Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Flash Fiction Fridays?

Though I don't have all of my 2015 resolutions ready, I do know that "blog 4x/month" will be on the list, since I still struggle with that.  However, I'm also hoping to add some regularity by specifically posting a sudden short story on the 3rd Friday of each month, with the next day as a backup day if  I'm busy that night. 
Hopefully, this will prevent me from going long stints without writing, since I'll go no more than a month between stories.  This will also at least partially mitigate the last-minute factor of my meeting my self-set quota. 
This should also mean more stories,  overall, which should make my fan happy.  ;)

Sudden Short Story 68

A glowing orb appeared before him.  It was hard to miss on the desolate planet with the thin atmosphere.  He had a suspicion of what it might be, so he turned around.  The orb moved in front of him.  He waited, and it started making noises, soon progressing to the old dial-up modem sound. 
"I wasn't sure if anyone else was still around, really." 
"You speak modern English," came from the orb. 
"Indeed I do," said the man.  "Though that only works as a technical description, since the language is hardly 'modern' any more, since it's been so long since anyone had cause to speak it.  I'm honestly a little surprised that you became energy beings," he said frankly. 
"I'm surprised that an antique human still exists.  You're very probably the last one," replied the orb. 
"I hope that you're wrong about that," replied the antique man. 
A moment passed - a small eternity to the energetic human being.  "What are you doing?" it asked. 
"I'm waiting," replied the antique human. 
"What are you waiting for?" asked the orb, from a wrote phrase. 
"You wouldn't understand," said the antique, confined to his physical form.  He was certain that it wouldn't understand what he awaited or why he awaited it. 
Another moment passed.  "If you find another antique human, would you let me know?" 
"I will," said the orb. 
After a while, the orb lost interest in its find, and left. 

Sudden Short Story 67

"All rise," announced the bailiff, as the judge returned from his recess. 
"Be seated," said the judge, as he sat down, himself.  "Will the defense rise?" 
The defense rose. 
"Mr. Allister, you have not contested any of the specific claims made regarding your activity on the day in question, but you contest the accusation itself.  Is that correct?"
"Yes, your honor," spoke Mr. Allister.
"However, you say that your singing a song did likely influence your wife's emotional state, but that this does not constitute witchcraft.  Is that correct?" 
"Yes, your honor." 
"Further, it arose in your testimony that you believe that you come from another dimension, where this singing is commonplace, natural, and at least partially understood by neurologists, but that you lack the expertise needed to describe this to us, because it is not your field.  Do be aware that this belief, in and of itself, will not be considered when I render judgement, as it is not, itself, part of the charge.  However, I do wonder:  Why did you choose to stay in this dimension?" 
"Well, your honor," began Mr. Allister, "to put it simply, I rather like trains and airships.  We don't have many of them in my home dimension.  Our culture, writ large, values speed, so we have a road system of independent vehicles, and we use heavier-than-air craft, despite their inefficiencies." 
"Do you think, Mr. Allister, that you could sing that same song again?" 
"Well, I could sing the short version, as I did then:  The full one is in The Lord of the Rings - a franchise from my home dimension - but I only know the abridged one by heart." 
"And do you think that you could reproduce the effect?" 
"I can't guarantee that anyone would cry, but I suspect that people would be emotionally affected." 
"In that case, Mr. Allister, I wonder if you would be willing to sing that same song here, in open court." 
"Your honor," called the prosecution's attorney, "this is highly irregular!" 
"Trying someone for witchcraft is highly irregular," snapped back the judge.  "The only reason that this case hasn't been thrown out for spectral evidence is because the prosecution, the defense, and the only third-party witness all agree on the events as they happened.  Your objection, if you have one, is overruled.  Be seated."
Begrudgingly, the prosecuting attorney sat back down.
"Yes," began the accused, realizing that he was catching the judge's meaning, "I would be willing to sing.  There is no magic to it, no need for smoke and mirrors."  
"Then, please, proceed," said the judge. 
Mr. Allister sang, as best a nervous amateur could, a film version of a poem from a novel, a small piece of a lengthy book, that he'd managed to remember from his own dimension: 
Home is behind, 
The world ahead, 
And there are many paths to tread, 
In shadow, to the edge of night, 
Until the stars are all alight.  
Mist and shadow, cloud and shade.  
All shall fade.  All shall fade.  

A slight panic stirred in the audience, comprised almost entirely of people who had never heard lyrics sung, as they had emotions stimulated in a novel way.  The judge tapped his gavel to restore some order and quiet the murmurs. 
"The prosecution will rise."  And so they did.  "Mr. Henry, can you verify that this is what you heard on the day in question?" 
"I can," said Mr. Henry, with a wary confidence that justice would side with him. 
"Good.  It is this court's understanding of the scientific process that the properties of the natural world are determined by experiments to measure reproducible effects.  Since the emotional effects of this song were reproducible, it is this court's opinion that they are natural, and thus not supernatural, and therefore this singing is a poorly-understood science, rather than witchcraft or any other form of magic.  Therefore, this court finds the defendant not guilty." 
BANG! went the gavel. 
"Everybody go home," said the judge, relieved to have found a way out of sentencing a man before the congress could put a more permanent patch over some old, broken laws. 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 Wrap-Up

Well, I never made a Minecraft mod, and I never got around to playing LEGO Indiana Jones, though I probably will in January. 
On review, it turns out that LEGO Indiana Jones wasn't on my 2014 resolution list.  Well, I still want to do it at some point, since I do own it. 
Beating Myst again (after so many years) won't happen this year, unless I manage to squeeze that in tomorrow, which is unlikely. 
I did at least get into Minecraft for a while, though I haven't played in months. 
I did beat the Elite 4 in Pokémon X, but I didn't manage to catch 'em all. 

As far as blogging 4 times per month goes, I've got a note for each of 2 sudden short stories, so I just need to type those up to bring me to 3 this month, and then I need one more topic somewhere.... 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sudden Short Story 66

"Hey, Jerry," Benedict said, waving his friend over. 
"Hey, what's up?" Jerry asked when he got there. 
"Well, since the port's having some down time, we're swapping anecdotes about our home dimensions.  This is Ken, by the way.  Apparently, even though our dimensions are close to each other, the celebrities are wildly different.  Like, um... Ooh, tell me about Michael Jackson." 
"The musician?" Ken asked. 
"No way!" Jerry interjected, "He stayed with music?  We're talking Mad Michael Jackson, the pro wrestler, right?  Well, no, I suppose not.  But did yours start out in The Jackson 5, too?" 
"Yeah, that's the one.  He died of a drug overdose.  Just as well, really." 
"Oh yeah," added Benedict, "That's one thing:  In both our dimensions, drug overdose is a really common way for celebrities to go." 
"So your Michael Jackson was a pro wrestler?" asked Ken.  "What about your Dwayne Johnson?" 
"He was a pro wrestler, too," said Jerry, "but then he went on to sell these electric grills that drain fat into a catch basin." 
"Oh, that was our George Foreman's schtick.  Our Dwayne Johnson became an actor, but still started out in pro wrestling." 
"Oh.  We've basically got it the other way around:  George Foreman went on to be an actor in B-grade sci-fi movies." 
"Oh, weird," said Ken.  "Let's see... Our Bob Ross was a painter, what was yours?" 
"He did comic books back in the 20th century," said Benedict. 
Just then, they all got alerts.  Each saw that the other had just checked one, and correctly assumed that they were the same:  The port was back to up time.  They parted ways, and each left with the thought of how different-yet-similar things were between dimensions.  Each was also glad that he wasn't a celebrity. 

Sudden Short Story 65

"I am told that you can free me," she said to the foreigner, as she sat by him in the tavern.  Priestesses were uncommon there, but nobody would think to question her presence, either. 
"If your will is bound by a deity, then yes, I can free you," he replied. 
"And what do you seek in return?" 
"I need access to the temple," he explained.  "I also want me to tell me whatever you can about your highest priestess, as it will help me in my cause.  Otherwise, I need little." 
Hope stirred in her, that she might be able to escape her fate.  "I must have something to call you, if I am to take you to the island.  What is your name?" 
"I have had many names, but I go by Asura-Anatakartta.  It was given to me by a people from my home plane, after I slew the threefold god of the west." 
The idea that he came from another plane of existence was very surprising to her, but she was trained to spot lies, and this man was not lying.  "What brings you to our plane?" 
"I have been exiled from my home plane.  I do seek to return, but it is a long journey that I undertake." 
"You slew a god, and you can free people from them.  Who would want to exile you?"she asked. 
"Other gods, of course.  Deities think that they're untouchable until someone kills one and lives.  Though, even that was not enough to warrant my exile, the first time.  It was not until I slew Brahma that the rest of the Trimurti mustered enough power - theirs and their allies' - to banish me." 
The priestess realized that she might be a bit out of her depth with this one, but there was still the mission to do, and she would be free.  "Let us go, then," she said, standing.  "Once I am free, perhaps I can help you on your journey home." 
"You cannot, but thank you," he replied, as she led him out.  She sensed that she should not ask further on that subject, and so she remained silent. 


He waited outside of the high priestess's abode, just out of sight to anyone who would be leaving the doorway.  The house servant was out on errands, so he had said that the house would need to be empty for his work to begin.  He had not lied, but he had allowed her to believe that he would be doing a secretive investigation of the premises. 
They were inside for a long time.  The high priestess had sensed deception in her subordinate, but was unable to tease it out of her.  Eventually, they left, headed toward a different part of the island.  He crept up behind the high priestess, then ran her through the spine and heart with his sword. 
"The thing about deities," he began.  The young priestess spun around, startled that he had revealed himself, and then more startled at the dying body before her.  "... is that most people don't really understand what they are, and each one is different.  She didn't even realize it, but the high priestess was the goddess.  I had uncovered that much during my previous investigation, before I even met you.  And so, you are free," he said, wiping off his blade.  "Unfortunately - and I am so very, very sorry for this part - she had already named you as her heir." 
She was so shocked that, by the time that he charged at her, she was only able to throw up a simple shielding spell, which was immediately shattered on the point of a blade that had slain gods.  She died free, but still she died. 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Regarding Non-Alphabetical Ordering of Reduced Fractions as Strings

I ran across a programming problem a while back, and I've been meaning to post about the consequences of it.  There is a situation in which there are fractions that are represented as strings and that, by default, sort alphabetically.  The representations were immutable, but were usually reduced, so an ordering flag had to be added that would apply before the alphabetization.  I'll try to describe the problem mathematically below. 

Let F(n) be the set of fractions m/n such that m,n \in \!\, \mathbb{Z} \!\,, n > 1, n is not prime, 0 < m < n. 
Note:  If n were prime, then the solution would be trivial, since the fractions cannot be reduced, and therefore the proper order and alphabetical order would be the same.   
Assume that either (1) we use a high enough base that n is always a single character, or (2) every string representation of the fraction m/n, for every value of m, is equally and sufficiently 0-padded in both the numerator and the denominator.  (For an example of (2):  If n=10, then 9/10 would be "09/10", and 8/10=4/5 would be "04/05".)  For a given m, what is the minimum number of ordering flags such that, if each fraction m/n is associated with one, then sorted first by flag and then alphabetically, the fractions, even reduced, would be in ascending order? 

An Example: 
Let n = 8. 
F(n) = {1/8, 2/8, 3/8, 4/8, 5/8, 6/8, 7/8} = {1/8, 1/4, 3/8, 1/2, 5/8, 3/4, 7/8}. 
If sorted alphabetically, then these fractions would come out as "1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 3/4, 3/8, 5/8, 7/8". 
Assume that 3 flags is sufficient.  Call them "a", "b", and "c".  Clearly, 1/8 will need "a", 1/4 will need "b", and 1/2 will need "c".  Similarly, 3/4 will need either "a" or "b", and 3/8 will need either "b" or "c", but they cannot both take "b". 
For brevity and clarity, I will simply tack the flag on the front of the fraction, so that alphabetical order will put them in the proper order.  One valid association, then, produces "a1/8, b1/4, b3/8, c1/4, c5/8, c3/4, c7/8".  (In fact, I just realized that this is the only valid association on 3 flags, but I'll leave this as an exercise.)  
2 flags is not sufficient for this set:  If any {1/2, 1/4}, {1/4, 1/8}, or {1/2, 1/8} get the same flag, then they will resolve in the wrong order. 

When looking at the set, reduced, the minimum  number of flags is at least the largest number of common numerators (3, in the above example, as 3 of the reduced fractions had 1 as their numerator).  However, is there a good way to determine this purely from looking at n? 

Note:  I've also determined that 3 flags is sufficient when n=9, when n=10, and when n=6.  Demonstration of this is left as an exercise. 

Another example: 
Let n = 4. 
F(n) = {1/4, 2/4, 3/4} = {1/4, 1/2, 3/4}. 
2 flags is sufficient:  "a" must go with 1/4 and "b" with 1/2 (and 3/4), sorting them as "a1/4, b1/2, b3/4". 

Note:  In any case where 1 flag is sufficient, the solution is trivial.  That is, flagging is unnecessary. 

Conjecture:  The minimum number of flags needed to sort the reduced fractions alphabetically is x, where x is one less than the number of factors (prime or otherwise) of n. 

An example that attempts to exercise the conjecture: 
Let n = 12. 
Let H(n) be the set of factors of n.  For n=12, H(12) = {1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 12}.  The size of H is 6, so x=5. 
F(12) = {1/12, 2/12, 3/12, 4/12, 5/12, 6/12, 7/12, 8/12, 9/12, 10/12, 11/12} = {1/12, 1/6, 1/4, 3/4, 5/12, 1/2, 7/12, 2/3, 3/4, 5/6, 11/12}. 
This resolves as:  "01/02, 01/03, 01/04, 01/06, 01/12, 02/03, 03/04, 05/06, 05/12, 07/12, 11/12". 
Let us try to minimally alphabetize it: 
a01/12, b01/06, c01/04, d01/03, d05/12, e01/02, e07/12, f02/03, f03/04, f05/06, f11/12. 
5 flags was insufficient, as I had to go to 6 to put 2/3 after 7/12, so the conjecture is incorrect. 

Well, that's all for now.  I might revisit this problem at a later date.  We'll see. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Video Game Plans as of November 2014

Briefly, here's an update on video game stuff. 

Though I got pokémon ORAS last week, I've only barely touched AS.  I'm torn on time, though, since I still haven't finished my Gen I team in pokémon X, which I still intend to do, even if that's the last thing that I do in X.  (I'm not expecting to do any special teams in AS, though.) 
I'm planning to do a Y-Locke's Log this Sunday, since I never got to it before. 
I'm also hoping to play some more FTL, which I haven't touched in a while, but that's probably going to get pushed back to December. 
Also in December,  I'm hoping to play through LEGO Indiana Jones, since it shouldn't take that long, and it should be simple to finish. 
Anyway, it's looking like I've got to make a big video game push in the next few weeks.  I'll let you know how it went, next month.  ;)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Y-Locke's Log: Day 8

Today had quite an interesting start to it indeed.  I received a Diancie, but before I could even begin to get to know it, an anonymous butler and maid arrived, speaking of its remarkable beauty.  But then, they asked me to give it to them!  Fortunately, their master arrived to straighten the whole thing out.  He also mentioned that rumor had it that Diancie is something of a good luck charm. 
However, I had already committed to using Rose Red as my Fairy-type, so I put Diancie away, for now, and set back out on the road to train her up. 
Rose Red isn't very tough yet, so I'm doing many bouts against wile pokémon; Theodore is her backup, for now.  However, in one particularly tough fight against a Ledyba, I ended up switching Sly in, and, afterwards, he evolved into a Braixen! 
The amount of training that I'm having to do to prepare Rose Red for battle reminds me of just how fragile some pokémon can be; she's fairly easily weakened, and I worry for the worst.  Mousea is similarly weak, though I do at least get enough time to retrieve him for battle; he's not as frail, but he can barely damage anything, so, unfortunately, every battle using Mousea threatens to be a losing one. 
Mousea did manage to learn Lucky Chant tonight, which should help her survive battles, since critical hits can do truly surprising amounts of damage.  Theodore also learned Rollout.  I look forward to a chance to try it out, but I've been training my pokémon all day, and I think that they could use a rest.  ^_^

Friday, October 31, 2014

Quick Wikimancer Update

Well, I was going to post either a short story or something about math, but something came up tonight. 
To make up for it, though, I'm promising now a bonus blog post in November.  Both posts will happen next month.  They might happen Sunday, but another Y-Locke's Log is also likely (hoping to do a long one Sunday), so they might get pushed back to the next week/weekend. 

Poké-Plans for November 2014

So, the drop date for Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire is closer than one might think.  Unfortunately, I'm way, way behind on my generational team plans. 
Since I came up with all of the notes for it, I'm at least going to beat the game with my Generation I team before I go pick up ORAS on the 21st.  (Or was it the 23rd?) 
As I recall, the biggest uncertainty that I had was a 4th move for Jolteon.  I know that I wanted it to have Hidden Power (Ice) along with Rain Dance and Thunder, but I just wasn't sure about the final move for its Repetoire.  Double Team is the most tempting, but I'm doing a breeding rule, & getting all 3 non-Thunder moves might make this harder on myself than necessary.  @_@

That's all for now, but expect a post in November on how this goes. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Y-Locke's Log: Day 7

I once again received a pokémon as a gift today.  This time, it was a Gengar holding a Gengarite.  With this, I do have the equivalent of an entire team in my PC box, which is nice. 
I headed to Route 4 and ran into a trainer with a Pichu and a Pikachu.  Mousea was able to handle the Pichu alright, but he had some trouble against the Pikachu, so I had Sly finish him off. 
I did find a Net Ball in one corner of the route.  It was there that I also encountered a Gardener named Grover.  He had only a Corphish, but experience taught me that those are fairly tough, so I sent Orion out, who used Sand-Attack before finishing off the Corphish by more conventional means.  He also told me the name of the hedgerows flanking the route:  They are apparently called the Geometric Gardens. 
After a run back to the pokémon center, I explored the other side of Route 4, and ran across another Gardener, named Fabian.  He, like so many others, had a lone Corphish as his pokémon.  Mousea's Charm was useful for slowing Corphish's attack, but Corphish is a Water-type, and I'm not sure that Mousea had enough attacks in total to knock him out, so I switched to Theodore.  I ended up using a Potion to save Theodore, but Mousea did learn Bubblebeam in the process - replacing Water Gun - so it was a pretty good battle overall.  I did retreat to the pokémon center to recover, though. 
On the northernmost part of Route 4, I ran across two white-clad trainers, who seemed pleased that I had encountered a Flabébé, and who eventually introduced themselves as Sina and Dexio.  Apparently, the Fairy type was only recently classified.  They offered to show me the way to Professor Sycamore's lab.  Along the way, Dexio gave me the TM for Return, a move that gets stronger when my friendship with the pokémon using it is strong. 
Lumiose City seems quite big, so I followed Sina straight to the lab.  While there, another scientist gave me the TM for False Swipe, which apparently always leaves a pokémon with at least 1 HP, which is super useful for catching pokémon. 
While I was talking to Professor Sycamore, Shauna and Serena arrived, and Sycamore suggested that we all battle.  I did get a moment to switch my pokémon around first, though, so I put Theodore out front to give him some experience.  Sycamore sent out a Bulbasaur first, so I ended up switching to Orion, to exploit its weakness to Flying-type attacks; two Gusts took it out.  Against his Squirtle, I kept Orion out, but was more cautious, leading with a Sand-Attack.  He finished Squirtle off, but almost didn't survive!  When the professor sent out Charmander, I sent out Mousea, and led strong with his newly-learned Bubblebeam.  It wasn't quite as good as I was hoping, so I got cautious, having Mousea use Water Sport and Charm to reduce Charmander's attack power.  More Water-type attacks eventually finished the job, though, and Professor Sycamore was defeated. 
Then, in an unexpected gesture, Professor Sycamore offered me my choice of any one of those same three pokémon species.  I was torn between Charmander and Squirtle, but I suspected that Water-types would be more common than Fire-types on my journey, despite how many I had at the moment, so I went with Charmander.  He let me name it, too, so I dubbed him "Comet", for his fiery-looking tail. 
Then, in a further act of generosity, Professor Sycamore gave me a Charizardite Y.  Apparently, it's a Mega Stone, and is connected to Mega Evolution; he'd like us to look into it, and suggested that we check out Camphrier Town.  (He also gave pokémon and mega stones to the others.) 
Comet wasn't holding anything, so I gave him the Charizardite Y to hold. 
On my way out, I encountered a fellow named Lysandre.  Apparently, he's been studying pokémon for a while now, and has hopes for a more "beautiful" world. 
On my way out, Serena mentioned that she'd like to meet me at a Cafe Soliel.  Conveniently, Trevor & Tierno mentioned that it was toward Camphrier Town; there's no way that I'd have found it easily in all of Lumiose.  I decided to retreat to the Santalune City pokémon center for the night, though. 
I also think that I'll mix up my team a little:  Rather than using Pyrrhini or Comet, where I already also have both Sly and my Torchic, I'm going to use Rose Red for a while, and see how she plays out. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Y-Locke's Log: Day 6

This time, I was greeted with a non-Bug gift pokémon, in the form of a Pumpkaboo. 

I set out onto Route 4 again, though I immediately faced Roland, the roller skater, and his Pidgey.  Pyrrhini made swift work of it, though.  I also encountered a trainer with some Burmy, and thought it a prime opportunity to train Theodore up somewhat.  It was during this battle that I realized Theodore's true potential:  In his Simple way, he is better at moves like Defense Curl, which should help him out in long fights. 
I took out a Flabébé on the side of the road, and was inexplicably accosted by a preschooler with a Magikarp. 
I also found some Honey while randomly poking around at bushes.  Weird. 
A tough fight against a wild Budew got me to put Pyrrhini back in front.  He did fairly well against the wild pokémon in the area. 
I returned to Santalune City to recharge a bit, then set Mousea at the lead.  Unfortunately, my first opponent had a Budew, so I switched to Sly, to let him stretch his legs a bit. 
In the grasses, Mousea had quite a long fight against a wild Flabébé.  I realize that he needs a lot more training if he's going to take anything out with adequate swiftness.  I sought out more wild pokémon for him to fight, but unfortunately encountered another Budew, which would not likely go down to Bubble and Water Gun attacks. 
I returned to the pokémon center to let my pokémon recover, and decided to call it a night.  Mousea will need to be well-rested if I am to bring him up to the same level as the rest of the team. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Sudden Short Story 64

They sat together, outside, watching as the sunlight played against the red and orange leaves of the darkly-barked trees, and the creek trickled down the mildly-stepped valley where they'd made their home.  They had some warm, spiced soft apple cider, a favorite of his.  She moved closer to him, closing her eyes to better hear the sounds of the still forest.
"I like this one," she said.  And they were silent for a few moments, until a thought recurred to her.  "Are you sure that it wasn't hard to allow time to pass while also creating situational permanence?  I'm not up on the latest quantemporal physics, but it seems like you'd have to work at cross-purposes to yourself to get it going."
"I didn't say that creating the time bubble wasn't hard," he answered.  "It certainly wasn't the hardest part, though."
"So which was the hardest part?" she asked him when he'd stopped.
He took a sip of his cider, and thought aloud. "Well, let's see.  Reverse time travel wasn't invented until the war, so I had to survive until then.  It took several iterations to win the war, though, and I had to make sure that I saw it through without paradox.  Then there was that whole psychotemporal issue - I basically wound up stuck in a fractal version of Channelwood for eternity, and had to think my way out of that.  Then, of course, we had to develop pre-point reverse time travel, to be able to bubble any moment from before Earth was devastated by the war." 
"And where was I during all this?" she asked. 
"You know, I'm not sure, it's been so long.  You were probably dead or something.  Or was I dead?  Well, whichever it was, it got fixed.  But yeah, I'd say that the hardest part was avoiding paradoxes during the war." 
"Not the Channelwood part?" 
"Nah, that was easy:  I had eternity, after all." 

Sudden Short Story 63

"As we enter the next room," said the tour guide, "you'll notice a small pyramid like the one we're standing in.  In fact, it's an exact scale model, exterior erosion notwithstanding, but that isn't the most interesting feature.  Unlike any figure, real or mythical, in ancient South America, this figure of a seated human is covered entirely in metallic armor.  Though the statue's armor bears some resemblance to medieval European plate mail, the design doesn't match any Old World armors, and the artist's motivations for this peculiar imagery are lost to us. 
"The inscriptions in this room, however," she continued, gesturing to the glyphs upon the walls, "do appear to tell the legend surrounding the figure.  Our best translation is that he is a legendary warrior, whose obligation to protect the world was so great that he will slumber, without sustenance, until such time as the world needs him to save it.  So, it has been nicknamed 'The Throne Room of the Ancient Guardian.'"  
The tour guide noticed a few stifled giggles among her audience, which was certainly a novel reaction.  These same giggles, however, seemed to also awaken a woman who was heretofore immersed in her phadlet.  She looked up, seeing past the tour guide, who also turned around at that time.  They beheld a little girl, sitting upon that statue like it was such a Santa Claus. 
"Tammy," she said in that harsh whisper that a parent uses when she wishes to yell at a child while remaining quiet.  "I'm so sorry about this," she said to the tour guide as she passed her to collect her daughter, who appeared to be aware that she'd be scolded, as the smile had left her face, but was not leaving the statue. 
The mother and the tour guide ascended the small pyramid, after moving aside a length of velvet rope.  "Mommy?" whispered the girl.  She was shivering at this point.  Before her mother could quite reach her, she said, with a tear in her eye, "Mommy, the statue's breathing." 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Sudden Short Story 62

"Karl Schmidt," spake the judge, "I have heard the evidence against you.  I am now prepared to hear any final rebuttal that you may have in this matter." 
"Herr Eichler," began the accused, "my accuser, and the so-called witnesses, have provided what seems to pass for evidence that I am some kind of witch, but I have to wonder if they aren't doppelgangers themselves.  Though they have the semblance of my neighbors, they appear to know me not at all, or else they'd know that I am no fool.  What might make any man suspect that dealing with the devil will produce any good, even for only himself?  Shall everything that I touch turn to gold, that I might starve without nourishment?  Shall I become immortal, that I must outlive my every friend?  Or shall I have a beguiling presence, and never know whether any friend is really true? 
"During your deliberation, you plan to ask yourself whether I am a witch, but you can answer that simply by asking yourself whether I am a fool." 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

General Update August 2014

On the one hand, I'm glad that August had five weekends, since it meant that I got some much-needed unwinding time on the weekends.  On the other hand, August has absolutely sucked for me.  There was no one thing, really, but all of those little annoying things had to happen all at once.  I'm looking forward to unwinding a bit more.  Here's fun stuff that I'm hoping to do some time soon:
  • Beat the rest of Naxxramas on heroic.  (Hearthstone)
  • Play more Pokémon X & Pokémon Y before Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire drop in November.  
  • Play more Mann vs. Machine:  Some time ago, TF2 added new maps & mechanics to their special Mann vs. Machine mode.  The main thing that holds me back from it is that playing a full round of MvM is like doing a dungeon in an MMO, & requires a fairly large chunk of uninterrupted me-time.  
  • Get back into Minecraft, at least enough to further explore Thaumcraft.  
  • Win a round of FTL on normal.  
  • More DDO?  
I'm also going to be spending a lot of time cleaning my room.  That's not a fun thing, but it's there.  

The Great Webcomic Catch-Up: August Update

The good news is that I have made some progress on catching up on webcomics.  I'm up to having to catch up on over a year of LEGOStar Galactica.  It should be mostly straightforward, but he has been doing more action scenes, which are a bit hard to parse, but are at least sparse on dialog. 

Once I'm caught up on LEGOStar - which, as of where I am, still hasn't made a BSG joke - I think that I'll be about 40%-45% of the way through the list, though I'll obviously have to re-catch-up once I'm done, until I'm eventually actually caught up. 

Since this post is kind of short, I'll mention something else:  I was going to make a post describing how to beat Maexxna on heroic in Hearthstone.  I used a Rogue deck that took advantage of Battlecry mechanics and some save-your-ass cards.  Before making that post, I wanted to beat her on heroic again, since it had been so long, to remind myself what to tell you, but I haven't been able to do it again!  I'll at least leave you with this tidbit:  Anub'Rekhan & Faerlina can both be defeated fairly straightforwardly with a standard Druid ramp deck.  Seriously, I didn't even have to make a special heroic-defeating deck or anything. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Y-Locke's Log: Day 5

I got another delivery today.  I was expecting it to be another Vivillon, but I was at least close:  It was a Pinsir, and a level 50 one at that!  I also got a Pinsirite, which I gave to the Pinsir, since it seemed appropriate.  Having only the Bug Badge so far, I put Pinsir in the box with my other gift-bugs, and set off to Route 4. 
I was stopped by Viola's sister again, who introduced herself as Alexa this time.  She also gave me an Exp. Share, to spread experience around my team. 
Route 4 has some hedge mazes, which I explored, finding a Repel and a Super Potion right away.  Also, in the flowers, I ran across a Flabébé, which I managed to catch on the first ball throw, after weakening it with Sly's Scratch attack.  Since this Flabébé inhabits a red flower, I decided to name her Rose Red.  As my team was full, she was sent to the PC box. 
The hedge maze also held a Great Ball and an Antidote, along with a trainer.  He was a gardener by the name of Wheaton, and he sent out a Corphish.  Since Sly is a Fire-type, I switched out for someone else.  I considered Mousea, another water type, but he's of such a low level that I feared that he wouldn't survive, so I sent out Orion, who was of a higher level and had Sand Attack available.  Orion was apparently faster, since his Sand-Attacks hit before Corphish's Bubble attacks, but they didn't seem to be helping much.  I had to use a Potion to keep Orion's HP in a comfortable area, I realized that I was running low.  To make things worse, the Corphish never missed, despite its accuracy reduction.  It did eventually miss once, just before Orion finished it off, but I was down 2 Potions, and really needed to get more.  Thankfully, Orion learned Quick-Attack, and my battle winnings were enough for 3 potions with some change, and I had plenty of money, anyway, so I bought ten Potions while I was resting my pokémon at the center back in town. 
I also bought ten more Antidotes, since they're cheap, and ten more Paralyze Heals, since I only had one and they seemed like they'd be very helpful in battle. 
I found the Perle Fountain on Route 4.  I was skating around it when a Roller Skater challenged me to a pokémon battle.  She had only a Fletchling, though, so I weakened it with Sly before sending out Mousea, to give him some experience.  After taking a Tackle, though, I could see that leaving him out would be risky, so I switched to Theodore.  Two tackles, though, also put Theodore in risky territory, so I switched back to Sly to finish the job.  Sly learned Flame Charge in place of Tail Whip, and I beat a hasty retreat to the pokémon center. 
Considering the rough time that Mousea and Theodore had of it, I decided to train them and Pyrrhini against the wild pokémon on Route 4, for their own safety.  Eventually, Mousea learned Charm, Theodore learned Defense Curl, and Pyrrhini learned Incinerate in place of Play Nice. 
I decided to call it a night after that training, though.  We'll see how the team fares against the next trainer that we encounter. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Y-Locke's Log: Day 4

I was once again gifted with a Vivillon today.  I wonder if this will be the start of a pattern.... 
I set out to explore the route to the northwest of Santalune a bit, just to see what was out there, but a woman introducing herself as the sister of the local gym leader suggested that I head back to the gym, instead.  Before I went, though, I decided to give Route 22 another go, to train up my team. 
The wild pokémon weren't too much trouble, though a wild Litleo used Leer a lot, & I think that I saved Sly by switching to Mousea just before it pounced.  Actually, Mousea knows some Water-type moves, which I should keep in mind when facing Fire types. 
After a rest, I decided to tackle the Santalune City Gym. 
When I went in, a man helpfully informed me that everyone in the gym uses Bug-type pokémon.  Considering that I have three Fire-types and a Flying-type in my party, I wasn't expecting the gym to be much trouble at all.  The youngster with the Ledyba wasn't any problem, but Lass Charlotte managed to poison two of my pokémon before I took her down.  After defeating one last youngster with a Spewpa, I went back to the pokémon center to rest up before facing the gym leader herself. 
Since Viola is a gym leader, I figured that I should put my best foot forward, so I led with Sly.  However, she led with Surskit, so I immediately switched to Orion, who wouldn't be weak to Water.  Even so, her Surskit was strong, and two Bubble attacks had me scared for Orion.  Against her Vivillon, I sent out Torchic.  I started with Focus Energy, to make critical hits more likely while Torchic was out, but Vivillon used Infestation, which was basically like poisoning Torchic!  Thankfully, Speed Boost made sure that Torchic's second Ember attack went first - I was quite worried about what Vivillon would use after a double Infestation if it wasn't knocked out! 
After giving me my badge, Viola also gave me a TM for Infestation, and explained that it was worse than I feared:  I couldn't have switched out Torchic, even if I'd wanted to do so. 
As I left, the fellow from before suggested that I show my badge to Professor Sycamore up in Lumiose City.  However, I decided that, given the rough battles today, I should call it a night after resting in the pokémon center. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Sudden Short Story 61

"So you must be the inspector," declared another worker, as he sat on the cafeteria bench across from the inspector. 
"I'm beginning to suspect that you've a crew of geniuses," he commented to the operations lead.  "What gave it away," he asked the worker, "the tie, the clipboard, the nametag that says 'inspector' on it, or the fact that I'm the only new face that you've seen in two years?" 
"A smart ass, this one is," commented the worker.  "Well, maybe your smart ass can figure out how to get some parts out here.  We had to shut down dome B last week due to the fires." 
"Fires?" asked the inspector.  "Wait, dome B shouldn't have even been in use:  It's outdated!" 
"Well, it was cheaper to start that one back up than to keep running oxygen to dome F after corridor F went out." 
"You're gonna give him information overload, Gran," chimed in the lead.  "I was going to go over this after we got him settled in." 
"Hold on," piped up the inspector, "What in the names of the Ennead happened to corridor F?" 
"Fires," said Gran, bluntly. 
"Don't your fire suppression systems work any more?" 
"Oh, they do," chimed in another worker, "On the inside."  This led to some low chuckles around the cafeteria. 
"It's all those hydrocarbons outside," filled in Gran.  "It's sort of backwards here:  Think of oxygen as the fuel.  On Earth, you keep fuel away from oxygen, since oxygen is what's everywhere; down here, fuel is everywhere, so you keep oxygen away from it." 
"Which is what we normally do, anyway," interjected the other worker - none of them bothered to wear nametags, despite regulations - "since we like to breathe it." 
"So what's the problem?" asked the inspector.  
"The problem is the leaks!  We've been rationing our sealant materials for almost a year, and we're about to run out, anyway.  When a leak springs, we bleed oxygen.  When the leak catches fire, we bleed oxygen fast, and have to seal and vent the area just to stop further losses." 
"We eventually started shutting down domes," volunteered the operations lead, "but you can only shut down so many domes before you get close to the quotas.  HQ doesn't like it when we get close to quotas, and I don't want to know what they'll do if we ever go below quota.  So, we do what we can to keep up." 
"Parts shouldn't be failing that fast, though," began the inspector. 
"Now hold your horses," interrupted another of the workers.  The inspector hadn't even seen him leave the table, but he'd returned with a tray of shot glasses filled with clear liquid.  "You've got plenty of time to worry on this trip, and you'll want to ease yourself into it:  We've got a decade of problems down here," he said as he passed the drinks tray to the others to pass around.  He'd taken two, though, and set one in front of the inspector.  "But let me be the first to offer you a drink." 
"Honestly, given the supply problems that you've been having, I'm almost surprised that you're still supplied with alcohol." 
"Actually," he said, sitting down next to the inspector, "that's one of the few perks of this job.  It occurs naturally out here.  We call it 'the rough stuff.'  It's even the source of our unofficial motto." 
"And what's that?" asked the inspector, eager for any information that wasn't about how his job was going to be harder. 
The workers in the cafeteria, glasses raised, all shouted, "THERE'S BOOZE IN THEM THERE LAKES!" 
The inspector wasn't expecting that, but took it in stride.  "I'll drink to that," he said, and joined the others in the pseudo-toast, throwing back his shot. 
"He's going to regret that," commented the operations lead, holding his arm behind the inspector, who instead flopped forward into the table.  "Newbies.  Well, someone help me get him to his quarters.  It's a bit of a hike." 

Sudden Short Story 60

"Captain Crichton," said the Lieutenant, as he entered the captain's office. 
"Formal as always, Binben," commented the captain, looking up from and setting aside some paperwork.  "What can I do for you?" 
"I have a request..." began the lieutenant, before approaching the desk between them and placing the request upon it.  "I would like to leave the opera and return to the earth." 
Captain Crichton did not even deign to look at the request.  "I won't authorize this." 
Binben was genuinely confused by this.  "On what grounds?" 
"I have no grounds." 
"I can always appeal the decision.  And if you have no grounds for refusing me this, then you will likely get a mark on your record."
"I know."
"And in the ten years that you've been captain, five people have asked to go back to Earth, and you've approved their requests without issue."
"I know that, too," replied the captain, rising in anticipation of what might come next.
"But then why won't you authorize my request?" 
"Because you are my son, Binben," returned the captain.  "I know that I cannot stop you, but I can at least slow you down.  There is nothing for us on Earth--"
"And yet whenever we send people back, nobody wants to return.  The only time that anyone has ever come back was when they chicken out at the last minute; nobody actually on the earth ever wants to come out here--"
"And they couldn't even if they wanted to," answered his mother, her rage silencing Binben.  "At this point, there's no way that we could possibly ensure our safety against anyone from the planet." 
Binben was dumbfounded. 
"That part's secret," she said.  "It's above your rank.  It doesn't matter, though:  Nobody wants to come out here, from there.  Honestly, banning anything with code in it from the return trip is probably a more significant safety measure." 
She resigned herself to this:  All that she could do was tell him, and let him decide for himself.  "You're too young, of course.  You haven't seen it.  You weren't there on the last day.  The nanotech on Earth changes people, and for the worse.  You won't want to come back out here because you won't even think of it.  You'll be too busy in the illusory worlds.  And if you do think of us, then you'll pity us, wondering how we could live like this, when Earth is so much better.  And by the time that you might think to somehow leave while leaving it all behind, to visit here despite all of its limits, you won't think it worthwhile - if there even is still a "you" - since we'll all be dead.  You won't want to leave because you won't be you; as far as I'm concerned, those who returned to Earth before you sent themselves to their deaths." 


Author's note:   It didn't come up in the story, but Binben Crichton's schoolyard nickname was "Browder".  You'll get it. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Hearthstone: Curse of Naxxramas: It's Highly Addictive!

Curse of Naxxramas, the first content expansion pack for Hearthstone, dropped last week.  They're releasing it over five weeks, so it's not all out yet, but the Arachnid Quarter is out (and free), and the Plague Quarter opened up today (for 700 gold). 
Each quarter gives three decently challenging AIs, beating each of which grants a pair of cards for the set.  Beating all three grants a legendary card (identified as the 3rd boss).  Beating all three also opens up two (so far) class challenges, by which one may earn a pair of class-specific cards. 
However, the real addiction comes from the fact that beating all three bosses of a wing on normal unlocks them all on Heroic, which is a super-difficult setting.  I'm still trying to beat Maexxna on it!  (As an aside:  Counter-intuitively, I found Druid to be the easiest class for defeating Faerlina on Heroic.) 
Must... win... Heroic!... 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Y-Locke's Log: Day 3

Today, there was another delivery girl in the Pokémon Center, this one in red, with a Discount Coupon for me.  The blue-clad delivery girl was there again, too, and gave me a level 12 Vivillon, giving me a full party of 6. 
I began my exploration in the traditional manner, by walking into random people's houses.  One of them taught me about evolution cancellation, though I don't foresee myself making much use of it.  Another, though, gave me a Great Ball, which will come in really handy. 
I found the Trainers' School, where someone gave me some X Attacks & X Defenses to help me on my journey. 
I went to the local gym, but someone was standing before the door.  She offered me rollerskates, strangely enough, but only in exchange for a battle, so I obliged her.  Her Zigzagoon was much higher level than Theodore, so I let my Torchic give it a go.  Two moves later, and Roller Skater Rinka was defeated, and Theodore had learned Growl.  
I spotted a path east of the gym, and gave it a look.  I was promptly challenged to battle.  I used a Potion to keep Theodore up against a Scratch-happy Psyduck, but we eventually prevailed against it.  By the time that the opponent sent out Litleo, though, I was ready to switch out to Sly.  It wasn't exactly easy, but Sly did manage to level up, learning Howl in the process. 
I retreated to the Pokémon Center, but I realized that this route would likely be good training for the gym. 
Right past that first trainer, though, I found some grass, and so I went in to see who might be joining us.  It turned out to be an Azurill, my first Fairy-type.  Since he's a mouse who's blue, like water, I named him Mousea. 
Since I already had a full party, Mousea got sent to the PC box, but I retrieved him when I returned to heal, leaving Vivillon in his place. 
Seeking to test their muster, I went to the next trainer on Route 22.  The Lass struck hard and fast with a Goldeen, and I wound up swapping out Theodore for Mousea.  Unfortunately, his only damaging attack was Water Gun, so I sent out Orion to finish her off.  I put Mousea back out when she sent out a Marill, but I wound up switching back to Orion, anyway.  All three leveled up, though, and Mousea even got a Bubble attack to replace its otherwise-useless Splash. 
I faced one more trainer, with a Riolu, and yikes!  That thing was level 9.  I swapped out Pyrrhini for Orion, and just in time, I suspect.  Riolu's Quick Attack hit hard.  Well, at least Pyrrhini leveled up and learned Lick, which I expect will be very handy, indeed. 
Having retreated to the Pokémon Center after each battle, I decided to lead with Sly for one last match.  It ended up being against a schoolgirl named Mackenzie, who had only a Bunnelby, but it put up an unexpectedly good fight.  I managed to defeat it with only Sly, though, and no items. 
After returning to the Pokémon Center, I decided to call it a night.  The gym could wait for another day. 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

FTL: It's Highly Addictive!

So, FTL has been on my wishlist for a long time, but I happened to notice last week that it was discounted for the Steam Summer Sale, so I bought it. 
I'm really hooked on it.  It has good ship combat, and it provides quite a challenge. 
So far, I've only played it on Normal, but it does have Easy and Hard settings, too. 
Everyone starts with the Kestrel, but I've managed to unlock the Torus, and I even got lucky enough to get the special quest to unlock the engi-designed human stealth ship, whose name I've forgotten. 
Each ship has multiple layouts, which are unlocked by doing achievements specific to that ship.  I've unlocked two of the achievements for the Torus, so I have both its 'A' layout and its 'B' layout. 
Most recently, I've been focusing on trying to beat the game with either layout of the Torus, since that's how to unlock the next ship.  I've been pushing my luck more, trying to get a better ship going for the later sectors, but I've gone too far!  Now, I don't even get as far as I did before.  XD
I'm probably not doing the game justice here.  Go look up the trailer, and videos of people playing it!  For that matter, if you see this post before the Steam Summer Sale ends (June 30th, 2014), then just go buy it:  It's well worth the $1.99. 

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Preliminary Review: Fate Core

I've finally been working my way through the Fate Core rulebook. 
My first exposure to Fate was in 3rd edition, with Spirit of the Century, which introduced it.  I spent a fair amount of time trying to understand the rules, but whenever I thought that I had it, I would stumble across a rule that I'd forgotten. 
The Fate Core System book has, so far, remedied many of SotC's issues in two main ways.  Firstly, as a separate core system book - with settings available in supplements - the book itself can be organized into chapters that are actually about the rules.  This should make it much simpler to get refreshers on how things work, and it should also make it much more common to re-see things, even if I wasn't looking for them, because they're in appropriate sections.  Also a plus:  Whoever did layout does seem to have done his best to make sure that each section is in whole-page increments - 1 page or 2 facing pages when possible. 
The second, and probably larger, way in which things have been improved relates to Fate Core itself.  For starters, reducing the default aspects to 5 per PC should make it easier for players and GMs alike:  Even in Spirit of the Century, it seemed like 2 childhood aspects and 2 Great War aspects was excessive, and the list could have easily been trimmed to a more manageable 8.  I also don't have to remember that the limit on the bidding war for a Compel is 3:  Now, the PC can just buy off the compel at 1, done-and-done.  Reducing the number of Stunts to 3 should also make things easier to track, and I'm fairly certain that starting the Refresh Rate to 3 will get the Fate Points flowing much better than they might have before. 
I also heartily approve of breaking skill uses down into 4 types (not all of which apply to every skill - specifically, most can't be used to Attack), and the various conflicts dice-roll events seem much easier to understand. 
I haven't finished the read yet, but I have the feeling that, when I'm done, I won't have much left to double-check.  All in all, I'd say that this is a good system. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

RPG Hope

I've got good news, everyone! 
I've got two possibilities for two opportunities for RPGs to happen.  These are still prospective-maybes, but that's better than I've had in a long time.  One's for Dungeon World, which I highly recommend for narrative style heroic fantasy, and the other's probably going to be for Fate Core. 
In one case, I'd be running the game, and in the other case, I'd probably be running the game, which is less than ideal, but it's better than nothing.  Also, Dungeon World looks like it's not hard to GM, and kind of makes between-session work fun, since it's similarly narrative-based. 
I'm also still looking for a chance to play certain other games, like Becoming, but I'll be seeing how this other stuff plays out, first. 
So, yeah, good news for me, eh? 

I've Been Playing some Minecraft

Just as an update as to what I've been doing (and why I've been so late to post this particular month), I've been playing some Minecraft, after a long period of playing little to no Minecraft.  I'm finally getting back into it after playing so much Pokémon X.  I think that I'm playing less Pokémon X than I otherwise would, because I was rushed, because I needed to get ahead of the spoilers.  So, even though I'm planning to beat the Elite Four with a few more teams, that game's kind of shelved, for now, while I work on everything else. 
I'll go into more detail on my Minecraft blog, but I have added a few mods, and removed one. 
Also, playing Minecraft has allowed me to catch up on at least one podcast, so there's that. 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Sudden Short Story 59

A noise came from the book at the center of his study.  He eyed it, warily.  Another, similar noise came again.  Sighing, he closed the book that he was reading, stood, and carefully replaced it on its shelf.  He looked outside, seeing that it was mid-afternoon here, and that there was no sign of rain.  Even basic information like this could become vital - the people of Earth were utterly lacking in scruples.
He removed the key from its hiding place, opened the lock on the book, and hid the key under the lectern.  He opened the book, and saw through its window the most beautiful woman that he had ever seen.  This was a mistake:  By choosing the most beautiful woman that he had ever seen, they had already given away their hand, revealing that they had a complete psychological profile on him, one more impressive than could have ever been formed before he left.  Perhaps they thought that they were being subtle because she was clothed.
"You know why I am here, and I understand that you've been wont to dispense with pleasantries for some time now," said she, ever formally.
"You're here to negotiate," he answered.  "You want me, or access to me - it's all the same to you, really."  Despite his extended periods with no direct human interaction, he had lost all patience with the rest of humanity.
"We are willing to accept lesser terms.  Perhaps if you would permit us to spontaneous complex detailed dimension creation science...  As the first known discoverer controlled science, it would help us greatly in our attempt to understand the phenomenon."
"'Spontaneous complex detailed dimension creation science'... I suppose that that is direct and sufficiently detailed to serve as an adequate name."
"You call it something else?" she pretended to not know.
He played along.  "Heh," he let out, with a slight smile.  "'Age Science', though not officially.  I've gotten a bit poetical in my time alone, I suppose."
"'Age Science'?" she asked.
"Did you make that much noise just to play Pretend-We-Don't-Know with me?  It bears such a resemblance to what happened in the Myst series," he said, grabbing the cover and three-quarters-closing it.  "I did put the gate between worlds into a book, after all," he finished, opening the book fully again.
"I'll get right to the point, then.  Regardless of whether you can, we know that you will not create other people with your science.  Thus, unless and until you rejoin us, you will lack anything and everything that comes from other people.  There will be no novel recipes.  Nobody will act as your sounding board.  There will be no stories besides those that you write yourself.   And you will never have sex."
"I know," came his immediate reply.  He made sure that he was looking at his negotiator's face when he said it, though.  The stillness of her face during that brief moment of silence told him more than any tell.  After all of their simulations, all of their possible logic branches, had they missed the possibility that he'd say simply 'I know'?  Perhaps all of their supercomputers weren't nearly as smart as they thought themselves. "If that is all," he began. 
"It's not."  This answer wasn't entirely unexpected, though he knew that pretty much anything could happen now.  A case was placed upon the desk in front of her, and she opened it.  Three brittle scrolls looked like they might break at the slightest provocation.  "These appear to be a rather unique archaeological find.  The location of their discovery, as well as their condition, make it likely that they come from the early Han dynasty.  However, they have specifically not been scanned or otherwise inspected, but were brought directly here for our use.  Return to Earth, and we promise to examine them as thoroughly and as carefully as possible, learning from them as best we can.  Refuse, however, and they will be incinerated." 
They could have offered or threatened almost anything else ... .  For the first time in... perhaps ever, he was visibly shaking with rage, unable to control himself.  "So....  It has come to book-burning, has it?  Then let me start."  He slammed the book shut, locked it, and hurled it into the fire place.  Then, he sought out the materials to create a fire.  There was nothing left for him on Earth, not even hope. 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Reading Update: Late April 2014

I thought that I should give an update on my reading progress this month: 
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:  Well, I don't think that I'm going to finish A Feast for Crows by the end of the week, especially since I've got such a busy weekend coming up, but I'm so close to the end that I'm pretty sure that I'll finish it sometime next week.  Then, I'll start on A Dance with Dragons.  
  • Shadowrun Core Rulebook (5th edition):  I've barely scratched the surface of this mighty tome, but it's thankfully a reference book, so I don't really have to read it cover-to-cover or anything.  
  • The Great Webcomic Catch-Up:  This has completely stagnated this month, but I'm going to give it the old college try, as they used to say, starting next weekend. 
That's all for now.  

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Hearthstone: It's Highly Addictive!

So, I've seen ads for Hearthstone, a new online CCG from Blizzard and spin-off of their ever-profitable, ever-addictive World of Warcraft game, all over the place for the past several weeks.  However, it was actually hearing about the game from some addicts players on an unrelatd podcast that got me interested in it.  In particular, the fact that it's free to play convinced me to give it a shot. 
It plays similarly to Magic: the Gathering, but with a lot of differences, if that makes sense.  (I could list the differences, but that would be a wall of text that wouldn't convey much meaning without more details.) 
The main thing to note is that in-game gold can be earned both by winning normal matches and by doing daily quests.  Furthermore, daily quests seem to exclusively involve winning matches under certain circumstances, which overlaps nicely with the 10-gold-per-3-wins thing that's always on. 
Gold is used to buy booster packs, and also to enter the Arena - an asynchronous tournament similar to what SolForge uses - which guarantees a booster pack as a final prize, even if you completely wash out, so it's never really a waste - though one doesn't keep the drafted cards, just the after-tourney booster & possible other prizes. 
I also like the way that they do classes:  Each deck starts w/ a class, which has its own unique once-per-turn 2-mana ability, and the available cards are those specific to that class or the large set of neutral cards.  This allows each class to feel different, not just because of its ability, but also because of what cards are available to it.  For instance, it looks like only the Druid has any kind of mana acceleration available to him, while everyone else has to just gain 1 per turn until hitting the universal limit of 10.  Warlocks have Demons, Hunters have Beasts, Priests get lots of strong 1-off effects, Paladins suck, Rogues stab, etc.  I assume that this also somehow correlates to what they do in WoW, but I've never played that, so whatever.  Though, I do apparently get a free mount if I ever sign up for it. 
So, that's my overview of Hearthstone:  quite fun, pretty addictive

Monday, March 31, 2014

Reading List: April 2014

Well, April's almost upon us, so I thought that I'd post a list of stuff that I'm hoping/planning to read in the fairly immediate future: 
  • Shadowrun 5th Edition - I get to play this at conventions, so I'd at least like to not have to constantly ask about both rules and lore. 
  • Becoming - I've actually started it, but I want to read the rest of it.  
  • A Feast for Crows - I put this down to play Pokémon X, but now that I've finished it, I should get back to finishing this.  (I'm about 2/3 through.)  
  • A Dance with Dragons - I'd only start this, and it would really depend on how persistent I was on my lunch breaks with reading A Feast for Crows instead of playing Pokémon X.  
  • miscellaneous RPG book - I've got half a shelf full of unread RPG books, so I should read at least one of them.  
Obviously, I plan to read a lot more eventually, but  that's the list of immediate reads, for the near future. 

Pokémon X: Victory 1

I've got good news, everyone!  I've finally defeated the Elite Four and their Champion.  Also AZ. 
I defeated them with a team of entirely Generation VI pokémon:  Meowstic, Gogoat, Hawlucha, Barbaracle, Doublade, and Greninja. 
Now, I'm setting out to defeat them again, with a team from each generation.  I'm also imposing a few other rules for my teams: 
  • at least one mega evolution on each team
  • at least one Eeveelution, if that generation has any (none for III & V)
  • preferably, at least one pokémon that I'm using because I like it, rather than because it's "good"
However, before then, I'm going to finally catch pokémon from my Friend Safaris.  Specifically, I'm seeking females with Hidden Abilities.  I'll say this:  Meowstic's Role Play move is incredibly useful for this purpose.  

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Another Case for the Oxford Comma

Recently, there has been some controversy over the necessity of the so-called "Oxford comma".  In particular, citations have been made as to how its absence can be misleading.  However, I recently encountered a case where its absence clarifies things, though only due to the expectation of its presence where necessary. 
This isn't a great example, since it's an ingredients label and not a sentence, but I think that this might provide some insight.  I had a honey lemon chamomile infusion, and its ingredients list bore something interesting.  I reproduce it here in full: 
Chamomile flowers, lemon and honey flavors. 
The absence of a comma between "lemon" and "and" tells me that the flavors are both of lemon and of honey, and that that there is no direct lemon in the infusion.  If the Oxford comma were not expected, however, then I would not know whether "lemon" described merely a flavor or actual lemon. 
Significantly, this non-sentence cannot be - as opponents of the Oxford comma oft suggest - rearranged, since ingredients must be listed in order, from most to least. 
While I don't expect this to be a game-changer, due to its non-sentence nature, I at least hope that this helps to further convey the importance of this grammatical convention. 

Friday, February 28, 2014

Briefly on Dietary Experimentation

So, I've got kind of a weird confluence of ideas in my life that has led me to messing with my diet a bit. 
After hearing about some bad stuff that gluten can do to people in general, I heard about the paleo diet, which is naturally free of gluten.  I have no plans to go full paleo, but it is an intriguing diet, partly in that much of what it contains is, or at least can be, tasty. 
I probably already consume plenty of meat, so I'm not changing that quantity, but I will be increasing my fruit & veggie intake, which is something that's often recommended, anyway. 
I don't expect to go gluten-free any time soon, but it's interesting to see how much gluten is in so much of what we eat, anyway.  For reference, the grains that naturally contain gluten are wheat, rye, triticale, and barley; all remaining grains are naturally gluten-free.  The caveat there is that, apparently, oats are frequently contaminated by wheat, but, since I'm not allergic or anything, I won't be picky about that. 
I'm working on what will probably be my easiest and broadest substitution that I'll end up making:  substituting peanut butter with an actual nut butter.  I suspect that I'll find cashew butter quite delicious, but also quite expensive.  For hard-to-find nut butters, I may resort to grinding the nuts myself, just to try them. 

It's also interesting to see what's so hard to find because of the way that the economy self-reinforces:  Nobody sells something because not enough people want it, but most people don't want it because they see it as niche (i.e., only for "health nuts" or whatever), but it's only that way because it's not already on every store shelf, anyway!  

Pokémon X Mini-Update

Some Pokémon X spoilers follow. 

I thought that I should mention a few things about my Pokémon X progress: 
1.  I beat the 8th gym! 
With that out of the way, I think that I know who's on my team, though many of these decisions have made themselves.  They are: 
  • Meowstic (female):  special attacker
  • Gogoat:  physical attacker
  • Barbaracle:  tank
  • Hawlucha:  beat stick (and conveniently flying-type)
  • Doublade:  Ghost/Steel type fast physical attacker that's a Ghost/Steel type
  • Greninja:  high-speed mixed attacker w/ double-team
The Honedge line is pretty awesome:  One of Steel's weaknesses, Fighting, is negated by the fact that it's a Ghost type, and, as a Steel type, it's immune to Poison-type damaging attacks and to being poisoned at all. 
Barbaracle is actually a pretty good tank once it evolves out of its Binacle stage. 
I don't have any status-inflictors on the team, but I think that I'll be OK with the team as it is.  Each pokémon knows a variety of damaging attacks, so type coverage shouldn't be an issue.  3 of my pokémon are weak to Electric attacks, but Gogoat knows Bulldoze, so I don't foresee problems from Electric-type pokémon - though I've already fought an Electric-type gym leader, so I don't expect any of the Elite 4 to use them, since that's pretty normal. 

2.  Barbaracle can't learn Waterfall.  :-\
Given that the 8th badge is required to use it, I'm presuming that I'll need to use Waterfall to reach the Pokémon League.  I've got a Clauncher, so I'll probably use that just enough to get there.  Still, I'd have gladly taught the move to Barbaracle, were it allowed.  :-\

The Great Webcomic Catch-Up: February Update

So, the great webcomic catch-up isn't going so great. 
I've gotten super-busy and super-sidetracked with ALL THE THINGS. 
That said, I think that my strategy is still viable.  For each comic, I'll read until I'm caught up, then move on to the next one.  However long it takes, by the end I shouldn't be more than, say, 2 months behind on any one, so I'll repeat the process.  That should get me down to under a week, at which point I can do my previous accidental standard catch-up method, and then be caught up.  Once I'm caught up with everything, I can go back to checking webcomics every day after school work, which I think isn't a bad way to end the day. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Pokémon X Progress

I haven't made much progress through Pokémon X, it seems. 
I've caught Xerneas, so there's that.  I've been preparing a team to fight the Ice-type gym leader coming up, but I arrived in Couriway town only to be ambushed by a Professor and discover that there was no gym in that town.  So, now I have to slog my way through the next route to get to the next town, which almost certainly has the gym. 
I think that part of my delay is because I'm trying to catch 'em all.  For instance, I spent significant amounts of time in the tunnel north of Couriway once I found that Rock Smash sometimes led to Shuckle.  (I didn't catch it the 1st time.  :-\)
I did catch a Noibat, though it's male, so I'd have to Ditto-breed it. 
Also, Diggersby has been getting more use again, since Dig can be used to escape caves.  Come to think of it, I should probably swap out Diggersby for Talonflame, since there seem to be a lot of Grass-types out there, given that I'm on the route again. 

Friday, January 31, 2014

Initial Thoughts on Hinduism & Vedic Mythology

I have come to the conclusion that there was a vast ancient Indo-European conspiracy to make my life hard. 
not really
As you may recall from my post on my initial thoughts on Greek mythology, ancient polytheistic* religions are hard! 
And to make it worse, western culture has almost no references to any Sura or Asura.  I mean, I knew that Shiva had 4 arms, and The Simpsons once made a joke involving Ganesha, but that's not much.  And to top it all off, most clades derive their names from Greek or Latin words, rather than Hindi, so my curiosity about evolutionary biology doesn't even help! 
Fortunately, I know someone knowledgeable on the subject who's quite willing to field questions on the matter.  Nevertheless, I suspect that I'm going to be making more diagrams for this one, too - and yes, there are multiple versions of some things, so I'll have to sort that out, too.  I just have to decide whether to use colors or shapes to indicate of which of the Trimurti each being is an aspect. 

I also feel that I should mention that, like the Greek mythology research, this is for a (separate) personal creative project that you might see.  I'll still try to post any insights that I might have here, that they might be useful to others. 

*By most accounts, Hinduism is not technically polytheistic.

P.S.:  Props to Firefox/Blogger for knowing all of those words up there. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Great Webcomic Catch-Up

I felt that this deserved a mention: 
About a year ago, I was having a rather stressful time.  I was already only catching up on webcomics on weekends as it was, and this kind of threw everything out of whack. 
Unfortunately, this wound up being a self-perpetuating thing:  The longer that I went without catching up on webcomics, the more daunting the task became. 
This will never stop unless and until I go out of my way to stop it; with a few exceptions, I'm about a year behind on most webcomics that I read, which is a shame because I do actually like reading them. 
As such, I declare this week, and however long it takes after that, to be my webcomic catch-up week.  If all goes according to plan, I should be caught up to at least January 26th on each webcomic by February 1st, at which point I'll only be a week behind, and quite capable of getting fully caught up. 
I really do miss the old days, when I would come home and spend a few minutes reading whichever webcomics updated that day.  It's the little things, y'know?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Y-Locke's Log: Day 2

I traversed Route 2 today.  At the end of it, a sign warned of "Santalune Forest Ahead".  About to enter, I was challenged to a pokémon battle by a youngster named Austin.  He had only a Zigzagoon, and Sly was able to take it out in two hits.
To be sure that I was ready to take on the forest, I returned to Aquacorde Town to rest my pokémon once more.
Upon entering the forest, Shauna caught up with me, seeking to tag along in the event that something exciting should happen.
At the signpost up ahead, I was told to keep an eye out for dropped items.  Just starting out on my adventure, I figured that I could use whatever I could get, so why not, right?  In fact, from the sign I could see an item, which turned out to be a potion.
Since I was in a new area, not wanting to knock out whatever I found first, I put Orion up front.  Then, I entered the tall grass, and soon found a Pansear.  Not wanting him to be hit much, I had Orion repeatedly use Sand Attack to lower its accuracy.  Since Pansear's Leer had lowered Orion's defense, though, I switched out to Sly, then back to Orion, to continue carefully whittling it down.  A third tackle from Orion weakened it significantly, and I caught it in a Poké Ball.  I decided to name him Pyrrhini, since he's a fire monkey.  Despite being a fire type, like Sly, I think that Pyrrhini can still make a valuable addition to the team.
On top of that, I found an Antidote just past the grass.  
I promptly returned to Aquacorde to heal the whole team.  Shauna stayed behind in the forest, though.  Upon my return, I rendezvoused with Shauna.
I was able to find another Potion in the forest, but the rest of that area was an overall dead end.  Wandering through the forest to train, Shauna then mentioned that she'd heal my pokémon whenever I wanted.  I wish that she'd mentioned that before my return trip to Aquacorde, but it's all good, either way.
I saw some of the others in the forest, and Shauna found a Paralyze Heal shortly after that.  She offered it to me, and I knew better than to turn it down.
I fought a youngster named Joey on my way through the forest.  I also bumped into Serena, who gave me a Poké Ball.  Then, I fought a lass named Anna, who used only a Pikachu.
Spotting a side trail, I went to explore it, but had to fight a lass named Lise first.  I had Orion out front this time, who handled her team with ease.  It's a good thing that I took that trail, too, since I was able to find yet another Poké Ball.
There was also a potion on the way out.

About to exit the forest, everyone else caught up at about the same time.  We talked for a bit, moved outside of the forest, and talked some more.  Upon departing, I sought out some tall grass on Route 3.  Therein, I found a Bidoof.  I caught it, and named him Theodore.
Soon after, I was challenged by Oliver, a preschooler.  I defeated his team, of course, though his Caterpie was a bit tougher than it looked.  Right after I was finished with that one, though, another preschooler, Ella, challenged me with her Pichu.  
I made it to the Santalune Pokémon Center, and Tierno showed up at about the same time.  He mentioned the PC system and that, conveniently, there are Poké Marts in the backs of Pokémon Centers.  I went around and talked to the other folks there, including a delivery girl who was apparently seeking me out.  I got a Mystery Gift from her, and it turned out to be a Torchic, a little Fire-type birdy.  Lucky me, at that:  It was level 10, the same as Sly, and was holding something called "Blazikenite".  Also, the Pokédex seems unable to identify it. 

I decided to call it a night there.  I think that I may double back to Route 3 tomorrow, to see if there's anything that I may have missed, but otherwise, I've got Santalune City to explore. 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Y-Locke's Log: Day 1

Today's the big day.  What timing, eh?  Just before I start my own Pokémon adventure, we have a big move! 
As important as my Pokémon journey is, I figure that I'll keep this log to remember things. 


No sooner did I step out of my front door than I was greeted by my new neighbor, Serena, and her friend Shauna.  They informed my that my presence, and theirs, had been requested by Professor Sycamore.  They said that we'd meet in the next town over, and that that's where we'd get our first Pokémon.  So, I said goodbye to Rhyhorn, took one last look around Vaniville, and went off to meet my destiny.  

Several yards away, I found Aquacorde town.  I was immediately hailed by a group of four, including the two girls that I had met previously.  I was introduced to Tierno and Trevor.  I was then introduced to the Pokémon with whom I would go on my journey.  There were actually three options:  Chespin, the Grass type, Froakie, the Water type, and Fennekin, the Fire type.  I chose a Fennekin for myself.  Per the rules, I nicknamed him.  Since he's a fox, I decided to call him Sly.  Shauna picked Chespin, and Serena picked Forakie. 
Trevor delivered to me a Pokédex from Professor Sycamore.  We are to try to complete the Pokédexes for Professor Sycamore's research. 
Tierno gave me a letter from the professor to my mother, to deliver to her.  Before heading back home so soon, though, I thought that I'd have a look around.  Some fellow in the town square gave me a Potion, which I'm sure will be put to good use.  I found a shop that sells Poké Balls, so I bought ten.  I received a Premier Ball as an added bonus, which is quite handy. 
On my way home, Shauna ambushed me and challenged me to a battle.  Two hits of Ember made quick work of her Chespin.  Despite this, she was kind enough to heal Sly for me. 
Upon delivering the letter to my mother, she gave me a map and a spare change of clothes, so I suppose that it's good that my journey had this slight delay.  Ryhorn said its own goodbye to me, too, and then I was off to see the whole wide Kalos region. 


I had barely stepped onto Route 2 when a wild Pokémon appeared.  I had Sly use his Scratch attacks to weaken it, then caught it in a Poké Ball.  I named him Orion.  Since both of them were weakened from their battle, I went back to Aquacorde to have them rest up. 
Upon returning to Route 2, I encountered Shauna and Serena.  Serena encountered a Bunnelby, and used her Fletchling to catch it.  She also gave Shauna and me some Poké Balls, so I'm now ten Poké Balls richer, for what it's worth. 
I proceeded to spend some time training Orion and Sly against the wild Pokémon on Route 2, returning to Aquacorde whenever either was weakened.  It soon grew late, however, so I returned to Aquacorde for the night. 
Tomorrow is another day.