Friday, March 29, 2019

DnD Is Good For That

"Oh by the way Daddy," said my twelve-year-old son from the back seat of the car, "I mentioned the DnD game you're going to run for us to one of my friends, and she really wants to play."

I boggled at that for the space of a heartbeat, but it didn't have to be a family-only game and honestly we could use a couple more players anyway. Plus, I was pretty sure I knew which friend this was already. So, "Sure," I said. "Did you happen to get contact information?"

Firstborn nodded. "It turns out," he told me, "that I got a girl's phone number without even asking."

I nodded back. "DnD is good for that."

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Vendril Hits His Stride

Our D'n'D group finally retrieved our sorceress tonight. She got kidnapped back in January (though it's obviously been a lot less time in-game), and tonight we finally caught up to her and rescued her from the Solari who was guarding her. ("Solari" in this world are basically just high-level characters of any class; they're strategically important because -- given the way D'n'D scales -- they can tip a battle all by themselves. This one was a warrior of some sort.)

We're at about eighth level now, with my elvish Rogue/Ranger running a 3/5 split, and while he seemed a little weak early on (some of that was just bad rolls -- low level characters are way more dependent on the results of the dice than mid-to-high level characters are) I think he's finally caught up. I say this because in our last two games, he's managed to sneak up and perforate some bad guys, and he's finally managed to A) hit and B) deliver some real damage using two-weapon fighting. He's never going to be Drizzt and he's a bit more vulnerable than a front-line fighter should be, but he used a potion of invisibility tonight and put the first damage on the Solari with shortsword, dagger, favored enemy bonus, and sneak attack - plus the inspiration bonus from the bard. He's not using the best weapons in the game, but he's stacking all the bonuses he can find on them.

The fighter puts out more damage, of course. That's what fighters do, and this one is equipped with a guisarme and opens every fight with a trip attack. Tonight's battle... well...

Okay, so, we got to the door where the Solari was waiting. The sorceress, his prisoner, used her magic to make it look like the door had opened, so he started monologuing. This, while we were outside the door, listening to his muffled voice, and letting the bard cast buffs to strengthen us. It would have been a tough battle if we'd just charged in. Instead, well...

My character drank an Invisibility potion and used his first round to get into position. The possessed paladin charged straight in and put himself in threat range. The fighter came in and positioned himself as well.

The bad guy rolled out of the way of everyone he could see, but that put him in a position where my character could step in and make a full attack... with the sneak attack bonus for being a rogue, and the favored enemy bonus because the Solari was human, and an extra attack because the Bard had cast Haste. It didn't put him down, but it was a good opening. Then the paladin attacked, and then the fighter stepped in and attacked with a ridiculous amount of reach because he was both Enlarged and Enraged. The bad guy fell down, and while that wasn't technically the end of the battle it effectively settled the issue.

Anyway, all of that is to say that I'm actually really pleased with the way Vendril has done in play, and I'm liking the dex-based Rogue/Ranger crossover better than I probably would have liked either class alone.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Secondborn's Marvelous Weekend, Part Three

Sunday was quieter, at least relatively. I still didn't manage to sleep in, not the way I wanted (and probably needed) to do, but we had a good morning of television and video games and general relaxation (except for, well, the laundry). Somewhere in there I started writing up these entries.

Then, as we usually do on Sundays, we went down to see my father - the boys' grandfather.

His new wife had a client coming in, so she was pretty well stuck in the house for the afternoon and it was better if the rest of us were elsewhere. (HIPAA is a harsh mistress, as Heinlein might have pointed out.) So, we grabbed Granddaddy and headed out in search of a restaurant, and landed at Freebird's. This went amazingly well, all things considered: the servers talked Granddaddy through the available options as he went down the line (which he needed, because he basically can't see any kind of details), the boys enjoyed their quesadillas and would gladly eat there again, Beautiful Wife got to eat something she knew she liked, and I got queso. (Well, and a burrito, but after that much queso I only ate a little burrito and packaged up the rest for later. No shortage of tinfoil here...)

After that, we went in search of a park.

The first one, which I found by way of Google, was mainly ball fields with only a little bit of play equipment. We didn't even stop. Instead, we went down to one I remembered from my youth, which wasn't big but sat right on the bank of a creek and had a couple of bridges connecting to a central island and a dam you could walk across.

The boys loved it, and honestly it's nicer than I remembered. The parks department had done a great job of preserving some of the original features while adding in more modern play equipment as well. Secondborn immediately found some kids to play with, and a dog whose owner was willing to let Secondborn help him play Fetch. So that kept us busy for about an hour.

Then we returned to Granddaddy's house and parked ourselves on the porch, where we tried out a tent he had that he thought would fit me better (it did) and an air mattress I had that we thought would work better for something he has coming up. (It would.) The boys, meanwhile, changed into bathing suits and went outside to "swim" - which actually meant "start inflating water balloons for a water balloon conflict", with a bit of "try to clean the oak leaves out of the pool" thrown in for good major. (They actually came up with that second part on their own, and yes I'm terribly proud of that.)

Grandaddy doesn't have as much energy as he used to, so I generally keep our visits relatively short, but this one was an exception; it was nearly 5:30 by the time we coaxed the boys back into their clothes and back into the van, and creeping towards 6:00 buy the time we got home. And, of course, even after we'd brought everything in, Seconborn wanted to go on a walk. He had an egg in Pokemon Go, and walking would be needed in order to hatch it. So we took my woefully undercharged phone, and went on a walk.

Ladies, Gentlemen, and sundry other Notables: that was the part that broke me. I thought I'd just take the boy on a walk, take one for the team, and let Beautiful Wife cook dinner... and I suppose I did. But I came back from that walk with nothing left. My feet hurt. My calves ached. I was perfectly ready to collapse.

I couldn't, of course, because... well... parent. That was when the tornado sirens went off, and we put everybody -- including the cat -- into the bathroom. They stopped a few minutes later, and we served dinner.

So after all that we ate dinner, and eventually got the boys down even though it cost us extravagant promises that I fear we may not be able to keep. (What does Secondborn need to do with a water balloon for his YouTube video, anyway?) But finally, at last, all was quiet, and all we would have to worry about was getting the boys up and ready for school. Oh, yeah, and there was a magnificent thunderstorm, but I generally count those as good omens.

Tomorrow is another day, am I right?

Because people keep saying that to me like they think it's a promise, but it always, always sounds like a threat.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Secondborn's Marvelous Weekend, Part Two

So, following our night of Back Yard Camping, Secondborn reminded Beautiful Wife that she had promised to let him call one of his friends from school. We did this, and naturally the two aspiring YouTube Video Creators wanted to have a play date. So we made arrangements, and after a while the friend's mom dropped Secondborn's friend at our house.

We were, more or less, ready.

I took all three boys (Firstborn, Secondborn, and Friend) down to the school playground at the end of the street and turned them loose with Nerf guns for The Great Nerf-Gun Battle Of 2019 (may its horrors and its glories never be forgotten). That lasted about half an hour, plus twenty minutes of walking each way. After that, the younger boys settled in to make videos while Firstborn had his bass lesson.

Secondborn and his friend really wanted to turn the whole thing into a sleepover, but we managed to head that off.

Despite that bit of disappointment, though, they had a great time and Friend's Mom asked about maybe arranging a trade-off over the summer, where we'd take turns dropping one boy off at the other's house. (If you aren't a parent, you might conceivably not realize that opportunities like that are pure gold and should cultivated immediately, especially if the friend and his family seem like nice, sane, balanced people.) (They do.) So that one was really a win all the way around, and Secondborn had the Best Saturday Ever.

I might have been just a wee bit tired by the end of the day, but that's the price we pay for a child who was A. completely thrilled with his life, and B. actually ready to go to sleep when bedtime came around. And honestly, I feel like we really don't provide enough of these opportunities for him; Secondborn is an extrovert in a family of introverts, and the amount of emotional stimulation he needs wears the rest of us out. That doesn't change the fact that he needs it, though. And he's getting old enough to seek it out himself: he's the one who got us his friend's phone number, for example.

So how did Sunday go? Well...

Oh, no, wait. You can't read that part 'til tomorrow.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Secondborn's Marvelous Weekend, Part One

Secondborn has been asking about sleeping outdoors in a tent in the backyard. So (entirely against my better judgement) I told him that he and I could camp in the back yard on Friday. I had hoped to spare Beautiful Wife and Firstborn, but... no, they got roped in too. Fortunately, we have two two-person tents. (I think they're technically three-person tents, but the official tent rating appear to be based on the presumption that you can merge your flesh with that of your tent-mates, and also that you can all lie there like mummies, with no need to stretch out or roll over.) So I came home from work to find that both tents had been set up in the back yard, and when bedtime rolled around we all went outside to "sleep".

I was fully prepared to sleep. I was absolutely exhausted, coming off a very long and stressful week, and completely ready to crash and burn. I warned Secondborn that when we got into the tent, he'd need to be still and quiet because I was going to read two pages of my book and start snoring.

It... didn't quite play out like that.

Tents are just cloth. They are the exact opposite of soundproof. So we listened to Beautiful Wife and Firstborn chatting quietly, until they got quiet. Secondborn settled down next to me... and then started trying to set up a nightlight. I told him not to bother, and he settled in. Then, just as I was falling asleep, he sat back up and started trying to play something on his tablet. I told him to put it down and go to sleep, and he settled again. I settled too, and was just starting to drift to sleep when he sat back up again. This time he was worried because we couldn't hear Firstborn and Beautiful Wife. "That," I told him with some asperity, "is because they're asleep."

Secondborn settled in again, and this time was quiet and still for a good half an hour. I'd missed my window for falling asleep by this point, so I was reading. (Space Unicorn Blues as it happens, and I highly recommend it.) Then the wind picked up a little, and started rustling the rain fly (which at first made me think we were maybe getting drizzled on, but no: no precipitation, just a bit of wind). That woke Secondborn up again, so I asked if he wanted a little bit of Melatonin. He agreed, and we went inside and did that, and then came back out and settled in the tent again.

It was now 11:15, and the child was A. still awake, and B. chatty.

But, I got him settled again, and the Melatonin did its work, and he finally really slept.

It still wasn't quiet outside; we're talking about the Metroplex on a Friday night, and it has a deep, steady roar composed of hundreds of engines carrying people around the city. But it was quiet enough. And while we hadn't put down mattresses, I had thrown a sleeping bag under us and the tent was set up on a nice stretch of smooth grass. I'd been worried that I might not be able to sleep on a (relatively) hard surface like that, but while I'm definitely older than I used to be I'm not old enough for that to be a problem. No, the real issue with getting comfortable is that I'm almost exactly as tall as the tent is long, which makes it impossible to sleep with my head on one arm and my legs fully extended. (Secondborn, of course, does not share this problem.) So there was a lot of shifting around and rolling over, and having my limbs in strange but not really uncomfortable positions. All in all, though, it wasn't bad; I was aware of those things, but I still managed to be asleep.

Sometime the next morning when it was starting to get light, I heard the door to the kitchen open and close. Beautiful Wife and Firstborn had retreated into the house. It had turned chilly in the early morning, and Secondborn was cuddled against my back and rapidly taking over my pillow. (I really should have seen that coming and had an extra blanket ready, but oh well.) We slept a little longer, and when it was bright enough that I couldn't sleep anymore I nudged Secondborn awake and we went inside to join them.

I went to the back room and slept a little bit longer on the bed. (Not all that much longer, really; I'd actually slept pretty well in the tent.) Secondborn, meanwhile, immediately dropped into his mother leftover (and still very hot) bath water to warm up.

Secondborn was thrilled, y'all. Not only had we Had An Adventure, but it was an adventure that he'd come up with and largely directed. Bonus points for the fact that it didn't start to rain until mid-morning, after we'd had a chance to haul in everything that had been in the tents. Double bonus points for the Beautiful Wife making scrambled eggs for the boys and bacon-sirloin and cheddar omelettes for us.

But the weekend wasn't over yet...

Friday, March 22, 2019

We were hopeful

They took us from our homes only to dump us in cavernous rooms with piles of edible nutrient-goop and basins of water. We didn't know what had happened, and at first we were terrified... but when they didn't come back, everybody just kind of settled in.

We argued about it. We thought they'd forgotten us. We thought they were preserving us, trying to save us.

So this time when they gathered a group of us and put us in a smaller container for transport, we weren't so scared. We clung to the grips and waited to see where we'd end up next. We were... hopeful.

Then the transport opened and turned, and maybe a quarter of us stumbled out into a new world: hot, dry, sandy. There was a rock formation in one direction, a shallow pool of water nearby, and another rock formation just beyond it. This one wasn't as tall as the first, and it had a cave.

Davros had just said something about taking shelter in the cave when it emerged. It came from the cave, of course. We didn't even see what it was at first, just this blur of movement like a giant hammer falling on Lilly. Only instead of being crushed, she was taken.

We fled in all directions -- any way that took us away from that cave and the beast inside. There was no plan. There was only panic.

But now we know: they didn't take us so they could protect us. They took us to be food for their horrible beasts.

There is no escape. This world is too small. So we hide. We wait. We creep outside during the day, when the beast sometimes sleeps, to take what we can of food and water. None of us expect to survive. We only wait to warn the ones who are brought here next.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

My job, my career, my co-workers...

I have now received, for the first time in my life, an interoffice envelope filled with empty/used toilet-paper tubes.

I feel like this is both the culmination and the perfect summary of my career.

I'm not even the one collecting them. For fuck's sake, I just send out the emails. But here I sit, at my desk, with an envelope full of depleted toilet-paper rolls.

I long for the sweet embrace of darkness.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Blogging Challenge: Characters I Want To Meet

So, I've been participating in (and enjoying) the weekly Blogging Challenge over at Long and Short Reviews. This week's challenge is "Characters I Want To Meet".

I'm... I'm just going to point out that I read a lot of Cosmic Horror. It seems like the kind of thing I ought to mention at this point.

But okay, I mean, not everything I read is unrelenting horror. (Well, outside of the news, anyway.) So let's see...

Gimli. I mean, I'm not saying I'd go hunt Uruk-Hai with the fellow, not without magic or much better armor than I have. My swordsmanship isn't that good, and my archery is... decades out of practice. But a good meal and a few drinks after a long day of battle? Dwarvish hospitality? Absolutely. It'd be fun.

Corwin of Amber. Immortal Prince, able to find his way through the myriad worlds of Shadow, sarcastic bastard, expert swordsman, possible sorcerer, musician and composer. Again, I'd be a lot safer if I stayed out of the black magic and sudden death parts of his adventures, but he'd be a hell of a lot of fun to talk to or have a drink with.

Maskelle, from Martha Wells' standalone novel Wheel of the Infinite. The bitter, cranky, obstreperous Voice of The Adversary, who has to put up with (and take care of) way more shit than she really deserves but does it with a certain bloody-minded style. She'd be very dangerous company to keep, but a hell of a lot of fun to have a drink with.

Kaia Steelflower from Lilith Saintcrow's Steelflower chronicles. A hard-fighting, hard-drinking mercenary-turned-elf-princess who finds herself half-accidentally shepherding a band of unlikely companions... this is someone who knows how to party.

In fact, I'm seeing a distinct theme here. So let's throw in...

Hail Bristol, the gunrunner princess from K.B. Wagers' excellent Indranan War series.

...And then let's just all get together for a cross-genre pub crawl. Hijinks are guaranteed to ensue.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Better!

So, my cunning plan to Get All The Rest this weekend actually went pretty well (despite a couple of interrupted naps), and my immune system appears to be catching up with whatever I've been trying to shake off for the last three weeks. All of which is a fancy way of saying that I'm feeling a lot more energetic and a lot better focused than I have in a while. I might even get some writing done.

(It feels weird to say that, because actually I'm writing all the damned time on one thing or another. It's just the extended, novel-length projects that A. I never seem to make much progress on, and B. I somehow think of as my "real" writing.)

Meanwhile, I went ahead and ordered a pre-packaged Dungeons and Dragons campaign, because I'd really like to play with the boys but I don't have the prep time to design my own campaign. I'd kind of resisted doing that, because it means moving from 3.5 to Fifth Edition; but I've been looking over 5e and I've discovered that I quite like it. It seems both simpler and better organized than the older versions, plus there are a lot of character options that I find really appealing.

Also, y'all, the cat has horrible diarrhea. I mention that because he just dropped the absolute stinkiest poop ever to hit a litter box. We're talking "violates the Geneva convention" here. OMGWTFstink...

Right, buried that. Now to wait for the air to clear. Pardon the digression.

Anyway, there's a ton of stuff going on at work this week, but I'm just going to buckle down and work through it as best I can. A lot of it is new to me, so it's taking longer than it would if I were more... well... if I actually knew what I was doing, TBH. But here we are anyway. I went ahead and applied for a Project Manager position, because I feel like if my Ur-Boss is going to triple my workload I should get some kind of corresponding pay increase; we'll see where, if anywhere, that goes. If it doesn't go, well, there are some other options I can look at.

TL/DR: Work is busy-busy-busy, it's been too long since I've played/run D'n'D, Elderly Cat is nightmarishly stinky, but I'm finally starting to feel better.

How's your Monday looking?

Friday, March 15, 2019

Sick Again

So, whatever this is that I've been trying to shake off for the last two weeks finally caught up with me yesterday, and I left work at mid-morning and went back home and slept, then went to bed relatively early last night as well. (Ten o'clock is relatively early, right?) Woke up with my first alarm, decided there was no way I was getting out of bed yet, and went back to sleep until my second alarm. Which means the boys got to sleep in until 6:30, which is going to make it real hard to get them up for school on Monday, but apparently that's where we're at. I did at least get them down to bed on time last night, so if we can keep that up that'll be something.

Meanwhile I'm back at work, and while I don't feel like I'm about to collapse (that was yesterday), I'm still feeling... well... I hope somebody got the number of that truck, mainly. Tired, a little sore, still with the occasional bit of upper-respiratory cough and the low energy, plus the swollen lymph nodes in my throat. Energy is... okay. Like, I shouldn't move too fast, but if I can keep it slow and steady I should be able to get through the day. That could change, though; we'll see.

Meanwhile I finished re-playing the first two Infamous games, and I've started back into Bloodborne. (Because apparently I'm in the mood to die a lot? Yeah, looks like it.) Writing is basically at a standstill -- I had that lovely little epiphany back at the first of the month, but I haven't had the time or energy or focus (mostly energy and focus) to pursue it.

With any luck, I can take it very easy this weekend and recuperate enough to get my energy back. Next week we're back on schedule, but I think that'll actually make things easier as long as we're all reasonably healthy by then. Take care of yourselves, my friends.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Parenting: Crickets

Things I never thought I'd hear myself say before becoming a parent, part 7,654: "I need to remember to pick up some more crickets on the way home."

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Weekly Blogging Challenge: A Day In My Life

It's Wednesday, and for the moment that means taking part in the Weekly Blogging Challenge. This week's prompt is "A Day In My Life".

Y'all, a day in my life is pretty boring. If it's a weekday, then it's wake up, wake everybody else up, desperately wish I could go back to sleep, get some food ready for the boys, take a shower, coax the boys into finally eating their breakfast, coax the boys into getting dressed, then head off to work for a full day of doing improbable things on computers. Then I come home, eat dinner, put the boys through their interminable bedtime routine, and utterly fail to find any writing time.

If it's a weekend or a holiday, then my day is a semi-random mix of housecleaning, video games, and reading, punctuated by meals at odd hours, and an extended break designed to Get The Boys Outside And Make Them Exercise because they're bouncing off the walls and making us crazy. (I will note again -- and I am not at all bitter about this -- that writing time does not figure prominently into this version of the Typical Day either.)

So, y'know, let's not discuss a day in my life. Instead, let's look at a day in the life of my current protagonist, who's in the care of a nameless order running a remote monastery which serves as a sort of finishing school for children of power. Half the point of placing your child in this monastery is to keep them hidden, so naturally the nameless order does not make glossy, full-color brochures describing their curriculum and the natural advantages of their scenic location, but if they did it might sound something like this:
Welcome to the nameless monastery! Located deep in the Grediv mountains, in an unnaturally temperate plateau atop a remote mountain, the monastery is home to select members of the nameless order who will keep your child safely hidden from whatever hereditary enemies, political rivals, or dark mystical forces might otherwise threaten them.

During your child's stay, our brothers and sisters will instruct them in all the skills and knowledge they need to survive -- and thrive -- in the future. A typical day in the monastery might look something like this:

Pre-dawn: Rise, make your ablutions, and pull on your robe.

Dawn: Eat in the dining hall. On most occasions, the fare here is plain but good.

First hour: Exercise. A healthy body is important even to those with power. Running, climbing, swimming, dance, and gymnastics are all typical uses for the hour of exercise.

Second hour: A study of the basics of governance, including the customs, languages, and histories of various lands and peoples; the basis of taxation and expenditure; and the nature and application of laws.

Third and Fourth Hour: Outdoor activities, including riding, woodcraft, various sorts of hunting, sailing, rowing, navigation, and survival.

Lunch: This hour is devoted not only to eating, but also to resting and socializing.

Sixth Hour: Speech. Students will build a solid basic vocabulary, and develop a strong understanding of grammar in order to create their own phrases and chants for a variety of purposes. Acolytes who are already familiar with the grounding of sorcery will be moved to more advanced and specialized studies, depending on their aptitudes and interests.

Seventh Hour: Combat training, including unarmed, melee, and ranged weapons, with an introduction to small-unit tactics and more general study of tactics and strategy. Depending on the day, this class may be extremely physical or entirely devoted to books, maps, and military theory.

Eighth Hour: Specialized Electives for acolytes whose needs or interests are not covered by the standard activities of the day. This can include topics such as poisons and assassinations, learning an additional language, further studies in sorcery, developing or coping with special talents, the world-doors and their exploration, or the taming and care of birds and beasts.

Ninth Hour: Free time, though the Order strongly advises using it for cleanup, laundry, and basic chores. Your child may well expect to be surrounded by servants for the rest of their life, but they should still know how to take care of themselves if something goes wrong.

Dinner: The evening meal is served in the dining hall, but acolytes are allowed and even encouraged to break off and eat elsewhere, including their own rooms, the smaller tables on the balcony, or the gardens.

Evening: While group activities and entertainment are common, evenings are considered free time. A variety of games and books are available, along with the tools (and training, if needed) for a variety of crafts.

Your child's time in the nameless monastery will not only keep them safe, it will help prepare them to deal with almost any situation. How better to prepare them for the duties and stations they will one day assume?
Yeah, that's what my day should be like.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Stolen!

Me: "Stop! Thief!"

Officer: "What happened?"

Me: "I'm missing an hour! A WHOLE HOUR! It was there when I went to sleep!"

Officer: "..."

Me: "Well?"

Officer: "Fine, I'll put out an APB for the corporeal manifestation of Daylight Savings Time, but I warn you he's a slippery bastard."

Monday, March 11, 2019

Spring Break

The boys have begun their Spring Break, and I'm not entirely sure we're going to survive it. I'm not sure of this because I'm still working, and Beautiful Wife is still teaching. (Her spring break is next week.)

So the boys will spend a week being supervised by their mother (when she's home and not, say, entering midterm grades), their grandparents (when they're available), and bro-sitting (when nothing else is available). Plus, a week off from school is the perfect length of time - using "perfect" in much the same sense as it gets used in "perfect storm", of course. It's just long enough to get them completely off their sleep schedules, but not enough to make it worth scheduling formal activities. Plus, it's coming right after the time change, so it's uniquely positioned to make sure that nobody is on schedule when they go back to school.

And yeah, if I had any sense I'd have scheduled for a week of vacation for myself this week, but... I don't, so I didn't. And honestly with some the things going on at work right now, I really couldn't even if I'd planned to. Capitalism would be a lot easier to deal with if I were ridiculously wealthy already...

Anyway, by the time you read this I'll be back at work and coughing on people. Onward and upward, my friends! Nothing but good times ahead.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Music: Wish You Were Gay

Billie Eilish, who is creating some really interesting stuff:


I'm old, and I'm not sure what to make of all of it. But I'm fascinated.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Weekly Blogging Challenge: Favorite Hobby

Once again, I'm participating in the Wednseday Weekly Blogging Challenge. Today's theme is "What is your favorite hobby, and why?"

I'm tempted to start by listing sleep, because even though that's technically a necessity, I feel like I get so little of it that it's more like a hobby...

More seriously: at this point, I'd have to go with Dungeons and Dragons. It combines elements of writing and storytelling with a chance to socialize. (Or, as with last night when I was unable to attend, a chance to have people randomly text me with questions like, "Would Vendril be okay with having one of his eyes replaced with somebody else's eye, or should we let them possess one of the characters with an evil spirit instead? The replacement eye would let the cultists see what we were doing.") It also provides a chance to let of steam in other ways, like randomly murdering a bunch of cultists who really had it coming and taking all their treasure (hypothetically). But the big appeal, and the reason I've actually ranked it ahead of Writing, is that DnD is something that I can set aside a couple of hours once a week and actually, y'know, do.

Writing would, of course, be next on the list, and martial arts would be immediately after that. In both cases, though, I rarely feel like I can spare the time for them.

What? Oh. Yes, we let the evil spirit possess the paladin. The theory was that he was the most likely to be able to resist its influence. We are almost certainly going to turn out to have been wrong about that.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Less Flu, Less Wife

Okay, so: Firstborn is feeling amazingly better and has now been fever-free for a full day, so he's back at school and I'm back at work. Beautiful Wife, meanwhile, is out of town for a conference and is probably sick already. (She was having that thing yesterday where she was just randomly cold, regardless of the fact that the room was at a perfectly decent temperature.) We loaded her carry-on with meds, so hopefully she can get through the week with a minimum of misery.

Meanwhile, I will be dropping the boys off at school, and their grandparents will be picking them up afterwards. This requires us to get out of the house a bit earlier than they're used to -- at least, it does if I'm going to make it to work on time -- which means it's fairly vital to keep the boys moving. To this end, I have instituted a new rule: the television gets turned off 5-10 minutes before we need to get out the door. This has resulted in much wailing and gnashing of teeth, but the simple fact of the matter is that if Secondborn is watching the TV in the morning, he essentially isn't doing anything else, like getting dressed or eating his breakfast.

So now all I have to do is catch up on everything that I missed while I was out yesterday.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Old friend named Flu drops by for a visit...

So, Firstborn has the flu. (Type A, if you're curious.) Hit him late Friday night, apparently, and kept him in his bed for a lot of Saturday and in his room for a lot of Sunday. He's out of school today, and very possibly tomorrow, too - depends on how long the fever tries to hang on.

We probably should have expected this, seeing as how Beautiful Wife is going out of town this week and it would have been so nice to have a quiet, peaceful weekend to prepare for that.

Instead, well: medical appointments, extra stress, and a prescient anticipation that either of us might very well get horribly sick ourselves. There are a couple of silver linings, though: Secondborn has already had this strain of flu this season, so he should be safe; and we caught it on the very first day, so we were able to put Firstborn on Tamiflu and hopefully speed the recovery process that way.

Still, this is going to figure pretty prominently on my 2019 list of Things I Really Could Have Done Without.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Okay, what if he's just there?

I keep coming back to the book about the necromancer and the plague, even though it's been frustrating me for years now. I have so much of it clear in my head: my protagonist, the various antagonists, a wide variety of supporting casts and backstories, the world in general and several specific settings.

What I don't have, what I'm not sure I've ever really had, is an actual story.

I think that's because I want to do too much with it. As much as I love the world and the characters and the basic conflict, I also have -- and love -- a whole host of specific moments, and I don't think I can set up all of them in the same timeline. (Author Sam Sykes wrote a novella just so he could have a scene where someone gets beaten to death with a bucket full of human waste, and I really understand how a writer could find himself in that sort of situation...) (Fun book, by the way, if you like that sort of thing.)

I want the part where the main character slipped away from his friends and has basically been in hiding for a year, just so he wouldn't have to be reunited with his family. I want the part where he's using necromancy to stop a plague, because magically reanimated corpses are effectively embalmed and don't spread germs. I want the part where, spell-speech aside, he doesn't have any powers; I also want him to have powers. (But, y'know, maybe later on in the story? Or in the series?) I want him to explore the moral implications of having enormous power, but maybe not yet. I want him to be helping a group of kids with serious ambitions, but I also want him to have the kind of nightmares that crawl off and endanger other people. I don't think those two things can happen at once. There's a possible version/piece of the story where he winds up helping the city watch because the creatures that are attacking people are the same creatures he used to have nightmares about, but that requires an entirely different opening and an entirely different storyline.

I'm going to have to kill some of these visions, and probably put stakes through their hearts, cut their heads off, and fill their mouths with garlic. I can't do all of this, not in one story.

But I think I might have found a way to do most of it.

I think so, but we'll see.