Goodbye, Patch

Goodbye, Patch

This is mostly a stream of consciousness because I took frequent breaks during Patch’s calmer moments to pet and talk to him, so expect some rough-to-nonexistent transitions between paragraphs. I’m also doing only minimal proofreading (spelling and punctuation) of what I wrote as Patch lay dying. How I said things at the time could be as enlightening as what I said.


2018-05-16, 23ish o’clock – The Passing

As I write this I am sitting in the living room floor next to our 15-year-old Australian shepherd Patch as he gasps for air, neither of us knowing which breath will be his last. Lura and I fell asleep and failed to be there for Ginger’s final moments, and Meekay clearly wanted to be left alone to die so we honored his wishes, but at least one of us is going to be sitting right here where Patch can see us and we can pet and comfort him until the very end.

Many years ago I started a flash fiction called “A Dog’s Life”, but ran out of steam and never finished it despite going back to it several times over the years. With the imminent passing of the last of our three dogs, perhaps now is finally the time.

Patch has stopped flailing his head around while gasping for air, but his heart is stubbornly beating – but just barely.

He finally passed at about 01:15, with my hand on his head, providing what comfort I could.


2018-05-17, 13:30 – The Burial

Meekay was half the size of Patch, but when he died several months ago we were just barely up to digging a large enough grave by taking turns with the shovel. At half Patch’s weight, Meekay was also pretty close to the maximum weight I can carry. So we knew we were going to need help.

Thankfully one of our oldest and dearest Buncombe-county friends came over to take turns with the shovel, and I was able to help him carry Patch out to the grave. He even whispered a few words over Patch before we picked him up, and over the grave after we filled it in.


2018-05-18, 17:30 – The Aftermath

If you follow me on Twitter or facebook you may know that I’ve been having a great deal of trouble with this loss. Ginger’s death 7 or 8 years ago was so sudden and surprising that it never had time to sink in. Meekay was miserable for several months before he died, so his death was a mercy.

But Patch was different. He’s the only pure-bred member of our pack (we’re almost certain he escaped from or was dumped by a puppy mill), and Aussies have an average lifespan of 12 years, so we’ve been anticipating his death every day for several years. Every time we got up in the morning or arrived back home after several hours, we were prepared to find that he had died.

But he stubbornly hung on, until he seemed to suddenly give up Wednesday morning. He wouldn’t or couldn’t stand up, and refused both food and water. Late that night we realized the end was near, and decided to stay with him until it came.

During those final hours he suddenly regained his will to live, and fought for every breath. Because he was gasping for several hours we think he ultimately suffocated to death. Thankfully, in the final minutes he passed out before finally drawing his last breath.

Patch was also unique in one other way. When we adopted Meekay he rode home in Lura’s lap, and thereafter was her dog. He developed such a close emotional bond with her that he was even subject to whims of her Depression and Bipolar 2 – the poor empathic thing.

Ginger was technically Mom’s dog, but she couldn’t take care of her, so we did. Ginger was also very much no one’s dog but Ginger’s. She was highly independent and also super laid back.

Before I started a pain management routine I frequently threw out my back, forcing me to lie down wherever I was. On those occasions Meekay would be confused and just walk away. Ginger would either step on me in passing, or use me as a pillow.

Patch, on the other hand, would do his best to get Lura’s attention so she could come help me. He also tried his best to comfort me whenever my Depression or temper (which I kept a tight leash on until the Depression made it harder to control) got the best of me. Sometimes it backfired and he got yelled at for annoying me, but he still tried again the next time.

Patch was the closest to being “my dog” of any I’ve ever known, so I shouldn’t have been surprised that his passing has been so much harder on me than the first two.

He’s also the last of our three dogs. We got Meekay when we had only been married about two weeks, and Patch and then Ginger joined us about six months later. For 15 and a half years we’ve always come home to find someone happy to see us. We went out for several hours after the burial, but as we got out of the van at home my first thought was what it always is: that I needed to run wake up Patch so he could pee. That sucked.

Thanks to my traumatic brain injury, it is really hard for me to change long-held habits or develop new ones, so I expect to have to go through that again every time we come home for several weeks at least.

For the 12 years since I’ve been on Disability and Lura has been working, the dogs have been my only companions for large chunks of time. She’s unemployed right now, but once she goes back to work I’ll be lonelier than I have ever been in my 42 years.

Normally I say that people who equate the loss of a pet with the loss of a child are fools, but losing the last of our dogs is giving me empty nest syndrome and making me think that perhaps those people weren’t so foolish after all.

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The Art of Mathematics

After a break of more than a decade, a couple of years ago I got back into creating math-based art I call “The Beauty of Math”. Some of it involves drawing Bézier curves on graph paper, like this one I did back in 1994 during my Freshman year of college:

Others are drawn with just a compass and a ruler, combining circles, arcs, and lines in interesting ways. I have now taken those skills and applied them to creating coloring pages like this one, all of which can be found in my DeviantArt gallery:

Please note that this is a low resolution image, not suitable for printing. See my DA gallery for the high res version.

That brings me to LibreCAD. I still start all of my designs with pencil and compass, with lots of erasing, trying something new, and starting over, but then move to LibreCAD to make a clean digital version to share.

LibreCAD is an open source 2D CAD program for Windows, Android, and Apple. It somehow manages to be very powerful, but also lean enough to run easily on our Asus Transformer netbook (Coloring Page #4, pictured above, was made almost entirely on the Asus while at Bojangles one afternoon). While it’s no AutoCAD, it’s also not hundreds of dollars a year.

Even if you don’t have an engineering degree or any interest in engineering at all, as you can see in my coloring pages, LibreCAD can also be useful for various other arts – I even used it to design the cards for my forthcoming game Spellslingers.

The DXF files I made with LibreCAD are available to my Patrons. The exported SVGs are available to the public exclusively on Patreon, but only Patrons can access the DXFs.

My First Two Print-on-Demand Games

A month ago I announced the impending release of my first print-on-demand (POD) game, Cribbage Dice. Unfortunately, once my sample copy arrived I discovered that The Game Crafter’s (TGC) d12s are nearly sequential, which means they can’t be used as randomizers.

More fortunately, TGC’s Hook Box Challenge has inspired me to create three new games. Two of them proved to be untenable for the contest, which requires the entire game to fit into 18 cards and the box that holds them, but will be great as larger games. The third, Spellslingers, is nearing completion, and will be available for POD purchase shortly thereafter. The contest deadline is in six weeks, so expect frequent announcements on Twitter.

My First Print-on-Demand Game is (Almost) Go

While I have been silent here for the past month, it’s not because of depression this time. If you follow me on Twitter or facebook then you may know that I have been busy getting read for the release of my first print-on-demand game, Cribbage Dance (that link doesn’t work yet). My sample copy should arrive in the next day or so. If all is well with it then the game will go on sale on November 13th at the link above.

I have also started work on several new games, including some for The Game Crafter’s “Hook Box Challenge”, which requires entries to fit entirely within an 18-card hook box. It seemed like such an interesting challenge that my wife is also entering. It will be her first attempt at designing a game from scratch, so she hasn’t even told me what it’s about so that I won’t be tempted to influence her design. Needless to say, I’m excited to see what she comes up with.

I’m also nearing completion of a free game for Looney Pyramids – I just need to get a few more people to playtest the rulebook itself. Once Lura and I have finished our entries for the contest we’ll get back to finishing up the Looney Pyramids game we’re designing together.

Dog Haiku

The first thing Lura and I did after getting home from our honeymoon 15 years ago next week was adopt an adorable stray mutt we named Meekay. Wednesday afternoon he breathed his last breath. I have of course started a tribute poem, but in the meantime here are some hilarious dog haiku to serve as a memorial.

Meekay, our small, black terrier mix dog at the age of 7


Note: The authorship of these is matter of some debate. If you know who actually wrote them please let know so I can give due credit.

Love my master;
Thus I perfume myself with
This long-rotten mouse.

I lie belly-up
In the sunshine, happier than
You ever will be

Today I sniffed
Many dog behinds—I celebrate
By kissing your face.

I sound the alarm!
Paper boy—come to kill us all—
Look! Look! Look! Look! Look!

I lift my leg and
Whiz on each bush.
Hello, Spot—Sniff this and weep

I sound the alarm!
Garbage man—come to kill us all—
Look! Look! Look! Look! Look!

How do I love thee?
The ways are numberless as
My hairs on the rug.

I sound the alarm!
Mail carrier—come to kill us all—
Look! Look! Look! Look! Look!

My human is home!
I am so ecstatic I have
Made a puddle

I sound the alarm!
Gardener—come to kill us all—
Look! Look! Look! Look! Look!

I Hate my choke chain—
Look, world, they strangle me!
Ack Ack Ack Ack Ack Ack!

Sleeping here, my chin
On your foot—no greater bliss—well,
Maybe catching mice

Look in my eyes and
Deny it. No human could
Love you as much I do

The cat is not all
Bad—she dots the neighborhood
With Tootsie Rolls

Dig under fence—why?
Because it’s there. Because it’s
There. Because it’s there.

I am your best friend,
Now, always, and especially
When you are eating.

My owners’ mood is
Romantic—I lie near their
Feet. I fart a big one.

New Eeveelutions

During Pokémon League on Free RPG Day several years ago I ran an OVA one-shot in which all of the players were different Eeveelutions. Now I’m planning on running that game again in order to playtest my trpg. I adapted the original seven characters into it, and also made Sylveon. But I’d like to also offer players a couple of options that don’t yet exist. Here are the stats for the canonical Eeveelutions:

Eeveelution HP/At/Df/SA/SD/Sp Role
Espeon 65/65/60/130/95/110 Special Sweeper
Flareon 65/130/60/95/110/65 Physical Sweeper, Special Tank
Glaceon 65/60/110/130/95/65 Special Sweeper, Mixed Tank
Jolteon 65/65/60/110/95/130 Special Sweeper
Leafeon 65/110/130/60/65/95 Physical Sweeper/Tank
Sylveon 95/65/65/110/130/60 Special Sweeper/Tank
Umbreon 95/65/110/60/130/65 Mixed Tank
Vaporeon 130/65/60/110/95/65 Special Sweeper/Tank

The average stats among all Pokémon are between 80 and 88; average Attack is 95. Pokémon are generally only considered competitive if all of the stats they need to do their particular job are at least 100 (so Espeon’s 130 Special Attack and 110 Speed are ideal for a Special Sweeper). Eeveelutions always have two stats that are above average (110, 130), one that is average (95), and three that are garbage (65, 65, 60).

After spending a couple of hours spreadsheeting, I came to another realization about Eeveelutions: their top three stats are nearly always at least two of the top three stats of all Pokémon of their type, but not in the same order. For example, the highest average stats of all Electric Pokémon are, in order: SA 102, Sp 90, and SD 84. Jolteon’s are Sp 130, SA 110, and SD 95.

With all of that in mind, I used the average stats of their types to create some others so I can make them as pre-gens. I also made sure not to duplicate any existing Eeveelution, which limited my options.

Eeveelution HP/At/Df/SA/SD/Sp Role
Steel 65/130/110/65/95/60 Physical Sweeper, Mixed Tank
Dragon 110/130/65/95/60/65 Mixed Sweeper
Flying 65/95/60/130/65/110 Mixed Sweeper
Ground 130/95/110/65/65/60 Physical Sweeper/Tank
Ghost 60/130/95/65/110/65 Physical Sweeper, Mixed Tank

I might make the rest of the types eventually, but that’s it for now. It will interesting to see how close I got if Game Freak ever adds any of those types as Eeveelutions.

Happiness Jar #9 for 2017-05-19

I’ve been fighting a cold for the past several weeks (finally getting over it is the first thing going in the jar this week) so I haven’t been posting, but I haven’t been completely idle, either. I have invented two new games this week. One of them is for Looney Pyramids, and I’ll be starting a second round of playtesting for the latest version at the FLGS tomorrow.

The other game is more complicated (imagine if you could design your own tournament-legal figures for a game like HeroClix), and it was while using our Pyramid Arcade to test out ideas for it that I came up with the other game. I’ll go into more detail when I release the Pyramid version as a free game – next week if I can get enough playtesters tomorrow.

Several years ago we sold the vast majority of our Yu-Gi-Oh! collection to our favorite FLGS, reserving only our favorite two or three decks each. But on Saturday we realized that we haven’t even used those few decks since then, so Wednesday afternoon we used the FLGS’ nice big tables to sift through the remainder to find any cards that had art we particularly liked or might be useful as tokens for Magic. We sorted the rest by rarity, ready to sell tomorrow, and were pleasantly surprised by how much some of them are worth.

While at the FLGS I even got to do some playtesting with the store’s resident master of board games, who gave me a great idea for the game. Before I got inspired to make the game I had been working on adapting Final Fantasy Tactics‘ Samurai job to GURPS. I had hoped to have it ready for Thursday is GURPS Day yesterday, but mysteriously hurt my hand either Tuesday night or while we were running errands on Wednesday.

So a pretty great week overall despite the injury.