Introductions: Storyteller’s Apprentice #1

In this episode, Sammi Rader and I talk about introductions, immediately after (badly) imitating some of the more notable introductions from our past. I still ramble a bit like I did in the first episode of the Nerd’s Apprentice – but I would like think we are a little more focused than I was last time.

I tried to do the introduction from The Lion King, but it was just terrible. I couldn’t even bring myself to keep it at the very end in a blooper-style feature. I will probably keep Sammi’s reaction – for potential use as a great laugh track.

So, I was planning on having a much larger amount of podcast episodes by the time the holiday season rolled around. So my current plan is to get at least one more for each podcast published, as well as one blog post for each holiday, and at least two more blog posts on top of that before the end of the year.

Verbal Fat





I like to talk a lot. If you know me, you probably know that I will just keep talking about stuff if I am excited about something.

I have noticed that the more I talk, and the more excited I am when I talk, this one thing starts to happen. All those noises I spelled out above start creeping in. I think that it has to do with my brain running much faster than my mouth, and the noises are my mouth trying to get my brain to slow down, perhaps send the information that the mouth was supposed to be conveying once more. I call this thing “Verbal Fat”, and everyone has a different expression this terrible habit.

I have seen massive verbal fat before. When I was in college I was required to take some sort of public speaking class – there were two or three options. I forget exactly the name of the one that I chose, but I remember two things from it. First, the entire text of The Jabberwocky, by Lewis Carol. Second, the amount of improvement that one of my classmates had with his stutter.

I don’t remember his name, and I don’t know the particular problem that made this classmate’s ability to speak so problematic. He had an extremely severe stutter that made it downright exhausting to speak with him. It may have been some form of Asperger’s Syndrome, or something else on the Autism spectrum. It may have been a severe anxiety disorder, perhaps a form of OCD. I am not sure. I think there was something about particular types of sounds that he just couldn’t get past.

I do remember that even reacting to his name when attendance was being called the first day, he stuttered. There is exactly one syllable in the word “here” – and he stuttered over that syllable. In a public speaking class. From day one – moment one – this guy was fighting to get his words out. I know that I was not excited to be in this class with him. I am not sure what he thought about his stutter, but he seemed determined to figure something out.

And he improved.

Considering his disability, he probably improved more than I did. I learned how to memorize a short speech, and how to present it decently well, with inflections and tone and all of that. By the end of the quarter, this guy went from a starting point of stuttering over problem sounds 5 times per sentence (and getting past these problems by repeating the sound 5 times or more) to being able to get through an entire speech only stuttering 2 or 3 times.

That is downright phenomenal! I got to watch him go from being totally burdened by his stutter to it shrinking into a relatively minor (albeit very noticeable) negative social habit. It is something that I would like to witness again. To see someone take their major issues and absolutely dominate them.

He learned how to trim down the verbal fat in his dialogue. This is something that I would love to learn how to do. At the time of writing, I have exactly one podcast episode up. Pretty much the only feedback that I have gotten from it is about how much I ramble. One of the first things that I say in the episode is that I had to edit out dozens and dozens of instances of verbal fat in the form of “um” and “uhh”.

All of that is verbal fat. Things that don’t help me. Things that annoy my wonderful listeners. Things that just generally aren’t pleasant to listen to, and everyone would be better off if I would just stop doing it.

It has been nearly 8 years since I was in the class with this guy, but I distinctly remember the particular way that he dealt with his own verbal fat. Whenever he would start stuttering, he would lift his right foot about 6 inches, bending at the knee. Then he would kick it down and drive his heel strongly to the floor. The strength of his kick was apparently expressive of how severe his problem with forming any particular word.

I am going to try something with my next recording, that I have heard other people have tried when in front of a microphone. I’ve printed out those words I typed out at the beginning of this post. I am going to be recording a discussion tomorrow with a friend and I am going to put my “umm” sign on the wall above her head so that I can just look at it instead of saying it. I’ve got a second one as well that I am going to offer to put over my own head so that she can do the same.

A work.

This post has, in the writing, turned into a very interesting list of things that I am striving for. It is not very topically interesting for nerds, storytellers, or gamers. But I think that many people might like it, so I am going to post it anyways.

It’s a big damn world, and there is a portion of it that I want to live in. But I’m not in it now.

I am speaking metaphysically – the physical space that I live in right now is actually pretty cushy and I kinda like it.

I was reading an article (this one, if you care. Doesn’t have a whole lot to do with the rest of my post here.), and I came across a quote from Seneca – “If a person doesn’t know to which port they sail, no wind is favorable.”

I’m not 100% sure that Seneca actually said that, but it is still interesting, and it got me thinking. I realized that this quote is very generalizable, and remains true no matter who is trying to apply it to themselves. It applies to the person who knows the ‘port’ which is their destination by affirming that, yes – you have taken a few steps in planning that can help you find success later. It also applies to the person who is dissatisfied and has no plan by motivating them to answer the question “where do I want to go with my time and energy? At which port would I like to drop anchor, sell my ship, and never return from?”

With my website (that you are on right now) and my podcasts (which are available at these links here), I am trying to get to a ‘different port’. I am in a job that is not within my preferred career and holds little value over a consistent paycheck and interesting coworkers. I am trying to get to a ‘port’ where I can actually shed this daily distraction from my real goals.

And that is the thing that struck me – I want to leave something behind. I’m not entirely sure that I really knew that in a real way before. I want to take all of my life, throw it on a ship, cross the metaphysical Mediterranean, and unload my ship in a city that I have sorta heard about but have not yet experienced because I have not been able to set up shop and walk the streets and meet the people. One problem is that I am not entirely sure that I know the way to get there. Hell – I’m a little worried that I don’t even know where it is that I want to go.

I think that it will help if I further define the port that I want to get to. This may change en route, and I may find that I will have to settle a new country and build a new port if all of the characteristics that I desire are not able to be found in any one city – or if I get shipwrecked along the way.

SO. my characteristics of the metaphysical ‘port’ that I want to get to:

-Independent from larger Corporate Culture: I know that I don’t want to work for a ‘Large Faceless Organization’, and this may be my insistence towards a rebellious mindset, or just that I have totally ignored the ‘American Dream’ ever since…well ever since a while ago. I am not sure if I would be satisfied working with/for a smaller organization or if I want to be entirely independent. I’m not sure that this distinction matters.

-Contribute Clearly : Related to the point above, I know that I want to be in an organization where I am indispensable. Not that I ever think I will be totally irreplaceable – someone out there must have a skill set similar to mine – but I want to be able to see how I contribute and how I do not, and I want this contribution to be meaningful.

-Creative: I want to be able to wake up and have the freedom to sit there and write or speak or draw or something, no matter the particular medium, and scratch my creative itch. This and two other things (included in my next points) are some of the most intellectually satisfying and stimulating things that I have ever done without other people directly involved.

-Learning: I want there to be time in my day for me to pursue knowing something that I did not know yesterday. This could be flexibility in my day-to-day schedule for improving the things I am doing, it could be the ability to enroll in college courses (or even entire degree programs) that I find that I want to learn, or it could be picking up a new podcast about that hobby that I want to try to pick up.

-Flexibility: I want to be able to leave. Not the particular job or occupation (dependability is an important thing), but I want to be able to do my work from home (maybe a home studio?) or from a coffee shop. Or the basement of the library. Or from Tokyo. I’m not sure if I simply want a regular scene change or if I want to be doing my work in these other places… but I know I don’t want to be told to sit in the same office every day. My current coworkers may not realize it, but I change my cube at work every single day. Usually the change is just a new post-it with a cool quote on it, and sometimes is more drastic, but it always changes.

-Empowering: I want to be able to pursue the things that I find valuable. That could mean finding a person that is willing to do all of the administrative things that I no longer want to do, and it could mean making enough money to go give a whole bunch of it to small business owners in Columbus or farming families in the Congo.

-Empowering: I want to be able to help others pursue the things that they find valuable. Similar and related to the previous post, I want to help others achieve their goals, as well. I want to find the family that has done everything it can to find a job and hire the mom and dad so that they can finally pay off some of those bills without worrying about feeding their children. I want to recklessly hire people – people need jobs to get them out of poverty and if I can hire them first and figure out how to use their talents later I will.

I think I know the way to the port. I think I know how to steer my vessel. I think the winds are favorable, even. Time to shove off and get some work done.

I have no idea what I’m doing, with a podcast.

I am still working on getting all the technical details of this whole podcast thing (and rss, and media hosting, etc, etc, etc.) worked out.

But you can listen to this right here on this page. Normally I will also include some show notes here, but this one doesn’t require much explanation. Just an introduction to me, my larger vision for podcasting, and my website.

The best part – you can download it and listen to it later.

Please go to my various social media things and let me know what you think. (facebook, google+, twitter)

To Hold Infinity In An Hour

I’ve had this post in the queue for a little while – more than a few weeks – and I keep coming back to it and trying to describe The topic more effectively. I’ve realized that I cannot even begin to describe this phenomenon sufficiently. It’s like trying to describe your first memory to someone. Or that feeling when your sinuses suddenly stop being congested with no warning at all. Or how some sentences just feel right. Or how you just know that this music matters.

One way or the other, the below description only hints at what I am trying to get at. It’s like calling the sky “big”, light “fast”, or an active volcano surrounded by bears and sharks “dangerous”. These just don’t do the actual experience justice. But I still want to try, so here we go.

There have been a few moments in my life where time stops.

But it takes an absolutely transcendent experience to do so.

I had one of those moments when I finally got to see an estranged friend for the first time in years – and I was suspended in the balance between two points – the one point being a desperate desire to see her smile and accept me once more as a trusted and trusting friend and the other point being one of fully accepting that she may decide to slap me across the face and drive away, leaving me to always wonder if it was worth it to pursue the friendship again.

I remember every detail of that scene. The precise location I was standing in the neighbors yard so that I would be visible from the larger road. The snow falling in big fat flakes – they had just started so the ground only had a bit of powder. The pine needles on the ground. How cold my ears and hands had gotten – since I had been waiting there for so long. The hesitation that I had, despite the cold, to simply jump in the car – because I did not know if I was welcome. How far I had to lean down to see in to her car – I had grown since I had last seen her. The purple and white dragons embroidered on the black seat covers.  The look on her face right before she decided to communicate which way her decision would fall.

I might tell the full story later. But the emotions within me were running at such a pace that I could not help but let that moment wash over me in a powerful way. And emotions in general are what I am getting at here. Big emotions. As Chuck Palahniuk puts it, “big the way gods are big.” These things in your inner landscape just so big that you can’t even understand them or begin to make a strategy to deal with them, much less have the capability to describe them to other people.

For me, songs can do this. They make my inner world open up and be Big. They do not very often bring me to these huge emotions by themselves (they have occasionally), but they often call up memories of these emotions, and allow me to think about them, to process them, to view them as an object, and allow the viewing of them as an experience in it’s own right with it’s own emotions. In this TedX talk, Megan Washington talks about how singing is the only thing that can free her – ever so momentarily – from the cage of her stutter. She speaks of it as “sweet relief.”

I know this sweet relief. There have been a few things in my life that I have been able to do something very well, and I know just what she means. She is talking about the first time that I read, out loud, an entire sentence on my Japanese vocal mid-term. She is talking about the time that 3 deer joined me for a walk -entirely of their own volition – for an entire afternoon. She is talking about a perfect bulls-eye that I pulled when I had only one shot left in a big damn gun and all the men of my family-in-law were watching. She is talking about what I felt when I was taking piano classes in college, and I figured out how to play a few bars of a song that was extremely important to me in my dramatic and emotional high school years – Scarborough Fair. I remember spending several evenings only playing the one song – for a week I neglected my other school work just to play the song because I had finally found a way to come to grips with these titanic emotions in my past. She is talking about that moment when I got to watch as my friend’s daughter sing to him and his wife on his 30th wedding anniversary at a venue that he had not been thinking about the sound system or his daughter.  She is talking about that moment right after my wife and I turned away from our officiant at our wedding and the music from the opening scroll of The Empire Strikes Back washed over me and I saw the wave of excitement roll over my guests as all 300 of them suddenly realized that we were inviting them not only into one of the most important moments of our lives, but also to watch one of the best movies that Hollywood Sci-Fi has ever produced.

Sweet relief. These moments. Song and poetry does this to me regularly. It brings me these moments where time. Just. Stops. And I see parts of myself clearly.

It is actually an observed phenomenon that some people (especially, though not limited to, men) have the part of the brain that keeps track of the passage of time sort of stops working: I forget if it goes totally nuts or just totally shuts down -either way, there is no useful information coming out. People get this way with video games, and movies, and other high-sensory-input experiences.

It is one of the only things that lets me work a job that I have to work but I hate the actual actions of. My friends know that I ‘push paper’. They don’t know anything else because it is so boring that they tune out after a sentence or two. Seriously, I’ve had more than one friend ask me “so I know you push paper, but what does that actually mean?” – only a week later they ask it again because they forgot what I said the first time because they zoned out or got distracted. The people that have asked me more than 3 times might remember something about ‘forms’ and ‘prospectuses’. It is at a job that boring that I work, and it is only because of music (well, and podcasts) that I can stand my job.

I just get to tune out and listen to these people sing or tell stories for a while and make sure that my feet keep moving and my hands keep working and eventually I sort of wake up and *poof!* my work is all done. Like the music cast a spell and let me skip the work at the cost of the time to do the work. This makes it so that my work day is only about 2.5 hours long (since I have to talk to coworkers and bosses etc.). It is kind of amazing, but also a little disconcerting.

I don’t know what it is that makes you, dear reader, rise above the clouds and get lost in the moment, but for me, all you’ve got to do is sing. to sing that song that makes you just get lost.

Ethereality and Creative Reality

There’s a concept that I really like, and in English it would take me 1000 words just to explain. I forget where I learned about it first, but in Japanese it is called “Mono No Aware”, (‘mono’ like “moe-noe”, ‘no’ like we say it, ‘aware’ like this: “ah-wa-ray” – sue me I like pronouncing things correctly). And the translation is basically the recognition that nothing we have or do is permanent, that it is all passing – but to do so with an appreciation and empathy for those things.

If you have been reading my blog (which is great that you are doing that but – holy crap I only have -what, 10 posts maybe?) then you know that I have recently gotten some world-shaking news. Through the combined effort of my wife and I, there is a child coming in to the world. I am planning on posting this particular post (that you are reading, right now) about a week or two after my ‘announcement’ post that is addressing my children and my acknowledged inadequacies directly.

And there is a reason that Mono No Aware comes up with the subject of Children. Ever since I first got the news from my wife, my mind has been doing absolutely everything that it can to avoid the fact that there are metaphysical doors in my life that are shutting, very quickly. No, They have shut, but I just have not yet looked at the new state of my life to acknowledge exactly what has shut and was has remained open. I will not be able to quit my job in a huff and pursue writing full time  anything that does not consistently pay me money. I will not be able to work on my master’s degree (at least – not where I was planning on doing so). I will soon not be able to stay out with the guys past a certain hour. I can not waste my time on bullshit.

I want to build something for my child. For my children. But thinking about the future like that forces me to extrapolate further and realize that in only 2 or 3 generations (4 or 5 if I am lucky), the only evidence that will remain of me and my legacy (other than some old photos and a dusty memorialized facebook account) are the intangible things that I need to start thinking of right now as to how I want to raise my children.

In short: I would like to have more educated people in the world; so I will raise my child to love learning. I am excessively interested in truth and people fighting for it; so I will raise my child to value truth like fresh water on a long hike. I would like to have more peaceful people in the world; so I will raise my child with gentleness and respect. A lot of other things are on this list as well, including several things from the last link on my ‘about’ page.

The awareness involved in really looking at and embracing Mono No Aware is a scary one and it makes me realize that my legacy is a very real thing and a very ephemeral thing. My children will be the cement in which I write my name, but they may also be the backhoe that rips up that same cement. If I know humans (and I think I do, at least a little) I will probably want them to strip away some of the legacy that I am going to be imprinting upon them – we humans are terrible people sometimes, and terrible people sometimes make terrible parents, but I think even terrible parents want their children to minimize their terrible qualities.

Now, to art.

Holy crap my children are going to be one of the most important things in my life. That realization still hits me really hard. And I get to form them – not just physically, but emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. This means that I can look at them as a canvas upon which I will make my mark. My rough stone from which I will carve a beautiful statue that others will adore or a pillar that will hold up a great structure. They are the room full of people that have no idea what sort of story I am about to inflict upon them.

I don’t even get a choice! My mark will be on my children whether I like it or not – and whether they like it or not. I hope that I can approach this with excitement more than dread.

I think that storytelling will be similar to raising children in a few ways.

Stories are very ephemeral – they don’t stick around very long, like dancing, sand sculptures, and a few other art forms. Having a story in your head is a little different than telling a story. Getting it in your head and maintaining it there is just the work that you do ahead of time – the art is in the telling. Same goes for teaching anything, but over the course of my progeny’s childhood this fact will be highly emphasized – The stories that I tell and the things that I teach them will not have a lasting, physical effect. Hopefully they will have a lasting effect.

When I tell a story, I hope to give people an experience and entertainment with my words, my voice, my inflections and emphases and so forth. But I cannot just list off a bunch of verbs and nouns and tell people “you are now entertained.” Similarly, for the next few decades at least – I will be telling my children things that I hope they will remember. But there will be very few things that I can point to that I will be able to say “see that – that is the particular thing that I meant to do. And here it is.” And in this way, both raising children and storytelling are similar – it is in the action of the thing is where the important bits are.


An Important Event Planned for the Spring

First off, I am apologizing in advance for the nerdy style of speech that I am using. I am apologizing mostly to my family – many of my family are not nerds and I suppose they just have to put up with it. I am also apologizing to my friends, but I think if you are still my friend, then I already know that you will excuse my language, which can be very over-the-top sometimes. I love analogy, metaphor, and other flowery ways of saying things that are just downright overdone.

One way or the other: please read the whole post. I like to write, and you reading it will encourage that. Also this is a much better way of communicating things to people en masse.

That being said, I am not exactly the sort of person that will put their kitchen remodel on Facebook. Or their cat, dog, lizard, or hell, even family. That’s right – I don’t like to put my family on Facebook, because I’ve noticed how little I like seeing your family on Facebook. I’m not going to tell you not to put it up there, because I suppose that is what Facebook is for. Probably not a popular opinion that I hold, but hey, there you go. But considering this blog is for me what Facebook is for seemingly everyone else, I also don’t plan on putting them up here.

Oh, except for a few that help me to effectively communicate things. I will be doing my best to keep posts on-topic. So…this post is about my family…

Ultrasound 1

Congratulations, Seth. It’s a potato. It’s an on-topic potato.

I will, however, talk about important things that happen to me. Things of cyclopean import that shake the very foundations of my existence and make my brain all fuzzy for days on end. The things that sweep through my life like a flood from some divine spring, scouring the landscape inside my head down to the bedrock. Things that throw all other things against the wall to become shadows in the glaring importance of this new-found truth. Things that, when the light finally dims from my new perspective, the shadows will have etched themselves upon the wall in bas-relief, while this new thing stands as a fully-realized sculpture within my mental vaults, an altar to a transformed state of mind.

And it’s not like this event was not somewhere on the horizon. Amanda and I were actually talking about having kids, considering that her stomach issues were getting figured out and we’ve had a few years to figure out stumble blindly through marriage. I mean, right now this event is only just visible below the line of the horizon, it is so far off. But it has separated itself from the ‘distant future’ and can now be faithfully predicted, firmly in what I understand to be called the ‘middle future’. That is – not tomorrow and not next week, but so frighteningly close that I need to start planning things that have to do with it. With a date – even one given to me by experts in the matter!

That date is March 11. On this date, I’m going to be a father. My brain has not been able to wrap itself around that fact.

We are not entirely sure how this will all look when we get to it, either. We may move (doing a pregnant waddle up and down icy stairs all day might not be what Amanda wants to do in the final month or so). We may get different jobs, more attuned to our new responsibilities (i.e. making more money because kids are hella expensive). We may turn into odd caterpillar-like things, wrapped in a cocoon of stress, unsure of the specific form that we will take upon breaking out into the rest of the world, but – just like the hypothetical butterfly in question, we are totally convinced that everyone will want to see and hold and make adorable noises at the product of our regeneration and stress – and they will probably take pictures of this product like mad, as well.

SO I figure you want to know some details:

First off: if you want ongoing details and updates about the littlest Kleinpaste, then email me [] and put “SUBSCRIPTION TO BABY” in the subject bar. If you use the form to the left, you will not get a subscription to baby. The form to the left is for a much more nerdy things.

Detail 1: As I said above, March 11th is the due date. This puts this post (that you are reading, right now!) at the very beginning of the 2nd trimester (specifically, 13 weeks and 6 days), which we have heard is the beginning of the more ‘out of the woods’ area of pregnancy in regards to danger.

Detail 2: Some people have known for a while, and they are either family or married/already-have-kids folks that are part of our regular lives (as in, we see them at least once a week). There are a few other people that know – but it was leaked to them on accident or they were just in a place where we had to be talking about it. I am not 100% sure what Amanda thinks, but I for one have been extremely excited and I am just done with my poker face – people have even asked me about ‘hypothetical children’ in the last month where I almost burst out laughing.

Detail 3: This was a surprise to us, as well as you. If Amanda and I would choose, we would probably wait at least until we get a solid extra set of wheels. Down one car is already time-consuming enough, now we need to pay various baby-related medical bills while trying to save for a car/find a loan that fits our budget. Considering this is a surprise, we are probably going to become very creative in our baby-supply-procuring-endeavors. We don’t want to put people out, but we may cleverly disguise ‘begging for free diapers’ with a ‘contest where you get a bottle of booze if you bring the most diapers to an event’.

Detail 4: Not as related as the other details, I have a website! You are on it right now! I am actually using this post as a sort of ‘stress test’ to see how my webhost does. I am using this website for a few different things, and they may or may not be of interest to you. Please check back often, especially if you care about nerdy things or if you want to know my thoughts about parentage, etc.

I still don’t know what the whole ‘baby’ business means for this website, but as of the time of writing, I already have a few posts planned that deal with the philosophy of parenthood and fatherhood (which I think are slightly different in… important ways).

If you want to comment on this post, I invite you to do so here on this website (you probably won’t see your post at first – the system I have in place requires me to moderate each one). Responding on facebook is also cool.

RIP Robin Williams

I’ve never had a celebrity that I cared about die on me. I did not realize that any celebrity could actually affect me this way. Hell, I didn’t even realize that I cared about him.

But the internet has been all a-buzz about it, so I had a lot in front of my face to think about – and I think I know why I care about it.

My childhood was quite turbulent, as family goes. I did not see much of my extended family very often. My parents divorced when I was young, so I never saw both sides congregate at anything until my older brother got married – and even then, a last-minute date change forced a great deal of them to not be able to show.

My point is that I never knew my uncles very well. Some friends of either of my parents sort of filled that role a bit, but it never quite cut it.

From what I understand of the real world, uncles are supposed to be accessible to young people. They make a whole bunch of jokes that you don’t get – and they explain them to you, despite your parent’s wishes. They show you all about those noisy and destructive things that your parents don’t want to teach you – but parents don’t want to teach you only because they would rather not be the ones responsible for you having that knowledge (it’s a ‘plausible deniability’ thing, I think). They impart a whole bunch of wisdom that your parents have been trying to hammer into you for years – and you don’t even think to resist them.

I saw Robin Williams more often than I saw much of my family. He is funny and does almost nothing but tell jokes. When I started getting old enough to understand the important things in life, I was exposed to some of his drama. Even in his drama he is funny and manic sometimes. I can still recite that little portion of a poem that he recited in A.I.

Thinking back, I think even his manic characters are important for me where my philosophical landscape is concerned – Aladdin‘s genie wanted freedom – he could literally get anything but freedom, and freedom was all he wanted. The genie’s primary goal was to make life good for Aladdin. He did that with his magic, sure – but he also imparts incredible advice, in some extremely overt ways, when Aladdin needed it. Whether Aladdin wanted it or not (“Tell. Her. The. TRUTH.”)

He never talks to me directly, but he is always addressing me. In any role that he portrays, there is some moment where he takes control of the scene and says some incredible, profound wisdom.

He is one of those people that, at this point in my life, I would invite over to my house for a humble dinner if I saw him on the street. Very few celebrities are on my short list of  “people I want to have over for dinner.”

I am not totally sure what I am getting at here. I know that I want to be a good uncle for my nephew (he is a gigantic little 2-year old child), and I will probably look to Williams as an example for that. But otherwise, I gotta say – I miss him already. But remember that thing that he got the most joy from was making people laugh. So crack a joke for every tear that you shed for him.

The internet people I blame for this website’s existence

So, I am putting this post here partly because I need to write more things that I can publish immediately. I am also putting it here because these people are part of what a) Inspired b) Motivated or c) Instructed me in one way or another that eventually made this website exist. I will probably be mentioning each and every one of these people/websites in that E-book that I talked about some number of posts back.

All the names will link to their respective ‘about’ pages, because I not only want you to see these awesome and wonderful people, but also to know what they are up to. I feel an odd sort of kinship with these people, even though I have never spoken to them. This is probably because they spend a lot of time mucking about in my head, talking to me about a bunch of things that I find interesting.

Welcome to Night Vale

at Commonplacebooks is comprised of so many people that I don’t think that I could reasonably mention them all here. But they are the first ones that managed to scratch that itch that I had for audio entertainment that wasn’t music. Damned good storytelling – about a strange town in the desert with tons of unexplained phenomena that no one (except Carlos) seems to want to figure out, and a rivalry with another town that worships a smiling god.

Ryan Costello, Jr., Cathy Dolan, and Jefferson J. Thacker (a.k.a. Perram)

are the people at the Know Direction podcast, which started from the 3.5 Private Sanctuary – A place the the now-defunct revised 3rd edition of D&D can live on. It has grown a lot and added both Geek Together and Know Direction – all of which do a great job of getting in to the nerd world, and specifically into the fantasy d20 world. Once Pathfinder came on the scene they started to shift focus to that game, which is basically taking the rules of 3.5 and running with it as if 4th edition never happened.

Escape Pod

A science fiction podcast that, when I found it, it was well past episode 400. I started working my way back and I think I got all the way to 200 before I decided to only listen to the new ones as they came out. It would be impossible to mention each individual person, since there are so many different authors, readers, and other staff. They do some great work, and I only discovered them after I decided to do Apprentice Storytelling 


Just like Escape Pod, only fantasy. Similar story, but there is an itch more vital to me that gets scratched by fantasy. I am still working my way back with this one, and I am only as far back as 274 (they are on 322 at time of writing).

Daniel J. Lewis, specifically where he exists on The Audacity to Podcast

Another one that I started at episode 1 and then just caught up over the next few months, The Audacity to Podcast is a lot more technical than all of these previous entries. It is amazing that he is gives away as much advice as he does – for free. This guy makes a living off of his podcasts, and I have the feeling that if you would have a conversation with him in real life, he would be that guy that just won’t shut up about it. The twist is that practically everything that he would say, he has already tried.

Not just the podcasting side of things, but how you should think about setting up your website, where you should set up your website, how you should approach social media, and a slew of other things. If you plan to try to get people to look at stuff you create, then you should listen to this guy.

The Podcaster’s Roundtable 

A bunch of people – they specifically try to get someone new on the rotation every time they do a new episode. Several of the best “podcasters who podcast about podcasting” are almost always represented, along with some of the other more specific niches – anything from writing to knitting to…I can’t remember because I was not really interested in what they podcasted about, rather I cared about how they did it.

Mur Lafferty from the podcast I Should Be Writing.

It was, from what I can tell, originally a way for Mur to motivate herself to get a book published. And it worked. Seriously: she has a few books published. Now she continues to podcast about different aspects of the writing and publishing business while she is writing her young adult fiction. She is also (formerly and currently) an editor at the above Escape Pod science fiction podcast. In her podcast, she often interviews editors, authors, publishers, and other industry insiders.

Pat Flynn

Similar to Daniel J. Lewis, Pat Flynn has the Smart Passive Income blog, website, and everything else that he can think of to round out that idea. He even has an E-book that you can download for free – you just have to sign up for his email list, which has been pretty cool to be a part of (even if I never actually email him back or buy anything). Pat’s focus is much more on the profit side of things, and has a ton of advice for how to make a business out of niche websites. I am about to listen to episode number 85, out of a current 121.

The New Gamemaster

The way that I plan to make real, useful content with this blog (as opposed to the [various] [podcasts] I [produce]) is to rant for several paragraphs about something that I think you would like to know about.

[EDIT something wonky is happening with the theme’s colors. I ignored the theme and went straight to the post editor, hit ctrl+a and made it all one shade of readable gray. So the links are now indiscernible from the rest of the paragraph, so I am going to go through and put brackets around them all.]

First off, I am going to plug the [paizo pathfinder forums] and the [3.5 private sanctuary], then the[ pathfinder core book] as another place that you should go for information and content, especially considering that I plan to use these extensively as brain extensions and high-octane creativity fuel. There are others out there, but this post is not about forums.

Later in this post I do bullet-pointed advice, and that may be what you are looking for. Scroll down.

When you start, you need people who are interested in it. I started with my nerdy younger brother, my best friend (who was trying to get my attention in other ways, at the time – I was, as usual, oblivous), and someone who had specifically wanted to play D&D. When I moved, I started another group that included a bunch of very nerdy people that were already playing all sorts of RPGs on consoles and computers, and each had such a mind for writing and characters that I could hardly keep up with them when they got their hands on the DMing side of things. Both of these groups were good – everyone wanted to be there.

I have played with some people that were only there because they were dating someone in the group, or because they thought, “because I am nerdy, I have to play,” or perhaps “all my friends are doing this stupid game, I suppose I will too.” These people are capable of becoming players in their own right, but if they don’t start enjoying the game after a few sessions, it may be wise to talk to them outside the game about why they are there, and let them know that if they aren’t enjoying it, they should just stop. I mean, this is a game – why waste a precious evening on something you are not enjoying? I don’t enjoy alternate history novels, you don’t enjoy Tabletop Roleplaying Games. No biggie. We’re all people, and people are different. There is no ‘minimum nerd quota’, even though you can take [some tests]. But seriously – you don’t have to be more nerdy than other people, only as nerdy as yourself.

I also know that in order to GM well, you just have to jump in. You may not have a very good grasp on the rules, you may have never played before, you may not have a very good adventure. One way or the other, you just have to plan a time to get together and start rolling. I started with almost zero real experience playing, much less GMing. You may find that you are a terrible GM – that’s okay! You still tried, and you learned something about yourself – and you know where you can improve if you want to continue.

But if you are going to GM, you have to plan, and many people get stuck in the planning phase. I am sort of there right now, partly because of time, and partly because of general discouragement (see previous post). But I know that there are a few things that I have to get in place before I get down and start playing. At the moment, I may be guilty of allowing those to stay where they are for too long. But many people get to the point of wanting every little detail planned out, and every single turn of every combat prepared for, and every gold piece in the hoard having it’s own backstory and really, you just need to calm down and get together what is most important – people and a story.

If you don’t have people (both real people in the meatspace and non-player characters) then you won’t have a story, but you also won’t have a game. You will have a combat engine, and that can be fun, but it is not a role-playing game. You cannot play a role without others to play alongside.

If you don’t have a story but you still think you have an adventure then I am sorry – you are wrong. You are wrong – you have a wargame. There are better systems out there for wargames [expensive] [cheap] [free (computer)], and none of them are pathfinder. Even a very simple story can be used – “The town is plagued, let’s go fix it!” – and all you do is send the PCs to a simple dungeon that is the source of the plague.Or a little more complex – “the town is plagued by werewolves, let’s go fix it!” and you send the PCs to the lair of the werewolves and they all kick some ass and avoid getting turned.And then even more complex –  “The town is plagued by generally nice werewolves and the mayor is one of them, let’s go fix it!” And suddenly they need to avoid outing all the ‘good’ werewolves (including the mayor), but still find the few nasty ones.And then you can go totally over-the-top with a crazy story like – “everyone in the town is a werewolf and they are plagued by a non-native dire werewolf that is looking to expand it’s territory and the mayor is having an affair with the dire werewolf during the days, but he doesn’t realize it because during the day the dire werewolf is the new [popular traveling bard] that everyone simply adores” And now you will have a ton of social encounters that are all going to turn really really nasty in 3 seconds.

Okay, I’ve gone off on a tangent but I think it was a good one. I am going to try to find some advice for people from someone that isn’t me.

I did a quick search for “New GM”  on the paizo boards and and google, and came up with a  few important things for GMs to remember. Many are taken from [this] highly informative thread, an [interview], some guy with a [website], and another forum’s [post] also helped. Most of these are taken from something that looked interesting or on the first page of posts, so there is plenty of gold further back, as well. The advice will be from a page, and things in parentheses are my commentary.

  • Have Fun. (why else would you play?)
  • Always Say Yes. (without breaking the rules, and sometimes even then)
  • Don’t panic
  • Be as prepared as possible.
  • Having a complete understanding of the rules is not necessary (and likely not possible). When a rules decision has to be made, make it quickly, and then research the rule later.
  • Practice. Keep GMing. (You will get better)
  • Get tools. (Core rulbook, dice, adventure modules, etc)Communicate with your players (2 different groups will play 2 different ways, you need to know what your group wants)
    •   discard tools when you don’t need them (battle mat for a social encounter, 50 lbs of books for a 2 hour session)
    •   cheat sheets (random names, random shops, random town descriptions)
  • Get involved in the community. Forums, messageboards, cons, little local gaming clubs are all good.
  • [Steal like an artist.]
  • Don’t forget the Crunch (AC, hit points, etc)
  • Don’t forget the Fluff (voices, clothes style, mannerisms, statues in great hall, etc.)
  • Don’t let combat drag on (people can play wargames and minis games if they want)
  • Learn to shift easily.
  • Don’t try to kill the PCs, but don’t save them from their own folly
  • Let the PCs snatch victory from you (without deus ex machina)
  • The dice are less important than the story.
  • Describe more. Start with big things, then zoom in on little things. (Stop describing if the players interrupt you.)
  • Try to find a GM that knows more than you. (and perhaps…be his apprentice?)
  • Do not let players override rules decisions, or continuously cheat. (watch for an upcoming post: rule 0 and dice fudging)
  • Listening to podcasts can be helpful in the learning of how dialogue works at the table (this is not 100% shameless self-advertisement. It was a real suggestion.)
  • The characters will get more character as you go.
  • Have one (mature) player that knows a little more about the campaign and adventure.
  • Players’ decisions must be real.
  • Have an extra few items about your plot or the world that you do not reveal.
  • If a player looks bored, it is time to do something exciting. (having a ‘camp raid at night’ available is useful – put recurring NPCs in it, too)
  • No plan for a session or adventure survives first contact with the players

My Life is Frustrating. But Only a Little.

I am posting this right before I post another, more RPG-nerdy post. I am doing this because I think that this website is not about my life – it is about a life that I share with the geeky community. Very little of this post relates directly to the nerds, so I am intentionally burying it in the archives. I am including it anyways because I want people to be able to see what was going on in my life as I was getting this website off the ground.
So, I am now (3^3)+1 years old.

Some of this is going to go into a chapter in the book that I talked about.

I thought at this point that I would be married, have a kid, have a low-level job in a career that I wanted to devote my life to, and be making enough money that the panic of ‘oh god rent’ will be only be a hold-over emotional artifact from my youthful college days.

Apparently, that is not so. The only one on that list that I actually have is a Wife, and she is great. I work in an industry I have zero interest in. One of our cars just blew a head gasket and we have to buy a new (cheap) car, – which means that rent is still a thing to be worried about.

Because money is tight, I am less able to pay for the things that would make this website a complete whole. Specifically, I don’t think that it is wise to pay for the level of media hosting that my overall plan was calling for (the $15/month level would allow me to do multiple Apprentice Game Master episodes every week and once-every-other for both Apprentice StoryTeller and Nerd’s Apprentice). Seriously – I cannot reasonably pay the very reasonable price of $15/month.

I can tell you why I cannot afford it. The specifics are not important – the car dying, the medical issues that Amanda and I dealt with recently, school loan payments, cars dying again, friends or family that desperately need help – all of these and more ate my budget, each to different degrees.

But it seems to me that I should still be able to afford $15/month. It is very discouraging that I cannot (responsibly) do that. It makes me less motivated to improve the website – the launch is pushed back even further, why do I need to deal with that right now? It makes me less motivated to record more audio – I have a big pile of unedited stuff just waiting for me – why would I make that pile bigger? It makes me less motivated to go edit the stuff I do have – I cannot release it in a responsible way to the public – why make a tool I cannot use? It makes me mentally constipated – I have all this stuff I cannot get done, but all this stuff has to just sit there and all get in the way of each other.

If you know of a way to get free media hosting at LibSyn (or BluBrry, I suppose) for longer than a month or two, let me know. I will not use media host that does not make real promises about ownership, advertising, etc. to their customers.

If you know of a way to make a bunch of money fall out of the air into my lap, let me know. I am an Amazon Associate, but I cannot really do a lot with that until I get more traffic, and my traffic cannot increase until I well and truly launch, and I cannot launch until I get media hosting.


Need to get back in.

I think I’ve been listening to too many people talking about podcasts, and not enough people talking about Pathfinder.

I know this because I got my website up so fast and I still haven’t managed to finish writing that first adventure or edit a single other episode. Those two goals would be switched, if I had my way. Have more content and a half created site would be better than half-finished content and a reasonably full site.

To be fair to myself, I have had a really stressful week or two, and building a website from nothing is a whole bunch of really little tasks that are easy to accomplish. So I am not really mad at myself – I am just acknowledging where I am and where I need to focus.

SO…  The only thing other thing that I want to work on for the site now is

  • the continual cataloging of my experiences, so that I can put it all into an e-book for free for my readers/listeners
  • make an email opt-in option

The first one is a continual task that will also contribute to my blog. The second one is something that I keep hearing is absolutely foolish not to put up as early as possible. I will do my best not to hit people over the head with it.

BUT…as far as content goes, I need to be ‘in’ the RPG world a little more. Which means I need to be writing the last of that adventure – the hardest part of which is going to be the hook.

I also need to be editing episodes of everything, which I don’t like to do without being able to say “I will have a full episode ready at the end of this,” but I don’t even know how long it takes me to edit a single episode – I have only finished one, and it is the first of the weird-format ones about character creation. I think not knowing how long it will take has been a mental block – I never want to take time away from my time with my wife, so I never want to sit down and edit when my wife is in the house, and she is never out of the house for the same amount of time as any other time. Not that she is unpredictable, just not consistent from day-to-day. Makes it hard to come up with a  plan for all this stuff.

But my goal for this weekend is to finish the adventure (with a hook) and to finish editing one more episode. I need 9 from the Apprentice Game Master and 3 from Apprentice StoryTeller and Nerd’s Apprentice to be where I want to be for launch.

I should also figure out a good schedule. Maybe 6 hours every sunday…

This is here as an experiment. You should probably just ignore it.

This is here as an experiment. You should probably just ignore it.



A week in, and I already want to write a book.

And, while I am really figuring some stuff out,


And I would still really like for you to tell me if/when I am doing something wrong. Please – you can email me ( or use the contact/feedback pages. I will get back to you, probably very soon.

So, my website has been up for a week. Time to talk about it. BUT FIRST – an idea that struck me.

This is put here as an experiment.

This is put here as an experiment.

I realized that so far I had nothing to give anyone coming here to my website, and that was really unfortunate. I think that I will be ready to launch my podcasts very soon (more on that later), but other than my photos (which are low-resolution versions of the originals), my…meandering blog posts that I will surely have, and some interesting links for you to go to on the resources page, I have not given anyone a single reason to come here. SO, I was at work one day with nothing to do but work with my hands and my brain was off on some tangents in a podcast and I thought

“Holy crap. I’m in a very unique position right now. I should write a book about that. And give it away.”

Specifically, I am in the position of ‘about to launch my first podcast’, at the same time that I launch my second and third podcast, at the same time that I launch my blog and website. Also, I was kinda hoping that I could make a brand out of all this stuff and possibly (one day) make a living off of it.

I also have a problem: whenever I start talking to people about my plans to start a website/blog/podcast/etc, I see this expression come over their face. It is an interesting expression – it is one that expresses genuine interest, but not because the subject is inherently interesting – but they are being pulled along in the wake of my interest, and they perhaps are wondering when I am going to stop making such a big wake in the waters of the conversation so we can get back to something that is interesting to more people (more sane people?). So this book will be a very good way to express this stuff to someone (my keyboard, at the moment), and return to normal conversation with all my friends.

My plan is that I will do a series of blog posts, and each of these posts will be another chapter in my upcoming book. If you think you have heard about this somewhere – you probably have. Pat Flynn is a guy that started a blog and an online business. He actually did the exact same thing – you can read his blog and get the exact same content, or you can get his E-book for free. And the best part is the recursion – his E-book is written on the topic of publishing E-books.

My book will likely have a lower production value, especially where the graphics are concerned. But I wanted to be able to give something to people, and what better to give people than a bit of perspective? I will be writing in media res, and I expect the theme to be something along the lines of a note of encouragement. A statement of “hey guys, I know it doesn’t seem to be getting any better, but I can see the end of the road from here!”. I hope that I will be able to break down the confusing parts into something comprehensible, and maybe even inspire some people to start their own podcast.

So, a week. what have I done with this week?

I put up a handful of pages, all those things that you think and see when you go to the websites of other successful internet people. I actually specifically modeled it after these other people. The difference between ‘feedback’ and ‘contact’ still mystifies me – and maybe I should merge them into one page. I think I got way too wordy on my ‘resources’ page, so I made it private until I can change it to something reasonable. Something that I am continually proud of is sitting over on my photography page. I like photos. Especially mine, and especially when they earn me an ‘A’.

I tried out all sorts of different themes, and landed on Parabola by Cryout Creations. At first when I started trying things out, I thought that I had accidentally paid for a theme (something that I absolutely should not be doing right now). But it turns out that they just know what makes people want to give them money. It is robust, it is pretty, I can modify some pretty major things that other free themes just dictate for me, it lets me fiddle with any little setting that I could even think of (and a lot that I didn’t). I think that you should try out their themes and then go give them some money. I do not get paid for what I am saying here. If website ever starts making money, I am going to give some of it to these guys, either by buying some paid themes, or just giving it to them – they just give such good stuff away. I want to show my support, and I would love it if you tried them out on your own website.

I have gotten a whole bunch of plugins, mostly at the direction of Daniel J. Lewis, specifically the 41st episode of the Audacity to Podcast. (this also exemplifies one of the best parts about blogging and podcasting – there is a record of good info just sitting around like low-hanging fruit).

I have gone out and made a bunch of social media pages so they will be ready when it is time to really do that stuff. All the links will be at the end of the blog posts, and I have a StumbleStoryInn on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter. There are other links to other things, and I encourage you to use those links if you like my stuff. Hell – use those links if you don’t like my stuff. Just use the links, please.

I need to change a few things: there are a few colors that I don’t like, but my more graphically-oriented wife is not in the room at the moment. My header is certainly going to change. I like the photo that it is taken from, but it has absolutely nothing to do with apprentices, games, podcasts, stories, and only a little bit with nerds (it is japanese 6-1, by the way). I need to figure out how to turn off pointless information about the lack of commentary at the bottom of most pages. I am considering a column of useful stuff on the left side, but not sure.

Ok, this has gone on for a while, so I will wrap up after this: If you happen to come to my site right now, you would think that I am about to go to LibSyn and start my media hosting stuff. A problem happened, though – Amanda’s car died. This means that the small amount of leeway in my budget just disappeared overnight. Unless someone donates money to me, or I find a bunch of money in a briefcase in the alley out back – My plans for the podcast are to continue editing and making episodes ready, but posting them might be an interesting trick right at the moment.

Thanks for reading.


But I am figuring it out.

But while I am figuring it out – please tell me what I am doing wrong. I don’t have a lot of self-awareness and I often don’t realize that people want me to do something. Telling me directly is the best way. Email me:

I really appreciate it and if you are in Ohio, it would be really easy for me to follow through on a promise to give you a cookie (or other little pastry of your choice).

This is the first ‘real’ post that I am putting on the website, and this is the first time that I have actually built a website (or…started building a website. most of my sub-pages say ‘under construction’ right at the moment). Currently I am using WordPress, with the free theme “ilisa” [update: parabola. it is amazing]. I don’t know whether or not I will be keeping this theme around, but I like the look of it when I have no images, like right now, but I’m not sure I am going to like it with images (putting a header in makes it overlap the title of the website – first real problem I found with it).

First off, if you came here from a search engine, or a link on some sort of forum or social media…THANK YOU for visiting my website! I have no idea how much traffic to expect, or who to expect it from. If you are reading this post then either you are in the archives (thanks for looking through them!), or it has been less than a month since my website went up. Which means that you are special – my google analytics probably shows you, individually. You are that blip, and I will cherish that blip – you just coming here helps me to say “See! I am doing something that someone else thought it would be cool to look at!”, and seriously, I appreciate that – it is really easy to think that I am just screaming into the void here.

This image is mostly here as an experiment.

BUT If you are one of my friends that I have bugged and begged to come and check out my website/podcast/etc then THANK YOU for actually doing that. I really appreciate it, and I am going to make a cookie (or some other little pastry) just for you. I would love it if you would tell people about this website, or even better: if you would tell someone about one particular page on my website. If you send people to one of these particular pages, then they will probably stick around for a little bit longer, which helps me to show my awesome stuff to them. You could try sending them to my photo gallery, perhaps one of my ..three.. ..separate.. ..podcasts.., or even just the contact page, so that they can just tell me all the things that they would rather see me doing – I really am open to anything right now. So, the main point of this endeavor is to have a landing page for my podcasts, all three of which I will explain a little bit in a moment. The secondary function is to be able to publish stuff about some of the things that I like to do, like the aforementioned photography, internet stuff in general, social media stuff, and…I don’t know…talk about bonsai trees or something. I will probably complain eventually, as well.

So, the podcasts: The Nerd’s Apprentice: I think that the  Nerd World is a subculture within American and global society that is not very well understood by those outside of it. SO…I am starting the Nerd’s Apprentice as a way to try to help us nerds to be a little more self-aware, and to help those outside of the Nerd World to understand us a little bit more easily. The topics will be on all sorts of things, from tabletop roleplaying, to conventions, to why some nerds like the Sahara desert and some like New Zealand (it has to do with movies). The format will be a somewhat ‘normal’ format for nerdy podcasts I have listened to already – a couple guys sitting in front of the microphone, neither of which is 100% sure if what he is about to say will bring down the rage of the internet. I will be having a few regular co-hosts and hopefully a bunch of interviews. I am the nerd, and many of you are the nerd, but we are all the apprentice (especially those of us who are not nerds) – we all have something about the Nerd World that we don’t know. If you have an episode idea that you would like to hear me talk about, you should email me. The schedule will be once every 2 weeks on Monday morning, opposite the Apprentice Story Teller

The Apprentice Story Teller: I think that storytelling – both its art and its craft – is becoming passe` in my culture (I am American, specifically Midwestern Caucasian). I have a nephew that I know I will need to entertain at some point, and if he is anything like me or my brothers, he won’t just want to play with a football. I want to be able to keep his rapt attention with the things that I can tell him about, and inspire him to tell others a story of his own. The format will be mostly me telling you stories, but also exploring aspects of the Art of Storytelling in a discussion format with other people. I am the apprentice, and I want to record my learning process about this – and to give you the recording, so that you will be able to learn, as well. I am pretty sure that I will take submissions, and if you have an idea for a story that you want told, or if you have something that you would like to submit your own audio for it, I eagerly encourage you to email me about this. The schedule will be once every 2 weeks on Monday morning, opposite the Nerd’s Apprentice.

The Apprentice Game Master: at the time of writing, I have been out of Tabletop Roleplaying for about 2 years. I am getting back into it because of the faith that many of my friends have in my gaming abilities. I decided that this would be a great opportunity to help other people learn how to play the game, especially since I have one new player that will be playing with me. The format is quite specifically against the grain of the normal “actual gameplay” podcasts I have heard (to be fair, I have not heard very many). I am going to harshly edit out everything that doesn’t happen “in-game”, and then chop it up into 15(ish) minute segments. I will do my best to remove dice-rolls, page-turns, tangents about local restaurants, and ten-year-old inside jokes. I think that most of my listeners just don’t care about most of that, and the shorter segments will make it much easier to consume. We are both the apprentice, and I am re-learning how to GM – you could learn with me. The schedule will be 3 days weekly, probably Tues/Wed/Thurs, but I am not set on that. Thanks for reading this whole thing – walls of text are sort of my specialty. And seriously, I want to give you a cookie. You should come over.