Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Steampunk Mid-Week Motivation

Picture from The Looney Dm:

The Health Journey, Week 3

I have been incredibly ill for the last 3 days, which is to explain why this post is going up on Wednesday instead of Monday. As it is, I'm almost too exhausted to write it so I'm just going to post the numbers.

Starting weight: 316.8 lbs
Week 3 weight: 306 lbs

Total weight lost: 10.8 lbs

Pant size: 24

Nope, didn't get measurements done this week. Hopefully I'll be able to put up a longer post for week 4.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday Flash Fiction - Captain's Captive

The prisoners were laid out in rows in the hold of the ship, a layer of gas floated inches above their faces. A single figure moved among them, clad in heavy leathers and wearing a gas mask, looking more like a monster than a person.

As the figure stooped over each prisoner, it slipped a copper collar around each neck, holding the ends together until a puff of smoke indicated that the metal had fused together. Aside from the mark indicating who had captured them, the collars were blank, waiting to be inscribed with the name of the family or company who purchased them and their assigned duties. Most of the men here were destined for the mines, salt, coal or copper.

It hesitated as it stooped over the last body. It belonged to a woman, beautiful in the right circumstances, who had disguised herself as a man. It recognized her face and felt its heart speed up as it decided what to do. It could hear the hum of the engines and the fwap fwap fwap of the propellers as it reached slowly into its pocket and pulled out a different collar.

The collar was a white-gold etched with a delicate filigree. Where the copper collars could be taken off, this one never could.

Its hands shook slightly as it put the delicate collar around her neck. The owners name was already inscribed and the puff of smoke indicated the deed was done. Doubtless, she'd be a screaming fury when she woke up, but it didn't matter. She belonged to the captain now and, if he got his way, she'd never step foot off the airship.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Health Journey, Week 2

This week was definitely one with ups and downs. I had to have scans and tests done that were unpleasant at best and awful at the worst. I still have a bruise on my arm from the IV they gave me for a CT scan. My brother got the results back from a test he'd done the week before and they came back positive for thyroid cancer. He also proposed to his girlfriend (he'd been planning that for a while, apparently).

One of the things I learned this week is that I have a much stronger connection between food and my emotions than I thought. Most specifically, bad news and emotional stress have me reaching for the chocolate. More than once I found myself looking in the freezer for a pint of Ben and Jerry's Phish Food that I knew wasn't there. I didn't let myself go buy any, either, but that took a toll on my will power later in the week. By Saturday, my will power was shot and I fell off the wagon. I ate fatty, greasy foods and almost half of a sugar free pie and I hated myself for it.

So, I'm learning. This week I have resolved to learn a couple new things, the first being that I don't have to be strong all the time. Apparently, I went through passing a kidney stone without pain killers. There were days when I wanted to scream and cry because I hurt so bad but I sucked it up and soldiered on because, well, that's what women do. The second thing I'm going to learn this week is to do something when the stress hits. No, I'm not going to grab the Ben and Jerry's, but I might go for a walk, or roll out the yoga mat and just zen out.

I did try a couple of new, delicious and healthy recipes this week and I've been asked to share them. So, I will be making them again this week and posting them, complete with pictures.

Here are this weeks numbers:

Starting weight: 316.8 lbs
Week 2 weight: 309.8 lbs

Total weight lost: 6.6 lbs

current pant size 26

Yep, still not sharing measurements but will once they're lower.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Steampunk Sunday: Disney Princesses

I'll be honest, I have kind of a love/hate relationship with Disney and their Princesses. I've been known to sit in the theater and yell at the screen "No, no, you got it all wrong! You've changed the message entirely!" **coughcoughHerculescoughcough**

Of course, having said that, I love how each princess has a distinctive style. Using that as a base, I've seen a lot of beautiful princess fan art. I just really wish Princess had not become synonymous with Disney. 

I think my favorite has to be Tiana but Ariel as a pirate is pretty awesome, too. 

I just love the upside down death with this. 

Belle was always my favorite and I love this stained glass version.

Not sure how I feel about Ariel without any pants but Cinderella's dress is beautiful. 
I found most of today's pictures through Pinterest. I tracked down what original links I could but if you find one I missed, let me know and I'll add it.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Steampunk Mid-week Motivation

Picture courtesy of I'd Rather Be Killing Monsters

Yep, gotta admit, I do love gaming sometimes. And the chainsaw with plate mail? Maybe not exactly Steampunk but definitely in the same spirit.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Health Journey, Week 1

This week was one filled with doctor's visits, blood tests, other tests and editing. All in all, it was exhausting just being awake some days and I did have days where I just wanted to order a pizza and go back to bed.

Thankfully, I didn't do that.

Every doctor I saw this week wanted to know what my plan was to get my weight down. Nothing like having to explain, in detail, what your plan is to a bunch of health care professionals to put it all in perspective. They all approved the change in my diet, including my exit strategy when I've achieved the weight I want. My plan for adding exercise was a bit difficult to implement this week but I did expect to have challenges at first. Horrible pain in certain parts of your body will put anybody off wanting to dance.

One of my first goals was cutting out a lot of the sugar from my diet. Now, I'm not going to get rid of all of it, since fruits contain a lot of natural sugars and I'm planning to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, but I'm getting rid of as much of the refined sugars as I can. I considered this to be one of the biggest challenges I'm going to face and it has been. I love sugar. I love chocolate. Specifically, I love Reeses and Rolos and Snickers and M&Ms. Obviously, they're off the menu for the foreseeable future. That doesn't stop me from craving them and the cravings get bad sometimes, especially when it's been a rough day.

My solution?

Food substitutions! And occasionally giving in with a lower calorie choice. My solutions for this last week have been crunchy peanut butter on toast with a half cup of hot chocolate. The hot chocolate is surprisingly low calorie and the crunchy peanut butter satisfies the urge for something to sink my teeth into and enjoy eating.

So, are you ready for this weeks numbers?

Starting weight: 316.4 lbs
Week 1 weight: 312.8 lbs

Total weight lost: 3.6 lbs

Current pant size: 26

The measurements have not changed significantly since last week, and I don't expect them to for a while.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Steampunk Sunday: Steampunk Browser Game

Do you like puzzle games? Do you like browser games? If your answers were 'yes!', today's Steampunk feature will be a real treat.

It's a Steampunk browser game!

Published by ArmorGames, this is a fun little puzzle game that goes by the simple title of Steampunk.
Good guy vs Bad guy. 

It's a puzzle game with a fairly simple premise. Get the good guy to safety and the bad guy into the gears. You earn medals depending on how many clicks it takes you to accomplish these goals and there is a timer. You don't have a time limit but it does affect your score. 

The first level is not terribly difficult.

 When you've accomplished your mission, the good guy will unfold out of his pentagon and you get to see the hero standing triumphant!

I love that little coat!
 The levels where you're trying to throw the villain into the gears are a bit more complicated occasionally. You actually have to have an idea of how physics works and remove blocks accordingly.

If  you treat this like the first one, you'll lose. 
The levels start out pretty easy but become progressively more difficult.

Oh, so the little balls are wood . . .
I love the art and the gameplay for this little browser game. The levels range from easy to downright diabolical and the replayability is actually pretty high. Puzzle games are among my favorite to play and I love browser games because they can be started and put away quickly. This game does not want a long-term commitment but you'll find yourself thinking about how to get through the next level long after you've walked away for the day.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Steampunk MMO

Like Steampunk? Like MMO's? Have you seen this Kickstarter?

I haven't seen a lot of MMO's that I'm excited about but this one looks awesome! Send some money's their way to see it become a reality!

Guns of Icarus Online is a team-based, first-person multiplayer airship combat game set in a post-apocalyptic, steampunk/dieselpunk-inspired world. Join a few of your friends to serve aboard an airship, or get a captain’s license and your own ship, crew it with your friends or some hired hands, and set sail for adventure as you brave danger-filled skies to deliver precious cargo and fight off air pirates and rival factions.

Steampunk Mid-week Motivation

Steampunk Abraham Lincoln . . . I'm not sure it gets more awesome than that.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Health Journey, Week 0

I have an awards ceremony I attend 
every summer. I'll be posting dresses I 
want to wear there regularly.
Since the only person who actually took the time to voice an opinion has said I should do my health stuff on this blog, rather than start a new one, here we go with the first post.

I'm going to treat this part of the blog a bit like I did during NaNoWriMo. I'm shooting for a goal (pounds and inches lost) and I'll be tracking it on this blog. However, since I'm looking for long tern results rather than short term, I'll be checking in once a week instead of every day.

My plan, as it stands so far, is to take a picture at the beginning of every week. I'm trying the basic Herbalife plan (all my supplies for that arrived last Thursday) and watching portion sizes. On my desk is a set of glass jars, one filled with glass marbles and one empty. They say "Pounds To Go" and "Pounds Gone". I didn't put pounds lost because I have no intention of finding any of them again.

Having done my measurements, I realized that I am very close to an hour glass figure, at least proportionally. I want to keep my proportions the way they are and I have no intention of looking "muscular". I like being curvy and soft, I just want everything to be tighter, smaller and healthier.

Now, in the spirit of keeping the numbers out there and tracking everything, here we go.

Week 0:
Starting weight 316
Starting pant size: 26
Weight lost: 0 lbs 0 oz

Sorry, I'm just not going to share my measurements at this juncture. Maybe when they're a bit smaller.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Steampunk Sunday: D and D

This is a guest post from James the Mad over at The Prone Ooze. It's posted as is, without comment from me (the blog owner), and I'm very happy he wanted to come play in my pond. Thanks, James!

I'm a Steampunk Exterminator!
I have enjoyed the Steampunk genre since before it had a name. I enjoyed the Will Smith version of Wild Wild West, and I think that was before the genre had solidified. In fact, I wake up every Sunday morning and I feel a bit like it is Christmas because I get to open a new Steampunk Sunday article. I am honored to have the chance to participate in this and I hope you all enjoy it as well.

Ever since I read this article I have been thinking about ways to bring some Steampunk into my D and D game. I liked all three of the songs, but my favorite was the second one. It really made me want to run a Steampunk adventure, if not an entire campaign. I have come up with a list of ideas that you can incorporate into your game to bring a little bit of the feel of Steampunk, whether you are a player or a DM.  

Here are some ideas to bring a little bit of Steampunk to your character if you are a player. The first thing I should tell you is that you should talk to your DM about your ideas, because even though I advocate Yes and… the game will run much more smoothly if you have DM buy in to your concept. Maybe you can even give him some ideas about how to incorporate a little Steampunk into his adventure design if he is interested.

I am going to play Flibber the Gnome Pilot.Wait, where are you all going?

The most important thing to do when trying to make a Steampunk inspired character is to have a good concept in mind while you are building your character, and to keep your concept in mind while playing your character. I can’t tell you what aspects of Steampunk will most appeal to you for your character, but I would suggest that you find something simple and easy to portray and stick with it. The idea of a single sentence which defines your character such as an engineer, who can fix anything, is the better than an elaborate and complicated idea which is difficult to put into words.  Often such an idea with a bit of DM buy in can be enough to bring some Steampunk to your character, but if you wanted some ideas for some specific mechanics to fit a Steampunk concept I have some for you.

I'm Thief/Lover not Fighter/Thief
While any race can make for a good Steampunk character, there are a few which work especially well. Humans can work well for any type of Steampunk character. Most Steampunk fiction features humans as the main characters, if not the only characters. An Elf or a Half Elf would make an interesting noble or gentleman (or lady) adventurer. A Gnome character would make an excellent mad scientist or engineer. Truly any race can make a good Steampunk character, with the right concept. Warforged deserve special mention because much of Steampunk features interesting constructs. If you give your Warforged a few steam vents you could make an excellent Steampunk creation. This works especially well if there is another player who would be interested in playing an engineer who could have “created” you.

Like race many classes can work for a Steampunk character. A Fighter or Rogue would make a good adventurer or dashing swordsman. If your DM allows guns a ranger would make an excellent marksman character. A warlord would make a good airship captain. A wizard could fulfill a variety of Steampunk roles. If you took alchemy a wizard could make a wonderful mad scientist. With the right familiar and some summoning spells a wizard could be an engineer who is constantly trying out new machines that break down almost immediately.  When magic does make a showing in Steampunk it tends to be darker in flavor than high fantasy. A warlock character could take that idea and really run with it. Just make sure you work with your dm to create a patron that will feature in the story.

Of Course! It all makes sense now. He was a GNOME!
The key to making a Steampunk character is to fit the fluff of your choices with your concept. Instead of summoning a hellhound, perhaps you build an iron horse that expels steam and that you have to activate before it inevitably breaks down or runs out of fuel. Once again there is a class which deserves special mention. The artificer from Ebberon would make a superb engineer especially one who was more tinkerer than machinist. In truth any class can work as long as you have a good concept that you hold firmly in your mind while you are playing.

Perhaps you have more than a single character that you want to bring to life in full Steampunk glory. If you are a DM seeking inspiration for a full blown Steampunk campaign, or even a single Steampunk themed adventure I have plenty of thoughts for you as well. Again the best advice I have for you is to have a solid concept for your campaign and don’t let the fluff get in your way. As long as you are willing to do a little creative re-skinning much of what is already in D and D can serve you well. Find a source of inspiration like Wild Wild West or Girl Genius and run with it. Really that’s all you need.

Lightning Rail in Ebberon
You’re still here? Ok, fine I have some specific ideas for you too. It is no accident that the Warforged and Artificer got special mention in my player list. The Ebberon campaign setting is the closest thing to an official Steampunk D and D we are likely to see. It has magic trains, airships, Gnomish Engineers, and even a telegraph system. If you don’t want to run an Ebberon game, you can still take a lot of ideas from the system to inform your own D and D game.

Another key idea to running a successful Steampunk game is to steer away from traditional dungeon crawls and run more event based adventures. Whispers of the Vampire’s Blade for Ebberon, which is a Third Edition module is an excellent example of how to run an event based adventure with some Steampunk tropes. I don’t want to spoil too much but the encounter where the players were fighting pterodactyl riding Halflings on a speeding train was the most awesome thing ever.

When crafting your adventure make sure you create real villains with goals and create a plan of what they will do and then think about how they might react to some things your players might do. That’s good advice for any DM, but it is especially important for Steampunk. After you have some plans for world domination in hand go ahead and come up with some truly epic and awesome set piece battles. I’m talking crashing an airship into a skyscraper here kind of awesome. Turn it up to 11. The most important thing to remember here is to let your inspiration inform your game and let your players be the awesome Steampunk heroes you all like reading about or watching.

I am James the mad, gamer dad and erstwhile dungeon master. You can find my arcane ramblings here at Prone Ooze. We now return you to your regularly scheduled step on the journey.