Sunday, December 29, 2013

Tea of the Day: Chai and Mango Green

Hey y'all.  So I let my mom pick the next flavor from the Boston Tea Company box, and she picked chai.  I was a little nervous about this one, as the last chai I had wasn't that great.  Again, that was Republic of Tea.  That version was too spicy and not really flavorful enough.  It was like drinking a cup of hot pepper.

This chai, however, was nothing like that.  I had a bag of it at work, and even when the bag soaked for too long (y'know, work calls), the tea wasn't too strong.  It was really enjoyable.  Boston Tea Company is really shaping up to be a great brand.

Bentley's on the other hand, isn't proving to be much.  I had their mango green tea, and it was meh.  I could taste it before my mouth even reached the tea, and that's a problem.  The mango was sour, and for some reason the green tasted sort of separate from the mango.  It didn't blend, and was very bitter.  It leaves a dark aftertaste in my mouth.

I think that tea is going to find its way into Dad's cabinet.  He likes different fruit teas.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Tea of the Day: French Vanilla and Ginger Peach

Hey y'all.  So does anyone know why they call it French vanilla?  What's so French about it?  At the coffeeshop I used to work at, "French" vanilla meant adding a shot of hazelnut to the latte.  Huh.  Hazelnut's not bad.  Get it in your next latte when you get a chance.  Though I have no idea if that's in this tea.  Um....

*looks at package* Okay, Chinese and Indian black tea, and also vanilla flavoring.  No hazelnut.  And also no indication of what's so French about it, other than the name.  Note that this is from the Bentley's tea, and that the Boston Tea Company box didn't come with vanilla.  Which is fine with me, as that means I get more flavors.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Me and Aldaris (p26): Toby...Out of Danger?

Toby didn't know how long he'd been running.  He didn't know where he was running.  All he knew was that he was in some foreign country, probably in Asia, where he didn't know the language and hadn't a scrap of paper to legitimize his presence there.  He'd run for several minutes now from a crowd of Asians, and now was lost in the hilly countryside of what he could only guess was China.  Whoever it was after him, they'd given up the chase.  Thanks to his work out regimen, Toby was far more athletic than the five foot farmers on his tail.  Still, he dodged past trees and over many hills before he stopped running.

Now lost, Toby stopped with a gasp and sat on a stump next to a one lane dirt road.  He sat there getting his breath, almost able at his circumstances.

"Well..." Toby muttered between breaths.  "Charlie probably can't find us now.  We're all lost.  Heh, what an adventure this has turned out to be."

At this point, Toby soured.  Even his false cheer paled when he remembered Bethany and Statkus.  He'd gotten away, but surely they hadn't.  He didn't see what happened to Bethany, but he'd heard Statkus cry out as he fell.  Toby's stomach tightened.  Not only was he alone, but he'd abandoned the others he should have done something to help.  He hoped that they understood that he wanted to survive, but all the same, his conscious burned a hole in his chest.  What was done was done, though, and he was at the point where he had to decide for himself what to do next.

"I wish I'd asked Bethany more questions." Toby pulled himself off the stump.  The run had taken it out of him, but he was to restless to do nothing.  "She seemed like she knew what she was talking about.  Just this once, at least."

He chuckled as he remembered her personality analysis.  "Heh, some hero I am.  I don't think Raynor or Fenix would have run off like that."

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Tea of the Day: Pomegranate

Hey y'all.  In the effort to both update more often and exercise my need to rant, I'm going to talk about my Christmas presents from my sister and her boyfriend: two tea kits.  One is just a sample of a bunch of teas, and the other is a more fancy bit that comes in a wooden box.  It's super cute, and even has little metal handles.  It sort of looks like a cigar box.

So I'll be doing tea reviews of what I got.  Are you here to read that stuff?  I dunno.  Maybe you'll be willing to try new things after reading it.  After all, tea is pretty amazing.

The thing about these kits is that they're not meant to be gifted together; there's a couple of repeat teas in them.  For example, I have two kinds of pomegranate.  The box version, by The Boston Tea Company, is a Chinese green tea with pomegranate.  The kit version has both Chinese and Indian black tea, by Bentley's.

What surprised me about the black tea is that the pomegranate was more obvious, despite the fact black tea leaves more of a "stain" of flavor.  Unfortunately, there was a bit too much pomegranate for my taste.  The trouble with fruit flavor in teas is that it can be very easily overwhelming if you leave the bag in for anything longer than two minutes.  And then of course risk not getting the full tea flavor.

On the other side of that, the Boston Tea Company's pomegranate didn't have enough flavor.  Sure, it was flavored enough so that you could tell what fruit it was, but just barely.  Someone who didn't know it was pomegranate might not be able to point it out.  I let the bag soak in the tea at least five minutes, so clearly it didn't quite have enough flavor.

To be honest, BTC wins this round.  I'm not a huge fan of feeling like my mouth is full of what feels like un-sugared Kool-Aid -- I don't ever sweeten my tea, and I don't think that would help if the fruit flavoring is too strong.  My dad found the Bentley's to be really good, so perhaps it's just a matter of opinion.

So which do you prefer?  Too much flavor or too little?

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Updates, huh?

Hey y'all.  Sorry I haven't updated in a bit.  I am working on another Me and Aldaris post, and I have two more Trek movies to review, but it's the Christmas season, and there's being a little mini addition to the family yesterday.  Or so I'll use as an excuse.  To be fair, this blog has always been a bit more about my rabid ranting than actually putting out something people want to read.  Though of course I try on that front.

In any case, I will be doing some writing here, but my main priorities in life include school and writing something that's actually publishable and can earn me a bit of cash.  Writing for free is fun, and I seem to be better at it, but eventually what I do has to make me money.  There's that whole thing about eating, and all.

In any case, there will be some writing here soon.  I'm about halfway or so done with the Me and Aldaris post, and I always enjoy ranting about Trek or whatnot, so I'll finish that mini series.  I also have a blog about questions I want to ask normal people that I can finish up.  As far as other things, like my personality environment type stuff, I don't really have any plans to continue that in the future, unless specifically requested.  Nothing is quite so inspiring as a request.

For now, comment feedback, positive or negative.  Or just say the first thing that comes to your head.  Peanut butter pineapple pie.  ....Ew.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Nitpickery -- Star Trek: Generations

Alright, the first of the Next Gen Star Trek movies…which I am for some reason tackling third to last, but whatever.  In any case, this movie apparently only got made because Gene Roddenberry died, and Gene did not want the two generations of Star Trek to ever merge.  Honestly, the idea might have worked, if most of the original cast weren’t so old.  DeForest Kelley couldn't get the insurance required to appear on film, and that knocked him out of the cast.  Leonard Nimoy was offered the director's chair, and quite frankly, I think he could have done a good job.  However, he had problems with the script and didn't have time to fix them.  So he passed.  Apparently he passed on acting in it too.

I don't know why Nichelle Nichols wasn't in it, but George Takei refused to do the part if it meant that he would have to serve for Kirk again.  He claimed Sulu worked too hard to get a demotion, even a temporary one.  I don't know about Sulu, but Takei certainly worked hard.  He's been begging for captaincy since Star Trek 2.  Thing is, the movie makers cast a girl as his daughter, so he could at least have made a cameo to see his daughter on her first job on a spaceship.

So that left Scotty and Chekov to appear in the movie that was supposed to merge Original Series and Next Generation.  It's at this point that the filmmakers really should have rewritten the movie.  After all, if you have only three of the actors, and a three that don't really make sense together, then why bother?  Just take Kirk to the future and be done with it.  Or don't bring Kirk in at all.  Or, since Vulcans live long, have future Spock meet past Kirk and they can hang out.

Or just, y'know, make a Next Gen movie.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Me and Aldaris (p25): Everything is going wrong.

This has been a pretty crappy day so far.  First my apartment gets on fire, then I get shoved into a creepy hotel, then I get magically transported to China, where me and one of my co-conspirators and I are in what I suppose is a Chinese police station.  Yes, I'm sure it's China now.  I know what the word for "exit" in Chinese looks like (I think), and they flashed by me briefly as two short Asians shoved me through the old concrete of some kind of law enforcement center.

We must be getting the special treatment, because we're not crammed in a cell with other sketchy figures.  I'm stuck in a concrete box just barely taller than me, where the cot in the back left corner and the pot in the other call to mind images of The Gulag Archipelago. Unlike Solzhenitsyn, however, the place isn't overcrowded, and the narrow, rectangular window at the top isn't blocked entirely.  It's just barred, and a peek through it shows a rather quaint scene.  Quaint once you get past the yard of half-dead grass and barbed wire fence lining it.  I could just barely make out a few shops or homes (it was hard to tell at the distance) where a few people meandered about with baskets.  A guy drove by on a bike.  

I shivered and turned away from the window.  It's hard to feel sorry for yourself when other people very nearby have it worse.  Planting my cold self on the cot, I started thinking about Statkus.  I sure hope he's okay.  It was so freaky when he fell down that hill and smashed his head.  Technically it wasn't smashed, thank God, but he hurt himself pretty bad.  When the blood started gushing down his face, the Chinese guys after us started freaking out.  I thought for a minute that they would chill out and not be so mad with us after that for sitting on their property, but no, not so much.  A couple of the guys got out some rags and cleaned up Statkus' face, and he just seemed pretty dazed.

I don't know how hurt he was.  They let me look at him for a little bit, and I couldn't see any bone or anything like that.  Statkus looked like he was gonna hurl, though.  There's nothing quite like being both out of one's element and bashed in the head to boot, as well as being in a completely implausible place.  Hopefully nothing serious is wrong with Statkus, but that's got to be an injury that needs stitches.

At that point, all the Chinese people seemed to chill out somewhat.  Sure, some of the guys were still mad at us, but a couple of women showed up at that point and did some yelling at them.  A really cute lady in a modern looking set of jeans and shirt tried to talk to me, but the only Chinese words I know are "nee-hou" (hello) and "gwhy-lo" (white devil).  I forgot how to say "black devil" in Chinese, only that it vaguely sounds like the word "yellow".  The men in the gathering crowd said both words plenty of times, I can assure you of that.  Given that nobody came up with Toby in tow, I figured he got away.  At first I was glad I didn't run, so that I could stay with Statkus and make sure he's cool, but now I'm in my special white devil concrete box, and who knows where Statkus is?

That's the thing I don't get about all this.  Normal Chinese people are pretty cool, and the weirdest thing they do is stare at you.  Are they really going to get all that worked up about three strangers, even foreign ones?  The only thing weird about us was that Statkus wasn't wearing shoes.  And that we had no travel papers.  Or money.  Or identification.  And can't speak the language.  And that two of us ran like mofos when a guy called us out.  Okay, so we're plenty strange.  Still, what's the point in getting all worked up about us?

Of course, then again, the last time I was in China, I peeked out of the train window to see a line of tanks.  People don't talk much about China's communism, but it's still there.  As near as I can figure, the locals had some sort of problem they're blaming on us (I really hope Aldaris' recall unit didn't do anything), or that we landed near a communist....oh, what do they call them?  In the Gulag Archipelago, they were called "village soviets", where there was a communist official in charge of each collective farm.  Who knows how much the Chinese kept of Soviet culture, especially now that Russia's free again and there's no Soviets around to impress?  Maybe there's no village soviet.  I still haven't a clue why they were so mad at us.  Was it because I used korean?

All I know is, after a while, some local cops shoved me and Statkus in the back of a car.  It was one of those really cute three-wheeled cars, with two in the back and one in the front.  My dad says those are dangerous, but we made it to the police station alright.  At this point, some of the cops realized that the villagers (is that what they were?) must have overreacted to our presence.  They were a lot calmer than the farmer guys, and some of them knew enough english to ask for our passports.  Have I ever mentioned how much I hate language barriers?  Surely you can guess how frustrating it is to be in a foreign land with no passport to give and only enough knowledge to say, "hello, white devil".  I'm sure as heck not saying that to a cop.  I think they just shoved us in the cells because they didn't know what else to do.  That is, if Statkus is in a cell.  They could be taking care of him.  Prolly are.  Don't see why they wouldn't be.  They didn't search me to take my notebook, so maybe they're not mad at us.

Oh crap.  By now one of the cops surely has called a big-wig about us foreigners.  Pretty soon someone who does know english will arrive, and guess who gets to explain everything to them.  Son of a bleep.  It occurred to me that I could lie, but what would I say?  That I'm a lost student?  They'd ask where I was staying in China and where I was learning.  That I have family nearby?  Pfft.  That an alien with near-magical and definitely malfunctional teleportation abilities zapped us all here by accident?  It's pretty sad that that's the best story we have.

They haven't taken my picture yet, but more than likely they will.  Crap, Aldaris better find us soon.  I don't want to be involved in an international incident!  Statkus got his face busted up, and I'm not wearing any makeup, and guess what two faces are going to be in the papers? Either Aldaris better find us soon, or he may be better off just abandoning us, from his perspective.  After all, we can't prove that an alien did this to us.  Wow.  I really hope Aldaris isn't that big of a scumbag, but we're talking about a guy who didn't care about human collateral when destroying Zerg-infested planets.  Oh my crap, he's totally going to backstab us.  Oh my crap...

I really hope Toby got away.  If it was possible, I'd pretend that he wasn't with us.  Maybe then he could find some way home from here....yeah right.  Go across the planet without someone discovering him and asking questions?  Not likely.  If he's very, very lucky, he can find a western embassy and pretend he has amnesia.  Please God, let Toby get to the embassy and pretend he has amnesia.  At least one of us needs to get out of this without creating an international incident.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Nitpickery -- Star Trek: First Contact

Hey y'all.  So I watched Star Trek: First Contact.


Even when I was a child and didn't know any better -- you know how little kids can't tell good movies from bad --  I didn't like this movie.  The reasons for this were uncertain at the time, but to me it was simply a muddle of one thing and then another.  Sure, there were cool visuals about it, and a lot of people like this movie.  If you're someone who likes this, I don't mean to criticize you.  It's just that this is not really a quality film, and I'm here to nitpick whatever comes my way. 

Spoilers, of course.

This film is just so meh.  It was really a struggle for me to even finish it, as it wasn't horrible enough to be funny nor good enough to be interesting.  I love subtext and hidden meaning, but the subtext of this film?  Well, we'll get there when we get there.

----- Ten Things I'll Say about Star Trek: First Contact -----

10. This movie is dumb on its very premise.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Nitpickery: Star Trek, The Motion Picture

Hey y'all.  It's been an interesting week, to say the least.  First of all, my apartment building caught on fire.  Yep, that's not just a plot device in my fanfic.  Actually, I was very lucky.  The fire didn't come down to the first floor, and there was very little water damage where I was.  So most of my possessions made it out fine.  I'm in a new place, and everything is basically cool, though there was a day of frantic packing as we had to get everything out of the apartment -- the fire department thought that the roof might fall in from the rain.  It hasn't so far, but why push it?

So yeah.  It didn't do much more than interfere with my schedule.  I had a lot of homework due, but unable to turn in due to lack of internet access and for a time separation from the textbooks I needed to complete it.  Tomorrow I expect a pretty frantic time of scrambling around to get what I can done.  Also, it's caused me to fail NaNoWriMo.  You can't really work on a novel when you're moving in the rain, cramped in a sinus-drying and sort of creepy hotel, behind on obligations, or so tired you're about to pass out.  I expect that a lot of my future writing time is going to be concerned with finishing school work.  I'm just happy that most of my current classes don't have finals.

But there was a funny coincidence.  So I have temporary access to a lot of books and movies for free because of my job at a bookstore, and I was just about to turn in Star Trek IV to get Star Trek: the Motion Picture, to watch for this review.  But of course the fire happened, and I didn't want to bring the store's property to the hotel to be potentially lost.  That, and I didn't have anything to watch it with -- my poor baby laptop was locked in the building that first night, and I spent several intense hours wondering if it was okay.  I'm happy to say that she's completely unharmed.

But in any case, in the hotel I was getting settled in and trying to relax, and you know what came on TV?  The Motion Picture.  I could hardly believe it.  Maybe it was God trying to make me feel better about things, and letting me know he was watching out for me.  He certainly was, from how much of my stuff made it out of the apartment.  In any case, I stayed up far too late to watch the movie, and I must say I enjoyed the crap out of it.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Me and Aldaris (p24): Smells Like China

I wasn't napping this time.  This time I was sitting on the hotel bed, waiting for the hot water pot to finish so I could cook some ramen.  Mmm...ramen.  I'd already cut up some broccoli and tomato to put in it.  It was beef flavor, of course.  I don't like the other ones.  Wait, nevermind, I do kind of like the shrimp flavor.  Which is weird, because I don't like shrimp for real.

Oh wait, we're talking about adventure, not food.  Well, that's how this adventure started out: I'm sitting here in a hotel room, wondering what I wanted to stuff in the microwave.  The creepy, creepy hotel microwave.  Actually, this place isn't so bad.  It's way better than that really sketchy hotel I had to stay at in China, with the windows and lace curtains so that anyone in the room could see what was happening in the bathroom.  Don't ask.

In any case, this hotel didn't have that.  What it also didn't have were all the possessions I didn't have with me when I was at school.  That's right, my house caught fire.  I don't know what it was, but since it was up in the roof, the firemen think it could be something electrical.  It's not like I ever go up there.

The thing that pisses me off the most is that it was my fantasy house.  I don't care that the back deck was warped from the rain or that it was putrid color of spoiled mustard yellow.  I like spoiled mustard yellow.  It was my little writer's home, a place where I was hidden away from the world without being far from it.

But whatever.  The damage wasn't bad...from the fire.  Water damage is the main problem.  Well, it could have been worse.  Now all there was to do was sit here and wait for them to let me in my house for the rest of my stuff.  And I'd just bought a nice dress, too.

I was attempting to amuse myself with an Anne McCaffery novel when all of a sudden a blue cloud formed around me.  Great, another random transport.  Seriously, if Aldaris wants to stay hidden he's going to have to do something about that recall whatever.  I was mad.  I was starving, and it's not all that probably that Cheonha would bring food both times she got accidentally zapped up to the alien starship.  So for the few seconds it took to reappear, I cherished the hope that one of the guys would accidentally have a bag of chips or something in his hands when he gets recalled.

Only it didn't work out that way.  When the blue fog cleared away, I wasn't on Aldaris' ship.  I was standing next to a two lane dirt road on the middle of a steep hill.  The upwards slope was dotted with trees, and went far up above my head.  The downward side allowed for a view of another forest below, as well as a farm down and to the left.  I backed away from the edge.

"So you're here too?"

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Me and Aldaris (p23): Charlie and Cheonha

Aldaris was lucky. It was over a month since Kensley had been gone, and he still never returned to his lonely home in the countryside of California. That meant Aldaris had the place more or less to himself and Raasha, the human's dog. If he told the time to read the dog's collar, he might have discovered its real name, but Aldaris preferred the one he'd given it. Raasha was a mighty animal hero in Protoss legend, and though the creature wasn't an Earth dog, this particular canine almost resembled a picture Aldaris had seen in a picture book from his childhood. So Raasha it was.

All the same, Aldaris was not entirely heartless. From time to time as he sat in the sunlight of Kensley's large backyard and basked in the shower's of Earth's star, he thought about the human who lived there. Kensley had left the home because something bad had happened to his daughter, and if it was taking her this long to recover, it must have been a devastating accident.

Still, Aldaris needed the sunlight. Staying on his ship exhausted him, even when he turned the sun panels inward and allowed the light to enter his study. Somehow this was just not the same as sitting under the sun on the human homeworld, not to the Judicator's weary nerves. Though he had been there only the day previous, Aldaris sat once again amongst the sparse trees, absorbing sunlight as he varied between meditation, drawing various trees on his stand-up sketchpad, and simply playing with Raasha.

Aldaris looked upward. The noontime sun, wonderful as it felt, was starting to sink down. He knew he had to get out of there; the neighbor that fed Raasha generally showed up about one o'clock. Not eager to show himself to more humans than he had already. Aldaris reluctantly touched the quorrian embelm on his shoulder. His ship summoned him, and when Aldaris re-opened his eyes (the recall process always made him a bit queasy), it was the controls of his ship he saw around himself.

He shut down the teleporter with the touch of a key. For a few moments, he stood there in silence. Coming back to the sheltered corridors of the Juniadros was always a let down after basking in bright sunlight. That, and with a stirring in his heart, Aldaris reviewed his impossible task list: on the Juniadros, the only things to do were beyond his capabilities.

Repairing the ship? It worked as well as it ever had, as far as normal travel went. Aldaris had used the extent of his Judicator's training in machinery to keep it running, and if something out of that range went wrong, he was out of luck. Securing fuel to maintain his orbit? Well, he could keep going for a few years, if all he ever did was simply orbit. That didn't count whatever fuel he would use to get back home. And there lay the rub; his last task was to run through his ship's trajectory records, and using that massively complex set of numbers, calculate a way to go back. And that was assuming he'd traveled to Earth on his ship's power alone. If something else had catapulted him to the past....

Aldaris shook his head. It did no good to think like that, and if his mind dwelt too much on the possibility of being stuck on Earth, he would lose it. For now, Aldaris touched various control panels, and many of the lights on the eight viewscreens shut down. Low power mode would help conserve the Juniadros' fuel for the way back, whenever he got around to finishing the calculations. Theoretically, Aldaris had completed them. Over and over. But, as only an average talent at higher maths, Aldaris didn't trust his own numbers to keep him safe, and he couldn't compensate for the strange power surge that sent him back almost five hundred years, as well as several millions of lightyears in a direction he didn't know.

"Hn'dara macjolineer." the alien muttered as he continued shutting down the recall unit's controls. "P'kashi na yulunterna. ...Eeyntu?"

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Me and Aldaris (p22): Personality stuff.

Apparently not all that interested in the four humans stuck on the ship, Aldaris turned to his table and started...I think writing something.  Maybe he only meant to keep an eye on us until he could send us away.  In any case, he ignored us when we started talking again.

"I actually liked Heart of the Swarm." Toby piped up.

I turned to him and stared at him with the most dead of eyes.  "Toby, we can't be friends anymore."

"What?  It wasn't that bad.  It was fun to play."

"Gameplay, eh?" Okay, fine, that's a legitimate reason.  I dropped my stare.  "I only like Starcraft for its plot.  I'm not that good at actually playing it."

"So many people left Blizzard that I knew the story wouldn't be any good." Stakus stretched out his legs. "The reviews said that the gameplay was basically the same as the first, so I didn't see any reason to get the new one.  I'm a grown up now, and I've got better things to do than to play games."

"I like Starcraft too much not to.  I had to at least find out what happened." It was sort of cold there, so I hugged my knees.  "At least I had to find out who all the new characters were in case I wanted to do my personality tests again."

"Personality tests?" Toby asked.  "On Starcraft?"

Friday, November 22, 2013

Nitpickery: the Voyage Home

Hey, y'all.  So I got around to watching Star Trek: the Voyage Home again, and even though I have the VHS, I borrowed the DVD to watch.  I was sort of hoping that it would have some sort of difference between it and the VHS, but alas, no scene change.  That's probably for the best, as the slight change made in Star Trek VI was rather jarring.

In any case, the Voyage Home is a continuation of the plot from the previous movie, the Search for Spock.  At the end of that movie, the main crew of the Enterprise was on the planet Vulcan, having just reunited Spock's body with his soul.  They intend to go straight back to Earth so that the crew can turn themselves in for having stolen the Enterprise in the previous film.  Only this time a giant space probe has gotten there ahead of them, and is draining all starships, space stations, and indeed the enter planet's power.  Now storms are brewing on Earth, and there's nothing anyone can do about it.  That is, until Kirk and company, flying their stolen Klingon vessel, figure out that they have to go snatch up some extinct whales from 20th century Earth and bring them back to the future, so that they can tell the probe to go away.

Mishaps and mayhem are the name of the game in this most happy of Star Trek movies, where everyone is just out to have a good time.  Apparently so were the viewers, as this is the Trek film that has made the most money.  With the exception of course of JJ Abram's Star Trek, but since that's not actually Trek it doesn't matter.

Let's get right to it, shall we?

----- Top Ten Things I'll Say about The Voyage Home -----

10.  It's hard to criticize this movie.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Me and Aldaris (p21): Alley-oops!

Aldaris and John were back from trying to make the ship work, and John rejoined our little group of humans on the floor near the window.  Aldaris sat at his table, casting wary glances at the four of us.  Sheesh.  It's not as though we could have done anything in this empty room while he was gone.

"Everything fixed?"  I asked the Protoss.

"All is under control at the moment." Aldaris replied.  

Toby sat up a little straighter.  "So what was wrong with the ship, then?"

Aldaris narrowed his eyes, in that way he always did when someone asked a question that pried too much into his business.  Sheesh, we aren't electrical engineers.  It's not like we know how any of this stuff works.  Aldaris, catching my thought, glared at me before continuing.  

"It is the recall unit.  It malfunctioned, and because the four of you were the last ones to be taken by the recall possessor, your..." Aldaris seemed lost for words, and he gestured a bit as though it would help him think.  Finally, he gave up.  "I do not know the human word for it.  My vessel remembers you, and that allowed the device to summon you in its error."

"Huh...but we're the only ones who have ever been on your ship from Earth." I pointed out.  "It's impossible, presumably, to bring in somebody from your universe.  What if it tried to teleport again after we were all up here?"

"That is precisely what it attempted to do.  Hence the failure." Aldaris shifted in his chair, straightening his posture and lifting his head like a disdainful king.  Charlie tends to do that when he wants to change the subject.  "For the time being, you shall remain here until the recall device is at adequate power to send you home."

Yeah, and he could hardly wait, I bet.  In the meantime, John had already sat down with us again, and Cheonha very professionally poured him more juice.  Seriously, what's with her hostess kick already?

"Yay, so we get to hang out with everyone's favorite cranky reptile." I winked.

Aldaris responded with such a stare that I almost turned to stone.  For real.  "Bethany, perhaps you wanted to rephrase that statement."

I was about to respond with even more sarcasm than before, but I felt my mind blank out -- as though I couldn't get access to my wit.  It was weird...normally I don't feel that way unless I'm up at one in the morning trying to write a story and hyped up on nothing but day old coffee.  Oh wait, there's a seven-century old psychic mastermind sitting there glaring at me with his laser eyes.  That would explain it.

"Uh, what I meant to say was that we get to practice diplomacy by speaking with a highly intelligent foreign politician." I blushed and pointed to the window.  "And that I'm going to go sit over here now and stop saying things."

"That is an improvement." Aldaris nodded.  "Though I doubt that you would keep any promise to remain silent for longer than a a few minutes at a time."

Statkus was starting to get annoyed with Charlie at that point.  He doesn't like it when Aldaris starts getting all "I'm the boss of you" to us, even when I deserve it.  Thankfully, though, Toby's not good at noticing cranky people.  Either that, or he's really good at putting up them.  It's a superpower.

"So Charlie," Toby asked.  "How'd you like Starcraft II?  You never did pick up the disks for Heart of the Swarm.  That bad, eh?"

Before answering, I got a nice second dosage of evil stares from Aldaris.  "Is it your doing that my unfortunate 'nick' name has taken precedence over the proper way of addressing a 'foreign diplomat'?"

I crossed my fingers over my mouth.  Hey, he's the one that didn't want me talking.

"I see." he glared at me a second longer before turning back to Toby.  His face relaxed notably, though probably more because he was tired than anything else.  "I find this 'Wings of Liberty' to be nonsensical.  The portrayal of the Taldarim was most offensive, and though I have learned many dark things of Raynor from your game, it would seem highly out of his nature for him to destroy Protoss of any sort for the sake of profit.  I did not finish it, nor care to."

"Did you get to the part with Zeratul?" I asked, grinning.  Lol, I'm sure Charlie just loved seeing it.

"There it is." Aldaris said, lifting his gaze to me.  "Bethany deceives us with a false promise and breaks her silence.  But to answer you, I have viewed a little of Zeratul's part in it, but no more than his greetings with Raynor, if one may call it that.  Though I doubt I shall like the answer, I ask you this: what more have they done to slander Prelate Zeratul?"

"Oh yes, where he talked to Raynor was pretty stupid.  I burst out laughing when 'I bring tidings of doom'." I cringed at the horror which was Zeratul's dialogue.  "Maybe if Zer's original voice actor hadn't died, he would have stopped them from making Zer such a moron.  Or they would have kicked him out like they did Kerri's voice actress.  Anyway, after he talks to Raynor, Zeratul gives him a memory crystal of some sort, and through it the player can access some additional missions.

"And those missions are insultingly stupid.  Zer and Kerrigan meet up and say some vapid crap that doesn't mean anything, and then Zeratul goes after bits of some prophecy..." I strained my mind to remember. "Sorry, I'm not so good at remembering stupid things.  It basically culminates in a really cheap 'break the cycle of the gods' crap.  Zer then goes to Aiur, where he encounters the rotting corpse of the Overmind and Tassadar's ghost."

Aldaris blinked.  "If I recall your notes correctly, this game is set four years post Brood War.  Surely what was left of that corpse would have rotted by that time."

"Heh." I chuckled.  "See, the thing is, you're using your mind.  Sadly, the writers of this game were not, and Zer gets to have a really stupid conversation with Tassadar about how the Overmind wasn't really evil, but simply following the directive of...something.  I think they're trying to set up the Xel'Naga as evil or something.  And apparently the Overmind was happy to die because that meant he was no longer under the whatever's control, and - "

Aldaris cut me off with a swipe of the hand. "By all means, cease speaking of Starcraft.  I am beyond submitting myself to human prevarications.  It was already clear from 'Wings of Liberty' that I have nothing more to gain from observation."

"Certainly not from Heart of the Swarm." I winced.  "'S terrible."

"Then by your courtesy, do not elaborate."

"Okay then."

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Nitpickery: Star Trek Nemesis

Hey y'all.  So I was watching the next available Star Trek, which is unfortunately Star Trek: Nemesis.  This is the worst Star Trek movie there is.  As much as I hate JJ Abrams' stuff, and I do, it's arguable that boring is worse than stupid.  And this movie is quite boring.  Even as a child, when one's cognitive abilities aren't in focus yet, I knew that this movie had doomed all of Trek.  I didn't entirely understand why, but I knew that I didn't like it and didn't want to watch it again.

You know how you watch a movie because you wonder if it's really as bad as you remember?  Yeah...that....sometimes you were right the first go-round.  Like with Rocky V, for example.  Yeesh, Adrian was such a nag.

In any case, Nemesis is the story of when all the Next Generation Enterprise crew got together for Deanna Troi's and Will Riker's wedding (or pre-wedding, as there was going to be some sort of ceremony on Deanna's home world), and they are all traveling back to her world which my brain fart prevents me from remembering the name of, and then they get a weird signal from a planet.  This signal leads them to find a Data-like android in the desert, which is somehow transmitting a signal into space even though his body is all in parts and does not appear to have a power source strong enough to reach space. 

Anyway, after this little diversion, the Enterprise gets called in to deal with the Romulans, as they have a new leader and their slave race, the Remans, have gained power.  And the Federation has to negotiate....something.  I don't know what, they just want the Enterprise to go there and do something.  In any case, it turns out that the new leader of the Romulans is a human clone of Captain Picard, made from a discarded attempt for the Romulans to take advantage of the Federation somehow. 

Ugh...I'm having such a hard time summing up the plot.  Nothing makes sense in this movie, so trying to figure out what means what is just nonsensical.  In any case, Picard's clone, Shinzon, toys around with Picard, using the Data replica to capture him and use him to prolong Shinzon's life, because Shinzon will age rapidly if he doesn't get Picard blood.  All of this is simultaneous with some sort of plan to conquer Earth with special radiation, and some crap like that.  It ends with Data dying and the rest of the crew being criminally depressed, but then Data's replica takes his place.  Yay.

Let's get this over with:

----- Ten Things I'll Say about Star Trek Nemesis, Besides that It Sucks and Don't Watch It -----

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Nitpickery: The Undiscovered Country

Hey y'all.  Yeah, I know that Undiscovered Country is the sixth Star Trek, and does not come after The Search for Spock.  However, the availability of the movies isn't there.  Wrath of Khan and Search for Spock are on Netflix, and we own Undiscovered Country and Voyage Home on VHS.  Dad said he was in more of a Star Trek VI mood, so here we are.  It's not like I began with The Motion Picture, anyway.

So anyway, Star Trek VI: the Undiscovered Country is a metaphor for the collapse of the Soviet Union, which happened about the time the movie came out.  This actually makes a lot of sense, as one could argue that the Klingons were influenced possibly by the Soviet Union.  How the Klingons treated certain races certainly reflects how the Soviets treated several smaller countries here on Terra.

Anyway, a Klingon moon blows up, polluting the atmosphere of Qonos, their homeworld.  Kirk is called in to negotiate with the Klingon Chancellor, Gorkon.  However, through bizarre circumstances, the Klingon ship is attacked and Gorkon is killed.  Captain Kirk and Doctor McCoy end up captured and sent off to the penal camp Rura Penthe.  Spock must take charge and save them, all without hindering the peace talks between the Federation and Klingons.  Includes a new Vulcan, Valeris, a bird of prey that can fire when cloaked, and lots of Shakespeare quotes

----- Top Ten Comments on Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country -----

10. So many offensive lines!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Me and Aldaris (p20): Total Recall

It was a boring night.  I had just finished a whole bunch of Quickbooks homework, and had about forty percent of it left.  Yeah, I'm so looking forward to next semester when I have to do income taxes.  The teacher gives a crap ton of homework, including a discussion board every day.  But that's next semester. For that moment, I was completely done with homework.  I'd been sitting at my kitchen table for the past three hours, and while admittedly some of that I was watching Minecraft Quick Builds, that's way too much time to sit in one place. I stretched and got out of my chair to get some tea.  And then facepalmed.

"Oh crap." I groaned.  "I haven't planned out what I'm writing for November."

You know, National Write a Novel in a Month, where you write 50,000 words for the month of November.  I'm going to win this year!  I swear it!  Or I will if I ever sit down and make plans for what exactly I want to write.  I've got this primary story I'm working on, but there's alternates too, and I want to get my Starcraft choose your own adventure novel on its way to being finished by the end of the year.

"But not now!" I announced to my imaginary audience.  Sheesh, even when I'm not writing these journal entries, I'm talking to you guys.  "Now I...I sleep.  I'm tired."

Actually, I wasn't that tired, but my eyes were starting to hurt from being on the computer so long, and that's kind of like being tired.  It's really hard to think when your eyes are groggy.  But I had so much homework to do, and I wanted to get as much as possible done for November so I wouldn't have to think about it.  I've got a report on franchising to do, and that's not going to take two minutes.  So I lay down on the couch, expecting to just sit with my eyes closed for ten minutes, or at least until my anxiety about getting everything done nagged me into working again.

Well, that's what I intended.  Anxiety had hold for only a minute or two before sleep took over, and off I was on the sleepy train.  I don't know how long it was, but it felt like only a minute later that I was awake.  And instead of having my face half-smushed in the purple cushions, my nose found itself stuck against something cold.  I wasn't sure what it was at first, as it was so dark.  Not completely, though, as after only a few seconds of blinking the cold stuff was obviously a metal floor.

Suddenly something heavy started nudging against my side.

"Get up!  Get up at once!"

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Nitpickery: The Search for Spock

Hey y'all.  So while I'm on this Star Trek kick, I thought I'd go ahead and review the bona fide sequel for Wrath of Khan.  Now, there's always been a saying for the Star Trek movies, that the even ones are good and the odd ones aren't so good.  While that saying is generally true, and this is the third of the Trek movie series, it's actually a pretty good movie.  Sure, it does have several flaws, but the acting is good, and the story isn't as bad as the Star Wars prequels.  Not even close.

So this movie goes that Spock's father, Sarek, wants to know where his son's katra, or soul, is.  Sarek presumes that Kirk has it, but he doesn't.  Instead they discover that Spock's personality is trapped within McCoy's mind (it's not as off the wall as it sounds) and that McCoy, now appearing crazy, has a sudden desire to go back to the Genesis planet, which was created in the last movie when Khan set off the Genesis device at the end.  The crew of the Enterprise then take their ship illegally out of a space station and head to Genesis, hoping to find out if they can save Spock.  Only now a Klingon who found out about Genesis is in their way, and both Saavik and Kirk's son are caught in the middle.

And now...

----- Ten Things I'll Say about The Search for Spock -----

10.  This movie reverses everything done in the previous one.

A Note on Getting Dates

Hey y'all.  So this blog is for just whenever I find something I want to rant about, and today's rant is about dating.  Specifically, on whether or not a girl should ask a guy out.

I just watched a video where a guy said that girls shouldn't, but they can definitely "put themselves in the way" (make themselves noticeable, I suppose) and question the guy if he's leading them on.  As I was watching this video, I realized something.  Some people might be a bit confused by the wording.  Hence, a bit of nitpickery is necessary.

"Should a woman ask a man out" is the incorrect way to ask this question.  After all, it is neither a sin nor a virtue if a woman goes up to a man and asks if he wants to hangout at Coffee Scene.  The choice the woman is making is neither moral nor immoral, it's what economic people call "nominative".  Like the simple equation 2 + 2 = 4.  This equation does not question if it is morally right for two and two to be four, it merely states that it is.  Likewise, a woman is not deserving to be punished or entitled to a reward for asking a guy out.  It's not a moral question.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Nitpickery: The Wrath of Khan

Hey y'all.  So I was thinking about Star Trek a lot, and how I used to be so into it.  Granted, it still amuses me, but I could never be a Trekker.  That, however, doesn't stop me from nitpicking it as much as I want.  And I will do so with this blog.  I shall nitpick what is arguably the best Star Trek thing ever, the Wrath of Khan.

This movie was not one of the ones I saw a lot as a kid.  This is perhaps the primary reason why it's only my third favorite of the Trek movies, behind The Undiscovered Country and Voyage Home. However, it's on Netflix now, and quite frankly I'm astounded at the production quality of it.  Not just the sets and the camera, but the acting is delightful, the sets all work, and the story makes me smile. No wonder half a dozen Trek films have ripped off -- er, "homaged" this film in some way.

But in order to keep this from being the rantiest rant that ever ranted, I'm going to control myself in at least one way.  How so?  Like this:

----- Top Ten Things I'll Say about Star Trek: the Wrath of Khan -----

Friday, October 25, 2013

Me and Aldaris (p19): Reporting In.

It was true what Aldaris said, almost.  I didn't see him for a long time.  Instead I started school, and normal stuff happened.  I had to drop my online tax course because it was too much work and too nitpicky to be online, and managerial accounting is proving....interesting, for reasons I probably shouldn't gossip about.

I know, I know, you guys are reading my journal here because you want to be entertained.  Well, I'm sorry.  This was meant as a record for all the weird stuff that was supposed to happen to me now that I'm one of the few people familiar with an alien that shouldn't even exist.  You'd think a lot of weird stuff would happen in the meantime. 

Not so much.  Aldaris kept his side of the deal, though.  He reported in to me once a month, grudgingly.   By "reporting in", I mean he signaled me (how in the world was he doing that?  What kind of comm system can signal directly into my head?) and left sort of this...I don't know, presence in my head.  He didn't actually say anything, but I knew he was there.  And then he was gone.

Really, that's all.  No wackadoo adventures or anything.  I'm starting to think this whole alien thing is a bit overrated.  That's one of the reasons it's been taking so long to update this journal.  Since nothing much has been happening, I've been feeling really lazy about updating.  I guess it's for the best, because I really do have a lot of schoolwork that needs to get done.  My economics teacher literally bickers at me if I don't get an A -- I'm the class nerd, you see. 

Fortunately I at least have a little bit to mention, and somehow...I don't know.  If wackadoo adventures haven't been happening, I just have this weird feeling that they will soon.  Either that or I'm going to get arrested.  I've giggled to myself for days on end at the thought of being a secret conspirator, but the truth of the matter is that I could very well be punished for my actions, and I'd deserve it.  There's a lot being gambled on our Judicator's good mood.

This feeling isn't entirely out of nowhere.  The last time Aldaris contacted me, I decided to probe a little.  After all, John is really starting to get antsy about us hiding important information from the public.  He thinks what we're doing is wrong.  I love Toby, because he thinks the whole thing is as hilarious as I do.  But even he's getting a little bored, and well, I want to know what's going on too.

So I was sitting at my livingroom table (my whole first floor is one room, so I can't exactly have a kitchen table), and expressing with unintelligible grunts my distaste for the tedium that is Quickbooks homework.  It broke my concentration when I sensed that Aldaris was there, but honestly, he might as well interrupt it.  There are a few times when accounting is as boring as it sounds.

"Hey, Charlie." I said before he could go away.  "Any news on your ship?"

This question startled him, for some reason.  Maybe he wasn't expecting me to catch on to him so quickly.  Or maybe he didn't want me to ask.

"It is fine." he answered smoothly, not quite smoothly enough to be convincing, but just enough to imply that I should shut up.  "The repairs are...progressing."

"Heh.  They're not going well at all, are they?"

"They are fine.  It is simply more work than I had at first estimated."

Somehow I doubt that the Judicator know all that much about ship repairs, but maybe Aldaris took some classes or something.  "Huh.  You're not missing any parts, are you?"


"Charlie, the past three months you've been telling me that you'll be gone soon.  Is it true this time, or is my own personal meaning of the word 'soon' too narrow?"

"So you grow impatient with me?  I should like to see you attempt to cross over from an apparently fictitious world to your own.  Or were you under the impression that such doings are the simplest of child's play?"

I blinked.  That was a whole lot more information than Aldaris had given since August.  Normally he only answered me with "yes", "no" and silence.  Maybe I was assuming too much about his ship.

"Well, sorry then, but I have no idea what's going on up there." 

"I fail to see how any of it is your business."

Facepalm.  I swear, I'm not going to have this conversation again.  How many times already do I have to explain to Aldaris that an alien hanging around my planet is kind of my business?  Whatever.  No more.

"I'm not asking for the specs of your ship, Aldaris."  I rubbed my eyes.  Between Quickbooks and this, I was risking a tension headache.  "I'm just saying that I'm kind of worried about you.  You're stuck by yourself in a flying box, trying to keep yourself hidden.  I can't imagine that's not a tense situation.  If you're not going to talk to those few of us that know about you, then you might just go stir-crazy up there."

I didn't remember it until I spoke, but I'd forgotten about the Kensley property.  Aldaris could probably take walks or whatever there, and even when that Kensley guy comes home he can find somewhere else.  Still. 

Aldaris took a minute to answer.  I think my colloquialisms got in the way of him understanding what I was saying.  Weird.  The guy can talk the most perfect, formal english, and I say the slightest redneck thing ("stir-crazy" is redneck?) and he doesn't get it.  Isn't the Starcraft world full of hicks anyway?

"Your concern is unnecessary." he said.  "And I do not require your help.  As I recall, the last time you attemped to make use of yourself you very nearly shorted out my engines and left the acrid smell of a rancid corpse to waft ever through the ventillation.  No, I do not need assistance from you."

Translation: stay the hell out of my business, human scum.

"One, I was not touching your engines," I huffed.  "I was trying to spare you having to mess with a bag of rotting oranges.  And two: are you sure it's fine?  Iffy as it might be, you may have to consider getting human substitutes for broken things on your ship or fuel.  I've still got that cash from earlier, and I converted some of it to dollars, so if we figure out that anything needs replacing and can find a substitute, there's always that."

Oh great, now I'm going to get in trouble for providing machinery to an alien.  I'm just asking to be charged with treason.  Fortunately, I guess, Aldaris was rather less than enthused with the idea.

"That is laughable.  To replace highly sophisticated Protoss technology with mere human substitutes, and obsolete substitutes at that?  No thank you."

"Son of a bleep, Aldaris, I'm just presenting to your your options." Quickbooks homework was really starting to sound a whole lot more appealing.  "You have some resources down here if you need it, that's all I'm saying."

"I understand you perfectly well, Bethany.  You are helplessly excited by the novelty of a being foreign to your narrow experiences.  You delight yourself in any opportunity you might have to please me, in the hopes that I might shine my favor upon a groveling creature such as yourself."

Is there any good way to reply to that?  Heh, it was kind of funny, actually.  Okay, fine, I like hanging out with aliens.  Is that a flaw in my personality just to like new things?  Sheesh.

"My dear Aldaris," I began.  "You certainly have a funny way of treating someone who has every intention of just being friendly to you.  It's okay.  I know you're under a lot of stress right now, and I can guess that you're having a lot harder of a time figuring out how to get back than I thought.  I forgive all of your petty insults.  Though I will say, it's rather unbecoming of a Protoss Judicator to lower himself to such name calling."

I shouldn't have said that.  Instantly the connection was gone, and I knew Aldaris was up there trying to decide if he was more mad at himself or me.  After all, it wasn't me that lost my cool.  But still, the smile faded from my face.  I didn't need to put any more pressure on Aldaris than he already had on him.  After all, he's far away from the world and people he knows, and he might never see any of that again.

"I wonder how that would affect Starcraft..." I wondered out loud.  "I guess that means his followers have to go on without him...."

Ouch.  Aldaris couldn't like that.  Well, for now, I'd have to forget about my cranky Protoss and just get going on the Quickbooks nonsense.  Yay....

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Me and Aldaris (p18): Wings of Liberty

Aldaris stopped the program.  He'd had enough.  First of all, the converter program that enabled him to see human data was in english, and he hated not being able to comprehend the letters.  He could make the program play and stop, but it was such a hard time trying to fast forward or rewind to a specific point.  That, and for some reason it was only barely light enough to see what was going on.  The Judicator guessed that he probably had an old program, and that possibly Protoss intelligence had already found a better version that was simpler in form.  As it was, he simply couldn't read how to make it work properly.

But neither did Aldaris particularly care.  Starcraft 2 was every bit as terrible as Bethany had claimed, and worse.  Or perhaps humans found it entertaining.  After all, it was meant to be a game, not a film, and it certainly wasn't meant to ever be shown to a Protoss audience.

Aldaris tapped the controls, and the human data disc ejected.  Holding the disc briefly and examining its shiny exterior, Aldaris considered breaking it.  Alas, he wasn't in the mood.  Destroying the thing would in no way erase the images from his head, and what he had seen.  Sure, most of it was just the tedious conflict between Raynor and Mengsk, which Aldaris cared very little about.  He attempted to read Bethany's summary of the plot, but if he couldn't handle the brief english of a video program, then even her failed attempt at brevity was almost entirely a mystery.

Still, Aldaris put the disc back in the plastic cover....and threw it on the floor with the other trash.  Though all those random Earth items had long since been cleaned out (left to burn in Earth's atmosphere), the floor of his engine control room was now covered in piles of Protoss technology.  Nearest to the far window, and the padded seating where a timid Cheonha had sat some months ago, was the pile of things that had to go back into the ship.  The pile in the middle of the floor, and the bigger of the two, was the trash pile; the conglomeration of things that had been shorted out, used up, or were just plain unnecessary.  A third pile, not quite as large as the others, lay at the foot of Aldaris' chair.  It was the stack of things he didn't understand the purpose of, and therefore couldn't get rid of.  About half of it he was almost certain could be scrapped, but without complete certainty he was stuck with the stuff.  No sense in getting rid of anything when the nearest replacement was a universe away.

Aldaris was tired.  Tired of the mess in his engine room, tired of cleaning it up, and most certainly tired of Starcraft.  He didn't understand it at all, and what little he could understand was extremely offensive.  The Taldarim were never so simplistic as they were portrayed in Wings of Liberty.  He'd known a few himself.  Still, a nagging doubt refused to subside.  Them, working with the hybrids?  It was impossible!  But then again, there were those "Protoss renegades" in the secret mission of Brood War that had somehow given Protoss technology to Duran.  They had to be someone, unless that technology was stolen.

After a moment of thought, Aldaris rolled his eyes.  He couldn't possibly take Wings of Liberty seriously.  Not only had they changed Raynor's motivations from the first game -- motivations which Aldaris knew for a fact were accurate -- and made him some kind of rebel leader.

Raynor is no rebel.  Aldaris glowered as though the human were in front of him.  He flees his own kind because he does not believe he can change them.  He is an ineffective coward.

It was an unfair accusation, but Aldaris didn't care.  If Raynor really had kidnapped Mengsk and allied with Kerrigan just to defeat the United Earth Directorate, just like the games said, then what little faith Raynor had earned from Aldaris was gone.  Whatever the Directorate was, Aldaris refused to believe it was worse than Kerrigan or Mengsk.

Of course, I am relying too much on THIS.  Aldaris rose from his chair and stood above the trash pile.  There was the disc, lying right on top.  This detritus that claims the Zerg were "good" all along, and that the carcass of the Overmind would not have rotted entirely in four year's time.  And however cowardly Raynor is, attacking Protoss simply for the sake of artifacts and money is not the least way a part of his nature.

There were so many things about Wings of Liberty that confused Aldaris.  For one thing, why did Kerrigan hide away for so many years?  If those artifacts were so important, why didn't she come and get them right away?  Why didn't Raynor get immediately suspicious when a group of Protoss wanted to defend them? Aldaris had never heard of these artifacts, and was certain he would have done so unless they were specifically Dark Templar in origin, which the game did not indicate.

For a moment, the Judicator was uncertain.  Here he was, in a world where apparently the history of the K Sector was written out with surprising accuracy.  Bethany seemed to know a lot about Starcraft, and Toby was probably finished with the Zerg part of Starcraft 2 already.  John knew something about Starcraft as well.  Simply put, there was no reason why Aldaris couldn't find out anything he wanted to know.

Aldaris, no longer in doubt, retrieved the disc from the pile and took it out of the plastic case.  The case fell back into the pile, and after a snap, so did both halves of the disc.

If the humans that made this do not care, then neither shall I.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

How to Cope with Being a Nerd

Hey y'all.  So I was thinking about how hard it is to be a nerd.  It is pretty hard.  People make fun of you, they expect you to care about fashion and social standards, and no one seems to like or understand the things you like.  And no, nerds aren't "in style".  They never have been and they never will be, because most of the world's population is not composed of Rationals (think Myers-Briggs typology), but rather those that don't care to read Alexander Solzhenitsyn, would rather attend a party than solve a puzzle, and don't believe in their own intelligence, and thus suspect everyone who does.  With those things in mind, and also the fact that nerds have lots of nitpicky personality traits that make us annoying to be around (apparently), it kind of stinks that our intelligence in the community is rather like a box of powdered sugar: useful from time to time, but most of the time it sits in the cabinet, and no one is interested.

Now, note that I'm not talking about geeks.  Geeks are not nerds.  There are a few differences between geeks and nerds, mine being that geeks deal with physical things more than ideas.  However, another valid definition is that geeks are surface, while nerds are deeper.  In this I mean geeks like video games, cartoon cats with mustaches, Star Trek/Wars, and comic books.  Nerds like computers, philosophy, history, and travelling in space.  And so, looking through pop culture, which is more popular?  Cats with mustaches or philosophy?  Exactly.  Nerds are not "in".

The basic problem with nerds is that we are so desperate to speak of things like history and science, but the more social and populous personalities would rather talk about parties, clothes, and who's the best at beer pong.  This is technically fine, as we nerds prefer having fewer, stronger friends, and being as we're a minimal part of the population, that's exactly the kind of friends we're going to have. That, and we feel more special if we have fewer competitors.  Hey, we ain't perfect.

Still, it also means that we have to cope with a world where people aren't like us, and where can't expect people to be like us, because they find philosophy as boring as we do their stuff.  I very much despise blaming others for our own issues, and one way people blame themselves is by having self-pity, by saying that they are a special little snowflake and nobody appreciates them.

Still, we have to live with ourselves.  So, here are a few ways in which us nerds can cope with our social issues and stop feeling like a half-used box of powdered sugar in the cabinet.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Me and Aldaris (p17): Air

When I got out of the bathroom and went back out of the house, Aldaris was out of his chair.  He meandered a little in Kensley's back yard, strolling a few paces away from the back deck and looking out into the distance as though there were something more important out there than the trees.  Kensley, whoever that guy was, didn't have all interesting a yard, though, unless Aldaris just really likes open grassy fields with a few trees dotted here and there.   Or maybe he was mentally scanning the surrounding area for intruders or something.  That's probably a good idea, what with me playing Starcraft on a projector on the side of a house.

Anyway, Aldaris almost immediately noticed me stepping out of the deck, and turned around with the sort of face that makes puppies cry.  Oh no, he wasn't mad at me (I think -- I didn't take forever on my bathroom break), but every thought that had been going through his mind was etched as a wrinkle on his face, and on the whole produced a rather cranky expression.  Oh great, Charlie'd been thinking.  That can't be good.

Whatever he was thinking about, he didn't share.  He wasn't necessarily happy to see me return, but some of the intensity in his expression faded out when he saw me, and a nice little aura of professionalism cloaked him.  Yeah, I wonder how long that'll last.  In any case, Aldaris said nothing and just gestured me over to my seat where I could finally finish off Starcraft, Brood War.  I sat as indicated, but a little knot of tension welled up in my gut.  Suddenly it seemed that showing a bad-tempered 'Toss his world's grim future was a really bad idea.  But it was too late, and I simply returned to the game, while Aldaris returned to his chair.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Nitpickery: Faith and Religion

Hey y'all.  So religion and faith.  These two words get thrown around so much that I'm not sure if they have any meaning left at all.  People use these words, but I don't get the sense that they are understood, especially when they are used by worldly folk.

Let's start with the word faith.  One thing I've noticed as a believer is that this word is used about twenty times more by nonbelievers than believers.  And I don't just mean nonbelievers in Christianity.  I mean people who don't believe in anything, or who claim that all religions are the same and thus feel nothing for any of them.  Those of us who are Christian mention faith very rarely, usually when we're just quoting the verse about the mustard seed or the mountain, and when a pastor is giving a sermon.  In our day to day existence, we almost never say "faith".

As opposed to those who don't believe, who use it as if it held some power.  You know, how there will be some smarmy crap on television when they're trying to be mystical, and they'll say something like, "you just need to have faith".  Or when a non-believing writer tries to give a pastor character something to say, and that pastor will say some crap like "if you have enough faith, it will happen."  Let me tell you here and now: I have never in my life heard a real pastor say that.  Maybe in California or somewhere they have smarmy pastors that say it, but I have a really hard time believing that.  I've been exposed to a few different denominations, and not one of them ranted and raved generically about "the power of faith".

That, of course, is the heart of the matter.  Certain people presume that faith itself is a superpower of some kind.  It's as if just having faith in something mystical automatically makes a person more powerful and smart.  Thing is, if that were true, those atheistic or nonbelieving (there is a connotative difference in attitudes) would "have faith" just to get power for themselves.  Or is that humanism?

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Weirdo Science Fiction -- A Spell for Chameleon

Hey y'all.  So I was at work, and I noticed a book with a guy talking to a lion/scorpion thing.  I turned it over to read the back cover, and it said this --

"For the lack of a spell, Xanth!  That was the enchanted land where magic ruled -- where every citizen had a special spell only he could cast.  It was a land of centaurs and dragons and basilisks.  For Bink of North Village, however, Xanth was no fairy tale.  He alone had no magic.  And unless he got some -- and got some fast! -- he would be exiled.  Forever!  ....Be that as it may, no one could fathom the nature of Bink's very special magic.  Bink was in despair.  This was even worse than having no magic at all...and he would still be exiled!"

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Protoss of Starcraft: a Leadership Allegory -- Aldaris

Hey y'all.  So now we come to one of the most hated characters in Starcraft, the ever arrogant but oh so delightfully brazen Judicator Aldaris.  It's no secret I find him highly entertaining, but this blog is not about what I think of him, but rather how he has been portrayed in Starcraft, with both his strengths and weaknesses.

The trouble with analyzing Aldaris' leadership type is that, like Zeratul, he made lots of bad choices.  Unlike Zer, he didn't show his good side.  This is due in part to Aldaris' narrative purpose.  Aldaris actually serves as sort of a wall; the other personalities bounce off of him so well, and much of my analysis of the other characters comes from how they react to Aldaris, the wild card of the Protoss.  Seriously, the dude's nigh on unpredictable.  However, he does get enough time in the plot to show his personality, so he's not impervious to analysis.

Aldaris was not a good leader.  Like many of the more obvious leaders in Starcraft (Mengsk, Raszagal, the Overmind, DuGalle), he represents one aspect of how a leader can go wrong: not being open to others.  While we get a sense of what Raszagal would be without her particular failure, it's not exactly obvious where Aldaris belongs in an ideal Protoss society.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Me and Aldaris (p16): Dirt

It never takes me long to set things up. The model projector Aldaris has is a pretty good one, easy to work with, and it was already plugged into an outlet outside the stranger's house. I felt bad, though. The projector, as wells as all that random stuff that got beamed up on Charlie's ship, had to have come from somewhere. I just hoped that he didn't take anything important from someone that's poor. I made the mistake of looking back at Charlie as I thought of this.

"Bethany." growled the massive Protoss sitting behind me. "I thought I told you not to ascribe to me that human name."

"I didn't say it. I was just thinking about it."

"There is little difference. " he retorted. "Would you enjoy it if I replaced yours?"

"Are you kidding me? I'd love a Protoss name! That would be so cute! I...."

I turned back to get his reaction, and that was a mistake. What greeted me was the most crinkled, ugly face I'd ever seen, and for a moment it looked like Aldaris would sic the dog on me. I laughed out loud.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Ten Things I Like About Star Trek V

Hey y'all.  I've recently rewatched Star Trek V, the infamous "bad" entry to the Star Trek movie collection.  People have hated this movie since its release, and it's an in-joke among the Trekkies that this is so.  However, I disagree with this assessment.  Is it a great movie?  Certainly not.  There's just too much that didn't get fully thought out, and it goes too goofy.  However, I find it mildly entertaining.

Why?  Well, it means a lot to me.  I had it on VHS as a child, along with IV and VI.  It was something I watched back in the day, and you know what?  It holds up a lot better than a lot of the nonsense us kids watched then.  Sure beats the old Mega Man cartoon.

The thing is, I just don't understand why this movie gets so much hate.  It's not wonderful or terribly thought-provoking, but it's also not the worst thing in the world.  In fact, there are several things I like about it.  Here are ten of them.

Ten good things about Star Trek V:

1.  The characters in the film feel like themselves.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Protoss of Starcraft: A Leadership Allegory -- Raszagal

Hey y'all.   It's time to get to Raszagal, a character that didn't really get enough time to show off her real talent.  We don't know much about her, and the little time we got she was in Kerrigan's control.  Thus, we don't see much of her true nature.  However, I like to believe we got to see some glimpses of it.  Raszagal was a kindly soul, and since usually Kerrigan's words are pretty obvious when she speaks them, we do have a sense of how she normally speaks.

Actually, we learn a lot about Raszagal through Zeratul.  Not only does she say she's a kindly soul, but his past of being a wanderer speaks volumes.  Raszagal apparently saw little reason to restrain Zeratul or ask him to stay on Shakuras to fill some sort of authoritive position.  She thus is showing perception by not putting Zer in a position he can't fill, and also kindness and a relaxed hand by letting him go where he wants.  In a clear parallel to the Conclave, she doesn't demand people follow strict guidelines.  The Dark Templar in her command more or less do whatever pleases them, as long as peace is maintained.

This makes Raszagal a very peaceful type of leader: the Steward.  The Steward's key word is maintenance -- keeping things the same way as the Steward envisions.  Unlike the other leadership types, the Steward is primarily past focused.  The Steward is not as dynamic as Visionary, and isn't about going toward some golden future, nor is the Steward necessarily ready to step to the plate for emergencies like the Strategist.  All the Steward really wants is a peaceful life, for herself and for her people.

This is shown in Raszagal's comments about Aiur.  She's glad that the Dark Templar and the Khalai Protoss have the chance to be united again, and she looks back with longing on her memories of Aiur.  Yet, at no time in the years prior to Starcraft has she ever advocated either going back to Aiur and taking a part of it by force, or establishing some sort of diplomatic mission to reach out and reunite with the Khalai 'Toss.  Granted, neither might have been possible, but Raszagal shows no sign that she wanted to take either path.  Her focus was more on caring for her people, rather than taking risky action in an uncertain endeavor.  In fact, given that the Dark Templar are living on a planet where a Xel'Naga temple is, they're staying there just to study the past, rather than looking forward.

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Protoss of Starcraft: A Leadership Allegory -- Zeratul

Hey y'all.

Zeratul is not a leader in the same sense as Tassadar and Fenix.  See, when we say "leader", we think of people steering by their own vision or those that make plans to see these visions through.  We don't think of people whose authority is limited to a narrow field.  See, potentially anyone can be a kind of leader.  There is always an opportunity or situation where you or anyone else can take charge, even if it's something as simple as a school group project.  What we call natural leaders are those that can take charge without extenuating circumstances, or can find a place for themselves in authority.  However, just because someone isn't a natural leader doesn't mean they're not a leader.

This is where Zeratul comes from.  A lot of fanfiction writers, but not all, have guessed that Zeratul would become Patriarch in Raszagal's place (the ones that don't pick Artanis, that is).  This is natural, what with Ras' comment on asking him to protect their people.  This, however, is the exact wrong place for Zeratul.  He can possibly fulfill his promise, but not as a Patriarch.  He's not that type of leader.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Me and Aldaris (p 15): The Final Stretch

You are Sam McManus, son of Jarred McManus, the miner, son of Caleb McManus, also the miner, son of Cain McManus, who had come all the way from planet Earth on the Argo to come and settle on the Koprullu Sector planet of Moria.  Cain wasn't a miner; he was a criminal responsible for thefts upwards of ten million dollars, but the family never talked about that.  You were a mining family and nothing else, as far as Pop is concerned.

As you might expect, you're a miner too.  in fact, you're on the way to work right now, headed for second shift in the mines of Mt. Tracy.  Your father and your two older brothers won't be joining you yet.  They get to work through the night on third shift.  Their pay is much better, but since you're only barely seventeen, you don't get to spend the night blasting in caves for the gold and the minerals.  You get to shovel rocks and rubble into the sorter so that the gold can be removed from the plain ol' rocks.  Yippee.

I grinned.  This was a great way to start the story.  Granted, it would be nice if I had an actual title for this story, but what are you going to do?  I figure I'll write up the rest of the story and decide what I want to name it later.  After all, writing a "choose your own adventure" story is bound to take a while.  There's plenty of time to name it something.  No need to rush.

"Aldaaarissss!"  I yelled.  "I'm boooooored agaaaaaain!"


"Dang it...."

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Protoss of Starcraft: A Leadership Allegory -- Fenix

Hey y'all.  So, continuing on with my leadership allegory, we move on to the Strategist.  Fenix's role in Starcraft was admittedly small.  He appears only in three of the mission sets, and in one of those he barely appears at all.  However, we have several clues into his personality.  One is that he's a relentless optimist, not even succumbing to depression when he is killed the first time and turned into a dragoon.  Another is that he's immensely practical and not excitable.  His transition from loyal Khalai to follower of Tassadar is quiet, sudden, and not explained.  He just shows up and is like, "Hi Tassadar, how are you?" and just goes on with things.  Third, Fenix hangs out a lot with Raynor, a fellow Strategist.  They're probably closer friends than Raynor was with any other Protoss character.  As a result, I'll be talking a lot about Raynor in this entry.

I picked the Strategist next because it's the next most classic, typical leader after the Visionary.  It's someone you think of when you imagine a military leader or someone who gets things done.  The Strategist is an excellent parallel to the Visionary, as they're the opposite in many ways, but so very necessary to what the Visionary wants to do. 

In fact, unlike the Visionary, the Strategist is not vision driven.  He's need driven.  Usually it's the need of the culture rather than himself, as well.  While they may act on their own behalf, the Strategist will usually latch onto the vision of a Visionary and follow that vision until it seems impractical.  The key word to any Strategist is "pragmatic", as they will attempt to do whatever is reasonable, or in Fenix's and Raynor's cases, morally right for the situation.

The reason why Strategists are not vision driven is that they are focused on the present tense, the right here, right now.  They can have trouble imagining a future that is better than their present circumstances, unless they've been in better cirucmstances before.  This is why they are frequently by the side of the Visionary, who can help the Strategist feel like their efforts are not in vain, but are going toward a cause.  However, the present tense view of the Strategist is not a disadvantage.  It enables to see the world around them with clarity and sensibility, and take reasonable action accordingly.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Protoss of Starcraft: a Leadership Allegory -- Tassadar

Hey y'all.  So I was thinking about Protoss characteristics the other day, as a part of the Me and Aldaris series I've been writing.  Yes, it's not dead.  Sorry I haven't updated in a while.  It's just that I'm at a bit of a tedious part right now, and I have to spice it up until we get to the real meat of what I intended the story to be.  I didn't expect that showing Aldaris Starcraft would take so long.

In any case, I was thinking about the themes of Starcraft and Brood War, and one of their themes is the idea of faulty leadership, for one reason or another.  Mengsk was deceptive, the Overmind is evil (shut up, Starcraft II), Aldaris was unyielding, Raszagal was manipulated, and DuGalle was weak-willed.  However, I noticed an alternate theme: each Protoss character represents a different type of leader, with different behaviors and characteristics that make them suitable for some situations, but horrible for others.  Raszagal and Aldaris were in situations they couldn't cope with, yet Tassadar, Zeratul and Fenix were, and thus were able to manipulate their circumstances much better.  Yet they were all leaders, even when they had other above them or seemed submissive.

Let's go through each type of leader, shall we?

=== The Visionary ===

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Nitpickery: Captain Sisko

Hey y'all.  I've been watching a lot of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine recently, and I was puzzling over the fact that Captain Benjamin Sisko never interfered in the Picard vs. Kirk conflict over which Star Trek captain was the best.  Granted, he's an easy third, but that's primarily because Janeway was boring and Archer's actor didn't even belong in the Star Trek universe.  Good for Quantum Leap, but not so much Trek.

Anyway, Captain Sisko is in charge of Deep Space Nine, a station that is near the planet Bajor and a wormhole to the Gamma Quadrant.  Thus, he's got the war aftermath between the Bajorans and the Cardassians to deal with, as well as whatever goes through the wormhole.  Isn't that situation at all interesting?

Note that the captains past Picard faced a problem.  The writers apparently felt that a starship captain had to refer back to the previous captains to be a good one, and Picard himself, like much from his series, set a precedent that the others had to follow, for some reason.

In fact, the reason why Kirk and Picard are so entertaining is that they're their own people.  Kirk is a swashbuckling type common in early sci-fi, and Picard's the anti-Kirk who is dignified and diplomatic.  Picard's writers felt no need to make him imitate Kirk, unlike the writers for the subsequent series.  Janeway, Sisko, and Archer all are forced into playing analogues for the two main captains.  One comment I read online even calls Janeway a male Kirk.

Thankfully for Sisko, Deep Space Nine allows him to break free of this.  Note, however, that I have several problems with this series.  It tries to do too much with too many over-arching plotlines, there's really no need to see all those female characters sleeping around, the commentary on capitalism through the Ferengi was uneducated and two dimensional, and most times the show tried to refer to previous series in the franchise, the attempts to do so were flat and uninteresting.

Despite this, DS9 managed to be an entertaining show, probably because it's far more character driven and emotional than the others -- it's not trying to follow Roddenberry's philosophy to a T, and thus it shows humans being human and not some sort of ultra-moral philosophers on spaceships.  It may not fit in so well with the past, but it's an entertaining show, and with television that's all that matters.

But back to Sisko.  So why isn't he up there with Kirk and Picard?  Let me sum him up before we get to the reasons I've guessed.  He's a guy from New Orleans, raised by a man who hates replicator food and taught his children to cook.  Sisko's ultimate goal was to become an Admiral, but through the death of his wife at the hands of Borg Picard, Sisko ends up at Deep Space Nine, a position which appears to be a dead end as far as careers go.  However, though the wormhole and, later on, war with the Gamma Quadrant Dominion, increases Sisko's importance.  Also, he's the Emissary of the Bajoran religion, communicating between them and their gods, the Prophets.  These Prophets, timeless creatures from the wormhole, are ultimately responsible for Sisko's birth, as it turns out, and they also end up responsible for his ultimate fate: to join them in the timeless space.

Okay, so knowing what we know, why isn't Sisko as popular as the two main captains?  Perhaps we can develop a theory.

- Sisko works on a station.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Why I Believe in God

Hey y'all.  Of late I've been having a discussion on Youtube, and yes, I know how the saying about arguing on the internet.  I've attempted to end the discussion though, because Youtube's writing limit makes talking pretty awkward.  That and I don't want to fill up the video maker's comments.  It's always really annoying to look for comments to talk about the video, and then all you see is somebody's argument, y'know?

In any case, this person on Youtube was saying that my beliefs in God were delusional.  I think I sort of missed a little of his point, as he said he wasn't calling me delusional directly.  To be honest, if I'm not "delusional" and God is wrong, then what am I?  What are all the believers, and not only the Christian ones?  Yeah, that's one of the odd things about atheists.  They're very argumentative against Christian thought, and yet don't seem to care too much about debunking other spiritual ideas, when in fact if one is atheist, then spirituality in its entirety has to be offensive, not the existence of just one God.  I just read a little news blurb where someone in a "church of atheism" has their own personal goddess (not the belief of the "church", but the individual quoted).  Then you've got the atheists who hate God, and yet claim not to believe in him.  Kinda pointless to hate things that aren't real.

Anyway, that's a little bit off topic.  This particular blog is meant to answer why I personally believe in God.  I am a rational, an INTP.  I'm supposed to be a thinker, someone who dwells on ideas and points out logical inconsistencies for the fun of it.  This is all true.  However, the very idea that a thinker or a scientist cannot believe in God is in and of itself silly and an idea created historically recently.  Sir Isaac Newton and Blaise Pascal were Christians, and Einstein himself was at least theist.  Everyone's favorite pop theologian, C.S. Lewis, a former atheist, joked he was dragged unwillingly through the gates of Heaven.

And that brings me to the basis of my argument with the Youtuber.  Logical thought vs. experimentation.  Both of these items are tools used by scientists of all sorts to come to conclusions and prepare their thoughts.  The atheist I was discussing things with spoke of my beliefs as being illogical based on logical thought, and insisted that no one who is rational would ever believe in God.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Purpose of Life

People have always wondered why people exist.  It's not good enough that humans evolved, or that random chance made life the way it is.  People crave a real reason for being, a purpose in their lives that makes them unique and special in the fabric of things.  The flaw, however, in this type of thinking, is that it assumes that what we do in life gives us value.  It does not ask the precursor question, "what makes me valuable as a person?"  Some would say that being alive gives value, other say that being a human gives value.

If you can put up with the perspective of a theologian, then keep reading.

Recently I finished reading Lewis Grizzard's book I Took a Lickin' and Kept on Tickin', And Now I Believe in Miracles.  I do recommend this story, sort of, despite the fact that it describes with a little too much detail Grizzard's medical history.  Considering he spends much of this book dealing with the weaknesses of his innately damaged heart, as well as how undignified life in a hospital gown can be, there are points where this book is not for the faint of heart.  However, there are good parts as well.  For example, he briefly touches on a visit to the Soviet Union (yes, this book is that old), and his perspective here is hilarious.  His humor is everywhere in this book, and if you want to read a southern comedian, Lewis Grizzard is your guy.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Nitpickery: My Little Pony

Hey y'all.  So I saw fit to write a blog on that whole Equestria Girls thing, and so why not talk about the show My Little Pony itself?  Like I said before, I'm not a brony.  I saw the show on Netflix because I was bored, and it was there.  I wish they would put Trading Spaces available for streaming, but what are you going to do?

So the show.  Yeah.  It's there.  Much of it is fairly standard kid's fare, what with learning a simplistic lesson at the end.  It's the story of Twilight Sparkle, a purple pony, and her candy colored friends, who together must operate the "elements of harmony" to stop bad guys and to learn lessons of friendship along the way, an obvious reference to the subtitle "friendship is magic".  This is the ultimate theme of the show.

While the ponies do have their adventures, most of the time they're just going through life normally, as normal a life as a magical pony can have.  They deal with things like bullies, sisterly conflict, worrying about careers, and making sure Ponyville has enough apples.  Okay.  Stuff.

The trouble with this concept is that people seem to have flocked to it rather insistently.  It's like the second coming of Star Trek, only cuter.  While I theorize that most franchises have some sort of loyal fanbase, until this point no fanbase has come to be known as so obsessive as Star Trek.  Even the rival Star Wars has fans that don't take their series as seriously as the Trekkers (though that may be George Lucas' fault).

The thing that made Star Trek unique was its philosophy: the idea that people in the future will overcome their petty bigotry and become super moral humans.  I personally feel that this is a silly, unrealistic goal, because morality does not evolve, as ancient child sacrifice and modern abortion prove.  Each person born knows nothing, and is only able to learn the lessons of morality from his sires.  Therefore, morality can't really progress all that well.  There are actually other problems with the Star Trek philosophy, but we'll get to that some other time.

What is both good and odd about My Little Pony is that it has a moral much more straightforward and harder to argue against: friendship is magical, and makes people better.  I would venture to say that the wrong friends are as harmful or worse than being alone, but y'know, whatever.  It is true that good friends make you a better person, so yeah, a good thematic basis there.  This, according to my estimation, is the source of the bronies' love.  They like all that love and tolerance schmuck.  There's only one problem with that.

This is a children's show!