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Thursday, October 27, 2011

All winds and clouds and dreams that shun the sun...

The blog title is a quote from Robert E. Howard's poem, "Cimmeria."  I'll get to that in a moment--it's just important to quote your source.

It was cold in Pittsburgh, today (relatively speaking, at least). The skies were flat gray and there was an on-off rain system hanging over us. It was the kind of day that makes you want to curl up on the couch under an afghan with the fireplace going, and a book.

Of course, most of us were stuck at work and can't do that.

Still, days like today remind me of Robert E. Howard's description of Cimmeria: a cold, bleak, gray land of forests and rolling hills. That describes Pittsburgh to a T in the fall and winter. I've been reading a lot of Conan lately--I started back into the Howard stuff to prep for my bi-weekly Conan OD&D game (which is on hiatus for October), but the Hyborian Age is so evocative, gritty, and real that it's easy to get sucked back in and go on a "kick."  I never get tired of reading HOward's work, no matter how many times I do. And as much as many Howard purists get sick at this, I admit to enjoying the deCamp, Carter, and Nyberg pastiches as well. I have actually taken a leap of faith recently and begun reading a pastiche by a later writer, John Maddox Roberts. The title is Conan the Champion, and it was written in 1987. I got this one as a sort of bonus when I ordered a new copy of Conan the Buccaneer to replace the one in my collection that has bad binding.  I figured I may as well give it a shot.

You know what, so far it's not too bad at all. Roberts, to his credit, doesn't try to write like Howard, but he seems to understand Conan as a character very well. He's canny, intelligent, violent, and pragmatic; his code of honor is relegated to, "I don't generally...but in this case..." which is very Howardian. Conan's honor code was practical and more guidelines than a hard-fast set of rules, and Roberts gets that. I'm not sold on the Generic "North" that Roberts uses, yet. The back cover says Brythunia, but the text reads more like some no-man's land between Asgard/Vanaheim and Hyperboria--indeed, the people all have "red-gold" hair, so it's like he wasn't even sure whether to make them Aesir or Vanir. Still, it's well-written and I'm enjoying it so far, much to my surprise. Certainly there's gaming fodder hidden in there, so that makes it worthwhile.

I have been thinking about saving up money to upgrade from my NookColor to an Asus EEE Transformer Prime tablet when they hit the market in November. Those things just look too sweet for words. With a quad-core processor it may even be more powerful than my laptop. Plus there's definitely an attraction to being able to handle all my Nook stuff as well as having a Kindle account. I rock that on my phone; why shouldn't I on my e-reader as well? But more importantly, between the micro-SD and mini-USB support the Asus promises, the QuickOffice Pro app, and their full-sized keyboard dock, it would make for a far more convenient and portable word processing device to take with me for getting some writing done than is my current beast of a laptop.

Also, Julie's been thinking of stepping up to an e-reader; she'd probably love to have my Nook and since she's less of a tech geek (read: snob) than I am, it would probably suit her needs quite well. A basic factory reset would get her up and running nicely.

So yeah, there's lots of reasons to make the leap to a tablet. And if you're an iPad user, please, I beg of you, don't bother to try and talk me into an iPad. From a specs and application standpoint, this new Asus tab makes the iPad look like a child's toy, and I don't buy tech just becuase it's sexy to own, which is really the only reason to own an iDevice over an Android one. You're not going to convince me otherwise.

So what else? The Halloween party is this weekend. I'm kinda excited about my costume. I want it to be a surprise to my guests so I'm not going to say what it is, but I'll try to get pictures. It isn't, as they say, "screen accurate," but it's close enough for government work, or a Halloween party. It was a last-minute brainstorm last week.  I may shore it up (read: redo 90% of it) and wear it at Gen Con next year. I'll see about getting photos to post.

In other party news, Julie and I have been working diligently to get the house in shape. It's coming along pretty well. We may have to close off a room or two upstairs this year, and the basement will likely not get done, but that's really no big deal.

Also, it's Thursday and I have about ten blogs to get written this week for my side job. They need to be in by Sunday at midnight. Balancing that with this week's cleaning has been rough, but I'll get it done. I am unhappy about having been doing these blogs for two months and not gotten paid yet, but we'll see what happens on that front. If the money doesn't start appearing I'll be backing out of this gig.

Applied for a couple day jobs that would be amazing to get, recently, but we'll see if I can score interviews, let alone the actual gigs. Can't wait till the job market opens up a bit. I bet everyone's saying that, though.

And on that note, this entry's getting a bit choppy and stream of I'll sign off for now. Until next time, dear readers, have a better one!

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Sophia, Goddess of Wisdom, and Mary Magdalene.

I'm not a mad bible thumper--Sophia, however, is my inspiration and always in my heart