That Dice-Rolling Hobby

Jul. 24th, 2017 10:09 pm
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Apart from dealing with multiple medical issues that I've raised in previous posts, I have had the opportunity to engage in my favourite hobby othe weekend - traditional roleplaying games. On Friday evening I participated in what I call Eclipse Phase Mars, on the basis of its standard location (although most recently this has involved extrasolar gatecrashing etc). This particular group meets primarily on Google Hangouts with players in Western Australia, Vietnam, Victoria, and New Zealand. I've missed a couple of sessions of this game, partially due to technology issues (my computer screen was completey destroyed on my last trip to NZ, so I've been trying to work with a dinky Asus Aspire One), and partially because of international trips. Both of these have affected my ability to complete Papers & Paychecks; although I did release an update on Saturday morning following completing the bestiary section, and integration a number of significant changes, even this late in the publication process.

Saturday was also a regular CheeseQuest day with [livejournal.com profile] hathhalla and [livejournal.com profile] ser_pounce. Given the cool weather, our lunch feast consisted of a pumpkin gnocchi and Nova Scotia brown bread. The cheese feast included fried saganaki and halloumi, havarti, maasdam, gorgonzola, Dutch smoked, and two not-cheeses, a faux cheddar and "tree nut" cheese, which are quite tolerable. I was rather taken by the Devil's Corner pinot noir that our guests brought over, light but tasty and with a brilliant ruby colour. After lunch was the second session of our historical-fantasy Dungeons & Dragons game, using the very different 4th edition rules in the setting of Charlemagne's rule. The game went very well, everyone plays up their character ethno-religious background and character class, as they cleared out a old Roman-Germanic temple in Freisland haunted by Wiedergänger.

Sunday was also a gaming day, this time with my own game of Eclipse Phase. This session involved the PCs engaging in a short-case to an autonomist morph resleever on one of Neptune Trojans, then taking a stealth craft to intercept an Ultimate scout ship en-route to Eris. There was an almighty gun-battle that followed which eventually saw the PCs successful, and partially courtesy due an inside agent providing assistance at the last moment. After that was the challenging process of psychosurgery and the literal merging of minds. More on that for the next session. Appropriately I've started reading the two books entitled Dungeons & Dragons and Philosophy (one published by Open Court, 2012 and the other by Wiley Blackwell, 2014)

A Star Has Fallen

Jul. 22nd, 2017 11:52 pm
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"Fiery the angels fell; deep thunder rolled around their shores; burning with the fires of Orc"

Yesterday I was informed that an old friend and former housemate in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Erica W., had died of a stroke. For those that knew her, this has been a terrible shock. She was relatively young, and seemed so alive, and seemed to have so much to contribute to this world. It is a harsh reminder that friends can be lost at any time with the randomness of life.

When I first met her she and her partner at the time, James, were in their mid-teens. Intelligent, attractive, highly alternative, and very fashionable, they were already living together and regularly visiting local nightclubs, where they were very well-regarded for the characteristics mentioned. There was an especially amusing moment when a local newspaper printed her in a vox-pop what her preferred nightclub was - and mentioned her age in the credit.

"Morphology, longevity, incept dates"

Whilst in Perth we shared two households at different times - the first was the famous "accelerated house", a dilapidated duplex pair with questionable plumbing. Part of the duplex was the home of the Accelerated Men, a goth band of some repute. The place was wired up a local area network with a AlphaMicro AM-100, and came with its own stray cat (Velocity) which I adopted. Several years later, at the final place where I lived in Perth, we were in more normal accommodation. I could help but chuckle a little at my highly fashion-conscious housemates who could spend hours in preparation on going out. I also remember showing them the Internet at the time; a text-based interface to usenet groups. "This", I implored sagaciously, "is going to change everything". I don't think they quite believed me at the time, so it was with great fondness catching up with James just a couple of years ago, and recalling that moment, he said: "And you were right!".

At the time Erica was suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome, and despite being a witty conversationalist, was physically in the doldrums. A few years later however, and I suspect heavily because of the direction provided by our mutual friend Bruce T., there had been a complete change, as she had become quite a figure in the fashion industry and was running her own label and store, Alysian Empire. I still have some of their clothes to this day. Later she would go on to have another fashion label of even greater renown, ericaamerica.

In the post-Alysian Empire period we only caught up in person a couple of times, and more recently exchanged a few messages, courtesy of the 'borg of social media. Despite this we had the sort of friendship where years could literally go by and when we did get in contact our banter could continue as if no time had passed at all. It was a friendship built on mutual understanding and respect, of affirmation of each other, of strong and happy shared memories. The mention of her name in conversation would always brighten my day and bring me joy; but not this time.

"Tyrell had told me Rachael was special: no termination date. I didn't know how long we had together. Who does?"

Medical Matters

Jul. 18th, 2017 09:38 pm
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It's been a curious past few days; I spent most of Saturday working on the course for the researchers at Orygen Youth Mental Health which I presented on Monday. It went extremely well; I provided an overview of high performance compute clusters, environment modules and job submission using their preferred applications (MRtrix, Matlab, Octave, R, and especially FSL and Freesurfer. They were a large and very switched on group, and it brought me great pleasure when I received some rather positive responses in person and in email.

On Sunday visited the Unitarians to hear a presentation by the president of Dying With Dignity to speak on the upcoming legistlation such matters. Last year to the state government committee I contributed two submissions from different organisations on the matter, and legislation is expected soon. In a less positive manner, an old friend of mine has just found his way into hospital and I suspect he's in the position that he might not be getting better. Three years ago he appointed me enduring power of medical attorney. To top it all off, [livejournal.com profile] caseopaya's mother has found herself in hospital as a complication arising from her continuing illness.

It surprises me that there are those who begrudge public revenue raising and expenditure on health, as if the wealthy have more of a right to live than the poor. Even using the criteria of the 'dismal science', economics, it is obvious that having people alive and well is not just a private benefit to the person in question, it is also a public benefit. The is equivalent matter here with education as well, and likewise the private-public benefit is a continuum which includes current and future productivity of the person in question. All of this, of course, on top of matter of being in a society that cares for its less fortunate.

Life without Dead Time

Jul. 14th, 2017 11:09 pm
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The Situationists famously sought life without dead time and whilst I cannot say my own life fits the wild and tangential excesses of such bohemians, at least not in these elder decades, the past several days have certainly had their share of activity. Nevertheless I do worry sometimes that so much of my work these days - indeed these years - now falls under the category of 'boring but important'. Yet, much of this fits my intellectual disposition. I despair when I see people try to force the complex problems of reality into simply solutions, because these are invariably simply wrong, missing the issues of scope-appropriate solutions, partiality etc. It is not helped when the country's Prime Minister, of all people, remarked "The laws of mathematics are very commendable but the only laws that apply in Australia is the law of Australia", in the context of a debate on encryption.

Workwise the week started with the regular two days of Introduction to Linux and High Performance Computing and Shell Scripting for High Performance Computing. Not a bad group at all, and there were some plenty of awake individuals, especially on the second day. Later in the week spent a better part of a day carefully working through a particularly troubling install of Gaussian to ensure there had been no precision errors in compilation (their hadn't been, of course). Confirmation was received for a presentation at the HPC Advisory Conference, so there will be another visit to Perth at the end of the month. In addition an abstract has been put in for the Open Stack Summit in Sydney for November. Next week will be a training course for the neurologists at Orygen; I hold this one in very high regard - their work is extremely important.

In more social events, Wednesday night was our regular gaming session, and the second session of Andrew D's Megatraveller campaign, with an unexpected test of the combat system and the acquisition of a starship from religious fanatics. Thursday was the Bastille night evening and we had nephew Luke visiting. True to the day (or at least an educated peasant's version thereof), I cooked a pretty tasty coq au vin with a jug of French red, a selection of cheeses and fruit, and all to the sounds of Quatre mains pour une révolution. We provided a potted story of our journey, along with an exposition of the salacious tales of Serge Gainsbourg. Appropriately I have composed tonight my thoughts about Bastille day, and its contemporary relevance.

(no subject)

Jul. 12th, 2017 09:17 pm
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I've been going through my floppy comics today, partly from a desire to try again at putting them into order, partly to single out some issues to read and partly to set aside short runs to practice binding.

Custom binding, in this case sewing or gluing together several single issues to make your own collected edition, is something I've been interested in for some time. Budgeting such a project was one of my bingo card squares a few months ago, even. While there are a few titles that I'm looking to bind specifically into large hardcovers, I'd like to try my hand at a few smaller books first to get the hang of things. I had a few miniseries in mind when I went digging around and I've got them beside me now. Two are four-issue runs and one is a six-issue run. I'm intending to start with one of the former, as it looks like it'll be the easiest to get set up. The other two I think I may do some playing around with, if I do even decide to bind them after all.

The main drawback of a custom bind versus a commercially-released collection, at least for my money, is the presence of ads. In some books-- such as Power Girl, the mini I want to start with-- all the ads can be removed. There are a total of four two-sided ads in each issue and they're all connected to another ad rather than a page with story content. To do a bind without them, I just have to slide them out after I remove the stables from the issues to sew them together. Then there are books like the other two minis I'm looking to work on, which have no or almost no ads that can be removed even if I decide to perfect bind (that is, cut everything into individual pages and glue them at the spine rather than sewing) because most of them are single-side. Even that wouldn't be so bad if in some cases there weren't ads, occasionally mood whiplash ads, literally every other page. On the bright side, the two instances of four-page ads-- count 'em, four straight pages of ad-- are in the very middle of their respective issues and will be easy to remove. Still, though, yikes.

Probably I won't get started right away; there are still a few decisions to make about and things to get set up for later parts of the process. But since binding these minis aren't going to be super intensive projects, I think I'll probably be starting soon. Look forward to me possibly crying about mutilating my books and trying to figure out title pages and covers XD

Other fun things that came up as I was sorting my stuff:

* I have so many more DC than Marvel books. Like i knew it was unbalanced but not that much.
* Similarly, I have both a heck of a lot less non-Big Two stuff in general and a heck of a lot more IDW stuff specifically than I thought.
* One series I thought I had a full run of? Yeah, I don't. See below edit!
* Another series I know I have a full run of? Yeah, I don't know where it is. See below edit!
* There was so much misordering of my Justice League books due largely to the title changes I complained about before, omg.


ETA: So, not actually very long after making this post, I had a thought and went back to my boxes. This time, I checked a box that I'd left alone because I could've sworn that it was full of just two runs of comics. In short, I was wrong! Quite wrong. Not only did I find the missing full run mentioned in the fourth point, I found two full runs of the series mentioned in the third point. I'm not sure how or why I ended up with so many excess issues of that one, but whatever!

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