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Oct. 10th, 2009


Canadian Health Care Stories

Several years ago, I felt very sick. I assumed it was a flu until vomiting didn't make me feel any better at all. I decided I needed to see a doctor. I called my mother-in-law who gave my wife and I a lift to a walk-in clinic.

I saw a doctor within a few minutes. He poked me once and informed me I had appendicitis and need to go the nearby hospital. At the hospital there was a short line (about 4 or 5 people). The people ahead of me looked at me and quickly moved me to the front of the line.

There was a short delay in seeing a doctor; at the time I was brought to the emergency room he was dealing with someone in the middle of a heart-attack. The only sour note was a disagreement between the ER doctor (who told me he wasn't going to let me leave until I got the surgery I needed) and the surgeon who wasn't sure it was my appendix. I was operated on successfully, though, and spent a day or so in the hospital.

Out of pocket expense: $0.

During a routine physical, my father was tentatively diagnosed with prostate cancer. This was followed with various visits to an oncologist, tests, biopsies, and eventually surgery. He was diagnosed early in the month, and recovering from surgery later that same month.

A buddy of mine moved to Alberta from Ontario and didnt' bother signing up for Alberta Health. At the time, people in Alberta payed a small amount per month for health care coverage (a pittance, really; the majority of the health care budget came from general tax revenues), and he didn't want to pay. He was young, healthy, never got sick and didn't see the need for health coverage (that sounds very much like some of the posts I've read in various health care threads on RPGnet).

The he got frustrated at something and kicked a wall. He didn't kick it very hard at all, but managed to do so in just the right way to break his foot. So there he was, hobbling around on a broken foot for days, no idea of what to do until his grandparents dragged him to the hospital.

There he had to fill out a form to get put on Alberta Health Care, and they took care of his foot. No fuss, no muss.

Jun. 13th, 2009



I want to run the hell out of this using -- oh shit, I dunno, FATE? Yeah, FATE would do the trick.

Jun. 4th, 2009


The End of the Story

So a small, independent publisher, Night Shade Books, is releasing a series of books collecting the writings of Clark Ashton Smith, the first one named after one of Smith's stories, "The End of the Story." Somehow I managed to miss this author when I got big into fantasy, sci-fi and horror back in my youth. These days, I'm doing much more reading for pleasure than I've managed in the last, oh, decade or so, rebuilding and adding to my collection of speculative fiction. Enough people have raved about Smith that when I saw the Night Shade published collection pop up on Amazon I grabbed it.

With the opening paragraph of the second story in the book, "The Abominations of Yondo", I was hooked:
The sand of the desert of Yondo is not as the sand of other deserts; for Yondo lies nearest of all to the world's rim; and strange winds, blowing from a gulf no astronomer may hope to fathom, have sown its ruinous fields with the grey dust of corroding planets, the black ashes of extinguished suns. The dark, orb-like mountains which rise from its pitted and wrinkled plain are not all its own, for some are fallen asteroids half-buried in that abysmal sand. Things have crept in from nether space, whose incursion is forbid by the watchful gods of all proper and well-ordered lands; but there are no such gods in Yondo, where live the hoary genii of stars abolished, and decrepit demons left homeless by the destruction of antiquated hells.
Fuckin' A!

Apr. 16th, 2009


Demigod: Putting my money where my mouth is

Over the years I've rarely if ever let an opportunity to slam pretty much every aspect of DRM pass me by. So when I heard that an upcoming game called Demigod was going to be released without any sort of DRM at all, I just had to reward that by buying a copy.

Someone from the publisher Stardock had this to say:

"Second, since Demigod has zero copy protection on it, it meant that that piracy on this title will, in theory, be maximized. Stardock’s position on piracy is pretty straight forward but to repeat it here: It’s not that we don’t think piracy is massive. We just aren’t convinced that it results in that many lost sales. Or more to the point, we don’t think intrusive, obnoxious copy protection will result in more sales than we lose from people who don’t want to mess with it."


As luck would have it, the game is also a lot of fun, but more on that in a moment.

Stardock is taking an interesting approach to their IP. First, that unique key on the back of the manual? You don't enter that when installing the program. In fact, if you want to install it on multiple computers across your LAN for some multiplayer action, they've explicitly allowed this. That key is entered when you create an online account on their Impulse service. This allows you to participate in various forms of online play. They're treating the online services as a value add, an enticement to have a valid key.

I've enjoyed a lot of RTS games, but the ones I've enjoyed most broke away from the C&C formula somewhat, games like Myth, Sacrifice and now Demigod. In this game you mainly interact with the environment through your character, a demigod. You choose your demigod from a list of eight, four "assassins" and four "generals". Assassins roam the battlefield alone, while generals can summon a small number of minions as well. The bulk of the units on the battlefield are allies, which are entirely AI controlled. Each of the demigods I've tried so far plays quite a bit differently.

As you do battle, your demigod gains XP and levels up. Each demigod has it's own set of skill trees allowing you to customize it. You can also spend the gold you earn on regular gear and powerful relics. You also gain favour points for achieving certain goals during the battle (most kills, etc), which can be used to purchase persistent benefits for your demigod.

I found the tactical and strategic aspects of the game interesting. Tactically you need to decide where to deploy your demigod, capturing flags, recapturing flags, hunting enemy demigods, assisting your allies, etc. Strategically you build your demigod in various ways, and you decide how to spend your gold. You can improve your character through gear, buy healing and mana potions and other expendables, and buy upgrades for your citadel (ie: home base). These upgrades can improve your allies, defensive buildings, gold flow, xp rate, and add new allies.

I've found so far that I don't have nearly enough gold to pursue all these different options, so I'm experimenting with different approaches. Focusing on new allies works well. Different demigods will work well with different strategies. A general has to buy increasingly expensive tiers of totems to summon it's minions, cutting into the gold available for other strategies.

I've enjoyed the game so much I'll have to check out Stardock's other offerings.

Dec. 2nd, 2008


Mouse Guard

A lot of people are talking about the new RPG by Luke Crane and David Peterson, Mouse Patrol Mouse Guard, based on the graphic novels of the same name. Some of those people are probably pondering getting in on the pre-order at IPR.

If this describes you, I suggest pondering quickly. There were 194 available when I started entering my pre-order. By the time I was done, they were down to 190. They're at 188 now, and it's the middle of the night.

Nov. 4th, 2008


CNN calls it for Obama

Dear America,

Thank you.

Paul Watson

Sep. 20th, 2008


That politicts test.

I'm not surprised. Well, not terribly, anyways. I am Canadian taking an American-centric politics test, after all :D . I've had my conservative friends call me a liberal, and my liberal friends call me a conservative. In one online conversation regarding the high price of gas I was accused of being a member of an uncaring elite, and an anti-corporate hippie. I've generally avoided labeling myself, but I can live with Socialist.

You are a

Social Liberal
(60% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(16% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid
Also : The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

Jun. 19th, 2008


Random idea

So I'm reading the default setting material in the D&D 4e corebooks as well as this article, a setting their loosely calling "points of light." One thing that jumps out at me is the description of isolated "settlements afflicted by troubles [that] can only hope for a band of heroes to arrive and set things right." Although there are some stark differences, that bit there reminds me strongly of the default setting in Dogs in the Vineyard.

So my random idea is to run a 4e campaign stitching together Points of Light, DitV and using the Broken Places template Levi cooked up. Now the only question is, do I have all the players play paladins? ;)

I'll have to give this some thought ...

That Wordle toy

A lot of folks have been having fun with that new web toy, Wordle. I figured I'd have it take a look at my del.icio.us bookmarks and see what the result is:

May. 1st, 2008


Hinterlands Who's Who

When I was growing up, I loved watching those Hinterlands Who's Who shorts the NFB produced. I don't remember this one, though ...

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