Saturday, September 29, 2018

The Power of Coincidence

Put in Dragon Age: Origins this morning. (I've never played it. I know, I know, I'm embarrassingly behind.) Anyway, at the end of the Character creation process, I started asking Firstborn if he'd switched the PS3 over to his account while I was away earlier, and...


No, it turns out that I had simply managed to select the combination of traits that offered a character whose default first name was also Firstborn's name.

What are the odds?

Friday, September 28, 2018

In Otter News...

Some days there just doesn't seem to be anything worth saying. I know it's not actually true -- there are plenty of things worth saying, and repeating, and amplifying -- but that's how I'm feeling this morning. I think this is just the aftermath (or continuation) of being sick, and maybe also an effect of this week's news cycle, which has just been horrible all the way around.

So... here's live footage of sea otters. Yes. Have some sea otters.

Ugh, Part 758

Okay, seriously: what the hell is wrong with me? I've gotten everybody in motion, dropped the boys off at school, and made it to work... and I'm exhausted. And I have a headache. And I'm exhausted. (Oh, and I'm thoroughly disgusted by essentially everything to do with Kavanaugh's likely appointment to the Supreme Court and what that says about our society and the future of our justice system.) And did I mention that I'm exhausted?

I got home last night, nibbled a little dinner, and immediately passed out on the couch. Admittedly, it's a bit different when I do it. When Beautiful Wife passes out on the couch like that, I keep everybody quiet, curse the very existence of the phone when it inevitably rings, and try to put the boys to bed without waking her. When I do it, I get woken up to see if I have any cash for the lawn guys, the boys rampage loudly across the house, my wife talks and full-volume Phone Voice in the kitchen, and I still end up putting the boys to bed. I ask you: where's the justice in that?

It's not just me, either. Firstborn seems to be doing okay, but Secondborn hit this morning looking exactly like I feel: tired, cranky, and unready to accomplish anything. Including pulling on a shirt.

I don't think it's allergies. I think we're actually sick. And I think this weekend should be devoted to resting, cleaning, and disinfecting.

I just don't know if that's actually going to happen.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

"Ugh," explicated

So, since sometime around Sunday evening, the entire family has been sick. No fevers, so we're still sending the boys off to school, but I took Monday and Tuesday off (and I really need to be at work when this posts, regardless of how I might be feeling). But headaches, stuffiness, touches of nausea, that sort of thing. Lots and lots of that sort of thing.

It might just be allergies. Mold and fungus counts are apparently insanely high right now. But... well... I'm still feeling pretty ooky even after spending all day at home, and my immune system is acting like it's taken a serious hit, so... I don't know.

It's not just that I hate feeling like this. What I really hate is the fact that I can't tell. Am I wildly contagious with something horrible, and morally obligated to avoid human contact until it's gone? Would I be okay with maybe some Motrin and Benadryl and a crapload of caffeine to balance against the drowsiness? Who can tell?

All I can say is that it better not be flu.

I just got the flu shot on Saturday.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018


What does parenting mean to me? A long string of lovely, fulfilling moments broken by the occasional urge to start screaming and never stop.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Heroes are assholes, iteration 3

So I've been looking at the antagonists for my latest story idea, and...

Well, it started out as a matter of making sure that their role in the story made sense. (It does. This is a huge relief.)

And they're not typical villains, which is very much what I wanted. I mean, it's also what I needed for this plot, but... I didn't want a Big Bad who just A Villain, just doing evil for evil's sake. (That might make an appearance in the Ash Knight story, but not here.) But what they're doing, both the taking risks and the acting with restraint, makes sense for their background and motivation. And as a result, well... The story could be told from their side just about as easily, and they would look completely heroic.

It's all in how you tell it. And my current protagonist has made his fair share of dick moves, and the villains are also pulling some dick moves -- but they both have morals, and they both have limits, and they both have reasons.

Heroes are often assholes, if you step back and look at them closely. It comes with the territory.

Friday, September 21, 2018


Vincitor watched the mourners file away from his father's cenotaph, and felt his hands curl into fists. The ceremony had been tasteful and lovely and -- despite the political element of the occasion -- most of the mourning seemed sincere. His father had been well-loved in these lands.

"So," said Valia, standing at his side. "You and I inherit the title, the lands, and all the headaches attending to them." She was Vincitor's twin, and the older of the two, but Court Law in Verigor still held to certain views from the old religion, and so held that twins could inherit as if they were a single person. Unless one of them stepped aside, they would both assume their father's noble rank and rule together as Viscounts.

"It's not official until the Countess performs the confirmation," Vincitor said quietly, "and that will be half a season at least. That's time enough to restore the honor of our blood."

"We can't invade Alisaze, not without the backing of the Crown. And the Crown is rightly convinced that the last expedition proved too costly. We need time to recover our resources, and time to weaken Alisaze in other ways."

Vincitor turned to face her. "No," he said quietly. "But we can slip across the border, find our father's murderer, and kill him. The Alisaze won't thank us, but at this point I think they'd be quietly relieved -- as long as we were done and gone before anyone in authority found out."

Valia nodded. Few of their informants were left in Alisaze, but the ones who were there were thorough, trustworthy, and reliable. She knew that as well as her brother did. Probably better, since she was the one making sure they received their pay. "A single division of the Home Guard?" she asked.

"Proelor's," said Vincitor. "You know how close he was to Father."

Valia looked away and her lips twisted, but after a moment she nodded. "Unquestionable loyalty," she said. "Shared cause. Yes. I'll speak to Mother about managing things while we're away." She paused. "I think she'll approve."

Vincitor smiled. "She'll worry," he said, "but she'll approve."

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Legendary Things That Probably Never Existed

Apparently this is my week for making lists. Eh, whatever... with Hallowe'en fast approaching, I've been thinking about monsters, mythology, and sundry sorts of legends. So, without further ado, here's my current list of Legendary Things That Probably Never Existed In Real Life:
  1. Unicorns
  2. Dragons
  3. Vampires
  4. Winged Horses
  5. Bigfoot
  6. Mothman
  7. Ghosts
  8. Vacations
  9. Retirement
  10. Functional Democracies

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

How's your morning?

Co-worker: "How's your morning going?"

Me: "..."
Me: "...So, let's just get down to business, then."

Co-worker: "Ooookay, then."

I'm still just worn out, is the actual answer. Like, I'm not sick, but my sinuses are still weirded out from the airline travel, and I think my ears are trying to decide whether they develop infections or just let it pass. Then, of course, there was last week's conference -- where people from all over the country brought together their knowledge, expertise, and germs.


Plus, Secondborn's still recovering from the flu. So basically, getting everybody up and out the door and getting myself to work has worn me out. Hopefully I can take it easy for the rest of today, though -- and tonight's definitely going to be an early bedtime.

Secondborn Dances On My Last Nerve

I swear, that child has given me a whole new benchmark for the concept of "exasperation". If he were a soda pop, he'd be exasparailla.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Mundane Magic Items

As you probably know if you've been following this blog, I've finally gotten back to playing Dungeons and Dragons. This has naturally gotten me to thinking about magic items. Now, D'n'D has a long (and ever-growing) list of magical items, but it also has a distinct emphasis on adventuring equipment and particularly combat. And honestly, that seems to be the case in a lot of fantasy worlds: it's easy to find a legendary magical sword, or even have one made, but nobody ever seems to be out there getting rich by making the sort of things that people can actually use. You know, in their daily life, when the only Orc they've ever met is the head cook at Mama's Diner, and spends half his time reminding the kobolds to wash the dishes.

So, with that imbalance in mind, I submit to you a list of Mundane Magic Items: minor items, generally useless for combat, but exactly the sort of things that an enterprising Enchanter could get filthy rich selling in bulk to the general public.
-A stone that heats water
-A pot or pan that cooks anything placed within it
-An enchanted broom that sweeps and dusts when a command word is spoken
-A Decanter of Endless Honey (useful for sweetening your water elementals)
-A small sundial brooch that reminds you of appointments
-A small cloth square that will clean *anything* (I would have killed for this after that last battle in the sewer)
-Ring or Amulet of Insect Repulsion
-Umbrella of Feather Fall (also keeps rain off)
-A vial of paint that glows in the dark
-Goblet of Drink Chilling
-Box of Food Preservation
-Wall-Mending Putty which changes its surface to match the texture and paint around it
-A plow that turns any stones it hits into rich, aerated soil
-A small glyph that can be attached to anything, and answers when you call out to it
-Bottomless Chamberpot (dumps your cess into an extra-dimensional void, so it never needs to be emptied or cleaned!)

What other helpful magical gizmos should a magic-rich world have available?

Thursday, September 13, 2018


I just realized I haven't been posting.

This would be because I've been at a conference all week.

I've been thinking about plots and storylines, and all the things I want to write, and it's well past time to take one and really dig into it. Not start on it (I've already done that), not think it through (done that already, too), just set up a regular time every day and write.

I have no idea how to schedule that, but I think setting myself a couple of rules will be a good start:
1. I only get to read if I can't be writing.
2. I only get to play video games when I finish writing.

Here's hoping that simple, dumb systems are the key to success!

Monday, September 10, 2018

One for the 90s kids in the room

I think it's been about a week since she looked at me, cocked her head to the side, and said she was angry. Two days after that she told to come back and see her once I'd gotten it together. Then three days ago I realized it was my fault, but I couldn't tell her. All things considered, I'm surprisingly sure that it'll be another two days before I apologize.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Music: Wish You Were Here

I'm heading off to a conference next week, so I'll leave you with Cody Jinks and this lovely bit of country music:

And hey, have a special bonus song! This one's performed by Luther Wright & The Wrongs:

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Music: Skeleton Key

by Dessa Darling, and if you aren't already familiar with her music you should listen to it -- all of it.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Music Commentary: Dodging the Question

I've been told before that one of the big issues with me and music is that I actually listen to the lyrics. Today's example comes from a band called Florida Georgia Line, with a song called "Meant To Be". (It seems to be on YouTube here, except this isn't the version that I keep hearing on the radio - even some of the Who Sings Which Piece Of The Lyrics is off.)

Anyway, there's a point in the song where the girl talks about her previous experiences with dating and expresses her concerns with continuing to date:

I don't mean to be so uptight, but my heart's been hurt a couple times
By a couple guys that didn't treat me right
I ain't gon' lie, ain't gonna lie
'Cause I'm tired of the fake love, show me what you're made of
Boy, make me believe

But the boy in the song just sidesteps the question, and the girl (by joining him for the vocals on the chorus) just seems to go along with it:

But hold up, girl, don't you know you're beautiful?
And it's easy to see
If it's meant to be, it'll be, it'll be

This... bothers me. She says she's worried about getting hurt, and your response is "Don't you know you're beautiful"? Yeah, not helping.

So I propose the following alternative lyrics:

It's okay, girl, we can take it easy now
While you get to know me
If it's meant to be... (etc.)

Monday, September 3, 2018

Short Fiction: Sick Note

"It's not that we don't believe you," said the boss, "it's just that if you're out again you'll need to bring in a doctor's note."

Four hours later, Bob was roaming the street with blood in his mouth and a doctor's note in his hand. A pack of his fellow infected, his few remaining co-workers among them, hunted with him. As he caught the scent of their next victim, Bob had a brief moment of clarity: he remembered a time before he needed to hunt and feed with his packmates, and he wondered if HR regretted that idiotic sick-note policy.