Monday, September 22, 2014

Wilhelm's Grappling Tentacle

Here is another bit of Pathfinder zaniness.

Introducing Wilhelm's Grappling Tentacle.

Imagine an alchemist character with a tentacle who has two levels of Order of the Penitent cavalier.

He has the feats Potion Glutton and Greater Grapple.

Wilhelm's example is level nine and has a +20 Combat Maneuver Bonus.

Each combat turn it can use Potion Glutton to drink a potion of true strike as a swift action, use the tentacle to make an sure-to-succeed attack with the grab ability, watch the high Combat Maneuver Bonus succeed at grappling the foe, and then use Greater Grapple to tie up the foe with a second grapple die roll.

Tie up any monster in one turn!

Oregon Cultural Trust

Oregon has a state Cultural Trust that helps various state non-profits with a focus on the arts, heritage, and humanities.

If you donate to any of the participating charities, you can donate a matching amount to the Cultural Trust that is free to you because the entire matching amount is a state tax credit.

Pretty cool.

LCC Board E-mails

The LCC Board of Education has its own web page, of course.

It is also true that the Lane Education Service District has an issue with website security, which makes it especially easy to find the e-mails of all board members in the district.

The directory for the Oregon Community College Association also has the e-mails.

Bob Ackerman, Tony McCown, Rosie Pryor, Sharon Stiles, Matt Keating, Gary LeClair, Pat Albright

Since their contact information is public record and so easy to find, I'll also archive it here for my own use.

I do not often attend board meetings, but when I do I like to send out a few e-mails afterward.

Bob Ackerman

Tony McCown

Rosie Pryor

Sharon Stiles

Matt Keating

Gary LeClair

Pat Albright

Rival Tooth Brushing Ideologies

A while ago Nathen wrote a blog post about how his dentists' instructions for optimal tooth brushing has changed over the years.

As someone who has taught tooth brushing both as a parent and in the preschool classroom, I can sympathize.

There are actually several different "schools" of tooth brushing technique.  You can read about some.  They have names like the Bass Method, Stillman Method, and Chartes Method.

Why don't dentists agree which is best?  No one follows them rigorously enough for an experimental study.

It was tried once.  Dentists were the subjects.

The only meaningful conclusion was that even dentists do not use any method properly and faithfully.


Murlocks always make the same gargling noise.

Except they do not.  Notice the three buffs: Blarghghl, Mlarggragllabl!, and Mrghlglhhal.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Angry Lorewalker Cho

A funny Hearthstone video showed two players sharing Divine Spirit cards to raise the health of a Lorewalker Cho to ridiculous amounts.

Then, of course, Inner Fire set its attack to the same number, and the game had a dramatic over.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

First Grade Common Core Mathematics

Tomorrow I meet with the first grade teachers at Smiley's school to do some planning about my volunteer help, which will mostly be helping teach mathematics.

I found a web page with the first grade mathematics common core standards that includes example problems.  They are new to me, since last year I worked with kindergarten, fourth, and fifth graders.

Someone also made the cute version, from which I stole the image above.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Very Generic Hearthstone Daily Quests

This looks like a promising, fun time once Gallant starts his nap.


For those who do not play Hearthstone, I will explain too much.

Each day you  get a new, random daily quest.  You can have three.  Also, each day you can discard one daily quest to replace it with a different random one.

I try to be efficient, and swap out quests that reward 40 gold for using specified heroes to obtain quests that can be obtained with any hero.  That way every third day I can (hopefully) play a few games that fulfill requirements of two if not three quests.

Over the past few days I got lucky.  Today I can play with any hero, and be working on fulfilling all three quests simultaneously.

Moreover, that central quest is the only daily quest for which games played by challenging a friend count.  That is extra fun compared to playing against random opponents.

Comparing the S&P 500 Index Funds

Slightly interesting...

What is the difference between SPDR, IVV, and VOO?

Investopedia explains how these three S&P 500 Index Funds differ.

Monday, September 08, 2014

New to Hearthstone

After recently visiting my friend who works at Blizzard, I have started playing Hearthstone.  My wife likes it too.

Challenge me to a game! My alias is davidvs#1835.

The game is free and very fun. It installed well on Ubuntu using PlayOnLinux.  But I did need to repeat the install process a second time, since the first attempt exited after installing the software.

Replacing Spacing Out Paragraphs in Geany

My text editor of choice is Geany.

I use it all the time to edit my website pages.

This blog post is merely a note to myself to use the regular expression \n\n to replace spaced out paragraphs.

I am now working on converting my Math 25 Workbook into web pages.  The first step for each chapter is to add the HTML paragraph mark code.  So I do:
Find: \n\n
Replace: </p>\n\n<p>
For the entire document.  Then I only need to manually fix the first open paragraph, and the last close paragraph.

An Underemployment chart

This is interesting.

Most of the statistics I see about such things measure which majors or degrees earn the most on average.

But the Washington Post reports a survey from PayScale that asks a slightly different question.

Mathematics is 10th on the "least underemployed majors" list.  With a mathematics degree you can do many things!

I am surprised that the very least underemployed is civil and environmental engineering.  But not too surprised.  I have a brother-in-law who does civil structural engineering who gets job offers all the time.

Pathfinder's Stuff That is New to Me

The Pathfinder RPG now has an Advanced Class Guide.

The list of character class guides will need many additions!

As usual, the explosion of new feats, spells, and archetypes means the League of the One Trick Pony will be gaining many new members.

New Classes and Archetypes

But I am more interested in what new well-rounded character concepts are available.

Note: I have not played Pathfinder in about a year, so there are a few other Paizo publications besides the Advanced Class Guide among the links below of possibilities that are new to me.  Please do not fuss.  This is what is new to me, not what is all new stuff.

The Unlettered Occultist Arcanist finally allows a character to excel a both healing and standard-action summoning.  (Here are two summoning guides.)  The feat Evolved Summon Monster allows adding tiny "evolutions" such as pounce, reach, bypassing DR/magic, a pair of claw attacks, or 1d6 bleed damage.

The Wild Child Brawler allows a "cleaned up monk" to have an animal companion.

A neutrally aligned Hex Channeler Gravewalker Witch with the Healing Patron and traits Student of Philosophy and Pragmatic Activator resembles a super-Cleric.  Heal your friends!  Take control of undead!  Be diplomatic and charming!  Cast both arcane and divine spells!  Use magic items superbly!  And at tenth level she can start using a flavorful version of the Druid's wildshape ability.

Student of Philosophy and Pragmatic Activator really helped that Witch.  There are yet more traits that move skills to Intelligence: Clever Wordplay, Precise Treatment, and Bruising Intellect.

The new feat Orator also can help an intelligence-based character excel in social situations.

The Psychic Searcher Oracle gains a big bonus to social skills and can use the Empathy ability for an absurdly large bonus to the Sense Motive skill.  He does not really read your mind and predict your future, but it seems that way.  If he has the Lore mystery with the new trait Irrepressible and new feats Noble Scion (War) and Divine Protection, he has incredible saving throw and initiative bonuses.  (Thanks, Andrew.)

An Undine Steam Caster Waves Shaman (or Spirit Guide Oracle) can knock down foes with any water or fire spell.  But the Spirit Guide archetype is more often used with the Lore Spirit to give the Oracle Wizard spells each morning.

An Empiricist Investigator with the Student of Philosophy trait uses Intelligence for every mental skill.  And judging from the picture above, he has good taste in boots, too.

The sixth level Buccaneer Arbiter Bard retains inspire courage while also excelling at subduing foes and/or making extra attacks.  He uses Paired Opportunists (level 2 bonus), Broken Wing Gambit, and Outflank (level 6 bonus).  Once per day he can "nova" using his Knock Out ability while doing typically lethal damage.

The prestige class Evangelist is almost an archetype.  It advances the character's original class abilities as the new class advances in level (with a one-level delay).

Many classes have an archetype with the new Martial Flexability ability.

Sorcerers can now use either Intelligence or Wisdom instead of Charisma.  An Orc Witch can use Constitution as a casting ability score!

Crossblooded Bloodragers can threaten with 25 feet of reach.  Cast the long arm and enlarge person spells.  Have the aberrant and black blood bloodlines for two abilities both named "abnormal reach".

The Soul Warden prestige class turns any spellcaster into an undead-fighting hero.

The Harrow Warden monk, at fifteenth level, can punch someone to polymorph them into a small and harmless creature.  The archetype also stacks with Master of Many Styles.

Barbarians can now multiclass as Monks.

The Fighter archetype Savage Warrior begs to gestalt with Druid.

The recent ruling about early entry to prestige classes provides several nice Eldritch Knight options, described here, and several very quick Mystic Theurge options, described here.  Those two prestige classes are now very nice instead of a debilitating trap.

Other New Options

There is now a feat to reward a character for dramatically kicking in a door.

Some story feats look like a lot of fun.  My favorites are Truth Seeker and Artifact Hunter.  It is easy to imagine a character who uses both of those, with the discovered ancient knowledge including the location of a long-missing artifact.  Automatic checks to notice secret doors is a novel and useful ability.

(The low-level spell and item that detect secret doors are seldom used because they require concentration.  The high-level spell has limited range.)

The human-only feat Racial Heritage now has many more race feats, race traits, and class archetypes to work with.

Barbarians have two new ways to get extra rage rounds.  But they also seldom need this...

A character with the Optimistic Gambler and Community Minded traits has morale bonuses from his or her spells and abilities last an extra d4+2 rounds.

(Barbarians and Bloodragers dance with joy, because most combats do not last more than four rounds, so they only need to spend one round of rage or bloodrage for those morale bonuses.  The Group Leader and a Flagbearer also smile.)

The feat Raging Blood allows anyone to rage!  It can also help when charging, or can add staggering, sickened, or confused to a critical hit.  What a great deal for any character wanting who specializes in critical hits.

Continuing the raging goodness, the teamwork feat Spirit of the Corps might allow any nearby ally to share in the rage/bloodrage!  (But it is clearly meant to instead share the spells wrath, aid, heroism, righteous vigor, and especially the Paladin spells rally point and saddle surge.)

The feat Feral Heart can increase the rage morale bonus to some ability and skill checks (including initiative) from raging by +2.

The feat Experimental Spellcaster can allow a Cleric or Oracle to use the word-equivalent spell of animate dead at third level (two levels early).

Druids could already use wild shape to pounce at level six (including with five attacks as a deinonychus).  The new Pummeling Charge feat means Monks and Brawlers at level eight could effectively charge then full attack.  Other martial characters need to wait to level twelve to get Pummeling Charge.  (Somewhat similar--and perhaps mixable--is the Scout Rogue, who can add sneak attack damage to a charge at level four.)

With two feats any character can have an animal companion.  (Three feats if you count Boon Companion.)

There is a new wolf combat style that allows a ninth level melee character the equivalent of casting bestow curse.  Combine this with the new feat Dirty Trick Master to do a ton of melee debuffing!  The rage power Savage Dirty Trick adds even more for a barbarian!

Want to play with darkness?  A weretiger, tiefling or fetchling can now see in supernatural darkness, as can some barbarians.  (There is also a spell.)  Cast deeper darkness or throw an Alchemist's darkness bomb and attack your foes who are lost in the dark!

The feats Summon Good Monster and Summon Neutral Monster are both strong alone and add more summons with alignment subtypes for the feat Sacred Summons.

There are some stupidly potent spells.  The most ridiculous is emergency force sphere.  Wizards are no longer fearful and fragile!  Also tied for first is a spontaneous caster using paragon surge to get the feat Expanded Arcana, making available any needed utility spell.

How about ice magic that takes advantage of some overpowered spells?  Use the Marid or Rime-Blooded bloodline for a Sorcerer or Blood Arcanist.  The new spells snowball, flurry of snowballs, and frost fall are very potent.  Add Rime Spell metamagic.  At sixth level a Rime Spell flurry of snowballs fills a thirty foot cone with 4d6 damage and two rounds of entangling!  That calls out for the Magical Lineage trait to keep it in second-level spell slots.

The ice spell ice slick replaces grease as the best spell to make foes flat-footed.  Your spellcaster can be the sneak attacker's best friend!

Here is a silly example with only slight early entry.  Let's make an extra strange and spooky necromancer Big Bad Evil Guy for sixth level.  Use a Half-Elf with the Drow Magic alternate racial trait who can cast darkness, to qualify for arcane early entry into Mystic Theurge.  Take one level of School Savant Arcanist with the Undead school and then four levels of Blight Druid with the Death domain to put animate dead on its Druid spell list.  Start Mystic Theurge at sixth level.  No one expects the necromancer to spend four hours of the day in the shape of a animal!  At sixth level it can be a Dire Badger able to dig through stone to flee and become a recurring villain.  As with any Mystic Theurge who has animate dead on two spell lists, it will enjoy two "buckets" of caster level for amassing a double-sized horde of minions.  (Personally, I would alter him to be an Arcane Bomber Wizard who drop-kicks the bombs while a Dire Badger.  But that is probably not legit.)

Also, let's count the ways a spellcaster can boost its caster level for the animate dead spell without magical equipment.  Traits: Gifted Adept and Signature Spell.  Feats: Undead Master, Spell Specialization and Theurgy.  Spells: death knell.  That's +10 caster level, available as early as fifth level with the human bonus feat.  And because of the odd wording of animate dead, if (5+10) x 2 = 30 hit dice of undead are animated in one casting they all stay under the control of that fifth level character.  Yes, that exceeds the 5 x 4 = 20 hit dice a fifth level character can normally control using animate dead, but only any undead created with previous castings of the spell become out of control.

Finally, there is a feat named Eldrich Researcher to encourage PCs to design spells.

OCCA Developmental Education Report

One of my LCC Math division colleagues is part of the Oregon Department of Community Colleges and Workforce Development Developmental Education Redesign.

How is that for a mouthful?  They do have a website that is much friendlier than their name.

Their job is to help students needing remedial math or writings skills succeed at the state's community colleges.  Every few years they present an official report of suggestions.

(Since representatives from all of the community colleges collaborate on the project, these "suggestions" are more accurately "non-binding consensus goals".)

The most recent report was finished in August, and does not yet seem to be on their website.

But if you are curious, here is the section about community college math departments.
Long developmental math sequences are a barrier to success for countless students. Eliminating these sequences and accelerating student enrollment in college-level gateway courses can be achieved through a variety of strategies: redesigning curricula to reduce the number of required courses or the amount of time required to complete them, requiring or rewarding early and sustained attempts at math coursework, modifying pedagogy, incorporating support services to increase course success rates, and training students in college success strategies, among other approaches. Although each institution must adopt practices and policies appropriate to their local context, one strategy that is likely to have a large positive impact is for each campus to establish a separate, more accelerated pathway through developmental math for students in non-STEM degree fields.

Non-STEM students must have access to mathematics experiences appropriate to their chosen career paths. Alternate mathematics pathways will reduce the number of exit points and decrease time to graduation. Therefore, the Developmental Education Redesign Work Group urges each campus and the state of Oregon to consider strongly the following recommendations:

1. Create an alternate non-STEM pathway appropriate for the student population and mission of each college. These pathways would offer courses that prepare students to succeed in a college-level liberal arts mathematics course such as Math 105, Contemporary Math.

2. Change the requirement that “any transferrable 100-level mathematics course that satisfies the Associate of Arts Oregon Transfer (AAOT) degree must have a prerequisite of Intermediate Algebra or a Quantitative Literacy course.” Currently, for a mathematics course to satisfy the Associate of Arts Oregon Transfer (AAOT) degree, it must have a prerequisite of Intermediate Algebra, Math 095. This implies that all degree-seeking students, regardless of degree field, must complete the traditional pre-calculus course sequence before attempting a gateway mathematics course.

3. Agree that Math 105 fulfills the Baccalaureate Core Requirement in Mathematics for all non-STEM four-year degrees at all Oregon public colleges.

4. Convene under the leadership of OCCA mathematics faculty representatives from Oregon two-year and public four-year institutions during the fall to clarify and improve consistency in the outcomes for Math 105 and ensure that Math 105 provides appropriate and sufficient mathematics education for non-STEM students.
Sound helpful to you?

The Imagination Library Comes to Eugene

On Friday, Smiley and Gallant were on television.

The Eugene Library has started participating in the Imagination Library program, a non-profit founded by Dolly Parton to get books to the homes of young children.

When at a Wednesday morning library singing and story time for three-year-olds, a librarian asked if any family would volunteer to help provide background footage for the KEZI report on the program.

Smiley and Gallant were happy to help.  We were a terrible choice demographically, as our home is already overflowing with books.  But the reported only cared that cute kids are cute kids.

LCC Enrollment Plunge?

LCC posts its annual enrollment statistics on its website.

On my blog I tend to instead share when a Fall term has notably higher or lower enrollment than the Fall term of the preceding year.

I mentioned that enrollment went up 20% in Fall 2009 (compared to Fall 2008) as the recession got worse and more adults needed career-related education because they or their spouse were dealing with job loss or instability.  The above chart showed that actually only became a 2.4% increase for the 2009 academic year.

I mentioned that enrollment down 10% in Fall 2013 (compared to Fall 2012) when new and wise restrictions kept students from using Federal financial aid without a long-term plan.  That became a -9.6% decrease for the 2013 academic year.

A recent e-mail to LCC staff from Adrienne Mitchell shared that enrollment is currently down about 20% for Fall 2014.  The term does not begin until the end of September, so that number may still change.  I wonder if the decrease will really be that large for either the upcoming term or the overall year.

Smoky Weekend

There are currently two large wildfires burning near enough to make the Willamette Valley smoky.

Summary news from kval and InciWeb.

Air quality measurements from LRAPA.  As I type the local air quality is at "61 moderate".  Yesterday's high got to "101 high" so the boys played inside most of the day.