hiking - topo map

Thou shalt not TWIBU in vain

Some of you might have seen the "Don't ask about the orange paint" tag on my IM status earlier this week. Some of you might have even asked me about it ...

So did I mention I went hiking last weekend? I was trying to do a last-gasp mountain ascent in defiance of upcoming autumn. The weather had turned beautiful again after a spate of early rain, and I was getting antsy about the turn of the seasons.

I drove out to the Sierra crest, parked at sundown in a completely empty campground (this would be a major theme for the trip), and night-hiked up English Mountain -- from bottom to top, a 4-hour, 2000' ascent. The hike was lovely: I saw some shooting stars along the way; I got less lost than expected considering I was routefinding by flashlight and memory; and even the moonlight rock climbing at the peak was pretty mild.

Once at the top and settled in to my mountaintop campsite, I texted roaminrob: "The worst is behind me!" That's our English Mountain in-joke, dating back to our first trip, when I tried to cheer him up by uttering "The Worst Is Behind Us!" ... right before we rounded the corner to Dead Man's Hill.

Invoking TWIBU is a sure-fire way to guarantee impending unpleasantness. But oh! Folly! Vanity! I figure: I'm safe from the curse! I'm already DONE climbing!

So, naturally ... Collapse )

As if that somehow isn't enough: storm clouds blow up an hour or two later, and I have to scramble for shelter in the middle of the night.

I'm sleeping on top of the peak, ducked behind some low rocks for wind shelter. I try to assemble my tent where my sleeping bag is. However, the spot is broadside to the wind -- the top of the tent catches the full force of it and tries to fly us away. I can't rotate the tent, or put it anywhere else, because the ground is way too jagged -- and I can't safely set it up in my chosen sleep spot.

But there's no way I'm ignoring the clouds. I've got enough clothing for comfort, but not to outlast an unexpected October rainstorm, and if my down bag gets soaked I'm in genuine trouble.

So I jury-rig the tent. Instead of setting it up full height, I thread the arch pole through but don't set it on either end. Then I prop it up on my backpack frame. Now I have a two-foot-tall covered crawlspace -- just enough to snug into, and not tall enough to catch the wind.

What I didn't count on was that this kept the tent fabric from being pulled taut.

So, all night, the little wind I'm getting is catching the fabric and


... as I'm huddled around my backpack in a little circle, on painfully rocky ground, and under questionably adequate shelter.
I pin down the edges of the fabric with rocks as best I can, but there's no stopping the noise. Already weakened and spacy from gut shock, I end up getting approximately an hour's sleep.

It never rains.

The best part? I get up in the morning. Not a single cloud in the sky. There is a big ol' troll sun sitting in the middle of a sea of blue:


The wind has died down (as has my gut). It's as if the nightmare of the past eight hours simply had never happened.

Basically, this was the universe deciding to slap me upside the head for taking the Holy Invocation of TWIBU in vain.

For my own safety, I really need to learn to stop defying fate like that.
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transcendent masculinity

Oh yeah! I have a Livejournal!

And I keep forgetting to update it, too! But I'm overdue for an update on:

[Ponies and Pegasi]

OUR STORY SO FAR: Back in June, a mysterious figure hacked into the server (!!) in order to join the new My Little Pony roleplaying forum -- using the character of Equestrian goddess Princess Luna. We played cat-and-mouse for a little while, but matters finally came to a head.

Fortunately, everyone agreed to play nice, and nobody got scared off, and Luna's been posting ever since.

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In the most recent threads, Gemini dragged Moonglow into a private meeting with Luna after catching Moonglow in the act of stealing a spellbook of potential interest to the princess. But the meeting exploded into a cascade of revelations and expectation-breakers, until Moonglow made an earnest offer to help Luna with her investigations -- an offer the princess could not write off as either suspicious or obligatory. The act of somepony volunteering to help her shocked Luna into a realization that hit hard: Changing into Nightmare Moon upon her return might not have been necessary.

She fled the room and tried to react in private, only to have basically everypony walk in on her at once and realize something was wrong.

And, last night, Luna posted an amazing barnscorcher of a post explaining her reaction, and answering some questions about the nature of Nightmare Moon that dated back to her arrival. My jaw's still on the floor.

* ALSO! *

After way the heck too long, I'm starting the character generation process! (Remember how, once upon a time, the entire point of the forum was to play a 4th Edition D&D game?) The number of D&D players will be limited, because I can't GM for more than 5-6 people and maintain any semblance of pace, but new players for the non-formal RP (i.e., everything you've already read about up there in Fillydelphia) are welcome at any time. Just drop on by, register a character, and leap into the most recent forum thread (or create one of your own)!
transcendent masculinity

That old "interesting times" adage

After a weekend spent working and entertaining family -- punctuated by a server move that I'm almost certain had nothing to do with my mysterious hacker -- I've come back to the Pony4e board with an uncomfortable realization: I can't afford to wait and watch "Princess Luna" any more.

She hasn't done anything else wrong -- unless Inaki and I missed something grave while investigating the recent server outages -- but it's only a matter of time before she realizes I've been watching. And if I don't force matters before then, she might do something regrettable.

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obscure mythologies (photograph)

Tlands update

A quick note FYI -

It looks like Inaki has traced Tlands' recent outages (including the RP board) to an unrelated site on the same server, getting hammered with an unusual level of traffic that's pushing Apache into resource usage past usability.

Tomorrowlands was down a couple of times today because he had to manually take down Apache. But Inaki will be working on the issue this weekend, and shuffling around some hosted sites to improve everyone's accessibility.

This appears to have involved a server move for Tlands. It looks like the move has temporarily broken scripting support, including the forum. :(

I'm helping Kady out with a wedding she's catering tomorrow, and I have family visiting, so I will be unable to immediately address this. If anything is down on Tlands, that's why. I will work on it Saturday night or Sunday.

UPDATE: Should be fixed; see comments.
pacific torus vedic echoes

Seasonal nostalgia

Transcribed from last night's voice notes:

I'm usually not very good about holidays. But today, to celebrate the Solstice, I walked uphill to watch the sunset -- alone with the spirits and birds.

It was an unbearably melancholy way to celebrate the longest day of the year, full of light and life. But it's also fitting. For me, Solstice is a melancholy time. I think this is because I have an uneasy relationship with spring. Spring is a time of life, creation; I like creation, yet I prefer summer's solitude.

As a capstone to spring, Solstice is a beautiful holiday. As the start of summer, it's depressing. As much as I love summer, the longest day of the year is at the start of the season. Everything I like about it starts as great as it's ever going to get, and only slides downhill from there. This gives summer a sense of innate urgency that no other season really has.

It is perhaps not coincidence that, on the Pacific Crest Trail, Solstice marks the metaphorical and literal high point of the trip. In an average year, that's when hikers reach the High Sierra -- the highest point on the trail, the most gorgeous terrain, and the greatest challenges (including Mount Whitney, the tallest mountain in the continental U.S., which is just a short detour away). By the time you finish the High Sierra, you've conquered both extremes -- the desert and the mountains. In a sense, everything after that is merely mileage toward the border.

My hike fell apart not long after Solstice ... which was particularly cruel, because I survived the 700 miles of hot, grueling trail that cause 90% of thru-hiker dropouts. (It was my intention to keep going to the end. Injury and finances put an end to that.) In hindsight, I wonder how much of this Solstice's melancholy is a response to that unfinished goal.

Half an hour after sunset, the dusk is calm and vibrant. I am outside in short sleeves, admiring the sky, listening to the crickets. I think nights are my favorite part of summer. I like nights in general, but I can't connect with them when I am wearing 16 layers of clothing and trying not to focus on how miserable the cold is making me.

A summertime hike under the full moon is about the most awesome hike there is. And lying down and staring at the stars on a warm summer night is the most beautiful connection you will ever make, to anything, ever.
speechlesscat is speechless

Shit has, as they say, gotten meta.

Hey, folks! Life goes on, and after a long week at work (and a scare with my car -- which was resolved by an unexpected act of generosity on my bosses' part), I'm trying to get back into the swing of things. And meanwhile, things have been more eventful than usual out in the land of:

[Ponies and Pegasi]

First of all, due to RL time concerns, bossgoji has withdrawn as player liaison/co-organizer for the D&D portion of the board. I would still like to make the Pony/D&D4e game occur, though; I've already ordered a 4th Edition PHB so I can chew through the rules conversion in my away-from-computer time (which will help a lot). I'll post a new timeline for game start on the board itself.

Assuming that the forum's not destroyed by a vengeful goddess in the meantime.

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geekier than thou

The weather's even improving my dreams

So I dreamed last night I'm fighting a hopeless battle against demons in a giant space station. They corner me in a room by myself and, basically, win; I'm at their mercy. They tell me to learn, and perform for them, this ritual of power that will turn them nigh-invulnerable. I try to refuse and make them kill me in a noble self-sacrifice, but they drag in a dear friend of mine who they're holding hostage, and I give up, begging with them that I'll do what they want if they just let him live ...

And then I realize that the ritual they need involves summoning a phoenix and killing it for its blood. And my heart leaps, and I'm like, "Holy shit ... PHIL!"

You've gotta understand. Phil is an NPC in the (waking-world) epic-tier D&D campaign I'm currently playing in. He's a celestial phoenix. The good gods gave him to us as a gift when we visited Celestia and complained about being forced to clean up after an evil trickster god. (By "clean up after," I mean fixing things like "moving two planets into the same orbit, setting up the impending doom of several billion people".) Phil is also, shall we say, mentally challenged ... but as long as we give him very specific tasks to apply his Massive Godlike Powers to, he can rock crazy cosmic shit with the rest of us.

So I start the ritual -- and then summon Derpy McCelestial in place of the standard, wimpy phoenix. Everyone blinks and double-takes, just long enough for me to point him at the evil. Phil flawlessly wipes the room with the demons, because he's just. super. broken. and the threats I'm facing are nowhere near his scale. Then I have him banish the demons from the entire rest of the station.

About this time I realize the whole thing is a LARP, and the DM is staring in shock at me because I just did a one-man nuke of every villain in the entire campaign at like level 2. I was meant to lose, in a big dramatic plot moment that would make me culpable for the impending catastrophe and justify the immense powers of the bad guys. Everyone else was meant to see all their friends get slaughtered around them, and become the lucky (or cowardly) survivors that managed to band together into a loose, hopeless resistance whose only option was to flee for distant space.

But all the notes for Phil are down on my old character sheet (I guess we were allowed to say we were friends with one NPC from our previous campaign, or something similar). I have all the supporting documentation. It's a clean loophole.

I walk out of the room into the newly demon-free station, from a room littered with bad-guy corpses, and all the other players are staring at me like I'm some sort of roleplaying god.
epitomize ablutions (pic by bis)


It's apparently a good year for tiny changes ...

Just added two downloadable TrueType fonts to the ClaWrite page. (One of which is by ceruleanst - yay!)

This is a small change, but a big deal, because it's the first time I've actually managed to get a Windows-usable version of ClaWrite out to the public in um ... 14 years.

I'm sure this has nothing at all to do with finally getting some sunshine. I mean, it's not like we've had double the snowfall of an average year or anythi...

... okay, maybe it's the sunshine.