Saturday, October 27, 2012

Happy Birthday Theodore Roosevelt

Today is the 154th anniversary of the birth of Theodore "T R" Roosevelt, our 26th President and one of my favorite American characters.
A few quotes in honor of his birthday, courtesy of  the Theodore Roosevelt Association and others:

"There is not in all America a more dangerous trait than the deification of mere smartness unaccompanied by any sense of moral responsibility."

"We must treat each man on his worth and merits as a man. We must see that each is given a square deal, because he is entitled to no more and should receive no less."

"It is no use to preach to [children] if you do not act decently yourself."
"If a man does not have an ideal and try to live up to it, then he becomes a mean, base and sordid creature, no matter how successful."
"In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing."

"The things that will destroy America are prosperity-at-any-price, peace-at-any-price, safety-first instead of duty-first, the love of soft living, and the get-rich-quick theory of life."

"It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed."

A photo of me, standing by the Theodore Roosevelt memorial on Theodore Roosevelt Island, Washington, DC.

Friday, October 26, 2012

St Raphael the Archangel

     St. Raphael is one of seven Archangels who stand before the throne of the Lord. He was sent by God to help Tobit, Tobiah and Sarah. At the time, Tobit was blind and Tobiah's betrothed, Sarah, had had seven bridegrooms perish on the night of their weddings. Raphael accompanied Tobiah into Media disguised as a man named Azariah. Raphael helped him through his difficulties and taught him how to safely enter marriage with Sarah. Tobiah said that Raphael caused him to have his wife and that he gave joy to Sarah's parents for driving out the evil spirit in her. He also gave Raphael credit for his father's seeing the light of heaven and for receiving all good things through his intercession. Besides Raphael, Michael and Gabriel are the only Archangels mentioned by name in the Bible. Raphael's name means "God heals." This identity came about because of the biblical story which claims that he "healed" the earth when it was defiled by the sins of the fallen angels. Raphael is also identified as the angel who moved the waters of the healing sheep pool.
A prayer:  
     O God, who gave blessed Raphael the Archangel unto thy servant Tobias to be the companion of his wayfaring : grant unto us thy servants ; that we may ever be protected by the guardianship of this same thine Archangel, and defended by his help. Through Christ our Lord. Amen. 

     As in real life, in my Traveller universe, Christians ask St Raphael for aid and protection on their journeys, and for aid in recovery when injured along the way.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Our Lady of Walsingham

The Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham is the most renowned sanctuary of the Mother of God in the whole of the British Isles.
     Walsingham itself is a village in a remote part of East Anglia some 125 miles from London.  Here in the year 1061, (when England was still considered part of the One Orthodox Catholic Church) Richeldis, Lady of the Manor, received a vision in the fields near her home.  The Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to her and carried her in spirit to Nazareth.  There, Our Lady showed her the little house where the Annunciation took place, and directed her to construct an exact copy. In confirmation of this vision, a spring of water suddenly appeared at Richeldis’ feet.
     Richeldis obeyed, and so a chapel, after the model of the Holy House at Nazareth, was built beside the spring in honor of the mystery of the Incarnation.  By God’s blessing Walsingham grew into a great center of prayer.  Pilgrims came not only from distant parts of England or Scotland but from all over Europe, to pray before the venerable image of God’s Mother in the Holy House, and to drink from the waters of the spring. England’s Nazareth, as it was called, became famous for miracles of healing.
     The Mother of God is honored at Walsingham not only by Anglicans and Roman Catholics, but by Orthodox as well. Before World War 1, Archbishop Seraphim, of the Russian Orthodox Church in Paris, blessed a plot of land close to the nave of the Shrine Church, where it is hoped one day to establish a permanent place for Orthodox worship (this chapel has not so far been built). In 1938, at the consecration of the enlarged Shrine Church, a delegation from the Russian Church was present, led by Archbishop Nestor and Archimandrite Nicolas Gibbes. Then at Pentecost, 1944, a temporary chapel within the walls of the Anglican Shrine was blessed by Archbishop Sava of Grodno, of the Polish Orthodox Church. This continues to be used by Orthodox pilgrims. Although small, it has an icon screen and all the features necessary for Eastern Orthodox worship.
     Among the Orthodox who visited the Shrine after the war was the saintly Serbian Bishop, Nicholai Velimirovich. For several years a Serbian priest, Father Nadjanovich lived permanently at Walsingham. Since 1961 there have been regular Greek Orthodox pilgrimages. In 1964, the Orthodox Confraternity of Our Lady of Walsingharn was set up, under the patronage of Metropolitan Athenagoras, with Greek, Russian, Serbian, and English Orthodox representatives on the Council.
From Fr. Patrick Cardine, St. Patrick Orthodox Church

Art of Manliness - TR on Integrity

A nice short 'manvotional' today from the Art of Manliness site. Since it quotes Theodore Roosevelt, who is much admired here at Deep in the Stacks, I present it for your consideration. 

From the speech, Citizenship in a Republic, 1910 By Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt On Integrity in Private and Public Life

Encyclopædia Britannica Image Quest, "Theodore Roosevelt", accessed 15 Oct 2012,

Friday, October 5, 2012

Fighting Smart in RPGs

In a previous post I shared an article from STRATFOR on dealing with emergency/danger situations in real life. Today I want to draw from that article a few thoughts on how players of RPGs can employ this advice in their gaming.

Situational Awareness
Players have to make an effort to keep their characters aware of the world around them. Most game systems have a pre-combat mechanic for spotting danger or avoiding surprise attacks. The GM should be employing that mechanic, and if the players do not announce that they are being watchful and alert for suspicious activity in their surroundings, the GM can feel free to surprise them as often as it takes for them to learn. Set up a standard observation/crowd-scan policy and announce that your character is doing it in any situation that you think could get dangerous. GMs should keep in mind that not all antagonists are going to be masters of stealth, so keep it varied and challenge the players to keep vigilant.
Run, Hide, Fight
Run Just because some NPC wants to start a fight does not mean your character has to go along. Ever considered negotiating? If talking doesn't work running is a viable option. Fight on your terms, not on theirs. If for some reason your characters are unwilling to run, they had better be aware and looking out for possible trouble.
Hide Going into a potential conflict situation, the players should pay attention to the layout and keep in mind escape routs and places that provide concealment or cover. Remember that concealment is not the same as cover unless you have not been spotted yet. If your opponent hasn't seen you yet, don't break concealment unless you're going to get trapped in that spot. When the shooting starts, don't stand out in the open or you make yourself target number one – get to cover fast.
Fight Know your capabilities as a character and as a team so you'll know when you're over-matched. Assess your opponent's weaponry and power. Have a general plan in place for handling different kinds of threats; a grenade launcher and a sub-machine gun are not employed the same way. Coordinate with your fellow characters; teamwork is a force multiplier.
Whenever you fight, remember that your first objective is always survival. Don't hesitate to break contact if things are going against you.
In World Wars 1 & 2, automatic weapons and artillery caused far more casualties than personal weapon fire. So identify your opponent's biggest gun and target it first. Suppress the heavy hitter while protecting your own biggest gun, because the enemy will likely be using the same tactic.
Use maneuver to get to the combat range that is most favorable to your side. Handguns are close range weapons, if you've got better ranged weapons, don't let your opponents get close.
Maneuver Moving targets are harder to hit, plain and simple. If you're not under cover, maneuver to cover as quickly as possible.
Distance Again, avoid close range combat if at all possible. The closer you are to your opponent, the easier it is for him to hit you, and you want to survive.
Angle Rather than running in straight lines, dodge and weave about, forcing an opponent to track and lead you, throwing off his aim. In Traveller, this is called Evading.
Cover & Concealment Cover is anything solid that will stop attacks from hitting you. Concealment is anything that blocks your opponent from seeing you. You can hide behind cover as it offers protection, but you should move behind concealment, as it will not stop bullets. Anything between you and an opponent is helpful, but always try to get to cover.
Survival Mindset
If the game system you're playing has 'panic rules', expect the GM to enforce them. This should encourage more planning and non-combative solutions to confrontation, as no-one wants to freeze out in the open to get shot. Rules for initiative, or who acts first in a combat turn, can also simulate this hesitation under fire. GMs should allow players a chance to improve their character's performance under fire.
Not all RPG's try to be realistic, but for those that do, where combat is expected, your characters should fight smart or face the likelihood of getting beaten by NPCs who do.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Second Place and I'm Happy

     BeRKA at the Zhodani Base ranked my "76 Patrons" entry Renovations as the second place entry in this years' contest. I'm surprised and pleased to have one of my entries chosen; I read all of them and there were lots of great ideas all around. Check it out!