Chatter #65: July 22, 2002

12/14/2001 — I started the Chatter section on July 27, 2000 when I noticed that the rest of my site was sometimes getting cluttered with lots of text. I'm a talkative guy, after all! So now I talk about my life here, instead of all over the place. Originally this was one huge section, but in December of 2001 it simply became too large to remain as one page, and I broke it into dated sections, as you can see. —>PM

Okaaay. A long time has passed, and I thought about writing in Chatter often, but the truth is that I mostly didn't really have the time; and when I did, events took the heart out of me, and I just can't write when I'm depressed (with a small "d", since I'm one of the few people left in the world who hasn't been diagnosed with clinical depression—I appear to be disgustingly stable, mentally, although sometimes I wonder ).

The Move mostly complete. We're out of our old apartment; Teri did 94% of the work on that, amazingly. The new house is still pretty messy, and there are a lot of boxes to be unpacked, but things are starting to get into place.

My computer was put in the new den fairly early in the move, but was almost unreachable for a long time; I'd set it up on the floor so that the cable company could hook up the broadband, and it was soon surrounded by boxes and furniture. My wonderful old giant work-desk simply would not fit into the house—not even in the basement—and I mean that literally, it wouldn't even go in though the door or the bulkhead. I'm terribly, almost irrationally sentimental about some things, and giving up that desk will be a wrench, but living with Teri has somehow taught me to give up things more easily. I don't know why. Anyway, the desk is sitting in the back yard right now, and we'll probably put it out on the street tonight. If anyone is in the Woonsocket area and wants a REALLY BIG desk (although honesty compels me to admit it's somewhat beaten up and incredibly heavy), drive down Pleasant St. tonight or early tomorrow morning! I'd like to believe that a reader would take it, and even if I never know who did actually take it, I'll pretend that it was someone who reads Chatter.

What else? It was murder getting things upstairs. Bookcases had to be disassembled, and our (queen-sized) mattress had to be bent double (it popped some springs, but can still be slept on). The box spring was not as flexible; Teri and her mother took it to pieces, and it still wouldn't fit up the stairs. So we converted the bed into a platform bed with a couple of pieces of plywood, and the result is actually quite comfortable.

The den has been straightened out and the computer is fully set up on a new desk (which was also set up by Teri and her mother). There are still about 12 big boxes to be unpacked, and I have to reassemble a bookshelf, but that's do-able.


I've already been barbecuing and even bought a very cheap charcoal-fired water smoker. It works amazingly well—much different from what I expected, though! It works at a much lower temperature than the Weber grill, and there are times when I'd swear that the fire has gone out. Yet a few chunks of wood tossed in the fire pan soon have the temperature going up again.

There's also much less smoke than I thought. I used to use the Weber for smoking, and it produced so much smoke that people (well, our landlord) complained; in fact, I was eventually forbidden to barbecue at all because of the smoke (which really pissed me off, and was one reason I was happy to move to the house). But the smoker produces very little visible smoke, and unlike the Weber I don't get painful blasts of smoke to the eyes. Despite that the aroma of smoke that's produced is incredible, and incredibly delicious. Of course, real smoking takes many hours. And I'm still struggling with the whole issue of smoking; I want to smoke hamburgers, but they aren't really the right sort of meat to smoke. Even with a water smoker they lose too much moisture and end up dry. Maybe if I freeze them in marinade and put them into the smoker frozen they'll retain moisture better.

Incidentally, a water smoker has a water pan over the coal pan. Water is boiled (or evaporated) the steam infuses the meat with smoke flavor and drips back into the pan. You can add marinades to the water for interesting flavoring effects.


I beat Diablo II—it was a bit easier than I expected—and sure enough, found myself going back to Diablo I, a much superior game. I've played a few multi-player sessions online with a friend, and hope to get some three-person sessions started soon. If I can just find the time.

Went on a bit of a spending splurge a while ago and picked up Neverwinter Nights. It's interesting, but surprisingly more "D&D" than I expected; large portions of the rulebook are straight-out copies of the new AD&D rules, so much so that they even left in references to die rolls that are irrelevant to the computer game!

I'm told that it's possible to set up scenarios to run on Neverwinter Nights, and that in fact I could set up my own scenarios and run them online for people; I'm tempted, but fear that it may take a huge amount of work and learning. We'll see.

In the meantime, during the move I found a copy of Black & White that I'd lost. I'd never even installed it—lost it before I had the chance! It turns out to be really quite good, excellent in fact—just what I'd have expected from the creator of Populous (I still miss that game), but with modern graphics and very original ideas. Movement can be a bit frustrating to master (Teri's hooked on the game, but she get annoyed at movement sometimes), and training the Creature seems like potentially a huge task. The AI of the Creature is surprisingly complex. My Cow has for some reason taking to throwing away his food uneaten and dying often, when he's not busy dancing with the villagers that is. Still, I plan to sort him out and get the worshippers in decent order soon. Either that or start all over and do it right.

There are some bugs, and the patch caused HUGE problems on my system, so I had to uninstall it. Still, it's a cool and interesting game. Makes me wonder what sort of game I'll be playing ten years from now.

Disaster In the Basement

Our main line pipe (the pipe that connects all the water that leaves the house—every drain, the toilets, washing machine, everything—to the sewer, has apparently collapsed under our foundation. As a result for several days ALL the water used in the house flooded into our basement. It's dried out now, but the floor is literally covered in toilet paper shreds. There's no noticable odor, but it's still completely disgusting.

But more horrifying is the cost. It was $300 to have Roto-Rooter come out and snake the line—but that didn't help, which is how we found that the pipe had probably collapsed, not just been blocked. So now they'll have to jackhammer out a section of the basement floor and replace the pipe. That will cost $2,500, which after all the expenses of buying the house and moving is, well, I really don't know what to say.

But our home insurance MIGHT pay for some or all of this; we'll find out soon, probably. Our best guess is they'll cover the cost of the jackhammering, but not the actual plumbing; that might be about half of the total cost. But we don't really know.

My father came over last night and we opened up the main waste line. I hadn't know such things existed. It wasn't as disgusting as I feared, to tell the truth. Not that strong a smell, overall. But we ran some water into it and found that it wasn't TOTALLY blocked—it drains, but very very slowly. That's consistent with the pipe being mostly collapsed, but it does help us out very slightly. It means that we can flush the toilet once an hour or so, take VERY quick showers, wash the baby, and wash his bottles—all of these things being spaced out with about an hour between uses. But believe me, that's a HELL of a lot better than having to drive 15 minutes to Teri's mother's house to use the bathroom! But I'll say no more about that.

The scariest thing is that we just don't know what could be going on down under the foundation. If it's only the $2,500 problem, it will be hard but we can manage it, I think. But the worst case scenario (Teri asked the plumber) is that the pipe is collapsed all the way out to the city sewer line itself—in which case the street would have to be excavated, we'd have to hire the police to block off the road, and we'd be looking at tens of thousands of dollars—which is far beyond anything we can possibly handle. If that happens, I really don't know what we'll do.

But the plumber said that complete line collapse almost never happens—he's only heard of it happening once. On the other hand, there are times when I feel cursed, that if it only happens once in a million times it will happen to me. So we'll see.


I often wonder what we did to deserve such an amazing baby! He gets cuter every day, and it's terribly frustrating to me that I can't post pictures here to prove that that isn't just the usual parental myopia. He's as cute a baby as you could imagine, and the doctors tell us that even though he's only nine months old, he's functioning as a 1-year-old in every way. He crawls at lightspeed, sometimes with one leg up in the air as if he was about to stand up—I'm not sure why. And last week he started climbing things. Teri followed up him nine of the twelve steps on our staircase, a distance at least five times his own height!

He seems to hate going to bed now, and screams every time we come near to putting him in his crib. He rolls onto his hands and knees, sobbing piteously, and tears pour out of his scrunched-up little red face. Then he struggles to his feet, clutching the bars of the crib and heart-wrenchingly pleading "Mumma, mumma, mumma!", and "Nen, nen, nen!" (which is his word for "no").

It breaks our hearts to leave him there, but there seems to be no other way to get him to sleep. If he doesn't sleep within 10 minutes I go and hug him (without removing him from the crib), but I don't know if that helps much; it may only encourage him to cry more.

On the plus side, he plays happily in his crib for quite a while in the mornings, and is a very happy waker. There's nothing in the world like going in to the nursery in the morning and seeing huge smiles break out on his plump little face!


I was going to end with that (might as well go out on a high note) when I realized that I haven't had a chance to post some excellent RQ-related links that I'd promised some people I'd put up soon. I'm not on the PC with that info, unfortunately, but I'll get those links up ASAP, I promise. And by the way, I almost forgot to mention that Chaosium is apparently going to put out a new, updated version of the Basic Role-Playing rules later on this summer! I can't wait to see it, because if it's compatible enough with RQ it may be an acceptable alternative to trying to put the rules up here - it might even mean a sort of commercial rebirth of RQ, in a way!

Previous Chatter

Chatter Index Next Chatter

Main Page

Roleplaying Adventures & HeroQuests

Generic & RQ Alternate & Add-On Rules
Alternate Rules

The Chaos Project: Magic Items, Found Items, & Chaos Features. Add yours!
Chaos Project

RQ3, RQ2, & CoC Character Sheets, a RQ Help Sheet, more
Character Sheets

NPC People, places, & Things
NPCs & More

Rune Art & the RQ Font

Random Thoughts From A Random Brain

Issues of my old zine, resurrected from paper
Rack & Rune

Battle Evil Online! Or get munched
Peasant's Progress

Game & Other Recommended Links

So what do you think?

[email protected] Copyright 2002 by Peter Maranci. Revised: September 05, 2002. version 1.0