Category Archives: a few words you’re probably going to have to look up

An Appropriate Dosage of Hope.

So I’m downstairs, making breakfast for me and the boys.

This is an elaborate and arcane process. It involves more wandering in and out of rooms than you might expect, and trying to remember what I meant to do there. Plus a fair amount of esoteric behavior like looking for a spoon that I’m sure I was just holding…. but it’s not here anymore. Was I holding it? Is this a Matrix thing? Was it some sort of fucking magical elf-spoon?

(It was not a magical elf-spoon. Alas.)

Some of the reason for this is because part of the breakfast I’m preparing is coffee (for me, not the boys). And that means I haven’t yet had my coffee. And that means that daddy needs his medicine. And by medicine I mean the literal drug that I literally take because I want all that ergogenic mojo all up in my headbrains and bodymeats. And by daddy I mean literally me. Because I am that.

(Who’s your parasocial daddy?)

I can’t blame it all on coffee though. Some of it is just me being groggy. And some of it is me thinking about everything at once, like I do. And part of it is probably some of the ADHD (though I still never know how much to point the finger at that, as I’m still knew to that diagnosis. And it seems unfair to lay *all* my disorganized bullshit at the feet of that particular acronym.)

Nevertheless, as I walk past the end-table, hunting elusive faerie cutlery, I see my little pill-box thing.

(Because this is my life now. This is who I am, apparently.) 

First I have to figure out what fucking day it is. And yeah. It’s Thursday. But if it’s Thursday, why are there still pills in the little Thursday pill home? But I’m pretty sure that I remember taking my meds this morning. That’s why the pill thing is here, right? Because I carried it downstairs when I was getting ready to take the pills….

But the pills are still in there.

So I look at this thing, and I say, “I don’t know if I took my meds already.”

I have to make something clear here, I’m not talking to myself. But at the same time, I’m not really asking my kids for advice on this, either. Because while I value their thoughts and feelings, they shouldn’t be making certain decisions. They’re 7 and 11 years old, respectively. They’re wise beyond their years and off-the-charts articulate, but *I’m* the one who needs to fucking figure out whether I’ve taken my meds.

But why am I saying this out loud then? I honestly don’t know. I do tend to process things out loud more often when the boys are around. Maybe that’s how we’re wired as primates, to talk around our children so we can model our decision making process.

Anyway, whatever the reason, I’m talking it through, saying, “Do I risk missing my meds entirely, or do I risk doubling up on my meds? If I double up, will that make me really scattered, or will I be Super Productive today…?”

Without missing a beat or breaking stride, Oot walks behind me and asks casually, “What’s the LD-50?”

I turn to look at him, not quite sure what I just heard. He’s doing something at the sink now. “Did you just ask me about the LD-50?” I ask.

He turns to look at me, nodding. He’s not above showboating. He likes being clever. And if there’s a pedantry gene, he has it (and he got it from me) but right now he’s not doing that. Or if he is doing it, he’s gone next level and has realized the value of the slow-play. Maybe he’s learning that less is more…

Either way, he’s just looking at me with vague curiosity in his big, serious eyes, as if he can’t understand why my tone would be incredulous. As if he doesn’t know why I would be impressed that he remembered the concept of LD-50. Something I didn’t learn about until my junior year of college. Something I’m pretty sure I only mentioned once to my boys a couple months ago, probably when I was dosing Cutie with antibiotics during a recent deeply shitty medial adventure.

“Yeah,” he says.

And I just start to laugh. I go over and hug him, laughing. And I keep laughing uncontrollably for at least a solid minute.

I know I’ve laughed in surprise before. (That’s one of the big theories about laughter, actually. Some folks believe true laughter, [Duchenne laughter] only erupts as a symptom. It’s the result of a sort cognitive fuse being blown when we experience something that goes contrary to our expectations. The cognitive and neurophysiological roots of laughter is one of the many odd rabbit holes of research I’ve gone down over the years, as I used to consider myself a bit of a humorist. But that, as they say, is a blog for a different day…)

Anyway. I’m laughing. And while part of this *is* surprise. It’s also just joy. I don’t remember laughing out of real joy before I became a dad. It’s been happening a fair amount this last year as these boys continue to startle me with their kindness and honesty. They startle me by actually remembering things I’ve told them. And not just remembering. They actually understand and internalize and make use of this stuff, too….

You might wonder why this surprises me. I mean, why on earth would I be dadding so hard if not to this exact purpose? Why would I be spending so much time and energy trying to teach them stuff, if not so they would learn it?

And… yeah. I mean. Of course. That’s the dream.

But if I’ve learned anything over the last decade, is that you can care a lot, and work really hard, and do your level best… and in the end all you get for your trouble is double therapy and trouble sleeping at night. So these days I fight to keep my expectations modest. It’s the whole Buddhist thing: Taṇhā leads to dukkha. Desire causes suffering. Hope is the highwire without which you need not fear a fall.

So I try not to hope too much for the boys. The world is hard enough, and life is heavy enough. They don’t need my expectations weighing them down. I just try to take them as they come and enjoy them for who they are.

But oh it’s hard. These boys, they’re pretty great.

It occurs to me that I sat down to tell a cute (if slightly braggy) story about my kids, and it’s turned into something else. I can’t be surprised at that, though. Most people think that writing is just expressing what you already think or feel. It’s transcription. It’s explanation. I used to think that, too, way back in the day. But not for decades. Now I know better. For me, writing is almost always a process of exploration and discovery. Not always, but often.

You want to know the *real* truth? I originally started to write this little story as a *tweet* and instead it turned into a thousand word maunder where the upshot is that I’m surprised my boys actually listen to me. In some ways that doesn’t seem like much. Hardly worth the work or words.

But on the other hand, what’s better than your kids listening to you and then turning around and reminding you of what you’ve shared? What more could I hope for?

And there we are gain. Back at hope. And hope, you see, is a hell of a drug, and while that doesn’t make hope bad, it does make it dangerous. Maybe it’s just that way for me though. Maybe I have hope sensitivity. Or whatever the hope-appropriate version of drug-intolerance is. Maybe it’s that when it comes to hope, the Effective Dose is way too close to the Lethal Dose for me.

But these boys. I tell you. They are such a wonder and a delight. And so, despite myself sometimes, I hope.

pat

Also posted in a few words you're probably going to have to look up, Because I Love, day in the life, musings, Oot, The Art of Letting Go, the man behind the curtain, Uncategorized | By Pat84 Responses

Bad Analogies, Kielbasa, and all-star D&D returns…

Hey there everybody,

It feels like it’s been a hundred years since the fundraiser, and it also feels just like yesterday. I don’t know if 2020 has permanently damaged my ability to perceive time in an accurate way, or if this is just my regular post-December recovery and fugue state.

Things are going good around here. Though as I type that, I pause and think, “Hold on, that can’t be right. Everything’s awful forever now. Right? Hold on. Let me check my notes….”

Then I riffle through some papers in my head and think, Yeah, it’s still pandemic o’clock. Politics… still there. Isolation and quarantine, check. What’s wrong with me that I feel like I can say things are good?

But… that’s not *all* that’s going on, right? Vaccines are happening, too. That’s nice. We haven’t had a natural disaster in maybe three months or so? I found a new Korean restaurant in town with really nice dumplings….

Oh. Also we have a new president now, which is pretty fucking great. And democracy is still… kinda here? Mostly? Like a car we weren’t sure was going to get us all the way home through the Furiosa-style dystopian wasteland, but it did. Sure we were driving the last bit on the rims, and the windshield is gone, and it’s chugging and smoking and it looks like we tried to have a poorly-negotiated threeway with an anklyosaur and Zuul. But it got us all the way into the garage, and now we can take a deep, shaky breath and spend a *lot* of time repairing it.

Okay. Maybe that’s not my best analogy ever. Let me try again.

You know the incessant low, thrumming dread you feel when you’re really nauseous for a long time, followed by the sour, hunched misery of puking your guts out? It’s a pretty universal human experience, and we can all agree for the most part that it sucks.

But do you also remember how *good* you feel when you *stop* throwing up?

I think that’s what I’m feeling right now. Like all of 2020 was me just puking and puking forever. And now that I’m not anymore, it’s just nice.

I mean, is this the world I’d wish for if I had a pet Genie? No. You can tell because Firefly is still canceled and pizza has calories.

But you know what? There are still good things in the world. Plus my books are here. Right now, I’m pretty happy with half a loaf.

*      *      *

So far, this year has been fairly low-key over here at Rothco. I’ve been catching up on my sleep and getting my house in order. (Both literally and figuratively. My underwear drawer is *orderly* folks.) I’ve been livestreaming over on twitch fairly regularly. I’m mostly continuing my second play-through of Numenera, but I also dipped in to do some Among Us with Felicia and her crew last week. A game where I was categorically bad at everything and was forced to resort to use my Bene Gesserit powers.

Here’s a moment from that stream that I’m particularly proud/ashamed of.

It’s the first highlight I’ve ever made of a stream, but I’m not smart enough to embed it here, apparently.

On the home front, I’ve mostly been focusing on spending time with the boys. We’re currently reading The Princess Bride (which starts really slow, but picks up nicely after the introduction.) I help the boys stay on top of their at-home school stuff and deal with not being able to see their friends in person.

(Yeah. I’m 100% that dad.)

We’ve also been wrapping up the Fundraiser. While most of the flashiness of that happens in December, there’s a lot of organizing that happens beforehand, and a lot of tying up of loose ends afterwards. But despite the mad state of the world, I think we’re more on top of those things than we’ve been in years. It’s a good feeling.

Those of you who were tuned in for the fundraiser this year probably caught some of the games we played online to help spread the word about our shindig. I *hope* most of you caught at least a few of them, because this year’s games turned out amazingly.

Especially this one:

Let me tell you, folks. I’ve played some D&D in my day. I hang with some cool cats. I even occasionally pull up on with the new whip,  though I’ll admit that’s exceedingly rare.

What I’m trying to say is that I’ve had the luxury of playing with a lot of really amazing folks over the years. So hear me when I say that this game was as much fun as I’ve had in YEARS. My first time *ever* playing a bard.

That would be impressive enough, but what makes it truly crazy is that this if the first time I’ve ever played with half of the other folks at the table. Brennan, Saige, and Aabria were complete strangers at the start of the video. And I didn’t even know B Dave four months ago…

Despite that, it was so much fun that at the end of it, everyone said they really wanted to come together and play again…. if we hit a follow-up charity stretch goal. It was terribly sweet, as they’re all busy people.

But we hit that goal. And now we’re getting the band back together. This weekend.

That’s right. We’ll be getting together to continue this adventure on Saturday, January 30th, from 2-5 pm, CST.

After we played the first time, I said I’d post up a blog with everyone’s info, so you could find them all on in their various fastnesses and demesnes out there on the webs.  I view this as a service to the community, as they deserve more attention than they get, and your dreary, turgid quarantine-laden existences will be vastly improved by getting more of them directly into your eye-holes.

(For those of you who have been waiting for this, sorry it’s taken so long.)

Our cool cast (and where to find them!):

B. Dave Walters is a Storyteller & proud Scoundrel American. He is best known as the writer and co-creator of Electropunk, Dungeons & Dragons: A Darkened Wish for IDW comics, and creator and DM of the Darkened Wish streaming show for Wizards of the Coast. He plays Baron Victor Temple on Vampire the Masquerade: LA by Night on World of Darkness Twitch and Freely on Silver & Steel on D&D Beyond on Twitch.

Taliesin Jaffe is an American actor, voice actor, ADR director and screenwriter. He is a regular cast member of the Dungeons & Dragons actual play series Critical Role, playing Percival de Rolo (“Percy”), Mollymauk Tealeaf (“Molly”), and Caduceus Clay.

Aabria is an American GM and RPG player that has contributed to a multitude of projects, including Failed Save on PixelCircus, Creature Collectors on Critical Bard, and hosting the Storybenders Podcast.

Performing Artist, Communication Specialist, Consultant, E-Sports Professional, Miss Oregon USA 2011, and overall Entertainer, Anna Prosser wears many hats, but for one purpose – to make a positive impact on the world around her! Anna can currently be seen on Echoes Of Eternity each Monday at 6pm PT and Extra Brains each Friday at 1pm PT on her Twitch channel. She can also be seen playing on Nights Of Eveningstar on the official D&D Twitch channel each Tuesday at 4pm PT.

Saige Ryan is an Actress, Host, Singer, and Dancer born and raised in California. She began dancing at the age of 3 and began her acting career at just 7 years old. You may recognize her from films such as I Heart Huckabees, Believers, Forget Me Not, and Maybe Someday, or her 40+ national commercials. The film Maybe Someday in which Saige plays the lead role of Abigail Donnelly was nominated for Best Picture at the 2016 Carmel film festival, and recently released on digital platforms. Saige can currently be seen contributing to the PixelCircus Twitch channel and streaming on her channel at Twitch.tv/NotSaige.

Brennan Lee Mulligan is an award-winning actor, writer, creator and producer. As a cast member of CollegeHumor, he wrote and starred in the sketch Tide CEO, which won a 2019 Webby Award and received over seven million views. He is executive producer, writer and Game Master of Dimension 20, a series produced for the CH streaming service Dropout, and also hosts Dropout’s fantasy gaming vodcast, The Adventuring Academy. Brennan is author and co-creator of the popular webcomic and graphic novel series, Strong Female Protagonist, which was selected as an Autostraddle Favorite, and was on io9’s list of Best New and Short Webcomics.

Little is known of this rare salt-type murder-hobo. This elusive narrativore does not take well to captivity, and while rarely seen in the wild, he occasionally strays near urban areas, where his barbaric yawps can be heard for a distance of up to two miles at night. Sleep cycle: Crepuscular. Mode of locomotion: sessile. Verbosity: Gregarious with occasional yeeting.

God it’s late. I don’t know what I’m even saying anymore. Bed for me.

Hope y’all are well. Hope to see some of you this Saturday for the game….

pat

Also posted in a billion links, a few words you're probably going to have to look up, Beautiful Games, cool things, gaming, geeking out, videos, Worldbuilders 2020 | By Pat63 Responses

Wyrmwood Gaming: The Prophecy Gaming Table

I’m guessing if you read my blog, you’ve heard of Wyrmwood Gaming before.

They’re the ones who have produced the high-end Tak sets we’ve made. Both the ones in the initial kickstarter, the travel sets we have in the Tinker’s packs, and the one-of-a-kind set pictured above that’s currently up for grabs in the fundraiser’s prize lottery where every $10 bucks gets you a chance to win among thousands of games and books.

I love them with a fierce love, which is why we’ve done so much with them, including, for example, the wooden poker chip sets we did in our recent playing card Kickstarter.

But I’m not here to tell you about the cool stuff they’ve done in the past.

No. I’m here to tell you how cool they are right now…

*      *      *

About a week and a half ago, I went to PAX unplugged where I met up with some friends, played some D&D, and just generally mucked about and had a good time.

I stopped by the Wyrmwood booth too, because, as I mentioned, I love them. I looked around at some of the new stuff they had for sale, chatted with some of the folks there, checked out the Tak set they had on display…

And then, off to one side of their booth, I saw this:

And here’s the thing. This is the point at which words fail me. This table. It was so beautiful. Not just that, it was amazingly well designed and engineered.

This is going to sound a little crazy. But I couldn’t stop touching it. I was there, chatting to the folks running the booth, and I realized that for the last 10 minutes I’d been obsessively running my hands over the table. Almost… well… kinda petting it.

But no. That actually undersells what was going on. I was caressing the table. I’m sorry to put it in those terms. But I was. I was caressing this table in a sensual and loving manner. And I could not find it within myself to stop.

I honestly don’t want to make this weird. But I don’t know how else to explain to you how much I fell in love with this table. How it looked and how it felt.

And then they showed me how it worked. How the recessed playing area could be raised and lowered. How they used rare-earth magnets to secure the drink holders. How the leaves that covered the table were not only tongue-and-groove, and not only held together with magnets, but it also has a rubber gasket so if you spill something it won’t leak through and ruin your game underneath!

God. s I’m typing this, I’m actually angry and sad and frustrated that I can’t accurately describe to you how amazing it was.

Here’s a picture they took of me when I was there.

(Look at my hands.)

How ginchy is this table? Let me tell it you. If a Unicorn were a gaming table, this is the table it would be. If you went to god’s house to play D&D, this is what you’d see. This is the Tesla of gaming tables. It’s the one table to rule them all.

This is the Lin-Manuel Miranda of gaming tables.

Anyway. While I was talking to them, creepily caressing their table, I thanked them for the donations that they had already made to this year’s fundraiser. And then I mentioned, using my best used-car salesman tones, that if they wanted to donate a table to Worldbuilders, I’d do a really good job of showing it off to the world.

And here’s the thing. They said yes.

 

*     *     *

Yeah. So as of right now, there is a Black Walnut Prophecy table in the Worldbuilders prize lottery. That means for every ten bucks you donate, you get a chance to win. (Not only the table, but over $150,000 of other books, games, and geeky swag we’re giving away.)

By the way, here’s a video that shows off the table at some length. You should really check it out.

Let me say it again: This Black Walnut Prophecy table is being added into the lottery for *anyone* to win who donates $10 or more, and selects “GAMES” as one of the items they’d like to win.

The winner, in addition to the table, will also get up to $500 worth of rail accessories of the their choice (in matching Black Walnut, this would be roughly 4 cup holders and 4 component collectors). The total retail value of all of this is $10,500. And, again, anyone who selects games as one of the types of things they’d like to win is eligible to win this table. You could donate $10 and still possibly win this.

Now, there’s some things to take note of.

First of all, this table would be fulfilled at the end of May 2019. Wyrmwood has already sold a bunch of these tables, and they can’t promise it would be done any sooner than that. You’d know you won it early next year (when Worldbuilders does the prize draw) but you’d be waiting until May 2019 for it to arrive.

Additionally, a $500 shipping credit will be applied. Which is to say, you’d be responsible for paying any additional shipping costs for delivery. See, this table is huge, and hefty. Solid wood craftsmanship is like that. And since we’re not limiting this prize to only people in North America, there’s a chance the shipping could cost a LOT of money.

When the winner is selected, we’ll reach out to be sure they’re willing and able to cover any additional shipping costs. If the winner declines, we’ll draw another name and a new winner will be chosen.

Believe me when I say, you want this table. If you’ve been holding out on donating, now’s the time to jump in, and maybe you’ll win.

And also, if you get the chance, can you show the folks at Wyrmwood a little love when you get the chance? They’ve really gone above and beyond with this donation, and they deserve some kudos.

Also posted in a few words you're probably going to have to look up, Arts and Crafts, Beautiful Games, cool news, geeking out, Worldbuilders 2017 | By Pat9 Responses

Giving Tuesday: For the Love of Cows

As I type this, Worldbuilders has raised more than $279,000 dollars.

It’s also Giving Tuesday. And I’m going to be honest with you. Part of me really wants to be snarky about that. This year someone used the term “Thanksgiving Eve” around me, and I went on a tirade because no. No there is no such thing as that. We started with Thanksgiving. Then we got Black Friday and that was fine. Then there was small business Saturday and that was kinda okay. Because yay, small businesses…

But then there was Cyber Monday too, and you know what? Not everything has to have a day. Sometimes it’s just Wednesday. So no, thank you very much, it’s not Thanksgiving Eve.

So I’m going to be honest with you. I feel a little bit the same about Giving Tuesday. That cussed, contrary part of me *really* wants to have a problem with it. It feels kinda… artificial.

Boy, this isn’t the best way to start off a charity blog, is it? I’m doing this all wrong.

Here’s the thing. No matter how I happen to feel right now, today is still Giving Tuesday. It’s a day when a lot of people feel moved to donate to charity. And even at my most curmudgeonly, I think that’s pretty great.

And *because* it’s Giving Tuesday, I’m supposed to write a blog that will inspire y’all. To be generous. To dig deep. To think of others. To pick Worldbuilders as your charity of choice, donate, (and maybe win some fabulous prizes while you’re at it.)

I’ve written those blogs in the past. Typically about halfway through the fundraiser I get caught up in the excitement, write something passionate, and y’all warm my bitter heart & stomp out to donate. This has happened ever year so far, and it reinforces my belief that humanity is good. And that geeks in particular are lovely, empathetic, large-hearted individuals.

But this year… I don’t really have a great idea for a blog. I… honestly? I just feel so tired. Every day the news beats me down a little more. Every day it seems like the world is a little more on fire. Every day it seems like we’re just a little closer to the brink.

And we just had my dad’s funeral this weekend. I’m not bouncing back from that as quickly as I thought I would.

But the fact remains that it’s Giving Tuesday. And I’m the only one who can write this blog. So I’m writing a blog. And, apparently, I’m determined to make a mess of it. This really isn’t how it’s supposed to go….

*     *     *

I just got up from the computer and had a walk, pretty convinced that when I sat down again, I’d have to erase what I’d written and start over.

But instead, I found this on my dining room table.

(Click to embiggen)

This is a box my son brought over to my house a couple weeks ago at the beginning of our fundraiser. It’s full of change he’s been collecting all year. He *really* wants to get enough to buy a cow for a family through for Heifer International.

If you want to know why, here’s the video from a couple years ago:

My boy knows a cow costs $500, and he’s been working at it tirelessly. He scrounges the house for change, going through our pants pockets and couch cushions. He has emptied both his own piggy bank and his brother’s. He opened a store after Halloween, selling his candy haul piece by piece to anyone who came over to the house….

Sometimes he just straight-up shakes people down for money, explaining how helpful a cow can be to a family that doesn’t have much food or money. In fact, just this weekend at my dad’s visitation, I found out he was offering funeral home mints to people for a quarter. I explained, gently, that this might not be the best place for that. But not before he brought me a check a kind soul had written out to Worldbuilders.

Somehow I don’t think my dad would mind. Especially not given what I found in the box just now.

I think this must have come from a letter they exchanged over the last year. My dad wasn’t an easy man to persuade, but he had a soft spot for my little boy….

I don’t know if I have a real point to sharing this with you except to say that finding this box made me feel… happy. I feel proud of my boy. And right now, when my own enthusiasm is at a little bit of a low ebb, it’s nice to be able to borrow a little bit of excitement.

If you want to be excited about what a cow can do for a family, you should watch this video. It’s not even two minutes long.

Tomorrow, I think I’m going to show my boy that video. We’ll count his change and we’ll talk about cows.

In fact, I’m going to invite him to come livestream with me tomorrow, too. (For the next two weeks, I’m streaming to raise awareness of our fundraiser 4-7 CST every day.) Tomorrow, he and I will do it as a team. We’ll play some video games and talk about cows.

You can come on over to my stream and meet him, if you like. Maybe a little of his enthusiasm will rub off on you too.

That seems like a nice way to spend Giving Tuesday.

[edit: Amanda here! We’ve made a team page to support Oot and his change jar, so if you want to help him raise enough for a cow, you can donate here.]

*     *     *

Just to be clear, Heifer International doesn’t just deal in cows. It works with people around the world to improve their lives in the long term. They don’t give people a loaf of bread or a sack of rice. They provide animals and materials sometimes. But more importantly they provide education. They provide the training and tools to become better, more efficient farmers and business people.

Take Félix Octavio Rosales for example. He’d been farming for many years before he received Heifer training as a part of the Healthy and Sovereign Land project.

Félix and his wife, Mrs. Gómez, had been using chemical fertilizers and pesticides without understanding what they were doing and the harm they were causing to not just their farm, but their health.

They attended multiple workshops and training sessions with the Healthy and Sovereign Land project and were educated in how to make their own fertilizers and pesticides naturally. Instead of spending money on agricultural chemicals, they made their own out of the rabbit and guinea pig manure they already had at hand. Their soil has become nutrient rich, and the produce yield has increased significantly.

Mrs. Gómez has been able to sell the additional produce at the weekly market fair, empowering her to contribute income to her family.

“Another change is in my health,” Félix said. “I see this reflected in the way I feel when I work and when I have to walk long distances; I feel better. I see these changes because the food we eat is natural, without chemicals.”

And all of this was through education alone, provided by Heifer International.

The projects that involve gifts like chickens require training too, like Ndiolle Faye went through.

For many years, Faye’s family lived in poverty, struggling to get two meals a day during the off-season on their farm, and eating mostly millet the rest of the year. Faye was unable to go to school as a child, and though she tried to make it a priority to send her children to school, there was never enough money.

Then Faye joined the Wax Bakh Self-Help Group as a part of a Heifer project.

“Assistance started with a series of trainings, building a hen house and the placement of four hens and an improved breed rooster,” she said. “There was great joy in my family and in the  community. I saw this as an opportunity to move ahead in life.”

She received the gift of a flock of chickens, which quickly grew from 5 birds to 155. Her family’s income greatly increased, and she was able to run a business as she’d always hoped to do.

Less than two years later, she had sold more than 100 chickens. She used that money to buy 2 young rams for the purpose of fattening them up and re-selling them, providing more income and further diversifying her farm. Now she buys and sells rams three times a year, and invests the money into her poultry farm as well as saving more for her family.

She no longer worries about paying for her children’s education. If she doesn’t have the money, she can simply sell some of her chickens at the beginning of the semester to pay for school fees, new clothes, and supplies.

By integrating livestock and agriculture, she increased her income while improving her family’s food security and nutrition. Growing the flock increased the quantity of manure available, which she used to replenish the soil. As a result, her farm yield has increased by 20 percent. She keeps a portion of the harvested produce to add nutritional diversity to their meals.

Now, two years after receiving her flock of chickens, her family eats three nutritious and diverse meals daily, all year long.

Faye has also participated in the Heifer Cornerstone of Passing on the Gift, where she shares her training and a starter flock of birds to families who are in need.

And get this: As of today, she has Passed on the Gift to 11 different families.

“I am a happy woman. I meet my needs, and support my family. I own a poultry farm and we eat well. I can sell poultry anytime we face any challenge. We eat eggs and chicken as we want. And I have basic livestock husbandry skills – all thanks to the Smallholder Income and Nutrition Project.”

***

Okay. Now I’m into it again. I’m excited. Are you feeling it? Because I’m feeling it….

This is what we’re doing with our fundraiser, folks. This is what Heifer International does, and everything you donate to the fundraiser goes to help programs like this.

The gift of Bountiful Harvest training costs $72.

The gift of a flock of chickens, and the training necessary to raise them, is only $20.

Clean water for a whole village costs $300.

A cow, of course, costs $500 dollars. As my son will no doubt explain to you tomorrow on our livestream.

If the world is getting you down, try joining us here at Worldbuilders. You can give a family the chance to be self-reliant. You can help parents feed their children. You can literally change someone’s life forever. Seriously.

Here’s that donate link one more time.

Also posted in a few words you're probably going to have to look up, Heifer International, Oot, Worldbuilders 2017 | By Pat9 Responses

Worldbuilders 2017

Welcome to you, geeks of all creeds and nations. Welcome, my beloved, bookish brethren and sistren. Welcome, my lovely, empathetic, large-hearted people.

It’s time to make the world a better place. It’s time to fly our flags and engage in fabulous ballyhoo. It’s time to feed hungry children (while winning fabulous prizes.)

It’s time for the annual Worldbuilders fundraiser.

Worldbuilders-Logo_Web--less-space

Over the years, people like you have helped Worldbuilders raise more than $7,000,000 to make the world a better place by partnering with charities such as Mercy Corps and First Book.

Our end-of-the-year fundraiser focuses on our favorite charity: Heifer International, an organization that gives people the training and tools to raise themselves out of poverty and starvation. For more than 60 years, Heifer has worked to improve education, sustainable agriculture, and local industry all over the world.

Don’t take my word for it though. Watch this instead. Seriously. It’s only a minute and a half.

This is what Heifer is all about. They don’t just poke food into hungry kids, they make it so families can control their own futures and take care of themselves. Heifer gives families chickens, and sheep so children have milk to drink, eggs to eat, and warm clothes to wear. They provide communities with clean water to drink, building materials to improve homes, and education that helps improve crop yields.

Heifer International helps people help themselves. It gives people the tools so that they can become self-sufficient. Forever.

If you want to be part of that, there are a few different ways you can contribute to the cause:

  • Option 1: The Lottery

This is the simplest option. Just head over to our fundraising page and donate.

When you donate on that page you’ll be entered into our prize lottery, which contains thousands of books, games, comics, and more.

For every $10 you donate on the fundraising page, your name will be entered into our random drawing. So if you donate $30 (enough for a flock of chickens) your name goes in three times. Donate enough for a goat ($120) and your name goes in 12 times. Enough to give clean water to a whole village ($300) you get 30 chances to win.

What’s in the lottery? A lot. So much that if I showed it to you all at once, the raw intensity of the aggregate awesome would cook your brain like a toad thrown into the sun.

So we’ve spread things out so that we can show them to you in all their glory without risking your precious brain. I’ll be posting up some of it here on my blog, but there will be content going up pretty much every weekday on the Worldbuilders website.

If you head over there, you can see *all* the geeky swag we’re giving away on our Lottery Library page. We’ll update it throughout the fundraiser as more donations come in….

You can also check out blogs full of prizes here:

In order to make sure everyone wins prizes they’ll love, when you make a donation, we let you pick what types of stuff you’d like to win…

As an added bonus, there are lots of sub-team pages you can donate to while still being part of the main fundraiser (and lottery).

There’s a team page for Professional Manuscript Critiques, which has a handful of fantastic authors and editors offering to critique your manuscript. If you donate on their page you’re eligible for the same lottery prizes as anyone else, PLUS those critiques.

There’s also The Fishery: Kingkiller Prizes where we have a whole pile of Kingkiller-specific prizes that people have made. There’s things like fan-made art, a beautiful Cthaeh quilt, some hand-made Tak sets, and a lot more… (If you have something Kingkiller you’d like to donate to this mini lottery, get in touch at donations (at) worldbuilders.org.) Again, donating to this team gets you entries to the regular lottery, plus this exclusive lottery of themed goodies.

There’s a bunch of other team pages too. Too many to list here, but if you’re curious you can go here and check them out.

You can also make a team page of your own if you want. Set your own goals. Invite your friends or family. Create your own rewards, or maybe just try to rally people in a fandom you’re fond of….

  • Option 2: Auctions

Sometimes we get donations that are cool…but only to a select group of people. Some people would squee with delight at winning a portal gun, but some people  just wouldn’t be into it.

(sad, unhappy people)

The same thing is true with action figures, musical instruments, manuscripts, collectibles. Signed art and rare books. Cameo appearances in books. Manuscript critiques….

When things like that get donated, we put them up for auction.

All our current auctions are over on the Worldbuilders eBay page. Keep an eye on it. We’ll be adding stuff all the time.

The funds raised through the auctions will be going to Heifer International too, so you’re still helping us have a huge impact on the lives of people who need it.

  • The Sure Thing (The Holiday Gift Option.)

For those of you who want to have an absolute sure thing, we have an online store.

We have geekery from my books, games, t-shirts, and tons of other stuff for your perusal. You won’t be entered in our prize lottery, but all the profits will go to Worldbuilders and help make the world a better place.

Fun and Games.

Every year, we also do some fun events for Worldbuilders. We will be posting up whimsical videos on our youtube channel as always, and organizing another video game tournament along the lines of last year’s Overwatch Tournament.

And, in following of the tradition of the last two years, I’ll be…

  • Streaming on Twitch

For the last couple of years I’ve been livestreaming on Twitch to raise awareness of the charity. In the past I’ve done Q&A sessions about the craft of writing or mental health. We’ve played board games, had sing-alongs and blanket forts.

I’ve also played games, obviously. The last two years I’ve played Fallout 4 and Witcher 3. I’m not sure what I’m going to do this year, but I’ve heard good things about Destiny 2….

My Twitch schedule through the end of the fundraiser will be MONDAY – FRIDAY 4PM-7pm CST

(Unfortunately, I won’t be starting until Wednesday the 15th, because I’m away from my streaming computer right now.)

Note: I might also be streaming on the weekends. But those days will be more erratic, especially as I’ll be at PAX Unplugged from November 17th to the 20th, and I’ll also be skipping November 22nd to the 25th to spend Thanksgiving with my family.

The fabulous Amanda might do a stream or two on days where I’m not available, too. She seemed pretty excited to show you her Stardew Valley farm. I’m also going to bring in some other people to play games with, make funny talk, and just generally have a good time.

But you won’t catch wind of any of this, if you haven’t headed over here to my twitch channel, followed me there, then changed your settings so you get a notification when I start a new stream.

Important Links and Contact Information

Our website will have all of the information you’ll need, including how much money we’ve raised and how many prizes are currently in the lottery. Worldbuilders also has a Facebook page and a Twitter account for those of you who like to have the internet injected directly into your veins.

Have a question that wasn’t answered here? Check out our handy FAQ.

Want to donate something to Worldbuilders? Help us spread the word? Do a stretch goal? Write a story for your local paper? Drop us a line here: donations [at] worldbuilders.org.

All right folks. Are you ready? I’m so ready.

Let’s do this thing.

pat

P.S. Just in case you missed it, here’s one more link to our Fundraiser donation page.

Also posted in a few words you're probably going to have to look up, calling on the legions, cool news, Worldbuilders 2017 | By Pat15 Responses

The Tak FAQ

Well folks, we’re in the home stretch of the Tak kickstarter. Since my last blog on the subject we’ve launched some new stuff, like a much-requested cloth board and the opportunity to buy Devi’s board separately from the boxed set, so that more people can afford to pick it up.

1a5e006cecaa06cf2593880636d5887a_original(Also available in the appropriately-named Gaelet’s Pack.)

As I write this, we’ve just topped $800,000 in the kickstarter. Almost 7,500 people have jumped in to play with us, and there’s only four days left for people who want to get in on the action. So if you know of anyone who might be interested, this would be the time to ping them.

Since we started the kickstarter, I’ve been fielding questions here in the comments of the blog and on twitter. But some of them have come up enough that it feels like we’re overdue for an FAQ.

  • So… I thought Tak was just a different name for Go.

Nope. Sorry. Different game.

  • Is this game accessible to the blind?

A little, but ultimately, not really.

When this question first came up, I thought we were pretty good. The pieces have different shapes, so you can tell them apart by touch. What’s more, the Arcanist’s board has grooves, so you can even feel the squares.

But then I looked into it, and saw what a game really needs to be usable by the blind. Among other things, it requires pieces that can’t be accidentally knocked over. And that would involve us prototyping some sort of pegged pieces and a pegged board to go with it. And there just isn’t enough time.

My suggestion? Maybe start a conversation in the Tak subreddit and see if someone has and idea about adapting the pieces. Or if you have a 3D printer, you could design and print your own pieces that are more blind-compatible. There’s a plethora of options.

  • Can I make my own set?

If we weren’t cool with that, we wouldn’t be encouraging people to do it as a stretch goal. We know if you play the game you’ll like it and probably want to pick up a copy. But to play it, you’re going to have to make up a set.

Luckily, you can throw a set together from almost anything:

ChL3heKVEAAFBdn(Like Post-its.)

And play almost anywhere:

ChmDkW-W0AAfrxG(Like the Great Wall of China.)

Some folks have gone really crazy making their own sets:

CiRg7EqXEAIsaFj(Like this one made of iron. I think of as the Anti-Faen set.)

And that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface, if you want to see a bunch more photos, you should check out the #Takgamephoto hashtag on twitter.

  • Can I make sets and then sell them?

Well… no. You shouldn’t do that. Because that’s kind-of a dick move.

Remember the kickstarter we’re running? Where we are… y’know, selling the game that we made? Selling something that belongs to someone else isn’t really a cool thing to do. Above and beyond the legality it’s just not respectful. James hammered this lovely, elegant game out of the pure awesome in his brain. And you know how he makes a living? Wait for it…. he sells games.

So yeah. Don’t do that. Kinda rude.

  • Why does it cost actual money to ship this thing? Don’t you have a magical teleporter to Europe?

Okay I know that’s not what you guys are actually saying, but the truth is, it kinda *sounds* like what you’re saying when you complain about how much international shipping costs.

I know it’s pricey. But please keep in mind that international shipping requires a box being carefully packed, then moved thousands of miles. This requires multiple planes and trucks. Multiple people. It is complicated and hard, and hard things cost money. I mean, there’s a *reason* spice used to cost so much, and it’s not just that the Fremen had a monopoly.

That said, we are sympathetic to your plight. And we were wondering if there was a way for multiple people to order games together and save on shipping. So we asked Carol, the true Mistress of Shipping Questions over at Cheapass, and here’s what she gave us.

I’ve fielded a few direct messages from people, and explained that all they need to do is back for one person (at even just the $5 level), and then do their add-ons through the pledge manager for up to another 10 games. That lets them see the exact postage as they go, and select the precise collection of products they want for their friend-group or buying club.

So there you go. Just team up with some friends and everyone saves money.

  • I have an idea for a rule change!

We’re pretty confident in the rules at this point. We wouldn’t have launched the game if we weren’t sure that the game was good.

  • I AM FROTHY WITH RAGE THAT YOU’RE MAKING THIS GAME AND NOT THE ONE I JUST INVENTED IN MY HEAD.

1. That is not a question.

2. I am happy you have a game in your head. You should make that game.

  • How can there be an Edema Ruh board or University board if Kvothe has never played before?

There’s a game I’ve played my whole life called euchre, and I’m guessing that 90% of you haven’t ever played it. Most of you have never played Go even though there’s probably group of devoted players in your nearby college or town. Ditto with bridge, or Sheepshead. Or any of  number of very common games.

Relax. Kvothe was only 12 when he lost his troupe, and he’s been kinda busy since then. Most importantly, not everyone experiences everything a culture has to offer.

  • I still don’t really understand how to play the game…

We have a video that will help with that.

  • How high do you think the kickstarter will go?

I honestly have no idea. Before we started, I was kinda hoping we’d get past $500K, but we passed that more than a week ago. I really don’t know where things are going to end up.

At this point, I’m just trying to be happy that so many people have been enjoying the game.

CiTPYTIUYAAJIhS

That said, I *have* been spending a lot of time over at Kicktraq. There’s a bunch of graphs and charts that juggle the kickstarter data over there, and I’m mildly addicted to it. Here’s a link if you’re the sort of person who likes graphs.

If you have any other questions, feel free to comment here on the blog, or drop them over on the kickstarter itself, where James and his crew will tackle them.

Later Space Cowboys,

pat

P.S. And a final link to the Kickstarter, for those of you would like to go check it out directly.

Also posted in a few words you're probably going to have to look up, cool things, FAQ, side projects | By Pat54 Responses

Question Bedtime – Mornings Come and Go

It’s really not surprising that I’m a fan of M.C. Frontalot. We run in the same circles after all. We have a lot of the same friends, go to the same conventions…. I think we’ve even performed in the same shows a couple of different times.

What *is* surprising is how long it took for me to become a fan. I’ve known about him for ages, seen him perform, sat next to him at signings….

But here’s the thing. You can know someone, know about their work, and even enjoy their work without being a fan. For me, being a fan isn’t the same as just occasionally buying, listening to, or liking someone’s art.

The line between being a fan and a guy-who-enjoys-your-art can be blurry. But I know I’ve crossed that line when I feel compelled to spread the art around. For example, I regularly buy copies of Peter S. Beagle’s Last Unicorn to have handy when I want to give it away to people. That’s not something I do for every book I just enjoy.

This is what pushed me firmly into the fan camp for Frontalot:

MC_Frontalot_-_Question_BedtimeIt’s hard for me to express in words how much I adore this CD.

You know when you love something like a TV show and a new episode comes out? And you’re excited because you get more of that thing you love?

Finding this CD wasn’t like that for me. At all.

Listening to this CD was like finding something I loved that I never even knew I wanted before. It’s like it filled a hole in my soul I never knew existed.

It’s a collection of songs that retell classic folk stories. From the familiar little red riding hood to the delightfully obscure  Wakjąkága.

Do I even need to tell you how delighted I was to be listening to this collection of folktales and run into one that I didn’t even know? Do you know how rare that is for me? But here I am, already enjoying twelve colours of awesome out of these songs, grooving along, and suddenly *bam* Wakjąkága. Eating his own butt. And I’m like, what? Seriously? Did you just out-obscure me mythologically? While rapping? 

Okay. I gotta calm down a little.

Last year at a convention, I go up to Frontalot and gush to such an extent that I’m probably lucky he didn’t signal security. Later on, he asks me if I’d be interested in helping him spread the word about the album by helping him debut one of the videos he made for it.

Which brings us to today.

The Song is Mornings Come and Go.

Watch it. Watch it ten times.

Here’s some words from brilliant, crazy brain of Frontalot himself:

I drew mostly from a Norwegian fairy tale called The Mastermaid, which I had been enamored of when I was little, reading it in my mom’s large illustrated copy of Idries Shah’s World  Tales. I think this text is identical to the one he used: http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/norway120.html

I also pulled details (the tasks that the ogre assigns to the boy, the magic obstacles the maid throws down while escaping) from other countries’ versions of the story, including Nix Naught Nothing and Lady Feather Flight.

The Norwegian version has three acts: the boy protected the maid in the house of the beast, the obstacle flight, and the forgotten fiance, all of which come, I think, from even earlier folk tale traditions (forgotten fiance even figures into Hindu myths of Rama and Sita). I end the song at the very beginning of act III to emphasize what a terrible cad the ostensible hero of the story is.

The video is by Cheyenne Picardo. She decided that the story matches up well with the John Hughes movie Some Kind of Wonderful, with Stoltz as the boy, Thompson as the ogre, and Masterson as the mastermaid. Then she re-cast that as an OKCupid nightmare with local NY personalities: Bob the Drag Queen (officially announced to be on the upcoming season of Ru Paul’s Drag  Race, though appearing out of drag here), Hye Yun Park (star of “Hey Yun“), and Melissa Roth (NY stage actress). The big rotating kiss scene is a shot-for-shot from SKoW.

So… there’s a lot going on! You can explore that as deeply or as shallowly as you like.

The other videos from Question Bedtime were:

And all my other official music videos are in this playlist.

So there you go. I’ve been waiting to gush about this album for *months* now. But I had to wait until the video was done.

If you’d like a copy of the album for your very own, and you like supporting artists who make awesome things, you can buy it on Bandcamp or iTunes.

Myself, I’ve already bought six or seven copies. One for each car I drive (yes, I still use real CD’s) and others to give away as presents.

Share and enjoy everyone,

pat

Also posted in a few words you're probably going to have to look up, cool things, music | By Pat40 Responses
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