Chatter #70: November 27, 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

November 27, 2002

Another long gap between issues. And I haven't added that much to the site lately. Why? To tell the truth, it's hard to say; partly it's that I haven't been feeling very creative lately, partly that I've been very busy, and partly, well, who knows? Maybe it's the change of seasons.


There have been some interesting developments in my life lately. For one thing, it looks as if I'll be gaming again soon for the first time in a long time. I've found two roleplayers in my general area (or they found me), and we've been talking about doing a weeknight game. At this point things are still being worked out; we'll probably try taking turns running short scenarios for a while. And of course we'd really like to find one or ideally two more compatible people. Still, things are looking good.

Online RQ

I've been corresponding for a while now with a couple of other RQ webmasters, and there have been some interesting issues raised. One was the idea of creating a general "Support RuneQuest" page, a single location with all the voting buttons for participating RQ sites. That page could also include quick links to contribute to online participatory projects such as the Chaos Project, too.

Another topic of discussion has been an online RuneQuest game. From the reaction I've received when I've mentioned it here and there, the demand for online RuneQuest games is very high indeed! The question, though, is how to set up and run a game. Ideally it would be nice to work up some way to let many different online RQ games form, or at least to support online RQ GMs.

Long ago I came across a site called WebRPG which supposedly enabled roleplayers to play pen-and-paper RPGs of any kind online with each other. Back then it was free, but when I checked in on the site recently it had changed; they charge for the software and have a monthly fee as well. I'd taken a look or two at the system way back when and hadn't really understood it, and the modern version didn't seem any easier to understand; in any case I'm not really up for spending money right now, so that doesn't seem to be an option.

Some of the questions that have been raised:

What's the best forum for a game? Live chat, posting boards, email, or some combination?

What sort of rules should be used? If we try to include every die roll and mechanic used in normal pen & paper RQ, it could take a year to play out a single game day. The whole issue of dice and randomization online is complicated. There are some online "dice servers", and there are other ways to randomize, but the issue of how complex a set of rules to use remains. My own inclination is to use most of the basic RQ rules—that is, characteristics, skills, and magic—but to somehow steal the resolution mechanism of the Amber Diceless system, which would eliminate the need for any die-rolling at all.

Of course, I don't know how much time I'll have to devote to an online game anyway. It would be fun, though...


Five or six years ago I bought a pair of incredibly expensive eyeglasses from EyeWorld in downtown Boston. They were $450! I got a second pair free with them, but it was still an insane sum. Now, of course, I can't believe that I ever had that much money to throw away on glasses.

But my glasses have been getting old, and recently Teri booked us an appointment at a local optician. We got our prescriptions and picked out glasses. When mine came in a couple of weeks later, however, the first thing I said was "WHOA! These are totally wrong". My eyes are quite unusual; for a long time one was nearsighted and the other was farsighted 1. Apparently most people are nearsighted or farsighted in both eyes, though of course often not to the same degree. Anyway, as a result of my unusual condition I've often had problems getting glasses; the company sends the prescription off to a central location which creates the glasses, and when they get them back it turns out that some well-meaning idiot "corrected" my glasses by changing one of the plusses to a minus, or something—making both eyes the same, in other words.

Which is what happened this time too, of course. The right eye was really bizarre; I'm virtually blind in that eye without glasses, but when I put the glasses on the vision in my right eye actually became worse!

The optometrist took me back into his office for another check, and told me that on second thought he wanted to change my prescription anyway; apparently he'd found that I have presbyopia, a hardening of the lenses (a natural part of aging, though a bit early in my case) that made it harder for the eye to change focus between near and far. Which meant I needed...bifocals.

I am old.

Actually I'm only 38—I don't feel old. And truth to tell, this bifocal thing doesn't really bother me; somehow I lack the vanity and a lot of the other feelings of shame that other people seem to have (but I suppose that years of Chatter make it unnecesary for me to admit that I have no shame, right? ).

Anyway, the new bifocals came in last week and I've been getting used to them. They're actually quite nice. My old glasses were very big, with gold wire frames and rather heavy lenses (though they were as thin as could be made at the time, and not cheap); these new ones are smaller but fit more neatly and snugly on my head. They're dark, slightly mottled wire frames with milled edges and a single bridge, and the anti-reflective polycarbonate lenses are the thinnest I've ever had. They also came with neat sunglass clip-ons, specially made for these glasses; unlike most clip-ons, the two sets of lenses never actually touch and therefore don't scratch each other.

Oh, a word to the wise: I've had problems with lenses scratching forever, even though I always get anti-scratch coatings. I'm suddenly reminded of a bit from Rudyard Kipling's wonderful Kim:

"A feather! A very feather upon the face!" The old man turned his head delightedly and wrinkled up his nose. "How scarcely do I feel them! How clearly do I see!"

"They be bilaur—crystal—and will never scratch. May they help thee to thy River, for they are thine." 2

I always wanted glasses like that.

Anyway, I'm told that the way to make sure that your glasses don't scratch is to NEVER wipe them. Instead, wash them under warm (but not hot) water with your fingers and dishwashing soap, and then carefully pat or blot them dry on a paper towel or clean cloth. So far it has worked wonderfully. It's apparently also a good idea to soak them in warm, soapy water for a few minutes every week to keep the hinges and nose-page mechanisms clean and free of oily build-up.

As for the bifocal thing...the real surprise is that there's hardly any difference. Everyone told me to expect to have to make a huge accommodation, to have trouble going down stairs and seeing the dashboard when driving, but none of that has been a problem. I suspect that the difference between my "near" and "far" prescriptions is so small as to be hardly noticeable. I can see a little bit of blurring when I look at distant objects with the "near" part of the lenses, but it's really no big deal.

And Teri says I look a lot better with these new frames, which is a plus.

Health & Sickness

About a month ago I got really sick; I couldn't eat solid food for a week. I got better, but on my first day back at work I had some sort of bizarre brain event and did something I haven't done in a long, long time.

A couple of years ago I had joined the health club in my office building. I went several times, got tired, didn't go for a few months, felt guilty, went once or twice, got tired, rinse, repeat.

Now, I once actually DID work out properly for an entire year, but that was six or seven years ago; I lost about 50 pounds and was getting into very good shape. Somehow I fell off the wagon, though.

But two weeks ago for some reason I was full of energy (maybe it was the 10 pounds that I dropped while I was sick), and before I knew it I was in the club. Now, I've re-started working out after a lapse any number of times; because I'm a pretty big fat guy with a family history of heart disease, I always start back in slowwwwwly, with sedate sessions on the treadmill. That means the "fat-burning" setting, half-hour walks with my heart rate monitored to stay at 116. I'd work up a sweat, but nothing painful. I'd usually go two or three times the first week, and then get bored and give up.

But this time I made a mistake.

I meant to press the "Fat-burning" button, really. But instead I pressed "Cardio", which aims for a heartrate not of 116, but of 146. And for some insane reason I didn't stop the machine.

I survived, obviously. And afterwards I felt great. Full of energy. So I went again the next day, and did another cardio routine on an elliptical trainer. Again it was easier than I expected, and I got a huge surge of energy that lasted through the next day. I had a lunch date the next day, but I went the day after that and got the same results again! And even though I was busy the next week I managed to work out on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I'm down to about 273 (I was 280); if I can keep this up I hope to reach a reasonable 225 before too long. I'm just under six feet, by the way, and have a very burly bone structure; I take an incredibly large hat, and it would be fair to call me "barrel-chested" no matter what I weighed. According to the charts I should weigh 188 at most, but I really doubt that that would be practical. The charts don't seem to take bone structure into account.

Anyway, if I lose a decent amount of weight perhaps I'll post "before" and "after" photos on the site. Fully clothed, I promise.

Living In The Last Days Of The Weimar Republic

Some people, particularly correspondents outside of the US, have asked me what I think of the recent mid-term elections and world events.

In short, it's like living through the end of the Weimar Republic and watching the rise of the National Socialists to power. Or watching the end of the Roman Republic as Julius Caesar takes power. I may be wrong, but I fear that the United States is changing from a democracy to a dictatorship/oligarchy, although the outward trappings of democracy have been left in place—for now.

Anyway, here's an edited version of my take on the situation. I'll be honest and admit that much of this is taken directly from some emails I've sent recently, but the material is all mine.

In the midterms the Republicans essentially swept the national field, giving them complete one-party control. For the next two years at least they will have absolute power, and beyond that, their power to appoint and approve the federal judiciary means that an extremely conservative and religious-right stamp will be impressed on our judicial system for at least the next thirty years. The wall between Church and State will be severely weakened, if not eliminated; likewise the First Amendment, at least for individuals. Corporate power and lack of accountability will rise to never-before-seen heights, and massive tax cuts for the very wealthiest will be implemented. Meanwhile services for the poor will be gutted, as will educational spending. I really don't want to catalog all that is going to be happening, to tell you the truth—and the sad thing is, all of the above items are proudly proclaimed by the Republicans, for the most part. War with Iraq is virtually certain, and after that there are quite a few other nations which the Bush foreign policy hawks have already decided must be attacked. Environmental protection in any form is quite dead, and the opinion of the rest of the world doesn't matter at all to these people—non-Americans aren't quite human in their eyes (nor are the poor and middle-class, nor anyone who has compassion for others—that's an attitude that bewilders and angers our new Leaders). Most of them are millenialist fundamentalist Christians, which means that they are essentially an American version of the Taliban. Abortion will be outlawed, as well as (of course) many fields of biological research. The United States will use its economic, diplomatic, and military muscle to force other countries to follow the dictates of our Religious Right.

In addition, government secrecy will soar to new heights. Already the public is being denied access to all sorts of information about government workings that it previously had; the Freedom of Information Act is being quite effectively destroyed. We are no longer citizens with a right to know about the workings of our government. We are consumers and peasants, nothing more than property, who have the right to shut up, remain ignorant, breed more of our kind, live out our lives at their pleasure, be squeezed to the limit and beyond for their gain, be manipulated like rats in a maze by their media, and in the end to die for their purposes.

Basically, it's Imperial Rome all over again...for a while. Or the fall of the Weimar Republic to the Brown Shirts. In the long term (within 50—100 years), the American Empire will fall, and if the world survives I expect China or India to rule the world for a while. I'm hoping for India, since China strikes me as being far more brutal and xenophobic. Plus India has a democratic tradition, English is widely spoken there, and although there have been ethnic clashes India strikes me as being remarkable similar to the US in that it contains a huge variety of religions and ethnicities, and is therefore more likely to show tolerance for differences both within and without its borders.

But, as I started to say before, the real question is whether or not the democratic process can survive in the US. There was serious ballot fraud in 2000, plus a blatantly political decision by a corrupt Supreme Court majority to give the election to George W. Bush; they stopped the recount process on the grounds that it would harm Bush, even though it had not yet been shown that he was the winner (and in fact he lost the national vote by over 500,000 votes, and a later recount showed that he had lost the electoral vote as well). Virtually every legal scholar agreed that the Supreme Court decision was a travesty, one of the most shameful decisions ever made by that body; and they themselves seemed to realize it, since they declared that their decision could not be used as a precedent (in other words, that the Democrats could not then use it as a precedent in their favor, if the circumstances were ever reversed).

By the way, the Washington Post (which I despise as complete corporate whores) published (but did not publicize) an interesting bit about the Florida vote online. It has the results of the recount done by the Consortium, which results were so-conveniently silenced in the aftermath of 9/11. The web page allows you to select your own standards for recount; would you accept dimpled chads, partially disconnected ones, or only fully punched ones, for example? The interesting thing is not only that most methods give Gore the victory, but that if you count overvotes—that is, ballots where the votor checked off the name of their candidate but also wrote that same name in on the write-in line—Gore wins every time, no matter what other standards are used. It's therefore quite clear that the government of the US has been hijacked by a criminal gang of thugs who are now terrorizing the world.

But as I said, none of that is being publicized or even covered much in any format that reaches the American public. The mainstream American media now speaks with a single voice: that of the literal handful of major multinational corporations which own them, and which completely support the Republicans as the party of big business. The voting irregularities of the current midterm cycle were not covered at all! There was actually far better coverage of US election fraud in the UK than in the US, where it happened. And to top things off, the current chairman of the FCC (Colin Powell's son) is apparently planning to eliminate ALL ownership restrictions. A single company could own every single media outlet in the entire country, and that would not be a problem for the Bush junta. In fact, it seems likely that nothing would please them more.

This may sound alarmist, but I have serious doubts as to whether future "elections" will in fact be elections at all; the process has been corrupted, and the media which is supposed to report on such things is now firmly in the pockets of the corrupters. The process is being computerized piecemeal by private companies whose methods of computation are protected industrial secrets; voters press buttons or touch touch-screens, but what happens then inside the machines we are not permitted to know. It was easy enough to steal an election with paper ballots, but with computerized results we will never be able to validate or check the true totals even afterwards. And the companies which create and program the computerized voting machines are mostly owned by Republicans and far-right advocates. Which sounds very conspiracy-theory but is unfortunately not.

Eventually some future Bush may dispense with the sham of free elections, and with the remaining outward form of a democratic system of government; but the heart of democracy has been withering for some time. My personal suspicion is that the US will eventually end up with a "banana republic" style of government, in which the privileged live in guarded enclaves and the rest of the populace lives in the contaminated wastelands outside in a state of constant violence and hunger.

I hope I'm just being unnecessarily gloomy, but I really wouldn't bet on it.

What will happen in the end? I don't know. Perhaps a second American revolution, eventually, because the economic rape of the American poor and middle class (along with the rest of the world) is not a stable situation; you can't rape an entire people forever and not have them notice and react, not even with control of the military. Will the people eventually revolt? I don't know. The cynic in me fears that the media will somehow persuade the starving masses to turn their rage on the few remaining liberal leaders (and probably to dig up Bill Clinton's coffin at that point), Goldstein-style. I can't read 1984 any more, but my fear is that in many ways Orwell was right. The only way out that I can see is some sort of technological breakthrough(s) that I can't imagine, since science seems to be the one thing that seems to constantly improve rather than cycle.

There was a television movie made in the early 1960's called "Shadow On The Land", in which the whole Hitler phenomenon happened in near-future America rather than 1930's Germany; it portrayed American Nazism (never called that, of course) quite effectively, and was quite clever. I always knew that it could have happened here; there's an urge to dictatorship and fascism in all people, I think (as Alan Moore portrayed for Britain in "V for Vendetta", although I can't speak for the cultural accuracy of his book, of course). There are still many of us who support freedom, and tolerance, and who understand other cultures and the principles of international law, but there are far more who are simply ignorant and hate anything and anyone who looks different. They're easily manipulated, unfortunately, and most of them don't even vote. Less than 40% of the electorate voted in this cycle.

Did you know that nearly 90% of the people in prison in the US are in jail for non-violent offenses? And that although the US has only 5% of the world's population, we have 25% of the world's prisoners? Our jails have become enormous slave-labor camps for the enrichment of large corporations, many of which are at least partly owned by our politicians—and all of which donate heavily to the Republican party.

Something else that's rising on my political radar is the likely reinstatement of a national draft. I've always bitterly opposed the draft; it flagrantly violates the thirteenth amendment of the US constitution, to whit:

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Although the Supreme Court long ago declared that the issue of the draft was immune to question on constitutional grounds, to my mind that just points out what intellectual whores Supreme Court "justices" could be, even in the late 1800's—and of course the current SCOTUS Five would make even the most corrupt old judge in the bad old days blush.

Now, no male in my close family and none of my friends in the US are anywhere near draftable age. In fact, none of them are between the ages of seven and 35. Still, the principle of the thing bothers me very much. And once this lawless junta has resumed the process of forcing the children of the poor and middle class into the army to fight for their profits—AND, it seems, to act as federal police within the US for the first time, beating down and killing those who oppose the corporate agenda—we'll have a hard time winning our freedom back. An eternal war is a wonderful thing for the Bush crime family, since it places their dictatorship beyond question and is a great excuse to silence all opposition. Combine that fact with the likelihood that the junta's present and future wars in the Middle East (and by the way, we're bombing in Iraq outside of the no-fly zone right now, which is an act of war not sanctioned by the UN) will earn the US the undying hatred of millions of Moslem fundamentalists for hundreds of years, and you have a very reasonable chance that my son will be getting a letter from his draft board ordering him to report for induction when he turns 16 or 18. I will not—will never—allow them to draft Sebastian, and my fear is that Bush's war will still be raging at that point, with no end in sight.

Every time I start thinking about politics lately I get depressed. There are times when I seriously consider switching to the Green party, because the damn Democrats never seem to be willing to fight or stand for anything any more except fundraising from their corporate sponsors. It's like some bad joke where a psychotic bodybuilder is beating some innocent bystander to death, and all the victim can do is apologize for bruising the murderer's fists and beg for spare change. The problem being that the Democrats aren't just failing themselves, they're failing the American people and the very concept of democracy around the world. But I'm starting to wonder if that isn't exactly what the Democrats want; to please the corporate backers, and the hell with the little guys that they used to represent.

That Amazing Baby

Sebastian is growing and flourishing wonderfully. One of the things he's been doing that particularly knocks me out is playing with the phone. It has always fascinated him; as soon as he came home whenever he had a chance he'd pick up the phone and start pressing buttons at random. One time Teri even found that he'd dialed some strange woman! She got nervous and hung up without saying anything.

But whenever we tried to get him to speak on the phone, he'd clam up. In fact, that was one of the best ways to quiet him: hold the phone in front of his face. If someone was talking to him he'd listen, and if it was someone he knew he'd usually smile and try to press the buttons or bite the phone...but he wouldn't make any sound. Suddenly, though, something changed. In the last few days, though, we've had several two-way conversations, he and I! And I know he's responding to me, because one time I laughed at something he said (I think it was "doh-doh-doh") and when he heard me he laughed too.

He's also pretending to make phone calls with his toys, which is a good sign. And not just his toy phones: he's even holding long rectangular blocks to the side of his head, and laughs when I say "Hello, Sebastian!" in a "telephone" voice.

Lately he's developed a big interest in kissing. It's amazingly funny; his little plump face moves towards his target, eyes downcast, and he presses his little moist face against a cheek or a nose or any convenient target. He once kissed me seven times in as many seconds, which quickly reduced me to a state of helpless laughter.

He particularly seems to love hugging and kissing children; when we had some kids over recently he was all over them, hugging and kissing them to distraction. It was awfully cute.

And something funny happened while I was at the optometrist's with him: there was a little girl there, no more than four or five years old, cute, with very straight blonde hair. She was fascinated by Sebastian, and kept coming over, smiling at him, and saying "Hello!". He was fascinated by her, of course; he's crazy about pretty girls of all ages, and particularly blondes. So I carefully put him down. He toddled up to her, bent over and kissed her on the tummy—twice! It was the cutest thing. Everyone in the place was just overcome.

Physically he's also growing by leaps and bounds. He can climb up the staircase so quickly that it's really frightening—he can be halfway up the stairs before you even realize he had left the room. So far he hasn't fallen, thank goodness, and we're finding ways to block the staircase.

There's another odd thing he recently did. We have two cats, Sam and Baby; Sam is the older by far, a beautiful cougar-like cat. Baby is a big fat white polar-bear-type kitty. Both are declawed. Now, Baby puts up with a lot of abuse (hugs and kisses, eye-pokings and tail-pullings) from Sebastian, but Sam has no patience for that sort of thing. He hisses and tries to bite Sebastian; he doesn't actually break the skin; he just lets him feel his teeth as a warning. At first Sebastian was quite oblivious, but somewhere along the line he got a little afraid or respectful of Sam. Which is why I was particularly surprised a few days ago.

Sam was sitting upright on his haunches on the hamper in the bathroom. Sebastian walked up to him, stood there, and bent his head forward—almost as if he was bowing to Sam. Sam bent forward and smelled Sebastian's head, snuffling a bit. It must have been a ticklish feeling, because Sebastian started giggling uncontrollably. And for the next few minutes, over and over, Sebastian kept inviting Sam to smell his head. Teri tells me that happens often now, particularly if Sebastian has been out somewhere with interesting smells. It's the funniest thing...

William's Webpage

I recently made up a webpage for my nephew (and godson), William. He's six. I looked for some fun stuff to put on his site, but wasn't able to find much; I'd like to put more good stuff there. If anyone has any suggestions, please drop me a line and let me know! Ad-free if possible, please. Oh, and if you'd like to see his site it's at .

Epimetheus' Journal

I've made a number of friends in the online world, many of whom have their own websites. But I have very few offline friends who have their own sites: Lois had a neat one up for while, but it was on a free service and disappeared a while ago (she hadn't done much with it after she first posted it, unfortunately), Virgil has a large site but hasn't updated it in a year or two (I think)—he really should, though, because he writes a lot of great stuff. Some other friends do have sites, but they're all people that I see only once a year at most.

But my friend Epimetheus recently started a blog. Which is a trendy word that I instinctively dislike, so lets make that a "journal". Another thing: it feels weird to call him Epimetheus, since he only uses that name for the journal. Still, since he seems to be protecting his privacy and that's something I respect, Epimetheus he will be in these pages. Although his photo is on the site, but I guess that without a name he'd be hard to find. Incidentally, who out there knows what the source is for the name "Epimetheus"? Without looking it up, I mean? Just wondering. I knew instantly when I heard it, but I may be unusual.

Anyway, here's his journal. He's mentioned me a few times, if for some strange reason you're looking for more stuff about me.

I Hate Television

More and more I've come to hate television. I hate the stupidity. I cringe at the shallow, manipulative "news". The constant barrage of commercialism, both in the actual ads and in the ever-increasing product placements, horrifies me. Are we supposed to believe that it's a coincidence when all the so-called "news" shows do specials about (for example) World War II combat when a WWII movie is coming out the next week? And use footage from the movie to illustrate real events, and interview a goddamn star who wasn't even ALIVE during WWII??

I also fear the way that Sebastian is more and more attracted and attentive to the TV, but that's an issue that Teri and I are still discussing. There are times when I fantasize about smashing the damned thing, but I'm not that assertive.

But lately TV has become even more repellent and horrifying, perhaps as part of a general social transition towards war-based fascism (in the classic definition). Two commercials in particular really horrified me recently:

In one, a woman in businesslike attire is pushing her baby along in a stroller down a steep hill. As she's momentarily distracted, she lets go of the stroller which immediately rolls away from her...directly towards a huge pit in a construction site. The woman chases after the stroller frantically. As it plunges towards the pit and certain death for the adorable tot, a passing man snatches the baby to safety. But the woman ignores her baby and keeps chasing after the stroller—which stops just on the brink of the pit.

At which point she grabs her PDA or cell phone or some damn device from a pouch in the back of the stroller. "Got your priorities straight?"

I'm guessing that that's supposed to be funny, but the problem is, it isn't. It's not even mildly amusing, and it's certainly not clever. It's just appalling and stupid, and I can't understand why it made it onto the air. If I could even remember what the stupid product was, I'd make damn sure never to buy anything from that company for the rest of my life.

The other commercial was even worse. A man is sitting and watching TV. Behind him a woman says "Did you read a book to the kids, honey?" "Their friend Jeffry is doing it," the man replies, and the scene changes to upstairs where a little boy and girl are sitting in a big chair while the goddamned Toy-R-Us giraffe is sticking its head through their window and reading them—I can't believe this—the Toys-R-Us catalog! No f--king wonder American rates of illiteracy are through the goddamn roof! The hellish corporate mascot is telling the kids about the goddam toys they can pester their parents to buy for them (because let's face it, they're too young to have much disposable income), and apologizes for spitting but says it's because he's so excited to read the catalog!!

I wish this was the product of an advertising agency in some alternate universe. Is it supposed to be heartwarming? To WHO??

I object to sharing a universe with commercials like those, and with the people who created them, and with the ones who paid for them because they think they're effective, and with the poor misguided morons who are persuaded by them or think they're funny.


Daylight Saving Time came and went recently (and it is Saving time, not SavingS time), and I ended up having conversations with a number of people about it. Which made me curious about the whole subject, of course, so I Googled and came up with some interesting information. Did you know that it was invented by Benjamin Franklin, for example?

You know, as one of the first people to use Google I find it somehow irritating that they have become a verb. Too damn many people on this bus. Oh well.

I also came up with a website that's outwardly boring, but turned out to be fascinating. It started when I started trying to figure out the time zone differences between the various people who have been talking about playing RQ online. The World Clock gave me that information and more. I'd never realized how extreme the seasonal variations are in the length of day here; at the solstices the division is almost 8 hours vs. 16 hours! And I'd never thought about it before, but of course that difference diminishes and disappears as you move closer to the equator.

It's also helpful to know that we're -5 hours from GMT here in New England.

A Fountain In Snow

My commute is long and weird, and this morning it was particularly strange; we had a heavy snowfall overnight. As I get into greater Boston, I travel down an avenue that I have always thought is one of the most beautiful I've ever seen: VFW Parkway. We've been going down that road since I was born, since my grandparents' house was nearby. The two halves of the road are separated by a 20-foot green space, with regularly spaced tall old trees giving ample shade. One thing that always attracts my attention is a small fountain which sits in front of a nursing home; it's only about four feet high, with a simple multi-tier design. It's not always on, but I look every day to see if it is; usually just a single stream of water is spouts from the top, which looks sort of odd.

But the fountain is usually off in cold weather. That's understandable, of course, since I assume it would freeze; in fact, I've seen it frozen sometimes in the past, occasionally with trickles of water running over layers of ice. The fountain hasn't been on for weeks, but this morning, the first snowy morning of the season, it was. The fountain wore a white hat of snow, with a single stream of water shooting upward from the middle of it. If I can, someday I'll stop and take a picture of the fountain and post it here.

Nothing much to say about the fountain, it's just that it makes me feel good to see it.

RQ for D&Ders

Recently I started writing an email to a local gamer who knows D&D, but not RQ. In it, I tried to explain the differences between the two systems. Before long the message got long, as my emails (and Chatters) often do. And it struck me that this might be an acceptable alternative to the RuneQuest Booklet idea. If written up properly, and cross-referenced with the Charts & Tables sheet on my site, it just might be an easy way for people familiar with basic D&D concepts—any edition—to play and even GM RuneQuest. There's a lot more expansion to do, of course. I may actually take the Charts sheet and write a stand-alone section for each table, and then add the individual sections to the original message. It would be much easier to write it in bite-sized sections, you know?

Anyway, while this is by no means complete it is a start. When I finish it I'll pretty it up and move it somewhere more prominent on the site, of course, but in the meantime any feedback would be great!

I hope to have another annotated zine up on the site next week. In the meantime, happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Americans, hope everyone else has a great weekend!

1 - I've since developed severe astigmatisms in both eyes, making my vision without glasses really awful. On the other hand, my corrected vision with glasses is 20/15—in other words, I see better than most people. (back)

2 - This was taken from Project Gutenberg's online edition of Kim. However, I had to correct the text, since their version was obviously wrong in several places—even in just these two small paragraphs! I've just written to them and offered to correct the entire text. (back)

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[email protected] Copyright 2002 by Peter Maranci. Revised: December 27, 2002. version 1.0