Friday, August 31, 2012

City of Heroes is Closing

It's hard to explain how I feel about this.

I'll admit that I haven't played this game in months. I enjoyed the social aspect of the game more than the content itself, and when my friends started getting bored and left, a lot of the fun I had went with them.

Still, this was my first MMO, and I spent many happy years playing in Paragon City. I made friendships that have lasted outside the game, and many have grown quite deep.  Demonic Bunny, my Pellatarrum co-designer, and I first became friends there  (although I have no memory of how we actually met.)

So even though it's been a long time since I played, I think of it fondly, and took a certain comfort in knowing that all my characters were safely stored there, ready to play whenever I wanted to come back.

And now I find out that won't be the case any more. I feel like I've lost a favorite childhood toy. It doesn't matter that I may have outgrown it; I still regret the loss.

Goodbye and farewell, City of Heroes. I may play you one last time before closing, if there more sweet than bitter in our last bittersweet reunion.

Busy week

Will try to fill in the missing days with a flood of back-dated posts. Alas, I still do not have access to a time machine.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Pellatarrum: Suddenly, a Wild Logo Appears!

This amazing and epic logo sprung from the fertile mind of my co-author Demonic Bunny:

I don't know if I can express how awesome this is, but I'll try.

  • I didn't tell Bunny what I wanted. I just said "I want Pellatarrum to have a logo for when we eventually publish it."  He managed to reach into my brain and pull out everything I wanted in a single try. 
  • He doesn't have previous experience with graphic design. 
  • It looks amazing in black and white, but will also look amazing in color. 
  • It is instantly iconic. 
  • It is detailed without being busy. 
  • If you don't know the setting, it's a cool logo. 
  • If you do know the setting, you understand how dense in information the design is. 
  • It's actually an abstract view of the plane itself, with the Dayspire up top and the crumbling Nightspire below. 
  • The triangles are the alchemical symbols for the elements, and clockwise from upper left they are Air, Fire, Water, Earth -- the sequence of the elemental seasons.

Another cool thing I discovered while I was looking up the aforementioned symbols was this chart of elemental correspondences from the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn:

It's cool because I don't ever recall seeing this chart before, and I know I haven't read any of the Golden Dawn.  I love how we both came to the conclusion that Earth is winter, when everyone else tried to tell me that it should be Water. Coincidence, or great minds thinking alike?

I also love how this gives me authority against all the gamers who would object that I am somehow getting elementalism wrong. I can point to this and say, "Old School Occultism, bitches!"

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Everyday Carry: the Nebo Blueline

So JayG over at MArooned has written a blog post about not having an everyday carry flashlight (bad gunnie! Bad!) and how he should fix that. Lots of people weighed in with their suggestions, and I figured since I was already headed this way I might as well turn it into a blog post, because laziness.

(I can't really call this a product review, because I haven't tested this item thoroughly. Take it more in the vein of "I bought this, I like this, it's nifty" rather than a full-scale product endorsement.)

The model which I carry is the Nebo Blueline. It is a great little light that has yet to let me down, although admittedly I've only used it for walking the dogs at night and navigating the house during a power outage.

I bought this for three main reasons:

  1. It cost $15 at the gun store. Most "tactical" lights are in the $50+ range. 
  2. It uses one AA battery. Most lights use multiple expensive CR123 batteries. 
  3. It is small. At 4" long, it's perfect for pocket carry. Compare this to a Mini Maglite, which comes in at 6". I know how you guys are with your inches, but sometimes smaller is better...

It has other nifty features, such as:

  •  an output of 130 Lumens (honestly, I'm not sure if it's really that bright or not, but it's easily in the 90-100 range, which is my minimum for a tac light, and damn impressive for fifteen bucks)
  • a strobe function
  • an illuminated switch
  • a striking cap for defense
  • a belt/pocket clip for secure carry
  • a magnet in the base for hands-free mounting  (though I question its holding strength)
  • the obligatory "shockproof, weather-proof" body of aircraft aluminum

Don't get me wrong: this is not a be-all and end-all light. But it's bright enough for the price, and the price is low enough that if you lose it, or it's confiscated, you aren't out a whole lot of money. 

I carry one, and so does my mother. If this light ever fails me, I will update this page. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Monday Gunday: Erin Assembles an AR (part 2)

Having bought the stripped lower, and recently flush with some cash from a writing assignment, I decided the first thing I absolutely needed was a pistol grip for my lower so that I could hold it like a proper gun.

Because pew pew pew, dammit.

I didn't know much of anything about AR-15 grips (other than the fact that there are a lot of them) so I did some research. I quickly realized I wanted two things:
  1. A grip that wasn't black
  2. A nifty storage compartment in the handle
And of course, the unspoken zeroth requirements of   "It must fit my hand" and "Cannot cost an arm and a leg."

This led me to the Magpul MIAD. It has three backstraps, two finger plates, comes in a variety of colors, has a bunch of storage core options, and was under $30 at Amazon.

Not mine. This picture is from the web. 

I bought the trigger guard at the same time, just because I could.

This one is mine. Sorry about the glare. 

This is known as "flat dark earth," and the picture makes it look a lot more khaki than it really it. In reality it looks more like "sick baby poop" aka chartreuse.

It also comes with the default storage core capable of holding three .223 rounds:
I have only the one because I picked it up at the range. 

So that's cool. Now I have something to hold on to when I pick it up.

Finally, I think I'm going to name this rifle Frank, because

  1. I'm assembling it Frankenstein style, with a mishmash of pieces, and
  2. Francisco is a Spanish name and Stein is Jewish; therefore, Florida.
 Pew pew pew.

Saturday, August 25, 2012


These pictures were sent in by faithful reader Brad with the following caption:

Please take these pictures in the spirit of "hey, cool, Tannerite" from a fellow Mosin owner and not some other nefarious reason.

I have to confess, my immediate reaction was "Aww, why you gotta blow up a cute li'l pony like that." :(

And then I realized that the pony was Pinkie Pie, and that made me think of this:

And thus I concluded that Pinkie would probably be perfectly okay with having her effigy be blown up if that meant everyone was having a fun time

Especially if there was cake afterwards.

Amusingly, this picture was drawn by someone called Dentist.

Thanks, Brad!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Straight pimpin'

Busy day for me, so I'll just hit you guys up with a few links to some really awesome deals and then I'll be on my way to filling more sandbags in preparation of Tropical Storm Isaac. As of this moment it doesn't look like it'll hit Florida (though it'll skirt the edges of Tampa -- stay dry, Thag!), but the think about living in the Penis State is that any time a storm gets even remotely close from April to November, we are apt to have a metric buttload (equal to 2.2 Imperial assloads) of water dumped on us.

So, you know, sandbags. To keep the porch from flooding.

Hey, if you're into filling sandbags, you should totally get the EZ Bagger. It's ridiculously cheap at $13 and turns a two-person chore into a one-person much less of a chore. (Let's be honest, nothing is going to make sandbagging fun.)

From work to play:  if any of you are gamers and regularly use miniatures in your RPGs, you owe it to yourself to check out this Reaper Miniatures Kickstarter. For $100 you get 211 minis, or 36 minis for $15. This is an incredible offer, and if it's too rich for you then perhaps you should consider going halfsies with someone, or having your play group each chip in $10-20. Better act soon, the Kickstarter ends on Saturday!

This one is 50% work and 50% play, but 100% cheapskate:  If you want a way to solar charge your phone, iPod, or other low wattage electronic device, I recommend this foldable solar panel assembly from Brunton. Regularly $80, now $30 with free shipping from eBay, and it's compatible with all of Brunton's (much more expensive) battery systems. I ordered this in lieu of the miniatures, as I felt having working electronics during a hurricane-induced power outage was more important.  My eventual plan is to have solar panels hooked up to batteries with enough wattage/amperage to run a laptop computer and a box fan, so that I can stay cool and entertained during the fall of civilization.

And finally... well, I don't normally do this sort of thing, but what the hell: if you like photographs and are looking for a way to print to them out, go visit  They're having a big grand opening thing, and if you use the discount code BLOGLOVE2012 you can get 50% and standard shipping on any photo you'd like turned into a canvas.  This coupon expires on 9/15/2012.

That's it for now, I'm spent.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

WNW: How "The Dark Knight Rises" Should Have Ended

We're past the point of spoilers for this, right? Everyone who was going to see this movie has surely seen it by now.

And if not, just don't watch this video.

Unknown Ponies: Earth Ponies redux

So in a previous playtest, Mike Pondsmith said:
One of the players pointed out that the Earth Ponies get extra Skills rule was similar to the Human bonus in D&D 4th, , then proceeded to show me how to game it.
After griping about how no sane GM would allow this, and it would only be an issue if you had Fluttershy running your game, I finally allowed that maybe, just maybe, giving skill bonuses to earth ponies wasn't the quick and easy solution I thought it was, and that I needed to give it more thought.

The thing is, I kept going back to this quote by Lauren Faust, which is where I got the idea for skill bonuses in the first place (emphasis mine)
On Earth Ponies:
"*fyre-flye Mar 3, 2011
While not magical like the other pony types, Earth Ponies do have a connection to the land that other types do not. In Equestria, growing food and tending animals (Fluttershy's talent with animals is unusual for a pegasus, I always imagined she feels more at home on the ground than in the sky) is just as necessary, as managing weather and magic. Perhaps more important, don't you think? They are ponies, not people, so perhaps appreciating each other as equals is not so difficult for them."
So it's imperative to me that earth ponies exhibit a certain je ne sais quoi for, basically, making and tending and doing earthy-worky-athletic stuff, and that it be represented mechanically.

And then, in a fit of madness, the idea struck:  earth ponies are animists

No, really, hear me out on this.  I think we can all agree that Pegasi are elementalists, yes?  I mean, they physically manipulate wind and clouds and rain and lightning.

Unicorns, therefore, are hermeticists. As in, they believe in magic, but they also believe in science, and that their magic is just as rigorous and formulaic as science is.

(Kelpies, despite being awesome, are non-canonical. Still, if they were, they'd be short path Buddhists with all the internal re-arranging of chakras and the like in order to shapeshift or develop beneficial adaptations.)

So with all this in mind, it's plainly obvious to me that earth ponies are animists. They have a special connection with the corporeal and terrestrial that other ponies lack. They understand the concept of of the genius loci, and they alone, of all the pony types, can perceive (if unconsciously) and interact with those spirits.

Or, to put it another way, earth ponies are friends with the earth, and can make it do things just by asking nicely.

Mechanically, it's quite simple: Earth ponies, and only earth ponies, may spend Friendship Points on inanimate objects* in order to achieve greater success.

Applejack is harvesting the apple crop from Sweet Apple Acres. She wants to buck the tree and have all of the apples fall all at once into her baskets and nowhere else.

Thematically (within the setting of the game), she understands the tree at an unconscious level and knows the sweet spot to kick and at what pressure. (Her cutie mark helps in this regard; more on how that works in a later post.)

Mechanically, she is spending a Friendship Point to accomplish this, in exactly the same way that other ponies could spend FPs in order to get help from non-player ponies.

So it's not so much that earth ponies have better skills, it's that they have a better understanding of what they are working with. They have better leverage.

To put it in empirical terms:

  • Cutie Mark skill always beats non-CM skill
  • Earth pony with CM skill always beats earth pony without CM skill
  • Earth pony without CM skill but who spends FPs always beats non-earth pony

Does this make sense, or is it clear as mud?

* And by inanimate objects I don't mean just rocks/soil/trees/crops. I mean "Anything that isn't a self-aware life-form."  This includes dresses and cupcakes as well as plants and farmland. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Monday Gun-Yay!

Hello Bronies.  Look at your rifle, then back to me. Then back to your rifle, then back to me.

Look again!  Your rifle is now Fluttershy.

Anything is possible when you mix guns and ponies!

I'm a little horse. 


Sunday, August 19, 2012

This has not been a good day

Ever have one of those days where you wake up on your last nerve and soon just being in the presence of people pisses you off? As in, "Goddammit stop breathing so loudly you are seriously driving me to homicidal rage!"

Today is that day for me. Most of this week has been spent on a writing project (which I was paid for, and got a nice bonus for thoroughness as well!) and this weekend has been a goat-rope cluster-fuck wherein I attempt to migrate not one but THREE email accounts (two Thunderbird, one Outlook Express) to a new computer.

Thus, for reasons that make sense only to me, I give you Sir Alan Rickman making tea in EPIC SLOW MOTION while the music from Inception plays. 

It's better than it sounds. Really. If you can't stand the wait, skip ahead to the 4:00 mark. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Monday Gunday: Technically a firearm

Sorry for the absence. I'm going to blame the weather for my headaches.

Last Thursday, however, I was out because I took a trip to Orlando to pick up the AR lower receiver that I bought from Spike's Tactical for a song ($65.00, including tax). 

Now begins the (potentially) fun part of saving up for, buying, and then installing the various pieces of kit needed to turn this firearm into an actual, usable rifle. Fortunately for me, WizardPC over at Guns, Cars & Tech is going through the same process, so I'm going to pillage his linkdump for useful instructions and shopping lists.
Note 1:  I cannot tell you how disappointed I was that a post titled My Little AR Build had no references to ponies anywhere. 
Note 2: Yes, building an AR is a complicated process full of choices and lots of shopping. As McThag says, "You can't spell Barbie without an AR." Given how the AR platform allows a shooter to swap calibers and accessories with the switch of an upper, there's a lot of truth to this comparison. 
What may amuse some of you non-gunnies out there is that I didn't mis-speak earlier: according to the BATF, this piece is the actual firearm; everything else, including the barrel, is an accessory that doesn't need a background check. Yes, if I took this chunk of powder-coated type III hard coat anodized aluminum and beat someone with it, I could be charged with assault with a deadly weapon.

I shall now pause to allow you to laugh.

Here's a close-up of the Florida design on the receiver. I haven't yet decided upon a name for this one yet -- I imagine that will evolve as I assemble the rifle -- but it should be something which suggests a local flavor.

The dot indicates the location of the manufacturer: Apopka, Florida. 

The only thing I've done to it so far is to remove some the of roughness of the coating. When I first got the receiver, it was a VERY deep black and had a texture that gave me the same shivers as when I hear nails on a chalkboard.* I knew that wouldn't be acceptable for anything I would need to touch regularly, so I took a bronze brush and gave the surfaces a good going-over. This smoothed over a lot of the pores and gave the surface a thin coating of bronze, when I then scrubbed off (mostly) with a stiff nylon brush. What little was left behind gave the piece a slightly weathered look. It's not very visible in the pictures, but the difference is between "everything is exactly the same shade of deep black" and "due to variations in surface topography, some places are lighter than others and now it has a sense of relief and shading."

Also, I can hold it without getting the heebie-jeebies, which is an important feature in a rifle.

*Actually, it felt exactly like uncoated ceramic. Touching that and hearing nails on a chalkboard give me the exact same shivers. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

WNW: Irish Olympic Sailing Commentary

This is for me best mate, Mr. Cumstances McPriv.

(Follow that last link, it's hilarious.)

H/T to whomever first posted this. Not sure who it was, but you're on my blogroll.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

I could sure use some help

Caleb over at Gun Nuts Media is looking for a new writer.

Obviously, I think this new writer should be me. After all, I am the Bratty Little Sister of the Gunblog Community. Also, I need money. And think of all the cool stuff I could get to review!

If you would like to see me writing for Gun Nuts, then I encourage all of you to leave comments or emails to that effect, because frankly I'm not above stacking the deck in order to get this job.


Monday, August 6, 2012

Monday Gunday: the Voodoo Tactical Armadillo Bag

Faithful readers will no doubt recall that I have been in search a method to tame the bucking and jumping -- "muzzle whip," I believe it's been called -- of my Mosin-Nagant. (For those of you who are unfamiliar, I have a big nasty Russian rifle that's as tall as I am, and fires a cartridge with enough recoil that it'll put hair on your chest.)

My particular problem with my Mosin isn't its 7.62x54R cartridge and the beefy recoil. In fact, I rather like the attention I get when other people are pop-pop-popping at the range and suddenly there's a tremendous BOOM! from my cannon. No, what bugged me was the way that, after each shot, the muzzle of my rifle would leap about a foot into the air (but was probably only a few inches) and come down in an entirely different place, forcing me to find my target all over again. While this isn't much of a problem at 25 or 50 yards, it's pretty significant at 100.

After doing some research, I was informed that this muzzle whip was probably caused by, or at least exacerbated by, the lightweight ATI stock that I owned. I reasoned, therefore, that if the problem was not enough mass in the stock then I could solve the problem by adding more mass back. The question, therefore, was how?

The answer is this: the Voodoo Tactical Armadillo Bag. ($60.95 + S&H)

This is basically an oversized purse fitted with MOLLE straps and an extra-wide carry strap. But what makes this handy are those two protrusions up top. The Armadillo is meant to serve as a shooting bag as well, and it works by supporting the rifle when you place the fore-end of the rifle between those two cushions. This is supposed to give a stable shooting surface, like a bipod, and also prevent side-to-side rocking.

If you're wondering, "Erin, I don't see how this solves your problem," you're well ahead of the curve. The fact is, it doesn't solve my problem -- or at least, it doesn't solve it in its stock formation. Time to modify!

A bag, inside a bag, inside a bag. I think I'll call this "Inception."

I said I needed mass, right? I want you guys to know that this bag is just the right size and shape to hold a 20-pound sandbag. It even has a lovely drawstring hood to help keep any errant bits of sand from leaking out. (Although, Protip: Place the sandbag in a heavy-duty plastic trash bag for extra insurance.)

All right, there's the mass, but how did I anchor it to the rifle?

Like this.

Through a cunning series of straps that I improvised. It's hard to tell, but trust me when I tell you that those straps aren't supposed to be there. The buckles on the left are supposed to help anchor the lid to the body of the bag, in case, I dunno, the zipper isn't strong enough or something. But let me tell you, sweetheart, that I didn't have any trouble keeping the lid closed, and I had a freaking sandbag in it when I toted it to the range.

This is the finished configuration, with the rifle securely lashed to 20 pounds of dead weight. I can tell you with absolute certainty that, affixed to this, my rifle doesn't buck any more. It just pushes straight back, like proper recoil. (And if it starts to move, I can always increase the weight. This bag easily holds 1,000 rounds of 9mm plus some .22LR.)

No doubt some of you are wondering why I have a bipod on the rifle if it's strapped to the bag. That's a very good question! The answer is that I couldn't get the sandbag to make a completely even top surface, what with the tie-down and the plastic bag and the drawstring, so the bipod is there to make sure my rifle is level. It's a bit belt-and-suspenders, I grant you, but the only thing I wanted that bag for was as a MOLLE-encrusted anchor, and believe me it delivers in that regard.

So, yes. The Voodoo Tactical Armadillo Bag. I can't rate it for what it's supposed to be, because I'm not using it like that, but it works very, very well in its new role. Voodoo Tactical makes their bags tough enough to survive the horrible things I do to them.

Doctor Frankenstein says:  A+

FTC Notice: I bought this product with my own money, so neener.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Freedom Munitions Update #1

I promised y'all a review of Freedom Munitions once I'd shot some, so just for fun, I loaded up 2 extended magazines and took them to the range this afternoon. One  had 30 rounds of store-bought 9mm Blazer, the other had 30 round of 9mm Blaster from Freedom Munitions. Both were 115 grain FMJ. 

I did not detect any difference in performance or operation between the store-bought ammo and the commercially reloaded ammo. It was indistinguishable to me. 

If anything, it was the magazines which gave me trouble with several Failures To Feed. Ironically, the mag with the store-bought stuff had more FTFs (3) than the one with the reloaded ammo (1), so I'm chalking that up to "Extended magazines sometimes do that" instead of blaming it on the ammo. 

For my next test, I'm going to shoot 100 rounds (or more) of the reloaded Blaster and see if there are any malfunctions that I can attribute to the cartridges themselves. I don't think I'll find any, but 10% of my volume should be a statistically significant sample. 

Picture Perfect Pony

Not enough ponies around here lately. (Still working on Failure is Awesome, I promise.)

This is just too awesome not to share. A brony has made a 3-minute music video with original animation, original voice acting, and original music. 

Words cannot express how impressed I am. The first time I saw it I was going "Wait, I've seen the episode with Photo Finish in it, I don't remember any of this," and then it proceeded to annihilate all my expectations. 

It looks like it came out of the MLP studios, it's that well made. 


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

WNW: Spoon!

I'm not sure if I ever posted this or not. I suspect I have, but cursory search of my blog doesn't turn it up.

Oh well. If I did, it was years ago, and worth seeing again.

The Fine Print

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

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