First real 5k achieved

This weekend on my own I jogged 5 kilometers in less then 32 minutes. This is a milestone since I have only seriously being focusing on running since memorial day.  Did a 5k in April and this was not fully run, next one is in September.

The focus was health and weight loss (22 pounds in three months), but I struggle to remind myself that it is not so much about weight and do this by focusing on strength and stamina by improved distance or speed.

There are certainly other things that aren’t going as well in life as my running, but this is more then likely me just being too hard on myself and being able to nitpick entirely too accurately on all faults. So while life is not perfect it is time to celebrate the fact that without any prompting and only self motivation what I thought was going to be a struggle is now an achieved milestone.  Celebrate the victory when ever you can.

Armada by Ernest Cline

The followup of the seminal Ready Player One is the next book from Ernest Cline. Echoing the vibes of “The Last Starfighter”, but with much less aliens.

Shockingly the book is much shorter and less geek chic as Ready Player One was. Some of this feels like it is trying to keep the pace moving to avoid too much though into the plot to avoid spoilers on the finale. The universe is left open for a follow up, but the story is complete in itself.

It just needed more fleshing out such as in the realm of science or the 1980’s era call backs to feel like a spiritual sequel to Ready Player One, but instead feels like an average follow up attempt. Heck even varying the perspective and using some of the other characters could have added to the length and been a departure from formula that adds depth to the story.

It was average and not nearly as moving as Ready Player One, but it was an enjoyable read.

3 out of 5.

Everquest 2: Time-Locked Expansion

2004 was an odd confluence of games for the Massive Multiplayer Online Game user. In the fall of 2004 I was actively playing Everquest after having retired and returning. Found a new guild who was excited about Everquest 2 and it had my attention more so then the other game on the radar World of Warcraft. I also had my older game friends who I did fun stuff with 1-2 times a week.

At the release of Everquest 2 I was splitting time between Everquest and Everquest 2. I played enough to get a late 20’s or early 30’s Inquisitor and then the grind wore on me and some of the early game bugs detracted from my enjoyment.

Shortly after the release of World of Warcraft I picked that up and the great server migration games of login queues.

Long story short I dabbled in both games and by the same time the next year I was back into the Everquest max level raiding pretty hardcore.

It was not until the impending release of Wrath of the Lich King that I actually got hooked into World of Warcraft and the raiding scene that lasted until Cataclysm and the release of Dragon Soul when my work required me to move cross country and give up guild and raid leadership.

Variously through the years I have tried to play Everquest 2 and gotten a high level of 35, but never really felt the hook because it was so lonely in the leveling zones. I was also confused on what released when and how the game progressed.

I heard of the original Everquest Ragefire server which was classic Everquest server. There was entirely too much rose colored glasses for me to seriously consider going back and trying to pick this up.

While I had not heard much about it I learned after the fact that they did a similar server set on Everquest 2 where each expansion is released based on a vote by the player base.  I enabled my subscription to access the progression server and I am honestly surprised how much the game is interesting me. The game feels new to  me and I do not feel overwhelmed by the game content because it is released over time. There are tons of players and interest on the single server. Some of the original annoyances are removed in favor of player convenience.

Longevity might be an issue, but right now it is fun and really giving me the Evercrack feelings. There is challenge and actual fun to the gameplay. Taking my time through it all and enjoying the quests and content.

 

Planned Parenthood

With the litany of undercover videos coming out about Planned Parenthood I think I will discuss my philosophy on Abortion in general and the specifics of the discussion of fetal remains for research.

I think that at the moment of conception you have a unique genetic code of an individual. That genetic combination could potentially be the next Einstein or the next Hitler, but honestly I think the larger defining factor will be the nurturing of the child and their life experiences. That is where Life begins and an abortion could result in that unique genetic code ever being reached again.

Additionally I think that abortion should be avoided as much as possible through responsible family planning. So while I would advise against abortion as much as possible I recognize that is my personal opinion and that only goes as far as my own body.

A pregnant woman has different priorities and rights and could reach different decisions or philosophies. While I vehemently oppose the Roe v. Wade for how it was accomplished by creating rights out of thin air instead of the constitution the actual outcome of abortion being legal I can actually support. I believe that the decision is one that needs to be reached between the family and their doctor. If there was a severe situation such as rape, incest, or life threatening conditions. Each family might have a different outcome and some mothers might value the life of their child over their own and others feel the opposite.

So each family needs to find the medical practitioner that offers the choices they want to have available to them. However that medical practitioner should not have a financial benefit to influence your decisions where that decision could end in a life.

Planned Parenthood has certainly failed to avoid the perceived conflict of interest in the situation of Abortion. Despite a law making it illegal to profit from the remains of abortions they were so inept that they cannot properly document their fetal remains and accounting for the “refunding” of transporting the remains to researchers. The lack of competence convinces me that Planned Parenthood is unable to effectively implement a “Chinese Wall” to separate the medical advise to the patients with those who perform the abortions. Even if a such a separation existed if the individuals performing the abortion change their procedure at the risk of the patient in order to harvest viable organs from the fetal remains.

The conflict of interest is so compelling I can support the efforts to suspend funding to Planned Parenthood (temporarily) until they can be investigated. If the evidence proves they are illegally violating federal law then I would transition that support to permanently remove federal funding of Planned Parenthood. Though if that occurs I would support transitioning the funding they are receiving to other institutions that can follow the laws as written.

Conversely if the evidence shows there was not criminal action funding for non abortion activities could be restored if proper oversight keeps them separate. If Planned Parenthood actually commits to reforms to resolve this perception then with the proper oversight I could even see the funding restored, but their current public relations campaigns make this seem very unlikely.

 

Sunset Overdrive

Finally came back to Sunset Overdrive and knocked this one off of the backlog list. This game is an Insomniac game (makers of Ratchet and Clank) and it tells from the plethora of guns you can use, the amps you can customize your combat with, and overdrives that give you gimmicks to use.

The game is a movement platform/gunner where it is more about flow and keeping moving instead of a cover shooter. The game specifically says “If you are looking for the sprint button, its called grinding”.  Guns range from a Record Skeet Shooter, a TNT Teddy Bear launcher, “The Dude” a bowling ball thrower.

The best part of this game is the humor and the endless snark. It is light hearted with geek references as well as punk/rock influences. The costume customization is comical when you start making some horrid combinations.

The snark is strong with this game. Simply put if you like the sarcasm of a show like Dead Like Me you will love the humor of this game.

Completed 8/1/15

King’s Quest: A Knight to Remember 1

The revival of the glorious Sierra days of point and click adventures of the games of my past.

It certainly has the puns, the feel, and the vibe of King’s Quest games. The art is very beautiful with gorgeous painted back drops and a water colored feel that is reminiscent of the recent Tell Tale episodic games (Wolf among us, Walking Dead, etc). I am honestly surprised that this game was created using Unreal engine because it pulls off a look that is nothing like what I mentally think of unreal engine games.

The voice acting is excellent and the adventure feels good for a first episode of a 5 episode adventure. I am unsure if it has the TellTale typical choices events, but at least it does not have the typical anything that bad that can happen will happen as well as it is a happier game.

The puzzles and gameplay though I would honestly describe as too easy. The old King’s Quests were hard until you figured them out, but these felt largely simple. There was wandering around to figure out my options for sure, but putting them together was too simple. I blame that on the newer game environment we are in and easy being to common.  However I will admit that since this is an episodic game there is a chance for them to scale up in difficulty and I will wait for that opportunity.  While there are a few pieces of inventory that will hold over to the next episode, the episodic nature feels so much shorter.

Probably the biggest complaint about the game is that there simply was not enough comical deaths as you flail around trying to combine the various items and puzzles. The King’s Quests of old were comical with their myriad ways to die horribly in new and unexpected manners. I died a few times, but it was immediately obvious how to correct that. The nostalgia in me honestly wished the difficulty resulted in more gory deaths.

Episode 1: Completed 8/1/15

4 out of 5