D&D and me part 7: This Is Not OK!

Sorry that I have been so quiet lately.

At first I was kept away from by sheer laziness and then a few things in my life became less than awesome and I did/do not feel like sharing them so I just went all CyberHermit.

A few ideas have been percolating in my brain during this time, and one of them was a post on the title/word/label of Gamer, what it once meant to me and what it had come to mean recently. It has been simmering on a back burner for months.

A conversation I had today coincidentally followed by a post that several of my friends have been passing around ignited something and cut right through my malaise.

Words Needed To Be Said!

So this is going to be a bit long and probably it will wander, such is life. Shall we?

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I think I have commented before on my mixed feelings RE: the surge in popularity of things that once were obscure.

When I was a kid, even knowing what an Orc was could get you mercilessly teased, and now World of Warcraft is so mainstream it might almost as well be football… or at least rugby. I was talking to a co-worker about this, and about how much easier kids have it these days with nerdiness being kind of hip in general, and more specifically the acceptance of role playing games and the diversity of the players available. Even more specifically the fact that Girls Do Game.

When I was a kid this was an insane idea, even bringing up D&D to a girl was a guarantee of a dateless existence at best, and now I do not know anyone at all who plays in a male only gaming group.

I told my co-worker as much and she mentioned that in high school her friends would not let her role play because she was a girl. This was a concept I found crazy buckets. While I will admit to a prejudice when it comes to women in role playing games, it takes the form of assuming they will be playing an interesting character with emotional depth. (not that plenty of men don’t, but in my experience [and in my prejudice] nearly all women do) I have been proven wrong only a couple times in this, and I am generally very excited when I have a good gender mix in a game.

It was a fun conversation while the business of the day was gotten to. We both moved on to other things, many boxes were lifted, much lettuce was crisped.

Then, at lunch, I found that several of my friends had simultaneously referenced This Post.

I was horrified.

Now I was aware of some incidents of sexism, racism, and other negative behavior that had occurred at game conventions I had attended, but these were usually things a friend or a friend of a friend had witnessed… or stories of the Bad Old Days. Tales from another time or place or involving people who were relics that had somehow survived into the modern age like pleisosaur hiding in the depths, only to emerge for conventions.

I have spent a lot of time today thinking about this.

I am a White Male Player of Games, which means I live on one side of a filter that I rarely have to be aware of. In addition to this filter I swim largely in a bubble of carefully selected comrades (this metaphor is getting out of hand) so there is a lot I will never see. If I am aware of this handful of incidences, then how much is going on that I never see? Tips of icebergs and all that.

Notice I did not call myself a White Male Gamer… This relates to the post I was going to write originally and that needs to be touched on now.

The term Gamer used to have two real meanings. One was that you were a gambler, this term had no relevance to my life so I will just drop it and move on. The second meaning was that you played role playing games, board games, war games, or other tabletop games. The use of Gamer to describe people who played video games came a bit later, but there was a big overlap so using the Venn diagram of “Gamer” was still pretty useful. When a Gamer met a Gamer they had common ground. Both probably had interests the other could relate to and share as well as both being somewhat outside of what society called normal or even acceptable.

Pretty much from second or third grade on I have identified myself first and foremost as a Gamer.

In recent years a few things have happened to make me step away from that term. For one thing, it has come, in the public eye, to mean much more someone who plays video games. And while I do certainly do that, I mostly play one or two older games and generally think the industry stopped producing many worthwhile or fun games with the obsolescence of the Super Nintendo.

For the other big reason I have to bounce back to my misgivings about the increased popularity of things once obscure…

The title of Gamer has become Something Ugly.

By distancing myself from that world I could ignore the rotten elements that had been festering there… or so I thought.

Part of my conversation with my co-worker was about how inclusive the role playing, board gaming, and the like communities were. My perception was that We Were Better Than That.

And we should be.

Gamers, Fandom, Cosplayers, Anime Nerds… People who read too much, people who collect things, people who spend hours poring over obscure information for no reason other than they love it. We should be 100% inclusive and enthusiastic towards anyone who shares our loves and obsessions just our proclivity to have such loves and obsessions! This is true even if they don’t look like us, don’t talk like us, or have the same plumbing we happen to have! The world is full of hate and exclusion and horror, we should be the ones to take care of our own. No Matter Who They Are!

Our hobbies/ways of life are not damaged by the inclusion of others, they are strengthened and improved. Exclusion breeds stagnation and eventually death.

My eyes have been opened, I am going to keep them open. I challenge you all to do the same. If I see this bullshit I am going to act. If you see any of this in the way I treat others, please slap me the fuck down.

Lets play some games.

Launching the store!

So I mentioned my Sekrit Projekt a little bit ago and I finished it. And having finished it I am launching a store where I can sell it (and other things).

About a year ago I made a notepad/sketchbook because I was bored and I wanted to draw more. A year later It’s still in use and lookin pretty good!

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So I decided to make some more and offer them to the world.

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The full pitch is on the store blog, but in short these are tough little punk rock notepads you won’t be afraid to actually use!

This first product will be joined by other things I will make for sale. These things will include but WILL NOT be limited to art, toys, games, and maybe fiction or jam or something, we shall see as the future unfolds.

Well it was bound to happen sooner or later…

This morning I woke up to this…

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I had been told some snow would be likely, but so many people were saying it would be light and not settle that this was a bit of a surprise but it has been such a warm and lovely winter so I really can’t complain.

I hopped on my scooter to go to work and discovered that the snow hid a layer of hard ice from last nights rain. Rather than die mangled and bent in a ditch I opted to call in. I spent all day cleaning and fiddling with my solar panels (which were not really getting a lot of power covered in ice and snow).

Once the sun had made the roads less lethal, I headed off to the hacker space where I plan to hang out so I don’t have to try to drive through this muck at 5AM, which is what I would have to do to make it to work by 7 carefully creeping through the dark at 10mph…

So far I have worked on my Sekrit Projekt and made these.

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I had a pair of broken goggles and some perforated metal from inside an old Mac monitor and they seemed to call out for one another.

For the record… Riding Rocinante through freezing snow DOES take a little of the joy out of the ride… But it did not kill me!

Yay manic swing!

So I ended up napping on one of the sofas at the hacker space last night for an hour or two before I had to get to work. I was working on four projects simultaneously and the creative energy just carried me right past the point where it made any sense at all to go home and sleep.

My kitties are going to be very unhappy with me.

I’m now about halfway through my work day and still buzzing with energy. I am sure I will feel the crash soon, but I am bolstering the sheer joy of creation with the sheer joy of a very large coffee so I should survive.

The trick is going to keep my momentum going. To keep the energy flowing in interesting, creative, and joyful directions. I have fancy plans that should help and I am fostering an attitude of looking ahead past the road blocks, especially the ones that I have already stumbled on. There is good stuff coming and good stuff that happened, the things that aren’t good stuff are not worth more than a wary glare right now.

Also Windows 8 is a work of pure evil!

 

Sekrit Projekt One, Part One.

So working on one of my Sekrit Projekts I found I needed an awl. Sadly all of mine are missing and my sewing awl is in one of about one hundred thousand boxes full of unorganized miscellany… so I grabbed a nail, a bit of wood, and headed on over to the lathe.

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A little shaping, a little sanding, and a little bashing with a hammer and I have an awl.

I am mighty.

Escape From Bleak (life after NaNoWriMo)

So As Promised I have decided to revisit one of my NaNoWriMo drafts for re-writing, editing, and maybe beyond.

I chose my most recent one because some of the things left out of this draft are still lingering in my brain, and because I really like the beginning and want the rest of it to at least match it.

This is entering into unknown waters for me, which is a good thing, so I thought what the heck, let’s all go along for the ride and see what happens?

Here is the first draft more or less how it looked at the end of November, but reformatted to be readable… and have chapters… Be warned it’s raw and hurried first draft stuff… not for the faint of heart.

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As I wander blindly down this dark alley I’ll post about the process and toss up more drafts in case anyone is interested.

So now step 1: I will read the damn thing. Wish me luck.

Arbitrary Year Beginnings!

So last year I set a few goals. Then I said hello to a truck. This set me back a bit, and giving in to a rather deep rut of depression set me further back for a long long time.

I was thinking about revisiting those goals and making a new set, then a deer made me reconsider. I am going to take the near (but avoided) disaster as an omen and keep my goals and thoughts on this completely arbitrary milestone to myself for now.

I can say that I am in a very good place emotionally, and a pretty good place physically, and I am looking forward to good and exciting things.

Be excellent to each other!

Well that could have gone worse!

This morning on the way to work a deer and I met quite suddenly.

I veered and put on the brakes and the deer veered as well… Directly in front of me. I counter-veered and managed to clip the deer with my turn signal and punch her quite squarely in the side of the head. Her expression seemed to say “what the fuck dude!” Which is pretty much what I said before she bounded off into the woods.

i feel bad about the whole exchange… But I am sure she deserved it for something.

So one bit of bent metal that was easy to straighten and a wrist that doesn’t seem broken (though I’m keeping my eye on it, this is the wrist that seems to attract pavement and stairs and things).

All in all could have been a worse morning.

 

 

Songs about how songs used to be better

So they just don’t write em like that any more? You like that old time rock and roll? You are singing about how music used to be better than it is now?

So you are telling me that your job, what it is you do and get paid for, isn’t being done as well as it used to… And you are the one doing it. You are┬áby your own admission, doing a poor job of the thing you are supposed to be good at. You are telling me that you should be fired from your job because you are not very good at it. And for that you expect to be paid.

You might as well be singing about how totally rad high school was, or your football glory, or how sad it was when you were an asshole to some girl like… 35 years ago.

I hate you and want you to explode.

Solar Nerdiness

So as mentioned I have been pretty nerdy about this whole solar thing. I am logging as I go as well as jotting down useful things as I learn them. Actually getting up and running was really easy, fine tuning is a bit trickier, and actually understanding what is going on is downright fiddly.

My initial solar panel is a Coleman 18watt (1.2 amps at 15 volts). A basic little thing with very plug and play wiring. I am using the 7amp charge controller that came with it. The charge controller can theoretically handle another four of these panels before I would outgrow it but I have no idea if it is actually that robust. It does seem to be doing its job though so I’ll keep using it until I find out otherwise… or it explodes for some reason.

The charge controller has a 13 volt cut-in. If I understand correctly this means that no charging takes place unless there is at least 13 volts coming from the panel. My guess is that this is because trying to charge a 12 volt battery with 9 volts would be useless if not actually detrimental… but I have no facts to back up that thought as of yet. It also has a cut-out of 14.25 volts… If this means it refuses to charge if the panel is operating at its theoretical maximum then this could be a little troubling come summer… But I am sure there are very good reasons for it.

The Panel and controller are feeding in to a 12 volt deep cycle marine battery from Rural King… I don’t really know anything useful about the battery but assume its about 45 amp hours… it was cheap. I keep forgetting to actually write down the model number and research it.

Coming out of that is a Microsolar 300 watt pure sine wave inverter. I understand that inverters eat a lot of power converting 12 volt to 110 volts, but I haven’t really dug deep enough for an easy way to run my modem and router directly off of 12 volts yet. I can get a 12 volt power supply for my current laptop, but I am running it mostly off of its battery at this point to try to get as much online time as possible. Plus I’ll want to eventually run some lighting as well so the inverter stays.

In theory it should give a warning alarm when voltage starts to get low, then another alarm as it shuts off. In practice it skips the first alarm entirely and just goes right to the shutdown and at some rather wildly different voltage levels that seem really high (over 11 volts). For now I am chalking it up to just being a pretty cheap unit, but I’m keeping my eye on it and almost certainly it is just a starting point until I can afford something serious.

My main measurement device at the moment is a little volt meter I got from radio shack sometime in the last decade. I really need to add a Kill-A-Watt or similar device and maybe start recording temperatures as well.

That’s enough nerdsplosion for now. If you are one of the four people who are actually curious about this then there will be more to come. And if you are one of the two people who Know Relevant Things, please feel free to comment here or in FriendBookFaceSpace and tell me everything I am blatantly overlooking.