Proof of life

Social media is trash, yet I feel compelled to hoot into the ether. So I’ll try to just write my thoughts day to day, talk about what I’m doing, or not doing, during this perpetual pandemic.

What I’ve been doing lately:

Games – Diablo 3 – a new season managed to suck me in. I usually pick Crusader, and this season’s free class set is Thorns, which is one of my favorite ways to play. So far I’ve managed to get up to 65+ Grifts and 350+ some Paragon levels. Not bad for a filthy casual.

A thing I’ve realized, is that the game, as sold/advertised, is completely different than what the end game actually is. Diablo 3 is sold as a grimdark story of good vs evil (vs good again!), with a plot, various levels of hell, and you, the unstoppable hero, cleansing reality of all demons. In reality, the end game of Diablo has that same unstoppable hero performing in a series of endlessly more difficult simulations of slaying demons (via the Rift system, which as far as I’m concerned is a valid replacement for Neo’s training nonsense in the matrix) to grind for incrementally better loot. Don’t get me wrong, i LOVE that gameplay, which is why I have 400+ hours in this particular skinners’ box, but the fact was that at launch, the end-game as is didn’t exist, and then when it DID exist, you were forced to march through the story multiple times. The story is, truthfully, just in the way of murdering millions of demons, so most people ignored it.

I do wonder, though, how many people who have played Diablo 3 have managed to a) beat it, and b) participate in the endless grind of the end game. I’d bet less than 10% of those that bought D3 have. Diablo IV sounds like it’s going back to the ol’ plot, though, so we’ll have to see if the next game is just as fun. it probably will be…. eventually.

Crusader Kings II – I keep trying to get into this, because reading the emergent storylines from this game make it sound like a lot of fun. And it feels like it! I just have trouble concentrating lately, so usually my enthusiasm for this game stops somewhere before it finishes loading.

Earth Defense Force 5 – current co-op flavor among friends. The game is a throwback to the Japanese PS2 days; a utopian, Japanese future is interrupted by enormous, 50-foot tall “monsters” that look suspiciously like ants, spiders, and frogs, just scaled up. The game refuses to allude to the fact that the things you are murdering by the thousands look like these very common Earth animals, so we’re left to conclude that this version of planet Earth has managed to kill all the wildlife off, before the aliens invade.

In any case, it’s great, grindy fun, and every mission is more ridiculous than the last. The voice acting and writing is Grade-A terrible, i suspect a result of very literal Japanese-To-English translation, but we don’t play EDF5 for the story. It’s to murder ants. I see you baby, shootin them ants, shootin them ants, shootin them ants…

Cities: Skylines – my current chill game. It’s very hard to fail, except perhaps for traffic woes, so my urban planning urges are allowed to paint the landscape with poorly designed neighborhoods. i inevitably fall into hyper-optimizing traffic patterns whenever I see a bottlenecked intersection, leading to more problems. I probably need therapy.

Music Boom-Bap era hip hop, all day. I missed it when it was new, now it’s time to dive in.

Personal – our elderly cat, Abby, was fairly sick the last few weeks; refusing to eat, losing weight. Getting her to the vet ended up with her being driven to a vet ER an hour north of us, several days of hospitalization, and various bad prognoses (a possible tumor, dehydration, extreme hyperthyroidism, and multiple infections). Anti-biotics and an appetite stimulant have her mostly back to normal, but we still need to figure out what to do aboutt he tumor (steroids is our only choice, really) and the hyper thyroid (more pills…. cats love pills)

Our first floor toilet began leaking at the base. I’m not the handiest person on Earth, so I had to glean what to do from YouTube. YouTube suggested I replace the wax seal underneath the toilet, where it connects to the sewer pipe. No problem, except… I can’t seem to safely lift the toilet back up over the required t-bolts, because I am not only out of shape, but also old, and also blessed with a terribly shit lower back and at-risk hernias all up and down my torso (thanks, life-saving surgery!) I’m hopeful my best friend since kindergarten turned neighbor can swing by and assist, as moving a toilet is definitely a two dude operation.

Books – Legion vs Phalanx, by Myke Cole (no, not the wrestling announcer), an interesting analysis of why the Roman Legion way of fighting supplanted the centuries-old tradition of giving farmers long pokey sticks and telling them to sit still.

The Food Lab, a food science geek cookbook. The recipes so far have been well researched and if you follow them exactly, are foolproof. I’m learning all sorts of stuff.

TV/Movies – Broadchurch, aka “A murder mystery show where every person that has been on Dr. Who makes an appearance”. It’s good.

Coding/geek stuff – I started fiddling with GPT-2, a machine learning system, and used it to make a Trump quote generator that ends up being very difficult to discern from the real thing. It’d be amusing, if it weren’t so concerning.