May 23, 2013 2:21pm
Besides the obvious Cthulhu awesomeness (yaaaaay H.P. Lovecraft!), I thought the setting would provide for really good roleplaying and collaborative storytelling. We weren’t being dropped into some world where we as the players (not the characters we’re playing) aren’t familiar with the land, the customs, the politics, etc. This is New Orleans. All the players are either from here or have been here for so long that they might as well be. At one point, our characters drive to Audubon Park, in the middle of the night, in the middle of a thunderstorm. Anyone who has ever lived in NOLA has basically done that.
You don’t need to imagine such things – you just take your own personal memories and modify them to suit what the character is doing. And for me, there was an extra neat bit: our characters drove by my real family’s home, where my actual grandfather would have been (he was born in 1922), hopefully either sleeping or causing a ruckus. Just neat.
Anyways, Skip recently was part of the Miskatonic University podcast (not yet uploaded), talking about our game and characters, and the New Orleans setting for this RPG in general, so I figured I’d dust off this post that I’d saved as a draft last November and actually post it up. Here’s the character I developed:
Arcturus “Art” Skwisgaar
Artcurus Skwisgaar (or just Art for his American friends) was born in Göteborg (Gothenburg) Sweden in 1867. Born and raised in Sweden, Arcturus always seemed to have a natural affinity for music, especially stringed instruments. While his mother encouraged his natural ability in music, his father taught him how to fish and navigate by the stars. When he was old enough, he traveled through Scandinavia and Europe, paying his way by his well-honed crafts.
While in Paris, one of his music students – a gifted violist named Erich Zann – introduced him to jazz. Art was smitten, and decided to head overseas to a city where his skills as a fisherman and a musician would be well appreciated – New Orleans. He currently resides in the French Quarter in a nice little 3rd floor apartment with a view of the river (currently occupied by my friend, Sixth Ward Girl). He plays several regular gigs in various clubs and speakeasies around the Quarter.
Arcturus is not aware that before leaving Sweden, he fathered a child and as a result is the Great-Great-Great Grandfather of Skwisgaar Skwigelf, lead guitarist of Dethklok. Yes, I actually worked out the rough ancestry dates to do this. Nerd.
Anyways, he’s been a lot of fun to play. I made him older realizing that it’s give him less hit points (he only has 10), but vastly bump up his Know score (95). Just managed to fit right. Also, with his maritime background, he’s really good with a knife.
He’s managed to survive relatively unscathed so far, but you never know. His doom could be lurking in the nearby darkness.
When we played last, I basically killed all the lights in the room, and we played in the candlelight. Added an appropriate ambiance.
Lastly, Ruth has put together an excellent compendium of Lovecraft’s works for free, in ePub, MOBI and PDF formats at CthulhuChick.com. Check it out!
*EDIT* Chris has followed suit and written up his character, Langston August “Augie” Eames IV.
May 23, 2013 10:42am
I’m heading up to Indiana tomorrow to attend the funeral of my cousin Emily’s 2 1/2 year old son, Gill.
He was at Emily’s mother-in-law’s house Tuesday while Emily was at work. The grandmother had just noticed the boy was not in the house, and the back door leading to the pool area was open. By the time she found him, it was too late.
Please please please be wary of children when there’s a pool on the grounds.
April 30, 2013 10:28am
Nevermore – Sentient 6:
Demons & Wizards – Terror Train:
Heaven and Hell (Black Sabbath) – Computer God:
Megadeth – Psychotron:
Dethklok – The Cyborg Slayers:
Sepultura – Biotech is Godzilla:
December 14, 2012 9:12am
So, thoughts on The Hobbit beyond simply saying “SWEET MERCIFUL AMAZING CRAP”:
While I haven’t seen any combinations of the other permutations ( 3-D, IMAX, Standard Frame Rate ), the 3-D High Frame Rate looked absolutely spectacular and is worth every penny of the pricier tickets. While I could see some weak spots in the rendering/compositing/whatever here or there, I was overall blown away by the visual presentation.
And while I think +Allen Boudreaux had a legitimate gripe about some of the things that were somewhat mixed around / potentially represented, I’m a Big Picture kind of guy when it comes to adapting stories to film. And I think that the combination of exact quotes / slight story shuffles / new content was great.
And if you were worried that the movie would have the darker, more serious overtones of LotR, don’t be. We laughed. A lot. Peter Jackson and company really caught the fun and adventure of the story.
Also: Gollum. Just Gollum. Wow. The Gollum now and the Gollum then is like comparing Halo 4 to the original Halo. Jaw-dropping good.
At this rate, we’re going to have ~9 hours spread over three movies of The Hobbit in the theater, and I am absolutely thrilled.
I can’t wait to go and see it again.
x-posted from G+
November 9, 2012 4:03pm
One thing I’ve been working on at home is making it cheaper to live. We’re in the last part of a refinance (the mortgage will be going down $300/month!!), and the weather is cooling drastically – which means tracking down drafts. Winter (or, non-Summer, really) also means spending quality time in the attic, finishing the radiant barrier install and rolling out insulation.
As with most things, you have to spend money to save money, which is why we just did a solar panel installation with Joule Energy! They listened to what I wanted, what I didn’t want, and presented me with a few build options. They handled all my applications: City of N.O., Historical Districts & Landmarks Committee, inspections, and Entergy. Not having to deal with all that really made this process a breeze. They also have a pretty dynamite referral program, so if you do drop them a line, please tell them Will T. sent you!
I was thinking about breaking this up into three pieces: planning, funding, and installation. Instead of creating a few things to link to, I though it would be better to just have it all in one big post. So here we go.
A big factor of this whole process was the size of my array. My house is pretty long (~120ft), and runs East-West. Plenty of South-facing roof to harvest energy, which really expands my options regarding placement and overall array size. Space isn’t really an issue for me, but may be for others.
The first thing I looked at was my power bill – it really is more informative than you think. Also as a sort of a disclaimer: the months on Entergy bills are shifted one month. Anything that says November is really October. They mail the bill for October usage in November, so they label it the November bill. It doesn’t really change much, just if you want to line things up properly, you have to shift everything.
Below is my actual (but scrubbed of individual data) power bill from the other day – the “November” bill that is October data.
When I was originally looking into this, I was looking at costs to build out a system that would cover my peak summer usage. But after looking at those huge costs, I remembered I was not trying to get off the grid, and therefore took a second look at my more average months. Our off-peak average monthly usage is at most in the 600-650kWh range – less than half of our peak usage.
I ended up settling at an 800kWh/month (7.2kW) system (the red line in the image above). We’d over-produce for ~2/3 of the year, and the other peak bills would be at least half of their usual size. A fine compromise, especially since we’re feeding the grid.
Even with our recent week-long power outage from Hurricane Isaac, I felt that feeding the grid (aka net-metering) was the better way to go. No batteries (less cost, maintenance), no segregating breakers to be solar-only, no energy rationing, just an overall simpler system. In the event of another major strike to the grid, I’d be powerless along with my neighbors, but a small natural-gas powered generator will cover me. I wasn’t looking to go off the grid, so therefore I don’t need to lower my consumption by rationing or come up with a higher generating solar array.
This can be a tricky part, but I think I’ve worked it out as well as I can. Now again, we have a relatively large array – the total cost of parts and labor rolls in at – wait for it – $50,000.
But before you run away screaming, hear me out. In the state of Louisiana, you can get 80% of the system back in tax credits. The Feds will give you back 30%, while Louisiana will cover 50%! But, both handle the tax credits differently. While Louisiana will write you a check after refunding your taxes, the Feds will not. They’ll just refund the taxes you pay until the credit pool is gone.
This makes things potentially a little tricky. Joule partners with a company called EnerBank that provides loans for these sorts of things up to $45,000 with a one-year, 0% interest / same as cash setup. This gives you plenty of time to get your taxes credited – and you’ll want to get that handled, too – after one year the interest rate is something like 17%.
My wife and I will be getting all of our 2012 Federal taxes back, but that’s still not enough to cover all 30% of this credit. It’s about 2/3. Since we’re both salaried, we know what our tax with-holdings will be per paycheck. Starting in 2013, we’re going to stop withholding Federal taxes until we’ve hit that 30% mark, and apply that money to the loan. That should take about 6 months. At that point, we’ll have recouped our full 80% in credits, leaving the remaining 20% ($10k) to us.
I’m currently paying down the loan, trying to get it as low as possible during the 0% interest time period. When that’s up, I’ll put the remaining amount on our home equity line of credit and a MUCH lower interest rate.
Since my total system size exceeded the max loan amount, I also needed to come up with $5k. We’ve been going through a house re-fi, and I also needed a bunch of cash for that as well – didn’t want to roll those costs into the loan. What I was able to do though to not stress about the money was to borrow against my 401(k) from work. I was able to pull out enough cash from that to cover all these expenses, and here’s the best part: since I’m borrowing from my savings, I pay myself back. With interest. Take a look at your 401(k) plan if you have one to see if you have this option. The interest on the loan is only 4%, the payments are relatively small, it’ll be paid off in 5 years, and most importantly, ALL of it goes to my retirement plan.
While doing research, I came across this little tidbit: while this array counts as an improvement and raises the value of my house, the Orleans Parish Assessor is not allowed to tax me on the improvements! Neat!
Also, based on target energy production, my portion of the system will pay for itself in lower Entergy bills in about 6.5 years.
Now, our situation will different from everyone else’s, so you may not have these options. This is just how I was able to make this happen.
Yesterday, I got the login info to the monitoring webapp (there’s also Android and iOS apps). I didn’t hear about Entergy coming around to swap out my meter, but the data looked live. I went outside to take a look at my meter, and the dial was spinning, and far too quickly for the miniscule amount of juice I knew my house was using at that moment. After looking at the direction it was spinning (right-to-left), and comparing it to a neighbor’s meter (left-to-right), I realized it was indeed running backwards! Huzzah!
And the webapp, showing live data! Break it out of frames here: Power Monitor.
Looking at my bill for the last two (actual) Novembers, my average daily usage is about 17kWh. Currently, I’m generating on average 38kWh. Hooray, math.
Also, I have both installed radiant barrier in my attics and helped install it in friends’ attics, and noticed a huge difference in attic temperature, which directly and vastly affects the ambient temperature of the rooms beloew it, and the resulting A/C usage. Since these cover the roof, I’d imagine they’ll also provide a similar effect in reducing the temperature of the attic because that portion of the roof isn’t exposed to the heat of the sun.
And again, Joule has a pretty good referral program, so if you drop them a line, tell ‘em Will T. sent ya.