After watching Guardians of the Galaxy a few times in the theater, I’ve felt more inclined to try and dust off my idea for a space cowboy Apocalypse World hack. I’ve yet to successfully complete an Apocalypse World hack of any sort, so this might be a dubious effort. But I figure I can at least poke at it for a bit.
I recently ordered the new Starter Set for D&D 5th Edition. In part to get a cheap look at what the new version was like. In part to check it out before I tried buying one for my niece. It’s a pretty big box, and looks like it’s filled to the brim:
After a cursory glance at the stuff on top, I dug out everything to see what all they included. And I ran into this:
It appears that the majority of the box is really just that filler box. The actual contents are just two booklets (the basic rules and an adventure, which has some GMing tips), a set of polyhedral dice (though only one d10, even though it notes you’ll need to do percentile rolls in the book) and a few pre-gen characters.
I’ll probably still buy it for my niece. It looks like it’s an approachable intro. I’m just underwhelmed by the presentation.
I recently completed the four days of training in King County’s “Leadership Academy“, which was offered through the new Training and Development Institute. It’s free for County employees to attend, and open to “community partners.” So in addition to other County employees, I met people who work with local non-profits and other local government.
I recently had a second free interaction with the Centerpoint Institute. The founder had a couple trainees learning how to be career coaches and needed a Guinea pig for them to practice their skills. Since “free” is a great price, I offered to go in. I figured it would allow me to get a better taste for what they had to offer.
This post has ended up being longer than intended. There’s a lot of frustration. You’ve been warned.
I haven’t written much recently about my progress for a couple reasons. Part of it is that I’ve been pretty busy during Camp NaNoWriMo, working on a novel that I under outlined and had to improvise frantically with. So that was fun. I hit 50,001 words and stopped. I need to send it to my wife to see how awful she thinks it is. It’s gone into a lot of places I hadn’t intended or anticipated, and I don’t know how I feel about that.
Before I get into my recent visit to the Centerpoint Institute, I thought I’d share a couple other related bits of news that don’t fit in elsewhere.
First off, the HR person from the Career Support group sent me some pages from a book called Do What You Are, specifically listing out likely career possibilities that fit with my Myers-Briggs personality type (INFJ). Some of what it says in abstract seems like it matches my personality. But the specific jobs seem less like a good match. I half wonder if they mean the same thing I do when I think “introvert.”
A lot of the things listed are very social: career counselor, teacher, social worker, “director, social service agency,” crisis hotline operator, “diversity manager-human resources.” A lot of these leave me with a feeling of cold dread in my stomach. “I have to talk to how many people?!”
There’s also a part of me that wonders if my general stress level is exacerbating my social anxiety, making it harder for me to think about jobs that require a lot of human interaction.
Second, in the interest of trying to offset some of my expenses (especially related to Mad Scientist Journal), I’ve started a Patreon page. So you can show your love with moneys: http://www.patreon.com/bolthy
So anyway, let’s talk about my visit to Centerpoint.
I’ve written and deleted a few different posts that border on this over the last several months. Generally they revolved around some frustration with something I had done or was doing (going to conventions, writing, whatever) that I wasn’t happy with. I ended up scrapping them because ultimately the disatisfaction I experienced arose from my own internal issues.
I didn’t want to muddy other things just because I have issues, and I couldn’t give an honest assessment without reflecting those. So I generally gave up. Because I hate the idea of filling my blog with my own existential whining. And I have a lot of things I don’t talk about.
I’ve lately felt motivated to do something about this and begun taking small steps. Since I know I’m hardly alone in this, I figured I’d share my experiences. I don’t know where I’m going with this. But hopefully my broken and scorched trail will help someone else.
Some time back I tried to submit a story for a flash fiction contest. It was judged by Neil Gaiman. The theme was something like, “The future of classic sci fi.” So I jotted out this little piece at the last minute, sort of an homage to my love of the John Carter of Mars books by Edgar Rice Burroughs. What would Mars be like after several years of cultural exchange with our Earth? Little did I realize that the due time was British Summer Time, and not Eastern Standard Time. So, I missed the deadline by several hours. Here’s the story I wrote. I have an amusing anecdote after it.
Otan-Dur clambered up into the cockpit of the airship, chuckling at the naivety of the owners. Some folks still lived in the past, believing that theft had been permanently extinguished from Barsoom. And that attitude made Otan-Dur’s life so much easier.
Most people blamed the Jasoomians, or Earthlings as they called themselves. Barsoom had provided them with the technology to create airships kept aloft by the Eighth Ray, oxygen creation with the Ninth Ray, even interplanetary travel with the Tenth. Jasoom in turn provided them with the allure of criminal culture. Gangsters with Tommy guns defying the authorities. Thousands of years without theft, eliminated in a few months by a few ruthless entrepreneurs from Jasoom.
He had just finished hot-wiring the airship when he felt cold hard metal pressed against his back.
“Thank you for doing all the hard work for me,” a sultry woman’s voice said behind him. “How about you hop out real slow and leave the rest to me?”
Otan-Dur stepped down from the cockpit slowly. He didn’t want to give this woman any excuse to shoot him. As he descended, he brushed hard against the knob of the levitation tanks.
From the ground he saw a beautiful woman, dark haired and copper skinned, seated in the cockpit, radium pistol aimed at him. Like him, she was dressed in a jeweled leather harness and furs. She gave a wink and pushed the throttle forward. The silent propeller sprung into life and launched her forward.
Behind her trailed a miasma of light, a color not normally seen in nature. She probably wouldn’t run out of Eighth Ray within walking distance, but he took a grim satisfaction in tainting her victory.
He continued down the street, wondering if any new gangster films were playing at the cinema.
I did try shopping it around unsuccessfully. One place gave me extensive feedback on the piece from multiple reviewers, which was nice. But many didn’t realize that this was set in a world created by someone else. Which was extra surreal since they made a movie the same year. This was the best:
“I wasn’t sure why Jasoomians (Earthlings) were even brought up. Were the thieves Jasoom or Barsoom? It is said the Jasoomians were to blame, but wasn’t made clear as to who this man and woman are. The[n] we have the “Ray” idea. I love this concept that various “rays” provide things like power and oxygen — that has a nice magical-yet-scientific feel to it. But without more words to explain it, this felt like an intro chapter to a much longer work set in this new realm.”
It had not occurred to me before that anyone I submitted it to would be unaware of the source material. I didn’t want to risk someone thinking I created this, so I decided to just stop shopping it. I hope you enjoyed it.
So, I got involved in one of those secret penpal things on Tumblr. A couple of them actually. One in particular was through a Welcome to Night Vale blog which paired up users with secret penpals. We were to write to them throughout February and reveal our secret identities on the 28th. It wasn’t an ideal thing, since my penpal never contacted me, the organizer got huffy when I had asked indirectly about it (because there had been previously posted instructions), and the person I was the secret penpal for never acknowledged receipt of anything I sent her.
But I had a stupid amount of fun writing these. So after the first couple days I started sending them to Dawn as well. And then I thought, “I should just post these all on my blog!”
I hope you enjoy one of my brief forays into, “This is sorta like fanfic, isn’t it?” Besides Night Vale, the only things I knew my secret penpal was into were Avengers and Supernatural. So if you’re wondering why there are superheroes and an Impala in Night Vale, that’s why.