Saturday, November 30, 2013

Mesopotamia Meets Skyrim

Hi, Chris here. After Benjamin's spiel about history yesterday, I thought I should repair some of his high-minded damage and show that ancient Mesopotamia is interesting even if you don't like all the archaeological things he was talking about. So therefore, having just bought The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim in the Autumn Steam Sale, I will attempt to transcribe here my Dovakhiin's exploits in epic Sumerian fashion.

Of Cadoc I will say two things;
Of the son of Odo I will say three.
His arm is like a strong wall;
His flank like the wall of a mighty fortress;
His eyes are like those of the eagle.
Who surpasses him in strength?
Who surpasses Cadoc in strength of arms?

The men of Cyrodiil captured him;
The soldiers of Cyrodiil bound him fast.
He opened his mouth and said "Who is it that captures me?"
"Who is it that binds my hands with many ropes?"
"Who is it that takes me to the place of execution?"
Verily they placed his head upon the block;
Verily the soldiers of Cyrodiil placed his neck upon the cutting place.
Cadoc bared his neck for the axe, for who will not call him brave?
Who will say to him "I am your better?"
Cadoc extended his neck, and made peace with his gods.

I've just realized that it's taken me two stanzas to get partway through a simplified version of the first five-minute cutscene. I'll stop here, but I have to say that everything does seem to sound more epic when repeated two or three times. Or is that just me?

Humanity in Ancient Ur

Hi, Benjamin here. Thanks to my Middle Eastern History class,  I've been reading through archaeological accounts of Ur, a great city in ancient Mesopotamia. I expected a dull read, but was surprised by the accessibility of what I found. I've paraphrased the most interesting bit:
When kings or queens died in ancient Ur, they would be buried along with a couple dozen of their court, attendants to help them in the next life. Whether this was a voluntary act is a bit unclear, but the sacrifice of the courtiers was most likely not violent, in any case. In one tomb, almost all the female attendants had gold or silver ribbons in their hair, but one was found with a coil of silver ribbon still in the folds of her decayed robes. It seems that this particular woman was late to the death ceremony, possibly hurrying off in the morning without taking the time to put the ribbon in her hair. She ended up never getting around to it.
History can often be boring or distant, but it's things like these that keep me engaged. Not the macabre human sacrifice, but the realization that people in ancient Mesopotamia were also human. They made mistakes and had feelings just like us.
I'm not going to convince everyone to enjoy history lessons, but I hope that we can begin to consider the past not as a list of dates and names, but as a series of people with pride, hatred, curiosity, greed, and everything else that comes with being human.
As an aside, my history courses have seared on my mind the ultimate evil of quoting or even mentioning a source without having a bibliography, so here you go:
Woolley, Leonard. Ur of the Chaldees. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1952.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Screenshot of the Day: Garry's Mod

Yes, that is Dr. Kliener balancing in a bathtub, holding balloons and a car while surrounded by zombies.
If there's one thing I know about this 'game', it's that I'm not using it to it's full potential. Garry's mod is a sandbox of Half-Life 2, Team Fortress 2, and Counter-strike assets that can be used for making mods, videos, or pretty much anything you want. My favorite activity is seeing how many helium balloons it takes to lift an airboat full of subdued antlions, but I guess that shows how cultured I am.

Airplane Drinks

Hey, Benjamin here. I'm slightly dazed from a day of travel, but Chris can't think of anything useful right now, which leaves the daily post to me. Let's just get straight down to it. Here's why I always drink tomato juice when I'm on an airplane:
Water is too plain. Sure, you can ask for a cup of water and a cup of something else, but getting just water by itself is like going to a fancy restaurant and only eating the little crackers that come with the soup.
Orange juice can be too sour and rough on the throat. This varies from airline to airline, but is it really worth risking your laryngeal, pharyngeal, glottal, and tracheal comfort for a breakfast drink? (Confession time, I just googled 'throat adjective') That little cart of refreshment isn't going to come by again for another half hour at least.
Apple juice is a safe bet, but if you're taking an overnight flight and go to sleep after imbibing the juices of the apple, you may wake up with a sour or bitter taste in your mouth. I do, at least.
Coca-cola used to be my fall-back option on planes, as it was one drink they were sure to have, but it is in the same class as apple juice- prepare to wake up with gritty teeth.
I don't get alcohol because I'm underage, in some places at least. More importantly, I wouldn't know what to ask for. This terrifying conversation has played out in my mind too many times:
Me: I would like some wine.
Flight Attendant: What kind of wine?
Me: Uh... wine. I would like some wine.
Flight Attendant: I'm sorry, I didn't catch that.
Me: Wine?
Flight Attendant: You don't have any sense of culture, do you? Here, here's some milk in a sippy cup. I'll bring a coloring book if you're extra good.
Because of all this and more, I ask for tomato juice. It's definitely not something I get every day, so it makes flying more special. Sometimes you get salt and pepper or hot sauce in your juice, and you can feel classy stirring your drink and staring out the window. And slightly less classy as you start to eat the ice cubes, one by one. Or is that just me?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Screenshot of the Day: Cave Story

Four wasps and one insignificant sprite with a pea-shooter.
Today I went on a brief foray into difficult-2D-platformer-land and was reminded why I don't play these games. Cave story isn't exactly unforgiving, but it's no Mahatma Gandhi either. Great precision and timing is required to jump from platform to platform while shooting at enemies, and while this may be perfect for some, it isn't exactly my cup of tea. The music is quite good, though, so after a while I just gave up and sat at the menu screen with the volume turned up.

Exit Part 4

Exit sighed and picked up his bucket as Captain Loophole scrambled back up the ladder to the steering platform. Captain Loophole’s ship, Knotleaguer, was not the biggest or best, but it did have almost nothing special about it. It had been built in the year 2201 using the most modern of techniques, and was made not of wood, but of a synthetic compound that looked, smelled, and felt exactly like wood, and had the exact same structure down to the atomic level. Captain Loophole had paid extra for creak. The sails were likewise on the cutting edge of technology, one of many products produced after the invention of cotton cloth, a monumental discovery that had taken place in the midst of a series of strange disappearances and murders of museum curators. Captain Loophole was always one to try things that had never been tried before, so it was with pride that he sailed Knotleaguer in what once were the seven seas, but became the nine seas for indistinct cartographical reasons. Every day wasn’t filled with adventure, but there were some that weren’t.
            Tim and Exit scrubbed the deck as they did every day. It was a monotonous task made more interesting by the oddities of the wood. Exit was fascinated by the swirls and spots painstakingly formed on the synthetic planks. He called over to Tim. “There’s a splotch here that looks like South America.”
            Tim set his bucket down and sidled over to examine the mark. “It looks a bit like a splotch on a bit of wood.”
            Exit hadn’t considered that before. “Yeah… a lot like it…”
            “Spitting image, almost.”
            “Excepting that wood doesn’t spit.”
            “Doesn’t have to, the image is doing that already.”
            “Hold on a moment, that is a splotch on a bit of wood. Something can’t just look like itself!”
            “How’s that?”
            “You’ve seen the catalogs, Tim. You even bought that pair of trousers.”
            “Now when you put it like that…” Tim broke off, gazing out across the water. “What’s that in the distance?”
            “Looks like… um…”
            Tim’s eyes lit up. “Looks like a splotch on a bit of wood.”
            Exit nodded. “There you go. Hit it on the spot.”

            “That’s South America, fellows!” yelled Captain Loophole. “We’re landing in Buenos Aires before sundown!” The ship creaked and rocked as he fiddled with the wheel. “LAND HOOOO!” Tim upended his bucket on his head out of excitement. Buenos Aires was known best for one thing: being the capital of Argentina.

Monday, November 25, 2013

New Background

Hey, Chris here. I just finished putting together a new background and color scheme for the blog. I'm still new to how these things work, so let me know with a comment if the background is all one color or messed up in some way on your computer or browser. Just to make this post more worth reading, I'll add a joke.

What do DotA players call the wall around a retirement home? The fence of the ancients.

That was a pune, or play on words.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Commuter Shuttle of Contemplation

Hey, Benjamin here. As I ate my supper of cereal and pizza today, I began on a journey of thought that took me far, but ultimately nowhere. It went a little bit like this:

Hmn, here at college we have ID numbers just like people in concentration camps.
Actually, names are just like ID numbers using letters instead of numbers.
My cereal is getting soggy, but at the same time my pizza is getting cold. What do I eat first?
Names have meanings, though. Wait, it’s like that gestalt thing we learned in Psychology, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Also, if I alternate between eating a few bites of pizza and a few spoons of cereal, I’ll get the best of both worlds.
Alright, when someone calls my name, there is the energy of sound, but the call is more than mere noise. There’s a unit of meaning.
In fact, I can hold a cereal spoon in one hand and a piece of pizza in the other hand, thus eliminating the time gap produced by sustenance substitution.
Meaning can be both created and destroyed, so it can’t be either matter or energy. Maybe when a tree falls and there’s no one to hear it, there is sound, but not the sound of a tree falling, because there’s nobody to give the sound that meaning.

That’s right. Conundrum solved. I’m still not sure about that thing about trees falling in a forest, though…

Screenshot of the Day: Plants vs Zombies

All I can say is that I placed my squash too soon.
Plants vs Zombies is a sort of tower defense game. Most of the game involves cultivating a garden aggressive enough to defeat waves of assorted zombies. It's casual enough to play while carrying on a conversation, and if you have ten minutes to kill, it's better than waiting for Torchlight to boot up. Completing the Plants vs Zombies adventure mode is almost worth it just to see the music video at the credits. Or you can watch it here. It's worth a gander.

Edit: After watching the music video again, I take back everything I said about it being worth a gander.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Exit Part 3

"Wake up, Exit! This ship won't clean itself!"
            Exit groaned and rolled out of his bunk and peered around for the source of the wakeup call. Tim, who slept on the bunk above, was already dressed and standing by the door to the four-man cabin they shared with two other ship cleaners. Exit rubbed his eyes. "I just had a dream that I was in a coma."
            "That's just called sleeping, isn't it?"
            "Well, there was swing dancing involved... I think." Exit stood up and walked over to the dresser.
            "Now when you put it like that..." said Tim.
            "Something about a fish," mumble Exit as he pulled on his shirt.
            A few moments later, Tim and Exit emerged on deck, blinking in the sunlight. Captain Loophole was striding heavily to and fro across the creaking wooden steering platform, sails snapping in the wind above him. It was a while before he noticed Tim and Exit standing next to the mast, looking up at him. “What do you think you’re doing?”
            “Waiting to receive cleaning materials, sir,” said Exit, who considered saluting, but didn’t.
            Captain Loophole took off his tricorn hat and ran his fingers through his hair. “Ah yes! Where did I put those… ah yes.” He climbed down from the steering platform and seized two buckets. “Now watch carefully.” Captain Loophole took a few steps forward, holding up the buckets. “The buckets have now covered half the distance in their journey towards you.” He took another step forward. “They have now covered half the remaining distance.” Another, smaller step. “Half of the remaining half distance.” A small shuffle. “Another half.”
            Tim looked apprehensive. Captain Loophole was almost touching noses with him at this point, buckets still held high above his head. Captain Loophole turned to face Exit, then looked back at Tim again. “If I keep covering a half distance each time, what does this mean?”
            Exit had never studied Calculus, and neither had Tim, so there was an awkward silence before Tim mumbled “we never get the buckets and we don’t have to clean?”

            Captain Loophole shrieked with laughter as he flung the buckets down at their feet, sloshing water onto the deck. “No! It means one! Either that or you don’t exist! Now get to work! Hoo hoo!”

Simple Chili

I've just come to the end of a perspective-questioning day, thanks to my Biology class, and here comes the inevitable chili recipe (for what is the essential difference between man and chili?) I discovered that neither Benjamin nor Chris like cooking, so I'll be doing this post myself. To make a simple chili:
Combine in Saucepan:
- 1 can beans
- 1 cup ground beef
- 1 medium onion
- 1 medium tomato
- What makes an onion medium except the size of its peers? Does this mean that the Chemistry test I took on Thursday should be curved?
Set the saucepan to cook over 'medium' heat.
Add spices. My 14-year-old self recommended:
- 1 clove garlic
- 3 spoons taco seasoning
- 2 spoons curry powder
- 1 spoon ketchup
- 1 spoon mustard
- 1 spoon salt
- Oregano, basil, cinnamon, and parsley to taste
- The culinary decisions of 14-year-self.
- That 14-year-old self did not specify whether to use teaspoons or tablespoons.
Stir ingredients and cook until 'done'. During this time, realize key differences between humanity and chili (eg. sentience, ability to love and be loved). Remove chili from heat and consume. Consider that curving test grades can lead to unhealthy competition between students. There's nothing like a simple chili to bring you back to reality.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Niche Jokes With Benjamin

Only take out a crossword puzzle if it would be socially acceptable to be using your phone in the same situation.

What did the ribosome say to the intron? tl;dr

My "unlimited" meal plan.

Screenshot of the Day: Team Fortress 2

My engineer's creations in Team Fortress 2. The ice statue is also me.
TF2 is an online FPS revolving around class-based combat. Of the nine classes, I've spent more than eight hours as a sniper and around one hour as each of the others. Recently, however, my mouse's right button stopped working, and not being able to use the right-click activated scope severely impeded my effectiveness. Finding another class to play after this has been an interesting experience- after skulking in shadows and for hours as a sniper, playing a soldier and bounding straight into combat felt very liberating.
Lately, I've been an engineer, supporting my team with dispensers, teleporters, and turrets. An engineer has to hang back and protect his buildings from enemy spies, so rather than the sniper perspective, always looking for a clear shot, or the soldier's experience, running around in the thick of things, I watch my teammates sprint by me into battle as I upgrade my turret. I hear explosions around the corner as my teammates sprint back just as quickly, often on fire. Every friend I heal, extinguish, or teleport has places to go and people to decapitate, but for a brief moment, there's a human connection. Either that, or I'm staying up too late. So long for now,

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Exit Part 2

"We'll need you to sign here, Mrs. Exit's Mother."
            "I won't sign to pull the plug on my son's life support!"
            "I'm sorry, but there's no other option. You're bankrupt."
            "What about health insurance? We've been paying health insurance for ages!"
            "I'm sorry, Exit's insurance is voided by cause of him being injured." Exit opened his eyes as light flooded his vision again.
            "He's awake!" screeched his mother.
            "He's awake!" squealed the nurse.
            An old man on crutches poked his head in the door of Exit's hospital room. "He's awake!"
            "What happened?" asked Exit groggily.
            The old man spoke up. "Well, I used to go swing dancing when I was younger..."
            Exit's mother interuppted. "Not to you, to him, Frank! You were taking Melanie out on a date..."
            "Well, there's this one dance venue, lovely little place," the old man continued.
            "And you went to supper and had asparagus for the first time," said Exit's mother, glancing at the old man.
            "'The Fabulous', I think it was called."
            "It turns out you're allergic."
            "Either to swing dancing or to asparagus, but I was always nimble on my feet, you see..."
            "And when you were driving Melanie home..."
            "Who's Melanie? Anyways, nimble, but I had a nasty fall, you see."
            "And there was an accident."
            "I'll say."
            "You were in a coma. You're lucky to be alive."
            "So am I."

            Exit was still confused. "What happened to Melanie?" Exit's mother looked uncomfortable as she took a matchbox off the bedside table and placed it in Exit's hands. As he began to open the box, the room began to shake and the world dissolved again.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Exit Part 1

Exit was not actually always not an extraordinary boy. He had been not extraordinary Exit in the future, but was ordinarily not extraordinary Exit now. He was lying on his bedroll when an horn sounded. It was a while before Exit realized what it meant, that is to say, an. He was in the past, but that was impossible, so he was in the present in the past.
            With this realization, Exit sat up in his bed, which was a roll. He was lying, but actually now sitting in a field. Exit suddenly realized what a great opportunity he had. "Two plus two is fo-, I mean three," he said. Now he was lying while sitting in a field. Exit lay down again. "Two plus two is three." He was lying while lying, and... he looked around but there were no soap-making materials, so he sat up again.
            Exit was wondering what to do next when two men with pikes jogged up to him. "What are you doing here?" one asked.
            "I was doing maths..."
            "Don't you realize that Gustav and the Swedes are invading?"
            Exit had not realized it. "So you're here to defend Germany, than? I mean, then?"
            The second man sighed. "No, it's halfway through the thirty year's war and we've lost our taste for battle." He rested his pike on his shoulder as the first man spoke up again.
            "Yeah, we're just trying to sell these fish. Fresh caught, only three marks." He held out his pike for Exit to inspect.
            "There's not much meat on these," said Exit.
            "Course not, what're you supposed to eat on Fridays?"
            "People'd have our hides if we sold fish with meat."
            "Nine out of eight doctors recommend..." Suddenly, the world filled with light and went dark again. Exit began to hear new voices.

Introductions with Benjamin

Hello, my name is Benjamin and I'm a college student in Atlanta, Georgia. I'm studying biology, and I hope to be a teacher one day. I spend most of my time doing homework or working on projects, but I always enjoy a good book or movie when I have the time. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, especially if bacon is involved. I like to take walks, usually by myself, and think of the deeper things in life. I enjoy thinking about things in ways many people wouldn't consider. Recently, I've been working on the story of a boy called Exit, and I'll be posting parts of it from time to time. Hope you enjoy,

Meet and Greet with Chris

Hi, I'm Chris, a college student in Atlanta, Georgia. I'm probably going to major in biology, but in my free time, I'm a video game enthusiast and journalist. I stay up late and wake up late, and it's been weeks since I've had a real breakfast, actually. My room is pretty messy, but I don't mind as long as I can find my shoes. I like to relax, maybe kick back and drink coke while I watch YouTube videos. I spend a lot of time on the computer, but I'm always ready to go out and spend some time with my friends. I'll be posting screenshots and links to reviews of games I've been playing. Hope you enjoy,

Let's Get Started

Hi, I'm Micah Dettweiler, a college student in Atlanta, Georgia with a lot to think about. I'll be writing here what I'm thinking in the now, sometimes things I may look back on in the future and shake my head in shame. Because of this, I'll be placing all responsibility on two brave personalities: Benjamin and Chris. Spoiler alert: they're both me. I've probably let on too much already. Let it never be said, though, that Micah posted anything more controversial than a chile con carne recipe.