Leaving the 'Book

I haven't deleted my Facebook account yet, primarily because of organizational issues with LARPS and other role-playing games, that still need to be solved.

But what I have done is deleted all but the last month's posts and all the images I had uploaded, left almost all of the groups I belonged to, un-liked everything except a few friends writer pages, and stopped posting or reading my timeline. 

The hardest thing so far? Overcoming the urge to post something I find interesting and think some friend might like.

Haven't felt like sharing much other than that. I am unsure why I'm even posting this here. I think more for me to have a record of it than anything else.

We'll see if I feel the need to write things again here.






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Like Tears In The Rain

Moments of Viggo
from Shadows Fall (Crucible Chapter Five)

Sitting outslde the Hound barracks,
sipping the hot mead of the black bean,
watching all the ladies walk by. 

Rathmon sees a living Havok, exclaims "Constantine!" and shimmers away.

Ragnoc is gone and Viggo stands guard over Fox, Samedi, and the corpse. Not that they need guarding, but Viggo doesn't know what else to do. Should he hug the people or hold the body like Fox does? Or would that be seen as odd or wrong? As always, Viggo finds it difficult to know how to handle people experiencing emotion.

Unable to stop the fall of the axe himself, he watches as an Alteraanian shield comes between him and the descending weapon. Thank you, Alistair, that would not have been a good way to die.  

Beaten by greater numbers in the dark, awaiting inevitable death, he lies and admires the stars. I never  looked at them enough he thinks. 

Hearing a beautiful melodic voice, feeling the brush of light hands, when his last memory was of entering the final dark as the blade bit into the back of his neck. His body twitches as the singing continues until the woman compresses his chest and breath begins again in a long, painful, inhalation of sweet, sweet air. The constant Dark murmur is gone, and the colours have returned, Sachsen blue, the fair lady Elena is exactly the sort of sight one wishes to see when awaking from the sleep of the dead   

Finding out that Elric was responsible for Viggo's resurrection, by providing the Angelhair that he had won in a story-telling contest with the ghosts of children on the same night. 

Fox tells him that she doesn't want to have to say prayers to his ancestors over his body again.

The demon shoots fire at Viggo, and Viggo laughs. The demon tries electricity on Lea and she laughs also. Disconcerted, the demon tries the reverse tactic, shock at Viggo & fire at Lea, clearly unaware of the Hound mutagen that makes them immune to both. The demon then quickly falls to Lea's Holy Axe. Viggo says to the demons dead form "Sorry, you picked the wrong targets this time."  

Taking the claws of an infected and crazed dryad to the face as he tries to hold her down while surgery is performed.

With a slight bow to Adaedem, Viggo indicates recognition and respect. Adaedem returns a nod of recognition at least, and says "Make sure these fools don't get too close." Viggos complies with the demon's request, as it seems the safest course of action. He finds he has to explain to some people who Adaedem, Tribune of the Court of the Pale Crown is, and what he is capable of. Viggo struggles with the fact that though he has no reason to dislike the Lady Nikora, her current predicament, seems for some reason he doesn't quite understand, highly amusing.      

This... feeling of anger, that Fox should have to suffer both the loss of Ragnoc and then the loss of Samedi within a space of two days.This feeling of the unfairness of it all. Is this hate he is feeling toward Samedi for doing this to Fox? But why does he care? Fox is a friend and a comrade, yes, but why this confusingly strong feeling toward Samedi who was only doing the necessary thing? And why this feeling of anger at the universe in general for not preventing this from happening to Fox? Is this something like that love thing people were talking about it?  
Viggo, though less inebriated than when Garm threw him out of the tavern, was still a little hazy. Having lost all his coin when he died the previous night seemed less of an issue after the vampire tavern owner told him that prostitution wasn't legal in Daggerwood. He'd realized she was trying to help with her advice about talking to people to get sex, but knew that, outside of other Hounds, that sort of thing led to all sorts of complications, and thus he had always preferred a nice simple exchange of value. But it had been a good night to a great day otherwise, and ending it with a good fuck would have been his preference. Best way to celebrate not being dead!
It had seemed unlikely Viggo would get such a celebration until Manfabio and his entourage had appeared. Whilst many of the lads Manfabio had with him were tempting, he only had eyes for the luscious creature who first tempted him to join the party. He waited for her to work her way around to him again, and when she asked if she could do anything for him, he made it plain what he was most interested in. She was unfazed by his desire, and suggested they retire to a dark area behind a nearby tree.
Afterwards, Viggo couldn't remember details, just flashes of bouncing fire-light on perfect skin, her touch on him, his rough hands on that seemingly fragile body, and the wonderful feeling of release, like nothing he had ever felt before.
"Yes" thought Viggo, "This was a good night."
Later, as the other hounds teased him for sleeping with what was, in retrospect, obviously a succubus, Manfabio having been revealed as the Crimson King, he couldn't bring himself to regret it. She had not asked for anything from him, he had not felt drained by the experience. The one problem he thought, was whether he would be spoiled for sex with anyone else. Was even someone as hot as Fox able to compete with Manfabio's servant? "Didn't even get her name..." he though before laughing at himself for the idea that a demon would voluntarily give out her name.
In horror he watches as Emmeline's head is severed, unable to reach her in time to stop the kllling blow. The head being hurled at him did not have the full effect the demon desired, mere gore wasn't enough to faze a Hound. But the weapon break leaves him defenceless again.

Wearing night-clothes, with all his own weapons broken, carrying a borrowed axe, he answers the unstoppable demon "That's coz we're not fucking ants, you prick."  The demon is drawn from Lea and the important people to deal to "the mouthy bastard", as he goes down again Viggo thinks "The ant got you to do what he wanted you to do, even if it it did cost it's life." 

Viggo speaks in Aetherial with the demons recently released from the Dark by the Malevingian's sacrifice, telling them that the new chapter of the Order of the Wolf, the Ebon Wolves, led by the malefactor Janus, would be happy to provide a place for those who want one, if they felt they could not return to the Ebon Legion anymore. Viggo now respects and admires the Malevigian, for her sacrifice, rescuing her remaining forces from the Dark in exchange for herself returning to them. He reflects on how much has changed since arriving on Averynas, as he is now welcoming demons he would once have tried to killed on sight. Drinking with Janus, and seeing him get cleansed by the Crimson Marquis, and then state his case to the Hound leadership, there is so little difference between us.  
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Burning Angel

Hydra 2014

Great weekend, need moar sleep.

I have however, proved to myself that I am still capable of staying up till four in the morning on both Friday & Saturday night, and still going to work the next Monday. Luckily I didn't have a lot of thinking to do on Monday. So what is it about Naomi, Steph, Nick & I, that results in the four of us always being in the Maere Hall (Taverna) long after midnight? This time we were joined by Daniel & on Saturday night also by Ollie. Team Snore Room FTW!

Friday night I got to be Bobby Singer in "Roadhouse Blues." It was a lot of fun, especially the way the random music kept being appropriate to the situation. As per the series, we failed to save any of the "innocent humans" in the end. All in all, a good start to Nick's LARP writing career, even if he did try to lead me into the river twice in a row.

Saturday morning  Bryn & I played inquisitors in Kerry & Paula's Exodus. The most interesting thing to me in the game was observing the power dynamics. Even though significantly outnumbered, not once were the inquisitors truly threatened by any of the villagers, and even the most belligerent and powerful male in the village submitted to his torture without a struggle.

I remember one of the stroppier villagers (Sam, I think?) at one point declaring You can't burn all of us!" and enjoyed watching the play of emotions over her face as we replied, almost in unison "Yes, we can. We will raise the entire village if necessary!"

Of course, we burned two innocents, the very observant old woman, and the priest who confessed to spare the rest of the village, meaning it was technically a tragic failure, but it was still great as an exploration of the context. Another interesting thing was how both Bryn and I were so keen to get out of the Inquisitor robes at the end.

Saturday afternoon I played in Hannah Mckie's BDL Play Competition. This reminded me why I prefer being in LARPs over being in plays, I suck at remembering lines. It was interesting to see the sexism inherent in a lot of the structures, the guy with the least lines who appears only briefly at the end of the play, listed first in the Dramatis Personae, the actors being given their certificates in the prize giving in this order also.

And I experienced being a "cripple". I don't know if Hannah intentionally meant for the warm-up exercises that consisted mainly of walking to be such a trial for James, the polio victim with a semi-functional leg, but that, and said leg accidentally catching the chair leg as I got up to receive my certificate, and people throughout assuming I couldn't do things because of my leg, and trying to be "nice" to me because of it... well, let's just say that I feel I have a far better understanding of how those with real physical restrictions might feel, though of course being subject to it for only three hours can't be compared to living it.

Then Saturday evening I got to be the opposite, a supremely confident and extremely physically capable Bravosi. Thanks Daniel, for that first round fight. It was a perfect way of introducing my character to those who hadn't met him yet. I loved pulling off the woolen cloak and fighting in the rain in the cut-down tunic and just generally acting as an honourable swashbuckler. By the end of the game though, Itzal had become somewhat numb. he had been robbed of his vengeance on Seda by another's  dishonourable act, he had been knocked out of the tournament, and he had discovered too much about what the "Ruler" became. He was happy for his sister Rosalia, & Amatus, whom he considered a brother, as their loves worked out, and for the end of the feud, but knew he would lose his only love again at the end of the evening when Damoc returned to the dead. With the ranks of the Bravosi  drastically reduced by the various events of the evening, there was little left for him but duty to family & his newly returned sister. I must give my thanks yet again, Leonie, for the lovely last memory of Damoc you left Itzal with.
Sunday morning was Slash. I was impressed with the way the new players threw themselves so physically into their roles, & it wasn't at all awkward having my son acting as an NPC. Not at all. :) 

Sunday afternoon I attended a funeral. By this stage I was starting to burn out, so couldn't summon up any energy to protest about being ejected from the funeral, after my plans had failed, though this was also partially because IC I felt bad about those plans anyway. So I took a few photos of Hydra Games instead. Will try & upload them soon. It was nice of Sophie's character to talk to me outside anyway, and later for her & the monkey girl *grin* to invite me back inside. Though quite why I was the monkey girl's hero I don't know.

The tea-cup mechanic was interesting, but often hard to react to usefully, as often one is thinking about what one has just said, or what the hecks going on over there?

So overall, I played Bobby Singer, a filth wizard, two homosexual men, a religious torturer, and a swashbuckling bravo. None of these were married, or hooked up in any way, to Naomi, so I think that streak has been well & truly broken.

Not all the emotions I experienced in character over this weekend were fun, some of the were downright horrible, but luckily I am, OOC, happy enough at present that I could actually enjoy feeling terrible IC.  


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This is how you get started in coding (from Linda Liukas)

Finding the right product or motivation for your kid is the key. Some kids love making games. Others enjoy writing stories. One little boy I taught got very excited about "hacking" existing websites with Chrome Inspect Element tool. Another girl wanted to learn Java to make Minecraft mods. 

You don't need to be a professional developer to get kids started in programming. Many of the products include lightweight curriculums and roadmaps to help the kid learn more. One of the most important qualities of a programmer is the ability to figure out problems. Googling is allowed!

This is not a conclusive list - I'd love to hear more recommendations from you in the comments.

For the smallest ones (5-8)
For the elementary schoolers (7-12)
For the teenagers and beyond (13 -> )
  • Codecademy. Interactive exercises in the browser for Python, Ruby, JavaScript, HTML (full disclosure, I used to work here!).
  • Codeschool. Dive deeper into different programming languages. 
  • Dash. Learn to make websites with an interactive tutorial. 
  • Coursera. I liked the Startup Engineering course. 
Ruby for children (just because of Ruby)

Books and stories

Curriculum and community

  • Code.org has a very large resource list to try out.
  • Mozilla Webmaker includes tons of tools and guides for building the web.
  • CoderDojo is a global non-profit for starting a coding club for kids. 
  • DIY.org is a community for kids to learn to make things. 
  • CS Unplugged has activities you can do without a computer to teach programming fundamentals. 
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33AR Session 2 : Red Letter Day

Overall observations : Loved how people started coming to Jack for a certain type of help with their problems. So much happened that on many occasions I was thinking along the lines of "What? It's not lunch time yet?!?!" or similar. So much happened that when I tried to tell Sally about what happened Sunday night I had to keep jumping back in sequence because of all the stuff I forgot. So much happened that some poor person who made the innocent mistake of asking how how Jack's day had been in the Taverna at some point got an exasperated listing of the "highlights", mainly all the bits with dead bodies, in response.

The Weekend of the Queens Birthday Ball & Leo & Moss' Wedding
(From the perspective of Jack Gaunt, variously known as Jack of Hearts, Red-Hand Jack, etc)

Friday Night

The night before Leo & Moss' wedding was supposed to include a bit of a stag do for Leo. It didn't happen.

There was the appearance of Bess' body, now inhabited by a person known as "74." Some may have thought that it was disgust at the homunculi process that made me uneasy around 74, but it was really because I'd had a hand in that, and I knew Bess didn't want whatever it was they did to her. May as well be open about this now, as I've told everyone that matters, including 74 herself.

See, I'd been approached by Mr. Black to find Bess sometime ago, and when I'd tracked her down to somewhere near the port, I'd gone along with Mr. Black to bring her in. As soon as she'd seen Mr. Black, she'd screamed and run. So I knew she must have been forced into this process. For some reason, I felt guilt over this. It's not like I haven't killed people before, and sometimes not in nice ways either, so why was the idea of helping create this homunculi a problem to me? It's not even as if I cared for Bess all that much, she was a cute chorus girl, and was trying to better herself, but it's not like we had any special connection or anything. At least that's how I thought at the time anyways.

During the evening a Lord Cyrus Khain turned up. He was East India Company, and turned up on a zeppelin I'd seen before, the fast wee beauty Mr. Black had been using. So I thought I'd better treat him right. He seemed fond of 74, and even told me his pet name for her. I let him know I'd worked for Mr. Black, so he knew I was connected, & could be useful. Seems Mr. Black was head of his security detail.

So it was that later, when he asked for an escort back to his zeppelin, I volunteered. I was pretty certain that he was headed the wrong way, but what the hell, I didn't mind wandering round in the dark. At least not until we saw The Cage all lit-up like a fairground.

The Gear, Orpha, reckoned it had somehow turned itself on, so she tried to turn it off, and as should have been expected, we were soon beset by demons in the dark. Khain took everything remarkably well, putting in a few good licks of his own. Luckily a roving patrol came upon us before we were over-run by the demons, and the cage was properly deactivated.

At some point later I remember Leo including me in the group of people he trusted. This made me feel good, even though it also made me feel like he was placing trust in the wrong places.

Lily told me some new gypsies had arrived, and among them was Sero, the brother of her ex-husband. She also said that while she didn't do it, she was suspected of killing the guy. The guy was a bastard and deserved to die, but I knows the law ain't always too hot on reasonable explanations for killing people, so she was right to be worried. Lily told me to follow her into the meeting, I guess as moral support, or in case Sero got ugly, so I did. A couple of the gypsies questioned my presence, but I just said "Lily wanted me here" making it plain that I was only leaving if she asked me too, and they backed down. I guess sometimes a rep is useful. Either that or Lily's rep amongst the gypsies is as good. It seemed like this fella was takin' it well, but Lily though it was a bit too easy.

Lord Kain left to make his way to his airship again, this time turning down an escort. Idiot.

A group of us decided to go on an expedition to the lighthouse in the dark for fun. Lily, Esther, Zek, and some others played on the ropes a bit.

Finally the usual suspects Jasper, Esther, Lily, and meself flopped out the back of the Taverna with our whiskey, joined this time by a young lad who'd come in with the mercenaries, Luka. Turns out not only was he a gear, but he could sing and play the uke pretty good too.

Saturday ( Before Lunch )

Got up, went and had a shower. On the way back from the shower I found a dead body carefully positioned by the path with violets on it's eyes. It weren't there afore I'd gone for a shower. Not someone I knew, one of the new people. Assumed that it was the Violet killer we had been told about. Got a medic to look at the body to see if they could tell anything, throat had been cut. but not much else useful. Leo dealt with the body.

After breakfast I got some mail from Aura. It was a bit of a surprise, and had stuff in it I can't really tell y'all about. But the letter was addressed to Lily as well, so I went looking for her. She weren't in her bed, or anywhere round the camp, and no-one had seen her that morning.

I saw her go to bed meself sometime after midnight, and stayed up for some time after that with Luka, and then fell asleep in the back of the Taverna. I got up relatively early as I normally do, and she weren't there then, so she must have left sometime before dawn.

This was worrying, but I had no idea where to start searching, and everyone was preparing for the wedding anyway, so didn't seem all that interested in helping me look. I was thinking about going and looking myself, but one thing I've learned when hunting people is that if you go out into the wilds searching and you ain't got a specific location you're pretty much wasting your time. Even if the person you;re looking for wants to be found, you'd have to have the Devil's own luck to actually find someone. I've always found it better to hang round places where the sort of people who might be involved are. Someone will let something drop, some hired thug will open his mouth accidentally (or because you're standing on his throat). So I let things simmer, even though part of my head was imagining what could be happening to Lily while I was sitting there.

Zek wanted me to go with him and a couple of others to pick up some parish document from a ruined church, something we'd put off the night before as it seemed safer to do it in the daylight. We got there no worries and found the documents. When we got back it was time to dress for the wedding, so I did.

The wedding was, well, a wedding. You know what they're like, you stand around, the preacher says stuff, and all the women cry. Leaf stood in for the preacher, and Moss & Leo did look happy. I acted as an honour guard with Slav, not that I had any idea what I was doing, not being military, I just copied Slav.

Sero actually turned up to the wedding like he said he would. This meant either he had nothing to do with Lily disappearing or he had chutzpah up the wazoo. While watching the wedding I noticed that a guy in a red, white & blue cravat entered the hall after the married couple did.

With the wedding over, someone called me outside because they'd found a body on the balcony. Seems people round here are starting to treat me like a Sherif or something. It was another of the Violet killer's victims, this time with an extra severed hand placed betwen the hands of the corpse. (Never did find out whose hand that was)

We didn't want to disturb Leo, as he was having wedding photos with Moss and the guy who dressed like a Japanese, so we got the body into the infirmary and got someone other than Moss to look at it, determined the throat had been slit again, but very little else. Then took the body out for burning.

I had my suspicions about cravat man being the killer, seeing as he'd come in after everyone else, and where the body was placed, and passed them onto one or two people so we could try and keep an eye on him.

Esther received a letter from Lily via one of the bandits who didn't like the way a job was going. Seems the bandits had been hired by Sero who had actually kidnapped Lily, and was steadily getting crazier. The bandits had helped because they thought they were going to get some ransom, but it was starting to look increasingly unlikely that Sero would actually ransom her.

So we finally formed a posse to go get Lily. Ivy, Jasper, Violet, X, X, and the cravat man came along. I made sure Jasper and Ivy knew about my suspicions over cravat man, but we thought having him along meant we could keep a better eye on him. Damn shame I didn't let Violet in on my suspicions as well, given what happened later.

We got to the bandit camp and it became plain that Sero was losing it. He only had two bandits still with him, and even they were getting antsy, it was pretty obvious he weren't going to get away from us. Ivy started talking to him, tellin' him that actually she had killed his brother, and she was going to kill him as well. Jasper went round the edge. One of the bandits was being convinced to stand down. I think Sero knew he was a goner, so he started taunting me, and I could see that Lily had been hurt and was still in her night clothes. I started to feel the demon come into me, and started toward him...

I tried to fight him properly, but I was losing it, and he was actually a relatively good fighter. In the end Ivy tripped him, I trapped his blade with my foot and fell on his chest as the demon took over. Then there was just a red haze, blood, flesh, growling, and Sero screaming. Then Lily's voice chanting the Lord's Prayer...

Next thing I fully remember is Lily comforting me. I was crying. I'd let out the demon agin in front of her, and in front of Ivy and others. Lily was sanguine though, she said he deserved it. I couldn't disagree, but I wondered what would come of this. How could the others accept amongst them a guy who could rip a heart out like that? Surprisingly, no-one really approached me about it. Still things were busy I suppose and I'm not exactly the friendliest guy in the world.

Saturday ( After Lunch )

In keeping with the way shit keeps happening around people who get married, Moss disappeared while she was supposed to be resting after lunch. Leo, of course took it bad and basically abdicated command spending the time searchin' for her. Not that I blame him, he don't have my expereince at waiting these things out, and it was his wedding day after all, hadn't even got to the night part yet!

At around this time, a guy called Prometheus turned up. Turns out it was he had attached my hand and fixed me up after I lay dying in that saloon. He corrected my belief that the hand was a demon hand, he claimed it was regrown using parts of himself, and that he himself was a homunculus. he told me that homunculi use the same sort of aetheric energy as demons do. I have to say that I am not a scientician so did not understand much of what he said, so I hope some of them what knows this stuff got a better chance to talk to him.

But he did tell me several useful things that I can understand. Firstly he told me about the sword. It seems demons make weapons from their own kind, so hitting them with that sword is like I was beating up humans with someone's ripped-off arm, except more effective cos it's sharp. Also the blade has a consciousness in it. Prometheus tried to suppress the consciousness, but failed because it was too strong, and enlisted 74, as another homunculus with the same sort of energy, to assist. Unfortunately this hurt her, and caused internal bleeding. Damn. Poor Bess, I'm still hurting her.

Shortly after this we began experiencing attacks from zombies, though it turned out that they weren't the usual dead people, they were homunculi. Someone determined that they were some of the 150 military recruits that had gone missing, which gave us a sort of upper limit on their numbers, but didn't help all that much in defeating them.

Several waves came thru, but we survived them reasonably OK, even though half our people were off practicing dancing through some of them.

At some point during the afternoon, an East India Company employee brought me some useful info about an opportunity to make a little profit on the side, so I looked up Lily & let her know about it. It felt good to be planning another caper together.

In the late afternoon, between homunculi attacks, Lord Khaine came into camp bearing Moss in his arms. He took her straight to the infirmary, and we scrambled to get someone to go find Leo. I spoke to Lord Khaine afterwards, and he was full of praise for Moss' bravery in helping them escape the capture of those who had detained them. I'm afraid I'm a little unsure who it was that had them captive, cultists if I'm rememberin' right, but it turns out Khaine had been captured since the previous night when he had yet again failed to find his airship. But he certainly seemed the complete English gentleman down-playing his part in the fight, and calling his own wounds scratches.

Saturday ( Night - The Ball )

So we went to the ball. There were piles of swords and other weapons hidden under the seats, the cushions, and the stage, that we'd snuck in previously while setting up, seeing as we weren't supposed to be carrying real weapons. Leaf made Gypsy Mules for the attendees. The Queen & Lord Khain arrived. Khain had brought Charmin of the Forest People on his arm, whom the doorman introduced as Lady Smythe. I spoke to him about it and it turned out that the amusing leader of the Forest People, Jonathan Smythe is actually the Earl of Rochester!

Lily dragged me into a dance and other than a bit of a muck up at the start, it didn't go too badly. At one point Lily convinced Amadeus to go and bow to the Queen with her, embarrassing her.

Then, suddenly, for no apparent reason, Jasper attacked the Queen, wounding her before running from the hall. People pursued Jasper as the Queen's guards surrounded her and healers dealt with the wound. I let the gypsies who hadn't seen what happened know, as there was the possibility people would blame the gypsies as a whole for the attack on the Queen. I'm guessing that at some point the decision was made to evacuate the Queen and the other toffs by Zeppelin as I know a team escorted them down there.

We were planning to close up the ball hall & return to the Taverna but then the Taverna filled again with gas so we all returned to the ball hall, only to be assaulted by homunculi similar to the ones that had attacked in the afternoon.

There were many waves of them and things got quite desperate for a while, but my blade had begun to sing to me and I danced with it, a ferocious smile on my face. I could see by the gleam in her eyes that Lily was catching part of that feelin' and we grinned at each other, knowing without saying that this was the edge we lived for. The surprising thing was that Amadeus joined us in the dance. He had not used sword and shield before, but he'd found a set from somewhere and he was a natural, looking like Achilles or some other hero from the Greek tales, and the three of us exulted in the battle together.

Finally as things reached their most desperate, with everyone being wounded unto death and the medics and doctors having run out of bandages and supplies, a lull.

Professor Milton said he needed some of his equipment from the laboratory to create new curatives as we were fast running out, so me, Milton, Lily, and X set out for the laboratory on the other side of the camp. We'd been traveling for a short while when we realized Lily's coin scarf really wasn't helping us be stealthy. Milton & I continued on alone to the laboratory and got his gear. I then decided to loop back the long way round to the back of the hall to hopefully avoid any potential zombie encounters.

74 was worried that she'd run out of the opium she needed to keep operating efficiently and asked if she could get some off of Leaf. Leaf, after being promised payment, said sure, but it was back in the infirmary. I was still buzzing on the blade high, so I volunteered to go and get it, but I didn't know what it looked like, so Flint said he'd come with me. When 74 found out what we were doing, she protested, saying that we shouldn't risk our lives, preparing to go with us. I laughed and made some flippant comment to hide the fact that I felt I owed her, or Bess, something.

As Flint & I reached the Taverna we detected traces of gas and put on our masks. First we found the mercenary valkyrie Eir, who warned us that Zek had succumbed to the gas in the infirmary. He was waving his sword around in panic, I tried to calm him, but we were in a hurry, so I trapped his blade and grabbed his hand. Talking to him continuously I led him out of the infirmary and back to the ball venue, relying on Flint to grab the opium, and ensure Eir followed us. I have no idea what them two were doing in the infirmary, but we made it back to the hall with both opium and people.

As people were healed, and we repaired the barricades they sang songs to keep up their spirits, and I pitched in with "Jerusalem" a hymn the preacher-man that brought me up had forced me to learn as a child. Seemed appropriate for some reason.

After the lull, there were more waves of zombies, but this time with proper barricades, we fought then off relatively easily.

Saturday (Night - Late)

Once the Taverna was re-occupied and made safe (for the moment) it was time for the "special operation" that Ivy had organized earlier.

A picked team of stealthy fighters, Ivy, Jasper, Samira, and myself, (anyone else ?) snuck out of camp individually so as not to alert any potential cultist spies and made our way to the cult meeting we had intelligence about. It went well to begin with, Ivy and I taking out the first two guards on the path without raising an alarm. Unfortunately the third guard spotted us and was able to get off a warning before we killed him.

The team rushed the ritual circle, but it was too late, the remaining cultists managed to perform some sort of magic that made them invisible to us, and they got away. Just as we thought it was a total bust, we heard two people coming up the path toward the ritual circle. We apprehended them and it turned out to be Esther and Elise. Esther realizing that the game was up didn't deny her cult membership and started insulting us and telling us how we were all fools to believe we could win against the demons. Elise professed no knowledge of where Esther was taking her, and stuck to this story.

The revelation of Esther's treachery struck Jasper & myself particularly hard, as we had spent many nights drinking & partying together in the back of the taverna, and I'm sure many remember the "marriage" between Esther & Jasper, but where as the two of us still couldn't believe it, it was Ivy who gave the traitor the treatment she deserved.

We got back to the taverna and Ivy took Esther into the infirmary where she was joined by Father Wilde. The two proceeded to interrogate her, while the rest of us kept an eye on Elise. I have to admit that seeing Esther afterwards, and knowing as I did that she was pregnant, presumably with Artemis' child, was hard even for me. It was made harder when Ivy summoned me to guard Esther in the makeshift cell in the administration building while they interrogated Elise.

Unfortunately, Amadeus, whom it turns out, had a childhood crush on Esther insisted on visiting Esther in her cell. She proceeded to laugh and flirt at him, all the while keeping up her insults and blasphemies. At one point she tried to escape, perhaps she though I wouldn't hurt her or Amadeus would step in to help rescue her, but though she kicked me a couple of times I managed to restrain her without having to hit her. Finally when Amadeus started asking serious questions about the cult worship, as if he was interested in it, I'd had enough and told him to leave. Even so, it was still hard to act as Esther's jailer and to listen to the words that kept spewing from her mouth, and I was afraid I would lose my temper and do what she was obviously goading me to do. Luckily Ivy came back and relieved me, putting Jasper on guard. I dread to think how he handled it, and he did look very fragile at times.

Had a chat with Cailin, trying to convince her not wander off into the night. Moss helped my mood by reminding me what a peppermint cat was. Try one if you ever get the chance!

Finally everyone retired to the back of the taverna again, and Moss got drunk. Not entirely sure how much of a wedding night them two got, given the drinking and the length and events of the day.

Sunday (Morning)

Seems Cailin had gone missing over night. Another one gone. But she had told me she was thinking of leaving anyway, so I sorta assumed she had, seeing as I hadn't felt I'd been too convincing in trying to get her to stay.

Lily and I started to plan our caper, and Lily decided to recruit Luka as our lookout. I though this was a good idea, and Luka readily agreed.

Amadeus asked me if I would provide him some "support" during a meeting with Dashwood at the Zeppelin tower, as he expected some trouble, and I agreed to assist him as he'd been such a fun fight companion the previous evening. I also felt sorry for him after the way Esther had treated him.

Unfortunately before we could deal with thatm the camp was attacked by super homunculi. Armoured, with big weapons, and very strong. They obviousy wanted something from the infirmary. They had it and were moving out before we had even started fighting them properly.

More of them came and we were being outclassed. Ivy went down and was picked up by a homunculi and taken into the copse.

I followed up to the copse Ivy had disappeared into. Someone was fighting the remaining armoured homunculus and doing reasonably well against them, so I concentrated on the captives. 74 was out of it, as was Samira. I could only carry one of them at a time. As it was, I chose Samira because she was closest to the fighting, and carried her back to the infirmary. By the time I came back for 74, she was already rescued and the fight was over.

Leo immediately formed a posse to go look for Ivy, but he only left Slav and myself as fighters to defend the taverna, and we saw another wave of homunculi coming in. We barricaded the doors, but they were ripped off. Slav defended one door and I the other, but Slav's door was wider and I imagine two managed to swing at him, taking him down, then those two were behind me and I was disarmed, down, and unconscious within seconds.

I came to chained to a chair in an abattoir. Blood covered the walls and pieces of human flesh and bone lay strewn around. The good thing was that chained to a chair next to me was Ivy. She was awake and annoyed. Even better, although my hands were chained, my guns were still in their holsters.

A mad doctor was explaining to her that he was making better soldiers for the army. He ranted for a while, telling us how he was going to turn us into homunculi, and unfortunately before he left he ordered his zombies to remove my guns. Damn.

Ivy and I struggled with the chains for a bit, and then Gadget whispered to us that they hadn't removed all her tools. There followed a bit of jiggling about of the chairs as I got the tools from Gadget and then awkwardly passed them over to Ivy. I kept the door wedged with my feet in case any of the enemy returned while we were working, but Ivy managed to get herself free, and then she released me.

We peeked outside. The place was surrounded with homunculi. Quietly, Ivy retrieved her lock-picks, and went to work on everyone else's chains. Here was Cailin! She'd been kidnapped by super homunculi from her bunk room earlier in the morning. Here also was Charmin, and another forest person, who was badly wounded. seems they hadn't made it back to the forest the previous night. Slav & Gadget were the others captured. Once released, we quickly armed ourselves with whatever was available, such as meat cleavers, scalpels, human skulls & femur bones. We were going to assault whoever first came to the door, hopefully the doctor, and make a run for it.

Unfortunately I had been disarmed and the homunculi must have left my sword back at the camp, because I was beginning to lose it. Ivy could tell, she'd seen me lose it just yesterday, and she was trying to calm me. I whispered to her, if it looked like I was going to lose it totally, she should point me at the doctor & run, hopefully I could be a diversion at least.

Then we heard people coming toward the door, the door was opened, and someone came in, and I jumped them with a skull, but it was Elise, the potential cultist from the previous night. She was understandably worried at being attacked in such away, and we'd lost our surprise, but the mad Doctor just said something about "They're getting frisky in there!" and locked the door again. She was, it seems, just another captive to the Doc

Ivy began working on the door from the inside with her tools. I was having trouble keeping it together and began hitting my head against the cinder block wall for clarity, but I think it worried the others.

Ivy was just about finished when we saw some of our people creeping past outside, and shortly thereafter heard the sounds of battle. Finally Ivy made it thru the door, and cleverly she stood aside to let me thru. I saw the crazy doctor not too far away and rushed toward him trying to get a grip on him for a kill. This, I believe, resulted in most of the zombies nearby focusing themselves on stopping me, hopefully letting the others get clear more easily. not that I was really thinking about tactics much at the time.

Unsurprisingly, being effectively unarmed and facing massive odds, it wasn't long before I fell from my wounds as the homunculi protected their master. Luckily they were kept busy by the attacks of Leo's group, meaning that none of them had time to finish me off, so before too long I was being awoken by Lily, who had snuck round the back with Flint, and brought my sword, along with healing poultices and smelling salts.

I jumped back into a whirling melee that continued for a while until it seemed a super-homunculus was holding us off almost all by himself, presumably whilst his master made his retreat. I believe that it was during this battle that Flint received the wounds that would eventually result in his death, and that Leo received the wounds that laid him out for many days, that Cailin & Eir had to perform surgery for.

But I was still in battle at this stage and while I tried to fight smart, trying to trap the homunculus' weapon with my blade so that others could hit it, we were not doing well and people were falling. Ivy was down and still being attacked. "No!", I was thinking, "Not when we were almost free & clear, no more!" The blood rage built again and I found myself dropping my sword and moving inside the homunculus' weapon range, leaping on it and burying my hand deep in it's chest. Still the homunculus proved too strong for me, flinging me off and across the clearing into the lab's wall. But it's heart was still in my fist, and while it kept fighting, it was plainly now running down, and it was the only enemy remaining standing, so slowly but surely it was hacked apart. I almost felt sorry for it. Until I looked at the carnage it had caused.



We prepared to make our way back to the camp. At this stage, still in armour and full of adrenalin, Leo was still walking and taking command. I suggested we should destroy the lab to prevent the mad doctor from using it again, so after quickly checking the premises for useful stuff, we set light to some of the flammable liquids and stood clear as the place turned into an inferno.

On the way back from the super-zombie fight, I found myself licking blood from my blade. It was soothing and tasty, but I fear it unnerved Zek a bit.

John, Earl of Rochester appeared, and thanked us profusely for saving his sister Charmin from the Doctor, returning some of our goods that he said they'd "found in the forest". Luckily my guns were amongst them, so I was happy.

Sunday ( Afternoon )

Lily, Luka and I were just about ready for our planned profitable excursion, when Amadeus signaled it was time for his meeting that he wanted coverage for. Lily & Luka tagged along, though I wasn't expecting them to need to get involved. The meeting with Dashwwod went on & on, and while I was watching I realized that somehow Zek had joined Lily as a watcher as well.

Just as I thought Dashwood & Amadeus were closing down the meeting, a guy in aviator goggles whom I'd never seen before turned up. This was apparently the trouble Amadeus had expected, but before I could react the guy put both of them down with some sort of magic power! He just sort of held out his hand and they collapsed!

I moved in, firing slowly and steadily at the new guy as i walked in, but them it became obvious he had troops in support, I was outnumbered, and they hit me with sleep gas, which I hadn't been expecting, and starting with hands full of guns couldn't get my mask on in time.

I was awoken by Lily, with Zek, and we determined that the raiders had taken both Dashwood & Amadeus. Shortly thereafter the mercenaries, Thor, Loki & Eir arrived, as Luka had gone off for help when it had become apparent there was a number of enemies. We followed up the raiders as quickly as we could, finding Dashwood lying on the trail as we ran, and then got split up from the mercenaries when Lily thought she had heard people in a different direction. When we were moving down the trail again we started hearing the sounds of combat, and it became apparent that the mercenaries had caught up with the raiders. By the time we got there, Amadeus had been freed and the mercenaries were in pursuit of the remaining raiders. I'm still unsure what happened there overall. Probably should talk to Amadeus about it if I get the chance. I might have followed it up at the time but I quickly had other things to worry about!

It was about this time that Lily told me Flint was dead. I don't know how she knew. One of those gypsy things I guess. I get back with Lily, Zek, & Luka, from rescuing Amadeus, to find Mr. Black waiting with other members of the East India Company.

Mr. Black finishes his conversation and turns to me, says something about tying up loose ends, and proceeds to shoot me at point blank range in the head...

I awake suddenly in the back room of the gypsy Taverna with Lily, Luka, & Zek, still trying to dodge a bullet. They hold me down as I thrash about in panic for a bit. They wonder why I'm still alive. Zek finally removes my hat revealing there is no hole in my forehead just a massive purplin' bruise. Zek then pries the small calibre pistol slug out of my hat revealing the armour plating inside it. Luckily Black only used a small pistol.

Lily proceeds to punch me for almost dying on her again.

Shortly afterward she got us whiskey, to drink to Flint, and we went to pay our respects in the infirmary. While we were there, the decision was made to perform the funeral. I helped carry the stretcher containing Flint's body out to the field for cremation. I felt honoured that no gypsy disputed or even questioned my taking a corner of the stretcher.

The ceremony was moving. I have been at many funerals over the years, but the natural grief of the gypsy women, Ivy, Moss, & Lily as they cried to the light rain seemed more honest than the black-veiled sobs I have seen before. I drank to Flint's spirit as honestly as the next, after all, he took his fatal wounds while rescuing Ivy, Cailin, Gadget, Charmin, Slav, and I from the mad doctor, but I did not know him as the others did, so did not speak to his record.

It would be nice to be remembered in such a way when I go.

Lily and I slumped together next to the outside wall of the Taverna, with others around us and discussed how things were falling apart. Ivy had to leave on an extraction mission for the Queen in China, the military were withdrawing from the island and techanically Slav & Leo would have to go with them, even though Leo was too injured to move. I spoke with Jasper telling him I would fight anyone who tried to move Leo, and Jasper said that General Cannon had said he could be left so that was not a problem.

We watched as columns of soldiers marched theough the camp to the dock. In one column, a soldier was being dragged by his comrades whilst complaining he did not want to go and die. The soldier broke free of his comrades, and his lieutenant shot him in the head as he ran.

There was a commotion inside, and raised voices in the direction of the infirmary. I feared General Cannon had insisted on Leo being moved after all, so I rushed to the infirmary to find the obnoxious Russian officer facing off with Jasper, a soldier with a firearm beside him. I place my blade at the soldier's neck and suggested that he should not do anything rash, and others in the taverna rallied around us.

The Russian bastard, realizing he was very close to being cut down by a mob, which included Sgt Slav, took a moment to warn Slav of the consequences of his decision to side with us, and then withdrew. It turned out there was no threat to Leo just the Russian dick mouthing off at Jasper who was too raw from the funeral and other events to take it calmly.

Lily went and got her tarot, and given the determined look on her face, I worried she was going to do something she'd later regret. But she just read the cards for Flint, the short way, and dealt, X of Staves, Death, X of Cups. She grinned, and I asked her to tell me what it meant. When she told me, I burst into a laughter cut with tears as the clarity of the reading hit me.

That was pretty much the last memorable thing that happened that Sunday. At least that I can talk about openly anyways. Let's hope we don't have another weekend like that one for a while at least.

I think I gotta do something about the situation with Aura though. I wonder if Lily feels like breaking into the Society's castle in Edinburgh with me... This entry was originally posted at http://mundens.dreamwidth.org/469427.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

The Scott Card Superman Boycott

Like many things, this started as a comment on someone else's post, but got far too long for that. So, this is my view on the boycott of Scott Card's work on Superman being conducted by some comic shops and, presumably, comic purchasers.

Firstly I should point out that I don't buy Superman, the concept doesn't interest me that much. Scott Card writing it isn't likely to make me change my mind, so I can't really boycott the work, as I had no intention of buying it in the first place. Alan Moore, perhaps, but then he's already done the Miracle-Man arc, which is his exploration of what a real Superman would be.

I think it's perfectly valid for people to complain about an artist's views and to boycott that artist's work if they don't like those views, but personally I prefer to accept the art as it is, and not be bothered by the creator's personal views, unless those views actually do make their work bad. While a work can be, and almost always is, coloured by an artist's views to some extent, much of the time, especially when those views are not relevant to the thrust of the work, those views do not come across in the work in any significant way.

I think Scott's being a Mormon and vehemently disliking gays are both abhorrent practices, but that doesn't mean I'll automatically dismiss his art. I feel "Enders Game", and the series derived from it, is a classic of the genre and that won't change regardless of Scott's views on any subject. Scott has also written and edited probably the best self-help guides for aspiring SF authors out there. But his "Alvin Maker" series too closely parallels certain Books of Mormon, and suffers greatly for it.

Frank Miller is a homophobic, sexist, ableist, anti-Islamic, right wing bigot, but his art and writing in "Daredevil", "Ronin" & "The Dark Knight Returns" (the original comic) are superb. "300" however, is a complete load of crap because he let his views get too close to the surface of his work. On the other hand, "300" was one of Miller's more financially successful franchises, and I suspect people may be fooling themselves if they think DC are going to be negatively impacted in any significant way by being associated with Scott.

Tom Cruise and John Travolta are religious fruitcakes who also make stupid pronouncements in public, among other things. I happen to think that Travolta's performances in things like "Pulp Fiction" & "Swordfish" are great, and Cruise's performance's in "Rain Man" and "Born on the Fourth of July" are even more impressive.

Wagner wrote some great music, even though he was basically a Nazi.

To me, it's nice when an artist, in whatever field, happens to have social or political views that are similar to my own, but it's not necessary for me to enjoy their work, and I prefer to examine the work, not the artist, when making an aesthetic judgement on the work's quality.

If I did not do that, I would have to dismiss Shakespeare as being anti-semitic, sexist, classist, and numerous other things that are unacceptable today.

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Dreamwatch : Seabirds

Climbing high on a windy mountain overlooking the sea to get a better view of the massive tidal & storm surges in the ocean below, I watched sea birds glide down to the sea, becoming first dots, and then invisible against the steel grey mountains of water. One of them grew bigger instead, growing past the size of a seabird, until I was aware that it was a human in a feathered flight suit. He hovered almost stationary in front of me, balancing in mid-air between the updraft of the cliffs and the wind rushing over the top of the mountain.

"Come on" he said, "There'll never be a better time than this!" I signed assent, and he folded his arm wings, plummeting feet first like a missile toward the heaving seas below. I watched him accelerate to terminal, and shortly before he became too small to see, I saw the orange glow of lift fields extending, transferring much of his vertical velocity to horizontal, and he finally disappeared from my normal vision as he speared down towards a wave that seemed as large as Kapiti Island, but it was not all that different in a sea of waves of similar or larger size.

My ocular enhancers and HUD activated at a thought, and my sight of Kurt (yes, suddenly I remembered his name was Kurt) became clear again. Small coloured dots appeared in my field of vision, indicating other fliers, with ID info. Some rich fuckers had paid for custom icons to appear on my HUD. Around the edges of my vision the dots were replaced by arrows pointing to items outside my site. The sea itself had a number of dots, some green & tiny moving in shoals, others in red, moving fast around the shoals. I focused and zoomed on one with a rising altitude indication just in time to see it break surface in pursuit of prey. It looked like something from Earth's past, a sea-going dinosaur fish with armoured plates and multiple rows of needle teeth.

Cutting the HUD, I made some last minute adjustments to my own suit and moved to the edge of the cliff, balancing myself against the updraft. To be honest, I was scared. Sure we had the flight suits. But the scale of this sea coast, the size of the waves, the consequences of any failure of equipment or skill... then I laughed at myself. Of course, that was the point wasn't it? The fantastic feeling of fear, the rush of the risk... I leaned over the edge supported only by the updraft and savoured the terror.

I folded my arm-wings, and no longer supported by the updraft I toppled forward over those gigantic waves, the air rushing and buffeting me faster as I fell...

Then the alarm went off.

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Keep New Zealand Software Patent Free!

The Problem

In 2010, a Select Committee unanimously recommended that software be excluded from patentability. Clause 10A(1) of the Patents Bill will achieve this.

Unfortunately, the Government has decided to add clause 10A(2) at the last minute. While intended to preserve the availability of patents for inventions containing embedded software, this clause actually undermines the intended exclusion of software patents.

The Remedy

In order to preserve the exclusion of software patents, but still preserve patents for inventions containing embedded software, we request the following replacement for clause 10A(2) of the Patents Bill:

10A(2):  Subsection (1) does not prevent an invention that makes use of an embedded computer program from being patentable.

This change fulfils these crucial requirements:

  1. it preserves the Select Committee's unanimous recommendation that software be excluded from patentability.
  2. it ensures that patents are still available for inventions containing embedded software, such as Fisher & Paykel washing machines.
  3. it avoids the controversial, counter-productive and unwanted "as such" proviso in the current clause 10A(2).

Take Action

If you agree with the proposed remedy, and you are a New Zealander-based software developer or a supporter, please add your signature to the list using the form below.

http://no.softwarepatents.org.nz/ This entry was originally posted at http://mundens.dreamwidth.org/468602.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Hitting & molesting Hatsune Miku

OK, I didn't expect this to be on the agenda quite yet, but what's your opinion on the hitting and molesting of bots in VR?

Watch this. You can skip to 0.47s for a start, the hitting is at about 2.05s, and the molesting is at 3.00s

I have nothing against consensual violence between partners, in fact I enjoy it. I go into many violent games and have no problems blowing away male or female or other opponents, or beating the crap out of them, and seeing the blood spatter in slow motion.

But this... this disturbs me.

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First Kiss on Neptune

Recently posted this on FaceBook, decided I should post here as well, as this is more reliable.

Unlike many on my friends list, I actually remember the events depicted in this movie. I was eight. When moon landing was broadcast, the entire Bamber Bridge Primary school were gathered in the school hall to watch it on the school's single
television that was a huge black & white monstrosity.

I felt lucky to be at a school that had a television. Our family didn't own one, my mother had to make do with the radio broadcast where she worked as a receptionist for an optician. My father was one of a huge crowd who skipped work and gathered round the television display in the window of Preston's fanciest department store.

After watching it, my best friend at the time, J.J. ( I know longer know what the initials stood for, if I ever did.) said "I'm gonna do that when I grow up." Robert said "But you're a girl!" J.J. said "So?" in that sort of voice that dared anyone else to come up with similar irrelevancies. No-one did. I smiled at J.J and said "Me too."

Over the next few weeks J.J., Robert, & I explored the school yard and various woods and demolition sites on the long walk home as astronauts. We bounced over terrain trying to emulate that well-known, slow-motion. 0.6G dance we'd all seen on various broadcasts, talking to each other in clipped, scratchy voices with added squawks, clicks, and beeps.

Between us we pushed human exploration as far as Neptune as we searched the few books in the library for new worlds to explore. For our game they had to be real worlds though, not the ones in stories.

I especially remember Neptune because it was cold & dark, and even in the heated space suits and with the torches. J.J. admitted it was cold and suggested that we cuddle to keep warm. I agreed, even though that meant I'd have to (ewww!) touch a girl. I was willing to make that sacrifice for the good of the expedition. Robert thought it was silly, and said his suit had super-heaters and he didn't need to cuddle.

As the sun set and "Neptune" started getting really cold, we waited for the call from Mission Control that would mean we'd have to make our way back to our individual space capsules where our mothers were making our dinners (how could brave astronauts survive for months-long journeys without bringing their mothers to cook for them?), J.J. said "How do astronauts kiss with these helmets on?"

Just like a girl I thought, bringing silly love stuff into an otherwise exciting adventure. But I didn't vocalize that thought, because a) she'd probably hit me, and b) well, astronauts on a mission didn't argue, they just solved problems together.

"They'd bring their helmets together and pretend to kiss, but they'd do it without talking about it, so Mission Control didn't know what they were doing." I said. J.J. thought a moment. "You're right" she said "Mission Control would giggle if astronauts kissed."

"Hey look, there's an interesting rock!" she said, pointing to behind an allotment shed, and she bounced slowly over to it, with me following behind. As we reached it, J.J. held a finger several centimeters in front of her lips, miming the "be quiet" sign over an astronaut's helmet. Then she stuck her lips out in an over-emphasized kiss, and motioned me toward her.

I probably would have told her not to be silly, except, well, we were just pretending and we had pretended before to be James Bond and his extremely capable female fellow agent. Then I'd had to point out that even though James Bond did it, it wasn't very professional to kiss during a mission. This wasn't as bad as that, as we were separated by our space helmets. I moved and crouched a bit so my face lined up with hers, and we moved our faces together until our helmets touched.

J.J. still had her kiss going, and closed her eyes, so I did the same. We were like that for what seemed like some time, eyes closed with mouths in kiss formation, until I suddenly felt her nose and lips touch mine. I was startled and jumped back flustered.

"You broke our helmets!" I yelled. She just grinned & looked satisfied before miming asphyxiation. Luckily Robert had heard my yell over the radios, and rescued us with mimed "emergency breathing masks". I could tell he was suspicious about the "rock fall" that had broken our helmets though.

So that was how this astronaut had his first kiss on Neptune.

I wonder if J.J. ever made it?

(Note: not everything above actually happened as written, I just felt inspired to write it out as a story in homage of Neil Armstrong and my remembrance of the childhood his Apollo XI mission influenced. Though most of it did happen sort of like that. :) )

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