What exactly is… tabletop roleplay gaming?

Abstract: Roleplay gaming has multiple natures. Youngsters know them as multiplayer games, like World of Warcraft. Very nerdy guys and gals know that there are LARP-groups (Live Action RolePlaying), where you have to slip into your medieval clothing and embody some character by yourself. I guess, there are even some grown-up interpretations. 😉 Today, I want to give you some very basic introduction to tabletop roleplaying, one of my favourite hobbies. What is it? What do you need? How do you get a group? And why am I spending so much money and time into it?

Continue reading What exactly is… tabletop roleplay gaming?

[GER] Review: Das Broadway-Musical Sister Act in München

Abstract: Recently I’ve been in the very last performance of the Broadway musical “Sister Act” at the Deutsches Theater in Munich, Germany. My personal rating: 4/10 points. Here I will give some insights why I am not totally thrilled about this particular show.

Continue reading [GER] Review: Das Broadway-Musical Sister Act in München

Uuuuuh! It is a Woman! HIDE! #DoctorWho

It has finally happened. Today in the afternoon, the BBC has announced who will play the next regeneration of the Doctor after brilliant Peter Capaldi. It will be Jodie Whittaker, known from the series Broadchurch. The first female Doctor in all time. Here is the official revelation:

Now, let me say – this is really badass. There is nothing not to love about it. The scenery, with all the nature, the withered wheels. How Jodie Whittaker walks along with those silent, thoughtful steps. The way she receives the key. The hood, finally taken away, revealing the true nature of the next Doctor. And, the TARDIS, showing up and welcoming her in her old and new role.

Actually, I don’t know anything about Jodie Whittaker. I haven’t seen Broadchurch (yet), but I am pretty sure she is a brilliant actor if chosen for this particular lead role. Just remember the last Doctors: Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith, Peter Capaldi. They all were just brilliant, each and every single one of them in his own way. I am not super thrilled about the 13th Doctor being a woman. But for a good reason: thanks to Kathryn Janeway, I am absolutely familiar with a leading female role in science fiction productions. And hell yeah, Captain Kathie was the best captain Star Trek ever had. Sorry, Patrick Stewart, but you got no chance here! Janeway will always be ahead of Picard.

Unfortunately, many male viewers do not share my loose point of view. They are annoyed, angry, disappointed. Quite a lot of them announced that the Christmas Special would actually be their last Doctor Who episode ever to watch. The Doctor has always been a male role – and thus has to stay a male role. Forever. No changes possible. It seems to be unbelievable that the time travelling alien from Gallifrey could turn into a woman. It was hard enough to understand with the Master, who turned into Missy. But the Doctor? Are you serious?

Okay, I have to agree – I myself have some problems here. It seems that Time Lords/Time Ladies can change their sex. And at the beginning of Peter Capaldi’s existance as the Doctor we learned that the regeneration actually becomes what is needed most. When he wanted to impress a young woman, he turned into a young man. When he wanted to be wise, he turned in the elderly version. Now, he turns into a woman.

This actually leads to a lot of confusing – and super interesting – questions. How much control do they have? What role does gender play in the Gallifreyan society? What about the children – are they raised in families, like we have them? Is it strange for the children if one of their parents changes their sex? Probably not, as they are used to it – but it IS confusing for us humans. Or are children raised by the Spartan approach, where the whole society was meant to take care of the children? Ah, so many questions, almost all of them the questions of children (humans) towards adults (Gallifreyans), as we realise things which are ahead of our mental horizons.

Nonetheless, I still wonder why so many men are not just disappointed about the choice, but really angry and offensive. First, Doctor Who is a fictional story. From time to time, the stories of our favourite shows turn into “wrong directions”. Either you stick to it and follow it, as you are a true fan. Or you stop watching and look for something else. Life is actually that easy. Nobody ever forces you to watch a show you cannot identify with. I’ve never seen a single episode of Breaking Bad, and most certainly I won’t. I still live! Second, Jodie Whittaker is a WOMAN! Not a monster. Women make around 50% of our societies. Your mothers are women! So, for God’s sake, show some respect! Let’s face it – most of you conservative guys can identify with Jodie Whittaker as a woman just as much as with David Tennant as a handsome lad. Third, this is the year 2017 speaking. Plus, we are in Europe. The dominance of the white alpha male has been broken. That’s hard to grasp, yes – but better go ahead and adjust, as anything else won’t work anymore. I especially loved the messages full of hatred of a guy on Twitter who called himself a member of the Liberal Democrats in his bio. I am no expert, but I am pretty sure the LibDems are not for going back to Stone Age.

Of course, attacking those with a conservative approach for their lives is not the right way. We need to ask ourselves: why do some people still have problems to accept that women, LGBTs, Muslims, all minorities have the same right to show up in shows and games and books? Why do those men feel so offended?

I myself think that one major aspect is “change”. There are a lot of changes these days, as I’ve already mentioned above. And not everybody is able to adapt to these changes in the same speed. Some may still struggle to find their role in this world, where it is not enough anymore to just bring home the money. They struggle – but the rest of the world is moving on. They are overwhelmed by what is going on next to them. They come home one day, and when they leave their house the next day, everything is different.

This shall not be any excuse. But we need to realise those problems to be able to react to that. I somehow have the feeling that shouting at them, pointing at them, accusing them of being conservative dinosaurs will not do any good. I mean, if I publish my opinion (like I do here) and suddenly dozens of people I do not even know shout at me and call me a monster, would I reconsider and change my mind? Hell no! I would feel confirmed. The world has changed in an evil way, and my point of view is the correct one.

So, to lead those people into our century, we need to build bridges. We need to take their hands. And we need to change the ways we are talking to them. Maybe we should stop stressing all the negative aspects of the past time, but stress all the good moments of the future. Remind them, that fictional characters do not know the physical limitations we humans have. Show them the positive aspects of spreading minorities for the youngsters – little boys and girls who grow up seeing a strong female in their favourite show, who will be shaping their perception of the world. Besides, all the story changers! Let’s be honest – Doctor Who has become a little bit boring over the last couple series. Him becoming a Time Lady might be a more than necessary game changer! A woman can finally bring the new power!

No, seriously. We live in a free and open world, and no show does a better job than Doctor Who in reflecting our world into a ficitional one. Oh gosh, I remember this one episode with that sun-collector, where one of the guys turns into a living torch, trying to burn all the others. There is this moment when Martha and that other guy sit in a small capsule, sent into the space. There is this sad moment, when she asks him: “Is there nobody waiting for you at home? No girlfriend?” followed by a quick “Boyfriend?”. That’s Doctor Who. Where minorities are just normal. Where Bill Potts is a lesbian and nobody cares – but everybody knows what a fantastic character she is.

Last paragraph. Promised. It is super important that TV shows, video games, books depict the colourful plurality we have in life. Equality and respect for everybody is not just a wonderful phrase you can shout when being drunk. It has to be shown, depicted, such that people can get used to it. First and foremost, think of those who will be affected the most. Young girls who see powerful women in the world (the Queen, the Prime Minister, the Doctor), who realise they can become anything they want to be – without a man. Young boys, who realise that it does not matter whom you love, but how you treat them. Making the Doctor a Time Lady is a step long overdue. But I am pretty sure – all those men how howl tonight, they will be the first ones sitting in front of their TVs on Christmas Eve. And they will be the first ones to hype the new series with a female Doctor. They will love it. And afterwards, nobody will ever understand why anybody could ever have argued about the gender of the Doctor – because not the authors, not the viewer, only the Gallifreyans choose their sex.

 

Manchester

The second day in a row I am sitting here with tears in my eyes. I feel the urgent need to write something, to express my feelings, to share anything – and still, I cannot. I mean, what could somebody possibly say to those parents, siblings, friends, partners of those who were torn out of our community? 22 young people. How could my grief, my tears help anybody who lost their most important people? I’ve already said it on Twitter, and I need to repeat it here – there are no appropriate words, and no thought seems enough at all.

Life must go on. And some people seemingly have no problems to immediately get on with their lives. 22 young people lost their lives, killed by a coward and inhuman creature. But those people just move on. Don’t get me wrong, please. I don’t expect them to wear black for months. Nonetheless, it feels somehow wrong if people write about their daily thoughts not even 24 hours after the bombing. It feels wrong if my news about Manchester are disturbed by messages about the TV programme, by pictures of dinners, by cats, dogs, hamsters or any other happy mood. It feels wrong if people laugh about bombing jokes.

Actually, I am very torn here. There are some good reasons just to move on, to not let such brutal happenings influence your life. First, it won’t change anything. Me sitting here, crying, won’t bring back anybody. It will not help those who lost people. It will not help me, either. Second, we need to stay strong. The best weapon against terrorism is to hold up our free and liberal lives. We must not give in and change our lives to avoid such attacks. The destruction of liberal societies is their main goal, and they will not succeed. Third, we cannot spend endless times in grief, when such events become more and more regular. We are getting used to it. Which is a cruel, a horrible truth.

But is it really good not to show any grief at all? Subsequent to the horrible deed, Manchester hold a vigil. Powerful, emotional pictures were spread all over the world, showing a city which has been attacked – and stays strong. United. Yes, they – and we all – cry for the dead, but at the same time we affirm our social collective. Participating in the global shock and the grief means to participate in our unwritten community of human values. At some point, political disagreements have no value anymore, human values are much stronger.

Still, I am torn. How to react? What to say? What to do?

Still, my words are not sufficient…

[GER] Self-Checkout: Die Mär vom dummen Kunden

Abstract: In London they are everywhere – supermarkets with self-checkout machines where you can pay your goods directly. In Germany, however, those automatons are still rare – either due to a lack of technical competence, or due to people arguing that customers shouldn’t take over responsibilities and service from the markets. I love those self-checkouts. I don’t want to take over the service myself. I want service at all!

Continue reading [GER] Self-Checkout: Die Mär vom dummen Kunden

2017 Resolutions [4]

 

Hey everybody!

It’s May 1st! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday, at least if it is one in your country. In Europe, many countries celebrate this particular date: International Workers’ Day! However, this is not the place to discuss history lessons. Unfortunately, another month of 2017 is gone, and here is my record of what I managed to fulfill. In advance: Please don’t judge me, okay? Please?

  • Read more scientific papers:
    Current Status: [10/200 read, 94 papers collected, 4 general topics]
    Yeah. Well. There has been absolutely NO development on here. Why that? Because I had some serious trouble with some university stuff. In short words: I had to held a presentation about some probabilistic concepts. And even though the content itself was not super difficult, I really have to understand things to the very detail to be able to explain them to my fellow students. Plus, I had to write a nine pages summary about it. Which means, rephrasing all that stuff, finding a better way of explanation, creating visualisations, all that stuff. The result is okayish, but I seriously had no time to read any other scientific stuff. I could add, though, that I eventually managed to read the pre-alpha version of a friend’s book! Quite an honour to be able to read the stuff in advance – and I can tell you, the German readers can look forward to it! I really liked the story! So only still only 10 papers on here, but at least that’s already 5%!
  • Reinstall video game streams:
    Current Status: [Running]
    My first stream was successful – and followed by a long pause, induced by the above mentioned stressful period of university preparation. However, I managed to come back this weekend, streaming twice. I decided to leave “The Elder Scrolls Online” behind for the moment and play something else, which might be easier to digest: “Dark Souls 2”. Gosh, that game is awesome, even though I absolutely suck at it. Sorry. Just telling the truth! In case you want to rewatch the episodes:
  • Create a useful smart phone application:
    Current Status: [got an idea!]
    I still have not been able to start some serious programming. However, I have my first idea! I want to write a useful little tool for my smartphone to be able to do my accounting on the fly. Not like online banking or such stuff. But registering all my expenses, to keep track of them. They shall be stored in a database, and I want to be able to get beautiful visualisations such that I can realise when I spend too much money on video games. For example. 😉 What do you think of it? Might come in handy, right? 😉
  • Learn about financial stuff:
    Current Status: [nothing learned] Ah, come on. Right now, I feel like no knowledge wants to keep in my head anyway. It is this time when you read about things and seem to understand nothing at all. At the end though, once you have fought your way through all the stuff, the beginning starts to make sense. I seriously wonder sometimes – is it about me? Or are many lectures and books and articles just not written the right way?
  • Increase knowledge in biological and chemical subjects:
    Current Status: [nature is so amazing!]
    I’ve spent some time learning about the fabulous world of animals. I mean, on the fly, more or less. There are wonderful YouTube channels out there, which share recordings of animals I’ve never seen before! Or experiments with animals which expose their incredible abilities! And by experiments, I mean social ones, not those where you need to kill or harm the poor guys. I somehow fear that it is absolutely impossible to grasp the full diversity of natural evolution.
  • Start writing a book
    Current Status: [0 pages written]
    I had to realise that almost all the people around me started to write books. And they do well. So I actually doubt I could contribute anything new or better to the whole thing. Additionally, I experienced that I kind of lost my ability for colorful writing. Quite usual when I’m in the middle of my studies. Scientific writing and prosaic writing are not exactly the same discipline. Maybe I should start with some short stories. I’ll have to think of something. Unfortunately, my best short story ever was written on this blog – and I lost it due to some technical problems. Rewriting, though, will never happen. *sigh* Some things are not meant for eternity.
  • Doing more multimedia stuff:
    Current Status: [mainly streaming, but I need more!]
    Streaming has been my main “multimedia” work these days, but that’s by far not enough. I need more! I thought about more recordings. I’d love to read some things – my reading is quite okay, I guess, and I love that I usually can read long sequences without making mistakes. Makes the production really easy! Oh, and I want to come back to my 3D visualisation thing. I just need to figure out some project, first. So many ideas, so little time. Have I mentioned that I need to play around with my Raspberry Pi as well? I haven’t touched it so far, so maybe I should make it a series on my blog. “Learning Raspberry”. Documenting my steps. I mean, why not?
  • Write at least weekly articles on my blog:
    Current Status: [17/17 weeks with articles]
    I am still up and running – even though sometimes I forget about this blog. All weeks fulfilled! However, I think about a major redesign of the blog section, and therefore, about removing all the old content. What do you think about it? Would you miss anything of it? If so, please let me know. Otherwise, it’ll be gone. 😉 The new blog will have a complete new structure – several categories, and I’ll write just about them, sort my posts into them. I need to become more flexible, even though achieving flexibility with more rules sounds ridiculous. I cannot help it. 😉
  • Blog redesign:
    Current Status: [started]
    I have started my new blog design, yes – however, so far, it is only a white page with some content. Fortunately, I haven’t done much more so far. Because I thought about documenting my progress on my blog as well. All that information might come in handy for somebody. And maybe you have some inspiring ideas for me as well, ideas I could try to implement. I’d love it!
  • Master a language:
    Current Status: [Duolingo: 35%; Book: Chapter 26]
    No progress in the book – I usually spend my bed time before sleeping with my Brazilian lectures in Duolingo. There, however, I lost some points – went down from 37% to 35%, even though I use it every single day. Either they have added some new lectures. Or their internal “knowledge drain” is way too high. I spend 70% of the time repeating all lectures to keep them golden.

All in all, I think April was not completely wasted. However, there is much more which could be done. I need to concentrate on my goals. And I need to shut down some bad habits. Again. In Germany, there is a good saying for that: “Alles neu macht der Mai”. Actually, it’s utter nonsense, May has never brought anything new. May is not even able to negotiate the brexit properly. But let me use May 1st to renew my resolutions – and attack them properly! This month will be progress! May means May!

2017 Resolutions [3]

Oh. My. Gosh. We already have April 1! Could you imagine? Time is running by, and I sincerely hope you all have used your first quarter of the year tremendously well. Anyway, once again it’s time for me to catch up with my 2017 resolutions – and what shall I say? There has been the first major change this year!

Yes, I have decided that my original resolution “make a difference” is simply too vague for me to fulfill it. How to find a clear criterion for me to “have made the difference”? Besides, the expression feels rather arrogant these days. Fortunately, I have another resolution to replace it with, as I’ve started to learn Portuguese these days! And learning a whole new language is quite a task as well, isn’t it? I hope you all are fine with my replacement. 😉

So, what have I done this month?

  • Read more scientific papers:
    Current Status: [9/200 read, 94 papers collected, 4 general topics]
    On my last trip to Munich, I had some time to read several interesting articles, mainly about honey bees and ants. However, on my way back I simply lacked the energy to read anything at all. So I got only six more papers done. *sigh* Reading scientific papers is very exhaustive, especially when you are no expert in their respective topic. At least I do know now how ants can keep orientation even while running backwards. Quite a(nt)mazing!
  • Reinstall video game streams:
    Current Status: [First Stream: Check!]
    Now this was a quick one! Due to a friend of mine, I’ve spent an evening to try how to stream on YouTube – and ended up with my first test stream! That escalated quickly! Yesterday, I had my first proper stream since 2015. Now on YouTube, as they store my video afterwards automatically so that I can publish it for eternity. 😉
  • Create a useful smart phone application:
    Current Status: [not yet started]
    I’ve done some first steps towards understanding the mechanisms and the framework of Android. But as with any other system, those frameworks are just as complicated and as difficult as the people who designed it. Learning a new system is never easy – but the outcome is worth the effort!
  • Learn about financial stuff:
    Current Status: [nothing learned] Obviously not just me, but also some enormous business men have to catch up with economic knowledge recently. It seems that understanding both companies and national economy is not that easy. I’ve read some very interesting newspaper articles on the topic, but I lack the theoretical foundation. I won’t abuse my favourite excuse “lack of time”, but this particular resolution doesn’t have priority now.
  • Increase knowledge in biological and chemical subjects:
    Current Status: [started]
    This time very tightly connected to my scientific paper resolution – as all the papers have been biological ones. Though I have the feeling I should repeat some of the school basics again as well. Cannot harm!
  • Start writing a book
    Current Status: [0 pages written]
    I even lack the time reading books now, not even thinking of writing books. Fortunately, I gave up some other very time-consuming hobby, so there is hope for the future! \o/
  • Doing more multimedia stuff:
    Current Status: [3 major opera done so far]
    Well, I’ve done my stream haven’t I? Oh, and I’ve recorded two songs with me singing in English and Portuguese. Actually not the best records, as I cannot sing loud here in my flat and thus have to use my head voice. I don’t care, though. It was super fun. 🙂
  • Write at least weekly articles on my blog:
    Current Status: [13/13 weeks with articles]
    All weeks done so far! Though I have the feeling I should increase the frequency a bit. More short topics!
  • Blog redesign:
    Current Status: [New Design? What new design?]
    Last week I published our project website – another WordPress “blog” with a lot of scientific content. Especially in the end I really started to like the page – maybe I want something similar for myself. Right now, I am thinking about separating my blog into a German and an English subsite – and subdividing into several interesting topics. My main topics. To make sure I concentrate on some contents. What do you say?
  • Master a language:
    Current Status: [Duolingo: 37%; Book: Chapter 26]
    I’ve started to learn Brazilian Portuguese – quite an interesting language, as it seems very popular, though I’ve never really had any connections to it so far. I confess I had some problems with the pronunciation and the sound first – I assumed it would sound like Spanish, but it is completely different (at least to my ears). The grammar is doable, but some of the words are really hard to remember. Latin is helping, but not solving every problem. One of my longterm-favourite words so far: a abacaxi. The pineapple. 😉
    I’m both doing the course on Duolingo and I’ve bought myself a very good book about Brazilian Portuguese. The book has 100 chapters and is separated into a passive and an active half. In the first half, you simply learn to understand texts, without the necessity to form them on your own. In the second half, you have to be able to express yourself. I really like the concept – and it might well be that I add Arabic as well to my resolution list. Yes – it might well be that I even EXTEND the list! 😉

As you can see, this month was not super successful – but I’m happy with it, as I know all the other responsibilities I had to fulfill. Next month, though, will be even better. It is time for even more energy, put into those things which will form my glorious future. And the future is brighter than anytime these days! Radiant! 😉