Sep 132005

Mom just called, nearly in tears. Grandma has been in a hospice in Florida for a couple weeks now, and I guess they called my mom today to say she wasn’t going to last more than a couple more days. Mom’s making arrangements to fly down there on Thursday. I’m not sure what I should do. I should go to be there for my mom, if not my grandma, who I’ve been distant from for awhile now because of the way she’d been treating my mom. She is my last remaining grandparent, and we used to be close, so I’m having some conflicting feelings about the whole thing.

We’d probably have to cancel our trip to San Francisco on the 23rd because that was going to use up all but one of my saved vacation/sick days. I just don’t know what to do, so I’m waiting to see how Mom’s plans finalize.

Sep 132005

This past weekend was the second of three weddings we have/will attend in one month, which is just about saturation point for me. Sure they can be fun and all, but three in a month is just wearying. Fortunately the wedding of roadster_guy‘s sister this coming weekend will be on Mackinac Island, which I haven’t been to in about 10 years or more. Plus, since it will be mid-September, most of the Fudgies (tourists) will hopefully be gone.

Back when I was a teenage nature-boy, I thought Mackinac was heaven-on-earth for a Druid wannabe like me. After I left the Navy, I discovered on my first trip back to Mackinac that my semi-religious sense of connection to nature was gone, which came as something of a shock. Still, it’ll be nice to roam the island again, especially with a smaller weekend crowd. I worked there as a dishwasher for the Iroquois hotel for a month the summer before my senior year, and had a great time. I was there on vacation with my mom, sister, and grandparents, and I decided I wanted to stay. I went to a few different hotels and got hired on the spot at the Iroquois, and stayed at the huge house the owners provided for their employees. I shared a basement room with three hot college guys, and developed a major crush on one of them. I wanted to go back the next year for the whole summer, but left for the Navy the day of graduation, so that never happened.

I started working out again about three weeks ago, and have progressively gotten more serious about it. I do a pretty complete upper body workout 2-3 times a week, and alternate with 20-25 minutes on the stairclimber to get my legs and butt toned. My lower body is muscular enough that I don’t need to hit the weights with it yet, until my upper gets even with it. Also, I hate leg workouts so I’m stalling as long as possible. 😛 I was really sore after the first time, especially the inside of my left elbow, but the last two have just left me a bit stiff and slightly achey. It was hard to force myself to start going, but the more I go, the more I want to go and I get antsy if I don’t, which eventually drives me out of the house and to the gym, even at 8 o’clock at night.

There is some serious hotness at Lifetime in Troy, and it’s both easy and difficult to keep my eyes from roaming and staring. Difficult, for obvious reasons (hot muscular guys in revealing gymwear!). Easy, because I’m not totally comfortable at the gym yet, and I don’t want to look at or be looked at by anyone. It just reminds me that I have a long way to go before I look as good as a lot of them do, and many of them have a long headstart on me.

I finally got my copy of Mage:The Awakening from Amazon and have been reading it off and on since Friday. As I was telling nakednerd, I’m trying to like it, but I’m having a hard time letting go of the old system/concepts. I’ve skimmed a lot of the actual mechanics on the first pass, thinking it was overkill, and started getting into the actual Arcana and rotes (spells), which are VERY cool. I’m understanding now why there’s a need for more complicated mechanics: the old system was too freeform, and it could be very hard to resolve spells fairly and consistently. The new system still allows for freeform spellcasting but, with tighter mechanics and a lot more powers and rotes available in each Arcana, freespelling(?) should be less necessary.

I’m still trying to get my head around the terminology. A lot of the old names have been replaced with new ones, or have been shuffled from different games under the old system. Old Mage’s “Arete” has been replaced with old Werewolf’s “Gnosis” and “Mana” has replaced “Quintessence” (which makes more sense anyway). Old Mage’s “Nodes” are now called “Hallows” (sounds cooler), and old Werewolf’s “Caerns” are now called “Nodes” (still like Caerns better). At first I hated that they replaced the nine Spheres of magic with ten Arcana, but splitting Entropy into Fate and Death does make a lot more sense, and lets each Arcana have a lot more variety than a single Sphere would. I don’t like the new symbols for each Arcana; they’re not distinctive and easily recognizable (and just plain cool) like the old Sphere symbols were. The old ones were actual historical alchemical symbols; the new are just abstract designs.

The other night I dreamed about Chinese gold farmers. For the non-online-gamers, there are services that sell ingame money for various online games for real-world cash. So players who are too lazy, or don’t have time, to build up their own money ingame can just buy gold or platinum from these services. The businesses that do this frequently set up “video sweatshops” in third-world countries (mostly China) where they pay workers horrible wages to repeatedly collect, or “farm”, loot and money from the same areas in the game. has a very good article on the practice here. Anyway, I dreamed I was trying to investigate one of these groups, and was having a hard time infiltrating the system. It was all very cloak & dagger, with passwords and multiple levels of contacts, anonymous phone calls, and a pet raccoon. I’m still wondering what the raccoon was all about.

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