Saturday, July 17, 2010

Paging Troy Hickman

Troy, knowing how you love crappy movies and monster movies, this is exactly the kind of thing you will love, since by all appearances it looks like a crappy monster movie:

Unless of course you helped write this. Which wouldn't surprise me at all.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Just when I think I'm out, they pull me back in

This has just been a summer of surprises for me. Every single time that I have given up on something, that very same thing has unexpectedly reversed course and proven me wrong. Personal growth, relationships, jobs... details vary but the results are the same.

Case in point: My census job. It's been over a month since I worked there, and earlier this week I received the official "You are terminated due to lack of work" letter from them. Not wanting to drive 30 minutes to the office to hand in my ID badge, I did the lazy thing and put it in the mail. That was Tuesday.

Today, Thursday, I received a call from my old boss. I thought he was calling to gently lean on me about the badge, and I said it was in the mail. He laughed and said no, that he needed to ask me something, but first everyone in the office was shouting at him to ask how my thumb was. Aww! I sincerely felt warm and fuzzy at that, and so I told him I was doing fine, waiting to hear from the surgeon, etc.

Then he asked me if I wanted to work tomorrow. Hell yeah, I said. So tomorrow, I go in from 1:30pm - 10pm (this will probably involved more paperwork and re-hiring) and that starting Monday I would be working from 3pm to 11:30pm. He estimates this job will last about a week, which by my calculations means I should be finished by Wednesday. Still, money is money and I like these people, and the work is easy to boot.

So... Palette goes back to work tomorrow. I'll try to update more regularly than I did when I was working, but I make no promises. Maybe if you folks nagged me more I'd feel guilty and write more often.....

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Pellatarrum: Trolls

For those who came in late: Pellatarrum is a D&D campaign world I am creating which has recurring themes of elementalism, zany pseudo-clockwork universes, and older races creating servitor races which rebel against them.

So the other day I was pondering Pellatarrum and I started thinking about Giants. I don't know if you guys have noticed but there's a strange divide between the giantish species: about half of them are elemental (Cloud, Fire, Frost, Stone) and half of them aren't. Storm Giants have strange dual affinities between air (lighting) and sea (water breathing), so they occupy a class by themselves.

The Hill Giant is basically a non-elemental hillbilly, but is still undeniably a giant. The Ogre, on the other hand, is either a very large and strong humanoid or a very small and weak giant, depending on how you want to cut things; I would err on the side of "large humanoid" because Ogres seem to lack many of the classic Giant traits of living in large homes and throwing large rocks. That would also let me lump them in with the other humanoid races that the Orcs created as servitors and cannon fodder during the Race Wars.

Then there are the Trolls, who break the rules. They don't look like giants ("A troll's rubbery hide is moss green... or putrid gray"), they don't act like giants (they attack with claws and teeth instead of clubs or other weapons; they eat anything and everything, and can be found in any climate and terrain) and they regenerate, which no other species of giant does, meaning their only true vulnerabilities are to acid and fire.

Now let me direct your attention to another kind of critter found in D&D. It too is green and nasty, devouring all flesh it can find, reproducing as it eats and vulnerable only to fire. I am of course talking about Green Slime.

I have a theory, which is this: Trolls are just mature versions of green slime. After reaching a critical mass, the slime gains rudimentary intelligence, its skin thickens as it shambles upright on a skeleton of fibers strengthened with mineral deposits from devoured victims, and shuffles forward to devour and reproduce in a more efficient manner. Therefore, any limbs that the Troll loses which are not subsequently reattached  quickly lose their cohesion and revert to puddles of green slime... and so the cycle continues.

Acid doesn't destroy Trolls the way fire does: instead, it just breaks down the substance that holds them together, reducing them to gooey puddles. (If I wanted to involve chemistry in this -- which would be counter to Pellatarrum's firm "Fuck Science!" ethos -- it would be that green slime is caustic, and therefore a base, and everyone who has taken high school chemistry knows that acid + base = salt + water + exothermic reaction).

Therefore, in Pellatarrum:
  • Trolls aren't Giants, they are Oozes. 
  • They don't speak Giantish because they aren't Giants; instead, they speak the languages of whatever they ate while they were in larval slime form (typically Orcs, Goblins, or Dwarves.) 
  • They will eat anything organic they can find (their digestive system is still highly omninivorous green slime, after all).
  • They will gnaw on metal or stone to supplement their bones, teeth and claws.
  • If you don't completely destroy them and all their body parts with fire or acid, they WILL come back, and in greater numbers. This makes them excellent horror monsters -- a bit like zombies, only they regenerate and multiply. 
  • Rangers aren't mocked for taking Oozes as a Favored Enemy any more. 

Monday, July 12, 2010

Where I've been, what I'm doing, why I suck

Is anyone still reading this thing? I brought cookies...

OK, so I realize it's been 2 weeks since any kind of an update and at least 2 months since I did anything of substance, and I do apologize for that. But I have a series of good excuses.

When I started work for the Census back in May, they had me working from 10pm - 6:30am, which was hard for my co-workers but I found it awesome because I'm a night owl and, as it turns out, I'm a morning person if I happen to have stayed up all night to see the dawn. Also, driving home in the opposite direction of rush hour is both fulfilling and hilarious. However, this made it especially hard for me to find time to write, because I would want to go to bed after I got home, which would put me me waking up at about 4 pm -- which is about the time the family starts to come home, the news comes on, dinner begins to be fixed, dogs are walked, etc.

Then there was the fact that I was also working Saturday and Sunday, because I knew this job wouldn't last nearly as long as they said it would (Two months? HAH!) and I had every intention of milking it for as much money as I could. Let me tell you, +10% shift differential pay at time-and-a-half quickly becomes an impressive amount. But before I could accumulate truly mad amounts of money, yo, my shift was eliminated after 3 weeks due to lack of work. (Just my luck, I was working at the one census branch in three states to be ahead of schedule.)

Fortunately, they called me the very next day (Saturday) saying that they had let too many people go, and that I had distinguished myself on graveyard with a good work ethic and agreeable personality, and would I like to come back to 2nd shift, 3:30pm - midnight? Hell yes, I said.

That one lasted a week before second shift was canned due to lack of work. Sigh.

On my last day of work, we had a massive pizza party. It was a very large reduction in force -- going from 45 people to around 15 -- and so our supervisors were nice enough to give us a federally-funded last hurrah. And everything as nice and lovely until the point where my left thumb damn near got cut off.

I don't really want to go into the specifics of the accident, partially for my pride and partially because the Department of Commerce is being nice enough to pay for everything through Worker's Comp and I don't want to say anything which might imperil that. Suffice it to say that at the end of the day I came home with a tetanus shot, 3 stitches, and nerve damage to my left thumb (cut was deep, y'all, went to the bone) which left a good quarter of it numb and bled like a mofo. Fortunately for me I've had first aid training and had the presence of mind not to freak out. I didn't even curse, even though it would have been appropriate. Instead, I think the following thoughts went through my head:

  1. "Well, tonight just got a lot more interesting."  *apply direct pressure to the wound*
  2. "Wow, that's rather a lot of blood."  *elevate limb and find pressure point*
  3. "OK, bleeding like a stuck pig but it doesn't hurt... I think I'm in trouble." *call for help as calmly as possible*
It's a good thing that one of my co-workers is handy with a first-aid kit, but even then I was bleeding through the gauze, so off to the ER I went. Protip: walking into the ER with a hand full of bloody gauze, elevated and held at the wrist pressure point with the other hand and saying "I cut myself..." will get you processed by the triage nurse immediately.

Now, I got very lucky for a few reasons. One, I'm right handed and the injury was to my left hand. Two, the loss of sensation is on the outside of my thumb. If it was on the inside, that would make life very difficult for me, because the inside of the thumb is the part which does most of the gripping and lifting and manipulating, whereas the outside is used for... pressing the space button on a keyboard and other stuff. Three, while the cut was deep it wasn't very wide (again, only 3 stitches needed), which is really good because if it had been a wide slice instead of an impact hit it could have severed all sorts of fun internal structure like tendons or ligaments.  I just happened to get whacked in the part of the thumb which was just meat over bone.

But still, it was annoying. The cut was about a quarter inch above where the thumb joins the palm, and that part flexes a lot during normal thumb motion. I don't know if you guys have ever had stitches before, but if you haven't, trust me -- you want to keep them as immobile as possible or else you experience what I call "the cheese wire effect". And then there's the fact that half of the very tip of my left thumb is numb, so once the stitches came out 12 days later, I had to re-learn basic tasks like tying my shoes.

That's part of the reason why it took me so long to update: while the thumb isn't exactly critical for typing, I had a heck of a time getting it to move out of the way of my index finger (it wanted to cuddle up next to it, like a karate-chop) and then sometimes making it move would hurt like a motherfucker. Even now, if I bump the place I was hurt, it's like an electrical shock along the thumb and it's not a pleasant feeling.

The other reason it's taken me so long is that I suck. Seriously. I don't know if I was depressed, or fighting off illness, or the rainy season we get in Florida was sapping my strength, but I felt very puny and whiny and all I wanted to do was lie in bed all day and sleep, and if I wasn't sleeping then I sure didn't feel like writing any damn thing and instead just played mindless click games like Legends of Zork.

But! This is me, trying to crawl back onto the blog-posting horse once again. Due mostly to stubbornness, I'd say I've regained about 90% functionality from my left hand. That's not from fancy physical therapy, that's from me going "No, I will not accept a gimpy useless thumb, you WILL WORK like you did before" and making my hand do all the things it used to do until it would start to hurt, at which point I would rest and take a painkiller and then be back to forcing it to work a few hours later.

The other piece of good news to come out of this is that Worker's Comp has again come through for me like a champ and has paid for me to see a hand surgeon about the nerve loss. It took me a while to navigate the maze of bureaucracy,, and then about as long to find a surgeon who will take WC (most won't), but I had an appointment last Friday with a VERY skilled surgeon (he's the guy you go see when your arm is ripped off in an accident and he reattaches it for you, so he's practically overqualified for this) and he says I'm a good candidate for nerve reconnection. He can't promise me 100% return of sensation, but it'll be better than what I have now, and if I'm at 90% functionality just from stubbornness then I'd say my odds are pretty damn good.

I just find it ironic that a month after my initial injury, with the laceration having healed nicely, my poor thumb is going to get cut into again and get more stitches. Couldn't we have done this a month ago while I was still opened up and easily accessible?

Oh well. At least I have a heck of a story, and maybe I'll find someone who thinks my scar is sexy.

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