The Misadventures of the USS Mountain Dew – Mission 1

Recently at Tower of Games I had the opportunity to try out Artemis Spaceship Bridge Simulator at Tower of Games. We played the game on three laptops with the mainscreen laptop hooked up to a 42″ HDTV. And in a shameless bit for publicity we filmed it. As you can see from the video, we had a lot of fun doing this. Mission 3 will be coming soon. There is no Mission 2.


Catching up on the Backlog – Airsoft

There’s only one thing worse than not being busy. And that’s being busy but forgetting to tell anyone about it. I haven’t been updating my website like I should, and I’ve definitely been up to a lot with the Old-Schooled Tournament and airsoft. So here’s the first stage in fixing that problem. It’s the last two airsoft videos I’ve produced over at Ballahack Airsoft. The first is just a video of the general saturday gameplay at the field. The second video is from Revelations II, the post-apocalyptic style scenario event that happened on the 26th of November, 2011. Enjoy.


Alternate Control Points for Airsoft Conquest Scenarios

These Control Points are captured using stopwatches instead of rope

After my initial writeup for Conquest gameplay in airsoft there has been some concern over using knots tied in a rope to control the capturing of a point. The main concern being is that some players will be significantly faster at tying and untying knots than other players, and that some players may be able to tie knots so tight that it’s near impossible for other players to untie them. While in the original writeup it was expected that some players might be better at tying and untying knots (And it some ways that’s part of the fun.) it was never expected that players might might be able to tie simple overhand knots tight enough that it’s nigh impossible to untie them. Some testing of different types of rope to experiment to see which ones can’t be tied into incredibly tight knots may be in order. In any case to address that issue this article presents two alternate versions of the control points, a simple and complex one, that replace the knots with a stopwatch.

About the Stopwatch

Everyone should be familiar with what a stopwatch is. You press a button, it starts counting up time. It pauses if you hit the start/stop button, it resumes counting up time if you hit the start/stop button again, and if you hit the reset button the timer resets back to 0. There isn’t much too special to note here, but since the usage of these stopwatches will often account for the counter being stopped and then started again to plan for captures being interrupted. In these rules start or stop refers to pressing the start / stop button on the stop watch and pausing or resuming the timer. Reset refers to hitting the reset or lap reset button to reset the timer back to 0. Make sure you are familiar with the stopwatch you use before using it and make sure the stopwatch is able to easily pause and resume it’s timer and is able to easily reset it back to zero. The simpler the stopwatch, the better.

Simple Stopwatch Control Point

A Simple Stopwatch Control Point

In this variant everything with the control point is driven by the stop watch. The stopwatch is suspended from a nail or peg from the control point board. When a player is capturing the control point they need to be touching the control point and may not fire their weapon, and medics capturing may not heal. The time it takes to capture the control point for each team is listed on the control point in minutes (This needs to be playtested as minutes might be too long of a time increment.) If the point is neutral then a player from one team only needs to spend the amount of time listed to raise their flag over the control point. If on the other hand the control point is owned by the enemy then they need to spend the amount of time listed for their team to turn the point neutral again and then do it again to capture the point for their team.

Using the example for Control Point #2 on the right, it would take the Red team 6 minutes to capture Control Point #2, 3 minutes to make Control Point #2 neutral, and then 3 more minutes to capture Control Point #2 for Red. If the capture time for the point had listed Blue: 3, Red: 2, then the Red player would have need to 4 minutes total to capture. 2 minutes to make the point neutral, 2 minutes to capture for Red. Conversely for a Blue player to capture such a point from Red they would need to wait 6 minutes, 3 to make it neutral, 3 to capture.

If at any point during the capture process a player is interrupted, such as they need to break body contact with the point, fire their weapon, heal another player, or are hit then they need to stop the timer on the stop watch and hang it back up on the control point. A player from the same team (Including the player that stopped the timer initially) may start the timer again to complete the capture. If a living player from the opposite team makes it to the control point however, then they must reset the timer to zero.  Once capturing is complete a player must also reset the timer to zero.

Example of Capturing a Simple Stopwatch Control Point

Control Point #2 (As seen above) takes 3 minutes for the Red and Blue teams to capture. It starts play neutral. A Blue player reaches Control Point #2, touches the point and starts the timer. After 3 minutes go by they capture the point for Blue and raise the Blue flag, reset the timer, and place it back on it’s peg. Later on a Red player comes to Control Point #2. They touch the point and start the timer. After 3 minutes is reached on the timer they knock down the Blue flag, making the point neutral again. They do not stop the timer and continue to wait until the timer has reached 6 minutes, then they have captured this control point and raise the Red flag over Control Point #2, resetting the timer and placing it back on the peg.

Afterward a Blue player returns to Control Point #2 and begins to capture. They begin capturing the point and start the timer. After 1.5 minutes they see a Red player approaching the point. They stop the timer, place it back on the point, and fire upon the Red player, hitting and wounding him. The blue player returns to point and starts the timer again, resuming from the 1.5 minute mark. The timer passes 3 minutes so the Blue player knocks down the Red flag, making Control Point #2 neutral again. However once the timer reads 4.5 minutes the Blue player is hit and eliminated. The Blue player stops the timer and puts the stopwatch back on it’s peg. A Red player then comes to the now neutral point. The timer on the peg reads 4.5 minutes. However the Red player is on the opposite team so they must reset the timer to 0. The Red player may now start the timer again, and once the timer has reached 3 minutes they have captured Control Point #2 for Red again, they raise the Red flag, reset the timer, and place it back on the peg.

Complex Stopwatch Control Point

Metal Tent Stakes

The simple stopwatch control point works well enough, however it loses a bit of the back and forth the original knots system has because enemy players reset the timer to 0 rather than having to “undo” the capturing of the enemy player. In the Complex Stopwatch Control Point the stopwatch is still used, but the progress of capture is marked by stakes on pegs or hooks. Metal tent stakes are being used for this writeup since they should be cheap to buy and they’re already in a convenient shape, but any convenient object could be used: Wire hangers, plastic rings, loops of string with some kind of weight on the end. As long as it can be hung on a peg, nail, or hook it will work well for this method.

A Complex Stopwatch Control Point

The control point will have three pegs for capturing the control point on it. A Neutral Peg, a Blue Peg, and a Red Peg. Capturing a control point is a process of moving the stakes from one peg to another. Players are allowed to move stakes from one peg to another for every minute they are involved capturing (or re-securing) the control point. Just like the Simple Stopwatch Control Point, when a player is capturing the control point they need to be touching the control point and may not fire their weapon, and medics capturing may not heal. Unlike the Simple Stopwatch Control Point, the stopwatch is always reset when capturing is interrupted. When capturing a player must always move stakes from the enemy team’s peg to the neutral peg first, and once all enemy stakes are on the neutral peg they are then allowed to move stakes from the neutral peg to their team’s peg. A point is captured for a team when the required number of stakes has been moved to their team’s peg on the control point. A point becomes neutral once the team owning it loses all the stakes from it’s peg.

A player is allowed to move a stake to an allowed peg as long as the required time on the stopwatch has passed. If a player’s stopwatch has hit the the minute mark and they are hit they are still allowed to move one stake to the next peg, but afterward they must reset the timer and may not move any more stakes.

Example of Capturing a Complex Stopwatch Point

Control Point #2 (As seen above) starts the game neutral. There are 3 stakes on the neutral peg, and both teams need 3 stakes on their peg to capture the point. A Blue player reaches the point and begins capturing it. They start the timer and for each minute that goes by they move 1 stake from the Neutral Peg to the Blue Peg. Once they have m0ved all 3 stakes to the Blue Peg they have captured Control Point #2 for the Blue team and raise their flag over the point. The Blue player resets the timer after capturing the point.

A little while later a Red player comes to the point and begins capturing it. They start the timer and for each minute that passes they move one stake from the Blue Peg to the Neutral Peg. Once they have moved all 3 stakes off of the Blue Peg and onto the Neutral Peg the point becomes neutral again and the Red player knocks down the Blue flag. The Red player continues capturing the point. 2 more minutes pass, allowing the Red player to move 2 stakes from the Neutral Peg to the Red Peg. However at 5.5 minutes (30 seconds short of capturing the point for the Red team.) the Red player is hit and wounded. The Red player resets the timer and places it back on it’s peg. There is currently 1 stake on the Neutral Peg and 2 stakes on the Red Peg. Control Point #2 is still neutral.

A Blue player returns to the point and begins to capture it. The Blue player is not allowed to move the stake on the Neutral Peg to the Blue Peg because there are stakes on the Red Peg. After 2 minutes pass the Blue Player moves the 2 stakes from the Red Peg to the Neutral Peg. Now that there are no longer any stakes on the Red Peg the Blue player is allowed to move stakes from the Neutral Peg to the Blue Peg. 3 more minutes pass and the Blue Player moves all 3 stakes from the Neutral Peg to the Blue Peg, capturing the point again for the Blue team. The Blue player resets the timer and raises the Blue Flag over Control Point #2.

Another Red player returns and begins capturing the point. 2 minutes pass and they move 2 stakes from the Blue Peg to the Neutral Peg. The Red player is then hit and eliminated. The timer is reset and replaced on it’s peg. Control Point #2 still belongs to the Blue Team. A Blue player spawns at Control Point #2, using up one Blue ticket, and begins the process of securing the point, spending 2 minutes to move 2 stakes from from the Neutral Peg back onto the Blue Peg.

Conquest Scenarios for Airsoft

A diagram of a Control Point

This is a writeup for Conquest-style scenarios in airsoft. Conquest is the iconic game style done in the Battlefield game series and systems like it are used in other similar games such as Day of Defeat. This is not a specific scnario, but an outline for basic rules with which to write scenarios. The driving idea behind this style game is to abstract a large conflict, representative of a massive number of troops for both sides, where the game is actually played with a relatively small number of players, roughly around 20+. This document aims to provide the framework for these style games in a manner that’s easy to setup and organize for airsoft.


Conquest games focus on the capture of various control points, each one associated nearby respawn points. Each control point has a number of tickets which determine how often members of a team may respawn at that point’s respawn points. For each team there is one deployment zone, which is where that team starts, which is identical to a control point except it cannot be captured by the enemy team. (Optionally, instead of a deployment zone a regular control point may be used, making it possible to stop a team from respawning entirely. This tends to make the perception of where a force’s troops are coming from shift strangely, however.)

A team may win the game by one of two conditions.

A) The other team runs out of tickets at of the spawn points they currently own. Note that players of the losing team may be still “alive” and active, but if their tickets are gone the game is over: They have run out of reinforcements and they are abandoned in the field while their main force is in full retreat.

B) When the time limit for the game is reached the team with more “available tickets” is declared the winner. Available tickets means tickets at all the control points that team owns when time is called. In the case of a tie the team with more control points wins. If it’s still a tie then the game is a stalemate.

Basic Rules

(Note: This is not a comprehensive list of rules. Regular field rules still apply unless contradicted here.)

Each team is assigned a color. Commonly red and blue, though any available color can be used. (Though assigning colors for teams and medics that are not difficult for color blind players IE: Red/green is a good idea.) These colors will be consistently used for each team’s armbands, (or other team markers) flags, ropes, and tickets. Medics are assigned an additional armband in addition to their team color which distinguishes them as medics. The medic color should be the same for both teams.

A hit player is wounded. Wounded players may not move or talk beyond the exceptions allowed by the field. Living players may “move” 1 wounded player by maintaining body contact and leading the wounded player. Medics may heal 1 wounded player by maintaining body contact for 1 minute (recommended) where the medic does not shoot or move the wounded player. If this process is interrupted then it must be restarted from the beginning.

A wounded player has a bleed out time of 2 minutes (recommended) that starts the moment they are hit. Wounded players may not respawn until their bleed out time has passed. Additionally wounded players must respawn if their bleed out time has passed. Wounded players may not begin heading to respawn until their bleed out time has passed. If a medic reaches a player before the bleed out time has passed they may heal the player even if the bleed out time is reached during the healing process. A wounded player who has at least been touched by a medic is not forced to respawn and may wait for a medic indefinitely. (They have been “stabilized” by the medic.) Note that this does not end the bleed out time. A player who was hit and after 30 seconds is touched by a medic, but not healed by them, must stay in place and may not begin respawning until the other 1 minute and 30 seconds have passed.

Optionally, players may also be “stabilized” by another player moving them, instead of only by medics. This encourages players to recover dead players more and helps players not have to worry about counting their bleed out time while being moved.

Control Points and Respawning

Control points consist of the following items.

  1. A numbered flag marker for each team. (Optional “Neutral” flag is possible to aid locating points when no team owns them.)
  2. A bucket for each team containing unused tickets.
  3. A bucket for each team containing used (torn in half) tickets.
  4. A rope colored for each team.
  5. A series of spawn point stakes bearing a number matching the control point

Deployment zones are similar to control points except they only have a flag and buckets for the team that owns them. Deployment zones have no rope on them because they cannot be captured. The deployment zone flag should be different than the control point flag so the enemy team will know not to try capturing them. (In the diagram above triangle flags are control points, square flags are deployment zones.) It is recommended that players be restricted from getting within 100 feet of enemy deployment zones in accordance with the usual “spawn camping” rules. (Note: These rules won’t be in effect at control points because control points are nearby spawn points.

To respawn a player must return to a control point or deployment zone, take out one unused (whole) ticket of their team’s color and tear it in half. The player then needs to goto one of the spawn point stakes for the control point or deployment zone and touch it at which point they have respawned. If they are at a control point which is lost while they are positioning themselves to respawn the player’s ticket is still spent but they need to goto another control point or deployment zone before they may actually respawn. Spawn stakes will be placed nearby control points but away far enough away from the control point so players cannot instantly spawn and take out enemies capturing their control point, or vice versa, keeping players capturing a control point from camping enemies trying to spawn and defend their control point. Alternatively instead of “spawn point stakes” a distance may be designated from the point where they may respawn. In this case each spawn point has a minimum and maximum distance from the point that players may spawn at.

The number of tickets for each team at each control point and deployment zone is set at the beginning of the scenario. Usually the number of tickets is the same for all control points, with deployment zones having a larger number of tickets than a single control point has. Control points with different number of tickets could be used to make a point more valuable for a team to own, could be used to encourage conflicts in certain areas, or could be used to represent that an area deep in enemy territory is harder for one team to control with one team having more tickets there than the other.

The ropes at each control point are used to control capture of the point. Initially the ropes at each control point have no knots in them. To capture a neutral control point a “living” player from that team must tie a pre-determined number of knots into their team’s rope, (Simple overhand knots only) at which point they raise their team’s flag at that control point. (Note: The point is owned by that team once the required knots have been tied. A dead player is allowed to raise the flag at that point.)

To capture an enemy control point a living player must untie all the knots from the enemy team’s rope first. Once the last knot in the enemy team’s rope is untied the control point becomes neutral (players should take down the enemy flag) and no team can spawn there at all. Then a living player must tie the required knots for their team’s rope to capture the control point, at which point they switch the flag to their color and then their teammates can spawn at the point.

A player may re-tie knots in their own team’s rope, but may not tie more knots than the number allotted for that point. A player must always untie knots in the other team’s rope before they are allowed to start tying knots in their own team’s rope, and may never tie knots in their rope if there are knots in the opposing team’s rope.

Alternatively it can be setup so points do not go neutral once a team’s knots have been untied from their rope. In this case players may keep spawning at the control point until the enemy team has tied their last knot and captured the control point, at which point flags are changed. This makes it harder to capture points because defenders may spawn at the control point for a longer period of time.

The basic idea for the game is to require that a number of knots be set for each points which is universal. (For example, five knots.) However if desired each control point can be given different numbers of knots required. In this case each point will have the number of knots required posted next to that team’s rope. For example if a certain control point is more valuable then it may have a higher number of knots required for both teams. Or if a control point is close to one team’s deployment and it’s desired to represent the “home territory” aspect then one team could only need 3 knots on that control point while the other team requires 7 knots.

Example of capturing a control point

Control Point #2 is neutral. A team must tie 5 knots in their rope to capture this point. A Blue player comes to the point and ties 5 knots in their rope, capturing the point and raising the Blue flag over Control Point #2. Blue players may now spawn at the spawn points marked #2. Later on a player from the Red team assaults the point and unties all 5 of Blue’s knots. They knock down the Blue flag and Control Point #2 is neutral again. Now no players may spawn at spawn points marked #2. The Red player ties 3 knots in the Red rope before they are hit and eliminated. Control Point #2 point is still neutral. A Blue player returns and unties all of the Red team’s knots and ties 2 knots in the Blue rope before they are hit and eliminated. The point is still neutral and no players may spawn at spawn points marked #2. After a pitched exchange a Blue player returns and ties 3 more knots into the Blue rope, capturing the point for Blue again and raising the Blue flag over Control Point #2 once more. Blue players may now spawn at the spawn points marked #2 again.

A short while later another Red player assaults Control Point #2 and unties 3 of Blue’s knots before they are hit and eliminated. 2 knots remain on Blue’s rope so Control Point #2 is still owned by the Blue team. A Blue player spawns at one of the #2 spawn points, using 1 Blue ticket for Control Point #2, and reties 2 knots on Blue’s rope. The Blue player may not tie a third knot because that would raise the number of knots of Blue’s rope to 6, which is more than the number required for the point.

Please direct any questions or comments on this to the comments section below. I’ll post an example of what a scenario using these rules would look like in the coming days.


Newly Painted Miniatures

So lately I’ve been involved in playing a lot of Battletech, the classic game of 31st century combat that is now in it’s 25th year of running. I’ve had some miniatures for this game for a while that were awfully painted which I striped the paint from and took another stab at updating them. Have a look at them and see what you think.

Marauder - 1st Chisholm's Raiders RCT

Warhammer - 1st Federated Suns Armored Cavalry

Wolverine - 4th Arkab Legion

Phoenix Hawk - The Crescent Hawks


Avatar 2: Nukes from Space!

Admit it, you thought this too

So after everyone else on the planet has seen it I finally got around to seeing Avatar. What took me so long? Well there was that whole eye surgery thing that made me not want to goto movie theaters for a while. Then by the time I was in a state where I wasn’t constantly dropping drops in my eyes, or worried that the 3D would destroy my vision forever the movie was trapped in that limbo between the time between it’s in first run theaters and cheap theaters. So this week I spent a whopping $1 to see Avatar and $5 on a large soda and a large popcorn and settled down to watch the darn thing.

And you know what it was good and enjoyable. I liked watching it, it was fun, the visuals were stunning, the characters were interesting, and it told a pretty classic story. So all in all the movie was great. A+

But like a lot of other movies sometimes things just really glare out at you if you really start thinking about them. Like why not just drop bombs on the magical Yggdrasil stand-in tree from space? Does the future not have unmanned drones anymore? I mean they have unmanned blue people! Why not just use systems like the avatars to pilot a hordes of killer drones?! When that giant aboriginal horde is gathering, why not just dig in and plant land mines, etc. Maybe evac non-essential personnel off the rock first. That plan seems a lot more sound then, “Fly into the super-Bermuda triangle beneath the giant ambush rocks.” Why fly under the giant ambush rocks? Those things they were piloting are VTOLs! Fly over the bloody ambush rocks and /then/ descend. I’m pretty sure their vehicles with pressurized cockpits can fly higher than a bird can. Heck maybe just drop the bomb from that height to begin with! Why do the Navi’s arrows just bounce off their vehicles in one scene yet in a later at the climax of the film they punch through them like paper. For that matter why is anyone in the future making cockpit glass for military gunships out of glass weaker than today’s bullet-proof glass? And why in the hell wouldn’t the sequel be called, “Avatar 2: Nukes from Space”? You know that nine years later when the survivors get back to earth their response won’t be pretty.

Oh yeah, that’s assuming you ignore the fact that they have the only people dealing with the Navi under such little surveillance that they can so easily go off the reservation. Or why in the heck they can’t just dig a tunnel under the ground to the Unobtanium site and just mine it from there.* (I still can barely believe they really called it Unobtanium.) Nevermind that, there’s got to be other sites of the mineral somewhere on the planet that would be better to mine first before they start sinking their profits into a native extermination campaign.

Anyway, it’s a good movie. Just don’t think about it too hard. Let’s be honest, watching the “sky people” launch cruiser missiles and drones across Pandora for two hours would have been crazy boring.

*And let’s not get started on the fact that they show no scenes of Jake Sulley ever talking to the Navi about the Unobtanium, and if there is, you know, maybe someway they could get the really important space rocks the Navi don’t give a damn about in some way where everyone would be happy. I mean, I just assume magic space rocks came up sometime in montages or backstory, but who knows, maybe he never said a bloody thing.



Yesterday was V-day for me. The long-awaited day in planning since around August or September of last year. What happened around that time you ask? That’s the day I realized that I could get a lot better service at another company for over $20 less than what I was paying at Verizon, and so after my contact ran out on 3/27/10, I switched. Here’s the long and short of it. My Verizon plan used to cost me $55.48 a month, after taxes. With this plan I got 400 minutes of voice calls and 500 text messages, and no data usage at all. Needless to say this was a very bare bones plan I was using. Cut over to Page Plus Cellular. Page Plus has a Talk ‘n Text 1200 plan which gives you 1200 voice call minutes, 1200 text messages, and 50 MB of data usage per month for $29.99, after taxes. All this without a monthly contract. This is because Page Plus is a prepaid wireless company. The plan itself is a “card” you buy each month that puts you on this plan, and you can set it up to buy this “card” automatically each month. One nice side benefit is if you should manage to use up your 1200 of whatever, you can buy a refill card and avoid paying the fee for per minute usage fees. What makes this entire story even stranger is the fact that Page Plus uses Verizon’s towers for their service. Yes, that’s right, their coverage map is the same as Verizon’s, and your Verizon handsets are already setup to work on their service. The only thing that’s required for you to switch is to get the ESN on your phone and give them your account number and pin with Verizon and they can easily port over number and a simple command moves your phone over to their service.

What’s really funny about this whole deal is that Verizon kept calling me to tempt me into buying new phones so I would renew my contract. They would call me and say they could give me a phone free, only the phone they were offering was worse than my current phone. Really? That’s like trying to tempt you out of your Honda Accord with a Geo Metro. One service agent said, “Your phone is more of a full tool, this thing’s more of a toy.” I would then tell them that once my contract ran out I would be switching, told them what Page Plus would give me, and ask them if they could beat it. Generally I was treated to long pauses and a lot of stuttering followed by ended calls. I had one of them actually promise me that they would look into it and call me back, but of course they never did. How typical. So, goodbye Verizon. I won’t miss you and your overpriced service ever again. V-day has come and cellular liberation is here!


Goodbye Miss Ruby

Ruby: 1996 - 2010

Ruby has been in my family for the past 14 years of my life. Right before my freshman year in high school my family and I went looking for a dog. We ended up picking a 6-month old pointer mix from the SPCA. I remember exactly how Ruby was when we first had her in the visiting room in the SPCA with us, how she was wildly wagging her tail, sniffing at us and so excited to be meeting people. We couldn’t not take her home with us after that. Her excitement and friendly nature would define her for the rest of her life, and our first big task in training her would be to get her to stop jumping up on people to smell them, followed by not pulling on her leash in an effort to meet each new person or dog, the latter we never could stop her from doing.

Ruby’s was very similar to a dalmatian, being slightly smaller with her weight being around 45 lbs, with small brown freckled spots covering her white coat in addition to the two large spots she had on one side. Like many other hounds of her type she was very vocal, more likely to make high-pitched yelps and other “talking” sounds instead of barks, the first greeting into my home that visitors had for years, at least until Bailey got her to bark “properly.” Her favorite thing of all was to meet people and to have them pay attention to her. Her tail would soon become the bane of visitors as she would whip it back and forth whenever she was happy, to the detriment of any unlucky shins nearby. And training her to sit and stay was always a struggle when she would sit down and whip that tail of hers like she was cleaning the floor while she sat up so prim and proper, her head held up while her front paws would dance up and down alternating as she would get anxious for her treat. We never did get her to shake hands properly as frustrated plus “give paw” turns into, “flail one paw out wildly until the treat appears.” Her white hairs have also permeated every single piece of fabric in my home. The hairs are short and white and she always seemed to be shedding them, the shape of them almost needle-like, threading themselves into everything and becoming almost impossible to remove.

Ruby was always energetic and playful, and I spent many hours wrestling over ropes and working on that whole fetch concept with her. When it came to walks Ruby always wanted to go ahead of you, and would pull at her leash just a little bit to get where she wanted to be despite all attempts to get her to heel nice and ladylike. She was always good about staying in our yard, except when she wasn’t, and then she would adventure off wherever she pleased. Once she slipped out and when we found her she had walked half of the subdivision away to a nearby church, Bailey following her lead, the pair of them like two misbehaving kids sneaking out.

It seemed like Ruby was destined to stay young forever, strangers mistaking her for a puppy or 1 year old dog until she was past ten years old. But time slowly began to catch up with Ruby. It started with small things, not greeting me or anyone else coming in the house in favor of staying put, no longer wanting to go for walks, and certainly not pulling on the leash. Her arthritis become worse and worse, and in this last year I’ve spent much of that time lifting Ruby up onto high beds and wrapping her in blankets so she can be in her favorite places and stay in the same room as wherever her mama was, her favorite place to be.

Earlier this month we took her to the vet because she had lost a lot of weight. Were informed she had a mass on her spleen. The vet said the mass was most likely cancer but didn’t appear to be spreading, and they couldn’t confirm what it was without an ultrasound, and all that would do would tell us if she had an condition where the only treatment is surgery, something that you shouldn’t put a 14-year-old dog through. So we took her home and were given antibiotics, in case it wasn’t cancer, and were advised to give her a little extra pain medication if she needed it. We tried switching her to wet Beneful meals instead of the dry dog food she’d lived her life on and that seemed to convince her to eat more, and she ate up her new food with gusto, and put on 5 pounds in a few weeks, and with her added weight seemed to be doing better and getting along fine and comfortably.

But last night on Valentine’s Day she suddenly showed signs for the worst. She had extreme difficulty walking and going outside to use the bathroom. Instead of going on the couch or following her mama to bed she instead went to her little dog bed in our living room, and even then she stumbled to get over the little trim of the bed. The whole family ended up spending that night in the living room to be with and comfort Ruby. The next morning we thought maybe she was feeling better as she got up to go outside, but once she got out she once again had such difficulty walking, and looked like she was “crumpling” from the strain. I was about to go outside and carry her inside when she finally mustered up the will and made it back into the house. After some more time with her and getting her to eat a few fistfuls of liver treats and some small nibbles of food hand fed we took her to the vet. She’d always liked being in the waiting room of the vet, and she insisted on standing and smelling what she could while we were there, but once we got into the examination room she was totally exhausted and went to lay right down on the blankets that had been laid out there and didn’t even budge when the vet examined her. So after much discussion we decided it was best to put her to sleep, and so at 10:15AM eastern time today, Ruby passed away laying next to me on those same blankets while I pet her.

She was the first dog I’ve ever had. When we got her Clinton was running against Bob Dole to clinch his second term in office, Duke Nukem 3D had just come out, WordPress and Livejournal didn’t exist yet, and America Online hadn’t yet unveiled their $19.99/month unlimited access plan which ushered the majority of America onto the internet. It’s still hard to believe she’s gone. I’d almost do anything else other than be writing this now, but I don’t want to forget today, and immortalizing this on my blog is the best way I know how to make sure I remember how I feel right now. Goodbye Miss Ruby. I’ll miss you.

<More pictures will be added here later>


Two Eye Slicings and a Mugging

Ello. My name's Horatio, Horatio Harpell, and I've been stolen by bloody wankers.

Monday turned out to be one of the busiest days in recent memory for me, a day that started out with great and exciting events and ended with a bit of a nasty blow to the rickety jury-rigged thing I call a life. It started out with me around noon going down to get LASIK surgery for my eyes. I’ve been horribly nearsighted for a very long time with -6.5 prescription. Having to spend a couple hundred dollars a year every year for new lenses and exams and sometimes contacts seemed like a horrible waste after my father had the procedure done and it worked great. So I spent my afternoon drinking a coke and a baby Valium, signing the last of forms, and finally getting wheeled under the most terrifying looking machine, and getting a little flap cut in my cornea followed by a laser flashing a few times, smelling burnt ozone and thinking, “So this is what the lemon feels like when it’s being zested,” all while trying to remain totally still and calm. I make it sound worse than it is. The whole procedure is almost entirely painless. The only pain I felt was when the suction cup with the microkeratome cut the flap in my eye, like a needle prick, and before you even realize you’ve felt anything it’s over. Honestly I’ve had cavities drilled out and filled which were more traumatic than the LASIK procedure, and this procedure is really only so stressful because it’s unfamiliar. But even though it’s not so bad, it still leaves you a bundle of nerves, because you are getting your eye cut and your lower brain functions are spending the whole procedure screaming “We’re getting cut, dammit! Abort! Abort!” at your higher brain functions. You know, kind of like getting a cavity drilled.

So after the surgery I was supposed to be spending the day resting, which I did for the most part, but not entirely as around dinner time I got a call from a friend telling me they had found my two of my D&D books and my gaming supplies in a pile beneath his car. As it turns out someone coveted the backpack where I keep my gaming supplies and on the 29th of January had broken out the driver’s side rear vent window to get into my car and steal my red swiss gear backpack and then they decided to open it up and dump the contents of the main compartment beneath my friend’s car, allowing both books to be destroyed by the snow and making off with my pencils, dry erase markers, calculator, rubber bands, miniature box and miniatures, dice, dice cup, and the custom Horatio Harpell miniature which I took a picture of on the right. So instead of getting to take a nap after dinner I ended up having to call the police and file a police report about the whole event. While we’d noticed the window was broken on the 30th we had thought the cold had somehow caused the window the to break. After covering up the window we all returned inside, as it was still snowing, and no one realized anything was missing from the car until my books turned up at a friend’s house, alerting us to the fact that my possessions were missing. All in all the missing items totaled around $300+ at retail, $250 of which the thief is probably going to throw away because it’s all gaming supplies, and he already trashed the PHB and Forgotten Realms Players Guide right after stealing the bags. So yeah, all that damage just because some neighborhood kid wanted a book bag. According to the police officer handling the case, if you have to put bags like that in your car, put them in the trunk where thieves can’t see them, as they’re not likely to break into a car if they don’t know if anything worth taking will be inside.

Goodbye NBC and WAVY-TV

Well tonight is Conan O’Brien’s last night on the airwaves as host of the Tonight Show. And so I’ve decided that tonight will be the last night I watch NBC, and by extension my local NBC affiliate, WAVY-TV 10. As of now I’ve deleted all episodes of Heroes I had planned to watch, and yesterday’s Community is the last of that show I’ll be seeing. It’s unfortunate I have to stop supporting a good, new show that deserves the ratings, but there you have it. I can’t sit by and help fun the network that’s destroying what I consider to be the greatest thing on modern television. Uncharacteristically of me I actually took the time to send a professional snail mail letter to my local NBC affiliate’s, WAVY-TV, president and manager, explaining why I would be switching off his station forever, a station that I’ve watched since 1993. Here’s a copy.

January 22, 2010

Doug Davis of WAVY-TV 10
300 Wavy St.
Portsmouth, VA 23704

Dear Doug:

I’ve been a viewer of your station ever since moving to the area in 1993. My household has enjoyed your station and your newscast for years and has even contributed to your “10 on your side” segment in the past, as well as enjoying programming provided over the air for years by your network. However by the time you read this letter we will have turned off your station forever. In light of NBC’s deplorable treatment of Conan O’Brien I’ve decided it’s best to turn off NBC entirely, and by extension your station. I know this isn’t actually your station’s fault, but I refuse to support a network that has ruined one of the few remaining good things on television, and by extension that means I cannot support anyone affiliated with NBC either. I will also be posting this letter online for public viewing and encouraging everyone I know to switch off NBC and your station as well. Goodbye WAVY, it was nice knowing you.

Don Scherig

Included with the letter was the image you see attached to this post, printed on an index card, in case the letter wasn’t clear enough.