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Wednesday, January 19th, 2005
12:41p - Ascorbate
For an appetizer for Christmas dinner, we bought pre-cut apple slices to serve with caramel dip. The ingredients list said, "calcium ascorbate added to preserve freshness".

It's now January 18, and we haven't gotten around to throwing out the apple slices. And they haven't turned brown at all. It's downright spooky.

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12:45p - Persistence
And on the topic of unnatural persistence: Possible mild oversharing aheadCollapse )

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1:28p - Laptop
In 2001, Laura gave us a IBM Thinkpad i-series laptop that she'd bought for $20 off of one of her fellow students. We replaced the keyboard and the hard drive, and put a wireless card in, and it's served us fairly well for three and a half years. We use it mostly for websurfing and reading mail, and it's served us well for that.

But that laptop has been dropped too many times, and it's starting to fall apart. There are multiple cracks near the keyboard, and the display is attached by only one hinge. The final straw is that the power cable has stopped making good contact when it's plugged into the laptop, so the laptop tends to run out of power at the least provocation.

So we'd like to replace that laptop, but we don't need anything terribly capable. So I'm asking y'all for advice: is it possible to buy a solidly functional low-end laptop for a few hundred dollars?

A used laptop would be fine, as long as it works well. I've considered eBay, but I feel wary (probably unnecessarily) of buying a laptop sight unseen. Are there other avenues of which I'm unaware?

Note that once we get up into prices of several hundred dollars, I can buy an iBook with the employee discount, which would be a pretty solid solution. So I don't need to consider alternatives more expensive than that.

Many thanks for your advice.

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9:00p - Underprepared
Underprepared for D&D. Again.

I've had lots of time in which I might prepare; we haven't played in over a month, and I've been aware that the next adventure would be an assault on Garrett's castle for a great many months.

But all I have is a handful of room ideas and traps, and a dozen monsters I'd like to use. I don't have a floor plan yet or a location of monsters.

My intention is that this should be a fairly site-based adventure, and also a very reactive adventure; raiding the castle will be a matter of teleporting in, fighting vigorously, then teleporting out.

However, this makes it harder to turn a handful of monsters into a dungeon; there's no organizing principle of plot to hang encounters on.

Instead, the natural principle to structure this place is to figure out how the vampires would arrange their quarters to give themselves a comfortable and well-defended life. I'm finding this very difficult, though. I keep thinking that I'll forget something--and I keep questioning earlier thoughts and saying things like "maybe vampires wouldn't have bathrooms in every suite after all..."

I wish I could find a map of a large, sprawling castle. Unfortunately, all the samples I've found are fairly small (which is admittedly realistic, but not what I want). The Stronghold Builder's Guidebook ought to help with this, but its examples are a small keep, an undersea coral castle, a dwarven mining complex, a floating tower, and a multiplanar stronghold--none of which really serve my needs.

Grumble grumble grumble. I hope I can figure out at least enough to keep my players occupied for a long evening.

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