Vulcan Stev's Database

It's a BLOG Captain, but not as we know it.

Life Near an Iowa Cornfield 5-30-2009

My presence online has been greatly diminished this month.  It has been a hectic month for the VS household.  Mrs. VS has begun  the weekly chemo treatments (see Day 146 for more info).  She’s been feeling the stress.

PIT #1 graduated High School last week Sunday (5-24-09).  So we’ve been running hither and thither attending open houses, final concerts, Baccalaureate, graduation and what-not.  Pastor Gary (yes the same Pastor that Goober helps) preached Baccalaureate.  I was left wondering why Senior Awards needed to be presented after Baccalaureate and why each presenter had to spend 15 minutes re-reading the info printed in the program.  PIT #3 summed up everyone’s feelings “That was two hours of the most boring thing I’ve ever sat through, Daddy”

Graduation went off without a hitch.  PIT #1 has closed down one chapter of her life and is prepared to embark on the next chapter.  She heads off to basic training on the 31st of May.

Memorial Day we went to a Renaissance Faire in the Amana Colonies.  Wasn’t sure how the family would like it but all five of us enjoyed ourselves.  PITs 2&3 want to go to the one in Des Moines over Labor Day.  Mrs. VS enjoyed herself as well.  I picked up a cloak and two daggers.  PIT #1 got a Katana blade to go with her Black Belt.  PIT #3 remarked that the Faire was like a D&D game at full size.

Me? I’ve been working at a new job and trying to juggle the career and the can company.  I’m the new Ad Designer for a local paper, The Record in Conrad, Iowa.  I’m using my degree and enjoying myself immensely.  The new job is 9-5 and thus my free time has evaporated somewhat.  I usually work on blog posts on the weekends and get a full week’s worth written.  However the past few weekends have been busy with graduation stuff.  Uncle Bear has written some guest-posts to get me back up and running (Thank You My Liege).  I should be back to writing tomorrow after we drop off PIT #1.

We have a farewell party for PIT #1 tonight and PIT #2 starts Driver’s Ed on Monday.  Hoping to catch Angels & Demons at the dollar theater.

May 30, 2009 Posted by | Life near an Iowa Cornfield | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Little Dutch Can… a Setting for Your Game?

LDC-logoI own my own business.  I run a redemption center in north central Iowa.  Iowa has a nickle deposit law on all carbonated and alcoholic beverage containers.  redeem the deposit on beverage containers for the consumer and then in turn sell those cans and bottles back to the vendors.  The consumer pays this deposit when buying the beverage.  After consuming the drink the customer then returns the can or bottle for the deposit back.  I run my business as a convenience for grocery stores to be able to keep the mess out of their stores.

That’s very interesting, Stev, but why are you writing about this and posting it on the network?  I’m glad you asked.  I have a constant stream of people in and out of my establishment.  Folks from all walks of life, all levels of the economic class have visited.  This is the type of setting that allows your characters access to rumors from the highs of society to the lowest levels.

Sure, your party can go to the tavern and get the low-down on what’s happening from the working stiffs but is your party going to get an invitation to “The Social Event of The Season” at the Tavern? Maybe.  However the upper-crust aren’t going to frequent the lower class’ watering hole.  Your PCs have a better chance of rubbing shoulders with all walks of society if you can find a setting used by all strata of society in your world.  They could find work at a business that everyone needs (like Little Dutch Can).

Having your PCs attend the local equivalent of a sporting event is another good idea for unexpected encounters with folks outside their normal class level.

Do you have an idea of a cross-class setting?  I’d like to hear it.

May 19, 2009 Posted by | Fluff/Inspiration, Legacy D&D, Little Dutch Can, Other Systems, RPG | , , , , | 4 Comments

Heigh-ho Heigh-ho, It’s off to work I go…

Monday, April 27 my mother brought over a help wanted ad.  The paper in Conrad, Iowa was in need of a graphic artist/ad-man.  Since that is what my degree is in, Mom thought I’d be interested.  Money has been tight since Mrs. VS went on disability because of her cancer.  The redemption center was never designed to be the family’s sole source of income.  The funding that the church was supposed to get starting in January hasn’t materialized as yet.  So needless to say I was interested enough to call.

The editor of the paper took my call.  We set an interview for Tuesday afternoon.  I began the immediate search for a vehicle other than the can van to get me to the inerview and back.  I also began making plans for Mom, the PITs, and my new employees to run the redemption center that afternoon.  Monday evening I made sure my resume and portfolio were up to date and settled down for fitful night’s sleep.

Tuesday afternoon, nervous as a cat in room full of toddlers, I left for my interview.  Chuck Friend, the editor/publisher of the Conrad Record is a very nice guy.  He and I talked about my previous job experience and why if I’m a small business owner in my own right do I need a job?  After an interview of about an hour and half, Chuck gave me a trial assignment.  The previous ad guy had designed a pretty crappy sign touting the paper’s in-house copy business.  Chuck sat me down at the computer and said, “Fix it.”   20 minutes later, I had indeed, fixed it.  Chuck handed me an application and told me to bring it back Thursday morning filled out.  I asked if he was offering me a job.  Chuck told me to plan on being at work all day on Thursday.  Easiest job interview I ever had.

Drove home, excited, nervous, worried and called the sellers of a used ’94 Ford T-Bird.  Told them I’d take the car.  Spent Wednesday buying clothes that don’t look like I count cans all day long.  Picked up a new sponsor for the blog (but that’s another story<g>).  Also got Mom and the PIT’s ready to take over the can company for awhile since My work schedule is part time and we need to restructure the can company’s hours to fit the job schedule.

This morning I woke early, got dressed and headed out to my first day of working for aomeone other than myself in nearly three years.  When I got there, I was shown my desk and given an immediate assignment of redesigning some in-house forms and the paper’s masthead.  I actually got to design an ad today as well.  I was very nice to actually use my degree for  a change.  Eight hours flew by.  I will be doing a redesign of the paper’s website as well.

I’m psyched.

April 30, 2009 Posted by | Life near an Iowa Cornfield, Vulcan Stev | , , , | 6 Comments

Life Near an Iowan Cornfield 3-22-09

Busy busy busy…..

After starting off majorly behind at work on Monday, I thought I’d take just pre-counted cans and estimates while I worked on Saturday’s backlog.  So many cans came spilling into the center that I didn’t have room inside for all of them.  I had to tarp over the top of the outside pile.  The pile stayed there until Friday.  The redemption center in the next county still hasn’t opened so I know I’m still getting walk-in traffic from there.

Tuesday Mr. VS got her medport installed and Friday we had the first round of chemo.  More details in the Day 69 blogpost.

PIT #3 had a major project at school that was due last week.  He needed to have a prototype for an original invention.  His idea was a two-headed axe/hammer.  On one side is the axe head on the other side of the handle is the sledge hammer head.  Forget the fact that putting weight on the bottom of the handle decreases the power behind the swing he had fun putting it together.  His teacher was impressed with his creation and presentation.  PIT #3 reported after school that day that he didn’t even tell the teacher the best part of his new invention, it could also be used as a weapon by his barbarian character in D&D.  Daddy is so proud.

Currently watching: Stargate SG1 season 10
Currently reading: Necessary Evil – hoping to start that campaign at OGN in the next few weeks
Posts in the pipeline: GintUo Super Spies, Make Myself a Monster
New on my bookshelf: Mutants & Masterminds core rulebook, D&D 4e PHB and Monster Manual

March 22, 2009 Posted by | Life near an Iowa Cornfield | , , , | Leave a comment

Life near an Iowa cornfield: special crappy edition

The first bit is a good news/bad news scenario.  I’ve been so busy at work that I no longer have room inside the building to store inventory.  I run a reverse business where I buy my product from random walk-in traffic.  I then turn around and sell that product to six main customers.

Saturday I had enough stuff come in the door that I didn’t have enough time to sort everything.  Today while I was sorting Saturday’s overrun I had twice that amount come in the door.  My profit margin is so slim that I cannot afford to hire help at the prevailing minimum wage as I would lose money for every hour worked.  I’ve been dealing with a backlog of unsorted product since January when we learned Mrs. VS has cancer.

Today I hastily unloaded the van and can trailer so I could go make my bar run to Eldora.  Winds were out of the south today and really blowing against my trailer.  This is the same trailer that got broke into this winter.  Becasue of the cold temps the repairs to the trailer were designed to be a quick and temporary fix that was supposed to be more permanently repaired once the temps warmed and I could stay outside long enough to fix it right.  Plywood was nailed in place over the holes in the chicken wire.

While driving into Eldora the wind caught the plywood and ripped it clean off the side of my trailer.  Now I would be unable to do my complete bar run as the van didn’t have enough space to hold everything.  One of the grocery stores that I service let me root through their scrap lumber to make a temp fix to my temp fix to least allow me to make the complete bar run today.  While I was fixing the trailer my pants split in the seat from crotch to crack.  Natrual air conditioning at 50 degrees is not the warmest sensation.

Enroute home which took twice the normal time as I was driving slow due to the damaged trailer, Mom and I heard from my baby sister.  My nephew has a blood disorder that could be luekemia.

My day peaked this morning when I inadvertantly started the next RPG Bloggers meme.  How was your day?

March 16, 2009 Posted by | Life near an Iowa Cornfield, Little Dutch Can | , , | 7 Comments

Life Near an Iowa Cornfield: mid-March

I’ve been focusing a little more on my RPG blogs recently.  Part of that is due to a lack of news about Mrs. VS, part of that is due to sheer amount of volume that has come in to my redemption center.  We’ve also been spending a lot of time at activities for the PITs.

The last two weekends the can company has been shut down.  PIT #1 had a speech tournament and we went to see it.  Her speech was an original composition of someone auditioning for the lead role in Hamlet.  Her take on it was that person kept forgetting the lines.  She started out and the intentionally flubbed a line and mimed pulling a script out of her back pocket to refresh her memory.  She scored very well with this speech just not good enough to go on to state.

Last weekend PIT1 & 2 were part of their High School’s State Academic Decathalon team.  AcDec is a quiz-bowl type of competition.  The quizzes focus on ten different academic disciplines.  Each team consists of 9 members and two alternates; 3 varsity students with a GPA of 3.0 or lower, 3 scholastic students GPA 3.0-3.5, and 3 honors students GPA 3.5 and above.  PIT 1 is on the scholastic team and PIT 2 is on the honors team.  The team took fifth place overall at state and tied for first in Super Quiz.  PIT #1 scored a silver medal in Social Studies.

We found out this week that the Tae Kwon Do Academy is shutting down as soon as PIT #1 gets her black belt.  This leaves my boys and I stuck at yellow.  I either need to find a new academy or quit.  *sigh*

Mrs. VS took her state certification test today.  She is interpreter for the deaf.  She cannot continue in her current job without passing this certification.  We’ll know if she passed in few months.  Mrs. VS also gets her port for chemo installed on Tuesday.  Friday 3-20 she starts the chemo.  Regular updates on her status will begin again.

We’ve had to cancel two puppet shows due to illnesses in the puppet team.  Our next one is scheduled for just before Easter.

The can company has been VERY busy when I’ve been open.  Today we had well over 20,000 cans come through the redemption center.  Still waiting for a new one to open ion the next county over and hopefully my workload will return to a manageable level.

Open Game Night @ the Youth Center has been going very well.  22 folks showed up at the last one.  We had folks playing pool, air hockey, people who brought the favorite board games from home, a new puzzle table and of course the RPG table running the Stargate campaign.  Two new players joined the RPG table.

Currently watching: Stargate SG1 season 10, Get Smart season 2
Currently reading: Necessary Evil rulebook (when I can pry it out of the hands of the PITs)
Movie reviews in the pipeline: Eagle Eye, Stargate (inclusive)
PITs currently playing: Kingdom Hearts

March 15, 2009 Posted by | Life near an Iowa Cornfield, Little Dutch Can, Mrs. Vulcan Stev's Fight | , | Leave a comment

Life Near an Iowa Cornfield

Randomness from the Vulcan Stev Family:

Mrs. VS had one of the drains removed yesterday.  Chemo starts as soon as the second one comes out.  She is NOT looking forward to starting chemo.

PIT #1 had all of her wisdom teeth pulled yesterday.  She was blessed with both her mother’s and father’s crooked wisdom teeth.  She’s taking it better than I did when I had mine pulled.

Nearly finished with with my “Gaming in the PotC Universe” article.  Just to finish statting out the main characters.

Last night’s game night had very few actually show up.  The first night was a rousing success, followed by a basketball game between the two schools that 90% of the players attend, A Valentine’s dance that took over the youth center and then last night when no one showed due to weather.  I have got to get some material for a pick up game in a different setting than the Stargate game.  I’m thinking something in either ML20 or Prime Time adventures.

I was actually open for business the entirety of this week (first time this year).  I had so much Pepsi product that the driver couldn’t load it all on his truck.  Still not sure about being open today.  I’m out of fire wood and it’s well below freezing here.

I’m also in a quandary.  The D&D 2.0 game I joined that plays on Sunday afternoon does so at the same time as the NASCAR race.  Sunday afternoons have traditionally been my time with PITs #2 & 3 as we watch the race together.  Don’t want make my boys feel excluded by dropping NASCAR in favor of D&D with PIT #1

February 21, 2009 Posted by | Connection Ministries, Life near an Iowa Cornfield, Mrs. Vulcan Stev's Fight, Vulcan Stev | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Long Day at Work

January has been both a good month and a bad month at Little Dutch Can.  I’ve been backlogged due to the amount ofLDC-logo time I’ve spent away from work caring for Mrs. VS.  This is not a complaint, just stating a fact.  Today, Mom and started counting and sorting just after 9:00am.  I had gotten to the redemption center just after 8 to get the stove lit.  We counted and sorted and waited on trucks.

I was unable to make my bar run yesterday because my can van wouldn’t start due to cold weather.  I postponed everything to today.  The Coke truck and Dr. Pepper truck usually arrive around 12:00.  I planned on leaving at about 1:00 to make my bar run.  At 1:00 neither of the trucks had been there.  Called the drivers, my Dr. Pepper driver had the day off and a sub was running his route.  Couldn’t get ahold of my Coke driver.

I didn’t have anything prepared for tonights service.  The time was running late.  Pastor called, my co-leader had been co-opted by her youth group into being a chaperone for a school function.  Nothing prepared, short my teenage helpers and down one co-leader.  We decided to change Wednesday evening service into an open house on Friday for the youth center.  One less worry on my day.  However I still needed my trucks to show up so I could leave on the bar run.

1:30, Dr. Pepper shows up.  The substitute driver parks his rig 6in. from my can van and trailer on an icy driveway.  We get him loaded out and he leaves, right into my trailer.  There wasn’t a lot of damage, but the driver left without seeing if there was any damage.  I called the Dr. Pepper office and after playing chase the proper person with DP’s automated answering system, I was told the driver would come back so we could verify what damage occured.  OK I need to wait for the DP driver yet again.

Finally got ahold of Coke.  My Coke driver sprained his ankle early during his run and went home.  No one bothered to call me and tell me. *sigh* I could’vemade the bar run and been back before DP came back.

3:30 I’m done with a large mountain of glass, aluminum, and plastic.  My van is running and I’m waiting on DP.  He finally shows up.  Verify that yes he did indeed hit my trailer as pieces of my trailer are still embedded in his.  Head out 3:45 for the bar run.

6:00 done with the bar run.  Home. 10 hour day in sub freezing temps outside.  Thankful that the stove kept the interior at 45

Tomorrow the temps are supposed to be well above freezing.  Should get through even more backlog.

How was your day?

February 4, 2009 Posted by | Life near an Iowa Cornfield, Little Dutch Can | , | Leave a comment

Ending a crappy month with fizzle.

Today was supposed to be a calm relaxing day.  We shut down the can company for a family day together.  PIT#1’s High School show choir was preforming in Sumner at 10:50am.  She took off at 7:00am to ride the bus.  At 8:45 I went out to start the Beast.  Couldn’t get it going.  Dad came over to jump start it.  We finally got it running and took off only 20 minutes late.

Headed off to Sumner.  We arrived five minutes after GC Jazz had finished their set.  Missed PIT#1’s preformance because of the Beast. *sigh*  Oh well not a problem, we still have 1hr 45mins to get from Sumner to Waterloo for Tae Kwon Do testing since it’s about a 45 minute drive we figure we have time to get lunch.

Left the High School building and went out to start the car.  Nothing. Nada. Zip.  The Beast refused to start, yet again.  Managed to flag down a fellow GC Jazz parent.  Spent 20 minutes trying to jumpstart the Beast with no luck.  By this time our HS bus had already left so we couldn’t ride back with the rest of the show choir.  Erica’s Mom volunteered to take as many folks to Tae Kwon Do in her car as she could, she had room for two.  Sent PIT #1 and PIT #2 off to Waterloo while Mrs. VS, PIT #3 and I tried to make alternate arrangements.

My folks had car trouble of their own and couldn’t come get us.  Spotted the bus for Waterloo High School that was near the Tae Kwon Do Academy.  I figured if I could get a ride there, then I could at least get testing in today and hitch a ride back to town with fellow students.  The Columbus High Sailors were gracious enough to not only give us a ride to Waterloo but we were taken directly to the Academy.

Go Sailors

Got to the Academy only 10 minutes late.  This wasn’t much of a problem as the ATA official was running late.  Testing began, we tested pretty well in my opinion despite my strained left arm.  I’ll know more next Friday, results will be posted here.

During testing PIT #1 (a current red belt) needed to break some boards.  I was chosen as one of the board holders.  PIT#1 kicked wrong and caught my strained arm.  Hurts.  She lost all concentration and was unable to break the board.  The ATA official saw what happened and didn’t count that attempt.

Mrs. VS has been pretty tired, the stress of the Beast not co-operating, frustrations on the day hasn’t done her much good.  Monday we find out how well she’s healing and when we start chemo.

Tomorrow I’ll try to write something about Goober and Sunday morning’s puppet skit.

January 31, 2009 Posted by | Life near an Iowa Cornfield, Vulcan Stev | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments