Leigh Sampson-Seitz invited me to co-host his podcast, to add a laymen view point on medical healthcare. While I know nothing about healthcare, I do have an opinion on just about everything, which makes me at least as qualified as Jenny McCarthy to talk about such things, so I readily accepted the invitation.
WOW, it has been over a month since my last post. I have not really been doing much, which is probably why I have not posted much. Today is the last day of my spring vacation. I did absolutely nothing of value. I spent most of the week on my computer wasting time. I did get a little writing done and I added a 2nd monitor to my computer, not really because I needed to all that much, but more like, I have these 3 monitors laying around not doing anything.
My next vacation I am going back to Montana, that will be in June. I decided to go back during the summer this year, because holiday travel kind of sucks and I do not really want to risk being exposed to a lot of snow, I got lucky the last few trips back. I am also going across a weekend so no one has to take time off from work. We can have a family get together over the weekend, then I can spend time with some old friends and make a day trip to Bozeman.
I wish I had more to talk about, but I don’t.
I suppose it had to happen, this spring Hasbro (the parent company to Wizards of the Coast) is releasing a new version of the D&D starter set. This version will be tied into the Netflix original series Stranger Things. The new set includes revised rules for the game, although you will still need either a Players Handbook or the downloadable basic rules to play and some dice. More interestingly, the adventure included is “The Hunt for Thessalhydra”, the adventure Mike Wheeler is running at the beginning of the 2nd season and the Player Characters being used by the group in the show. Oddly, the miniatures included with the set are of neither a Thessalhydra or Demogorgon from the first season, but rather the petal faced demon. I get it, TV show tie in, blah blah, I just found it odd is all.
I think this is a great idea for a couple of reasons, first because it will attract new players. Hopefully some fans of the show will decide to check it out and some percentage of those fans will continue to the game long after. Secondly, this shows Hasbro is interested in building a long term strategy for D&D and bring D&D into the mainstream by occasionally printing these tie in products. I would not mind it at all if starter sets became an evergreen product as a gateway to the more complex game.
Who knows, I may even use this to kick off my next campaign, due to start either later this year or early next year. It really depends on the level of the module, I suspect it will be a 1st level module, but judging by the TV show, it may be a mid level adventure for 5th plus level characters, it is hard to say.
The good: There is a lot to like in this book. It puts a modern spin on some old ideas. I like the idea of not letting the regret of past actions or worry for future actions take you out of what is important right now. I really do think we spend a lot of time and energy worrying about things we really have no control over and it is a good thing to concentrate of the things we do have control over, which are all in the here and now.
I would dearly love to be able to shut down my thinking, at least occasionally and just be happy with where I am and what I am doing. I have never been able to meditate, more because i never understood why I should, but this book gives a good clear answer as to why meditation is good and can help you, although he does not go into meditation directly, I can see where it would be helpful. It also explained very nicely why some processes I use seem to work so well for me. Like when I have a problem I cannot solve, setting it aside and doing something else allows the answer to come from somewhere deeper inside me. I knew this worked for me, but I did not understand why it works for me.
I also really liked the idea of listening to yourself talk in your head and separating yourself from it so you can judge if what it is saying the correct thing, or if its just going off into directions that may not be the best option. I have always known there were two voices in my mind, the loud one and the one that is much softer and is often more like feeling than conscience thought. Reading this book, I realized the loud voice is basically a hammer I use to pound on problems with, while the other is more nuanced, that I often ignore.
The bad: I kind of felt like he was talking down to me throughout the book. I felt he expected me to “Just Get It” and when I did not, I felt myself resisting what he was trying to teach me. I also felt he was trying to sell me on something, which also caused some resistance in my acceptance of his message.
The ugly: The author is really not a very good writer, besides the above mentioned condescension, he also tended to repeat himself and towards the end of the book I found the repetitive nature of his writing style to wear thin. I also did not care for the question and answer format of the book, it made it feel like I should have already been familiar with his work and that I was missing something important, like I had not done my homework so to speak.
Overall, it is a pretty good book, it was well worth the read. However, if this is your first book of spirituality, I would suggest going for something a little simpler, perhaps a good book on meditation. This will help you understand some of the concepts he kind of expects you to have already grasped. He does have a book he wrote later Practicing the Power of Now, which I have not read, but is supposed to give you a basic framework and help you integrate his ideas into everyday life. In retrospect, I should have read that book first.
This is one of those books I knew I was going to love in the first chapter. Most post apocalyptic stories these day tend to be dark and grim, even when the hero wins all they have done is survive another day. This book, in spite of the “End of the World” story line, is pretty up beat, it is not just about people trying to not die, it is about people who are genuinely trying to make the world a better place. Not through defeating some evil villain or by trying to bring back the old world in some grand gesture style quest. But rather these people are doing small things, like going from town to town playing music and performing theater, or building a museum in an airport terminal. Don’t get me wrong, there is some action adventure going on and there is plenty of grittiness, it is just not the overall theme of the book. I am 100% sure I will eventually read this book again.
Ralph Bakshi’s Wizards is one of my favorite movies. It is a classic heroes journey tale told by a 1970’s stoner. The movies detractors complain that the animation is awful, the story is uneven, silly characters and it is terribly dated. I agree with only one of these things, the movie did not age well at all. However, I do not think this is a bad thing. Many movies made decades ago are now dated, but still considered classics. The animation of this movies was and is actually very good, it has bright colors and made good use of the tertiary color schemes. The retroscoping was definitely a low point, but really only because it was so different from the rest of the movie.
The story on its surface was simply about good versus evil, two brothers hashing out their differences. However under the surface, we see a world that has been devastated by war, pollution and excesses of greed. A world which is once again on the brink of destruction. While much of the movie is in fact a bit goofy, but there are many iconic scenes that pointed to deeper issues. For instance the scene where Blackwolfs army goes to the church and asks the priests to take the prisoners of war, the priests say “Patience. We must first observe sundown and pray.” and then promptly danced and prayed for hours before the soldiers finally killed the prisoners. This draws attention to how often religion does nothing in the face adversity, preferring instead to pray and let god sort it out, rather than taking action. The classic “They killed Fritz” scene is another good example, it is a satirical look at soldiers dying from friendly fire. The whole movie is a commentary on the dangers of war and unrestrained industrialization.
While I am talking about iconic things, many of the characters are very iconic. Avatar, the wise cracking, cigar smoking hero. Weehawk, the brave and fierce elven warrior. Blackwolf, the most evil man in the world. Necron 99/Peace, the assassin turned good guy. Then of course there was Elinore, I am pretty sure Elinore played a big part in my life during puberty. I can remember at least one conversation at the time about how sexy Princess Leia was and my comment was, “Yeah, I’d do Princess Leia, but I would be thinking about Elinore.”.
In spite of what anyone says Wizards is a great movie, every time I watch it, I see something new and laugh at gags I have seen a dozen times, because they are still funny.
Let us bow our heads in a moment of silence for Anorak, my War Domain Cleric 1/Wizard 6. He was lost to a bad draw on a Deck of Many Things in tonights game. He drew Donjon and is now imprisoned somewhere unknown. He was kind of a dick, so he will be missed by no one.
I enjoyed playing Anorak, he was a proof of concept character I had been working on to resolve the “Wizard AC is supposed to suck” problem. The proof of concept worked really well and for awhile there, he had the best AC in the party. As he developed as a character, he became the party strategist who successfully turned the tide of three important battles. In spite of that I was kind of uncomfortable playing him, because he had also developed into kind of a jerk. I had not intended for him to be as such, but went in that direction anyway. Don’t get me wrong, I did not hate playing him, in fact just the opposite. Yes, he was uncomfortable to play him, but he was also a deeply interesting character to play.
Sometimes characters develop in ways you really never intended, sometimes this is fun , and sometimes its uncomfortable. It could easily be argued that I had total control over the character and could have made him not a jerk. I don’t agree with that entirely, a good roleplayer allows events to change the character, the character should react and respond as events unfold. Like people in real life, characters in D&D should respond to those changes. In real life, when bad things happen to us, we either rise up to the occasion or we sink into the swamp. I have had many characters rise up to the occasion, in Anorak’s case, he was sinking into the swamp, not unlike a soldier with untreated PTDS. He was doing increasingly dangerous things, and at one point he coldly unloaded a Wand of Fireballs into an enemy with one of his team members standing right next to her, with no regard for the other characters life or safety, yeah he was being a dick and this ultimately lead to his removal from the game as karma took its toll.
While I am sure the other players are not sad to see Anorak go, I kind of am. Not only was he an interesting experiment in game mechanics, but he was an interesting experiment in how being a professional dungeon crawler might adversely affect someones emotional well being. Not all adventurers are cut out for the work, not all characters are meant to be the hero of the story, even if at the beginning, it looks like he is.