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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in jsemaj's LiveJournal:

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Sunday, August 2nd, 2009
1:02 pm
It's a Boy !!!
Home relaxing with baby Quinn. He's a wonderful squeaky baby who is already lifting himself up turning his head and attempting to look around. He's awake one moment and will fall asleep being moved from room to room.
Tuesday, July 28th, 2009
5:44 pm
Impeach Conyers.
ouse Judiciary Committee
Wednesday, May 27th, 2009
11:52 pm
11:52 pm
Tuesday, May 26th, 2009
3:29 pm
Mr. President, The Writing is on the Wall.
Mr. President, the writing is on the wall.

That's what it sounds like when the press starts to turn on you.
Monday, May 25th, 2009
10:03 am
Saturday, May 16th, 2009
6:20 am
The wife and I went to the China Buffet for lunch yesterday. While we were there a 102 year old woman showed up for lunch as well. She would have been born 1907. Since she has been born the world has seen the popular use of electricity, WW I, radio, the great depression, WW 2, Television, discovery of DNA, the cold war, men walking on the moon, the internet... this list could go one and on- when this woman was born a computer was a person that tallied math figures; in her life time electronic computers have gone from fantasy to huge room sized machines to little gadgets we can hold in a hand.

I'm going to be a father again in a couple of months and I honestly can't imagine what the world for him would be like if he lives to be 102 and see the year 2111.
Friday, May 1st, 2009
8:56 am
H1N1 has always been a threat.
It's not "swine flu" it's "H1N1", because that just rolls off the tongue better and facilitates proper thought in all citizens of the globe.

Newspeak: gotta love it.
8:32 am
How good is Obama really doing?
Obama after his 1st 100 days according to Gallup poll:

Has vision 74
Can get things done 69
Tough enough 68
Honest and trustworthy 67
Strong leader 60
Cares about people 59
Shares your values 58
Keeps his promises 57
Understands issues 56
Inspires confidence 55

G.W. Bush after his 1sr 100 days according to Gallup poll:
Has vision 74
Can get things done 69
Tough enough 68
Honest and trustworthy 67
Strong leader 60
Cares about people 59
Shares your values 58
Keeps his promises 57
Understands issues 56
Inspires confidence 55

Obama has a better overall approval score (65 as opposed to 62) but the 100 day category scores are statistically identical. Does this all mean anything?

Frankly I don't think the president really does much to leave any real mark the is identifiably their own on the country until into the second year of their administration, it's all reaction and playing catch-up before that.
Wednesday, April 29th, 2009
12:53 am
run it's the FLU !!!!!!
Holy S%$T, I can't believe the media or the responses from those "in charge" over the current swine flu outbreak. Yes it sucks to have the flu and it sucks 1000 times worse to have a child sick with the flu but folks have to step back and get a grip.

In the U.S. approximately 35,000 people die of the flu (or flu complicated illness) every year, that's more then 90 people a day. So far the swine flu media would-be-pandemic has killed a suspected 0 people in the U.S. In mexico there could be 150 flu deaths.

In Mexico about 2.5% of all deaths are flu and pneumonia, the country has 110 million people with a death rate of 4.7 per 1000, that's 36 people a day that could be dying of flu or flu-like illness each day in Mexico.

The current would-be-pandemic of the week isn't breaking any records, how did it become the doomsday story of the day? What are they not telling us about when they are telling us the best defense is to wash our hands?
Tuesday, April 14th, 2009
9:16 pm
My aunt died last night at approximately 9:30 PM.
Friday, April 10th, 2009
6:11 am
To her side...
My Aunt Shell is gravely Ill. The family is flocking to her side and they've asked for a priest to administer rites "just in case".
Wednesday, April 8th, 2009
7:21 pm
Goodbye Jerry, Goodbye Dave.
Today Two people died who have touched my life. I never met either of them in person but they had an impact on my life. Both were regulars of some of my favorite boards and Jerry was a friend here on livejournal. Dave helped created a hobby that quite simply changed my life I wouldn't have my children or possibly my current wife were it not for friendships I made thanks to games with multi-sided dice.
Jerry was a fellow gamer, a man of fine character and a good american.

R.I.P. Jerry Mapes

R.I.P. Dave Arneson
6:12 pm
More bad news
My Aunt Shell is in the hospital doing poorly. She has had trouble breathing the past couple of days and according to my mother has had some fluid removed. She had a recent bout with cancer and it looks like there is more to deal with, more then they initially thought they may have to deal with.
6:10 am
Men Come and Men Go, Earth Abides
This morning I am drawn by circumstance to post this:

“One generation passes away, and another generation comes: but the earth abides forever…The sun also rises and the sun sets…All rivers run to the sea, but the sea is never full; to the place where the rivers flow, there they shall return.”

This is a spiritual as I'm going to get online, a friend (whom I have known because of the internet) is in dire straits today and my thoughts go out to him and those friends that can be with him.
Wednesday, March 18th, 2009
11:05 pm
[gametalk] gaming purity
Ultimate Roleplaying Purity Score
CategoryYour ScoreAverage
Slew entire Asgardian Pantheon with one hand while blindfolded
Sensitive Roleplaying25.32%
All the game's your stage
GM Experience8.7%
Worldbuilder, storyteller... Master.
Systems Knowledge71.33%
Local rules guru
Livin' La Vida Dorka33.33%
Carries dice in pocket 'just in case'
You are 32.53% pure
Average Score: 68.8%

;-) The test has the bit about carrying dice in my pocket "just in case" and it's true, I don't go anywhere for more then a day or so without some dice on me, three or more days and I've got an RPG in my bag too
5:44 am
Yeah, that will show them...right?
item: We will impose on AIG a contractual commitment to pay the Treasury from the operations of the company the amount of the retention awards just paid

yeah, that'll show them

item: we will deduct from the $30bn in assistance an amount equal to the amount of those payments.

Uhh...whoopie !!!

item: Yesterday Geithner said that the bonus payments would be deducted from the next installment of AIG's $180bn bail-out package.

uh, really?

So WE are giving them less money in the next check we hand them? Yup, this is social justice: "oh no you guys aren't getting $180,000,000,000.00 now you are only going to get $179,835,000,000.00"

That'll sure show them.
Friday, March 13th, 2009
9:41 pm
[GameTalk] Amazons, Cyclops and Pygmies...oh my.
My write-ups for Amazons, Cyclops and Pygmies are currently hosted in the downloads section at Mythmere Games in the White Box section:


They are for the White Box version of Swords & Wizardry a “clone” of the original Gary Gygax 1974 fantasy roleplaying game. I find this simple old-school set of rules incredibly easy to create stuff for and a joy to play.
The Amazon, Pygmy and Cyclops are to replace the more "traditional" demi-human races that are so common in fantasy role-playing games. Not that I have anything against Elves, Dwarves and Halflings they are fine but a change in something like the playable races can give an RPG campaign a very different feel.

Today at work while the computer was rendering away on a piece of 3-d concept art I started to doodle a campaign map to go along with these fellows, in the brief time my file was processing on the computer I filled a sheet of white paper with green sharpie scribblings of such places as the city of Grand Ortam, The ruins of Shattered Sellium which lay in the shadow of Mount Islay home to giants and other horrors and yet a simple pastoral folk shelter on it's slopes, caravans can travel Past the Tower of Zabbek to Spired Paldraeus where goods from beyond the Southern Wastes can be found in it's bazaars. The map just drips Swords and Sorcery goodness and hopefully will be a fun adventuring area for many a brave fighter, uncanny magic-user of devoted cleric, I had to force myself to stop filling in even more stuff on that sheet of paper.
Saturday, February 21st, 2009
7:38 pm
Seminal Sci-Fi
Inspired by this post over at gronardia http://grognardia.blogspot.com/2009/02/alien-1979-as-traveller-movie.html I just have to talk about the damned fine science fiction films of my youth.

Star Wars- this one is a gimmie a great film and as a kid I was just blown away by it, science fiction films haven't' been the same since, Star Wars the franchise just hasn't been the same either. I'm sorry Mr. Lucas but the strange an mystical Jedi Knights of the first film just shouldn't' have become the league of superheroes as they did in the prequel films. There was magic in the first film, youth, energy,innovation but it still struck a timeless chord. It's a timeless fairy tale: The Jawas were bizarre gnomes, the Tusken raiders were scary trolls, Han a good spirited pirate, Chewie a kind giant, R2 & C3PO are wise fools akin to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern , Leia (no surprise) is a plucky princess, Obiwan is Merlin, Vader is Mordred and Luke is countless boys yearning for adventure who's lightsaber was Excalibur in a galaxy far far away; Corny indeed but certainly a fairytale. My wife wisely points out it's a western and I'm in agreement with, her Westerns were the fairytales of Lucas' youth. Special editions and disappointing prequels can't steal away the this joy of youth and the mark it had on film following it's first screening can't be denied.

Alien- a classical horror movie at it's core but the heroine and fellow crew are normal people fighting to survive in a cruel universe that was never really on their side. The story-line has been ripped off dozens of times since but none have really pulled it off because they haven't quite grasped that it is about normal peoples lives being ripped apart by horror. It had me shaking in the theater, even though I was surrounded by my family and a hundred other people I was still alone in the dark with the Alien.
Funny story- when I saw Alien in the theater one of my last stubborn baby teeth came out. I was chewing on some goobers and bit down hard as the alien began to rip free from his first victim, it hurt and my mouth was filled with blood as the crew of the Nostormo got a foreshadowing of their fate.

Blade Runner- An amazing movie based on a fine book. This one blew me away as much as Star wars and Alien did. It's a deep film about just what it means to be human and have a soul. Are we the people we choose to be or are we born into our role in the world? The hero is a scary sounding gritty dude, he's a "bladerunner" but he's a normal man who himself is surrounded by wonders but is a man alone in the dark who is either waiitng for what fate has always had in mind for him or is forgign a little spot for himself in a universe that just doesn't give a darn.
The urban vistas of Ridleyville was epic and is a vision of the future that hasn't been usurped since. It's look has been aped many times and has burnt itself so deeply into notions of what the future could look like it's hard to imagine a future earth that doesn't have a beautiful geisha winking at us from a coca-cola ad.

Outland- this one is a western in space and I was amazed by it as I was the others. It's not as widely recognized as the others I mention but the aging sheriff played by Sean Connery backed up by a strong but weathered woman who isn't his love interest is a mature take on a science fiction film that showed us the future didn't' have to be bright at all but the human spirit will live on. It's gritty reality and explosive decompressions can still be seen in films today.

Of the four films mentioned here one isn't grounded in science in the slightest, the second reveals man in all his glory is at the mercy of a universe that wasn't created just for him, the third shows man questioning his place in the universe through his creations and the last has man facing ageless challenges of his own mind and culture in a new environment he must deal with to survive.

Films about the future wouldn't have been the same without these films and I'm lucky I got to see them when they were new and when I was young.
Sunday, February 8th, 2009
8:42 am
[Gametalk] Same old fun.
Over the past week I've been using Swords & Wizardy: White Box rules for quickie pick-up D&D games. http://www.swordsandwizardry.com/whitebox.htm
Playing with these new streamlined rules inspired by original RPG rules has been a joy. They are a bare-bones of old-fashioned fantasy role-playing game that easily recaptures playing D&D back when it was new to me. The players need to keep track of about 30 pages of rules, that's it, not 100's of pages. I printed up the full rules and bound them for me and a players booklet on digest sized sheets and boudn them both. Of course I couldn't' stop myself and whipped up 5 pages of house-rules and campaign notes; dumped the standard fantasy Pc races for Pygmy, Amazon and Cyclops, added some options based combat rules so players tactics are required to take advantage of statistics and the numbers couldn't possibly save the day. We used so,e optional death rules I pulled off a blog (d66 death rules, I'll have to hunt down the original and link it) to make death less certain and more interesting.

Playing with my son one weeknight he went through 6 adventurers in 3 dungeon runs, 4 slain, a human cleric who lost an arm stripped of his gear and dumped still living outside the dungeon and a pygmy magic-user severely wounded and inflicted with permanent chest injuries who also develop a phobia of the dread mole men (who fled twice with the torch dooming his other party members to be butchered in the dark). My son was a bit dismayed at how lethal play was but I pointed out he made a few major blunders (like no spell casting) and a lot of the doom of his PCs was right in his own hands. I gave him "quick primer for old school gaming" (http://www.lulu.com/content/3019374) to read after that and explained to him how a lot of the RPG campaigns played out in the good old days where the numbers just weren't there to save a PC from a bad decision and victory was all about cunning and creative play.

We played again yesterday and my son was joined by one of the adults who played in our regular D&D game. At first the mature veteran wa dismayed by the brevity of the rules and the low details. Shortly into play he was really into roleplaying his newly rolled up pygmy magic-user and they bluffed and bullied their way past the molemen to discover wierdness beyond the temple of the laughing minotaur and the machines of the morlocks that dwelled beneath the tunnels of the molemen. Sleep and charm person spells saved the day for the party. We had a ton of fun and the grown-up veteran wants to play with the S&W:White Box rules again.

oh yeah- "molemen". I used The mosnters and first couple of dungeon maps from "The Dismal Depths" by David Bowman ( http://shamsgrog.blogspot.com/) .
A funky old-school dungeon with a strange mix of monsters that while identifiable still isn't all the same old stuff.

To me the Sword and Wizardy: White Box rules, a few house-rules and a little bit of dungeon not filled with the same old monsters brought back the same old fun I experienced when I first discovered D&D about 30 years ago.
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