Got Sammie on and did some work decorating Norah's house, like I promised a long time ago and said I would get back to after Christmas holidays were over. Wow, those prefab castles have a lot of rooms when you put the stairs in place so you can access the upper floors! She didn't have enough stairs for everything, so I will have to make some stairs up using the layout editor, another day.
Played some more Stardew Valley (of course), and, in Real Life, caught up my backlog of unopened mail and unfiled papers. Found all my tax paperwork. Yay! Not that I'm going to do my taxes just yet, but it's nice to have most of it in one place. Set aside an inbox for Becky's mail, instead of having it all over the breakfast table. It kept getting lost under my old mail. I feel virtuous for getting some real clean-up done.
Does every season 2 episode of "The Flash" end on a cliff-hanger? It's making it hard to watch only one episode a night, I keep wanting to see more. Last night, we watched another episode of "Midsommer Murders", and they don't do cliff-hangers. On the other hand, "Midsommer Murders" suggests that rural England is populated entirely by miserable people in unhappy marriages who are sleeping around with everyone but their spouses, except where it is populated by in-bred aristocrats who've gone off the deep end over the importance of their ancient bloodline. "Snobby aristocrat" is a funny stereotype--are there really people like that, who don't get that the only difference between them and the plebs is that their revered medieval ancestor was the horse thief or mercenary adventurer or fishwife that married well, instead of them?
Finally, I'm actually adding some lines to that Starscream story. Galvatron and his team are entering stage left, and Astrotrain hates everyone.
ETA: In "The Flash", the non-relationship between Zoom and Caitlin Snow reminded me of (and contrasted with) the relationship I have written between Skyfire and Starscream. Starscream is just as big a monster as Zoom--the difference is twofold. One of them is that Skyfire has shown that he can and will kill Starscream if Starscream steps over the line--Caitlin really can't do that to Zoom. Two, Skyfire does care for Starscream, and Starscream knows that, and Starscream really does want to be loved by Skyfire, and won't risk losing that. Caitlin Snow doesn't love or even like Zoom, and I think Zoom is well aware of this, no matter how much he'd like to think otherwise--so there is no possiblity of losing her love and respect to restrain him.
Starscream/Skyfire works because, as I have written them, there is no power imbalance; they are equals. Zoom/Caitlin (egads, I hope no one seriously writes that, but knowing fanfic, they probably do) can't work because she is his helpless prisoner, not his equal.
Sammie and Deanne went out adventuring in Bonemire yesterday, catching up on quests. Quests that turned out to have follow-on quests upon follow-on quests. At least of two of which lead into heroic dungeons, so we're saving those for Guild group night. I'd say "screw it" at this point and move to Kunark, but I want enough Drednever Expedition faction to buy stuff from their faction merchant--they sell Sky-themed furniture that's the same as certain quest rewards from the various aviak quests in Barren Sky, and aviak-Sky stuff fits real well in Maj'Dul-style houses (fantasy Arabic) and Sammie has a Maj'Dul-type house.... Yes, I like to decorate.
We also messed around working on various tradeskill faction quests for the Far Seas Supply Division, and Ivana finished out her Tupta baseline faction, and is starting on the dailies.
Elsa was terrified by the thunderstorm; it's always sad seeing a person or an animal so scared. I don't know what to do about that--she doesn't howl, she just cowers and shivers in terror. We have more thunderstorms incoming today; I used to enjoy a wild thunderstorm, but seeing Elsa terrified spoils that now.
I stared at the stub end of that Starscream story, and am starting to mull over ideas on where to go next. Oh wait, I forgot Galvatron's team! They should get a bit of story, too, and I completely forgot them. Whelp, guess I know what I'm writing about soonish.
Stardew Valley advanced another few days; it's now Spring 3 of Year 4. I finally have all my crops growing under sprinklers, which frees up a little time. Still have to care for the livestock, though, and I need more sprinklers, preserve jars, kegs, and places to put them. I think I should have a separate barn for the pigs, as they don't require milking and such like and just get in the way when I am taking care of the cows and goats. I'm working on villager friendships--I've decided to flirt with all the eligible single people in the Valley, and get all of my boy- and girlfriends up to 10 friendship before marrying. I still suck at fishing, and I haven't found the bottom of the mines yet.
Did the monthly reboot of Cybertron (the minecraft server), and that appears to be doing okay. I'm watching Direwolf20's 1.7.10 Let's Play, and it's a lot more applicable to Cybertron than the Forgecraft 1.10.2 stuff is. I'm even getting a few ideas, like automating sorting and initial ore processing better. I'd already decided to move the TiCon smelter some place else, as it is just a roadblock in my main path through my base. Hand-sorting ores and deciding which goes in which processing machine got old a while back, so making some auto-processing is a must.
Looking stormy today, but that's for today's post, not yesterdays, which this is. Later, later.
Ivana (my carpenter) got a bunch of factioning with Clan Grobb done--Zubzub sent me out to collect the ingredients for a plate of spiced rats, and cook it. I'd comment about troll tastes in grub, but Ivana is a Sarnak (large dragon-lizard person), so she thinks it's delish. The Tuptans have a more important problem for their faction quests: termites are eating the giant tree their village is built on. We're seeking some pest control. More to come on that tomorrow.
After last night's re-read, I'm convinced "Spearmaker" is off to a good start. Now I just need to figure out where to go next with the story, which I think is the reason I just stopped before--no idea what to write next. Grrr-Arrgh.
I think I'll play some Stardew Valley before bed.
Caught up a few Wake posts, and Dead End is harassing Kup in dear_player. TheOldOne posted some bugs about armor values to my Issues pages on GitHub, so I should look into them sometime this weekend. Also, I keep forgetting to post breakout coordinates for the Skyflyer Skiff to the Housing forum thread for breakout coordinates. My bad.
I'm re-reading the Starscream story I was last working on, and thinking about playing a turn or two of Stardew Valley, which I haven't in a day or two. Oh, and we watched another episode of "The Flash" on Netflix. Barry ain't too happy about losing his powers.
Tomorrow begins this month's Moonlit Enchantment event on EQ2, where fairy grottos appear for just two days--fairy grottos where you can buy lots of lovely plants and other natural decor for your houses. As you can imagine, I frequent those grottos. Also, some guy is being inaugurated tomorrow.
ETA: didn't get around to SDV, spent time following some links to some videos by some game dev refuting FemFreq. He had a lot of good points, but I think he missed the hot potato in GamerGate. It wasn't just about "ethics in video game journalism". OTOH, I am up to here with 3rd Wave, sex-negative "feminists" infantilizing woman and portraying us all as damsel-in-distress victims who can't handle a small boy misbehaving, let alone talk to adult men like they are equals. Go away, I didn't ask for you to MIS-represent me. I'm a 2nd wave, old-school equity feminist, not a walking victim of the patriarchy.
I won't talk about work. That leaves hobbies and Real Life and opinions. Hobbies are all over the place, but mostly involve gaming and RPing, these days. Also modding, which is writing software for games. At one time, I used to write little software utilities for tabletop RPs, but that was a long time ago--like, when DOS and Turbo Pascal were things. I had a nice little elaborately detailed treasure generator for AD&D, based on the tables from Powers & Perils. I also wrote a weather generator based on the tables in the back of the AD&D Wilderness Survival Guide, and I still have my huge Traveller sector generator program based on the Megatraveller system generation tables. Anyone see a pattern here? I'm actually porting that Traveller program to Java, as Java practice, and combining it with a very ancient X-Windows C program to draw pretty maps of sub-sectors. It should scale up to sectors if done properly. Much of the aforementioned crap was done decades ago, but the source code is upon my website somewhere. Along with archives of ancient Megatraveller ship designs.
These days, my hobby programming is primarily Minecraft modding, and putting together the occasional Minecraft modpack. Most of what I'm modding are other people's mods that I took over when they abandoned the Minecraft modding scene. I never did get back to my own mods, as Simple Ores and akkamaddi's stuff takes up all my leisure modding. Of course, I've rewritten them so much they might as well be my mods.
State of the RP: I sometimes play Dead End at The Wake. Fellow Transformers fans may remember that I used to write Stunticon fanfiction; I still like the crazy boys. I've also tried my hand at playing Hellbender again at Cyberformed, but I'm just not feeling him. He played best off Becky's Hook and Ladyboss's Shockwave, and it's not the same without them. Fortunately, Cyberformed has almost no AC, so I can just coast until I get sorted out.
Writing: I haven't been. Perhaps I should set my computer up to boot to Linux first, instead of Windows, as Linux-side is where I keep my manuscripts. Windows is where the games dwell. When I get back to writing, Starscream is still waiting for me to continue "Spearmaker". Certain original characters are waiting in the wings, as well--Shani the Nubian would like me to recount her adventures across the ancient Hellenic world. She'd also like me to figure out a true Nubian name for her, instead of random Swahili, and change the name of that idiot Greek merchant she travels with. Characters can be so picky! I've also got villains who want me to put them in stories, but they do need me to find heroes to stand against them. (Seth Kane insists he makes a fine villain protagonist and his enemy is worse; I'm like, nooo... let's find a real hero somewhere, then you can reluctantly help the hero by way of double-crossing your enemy. Also, let's pick a less-obvious nom de guerre. Seriously.)
Gaming: ooh, boy. I watch Direwolf20 videos, which get me fired up to play Minecraft, then go play Stardew Valley, which has eaten my evenings. Awesome game. It's also a relaxing contrast to the usual action/adventure MMORPGs I play. The little bit of combat is pretty simple, especially if you luck out like I did and get the Galaxy Sword right after repairing the bus. (Best weapon in the game, and I got a prismatic shard out of a geode from the quarry, right after it opened).
There's a new expansion out for the Everquest2 Time-locked Expansions server, Stormhold, where Steve & I play: The Shadow Odyssey. Early word is they actually got itemization, progression and balance right this time, so maybe more people will be happy. I just know that it opens up a bunch more furniture recipes that my carpenter needs to grind faction for--I like decorating, okay? I still need to get 2 of my big 4 crafters to cap and do their tradeskill epics. Not to mention work on leveling Sammie, my highest-level adventurer. And I have so many houses to decorate! Oh, and then there's the live server I still have characters on, and there's a new expansion, with more tradeskill stuff....
Becky & Tai are playing WoW, which has me somewhat interested. I at least installed the free Starter version and am playing around now and then with Bedywyr, a human warrior. It's deja vu all over again, because the last time I played 'free trial', I had a human character... and humans always start in Northshire/Goldshire. Same hand-holding quests. I would have been bored to tears (and briefly was), except that I finally figured out how to open my crafting menus and play around with crafting. Yay! I don't know that WoW-boy will get much play, because of so much to do in all my other games, but you never know.
I just finished re-reading Diasporah by W. R. Yates. As far as Google can tell me, it was the only book he ever wrote. My guess is it was his first novel, it tanked, and he either stopped writing, or wrote his 2nd novel under a different pseudonym. Sadly, it was not good. It was not as bad as a few published things I've seen, but it wasn't good. The author was way too fond of showing off all his world-building and research, and pacing suffered badly from it. Also, possibly because I had read it before, the "big reveal" at the end was quite obvious from all the clues dropped. Foreshadowing is normally good, so things don't come out of left field and make no sense, but when they make the climax of the story entirely predictable, that's not good. Finally, the author's pro-Israeli politics were downright anvillicious and character-distorting--all the Jewish characters are interesting, three-dimensional characters, Israel's massive paranoia and arm's race is entirely justified, and all their enemies are stereotypical anti-Semites or stock totalitarian thugs. Except for, of course, for the stereotypical Japanese who were allies. Boring. The author would have been better off taking some of the word-count devoted to the engineering of the Svengild and spending it on showing us in more detail why the U.N. was a ruthless dictatorship and why the French space cities were viciously anti-Semitic and actively trying to destroy the Israeli orbital city while the U.N. looked the other way. (The reasons were told in a few sparse lines somewhere mid-book--and since the virtual undeclared war by the French space cities drove the whole damn plot, a little more detail about the whys and wherefores might have been helpful.) All in all, it was a useful review of 'mistakes not to make in writing one's first novel'.
The only reason I'm not nuking my old LJ accounts is that the Russians already have the server contents; it would be pointless. However, I am de-linking all Dreamwidth RP accounts from the LJ accounts; there will be no crossposting or cross-commenting after this post, tonight.
[*] Translation: all indications are that the servers have been rehosted in Russian, and all information on them is now under the purview of the Russian security apparatus. Govern yourselves accordingly.
To wit, posts I have found somewhat useful for Minecraft modding, particularly 1.7.X. This list will be changing over time, hopefully growing, but also having outdated stuff pruned from it.
Not all modding tutorials are useful. Some are outdated, and some were written by people with a shaky grasp on Java, how Minecraft works internally, the MinecraftForge source, or all three. A lot of them are uninformative, because the authors start at the beginning and never get to advanced topics, so you have a lot of tutorials on how to make a basic block, but very few (if any) on how to add new items to the ore dictionary or render entities or add new crafting interfaces.( Read more... )
It's too damn much work to keep three separate, incompatible ways of writing Minecraft mods straight in my head. Git is great for keeping the 3 branches of code separate, but I don't have a Git for my brain, so, one port to rule them all, one port to bring them all and in the compiler bind them. Long live 1.9.4!
Also, Mojang has already announced the first 1.10 snapshot, so as far as I'm concerned, 1.7.10 development is dead and overdue for burial.
Officially, the planets of the Solar System are:
3. Earth-Moon double planet
4. Ceres, which has a lot of asteroids in the same orbit, too.
10. Pluto-Charon double-planet
Unofficialy, we're pretty sure of several more:
14. Orcus (who let the D&D players name things?)
15. 2002 MS4
18. 2007 OR10
There are 5 more Trans-Neptunian Objects that are "highly likely" candidates for dwarf planet. (Up to 24 planets now...)
And researches expect that with complete exploration of the Kuiper Belt (that big asteroid belt beyond Pluto's orbit), we may find 100-200 more. Add stuff beyond the Kuiper Belt, and we're talking thousands.
When I was a kid, we had just 9 planets, and discussion of planets around other stars (exoplanets) was confined to science fiction. Welcome to the 21st century.
The first bit is the protagonist: I gather that Austen thought Radcliffe's heroines were precious little Mary Sues (she would have completely understood the modern concept) and deliberately made her heroine the opposite: plain, not incredibly intelligent, indifferent as to education, not especially virtuous and obedient as a daughter, not inclined to writing poetry or the arts, but just Jane Average and a tom-boy. Her parents are pointedly not tragically dead, nor are they cruel guardians--they are laid-back, agreeable people who love their children.
Of course, the girls in the story have been reading Udolpho and think it is the most awesome thing since sliced bread... at first. Later on, our protagonist gets herself in a bit of embarrassment because she lets her Udolpho-inspired imagination run away with her and imagines a cruel tragedy committed by her boyfriend's father--but the hidden manuscript turns out to be someone's forgotten laundry list, and the general's "guilty aversion" to the portraits and topic of his dead wife are the still-lively grief of a man whose beloved wife died when he was away on vital business and couldn't get home in time to be at her bedside. Our heroine realizes (after her dryly-sarcastic boyfriend points it out) that dark, tragic secret crimes might be possible in isolated manors in southern France of the mountains of Italy, but in midlands England, where everyone is all over his neighbor's business and a servant can't sneeze without everyone in the county gossiping about their cold, and our legal system really doesn't go along with that sort of thing? Yeah, no.
The titular abbey turns out not to be the "romantic" ruin Catherine imagined it to be--her boyfriend's family has modernized and expanded the place, because it's where they live, and wealthy families don't camp in ruins. (It would appear Catherine missed the part in Udolpho where Montoni was having the castle repaired and modernized, too...) After seeing how many servants the general has to maintain the abbey, Catherine becomes skeptical of just how realistic her gothic novels are, that have one or two old servants maintaining an empty manor or castle.
Finally, Austen clearly disliked the bad romance trope mentioned in my remarks on Mysteries of Udolpho: stupid misunderstandings that persist for half the book that could be cleared up by five minutes of conversation. Several places she pointedly has Catherine NOT jump to the conclusion that someone's brother or sister who she has not met yet is their secret lover so they can have a big misunderstanding over it.
It's solidly in the romance genre, as defined now: girl meets boy, various obstacles keep them apart, obstacles vanquished by end of novel, girl and boy get married live happily ever after. The "gothic' part of Mysteries is purely atmospheric, as all the apparently supernatural events are explained away by human action.
That being said, there's a reason that literature classes study Jane Austen and not Ann Radcliffe--she's just not that good. Jane Austen is much, much better.
Issues I had with the novel, such that I can see why Jane Austen parodied Mysteries of Udolpho in Northanger Abbey (It's on my To Be Read list):
Women in 2-D!
There are four types of major female characters in the novel:
- innocent, young, beautiful upper-class girls, who are so sensitive and innocent that they inconveniently faint whenever anything exciting happens, or when the idea of anything exciting happens. Someone needs to loosen their corset stays or something.
- hysterical servant women.
- Kind, generous, compassionate and conveniently deceased upper-class ladies who are relatives.
- Shallow, spendthrift, self-centered to the point of meanness, and living upper-class matrons who are relatives. Something tells me that Ann Radcliffe did not get along well with her older female relatives.
Elizabeth Bennett would have been embarrassed by the lot of them.
As in Tolkien's work, we get a lot of the author's poetry randomly interspersed in the novel, purportedly written by the various characters. This is one case where I would have preferred the character's poetry writing to be an Informed Attribute. The poetry is distracting, not that great, and interrupts the flow of the story. (And, in the E-book I was reading, incorrectly formatted, which really didn't help)
Idiot Plots and Informed Attributes
These are connected, as we have several characters--the heroine Emily St. Aubert and the secondary parental figure Count de Villefort who are described as rational, anti-superstition, trained in reason and philosophy, who nevertheless behave like irrational idiots.
In Villefort's case, the otherwise skeptical man who doesn't believe rumors of hauntings and suchlike is willing to believe every bad rumor he's heard about Valancourt's(the romantic lead) character, in spite of having met the man in person and knowing his family. This only happens when the plot requires it, of course.
In Emily's case, in spite of supposedly being quite anti-superstition and a rational devotee of Reason, she's quick to assume every weird thing must be a supernatural horror and doesn't look for alternative explanations--when the plot requires it.
And let's not forget that classic bad romantic trope, the tragic misunderstanding that keeps the couple apart for half the book that could have been cleared up with five minutes of honest conversation.
ETA: One minor thing that drove me nuts several places in the book: our heroes, both male and female, have the singular ability to lose a mountain trail in broad daylight, not find the well-known inn their accompanying guides supposedly were taking them to, and insist that the cleverest thing to do is keep on walking in the dark looking for the missing inn. In the mountains, complete with floridly described cliffs and chasms. In the dark. Because obviously that's the way to find a place--try to walk off random drop offs in the dark.
Seriously, someone needs to teach these people the concept of "making camp at dusk". If you can't find the inn, guess what, you can sleep in the carriage and your useless guides can at least tend the fire and keep watch.
The author has an explicit Aesop tacked on in the afterword: good, virtuous people triumph in the end and live happily ever after while evil people die horribly even if they temporarily get to push around the good guys. Not only is this obviously not true in Real Life, it's not true in the book. The completely innocent Marchioness dies painfully of poison, the merely shallow but not evil Madame Montoni (neé Cheron) dies badly; the gentle, kindly father Mons. St. Aubert dies of illness after losing his family fortune and outliving his wife and the Marchioness (who he loved as a young man), leaving his beloved daughter an impoverished orphan, and the completely honorable Mons DuPont drifts out of the book at the end, sad over unrequited love. The real Aesop is "if you are a main character that the author likes, you get to live happily ever after", but that's hardly a surprise.
The implicit Aesop is that one should use reason and control one's emotions and do not trust rumors and appearances, but investigate things that don't make sense. It would have been a much shorter book if the major characters who were supposed to be rational had done that. On the other hand, IF Emily had listened to the rumors around Montoni's character and run off with Valancourt instead of following her guardian aunt to Italy with her new husband Montoni, it would have been a much shorter book. Or at least a different one. Admittedly, Emily neither acted on the rumors nor did she investigate the matter rationally--she did nothing and just went along with things (not that she had much chance to investigate).
In general, Emily was just the kind of overly-sensitive, excessively sheltered twee character that I just want to grab and shake some sense into. Not that it would help, she'd just faint and be feverish for days over the shock to her senses. (Maybe she needs some quinine for that recurring illness?)
Her reaction to Valancourt's supposed disgrace was, frankly, not mine. My reaction would have been: "Clean up your act, get out of debt, and come back when you've proven you can control yourself and your spending habits and then we'll talk." Incidentally, that would have provided him an opportunity to realize that what "I" had heard about him was possibly not the same as what he actually did. Instead, Emily was all weeping and crying and "You have lost my esteem FOREVER, go away and don't even try to talk to me," without mentioning what he'd supposedly done, since obviously he knew how disgraceful he'd been.
This book would have been thrown at the wall several times if I weren't reading it on an e-reader that wasn't built for that kind of abuse. I am looking forward to reading Northanger Abbey to see just what kind of takedown Jane Austen did to it.
Maybe if I just dumped all the 'follows' that brought up the Cause du Jour and kept only the Transformers pron & RP ones, I'd enjoy it more.
I haven't written anything except RP posts in ages, which is usually a sign that I'm not in good mental health. Right now I'm not in good physical health--got an inflamed tendon in my elbow, aka "tennis elbow", and wearing a wrist stabilizer (yes, you use it for the elbow condition too, as the tendon in question is pulled on by the muscles that make your hand grip tightly) makes it cumbersome and slow to type.
State of the Cynthia: I have tennis elbow, I'm working on Minecraft mods (slowly), I'm employed still, the spouse is in good shape after years of all kinds of not-fun hospital stuff, and I'd like a dog and some large cats. Also, someone needs to clean the fish tank, it's 3 weeks overdue and one arm is out commission.
I don't get stuff done, I feel guilty about it, and then continue to not do stuff.
I get hyper-sensitive about other people's interactions with me, and avoid people because I don't know how to deal with them when I'm depressed, and then get lonely because I never talk to people anymore.
I can't handle disapproval or criticism at all when I'm like this; it makes me just curl up into a ball of misery--even if the other person is wrong and an idiot. (See above paragraph).
My usual consolations seem boring and pointless--I'm just wasting me time doing nothing useful, when I should be doing all that useful stuff I haven't been doing (see paragraph #2).
I don't get enough sleep, which makes me more depressed, so I stay up late because I'm too depressed to end the pointless day by going to bed.
I really hate this shit.