Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas Break

Mom and dad traveled up from St. Louis on Friday. They spent the night somewhere in Iowa at a hotel. They said it was pretty bad visibility the entire trip up. Thank you, God, for traveling mercies. Mom and dad went directly to Greg and Mandy's house.

Saturday. We each had a list of chores to get done on Saturday. After Leesha was picked up by Jeremy, Cara and I went to the Saturday night service at church. We got home and watched some episodes of Jeremiah.

Sunday. Cara and Leesha left early. Mom and dad came to our house and we spent some time, just the four of us (mom, dad, Jack and me). Next we took off to David and Darlene's. There were a lot of people at this gathering, Kara and Jeff, Scott and Anna and Olie and Elsa, Dealane and Ron, Ruban and Donna and Paul, mom and dad, Cara, Jack and Leesha and I, and of course, David and Darlene. Melanie was meaning to come, but traffic was backed up with many accidents due to a lot of snow coming don. Deserts were served. The drive home was nice and slow. We dropped Leesha off at her dad's house on our way home.

Christmas Eve we spent evening at Cara's parents house. We had a fantastic dinner of Swedish Meatballs. Opened up a bunch of Leesha's gifts and played a game called In a Pickle. Jack was fed and Leesha took him and bounced him. Jack vomited a large amount on Leesha's black shirt. Perfect! The drive home was nice and slow. We dropped Leesha off at her dad's house on our way home.

Christmas morning. It was snowing. Leesha was dropped off late morning and we opened a bunch of our gifts, Cara, Leesha and I. For Christmas evening was over at Greg and Mandy's. It was a wonderful time. All the adults revealed who they had picked for our Secret Santas. Cara and I had each other. She got me a big gray sweatshirt! I've been missing my old one that I recently retired to the trash. Leesha was pretty good. Mom and dad were to come to our house for the night. Leesha was up too late and too tired. She absolutely melted down. The original plan was for her to sleep on one of the couches in the living room, but we changed it so that she would sleep on the twin sized mattress in Jack's room. She chose this point to just fall to pieces about. Just sitting in the room screaming her head off, crying, shouting that since she wasn't given any kleenex that she would have to wipe her nose on Jack's blankets. I wasn't handling her behavior very well, but then mom and dad arrived to witness her horrible behavior. This may have been the first time they've seen this, it wasn't the first time they've heard about it. It was good for them to witness it first hand. Leesha does have some behavioral issues.

Day after Christmas we went to IHOP for a fantastic breakfast with fantastic service. Mom, Leesha, Cara and Jack went home. Dad and I went to Menards (for some electrical stuff), to Target (for a humidifier), to the Library (to check out museum passes) and home. Dad and I installed a different light in our kitchen area, Cara and dad set up the humidifier and changed the locks on our side door. Mom and Leesha watched a bit of Totoro and I did some finishing up on my role-playing game (what does that mean, read on...) and showed my mom a bit of Porco Rosso.

I have been working on a short campaign idea for a game to be run for my family. It started at our Thanksgiving family get together when my dad commented on his lack of interest in my hobby of role-playing games. He later felt the need to apologize, because he felt he may have come off as too critical. I told him he was forgiven and if he was interested I'd put together a short game to demonstrate what an RPG is all about. He said OK.

So my game finally happened the day after Christmas. The game I ran was very different than the first few ideas that got this project going. First of all I was planning on running the game using the True20 system. I found that True20 is superior to d20 and easier for newbies to learn. In spite of True20 being a generic system, I felt confined to running a fantasy setting and that was my original intent. But as the plot developed, the setting started to change and evolve from a fantasy setting to a fantasy/sci-fi setting (Princess of Mars-like thing) to dialing it way down to a simple pulp action temple treasure hunt. I decided to use the Top Secret/S.I. system for this game because a). I've been longing to run a game in this system for years. b). Its an easy system to learn/explain. c). It is my favorite RPG system and game. So, TSSI it is.

I created the characters before hand- stated and named them and threw together a few skills. However, I had the players select the character's advantages/disadvantages to give my folks a feel for character creation. They got into that. My dad, for example, drastically changed the character's appearance by taking the obese disadvantage (and he took at a 2 point value). Fantastic! Totally changed how the character felt.

The story took the characters to a cave in search of a small statue. Upon arrival they find another boat already docked at the site. They gather a bunch of gear from the boat and set off to the cave entrance. Following two sets of fresh footsteps, they make their way through the cave and find the body of an archaeologist long dead (Forrestal, tribute to Raiders of the Lost Ark). Next they find that the Eastern most wall of this cave is actually a steep cliff with a rope-bridge that looks as old as the dead body behind them. Here's where the party surprised me. I figured they'd all just cross, but they got all crafty and used all sorts of rope and crossed one at a time. My plan was for them to have the bridge break and they'd have to find an alternative way up to the other side (which was provided with a tunnel leading up, however, there was a leopard in that tunnel waiting as an encounter). So I was forced to improvise. I moved the events clock ahead and lead the party into an encounter... To make an already long story short, we concluded the story as every good pulp adventure should in time for dinner. If anyone reading this is interested in seeing the gaming notes, I could share them with you. They're not much.

We finally wrapped up the game. I felt so completely satisfied with how it went. It seemed my folks really got into the game and their characters to the point that I think they want to continue with these characters again at a later date. This experience was such a delight for me on all levels- creating the campaign, the characters, and running the game for my family. I'm just so satisfied with how it all went.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Long Busy Week

It has been a busy week. Started last weekend with the start of a cold. Had a good time gaming on Saturday in-spite of how I was feeling.

Took me over 60 days to finish A Storm of Swords. The next book I read was Edgar Rice Burroughs' 1912 Tarzan of the Apes. I finished Tarzan last week. This week I re-started a book called Double Agent: Web of Danger.

Leesha had her Christmas concert last night. Going to David and Darlene's immediately after work and then right to the church for the show was a bit rushed. The show was very cliche and cheesy. It seems to me these things are all for the benefit of the lady in charge of the deal. If it wasn't for her, no one would pick up this ball and go with it. All the work and all the parents showing up to watch it all go toward her feeling good is my guess. Leesha seemed 'whatever' about it and I'd guess she'd just as soon not be involved if given the choice.

I found out some frustratingly bad news today. Since I drive a school bus I need a DOT drivers license. In order to get that I need to pass a physical. No problem there except that I have sleep apnea. Last year all I had to do was get a letter from the sleep clinic stating that I was using my CPAP and that it was beneficial. That's all it took to get my DOT license. This year, however, the sleep clinic says that in order to get a letter this year, I have to go to the sleep study and they have to check me out. This is not going to be very cheap. On top of that, the first available appointment date is 1/31 and my license expires 1/23! The bit of hope I had is that Cara's dad is a doctor. He offered to write a letter for me! But tonight he talked with the clinic that gives out the license and they were listing all these technical terms that made him think that he wouldn't be able to write the letter. So now its back to the first expensive plan. This is just maddening.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Two weeks ago my School Bus crapped out. Radiator was leaking and the transmission was failing. I wrote the problems up as I should, but the shop only focused on one of the two problems. The transmission failure basically made 3rd gear the same as Drive. Top speed was 31 mph. Not good.

I've been in several buses since then.

  • 253
  • 194
  • 253 again for Monday
  • back in 242 to discover it wasn't fixed and then into 360! in the AM and 315 for PM Tuesday.
  • 306 in the AM and 315 in the PM again on Wednesday
  • 308 on Thursday and Friday

360 is one of the brand new buses we drove up from Oklahoma this summer. Nicest bus we have.

It is Tuesday and I have my 242 back! The transmission is nice and tight.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

See Jack Jump

See Jack Jump

Today, I saw a blind man walk down the sidewalk and buy a newspaper and then walk back.


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