Stone of Remembrance

September 25, 2006

BattleLore Blog

Filed under: Games — admin @ 22:19

A few years ago I added Richard Borg’s Battle Cry to the game shelf. It’s a “war game for non-wargamers”: a simple dice rolling system, beautiful plastic miniatures, a customizable board, and quick play. Any battle from the American Civil War could be simulated, trading some historical accuracy for great playability – a way to bring more people to the game table.

Both Commands & Colors: Ancients (ancients) and Memoir ‘44(World War II) derive from this game, and at Essen Days of Wonder will introduce BattleLore, a fantasy battle game with the same attention to component quality. There’s a new blog with info on the game, which – if it’s as good as its predecessors – will wind up on my shelf.

I’m looking forward to it.

September 21, 2006

Free the Birds!

Filed under: Baseball — admin @ 22:44

For nine years the proud Oriole franchise has (as a friend says) gotten less for their money than any team in baseball. I need not recite the litany of bad baseball decisions and non-decisions under the direction of Peter Angelos, who has to be considered one of the worst owners in Major League Baseball.

Well, there’s an organized protest: radio station WNST put together a rally and even listed some Dos and Don’ts:

We are STRONGLY encouraging fans to wear black…with NO ORANGE at all…Some folks have insisted on wearing purple…we would NEVER discourage the color purple during the fall…We DO NOT want this crowd to look like a “typical” baseball crowd…

We are STRONGLY encouraging fans to make this a classy, self-policed event. We do not come seeking violence, anarchy or upheaval. This rally is about the fans uniting as one and voicing their opposition to this ownership group for the world to see and to do it with the same dignity our city showed in 1988 on Fan Appreciation Night and in 1991 during the final days at Memorial Stadium.

Please consider bringing your wife, kids, mothers, fathers, friends — anyone in your life who you’ve ever gone to a baseball game with!

We are also encouraging folks to make signs with clever slogans or statements. We want ORIGINALITY, something that’s been sorely lacking at local baseball games. BUT PLEASE — the world is watching — make this something family-oriented and pro-Baltimore (and don’t expect that you’ll be allowed to ENTER the ballpark with the sign…we are working to have people collect the signs for redistribution after the game).

One of the prime movers was Nestor Aparicio (who owns WNST), a nephew of Luis Aparicio, the great shortstop, who played for the O’s in the Sixties. It apparently came off tonight. At 5:08 PM (to honor Brooks Robinson, #5, and Cal Ripken, #8) about a thousand fans walked out of Camden Yards in protest.

Angelos said of Aparicio:

“He is a very unimportant person who has delusions of grandeur,” Angelos said. “To begin with, to leave in the middle of the game is an abuse of the players who have worked hard and played their hearts out.”

As opposed to Angelos, an important person with delusions of grandeur, who has ruined a proud franchise. The WNST site lists his transgressions. The beat writer for the Sun, Kevin Cowherd, had this to say.

Will this have any long-term effect? Hard to know. But it’s good to know that there are fans who still care. Wish we had their ballpark to go with our fans. And the Twins’ pitching staff, and the White Sox’ lineup, and the Yankees’ money . .

Americans Should Be Offended

Filed under: Commentary — admin @ 12:27

… But some of us won’t be. Hugo Chavez, the loony dictator of Venezuela, spoke before the U.N. yesterday:

“The devil himself is right in the house. And the devil came here yesterday. Right here,” said Chavez, who also called Bush a “world dictator” in need of a psychiatrist. Chavez’s remarks were greeted with applause by the U.N. delegates.

Speaking from the same podium from which Bush had addressed the assembly on Tuesday, Chavez said “it smells of sulfur still today, this table that I am now standing in front of.”

Like President Bush? Despise President Bush? Somewhere in between? Fine. Your choice; it’s a free country, unlike, say, Venezuela. But Americans – all Americans – should be offended by this vicious ad hominem attack that was roundly applauded by the members of the General Assembly.

Both Rep. Pelosi and Rep. Wrangel have come out and denounced Chavez’ remarks. Today, but they have made a public response, which is positive.

Think about that next time you stop at a CITGO gas station. I’m sure I can fill my tank at any number of other places.

September 20, 2006

Base Ball

Filed under: Baseball, Commentary — admin @ 11:44

Just listened to an interesting episode of Soundprint about groups of people who play ‘base ball’ by mid-19th century rules. The audio episode is called “For the Glory of the Game.”

The Vintage Base Ball Association is linked from the episode; the site describes their game as being played

by the rules and customs of any earlier period. Ballists wear old-style uniforms . . . and recreate the game based on rules and research of the various periods of the mid-to-late nineteenth century. The activity of vintage base ball can be seen at open-air museums, re-enactments and city parks and is played on both open grass fields and modern baseball diamonds

Including, at times, Old Sturbridge Village, a Massachusetts historical site that recreates small-town New England in 1838. To continue:

. . . vintage base ball is a reflection of how baseball existed at an earlier time.

Most vintage base ball clubs in the VBBA play the game of base ball as it was played in the late 1850s, 1860s and 1880s. Many clubs in the Midwest have adopted the rules recorded in the first Beadle’s Dime Base Ball Player, published in 1860, which recounted the third meeting of the National Association of Base Ball Players.

Great site – for fans of the game, both men and ladies.

Required Reading

Filed under: Baseball — admin @ 09:20

Peter Gammons is back, and his column on ESPN.com is required reading. There’s some baseball in it near the bottom, but a lot of it fills in the missing details of what happened three months ago – and the people who helped him recover from a brain aneurysm.

Baseball is the only sport I follow. My wife claims that I follow it “720 days a year” – and that may be true; but there are plenty of things that push it back into its proper perspective. Peter Gammons gets it. He always got it, and this column gives a rare insight into an event that no one should ever have to experience. Living to tell about it is a testament to the skill and care of medical professionals:

I was fortunate enough that I’d never spent much time in hospitals, so I never realized how much everyone in the medical world cares.

Amen to that. Read the article.

Welcome back, Mr. Gammons. We missed you.

September 19, 2006

Peter Gammons (Update)

Filed under: Baseball — admin @ 18:41

(Posted June 27)

News from the world of baseball – Hall of Fame writer Peter Gammons is in surgery for a brain aneurysm, reports ESPN.

According to the Boston Globe, he is expected to be in intensive care for 10 to 12 days.

Gammons is one of the first true in depth analyst-observers of the game, and a big part of baseball reading as I grew as a fan. My thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Gammons and his family and I wish him a full and speedy recovery.

Late night update from ESPN:

Longtime ESPN Baseball analyst Peter Gammons is out of surgery and resting in intensive care after undergoing an operation to treat a brain aneurysm Tuesday.

Hopefully that’s good news.

June 28 update:

The Herald reports some reason to be optimistic:

Friends and family members were cautiously optimistic about Gammons’ chances of recovery late last night following approximately five hours of surgery at a Boston-area hospital.

No immediate word on his condition has been released but it is believed that surgery was able to take place before the artery in the brain could rupture, which typically bodes well for the degree of recovery. He is expected to be held in the intensive-care unit for at least the next week.

A net search of the terms “Gammons” and “aneurysm” returns numerous text in which the man and the term are freely tossed about with respect to various trades, signings, performances, etc. in the baseball world. I expect more care will be taken with the usage in future.

Update early evening, June 28: Gammons’ condition is considered to be good after recovering from surgery:

Longtime ESPN baseball analyst Peter Gammons is listed in good condition Wednesday, resting in intensive care after undergoing an operation to treat a brain aneurysm Tuesday. Gammons suffered the aneurysm Tuesday morning near his home on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. He was airlifted to a Boston hospital, where the surgery was performed.

“Peter is resting comfortably after surgical repair of a brain aneurysm,” Gammons’ wife, Gloria, said in a statement. “We appreciate all of your good wishes and ask that you keep Peter in your thoughts and prayers. Please understand that we are asking for our privacy at this time as we focus on Peter’s recovery.”

On the linked page above there’s a redirect that allows you to send a get-well wish.

(Update July 17)

AP reports that Peter Gammons has been released from the hospital.

The 61-year-old Gammons was moved to an undisclosed rehabilitation center, his wife, Gloria said in a statement. Gammons was stricken at his Cape Cod home June 27 and airlifted to Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where he underwent surgery.

“Peter, his family and his doctors are very pleased with the progress that Peter has made following surgical repair of a brain aneurysm,” she said in the statement released by the hospital. “We all want to thank you for the positive thoughts and good wishes that have been sent Peter’s way.”

Good news for baseball fans everywhere. I join a large crowd of people wishing Peter the best and hope for a speedy recovery.

Update September 19: He’s back. Hope he didn’t watch too much of the Red Sox train wreck – it couldn’t help his recovery much. At least the 647 injuries mean that any reasonable fan should give them a pass this year: it’s not really their fault.

Flight Arrival Site

Filed under: Commentary — admin @ 18:37

Here’s something cool: a site that lets you track the status of flights by airline, departure point or arrival point, or some combination. It also keeps up on airport and specific flight delays and conditions. I needed to check on a flight this afternoon and didn’t have the flight info to hand – it took me ten minutes, tops, to locate it.

Worth bookmarking.

Sword & Sun: Excerpt 7

Filed under: Sword & Sun, Writing — admin @ 17:17

This is the seventh chapter of the prequel, Sword & Sun, which is the story of how the Solar Empire came into existence. It’s not presently on submission for publication.

This material is Copyright © 2006, Walter H. Hunt.

Chapter 7

The prudent man always studies seriously and earnestly to understand whatever he professes to understand, and not merely to persuade other people that he understands it; and though his talents may not always be very brilliant, they are always perfectly genuine.

- Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Part VI

“Of course I’m worried,” Arnaud Michalak said, setting the bone-china cup on a side table as he examined the display hovering in the air. “Anytime there is a large-scale trend that affects the Union – and this certainly does –“ he made a gesture at a part of the display, a 3-D graph that showed time and location plotted against investment – “then it worries me.”

The summer sun flooded the Prime Minister’s office with light, though the glass polarized the worst of the glare away. Still, it seemed to go with Arnaud Michalak’s sunny disposition. Karla Alstedt, Member of the EU Assembly, President of the European Interstellar Bank of Commerce and one time Minister of Finance, was fond of the current Prime Minister: enough so that she had left her Canary Wharf office and a half day of meetings to spend a few hours with him in person here in Bruxelles rather than by comp from London.

Still, at the moment he was frustrating the living hell out of her.

“And what are you planning to do about it?” She crossed her arms in front of her. “Really, Arnaud, I think you should take this a bit more seriously.”

The Prime Minister smiled. “I think I am taking it seriously. What would you have me do?”

“Ask them.”

“Ask the rashk? Ask them?”

“It’s a start,” she said. “You’ve spoken with them before, as I recall: you’ve even met the old one, S’s’i’i Kra’tok, haven’t you?”

“Socially.”

“That’s certainly good enough. They wouldn’t refuse to see you: you could take the shuttle to Brazil and be back in time for a nightcap.”

“It’s absurd. Even if they answered – which I doubt – it’s unlikely we’d even understand what they said. Crazy lizards: they talk in riddles.”

“That’s what everyone says. But that’s a glib response, don’t you think? Look.” She leaned toward the display and pointed. “Look here, and here. Over the past eighteen months they’ve withdrawn investments from fifteen major corporations across the Union. There’s evidence that they’ve done the same thing in every nation.

“The rashk are getting ready for something, Arnaud. It’s as if they’re putting all of their money under the mattress because they don’t trust the banks anymore. After the recent troubles . . .”

“They’re reading the comnet and listening to people cry wolf? We’re stronger than we’ve ever been.”

“This isn’t 3-V. Spin doesn’t cut any ice with me. This is business. For forty years they’ve put their – hands – into every sort of venture, at every risk level. They’ve taken their losses and made their profits; sometimes they’ve stayed on the sidelines, but never for very long. And they’ve never let this much capital lie dormant.

“You can ask them quietly and privately, Arnaud. Or if you want, you can let the Assembly Finance Committee call hearings.”

“You wouldn’t.”

“I would. Borges, Callahan, Nischwitz, McCannon and I agree – there’s some question that needs to be asked, and the rashk need to answer it. I’ll have them on 3V, by God I will, if you won’t talk to them directly.”

“That,” Michalak said, “sounds suspiciously like blackmail.”

“Call it political expediency.”

“I think I like my term better.”

“Use any term you want. I’m prepared to wait two days before I bring this before the committee.” She looked directly at the Prime Minister. “I have the votes.”

“I’ll consider it.”

“You’d better do more –“

“I’ll consider it,” Michalak repeated, frowning. He didn’t usually allow emotions to enter his voice except to emphasize a point; rivals in the Assembly considered him virtually unflappable. He was emphasizing a point now. “I don’t take kindly to threats, Karla, especially when they come from people I consider to be friends. I’ll let you know of my decision.”

(more…)

18th Letter

Filed under: Commentary — admin @ 15:31

I walk up to people dressed as pirates and say, “18th Letter of the Alphabet! Plural of ‘is’!” These are, of course, “R” and “are”, respectively. It’s a wonder I don’t get my buckle swashed, my hearties avasted, and my keel hauled more often.

Anyway, it’s Talk Like A Pirate Day, so have some fun swashing, avasting and hauling. But don’t forget your abridged dictionary.

This Week In Theft

Filed under: Commentary — admin @ 07:25

Luke Ski, one of the funniest and hardest working guys on the convention circuit, has been the victim of theft at DragonCon. According to this LiveJournal entry which also appeared in his newsletter:

At Dragon*Con this past weekend, on Saturday, September 2nd between 5:30 pm and 10:30 pm, somebody stole my tripod and Digital8 video camera . . .

It was most likely taken from my band table on the Hyatt Regency Concourse, but it’s possible it could have been taken somewhere else in the Hyatt. At this point, I am far less concerned with getting the camera returned than I am with getting the Hi8 video tapes that were in the camera bag. Those tapes contained important footage I captured at GenCon Indy, the Las Vegas 40th Ann. Star Trek Convention, and lots more, footage that cannot be recreated or replaced in any way.

Even though the camera was borrowed, Luke has decided that he’ll even pay to get back the tapes:

I am offering a $100 reward for the safe return of those Hi8 tapes. E-mail me at LukeSki@Juno.com, and I will give you a mailing address to send them to. Once I have them back in my possession, I will PayPal the $100 reward to your e-mail address. No bull, keep the camera and the tripod, I just want the tapes back to use in making my next DVD. Thanks.

On the one hand, this is far too generous on Luke’s part. On the other, this is his livelihood, and whoever stole the camera (and the tapes) is giving him a swift kick in the balls by this larceny. But he’s willing to pay the thief for these irreplaceable tapes.

I wish him luck. If anyone has information on this, please forward it on to Luke Ski at the e-mail address listed, and be sure to post a support message at his LJ.

Update 9/19: Luke Ski’s LJ says: “Hey everyone! No word from anywhere about the stolen video camera, tripod, & tapes. Oh, well. I can always get cool footage if I put an effort into it.”

Wow. Is he younger than me, or what? I hope he’s pulled the reward, at least.

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