Saturday, June 27, 2009

Blogging into adulthood.

So, in 33 minutes, I will be 18. I will be a legal adult, no longer a minor. Wow. I don't know when this happened. Well, I guess it's just a number really, maturity doesn't equal age and visa versa. All the same, it's unnerving. Does that make me a man? I don't think so. I've been thinking a lot about what makes a man. I think at this stage I could call myself a man.

What makes a man a man? Well, for starters, you kinda need a Y chromosome. Sorry ladies. Check.
You need a certain age. You can't really be a man at 12. I don't think so, anyway.

Other than that, it's kinda conjecture for me. See, I know what makes a Good man, but just a regular man? I think you just need the above. At any rate, I don't really want to be a man so much as I want to be a good man. The relief is, I won't ever really be a perfectly good man, 'cause no-one is good, really. You couldn't say someone is good and never have them prove you wrong. We all make mistakes, (Especially me), so I don't think you could call someone "Good" when they have bad in them, any more than you could call a lump of Iron mixed with Tin "Iron". You could call it "An iron/tin composite", maybe even "mostly iron", but you couldn't call it just iron.

I think Jesus was a Good man. So who I want to be more like is Jesus. I think a man is just a boy who has reached a certain age and changed enough psyically to have gotten through the majority of his changing, unstable years. I think a man has certain responsibilities to be expected of him. So I think a man is someone who is capable of dealing with certain responsibilities and someone who has fair, expectable responsibilities. I think there are young boys in Africa who act with much more manliness than I do. Expected to take care of your family after the death of your parents? That's a man's job. Unfortunately, these are still 8 year old boys, who have to act like men, when they're not. A fair expectation for boys would be to ask them not to make too much of a mess of their room, and to play nice, and to share with their siblings. They're given unfair responsibilities. 

Well, that kinda changed the point. 

I think Jesus is God, and God is Love.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 

Love never fails

Let's paraphrase that. 

A Good man is patient, a good man is kind. He does not envy, he does not boast, he is not proud. He is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not easily angered, he keeps no record of wrongs. A good man does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. A good man always trusts, always hopes, always preserves. 

A Good man never fails.

Now, let me say, I can do none of those things. Not all the time. I lose my cool, sometimes act harsh, envy people like crazy sometimes, boast more than makes sense, quite proud, but getting better! I make rude jokes, seek for myself a lot, but, once again, getting better, get angry at certain things that get said, and totally hold things against people. I don't know if I delight in evil, but I certainly laugh when people land on their faces on Youtube. I also laughed at a joke about Michael Jackson's death. I dunno if that could really be called "Evil" though. I laugh Evilly from time to time. I do rejoice in the truth though! Sometimes though I think the truth is a pain. I don't always trust, I sometimes lose hope, and I sometimes give up. 

But God loves me anyway! I think what I'll try to do is try my best to be more like Love, more like Jesus, more like God. Maybe that's a christian man's job. Actually, I'd say that's also a christian woman's job. But, these things are shown differently. Different, but similar. Very confusing. I probably don't know what I'm talking about. But that's ok.

Well, I'm 18 now. It feels a lot like being 17, but more responsibility. And more strength to meet that responsability. I don't know how to spell responsability. How Irrisponsible of me! :P

Think I'm gonna go pray now.

"When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me."
1 Corinthians 13:11 - NIV

PS: Don't worry, I believe I can still be relatively silly and funny. That's not childish, that's just fun :P

Regina Spektor Meets the Combine Overwatch and other short stories.

From time to time, I decide to play videogames with custom background music. This usually goes one of two ways: 1: Freakin' epic with each beat of the drum synchronizing with my actions, or
2: Falls flat on it's face with songs about completely innapropriate subject matter.

This time, it was more of 1 and less of 2.

For this venture, I created a Regina Spektor playlist: "Regina Spektor Jamage" (Akin to "Relient k Jamage"). I picked some of her more acoustically busy and intense songs from the albums "Begin to Hope" and "Far", the only ones I own. the funner, louder ones, to the exclusion of her deeper ones, I suppose, but one does not ponder life in the middle of a gunfight. Ok, maybe in movies, but they have a word for people who do that in videogames: The dead guy.

The game? Half-life 2. You play freaky time-travelling theoretical physicist Gordon Freeman *applause* armed with lots of guns, your mission is to free earth from her current occupiers, the evil "Combine". Dun dun duuun! It's better than it sounds. I've replayed this game about 3 times, and this time was my fourth. My current run is on the level: "Water Hazard", possibly one of the most memorable levels of the game for the water-based combat and wonderful blend of vehicular manslaughter with gunfights. So, here is how the playlist broke down, with rather hilarious and awesome consequences:
(PS: if you don't know the songs, check 'em out on iTunes or youtube, then buy the album! It's awesome)

1: One more time with feeling: A goodly portion of this song was going through the menu, loading the game, etc, but it certainly had a good feel to it, as I climbed into my waterskimmer, driving around, getting back into the game, going up against the combine, one more time with feeling.

2:Eet: Beautiful song, really, came in just around when the combine overwatch started dropping down, got some nice synchronization of me thwacking bad guys with piano in the background. And had the lovely instrumental hit just as I was midair, quite lovely.

3: Samson: Investigating the Overrun resistance red barn outpost, very gentle song for shooting zombies, but go figure.

4: Folding Chair: Very peppy, happy song, definately one of my favorites. I gleefully dodged rocket-fire from tanks, swerving dangerously to the beat. And did a physics puzzle or two.

5: The Calculation: Broke into the first combine base on this level, found grenades, killed some overwatch, all that good stuff.

6: Dance Anthem of the 80's: Finished the first base, and hit the water. Then, came something everyone will remember about this level: The "Hunter-Chopper", a helicopter gunship that inspires both fear and loathing (except the game takes place in Europe, not Las Vegas). I was dodging gunfire and bombs, driving for my life to the cheerful lyrics "You-oo-oo-oo-ooh are-are-are-are-are so--oh-oh-oh-oh-oh sweet-eet-eet-eet-eet-eet-eet-eet-eet". Out of place, but hilarious.

7: Laughing with: Went through this song avoiding bombs from the plane. Jerk drops 'em all over the place and on hard mode, they wipe out about a quarter of your health if you run into one. I thought this song was pretty out of place, but then the lyric hit me: "No-one's laughing at God". To paraphrase from the usual suspects: "A friend of mine said 'I don't believe in God but I'm afriad of him.' I believe in God, and I'm afraid of the Hunter chopper." Maybe some sort of Zeus, dropping timed explosives from on high. I certainly wasn't laughing at the Hunter Chopper.

8: Two Birds: This song was pretty appropriate, at this stage you've been driving away from this HELL-icopter for half the level, it was pretty sweet, like a sparring match, the chopper dropping bombs on me, and I quickly swirling around the connect-the-dots of doom. I tell you what though: "Two Birds on the waaaater, one flies away, and the other, swerves through bombs and gunfire." And one of the birds is a giant steel monstrosity with a gun.

9: On the Radio: This one started out as I approached the second combine base, dodging missles from tanks, the line "It feels a little worse/ then when we drove that hearse/right through that screaming crowd" was applicable. Played on as I infiltrated the second combine base. I experimented with the revolver and the machine gun, one-shotting enemies Dirty Harry style one moment, and filling them full of lead the next. Escaped the base, got back in my waterskimmer, and drove off. Then got exploded by the chopper.

10: Better: Reloaded last save, and this time, I escaped the base, but better. As in, not getting exploded by the chopper. Drove on, classic near-death experiences with the chopper. Got killed a few times here, and I don't think a kiss would make me feel better. 

11: Edit: Did some physics puzzles, drove on, more chopper, yadda-yadda yadda. Approached Rebel outpost. Oh yes, the next track had the best part of this whole Friggin' level.

12: Blue lips: Drove into rebel base, and then, my waterskimmer got an upgrade. A gun. As a matter of fact, a gun from a fallen Hunter-Chopper. To quote the rebel: "I always love to bring a little Irony to a firefight!". As I drove off, I heard a Vortigaunt shout: "For Freedom!". Drove on. The Hunter-chopper dropped down over the water to harras and bully me. I filled it full of lead, and it's siren wailed, it pulled a hasty retreat, the siren sounding off like a dog's whine. Drove hard, gunning down dropships and combine overwatch, this song was really great for this action sequence, with lines like "and all the Gods and all the worlds began colliding on a backdrop of bluuuue", and "all the people walked by real fast, real fast, and they never smiled"

13: Wallet. Saw the big empty Arena ahead, the final showdown between me and the Hunter-Chopper was coming right up, I gathered supplies and drove on, into the climax of the level.

14: Fidelity: Pretty chipper song for gunning down your worst enemy, Regina pondered risking herself to fall in love, as The Chopper and I filled the skies full of lead, explosions in the background going off like firework crescendos. This time, there were two birds, and both were metal monsters with guns. The battle ended with the song, as the Chopper flied at me, guns blazing, and I drove at the chopper, guns blazing also, like two knights steeling each other as they race at each other, to see which one will fall. "And it breaks my heart, breaks my heart...." I looked back as I passed the Chopper, it crashed to the Ground in pieces just as she said "Breaks my heart". Maybe I should've been playing the last level of Portal. :P

15: Riot Gear: Nice cooldown song, as I blew through the final combine outpost.

"And in my best Sashimi dress And marble arch supporting shoes I am a vision in my horse-drawn tank" -Regina Spektor: Riot Gear

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Introducing a friend to TF2

So, now my friend Damian has joined the ranks of me and Nexus as TF2 players. Insofar as that we play that game, not that we are 'playas' in the sense of being ladies' men. Anyway, back on topic, this was dear Damo's first time playing Team Fortress two, so all the basics had to be covered. After some trouble with his firewall, I found an empty dustbowl server and settled in, waiting for him to join. I selected spy class with the cloak and dagger, and he joined the server. Luckily, alltalk was enabled, so I was able to just chat to him over the microphone. "Pick a class, and wander about", I said. "I'll find you soon enough." I went invisible, and snuck off to explore the map and see where he was. I found him in one of the tunnels, he had selected the Heavy class. "Perfect, that's the easiest class to learn!" thought to myself. I decloaked in front of him, in introduced him to the wonderful world of Team fortress 2.

We covered weapon basics, firing your weapon, reloading your weapon, spinning up the minigun in preparation, ammo packs, medkits, all that good stuff. I even showed him how a spy can instantly backstab any enemy that's not facing him for an instant kill. I apologised shortly after murdering him. :P He found the complex abilities of the spy pretty cool, mainly the whole invisibility and disguising thing. Unfortunately, the server then crashed, but we managed to find another suitably empty one, Gravel pit. Here, he learned about the other classes through experience, always coming back as a different class to try something new. I introduced capturing and defending controll points to him:

"Ok Damo, your goal is to capture this controll point. You just capture it by standing on it. Unfortunately, since I'm a defender, and I'm standing on it too, you can't capture it while I'm standing on it. So you need to get me off this plattform."
*Damo Fires a rocket into Phiasmir's face*
*Phiasmir's body explodes into a thousand itty bitty pieces*
*controll point captured*
"Good work, young padawan."

I then explained the constant battle between spies and pyros to him:

"Ok Damo, I'm a pyro, and you're a spy. We are mortal enemies. You should be afraid of me. Because I can..."
*Damo begins shooting Phiasmir in the face with his revolver*
"Hey! Hey! Not that afraid...."

After *accidentally* killing him as a pyro, and after we had practiced all the ins-and-outs of the classes, from headshots to sentry guns, we decided to try our hands at a real, live-fire match online. This was good fun! Damo stuck with what he knew, the heavy. And I decided to play Medic, to give him a healing hand when he needed it. 
Our first try had it's ups and downs, and it appeared Damian had contracted some...  problems.

..Oh dear. Well, I healed him up anyway, it's just an arrow to the brain!

We encountered the same problem again and again, the eternal struggle of large russian men and medieval weaponry implanted in their brain.

Triumph! Arrow through your cerebellum or not, teamwork with an Ubercharge allowed us to win the day!

Damo did really well for his first go, I'm looking forward to contintuing to show him the ropes and train with him! Arrows or not.

"Every one of you deserves a medal!" - The Soldier, Team fortress 2

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Black Water

I got this awesome mug for christmas a while back, the aperture thermal-insulation liquid-storage-and-transferral device. It's actually quite a beauty to behold, like a piece of smoothly carved obsidian. Whatever moderately transparent liquids I put in it instantly take on it's smooth, black sheen, it's a little off-putting, like some sort of demonic chalice of unchangable corruption. Except not. My asked me if I'd like some tea today, I said "no thanks." He made me some tea anyway, and then forgot he made it, the teabag sitting there in the mug like a benign tumour. Bless him for making me tea anyway though! Decided to drink it anyway, no sense letting tea go to waste. What passed my lips was a truly unique experience, a very bitter brew as dark and souless as the mug that housed it. Black Water. Whenever Ihear about Jesus drinking God's bitter cup of Wrath on our behalf, I'll remember this tea.

Hey! Remember in book 6 of harry potter when Dumbledore drank that horrible liquid to get to the locket, the horcrux?

Jeremiah 25: 15-16:  15 This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, said to me: "Take from my hand this cup filled with the wine of my wrath and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it. 16 When they drink it, they will stagger and go mad because of the sword I will send among them."
Just realised that now looking for the biblical quote on The bitter cup of God's wrath. 

Dumbledore drank the bitter cup of madness and suffering in Harry's place. Aw JK Rowling, you are a master of biblical allusion!  <3 Dumbledore. 

Pet peeve #192195

Just wanted to rant for a second. This is one of my small pet peeves. One of many, I assume, but that's for another day. My pet peeve: Background noise. I think I'm about the only person who actually has this pet peeve, for most people it enhances or supplements what they are doing. But this drives me nuts. Unfortunately, it applies to most anything. My brother has a podcast playing right now, "Geeknights". Now, I usually love Geeknights, but when it's background noise, it drives me crazy. BN always just splits my focus. Unfortunately, my focus tends not to break evenly, and this just strains my brain. It's given me headaches in the past, call it a man's lack of ability to multitask, or a personal quirk if you don't want to seem sexist! Unfortunately, this means I can't listen to music when I do other stuff. Anything that requires active thought, anyway, which is why I love doing chores, I've scrubbed many a toilet to the melodious voice of Regina Spektor.

For some reason, I am noticing when the clock doubles up. I used to just try to use this as a way to remind myself to pray, but now it's just getting unnerving. Like just now, the clock displayed "14:14". I know that I look at the clock a zillion times a day and this does not happen, but for some reason I've been noticing it when it happens more frequently, and it's just getting a little creepy at this stage. Playing lots of Sims 2.

"23! 23! 23! 23!" - Jim Carrey, "The number 23"

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Blueberry Garden

So, I just tried out the demo to "Blueberry Garden", a five-euro game on The game nexus (No, not phil) known as "Steam". If you don't have steam, I highly reccomend you get it, it's free, has some demos, and games for cheaper than usual, plus, it's better for the enviornment! Plus, Me and Nexus have it, I'll add you if you get it, and I'm sure we can hassle Nexus as well. :P

But onto Blueberry Garden. It's a really different kind of game, not in a revolutionary, change-the-industry kinda way, but in a humble, original kind of way. It won "Best independant game" at the Independant games festival, and I can see why! The gameplay revolves around you, a toucan-penguin-thing running around, exploring this little world into which you have been thrust, eating berries to gain temporary abilities, well, it's all quite simple, download the demo on steam to see what I mean! But one of the best things going for this game is atmosphere. It has some really beautiful piano pieces in it, almost haunting, very in tune with the setting, of a lonely, expansive, empty area to explore. I'm probably gonna buy the full version, but I need a few things first.

I've ordered myself a 3V card, which is like a temporary credit card, and this will allow me to create a paypal account, ideally, and from there I should be able to buy the game off steam! I am slightly hesitant to allow myself free reign to buy whatever I want on the interwubs, I fear I may go slightly mad at first and buy a load of crap I don't need off eBay first. Ah well, I trust I will have some measure of self-controll. God help me if there's retro video games on there though.

Onto more things about videogames. A Bizzare thing happened to me a while back when I decided to re-install Bioshock. Now, the crux of the game's morality choice is the choice of a little girl's life. When you rescue a "Little sister", you have two choices: 1: Harvest her. This kills her, but you recieve far more power and strength in turn, allowing you to stay alive much easier.
2: Rescue her. This saves her life, freeing her from her previous indenture to the Big Daddy, however, you recieve far less power for this, and staying alive is much more difficult.

Now, I never really could play a game style where you harvested the little sisters. I did try it once, it was... terrible. There was no noise. Total silence. When you rescue them, there is a little, helpless girl standing in front of you, thanking you for saving her life. When you harvest them, there is nothing, nothing but silence. So this seemed like the obvious choice, and it was, for me. 

The freakiest thing happened the other day though. I re-installed Bioshock, (I tend to uninstall games once I'm done with them), and thought I'd take a whack at hard mode. Loaded it up, went to Rapture, killed some mooks, and then approached the splicer guarding my next weapon. She was standing over a baby's carriage, and was singing "Mocking Bird" to it, she then started sobbing, asking "Why? why aren't you warm anymore? Why don't you speak? Why can't mommy feel your teeth feeding from her breast? Where did you go, baby?" sobbing like crazy. I can't really capture the moment as you look upon this wretched human being. Inside the pram, is a pistol. The moment you get too close to her, she devolves into any other enemy, with only one goal in mind: Killing you. I watched from afar, and I just could not bring myself to kill her. It was bizzare. It's what you do in games. She's just data, but tip of the hat to 2K studios, she was just so real, I just couldn't kill her. I tried to sneak past her, maybe get a pistol somewhere else. Unfortunately, she noticed me, and started screaming "NOBODY BUT BABY AND ME!" at the top of her lungs, swinging a wrench at my face. I ran and ran, and eventually came to a large pool of water. I thought I would electro-shock the water, stun her, and then run off. No such luck. Shocked the water, and her body just collapsed onto the floor, dead. Another splicer started spriniting at me, and I just turned off the game. I don't know what to think about killing people in games these days, go figure.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

On Bodies

Right now, my heart is beating. It will continue beating until the day I die. It is made of cardiac muscle which never, ever tires, it is physically incapable of tiring like other muscles. Electrical impulses from my brain are telling it to beat. It contracts and expands almost 73 times per minute, this is slightly more than once per second. Due to it's physical structure of valves, this allows it to pump blood through my body. I never thought of it that way, but I am constantly in motion. Every second blood is coursing through my body, supplying oxygen and other things to my muscles. My body contains muscles, which akin to my heart, rely on electrical impulses. There is a way for me to exert my will upon this universe, my conciousness made manifest in my decision to move, to contract and expand my vocal cords, my arms, my fingers. All of this is done without thought. My stomach is consuming my lunch. I had Alfredo. And as we speak my endlessly complex body is producing, creating acid to reduce and destroy it's chemical bonds to release energy into my body, into my blood, for this energy to be used elsewhere. All of this is happening without thought, effortlessly on my behalf, like a great, infinately complex clockwork golem lumbering along unaware of the infinite beauty and complexity housed within himself.

Most of the blood's work is in keeping my brain functioning, it takes up nearly a quarter of my body's energy. It is all made up of cells. And those cells are made up of chemicals, and those chemicals are made of of bonded atoms, and those atoms are made up of neutrons, protons, and electrons, and the neutrons and protons are made up of quarks. Quarks are incapable of thought, of emotion. It is ridiculous that once you stack it all this high, it becomes concious. It becomes capable of thought and emotion and blogging all it's thoughts and feelings. It is all made up of cells and electricity and interactions, and yet through some sort of glorious, beautiful exception, it all makes sense and is alive. And that life is me. I am alive. That is so easily taken for granted, even now as I type this. I have mass, I take up space in this universe. I exist. That is so crazy. That I exist, like some sort of precious gift that was never asked for or understood or even decided to be accepted.

My hands are healing up nicely since the frisbee incident. It is so bizzare to watch your flesh twist and turn and expand and contract and inflame and harden and live and die, all for the purpose of keeping the organism alive. At first it expanded and bled, raw nerves telling my body that something had gone wrong. Then it became gooey. All my body's fluids rose to the surface as if driven by some sort of inner shamanistic medicine man, drying and softening in bizzare colours and patterns. This slowly became flesh, as it was pushed to the surface by the skin beneath it. This hardened very hard, and for a day or so, it was so bizzare to see myself as something other than human, other than myself, but as an organism, the definition of "flesh" stretched to include this self-sacrificing shield formed out of hardened myself created and existing for the sole purpose of defending the vulnerabilities that lied beneath, before eventually  falling away, like a generation of soldiers bent on the safety of future generations. And now my wounds have become my flesh again, my skin, and though they are red, they are also me, and they are cells made of quarks and nuclei, both biological and sub-atomic, and I am the sum of their parts, and yet contain a divine spark that makes me so much more than cells and electricity.

"Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don't be afraid of it, or what other people think of it, it's the greatest instrument you'll ever own.": [Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young] - Mary Schmich

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

On putting your foot in your mouth

"Ah! You can read... I mean, you are reading. Sorry. It's nice to see people reading. Not a lot of people read these days. People prefer to... hear. But all this 'hearing' is just reading for lazy people. Kids today should be prepared to pick up a book, and not just go around the whole time with all these modern... ears. Sometimes I just wanna rip people's ears off and say 'Read a book, for God's sake!'... Well, actually I'd probably say 'Read a book' first and then rip their ears off, otherwise they wouldn't hear me, hehehe... Actually, I probably wouldn't rip their ears off at all, I'm not a violent person. I like ears! Especially women ears, they're my favorite. I don't mean I collect them or anything! I don't have a big bucket of women ears hidden away somewhere. No, No, No, I'm not after your ears really. Not that there's anything wrong with your ears! You know if I was some kind of mad ear person, your ears would be the pride of my... ear bucket." 
— Jeff, Coupling

That is all.

On Perception

I see the world differently through both of my eyes. My left eye sees the world and a greenish blue, and my right eye sees the world as a sandy red. It has always been like this for as long as I can remember, and it is in the back of my eyes, so it will continue to be like this for the rest of my life, like a perpetual battle between dusk and dawn in my skull. No matter what, I will always see the world as a blend of these two different perspectives, like technicolor gone ever so slightly wrong. 

Or is it? Perhaps my left eye sees the world as it truly is, and my right makes things too intense a red. I will never be able to see with these eyes how the world truly is, only how I percieve it now. That is the weird thing about perception, it is so inherently unstable. Describe the orange to me without using other colours to describe it. Your orange could be my purple. Every sunrise you have ever seen could look look like grapes to me. Interestingly, colour does not even exist. It is only how our brains percieve differing wavelengths of light. If it travels with a slightly different wavelength, we percieve it differently. There is no colour, only our perception that it even exists. It is as if I could describe 2 metres as a beautiful sunset and 1 metre as a verdant field of grass. This is just crazy to me. I think emotions work like that as well. Emotions are our way of interpreting and dealing with a situation, but they are merely perception. I'm learning not to lean on emotion too much, because like colour, it is inherently unstable. If I had a perfect mind, perhaps this would not be the case, but trying to understand some things based on emotion alone seems silly to me, my mind and soul are innacurate measuring apparatus. Sometimes I fear that which does not exist, sometimes I feel things which are not there. We can be tricked so easily, amputees can still feel ghost limbs, and beleive it or not your brain can trick you into having you feel like a rubber hand is your own. 

But, emotion is a key part of the human experience, and of course it would be ridding ourselves of so much of life if we shut up our emotions. I suppose I'm merely thinking in text that perhaps emotions should be ridden and enjoyed as best they can, whether they're going up or down, but not see the world through your heart, or believe that all that you see as glittering is indeed gold.