Sunday, August 31, 2008

Geek's Dream Girl

Here's a site for you lonely gamer guys to check out. "e" gives online and irl dating advice for us socially challenged guys. I like her tagline: "helping guys like you get girls like me."


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Saturday, August 30, 2008


Since GenCon I've been chewing over the differences between 4e, 3.5, Pathfinder, and Star Wars Saga. Unfortunately, my conclusion is that if I want an ideal system it will require a lot of work.

I'll start of by saying I'm not a 4e basher... there are plenty of people that have vehement hatred for 4e. While I think that the most vitriolic detractors base their despite of the system in the fact that it is different while others have munchkin rage because the system is so hard to min-max, there are valid issues with the new version.

Meanwhile, Pathfinder is an interesting take on 3.5, but it still fails to address some core issues.

So what to do? Take the best of all of them and kluge together an Ozzenstein hybrid.

Some basics I've laid out in my head:

1) The core 4e combat system is very sound. So I need to not break the math. I like the change of saves to defenses (Fortitude/Reflex/Will). The combat rules themselves don't need much tampering.

2) I don't like the homogeneous new class system. All classes seem the same with just different flavors on the powers. While I like the at-will/encounter/daily system for special abilities, it is overdone.

3) This means a new spell system. I'll be keeping the ritual system, though I'll tweak it to differentiate Mage (arcane), Priest (divine) and Druid (nature) rituals. As for the spell system itself, I'm looking at how Star Wars Saga handled Force powers. I'll probably also be slowing down spells a little because I don't like the videogame effect now.

4) This means talent trees for no-casters. These will have fewer limited use abilities, again looking at SWS for inspiration.

5) Put in valid multi-classing (without breaking the math). Once I get all of the above done, this will actually be easier.

6) Tweak skill system. I've already introduced secondary skills to my 4e campaign to cover things like Craft. I'm also rattling around a background system using the Commoner, Expert, and Aristocrat NPC classes as a basis.

7) I need to *not* make significant changes to monsters. I need to be able to open to a page in the MM and go.

This may give me some real content to put on, assuming I can stay out of LOTRO enough to work on it. And assuming I don't get in the Mines of Moria Beta.

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Do you want to live in the Shire?

My friend Lisa found a site for a group building a "village" designed lo look like old English thatched cottages, though I think it looks more inspired by Middle-Earth. That's not a bad thing though, because I spend too much of my free time in a virtual Middle-Earth. So if I hit the lottery I'd be tempted to live in The Shire.

Of course, if I hit the powerball I'd be tempted to build my own village where my friends could move in also.


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Even though the challenged ended, I seem to still be dropping pounds. Last week I had an ex-co-worker that hadn't seen me in a year or two gush over how much weight I've lost, and this week I had to reject wearing one of my shirts because it looked like I was wearing a Hawaiian tent.


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Friday, August 29, 2008

Buffy - The Animated Series

"... and I'll be wearing my standing-in-the-corner-not-talking-to-anyone t-shirt."

Is it just me or does Giles sound like Stewie from Family Guy?

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Transporter 3 trailer

I'm posting this because I'm a fan of the original Transporter movie. Unfortunately the sequel suffered from blockbuster-wanna-be-itis, like the sequels to many movies.

But I'm willing to give Transporter 3 a chance... it reminds me more of the original from the trailer. And trailers wouldn't lie, would they?


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Sunday, August 24, 2008

GenCon 08 - Day 4

Sundays are always the day that folks are dragging at GenCon. Three days of sensory overload, gaming adrenaline and sleep deprivation take their toll. So when I awoke at 8 a.m. I was glad that I had exercised some self control the night before. I hurriedly got ready and headed to the ICC and joined the line mob at the XH door closest to the WotC booth.

Just before 10 we received our instructions. No running, no cutting through the artist area, and anyone that passed the "monitor" that would be leading us back to queue up at the WotC booth would be kicked out. Looking at the people in front of me, I figured even if all they had was a case of books I'd probably be okay. The doors open and we started our march.

The first three WotC employees couldn't tell me if they had any of the KOTOR books, let alone how many. Finally, after the line was organized I found a WotC staffer that knew what was going on. He told me that I was in the wrong line, but it didn't matter because they didn't have any books left.

Oz still 0.

With that, I wandered the XH checking out the closing day bargains as some of the exhibitors tried to unload merchandise so they wouldn't have to lug it home. Unfortunately, these mostly consisted of d20 3.5 books by third party vendors or defunct game systems. It's not a bargain if you'll never get around to cracking the book open.

Nicole and I attended a mini painting seminar given by a very talented young lady, Amy Brehm. I wish that I had put something next to the mini I snapped a picture of in order to show scale. The level of detail she gets is just amazing, it makes me feel like I clutch my brush in a deformed paw. Her technique was very different from what we learned in our last seminar and I look forward to giving it a try.

We returned to the XH to meet up with the Gorilla Games crew. One of them had picked up a game called Dicewords for Nicole, so she wanted to give it a try with him before the Con ended. It's actually a fun little game, especially once we figured out the scoring.

We said good-bye to the Gorilla gang, and headed out. One of the things we saw were some people in professional Marvel Super Hero costumes (a later learned they were there for the Hero Clix game and had been there the whole Con). Needless to say, Ms. Marvel was very popular. In my web-trolling for more pics, she is probably the most common subject.

Once I got back to my car and answered a couple of messages I had gotten while my phone was turned off, I started to get the post-con funk. Looking at the clock and seeing there was only a little bit left until the XH was closed I put my badge back on. The opening of the XH marks the start for me, and the closing marks the end. Finally the closing announcement came, accompanied by the cheers of worn out exhibitors. I left the hall, saying good-bye to GenCon 08.

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

GenCon 08 - Day 3

Saturday is always the big day of the Con. It's when there's the most people, it's the day of the costume contest, and it's usually when the big parties happen. So that's also the day it's hardest to find parking.

Then add in the Lucas Oil Stadium tours for an extra several thousand people in downtown. Needless to say, by the time I got through traffic, got parked on the roof of my usual garage, and got to the XH then line-mob had been there and any KOTOR books were gone.

Line trolls 3, Oz 0.

Saturday is the day I dress up in my ren faire garb. I have to admit that I was pretty pleased with how loose my doublet has gotten. It's always fun when the mundanes see me, and this year there was a lot of them at the garage. I, and other attendees in costume, got a lot of strange looks.

MIke was there in his ren garb also... the standard uniform of hat and doublet. Wandering the XH, we got stopped a few times for pictures. I didn't have the presence of mind to ask someone to use my camera, and my typical post-GenCon foraging hasn't turned up any pictures of my friends and/or I other than the Turbine party. Looking around, there must have been at least 50 guys dressed similar. We should have had a picture event - dudes in doublets. Then they could put the pics on Wait... that sounds kinda gay.

At noon there was a moment of silence for Gary Gygax. While most people were respectful, there were still a few tools out there that couldn't shut up for 60 seconds. It's not like the guy helped found the hobby, create the industry or start the convention... oh wait, he did.

Another of my Saturday traditions is to go to the costume contest. This has turned into an exercise in line-waiting, as for some reason GenCon can't seem to find a larger venue (though the first year it was in Indy it seems like it was in a larger room that worked). I happened to luck out when it came to seating, as I ended up in the front of a section on an aisle near the center.

They've eliminated the talent category, which usually consisted of some step-dancing girls, some girl dressed as an anime character warbling a song that was way too long, and someone trying to be a comedian. Instead, these got absorbed into the other categories. I wish they would limit presentations to 60 seconds for a single person, 120 seconds for a group. While a couple were amusing or even talented, most long presentations drag on and become painful. The winner, Borak(?) the Barbarian had it right. His skit was about a minute and was funny.

Unfortunately, the Winged Elf wasn't there this year. :(

After the contest I met up with Nicole, who was dressed up for the SteamPunk Party and the White Wolf Party. I was still in my ren garb, and we got a lot of pictures taken of us. We grabbed dinner at the Ram, managing to score seats at the bar. Needless to say, the mix of GenCon people and Colts fans made for an interesting combination. There was more picture taking, and we witnessed an interesting conversation between a burly bald guy in a Colts jersey and a smaller gamer dressed as a Scotsman a la Braveheart.

When they initially announced that the theme of the Saturday party was Steampunk, I was a little dubious. Were there really that many people out there that were fans of Steampunk, let alone fan enough to dress up? The answer turned out to be yes.

There were a lot of people there dressed up. All it takes is a little accessorizing and an outfit appropriate for a Western/Firefly larp or the typical corseted gamer-girl becomes Steampunk. Unfortunately, others that had expressed an interest in this party never showed, and the beer line was horribly long. Then Nicole made the brilliant suggestion that the line at the Speakeasy under Union Station (the dance was in the Union Station ballroom) probably wasn't as long.

Not only was there a short line in the Speakeasy, there were televisons tuned to the Olympics. And while gamers are stereotyped as not big sports fans, the bar came to halt when it came time for Michael Phelps to try for his eighth gold medal. And by halt I mean everyone screaming and cheering at the tvs.

The next stop was the White Wolf Party, at the Ice Lounge where we joined a couple of friends already there. For a place called Ice, it was hotter than hell, and I don't mean that in a good sense. Mixing this with free drinks could be a recipe for disaster, fortunately we were better disciplined than that, despite some urging. A woman that was hanging around our friends wasn't so restrained, and they ended up getting puked on before they got here and another drunken acquaintance in a cab and sent back to their hotel. I hope the cabbie got a good tip.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

GenCon 08 - Day 2

Friday I woke up early enough to get downtown to the ICC before the XH opened. That is, if there hadn't have been a shitload of traffic going into downtown and accident induced back-ups. I rolled into downtown proper about a quarter after 10, waded through traffic and used my favorite trick to score a decent space.

By the time I reached the XH and the WotC booth, the huge line had formed. The KOTOR scoreboard went to line-lurkers 2, Oz 0.

Killing time in the XH, I ran into some of guys I know and our meandering took us to the Geek Chic booth, featuring the monstrous Sultan Gaming table. While the initial impact is drool-worthy, design flaws cropped up after the initial awe wore off. The first thing I noticed: no holes to run power cords and networking cables. It was suggested that since it was wood, I could just bore my own holes. Somehow the notion of having to take a drill to an almost $10k table seemed wrong.

The longer we looked at it, the more issues arose. It was too large, the size of a billiards table, once it was in your house it was there for good. It was too high, requiring players to stand around the table or perch on tall stools. For many gamers, this physically isn't practical. Rolling areas were too deep and far back. While the underlit map surface was neat, it would be a pain to change, requiring suction-cup grabbers. So if the price tag didn't put you off, there are several other flaws that might.

Nicole brought Ainsley to GenCon (Ainsley was born during last year's con... well not at it, but in the same time frame), so Nicole is making GenCon a birthday tradition for her daughter.

Greg/TheStormKing and I had been haunting Turbine's booth and pestering the LOTRO devs, trying to pry info regarding the upcoming Mines of Moria. Unfortunately the Marketing Ninja required them to keep their secrets. :(

After a couple of more random encounters with people I only see at GenCon, a sat in on a Paizo seminar regarding their Pathfinder RPG. They seem keen on getting fan feedback, and the room was full of anti-4e gamers. One problem I see is that some of the most vocal advocates of any iteration of 3.5 may not be so for reasons of game balance. Some of your most a-type alpha-wanna-be gamers like having a system they can torque for their own min-maxing ends, and experience on MMO forums have shown me that the loudest advocates or detractors of any given side are rarely the most rational.

Since I was by myself for dinner, I snuck into an empty spot at the bar in the Ram, a big advocate of GenCon. I got to watch the antics of the rather stressed staff while geek-friendly movies played on the big screen. I felt sorry the girl stuck pouring beers, as the tickets kept flying out of the printer, the waitresses were slow to pick up the drink orders, and everyone seemed to be giving her a hard time. My sympathy had nothing to do with the fact that she was cute. That also had nothing to do with why I lingered for almost an hour.

In my defense, I was killing time until the Turbine party at Jillian's. I got there early to snag a table and hold it against all comers until Greg, Weasel and Nicole arrived. Turbine was nice enough to provide two drinks each (mmm... black and tans) and a buffet. Since we tipped our waitress (and I think she was hitting on Weasel), she kept us in soft drinks for free after the free booze ran out.

We got to meet other players, discovering some that lived local that we didn't know, and Greg did a lot of schmoozing. I was hoping there would be some sort of presentation regarding Moria, maybe with Beta invites, but they just looped the same promo video that was at their booth.

After the party, Nicole and I went in search of the Gorilla Games crew, who were supposed to be playing Deadlands. As luck would have it, two players had just bailed from their game, so we were invited to take their places. My gunslinger disproved the myth that I was cursed as a dice-roller or that I jinxed dice I came into contact. The system itself is interesting and the basics are fairly easy to grasp. The biggest flaw that we saw was that it would require a lot of different dice, as opposed to just a set of polyhedrals and/or a brick of d6s. As an example, my gunslinger required 5 d12s.

Despite my rolling redemption Nicole won't let me touch her dice.

The night ended very late, with a creepy dungeon-crawl into one of the parking garages. Seriously, I half expected a pack of kobolds led by a hobo to jump around the corner as we descended a passage right out of a horror movie and a startled the crap out of some yuppie couple on the way back up.

Wait, do I look like a kobold-leading hobo?

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Layoffs at Wizards of the Coast?

This kind of press release never bodes well. Heck, their output already seems a little slow, and now they are eliminating positions?

Then again, at GenCon I overheard a couple of gaming business guys talking about how the industry isn't growing. And in the current economy with a core customer base not known for excessive disposable income in the best of times I could see there being fallout.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

GenCon 08 - Day 1

There is something about GenCon that borders on a religious pilgrimage. Anyone that doubts that should see the throngs amassed waiting for the Exhibitor Hall (XH) to open.

There's something about swag and limited edition Magic cards that will turn normally mild-mannered gamers into a greedy mob. I decided to wait out the initial rush, figuring that what I wanted (Star Wars Saga Knights of the Old Republic Campaign Guide) wouldn't be in such high demanded that it would be sold out before I sauntered back to the Wizards of the Coast (WotC) booth.

Wrong! The greedy horde waiting for the limited edition Magic cards had formed a huge line, and in addition to the coveted Magic cards they bought up all of the meager supply of the KOTOR guide. After being flagged down by some co-workers and informed of a free Drizz't book offer, I hopped in that line, because it was free and being autographed by the author of the Drizz't series, R.A. Salvatore.

As I then made my first pass through the XH I was complimented many times on my Captain Hammer t-shirt. There was no merch from Dr. Horrible at the con, so my shirt was a rarity. Moving through the XH, I soaked in the sights and sounds that made the XH the core of GenCon. This was the place where you saw fellow gamers that you only encountered once a year at GenCon but you recognized them as well as old acquaintances you had lost touch with only to bump into again while browsing dice.

One of the things that I noticed was the dearth of booth babes this year. Don't get me wrong, some booths were manned by very attractive women, but it seemed that the use of live promotion was down. I suspect that it is a side-effect of the economy. With expenses up, can an exhibitor really afford to pay a model to stand around scantily clad and draw large numbers of gamers that may not even glance at your product? The think part of the disappointment stems from the fact that, as Nicole put it, it's part of the experience.

I consoled myself with a picture of a cute belly-dancer. She is one of the dancers from Different Drummers, who have performed at the con the last few years.

I picked up a copy of The Guild autographed by Felicia Day. I also bought a copy of Paizo's Pathfinder Beta. I am curious to see how it works out as they lead an open rebellion against D&D 4e. By the end of the show they were sold out (and they were much better stocked than WotC).

When Nicole arrived we shopped through the hall. She returned to her GenCon corset tradition. It was just as well my not-so-smart camera botched the first pic, as the salesman caught Nicole by surprise when he cinched up the corset she was trying on. Though you can't tell from the picture, the corset booth was next to the Utilikilt booth. I have to wonder if that led to some dealing among couples...

"Sure, I'll try on a corset honey... if you try on a kilt."

We swung by White Wolf to score tickets for the annual White Wolf party. The guy at the booth only had one, but we came to the conclusion that if I had the ticket, they wouldn't turn Nicole away at the door. Especially if she was wearing the corset. ;)

We broke open the catalog and Greg and Mike joined us. After searching for likely events only to then find they were sold out, we finally got tickets into the Tower of Gygax.

It was a 1 hour session of old school AD&D with 2 parties worth of players and lots of character death. My unwise thief died because his unwise player didn't notice that other players had moved my mini near a sarcophagus they opened and we died from the poison gas trap.

Dinner was at Champions. It was disappointing this year and we didn't go back despite the convenience of its proximity. After hanging out at the True Tavern for a while, Nicole got us invited to a party at the Ram. The party seemed to be several of the small game company exhibitors, so not only did we get to hear about games from the creators, we also had a very interesting discussion on what one (one being me) looks for in an RPG (topic for a separate post). Another game of Lifeboat broke out, this time with funny hats!

I finally got home around 2:30 ish, much to Ryoga's annoyance. But I figured I could get a few hours sleep and still get there in time to get in the XH early to snag a KOTOR guide.

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GenCon 08 - Day 0

For me GenCon starts on Wednesday with the Forum Stink. We started set-up at noon, happy to discover that we were given even more space than last year. While waiting for the other Mavens to arrive, I snapped a photo that summed up GenCon.

It was a group hunkered down over an impromptu game of Magic. That's what GenCon is about, bringing people together to share the hobby and culture of gaming.

A swag run over to GenCon's HQ took me to the registration area, which was full of gamers picking up their badges and swag bags and registering for events. Just seeing and hearing all of those people in the convention center started to bring up that GenCon feeling.

The Stink went smoothly, with over 300 people in attendance. I manned the raffle prize table, which meant that I got to talk to almost everyone. Seeing as I am usually somewhat reserved it was a good way for me to have to meet people.

After the Stink, it was on to Nicole-Con.

Nicole was hosting the crew from Gorilla Games again, which meant that she had a house full of gamers. In addition to playing my favorite game from Gorilla, Lifeboat, we also got to play-test a prototype game that I am looking forward to seeing come out (I won't go into details since it was a test).

After the games, we convened in the home theater for a viewing of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.

Pictures will be sparse throughout my GC08 reports as my smart camera isn't as smart as it thinks. I learned that in a complex area it would learn from the first shot and do better the second. Unfortunately I learned this after reviewing my pics in full size after the con.

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Republicans hate D&Ders?

Check out this potshot someone on McCain's staff took at D&D players. It's one thing when we make fun of ourselves, but when someone else does it, implying we're a bunch of lazy unpatriotic liberals, it's time to roll initiative!

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Geek Carnival

This comic reminds me of GenCon.

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Felicia Day interview

Yes, I should be posting about GenCon (and I have been sorting through and uploading pics... though it turns out my smart camera isn't as smart as it thinks), but Carlton sent me an interview with Felicia Day from Dr. Horrible.

Also see the Penny Arcade comic that someone else posted in the comments below the article.


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GenCon is over


It's always sad when GenCon ends. The cessation of a near-religious experience combined with accumulated exhaustion brings on the Post-Gen-Con-Blues.

I'll be going through my pictures and notes so that I can put together a day-by-day review.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

WotC to revise 4e GSL

After a chorus of "eff you" from 3rd party publishers and a shite-fest on the forums, it looks like Wizards is going to back pedal tweak its dangerously vague and draconian GSL. Check out the announcement.

Now don't get me wrong, I still think that Wizards has every right to protect its intellectual property, but the current incarnation of the GSL was so open-ended in what Wizards could do and vague and what 3rd party publishers' rights were under it that much of the d20 industry has apparently flipped 4e the bird. And now that Wizards pretty much created the d20 industry, the much of the community is rankling on what they see as a betrayal by Wizards. Yes, it's over-dramatic, but add gamers plus internet and you get a bunch of 300 pound drama queens furiously flaming from their parents' basements. And even the more sane but not as vocal crowds are looking at this (killing 3PP for 4e) as damaging to the hobby and industry.

Why should Wizards even play nice? Because there is a large enough following for 3PP that if too many of them don't sign up for 4e, a lot of would-be customers won't make the transition either, and since WotC has discontinued 3e, that would mean less revenue for them.

I suspect we'll hear more about this at GenCon. Makes me wish I was a respectable reporter-blogger-media type, so I could do some investigative journalism. But that would be like work.

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GenCon 2008 starts tomorrow

The nerd Mecca known as GenCon officially starts Thursday, but for myself and some other lucky individuals the festivities start tomorrow. Thus begins 5 days of constantly on the go accompanied by sensory overload. One of these years I'll actually be able to take a few days off after the con to recoup (but not this year).

If I was really clever I'd live blog from the con. Hopefully I'll manage daily recaps and hopefully the new camera works well (I've actually looked at the instructions this time before going through two days of crappy photos.)

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Monday, August 11, 2008

The Spirit trailer

I've never read this book, but then again I've never read 300 or Sin City, both of which turned out to be awesome movies. Now if only they'd use his Wolverine mini-series instead of whatever they've cooked up for the Wolverine movie.

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Paris for Prez?

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

What's sad is that whoever wrote this has a better energy plan than either candidate. Both parties right now are pissing me off with their political theater. The Democrats don't want to piss off the liberal environmentalists and the Republicans are in the pockets of Big Oil.

My concern right now is that by September 30th, when the moratorium on offshore drilling expires and the Congress is forced to vote on the issue, is that when the Republicans "win", they'll assume it will be enough now and be done with it. But drilling a little more oil won't solve the long-term issues, and I'm not talking about environmental issues here. Unless we make a major shift away from oil consumption the little extra we gain from new drilling will just be a blip and in a few years we will be back exactly where we are now.

My question is: if oil goes up $50 a barrel, and it doesn't cost Exxon any more to pull it out of the ground, where does that extra money go? Somehow the speculators need to be cut out of the loop. They and the oil companies are getting rich off us. I know that's not very capitalistic, but I'm tired of being bent over an oil barrel.


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Thursday, August 07, 2008


I technically flirted with 199 earlier but bounced back up a pound, but now that pound is gone again (I wait until the second day at a weight to count it). I got on and off the scale three times, partly to make sure it was right and partly to make sure it was real.

I actually had an employee at another location who hadn't seen me in ages ask me if I was okay because I'd lost so much weight. Okay, I don't want people to think I have cancer or something, but it's nice to know people see a significant difference.


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Saturday, August 02, 2008

200! Ding!

A long standing goal finally reached. But now I really want to lose one more so that my weight will start with a 1 instead of a 2. Losing that pound will be challenge this weekend... my tribe is feasting for Lughnasadh and I'm going to go see a movie. Sounds like extra penance at the gym tomorrow.


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