Category Archives: q+=a

Friday Five

The Friday Five asks… Dreams!

1. Describe a recurring dream you have and what you think it means.
Here’s a recurring theme for your analysis…
  • I step onto an elevator. The doors close. Rather than moving smoothly to the next floor, the chamber bounces violently up and down, and sometimes side to side.
  • I flip the light switch in the bathroom. It is dark. I toggle the switch a few times before realizing that I have made a terrible mistake. The fan roars to bloodthirsty life, detaching from the wall, floating toward me.
  • I am in a multilevel parking garage. I see an old car I used to drive. I suddenly realize that my old car wants to kill me.

… Inanimate objects suddenly hate me. But I work in IT so that’s just kind of a fact of life, really. (Weak chuckle.) But seriously, I assume it’s just some sort of metaphor for anxiety over the uncontrollable aspects of life.

2. What do you like to daydream about?
I’m currently daydreaming about a Halloween costume. An elaborate, cumbersome, and obscure Halloween costume. Unfortunately, I probably won’t have anywhere to wear it to, except possibly to answer the door.
3. What’s your scariest dream you can remember?
What, other than being the designated target of the inexplicable antagonism of elevators, ventilators, and automobiles? Okay, fine. I once dreamed that I lost someone important, and all that I had left was a single voicemail message.
4. What would be a “dream come true” for you?
That someone, someday, will say that I made a difference and improved the world in some modest way. And I would also like to take a nice long vacation.
5. Best dream you’ve ever had:
There was the time that I dreamed that I was driving a giant robot. I could actually feel the seat bobbing and swaying each time the robot stepped forward. Yeah, it was pretty cool. What, you expected me to recount a naughty dream? Too bad. I seem always to wake up from those before they can get anywhere.

A Flip-Flop Profession

The question has been posed: If you had to choose a new profession — and it had to be one where you wore shorts, t-shirts and flip flops to do — what would you pick?

Trite Tee Shirt   Shorty Shorts   We Used To Call Them Thongs

Tour guide
Leading a short walking tour might be a fun change of pace. It would be a way to get some excercise, and maybe spend some time outdoors. However, I can easily imagine myself becoming bored with repeating the same spiel over and over. It would probably end up a sounding bit like the Disney Jungle Cruise. Then I’d be fired.
Marine Biologist
For a time, when I was in grade school, I wanted to become a marine biologist. I was much enamoured of sea life in general, but particularly the vividly colored lifeforms of the coral reef. Wouldn’t it be fun to be able to spend all day studying them on a boat in the tropics? I don’t quite remember why I dismissed this idea. It was probably a “realistic” comment by made “helpfully” by an “adult.”
Archaeologist or Paleontologist
I may not know enough about history to become an archaeologist, or enough about prehistoric biology to become a paleontologist. However, I assure you that I can dig through the dirt in as meticulous of a manner as you please. I can document and catalog with the best of them. Schmoozing for grant money may not be my strong suit, but fortunately that would probably be the head scientist’s job.
Telecommuter
I’ve experienced the telecommuting lifestyle on a few occasions. I must say that it was a nice experience to simply get up, fix some coffee, walk into the other room, and get to work exactly on time. With all of the neighbors away at work and school, the environment was amazingly quiet and peaceful, offering the ideal enviroment for me to concentrate on and successfully solve the challenges of the day.
Artist/Writer
Like the telecommuter, but better! No boss, except for the creative process. Of course, I imagine that there’d also be my editor, agent and patrons to please. Not to mention all the conventions, fans, and social media to interact with. And a nervous partner continually demanding to know when all these supposed royalty checks and commission payments are going to come in. Okay, so maybe it wouldn’t really be all that much better than telecommuting. But it would still be a lot better than…
Rejected Jobs:
  • Lifeguard.
  • Coach.
  • Undercover security at Disneyland.
  • CIA agent posing as tourist.
  • The Boss at a laid-back technology company.

Do you see what all of these rejected jobs have in common? Yelling at people or otherwise bossing them around, occasionally having to tackle or drag people around, having the responsibility to save lives, preserve order, prevent war, make money, or win games.

No thanks, I’d rather count fish, photograph potsherds, or deal with writer’s block.

Feeding Time

The question has been posed: What do you feed the monster under your bed?

Monster? What monster?

Monster

Oh, him? I don’t really feed him. I think he scavenges on socks and such. He seems to particularly enjoy gloves and rubber sandals, but he seems to be unable to finish an entire pair. I think he also ate a knit cap that I haven’t seen in a while, a Padres t-shirt, and the belt off my bathrobe.

Hmm. Now that I think about it, I probably should be feeding him.

The Nightmare After Christmas

The question has been posed: If you were to take over a holiday, which holiday would you choose and why?

If I were to become the benevolent dictator over a holiday, I would choose what is probably America’s least favorite holiday: Valentine’s Day.

Seriously?

It is despised by the single as a reminder of another year of rejection. It is despised by those who are dating as a day to literally pay a tribute to one’s partner. It is despised by everyone else as a nauseating festival of candy hearts and cupids. I would imagine that the only folks who do not despise Valentine’s Day are the manufacturers of candy hearts and greeting cards.

So, as the ruthless dictator of Valentine’s Day, I would first do away with the gift-giving obligation. Cards, candy, jewelry? Save it for your sweetheart’s birthday. Or… don’t. Surprise that person any other day of the year.

Now, you may be asking, how shall we celebrate romance, love, and companionship, if not by spending money upon one another?

Holiday of Lust

As the Supreme Overlord of Valentine’s Day, I would model the festivities on the Chinese Lantern Festival. This was traditionally a day for young people to look for love, and for older people to act as chaperones and matchmakers. I would make Valentine’s Day into a day for couples not to lord it over the singles, but to attempt to bring them together. Friends arranging for other friends to meet. A day of introductions and beginnings.

Obviously, this could lead to many people experiencing feelings of failure and rejection if they don’t experience Love at First Sight™ followed by a one-night stand and walk of shame. This will not be that kind of holiday. We have plenty of those already. The new Valentine’s Day will only be about making the attempt. If two people meet and talk, that’s enough. Whether they decide to meet again or go their separate ways is not important. If they decide to continue as romantic interest or as friends is not important. The important thing is the attempt.

Invent Your Own Holiday

The question has been posed: Create your own holiday–what would it celebrate? What would its traditions be? When would it be celebrated?

There are already so many official holidays, unofficial holidays (Super Bowl), and made-up days (Talk Like A Pirate Day) that I can’t imagine that adding one more will add any value to our already full calendars.

But, if I were to wish a holiday into existence, I’d create one celebrating the values of the Enlightenment: “a critical questioning of traditional institutions, customs, and morals, and a strong belief in rationality and science.” It would also celebrate the idea that we should each try to make the world into a better place than we found it. This would be more than an annual admonishment to recycle, though, it would be a time for people to dream of the world they want to live in.

For such a holiday to have traditions would seem rather paradoxical, as the questioning of traditions is celebrated on this new holiday. Indeed, following this line of reasoning would lead to the holiday itself being questioned critically. I would hope that it would withstand its own scrutiny and not simply disappear in a puff of logic.

As for when the holiday should be celebrated, my first thought is the Fifth of November, after V for Vendetta, one of my favorite movies. However, this is already celebrated as Bonfire Night in the UK. So after putting extensive thought into the matter, I’ve decided to pick a date totally at random: the eighth day of the year.

L-Less Story

The challenge has been put forth: Write a (very) short story without using the letter ‘L.’

. . .

Once upon a time, there was a naughty boy whose parents owned a timeshare condo in a dark scary forest. One day— a Tuesday, if you must know— the boy wandered farther into the woods than ever before. He became unsure of the route home. Worse, it began to rain. But then, he discovered a tiny cottage.

The door was open, so he stepped in. Within, the naughty boy found three chairs arranged around a hearth, upon which a warm fire burned. This might have worried any other person, but remember that this was a naughty boy. He sat in each chair, rejecting two for reasons unknown, before resting in the third for a short time.

In the kitchen, he found three cups of steaming hot porridge. Again, this might have have worried any other person, but remember, this was a naughty boy. He tasted each of the porridges, rejecting two for reasons unknown, before consuming the third in its entirety.

Now overcome with food coma, the naughty boy moved to the bedroom, where he found three tidy beds. Intending to nap in one of them, he considered but rejected two for reasons unknown. In the third bed was a rather surprised canine dressed as his grandmother.

“You’re not Red Riding Hood,” said the canine.

“I may be naughty, but this is absurd!” the boy said, and stomped out of the house.

Twisty

Booking Through Thursday asks:

1. Do YOU like books with complicated plots and unexpected endings?

Yes, I do, with some provisions. I don’t mind a complicated plot. Go ahead and write the most convoluted time-travel
murder mystery ever written. I’ll read it. On the other hand, I do mind having to memorize a lot of characters. If I open a novel and find a “Who’s Who” of more than two facing pages, that’s a bad sign. An illustrated family tree is also a bad sign. Several trees in one book is a really bad sign. (Unless it’s being done as a Hitch Hiker’s Guide sort of aside that’s there as more of an interlude than a fact to be digested.)

Unexpected endings are fine, as long as they’re satisfactory in that they make sense and they resolve any dangling threads. In fact, I’d much rather find a (good) unexpected ending than a (good) predictable ending. On the other hand, I have seen some very bad unexpected endings. But I’m not sure which of these three is worst: 1) an unexpected ending that makes me sorry that I ever wasted the time reading the book, 2) an unexpected ending that creates more questions than answers (perhaps as an obvious sequel lead-in) or 3) an endlessly foreshadowed, belabored, and utterly predictable ending.

2. What book with a surprise ending is your favorite? Or your least favorite?

My least favorite was Iron Council. I suppose I can’t really explain why without giving the ending away, now, can I? My favorite was probably the short story “Impostor” by Philip K. Dick. It’s an old story, and so you might be able to guess the ending, even if you haven’t read it already or seen the movie (and for some reason, I thought Jeff Goldblum was in that movie.)

Booking through Thursday: Gifts

The question has been put forth: What books did you get for Christmas (or whichever holiday you may have celebrated last month)? Do you usually ask for books on gift-giving occasions or do you prefer to buy them yourself?

Sadly, I didn’t get any books last month. I did give two books: a cookbook to someone who specifically requested one (on pies, no less) and Law of Nines to a Terry Goodkind fan. I don’t think I’d try to give someone a book as a gift unless I knew them (and their library) fairly well. A poorly chosen book could languish on a recipient’s shelf for years before being read, if ever it was.

Likewise, I don’t usually ask for books on gift-giving occasions unless I have something specific in mind. (Such as a pie cookbook.) It would be too easy for a well meaning individual to either give me something that I’ve already read, or worse, something that they would want to read. (Oh… Twilight. You shouldn’t have.)

Not that I’d ever discourage someone from sending me a book as a gift, but there’s also a small obligation factor. The giver is going to expect that I read the book given sooner rather than later, so that I can tell them what a wonderful selection they made. (Yes… uhm… it was… a real page-turner. Yeah, that’s the ticket. I just couldn’t wait to reach the ending!)

Don’t get me wrong. I have been very pleasantly surprised by given books in the past. I certainly wouldn’t mind being pleasantly surprised again in the future.

Christmas Eve Geek Out

The question has been put forth: Who is tougher, Ten Lords A-Leapin’ or Eight Tiny Reindeer?

Ten Lords A-Leapin'
Ten Lords A-Leapin'

Eight Tiny Reindeer
Eight Tiny Reindeer

vs.



A most curious conundrum! But I know of one way to solve it. Bring on the dice!

PRNG

Yes, let us reduce this clash of holiday symbols to nothing more than a random encounter in a fantasy roleplaying game that shall remain nameless! (Hint: two consonants and an ampersand.)

Ahem. So. Let us first consider the case of the eight tiny reindeer. Reindeer fall into the category of Herd Beast, “the tiniest of which will have one hit point” each. Such a beast will get one attack per round, most likely a bludgeoning attack with the beast’s horns. Normally, this would do something like 1-6 points of damage, but since the reindeer are Tiny, there is a penalty to their Strength. So let’s say a generous 1-4 points of damage per round. We are also meant to assume that these are the magical flying reindeer of the North Pole, so aerial combat bonuses will apply. As magical flying creatures, these reindeer have the highest maneuverability class. This means that each reindeer can attack once per round, rather than spending time circling around for another pass. The reindeer can also take the Charging bonus (+2 to hit, -2 to AC) each time that conditions are favorable.

Let us now consider the case of the leaping lords. We will assume that a lord is simply a non-player character of the Aristocrat class. An aristocrat will have 1-8 hit points per level and “is proficient in the use of all simple and martial weapons.” Let us assume that the aristocrats are armed with daggers or staves. They can therefore do up to six points of damage per round.

Based on this information alone, we can calculate that a reindeer will require at least two successful attacks on a lord to defeat him, whereas a lord will take out a reindeer with each successful attack. The deck is stacked in the lords’ favor. Never mind that the lords outnumber the reindeer by two.

The next question is, how likely is it that a lord will hit a reindeer and vice-versa? Let us assume that the lords are wearing nothing more than heavy winter clothing. The reindeer, being herd beasts, have no special armor bonus either. They do get a small size bonus, but this is canceled out by the Charging penalty. We also assume that the lords are level one, so they get no particular to-hit bonus. Therefore, no team has a hit probability advantage over the other.

In order for the reindeer to prevail, they must win the initiative die roll to attack first, and then successfully strike with maximum damage against a party of low (<5) hit point lords. With incredible luck, the reindeer could defeat eight of the lords in the first round. The reindeer may suffer up to two losses when the lords retaliate, but then the remaining lords would certainly be defeated in the second round as the remaining reindeer concentrate their attacks. The possibility of the above scenario is incredibly remote. Therefore, I predict that the lords will usually win. [caption id="attachment_2429" align="aligncenter" width="74" caption="Winner!"]Winner![/caption]

Edit: This post has been voted into the Best of Holidailies list. Thank you, Holidailies readers!

The Hurting Part

TitanKT asks:

What I keep wondering is… what is our modern day version of The Great Depression going to look like? It just seems like our society is too technological to fit this mental image of what life was like during the Depression. However, it sure seems like that is what we’re in for. My hope is that whatever economic hardships are in store for us (as a country) we will step up and engender a new age of hard work and innovative entreprenuership that will revolutionize global economic systems. Yes, I may be optimistic, but I like it here… it’s sunny and warm most of the time. *grin*

I think we’ll first see a new embracing of frugality. Thrift shops, dollar stores, swap meets, and of course Wal-Mart and eBay. Frugality is the ability to maintain a certain standard of living while spending less to do so. It’s slightly different from being cheap, which is simply a desire to spend as little as possible.

We’ll see cheapness also, of course. I suspect that we’ll see the quality of some goods decline in order to keep them affordable. Folks will still be able to have their HDTVs, their phones, their portable computers… but they just won’t make them quite the way they used to.

Some folks predict that we’ll see a new age of reuse and repair. That rather than throwing a broken TV into the trash, we’ll prefer to take it to be repaired. Or in the case of easy fixes, such as torn clothing, we may fix it ourselves.

We will certainly start to waste less. And perhaps we’ll once again realize that waste is wasteful. People may take recycling, water conservation, etc. seriously if there’s more of an incentive to do so than "feeling good about the planet."