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Below are the most recent 25 friends' journal entries.
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|Saturday, May 18th, 2013|
I've come to understand that bliss
Is quite impossible and if
I'll ever find a way
I'll claim another life
I've come to understand that kiss
Was quite impossible and if
I'll ever find a way
I'll halt the turn of time Current Mood: drunk
|Friday, May 17th, 2013|
My publishing company, Posthuman Studios, is in the last week of our Kickstarter to fund Transhuman, our next book. It's been very successful, raising over $70,000 to date with over 1,300 backers helping us along.
We've unlocked some cool stretch goals and still have some awesome ones that we're hoping to hit: a new adventure from the people behind the Know Evil podcast series, a cross-platform character generator, and a conversion guide to the Fate roleplaying system.
Please check it out: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/507486226/transhuman-the-eclipse-phase-players-guide
I have a lot of photographer friends. This is in part a byproduct of being in school for a degree in it...
All of my photo friends seem to fall into two camps.
1) We go out, we shoot, guerrilla style, never asking permission and never apologizing. Because hey, anything visible in public is fair game!
2) They hate street photography. Not the seeing it, because they can appreciate these images, but the doing it. They want to ask
everyone if they can take their photo, which ruins the moment you saw and wanted to capture.
Pay attention people, if you're in a public place, like a "hike and bike trail", and can see it, you can photograph it. Contrary to popular opinion you are not entitled to any privacy while in a public place. Now, yes, I do apply some principles here. I don't shoot through windows, or into areas where some privacy might be expected. But if you don't want to be seen wearing a thing in public, then change clothes before you leave your house...
|Wednesday, May 15th, 2013|
|The (Totally Expected) Return of No Quarter (Part IV)
http://grubbstreet.blogspot.com/2013/05/the-totally-expected-return-of-no.htmlAh, spring is in the air, the rhododendrons are blooming, and it becomes once more, time to review this year's crop of National Park Quarters
. Long ago and far away, I started examining the State Quarter series, and once that was laid to rest, a NEW series, called the "America the Beautiful" series, launched. The rules were similar - each state (and a handful of colonial properties) gets a coin to push one of their scenic national parks, forests, memorials, or what-not. For some states this is a bigger challenge than others, but all have showed up with something.As is usual, we rate this year's crop of National Park coins on design - Here's the rating system.Cool = ANot Bad = BKinda Lame = CVery Lame = DThe Wyoming State Quarter = EBonus points given for scenes that make sense, are easily recognizable, and have a good feel to the touch.This year's crop is OK, but not really spectacular. Let's dig in.White Mountain National Forest - New Hampshire
Yeah, it's a mountain. And it IS white (well the drawing is - I suppose the coin would be silver. So we at least have truth in advertisting going on.
And the carving is not particularly BAD - in fact, the bracketing birch trees could give the coin a good feel against the thumb, a ridge for the center white space of the view of the mountain. But the subject matter? I mean there feels like there are a bunch of states that do the forested-view-with-large-landform thing both in the previous series
and in thisone
. All that is missing is some form of native wildlife in the foreground to give it a feel of animation.
Rating: B (Not Bad).
And New Hampshire is probably hedging its bets. Its state quarter had the Old Man On the Mountain, which then COLLAPSED
. I think they're just taunting the mountain here to fold in on itself.
Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial - Ohio
Did anyone think of Lord Nelson when they saw this one? I know I did. Guy in naval uniform. Tall Doric column. I mean, if this was a contest of Pictionary, the answer would be - Nelson's Column.
But no, this is Admiral (well, Master Commandant) Perry, who is OUR admiral for the age of sail, whose middle name literally WAS Hazard, and who gave us a victory on Lake Erie during the War of 1812, facing off against the mightiest navy in the world, primarily because a) the mightiest navy in the world was busy fighting Napoleon and b) the mightiest navy in the world couldn't GET to Lake Erie because NIAGARA FALLS was in the way.
And though we are in the bicentennial period for that war (and the bicentennial of the Battle of Lake Erie is September 10th, so get you Battle of Lake Erie card orders in NOW). We aren't talking a lot of about the war. which sort of indicates who we really thought won it. Canada on the other hand is excited about it, and they weren't even a nation yet. I'm kind of interested to see next year if anyone even mentions the burning of the White House (except FOX, of course, which will blame Obama for not keeping us safe).
And the coin is celebrating mixed messages - Perry's Victory AND the Peace Memorial. Military Victory AND the fact we've had a long, relatively peaceful
border ever since. And it is ironic to note that this is set in Ohio, which doesn't HAVE a border at the present with Canada.
So it is a coin dripping with irony, right down the fact that the visitor center for this island-based park (reachable by ferry or airplane, when Jet Blue is flying) is delayed to open because of the sequester. But quarters they can afford.
Rating: C (Kinda Lame).
Great Basin National Park - Nevada
OK, Nevada doesn't have a lot to work with here. I would have thought that Hoover Dam would be in contention, since it IS a National Historic Landmark, but then maybe they would have had to share it with Arizona if they did. So they have the Great Basin, which is notable for being miles and miles of miles and miles.
And yet, they've done very nicely. The choice of the bristlecone pine looks a bit like it is going with Treebeard to take on Saruman at Isengard, but the use of different textures is going to be nice for the feel of the coin, and pushing it one side makes the static object more dynamic.
So yeah, in a modest year, this is one of the better ones.
Rating: A (Way Cool).
Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine - Maryland
Another entry in the War of 1812 theme of this year, this one commemorating the crystal entity from Star Trek attacking the Fort, before being scared off by the Omega Glory (double geek points for that one).
OK, it really the shelling of Fort McHenry by the British, though its not. From the notes it REALLY is showing traditional fireworks going off during the "Defender's Day" celebration of the fort. So you get the flashiness, when really the fort and the British Ships were shelling each other at long range.
So this is another win from the Wo12 - the British, fresh from burning Washington (Thanks, Obama!) moved onto Baltimore, sailing up the Chesapeake. They were foiled by land batteries, a line of sunken ships, and the fort. Neither side got close enough to do significant damage to each other, but the British were foiled, and in the process we got a poem that was later welded to an earlier song to become the Star Spangled Banner.
The coin itself, despite the fireworks, feels a little flat at first blush. The explosions work from an eyes-half-closed sort of look, and while the flag is good (indeed, when was the last time you saw a flag on the coin - some old bicentenial quarters?) the buildings are just sort of squatting there.
Rating: C (Kinda Lame)
Mount Rushmore National Memorial - South Dakota
So here's a challenge - what do you do when the state quarter bogarts the killer view of your most memorable feature? Arizona pulled things off nicely by shifting the view of the Grand Canyon entirely delivering a superior coin. South Dakota, on the other hand, gave us this.
They gave us a close-up of Jefferson's Nose. Actually, it is an in-process shot of carving Jefferson's face (working on those baggy eyelids) while the scaffolding behind supports the almost unrecognizable face of Washington. The carving of the monument is a cool thing, but the series is America the Beautiful, not Nostrils of the Founding Father.
This one is honestly WORSE than the State Quarter, with its giant pheasant flying over the classic view of the memorial, and that takes some doing. It takes a recognizable icon and hides it entirely. That takes work.
Rating: D (Very Lame)
That wraps this year's batch, and next year has a whole heaping helping of natural features. I predict we will see trees, mountains, and the occasional local wildlife.
|Thursday, May 16th, 2013|
|Wednesday, May 15th, 2013|
|OK you primitive screw-heads...
Working at a help desk is really tiring.
My favorite callers are the ones who know what their problem is and are clearly able to articulate it either over the phone or in an email to us. My least favorite people are the ones who call or email with:Email: "I have a problem. Call me, thanks!"
(no contact information provided)
or Email: "I need this information for all of the following people: (list of 80 people)"
The information they want is freely available to all users through the email system and they're a secretary who should know this and be able to get the information. When I told them this as a reply I got a smart ass response that "well so-and-so told me to send you a list to get a ticket for such-and-such team to run a report to get it for me, so just do the ticket."
Really? Did you say that in the original email? No, you did not. Am I psychic? No, I am not. I was unaware this was even an option, and if you had said that up front I would have happily generated the ticket you need. Asshole.
orCall: "I have this problem, it'd adding a letter to my login name when I'm trying to log in and locking me out, I think I have a virus"
OK, that's not virus like activity. Do you have a wireless keyboard? "um, yeah"
Have you changed the batteries?" "no."
OK, look, we don't support wireless keyboards. If swapping the batteries doesn't work, put the wired keyboard back in place that came with the PC and toss that one in the trash. It's not a virus.
orCall: "This is High muckyMuck with IT! I have tried everything and my MS Word documents won't open!"
OK sir, hold one. (remotes into user's computer, finds user recently upgraded to office 2010 and word files are trying to open in 2007) OK, do you see here where it's opening in 2007? "yeah"
You don't have 2007 installed anymore, you upgraded to 2010. (fixes file association for person "in IT", files open) obvious he didn't try everythingSome days it doesn't pay to get out of bed...
|are we ready?
I just signed up for the classes for my last quarter at the Art Institute. Come September, I'm graduating with a BFA in Photography, hell or high water...
So my final class list looks like this:Portfolio 4
- Independent StudyFundamentals of Marketing
- Online class for 5 1/2 weeksIntroduction to Adobe Illustrator
- Thursday night 6-10pmGraduation Checkpoint
- Thursday night 5-6pm
Normally classes are 11 weeks. They do the online courses as "accelerated coursework". I hate them. It's bad enough the quarters are as short as they are, but to make them even shorter and try to cram in the same material is almost criminal. I was fighting to take the Marketing class in a classroom, but it's only offered during the day. I also realized that as a general business class it'll be full of non-photo majors and most likely will be pushing "group assignments". Group assignments in school are bullshit because not everyone has the same motivation and one person always ends up doing all of the work. In real life, group projects happen and everyone does their part, because your livelihood depends on it.
The Portfolio class is the last in a series and as a requirement is always done in the final quarter. It's only offered at 8am on Mondays. Because this is my final quarter and I have to have it, but can't make that schedule they're finding someone to do this as an independent study. There may be two of us faced with this, and if my math is correct there will only be 3 others for the scheduled Monday class. Almost worth forcing the change to nights...
The Illustrator class I'm taking as an "elective". I'm "required" to take an internship, usually to be completed in your final quarter before graduation, and some of the younger students, and those living off the GI bill, are more than happy to do this. As an older student I would love to have that opportunity, but not at the loss of income it would cause. Can't afford that. So while it's required, they do allow us to get an elective if we can't do the internship for one reason or another. I figure Illustrator might at least be useful for graphic design work.
The final "class", graduation checkpoint, is a zero credit requirement, just to make sure that you're progressing toward the final portfolio show and have what you need. They're looking for business cards (check), resume(check), portfolio(check), leave behinds(I have a design, just need to have them printed), and that kind of thing. I'm told people pass it with little to no effort.
|Tuesday, May 14th, 2013|
|The Middle of Amber
I was going to write a blog post suggesting that people support the Lords of Gossamer & ShadowKickstarter that is taking up where the Amber rpg by Eric Wujcik left off. The Kickstarter has about 19 hours to go, the game should carry on for years. And maybe I am still writing that blog. But I'm shifting the focus off the new game that I-am-looking-forward-to-and-think-you-should-support .... back towards the Roger Zelazny stories that created the path for the game.By high school, Zelazny was my favorite author. The extent to which I loved his work has clouded my memory of how I first encountered him. It wasn't through Jack of Shadows or Lord of Light orNine Princes in Amber. It was through The Guns of Avalon, bought second-hand in a musty used paperback store built into a weird indoor-outdoor mall that would soon go out of business when I was in 7th grade and my family had just moved out of the Army and into Oregon.If you're familiar with Zelazny's work, you know that The Guns of Avalon is the second book in the Amber series. I missed that. I liked the cover illustration of two warriors battling chaotic hordes. Well, they looked like orcs. Inside it didn't go quite the way I'd expected. By that time I'd read theLord of the Rings and Watership Down and Starship Troopers, but it's possible that The Guns of Avalon was the first troublesomely adult novel I'd read. The demon knocks on the window and he goes ahead and invites it in? The girl he fenced with and then slept with may be another demon who killed off the kindly family? He's walking through realities and getting stronger all the time? And now we're using guns in fantasy worlds? What?I wasn't ready to deal with a story this loaded.Skip forward a year, maybe less. I'm in Gandalf's Den and there's a big display of Zelazny books, a series of books in a new black cover design I like a lot. I'm looking at the books and I see something called The Guns of Avalon. Wait. This is the book I have with that other cover. Wait. It's the second book in the series? Ohhhhhhhh.I bought Nine Princes in Amber. Loved it. Read The Guns of Avalon again, in the old weird cover that used the words 'another swashbuckling fantasy voyage to the kingdom of Amber' instead of coming right out and saying it was a sequel. I felt dumb. But happy.So my introduction to Zelazny was as a magical force that blew in from nowhere, didn't quite synch up to my very-sheltered youth, and gradually became a beloved companion.May the lords of gossamer and shadow continue the work.
|it's already Tuesday?
The days all run together.
Last week I slept like crap. Every night I would go to bed exhausted and stare at the ceiling. I'd toss, I'd turn, I could never get comfortable, and because I wasn't home before 7 on any night I couldn't do much to change it. I have medication, but if I take it too late it affects me the following day.
Then on Friday, I got home at a reasonable hour. I took my meds. Followed by a few nice glasses of whiskey. And slept like a person who can sleep. It was glorious.
Saturday afternoon I went out to shoot for my Wednesday class, having finished the work for my Monday class already...
Saturday night, with only a single glass of whiskey I once again was able to sleep like a person who can sleep. It was awesome!
Sunday I did... Nothing...
OK, I got laundry done, and played SWTOR for a bit and took a nice nap, but then... I couldn't sleep!
And again yesterday, crappy sleep...
I shot nothing new for class tonight, and am only half prepared, which should put me on par with everyone else...
|The End/Beginning of Everything
A feeling has been creeping up on me for a while now, and yesterday and today it's quite strong; it's a feeling I can only describe as "catastrophic." Not in the larger cosmic sense of forty years of darkness, the seas boiling, dogs and cats living together, but in a more personal sense. "My
world" (as opposed to the
world) is coming apart, and has been for some time. Hopefully this is the preamble to building a new "my world" from the ashes.
This doesn't have to be a bad thing-- there are large chunks of my world that I'm not happy with and would be happy to discard-- but it is a scary thing, regardless. Many of the people or things that I've lost were very precious to me and are irreplaceable. Many of the new people or things coming into my life seem ephemeral and frighteningly transient. The world is whizzing past and all I get are glimpses of something before it's gone again.
All I can do is hold on, keep my eyes open, and try to enjoy the ride. I am doing my best to nudge the trajectory so that I land in a good spot instead of crashing and burning... but without being able to see all ends, there's no way to know if I'll succeed or not until the time comes.
-The Gneech Current Mood: anxious
|[Writing] Two Stories Now Ready for Consideration
First pair of post-school projects complete: one story entered into the Geek Partnership Society 16th Annual Writing Contest, and another submitted into Sword & Laser's first anthology for them to consider.
|Monday, May 13th, 2013|
|Five 13th Age Progressions
1. The cover above is our first rough draft. Aaron and Lee still have lots of work they plan to do on it. That's a wind-and-lightning powered druid fighting a dragon who has yet to be revealed. It gives us game designers something to strive towards.2. Lee calls the piece Over Drakkenhall. I love the name, partly because it reminds me of the WWI airplane battles that were my entry into gaming playing Fight in the Skies/Dawn Patrol. I guess I can confess that my slang for the cover-dragon is 'the Bloody Red Golden,'but don't worry, the story behind this has everything to do with Lee's/Aaron's art mixed with the sorcery of the Blue and nothing further to do with WWI ace jokes.3. On other 13 True Ways work, Lee and Aaron continue to roll through the art, Robin Laws has turned over great work on devils, Drakkenhall, and Axis, and Jonathan is carving his own twisty multi-icon passages through the ruins of Drakkenhall.4. While Jonathan, Aaron, and Lee press forward on 13 True Ways, I'm using my designer-head for a few weeks to help with the 13th Age Bestiary that Ken Hite has organized for Pelgrane. It's mainly designed by people including ASH Law, Ken, Kevin Kulp, Rob Wieland, Ryven Cedrylle, and Steven Townshend, with editing by Cal Moore. There are innumerable dangerous and quirky touches that deserve to be touched on in later posts. For now I'm developing monsters, improving mechanics and suggesting ways that the monsters' stories can dare more in individual campaigns.5. And in regard to the book you've all been waiting for.... Once upon a time my page count estimates suggested we wouldn't have room to print the last chapter of 13th Age, the mini-adventure called Blood & Lightning. We said we would put the adventure on line since we couldn't fit it into the book. Well the good news is that I was wrong and the adventure does fit into the book. Last week, with the 304 page layout finished except for page xx's, Simon and I decided to add the revised Blood & Lightning adventure back into the mix. We've got a 320 page book now with no need for an adventure download and it looks like the decision is only going to cost us three days. So we'll have more good news soon, I think.
I'm dithering about my party.
Spring didn't actually arrive here in Minnesota until a couple of weeks ago. That's a lot of yard work that needs to get done fast because the weather will soon swing severely towards the heat and humidity that makes Summer here notable. The yards already turn green, the trees bud at an accelerated rate, and that means that the backyard needs attention now.
Or, rather, will get it shortly. I have another task to finish--stories for submission to things with deadlines that come in a few days--but once done I'll turn my attention to cleaning up that backyard ASAP.
The party will be aimed at either June 1st or June 8th, starting in the afternoon and going into the evening.
“I was over hipsters before being over hipsters was cool,” said Greg.
“No, no, stop right there,” said Brigid. “That’s too obvious. Too cliché. You’re just phoning it in, now.”
“Aw, c’mon,” said Greg. “Do you realize how hard it is to be have just the right amount of world-weary cool while still maintaining a kind of innocent charm? It’s not easy, what I do!”
“Well it’s too late now,” said Brigid. “You just blew the whole thing. Toss it and start over.”
“Um…” Greg shrugged. “No idea. I got nothing.”
“So you’re going for straight-up nihilism, now?”
“A-ha! I’ve got it!” said Greg, and cleared his throat. “Being a coffee-loving hipster is hard. I just burned my mouth because I drank my coffee before it was cool.”
Brigid just stared at Greg, flatly. “Go back to phoning it in,” she finally said.
<-- previous B&G
Originally published at gneech.com. You can comment here or there.
|Novella Diary, Claw, Days 10 to 13
So I didn’t get online a lot between Friday and Sunday, for a whole variety of reasons, so this is going to be a pretty truncated entry that covers the last four days. Strap yourselves in.
Things I did today: woke up on the Gold Coast and had breakfast with my parents; drove to Brisbane and worked for a few hours in the QWC office; had lunch with co-workers; came home and went through a couple of options for the Tooth and Claw Whispers reading on Saturday; do some prep work for the next Year of the Author Platform course I’m teaching in a few weeks; watched NXT with the Flatmate.
Things I didn’t do today: write anything on the novella.
Total Daily Writing Time: 0
Daily Word Count Total: 0
Session 11.1 (11:43 PM – 12:28 AM)
Word Count: 600
Mostly revision on the first chapter. Trying to streamline things a bit.
Total Daily Writing Time: 45 minutes
Daily Word Count Total: 600
Session 12.1 (12: 38 AM – 1:08 AM)
Word Count: 547
Taking my “get work done early, so you can slack off a little later in the day” habit to its logical extreme. Most of this came from doing rewrites of the first scene, and I figured I’d squeeze a few couple of minutes in ’cause I wasn’t actually sleeping all that well and Sunday…well, Sunday was looking like it’d be a write-off.
Which, turns out, it was. Rather grateful I got this done when I did.
Total Daily Writing Time: 30 minutes
Daily Word Count Total: 547
Write club. AKA the day when I catch-up from the slackness of the weekend. Arrived at Chez Slatter, nattered about writing for a bit. I have hit the bit of the manuscript where I’m forced to engage the Kress protocol – I’m stuck, very stuck, so I’m going back and to the point where the story made sense to me and rewriting from there, doing slightly different things in order to send the story flying off in a new direction. There will be lots of rewrites in this write-club.
Session 13.1 (11: 55 AM – 12:25 PM)
Word Count: 1,097
Wrote a new opening scene. Deleted a bunch of older scenes that now seemed kinda superfluous. Productive in its own way, but it dropped the overall manuscript wordcount back a couple of steps.
Session 13.2 (12:36 PM – 1:07 PM)
Word Count: 735
Session 13.3 (1:50 PM – 2:00 PM)
Word Count: 273
Did a whole bunch of scene tinkering between the last session and this one. Wrote maybe a paragraph or two of new words, but mostly just tightened the language or inserted some information into the scenes. I don’t ordinarily count this as writing, unless I’m actively trashing a scene and re-writing it from scratch, so the count started again once I hit the point where it was time to start a new scene.
Session 13.4 (2:43 PM – 3:20 PM)
Word Count: 1,016
Some work on the new chapter. Manuscript is starting to look… unwieldy.
Session 13.5 (3:55 PM – 4:32 PM )
Word Count: 866
Finally hit a version of the first scene that will work.
Total Daily Writing Time: 2 hours, 25 minutes
Daily Word Count Total: 3,987
Total Manuscript Writing Time: 15 hours, 12 minutes
Total Manuscript Word Count: 15,471
Originally published at PeterMBall.com. Please leave any comments there.
|Sunday, May 12th, 2013|
|2013 Reading #13
Dan Gets a Minivan: Life at the Intersection of Dude and Dad
by Dan Zevin
Some of the shtick in here dates back to Erma Bombeck, but about halfway through something clicked and I started liking the self that Zevin portrays. On the other hand, he has the kind of problems that really only afflict stay-at-home dads married to wealthy professionals who can afford nice minivans, nannies, gym memberships, and summer-long vacation house rentals. It's hard to work up much sympathy, especially when you just spent the weekend with your kid screaming at you because you are Not the Mommy.
|drabble: "casual spying"
now, you have to understand, I don't normally eavesdrop, it's just that she was so pretty that I just wanted to find out whatever I could about her. when she and her friends started talking about what they'd done in Nacogdoches, and where they'd left it hidden, I knew how I could fix everything. so I settled up the tab and we got in the truck and didn't stop driving until we made it to the demolition site. but everything went pear-shaped from there, now Charley's dead and that
witch has the suitcase and that's why I need bail, mom.This entry was originally posted at http://mark-argent.dreamwidth.org/740150.html.
|Saturday, May 11th, 2013|
|2013 Reading #11 and 12
Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy
by Emily Bazelon
In-depth study of the causes and responses to bullying among teens, with attention to both cyberbullying and what happens in the physical world. Bazelon is one of my favorite Slate
writers, and anyone who knows her work there will not be surprised to hear that this book is thoughtful, carefully researched, and immensely readable.
This is mostly a social study, but it contains some excellent advice that I'm sure I will put into practice once I fight down the urge to wrap up my kids up in protective bubbles and keep them far away from the mean old world forever.Walt's Time - From Before to Beyond
by Robert B. Sherman
Scrapbook of music and family history from the Sherman brothers, who have written a disturbing number of Disney's best-known songs (including, regrettably, "It's a Small World"). Fun to look at, with some good insights into the Shermans' and Walt Disney's creative processes.
|Good and/or Creative Things for Today
- Saw Iron Man III w/ laurie_robey and @QuillyPen. It was a good flick! Lots of nice thematic things for my English lit brain to crunch on, and Ben Kingsley was awesome.
- My new LotRO champy is level 26 and will soon graduate from the Lone Lands.
- Went to California Pizza Kitchen for dinner, first time I've been there in years. Their crust has improved!
Honestly, I haven't done it yet, other than a little bit of noodling around with gaming stuff. But I'm going to get in a little bit of writing before I go to bed.
-The Gneech Current Mood: good
|Friday, May 10th, 2013|