Tags: hobbies

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On Learning French On The Cheap

Off and on the last ten years I have tried learning French and not gotten far – except for this time, when I might have hit upon a winning combination that, if anything else, is working for me. 

First, Duolingo is an on-the-go free application that teaches Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian and German in a manner quite like Rosette Stone.  It costs nothing and its coverage of a language is quite comprehensive.  However:

  • It tells you when you get something wrong but it never tells you why you got something wrong often leading to frustration.
  • It never teaches you any reasons behind the grammar it introduces.   It just introduces grammar complexity and laughs at you as you fail lessons.
  • Sometimes the translations are colloquialisms or verb tense changes without any warning.
  • It nags.  Meh.

Duolingo is terrible for learning a language from scratch since it leads to frustration and confusion but it’s fantastic for vocabulary drill.  Since vocabulary drill is the name of the game, it’s worth doing the minimum 10-15 minutes a day with the app – with something else.

Second, the podcast Coffee Break French is really good.  It’s really good.  I thought the JapanesePod 101 stuff was good but no, this is really good.  Instead of drilling vocabulary I get what Duolingo doesn’t cover:

  • Clear pronunciation instruction to get pronunciation correct.  Man, I sound like a horrific Canadian trying to speak French.  It’s sad.
  • Grammar instruction and explanation.  For example, Duolingo’s pronouns lessons became much easier once I heard a Coffee Break French lesson. 
  • Build block learning of vocabulary to build up full sentences.
  • Listening practice at full speed to full conversations. 

If you get super interested you can buy the supplementary materials but I have all the volcab drilling in the world from Duolingo.  It can be sucked down via iTunes.

Third, I bought a cheap, used French High School Textbook off Amazon for $13 (Vis-a-Vis Beginning French 4th Edition).  There comes a time, I found, when one needs to give it up and just look up the grammar rule in question and get a written explanation with examples.    

The last bit is just diligence.  I try to get ~20-30 minutes of French instruction shoehorned in every day.

So there you go!  Try it and have fun!

Originally published at /project/multiplexer. You can comment here or there.

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Nephilim Character Creation – Emotional Metamorphosis and FATE

Note: I am slowly converting Nephilim, an old Chaosium game, over to Dresden Files FATE. I am just flopping all the posts on my blog because I can tag and collect them all later. This stuff is in no particular order. You can buy Nephilim in PDF from DriveThruRPG for ~$17. You should also buy Dresden Files RPG.

Emotional Aspect-Based Metamorphosis uses the REVISED METAMORPHOSIS rules in the Nephilim expansion, “Chronicles of the Awakening.”

Nephilim are creatures of pure magic. They aren’t human. They’re ruled by their passions as the Ka expresses itself. One of the routes to Agartha is by understanding and accepting these emotions as part of their core being. If Nephilim can understand their Metamorphosis, they can take a step on the Golden Path toward Enlightenment.

A Nephilim consists of five elements of Ka make up a Nephilim, so a Metamorphosis has five core emotions. While the five elements may always be the same, the five emotions may not: a Fire Ka-based Djinn is a creature of pure FIREY DESTRUCTION while a similar Fire Ka-based Phoenix is a creature of CREATIVE FIRES. Both Fire Ka, different applications, and different Metamorphoses.

Whenever a Nephilim revels in their emotions of their Metamorphosis, they physically manifest a sign of their True Selves.  The more of their emotions they are trying to understand, the more they engage their passions and more of they reveal their true selves to all around them.  Those emotions can easily be carried away, for good or for ill.  And if a Nephilim engages enough of their Metamorphosis, even the least magical of humans around them are going to notice.

The emotional aspects of a Metamorphosis is raw and pure.  Nothing complicates them.  They get to the core of true Nephilim passion.

The Rules governing Nephilim are surprisingly simple:

  • Every Nephilim has a Metamorphosis. This is their High Aspect.
  • All Nephilim have their first Metamorphosis for free as part of their High Aspect.
  • Nephilim may add more Metamorphosis Aspects to their sheets during their Incarnations, ie, their past lives.
  • A Nephilim may have up to five Metamorphosis aspects.  Invoked the Aspect for a bonus or be compelled by the GM for a Fate Point at any time during play.  Whenever a player invokes a Metamorphosis or the GM compels, the Nephilim transforms into its true state for a short time.
  • A Nephilim must have all five Metamorphosis aspects to start on the Road to Agartha.
  • A Metamorphosis Aspect is a single word of an emotional state.

The Core Nephilim Metamorphosis:

These Metamorphosis builds are from Chronicle of the Awakening.  A player can feel free to substitute for emotional aspects more suitable to their character as long as is in keeping with the flavor and tone of the Metamorphosis.  A new Metamorphosis has an emotion and some physical change.  Any Nephilim PC will have between one and all of these Metamorphosis but it is not required to have them all to make a complete character.

The Djinn is

  • Destructive, and when he destroys his body turns into a weapon of war and his hands become hooks and claws;
  • Energetic, and when he is full of energy he becomes hot to the touch;
  • Proud, and he stands several feet taller than anyone else;
  • Rebellious, and his face becomes angular, menacing and hard;
  • Reckless, and his hair turns into pure flame.
The Phoenix is:
  • Creative, and those around her gain sudden new insights while she glows;
  • Honorable, where she becomes lighter than air and floats above the fray;
  • Loyal, where she begins to fade into the background and become like everyone else;
  • Reckless, where her skin, lips, joints, and ears become red and her entire eye becomes as dark blood and her hair turns crimson;
  • Stubborn, where her features become hard as stone.
The Sylph is:
  • Calm, and his skin becomes transparent and his hair as white as the air;
  • Pragmatic, and he becomes cold to the world and his skin likewise;
  • Proud, as his voice becomes as the thunder and the storm;
  • Rebellious, where even the winds will no longer obey and whip in a storm around him;
  • Trusting, where the weights of the world no longer hold him to the ground.
The Angel is:
  • Calm, and his skin becomes as white as ivory and his hair as gold;
  • Creative, and when he has creative thoughts his eyes sparkle and his skin glows;
  • Curious, and he will infect everyone around him with boundless curiosity with his golden tongue;
  • Honorable, where the lack of lies allows him to grow wings and fly;
  • Spiritual, and his joining with the universe allows him to speak in music and he leaves the smell of honey on the air.
The Triton is:
  • Deceitful, where his pupils narrow to a slit and he smells of old rot;
  • Destructive, and his teeth turn into daggers and his nails into sharp claws;
  • Pragmatic, and as cold as the waves and as frigid as the icy ocean of the North;
  • Private, when it hides in its scaly shell and it oozes like the algae of the deep;
  • Unpredictable, as it deforms and grows strange lumps and growths like the deformations of the sea.
The Undine is:
  • Curious when her eyes light up with blue sparks when something catches her interest;
  • Indulgent in her senses of taste, smell and hearing and she it tortured by the smells of the modern-day;
  • Pragmatic in her dealings and she hides under the waves where she breathes with gills;
  • Prudent which allows her become so indistinct she fades into the background;
  • Social and she surfs the relationships of humanity until her skin becomes as silk and her fingers grow membranes.
The Satyr is:
  • Angry when his face becomes fearsome, horns grow on his head, and his eyes glow with Satanic light;
  • Destructive as his hands turn to claws and his feet into hooves;
  • Indulgent where he can eat and drink many times more than any human being at a single sitting;
  • Unpredictable where he runs like a wild beast, grows hair all over his body, and smells of wood musk.
  • Vengeful as he has a horrible aura of terror and menace.
The Elf is:
  • Altruistic and everyone around him becomes calm and trusting;
  • Joyous and he is physically warm like a Spring day;
  • Private as it hides from the world in its hard bark shell;
  • Proud and it stands as tall as the trees and its ears become long and thin;
  • Stubborn enough its features harden like wood and no emotion flashes on its face.
The Snake is:
  • Cruel and its teeth become pointed and it spits poison;
  • Deceitful as its eyes shows its evil as they become the large eyes of the snake;
  • Indulgent  where the senses overwhelm and it can remember tastes and sensations so well it occasionally recalls them from previous lives;
  • Private when its skin turns to dry, soft scale;
  • Unpredictable as it becomes double jointed and is still until it lashes out.

For example…

In the midst of a bar fight on the very bad side of town with the Templars’ paid-for Mafia Thugs, Nemamiah the Djinn Nephilim gives in to Destruction’s passion.  He pays a FATE point to invoke the Aspect of Destruction.  His skin turns to a leathery covering and his hands turn into hooks.  He uses the aspect to bump the shift of his combat roll up by one — from Good to Great, with predictable results.

Elijah the Serpent Nephilim negotiates a delicate business deal.  The GM compels the aspect of Deceit and Elijah gives in to his true nature to try to cheat the opposing party.  His eyes turn into serpent eyes as the he twists the deal to the advantage of no one but himself, causing himself trouble later on.   The GM gives Elijah a FATE point to use later.

Originally published at /project/multiplexer. You can comment here or there.

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Apologizing to the Rice

I realized late last night I had called the book “Trails of Cthulhu” with an s instead of “Trail of Cthulhu.”  I chalk this up to my insidious Michigan accent which compels me to pluralize words regardless if they need to be pluralized or not.  Meijers.  Krogers.  Kmarts.  C’mon, Michigan people, you know you have said a sentence construction like this:

“So you wanna go down to Krogers, then?”

I am personally very concerned about the prospect of multiple trails of Cthulhu. Imagine enormous world-spanning trails of sticky slime.  Like giant ants.  With face tentacles.  Ew.   They look like this!

It was corrected in the post. And I hang my head in shame. It’s all Michigan’s fault.

Originally published at /project/multiplexer. You can comment here or there.

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[RPG Review] Trail of Cthulhu

Trail of Cthulhu by Ken Hite from Pelgrane Press

In middle school I discovered horror fiction.

I cannot remember what was the first book — I suspect Stephen King’s the Shining in used book form — but I do distinctly remember reading anything that had a dismemberment. If it featured splatters of blood, I read it. Good writing, bad writing, schlock writing, I read it all, and in great spews. Somewhere in there I laid hands on a collection of horror short stories that contained the usual standbys of Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” and Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily.”* It also had HP Lovecraft’s “Rats in the Walls.” And that one was my favorite. I read it over and over.

Later I read the rest of HP Lovecraft’s stuff. Some of it was good. Some of it was terrible. Some of it was incomprehensible. And some of it was the Dream-Quest of the Unknown Kadath.

My copy of Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu 5th Edition** is actually the second copy as my first copy disintegrated from overuse. The glue binding did not hold up to the love and after a while the pages fell out. The second one is a used copy from somewhere or other. I know dimly there was a 6th edition but I only have the 5th; that was the version for me. Even reading the rules of the BRP version of CoC belied the obvious: the only way someone was going to get out of an adventure was by being an illiterate track star. The BRP rules were charming in their crappiness but they had that one beautiful sanity meter rule, and that was a permanent brain worm. For 20 years I have been rolling my SAN and I am pretty sure by now it’s pretty low.

BRP had a special lethal charm. I knew of Runemaster games ended in the first five minutes by the entire party failing swim rolls when crossing a river. Or another character killed by a highly dangerous glass of water. But BRP was what was in Chaosium’s books and Chaosium’s books were special so we played it, and made it work, and CoC got ran and played anyway. That’s the greatness of CoC.

That brings me around to Trail of Cthulhu, a game I read and fell fiercely in love with but for completely different reasons than the clunky charm of CoC 5th Edition. It’s CoC where you get to live until you get your head eaten by Azathoth in the end, and that’s the kind of CoC we want to be playing.

A bit about GUMSHOE

I talked about GUMSHOE in my review of the Esoterrorists, so for an overview of GUMSHOE it’s best to consult there. Trail runs with the core idea of getting to the end of the story and not being held up by the system. When we watch Law Dramas, we don’t want the Intrepid Cops to end the plot because they failed a “look for clue” roll. We don’t want House not figure out the disease in the last act because he failed to make some surgery roll halfway through. We do not want our Cthulhu hunters to be killed by a wayward glass of water.*** It’s no good to be blocked because of a botched roll, so GUMSHOE waves that part. The players always get the clue. The question is what do they do with it? That’s where the play is.

And that’s what Trail brings to the table. It feels less blatantly horror-focused as Esoterrorists, it adds some new skills, it goes in with Drives to give players motivation for why they are hunting down the terrors that go bump in the night. The SAN meter is now dual tracked: you can take a Stability hit or take actual Sanity damage but it takes a bit to shave off a little of the ol’ SAN. The focus is on episodes like a show: the point is not the bumbling around with skill checks; the point is to get to the end of the story — where no doubt everyone is turned into splatters.

GUMSHOE is a perfect fit for Cthulhu. You don’t need to be an illiterate track star. You can still be that uber college professor and run away. Run away! AIIII!

PURIST vs PULP

Trail is set in the 30s where, yes, there are Nazis. And where there are Nazis, there are guns and planes and tanks and Socialists and Swinging Archeologists and other such tropes. Trail provides two modes of play: PURIST and PULP.

I get people want to play Cthulhu in all its deadly, terrible, horror glory. And that is what PURIST is for — as close to a simulation of the old BRP system with high levels of DEATH. A great thing for those who love difficulty in their gaming and where a gun is going to kill you.

Then there is PULP. PULP is where you get to shoot Cthulhu. In the face. Or ram him with a boat — HP Lovecraft’s preferred Cthulhu Removal Device. But who doesn’t want to shoot a tentacle or two? It might seem a little silly but hoards of evil cults with dark books that cast horrible spells are also a little silly. So is Hitler on his quest for the Spear of Longinus. It’s all silly, but sometimes, horror calls for a little pulp horror.

Dark horror vs. the Mummy. I find I want to run the game in PULP mode. Who said Cthulhu wasn’t high adventure?  When isn’t the dark spawn of the universe high adventure?

The Awesome of the Call-Out Boxes

RPGs almost always have these inset boxes with little bits of random information or skills or stats or tables or whatever in them. They tend to be a bit lame; I find them annoying and want to read around them. In Trail read the call-out boxes because they’re the best parts. Either about the 30s or how to build cults (please add cults!) or about Gods (please don’t add more Gods!) or creeping totalitarianism, they are all wonderful. The boxes are plentiful and worth the price of the book alone. They don’t contain any rules, per se, but they are so chock full of goodness that it is worth sitting there with the book and flipping from call-out box to call-out box.

I need to mention the call-out boxes because they are so deeply wonderful.

Oh, and while I am talking about the call-out boxes with all their wonder, the section on the Cthulhu Elder Gods/Outer Gods is superb and packed with so many incredibly insane ideas for running plots it is hard to talk about it without waving hands around incoherently. One small sentence about Elder Gods as meme loads was so compelling it was a hot topic in my house for three days. If you’re into CoC at all, this is worth getting to juice up campaigns and take them to 11.

And Overall…

I can gush about Trail of Cthulhu for a long time. Much of the original Call of Cthulhu (5th Edition) was preserved from one edition to the next. It’s all here: the Gods, the Monsters, the Cults, the Horrible Books, the Spells, the must and the rain, the horrible New England cities. The Cults section is wonderful**** and full of juicy goodness of evil. The GM section on how to build an adventure from the Horror to the Beginning and then through a list of clues is also very helpful — the advice is spot-on for crafting a horror based adventure.

Me? I am picky about my Cthulhu. I don’t like no d20 editions or LARP editions or Savage Realms. I don’t do Cthulhu card games.  In my mind, it is the crumbling second copy of CoC 5th Edition. This is the only worthy successor and it’s glorious.

So I’m fanboying a little bit. I do that on very rare occasions because I’m a curmudgeon and I hate everything. But this is truly, honestly a great version of Cthulhu. It is not Call — it’s a different system — but Trail is an excellent game with compulsively readable text that has ideas and stuff packed into every corner and page. Is it worth the $40? Yes. Would I run it? In pulp mode, yes. Would I play it? Definitely. Can I recommend it? Oh hell yes.

Go buy it. Stop reading blog posts! I bought my PDF+Hard cover bundle from Indie Press Revolution right here.


* The only work by Faulkner I ever liked. A tiny bit of excellent gothic horror.
** Always 5th Edition.
*** Okay, maybe we do. It’s Cthulhu. Those glasses of water are dangerous as hell.
**** And one section turned into a new supplement, the Booksellers of London.

Originally published at /project/multiplexer. You can comment here or there.

katie nom nom

Knitting is Nerdier than RPGs

I sort of have this long-running argument with myself: What, precisely, is nerdier than RPGs? I have used RPGs* as the ANSI Standard for Nerd for a long time. It’s not so much that it’s fantasy or science fiction and people sitting in a basement pretending to do fantasy and science-fiction things as much as the sheer pointless bookkeeping. Books and stats and monsters and endless rules discussions down to hyper minute.

Now a days, RPGs have taken a step away from that nerdy brink. The rulesets are getting cleaner, the adoption getting wider, and zillions of people play them online in MMORPGs. Popular RPGs are based on even more popular mass media. Even the uninitiated no longer finds that hand of Satan, D&D, to be frightening any more. After all, the ruleset has been streamlined into the core of kill things and take stuff to the point where it is reduced on convenient character class cards.

I began to reposition myself to the definition of ANSI Standard for Nerd (much like NIST I must, about once a decade, revisit my published definitions) and began to settle on a deeper, more grognard activity: Fantasy Baseball. I cannot even begin to fathom the depths of Fantasy Baseball. I can only admire its shining contours: the many websites, the pages of statistics, the arguments over pitching styles, the battle.** I was content that Fantasy Baseball encompassed the dark beer-spilled smells of deep blackness of the Internet forum while RPGs crawled forth from the sewers and burst into mainstream heralded by Big Bang Theory on Prime Time.

Then I hit the dehaired llama yarn review.

Okay, so. It is not enough to shave a llama and make a sweater from its hair. No, one must first shave a llama, harvest its delicious undercoat (and perhaps its meaty brain pods) and then fuse the delicious undercoat with strains of cotton grown on a certain plantation during a certain time of the year to blend to create just the right softness to use in that single skein that cannot produce even a full pair of socks. And the hair must be knitted with just the right steel — not wood, as wood will catch — needles of the tiniest width to create a garment just so. And for added goodness we’re going to throw in strange beasts called cables which no one quite understands except for the cabal that lives in the basement among their walls of books and gear and who cackle in the night and then launch themselves upon internet BBSs to argue for the greatness of the dehaired llama who is, by this time, really cold. This isn’t a hobby — this is a plot of a neo-post-Lovecraftian horror story wherein the dehaired llama hair with cotton blend is used to break through the ether that separates the line between reality and a composite reality full of awesome.

And when knitters come together knitters speak a strange language of nuance and jumbled letters and comments incomprehensible by those on the outside. They squat among their piles of books full of arcane languages of fibers and fibercraft and spinning and dyes and needles and hooks and techniques and stitches all to make, in the end, probably nothing because, much like RPGs, if the pattern is boring it is abandoned for the newer, the stranger, the front page of this season’s Vogue Knitting.

After a year of concentrated researcher and thought, I now can follow the basic flow of conversation on a single knitting forum. And even then! After the initiation of correctly executing a heel turn, even then I can only follow the basic contours! I dare not post to be exposed as… still… a mere newbie.

Much like RPG stores, knitting stores have their own bizarre personalities. Their own lines of yarn, lines of tools, locals who hang out on the couches day in and day out and knit (often the same sock over and over), who either APPROVE of your knitting style or DISAPPROVE of your knitting style and will FROWN at you until you flee with a new book and a skein in hand. Either you pass through the initiation of walking through the door or you do not; but what you never do is ask after crochet because the end of that road lies only doom.

I have been told Quilting is a deeper abyss than even knitting. Quilters are mad, they tell me. They roam the landscape in herds going to shows and symposiums and seek out quilting shops full of odd machines and strange bolts of fabric. I lower quilters below the ANSI Standard — they are beyond comprehension, even beyond dehaired llamas and Fantasy Baseball and even the odd Traveler campaign.

Frankly, I think I own about par of knitting “gear” (skeins, books, bags of tools) as I do gaming “gear.” They both take up about the same amount of space (a shelf on a bookcase, a big basket of stuff under a table) physically and mentally. And I find it about the same talking knitting and gaming — often to the same audience.

But whenever someone tells me gaming is nerdy, I flip through a knitting magazine and say… “If you think so, you should see some of this.”


* Role playing games, not Rocket Propelled Grenades. Although Rocket Propelled Grenades are pretty nerdy, too!
** “It’s all about the battle.” — Sports Night

Originally published at /project/multiplexer. You can comment here or there.

katie nom nom

Piano

For Christmas I bought a Yamaha Clavinova CLP digital piano from Jordan Kitt’s Music in College Park, MD. It is not the sexiest digital piano ever conceived but it has 88 gravity-weighted touch-sensitive keys, an excellent fully sampled grand piano sound and, most importantly, a headphone jack for silent playing. And while it doesn’t hold up to an actual grand, it feels much better than a plastic synthesizer with spring-loaded keys.

Mostly I bought the piano for Katie because I have this idea in my head that Katie’s life will be much richer if she has music hardwired in her brain. But I decided, what the hell, I would learn how to play, too, simply from constant practice and staring at the little numbers on the sheet music for hints where to put my hands.

I can read music (treble and bass clef) fine. I have a head full of music theory. I understand how music is built. I don’t need books and videos full of “this is middle C.” I need to just play — scales, hand strengthening exercises, easy to intermediate pieces. Scale runs up and down the keyboard with my left hand. I bought a book full of technique (keep the thumb in, how to go up and down scales in 3-4-3 formation, wrists up, proper posture, how to stretch with thumb or pinky for the leap) and another book full of “Early Intermediate Songs” (better known as lead and bass part together) and went to town.

The first month was constant pain for my left hand which wasn’t used to my pinky having to move anywhere — it has had no feeling for 15 years due to arthritis. Month #2 wasn’t too much better. But I’ve noticed that the playing has become smoother — muscle memory is starting to kick in. Things are easing up.

I suck horribly. I won’t remove the headphones to force people to listen to me work through Bach’s Minuet in G Minor with pain. But it all does seem to be, at day’s end, about muscle memory and endless practice if one already has a head full of theory. My muscles are starting to remember. That is the baseline: for your hands to figure out consistently where the A key is without having to look or hunt-and-peck, it’s two months of practice, minimum 30 minutes/day.

Meanwhile, Katie is having faster and faster recognition of what notes go with what keys and what fingers to press what keys when it says so she is already making progress. She is starting to figure out that practice == getting better == playing more awesome little songs.

Oh! I can recommend the clavinova for anyone who has limited space and/or resources but still wants a piano that plays like a real one. I am jonsing to plug it into my Macbook through its MIDI interface and see what sort of havoc I can enact. I need cables, though.

Originally published at /project/multiplexer. You can comment here or there.

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Maryland Ren Fest, Tom Stoppard and SPX

Maryland Ren Fest: We took Katie for the first time since she was very small, and she loved it. She got to run around in a princess dress, get her face painted, get her hair braided, ride a pony, play in bubbles, and eat deep fried macaroni n’ cheese on a stick. I finally bought the boots I had been eying for five years. Unfortunately, it started to rain on us around 4 and it was not the sort of rain you can just wait out. We went back to my parent’s house and then we left Katie to spend the night.

Tom Stoppard: Once home, we watched a little Tivo and then watched the 1990 production of Tom Stoppard’s Rosenkrantz and Guildestern are Dead. I had forgotten how wonderful the dialogue is, how hot a young Gary Oldman was, and how much I enjoyed the artistic structure of the play. Unfortunately, I was falling asleep at the end but I still need to own a copy on DVD.

SPX: … and I went to SPX in the afternoon! I nearly exploded in the squee of happiness. I also have far less money but I have far more comic books. I cruised all the tables leaving behind a little trail of butterflies and rainbows in the air wherever I went. I did notice that, since the last time I went to SPX, the quality of the mid-tier comics has really picked up. Also, last time I went the porn – comics ratio was fairly high but this time actual comics outweighed the porn about 20:1. I still don’t have any interest in hand-drawn super-artsy books on xeroxes and stapled together. I like my books to be books and I’m enough of a snob that I do put a huge amount on production values. I also refused to buy anything I could get off the web trivially or pick up in a Barnes and Noble. I must support my favorite artists who are awesome! I ended up with a huge haul:

Never Learn Anything from History by Kate Beaton with a little drawn FAT PONY in the front cover;

Beards of our Forefarthers, Clever Tricks to Stave Off Death and the Annotated Wondermark, all Wondermark collections by David Malki!

To Afghanistan and Back by Ted Rall who drew a whole little Osama bin Laden for me on the front page;

Dignifying Science and Bone Sharps, Cowboys and Thunder Lizards by Jim Ottaviani. He was a little taken back by someone showing insane enthusiasm over his science comics but Two-Fisted Science was one of the best collections on 20th century science I had ever read. I was being evangelizing it to the Unsuspecting around me. He threw in a copy of Charles R. Knight: Autobiography of an Artist.

The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook by Eleanor Davis for Katie Rose. The production value on this book is spectacular and the whole team did a full color picture for Katie on the frontspiece.

From Top Shelf Books, a copy of the Surrogates (Robert Venditti and Brett Weldele) and VEEPS: Profiles in Insignificance by Bill Kelter and Wane Shellabarger. How was I supposed to pass up a book on Vice Presidents? You tell me that because I could not. I was beholden.

Sadly, all the books for Rice Boy were gone by midway through yesterday. But woo! Comics!

Now I must disappear to read.

Originally published at /project/multiplexer. You can comment here or there.

katie nom nom

Dob Update

We took the Dob out for real this evening because the evening was incredibly clear just as the sun went down. While Katie Rose was antsy while the telescope was positioned we were able to see:

- Some amazing cratering on the moon.
- The rings of Saturn and Titan.

The Dob was able to split the rings. Of course, nothing stayed in the view for very long because the Dob is manual and doesn’t have a worm gear to hold tracking, but for a little telescope, the optics were quite spectacular.

Katie got to see lunar details and the rings of Saturn from the driveway. Orion was a bust, but all in all, a pretty amazing success.

Originally published at /project/multiplexer. You can comment here or there.

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Amigurumi!

I buy yarn and turn it into stuffies!

I have made several things — scarves, mostly — but they haven’t been terribly interesting. Katie really liked the one I made for my Mom but otherwise they’ve just been scarves.

Then I decided to graduate to much more difficult crochet and started making amigurumi! These stuffies are tons of fun to make and they’re utterly adorable when they’re done. The first one I completed was a purple octopus but I didn’t have plastic eyes yet so I had to make the eyes. He turned out pretty good, and I am likely going to make him a pal. Katie immediately kidnapped him and now the purple octopus lives in Katie’s bed.

The more impressive amigurumi I made was the pink bunny in the white dress. The dress came out so-so, but the bunny came out spectacularly adorable. I can always make another dress, or a couple of dresses. The bunny is small and squeezable. By tomorrow morning, the bunny will also be stolen.

I love yarn you can squeeze! Yay!

Originally published at /project/multiplexer. You can comment here or there.