Weekly Recap

Fun useless stuff on the Internets this week:

Blatant Honda Ad – and yet I giggled.  Giggled I say.

Amazing OOTS fundraiser – Rich Burlew asked to raise $57,000 to reprint the thrid OOTS TPB.  So far he is above $300,000.  Amazing.

Last week was all about the Robbie Burns scotch tasting.  Met Craig there and he was awesome, but the rest of the evening was a little bit disastrous.  Bus service got me there an hour late and I left about 15 minutes too early.  Fortunately they let me try all the scotches.  But 7 scotches in an hour is too much.  They all blended together.  The grand finale was the Bruichladdich Octomore.  But even that was disappointing.  It was too one note for even my unsophisticated tastes.

Work was eventful too.  5 people have given notice in the last three weeks including two from my team.  Yowza.  It seems that it might not be about me though.  I ran the team at SA for six years and had less turnover than one year here.  Oddly, the morale is much better.  I cannot explain.

Finally gaming.  After two weeks of absence, I returned to the gaming table.  It was a good adventure.  A demon was exorcised – mostly by kicking its butt – we aren’t a subtle crew.  The previous two Fridays were both pretty special, but I’m just a homebody.  Returning to the usual routine was a relief.

This week I am going to do nothing exciting.  So far my biggest success is writing a paper.  Ooh.



Look until tomorrow for a recap…

Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition.  Even now in the time of the geek in which we live there is still room to mock the D&D geeks like me.  Which is awesome.  Roleplaying is pretty darn geeky.

Why?  It hasn’t been long since 4th ed.  Money of course.  But that has always been the primary motivator behind a new edition.  Like all editions though 5e (marketing labeled for the moment as D&D Next) it seems that the designers and developers have interesting and compelling goals to achieve as well.

4th Ed

The main watchwords in 4e were unity and balance.  It also attacked some nagging issues: “The cleric paradox” and “The 15 minute workday”.  It took a hard look at every aspect of the game before deciding whether it was CORE to D&D.  The result was a game that probably achieved its two goals and solved the first problem.  It also got rid of some D&D mainstays like Vancian magic, alignments and saving throws.

It also introduced its own issues.  It is the most complex of all the versions and it had a definite emphasis on roll-play (using dice to resolve issues) over role-play (having the players act as characters).  The main strike against it was that it was VERY different.  While still obviously D&D it was the biggest change that ever occured between versions.

With 5e announced it looks like most of the items dumped in 4e are coming back and some of the truly innovative ideas in 4e like roles and power sources.  I wonder if 4e will become just an odd footnote in D&D history.

The Big Split

When 4e was announced, 3e didn’t go away.  The biggest contribution of 3e to D&D history is the OGL and the d20 system – an open license allowing other designers to make games with the base D&D ruleset.  4e dumped it, but those who loved it and 3e picked it up and produced Pathfinder.  If 4e was too big a move for you, you went to Pathfinder.

Every edition release of D&D has left fans of the old system behind.  I think my high school group is still playing 2e up in Peace River.  But the Pathfinder/4e split seemed to actually divide the customer base in two.

This is just speculation, but I wonder if that had enough impact on the bottom line that is hurried the release of this new edition.

D&D Next

With the stage set, the goals for the new edition seem to be:

  • capture a “classic” D&D feel
  • have a modular approach to complexity.  The base system will be quite straightforward.  But modules of complexity can be added without impacting the overall balance
  •  use a large open playtest to raise the enthusiasm for the release in the same way that the OGL raised enthusiasm for 3e

My big concern is that a design goal of making everyone happy is impossible to meet.  The second is that I don’t see how you can implement a modular approach while maintaining balance.  I am skeptical.

D&D Experience was this past weekend and more general experience was released.  People got to playtest an early version (under NDA), but several seminars revealed interesting features.  Roles are gone.  Vancian magic is back.  The nature of how skills and abilities interact is changing.  They are playing with a new idea called themes. And each class is made to be distinct and exciting on its own.

These changes are reassuring.  D&D Next will be its own thing.  It isn’t just a representation of old ideas.  But it does bring back some old ideas I miss.  And the modular approach isn’t overly apparent – but that might be just because they are showing the base idea.

The cool thing about this is that now the big playtest starts.  Nothing is carved in stone.  A year of following the potential updates is upon me.  That makes me pretty excited.

A paean to myself*

*because there are too few singing my praises.

T is for being Totally awesome, YMMV
O is for his Offbeat sense of humour
D is for his Dependability in certain specific situations
D is for his Doggedness – mostly in avoiding things
W is for being Weird and goofy
D is for Darn there are a lot of Ds
Y for Yoda it is
C is for being Clever, but not as clever as he thinks he is
K is for Kooky, which is distinct from the weirdness above

Put them all together and what does that spell?


At least it rhymes.


Nominees listed in full here

Some years the Oscrs have movies that interest everyone.  Sometimes they don’t.  This is a year with type 2.  This is actually more interesting to me because I get to go out and see a number of movies that I otherwise might not.  But I wonder if the average Oscar viewer will be too interested in the nominee list.

Best Picture

There were nine(!) nominees this year.  I have only seen 4 of them.  Hugo, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball and Warhorse.  I am interested in seeing The Artist and The Descendants as well.  Someday I’ll probably watch The Help.  Of the ones I’ve seen my favorite is Midnight in Paris.

  • Hugo – this was very good, but although it is a PG 3D movie I would have hated it as a kid.  A nostalgic look back at the 1900s?  For adults though I think it is excellent.  (There is nothing that kids shouldn’t see in the movie – I just don’t think they’d be interested.)
  • Moneyball – There are also nominations for both Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill.  Jonah Hill with an Oscar!  Who could have seen that potential coming.  Aaeon Sorkin co-wrote – there is no surprise that I like this.
  • Warhorse – I wrote about this movie earlier this month.  This is a good movie worth seeing.
  • Midnight in Paris – this was just a nifty, awesome, groovy film.  I’ve written about it before too.  Go watch.

I don’t have too much to say about all the acting nominations.  I’ve found that there can be great acting in some pretty garbage movies.

Best direction and Best writing

In these categories I’ve also seen: The Ides of March and Margin Call.  I’d like to see Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.  That looks nifty.  The director category overlaps 100% with Best Picture.  My pics would be Midnight in Paris for direction, Moneyball for Adapted Screenplay and Midnight in Paris for Original Screenplay.

  • Ides of March – This is a good movie about very bad people.  I liked it.
  • Margin Call – I thought this was only  so-so movie.  The screenplay had some nice speeches, but they felt like speeches.  “Look at me!  I’m making a point here!”  I felt like I was being hit over the head with the “get the point?” hammer.  Because they were delivered by Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons, Paul Bettany and Stanley Tucci they worked OK.

The news says there were some snubs.  I’m fine with the nominees.  50/50 and Drive made my personal best films list of 2011, but I am not sure they needed nominations.

And that is what I have to opine about that.

Weekly Recap

I’m only going to cover two things in todays blog.  Dean’s memorial service and my kidney stone attack.

Friday, January 20th was the memorial service for Dean at St. Joe’s.  Today is the actual anniversary.  (Dean actually disappeared after midnight so the disappearance is tomorrow, but in my had it was Thursday night).  Our old college president (e.g. twenty years older than he was – not elderly) tried to gather a group of the 1991 alumni to attend the event, but only three of us were able to make it.  I was still thrilled to see the people who were there.

Dan (the president) gave a remembrance of Dean.  He did an excellent job.  He covered the facts.  He covered the feelings we had.  He went over what we all did wrong.  He also covered how we learned and grew.  Like my own remembrance last week it was a bit short on details about Dean himself which is unfortunate.  But it was a really good presentation.  I also learned (or maybe relearned) some aspects of the weekend and following weeks I had missed or forgotten.  Fr. Terry ed us and the current Rangers in prayers.  All told I was very happy with the service.  I am very glad this is something that Joe’s is still doing every year.

After the service we went to a nearby bar for some fellowship and supper.  I met several of the current house committee including Scott – the director of residence, Tyler – the president and Jerod one of the sports reps.  Joe’s is going to win its 25th consecutive intramural cup this year.  20 years ago I was there for the “drive for 5”.  I’m not sure the house committee had as much fun – we spent some time taking about mid-thirties issues like kids and health issues.  18 year olds are TWENTY years younger than we are now!

It was a good evening.  Unfortunate that it was a sad event bringing us together.

But it followed a lousy day.  The rest of the blog will contain details of events south of my personal equator that may not be for the squeamish.

Friday morning I woke at 4 in the morning.  I was really hot – sweating and feeling a little dehydrated.  As I tried to fall back to sleep I also realized that I had a slight pain in my right abdomen.  This would turn out to be a new kidney stone.  I couldn’t fall back to sleep, but the pain wasn’t bad to I stubbornly stayed in bed until my alarm went off at 5:15 am.

When I got up in addition to my normal glass of water in the morning I added some pain meds.  They worked and I felt a bit better.  I left for the bus at 6:45 am and decided to have one more pill for the road.  It is pretty normal that drinking water increases the pain since more pressure is then applied to the stone.  With the pain meds I was expecting to be able to put in a full day at work.  Often if you get by the initial pain the stone adjusts and doesn’t cause pain again – often for weeks.

That wasn’t the case this time.

The bus came at 7 am and at 7:50 am we were dropping a client off at the Cross Cancer institute on campus.  Instead of getting better the pain had just gotten worse throughout the trip.  I have no idea what it would have been like without the two pills I had popped that morning.

I asked the bus driver if he could make a detour and drop me at the U of A hospital instead of at work.  Shortly before 8 am i was scootering into emergency.

I waited 2 minutes to get into triage.  I went straight from there to registration.  I went straight from there into the ward.  I was surprised.  The ER waiting was not overly crowded, but there were at least four ambulance crews who had just brought in patients, plus two walkins ahead of me.

From there I went into a waiting room on the ward.  There I did wait for about 30 minutes before getting a bed.  That was a long time.  But overall from time to arrive until the time I was in a bed it was well under an hour.  I’m pretty happy with that.  Considering I had no spurty blood, wasn’t in danger of dying and I suffer pretty much in silence I was likely not at the top of the list, but I was still settled pretty fast.

So this is what happens next.  You put on a gown (I left my shoes on), get into bed and get re-triaged by the ward nurse assigned to you.  This triage includes a more complete history and some poking and prodding plus blood pressure and temperature and listening to heart and lungs and bowels (my bowels were apparently very quiet).  Then you wait for the Doctor.  This took a while – maybe another 30 minutes.  The Dr. re-confirms some of the details on the forms to his satisfaction and the instructs the nurse on some tests and treatment.  In my case this was to start an IV for fluids, administer some anti-inflammatories and pain killers (morphine), giving a blood sample and urnine sample and getting an x-ray.

One morphine shot in my IV drip later and I was feeling much better.  The pain went away.  By the time I went for my X-ray I was pain free and a little loopy.  Then I fell asleep.  When I woke up they asked for the urine sample.  I gave it with difficulty – not because of pain but there was nothing there to give despite having been given fluids for a couple hours.  They also had to retake my blood sample at the same time because the lab had trouble with the first one.

The x-ray showed a stone.  It was about 3 mm x 7 mm and low in the ureter.  That is still within the size that can be passed normally.  The doctors like you to pass them yourself if possible.  I agree.  As much as I like lithotripsy it isn’t my first choice.

Mom came down to spend time with me, but they didn’t actually allow other people on the ward.  Every hour she was given a five minute pass to come see me.  I hate bothering her, but a Mother’s love is nearly as good an analgesic as the morphine.

At 2:30 pm I got my release papers.  The urine test wasn’t back from the lab yet, but the x-ray had been pretty conclusive.  Since I already had pain killers at home I was prescribed an anti-inflamatory (NSAID) and a diuretic.    The pain was also back by this point, but on the pain scale I only rated it as a 1 out of 10 (I rated the initial pain as 6 out of 10).  My next stop was Dean’s service.  Since we were going out to a bar that night I asked if beer would have a bad effect on the pain meds.  The Dr. said it would be fine, but not to get drunk.  That was a surprise!  I was sure I’d get an absolute no!

The pain stayed at a 1 for the service.  We spent a good amount of time after the service talking with Fr. Dave.  That was pretty awesome.  We headed to the bar.  I took another pain killer and and an NSAID.  I ordered a beer with dinner.  Two sips of that beer later and I was feeling better than I had all day.  Beer is a cure all!

Now the rest of the weekend was me passing the stone.  Here are the side effects of the pain, the medication and likely my own mind playing tricks.  The pains meds blocked up my digestive tract.  The diuretic eliminated all control of my urinary tract.  I ALWAYS felt that I had to go to the washroom.  And then in 10 seconds that would change from a slight pressure to “I need to go right now!”  The pain stayed all weekend.  Normally between a 1 and a 3, but the only other time I took a pain killer was Saturday morning.  The rest of the time the pain wasn’t bad enough.  I was tired all the time, but I couldn’t sleep any later than 7 am in the morning.  I wasn’t hungry at all and when I did eat it didn’t sit well in my stomach.  I’d belch for an hour after and each time it felt like more than gas was going to come up (although I didn’t really feel nauseous and never threw up).  Finally Saturday night was the worst.  I was exhausted and I started to feel a bit feverish.  I went to bed and slept great.

Late Sunday afternoon I think I passed the stone.  I’m not positive since I was sitting on the can and didn’t see it go, but it felt weird.  More notably I started to feel better right away.  I was still tired at bed time last night, but that was my last remaining symptom.  By this morning I felt great.

That is my story from the weekend.  The low points were waiting in the ER waiting room for a bed (but that was short) and Saturday night and the high point was meeting the house committee and some old friends in the bar after the service.

Hopefully this week is less exciting.

20 years

I seem to have never written about this.

20 years ago this week we left Dean alone (January 24th, 1992).  I was never alone that night.  It seems hard to believe that anyone was.  But Dean was.

Dean disappeared.  We all went out.  We all came home – except Dean.  Dean never came home.  20 years later and he has never come home.  I do not know much more than that. Other than that we should not have left him alone.

I lived at St. Joseph’s College during the the 1991-1992 school year.  It was my first year of university and I was in general science.  Dean lived in the dorm room directly above mine.  A college outing was planned.  We put on our college colours and invaded the Lister Hall bar.  We walked four blocks from the college to Lister.  There were fifty men in the college and nearly all of us went plus alumni.  The bar was filled with St. Joseph Rangers.

It was cold.  Cold like it is this week.  But the bar was warm.  We drank.  We laughed.  Likely we made asses of ourselves.  As midnight came and went we began to go home.  I went home with two other people.  We walked home the four blocks.  I fell into bed and slept until morning.

I think Dean left the bar about ten minutes after I did.  He wasn’t the last person to leave.  But he was quite drunk.  When I left I could have asked him to come with us.  But I assumed he’d head home with others.  I wish I could say that I’d even thought about it, but I didn’t.  When Dean did leave, he left alone.

He went out into the night and the cold alone.  It was only a short walk home along a busy street past the Jubilee, the Butterdome and then up the steps into our college.  A street filled with lights.  But it was very late.  It was late and cold.  There were very few people out.  Just us Rangers walking home before Dean and again some few minutes after Dean.

The bar was full.  Full of us – a sea of college jerseys in blue with red and white stripes.

The next morning Dean didn’t come down to breakfast, but many didn’t.  When he wasn’t around for lunch folks started to worry.  We determined he wasn’t in the building.  We figured out that he had never come home.  Soon after that we knew he was missing.  We started to search.  Some wore jerseys and some didn’t, but it was a sea of Rangers searching campus.  Then is was us and the police and others who came in to help.  All together searching for the one person that we had left alone.

Twenty years ago, somewhere between the front door of Lister hall and the front door of St. Joseph’s college, Dean disappeared because we left him alone.  Because we took it for granted.  We were all together.  We were on campus.  We were so close to home.  We didn’t have to leave Dean alone, but we didn’t think.  We were careless.  I was careless many, many times in my life.  This one time it cost someone their life.

20 years ago this week.

I’m sorry.  This post should be about Dean.  Dean was quiet.  He was smart.  The last time I saw him he was happy with a grin that split his face in half and surrounded by friends.  Dean was good people.


Weekly Recap

Garsh!  The horrid weather has driven all thought for last week from my head.

I had a tough time getting out of bed this morning.  I was moving 50% slower and seemed to be expending twice as much effort.  I thought I was just tired, but apparently it is blue Monday and everyone else in the world was not at their best either.  But the bitter cold woke me up as soon as I went outside.

I had reason to be tired.  Last week was busy.  Monday was the cable install.  I think I covered that last week.  Tuesday was a day off.  Not of work, but of interesting things.  Wednesday was comic book day.  I still haven’t finished all the books from last week.  There’s a reason for that coming up.  Thursday was drinks out with the team.  Friday was Mom’s birthday and the Jim Cuddy concert.  Saturday was laundry and bill paying.  Sunday was church and a movie.  (Hugo – very good.)

For me?  That is a very full week.  This week is more in control.

I also read a four book series this week.  I just finished the fourth and final book before starting the blog.  The Sharing Knife by Lois McMaster Bujold.  I rate them as page turners, but not quite recommended.  Too much romance and not enough plotty goodness for my particular tastes.

Adventures?  Only two.  At drinks with the team, I stiffed the table for $15 dollars.  My nacho plate turned out to cost a whopping $21 dollars.  It plus my beer and wings came to more than I had on me.  I would have made up the difference paying with debit, but my bus conveniently arrived 5 minutes early for my window.  So I dropped the money I did have and rolled for the door.  My team doesn’t seem to hold this against me.  Very odd.

A better adventure is the Jim Cuddy show.  It was Mom’s birthday gift.  Tim and I took Mom and ourselves to the show.  It was just excellent.  Basil Donovan from Blue Rodeo provided bass duties to both the Jim Cuddy band and the opening band and the difference in the base sound highlights the difference between the bands.  The opener had the bass sounding overloud and disconnected from the music around it.  In the Jim Cuddy band it was excellent.

The band was just tight.  In addition to Cuddy and Donovan there was a keyboardist, drummer, trumpeter, fiddler and lead guitarist.  It was a big full sound.  Together they meshed well and there was also lots of time for each to strut their stuff.  The fiddler did the keyboard solo from 5 days in July and it was just incroyable.

Of course Cuddy is the band leader, main vocalist and star.  I prefer the Blue Rodeo songs to his solo stuff, but delivered live they all pop and shine.  His voice is still clear and enthusiastic and inviting.

So belated Happy birthday Mom!

Til next week peeps.