Steffan's Personal Notes

Or: Blather you would be just as happy without knowing

This page last updated on May 23, 2003

First, and Most Important

For too few years after starting these web pages, I lived with two affectionate and playful cats whom I loved very much:

  • Ivan (baritone purr, the one with soul) and
  • Gus (tenor purr, the one with spirit).
Alas, now they are both dead, and twice I almost died of grief because of it.

Ivan died March 16, 1999, of diabetes. He was my loving, roly-poly super-purring friend who always made me feel that I was the most well-loved person in the world.

Gus was killed by a dog (half pit bull) on July 25, 2000. He was a bright Tiger Spirit: playful, affectionate, mischievous, my funny little guy who always could make me laugh and raise my spirits.

They were rare cats - princes among cats - my best friends, and I miss them both more than I can say. Those who are willing to subject themselves to a brief sentimental story (with photos) about our favorite game can read The String Game.

My good and generous friends, Ann & Paul Dupuis, paid for memorials to Ivan and to Gus at the NCSU Veterinary School. My heartfelt thanks to them.


I am blessed with good relations: there is a lot of love in my family. My step-father (who took great care of my mother in her terminal illness - thanks, Don!) - lives in Arizona, two of my brothers and sisters-in-law live in Michigan, and the third brother and sister-in-law in Texas. I also have five nieces, three great-nieces, and a great-nephew - all in Michigan except two who have wandered to California. (And now I think one is in Ohio. We can't all have taste.)

I'm quite fond of my cousins, aunts and uncles, too, who are scattered all over the country, so I don't get to see them often enough, alas.

The rest of this page is gas.

Yes, Gas

I was carless by choice, as of May, 1999.

My thoughts on Person of the Century


I grew up in Michigan, and have traveled extensively in this country and others. (On my 50th birthday I visited my 50th state - I called it my 50/50 party, of course.) I have lived on the west coast, in the mid-west, in both the southwest and southeast of the USA as well as in Europe and Ireland.

I live in central New Hampshire, U.S.A., near the White Mountains and the Lakes Region. I like it here.


I have made my living at many different professions. Currently, I'm a library services supervisor at the local college, but have been a financial training consultant, a technical writer, an administrative assistant, a professional storyteller, professional clown, Commedia Dell'Arte actor and teacher, and a game author. Oh, and about a few dozen other things along the way ...


I have formally studied (with links to my almae matres)

Informally studied? Whoosh! - too much to list - most anything except hard sciences. I like to learn things.

Favorite Books

I read a lot, probably because I don't have a TV. Some of my favorite book authors include (alphabetically), but are not limited to, Richard Adams, Gillian Bradshaw, Bertolt Brecht, David Brin, Fredric Brown, Raymond Chandler, Chuang Tzu, Lindsey Davis, Philip K. Dick, Alexander Dumas, Michael Ende, Kenneth Grahame, Tony Hillerman, Homer, Barry Hughart, Robert Lawson, Ursula K. LeGuin, George MacDonald, Edward Marston, Kenneth Morris, Andre Norton, Edith Pargeter, Daniel Pinkwater, Rafael Sabatini, James Schmitz, Martin Cruz Smith, Sherri S. Tepper, J.R.R. Tolkien, Mark Twain, Robert Van Gulik, Jack Vance, Stanley Weyman, T.H. White, P.G. Wodehouse, W.B. Yeats, Ella Young -- more to be filled in as I think of them. There are lots more ...

I confess some of those people aren't in the same league as others, but they all give me pleasure. I don't pretend to like every book by every author up there, either. A few of them are favorite for just one book, but those books are so good they get the author on my all-time favorite list. Examples include Adams for Watership Down, Grahame for The Wind in the Willows, and Hughart for Bridge of Birds. I confess I only like early LeGuin, and of Tolkien's work, my favorites, far and away, are The Hobbit and the chapter about Beren and Luthien in The Silmarilian. On the other hand, I have read a Twain book every year for the last 25+ years, and am rarely disappointed.

Favorite Comics

I also love the comics medium, and some of my favorite artist/authors are (alphabetically): Sergio Aragones, Carl Barks, Goscinny & Uderzo, Bud Grace, Rachel Hartman, George Herriman, Crockett Johnson, Walt Kelly, Patrick McDonnell, Stan Sakai, Jeff Smith, Bill Watterson, and others. Stan Sakai is near perfect in the serious comic book genre (Usagi Yojimbo), while Barks is his counterpart in the humourous comic book (Uncle Scrooge). Jeff Smith is so far the best I've seen at combining the two types (Bone). Kelly and Watterson are at the top of my favorite comic strip artists (Pogo and Calvin & Hobbes, respectively), while Patrick McDonnell (Mutts) creates what is probably my favorite current strip.

Favorite Movies

I don't watch any TV, and not too many movies, to be honest. My all-time favorite movies are those of Laurel & Hardy (with Fra Diavolo and Way Out West being the best of the best), and Buster Keaton, though I enjoy other comedies and also love good swashbucklers.

What do I consider the greatest movie ever made? Probably The Seven Samurai by Akira Kurasawa. Not only does it have high drama, low comedy and everything in between, it's over three hours long but never loses my attention, and feels much shorter. Near perfect as a movie can be.

Favorite Operas

My favorite operas are La Cenerentola and Il Barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) by Gioachino Rossini - who is also my favorite composer. Other favorite Rossini operas include Guillaume Tell, Le Comte Ory, La Pietra del Paragone, Il Viaggio a Reims, Mosé, Zelmira, Armida, and L'Italiana in Algeri - but I haven't yet heard everything he's done ...

Other favorite opera composers include Gaetano Donizetti, Giacomo Meyerbeer (I'm a proud member of the Meyerbeer Fan Club), Giuseppe Verdi, Daniel Auber, and Domenico Cimarosa. I enjoy one or two operas from many other composers (such as Mercadante, Humperdinck, Suppe, Bellini, Bizet, etc.), though, oddly enough, Mozart's operas do very little for me (except Così fan tutte, which I've come to like - and occasional heavenly arias and duets in his other operas). Nor do I care much for most of Puccini - though he has some truly wonderful melodies scattered throughout his operas!

I don't believe a person as odious as Wagner was could possibly compose uplifting music (anymore than I believe you can get pure spring water from a sewer), so I don't listen to anything by him.

Here's a link to operas I want to buy.

And my CD collection, as of Aug. 15, 2001, includes:

  • 30+ operas: Rossini, Donizetti
  • 15+ operas: Verdi
  • 5+ operas: Meyerbeer
  • 2+ operas: Auber, PDQ Bach, Bellini, Cimarosa, Mercadante, Mozart, Puccini
  • 1 opera: Bizet, Da Capua, Giordano, Halevy, Humperdinck, Janacek, Lehar, Leoncavallo, Lully, Ponchielli, Suppe

Making Music

Well, "music" might be an exageration - I do play an instrument, but am not a natural musician. I play a variety of folk and popular and simple classical music on an English concertina, but I don't play well enough that you'd want to hear me. I play for my own enjoyment.

For those who don't know, a concertina is little squeezebox, the sort you've seen in pictures being played by 19th-century sailors. It's a "keyboard" instrument, but doesn't use piano keys. It has buttons instead. It makes a sound similar to a harmonica, but the English concertina is far more of a melody-line instrument than a chording instrument.

(There are a number of types of concertinas: English, Anglo, and Duet being the main three. [There is also a larger instrument called the chemnitzer concertina that isn't really that closely related - it's closer to a bandoneon or even button accordian, IMO.] At any rate, English concertinas [which I play] are very good for melody line with some simple chording. Anglos are like harmonicas in many ways, and are the preferred instrument for most Celtic dance music. Duets are good for chording and some melody line, and this analysis is oversimplified so please don't correct me on details - I know I'm being very superficial here.)

About 50-60% of what I play is Irish folk music, both dance music and slow airs (I first learned to play while living in Ireland, though most Irish concertinists play the Anglo concertina). Otherwise, I'm quite eclectic: folk music from the USA, Scotland, England, Europe, and other places, pop music, shmaltz, easy classics, old-time jazz, even a gospel tune or two. Just nothing too hard, as I'm not very good ...

Favorite Games

I play a lot of games. (Not computer games - I like the social aspect of face-to-face gaming.) Some of my favorite games include (alphabetically) Blue Max, Bunnies & Burrows, Circus Imperium, Deep Space Navigator, Desperado, EastFront and other Columbia wooden-block games, El Grande, Elfenroads, Fudge, Full Thrust, GOOTMU, Groo: The Game, Hordes of the Things, Knightmare Chess, Last Crusade, Monster Derby, Octiles, Once Upon a Time, Overturn, Peek-a-Boo, Pursue the Pennant, Scrabble, SLUG, Star Traders, The String Game, Swashbuckler, Ta Yu, Tikal, Titan the Arena, Trade Winds, Up Front, Wiz War -- more to be filled in as I think of them. There are lots more ... You could check SOS' Gameviews.

Books Written

I have written a few books: GURPS Bestiary, GURPS Swashbucklers, GURPS Fantasy Bestiary, GURPS Bunnies & Burrows, Fudge, and Sherpa. (I would like to clarify, however, that I did not write the “were” rules in the 2nd edition Bestiary, and in fact don't like them.) I'm now working on other games - miniatures and board games.

Fun in Court

I was a co-plaintiff in the infamous Steve Jackson Games vs. the U.S. Secret Service lawsuit. It was fascinating and exciting, though less stressful for me than it was for Steve. I was the one actually online on the BBS computer as the raid was taking place ... Just before the machine was unplugged, I sent SJ an e-mail message which he never received, but the SS read and deleted ...

Fun outside of Court

Aside from playing with my cats, reading, writing and playing games, I like to hike when the arthritis in my foot doesn't act up too much, and I like to sit around with friends exchanging interesting tidbits of information and wondering about the origins of things beyond knowing.

Overweight ...

I was thin most of my life - until around 40 years old, at which point a more sedentary life style ballooned me up to “stout.” I tend to blame the computer and my arthritis, but I really know it's my own fault.

But Feed Me Anyway

And on the odd chance you ever invite me over for dinner: I'm vegetarian.

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