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Here’s a short guide for those of you buying gift-like-objects from online retailers this December, assuming you need the item before 24 December for whatever reason (I don’t judge) and you’d like to know how long you can window shop in the local stores, draining the lifeblood of physical retail, before you just buy it from Amazon.

I’m pulling dates mostly from the applicable Amazon help page, “Holiday Ordering Deadlines for the U.S.”, while making some allowances for weekends — I know Amazon (or rather, the USPS on behalf of Amazon) makes Saturday and even Sunday deliveries now but we probably shouldn’t count on everything running smoothly this month, shipping-wise, and there might also be reasons you’d rather have an item delivered to your workplace rather than your home. I’m padding in a day or two where applicable for similar reasons. Another thing to remember is that for most small items (smaller than a hardcover book – which would include CDs, small electronics, jewelry, and the like) the ‘final mile’ is going to be covered by the local mail carrier no matter who the shipper is, as the US Postal Service has deals with Amazon, FedEx, and UPS. If you have concerns about parcels in your mailbox, or use a PO Box or otherwise might need an extra day, it’s something to consider.

And so:

For standard ground shipping (5-6 business days) which is also Amazon and many other online retailers standard ‘free’ shipping option, you should order no later than Wednesday 13 December to anticipate delivery before Friday the 22nd. Amazon’s cutoff date is actually Friday 15 December, but remember – it takes time for most non-Amazon retailers to find an item, box it, and get it into the hands of a parcel delivery service. The longer you wait the more you tempt fate and are subject to the random predations of the logistics gremlins. Personally, I’d order before noon on the 13th.

If you have Amazon Prime and can take advantage of free two-day shipping, I’d recommend ordering no later than Tuesday 19 December. Again, I’d try to get an order in before noon. Amazon’s cutoff for two-day Prime shipping is actual 22 December, but first off – that’s a Friday and you are now putting a lot of faith in overloaded delivery services to get a package to you on Christmas Eve, and a Sunday on top of that, and I don’t have that kind of faith. Unless you plan to rely on miracles, I’d stick with Tuesday as your strong cutoff for anything but an extra, last-minute stocking stuffer.

For orders headed to Alaska, Hawaii, or other American outposts not covered by ‘standard’ standard shipping, you should place that order on or before Monday 11 December.

11 December is also a pretty good soft deadline for most small online retailers, especially companies you have no previous experience ordering from, or that are located on the other side of the country from you, or that are actual physical shops that just happen to do a little online on the side. This is 10 business days, but only after including the Monday you order and Friday 22 December, which as noted above is sort of the shipping deadline. Ideally, you’d want to get the order in by Wednesday 6 December, which will give the shop 2 days to get that onto a truck, and the shipping service two full weeks to lose your package, find it again, and finally get it to you.

If you are ordering one-of-a-kind items from a maker, crafter, or artist, either direct or via a service like Ebay or Etsy, I’d go ahead and order that tomorrow. Tomorrow, in this case, is Monday 4 December, but you likely aren’t reading this on the 3rd. You want to give this person (who, after all, has to fulfill holiday orders while doing their own shopping and xmas prep and dealing with whatever crises in between) as much time as humanly possible not only because it’s a thoughtful and kind thing to do, but also so that you don’t have to play the evil villain later by sending a dozen emails with variations of “OMG STILL HAVEN’T RECEIVED PARCEL!!!” when the seller can’t really do anything else because it’s up to the logistics gremlins at that point.

All that said, for Etsy and the like you could probably consider 11 December (that’s a busy Monday right there) as the ‘hard’ deadline for orders, if the seller has some sort of notation in the item description that stock is on-hand and ready to go. Anything custom or that has to be assembled, and yeah, tomorrow would be better.

& If you miss any of these deadlines?

I wouldn’t sweat it too much. You can always go by whatever is listed on the retailer’s website – they’re all going to have their own, different, drop-dead dates. And of course, you can always pay for next-day or overnight shipping, with some caveats:
1. it takes time to find and box things, so that’s a day
2. it takes time for a parcel service to do a pick-up, or for an underpaid, hassled employee to drop it off at an office. An overcrowded, holiday-peak-shipping-rush office full of other cranky people. So that’s another day. and
3. it’s the holidays so there may be stuff on your end, or some kind of missed connection with the delivery driver, that delays it even further.
The other thing to keep in mind is that ‘next-day’ and even two-day shipping is often hedged with the “delivery on or before 8pm” nonsense which gives the shipper a lot of wiggle room but might also complicate things. So even if you pay for overnight shipping, it might still take as long as three days, worst case.

Noon, Wednesday 20 December, would be my recommended hard deadline for any online order, and I’d go ahead and opt for expedited shipping at that point.

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I hope you find this info and my suggestions helpful, and if your preferred vendor is Amazon & you wan’t to help me out just a little: please visit this landing page [https://www.amazon.com/shop/matt_blind] over on Amazon before you do the rest of your shopping. There are a couple of gift suggestions there, and if you click the links I might see some commissions. Thanks!

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Welcome to the online home of Matt Blind; thanks for reading.

RocketBomber is a generic, general-issue, all-purpose kind of blog, of the type that used to proliferate in the late 1990s and early 2000s. You know, back when we called them ‘web logs’ instead of blogs, and you and your friends were all on Live Journal. (or your parents were.)

While definitely a blog, using both the ‘bones’ of a blog and a blog’s idiolect, this site is neither autobiographical or journalistic. It’s not a ‘topic’ blog, either — this isn’t so much about anything, it is the writing — the messy, disorganized pile-of-notes, snippets-of-story, links, thoughts, and spitballing that goes into other projects, large and small.

It’s meant to be fun — for me at least.

It should also be an awesome way to organize my notes: tagging articles, throwing them into broad categories, and making everything searchable.

Two quick notes before I get into the copyright stuff:

Commenting is disabled across the site. If you still feel you must comment on an item, reach out to me on Twitter (@m_dot_blind) or Facebook.

Also, this is the second incarnation of the RocketBomber blog — if you surfed in on a link and got a 404 error, try the URL again but replace www.rocketbomber.com with archive.rocketbomber.com. All of the old articles are still there, just moved [entirely] to that subdomain. I no longer update (or fix anything) over there, but a little extra effort should get you to where you thought you were going.

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If you read something here and want to steal it, for the most part: go right ahead. Some rights reserved:

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/
Creative Commons Licence
Amphithal Fantasy World Descriptions and Systems by Matt Blind and other commentary and content on this site are all licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

The CC License applies to all descriptions, characters, story elements, maps, place names, and most but not all items posted to the blog. Images used are typically also CC Licensed, but also are typically not originally mine — please make a note of any citations on photos. Additionally, I might preemptively revoke Creative Commons in advance (for whatever reason) so if a post explicitly cites copyright or otherwise exempts itself, well, that.

Additional rights might be available, specifically rights to commercially reproduce any content found here, but you’ll have to ask (and obtain) permission first.

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I’m a pencil-paper-and-dice table-top games veteran (primarily D&D and D&D-derivatives) and sometimes I find it easier to think about things in terms of how it would work “in game”. I think many people who currently write fantasy have a similar background and inclination. I might post some material here that is either intended for role-playing gaming, or that is formatted that way just for kicks-and-giggles.

Please Carefully Read the Following Regarding Game Mechanics:

In the event that I post material suitable for gaming or for easy translation to any and all 3rd-party RPG systems, I will be using a modified version of Steffan O’Sullivan’s 1995 FUDGE system [Freeform Universal Do-it-Yourself Gaming Engine]; any specific references to FUDGE mechanics fall under Steffan O’Sullivan’s very generous terms and subsequent licenses.

As of March 2004, FUDGE System™ is owned by Grey Ghost Press, who holds all copyrights. Grey Ghost Press makes the FUDGE system available to developers under the FUDGE System Trademark License and the Open Game License.

see also
http://fudgerpg.com/about/about-fudge/fudge-overview.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fudge_(role-playing_game_system)

included below is the original Disclaimer mandated by O’Sullivan in his 1995 version:

DISCLAIMER

The following materials based on FUDGE, entitled “Amphithal System Mechanics”, are created by Matt Blind and made available by Matt Blind via rocketbomber.com, and are not authorized or endorsed in any way by Steffan O’Sullivan or any publisher of other FUDGE materials. Neither Steffan O’Sullivan or any publisher of other FUDGE material is in any way responsible for the content of these materials.

Original FUDGE materials ©Copyright 1992-1995 Steffan O’Sullivan, All Rights Reserved.

If you wish to distribute copies of all or portions of FUDGE or derivative works based on FUDGE for a fee or charge, other than in a magazine or other periodical, you must first obtain written permission from:

Steffan O’Sullivan
P.O. Box 465
Plymouth, NH 03264

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Please Note: I do not intend, in any way, to present a complete gaming system — nor are the mechanics discussed meant to be used primarily for RPG reference — however, gaming (especially referencing RPG fantasy games) presents a unique vocabulary for describing concepts that would be foolish (and also very difficult) to ignore.

O’Sullivan used a seven-level sequence to describe traits: I love the mechanic but use the following nine-level sequence

legend
superb
great
good
fair
meager
poor
awful
terrible

The scale defaults to “meager” as a baseline; “fair” traits are actually ever-so-slightly above average. Two additional levels can be considered (godly at the top, fatal at the bottom) to make this an easy 0-10 scale: where zero (of course) is fatal, and 10 represents perfection that cannot be reached.

Anyone interested should definitely check out the 1995 Fudge PDF, currently available for download from Grey Ghost Press.

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Not that much was lost. A handful of posts about how I never had time to post.

The pre-2016 site is still live (more or less; some links are broken) at archive.rocketbomber.com and if you surfed here on an old blog-roll link, that’s probably the content you’re looking for.

In the meantime, I have a new version of the CMS to get used to and a whole lot of plugins, settings, and preferences to set up all over again.

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RocketBomber Version 3.0 launched 21 October 2017 at 12:15 and we’re not guaranteed to make it, but our pilot and captain is going to do what he can to keep the whole thing from breaking apart until we clear atmospheric turbulence and get back to a stable orbit.