Friday, January 30th, 2015 11:29 pm
Korra was one of those shows, I watched and enjoyed but didn't really talk about much here. I'm really happy with how the series turned out -- my watching buddies will tell you that I was rooting for Korra/Asami all during the fourth season.

I really like the quiet nature of this vid. It's a character study of both Korra and Asami of their separate trials and how they come together. Quite lovely.

Home by Yuki no Haru

Friday, January 30th, 2015 03:30 pm
( You're about to view content which the journal owner has advised should be viewed with discretion. )
Friday, January 30th, 2015 10:56 am
Family was ... not driving, more like being chauffeured, in something like a small tour bus that was just us? ... to a mountain area called Shenandoah. The closer we got, the more vivid the colors became; the ocean (?) was super blue, the trees and grasses were super green, the flowers were every color of the rainbow.

We got as far as the driveable road went, a gravel parking lot on the edge of a field full of wildflowers, and as we got out a yellow bird with ornate plumage flew in and gave us each a kiss of welcome; I had a camera up to my face because I was trying to photograph everything, so the first kiss landed on the lens, but when I lowered the camera I got another on my forehead.

We walked the rest of the way to our (remote) cabin, and there was a stretch where -- through some escheresque arrangement -- we were high enough on the peak that we were in definite snow zone, but the ocean was high enough that it could wash up overlapping the path; not big splashy waves, but the sort of crawling shallow in-and-out that you get on beaches at the very edge of the waterline. And the residue of water that got left behind with each retreat froze to ice, even though the moving water never did.

The whole setting was just ... very peaceful; everything was beautiful, and despite the whole snow and ice thing it wasn't cold at all. And I didn't hurt at all, or feel tired, and just felt like I could go on walking forever.
Friday, January 30th, 2015 09:19 am
Civilization: Beyond Earth (Win (Steam)), 2014): simulation of multiple cultures in competition which, unlike its predecessors, brackets certain awkward and potentially offensive NorAm-centric assumptions. Apparently, either one understands that this is not Civ 5 with a different skin or one doesn't: the formal reviews divide neatly if not evenly between individuals excited about the things that BE offers, and individuals cranky about how it isn't exactly like Civ 5 and what are these aliens doing within my cultural sphere anyway and gosh aren't they hard to eradicate. Point missed indeed.

For the sort of player who plays enough games to hold a games-journalism job respectably, BE may not be very exciting. Neither was Civ II: Test of Time, the offshoot from Sid Meier's (ahem) railroading vision of global domination; Test of Time is the one with multiple official "modification" sets that totally transformed gameplay and gave it narrative triggers to go with the multiple maps. For the casual Civ player who never gets past the third difficulty setting (of, like, seven, IIRC) but has been noodling along steadily, BE is a great gift because its early gameplay rewards that manner of interaction. Don't try to churn out fifty military units or ten settlers at once; explore a lot, drop a colonist here and there, go for the technological advancements that protect explorers and keep the aliens less angry with you; slow the hell down.

In short, for my sense of the game (with a few successful easy campaigns beneath my belt), the Eurogamer review gets it mostly right, and the IGN review is an ignorant piece of jingoistic malarky. I have been playing Civ since the first one---haven't skipped any---and my favorites are Test of Time followed by 4: Beyond the Sword, FWIW. Alpha Centauri was a good idea not well implemented, for my tastes, and BE improves self-consciously upon it.

Though the BE production team could've done a lot more with the concept, then only gameplaying readers of thinky SF prose would like the damned thing; someone has to pay Firaxis. Also, at least the tech tree of the earlier games---easily the weakest part of them, conceptually speaking---is overhauled completely in favor of a cluster map reminiscent of Final Fantasy X/XII/XIII. I have hated that reductionist tech tree since 1991, you guys. Will Partin's review offers a good summary, I think.

That said, I notice that I haven't played any BE since last October. hmm. Knitting is easier during Dragon Age: Origins and now Inquisition than BE, but it's probably the persistence of a storyline, even though those of both DA games irritate me a bit.
Friday, January 30th, 2015 02:42 am
Last night was the deadline for papers for a certain internal conference. Not the one I'm running, but the hella one that both lb and Purple were planning to submit papers for. lb submitted his in what must have been a sensible amount of time before the deadline. Up past the point we headed out of work last night (and I had occasion to explain Frank Chu very briefly in the parking lot, much to Purple's utter crogglement), Purple's conclusion was a succinct "(conclusion goes here)" sort of affair, which is more effective in a draft than in a submitted paper. I looked it over. I made a few comments, including a tentative go at a framework of a conclusion.

"$WORKNAME is fine, right?" Purple asked me. "For the paper?"

I reloaded the draft in the public folder of his server share and found my work-standardized legal name in the acknowledgements, tucked in with Mr. Bananas, his manager, lb, and a few other people. Yes, $WORKNAME is best because people can look me up by it. He got back online after getting home, and kept working on things.

It makes me quietly happy that I'm developing a few editing shorthand phrases that I can use with Purple. "Yoda" is one of them. Sometimes when he turns a sentence around, it turns out that he meant something entirely different than the first phrasing implied to me. Things like "it" and "this" sometimes have to get explicitly called, and sometimes, yep, different.

Azz: "Sounds good, Unit Test Jesus."
Purple: "I hope I don't find Unit Test Judas."

He got it submitted a comfortable hour-ish before deadline. By the end, I was able to say, "and it does not aesthetically offend me :)" He took that as the compliment it was meant as.

Azz: "unlike that combination of shirts :-P"
Purple: "that was the camel shirt with the fluorescent green shirt right?"
Azz: "yes"
Purple: "Shame I don't have purple pants"
Azz: "... ... ... you fucking eyetroll <3"

I took a long time to get to sleep last night, so I didn't wake up in time for the presentation I wanted to go to. (Purple, for his part, decided that he was going to wake up slowly reading, and then got a fifteen-minute alarm chime for the presentation, so he dialed in because there is no way to physically make it from his place to work in 15 minutes, and in any event he had been in bed at this point.) Then I had to refuel Vash, so that took longer.

Today I remembered to bring the sack of sawed-off pool noodles to work. I debated bringing one with me to lunch for Purple, but instead brought one to the conference meeting for the chairs. I gave it to Researcher Polka-Dot, and told her that it was a sawed-off pool noodle, and useful for keeping order. She was delighted, and toted it with her for the next three hours of meetings.

It was a long day full of meetings. I am really going to have to see if D16 is unoccupied before the team meetings, because going directly from the committee meeting upstairs to the team meeting is really a pain as it is at the opposite end of the building from the elevator. Since my knees and stairs shouldn't even be in the same sentence, you can imagine how well this goes. (Also, I tend to need the bathroom every hour because I drink a ridiculous amount of water to keep everything else happy, especially in meeting rooms which are overheating, which introduces more time between meetings.)

So today was the off-week for the team meeting, but our (gulp) acting director tracked down one of the higher-ups steering one of the products the team does a lot of work with, and he introduced himself and had some things to say, and the team had questions.

I am not freshly up on all the latest testing methods and also jargon, but the guy said a thing about a testing strategy which I had never heard of before. I wrote it down, resolved to google it later, and asked what his thoughts/familiarity with unit testing was. He had no thoughts, being zero familiar. I hoped that we had not just met Unit Test Judas.

After all that, the (fairly substantial) committee set off for the location where we are to hold the (small) internal conference. Since we were leaving from the ass-end of the building, we went down the stairs. That was two stairs today. I am bad at stairs. Madam Standards looked for me and waited for me to catch up. She is beginning to doubt the concept that I just ~*appear*~ everywhere. I explained the usual method.

Shenanigans resulted in some running around where Madam Standards went off with the people who were going UP the STEPS, despite her plan to walk back with me because she'd forgot her badge. Then she went back but by that time I'd already gone up in the elevator, then we were headed back but she wanted to scope out the power outlets, and so we went back...

By the end of all that, I'd exceeded my steps by a few hundred. I complained to Purple a bit. He was ... "helpful".

Now that I was back at my desk, I shared the hope that this guy is not Unit Test Judas. We all googled the test thing that he had mentioned. Purple, who knows more about testing ideologies than I do, declared that it wasn't quite even a buzzword, as one of the major requirements for a buzzword is buzz. This testing ideology had about as many other supporters besides the clickbait bingo bandits who have their writeup paywalled off as there are other plaintiffs in Frank Chu's labor dispute against the 12 Galaxies.

Eventually it was time to go. This time, I was the holdup -- I'd decided to go ahead and book the conference room we were planning for the green room. It didn't say it was restricted in the calendar system, so I set up an appointment. Then I got the rejection message -- it was restricted after all. Drat it. So I would have to file two tickets: one to ask for the room, and one to ask that the room be named to reflect its status (in accordance with the standards).

I filed the ticket to book the room. In doing so, I discovered that there were two ranks of tickyboxes, none of which were relevant to my needs in booking, but both of which were required, with no 'n/a' selection. So I would have to file a third ticket about that. Then, upon submitting, I saw that the terrible green UI showed up blank, although the terrible blue and white UI showed the details. Fourth ticket.

Again, I was still swearing when Purple came to retrieve me. I thanked him for being supportive and listening while I wrestled with the fucking thing. We headed out by way of the kitchen -- I had grabbed some toast and hot chocolate earlier, and had a plate and cup to drop in the dishes -- but the kitchen floor was being actively washed. I left the plate on a nearby table, as this was the lesser inconvenience.

He didn't see my car at first. "Where did you park?" "Near you." We rounded whatever it was that was blocking the view, and he saw the little white sedan in the space right next to his car, and he mused that he had in fact been in to work a little later than he'd planned on, due to the presentation that morning.

We chatted for a while in the parking lot.

Purple: "And the guy was -- what's-his-name, British, in a lot of romcoms..."
Azz: "...Alan Rickman?"
Purple: *doubles over laughing* "You're certainly watching different things than I am!"
Azz, slightly defensively: "The only British [male] actors I know are: Alan Rickman, Bendydick Cummerbund, Sir Ian, Sir Patrick... Oh! And John Cleese! Eric Idle! Eric-the-half-a-Bee!"
Purple, howling with laughter: "ERIC THE HALF A BEE IS NOT A REAL ACTOR. HE'S A BEE. HALF A BEE."

Somehow (via "Bad Touch") we got onto the time I sprayed myself in the face with glitter, twice, as a result of being too tired to play with physics.

We hugged goodnight. We still had a few words left. Then I bent over a bit, exposing the top of my head to him. He scritched me gently on the head, then told me I was weird. :)
Thursday, January 29th, 2015 11:40 pm
I have not been around much, but I have been very busy. I'm finishing up one story for self-pub, and editing a second, and going through all else it entails.

Secondary to all of this, I've been strongly considering trying a go at publishing erotica. I have been for a very long time, in fact. The problem, unfortunately, is that I have a very hard time actually coming up with anything even remotely erotic. I know where to go for cover images, I've looked into the merits of separating out pen names so people looking for high fantasy adventure don't get a face full of cock, and vice versa. But I have absolutely no idea what I'd even start to write about. I'm incredibly tempted to just cannibalise the world building from my current series and go for high fantasy face full of cock, which, you know. Could at least satisfy some of the kink aspect, if nothing else.