Halloween Zero-to-Thirty Challenge Rating Challenge

I’ve collaborated with @probablybadrpgideas​ on a thing!

For the 31 days of October leading into Halloween, let’s all make one Dungeons & Dragons monster per day. Challenge rating starts at 0 on day 1, and each next monster is CR+1, culminating with a CR30 nightmare on the 31st, representing the monsters getting spookier and more dangerous as we approach the most sacred day. Post your monsters each day like an advent calendar, try running encounters against monsters posted by others, build one-shot Halloween-themed adventures, make monstrous player races to oppose the growing threat, make fan art of other people’s monsters, or just enjoy and share the community’s creations!

For your consideration, a prompt list:

  • Pumpkin Spice
  • Undead
  • Kaiju
  • Fairytale
  • Accursed
  • Spoopy
  • Beast
  • Outer Space
  • Doppelgänger
  • Capitalism
  • Insects
  • Trick-or-Treat
  • Misunderstood Monster
  • The Deep
  • Prehistoric
  • Secretive
  • Ooze
  • B-Movie Monster
  • Expanse
  • Parasite
  • This is Not a Place of Honor
  • Chaos
  • Mythology
  • Supernatural
  • Mecha
  • Psychopomp
  • Forest
  • Abomination
  • Caves
  • Boss Monster
  • End of the World

Feel free to follow the prompts in any order you like for inspiration, skip and replace any you aren’t feeling, use another list, or just follow your heart to make the spoopy spooks of your dreams. Dealer’s choice for D&D edition, or Pathfinder, or Monster of the Week, or whatever TTRPG system you like, just make them scarier and tougher each day.

This is the Halloween Zero-to-Thirty Challenge Rating Challenge. Let’s see what amazing things we can come up with to celebrate the best time of year. Hope your party survives to the end!

Gotta Spend Bells to Make Bells

Animal Crossing: New Horizons! You all should be playing it. Like right now, get right on that please.

Cool, now that we’re all on the same page, check out my spreadsheet for tracking turnip sales. Behold, the Porkfolio!

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1f_TfNdhdvAvrzr90bZL6hlMoIuADGte_jlbDLX4NpnY/edit?usp=sharing

Just input the date of each transaction, the amount of turnips bought or sold (use negative numbers for sales), and the price per turnip. The sheet will track bells earned or lost per transaction, how many turnips you have left, and the target price for remaining turnips to still turn a profit. Each Sunday, clear out your values and start fresh (or keep tracking longterm, I mean turnips don’t really work that way but it’s your finances so feel free).

Let me know what you think! I’m sure I’ll be making tweaks in the coming days to fix math errors.

We’re wearing masks now.

We’re wearing masks now.

It’s something we’d been thinking of for awhile now, but a combination of the CDC discouraging their use and a desire to not disrupt the supply chain of medical-grade protection kept us away from it. But it seems as if the federal guidance is about to shift to recommend some sort of face protection, with a basic cloth mask covering the nose and mouth seeming to be prudent.

Some have derided this action as unnecessary and insufficient to protect against the disease completely, but they’re full of shit and I’m ready to tell them so now. Any protection is better than no protection; this is what doctors have been told in the absence of PPE, and in the face of the sick and dying, no less. And since we don’t even know if we’re sick due to the high rate of asymptomatic infections, and since someone with COVID-19 can disperse it just through the saliva that expels from breathing in the presence of others, a mask feels like a perfectly reasonable precaution to limit the spread, even if only marginally.

Other countries have figured this out weeks or months ago. Americans need to get onboard and normalize the wearing of masks by healthy people. The curve will never flatten if we don’t start taking this much more seriously, much more quickly.

I’ll see you at the supermarket. When I desperately need supplies. In my mask.

Data collection in times of sickness both personal and global

Two weeks ago, I caught a sinus infection on the return flight from Disneyland (before the parks were closed down for health concerns; the trip feels like a lifetime ago). Since hospitals and doctors’ offices are getting slammed right now, I knew that making an appointment would not be prudent, so I called and requested an antibiotic prescription (they seemed grateful to have me not clutter their office and get others sick).

Throughout the entirety of my medication period, I took my temperature, sometimes several times a day. I wanted to keep tabs on how my illness progressed, and of course look out for possible COVID-19 symptoms in case my infection was weakening my immune system enough for another viral invader to take purchase (fortunately, this was not the case, and my typical old season-and-travel-influenced nasal drip ran its course as expected).

In the course of taking my temperature and adding the results to the Health app on my iPhone for tracking, I wrote up an iOS shortcut that I could trigger the temperature input via Siri. Maybe someone else will find some use in this, so here’s a link (requires permission to write health data, obvs).

Since I was recording my temperature like crazy, I now have fun visualized data!

Got a lot of high 96°F ratings which felt a bit low as a baseline, but then again, I never have this volume of body temperature data available to me, so perhaps I run cooler than I thought. Only got to 99° once and that was after a much-needed outdoor walk, so I’d chalk that up to a slightly elevated heart rate. Average of 97.44° is within expected ranges and also happens to align with the average temperature in recent studies.

So after all that, no fever (and no COVID-19; I’ve been sheltering in place since I got off that plane, especially as the global pandemic started to ramp up). Only some fun with data collection. Which, as self-quarantine activities go, isn’t the worst way to pass the time.

Manual Apple Store Gift Card Link Creation for Apple Wallet

Just because this took me way too long to figure out:

If you have an Apple Store gift card you’re unable to scan into Apple Wallet via the iPhone camera (in my case, because I had a digital gift card from a third party that just provided card number and PIN, no QR code to be found), manually create a URL formatted as follows:

https://storepass.apple.com/pc/v1/card/################/AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

Replace ################ with the gift card number, and AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA with the PIN, then click the link on your Mac or iOS device to generate the Apple Wallet confirmation prompt. C’est fait!

MoviePass update

It’s a garbage fire of a service and I cancelled my subscription months ago.

But I bought Helios and Mathewson stock first because it was slime-mud-on-fire-dirt-cheap, so I guess I still support them by being an investor or something?

But now they’re being spun off into a separate company, so the shares won’t even be connected to the concept I found so fresh and intriguing in the first place.

But Cinemark Movie Club looks like a more reasonable setup since the local Cinemark is the only place I see movies nowadays, due to comfy recliners, reserved seating, and very close proximity.

Don’t do MoviePass you guys.

D&D DM Diary – Adelia’s Gift (Part 1)

I’m running my own Dungeons and Dragons campaign! After several years of not being able to figure out scheduling with my existing gaming group, my desire to play D&D again finally won out over my fears of putting on the Dungeon Master hat. It’s a little daunting, especially since I’ve chosen to write a 100% original campaign and story (this may end up being a mistake), but the players are all new (playing 5e) so at least we all get to go through the learning process together.

Though I don’t think the campaign I’ve written is anything exceptional or original, I’m happy enough with how it’s gone so far that I wanted to share our experience at the table, in case other would-be DMs out there need a little extra push to start running their own games. Continue reading D&D DM Diary – Adelia’s Gift (Part 1)

Hollywood Unoriginality Ratio: Get Out

MoviePass is pretty great you guys. Found myself with an open afternoon so I figured I’d stop by my local Century Cinema 16 today to see newly-Oscar-nominated-but-really-I’ve-been-wanting-to-see-it-anyway Get Out. It was really good it turns out! I guess sometimes the self-congratulatory circle-jerk movie awards organizations happen to pick productions of actual quality and not movies engineered specifically to sway judges. A broken clock, amirite?

And it turns out, they still do trailers before movies, and many of them are for movies that are derivative works of a prequel/sequel/remake/adaptation nature. Hence, the HUR returneth. It’s not the metric of original storytelling we want, but something about great responsibility. Continue reading Hollywood Unoriginality Ratio: Get Out

Custom Disney Pin Trading Display Board

Jenny and Mario's Disney Pin Boards

Confession: I have fallen victim to the Disney pin trading fad.

My girlfriend and I told ourselves we would be able to just buy a few collectible pins and be done with it. We picked up WALL•E and EVE, plus some Star Wars characters. Then grabbed some hat pins for trade fodder. Then I bought the Inside Out set. Then we splurged on a Diamond Anniversary medallion set. Before we knew it, our lanyards were weighed down with metal baubles and we needed a place to keep the ones we didn’t want to trade.

Pinterest to the rescue! Continue reading Custom Disney Pin Trading Display Board

Thoughts on Furious 7

Furious 7 — and the entire (The) Fast and (the) Furious franchise — doesn’t seemingly merit the praise I laud upon it. As an action series, there’s an expectation for it to hit specific beats and move on. And it certainly does that with aplomb; fast driving here, explosions there, punches aplenty, attractive women looking attractive… But at the same time, this series packs more heart into it, more appreciation for its characters and their diverse personalities and quirks, more respect for the audience than we would ever expect of normally-mindless action flicks.

Are there crazy physics-and-logic-defying sequences that stress the limits of suspension of disbelief? Certainly, and possibly more in Furious 7 than anything prior (and that includes Fast Five’s giant-safe-tethered-to-two-cars-driving-at-speed-being-used-as-sliding-wrecking-ball). If that’s going to be a problem for you, I might suggest sitting this one out. (The guy who sat next to me at last night’s IMAX screening was quite vocal in his disapproval of the stunts presented onscreen; I fear he may have been in the wrong theater. Or state.)

But at the same time, there’s a movie-long romance arc about Dom and Letty’s relationship (I assume you’re all equally on first-name basis with the characters) being strained by Letty’s persistent amnesia (let’s all just move on from that bit), and a respectful farewell for Brian’s character that doubles as a teary-eyes goodbye to Paul Walker.

There’s a revisiting of the scene and characters from Tokyo Drift — a film made ten years ago with none of the characters from the previous films as a crazy effort to breathe new life into a waning franchise, no forethought of an ongoing story, but which became the springboard for an arc spanning five films — to dovetail Han’s death/funeral with Owen Shaw’s drive for vengeance. No action movie I can recall has story seeds running through the veins of a decade of films; most exist movie-to-movie, trying to reboot a series with every release to sustain public interest, keeping only one or two actors in to maintain audience recognition (and probably to keep the budget down).

James Wan had a difficult task of taking over for Justin Lin, who had directed films 3-6 and established the long arc, and continuing those story threads into their next phases. He successfully weaved Han and Gisele’s death, Walker’s struggles with the doldrums of domestic life, Shaw’s defeat in Fast and Furious 6 acting as ghost from their past for a new antagonist in Jason Statham, and the aforementioned Letty amnesia into a beautiful tapestry, while still giving everyone in this (now slightly smaller) ensemble cast appropriate screen time to continue to develop their characters and simultaneously kick ass. He even brought in new faces such as the brilliant hacker Ramsey and the mysterious US government agent/benefactor/plot driver Mr. Nobody, both of whom I expect to see in future endeavors.

And there’s no doubt in my mind that there will be future endeavors. Although the actors got to pay their respects to Walker in character and let his character sunset in as fitting a way as I could have ever imagined, it’s also clear that their love for Walker motivated them to give this movie a proper heartfelt ending. That same motivation, that shared experience amongst cast and crew, will no doubt continue to drive them to keep telling their story as long as there’s a story to tell. They’ve lost someone special to them, and instead of throwing in the towel and canceling the film they can now be catalyzed to carry on. The cast, like the characters they portray, are family.

That mutual love, adoration, and respect is ever-apparent onscreen, and serves as yet another indicator that this series is special. The cars, the jet-setting, the action, the spectacle… It all hides something much more profound and powerful than I ever expected to find in movies like this. In the end, that heart is what will keep bringing me back.

[discuss]