Posted by darkstar 1 year ago
3am on Sunday, August 13, 2017.
Missing all my LF pals from back in the early days.
/sits on couch. *large cloud of dust rises from the fabric*
Bandwidth throttling!
Posted by darkstar 11 years ago
School, work and taking care of family is stretching me kinda thin lately, so I'll be cutting back on mah online time (including LF). The Silver Pool campaign will need to go into stasis for a while, until the life situation changes and I have more bandwidth. Hope you are all well!  
Posted by darkstar 11 years ago
Via the Associated Press...  
Thompson gives no opinion on Schiavo  
THE VILLAGES, Fla. - Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson gave no opinion Thursday when asked about efforts by President Bush and Congress to keep Terri Schiavo alive, saying he does not remember details of the right-to-die case that stirred national debate.  
Thompson was asked in an interview for Bay News 9's "Political Connections" program whether he thought Congress' intervention to save the life of the brain-damaged woman two years ago was appropriate.  
"I can't pass judgment on it. I know that good people were doing what they thought was best," Thompson said. "That's going back in history. I don't remember the details of it."  
It was only two years ago, and it was on the news every day, Freddie. Which cave have you been hiding in?  
Seriously, and you want to be President?  
Silver Pool Campaign, Episode 1.3.5
Posted by darkstar 11 years ago
"Well Met"  
A quick convocation ensues in the clearing. Martelo wants to wade right in with a spear while Aelric thinks a shower of arrows would do the trick. Dan is not convinced that killing the boar is necessary. Faye seems very conflicted with the idea of killing a tethered animal, in any event.  
You decide that killing the boar -- while easy to do at this point -- isn't the best course. Instead, you determine to leave the animal where it is for now. It offends your sensibilities (and Faye's) to leave an animal snared in this fashion, but the only alternative you can think of right now is to kill the beast, which strikes you as much worse. Despite the fatigue that everyone is feeling, the party gathers equipment and strikes camp, leaving the anguished dire boar behind in its snare. It's perfunctory squeals fade behind you.  
The moon is nearly full, giving some illumination during the trek. Faye and you make good use of your woodland expertise to find the path and make your way through the forest. At times, you stop to hear what might have been movement in the underbrush, but continue on when it turns out to be small nocturnal creatures posing no threat. After another hour, you estimate you've traveled another couple of miles through the forest, the dire boar now far behind.  
"Well make camp here," you say, dropping your pack in the center of a small copse of cedar trees just off of the path you've been following. Grunts of approval come in response from your comrades, some of whom have not yet slept. You reconvene your watch, this time keeping spears close at hand. The rest of the night passes uneventfully. Shortly after dawn, you awaken to find a cool fog has settled into the vale where you've chosen your campsite. It muffles the sounds of your party as you eat breakfast and make preparations to head out again.  
Within another hour, the sun has burned off the fog and visibility has returned. "It will take us maybe another four hours to cross this vale," says Faye, "Then up the hill and through that notch," she says, pointing at a break in the tree line on the wooded ridge some 7 or 8 miles away. "Once we cross over that, we're in the Glimmerweald. Brother Owen's grove is a few hours' hike into the valley after that."  
The trek up across the vale and up the hill passes without event, with only brief pauses to take nourishment. When you reach the top of the ridge, you see the valley spread out before you. Massive oak, hickory and other deciduous trees cloak the valley floor. A glint of the midday sun catches off of what appears to be water a couple of miles away. Small hills rise up periodically, breaking the otherwise flat valley. All around, the Glimmerweald is encircled by ridges, encompassing a valley perhaps 10 miles across and 20 miles long.  
As you begin to make your way down the path into the valley, your sharp eyes catch sight of a large dark bird, a raven or a rook, perhaps, perched in an oak tree some 30 feet away from you further up the path. The bird is obviously eyeing your approach. It cants its head to the side querulously. "One of Brother Owen's friends," says Faye. As your party passes the bird, a rook, it takes off from its limb and flies off to the southwest, toward the center of the Weald. "Our herald," Faye chuckles. "Brother Owen will be expecting us."  
You press on, passing enormous trees that must be centuries old and undergrowth: witch hazel, hemlock and holly, among others, some of which are new to you. At least once more, you catch sight of a rook. Two hours later, Faye calls for you to stop and take a break. "We wait here," she says. "Brother Owen will send for us when he's ready." You don't have to wait long. Within a few minutes, the rook that has been shadowing you ever since you entered the Glimmerweald flies in and alights on a branch in the tree just above you.  
"Pennyroyal tells me we have guests," a mellow baritone voice says, its calmness nevertheless startling you and your comrades. Your attention drawn up to the large black bird, the older man approached right into the center of your group without making a sound at all! Wearing a dusky green cloak, its hood drawn up over his head, all that shows is the man's gnarled hands and wizened face.  
Brother Owen smiles at the evident alarm playing over the faces of your party, his ice-blue eyes twinkling mischievously. Faye laughs, sharing a conspiratorial glance at the elder druid. and it then occurs to you that Brother Owen has done this before, to other guests. "Sister Faye," he says warmly as he goes to clasp her in a hug. "It's been two seasons since you were here," he chides. "I'd begun to think you'd forgotten about us. And you know my scouts don't get out as far as Foxglove as much as they used to..."  
Faye releases her embrace, resting her hands on Brother Owen's forearms. "Yes, and I'm afraid I bring mixed news from my village, too," she says. "But more of that later. Let me introduce my comrades." She goes around the party and presents each of you, in turn, to her patron. When she introduces you, she takes extra care and the presentation takes on something of a ritualistic tone. You then realize that Brother Owen, as the elder druid in the region, is also your patron, as well.  
"I'm very glad to meet you all," he concludes, "and especially a new initiate. You must all come to dine with me and shake the dust from your weary legs. You can tell me everything then. Welcome to the Glimmerweald."
Kingdom of Loathing
Posted by darkstar 11 years ago
If anyone here plays Kingdom of Loathing and needs some resources, please let me know. My character has a glut of meat and nothing left to buy. :-/  
Let me know and I'd be happy to share my meat with you.  
(Yes, I know how that sounds, and no, that's not a solicitation to lewd behavior.)
Remembering a March 2002 press briefing...
Posted by darkstar 11 years ago
Q: Mr. President, in your speeches now you rarely talk or mention Osama bin Laden. Why is that? Also, can you tell the American people if you have any more information, if you know if he is dead or alive? Final part -- deep in your heart, don't you truly believe that until you find out if he is dead or alive, you won't really eliminate the threat of --  
THE PRESIDENT: Deep in my heart I know the man is on the run, if he's alive at all. Who knows if he's hiding in some cave or not; we haven't heard from him in a long time. And the idea of focusing on one person is -- really indicates to me people don't understand the scope of the mission.  
Terror is bigger than one person. And he's just -- he's a person who's now been marginalized. His network, his host government has been destroyed. He's the ultimate parasite who found weakness, exploited it, and met his match. He is -- as I mentioned in my speech, I do mention the fact that this is a fellow who is willing to commit youngsters to their death and he, himself, tries to hide -- if, in fact, he's hiding at all.  
So I don't know where he is. You know, I just don't spend that much time on him, Kelly, to be honest with you. I'm more worried about making sure that our soldiers are well-supplied; that the strategy is clear; that the coalition is strong; that when we find enemy bunched up like we did in Shahikot Mountains, that the military has all the support it needs to go in and do the job, which they did.  
And there will be other battles in Afghanistan. There's going to be other struggles like Shahikot, and I'm just as confident about the outcome of those future battles as I was about Shahikot, where our soldiers are performing brilliantly. We're tough, we're strong, they're well-equipped. We have a good strategy. We are showing the world we know how to fight a guerrilla war with conventional means.  
Q: But don't you believe that the threat that bin Laden posed won't truly be eliminated until he is found either dead or alive?  
THE PRESIDENT: Well, as I say, we haven't heard much from him. And I wouldn't necessarily say he's at the center of any command structure. And, again, I don't know where he is. I -- I'll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him. I know he is on the run. I was concerned about him, when he had taken over a country. I was concerned about the fact that he was basically running Afghanistan and calling the shots for the Taliban.  
But once we set out the policy and started executing the plan, he became -- we shoved him out more and more on the margins. He has no place to train his al Qaeda killers anymore.
The Hut Sut Song
Posted by darkstar 11 years ago
A blast form the past in this YouTube video of Horace Heidt's "The Hut Sut Song".  
Found this thanks to LinusMines' lolcats hobo cartoonist link in his journal today. On the cartoonist's blog was a link to this video. I'd never heard it, but it was evidently quite a flash-in-the-pan back in the 40s.  
The video description notes:  
"The tune is "The Hut Sut Song (A Swedish Serenade)" by Leo V.Killion, Ted McMichael and Jack Owens. Not sure who fist recorded it, though it's shown up in From Here to Eternity, A Christmas Story, and the Merrie Melody of Horton Hatches the Egg.  
The song is at once catchy and very annoying. Oddly enough, the film focuses on the song's nuisance factor, as four boarding house residents get themselves committed for constantly singing it.  
And like all good 1940's padded cell residents, they end up doing headstands, banging their heads on the wall, cutting paper dolls, and of course, imitating Napoleon."  
And two of the comments tell about the singers, from a group called The King's Men:  
"Just in case anyone wonders -- These are The King's Men:  
Man in tub: Grafton "Bud" Linn (1909-1968)  
Man with electric shaver: Rad Robinson (1910-1988)  
Thin singer with the mustache: Jon Dodson (1907-1964)  
Man with towel draped on arm: Ken Darby (1909-1992)"  
"And the King's Men did perform this more than once on "THE JOHNSON'S WAX PROGRAM WITH FIBBER McGEE AND MOLLY" on radio. Horace Heidt and His Musical Knights had the hit recording in 1941."  
Fall schedule.
Posted by darkstar 11 years ago
This fall is shaping up to be a cool one:  
* I'm teaching two Chemistry Lab classes (Intro Chem).  
* I'm sitting in on another instructor's Intro Chem Lab class (to hork his ideas).  
* I'm taking two Chemistry classes (Organic and Lab) to review the undergrad stuff before I go back into the grad program.  
* I'm taking a course in stained glass!  
* I'm taking mandolin lessons, finally!  
/me is verra verra excited!
A little nuance...
Posted by darkstar 11 years ago
...and why I want to kick Rudy Giuliani and others in the bahlz every time they try to boil down the Iraq war into a simple, convenient, easy to swallow, us-vs-them campaigning sound bite.  
Shiites: Muslims who follow the bloodline of descent from Muhammad's daughter Fatima Zahra and his cousin Ali. Form the large majority of Iraq's population. Look to Iran for spiritual guidance.  
Sunnis: Muslims who follow the line of descent from the Caliph Abu Bakr, chosen by council to rule after Muhammad's death. Minority group in Iraq which was in power under Saddam Hussein. Aligned theologically with Saudi Arabia.  
Kurds: Officially Muslim, but not ideologically so. Primary faith is Yazidism. Have established, essentially, a de facto Kurdish state in the northern part of Iraq. Angling to establish a free Kurdistan which would eventually include portions of Turkey.  
Iran: Shiite state, close ties with Iraqi Shiite leader Ayatollah al Sistani. Prior to the invasion, critics of the war argued that taking down Saddam Hussein would radicalize Iran further and eventually result in a large part of Iraq becoming a theocratic autocracy as a satellite of Iran. That prediction seems to be coming true.  
Saudi Arabia: Sunni Arab state. Source of Osama bin Laden, most of the 9/11 assassins, most of the current Sunni suicide bombers operating in Iraq and most of the al Qaeda operatives working in Iraq against the US.  
Turkey: has a large Kurdish population inside the country on the eastern border, opposed to free Kurdish state in Iraq as it will increase Kurdish nationalism and separatism movements in Turkey.  
Al Qaeda: militant radicals loyal to Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants. Primarily interested in fighting against the West but also seek to destabilize secular Arab governments in favor of Sharia law. While they were not active in Iraq, and actively opposed by Saddam Hussein, they have responded to US invasion of Iraq to develop a base of operations there. Most of them are coming from Saudi Arabia. Still account for a small percentage of the insurgents in Iraq.  
Sunni insurgents: The majority are militant, former Baathists under Saddam Hussein seeking to regain power in the new government. A smaller number are Iraqi nationalists who want the occupying Western forces off of their soil. A very small percentage are al Qaeda operatives, most of whom are, again, from Saudi Arabia. Leading death squads and attacks against Shiites and US forces.  
Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council: The largest political party of Shia Muslims. The Badr Organization is their military wing which fights against the Mahdi Army in an internecine struggle for preeminence among the Shiite dominated new government. The Badr also leads death squads against Sunnis in an ongoing civil war.  
Madhi Army: militant radicals loyal to Shia cleric Moqtada al Sadr who fight against the Badr Organization in an internecine struggle for preeminence among the Shiite dominated new government. The Mahdi also leads death squads against Sunnis in an ongoing civil war.  
Iraqi nationalists: Iraqis who have become enraged at US occupation (Abu Ghraib, bombing neighborhoods, shooting cars, etc.) and have taken up arms to help expel the occupiers.  
Chaldeans: A smaller (several undred thousand), ethnically Assyrian community in Iraq, predominately Christian, which had freedom to worship without being molested under Saddam Hussein's rule. Tarik Aziz, a Chaldean Catholic, was Saddam's Foreign Minister and then Deputy Prime Minister before the invasion. Chaldeans have been targeted following the invasion by death squads and many have been killed or forced from their homes, some relocating in neighboring countries.  
A French song I like, worth checking out.
Posted by darkstar 11 years ago
For your viewing and listening pleazhure, with my translation of the lyrics, below:  
Désenchantée, by Mylene Farmer (Music video.)  
Try to ignore the dance remix they patched in for the first minute and a half. The song really begins at 1:30. The video gives a particular spin on the lyrics, which have a much broader meaning than what is depicted. Of course, the video is one interpretation.  
The sentiment of the song truly grasps a whole generation of French people who are, indeed, turning away from modernist metanarratives and find themselves cast adrift on the winds of a new worldview where there are no easy, black-and-white answers, no unquestionable authority and no firm, comforting philosophical ground beneath them. Of course, that's happening all over the world.  
The song has some excellent imagery and the prosody and alliteration of the refrain in the French is especially remarkable, imho.  
French lyrics (followed by English translation by darkstar):  
Désenchantée, by Mylene Farmer  
Nager dans les eaux troubles  
Des lendemains  
Attendre ici la fin  
Flotter dans l'air trop lourd  
Du presque rien  
A qui tendre la main  
Si je dois tomber de haut  
Que ma chute soit lente  
Je n'ai trouvé de repos  
Que dans l'indifférence  
Pourtant, je voudrais retrouver l'innocence  
Mais rien n'a de sens, et rien ne va  
Tout est chaos  
A côté  
Tous mes idéaux : des mots Abimés...  
Je cherche une âme, qui  
Pourra m'aider  
Je suis  
D'une géneration désenchantée, désenchantée  
Qui pourrait m'empêcher  
De tout entendre  
Quand la raison s'effondre  
A quel sein se vouer  
Qui peut prétendre  
Nous bercer dans son ventre  
Si la mort est un mystère  
La vie n'a rien de tendre  
Si le ciel a un enfer  
Le ciel peut bien m'attendre  
Dis moi,  
Dans ces vents contraires comment s'y prendre  
Plus rien n'a de sens, plus rien ne va.  
English translation:  
Swimming in tomorrows' troubled waters  
To wait here for the end  
Floating in air too heavy  
With nearly nothing to which to cling...  
If I must fall from so great a height  
May my fall be slow;  
I've found no rest  
Except within my indifference.  
Instead, I wish to recover my innocence  
But nothing makes sense and nothing works.  
All is chaos around me  
All of my ideas: spoiled words  
I search for a soul who can help me  
I belong to a disenchanted generation, disenchanted.  
Who could prevent me  
From hearing it all?  
When reason collapses,  
To whose breast can we dedicate ourselves?  
Whom could pretend  
To cradle us within his belly?  
If death is a mystery  
Then life has nothing to hold one  
If the heavens mean a hell exists  
Then the heavens can well wait for me.  
Tell me, In these contrary winds,  
To what can one cling  
When nothing more makes sense  
And nothing works any more?  
Posted by darkstar 11 years ago
"The strategy of being obstructionist can work or fail... and so far, it's working for us. The Democrats are the ones taking the blame for not getting anything done."  
--Republican Senator Trent Lott  
Roll Call, April 18, 2007  
At least it's nice to have the Republican Senator admit it. But the idea that the GOP is purposefully destroying Congressional effectiveness and undermining our country just to make the Democrats look bad is not something I'd be proud of, personally.  
In any event, while The Republicans' overt strategy to be as obstructionist and dysfunctional as possible so that nothing can be achieved -- and then cast the blame on the Democratic leadership -- HAS resulted in the lowest approval ratings for Congress in modern times, it's not quite panning out the way the GOP had hoped. It appears that folks are wising up to the Republicans' record-pace obstructionism.  
According to recent polling, the majority of folks see Congress's current dysfunction stemming from Republican obstruction, and that the solution to it is to elect more Democrats:  
By 52 to 38 percent, voters in these battleground districts say the gridlock in Washington makes them want to see more Democrats elected to the Congress. That same dynamic is at work even in the Republican-held seats.
Republicans base much of their party ideology on the idea of the inability of government to solve problems. And then when they're elected to public office, they do their best to prove it, even if it means intentionally sabotaging Congress.
Tancredo: Another lunatic aspiring to wield power
Posted by darkstar 11 years ago
Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo’s campaign stood by his assertion that bombing holy Muslim sites would serve as a good “deterrent” to prevent Islamic fundamentalists from attacking the United States, his spokeswoman said Friday.  
“This shows that we mean business,” said Bay Buchanan, a senior Tancredo adviser. “There’s no more effective deterrent than that. But he is open-minded and willing to embrace other options. This is just a means to deter them from attacking us.”
Right...because threatening to destroy the holiest site of a billion Muslims in the world, the vast majority of whom are peace-loving people, and not to mention a huge population center in its own right, is a great way to deter the less than 1/10 of 1% of Muslims who are radical fundamentalists.  
My God, I can't think of a statement that could be better calculated to recruit moderate Muslims into a holy war against the US, which is exactly what the radicals want. Knotheads like Tancredo and the PNAC crowd are the best recruitment tools Al Qaeda has!
Some occasionally freaky, but perfectly natural, physiological manifestations.
Posted by darkstar 11 years ago
I was just reading up today on historico-cultural explanations of some physiological behaviors related to sleep. I encountered quite a few interesting tidbits I thought I'd share. Here are some bodily manifestations that, while not well understood, occur to just about everyone at one time or another:  
1. Hypnopompic paralysis.  
2. Night terror.  
3. Hypnagogic hallucinations.  
4. Lucid dreaming.  
5. Restless legs syndrome.  
6. Yawning.  
Finally, one not directly related to sleep, but encountered sometimes in the morning shower right after I wake up...  
7. Mammalian diving reflex.
LinkFilter Recurring Photos Archive
Posted by darkstar 12 years ago
Greetings all LFers! This journal is intended to be a collection of photos that have been or currently are used repeatedly here on LF, either in the chatter or in comments. If an image has been used repeatedly (in the past or now), please link to it!  
I'll get things started with this one:  
The Used Car Salesmen
Blog Warriors = Professional Forum Trolls
Posted by darkstar 12 years ago
Remember, the troll you're feeding just might be a professional.  
"Be prepared to 'flood the zone' with comments  
from professionals who are ready to put your talking points  
on the blogosphere 24/7."  
For-hire hacks and flacks to spam your talking points into blogs and other online forums. Owner of the company is a top Florida Republican Party operative, lobbyist and former candidate for office.  
Oh, they also astroturf talk radio, too.  
The more you know...
A picture is worth a thousand words, indeed.
Posted by darkstar 12 years ago
A new memeZorZ!
Posted by darkstar 12 years ago
The top video games (or series) in my life that really, really, REALLY sucked me in (and when):  
1. Asteroids (Atari, 1979 - early 80s)  
2. Bolo (Apple II, 1983-4)  
3. Karateka (Apple II, 1986)  
4. Lode Runner (Mac, 1986-7)  
5. Uninvited (Mac, 1988)  
6. Rogue (PC, 1988-90)  
7. Bard's Tale I, II and III (Mac and PC, 1990-91)  
8. Tetris (PC, ca 91-93)  
9. Wing Commander: Privateer (PC, 1993)  
10. X-Wing & TIE-Fighter (PC, 1993-1996)  
11. King's Bounty / Heroes of Might and Magic series (Mac, 1990-2003)  
12. Civilization (Mac, 1991)  
13. Lords of the Realm I and II (PC, 1994-97)  
14. Ultima VIII and Ultima Online (PC, 1994-97)  
15. Command & Conquer I & II (PC, 1995-97)  
16. Age of Empires I and II (Mac, 1997-2003)  
17. Neverwinter Nights I, II and III (Mac, 2007)  
Update: I didn't include arcade games. But if I did, big shout outs for these quarter-guzzlers, back in the day:  
Star Wars  
Black Widow  
Space Invaders  
Inspired by Live Earth...
Posted by darkstar 12 years ago
...I went ahead and swapped out several more incandescent bulbs today with Energy Star CFLs.  
I've swapped out perhaps a total of 14 bulbs so far. That's about 7000 pounds of C02 eliminated overall and a savings of over $100/year in electricity cost.  
I keep incandescents for just a few places where I want the warmer color light (my lamp beside by bed) or where I have them on a dimmer switch (the dining room lights). I find that in some cases, the whiter color CFL is preferable, such as on my office desk lamp. The whiter light improves contrast on things I'm working on at my desk.  
If every American home replaced just one light bulb with an ENERGY STAR qualified compact fluorescent light bulb, we would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a year, more than $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of more than 800,000 cars.  
If the only thing that the Live Earth concerts do is to help encourage/inspire a million light bulbs to be swapped out, then the energy expense to stage the concerts will have been well worth it. If the concerts help develop momentum for a broader shift in worldwide attitudes about climate change and energy conservation, then the energy used to stage the event will be a drop in the bucket compared to the impact it will have had down the road.
New list of 7 Wonders of the World!
Posted by darkstar 12 years ago
According to massive poll, top 7 human-built wonders listed here...  
• The Great Wall of China  
• Petra in Jordan  
• Brazil's statue of Christ the Redeemer  
• Peru's Machu Picchu  
• Mexico's Chichen Itza pyramid  
• The Colosseum in Rome  
• India's Taj Mahal  
Frankly, they are seriously misguided if they think the Egyptian pyramids on the Gizeh plain don't merit a Top-7 listing. I mean, Brazil's statue is great and all, but come on...more awesome than the Great Pyramid of Khufu?  
The organizers recognized this, at least, and so accorded the pyramids "honorary" wonder status, even though they didn't appear in the top seven on the poll...
You in 1905!
Posted by darkstar 12 years ago
From the PBS series "Manor House" comes this page presenting "You in 1905".  
For me...  
"You are a Clerk!  
- A Snapshot of your life as it might have been in 1905  
You go to the local school and at 16 you go into apprenticeship with a friend of your father's to learn your trade.  
Career Prospects  
You do well as an apprentice clerk. Wanting to go further, you join a well-respected firm where you enjoy the security and prestige. You go to work on the electric tram – an excellent new invention, which means that you can get more easily from your new house on the outskirts of the city into the centre to work.  
Leisure Time  
You read a newspaper every day and follow with interest the social reforms that the Liberals are proposing. You expound these new theories at the debating society that you're a leading member of. You try to have family holidays once or twice a year. When there's enough money, you take your family to seaside resorts at Torquay, Blackpool and Scarborough.  
Living Conditions  
You move from a crowded house in the centre to a pretty, detached villa on the outskirts of the city. You employ two servants who come by the day to help your wife with chores. You buy meat from the local butcher and other food from the grocer, who's a good friend of the family.  
Marital Relations  
You marry your wife at 17 to escape from humiliation when you realise that she's expecting your first child.  
World War One  
You join the army at the outbreak of World War One and rise to become a corporal. Narrowly escaping death, you return home with serious war-wounds that mean you can't work again. You are awarded a Victory Medal and a Star."  
Silver Pool Campaign 1.1.9 : "Back At The Inn"
Posted by darkstar 12 years ago
Below is the Silver Pool Episode 1.1.9 "Back At the Inn". Text was originally appended to Episode 1.1.8 "The Ambush is Sprung".  
All SP episodes and the player character data sheet can be found here.  
Back At The Inn  
The fighting is over.  
You decide that, with the success of the ambush, there is no need to pursue the remaining raiders. To do so in the dark, moreover, would be very risky, as you could easily rush into a counter-ambush yourselves. It seems better to take the bodies back to the village now for searching and proper burial. Leaving them to rot in the woods would be uncivilized and, what's more, might attract predators to the village. It is also vital to get the wounded among you back to the inn for healing. Your party gathers up the bodies and make the short trip back to the village.  
Once they realize you are not the enemy, your fellow villagers let you inside the inn. The doors are barred again and a quick recounting of the ambush is met with cheers from everyone! The bodies of the fallen raiders are deposited on the sawdust-covered floor and two of the village elders begin searching through their effects. Meanwhile, the wounded of your party are ushered upstairs to the room where Mistress Faye is waiting in an makeshift infirmary.  
A few moments later, you are lying on a simple bed in one of the inn's upper rooms. Mistress Faye lays her hands on your shoulder and face and utters incomprehensible but soothing words. Beneath her touch, the blood from your two wounds is stanched and your flesh knits together. You can still feel pain, but where the open wounds once were, now only angry red welts are turning into scars.  
As Mistress Faye finishes her ministrations and prayer over you, you notice an embroidered pattern on her tunic: a familiar sprig of flowers with white blossoms. "Tree of Sorrow", you say, pointing at the embroidery. You swiftly recount the events related to the sudden zephyr during the ambush that may have helped obscure the enemy scout's sense of smell.  
"Yes," she says, smiling. "It is a plant sacred to My Lady Aldrya. I was praying for your party to be successful tonight. Mayhap The Goddess favored you."  
Mistress Faye hands you a small vial of liquid and directs you to drink it, which you do, noting the warming effect of the minty syrup as it goes down. She cleans the blood from your face, neck and arm and collects your bloodied cloths. As she prepares for the next patient, you thank her and gather your things to vacate the room.  
"Be careful not to overdo it for the next few days," she says. "I've only healed the immediate wounds. Your body still needs to recover from the trauma. So get some rest."  
As you make your way downstairs, you observe the village elders conferring in the main hall. They stand around a trestle table piled high with things taken from the dead raiders. Swords, leather armor, spears, daggers, belt pouches, a pack, a pile of coins and some other effects are the topic of intense discussion.  
"Enough," says Elder Milo, raising his hand for silence. "There is still much to consider and we are not yet through this night of trial. Let us secure these things for now and determine tomorrow what to do with them."  
His advice seems to take some of the tension out of the discussion, to the evident relief of many in the room. Milo tells the others to continue to maintain watch, in case the bandits continue their raid, or decide to take revenge for the ambush. The villagers once more take up their positions as Milo and a few others begin gathering up the items from the table.  
It occurs to you just how long a day it has been for you. You hiked over 20 miles today and then wrapped up with a battle after midnight in which you killed two men and were seriously wounded, yourself. A wave of fatigue hits you and you also realize that Mistress Faye must have given you a sleeping draught. Evidently, she is not taking chances as to whether you will get some rest. To be honest, she needn't have worried.  
Mother Gert, passing through the hall, notices your slumped shoulders and drooping eyelids. Smiling knowingly, she comes alongside you and ushers you to the back storeroom where several sleeping pallets have been arranged. She takes your belongings and sets them next to an empty pallet without a word.  
As she eases you onto the thin, straw-filled tick, your last conscious thoughts are of the scent of a certain night-flowering bloom...  
You awaken in a nicer bed than a straw tick on the floor. Evidently, someone moved you while you slept into a simple yet comfortable bed in a small room by yourself. The small window shows the pale golden light of early afternoon. You've slept a while, it seems.  
A moment later, a tap comes at the door and it opens to reveal Elder Milo's youngest daughter with a tray of food. With a shy nod and a short curtsy, the 10-year-old waif leaves the tray on the table next to your bed and quietly slips from the room again.  
A half a loaf of barley bread, a bit of cheese and a small cup of milk breaks your fast. You wash it down with the small pitcher of cool water provided. Your hunger satisfied, you tenderly test your wounds. There is a bit of stiffness in your shoulder, but the pain is gone. You can feel the scar on your face, but there, too, no pain remains of the serious gash that was there.  
As you think of how lucky you were to avoid being killed, another knock comes at the door - more robust this time - followed by Elder Milo. He eyes the empty tray.  
"A strong appetite. That's good. I was going to ask how you feel, but an empty plate is probably the best indicator." He sits on the foot of the bed.  
"You'll be glad to know there was no counter-attack last night, " he continues, anticipating your next question. "It seems our ambush worked."  
"And if what I learned from that defector is true - and we have their leader - it's possible," you suggest, "that we've stopped the raids entirely."  
"I hope so," he says, running his hand over his face and letting out a sigh. His red-rimmed eyes suggest he hasn't had much sleep yet, if at all. "But the Elders are still concerned..."  
"Concerned? Why?"  
He reaches into a pocket in his innkeeper's apron and pulls out a small leather-bound sheaf of papers. "This," he says, brandishing the object. "We got it out of that Bardo rogue's pack. It seems to be a ledger. Marked where he paid his henchmen."  
"Why is that a cause for concern?"  
"Take a look," he says, handing the ledger to you. "Look at the first entry."  
You flip back through the small pages outlining weekly wage payments to the raiders. Each one, paid a silver piece for their week's service, is accompanied by the raider's individual mark. You reach the beginning and read the first entry aloud. "30gp, 250sp from M." As its significance begins to dawn on you, Milo gives voice to it.  
"Yes, it appears that Bardo was paid a significant amount of money from this "M.", whoever that is, at the beginning of the raids. He then paid the raiders out of those funds."  
"But...that would mean the raids weren't simply to gain plunder. Bardo was...hired and bankrolled to stage these raids on Foxglove!?"  
Milo nods with another deep sigh and takes the ledger back from you, slipping it back into his pocket.  
"Yes," he says, grimly. "And that means, despite our victory last night, our troubles may just be getting started."
Posted by darkstar 12 years ago
...According to our new arrival,  
Life is more than mere survival,  
And we might just live the good life, yet.  
-Leon Redbone  
Life is short.  
It's up to you to make it sweet.  
Looking for a miniseries...
Posted by darkstar 12 years ago
It's called "The Haunting of Cassie Palmer". See also here and here.  
It appeared on Nickelodeon's "The Third Eye" back in the 80s. It starred Geoffrey Rose as a ghost named Deverill. British/NZ series, six or seven eps.  
I'd like to watch it again...any ideas of where I can get a copy?  
Interesting poll watching tidbit:
Posted by darkstar 12 years ago
Al Gore is now polling within the MoE of Obama in three key national polls for the Dem nom.  
Also, Gore is consistently beating Edwards in the most recent eight polls taken nationwide that includes him.  
Gore's worldwide simultaneous "Live Earth" Concert takes place on July 7th.  
Will we see an inflection in the polling wherein Gore overtakes Obama in July to take second place behind Clinton, even though Gore is not officially a candidate?
The Silver Pool Campaign
Posted by darkstar 12 years ago
This is the portal page for the Silver Pool D&D campaign.  
Chapter 1: Foxglove Raiders  
Episode 1.1.1: To the Raiders' Hideout (7/26/04)  
Episode 1.1.2: Keeping a Close Watch (8/4/04)  
Episode 1.1.3: A Meeting on the Path (5/26/07)  
Episode 1.1.4: A Bold Bluff! (6/3/07)  
Episode 1.1.5: Warning the Village Elders (6/9/07)  
Episode 1.1.6: Setting an Ambush (6/16/07)  
Episode 1.1.7: A Clever Ruse (6/20/07)  
Episode 1.1.8: The Ambush is Sprung (6/24/07)  
Episode 1.1.9: Back at the Inn (6/30/07)  
Episode 1.1.10: An Interesting Job Offer (6/30/07)  
Chapter 2: A Tracker is You!  
Episode 1.2.1: Back to the Raiders' Cave (7/5/07)  
Episode 1.2.2: Scouting the Cave Surroundings (7/9/07)  
Episode 1.2.3: A Ruse and a Rashness (7/13/07)  
Episode 1.2.4: Exploring the Cave (7/17/07)  
Episode 1.2.5: Shedding Light (7/21/07)  
Episode 1.2.6: Attacking the Darkness! (7/24/07)  
Episode 1.2.7: A Brisk Dip (8/1/07)  
Episode 1.2.8: Clearing the Cave (8/5/07)  
Episode 1.2.9: A Discreet Withdrawal (8/7/07)  
Episode 1.2.10: Durk's Story (8/10/07)  
Episode 1.2.11: A Night in the Thicket (8/14/07)  
Episode 1.2.12: Justice for a Brigand (8/18/07)  
Episode 1.2.13: An Opportunity for Advancement (8/19/07)  
Episode 1.2.14: Au Naturel (8/24/07)  
Chapter 3: The Glimmerweald  
Episode 1.3.1: A Dire Party Crasher (8/26/07)  
Episode 1.3.2: Treed! (8/31/07)  
Episode 1.3.3: A Well Executed Plan (9/1/07)  
Episode 1.3.4: Survival Snaring (9/7/07)  
Episode 1.3.5: Well Met (9/7/07)  
Episode 1.3.6: No Free Lunches (9/7/07)  
Episode 1.3.7: To the Hive! (9/11/07)  
Episode 1.3.8: Tree of Sorrow (9/14/07)  
Episode 1.3.9: A Grisly Inventory (9/21/07)  
Episode 1.3.10: Catching a Buzz  
Episode 1.3.11 (to come...)  
About your character:  
Name: Kit  
Class: Ranger / Druid  
Level: 2 (1st Ranger / 1st Druid)  
XP: 1065 (next level at 3000)  
Hit Points: 16  
Special skills: Woodland Lore, Knowledge (Nature), Animal Empathy, Concentration  
Druidic talents: Nature Sense (identify plants, animals and safe drinking water)  
Feats: Track, Alertness  
Cash: 10 sp, 11 cp  
Your spells:  
You may cast 3 from 0-level and 1 from 1st-level every day.  
0-level known:  
Cure minor wounds(1hp)  
Create Water  
1st level known:  
Animal Friendship (works on up to 2 Hit Dice animals)  
Cure Light Wounds (1d8+1 hp)  
Your current location:  
In the eastern end of the Glimmerweald valley along the trail to Viscount Grall's lands. Somewhere near an orangemantle wasp hive. Approximately midnight, full moon, standing in front of a Tree of Sorrow and the corpse of a tax collector.  
Your current quest(s):  
A. "Tracker" for Foxglove Village. You are in the employ of the Village of Foxglove as a tracker. Ostensibly, your task is to retrieve missing cattle lost in the recent raids. However, this is a cover for your actual task, which is to track down any information you can find about who or what is behind the evidently larger conspiracy to raid the village.  
You are being paid 2 silver pieces per week, with a 10 sp advance. You will be paid an additional 1 sp for each cow, pig or goat returned (though it is not expected you will necessarily find any missing livestock). At the end of one month, the Village Elders will determine whether this arrangement should continue. The pay is less than the standard "1 sp per day" for hired help, but the village is poor (and on very hard times!), and there's a chance for significant loot to augment your wage.  
Loot gained from raiders or those in direct involvement with staging the raids will be split equally between your party and the village to use for reconstruction. Your party's portion of such spoils will be divided into equal shares, with you as the leader getting an extra share.  
Loot legally gained during your adventures from sources not directly responsible for the raids may be divided with the party members in a manner which you determine is fair, with no portion of the loot being owed to the village for such spoils.  
Your current inventory:  
In your hands:  
Spear (ash-wood, steel tip, steel butt-cap)  
Simple clothing (shirt, breeches, tunic, small cap)  
Med-high, soft, leather boots  
Coat of metal-studded, flexible leather armor  
Leather belt  
Leather beltpouch  
Leather backpack (small)  
Cotton canvas shoulder bag from Brother Owen  
Longsword (fine) in Black leather belt & scabbard  
Dagger (fine, silvered) with black leather scabbard  
In the Cotton canvas shoulder bag from Brother Owen:  
Potion: repel vermin  
3 tindertwigs  
3 flasks of oil  
In your beltpouch:  
Small leather drawstring coin bag (with 10 sp, 11 cp)  
Small canvas drawstring bag with four small sling stones  
Small hunting sling (for small animals)  
Potion: cure minor wounds (1 hp): will stop blood loss, close wounds and heal 1 hp damage.  
In your backpack:  
Dagger with leather scabbard, strangely iridescent sheen on blade (from corpse in Glimmerweald)  
8' x 8' oiled canvas tarp, pegs and lengths of twine (stored in a canvas bag)  
Waterskin, full  
50' ball of twine  
25' rope  
Canvas drawstring bag with trail rations (hardtack, oatcakes, hard cheese, etc.)  
Canvas fishing kit: three small fishhooks, two 10' lengths of silk thread, 3'x3' fish netting  
Small torch  
Pewter cup  
Twine (5 four-foot lengths, pre-knotted as hunting snares)  
Flint-stone and a bit of fire-starter lint  
Knife (simple but functional) with leather scabbard  
Potion: create water: a drop will make an ounce of water, flask contains 264 drops (about 26 ml / about a fluid ounce of potion). Therefore, about two gallons total creation (or 32 cups).  
Left with friend in village: Staff  
Linkfilter Consulting Group (a division of BISCO™)
Posted by darkstar 12 years ago
Inspired by chatter, LinkFilter Consulting Group offers a wide range of core competencies to meet your every personal and business consulting need! Just look at the geekery and competence we have to offer!  
(Please feel free to comment with your suggestions!)  
{Inspired by the following chatter...  
Fluffy> geeks: need help  
Fluffy> I mean I need help from one or more geeks  
darkstar> what particular field of geekery?  
darkstar> I'm chemistry, politics, history and linguistics  
darkstar> For computers, cuisine, automotive repair, etc., I'll need to redirect you.  
Fluffy> computer geek  
darkstar> Ah.  
darkstar> What particular area of computer geekery?  
bear> how's the guitar playing fluffy?  
Fluffy> looking at a new PC, thinking I want to build it myself  
darkstar> bear's travel, computers and guitars  
Fluffy> bear: I have a bruise under the callus under my index finger  
LowFlyingMule> geeks here!  
Fluffy> it hurts to type  
* * * bear is a geek?  
bear> wow bruises that's playing too hard I think  
bear> hi darkstar  
Fluffy> my question: can I just take my HD out of my current PC, swap it into the new one, and be up and running with minimal hassle?  
darkstar> LFM's dachshunds, 16th Century madrigals and sex counseling.  
bear> fluffy did you see my last journal about computers?  
bear> fluffy most likely but you may run into some driver issues  
bear> if you can get it into safe mode you should be able to get it running again if nto just reinstall windows on the same drive and all your other data will still be there  
bear> what OS?  
* * * FuzzyDave knows better than to suggest buying a Mac.  
Hugh2d2> Be careful... the HAL (hardware access layer) might prevent you from even booting to safemode if the hardware is too different from theoriginal.  
Fluffy> XP  
bear> hugh is right but still you can just install it on top of existing drive assuming you have the same windows install cd  
bear> your programs and all yoru files will still be there  
darkstar> Fuzzydave is documentaries, bordellos and teh funny.  
bear> or another nice way to do it is install your old drive as a slave  
bear> then copy whatever you need to your new drive, format it and then you have all yoru files with a nice clean OS that doesnt' have a lot of plaquey buildup from installing and uninstaling programs over the years  
FuzzyDave> ??  
darkstar> Hugh, evidently, is computers and alien-human hybridization.  
bear> then you also have your slave drive for mp3s or whatever large files you use  
bear> d* make a blog about it and let people suggest what others titles/jobs here should be for fun I bet it'd be funny the suggestions we get  
FuzzyDave> whatchoo talkin bout, darkstar?  
darkstar> fd: our areas of geekery ;)  
Hugh2d2> That's exactly what I would do Bear. Install it as a slave drive and go with no issues. (Sometimes an install of XP can go horribly wrong.)  
Fluffy> meh...I don't want to have to buy a new drive  
FuzzyDave> ahhhhh. tenk yu  
My House Rules on D&D Coinage
Posted by darkstar 12 years ago
A Short Treatise on my House Rules for D&D Coinage  
When I'm playing a game, it never fails that someone will ask a question related to coinage size and weight. Usually, it's when we're trying to figure out how many coins are in that chest we just found in the dragon's hoard, or how much does 1500 silver pieces weigh and can Brother Oen carry them all in his backpack.  
Normally, I try not to sweat the small stuff when handling a game. If it's not critical to the plot, then I tend to make a common-sense ruling and then carry on so as to not get mired into tedious detail. However, sometimes it is necessary to make a simple calculation so that, even in the fantasy realm, a modicum of logical consistency can be achieved. The D&D Rulebooks have a habit of setting forth a regulation for standard coinage that is superficially simple, but not self-consistent. And this lack of self-consistency makes further reconciliation of the size with the mass of such coins actually quite problematic. Thus, this is one of the many areas where, when I manage a game, I institute my own house rules.  
I will hand it to the rulebooks: the latest incarnation of standard coinage in the official rules is better that previous efforts. It still suffers in a number of ways, though, that a house rule can address.  
First, the official rules offer a standard coin size that is usually completely impractical for a medieval economy, fantasy-based though it may be. The standard size, as shown on page 146 of the latest Player's Handbook, measures 1 and 3/16 inches (3 cm) wide. Now, this size of coin may well appeal to fantasy gamers, and in that sense, it's a great idea. But it creates a huge inconsistency in a variety of other areas that confound simplicity. Namely, that amount of precious metal is incredibly heavy in any significant bulk. And furthermore, it's not even self-consistent with the 50-coins-per-pound guideline set forth by the rules.  
A slug of (mostly pure) gold that size, for example, would weigh nearly a full ounce avoirdupois (26.86 grams). If you're trying to figure out how many coins are in a chest of a given volume, and how much those coins weigh, it's easy to see how the game rules actually give you completely incompatible (and insolvable) mass vs volume calculations.  
Second, a chunk of precious metal (silver, for example) that large, while flashy, is hardly likely to be encountered in common trade. It's entirely too large to be practical and one would expect that coins of much smaller size would be in use. Notwithstanding that the fantasy realm can have widely divergent standards, it is usually the case that such simple tropes as the manner of currency trade and precious metals economics are fairly consistent.  
Third, the 50-coin-per-pound rule completely ignores the variable density (a significant difference) for different precious metals.  
It would be helpful to have a standard coin size that was reasonably attested to in history and which could yield reasonable coin masses for various metal compositions. All the better if it is a coin size that is in common circulation, so folks had a tangible example they could see and feel.  
In our own world, for example, Athenian silver "owl" tetradrachms were in common usage for centuries and their size was copied throughout later centuries even after that coin was discontinued. While coins were larger or smaller, they are the average size of coins in common usage. And, in fact, the US 5-cent piece (the "Jefferson nickel") is about exactly the same size: they are struck on blanks 21mm (0.83 inches) in diameter and 1.95 mm (0.08 inches) thick.  
(This is rather thinner than the Athenian owls, but as it turns out, it makes for a mass about that of the Athenian silver stater, the next smaller sized coin in Athenian currency. Overall, this makes for very good standard size of coin.)  
By using a house rule that makes the US nickel the standard coin size in my campaigns, it enables me to have a simple and self-consistent mass and volume for coinage for those times when it's needed.  
For Volume...  
Based on the above dimensions, the volume for a given coin is approximately 675 cubic mm. That converts to 0.675 cubic cm or 0.04 cubic inches. In one cubic foot, therefore, the maximum number of coins (assuming perfect packing with no gaps) is 1728 / 0.04 = 43,200 coins. Because coins do not pack perfectly, assume a conservative one-half volume efficiency for loose coins. Therefore, approximately 21,600 (or more) loose coins will fit in one cubic foot (regardless of the metal) and for our metric friends, 763 coins per liter.  
For Mass...  
Because of the density of metals varies, weights for the coins will also vary. Based on nearly 100% purity (not perfectly achieved, but a close enough approximation), coins would weigh approximately:  
i. Platinum: (d=21.4 g/cm3)(0.675cm3) = 14.45g = ~32 per pound (or 71 per kg).  
ii. Gold: (d=19.3 g/cm3)(0.675cm3) = 13.03g = ~35 per pound (or 77 per kg).  
iii. Silver: (d=10.5 g/cm3)(0.675cm3) = 7.09g = ~64 per pound (or 141 per kg).  
iv. Copper: (d=9.0 g/cm3)(0.675cm3) = 6.08g = ~75 per pound (or 165 per kg).  
Thus, the house rule standardizing coinage on the Athenian tetradrachm model allows a ready sample of the coin size (the US nickel), a reliable volume calculation for bulk coinage and reliable mass calculations for bulk coins.  
These figures aren't generally necessary to deal with for most of a campaign. But every now and then I'll get a question like "how many silver pieces can I fit in my bag of holding and how much would it then weigh?" With this reliable means of calculating coinage mass and volume, you can do a 30-second calculation on a scratch pad and give an answer that is entirely self-consistent and won't destroy the local economy.  
What your players do with those coins once they get them back to town, well, that's their business...  
So, I've been doing the (mostly) vegetarian thing this week.
Posted by darkstar 12 years ago
It may be placebo effect, but I do feel less sluggish and torpid. Plus, I'd been eating poorly - lots of dairy and meat and no veggies - for the past couple of weeks, which I'm sure hasn't been good for me. So I thought I'd do a 1-week vegan trip.  
My favorite snacks of the deliciousness right now include:  
1. Baby carrots (raw)  
2. Sugar peas (raw) (...I've found that munching one baby carrot and one sugar pea pod at the same time makes them both taste even better)  
3. Dried apricots  
4. Dried black mission figs.  
5. Sun-dried tomatoes.  
6. Gala, fuji and pink lady apples.  
7. Bananas.  
8. Oranges.  
Breakfasts are shredded wheat topped with honey, in skim milk (my one nonvegan thing).  
Simple salads made with butter lettuce, diced tomatoes, diced cukes and balsamic vinaigrette is yummy.  
Tomato and "mayo" dressing sandwiches on multi-grain bread, toasted, makes an outstanding BrotPause.  
I mostly drink water. Occasionally, to add extra protein to my diet, I'll have a glass of soy milk/green tea blend (...this tastes really good, imho, and much better than straight soy milk).  
More substantial meals of rice or pasta with a lightly sauteed primavera of diced squash, for example.  
I'm loving it!  
p.s. I almost forgot, I'm trying out this new Smart Balance Omega Peanut Butter, too. Added omega 3 fatty acid, so I don't have to take the fish oil or flaxseed oil. It has a nuttier, more true-to-peanut flavor than the premium brands like Jif and Skippy, though it does cost more.
Happy Loyalty Day!
Posted by darkstar 12 years ago
May 1, 2007  
President George W. Bush  
The White House  
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue  
Washington, DC 20500  
Dear Mr. President,  
Today, in your veto message regarding the bipartisan legislation just passed on Operation Iraqi Freedom, you asserted that you so decided because you listen to your commanders on the ground.  
Respectfully, as your former commander on the ground, your administration did not listen to our best advice. In fact, a number of my fellow Generals were forced out of their jobs, because they did not tell you what you wanted to hear -- most notably General Eric Shinseki, whose foresight regarding troop levels was advice you rejected, at our troops' peril.  
As someone who served this nation for decades, I have the utmost respect for the office you hold. However, as a man of conscience, I could not sit idly by as you told the American people today that your veto was based on the recommendations of military men. Your administration ignored the advice of our military's finest minds before, and I see no evidence that you are listening to them now.  
I urge you to reconsider your position, and work with Congress to pass a bill that achieves the goals laid out above.  
Major General Paul D. Eaton, USA, Retired  
Great moments in punditry.
Posted by darkstar 12 years ago