Friday, November 30, 2012

A Breton's Lament

So there I was, languishing in the Imperial Prison, when in comes a trio of Blades and the Emperor himself - Uriel Septim VII. No, I'm not jesting. Apparently my cell was directly in the path of their escape route.

The blades were none too happy about it, but the Emperor let me follow along... and then, when the assassins attacked, he told me to find his son, confront the Daedra Lord Dagon, and close the Gates to Oblivion.

I always knew I'd pursue a life of adventure. I mean, my oldest brother was always going to inherent Dad's alchemy practice, and our sister was constantly being groomed for an advantageous marriage; so there wasn't much left for me, except clearing out necromancers and goblins and bandits in the wilderness. And to be honest, that suited me just fine. For one thing, the idea of spending days in the shop and nights in the lab, well... boooorrrring. For another, there's good money to be made as an adventurer, at least if you can avoid taking an arrow in the knee or being gruesomely ripped to pieces by trolls.

What I'm saying, I guess, is that at least I wasn't just some random farmer when the Emperor asked to save his son and take on a Daedra Lord. I'd been expecting a life of creeping down darkened corridors, unraveling ancient magics, and facing powerful enemies in mortal combat. I knew how to use a blade and move while wearing armor. I could move quietly, and open recalcitrant locks - though, admittedly, that was what had landed me in prison in the first place. And I could use magic to heal myself, or to throw fire at my enemies, or to see in the dark...

...Sort of.

See, the reason - the whole, entire, only reason - that I'd studied Illusion magic was so I could learn to see in the dark. Because, when you're creeping through nighted corridors in search of bloodthirsty bandits, you basically want two things: you want to see the bandits, and you want them not to see you.

So what did old Urgle Gro-Barsnich teach me? She taught me a light spell. That's right: a light spell.

So now, when I'm creeping down a pitch-dark corridor with danger on every side, I can glow in the dark. This accomplishes two things:

1. I can see. I can, in fact, see things a good three or four feet in front of me.

2. Anything and everything around can see me - no matter how far away I am.

As you might imagine, this has not done a lot to improve my ability to sneak around unseen. In fact, the only thing I've successfully crept up on is a single goblin, and the only reason I managed that is because he had his back to me and was staring at a camp fire.

What has improved is my skill with armor - being constantly battered by unseen attackers will do that to you. And, even more than that, it's improved my skill with healing magics. You would not believe how much practice I get with that.

So what I'm going to do is this: I'm going to find the Emperor's son. I'm going to give him the amulet. I'm going to confront the Daedra Lord Dagon. And then, just before the last Gate to Oblivion closes, I'm going to grab Urgle Gro-Barsnich and shove her through it.

Bloody Orcs. Bloody light spells...

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Story ideas born from memes...

Over on her Livejournal, Martha Wells is experimenting with a meme: tell me about a story I haven't written, and I'll give you one sentence from that story. Which looked like fun, so I thought about it and posted this:
Once there was an air-captain whose sailbeast got caught in a sudden storm, and crashed atop one of the great mountain-turtles that circle the edges of the civilized lands. Trapped in the strange high wilderness of the Upper Shell, she would need all her ingenuity and courage - not only to survive, but to forage for her sailbeast until its gas-bladder healed enough to fly again.
And, of course, having casually dropped that in the comments, I found myself thinking, I should write that story. It would be a young adult adventure - probably - and quite a lot of fun.

So, I copied it over to help me remember it for later. 'Cause it really would be fun to write.

And if anybody wants to try that meme out here, go ahead. Tell me about a story, and I'll give you one sentence from that story.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Assessing the Horror of Windows 8

I bought a new laptop (early Christmas present - some of the money was mine, and some was gifts). It came in, and I charged it up. And yesterday, just before I left work, I decided to turn it on and finish setting it up. You know, the usual stuff for a new Windows & Stuff installation on a pre-loaded computer. Uninstall the junk, add the programs I actually use, and arrange things where I can find them - that sort of thing.

Or, at least, that was the plan.

What actually happened - and remember, I've got XP on the old laptop and Windows 7 at work, and I haven't bothered to look up anything about Windows 8, because really how different is it likely to be? What actually happened was, well... Okay, I'm just going to copy my Facebook post from 5:12 p.m. yesterday:
Just fired up Windows 8 and OMG WHAT IS THIS WHERE DID MY PROGRAMS GO!?!?!?!?

Ahem. Pardon that. It's time to go home, anyway, so I'll just... WAIT A SECOND, WHERE THE HELL DID THE SHUT DOWN BUTTON GO!?!?!?!?!? No, no, deep breaths... Google is my friend, Google is my friend, Google is my... wait, they put it WHERE? You get to it HOW? Okay, well, I guess that worked...

Right, so... I'll just go home, eat dinner, and then figure out how to find programs from the desktop. Calmly. Quietly. I mean sure, the layout's a little unfamiliar, but how hard can it be, really?

The ominous music in the background suggests that I'm going to be indulging in primal screams quite a lot over the next few days.
Here's the thing: Windows 8 was apparently designed with a whole bunch of new features, and nothing that even vaguely resembles a smooth transition from the way you did things in previous versions of Windows. Any previous versions of Windows. No, really - the system boots into a startup screen which comes pre-loaded with a mess of different apps. Which, if I'd wanted that sort of thing on my laptop, I'd have bought a Mac in the first place. Then, once you finally locate the one that says "desktop" and manage to escape, you quickly discover that "desktop" doesn't mean what it used to, either. Huge, glaring example: there's no Start Menu. You remember the Start Menu, right? The button in the lower left corner that's been the go-to spot for pretty much anything you wanted to do since back in Windows 95? Yeah. Gone. Want a list of available programs? Good luck. Apparently you're supposed to go back to the splash screen with all the apps - except that, if you're me, you've just spent the last few minutes ruthlessly uninstalling anything you didn't want, which was most of it. You've also unpinned all the programs from the taskbar in the Desktop view, because who wants all that crap sitting down there?

So not only can I not find a list of programs on my new laptop, I've also made it functionally impossible to, for example, set my homepage in Internet Explorer. In fact, I had to open Windows Explorer (with a keyboard shortcut!) and navigate to the Program Files in order to launch the benighted browser in any sort of recognizable format. Don't get me wrong - I'd left it intact on the Apps screen, but the version that opens from there is barely recognizable as IE, and completely lacks those menu items - or menu items at all, for that matter.

But, okay, surely there's a setting in the Control Panel that will fix this. This thought reassured me briefly, until I discovered that A) I couldn't find the control panel, and then - once I finally located it - B) there is no such setting. Using that Apps screen that comes up at startup? You're stuck with it.

So the marketing strategy here is clearly to saddle you with a bunch of stuff you don't want but can't escape, thereby forcing you to use it anyway - until Stockholm Syndrome sets in and you come to believe that you actually love this interface. This is not something I have a lot of patience for.

However, I have more than just my profound irritation to fall back on. I have Google. And a search on "How do I find my programs in Windows 8" produces a number of promising leads. There's a method for creating a new toolbar on the taskbar, which looks promising but proves unsatisfying. And then there are several articles, with links, which describe programs that will give you back a working start menu. There are at least half a dozen to choose from - and that's just from the first article I read - and probably half of them offer some way to suppress the startup/app view, which should give you some idea of how badly Microsoft screwed the pooch by leaving the Start Menu out. I picked one that sounded about like what I wanted, installed it, and - Voila! - now I have a Start Menu, and access to my programs!

Open Source resolves what corporate rectal cranioendomesis will not.

So I'm getting Windows 8 hammered down into doing what I want, and hopefully today I'll be able to load my files onto the new laptop and really give it a test drive. But it's worth noting that I'm doing it in complete defiance of the will of the OS developers. It's worth keeping that in mind if you're considering buying a new machine. And it might be worth asking your vendor if it's possible to get the same machine with Windows 7 instead of Windows 8... because, hey, at least then you'll have some idea of what you're getting into.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Warrior Take-out

I have, here on the desk beside me, a take-out cup from the Genghis Grill. If you're unfamiliar with the restaurant chain, all you really need to know is this: They're a choose-your-own-ingredients stir-fry place with a Genghis Khan motif, so their branding tends to focus on warrior imagery and puns on the word "khan".

Case in point: my carry-out cup. It has the Genghis Grill logo on the front, of course. Then, on the back, it offers the following... um... proverb? Slogan? Anyway:

Warriors Don't Sip

I have two issues with this:
  1. The techical term is "quaff".
  2. How do straws figure into this, anyway?
In their defense, I imagine that using a cup with a plastic lid and a straw does make you rather less likely to spill your soda on your horse while you're riding into battle...

Monday, November 26, 2012

Harduk The Slayer and the Father-In-Law of Doom

Harduk shoved the blanket aside and sat up. Nissa lay at his side, still snoring gently. Judging by the sun, the boat was still on course. Nearmis Oddbottom was sitting beside the rudder.

Harduk blinked, shook his head, and reached for a water-skin. He was in no hurry to leave the blankets. He had arrived on that island wearing only a loincloth. Now he was not even sure where that had gone.

When he looked again, the wizard was still there.

"Well," he said. "What are you doing here?"

"You destroy my ruins, kidnap and despoil my daughter, and you have to ask?"

Harduk was silent for the space of several breaths. He was very much aware of Nissa; her presence was probably the only reason the wizard hadn't destroyed him already.

"You and Duke Decantar," he said, and took another swig of water. "I spoke with your daughter last night, after we'd had our fun. I'm not your enemy, wizard. I'm the instrument of Nissa's curse. She made me to disrupt your work, so that she could have a normal life." He paused, yawning wide enough to crack his jaws. "Also, as of the middle of last night, I'm your son-in-law."


Harduk shrugged. He'd killed wizards before, but he was finding this exchange far more satisfying. "I'm the captain of this ship. I conducted the ceremony, and she summoned... beings... to witness it. She's a married woman, now - of her own free will - and no longer your concern."

The wizard's face was a frozen mask. "Harduk the Slayer, I will kill you."

Harduk shrugged. "You'll have your chance," he said. "After the wedding, Nissa tried to lift her curse... but she failed. Until she does, I'm still drawn to your ruins. So you keep building them, and I'll keep stumbling into them, and we'll see who survives." He paused, then added: "Does that sound like a hobby that could keep you entertained, old man?"

Nearmis Oddbottom's expression was purest fury for a moment longer. Then it cracked, and he chuckled. "Yes," he said, "I suppose it might. I'll need to add more death-traps, of course."

"Of course," agreed Harduk. No true son of Distractia could be intimidated by death-traps, even if Distractia had never existed save as the imagined source of a young sorceress' dreams of escape. "Just leave in the treasures, so I have some reason to explore."

"Oh, never fear," said the wizard. "There'll be treasure aplenty, for the man bold enough to seek it."

"Until that day, wizard." Harduk smiled.

"Until I kill you, son-in-law."

Here ends this tale of Harduk the Slayer.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Party of Awesome Campaign Platform

Good people, I am pleased to announce the first draft of my political platform. Here you will learn about the things I stand for, and the goals I will work towards if elected Emperor. Remember, a vote for Michael Mock is a vote for Awesome.
1. The Party of Awesome is comprehensively pro-bacon. We will work to reduce bacon prices, increase the national bacon supply, and improve bacon availability. However, we will not force bacon on anyone. (As the scriptures say, "The bacon which must be forced upon the tongue is not the true bacon.")

2. We can dance if we want to. Also, we can leave your friends behind - because your friends don't dance, and if they don't dance then they're no friends of mine.

3. The Party of Awesome also supports a clean energy initiative. Specifically, we intend to harness the limitless energy of America's toddlers by hanging cookies in front of treadmills. Our researchers assure us that will provide more than enough electricity for the foreseeable future, and also help wear the kids out so that they'll finally go to sleep at bedtime.

4. The Party of Awesome pledges to institute Zombie Defense Training initiatives in all public schools, and provide curriculum for private schools to use at their discretion. Additional programs to cover related threats such as lycanthropy and vampirism are still being developed.

5. We will abolish Daylight Savings Time, because it annoys me.

6. The Party of Awesome will work to implement laws (at either the State or Federal level) limiting the display of holiday decorations and the playing of holiday music to no more than three weeks before the relevant holiday. Also, anyone producing Christmas music will be required to create their own new melodies and lyrics, rather than recycling parts of older tunes.
So, fellow Americans: tell me what you think. What am I missing? What other burning issues should be included in our Awesome platform?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Where the horde kept their hoard

I've developed a new soapbox issue, another pet peeve, when it comes to people abusing the English language. Forget the proper use of apostrophes, never mind the confusion over their, they're, and there, and don't even worry about whether I could (or couldn't) care less. No, the English Abuse that's currently making me crazy is this: horde and hoard.

A horde is a large group: a mob, or a swarm.

A hoard is a collection of something that has been set aside for preservation or future use.

So you can fight off a barbarian horde, or you can steal from the barbarians' hoard - but if you find yourself fighting off a barbarian hoard, you're doing something very wrong. (Perhaps their treasure has attacked you?) Alternatively, I suppose an evil wizard could have a hoard of barbarians, if he keeps them in suspended animation in the basement or something. But that's not normally how it works.

In the same vein, a dragon can have a hoard of treasure, or a family can have a hoard of canned goods; but unless you've been setting aside magically animated gold statues or something, you can't have a horde of treasure. Just remember: a horde can hide its hoard, and a hoard can supply a horde, but there's no such thing as a bored hoard, no matter where it's stored.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Harduk The Slayer and the Backstory of Doom

"When you said you could make another Frostblight," Harduk asked, "What did you mean?"

Nissa shifted on the wooden bench, but met his eyes directly. "Well," she said, "I'm not so skilled as my father, but I can manage an enchanted blade."

Harduk frowned. "It would not be the blade of my people."

"No, I could make it-" Nissa snapped her mouth shut, then said: "...identical." After a moment she added: "Or, if you wished, I could make something different: Firestorm, say, the twin and opposite of Frostblight."

Harduk studied her as the boat rose and fell in the waves. The sails drove them on, and his hand was steady on the rudder. He would rescue Nissa, and he would marry her - if for no other reason, then because he had sworn to do so, and no man of Distractia would make himself an oathbreaker. But there were deeper mysteries here, he was sure. Frostblight was only the beginning, the first emerging leaf of the snow-vines that covered acres of land beneath the winter ice. "You seem very familiar with my sword... and myself."

Nissa looked away. After a moment, Harduk realized that she was blushing.

"Very well," she said. "You deserve to know. I could make you another Frostblight, because I was the one who made the original Frostblight."

"Nonsense," said Harduk, suddenly uneasy. "The shamans..."

"No." Nissa shook her head, and met his eyes again. "It wasn't the shamans. It was just me. I created Frostblight, and Distractia, and in a strange way even you."

"What?" said Harduk. "Why?"

"To rescue me," said Nissa. "I needed someone strong enough to take me from my father, someone who wouldn't be afraid to marry a wizard's daughter. A chieftain's son, the last survivor of his tribe, a man bred to strength and courage."

"So, then." Harduk fell silent. "Distractia..."

"The wastes of burning ice are just as you remember," Nissa said softly, "but no people ever dwelt there. The clansmen who raised you came by their skills honestly, but they shared no blood with you. The blade you carried as the last remnant of your slaughtered people is only a bare few hours older than you are." She stopped, drew a deep breath, and released it. "So... will you still be my husband? Forget your vow. I would not hold you to a promise made without full knowledge, and I do not want a husband... well, a husband that leaves in search of adventure or travel, that I could stand; but not a husband who wished me ill."

There was a long silence as Harduk considered his next words. His homeland and his heritage might be a lie, but his feelings were as strong and certain as ever. He wanted to be sure there was no possible misunderstanding. At last, satisfied, he said: "Forget my vow? Wish you ill? Do you jest, girl?" He let his grin show, broad and unrestrained. "If what you say is true, I should thank you. So... this marriage... how do we go about it?"

Nissa smiled. "There's a ceremony, of course. And then, well..." Her smile grew wider. "Then we consummate things."

Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday Cute Kiddos

So, here's me coaxing Secondborn through a verse of "Down by the Station":

And here's Firstborn at the nice sushi/hibachi restaurant, using one of the napkins for a hat:

...And that's all I've got for today.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Real Work Conversations: Goldfish in the Gullet

I'm just going to drop this here, without any context at all.

Me: "No. Even if you managed to swallow some sort of mutant, acid-proof goldfish, stomach acid isn't sufficiently oxygenated. So the idea that you might burp and have this frankenfish come leaping back out... it isn't going to happen."

Co-worker 1: "Except in my nightmares... tonight."

Co-worker 2: "This is going to end up in a book, isn't it?"

Me: "I admit nothing."

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Writing Process: The Importance of Research

Any good writer knows - and almost any writing class will tell you - that 4/5 of writing is actually research. It's not just a matter of "write what you know" - sooner or later, you're going to hit a point where you need to write about things you don't know. When that happens, there's only one thing to do: learn.

Well, okay, I guess technically there is another possibility. I mean, you can always push boldly onward, making up facts and faking the details. That's a viable approach, I guess, if you don't mind the fact that pretty much anything you write that way is going to suck. Mightily. But let's face it: if you don't care about the quality of your writing, you probably aren't bothering to read anyone else's thoughts on the writing process, including mine. So I can safely ignore you as a potential reading audience, can't I?

Right, then. Moving on... Research. Yes. Lots and lots of research. In fact, I occasionally suspect that this part of the writing process is expressly designed to prevent you from spending any of your time actually writing. For example... well, let's take a look at my current project.

In theory, I've been working on this project for a couple of months. (That's a vast improvement over the rest of my projects; some of those have been percolating for over a decade.) In the course of that couple of months, I have written just over a page of story - which I'm probably going to scrap, but let's save that for a different rant about the writing process. Meanwhile, in an effort not to sound like a complete idiot when I start writing about the east coast and post-apocalyptic life at sea, I have learned the following:
  1. I could purchase a nice, used sailing yacht for around $80,000. That's assuming, of course, that I could scrape together $80,000 - and that my beautiful wife wouldn't murder me in my sleep for trying something like that.
  2. It's entirely possible to raise chickens in the back yard, local ordinances permitting, which means that given the right sort of boat and a reasonable logistic situation, it can probably be done on a boat as well.
  3. I have no desire to raise chickens... anywhere... ever.
  4. Dehydration is a very, very nasty thing.
  5. Buxton, North Carolina looks like a nice place. It's on a little island on the Outer Banks, and has the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse nearby. The town is composed mainly of wooden houses, with a few brick structures here and there, and quite a lot of beach along the seaward side of the island. It's really a pity that I'm only learning this so I can better destroy the place...

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Superhero or Parent?

This morning, I'm introducing a new game. I want you to consider the following bits of dialogue, and tell me whether they were said by superheroes, or by parents. There's an answer key below the cut, so you can check your answers after you finish.

  1. "Are you okay?"
    "No. He hit me in the face with a firetruck. It hurt."
  2. "Well, I chased her down - but before I could get it back, she swallowed it."
  3. "Fortunately, I caught him just before he hit the ground."

Ready to see how you did?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Killing Anonymous Comments

I'm turning off anonymous commenting for the moment. There's been a steady stream of anonymous comments recently, in the general pattern of "{Generic Comment}, Feel free to visit my website - {website}". They're pretty easy to identify, because they really aren't talking about anything in whatever post they arrive in, and honestly Google's SPAM filter catches most of them. So, y'know, not exactly a crisis.

However, I'm getting a little tired of reading them. Also, I'd like to discourage this sort of behavior. So for the moment I'm going to shut off anonymous commenting.

Also, blogging may be slow this week. I'd like to add another scene to Harduk before I post the finale, but that requires writing. In fact, pretty much anything else I might put up here would require writing at this point. And since I'm trying to take it easy and give the antibiotics a chance to do their thing, I flatly refuse to stress out about that - even the teeny little bit of stress that would be involved in finishing up something half-written.

So... consider this an open thread. Am I the only one who stages deep-space battles using candy corns to represent the ships in the fleets? (Yummy, yummy spaceships...)

Friday, November 9, 2012

My plans for the evening.

Here's my plan:
1. Drive home.
2. Dinner, however we manage that.
3. Bathe boys.
4. Brush their teeth.
5. Put boys in beds.
6. Brush my teeth.
7. The Great Collapse.

Friday Filler: Meat (is Murder)

This is my new favorite short film. Be sure to watch it all the way through; the song in the credits is part of the genius.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Real Work Conversation: Meet here?

Our boss has called the entire department into the server room for an announcement. The server room is nice and private. It's also full of servers, each with its own set of cooling fans.

Co-worker 1: "Noisy place for a meeting."

Co-worker 2: "What?"

Co-worker 1: "What?"

Co-worker 2: "What?"

Co-worker 3: (Leaning towards CW1 and gesturing towards server rack.) "Hey, could you turn those off so we can hear?"

Me: "I can't hear you, I have a ginger bread man in my ear."

Yeah, we're kind of random. The news was good, though.

NaNoWriMo? No.

I'm not taking part in National Novel Writing Month. If you read this blog, or follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you've probably already figured this out. (It's actually pretty easy to tell: if you're participating in NaNoWriMo, you've been obsessing over your word count for a week, now. If you aren't taking part, you're allowed to talk about other things. See? Easy.)

It's not that it doesn't sound like fun. Actually, the idea of devoting an entire month to a single writing project sounds kind of appealing. If your main problem is staying focused, NaNoWriMo could be a really big help. Unfortunately for me, the things that interfere in my writing-longer-projects aren't the sort of things that can be solved by "making more time for writing" or "making writing more of a priority". Yes, if writing was more of a priority for me, I could probably get a book written - or rewritten. All I'd have to do is, say, quit my job - that would vastly increase my writing time. Or I could quit taking care of my kids, and stay at the office or the library or something until after they were in bed. I'd get a lot more writing done that way, too.

But that's the problem: my time is finite, and writing isn't my only priority. It's definitely a priority - I'd be a basket case if I weren't at least putting things up on the Blog o' Doom, here - but I have other priorities, too. Staying gainfully employed? That's a big one. Not dumping all the child-raising responsibilities on my wife? That's another one. On a related note, how about not missing out on our boys' childhoods? Ditto. Martial Arts are still a priority, but guess what? They're even less important than writing, so I haven't managed to fit them in for about five years, now.

So, no NaNoWriMo for me. If I can't get novels written in the normal course of events, buckling down to write one in a month isn't going to help - and it'll probably just add stress to an already busy existence.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

My Election Day Prediction

Just so you know, I'm writing this 24 hours in advance. This is my prediction for what happens after today's (Tuesday's) presidential election. It'll publish automatically on Wednesday morning, and then we can all see if I was right.

Elections are always dangerous. Politicians and pundits have been warning people (for years, in some cases) about the horrible and disastrous things that would happen if The Wrong People got elected.

Last night, the American Electorate proved them right. Across the country, millions of citizens entered their local voting locations and placed their votes. And, just as everyone feared, they elected The Wrong Guy. And, because America is the only place on Earth that really counts, the misguided results of our election have brought about the end of the world.

While the wailing and gnashing of teeth actually began last night, it wasn't until the sun inexplicable failed to come up this morning that the majority of the country began to understand the true scope of the disaster. Some initial reports suggested a broad-based conspiracy which had reset everyone's clocks while everyone was still confused by Daylight Savings Time, but that idea was abandoned when mysterious fires began falling from the sky.

The fires were followed by the arrival of the angry dead, who had apparently risen from their graves to feast on the flesh of the politically-illiterate living. Fortunately, there were far fewer of them than originally predicted, and in most areas they were quickly put down by groups of self-appointed "Sheepdogs" with guns. Unfortunately, with the entire world perishing in fire and darkness, that doesn't seem like much of a silver lining.

The 11:00 a.m. discovery that the oceans had all turned to blood, while fresh-water streams and rivers had turned to maple syrup, prompted a new wave of panic, despair, and pancake hoarding. The arrival of swarms of giant, carnivorous locusts soon put an end to the rioting, though.

It's quiet now. Even the locusts are gone. I haven't heard a human voice in hours. The battery on my laptop is almost out, and the flashlight won't last much longer. I'll have to put the can opener where I can find it in the dark. It's getting cold, too... I can see frost on the windows. If only we'd known. If only we'd voted differently...


...Oh, wait. My mistake. None of that happened. The republic still stands. The Earth still circles the sun. Monsters are not roaming the streets. Our water is still water. Fires are not falling from the sky, either.

Maybe... just maybe... we're still okay.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


So, I'm writing down my election day predictions. They've been pre-set to post tomorrow morning, so we can all see just how accurate I was.

And, in case any of you are wondering how I voted:
That's my voting strategy.

Meanwhile, I plan to tune out completely, and check on the outcome some time tomorrow. Unless my prediction proves correct, in which case it'll be pretty obvious.

Go buy some art! Your future Emperor commands you!

Artist Robyn Seale, of The Watcher of Yaathagggu (which you really should be reading, if you aren't already), is holding an art sale.

That's right: an art sale.

Here's the scoop: through November 15, $10 will get you a picture of any one character. Just send an email to robyn {at} noodlyappendage [dot] com for more details. This is a great deal, so don't miss out on it!

I sent pictures of the boys in their Halloween Costumes, and received these two images:


Seriously, don't miss out on this!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Harduk the Slayer and the Hidden Boat of Doom

"If we hurry, we can still make it," Nissa said, following something that might charitably be described as a trail down the back of the island. "I stashed a boat when we arrived here. It's a small thing, built for exploration and emergencies, but it's well-supplied and--"

She stumbled over an upthrust root, and Harduk caught her shoulder before she could tumble over the cliff. "I hate that," she said, testing her ankle before they continued. "I hate these places. I want to live in a nice house in a big city, where the roads are even and other people provide us with art and culture and entertainment."

"You're the daughter of a wizard," observed Harduk. "Why don't you?"

"Because," Nissa replied, "I'm the daughter of a wizard who has seven-hundred-year-old ideas about propriety. Unmarried women do not live on their own."

"Ridiculous," said Harduk. "In my land..."

He stopped and tilted his head, listening. There were voices behind them. "They're coming," he said, and scooped Nissa up. His strength was such that even carrying her, he could double their pace.

The voices of their pursuers had fallen far behind by the time they reached the boat. Nissa loosed the mooring lines while Harduk raised the sails and shoved them out from the tiny fissure where the boat had hidden. He glanced back once, as the winds caught the sails, and eyes honed to the savage plains of Distractia picked out a single robed figure among the armed men. Lifting an arm, he waved cheerily in the wizard's direction.

Friday, November 2, 2012

At last, the costumes

I was going to post this last night, but it turns out that Firstborn was appearing in a school play, so we went to that instead. He had won the role of First Bat, and had a speaking line which he delivered beautifully. So, instead of downloading Wednesday night's costumes, we were off taking pictures of Firstborn in an entirely different costume:

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Slow day, slow me...

So, between a recurrence of Really Bad Allergies - or maybe it's a head cold, I can never tell, but at this rate it's going to be a sinus infection in a day or two so it probably doesn't matter - and generally being busy because, y'know, Halloween, I've about hit the end of my rope. At least in terms of focus, energy, and general creativity.

Halloween itself went well. Firstborn went as his very own superhero, Lightning Zapzers. Secondborn went as a fireman, though I think he would have been happier if we'd actually let him drive a real ambulance around. I went as a punk, because... well...

Okay, back when I was about fifteen or sixteen, I really wanted to be a Lost Boy. Not the lost boys who were Peter Pan's little fan club; oh, no. I'm talking about the vampires. And because of this, I took a black jeans jacket and covered it in patches. Metallica, Slayer, Iron Maiden, Pink Floyd... they're all on there, and more. Also some safety pins (very important fashion accessory back in the eighties) and metal studs.

It still fits.

Also... mohawk.

So I'll see if I can get a picture or two posted later - lunch time, if I'm lucky.