Ralph Melton (ralphmelton) wrote,
Ralph Melton
ralphmelton

Interview from Monica

This has been a remarkably persistent meme this time around. I asked cellio for some easy questions. She clearly tried to oblige, but I still felt challenged.


What (hypothetical or real) tool that you do not have would most help you in your job? (Let's please stipulate that the magic DWIM box doesn't exist. :-) )

At one time, I would have had many ideas for this question, but now I don't feel I know so well. I've got the basics of compiler and debugger... (I like the fact that I can evaluate function calls in gdb, but Visual Studio did a better job of arranging debugger windows than Project Builder does.) Co-workers whine about CVS, and I did prefer Perforce, but it wasn't an amazing benefit.

What I need most right now is a tool that would give me a better grasp on the toolkits I'm working with. The Cocoa toolkit is vast, and while the documentation is pretty good, I often don't even know what questions to ask. The frameworks that we're writing are much more spottily documented, and it's difficult for me to know all the many ways the code that I write might be invoked. So I have trouble covering all the bases, because I just don't know what all the bases are.

Name one interest or hobby that you'd like to pursue that you're not pursuing right now. What's stopping you?

At first I had trouble thinking of any, but then it was hard to name just one. Some things I've been interested in but have let wane:

- Personal computer programming. Producing something I would want to use requires a level of support from toolkits and such that I didn't have for many years. But beyond that, I tend to plow most of my hacking energies into work.
- Freelance writing. I've had a very good acceptance rate with my article submissions to Pyramid, and I've got a few ideas on the back burner of my mind--but I haven't written those articles, and most of those ideas have languished untouched for two years or more. I seem to be plunging most of my creative juices into work and D&D.
- Board and card games. I'm not quite sure why I shifted out of this; perhaps it was the shift to D&D. But we hardly even play games at Sunday dinner anymore, and when I pick up games, I find it harder to find an opportunity to play.
- Fencing. I think I missed a few sessions and then started missing them all. I suspect I needed more attention and coaching than I was getting, too.
- Dancing at clubs. My getting a job (and thus not wanting to stay up late) and Lori's disinterest made this less attractive--and spraining my ankle certainly intensified that.
- SCA. I never felt welcomed into the SCA except at dance practice, and I concluded that I preferred a medieval fantasy to an accurate recreation, and I'm not very good at research.

The genie in the lamp will grant you one superpower. Which do you ask for?

I think I'd ask for the power of the Right Thing To Say at every moment, so I could be charming, persuasive, kind, firm, or whatever else might be called for at any time.

Frankly, I think that this might have an impact on my life more dramatic and less easy for me to imagine than more standard superpowers, like invisibility or flight.

Share a fond memory from your youth.

This is somewhat tricky, because I don't spend much time remembering, so it's hard to pick out a favorite memory. But here's one:

In my junior year of high school, our Academic Decathlon team made it to the national championships (the sixth time the school had done so, IIRC). The competition involved ten tests, each worth a possible 1000 points. There was a speech portion (prepared and impromptu) and an interview portion Friday night, and then on Saturday, there was an essay, and then 50-question multiple-choice tests in math, science, literature, social studies, economics, and art.

The last event, then, was the Super Quiz: there were five questions instead of fifty, each member of the team got different questions, and there was an audience and the questions were scored immediately, so the audience could see their team's performance immediately and cheer on the contestant. The Super Quiz topic this year was aviation, and we had studied every aspect of aviation so hard that on the flight to the competition, we were identifying airplanes by their silhouettes. Tommy Kim went first, and scored 1000. The next four players on our team each scored 800 (which kept us neck and neck with our California rivals.) On my turn, then, I got the first four questions right. The last question, then, was the name of the first woman licensed to pilot a plane in the USA. I don't remember the answer now (Googling suggests that it was Harriet Quimby, which doesn't ring a bell), but at the time, I knew it trivially from one of the flash cards we'd studied. I marked down the right answer, the judge scored it, and everyone cheered for me.

(Another tidbit from this competition, that I don't actually remember: I was the top-scoring student in my category at the national competition. There's a newspaper picture of me when it was announced, with my hands over my head in an exultant cheer. I don't remember leaping up like that, but I trust the photographic evidence.)

What type of character would you like to play in your next RPG?

This is in fact a tricky question, because as I thought about it, I realized that I'd been thinking about my next RPG in terms of me being the GM. Even there, I'm not sure what my next RPG would be, so it's still hard to say.

I do tend to have a couple of types that I run to in my PCs. Charming rogues probably top the list (Lucien, , with a smaller niche for trim martial-artist ninja women. But I've also had a lot of fun playing away from those types; I've really been enjoying playing my immense mute barbarian in Kevin's GURPS game.

One thing seems clear: I am a rules wonk. I really like analyzing rules and planning tactics that use them to best effect. So I ought to specialize in an area of this RPG with lots of rules to fiddle with. In some gams, this might be magic; GURPS certainly provides a lot of options for combat as well. (I've liked rogues in D&D, because they had cool abilities without the hassle of managing spells, but if I were going to play D&D, I might well choose a spellcaster.)

Some characters I might play in these campaigns I've considered running:
- Swashbuckling with secret magic: a hermetic mage, using symbolism and arcana to weave subtle spells.
- Exalted: Either the charming rogue or the ninja-woman might work extremely well as Exalted concepts. This might also be a chance to play someone who bargains with spirits everywhere.
- Nobilis: I toyed once with the idea of playing the Power of Derring-Do. Nobilis seems to support a high level of derring-do as it is, so that might be redundant. But you could get away with a lot of James Bond stunts on a regular basis.
- Buffy: Not clear. Perhaps a Watcher? I'd want to get plenty of spotlight time, certainly.

I recognize that I haven't quite answered your question; I hope that I've made up in volume what I've lacked in accuracy.


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2 - I will respond; I'll ask you five questions.
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