Month: January 2020

End of January report

Infection or no infection, injury or no injury, I can type out a short update and I did make some progress before I injured my arm. Also, I moved away from specifying my reports as for the greyfolk language or writing or GURPS because I will hopefully be talking a bit more about each of them in each report.

It took me a long time to write out this update. I’ve been working on it for two days because it’s hard, uncomfortable, and sometimes painful to type for long periods of time. Between my injury and really focusing on maintaining better posture, it just takes a lot out of me. I’ll probably be like this for the next couple of weeks, but here’s to hoping! 🍻

Conlang stuff report

If I am remembering correctly (and I’m a bit too lazy to check), when I last talked about what was next for greyfolk language, I’m pretty sure that I mentioned disyllabic roots and words were next but also that I wanted to find a way to organize them so I got good efficiency out of my choices while avoiding roots that were within Hamming Distance of each other. For example, I don’t want «meta» and «peta» because the only difference is «m» and «p», which do not have enough Hamming Distance between them (in terms of how they sound). The Hamming Distance between «m» and «p» is 1 (they are both labial sounds, which is an HD of 0, but «m» is a nasal and «p» is a plosive, which is an HD of 1), but I need a Hamming Distance that’s greater than 1 for the sounds in each word to be far enough apart to contrast. So, «mena» and «peta» would work because «n» and «t» also have a Hamming Distance of 1 (they are both coronal sounds, which is an HD of 0, but «n» is a nasal and «t» is a plosive, which is an HD of 1). That brings the total Hamming Distance between those two words to 2, which means they are far enough apart in sound (according to my parameters, of course) that I can use both words.

Of course, that means, if I want to have a lot of disyllabic roots and words, I have to be efficient like I was for the monosyllabic roots and words. Each extra syllable, however, seems to add that much more work. I talked to a friend of mine about creating a program to help me, but it seems that would be more trouble than it’s worth, but I think I found a way to do what I need in Microsoft Excel. I’ll hopefully come back to that sooner rather than later after my arm has healed and after I fully figure that system out.

Also, because Globasa does it (and I just went over how much I like Globasa in my previous post), I’ve been considering allowing «s» at the end of syllables. I need to be careful not to over-complicate my conlang, so I might just put syllable-final «s» in one of the dialects.

GURPS stuff report

As I looked back through my notes, I realized that most of my work in January (as well as December) was done on GURPS. After NaNoWriMo 2019, I was really inspired to work on GURPS again, and it was going quite well! I have a better way to merge Conditional Injury and Knowing Your Own Strength than I did before. I was still figuring out how to do weapons and armor in the least complicated way, and I was getting pretty close to something that I felt was acceptable. Instead of having a damage modifier, a weapon would have a ST modifier. That modifier would be added to the wielder’s Basic Lift, and the total Basic Lift would be the new ST of using that weapon. DR would work similarly with a tricky caveat. Yes, this requires table look-ups, but… Well, I don’t think it’s frequent enough to be awful. I’ve struggled so long with balancing realism, fairness, and ease of play.

Continuing down the path of combat while trying to balance realism, fairness, and easy of play, I have been trying to figure out how to speed up combat for a long time. There are many approaches, and I tried to define each approach by its complexity and its (level of) abstraction. One could resolve an entire combat with nothing more than a Quick Contest—that would be Complexity 1 but Abstraction 10. However, that curve is not smooth. Some methods are only a small step up on the scale of complexity while being a larger step down on the scale of abstraction, which is pretty ideal. For example, I’ve been getting really into Mass Combat and Tactical Mass Combat because the combat isn’t very complex and there are some neat ways to deal with the abstraction. However, the big problem is that PCs remain quite abstract unless you use Heroes on the Mass Scale, but that breaks down really quick for any unit that’s anything less than heroic in scale. So, I could try to rework the entirety of Heroes on the Mass Scale or just assign Troop Strength, Classes, etc. as best as possible to PCs (and any other unit, really). That idea got pretty close to one of my original ideas, which was to run combat like a D&D Skill Challenge where the PCs need x skill successes before getting y skill failures. That’s quite abstract in that it doesn’t take into account the power of the enemies! So, using Mass Combat with guesstimated stats (based on existing units, of course) seems rather balanced between complexity and abstraction, especially by allowing PCs (and enemy bosses) to perform significant actions, which is like a Skill-Challenge-esque factor in Mass Combat. Then, when I want to get a bit more tactical, there’s Tactical Mass Combat. For non-mass-scale scenarios, I’ve been working on a way to modify each for the 1:10 scale so each ‘unit’ is just a character, which is a bit trickier (but oh so satisfying) to do for Tactical Mass Combat.

Last but not least, I worked on some worldbuilding for my very own Project Sirocco, which is really going to end up extremely similar to or part of the setting from my NaNoWriMo 2019 story. I really took a dive into religion and mythology to start working on some cultures for that world. That led to a discussion about how ‘barbarians’ are the same Tech Level with different beliefs and ‘savages’ are lower Tech Level with different beliefs. I learned a lot about comparative theology and the Bronze Age and the Iron Age and Sub-Saharan African history. I spent a good amount of time trying to find places on Earth with very varied climatic zones, and I think I landed on Tierra del Fuego and the Big Island of Hawaii. There are a few places in the (contiguous) United States with very diverse climatic zones in a small area too.

Writing stuff report

I did more work in December than I did in January, but I was working on some background worldbuilding as well as figuring out how I want the story to end to myself me a clear(er) goal.

Shouting out Globasa and Pandunia

I’ve been wanting to write a long post about Globasa and Pandunia for quite some time, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet because I’ve been so focused on writing about my work, but, if you were to look at my personal notes document, you’d see that each language is mentioned many times. It isn’t a secret to those that know me that I love those languages for being well-crafted worldlangs—I talk about them offline quite a lot. Both have given me huge inspiration in how I’ve shaped greyfolk language.

I mentioned Globasa in my review of 2019. At the time of posting, I didn’t even mention it by name (though, I just edited it in). So, it was a surprise to see that post pop up on the Globasa channel of the Auxlangs Discord.

So, it seems right to shout them out for shouting out my shout out.

I also gave Pandunia a brief mention in an old post where I mentioned that I was looking to it (and Lojban) for some inspiration for greyfolk language.

When I have the time (and my injured arm isn’t telling me to stop typing), I’ll talk about them a little bit more. It seems like both worldlangs are slated for a decent-sized update soon (Globasa’s creator is seemingly finishing up phase 2, and Pandunia’s creator is working toward version 2.0 in two months), so that seems like it would be a fun time to talk about both of them!

Another year, another diagnosis (or two)

Last year (in March), it was cervical radiculopathy on my left side. This year, it is epididymitis and muscle strains.

About two and a half weeks ago, I was playing Ring Fit Adventure for some fun exercise at home stuff. However, I had some pain in my balls of all places, but it seemed to go away after 15 minutes or so. Okay, no big deal, I thought. I probably just jostled the boys around too much. It wasn’t so simple. The next day, the pain came and went a few times, and that’s when I started to worry. Was it a varicocele? I don’t know what that is, but I like to self-diagnose. Who doesn’t? Then, the abdominal and groin pain started to kick in. It felt like intense muscle soreness. So, then I was worried it was a hernia or a sports hernia. It wasn’t feeling better the next day, so I decided to go to the urgent care. That’s scary enough on its own because I don’t really have insurance coverage right now—it’s a tricky situation and I won’t bore with the details. But I did. And the doctor poked around my groin and my abdomen, then decided that, yeah, it was a hernia. So, that’s what I thought it was.

It wasn’t, but I didn’t know that later. The doctor told me that I could put off surgery and whatnot so long as it wasn’t getting worse. Well, that would be great, but it did start to feel much worse that night. I was shivering and in a lot of pain and oh so bloated, and it looked like there was a growing lump right next to my belly button. So, I started looking for an ER near me because it seemed like going to one was going to be a real possibility. Luckily, there’s one nearby that offers financial assistance, which I was sorely (pun definitely intended) going to need. I got there, got checked in, got poked three times before they finally got the IV in with the fourth, got a physical, got a CT scan, got an ultrasound done on my balls, and then I waited… for hours. Eventually, I figured that was a good thing. If I was in serious danger, they’d get to me right away, right? (Also, when I say eventually, I mean it. I was traumatized. Hospitals scare me. I hadn’t been in one in over a decade. I’ve never been stuck with an IV. I have bad experiences with needles. I was shaking and crying at various points.) Then, I started to chuckle to myself and wonder if this was some elaborate prank by the universe. Alas, the universe had some kind of sentience after all and was pranking me. The doctor would be back any minute to tell me that I just had some bad gas or something.

Well, yeah, my abdominal pain was random, they said. The doctor told me that, for every ten patients that come in with abdominal pain, nine leave with it. It can just kinda happen, I guess. Well, what about my balls? Just an infection—epididymitis. It can be caused by groin injuries (which may have happened during my intense Ring Fit Adventure workout—but really; I pushed myself) or it can be caused by urine going back down the urethra (yuck) or an STI. Given that my groin was still in a lot of pain, I figured it was due to a groin injury. So, I was prescribed antibiotics and painkillers. My aching balls got worse, but then they got much better, and I think I’m pretty good—though, the discomfort can last for weeks to months after the infection clears, which sucks.

But I wasn’t done. That wasn’t enough of a curveball. A week ago, while I was still recovering from the infection, I managed to injure myself. I was grumpy. I wanted some coffee. I went to boil some water. I stuck the thermometer in the boiling water. I wiped the thermometer on my shirt. Only to realize that the thermometer wasn’t clean—it had some taco sauce juice on it. I was beyond grumpy. But I decided to be productive about my grumpiness, and I gathered some other laundry so I could throw my shirt in (after spraying it with some anti-stain stuff). Now, picture in your mind’s eye a grumpy man with a testicular infection whose new favorite shirt just got dirty. Now, he’s pushing laundry down into the top-loading washing machine. Now, listen. His elbow just popped. Did you hear that?

I sure did. Then, slowly, I felt it. To be fair, the pop was most likely just a normal joint pop, but the following pain wasn’t normal. Straightening or bending my arm hurt. And it hurt more. And it hurt even more. So, I held my arm bent and still. Later, I tried to extend my arm again, slowly, to see if the pain had gone away. Oh, I got my arm about 90% straight before white-hot shooting pain manifested in my elbow. That was a bit worrying. The next day, it was back to urgent care; though, I went to a different urgent care that time. The good news was that my x-rays came back clean, so it wasn’t a problem with bones or the joint itself. I got a sling to keep it from moving in my sleep, and I was told to RICE. No problem. It wasn’t really feeling better. It was kind of feeling worse—my arm just felt more sore all around. Of course, I didn’t keep my arm in the sling all the time. I knew it would be good to give the joint some use as long as I didn’t enter the pain zone. At one point, I was massaging my triceps and— Ow! That pain in my elbow was there! It wasn’t nearly as bad, but it still sucked.

Well, today, I had a follow-up orthopedic appointment. The doctor diagnosed me with a severe sprain (but no tearing, I’m glad to say!) of my triceps and forearm muscles. I have to ween off of my sling, start using a compression brace for my elbow, then ween off of that, and I should hopefully be right as rain in two to three weeks.

Oh, and my comfy chair in the living room broke. Just so life could get another laugh, but, hey, that’s just victimization. Though, I did come up with a neat little metaphor for why I could handle the infection rather well, but, after my arm injury, I fell into another depressive episode. It’s like life throws a bowling ball at us. And we just manage to catch it. Then it throws another one. We’re already holding one bowling ball, so we can’t catch another, so it hits us. That hurts. It hurts so much that we drop the bowling ball we’re holding. Onto our toes. Which also hurts.

And then our comfy chair breaks.

Now, rationally, I think I got off easy. Two possible surgeries avoided. Nothing life-threatening. My world wasn’t ending. Though, my depression definitely told me that it was. I’m feeling much better now; though, now I have to figure out financial aid and insurance stuff, which isn’t fun, but I’ll manage.

Late to 2020: Reviewing 2019

I’m not terribly proud of myself for falling behind in December, but I also worked much less on my writing and my conlang. For the first time in a long while, I had a huge boost in motivation to work on GURPS stuff. So, that’s what I did, but I didn’t post about anything because progress in GURPS is always really slow. As I was a few months ago, I spent most of the month working on mixing Knowing Your Own Strength with Conditional Injury, and I made some really good headway. That’s to say I feel a little bit more confident about understanding the underlying math. After not playing GURPS at all in 2019, I’m really trying to make this the year that I get it going again. So, even if I don’t finish all of the stuff I’m working on, I have to let myself be content with running vanilla GURPS/DRFPG (or, at least, more vanilla than I want to).

March

Looking back at March, I was diagnosed with cervical radiculopathy. Though I still sleep with a loose cervical collar, I sometimes forget about that whole ordeal and how I was taking steroids for a few weeks there. I was just starting this site and trying to get it all set up, so I didn’t make much progress in my conlang.

April

I started working on my first custom font. Looking back at those old posts, I realize now that the old font is broken in most of the earlier cases. Oops! I was also obsessed with the Hamilton soundtrack at the time, and I gave a presentation on conlanging to an introductory linguistics class. That was fun!

May

I worked on syntax and phrase structure rules for my conlang. I also made my first visit to Ohio with my girlfriend! While I know I’ve only been living here for about half a year, it still feels like that stuff happened such a long time ago.

June

I created the new alphabet for my conlang and had a lot of fun designing a glyph specifically for «h». While I didn’t write about it, I think that means I also saw Flor de Toloache that month too (because I was working on the «h» glyph up until the show started if I’m remembering correctly). If that’s the case, that means I also discovered that I can do a mean grito for a white person.

July

I published my paper on Laiholh psycho-collocations. That was this last year too? I’m proud that I got a fair amount done. I worked on the new new alphabet for my conlang, which I called the 7HR alphabet.

August

I settled into my new home in Ohio. For my conlang, I started working on the first words. I also changed the word class vowels to be head-initial—great idea, past me!

September

That was apparently another month in which I focused almost entirely on GURPS! Looking back, it’s weird to think that decapitation was a topic for one of my blog posts. If prospective employers ever see that, they might be a bit worried.

October

I finalized (mostly) the monosyllabic words and the numerals in my conlang, and I also made a new font for my new alphabet, complete with (some) punctuation! That particular font might just be my conlang highlight of the year.

November

I beat NaNoWriMo! Enough said!

My 2020 Vision

Hey, look! I used the same joke as everyone else! This year, I hope to nail down my powerlifting squat form so my knee stops bothering me so much. While I never talk about working out here, that’s really a huge priority for me.

For my conlang, I want to start working on more words. I’m considering allow «s» at the end of syllables too because there’s a new worldlang called Globasa that I really like that makes the case for allowing /s/ at the end of syllables. Of course, that would mean a few big things like having more options for monosyllabic words and having to redo my font to include those options for all syllables. Though, I am considering removing «n» or «m» as a syllable-final option and throwing in «s» as the replacement.

For my writing, I really want to finish the first draft of my story that I started working on with NaNoWriMo. I’m really excited to continue exploring the concepts in that story. Plus, it’s that story that really rekindled my drive to work on GURPS.

Speaking of GURPS, like I said, I plan to try to play some this year. At the very least, I’d like to prepare and run a one-shot just to get back into it. At the very-very least, I’d like to run a rules lite game like FATE or Powered by the Apocalypse or something.

That’s all for now! I’ll try to post more regularly this month.