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Tuesday
Feb282012

rommel's secrets of success

1.Everyday do something you find physically painful and unpleasant. Rommel always rose at 6am and ran for 1km flatout even when he had chest pains and was diagnosed with heart problems in his late forties. His reasoning was that though he hated running in the early morning “I detested it” he wrote, it meant he kept his discipline in trim.

2.Never be tired, never eat and never sleep- at least not in public. Nothing inspires troops more than being lead by a superman. Eat and drink in private, at odd times and always refuse sustenance in public. Learn as Rommel did to take 20 minute naps every three hours or so, or, not such a difficult task- there is considerable information on the subject at Stevepavlina.com, a self help website.

3.Minimise losses by tactics rather than maximise gains. Rather than waste men gaining a mile of ground, settle for gaining 500 yards with minimum losses. Find out what is possible with the men you have and achieve it. Great gains with major losses will mean no men to achieve something the next day. To generalise into business: look after the downside and the upside will look after itself.

4.Reconnoitre in force. Rommel turned his fortunes in North Africa after losing 386 of his 412 tanks in January 1941 and after two thirds of the Axis armies had been destroyed. Just when he would have been expected to retreat he decided to reconnoitre the enemy in force. Catching the previously victorious army off guard he captured 100 tanks and returned the front line to its former position. Reconnaissance in force allows you to make the most of any mistake the enemy may make.

5.Which leads us to rule number six: be merciless on any mistake made by the enemy. Mercy has its place in war- but only after prisoners have been captured or a surrender negotiated. There is no better way to weaken morale than to stamp heavily and loudly on every mistake the enemy makes- because he will then blame his own command, direct his energy inwards rather than outwards at his real attackers.

6.Promote enthusiasm, spirit, and correct values ahead of specialised skills, physical fitness and military training. In combat one can more easily teach military skills to an enthusiastic leader than leadership and enthusiasm to someone who knows drill and rifle maintainance.

7.Carry on an attack regardless of what is happening in your rear…in both senses Rommel both ignored internal complaints such as jaundice, food poisoning  and diarhea when at war and more importantly taught his troops not to fight whilst looking over their shoulders. A well planned attack will not be left unprotected, trust in the attack and keep focussed. With enough momentum one is usually never cut off- as one fears. Being encircled is usually the fate of an army that does not more forward fast enough.

8.Chose fairness over popularity every time. Easy to say, but hard to do. Rommel was famous for not caring how popular he was with his officers but he was always scrupulously fair. Over time the reputation for fairness will undermine the need for superficial popularity.

9.Use tanks in mass and not in tiny packets- to generalise- understand each arm has an optimum size, that, by supporting itself it then maximises its impact. The British never really grasped this and very often deployed tanks in too small groups- too small to make a real impact they were picked off one by one.

10.Trust your intuition in the midst of battle. Things move too fast and are too confusing in battle to process information slowly and rationally. Instead you have to lock into the rhythm of the battle and become dynamicly engaged, never stopping but always making decision after decision as soon as it seems wise, never double checking, never hesitating. War is not a science and in a fluid situation keeping moving is paramount. Rather as in football one is best served keeping the ball in play even if it means passing backwards, so, too the momentum of instinctive leadership in confusing battle scenarios enables a flexible response that enables one to keep acting until the action is at an end.

11.A disordered enemy does not protect his flanks. If one can harass and disrupt an enemy, get them on the run, both mentally and physically one can take the calculated and justified risk that they will not protect themselves from attack on either side- they will be too concerned about what is coming at them from the front (or rear if they are already running). 

 

Tuesday
Oct252011

don't see Tintin

It's crap.

Tuesday
May312011

runescape story #6 by Al Twigger

Priest in Peril (continued)

Haratio had mined the essence and had given it to Drezel, Drezel had then cast an enchantment and an odd porthole had opened. So Drezel said, this porthole gives access to the evil lands of Morytania. Haratio had been about to step through the porthole when drezel had suddenly said, wait! I need your help. Haratio had then stopped and he had looked at drezel. One of my friend’s lives in Morytania, drezel had said and i wish to you to give him word that we are victorious and that i have successfully created a porthole that those creatures of Zamorak cannot get through. Drezel had then given Haratio 3 meat pies and had told him to give them to his friend who was called Filman Turnock. Drezel had then said that Filman lived in the deadly Mortmyre swamp and that Haratio had to get there.

So Haratio entered the porthole and found he was standing on a wet floor with weeds threatening to burst through it. He looked to west and saw a small town and was about to head over there when a man in brown robes ran out of the gloom and stood in his way. Don’t go in there the man said, that is the town of the Canifs, populated by werewolves and Vampyres. Haratio was shocked. Haratio could not understand how a little town like that could be populated by werewolves. Haratio had heard tales of werewolves that he did not want to remember. Haratio had never heard of Vampyres but did not think they would be at all nice. I seek Mortmyre swamp said Haratio as boldly as he could. Mortmyre is to the south said the man, but why do you need to go there, it is incredibly dangerous and many a good man has died because of the horrors that live in there. Never the less said Haratio i seek Filman Turnock who lives in that swamp. At this the man paused, but then he led Haratio south until they reached a gate. Behind this gate lies the swamp said the man, are you sure you want to this, no one has heard from Filman in months. Thank you said Haratio but I’m going in anyway. As you wish said the man and he opened the gate.

As Haratio stepped through he smelt an awful smell that twisted his insides, it smelt like rotten flesh. Haratio walked a few meters and then he smelt something awful and looked inside his bag to see that his first meat pie was rotten. Haratio took the mess out of his satchel and threw it away. Then a creature so terrible it made Haratio shiver showed itself before him. It looked like a human except it was a sickly green and had a face of pure anger. Behind it more materialised and advanced. Haratio ran through them and felt his second meat pie rot. He took a swipe at one of the monsters with his sword but the sword passed through it and the creature kept coming. Haratio realised that was nothing to do and ran.

As he ran more creatures appeared and snarled at him. Haratio ran as fast as he could without even bothering to look back. As more creatures appeared Haratio saw a broken bridge leading to a small island. Seeing that there was not much to Haratio jumped across it, just making it to the other side. The creatures advanced then fell back clutching their heads as if they were in pain. Haratio backed up against the wall and then was pushed down. A booming voice filled his ears, who dares disturb the great Filman Turnock. Haratio turned around, it was Filman Turnock but he was a ghost.

Well said Filman who are you and why do you dare disturb me. Haratio was still panting in shock. I was sent by drezel to find out if the swamp was stable and also to see if you were ok. Well said Filman i am perfectly fine thank you and the swamp is as stable as it can be. But said a stammering Haratio, you’re a ghost. What are our talking about said an indignant Filman, i am not a ghost and i won’t be in some time. But said Haratio you are. I am not said Filman, besides you have no proof that i am a ghost. Well said Haratio i might just have. Haratio walked over to a study bench and looked under all the paper to find a mirror, mirrors; he said smugly every Sradominist carries one. At this Filman looked quite hurt. Haratio put the mirror up to Filman face and the ghost gasped. Oh yes he said sticking his hand through his belly, that was whey i wasn’t eating.

Filman had entered his grotto and had been down there for over an hour. Occasionally Haratio had heard a curse. Then at last Filman emerged. I have decided that since i am a ghost i will become a nature spirit. When he saw Haratioes puzzled look he smiled and then Haratio knew he would be in the grotto for a long time. Many years ago said Filman, when i took this job i had no idea what it would do for me. Well it converted me to the side of Guthix. Haratio was shocked; this was one of the few Guthixians he had ever met. I made shrines for Guthix all over Morytania and many converted to the art of worshipping Guthix. Then one night Filman continued Guthix spoke to me and told me i had little time to live because the Vampyres had found out about my activity and had decided to eliminate me. He also told me that soon i would become a nature spirit a rare spirit that was once a human who worshipped Guthix very well. Then the very next day Vampyres came to my house and killed me in my sleep. At this Haratio realised that Vampyres were a force to be reckoned with. Well said Filman i woke up the next day and found out i couldn’t eat. I couldn’t send for more food because the Vampyres had cut off my connection with my friends in the Canifs. So the ghost continued, i thought i was going to die but i felt no pain so i thought that Guthix had blessed me with immortality, why said Haratio, did you not remember the dream. Well said Filman, clearly annoyed at being interrupted, it just slipped from my memory and  now you have come and have made me realise that i must become a nature spirit. Haratio looked cynical, why should he help this odd man to become an even more devoted Guthix supporter. As if reading his mind Filman said you know the creatures that attacked you on the way here, Haratio shuddered, he did not want to remember the odd looking monsters that had attacked him. Well said Filman they are called Ghasts, ghosts of dead adventurers ho have died in the swamp. And continued the ghost if i become a nature spirit they will become visible and you will be able to pass them in peace. It will help everyone in Morytania. Haratio thought about it, he was sure that there were some decent people in Morytania that could use free passage to Morytania. Very well said Haratio i accept. Thank you said a clearly relieved Filman. Here’s what you must do.

Haratio could not believe what he was doing. Filman had given to a slip of paper that had a spell written on it. Filman had then said to read the spell when Haratio was near some rotting logs. Haratio had also been given a silver sickle. Haratio had been confused at first but then Filman had told him that this was a legendary ghast slaying weapon but that he needed it to be blessed by a priest. With this in mind Haratio had checked the outside of the island before jumping over the bridge and sprinting to the nearing pile of rotten logs. Haratio read the spell and instantly the logs disappeared and were replaced by an odd mushroom. An instant adventurer instinct had told Haratio that he needed to pick this up. He was about to throw the spell card away but something told him not to and this was not an adventurer instinct.

Haratio had then stuck to west side of the swamp and had walked north until he could see the gate, He opened it and then ran through it, and he kept running until he saw the porthole. He entered and then fell onto drezel, the monk was indignant at first then saw it was Haratio and went all serious. Haratio told him everything and the monk had gone deadly quiet when Haratio had told him about Filmans desire to be a nature spirit. Haratio finished and drezel was still. Then as if he was insane drezel kicked his stool down and started cursing Filman in the name of Saradomin. Haratio had had to calm him down. Why should i give this weapon my blessing said an angry drezel it will be used for violence anyway..... Because shouted a now angry Haratio, the little amount of good people in this wretched land will find it much easier to find their way to civilisation if you do do this.

The monk now silenced sighed and took the sickle and blessed it silently under his breath. It is done said drezel now please go, i need some time to calm down. Haratio left the monk and walked through the porthole. He approached the gates to the Mortmyre swamp and ran through them. Several Ghasts saw him and materialised right by him. Haratio kept on running all the time feeling weaker. He approached the island and jumped over the bridge. The Ghasts disappeared and Filman appeared already searching Haratioes bag and emptying its contents onto the floor. He picked up the spell card, the mushroom and the sickle and waved his arms. Before Haratio appeared 3 odd looked stools, one brown, one white and one green. Filman put each of the items on each stool and the stool absorbed them. Then Filman looked as if something was going to happen but after 5 minutes he stopped looking to the black sky of Morytania and clicked his fingers. Instantly a book appeared before Filman and he read it, his eyes widened and he looked at Haratio and then back at the book again. He then spoke. You my friend he said must slay 3 Ghasts.

Haratio was shocked. Since many brave adventurers had ventured into the swamp he thought there rotting corpses would be just as brave. As he entered the swamp with his silver sickle the Ghasts appeared before him but backed away at the sight of the sickle. However one was brave and flew at Haratio who slashed at it, however the ghast was quick and it dodged him before knocking him over. Just as the ghast was about to go in for the kill Haratio brought his sword up and the ghast screamed in pain before disintegrating into thousands of ashes. A second one attacked and dodged Haratioes first attack and then hit him. When the ghast hit him Haratio felt a pain shoot threw his heart. However still clutching his heart he stabbed and the ghast was forced to jump backwards. Haratio then stabbed again and the ghast disintegrated. By now a crowd of Ghasts had gathered. However the crowd parted and a large ghast entered the circle. Most of the ghast out on their sickly version of a smile. Then the large ghast charged and Haratio was slammed into. He felt instant pain but held his ground. The ghast charged again but Haratio ducked, however in doing so he had let of his guard and the ghast tripped him up. Haratio was down and the ghast rammed his ghostly fist into Haratioes chest.

The pain that followed was immense and the ghast looked to be enjoying every minute of it. Now all the ghast were smiling. Haratio took advantage of the Ghasts relish for this moment and drove his sickle into the Ghasts belly. The giant creature was still. Then it burnt to ashes. The Ghasts realising their champion had been defeated fled. Haratio felt his sickle grow light and he ran back to the island. As soon as he entered Filman took the sickle and disappeared. Then a wave of force hit Haratio and he smiled as he realised that another quest was complete.      

 

Sunday
May012011

Runescape story #5 by Al Twigger

Runescape: Volume 5

Priest in Peril

 

 

Haratio loved Varrock. It was his new home and he loved it. Sure there were the annoying stray dogs and the gangs but that was on the west side of Varrock, Haratio lived on the east side where all the fun was. Haratio had bought a house in the small compound on the Far East side of Varrock and he loved it. Every day he went out and brought some food from the market place and occasionally went over to the Varrock museum to take a look at their findings. However Haratio had never been to the Varrock palace so one morning as he woke up he thought that it would be a good experience for him to find out more about the city he was living in.

Haratio walked up to the palace and saw 2 guards standing by the gates. As he approached he heard the guards whispering to each other, damn that priest, I’ve never seen the king so worried and you know what I’m like when I see our mighty king in any state of worry. I known answered the other guard it’s a pity we couldn’t go and see why contact has been lost at the temple, we would leave the kings palace open to intruders and that would be worse. They stopped as Haratio approached them. Name and job said the first guard trying to sound as menacing as he could, Haratio Rolodes said Haratio, Adventurer. Hmm said the guard, pass. No wait shouted the other and Haratio smiled. He sensed an adventure afoot. We need an adventurer said the guard and he walked up to Haratio. Allow us to escort you to the king said the guard and he led Haratio into the massive palace and up to a large oak door. The guard opened it and led Haratio through to a large space. In the centre were 2 thrones made out of gold and on 1 of them sat a very famous man, King Roald III King of Mistalin.

As Haratio approached the king sat up in his chair and said in a loud booming voice, who is this guard and why have you brought them to me. Your majesty said the guard and bowed, well said the king why have you brought this peasant before me. Haratio was about to let out an indignant cry when he felt the guard squeeze his arm, this king obviously was stronger than he looked. My lord said the guard this is one of the adventurers who has willingly taken up the offer to go on the quest that you have set. Hmm said the king and he walked up to Haratio. Decent looking, a little smelly the king muttered, once again Haratio had the urge to punch the king in the face but he decided not to. All in all said the king a fine young adventurer, the king suddenly looked towards the guard who nodded and left the room. Well since you the one doing my little quest said the king id best fill you in on the details. Haratio was ordered to sit down and did so. Well said the king in his booming voice, there is an old school friend of mine who chose to become a monk, his name is Drezel and he was incredibly good at his job. The king paused well if you call being a monk a job anyway but anyway he was assigned along with some others to protect a temple that keeps the river salve to the east enchanted. Why interrupted Haratio and then realised who he had just interrupted. Silence peasant boomed the king I was just getting to that part, the reason for this the king said is because to the Far East lies an incredibly dangerous land known to many people as Morytania, Haratio was hit by a wave of cold his Grandfather Torag had died fighting in Morytania in an effort to stop what Haratio wondered. Well said the king, Morytania was populated by Vampyres and werewolves, not to mention ghasts, all foul creatures who would have happily taken over what we call home, so thousands of years ago a group of priests led by the famous Ivandis cast a enchantment that only let warriors of Saradomin pass. However with all the evil on our side they had to protect the enchantment from being broken by putting its power into a barrier, a holy barrier to be exact, then they built a temple over it to conceal it form others and also put some form of guardian, I think maybe a demon from what I’ve heard to guard it should others stumble across the location. Ivandis told the 6 priests that helped him enchant the river when they died they were to put their gravestones around the barrier to protect it from evil. So said Haratio why to you need me to visit the temple, because interrupted the king we have lost contact with the temple and it is not like Drezel to put off our communications just like that. Ok said Haratio I have heard tale of this temple so I must be off at once, goodbye your majesty he said bowing before swiftly leaving the room and walking out of the gates.

Haratio knew where he was heading; he had visited it many times when he had been a squire for the white knights. He headed out of Varrocks east gate and then entered the rocky area where the digsite was located. Haratio ran into a rocky valley and headed east until he could see the massive temple that guarded the west form the east. As Haratio approached the doors he realised that if this problem was bigger than he thought he would have to resort to violence and that he had never taken a human life before, however it soon came to his mind that whatever what is there might not even be human.

So Haratio knocked on the door, he thought it stupid but what else could he do. There was a scuttle of legs and a voice that sounded very worried answered. State your name and business it said worriedly, Haratio Rolodes adventurer answered Haratio. Inside the temple the voice relaxed. Well little adventurer said the voice now more sly and sarcastic I’ve got an adventure for you, what is that answered Haratio. Over to the north of here is a series of catacombs guarded by a fearsome dog, we Saradominists, at that there was a burst of laughter silenced by a shusssh. Well said the voice what are you waiting for drive that dog away and then all was silent.

Haratio walked north and saw a trapdoor he climbed down it and turned, he was met by a massive blow that sent him flying into the wall. As Haratio got up he looked at his attacker and saw a massive dog with huge fangs and massive claws the dogs mouth was leaking drool as the creature growled then it charged Haratio moved and the creature hit the wall however it got up still growling, with the new news that dog could not be knocked out and had to be killed Haratio drew his sword and as the dog charged again stabbed it the dog took a moment to realise that it had been defeated then dropped to the floor dead.

Haratio walked up to the temple door and knocked, once again a nervous voice asked for the name and business and then turned sly when Haratio told it what he had done. Well said the voice now even more sly you’d best report back to the king. Haratio thought this a good idea so he headed back to Varrock still suspicious of the voice that had told him to kill the dog. As he entered Varrock he headed north to the palace. The guard recognised him and led him through to the throne room. King Roald was waiting and listened intently to Haratioes story but his became fiery red when Haratio said that he had killed the dog. After Haratio had finished the king sat for some time and then reared up in a way that scared even Haratio. What bellowed the king and Haratio was surprised he thought he should be better rewarded. You my silly little friend shouted the king have just killed the guardian to the temple that if disrupted will allow enemies much too strong for us into our region go and fix it now or suffer my wrath. So an angry Haratio was escorted out of the throne room. The guard told him to hurry because was very inpatient and would often execute people who displeased him.

As Haratio approached the temple he saw that the glow that it once possessed was now gone. He realised that he couldn’t knock on the door again so he approached the temple form the east and climbed up the vines that covered the side of it. Once he was on the roof Haratio looked through the glass roof and saw several monks feasting, but the monks were wearing red robes which meant they were Zamorak monks, Haratio had heard that all the creatures that dwelt in Morytania were Zamorakians so this was a plot o help them rule the west in Zamoraks name. Haratio had to find Drezel.

As Haratio entered the catacombs he saw that there was a door to at the northern point of the catacombs. Haratio tried to open the door but it was locked. Haratio realised that one of the monks had it. He exited the catacombs and knocked on the door, once again the nervous voice appeared, state your name and business it said. Haratio put on a voice completely different to his own, I am a new monk eager to join you in your freeing of Morytania said Haratio in a high pitched voice. The monk’s grip on the door softened and then the door opened. Haratio reacted quickly and imitated the monks nervous by saying be back in minute before yanking the monk outside. Where is the key to the catacombs whispered Haratio. When the monk didn’t answer Haratio searched him and found the key. Now said Haratio run back to Varrock and continue your life in peace. The monk smirked but Haratio drew his sword, would you rather stay with me said Haratio and that was enough to get the monk going. Haratio with the key in his hand entered the catacombs and unlocked the door. He walked for a bit until he entered a large tomb with 7 graves all surrounding what looked like a well. Haratio then saw a coffin with odd marks on it but he payed this no notice and set his attention on another door. As he approached he heard a shivering coming from it and drew his sword. As he did this the shivering stopped and a monk in brown robes appeared at the door. When he saw Haratio his eyes lit up but he didn’t say anything. Then the monk turned away and scribbled something down on a piece of paper and then threw it out to Haratio. Haratio caught it and read the message which was a simple help me. Haratio walked towards the door but the monk stopped him and pointed at the lock indicating that it was locked. Then the monk pointed towards the coffin with odd markings on it and made a face. When Haratio shook his head the monk pointed to his teeth and then Haratio understood, the thing in the coffin was a vampire. When studying with the white knights Haratio had learnt that vampires were occasionally hired by Zamorakians to guard their enemies, vampire would get the scent of the prisoner and if that scent moved out of its range then it would attack. Haratio had also learned that the only way to shut a vampire’s coffin was to pour holy water over it. As if reading his mind the monk indicated to the well and then pointed at a bucket lying in the corner. Haratio picked up the bucket and walked over to the well he lowered the bucket into the well and scooped up some water. Then taking aim he threw it onto the coffin nothing happened but then the monk blurted some random words out and the coffin moved but stayed shut.

The monk then did a little dance and then became serious. Quickly adventurer set me free shouted the monk. Haratio realising he didn’t have a key looked around for one. He couldn’t find one but just as he was about to tell the monk this he saw that one of the grave statues had a key in it. Haratio took the key and unlocked the door to the monks cell. He was met by a massive hug and several thank yous. However the monk soon stopped thanking him and turned serious. Right said the monk we have work to do and then Haratio had a feeling another adventure was afoot.

End of part 1                          

 

Tuesday
Apr262011

rural pursuits

I attended a point-to-point horse racing meet yesterday and what fun it was. Not just the sight of galloping horses, the fun of betting and walking the course before hand but also a chance to watch terrier racing, which must be one of the great unknown sports around. Terriers are great in a straight line and terrier racing involves using a bicycle wheel and pedals with a circulating line running about a hundred metres between this and another wheel. It's a bit like one of those washing lines you operate from a balcony with the line running over two pulleys. The race master pedals with his hands on the pedals and a sock filled with sawdust and tied to the line, shoots along down the middle of the course. Four terriers in an individualised starting cage are released and they go for that sock like...terriers after a rat. It is drag racing for dogs, in effect, and very easy to operate on an amateur basis. All the dogs involved were just the pets of interested race goers, and of course the dogs loved it as much as their owners did. It just made me laugh to watch it- rural pursuits, you can't beat 'em.

Wednesday
Mar232011

anxiety and global warming

There is global warming, climate change and the plethora of interesting and complex studies involved in those areas and there is anxiety about the effects of global warming. This anxiety – observable in children as young as 10 and 11- having been exposed to simplified science- might be a good thing, I suppose, if its result was to save the planet from frying and turning into the next Venus. If its result is to simply make people feel powerless and unhappy then it is not a good thing.

Global warming anxiety is based on the belief- which is observable in models and some closed systems that rising C02 levels trap more heat which results in more CO2 being released (from the earth and the sea) which results in more heat until the oceans boil away and you end up with 470 degree surface temperatures. No wonder my nephew couldn’t sleep at night.

But this positive feedback cycle is far from simple- if it was there wouldn’t be any work for climate scientists to do. Not many disagree that the world is getting warmer. Not many disagree that increased C02 levels result in warmer temperatures. But NO ONE agrees on the exact mechanisms by which CO2 is released and taken up by the earth and the sea. These mechanisms- and the lags involved- for example a thousand years for the sea to give up C02 is not considered an unusual figure, means that the details of any positive feedback system remain obscure.

The detail of these mechanisms (processes might be a better word) by which CO2 is absorbed and given out are highly important. With the Biosphere 2 project people lived in a closed environment- under glass- for periods of up to two years. Oxygen levels plummeted from 20% to 14% and C02 levels fluctuated widely- from 1000ppm in summer to 4500 ppm in winter. But though they fluctuated, C02 levels didn’t rise overall- and this was considered a great mystery. Until it was discovered that C02 reacted with the concrete of the building to become calcium carbonate- effectively absorbing C02 from the Biosphere 2 atmosphere. This is illustrative rather than conclusive- but the suggestion is plausible- in a closed system such as the Biosphere 2 the mechanisms of C02 absorption were complex. And that is mirrored and multiplied a 1000 times in the mass of theory and data surrounding the mechanisms of C02 absorption by Biosphere 1- this planet. Until the processes of C02 absorption are fully understood, feeling anxious about the potential heat death of this planet is simple folly. That we might be ‘running out of time’ is true. But that is still no reason to be anything other than carefree and happy in one’s everyday life. Carefree and happy scientists do far better work than anxious ones. As the great Victorian polymath Richard Burton put it, “We dance along death’s icy brink but is the dance less full of fun?”

Actually the anxiety is hardly surprising- we become anxious when we are in doubt. If you know something for certain you adapt to it using all your available resources. You don’t panic- you act. When I know I have a certain medical problem – for sure- I am far less anxious than when I am surfing the web and discovering I have all the symptoms for every kind of terminal disease. I know from facing real problems such as being lost in the desert, bear attacks, and being caught in a riot that panic is your worst enemy. And the parent of panic is anxiety.

That the media thrives on anxiety is well established- what remains unquestioned is the blurring of interest and concern with anxiety. To be hysterical is taken to be the first step towards changing the world for the better. But we all know anxious people are not in the right frame of mind to do anything- they are anxious precisely BECAUSE they feel powerless. So the moment something as important as the future of the planet produces anxiety – that is the moment you need to pull back.

As it is, the current anxieties are the result of simplifying vast amounts of complex science. A friend’s son was told the other day at school that the Sun would swallow the earth in 3.7 billion years. He was anxious about it and sought reassurance that it wouldn’t happen. Well it will- but the assertion is also utterly meaningless – on any level that need concern us as human beings.

Sunday
Mar202011

Runescape story #2 by Al Twigger

Runescape Volume 2: Rune Mysteries

Haratio was no longer a squire for the white knights. After he had completed his quest against the evil black knights he had returned. Sir Amik Vaze had offered him a place on the white knights council but he had turned it down and asked for money for his family and the opportunity to leave Falador and travel around the legendary world of Runescape. His travels had taken him to places like Edgeville, Draynor and Rimmington where he had just managed to buy a house that he decided he would start building as soon as he explored some more.

Finally he reached the infamous town of Lumberidge. Lumberidge was where new adventurers would automatically end up when they stepped through the adventure porthole. This was why it was so famous. As Haratio entered he saw fishing shops, axe shops, a church and of course the general store. Then he saw the castle. Haratio had heard of the great Lumberidge castle but had never seen it up close. There were guards everywhere and they looked grand, even the servants looked grand. Haratio walked up to the doors and opened them. He was standing in front of a wall which had the Lumberidge flag strung up on it. He walked down the left and then saw a flight of stairs. Before he climbed them Haratio saw a worried looking cook standing in the kitchen but he didn’t pay any notice.

He climbed the ladder and found himself looking down a long corridor. There were 2 rooms. Haratio looked in the first one and saw a servant spinning some sheep’s fluff into balls of wool on a spinning wheel. When the servant saw him he jumped out of his skin in shock and then told Haratio to keep down the noise which was odd because Haratio hadn’t said anything. Haratio exited the room and moved on to the next. He opened the door and was shocked at what he saw. This was the reason the servant had seemed so nervous. Standing in the centre of the room was the man Haratio had been named after, Duke Haratio, Ruler of Lumberidge.

Haratio stepped out of the room but the duke said “Wait a minute, are you any good at running”. Haratio thought this was a strange question but he stepped back inside the room and replied timidly “I suppose so my Lord”. “Good” said the Duke, “Now do you know the wizards tower”. Haratio had heard tell of the wizard’s tower, a great tower for only the best wizards which was located across a long bridge that protected it from the outside world. “Yes my lord” he answered. “Well go there” said the duke “Tell their leader, Seridor that I have located a very powerful talisman and I would like him to have a look at it”. This sounded like a quest to Haratio. Haratioes most recent quest had been a success and he had been in one of the most dangerous places in the world of Runescape so how hard could delivering a few packages be.

The Duke handed over a talisman that had whit markings all over it. “Take this to the wizard’s tower and be careful!” Haratio was pushed out of the room and that was when he realised something. The duke of Lumberidge had given him a quest!!! Haratio nearly fell down the stairs. He rushed out of the castle gates and bumped into several people. Then he thought about it and knew that if this quest turned out to be dangerous then he would need to be better prepared. He trouped down to a relatively small looking shop that had Bobs Axes hung up on it. Haratio walked in and saw Bob the owner. He walked up to Bob and said “Excuse me Sir, could I buy an axe”. Bob was silent for a minute and then realised he had a customer and burst into merriment, “Of course you can have an axe my boy” he boomed, “Now what type of axe do you want, Bronze, Steel, Iron, Mirthil or Adamant” (See Runescape guide). “Ummm, maybe adamant” was the reply he got. “Well then my boy, that’ll be 4333 gp then”. Now of course Haratio didn’t have enough money so he bought an Iron axe instead.

Haratio knew a shortcut to the wizard’s tower so he headed down to the Lumberidge swamps and then headed west. He came to a stop in front of a battered old house that looked like someone was in making a huge fuss. Haratio decided to continue because he didn’t want to disturb the man. He arrived at the long bridge to the wizards tower. It looked miles long and was made out of grey brick. Wooden suspenders kept it standing. Some wizards were on guard but when they saw Haratioes squire gear they let him through. Haratio walked across the bridge and eventually arrived at the wizards tower. It didn’t look very big but there was an air of magic about it that made Haratio shiver. He entered and noticed a ladder leading down. He climbed it and found himself in a dark chamber. There were rats on the floor that were feeding on a dead chicken. Haratio grimaced and continued . He found himself outside a dark door. It was locked so Haratio tried to push. He couldn’t s do that so he tried to charge at the door but he still couldn’t open it. Then the door opened and an angry wizard appeared and cast a spell that sent Haratio flying back. The wizard looked like he was going to cast a death spell but Haratio shouted out, “Duke Haratio sent me”. The wizard backed up but he still looked angry.  “Why are you banging on my door then”. “I was sent here” said Haratio. “By who” the wizard said, “The Duke of Lumberidge” Haratio said, he has a package for you and he says its important. The wizards look turned from angry to serious. Show me this package then boy. Yes sir said Haratio and he handed the small talisman over. The wizard studied it and his eyes lit up. Finally he said, it has come to us. He turned on Haratio, are you sure that the duke of Lumberidge gave you this. Yes said Haratio. The wizards face turned purple and for a moment Haratio thought that another death spell was coming but then the wizard slapped Haratio on the back and started to laugh. Yes at last it has come to us he boomed. Then he turned to Haratio and his faced turned serious. Can you keep a secret, he whispered. Haratio suddenly knew an adventure was afoot. Yes he whispered. Well then said the wizard this is no place to talk. He clicked his fingers and found himself in a small room with several animals running around. The wizard appeared and sat down on a chair. He motioned to Haratio to do the same. Many moons ago he said this was a massive tower with trainee wizards from all around Gelinor. But one night it burned down and no one knew how. Well it seems the duke has brought the answer to us. He looked down at the talisman and for a moment Haratio saw a tear in his eye. When the tower was created so was a skill known as rune crafting. Rune crafting was a skill developed at the beginning of time. People could craft runes to cast spells by getting something known as rune essence which was a rune rock that had no symbol on it. There was only one rune essence mine in the whole world of Gelinor that could only be accessed by the first ever air talisman. This is that talisman he motioned to the odd looking talisman. With this we can access the rune essence mine and the skill of Rune crafting will be revealed to the world. Now he said to Haratio I need you to deliver a package to my friend Aubry in Varrock. He has some research that will confirm that this talisman can access the Rune essence mine. I need you to find him and ask him for the research. Now go he said and Haratio found himself outside the wizard’s tower. This didn’t seem like must of a quest to him but he thought that wizard deserved something after all his years of research. He headed North for Varrock and past some witches who looked like they were having a hard time. Then he came to a stop and entered Draynor village. There was lots of hubbub in the village as Haratio entered but he just walked through leaving the people to hustle and bustle about some more. Haratio came to a cross road and headed east. He came to the Lumberidge Mill and then headed north he came to a bridge and crossed it. In the distance he could see the city of Varrock looming up above him. He walked past the fabled champion’s guild where only the best of adventurers were aloud and then saw the huge gates of Varrock looming up above him. Haratio showed his white knight status to the guards and they let him past. He entered the city and saw millions of people bustling about; this was 10 times bigger than Falador and at least 100 times more people. Haratio walked through the streets and saw loads and loads of shops selling different items. However Haratio knew that he didn’t have time to explore the city. He walked east and arrived at a compound with several shops around it. He walked South of that and then went east. In front of him was a massive shop that said Aubrey’s rune shop. He entered it and saw a man wearing a magic skill cape with a small goatee and a hair as white as snow. This must be Aubrey. Haratio walked up to him and was suddenly intrigued to buy some runes, he knew that he was on a mission but maybe one stop would be OK. Aubrey suddenly stopped and stared at Haratio. He seemed to be talking to some imaginary person in his mind, then Haratio urge for Runes was broken and Aubrey walked up to him. I trust you have something for me he said in a cynical voice. Yes sir said Haratio and he handed he package over. Hmm he said as he studied it, then his eyes lit up and he turned to Haratio take this, he handed Haratio a package that looked like a wrapped up present and said in an urgent voice take this to Seridor, this will confirm the existence of the rune essence mine. Yes sir said Haratio and all of a sudden he found himself outside the rune store. Haratio hurried through Varrock and was about to exit when he saw something glint on the horizon. Haratio knew that type of glint and he threw himself out of the way as a silver crossbow flew straight down where he had been standing. Haratio couldn’t see the shooter but he knew he had to get to the wizards tower.

Haratio ran past the Varrock gates and ran past the champion’s guild which seemed less important now, after all it was just an ordinary building. Haratio ran through the distressed village of Draynor and came out after being nearly stampeded. He ran past the witches who seemed to be shouting at one another but Haratio didn’t really care. He ran and ran until he reached the wizards Tower Bridge, the guards who recognised him instantly and let him past. He ran up to the entrance of the tower and entered. He climbed down the ladder and knocked on Seridors door the door flew open and Seridor looked angry but when he saw the package he let him through with the words stop knocking and just shout. Haratio handed him the package and he took it and opened it. He muttered some words and the package and the talisman disappeared. I have sent them to the King Roald of Varrock and he will agree and the mine will be assessed. He clapped Haratio on the back and disappeared. Haratio found himself outside the tower and then he realised something this was his second quest and he had completed it. Now a new skill would be uncovered all because of him. Proud and witty, Haratio headed towards the witches to see what they fighting about.