Teaching

I can no longer remember his name, but for two years, where I attended East Middle School in my home town, I regularly took Industrial Arts classes with a guy that made a real difference in my life. I can’t recall his name, but I can clearly see him in my mind’s eye. He was tall, lanky and perpetually wore a beard and safety glasses. He also taught me how to turn a lath, pour molten metal using a couple of casting techniques, as well as several sorts of welding.

Back then I was in love with learning, mostly because of its nature. Concept applied to things I could understand or wanted to know more about. Each semester I had to come up with a new project for that Industrial Arts program and I can recall it consuming me even before the classes began.

My friend Michael Glane is teaching some heavy concepts through demonstration. I watched this video and felt moved to experiment myself.

Bite Me Apple

Last night, during a typical Pacific Northwestern wind storm, the transformer for our neighborhood popped and power has been subsequently out of service for the duration. Fortunately, I was awake to witness the power outage and then turned off all my devices which I had recently charged.

This morning, after locating a coffee shop with juice and wi-fi, I came back home intending to top everything off using my handy dandy Suntactics sCharger-12 High Performance Solar Charger. I opened some blinds, plugged my standard issue Apple certified lightning cable into the PV panel and my iPhone 5s and was surprised when, for the first time ever, iOS 8 let me know that I wasn’t using a certified cord.

Just to be perfectly clear, the chord in question **is** an Apple product. The cord came in the box with the phone. The problem is likely the product of their proprietary MFi chip detecting a voltage drop specific to the PV panel or fluctuation caused by periodic cloud cover. But here in lies the biggest problem with black box bullshit development. Someone at Apple decided that they could make a bit more money to add to their heaps of the stuff if they embedded a fairly stupid method of ensuring that you only charge your phone using their proprietary system.

The license is for the cable, not the power source. Their detection method is too dumb to know the difference and thus it pushes good people (like me) into a situation where they have to do bad things. Right now I’m looking for ways to hack the fuck out of this system so that I am no longer subject to its ridiculousness. I’m doing this on a limited charge, doing my best MattGyver impression, in the hope that I can bump my battery while the sun still shines. Here comes the next big, mean, dark cloud.

Comrade Vladimir

Vladimir is a retribution melee caster (magic tank) who waits for targets to come to him before metering out spine crushing damage. He is built to soak up everything the opposition can give him and pound them for trying.

Lore: Comrade Vladimir was a naval infantry hero of the Red Rustok-Nestra conflict who became first among equals by crushing all enemy resistance. After the war Red Rustok scientists took advantage of the great bear’s physique and used their cutting edge science to augment him for the Greater Glory of the People’s State.

Vladimir has journeyed to the Fields of Strife to demonstrate to the galaxy the State’s unquestionable superiority. With augmentation of ice, fire, and his own brand of bone crushing might he will best all those who oppose the Red Rustok State.

Early test sketch of Vladimir

Q: Freeze and Thaw (90)

Vladimir swipes ice with his right paw and fire with his left. This attack hits targets within a 180º radius in front of him. Targets are momentarily slowed as the ice chills them to the bone and then their movement speed is increased slightly when the fire paw hits them.

Damage 100/110/120/140%

Cool down: 11 seconds

W: Panic Roar (100)

The great bear roars and all targets in his immediate vicinity temporally are struck with fear. NPCs cannot move or fight, heroes afflicted cannot move, but can still attack.

Panic: 1.5/2.0/2.2/3.0

Cool down: 15 seconds

E: Furnace of Rage (50)

The gray bear drops a barrier of brimstone from his furnace which surrounds him in protective fire. All incoming damage is reduced by 35% for the duration. Enemies that attack Vladimir while the barrier is active take 50/60/70/90 damage and suffer movement slow. Additional hits incur progressive 5% damage increase.

Cool down: 16 seconds

R: Red Blizzard (130)

A large area around Vladimir is engulfed in a momentary blizzard. Targeted area deals 140/185/230 physical damage and applied a 70% movement slow.

Enemies that hit Vladimir during this time receive an additional 75/100/125 damage and bonus slow. Additional hits incur progressive 5% damage increase.

Cool down: 90 seconds

Hadiya the Werehippo

EDIT: (10.10.14) – Zane Kinney did a really cool concept piece using Hadiya. Fear the hippo!

EDIT (10.9.14) – A little feed back and a little more thought later I’ve changed a little about the way Hadiya works. Chomp and Charge to Shore have been sketched as well.

The werehippo on the warpath Hadiya is an aggressive melee hero who can dish a beating and soak plenty of damage. Her skills provide mobility and crushing direct damage and she can stand up to the worst of physical attacks. Hadiya dances, spins, and crushes the opposition.

Hadiya is from a distant race of swamp dwellers who call the mangroves of Nigetia home. The Nigetians trained her in their fighting style, which looks remarkably like a dance, so that she could represent their far culture in the Trials of Strife. She spent her childhood dedicated to this one cause. On the eve of her passage to the trials she was cursed by the hag Nikto and now must integrate the hippo spirit that inhabits her body into her fighting style. She learned to let the hippo emerge at just the right moment on the threshold of the Trials.

Q: Chomp (80)

Hadiya quickly sends forth her hippo form three times. Any target caught in the attack cone takes damage and is pulled close to her.

90/100/110/120% damage.

Cooldown: 12 seconds

W: Restlessness (120)

Grants Hadiya 90 bonus move speed and 10% damage reduction. After 3 seconds, deals 80,105,130,155 magic damage to nearby enemies and stuns for 1,1.25,1.5,1.75 seconds.

Cooldown: 15 seconds

E: Thick Skin (0)

Passively grants stacking shield against physical damage equal to 4,4.5,6.5,9% of Hadiya’s maximum health on ability use. Shield last 6 seconds

Cooldown: 0 seconds

R: Charge to shore (140)

Target direction to charge. Any unit encountered in the path is dealt 140,180,220 physical damage and is pushed to the side of Hadiya’s destination.

If an obstacle is encountered enemies take 50% additional damage and a 0.8 second stun.

Cooldown: 60 seconds

Getting Out There

Race to Alaska

I have been toying with an idea for a while now, since before my appearance at DetCon1 last July actually. Human powered endurance sports tend to exist on the bleeding edge of materials science and efficient design. I like to use this in my science fiction writing because it is not much of a stretch to imagine pushing these two contributing factors just a little bit further in the pursuit of glories we already seek.

Today I realize that when I was much younger and had far fewer responsibilities I was living an optimal science fiction life style. Working on the White River National Forest as a back country wilderness guard was the beginning of my pursuit of an ultralight backpack. That first summer I showed up with a huge haul ruck for mountaineering and enough extra stuff that I walked out on my first patrol loaded down with fifty or more pounds strapped to my back. I was young and stupid, but equally motivated by avoiding pain. As soon as that first trip came to a close I realized that I needed to shed weight and bulk rapidly. It was easy enough to repurpose lighter gear from the back of my Subaru hatchback and soon I was skipping down trails thirty-five miles a day. My consistent experimentation was rewarded with easier travels and more miles.

The rest of the family is down for some sleep, and I just got back from a run around the block. Now age is a governing factor in that equation. But I still envy those guys that do amazing distances under their own power.

Gavin McClurg and Will Gadd just flew the length of the Canadian Rockies vol-bivy style in thirty-five days. Heather Anderson powered out a sixty day Pacific Crest Trail thru hike. And the venerable Jefe Branham bike-packed the Divide in sixteen days and change. When people at Geek Fan Expo asked me what are my favorite sports this weekend my reply was “anything single-stage, self-supported.”

My problem is that, while I enjoy watching others do amazing things, doing so fills my pants with ants. Tour the Divide has been an itching welt on my conscious for quite some time. So too each and every PCT segment and thru hike record on the books. Writing about these kinds of things only helps for a little while.

And when I get a bug for long distance races they are very difficult to squish. Right now I’m thinking about how I might enter Race to Alaska. From my seat at this desk I’ve got less than a year to get back into long distance shape for a crossing I should have attempted twenty years ago. Tomorrow the roof top tent goes on the block to generate some seed money and right now I’m trying to calculate my realistic exercise speed given calm conditions.

Ten days. Can I afford that time? Can I afford the hours of training and the gear costs that would put me in a position to compete? Good grief I love and hate it when a mania like this takes hold.