Sunday, October 12, 2008

Climbing Trees

We needed to have some limbs pruned in one of our trees in the back, so I managed to find an excuse to pull out my harness and ropes and go climbing.

It wasn't totally just an excuse, since our neighbor was helping me, and his tallest ladder didn't reach as far as we needed to go. It did get me to the point where I could grab onto the lowest branch and start climbing, though.

So there I was, perched in the crook of a branch about fifty feet up (tied off, of course, to a rope I'd tossed around a higher branch), working away with a handsaw on one of the branches we needed to prune. I'm not much for power saws, but let me tell you that when you're crouched awkwardly on a branch that high, you really do want something faster than a hand saw. I had to lay back on my branch and rest a few times before I made it all the way through the branch.

One of the other branches was pretty big, so I tossed a rope higher and tied it off, anchoring it in a couple of different directions to keep it from swinging. Then our neighbor went up the ladder (this branch was lower) and used a chainsaw to take it off. It dropped a couple of feet as the ropes took up the slack, and then hung in the air.

It's very cool when something like that works out the way you'd planned it!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Evolution of Language

It's interesting to me how languages evolve.

We teach language in school as if there's only one correct version of a language. We study the parts of speech, nouns, verbs, adjectives, conjunctions, we diagram sentences, and generally put it all in front of young people so often some of it sinks in.

And yet languages are fluid, and change constantly. Slang terms are coined by every generation, sometimes every year. Since I teach at a college, I hear a lot of the slang, and sometimes have to pick up what it means through context. A few years ago, "amped" was being used to describe being excited about something (what other generations would have called "pumped"). These days I don't hear that being used.

Other slang terms stick around and become part of the language. Some words change their meaning entirely. For example, normally placing an "in" in front of a word makes it mean the opposite. Tractable and Intractable have opposite meanings. But Flammable and Inflammable mean the same thing. Did they once have opposite meanings too?

Lately there's been a new word popping up on the Internet as a new term meaning "blog posts". It's Bloggeries, as in "I write a lot of bloggeries about my life". It's a fun new word that isn't in wide use yet, so I'm doing my part to make it official.

And in case you're wondering how words become "official", here's an article by someone who helps do research for dictionaries.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Gaming Convention

This weekend is my fall trek to the Akron area for Con on the Cob, a great local gaming convention. I go for the role playing, but there are board games and all sorts of other games going on. The con is famous for its kids activities, which usually include costume contests, art activities, movies, etc.

The Wild West LARP I ran last year went well, so this year I'll be running a LARP called Death on the Gambia. There's a lot more intrigue in this one than in the Wild West game. Very few people are actually who they seem, and there's a great lost book mechanic where every single character starts with a copy of Agatha Christie's Death On The Nile. Some are normal copies of the books, others have secret information written in them.

I've printed out old images of the cover for Death On The Nile, and will make covers for some hardbacks to take with me. So every person will be carrying around an actual book, and if someone wants to steal a book they'll have to be pretty tricky about it.

I'll also be running a normal tabletop role playing game. Rather than bring out more of my Call of Cthulhu scenarios, I decided to go for minimum preparation and turn it into a virtue. The players themsevels will decide what genre and theme the game will have, and I'll improvise a fun adventure for them.

Hopefully I'll also get a chance to play some games during the weekend!