Monthly Archives: December 2012

Playing The Secret World

Foxfier has been recommending The Secret World MMO for approximately forever. The game went “buy to play” recently (you buy the game, then play it free from then on, no subscription), and Amazon had it on sale.

The first thing to know is that you have to download more than 15 GB, so be prepared to stop and start your downloader a lot. Also be prepared for the downloader to crash. The good thing is that, once you start, it remembers how far along you are.

The annoying thing is that, like almost all MMO’s I’ve played, you have to be able to maneuver with your arrow keys/WASD keys and your mouse buttons and your mouse wheel, and the camera flips around and makes you feel sick like always. (I want a joystick for this junk.) Also, they never explain how this works, and just assume you know.

However, there’s a very interesting storyline emerging, although I sorta doubt if I’ll get there while constantly running into walls. Also, lots of interesting dialogue to which you yourself never need pick a fake response.

The nice thing is that it’s very interested in providing you with immersive puzzles and investigation. But you do have to fight at some point.

And it will undoubtedly help if I can ever move where I plan to go.


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A Feel-Good Story

This is pretty much the opposite of most gifted kids’ childhood, sad to say. But it’s what I wish we all could have, “gifted” or not.

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Filkerrrrr innnnn Spaaaaaace!

An excellent song, sung and played beautifully, for the honor of Our Lord on the vigil of His Birthday.

From a place better known to angels than men.

By astronaut Chris Hadfield, covering a 2001 song by Dave Hadfield.

You’ll also notice that it is ABSOLUTELY TYPICAL of filk’s serious side. Deeply personal, yet steeped in the tradition (and chords, and riffs) of science fiction and space fandom. Seriously, you could expect a song like this to come out of anybody in a filkroom — and yet, it is very individual.

You will also notice that he obviously had practiced it LOTS. And that makes it even more thoughtful, of course, because it can’t be easy to find practice time and energy in the busy world of the ISS.

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Merry Christmas!

Well, we’ve survived this hard year, and it’s nearly time for another Feast of Christ’s Incarnation. I wish you and yours all the best, and I’ll be praying for you. Please pray for me, too.

Everything’s going okay at the call center, except that of course it’s so busy and tiring.

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I have re-learned another valuable life lesson: “The great outdoors is not your friend.”

It seems that when I was airing out the place this fall after most of the flying insects were dead, a few silverfish came into the place and nibbled on some of my books which were stored by the window. The other books seem to be untouched and I’ve seen no other signs of silverfish, so I appear to have gotten off lightly. (Or the periodic waves of cold killed them off; or they just drove them into dormancy so I’ll see them again.)

I plan to get hold of my friend, diatomaceous earth, to rid myself of the problem more permanently. (If you don’t have cats or little kids to get into your corners all the time and get into the diatoms, it’s excellent passive insect control. Especially since it never wears out.)

I’m very annoyed at myself. Granted, I’ve never had a garden window before, but that’s no excuse.

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A New Catholic RPG!

Tabletop roleplaying.

Set at Detroit’s Shrine of the Little Flower — in the future.

Yes, it’s Cloisters!

“Welcome to a new Dark Age. Mankind has tried to blow itself to Hell and nearly succeeded. After the fall, there was a backlash against technology — that burned books, engineers, and educators.

“You have chosen the hard path of knowledge and are actively working to end the new era of ignorance and superstition. You are a monk in the Order of Saint James the Literate. Your mission is to collect and disseminate knowledge – to teach and help the people who are left.”

You can get the PDF for just $14.95. It comes on CD.

So yeah, basically this is fun for people who like Chronicle for Leibowitz Stirling’s post-electricity stories, or TV’s Revolution.

Mr. Tucholka of Tri Tac Games is a nice guy, and is perhaps best known for his gritty but fun pre-X-Files urban fantasy RPG, Bureau 13 (aka Stalking the Night Fantastic), his grim military post-nuclear RPG, The Morrow Project, and his pre-Stargate portal travel game, Fringeworthy. He’s been creating RPGs since the 1970’s, and he’s produced or written a little bit of everything. He also has a great sense of humor! So support small Michigan business and check it out!

Tucholka’s games and supplements are very adaptable to other gaming systems, so don’t be afraid to mix and match with your own campaign. (Actually, a lot of people like the atmospheres better than the gaming systems, although your mileage may vary.)

Also, check out his freebies! (Includes a couple of free mini games and modules.)

And don’t forget the cookbooks! (Includes a couple of free recipes.)

(Btw, Stargate fans should check out this nice compilation of classic Tri Tac covers. As you’ll see when you get to the Fringeworthy section and look at the 1984 blue cover, Stargate obviously was a tad bit influenced by Tucholka.)

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Reporters without Listening Skills

The concept is pretty simple:

1. There are three major American dialect areas which run through Ohio, with names and recognizable differences in pronunciations.

2. Ohio State linguists are running a survey of visitors to COSI in Columbus, because they want to get more of an all-ages selection than the classic telephone survey provides.

[Telephone surveys were usually targeted for geographic distribution and now show long-time residency — ie, landline possession.]

Unfortunately, The Columbus Dispatch manages to get every major fact about American dialects wrong. They get the names wrong. They fail to capitalize the names, for some reason. They even turn the cot/caught distinction into cut/caught. (Is it a typo, or a feature of the reporter’s speech?) Very possibly, this is an editor problem and not a reporter problem, or even a problem with spellchecker. But messing up the linguistic elements of an article on linguistics means everybody reading has been told misinformation.

Basically, here’s the three main things they’re talking about.

Northern, Northern Cities, or “The North” extends from New York along the Great Lakes and outward from there, and has a lot of sub-dialects. It’s pretty much all a product of the Northern Cities Shift, a phonetic shift of vowels that you can find described here. Midland is the classic American “broadcast accent”, related historically to settlers from the Midlands of the UK and conveniently also in a midland area of the US. (And it has tons of sub-dialects, too.) Southern likewise extends from the east coast over, has lots of sub-dialects, but has washed up into a lot of rural Southern Ohio — and of course we have plenty of households from further South who’ve moved here.

Inland North is Columbus and surrounding areas, the way most people reckon it. Ohio State linguists are basically trying to make the name for that become the name for most of Ohio’s dialect areas, displacing “Midland” to be used for only the flattest Midwest accents. So it’s a bit weird for them to use their individual term in a way that will get college kids in trouble if they take linguistics anywhere else besides OSU. But linguists are always pulling infighting stuff like this.

All the same, it’s difficult to believe that the researcher didn’t talk about the distinctive Columbus sub-dialects, because even the newspaper’s commenters start talking about it. (Listing “kee-oke” for Coke, which I haven’t heard before but can believe.)

Actually, this hobbyist’s map is probably one of the best out there. It corresponds more with my experienced reality, that is! However, linguistic maps are doomed to be ever-changing, thanks to settlement patterns.


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