Friday, May 21, 2004

Books Are Made Out of Paper

And the paper I'm talking about is money. Hence it's only reasonable to expect that it similarly costs money to buy books.

And contrary to popular belief, I am not made out of money (especially considering I'm unemployed, which is making the call center more lucrative with each passing day). I doubt anyone is. And as an advocate of reading (and buying!) books, that leaves me with a dilemma. Obviously, I want to buy as much books as I want, so that I can read (and I share the same fear with Vin that one day, I'll grow so bored because there's nothing good on TV and all my friends are "busy" that all I can count on is to read a good book, but I've exhausted the supply at home, so currently, we hoard books so that that day may never come) a lot.

But my eagerness to puchase books surpasses my actual capability to do so. So what happens is (which is the logic of having Free Comic Book Day) that in the event that I do buy books, I end up buying books which I already like (i.e. my favorite genre). Of course the problem with this is that I stop expanding my horizons and I also give the impression that I've stopped expanding my interests. I'm actually the type of person that'll accept free stuff (i.e. books you want to loan) and I'll eventually get to reading it (if it's actually good... honestly, if it's a bad book, why bother loaning it? If you're actually giving it away, I see the logic in doing so, but you're probably better off burning its ugly remnants) once I have the time (and the motivation).

Realistic Wishes for the Year (in no particular order)

1) That I (not necessarily alone) could come out with a comic or a program featuring awareness of RPGs and the like (Wizards of the Coast is giving away a free comic on Free Comic Book Day). Because honestly, I have these RPG comic scripts, but something always keeps on happening before the artist can submit to me the illustrations.

2) Someone would hold a D&D Miniatures Tournament here in the Philippines, because I feel that I can win this one.

3) That a serious and responsible group interested in SF&F would appear. Because I want to meet people who share the same interests as me. And talk to people who've actually read Lord of the Rings, for example (or The Iliad for that matter... I'm already resigning the fact that many Filipinos will have a false knowledge of the Trojan War, and even Vin is not totatlly immune to its effects). And more importantly, people who are interested in propagating the love for this genre.

4) I want to play more D&D games, with a wide spectrum of GMs. And of course, GM a game or two. In the immediate vicinity.

5) Have (and hopefully participate) in an anime convention that brings a new dimension to the cons we're having. Because quite frankly, the conventions we're having is stagnating: more of the old and less of the new. So far, the only innovative convention that I've heard is the upcoming yaoi con (which I'm sadly not attending), and that's not a public event nor does it have mainstream appeal.

6) Visit a local library that actually has lots of books, and not limited to either fiction or "research material" (although more research materials are always good).

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Personal Space

The weather really wouldn't have been so bad if it weren't for the fact that rain is an invitation for insects to migrate into my room. And with the kind of windows I have, a lot of insects do get into my room.

I mean it's bad enough that my bathroom has its own complex food web. There's ants feeding on the toothpaste, the spiders feeding on the ants, the occassional fly swarming somewhere there, the cockroaches that only come out at night, and the millions of bacteria in the toilet. But at least what's in the bathroom stays in the bathroom.

And well, there really are lots of things outside of our house. There are the crickets and birds aside from the stray dogs and cats. And of course, lots of insects. And like many things, the big ones aren't the ones you should be afraid of.

30 Years of D&D

Dungeons and Dragons is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year so allow me to remenisce how I first came into contact with the game.

The year was 1995 and I was in grade seven back then. Me being a fan of video games, I saw an ad at GamePro magazine for the basic set of D&D. I didn't really know what D&D was, except for the fact that it was an RPG (and RPG video games were the boom at the time) and that there was controversy over the fact that Magic: The Gathering was killing D&D at the time. But I was curious, so I had an auntie from the US buy it for me as a birthday gift.

When it finally arrived, I had these stat cards for various character up until level 3 (back then, I already knew that a 1st-level wizard was quite helpless), along with the requisite set of die (d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, d20), various miniatures, a dungeon map (which I would loan to a friend of mine some three years later, but he'd eventually lose it), an an audio CD with provided background music and sound effects (back then, fighters, characters apparently didn't have names... they were called "Fighter", "Cleric", "Thief", and "Wizard").

Of course me being the owner of that boxed set, I obviously couldn't have another person run the game. And I didn't know of anyone who ran D&D at school (of course just because I didn't know didn't necessarily mean they didn't exist... apparently, a cabal of players who all belonged to the same class/section was playing D&D... unfortunately, I didn't belong to that section, and never knew about it until the entire batch was "shuffled" into new sections in high school), so it seemed that if anyone was going to play this game, I would have to be the Game Master, and it would also be my responsibility to acquire players.

I did manage to drag a few of my classmates to my house for a game and suffice to say, I ran a terrible game (despite divine intervention of providing a power failure, which was frequent at the time, hence my eagerness to invest in RPGs since they didn't need electricity to run, I wasn't really good at setting the mood, or explaining the rules to newbies). After that, I hid the box which contained the basic set and never set eyes on it again (I instead devoted my energies to Magic: The Gathering, a hobby which would drain me P10,000 a year).

Of course in high school, me being an outcast, I had LOTS of time to linger around campus. I found a group of upper batchmen (and lower batchmen as well, but no one from my batch) playing D&D along with Magic: The Gathering and L5R. It was my real introduction to Dungeons and Dragons, and the first character I made was a 1st-level Fighter, which bit the dust as he and the entire party entered The Temple of Elemental Evil.

But apparently that was a good thing since I rolled some dice and got to play a higher-level Fighter (and rolled some more dice and got better equipment). And then died again. It was one of the rare times when dying meant you had a chance of playing a higher-level character.

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Thursday, May 20, 2004

Indulge Me This Once

Your Magic Abilities by Stathgar
What is the magic word?
Telepathy: 31%
Premonition: 97%
Clairvoyance: 61%
ESP: 42%
Psychic Ability: 66%
Psychotic Ability: 7%
Created with the ORIGINAL MemeGen!

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Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Balance With My Hormonal Imbalance

The human being is a bilateral creature (that is, if you cut a person in half [the right half, mind you], you'd end up with two identical parts) and it only makes sense that what's on the right side of a person also happens to his left (and vice versa, with certain notable exceptions, of course).

TWo years ago, I had a cyst in my right armpit which was uncomfortable to say the least. I had to have an operation to remove it, and the doctor even joked that my fat was going to the wrong places (i.e. the cyst). Of course last night, my left armpit was throbbing, and lo and behold, it seems the cyst sibling has finally reared its ugly head.

Not that this isn't the first time such a thing has happened. I mean several years ago, the sliding door of my bathroom fell on my right foot (because I didn't know my own strength, and you'd be surprised how sliding doors easily become unhinged when they're rusty). Two weeks later, the same door fell on my left foot.

And of course, there's the time I sprained my right foot, and I never quite recovered from that. And some time later, I again sprained my left foot, not quite recovering from that either. So from time to time, expect me to suddenly collapse, even if all I was doing was walking, and I didn't trip on something.

More Gross Stuff

Here is a link to a man's story of how he dealt with tapeworm.

In grade school, our Science teacher told us there's two ways to deal with tapeworm in the Philippines. One is to have an operation. The other, much cheaper way, was to starve to death, and then when you're about to have your bowels, leave a basin of milk beneath you so that the tapeworm will smell it and come out of your ass to feed on it.

More Links!

Just thought I'd share. This one is courtesy of Vern, in which we read the trials of an editorial assistant of a F&SF magazine (sorry, not a F&SF magazine but THE F&SF magazine). And check out his links while you're at it!

And this one is more for the PC geeks (Linux geeks to be precise) in which "open source" is still no replacement for time and effort.

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Monday, May 17, 2004

Rain Rain Go Away

Of course it wouldn't surprise me if I'm the only person in the Philippines who doesn't appreciate rain at this point in time. Yes, I know it's summer and you've all been suffering under the heat. But for me, rain is just another excuse to get wet. And as a pedestrian, I do not like getting wet. And of course, my body is optimized for things very hot, so the change in temperature is far from appreciated. Did I mention I lost my umbrella last week strolling around Mega Mall?


Well, if there's anything my life currenlty lacks, it's tension. The only thing that remotely bothers me is the fact that I'm still unemployed, but the threat of that is like a slow, creeping mold: you'll just wake up one day to find that it's there just like that. No sleepless nights waiting for it to come, no dramatic tension whatsoever. You probably won't even see it coming. Problems that are quick and fast, those are what usually catches my attention: deadlines, accidents, injuries, etc. But unemployment is far from that list. It's like cancer. It's lingering there yet you don't really notice it until it's too late. The weather doesn't help either. It makes me lethargic and sleepy (did I mention I think the idea of sleep is a huge waste of time when that eight hours you spend exploring your subconscious could have been channeled to do something more productive).

Because I'm Bored

Now I'm going to talk about how to be a good liar. And the paradox of being a good liar is the fact that you have to be an honest person to pull if off.

For one thing, if a liar always lied, then he might as well have told people the truth. Because if liars always lied, people would know a liar is lying. And if you know a lie is a lie, then you'd know that the opposite of it is probably what's true. So it doesn't really do a liar any good to perpetually lie.

I don't think I have to reiterate the often-used statement "the best lies are those sprinkled with truth". Actually, my approach (if I was a liar, which I am not, by the way... erroneous at times but not a liar) would be to tell the truth, but not necessarily everything we know, and let other people jump to their own conclusions. I mean let's face it: people love to jump to conclusions. The only judgement we trust is our own. The only exception is when faced with a person with authority or who has been known to judge wisely. Or to tell the truth. So in reality, the best person to spread a lie is a person of honest integrity. And when you're not that kind of person, you can always "lead" the recipient into believing his or her own suspicions, especially since their suspicions didn't come from you directly but from themselves. Never mind the fact that their suspicions is a lie. Their judgement, after all, is true for them.

And of course, shifting between truth and lies is a good way to get other people off balance. I mean if I tell the truth the first time, it's reasonable to expect that the person will expect me to tell the truth again the next time he or she asks. To take this further, mixing it up between the two will make the other person unsure. I mean if I tell the following statements: statement A, statement B, statement C, statement D, and statement E. If statement A was true and statement B was a lie, the person won't really know if statements C, D, and E are true or not. The person would always be second-guessing me whether what I told him or her was true or not, more so if I tend to tell the truth more often than not. And when telling the truth occurs more often, it makes the lie that "I made a simple mistake rather than planning to mislead you" easier to believe.

And of course, to be the perfect liar, I don't have to lie all the time: just once, but at the right time or moment. For example, if there was a police investigation incriminating me and another person as suspects, the best policy I could take would be to tell them the truth, except for the one fact that would incriminate me. Rather than divulging the truth, the lie I'd tell would incriminate the other person. And if everything else I said was true, it would collaborate with that single lie. Another prime example are con artists. The good ones usually make several promises to their prey. All of the promises are fulfilled except the last, which has the highest stakes. For example, a friend of mine would entrust me with P1,000. I'd be honest and return to him the same amount when he got back. Then he'd trust me some more, leaving P10,000 with me and so on. I'd be honest with him until the point that I think it's profitable for me to lie to him, such as when he's entrusting me with, say, P10,000,000. And since I've had a perfect record so far, when I finally pull it off, no one would have seen it coming. Some probably won't even believe that I did it (because of my honest reputation).

As we can see, the best of liars isn't one who frequently lies, but frequently tells the truth, and saves his or her lies for the most opportune of times.

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