100 Years Too Long

On election day let’s gather round as Californians and celebrate for a moment how important our voices are and that the be heard. How important our massive crop of electoral votes are and how influential they are in selecting the next leader of the Free World. Let’s also consider whether any of that is the case.

Many have argued that the electoral college system undervalues the votes of people in highly-populated states, with small (low-population) states having more electors per capita than large (high-population) states. That’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about the actual effect of how California uses our piece of the pie. To take an arbitrary round number, let’s take a look back at the past 25 presidential contests from 1916 to 2016. A full century of results that encompass many shifts in norms, changes in party policies, and societal development. Pardon the table.

YearWinnerOur PickOur VotesWinning Margin
1988H.W. BushH.W. Bush47315
1992B. ClintonB. Clinton54202
1996B. ClintonB. Clinton54220
2000W. BushGore545
2004W. BushKerry5535
2016trumpH. Clinton5577

A pattern emerges. For every election in which California’s votes went to the winner, the race was won by more electoral votes than California contributed. In each case, had California simply not selected our electors the results would have stood.

In which of those years would flipping California have changed the outcome? Flipping a state is a big deal; not only do you deny your opponent those electors but you gain them yourself. Remove from consideration the elections that didn’t go with California (1960, 1976, 2000, 2004, and 2016). Those races would have gone the same way with the winner getting extra votes. If California had flipped in 1916 Charles Evan Hughes would have been elected. If we had flipped in 1976 Gerald Ford would have been re-elected.

I propose we Californians calm down a bit about how the presidential vote gets tallied this year and in the foreseeable future. For presidential election purposes we are a protectorate, a non-voting territory that acts as a campaign piggy bank and little more. This isn’t a partisan matter. Republicans and Democrats alike have no cause to care about your vote at the top of the ticket.

Back to Eorzea

Seven years ago I had a Windows box rocking a Radeon 3400 video card that was working just fine for me, give or take. Then I saw that the successor to Final Fantasy XI was coming out. I had really enjoyed FFXI for a while, though I hadn’t played it in years at that point, and really looked forward to the new title. But there were rumors that the new title had some fairly intensive minimum specs. I downloaded the benchmark software, and lo it was true. Framerates plummeted. Particle effects stuttered. My little Radeon simply wasn’t up to the task, so I bit the bullet and got myself a modest but respectable GTX 460 that was up to the task. Alas, I’ve got no staying power when it comes to MMORPGs. I had stopped playing before they pulled the plug on the ill-fated original release.

Now I’m back. After ignoring multiple requests to try out A Realm Reborn, the re-launch of the game I had so looked forward to that I upgraded by home computer for it, I’ve come back to a strongly similar but greatly expanded, improved, and matured multiplayer game as a complete newbie. Things have changed in the MMO world. A lot of the issues I had with previous titles have been ironed out either through innovations in game design (the Duty Finder is particularly helpful) or simply by the ubiquity of online communities, wikis, and YouTube foolios putting tips & tricks at my fingertips. A little over three months in we’ve got a reasonably-competent new Whitemage / Paladin prowling the Thanalan Desert, marshalling troops for the Twin Adders, and generally making an ass of myself. Square Enix seems to have done a good job of nurturing a community of veteran players, feeding them new content that encourages them to help out us helpful newcomers in ways that I never came across in previous forays into a handful of older titles back in the day.

Packing for a Paladin


Something that came up a while back in a random 4chan thread, I found some notes while tidying up. What should a lady paladin take with her on a week-long excusrion?

Starting Equipment

Firstly we must consider equipment and resources already at hand1:

  • My arming sword Beatrix
  • My iron-rimmed oaken shield
  • Stout leather gauntlets 2
  • Bassinet2
  • Maille hauberk2
  • Gambeson2
  • Five javelins
  • A wooden holy symbol issued by my holy order
  • Backpack3
  • Bedroll3
  • Mess kit3
  • Tinderbox3
  • 10 Torches3
  • 10 days’ rations3
  • Waterskin3
  • 50′ Hempen rope3
  • A lacquered rosary the Sisters left with me when I was given over to my holy order4. I think it was my mother’s.
  • Book of Common Prayers4
  • 5 sticks of incense4
  • My habit4 (tunic, scapular, belt, underskirts, shoes)
  • My work clothes4 (dress, apron, belt, underskirts, hat, boots)
  • A velvet purse4
  • 15 gold crowns4

Altogether this leaves my backpack bursting at the seams. It can only hold 30 pounds, and the food and torches alone leave no room for the rest of my things. Clearly we will have to trim things down to something more workable.


Additional Items

Additional items to consider, reflecting outside suggestions:

  • Iron cooking pot
  • An extendible pole
  • Knife
  • Ball bearings (bag of 1,000)
  • Lamp
  • Flask of oil
  • Bag of 20 caltrops
  • Block and tackle
  • Whetstone
  • Fishing tackle
  • Weaver’s tools
  • Robes (poncho)
  • Healer’s Kit
  • Disguise kit

The mess kit is usable as a small cooking pot or pan. Enough for rice, beans or stew. A proper iron pot is ten pounds, bringing us back to the concern about luggage weight. Obviously I can pack smaller items inside it, so space isn’t the issue. I strongly prefer restaurants to camp cooking, but cooking and eating group meals could be nice for teambuilding and forging common bonds with my fellow travelers.

The commissary doesn’t have any collapsible or extendable poles in stock5. Lugging around a ten-foot stick doesn’t strike me as practical. Maybe a sturdy whittling knife would pack better?

Also at the commissary they didn’t have marbles as such5. The clerk directed me to maintenance, where they had two pounds of ball bearings for one gold crown. The custodian said he’d give me a drawstring bag to hold them in, so I figured it was a good deal.

Torches are bulky, smokey, and somewhat low-class. The kind of thing you’d associate with mobs of peasants, not crusading holy warriors. A simple lamp and some oil can do the trick.

While I was in maintenance I was able to get the custodian to put together a couple pounds of nails into caltrops. He was super-helpful.

The Block & Tackle is a bit bulky at five pounds. I’ll try to fit it in.

A whetstone! How did I forget? I must keep Beatrix properly honed, after all.

Somebody suggested a net. A net reminds me of fishing down by the lake. I’ll add some fishing tackle to the list. It’s about four pounds all together, but such a great way to spend a morning away from the hustle and bustle.

Trip wire and a garrote? Two points: first, what kind of paladin do you think I am? Second, shouldn’t these be one item? A spindle of sewing thread can replace the tripwire and raise far fewer awkward questions at Customs & Immigration than a garrote I won’t use. Thanks for bringing up the needle & thread, by the way. You never know when a minor alteration or repair will be necessary! At the commissary they had a box labeled “weaver’s tools.” I was assured it had everything I needed for such things.

For a rain cloak I got a hooded poncho. It cost as much as a full robe, but the baja pattern seems appropriate for the destination. It’s also a bit bulky. I can’t wait for somebody to invent plastic.

I’m going to skip on the medicine kit. They didn’t have one available and the box labeled “herbalism kit” was full of things I didn’t know what to do with. Oh look, a little white and red box labeled “Healer’s Kit.” Sounds useful.

It turns out that a disguise kit is way outside my budget, so that can’t make the cut.

All together I’m looking at having one gold crown and change (three silver shields, nine copper galleys to be exact) in spending money for a week. Assuming I’m wearing my armor and carrying my weapons my luggage is going to weigh almost 111 pounds. I’d need to buy another three backpacks or lug around a steamer trunk. The heaviest items, far and away, are the rations and the cooking pot. Ditching those gets me down to two backpacks worth of equipment. Should I leave my vestments back at the convent? I feel like I may have to represent the order from time to time and I don’t want to hurt our reputation. Purchasing a chest to carry the excess will bust the budget, at five gold crowns.


Dialing it In

The javelins just aren’t my thing. They don’t carry well, they bang into things, and are just generally a nuisance to have around. They don’t make the cut. The rest of the martial gear comes along, of course.  The hempen rope and trail rations are a bit much, and the torches have many of the same problems as the javelins plus they’re sticky. Cut down to a little trail mix to keep my blood sugar up, cut the rest of that bulk. The knife, lamp, oil, and whetstone are all super-great suggestions that are affordable, compact, and totally useful. Taking all of this into account this leaves me with:

  • My arming sword Beatrix
  • Iron-rimmed oaken shield
  • Stout leather gauntlets
  • Bassinet
  • Maille hauberk
  • Gambeson
  • Wooden holy symbol
  • Backpack
  • Bedroll
  • Mess kit
  • Tinderbox
  • 3 days’ rations
  • Waterskin
  • Mom’s rosary
  • Book of Common Prayers
  • 5 sticks of incense
  • Habit (tunic, scapular, belt, underskirts, shoes)
  • Work clothes (dress, apron, belt, underskirts, hat, boots)
  • Knife
  • Lamp
  • Oil (flask)
  • Whetstone
  • Velvet purse
  • 11 gold crowns, 8 silver shields, 9 copper kettles in walking-around money.
With the bedroll and waterskin tied to the outside, my backpack is a little over half-full. This leaves room for incidentals, souvenirs, and what-have-you. Including the armor, sword, and shield, I’m looking at carrying roughly 100 pounds. This is workable, if a bit inconvenient6.


1 – Equipment resulting from standard character creation in the Player’s Handbook for the Paladin class, Acolyte background
2 – Individual items that together constitute “chain mail” armor
3 – Individual items that together constitute an “explorer’s pack”
4 – Equipment resulting from the Acolyte background
5 – No such item in the PHB
6 – Assuming a Strength of 16, this paladin is well within her carrying capacity under normal rules, though encumbered under the variant rule. This would penalize her movement rate by 10′. Setting down her backpack would leave her fully unencumbered. This would also be true for any Strength attribute of 13, though that would be cutting things close. Chainmail is heavy.