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Friday, August 29, 2014

Gunblog Variety Podcast #2

Hey, look, Sean and Adam invited me back for another podcast!  It's as if they like me or something. :)


You can listen to it here or download it from here, and the show notes can be found here.

SHTFriday: Scan Your Stuff

In a disaster, it might be difficult to prove you are who you say you are, or that you really do own this property, or that you really are related to those people in the hospital/refugee camp. 

Over at Blue Collar Prepping, I talk about backing up your important data and having multiple ways to bring it with you. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Salem Watches a Movie(ish) – Doctor Who: Deep Breath

Well, ok, it's not a movie. But it was in the theater.

So after much careful deliberation on available funds, I decided to go ahead and pre-order a ticket to the theater showing of the season premier of Doctor Who. I'm not even going to try and figure out which season this is, seeing as how that one year that we had the feature-length episodes with Tennant may or may not be counted as an individual series and keeps throwing off my organizational folders. Technically, this would be the third time I've seen the episode (that's counting timeshifting the original airing, mind you, I would never ever ever watch that leaked workprint. Promise. And I haven't seen the next two episodes that leaked, either. Promise), but I missed Day of the Doctor in theaters, so I wasn't missing this one. As usual, spoilers ahead.

You know me and green women.
A nice extra to those of us who saw the episode was a vlog made by potato-head Strax prior to the episode, with guest appearance by the gorgeous Madame Vastra and her wife/maid Jenny. It served as a nice intro to people that may not be familiar with the series history, as well a chance to throw in some pretty hilarious piss-takes on the older series, such as referring to the Third Doctor as “an unfortunate hybrid between Man and Granny.” Strax is always welcome. Another bonus was the return of the “Doctor Who Confidential” behind-the-scenes documentary. Highlights were the effects that went into the villain of the episode, and seeing Peter Capaldi at the first read-through.

Speaking of Capaldi, we finally see this new Doctor in action. Previously, all we had of him was him in a panic, decrying his kidneys, or the cameo in Day of the Doctor, where his eyebrows stole the show. Watching him in action is truly a treat, as he is possibly the most talented actor to date to hold the role, and he's obviously enjoying himself immensely, possibly more so than Matt or David before him. I don't even have to use flowery words here like gravitas or presence (although I technically just did), as Capaldi easily has the energy and intensity of his predecessors, coupled with experience and bearing. In his post-regeneration trauma, he's wildly unstable and nigh-incoherent, but once his mind settles, what we have is a razor-sharp, intense Doctor with a brusque irascibility which recalls the classic series in a very comforting way.

Some of the best banter in the series.
There's been rumor that Jenna Coleman may be leaving at the end of this series, but I'm hoping she doesn't. I've been on the fence about Clara until now. She's clever and independent, but she always felt too comfortable around the Doctor, literally having more conflict with the TARDIS herself than with him. Witnessing this regeneration has really thrown her a curveball, and she's questioning just how safe she, and those around her, are with this stranger. “If his face is new, where did all these lines come from?” From this conflict, we get two outstanding scenes. Madame Vastra's questioning of her resulting in Clara losing her temper, and the wonderful bickering in the restaurant. Capaldi and Coleman have some amazing chemistry, and I really hope we get more than one series with them.

The guest cast in this episode really shines, as well. Vastra, Jenny, and Strax return, and some of the quieter moments in the episode are really carried by them. Jenny serving as Vastra's muse when she's not even doing art, Clara and Strax's banter around her 'medical exam,' and the touching moment during the climax, where we get what is possibly television's first interspecies lesbian kiss. The villain, a version of the returning Clockwork Robots from the acclaimed “Girl in the Fireplace” is extremely menacing, and really comes across as this inhuman, mechanical monster that quite literally has a screw loose, and the ending scene has a wonderfully creepy woman named Missy that's setting up the teaser for the series arc. And that's not even to mention the preceding scene, which has a truly touching cameo from a surprise guest

My final impressions on this episode, and the event of seeing it in the theater, is that it was worth the wait from the previous series, and worth the ticket price to see it on the big screen. Capaldi shines, and has wonderful chemistry with Clara. I've got high hopes for the remainder of the series, and the direction that Capaldi will help steer this ship in.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Because It Amuses Me

There's no A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Game Store from Von this week; he's currently out of a job and finding gainful employment is more important than writing for my nerd blog.

Speaking of writing for my blog, last week I received quite the interesting email on the very topic of being a guest writer.  I responded, because it amused me so to do, and because I don't like leaving some of my better material unpublished I figure I ought to post it here where it can be admired.

Date: Tue, 19 Aug 2014 15:47:10 +0800
Subject: Guest Blogging Inquiry
From: Nicole Pretty
To: erin.palette@gmail.com

Hi Palette!

I wanted to take the opportunity and introduce myself! My name is Nicole and I work with eMerchantBroker.com, a high risk merchant processing provider. We're looking at the opportunity to write an article as a guest post on http://lurkingrhythmically.blogspot.com/.

Our company's co-founder "Blair Thomas" would be the one providing the article. He'9s a self-made entrepreneur, has blogged on hundreds of sites, has exhibited at various industry conferences in the US and he has 10+ years in the electronic payments industry managing several successful businesses, agent offices and registered ISO's.

The article we're thinking about writing would focus on the Firearms Industry and tailored to your site. However if you would like Blair to take a different approach, we're open to hearing any other related suggestions you know would better suit your site's audience.

As an additional benefit for publishing Blair's article, we will share the published article to our social media networks :) and also give you the opportunity to post a related article onto our blog as well.

I appreciate your time and consideration and look forward to hearing from you soon!

Best Regards,

Nicole Lopez
Blog Marketer

Now this is fairly obviously spam, and I wasn't sure if I'd get a response, so I kept mine terse so that I wouldn't waste any effort. (Also, I was a bit miffed I was referred to simply as "Palette" and not "Erin" or even "Ms. Palette".)  But still, I decided to take a chance. You don't ask, you don't get, am I right?

Date: Tue, 19 Aug 2014 22:12:07 -0400
Subject: Re: Guest Blogging Inquiry
From: Erin Palette 
To: Nicole Pretty 

How much?

-- Erin Palette

"Many people hear voices when no-one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stare at the walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing." -- Margaret Chittenden, writer

And then -- oh joy! Oh frabjous day! -- I actually received a response.

Date: Wed, 20 Aug 2014 14:04:54 +0800 Subject: Re: Guest Blogging InquiryFrom: Nicole Pretty To: Erin Palette

Hi Erin, 
Thank you for your prompt response.
I just want to clarify - Do you require payment for posting articles on your site as a guest blogger? 
We were thinking of mutually helping each other draw visitors to our sites. If you could allow to us post articles on your site that is relevant to your niche, we'll also promote your site on our social media accounts and if you are interested, we'll also let you post articles on our blogs. 
Let me know if this is something you'd be interested in. 
Thanks, Nicole

Well then! Now that I knew there was a human being behind this who actually had to read whatever I say, I decided to have some fun. I did some brief Googling of of this "Blair Thomas" -- does Nicole's use of quotation marks strike anyone as being suspicious -- and I determined that this bank does exist, and it services  "questionable" industries like adult entertainment, bad credit, credit repair, collection agencies, electronic cigarettes (why? I dunno)  and online firearm sales.

Because we all know that tons of gun dealers and FFLs read my site, right?

The other thing I determined is that "Blair Thomas" writes some of the most boring articles on the planet, typically about banking or finance or retirement. Just the kind of thing that would fit right in at Lurking Rhythmically, eh?

So here's what I wrote back, because fuck it.

Date: Fri, 22 Aug 2014 15:20:32 -0400
Subject: Re: Guest Blogging Inquiry
From: Erin Palette
To: Nicole Pretty

Dear Nicole,

>I just want to clarify - Do you require payment for >posting articles on your site as a guest blogger?

Yes, I do.
You see, your company's co-founder, "Blair Thomas", clearly didn't get where he was by doing things for free. He's a successful businessman, after all. And so I ask myself, "Why does this person want to write an article for my blog that has nothing to do with merchant banking?"

And then, as you so handily said,

>We were thinking of mutually helping each other draw >visitors to our sites.

That's called "advertising", Nicole. You are a business; I am a hobby blogger and a struggling writer. What you are attempting to do is buy advertising space on my blog without paying for it. While this makes perfect sense for someone like "Blair Thomas" to do -- after all, one
doesn't become rich and successful by paying for things when one can get them for free -- it also makes the same amount of sense for me to require payment for you to use my blog as an advertising venue. Come on, you certainly have the money for it; after all, I'm probably less expensive than some ad campaigns you've run.
>If you could allow to us post articles on your site
>that is relevant to your niche, we'll also promote your
>site on our social media accounts and if you are
>interested, we'll also let you post articles on our >blogs.
Ah, so now we're at articles, plural. Previously it was just one article, and now you want to do several. This only lends credence to my assertion that you want to use my blog for advertising.

>Let me know if this is something you'd be interested in.

Look, I'm a capitalist. I am all about the exchange of money for goods and services. If you good folks want to use my blog as an advertising platform -- and clearly you do, because we're having this conversation instead of you just deleting my email that asked "How much?" -- then I am fine with that.

Provided, of course, that you pay me.

Why should you pay me? Because clearly I have something that you want. If I give you that thing for free, then not only do you get what you want at my expense, but I've now told you that my work -- and believe me, I've worked hard over the past 7 years to make my blog worth noticing -- is essentially worthless, as it can be bought with vague promises of traffic being sent my way.

To quote the 13th Ferengi Rule of Acquisition: Anything worth doing is worth doing for money.

But perhaps I am being unfair. Perhaps "Blair Thomas" is a friendly sort of fellow who enjoys writing guest articles for the sheer joy of it. If that is the case, then I choose to exercise the "take a different approach" option you mentioned I had in your first email. Any of these topics will do:

- Blair's thoughts on Peter Capaldi as the 12th Doctor, and what that means for the series vis-a-vis its return to the "cranky old man" doctor of the 1960s versus the "pretty boy eye candy" of recent years.
- What he thinks about the upcoming 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons, and which edition is his favorite. (Note: Pathfinder is also an acceptable edition.)
- Which would win in a dogfight: a Viper Mk.VII from Battlestar Galactica, or an SA-23E Starfury from Babylon 5.
- Which My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic pony is the best pony, and why.

If "Blair Thomas" wishes to write an article on any of these subjects, he may do so for free. If he does not approve any of those topics, then it's going to cost you to advertise on my blog.

I have a Google pagerank of 4 out of 10 according to checkpagerank.net, and from my stats page you can see that I'm currently averaging about 7,650 unique visits per month.

Doing some quick and dirty math, that brings me to a figure of about $250 per blog post. If you'd like to buy a multi-post subscription we can certainly haggle some and probably get you a bulk discount.

Here are the rules:

- I'm not going to publish guest posts back-to-back. The most you'll get is once a month.
- No more than two links to whatever you're selling per post.
- I reserve the right to edit those posts for grammar and content.
- I reserve the right not to post the article if subject is not relevant or the writing is too poor to salvage.
- I reserve the right to decide when the guest post airs.

If these terms are acceptable to you, then we can do business. If not, we can haggle. But you're not getting free advertising from me.


-- Erin Palette

Oddly, I haven't received a response back.  Gosh, I wonder why?

Perhaps next time I should just include a link to this internet classic

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Traveller Tuesday: X-Boat Routes in the Marches, take two

Instead of doing any writing yesterday, I spent my productive hours updating a previous version of my Xboat route map for the Spinward Marches.  But hey, it's content!

Design notes:
  • The purple lines are for high-speed (J-5 and J-6) military and diplomatic channels. They are not usually available for commercial use, although an obscenely wealthy corporation could buy space on one -- but they likely have their own J-6 ships for that. 
  • I have no way to differentiate between a route that stops at a system and one that simply passes through it. Sorry. You'll have to use your discretion. 
  • Whenever possible, I made a direct line to subsector capitals. 
  • Whenever possible, I made loops instead of lines, both for speed of transmission and for the ability to route communication around damage where needed. 
  • I gave preference for systems with scout bases, naval bases, and class A or B starports unless doing so simply made little sense. 
  • Shaving 1 week off transmission time was insufficient reason to put in a route. Shaving off 2 weeks was given strong consideration, and 3 or more meant the route was added .
  • Using this system, communication from sector capital Mora to the other subsector capitals is damn fast, considering that each hex is a parsec (3.5 light years across):
    • 2 weeks to reach Lunion and Rhylanor
    • 3 weeks to reach Lanth, Glisten and Trin
    • 4 weeks to reach Aramis, Frenzie, Regina, Mertactor
    • 5 weeks to reach Iderati
    • 6 weeks to reach Mire and Jewell (but only 2 weeks from Jewell to Regina)
  • Ivendo and Fosey become these odd J-6 hubs, which become less odd when you realize that Ivendo has both a Navy and a Scout base, and Fosey has a Naval Intelligence office. Hmm....
  • Keen-eyed folks will note there's one route that doesn't quite make sense. This was deliberate on my part and not a mistake. I don't want to get into further detail as my players are likely to read this.
  • Fulacin is now interdicted due to recent events in-game. 
  • Similarly, Walston is now a Class B port and X-boat hub due to the actions of the PCs. (It's going to be integrated into the Imperium as soon as the population gets it racism under control.)
  • I switched the locations of Bronze and Steel because I had an adventure called "Project Steel" which was all about removing the X-boat base at Biter and routing it through Steel, and the canonical position of Steel made that idiotic. Rather than change the adventure (Steel is habitable, Bronze is not), I used GM fiat to switch the positions of the systems. 
  • It's now a Jump-2 for the Sword Worlds to get any mail from the Imperium. Suck it, Swordies. 
  • Flammarion is now even more of a critical hub as it is the official link from the Imperium to the Darrian Confederation. It goes to Spume and not Darrian because I figured it was more important for mail to get onto the Confederation's mail service than to go to the old capital. 
  • There is, however, a J-5 diplomatic link to Mire, as well as an emergency backchannel between Regina and the Darrians via Thanber
  • The Zhodani were deliberately left unchanged to represent the Imperium not fully understanding what is going on in their neck of the woods. 

Sorry to feature what is basically a Lucas rework of a rerun, but I actually spent 3+ hours working on this last night and I'd like to to have something blogworthy to show for it. 

The Fine Print

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- Noncommercial- No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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