Troll

Apr 2 by curtis at 2:41 pm

Boss says , “Glrg, guard bridge from goats.” So I guard bridge.

Goats come. Say want to cross bridge. I say, “Boss say no goats on bridge.”

Goats get angry. Say Big Goat not like trolls.

I say “Sorry. Boss say no goats on bridge.”

I think maybe goats too lazy to swim river but not say this. Goats seem angry and I not think it great idea to mention character flaws right now.

Goats go away. I think, “Good. They listen to Glrg. Maybe next time swim instead of get angry.”

I wrong.

Goats come back with friends, say Big Goat coming and want to cross bridge.

I say, “Sorry. Boss not like goats crossing bridge. Say they mark up surface.”

Goats even more angry now. I decide not to mention swimming.

Goats wait around. Goats seem to get bored and start saying hurtful things about Glrg’s mom. I sad, but Boss say no goats on bridge, so I not let goats on bridge. Goats finally leave. I make note to call mom, tell her I love her.

Goats return. I not happy about this. They have have really big goat this time. Big Goat come to bridge. I tell him that Boss say no goats on bridge. Big Goat look at me. Big goat spit on bridge. I bend down to clean up. Big Goat charge at me with horns. I try to get out of way but Big Goat knocks me into river. I swim a while thinking, “Goats not really appreciate how nice water is.”

Next day, Boss fire Glrg. I not happy. I try to tell Boss about Big Goat. Boss not care. Say Glrg need more experience. So I leave. If you know where I find experience, you tell Glrg. I let you cross bridge. Unless you goat. No goats on bridge.

Dog Racing

Apr 2 by curtis at 2:26 pm

A couple of weeks ago, Anne and I packed up the dogs and the kids and drove to the middle of nowhere (somewhere south of Draper, Utah.) There is a secret Whippet Racing course there on some dog loving soul’s farm and on Saturdays they’ll let you race your dog on a lure for a couple of bucks. Well, Anne has never met a dog sport she didn’t love and Tai is built like an Italian Greyhound, so it seemed worth the drive to at least try it out.

Basically, there is a long empty field next to some horse pasture. Using an old tractor (for a motor) and a system of pulleys, there is a lure attached to a thin rope. Since there were two of us, Anne would hold our dog and I’d walk to the far end of the course (about 200 yards.) When we signal we’re ready, the fellow at the tractor pulls a lever and the lure starts moving. The dog is then released to chase after it until the lure passes me (at which point, the lever is toggled and the lure stops.) I then collect the lure and the dog and jog back to the beginning to do it all over again.

We had a great time. Both dogs ran the course twice and seemed very enthusiastic by the second go. I’ve included some pictures below for your general enjoyment.

Comic Books

Mar 1 by curtis at 4:15 pm

So apart from spending most of my day either working or wrangling four children, I generally have an hour or so to myself. I’ve spent a lot of time since last November playing Skyrim on my XBox (which could probably be a post for another time.) I also play other video games (including spending a lot of time with Anne and her siblings playing League of Legends together) and have even instigated XBox Friday at work, but really I’m using this piece of the internet to talk about how my love affair with comic books as been rekindled.

So for anyone reading this who doesn’t follow geek culture obsessively, there are two big main competitors for comic book readers’ money: DC and Marvel. Marvel is responsible for The Fantastic Four, The X-Men, Spiderman, and The Avengers (trailer embedded below.) DC are the purveyors of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern. As with most geek culture, there’s a bit of holy war. This one is probably less vicious than say, Windows vs Mac, XBox vs Playstation vs Nintendo or Emacs vs Vi, but there’s still some hard feelings between the disciples of each comic book brand. And until recently I would have definitely chimed in as a Marvel guy.

Then last fall, DC did what they call a “reboot.” They decided to kind of start over with a lot of their characters and re-examine what makes them tick. Basically, they conceded that Marvel just had a better grip on what made young geek hearts palpitate and they decided they needed to rethink things in an effort to make it easier for new readers to jump in. So they announced their “New 52” initiative and made a lot of hubbub about how they were changing their ways and could everybody please buy some dang comics from them, we promise they are even more awesome than before.

I’d gotten a little burned out on Marvel and hadn’t been picking up comics for a while, but they convinced me with this very sophisticated sales pitch (I know, I’m a marketer’s dream – that’s probably why I work at an ad agency.) It’s been six months of comics (each hero generally has one 20 page issue per month) and I am completely sold. I’m definitely not a total DC convert to the point of hating Marvel, but at this point I’m only buying DC comics (However, I am super excited for the Avengers movie coming out in May.)  Really though, the greatest thing DC has done is to make Aquaman seem cool even when standing next to Batman.

 

 

 

 

The Fires of Competition

Mar 1 by curtis at 3:48 pm

Recently some friends at work decided to start up a group blog together to share their awesome doodles with the world. Being the competitive person that I am, I couldn’t stand by and let my blog rot to nothing. So then I was tasked with finding something to actually blog about.

So I will give a quick update about our family (with some minor excuses about why I haven’t posted anything.) Then I’ll make a second(!) post about things I’m currently interested in and spending time on.

So here goes:

Anne and I have been fostering two little girls for the past nine months or so (since the middle of last May.) They are adorable and we love them so much, but I’m limited in how much I can say or post about them because of legal requirements on being a foster parent. We even had to ask Anne’s sister-in-law to take down some photos on Facebook because the girls were in them (incredibly lame and mildly embarrassing to have to do that.) So anyway, there are still several legal hurdles/challenges to adopting them, but that is the current family plan made in conjunction with the state Attorney General’s office and the girls’ Guardian Ad Litem and caseworker. We are SUPER excited for this, but also extremely cautious and anxious to clear all the remaining hurdles. We’ve heard horror stories about other foster parents in our situation losing their kids on the day of the adoption right there at court with all their families there and everything. So yeah, this occupies our thoughts and prayers quite a bit.

Skyler and Preston have both made great strides and accepted these little girls as siblings. Both boys are in elementary school (Skyler’s in third grade and Preston is in first grade this year.) Preston continues to impress us with his Chinese and Skyler is still doing well academically while pouring his heart and soul into athletics. They’re both looking forward to baseball this spring.

Anne continues to make our German Shepherd Brash do amazing things like rescue small children from burning houses, stop bank robberies and terrify all our neighbors. At least, that’s what I hear. He is the best dog I’ve ever had the privilege of vying for dominance with and he’s also incredibly cute and affectionate.

Learning Chinese

Feb 4 by curtis at 4:25 pm

Preston had his Chinese program today for the Chinese New Year. He has made us so proud this year and has really started to pick up the language. Anne took some video of him counting and writing the characters in Chinese.

The finished worksheet:

Tana Keln

Feb 2 by curtis at 4:27 pm

This is an old character sketch. I haven’t made time to write up anything more current yet. Still working on it.

Life could definitely be worse. I mean, it really feels like all the sneaking around in Athkatla is paying off. For the longest time it seemed like the price for studying without Cowled Wizard oversight was poverty. To be honest, I’m not even sure how I ended up in Longsaddle. I’m even less sure why I was kept in that kobold cave for over a week. Being rescued by Harcrit, Lissah, and Chlorine was just the beginning of my turn of good luck.

In return for keeping an eye on their little kobold pet, they agreed to split the treasure they uncovered in the goblin fortress with me and my two fellow captives, Venn and Solnac. We found the leader of the conspiracy to be a doppleganger, and though I’m not even sure that makes sense, there were no clues to prompt any better theory. Minus any trail to follow, we were content to relieve the goblins of their ill-gotten hoard. Whatever the doppleganger’s purpose, he provided his minions with an abundance of valuables. Mixed in with all the gold and precious stones, we found the Mace of Tyr and the Helder family pendant. And most important of all, we found my spellbooks. Words cannot describe the feelings coursing through me as I thumbed through those pages again. During my most optimistic moments in the kobold cell, I imagined that somehow I would escape and earn the money to begin my studies anew. Never in my wildest hopes did I believe that I would be able to find my own books again. I had to cover my face with my hair to hide the tears welling up in my eyes. Fortunately, the others were greedily exclaiming over the rest of the treasure and didn’t notice my momentary loss of control.

We finished clearing out the first of the two main goblin buildings, and as we were exploring the viability of entering the next, a group of blood-and-gore-spattered mercenaries began making their way out, leading a group of people, including the Abbot Fostrik. Harcrit couldn’t contain his snickering when the dwarven warrior leading the group proclaimed himself a sergeant in the Ironheart Adventuring Company. I overheard Lissah and Sol having a whispered discussion about a name for our band. Our band. Funny, I haven’t yet contributed even a minor cantrip to our battles, but I feel a strong bond to my rescuers and to my fellow former prisoners. So yes, it does feel right to call it our band.

We decided to journey to Longsaddle separately from the Ironheart Company, and upon returning the Mace of Tyr to Count Blackburn, were treated to a celebratory feast along with our bag of five hundred gold pieces. It must have been the combination of the reward, the cheers, and the fine wine, but everyone was feeling so elated we decided to splurge on some purchases in the noble’s stables. Harcrit’s burning need to acquire a cart was fulfilled, while Lissah, Sol, and I purchased some ponies to make any future journeys a little less unpleasant.

We made our way from Longsaddle to Mirabar and returned the Helder’s pendant for another very sizable reward. While there, Lissah met with her mentor and returned to us with an old, worn-out map to some buried treasure. We decided to ask Taliend for some clues to his map, so Sol and I split the cost for a room at the inn where he was performing that night. The performance was magnificent. Certainly better than any I’d attended in Amn. I could not keep the tears from my eyes, but this time I wept unashamedly in front of my new comrades who all seemed equally affected. After gathering our composure, we cornered the bard master and asked for some pointers. He indicated that we should begin our search inland, at a town called Six Ways.

The next morning we set out without Lissah, who told us she had other affairs to attend to. Sol and I greatly enjoyed taking the fresh air on our cute little mounts, while my more melee oriented comrades rode in Harcrit’s beloved cart. Sol is so interesting. I am fascinated by his heritage and the path he has taken in life. Combine that with his being the only other member of our party interested in books of any kind, and he makes for an excellent traveling companion.

Along the path to Six Ways, the road began to grow more and more crowded, and curiously, most of the people we passed seemed to have blue scarves or neckerchiefs. I stopped to ask a plain-looking farmgirl what event led all these people to converge on our path and she told me she was headed to the Six Ways Market. She seemed a little put off by my companions and in a hurry to get to town, so I flipped her a coin and thanked her for her time.

I decided to try again and asked a promising youth what the story was behind the odd attire and he sold me a puppet with his information. It seemed we were caught up in the middle of a huge festival, and people were coming from each of the six roads that met in Six Ways. Each road had its own color, and we happened to be on the blue road. Unfortunately, he panicked a bit when Sol pulled back his cowl to ask a question, and as can happen with the less-educated class, he set off a stampede of fear that cleared the path ahead of us. We traveled onward for a while, noticing an occasional bush shivering in terror or a tree muttering imprecations at the Drow race. I looked sympathetically at Sol, but he seemed to disregard the peasants’ behavior. I can only assume that he has grown accustomed to it during his travels.

Upon reaching Six Ways, we began to see all the other colors in the crowd. We randomly selected a rundown inn as a place to stay and hailed the stableboy to come care for our mounts. Harcrit decided to take this moment to introduce himself and learn that the boy’s name was Garth. His impressive countenance seemed to startle the boy, as the usual price was lowered from thirty coppers to twenty-five. I approached next and offered the lad my coins. He looked at me impertinently and said, “thirty coppers.” Unable to think of a suitable response, I simply handed him the extra five and flicked some bat guano at his head as I passed. Impudent peasant.

I entered the common room to find Harcrit glowering at the innkeeper. Once Hal found his way over to my large friend, I introduced myself and asked about rooms. The middle aged simpleton imperiously informed me that my “kind” was unwelcome here. Harcrit stepped in at that point and performed his special “I’m a hulking mass of muscle and I get what I want whether other people like it or not” routine. Hal responded as can be expected from someone lacking both valor and intellect and, like magic, we had rooms at the inn. Hal sent Lenore, his most bosomy barmaid to guide us to our accommodations and Harcrit struck up a conversation with her. He seemed to be seeking information, but I think so much sun addled his brains. The girl clearly could only provide the kind of knowledge valued in the scullery. She wantonly suggested that she could “work all night” and that she’d be happy to stop by early in the morning. I left him to his fruitless investigation and went to study in my room.

Perhaps I misunderstood his intent, because when I came down the next morning, he was following her around blushing and she couldn’t take her eyes off him.

Mission Accomplished

Jan 18 by curtis at 9:49 am

Last August I set myself a goal to lose 50 pounds. It’s been challenging, but I finally accomplished it this weekend. Anne has been super supportive and I couldn’t have done it without her. I think Preston and Skyler are a little sad that their dad doesn’t have a fat belly anymore.

Preston’s First Talk

Jan 11 by curtis at 12:25 pm

Preston gave his first talk in Primary on Sunday. I wasn’t sure it would happen, since he was sick Friday night and spent Saturday in bed resting. Not to mention Anne left me in charge of writing the talk and going over it with him. But there I was Saturday afternoon typing it up and then sitting down with him to go over it so he wouldn’t stumble over any unfamiliar words. And this was the result:

He seems so small up there. Makes me want to give him a big hug.

New Category

Jan 7 by curtis at 2:56 pm

This is a new category I’m starting on Winged Wolves. I play Dungeons and Dragons with two distinct groups: one at work during lunch and one at a friend’s house every other Friday. I am currently running both groups and in an effort to keep things fresh in my mind and to keep me interested in both stories, I’m going to attempt writing up the adventures on a regular basis. This was a flavor story to give some background for my work group. I wrote it quite a while ago but decided to post it to get things started.

It started with the fortuitous meeting in Arabel, four very different youths each seeking safety in numbers for a journey to Winterhaven. The first to enter the Grey Goat was of the dragonborn race. The barkeep looked up curiously from scrubbing a table. It was unusual for a dragonborn to pass through the city and rarer still for a dragonborn to bear the accoutrements of one dedicated to harnessing the might of demons. She took a place at the bar and asked for a mead. When he brought her a mug, she asked Otis if he’d heard of anyone seeking passage through the Thunderpeaks.

“Nah. Merchant’ll be makin’ ‘is way up there in a pair o’ weeks though. Be safer to wait for ‘im than try it yesself, ma’am,” the balding barkeep suggested helpfully.

“Blast! Let me know if you hear of anything sooner, I’d like to get there as soon as possible,” she growled in response.

“Yes’m.” He bobbed his head agreeably.

She hadn’t quite finished her pint before the door opened again and a dwarven man stomped in. “And my axe!” he bellowed over his shoulder.

He turned and looked at Otis, his face softening as when one encounters a good friend. “Oy! I need an ale! The best yeh have! I’m plannin’ to get nice and drunk tonight before I start tromping through the Moradin-cursed Thunderpeaks after ol’ Douven. I can’t believe he’s gone and got himself lost up there in Winterhaven.” He unleashed a stream of dwarven profanity under his breath.

“Did you say you’re headed to Winterhaven looking for Douven Staul?” the dragonborn woman queried incredulously.

“Aye. I’ll be making my way up there first thing tomorrow. What business be it of yours?” he replied gruffly.

“I’m looking for a group to travel with for the same reasons. Douven changed my life and I received this letter from his wife a week ago asking for help finding him.” She pulled a scroll out of her pack and displayed it for the dwarf to see.

“Aye, I received a similar one. Be glad of your company if yeh want to join me. Name’s Oskar.” He proffered a hand.

“I’m Raziel. Pleased to make the acquaintance of any friend of Douven’s,” she said as she shook his hand.

As Oskar sidled up to the bar next to Raziel, the door opened again and a cloaked figure slunk in, walked over to a corner table, and sat down. Otis walked over to greet the newcomer and offer his goods. The two at the bar weren’t paying much attention until they overheard him say, “Those two at the bar are headed there tomorrow.”

They looked over to see Otis pointing at them. The figure threw back the hood on his cloak to reveal the mixed-race features of a human and elf heritage. “Joridyn at your service. I understand you’re headed to Winterhaven? I’m seeking an old friend there.”

“Yer ol’ fren’ wouldn’t go by the name ‘Douven Staul’ by chance?” inquired Oskar.

“Why yes! His wife sent me a letter asking for help finding him.” replied Joridyn with surprise.

“Welcome to the club. Name’s Oskar.”

“And I’m Raziel.”

“I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me that Douven has influenced others who would be willing to venture into danger for him. He is a great man,” said Joridyn as he arose from the table and joined his new traveling companions at the bar.

“Aye. Let me buy yeh a pint! Otis! One for my friend here. And one for the next person to walk through the door, too. Seems as though everyone walking in here is lookin’ for ol’ Douven tonight,” shouted Oskar boisterously.

As if on cue, a small halfling man walked through the door.

“Ha! Welcome wee one! Come join us at the bar. And if it’s a journey to Winterhaven yer lookin’ for, yeh’ve come to the right place,” laughed Oskar.

The small man startled. “Surely Pelor has blessed me this day. To find such a warm welcome in a strange city is a blessing, but to find a warm welcome accompanied by an invitation to Winterhaven. . .surely only He could have prepared my path. I accept your invitation friend dwarf. Let us praise the Gods for bringing us together.”

“Sure’n that’s a good thing. M’name’s Oskar, this here is Joridyn and Raziel,” said the dwarf as he pointed out his companions.

“I’m Niloc; very pleased to meet you. Now I know why Marla assigned this mission to me alone. She must have known that Pelor would grant me bold companions to seek out and destroy this death cult,” said Niloc humbly as he climbed his way onto a barstool.

“What?” roared Oskar. “By Moradin’s beard, there’s a death cult in Winterhaven?”

“Yes, I’ve been sent to investigate it. And Pelor has sent you to me for assistance!” explained Niloc.

“I. . .I don’t think that’s necessarily the reason. . .” began Raziel.

“Maybe the death cult has captured Douven for its nefarious purposes,” interjected Joridyn.

“Those bastards!” shouted Oskar. “How could they?!”

“Does this mean you’re agreed to investigate the cult together?” asked Niloc.

“Of course it does, wee one!” exclaimed the dwarf as he clambered up to stand on his barstool. “We will terminate those skulking goblins or death cultists or whatever, and we’ll get Douven back or I’ll be a bald gnome!”

“Yes,” said Raziel as Joridyn nodded his agreement.

“Excuse me. Could you please explain who Douven is?” asked Niloc politely.

“He’s our mentor. . .” began Joridyn as Raziel said, “He freed me from a horrible fate in my homeland.”

“He’s our friend and we’re going to rescue him.” said Oskar.

“That sounds very fine. The four of us can surely bring about the end of this death cult and find your friend together,” said Niloc agreeably.

“Indeed,” harrumphed Oskar has sat back down. “Another mead, barkeep!”

Santa Claus

Jan 1 by curtis at 8:33 pm

Great Grandma moved into a retirement community place this year and during the holidays they have a visit from Santa Claus, so we decided to stop by and spend some time visiting and getting in our wishes. Both boys seemed to handle it very well, which I believe was a first for us.