Sunday, April 30, 2006
ManCamp: Gotta love that name. I'm not into football or fishing, but I love the idea of a space of my own. Alas, in a small 1-bedroom apt in Miami Beach that is nigh impossible, as even the "office" space we have is really more a storage for all the stuff we have that doesn't fit anywhere else and home to our rabbit (to be fair, however, his little corner is not that big a deal, though his fur flying all over the place is).
I had been actually thinking about this over the last week or so, because I had been trying to envision my ideal home office. First of all, it would have all our books, including all my gaming books, with ample space to expand our collection. On the wall, I'd want a World Map, ideally an Antique World Map along with a modern World Map, though if I'm strapped for wall space (due to all the bookcases), then I'd go for an Antique-style Modern World Map. I'd also want a small desk world globe, just because they are cool and I can pretend that I'm a student at the school of Henry the Navigator or something like that.
In order to have a desk globe I need a desk, but since I have a laptop, a small desk would do, just so I can have a place to spread papers and stack up books that I then forget to put back on the bookcase until I have so much clutter I just go use my computer in the dining room. For my desk, I'd have a multipurpose all-in-one printer/fax/copier/coffee-maker, with a nice, not-too-big chair. Scatter assorted tchotchkes that speak of my interests (like this, or this, for example) and you have a place that I can call my own.
I can dream. :)
It turns out she had a pretty good backup of her writings (my wife, like me, is a writer), but pretty much all else is in that hard disk and we don't know what to do. She has a Dell Inspiron 1200, and it seems that model has been discontinued, so I can't get any info on their site about such a problem. It is also out of warranty, so even the call to ask what can be done will cost me up to $50. I'm sure I can find a replacement hard drive online for a good price, so that's not my concern; it's how to recover all that data that has us both worried.
I may have to bite the bullet and call Dell, see what they tell us, and worse yet, may have to go with a data recovery specialist, and that's not cheap by any stretch of the imagination.
I once lost all my data in the Great Crash of 2002 and I know how much it hurts. Could we be witnessing the beginning of the Great Splash of 2006? I hope not.
- April 27, 2006: Governor says Puerto Rico on verge of shutting down
- April 28, 2006: Lawmakers try to avert a government shutdown
- April 29, 2006: Puerto Rico boils as shutdown nears
Friday, April 28, 2006
Following Puerto Rican politics is a full-time job for anyone, so I won't try to give you the whole picture because it's just damn near impossible. Suffice to say that the island is now reaping the result of years and years of political bullshit from all three parties and from at least three different administrations.
The short of it all is this: the government has run out of money.
I'll let that one sink in.
Yes, I said that right, the government has run out of money, at least for this year until the new fiscal year begins in July. The deficit is such that all public agencies, save for some essential ones like law-enforcement, health, and utilities, will cease operations as of May 1, including the entire Dept. of Education, the largest government entity in the island, to which my Mother, as a public school teacher, belongs to. There is simply not enough money to cover the payroll for May and June, so schools are all closing as of today, Friday, as if it was the end of the school year. It is unclear whether my Mother, and all other Dept. of Education employees, will have a job to go back to before the summer is over.
Of course, there is a solution on the table: a $500+ million dollar loan to cover the deficit and to be paid by an increased 7% sales tax (on top of the 7% already paid). The governor wants the loan, the Legislature (the majority of which belongs to the opposing party of the governor) does not want to approve it, thus the empass, thus the big problem. They have until Sunday to approve the loan and patch up the crisis until the new fiscal year, but that's all it is, a patch. Either way, the people are screwed, I'm afraid: they either end up without pay for 2 months and possibly without jobs, or they end up with an effective 14% sales tax and no increase in salaries for the forseable future.
It sounds ridiculous, I know. A whole state (for basically that's what we function as) without money to run its public operations? Get outta here! And it may be that indeed it is all a political maneuvre (I wouldn't put it above the main players involved), but as of right now, it is a fast-approaching reality, and the people are fed up.
There was a march today on the Capitol (see above) to protest the whole situation and to voice the discontent of the nation. This isn't something that can be easily blamed on one party and not the others; this is all their collective fault, and ours as well for voting them blindly into power, for allowing each of them to do as they please and justifying their actions only because they are from the party we favor, for remaining silent until it was too late.
I'll be keeping an eye out during the weekend to see how things develop, but the truth is that both my sister (in Orlando) and I are making plans to get our Mother, sister and nephew to move to Florida (probably to Orlando, or as we call it, little Puerto Rico). We all love the island with our lives, truly, but there has to be a point after which we draw the line.
El Nuevo Dia (the local newspaper) has a whole section on their site with all the news relating to the issue:
- Endi.com: Puerto Rico en la Encrucijada (All in Spanish)
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
High up in the mountains called the Wall of the World, where the air grows scarce and the dome of the sky draws close, one may find the cruel and mysterious Empire of Yagga Kong. The Yagga Kong rule a vast domain of gorges, crags, deep hidden valleys and desolate plateaus. It is said that they worship death and keep the bodies of their ancestors in their homes with them. They know many horrible secrets, use diabolical machines and fiendishly potent sorceries. No one really knows why they are so cruel. Perhaps the thin air and cold has driven them mad or perhaps it is the crazed Worm-Gods they revere.
The "City of the Damned" (it has no real name) sprawls at the feet of the Yagga-Kong's most remote outpost, the so-called Last Redoubt. The City has no real economy. It produces nothing and lives like a parasite on the skin of the Last Redoubt. For hundreds of years the Yagga Kong have offered a handsome reward to anyone who can enter the Labyrinth and emerge again alive. Every generation or so, someone lives to claim it. The Yagga Kong's motives for doing this are unclear-apart from cruel whimsy. Perhaps the Thing in the Labyrinth might get hungry if they didn't supply it with victims and the contest is the cheapest way of providing it with the sustenance and entertainment it craves.
Can you brave the Maze of Screaming Silence? Then come walk the crooked streets of the City of the Damned.
The Maze of Screaming Silence is a d20 Adventure and City Sourcebook for 3rd to 4th Level Characters. Written by: James Thomson; Cover and Artwork by: William O'Connor; Pages: 110, Fully Bookmarked.
WARNING: This book is intended for Mature Audiences only, due to its graphic violent content. Readers' discretion is advised.
Now for sale at RPGnow.com and ENGS.
Our first Mature title. Should we celebrate?
Please heed the warning, though. When James Thomson wrote this for MonkeyGod in 2002, there was a small bru-ha-ha over whether it should be published or not due to its ultra-graphic depiction of evil in the realm of the Yagga-Kong. In the end it was published, obviously, and it was a good seller, a trend I expect will continue on PDF. To get an idea of what to expect, take a look at one of the reviews available at ENWorld. Enjoy!
Monday, April 24, 2006
Just answer each question with the appropriate four answers.
A. Four jobs you have had in your life.
- Bag boy
- RPG Retail Clerk
- Music Retail Clerk
- Desk Monkey (aka. Office Manager)
B. Four movies you could watch over and over again.
C. Four places you have lived.
- San Juan, PR
- Carolina, PR
- Kendall, FL
- Miami Beach, FL
D. Four TV shows you love to watch.
- Grey's Anatomy
- The Amazing Race
E. Four places you have been on vacation.
- Paris (2005)
- Ireland (2002)
- New York City (link to 2003, but quite a few times)
- All across Europe (2001)
F. Four web sites you visit daily (or most often).
G. Four of your favorite foods.
- Rice and Beans (red and/or black)
- Vaca Frita (made by Marta, my mom-in-law)
- Mustard Salmon (original recipe by Yvette, my wife)
H. Four places you'd rather be right now (and how!).
I. Four of your favorite things to do.
- Work on my websites
J. Four of your favorite drinks (alcoholic or non . . . anything)
- Orange Juice
K. Four people you are tagging with this meme (or, that's what you get for reading this blog).
Friday, April 21, 2006
- MonkeyGod Presents: Hellstone Deep
- Liber Sodalitas: Erzsak's Drake Riders
- Liber Sodalitas: The Blind Path
- MonkeyGod Presents: Black Ice Well
- MonkeyGod Presents: From Stone to Steel
- Bardic Lore: Ogham
- Liber Sodalitas: Scions of the Holy Triad
- Bardic Lore: The Fachan
- Bardic Lore: The Villa of Mysteries
- MonkeyGod Presents: All The King's Men
Sunday, April 16, 2006
You want a bunny for Easter? Get one made of chocolate or stuffed with cotton. Leave real ones alone unless you are ready for an 8-10 year commitment. My wife and I have had 4 rabbits in the last 9 years, and 3 have been rescued bunnies, 99.9% dumped on the streets after Easter by people who were too dumb to realize what it means to care for a rabbit.
Spread the word.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Happy Passover, and may we all celebrate it, hopefully this year, if not the next, in Jerusalem.
Thursday, April 06, 2006
A few links:
- 'Gospel of Judas' Surfaces After 1,700 Years - NY Times (Requires registration)
- Did Jesus Ask Judas to Betray Him? - ABC News
- The Lost Gospel - National Geographic
- Gospel of Judas Google News search result
National Geographic will be playing a new show, The Gospel of Judas, on Sunday, April 9, at 8 PM EST (and I'm sure quite a few times afterwards), and at their site, you can download a PDF of the coptic transcription of the codex (not that most of us can read coptic, but it's cool nonetheless). Also, ABC's Primetime and Nightline will be reporting the news tonight (Thursday) at 10 PM and 11:35 PM EST respectively.
So, what does this all mean? At least that things are about to get very interesting in the Christian world. Though undoubtedly the Christian establishment will reject the new Gnostic gospel, it nevertheless raises some very hard and interesting questions about the established account of Jesus' last few days. According to this new account, in which Jesus actually asks Judas for the act for which the man has been condemned for some two millenia, turns the whole characterization on its ears, putting Judah not as a betrayer, but as Jesus' closest disciple, the one with whom the teacher shares a gnostic mystery by the uttering of the words, "you will sacrifice the man that clothes me," referring to the act that will liberate Jesus from his physical flesh.
So what does this mean to me? I'm not Christian, so ultimately it means nothing beyond the historical importance of such documents. However, I grew up as a Catholic, and my family is still Catholic, so there is some sort of interest in such a story. While I was still a (if only nominal) Catholic, I always felt the establishment was way too rigid and had lost some of the essential message of the Rabbi from Nazareth. Much later on, after I had begun my journey into Judaism, I learned about the gnostic tradition, and over the years I have come to realize that the gnostics were perhaps a lot closer to what I consider a truer version of Jesus' message, based especially on the knowledge I have (however small) of Rabbinic teachings of the 2nd Temple Era.
Ultimately the greatest realization this new finding should bring to all is that we do not know everything that happened, and at best, we are trying to decipher the picture by looking only at its shadow. As a Rabbi-Historian I heard a lecture from once said (and this should be a t-shirt), "Lack of proof is not proof of lack." As time goes on we will make new discoveries that will force us to re-evaluate everything we have held as fact for so long, and I truly believe that eventually, that path will lead us towards a better understanding of humanity and of the true nature of G-d, eventually to the time when "He will be One, and His Name will be One."
On a less serious note, though, I am now officially starting the wait for the next Dan Brown-esque writer to mine the new revelations from this gnostic codex for the next blockbuster novel. Maybe Dan Brown himself will write a sequel to The Da Vinci Code based on this.