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Thursday, September 7, 2017

THE GRIM NORTH

CURRENT STATE OF AFFAIRS

Wanted to do a bit of an update.  Otherwise, people might think I'm dead or no longer interested in my blog.

Both are untrue.

Yes, we are all a bit surprised I am still alive.  I average about one near death experience per year.  Or Death averages one 'near-Logan' experience a year - depending on how you look at it.

As to why I haven't been posting much, two reasons.

First, I was visiting friends for a few months as I went through the USA.  I didn't want to intrude on their privacy.

My life is pretty public.  Anyone reading this blog should have a pretty good idea what kind of person I am and how I feel about most things without me being worried about losing a job or some crap like that.  I am able to be honest.  And I don't mind having a spotlight shone upon my life.  I am a fairly 'public persona'.  Not saying many people in the public know me but if they wanted to look they could surely find out about me.

The people I went to visit didn't sign up for that.  They just wanted to hang out with Logan for a bit.  So I didn't report on stuff going on.

Second, I've hit the point where I am not encountering much new stuff.

I am not tritely saying I've "been there and done that" for there is plenty I've not done and many places I've not yet been.  However I would need to go and do some new stuff to get new information.

Just the other day I was discussing my post England plans with Matt and said I'd be going back to Thailand and Cambodia over the holidays because fuck the cold and that I was a bit bored of it.  He said that he wishes he could travel so often to the far east as to become 'bored with it'.

Which struck me as very odd when he said it.  I forget that I am now considered 'decently traveled'.

For those wondering how many countries I've actually been to, I stopped counting both the number of countries I'd visited and my age when I hit fifty.  Why continue counting?  Do I get a cash prize at some certain number of countries?  When I hit ten years of non-stop travel?  When I get to throw a spear at someone?



WHAT AM I DOING NOW?

I got brought to England to run a tabletop roleplaying game for a buddy of mine.  He's taking care of room and board for this.  Nifty.  For the five of you who can't get enough of Logan, you will be able to eventually see the campaigns as they are being recorded and will eventually be released onto Youtube.

So I will be doing that for a total of just under three months (visa runs out then) and then traveling to Thailand/Cambodia (the only countries I seem to enjoy in SE Asia) and hang out there for 3-4 months then fly back.  I already have my return ticket.

The next break from England I may end up going to somewhere in Eastern Europe (I enjoy EE) that I haven't been before.  I'm pondering Croatia.  I need to research it - but it is outside of the EU (as soon England will be BWAHAHAHA) and does have a Roman Colosseum I wouldn't mind seeing.



WHY IS LOGAN HAPPY ABOUT BREXIT?

Well, because the Brits have decided to fuck themselves and it may just make my life a wee bit easier.
The first thing that will come about because of this include Britain no longer being part of the Schengen Area which means that I can visit England then go to a different country within the Schengen area.  I am sure that someone out there who is upset at my joy might counter that it could be hard for me to get into England.  Given how many English retired people are still living abroad (bunches) in the Schengen area, I'm thinking that I will be OK.  Despite racist, nationalistic, xenophobic and nostalgic idiots wanting to cut England off from the rest of 'globalism', it is impractical.

The second thing is that the British pound sterling will do a face plant.  Looking at what happened to it when there were just rumors of an upcoming Brexit then when they announced the vote for Brexit, I believe there is a very good chance the pound may sink to as little as 1-1 with the Euro.  For me, this would be decent new.  Better if I had more money - but I don't.  So I will keep an eye on it and buy a bit more if it does indeed face plant.   Even if it doesn't, I think it will be a significant amount of time before it can climb back to anywhere close to what it use to be.



THE GRIM NORTH

My travel mentor is named Adam.  I've known him for close to six years now, having met him when he owned a hostel I stayed at back in Ukraine.  I went out to stay with him for two nights in Lancaster.  Who else remembers the War of the Roses?

Anyway, they call this area 'The Grim North'.  Half the day it rains, the other half it is overcast.  Horrible weather.

I had some unusual sleeping arrangements which Adam took pictures of and posted on his Facebook.  I am going to repost them here, along with his comments:


So Logan comes to stay for a few nights.....but as many of you know he snores like a bastard....and you live here.



...so you put him in a tent outside in the yard on top of the 4x4.



...and laugh and laugh and laugh...



...watching Logan get into his new accommodation...





...and so doesn't break his neck going for a midnight wee....You give him his own WEE WEE BOTTLE...



...and everyone slept happily ever after.


End of Adam transcript.  And yes, that is real pee in the bottle.  Don't tell Bear Grylls!

Once I got into the tent, it was comfortable - aside from the rain lashing down and a drip forming from condensation on the window.  Later this was fixed.  Getting into or out of the tent for someone fat and crippled - not easy and a bit painful.   But we made it work!

A note about peeing into bottles.  There is a technique.  Also, you get about two pees into one bottle before you are in the 'danger zone'.  Take several empty bottles to bed with you.  If you are cold, it can make a 'hot water bottle'.  Make sure the cap is on tight though...



IN CONCLUSION

So that is what I've been up to.  I realize that a lot of people would like to see more consistent posting but interesting stuff doesn't normally happen on a consistent basis.  And I'd rather post now and then than to just have a bunch of crap.







Sunday, July 16, 2017

DYSTOPIA RISING REVIEW 2

For the previous Dystopia Rising review on the Wisconsin chapter, see previous blog entry.


DYSTOPIA RISING REVIEW #2

Arrived Friday with Seth P. and got checked in.  Didn't get to hear all of the initial player talk because they wanted us down in NPC camp when it was about half way through.

Wasn't disappointed to leave the player talk because it was the same rambling thing as pretty much all player talks.

Sat around NPC camp waiting for them to get their shit together, wondering why I left player talk.

Had a decent time NPC'ing though if any of the good NERO chapter owners I know saw so many (10-20 at any given time) NPC's sitting around idle they'd have lost their damn minds.  I really think you need someone with the mindset of 'ready shoot aim' to run the NPC camp.  Instead we have 'ready aim aim aim get distracted by unimportant shit aim aim visit with people aim aim fire'.  What a waste of manpower.  I kept imagining chapter owners Seth and Derek screaming "What the fuck is everyone doing milling around here for an hour?"  (Note - anyone who gives you excuses as to why I will say 'sorry, I sat there and watched - no excuses.)

Went to bed around midnight because my NPC shift was done and I was tired.

Saturday I hung out until I started to get extremely bored.  Had been told (in the player briefing) "If you get bored, go to NPC camp and we will get you on something".

The first time this happened, I was given a very small stack of very common crap to go sell for commission.  I did.  Neat.  I'm playing a merchant.  That works.  Better than sending in NPC merchants who don't go around trying to get the best price for things and keeps the new guy busy.

Got a job offer within five minutes from one the biggest trading houses in this game.  Disappointed the big boss when I told him I didn't live in the USA and wasn't going to be back.

Went back, asked for something - anything - else to do.  Was told to wait, there would be something.  Three hours of waiting later and nothing.  Outrageous.

Decided to go NPC again because hey, maybe I can make someone else's adventure suck less.

Did a bit role as Rick (of Rick and Morty).  It made me cringe a bit but on Sunday had a dozen or more people come up to me and compliment me on it.

Then, I went in for a different role.  Turns out they were going to have a big combat mod and didn't have anything non combative going out.  "What about something for all the people who are non-combatants?" I asked.

I was given a doctor who was suppose to just hang out, not advertise they were a doctor and bandage people up when they came back from the combat mod.

The lack of plot's creativity, preparation and ability to think on their feet astounded me.

While in game playing a very low key doctor, a staff lady asked me if I was having a good time.  I replied "No."  When she asked why, I told her what had happened.  She said I should go to the head story teller and tell him.

"I don't think he's going to be interested in talking to me." I said.  She told me "It's his job!" so I went in to talk to him.

He was getting ready to go out for the big fight when I told him I needed to talk to him out of character in his capacity as head story teller.  He told me he wasn't interested in talking to me just then.  I pushed through anyway and gave him a quick summation.

"If that's what they got, that's what they got." he replied.

"That's shit." I responded.

He shrugged and wandered off.  When I reported back to the staff lady who had encouraged me to go speak to him, she was indignant but also unable to help.

Despite the huge number of NPC's (every PC serves a four hour shift, every story teller an eight) this is very much a 'make your own fun' game.  Weak.

Spoke to some veteran players who have been regularly traveling around the country playing.  They told me a couple interesting things:

The plot/NPC's here was average or maybe even a bit better than many other places.
It takes between four events and a year and a half to start getting involved in any plot.

Every time they started to talk about plot, they spoke of things like 'this large thing needs to be built in order to keep some bad thing from happening'.  I said "That is not plot - that's a game mechanic to soak up excess treasure."  After a couple times of that, they wanted an example of plot.

If you don't know what a plot is you probably haven't had any.

Also, at a dinner after the game, I carefully monitored conversation between eight other people (I wasn't in the conversation) and did not once hear anything about plot.  That tells me quite a bit.


At around eleven at night, I decided to put a bullet in the brain of that day and cut right the hell to the next.  Sitting around was starting to feel like some sort of open air prison.


At check out, the director (owner?) of the game asked me what I thought about the game.  I responded "Great PC's, community, interesting system.  Useless NPC camp."  She thanked me but had zero follow up questions.  "I'm sure I'll hear about it later." she said.  This kind of told me "Nobody else is saying anything negative, thanks for your money, piss off."  Why owners ask for feedback when they don't care enough for follow up questions is a mystery.  Ego stroke?  Trying to be polite?  "How is your day thus far?"  I don't know.


I did have many many PC's thank me for NPC'ing and praise various NPC roles I did.  That was nice.


In conclusion:

Outstanding community/people
What appears (with my limited knowledge) to be an interesting system
Loads of time sitting around a table hitting it with something
Absolutely no plot


For some people (actually, many judging by how DR is blowing up these days) this might be just fine.  For me, having a really awesome character in DR would be like having a super nice house in Kansas.  Super nice - but you're still in Kansas.  It's not like I'd want to go to Kansas.  For any reason.  Same with having a nifty character (and system) in a dull fucking world.  Not something that appeals to me.


Side note:  Not sending this to the DR chapter I went to (nor advertising it at all) because I've seen the results of this sort of thing before.  You either get a 'sorry your event sucked' letter, or that plus a litany of excuses.  Or some sort of cold letter.  Whatever.

I really don't care if they get better.  I don't live in the USA and am not coming back for years (if I make it back) and thus have 'no dog in this fight'.  The people who play it seem to love it.  To me (plot wise) it was like a really shit NERO event where the plot team is busy doing a circle jerk instead of running things.  The only reason I wrote this is that there are several people who wanted my opinion and knew I'd give them the unvarnished truth as I saw it.  I'd give it a D-.














Monday, July 3, 2017



PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE RACISM

In the last blog (read previous blog) I'd mentioned that many people in the USA had 'passive-aggressive racism'.

Here's a meme which illustrates that:








ANOTHER MEME

Thanks to David H for providing this one.


THIS IS TRUE.




DYSTOPIA RISING  (AKA DR)

My buddy Seth kindly arranged and paid for me to go experience Dystopia Rising.  This is a new LARP I'd never heard of before so I was curious to find out about it.  More so as it seems to be a fast growing game that has a lot of people excited.

Other people heard I was going and asked me to give them my opinions on it.

I took a lot of notes during the game for that purpose.

A couple of disclaimers:  Thus far, I've only gone to one chapter (Wisconsin).  Another visit to a different chapter is scheduled in a couple weeks.  Also, unlike in the NERO larp, I don't have a bunch of chapter owners who are friends I can get that behind the scenes point of view from.  So this is pretty much all from a new guy who was dropped in to it.

Also, since I've played a couple of decades of NERO, I will make tons of comparisons between this LARP and NERO as it is my only real basis for comparison.  So you're going to get a bunch of those.

Lastly, if you've never played a LARP, I'd suggest expanding your experiences and trying one out.



WELCOME TALK

Back in the old days, NERO use to do a 'welcome to the site and event' chat.  Due to poor planning, laziness, people arriving at various times or whatever I've not seen much of this in the last decade.

They did a welcome talk where in addition to the usual information I got to find out two interesting things.

1)  The first rule of DR is 'Don't be a dick'.  Good first rule.
2)  Second thing is that the only verboten topic in DR is sexual assault.  It doesn't exist period.  Fine - there is some pretty dark shit here (cannibalism, zombies, betrayal, etc) so this one thing is the 'too far' line.

And they have a 'safe space' for people who are overwhelmed at logistics.

Neat.  Fine.



NEWBIE ARMBANDS

One idea which had sounded great but due to poor execution (they forgot to bring them) completely fell flat was 'blue armbands'.   These would be passed out to newbies who would wear them for some amount of time.  Not sure if it was three months, three events or something else.  Till they were no longer complete newbies.

The stated purpose of these would be so that newbies could get help dealing with battle calls, the world, skills, etc.  Also (and much more interesting) so that experienced players would know they were newbies and make an effort to get them integrated into things.  Maybe give them simple missions so they could pick up a little coin or whatever.  Make them feel like part of the family a bit so they might come back and bring their friends.

A brilliant idea blown because nobody thought to bring armbands.  Given the importance of newbie retention (and those newbies bringing their friends) I find it quite astonishing they don't leave them in the vehicle or NPC camp stuff.



THE NEWBIE RUN

They had about ten newbies (which the experienced players called 'new fish' for reasons never explained to me who were asked to gather after the mildly disorganized (as all I've been to have been) player talk finally ground to a halt.

One of the people running things (was he the chapter owner?  I have no idea) talked to the newbies, offered to answer any questions and then told us he would walk us into town.

We were at the 'depot' (logistics) and would be headed into 'town'.  It was a long fucking way, especially for my fat ass.

Along the way were a couple very small groups of zombies which the experienced guy used to try to teach the newbies the basics of combat.

Eventually, we made it into town and were taken to a bar/food place known as the 'Lemonade Stand'.

The lady who ran it had a brilliant idea which again fell upon it's face.   Partially due to execution, partially to not getting buy in from the townspeople.

She told the newbies that if they grabbed a towns person and brought them to the Lemonade Stand that both the newbie and towns person would get a free drink.  Obviously, the intent was to have the newbie and towns person be able to chat - at least for however long it took for the drink to be drunk.  Maybe the newbie could ask questions, maybe the towns person could find out something about the newbie - who knows.

While all the other newbies milled around trying to work up the courage to ask a towns person for a drink (maybe having it the other way around might be nice - don't know) I grabbed a random towns person and asked him.  He agreed, got his drink, passed it off to someone else and wandered off.

"Well, he doesn't seem to give a fuck about me."  I thought and moved on.  With my free drink.  Damned fine lemonade.  Sweet, sweet lemonade.

Later that night, I decided to try to get some sleep.  Not a whole lot seemed to be going on and the town seemed to be mostly milling about or whatever.  At that point, the fuckery started.

After I went to bed in the 'hostel' (thirty or more mattresses laid out on the floor) lock picking window climbing in zombies made it inside three different times and were beating on my fellow sleepers.  Since my character literally had no combat skills, I just tried to get some sleep during the carnage.

I was doing alright until the violin started at eight AM in the goddamned morning.

So now I'm on four hours of sleep.   Meh.

Nobody else was screaming in rage or murdering the violinist so I just got up and went with the flow.  It turns out that someone (I forget who - sorry) was making really great biscuits and gravy for the camp.  This was great because there was no 'meal plan' at this event.  Lots of different people brought their own food.  You could buy food at the Lemonade Stand, but that cost in game money and newbies do not start with any in game money.

I still regret not getting a second helping of biscuits and gravy even though everyone was threatened with death if they did.  So good.  So good.



MY CHARACTER

Although Seth had encouraged me to read the rule book or even help build my own character, I decided after looking at their thick assed rule book (3cm?) 'oh hell no'.  Seth made my character who was a tinkerer.  My character had the ability to make basic shit and repair shit.

Also, he made my character a 'rover'.  This is pretty much a person who travels a lot.  Good fit.  The required costume for this 'strain' (like a race but not) is that they have to wear a lot of scarves.  Bandannas seemed close enough to me and since in real life I am kind of a rover, I own a bunch of these.  I knotted several together and made a loop I put over my head and one arm to mark me.

Because I was feeling super lazy and would only be going to two total sessions of this game before going back to Eurasia, I decided to just use the back story of my NERO character and have him on this world.  Since magic and all the fantasy realm stuff (aside from zombies) wasn't going on, he would figure he was having a weird hallucination or something.  Having Lumsie talk about insane stuff would be fine I reasoned because chances are great anyone living in the DR world should have heavy PTSD and quite a few different types of insanity.

For two events, it would work.

I  discovered a couple downsides of my character as I went through play.  First, for 'basic stuff' there was zero market.  The next tier up of goods was plentiful and cheap - nobody wanted basic.  Also, repairing a basic suit of armor means sitting around at a work bench tapping one thing on another for ten minutes.  Why nobody was using that time to say build real actual chain mail (or something useful) escapes me.

Also, extremely cheap people said that repairs should be done for free.  If people don't repair the armor of the fighters, it is argued, then the zombies will over run and kill everyone.  I responded that I needed money to buy food.  Whether I died from hunger or zombies didn't seem to be that huge of a distinction in my mind.  This did stop the tightwad and made him think a bit.  After that, I just told people 'will repair armor for food' and everyone seemed happy with that.

I didn't go hungry.

Note that my 'build shit' skill (not the official name) did get me one quest - which took all Saturday.  (See below, 'the quest for the doctor's bag').



ECONOMY NOTES

Although I was told it is changing, there seemed to be two types of people at the event - rich and poor.  I personally found two rich people.  Everyone else seemed to be (or said they were) dirt assed poor.  I sat down and spoke to one of the rich merchants to find out what the deal with the economy was.

In NERO, it is a 'murder economy'.  All treasure originally comes from killing monsters.  DR flips that on it's head.  Killing monsters is the drain on the treasure.  Treasure comes from farmers, brewers, scroungers (etc).

A note on scroungers.  Back in the old days of NERO, some times staff would go out into the woods and leave module cards or perhaps even treasure.  This eventually tapered off because it was extra work, some cards and such were never found - or acted on, etc.  Basically, thin staff and laziness.

In DR, they have an entire profession whose job it is to go out and find crap lying around.  They can take a certain amount/kind of stuff and must leave other stuff behind.  Staff does indeed leave stuff lying around for them to find.

Stuff in DR is priced in 'money'.  "This costs one money."  A couple people called it 'credits'.

All but the yellow cards are examples of various money.  Each is printed on a credit card looking/feeling/size hard plastic tab.   Hopefully, someone in management has been clever enough to make larger denominations but the only ones I've seen are ones, fives and tens.  The yellow cards are scrap which are almost always worth 'one money' each.

Food costs - a drink or a taco, 1 money.  Double stuffed taco, 2 money.  Nachos with lots of meat, 3 money.

At the low end, the economy is pretty simple:  1 money = 1 scrap = 2 herbs.  That's really all you need to know.  Of course if someone has bought up all the scrap or herbs, the price may alter.

Talking to a PC merchant, I found that mid level characters with the right skills, connections and the ability to be able to do things like pretend to farm a ten by ten section for hours of real time can make about ten money per hour.  This is OK but for clever folks they can make that in minutes with the right deals, travel and such.  If I lived in the USA and played this game a few times a month, I have no doubt I could get there.  But since I don't and won't...

One thing the wise merchant did say is that the only real limit for him was actual time...



DAYTIME AT LAST (SATURDAY)

During LARPs, Saturday generally goes one of two ways - either people are busy running modules or they are sitting around 'role playing with each other'.  In NERO, this generally means 'a shit event without much plot is going on'.

People seemed to be mostly sitting around talking to each other here but unlike NERO events having a decent time doing it.  Weird.  I admit I have no idea why.

I have been assured that there is plot going in.  Unlike NERO, I didn't see groups regularly (or even irregularly) wander off on adventures.  Certainly, there was no 'town adventure'.  (For the record, IMO 'town adventures' were almost always super lame and best avoided.)  I've been told that the plot build up is more subtle and such here.  People that use to play NERO and now play DR tell me that DR is more of a 'sustained investment' than NERO plot.


LOGAN'S QUEST FOR MONEY AND FOOD

I went back to the Lemonade Stand because there was food there.  I reasoned that where there is food, there may be some way for me to get food.  It seemed very unlikely that Seth and I would leave the camp to get food - there seemed to be nothing (other than a bar which if you live in a small town you probably need) there that served meals.

So I needed to get some food.

They had something like a job board there.  Small medallions with things printed on them.  One was 'sell ten newspapers'.  I forgot to ask how much this would pay or read the reverse side of the medallion which would have told me.

I was given ten newspapers and went around selling them for one money each to various PC's.  To help them to want to buy the paper, I would make up various outrageous headlines ("Pretty girl buys newspaper, read all about it!" type of thing.)

After selling them, I went back and received...one money.

Well, fuck this I thought.  I'd felt lucky to have sold off the previous ten newspapers and had no desire to spend another half hour or hour to try to sell ten more.  Fortunately, they also gave me a lemonade.  Probably because they saw the look on my face when I got paid.

I decided to try to use my character's abilities to get some money going so that I could buy lunch.  The biscuit and gravy I'd had earlier helped but hunger would come later so I had to hustle.  I began the quest for the Doctor's Bag.  (Play dramatic music).



THE QUEST FOR THE DOCTOR'S BAG

After asking around, I found that a guy who claimed to be the head of the tinker's guild was working at a workbench.  I went and asked him what needed doing.  He tried to recruit me to the tinker's guild.  I explained that I was a rover, not around for long and probably would never be back.  I failed to mention that unless he could actually provide work I saw no benefit at all to joining any guild.  He said that he did have some work but since he didn't have any glue, he didn't have anything for me.

I asked him how much he was paying for glue.  Five money.  After going around and talking to some other people I tried to get more money out of him but he was firm on five.  He eventually agreed to give me the five and I would get the glue for him using that money.  Fortunately, the 'rover' strain has a thing where they won't break their word if they shake on it.

One herb was needed to make glue.  No herb was initially available but eventually I managed to talk someone in to selling me two for one money - the standard rate.

To make glue, I needed a brewer.  Found a farmer who could do basic brewing - but he had no distillery.  So I had to find the brew thingee.  Found it but hey, it's not free to use.  So I had to rent the time as well as pay the farmer to brew it.  Ended up with two glue brewed for four money (including the cost of the herbs).

Now in order to get the cards that say 'glue', you have to take the brewer, the card for the distillery and the card for the herbs and walk your happy ass to the depot (aka 'logistics') which is a long way away through potentially zombie infested areas.

Super.  My one coin of profit had to go to tipping the person the farmer had an arrangement with to help guard us.

But eventually, I had two glue - one extra!

I went back to the head of the tinker's guild and presented him with the glue.  He seemed a bit surprised as he'd heard there was no herb left in town.  "Where is the project?" I asked lest he lose focus and wander off - a common adventurer problem.

Eventually, he got me a blue print for something called a 'doctor's bag' and all of the stuff to build it, including the glue I'd just gotten.  He told me he'd pay me five money to build it.

Considering how long it took just to get the glue made (including walking, finding people, haggling, etc - couple hours) I was less than thrilled but assured that was 'standard guild rate'.

Well, fine.  I hoped to then make a total of ten money off this deal - five for putting together the doctor's bag and hopefully selling the head of the tinker's guild the extra glue.  The glue wouldn't expire for an entire year and I'd been told that it was used in a wide variety of things so...

So I spent time making the 'doctor's bag'.  Normally this would have taken thirty (??) minutes but since I'd learned the skill 'educated', that knocked a flat ten minutes off.  After finishing up tapping a small bottle on a work bench with the blueprint (like a NERO formal scroll in many ways) and materials (components) in front of me I was done.

Not really.

No, I had to make the trip to the dreaded 'depot'.

Hey, fortunately, a large group of people were also headed that way.  I could tag along with them.  Super.

Seven people fucking died.

I managed to (very very slowly) escape and help raise the alarm.  Other people came and looted the bodies of their friends.  The massively powerful twenty damage swinging skull faced zombie who was leading three beings covered in blood had wandered off.  Note that my starting hit points (amount of damage I could take) started at eight so I can only presume that had I been hit, my family in distant lands would have also taken damage.

Fortunately, the lady who owned the table (and got the tag for the table - needed) still wanted to go to the depot.

{Because the players need to visit the depot all the time in DR, it use to be manned twenty four hours a day.  Because some of the people weren't sleeping at all, they knocked it down to a mere twenty hours per day to try to convince some of the staff to sleep.

NERO people, let that sink in.  They have enough staff to keep a desk manned by usually two people twenty hours per day.  Yeah.  On top of that, NPC'ing is mandatory.   There is no whining about needing to do it.  It is an expected part of the culture.  Being able to opt out is possible but the event costs twenty dollars (20USD) more and there are a limited number of 'opt out' slots.  Mind blowing.  Note I'm not saying that they are actually using all these NPC's well - I have no idea.  I didn't see many of them.  Perhaps they were creeping around in the woods.  Maybe there were modules going on of which I was completely unaware.  I'm not sure if the NPC shift is four hours or longer.  [For non-gamers I am sorry I could not find a good definition of 'module'.  Generally, it is an entire or part of an adventure in which a group of PC's go out and do stuff.]}

So, at long last, I got the doctor's bag card.  As is normal with pretty much every LARP I'd done in the last couple decades, after a big attack the roads are safe for an hour or so.  The three of us wandered back to town.

I turned in the blue print, doctor's bag card and extra components to the head of the tinkering guild.  He paid me.  I asked if he considered our deal complete.  He said he did.  We shook on it.  I then pulled out my extra glue and offered to sell it to him at the same price as the first.  This should be a good deal for him - especially given what a pain in the ass it was to get.

"I don't have any money left." he responded.

For folks that are new to LARPs, here's a hint.  If you present some newbie stuff to a 'guild master' and they claim not to be able to afford it run.  Don't work for them, don't join them and avoid them.  Either they really don't care about you the newbie enough to give you a minor amount of newbie treasure or they are not competent enough to have a decent pile of money sitting around.  Either way, you don't want to get in with them.

So I questioned people, found out who someone else was that was rich, told him my tale of woe and sold it to him.   I figured he was just being kind to a newbie.  But, since it was fresh, something that was widely needed and a huge pain in the ass to get made - I figure both of us did OK in that deal.

After various tips, spending money on food and such, I ended up with twelve money.  Talking to other players, they often claimed to either have made no money or under four on their first event.  No clue what is up with that.



SUNDAY

At NERO, you get up, clean up and take off.  Maybe to eat with others, maybe just go home.

At DR, the culture is completely different.

I woke up fairly early, took a shower and changed into my civilian clothing.  I'd have done well to have a second costume for my character.

Everyone played from about eight in the morning till noon.  Not kidding.

After that, there was stuff to go through.

You had forty-five minutes to clean up the area you slept in.  This had to be signed off by a marshal.

Then, on the character sheet, you had an area you were assigned to help clean.  You go there and do as asked until they are happy and have a marshal sign off on that as well.

Then, as you are getting ready to leave another marshal takes the sheet, checks both signatures and off you go.

I was asked what happens if someone has to leave early and was told they would be assigned some where to clean at that time.

In conclusion, no cleaning means you definitely get no build.  Not sure if there would be any other repercussions.   This is probably a better system than I've seen in NERO where it often ends up with the same few people doing the cleaning for the masses every time.



OTHER LITTLE NOTES

The rules book (which you can buy on site but not the t-shirts for some reason) is available at the site for sale.  Also, it is an 'in game' book they call the 'survivor's guide'.  It is a thick assed book.  There are also other books which are apparently stories and illustrate the world, etc.

If you go to this game, bring timers.  Really.  Everything takes real life time.  You might be at a bench for minutes or hours depending on what you are doing.  Or in a field.  Bring some stopwatches or egg timers.

The economic system in DR is amazing and has a LOT of potential.   They have a lot of stuff which is only available through certain chapters and many things which not only come from only one chapter but are seasonal.

Apparently, you get less XP when traveling.  I'm not sure of the exact amounts but after what I found out, the XP you gain from travel (assuming you are clever) matters 'fuck all'.  It's all about the trades/contacts/money/blue prints/etc you can bring back to your home chapter.  Anyone who has any kind of brains and skill can make traveling well worth their wild.

Unlike (badly run) NERO, it seems that DR has a much stronger team leading it.  Reminds me of 'old fashioned' franchising vs McDonald's style.  In the old days of franchising, you would pay some money to a person to use their restaurant name.  What was served might be completely different.  In McDonald's style franchising, if you don't use the hamburger buns they tell you to, they yank your license and poof - you are no longer a McDonald's.  I have no idea if DR does this but they seem to all be going from one script.

Story Tellers (AKA ST's) have a shift (six hours?) and then play the rest of the time.

I checked on the DR website and for reasons that escape me, they don't have just regular DR t-shirts.  You can only get chapter specific ones.  Weird.

There was a definite feeling of comradery within the DR community.  I don't know about all of the chapters but this one did not feel 'clickish'.  Since the game is strongly set up on 'groups of people doing things together' (to even make fairly basic things) that seems reasonable.

I do personally see a bit of a problem in that (at the moment and in the chapter I was) 'one money' is still considered a bit of wealth.  Will it become less so over time?  Something like 'dragon poker' (or any gambling) I've not yet seen because even a small amount of money is considered quite a bit.

Unlike NERO, the system they use (from my extremely limited understanding) is made for the 'long haul'.  With something like NERO, once players progress beyond level thirty, they begin to get unwieldy - especially with swinging damage.  Example - in NERO, getting to the point of swinging tens doesn't take all that long.  The problem is that these days, there are people who can literally swing one hundred's.  Balancing monster hit points for both the hard swinging groups and more modestly swinging groups is not really possible.  In DR, swinging tens might be possible but if someone is swinging above that (up to twenties is what I'd heard about) they are burning resources to do so.  Also, I spoke with an experienced (300 build/xp/whatever they call it) character who told me that putting things into thirds (one third into body aka HP, one third into skills and one third into mind which is often the limiter for skills and abilities) is the way to go.

Simpler combat (no stupid spell incants) but a much more complicated social/economic dynamic.  I am totally great with that.

I've been told DR is made for groups.  Solo play is super hard but possible.



IN CONCLUSION

It seems that both the system and leadership of DR are light years ahead of NERO.  Also, DR seems to be growing very quickly.  I've heard that a chapter in CA which is only a year or two old has already bought a permanent site.   The numbers of players at DR events seem a lot larger than any of the regular NERO events I've been to or heard about.  Heck, this (WI) was a newish chapter and it had fifty or sixty people.

But what the hell is the draw?

I feel like I've seen a duck floating on the water.  I know that the legs under are kicking feverishly but wasn't able to see them this last event.

Not sure what the draw is with DR.  I feel I am missing a vital piece of the puzzle.  Hopefully, I will find out more at the next event.

For those thinking about DR or have been to an event and didn't like it - I'm thinking, try to find a large event.  Go check out an event of a few hundred people and see if you can find out what the draw is.  Let me know.

I'll put up more after the Colorado event in a couple of weeks.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

WITH THANKS TO SHERLOCK "PETE" HOLMES

BITS AND BOBS

Still have conjunctivitis though the medicine is helping.  It might (might?) be on the downhill side.  [For those too lazy to google it, it is not contagious - unless you are one of my kids.  If you are or believe yourself to be, seek medical help immediately.  Or psychiatric help.  Probably both.]  I still remember the first time I got it and was literally down for months.  Thought I might go blind.  That would have made 'seeing the world' (or jack shit) problematic.

Living next to a special needs school and night club (not the same building) sucks for the noise.  Zoning laws don't seem to be really known in a lot of countries I live in.  During the daytime, the mentally handicapped scream at each other, at night the drunks scream at each other.  I've noticed quite a similarity.

Tomorrow is the last time I go to pay rent.  I'll pay it for ten days (150 euros) then I have only to tick off the last few days before I get to go visit my buddies in the states.  Looking forward to that.  I'll have to keep a better eye on my purchases.  I still remember being surprised at leaving behind a fairly well stocked fridge in Bulgaria because I hadn't kept good track of the time remaining.

It's been pointed out to me - quite correctly as well - to look at the expiration date on my passport.  It looks like I've got a bit over a year left on it.  Since at about the six month mark they actually become useless (most countries demand you have at least six months left on it) I will need to get a new one.  Due to the amount I travel I will probably try to get one with the extra pages already installed so it will cost twice as much (200 USD).





And now for a quote by Logan about Logan.

"Throughout my life, I've always made it a habit to befriend those younger than me.  That way, I don't have to watch them die from old age.  Of course, they'll have to watch me die but by the time it happens, I imagine for many of them it may be quite a relief."



HOT DAMN, THE HOSPITAL - AGAIN

The fun never ends!

Woke up at six AM - couldn't sleep.  Eyes, burning.  Not literally on fire.

Went and looked in the mirror and it did not look good.  At all.

If you are poor and uninsured, USA is the land of 'Fuck You' for medical stuff so I decided to head back to the local witch doctor.  Just kidding - hospital.

Walked about an hour to get there.  Fortunately, it is a small town because there sure the fuck weren't any taxis around.

Got around having to show any ID because I was still in their system from the last time (yea!).  Paid my eighteen euros to see the doctor.  I was told the eye doctor wasn't around today.  I responded that pretty much any of their doctors had a medical degree and presumably more experience doctoring than I do so I was good with any of them.

After checking in and paying you proceed to 'triage'.  They use the French word here and don't fuck around with silly things like 'patient inflow' or whatever.

At triage you see a nurse (no English) who assigns you your wristband.  The all important wristband.  The color of it determines how long your wait will be.  Red presumably means you are going to die really really soon.  It then goes yellow, green, blue and violet.

Some people will say it is best to be completely honest with the triage nurse but if you're in a hurry, try to spray her with your blood.  It may get you a better wristband color.

Mine was green!

Everything past red and yellow means your ass waits until they have a break in the action then they see you.  Guessing violet means you are too well to be in the hospital.

They have a chart on the wall that shows the waiting time but it lies like Trump.  It claimed an hour and ten minutes.  There were other people who had been there since six AM with a green band.

Fortunately, the hospital was empty of waiting room patients (less than ten) so it was only a three hour and some wait for me.  Better than the six or seven I had last time.  Yeah, you sit on your ass for a long time but for eighteen euros I am happy to wait for a medical professional.

Who...did not speak English.  He spoke five other languages including Russian.  My Russian is not good enough to discuss 'conjunctivitis' and medication and he looked rather alarmed when I began to speak in it.  Either my Russian is just as bad as I thought or his is worse than he let on.  Either way, speaking  a bunch of languages but not the one spoken all over the world - confusing.  He went off to find someone to translate.  He grabbed a nurse.

Him finding a nurse took more time than the actual appointment and that only took one minute.  He didn't bother to examine me - just gave me a prescription for some cream to put in my eyes and told me to keep using the ineffective eye drops I'd been using for the last couple days.

Bummer.

I was hoping for different eye drops.

But now I've got cream shit in my eyes and the world is a bit blurry.  Neat.

Tonight is pack up night, tomorrow is head to the airport time.

The doctor did say he suspected it was 'bad water', ie what comes out of the shower.  I'm hoping he is right.  If so, this should clear up shortly after I arrive at the states and stop using the water here, piped through the old city, to clean myself.



SO WHAT EVER HAPPENED WITH THIS SHIT?

Despite getting some unexpected help from a nurse who my buddy TJ made laugh to hard she about lost it, the eye problems persist.  Until I get out of this wretched country (USA) I can't afford to see a doctor nor buy eye drops.  So I wait and hope not to go blind in the meantime.  The eyes have gotten a tad better but not 100% yet.



IN THE USA

Jump forward in time a couple months because I've not written in a couple months - mainly in respect for the privacy of my fourteen (or more?) host families I'm staying with.

But I've been told by people who live outside of the USA that they are curious about what I see inside the USA.  So all of my observations you are reading in this section are thanks to a guy named Pete.  Yes, Sherlock Holmes Pete.  He is the one who told me to 'get cracking'.

So here are a few things I've noticed.  Keep in mind that the USA is a very big place.  "Your mileage may vary."  is a saying they use here.  For those that no longer think that using 5280 feet to measure a mile is a good idea (for more 'what the fuck' moments, visit this webpage) it might be better to say "Your experiences will vary."



"FAMILIARITY BREEDS CONTEMPT." - AESOP

A common phrase I've heard in the USA is "If you don't like it, get the fuck out!"

I did.

I'm alternatively bored and offended by many things in the USA itself.  Good reason to get out and stay out.

Why return?

Friends.  If I had no friends in the USA, I would probably never return.  Hence, while reading my 'insights' into the USA, remember that I am a 'hostile witness' and this no doubt colors my perceptions.

Quick disclaimer:  Although I am sure there are other people who have gotten to journey through four states, stay with fourteen different families, go to half a dozen LARP events in a couple different system - I've never heard of it.  I am honored to be making such a journey.  Again.

The USA is a pretty dangerous country for me to travel in.  If I need medical attention, I may or may not get any.  I may or may not be able to afford it.  It may or may not be docked from my below poverty line income.  Fuck that.

To summarize, if you were wanting to host Logan (see Logan's Home Invasion 1 and 2 on Facebook), you'd better catch him when he comes through because it won't be fucking often.



RACISM

In other countries I have visited, racism is usually one extreme or another.  For example, when I was in Morocco, they had a LOT of immigrants from Sierra Leone.  These guys have super dark skin, hence are easy to differentiate from the usual cross section of Moroccans.  I asked the Moroccans about them and was told "They seem nice and are hard workers."

That is on one end.

The other end is 'It's genocide time!'

In the USA, it's usually more in the middle.  Although there are a ton of stupid racists

Look for this emblem for quick identification of 'stupid racists'...

in America, the racism that isn't 'newsworthy' is a lot more subtle.  "Blacks are fine - I just don't want to live next door to any because it brings down property values." would be an example.

Neat.

So let's call it often 'passive-aggressive racism' for the most part.

Another disclaimer:  I don't have friends who are racist.  They tend to unfriend my ass pretty quick or we never get around to friending in the first place.  The people I've gotten to stay at the homes of are thoughtful, kind and generous.  Which is super cool and gives hope for America.  Well, it would if they weren't so fucking outnumbered.



UNINCORPORATED AREAS

These are the areas outside of or surrounding a town.  They are not 'incorporated' into a town, hence 'unincorporated'.  There are several reasons someone may choose to live outside of town.  Some examples:

1.  They want to raise a big garden either because they are wanting to eat more healthy food or because they are poor.
2.  They want to raise non pet type animals either because they want to eat healthy, are poor or want a cheap sex doll.
3.  They really hate other races and want to hang out with white people.  Ethnic races (in the USA this means 'non-white' because...I'm not sure why) generally stick to inside of towns.   Also, should the people outside of town want to have a 'purge night' - wait - sorry - I've been watching too much Rick and Morty.

Or, bigger homes, cheaper homes, more land or cheaper land.



FOOT TRAVEL WITHIN THE USA

It's a fucking nightmare.  Where as I could walk across a town of 50,000 people within an hour (Faro, Portugal) just getting into town in Galesburg, IL (population 30,000) and to a decent restaurant and back about three hours.

Not great for walking about.  Sometimes no sidewalks.  In the USA, everyone is assumed to have their own car.  If you don't have a car you are assumed to be a poor, stupid loser and the USA hates the poor a lot.  If someone is talking about what good public transportation a city has it is because it is an exception.



More thoughts later if and when I come up with some!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Bone Chapel

WHINGE NOT, ER...

About six years ago, it was pointed out in a very polite kind way that I did a bit too much whinging.

whinge
wɪn(d)ʒ/Submit
BRITISHinformal
verb
gerund or present participle: whinging
complain persistently and in a peevish or irritating way.
"stop whingeing and get on with it!"
synonyms: complain, grouse, grouch, grumble, whine, moan, carp...

Although not always successful, I have been doing my best to tamp that shit down. It is poison for ones self and not a joy ride for those around.

Exception: After I have been pick pocketed, burgled or nearly die, I feel I can get away with some.

So I'm in a grocery store that has two lanes out of six or eight open. Long lines.

British couple behind me. They acted as though they both had life counters on and were literally watching the moments of their remaining life tick away.

They were buying two small loaves of bread. I did not say anything - especially not "Well, you must really want that bread" or "Your time seems less valuable than that 1 euro of bread you are buying." It would serve no purpose. Instead I observed the activity in the store. Tried to be more like Peter who just seems to take in everything at a glance. (Note - he either has the same kind of mind as Sherlock Holmes hence the nickname - or some Borg like readout. I'm not sure which.) After about 20-30 minutes of waiting, I checked out.

When the lady doing the checkout spoke to me in English and I responded in English you should have seen the faces of the old British couple.


Morals of the story:

Complaining serves no purpose. Put the bread back and go to a different store if you are truly in a hurry. Or go without bread.

People may be talking in Portuguese but they are listening in English. I'm not sure why this never sinks in with so many tourists. Even when I don't think the person can understand me, I speak as though they can - or someone nearby might. "I'm sorry I'm no where near clever enough to have learned Portuguese but I want FOOD." (Make eating signs. Not cannibal signs.) It's amazing how often someone who speaks even a little English will jump in to help. If you're being snarky to the person who doesn't happen to speak your language, only bad things can come of it.



LOGAN AND THE DENTISTS OF DOOM  (Faro, Portugal)

My gums still hurting a bit so I decided to go see what the dentist says.  At 10 euros, who wouldn't?

Nobody wouldn't.

After some negotiation with the young lady at the receptionist and reassuring her that my appointment would literally take two minutes or less (possibly much less) she managed to squeeze me in after a couple hour wait.

Pretty cool - I've waited longer in USA dental and doctor stuff when I had an appointment set up well ahead.

After the mandatory prod the dentist told me my bizarre news.

(I get a fair bit of weird news.)

"You're brushing too hard."

Wow.  Really?

After some questioning, he also added "And you're changing your toothbrush too often."

That is the first time I've ever been told that.  He assured me that four a year was plenty.  I sometimes go through six or eight a year for various reasons (country change, dropped it in something icky,etc).

I thanked him, paid my ten euros and left.

Quick and painless.



FOOD

So what's Portuguese food like Logan?

Fucking bland.

Which is interesting and I think I know why.

Back in the old (very old) days, the Portuguese (insert old time racial slur here, I don't know any - sorry) traders use to get spices from places abroad (like India) and resell them to other places (Vietnam, Thailand, etc).  But they don't like them in their own cooking.

I'd read somewhere the a lot of countries like bland food because spices weren't originally (when they first got them) used to perk up the food - they were used to extend it.  Meat taste a bit rotten?  Stick some of this spice stuff on it!  That sort of thing.

As a result, bland meant 'more fresh' in the world without refrigerators.  Remember, we're talking a long time ago - even before selfies.  Like 15th, 16th century.

As a result, Portuguese food is very bland.  But fresh.

Sadly, I can't ask people about this as (like people in the USA) few of them know the little interesting details (or perhaps major facts - again like the USA) of their history.

So I get to speculate until my time machine arrives.



THE BONE CHAPEL

Went to the one in Faro.  Cost to get in, 2 euros.  Note to tourists - it closes at 1PM.  Just after the train drops you off.

My plan worked out well last night - downed most of a bottle of whiskey to get to sleep earlier.  Woke up early and went to see it before it closed.

The church was fairly impressive.  A tourist tried to tell me it was all gold but it felt like wood.  Made to look like gold.  Not that churches don't have tons of money but they like it to be out growing in investments.

The bone part - not that cool.





Those are some of the better pics I was able to get.  The piece of crap $50 (not spending more due to wildly expert Moroccan pickpockets) phone I bought in Morocco just not doing the job.

What's funny is that this place freaks out some of the locals.  I told them about Sedlec Ossuary in the Czech Republic.  That is interesting.  This place, meh.   [Edit thanks to Pete for previous link.]

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

FAT MAN WHAAA?

FAT MAN WHAAA?

If you are reading this and 'squeamish', my main question would be "How the hell did you make it this long on my friends list?"

Anyway - warning - gritty.

Because I'd rather be thought of as a 'great guest' rather than an 'infested fuck', I decided to go visit a hospital in Portugal to see 'what the hell is going on down there'.

AKA the 'dark side of the belly'.

AKA 'the parts of me I had declared legally dead because I haven't seen them in years'.

So there was still some itching down there.  Walked a couple kilometers to the city hospital.

At first, the lady was going to charge me the 'foreigner with no EU card' rate for seeing the doctor but after we chatted a bit, she very kindly decided to pretend I had an EU card.

Non EU rate:  100 EUR
EU rate:  18 EUR

Which is great because I am trying to hoard my small monies for my upcoming visit to the USA.

The poor lady was laughing hard half the time and the other half giving me the 'is he being funny or is he actually a crazy person' look.

I tend to get that a lot.

Looking at those rates tells me that in the USA we are doing it so very very wrong.

Anyway, I then got to sit in the waiting room for about four or five hours.  Much like all the jokes I've heard about medicine in England and such.  Fortunately, I've had to wait a lot all over the world so great.

In countries where I am the only white guy this doesn't happen.  There I get whisked (over my objections) straight to the doctors.  Here, most of the people are white so I didn't stand out.

At last, I got to see a doctor.  Sitting in the same room working at different desks were other doctors (including one who thought I was very amusing and actually spoke English) and a young lady I'd been chatting to in the waiting room.

When asked what the problem was, I displayed my complete lack of shame by saying "I think I either have a rash or insects living on my testicles!"  The lady I'd been chatting with in the waiting room helped translate to the stunned doctors.

Yes, I know many people would feel like dying of shame at a scene like that.  But if you think that is bad, read on.

So then they put me into one of those little examination rooms and four doctors (three males and one female) troop in.

After repeating to the doctor my issue he said "OK, could you take down your pants...."

(Logan drops pants and underwear)

"After you get up on the table."

You know, it is really tricky to get onto a table like that with your pants around your ankles.  But I struggled through it.  In retrospect, it is probably much better for the doctor instead of getting into a kneeling position in front of the guy with his pants down.

He examined me and I asked "Which is it?"

"You can put your pants on now." he told me since I wasn't reaching for them.  It was probably costing them sanity to see my unimpressive junk.

"Neither." he said.

No bugs is good news!

"What is it?"

"Fungus."

"How did I get it?"

"You are rather...large..."

"You mean I have fat man fungus?"  (I'd have rather called it 'fat fuck fungus' but fuck doesn't have as many meanings overseas as it does in the USA.  Sad.)

So they prescribed me two different creams to apply before bedtime.

Should be cleared up within a week.

Isn't it funny how much old fuckers talk about their physical health?  It's because they don't have much of it left.



CURIO SHOP

Sadly, not one of the ones that sell cursed items but good for people who want 'conversation pieces' and unique items to decorate their homes with.  If I had a home, it would probably end up looking a lot more like the shop.

Disclaimer:  I appologize for the picture quality.  Readers may remember that I had not one but TWO cellphones pick pocketed in Morocco.  So this is a really cheap cellphone.


First - how you get to the shop.

You find this church:


It is called:


St. Peter's Church.  While facing the door (as in the picture above) you go around the church toward the left (clockwise).

After about twenty meters on the opposite side of the street, you will see a small sign:


That is the shop.  Within is the lady who is my landlord as well.  Her name is Paula.


If you are wanting to stay in Faro for a bit, check with her to see if she has any rooms available.  I'm quite satisfied with my accommodations.

Anyway, here are some pictures of other items within the shop.  Again, I am sorry the picture quality is not as good as I'd like.


"Are you my mummy?"




Though not in Latin, Latin helps.



Shark teeth.







Note - this is a picture of a camera case she very much wanted in the blog.

In summary, stop on by there and give a browse!

That's about it for now - I will blog more when more stuff happens!

Logan

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

EPIC STRUGGLE TO PORTUGAL

THE WARM UP

Some countries have 'shitty' currency. For example, they don't let it out of the country or if they do, nobody else will exchange it.

Good examples of this include the Bosnian KM (convertible mark) and unfortunately the Moroccan dirham.

Giving dollars or euros to get dirham is a breeze.  Everyone wants to buy those valuable dollars and euros - nobody wants the dirham.  Aside from shopkeepers in Morocco.

Why countries like this don't just switch to a currency like the Euro or Dollar (like Cambodia did) is a mystery to me.  Probably nationalism.

Banks won't switch currency for you unless you have a residency card (because they suck) and getting money exchangers to buy it - despite them making a healthy profit on the transaction - is like pulling fucking teeth.

Fortunately, I tried to keep the amount minimal that I had so it was only about 100 euros worth I was trying to exchange.  I suspected some crap like this.

"Why not just change it at the border?" I hear some asking.  Experience.  Often same shit but less time and places to wander around asking why they don't want their shitty insular currency.  And doing it with all your worldly possessions on is even less fun.

So I got my 100 euros.  It might even be enough to get me - on a very circuitous route - to Faro (Portugal).



LEAVING MOROCCO


I almost didn't make it out of fucking Morocco.

After going through the crush of bodies (Moroccans don't really know or care about concepts like 'personal space') to get your passport stamped, you have to go along a footpath toward the Spanish side.

"We still got our colony on Africa bitches!" - Spain.

On the footpath, three Moroccan police (or border security - there's really no telling) that must look at your passport before you get to continue out of the country.

While one was looking at my passport and trying to figure out why it is literally twice as thick as every other passport he's seen, I struck up a little conversation with the third guard.  The first guard began telling the second guard he should take me back to the crush of bodies place to get another stamp.  Something about the one I already had (or just his day in general) did not please him.

The second guard took the passport but didn't seem really pleased about the prospect.  While the first one was busy with someone else in line, the third one took the passport and discretely handed it back to me making a very subtle head gesture that told me to sneak my ass out of there.

I scarpered.

Having made it to the Spanish side I noticed there was no where obvious to get a stamp.  Confusing.

You've got to look or someone will end up sending you back or saying you entered the country illegally or some crap.  It's never "Well, we do have a really shitty system so it's probably our fault" - no.  It's going to be your fault and you will pay.

So I went looking for someone to ask.

Found a guy dressed in a guard's uniform just sitting in an office.  I asked him "Where do I go to get this stamped?"

He had a stamp!  He also wanted to know if I'd caught the Superbowl.   Faking regret I told him I'd missed it.

He stamped the passport.  I did my best to remember where it was in case someone else had a problem finding it.  Yes, there are quite a few stamps and pages.  Enough to where I've noticed the security guards in the countries I'm in sometimes give up looking for theirs, figure it's in there somewhere, and just give me a stamp.

Handy.

Within minutes of crossing the border it was like I was back in 'modern' settings.

And I didn't have to listen to five times a day call to prayers from a super insecure god.  Yea!

Blue, blue sky and blue waters of the Mediterranean not quite dark enough to be called 'Navy'.  Irony.

With some euro coins I'd literally been lugging around for years, I bought taxi fare (yea!) to the ferry.  El Porteo.  Spanish - the easy language.  Compared to Arabic anyway.

Taxi - Ferry - Taxi - wait my ass for the bus.

Seven hours of waiting my ass for the bus.

While I was waiting a couple decided to hang out near me with their super noisy kid.  Thought about the eventual heat death of the universe to cheer up.

Getting to Seville ("Sev - eee - yah") is easy but for some reason the 'doorway to Portugal and big time tourist hub' Faro is not.

Decided to find food.  Nothing near the bus stop I was at - not the main bus stop apparently.  It was in a neighborhood which had been so gentrified it creaked.  Found a bar that served taipas.  Confused the bar tender that I knew taipas means 'little hat' but my Spanish was so bad.  Drank some beer and ate pork.  Good to be out of a Muslim country just for those things.

Back at the bus station the driver says "Good evening sir, where are you headed?"
Faro.
"You might need to change buses."
Why?
And suddenly, his English fails him.  As does his Spanish.  We are in Spain.  Amazing.

Got in to Faro at 2 AM.

Found the hostel (with directions and help) got a bed.  Slept in my clothing.

Got woken up by an idiot who decided talking on his cell phone in the sleeping room for a half an hour was OK.  Gave me the thumbs up.  Told me he was sorry.  Told him he was not.  Unbelievable.  Especially since there is a whole downstairs area he could hang out and talk on the phone.  Fucking people.

Met a guest at the hostel who was what I would describe as 'militantly chilled out'.  He would lecture people about how they should be as chilled out as he was.  Amazing.

Told the owner of the hostel I was looking for a place to stay.  He makes a call to an acquaintance.   She showed up a bit over an hour late for the appointment.  I get told by the militant chiller how I should be more chilled out.

I go with her to see a place she is renting.

Logan:  "Looks fine."
Her:  "It is 25 euros per day."
Logan:  "I was told it was 15 euros a day.  That is why I came."
Her:  "That is for the place upstairs which is already rented."
Logan:  "I can only afford 15 euros a day.  That is what the man who called you told me.  That is why I came."

Eventually, she dropped at 18 ("Final price") but I just kept repeating  about 15.  Eventually, I thanked her and left.  Made it about a block before she called me back.

She can do 15 euros per day.

Would it be better for you to pay by the week or the month she asks?  Of course I jump on the by the week.  What would be the downside to me?

"But you must pay me for eight days."
Logan:  So you will show up on Wednesday to get eight more days?  Then next week on Thursday?  That sounds very confusing.  How about I just pay you for seven days and you show up every Tuesday to get more money?  Wouldn't that be more simple?"

She looked displeased but agreed.  Maybe she thought I would pay eight days every seven.  I have no idea what is up with that.

The place itself is about three times as large as I need.  Tomorrow, Maria the lady who does the cleaning, will show up to show me how to use an overly complicated washing machine.

Why they make them complicated (more options are not always needed) and why people buy complicated ones for rental property is something I don't really understand.

The security here is pretty sad - I think with one rigid piece of metal I could be in to the apartment, possibly the building.

But it's better than a hostel.

Overall, Portugal is freakishly clean  - especially compared with Morocco.  There aren't even cigarette butts on the ground.  So I'm taking extra care to keep that clean as well.

While I was out earlier, I picked up a nice bottle of Jameson whiskey for just 12 euros (wow!) and will drink some or all of that tonight.

Yea!

[Edit:  Renting lady:  "Do you have a passport?"  Logan (with great confidence)  "Yes I do!"  And it was never brought up - nor viewed - again.]





HEAVEN

Imagine this. What if Heaven were real? Just imagine that for a moment. And imagine it was good - not at all like North Korea where you just sit around worshiping the mighty leader like it says you do in the Bible. OK - so now we have a good heaven.

If people really believed it, they'd work on dying faster.

People who really believed would take up really dangerous hobbies like skydiving simply because if they died, they win. Or, if they weren't sure, they'd go street preaching in countries that really hate Christians and put them to death because the bible says that if you get martyred for your faith it's a free pass.

Everyone wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.

To paraphrase a quote, "I find their lack of faith disturbing."

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

FUCK OSCAR WILDE

WOW, YOU HELD ON TO THIS AWHILE BEFORE PUBLISHING IT

Yeah.  I wanted to do some more research on Portugal before I published it.  Then, I got caught up in doing research for an upcoming tabletop roleplaying game I will be eventually running.

So not much got done for a long time.  I decided to take a couple hours out and do this.

I've still got about three weeks left in Morocco but I wanted to get through this now.



VISA RENEWAL

Went for breakfast at my usual place where my fixer was - as usual - there to scam coffee and cigarettes off me.

Super.

He said "Today is Sunday.  We should go to the border today.  No big lines."

And that the cost would not be 300d but 400d.  The extra hundred is supposedly for his bribe to the border guard.

OK.  Let's go.

Whole lot of walking at the border but other than my foot giving me some pain, it got done.

From the body language of the guy who did the stamp, I'm thinking my fixer may actually give him some if not all of the 100d.  Very tense dude.

But I got my passport restamped without going in the EU territory.  They don't have a very slick way of doing it here but it got done.

Glad I wasn't at the border during the summer when all the tourists from Spain flood in.  You could tell by the way it was built they are use to dealing with massive crowds.

So I have till after the first week of February here.  Not thrilled to be staying but it will allow my foot plenty of time to heal.  Plus, since we are getting close to the dreaded holidays (New Years at least is big - people get very excited to see a slightly larger number on the calendar) it is best to 'hunker down' instead of switching around residence.

In February, I will probably check out Portugal.  Everyone says it is cheap.

Come April, it will be at last time to visit the continent of my birth.  Very much looking forward to hanging out with my friends and perhaps meeting a bunch of new people.  Who will probably (and very disturbingly) remember my name despite my inability to retain any new knowledge.  Like their name.  Which distresses me to no end.



FUCK OSCAR WILDE

Logan's rant on immortality.

Who has read  The Picture of Dorian Gray?  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5297.The_Picture_of_Dorian_Gray?ac=1&from_search=true ?

When you are young, you think "Oh, that's horrible!"  I first read this when I was young because they forced us to at school.

Now that I am older, I think "You lucky, whiny fuck!"

Let's break it down.

He is eternally young and healthy until he looks at his picture.  Then, all the bad shit suddenly catches up to him and he dies.

I don't see the problem.

We are all in the process of dying little by little every day.  Once you pass a certain age (40 or 50) you begin to feel it.  You don't have as much energy.  You pick up little aches and pains.  You break your feet from the extreme trauma of *walking*.

You are going to die eventually either way.

It's just Dorian's way you feel as fit as someone in good shape in their 20's until you do.  After how ever long the little prick managed to live.

Why didn't he have the picture in a vault in China?  Because he was stupid.  That's where I'd have kept it.  Not in my fucking home like some Victorian suicidal poser.  Nope - it would be in some vault.  Probably buried near some monument outside of a city that was too cool to ever turn into a parking garage.  Preferably on a different continent than I live on.  Chances of accidentally getting zapped, much closer to zero.

Stupid, whiny, angsty people causing their own demise after staying perpetually youthful - fuck them.  It's only a pity they didn't pull the plug sooner.

Two things are really good to have with immortality.  A way to pull the plug 'should it all become too much to handle' and not being imprisoned.

Having the US Government hold you at Gitmo site B (the even more secret one) in order to routinely dissect you to try to make some sort of super soldier doesn't give you the 'quality of life' one would hope for.

In conclusion, you are going to eventually die anyway.  Even if you are immortal and enjoying yourself, the eventual heat death of the universe is probably going to be a drag.  Better to be young and healthy for your whole time on the planet than having life slowly knock the vitality from you.



LOGAN'S CONCISE OPINION OF THE 2016 ELECTION


The fact that after the election so many were so vocally proud of the results concerns me.

Note - just a month later and buyer's remorse has started to set in among many who elected Trump.  Let's all try to look surprised.



SHOPPING IN THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES

I know the politically correct term is 'developing countries' but you know what?  It seems that the last major reshuffling of political borders (creating countries) was back after WW2.  That's over fifty years ago.

Folks - the countries are pretty much as good as they're going to get.  There's not a lot of 'development' going on in the countries I've been to.

So I call them either first world or third world.  I was told Russia use to be the second world.  After talking to a lot of Russians, it seems to be a mostly third world deal with some first  world cities (Moscow, Kiev, etc) which are really expensive.

Anyway,

Shopping in third world countries always sucks.

If you are lucky enough to find a big grocery store, they don't always have what you need.  Which is odd, coming as I do from the land of Walmart which has more than you need under one roof.

Since the day when everyone loses their mind over an arbitrary number clicking up one (aka New Years) is coming up and all of the small shops will undoubtedly be closed down, I decided to stock up on some food.

In the USA, your kitchen is 'broken' if you don't have a microwave that works.  Most of the rest of the world thinks microwaves are 'the work of the devil, Bobby'.

Since I don't have access to a kitchen or microwave for the preparation of food - and didn't want to just go hungry on New Years day - I decided to put my feet to the test for the 10km + walk there and back again to the store.

USA stores have loads of prepackaged no need to cook or heat food you can eat.  It is not good for you, but it will fill the belly for a time.

They had fuck all at the big store.  I couldn't believe it.

Unless I wanted sugar, everything there required heating up.  Like corn in a can.

Unbelievable.

So I went back to a small store that is in the Medina and bought a big can of not very good fruit cocktail.  Do you have another?  No, just the one.  Well, fuck.

Got a couple more days to try to find something else for the 'just in case everything is closed as I think it will be'.

At least I have something!



PORTUGAL PRELIMINARY RESEARCH

It seems that meals are about 7 eur, beer 1 and wine 6 euros per bottle.  Very reasonable.

The lodging seems quite a bit higher.  Around 20 euros for a dorm bed.  Not something to look forward to.

Going to try to find a not too expensive apartment to hang out in for a month or two.

First step - find cities with hostels.  These have enough tourists that go through presumably there is something interesting there.  If I can't find a place to rent, I can still get highly charged indeed for a dorm bed.

Towns in southern Portugal, first pass:

Faro (50k pop, international airport), Tomar (smaller than Faro), Cascais (200k pop, close to Lisbon), Sintra (300k pop, close to Lisbon, commuter train to Lisbon).


OK.  Weird shit time.

According to my research, I will be docking in Algeciros.   Great.  But pretty much no matter where I decide to go to get into Portugal, I will end up traveling through...Faro!  Via - Seville!

This makes no sense to me.  Apparently, they don't have a lot of roads there.

Hence, it looks like once I get to Algeciros, I will be trying to get an eight hour bus ride NW to Seville then SW to Faro.

There is no telling (once the sea gets involved, fuck your scheduling) exactly what time I will be able to get there or find the bus station.  So we'll just play it by ear.

If worse comes to worse, I'll have to stay a night in Seville.

A bit more research and yeah, Faro seems OK.  It's also an inexpensive train ticket and four hours or so to get to Lisbon (the capital for the geographically and google challenged) of Portugal.

So we'll see.

On the downside, according to wiki, it will be the time when Faro gets a crapton of rain.

So if I have to I can always hop on the train.

By April 2, I will be in Lisbon taking off on a plane to go to the USA.


IN CONCLUSION

Sorry there haven't been more blog entries but when I'm not doing that much in a country and not much is happening, I don't feel the need to make shit up or just put up non-posts.

PICTURES

{{2011}} London, GB | Rail N Sail | Amsterdam, Netherlands | Prague, Czech Republic | Budapest, Hungary | Sarajevo, Bosnia | Romania | Chisinau, Moldova | Ukraine: Odessa - Sevastopol | Crossed Black Sea by ship | Georgia: Batumi - Tbilisi - Telavi - Sighnaghi - Chabukiani | Turkey: Kars - Lost City of Ani - Goreme - Istanbul | Jordan: Amman - Wadi Rum | Israel | Egypt: Neweiba - Luxor - Karnak - Cairo | Thailand: Bangkok - Pattaya - Chaing Mai - Chaing Rei | Laos: Luang Prabang - Pakse | Cambodia: Phnom Penh | Vietnam: Vung Tau - Saigon aka Ho Chi Minh City

{{2012}} Cambodia: Kampot - Sihanoukville - Siem Reap - Angkor Wat | Thailand: Bangkok | India: Rishikesh - Ajmer - Pushkar - Bundi - Udaipur - Jodhpur - Jasalmer - Bikaner - Jaipur - Agra - Varanasi | Nepal: Kathmandu - Chitwan - Pokhara - Bhaktapur - (Rafting) - Dharan | India: Darjeeling - Calcutta Panaji | Thailand: Bangkok - again - Krabi Town | Malaysia, Malaka | Indonesia: Dumas - Bukittinggi - Kuta - Ubud - 'Full Throttle' - Gili Islands - Senggigi | Cambodia: Siem Reap | Thailand: Trat | Turkey: Istanbul | Georgia: Tbilisi

{{2013}} Latvia: Riga | Germany: Berlin | Spain: Malaga - Grenada | Morocco: Marrakech - Essauira - Casablanca - Chefchawen - Fes | Germany: Frankfurt | Logan's Home Invasion USA: Virginia - Michigan - Indiana - Illinois - Illinois - Colorado | Guatemala: Antigua - San Pedro | Honduras: Copan Ruinas - Utila | Nicaragua: Granada | Colombia: Cartagena | Ecuador: Otavalo - Quito - Banos - Samari (a spa outside of Banos) - Puyo - Mera

{{2014}} Peru: Lima - Nasca - Cusco | Dominican Republic | Ukraine: Odessa | Bulgaria: Varna - Plovdiv | Macedonia: Skopje - Bitola - Ohrid - Struga | Albania: Berat - Sarande | Greece: Athens | Italy: Naples - Pompeii - Salerno | Tunisia: Hammamet 1

{{2015}} Hammamet 2 | South Africa: Johnnesburg | Thailand: Hua Hin - Hat Yai | Malaysia: Georgetown | Thailand: Krabi Town | Indonesia:
Sabang Island | Bulgaria: Plovdiv | Romania: Ploiesti - Targu Mures | Poland: Warsaw | Czech Republic: Prague | Germany: Munich | Netherlands: Groningen | England: Slough | Thailand: Ayutthaya - Khon Kaen - Vang Vieng | Cambodia: Siem Reap

{{2016}} Thailand: Kanchanaburi - Chumphon | Malaysia: Ipoh - Kuala Lumpur - Kuching - Miri | Ukraine: Kiev | Romania: Targu Mures - Barsov | Morocco: Tetouan

{{2017}} Portugal: Faro | USA: Virginia - Michigan - Illinois - Colorado | England: Slough - Lancaster

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