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I have been insanely busy the last few weeks. Still getting regular blood draws to reduce my hematocrit level and last Friday was the first time where it was at the level it was supposed to be so they didn't take any. My stepfather died last week and I'm just not sure how I feel about it. I won't get into it in this post, but he basically was a mean son-of-a-bitch and he was abusive.

Also, my cousin who basically scammed my mother a couple of weeks ago got his. He lost athumb in a work accident. He's doing ok, I guess. I still haven't talked ot him I heard through a mutual friend. Funny thing is the amount of money he'd get for being maimed in a settlement is almost the exact amount of money he owed my mother. I guess I got my pound of flesh.

I had a bad bout of insomnia last week too, stayed awake nearly six days. Finally took meds on Sunday and slept for nearly 12 hours straight, then I woke up late today after another 12 hour stint. Guess I needed the sleep. I did manage to get a bunch of stuff done though. Playtesting has proceeded on my and Antoni's Dungeon Fantasy book and the playtesters are putting the supplement though its paces.

My "Cursed Thou Art" Pyramid article got out there. For all the forum posts looking for tools to create new Divine Curses...nary a peep. More than that, I finally gave people a way to create the "Murphyonic Feild" from the Dresden's Files in GURPS and...nothing. Though it does seem that it's been rated overall pretty well. So that's something.

I'm off to do some more work. Gotta go down into the word mines. Later y'all.

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So I'm in my 4th week of doing this now and I've had to give 1,000cc of blood every trip in. I may be getting used to it (I haven't passed out since the second week!), but it is no less tedious. It's not just the time (it takes abotu two and a half hours), but they have to manually remove 50cc as at a time via a syringe. You may think I'm exagerrating, but I can feel them pull the blood out of me like juice through a straw shoved in a juice box. My arm gets hot and the blood just pours out like rivers of crimson. (I can also taste the saline they put in me, but that's neither here nor there.)

I had (as usual) an excellent nurse - let's call her Lizzy - who was dismayed that I might be among the five percenters who had to give blood on a weekly basis. She knows about my phobia and has gone to great lengths to make me feel comfortable while in her care. She is, without a doubt, a stellar nurse. But she's also a genuinely good person. She remembers my name, she's hiliraous (her stories about her kids and husband are funny as hell), she remembers what we talk about when distracting me, and actually cares. She even twitter-stalked me a bit which resulted in this exceedingly funny conversation today (which I abbreviated on Twtter):

Me: *looking down at the gigantic bag of blood (which you can see here)* "What do you guys do with my blood? Is there no way it could be saved or donated somehow? I mean I seem to be producing basically a bag a week of the stuff."
Lizzy: "No, we can't actually give this out for public use. We send this to the government labs at DARPA for testing to see why you clot so fast without actually suffering vascular truama for their ARES super-soldier project...."
Me: *huge eyes* then *shifty eyes* "Waaaat?!"
Lizzy: "I mean we destroy it in the incinerator...like all other medical waste."
Me: *scowl*
Lizzy: *laughs* I found your Twitter - I don't use it myself, but you and some of the people you were talking to were joking about mutant healing factor - and I do love me some Hugh Jackmen [she makes that sound only women can make when they are sizing up a man like a peice of steak. Sort of a half hum, half grunt] - but that healing thing ain't far off the mark. Never seen a PICC close up that fast.
Me: You Twitter-stalked me! *laughes*
Lizzy: I did. You gonna tweet that? *hands phone*
Me: *typing on smartphone* Yes. Yes I am. And I'll journal it later too.

Like I said. Funny. Did her best to put me at ease and it worked. I stopped by my friend TA's house for a few hours and then came home and got to work. Knocked out a bunch of emails, all my bonus goals on my weekly schedule, and all my Patreon stuff. So far, it looks like my revamped Patreon is working the way I wanted it to and I've been able ot fulfill my requirements. I haven't gotten more patrons (I broke even), but my backers liked my new reward levels and pledged more. I honestly hope to get some more folks, but I need to put out new material to attract some new patrons - maybe get some of the more respected GURPS designers/players to say "Hey, look at this! It's pretty great." To do this I'm going to be working up a complication from my website here soon as a PDF file available only to patrons and finish laying out one of the adventures I wrote.

Workcation

Apr. 14th, 2015 04:28 am
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I headed over to my friend's place on Saturday and it took me forever to get set up for my "workcation." I hadn't been able to bring as many provisions as I would've liked, but my best friend raided his larder for me (I got lumpia out of it so it was totally a win). Sunday was mostly a wash too and I ended up laying down with a headache. Since then my schedule has been funky and I've been trying to keep up with the daily goals I've set myself (which I have been so far). I finally outlined that thing I've been meaning to for a work-for-hire project - looks like GURPS might end up with some realm management rules at some point (published or otherwise). I've also outlined and began my latest Pyramid article (my "ready to go" folder is extremely light at the moment and I want to pad it out some). My Pyramid Mentoring Group has been picking up a little steam lately - in fact, I've got two drafts I need to go proof that are in my inbox at the moment - something I'm going to fix right now. My and Antoni's GURPS supplement is picking up a little steam and we'll see where that goes in a few days. Ah well, of to do some more work.

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I play videogames pecularily. I won't play any games at all for weeks or months on end and then I will spend several days binging. I'm talking 14 to 18 hour days of nothing but playing the game. Then I'll reach a point where I'm done and don't want to play no more. I hit that point last night (thus I've been quiet here for the last few days). I need to read that GURPS thing that [livejournal.com profile] archangelbeth sent me and then give her my notes. I'm going to do that tonight after I finish my work schedule for the next month. I've usually done this as a mental thing - but I've decided to try to do physical schedule and see if I can up my productivity even more. We'll see. I'm feeling pretty good, but I slept in late. Bad dreams. My next infusion appointment (to remove excess blood) is Friday and then Saturday I'm going to visit a friend for a few weeks. Then back home. Anyways...I'm off to write all the words and read all the things.
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So over the last few days one of the things I've been busy with medical stuff. TL; DR, I have primary polycythemia - this means I make too many red blood cells, and it causes my blood to "thicken." It's dangerous if left untreated, and it appears mine is due to a genetic anomoly. Actually, several genetic anomolies, whcih my doctor has never seen before. The DNA sequencing over week's past came back with some odd results, and he's since farmed it out to other places to see if they have seen any of my anomolies before. He's guessing that they are related to blood and immune response. He did the DNA sequence because when he checked my clotting factor, it was too short. After about two hours of more patient history, he came to the conclusion that he needed to know more. Thus the sequencing. A few oddities about my physiology that I knew, but sort of ignored:


* I don't get sick often - when I need to lay down it's almost entirely a glucose imbalance and not from actually being ill with a cold or flue. So far, I've gotten sick once this year (con-crud) and twice last year (flus). Year before that I wasn't ill at all, and I get sick twice the two years prior to that. Basically, once my glucose was under control, I stopped getting ill.
* I've never broken a bone. Not once in my entire life. I've never fractured anything. I've dislocated LOTS of stuff though, and I've bruised my shin bone before - it sucks, don't ever do it.
* I heal rapidly. My surgery to remove the abscess in 2011 and the resulting wound should have taken me around six months to fully heal - I did it in 2.5 months. I rarely bruise and while I do scar, most small injures heal inside three or four days.
* Pain doesn't bother me really. I've an extraordinarily high pain threshold. For example, I was six when I managed to step on a roofing nail (a very large nail nearly half a foot long), and it went through my foot. I walked home to tell my mom who promptly freaked out. I was fine. Since then I've endured a lot of physical trauma and it just sort of slides off me. Though getting blood drawn makes me squicky (probably a psychological thing).


The doctor thinks it might be related some how, and I sure can't blame him for thinking that. It'd be kind of cool to get a disorder named after me though... ;-)

It's odd, but I feel SO MUCH BETTER after they pulled 1,000cc of blood out of me. It took nearly two hours to get it all out and replace some of it with saline. The nurse I had - M - was just top notch. I mean TOP NOTCH. I told her I was squeamish about needles and blood coming from my body in a hospital setting (I know, specific right? I can bleed profusely from cuts or whatever, and it doesn't bother me - but them drawing blood? *thud*). She had me lounging back with a pillow under my head, a cold cloth over eyes, so I couldn't see, water with straw in my hand, and TALKED the entire time. Not stopping once. She got a rythem going and despite how stubborn my blood was (my hematocrit was 55%, and it should be 42% or less, at most 45%) so got it out. Again, everything feels so vivid. Colors seem brighter. My senses are on fire with stimuli. My mind is so much clearer...it's like I was half asleep, and the blood loss woke me up. How strange is that? The PIC line they put in is a bit annoying, but I don't see it coming out any time soon. They might have to put in a port because I am so squeamish. We'll see. I could be lucky and only have to come back every couple of months or more...or I could be one of those that have to be bled weekly. I'm sure I'll get used to it. They snuck me up for a bone density scan while I was waiting for the infusion center to call and confirmed that my bones are extremely dense (average T-score is -1 to 1 and mine was like a 10ish).

So one fun thing that happened is that while at the hospital in the elevator, there was this one nurse who was really crushing on this other nurse. Guy nurse didn't notice the girl, but Y.T., being overly (and annoyingly) perceptive did notice. So, being the wiseass that I am I started humming "Part of Your World." Girl nurse starts blushing furiously and runs when the door opens. Light-headed from the PIC line, I decide to stop guy-nurse, "Hey, are you single?" I ask. He replies "Oh, dude, I'm not gay." There is much awkward silence before I continue, "Neither am I. But that girl has a yen for you BAD." He replies "Oh. I really like [nurse's name], but I don't think she even notices me. I'm playing it cool." I shook my head, "No, dude. NO." "Go talk to her. She likes you. Trust me." I said. He rushes after her & the last thing I see as I go to the infusion center is them talking. That's me. Christopher, killing the "playing it cool" approach one guy at a time. I shall look in on my matchmaking efforts next week.

I'm nearly done with the last character update for my campaign and after that I'm going to veg out on videogames all weekend to try to relax. [livejournal.com profile] archangelbeth sent me this really cool GURPS thing I need to poke at. She really thought outside of the box on this one. It's a neat concept. But I want to make sure I got all my brain cells before I start poking at it in depth. Blargh. Off to do some work. Y'all have a good weekend.

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A quick update. I'm back home from the hospital after some minor surgery and getting blood drawn. I'll update more tomorrow maybe, but I'm tired and have stuff to finish before I can try to relax and let my body do its healing thing. I live. I'm ok. Ciao.
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You hear that sound? That's me screaming from 10,000 miles away. Got back thing I wrote from editor with a LOT of issues. Issues that I know for fact I fixed in revisions. This is the THIRD time this has happened in the last week with files I'd placed in my Dropbox Folder. Luckily, I only had three files in there. Because of this issue, I've added a new rule to my submission checklist:

                             "Double check material after revisions and before submission."

Sigh. Still, it wasn't that bad - my first estimates were that it was a lot worse. It wasn't. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best, expect something in between.

I have my follow-up appointment to my hetamtologist's tomorrow and my stress test/treadmill on Wednesday. Thursday I hope to see an old friend and her two newborn twins, if only for a few hours. Friday I'll be catching on on the rest of the house/domestic stuff and Saturday I'll be gaming (hopefully). I might even end up going to my friend's house before then. Don't know yet.

For now I'm going to go finish up some game stuff and maybe modify one of my Patreon specials. I've got some more data on how a smithy functons and I want to include at least some of it.

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Sometimes I prefer the "no sleep for 80 hours straight" to the "four hours here and there." I've been a bit zombified lately and it's showing in my editing. [livejournal.com profile] archangelbeth sent me back some comments on something I was working on. I basically made it worse. So... I'm chucking it on the backburner. I got some new ideas I want to get out anyways. It's really old anyways and the last of my "instantly ready to go" articles. I'm just going to write some more. I'll probably get out between two and three a week at my typical rate. Sigh. Looking back on my worke from even 12 months ago and I can see how much my style has improved.

I need to finish my game stuff too, sometime this week we'll be playing again and everything has to be ready for the players. I'm about 60% of my way through my "player booklet" for Sicatra. The only things I need to finish are magic and divine powers. The enchantment stuff isn't that needed right now, but I'll probably be using some form of metatronic generators. I need to come up with a standard list of enchanments like Dungeon Fantasy 8 though so I can just plug and play - more like conversions that totally new stuff.

Anywho - off to work I go.
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I barely slept last night. I went to bed on time so that I could get enough sleep to take the various medical tests and exams I needed too today. But my sleep was troubled by a particularly nasty night terror that involved a family I know being haunted by a shadowy figure. Turns out that sometimes you really shouldn't write about things that terrify you. This creature is going to be released next month on my Patreon, where I've wrote about it in ghoulish and exacting detail. But damn if it didn't crawl under my skin, carve it free, and wear it like a cloak. I musth ave woke up three or four times screaming as every time I woke up the dream "paused" and then "played" when I slept again. I just couldn't go to the doctor's office. I was too exahusted. I've rescheduled for next week sometime along with my follow-up at the hematologist's office.

I went back to sleep after doing the rescheduling and stayed passed out to nearly 4pm after my sister texted me worried. My new printer arrived (see pictures below!) and I put it all together and everything was great until my docking station DIED. If had known that it was going to die so horribly I wouldn't have bought the damn printer. Sigh. If it's not one thing, it's another. Now I need to figure out how to scrape up money for that. It wouldn't be so bad, but it's severely impacting my workflow and that's simply not acceptable.

I'm about 60% of the way through my revision of my player "handbook" for my GURPS Dungeon Fantasy campaign "Sicatra," all I have left to do is add how the magical system works. Should be more or less easy. And speaking of Dungeon Fantasy, the book that Antoni Ten Monrós and I are writing together has gone through its first round of revisions, I expect to be turning that in soon. I've got a good solid idea for another book, but I'll first need to get this one put to bed.

Ah well, off to the word mines I go, heigh-ho-heigh-ho-heigh-ho.



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And the news is good! My bill of cardiovascular health is as clean as my overall health. The doctor actually told me that MY health was better than HERS (in a rather disgusted tone I might add). They did find the scar tissue from my micro-heart attack last year, but my heart was in good order. I find this odd because I do not exercise or eat particularly healthy. I watch what I eat (no refined sugar, very few fried foods, lots of baked stuff, fish), but I don't really restrain myself. I personally need around 180 carbs a day - I know, some of you are staring at me right now, but trust me, I tried to make due on 90, 120, and 150 and it felt like I was half-dead. Even the doc says I have a strangely high metabolism - I just can't seem to lose weight. Still looking forward to DNA sequencing, I hope they let me have a copy. Tomorrow I'll be blitzing out my character creation guidelines for my campaign - Sicatra - and then having a lunch with some friends I haven't seen in quite a while. Friday, I head back to the hospital to do a bunch more vascular tests (just to be sure) and a stress test (weee!). The doctor said not to be worried, but it's always good to double check. My cousin arrived back home today with her girlfriend of the week, I hope she settles on someone eventually. And that's not me being a jerk about it - she kind of goes through people like a bunch of paper dolls. No one deserves that. Ah well, off to bed I think.
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OH, DEAR GLOB SO MUCH BLARGH. I've spent a good chunk of today researching how to use the Search function for Microsoft Office. I've found a few guides, but oddly enough, the best one was on Microsoft's site. (If you are a writer and have Office...GO. READ. THE. DAMN. GUIDE. You will thank me later.) After that I realized that the formatting in my Dungeon Fantasy Sekrit Project had randomly (and I do mean randomly) de-applied some style types and formatting. Three bloody hours later I've got it fixed. Meanwhile, [livejournal.com profile] archangelbeth has done some more editing. Latest bit of snark: "These don't look like Monopoly names." Holy hell that woman makes me laugh at myself and learn at the same time. That's what makes a good teacher. After making some more headway on another Pyramid article, I shut down the "for work" folder and opened up my "for gaming" folder.

One (very bright) spot: while I lost a patron over on my Patreon, my overall funding increased. I'm still a bit gobsmacked and humbled by it all. I guess I made the right choice, though only time will tell. I think I did. I hope I did. The "professioning" of my blog continues, as has been pointed out ot me recently, I have crossed the line from "gaming enthusiast" to "gaming professional" somewhere in the last several months and my current standards are just too low. I need to do better. I will do better. To that end, I'm going to be slowly going over my blog in the next several months and editing old posts to fit my new standards for grammar, adding headers, reorganizing in some cases, etc. Anyways, off to work on my game and then head to bed early. I have a doctor's appointment at the vascular and vein doctor in the afternoon.

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Blargh. Trying to set realistic goals and rewards for Patreon is bloody hard. I need to cultivate a longterm base/relationship for my patrons - and I think I have for the most part - but I still get worried about it. I have a great thing going at the moment, but I have to be realistic with my time. I love my blog and I'll keep updating it until I can't and I'm truly thankful for my patrons as well, but I coudn't continue at the rate I'd set myself. And that sucks. I fiddled some more with the rewards/goals today. I hope I don't have to touch them again.

I also had this crazy wacky dream where Gandlaf and I were at a Thai place and when our food was placed in front of us he said "This pho is beyond any of you." First time in a year I woke up laughing instead of screaming. I hope that's a good sign. I'm going to go blitz some of my game stuff now. Hopefully that'll be done in a few days with the right tinkering.
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Just swap "pylons" for "blog entries" and that fits the last 10 hours. OH, DEAR GLOB, WHAT DID I GET MYSELF INTO?! So, I've had a LiveJournal for a while now, but it was only till recently that I decided it might be best to have a platform just for my personal thoughts and another for my gaming/writing stuff. After all, I've grumbled my way through blogs where I hd to get past personal posts to the meat of the gamingness. I figure at this point I need to present a somewhat more professional image on my main gaming blog. My readers (small as they may be) deserve that. So from now on I'll be posting personal rants, issues, whatever on my LiveJournal and gaming/writing stuff on my Blogspot blog.

My main blog can be found here.


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...that's right. She does. She may be a year older, but she's still the most gorgeous woman I've ever or ever will see. Some of you may scoff at that "How can you know the future?" to which I will simply reply "Because nothing less than perfection can beat perfection and she is perfection and nothing else is." You'll never convince me otherwise. Sorry. Love is like that. It makes you blind to some things. I like to think that life is a series of dim and bright spots mixed into a continuous fashion until it becomes like a film with every moving scene played on a canvas. Every movie has that point where you say, “Oh, man, it cannot get better than this!” To me, she is that moment. That single instance of time and space crystallized into a perfect moment that nothing else in my life will ever compare to. She is my Holy Grail, my Mona Lisa, and my enlightened truth. She drives me to try to be a better man, and if I fail she helps me to stand again. She says, “Yes, you can” whenever that dark part of me says, “No, you can’t.” She is my counselor, my best friend, my muse, my life’s compass, and the ruler of my heart. I love her. No other words could come even remotely close to how I feel and will always feel about her. Today is her birthday and look – she got snow! – just like she wanted. May all her other wishes come true on this most happy day. Happy Birthday, L.A. I love you. And really, it always fills me with wonder when she says that back. Such magic words. But I've rambled on for quite a bit already, have some Fleetwood Mac:


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Tufty and I got to talking the other day about "ethnic" food and I told him about my other other mother's Dog Chili recipe - relax, it ain't made with dogmeat (anymore), just hamburger. It's still pretty good and I got a copy of the recipe so I thought I'd share it:



“Dog” Chili:


Ingredients

1 can tomato paste

1 cup dried hominy

1 cup dried pinto or kidney beans

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1 lb. of hamburger

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 teaspoon cumin and oregano

1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

2 cups chopped onion

2 cups chopped tomatoes

2 teaspoons minced garlic

3 cups water

3 tablespoons chili powder


Directions

  1. Fry meat until brown and set aside.
  2. Place beans and 3 cups of water in saucepan. Bring to boil and cook 2 minutes. Set aside for an hour, return beans to heat with meat. (Add water if you need to)
  3. Simmer for 1 hour, or until beans are tender. Drain and set aside. 
  4. Heat oil in a large, deep skillet or stockpot over medium-high heat. Add onion and bell pepper. Cook until onion is brown. 
  5. Add beans and remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil for 10 to 20 minutes then reduce heat and simmer 3 hours, stirring occasionally. 

Serve hot with flatbread or a baguette.

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So after my visit to the ER on Tuesday (06/10/14) I ended up at the hospital again, this time for lab tests my doctor ordered. What should have been a 15-minute visit (including me feinting after they drew blood) turned into a three hour debacle as debate raged back and forth over my "No Bill" status thanks to the local charity who sees to my medical needs. Apparently, the necessary codes to input said status are so arcane and bizarre they might as well be in a Charles Stross novel. Eventually they saw me, but it took forever and once they did see me they ended up collecting (and I wish I was joking) half a pint of blood for tests, numerous other samples (urine, tissue, etc.). It was a lot. But I digress, even though all that crap happened I did get to see a new piece of tech my local hospital group is using now. It's a biometric scanner that maps the veins in your hand and ties it to your medical records. Now, I'm pretty much against this sort of thing most of the time - but for someone like me (at risk for unconsciousness or incoherency thanks to low- or high-blood sugar) I think it's great. I'm hoping that the hospital will keep my information safe (which I'm sure they will). Basically, everyone has a unique and easily identifiable vein structure and the system uses that to map and tie you to your scan. It uses infrared as part of the reader. Where I think this will really shine is those who have mental problems who cannot tell you who they are or children. So this is basically me saying "Good Job, Sentara Medical Group. This is a step in the right direction." Some pictures from the scanner itself and a scan of the pamphlet below (I couldn't get a picture of the ones in the ambulances though):







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Wednesday afternoon a I received a package from UPS. It was from BB&T. I dreaded opening the damn thing because I was scared of what was inside. I'd been working steadily for months with the bank to try and get their help so we could get current on our mortgage and prevent being foreclosed on. It was a emotional time and I barely slept at all as I took on the responsibilities of the household. My mother simply couldn't do it. She was like a zombie from my grandmother's death and someone needed to hold us together long enough to get everything in order. So I did it. I thought I'd go mad at first because there were all these bills and people owed (and there still are) and no money. I almost had my electricity shut off a couple of times - water too. And we we nearly lost the house at one point...but somehow...somehow with the help of others we got through it. "I need help" I said and low and behold others jumped at the call "Of course!" they replied. You know who you are. Those who so selflessly gave. I don't list there names here because I don't know if they want to be known for what they did - if you did and you are someone who helped me. I'll happily put you here on my blog. I feel like I haven't slept in months. So what was in the package? Help. Pure and simple. The bank finally gave us a modification (reduced the monthly payment down by 20% and tacked on the rest we owed to the backend of the mortgage itself, making us current). It was...well it wasn't what I wanted, but I'll take it. The amount is doable I think, assuming I can continue writing at a steady rate and everything else goes ok. I cried when I read the papers. I literally fell to my knees and held my mother's apron (I was in the kitchen) and cried like a child for over ten minutes. I'm not ashamed of the emotions I feel, probably because I feel them too keenly, but I don't bottle them up inside. That way lies madness and I base the fact that I can (sorta) function despite being bi-polar because of it. After getting myself together I read the documents fully, called a notary I know, and had them signed by my aunt (the executrix for my grandmother's estate). I put them in the mail today, paid a few household bills, and then headed off to dogsit for the next ten days. I didn't sleep Wednesday or Thursday - but tonight I will knowing that my home is safe. That my mother's inheritance is safe. That my sister can go to college and operate from her home. That I can house a friend who needs a place. That I can offer a place to live to a sweet and living young couple and there children. I worry about a lot of things, but I think I can mark this one off. I might take Sunday off, I haven't decided. I still need some time to recover, but I will keep blogging. I will keep writing. In fact, I think I'm going to dip my hands in the pools of fiction. I've certainly wrote enough novels I never intended to publish. It's time to start something I intend to publish and see where I go from there...to all of you who have been there for me when you didn't have to: thank you. For everyone who told me "It'll be better tomorrow:" thank you. For everyone who dealt with my insufferable attitude: REALLY thank you. I'm off to bed soon I hope. Good night and good luck.
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I often wonder what my life would have been like if my father had stayed with my mother. By all accounts, my biological father was not a bad man to start. He loved my mother deeply, and she loved him. But something changed. Maybe it was the drugs, maybe it was the sudden responsibility. I don't know. I wasn't there and the secondhand stories I'm told are often colored by emotion and past hurt. What I do know is that he left my mother and was convinced I was another man's child. Which is supremely ironic considering I look just like him and (unfortunately) have the same tempers as he does. Luckily, I don't share any of his vices or other bad traits - in that regard I'm like my mother. We're both sober-minded people who like to exert order over chaos and occasionally revel in a little of said chaos. We're both creative, and we both have a deep-seated need to help others. A need that I do my best to keep under control, because while I share that emblematic trait, I also have my biological father's dislike of being taken advantage of. The question still haunts me: what if I had a father growing up? Would I be different? Essentially the same? Something in the middle? The truth is...I don't know, and I don't want to know. My mother did the best she could for me when I was growing up. She left me marked with this strange code of honor I follow religiously. Help those weaker than yourself. Treat others as you would be treated. Champion those who have no champion. Never be cowardly. Question authority. Fight for what you believe in. Trust in yourself. Think for yourself. These are the words that I've lived my life by. They have gotten me hurt, in deep trouble, and put my back up against the wall. But they've also prevented others from being hurt, defended those who needed to be defended, and let me be a strength that others can draw on. I have broad shoulders as the saying goes. She was I think preparing me for a life without a male role-model, or at least a father since my grandfather was a damn good man. There is a hole in a child's heart when he loses one or both parents. It's something that cannot be filled except by a mother or father. I thought that my stepfather was going to fill that hole. We'd go on wondrous adventures outdoors and play games, and I'd call him Dad and he'd call me son. Alas, it wasn't meant to be, and eventually I was fatherless once more. That's why I always found it odd that later on I somehow found not one father figure, but two. Donald Johnston was, and remains, the best man I've ever met. He's sort of hard to describe because ....well I have something akin to hero-worship for the man. Imagine someone who is kind, benevolent, and good - then multiply that by a hundred, and you might get somewhere close to the man. If he had been born eight hundred years ago he would have been a chivalric knight. He died on April 11th, 2007 at 10:20 am in his bed of mesothelioma. I miss him every day. I wake up crying some nights when I dream about him. I try not to think about him too much because it will send me into a crying fit. The other man I call father is (another) Don, and though I know he loves me like a son, his actual son and I don't get along (which is strange because we used to be the best of friends, but hey, I tried to fix our relationship - he didn't want to) so I try my best not to bother him too much. Otherwise, his own kid gets...well...bitchy. I suppose what I'm trying to say with my rambling is this: if you have a father, love him. Tell him that you love him. Spend time with him. You'll never know how long you'll get with him.
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When I was a boy, my grandfather was everything to me (grandfather is the name of God on the lips and hearts of little children). He was wise, he knew everything, and he told me stories. Sometimes they were fables, sometimes they were the tales of my folk and family, and (most) times they were things he made up on the spot to entertain me. He can remember the days of my youth listening to him hammer nails into something he'd just made (he was a master carpenter), the smell of sawdust tangy and sweet on my tongue, all the while a smooth-toned tenor told me stories.

"What would you like to hear today, Peter Rabbit?" he's say. "Tell me one of your stories" I'd say. Peter Rabbit being my grandfather's nickname for me as a boy because I was always getting into trouble or being somewhere I wasn't supposed to - but never underfoot. Children were meant to be near so they could learn. My granddaddy never once told his grandchildren to leave. Instead he'd say something like "Sit down and learn something" or "Go get my hammer." He was always inclusive. And though the two dozen or so other grandchildren would love to say otherwise - it was just never true. I didn't realize until much later how much I actually learned from him in those lazy days in his woodshop. I can still hear his voice now if I listen hard enough. The taps of a steady hammering rhythm coming from the back yard. The smell of pine dust in the air. And the cursing of a old man when he accidently hit his thumb with a hammer. I live in the house that belonged to my grandfather and grandmother. It's my mother's home. One day it may be mine (I hope I'm old and grey before that happens). I work constantly to keep it in the hands of its rightful heir. I bled for this place. I still bleed for it. I welcome the pain the battle brings and I'll happily go through worse. It's not just wood, stone, and paint. This house crawls with the ghosts of my family. It's a place whose corners are occupied with the memories of those who've come before. The walls may bear many coats of paint, but the walls are still the walls. Well worn and well-loved. Dented from excitable grandchildren and not-so-careful children moving furniture. The sounds of laughter echo in this place more than those of weeping. As I sit here navel gazing, I look out my window, from where I can see the whole front yard and the street below. Where the back door is a few feet away in the opposite direction. I see the fireflies. I always think of my grandfather on days like this. I never got a chance to know him as a man (he died when I was 17), but those memories, like treasured photos of the past linger in my mind - drawing a landscape with his voice. I can feel his calloused fingers scruffing up my hair, the soft sound of him humming or whistling a tune of his own making, and the love that he had for me. He used to tell me that fireflies were the eyes of God. I never really got what that means (I still don't), but on nights like tonight. Nights where the fireflies wink in and out like tiny supernovas in some vast and endless dark, I remember his words. "Fireflies are the eyes of God, Peter Rabbit, remember that." I don't believe in God anymore. After he died faith became this poisonous thing to me. It gave me no comfort and only made me bitter and resentful. But I remember those words. And I remember how much he loved me, how much he loved all of us. How when he was told it would be months and he'd be dead from cancer - how he hung on for two years. How he fought, that titan of a man, how he gave no quarter to the Reaper. How he said "Not Today" every day for so long that in the end, what took him was the thing that wasn't killing him. So as I look out on my lawn and sit in my room and think about him and wondering if he'd be proud of me. Seeing the wink of fireflies going in and out. All I that comes to mind is "Fireflies are the eyes of God." And that comforts me.

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Guys, sorry about the lack of a GURPS post on my blog - I found a kitten in a neighbor's car (in the engine block!) and well...I adopted him. He's mine now (I'm his?) and I spent most of last night consoling him. He's maybe 3 or 4 weeks old and he's eaten his weight in milk, wet food, and dry food every day. What's really weird is he looks more or less like a animal NPC from one of my GURPS games that's been running (and recently rebooted) for a long time. Blue eyes and all. I named his Nimbus. Regular posting will resume on Tuesday. Here are a few pictures of him.









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