Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Old TSR Boardgames (War of the Wizards)

 Over on his blog, John (Sacnoth) Rateliff has been talking about TSR boardgames from the eldest of days - Lankhmar, Cohorts, Battle of the Five Armies, Knights of Camelot, 4th Dimension and Warlocks & Warriors. I know he doesn't have War of the Wizards in his collection, so I will talk about this one.

There is an interesting thing to note. In Elusive Shift, Jon Peterson makes and excellent case for how early D&D was shaped by players who came in from the wargaming side and those who came in from the SF Fandom side. I noted that a lot of my generation of designers were from the wargaming side of fandom. However, at the very beginning, we had a strong component of established SF/Fantasy authors who were contributing to the milieu. authors such as Fritz Leiber, Gardner Fox, Harry Fischer and L Sprague DeCamp were not only helping create the fantasy genre we mined in the game, but were also creating new games in the early TSR years.

In addition, we have early games like the original Dungeon! (which predates D&D) and M.A.R. Barker's War of the Wizards. War of the Wizards is a game set in Tekumel, Barker's setting for Empire of the Petal Throne. The games were released pretty close to each other, WotW name-drops a lot of the places, creatures, and background color of the setting. It never mentions Tekumel itself by name, but rather the nation of Tsolyanu and refers to the RPG as "Petal Throne". The gods are the Lords of Glory and the Rulers of the Shadows and generally identified as good and evil, or law against chaos. Creatures include a lot EPT standards, along with more traditional names that you can use instead.

The concept of the game is very simple - two spellcasters (choice of sorcerer or priest) are at opposite ends of a football field. They cast spells at each other, which then advance down the field at their opponents. Spells can affect other spells, walls, and summoned creature, and ultimately the opposing wizard, who has so many hit points. Kill the opposing wizard, and you win.

The first version of this game was self-published by Barker and is apparently rarer than hen's teeth. The "second edition" was in a plastic bag from TSR, and was quickly replaced by one of TSR's early boxes. I played the game itself back in college (Purdue University) in the Boilermaker Grill in the basement of Tarkington Hall. I got hold of the box version is one of TSR's frequent clean-out-the-library purges. So opening the box, I found I had versions 2 and 3, both with unpunched counters, along with the ruleset for the 1982 Car Wars minigame and instructions on how to paint the Bear Chariot miniature from Ral Partha.

War of the Wizards was a classic "wizards duel" game, and, like Empire of the Petal Throne, was extremely advanced for its time. Released in 1975, it showed that early TSR had a strong commitment to Barker's work. A set of miniature rules followed, and Zenopus Archives has an article on a Dungeon! variant that was in the works that never saw the light of day. Adventure Modules were not much of a thing yet, so there were none from TSR at the time. Yet TSR showed a commitment to Tekumel, and then they didn't, and things faded away by the time the G-series and later the campaign worlds showed up.

It is an interesting part of history, and a good game as well. I'm not sure if this is the first "wizards' duel" sort of game, but it is one of the most involved and detailed. Someone could easily resurrect it, or create a version online (and it is sort of like Plants Vs. Zombies in its approach - things keep changing and staying the same).

More later, 



Thursday, February 11, 2021

Life in the Time of the Virus: Full Circle

New York Office, Hopper, 1962
 A year ago, at the end of January, I was in New York City. I was recording lines for a game with an Emmy-winning actor, lines which will now never see the light of day. I had pizza in a crowded restaurant off Times Square. I had dinner with my niece and her husband at a nice place in Brooklyn. I walked down to the Strand bookstore. I bought a copy of William Gibson's book, but not from there. I flew back in a crowded plane.

A year ago, in February, I was planning to go to London. We were going to do a live event and meet with the European gaming press. As the reports of the coronavirus spread, the idea of travel to Europe became dicey. Some of the guests had already cancelled. I was in the "High Risk Group" that was already being intubated in overfull hospitals. I cancelled my attendance. The next day, the company cancelled the event.

A year ago, in March, we emptied the office. Everyone went home to work. I brought my laptop home and set myself up in the basement, on an old table from Milt's Wood Shed, in Wisconsin. We learned to handle the vagaries of on-line conferences. Having met most of my co-workers' dogs in the office, I now got to know their cats. In May we launched in the game. In June we pulled it back to Beta. In October we cancelled it outright. I moved onto another project.

It has been a year. I think is the last of these write-ups, because there is little more to be said. The world has changed and we have changed with it. I am comfortable with the fact that it will change further as we move along.

I am not vaccinated yet, nor is the Lovely Bride. By the priorities of our particular state, we are neither old enough, nor essential enough to do so. I'm good with that, but want to make sure that those who are old enough, or essential enough, or from large multi-generational families, are vaccinated. The roll-out has been rough, with anecdotes of insufficient stockpiles, broken freezers, sudden rushes, long lines, fools spoiling the vaccine, and other pains.

My mother, in her retirement community, has had her first-round vaccination, not because of the efforts of the village's managers, but because my younger sister and brother canvassed the area for a place where she could get the shot, and then took her there. She says everything about the procedure itself was well-ordered and efficient and not crowded at all. So there is some solace there.

In the outer world, the Lovely Bride has returned to working in her office every day. She is an Enrolled Agent, a professional tax preparer, and her works with an investment firm. Most of the investment agents are still working from home, and her office has a door. I am left with the cats, who demand attention regularly, usually when I am on a conference call. I leave the house for groceries and a weekly comics run. I play D&D and Call of Cthulhu over Discord with friends who I once sat around a living room with.

I am noticing a change in the news, in that I am suddenly hearing about things in other countries - protests in Russia, a coup in Myanmar, the repercussions of Brexit, a farmer's strike in India, and the United Arab Emirates have sent a spacecraft to Mars (wait, what?). It may because our own government is no longer sucking all the oxygen out of the room with their clownishness (and they could reduce it a bit more), or that we are waking up from a long self-imposed slumber to pay attention to the rest of the world.

Bu as a note to a future self, things are still more than a little tense. We have functional vaccines, but we also have variants and mutations of the disease itself, so the question remains of how long this will go on. But it feels like there is hope that will be an end to it, and though I don't want a return to "normalcy" (a cry of the Coolidge administration in the wake of war and plague), I do want stuff to settle down for a while. Boring. I could go with boring. Boring would be good.

More later,



Sunday, January 31, 2021

Plague Books: The Evolution of Gaming

The Elusive Shift by Jon Peterson, The MIT Press 2020

Provenance: Christmas present, 2020, despite the fact that it went on sale on 22 December of that year. This one is jumping the queue in the reviews, because I have three friends who are already interested in reading it as well.

Review: OK, I'm a fan of Playing at the World, both the book and the blog. PatW covers the history of wargames and roleplaying games, up to about 1975 or so. Elusive Shift carries the story just a bit further, drilling down on the gaming community from about 1975-1980, and the changes that swept roleplaying during that time. In particular, it starts with the fact that the original D&D, the little brown box with the pamphlet-sized booklets, were not called a roleplaying game at all, but rather a wargame. It did not even mention Dungeon Masters*. So how did things change? How did D&D evolve?

Peterson concentrates on the playing community in this book. TSR walks onto the field with statements by Gygax and Top Secret designer Merle Rasmussen, but most of the action is outside the city limits of Lake Geneva, in the fandom and in the myriad of small competitors that sprung up around the initial release of D&D. 

Peterson works from primary sources as well, with the published fanzines of the era, as opposed to the memories of the original participants. That's got plusses and minuses. One great plus is that memories are short and recollections are often shaded by intervening events. The past gets revised and rewritten in the retelling. I cannot remember if our group ever referred to the DM by the earlier term of Referee (even though we had a song called "My God What a Cheap Referee")**

The downside is that these primary sources are they are the words of people who wrote stuff down, which is a vocal subset of the entire playing audience. These were people who had opinions, and for whom examining, expanding, explaining, and defining the game was as important as playing in it. It is valuable information, but there is a lot of personal opinion in there as well.

One of the big primary sources for this information was the late Lee Gold's Alarums & Excursions, an excellent zine that has run from the distant past of D&D to the present. In construction, it was actually a collection of zines - you'd write up your four or ten pages, make copies (often mimeographed) on colored paper, send in the copies, and Gold would assemble and distribute them to the other readers and contributors. I've read a number of copies over the years, but because I did not read them sequentially, I missed a lot. Many writers would respond to things from the previous issues, making any edition of the magazine sort of like coming into the middle of a thread on the Internet, where everyone seems to know what is going on but you. 

Lee Gold created A&E in part because she came out of SF Fandom, and Peterson shows that as a definite split in the early fans - those that came out of SF that were attracted by the subject matter, and those who came out of wargaming, who were playing Avalon Hill games like Panzer Blitz and Gettysburg, writing up Diplomacy 'zines, and playing games at conventions. Each group wanted different things out of roleplaying games and saw different routes forward. From this dynamic came a lot of the early fan-based evolution of D&D

The early TSR designers were mostly from the wargamer side of the equation, but a lot of the longstanding RPG worlds came from the other side - imaginary worlds that used roleplaying as a mechanism to tell their stories - The Forgotten Realms, Glorantha, and Tekumel all had a life before before becoming RPGs. But most of the design team had wargaming blood in them, and while I was an SF fan back in the day, I did come in the door through wargaming. (The Lovely Bride, on the other hand, had her own Federation Starship, the Quetzalcoatl, in high school, so tag her more from the SF contingent).

The book was a tough read for me, primarily because I kept stopping to double-check stuff and think about what my experiences were during this period. I started at the Purdue Wargaming Club in the fall of 1975. We never had a Caller, though my group tended to have a Leader who kept the group together and a Mapper who kept the maps together. We solved problems like how to deal with paladins and thieves in the same party, alignment languages, and the fact everyone wanted to be an dual-class elf.  Oh, and how to handle "Fighting Florentine" which everyone else knows as dual-wielding. I should unearth the old volumes from the storage room and remind myself how much we used and discarded over the years (encumbrance, critical hits, damage locations, segments, weapon speed factors, and unmarked doors that had to be pushed/pulled without a clue to which, just to name a few).

Roleplaying has evolved and continues to evolve. Even the name has been bent and morphed over the years. It has been spelled as roleplaying, role-playing, and role playing (I go with the last because that's what we called it at WotC, but before then I was more hyphenated). We have lost the name to computer games, which at the dawn of time we called CRPGs. Even today, while some arguments unknowing recapitulate earlier discussions, there are new designs that challenge the traditional boundaries of role-playing games.We continue to change, and much of that change occurs on the ground level. The heart of roleplaying at conventions has never been in the dealer's rooms or on the panels, but rather scattered across the gaming tables.

There are a lot of nice, meaty ideas within the book, but here's one that had not seriously considered before now. D&D and other RPGs really contain two separate games - one for players, one for GMs The more I look at that, the more I nod my head in agreement. When I am playing an RPG I am in a different head-space than when I am running it, and my metagame/downtime as a DM/Judge/Keeper is much deeper when I am running a game than when I am playing in someone else's world.

This is a book that is worth hunting down, picking up, and reading. It is densely packed with a lot of info from the time. Go read it.

 More later,

* The term shows up as a single, lower-cased word, "dungeonmaster" in Gary Gygax's introduction to the Blackmoor supplement, to describe Dave Arneson, and as "Dungeon Master" as a proper noun in Tim Kask's intro to Eldritch Wizardry.

** To the tune of "Rosin the Bow"

     We fought a group of Ogre Magi.

     Killed two, let the others go free.

    The lair had a welcome mat in it.

    My god, what a cheap referee!

 

    My god what a cheap referee!

    My god what a cheap referee!

    The lair had a welcome mat in it!

   My god what a cheap referee!

 

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Life in the Time of the Virus - Finnegan Begin Again

It is a new year built upon the ashes of the old. 

New York Movie by Edward Hopper, 1939

Sadly, we did not cross the yearly meridian and found our problems solved. There are vaccines on the horizon, but the same venal incompetence at the the national level the got us so deeply embedded in this mess continues to screw up delivery. New strains have popped up, first in isolationist England and then Denmark, expanding to everywhere. These should be affected by the vaccine. Should be.

It feels like walking fire, a cascade of artillery shells that keeps getting closer to our position. I have colleagues who I have never met in the flesh, video ghosts, who have come down with it. Old friends I have not talked to in years tell me the tale on Facebook. People I know have been hospitalized, while ICU beds have failed on us. It looked like we were bending the curve six months ago - now we are being overwhelmed again while people, tired of precautions, are making matters worse by trying to return to a deadly normality.

What happened to the Army Corps of Engineers? Back about a year ago they moved into Quest (now Lumen) field and elsewhere and built overflow hospital space out of nowhere. That was impressive. Yet we have not pulled the trigger on it for this resurgence. Are we better at dealing with it now? I don't think so.

And yet there is hope. Vaccines are rolling out, in sputters and starts. Delivery terms keep changing, but are changing in the right direction, at least.  The entire check on public gatherings has put Washington State, once an epicenter, at 45th on the list of united plague states - not great given the fact that there are 44 states worse off at the moment, but still impressive. At the state level, there is a plan, and it is modified as we know more. Currently the Lovely B and I don't make the initial cut, so we remain working in place.

The holiday season has passed, which on Grubb Street lasts between Thanksgiving and the Lovely Bride's birthday in early January.We went out and cut down a live tree on a small tree farm south of Auburn, as is our wont. Electric candles in the windows, the Lovely Bride brought out her doll collection. Way too many cookies were baked. We had a holiday feast similar to Thanksgiving's - shared dishes that were collated and delivered, followed by an online sharing. We didn't have to iron a tablecloth or clean silverware or set the table, so that was OK.

Shopping was online this year. I had a panic moment in a mall when I popped in for the last-minute things. Most of the people were masked, but the sheer numbers sort of a freaked me out. Yeah, shopping I am more situationally aware of my surroundings.

I have been reading more and writing less. Part of it is a letdown from blogging before the election, and another part is the work load, but I have been carrying a low level of exhaustion through the holidays and afterwards. This entry took a couple weeks to finalize. I have three books that need reviews already in the queue, along with a couple half-written entries on other sundry matters. Right now I have half-way through the latest Three Musketeers translation by Lawrence Ellsworth, which consists of the back half of "Twenty Years Later".

And I have been sporadic on watching streaming stuff. Watching on a tablet is chancy because I can get easily distracted. You hear a reference you don't understand, check out to research it on Wikipedia, and twenty minutes later you are watching a YouTube video on raising bunnies. Caught Mank on Netflix, which I generally liked. BBC Comedies in bits and pieces. I found the Great Canadian Baking Show on the DailyMotion site (the site is overrun with commercials, but serviceable). The GCB is the Great British Baking Show, but even nicer, and is chock full of regional accents, maple syrup, and bacon as a savory component.

Working from home continues. A heavy windstorm rolled through last week, knocking out power for a while, and in an all-online group, that becomes the 21st century version of a snow day. Power was restored, alas, though I spent too much time cutting up large branches in my driveway. That is winter in the Pacific Northwest - rain, wind, fog, and just the barest threat of snow.

I really want to say that we are rounding a corner, but the bend seems further and further away every time I check. We press on, curled up against the winter and the plague winds, because that is the best we can do.

More later,



Thursday, December 31, 2020

The Final Return of No Quarter As It Goes to XI!

Well, this took forever to get around to. Usually these articles show up in March, but we've all had other things on our minds. So let's wrap this. 

Here we stand, at the end of the No Quarter series (again). We started this with the Fifty States series in 2006 and started again with the America the Beautiful series, which gave commemorative quarters to a national park/forest/seashore/monument/farmer's market in each of the states and/or territories.

And these last few are the most esoteric and frankly beautiful of the lot. They are quirky, and part of that makes sense, since the treasury released these in order that the park/whatever was founded. So the big wilderness parks with mountains and hooved herbivores tended to come first, and now we are at the last bits, which can be a little quirky. But that quirkiness has been embraced to produce some stunners this time. I'm including the sole representative of 2021 for consideration as well, rather than leave that an outlier.

As always, I grade these, based on my own personal tastes. Your own mileage may vary, and readers are encouraged to get their own blogs to talk about them.

Way Cool =A
Not Bad = B
Kinda Lame (also known as Meh) = C
Very Lame = D
The Trump Administration Would Blame Obama = E

Let's dig in, one last time:

National Park of American Samoa - American Samoa

Bats are getting a bad press these days, but I really like this one. It amazes me in that "why didn't we think of this before?" way. Putting cute animals on coins! It's worked so well for Internet memes, why not here?

I mean, we are talking about American Samoa, here, which most Americans cannot locate on the map (OK, NPR reporters could, but nobody else). Well, we probably know it is somewhere in the South Pacific, with bonus points if you can put it to the east of West Samoa (which wants to be know as original-flavor, unleaded Samoa these days), and you get to go to the championship round if you put it at the northernmost part of the Tonga trench. Surprisingly, it is not something we took from the Japanese occupiers after WWII, but rather from the German occupiers in 1899, where it was used as a coaling station.

However, the cool thing about American Samoa is on the coin - it is the home of two varieties of fruit bat, and the Treasury shows Mother and Child fruit bats. The carving itself of one image, is superior to the mixed bag you see in some earlier quarters, and is really well-done.

It will be a surprise to people who suddenly find it in their change. And particular cool for the gothy culture.

Rating = A (Way Cool)

Weir Farm National Historic Site - Connecticut

OK, making this the subject of a coin is a bit of stretch, but then again, we are talking about Connecticut. Not a lot of places for National Parks. It got a really nice coin the first time around with a tree, and I half-expected to see a scenic lighthouse here. We get an image of someone painting an image. But the artist is confronting a blank canvas. Very meta. Much wow.

The coin celebrates Julian Aiden Weir, the founder of the American Impressionist movement. I know what you're saying. When we're talking about American Impressionists, we usually mean Rich Little and David Frye. This was a bonafied movement in the US,and consisted of "The Ten" - a group of impressionists that rejected the conservatism of previous groups and formed their own group (Process of Art History - Some people form a movement to rebel against the conservatism of their elders. Wait fifteen years, and then a NEW group will form to rebel against the original rebels).

The coin itself is interesting. It is very busy, and I wonder how it will press out in the final. The artist and easel in particular may see some wear. It does drive home the entire question of "what it is about" by engraving deeply a meme (A National Park For Art) where other coins would have just left the area as creative white space. So both laying the motto in the grass AND the catch-phrase provides some interesting balance along the right-hand side to balance the left.

Rating = B (Not Bad) 

Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve - US Virgin Islands

Interesting, Iconic, and something I would not normally connect with the US Virgin Islands. The VIs themselves are a chain in the Atlantic that most people would guess as "somewhere near the Bahamas, wherever those are (actually, it is east of Puerto Rico, and south of the British Virgin Islands). Bought from the Danes (the Danes? Yes, the Danes) in 1916 to keep them out of German hands during WWI (negotiations were concluded 6 days before the US officially declared war, for the cool price of 25 million and recognizing Danish claims in Greenland (Greenland? Danes? Yep.).

The coin looks like an ent wading through the flooded Isengard, but is really a mangrove, which is not something I connected with the VIs (OK, OK, there was nothing I connect with the VIs except for sophomoric jokes). But it is appropriate, and like the Connecticut state quarter (also with the tree) it should feel pretty good in the hand. Yeah, it works.

Rating = A (Way Cool)

Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park - Vermont

OK, Like Connecticut, Vermont has the challenge of being a smaller eastern state - I mean, their state quarter celebrated collecting maple sap. And I am conflicted on this coin. On one hand, the site is important from the conservation movement with its attention to land stewardship - that ownership implies responsibility. On the other hand, the original Marsh was a successful Whig politician, Billings, who owned the land next was a founder of the Northern Pacific Railroad, and the Rockefellers were the son and daughter-in-law of THAT Rockefeller. So this park exists because people with a lot of money willed it to exist. 

The coin itself it OK - nothing to get excited about, sort of a Public Service Announcement of a coin. Planting a new tree way too close to the roots of an order one isn't exactly sound horticulture, but it works with the coin design. The balance it nice, with the sapling centermost, and a human element of someone carefully putting it in place is cool. But this is the only part of the National Park System in Vermont, except for a chunk of the Appalachian Trail, and at least they didn't decide to celebrate land sterwardship with a picture of the farmhouse.

Rating = B Not bad.

Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve  - Kansas

The Tallgrass Prairie is a relic - once most of the space between the Mississippi and The Rockies was rolling grassland like that found within its confines, but now has been tamed/cultivated/settled.  And indeed, a lot of the land is still grazed by cattle, replacing the bison that once dominated the ecosystem. They could have gone with buffalo, since they reintroduced a herd about ten years back, but instead went with a quiet moment for the coin.

I like this one. It is relatively simple presentation for a site that specifically doesn't have purple mountains majesty, but rather celebrates a non-fruited plain. The grasses are native, and so is the butterfly (a Regal Fritillery, for those keeping score). Yeah, I could make a Mothra joke, but this is a nice moment of peace captured on a coin. Good work

Rating = A (Way Cool)

Tuskegee Airman National Historic Site - Alabama

The final quarter of the series celebrates the African-American pilots of the Second World War. Breaking the color barrier of allowing black pilots to train for combat, the airmen fought both fascism in Europe and racism on the home front - the two wars noted on the coin. They were not just first, they were good - needing to prove themselves continually to a skeptical, often hostile, command structure.  

The coin itself is balanced for everything that it carries - Pilot in front, two P-51 Mustangs in flight overhead, the control tower of Morton Field, where they trained, in the background. A lot of elements in this coin, but unlike a few others, it pulls together into a cohesive image. It is a fitting wrap-up, both for subject and design, for the series.

Rating = A (Way Cool)

And that's the lot. Ten years of quarters. I haven't heard anything about a new series, though they will be doing a General Washington Crossing the Delaware quarter in 2021. And they did a Presidential Gold(ish) Dollar program that sort of petered out from public use, AND a First Spouse $10 series that was always a collectable. But should they decide to put us through this again, I will be here to celebrate it and mock it. Maybe.

More later, 

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Season's Greetings

 Wishing you a safe and secure Holiday Season from Grubb Street



More later,

Monday, December 07, 2020

Life in the Time of the Virus - The Gathering Dark

 


Room For Tourists by Edward Hopper, 1945

Month Nine? Yes, I believe it is month nine.And things grow still more serious as we press on into winter.

As I write this, we are at over 280,000 deaths in the this county, by official count. Hospital beds are approaching critical state, and there is nowhere to send people. We are hitting 9/11 levels of death, every day. There are some bright spots on the horizon for vaccines, but the current administration, soon to be former, has pretty much revealed they have no real plan for distribution, and no plan to make a plan. There are tough times ahead.

Add to this the seasonal challenge in this part of the world. Seattle is tucked in the upper lefthand corner of the Continental US, so far north that the bulk of Canada's population is actually further south than we are. This means that summers are unnaturally long, but then again, so are winter nights. We lose the sun about four in the afternoon, and do not see dawn until after seven in the morning. In the days when I had a commute, I was used to arriving at work in darkness. Now I do the same, but at least I don't have to wear shoes. 

Our household Thanksgivings have been sprawling affairs, with friends from our various lives filling one (and occasionally two) long tables, with everyone bringing something to contribute. This year we rolled with the punches. I still brined and slow-roasted a turkey, the Lovely Bride made rolls, gravy, and cranberry sauce, and friends provided wine and a plethora of sides. Then we loaded everything up in the bajillion take-out containers accumulated over the previous eight months and we engaged in an epic delivery schedule, then gathered together on a Zoom call as we shared a meal. It was a major challenge, and the team rose to it.

Oh, there was an election, as well, also noted in these pages. Republicans were roundly voted down in this state, so as is typical for the GOP, they have cried foul and refused to admit it. No one cares. The top Republican in Washington State is our Secretary of State, and the nuttier Republicans are mad at her for standing up for the voters. So we have a chance of surviving as well, from their side. Pity that the current federal administration that has done so much to enable this crisis now is dragging its feet to help the next guy accomplish anything.

Our communications with the outside world are few and far between. Grocery shopping (the local Safeway is awash with masks, though we never quite caught on to the idea of one-way aisles). Once a week for new comics (fewer now than usual). Waving at passersby while raking leaves. We had an exterminator in that found mice within the foundation wall. Communications with our work is mostly video calls and slack channels. The cats have adapted well, and take for granted that we are around all the time.

And the local newspaper has shrunk, literally. Last week I noticed that the front page is about a half-inch smaller than the earlier issues that were to be recycled. There was a disruption for a couple days when they said they had a printing problem. Apparently the solution is a printing press that is slightly smaller. I did not find the local paper mentioning this to anyone in their pages. The magazines have been bearing up as well, the New Yorker talking about people bearing up under COVID, the Bon Appetite talking about restaurants that, hopefully, will open once this particular grim reaper passes on. One of the good things I have discovered is the Canadian version of the Great British Baking show, which captures a lot of fun and supportive innocence of the early editions of the show in England.

We have been fortunate, if one can call it that. We have remained healthy, even though friends of friends and colleagues working in other states have suffered illness and loss from this. We are careful, but even avoiding super-spreader events does not provide immunity. We look for this passing, but not today, not tomorrow, and not next month. But it will pass.

We are at the end of the beginning, I think, and I have hope for that which comes next. Because I fear if we let things get worse.

 More later,