Saturday, August 13, 2022

August 10, Dungeons and Dragons Recap

- Note that the date on the last one was wrong. We played on August 3.

August 10, 2022

Days: 3rd day


Glaston and Dworm find themselves waking up from sleeping in the basement of the Church of Thoth to a bright light.  Followed by a kick to the head.  Followed by lots of tiny, slimy hands tying them up, putting a hood on them, a gag on them, and a noose around their necks.  They suspect they’re on a gallows based on the wood floor and nooses. However, they seem to be very small gallows.  But they’re very small humanoids.


The rest of the party is at The Tipsy Bullywug.  The bartender comes over to say he doesn’t know much about hat-wearing tentacle monsters, that’s just drunk talk.  But he came from a clan of bullywugs not far north of town and if there are bullywugs around, they’re from there.  He refers to them as a ‘bunch of hillbillies” and notes he and them do not get along. One might suspect he’s particularly intelligent and capitalism focused for a bullywug.



Before setting out, the party rests at the Church of Thoth.  The Bishop, Ka-tet, back for the moment from wherever he’d been when they were there before tells them he’s cleaned the basement and thanks them for the donation of gold to the church [apparently there were filaments of gold amalgam inside the tentacle monster].  The party finds sleeping in the basement seems to have curative/healing properties.


Later that afternoon, the party approaches a small village of Bullywugs and sees a gallows.  Rather than debate the merits of their approach, they wander straight into the middle of the excited, bloodthirsty, semi-amphibian crowd gathering at the gallows.  Wing is starting to ask questions when a leader-ish looking bullywug with his oversized [yet still small] axe-wielding bodyguard announces, ‘String them up.’ 


Stabbing begins. On both sides. Although Oleg is being stabbed in the knees.  And then a full on fight erupts with the villagers.


During the fight with 9 bullywug villagers, a bullywug barbarian, and a bullywug cleric or perhaps druid [the party can’t tell.  The bullywug seems to throw a magic missile, but it’s not the pointy kind], the women and children of the village start to sneak away fearing they’ll be murdered by the interlopers.  As they do, a dome of light appears and the party sees the man from the dome of light in the church basement [presumably the same person who kicked Dworm and Glaston in the heads and gave them to the bullywugs, but who’s to say?  Not Dworm and Glasto] step out of the brilliance and announce that they’ve killed al the good bullywugs he was harvesting.  He grabs a pair of bullywug women and steps back into the dome before Oleg can get to him.

As Oleg reaches the dome, a tentacle monster, much like that at the church, comes out of the dome with two bullywug women attached to two of its tentacles.  


Part way through the fight, as the party finally starts to carve into the central body of the monster, and as Ilduul finishes the mass bullywug grave he’s digging, hands again emerge from the dome and grab two bullywug children.  The other bullywug women and children scatter for good as a Conjoined Bullywug Twin with Six Tentacles [CBT] emerges from the dome after a quarter turn of the dome [the party notices that now and then the dome flickers and seems to do small shifts or spins].

.


The party dispatches the twins and their tentacles.  The skin of the CBT seems less tricky to cleave than the skin of the TTM [traditional tentacle monster].  Dworm investigates the dome and finds a wand with wires leading out of it.  When he uses his newfangler kit to snip the wires, the dome vanishes [but fortunately not him nor the wand].  



The party picks apart the bodies of the two monsters and finds the bishop of Thoth, Ka-tet, was correct and they are full of precious metals.  Their nervous systems are heavily laden with gold, to the tune of about 2000 gp [total].


The grave Ilduul is digging is finalized and all the bullywugs and other chunks of flesh laid to rest in a mound in the middle of the village.  Hal finds water skins and provisions in the huts including jerky he tests on Oleg first [should the druid take a good long look and sniff and maybe a taste, Iduul will conclude it’s fly jerky].  The party stands at the center of a small village of about ten huts, now completely abandoned.


Thursday, August 04, 2022

August 4, Dungeons and Dragons Recap

August 4, 2022

Days: 2


Group heads back to town.  They’re a little beat up, so not looking for trouble.  Folks stop at the Tipsy Bullywug to have some dinner and beer and mead.  Oleg bums a steak off Wing under the pretext he saved Wing’s life twice.  Ilduul makes a brief stop at Wilbur the Weaponsmith’s place for a cheap bow [same price as a steak, 1 gp].


Hal sings the Ballad of the Baby-Killing Orc to great applause.  He ponders staying at the inn, but the 2 gp for a room price is a bit steep.


The party finds some space at the Church of Thoth in the downstairs great room to rest.  Glaston notes that the bishop must be out at the moment.


Later that night, Oleg wakes up from a dream where someone is putting their tongue in his ear and another person is whispering to him, a whole chorus of “wake up”.  He awakes to a dome of light in the corner, his hat of tongues in his ear telling him to “wake up”, and some other voice urging him to do the same that is not the hat of tongues or a party member.


When everyone wakes up, they note that “Dween and Hammer” [Dworm and Glaston - Wing can’t remember their names] are missing and had been where the glowing dome is.  A shadowy man appears in the dome and looks about him declaring “Who is this?” at someone near his feet. He continues “Doesn’t matter.”  When asked his name he responds, “It matters Naught”, and throws a couple of weak magic arrows at the party and steps back into the dome.  As he leaves, a tentacled roughly 4’ tall x 6’ radius lump of grayish flesh slides out of the dome and attacks the party.  During the course of the fight, it tries to wrap the party members in jelly/eggy tipped tentacles, although when the main body is threatened, the tentacles try to block strikes.  Eventually the party, sans Dworm and Glaston, sever 13 tentacles.  Some seem to appear as others are dispatched.  A few [2] of the tentacles have small spear equipped bullywugs attached to their ends that seem to fight on the creature’s behalf [until put down].


Maybe the closest approximation of the tentacle monster, although the bottom more flat to the floor.


Within the dome of light, more waving shadows can be seen moving toward the party.  Oleg sees a hat with wires leading off it in the middle of the dome and stomps the hat viciously.  The dome of light vanishes.  Dworm and Glaston do NOT reappear.  The party, particularly Oleg and Hall, are very beat up and head to the bar to drink away their pain.  Oleg is sick of tongues in his ear and tentacles in his ear, and all other things in his ears.  He opines, “Are there any tongues in my ear?” to which Hal replies, “Not any more than there were before.”


In the bar the party asks the bullywug bartender about the bullywugs on the tentacles and about the hat, but no one seems to have any information and is amused about the tales of the hat-wearing tentacle monster in the basement of the church.  They urge the party to “get a little more drunk.”


XP

650 each [Oleg, Hal, Ilduul, Wing]

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Reading August 2022

Data Quality Masterclass on Udemy
Zombie Book
Data Arch book Kindle

Sunday, July 24, 2022

MS Ride Around Minnesota - Day 5

Two Harbors to Proctor.  The End.  It was a nice short ride, but a LOT of hills rolling through Duluth and then up Skyline to Proctor.  You could catch a bus to Enger Park/Enger Tower, but I think anyone who did that was still in for a surprise around the climb on the second half of the ride. It was in no way inconsiderable.  I think a few people traveled to the end and then pedaled to Enger and back, but I couldn't quite figure out how that was less hill, unless they were meeting a car at Enger.  Probably that.

There was one point, way over in this photo, where we were at the top of a hill in Duluth, and then they routed us down two blocks to avoid construction.  A nice little detour, but the resulting dip to get back up the hill was probably the toughest climb of the day.  It looked like someone had scooped a chunk out of the terrain with an ice cream scoop on my altimeter tracking.  I remember thinking if there was another 100' to go, I might have had to walk.


Ben, shortly before we got to Enger Tower and before we realized how much climb there was left.

The view of the Duluth Aerial Bridge from the tower.

Me on the ride. On the way to the end, someone going the other direction [MS rider] said "Hi, Scott".  Surprised the heck out of me.  I think someone was stalking me.  But you're with everyone for five days, so you do pick up a few names here and there, and you pick up a lot of the personalities sharing beer and music and pedal time.

Great ride and a fun route, even if it was challenging on day one and day five.  Thanks to Ben for riding with me and Forlorn Fenders.  It was great to have a friend along to swap stories and catch up on old and new times.

MS Ride Around Minnesota - Day 4

Biwabik to Two Harbors.  Perhaps my favorite day of the ride.  Big tail wind.  Mostly downhill.  Lots of mostly empty road.  Really a pleasure.  We averaged about 12.7 mph that day compared to the 10 mph on other days.

I did end up messing up my left shoulder just a little before the ride even started.  As we were leaving Biwabik, the luggage truck pulled up and was trying to back up to where the luggage was.  But people kept walking up and a car parked immediately behind it so it couldn't move.  Ben and I eventually go the car owner to move, but it was too late.  Much of the luggage was piled up inside the fence.  So I hopped up on the truck and Ben and others hauled things over.  I was fine until someone handed me a Duluth backpack/rucksack that must have weighed 80 pounds. I ended up leaving it right near the truck door so the next person wouldn't have to move it far.  That thing was killer.

Yet, despite the tail wind, relative downhill, and general coolness, it was a lot of work, so Ben made sure we stopped short of the finish line at the park to avail ourselves of the local ice cream shop [The 5th Street Malt Shoppe].  He probably really feels like he looks in that photo.  My banana shake really hit the spot.


Ben popped into Lake Superior for a bit and lost my cologned plastic bag to a guy who needed a dog poop bag.  Then met me over at Castle Danger for a few beers after we'd both found coffee elsewhere. My cup of coffee was the worst I've ever had.  I asked for black.  The cashier said "menu only".  So I ordered an americano.  It looked like it had a touch of brown food coloring in it, and tasted the same, for five dollars. The beer made up for it.

Afterwards we perused Back Forty Books.  I can't recommend that place enough.  Great owner.  Just a fantastic guy to talk to about books, local art, a bit of local history, and more.  Then headed over to Northshore Pizza and Coffee House.  Their sausage is sourced locally.  That was some amazing pizza.  Our only complaint was we should have known to pick up the pizza or have it delivered to Castle Danger to mix our bad habits.

I've got the next three photos out of order, and I'm not going to fix it.  We went to the team festivities: best t-shirt and best team song.  The No MS-ing Around women did a rousing version of Billy Joel's Piano Man to alternate lyrics.  Two of the team members [including Road Rash, the only one whose name I remember] occasionally did exaggerated harmonica movements which were hilarious.  The black flies had come out a few days earlier and I was doing this little dance to keep them off my ankles.  One of the organizers/volunteers brought me specific bug spray that was optimized for black flies.  Life saver.  I had hoped the socks I bought at the Northshore Coffee House were going to keep the flies off me [see below, the raccoon wants you to pull his finger], but they were capable of biting right through the cloth.

We finished up the evening by walking out to the pier/dock/thing to see a boat being loaded and talk to other tourists about the area and the MS ride.

Best jersey competition.  Not No MS-ing Around, who were the winners.

The aforementioned woefully not-black-fly-proof socks.  

MS Ride Around Minnesota - Day 3

Day 3 - Chisholm to Biwabik.  Pronounced Bye-wab-ick by the locals.  Because they all immigrated from Wabik and one day hope to emigrate to Triwabik [I will admit, I already made a similar joke on Twitter].  I thought the most difficult part of the ride was the second thirty miles.  As we hit the midway point you could chose to cut it short or do the designated thirty mile loop.  When we got to the loop it had just started misting.  The next seventeen miles or so got progressively wetter and progressively more wind in your face.  A tough ride.  I was glad it warmed up later so my shoes would dry out hanging on a fence.

At a midway stop at the Lutheran church one of the volunteers was wearing a submarine service jacket her grandfather had given her.  She wasn't sure what boat he'd served on or if he'd been to my dad's reunion in Wisconsin the week earlier.

A stop at Grant Position and Mine to send to a coworker.  You can see my bike in this photo obviously.  I didn't think a packed pack would slow me down, but with a few bottles of water in there I could definitely feel it whenever there was a steep hill.  That insulated pack is heavy.  I should perhaps find a non-insulated one that weighs a third.


Ben taking a selfie and getting the Tom Rukavina Memorial Bridge in the background.  It's the tallest bridge in Minnesota.

We got to pedal across it not long afterwards.

It is quite the drop.
 

When we rolled into town it started to get sunnier.  We grabbed a quick lunch at Carlson's Pasty and Sausage Kitchen.  They were out of pasties, but had shredded porchetta sandwiches.  Delicious.  Amazing.  Strong recommendation and I hear the pasties are even better.  We topped it off with a beer at Luke's Bar and talked to Luke for a while.  On a return visit we met a lot of locals.

Festivities were in the town park, although they ran out of the BBQ chicken within like 18 minutes.  This is me and Honk the Moose.  A local celebrity.

 

I felt clever for realizing that if there was going to be a band, then the gazebo had to be powered.  I managed to read in the shade and charge up my phone, and then served as roadie in charge of plugging in the single cord later when the band showed up.


This old guy, who reminded me of Grandpa Harry, could really shred that thing.  Some wild solos.  There was a guy at Luke's who'd started drinking with us at 1 p.m. and showed up for the music at 6 p.m. and he may not have ever quit drinking.  He engaged in energetic dancing that included sky fist thrusting, fist pumping, Thor/MCU fist to the ground and a knee posing, and all sorts of other heavily fist heavy dance moves. We sort of expected to see him laying there in the park the next morning.

By the way, side observation, the police in Biwabik need more A/C in their bathroom and thicker toilet paper.  These should be priorities over the armed-forces style armored police assault vehicle we saw in a parking lot on the way to Biwabik.


My sister was worried I was shaming these women. I am not.  But I was reminded of a video I took at the St. Paul Bike Classic back in 2006.  It was a very small town, but we had a good time and a great night's sleep.
Biwabik Dancing Video

MS Ride Around Minnesota 2022 - Day 2

Day 2 was a loop ride.  They didn't used to do a loop, but started the last time I rode three years ago and it was a big hit.  A little bit of overlap, but no packing up the tent or supplies.  You just rotate back to where you started at.  In this case, the Minnesota Mining Museum in Chisholm.

Ben and I were up early, and worried about the rain forecast.  But amazingly, we missed almost every drop.  For the most part we were just where the rain wasn't.

Before I forget, here's a link to all the detailed maps: https://ridewithgps.com/events/163808-2022-bike-ms-ride-across-minnesota.

Given the weather cooled off dramatically, I was willing to putter around a bit more.  Here's the start of the day at the castle in the middle of the museum.  That fake mine I talked about yesterday is just over the hill to the right.  A number of people camped behind the castle in a small, secluded field because it was so quiet and dark compared to almost anywhere else.


The only photo I really took during the day.  A lot of time on the trails and winding between the iron ore/mining pits that are now lakes and mountains in the area.  Most of the trails have a nearby ATV trail system as well.  I took this photo so I could show it to the Bosnian folks I work with to give them an idea of why we have so much iron ore mining in northern Minnesota.

The big truck.  Venue for music and for changing your t-shirt behind the tires if you work the beer garden because no one can see you back there.  Music on Day 2, after we found dinner and beer at Jim's again, was a guitarist from Buehl.  He played much less Billy Joel.  One of the MS riders got up to play  Angel From Montgomery at Ben's request.  He said he could only do it "Bonnie Raitt" style, but still, solid.  At the very end of the entertainment, the beer garden decided they really didn't want to haul around the beer and offered two for one.  A deal.  But unlike my rides with Ming, Ben and I probably drank enough beer calories to wash away our exercise gains.  

There are a LOT more Day 2 photos at the album on Flickr, although mostly of the museum.  https://flickr.com/photos/nodtonothing/albums/72177720300753603  Chisholm is proud of its connection to Field of Dream via Moonlight Graham.

An old Greyhound bus.  There's a whole Greyhound Bus Museum in the area.  We went right past it, but it was before hours.  I can't imagine that's everyone's cup of tea, but given my age, I spent more than my fair share of cross country time on one as a kid.

I like whatever this machine is.  It seems like something that should have been turned into kinetic art at the museum of industry and science.

SELFIE STREAM....
Me on a caboose.

Me in a mining car/truck.

Me almost pretending to be Paul Bunyan's dick.  Needed to move a little to my left and remove my hat to take advantage of the mostly shaved head.  He's shorter than I expected.  Mostly, he reminded me of Axe Giant: The Wrath of Paul Bunyan that I went to at the Trylon with Kyle.

Had the storms gotten any worse, this would have been the best place to hide.  Although I don't know if it's insulated from lightning.  So maybe it would have been the worst place to hide.

This display reminded me of all the little animated kiosks in Columbia in Bioshock: Infinite.  Even the title sounds like something from that game.


Not my bike.  Or Ben's bike.  I was on my sport/hybrid, and Ben was on a fatter tired hybrid.  We only saw one other bike with his configuration.  Lot of road friction for him.  Most folks were on road bikes like these, although surprisingly not leaving us hours behind each day.  I think we got out a little earlier and maybe spent less time at the rest stops, other than to pound a bottle of water and some gorp.

MS Ride Around Minnesota 2022 - Day 1

Day 1 was from Proctor to Chisholm, Minnesota.  The summary of the whole day is "hot and humid".  It wasn't as bad as the first night of the RAGBRAI that Ming, Adam, and I went to where I laid in my tent naked, arms spread, sweating all night.  But at least in that case it broke by morning.  This was more 90F and humidity all day during an 83 mile ride.  By the time we got to Chisholm, the combination of the heat, humidity, and a low grade burn meant I was not cooling off.

Ben is in the yellow at one of the rest stops.  There wasn't much to see between the two overnight towns, so I'm glad MS is so good about setting up rest stops.  At the first one they fed us wraps.  A treat that probably kept me fueled up during the long, hot day.  Did I say it was long and hot...and humid?  


There's a Meadowlands Park in my own hood, so this is a pretty amusing photo. Looks like if my neighborhood went ghost town or post apocalyptic.

We were on the Mesabi trail quite a bit both on day 1 and the loop on day 2.  Ben liked this particular stretch for obvious reasons.

The Minnesota Museum of Mining opened their grounds to us for camping.  Great place.  Beautiful grounds.  Walking distance from bars.  Outlets to charge phones.  Lots to see.

One of the best ways to cool off was by hiding in this faux mine behind the castle.  As you went down the stairs, the temp dropped to absolutely chilly.  No one went in there for the most part, so I cycled back to try and break my sweats a few time.  I literally fell asleep on a little bench at the bottom for a bit and when I woke up I was sort of surprised I hadn't toppled over onto the cement.

This is Paul Bunyan's marble.  Ben was pretty sure it was his testicle, although he didn't say which one.

This reminded me of when Flash Gordon sticks his hand in the holes in the movie. There are a lot of houses in the area that have some variation of a rock with a drill hole in it as decoration.


Our tents - Ben on the left, me on the right.  Nice view of the train.  Nice cover under the trees [and it did rain and we had to pack up wet, but we didn't have giant rivers of water or lakes, the needles absorbed most of it].  My wife would not have liked the spider population that lived in the pines.  I kept scooping them up and moving them out of the tent after I threw in a bag or climbed in.

We had dinner at Jim's Sports Club Bar and Grill just down the street.  Tom and Jerry's was nearby as well, but I saw a sign that Jim's was sponsoring the all class reunion, and based on what seemed like an act of good will, we picked Jim's.  The rule was if there was no A/C however, we were walking right back out.  It was a good place to eat and drink and rest from the heat.  Huge portions.  Cooked right.  And when my beer encountered end-of-keg issues she comped me about 18 oz of beer while she changed up the tap.  We went back the next day [not a lot of places to eat right there unless you wanted pizza] we were so happy with the experience.

Ben found the entertainment before I did.  The "beer garden" and music tent.  Day 1 was a local guitarist/pianist with a penchant for Billy Joel songs.  A lot of Billy Joel songs.  Admittedly, he played the piano, so it fit.  We sort of caused a little bit of strife in Biwabik two days later when we joked to the band there as they were setting up about playing a Billy Joel medley.  They joked to the MS crowd and got some "ooooo"s because a few audience members knew someone was lightly dissing on the music two days earlier.  In our defense, that highlights how much Billy Joel there was.

As Ben says of this venue, where else can you see a concert in front of a giant truck?

There was one other place to cool off, although I didn't like it as much as the faux mine.  There was a diorama train museum on site, nicely chilled when the door wasn't opening and closing constantly. However, I'm a bit dubious about this little bit of racism/microaggression in the diorama.  I snapped a photo for Ming and my sister.  I think this guy was a foreign exchange student involved in laying the tracks [that's a joke for Ming].

Saturday, July 23, 2022

MS Ride Around Minnesota 2022 - Day Zero/0

This was the first year in....three....that I've done the MS Ride Across Around Minnesota [RAM] ride.  The last time was literally as I was heading into a new job.  My HR recruiter at the new company got me to sign on even though I was going to be gone the first week.  She wanted to lock me in and assured me, I'd still have vacation, by hook or by crook, later in the year.  Nine months later, I was on the plane home from a planning meeting in Providence seat to seat with college students from a dozen east coast schools being sent home as dorms closed their doors.  There was a virtual MS RAM in between. And then last year they had an in-person RAM, but I wasn't willing to attend yet.  I'm still not so sure it's safe with the new variant picking up more steam in Minnesota, but I seem to be unscathed.  Ming went last year, but didn't last long. I believe he was derailed by getting lost on the first day.  He couldn't go this year because of vacation allowance, but my friend Ben the School Teacher agreed to go as part of Forlorn Fenders.

I picked him up on the way to Proctor, MN, near Duluth.  When we got about two thirds of the way there, roughly two hours, I was kicking myself for not plugging in my phone because I'd been using it for directions.  That's when I realized I didn't have my phone cable.  That in and of itself wouldn't have been an issue, but it reminded me that the cable and my wallet had been in close proximity.  In the car.  But they weren't in the car.  They'd been on Ben's seat....so I probably picked them up.  Yeah, I'd had them in my hand when I grabbed  the bungie cords for the bike and I set them down.... uh oh....on the roof.  They definitely weren't still on the roof.

After a moment on angst and panic, Ben called a neighbor to do a search of the ditches, particularly where I would have turned the first corner.  I prepared to drive all the way back on a five hour round trip if anything was found after dropping Ben off at the campsite to get checked in so we didn't miss our window.  Forty dollars was found, and a few other stray items, but not a license or a credit card.  I called my kid and they took care of canceling my credit card.  We drove on and reached out to my folks.  My mom was heading toward the cabin and not only brought me money and a spare credit card, but bought Ben and I dinner [yum, Walley breakfast] at Tobie's in Hinckley.  Situation saved.  I didn't have to get more creative with asking a friend to bring me money and having my wife Venmo them immediately, or my wife hauling herself to Proctor the next day.  Older than fifty/50 and still being bailed out by my mommy.  Props to my pops for coordinating some of the calls while we tried to negotiate the timelines.  So appreciated.

We set up at the raceway in Proctor.  We were actually pretty happy to go get the free dinner and cash because we didn't have to listen to the car races.  They were LOUD.  By the time we were getting back, the last of the car trailers were pulling out.

We thought we found a good spot to camp, but what you can't see in this photo is the light post we didn't account for that kept the tents fairly bright all night long.  That might have come in handy when a storm rolled through around 4 a.m. to wake everyone up with big winds.  I don't know if it was the barometric pressure or something else, but I managed to get to the porta potty and almost back in my tent just before the first rain drops started to fall  My getting up woke Ben up as well, so he avoided being soaked as well.  I learned my tent isn't oceanic capable as the water pooled under an area near where my feet were and seeped in a bit.  It was easy enough to pull my legs up and sleep all tucked up, but that had a definite affect on how comfortable I was riding on day one.

My sister and nieces have used my tent a few times for the boundary waters and it's really starting to show it's age.  But it's holding up well once my sister bought me an extra set of stakes after the RAGBRAI crowd wandered off with over half of them.


These are the route captures for all the days.  This seems like a good place to capture those.

So, Proctor to Chisholm.

Chisholm Loop, as we now do one day where we don't pack up.

Chisholm to Biwabik.

Biwabik to Two Harbors

Two Harbors to Proctor.

I'm missing one small section that was less than a mile where we went from the campsite to the coffee/staging area.  I've added it in the totals.

TOTALS:

  • Mileage: 296.68 [dang, I really thought we'd made 300]
  • Hours: 27.29 [I never turn off the odometer, so that includes rest stops, climbing to the top of Henger, etc.  We did average pretty close to 10 mph with stops most days, although the fourth day we picked up some velocity]
  • Ascent [as separate from descent]: 7322' [not quite a mile and a half]

The best part about the four a.m. storm was it cleared out by the time it was ready to ride.  Little did we know how hot and humid it would be.  But pretty at pack up and take off time.

Day one begins.  Ben and I lugging our luggage to the truck, ready to start five days of cycling.