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1/11/2018 12:45 am  #551

Re: The Random Thoughts Thread


The mood is erratic.

 There's actually a reason for the erratic. For some reason I've been awake for around thirty-five hours. I took the time to slowly...very slowly...ponder the possible reasons for the insomnia attack.

 I'm not sleep-walking but I did fall asleep standing up twice already.

 The last time something like this happened I was in the middle of trying to pee at my brother's house and face-planted into a shelf above the toilet. The shelf, of course, was jam-packed with breakable objects.

 My brother's paramour was not happy in the least.

 That time was following a massive upheaval in my life wherein I moved to another state, changed jobs, and spent every free moment with my pops in a nursing home. I was right there with him at the moment he drew his last breath.

 So, naturally, I was far too agitated to sleep...ever.

 This isn't like that. Nothing bad is happening. Quite the contrary, in fact. I'm going out in the world and meeting groups of complete strangers without one or more Wendy's acting as my social anchor. They acted as the one solid relationship in rooms full of strangers.

 But I'm thinking that's not the point and I'm also thinking there may not have been one. It's that kind of tired.

 The Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) game was a mixed success.

 I enjoyed being there but it was waaaaaaay more crowded than I'd anticipated. I was expecting a group of maybe a dozen, tops. There was a dozen. And one more dozen.

 The gaming group meets in the back of strip-mall store called Comic Store East York. I didn't ask.

 The people who run the store appear to be hosting the event but not participating so there's a dynamic to this process I'm not seeing yet. The event was at the back of the store and had six conference tables filled along with this sort of chest-height cabinet.

 There were five players and one dungeon master (DM). But there were only four chairs. And they were all occupied. So I was sitting on one of those plastic stacking chairs while people were literally talking over my head which annoyed me.

 I had to keep hauling myself up using the edge of the crate so I could see the board so the pain level just kept creeping up. I only lasted an hour and a half.

 I wasn't completely happy with the game. I would have been interesting but the same four people just talked and talked and talked and didn't write anything down. We would get to the first mystery and no one knew what to do. Since they were all talking at the same time no one listened as I repeated several times that I'd written everything down.

 The party had six members but only four were playing. Or being allowed to play. If I wanted to contribute anything I would have had to shout over both the background noise in the room and my fellow party members.

 So I sat quietly, I observed, and I reconnected with the patterns for role-playing games that were so intricate and engaging and had been unused for nearly thirty years.

 When I mentioned I'd last played in 1987 there was a rather long silence—which was a minor miracle—then everyone pointed out that they either started playing then or they weren't even born then.


 That pretty-much just rolled off. I'm aware that I'm aging because, you know, I'm in here with it. I'd probably be more upset if I found out I'm not aging. Immortality might look nice and glossy but try living for fifty-thousand years.

 Gibbering wouldn't even begin to describe it.

 But I digress. I'm sure this is in part due to the lack of sleep. My body may be having recurring surges of energy but my brain the the biggest muscle in my body and is used constantly while I'm conscious and frequently used when I'm not.

 It needs a rest.

 And I'm off the topic again.

 What annoyed me about the game was this; this was supposed to be an introductory game. Something to help new people get an idea how to play.

 Unfortunately, the person running the game didn't feel the need to provide any sort of guidance to the new players such as “This isn't a video game, you really shouldn't shoot arrows at everything we the small children we were supposed to rescue”, or “Things would work out better if you cooperated”, or “It's a good idea to get input from everyone in your party”.

 You know, basic advice on how to play the game which was why we were there.

 So I spent most of the time feeling like I was sitting in a kiddie chair at the grownup's table while being largely ignored.

 I can address a number of these problems and I will.

 I learned long ago that the solution to any problem stemming from another person's behavior isn't to rant and rave in an effort to make them change. I can only affect the things I have control over and .other people' isn't on that list.

 So what can I control?

 I can control when I arrive. I arrived for this game exactly at 6pm, the scheduled start time for the meet-up, but the place was already packed. Who knew? It was a full-on geekapalooza. Or, as I call them, people like me.

 Based on what I observed when I arrived I guessed most had arrived at least half an hour early.

 Next time I'm going an hour early. This may not be enough but I don't want to overdo. By arriving early, I can seize one of tall chairs and place it next to the dungeon master. This will solve the problem of having to get up over and over and over until I'm miserable.

 I'm guessing it will at least influence the “largely ignored” by putting both me in everyone's line of sight and sitting next to the DM means he'll actually be able to hear me when I say I'm doing something and I can address my concerns regarding guidance.

 Not guidance for how to play but guidance for how we play together.

 It's a game for a party of adventurers not a party for adventurers.

 Last time we were just a group of individuals who happened to be doing the same thing.

 I'm hoping next time we can work on just being a group.

 Thanks for listening

If you make yourself miserable trying to make others happy that means everyone is miserable.

-Me again


2/09/2018 10:15 pm  #552

Re: The Random Thoughts Thread

02/09/2018 mood is groovy.

 So, soooo groovy.

 This has been a day of firsts. The first time I've had anyone at the Stealth House who wasn't named Wendy. The first time I've hosted a group of people I'd either met briefly or didn't meet in person until today.

 I hosted a Dungeons and Dragons game this evening.

 I haven't played in nearly fifteen years. The rules have changed but the game is the same. I need more reference material but I believe this is something I can pull off.

 Had a total of six players, one playing by Skype. At the risk of sounding like an old person, I really wish they'd had something like Skype when I was on active duty. Video phones were still pipe-dreams then...some on the drawing board but the infrastructure wasn't up to the challenge.

 But I digress.

 We were supposed to have eight total, nine counting me, so I thought it best do create characters and run a quick battle challenge.

 It's really good group. Smart and witty. Really got along together, fell right in to talking smack when the weapons came out.

 I was nervous about everything today. Is the food right, is the house clean, drinks cold...? All those details that keep spinning over and over. I couldn't sit still, kept going back and forth, pacing, checking everything, checking it all again...


 In the interest of full disclosure, I did smoke a joint before everyone showed up. It helped calm me down and prevented the nervous babbling that always occurs when I'm uncomfortable. I felt okay when the first guest showed up.

 Between all of us, we managed to muddle through a mock-battle...if anyone's interested, the Bard won by calling everyone names. I'm not joking, one of his abilities is to taunt someone so badly they actually suffer damage...put John Cleese to shame.

 He played that character perfectly, used his abilities, and was the last one standing in a field of ten....most of whom were much better armed.

 Most of my anxiety went away as soon as everyone got settled and everyone seemed to have a good time.

 So I feel good. And I'm going to get a chance to not only tell stories, but have the stories take on lives of their own.

 All of this has always been there. All I had to do was take the time to find it.

 People like me. Game players. Folks who live as much in their heads as they do in the world.

 There are some logistics to work out. The dining room table is way too small. Two of the players said they have large folding tables so I thought we'd try setting up in the living room next time.

 It's a large group so trying to find a day and time for everyone to show might be complicated.

 The house is still a little mussed-up. I put the cold stuff away then decided to crack a beer and put my feet up. Tidying up can wait until tomorrow.

 For now, I'm doing this. Then I'm putting together thumb-drive with's new car doesn't have a CD.

 Going to visit my brother tomorrow. Doing Chinese food this time.

 My thoughts are scattered, stories are whirling through demanding attention.

 Think I'll put my head down for a bit.

 Thanks for listening.

If you make yourself miserable trying to make others happy that means everyone is miserable.

-Me again

     Thread Starter

2/09/2018 10:26 pm  #553

Re: The Random Thoughts Thread


I'm very happy for you.

Life is an Orthros.

2/09/2018 11:21 pm  #554

Re: The Random Thoughts Thread


It's been a thrilling, breath-taking few weeks.

I found exactly what I was looking for...people who are just as addicted to games as I am.  The board game meetings are terrific too!

All those strangers who are just as strange as I am.

If you make yourself miserable trying to make others happy that means everyone is miserable.

-Me again

     Thread Starter

2/21/2018 5:15 am  #555

Re: The Random Thoughts Thread

I'm 58 years old.
Last night I dreamt that I was giving a commencement address.

I looked out at the students who are about to inherit the world that we made, and all I could think to say was, "I'm sorry. I'm really, really sorry".

We live in a time in which decent and otherwise sensible people are surrendering too easily to the hectoring of morons or extremists. 

2/23/2018 5:50 am  #556

Re: The Random Thoughts Thread

On 9/12/01 I do NOT recall anyone saying that it was the wrong time to talk about terrorism.

We live in a time in which decent and otherwise sensible people are surrendering too easily to the hectoring of morons or extremists. 

2/27/2018 4:15 pm  #557

Re: The Random Thoughts Thread


 The mood is relaxed.

 I haven't written here in some time. It's not because there was nothing to write but because there was too much to write.

 But it's not a bad thing.

 The reason I began doing this was an effort to better understand myself and thereby live a better life. Or, at least, fit into this one a little better.

 And I succeeded.

 I just realized recently but I've developed a pervading sense of peace. My thoughts, while still highly active and frequently distracting, are now of things that bring me a sense accomplishment. Of completeness.

 The circle is closed.

 What have I been doing lately?

 I decided I wanted to have a familial relationship with my brothers. This presents a whole raft of problems and my mother spent her entire life trying to fit our family into a mold of defined American familial perfection.

 Down side? No one ever said whose definition is right.

 But I've discovered the answer to that question. It's simple, really. None of them are right. And most appear to be defined by one institution or another with a vested interest (money and power) in your definition of family being the same as theirs.

 Or else.

 My solution was to just meet things on whatever terms are available. Or to make my own if they aren't.

 My younger brother, Thomas, lives in Houston, Texas. This presents obvious problems with regarding to spending time together. Few in my family were ever big telephone people and we've been out of touch for decades so those cheesy AT&T moments just aren't for us.

 My older brother Chris is well within range.

 Chris is heavily introverted. His natural state is to find an equilibrium and stay there even if moving would be in his best interests. That's his thing and worrying about it is not something that would be constructive for me.

 I say what I can where I can but Chris is Chris. I love him dearly but he's stubborn as a stone.

 Chris lives with Jeannie. They aren't married but have been together long enough for me to call her my ersatz sister-in-law. Jeannie has a host of medical conditions and is blind. Which pretty much defines my entire client-base for the past two decades.

 I decided to do what I do best...benefits!

 I went over on a Saturday and took along a few beers, a joint, and my laptop. The beers I shared with my brother, the joint I shared with her (she says it helps a great deal with some of the symptoms of MS without turning her into a zombie).

 I spent half an hour discussing her circumstances, relationships, and finances then we filled out her Medicaid application. Jeannie wasn't aware that private health insurance companies can provide coverage in some cases when Medicaid was denied.

 Chris sat at the kitchen table with us and we talked.

 Like family, not like strangers. Chris reminisced about the times I would pass through town when I was being sent overseas or when I came back. We talked about the time I took leave and we drove together from El Paso, Texas to York, PA in a 1968 Chevy Impala that had seen better days.

 He brought out my brother Jon's basic training picture.

 I pointed out that he looked like a little boy playing dress-up in that picture. Brought tears to Chris's eyes. I caught him before he could run away and hugged him. It's the best I can do.

 I discovered in that moment that I'd finally made peace with Jon's death. And mum's. And Billy's. And all the others. And all the attempts. All the darkness and the sickness.

 Just let it go.

 Jeannie called me to tell me she'd received a request for information from the York County Assistance Office asking for additional information for her application. Jeannie wasn't able to read it since she's blind and Chris has a distinct distaste for all things government so she called me.

 She said the were requesting bank statements and they're due on 02/19. She'd called on 02/18 which was a Sunday. I have to admit, I felt a very brief and fleeting sense of irritation and an impulse to tell her to contact her caseworker and get it worked out.

 What made me happy is that sense lasted less than a heartbeat then I told her I'd come over in the morning, have a look, and see what I can do. That felt like the right thing.

 There wasn't much to it, really.

 It's a standard Medicaid application, what we referred to as a quick denial. The idea is to get the denial notices then apply for benefits with a provider under what is called Act 150.

 I collected everything then needed and drove them to the office. People working there still called me by name. Had a nice chat with the clerk who scanned the documents, got her caseworker's name and direct line number, left the worker a message, then took the originals back to Jeannie.

 While I was at the office, I ran into Lisa and Tonya who were just coming back from break and Amy who is always in customer service.

 It felt wonderful to see people, and to be seen. Everyone remarked on how much better I seem now. Thinner, more energetic, and most of all—relaxed.

 And all of those things are true. But I am also no longer afraid. And I'm no longer attempting to achieve things to make other people happy. Or to fit into a nebulous standard of worth which is based on the preposterous concept that a life is best defined by its monetary value.

 Taking a subjective look at the ridiculousness of humanity has been very insightful.

 When I was at the office, I walked two blocks to the Episcopal church on Beaver Street. Like most very old churches, there are people buried on the grounds. Since it's a church in the city and space is limited, they don't bury people there but they do inter ashes in a separate garden.

 The garden has a fence with a gate in front, a brick pathway that branches left and right surrounding a large oval patch of grass, four benches, a marble memorial plinth, and a long brick wall with a number of large brass frames.

 Each of the metal frames contain plaques with the names of those whose ashes were buried in the garden. There are dozens and dozens. I didn't count them—people who know me will be shocked by this.

 I located the plaques for my mother, my dad, and my older brother, took some snaps for Facebook, then sat on one of the benches in the shade and thought for a while. I examined how I felt being there. I considered that I'm likely the only family member who'd visited.

 And I asked myself if any of that mattered.

 It didn't. And it doesn't.

 What has passed has passed and cannot be undone. To agonize over it is to torture oneself to no good end. But it's very, very hard to let go.

 And that is what I felt. I'd finally found peace because I'd finally let it all go.

 But letting go was only half the battle. I also wanted to have a life.

 A real life, not a life lived to the standards of another.

 So I'm trying.

 I'm actually getting out into the world and I'm meeting people who are mostly social misfits so they're far more accepting of an overgrown child with a vivid imagination.

 Who am I?

 I'm Ben. I tell stories. And there are people out there who not only want to hear my stories, they want to participate in them. I've taken the world I've been creating and I've turned it into a game. I have anywhere between six and nine or ten players who are looking forward to playing.

 We've already met once but that was for creating characters and explaining the world with a quick cage-match at the end to help the new players understand how things work. I caught myself talking about my world with another person for the first time in years.

 I explained history and sociology and technology and demographics and politics and that's when I realized I'd constructed enough of a foundation to make a believable background. I exchanged e-mails with players and two of them have begun collaborating on a map of the Empire based on my description of it.

 One of them even summarized the history of the Empire in a clear, concise, and interesting format that I hadn't even considered. And all of this is based on things I made up out of thin air. Some of it on the fly and it actually seems to work.

 If I manage to get a novel published because of this, that would be a achievement to be sure.

 But it doesn't matter.

 Because, whether or not I ever spin this all into a cohesive novel, I will have as many as a dozen people who will, for a few hours anyway, spend time in a world that I made up. They'll be living what I write and helping it grow.

 Our first official game is this Friday. I'm both excited and nervous. But mostly excited.

 So. All of the time I've been spending writing lately has been committed to making this first adventure the kind of adventure that has the players rearranging their schedules so they can play more often.

 If I can achieve that, then I've improve someone's life—at least for a little while. Does this have value? Do I have worth? It doesn't matter.

 Who am I?

 I'm Ben.

 I'm compassion.

 I'm imagination.

 And I'm finally at peace.

 Thanks for listening

If you make yourself miserable trying to make others happy that means everyone is miserable.

-Me again

     Thread Starter

3/02/2018 11:50 am  #558

Re: The Random Thoughts Thread


 The mood is excited.

 I'm writing this just to clear my head a little. The mood is highly elevated because today is game day. I've spent the last couple of weeks developing enough history, sociology, and political structure to serve as a platform for the storied.

 I'm thrilled about the first adventure.

 It's been occupying a great deal of space in my mind but it's the kind of space I enjoy using. The creative engine was difficult to get started again but it's moving now.

 I've always found it far easier to come up with story ideas if I'm writing them for a person or people as opposed to a standard of publication. The possibilities are unlimited since I don't have to concern myself with the constraints involved in putting a book out there for publication.

 Yes, it's the writer's work...but it's also the publisher's work.

 In this case, I get to do anything I can logically...or at least magically, define.

 I've found that the player's have a flair for creativity and a sense of the dramatic. I read over back stories and found it very easy to begin weaving those threads into their ongoing narrative.

 The only deadline I have is game day and game day is something I look forward to. My publishing space consists of the limits of the imaginations of seven or more other people. The length of the story will depend on the characters, not the writer.

 I have to say, this is an approach to writing I'd never considered before and I'm looking forward to running with it.

 Anyway, short entry is all I'm going to get out of this today...way to distracted.

 I'm just going to step away from the world for a few hours.

 Please leave a message at the beep.

 Thanks for listening

If you make yourself miserable trying to make others happy that means everyone is miserable.

-Me again

     Thread Starter

3/03/2018 3:25 pm  #559

Re: The Random Thoughts Thread

I was sifting through some very old files and came across's from when I was working in Florida:
Ode To A Big Fibber Xxxxx Was Just Talking To

 ----------- by Benjamin Weikert

 My friend and co-worker is just down the hall,
her name's Xxxxx Xxxxxxx, a terror to all

 She is, without doubt, the new sheriff in town,
try to tell her a story and she'll slap you around.

 It's a verbal bitch-slapping that you will receive,
and don't beg for mercy, there is no reprieve.

 “You pay top-dollar rent and you don't have a dime?
Get out of my office, you're wasting my time.”

 “Don't think for a second I won't stop by your house.
I'll shake down your neighbors and threaten your spouse.”

 “I'll get the real story, of this there's no doubt,
then I'll have you locked up and you'll never get out.”

 “And, I don't draw the line at jumping down throats.
When you're at the bar drinkin', I'll be there taking notes.”

 “You know, you remind me of that little boy,
the one who turned human after being a toy?”

 “His nose would get bigger the more lies he told,
and he was just, what, six or seven years old?”

 “Well, you're in your forties and it's clear on your face,
that honker you're sporting could be seen from space!”

 “So your 'friend' pays your bills? Well, what a fine bloke!
I just spoke to him and he, also, is broke.”

 “So someone with nothing is paying your bills?
Excuse me a moment, I'm gonna be ill.”

 “That story's a stinker, you're not even tryin'.
You're not gonna move me so just stop the cryin'.”

 So the man left the office, but she called as he went,
“This wasn't nothin', next stop Xx Xxxxx!

If you make yourself miserable trying to make others happy that means everyone is miserable.

-Me again

     Thread Starter

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