Bob Portnell

Multi-Purpose Nerd

This is the (I imagine) last website of Bob Portnell (that's me!). Please find my latest journal notices and useful files from my past and present using the tabs (or menu, if your mobile browser gives it to you that way).

Bob is a technical writer living in Sparks, Nevada. Bob is also a father, husband, disciple, and some other things. His internet presence beyond this website is not large. He promises to not talk about himself in third person overmuch.

This seems as good a place as any to mention that this Bob does NOT receive affiliate compensation from any stores, producers, or other places to which he links. If I link, it's 'cause I love and getting paid doesn't matter.

The Library

Here are the files I have available. Some are new creations. Most are auld favourites which have attracted kind comments in the past. This page used to run long, 'cause I like to chatter. This year, less talk. But navigation links are still useful.

Library Sections

Spacemodeling Stuff

aka "Model Rocketry". I have been a member of the National Association of Rocketry for over 10 (non-consecutive) years, and building and flying since 1975.

I lurk in the NAR Facebook group and a few others. I write my own tools, too, usually calling them FIDO (the flight dynamics station in Mission Control).

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Stargazing Stuff

I'm still working on learning the night sky to my own satisfaction. I'm improving, slowly. These are the tools I'm using.

And I've written my own tools for some tasks.

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Board Game Stuff

Board and card games held a deep fascination for me as an only child who liked play. They still do and I am still me. Some things I've made:

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Roleplay Game Stuff

I've had roleplay games in my life since 1980. Here are some things I've done or am doing.

EZFudge is a part demonstration Fudge build, part game-engine heartbreaker that I've been tinkering with for a while. I haven't found a magic system that suits it, so for fantasy I recommend Fantasy Fudge in the free Fudge SRD.

The Fantasy Trip is the first RPG I loved, and I'm well-pleased to see it back in print and well-supported.

GURPS is a game system I spent a lot of time with. My first paid freelance writing was an article on converting between GURPS and PlainLabel. GURPS Lite (3e) is a 0.4 MB PDF, "… the boiled-down 'essence' of GURPS: all the fundamental rules, but not the options and embellishments that often confuse new players." It's free, from that link or from my library. Final Frontier (0.4 MB PDF) is a supplement to GURPS Lite (3e) with rules for the Star Trek universe, minimalist by GURPS standards, and with layout by Adam Jury!

Sherpa is Steffan O'Sullivan's roleplay game to be played outdoors. Here's my house rule to make Sherpa higher-is-better: For unopposed tasks, add the trait to the random number (and modifiers). The total must meet or beat 11. And here's my Character, Reference, and GM scene cards (0.1 MB PDF).

From 1998 to 2007 or so, I had the pleasure of working with the good folks of Microtactix, and I still think the PlainLabel Game System is a wonder and a joy: a unified set of rules and concepts that works for roleplaying, arena combat, and mass combat. I was honored to serve as line editor or copy editor on the games, and I kept a fan site of my own. My favorite fan works were a house rules kit and (what else?) Star Trek extension.

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The Journal

Blog posts! I have some again!

Mon 11 Jan 2021 — Top of the Stack, Redux

When the blogging thing starts all over again …


Wed 28 Sep 2022 — A Shorter Update

In which Bob shares a little news. …


Wed 14 Sep 2022 — Quick Note

In which Bob finds zombie files …


Sat 27 Aug 2022 — Dog Days

Is Bob sirius? Only about puns …


Fri 29 Jul 2022 — Reboot

An update of moderate length …


Sun 17 Jul 2022 — What's Your Sign?

Mine's probably "NO EXIT" …


Sun 26 Jun 2022 — Tattoo'd Miseries

Drinking again, hey? …


Sun 19 Jun 2022 — Round the Bend

As in, completely mental …


Sat 18 Jun 2022 — LIFE

Yes, Marvin, we know …


Sat 30 Apr 2022 — Spinnerets

In which Bob reshapes his web cocoon …


Sun 17 Apr 2022 — Easter Sunday

Chocolate bilbies everywhere …


Sun 20 Mar 2022 — Forget about it, Jake

It's a command-line interface …


Tue 15 Mar 2022 — Beware What?

Oh, is that today? Pass me the knife, then …


Sun 27 Feb 2022 — Site News

In which Bob tidies …


Mon 21 Feb 2022 — Going Analog

Not quite 1/7 of a year later …


Sat 01 Jan 2022 — The Marley Plan

"I wear the chain I forged in life …"


Mon 27 Dec 2021 — In The Mail Room

"Warning! Discard any unit showing any dimensional change!" …


Mon 20 Dec 2021 — Solar New Year's Eve

In which Bob does some solstice-searching …


Sat 18 Dec 2021 — For Future Reference

Probably some graduate student …


Fri 17 Dec 2021 — Rounding the Corner

In which Bob abuses assorted tools …


Tue 23 Nov 2021 — iBob

Nerdery Run Amok …


Sun 21 Nov 2021 — Three In A Row

Is Bob building a routine of posting? Probably not …


Sat 20 Nov 2021 — Near Miss

In which Bob avoids education …


Fri 19 Nov 2021 — iMadness

In which Bob lives in all worlds …


Sun 14 Nov 2021 — Some 1PRs!

Reasonably spoiler-free …


Thu 11 Nov 2021 — Cooking the Books

A Little News, A Little Snark, A Little Schmalz …


Sun 16 Oct 2021 — DREI

Distracted Reassessment of Ecumenical Interests …


Wed 13 Oct 2021 — UNO

Unexpected Nerd Occurrence …


Sat 25 Sep 2021 — How Many Skies?

'cause there's only really one …


Sun 05 Sep 2021 — Not-Much-Labor Day

In which Bob lounges more than he ought …


Sat 18 Sep 2021 — A Stargazing Post

Not a postgazing star …


Thu 19 Aug 2019 — An Awakening

In which Bob commits self-awareness …


Fri 13 Aug 2021 — Closing Some Loops

Hey! Firm plans instead of angsty thinking …


Sat 07 Aug 2021 — Recycling the Count

In which Bob overthinks as usual …


Fri 06 Aug 2021 — Hoo dat?

An owl has moved into the neighborhood …


Sat 17 Jul 2021 — Down to the Wire

As usual …


Sun 11 Jul 2021 — Bob's Tool Time

Where the motto is "Less power!" …


Fri 25 Jun 2021 — Ownership

In which Bob tidies up, to his expense …


Mon 14 Jun 2021 — Under the Missile Toe

Don’t blame me, that pun was old long since …


Sun 30 May 2021 — Holiday Road

To Nowhere …


Sat 22 May 2021 — Changing Vision

Imagine a near-sighted beholder... …


Wed 12 May 2021 — Hey, Let's Talk Rockets

No raccoon-like aliens need apply …


Sat 17 Apr 2021 — Re-Spring

A very bouncy time …


Mon 12 Apr 2021 — Yuri's Night + LX

Also STS-1 + XL …


Sun 04 Apr 2021 — I Do'd It!

In which Bob shows his green streak …


Sun 04 Apr 2021 — Happy Easter

I wonder if Jesus in the tomb was awoken by a cat demanding food …


Sun 28 Mar 2021 — Words and Music

A long post below …


Sat 13 Mar 2021 — Indoor Dog

It's safer that way …


Fri 12 Mar 2021 — Beware the Ides

In which Bob bards unnecessarily …


Mon 22 Feb 2021 — At Last, The 2020 Show

In which Bob looks alive …


Sat 20 Feb 2021 — Round, Up

In which Bob blathers on software …


Sun 07 Feb 2021 — Exemplary Night Hunter

In which Bob commits a riddle …


Sun 31 Jan 2021 — Getting It Up

In which Bob demonstrates an occasionally juvenile sense of humor …


Sun 10 Jan 2021 — Work in Progress

In which Bob commits to a project …


Sat 09 Jan 2021 — Sparking Ideas

In which Bob heats up and cools down …


Sat 02 Jan 2021 — Assertions I

In which Bob speaks and we hope acts …


Mon 21 Dec 2020 — Having A Ball

Bob is working only half-time this week. How does he fill he hours? …


Mon 17 Dec 2020 — Naming Names

In which Bob makes a declaration …


Mon 14 Dec 2020 — Pre-Flight

In which Bob revisits the status of his main hobby …


Sat 21 Nov 2020 — I Had A Terrific Post Title This Morning

And a teaser, too …


Wed 11 Nov 2020 — Post Toasties

In which Bob goes round and round …


Sat 24 Oct 2020 — Iidying Up and Moving Things Around

In which Bob plays code-monkey for a while …


Sun 18 Oct 2020 — More Musings on Launch Sites

In which Bob might be de-ranged …


Sat 17 Oct 2020 — The Weave

In which Bob updates and downchecks …


Sun 11 Oct 2020y — Old Dogs and New Tricks

In which Bob rules the rules of thumb …


Sat 26 Sep 2020 Catching Up

In which Bob circumloquates about recent developments …


Sun 13 Sep 2020 — Far Future Enterprises

In which Bob looks ahead while commiting a sly callback …


Sat 12 Sep 2020 — The Fixed Stars

In which Bob rewrites the rules, which is better than starting over …


Fri 11 Sep 2020 — Waffles

In which Bob demonstrates his spine of steel-colored gelatin …


Mon 07 Sep 2020 — Less Labor Day

In which Bob natters about rocketry tools some more …


Mon 31 Aug 2020 — Rocket Madness, Ground Support Edition

In which Bob spins in a relatively new circle …


Sun 30 Aug 2020 — Hopping the Clouds Some More

In which Bob commits meta-posting …


Fri 28 Aug 2020 — Summer's End

In which Bob meanders around the season change …


Sat 15 Aug 2020 — Night Errands By Day

In which Bob goes shopping again …


Sat 08 Aug 2020 — Flight Day

In which Bob reminds his family what used model rocket motors smell like …


Sun 02 Aug 2020 — Gone Shopping?

But not for piston engines …


Fri 31 Jul 2020 — A Reflection on Rocketry Tools

In which Bob takes the measure of his work …


Wed 29 Jul 2020 — A Dice and Rocketry Update

... 3 ... 2 ... 1 ... roll! …


Sat 18 Jul 2020 — A Computing Update

which Bob needed ten minutes to remember he wanted to write …


Sat 18 Jul 2020 — A Calculator Update

including special bonus rant …


Mon 13 Jul 2020 — A Stargazing Update Post

The omens were right …


Mon 13 Jul 2020 — The Shaving Cream is a Lie

And so is the shaving gel …


Sun 28 Jun 2020 — A Gaming Update Post

In which Bob accepts some inevitables that have been around awhile …


Sun 28 Jun 2020 — A Rocketry Project Update

In which Bob confesses to surprise but not ruthless efficiency …


Sat 27 Jun 2020 — Cloning the Estes Cloud Hopper

In which Bob is in full rocketry nerd mode …


Tue 16 Jun 2020 — Seven Nights Later

(and not a zombie yet) …


Sat 13 Jun 2020 — Rewriting Some Rules

In which Bob repaints the goalposts …


Fri 12 Jun 2020 — Never Read The Comments

In which Bob comments …


Tue 02 Jun 2020 — Where Were You When ... ?

In which Bob speaks briefly to the current time …


Sat 30 May 2020 — Flights of Fancy

In which the sky is not the limit …


Sat 23 May 2020 — Now Presenting: RUST -- The Oxidation Extravaganza

For audiences which couldn't get enough of WATCHING PAINT DRY and WATCHING GRASS GROW …


Wed 20 May 2020 — Space Race

In which Bob sets a goal … ?


Mon 18 May 2020 — Letting The Days Go By

In which Bob reflects with fondness …


Thu 14 May 2020 — Another Week Indoors

In which Bob catches up and looks a little ahead …


Thu 07 May 2020 — Upside-Down Again

In which Bob has mixed feelings …


Sun 03 May 2020 — Speedy Delivery

In which Bob reports on the "new" computer …


Wed 29 Apr 2020 — Let Me Tell You About My …

(roleplayers know to run away right now) …


Wed 29 Apr 2020 — The Modest Step Forward

In which Bob continues to embrace the state of the art of five years ago …


Fri 24 Apr 2020 — Assorted Assorteds

In which Bob gives a smattering of news and updates …


Sun 19 Apr 2020 — Taking Stock

In which Bob reflects some more and maybe plans …


Tue 14 Apr 2020 — Memory Skylane

In which Bob visits the past and accuses the future of treason …


Mon 13 Apr 2020 — Balsa Engineer Apprentice

In which Bob meanders around the topic of model rocket building …


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Sun 12 Apr 2020 — Bob and Yuri's Weekend

In which Bob blathers about some news …


Tue 07 Apr 2020 — The Die is Cast

In which Bob reports a commitment and a change of plan …


Sat 06 Apr 2020 — Flying Again

In which Bob lays plays for the spring "and beyond" …


Sat 28 Mar 2020 — The Month That Was

In which Bob recounts the past four weeks …


Tue 10 Mar 2020 — Finnegan, Begin Again

In which Bob starts so many things over …


Tue 03 Mar 2020 — Sunrise, Sunset

In which Bob is blindsided by an unexpected aspect of parenting …


Sun 23 Feb 2020 — Where Have I Been?

A few updates …


Sun 26 Jan 2020 — Pocket Boxing

In which Bob recalls two games and reports news …


Wed 15 Jan 2020 — This is Madness

Slowly digested over a thousand years …


Sat 11 Jan 2020 — Odometer Rollover

Reflections and resolutions abound …


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Thu 19 Dec 2019 — A Random Mess

In which Bob just starts writing and sees what happens …


Fri 13 Dec 2019 — Bye, O'Rhythm

In which Bob plays with numbers and mocks the hive mind …


Thu 12 Dec 2019 — Calculating Ways

In which Bob goes nerdy on old tech …


Sat 30 Nov 2019 — Logocycles

In which Bob learns, albeit slowly …


Mon 18 Nov 2019 — Echoes and Reverberations

I don't remember Memory Land being this round …


Sat 09 Nov 2019 — Round the Whirl'd in 80 GHz

In which Bob looks yet again at his use of tech …


Sat 02 Nov 2019 — Over My Shoulder: The Dice Fake Book

In which Bob answers the question "What were you thinking!?" …


Fri 01 Nov 2019 — Propulsion

In which Bob reports on the battle with inertia


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