Monday, November 30, 2009

Monday Morning The Vat was just fine. Reloaded.

We had a good Thanksgiving. Both of our families were dealt with without any violence. My family can be particularly difficult, but they were good.

With the ongoing changes in search engine tech it is time for me to begin recoding our websites with CSS and html 5 compatability. For years I have just been wedging stuff into the sites wherever I can make it go. The web maintenance end of this operation is really nearly a full time job in itself. I am going to start with the Art by SVC site. I am focusing on getting templates in place so I can build the site faster and be able to add to it with more ease. I also want to make our Google Ads, Stevia, Apple and PetSmart ads fit in better. We make very little from them but it does pay our webserver fees in the fall. Every little bit helps.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Susan's Black Friday Sale Experiment.

Dragon Storm Booster ten packs $125.00 each.

The Order Page is right here. Check it out.

Twelve different 5x7 unmatted prints at $6.00 each

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Good Morning! We started talking already.

Sue is relaxing, the foot rubs, breakfast in bed, forced exercise and more are having a positive effect. Mocha and Mac are assisting in their own ways. Mocha is taking Sue for walks and Mac is forcing Sue to sit by pinning her in a chair. It does not get any better than that.

We started talking about the publishing issues facing us. The only really firm thought we have is that some projects will have to be classified as "tinker" projects. That means giving them a very low priority and to avoid feeling bad if they do not get done. Good start. Next we need to create a full list of the projects and evaluate each.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Relax and Contemplate

We have finally exited the hectic, for us, nine months of the year. I am taking some time to pamper my Sue, and once she is relaxed we will take a look back at the past season and begin looking at what we can do in the coming 2010 season. The year has been a treat for us. Sure there were some rough spots, but that is what makes life interesting.

I have managed to do about half of what I wanted to in 2009. And even then I was too often forced to finish projects with more haste than would be prudent.

It seems to me that I am going to have to look over all of the projects and determine which to get done this next year and which we put off to 2011, or even later. We have an art business, game business, broadcast business, programming business and web business to look at. Each could easily consume all of our time. Sometimes by spreading ourselves over such a territory we do not meet our own standards, yet each has a place in paying the bills. If we drop one will we replace the lost income by refocusing our thinking? That is a tough question to answer.

Oddly, I am looking forward to the next year of work, even if we continue to be Jacks-of-all-trades.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sue is safe at home!

Mocha is dancing, Mac is singing and I am grinning! Night All!

Sunday Morning

Saturday at MWFF went good for Sue. She sounded both cheerful and tired last night. She is spending nights doing commissions and tagging on a couple of hours sleep, then back to the dealers room. I am hoping she can drive home tonight at the end of the Con. I want to see her.

I am continuing to build the resources for scenario and town building for the Go Time/Crypt Crawl system. I keep getting ideas as I work, so I have started on an article of when a GM really should and should not call for a contest roll. I know most of our GM's have this knowledge already, but some are confused by the question.

I am working on a new Con List page for next year. I will be adding it soon.

Mocha has just come up to let me know I need a walk...

Saturday, November 21, 2009

I can not help myself

Sometimes the Onion has an interesting take on life, and the world around us. So, here is a link:

Area Man Passionate Defender Of What He Imagines Constitution To Be

Good Morning! and a few other thoughts.

I heard from Sue late last night and she is happy with the responses of patrons at Midwest Furfest. It is going very well.

For myself I am finally beginning to enjoy this "lonely" time. It takes me a couple of days to adjust. I have done a lot of reading the last couple of days and it has brought me to think about writing a couple of articles.

One is on the handling of "clues" when running RPG games. I would argue that clues come in two flavors: necessary and luxury. Some clues are essential to the success of the party. These clues need to be delivered by the GM. That means that the characters must get the necessary clues by using their skills, no matter what the dice say. They need to be able to read the sign, or find the notes, or solve the puzzle. The luxury clues can be missed, they are not essential, just nice to have.

I think that I need a way in the adventures I am working on to let the GM know which clues are necessary. I think that having a "Clue" section on the encounter form would give a place to point out the clues. I have just skipped over to my format for encounters and rooms and done some work on it. The sections of a Crypt Crawl/Go Time encounter sheet now look like this:

1. Quick Looks: (Things the players see without a contest.)

2. Hidden Sights: (Things the players note with a contest.)

3. The Story Here: (To help the GM role-play the encounter.)

4. Clues: (Information necessary for the players to acquire.)

5. Traps: (Natural dangers and set dangers that can hurt the characters.)

6. The Opposition: (The opposition is to be overcome by combat or role-playing.)

7. The Friendlies: (The potential friendlies involved.)

8. Obvious Treasure: (Right out in the open, no roll needed.)

9. Found Treasure: (Hidden treasures, roll needed to find.)

10. Special Treasures: (Treasures that have a special significance, such as Relics. Easy to find.)

Everything takes more time to do than one expects. Writing, in particular, may go easily or it may fight back. Sometimes I spend hours on a short work and other times it seems to flow. I am never sure when to "give up" and move on, returning to the pieces I am stuck on later.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday, Alone and Wondering

I have started going through my traditional morning wake up sequence, but it does not have that "something" that makes it enjoyable. It is all different when Sue is not here to drink coffee with me.

I tried moving the alarms from 8am to 7am. Life has started making 11 am a time to be moving. (I know, too early for humans to be moving rationally.) My first attempt saw me sleeping right through the alarms. My eyes came open at about 9:30. This may not be as easy as it seems.

As usual my mind in the morning is swimming with ideas of what to do and I am having trouble catching one of the ideas to focus on. I think I will start with a small Crypt Crawl idea. I really need to formalize the Terrible Two charts I have wandering around on scraps of paper. Then I will get the new Storm Howler artwork available as prints on Etsy.

I have not heard from Sue yet. I need more coffee. I will write more later.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sue is safe at MWFF

I have heard from Sue. She has checked into the hotel. She will set up in the morning for the Con.

As for me, freedom has gone to my head and I have laid around all day. Ahh, well, maybe I will work yet tonight, but I think not.

Sue is on her way to Midwest FurFest!

Sue has just hit the road to travel to Midwest Furfest in Riverwoods Illinois. I have turned out most of the house lights, set the coffee maker to just one mug at a time, and I guess I am ready for this. I'll worry about her. I know she is perfectly capable, but the macho in me still worries, I can not help it.

It was interesting getting ready for this one. Sue's mother has needed some TLC and Sue has pitched in, while trying to get everything done for the Con. My mother needed help Tuesday and that took out most of the day for me. Despite all of the extra going's on I think she is ready, but it has been a long week for both of us.

With Sue on the road I am going party by getting caught up on a lot of work that needs to be done.

Now, I am going to get some more coffee, take a deep breath, and plan my days.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday Morning, clear, sharp day.

It looks like Sue and I have more laundry to dirty than I thought. Now that I have soap I have started a serious campaign to get caught up. I did four loads yesterday and I have a load in now. There is still at least one more to go. sheesh. I have developed the habit of washing dishes daily to a point where I am keeping up. Now I am trying to do it twice a day, just to make each quicker.

I ordered and got new socks for us. Two pairs of wonderful winter socks and six pairs of work socks. I also picked up four leg warmers. These babies are organic cotton socks and they feel sweet. I am going to order more of the winter socks now that we have put them on. For the winter we have set the house temperature to 57-58 degrees to cut the bills. We will need some warmth in the clothing.

I am doing better at keeping up with the Etsy art shop and the result is immediate. *sigh* I almost wish working on it did not create orders.

When it gets warm today I need to get outside and spray our ever present box elder beetles. I still need to get to the leaves in the yard. Did not do it yesterday. Most are at the road, but I need them well out in the street for the city pick-up. If I am too slow I will have to bag the rest.

Sue completed another painting yesterday, a commission, It looks good to me.

I have started keeping track of my calorie intake. Obviously I like good food way too much. I am actually doing the the tracking in a diary folder I set up in Yojimbo. That is where I am typing this. I have eating and herbs taken down the page from here. I will not inflict those on you. I am having my second mug of coffee without cream. Cream in coffee is 60 calories. Plus, the Ahab's Revenge tastes good without extras. The cream is a nice topper, but not essential. Yes, I use real heavy cream in the coffee, not half and half. Cream tastes better.

My job today will be to run support for Sue and to prep for the Con. I have much other work to do, but it is slipping into the weekend while Sue is gone.

Now I need to go rouse the pretty lady and get her going. She is having a hard time getting up this morning.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sunday, not a day of rest.

Sue has just left for her mothers. Her mother called and is stuck in bed. It is the back problem. Looks like her mother has a herniated disk. They are trying to decide what to do about it.

I have reset my phone until feb. My Virgin Mobile phone may be rather a poor tool, but it is on pay-as-you-go so it costs me $100.00 a year. I just don't use the phone much. My computer has mostly replaced a hand held phone for me. A Smartphone would get more use, but not as a phone. A good smartphone would take some pressure off of my computer, but the contract price is a problem. Maybe the answer is something like an ipod touch. I can see that Sue's phone is an asset in work and seeing empirical evidence of the business value is better than reading an opinion. I have a problem with the reviews on the iphone/touch. Most reviewers seem to be either apple haters who do not use the iphone, or apple lovers who can not see the flaws. The difficulty is sorting them out. Leo Laporte is an interesting one. He like the iphone, but wants better. He buys every iphone killer. Takes two days to learn it. Spends a week singing the new phones greatness, then returns to the iphone due to the new phones problems.

Looks like it will be a fractured day for me. Sue is being forced to "bounce" around today and it is goining to be a pain in the butt for her. I will need to run back-up for her. She has another painting to finish before Midwest Furfest. I am going to have to stick to simple work. I will not be able to become too engrossed in any project.

I just got the Shards of Honor Audiobook by Lois McMaster Bujold. The narrator is Grover Gardner. Just starting to listen to it. Since I will be bouncing to help Sue, I will have to listen to it a couple of times to actually "hear" it all. I find that it takes me several times listening to get most of a book. Even books I have heard a dozen times (Like the Rex Stout books) still have some surprises in them.

I have a good pile of work in front of me. I finally got out and acquired laundry soap. Dishes are calling. I also got new vaccum bags, so that job is up. I had new DS cards at PentaCon that are still not up on the web. The Crypt Crawl Village and adventures are still calling me. Sue needs inventory/printing done for Con. Etsy needs maintenence. Leaves need to be in the street for city pick-up. The subjects for podcasts keep swimming through my mind, I just do not know how to make the time for them.

I have started a journal/diary in the Yojimbo to try to watch my eating and health.

With just three cups of coffee in me, I think I need to attack the kitchen, make coffee and do dishes. I will see at the end of the day how much I can get done.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Saturday is here. No surprise in that.

Sue and I have already been talking about politics, the world, the future. No answers were forthcoming, but sometimes it helps just to talk.

Interesting articles on "flash" memory ideas. My interpretation is that Trauma causes the memories of the traumatic experience to be created using the emotional side of the mind. Those memories are powerful and persistent. They are also usually wrong in the details, or totally false, it is not the emotions job to be logical or reasonable. It would explain why accident viewers disagree on what they saw. This is also used by con men who take a piece of data out of context and shout it loud. They cause Trauma and false powerful memories.

I will not go into examples, but I will say that we need to look carefully at our own memories and rationally modify them with the actual facts. That means researching the original information rather than accepting the words of some strange "expert". Whenever people quote a second source I feel the need to actually look up the original quote to see what the original speaker was actually talking about. I expect people to mold their words to their own perspective, whether they mean to or not.

Friday, November 13, 2009

New Wolf art is on the way.

Sue has just turned over a new wolf painting she has completed to me for scanning and prep for printing. I am liking what I see here. Scanning and assembling large paintings is something that I set aside a good deal of time for. If everything goes well the job is done in an hour, but if it turns weird on me it can take several hours and be a whole day job. I just never know. This one will start as four scans.

Yesterday was one of those days. A bunch of trifling "stuff" kept coming up and I let it get under my skin. I always waste a lot of time once I become agitated. I need to learn better self control. Oh well, too busy learning other new tricks.

I did get a new Crypt Crawl RPG item sheet completed. This one has several items that are used with the animals I have been putting up on the blog. Now that I have all of the pieces ready I can go through and do the Beastmaster cards. (Thought pops into head. Excuse me, but I need bandages on the next sheet.) OK, back, bandages they will be on item sheet 2015.

I have found that once I have 12 or more programs running, on 8 different desktops, my portable starts to slow down visibly. I suppose the two screens and two printers do not help any. I usually end up adding programs as I work, like working on this and skipping to bandages. Right now I am at 14 programs running. I am wondering if I can set up an old machine with skype/canary/chat. I will need to look into that.

I have started slow cooking some chicken. Sue will make chicken soup tomorrow. Then we can have chicken meals sunday and monday.

Enough of this, on to other work.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The morning routine.

It is a good thing that I have a lot of coffee as I wake up. Since I am never sure what to post, I am going to do my morning routine. This is partially for you readers and partially to help me remember what I am supposed to do.

start e-mail, respond or act as necessary. (I immediately post card ideas for the DS blog from our e-mail links on the card submissions page, etc.).

Start Skype, check for messages, check open conversations for new comments. (My skype is markeharmon if you want to contact me that way.)

Open ichat for our internal communications and aim contacts (AIM is

start Netnewswire. This checks for blog updates. several game blogs, DS people I know who have revealed they have a blog. I also pick up the science channels and blog news. Sometimes I get bogged down here. (Did you know that some frogs can cross species breed? Neither did I. A little Dragon's Blood in them maybe?)

start ical calendar to see what is on the menu for today.

Start Canary, my simple Twitter app. Check local flint news. (My Twitter is markellisharmon)

start itunes a set it to pick up new podcasts.

start Awaken and set daily alarms.

Fire up Yojimbo, good program for holding snippets etc.

Check for on-line orders, print and pull them.

Log into Etsy to update and check for patron conversations. Did a renewal too.

During this process I get Sue here coffee, make breakfast, get herbs in us.

(Herbs are a side effect of being uninsured. As self employed our last estimate for a decent plan was $14,400.00 per year. It has not gone down.)

Do a few minutes of work out. Making time for this is difficult, I skip it way too often.

Walk Mocha. She needs a short trip outside in the morning. Check her food, water and emergency pee pads. (She uses the pads occasionally if we don't respond properly. It is all our fault, of course.) Then I take a few minutes and explain to Mocha everything she needs to get done during the day. While she may not be very efficient with her assignments, she provides a great excuse for why "stuff" did not get done.

Finally I open MarsEdit and write a pithy blog post on one, or more, blogs, which is what I am doing now. And, I am doing it now to avoid doing the dishes *sigh* I doubt that is going to work, I can not make excuses forever. Besides, Sue likes to cook in a clean kitchen. I clean it and she cooks in it. Good deal really. Ahhh, I need more coffee, that will buy me a couple more minutes.

Pulled orders, need to pack them. Sipping coffee. A moment to relax.

It has now been four hours since starting today. Dishes are still staring at me. I see that the garbage needs dealing with and that I am out of vacuum bags.

For the rest of my day I have a shopping trip to do and I want to spend a good amount of time working on the Whispering Village for Crypt Crawl. I still have a lot of web updates for DS, so I will "break" by doing some of that. Now I will post this and get to work. Time for a second work out stint.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Home Again, Home Again

We are safe and sound back in the Secret Clanhold. The quiet hallways and rooms seem, somehow, almost dangerous. Hopefully the Pylos Agents lost our scent and went off to Disney World. That should take care of them.

Taking today off, obviously the mind has not arrived back yet.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sunday Morning at PentaCon

Here we are, Sunday morning and I am considering the effects of keeping the same body for all of these years. *sigh* I think the new one is still on backorder.

The responses to Crypt Crawl have been good, so I need to complete the next several pieces of the game. Converting our experiences, notes, cards, memos and audio into a useable form is taking a good amount of time. The strange part of this is that I am enjoying working on a new game and world. I want to start by completing the Crypt Crawl Animal types so I can do the Beastmaster Expertise. Mounts, rodents, crocodiles, fish, snakes, birds, spiders, squids, sharks, insect, scorpions, crabs and ants should do just fine. The monstrous forms of these would be in the Horrors or Spawn listings.

I also need to formalize our Terrible Two charts. We are using a 1 to six by 1-6 format, giving 36 equal possibilities for each chart. We are working on a general chart and optional charts for attacking, defending, skill use and initiative Terrible Twos.

OK, my mind is swimming just a little too much. Need to eat breakfast and pack.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Friday at Pentacon, A day at the Convention

We arrived at PentaCon at about 1PM. Gaming had started at 9AM so there was a good number of people at the Con when we arrived. People were friendly and it was good to see familiar faces. Sometimes when working in solitaire in the hidden Clanhold makes me forget why I do all this work. Seeing our people makes me remember. Our patrons were good to us today, much cash was collected.

The air in the convention center is not having much of a negative effect on me, so I will be running Crypt Crawl at 2-5pm and 7:30 to 10:30. I plan on running for about an hour and a quarter, take a break and do another hour and a quarter on the session. It will run up the characters to, probably third circle.

Several people here at the con have already played in the Crypt. As usual I will forget most of the comments from people at the show. I am hoping they will follow up with e-mails from the Crypt site about there experiences in the Crypt.

The card sets are going well, but people are still having trouble adapting to them. Several times people have picked up 3-4 Deluxe Wizard or Valarian cards. I have had to point out it would be a better deal for them if they got the standard sets instead.

Right now it is 5 AM, I awoke and now I think I will go get some sleep.

Friday, November 6, 2009

just a quick note on PentaCon

As usual, I am slow getting going, but we should be on the road in 30 minutes.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Wake up procedure engaged

Morning stream of thought: Heat shoulder, stiff this morning, make coffee, walk dog, get coffee to Sue, check weight (yay! finally dropping!), check e-mail (looks like a junk this morning.),

check blogs (Yes, I have an RSS reader, and I check the DS peoples blogs and ours, Hi Pixiejorge, and others! I see you! I just don't respond much, but I am interested.). OK, need more coffee, NOW! Vibrator for shoulder, still stiff, got to be careful with it - card cutting rough on joints.

Sip coffee, second mug black. Good quality coffee. I am cutting down on my cream in coffee.

Considering todays work. Not going to be able to cut many cards, so no sense in printing a lot. Packing for Con, Sue wants some prints, maybe I can get to some of the web work I have missed. Need a DS blog update. I got another Crypt Crawl monster up last night. I am writing them up a little more complete based on what people want in the Monster Parade.

I would love to work on CC dungeon and village, but I am going to bet against that. I need pages for all of the new cards. I think that is 12 write-ups. Since we are doing the Wizard Set I should get something up on the 20 wizard cards. That would be 32 pages of writing... I don't think so.

Time to shut down this station and move to the primary work station.

I am never sure what to do in a blog, but here it is.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Shoulder says it is time to call it a day.

Printing, laminating, typing, cutting and cornering has proceeded through out the day. The arthritis in my right shoulder has begun firing shooting pains as it moves. I am thinking that that is the end of the work day. I could go further, but tomorrow would then be a true pain.

I do have the new releases from October printed. Plus we have new sets 5, 9, and 10. We also have three new Spirit Walker cards.

Not as much new as I would like for DS, but there you go.

What we will also have is a couple of Crypt Crawl rules books, 40 demo characters, some character sheets and a chance to see what people think. I will also have all the pdf's on a CD for people to load them to there computers.

Well, see you in the morning.

Today's schedule is, well, goofed up

I am getting a good start here, but I am, as always, behind. I will have new DS cards and sets at PentaCon, but the restock is not going to happen. I'm afraid that the time to put up the Crypt Crawl beta has already worn me down, so I am not going to push. Life is too much fun to bury my head in work and miss what rally counts.

Had a fun game last night. Yeah, that is right, I played several hours of Crypt and did not work. Experimenting with some politics along with the normal smashing and bashing. The group found a Horror trapping a farm family. They, of course, stepped in and saved them. The family was in general poor condition. They talked and found out these people were tenent farmers on the local lords land. They get "survival" level food and goods, and that is all. Two of the players befriended and healed the farmers. Then one of the characters hired the farmers to look for herb ingrediants, paying in gold. They made friends, the word will spread.

Today I have to go shopping for PentaCon food, cut and corner cards, put prices on the card sets and stare at the wall and think. I have a long piece I am working on for the Crypt Blog, (What is Table Top Role Playing?) but it is taking time, not a simple question. I think I will work on starting animals for the crypt and put that up on the blog. I also need to do the web for the new deluxe cards and the Rogue card set.

OK, time to take this machine out of the bedroom, stop staring at the pretty Sue and get to my work station.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Working and thinking, what a time.

I have spent my morning shopping, laminating, shipping orders, and catching up on e-mails.

In the background here I have a piece playing about the coming Google Wave and wondering how this could be used to run a game.

This thought has been in my mind since I read that there is a whole community of gamers that play on the internet using different communication methods involving chats and sms. I don't know how that works, yet. I would like to know more. It seems like their are a lot of game groups out there that play different and I wonder if there is something available that I should be adding.

Well, back to work.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Monday Morning, not the song I want to hear.

OK, it is Monday Morning a way too early. Having gotten the Crypt Crawl Beta up I would really like to bury my tired head in a pillow for a few more hours and then get caught up on housework. Maybe listen to an audio book, maybe watch a couple of Babylon 5 episodes. I see that there is a Battle Star Movie - The Plan available. I wonder if it is any good. I liked the show, but I am not sure.

Anyway, I need to get DS cards/web done. Sue has sent me some artwork for cards I have not even looked at. I wonder what cards we will have by Friday? It will be interesting to see. Based on web orders the Universal Blood Surge is going to be very popular.

I am only going to make a few Deluxe Cards of the new cards in the sets. We will do them, but I really expect people to want the sets.

I think I will start with a web search and write up what I need to put up for pages. At least it will get me a handle on what I need to do for the web. Then a check of the art Sue has done that I need to make into cards. While I am doing the second I can begin printing cards that are ready.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

November 1st, Crypt Crawl goes up!

The Beta is public! You can find the downloads for the new RPG right here!

I had hoped to get more GM material done before today, but that just did not work out today. I have roughs of what I have, but they are not ready to put up.

The next couple of days will be focused on the new DS items and printing, so Crypt Crawl work time will become much shorter.