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Predictably, Charisma Is My Dump Stat.

Surprisingly thorough and (at least in my case) fairly accurate D&D character generation quiz results, as follows:

I Am A: Neutral Good Human Wizard/Sorcerer (2nd/1st Level)

Ability Scores:







Neutral Good A neutral good character does the best that a good person can do. He is devoted to helping others. He works with kings and magistrates but does not feel beholden to them. Neutral good is the best alignment you can be because it means doing what is good without bias for or against order. However, neutral good can be a dangerous alignment because it advances mediocrity by limiting the actions of the truly capable.

Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Primary Class:
Wizards are arcane spellcasters who depend on intensive study to create their magic. To wizards, magic is not a talent but a difficult, rewarding art. When they are prepared for battle, wizards can use their spells to devastating effect. When caught by surprise, they are vulnerable. The wizard's strength is her spells, everything else is secondary. She learns new spells as she experiments and grows in experience, and she can also learn them from other wizards. In addition, over time a wizard learns to manipulate her spells so they go farther, work better, or are improved in some other way. A wizard can call a familiar- a small, magical, animal companion that serves her. With a high Intelligence, wizards are capable of casting very high levels of spells.

Secondary Class:
Sorcerers are arcane spellcasters who manipulate magic energy with imagination and talent rather than studious discipline. They have no books, no mentors, no theories just raw power that they direct at will. Sorcerers know fewer spells than wizards do and acquire them more slowly, but they can cast individual spells more often and have no need to prepare their incantations ahead of time. Also unlike wizards, sorcerers cannot specialize in a school of magic. Since sorcerers gain their powers without undergoing the years of rigorous study that wizards go through, they have more time to learn fighting skills and are proficient with simple weapons. Charisma is very important for sorcerers; the higher their value in this ability, the higher the spell level they can cast.

Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus (e-mail)

street angel skates

Eat a Mile In My Shoes

In honor of Food Allergy Awareness Month (who knew?), Food Allergy Initiative is challenging people to give up a favorite food for a week as an exercise in awareness-raising and solidarity.

I, on the other hand, am taking it a step further. I'm challenging you to avoid a food for a week, as if you're actually allergic to it.

If you decide to try this, I also encourage you to write or blog about it--you're welcome to use the comments here, if you don't have a blog of your own; if you do write about it elsewhere, please post a link in my comments so I can link back to you!

Here are the rules:

Pick a food. This should be a base-level ingredient--"wheat" rather than "cookies" or "bread," for example. If you want a bigger challenge, pick a non-top-eight-allergen (top-eight allergens are peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, wheat, and soy). If you feel that you have something to prove, pick corn.

Congratulations! You are now severely allergic to that food (and, of course, to its derivatives). This means that if you eat even trace amounts, you risk a life-threatening reaction. So, to stay safe, you need to:

-Read labels. Carefully. Bear in mind that product ingredients can change without notice, so even if you're pretty sure a product is safe, you need to double-check before purchasing or eating it.

-Call or research manufacturers. The only labeling law that directly affects you is one requiring manufacturers to list top-eight allergens if they're actual ingredients. Manufacturers do not have to label for potential contamination or production on shared lines with allergens. Non top-eight allergens can be hidden under terms like "natural flavors" or "spices." (Because I'm nice, here are a handful of manufacturers that label for cross-contamination with top-eight allergens: Trader Joe's, General Mills and subsidiaries, Hershey, Philly Swirl, and Morningstar Farms.) If you picked a non-top-eight allergen, you're going to need to start making phone calls. Good luck!

-Remember, a lot of over-the-counter and prescription medications contain potentially allergenic material--particularly milk and corn, but there's at least one asthma drug that contains peanuts--as ingredients or filler. Check with your pharmacist and call manufacturers as necessary.

-Bear in mind that the terms "allergen-free," "peanut-free," "dairy-free," "wheat-free," etc. are not regulated. A manufacturer can legally describe a product containing peanut flour as "peanut-free."

-Call restaurants ahead of time and ascertain that a) they know what goes into their foods and can read and understand labels at a level you trust, b) they have a working understanding of what will be required to prepare food safe for you, and c) it is feasible for them to do so. When you get to the restaurant, check in with the manager to whom you spoke on the phone, as well as your server; you may also with to speak to the chef. If you chose anything but seafood from the list above, give up on ordering dessert in restaurants. (Some restaurants and chains also post ingredient and allergen information online. Sometimes this information is reliable and consistent between franchises. Sometimes it isn't.)

-All of the above also applies to food prepared by others. Remember that friends or family may take serious offense if you decline to eat food they have prepared for you or ask to see labels rather than taking their word that something is safe; weigh this against the relative risk of a serious, potentially life-threatening reaction.

-If you want an added challenge, have contact sensitivity to your allergen. Carry clorox wipes or the equivalent. Check religiously for food debris on surfaces you will be touching. Always wash your hands before eating, and try to avoid touching your face--especially your mouth and eyes--when you are out (actually, you should be doing this regardless). Bear in mind also that many bath products and some cleaning products contain milk, nut oils or ground nuts, and other potential allergens.

Have fun!

ETA: Post round-up is here. I'll keep adding to it if/as more posts appear!

The History of the Bullshit Epidemic

As food allergies become more prevalent--both clinically and in the public eye--a lot of people are asking where the hell they came from. Heather Fraser thinks she knows, and she has written a book about it, to which I'm not going to link, because, seriously, fuck Heather Fraser.

Fraser is an anti-vaccine activist, with a history of justifying an extreme-even-for-the-anti-vax-crowd stance with "evidence" that is, at best, deeply medically and scientifically suspect. She also used to bill herself as a "holistic allergist," and claimed to be able to cure life-threatening food allergies (which is another rant altogether) although most references to that have been scrubbed pending this new release, as has her previous holistic-med-focused twitter account.

The reason I'm posting this here is that Fraser or someone linked to her has been spamming allergy message boards with glowing recommendations--almost word-for-word identical--of The History of the Peanut Allergy Epidemic.

Guys, what Heather Fraser peddles is misinformation masquerading as science. And when you're dealing with life-threatening medical conditions? Misinformation can be as deadly as a loaded gun.

Spread the word. Don't support this shit.

Prince of Awesome

Jake Gyllenhaal on the upcoming Prince of Persia movie: "... And I knew that there would be a huge audience of people that I would be trying to appease and that kinda turned me on too."


(I am not fond of the decision to cast Gyllenhaal as the prince. But that is both hilarious and excellent.)
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Bracelet of the Dead

So, a while ago, karenhealey wrote this novel called Guardian of the Dead, which officially came out yesterday (and which you should buy, because it's oh, so good).

Many months ago, shortly after the book was picked up by a publisher, I made Karen a replica of the totemic bracelet that one of the main characters wears. You can see the bracelet and read about its origins here.