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


Upgrade Too!

That is my old card, a GTX 970, I had a love/hate relationship with it. For four years it did yeoman service but the card had a design flaw that caue it to emit a high pitched whine when it was working hard. I didn't effect anything and it wasn't overheating it was just annoying as hell.

And that is the new card. It's big, powerful and as far as I know its cooking coils don't whine when they start working.

And that's Newton who played in the box and enjoyed poking around in Rolf's stuff.

I took a quick look at Shadow of the Tomb Raider and it does look good. Paradoxically, after my intense and ultimately unpleasant experience with Divinity Original Sin 2 I'm in more of a reading mood then a gaming mood. But Shadow of the Tomb Raider looks nice indeed. As well it should, 1080 Ti cards are still a tad overpriced, it's a supply and demand thing, bitcoin miners were using it, and other cards, to generate new coins and the price shot through the roof. It's come down but at one time a 1080 Ti was going for over $1,200. But such is late stage capitalism.

September 22, 2018


Upgrade!

In February I got a new hard drive, not by choice but because my old hard drive died a horrible, painful death. But today I'm getting a new video card voluntarily, a GTX 1080 Ti. I'd like to get a shot of the beast before Rolf installs it and I'm hoping that if I write and post this now I'll remember to take a picture tomorrow.

September 22, 2018


The Portrait of Mrs. Charbuque

I'm in the mood to reread The Portrait of Mrs. Charbuque a novel written by Jeffrey Ford. In 1893 Piero Piambo is a painter who gets well paid for portraits of New York city's rich. He's starting to feel like he's lost something along the way when he's given a novel commission, Mrs. Charbuque wants her portrait painted but with the condition that Piambo can't see her face. She'll be behind a screen and while he can't see her he's free to talk to her. If Charbuque is satisfied with the painting she'll pay double leaving Piambo wealthy enough to stop doing portraits and start painting what he feels like. It's been years since I read this one.

September 21, 2018


The Last of Tolkien

Tolkien started work on what was eventually published in 1977 as The Silmarillion during WWI. After the success of The Hobbit he hoped that his publisher would be interested in his older, and to his mind more serious work. But George Allen & Unwin wanted a sequel to The Hobbit so that's what Tolkien tried to give them. But while The Lord of the Rings was set in the Third Age it was driven by events that took place in the First and Second Ages. Eventually The Lord of the Ring was about the passing of the Elder Days and the end of magic. The Elves would go west or fade, the Ents and Dwarves would die off and Middle-earth would become humanity's exclusive domain.

Tolkien died in 1973 and his son Christopher labored mightily get the enormous material of The Silmarillion into a publishable form. He succeed, at least I think he did, and spent the rest of his life editing his father's writings in what became the 12 volume History of Middle-earth He finished with that in 1996 but he continued to release books culled from Tolkien's unpublished material and The Fall of Gondolin is the last of these. Christopher Tolkien is 93, he's retired from the family trust and he's hung up his editing cap.

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was well served by Christopher John Reuel Tolkien and I hope C. J. R. Tolkien enjoys his leisure time. But it's a little sad that the well of Tolkien material has finally run dry.

September 21, 2018


Gwydian Rince

So then, I've put 60 hours into this and while I've had a good time, it's been getting frustrating, even though I'm playing on story mode. I'm level 12, everything is one to three levels ahead of me and then there's Gwydian Rince.

In order to get some training I needed I had to rescue him. I did so and a fight erupted between my group, his captors and some oil blobs that appeared on the scene. I've been trying to get through this fight on and off for a couple of days. Tonight I was doing well on the fight when Rince, who's AI is terrible, left my party, attacked one of the bigger oil blobs and died. That pretty much ended any desire I had to continue the game. It's 2018, if you can't do a competent job on an NPC's AI then have him cower in fear until the fight is over.

Still, at 110 hours I got my money's worth. Next up is Shadow of the Tomb Raider. I bought a new video card today and I'm going to hold off on the game until Rolf installs it.

September 19, 2018


A Short Divinity Update

While I haven't updated this page in six days I have been busy. Since getting the update for Divinity Original Sin 2 I've put in a lot of time into the game:

It doesn't seem that long but then again, when I'm having fun it never does.

By the way, there was a mansion in a graveyard that I was never able to enter in my earlier play throughs of the game. Today after getting no response from the front door I decided to look around and found a side door. I knocked, the door asked me a few questions, I answered honestly and it let me in. Go figure.

September 18, 2018


The Header Picture

I ran alChandler's picture through Prisma and I'm throwing it up as the new header picture just to see if it sticks. Before I created this version of him in DOS 2 this was the canonical version of alChandler:

That's from an old game called Kingpin and the image of alChandler as balding and just a little past his prime has stuck with me for the last 19 years. And today he's back to being a dwarf, he's a few years past his prime and still wields a mean hammer.

September 12, 2018


alChandler 1980

I've mentioned that al-Chandler was originally created for a life action role playing game I participated in back in 1980. I pictured him as a sort of Bedouin dwarf from a nomadic tribe who had given up mines and caves for the desert. That game was a one shot but for some reason I remembered his name and when I played Ultima 2 in 1983 my character was a dwarf named alChandler. And just now while playing him in DOS 2 I realized that this picture is fairly close to what I was going for 38 years ago. In fact I may keep this shot around to use as the page's logo one day.

September 11, 2018


Say Hello to the Gang

So then from left to right it's the Red Prince, the dispossessed ruler of a kingdom somewhere. There are assassins targeting him but he's a good fighter and he's not the only member of the party who has to deal with that. Then there's alChandler. In this game he's back to his original form, a dwarf of the desert. He's also godwoken. That means the god of the dwarves, Duna, wants him to take his place by his side and kick the shit out of the gods of humans, elves and the rest. He's not too sure how he feels about that.

Behind him is the ghost of Sir Lora, a squirrel riding an undead cat. Sir Lora came with the update and he died almost immediately, but I got him back the first time I communed with Duna in the spirit world.

On alChandler's left is Lohse, an enchanter. She has a demon inside her who takes over from time to time. Otherwise she's quite nice.

Finally there's Ifan ben-Mezd. He's a wayfarer, they're like rangers except they can kill people for money. But so far he's been a nice enough chap.

I just finished the boss fight that ends the first section of Divinity Original Sin 2, I won on my first try. The last time I played the game I never got past it so as far as I'm concerned story mode rules. Even so, alChandler died in the battle. But story mode gives everyone the ability to rez the fallen without having to use a rez scroll.

You know, I played the firts game in the Divinity series, Divine Divinity when it came out in 2002. I found it too hard and never finished it. Didn't deal with the series again until Divinity: Original Sin in 2014. I found it far too difficult but I tried it again in 2015 when the enhanced edition arrived. The combat was easier but I found it boring. But this time I'm actually having fun. In fact since the expansion dropped I've put in 14 hours. I may actually finish a Divinity game for once.

September 11, 2018


The Book of Wonder

The Book of Wonder is a collection of short stories written by Lord Dunsany and published in 1912. Dunsany wrote fantasy and his books were illustrated by a wonderful artist named Sidney Sime. In his earlier books, Dunsany would write the stories and Sime would draw something based on them but with The Book of Wonder they reversed the process:

'I found Mr Sime one day, in his strange house at Worplesdon, complaining that editors did not offer him very suitable subjects for illustration; so I said: "Why not do any pictures you like, and I will write stories explaining them, which may add a little to their mystery?"

Now you can find Dunsany's stuff at Gutenberg and at Amazon but the curious thing is that nobody thought to release The Book of Wonder in ebook format with all of Sime's illustrations included. But a few days ago I discovered that these people did just that. And all I can add if you like dream like, elegant and witty fantasies you should check him out. By the way the illustration at the top goes with a story called The Distressing Tale of Thanngobrind the Jeweler.

September 10, 2018


And So the Warlock Rests

Lyacon has gone from level 34 to level 60 in about a month. Not only can he use flying mounts, he has access to the cool ones that alChandler has acquired over the years. I parked him on the other side of the Dark Portal in World of Warcraft's first expansion, The Burning Legion but for the moment I'm going to rest for a couple of days and then tackle Divinity: Original Sin 2 - Definitive Edition. I may get back to him though, a warlock is fun to play.

September 8, 2018


Closing in on 60

I just logged off World of Warcraft Lyacon is more then half way to level 59. That means that by Sunday he'll be 60 and able to use a flying mount.

That was my goal for Lyacon and once I hit 60 I'll fly around for a bit and then go back to Divinity: Original Sin 2 - Definitive Edition. But come October I'll take out alChandler and mess about in the latest expansion. And who knows? I just might take Lyacon through the Dark Portal in the Blasted Lands and see if Blizzard has made any changes to the game's first expansion.


So Much for Clive Staples Lewis

I finally finished Lewis's Space Trilogy. I last read it 15 years ago. If that holds then the next time I pick it up will be in my late 70s. God knows what I'll think of it at 77.

Today I went to Books a Million to buy Tolkien's The Fall of Gondolin but they were out so I ordered it from Amazon. Somehow I can't bring myself to read Tolkien on the Kindle. I also ordered a two volume edition of The Book of the New Sun. I gave my hard copies of that away and realized that I wanted go back to that book to reread certain passages. If you like to do that with a book then paper is better then an ereader, at least it is for me.

So much for books.

9/7/18 addendum: I don't prefer reading The Book of the New Sun in paper, I just want a paper copy for reference.

September 6, 2018


Warcraft and Other Stuff

At this point, I've pretty much got a handle on playing World of Warcraft and I'd like to seriously start Divinity Original Sin 2: Definitive Edition. But I'm very close to level 56 and I really want to give Lyacon the ability to ride flying mounts, so I'll stick with it for another week or so until I hit level 60.

And I'll be getting up early for a few days this week and next week. I do not bounce back from getting up early the way I used to.

September 5, 2018


I'm Becoming a Dotard

You know, as I was trying to figure out what was wrong with Divinity: Original Sin 2 - Definitive Edition I read several posts from people complaining that the game was being blocked by their antivirus software. And did I check to see if my antivirus software was blocking the game? No, I did not.

Long story short, it was, it's not anymore and the game starts normally. I truly thought I was going to have another couple of good years before senility really started to set in.

September 1, 2018


A Couple of Gaming Thoughts

For the last three weeks I've been playing Lyacon, my worgen warlock in World of Warcraft. In that time he's gone from level 34 to 49. I'm not sure if I'm just better at the game then a few years ago or if Blizzard made the game easier in the three years I was away from it. I remember reading that they felt the expansions were substantially better then the original area and they wanted to allow people to get to the "good stuff" as quickly as possible.

And yesterday I downloaded Divinity: Original Sin 2 - Definitive Edition and it wouldn't load. For that matter the original game wouldn't run either after the rather lengthy download. The solution was to go to go into the game's directory in the Steam folder and launch the game via a file called EoCApp.exe, at least that was the solution for me. I created a desktop shortcut for the file.

And here's the thing, I was able to follow the directions posted on a gaming board from Reddit and get the game going. And at one time if you were going to use a computer you, or someone you knew, had to know about directories, files and how to do a little basic editing of your startup files. But those days are long gone and I wonder how many users are comfortable with following instructions like these:

It has helped several people to start the game as admin. To do this, go to the install folder of the game, which is under the Program Files (x86) folder of Steam. There go to the path steamapps\common\Divinity Original Sin 2\DefEd\bin\ and right-click EoCApp.exe and choose properties. In the compatibility tab, check the box "Run this program as an administrator", and click OK.

Because while you had to have a certain level of knowledge to use a computer in the 90s, these days they're pretty reliable, provided you don't do anything stupid like click on the pornographic link somebody sent you. And I don't meant to dump on Larian here, the company is aware of the problem and they're working on it. It's just that at one time I expected to have to go under the hood, as it were, to get a new game to run. These days it happens so seldom that when it does it stands out.

September 1, 2018


Cyberpunk 2077

CD Projekt Red did Witcher 3 a game I lived in for about a year. This is footage from their upcoming game Cyberpunk 2077. It was shown at this year's E3 and they've finally release it to the world. We're presuming that the game will drop sometime in late 2019.

And now, if I can go into grouchy mode, no this is not a demo. A demo is a short, playable version of the game, this is a movie. It really bothers me when these previews are called demos.

August 27, 2018


Adam and Eve

As myths go, the Adam and Eve story is no better or worse then most of them. The problem with it occurred after folks decided that God was omnipotent and omniscient. Originally God gave the kids a command, they disobeyed and God threw them out of Eden, partially to prevent them from taking a nosh on the fruit of the tree of life. God was put out by their disobedience and didn't seem to able to revoke the immortality the tree of life would have given them.

But add God's omniscience into the mix and the story becomes ridiculous. God knew what they would do in advance so he might have saved time and created them outside of Eden. The whole thing makes me grumpy, probably more then it should. But I was raised a Catholic and that shit does grate.

It's possible for a believer to write good fiction about religious matters, Gene Wolfe and R. A. Lafferty did it, but I'm afraid that Lewis just can't pull it off.

By the way, as I was writing this I discovered that Lafferty's The Reefs of Earth is out in Kindle format. Wonderful.

August 27, 2018


Stage 9

Stage 9 was the sound stage on the Paramount lot where Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Voyager were filmed. It's also the name of a project to recreate the Enterprise-D in the Unreal Engine. The main site is here or you can just download the latest version.

I remember talking to Rolf about Trek games in the 90s, I didn't want a Trek game, I just wanted to explore the Enterprise. That's what Stage 9 does. If you feel like checking it out you'll need a core i5 or better, 6+GB RAM and a Nvidia GTX 600+ / AMD HD7800+ GPU.

Generally, Paramount has been pretty good about allowing people to do stuff with their intellectual property. Their one rule is you can't profit from your work. That means no Kickstarter, no ads on your site, that sort of thing. They established that in the mid 90s. After graphic web browsers were introduced there were a lot of Trek sites and after a bit Paramount started sending out cease and desist orders. They took the unusual step of explaining their action on the rec.arts.startrek group. The sites that were served had banner ads and the lawyers were defending their property, or something like that anyway.

And dear me, I haven't been on Usenet in ages. I used to have special software to read newsgroups back in the day.

August 26, 2018