The Caffeinated Penguin

musings of a crackpot hacker

Aerobie AeroPress

| October 26, 2008

I updated my review here after using it for a few months.

RPG Meme

| October 25, 2008

(Hat tip to )

Write about your first RPG session. If you can't remember your first time, write about the earliest campaign you can remember. What system and setting was it? What character did you play? What happened? Don't be shy; we were all stupid “back then”.

I was the GM. We were playing Shadowrun, Third Edition. I think it was 1999. (Yes, I was a latecomer to gaming).

We ran the typical “First Run”, where it's 3am, you're hungry, and you need to go to the Stuffer Shack. Problem is, it gets hit by gangers. It introduces people to the combat system and allows them to get a handle on things.

In this one, they wasted the gangers, and this one dude (combat mage with an oricalcum cyberarm with cyber spur which just also happens to be a weapon focus… for the curious, this guy should not exist) decides that he's going to waste the manager and clerk behind the counter so as to not leave any witnesses (not like either of those would care – the runners saved their lives).

What the team didn't know was that this guy was also a sociopath who recorded everything which went on and sold the combat flicks on the black market – a decent side business. So, all his stuff was one big power trip.

So, the combat mage (no competition for alpha male there at all) takes a hit out on him.

I'm not going to just whack a player, so the sniper shoots at him as he's sitting in their favorite runner bar (Skinny Dick's halfway inn) and the round thuds into the bar. Firefight breaks out, and in the confusion the combat mage who took out the hit gets behind the cybered combat mage and cuts his head off with a dikoted katana.

The player was pissed and walked out of the game, never to return.

The rest of the crew was like “what the hell just happened”, and the guy doing the killing had to explain himself. He convinced the crew that what he did was in their best interest, and they had some pretty grand adventures after that.

Politics

| October 23, 2008

One thing that occurs to me – with both of these shitbirds trying to blatantly buy votes by promoting their bailout plans, it likely means that most of us are going to get tax breaks. It very well may destroy the economy in the long term by bankrupting the fedgov, but we'll get a little bit of a break before everything goes all Mad Max.

Bread

| October 23, 2008

(I'm largely going to blame for this…)

After seeing several folks on my flist talking about baking bread, I figured I'd try my hand at it. I did well, and Liz loved having fresh bread around. Plus, unlike most store bought bread (think mass market, not small bakery), it actually has FLAVOR. (I attribute part of this to quality flour. We exclusively use King Arthur flour and you can taste the difference).

However, I got rather tired of doing it. Don't get me wrong – I liked the fresh bread, but it was very.. inconvenient? inefficient? to make up the bread, knead it, go do something else while I let it rest, knead it again, then come back and bake it. So, I started making extra loaves and freezing them. This worked, but takes up freezer space, and the loaves generally go stale or moldy before we finish them.

We have a half solution. I haven't figured out how to eat it all before it goes bad (short of having folks over), but we have fixed the time problem with a Breadman Pro TR875. Essentially, it's as simple as “throw everything in (in the correct order), select the right menu item, and press go”. So far, it has worked well – I've made cinnamon raisin bread (didn't mix fully) jalapeƱo bread (came out fine) and whole wheat bread (from the recipe on the bag of flour + the wheat cycle). The cycles are optimized to do things at specific times and temperatures, and change slightly based on what you're doing (the whole wheat cycle, for example, preheats everything and kneads it slowly, allowing for proper hydration and relaxation of the gluten.)

It produces very, very good results.

We have also been using it for making pasta (I made some really awesome chicken and dumplings) and doughs (I made some very nice dinner rolls tonight). Once again, throw it in, let it run, make the rest of supper, pull out the dough and then do whatever. The dumplings got rolled out, cut and tossed in the soup, the rolls were broken into equal portions, rolled into balls and baked.

I realize this makes me lazy, but let's be honest here. Which is better – buying a lazy man's machine and eating homemade bread, or buying the stuff at the store with all the stuff in it? I mean, when a loaf of bread sits out on the counter for three weeks and DOESN'T go moldy, isn't that kind of slightly scary?

(Oh, and the rolls I made tonight? They were split in half with some pulled venison sortof meat thing (the recipe called it BBQ, but it's more like sloppy joes) ladled over them, corn on the side. Just awesome.)

The campaign.. err.. campaign

| October 23, 2008

The candidates play D&D.

Things I realized today

| October 19, 2008

(1) Apparently, folks in New York care about vehicle inspections. I didn't notice that mine had expired back in July, and was pulled over at an inspection checkpoint for it. Given the reactions folks had when I related the tale, I am expecting a several hundred dollar fine. Inspections must be done every year.

Contrast with Rhode Island:

  • Inspections last two years on all vehicles less than 10 years old.
  • New cars don't even get an inspection sticker for the first two years.
  • People regularly drive with an expired inspection sticker – unless the car is a POS, it doesn't matter.
  • I've never even heard of folks getting any more than a warning about vehicle inspections.

(2) Family Guy has ceased to be funny. This season, it's just stupid, preachy, and has become a caricature of itself. Reasonable original content, topical reference, recycled story fragment lifted from somewhere else, make a pro-Democrat or anti-Republican joke – lather, rinse, repeat. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind political humor, but acting like there is anything approaching a lick of difference between the two parties is just foolish. Further, directly implying that McCain and Palin support a Nazi agenda (or have an agenda which would be supported by Nazis) just shows the writers to be a bunch of tools.

Oh, and I'm getting tired of the “we went there because of oil” jokes. Tell that to the Somalis and the Serbians. Oh, and if we really wanted blood for oil, wouldn't we just invade Mexico and Venezuela or, hell, even Canada? According to this, they've got more than Iraq (though I believe most of it is in oil sand a shale, leading to expensive extraction costs. However, with no one expecting gasoline to hit $2/gallon ever again, I would expect it to become profitable to develop the technology to extract that oil. Plus, I'd rather give the Canadians my money than the Saudis.

Shockwave – North Hollywood Robbery

| October 9, 2008

Yes, you friggin TV idiots. The bad men had rifles and rifles go through stuff. If you think AK's “high powered”, you should check out my father in law's .300 Wby mag.

This is why police need rifles.

And the dispatcher lady was on there saying “If the police say they're outgunned what do you do now?”

Uhm.. call the fire department and ask them to bring rifles? Seriously. We have pagers, and all of us have at least one proper rifle.

And Obama steps in it….

| October 7, 2008

At best, I'll agree that universal health care is a privilege you get from living in a country which decides establish such a program.

I will not agree that such a thing is a right.

(Also, McCain can stop making jokes any time soon)

Time for ice cream.. I forgot these don't have commercials…

In non-political news

| October 7, 2008

I picked up a copy of Battlefield Evolution: Modern Combat.

Some thoughts:

  • I like the idea of a “Fire Zone”. Basically, if shooting at a squad of baddies with small arms fire, you designate a center and take casualties within 3″ of that center. This solves the “you can only shoot at one squad” problem you see in games like 40K.

  • I don't like the fact that you have to be within 6″ of your squad leader in order to be in coherency. I prefer a straight “within 2″ of other folks in your crew forming a chain to the squad leader”, so you can set up a proper skirmish line.

  • There are no morale rules. I can't say that I care for that from a simulationist perspective, but it probably makes it fun to play when your soldiers don't run away (but they can be rendered ineffective and reactive only if they lose too many folks).

  • I like the integrated rules for combined arms – artillery, air, etc.

  • The combat seems pretty simple. Your weapon determines your range and the number of dice you get to roll for attack (presumably these numbers change depending on if it is an AR in the hands of a US Marine vs. an AK in the hands of a random untrained civilian, but I haven't gotten to comparing the army lists yet). The target numbers you need depend on whom you're shooting, and there are two “hit” and “kill”. Kill casualties are removed immediately, and hit casualties get to make armor saves. The numbers make it way easier to shoot untrained civvies vs. Navy SEALs, and the SEALs get an armor save. So, you end up with a roll to hit and maybe a save, and that's it. I'm not sure how I feel about this. Specifically, I'm not sure the to hit rolls have enough variability to account for the vast differences in the training of troops. Remember – it's not being able to fire your weapon as much as it is able to deliver effective fire under combat conditions.

I'm not sure how readily adaptable this is to micro armor, though. The fire zone stuff and ranges are easily handled, but the only way I can think of to handle infantry is to actually roll for individual soldiers and then have dice next to the stands to track the wounds.. which is kind of lame.

So, I think it is still Dirtside II for microarmor, but I have some 15mm marines and insurgents which should work well with this ruleset.

McCain just stepped in it

| October 7, 2008

“I would give the secretary of the treasury the power to buy up people's mortgages and reissue mortgages at the new, lower values of those homes.”

What part of outside the powers of the federal government do you not understand?