Sunday, December 27, 2009

Starwalker Perrin Rynning, reporting for duty

It's really ironic, in its way. Reality t.v. never really "grabbed" me, for a variety of reasons. One is that I'm perfectly capable of embarrassing myself on my own, and I've never felt the need to bring all the world in on the fun. Another is that none of the concepts around which reality t.v. is built have caught my attention.

That all changed when I got word about a show called "Starwalker"

The chance to become an astronaut rallied me. I've wanted to be an astronaut all my life, but the usual routes (military service, college) have not been available. But now, a group of visionaries have decided to use reality t.v. to put space exploration in the reach of everyone on earth. Don't get me wrong: I would dearly love to have a spare $200,000 USD to spend on a Virgin Galactic trip, but that's not within reach right now.

But a shot on a reality t.v. show? Okay, I can handle that.

The show has revealed that the first two 'elimination challenges' are, in order, a half-marathon (a wee bit more than 13 miles) and a "boating challenge" (which has not been clarified yet). I've walked 7.5 miles over the last week, trying to set up routes for building up my endurance, and working on my breathing. Of course, the most important things in the show is teamwork and problem-solving, so I've also got to keep my mental game sharp.

Frankly, I'm "in it to win it", but "winning" in this case is not limited to just being the last Starwalker standing. I'd be lying if I said that I didn't want to be the winner, but I'm also interested in helping the show have a second season, and a third, and hopefully a spinoff set on the Moon. (Though they'll probably have to change the name. Think about it, but not too hard...)

They show's bigwigs still want more applicants, though apparently there's a second "wave" or something that won't open until March or so. But they've got a Facebook page as well as their own web-domain, so anyone can follow along if they so desire. If you're interested in space exploration in any way, you could do a lot worse than support this show.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

And now for something completely different

Per the advice from Darren Rouse's "31 Days To A Better Blog" challenge, 

... here are a few "elevator pitch" drafts for "Perrin's Oddments":

"Life as a tabletop player character"

"I'm not a gamer, I'm a player character!"

"Gaming inspiration for real life"

"What would your character do?"

"Okay, your game console has just died. What will you do now?"

"Tabletop RPGs: Still relevant, and let me tell you why"

... more to come as inspiration strikes...

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Expanded character idea auditions

It's been a while since I worked with the Oddment Hunter. I won't say that I've gotten bored with the concept, but Jack seems to be living in something of a vacuum. So, let's see what happens if I give him a motley and additional supporting castmembers:


  • Fairest (Dragonkin) Mostly because exploring Draconic arrogance in a physically attractive mortal form might be interesting, especially if he or she "deigns" to become a genuine friend to Jack and the rest of the Motley
  • Darkling (Mirrorskin) Mostly because every team needs a master of disguise, but it might also be fun to explore how such a person might form an inner core identity as a way to stabilize all the roles he or she assumes and discards
  • Wizened (Brewer) Chemistry is the great equalizer, but a skilled brewmaster can be even more valuable.
  • Elemental (Manikin): Mechanical people are just cool.
  • Beast (Swimmerskin, manta ray): The story's set in Berkeley, close to the ocean. What it's like for an ocean life-form to live in a very cold and somewhat polluted body of water is another question entirely.


  • Fairest (Flowering): Possible love interest for Jack, based on shared interest in Goblin Fruit. Conflict over her membership in the Spring Court; Jack doesn't like to be told how to act and think.
  • Ogre (Gristlegrinder): Rival for "Oddment Hunter" title or post or whatever; specializes in tokens that must be harvested from still-living creatures, generally represents the path of monstrosity that tempts Jack far more often than he would admit. Winter Court. Same Keeper as Jack. Escaped earlier but took much longer to acquire a place in the Freehold and mortal society.
  • Elemental (Stormlord): member of the Bishophric of Ravens, regularly offers Jack help and membership in that Order.
  • Darkling (Tunnelgrub): member of the Margravate of the Brim. Thinks Jack would fit right in with the Margravate. Offers Jack tidbits and membership. Jack must usually bribe him with an Oddment to get him to back off.


  • Coffeeshop operator - mentioned in a previous post.
  • Beauty school manager - Where Jack gets some of his Glamour recharge.
  • Hunter team - They know something about him, and it makes for more interesting storytelling if he gets to know them
  • Mother - Does she know that "Richard" is not her son?
  • Father - Does he care that "Richard" is toeing the line a lot more than he used to?
  • Cousins - Rich has hinted to Jack that at least one of the cousins is another Fetch.
  • Other relatives - Aunts and uncles, and batches of nieces/nephews and other relations.


"Rich" (fetch) - Rich has to represent something that Jack might have been if the Gentry had never taken an interest in him... though there should still be some distinctions. Rich has (at the beginning, anyway) embraced the degenerate lifestyle that Jack decided to refuse, but there's enough of a soul in there for Rich to start feeling remorse about how casually he dismisses other people's suffering.

Titikakte (Keeper) - Classic Ogre. Unlikely to encounter Jack except near "natural wild" areas, though he can force himself through the Hedge in parks that are sufficiently large and unkept to suit his tastes.

Anyone else see a part in the story or a Kith/Seeming they'd like me to write about? Leave a comment!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Oddment Hunter character sheet

Step One: Concept: Oddment Hunter
Details: Originally a wealthy playboy, Richard James Bridgeston-Wethy was originally kidnapped by a Fairest Keeper named Aiella, and she was responsible for making his Fetch. However, before Richard could be transformed into a Fairest or some kith therein, an Ogre named Kanyan Titikacte arrived on the scene. Kanyan demanded Richard in payment of a debt owed by the Fairest to the Ogre. After ten years as the Ogre’s prisoner and becoming a Farwalker, Richard escaped back through the Hedge to discover that barely one year has passed. The Fetch had taken Richard’s place in college and worked a cushy job arranged by Rich’s family… but most importantly, it was protected by the family security service. Richard (now using the alias Jack CraBapple) has moved away from the family stomping grounds of Massachusetts to the San Francisco Bay Area. Using a hefty bit of unmarked cash provided by the Fetch, Jack has started making a new life for himself.

Step Two: Attributes (minimum 1 in each score)
     Intelligence: 2
     Wits: 2
     Resolve: 2
     Presence: 2
     Manipulation: 3
     Composure: 3
     Strength: 2
     Dexterity: 2
     Stamina: 3

Step Three: Skills
     Academics: 1
     Crafts: 1
     Medicine: 1
     Occult: 1
     Empathy: 1
     Intimidation: 1
     Persuasion: 1
     Socialize: 1
     Streetwise: 1
     Subterfuge: 2
     Athletics: 2
     Brawl: 2
     Stealth: 3
     Survival: 2
     Weaponry: 2

Step Four: Specialties
Occult: Oddments Identification
Survival: Oddment Application
Persuasion: Haggling

Step Five: Supernatural Features
Seeming: Ogre
Kith: Farwalker
Court: None
Wyrd: 1
     Dream: 1 (Pathfinder)
     Stone: 1 (Might of the Terrible Brute)
     Hearth: 1 (Fickle Fate)
     Mirror: 1 (Riddle Kith)
     Smoke: 1 (Wrong Foot) (physical traces manifest as lemur tracks)

Step Six: Merits (total: 7)
Enemy (Adversarial Allies): 3
Team of mortals tracking Jack at behest of the Bridgeston-Wethy consortium, their employers. While trying to return to the family estate, Jack made references to various family secrets to security operatives. Security services are trying to keep him from doing any real damage to the family’s reputation and holdings. Their orders are to monitor and record Jack’s doings, and interfere with any attempt to blackmail the family. Monthly budget: $3,000.00 because Jack knows a lot, but has not tried to make any expected use of the knowledge.
(Note: they qualify as a cell of Hunters)
Iron Stomach (2 merit points)
Allies: 1 (local common Changelings)
Contacts: 2 (local coffee shops, local natural medicine enthusiasts)
Resources: 1 dot ($500/month, $1,000.00 in assets)
Harvest (Goblin Fruit/Oddments, Reaper’s Pledge ): 2 dots
New Identity: 1
Token (Cracked Mirror): 1 dot

Step Seven: Advantages
Defense: 2
Health: Stamina (3) + Size (5) = 8
Size: 5 
Initiative: Dexterity (2) + Composure (2) = 4
Willpower: Resolve (2) + Composure (3) = 5
Clarity: 7 (standard= 7)
Speed: Strength (2) + Dexterity (4) + species factor (5) = 11 yards per turn

Step Eight: Coming to Life
How old are you? “I was born in 1986, but I was kidnapped into Faerie in 2004 on my 18th birthday. I spent ten years in Faerie to find that only four years had passed back here.”

What was your existence in Faerie like? “’Wild’ is the first word that comes to mind. Kinyan Titicacte, my Keeper, apparently had a thing for what you might call unspoiled wilderness. Every major terrain and climate type kind of mashed together, like what the Earth might have been like if it were the size of… oh, call it the size of Boston, had never known people and the environment could change radically after you took seven steps in any direction. From what I can remember about my time there, he always had a stable of at least a dozen other Lost knocking around. I guess I took on the Farwalker seeming because Kinyan Titicacte was always chasing me. I don’t remember ever getting any kind of food from him, or anything else. It’s how I learned to survive in the wild; I had to, or Kinyan would catch me, and… I don’t want to remember any of that. All I know is that it hurts to think about thinking about it. Ow.”

What are your motivations? “Picking up the pieces. My Fetch… I’ve kind of taken to calling him ‘Rich’… well, he’s had four years to learn how to be me, while I had ten years to learn how to be… Well, how would any Changeling explain their Durance? My old life was gone for good. I’d be lying if I said that I was completely heartbroken about it. My family… well, we’re not exactly a pack of saints, and there are still a few things that turn my stomach about how we do business. So Rich played on that, gave me a suitcase with a rather sizeable quantity of small, unmarked bills, and I decided to see what I could do with a clean slate. I’ve had discussions about that with a few other Lost, and I’ve made my peace with it.”

Physical appearance: To mortal eyes, Jack CraBapple’s face is tanned and weathered. His blue eyes, however, retain a youthful spark, making his age hard to guess. His dark brown facial hair is thick and difficult to keep trimmed, though he tries to tame it at least once a week or so. He has made a pledge with a local cosmetology school in which his unruly head-hair is used as an extra-credit assignment for students asking for “a challenge”. His body hair is also thicker than usual, but rarely seen. While the vast majority of his clothing is chosen for sturdy construction and muted colors, he has not completely given up his childhood habits; he has one shirt of bright blue raw silk and may acquire more in time.

Supernatural appearance: Jack’s Fae mien is covered with hair on virtually every part of his body. His features are heavier and resemble a mountain gorilla’s, except for his eyes, which remain blue and quite human-like. His musculature is lean, rather than bulky. As a result, many inexperienced Changelings mistake him for a monkey-like Beast-kith, even when he is not using his Riddle Kith contract.

Name details: Richard chose the nom de guerre “Jack CraBapple” to reflect his newfound interest in Goblin Fruit and other oddments, while remaining somewhat believeable to mortal ears. He occasionally responds when someone else calls “Rich”, though he is practicing to reduce this.

Other notes: 

• Jack has located two areas in the local Hedge that reliably produce a selection of Goblin Fruit and oddments.
• Jack reluctantly checks in with his Fetch about once per week or so, usually to see if the family has made any progress in neutralizing the threat value of what he knows, as well as to catch up on the gossip. The nature of Jack’s information centers on relatively harmless scandals about interpersonal relationships, with a few tidbits of questionable business practices thrown in for flavor. No one item should be worth Jack’s life.
• Jack has come to an accord with his Fetch, to the point of addressing it as “Rich”. Even before his Durance, he had been seriously thinking about getting out of the family business, and Rich had simply pointed out that this was the best opportunity to do so he would ever have.
• Jack was able to finagle the New Identity of “Jack CraBapple” as payment for some favor he earned. The Bridgeston-Wethy security forces have not firmly associated this name with Jack, though it is one of several aliases he used while traveling across the country.
• The Reaper’s Pledge involves Jack keeping the cosmetology school clean, as well as making sure that at least one vase of flowers in the entrance area is fresh.
• Jack’s future plans focus on learning how to build a Hallow, followed by figuring out how to cultivate Goblin Fruit and how to research oddments more effectively. Now that his family no longer supplies social pressure to keep him from pursuing ‘plebian’ interests such as handcrafts and agriculture, he has discovered his green thumb and knack for field research. Whether he has any aptitude for construction has yet to be determined.
• Virtue: Charity
• Vice: Gluttony

Friday, March 6, 2009

James Bond is... Corwin of Amber?

A bit of explanation for those of you who aren't familiar with "Corwin" or "Amber": Roger Zelazny created "The Chronicles of Amber", a series of stories about a fairly traditional royal family in that there are a lot of them ("There had been fifteen brothers and six were dead. There had been eight sisters and two were dead, possibly four."), the patriarch is frequently absent, imperious and usually what we normal folk would call "borderline abusive". Given that the father ("King Oberon" a.k.a. Oberon Barimen) calls himself "King of the Universe", this should come as no particular surprise, except for one salient fact: it happens to be true.
Amber is the one real world; all the infinite alternate possibilities are but Shadows. Those heirs to the blood of Oberon are granted physical and mental powers beyond the limits of lesser beings, not the least of which is near-immortality, which allows them to walk the Pattern and thus gain the power to move through Shadow. Worlds of literally any description await those of the Blood, for any purpose.
Corwin, after an argument with his elder full brother Eric, was wounded in a duel, dragged through Shadow, and left for dead on Shadow Earth. Our Earth. During the Plague Years in London, where he was infected... and survived, but suffered amnesia for the next four hundred years.
As a somewhat inevitable consequence of a scion of Amber remaining in a particular Shadow for extended periods of time, Corwin may have spontaneously generated a Shadow of himself therein, perhaps more than once. Consider his Trump (compressed for brevity):

Note the short, dark hair and dour expression that nevertheless means business. Now consider this sketch of Mr. Bond:... and compare both to this image of Hoagy Carmichael, considered to be a visual inspiration for Mr. Bond:

A curious similarity, don't you think? Especially considering how Mr. Bond has a demonstrated tendency to not fight fairly and to survive the most appalling damages and just keep going...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Newbie tune

The "Dish and the Fiddle" is a bar where the Lost hang out. Mortals who find the place are in one of two categories: either they're the enchanted companions of one of the patrons, or they were very definitely looking for some other place. It's a fairly common phenomenon for places owned, operated and frequented by the Lost. There's no way to know whether it's some kind of trade-secret Contract similar to the one that maintains Goblin Markets, or a not-quite-Noble bestowment, or just something that the Lost generate instead of dandruff.

A selling point is that there's an ever-changing cast of live music. No two acts are ever exactly alike, except for two things. The first is that they all tend to be some variation of folk music. The other is an unbroken tradition. The first time that any newcomer sets foot into the place, no matter who happens to be playing, the band immediately breaks out in the unofficial Newbie Anthem. You've heard it before. It's officially called "Mad About Me", though most non-Star Wars fans just call it the "Creature Cantina Theme".

I've heard some of the more literary-minded among the Lost describe it as the archetypal theme to "Crossing of the First Threshold" in the Hero's Journey. Most of the rest of us just say that it's like an announcement that "you're not in Kansas anymore, Toto". And damn if it isn't worth it for the looks some of the accidental tourists get on their faces. We all maintain our Masks, of course, and unless they come in with the means to see past such deception, the mortal visitors only see a strange cross-section of perfectly human demographics. It's still somewhat unsettling, though, because the "Dish and Fiddle" doesn't have a recognizeable 'vibe' that mortal barflies could 'tune in' on and use.

And that's the way we like it.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

25 Random Things About Me

Yup, I got tagged with this, and thought I'd share it with everyone...

Rules: Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you.

(To do this, go to "notes" under tabs on your profile page, paste these instructions in the body of the note, type your 25 random things, tag 25 people (in the right hand corner of the app) then click publish.)

1. When I was younger, I wanted to be a "Scientist!" Not any particular discipline, mind you; just a "Scientist!". If "Buckaroo Banzai" had come out a few years earlier, I would have wanted to live "in many directions at once", too. Nowadays, I'd be happy with a regular income, though I'd appreciate it if I needed six figures to express that income...

2. My number one comfort food is any kind of deluxe packaged macaroni & cheese. However, a close second is Spaghetti Factory's Spaghetti a la Homer (browned butter and mizithra cheese).

3. I deliberately make obscure intellectual references for no reason other than I find greater humor in encouraging people to work for the joke. For example, I would like to raise a very particular toast to Kim Stanley Robinson: a Mountain Dew Code Red, followed by a regular Mountain Dew (green), in turn followed by a Mountain Dew Voltage (blue).

4. In the highly unlikely event that I acquire a fan-following, I mostly wish that my fans would show their respect for me simply by doing whatever they can to make the world a better place. Failing that, I would hope that the "fan-gift" of choice would be hand-painted *G-RATED* Trumps. Which is to say, these:

5. My greatest fear was of doing the absolute best I could to raise a child (or, worse, more than one), to end with a beautiful genius possessed of enough ambition to take over the world, the drive to actually pull it off... and the morals of a rabid shark. In a word, I was terrified of producing Gulliver (or Gayle) Foyle:
Now that I've had a vasectomy, this has passed... somewhat.

6. I think I've played to my intellectual strengths to the detriment of my social weaknesses for so many years that they have switched places, then balanced each other out somewhat. It might have been nice if this had happened earlier; say, in junior high. So it goes...

7. I am functionally unable to attend any sort of concerts except classical music or comedic monologues. I don't care if they're the blandest corporate rock act since whomever, or if they're the best blues player since Robert Johnson. Amplification above the minimum necessary for people in the nosebleed section to hear clearly... *hurts*.

8. I wish I could visit an alternate world where "Firefly" and "The Dresden Files" were renewed (deservedly) for several seasons, while "King of Queens" and "Seinfeld" died quick, quiet network deaths.

9. I would like to ride the "Weightless Wonder" a.k.a. the "Vomit Comet" to experience free-fall.
Okay, I'd *really* like to afford an orbital flight on Virgin Galactic...
... but the "Vomit Comet" dream is at least within spitting distance of financially possible for me.

10. I wish that, upon meeting any or all celebrities for whom I have any respect, they remember me only as "that guy who was the most courteous and unobtrusive fan I've ever met. Wonder what his name was... Oh, well." I have taken to heart the implicit warning in the Chinese curse: "May you gain the attention of those in power" and fervently hope to remain someone distant and happy and small.

11. Aside from concerns about genetic disease or genetic predispositions toward medical problems, I am mostly unconcerned about my distant heritage. Probably because I have so *many*. I have English, Irish, Scots, Norwegian, German and French in my genetic background... that I know of... and going much further back seems likely to produce even more tangles.

13. I want to get past my personal foibles and get paid for writing a short story. Step one: finish writing one...

14. The first thing I notice about people is their 'regional dialect', which I refer to as the 'birth certificate they carry in their mouth'. Kind of like how Professor Higgins can narrow down where a person was born and raised to within a couple of blocks in "My Fair Lady", though I'm not nearly as good.

15. If I were ever forced to attend a big-time "Social Event" (like some award show or, worse, some bigwig ball), I would make every possible effort to procure a reasonable (read: comfortable and in my size) facsimile of the collarless "spaceman's business suit" worn by Bruce Boxleitner on Babylon 5. Bonus points if the color scheme could be 75% black, 20% emerald green and 5% white; Green Lantern uniform proportions (give or take).

16. I would very much like to contribute to the death of the necktie as a required component of businesswear for men. Like a ruff, it is a pointless way for the wearer to show off his aspiriations of status or wealth. Also like the ruff, it can be hazardous.

17. My music library tends to be as eclectic as I can stand. For example, I own several Sting CDs, the soundtrack AND score for "The Matrix", the Poxy Boggards "Anchor Management" CD, the soundtrack to "Titan A.E." and four CDs by a now-defunct band called "Brother" who dared to include a didjiridoo and a bagpipe... at the same time... in a rock band. And they did it really well, dammit!

18. My Evil Plan To Destroy Hollywood involves loaning each and every role-playing game publishing company in the United States $10 Million USD, with the proviso that they use the money to produce a two-hour pilot for a television series based on their best-selling game license within two years. While the probable level of production value would vary *widely*, it would be an extremely safe bet that the results would be far and away more interesting than 90% of anything Hollywood has produced for the past twenty years.

19. What I really want to be when I grow up is Writer-In-Residence on the International Moonbase. Yes, there are a few more intermediate steps between my present state and achieving this job than most such.

20. I heartily enjoy foods and beverages in colors, shapes, flavors and textures not found in nature. Can't handle anything even mildly spicy, though.

21. I want to live long enough for the James Randi Educational Foundation to cut a check to someone who can demonstrate genuine psychic/magic abilities on command.
My imagination is taxed to the limit imagining myself as that person.

22. If I were a crayon I would be Cobalt Blue, because of what cobalt represents. Briefly, it symbolizes how a supposed 'flaw' can become something wonderful.

23. My favorite smells are "well-chlorinated pool" and "inside of a game store". No, really. Something about all those hard-bound books mixed with the miniatures, paints, plastic packaging and the dice... Oh, the *dice*... produces a curiously unmistakeable scent. NOT including the scent of unwashed gamers, mind you...

24. My cell phone wallpaper is a picture of Lee Ann's late, lamented Godzilla: a half-Springer/half-Dalmatian who looks like a black Labrador with long, wavy fur. He was a wonderful dog and I miss him so.

25. I hope I live long enough to get onto a BART train and travel in a loop around the Bay Area. If current conditions persist, I would have to live for at least another century or two...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Old life, new life

I like the corner coffee shop, "Donna's Sunrise Smile", for a number of reasons. One is that it's a moderately successful independent place. Call it a lingering touch from my Durance, but since I fought my way free from my Keeper, I've gotten used to things being a lot less... predictable.

Also, the place is much larger than most people would believe. You wouldn't think that a five-story apartment building in a crowded city could do that, but Donna has somehow managed it.

The most important reason that I like the place is that, in exchange for a few interesting herbs (and instruction on proper use, storage, effects and warnings), Donna and the supervisors also pass along news from a few of my other Lost contacts... as well as anything strange they notice.

Like today.

"Wyatt," Donna said, using the mortal name I had adopted. "Jenny and Marcus both told me that someone had been by earlier this week with a picture that looked like you."

I frowned into my mug, sipping a new concoction with a trace of fennel in it. "Women?" I asked, suspecting I already knew the answers. "Subtly overdressed for the neighborhood? Lots of tasteful makeup?"

She raised an eyebrow. "How did you know?"

There was no simple way to explain, and she deserved to stay out of this mess as much as possible. "It's complicated." I managed a reassuring gesture around another sip of the liquid sunrise from my mug, then looked her in the eye. "I've not knocked anyone up nor committed any crime," I told her, speaking the truth. She picked up on it, and a bit of tension eased out of her expression.

"But I do know things that they would rather keep... under wraps." I knew better than to say, "... in the family." Donna would connect the dots to create a picture that was incorrect, but not completely inaccurate.

She blinked.

I pulled out a small bag made of rough blue paper, the top rolled shut. "Buglewort blossoms," I explained, setting it on the counter and nudging it toward her. "I've doublechecked to make sure that each one is exactly that."

She took the bag. "Isn't that supposed to be for cleaning wounds or as a sedative?"

"These are some more of my specials," I said, emphasizing the last word. "They work like guarana, in case you run low of that." I went on to give her the usual brief description of dosage, effects, durations and warnings. "I may have to skip town," I said, wrapping it up. "They shouldn't bother you too much after that."

I could practically feel her curiosity flaring at me as she copied down the information on the side of the bag with a felt-tip pen and stowed the bag in a cupboard labeled, "Donna's". I finished the brew, wishing that I could swallow all my worries and mistakes so easily.

"We'll miss you," she said. "Especially your 'specials'. Damned if I can figure out where you keep getting them."

"Fellah's got to keep a few surprises," I told her, managing a half-smile. "But I do have a few other friends in the hobby. Might be able to send you a few things now and then, for old time's sake."

She nodded, then gave me a pensive look. "Just take care of yourself, okay? You're a decent man, and those are as rare as..."

I tried, really, but I couldn't help myself. "Sasquatch sightings?" I offered.

She nodded, a surprised but approving grin spreading across her face. "Y'know, I think I like that better than hen's teeth," she said, seeming to taste the words for a moment. "At least there are grainy pictures and somewhat inexplicable footprints of those."

I laughed and got up, leaving some money for my coffee on the counter. While Donna turned to focus on a new customer, I rolled a pair of twenties inside a one-dollar bill and dropped the tube into the tip jar.

Now, all I had to do was figure out how to get my family's investigators off my trail.


Suppose that you find yourself in the witness protection program. Suppose that you had to avoid all of your usual hobbies, associates, and whatnot. What would that entail?

Take a look at your life and think about all of it. What you do, where you go, who you talk to, and all of that. What is truly unique and therefore identifiable about your life? What would be the hardest thing for you to give up? It's a really interesting exercise, especially in the Internet Age when virtually any conceivable hobby (and a few that seem inconceivable) has a web-presence... and internet usage can be tapped from uncountable different points on the connection.

* World of Warcraft? No more. Gonna give up your level 50 character and start from scratch? I don't think so.
* Facebook? Nope. Too easy to become a fan of all your old favorite stuff, even if you use a new username and different userpic.
* Chat rooms? Nope. Again, it's not enough to use a different username, you've got to steer completely clear of every chatroom you've ever used.
* Local sports games? Sorry. Pick a new team. Better yet, pick a new sport.
* Favorite vice? Kick the habits, friend. All of them. If you've got a favorite mixed drink, you'd better never order it. If you've acquired a taste for a special blend of tobacco, you'd better get used to never smoking it again, either.

What else would you have to give up? What vices would you allow yourself to pursue if your usual ones were taken away, with a warning that the people *hunting* you will kill you if they find you?

(Notes describing the building the coffee shop is in for future reference)
The top floor is studios, the floor below that is one-bedrooms, the floor below that is two-bedrooms. The ground floor has the customer area, the kitchen and customer bathrooms. The whole first floor was once a single and rather spacious apartment, but now Donna only lives in half of it. The other half holds cramped but serviceable employee lockers and bathrooms. The basement holds what has to be at least a couple of weeks' worth of supplies at any given time filling most of the space. The business office is also down there, but the last room is where the magic happens: Donna has somehow picked up what amounts to a fully-functional coffee and tea research lab, and the skills to use it to full effect.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Excitement and what I'm missing

While traveling through my hometown on a relatively mundane errand, I happened to notice a subtle indication that there was a portal to the Hedge in the vicinity. My errand could wait while I investigated further. To mortal eyes, it was merely a fenced-in vacant lot, with various pieces of junk scattered here and there. A pile of broken shipping pallets and what might have been furniture at one point pushed against a utility pole, the shadow hiding a gap in the cyclone fence. It took a few moments glancing at the wreckage to spot it: a battered but still whole trash can lid balanced on top of a large, bald truck tire. I fished out a piece of paper and a pen, pretending to copy down the name of the property management company offering the land parcel for sale or rent, in reality making notes about the portal. When had it appeared, I wondered, and where would it lead?


I'm reading through Timothy Ferriss' "4-hour workweek" in an effort to figure out why my life feels like I've become an NPC waiting for some adventure to need a pushing-40 slacker as a human shield or victim or other tragic placeholder. Aside from the rather interesting notion that most of the boring parts of people's lives can be subcontracted, Mr. Ferriss offers the idea that the exciting activities and goals we dismiss as impossible or impractical or otherwise too expensive are usually nothing of the sort. The trick is to figure out the most practical steps necessary to achieve them. For example, suppose that my goal is to not only own a Phoenix 1000 luxury sub, but to make it pay for itself. As this vessel starts at $78 million USD, that would probably be a wise way to go.

The trick, then, would be to figure out who would benefit from access to such a vehicle and why. The Monterey Bay Aquarium might be one option, for exploratory and research purposes. Another might be any of the various private agencies that offer tours of San Francisco from the bay, for a tourist attraction like no other currently available. A third might include various businesses who need to monitor and occasionally inspect or repair underwater facilities, such as pipelines, cables or bridges. And other options may arise during the research phase. While it's easy to imagine all manner of illegal usage for such a vehicle, such as smuggling narcotics in or criminals out of the area, they are not a business avenue I would ever pursue.

Anyway, the next step would be to research the legalities of the situation and arranging a business charter, at least getting the relevant pieces of the puzzle onto paper. U.S. Subs offers such a thing, for a starting price of $25,000.00.

At this stage, I would have to actually do some research and consult with experts. Where else to go? Should I involve the investors-to-be prior to buying the business plan, or after?

The point that Mr. Ferriss makes is that it is not, in theory, completely unreasonable for me to own my own luxury submarine. It is simply a matter of composing a plan and adjusting it as I go along. Which, in turn, suggests that very little, if anything is completely out of reach for purely economic reasons; they remain on the far side of a properly-researched and -initiated plan.

Now that I wish to become a published author by the end of 2009 (if not sooner), I suppose that I will have to focus on a plan to achieve this. The first step, of course, will be regular writing, to simply get in the habit of doing so. I've kept journals, of course, as well as two other blogs, but that will only sustain me for a short period. Similar, in its way, to using a kick-board while learning to swim; the tool is useful during the early stages, but must be abandoned when it is no longer needed. Daily writing, no matter what, for at least the next month is my goal at this point.

Wrapped around looking for "regular" employment, of course...