stuff) while I'm there. Score! I'm only starting at 9 hours a week, but that little bit extra will be a big help.

Food! We've made some excellent food lately! Made a great lamb curry last night. It turned out particularly well considering I had to do a little fudging with some stuff. Very tasty!

I've also been getting more bold with those dried ghost chilies that I bought in Seattle. I've added small bits of peppers to curry or chili, but not more than about 1/3. I like spice, but I'm reluctant to spoil a dish by making it inedible. Thankfully, K and I are both spice lovers, so I don't have to tread quite so carefully. I chopped one up and added it to the spicy coconut pork chops I made Monday. Definitely added a good amount of heat, but not on the level I was expecting from the YouTube videos, in fact it didn't even reach the point of some delicious spicy soup K made last week, which was deliciously and uncomfortably spicy.

So be prepared to hear a horror story where I find the magic amount of ghost chilies that can be ingested without going insane as I hop right past it. The subject for that post will likely be: My eyes are bleeding: a haiku.

It looks like it's about as warm and sunny as it's likely to get today, so I'm going to go do a bit of yard work while I can. I will leave you with this.
 

Accordion @ 01:33 am

Also: Probably the most awesome display of accordionistry I have ever seen. Linked to me by my lovely wife.

I sleep now.
 

3D6, a Rocket Crowbar, and some Yoo-Hoo

Putting dice in my mouth since 1978