Showing posts from June, 2020

Books to Get You Thinking

Juneteenth, falling on June nineteenth each year, commemorates the end of slavery in 1865. It is a day of celebrating African American freedom and achievements. However, despite the years that have passed since the abolition of slavery, segregation, and the passing of the Civil Rights bills, there persist wide disparities and inequities that African American communities continue to face with the access to health care, housing, education and economic advancement opportunities. Chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease are more rampant in African American communities and statistics from the Centers for Disease Control show disproportionately higher rates of hospitalization and deaths during the recent Coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic has also had more serious economic consequences for African American communities, with heavy displacement of small business owners mainly in the restaurant, service, and retail industries.  The situation has been worsened by inadequate access to


Why? Because you can—and because it feels good! Have you ever thought about taking up a new hobby? Or making some home improvements? Or learning a craft? Well, now is as good a time as any. Some specialized skills, such as doing electrical work, are best learned from experts. Other (less dangerous) undertakings, such as composting or crocheting, can be learned from library resources. There are many reasons to “do it yourself.” The most effective motivator for me is the feeling of gratification I get from a job well done. It feels good to stand back and think “I’m glad I accomplished that.” I might even give myself a pat on the back! House painting is one of those jobs that gives you great return on your investment of time and effort—and yes, money. The money you save when doing a project yourself is another motivation. We recently saved approximately $600 by painting our kitchen and dining room. We had a lot of fun working together, and now we get to enjoy the improved look as we h

Tips and Advice: TTRPG Week 9

For this, the last week, I will be talking about tips for GMing as well as giving some advice. So, let's get this party started. The internet is your friend: There are numerous resources out there to help you with rules and advice. Dungeons & Dragons is very prominent right now so there is a bit of difficulty locating info on other games. However, much of the general advice given still pertains to any system. YouTube in particular has a number of good channels. In previous weeks I have mentioned websites for resources; take a look at my earlier posts for links. 5eTools - A resource for D&D5e How to be a Great Game Master – a Youtube channel focusing on GMing Don't Stop Thinking – Youtube channel with info on GMing and Call of Cthulhu 7th ed. Archives of Nethys – resource for Pathfinder Going the extra mile: I have mentioned before about map programs to help with online play. These can also be used to enhance player experience. Making custom art, or hiring someone to d

Do You Want to Learn about Antiracism?

What is it about the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, that shocked us, set it apart from other such deaths, and spurred the ongoing protests? Was it the juxtaposition of the pettiness of the offense of passing a bad $20 bill and the fatal end result? No, we’d seen that before, when Sandra Bland was arrested for a minor traffic violation and ended up hanged in a jail cell. Was it the desperation in Mr. Floyd’s gasp, “I can’t breathe”? No, we’d heard that from Eric Garner, who was selling “loosies” and died as a result of a police chokehold. Was it the pathos caused by watching a fellow human being’s final moments of life? No, sadly, we’d seen Ahmaud Arbery lose his life after being shot while jogging in his neighborhood. So why has George Floyd’s death moved so many people to act? Why is there now so much momentum behind the movement to keep racial injustice in the public eye? Why are Confederate monuments being removed from public spaces and many antiracism bills being introduce

Garden Local - Flowers, Veggies, and More!

Be it flowers or vegetables, gardening has always been a passion of mine. Planting a seed and watching it grow is a mystery. Flowers – simple, complex, colorful, fragrant Vegetables – bountiful, colorful Herbs – flavorful, zesty, spicy My gardening experience began with learning everything I know from my father. Some years we would have 50 to 60 tomato plants and the same for peppers along with celery, peas, beans, eggplant and so much more. Made a lot of tomato sauce and stewed tomatoes back in the day! There are some excellent catalogs that you can send for: Burpee , Bluestone Perennials , Spring Hill , Four Seasons Nursery in Illinois , and Gurney’s are just a few where you can get all kind of ideas, whether your garden be large or small or just a pretty pot on your patio. Annuals are plants that flower and die in one season, although so

Homebrew Content: TTRPG Week 8

Join us on Fridays at 8:00pm on Facebook to discuss TRPGs By this point, you are familiar with all the rules and have most likely read up on some of the settings associated with the game. Perhaps you have noticed some rules are a bit clunky, or that some bits seem to work too well in certain circumstances. Maybe the primary setting is too bland, or ill-defined. Making your own changes is a viable, if tricky option to use. Game rules are tested heavily before publication, but this does not mean that they are perfect. In addition, some actions are more complex than others and require more rules, this is why combat and spells tend to take much of the book space. Of course some things simply don't translate well - I'm looking at you, grappling rules! GMs will often make edits to make these rules flow better. This is an easier option than creating a new rule, but also brings its own problems. By editing a rule, you change how it interacts with the other rules and that can have unint

Mystery on our Digital Catalog

We get our blog assignments early in the year and I like to plan things out in advance. This post was supposed to be all about making books and making things from books. The intention was to be a tie in with craft programs in July and August. It was a great plan. But … Things Change. So instead, let’s have a look at mysteries. Specifically mystery series that are available through our Virtual Branch. Donna Leon’s series about Commissario Brunetti of Venice is a particular favorite of mine. The plots are solid, the scenery is great and, well, these books are going to make you hungry because the food is bellissimo! This is a police procedural but the fact that it takes place in Venice gives it a unique twist — just think: no police cars, they use boats, and that really changes things. The first book in the series is Death at La Fenice . It is funny how books that you have read sink into your thoughts and surface in odd ways. When I saw in the news that all cruise ships were now banned

Nobody Visits. Nobody Grieves

From the Timeline on the Official Ray Davies website: January 4th 2004 - Ray shot while pursuing a thief who had snatched the purse of his companion in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Ray recuperates in New Orleans hospital where he writes the Morphine Song and others. No less a rock-poet authority than Pete Townshend considered Ray Davies (guitarist, lead singer, and songwriter for the Kinks) a “ Poet Laureate” because he “invented a new kind of poetry and a new kind of language for pop writing that influenced me from the very, very, very beginning .” Note that Townshend doesn’t call Davies merely a poet of rock ‘n’ roll , but rather a poet—full-stop. It's difficult to find fault with that assessment. The knock against Davies is that his songs could tend toward the nostalgic, even approaching the sentimental. Welllll...maybe. Some of the great Kinks songs that could be accused of straying into nostalgia—” Victoria ”, say, or “ The Village Green Preservation Socie

Actually Running the Game: TTRPG Week 7

Join us on Fridays at 8:00pm on Facebook to discuss TRPGs Running the game is one of those things that, on paper, is very easy. In practice however, it has a lot more nuance. In essence, the GM sets the scene based on their preparations, and the players interact with the scene as if they were their characters. It can be likened to making a movie, with the GM as the Writer/Director working up a set and using extras, with the players as the main actors being told to improvise based on what they see/encounter/find. One thing to keep in mind is that due to the nature of the dice, or the whim of the players, situations can change quickly. Be prepared to improvise. The nature of play doesn't translate to the written word all that well. I will forgo examples of play and direct you instead to games broadcast online with archives found on YouTube. These will give you a better idea of how a game should roughly go, and may give you some inspiration as well. The first is Critical Role, a homeb