Yesterday, when I needed it most, the universe plopped an EXTRA LARGE inflatable castle in front of me.

In an effort to embrace the universe, I moseyed on in and jumped jumped jumped jumped jumped. Its been twenty years since I've jumped jumped jumped like that. I also did a spectacular forward flip which had me completely suspended in the air, then plopped down, painlessly, on the castle's inflatable blue floor.

Wow. High-jumping is such a thrill. As is falling on my butt, then being propelled up again.

I slid out of the castle, slipped on my shoes, and was seemingly whisked by an invisible hand to a nearby booth in which fresh fruit was passed out and DIY bracelet making kits were offered, FREE ! I strung an absolutely exquisite pattern of pink and green plastic hearts on cheap plastic fishing wire and loved every minute of it.

The enzymes in the chunks of pineapple in the fruit salad saved my life. There's just something magical about pineapple.

These lovely opportunities, I later learned, fell under the rubrick of a college campus' Stress-Relief day. I also made my own button and acquired a shiny, plastic, star-speckled bags filled with samples of lube, condoms, and safe sex guidelines.

Sometimes the universe is kind. Sometimes it delivers without much effort on the recipient's part. It's always best when it comes unannounced, like grace.

I've tried incorporating play into my own life, but not enough. I want to do it without having to shell out $300 for a ticket to Black Rock City. Some woman I read about makes over 250K a year teaching corporate stiffs how to play and have fun. She says that our notions of work having to be hard and devoid of fun is wrong. And that we've been conditioned to believe all these negative notions about work and play that are simply not objectively true. She says work doesn't have to be hard. And that we can have fun, now, and everyday, even while working.

There are still disproportionately more questions than answers. Where will I be in five years? Will I be better off? Worse off? Will I have wasted another five years? Will I have made progress in my various projects? Or stagnated? Will I have made the career shift? Will my dreams come true? Or will the bitter pit of life leave a lingering bitter taste on my tongue?

What would Eckhart say? Let it come to me? Don't try to manipulate so much? Let the universe bring the answer to me?

I have a strong notion of where I want to be, but little more than a penny, a rucksack, and a business card I found at a bus stop to get me there. Will the Universe provide when there's a Will, as the laws of attraction state? Will things just work out? Will God help me if I help myself? I honestly do not know what the future brings.

I bought a special lotto ticket this last weekend. Did some kind of mojo mumbo jumbo to come up with nine rows of numbers at $1 pop. Used pixie dust and fairy drool and chicken legs and all that. Dug up old papers with numbers and used those numbers. All the winning numbers appeared in my humble nine rows, just not in the right sequence. Many of the winning numbers recurred. My efforts yielded me a whole $9--I broke even. Neither better off nor worse off than I was.

What is the universe trying to tell me? I won't progress, but I won't regress? Or that I'm breaking even NOW (a reminder?). Shit, couldn't the Universe have at least put me ahead $1? What does it mean?

Well, only time will tell, I suppose. I am thinking more play. The real, physical kind, such as jumping. And frisbee in the park. And bubbles and squirt guns.

Recently, I was listening to a podcast in which a well known astronomy professor was discussing the end of the earth as we know it. The sun is going through changes--red giant, white dwarf, etc. Ok, it's not going to happen overnight. But it will happen in a few hundred million years. But humans--at the rate we're going--only have about 10,000 years left (at the rate we're going). And, when asll is said and done, it could end in the blink of an eye. Asteroid. Nuclear incident. Super virus. Not very encouraging.

I think it's time to jump.


Network Issues We Wish We Didn't Have

Network Neutrality (in case you've been vacationing under a rock...) is mucho caliente.

I'm staring at a half-empty cup on this one. I believe that the triumvirate of corporations, politicians, and miscellaneous special interest groups (the mainstream media, so-called experts and bureaucrats, etc.) have all but obliterated any chance the "common wo(man)" has in benefiting from low-cost/high quality or no-strings-attached airwaves, networks, utilities, and/or public services.

Big $$$ walks and little people talk, right? Thank our friendly Republicrat$ and Demican$ (as it so happens, the Christian Colaition is pro net neutrality).

Lots of people in the Bay Area bitch about the big bully cable provider and the lack of competition in this market. But how many of us know who really let it happen? Where's the paper trail (and this includes dollar bills)? I suspect the when net neutrality is defeated (yes, I'm a dispositional pessimist), the whole thing will become a nebulous cobweb of ambiguous perpetrators.

There are only two choices left in the U.S. today. Coke & Pepsi.

According to Project Censored, the Main$tream media has put a lid on stories about net neutrality (does this give us any inkling of where their $ympathie$ lie?). Most people in the U.S. know more about Brittney and Lindsay's underwear choices than about net neutrality.

Well, I guess I'm a pessimist when it comes to believing that David will win Goliath in the net neutrality game and any other anti-trust, anti-monopoly, censorship, and corruption scenario.

I'd love to be proven wrong, though.


Movment and Migration

Historical human migration, out of Africa across Eurasia, began about a million years ago. European colonialism led to accelerate migration, beginning at about the 16th century and reaching new heights in the 19th century.

Army ants migrate to locate food. They sometimes raid other ant colonies and capture "slaves." Army ants are nomadic and they really do march at night and are said to have collective intelligence.

In 2005, the Ministry of Reshelving aimed to convince as many people as possible in the US to raid bookstores and move George Orwell's 1984 out of the fiction section to more appropriate sections, such as non-fiction.

Jocelyn Wildenstein
paid millions of dollars to have her face transformed into one that resembles a cat (although, seriously, I've never seen a cat that looked that bad).

Geocaching is an outdoor treasure hunt game in which participants use a GPS device to locate hidden caches (small containers that typically contain trinkets of insignificant monetary value). Geocaching has its roots in letterboxing. Numerous websites list the coordinates of geocaches around the world.

Wikipedia defines balloon as a flexible bag filled with a type of gas. In 2007, a "Blogged" balloon was burst by reader clicks(how's that for interactive blogging?).

And speaking of round, buoyant, globular objects...according to Awful Plastic surgery, fake breasts (think nearly every "actress" inHollywood and British tarts with crossover-American appeal) are easily discernable from real ones by their "bolted on" look and the large gap (like you can drive a truck through it) in between in breasts.


What's Luck Got To Do With It?

I did everything right (or so I thought). I followed the rules. I paid on time. I met the damn deadline. I chose good solid upstanding numbers (these numbers were good. damn good). I didn't lie. I didn't cheat. I didn't steal. I helped little old ladies across the street. I followed the rules to a T. Oh lord did I try.

But I lost the damn lotto. Again.

The lottery is still the best game, though, in my opinion:

  • It's accessible to all--rich and poor alike
  • It transcends race, class, gender, religion, and sexual orientation (how many institutions can claim that?)
  • It's cheap (damn cheap)
  • The benefits disproportionately outweigh the risks
  • The tickets are all cute and orange
  • The reception from the other parties involved (e.g. store clerks) is overwhelmingly friendly and positive ("Good Luck!")

Ah, so what if the odds of winning the big win of Super Lotto Plus are one in 41,416,353. Nothing good comes easy. Even good ketchup...you have to wait for the damn thing to pour out of the bottle.

My California State Lottery record, to date, is a whopping $11.00. But I do have faith that I WILL WIN BIG SOMEDAY ! Something about the proletariat nature of the game and aspirations of spending copious amounts of time on the beaches of Mallorca just keep me going back for seconds (and thirds...).

Little known facts about the lottery* :

  • Keno slips were discovered in China c. between 205 and 187 B.C
  • The Dutch were the first to implement an exclusively money based lottery system with prizes based on odds
  • Princeton University was initially financed on lottery proceeds
  • The lottery lost favor in the US in the late nineteenth century; in 1890, US President Benjamin Harrison demanded legislation against the lottery and Congress (and the Supreme Court !) complied
  • The US lottery only came back into vogue in 1964!
  • The California State Lottery (as we know it) began in 1984
  • The world's largest jackpot, $390 million, was one by one ticket holder from Georgia and one ticket holder from New Jersey in a March 2007 US Mega Millions drawing
  • Some modern lotteries outside the US include: Nationale Loterij, Lotería Nacional, Lotto 6 aus 45, Zahlenlotto, TOTO 2 6/49, Lotería Electrónica Internacional, Lotaria Popular, Loto 6/49

Super Lotto. Mega Millions. Fantasy 5. A girl can dream, right? And if you're going to dream, you might as well dream BIG. As in:
  • Trip around the world (first class) BIG
  • New car(s) BIG
  • Chauffeur BIG
  • New house (or 2 or 3) BIG
  • New wardrobe BIG
  • Pure breed dog with matching dog walker BIG
  • Bodyguard BIG
  • Five-star restaurant BIG
  • Never cook your own food or do your own laundry or run your own errands again BIG
  • Bye-bye day job BIG
  • Bling BIG (diamonds, rubies, pearls, Rolexes...)
  • Big toys BIG (jet ski, powerboat sailboat, scuba gear, home theater complete with multiple video game systems, pool table, trampoline, personal tanning bed, nightvision goggles, mini arsenal, golf clubs, grandfather clock, subzero refrigerator...)
  • And the list goes on. And on. And on...

*Source: Wikipedia (Lottery)


ALERT: Massive Aerial Pesticide Spraying Over SF Bay Area !

Open Letter to All Readers (especially those who reside in the San Francisco Bay Area):

I'm generally not a politically active or politically involved person. But the following issue really ruffles my feathers. Please take a few minutes out of your busy schedule to read this decidedly non-gaming-related entry about the potential health hazard millions of Bay Area citizens may soon face. I wish the information presented below were a video game or multiplayer online game scenario. Unfortunately, this is the real deal...

My roommate is planning on leaving San Francisco in the near future because of his opposition to and fear of the health-related repercussions of the scheduled aerial spraying of the city beginning August 1 (2008). In case you haven't heard, there's a lot of talk lately about the aerial spraying of huge sections of the Bay Area by the California Department of Food and Agriculture in order to stop the spread of the light brown apple moth (LABM)--a pest.

Areas scheduled to be sprayed are all of San Francisco, all of the East Bay from the Carquinez Strait (Crockett/Pinole/Hercules south to the southern border of Oakland. No exceptions. This includes cities like Richmond, Albany, Berkeley, etc that have not been explicitly listed
in some news reports), Daly City, Colma, etc.

According to the California Alliance to Stop the Spray, this spraying will be done from planes up to 9 times per year for 3-10 years ! There is a large opposition movement to this operation. Over 600 health complaints were reported in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties--where spraying has already taken place. Among the groups who oppose this spraying are the Sierra Club, the City of Santa Cruz, the Breast Cancer Fund, Coalition for Clean Air, etc.

There is data to the effect that the "inert" ingredients in the pesticide cocktail are carcinogenic and not regulated.The California Department of Food and Agriculture is playing up the angle that the spray is composed of nontoxic "moth pheromone." The many groups opposing this operation insist that there are many additional highly-toxic chemicals that make up the pesticide "cocktail."

My roommate was planning on staying in San Francisco for the rest of his natural life and planning on buying a condo in town. He is a highly educated, well read, informed, politically active computer professional who has researched this issue and attended community meetings addressing the topic. He recently attended a meeting in which four California Department of Food and Agriculture reps would not address citizens' concerns or answer questions. According to these reps, they were only there to take statements of concern to factor into an environmental impact report and they absolutely would not answer any questions.

My roommate points out that If the goal of this spraying is supposed to protect crops, why are they exclusively spraying it in urban population centers? There are many theories about the " true nature" of this operation that range from the huge monetary gains by the key players involved, to contentions that "...the government of the United States, is conducting a human biological experiment, on a massive scale, breaking State, Federal and International laws." (Hopefortruth.com).

It is hard to believe that this massive aerial spraying is a harmless effort. This kind of stuff has happened before. When I was a kid in L.A. In the 1980s, the chemical Malathion was sprayed all over L.A. to combat a fruit fly. My mother came down with a mysterious illness that wreaked havoc on her system for several months. Doctors didn't know what to make of it. My mother is convinced her illness was a result of Malathion exposure. She had never experienced anything of the sort before or since the Malathion spraying.

For the first time in forever, I am going to contact my representatives, although I fear my concerns will befall deaf ears. My vision may be selective, but more often than not, I see bad things happen to good people and the forces of greed and power reigning supreme.


FAQ about the spraying:


SF Chronicle Q & A by Richard Fagerlund (Scientist/Columnist):

Article by Hope for Truth:

Stop the Spray:

Hope for Truth:

California Alliance to Stop the Spray:

Don't Spray California

Lbam Spray Info:


Me vs. The Virus

Shitty Shitty Week Week.

The cold/flu thing that's out in full force this season hit me like a brick a couple of weeks ago. I'm only NOW--12 days later--starting to feel better. No fun and games for me lately. I've spent a greater part of the past week starting at the glitter on the ceiling and Building My Own Virus. I did not, however, turn my sickness into a retarded, yet amusing, lo-tech video such as these folks did (one of many videos on You Tube with a sick-in-bed theme, incidentally).

I work in a people-rich environment. Thousands of people walk across my workplace corridors on any given day. I touch surfaces that thousands of others have touched: keyboards, door knobs, mice (the electronic kind), pens, phones, staplers, coffee urn levers, microwave ovens, communal room keys, faucets, etc. I also ride public transportation to/fro work, which adds another dimension of contamination possibilities. I also touch misc. other doo-dads that virus and bacteria ridden peeps have touched: dice, washer/dryer controls, shopping carts, etc. Germs travel fast.

Touching any one of the aforementioned surfaces and then proceeding to accidentally touch any one of my facial mucous membranes is what did it.

My doctor says he gets sick 4-5 times a year. He has considered wearing a mask when seeing patients, but feels it would be too off-putting and impersonal. Instead, he shakes every patient's hand upon seeing them, then proceeds to wash his hand in scorching hot water, with a special virus-nixing liquid soap.

A family friend got a flu shot which proved to be useless for this season's flu virus. Well, things could be worse. At least I'm not one of those poor shmoes who caught the Killer Cold Virus that did some healthy adults in.

Even tragic and serious topics are made into entertaining games these days. Seems like anything and everything is fair game. Who knew that helping one's body fight invading bacteria could be fun and games? And that microbes could be so cute?


Geeks, Girls, and Game-Store-Gamers

D and I hit a bunch of game stores in Sacramento (sometimes, I need to leave San Francisco in to really appreciate it. Sac has a way of really instilling in me a profound appreciation of the bay area).

The gaming scene is HUGE! in Sac (could it be because there's nothing else to do that doesn't involve a strip mall?). The game playing areas at the back parts of the stores are much larger than their SF and e.bay counterparts. The shops themselves are, on average, ten times more spacious than their SF counterparts. I guess business owners get more bang for their buck in the land of endless-endless-endless-endless-endless-endless-endless-endless sprawwwwwwwwwwwwwwl.
I've been to many game and comic book shops, all over the western world. And I've never seen them as large as they are in Sac.

I also noticed older (much older) players. Thirty-something men. And middle-aged men. In San Francisco, I had only noticed teenagers and early twenty-somethings going at it with their miniatures and terrains in the seedy rear sections of wholesome game shops.

Some of these dudes were super geeky (of the middle-aged, big gut, bald with a ponytail variety). Others were young and jockish (and quite handsome, I might add) in that all American baseball-cap-wearing, pseudo redneck (but not really redneck) marginally geeky way (the kind of guys you see a lot of in the central valley) . Others were kind of alterna, but not in the Bay Area way. Alternative in a more home-spun Sacramento county type of way. Like maybe an Invader Zim t-shirt , but otherwise clean cut (short hair) sans tattoos and facial piercings to the naked eye (as opposed to the more grimy/grungy/sickly/displaced/ you-wouldn't-want-to-use-the-same-towel-I-did look that many SF alterna/goth boys sport).

Women were actually working the counter in a couple of stores. In both cases, the women were youngish feisty Gen Y (possible Z) gothy alterna chicks (suprise, surprise), also not of the Bay Area variety (more wholesome overall, like girls who actually live at home with their parents).

My overarching observation was that of a complete absence of Burning Man overlap in the Sac. gaming scene. This was most welcome.

Note to foreigners, non-native English speakers, and the clueless and/or uninitiated: if the above makes absolutely NO sense whatsoever to you, don't sweat it. I'll attempt to explain it in a future posting [STAY TUNED].

D and I were on a minor mission to locate a certain type of RPG literature. We returned empty-handed. The Sac gamers are hardcore and had already cleaned the establishments out. We also surmised that Sac isn't a good place for us to search for the limited-edition stuff we're looking for, because those Sac dudes (yes, 99 out of 100 of the demographic in question are male) would certainly get to it before we did.

Nonetheless, the trip was not in vain. I interviewed D (for a web design class assignment) about his exciting work on incorporating miniatures into a fantasy themed adventure board game.
Some good photos of his miniatures were gotten. I got the scoop on painting miniatures, buying miniatures, and forcing one's self to like miniatures. The assignment calls for formatting the interview into a simple web site with links. I'll probably repurpose it into something else down the line.

Millions of fantasy board game miniature painting hobbyists can't be wrong.