Monthly Archives: February 2009

D&D at ConDor

This evening, I played in a RPGA 4th ed. D&D game at ConDor. This was an interesting experience, to say the least. In addition to being my first experience with 4ed, and my first con game, other than the DM, I was the only player over 15. Another table was all men about my age, so the hobby hasn’t been compleatly taken over by people the age I was when I started.

The game didn’t go too badly. We missed ending the scenerio because of having to re-equip — and we still ended up with a ranger without a melee weapon. But I think we all had fun.

I’m not sure how much was 4ed, my fellow players, or the nature of a con game, but this was a bit combat heavy for my tastes – 3 combat encounters in 3 or so hours, and not much role playing.

I also noticed the young players calling hit points “health.” This seems to confirm that they have video game experience.

I may see about the 1ed game on Sunday, if we can keep Derrick occupied while I’m playing and robot_grrl is on a pannel.


Sitting on my desk is a chipset test unit (called a Surf). Since the chips that we make are primarily used for cellphones, this unit functions as a cell phone and is registered and on the air with AT&T wireless most of the time, and has a valid phone number. It also is programmed to automatically answer and plays all audio through the regular telephone handset connected to it.

Just now, I heard a woman’s voice, and realized that it was coming from the handset for the test unit. I picked it up and listened to part of a recording advising me that it wasn’t too late to get extended warranty coverage for something — either my car or possibly my cell phone.

So, not only did they make a recorded cold call to a cell phone, but to a cell phone registered to a company and used on test units. They did not make a sale.

Book Meem

From qnofhrt

The BBC allegedly believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books here. How do your reading habits stack up?
Continue reading

It was a weekend

This wasn’t a bad weekend. It felt surprisingly busy for an idle weekend. It definitely was interesting and not bad.

The weekend started on Friday when I realized that I was still at my desk about 15 minutes after I had intended to leave. Fortunately, I was not planing on catching the train — and very fortunately this wasn’t next Friday when I need to catch the Southbound train about 40 minutes earlier than normal to get to ConDor. So, with the traffic that much heavier, I headed out.

Before I got halfway to the mailbox (the reason I still drive a couple of days most weeks), robot_grrl called. We quickly decided that she needed to go ahead and feed the kid, and eat light. On the other hand, I had been almost too light all day and needed a decent dinner. Soup wasn’t going to cut it. So I was left with a late start and the need to get food on the way home.

After getting the mail, I initially started up I-5, but quickly determined that traffic was very backed up. I did, however, manage to escape at an early exit and head over to the Pacific Coast Highway. Unfortunately, it too was backed up in a couple of places in Del Mar and Solana Beach. So, it was getting later than I had wanted when I hit Encinitias. I decided that maybe I should try Angelo’s, a local chain of hamburger stands. But after realizing that I couldn’t park at the one in Encinitias the way I turned in, I managed to get back on the PCH. However, I soon found one of the three in Oceanside and went in.

I ordered a Chicken Burrito, which came fairly quickly. While waiting I picked up their menu and discovered that the chain was more local than I had thought. Three of the four location are in Oceanside, and all four are directly on the Pacific Coast Highway! The Burrito was good too.

On Saturday, I had a 9:00 Karate class. This week the Saturday classes were being held in a park. The instructors took advantage by having us start by running, which I don’t do well. But the rest of the class was pretty good. This school, Champion Eyes Karate, makes more use of the Bo than National Karate, and starts it much earlier. They also switch hands on the Bo, which I was taught never to do at National Karate. So, I’m having a bit more trouble with the Bo work than the other stuff. But, I think I’ll stick with this school.

After class, and cleaning up, we discussed getting some lunch somewhere. Finally I suggested that we try the historic 101 Cafe. Other than having to find their ATM (I mistakenly thought that the waitress had pointed around the restaurant) I enjoyed my lunch of a green chili omelet. robot_grrl wasn’t as happy with her hamburger — it was very thin and came covered with thousand island dressing, and like many people from the eastern part of the country, she doesn’t think that mayonnaise or mayonnaise based sauces belong on hamburgers. After lunch we wondered around a vintage clothing shop across the parking lot from the 101 Cafe and then hit up Trader Joe’s.

Both Saturday evening and this morning, I worked graphics at the church. This was complicated as a second time by the fact that the guest worship leader did no songs I knew — they were all her songs — and managed to do three different sets of songs between the three services.

Sometime yesterday, the cat threw up on my computer keyboard. After determining that it was not cleaning up, and the icky stuff was between keys, I decided that I needed a new keyboard. This wasn’t as simple as I’d hoped. When I went to Buy More Best Buy, they didn’t have any that were ps/2 keyboards, nor any stand alone adapters. So this afternoon I had to brave Fry’s.

Needless to say, I didn’t get off as unscathed as I would have liked. They had external USB Terrabytes for under (barely) $100.00, and one of them joined the keyboard on the trip home. Alas, I discovered that it won’t easily connect to my network storage unit which runs some flavor of Linux so cannot access NTFS formatted drives. So instead of adding it to the pool available to the whole network, I just have a better sized backup unit for my windows machine — and I can probably move it to my laptop and back it up there as well.

One other problem developed about 4:00 this morning. After returning from the bathroom I did something weird and managed to break my CPAP mask. I’ve been needing to get a new one, but my old provider is in Illinois, and not covered by my new insurance. So I’ve got to track down who the insurance covered provider is, get the prescription transferred and a new mask ordered. I just hope that I can get the same one since I like it better than any of the others I’ve used.

As I said, “it was a weekend.” Next weekend in ConDor, so it will at least be different.

[AKILJ] Help for the procrastinating Hugo Nominator

I’ve put off filling out my Hugo nomination ballot, and I want to get it done before it goes the way of the last several Hugo ballots (both nominating and voting). But I don’t know if I’ll have time this week to track down the eligible works.

So, can someone point me to a listing of places that I can get lists of stuff that should be eligible — i.e. stuff published or first shown, or at least the completion was published or first shown, in 2008?

Given the number of fictional words I consumed in 2008 and the first part of 2009 that were published in 2008, I’m mostly interested in the categories of Best Dramatic Presentation, both Short and Long form, and Best Graphic Story. I think I’ve seen enough material in those categories to feel qualified to nominate. I may nominate in a few other fields based on other information, but I won’t confirm or deny that.

Any advice would be appreciated.

VERY Preliminary D&D 4e review

Next Friday I am signed up to play in a D&D session at ConDor. Since this is an RPGA sanctioned event, it will be using the 4e rules. So, I picked up a copy of the 3 core books, and looked through them last night. I’ve also been playing with WoTC’s character generator. Based on what I’ve seen, I do have some initial impressions.

my impressions

I’m wondering a bit

In 1998 and 1999 I was a member of the Rancho Bernardo Community Presbyterian Church, which is located on Pomerado Road just north of Rancho Bernardo Road in Rancho Bernardo. On Sundays their last service is at 11:30 — having moved half-an-hour later in the last 10 years to accommodate more services on Sunday.

In making brief note about Stage 8 of the Tour of California bike race, I noticed that it is scheduled to start at Noon on Sunday in Rancho Bernardo at Bernardo Center Drive and Bernardo Plaza Court, but will quickly turn onto Rancho Bernardo Road and then north on Pomerado — right past the church.

Now the route log for the bike race indicates that they should be well past the intersection by 12:30 when the service should be ending, but I have to imagine that there will be some disruption of the church’s operations that morning even if the road past it is only closed for a few minutes during the last service. So I’m wondering if, despite the lack of note on the church’s website, there are any plans to account for this disruption?

Since I’ll be in Oceanside at my current church — running graphics for all three services on Saturday and Sunday — I won’t be impacted.

Looking at the map, I noticed that the route will also pass fairly close to the Wild Animal Park so it may inconvenience a few people on their way to visit the animals.

On the other hand, yesterday I noticed announcements that the North County Transportation District will be running at least one extra Sprinter train from Escondido on Sunday to accommodate or encourage the use of the Sprinter for people wanting to see the finish of the race, and the tour. So at least one impacted agency is showing signs of being prepared.

Condor Schedule

According to the preliminary schedule, I will be on two Panels at Condor and robot_grrl will be on three. Just by hapenstance I am sure, both of my panels are before her first panel.

I am on:
Images of Fandom in The Media, 10:00 Saturday (2/28)
Don’t Touch that Button: …, 3:00 Saturday

robot_grrl is on:
Steampunk as a Movement, 4:00 Saturday
Battlestar Galacticia, 11:00 Sunday
Steampunk in the Media, 3:00 Saturday.

Among other things, this means that we’ll be at the con until it closes on Sunday — since we’ll only have one car. This also means that if Derrick is needing to be shadowed by parents next weekend, we’ll have a tight hand off between two panels.

Sometimes quick glances at EBay are informative

In my posting yesterday, I mentioned that I thought that I would not be able to easily find a digital SLR body that would let me use my existing Minolta lens. So, while waiting for my tests to finish (or before leaving with my tests running unattended until morning), I did a search to see if EBay had any listings for Minolta bodies. To my surprise, I found listings for Sony Alpha cameras stating that they can also use Minolta lenses. Doing a bit more poking around I have determined to an 85%-90% certainty that they are. So, if I get the budget I can get a Sony body and use my existing lens. (One review even mentioned that the standard Sony lens isn’t great).

Right now Amazon has some used versions of the older body in the mid $300.00’s and a bit higher for used versions of the current body. New are a couple of hundred more in most cases. Fleabay has one listing currently at $300.00, but it has 22 bids and I’m not even going to think about joining that party.

Geographic/Cultural Musing

While skimming a discussion on the SMOFs list about DeepSouthCon and the possibility of a Worldcon in the South — which included Miami on the list of potential host cities, I recalled a thought and observation either I made myself (not based on personal experience) or heard someplace:

“As one goes south in Florida from the panhandle, they find the culture rapidly moving back north.”

Knowing that the recent history of Florida has a lot of the emigration into the peninsular parts of the state during the last 150 or so years has come largely from the northeastern US — mostly New York and New England. At first these were rich winter tourists, then a mix of snowbird and permanent retirees, and then people who chose to pursue warmer weather year round, as well as jobs in the Space, entertainment and less savory industries.

Of course, especially in Miami, there was also a lot of migration from Cuba and possibly other islands. This would have also influenced the culture.

Given that, as I said, I have little personal experience (two visits to the Orlando area in each of the two previous years, and probably no more for several years), I could be completely wrong.