Depression and the Creative Professional

In March, 2014, I announced the launch of the Mobile Frame Zero 002: Intercept Orbit (originally, Alpha Bandit) Kickstarter. I had high hopes, as my three previous Kickstarters had gone well, succeeding with between 300% and 900% of my cash goal. Instead, the project wound up testing my limits as a creator and seriously, adversely affecting my mental health.

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Jinxed in Jersey: a LARP about climate change

buildings collapsing

You are 50 miles from your final destination. You left western Massachusetts with a near-full tank of gas. You planned on refueling in southern Connecticut, but every station you’ve passed is empty.

You surge forward into New York state. The opportunity to refuel decreases sharply with each exit you pass. Every few exits, the needle drops lower. You have enough gas to make it to Morristown, but what then? Will normalcy be restored by Sunday, or will the shortages have worsened?

You consider trying an alternate route. If you drive far enough from the highway, you might have some luck. But if that doesn’t work, you’re stuck. Far from home, far from your destination, out of fuel.

Do you turn back now, or continue on?

We turned around when, about 40 miles from the convention, we realized that one tank of gas could get us in, but not out, of Morristown. We had been forewarned about fuel shortages in northern New Jersey, but we had not anticipated the scale of the problem. When electricity was restored, everyone ran to refuel at once. Northern New Jersey ran out of fuel, so Jersey folks set off for southern New York; southern New York ran out of fuel, and New Yorkers set out for Connecticut. And so on and so forth…

This road trip was a sobering experience; a reminder that climate change is not a problem of the future. If you live in one of the areas hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy, then you’ve seen the damage yourself. The storm left more than 8 million homes without power, canceled nearly 20,000 flights, and has caused an estimated $50 billion in damage. This weekend, more than 900,000 homes and businesses in New Jersey were still without electricity.

As power is restored throughout metropolitan areas, impatient drivers are piling into long lines for fuel. On our drive through north Jersey, the only serviceable gas station we passed had at least 50 cars lined up, drivers waiting and glaring.

Across the country, the effect of climate change will vary regionally. Everywhere, there will be a marked increase in extreme weather events. These will taken the form of storms, floods, droughts, heat waves, and a colorful mashup of other unpredictable “acts of God.”

What this means for the future of this country – for the future of this planet – is beyond the scope of this piece. I can’t predict the full impact of climate change, nor do I know how quickly certain changes will take place.

This is what I can say: This weekend, climate change impacted your community. If you did not personally feel the impact, you weren’t looking.

The Difference Between Reasoned Debate and Righteous Smackdown

Here we have Al Franken talking with teabaggers who turn out to be reasonable people who want to discuss something with their Senator that they don’t agree with. Below that, you will see Congressman Barney Frank being very funny and dismissive of an aggressively crazy lady.

Note how appropriately they respond. Franken gives a nuanced response that has the audience wondering if they’ve got the issues wrong and misunderstand his platform. Frank, a gay Jew, replies to a lady saying that universal health care is a Nazi position by telling her she’s ridiculous.

Eyes in the Night, Delivered To Your Doorstep

Beowulf. An epic game by Joshua A.C. Newman

Beowulf is off to press on the morrow! I’m doing a very limited run, Ashcan-style, so if you want to read the poem, consider the exegesis, play the game, and give me feedback, this is your chance!

I’m selling it for $14+$5 S&H, or just regular $14 at Gen Con. Since the run is limited, I’ll be selling the remainder at Gen Con that I haven’t sold via my own site, so if you want to make sure you have a copy, preorder and I’ll shoot it off to you as soon as they get to my doorstep. If you want to wait until Gen Con, you can, but I’ve had a few people interested in preorders already, so you take your chances with the Wyrd.

Even better than picking up a copy at the Playcollective or Ashcan Front booths, order one from me, play with your friends, play with me at Gen Con, and give me feedback that will both be fun to generate and help produce a great final book.

It’s 244 pages long, 5″ x 8″, and I’ve made uglier things in my life.

Order Beowulf (sold out. Please give feedback!)

Emperor and Golem

Franz’ Eyes

Carrie and I got back late last night from Vienna and Prague. We exhausted ourselves but good! I’ll be posting things about it as I edit my recorded thoughts into sentences.

Many of our pictures are shitty. It’s a poor craftsman who blames his tools, but I’m a poor photographer, and part of that argument is that a better craftsman gets the right tools. I’m just about there. In any event, I’ll be posting pics, too.

Recovering My Pants With Some Dignity

Busted Powerbook

As is traditional in this day and age, I spent a fair chunk of my weekend trying to figure out if I’d lost all of my work from the last eight years. Fortunately, my backups were what they appeared to be and my machine’s running better than it has in months.

That said, I’m not sure I’m not missing email and there are several people in my friends list in IM who have lost their proper names leaving me with “raspeng39457” as my only clue to the identity of said “friend”. So my communications might be hazy at first, particularly if you’re someone who, like my sister, has had no less than four IM names in the past two years.

(That computer in the post head, by the way, is running. A wardrobe was dropped on it. No, it’s not my computer. Mine is much, much better.)

On Beards and Bearding

My beard doesn’t look this awesome.

I have a ritual. It goes like this.

At Thanksgiving, I shave one last time for the year so I look nice when the family’s together. That way, I’ve got a beard by the time ice can form on it.

On the first day it’s above freezing all day, I shave into whatever I want. Sometimes, that’s small sideburns, but usually, it’s big, Victorian ones that make me look at home wearing goggles, welding gloves, and overalls.

According to, that day will be Tuesday. And now comes the sad part: I’m going to be wicked fucking busy this week. I’m not even going to have time to go for a bikeride unless I do some self-delusion about the four clients I’m juggling this week. But when these projects are done, I’ll have money to get my bikes awesome. One’s to be a road bike convert and the other one’s a most impressive mountain bike built originally by my friend Daniel. One’s for going out the front of the driveway, the other out the back.

So I’m going to disappear for a couple of days. I’ll be back with work done and bike pics to show after the 19th.


The Beauty of Tools

New knife magnet with my favorite kitchen tools.
Carrie and I just set up a knife magnet in our kitchen. I put all my knives up there and it was just really beautiful. Each of these knives has a little story.
From left to right:
  • A Bunmei tako-hiki, a wedding present.
  • On of my grandfather’s Sabatiers, which he gave to my dad. I’ve got another one that needs work that’s not here.
  • A $10 Chinese cleaver. This one didn’t have a story until I started making dinner tonight. See below.
  • My Mac Superior santoku. This was a housewarming present from my friend Jeff, who’d damaged a knife of mine in college, like 9 years ago. It was really touching. Also, it’s a bitchin’ knife. It’s great for making many teeny tiny slices of garlic or mushrooms.
  • The other of my grandfather’s Sabatiers. Note the nicks in the spine. That’s because my grampa used to whang it through mutton bones with a hammer. They know how to make a knife over at Sabatier.
So, the picture below. I was making cannelini con polpetti (“little octopuses”. We usually make this with squid and call it “squiddybeans” but with octopus, we were calling it “pussybeans”) tonight and I didn’t want to use all of them. So I decided to chop off a hunk to defrost for dinner. See how there are two cuts? The first one, the blade kind of twisted in my hand. I also noticed that it wasn’t where I expected the strike to be. Then I remembered that sensei often tells me that I turn my hips too far. I lined myself up like he’s always telling me to, and…