tearonthefire: (Taarna)
So I just finished my little sailors meal. At first it didn't taste too bad, only a little salty with a slightly weird but not rotten aftertaste. After finishing the meal, however, it left me with a bad aftertaste which reminded me of my mother's boiled then fried to grey steaks. Again I don't think it was rotten, I just think the salting and pickling made it, unpalatable. It might also have something to do with the fact that the meat was frozen before I started the preparations.

The cooking process was a little gross however. As you can see on the following picture, the boiling process left a whitish yellow foamy film around the rim. It didn't small bad but it did look like something I found in a fish tank once. I removed the meat, scrubbed the pot, and continued the boil.

This is what the water looked like at the end of the first boil. Kinda icky really but again there was no smell other than a very mild fat smell which could be attributed to the steam.

Finally this is what it looked like just before I ate it, normal looking. Again it didn't smell bad, in fact it smelled like nothing which is usually a sign of a very bland meal and for the most part, that's exactly what it was.

The little experiment went about as I expected with some interesting exceptions. The meat wasn't as nearly as salty as I would have thought. It was an 'inside' kind of salty taste, like sea water, and very different from if I had sprinkled it on top. Also it had some flavour, although I wouldn't call it beefy, with a very fibrous texture. The fibrousness was actually the most pronounced flavour of the whole thing. You might think that that doesn’t make sense but just imagine eating dry shredded beef flakes. That's about as good of a description as I can give; dry, fibrous, slightly salty, and bland.

Now hopefully my experiment has concluded and I do not get to see it partially digested.
tearonthefire: (Taarna)
I am about to get very sick. Why? I've just replicated the kind of beef they would have on a long sea voyage during the age of sail. It involves packing beef in salt for 5 days then packing it in pickling liquids for long tern storage, I left it in for 3 days, just enough time to soak up the flavor. In an attempt to replicate it as closely as possible, I did not prepare it as one would salty beef, which uses spices and requires chilling.

I'm now boiling it, which is somewhat a departure as British sailors would bake it in a galley cauldron type thing. I expect it to taste very salty and probably somewhat tough but not as petrified as urban legend would like us to believe. Actually it looked very 'stale' coming out of the salt pack but softened in the pickling.

So now, I'm going to eat meat that has been kept, uncooked, at room temperature for 8 days. I feel somewhat hopefully that I wont be spending tomorrow kneeling at the toilet as it didn't smell bad when I took it out, it just smelled like salt with a slight pickle tinge.

Mmmm, a taste of history.

BTW, I'm doing this to add authenticity to a story I will probably never write.
tearonthefire: (Taarna)
And this is why.

MUUUUHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!! You've seen it, you can unseen it.
tearonthefire: (Taarna)
And now to prove that 'taking offence' is stupid, I will now say something about myself that some will be offended at for me, even though I said it to myself. Yes that statement just tore a hole in reality.

I'm a fat, gender queer, retarded, dyke.

Writing that just made me smile.
tearonthefire: (Taarna)
There are a group of women, and some men, whom call themselves feminist but are the absolute furthest thing from what feminism is. My interpretation of the word simply means equality for women but can mean other things, like women helping women and so forth. But this group of women are not seeking equality or giving a helpful hand, this group is making an active effort to make all women believe that they are victims of all men. That is not to say that some aren't, some most certainly are victimized but statements like, and I'm paraphrasing because I can't remember the exact quote or who made it, 'all sex is demeaning and violating to women' is idiotic beyond reason. This same person, that I can't remember the name, also said that woman who 'think' they enjoy sex or 'think' they have an equal partnership with a man have actually been brainwashed by men to believe these principles.

The particular person I'm paraphrasing was exclusively speaking about women but her ideals have been adopted and expanded by others. I'm actually having trouble wording my next statement, so this will seem very ruff but you likely know someone who thinks everyone should play nice. That no one should be allowed to call anyone names or segregate someone from their group because they don't like them. These people are into an ultra tolerance type thing. They even want to restrict the type of dress women and men can wear, so to limit the sexualization of an event or place. This is actually happening at ultra liberal gatherings, like at atheist conventions. There are actually conventions were participants are told not to dress in sexualized clothing, or to create a sexualized environment and that doing so constitutes harassment. There was even some comparison that making and selling fake jewellery or making an offensive comment was like groping someone's ass.

As you might now be wondering, this blog was indeed precipitated by something. It was a vlog by Thunderf00t entitled “Why 'Feminism' is poisoning Atheism”, with the word feminism in quotes. While his comments inspired me to think in a similar direction, I'm not into the atheist movement and can't speak of any experience there. I personally don't think the atheist movement has anything resembling balls, which was demonstrated by the organizers' reaction to the 'professional victims' complaints and demands, and as such I don't feel a connection to the group. Personally I think these people, the atheists, should be far more on the offensive and far less accommodating to the 'politically correct'. To be fair however, there are some atheists that do not put up with that kind of bullshit, Thunderf00t is one and so is Richard Dawkins.

I have a lot of experience with professional victims and the poison they pour out into the world. But to be fair to that group, most of the people within it have at one time been victimized, sometimes brutally so. The point at which I loose sympathy for them, is when they start transferring their suffering and anxieties onto others. The sad fact for them, and the reassuring fact for other, is that in all likelihood their experience was an isolated incident or, in some cases, a small event blown out of proportion and not a cautionary tail to tell all of humanity in hopes of sparing them your misery.

I could now go in a million directions with this;

I could bring up the fact that while gathering rape statistics, a sizable percentage of women say that they did not report their assault because they felt it wasn't important enough to do so. Your first reaction, as mine was, might be to think there's something wrong with these women but maybe they think getting drunk and being taken advantage of, was just a matter of poor judgement and not a violation of them as human being. Even that being said, you might want to continue to argue the point, maybe even argue the point to the victim that doesn't consider herself a victim but my point now is that you and I have no right to tell these women that they are victims, for them they are not.

I could also bring up bullying. Many have called it an epidemic but I, and my sisters from what I remember, were picked on just as much as anyone else and as much as anyone who has been reported in the news lately but we didn't kill ourselves. The reaction from the PCers is harsher punishment to the bullies and endless campaigns on how it's wrong. The bully 'victim's' reactions however are just another symptom from the professional victim movement. These kids are never taught how to deal with bulling because their parents think that it's wrong and believe that it's up to everyone else to modify their behaviour, this is just ignoring reality. Bullying happens no matter how much you don't want it to and no matter how much you try to protect your kids they will get bullied no matter what, it's human nature. Sticking your head and by extension you kids' head in the sand only leads them to pain and misery.

I could also mention, and don't worry this is the last one, how parents are transferring their own victimizations to their children, I have a lot of experience with this example. I think for the most part parents are subconscious of what they repeatedly tell their kids. It provides no benefit to the child to tell them repeated how you were raped by someone or abused by a partner, in fact it only serves to make a girl afraid of all men and a boy feel responsible for his gender. Both will grow up fearing either being assaulted or being accused of it or worse, falling into relationships were abuse is normalized because their parent have desensitized them to it. All the parent is doing is making their child feel like they do and if you don't like how you feel, why would you make your kids feel that way.

So far I've been fairly gender neutral but the sad fact is, that most of the perpetrators of the professional victims movement are women, there are men but they number far less. I believe, perhaps delusionarily so, that these people are a minority and simply get more facetime because of the PCers. The politically correct movement can seem even worse at times but they aren't my focus today. I don't truly believe that the majority of women, and some men, think that they are at constant risk of being harassed or at risk of worse. I don't think that they think being hit on is offensive or a behaviour that should be corrected. And I don't think they agree with these people, I think for the most part they ignore them. It's the absolute truth that when a woman, or a man, doesn't agree with them, they call them part of the problem and put a portion of the guilt on them.

It's ridiculous and maddening when these people open their mouths to let their idiocy spew out. It's even more ridiculous that such a small number can effect the liberties of so many others. I hesitate calling myself a feminist because of these people and would rather call myself a humanist. A word that started a movement with such admirable principals has been co-oped by extremists that could be compared to any religious extremist group. I don't want these people around me nor do I even wish to argue with them, and arguing is one of my favourite pastimes, I just want them gone. They add to making life unlivable.
tearonthefire: (Taarna)
The Emergency Department's Observation Ward at the Ottawa Hospital's Civic Campus is unfortunately designed. If your lucky enough to be assigned a bed on the east side, you're in for a more or less peaceful visit. If you unlucky, as the person I was visiting was, and assigned the west side you'll be treated to all the babbling and bitching of the nurse's station. The north side might be just as bad but I'm not sure as I've never sat in that area for any length of time.

I know that doctors and nurses, especially those in an emergency room, have a hard time but most seem a little manic or even schizo. They can seem perfectly friendly and helpful to you one minute and total dicks the next. I'm not saying they aren't under stress or don't have a reason to be as such but the forgiveness is only extended, and expected, one way. If you're a patient, you must at all times kiss their asses or risk being left alone, except for during rounds or checkups. And if you're positioned correctly you can hear them complain, way too loudly in my opinion, about everything, from breaks to difficult patients or you may even hear them talking about what they screwed up with you.

It was mind numbing, literally. When I left I had a headache large enough and was in a bad enough mood that I wanted to inflict damage to the building. I said I wanted to burn the hospital down but I wasn't in that bad of a condition. I did however hate everyone but one person who dealt with the person I was with. Only one nurse seemed to exhibit true patients and a willingness to put in a little more work. He gave the person I was with a new IV line, taking two tries, when the assigned nurses did everything possible to avoid it.

Even the doctor didn't want to think outside of what her preconceived conception of the person's illness. She had decided what was wrong and blamed all other symptoms on a preexisting condition and pretty much refused to discuss or suggest other possibles but did make sure that she mentioned several times that the person I was with follow up. It was obvious that she was not one hundred percent sure of her prognosis and feared something else was wrong. It was a classic case of pass the buck.

The troublesome IV was even a pass the buck. The assigned nurse dumped it on another nurse who fixed the problem almost immediately and with an effort to prevent further annoyance. All his efforts were of course complained about by the assigned nurse afterwards.

My increased annoyance might also be due to my changed perception of the medical community. At one time I saw them, literally, as superior beings. Maybe that's a stretch but it was definitely an elevation and a forgiveness that I felt towards them. Then I started reading the blogs of doctors and nurses in preparation to write a story. What I found was a little shocking.

They all act, like anyone would, anywhere else in the employed world. The bitchy and lazy secretary, that only gives you your messages after you ask for them, is represented in the ER. The prankster who moves your stuff around just enough for you to notice, is there. And the jerk who wants a favour from you, for doing their job, isn't hard to find. They're all there and in spades. And just like in the normal world, everyone who is higher than you on the ladder, let you know, every minute of your life. It's all very disgusting, especially in an environment where you go to have your life saved.

And the person I sat with in Observation? She's still in fairly bad condition but now is in the peace and quiet of her own bed as she suffers.
tearonthefire: (Taarna)
I love Doritos, more than love Doritos, I adore them utterly, especially Zesty Cheese. I've tried just about every flavour, even the ones that were only produced for a limited time and for the most part I liked them all. They may not have been my favourites but by and large they all had something special about them and Doritos Jacked Colossal Smoky Chipotle BBQ was not an exception.

It had a wonderful bite to it and unlike most bags of Doritos every single chip was completely covered in flavouring. Also, and very oddly so, almost every chip was completely intact. It was kind of creepy, reaching in and grabbing a palm size triangle, almost perfectly shaped, one after the other. It wasn't until I got to the bottom of the bag that I found some broken ones but I wouldn't be exaggerating very much if I said ninety five percent of the chips were perfect.

But the flavour had some very big drawbacks. Unlike the standard flavour or the Zesty Cheese flavour this one got tiresome fairly quickly and you could especially taste the corn chip. After a while it became like eating plain nacho chips, with some kick added to them of course but the soul that had become the Doritos franchise was all but missing. Not that I would discourage anyone from trying them but this flavour is definitely not a 'sit down and eat a whole bag' one.

I don't think I would buy another bag for myself, to share at a party, probably but not just for myself. It most definitely has a draw to it with a surprising, 'hay that's pretty good' first reaction but lacks a staying power and becomes less novel after a few handfuls.
tearonthefire: (Taarna)
I recently moved from a big city to a tiny town. Since moving here I've suffered almost constant nausea, stomach aches, and general digestive irritability but I couldn't immediately attribute this to the move because I've suffered from very poor digestive health since I was a child. I've also use a filter religiously and thought that it would be enough to remove anything added to the water to make it drinkable but unpleasant.

Some weeks into the move I began jonesing for a soft drink, specifiably the bottle of cherry coke that sat at the end of one of the isle in the market. The two litre bottle lasted a few days, during which time I didn't drink the tap water, except to cook. I felt better immediately, like that day immediately, and began to suspect the water was causing my troubles. Other signs such as the permanently etched shower door, permanently stripped stainless steel kitchen sink, and the rust colour stains under every faucet and in the toilet were also indicators of this.

I changed filters hoping it would at least help but it didn't and my symptoms continued. After a while I just gave up and bought a 20 litre bottle of water and have been using it exclusively, even for cook. For the first time since getting here, my stomach feels normal.

The problem with the water is multifaceted. First it's exceptionally base, I'm not sure how much so but I'm told it's a lot. Second it is very highly chlorinated, so highly chlorinated that the breakdown of the sodium hypochlorite, which they use as their treatment product, causes the sodium levels to be twelve times it's recommended limit. Third since the town water is technically well water the municipality doesn't have to test for some things, like sulfates. To that I would like to mention that this is cow country. I think that statement rather self explanatory.

When i decided not to consume my government mandated, piped to my house, water I asked some of my neighbours what they thought. Not a single one drinks it. Not one. One woman said all she drinks is Pepsi. Others found the thought that I would even consider drinking it, absurd. And finally all the restaurants use industrial water filtration.

Town hall's response to this is that it's technically drinkable, passes all the required tests, and that most residence buy bottled water. Translated, it's not a priority to supply us with quality tap water. It's even been a motion in council NOT to upgrade the system from its current and very old specifications to something more modern. Sometimes I wounder if they're getting kickbacks from Naya and the like.
tearonthefire: (Taarna)
It's one of the worst things I tell myself and I usually tell myself it at my worst. It conjures up images of putting IV lines in, with the valves cut off, and playing Sarah McLachlan.

Sometimes I think, that at best, I'm a researcher for some non-existent ghost writer, organizing and filing mountains of information on technology, locations, cultures, and writing endless timelines and character treatments. It's like I'm working for NBC on non-broadcast pilots, nothing I do will ever be seen.

I'm actually getting worse. Between the ages of 8 and 17 I wrote a lot, almost every month I'd have something finished and hidden away in a notebook or leafed in with a pile of drawings and other assorted junk. Now I'm lucky if I get down what I need to buy at the store.

And 'now' is the time that my best ideas are coming to mind, now I think up a complete treatment in a few days. Little short stories that may take up five or ten thousand words and epics that may fill several novels. But nothing gets written down. Sometimes, when I'm lucky I write out timeslines or find/make inspirational pictures. Most of the time I read endlessly, filling my brain with the culture of ER physicians or research the most average looking faces. I know more about nothing then anyone I know.

The problem is that I existed in a very shitty childhood and adolescences, not the enema equivalent of ipecac but certainly only what the insane would call healthy. It took its toll on me and like any good clinically insane person I repeated all the same behaviours taught to me during those years expecting a different outcome.

Actually my reaction to pain or injury is probably a good comparison to my ongoing reaction to my childhood, or more likely an indicator of it; When I have a bruise or cut, I can't stop rubbing it, it may burn like hell but I just wont stop. And when I'm in excruciating pain I work harder, I will be on the verge of collapses but I just wont rest and may even start something else when I'm finished. I drive myself almost non-stop, not in or for any goal but just because. Or maybe, just because of the pain. I accomplish nothing in the process and live in the process of generating more misery for myself.

It's a reflection of my growth as a tinny bundle of reactions to a 'fully fledged sapien'. Nothing during those years ever resulted in a goal being fulfilled, arguments were never meant to resolve anything they just existed for their own sake.

Arguments are an excellent example of the futility of my learning curve as a child. I could and often would be defending myself, my position, and my beliefs, against a family member(always the adults) that never believed what they were saying to begin with but would never concede to my point even if they believe that point was inherently valid. The sentience itself doesn't make seem to make sense but neither did the life I existed in(I will not say lived in as the word sounds like I had a choice, I didn't). This, in retrospect, was the hardest things to take, even if I was right, and everyone knew I was right, no one would let me believe that I was.

Another shinning example of the decayed moral lessons of my childhood came from my aunt, actually there are a number of them but the following two seem impotent. Every single time I saw my aunt, from the earliest memory to well into my twenties, told me that my biggest problem was that my mother didn't love me or love me enough. I don't think any explanations are needed that. The other was her ongoing theft of any money, or later property, that I had. It happened quiet a few times but I remember one time vividly; I was six and about to wait in the car for her to run into the bank. She asked me if I wanted her to put my twenty dollars, a fortune at that age, in the bank for me. I said yes, not knowing how banks worked I thought she was going to set up an account or something for me. Later she denied the event and even stood beside me for an hour while a teller looked up information on whether or not I had an account. If that was the only time she did something like that, one could say she was going to hold it for me and forgot but things like that happened often and in various other ways.

Actually my aunt is probably not a good example of anything in particular, she's just a bitch of interplanetary proportions. I just felt like venting that part of my childhood. I often wish I could lead a campaign, as one would against an elected official, to prove to everyone in existence how much of a horrible person she is. It wouldn't take much, just one single televised debate. To anyone woundering what kind of person she truly is, just think of Eric Cartman from South Park.

The learning curve was most exaggerated with my grandmother. She has done and does more to retard and destroy an individuals self esteem then anything I can think of. She is certainly not above attacking someone else's faults but that's not her worst contribution. She is a true believer, to the bone true believer, in everyone's more important than you and their opinion is worth more than yours. In her world, everyone plays nice and those who don't play nice you have to be extra submissive to so that they will play nice, because their aggression is your fault. She truly believes that if their is a conflict of any kind, you are wrong and the other person is right. She is also a firm believer in, everything is too big for you so don't try.

I'm now completely emotional exhausted and completely off my original point. To get back to the similarities of the injury/pain thing, I have until very recently continued to associate with theses people and the examples I have given would be similar in amount to the weight loss of filing your nails. We are in the top, at least, three percentile of maladjustment.

My family, especially the female members, are similar to hormone driven teenage boys, in that they will never leave out an opportunity to grope you emotionally by telling you what you're doing wrong with your life and what they think you should do about it. No and stop are not fully understood by them, they are relentless in their quests to point something out or 'help' you in some way. I think it's likely that they pick at the faults within themselves they see in others, believing in some twisted way that they can spare you their misery but in reality are completely impotent to help.

As a result I've become utterly necrotic and completely self deprecating. I want to like myself and would in fact get along well with someone exactly like me. I do in fact do get along well with people like me but I'm told, most often by my mother, what others would not like. As a result I'm constantly analyzing and reanalyzing others reactions to me, looking for those signs my mother insists must be there. And when someone does react positively to me I believe it's because they don't truly know me.

I'm overwhelmed, literally drowning, in the anxiety installed in me by my family members. The people I was predisposed to trust utterly by virtue of being defenceless, repeated violated my self image and self esteem. They would, of course, like to absolve themselves of their responsibility in what they did to me by saying that I'm an adult now. But the fact is that if they cut off my arm, they would not now be any less responsible for its loss then they were when the event happened. Simply saying, “you're old enough to take care of yourself and no longer my responsibility” does not wipe away the years of childhood. Comments like these are most prevalent when a child becomes a teenager and does something destructive, like taking drugs but parents are responsible for who their children become, from those drug addicts to the murderers.

The fact that my family attempt to dissuade their own guilt or worse blame me for something I did at six only makes my pain worse. They cared so little about my well being, or cared more about their own, that they did what they did and compound the events by now blaming me for the results.

I have wanted so much to belong to this extra special club called 'being a writer', since I was eight years old but I feel like I will forever be denied entry. I felt denied every time my family questioned whether or not I wrote something, denied when drawings were confiscated at school, denied when I was told that everything I wrote before an erotic scene was only to justify pornography, and denied when I wrote down my feelings and was told I wasn't allowed to feel that way. I regularly destroyed my diaries for exactly that reason. I was even denied owning a diary, every diary book I ever used was stolen from my sister who never once used them.

Things like these spin around, just behind my conscious thoughts driving me to hate every single word I type and hate every idea that comes to mind. It's driven me to delete letters and works that I've spent hours or even days on. I have nothing from before I was 25. Every scrap of paper has been shredded and every file deleted. I spent a whole year writing a detective story on a typewriter, again stolen from my sister, that I latter socked in water and threw in the garbage.

The more I try to fight against this thing that has grown inside me, the hard it is to deal with the results.

I'm very tempted to delete this garbage like I have everything else but I've been trying to build better habits where my writing is involved. I think just deleting this would reduce the likelihood of me writing something like it again and in turn reduce the likelihood of writing anything. But I don't have the strength to edit this thing or even care to do so, it's not something I want others to read and if they choose to, I don't really care if I'm understood.

I hate my life. Marry stolen pagan holiday Torry, your Christmas present is the realization of the continuation of human misery and the perpetuation of the dysfunction of your family which you are a part of. Maybe Santa will give me some CIA grade potassium cyanide pills.
tearonthefire: (Taarna)

I have no idea what to say about this track.

It's starts off like some kind of tribute to 1950's jingle r something, then immediately falls into this deep, sad something. It feels like tavelling down some desolate highway in the middle of a snowless winter. really wish I had discovered it sooner, I'm usually so up on Gorillaz.


tearonthefire: (Taarna)

There's this website rainymood.com, I load it up every now and then just to listen to the sound of rain.

Ever since I was a child I've loved the sound of rain and of thunderstorms in particular, this website delivers a good quality looped recording of both. It also recommendations songs to listen to while the rain plays. On one day it was Bonobo's Black Sands, a musician I know pretty well but I hadn't listen to his new album yet.

The track reminds me of the music of Yann Tiersen and the Amélie soundtrack in particular. It's just plain lovely, I have no other words to describe it. It begin slowly, almost peekingly, then builds up one instrument at a time, building the feeling of an almost crowded small stage, and then ends as it had begun, with a single instrument. It gives me the feeling of a wet and empty sidewalk cafe, lost somewhere in rural France, just being revealed in the morning sun to the empty streets.

The rest of the album however is kinda hit and miss but Bonobo is that way to begin with.


tearonthefire: (Taarna)

As may be apparent in some of my posts; me likey pooters, me likey gameies too. But what may not be apparent is that I'm also somewhat of an anarchist and these three things never come together better than in a gaming console.

If you don't know what a gaming console is... then I have to ask why you're reading my blogs, no seriously, wHy? While I don't post a lot... or consistently... or even make sense, I do think I've established myself as somewhat of a techno-bitch and as such unreachable to the commoner, or maybe these days uncommoner might be more appropriate because we are inundated by technology every day.

Anyways, the gaming console I'm speaking of today is the Wii U, the idiotically names successor to the Wii and GameCube. It looks kinda like a Wii had an affair with a Game Gear, or maybe for those youngins out there a PSP. But what's important to note and what feeds me anarchism is that less than a month after its release the Wii U has been hacked.

That's rights, once again copyright protection has been left impotent to the collective might of those who think that because they own a thing, means that can rule a thing. Or something like that. Or maybe just to the collective will of all those cheap bastards who don't want to pay for games. Either way the technological evolution from locking one's door with a piece of string to a multimillion dollar digital authentication system has been reduced to it's most basic conception, a flap of rawhide draped over a hole in the side of a hill.

I somewhat sarcastically mentioned all those who didn't want to pay and while that is an important part of the whole 'remove copyright' movement it's not the most important. On my home computer and laptop about 90% of the programs I use are free or open source. You might think this is another example of not wanting to pay but you'd be wrong.

Its true value lies in its communal nature. Now that the Wii U has been hacked, 'Homebrew' games and applications can be made and improved on, by the community at large. Wonderful little games like pong can be brought back to the retro hungry masses. Or little applications like the one for the Wii that uses the balancing board as a scale. Whatever your desires, the community will create something for you and deny the efforts of big business to pigeon hole your ownership and enjoyment.

By the way if you were wondering, I'm writing the rough of this from OpenOffice. A completely free Microsoft Office type thing that looks and feels very similar to MSO at least the older versions but without the 300 dollars plus price tag, while listening to music composed by uncontracted artists who put their music out on SoundCloud, YouTube, and other such places.

Just remember, now days you don't get what you pay for and the best things in life are free.

tearonthefire: (Default)
While reading some Doctors' blogs i came across a rant about hyphenated names. I personally think it makes a lot of good points MOTHER!


Weekly Whine: Hyphenated Names

I think that parents who given their children a hyphenated last name are doing them a great injustice.

First, it's hard to put a hyphenated last name on forms. And what do you do as a kid? You spend half your time filling out forms. Even these days, when you may not be dealing with scantrons, it's still got to be a pain in the ass.

Second, think about what happens when you give your last name for an appointment or whatever. Nobody ever knows how to spell it, so you have to spell it out. Then you have to tell them there's a hyphen. Then you have to spell the second name. Think about doing that your whole life.

And if you do this to a boy, what happens when they get married? Does the wife drop her own name and taken on both her husband's parents' names? I wouldn't be thrilled about doing that. And what if she wants to hyphenate? Will she now have three names? And what if her name is hyphenated? Will her new hyphenated name now have four parts?? And what about the children? Will they each have four hyphenated names???

I think it's selfish to hyphenate. To me, it means that neither parent was willing to compromise their precious last name in order not to saddle their child with that burden. Especially when the two names sound awful together. Like I knew this guy whose last name was O'Malley-Goldstein. Seriously??

Options that I think are okay:

--Making one parent's last name the child's middle name

--Alternating which child gets which parent's last name

--Creating some new last name that's one word but somehow a fusion of both names

--Anything that doesn't involve a freaking hyphen!

And don't get me started on hyphenated first names, Mark-Paul Gosselaar.
tearonthefire: (Default)
This is an article written by Austin Cline about thanksgiving, the american version. I liked the last paragraph the most but I think the article as a whole makes a very valid statement and if you're so inclined please read it in its entirety.

For me however the following is a powerful and hopefully a thought provoking statement:

-- Gods are Irrelevant & Thanking Gods is Insulting
Sports players should thank parents, coaches, and teammates who helped them develop their skills and thus made their victories possible. Accident survivors should thank the engineers who designed vehicles to help people survive accidents. Parents of sick children should thank medical personnel who spend hours using skills developed over a lifetime.
Thanking irrelevant gods is an insult to the people responsible for what happens to us. It says that all the time, effort, blood, sweat, and tears we expend in improving ourselves and in improving the lives of those around us are ultimately wasted because the outcome will be determined by God, regardless of what we do. Whether for good or for ill, though, our fates lie in our hands.

Godless Thanksgiving: Do Atheists Have Anyone to Thank?
tearonthefire: (Default)

Despite the fact that I could not be called a serious gamer, I think I could be described as an occasional serious gamer. This would differ greatly from an ‘occasional gamer’ which I would describe as someone who would play World of Warcraft or Solitaire for a few hours every couple of days.

That’s not me. Just like the classically thought of serious gamer, I’ve played a very large variety of games and have anticipated some of their releases. I played the first Warcraft soon after it came out, I had an illegal copy of the first Starcraft’s Bata, and I’ve played all the premier shooters like Wolfenstein, Ultima Underworld, Doom, Duke Nuke’em, Quake, and more. A short list of my favourite games would include Super Mario, Tetris, Black and White, System Shock, Legend of Zelda, Metriod, Sims, SimCity, DX Ball, Descent Freespace, Get Medieval, Lemmings, SimTower, Terminal Vilocity, I could go on and on.

But the major difference between me and a real serious gamer is that if you were to average out how much I actually play in terms of hours per day, I don’t play very much. Maybe it would be in the micro seconds range.

While I really do love games, though I love watching others play them even more, I become board with them very quickly. After I’ve beaten a particular game or I’ve unlocked all of its content, I really don’t want to play it any more. There are of course exceptions to that rule and there is a handful of games I play repeated, if infrequently.

Games that are basically open ended, like Spore or WoW, I’d play until I’ve experienced all the different facets of the worlds but then soon become bored. World of Warcraft is a good example of a beautiful game that I just have no desire to play, it’s simply repetitive to me.

But that’s not the topic of my blog today. While I don’t want to play WoW I think it’s a fairly good game with lots of updated content. If someone wanted to, they could play unendingly without repeating previous goals.

What bums me out about the games being released now, is how poorly most of them compare to the older games. Think of Secret of Monkey Island and LaChuck’s Revenge or the first few Final Fantacy games. When was the last time you saw a game of their calibre? Even the later Final Fantacys don’t compare to their predecessors,

But a hint as to why the new games fall rather flat is hinted at in the programmer’s commentary for LaChuck’s Revenge. If you’ve played it you’ll remember the bouncer on the other side of the gambler’s door and his finger puzzle. The programmer’s said that the puzzle was left blank for weeks while they figure out how it would work and that today it wouldn’t have been impossible to leave it for so long because of the need to record voice talent and to maintain schedules.

Tight timelines, voice recordings, and complex graphics have all conspired to make new games lame compared to their predecessors. Black and White is a good example of this. The first B&W was an amazing and complex game with a fully adaptive AI, while the second was an amazingly gorgeous empty world. I waited weeks for it to be released and upgraded my video card to play it. I finished the game in two sixish hour sessions. It was wholly disappointing.

System Shock 2 was one of my all time favourite games, I loved SHODAN completely, her every creepy distorted belittling line was incredible. When they announced a spiritual successor to the game I was filled with anticipation but when I actually played it, I found it very disappointing. A lot of System Shocks elements were there and the plot elements seemed to be compelling but the story line itself was rather lacking and the game focused more on fighting then puzzles or item collation. It just didn’t have the same kind of spark the System Shocks had.

Those are just the glaring examples to me, or at least the ones that let me down the most, but in general I find most games just really have no soul to them. Recently I got one of those tycoon games to waste my time with. The manual was a joke, it didn’t even tell you how to build rooms or what those rooms did. There was no tutorial and the campaigns just threw you into the game. It took me a few hours to figure out how to place rooms, how much space to leave between then to allow access, and how to meet the needs of the characters. That was the only challenge and after figuring out how to actually play, it was easy to max out the available space and being receiving enormous incomes. There was no challenge at all.

I could just go on with examples but I won’t. Since gaming has moved away from being a challenging quest to more of a Hollywood movie, which is another bummer, it’s lost all of its depth. For god sakes, to appeal to new players the creators of Metriod basically rapped Samus of everything that made her great and an appealing worrier and just turned her into a thin unexceptional anime character. She was conceived to be an over six foot tall, two hundred pound muscled Amazonian, now she’s the lowest common denominator. It just sucks so much that her original look was changed to give her Barbie appeal, which is exactly what programmers are doing with their games.

To me at least, Samus has become the mascot and the victim of modern gaming trends.

tearonthefire: (Default)

As I stated in an earlier post, I found out that the security of my laptop was almost nonexistent.

While the Microsoft file encryption system is fairly strong and practically unbreakable and I would trust it, if I was walking around with a memory stick in my pocket protect by it, the windows logon security is another story all together.

As I also said in the earlier post, my complex twelve character password was cracked in seconds leaving the encrypted files as accessible as a plain text document. This of course made me wonder if I could secure my login at all. It turns out that if your password is fifteen characters or longer windows hashes it using a completely different method, stopping the kiddie script programs from cracking it. I won’t assume to bore anyone by describing the science behind it but sufficed to say that the difference between a fourteen character and a fifteen character password is the same as a four digit bicycle chain lock and a key operated bolt lock.

During my research however I looked into third party encryption systems a little more closely then I had in the past and found TrueCrypt. I was aware of TrueCrypt for quite a while but all that I really knew about it was that it was a drive encryption system, which is what it essentially is. The part I didn’t know was how truly secure the program was. It uses the most basic and freely published encryption algorithms to write and read encrypted information. Its simplicity, I think, gives it its strength. Some other programs need to be installed on you computer to run and while TrueCrypt does need a resident executable to read/write the secure information, it’s a small unassuming program that saves nothing but the cipher to the disk. In short the only thing to touch your hard drive is the encrypted information itself.

It does have some drawbacks, like the inability to encrypt individual files but it can create a file container which is mounted as a virtual drive, allowing one to avoiding the need to partition or encrypt an entire drive.

But all in all it is the solution I’ve been looking for. It has the simple ability to stop a person who has found my laptop at a restaurant, or some other place, from reading all my personal information, like e-mails and credit card numbers. And of course prevent moronic co-workers from play with my sensitive files.

While I’m very happy with the results from TrueCrypt, I continue to be disappointed with Microsoft. My laptop was shipped with Windows 7 Starter and I downgraded, with some extreme annoyance, to XP so that I could continue to use the encryption function. Now with that problem solved I contemplated moving to win 7, which won’t be happening in the near future.

Windows 7 Starter is the crappiest operating system I have ever seen and it shouldn’t be. The Win 7 install itself is capable of all the built in functions of all version but disables certain functions depending on your cdkey. One of the functions Microsoft decided was too expensive for low price laptops was being able to change your background picture, window colour, and every other appearance related configuration that was user definable since at least windows 3.0.

All this is is a gimmick of course to make you pay for a higher version of the operation system. Gone are the days of buying a PC, although PCs rather then laptops come with a slightly better version, with a fully functioning OS already installed and ready to go. Microsoft has officially reviled themselves to be the jerks of the software world. I want to use stronger word to describe these greedy people but I’m trying to restrain myself.

Why would ANYONE disable the ability to customize the look of their operating system? I know of no other OS that does this or have ever done it. It’s sick. Disgusting. And a ploy for money.

There is also no reason for Windows and it’s versions to be so expensive, it’s not like Microsoft is drowning in competition and needs massive amounts of R&D to keep up. Just look at Vista, it’s full of problems, so was XP before the second service pack, but massive numbers of computer users still bought them.

I just don’t know what to say. It’s sad. Stress inducing. And I understand why so many users steal Windows and why overrides for the version and activation restrictions to both Win 7 and Vista were released before the operating system was.

If they just treated their customers with more respect and charged them a fairer price people wouldn’t hate and bash them so much.

tearonthefire: (Default)

I’m finding myself a little bummed by Microsoft Windows again, although I’m not sure why I expected it to live up to expectations.

It started a few weeks ago when I went to reinstall my laptop. Because I carry the thing everywhere with me, I set it up to encrypt all my important files using the built in windows encryption system. The encryption itself is supposed to be very secure and the data itself might be extremely hard to hack but what happened during the install and my subsequent curiosity has left me with no confidence in my information’s security.

When I finished setting up the laptop I went to transfer my information back onto the drive but first I accidentally encrypted a directory before importing the original certificate causing windows to generate a new one. I immediately deleted the folder and the new certificate before importing the old one. Everything seemed to work and I transferred all my data from my flash drive to the laptop without any problems. I worked for a while updating my files and was convinced everything was fine. I rebooted and went to check on everything again.

Windows immediately belched out an unable to read error. What had happened was, while Windows was coping the data over it re-encrypted the original data files with the new certificate even though it had been deleted from the manager. What I was left with was a flash drive and laptop filled with unreadable precious irreplaceable data.

As one could assume I was hysterical but I worked for hours not giving up on trying to rescue the data. I will say that I might have came close to loosing all of it but if I had known ahead of time what to look for I would have been able to retrieve it all in a matter of minutes. I eventually downloaded a program called Advanced EFS Data Recovery. It’s a great program and if you need to find a lost encryption certificate download the trail version to make sure your data is retrievable. If it tells you it can decrypt it, which is verifiable by decrypting small files, buy it and save your stuff. It’s a little bit expensive but how much is your manuscript worth to you. Saving the data on your own may be possible but I know what I’m doing, at least some what, and after four hours of searching the drive and replacing keys I couldn’t do it. The program took 12 minutes. That’s it.

I suppose if the key had been completely overwritten I might have lost everything but enough of it had survived to be reassembled. Some experts might say that the program just predicted the key based on other generated data stored in windows, it didn’t. That was one of the first methods I tried and failed at. I might have found a way to decrypt the data without a key given enough time but it’s also possible that it would have taken too long and required too many resources to be feasible. It’s also possible that the data may have been irretrievable but my work was saved and I was happy.

The situation got me thinking though, if my encrypted data was saved with complete ease, which everyone said was impossible and to kiss my files goodbye, how hard would it be to get into windows and completely circumventing the whole point to encryption.

Just as easy. Again a program, but this time free, was able to get my user passwords. All I did was download a CD image, burn it to a disk, and reboot. It took longer for the program to load then it took for my password to be found. It found my user pass in less then 2 minutes, I was completely shocked, my pass was 12 characters long with capitals and numbers in it. It even got my network password, an any typeable character completely random 10 character pass. It wasn’t able to get the administrator pass and I’m not sure why but I think it could have got it with an upgraded hash table, I was only using the quick table at the time.

In short I had no security at all. I had even downgraded from windows 7 to windows xp on the laptop so I could keep my encryption system but I never had any security to begin with. Someone would have to be an idiot not to be able to Google the required information and hack someone’s password. It might be possible to have complete security with a very long and complicated password, which I wouldn’t do because what’s the point of having to enter 20 characters every time you boot, or an SD card with a login crypto on it, which might be left in the damn slot for someone to use. Even if the SD card idea reminded you to remove it after each boot, if it got left behind somewhere your Windows would be completely locked until you picked the card back up from wherever you left it.

I know the SD card lock exists, along with fingerprint scanners and facial recognition but it’s all converted to numbers and stored using the Windows hash encryption system, which as you can see is far more exploitable than I once thought. I believed at one time that the hashing was still long enough and complicated enough that it would take far too much time to be hacked on the average PC but 2 god damn minutes for a fairly strong password and a very strong password.

It’s sick really. Anyone, including my not to smart grandmother could Google something simple like ‘find windows password’, stumble upon either the website itself or a forum talking about it, burn it, select automatic, and get anyone’s password. It makes any security in Widows whatsoever a mutt point. If you forget your laptop at work or on the bus your credit card numbers, passwords, anything are in the hands of some shmuck.

I need to come up with some other way of securing my data files.

tearonthefire: (Default)

It seems that a story I’ve been imagining for the past few days has been allocated the title “the story I may never write” and I think it’s an appropriate one. While I spent almost an entire day doing nothing but allowing the story to play out in my head and then a few more days researching elements that were needed to add depth to it, it may never see the light of an LCD screen.

In the past I’ve done in depth research for stories and spent enormous amounts of time thinking about them but thus far none them have materialised. I started my Tech series in 94 and accumulated endless amount of information for it but I’ve done almost nothing with that information.

Sometimes I think it would just be better if I bundled up all the ideas, character treatments, plot elements, research papers, and design jpgs and send them all to other authors to write and admit to myself that while I have a deep imagination I can never truly share it with others.

tearonthefire: (Default)
I just noticed when I viewed the last post I made that facebook was nice enough to feather clutter my home page by adding all the groups associated with my interests, activities, games, and so forth. Now I have posts from Starcraft and Annie Lennox and Gay Rights, and, and, and, and. Thanks facebook!
tearonthefire: (Default)

I really must say that I hate facebook, while I do understand that it was intended to be as simple and as quick to use as possible, with a limited number of features to avoid complications, the lack of something as simple as the ability to editing old posts is beyond annoying. One must choose between reposting and deleting an old message, living with spelling and grammatical errors, or deleting a post all together. I think facebook must evolve beyond what it is now or it must simply accept a decline in usage.

LiveJournal is a comparable social vehicle to facebook that has offered the most basic editing features since nearly its inception and has remained usable without the addition of the applets facebook has introduced. I find LiveJournal to be exactly what its name suggests, an online journal which is as easy to use as Microsoft Word.

Facebook on the other hand is nothing more then what its rival twitter is, an online text messaging service. Facebook has attempted to differ from its competition by offering applets, something that palm tried years ago with just as much success, and a noisy homepage with useless un-editable buttons and a constant barrage of ‘do you know this person’.

Unfortunate fabebook has enjoyed a larger growth rate then LiveJournal, mostly do to its constant advertisement of itself and it being mentioned on TV programs and the news, similar to how twitter has grown. LiveJournal on the other hand has never inserted itself at the bottom of a web page with the message ‘follow us on’ or insisted on send messages to e-mail contact lists saying ‘you friend invites you to facebook blah blah blah’, it has always just been. The result unfortunately is that most of the people one knows has a facebook account and not LiveJournal one. A shame in my opinion.

P.S. I know timeline is coming and I also know it might be a complete disaster I’m just not going to comment on it at this time.

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