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Questions about a gaming convention

I was hanging out with a group of friends on Monday night. We started talking about gaming conventions, what we liked and didn't like about the cons we've been to, how we might do things differently.

That got me thinking: Among my gaming friends and connections, we have enough expertise to potentially start a gaming convention of our own. Obviously there are a host of logistic issues we'd have to solve. But the most important issues are: What would attract people to attend a gaming convention?

This blog post is the start of answering that question. If you have any interest in gaming, would you reply to this post and give us some idea:

- What kind of games do you like? Some examples: board games, stand-alone card games (e.g., deckbuilders), collectable card games, miniatures, role-playing games (tabletop or live-action).
- What length of game-play do you enjoy? Short (less than an hour), Medium (2-3 hours), Long (4+ hours)? This might vary depending on the type of game you like.
- Are there any games or styles of games you'd like to try?
- How far would you be willing to travel a to gaming con? (We're probably hold the con somewhere in Rockland or Bergen counties.)
- If you've been to a gaming con before, what did you like? What didn't you like?

One of us is preparing a more structured on-line poll to get some of this information. Until that poll is ready, I thought I'd ask for some informal responses. Just reply to this post with your answers. Feel free to forward it to anyone you know who's a gamer.



Polishing the Storefront

A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog post on why I removed plastic items from Kickin' Wiccan, my jewelry shop on Shapeways. This post, like the last one, was inspired by the advice I received from the talented artist Vann Godfrey, and what I learned from putting his advice into practice.

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Travel to Eclipse?

I was going to wait a bit before writing this, but I see that lots of folks are putting up posts about the total solar eclipse next year. So now is the time to bring this up.

There will be a total eclipse of the sun visible over a portion of the US for the first time since 1979. (The path of that eclipse took it over the Stoneage Replica in Washington state. Isaac Bonewits was there. There's a picture of him at that ritual, standing next to Morning Glory Zell, on the cover of the first edition of Drawing Down the Moon.)

Would anyone be interested in getting together for a group trip to view the eclipse? We have to start talking about this now. The reason why is that, with all the attention suddenly being paid to the event, places to stay are going to fill up fast. They might have already filled up with amateur astronomers and eclipse fans who know how to plan ahead.

Some possibilities (the links point to eclipse maps):

- Nashville TN is the biggest city in the path of the eclipse. (You've been to Princeton NJ. Why not visit Princeton TN?)

- The path of totality passes only a short way south of Portland OR. We got peeps in Portland. (You've visited Salem MA. Why not visit Salem OR?)

- I'm not a cartographer (there are always issues of map projection), but it looks like the closest eclipse totality point to New York City is in South Carolina (drive south on I-95 for 11 hours).

Does any place sound likely to you? Let me know.

I should add: Thanks to the wonders of planetary motion, we don't have to wait 38 years before the next eclipse. There will be another one on April 8, 2024. The path of totality will just clip the western point of New York state (about where Camp Brushwood is) and track through Vermont. But I don't know who's going to be around in nine years, so we may want to take advantage of the 2017 eclipse.

Biography progress

I interviewed Aidan Kelly yesterday. Check one more name off the list!

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Friendship on the House on the Hill

One of my favorite board games is Betrayal on House on the Hill. It's a semi-cooperative board game. The game has two phases. In the first phase, the players work together in exploring an old house. After a random event occurs, the game shifts into its second phase: One players' character is randomly chosen to be a traitor. The traitor works to kill off the other players' characters, while the other players work together to escape that fate.

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Preface to Leaves of Grass

From today's Writer's Almanac:

Preface to Leaves of Grass
by Walt Whitman

This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.

Physicist, witch, gamer, and video editor

Today I finished editing the video for the hour-long talk I gave a month ago. It was on the history of the Nevis estate, and is the most recent of the #ScienceOnHudson lecture series at the lab where I work.

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Why they pay me

Today, a student comes into my office. This is one of the physics summer students who are here as a result of a nation-wide selection for the brightest. Here's the exchange:

"I can't run GIMP on the server."

"Did you try typing 'gimp' on the command line?"

"I did, and it didn't work."

I sigh, and start googling for him: How to run GIMP under Linux.

"Are you sure you typed 'gimp' on the server? Let me check."

I login to the server and type 'gimp'. GIMP starts running.

"So what's the problem?"

"Oh, I typed 'gimp2.2' because that's what was on the web page I saw."

"Ever hear of the 'which' or 'locate' commands?"

"Uh, no."

"I think I know what you should google when you next sit at your computer."

A Witch Does Passover - 2016, part 2

It's about 10:30AM the next day, and I'm still recovering from the post-seder food coma.
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Civic duty

I was one of the jurors let go as a result of a challenge. So my jury duty is over. I won't have to do it again for four years (for a federal court) or six years (for a state court).
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