Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Gaming review: Risk 2210 A.D.

Oh, and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Risk 2210 was an unexpected Christmas gift, and it's one of the few games I'd appreciate stocked in "normal" stores, although Catan is becoming rapidly widely known in American households.

To find out what I mean by "normal" and what I play, I refer you to, a website I barely know about, don't use, but nonetheless have respect for.

When first seeing the gift, I had mixed feelings, because of the handful of modern, alternative Risk games to emerge in the last decade this was not one that I had played nor had an intent to add to my collection. I had high opinions of Risk: Godstorm and Lord of the Rings Risk, and still do. But I ended up pleasantly surprised.

Well, to quickly compare and contrast this game (2210) with Risk: LOTR and Godstorm, I think this game falls somewhere in the middle, having some of the characteristics of both. Like LOTR (Lord of the Rings), there are leaders who grant you advantage and strongholds which give you greater defense. But in LOTR the cards don't really affect gameplay, as I recall, just endgame scoring and player strategy. In Godstorm, the cards effected gameplay which I really liked but I don't recall the "Gods" being as easy to get into play nor as useful in and of themselves. And 2210's Moon seemed much more useful and productive than the Afterworld of Godstorm. I haven't played eiher LOTR or Godstorm in over a year, so I might easily be misremembering some things. It could very well be that the players years ago just weren't using the Afterwolrd to good effect.

One bonus 2210 has that neither of the others do: it can be played according to the classic rules. The map is basically the same, just renamed. Players simply ignore changes to the board and to newer peices, ignore the ocean colonies and the moon. I think that's a great effeciency.

I need to do some googling on my subject matter, so I will put more here later. Time is running out on this computer. Sorry.

what have you read by Chas King?

AKA Captain Charles "Chas" King, veteran of the Indian Wars of the Southwest.

I haven't read anything by him, and I believe the typical reader hasn't even heard of him. I hadn't until earlier today, when I came across a brief mention of him in a biography of Edgar Rice Burroughs that I am reading, Tarzan Alive.

Captain King was briefly the commandant of a military academy that ERB attended as a high-school-age youth, and made a lasting impression on him, and the two authors were in touch at least until ERB's The War Chief.

He is described as little known today except among buffs of the Indian Wars, but that in his day (1890-ish) King was widely read and well regarded.

So, I wanna look him up. Might be tricky if his books are as obscure as they sound, despite the fact he wrote 60 something of them, IIRC. The local library has none, which is no surprise, so tell you later.

On a similar note, did you know Charles Darwin's father (or was it his grandfather?) wrote environmental-themed poetry? I plan to look that up, also, given time.

Oh, and I just got Raintree County from the Library. That's on my stack now, along with The Sea Wolf by Jack London, Hiawatha by Longfellow and a few other good ones.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

what have you read by Robert Westbrook?

Well, this follows immediately on the heels of 'What have your read by John LeCarre' and I though about simply updating that blog post, but I decided to more accurate sequence was appropriate.

Well, as I said before, I was reading 'The Saudi Connection' as my latest Westbrook installment, and I had great things to say. All that is as it was, but I was in the middle of the book, which was suspenseful and a page-turner, but shortly thereafter I finished the novel, and the last third left me displeased.

Perhaps the author was under pressure from his editors to wrap it all up. I don't know. But it was just all too convenient, and to make it convenient the characters were no longer true to themselves. My 'suspension of disbelief' was no longer persuaded to go along for the ride.

Even before that part of the story, there were moments where I could hardly beleive he had written things as they were. Common sense seemed to be discarded when it was inconvenient. Not explained away, which is tried and true, but simply overlooked and ignored.

Well, back to my original topic. I doubt most of my readers have heard of this author, but I have now read most of his Moon Deer mysteries plus I am in the middle of his biography of F. Scott. Fitzgerald. I just hope "being in the middle" doesn't end up how it did with "Saudi"


Saturday, December 11, 2010

what have you read by John le Carré?

(any advice on how to better capitalize his name, or did I do it correctly?)

Well, I was going to title this post "What have you read by Robert Westbrook" but I am sure I would have got far less readership, which really is hardly any different than any other title's readership I suppose. I also considered "What have you read by Jack Anderson" the Pulitzer Prize winning jounalist who's famous columns tackled Nixon and other daunting targets.

Self-response: nothing by Jack Anderson. Not my generation, although I have a certain respect for him via Robert Westrook's novel that I am reading, "The Saudi Connection" More on that later. As for Westbrook otherwise, I am in the middle or "Intimate Lies" which I am enjoying and previously I devoured his Moon Deer Mysteries while I lived out West. Well, sorta "out West" anyway.

Well, I have read "The Constant Gardener" a year ago or so, and loved it.
I am intending to read much more by him now that I have discovered him, or rather discovered how much I enjoy his work.
I own "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" in paperback.
I picked it up in paperback at a used book store. That's an advantage of discovering authors of yesteryear.

Anyway, right now I am in the middle of "The Saudi Connection" by Robert Westbrook (supposedly under the name of Jack Anderson). It's an international intrigue mystery, which is why it brought LeCarre to mind. In fact, I am having the precise same thrills reading this book by Westbrook, although I have to compunction admitting the mastery of LeCarre that Westbrook just doesn't quite rise to. He's close though, which I think of as very high praise.

I have a distinct problem with getting into the middle of books that I am really ernjoying them, but starting another book I am enjoying almost equally and otherwise becoming sidetracked. Argh.

It has many great lines, but this one caught my eye today:
"Clean underwear can do a lot for morale"
That is inconsequential, I suppose, but it made me smile ;-)

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Expedables: a review

This is a follow-up to an earlier post,

I have been wanting to see this movie for some time now (over half a year) and finally did last week, but this is my first chance to blog.

Considering all the mainstream actors, I was quite a bit disappointed at times. Sometimes not, sometimes yes.

Sadly, Charisma Carpenter's role was brief and limited to two scenes. Her role was pretty poorly done, but I don't think it was at all her fault. Upon looking at at least one quick shot of her with a trembling lip, I have to consider her doing the best acting the could be done with the part given her. She only had a few lines, and a pretty un-described (two-dimensional?) character.

I suppose that's in the director's and writer's control, not hers.

Beyond that, the story didn't have much of an beginning-middle-end feeling that a story should have. Although the film accomplish it's design I suppose, it's effect is basically one long action sequence. Some "breathers" and new locations and days, but pretty monotonous despite all the attention-getting violence. Very little character development or backstory, although I can justly say the film attempted to give a little "heart" to the characters and insofar as that goes, it was petty effective.

Monday, November 29, 2010

at the library...

When I am waiting not-so-patiently for an internet computer, I have a few non-fiction books I pick out of the shelves, but haven't yet checked out, to pass the time. I may later, but for now they are a convenient source, something to do. I read in one, then place it on the reshelving cart, and later pick up another one, sometimes all four in one day!

Currently my little stack includes:

The Great Smokies: From Natural Habitat to National Park by Daniel S. Pierce
North Carolina Rivers by John Hairr
The Moravian Community in Colonial North Carolina by Daniel B. Thorp
Discoverers: An Encyclopedia of Explorers and Exploration, ed. Helen Delpar

Of these four, I am the most impressed with 'The Great Smokies' which is suprisingly scholarly and a study in environmental science and natural history. I consider all four of these well worth my time reading, however.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Catan commentege

Lest I forget...

Everytime I play Catan (or Endeavor, or a few other games) I forget everything I learned last time I played, especially from the mistakes I made.

Well, I've decided to make a concerted effort to provide myself with a log of my gaming mistakes so I can learn from them.

In my recent game of Catan (a week ago by now; I've had trouble getting Internet time), I made my biggest mistake in allowing my opponents to cirsumvent my, by choosing too early to focus on upgrading into what I call castles. Roads before castles, moron! *Hits head* Second, I always seem to forget about my 4:1 trade with the bank. Its a bad option, but at least it's an option, that is if I remember about it. Third, although I don't think it was a crippling choice, placing my starting settlements distant from the key resources of lumber and brink was an oversight. I could have done trading for the early on, but going back to my other mistakes I built castles before roads, which allowed other players time to cut me off.

It was actually a very close game, and a good time, but I would have leaped into the lead if I had not made these oversights. And I don't like making mistakes, win or lose.

In short:
1) Roads before castles!
2) Brick and wood!
3) Remember the 4:1 option!

Quick update on my STCCG so-called Transwarp game.
Well, I have been making semi-frequent "tweaks" for quite a while now, and I need to post the newest deck list. I just added a Klingon with both SECURITY and Honor, both very Klingon traits. As a compromise to TrekSense, I removed the two Kazon-related dilemmas I had had, and that gave me the wonderful opportunity for Conundrum and Temporal Loop, both improving the game significantly I think. Players want an opportunity to battle, it seems, and temporal quicks are an essential part of the Trek experience.
Not that that will make much sense to people other than I and a few others like me ... haha

While I am blogging about gaming, I thought I'd comment on something I thought of more overtly recently than before. I would consider Catan, Citadels, and Carcassone to together be a milestone for the modern gamer. Once aquainted with these three, they have acheived what I consider a important familiarity with the gaming culture. To be frank, I am basing this on my own experience, my own entry into the gaming culture I didn't realize existed. And in large part I can be forgiven, because as I've heard tabletop board gaming as it now stands is a fairly recent thing, ushered in by Catan itself. At least for the American crowd. There have been "gaming culture" elements for a very long time, but the Catan-generation is something distinct.
Oh, and I am still reading "Intimate Lies"

Monday, November 22, 2010

Hydrogen Peroxide: A Simple Trick to Beat a Cold

Hydrogen Peroxide: A Simple Trick to Beat a Cold

It's a widespread misconception that colds are caused by bacteria. Colds are actually triggered by a virus, which means if your physician prescribes you an antibiotic, it will be absolutely useless.

I don't advise over-the-counter medications, but one simple treatment you can try that is surprisingly effective against upper respiratory infections is hydrogen peroxide.

Many patients at my Natural Health Center have had remarkable results in curing colds and flu within 12 to 14 hours when administering a few drops of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) into each ear. You will hear some bubbling, which is completely normal, and possibly feel a slight stinging sensation.

Wait until the bubbling and stinging subside (usually 5 to 10 minutes), then drain onto a tissue and repeat with the other ear. A bottle of hydrogen peroxide in 3 percent solution is available at any drug store for a couple of dollars or less. It is simply amazing how many people respond to this simple, inexpensive treatment.

So What Else Can You do to Recover From a Cold, Quicker … and Prevent One in the First Place?

As I said above, the number one way to conquer a cold (or flu) is vitamin D. Vitamin D is an amazingly effective antimicrobial agent, producing 200 to 300 different antimicrobial peptides in your body that kill bacteria, viruses and fungi. So optimizing your levels will not only help send a cold virus packing … it will help ward off cold viruses in the first place.

The best source for vitamin D is direct sun exposure. But for many of us, this just isn't practical during the winter. The next best option to sunlight is the use of a safe indoor tanning device. If neither natural nor artificial sunlight is an option, then using oral vitamin D3 supplements is your best bet.

Based on the latest research, many experts now agree you need about 35 IU's of vitamin D per pound of body weight. This recommendation also includes children, the elderly and pregnant women.

However, keep in mind that vitamin D requirements are highly individual, as your vitamin D status is dependent on numerous factors, such as the color of your skin, your location, and how much sunshine you're exposed to on a regular basis. So, although these recommendations may put you closer to the ballpark of what most people likely need, it is simply impossible to make a blanket recommendation that will cover everyone's needs.

The only way to determine your optimal dose is to get your blood tested. Ideally, you'll want to maintain a vitamin D level of 50-65 ng/ml year-round.

For an in-depth explanation of everything you need to know before you get tested, please read my latest updates in Test Values and Treatment for Vitamin D Deficiency.

Monday, November 15, 2010

what have you read of...these?

I have been reading a bit by Philip Jose Farmer, and he has mentioned various books I now want to look into.

Thus, I ordered a large stack from the library, and I can olny read a few of these by their due date(s), I am sure.

The Sea Wolf by Jack London
The Unsocial Socialist by Bernard Shaw
Song of Hiawatha and Other Poems by Longfellow

...and a few others that aren't as worthy of note.
Believe me, three books does not a stack make.
Farmer has also make me curious about Dostoyevsky and Dr. E. E. Smith.
I've been meaning to read some more Dickens for a long time now, too,
Should I be?

Zelda Fitzgerald

I am reading a partial biography of F. Scott Fitzgerald, and I got very curious as to why so much to-do was made of Zelda's looks. Well, now I have a new "Glorious Black and White" woman to add to my "list" along with Maureen O'Sullivan'Sullivan

Monday, November 8, 2010

How many teamsters does it take to change a lightbulb?

How many teamsters does it take to change a lightbulb?
Six, you got a problem with that?

How many production managers does it take to change a light bulb?
Four, but you can only have three!

How many electricians does it take to change a light bulb?
Only one -- they're really good at that kind of thing

How many grips does it take to change a light bulb?
Grips don't change light bulbs. That's Electric.

How many script supervisors does it take to change a light bulb?
Wait, which hand was it in?

How many art directors does it take to change a light bulb?
Does it have to be a lightbulb? I have this really great piñata.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Japan's Godzilla Statue

Erected around 1995, if I understand correctly, and in Hibiya, Tokyo (I haven't had the time to figure out yet if Hibiya is a district or burough or what.)

I am re-posting this because I hadn't heard of it before, being only casually aware of such things, despite my "putting on airs."

It's disappointingly small. Then, compared the toy figurines that are usually the only option, it's gargantuan.
The Monster Movie Fan's Guide to Japan strikes me as very interesting to note. I am grateful for the other bloggers putting the info out there for me to find.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What have you read by Philip José Farmer?

Oddly enough, I wasn't even aware of this author until these past two weeks. The reason it's odd is that he is a sci-fi author who has been one of the more famous (infamous?) writers since the 60s, and is to all accounts is partially responsible (if not largely) for science fiction reaching a level of maturity.

To whit, he is renowned for breaking some sci-fi taboos and conventions, or at least testing their flexibility. Thereby giving the entire genre a shove. He is particularly noted for adult themes of sexuality, romance, reproduction, but also religion.

Another reason my oversight is odd is that this author and I share many common interests. Tarzan, ERB, Opar, and even Willy Ley. And his themes of absurdity and confused unreality appeal to me greatly. His stories reek of the preposterous, and I love it. He also has a sense of simple fun, exuberance, revels in freedom. I have noted this factor among other authors. Some are fun, even when on a tragic subject, and others are grim even when on a fun subject.

I learned of him through a mention in another book, and at first I confused him with Philip K. Dick (who is in fact a similar author), and I knew for a fact I wanted to avoid any more Philip K. Dick (but my revulsion with him is another blog). I ordered some Farmer books from the library out of curiosity, intending only to look over them. Well, you know what they say about curiosity...

I'm on Tarzan Alive right now, just a fun romp in that world, and I've read a handful of short stories, and I have more waiting to be read.

Oh, I found this:

Farmer has got me interested in "Heritage of the Flaming God"
by Frank J. Brueckel and John Harwood, an essay examining the potentialities of an admittedly fictional Tarzan/Atlantis subject, Opar. World-building is fun, innit?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What's our GDP?

Here, I'm not talking about the Gross Domestic Product.
I'm musing on our Gross Domestic Potential (my term) for the U.S. It seems to me that the American people are wasting a HUGE about of time and effort on pretty much nothing, assuming they are looking for jobs like I am. Not only are we wasting our time, but we are wasting the time (at a net loss of productivity) of the prospective employers.

And that is multiplied many millions of times by all the jobsearching going on.

I know in my case, I spend hours a day, many days, simply typing away, other hours revising or discussing my resume, making online applications, e-mailing cover letters, attending jobsearch help groups, etc.

I'm not saying there is a solution; this may be the best we have. But, if so, this is awful.

More than all that, consider the huge sums of money being spent by the government on non-workers, in the form of unemployment benefits, food stamps, medicaid, etc.
To me, that is perhaps the worst of it.
I wonder what would happen if it were required for a person to be a substitute teacher or a bus driver to receive those benefits. Or, if they are medically excused, or otherwise legitimately, alternative public works projects? I mean, staff the soup kitchens and the libraries and toll-booths! Heck, maybe all those Tea Party activists on unemployment can spend some hours a day checking government accounting for corruption!

Bring back the WPA! Put all this unused potential to SOME sort of use! Can I just be a "conscientous objector" like for the armed forces, and do useful things that support the civic effort?

Does Nature have rights?

Quick side note: The Whirlpool of Life blog got me interested in the Bioneers Conference and movement.

I have been meaning to post on the topic of what I might call ecosystem rights, the ethical right for a natural space to exist with the least impact possible, including not only animal species, but also plants and even air soil and water.

Whenever I see a natural area despoiled and especially razed unnecessarily for a building project, I feel like I have witnessed a crime. A crime against nature. True, I'm seen as a bleeding-heart complainer by some, but I think this ethical question bears discussion.

We talk about crimes against humanity. But that's a modern idea. In the past, there were no such ideas. In fact, proponents of this concept of nature rights are quick to point out that slavery, including abuse of and murder of, were not so long ago strictly a matter of property.

I have to wonder, is it meaninful to say that an ecosystem "wants" to remain natural? Well, it is certainly meaningful to say that a dog wants something, so sentience is not absolutely required. Bees have instinct, but thats understood to be different. A vine slowly clasps another plant to reach farther sunward. One can easily argue it is foolish to describe that as "wanting" in the sense we understand it, but I'm not so sure.

I am reminded of historical sites also. Before there was protection of such heritage sites, they were often simply plowed over as needed. Disregarded. Destroyed. So, is it enough to merely protection for nature? Or would "rights" be more accurate?

Many of these ideas (well, most) I have gotten from Garrett Hardin's "Tragedy of the Commons" and other associated works published as "Managing the Commons". Although that book has been around since the 70s, I don't hear too much about it.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Rabbits are fickle and have sex a lot

I am re-blogging this from Nariane, just because I feel like it.

* 1. What is your favourite word?
I prefer not to prognosticate, although I will stay abreast of the issue, that is when I get off my fundament.

* 2. What is your least favourite word?
"Maybe later" comes to mind but that's two words.

* 3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

I'm inclined to be as honest as Nariane, but my answer would be most simply fun in its various forms, but especially from an unexpected direction.

* 4. What turns you off?
Mean people suck.

* 5. What is your favourite curse word?

* 6. What sound or noise do you love?
Laughter, and especially innocent giggling. I might have some other answer, but Nariane's former one stuck in my head.

* 7. What sound or noise do you hate?

Hate is a very strong word. I would have to reserve that for extremely offensive language used in public with supreme disregard for other human beings. For instance, I'm not black, but when I hear someone casually use the "N-word" in public, I'm not a happy camper.

* 8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Hmm, Coast Guard. I am curious what I would have been doing during the Gulf Oil fiasco if I have used the Coast Guard to become a staff biologist, but now I'm too old. I have other answers, but those seem more like "fantasies" than real ideas.

* 9. What profession would you not like to do?
I don't want to ever wipe asses for a paycheck again!

* 10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Close enough.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Job Hunt Woes: The Next Episode

I really should be actively jobhunting rather than blogging, especially since I am after all at the public library, but I am fighting a sense of hopeless fatigue. And I'm not tired, per se. In fact, I haven't done much of anything the last few days except make some calls. But it's the culmulative effect of it all. Please bear with me. (Or is it "bare with me"? I'm not sure)

Well, two major things have happened lately that feel worthy of a blog.
One, I've been turned away and rejected and delayed by a number of places I thought would be better. It makes me feel real sorry for people actually desperately in need.

The YMCA is not what it once was. I remember when the YMCA was a place people went when they needed help; where homeless people could go if they had nothing else. I got turned away the first time because I had to have this document and that document and that form filled out. I had to get an income verification from my former employer plus bring my tax returns from last year. One, isn't that private stuff I might not want to be sharing with everyone? Two, getting all that together was a chore that used my resources that a truly desperate person wouldn't have. And God forbid I had lost the tax forms.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Hahaha...Gila Monster horror movie rock song

I think this is great, but my sense of humor is a little off from the mainstream.
Part of what is great is that this marries my love for natural science and monster movies and music. The rock song portion itself isn't bad, but is nothing amazing.

I want to send this to my friend in the Herps Dept at the Tulsa Zoo, but I'm not sure if I still have an e-mail for them. I think it's make a great novelty outside the Gila Monster exhibit.

Speaking of which, have you heard of the unsubstantiated European mystery lizard known as the tatzelwurm?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

what have you read by Gene Roddenberry?

The guy didn't write all that much for print (or that was published), from what I can tell.

But I am really enjoying at the moment the novelization of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, purportedly by Gene Roddenberry.

I hate to question the intellectual property of so great a man (in my worldview), but I have become fairly skeptical of "ghost writers"

I need to do some research into the matter, as I am doing while I am blogging today, but whatever the matter, the matter stands that Gene Roddenberry had quite a hand in this book and film and I can feel fairly confident it is truthful to how Roddenberry viewed things.

This novelization is a few decades old, and as such doesn't "jive" well with the current Trek universe, the one I've come to know. Such disparity strikes me as jarringly as if the author wrote in different laws of physics than I know are accepted.

Actually, it's a bit refreshing. But, moreover, I have been made to see, thru this book and others, especialls Echos and Refractions, that Captain Kirk as a character has been handled quite inconsistently. Remember Kirk's son, David? I (like many fans I imagine) had let that memory slip to the back of my mind, and didn't consider Kirk's lingering pain over the loss. Or was there lingering pain? It wasn't discussed. And the novelization talks about Kirk as a lover of books, a visitor of historical sites, someone who enjoys research in a museum for pleasure. That's not the Kirk that's been shown to me, that I can recall. I mean, there are glimpses and suggestions, but few things that bring that to the fore, except that Kirk always seemed quite well-read and wise as far as strategic decisions go.

Well, then again, this is all all all fiction and entertainment and storytelling by many different people. So, it hardly matters to much, except insofar as my own entertainment goes. It DOES matter to me, but not in a universal way that really matters, if that makes any sense.

Job hunt links and useful tips I've collected

And a small update: nothing to report. So far. I appreciate all the well-wishes, though.

I will post more here in a sec. But until then, I appreciate the well-wishes.

I have found some useful links, and I will post these.

I have also heard some useful pieces of advice, and I also would like to post these.
Get on LinkedIn.
I haven't had any luck from that quarter myself, but it seems like a good idea, and moreover gives me confidence, which I can sure use. Moreover, it gives me the appearance of professionalism that I could point to.
When you descibe yourself, don't talk about WHO you are but rather WHAT you can do for that employer. For instance, despite my varied experience and credentials, the most important thing I should say is "I will ensure that your customers have a good experience." That's more or less what I have done in pretty much all my jobs, even when I wasn't primarily working with people.
Accomplishments: distinguish yourself from other canidates with similar past titles.
Get a CPR and/or First Aid credentials, easily available thru such as Red Cross, and pretty cheap and pretty easy to get. The sad truth is that no one has to be all that good at CPR to get the certificate. But it looks very good.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Have you read 'Tragedy of the Commons'?

Neither have I actually. Yet.
It's a book by Garrett Hardin on ecological issues, and has extremely impressed me. In fact, it may just be the most impressive non-fiction book I have EVER come across, due the sheer density of important ideas that need to be said. I heard about this scholarly work in an environmental health class in college, and finally looked it up.

What I found on Ebay was "Managing the Commons" which is a anthology of collected works dealing with this subject, but includes 'Tragedy of the Commons' and is edited by Hardin and partially written by along with another impressive scholar-editor Baden.
This paperback was a mere 73 cents plus $4 shipping. I am floored by that.

Anyway, I'm only though the introduction and first chapter, and already I have such a terribly high opinion of the book. I feels like ecological issues risen to the level of high philosophy or even theology. In fact, I have decided to apply those labels to this blog, out of respect for the authorship.

As far as I can best explian it, the book is a mediation on the overexploitation of unprotected natural resources and related issues, such a population growth, human nature, and even political systems.

In other news, I finally bought "Hey, That's My Fish" last weekend. I am so happy with it! I played it repeatedly with my family Saturday night, and it was a rousing success. It's described on one website at least as "abstract strategy" which I feel is an appropriate and fun label! Now, onward.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

classic radio book adaptations

I just saw this post, and if I had Internet access I'd really enjoy this I think. I really think people should attempt to simplify their lives. I've really enjoyed news over radio, NPR, BBC, etc, and considered it a much better way of getting my news versus any television news.

If I had my technological ducks all in a row, I'd really enjoy listening to some of these old radio adaptations while in the car. (haha, I just had this mental image of crazed mechanical cyborg ducks on a rampage...haha...I watch too much scifi sometimes)

Oh, speaking of scifi, I just finished "Star Trek: Myriad Universes: Echos and Refractions" I have comments. I loved the first two novellas, but I am increasing displeased by the third. The author of the third seems not to understand his Trek characterization, and above all that bugs me. Otherwise, his story seems pretty good. However, I don't know if I will read the ending (it's that lousy) so I'm not sure I am appropriate to judge the story. I have been a fan of KRAD for years, ever since Diplomatic Implausibility and Demons of Air and Darkness. Geoff Trowbridge is an author I'd not read before, but I am going to be avid about looking for new works by him. The author I didn't like I will consciencously look for and avoid.
Overall though I'd highly recommend this book, because 2 out of 3 were a VERY good read.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Jennifer Aniston on 'The Daily Show'
August 19, 2010 - Jennifer Aniston
Team Mohammed debates Team Jesus, and Jennifer Aniston remembers her date with Jon.

This came as a surprise, and confound it I don't have enough computer access to watch it!

Apparently, Jennifer Aniston makes a comment (or joke? I dunno) about her having had dated Jon Stewart once upon a time.

I am rather suprised to find this available simply point-and-click on the web. I missed the whole rise of uTube type videos. I was first in college, and otherwise occupied, then buried in the near poverty of an internship in which I "gave up" most media for a while.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Field ecologist for macroinvertebrates this summer

My job is winding down swiftly, so I thought I should toot my horn while I still had something to toot about. My seasonal position ends Sept 3, in just a couple weeks. I've gotten done pretty much all of my immediate assignments, and now I'm just finding useful things to do. But, with macroinvertebrates, they breed so fast, that the job is never done and always changing.

It's time for a reality check. I work for the local county's Public Health Dept as seasonal help in their Mosquito Control Program. We're not even a Control District. Just a Program. But I feel pretty validated in describing myself as a field ecologist for macroinvertebrates. I observe and study much more than mosquitoes, but these are my primary concern. As is appropriate, considering why I get paid. I crawl through creekbottoms and trudge through wetlands, as well as urban environments such as junk yards and residential neighborhoods. I collect specimens and bring them back to the lab for identification, in addition to applying larvicidal treatments.

Some people would approach this job as simply a job, or as public service, or as healthcare, or even sanitation. I chose ecology, and in fact I am pretty sure that's why I was hired. Because I am willing and eager to get out there and observe what is going on and take action if need be. I'm no expert at this, and hope that I don't sound like I claim to be. But, what I do do is go out into the feild and get my hands dirty. Or muddy, as the case may be.

This job has been a major success for me, even though I admit that it is merely seasonal and not highly paid. It is my first paid position in any ecological field. I was all volunteer with the Tulsa Zoo and Earth Team. Once I had concluded my time at the Tulsa Zoo, I did some introspection, and realized I had no "field experience" volunteer or otherwise. Now, guess what? Bingo.

I certainly don't have everything accomplished that I want. In fact, I can name a number of factors in my life that are very disappointing. But, for now, I am glad about this part of things. Looking ahead, this is a very positive step.

This may not be of interest to anyone, but it's useful for me to get these thoughts out of my head, and typing this is helping me wake up this morning.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Eat Pray Love

Saw this online today. Hmm, if I am in the right mood, this might be a fun movie to see. Might. I dunno.

But anyways, I found a really cool woman's hat I'd like to give as a present. What do you think?

Hey, That's My Fish!

As many of my devoted readers would know (who am I kidding?) I enjoy well-played board games. I have lately found a few of note. Well, some from before, but more recently.

Here's a bit of a wish-list, not showing the games I already own, but ones that I want and plan to buy, when I have a good opportunity because they are simply games worth pursuit to buy, in my opinion.

Hey, That's My Fish!
Risk: Godstorm
Pit (How could I have forgotten Pit!)
Nuclear War
maybe Risk: LotR

Nuclear War is from the 60s, as I recall, and I played it in Tulsa.
Citadels, Carcassone, the two Risks, and Smallworld are newer games I first played in Tulsa, but I have also played them here in Carolina.

Since moving I have seen many games for the first time, but among those the most attractive to me at Hey, That's My Fish, Pit, and Ubongo

I saw a hummingbird

A few days ago, I saw a hummingbird on my back deck. It just flew up, stared at me for a moment, and then darted off again. I wonder if the former tenant fed them. I'm going to start feeding them, I think, especially since I know they are indeed in the area. I know a lady who said she put up a feeder for a year in urban Chapel Hill and never saw one. Maybe I will also plant some flowers they especially like.

Working as I know do as a feild ecologist of sorts for out mosquito contol program here, I've observed at what I had always more or less known: that in the countryside, birds and bats basically nullify many airbourne pests. Certainly not all (see: horseflies), but many of the smaller ones.

I had read somewhere how hummingbirds ate huge amounts of flying invertebrates, and I looked it up via google:

One thing that especially fascinated me when I first learned it (after graduating college, during my Oklahoma days) is that hummingbirds are unique to the Americas. When Europeons first saw them, during colonial times, I can only image their astonishment. Question: what do hurricanes and hummingbirds have in common? I mean BESIDES the letter H. Haha.
I've had a few friends from the Old World, born and raised. One Russian friend I knew was telling me about the first time she saw a humminbird, and my friend from China had never yet seen one. I wonder if he has now...I should ask him.

I also found this recipe for "hummingbird nectar" to put in a hummingbird feeder.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

getting turned on by cartoons is a weird feeling

and, while I am at it, I'm tempted to forward this on to my Star Wars friends:

Saturday, July 17, 2010

wet fireworks for cheap

well, I'm not sure "don't try this at home" even begins to cover it, especially since I am planning to try this at home myself at some point, but here goes:

I am posting this more for my reference than anything else, in case I forget to try this.

A guy at work told me about a cheap alternative to fireworks he tried one year, and it really impressed him and his family, not to mention his neighbors.

Water spouts, from what I understand. Huge splooshing watery explosions.

The secret being dry ice.

He said he placed some crushed dry ice in a two-liter plastic Coke bottle filled with hot tapwater, twisted the cap on, and then ran.

Boom! Sploosh! Patter...

Apparently, dry ice is nowhere near as expensive as regular fireworks, although I don't know where to get it at the moment. I don't think it's hard through, because their are plenty of applications, industrial and otherwise.

what have you read in the Star Trek: Titan series?

(My apologies, but I am still not sure how to italicize in headers. Crud.)

[Begin non-spoiler section]

Anyway, just two days ago I picked up Synthesis, the most recent entry in the Star Trek: Titan series, otherwise known as the Ongoing Adventures of Captain Riker (post-Nemesis). Written by James Swallow, who isn't a stranger to Trek books.

At least, I think it's the most recent entry. I tend to lag behind in these things lately. I didn't even read the Destiny trilogy until over a year after. The struggle of the daily grind has set me back time and again.

After looking: Yes, the next Titan book is supposedly being released October 2010. Synthesis was November 2009. I'm only half a year arrears.

Anyway, I really love love the cover, and it was really cool to see Minuet on the cover as a kind of "easter egg" for long-time TNG fans. Well, I guess "easter egg" isn't the appropriate term, but you get the idea. Whatever the case, it was a cool surprise and has made me look forward to the book for months.

I thought it was very ironic that the cover makes no allusion to the action-packed peril-filled alien encounter teased at length on the back cover. Similarly, the back cover makes no mention of Minuet. You just have to already know who she is, and why it's really cool to see her again, after so long, and especially with Riker and Troi. Again, that's a treat for the fans. Thanks!

[/end non-spoliers]
[begin spoilers]

I can't seem to get over how in every single Titan book they gets their asses kicked. (Can I say "ass" on this website without an adult-content label? Dunno. Going to just do it anyway.) Every single book, without fail, it seems. Sometimes by clever aliens, sometimes by unusual technology, and sometimes by a big rock. I'm not joking about the rock, sadly enough. Yes, I can easily accept that space is a dangerous place to work, and especially uncharted space, and even more so in a universe filled with aggressive sentients like Trek has. I am willing to grant that the books focus on stories of peril, and what the readership doesn't see are the months and months of humdrum between the novels. But, come on, it's starting to feel pretty redundant! "How are we getting our asses kicked this week, Captain?" What irks me more even is that the Titan's crew doesn't seem to process their close calls. I mean, when I commit an act of monumental error and almost kill myself, such as falling asleep at the wheel on the Interstate, I tend to at least recognize the fact and try to do better. The Titan crew doesn't. Not within in the book, and certainly not between them. I mean, I do realize these are not drawnout philosophical treatments of life and death. These are casual-reading action books, and that's a big reason I choose to read them. Besides the great mix of SF ideas and concepts, and the Trek I love, and some good writing from time to time (depending on the author), I get to just sit back and enjoy the ride. That's not a criticism! In fact, it's an essential quality of the Roddenberry concept: socially progressive thought and philosophical encouragement and scientific awareness delivered in packets of entertainment. At least, that's how I understand it, from listening to tapes of the man's discussions. But even within that context, can I please have a little believable human reactions? I know these are supposed to be heros and all cavalier about danger, but even the bravest people I've seen who aren't insane seem to express "whoo, that was close; I can't believe I just did that"

Monday, July 12, 2010

Riker Hill
When I saw a blog entitled the above in Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs, the first thing to pop into my mind was this image:

I'm sure the Riker Hill Fossil Site is amazing, but a living Doc Ree is even cooler

...close nerdy moment...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Solpugids finally get starring role

Heck, any role at all. Mostly unknown to American audiences (except many veterans of the Mess-O-Potamia) solpugids, aka camel spiders, aka wind scorpions, aka unusual arachnids with a heck of a bite and that run like the wind, to be featured (I read) in a new movie Extraction giving a unexpected foe to Iraqi forces. From what I understand, they do not bite like a spider (who jab at prey), but have grinding mouthparts, without venom, trusting to sheer ripping force. Aparrently, they'll tear off a little peice of flesh if they get a hold of you.

I found this thru:

It's "in development" and I don't even know if it's legit, but there's a trailer!

While I'm at it, have you guys seen Nazis Invaders From the Moon?

new "Dorothy of Oz" animated

I just saw this today:

I like this comment:

"[I]t won’t be subject to any unsavory ‘dark fantasy’ whims. For that reason alone I’m willing to think about giving it a shot."

I found this at:
Patrick Stewart's guest role also caught my eye ;-)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Kaijuology: Banglasdesh's KING KONG trailer

Godzilla 2012 - News And Info: KING KONG Done Wrong In Bangladesh#comment-form#comment-form#comment-form

Rap Song About Getting High With Dinosaurs

"transwarp" ST:CCG playable-out-of-the-box

A pic of my "transwarp" playtesting:

Something that makes my "transwarp" idea distinct is that it makes a very clear effort to streamline play and abbreviate the deck size.
Currently, my 3-part "transwarp" game fits into the classic Official Tournament Sealed Deck (OTSD) box, which would probably hold a baseball (sans the sphereical shape).
In three ziploc baggies, I put the about 150 cards (in card sleeves) seperated into 3 decks, two for players and one seed.

There are other people who have developed "home brew" deck designs and rules adjustments. In fact, one website The Continuing Committee ( has put out what is termed the Official Tournament Format, or OTF. I applaud their efforts. Clearly, part of their goal is to retain the original style of gameplay in the original game, which involves players who are committed to understanding and collecting the game. Yes, in my abbreviated version I sacrifice AU and TOS personnal, I sacrifice the fun and strategy of dilemma combos, I sacrifice the role-playing-feeling from commanding all those different affiliations.

Since I last posted, I have revised my "house rules" to be a bit more updated, including various clarifications. More is needed, and is a matter of me finding time. I of course realize I don't have crowds holding their breathe. I'm just putting my thoughts in order, here.

Once I have my "house rules" revised up to my standards, it'd be fun to ask two (non-Trek) gamers to go ahead and give the game a whirl, and see if the directions explain enough for a good game.

My friend Tobin has given me some new ideas. Specifically, he realized that Temporal Rift could play on an dilemma-ship, and thus be a way to escape that particular obstacle. Also, I have since looked at Asteroid Sanctuary and Magnetic North as possible inclusions in my decks for the same reasons.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Impressive surprise! Heard of a triops?

I hadn't until today, sadly enough. At least, not that I recall.
They are also refered to inaccurately as tadpole shrimp or sheild shrimp. "True" shrimp are in a different (and less-primitive) crustactean group.

Apparently, they are easy raised as pets, with eggs living dormant for an extended time, making them available to children as "instant pets"
They remind me of a horseshoe crab, and like the horseshoe crab, are decidedly a "living fossil"

In the sense that I am surprised to be surprised by an object of natural bewonderment, this reminds me of a solifugid, aka the wind scorpion, which I just had no idea about at all and as such came as a huge surprise to me.

This is all embarrassing to say. But each time I learn something, I am catching up ;-)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

JHW: Two Weeks' Notice: bullshit!

I started to say "hogwash" instead, but serious scatology calls for serious verbage.

I'm actually in a very positive upward swing right now, because I start a new job tomorrow (yay!) that I am very hopeful about, in large part because I will again be working in the field I want to be in: ecology. Although admittedly on the fringe. But, my foot is in the door.

However, I've had another disturbing experience this week thats entirely related to be previous Job Hunt Woes experiences. I was entirely unsurprised, however, since I have been around the block a few times.

It AMAZES me how dishonorable employers can be. But, it's also expected at this point. What surprises me is when a company does "the right thing" for no other reason than it's the right thing to do.

I put in my two weeks' notice like a good little prole. I told my new job I couldn't start as soon as they wanted, but had to keep up my end of my prior work responsibilities. Yesterday, my current job (or, I guess it's a former job, now) told me "I didn't need to come in" for my last two days of work. I thought about somehow protesting, but I hate that job so much, I didn't bother.

Now I realize that this was a low-wage job, but I don't think it's much better up the ladder. I think it has more to do with the company ethics than wage-scale. What do you think? What are your experiences?

But what about families that NEED the income from their 2 weeks' transition period? That's why very few people in low wage jobs run the risk of putting in a notice, because they'll be taken off the work schedule prematurely, maybe even immediately. I understand why an employer does this, of course: it's good business sense. An employee on their way out the door might do a crummy job their last few days, or even sabotage the company or steal things.

I used to work in a restaurant. I knew it wasn't doing so well, but I also knew that if they ever planned to close I wouldn't know about it until the night before. I've heard of other businesses letting their employees all show up for work as normal and the workplace be closed and locked up. Douchebags!

Bedroom scenes on TV

[Warning: soapbox and unpopular opinions]

Its not a popular opinion to have, but I don't think TV and movies should be as explicit as they are. Especially in the case of bedroom scenes, but also in regards to language, violence, and other adult-themes. (I'm a little in doubt about the violence: it has been observed that kids and teens are pretty violent individuals, and this is a nondestructive outlet, comparable to shooting things in video games. With that said, such violent digital slaughter should be directed away from police and human beings when possible. Regarding games for youth.)

Personally, I want to support freedom of choice and expression, in fact I prefer a open society with the least limits on personal choices, but that also includes social responsibility. It comes down to for me to the idea of consent. Rape is by far the most well-known nonconsensual act, but I think the ideas apply to any public intercourse (pun intended) if it has the reasonable chance of affecting others without their being aware that it might happen.

I enjoy watching older movies, such as John Wayne, because they are refreshingly discreet. Of course the audience knows that there is plenty of bedroom antics going on behind the scenes, but there are some things we just don't need to see. I recall hearing my parents talk about the "community standards" for TV when they were kids, no active bedroom scenes, and no ads for tampons, no underwear models, or any of that. It just wasn't done.
UNLESS we, as consenting adults, have specifically chosen to watch a movie with explicit material. And here, I'm not even talking nudity, I'm not even talking about hot and heavy athletics, I'm talking about the average non-nudity "simulated sex" bedroom scene in a broadcast television drama.
But couldn't we all use less "erectile disfunction" and "herpes" ads?

Let me be clear.
I just don't think it belongs on the public airwaves, or in PG movies.

Okay, I'm getting off my soapbox now

Monday, June 14, 2010

Kaijuology: review of Dreamworks 'How To Train Your Dragon'

Since I don't think I will be getting out to see this anytime soon, I thought I'd borrow a good review.

A sex scene with Jennifer Aniston would suck; haha

[I never thought I'd hear myself say that. Besides that, I have plenty of thoughts on the matter of bedroom scenes in movies and on TV, but that's another blog.]

John C. Reilly Embarrassed by Sex Scene With Jennifer Aniston
June 14, 2010 04:43:54 GMT

The sexy scene was far from steamy because Jennifer Aniston insisted on covering up from head-to-toe and using a prop cushion to ensure John C. Reilly didn't get too close for comfort.

Actor John C. Reilly was left red-faced on the set of romantic comedy "The Good Girl" when he had to simulate sex with a clearly-uncomfortable Jennifer Aniston. The pair star as husband and wife in the 2002 film and one scene sees the odd movie couple get intimate in the bedroom.

But Reilly admits what was meant to be a sexy scene was far from steamy because Aniston insisted on covering up from head-to-toe and using a prop cushion to ensure the stars didn't get too close for comfort. He says, "It's all dark and she's a little tense 'cause a sex scene is going to happen."

"So I get there and she's under the covers and I'm like, 'OK, I guess they just want me to get in position here.' So I climb into the bed, she opens up the sheet and I swear, she had two pairs of sweatpants on, winter socks, a long-sleeved T-shirt. Her body is basically like a burqa from the neck down."

"And I go, 'OK, I guess I'll just get on top of you now', and she's like, 'Can I get the chastity pillow please?' I'm like what the hell is a chastity pillow? And they bring out this big black pillow that she puts between her legs. And from that moment on, I went from Robert Palmer to the Hunchback of Notre-Dame. 'I'm sorry, I guess I'll just hump the pillow!'"

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Evelyn Guerrero

This is one of my favorite actresses. I thought I'd collect all the various bit and pieces I have found out about her on the Internet, and especially clips of her various roles on YouTube and such. She's a little-known actress, and that dovetails with my love of the obscure. Anyway, since I enjoy whatever I find out about her, I thought it'd post some of the things I have found.

She is best known (and almost only known) for her role as Donna in a few Cheech and Chong movies. They are usually a shorter role, with one or two scenes. Things are Tough All Over (1982), Nice Dreams (1981), Cheech and Chong's Next Movie (1980). My favorite is Nice Dreams where she has a her longest part and her most plot-central character, although the Next Movie is very memorable as well. Tough wasn't very impressive at all; a much smaller bit role; a let down, but not her fault.

WARNING: some crude humor and even brief topless nudity (it is Cheech and Chong, after all)

Ms. Guerrero also played Mrs. Ramirez on a family sitcom back in the 80s, The Facts of Life, appearing in one episode entitled "Adventures in Baileysitting" (She only appears in the last 1/4 of this clip about timeindex 5:20) (sadly, this is one of her better performances, but on the plus side she is stunning even in her minor role)

She was also a character named Maria in what looks like a low-budget horror movie in 1978, The Toolbox Murders. I haven't seen it, and not sure I want to, but apparently it's a highly exploitive, masochistic, erotic little slasher film, actually with a few "famous" scenes. Stephen King reportedly had a few nice things to say. Reportedly it was originally one of the 'Video Nasties' that was banned in 1982, whatever that means.
It appears to be a very small role. Lucky I suppose, considering the type of movie.

More importantly, she had a bit part in the premiere episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation "Encounter at Farpoint" but only part 2. It took me a while to find this, but she is the ensign who shows newly transferred Riker how to use the shipboard computer to locate Data at about timeindex 4:18 in the clip I have linked to here.

In the Star Trek clip, she isn't very attractive to me, I will be blunt. Close-cropped hair and masculine clothing. Don't just look at this clip! ;-)

more info that I have collected: Evelyn is currently the widow of Pat Morita (Mr. Miyagi in "The Karate Kid", the first Asian-American to be nominated for an Oscar). They were married later in life, Morita's fourth marriage on March 26 1994, and then Morita died in 2005 at age 77.

I can't say that it's true, but I found this info:
Evelyn and Pat first met when she was 15 years old because Evelyn's mother and Pat had the same manager, Sally Marr. Years later, Pat and Evelyn met again.
Evelyn (Evie) Louise Guerrero: born February 24, 1949 in East Los Angeles, California.

Evelyn had a pictorial in Playboy magazine in the 80s, and also appeared in the sexually-explicit musical comedy "Fairy Tales"

Oh, and this is all "to the best of my knowledge" jaja

Friday, June 11, 2010

test embed- hott dancing chinese girl

Evelyn Lin: Hadn't heard of her til today. Apparently rather new. Apparently a popular pornstar, and one who has a nice smile.

I hadn't realized why a search request of her name (I had conducted by accident, at first) pulled up a Mummy movie trailer.
I thought she was an actress (or other things) featured in The Mummy: Dragon Emperor's Tomb.
Then I found this: "Yang and Choi are killed by Evelyn and Lin when they attempt to ..."
Nope, a quick scan on imdb confirms it: she's never branched into mainstream cinema. A shame, I think.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

found in Cali: the hunter who shot Bambi's mother

In a newsletter from the Center for Biological Diversity (affiliated with DemocracyInAction), received today:

"Pombo Loses Again; Endangered Species, Bambi Sigh in Relief "

Congress's single greatest opponent of endangered species protection -- and one of the greatest offshore oil drilling proponents -- was Rep. Richard Pombo of California. The San Jose Mercury-News rightfully said he "held a special place in the hearts of America's environmental movement somewhere next to Capt. Joseph Hazelwood of the Exxon Valdez and the hunter who shot Bambi's mother."

Before being unelected in 2006 amid financial scandals and ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Pombo declared -- and lost -- a decade-long war on the Endangered Species Act. He tried to make a comeback this year, but just this week lost in the Republican primary to Jeff Denham.

Since he'll now have extra time on his hands, the Center is taking up a collection to send Pombo down to the Gulf of Mexico to clean up the mess he helped create. Let us know if you're interested.

also from the Center

Rolling Stone Quotes Center, Blows Open Gulf Oil Scandal

They didn't put our picture on the cover, but Rolling Stone Magazine featured the Center for Biological Diversity prominently in this month's mammoth exposé on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Titled "The Spill, The Scandal and the President: The inside story of how Obama failed to crack down on the corruption of the Bush years - and let the world's most dangerous oil company get away with murder," Tim Dickinson's story explains how the deeply corrupt Minerals Management Service was allowed to keep ignoring and violating environmental laws through both the Bush and early Obama years.

A few excerpts:

"[Interior Secretary] Salazar did little to tamp down on the lawlessness at MMS...And instead of putting the brakes on new offshore drilling, Salazar immediately throttled it up to record levels. Even though he had scrapped the Bush plan, Salazar put 53 million offshore acres up for lease in the Gulf in his first year alone - an all-time high. The aggressive leasing came as no surprise, given Salazar's track record. "This guy has a long, long history of promoting offshore oil drilling - that's his thing," says Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity. "He's got a highly specific soft spot for offshore oil drilling." As a senator, Salazar not only steered passage of the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, which opened 8 million acres in the Gulf to drilling, he even criticized President Bush for not forcing oil companies to develop existing leases faster."

"A top-to-bottom restructuring of MMS didn't require anything more than Ken Salazar's will: The agency only exists by order of the Interior secretary…Even though Salazar knew that the environmental risks of offshore drilling had been covered up under Bush, he failed to order new assessments. "They could have said, 'We cannot conclude there won't be significant impacts from drilling until we redo those reviews,' " says Brendan Cummings, senior counsel for the Center for Biological Diversity. "But the oil industry would have cried foul. And what we've seen with Salazar is that when the oil industry squeaks, he retreats."

Read the full story in Rolling Stone and check out the latest on the Center's Gulf Disaster Web site.

Friday, June 4, 2010

ST:CCG my custom preconstructed 2player

As requested, my design for Fed-only "transwarp speed" 2player STCCG game with shared seed deck.

This is Decipher's game from the 90s, long dead, Star Trek: The Customizable Card Game.

As a long-dead game, finding players familiar with the game (and with a collection of cards) wasn't practical, so I decided to come up with a version of the game I could fit in a small-ish box and pull out whenever someone seemed interested, and with a minimum of rule complications.

I had four aims in my design:
1) Speed (of set-up and play)
2) Ease (of play and learning the game)
3) TrekSense (only including cards and rules that made sense within the universe established by Trek)
4) Fun (trying to add cards that feature major Trek events and themes, such as tribbles, temporal rifts, the Crystalline Entity, and the Q; or visual appeal or other coolness factor)

The biggest adjustment that I've made, as I see it, is the combined seed deck.
1) By only using one seed deck, and making it random, I have eliminated a HUGE time-eater. Dilemmas are just dealt out.
2) Each game is decidedly different, because different Obstacles come out each game.
3) The game can be shortened or lengthened as desired, within limits, with a simple mechanism of how many Obstacles are dealt.

And plenty of games involve random "chance card" type of problems that are just faced as a matter of course in the game, so it's not at all strange, in my opinion.

By the later expansions, there were so very many nasty dilemmas, and seed slots were at such a premium, that dilemma combos had become of less importance anyway. My preconstructed selection for my "Obstacles" includes mostly evenly nasty dilemmas, sprinkled with relatively harmless ones.

The combined randomized seed deck is what makes this work. Basically, all the other rules I've come up with facilitate the preconstructed decks I've made, based in large part on the collection I have.

A combined seed deck would make almost any preconstructed game pretty reasonable. A Klingon vs Fed preconstructed game (or Dominion vs Fed, or Borg vs Fed). Or themed with tribbles, Q, Mirror Universe, Maquis, etc.

I've recently playtested the current version, and I am fairly happy with it.

2 player Fed-only "transwarp speed" preconstructed deck(s)
WITH COMBINED SEED DECK (and with 1:1 customizable personnel available)

playtested 5/11/2010

current draw (8+22+20+1; 51) + draw #2 (51) + shared seed (55) = 157 cards total

re-re-modified "house rules"
Game setup:
Each player receives his/her Draw Deck (preconstructed and equal, or modified 1:1 ratio replacement, as desired)
The shared Seed Deck is brought out, and separated into Missions and Obstacles (Dilemmas/Enemy Ships).
1) The missions are shuffled, and then laid out into a Spaceline, all facing one direction, and all open to all players.
2) Now, Obstacles (dilemmas/ships/Q) are also shuffled. A number of Obstacles is agreed upon for every mission (from 1 to 4; 3 preferred; lower number speeds up the game). Obstacles are now seeded: a chosen number under each mission, random and hidden, all equal amounts (skipping Space and Nebula missions).
3) Now, each player selects (from Draw Deck) "Starting Fleet Deployment". Each Player begins with one outpost (placement their choice), one ship (their choice), and only those personnel required to staff that one ship (again, their choice).
4) Note: players need to realize they will eventually have a discard pile, a played card area, and a points-modifier area, to be used if and when they are.

Each player plays 2 regular cards during turn, makes command decisions ("taking actions"), then draws 2 cards. Alternate player repeats. Simple.
Sorta. Some cards changed how many cards are drawn or played, or "stop" parts of your fleet from taking more actions, or otherwise confuse things. Also, some cards (when played) allow "downloading" specific cards.
Interrupts may be played at any time and do not require a card play. Tribbles play for free, but on your turn. All others use a card play on your turn, unless they specify. Personnel and Federation ships can only report to your outpost.
"Taking actions" includes ship/personnel movement and mission attempts and attacking ship-dilemmas.
The goal is to gain 100 points before your opponent does, mostly by attempting and completing missions, but also by bonus point boxes on various other cards. A mission is completed once an attempt is made with all requirements satisfied AND no more Obstacles to be faced there. If no player can reach 100 points, by agreed upon time or once neither player can make any effective moves, player with the highest points wins. (With many Obstacles option chosen, this is a likely outcome.)

Further notes:
Non-federation ships are considered as dilemmas/Obstacles (acting like the original Borg Ship dilemma). They immediately attack (and stop) any encountering ship, and then at the end of either players' turns moves towards farther end of spaceline, attacking either players ships encountered (no choice - weakest shields selected, random if tie; ONLY once per either players' turn, usually at the end of a turn, unless Borg Cube, which automatically attacks ANY ship at ANY time, including multiples). If a player's ship has a personnel matching attacking dilemma-ship affiliation, it is usually immune (i.e. Dejar makes a ship immune from Cardassian vessels). (Exceptions to immunity: Non-Aligned and Klingon attack others of same; there are no Borg personnel thus no immunities)

When played, Federation ships immediately produce up to staffing requirements via download (player chooses from draw deck and plays to ship). This automatically causes a player to download and play ONLY Federation personnel and ONLY until staffing met, no more than minimum. Plays to ship. If all staffing cannot be met, then as much as can is made, and no more (example: a ship with a gold star and silver star, no gold in deck, so d/l the one silver).
Ships with no staffing icons still need one any personnel to staff.

Ships with no staffing icons (i.e. shuttles and runabouts) have a capacity/personnel limit matching printed shields. Larger ships have none. These ships (no icons; shuttlecraft) may be docked, launched, carried aboard your ships with (tractor beam and ENGINEER), using 1 range, or land/launch, also using 1 range.

All affiliations may mix and cooperate, except ship-dilemmas.

Miracle Worker: Scotty's special skill includes one of the following skills, your choice: ENGINEER, Astrophysics, Physics, Transporter Skill, Computer Skill. Announce when reporting, and then may change at start of any of your turns.

draw (8+22+20+1= 51) + draw #2 (51) + shared seed (55) = 157

draw deck (x2)

Neutral Outpost

ships (8)
USS Galaxy x 2
Type IV Shuttlecraft
USS Nebula
USS Danube
USS Intrepid
Type 9 Shuttlecraft
USS Excelsior

Events/Interrupts/Obj/Incidents/Eqt (22)
Security Sacrifice
Particle Fountain
Federation PADD
Quantum Slipstream Drive
Escape Pod
Plasmadyne Relay
Telepathic Alien Kidnappers
Palor Toff
Assign Support Personnel
Temporal Rift
62nd Rule of Acquisition
Access Denied
Kevin Uxbridge
Vulcan "Death Grip"
Subspace Warp Rift
Static Warp Bubble
Nutational Shields
Starfleet Type 1 Phaser
1 Tribble

Personnel (20)
Ambassador Krajensky
Sarita Carson
Sito Jaxa
T'Rul - Rommie
Vedek Sorad - Baj
Alyssa Ogawa
Montgomery Scott
Sevek - NA
Joseph Travis
Thompson - dual NA
Jace Micheals
Devinoni Ral - NA
Thomas Riker
Dejar - Cardie
Graham Davis
Soong-type Android - NA
Sovak - Fer
EMH Program

seed deck (shared - 40 Obstacles + 15 Missions/outposts = 55 seed)
Obstacles - all (40 = 15 enemy ships, 24 Dilemmas, 1 Q Event)
Gorn Encounter
Chula: The Lights
Chula: The Way Home
Crystalline Entity
Anaphasic Organism
Quantum Fissure
Under Fire
Scientific Method
Assasin's Blade
Android Nightmares
None Shall Pass
Armus - Sticky Situation
Penalty Box (Q Event)
Q Gets The Point
Sabotaged Negotiations
Stellar Flare
Spatial Rift
Kazon Bomb
Security Precautions
Don't Call Me Ahab
Royale Casino: Craps

Mercenary Ship- Ship
Combat Vessel- Ship
Scout Vessel (Rommie)- Ship
D'deridex Advanced- Ship
Military Freighter (Cardie)- Ship (maybe Breen Warship later)
Alliance Vor'Cha- Ship
Alliance K'Vort- Ship
IKC Vor'Cha - Ship
Borg Scout Vessel- Ship
Borg Cube- Ship
Borg Probe- Ship
Borg Queen's Ship
Borg Sphere- Ship
Galor- Ship
Weyoun's Warship

Missions: 15
Salvage Operation
Study Pulsar
Explore Interstellar Matter
Sensitive Search
Establish Relations
Study Pulsar Streamer
Repair Mission
-Space x 2

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tremors Web Game / Tetris Hell

This is almost as funny as Tetris Hell

have you read The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin?

The second part of his autobiography is written in 1784.

I hadn't realize how thoroughly some of his ideas have permeated American culture. In many cases, his ideal really is the American ideal. Weird. Sure, I knew Franklin was a patriarch of American culture, but I didn't realize the extent to people who have never thought about him, except for 50 bills.

For instance, Franklin by his old age seemed quite set in his ways and quite dismissive of beliefs that incorporated "dogma" and doctrine.
He seemed to be only interested in religious thought that focused on practical civilized good-behavior.
He didn't much care why someone did something, just how they did it. Their habit. That's quite like American churches today, but also Japanese Shinto and many other world religions.
He had no use apparently for spirituality, or for what was in a person's heart unless it affected their habit.
So as to not slur Franklin, please let me quote his Autobiography:

"Tho' I seldom attended any Public Worship, I had still an opinion of its Propriety, and of its Utility when rightly conducted... [the] Discourses were chiefly either polemic Arguments, or Explications of peculiar Doctrines of our Sect, and were all to me very dry, uninteresting and unedifying, since not a single moral Principle was inculcated or enforce'd, their Aim seeming to be rather to make us Presbyterians than good Citizens."
and again
"...these I esteem'd the Essentials of every Religion, and being to be found in all the Religions we had in our Country I respected them all, tho' with different degrees of Respect as I found them more or less mixed with other Articles which without any Tendency to inspire, promote, or confirm Morality, serv'd principally to divide us & make us unfriendly to one another."

He didn't get everything he wanted though. He was very much a humbug, and there would be nightlife in no city in America if he had his way. Alcohol would be much harder to obtain. Live music and theatre wouldn't be so important.
I wonder, though, did he partially succeed? I have heard that America seems very dull compared to many places in Europe. How does it compare with other parts of the world?

I want to say though that I continue to have a deep respect for the man. Much of his philosophy is brilliant. It is so very true that It is hard for an empty Sack to stand upright in reference to morality. Also, when Franklin observes that wise men are usually quiet and don't enter into arguments. And then when he teaches about making it a habit to say things in a less provocative way, to ease communication ("I apprehend this..." or "It seems to me that..."). It's just his ideas feel pretty empty on occasion.

An aside here: I don't know if you've heard of him, but Cotton Mather was just before Franklin's time and wrote a well-known book or two, one titled "Essays to Do Good" which Franklin read as a kid. Sounded worth trying to find online or elsewhere.

Have you read the Voyage of the Dawn Treader?
Michael May's Adventureblog: Master of the Seven Seas

I agree entirely with the observation "So [I say to Disney], part two, Prince Caspian, didn't make a gazillion dollars. What a surprise. Prince Caspian was always the dud, relatively speaking, of the series. For fans who read and reread The Chronicles of Narnia, it was the one you could skip."

Oh, and it's frustrating I can't figure out how to italicize headers. Anyway...

The above link of MM also has the basis for his undersea colony.
Also see:

Cyrus the Great

Cyrus is a great name.
Cyrus the Great was a amazing ancient ruler. And he was the first known to have established human rights. As I recall.
Behold, the Cyrus Cylinder!

So is Noah, and Melchizedek. And Caiaphus. And Thor is a great first name.
Happy Thor's Day everybody!édech_Thévenot

Kaijuology: The Zillo Beast Strikes Back

I'm not any special fan of the Star Wars franchise, and even moreover the modern preview trilogy I think was a significant reduction is the appeal the universe has. However, I am a very rabid kaiju fan, albeit one who has only a fragmentary familiarity. FYI, kaiju is a Japanese word for "monster" as I understand it, and is a convenient term for the Godzilla-style of monster movies which often feature actors in rubber suits known as "suitimation". Additionally, daikaiju means "giant monster" but I perfer the shorter term, since either is non-specific for Americans, while the term "xenomorph" has been used in some of the movies themselves, such as Tokyo S.O.S.

Well, I found a very cool blog today, and I watched the link it gave me, and it was worth it for me. If I flatter myself with the title kaijuologist, I at least should keep an eye on things.

Well, apparently a kid-oriented animation short is shown on Cartoon Network these days, titled Clone Wars. and filling in some gaps between Episode III and the original Star Wars movie, formally Episode 4.

BTW, the second commentary, for Z Strikes Back, wasn't of any interest in terms of kaijuological interest, although I enjoyed the preview for Strikes. I was only so far able to find and watch 2.18, the original of the two episodes.

Oh no! We're entrusting Legendary Pictures to bring Godzilla a good name again?
These are the guys who made the Persians so historically accurate. And aren't these the guys who did 10,000 BC? Well, I guess 300 was a Hollywood success after all, but I think was with the moviegoers who didn't already have an idea about Spartans and Persians.

Strangest Klingon

Micheal May's blogspot refers to it as the "Goofiest Klingon"

I'm not sure I'd use the term Goofiest, myself. That's why I adopted Strangest. Perhaps, making the least sense.
Many things that seem very goofy or insane or strange are merely without the context for understanding them.
That's my little self-righteous preaching for the day ;-) Oh, who am I kidding, for the moment. ;-)

MM suggests I look at this link for context. Okay.

Oh! It's the Klingon from Decipher's A Klingon Challenge! Now it actually makes a little sense, but not quite sense.
Captain Kavok!
Commandeer Ship!
Fractal Encryption Code!
Amanda Rogers!
Mirror Image x10!
Q the Referee > Intermix Ratio!

Stargate fans, looky at Cleopatra in SpAAAace!

That's not my SpAAAce over-exaggeration there, it's their title, not mine.

My thanks go to Micheal May's blogspot, for the introduction:

Moral Principles of Subjectivism and Proximity

I have long held the opinion, from a morality point of view, just because there are starving people in Africa, or homeless in Chicago, or even one of my best friends dying from cancer, etc., I don't have to enjoy getting shit on.

Pardon my verbage, but at times like this, I think it is appropriate to call things what they are.

I would call this a principle of Subjectivism, because the circumstances of other's lives do not require me to be pleased with things that are not good. I am not going to be objective and think "oh well, others have it so much worse than I do" and let it go at that. It's not an invalid thought, but it's not a realistic basis for rational concerns. Overall happiness and satisfaction might can be based on objective thinking, but not an immediate complaint.

Another concept: Proximity. This is very similar to above, if not the same. What happens to me matters more to me than other things happening to other people. I don't have to feel selfish or ethically deficient. Just because my neighbor is dying, it doesn't make me any happier my house burned down.

Zues and Roxanne Nerd-alysis

Is there a better, more nifty term for Nerd-alysis? It'd be cool to find or invent a better creative combination of words. Geek sampling?

Well, at my job in a group home, one of our residents was watching the kid's movie Zues and Roxanne about mutt and a dolphin and their respective human consorts, and I sat down to watch it with him and build a friendly rapport. (I had to google the spelling on that word, "repore") (No HIPPA violations here, I think. I hope.)

That was a few days ago. I just now had a chance to blog. Well, I had a few geeky "ooh!" moments that I did not expect and wanted to share.

First, "Ooh! That's the guy from Short Circuit! I can't recall seeing him in any other movie, ever!" Not a bad actor, and quite the winning smile. I'd like to think I share that feature.

Second, 'Ooh! Is that Ba'al?' off Stargate? Sinister and menacing, as always, in his quiet way. Cool.

Third, and I didn't think of this until later, the movie had it's own fizzbin moment! The kids sit around to play their version of "poker" with a supposedly naive younger kid, and make up complex arbitrary rules as it goes along. "The two of spades beats anything!" They make no reference to that great Iotian scene in Star Trek, but I thought it was great. Of course, to have been a REAL fizzbin moment it would have needed an abrupt fistfight.

FACT Critical Thinging "Skeptics" Meetup group

Not too long ago I joined the Forsth Area Critical Thinkers group on, and I've been to a handful of meetings since (they only meet once a month, so they accrue slowly).

This morning, I was responding to a post I made on the group, and since I have made a very nice and well-crafted piece of discussion, for laziness sake I thought I'd repost it here.
My major objection seems to be that the group isn't as much a critical thinking discussion group or even "skeptics" group as a athiests' political group. And that bothers me, although that's not my call to make, except for how I choose to use my time.


"I thought this was a critical thinking group?"

Start a new discussion Track this discussion Add a reply
Posted May 1, 2010 10:02 AM Link to this discussion Edit Quote in reply

user 4826257
Lexington, NC
Post #: 8

I am rather displeased by the trend I've seen in my last few visits (a grand total of two; not a real big sampling I admit...haha). The trend is this: less emphasis on critical thinking, and more emphasis on political ideology. I completely agree that the separation of church and state, religious freedom, rights of expression, etc., are very valid topics for discussion and applied critical thinking, but I do not agree that political activism (especially related to personal beliefs) is valid for a critical thinking group. There ARE political activism groups. That's not what I thought this was. Call me spineless, but I have a live and let live take on many such things. I am reminded for a quote from Voltaire (or at least I think it was Voltaire): and since he wrote in French, it is indisputably a paraphrase at best: "I may not agree with anything you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it".

Am I alone in this? I'm not giving up on the worth of the meetup, or topic, or the cheese sticks, or my future interest, but this is just a small objection I wanted to air.


***** ******
Posted May 2, 2010 9:38 AM Link to this reply Quote in reply Report as spam
user 10897564
Winston Salem, NC
Post #: 1

******* (agreeing with me)

******* *******
Posted May 19, 2010 9:16 PM Link to this reply Quote in reply Report as spam

user 7748278
Group Organizer
Winston Salem, NC
Post #: 4

I just saw this thread or I would have replied sooner. Feel free to suggest a topic Rich. What topic specifically did you not approve of?

Posted May 25, 2010 11:35 AM Link to this reply Edit Delete Quote in reply

user 4826257
Lexington, NC
Post #: 11

I really enjoyed the "Myths of Recycling" screening (I know that's not the actual title, but I don't recall). I thought that was going in the direction of where I would like to see this group go, thinking beyond casual socially-accepted "common knowledge." Origins and analysis of misinformation, and so on.

At the moment, I can't really pinpoint a "topic" that I disapproved of (and, of course, my disapproval is a strong word, and is merely my opinion), but it was more about attitudes. And again, attitudes have every right to be divergent from my own and to be expressed and my distaste for them doesn't suggest they don't warrant a Meetup group. Why do I feel like Seinfeld? "Not that there's anything wrong with that!"

Anyway, instead of chastising ourselves into greater critical thinking, the group seems to be currently more heavily leaning towards criticizing the way other's believe. I know for a fact that I don't think about things the way I used to, and partially from that experience I feel it is important to respect other peoples' beliefs, even when in my view they are in error. That brings to mind again my objections to the whole "Draw Muhammad Day" or however it was termed. I fully acknowledge the persuasive arguments made for the effort, "we will not succumb to intimidation", etc, and I have allowed myself to become undecided on the issue.

Okay, suggestions: "Why Wal-Mart is bad for America?" type documentaries, or Global-Warming documentaries, or Lost Boys of Sudan, or just discussing what we've seen in the news lately. Personally, I remain only loosely in touch with current events, and would appreciate a discussion of news. Or maybe a roundtable discussion of "What's on your mind this week?" and then chat about the subject that comes up.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Michael May's Adventureblog: Movie News: An Army of Ivan Dragos

Michael May's Adventureblog: Movie News: An Army of Ivan Dragos

I gotta recommend firstly that you watch the teaser for Iron Man 4
Yes, it's a parody.

Secondly, the rest is all pretty cool, and I made special note of Monsterpocolypse because it is a cool concept.

Although I still think a Turok movie would be the best idea of all, and now that Prince of Persia is pushing that particular envelope even further, I have more hope than ever before. And you?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Wa Wa Yu, the world's largest salamander

Wa Wa Yu is apparently the Chinese name for it, meaning "baby fish"
The Chinese giant salamander.

I had been told about the wa wa by a friend of mine from Tulsa who had lived for a while in Taiwan, and then of a Japanese analog sometime later by another friend. And I had also read of the animal in a zoology book a while before, noting the possibility of a (now extinct) North American version to validate various questionable reported sightings.

But, I had not known specifically that the wa wa was the same animal, and the reason I say "wa wa" instead of "wa wa yu" is that's what my friend called it, and he claimed "wa wa" was a mimicry of an infant's crying, which I suppose might make sense. Chinese words seem to be derived. But my friend also claimed he was told the wa wa made that sound, which I don't see otherwise reported. Perhaps, though, perhaps...

Wonders of the Yangtze River

Or rather they WERE

I heard about the Chinese paddlefish not long ago, thanks to a homemade video tour of the Bristol Zoo I found online, and since I knew a bit about American Paddlefish of the Mississippi Valley from my time in Oklahoma, I was curious.
Paddlefishes are a representative of a very ancient group of fishes, one which was swimming with the dinosaurs. They aren't the oldest by far, but are certainly noteworthy. Along with sturgeons, they are a stepping stone toward the modern bony fishes, but fall short of the distinction. Like the older sharks, they have a mostly cartilaginous skeleton and other primitive characteristics.
If you have never heard of paddlefishes, please do not feel bad. I had paid any attention until I went to Oklahoma one of the places they they live, and later I saw one in an aquarium. Impressive stately creatures and awingly primordial. Then, I did not even realize that there was a Yangtze version of the paddlefish until this month, although I had the impression there were more species than the American one. (with nice photos!)

Lo and behold, another missing wonder from the Yangtze River of China. Again, a victim of intense pollution and population stressors, no doubt.

The reason I say "another" is I heard of a much more appalling disappearance not long ago: the baiji, or Yangtze river dolphin
Why this is important: The baiji is the first large vertebrate to go extinct in my lifetime, if I have read right.

The Yangtze River is starting to sound like an aquatic graveyard. I'm sure there is much more ecologic damage than I am aware of, being only passingly familiar with Chinese biomes.

The Chinese Paddlefish is apparently more visably related to the sharks. To me, it looks more like a sturgeon than a American paddlefish, which may be why recent "sightings" have been shown to be of sturgeon. It is supposed to have been one (if not the) largest freshwater fish in the world. No wonder it is also known as the Chinese swordfish! If you find pictures, you'll see what I mean, such as here:

Friday, May 7, 2010

View of where I live

well, thereabouts. After I moved back to NC from Tulsa, I've had many friends ask me to show them pictures of what it looks like out here. So many people seem to think the only mountains worth seeing are in Colorado or somewhere like that. I disagree.

This is from the Tennessee mountains, but might as well be from here. We're talking an hour difference in distance.

I actually live about three hours from areas where the above scenery is commonplace.

A less attractive but more honest view: