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Good riddance.

That’s how it works, right? The New Year strangles the Old Year to death in a fit of psychotic rage?

I suppose I should be grateful. We’re doing fine, Chez Mustelid. But we’ve seen a lot of misery around us this year. And even though the prospects for the coming year aren’t exactly bright, I think I speak for all of us when I say, “fuck you, 2012!”

On a happier note, I finished the Portal franchise games, and yes…they were completely awesome right to the end. I was a little bummed, because Portal 2 includes a neat two-player game and I hasn’t got a gaming buddy.

So I went to YouTube, and sure enough, found an hilarious walkthrough (“an hilarious” – I insist). Now, you might think watching somebody else play a game would be a colossal bore, but you would be WRONG. These guys are funny, and it’s a relief not to have to solve the damn puzzles myself.

Even if you don’t like games, try watching the first installment and see if you don’t enjoy it. If you do, you’ll be pleased to know there are 16 more installments to go. (Yeah. They play the whole game through in 15-minute YouTubes). Make sure to HD and full-screen it for added enjoyment.

Now, it’s a vile, windy night, but we’re walking to a neighbor’s for a little light socialization, so y’all take care. Remember, the roads are brimming with drunks.

Happy New Year! We get to play with it first. (But Oceania got it before us. I hope he didn’t…get anything on it).

December 31, 2012 — 5:37 pm
Comments: 38

Technology’s here!

My copy of Photoshop CS6 arrived today. Yes, physical disk in the mail, if you please. For that kind of money, I want something made of atoms AND electrons. Why they chose to illustrate the box with an alopecia sufferer covered in Stridex acne pads, I have no idea.

This might be my last upgrade, depending on the direction Adobe goes.

To recap, for anyone interested, Adobe products have always been a bit expensive (but generally worth it). About ten years ago, they decided they wanted people to buy their products in whole suites, rather than individually. So they started giving individual packages eye watering prices.

So let’s say you’d pay $600 for Photoshop and $600 for Illustrator and $600 for Flash, but you’d only pay $1,500 for a suite that included those three products and three or four others. Great deal — provided you needed all that stuff and $1,500 wasn’t a whole shit-ton of scratch to you.

Then, a couple of years ago, they had a new idea. Instead of buying software, you could rent it. Yay! You’d pay a fee every month (currently $29 a month if you sign for a year), in return for which the software package (or suite of packages) on your computer was continuously updated as they improve the software. It’s called the Adobe Creative Cloud.

Does anybody like this? I don’t know. I sure don’t. I won’t have it.

Anyhow, they’ve made another change. Used to be, you could get the new software at the upgrade price for three versions. That is, if you had Adobe Shitmonkey1 you could buy Adobe Shitmonkey4 at the upgrade price. Now they’re saying they’ll make you make the jump every time. Every time. Honestly, there’s a new version every 18 months, and not a whole lot changes even in most major releases.

Adobe must be banking that thousands of sales to big fat corporate clients at ass-raping prices will make them more money than millions of sales to individual schmoes. I hope they’re wrong. Painfully wrong.

So. Upshot. I had until December 31 to upgrade my CS3 to CS6, after which I’d have to buy the full version at the full price. English prices are no joke (it’s the VAT, people!): upgrade £196 ($314), full version £608 ($973).


Feel free to keep talking about video games, anyhow. That’s a lot more interesting than software upgrades. It’s the last weekend of 2012! Let’s get this evil fucker of a year over with, hm?

December 28, 2012 — 11:10 pm
Comments: 65

My weighted companion cube

Before I euthanized it, obviously.

Playing my way through Portal and Portal 2 for the first time this Christmas. I know, I know…they’re getting on for six and three years old, respectively. I was a huge fan of the HalfLife games, but I put off playing Portal — mostly because I knew it was a puzzle game, and puzzles enrage me. I’m bad at puzzles, but I think I should be good at them on account of I am a smarty pants.

It makes me sad when things demonstrate that I am stupid.

BUT, as it turns out, the puzzles in Portal are highly visual, so I’m really pretty good at them. Yay!

Two things I want to mention. First, computer graphics have developed to the point that a six year old game still looks spectacular. The three year old game looks better, but only just. So we don’t have to chase that technology so hard at the moment.

And second, I am blown away by the maturity of the story line. I don’t mean mature like PG-13 mature; I mean it’s funny, subtle, clever and unexpected. The dialogue is wonderful, the plot is complex. It is not by any means just a puzzle game — or a shoot-em-up, for that matter.

This is as engaging as any movie or novel.

I know, I know…a certain percent of my readership hates computer game posts, but I am loving this thing so much. And I am positively determined not to talk current events until the New Year.

December 27, 2012 — 11:50 pm
Comments: 30

This is my uke. There are others like it, but this one is mine.

This is my ukulele. My sexy, sexy ukulele.

I shall call him Weenus.

It’s a proper musical instrument (though short of a $5,000 Martin uke). It has a surprisingly sweet tone (short audio clip of it here).

Fun fact: the uke is tuned like the bottom four strings of the guitar (well, it’s not. It’s gcea not dgbe, but the relationship is the same). So if you know any guitar chords, you can play it right away.

And, actually, it’s gCEA, meaning the top string is an octave higher. When the strings don’t go in order from lowest to highest, it’s called reentrant tuning (the five string banjo is tuned thusly, as well). It gives the chords an unexpected quality. You can *try* to make a horrible discordant sound with the uke, but somehow the result still sounds fun.

I hope you had as jaunty and deelightful a Christmas as we did!

December 26, 2012 — 5:23 pm
Comments: 25

Ho ho ho!

stoat in a hat

Meet up later and compare loot…!

December 25, 2012 — 12:00 pm
Comments: 36


Oh, for heaven’s sake people, they’re JINGLE BELLS.

They’re not butts. They’re not penises. They’re not testicles. They’re jingle bells.

December 24, 2012 — 6:00 pm
Comments: 32

Weasel of Turin

Pff, obviously. Just ran across this in my documents folder. It’s from an old website I did ages ago and then accidentally lost control of the domain name for.

Don’t diagram that sentence. I think you’d have to divide by zero.

December 21, 2012 — 11:02 pm
Comments: 43

Apple tree sex

We watched a program about apples last night. And it was interesting. The British are whoop-de-gaga about apples. They eat billions of them every year, in hundreds of varieties.

So. If you eat a Granny Smith for lunch and then you plant the seeds, the resulting trees will bear apples that are not a Granny Smith. In fact, each pip will grow into a unique tree.

Why is this? For the same reason your second child is probably not a lot like your first and neither of them are exactly like you: apples are genetically complicated. They’re the most genetically complicated fruit of all. There’s a mommy tree and a daddy tree and they each contribute genes in near infinite combination. There are more than 7,000 recognized varieties of apple, which doesn’t count all the unrecognized apple varieties that sucked.

Now, I am a complete horticultural illiterate, so y’all probably knew this already, but I didn’t.

So every single Red Delicious or Pink Lady is grown from cuttings off one tree (or, you know, cuttings off of cuttings off of cuttings) grafted onto a different rootstock. Turns out, we figured out how to graft plants back in the days of the Pharaohs.

The program visited the old lady with the original Bramley in her back yard (Bramley is the most popular cooking apple in Britain). Upwards of two hundred years old and still going strong (the tree, not the lady). When she realized the tree was actually growing in the garden next door, she bought the house next door.

The original Granny Smith, by the way, was discovered by Mrs Smith of New South Wales growing at a garbage dump. Word.

And then there’s the dude who found the Next Big Apple growing on the shoulder of the interstate (well, the A4260. They don’t have interstates here). Somebody cruising down the highway eating an apple, tossed the core and — walla — honking great apple tree with especially nice fruit.

Britons: potty about apples.

December 20, 2012 — 11:37 pm
Comments: 37

Postcards from the Renaissance

Look, it’s me! Freerunning across the rooftops of Renaissance Florence!

Yup, I’m playing my way through the Assassin’s Creed series, now that the first few are older and cheaper. The first one was a little brain-hurty, offing all those Crusaders. But it was awesome to parkour my way through Jerusalem and Acre.

Also, I discovered if you grab a beggar woman by the front of the robe and give her a shove, she falls down and you get to see her underpants. As to why I might want to see a beggar woman’s underpants, this chick was the most irritating indigent ever. “But you don’t understand, sir, I haven’t any munnay!”

Wham! Underpants!

As a nodding aside to current events, of course violent games are dangerous for potentially murderous crazy people. And violent movies. And music. And the next-door neighbor’s barking dog. But particularly games. They’re like dress rehearsals for atrocity. But we don’t really want to live in a world where everyone’s entertainment is tailored for the one-in-a-hundred-million, undescended violent nutcase, do we?

No. We do not. Thank you.

Anyway, I’ve just started Assassin’s Creed II. Renaissance Italy. Leonardo da Vinci has repaired my spring-loaded assassination blade.

Say, who in the HECK thought it was a good idea to start a game with a realistic childbirth scene? I’m a woman of fifty-something, and that shit makes me cringe.

— 12:09 am
Comments: 26

This cracks me up

I don’t know. Maybe you have to live here. But I can totally see the monster pausing his rampage for a refreshing cup of tea and a slice of toast (from a Daily Mail feature on horror movies on break).

Christmas is a week from today. Feel free to be unserious!

Or, you know, feel free to continue being serious, if you’d rather. And if the unserious comments and the serious comments bump up against each other in an awkward, embarrassing way, we can deal with that. Together.

December 18, 2012 — 10:47 pm
Comments: 49