Terrible Decisions: The Hard Part


I’m tiling my bathtub surround today.

I can do this.

No one is going to die.

I am not going to fuck up.

I will still have two bathrooms at the end of the day.

I’m good enough, and I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.

Expect pictures and swearing as the day goes on.

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More BENEVOLENCE ARCHIVES musings, and an excerpt!

Guys, this book is being weird.  This is the third novel I’ve written, right?  Which, I know, doesn’t make me anywhere near an expert on how these things generally go but I’m not exactly a complete novice.  But I’ve never written anything like this story before, where every four or five thousand words I get ahead means I need to double back and hit “reset” on most of the last ten.  I’m writing the book in circles, and every couple of big scenes in the “now” part of the book has resulted in me going back and either rewriting or adding stuff earlier in the book.  It’s growing from the *middle*.  My books don’t usually do that.

I’m not complaining, mind you; I’m just kind of fascinated at how the process is working on this one, and how damn stubborn the book is being in refusing to come out the way I initially intended it to.

For example, after the jump you’ll find the first little bit of the book, at least as it stands now.  Why “as it stands now”?  Because this is the third beginning of the book.  The other two beginnings have been shoved to other parts of the book.  :-)

Standard first-draft caveats and all that, but here’s your first little look at Benevolence Archives 8, also known as THE TITLELESS.

Continue reading

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On social media and kids’ shows

You may find this a useful post, or you may find it to be an excellent reminder of why thinking about, much less stressing out over, social media is an incredible waste of your time.  We’ll see.

Twitter has recently sort of upgraded its Analytics page.  They did it in a sort of annoying way, giving us a lot more granular data on how individual Tweets do, but removing the only feature I actually used Analytics for, which was to track day-by-day follows and unfollows.  They still haven’t put that back, which sorta pisses me off.

(Also: immaturity moment, because I need one: hurr durr he said anal.  That is all.)

Anyway.  I have, at this exact second, 1143 followers on the Twittermachine.  One of the things that the new Analytics page keeps track of is impressions for each Tweet.  An impression means that at some point your Tweet scrolled across the screen of somebody who was looking at Twitter.  It doesn’t mean that they read it, or clicked, or really did anything at all– it literally just means that it is at least theoretically possible that someone saw it.

With 1143 followers, after five or six hours most of my Tweets reliably have in between 60 and 80 impressions, assuming that they haven’t been retweeted by someone. This means that about six percent of my followers are going to see any given Tweet.  (Unknown: whether someone seeing a Tweet multiple times counts more than once.  I’m assuming that it does not.)

That is not very many.  You can increase the number of people who are going to see a Tweet with hashtags, which means that anyone who searches for that hashtag in the, oh, five minutes or so after you send it will see it, maybe.  In general, until yesterday, adding a hashtag or two would generally add thirty or forty impressions to a Tweet, and also seems to slightly elevate the chance that a Tweet will be favorited or retweeted.

This will seem like a change of subject; it’s not.  Bear with me.  I posited the following in the comments of my post about Curious George the other day:

Siler’s Law: as any discussion of children’s programming continues, the chance of someone making a disparaging comment about Caillou very rapidly approaches 1.

This genuinely is a law, guys.  It’s amazing how much people seem to hate Caillou, and you absolutely cannot talk about children’s programming without someone at some point mentioning what a terrible goddamn show it is.  It’s nearly impossible.

And my son has never displayed the slightest interest in watching it, so my wife and I have been spared this particular terror in our childrearing.  So, two nights ago, we decided that after we put him to bed we would deliberately expose ourselves to this terrible thing.  What the hell, I thought, maybe it’ll make for a blog post.


Short version, because this isn’t actually the point: early Caillou is, indeed, completely unbearable.   Later seasons eliminate some of the stuff that makes the early episodes bad, but oh man are the early episodes bad.

While we were watching, I posted the following two Tweets:

As of this morning, with– and this is important– not a single retweet– these two posts have 1,707 and 1,714 views, respectively.

Not one retweet.

I posted this last night, when I discovered this phenomenon:

That Tweet currently has 1,039 impressions, with no retweets, and has only been online for about eleven and a half hours– most of which in the dead of night in the continental US.

What this implies is that there are an extraordinary number of people who, for some reason, are searching Twitter for the #caillou hashtag.

So searched Twitter for the #caillou hashtag.  Something’s going on here, right?

Go ahead; try it yourself.  Long story short: shit still don’t make no sense.

And that’s why no one should waste time worrying about social media.

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In which read the disclaimers

Warntsr2101ing: Geek content substantially higher than normal.

I genuinely consider getting rid of my old-school D&D rulebooks to be one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made in my adult life.  I’m serious, here: I experience active regret about getting rid of my first and second edition D&D rulebooks at least three or four times a year, and sooner or later I’m gonna break down and just go find used editions somewhere and pretend I never got rid of them.  I still have my original Dungeons and Dragons boxed sets (all the BECMI books, from the red “Basic” set through the gold “Immortals” box) although I don’t have the boxes anymore. I know exactly where they are in the house and I’ll never get rid of them.  But I never really played basic D&D, whereas I spent most of high school and college playing 2nd edition.  I’m such a 2nd edition nerd that I’m convinced the only reason I’m any good at adding and subtracting negative numbers is because of THAC0.

Also, I still think THAC0 was a good idea, to the point where I’ll fight you if you say otherwise.  I’ve played a few games of D&D under the 3rd or 3.5 edition rules, and for some reason I could never wrap my head around how anything worked under the new rules.  I bought the full set of core rulebooks when 4th edition launched a few years ago, read through them once, and put them away, because 4th edition was a videogame-saturated horror and I wanted nothing to do with it.

Point is, when I left college I knew I was moving somewhere where I wouldn’t be playing anymore, and in a weird fit of altruism where I wanted the books to be with people who would use them more often, I either gave them away or sold them to the guys in my gaming group.  Never shoulda done it.

(Hell, I may just have to go to The Griffon tomorrow.  They carry used rulebooks.  I might get lucky.)

(Also, have I said this?  Grond, one of the two main characters of The Benevolence Archives, was originally one of my D&D characters.)

I downloaded the .pdf of– what the hell are they calling it?– the new basic rules for the newest, we’re-not-gonna-call-it-the-fifth-edition version of D&D.  The .pdf is free; their “starter set” is, I think, in stores now, and the traditional hardcover books are gonna trickle out over the next few months– no jump straight to the three-hardcover box set like the 4th edition did.

(Note that I still have my 3.5 and 4th edition rulebooks– the ones I hate.  Just not the rules for the game I played.)

Anyway, this is a really long lead-in for a really short observation: based on what I read in the .pdf, they’ve gone a long way to strip the obnoxious video-game and wargaming elements out of the game, which was my biggest problem with the 4th edition.  I no longer feel like it’s required to use a mat and miniatures with the rules.  I’m a purist, remember; I’ll draw out a map on graph paper if necessary as I play, but I’ll be damned if I’m counting hexes to decide if something’s in range or not, and the positioning rules were a God damned sin against man and nature.  Fuck did I hate 4th edition.

Right, got distracted: I think I like how this game looks like it plays.  I know at least one person who has already expressed some interest in running through the adventure that comes with the starter set, and it looks like only one person has to actually buy that to run through everything.  I may have to go ahead and join.  I miss playing D&D every now and again, as I said, and I miss enjoying D&D rather more often than that.  Finding the time is always tricky, but I think in this case it might be worth it.

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Go look yourself, I guess

The good news: THE BENEVOLENCE ARCHIVES, VOL. 1 is now available on the iBookstore, for those of you who use your iThings to read books!  99 of your human moneypennies!

The bad news: I, uh, have no idea how to link to something on the iBookstore, since it lives in an app and as far as I know has no live Web presence?  So I need to figure that out, because I know it’s possible.  But it’s there!  Go look, I promise!

EDIT:  Aha!:


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