Dudley Was A Buysexual

…mostly because it was just easier that way.

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The Doclopedia #1,572

A Tale Of Six Wands: The Wand Of Seeking
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Good morning once again, dear Tenna. When I was told that you had left early to take yesterday’s story to a no doubt panicked Theramachus, I took the liberty of heading out on yet more errands of my own.

He did? Hahahaha! I would have given a tenmoon to see his face. But he did send the proper bag of money, so everything is right.

I trust the room provided for you was satisfactory? Oh, really, you praise my humble household too much. It was the least I could do, since the hour was so late and Foxnight is often a less than safe time to be about. Now, let us have tea and begin today’s tale. I believe Prindeep has brewed us up some of the lovely Red Mountain Black today.

I would love for this tale to be about how complex and difficult it is to create a Wand of Seeking, but the fact is they are utterly common and made in batches of up to 30 at a time. Only a Wand of Light is more common.


As you perhaps know, Wands of Seeking are most commonly used by adventurers for locating everything from loot to monsters to traps. They are also a common item among city guards and rural patrols, most often to locate a guilty party or a lost child. The wands have long lasting charges and are quite versatile. Of course, versatility means a reduction in effective distance, so most such wands seldom reach out more than about 90 feet.

However, the Wand of Seeking I was asked to make needed to be very specific indeed. It also needed a very great range, as much as 20 miles. Why? Because the Six Saviors knew that somebody was behind the expansion of the Ostugar Giant Lands. Somebody not a Giant, whom we know now to be a fellow called Histeen the Mad, an outcast from the far Al’Anak’a Islands. Praise the gods he was utterly destroyed, and by the hand of the very Giants he had whipped into a frenzy of hate and bloodlust.

The components of the wand were of the usual type, but the construction process was slower and more intense. In addition, the breath of 100 hounds and the eyes of a Great Eagle (taken from a corpse that died of old age) were infused into it. Certain oils and bindings made of rare metals were used to limit the wand to 5 charges. Finally, it was rested in the crypt of Duliman the Explorer for a fortnight. Then, it was ready.

Activated, the wand would produce a line of red light visible only to the user. That line would extend out 20 miles in a straight line toward the objective. I am told that it took all five charges to finally locate Histeen, who was 150 miles behind enemy lines in a small castle, now completely gone and replaced by a meadow.

And that is all to that story, Tenna. Tomorrow’s story, I assure you, will be quite different, since it involves the creation of the single most dangerous wand anyone of my profession has ever made.

Until then, let us enjoy lunch and then, once you have dropped the story off with Theramachus and gotten payment, perhaps you would care to join me on a boat ride along the Border Canal? It will take a few hours, after which we could have dinner at a wonderful Syballan restaurant I know of. After that, perhaps a visit to the Royal Night Garden?

You will? My heart swells with joy! Now, let us see what tasty delights Prindeep has for us.
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The Doclopedia #1,573

A Tale Of Six Wands: The Wand Of Wild Magic
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Oh…oh my. I…I… Oh, please do excuse me if I stumble on my apology. I mean, it has been many years since something like this has happened and I assure you it was not my intention to…

Seduced me? I…what? I…did you? I must admit that I drank a bit too much guarit last night, so things are hazy, but…seduced? You seduced me? Yes, yes, I admit that I have never been seduced before. My life these last 150 years have been mostly about my work and business. When feminine companionship was needed, I simply went to the red lantern street. True, I was married when I was young. We had fifty years together, but…seduced? Why?

I, well, yes, you are beautiful and young and your body is delightfully formed, but that is my point. You are young and even though I look a fraction of my actual age, I am still an old man. Surely you could find…

Well, of course I find you interesting beyond your physical beauty. You are at the very least my intellectual equal, if not possessed of the same amount of lifetime learning. Indeed, you have taught me much about the arts, recent politics and the life of ordinary people. I find myself missing you when you are not…well, there we have it then. It has been so very long that I forgot what it was like and how it might happen.

You do? Are you sure? I am truthfully nearing the end of this life, so our years together would be few. My business has been sold these last 5 years to Murgin and Ranoe, and while I am well of, we would…

No? None of that matters to you? I…oh my, I find myself bereft of words.

Thank you, Prindeep. Yes, it has been a most interesting morning. Tell me, old friend, do you think us foolish? Love so late for me and early for her? She is but 25 and I, well, we both know I am near unto worn out. Yes, one cannot argue with love, though people often do. Yes, as always, you are right. Accept the path we are on and enjoy the view. Wise words.

Ah, there is the bell! Go admit her and bring in that bag of gold.

So, my dear, let me tell you the tale of the fifth Wand of Glory. It is indeed a strange one.

First of all, you need to know that creating a Wand of Wild Magic is both an insane undertaking and, as anyone who studies magic now will tell you, impossible. Naturally, my much younger self took this as a personal challenge.

Wands of Time Travel are incredibly tricky to construct, highly unstable and given to a limited amount of power. A person successfully using one might go back as far as a century, stay for an hour, then be jerked back into their proper time, most likely to be sick to their stomach for an hour or so. I needed to go back 4,000 years. You can see the problem.

Fortunately, there lived in Jal a member of my profession who was quite obsessed with time travel. Kaneera Lal lived some miles outside the city of Sotsomo, her nearest neighbors wisely living more than a mile from her. Her estate boundaries were easy to spot, being covered in a light early winter snow when the rest of this part of the world was sweating through mid-summer.

At first, she was highly suspicious of me, but once I told her of what I needed, she became quite eager to help me. As we walked into what she called the “Deep Basement”, I was slightly unnerved by the fact that she was slowly becoming younger. Despite the fact that she had appeared at least 80 when she had answered my knock on her door, she looked no more than 16 by the time we reached our destination.

Said destination was no less that a constantly shifting sphere of multicolored lights that Kaneera informed me was a “time warp portal”. As she puttered about looking for a Wand of Destination, she laid out the rules for time travel.

1: Each layer of colored light I would go through represented a century. Stopping for anything over 5 seconds would reset the color bands to decades, then months, then days, then hours.

2: I would have up to 10 hours in the past before popping back into the present.

3: Don’t worry about changing history, because you can’t.

4: Avoid all other time travelers. She was most insistent about this one.

After using the Wand of Destination to show me a clear path to the city of Peskandar, some 4,200 years in the past, I stepped into the portal and began my journey of 42 steps.

Oh, no, the actual walk through the portal was quite easily done. I was surprised by that. Like you, I felt that there would be enormous forces assaulting me, but such was not the case. It was no different that walking across an empty street.

I stopped in the 42nd band of light, a pleasant light orange, and waited a few seconds until it split into 10 decades. Not being picky, I stopped in the third decade, awaited the years, then went for the fifth year, sixth month, tenth day.

I emerged into the very busy market of a large city on a warm spring day. Seeing a merchant dealing in magical charms, I went over to him and inquired where I might find the most powerful wizard in the city. He merely pointed to a tower that rose above all else, including the grand castle on the hill. I thanked him and tossed him a silver piece.

The tower proved to be over two miles distant, but still well within the city walls. At least 500 feet tall, the tower seemed to be made of a single piece of stone, the exact type of which I could not determine. The base was about 200 feet across and surrounded by a low wall and a beautiful little garden. There was no gate under the entry arch.

No sooner had I walked through from the street to the garden, than a small being, perhaps 3 feet high, stepped out the front door of the tower. He looked like a vastly more civilized version of the Forest Kobits one sees in the Western Lands.

“Greetings, Vanderas of Geshpar. The Master has been expecting you. Please, follow me.”

Stunned though I was by being known to these people, I followed him into the first floor room, which seemed to be half waiting room and half indoor garden. My companion, whose name was Dolbo, showed me to a large round red carpet in the very center of the room, above which was a shaft that looked to run all the way to the top. He instructed me to stand in the center and enjoy the ride. A moment later, I was racing upward at a very high speed.

The carpet slowed and then stopped in a finely appointed room that had four large open arches leading out to a balcony that encircled the room. In a large and comfortable looking chair sat a man whom I supposed was my host. He looked no more than 30, but then, I do not look 345, do I? If I were to describe his looks, I would call them handsome, in a rugged way.

It is now time for me to be somewhat vague about our conversation, which took up most of my remaining hours. His name was Deron and he was the High Wizard for a vast empire. Of course, I knew this because his legend lives on today, albeit only to a very few scholars of magic and ancient history.

He poured tea and let me know that he knew of me simply because the entire city was ensorceled to let him know if a new mage or purveyor of magic entered it. When I told him what I needed, he nodded and said he would fetch everything and have it ready before I left.

From there on, we spoke of the past, the future and many things that probably should not be spoken of at all. He seemed quite unconcerned by the coming loss of magic as he knew it, telling me only that magic comes and goes over time, so it does naught to worry. He also told me that wands were not a bad way to go, magicwise, since they could make anyone a user of magic without “interminable years of serving under a Master Wizard with delusions of grandeur”.

Shortly before my 10 hours were up, we were brought a long thin crystal of pure wild magic, as well as a few other things. I thanked him and then, just a few seconds later, appeared in Kaneera’s Deep Basement. The old girl herself was asleep on a sofa, snoring loudly and unable to be awakened by my best efforts. I scribbled a note to her and then left.

Five days later, I was standing in a cow pasture just two miles outside the walls of Geshpar. It was quite late at night and both moons were full. After a short wait, I saw a shooting star hurtling toward me. It slowed and slowed again until a black and pitted steel cylinder came to rest gently on the ground a few yards from me. A quick wave of a Wand of Opening caused a door to open and allowed me to retrieve the package containing the wild magic and other items. I then mounted my horse and rode home. The cylinder was found by the farmer the next day and is still on display at the Geshparan Museum of Oddities.

The rest of the story is barely…what? Oh, I am sorry. Let me explain. You see, I could not bring anything back through time that I did not take with me. Hiding the package away for over 4,000 years was also out of the question, since all the magic would be drained. Therefore, Deron simply sent the steel cylinder to the Small Moon, since nothing beyond our world was affected by the magic leaving. A timing spell brought it back to me at the appointed date and time. Quite a tidy solution, if you ask me.

Anyway, the rest of the story is quick to tell. I constructed the wand easily, it was used in the Great Battle to devastating effect and the rest truly is history.

Now, my love, what say you to a long hot bath together before dinner? Excellent!

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Not In This Issue: Hogs, Body Modification, Cheese or Trainspotting

…we do have an article on brainspotting

The Doclopedia #1,505

More Islands of Adventure: Goat Island


At 20 miles long and 8 miles wide, Goat Island is not one of the bigger islands in the Shallow Sea. It offers ships little protection from storms, since it does not have more than a couple of places where a ship larger than a small fishing boat can drop anchor. What it does offer is food, and lots of it.

Nobody knows exactly when the island was set up to provide food to passing ships, but the Winta people who live on the island say they were brought here at least 300 years ago. Their legends say that a Captain Mesada stocked the island with goats, pigs and many types of poultry. Shortly thereafter, he brought the Winta to the island, along with many bags of seeds and small fruit trees. He told them to plant them and then sailed off. A year later, he returned with more seeds, more trees and many types of vines.

This went on for a few more years, then Captain Mesada returned and he and half his men went into the island’s interior with many cartloads of building materials. The rest of his men sailed off, but returned with even more merchandise and a number of women. The ship made three more trips before dropping off the remaining crew and sailing off with a new crew.

Captain Mesada and his crew of 150 men, plus their wives, settled in a small valley, built a village and pretty much kept to themselves. The Winta were told to trade food for gold or other items with passing ships and give half the proceeds to the Captain. In all other matters, the island was theirs to govern and live on as they chose.

300 years later, there are 10 Winta villages on the island, three of which trade with ships. The rest devote their time to preparing foods for the ships, from goat cheese to jerky to fresh or dried fruit and more. In a good year, there will be trade with 20 or 30 ships.

Mesada Village is still populated by descendents of the original sailors, plus other people who came to live their. Visitors from the outside world are not allowed.

The Doclopedia #1,506

More Islands of Adventure: Hrolf’s Island

Hrolf Horgunsson is not an easy man to deal with, in any sense of the word. His ex wives will tell you he is an arrogant and demanding son of a bitch. His former apprentices say he’s dangerous when angered. His children…well, they have nothing to do with him. As for people trying to do business, whether commercial or government based, well, they barely tolerate him.

Hrolf is one of the most powerful mages in the world and many have sought to buy things from him. His potions and enchanted weapons are highly sought after. Other, more powerful spells and items, can command extraordinarily high prices. Governments sometimes seek out Hrolf’s aid, which can come at steep prices beyond that of mere gold.

All of these business dealing come at the unavoidable cost of journeying to Hrolf’s Island, which the insufferable old bastard has created in the exact center of the Great Inland Sea, a freshwater lake 200 miles across and, near the island, home to great and dangerous beasts.

The island is perfectly round and measures 2 miles across. It slopes up evenly and gently to a small hill about 150 feet tall, on top of which is Hrolf’s small castle. Only one trail leads there and it passes through a dense forest filled with many creatures that are the result of Hrolf’s experiments. On the bright side, regardless of what is happening in the outside world, the weather on the island is always very pleasant.

Anyone going to Hrolf’s Island with bad intent will sorely regret it.

Of course, so do most of the people who come with good intent.

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Fish Stories

…but not about fish


A Sort Of A Teaser To Fill Space

One of the writing projects I’ve had on a back burner is called “Ten Short Stories About Death”. My main requirement and self imposed rules are…

1: Each story has to be short, preferably no more that 1,500 words
2: Each story has to be very different from the rest
3: When completed, all of the stories, read in order, will tell one extra story.
4: At least one character in each story has to die.

The titles I have, some of which are for stories already finished, are…

“The Final Battle Of Sergeant Freedom And Mechanico”
“Dave Olinski Kills His Boss”
“The Great Video Showdown And How Girls Rule”
“The Last Day Of Lulu & Flash”
“TJ-400 Has A Thought”
“Why War Is Bad”
“One Final Fuck You”
“The Last Civilized Woman On Earth”
“Toby Basset Says Goodbye”
“Return Of The Masters”

Once I get all the stories written, I figure I’ll post them one at a time on my Patreon, then later bundle them all up for sale.

And then after that, I’ll move on to “Seven Short Stories About Food”. :)

The Utterly Too Cool For School, Yet Very Peppy, Story Of Mostly Purple Patty And The Battle Of Blackberry Hill

…co-starring her rival in all things, Very Pink Penelope.

Thoughts On Gen Con 2019

First off , before I get to anything else, I want to thank my very dear and wonderful friends, Peter Hildreth and Avis Crane for paying my way to the con, putting me up in Peter’s room, buying my meals and everything else they did. Just seeing and hanging out with the two of them after a 12 year gap would have been more than enough for me. I love you guys, Peter and Avis!

As to the con itself and my reactions to it, I can do the basic sum up like this: I was sick and/or in some amount of pain most of the time, and, after not going for 12 years, was completely out of the Gen Con mental flow.

Now, that is not anyone’s fault, including mine. I had to have a tooth removed by oral surgery on the 25th of July which left my jaw very tender, bruised and swollen. The tenderness and pain were gone by GenCon Sunday, but the bruise is just now faded on Tuesday after the con. Again, not much I could have done to speed things up, but it made eating pretty damned challenging.

Indianapolis, or maybe just the whole Midwest, triggered an allergic reaction in me, so you know that was the opposite of fun. Allergies hit when they hit and you recover as fast as your body allows. In my case, that seems to be today, nearly a day after the con. Dog bless Calye Lacefield and Avis Crane for having allergy meds on hand. As of Tuesday (today) I am about 95% okay, with the exception of some excess snot production probably triggered by something here in the Sacramento Valley.

Being out of the Gen Con mental flow is a whole other thing. Again, it’s not anyone’s fault. When you don’t do something for that long, you stop thinking about it with the excitement you had when you were doing it every year. Even the gap from when I went in 2007, after skipping 2005 & 2006, had me feeling a bit lost when I got there.

I don’t know, maybe age has something to do with it, too, but I really think I just have not exercised my “Gen Con muscles” in so long that it was a bit much for me.

Moving on to other things that affected my enjoyment of the con, and no, this whole piece is NOT going to be a pity party of me bitching, the fact that I was old & out of shape and the con is spread out all over downtown Indianapolis did not help. All that walking with fucked up knees and hips was not pleasant, so there were events and things I didn’t go to. My own fault, really. I had 7 months to work out on the treadmill and I could have packed my superduper ibuprofen.

Now on to the good stuff.

Seeing old friends again after many years was just fucking excellent! Of course, for some unexplained reason we all looked older, but they were still the same fine folks they’ve always been. Sadly, there were a few folks who did not make it to the con this year. I’m not going to name names, because shit happens. Still, it was wonderful seeing the folks I did.

And then there were all of the people I’ve talked to online that I met for the first time! I’m not going to try naming them all, because I know I’ll forget somebody, but rest assured that they are all fine folks. Curiously, about 70% of them were women in the gaming industry, which of itself is a great thing.

One thing that kind of sucks, and not just for me, is the fact that the con is so big and busy, especially for folks in the industry, that you only get to see each other for very short periods of time, if at all. Not much to be done about that, I’m afraid. Maybe someday those folks will get their long dreamed of Relaxicon for industry folks only.


Before moving on to other things, let me say that I have never gotten so many hugs in so short a period of time, outside of a family reunion. I don’t know when hugging hello and goodbye became a thing at cons, but I heartily approve of it.

I hugged straight cis men, gay men, straight cis women, trans women, lesbians, bisexuals, old farts, a couple of ladies young enough to be my granddaughters (a damned sobering thought, since both were over 18), and 2 dogs. I may have hugged a couple of aliens, but it is impolite to ask. Anyway, this hugging thing is a very good idea. Go out and hug some people.

Everyone always asks two questions when you return from Gen Con. Let me address those now.

1: “What games did you play?”

I played in 2 official at Gen Con in 1991, my first time at the con. I had purchased a few tickets, despite not liking the idea of paying to get into games at cons, so I used them. That was the last time I ever played in an official game at Gen Con, although for several years I ran official games and ran demo games for Steve Jackson Games.

Most years, any RPG I play in is either a “room game”, wherein myself or a friend runs a game, or, in rarer instances, a quick game in a bar or empty con room.

This year, there were 3 room games. They were all great fun, including the one I ran for Peter and Avis which, from rules to dice to plotline was completely done on the fly. What can I say, I have mad GM skillz.

And no, I did not play any board games. I was too druggy or sore or tired most of the time.


2: “What games did you buy?”

My game & dice buying this year were not only dictated by my limited funds, but by my limited baggage area. I do not do checked baggage on plane trips. This is due to my inherent distrust of my fellow humans and the fact that I have had baggage arrive days late due to airline fuckups.

So I bought the following: Wizard, Melee and the combined solo Deathtests 1&2. That was it for games. I also bought some interlocking dry erase map boards from Gaming Paper. Aside from that, I bought dice for both my gaming groups, dice for my dice collecting wife and dice for me. I will never go to a game con and not buy dice. It’s an addiction.

Now that we have my gaming purchases summed up, let me say that I saw tons of stuff I may buy in the future. Mostly that falls into the smaller boardgames category, but there were some RPG books that tempted me despite the fact that I have drastically reduced my RPG buying over the last few years.

One thing I did not do at Gen Con, and this is amazingly common for me, is take many pictures and I took NO pictures of friends. I took a few pix of stuff in the Dealer’s Room and other areas of the con, and I took several short videos around various places, but no pix of people I knew. I didn’t even take any selfies. Pathetic.

So, let’s wrap things up. I had a good, but not great time at the con. It would have been much better if I had not been sick. I got to meet lots of folks, which is always good. All in all, a good, but maybe a bit of a strange return to Gen Con.

Will I go to Gen Con again? Well, I never say never, but unless Grace and I start traveling around the country after she retires…or unless I get a job that pays pretty well…and unless Indianapolis get a bunch more hotel rooms downtown, I kind of doubt it. The con has morphed into something altogether different than the con that used to excite me so much. That’s not a bad thing or a good thing, it’s just a thing.

I think if I travel that far from home again to go to a con, it will probably be to go to Origins. It’s been ages since I went to an Origins. And then there are all the West Coast conventions I don’t get to. Finally, there is the fact that I’m a board member of Your Turn Community Game Events and we put on lots of game days. At some point, we’ll put on a gaming weekend and if we aren’t real careful, that could well turn into a con of our own.

Which would pretty much mean I’d be working at a con and not playing at it. Just like my game industry friends. I’m sure there is some sort of Circle of Life, analogy there, but I need to finish this up.

So there you have it, friends, my trip to Gen Con 2019. It was fun and I suggest you go if you’ve never been before.

Doc Cross, signing out.

Was the above bit of writing interesting to you? Well then, consider become a Patron of this blog! Besides being one of the cool kids and getting to read fun stuff, you get sweet compiled Doclopedia posts in the popular PDF format, plus other exclusive stuff, like five versions of the same tavern. You can get in on this for as little as one dollar a month, so click the link and check it out.

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Where Are The Cookies? I Was Told There Would Be Cookies.

…and milk!
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Life On The Magic Bus

Chapter 8, Part 3: Across America At Random

The trip begins
Artwork is observed

Destination Sign: Gondor

7/28/2009

It was 5:35 in the morning and all of the humans involved in the “Great Random Route Trip To GenCon” were standing on the beach looking out at the Pacific Ocean, the city of San Francisco behind them.

“Now remember, everyone, the exact routes we take from points whatever to whatever are purely up to you, except when there is no more than one choice or when a stopping point is off the interstate.” Phil Lacewood, kilt clad as always, paused to sip his tea. Doc picked up where Phil left off.

“Stopping time is 5:00 pm each day at whatever spot is randomly chosen. Starting times after today will always be 7:00 am, so we are doing 10 hour days. Each leg of the trip will have 3 points where you need to get a geek item. These are being set up now by our dedicated advance team, who left yesterday at 6:00 pm. Nobody knows exactly what the geeky items are, but their general locations will be well marked on your daily maps and the exact location will have a sign.”

“Everyone has a cell phone or other internet connection, so stay in touch.”, Phil said. “If you have trouble or find something cool we should know about, let everyone know. Okay, we’ve got sun up coming in about 5 minutes, so grab a couple more donuts and climb in your rigs. When the whistle blows, we’re off! Have fun and we’ll see you all at stop #1!”

There were 15 vehicles involved in the race, ranging from the Magic Bus to Phil’s heavily modified Saab wagon to a 1959 Cadillac Coupe DeVille to a Volkswagen bug. All of then held at least 2 people.

The drivers climbed into them and and a few minutes later, a young college student who had been paid $50 to start the race blew a very loud whistle. The race was on.

On the Magic Bus, Doc and Spike were in the cab and everyone else was either in the living room or still in bed. Both men had donuts and a hot drink. Their present route had them driving city streets until they got to the Bay Bridge. Along the way, they pointed out spots that they had visited in years gone by.

“There’s the Doggie Diner we ate at when Mary was pregnant with the twins”, Spike pointed out. “I think she ate more hot dogs on that trip than the previous year.”

Doc chuckled. “Yeah, pregnancy cravings will do that. When Grace was pregnant with Sam, we could not keep enough ice cream in the house for a while there. Then she switched over to thin sliced hard salami.”

They passed old game stores and restaurants and book stores, each one eliciting a memory or two. Eventually, they came to the bridge and not long after that, turned off onto city streets in the East Bay.

Somewhere about 90 minutes into the trip, as they were nearing Vallejo, Winker stepped into the cab.

“I’m taking breakfast orders. What will you two have?”

Spike went with a bowl of Cap’n Crunch and Doc opted for a steak & eggs breakfast burrito. Winker left and 15 minutes later a SmartBot arrived with their meals.

About 20 minutes later, while driving along a country road near Fairfield, they got a text from one of their fellow drivers saying there was a “field full of interesting artwork” up ahead. A few minutes later, Doc pulled up and everyone got off the Bus to have a look.

“Everything is made out of cans”, Sasha said as she went into the field for a better look.

True enough, each of the 6 statues was built entirely out of cans that had previously held food or drink. The largest was 15 feet tall and was a man in the middle of a golf swing. A 12 foot tall woman stood nearby in an ice skating pose. Three 7 foot tall kids playing baseball were about 50 feet away and the whole tableau was finished by a 6 foot long dog leaping to catch a Frisbee.

Very sporty”, Grace observed. “I wonder if it was done for the Sacramento Winter Olympics back in 1994?”

Doc was busy taking pictures. He was certain this was not on any Roadside attractions lists, and Roadside Attractions Monthly paid a hundred bucks for finding new stuff.

After a few more minutes, everyone got back into their vehicles and took off. Spike left the cab to go hang out in the living room and was soon replaced by Lulu. She and Doc chatted about various things until they were a few miles outside Dixon, where the first geeky items were. Doc popped open the door at the stop, which was right under a large hand painted sign about 60 feet off a short dead end side road. Lulu jumped out and grabbed one of the 6 inch plush 4 sided dice. As she got back on the Bus, everyone in the living room area cheered.

A bit later, after they had crossed into Sacramento via the I Street Bridge, Doc made a turn down an alley, leaving the 14 other cars behind. He knew that they were all planning on going out Auburn Boulevard until they got to Roseville. But Doc had been listening to the radio and knew that there was an accident on I-80, which would move traffic off to nearby surface streets. He would take a route down a slightly more distant street and avoid the slowdown.

Once the texts about slowing down started coming in, doc waited about 5 minutes, then texted everyone the route to use. He got back many texts, most of which went much like Phil’s text of “Thanks, you cunning bastard”. With a comfortable lead now his, Doc got back on Auburn Blvd and drove as fast as traffic would allow.

All things being equal, the drive from San Francisco to Reno, Nevada, usually takes about 4 hours or so. It had taken out intrepid races 6 hours, which included the stop at Donner Summit to get geeky item #2, a bottle of Jolt! Cola. All cars were now parked in the lot at the Peppermill Casino & Resort, where they would hit the buffet for the last joint lunch of the trip. After today, the rule was “grab lunch where ya can grab it!”.

An hour later, they were on the freeway heading to the next point where they could get off onto side roads. Doc chose to go north of the interstate for two reasons: a long straight stretch of gravel road and a nearly forgotten piece of roadside attraction history.

The First Cat Ranch West Of The Mississippi was, as it turned out, the only cat ranch anywhere. It seems that in the spring of 1897, a couple named Elom and Gussie Hork decided to settle down outside ?????, Nevada and “raise fancy cats to sell back East”. To feed the cats, they raised chickens. Unfortunately, the winter of 1898-1899 was pretty harsh and over the course of a month, bears and coyotes got all of the chickens. Deprived of food, the cats got…unruly. In May of 1869, the local sheriff came out to check on the ranch “cos them two wasn’t right in the head”. He found no trace of the Horks or the cats. The whole self guided tour took less than 15 minutes and cost nothing. Even Grace admitted that the little cat sized corrals and barns were kinda cute looking.

Geeky stop #3 was just west of Winnemucca and the item was an assortment of of convention t-shirts, please take only one. Doc chose an Origins 2001 shirt, mostly because that con had been in Sacramento and he and Spike had first discussed selling their company then.

At just before 5:00 PM, the last car in the race rolled into the Wendover Campground and RV Park in Wendover, Nevada. Conveniently located next to a casino, the racers all agreed that more buffet and some gambling might be in order. The day’s winner for the race were Chuck & Peter Hildreth, who had made great, if bone jarring, time across Nevada in a 1965 Ford Pickup belonging to Chuck. The Magic Bus came in third.

After a few hours of eating, drinking and general merrymaking, everyone went back to their campsites and got some sleep in preparation for Day #2.

Dark Secrets Of The Dog Park

…mostly, they’re about eating poop
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After The Change Came

Series 4

A Day For Books And Walking


Greetings, Dear Readers. I’m back for another entry in the blog. Today, I’ll be telling you about my action packed yesterday. Well, action packed if you call a 24 mile walk to a used book store “action packed”. In point of fact, it was a pretty mellow day.

My favorite used book store here in the Sacramento area is Booktown Used Books, which is just about 12 miles from here, near downtown. It has been in that location since 1928. Arliss Brantner owns it and he is the 4th generation of his family to do so. It’s the largest bookstore in Northern California. The fantasy/science fiction section alone is twice the size our our living room, and our living room is big.

So, with the kids in school and Grace puttering around the house, I set off walking to Booktown. The weather has been great lately, with the spring rains mostly behind us and the summer heat a few weeks away. As I’ve said before, after the Change, downtown Sacramento was moved away from the rivers (American & Sacramento) to a spot 6 miles northeast and now high enough to never flood. As with all cities, towns & villages in the world, we have a Ring Road running in a perfect circle around town. It is located exactly 15 miles out from Sacramento’s Central Tower, where our City Dragon lives.

30 roads and streets run out from city center to the Ring Road. Grace and I live on Greenback Lane, one of the main roads. It meanders like a river toward downtown. Lots of curves, up and down hill, passing through our many greenbelts and farms and residential areas. It’s a nice walk.

Actually, almost all roads in Sacramento meander. There are very few that run straight for more than a mile or two. I probably ought to also point out that you’ll see very few cars on the road. People walk, ride bikes or horses or other animals, roller skate/skateboard, ride flying carpets (Mahmoud’s Enchanted Carpets has, like, 9 locations), or take the anibuses, which run every 15 minutes.

So there I am, at 8:00 in the morning, walking along, breathing the fresh air and enjoying the sunshine. Birds are singing in the trees, bunnies & squirrels and other wildlife are out doing their thing. I see neighbors tending their gardens or livestock. A few are just sitting on their porches, drinking their morning beverage. Other folks are walking along, including one young couple who are going on a picnic outside the city limits.

I’ve mentioned in the past that Ring Roads also double as city boundaries. They are enchanted to keep dangerous creatures or sapients out, and to a lesser extent mitigate really bad weather, wildfires and earthquakes. That’s why San Francisco will never again have a really terrible earthquake.

I tend to walk a bit faster than most non-mutant humans, so even pausing frequently to look at things or talk to folks or buy a peach milkshake at Bonnie’s Burgers, I’m doing 5 miles an hour. As with any city or town, the closer you get to downtown, the more urban things get. Now, that does not mean houses crammed right next too each other, since by law every home in California has to sit on at least half an acre of land and all urban areas must have extensive greenbelts. That latter is why you often see deer or even elk strolling through our downtown.

At just about the 2.5 hour mark, I reach Booktown. This may well be my 1,000th time there, since I’ve been going there for decades. My first visit was in 1970, a couple of months after I got my driver’s license. It was while I was on Easter break from Hobart’s School for Young Ladies & Gentlemen and on that visit, I bought about 30 books to take back with me, mostly pulp reprints.

Arliss and his wife, Olive, gave me a hearty greeting and advised me that they had gotten in about 5,000 books a week earlier that were now on the shelves. I grabbed a complimentary cup of tea and started looking around. Arliss had British Invasion rock & roll playing and coconut incense burning. Despite being born in 1985, Arliss and Olive are a couple of hippies.

90 minutes later I had a stack of 40 books and magazines, including the British mag “QuestWorld Spectator”, issues 1-4. I paid for them, said goodbye to the Brantners and left the shop to go grab some lunch. On my way to a great Indian buffet, I put the books on Ralph, a dogbus that runs up Fair Oaks Blvd to the Ring Road. He transferred them to Fancy, a bunnybus who transferred them to Waldo, another dogbus. Waldo dropped them off at our front gate and Ben, our main House Elf, transported them to our library.

After a wonderful lunch of Indian food and a mug of pale ale, I began my walk home. I decided to use the footpaths found in the greenbelts and had a great time birdwatching, looking at and talking to various animals, and generally grooving on nature. The walk home took 3.5 hours and when I arrived at the old homestead, I was greeted by the twins and their friends. They were making up a game that I won’t even try to explain, but for about 10 minutes, I was a moving goal post.

Once I got into the house and sat down, Ben showed up with a cold iced tea. After I finished the tea, I was considering a short nap. This plan was abandoned when my green skinned hottie of a wife came and sat on my lap and whispered saucy suggestions in my ear. Later, we ate dinner with the kids and then played some dice games.

All in all, a pretty damned great day.

More bloggage later.

Doc

The Cupcake Gnomes Meet The Pie Pixies

…it was a sweet meeting
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Sasha Explains It All

Sanctuaries

Hi, folks! In this edition, I’d like to talk about the many Sanctuary areas that the Non-Human Terran Alliance has set up around the world. Some of them are set up just to give NHT a place to live other than small enclaves out in the wild, while others are set up to allow endangered or even extinct species a place to survive. All of them were set up with the use of very advanced technology. I know, because I provided it.

Our first sanctuary, Dog Mountain, was started on January 4th, 1979 and finished 6 months later. This was done using very large robots and lots of nanotech. It was also done 2,000 years ago right here in California, down north of San Diego, where Camp Pendleton is now.

Dog Mountain is really more of a big hill. It’s about 3.5 miles across at the base and rises up 900 feet at the center. It is honeycombed with tunnels and open areas and places for dogs and other species to live. The majority of the outside is very park-like. 200,000 NHT live there, 90% being dogs. I own a rather large home in Dog Mountain. It is a great place.

Our second sanctuary opened a month after Dog Mountain and is located 4,000 years ago in Lake Superior. Wolf Island is actually a chain of three large islands that float just on the surface of the lake. The largest island is 50 miles wide and 80 miles long, the next largest is 90 miles long and 35 miles wide, and the smallest is 45 miles long and 22 miles across. The bridges that connect them are all 5 miles wide and from 11 to 29 miles long. The bridges are heavily planted and hardscaped, so you never really know you are on a bridges.

Due to wolves being, well, wolves, there are only 3,000 on the island, which, like dog island, has tunnels running through the hills for them to live in. There is a very small area at the southernmost point of the southernmost island for visitors of other NHT species. Humans are never allowed on Wolf Island. Given the millennia of mistreatment humans gave wolves, their attitude is understood.

Game, from mice to moose, is plentiful on the island and the wolves manage things very well. NHT wolves live one of the most traditional lifestyles of all NHT species, so they hunt their prey just as their ancestors did. Wolf Island has very little technology.

When the wolf population exceeds 3,000, the excess are given the choice of going into our time to live, or making a journey overland to Wolf Valley, 300 miles away in Canada. Most go there, but a very few decide to go live in the present, usually in another NHT Sanctuary. About half of the young wolves who do this adjust well to the NHT lifestyle. The rest go back to Wolf Valley.

Traveling again to the San Diego region, and then 2,500 years into the past, you come to Rabbit Valley. Set with one end right at the coastline and the other 30 miles to the northeast, this valley is actually protected by mindscreens that keep predators (including humans) out, with the exception of 10 north/south passages that are about a half mile wide. These passages offer easy travel, the better to get predators past the valley.

The valley is designed with wide meadows, many small streams, a few ponds, shady trees and…technology.

Of all the sapients on earth, only rabbits come close to humans in their love of tech. Rabbit valley has electricity (solar & wind), radio & tv stations, a subway (that’s how they get across those predator trails), telephones, theaters, internet…just about everything a modern city might have, except for guns and crime.

Here’s another jaw dropper: Rabbits are the financial wizards of the NHT world. Every NHT company, including my own, has bunnies keeping the books. My own CFO is a rabbit, Sundew Thumper, and I would be lost without her. The NHTA is worth about 5 trillion dollars and rabbits are the reason why.

I should note here that since the creation of the Ottopus, many young rabbits have moved away from finance to study the sciences. These young bucks & does are doing great in their chosen fields.

Of course, every once in a very great while, a young bun decides to completely rebel and go off on a different course. A couple of prime examples are my sister Daisy’s boyfriend, Max, and his best friend, Ollie.

One more note: No other NHT species has as complex a family setup or genealogy as rabbits. We dogs probably come closest, but are still a distant second.

Okay, it looks like I’ve written a lot here, but I also have two kids about to come home from a day out with Uncle Luke and Auntie Misty, so I need to get ready to hear how much fun they had. I’ll continue this piece in the next edition and discuss Sanctuaries outside North America.

Until my next rant,

Sasha Jane Cross, PhD (x6)