Category Archives: Uncategorized

the nicest compliment

In case you didn’t already know this about me, I administer a web forum called SCDSsupport.org, which is the world’s largest online group for sufferers of SCDS. Because of this, I get a lot of emails from people about the disease — some who have it, some who want to join the (private) forum to talk about it with others, and so on.

Most days it’s just tech support, helping people reset their passwords, deleting duplicate posts when someone hits the Send button 20 times, etc. And like all tech support it’s usually very thankless.

But one SCDS patient who was in particularly bad shape physically and emotionally found me a few months ago and I’ve been giving him advice through the process of choosing a doctor, getting surgery, etc. I’m not going to mention his name, but I do want to share the nicest “thank you” note I think I’ve ever received. You get a real sense of how desperate this person was. I have a day job where I’m pretty certain after 25 years I’m never going to get a standing ovation, but at least I can get one in other parts of my life.

Here’s the email:

Thank you so much Todd.

Without your help I wouldn’t have known what to do. You kept me from losing my mind. I was on the verge of breaking down & locking down & giving up. I’m glad I was able to find Dr. _____ from your referral. I to did not want to lose my balance because I have another 30 years to work before I can retire. If I make it that long. Lol, this was the only thing I wanted to try. I don’t care to much for round window reinforcement but there has got to be a good reason why it’s done in combination with resurfacing. Other than that I’m very happy. I still have some healing to do so I hope some more hearing comes back & I get less crackle & pop from the ear. I believe it’s the packing gel dissolving. I barely hear the pulse in my head on left side. No more drinking my self to sleep day after day.

God bless you Todd and thank you so much. You changed my life I am very humbled and grateful.

script to make a pile of Zeros – pile-o-zeros.bash

I’m delving into a role playing game called Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game (DCC RPG) by Goodman Games. It’s got a unique character creation philosophy. Instead of spending a bunch of time crafting your perfect 1st level character, you create a pile of throwaway 0-level characters, sometimes called “Zeros”. Then, to kick off a campaign, you put these piles of Zeros through an introductory adventure called a “funnel”. The ones that live become 1st level characters you can become more attached to. Mortality is high in DCC, especially for Zeros. That’s why you make a lot of them. Often, a player will go through his first 3 or 4 Zeros in the first session, and the judge (what DCC calls a DM) can give him or her more. It’s sorta like Paranoid, in a way. High fun, high death rates. TPKs are not uncommon.

Well, the fine people at Purple Sorcerer wrote a web app that generates Zeros, four at a time. Then you can print out this page of four Zeros, cut them up, and then enter the funnel. Well, I’m prepping to run a funnel adventure at a local game shop, and so I’m going to need a lot of Zeros, like 50 to 70 of them. But I didn’t want to hassle with generating them on the Purple Sorcerer website one page at a time. So I wrote this little script.

It’s a bash script, and it only runs on a relatively recent Mac that’s on the internet. But it works for me, and so I’m putting here in case it works for you. If you run it without any command line arguments it’ll generate 20 pages of characters. That’s 80 Zeros total. Or you can specify a different number of pages as a command line option.

If you don’t know anything about using or running bash scripts on your Mac, here’s a quickstart:

1) Copy the text of the script below


#!/bin/bash
#
# This bash script will generate and download a bunch of DCC RPG 0-level character
# sheets, and then concatenate them into a single big PDF. It only works on a Mac.
#
# This only works on MacOS. Actually it only works on versions 10.4 or greater, but
# I'm going to assume that anyone with OS X is using a recent enough version.
#
# Written by Todd Bradley (todd@toddbradley.com)
# Thanks to Purple Sorcerer for the awesome character generator app
#
if [ "`uname`" != "Darwin" ]
then
	echo "This only runs on Mac OS X. Sorry."
	exit
fi

# If the user doesn't specify the number of pages, generate 20 of them.
pages=20

case "$1" in
	--help|-h)
		echo "Usage: $0 [N] where N is the number of pages of characters you want."
		exit
		;;
	*)
		pages=$1
		;;
esac

echo "Now generating ${pages} pages of characters, 4 to a page."

for i in `seq 1 ${pages}`;
do
	curl -# -o sheet.${i}.pdf "http://purplesorcerer.com/create.php?oc=rulebook&hp=normal&mode=3d6"
done

"/System/Library/Automator/Combine PDF Pages.action/Contents/Resources/join.py" -o dcc-zeros.pdf sheet.*.pdf

rm sheet.*.pdf
echo "Your ${pages} pages of character sheets are now in the file dcc-zeros.pdf"
open dcc-zeros.pdf

2) Open Terminal

3) Type the following at the Terminal prompt

cd ~
cat > pile-o-zeros.bash

4) Now paste in the text you copied, and hit Ctrl+D

5) You should have the command prompt back, so type: chmod +x pile-o-zeros.bash

6) Now you can run it, with a command like this:

./pile-o-zeros.bash

or

./pile-o-zeros.bash 4

It’ll build the number of pages of Zeros that you specify, concatenate them into one big PDF, and open that in Preview.

Kansas, Here We Come!

Since my last post here, a lot has happened.  The short story is we sold the house, sold (or gave away) nearly everything we owned, and left Broomfield.  Here’s the long story.

First, let me apologize that it’s been so long since I wrote an entry here.  If you’ve never been through the exercise, you have no idea what it’s like to clear out an entire house full of 15 years of accumulated possessions.  It has been the busiest and most stressfull few weeks in our relationship.  Ideally, I would have documented the whole process better, but there was just no time for anything except preparing for the move.  I sure hope things get better now.

Looking back to the last update, we had just received a 3rd offer on the house.  The offer was for $10,000 more than our asking price, which was awesome.  Someone offering us MORE than we asked for?  What a pleasant surprise in today’s market.  Fortunately, a buyer found us who appreciated all the special touches our house has that most in the price range lack – new modern kitchen, good landscaping, awesome views, etc.  However, the inspection turned up quite a few things the buyer wanted us to fix.  I think in the end we hired 6 different companies to address various items from their list – mudjacker to lift the garage floor, roofer to add better ventilation to the attic, mold remediators to remove mold from the attic, appliance repair to fix the burner on the stove that wouldn’t automatically light, and a foundation specialist to do epoxy injection in some cracks in the basement wall.  All that added up to about $8000, and dealing with them all was – on some days – a full time job.  But still we came out a couple grand ahead.

Meanwhile, we had the challenge of downsizing fast and severely.  Because our house was so big, it had a lot of room for stuff to just accumulate.  We had boxes and boxes of books, furniture, the remains of my home recording studio, and so on.  We had two moving sales, sold a lot of things on Craigslist, gave away a lot of things to friends and passers-by, and donated the rest.  It would have been a lot easier if we weren’t such treehuggers.  I think most Americans would just have rented a giant trash bin, filled it up, and sent it to the landfill.  But we did things the environmentally sound way, and recycled everything it’s possible to recycle.  That took a LOT of extra time (and money).  Knowing most of you don’t care about the gory details, I’ll just leave it at that.

Out of everything we owned, we ultimately had to sort it into three groups – stuff to get rid of (by sale, gift, donation, or trash), stuff that has to go in the Prius with us, and stuff that we want to keep in storage.  We rented a storage unit out in Brighton for this.  Why Brighton?  Well, it’s a lot cheaper than the one in Broomfield.  And we knew that once we left Broomfield, there’s no point to having a storage unit near where we USED to live.

The storage unit got fuller than I expected, since we were sort of lax on our standard to put only irreplaceable mementos there.  We ended up with some furniture, books, kitchen ware, etc. too.  I was totally convinced we’d need a luggage rack to go on top of the car to fit everything we had, but someone everything we’re traveling with all fits (with effort) into the hatchback of the Prius.

I do expect that we will jettison a few things along the way, and the car will get easier to pack as time goes on.  For example, I need to find a way to squeeze more of my video gear into a smaller number of bags.  And we need to find a more compact camping bedroll for Beth.  Plus, some of the things we’re taking with us are just going as far as Kansas City, where they will stay at Beth’s sister’s house.

The closing on the house was June 22, 2011.  And for some reason we thought the contract said we have to be out of the house immediately so the buyer can take possession.  So the last two days leading up to that were frantic and stressful.  We expected to have to spend an all-nighter hauling stuff to storage, etc.  But then we found that we had the wrong impression and the contract doesn’t have the buyer taking possession until noon on the 25th.  A welcome reprieve!  So we took an extra day and a half and were able to deal with all the remaining things much more sensibly.

The extra time helped in some other unexpected ways, too.  Beth got very sick the day before closing and needed a lot of rest.  And I had a couple of medical issues that my doctor really wanted to sort out before I left town, which meant some special tests at the hospital.

But closing happened as planned on the 22nd.  The buyer is a nice woman in her (I would guess) late 20s or early 30s, who is a school teacher.  The meeting took a couple hours, and then we spent another hour or so on loose ends related to that. It’s an awesome feeling to be debt free AND have a six-digit checking account balance.

The day after closing, we wrapped up all the loose ends (including yet another trip to Boulder to take in some more recycling) and then did a final packing of the car.  This time, unlike our dry run, everything did NOT fit in the car.  And so our first stop was the UPS Store where we shipping some things ahead of us to KC where we’ll deal with them.  But by 4:15 PM, we left Broomfield for parts east.Getting such a late start – and having such an early morning due to my hospital visit – we didn’t want to drive too far.  So we stopped in LImon for supper and then in Burlington to stay the night.  And that’s where I’m writing this long blog article to catch you all up.

Since I get asked this on Facebook about 6 times a day, our current destination is Kansas City.  We’ll stay there about a week, and then head northwest to Missoula.  That’s the first of the twelve cities, and we plan to live there from July 10 to August 10.  So, even though we’re finally on the road, the “12 Cities, 1 Year” adventure hasn’t really started yet.  This is sort of the warm-up for it, I guess.

several more big steps forward

It’s been a monumental week for the “12 Cities, 1 Year” project.

The week started by getting a third offer on our house.  This was better than either of the first two, and the only thing we didn’t like about it was a couple of the dates.  So we made a counter-offer with dates that worked better for us, and the buyer quickly accepted.  So the house is now under contract, with a closing date of June 22, 2011. The buyer will take possession of the house immediately after closing, which means we will start our great adventure immediately.

Now that we know when we’re leaving town, I was able to decide my last day as an employee of Polycom.  That will be the Friday before our closing (June 17), so I have the weekend and two more days to tie up any remaining loose ends.  With a final date of employment picked, I wrote a resignation letter to my boss and gave it to him Friday morning.  It’s plenty of advance notice.  But without a letter of resignation, I don’t think he can open a position to backfill me.  And since I’m such a nice and loyal employee, I want to give him as much time as possible to find and interview candidates.  Who knows, maybe I’ll even interview the person who’s taking over my job.

Looking at a calendar, we have just five weeks left in Colorado, and six weekends (including the current one).  So we’re planning to have a garage sale next Saturday.  We may need to have another one later, too.  We have a lot of things to accomplish in the next five weeks – downsizing our possessions, figuring out what to do with our mail once we don’t have a regular address, renting a storage unit somewhere, packing all our remaining possessions, and having at least one big going away party with friends.

It’s all very exciting, but also stressful.  I can’t wait for it to all be over, and to be on the road headed east.

Who wants what?

We’ve shifted gears from 1st to 2nd on our downsizing efforts.  Basically, we gotta get rid of 95% of what we own in the next couple of months.  2% will be going with us on the journey, and 3% will be going into storage.

Tiffany, a friend of ours, is doing the legwork to unload stuff through Craigslist.  She takes photos of the items, writes up the description, posts the ad to CL, and then attempts to weed out flakes that write back but don’t seem likely to buy.  Then she passes the legitimately interested buyers onto us.  If an item doesn’t sell, she reposts it, and sometimes changes the wording or lowers the price to get more interest.  And in return, she gets a percentage of the sale price as her fee.

We’re also thinking of having a big party sometime where people can come help us clear out the liquor cabinet (I think I have 5 bottles of good tequila of various types), and then wander around the house to see what they might want to take home with them.  It’ll be like a curated garage sale with friends and margaritas.  Sound like a good idea?  Wanna get invited?  Just leave a comment and we’ll be sure to add you to the guest list.

But, there’s also a bunch of stuff in the house that friends and family members have been putting dibs on.  Like one friend wants our awesome Dyson vacuum cleaner when we don’t need it anymore.  And Mom wants a dresser we have that her father built.  And that brings me to the real purpose of this blog post.  This page has The Dibs List:

http://12cities1year.com/the-dibs-list

If you want to get on The Dibs List, leave a comment on it!

Spam and Facebook

Well, I guess the blog comment spammers have found this little start of a website.  We got a bunch of comment spam yesterday.  So I set up Akismet.  Hopefully that will keep the wolves at bay.

I also set up a link to Facebook.  So in theory, when we post a new article here, it’ll automatically show up on the “12 Cities, 1 Year” Facebook page.  Let’s see if that works!

(I apologize to those of you already reading this through RSS, since you’ll probably see another test post before this one)

 

Visual TFC Map Guide

tfcmaps/Well, I moved over the screen shots from Team Fortress Classic that made up “|30+|Dr. Ebola’s Visual TFC Map Guide” on my old website. They’re now a photo album in Gallery2 here on my new site.

By the way, I’ve just been using it a few days, but so far I’m quite pleased with Gallery2. It’s an open source photo management system that does a lot of what Flickr does, but doesn’t cost anything. It took a while to get it integrated well with WordPress, but it’s working pretty well now.

BBC NEWS | South Asia | Pakistan ‘destroys al-Qaeda base’

This is outstanding! The Pakistanis have “arrested more than 20 suspected militants near the Afghan border and seized a Chinese-made spy plane used to track army movements.” Now take a look at the photo of the “spy plane”:

And now, take a look at the HobbyZone Aerobird Xtreme:

So Pakistan is now considering a $180 toy airplane to be a “spy plane”? I wonder what the Patriot Act has to say about that. I expect the feds to come round up my neighbor any day now. He’s a big remote control plan fanatic.