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.