Bitter Grounds - espresso fueled ramblings

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Gaming 101 - don't kill off your colonists in the first 15 min

I am one of the worst video game players on earth.  Despite my utter ineptness, I enjoy playing and occasionally, idly, think maybe I should stream my attempts live. I could call myself “Captain Disaster” or “Your Colony is DOOOOOMMMMED”.  I don’t enjoy shooter games and war games much. I prefer sims, strategy and the odd dungeon and dragon style game.  I enjoy the mechanics of governing and the minutia of dealing with the economy etc so tend to gravitate towards games that allow me to micromanage the smaller details. I'm not good at the management, but I do have fun.

The problem is, I tend to get into weird moral dilemmas’ while playing. One of the reasons I don’t do well at games like Europa Universalis or Civilization is the mental gymnastics my brain gets wrapped around. I start thinking “I can’t just declare war, they have the right … “ or “well why can’t there be universal suffrage or freedom right now … oh that was quick” and the game goes to hell in a hand basket.  Inevitably, my little kingdoms get swept away. Often, shockingly fast. Once in awhile I’ll throw ethics aside and play the role of despot or whatever and .. nah, never lasts long.  I know, it’s just a game, but the little running commentary in my head harkens back to my days as a political studies student at Queen's discussing the historical ramifications between this act or the political maneuverings that led to that disaster. Eventually I end up looking up some arcane bit of history and forget I have the game playing. If it’s real time based, I return to find everyone dead.

I’m working on a new game now – Planetbase by Madruga Works ( Steam is running their summer sale and I picked it up to try out. The premise is straightforward. I’m in command of a new colony on some distant planet. No wars, no moral dilemma, not a rival colony to be seen. Just me and my little colonists. I’m in charge of setting up the colony and making it sustainable. Planning things out properly will attract new colonists, opportunities for trade and expansion.  What could go wrong?

Colony one.  Even for me, it was a stunning record of 15 min worth of game time.  Need to plan a better layout. Oh and get the oxygen maker running faster. Much faster.  

Screen capture of second colony in Planetbase

Colony 2.  Not too bad! Lasted long enough to grab a screen capture. 

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A little unboxing therapy – a ghost pepper sauce?

Unboxing is usually the domain of tech and gaming sites or fashion, but I get a bit more pumped over food and espresso.  Just ask my customers. I must be the only computer tech support around who is frequently asked to pick up a special cheese on my way to the customers or if I have a recipe for some cool veggie they’ve discovered.  What can I say, I’m full-service computer support! I’m the type of person who gets excited about grocery stores – even when I’m on vacation I check out local groceries to see what people are buying. I’ve hit grocery stores all over the US, Canada, Hong Kong, Cuba, Germany, Paris, Netherlands, England, Spain … maybe I should contact GUSTO TV and ask them to sponsor a world tour of grocery stores. Ok, I just wandered into fantasy land.

My local Longo’s, a home-grown chain here in Toronto, often has new products to try or tastings set up. I'm an unabashed lover of the store and, although they aren't aware of it, have had a long standing love affair with their produce department since my early years. They are super big on supporting local producers, which always tickles me.  While looking around my eye spotted this:

Longo's Signature Freestone Peach & Ghost Pepper Sauce

Yes, a  bright, shiny, colourful new, hot sauce. I love hot sauces. I mean LOVE hot sauces! OMG I LOVE HOT SAUCES. I’ve never had a ghost pepper sauce because, although I adore hot sauces, occasionally the appreciation isn’t reciprocal. Too much heat and well, acid reflux does backstrokes in my stomach.  I couldn’t resist this one and threw caution to the wind, hoping the peaches would prevent a complete hot pepper mutiny. In case anyone was in the store watching, yes, I was that odd little person dancing near the freezers with the bottle of hot sauce at the Imperial Plaza store. I make no apologies.  

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Ah, sunshine and robins .. okay just one robin

From about a week ago, before the great inundation last week. Looks like lots of nice weather coming up. Hopefully things will dry out a bit and I'll be able to get out with the camera a bit more. 

Photo of a robin - Toronto May 2017 

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New apartment, new chair - back in business

It's been a busy 2 months, but finally settled into new digs. Great little place, felt like home the moment I stepped into the apartment. The hardest part was finding a new chair for my desk. I've been on the hunt for about a year looking for a size appropriate chair to use. Yes, a year! Problem is, most chairs are built for substantially taller people so the head rest, arms, depth of chair and back support are all wrong. Even with adjustments, they were never comfortable and I end up with excruciating pain down my neck and shoulder. I often ended up propped up against pillows in bed just to type for more than 20 min. I have this beautiful old vintage table I'm using, which is a bit lower than a standard desk (don't get me started on that!) and really wanted a chair to go with it. I was tired of feeling like a 2 year old at the table, dangling my feet in the air.  Well, I found one - and it was on sale no less - at Staples about 3 weeks ago.  This is the perfect chair for short people. I can sit all day comfortably and put both feet flat on the ground while properly seated.  What a luxury.  The downside to all of this is I no longer have an excuse for procrastinating so much on the website. 

I am a bit ticked off - I can't find my Wacom digital tablet. For the life of me I can't figure out where I put it. Hoping I didn't accidently throw it out. Until I find it, no digital art work will be done. Bugger damn. 

On the upside, the lilac tree LOVES it's new spot on the balcony. It's already putting on a display of green.

Photo of my lilac tree Apr 2017It looks better than it did, this time last year.  I carefully trimmed it in the spring, hoping it would help it bloom a bit better. It was a bit touch and go with the tree last summer. The wind up on the NW corner of the old apartment was ferocious most of the time and the poor tree took a hell of a beating. We're down 6 floors and in the middle of the building (same building) and very sheltered. Even in a bad wind storm, things on the balcony barely ripple. Should go a long way in helping the tree recover.  I'm now thinking of what herbs I'll be planting. Hopefully, they will do better down here as well. In the meantime, I'll just enjoy the splash of green for a few weeks.

Lilac tree on balcony




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"Writing is not life, but I think that sometimes it can be a way back to life."

- Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

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