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Thu, Apr. 2nd, 2009, 07:08 pm
Bought rename token, now I'm ChristopherA

It always annoyed me that the one major place I didn't have the user name of 'ChristopherA' was LiveJournal, in particular as the user with that ID never used it.

Well, LiveJournal now offers a rename service, where for $15 they'll rename your old account and redirect all your old friends and traffic to the new name. Also, the old defunct user's account is moved as well, it is now at http://ex-christoph388.livejournal.com/profile , which has nothing in it.

So my official LiveJournal URL is http://christophera.livejournal.com 


Wed, Dec. 20th, 2006, 11:01 pm
Neil Gaiman & Cthulhu Mythos

Jekyll's Powders I never spotted these before, but there are two short stories by Neil Gaiman (of Sandman fame) related to Cthulhu Mythos on this page

The first is I Cthulhu and is told from its point of view.

The second is a pdf of Emerald which is a pastiche with Sherlock Holmes and featuring Old Ones, featuring some "The Strand"-like layout and ads.

Mon, Oct. 16th, 2006, 07:34 pm
A Song of St. Francis Dionysus

This is a poem that I read when called by friends to read out loud poetry at various seasonal social gatherings. It was written by science fiction writer Phillip Mann in his amazing but almost unknown book Wulfsyarn: a Mosaic, so most people are not familiar with it. I was surprised that I could not find this poem on the internet, so I post it here for your enjoyment.

A Song of St. Francis Dionysus

I affirm the oneness of Life.
Among my friends I number the stars,
Shining in the darkness and the serene moon.
I praise the rising sun that gladdens me.
Everything holds to its rightness:
The leaves that fall in Autumn,
The sap the rises in Spring,
The strong roots that break stone under soil.
Everything holds together: the fish, the birds
And the things that crawl in the darkness.
I affirm the oneness of Life.
I celebrate tangled branches,
The tumbling of clear water,
The flowers of Spring and the berries of Winter.
I am in everything and everything is in me.
I am where the red desert meets the blue ocean.
Where the white mountain joins the green valley.
Everything joins. The stones too have their life.

I affirm the oneness of life.
Where the baby cries and the woman opens,
Where the man calls and the child stands,
There too am I.
I glory in opposites, in fragrance at nightfall,
In death in the morning, in tears and laughter.
I hear the voice that whispers,
Gentle and deep, from old sea shells
Content with centuries of ocean,
And it is my voice,
and many voices.

I affirm the oneness of Life.

-- Phillip Mann
(from Wulfsyarn: a Mosaic, 1990)

Tue, Sep. 26th, 2006, 02:19 pm

I've recently joined a used-book trading/swapping site called BookMooch created by my friend John Buckman who is also the founder of the "We are not Evil!" online music label Magnatune.

You list your used books and a wishlist for books that you'd like to read, and if they match up the sender gets a 'credit' that they can use to 'mooch' a book from someone else. To get started, just list 10 used books that you are willing to let others mooch and then you can start mooching books yourself.

Unlike a related site, there is no fee for this transaction. Bookmooch makes their money off of Amazon referral fees for new books and maybe eventually sponsorship and advertising. I think the real reason why John created it is because he and his wife live half the time in London and half in Berkeley, both love books, and want something better then hauling stuff down to the used book store.

I currently have 76 books listed in my inventory -- most they are science fiction & fantasy, but there is a smattering of mystery novels and "popular" books from M's and my book club in San Francisco as well. I have 66 books listed in my wishlist.

To date I've received 23 books care of BookMooch, and I have 14 more on the way. It costs me about $2.06 each to send including postage, label and envelope. I've mooched 10 books, which even used would have cost me over $4 each. So for an outlay of $20 and throwing a book in an envelope, I've gotten at least $40 of value. Since I've actually recieved a number of hardbacks in exchange for my paperbacks, my value may be more. More importantly, I have a connection to the people who like the books that I like.

I encourage you to join if you are a heavy book reader like I am -- you can also add yourself as my 'friend' there, though it has no effect on mooching.

I'm also using it among a couple of local friends who I regularly share books with, and delivering the next time we meet, and thus saving postage ;-)

Mon, Jun. 5th, 2006, 10:42 pm
Say Yes: Lesson from Improv for Roleplayers and LARPers

From Steven Colbert's 2006 Commencement Address:

Stephen Colbert
So, say “yes.” In fact, say “yes” as often as you can. When I was starting out in Chicago, doing improvisational theatre with Second City and other places, there was really only one rule I was taught about improv. That was, “yes-and.” In this case, “yes-and” is a verb. To “yes-and.” I yes-and, you yes-and, he, she or it yes-ands. And yes-anding means that when you go onstage to improvise a scene with no script, you have no idea what’s going to happen, maybe with someone you’ve never met before. To build a scene, you have to accept. To build anything onstage, you have to accept what the other improviser initiates on stage. They say you’re doctors—you’re doctors. And then, you add to that: We’re doctors and we’re trapped in an ice cave. That’s the “-and.” And then hopefully they “yes-and” you back. You have to keep your eyes open when you do this. You have to be aware of what the other performer is offering you, so that you can agree and add to it. And through these agreements, you can improvise a scene or a one-act play. And because, by following each other’s lead, neither of you are really in control. It’s more of a mutual discovery than a solo adventure. What happens in a scene is often as much a surprise to you as it is to the audience.

Well, you are about to start the greatest improvisation of all. With no script. No idea what’s going to happen, often with people and places you have never seen before. And you are not in control. So say “yes.” And if you’re lucky, you’ll find people who will say “yes” back.

Now will saying “yes” get you in trouble at times? Will saying “yes” lead you to doing some foolish things? Yes it will. But don’t be afraid to be a fool. Remember, you cannot be both young and wise. Young people who pretend to be wise to the ways of the world are mostly just cynics. Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it. Because cynics don’t learn anything. Because cynicism is a self-imposed blindness, a rejection of the world because we are afraid it will hurt us or disappoint us. Cynics always say no. But saying “yes” begins things. Saying “yes” is how things grow. Saying “yes” leads to knowledge. “Yes” is for young people. So for as long as you have the strength to, say “yes.”

I have been saying this for some time to my roleplaying friends, but now I realize it is also a good philosophy for life.

Fri, Mar. 31st, 2006, 10:12 am
Amsterdam Photos on Flickr

I've begun uploading some of the better pictures from my Amsterdam trip so far on Flickr.

Tell which are your favorites ;-)

Wed, Mar. 29th, 2006, 02:14 pm
Netherlands Trip -- Flight & Arrival in Amsterdam

My Mom is quite a world traveller these days, probably because her profession as a day-sail captain puts her in touch with lots of people who travel a lot, so she has to monitor the cruise ship message boards to get business, and I'm sure she gets lots of advice from her customers. She has been around the world, through out South America (sometimes sailing there in her own boat!), and most recently a long tour of Turkey which I was quite envious of (I like middle eastern drum music.)

This spring she decided to take a canal cruise through the canals of the Netherlands from Amsterdam to Antwerp during the spring in a Tulips and Windmills cruise. As a surpise I told her I'd be glad to join her as sort of an early Mother's Day gift.

I'm arriving a couple of days early, so that I can adjust my body clock, and maybe meet with Dworkin, who wrote DGD which is the underlying "driver" we use at Skotos.

The plane trip was actually quite painless -- I got a real good deal (about $600 round trip) and using seatguru.com I had an almost the best coach seat on the plane with lots of legroom (almost felt like business class). I was next to a mother with a baby, but the baby didn't cry much at all so I hardly minded. There was about an hour delay taking off, but we arrived only 20 minutes late.

Netherlands entry and customs was so basic it was amazing, just a quick stamp of my passport with no questions, and just walk out through a "no declarations" line. There is a direct train from the airport to amsterdam central train station, which left about 2 minutes after I got to the train, and the hotel was a quick two blocks from the train station. A breeze.

I was at my hotel, the Bellevue by noon, and they were able to change me to a double bed from two twins (which was the only internet option). It is a small room, but very minimalistic in a pleasant way. Bathroom and shower are one room, so a little weird, but it works. Considering the location and the price, a steal.

Wireless internet doesn't work in the room, but it does in the little cafe in the lobby, where I am sitting now drinking a classy hot chocolate. I feel like a real cosmopolitan.

Unfortunately, as usual I was not able to get any sleep on the plane, and I don't want to nap until it is closer to "evening" so I can get my clock straight. There is a 'walking only' road called Nieuwenduk that runs through the center of town close by and it is sunny today, so I think I stroll down it to keep awake after I stash my computer back in the room.

The cruise starts Friday, but I return for two more days here in Amsterdam on the 10th & 11th of April. Any Netherland's based Skotos'ers?

Thu, Dec. 29th, 2005, 02:14 pm

Each year M and I celebrate the holiday season with a gathering on Winter's Solstice, this year on December 21st. However, it is not a Christmas party -- instead we memorialize the past year and rejoice in the coming one. So in that way it is more like a New Years Eve celebration rather than a Christmas celebration, but with no booze. One particular thing that I like about our celebration is that it is non-denominational yet spiritual -- we've had as our guests those from many faiths, from Christianity, to Judaism, to Paganism.

This year we had 9 friends join us, which was quite nice given that this year our celebration was in the middle of a work week, and some had a drive of more then an hour to get here during a rainy and stormy day.

We ate a hearty meal together, and then gathered in the living room in front of our fireplace. I opened reading the following text (written by me, but many thanks to Fen Labalme for some of the better phrasing):
We have come together this evening to celebrate the end of the solar year. Today the darkness arrived early, and tomorrow it will leave us late, giving us the longest night.

When night triumphs over the day, people of many cultures share a tradition of lights and candles. We share food with our neighbors and we tell stories — all to help drive the dark away. The winter’s solstice marks a point in time where we share together that we have made it this far, that we have survived the days of darkness. For tonight, we are not alone, and new light is just within our reach.

The winter’s solstice is is a time of turning tides, for one earth cycle to end another to begin. It a time for endings, but it is also a time for beginnings. It is a time for looking both forward and backward, and to look at other turns of the wheel for the direction our lives have gone. It is a time to bid a fond farewell to the paths not taken — and to do so without regret — before we look ahead to the future. It is a time for reflection and change.

In the quiet stillness of this night, reach deep inside yourself and feel the pulse of darkness, of all that which has held you back. Now is the time to let it go and choose to be free. Look to the growing light, rejoice with its birth, and breathe the invigorating air of new opportunity.

Tonight, join with your friends and rejoice as we awaken and welcome the dawning of the new sun, a new year, and sing of our own rebirth. May the coming of the new light bring joy and peace to all!
M then guided us through two rituals. Girst we each wrote on three different pieces of paper "Five things that we are thankful for", "Five things that we we wish to bring into our lives", and "Five things we wish to release". The last everyone was given an opportunity to burn the last list in our fireplace if they chose to.

Next M led us through a guided meditation where we thought over each month of the past year, reviewed our relationships from the perspectives of forgiveness and love, visualized what gift the universe had to give us, and left room for that which is new to come into our lives.

After the meditation ritual, we read poetry to each other, sung songs, or told stories. I offered two poems, one written that very solstice day by yezida called Prometheus Shall Rise (I only read part 1). I loved the immediacy of a poem written the same day brought to me over the web from someone that I don't even know.

In contrast, the second poem was "I Died as a Mineral" by the 12th century poet Rumi:
I Died as a Mineral
I died as a mineral and became a plant,
I died as plant and rose to animal,
I died as animal and I was Man.
Why should I fear? When was I less by dying?
Yet once more I shall die as Man, to soar
With angels blest; but even from angelhood
I must pass on: all except God doth perish.
When I have sacrificed my angel-soul,
I shall become what no mind e'er conceived.
Oh, let me not exist! for Non-existence
Proclaims in organ tones, 'To Him we shall return.'
I found the Rumi poem when reading a blog post by Farah Marie Mokhtareizadeh where she also talked about the Shebe Yalda, which is the Pharsi (Iranian/Afghan/Persian) solstice celebration that turns out to be very similar to the one that M and I have been holding for years:
Tomorrow is the Shebe Yalda, which is Pharsi for the Winter Solstice or “rebirth of the Sun.” It is a joyful time as it is the turning point in the year where the night is the longest and the light only grows stronger. It is celebrated as a joyous holiday where family and friends join round a Korsee (large brass ornate table), drink chi (tea), tell stories or read poetry and eat pomegranates, watermelon and apricots until the sun returns to us after her sweeping sabbatical. There is much joy in this celebration as it is a time where there is an exceptional sense of idealism as trust grows stronger after each hour of darkness and finally when the light descends upon the full and trusting heart it shines brighter, bolder.
I was really pleased by the poetry, storytelling, and song brought by my other guests. W told one of his famous silly but wise Mulla Nasruddin stories, K sung two of his songs on guitar, and others brought poems from many different cultures and centuries from the 11th to present.

After the poetry and songs we broke into conversation, catching up with other, and nibbling on desserts.

After our guests left for home M and I lit a candle in our bedroom which we left glowing until dawn.

Sat, Dec. 17th, 2005, 01:48 pm
Russian Stuntmen in a Post-Soviet City Hardscape

We've all seen Hong Kong movie stuntmen, like Jackie Chan, do some of the most amazing stunts. But these russian gymnasts are doing them without wires. Also fascinating is the post-soviet city hardscape they play in.

Sat, Feb. 12th, 2005, 10:55 am

For my fellow Lovecraft fans, Salon.com today features an article on HP Lovecraft Master of Disgust (warning, Salon.com will make you sit through an ad first).

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