Weird things you find out as a writer. Sunday, Jul 26 2015 

Isobel (lead female in new novel) has her next period this Tuesday coming.

I didn’t mean to work it out, it came up in conversation.  I have had to timeline this one, because unlike ‘Promises’ I need to keep track of who’s doing what (or even who’s doing who!)

Alex and Izzy who houseshare are having the following conversation, and I know the date it is happening:

“I was having some really weird dreams, and when I woke up all sorts of stuff was going through my head.”  She forked some yolk covered salmon into her mouth.

“Is it ‘cause you’re due on Monday?”

“Could be… hold on, how do you know when my period is?”

“You don’t need a sexual relationship with a woman you share a house with for any length of time to know that,” he said, “and you are like clockwork.”

“Most men don’t, No-Show was always surprised.  When’s my next one then?”

She watched as Alex did the maths muttering under his breath and then said “Twenty-eighth of July, which will be a Tuesday.”

The fact that this is 2 days away from when I’m writing is a complete co-incidence.


I High-Fived a vicar Sunday, May 17 2015 

Highlight of the weekend – it’s not something you do very often.

I ran a quiz for the local church last night. Although the building is 13th century, very traditional Church Of England, the vicar is from Florida You have to feel sorry for him at things like this. He always gives his full support even though he is often lost and bewildered, and I have heard he has problems at these Anglo-centric quizzes. So I wrote a round specifically for him.  (I say specifically, the questions were general enough for people to know.)

Question 3
In January 1861, Florida declared its secession from the Union and became a founding member of the Confederate States. However, in what previous decade had it joined the United States? It wasn’t a founding member.

He had to think hard, but he got correct answer – I’ve never seen anyone so excited when quiz answers are given!  OBVIOUSLY I had to High-five him.

Stormtrooper name generator Sunday, Apr 5 2015 

For all your Star Wars games

Copy and Paste the following into Excel


For greater realism change the font.

Why count in decimal? Sunday, Oct 26 2014 

I’ve long wondered why we don’t count in base 11 or base 6. People will say ‘We have 10 fingers’, but that is rather my point: You don’t need a “10s” column until you reach ”11”. Imagine an early farmer counting sheep- he gets to 10, then on 11 puts a stone in the ‘hands full’ pile.

Likewise, you can count to 5 on your one hand, then use the other to record 6.”1,2,3,4,5, Onehand, Onehand-1, onehandy-2 etc” This would allow you to count to 35 on just 10 fingers (Fivehand-five), then ‘Stone’ (say) for Sixhand.

Of course over time these would be slurred and contracted (like four-ten is 40): twoston threehandy four is nine-tens four.

Feel free to steal this for alien cultures in your RPGs!

Top Gear sorry for Waterloo station Saturday, Oct 11 2014 

The BBC have today apologised for a scene where Jeremy Clarkson is seen driving past Waterloo Station. The French Embassy lambasted Top Gear for insensitively reminding everyone that it took a British General to stop a crazed meglomaniac from taking over Europe.

BBC spokeswoman, Ebola McBlamehound, said “It is obviously unfeeling for the BBC not to do everything in its power to change the name of the Station.

A Complaint Letter to Haribo Tuesday, Nov 12 2013 

Sent by me today.

Dear Sir/Madam

It’s been quite stressful at work recently, so I and the two ladies I share an office with all chipped in last week for some comfort food, and Wendy and I took ourselves to the local store to stock up.

Among the items, Wendy selected a Haribo Mega-mix bag (yeah we’re a bunch of 40-somethings eating kids’ treat bags. Like I say, stressed). I must admit I had some reservations, as I am not a lover of the Gold-bear. However I realise that your jellies are formulated for a younger palate, not a middle aged man, and it was a ‘Mega-mix’ bag. As such the pack also tantalised with the promise of ‘Tang-fastics’, and I do like a sharp/sour sweet. We also bought chocolate chip cookies and bags of scampi fries and bacon fries. As you can see we were not planning to run our afternoon snacks past a doctor for their approval, but were intending to cheer our minds and taste buds (if not our arteries).

Upon opening the bag I sorted through for something I would like, and retrieved a packet of Tang-fastic. I say ‘a packet’; it would be more accurate to say ‘THE packet’. Yes, much to my disappointment, there was only one pack of this fizzy delight. And not just my disappointment, for it turned out Robbo also fancied a pack, and I had snagged the only one. I have thus upset my colleague, and she’s Australian, so not someone I wish to anger.

There were a few packets of what my colleague Wendy assures me are called ‘Star-mix’, but not many. Indeed, an unofficial audit between us (the bin has been emptied, so we can’t count the packs) suggests that of the 25 packs, at least 18 were Gold-bears. 72% (plus) of this gummy ursine seems rather excessive in something that represents itself as a ‘mega-mix’.

We therefore wish to register our disappointment, our distress even, at this oversight by your packing machine. I was so upset I had to have another packet of Bacon Fries.

Yours Faithfully
Ian, Wendy and Emma (aka Robbo)
Team 2
PS Robbo wishes to make it clear she is not yet a 40-something.

PPS Wendy says age is immaterial, as your slogan is “Kids and adults love it so, the happy world of Haribo.” We would add, “unless you like Tang-fastic or Star-mix, when you are in for a disappointment.”

I ain’t dead… Monday, Feb 13 2012 

…to quote Granny Weatherwax.

Between writing my ‘book’ (currently at 80,000+ words) and planning the Kriegspeil for this coming Saturday, I’ve been a bit busy, computer-wise.

The Kriegspiel is getting to be a bit big:  not only am I lead Umpire (PANIC), but it looks like 10+ attendees.  It’s different in concept to other K-S I’ve played/helped umpire: it’s all about the planning.  I joked that I’m looking forward to the 19th, as I get my inbox back!

Sunday I will (hopefully) publish an AAR, plus the rules I wrote, along with the counters etc.

Hello Readers, everywhere. Friday, Jan 13 2012 

I keep track of hits by using the WordPress stats page.  It also alerts me when I have new followers etc.  I can’t help but think most of you are disappointed most of the time.

This blog is so eclectic that what ever you subscribed to is probably only a fraction of my output, and the rest of it is of very little interest!

2011 in review Sunday, Jan 1 2012 

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 17,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

“LIFE- The MMRPG” A letter of Complaint. Friday, Nov 4 2011 


I have been playing your ‘First Life’ game for some years now and I wish to register dissatisfaction with some of the so-called features.

1) Lack of manual/in-game help/tool tips.
I realise that you boast an ‘extensive training mission’. What you fail to mention is that this will take approximately 1/3 of the promised 75 year content. Additionally there is little guidance even during this so-called “Schooling period”, and the training is mostly trying stuff out then having other characters telling you are doing it wrong. Even experienced players would welcome tool tips during actions – for instance when reaching for your third alcoholic drink a warning bubble saying “May impare your judgement of interaction with opposite sex” would be helpful.

2) Lack of Save/Load function. 
Given the lack of in-game hints the lack of a Save Game function would appear to be a major omission.  When attempting an action, the failure of which would have negative consequence, it would handy if we could return to a point just before so we can avoid the effects of making a poor choice with no guidance too many times.  This would particularly useful during the ‘Teenage Romance’ sub game, for which there is no documentation.  Frankly all the Romance sub-games are difficult and confusing, and prone to leaving you frustrated.  The Rom-Com training package glosses over much of the difficulties.

3) Effects of other players. 
I note the IPCC Yahoo group has found a bug within the global interaction algorithms.  Apparently this could cause the game world to end prematurely based purely on the actions of other players on different servers.  Even if this is fixable, it is apparent that servers in Africa and Asia are suffering DDOS attacks by resource usage elsewhere.

4) Random Character generation.
Not only does this make it near impossible to achieve some tasks against some players who ‘got lucky’ during the generation process, but that In-Game Credits are not accessible to all, leaving some downloads unavailable to most people- for instance “Sports Car” and “Big House” are two that spring to mind.

5) Non Linear Game play.
“Do boring/repetitive task or starve” doesn’t really count as open-ended.

6) Experience Points
Referenced frequently by the ‘Job’ sub-games, but there is no onscreen count to let you know how you are doing.  Though they appear to be influenced by various tasks/games, there is no indication at the rate of accrual, so you can’t tell whether the amount of XP is worth it.  Additionally some of these sub-games appear to over- or under- award XP: For instance “Art History” and “Engineering” in the ‘University Zone’ often cost the same number of credits, but rumour on the Fan forums is they award different XP.  Is this true?

6a)  Rumour on the ‘Buddah’ Yahoo group is that there is a kind of XP called Karma.  Is this true as it is not referenced in any of the training/instructions?  They claim this allows a second character to be started.

7) End Game routines
I am approximately half way through.  According to more experienced players game experience dramatically reduces during the later stages, with your character becoming slower and less responsive.  It has also been found that the graphics and sound settings deteriorate making it hard to follow the action.  Did you know the ‘Hair’ colour setting can change spontaneously to ‘Grey’ and in male characters even ‘Flesh’?  Additionally there are a number of bugs which can cause parts of the programme to just stop working altogether.

8.) Power-ups/Health Packs
While it is clear that some servers receive too many ‘Weapon packs’, there is a distinct lack of power-ups.  I have repeatedly smashed any number of boxes, crates and other containers, and have yet to receive even one extra power.  Additionally there are no health packs being generated.  Did you mean these only to be available from players who have taken the “Doctor” quest?

I understand that in any product this ambitious there will always be a number of problems.  Do you have any plans to produce a patch we could download?

Yours Sincerely

Wargamer’s Rhapsody Monday, Jul 18 2011 

With apologies to Freddie Mercury…

Is this Renaissance?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a leadslide,
My escape from reality
Put out my figures, but your army’s bigger, oh crap,
I’m just a poor bloke, I need more miniatures,
Because I’m easy meat, and paint too slow, don’t roll high, always low,
Any way the dice fall doesn’t really matter to me,
to me

Oh-no, I just killed a man,
Charged him on too far ahead, rolled my dice, now he’s dead
Dammit, the game had just begun,
But now I’ve gone and thrown it all away
Oh-no, oo-ooh, Didn’t mean to make them die,
I’ve got to play this game again tomorrow,
With no men, with no men, coz nothing now can save me

Too late, my reserves are gone,
I’ve got Artillery on my ranks, and his cavalry on my flanks.
Goodbye, ev’rybody, I’ve got to flee,
Gotta leave you all behind and quit the field
Oh hell, oo-ooh, I don’t want to lose,
I sometimes wish I’d never played these rules at all
Coz nothing now can save me…

I see a little silhouette of a man,
Minus 2, minus 2, on your combat roll
Agincourt and Crecy, very, very messy
(buy more lead) buy more lead (buy more lead) buy more lead, buy more lead At a show, ow, ow, ow.

I’m just a poor Colonel, everybody beats me
I’m just a poor gamer with a lone sentry,
Spare me my figures from your huge army
Hard to paint, easy lose, will you take a draw
Surrender! We will not let you draw
(Let him draw!) Surrender! We will not let you draw
(Let him draw!) Surrender! We will not let you draw
(Let me draw) Will not let you draw
(Let me draw) Will not let you draw (Let me draw) Ah
No, no, no, no, no, no, no
(Oh Phil Barker, Phil Barker) 5th edition lets me win
Pendraken has an army put aside for me, for me, for me…

So you think you can flank me and use that old ruse
So you think you can charge me and leave me to lose
Oh, damn it, no matter how much I plan it,
Just gotta pack up, just gotta pack up my men now
Nothing ever works, Anything I try,
Nothing ever works,
Nothing ever works, for me
(Any way the smoke blows)

Can Time Travellers commit adultery with their own spouse? Tuesday, Jun 21 2011 

You know those odd random thoughts you get, that sort of buzz annoyingly round your head like a wasp too stupid to fly out of an open window?  Here’s one from today.

If you go back in time, and arrive home, pretending to be the younger you, and have sex with your husband/wife in the past, are you cheating on your Now-Spouse?  What if you travel to before you met, and seduce the young future spouse?

Running out of superlatives Sunday, May 22 2011 

Having listened to my son speaking to a freind this morning, I wonder what the youth of today will do when the do encounter something that is, actually, ‘awesome’.

Or come to that, how will they convey when something is ‘literally’ true (as opposed to “I literally died”. Really – you are a zombie then?)

Complete History of the Soviet Union… Wednesday, May 11 2011 

as seen through the eyes of a humble worker.

Where was MY wedding invite. Saturday, Apr 30 2011 

Both William and Catherine (The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – that Wills and Kate) are descended from notorious parliamentary commander ‘Black’ Tom Fairfax, and I have a line of descent from his grandfather. (Edited for spelling)

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