Friday, September 3, 2010

New home

We finally made it...

In the past couple of months we've managed to buy a house, move into it and -- most importantly -- get rid of the landlords whom we rented the old apartment from. And the things I could tell about the landlords are unbelievable, but I will just summarize it into this: they are a bunch of selfish, snotty, manipulating, money-grubbing, antisocial gangsters and I'm EXTREMELY relieved that they're now out of our lives. I think that says enough.

As for the house, it comes of course with all the responsibilities and tasks that a house brings with it, but it's really remarkable how I've managed to get rid of loads of stress, regardless of the leaking kitchen roof, the moist outer wall, the cellar staircase that practically falls apart, and the monthly down payments eating through our budget. Having a house of our own (and getting out of that evil infested apartment) has turned my life completely around -- for the best. We still have lots of boxes to unpack, two weeks of laundry to catch up with, and two extra cats to take care of, but I sleep a lot better than before and I can now find the peace and time to practice my hobbies again. I actually signed up for a drawing course!

For the first time in four years, I feel like I'm getting on top of my life again. And it was about time too.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Election Duties

Like many other of my fellow countrymen and -women I voted for a new Belgian senate and chamber of representatives today. But unlike the most of them, I was also an election judge (called "bijzitter" in Dutch).

Being such is cause for grieve for many but I never understood why. Okay, you have to spend a day away from home, but other than that what's the big deal?

Today I've been proven right. My first ever duty of judge was definitely a day to remember: fine company, fun conversations, meeting and greeting neighbors and acquaintances, ... And the work was nicely relaxed and certainly without any strain.

Add to that the free breakfast and lunch, and an extra compensation and I'm not complaining.

Or maybe we were just extremely lucky with our chairwoman?

Thursday, May 6, 2010


After a short time of unemployment in December (which I preferred to call 'my well-deserved vacation') I managed to find a new job as a software developer at Softkinetic. It's a rapidly growing company specialized in what they call 'natural interfaces'.

We develop the technology that allows people to interact with any device by means of body movement through the use of a 3D camera. It's about the same as Microsoft's recent project Natal, except that Softkinetic has more know-how and years of experience in the field. The most obvious application for this technology is video games, but other fields will benefit as well -- think 'Minority Report' to have a glimpse of how this technology can change our everyday lives.

I've been working here for a little over 5 months now, and it's definitely an improvement in life quality. The organization and atmosphere in this place have really allowed me to take things on in a more relaxed way and at the same time accomplishing more than ever -- not just on a professional level, but on a personal level too.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Alpha Omega

My fellow roleplayers and I have recently 'finished' our D&D4 campaign. That is to say, we defeated the Big Bad Evil Guy and (kind of sort of) neutralized the threat. There are still plenty of loose ends that we can tie up, but nothing significant to prevent a welcome ingame vacation.

We've taken this opportunity to start something new -- at least for a while. The DM has become a player and yours truly is promoted to Game Moderator for a thrilling post-apocalyptic sci-fi game of Alpha Omega.

Everyone is very excited, and the effort that's being put in character creation and group building is just plain awesome -- a GM's dream come true.

Now I just hope that I can live up to the players' expectations and deliver a rich, exciting experience...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency

Unbelievable. I never thought it possible, but Douglas Adams did it again. This book is utterly fantastic, just like The Hitch Hiker's Guide -- maybe even better.

I started reading this book with relatively low expectations -- I knew it would be good, but I thought it would not live up to The Hitch Hiker's Guide. And that assumption only made this experience so much the better. Again, his writings managed to make me laugh, make me think, and deeply move me at some points. And the part about the horse is just plain genius.

Thank you, mr. Adams!

Friday, January 22, 2010

RPG Superstar 2010, result

So we finally got the results of the first round of RPG Superstar 2010.

As expected, I didn't make the top 32, but I did manage to get some unofficial feedback on my submission. It didn't turn out to be too bad; only some game mechanics were not right (the item seemed to be way too expensive for what it could do). Personally, though, I think it also lacked serious sex appeal to be RPG Superstar quality, especially compared to what did make it to round 2. But I'm learning and I'm definitely going to compete again next year. At least it felt good to accomplish something for myself and seeing it through to the end, however small it may be (more on that in a future post).

Anyway, for those of you who are interested in what I wrote, here's my entry. Be warned that if you've never played Dungeons and Dragons, this may all sound very geeky. But if you have, then feel free to use it in your campaign.

Chi-Yan's Wondrous Whetstone of Wounding

Aura moderate conjuration; CL 10th
Slot none; Price 16,000 gp (1/week), 36,000 gp (2/week), 64,000 gp (3/week), 100,000 (4/week); Weight 2 lbs.

The wondrous whetstone of wounding resembles a simple whetstone for sharpening swords, axes, lances, or any other kind of edged melee weapon. When it is applied to a magic weapon however, it sharpens it and also imbues it with the wounding special ability. The whetstone does not grant a magic enhancement bonus on the weapon; the weapon must already have a magic enhancement bonus of at least +1. The weapon also gains a moderate conjuration aura. Both ability and aura remain for 24 hours. When this time has passed, the ability and aura disappear and the weapon returns to its state before the whetstone was used.

Depending on the power of the whetstone, it might apply this special ability a number of times per week. Once all uses are expended for that week, the whetstone’s magic becomes dormant and the whetstone temporarily becomes mundane. The number of times such a whetstone can apply its ability depends on the power of the stone; the price is determined based on this number of applications. Different applications per week per whetstone need not necessarily be applied to the same weapon.

Other whetstones exist that can imbue other abilities. Whetstones that apply abilities with a higher base price modifier, according to table 15-7 of the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook, take up one price slot higher and allow one less application per week for each modifier point over +1. For example, a whetstone granting speed (+3 modifier) exist in a 64,000 gp version (applicable 1/week) and a 100,000 gp (2/week).

Requirements Craft Wondrous Items, bleed; Cost 8,000 gp (1/week), 18,000 (2/week), 32,000 (3/week), 50,000 (4/week)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Master! Master!

It's been years since I've played my guitar, but I'm sitting here right now with 'The Axe' on my lap. I've pulled up a tab of Master of Puppets by Metallica and am practicing away at the intro riffs.

I must say, after years of inactivity, I haven't lost much of my previously acquired 'skills' (actually, I'm reluctant to call it skills, because I'm far from good, but I can find no better word for it... perhaps 'basics' would be more fitting?) The left hand on the fretboard can almost keep up with the original (albeit quite messy), but the right-hand picking needs A LOT of work still.