I got these three from ashmedai:

1. Homeopathy
I do have an opinion on homeopathy: it’s unscientific quackery that doesn’t work. In the Netherlands, it is in fact illegal now to suggest that a homeopathic ointment is a cure for something specific, prompting some really interesting text on the packaging. I won’t miss homeopathy when it disappears, and nobody should.

2. GMO’s
I also have an opinion on Genetically Modified Organisms. I’m a big fan of GMOs that help improve the quality of our food supply. Sadly, the EU has an irrational fear of GMOs and blocks their deployment in our food supply, which pretty much means that they’re (mostly) blocked worldwide. And that’s a bloody shame: because of this irrational fear, people are dying that could otherwise have been saved by Golden Rice.
And let’s not kid ourselves: the glucose syrup that’s in your candy bar is produced from sugar by molds that has been genetically engineered to be more efficient at converting sugar into glucose. The technique is understood very well, and so the risks can be managed.
(Normal disclaimers against food crop monoculture apply to GMOs too, obviously.)
What I am not a fan of, is the strain of GMOs that have been engineered to be resistant to a weed killer — that stuff is poisoning our planet, and the fact that some crops are resistant to it does not diminish that. And of course it’s the same company selling the weed killer and selling the resistant seeds, all tightly wound with patents and lawsuits — the worst kind of extractive capitalism.

3. The American Midwest
I… don’t really have an opinion on this. I actually had to look up what the Midwest is. I’ve never been even near it.

Unexpected Topics meme

Let’s do a curious unexpected topics meme.
Those who wish to participate will say so, and I will give them three topics, or spheres of interests, which I think they are not interested in, or maybe I would be even surprised to learn that they have an affinity with.
It would be curious to learn who will be more surprised, those who hear what people think they are not interested in or cannot do, or those who learn that their expectations of people are either incorrect or spot on.

I got my topics from tabular_rasa:

I’ve read a bit of fanfiction, but I can’t say it’s much of a factor in my life. Unless you consider the ‘fiction’ that emerges from a roleplaying game in a setting that existed before the RPG as fanfiction — then I’m a huge fanfiction (co-)author! I’ve played in Star Wars, Star Trek and a really large number of Middle-Earth games. I’ve preserved some of it in the form of session reports, which are kind-of like fanfiction — though written more with the intent to record what happened rather than make a story that is pleasing to read.

Opera (the music/performance genre)
I’m not a big fan, because I have trouble following the narrative. I’m apparently big on narrative, and if I have to read a book that explains it to me before I go see the opera itself, then there is not really a point in me going to see it.
We visited a lot of castles in Bavaria in 2016, and some of the most memorable ones were built by King Ludwig II. Ludwig was a big fan of the operas of Wagner, and it shows. Most impressive was the ‘reproduction’ (for lack of a better word) of the Venus Grotto from the opera Tannhauser at Linderhof castle. I find it fascinating that someone can be so inspired by something that does not really factor for me.

From the road, the area where we live in seems like mostly concrete and stone, but in between the houses is a lot of park-land, with a lot of ponds that are all connected. There’s quite a few people fishing there, some with gear that looks pretty ‘professional’ to me. I know there are quite big fish in the ponds: once I saw a guy posing with a huge carp next to the edge of the pond — presumably just caught.
I don’t like fishing, but I do see the appeal of being quiet and sitting still, alone with your thoughts. Some of the fishers that I see around the ponds are in groups, drinking beers, and I kinda see the appeal there too — but that has little to do with fishing itself.

• A meme:
→ Comment with “Come at me, bro”
→ I’ll respond by asking you five questions, so I can get to know you better.
→ Update your journal with the answers to the questions.
→ Include this explanation in the post and offer to ask other people questions.
I was asked these questions by tabula_rasa. Sorry for not replying sooner!

Share a roleplay campaign you’ve done that would be worthy of a movie or novel adaptation.
The campaigns we had that are based on visual media (such as the Star Wars and Star Trek games) tend to be played very ‘visually’, with us describing scenes and cuts, so those would be easy to translate. And it’s fun to play as if you’re part of the media that the game emulates. But I don’t think those would add something to those franchises, because they’d fit in with what’s already there.
So I think I’ll go with our campaign of The Sprawl, a cyberpunk game with a setting inspired by William Gibson’s Sprawl trilogy (of which the first book is the influential Neuromancer). We had a great group of players with a great group of characters, and an excellent GM that gave us enough room to play our characters the way we wanted and yet still challenged us with great missions and complications. A TV series based on that campaign would be super-cool, since the setting allows for moody visuals.
Sadly, the campaign is defunct and we’ll never get to play those characters again. But the sessions were broadcast live on Twitch, and those streams have been preserved as a playlist on YouTube, so you could use that as some sort of audiobook instead.

If you could visit any time past or future (and catching the communicable diseases of the day was no object), when would you visit and why?
Probably 100 years into the future. Imagine if someone from 1918 would visit today? Things are completely different (and, one could argue, much better) today, yet there would be still enough that is familiar to allow them to connect the dots. I am convinced that history trends towards a better life for everyone, and I’d like to see it farther out yet still close enough that I can understand it.

What is the most unexpectedly useful course you have ever taken?
The bookbinding and cartonnage courses I did. It started out as a hobby (and it still is), but we have been repairing books and making a little bit of spending money off our skills too.

What is a place you have been that you would recommend people travel to at some point?
Tokyo, because it has everything. It is super-urban (standing on the 51st floor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office and seeing the city stretch out in all directions as far as the eye can see is quite the thing), so it has all the usual urban stuff. But it also has some really great parks and grand vistas over the bay.
Basically, it has something for everybody!

Recommend me a recipe you enjoy! (Preferably gluten-free :P).
I have to admit that I don’t really cook a lot from recipes. And most of the things I cook, I use a ready-made spice mix, because creating a curry paste from raw ingredients is not my style. So I don’t really have a ‘secret recipe’ to share with you.
One of the ‘tricks’ that I do is to dice some sweet potatoes and chuck those in the air-fryer for about 25 minutes. We use that instead of rice to go with our (indian) curry, and it’s glorious!

Thanks for your questions!

Interview meme

• A meme:
→ Comment with “Come at me, bro”
→ I’ll respond by asking you five questions, so I can get to know you better.
→ Update your journal with the answers to the questions.
→ Include this explanation in the post and offer to ask other people questions.

These questions are from ashmedai:
1. If you do grow a garden one day, what would be some must-haves, crops you’d absolutely want to grow yourself?
Carrots. Both the small snack-size ones (because they make good snacks) and the chunky ones that go well in stews and Japanese curry. And every working day, I have diced tomatoes and cucumber with my salad, so it would be good to grow those too.
I’m not sure how hard it would be to grow sweet potatoes, but we use those in the curry too, and it would be good to grow those too.

2. You love RPG and gaming, but I have NO clue about it. What got you into it, and what are some of the things you love about it?
I got introduced to RPGs when I was 14 by a classmate who insisted I would like it. He was going to run a game at his house (at the other end of the city) for some friends (some of which I knew, some of which I didn’t know) and I was invited too. It was about 45 minutes by bicycle to get there, and the first day my mom brought me by car. The rest of the week, I cycled there to play in the game, because he was totally right: I did like RPGs.
We played Rolemaster, and I got to play a Hobbit Thief, because that’s an easy role to fulfil within the party with few special rules. We played through a published scenario, “Adventure at Minas Anghen”, from the module “Haunted Ruins of the Dunlendings”, which is set in Middle-Earth. Fifteen minutes in, I experienced my first character death!
All of the people in that group were a member of the Eindhovense Rollenspel Groep, and I joined that too. I got to play a lot with them.

What I love about RPGs is the unbounded nature of the game. With computer games, you can never step out of the boundaries set for you, but in an RPG, moderated by a human Game Master, you can! Thinking up a character in a particular setting, getting to experience an adventure, making choices about the world and your character that matter (in that world, at least), that’s what I like about it. And the communal story-telling and social aspects (with the right group…) make playing an RPG a very special experience.

3. You list tea – what are your favorite kinds or brands, and what makes them so good?
My go-to tea is the Keemun Congou from Simon Levelt, a Dutch tea and coffee trading company. It’s our “house tea”, and I just never get bored of it. It has a rich, deep taste, but it doesn’t have a lot of tannin nor caffeine, so it’s easy on the stomach and can be drunk throughout the day. It’s just the best.

4. You have beautiful cats. How and where did you meet them?
Our previous cat was a black cat that was deaf, which we got from a shelter when it was around nine. It was really my partner’s cat: it was always hanging out with her, and while it seemed to like me enough, it was her that he loved. All the same, I was pretty heart-broken when we had to let him go: his kidneys were failing and he clearly was done with life like that. Force-feeding him was a traumatic experience for me.
Then only a couple of weeks after, I realised that I missed having a cat around the house. We talked it over, and we reached the conclusion that it would be best to have two cats: back then, we were on the road a lot, so our new cats would have company while we were gone. We also agreed that we would get cats from a shelter: there’s enough cats being found and/or abandoned. We looked at the adoption site of the humane society and found a few sets of cats that belonged together at a shelter that was reasonably close.
We went to visit there, and I didn’t want to bring our cat carrier with us, because I was afraid that we would act on impulse and return home with cats without being really prepared. The first set we visited hung out in a room with a lot of other cats, and there was a volunteer in that room there. She was there to take pictures of the cats to put up on the adoption site, and she pointed out the cats on our list to us. Klik insists that it was because I still had some liverwurst from lunch on my fingers, but I’m not sure — but I easily gained the trust of this first pair, and before long I was giving them both head scritches. When I stopped, they mewed at me to continue — something that hadn’t happened before with these two.
We looked at other pairs on our list, but the decision had already been made. In the car back, I regretted the decision to not bring the carrier with us, but we got the house in order and collected them from the shelter a few days later.

5. I think we all have moments in our lives we’d like to re-live over and over again. What are some of yours?
As cliche as it is, I think I’m going to go with our wedding day. It was a whole day that was totally about us, and everybody had a good time. The weather was fine, the locations were good, we had good food… It was wonderful.

Thanks for the questions!

Interview meme

• A meme snagged from kitzune:
→ Comment with “Come at me, bro”
→ I’ll respond by asking you five questions, so I can get to know you better.
→ Update your journal with the answers to the questions.
→ Include this explanation in the post and offer to ask other people questions.

1) What is one of the funniest moments you can remember from a D&D (or similar role-playing game) session?
Oh wow, I’m not even sure. There are tons of those “no shit, there I was”-stories in the RPGs I’ve played. And most need so much context that it’s almost impossible to convey why it was such a funny moment. Sometimes, it’s how an odd die roll derails an otherwise tense situation, or when a player does something against the character that they have spent a whole campaign building up — if you don’t have that context, you just don’t “get” why it’s so funny while the people that were there had to spend a few minutes to recover from their laughter.
There’s this meme in RPG circles that you don’t start telling people about your character if you don’t play together, because it’s just a lot of context-information, and while you think your character is the coolest ever, it’s just not interesting to other people. I think “funniest moments” are like that too.

2) What’s your favorite fruit?
They’re called mineola here in the Netherlands, tangelo elsewhere. So juicy and sour-sweet!
Close second is persimmon, or kaki as they’re called here (and in Japan). Sweet and soft taste.

3) Describe your perfect date.
Non-serious answer:
The perfect date
Serious answer:
Hmm, I haven’t “dated” as such for so long… Probably going somewhere nice for a walk: a beach or a forest. Not too far, just a calm stroll so you can get some decent chatting in. Then rest up for a bit and have a good dinner at a good restaurant with some creative dishes.

4) If you could visit anywhere in the world for about a week, where would you want to go?
Tokyo is an amazing place to visit for a week: there’s so much going on there that you wouldn’t get bored for a week — possibly even longer.

5) If you were tasked with introducing a complete newbie to anime, which three tv shows would you recommend?
That’s a good question. I prefer to do “personalised recommendations” and always start by asking what this person enjoys in other media: no matter how good the mecha anime is, if this person mostly enjoys fantasy, it will fall flat. But since we’re talking about someone who is a completely blank slate, I’ll just give three general recommendations and explain why. I will stay away from the typical ‘shounen’ series, because I don’t enjoy them — even though they are hugely popular. So if you ask someone else, you’d undoubtedly get stuff like One Piece, Dragonball Z or Naruto in there…
(I keep a running list of series we’ve watched, and we assign a 1 to 10 score. You can find the list, sorted by score, here.)

  1. Mushishi – ‘moody’, magic-realism with lots of atmosphere and slow-moving scenes. It shows how anime can be used to tell really interesting stories. It really is a perfect series.
  2. RahXephon – Sort-of mecha series with a grand, mysterious plot. It shows how anime can be used to tell epic, fantastical stories.
  3. Nichijou – Funniest comedy series ever. The way things are set up in the episodes, but also through multiple episodes is superb. It shows how anime can be freed from all kinds of conventions to do something truly great.

But the more I think about it, the more I think there should also be other series in there — but it’s also a matter of personal taste, like with all media recommendations.

What is an RPG genre-mashup you would most like to see?
Hmmm… I’m kind of drawing a blank here. I mean, anything mixed in with Fantasy is easy: “It’s like D&D, but there are mechas!”, and you can make it work. And mixing cyberpunk with transhumanist hard sci-fi is kinda cheating too: it’s easy to see how you would progress from one to the other.
The best “mash-ups” are subtle. Tales from the Loop seems to mix a modern-day setting with subtle sci-fi elements. Blades in the Dark mixes a Victorian-like setting with a horror/occult undertone. I like those the best, but there’s not something I’m specifically looking for.

#RPGADAY, day 29

What’s the best-run RPG Kickstarter you have backed?
Looking through the list of Kickstarters I backed, I think I’ll go with the campaign for Mindjammer. It yielded so many stretch goals, and yet all these are being delivered in a professional manner. Every book gets a “thoughtcast edition” in PDF, and then a final version after layout and corrections. So much content, and it’s all managed really well.
A special mention for the Gossamer Worlds Compendium campaign. After the campaign was successful, the creator died in an accident. His wife, who was pregnant at the time, has taken the reigns, and she has since even given birth to their daughter. I would not have been surprised if the project would have been cancelled (I wouldn’t even insist on a refund), but it’s still going forward. I really admire her mental fortitude to keep plugging away at it.

#RPGADAY, day 28

What film/series is the biggest source of quotes in your group?
Wow, I honestly don’t know. I mean, there’s the usual Monty Python, but also Star Wars and lots of other genre movies and series. But in general, I think the groups I play with have moved beyond quoting movies and getting on with the game. There is the occasional quote, but it’s not a quote-fest.