Contents

Caty and Cara's Page

Our Computers

Snapshots with Text

Essays for Fun

Ken Burch's Tales

Ken's Neocron Tales

More Neocron Tales

Secret Wars

Tales of the Walker Clan

Our Cast

Why Kevin Doesn't Dance

Writing of Mine That Doesn't Totally Suck

Stuff dl Thinks Is Cool

The Old, Old Grandma Story

The Final Battle

James' Photos

James Meyer's Birds:

Introduction

Photos 1 through 25

Photos 26 through 50

Photos 51 through 75

Photos 76 through 100

Reading

` a book cover

Playing

alChandler's Halls



Serving dozens since 1999


Two Gaming Notes

The first is that while I didn't come close to finishing Subnautica I've enjoyed the 19 hours I played it. After that it became repetitive and frustrating and I called it a day. Still, it made me feel a bit kinder towards survival games. Not enough to seek another one out but enough to make me consider a playing a game with a survival component if it's in a franchise I like.

Next, I'm playing the Prey expansion, Prey: Mooncrash. I couldn't get a handle on it until I listened to this week's Gamers with Jobs Podcast. Sean Sands described it as a rougelike game and that helped me get into it, not that I'm fond of rougelikes. I played my share of them 20 years ago or so but never really developed a taste for the genre. Still, after a somewhat rocky start I'm finding my way around Pytheas Moonbase.

June 21, 2018


I Never Seem to Smile in Pictures

But I have smiled in the past, apparently.

June 19, 2018


Subnautica: Beacons

Beacons are things you build to mark important locations that you'll want to return to. In theory you should be able to find fragments to scan early in the game and by the time you're 17 hours in like I am you should have locations marked all over the ocean. I just found the last beacon fragment I needed a little while ago, story of my life.

June 18, 2018


Peter Strzok and Lisa Page of the FBI

Strzok is the FBI agent who was in charge of the investigation into Trump's campaign. Page is a lawyer for the FBI. While the Trump investigation was going on, Page sent this text to Strzok:

[Trump's] not ever going to become president, right?

And Strzok responded with:

No. No he won't. We'll stop it.

And I'm sure that agents make all sorts of comments about the folks they're investigating. Unfortunately for Strzok and Page there was an investigation into the investigation and now their texts are in the New York Times and boy do they make the FBI look bad.

And I feel sorry for them both. The Justice Department's inspector said that while their texts made the FBI look like shit , there's no evidence that the investigation was compromised. But I expect that their careers are, at best, stalled. Still, there is a certain common sense factor here. And I'd like to know if the texts were sent via their phone company's IM or were they using the FBI's own internal IM. Although it might not matter, I wouldn't be surprised to find out that when you work for the FBI you give them the right to search through your private stuff without a subpoena. You know the drill, "Caesar's wife must be above suspicion." Hell, even in my old job I was told that my private conduct could be cause for termination. of course the guy who said that was our first chief inspector, Dave Mullane. And he was a retired FBI agent.

June 15, 2018


Phone Phun

Today an Android update got pushed to my phone. A couple of hours later I discovered that I was no longer able to make outgoing phone calls. Actually that's not true, I got an error message telling me I had to redial the number with a 1 and the area code. Naturally I took no notice and began searching for evidence of Verizon outages. And being a lovably paranoid fellow, I began to suspect that the Android update broke my phone.

But this is what really happened, here's a map of NJ area codes:

See the green area? This year new phone numbers in that area will be assigned the new 640 area code but existing numbers will keep the old 609 area code and by fall everybody will need to dial 1 and the area code even if they're dialing someone in the same area code. And I remember that at the beginning of the year Verizon suggested that everybody should get used to dialing 11 digits instead of 7 and naturally I ignored that until today when Verizon insisted I start using 11 digits.

So I've been going through my address book, updating phone numbers. Learn from my mistakes, it's too late for me but you can yet be spared anguish.

June 15, 2018


Paul Manafort

When I think of criminal conspiracies I kind of picture Phillip Price, CEO of E Corp, doing business with Zhi Zhang, the Chinese Minister of State Security on Mr. Robot. In real life we get chuckleheads like Paul Manafort. Manafort put up $10 million in bail and was placed under house arrest. And all he had to do to keep from being jailed before his trial in September was to avoid doing blatantly stupid things. So naturally Manafort contacted people on the government's witness list and tried to get influence their testimony. Manafort is now in jail.

It's not rocket science, if avoiding a guilty verdict depends on witnesses lying for you and you have no problems with perverting the course of justice then you make sure you hire a lawyer who's willing to suborn witnesses, you don't handle that yourself.

One of Mrs. Silverman's favorite words is hubris. And I suppose that when you've been laundering money for nine years you start to think of yourself as invincible. But once you're confined to your apartment and wearing an ankle bracelet, that air of invincibility should fade. Unless you're stupid.

June 15, 2018


Opportunity Knocks

The Opportunity rover on Mars is hibernating because a huge sandstorm has cut off its access to sunlight, the rover being solar powered and all. And I'm reminded of a cartoon that Randall Munroe did when Opportunity's twin, Spirit, couldn't move because of a gummed up wheel. It functioned for a few more months as an immobile research platform but sand built up on its solar panels and it died from lack of sunlight.

On the other hand, maybe it wouldn't be too bad if Opportunity never came out of hibernation.

June 14, 2018


Legion: Behind Blue Eyes

This season of Legion began with a telepathic fight between David Haller, a powerful mutant and the son of Charles Xavier, and Oliver Bird another mutant telepath being controlled by Amahl Farouk the Shadow King. That fight was presented symbolically as a dance off. The season ended with a fight between David and Farouk and while a bit stylized was far more direct.

June 14, 2018


Ladies and Gentlemen: Seth Grossman

Seth Grossman is a Republican running for the congressional seat that is currently held by Frank LoBiondo. After watching this video I'm convinced he's some kind of Democrat plant whose job is to swing the race to Van Drew.

June 13, 2018


Reliving My Youth

It's six in the morning and tomorrow I'm going to die but I was trying to get my scanner room attached to the rest of my base. It's a special module, it's finicky and I started messing with it at four and went on some kind of vision quest to get the thing attached. So I'm sharing the status of my base with you guys. It's not much but it's the first real structure I've built in a game voluntarily. Hell, as a kid my dad bought me Legos and Lincoln Logs to try to get me enthused about building stuff and I turned my nose up at them. If could only see me now.

June 12, 2018


Subnautica and Cvberpunk 2077

That is a one person sub called a seamoth and the best transportation I can build at this stage of the game. With it I should be able to get the lead and silver I need to start work on my base.

You see, this is how they rope you in, same as crack dealers.

And that is the first trailer for CD Projekt's next game Cyberpunk 2077. Their last game was Witcher 3 and I lived in that wolrd for about a year so I'm looking forward to this one, although I expect we won't see it until early 2020.

June 10, 2018


Under the Sea

I discovered that I hadn't reinstalled Fraps on Kosh since Rolf installed the new hard drive. Then I discovered I had the trial version with the 30 second limit. But I posted the video anyway, poked around on my backup drive and found the full version. By the way, those things that shoot gas out their bulbous tails are sort of like manatees. Until I took this video I didn't realize that they were the ones shooting that stuff at me.

June 9, 2018


And Now for Something Completely Different

I hate, absolutely hate crafting in games. But these days it's a huge part of a lot of games, I'm looking at you Pillars of Eternity 2. So yesterday I decided to try something new; the game Subnautica is a survival game, a genre I abhor. But by all accounts the game is gorgeous (it is) and it was on sale for $20 so I bought it on spec. The idea is that your starship was damaged, your escape pod landed on a water world and now you have to survive and, one presumes, eventually find a way off the planet. For the last day and a half I've been trying to find the resources to make a repair tool. I've succeeded (that's it in my hand) and have enough rubber left over to make a pair of swim fins.

The normal game requires you to get resources to synthesize food and water but there's the option to turn that off, sort of like playing Minecraft without the wandering monsters. That was greatly appreciated.

June 9, 2018


A Bad Year for Gaming

Not for gamers and the industry as a whole. For that matter, not even for me personally, not really. But I like to finish games and I haven't done too well at that this year.

When I bought Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire I knew it was a pirate game at heart and I knew there was a ship to manage, a crew to keep happy and enemy ships to combat and none of that appealed to me. But it was an RPG and I like RPGs and besides, I finished the first game, Pillars of Eternity so why not? And tonight I was level 14 and getting my ass kicked at the lowest difficulty setting because I hadn't gone sailing, exploring the islands and sacking ships. I had gotten 44 hours out of the game and I realized I was dreading playing any further, so I pulled the plug. The mad god Eothas can fuck up the world without worrying about me.

That doesn't mean Eothas will get a pass forever. I'll probably go back to it sometime. It's just that I sort of feel like a guy who loves golfing and at 62 his game declines. Is it permanent or is he just in a slump? Either way he'll keep golfing.

And tonight I discovered I preordered Vampyre, I was looking at it and was surprised to see it was in my library, in fact I bought it last September. Of course I may go for a refund since some people on the boards are saying that the PC controls suck, or rather the keyboard/mouse controls suck. I'll try them out and if it's too annoying I'll request one. It's designed for a controller really (didn't know that in September) and the KB/M controls annoy a lot of people. Others say the KB/M controls are adequate, if not great. Seems the real annoyance is an inability to rebind keys. We'll see.

Update: In fact the controls are terrible. Life goes on.

June 8, 2018


Farthing

I just finished Farthing by Jo Walton. It's a detective story set in an alternate Britain where Rudolf Hess' peace mission was successful. In 1949 Britain and Germany are at peace and an inspector from the Yard is called in to investigate a murder on a country estate. It was a good book and it's part of a trilogy but somehow I can't quite bring myself to read the second novel Ha'penny, not yet. The first was too depressing. And reading three novels in a row about Britain as Hitler's ally is a bit much, especially in 2018 when we have venial, bigoted chuckleheads running the show in Washington.

But I will get around to it.

June 6, 2018


Social Security

Blame Lewis Carroll for this post. At the end of March Donna gave me a new Kindle as a birthday present. Today I realized that I hadn't put the five Carroll books that are important to me back on, so I downloaded Alice in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass, The Hunting of the Snark, Sylvie and Bruno and Sylvie and Bruno Concluded. Then I realized that there was a book about him that I wanted to read, In the Shadow of the Dreamchild: The Myth and Reality of Lewis Carroll by Karoline Leach. Most Carroll scholars think that he was a repressed pedophile who was sexually attracted to prepubescent girls. Leach's book argued that he was attracted to adult women and had many friends who were adult women. That the myth of Charles Dodgson hankering after 10 year old Alice Liddell was just that, a myth.

So I downloaded it just now from Amazon.

Here's the thing, I turned 40 in 1996 and around the same time I enrolled in deferred comp at work. Deferred comp worked a little like a 401(k) plan, money you put in deferred comp was tax deductible until it was withdrawn. I had a pension plan but figured deferred comp was a good way of saving money for an emergency. So from my early 40s until retirement any raise I got was added to the money I had deducted for deferred comp. When I decided to retire I realized that the money I'd been clearing after taxes and the amount of my pension check was almost the same. That was nice but because the state of my pension fund is so shaky, the Legislature suspended cost of living raises until the plan gets firmed up, sometime in the early 22nd century I'm guessing.

And all this means that I've been living on the same income for about 20 years. I'm not complaining, it was a choice and I wouldn't change my decisions about that if I could. But this year I took early social security and I got my first really big raise in a long time. And while I've no intention of going crazy, if I want to spend $9.99 on a book about Carroll I can do it without thinking about it.

A nice feeling that.

June 3, 2018


Mr. Warmth

From left to right, Donna, Caty and some miserable old fucker who wandered into the shot. Jesus, I've got to practice smiling.

June 2, 2018