Wednesday, August 31, 2011

your fiction defines your world

I find whatever I'm reading "leaks" into everyday life. When I was reading (and rereading) the Wheel of Time series, I thought a lot about the Aiel and Ji'e'Toh.
When I read Infinite Jest, I thought a lot about wheelchair assassins, addiction, and tennis.
And fame; and eschaton; and the PGOAT.
The Pale King is on my list this year - I will probably tackle it in the fall after I read Neal Stephenson's Reamde.

Series are the same way - when we were watching The Wire, I thought a lot about being a homicide detective or dealing heroin and how I could be totally great at either of them.
So I tend to think about what I'm reading/watching and it colors my world.

Lately I've been rereading the Game of Thrones and watching Dexter.
My thoughts have been blood red.
I recommend both activities.

Monday, August 29, 2011

that vile abyss

Title could refer to multiple things:
Cavern system I accidentally dug into last night in Dwarf Fortress, where the Forgotten Beast (which oozed an acidic miasma, no less) made a beeline for the newly revealed tunnel into the heart of my fortress.
BUT THIS TIME I WAS PREPARED
No longer can hostile creatures find the main stairway in my fortress and run right to the work areas and dining hall, killing half of the fortress.
I built the second guard post BEFORE I started digging. The beast ran right into my army.
So that was a good night.

But that's not the abyss.

It could be the reflection of myself staring back at me in twitter - the choral voices rhapsodizing on whatever the trending topic is.
The crass (myself included) throwing destructive energy into the ether, demeaning both of us.

I don't know if I hate them because they're so different, or because we're so alike.

A little of both, I suppose.

I was walking through a revolving door this morning, and me and another guy approached on either side of it. I started pushing, and my comrade in arms wasn't even touching the door, just chatting on his cell phone. I stopped pushing halfway and gave him the finger. It felt a little meaningless; he knew he was a fucking asshole. Nobody thinks a revolving door is automatic; he expected someone else to bear his burden. He was well dressed, too; probably assumed he was nobility. I should have beheaded him.

My wife recounted her Tales of Horror in the Target checkout line.
Everyone around her was an idiot. Normally when I hear a tale like this, I think, "you're the common denominator here, not these people" but most of the people in her story worked at Target so I assume it checks out.
The story as follows:
Two lines, 8 people waiting in each. That sounds about right - Target is one of those perverse institutions with two dozen checkout counters that have never been turned on simultaneously in the history of the store.
15 checkout lanes that gather dust.

The woman in front of her drops her pasta sauce. She then proceeds to try cleaning it up, with my wife saying (in a voice that I'm sure was all sweetness and love and not the least bit impatient) "let someone else do that, finish checking out."
Her entreaty falls on deaf ears, so she says it a little louder.
The clumsy woman then does something very dangerous: "Mind your own business."

Which isn't something you should say to anyone waiting in line behind you. Your fucking business IS my fucking business if YOUR fucking business holds my ass up.
But I'm not 7 months pregnant, so I'm less rational.

My wife called her an unprintable name, with an unprintable adjective.
Someone told her to think of the children.

The most hilarious twist of irony is this: after it was sorted there, Andrea realized one of her bottles of window cleaner wasn't screwed on tightly, and she'd leaked it all over the store.
Which is pretty much all you can ask for from one of the box stores, and live to tell about it.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

cats, mice

It's been a rough week in our home. Vlad brushed by something this weekend (probably Sunday) that was sharp enough to leave quite a gash along his side.
I discovered it when we arrived at home Sunday evening, and picked up Vlad to pet him. He laid on my chest for a while and I pet him, but when he got up, my shirt was covered in blood.
I found the offending wound, and determined we'd have to take him to the vet.

So now the poor guy's on antibiotics 2x a day and is wearing an Elizabethan collar:

He normally head butts me repeatedly in the morning when I'm preparing his food; I felt the collar hit my leg and he stopped, and sort of sat down, disoriented.
Oof.

He'll be better soon, but it's a rough ride.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

politics is fun

Dems are apparently going to lobby for a payroll tax cut, and Republicans are (probably) going to vote against it.
So, Dems are shouting "Don't Raise Taxes!" and Republicans are shouting "We must raise taxes!"

See, they're not all ideologues! Sometimes Republicans find it practical to raise taxes.
Mostly when they're on the working poor.

Maybe all the poor Republicans will catch on.
Heh.

Monday, August 22, 2011

never a good sign

A middle name that will be refused by everyone but rolls off the tongue: Nagasaki.
Terribly offensive? Sure.
Arya Nagasaki Barry.

Recorded for posterity, so our unnamed child can thank her mother for protecting her even before birth.

My wife and I did a trade show this weekend, driving for a good 7 hours there and back on Friday and Sunday.
So I'm basically on Day 8 of working, and the last 3 were 12 hour days.

In two months that will be the natural order, never a day off again.

Trade shows and my regular job are a little bit different.
I was pretty bad at this one I think; I sat and read Feast for Crows almost the entire time. I helped customers, and ran food, and lifted anything heavy.
My favorite moment was when a slightly overweight lady in her 50s approached our booth.
"How are you?" she asked.
I replied, "Only two more weeks till football!"
She exchanged looks with my wife.
"I wouldn't know," she replied tersely.
I smiled and went back to reading. I knew she wouldn't know. I watched maybe three football games last year. I don't even know if it starts in two weeks, but it sounded right.
I just wanted to be annoying to someone at the show but not look like I was being annoying, just socially weird.
It was satisfying.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

random shots

PEBKAC is an acronym I should use more often self-referentially.

Goblins are a fact of life, I guess. The last fortress was a doozy, situated right in the bend of a river that had carved its way deep into the stone. I thought to exploit the river, redirecting it through a channel (that cost 3 miners their lives building) , essentially rerouting the river around my mine entrance and protecting it with drawbridges.
I'm talking some relatively fancy shit.

BUT I didn't pay enough attention to the channel, and left a leak that proceeded to flood the whole valley when the spring rains came.

I was so distracted I forgot to build a barracks for the military to train at. But I had the moat, so it was all good.
Winter came. The river, lower than usual because half of it was in the valley drowning the elves, froze completely.
That's when the goblins arrived.
Twenty minutes later, and I click "Abandon Fort"

Damn damn damn a million times damn.
PEBKAC

Post-script - does anyone else hate hate hate the new Compose window in Google Blogger? It's little things, like where the cursor appears and the half second delay between seeing the words and typing them - I don't know, it's terrible.
Bugs me a lot, and I'm not sure if it's firefox, google, or my dumb computer. Doesn't matter, that's what vim is for ;)


Post-Post-Script - Google changed my settings for Line breaks as well. So if it looks like I adopted Kerouac's writing style, I have not. I am too eager to tap "enter", if anything. NOT PEBKAC BUT PRETTY IRONIC

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

oops I did it again

About a month ago I jotted of a reply to an email that was. . . ill advised.
Downright fucking embarrassing really. I've talked to myself out loud on more than one occasion, rolling over my terrible choice of words in my head and exclaiming, "you're a fucking weirdo" at conversation level volume.  Which doesn't really help your case; self incrimination for weirdo-hood is always taken Very Seriously.

It was an email to a guy I know, and I used some terribly awkward phraseology that still makes me fucking cringe.
No, I won't repeat it.
It's mortifying enough in my head.

I thought terrible stuff like this was done after marriage; this is the sort of embarrassment I remember from college and my single years after college. I've got reams of memories etched into my brain; I shudder when I think of the no-game having younger me wrought upon the world.

But fuck, this was (A) an email to a male and (B) me begging for friendship like I used to beg for sex.

I don't even want to be friends anymore after that email.
This isn't sour grapes, either.
This is a guy who could weaponize my embarrassment.

Life doesn't really get any easier, it seems. Sometimes I know enough to avoid leading with my chin, but I still end up getting punched somewhere. I need to hold tight to this; I can't be lost in the woods in 6 months with a newborn wistfully recalling when I had my baby-free life all figured out - I don't, at all.
May as well throw some more of my DNA into this hurricane.

I'm sorry in advance, my little babushka.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Just Fridays now? wtf?!?

I threw away three posts this week as I didn't like them very much.
They never really got there for me. Tried too hard to sound wise or something. Not sure. Didn't like it, didn't post it.

Finished Dexter season 1 tonight. Quite a good show. . . perverse in its humor. I figured out the stuff just a little before the reveal, but I think that's the writers' intention. I like watching shows where I feel smart.

Job's good. I do have trouble understanding the point of an MBA - do they take the brains out when you get it, or do they tell dumb people "this is how to get ahead."?
I shouldn't say that, but everything I read from so-called "business analysts" is garbage.

On the bright side, I'm developing new ways to accumulate massive data sets and analyze them for patterns/specifics.
Lots of fun to watch the console window scrolls with notification of acquired objects, data exceptions, and completion times. . . it feels like you're doing something even when you're not doing anything.

My current Dwarf Fortress has been on pause since last night, when the game auto-paused for me, notifying me of an ambush. I have to figure out how to get my civilians inside before I unpause it this time, and let the gobbos come into the cleverly laid traps I have in store.
I am THROUGH losing to the first set of goblins to come waltzing into my fortress site.

Friday, August 5, 2011

I know it's cliche but

Whew Friday.
It's been a hell of a ride so far at work. Today's the first day I felt like I sputtered in to the finish line for a couple of days off.
The rest it's been bliss. Slamming away at the keyboard, no meetings thus far just exuberant programming.

Life at home is great too. The lawn needs work, heh.
Pretty boring but I think that's ok.
I'm going to the Ren Faire on the morrow to relive what it was to live without toilet paper, deodorant, or social mores of morning alcoholism.
I feel like going dressed in a toga.
Not dressing up is pretty much tolerated, but what would they do if you dress up intentionally anachronistically? It's online trolling in real life!


Product review: Da Bird.
It's a cat toy - a wand with a feather toy at the end. The trick is the attachment to the wand and the feather shape causes a spinning motion similar to a flapping bird.
The cats go apeshit. I've got to get some video. Vlad's 4 foot in the air, landing on Sylvester. Even Sylvester's catching air, and begging for play time every spare minute of the day. He's much better behaved these days, too. If I can I'll get some video - I've never seen Sylvester go after something like this before.

Good stuff. Like ten bucks or six bucks on Amazon. (the extra birds are the real killer - make sure you put this one away or they'll tear it apart)








Thursday, August 4, 2011

I guess I took a vacation

Been a couple weeks. Whoops.
Dwarf Fortress sort of grabbed me in the pooper and didn't let go.

The gist is you're 7 dwarfs with a small bit of supplies and livestock, pick a site where there's minerals, and start a new dwarf enclave.

Half of the challenge is the UI; it's not even consistent internal to the game at times.
BUT
If you're accustomed to a text editor, or you've wrapped your head around nethack, chances are you won't have too much trouble.
OK, you're still going to have a pain in the ass.
BUT
It's soooo worth it.

It's a god game - you're not one of the dwarves, nor can you give them direct orders - "hey you dwarf here, go build something over there" - but you can order "hey somebody build X at Y location" and then a dwarf will eventually do it. Most of the time. Unless you don't have any architects, for example, or maybe no animal trainers if you were building a kennel.
There's kennels. They train dogs into war dogs or hunting dogs. I have a vague idea of the difference (hunting dogs are trained to hunt, war dogs are trained to hunt WAR) but haven't really seen a dog in battle enough to know ifthey're useful.
What I have seen in battle were dwarfs, and lots of them. And a couple goblins engaging all of these said dwarfses.
My first fortress made it two days; I learned how to dig out caverns, figured out going down is a good idea, and started realizing the game's got a lot going on. Some merchants visited me but due to the user interface I ended up giving away all of my trade goods for free.
On the bright side, the merchant was super excited to come back.
The game is deep and the whole point is that eventually your fortress is going to be consumed by some sort of terrible end - you'll flood it with magma, or water, or your dwarves will collapse emotionally and start in-fighting, or you'll run out of food or alcohol causing your dwarves to collapse emotionally and start in-fighting, or something along those lines.

Naturally goblins are your mortal enemies. I'd figured out I needed a military when the first goblin thief showed up, discovering my settlement. When he got away, I assumed (correctly) that more goblins would be coming. Indeed.
Four of them appeared to assault my colony of 45 dwarves.
I had two squads of 5 men each as military.
This is when I learned some very important things in the game.
First, if your dwarf says "WRESTLER" it means he's unarmed.
Second, unarmed anything dies horribly to armed anything.
Third, goblins gain levels and experience by killing things. Don't, for example, send 35 dwarfbags to their doom to the same hammer wielding goblin and THEN send your legendary miner with the pick-axe.
It ends poorly.

So I have a new fortress. This one was designed with ONE entrance. Smart. I also set up a guard station on the fourth level down to prevent incursions from going any further.
Or so I thought.
Problem was, I build a massive staircase from the first floor to the fifteeth, and the guard post was in it. So anybody could just walk right downstairs and the guards would be "hey where ya going?" and not actually, you know, stop them from going to, say, the dining hall and killing 15 dwarves before dying.
I was up to 45 dwarvlings or so again in this fortress and 4 goblins did me the favor of showing me my security deficiencies. It only cost me 20 dwarves or so. By the way, if you're finding this uninteresting, think of my poor wife who's had to hear about it almost first-hand.

I nearly starved half my dwarfs to death and ran out of booze after the attack. While I was fixing the security hole by moving a the down stairway in the guard hall, I accidentally sealed off half the fortress from the other. IN fact the ONLY reason I didn't end up much worse was a fluke - a dwarf got into a "strange mood" and became a legendary mason right when I needed one to build a staircase up to the next floor. (I was pretty screwed otherwise - you can't dig up, and all my picks were on the lower levels)

So that's basically where I'm at right now. I haven't found lava, and the elven merchants who keep showing up get really pissed at me for trying to sell them carved wood stuff. They are apparently eco-friendly.

I feel like I'm nowhere in this game in terms of the whole of the experience. For example, I've never smelted iron, nor figured out how to power a magma furnace; hell, I haven't even seen magma yet. But I'm going to.
At least until the baby's born, then who knows.