Tuesday, July 27, 2010

First Family Vacation with Connor

Last week we took our first vacation with Connor. We decided to keep it simple and went to Cincinnati. We basically just did one major thing a day and for the most part took it easy. So this is a brief description of what we did, with pictures :)

We did not do a whole lot on Tuesday. We got to Cincinnati in the late afternoon and went to Ikea, because Abigail had a gift card from a while ago she needed to use, and this was the closest one. It is a big store, but not my thing. However, they did have smooth concrete floors with carts that had four wheels that all swiveled independently. This mean the cart did cool things like glide sideways, and it spun really easily. I think I got Connor to spin a 720 in the cart at one point.
After that we went to a restaurant that Abigail got a "groupon" for called Chezburger Cafe. It was a burger and shake place. I was tempted to get my picture on the wall by completing their speed eating challenge, but instead went for a brownie batter milkshake and a regular burger. It was good stuff. From there we drove all the way across the Cincinnati area to the hotel we were staying at.

Every day we got a late start (on purpose) Every morning, we also began with taking Connor to the pool. Which he enjoyed:
In the late morning/early afternoon we went to the Newport Aquarium. Going to the aquarium was the main reason that we chose this area. Earlier this summer, we took him to the Indianapolis Zoo and he loved watching the fish. He got a little tired at the aquarium, but he did enjoy it:
After the aquarium, Connor was spent and we still had most of the day, so we went to a local game store in the same area called Newport Games. It was an absolutely amazing store to browse. It focused on miniatures and wargames. Along with the typical warhammer stuff, he also had bookshelves absolutly stuffed with old obscure games, new small press games, new big box games, and out of print books about war. It felt like every shelf held a buried treasure, and it was a lot of fun to browse. We did end up leaving the store with the game Naval Battles, which is a lot of fun.
That evening we went to Skyline Chili, because we were in the Cincinnati area after all. Connor enjoyed the aquarium, but for all of today he was running a little temperature and this night was a little rough for everyone.

We got an even later start on Thursday. We drove to Jungle Jim's, which is a huge (as in 6 1/2 acres huge) grocery store. I think they may possibly have everything that is edible.
Along with some of the food that Abigail liked from England we walked out with chocolate flavored soda and shrimp flavored chips. After a while in the grocery store, Connor was tired and we tracked down a Caribou Coffee, which is a Starbucks like place that Abigail really likes.
In the evening we took Connor to his first baseball game. We did not go to a Reds game, but went for the dramatically cheaper Freedom who just happened to be playing the Evansville Otters.

On Friday, on our way home we stopped at the Creation Museum. Without getting to much into what the museum is all about, a few thoughts. First, I was absolutely shocked at how busy the place was. I assumed that the crowd would be really lite. It was beyond packed. We got there an hour after they were open, and we were in the overflow parking. It was almost to busy for us to be there with a stroller. So we skipped parts of it. I did think that the place was put together really well. They did a good job at making the point, that this is an interpretation of science that assumes the Bible is the inspired, factual word of God. They focused on their understanding of the science of the creation story and flood, mixed with a standard gospel presentation.
My biggest thought was, trying to figure out what the point for the place existing is. It was very obvious that the vast majority of people there agreed with everything they were being told AND already knew it all. It all seemed a little self gratifying. I do think something I would like to do in the future though is take a group to both the Natural History Museum in Cincinnati and the Creation Museum. I think it could lead to a fascinating discussion.
Connor did fall asleep for most of it, despite the crowds.

We returned home Friday night, but Saturday was still part of our vacation because it ended on Sunday. We did not do a whole lot on Saturday. However, we did try to see if Connor was the cutest baby in Hendricks County.
He did not win. As you can tell from the picture, he was really tired. Also, when he got the judges he did not smile. He smiles for everyone but he does not preform, so he did not smile. Seriously, if he acted like he did when it was over, he might have won.

On Sunday, we went to the Brickyard 400. Because I had just started at Avon last year, we missed the race which is a family tradition. This year Abigail's step dad went as well while her mom watched Connor.
Connor did look cute in his Jeff Gordon outfit.

I think it was a good vacation!

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

My last Creative Writing Attempt

I realized that I never actually posted this here. I know at some point in the going on 8 years (really, that long?!?) that I have been writing a blog I mentioned how I like to write especially creatively, but I never actually do it. This happens for two reasons, I feel like I need an audience to write, I do not just do it for myself. I do not know why that is the case but it is. Second, I feel that I am terrible at writing characters. My favorite part of writing is crafting a story and creating a world, and I feel like I am terrible at making fleshed out, interesting characters. In short, my writing skills are suited to be RPG GM.
Anyway, I wrote this back in October. When I got the expansion for A Touch of Evil, it had rules for solo play and I tested them out. I also wrote a session report about the game I played, and I decided to have a little fun about it by writing the session report in a narrative style, specifically as if it was an excerpt of a chapter from a history book. I was rather impressed with myself :)

An Excerpt from: The Complete History of the Sanctum of the Mobius Malus

As the previous chapter showed the 18th century was a productive time for the order in Europe. However, a history of the Sanctum of the Moebius Malus in the Americas during the 18th century is not much of a history of all. After the tragedy that was the Salem Witch Trials the order appeared to completely disappear from the American colonies. One might be tempted to believe that the American order was dissolved only to be reestablished in the late 19th century if it were not for the Eliza Letters. These letters prove that the order did not dissolve but only went into deep hiding and secrecy to prevent puritans from once again taking a legitimate witch hunt and turning it into a farce.

The Eliza Letters are a collection of letters written from a fully ordained inquisitor whose only name is listed as Eliza. These letters are all addressed to the High Inquisitor. While there is no other evidence of this in Europe or later in American history, it would appear that in the American branch of the order it at one time was standard practice to update constant progress reports about hunts and inquisitions via letters. The Eliza Letters give a remarkable glimpse into the practices of a secretive order during a little known time, and this collection of writers tells quite a story in it’s own right.

In 1801, Eliza was dispatched to the village of Shadowbrook [Footnote: There is no town in the United states known as Shadowbrook, so the location is unknown. Most likely, this town is located somewhere in New England. It may no longer exist or at some point the town changed names]. Eliza came to Shadowbrook to investigate several unexplained murders that had a strong linking to the supernatural. The first letter dated October 1st describes what Eliza found in the town:

“I have found the people of Shadowbrook to be of a most fearful disposition. Upon arriving I was greeted by a most amible Dr. Manning. The good Dr. grimly allowed me to inspect the most recent victim and the visage of horror captured on the face of the deceased is haunting. The eyes are not just dead-it as if the soul has been consumed, and I dare fear that is what is happening to these poor victims in Shadowbrook. I have a grim feeling about this place. The wind is cool and at all hours a faint and sinister laughter can be heard whispering in the breeze. The devil is clearly at work here.”

From the town Eliza set off to an inn on the outskirts of town. The journey and inquisition at the inn was successful. While it is not clear how, at the inn Eliza discovered the town priest, Reverend Harding was an apostate and traitor to the faith. The reverend was in league with the evil, and was somehow marking parishioners to be victims. The magistrate was contacted, but the reverend had already disappeared.

In the letter dated October 4th, it is revealed that what brought the order to Shadowbrook in the first place was a plea of help from a brother Darius who lived in the cloistered monastery outside of Shadowbrook. Eliza journeyed to the monastery and her letters recount what she discovered there:

“The situation in Shadowbrook is far worse than we faired. I made my way to the monastery to seek out Brother Darius. I was greeted by the head abbot who behaved most peculiarly. I did not trust the man and my suspicions were well placed. When my back was turned he attacked me with a knife. It was promptly revealed that the man was possessed by a most vile demon who referred to himself as the host. We engaged in martial combat, I triumphed and exorcised the demon. The demon had held the brothers in fear for their lives and the immediately thanked me for the service. They gifted me with a censer that I feel is imbued with the power of our Lord and I have renewed my oath of devotion to our holy cause.”

Eliza never met with Brother Darius because that night the evil struck again, leaving a victim at the inn. Eliza went to investigate the death, and she heard many tales about a wailing shriek that chilled the blood of the entire inn. Also, at the inn Eliza met one of the town elders, a Lady Handbrook, who concerned, with the well being of the people was also on the hunt for the supernatural killer. Based off the reports of the inn patrons, Eliza is able to deduce and give a name to the evil: banshee [Footnote: For a more detailed entry on banshees refer to chapter XX. When the order dealt with a great host of banshees during the Irish potato famine. In brief, banshees are demonic spirits of hate and malice that are tied to an earthly keepers. The soul of a banshee is held by another, making them soulless creatures who try to fill a hunger by devouring the souls of others]

The banshee returned to the inn the next night and attacked Eliza herself. Eliza barely survived this deadly encounter and was only saved by the devotion of Brother Darius. Eliza recounts these events in the October 6th letter.

“By the grace of God I live, after a most frightful encounter, that will no doubt chill my dreams for the rest of my days. I patrolled the grounds of the inn after nightfall, when I heard a most grievous noise. It sounded as if death itself was wailing. The shrill shriek turned my blood to ice. Without delay, a ghastly shade of a bluish hue was upon me from the sky. The banshee had the figure of a woman but beauty had left her face and her eyes burned with intense hatred. I tried to fight but I was powerless against the wraith. She gripped me and I felt the life leave me. I passed out from the ordeal. When I awoke I found myself back at the monastery. I owe my life to brother Darius. He found me in the clutches of the banshee and drove off the creature with the piety of his faith. Brother Darius is taking me through a secret passage to see Lord Handbrook and see if he can shed any light on why this evil is here.

While in the passageway between the monastery and the manor, Eliza and Darius encountered a barrow shade in service to the banshee but their combined faith easily exorcised the ghost. Lord Handbrook, an apparent pillar of the community, did not seem to offer much help and Eliza journeyed back to the town to make a most remarkable discovery as she writes in the October 7th letter:

“I have come into the possession of a most remarkable relic. It is a runic amulet that has extraordinary power. I must confess, high inquisitor, I am troubled that the amulet does not have any marking that glorify our Lord and Savior. Yet, I do not believe the source of this amulet to be demonic. When I wield it my hands burn with righteousness, and I am sure this will be the flame that is needed to banish the evil that afflicts this place.”

It seems that a sense of evil continued to fall over the land. Night after night saw a full moon, and the air increasingly became unnaturally cold. The banshee once again struck at the inn, this time killing Lady Handbrook. Eliza journeyed back to the inn and on the road and encountered a man claiming to be the grounds keeper of the Handbrook Manor. This was a deeply troubling encounter for Eliza. She claimed the man spoke in macabre riddles that greatly troubled her. In the letter for October 9th, Eliza refused to recount the riddles and tales of the man but did share with the high inquisitor two conclusions that she came to. First, the grounds keeper was an evil man who was tied to the banshee. Second, it was clear that the grounds keeper wanted Eliza to continue her investigation at the inn. Since the man could not be trusted she turned back looking for any clues she could find in the bog. In the bog, Eliza could hear wailings of the banshee in the wind and through what she claimed, was the leading of the Spirit, followed the sound to the lake’s edge where she deduced the banshee’s lair was on the “forgotten island.”

Eliza and Darius recruited the help on Dr. Manning and Lord Handbrook and on the evening of October 10th the hunting party went to the island to confront the banshee. A terrible fight must have taken place, but the exact details of the epic struggle are a mystery. The last letter on the collection is dated October 17th and it is a short one. In this letter Eliza writes:

I am finally strong enough to write to you. On the 10th of the month, we exorcised the banshee. My intuition about the amulet was proven true. It’s holy power allowed me to wound the creature. Dr. Manning is dead. Poor Darius is dead. I must only be alive because God wills it. The banshee had its grips on me, and me on it. Holy fires burned it, while unholy ice stole my breath. All I can say is the hell spawn perished before did I. Lord Handbrook has seen to my care and when I am well enough to travel, I will come and make a full testimony on this affair.”

The “Shadowbrook affair” from the letters is a remarkable tale of heroism in the face of evil. Yet, it is only a precursor to what the Sanctum of the Moebius Malus had in store for it later in the 19th century.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

For Independence Day

Which World War 2 General Are You?
Your Result: General George S. “Ol' Blood and Guts” Patton

“May God have mercy on my enemies—because I won't” Nothing less than total victory is acceptable for you. God help anybody who gets in your way, be they friend or foe. You'll bite the bullet and do your duty, but you always reserve the right to complain vociferously while you bide your time.

You are General Curtis “Bombs Away” Lemay
Field Marshal Irwin “the Desert Fox” Rommel
Field Marshal Bernard “Monty” Montgomery
Field Marshal Georgy Konstantinovich Zhukov
Which World War 2 General Are You?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz