October Video Games Report

Civilization VI (9 hrs)

The latest iteration of this series I’ve been playing for the past 25 years was released and the changes have made the game more dynamic and, for the first time in the series, have really made it so that I can’t just do the same thing every game because of how much the terrain makes a difference. It’s been neat and with the reduced gameplay over the past two months, it’s displaced all over games.
Civilization III  (15 minutes)

Another little entry in my attempt to play the Chinese in all Civs from III to VI.

Civilization V (15 minutes)

We continue with our multiplayer games.

FTL (15 minutes)

I played a little to test the Steam controller. Having some issues rendering that video, but hopefully I can get it out soon.

The 2016 Visit to the Pumpkin Patch

Every year since Scarlett was born we’re been going to Clark’s Eliok Farm to get a pumpkin to decorate the house (and in later years for Scarlett to carve). This time was the first year for Sam and Stella. Overall they did extraordinarily well for 11 month olds who’d never been to a pumpkin patch before. Only Stella cried and that was only after it had gone on for a while.

Scarlett and the Pink Dress

When I went to do the 10 Month Photos for the Twins, Scarlett really wanted to participate. She helped me with the color picker and white balance. Then, afterwards, she wanted to do these veil photos. My favorite thing is that I didn’t tell her to do ANY of this. This is what she wanted to do and I just photographed. I enjoy her creativity.

10 Month Photos

Thanks to having Scarlett be the first photo with a color checker that has a white balance section, I was able to get the lighting and white balance perfect in that photo and then copy those settings to the other photos. After that, just a few tweaks to get each photo perfect. Allowed me to make the most of my limited time. Enjoy the photos!

Andy Zaltzman in DC

I discovered The Bugle from an AV Club post about podcasts. It was a very British approach to satirizing the news. At the time it was hosted by Jon Oliver and Andy Zaltzman. Then Oliver hit it big with Last Week Tonight and didn’t have time to participate in The Bugle anymore. While Andy Zaltzman was trying to figure out how he was going to relaunch the show, he played clips from his standup show Satirize This. People email him things they want satirized and he does it. I grew to really, really enjoy it and so when I heard he was actually coming to America, I knew I had to jump on the opportunity to see him live.

Here are some bootleg recordings I did there so you can get a feel for what a show’s like:

 

At the end I was able to get a photo with him. That’s always fun for the memories.

andy-zaltzman-2016-09-24t223845-016

The Most Howard County Election Thing Ever

Defaced Trump sign and "Choose Civility" sticker
Defaced Trump sign and “Choose Civility” sticker

Here in Maryland, Howard County has a bumper sticker you see on almost all the cars – it’s basically that green sign on the top right (without the deplorable thing, of course). So when I saw this, I was blown away at the awesome creative nature of the situation. It’s a nice bit of humor in what’s been a horrible election.

Review: The Magician King

The Magician King (The Magicians, #2)The Magician King by Lev Grossman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Well, good. don’t go digging too deep, Quentin. Don’t stir. Shit. Up.” Fogg enunciated the obscenity crisply. “Right now you have the air of somebody who thinks he knows better. Humility is a useful quality in a magician, Quentin. Magic knows better, not you. Do you remember what I told you the night before you graduated? Magic isn’t ours. I don’t know whose it is, but we’ve got it on loan, on loan at best.”

Dean Fogg, with that quote, sums up this book. The previous book was a deconstruction / reconstruction of the tropes that govern the Chronicles of Narnia and other similar stories. This book is a deconstruction / reconstruction of The Hero’s Journey. Although, it’s actually two heroes’ journeys. This book reveals how Julia became a hedge witch and it involves Quentin on a journey that revolves around a macguffin, but is really about the hero’s personal growth (like nearly all hero journey tales). The personal growth is key because I hated Quentin and the other main characters of The Magicians. They were all the worst embodiments of entitled youths. They were not sympathetic. In fact, Julia’s entire journey in this book is caused by Quentin’s cowardice in the previous book. If he’d manned up and tried to get Fogg or some other faculty member to maybe make Julia an exception – since something about her mind made the forgetfulness spell not take – it would have been much better for the poor girl (view spoiler). If there’s any good that came of it – it’s that this journey forced Quentin to grow as a person. Near the end of the book he’s no longer using people for sex and he even learns to properly make a hero’s sacrifice. (Which was not a surprise if you listened to Ember mid-way through the book) And speaking of side characters, both Eliot and Penny (who was a real prig in the first book), show lots of growth as well.

Speaking of Julia, there’s one thing that made me very uncomfortable in this story. That Julia had to sleep around a bit as part of her hitting rock bottom was not too uncomfortable. I understand the role it has in the plot of showing different things depending on where she was in her mental emotional state. Sometimes she wields it like a boss – knowing that our culture seems to venerate access to a woman. Sometimes it’s a desperation move – the only way she can get what she needs at the moment. But what made me incredibly uncomfortable is when a certain scene goes awry and she ends up being raped – especially when she thought she was sacrificing her life. It ends up imbuing her with her Neo in The Matrix 2/3 levels of power and eventual ascension, but it just feels so unnecessary and especially piled on after all she had before. Especially with how women are always raped and men are rarely raped in books and comics. I have lots of female friends (in the social media sense) on Goodreads and I’d like to know how they felt about it (men can comment as well, but obviously, it’s not the same).

That scene aside, the book was a great continuation of what came before it and it really does present a good story that grows the characters and the world presented in the first book.

View all my reviews

Review: The Dispatcher

The DispatcherThe Dispatcher by John Scalzi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, that was a great little read. If you were worried John Scalzi was a one-trick pony, worry no more. This thriller is a great little romp through a world in which no one dies anymore…or at least, can’t be murdered. Scalzi does a bunch of great world-building in which he shows us what happens to a world in which you effectively can’t die because of murder anymore. It’s alternately bitingly witty and a little sobering. I’m not entirely sure if I want more stories in this universe or if it’s best that you just have this little tidbit before things fall apart from too much introspection.

The narration is also really good. I’d say in the top five narrators I’ve heard read a book to me.

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LXC Project Part 3: Starting and logging into my first container

Continuing my LXC project, let’s list the installed containers:

lxc-ls

That just shows the name of the container – lemmy. For completion’s sake, I’m going to start it as a daemon in the background rather than being sent straight into the console:

lxc-start -n lemmy -d

As per usual Linux SOP, it produced no output. Now to jump in:

lxc-console -n lemmy

That told me I was connected to tty1, but did not present a login. Quitting out via Ctrl-a q let me go back to the VM’s tty, but trying again did not get me login. There’s some weird issue that doesn’t allow it to work, however, this did:

lxc-attach -n lemmy

I’m not 100% sure why it works and console doesn’t, but there seems to be discussion about systemd causing issues. At any rate, the only limitation of lxc-attach is that the user doing it has to also exist on the container. However, given that these are server boxes, root is fine and so it works.

Unfortunately, networking does not work. That’ll be for next time.

What’s in here?

What's in here?
What’s in here?

Once kids learn how to open doors, drawers, etc – it’s all they do. Overall, it’s not too bad – they’re learning how the world works, gaining physical skills, etc. But unless you’ve child-proofed the crap out of every single thing that can be opened, it becomes very easy for the kids to make a mess. Since they are (as of late September/early October) currently obsessed with opening their drawers, we practically never play with them in their rooms.