What I learned this month: Adopting owned pets

In February we had crazy cold weather here in Michigan – not as bad as some places, but cold enough that when I looked outside one morning and saw a cat wandering through the snow, I knew I had to put something out for it. We found an old cat carrier downstairs, put some old towels in it, and put it out on the front porch near the garage access door, to keep it out of the wind. We put out some old cat food that our picky eaters wouldn’t touch anymore.

The next day the food was gone, so we replenished it.

For the month of February we had about five or six neighborhood cats come and go regularly. We didn’t always see them. Sometimes it was just a mass of paw prints in the snow around the food bowl that was now miraculously empty. We named all of the cats, but our most common visitors were:

  • Tux – a lifelong neighborhood cat, the roughest guy on the block
  • Shadow – a small, polydactyl black cat
  • Mandarin – a small orange tabby, to whom we assigned Most Likely to be Trapped Twice With Food
  • Flerken – a tiny (seriously tiny) gray tabby, who got very pregnant at some point and disappeared for a month or so

This continued into March, as the cold clung to the area. By April, we were down to two regular visitors and one permanent tenant.

We had long suspected that Shadow had been, at one point, indoors. She was quick to trust us, liked to be around us, and seemed generally less adapted to being outdoors. By May, she was happily playing with us on the porch, rubbing our legs, letting us pet her.

I was quickly infatuated. I mean…a tiny black cat. Polydactyl. I never stood a chance.

As summer continued, we sometimes saw Tux, but ultimately Shadow was the only one left, and she made it clear she had adopted us. She lived on our porch. She had regular feeding times. I wanted to bring her inside, and the long process started in late June.

For those of you uninitiated in the cat world – cats are NOT easy to integrate with an existing colony of cats. While we only had two, they were still basically a colony. And that’s the least of potential issues.

FIV, Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, is one major concern. Most commonly spread via bites from infected cats, it’s similar to HIV. Cats infected with FIV can live normal lives, so long as they avoid infections, especially from major concern #2 – Feline Leukemia. Shadow herself does not fit the bill of a common carrier; because FIV is most commonly passed via a bite, outdoor males are the must susceptible. But she was outside with males, and it was certainly possible that she would have gotten it.

Concern #2, Feline Leukemia (FeLV) is also transmitted via bites, but it can ALSO be transmitted via normal behaviors, like mutual grooming.

House cats are usually vaccinated against these viruses, and they are at less risk most of the time, being kept inside with other cats that have been vaccinated.

But before bringing Shadow inside, we needed to be sure. We had gained her trust enough for me to pick her up, and on July 1, I was able to put her in a carrier and take her to the vet.

We had a lot to check on, so I wasn’t too surprised when they whisked her away to the back and 10 minutes rolled by. 15. 20. At which point the vet returned to tell me that they had found a microchip and were tracking down her owner.

It had always been a possibility, of course.

What I had not considered was that the owner would be found and would agree that, since we had been caring for her for the past 6 months, she was likely better off staying with us. So on July 1, I came home with a new cat.

Test results started coming in.

  • No FIV
  • No FeLV
  • We started her on a dewormer, and by the time we were able to get a sample to the vet, she was free of those, too

And I went through the process of transferring her microchip data to us. That was an exercise, but it was much easier than I thought it would be.

So now here we are, outnumbered and loving it.

I have always believed that we are chosen by our furry friends and not the other way around, and I think this past month has simply proven that.

 

 

What I learned this week: Airport Runway Capacity

Over the past year, I have flown to and from New York 7 times. That doesn’t seem like a very large number unless, like me, you prefer the comforts of home and Electric Hero subs from a few blocks away.

Being in Grand Rapids, my direct flight options are a little bit limited. Specifically I can go to Newark, or I can go to LaGuardia. Or I can do a multi-leg journey to JFK. Since interviewing at Arkus, I’ve chosen LGA every time except one time going to Newark and questioning my life choices the entire time.

LaGuardia has been undergoing MASSIVE reconstruction since I started flying out there in 2016, and it has made traveling through the place a greater headache each time. If the standard traffic weren’t enough, you now have to compete against road closures, construction zones, and entire areas of the airport being suddenly inaccessible after they were there two months ago. Keeps me on my toes, that’s for sure.

On my last visit, I couldn’t help but wonder, sitting at a standstill in a line of cars, waiting to exit the airport grounds, and looking at brightly colored signs happily declaring that “a better LaGuardia is coming!” just how long this could possible go on. What sort of purgatory are collectively experiencing? So I Googled it, and apparently I’m not the first one to do this, since the suggestion was immediate.

2022. By the way. 

The part that intrigued me…that’s not fair. It was actually fascinating. The original airport was built in the 1920s, which blew my mind because…did Queens need an airport then? Apparently. The next terminal was built in the 60s, then then 80s, and finally the 90s, and so they ended up with this Tetris kind of place. Not the point.

The part that REALLY piqued my interest was a line toward the end that they are going to add 2 miles of runway, which will help increase the airport’s capacity and decrease some of the issues they have with delays. (Did I mention that I read this while my flight was delayed by over an hour? Yeah. So at least I could understand the root cause.)

What does that have to do with anything, though? How would two miles really have an impact?

As it turns out, this is a Thing. Like an FAA thing. They produce semi-regular Airport Capacity Profiles (last updated in 2014) that determine, based on things like runway space and layout, just how many flights any given airport has actual capacity for. Specifically these reports identify the maximum capacity within a single hour of operation. These overall capacity reports are then broken down by things like weather conditions (visual, marginal, and instrument), realistic operational conditions, and even external factors that may have improved capacity since the last overview.

And you bet they have one for LaGuardia. I read it. But it didn’t quite explain how the two miles of runway would improve performance, so I had to keep looking.

Did you know StackExchange has a whole Aviation subdomain?

LaGuardia currently operates 22 arrival runways and 13 departure runways. Adding two miles of space to increase the number could have a positive effect on the capacity of the airport, but adding runways alone does not solve the problem. For instance, depending on the layout of the runways – parallel or perpendicular – you may have better capacity when the weather is cooperating (parallel) or more options and better sustained capacity when weather is less than ideal (perpendicular).

The mix of aircraft sizes could have an impact. If a very large, heavy aircraft lands, it produces more wake turbulence than a smaller craft, so having a larger variety could mean smaller planes have to wait longer.

The sequencing of arrivals and departures – how many planes are arriving vs. leaving? Will we have room for them? Better get that right.

Sequencing across airports – LaGuardia is in what’s considered the NY/NY/PHL airspace, which supports flights to LGA, JFK, EWR, and PHL. And as it turns out, big freaking flying machines need room to maneuver, so it’s not just the flights into and out of LaGuardia that need to be considered.

Runway exits. Wind strength in the area. Noise constraints. Lateral separation. So. Many. Things.

By the time I read through the capacity report, learned from the experts on Stack Exchange, and took a moment to consider all of the other things going on around a tarmac, I realized two things.

  1. It is very unlikely that adding two miles to the runways at LaGuardia will have THAT big of an impact.
  2. It is kind of a miracle that we ever get anywhere when it comes to flying, so maybe be nicer to the folks at the desk.

What I learned this week: Data Skew

Disclaimer: In the spirit of full transparency, I learned about data skew a little while ago. But the whole point is “what I learned this week.” In some cases, “this week,” just refers to this week in time…like…last week, last month, whatever.

My first brush with NPSP was as a consultant. I remember very clearly thinking that some of the features would have been very handy for my B2B sales staff back in the day. In a lot of ways it was love at first sight. I still get prickly when people say mean things about it…

[Insert about a half hour of me looking for the best option for a “Don’t talk to me or my son ever again” meme before realizing there could potentially be a better use for my time.]

That said, the first time I started getting error emails at about 2am was ALSO around this time.

You know, this one:

Message: “First error: Update failed. First exception on row 0 with id 001……………; first error: UNABLE_TO_LOCK_ROW, unable to obtain exclusive access to this record or 1 records: 001…………….: []”

And I was flummoxed. What does that even mean? Why are you locking anything? Who said that you needed exclusive rights? And what does this have to do with merging records?

For a while I sort of…ignored it. Honestly it would run again at some point, right? It rarely happened more than once for the same record.

Sometimes I would have dozens of them. Usually right after some major data change or something. I suspected they were related, but I had other pressing concerns, and eventually everything would be sorted.

Over time I filled in the blanks. Unable to lock row meant that whatever the code was trying to do, it couldn’t get update access to the record.

If I spent more than 30 seconds on it, it made sense. A record cannot be edited by more than one person at a time, so why would it make an exception (ha ha – get it?) for custom code.

And then again, for a while, I left it at that.

Enter Data Architect Trailmix, stage right.

A super important part of the large data volume considerations that are discussed in the data architect arena is the concept of data skew. And as I read about it, I was taken back to a project early on, a move from the Starter Pack and a bucket model to NPSP with Household Accounts.

This client was looking to upgrade to the new success pack. They had been using the bucket model for YEARS – more than 50,000 contacts all inelegantly shoved into this single Account called “Individual.”

It was difficult to report on things. It took forever for the record to load.

I knew that there was a correlation, but I could not, especially at that time, explain what it was. I had a sense that having to many child records was a bad thing. I didn’t know what to call it. And I wouldn’t know, until years later, that that very situation was what caused errors during the overnight batch processing.

Data skew occurs when we have too many child records, plain and simple. It has an impact on loading time (you try showing a record and querying tens of thousands of records at one time), reporting, and…yes, automation.

It doesn’t exactly help me fix the errors all the time. Sometimes it’s just bad timing, and not even because of data skew. But putting a name to something makes it more accessible, less concerning.

Carry on, NPSP. Carry on.

What I learned about this week: E3

Look at me, sticking with this idea of sharing the things I learn each….week….ish.

And really, I’ve learned a lot this week. I’ve been studying for some exams, been setting up some new third party applications I haven’t used before. That’s cool.

Know what’s even cooler? E3. E3 is infinitely cooler. To an extent, anyway. I mean I don’t GO because…people. But I can watch all of the announcements via the wonders of the world wide web, and here are the things that I learned.

Bethesda is still just…really wanting me to buy Fallout 76. It’s not going to happen, Todd. It’s just not. Best overview of their announcements? Right here, from the Onion.

Sony wasn’t at E3, but we still got to see the Final Fantasy VII remake from Square Enix, which is exclusive to Playstation.

BORDERLANDS 3. OUTER WORLDS.

But what has really stuck with me is that the new Cyberpunk 2077 trailer and RELEASE DATE melts my face right off. It’s just gone. My face has been replaced with a constantly shocked and impatient look of wonder.

Have you seen it?

I didn’t know that a game trailer would ever be able to do that. But here we are. Just in case, I’ll probably go watch the trailer a couple of more times…see if there’s anything else I can pick up before this week is over.

Morning Routines

I was just looking at my basic Twitter feed, and amidst the Salesforce and Mass Effect and election posts, there was a Promoted Tweet from the Wall Street Journal –

(I’m sure you’ve all seen the article in the journal, but I want to stress that it’s all conjecture. 

My feelings journal?

Michael, he means the Wall Street Journal.

Oh. The Wall.)

– interviewing the CEO of Slack, and the first question they asked was “What is the first thing you do in the morning?”

It just got me thinking about causality, causation, correlation, all of those fun C words that are similar but different. (Connotatively speaking, but also concretely.)

I seem to see a lot of things like this. People want to measure success by common threads of habits, and while there is likely something to that – successful people tend to work hard, sure – it also contributes to imbalance of power.

Because here is the thing.

I work hard. Absolutely. I don’t even have time to update this blog so often anymore because my job keeps me busy. But I ALSO worked hard when I worked at Geek Squad, and most people would not want to interview me when I was in that job to capture the things that made me successful. Strictly speaking, at that point in time, most people would not have seen me as successful. The way people spoke to me when I had that job definitely made that clear.

I am not even close to being the first person to point this out, and I won’t be the last. But asking a white guy what he does in the morning, and correlating that to his success in the tech industry, just isn’t meaningful.

I honestly don’t know how he answered because I really didn’t care. Most of the answers are irrelevant. Because what they do in the morning isn’t what makes them successful.

A working single mother who isn’t leading a Fortune 500 company probably has more on her plate in the morning. If she made enough money, sure, she might meditate or read the paper or whatever, but she doesn’t. Her morning probably starts just as early, and maybe she makes lunch for her kids, and then she gets them ready for school, sees them off, and then goes to work. Or maybe she has to be at work so early that she can’t do those things for her kids.

Asking an already successful person who started life on Easy mode is like asking a native language speaker how they managed to get those pesky verb conjugations right. Sure they had to practice and learn, they probably made mistakes, but since most everyone around them was speaking the same language, it made it easier.

I don’t begrudge the guy his success. And I’m not implying he doesn’t work hard. I AM saying that morning routines mean less than I think people give them credit for, and I’m also saying that I am just really tired of seeing those things come up on my Twitter dashboard.

Online Proctoring: My Horror Story

I enjoy my creature comforts. I like working from my couch some days, with blankets all bundled around me, feet propped up, and a cup of coffee nearby. Most importantly I like all of those things in my own house. If offered an opportunity to get coffee at a fancy coffeeshop or make myself a cup of Chock Full O’ Nuts at home, I’m going to pick home. Every time.

So when I learned that certification could be done from home, those many years ago, I signed up immediately. The first online proctored exam I took was not actually for Salesforce. It was my Marketo Certified Expert exam, and I took it in December after signing up for a training course that came with a voucher. I figured it couldn’t hurt. And given that December is prime time for crap weather, I was excited, despite the “it’s not awesome” warnings available online. How bad could it be?

Well…

First my webcam just stopped working. It had been fine, doing its thing, and literally just before it was time for me to sit down and show my stuff, it stopped.

Kryterion was super chill. Their support team rescheduled my exam for an hour later, and I ran out to get a new webcam. Done.

Fun fact: new webcams are better than old webcams. The resolution on my new one was too good, in that it couldn’t match my face because the old picture I had on file for facial recognition didn’t have as high a resolution.

No worries. Super awesome support team reset that. Face recognized. Typing recognized. It was time to take the test. Aced it.

When it came time to take my first Salesforce exam, I figured I had worked out the kinks and could handle anything.

Well…

I just couldn’t log in! After about three or four attempts, calling support, and still not being able to access my exam, we discovered there was a server error on their side. They told me they would reschedule my exam (for free, again, thank you super awesome support team!) and call me when I would be able to log in.

I made myself a drink and watched an episode of the Office. I was halfway through my vodka-cran when they called and said I could get started. Aced it.

I took a few onsite exams after that. Switching it up, I guess. But the testing location was not a huge step up from the headaches I’d had at home, so it was back to online for me.

Testing with a Mac is different. Testing with the new MacBook Pro (with its nearly universally despised Thunderbolt 3 ONLY connections) is actually impossible. Literally. If your external webcam (which you have to use) is connected via a dongle (which is has to be), the feed won’t go through.

For my Pardot exam, it took us about 2 hours to troubleshoot. If not for the super awesome support team at Kryterion, I would still be in the fetal position upstairs. I ended up needing to use the gaming computer to take my exam. Sweet graphics, anyway. I still had to stop like five times to adjust where the camera was or the microphone volume, or whatever.

I’m really not trying to scare you off. Legitimately not my purpose here. But I want you to KNOW what you’re getting into, if you go the online route.

First of all, your test may go way smoother. I had at least two that went off without a hitch. But just in case, keep these things in mind:

  1. If you have a brand new MacBook Pro, just plan on taking the exam onsite or with a cheap-o PC you pick up at Best Buy for like $200.
  2. When they say that you should buy their specific webcam…consider it. I didn’t. I had to buy one last minute, and I just wasn’t going to reschedule. But they have one that works, so you might as well.
  3. Download Sentinel and do your “biometric scan” in advance but not TOO in advance. Like two or three days beforehand is fine. But if you sign up for the exam in June to take in November, just wait.
  4. Be prepared to spend some time getting INTO the exam.
  5. Be prepared to be interrupted DURING the exam to fix something.
  6. Lean heavily on the support staff there. They really are awesome, really patient, and they have the answers.
  7. Be NICE to the support staff. Their job sucks. They just watch a bunch of under-dressed, maybe showered, work-from-home people take exams and get mad all day. And they can help.
  8. Maybe make a drink beforehand?
  9. Definitely eat beforehand – it might be HOURS before you get another chance.
  10. Be prepared to retake the exam. After fighting with computers and getting interrupted and feeling like NOTHING YOU DO IS WORKING, you might not be in the best place to take an exam…so be patient with yourself, too.

Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment, but I’ll probably continue doing the online proctored exams. That is how much I hate driving in snow.

 

DnDF17 Episode 3: To the smithy

Previously on DnDF…AKA better late than never

Screen Shot 2017-12-29 at 8.37.57 AM

The temple district was in disarray, but the members of Bacon Ipsum had to continue their work. Dwarves were moving out of the streets, and while the team wanted to know their destination, Trailblazer had a bad feeling about the growing glow near her former mentor’s blacksmith forge. They were, of course, not in the same direction.

“There’s some work to be done tonight, and I think it’s on us to stop the invasion. I don’t see anybody else,” Datatello began, “maybe we should move to the fight? That’s what we do – as Bacon Ipsum!”

Kriv sighed, “So you’re saying…for free? You want us to resist for free?”

“Not for free! For the experience!”

“I can’t spend experience-”

“It’s more valuable! It’s invaluable…kind of like infamous. More famous. More than.”

“Resisting for free is futile,” the wizard argued.

Trailblazer watched the argument for a while. She tapped on the wrist device that they had received, putting her ear to it, hoping for something. No sounds came.

Datatello stared down at his new medallion, then thoughtfully at Kriv, “Hey that reminds me! Kriv, let’s do one of your funny jokes. I need an owner’s manual for this cool medallion that Erikuhl gave me.”

“An…owner’s manual? For the medallion?”

“Well, yeah. Documentation should exist for anything with a specific use, right?”

With a sigh, Kriv reached into his beleaguered cloak and pulled out a brown pile of rubber. He dropped it, rolling his eyes, then waved the half-orc closer, so he could study the medallion. It was old – older than any existing civilization, back to pre-history.

“It’s old. Ancient.”

It was a puzzle medallion, the magic reliant upon the shape of the puzzle, but more than that he couldn’t quite put together.

Hearing the conversation, Bakaryu looked over, and something about Kriv’s remarks sparked a memory. She recognized the shape, the icon itself, and from what she knew of the Nameless Generation, this was a symbol of their royalty, of a great deed. She shared her memories with the duo.

Bristled, either from not knowing more or just his natural impatience, Kriv grumbled, “Just wear the thing and let’s go.”

Trailblazer, for her part, was still concerned about her mentor – was he still there? Had he been turned into one of those…things? After confirming that there was no further support coming, the party set out, moving swiftly toward the smith’s shop.

The streets were empty, smoke hanging low in the air, as they made their way toward the water. Their journey went uninterrupted, though the heat became oppressive.

The forge itself was not on fire, the stone of the building naturally absorbing heat, but the buildings nearby were likely close to collapsing, not to mention the blacksmith’s home itself.

As they approached, a figure came into view, prone on the ground. Checking her concern and speed, the dwarf moved forward to investigate the figure. He twitched, an arm moving to push itself up. When his hand contacted the floor, the stone beneath was absorbed into his skin, moving and breaking up to cover pieces of himself. His other hand landed on a nearby anvil for support, the metal then melting away and similarly slithering up his hand. Stone or metal that he touched simply became him.

Datatello grunted in concern, “Trailblazer, maybe you should get away.”

At his suggestion, the dwarf backed away, calling out uncertainly, “Jarl?”

The blacksmith cocked his head, then turned, one eye now replaced with the angry red of a ruby. The eye that remained was glassy, almost unfocused, as it landed on her, “Can fix you.”

At those words, his blacksmith’s apron shifted, then opened on his back; a series of metallic arms extended, four in total, each with blacksmith tools or weapons at the end.

Cloudy panicked at the sight and ran forward, head down to ram into their attacker. One of the arms swung out to bat her away, making Trailblazer grunt in anger.

Datatello then rushed forward, striking out with his bo staff. Two of the arms lashed out to block the blows, as Jarl’s attention focused intently on Trailblazer. The half-orc struck out with his hand, at that point. He landed a solid blow, but with the metal and stone covering him, it did little to the dwarf.

Bakaryu was hot on the monk’s heals, raising her hand in the air. As she did, vines erupted from the ground around Jarl, wrapping tight around him and his arms. While the sight was impressive, Brunhilde’s eyes were pulled repeatedly to his worktable, where a beautifully crafted short bow was sitting. What was it doing there?

She sprinted toward the table and grabbed the strange item. It felt….right, like an extension of herself, as though it had been made for her. She knew the name of it immediately. Thunder. It was powerful in a way she couldn’t pinpoint yet.

She was closer than she’d like, but she took the shot. The arrow vibrated, almost shook, against her hand. Despite the strange vibration, the arrow soared straight, hitting its intended target. Jarl clearly recognized the bow because he visibly steeled himself, bracing for impact. A resonating BOOM followed the release of the arrow, and for a moment, his eye cleared, “Brunhilde?”

It was a short-lived return to normalcy.

Two bladed arms swung out at Datatello, each of them slashing him. A third, vice-like arm, reached down to grab Brunhilde, pinching her elbow in a way that set her nerves on fire. She gasped in pain and dropped back, unable to move.

Watching all of this was Kriv, becoming increasingly agitated. He muttered to his cloak, “I know this isn’t how it works, but we have to stop this dwarf. We have to do something.”

He reached into his robe and removed a strange, metallic wand of some sort. It was a cylinder, with wrappings on one end that may have been a handle. Unsure what else to do, he pointed the end of the wand at Jarl, and they all watched a beam of light erupt from the point. The light burned through two of the arms, as well as the wall beyond it. The wand drooped, and smoke began to pour out of the cloak. But damage had been done.

Cloudy saw her own opportunity, as the metal arms fell away. She cried out and bolted forward, head down, and pummeled into the dwarf’s side. Jarl grunted and fell, all of the metal arms going limp.

After a moment, Brunhilde moved forward. She deftly grabbed the needles that sprang out to infect her, and Cloudy bit them clean through. She turned him over, relieved to see that his eye was clear.

“Brunhilde,” he coughed, “you came back.”

“Of course! Of course I did. So…what’s going on?” Her guilt leaked out as awkward nonchalance.

“Oh, you know, just…”

“Oh, um, one second. Bakaryu, can you do that…thing…again?”

The dragonborn smiled and stepped forward, again channeling the power of her deity and cleansing the foulness from the dwarf. The metal and stone did not disappear, but his color returned, and with it, clarity. He reached out to grab Brunhilde’s shoulder, “Your father. Your father came.”

“Oh?” she frowned, “About?”

“He did this. I don’t know…what’s compelled him, but he came, and he was commanding the others.”

“Where did he go?”

“When I refused to answer, to give him your whereabouts, he did this to me. I did not see where he went. He did say something about a distraction.”

“Are you…will you be ok?”

“I will…make it.”

After a moment’s consideration, Brunhilde looked to Bakaryu and Datatello, “Can you help me? We can get him to the temple district.”

The paladin and monk helped the dwarf up, holding some of his weight, as they made their way through the abandoned streets. Jarl and Brunhilde continued their conversation about her father, as they went. He wasn’t himself. He was using big words. None of it sounded right.

At the temple, they got Jarl settled and got themselves healed.

“Be careful,” Jarl offered before they set out again, “I can feel the call still. Whatever it is…it’s powerful.”

Brunhilde smiled, “It’s alright. We’ve got some great magic users in this group.”

She pointedly ignored Kriv’s desperately shaking the still-spent wand and burning his foot with a randomly spouted flame. They had great magic users. Thinking it enough would make it true.

“We need a plan,” she sighed.

As if on cue, the bracer on her arm lit up. She looked down, then waved to her companions, “Hey! We have contact.”

Garbled sound came through for a moment. After a couple of a seconds, a clearer, “Who’s  there? Is anyone there?” came through.

The ranger blinked and started poking at the bracer, hoping to respond. At contact with the bracer, it began to vibrate, and she leaned in, “Bacon Ipsum is here, reporting in.”

“This is Captain Wolverton. Who is this?”

“It’s Trailblazer! Bacon Ipsum. Datatello, Kriv, Bakaryu, Flash-”

“Oh. Oh yes,” the captain responded, though her enthusiasm seemed diminished.

“We happen to know what’s going on,” Brunhilde muttered, as others checked in.

Wolverton gave her own update – fires were centered on the Exchange, and everyone was to report there.

“So…this is the distraction, right?” Trailblazer turned to her own crew.

Bakaryu nodded, ‘The dwarves were heading in the opposite direction.”

“We have to convince them.”

All eyes turned to the dragonborn, who had proven time and again to be the most persuasive of all them, and Trailblazer and held her arm up as high as she could to capture her words.

“Listen,” Bakaryu started, “we know what’s going on. We’ve had intelligence in the field; we have an insider who knows what’s going on with the dwarves, that there is a distraction. This seems like a big distraction. We saw dwarves going the other way. This is obviously a trap.”

“Who is this?”

“Bakaryu.”

“Who?”

“Bacon Impsum!” Trailblazer shouted.

“I am a paladin of noble birth.”

“And where do you suggest we go?”

“In the direction of the dwarves.”

“And where is that? Are they traveling South for the winter?”

Brunhilde frowned, unamused.

“Toward the Scrum.” It was a guess, but it was the only major landmark in that direction.

After a pause, “Ok. All forces except for Bacon Ipsum, head to the Exchange. Bacon Ipsum, I will meet you there.”

Kriv near sprinted toward Trailblazer, shouting at her bracer, “Will we be paid?”

But the line was dead.

“Don’t worry,” Brunhilde reassured, “we’re going to a dwarven structure. There’s going to be so much loot.”

With nothing more to do except go, the party headed in the direction of the Scrum.