and it’s you

The passage of time is a funny thing – the only thing constant about the perception of its rate of passage seems to be that it is wildly variable.

It was five years ago today that I had what I still see as one of the very best days of my life – my wedding. Conversely it’s been 1 year 8 months and 361 days since two of my worst – our separation and then divorce.

It’s been … a year. It’s been up and down, good and bad – as most years are. I’d say that this last year started off pretty dark / mostly down, but has been been increasingly, if slowly, getting better. I’m in a better place, and perhaps just as importantly, so is Bea. In fact, I think that a lot of it has to do with that. Divorces – even the most amicable ones – are never easy. We worked hard to keep the process amicable – I know I did, and am 99% sure I speak for her on this – on retaining a long term relationship. Were she not in Dallas for a rollerderby tourney, we’d have gotten lunch today.

And now that I think about it, Halloween night was a sort of high point. I was honored to not only perform, but to host a very small wedding for two very good friends of mine, and Bea was indeed a guest. She hadn’t really been in the house since she’d moved out, and I was a little worried about how that might go. As far as I could tell, my fears were unfounded. Everything was pretty much the same (I liked the choices she/I/we made), and her response to the one big change I was implementing was something along the lines of “Oh my god, this makes so much more sense, why didn’t we do this years ago?” We got to hang out before and after the ceremony, it was really nice.

Still, as good/better as things are, it has been hard. I was asked early on if I missed her (the person) or her (the relationship) more. All I could ever answer was “Yes”, and that answer still stands. It’s not just that I’ve missed her, but also what we had. Bea was an integral part of a very good part of my life, and that will never change. In fact, as I’ve reflected on it today, I find myself remembering less and less of the bad, and while there is still that tint of that on things, I find that part fading. It’s nice.

Have I been dating? Yes. And it’s been a strange process to do that again, but I feel better about myself because of it, I think. It’s been good for me, and it’s provided me an avenue to better myself. Yes, I’ve made mistakes and stumbled here and there, but I’ve also made improvements and made some good decisions.

Am I ready for another relationship? I don’t really know. I know that I honestly haven’t felt that I have, but that’s something that I look at and re-evaluate relatively often. Chances are I’ll be ready before I realize it, and will be pleasantly surprised. This sort of healing takes time, and I feel I’ve owed it to myself to heed my friend Dave’s advice of “Walk, don’t run.”  It’s served me well.

At the end of the day, I feel lucky. And oddly enough perhaps, I ran across this today:

Manatee

It’s something that I’d be hesitant to just put out there, without some sort of lengthy “this isn’t meant to be overly dramatic, so please don’t read this as snarky or mean or intended for any one person, it’s just good advice” disclaimer. To be fair, it’s not really aimed at anyone in particular – it just seems fitting.

At the end of the day, despite all that has happened, I feel lucky to still have Bea and her folks (the “outlaws”) in my life, and am glad that she’s still a part of mine and my folks’ lives.

Spineless Bastard

So Blacktooth, my little 2’10″/32lb 10th level Murder Goblin™ in my main D&D (ok, ok, fine, Pathfinder. Whatever.) game isn’t super combat-oriented. He’s the thief, so his base Stealth is a 32 and his base Disable Device is a 25 (extra mod?). Yeah.

But, he does have a pretty good initiative bonus (+12) and a bunch of daggers. With Sneak Attack, those paltry 1d3 + 2 daggers do an additional +5d6 and +5 bleed, and if it’s the surprise round / before the target has acted, I do an extra +10 in damage. With that, I may actually be able to contribute to a fight, besides hiding behind something/someone, or getting smashed into a fine jam (Blacktooth’s last recently changed to Shatteredshanks after a run-in with a stone giant).

So, I came up with a custom feat to help my little guy (image/card here):

Spineless Bastard (Combat)

You’re not so much a backstabber as you are a backslasher, jumping to the enemy’s shoulders and sliding down along their spine on daggers.
Prerequisites: Trained in Acrobatics, target must be at least 1 size larger than you.
Benefit: Make an acrobatics check to (DC10 + 5/size diff) make a free jump to the top of the creature’s back, a failure ends your round. You’re allowed to make a full-round attack of two attack rolls (one for each dagger), but can hit at most once. Digging into its back, you slide down along the enemy’s spine.
Critical Hit: Creature is paralyzed.

I didn’t want to make it unfairly overpowered (getting a move and a full-round attack), so as an offering up to the Rules Gods™ (Paul and Chris, the DMs), I sacrificed one of my attacks. I still get two chances to hit, but only one can hit. Paul came up with the Critical Hit mechanic, which is pretty neat. Also, the feat itself seems pretty vicious, in keeping with Goblin nature.

I first tried it two sessions ago, and failed. *sad trombone* But, I managed to successfully do it twice last night, and it felt pretty good. Actually, I may change the acrobatics DC to DC20 + 5/size diff, as Blacktooth’s Acrobatics base (when jumping) is a 24. I guess that should vary on the level. We’ll see.

My extended plan is that when we make it to a bigger town, get two special daggers made. Have successfully attacked two hill giants with this attack, and as a group killed them, I plan on removing their partially exposed spines. After cleaning them, I plan on keeping a section of each, and having them magically fused and shrunk to be made into the hilts of my new daggers. These daggers will start out as +1, as that’s the cost to make a keen blade. It’ll cost 2,000 gold for each dagger, but it’ll expand my crit range on them from 19-20 to 17-20 – a 20% chance of critting, multiplying the damage by 2. And since a crit with Spineless Bastard results in paralysis, it’s worth the cost. Plus, they’ll be metal as fuck, my sweet new sleepytime daggers.

Super Sam

I went to the Marvel Universe Live! show with my sister and my 2 1/2 y/o nephew. In short, it was great. The Arena is a very kid-friendly venue, and we had pretty good seats.

It was also a pretty good test for Sam and crowds, as he’s much more mobile these days. He did fantastically, and for about two hours, he stared wide-eyed at what was happening before him.

If you can go, you should, especially if you have chirren. It was a great production. Also? Sam LOVES popcorn.

Some quick photos:

Excuse me. I’d like to ass you a few questions.

So, I was basically challenged to fill out the Proust Questionnaire (with a bonus question I added). Below are my answers, erring on the side of brevity:

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST FEAR?
Spiders. My actual greatest fear is that one day there will be another disaster from which we can’t recover.

WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT STATE OF MIND?
Antsy. I currently have a lot on my plate, and can’t wait for it be a bit more clear.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE OCCUPATION?(WAY OF SPENDING TIME)
Currently, it’s sitting at a table with friends and beers, and pencil/paper/dice gaming. Engages/distracts my math/logic brain, and wakes up my less active art brain.

WHAT HISTORICAL FIGURE DO YOU MOST IDENTIFY WITH?
Not any one specifically. It would generally have to be a leader’s Chief of Staff or a similar position – the person who isn’t in the spotlight, but helps keep everything running behind the curtains.

WHICH LIVING PERSON DO YOU MOST ADMIRE?
Perhaps Stephen Hawking? I think most people would have given up long ago, but he just keeps mathing on.

WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE FICTIONAL HERO?
I don’t have a single one, but I’d perhaps have to say that the Bagginses are really up there.

WHO ARE YOUR REAL-LIFE HEROES?
I’m not sure I have one, really. This might be my one cop-out answer.

WHAT IS YOUR MOST TREASURED POSSESSION?
My house, I guess. Technically, the bank still owns most of it, but whatever.

WHEN AND WHERE WERE YOU HAPPIEST?
My wedding, perhaps? That was an exceptional day.

WHAT IS YOUR MOST OBVIOUS CHARACTERISTIC?
I’m pretty clever? At least I think I am.

WHAT IS THE TRAIT YOU MOST DEPLORE (HATE) IN YOURSELF?
I have this need to know things – sometimes I can’t leave well enough alone.

WHAT IS THE TRAIT YOU MOST DEPLORE IN OTHERS?
The need to put themselves above others. It’s natural, and just about everyone and everything is guilty of it, myself included.

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST EXTRAVAGANCE?
My house, and the work/improvements that I put into it.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE JOURNEY?
The 4 1/2 minute bike ride from my doorstep to my “coffeeshop” ( a bar on Decatur St. )

WHAT DO YOU MOST DISLIKE ABOUT YOUR APPEARANCE?
My hair is starting to thin. Boo.

WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER THE MOST OVER-RATED VIRTUE?
This is a bit broad, so I’ll go with one of the 7 classical virtues: Chastity. I get the pure of body/mind thing, but ex isn’t a bad thing, and I think a lot of people are hung up on it / place too much importance on it.

ON WHAT OCCASION DO YOU LIE?
Usually to keep a friend from knowing about an upcoming surprise. It takes too much energy to keep a false story “correct” and in play.

WHICH WORDS OR PHRASES DO YOU MOST OVER-USE?
“(oh) for fuck’s sake”
“One would think…”

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT YOURSELF, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
I assume this is a mental thing, so I’d say the fact that I tend not so much hold grudges, as create blood feuds. If physical, I’d love to not have my hair be thinning.

WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT?
Making the lives of those I care about better.

WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO LIVE?
Exactly where I am, and/or in the woods.

WHAT IS THE QUALITY YOU MOST ADMIRE IN A MAN?
It’s a bit traditional gender-role-y, but the strength/resolve to stand up for / protect / call people out on their bullshit / whatever to those that need it. To not just walk by because it’s someone else’s problem.

WHAT IS THE QUALITY YOU MOST ADMIRE IN A WOMAN?
Oooh, this one is difficult too. It would have to be strength too, or perhaps grace. Women are often still dealt a shitty hand these days, and I see so many that handle it with grace, composure, and strength.

WHAT IS IT YOU MOST DISLIKE?
Mono-culture, and/or those who cannot or are unwilling to adapt/change.

WHAT DO YOU VALUE MOST IN YOUR FRIENDS?
Honesty, communication, and promptness.

HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO DIE?
Painlessly, ideally. If it has to hurt, might as well be doing something worthwhile. And while death isn’t something I look forward too, Earth-bound immortality doesn’t sound great either.

IF YOU WERE TO DIE AND COME BACK AS A PERSON OR AN ANIMAL, WHAT DO YOU THINK IT WOULD BE?
A dog, to a caring and good owner/family.

IF YOU COULD CHOOSE AN OBJECT TO COME BACK AS, WHAT WOULD YOU CHOOSE?
Something useful, with a long working life. A tool, or perhaps a KitchenAid Stand Mixer. Those things last forever, and who doesn’t love the thing that make cookies and cake?

WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO (WORDS YOU LIVE BY OR THAT MEAN A LOT TO YOU)?
“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”
– Marcus Aurelius

“Hodor.”
– Hodor

WHO HAS BEEN THE GREATEST INFLUENCE ON YOU?
I think “parents” is the obvious answer. Them, and/or my ex-wife.

WHAT IS BEST IN LIFE?
To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women.

Beware the Tides of the War Cow

So, Down‘s Beneath the Tides came up on shuffle this morning and it sent me down a whirlpool of nostalgia. The song/album isn’t that old – it was released in 2007 – but it’s a misheard lyric that did me in.

Real lyric:

Beneath the tides of the washout

Misheard lyric:

Beware the tides of the War Cow

Now, most anybody unfortunate to still be reading will think “Huh? What the shit is a War Cow?

Well, let me put down my cane, children, and tell you a tale. The year was 1999, or perhaps it was 2000. Either way, I was living in the former LSU Medical Center Kidney Dialysis building with a handful of friends and co-workers. Yes, there was still a dialysis machine there when we moved in. No nobody got drunk and did things with it. I don’t think.

Yes, you read that right. 2000 Tulane, across the street more or less from Rosenberg’s (and if you grew up in NOLA, their jingle is now stuck in your head. I’m not sorry).

2000 TulaneI was working for Tech Company Who Shall Not Be Named™ and the pay wasn’t great, but the room/board was free and I did teach myself a lot. Also? I played a shit ton of Unreal Tournament with the fellas. We had a coffeeshop on the first floor, Taco Bell down the street, and much of an empty floor that we could take over and do proper LAN Parties.

 

Nali War CowWhich brings us back to origin of this post. The War Cow. The Nali War Cow was a playable race in Unreal Tournament. It was far from my favorite to play, as it was better suited for melee combat, where I preferred to snipe. I did love playing against them though, as they made a decent target and I think they might’ve made a sort of mooing sound when you killed one. We would stay up ’till dawn, downing Mountain Dew and cappuccinos, eating crappy burritos, fragging, cursing, and listening to thrash metal.

It was wonderful. I still play some non co-op FPS with friends over XBox Live, but there really is something about trying to kill someone in-game, and physically pushing them IRL, hoping it messes them up so you can get an advantage and get the shot. That physical proximity is something I really enjoy about our ongoing D&D campaigns.

Also, enjoy one of the more played albums during those sessions – the first album by The Haunted:

The CARDIS Has Landed!

Not all that long after getting the new car, in a color close enough to “TARDIS Blue”, I decided to go all in and get a custom plate:

CARDIS
Full size/etc here: https://flic.kr/p/nYZR5m

The things I do for a cheap laugh.

Scorched Earth

I had a nightmare last night. Well, not so much a nightmare as a bad dream. It wasn’t scary or anything, it just wasn’t … fun. Or good.

I was at my folks house, helping out with some thing that needed to stay submerged in the pool. It obviously wasn’t an injured animal or anything, just something that needed to stay submerged, and would surface if left unattended for more than a minute or so. My sister and I were taking turns underwater for x-minutes of time, each with our own set of scuba gear (it had to be closer to the bottom, so snorkels were out), and it just so happened that we’d surfaced at the same time – I think we needed to communicate something a little more intricate than standard underwater signals would convey.

We surfaced, removing regulators and masks, and happened to catch her husband and son just as they were going inside, closing the door behind them. Whatever it was, it involved them. So, she took off her gear and joined them inside.

As she closed the door, I could sense fire, in the distance. The scent/taste of far off smoke, then I saw the fire and felt the heat approaching. And it was approaching fast.

By the time I had reached the edge of the pool, it had seemingly covered far too much ground – where it might have been a few blocks away a moment ago, it was now at the front of the house.

All I could do was to yell at them – my sister and her husband and son, my parents, and my grandmother – to get out. Two words, that’s all I had. This wall of fire in that short space of time had advanced all the way to the back of the house.

There was no chance to save them. All I could do was fall back into the pool, replace my mask and regulator, lie at the deepest part, and watch the surface turn orange and just hope there was enough water to protect me.

The fire passed, and I got out of the pool as quickly as I could.

Everything was scorched, barren. Barely any structures still stood, and while I saw the fire continue one way, I could see unimpeded in the other direction. Nothing was left. Just me.

Gadmeer Terraformer Stargate

It left me not feeling pained, but numb. Maybe not numb, but more like that tingle that you feel when hungover. It’s not a difficult dream to dissect, by any means, especially considering I signed what are most likely the final papers for the divorce yesterday.

Either way, it’s safe to say my day didn’t start out in the best manner.