The New Year – 2016

 

Blog Segment - Peeking Through The Window copyYou know, typically, I’m not big on the whole New Year’s Resolutions thing. It has always felt a little bit weird to me to have a specific time of the year to say “Things are going to be different, now!” when that’s generally the sort of thing that I would assume we should be ready to do, and be serious about, on any given day. If anything, having a national holiday (kinda) for it makes me realize all the more how bad I am at keeping “resolutions.” Despite this, I find myself here about to write down a little bit of a wrap up for last year, and a look ahead to this one, with a little of resolve for solutions thrown in the mix. So let’s get started.

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Bioshock Teaches Libertarianism to Coyote Who Doesn’t Learn Anything.


Oh don’t you worry, we’ll talk about those Libertarian kitties shortly. I didn’t choose that image for nothing. But today I’ve also got some musings on a book series I’ve been reading recently, and a few observations regarding my recent transition of jobs. Oh, and there’s some news in here somewhere about another expansion of the family, but we’ll get to that too. Let’s begin, shall we?

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As you no doubt have noticed by a review I posted over a week ago, I’ve started a new science fiction series lately by Allen Steele by the name of “The Coyote Trilogy” recently. We’ll I’ve got the second book’s review up and ready to read right here – “Coyote Rising”, and I’ve already finished the third book, “Coyote Frontier” and I’ll be plowing through “Coyote Horizon” shortly, I hope. I know this seems like a sudden burst of reading activity, and it sort of is, but really, I read through book series’ at a decent clip, I just have a hard time starting. Once I’d read “Coyote” it was a done deal, so long as it was good, which it was.

This segment is mostly a plug for my review of “Coyote Rising”, but as I’ve finished “Coyote Frontier” already (keep an eye out for that review sometime this next week), I thought I’d share a few of my opinions of the series as a whole. This will be lightly spoilerish for the series, and I’ll be assuming your familiarity with the material. Some of this will be reiterated in the “Frontier” review, no doubt, but I might as well explore those waters now.

Speaking of exploration, if I have one great disappointment with the series, it is the lack of the exploratory sensations of the first book being carried into the rest of the series. There were brand new horizons, uncharted waters, strange new life forms, etc. in “Coyote.” You get glimpses of new places and terrain in the following books, but never anything particularly exciting. There is a notable exception if you count the native inhabitants, but it is a small serving that doesn’t satisfy my hunger. Perhaps I shouldn’t have come into the second book with expectations, but then that upsetting of expectations is consistent across the whole series so far.

And that is at the heart of what I wanted to say here. These books, for all that they build off of the of one another, and for all that some mysteries or threads get tied up, never feel like a “Trilogy” so to speak. What I mean by that, is that each one wraps itself up very nice and tidy, except for some particular strings that never get satisfactorily followed up on in the next installment. The overarching plot of the three books, the theme so to speak – if perhaps more appropriately called tone, is different from one book to the next. I’ve not been really disappointed with the sequels, as you will discover in my reviews, but neither have I been truly satisfied. Steele has create a great new world here, and in some ways I wanted to step through the pages and turn aside from where he was taking me, to explore this world myself.

I just noticed that I essentially complained this series wasn’t a video game. That actually sounds like a really interesting idea.

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Speaking of Video Games, have I got a story for you. See, apparently, the founder of Pay Pal, and one of the early investors of Face Book (aka a super rich guy) by the name of Peter Thiel has taken up the cause of creating A Wholly Independent City-State in the Middle of the Ocean Based Entirely On Libertarian Theory of Government. The idea is essentially to build an oil-platform type of construction in international waters where like-minded individuals can come and escape “the laws, regulations, and moral codes of existing countries.”

And really, aren’t these people entitled to the sweat of their own brow? No, says the man in Washington, it belongs to the poor. No, says the man in the Vatican, it belongs to God. No, says the man in Moscow, it belongs to every…
Wait…

Sound Familiar?


Really the only significant difference between this and good ol’ Bioshock as of this point in the story is that it isn’t the 1950s, and they aren’t wanting to build this thing underwater – just on top of it. I really recommend going to the article link, and their sources, to read this entire thing. It’s truly creepily familiar.

These people have either played too much Bioshock, or not enough. As I’ve said elsewhere, the game clearly depicts the idea that this sort of scenario simply doesn’t work. It breaks down somewhere. Part of the problem is that you’re asking a bunch of people to come and live out in the middle of the ocean on a political whim, which basically restricts it to rich people, and then you’re inevitably going to need people to keep this place running from a mechanical standpoint.

There's Also The Basketball Team to Think About


So you’re either going to have to force some of these rich fops get to work, or you’re going to begin importing workers from elsewhere. Either way, you’re creating a working class that serves the rich, without any hope of upward movement, thus creating the perfect environment for a dystopic, dysfunctional society.

Oh, and one of the values they are trumpeting is looser building codes. Looser building codes? On a floating platform in the middle of the ocean? These people WANT to die in a terrible accident.

Paradise!


This thing is, in my opinion, destined to fail. They’re either extremely lucky, or extremely unlucky, that plasmids won’t be involved (man, this makes me want to play that game again.) But I want to know your opinion on these shenanigans. Vote below! After all, this is the Voters Booth. 🙂

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Finally, I want to talk briefly about my recent change of occupation, in a sense. I’ve gone from working on the Burleson Star to working (I use the term loosely, as I’m not paid) at Chisholm Trail Academy as a student teacher. Now, I miss the paper. The work was rewarding, and not too tough if you’re a reporter, and a number of the people I worked with there were great (though I think I’d have had some serious arguments with most of them if I ever brought up politics), but the job was creatively taxing in a way I didn’t expect. Writing articles may not be my favorite kind of creativity, but it uses the same brain muscles, and so I was always too worn out to write anything, despite the fact that it wasn’t too hard of a job. Also, I had issues with some of the management decisions, and the way certain employees were treated, but what are you gonna do, right?

I can’t speak to it through a lens of experience, but student teaching already feels different. I don’t feel exhausted by the idea of work. In a way it’s energizing. If working as a reporter was going outside and getting your hands dirty, then this is like staying home. I’m a school kind of guy. I always have been. The learning process is refreshing. Dwelling in ideas and subjects that I love is thrilling, as is working with old friends. It won’t be easy, necessarily, but I think I’m going to like it.

Of course I say that now, while I;m in the observing/planning stage. Put me in front of a class of students more or less by myself three times a day and we’ll see how that changes.
I’m counting on you, my boundless charisma!

My Inevitable Results


Oh, and being on the other side of the door, say when the faculty meets in the mornings, is a very alien experience to me.

Anyways, I’ve got one last piece of news. A bit of excitement. You see, my sister, Kimberly, recently got engaged to Chris. *Cheers* I called it, I have to say. I’m able to gloat when I want. If he’s taking her home to meet the family…. in CANADA – land of the lush and beautiful landscapes – then it was, I said, almost certain that he was going to propose. Well, they did, and his parents were hiding in the bush to give us photographic proof.

I’ve got to say, though I haven’t met him much, out of all the guys she’s dated or been chased by, Chris is the nicest – the best overall choice – of all of them. Here’s hoping it works out! *crosses fingers*

Oh, and really guys? Trying to steal me and Katie’s thunder? Classy. /Sarcasm. The only real loser here is my parents who have to plan a whole new wedding only six months after mine. Those poor, poor people.
Anyways, that’s all for today, folks!

Thank you, come again,

– Edward L. Cheever II

My Wii U Impressions


Okay, so I never got to talk about the Wii U back when the news was fresh from E3, so I think I’ll give it a whirl now. Looking back, I think it’s actually a good thing I waited so long to give my thoughts, as they have evolved and gone in whirls several times now, and I think I’ve finally settled my feelings on the matter until the next big unleashing of information from Nintendo.

Instead of making a giant list of pros and cons at the start, I’m going to talk about chunks of it at a time. We may get to a pro and con list, but it’ll be later. First chuck I’m going to talk about was Nintendo’s presentation of the system at E3.

Simply put, Nintendo really dropped the ball in presenting the Wii U. Not because there weren’t neat things to show off, but rather because they didn’t have a clear and cohesive message:

Is Nintendo after the hardcore? I don’t know. On the one hand they’ve promised some games, but on the other, they’re calling this thing “Wii U” which is an incredibly dumb name, and it calls up almost nothing but bad images to the mind of every hardcore gamer. The games they’ve promised may include things like Darksiders II and Batman: Arkham City, but what took up the majority of the time on stage? Mii games, minigames, casual titles. There was no talk of online functionality either. The sheer amount of confusion and misinformation swirling around that conference and it’s aftermath was amazing. Is this a new system or is it a Wii peripheral? Will there be more than one controller for the system? Pricepoint? Launch titles? Etc?

The entire conference was a load of promises that there is no guarantee of them actually fulfilling, and their handling of the Wii and 3DS doesn’t make me particularly confident. And that’s not even talking about the disappointment the community has felt over the failure of things like Operation Rainfall. Nintendo simply doesn’t seem to care about it’s fan base. Even if this is a misconception, it’s a killer misconception that they have to do something about, but aren’t.

But that was the presentation, and really it’s the least important element of this whole thing from my gamer perspective. Let’s talk about the special sauce that makes the Wii U something other than a pearly white Xbox 360 mutant; the controller.

For those of you who don’t know by now (and if you don’t then you need to read more video game commentary than my little blog) That image you see above is not the whole system, it is not a Wii peripheral. It is a controller with a large touchscreen in the middle of it. Special features include gyroscopes, a camera, two “circle-pad” things, and all the buttons otherwise associated with a modern gaming controller. I think this is fantastic conceptually. I mean, I love this this if it were just a level map that I could draw on (just imagine a -good- Harry Potter game where you have the Marauder’s Map in your hands!) or just an inventory system (Batman’s toolbelt, ftw), but the possibilities go far past that. The Alternate Reality capabilities are very intriguing. My two favorite ideas I’ve heard since the AR abilities have been talked about are similar. That is Eagle vision for the Assassin’s Creed series, and Batman’s cowl mode for The Arkham games. It’s an extremely novel idea that balances out the use for both systems. To me, it was always annoying to turn on Eagle Vision mode, but for whatever reason, I think holding up the screen to use it makes it more appealing to me. The Batman cowl mode, meanwhile, was too useful, and leaving the mode was the exception, rather than the rule, and having to use the controller screen may make it more likely that I will be able to see the art of the game world. There are lots of potential uses, I just want to see them happen.

It’s not the gimmick that concerns me, it’s just about everything else. The circle pads are something of a breakthrough for handheld controls, but that’s for handhelds; not consoles. If I’m going to be playing a console game of some sort, I want to have the best controls I can have, and when it comes to character movement that would be analogue sticks. First person shooters, especially, aren’t that great with the circle pads. We need analogue sticks. And then there are the trigger buttons on the back of the controller. They need to be analogue triggers. Not just extra buttons. Triggers are simply better for input, not just in FPS games, but also in racing games, third person shooter, third person action, pretty much any game I can think of would be better served by analogue triggers rather than simple buttons. Otherwise, I actually like the form factor.

My other concerns with the controller are about price, and number available to each system. Nintendo execs have come out and flat said that the controller is expensive. I have no idea how expensive, but it is a worrisome thought. Of course that won’t be an issue if only one controller is useable with the system, which is a persistent rumor that Nintendo STILL hasn’t clarified. The thing is, one controller may solve the cost issue, but it raises whole new ones for me, because I’m the kind of gamer who likes to sit down on the same couch with my friends and play some games. Local multiplayer has always been a Nintendo strength, and it has been a necessary strength in the absence of a good online strategy. Now Nintendo may be ditching local multiplayer, but they have no real online strategy at all to compensate, and that’s if I preferred online over local, which I don’t. And sure, you can use Wii remotes with the system too, but that is not how I want to play multiplayer games. The Wii remote has very definite limits, which was handily discovered during the Wii’s lifetime.

Simply put, the controller has awesome potential, but a lot of looming doubts and drawbacks.

As for tech specs, well we don’t have specifics, and the graphics demo they showed during the conference wasn’t particularly impressive, but it seems like there is potential there. This is especially true after seeing the glorious Zelda HD demo. Man, I can’t wait for them to make a game like that! (assuming they don’t pull another Wind Waker switch.)

PleasePleasePlease!


There are many many things they haven’t talked about yet, and in my mind the biggest of these things are the games. Oh, sure they showed some stuff, mostly demos and so forth, but though a Zelda HD demo is nice, and the smaller stuff looks fun, the only thing from Nintendo first party titles we really know anything about is Super Smash Bros., and while it’s exciting, it hasn’t even begun production yet, not to mention my controller concerns from above are especially dangerous for this game. It’s simply not good if I can’t play this game with my friends in the same room with something better than a Wii remote turned sideways (it’s a horrible configuration, and don’t kid yourselves otherwise.) 3rd parties seem promising, but are they enough to carry the system, especially if some of my other concerns aren’t addressed?

At first I thought the Wii U was all promise and no actual delivery yet. Now I realize that much of that promise is tinged with unease and skepticism. Nintendo has a lot to prove to me, even if I know I’m going to be a big sucker and pick it up at the first sign of Zelda and Mario.

Rango and John Marston Save the West while SWAU takes Illegal Pictures of Floridian Farms

It’s been a while since I’ve done a simple catch-all blog post. My more recent posts have been narrowed down to a topic or two. That’s great and all, but it also means I haven’t been able to talk about other things I enjoy, so today is going to be a classic run through the gauntlet. Tally-ho!

Onward!


First things first… SWAU… there is something of a situation on campus, as the student body is splitting over (and mostly against) the Administration. Now, I’m not as plugged into Facebook or campus life as a lot of other people, so my exposure to the issues has been mostly tangential. But, since it’s come to my attention, I’ve been trying to grab reliable information, and this is the scenario I’ve pieced together thus far: Over the past few months or more, really going as far back as the crass and disgusting treatment of Dr. Anavitarte, the Administration has been taking certain actions that have been poorly received by the student body at large (including myself).

This is primarily based around the firing of a number of personnel. A secretary was fired allegedly because the Administration blames her for lowering enrollment (how that’s supposed to work, have no idea), and a proffesor was fired because he attended a non-denominational church on a Saturday (also a base and foolish reason to get rid of a likeable and skilled professional). There have been other firings that I am less familiar with as well. All of this comes to a head as Dean Knight was not hired on after the end of this semester. From what I gather, he fomented some hard feelings among others over this decision, which lead the Administration to fire him.

The student body has now come to a boil over what they see as an elimination of one of the last staff members they see as truly fighting for them, and being “on their side” as it were. However false or true this sentiment may be, the point is that a large number of students have been protesting these actions and demanding answers from the administration. An assembly took place earlier which I was unable to attend, that was supposedly going to answer some of these questions. I do not know how this has turned out just yet. I find it unlikely that Dr. Anderson will find anything to say that will satiate the student body.

I don’t know where this is all headed, but I do know that, if the reasons for the firings are as I have heard, something is rotten in SWAU. I don’t know if it is Dr. Anderson, or the Board, or some other force behind the scenes, but ever since Dr. Anavitarte, SWAU has been dealing shadily and backhandedly with important, honest and sincere members of its body. It hasn’t been living up to the values it supposedly upholds as an institution of Christ, and has instead fallen into the trap of so many religious institutions. Yes, this has long been a problem. Yes, I have had serious issues with the way things are done at SWAU for some time. But this seems to be a drastic step further in the wrong direction.

I’m waiting to see what new information comes to light in these matters. I have only really heard one side of the story, and so this entire scenario might have dimensions I am not aware of. Perhaps the reasons given for the firings were ways of letting these people off the hook gently for some greater and unseen reason. Perhaps Dean Knight was undercutting Dr. Anderson’s authority in some way (I don’t like the way Dean Knight acted in Dr. Anavitarte’s case). Perhaps. But unlikely.

One thing is unquestionably clear: Even if the Administration has good reasons for what they’ve done, they’ve done a piss-poor job of selling it to the community. Enrollment doesn’t suffer over a single secretary. It suffers over the perception that SWAU is a place where spirituality is corrupted, where politics is more important than friendliness and where people aren’t treated with the dignity and respect Christ’s message calls us to.

In other silly news, apparently a Florida Senator, Jim Norman, wants to introduce a bill to make it a felony to take pictures of Floridian farms.

'Don't sue me! Pleeeeeeeaaaase!'

I won’t spend long on the topic, because I think it’s ridiculous, but what exactly does this guy think he’s going to accomplish? Have all those people who’ve been taking photos of farms been just robbing those poor farmers of what’s rightfully theirs? If the very sight of a farm is just that important to protect, why don’t we just build walls around each farm and charge a couple bucks per minutes of viewing time through little peep windows, eh? Foolishness. This would give legal grounds for enterprising farmers to start suing people over almost anything (not to disparage the intent of most honest Floridian farmers, mind you). We’re talking about adding a substantial burden in litigation upon the people involved and the taxpayers who pay for the bureaucracy of it all. It’s un-needed, unwarranted, and adds to the so-called “big government” that senators like this are supposedly so against.

Moving on to greener pastures, and less ranting and so forth, here is a fascinating article by Men’s Journal about a blind man who taught himself to see via echolocation. Yeah, he’s essentially a real-world Matt Murdock.

That, my friends, is a blind man riding a bike.

I sincerely hope that his techniques can be used to revolutionize the treatment of the Blind. Most interesting to me is the project he’s been trying to put into motion to build artificial echolocation devices to make it even easier and more accurate for Blind people. It sounds really promising (though I wonder if two Blind people can operate in the same space with their devices?) but the project is looking to cost at least 15 million dollars. That’s a lot of money to just throw together for the research and development. Maybe somebody should tell him about the Kickstarter program.

In the entertainment side of life, I recently wrote a review of Rango (spoilers: I loved it), which I highly recommend you all go and read. Rango was a surprise and a real treat. That is something that is becoming all too rare in the film industry, where brand names are the new hottness instead of innovation and creativity. To that end, here’s a wonderfully thought out article on the state of the film industry, and while it isn’t a heartwarming piece, it’s very clear and rings of truth. The road out of this mess is unclear.

Of course this has left a gaping hole for a new medium to fill. That medium is Video Games. While it is true that Video Games have their own brands and cash-in sequel and prequel showers, there is also a ton of innovation and new concepts. It’s where the money is. It is where societal entertainment in headed, and hopefully that won’t be a bad thing. If the film industry can pick itself back up, the mediums can complement each other by their differences, much as books and television also fill certain niches. But for now, Video Games seem on a solitary rise to stardom.

Video Games are also where old genres find new life. Now, westerns are doing some new business again in Hollywood with True Grit and Rango, but for recent portrayals of the Old West, I’d put my money on Red Dead Redemption as being more important to the survival of the genre. I don’t have a load of time to spend playing video games, what between work, school and other media and responsibilities, but I do occasionally get a chance to sit down with Red Dead as I work my way slowly through the campaign and side missions. It truly is a marvel, and I feel like I’m really out in the old west riding around, gun-slinging and so forth. For an open-world game, it can be pretty darn gorgeous at times, which is a testament to the artistry of Rockstar Games. I look forward to my next trek in John Marston’s boots.

Oh, and briefly while I’m still thinking about video games… Katie kicks the snot out of me at Marvel vs. Capcom 3. It I both a pain and a joy to have so enthusiastic a gamer fiance. At least I could still pwn her in a strategy game… you know… if she played them much… and stuff…

…. onward!

Speaking of Katie, she and I recently made a deal to where she would read the first three books of The Chronicles of Narnia if I would read A Clockwork Orange. She beat me to the punch. I was only 2 pages in, being busy with other stuff and somewhat put off by the need, at first, to use a vocabulary list to understand what everybody was saying, while she had already finished all three books and was into the fourth. Well, I finally got around to it again and polished it up in essentially two more sit-downs with the book. It helped to more or less ignore the vocabulary list, and just try to absorb the slang terms over time. It was a real horrorshow story, though Alex and his droogs really rubbed me the wrong way (as they should pretty much anyone, what with the ultra-violence and rapes and all). The brainwashing was pretty disturbing, though I didn’t have much sympathy for the victim. All in all, I enjoyed the book quite a lot. The ending has me for a loop, however, as I’m not sure if the author meant to say that sociopathy and an ultra-violent life-style is something that people just grow out of, or if he was making another statement about how people are programmed. In any case, it’s something to think on. I’m looking forward to watching the Kubrick film with Katie when it arrives in the mail.

Now that I’m done with A Clockwork Orange, I’m moving on to The Wise Man’s Fear, which is the eagerly anticipated follow up to Patrick Rothfuss’s first novel, The Name of the Wind. I loved the first book, and so I’m glad to be starting the second. Assuming I have enough time to just sit down and read, I don’t expect it to take me too long to finish, though it is a good deal longer than A Clockwork Orange. After that I’ll be moving over to The Light of Other Days, a sci-fi novel by Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter that I’m borrowing from Dr. Robinson.

Well, I think I’m just about ready to wrap this blog post up and put a bow on it. But before I bid adieu to you and you and you, here’s a hilarious website called DamnYouAutoCorrect.com It’s a terrific little site that has a massive collection of images of conversations where the iPhone auto correct has changed harmless words into inappropriate ones. I think all us iPhone users know how that is, yes?

Well, until later, Adios!

– Edward L. Cheever II

Holiday Round-Up, New Years Resolutions, and The Proposal

Thankfully mine was no prank. 🙂


Let’s get this started by saying that the real reason for this post comes a little ways down in the post. If you’re here for that (^_^) then by all means, skip ahead. But if you’re here as a regular, well then we’ve got a few things to cover first.

Like Christmas


So I didn’t have a Christmas post this year. Why not? Well, really I had nothing to say. I could rant about rampant commercialism, but I do that all year long; Christmas only accentuates it. I could muse over the true meaning of Christmas, but I feel like I would have been a broken record of everything from Charlie Brown and beyond (really, who isn’t trying to point people to their “true meaning of Christmas”?) I could list my presents, but that is long, boring and egotistical. I could give a narrative of events but that would lead to similar result. I suppose the best thing I could have done (and should have done, in hindsight,) would have been merely to post a very short blog wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holidays.

So while I could have blogged a post, and perhaps should have given at least my best wishes, it wasn’t to be. For the record, I had a great Christmas and I hope you all did as well. 🙂

The upcoming New Years is kinda looking like a disappointment. Katie is working that evening until the ball drops (you know, when it’s re-played on the local stations, anyway…) and so it looks like it’s going to be just me and the fam. Maybe we’ll play scrabble?

But despite what I imagine will be a quiet year changeover, I’m still going to make a few Resolutions. Since it’s hard to tell what resolutions are impossible, unlikely or probable, I’ll just go the distance and write up all my resolutions and hope for the best. If you shoot with a shotgun you don’t have to have as good an aim, right? Let’s get started.

1. Get to sleep before 2 again.
2. Start exercising again.
3. Stop being late for everything.
4. Save up for a new car.
5. Freaking read or return “The Scourge of God” already.
6. Run a successful Rough Writers Annual Writing Contest.
7. Enter said contest.
8. Do well in my studies for teaching certification.
9. Finish Jaine.
10. Hang out with Steve and Brandon on a more regular basis.
11. Outline my long-term plans for my regular D&D game.
12. Write up a plan for what I’m going to do immediately after my last day of schooling and have it well thought out.
13. Get Married to Katie ^_^ ❤

hm…. Looks good to me. How about you all, any resolutions you've made for yourselves? Be sure to add them in the comments below. And tell me what you think I should add to mine!

Okay. Now on to the main event, eh?

The Proposal.

World, as of around 10:15 p.m. December 28, 2010, on a rainy and chilly night, I became engaged to Katie Guth, my long-time girlfriend. Wow… that sounds kinda clinical, doesn't it? I'm freaking engaged, you guys! 😀 ❤ ❤ ❤

As much a record for myself as an artifact for you to peruse, I'm going to recount the events of the day that pertained to hat special event, and describe what happened in detail from my point of view. So then, let's begin.

The plan to propose to Katie has been stewing and formulating since much earlier this year. September at least. Katie and I talked about it at some point, because neither of us are shy over the idea of our wedding and marriage. We even nailed down what rings we wanted for our Engagement and for our Marriage. We're such nerds. Below I'll show you the engagement rings (yes, I'm going to have one too). Both of which come from the Wheel of Time book series.

Here's Katie's, an Aes Sedai ring with a serpent biting its own tail, essentially a symbol of time, recreation and eternity, also called Ouroboros in the real world, which has existed as a symbol as far back as ancient Egypt. (We only really got it because of the Wheel of Time though. We are such geeks.) –

[We’re going to have to get it re-sized, unfortunately. The size we were told when we got our fingers sized up at Zales was a half-size too small, aparently.]

And Here’s what will be mine, an Asha’man ring with the symbol of the Dragon on it. It has no significant real-world equivalent. The symbol is representative of the Dragon Reborn, whom they serve, and as such is not far from a phoenix in its representation of rebirth and the power to destroy or preserve. –

I’m keeping our wedding rings a secret until the actual wedding day (and no, we do not know when yet.) Anyway, we picked out our rings and we even got our fingers sized at a Jewler (pretended we were there to look at their wares.) In addition to all that, a plan of exactly what I wanted to do had been forming for some time. I already knew what I wasn’t going to do. Nothing too fancy. No hidden rings in food or drink. I wanted it to be uniquely us. I also knew one thing I had to do, but was resistant of doing. I was going to have to write a poem. Not because it’s some traditional yim-yam, but because writing is apart of who I am.

I had wanted to propose as early as sometime shortly after my Birthday; specifically, right between hers and mine. But her schedule didn’t work out for it, and I didn’t have the poem ready, and so it was postponed. Those two things were convenient excuses for not proposing all the way up through a couple of days ago. I realized that I was seriously running out of time if I was going to propose before the year was over, which was something I was determined to do, and that the 28th was the only day when Katie got off any earlier than 10 p.m. I went to sleep the night before wondering when I should propose, and was I ready yet.

That morning was an unpleasant time for me. I was having bowel issues and I kept waking up with need of the restroom’s services. While I lay in bed waiting to fall back asleep after one of these trips I thought to myself, almost out of nowhere, “Today I might get married,” and then I drifted off to sleep. Of course what my sleep-addled brain meant was I might get engaged, but I defend its goofy sleepy weirdness with the fact that if one is to become engaged to another, then marriage must be an important factor in that thought process. Anyway, it was a thought that would stick with me when I actually woke up, for good, in a few hours.

I had always wanted to avoid proposing after Katie came home from work because I knew that she would be tired, and would probably have had an unpleasant day. I didn’t relish the idea of her coming home unhappy right before the proposal. But here I was, less than a week from the New Year, and every remaining day she was working. The 28th was my last good chance to propose, as it was the night she got off work the earliest.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to propose that day or not when I decided that one way or the other I was at least going to finish the poem. So I sat down and wrote the rest of the poem in a flourish. I was surprised at how little time I spent laboring over it. Suddenly I was there with the poem in my hands and no excuses any more for putting the proposal off. Still, I debated myself until around seven that evening when I finally decided that it was time.

For the next hour and a half I rallied the help and materials I needed. I got the ring out from its hiding spot. I printed out the poem. I put a pair of pants in the dryer. I asked my brother to drop me off at Katie’s place and for my sister to take some money and go buy a rose and bring it to me there while I prepared.

Ben dropped me off around 8:30 and I set my plan into motion.

It was quite simple. I took a pad of large sticky notes and a pen with me, and I wrote notes on each one and spread them around the house. Each note would have a message from me, talking about our relationship together and an obvious hint that lead to the location of the next note (I even underlined it.) The plan was that, when she got home, she would see the first note on the door, enter the duplex and follow the notes until it lead her back to the front door where she’d open it and I’d be there. It would have been impossible without the key she gave me when she first moved in. It also required me to be very sneaky. I had Ben drop me off so that my car wouldn’t give away the fact that I was there, and I had to slip out of the back door and sneak around to the front when she arrived.

That was the plan.

I got there and went to work, writing out detailed notes and sticking them up around the duplex. Kimberly arrived after a while with the white rose (much better than the pink roses which were the only other option) and she wished me luck before driving off.

This isn't, you know... THE rose, but it is A rose, and thus useful for illustration purposes...

It took a while, but I finally got all the notes laid out. I looked over the poem a couple more times, thought over exactly what I was supposed to do, and settled down to wait.

And wait. And wait. Finally Katie called me around 9:30. Turns out that Katie got off late that night after working a lousy shift while watching over the self check-out lanes. Customers gave her a bad time, apparently. I wasn’t happy to hear that, but at least she was relieved to be coming home. We talked for a while, and I studiously avoided any hints as to where I was while she went shopping for some lunch-meats. When she finally left the store she told me that she might go straight to my house instead of to her duplex to change.

Instant panic. I assured her that it would be fine if she went home and changed first. She insisted that she was comfortable in the clothes she was wearing. I insisted again. So did she. I finally told her that she needed to go to her duplex and check her front door for something, making it sound sneakily like I had left a gift for her there or something to that effect. She grew curious and tried to prod the secret or any hints out of me but I managed to decline such efforts. Thankfully, despite giving up the pure surprise of it, she decided to go to her duplex and check it out. We said goodbye, and hung up, and I got ready to slip out the back door.

I waited ten minutes before doing so, knowing that she had to get gas in her car first, and that she’d take a while. As I waited out on the back porch, clutching my poem and rose while trying not to slip in the mud, I watching the rain pour from the little overhang. I took a minute to pray, and thank God for a world in which I could have met and fallen in love with Katie. It was a nice, if anxious, moment before the event. Finally, I saw her headlights from around the side of the house, and heard her drive up and park. It seemed to take her forever to get out of her car and head for the door. When I heard the car door shut I snuck around the side of the house and sidled up to the large bush that sits next to her parking spot and the corner of her duplex. I peered warily out from around the wet leaves as the sky drizzled down on me. Katie was standing at the front door still, so I waited. It felt like I waited for a very long time before she finally went in. Turns out she was texting me that she had made it home.

I quickly went up to the door, got my poem ready, and waited.

Now, let’s get into a little more detail of exactly what was going to happen. When Katie got to the front door she read the following note:

“Follow the Sticky-Notes:
Good evening, my love! This is simple. Each note indicates the location of the next not. Folow them in order to see where the trail ends!”
Edward
“I remember when I first saw your Roper-boardie screename, “Mysty,” on my Computer Monitor.”

This lead her into her bedroom where her computer monitor sat, with the following note stuck to it,

“Over time, our online friendship blossomed into something more, though I suppose we didn’t know how much more at the time.
We would discover that we had many thins in common. These things aren’t the only reason we fell in love, but they provide a fun and strong basis for part of our attraction together.
“We bonded over our love of The Wheel of Time.”

This lead to her bookshelf where another note was stuck in front of the Wheel of Time series,

“For the first time I had someone to talk with about WoT, someone who loved it just as much as me.
And there were many other things we had in common too. Such as our love of videogames. Halo particularly stands out as a game we both loved.”

This lead to her videogame collection, where the following note was stuck to her collector’s edition of Halo: Reach,

“But Halo was only the beginning. We shared our love of all things gaming, from Mario to Ezio. Though I often jabbed you a bit over your love of the Xbox, I always knew that you loved all games, and that endeared you to me even more.
But my favorite part of your love of gaming is how we play together. Gears of War 2 is still one of my favorite experiences with you.”

This lead to her copy of Gears of War 2 on the shelf above,

“I loved our banter and our silly gay-love jokes, but I loved it all because of you.
“There were many other kinds of games we learned to love too. Games that we couldn’t just play together, but with friends.
“Games like D&D.”

This lead to my collection of D&D reference books in the next room over, and the note stuck on them,

“And playing D&D together with Ashley and Adrian has been loads of fun, but some of my favorite times are still the ones we spend alone together.
“Making personal movies that last a lifetime, like watching Stardust together.”

This lead to her movie collection where another note was stuck to the shelf in front of Stardust,

“I love the fact that we have a movie that is ‘Our Movie,’ and I kinda wish we had ‘Our Song’ and stuff too. But our love still goes deeper than that.
“It’s also about the little things that I love, like sharing cups of Hot Coffee together.”

This lead to her coffee maker where a note was stuck on top,

“Sometimes you’d make breakfast, like french toast, or scrambled eggs, and I loved to watch you. Breakfast always tasted better when you made it.
Other small things also stick out in my mind. Like shopping together. Cuddling. Watching TruTV on cold winter mornings. Everything you do with me makes me enjoy it more.
“And of course [REDACTED]”

This would lead elsewhere in the duplex where there was another note,

“[REDACTED]
“Being able to be so close to you, to share so much with you, is something I am eternally grateful for.
“Truly, God has brought us together. I am glad that, whatever our differences in dogma or specific beliefs, we can both still revel in His Word together.”

This would lead to her Bible which I placed on top of her laptop, with another note,

“I’m so glad I’ve found someone with whom I can truly confide everything with. I can share my soul with you.
“You no longer have just my picture, you have me!”

This would lead her to a photo of me on her shelf in the living room where there was this final note,

“You have me for now and for ever. Even for eternity, God willing.
“And so, tonight, between Christmas and a brand new year, I think we should open the Front Door to our future together and walk through hand-in-hand.”

When she opened the front door I was standing there, having snuck around as I described above. I handed her the white rose, and read this poem that I’ve posted below. I’ve acknowledged that it is perhaps the cheesiest thing I’ve written in years, and I’m not saying it’s good poetry, but I think what’s important is how much what I said meant to me,

I moved my mouse and clicked
On another forum thread.
Though I normally haunted Intel,
I wondered what those of “Talk In Here” had said.

And as I perused, the roperboards that night,
A username caught my eye.
She called herself “Mysty,”
And I’ve never found out why.

And I didn’t think to ask.
Not for the first year or so.
Not even when I saw her at Cornerstone,
A festival of musical bands and shows.

It was a long time after that,
and it’s hard to pinpoint when,
we started talking together,
And became close friends.

We discovered more and more,
that we made a really good match.
And one night we finally decided
to try a relationship for a patch.

That night, April 4, didn’t seem so significant then,
But as the years have gone by,
I can’t imagine what life would be like
If we hadn’t given this a try.

The next Cornerstone we met again,
Now caught in burgeoning love.
And we spent time at concerts, in tents,
And we became sure this was something from above.

In the years since then, we’ve traveled to and fro.
Oklahoma, Texas, Illinois and more,
Distance wouldn’t stop us.
Happiness was a train-ticket away for the one I adore.

Gradually we met each others families,
And though we were intimidated,
Most often we found ourselves welcomed,
and knew it wouldn’t be so bad to be related.

Apartments went and duplexes came,
and you eventually you found your way to Texas.
You never knew fully my joy at having you near,
never again of distance being envious.

I could never have picked a more perfect person
to love with all my heart.
And our similarities would become more obvious
Let me show you, in part.

If the wheel weaves as the wheel wills,
Then it wove our lives together.
Some days passionate as the roaring darkness flame,
Other’s as light as blue phoenix feathers.

Your phasers locked on me while my shields were down,
and you’re awaiting the words, “engage.”
We’ve reached the end of another chapter,
And together we’ll turn that page.

I feel I’ve already made my Covenant with you,
that you’re already a Halo around my heart.
I’m just waiting to get this co-op hot.
Player 2, press start.

You waved your wand and we took off,
A flying car for two.
You must have aced Flitwick’s class,
Cause I’ve been charmed by you.

When I’ve got a screw loose, you fix me up,
More like an automail head, than arm.
But though sometimes I’m as clunky as a suit of armor,
I’d do anything to protect you from harm.

Sometimes we go toe to toe,
Lightsaber versus Zanpakto.
Though you’re sometimes more frustrating than the 13 court guard squads,
You’re still my only hope.

If you were the one ring I couldn’t drop you,
You’ve rolled a Critical D20 vs. Will.
I trust you, because you’re precious to me.
If I’m bloodied, you’d never move in for the kill.

My point is, we’re geeky nuts,
and I’d have it no other way.
Our bonds are all the deeper,
because together we love, we cry, we play.

We already have two kids,
the furry little tarts.
Two squabbling brothers who love us both,
are nestled in our hearts.

There are so many things we share in common,
But they’re only a part of why I love you.
Your beautiful face, your soft smooth skin,
And though you tire of hearing it, your eyes are lovely too.

I could hold you for hours on end,
We could snuggle, cuddle and squeeze.
The fire of your warmth is only matched,
By the flame that’s within me.

Your kindness and your care,
Are your graces and your gifts.
And when I see you smile
My spirit fully lifts.

I look forward to the days ahead
and all that our life together will bring.
Wherever we live, whoever we know,
you are my only dream.

One day, we’ll have kids
and a home of our own.
And yes, there will be trials
harder than any we’ve known.

But through happiness and heartache,
When we’ve laughed, loved and cried,
I know I’ll be fine
As long as you’re by my side.

I want to hold you now,
in the future, and forever.
And I think I know for sure,
That God meant us to be together.

So I extend my hands
and pray to God.
And thank him for the blessing
He’s given this unworthy sod.

Katie, I love you,
And I swear I always will.
Even when we get angry,
You make my life fulfilled.

By now I’m sure you know what’s coming.
I know that you can see.
But let me be plain, here and now.
Please, Katie, would you marry me?

As I said the last stanza, I pulled out the ring, went to one knee and said the last line while holding it out to her. I was overjoyed when she immediately said, “Yes!” ^_^

We texted our families the good news and posted it to facebook. Katie spent some time on the phone with her mom. We went out to eat at Whataburger afterward and spent loads of time talking. A lot of it was me explaining how I put it all together, how long I’d been planning it, etc. As well as what we plan on for the future. Eventually we went back to my place, where we were congratulated in person by my family and then we spent the rest of the evening watching Star Trek: TNG.

All in all, it was a great night, and a great start to our future together. ^___^

– Edward L. Cheever II

Distance Learning is Taking a Break and I’m Ready for the Holidays

Finally! I am DONE with this semester. W00T!

FREEDOOOOOOOOM!


I wrote an article about Distance Learning at SWAU a while back (it hasn’t been published yet, but will be soonish) but actual first-hand experience has taught me a more critical angle of the program. Everything I said in the article remains true, but I think that an honest appraisal of the program would have to refrain from under-emphasizing the downsides.

One of the benefits of the program is they let each teacher dictate what goes on in their online class with relatively little interference from authorities over them. It has the benefit of letting the teacher leave their own touch on their classes, instead of being churned out like a factory. This is great if you have a great teacher who has lots of excellent material on the site and uses all the fancy bells and whistles made possible by technology, but in the hands of a poor teacher… it falls apart.

When it works, you get a happy diploma in your PJs.


I have one professor specifically in mind when I say that. He is ridiculously difficult to get a hold of (and I’m close enough to campus be able to bother him in his office!), His tests are poorly constructed (and this from a man teaching me how to construct tests), and he doesn’t know how to write a proper project or essay prompt to save his life. If you come to ask him questions about it and exhibit the least amount of frustration and he is liable to become moody, obstinate and impossible to deal with. Thankfully, I’m good enough at acting calm in such a situation to get past all that.

I can’t even imagine what it would be like for someone in… I don’t know, Oregon? To try and deal with him. Talk about a nightmare. Communication isn’t exactly one of his skills. How he managed to get the position he has, I’ll never know.

Communication: Go Get You Some!


But that is over. … for this semester anyways. So it’s time to get into the Holiday spirits as I finally move into the break.

It’s going to be a busy break, despite no schoolwork or work-work. I’ve got a holiday goals challenge over at the Rough Writers to write 10,000 words on Jaine before break’s end. I’m working on a collaborative blog post with Scott Laue that you can look forward to in a bit. I’ve got a secret project that should be a happy surprise to all when I finally reveal it, and that’s just the serious stuff.

Then you get into entertainment and I have videogames to finish (Fable III, Metroid: Other M), books to read or put down forever (Way of Kings, Scourge of God), and a D&D game to plan for.

That doesn’t even mention Christmas-y stuff like holiday movies, walks in the lighted park and the Holiday itself.

Staying busy. Yup.

I could talk about the silliness around Julian Assange, the new Thor trailer, my high hopes for Tron: Legacy and CoN: Voyage of the Dawn Treader, but sometimes ya got to keep a post short and sweet, ya know?

Happy Holidays, folks!

– Edward L. Cheever II~

Metroid: Other M Prints Character, But Not in 3-D

Here’s an old post I wrote that in all honesty I should have posted weeks ago. Forgives me? Pwease?

Will I get back on the bloggin' wagon? I hope so.


I’ve got a couple of things to talk about today, but I’m trying to keep it short. We’ll see how that works out, eh?

So first, let me talk about 3D Printing. This article over at the New York Times does a good job at talking about the various intricacies of the process, so I’ll direct you there for specifics and focus on giving my take on the whole thing.

Color Me Facinated


First off, nothing makes you feel like you’re in the future quite like being able to set up a printer on the back of a truck and print out a house you can live in. This beats out smart phones for me in the “omg, when did the future become now?” department. I love everything about the technology, and I can’t wait to see it being used wide scale in commercial ventures and projects. This is the kind of stuff that will shape our lives in the years to come.

If this concept doesn't have your jaw on the floor, you need to get your perspectives straight.


But there are always detractors. The most notable of which are those decrying what they see as the inevitable loss of a multitude of jobs to machines. In a sense, this is an absolutely valid worry. Every time there is a huge technological leap forward a lot of people lose their jobs. But what the naysayers forget is that people also adapt, as they have for every major innovation. All those poor typewriter specialists lost jobs to the computer. All those poor carriage makers lost jobs to the automobile makers. All those poor weavers lost their jobs to machines. All those poor monks lost their jobs to the printing press. Etc. Etc. Etc. The fact also remains that all of those groups ended up adapting to their circumstances. Typewriter specialists learned computer skills. Carriage makers turned to niche markets or learned how to make automobiles. Weavers went to work in factories. Monks learned removable type.

The workers who lose jobs to the 3D printer should be able to find new jobs that will inevitably follow. Those printers need maintenance, operators, designers and material after all. It’s not going to get it itself. The day it does is the day nobody needs to work for a living. Hallelujah, I say. Then we can work on what we want because we want to. Still, we’re centuries away from that at best (if ever.)

Millions of cheap assistants cried out in terror as their jobs were suddenly silenced...


Will it require workers to learn new skill sets, well yes. That’s an inconvenience, true, but it could be worse. I’m probably coming across as too flippant concerning the trials that people who would lose jobs over this would face. Yeah, I probably am. Sorry about that. I admit that this really wouldn’t affect me in anything but a mostly positive way, and sure, that colors my judgment. My answer to that is simply this: To all you who might be affected – plan now. Education and increased skill sets are your best defense. Be flexible. Figure out where the new jobs are gpoing to be, what they’re going to need and start growing into those new roles now. In the future, a lack of technological prowess will become more and more of a handicap. If I may be rude for a moment, for the sake of good imagery, nerds aren’t taking over the world, they’re just equiped to survive the extinction wave.

At any rate, 3D printing = I like.

Okay, now let’s talk a little about Metroid: Other M and its portrayal of Samus. There’s an interesting article over on IGN called “Killing Samus – How Metroid: Other M ruined gaming’s greatest heroine.” in which Audrey Drake eviscerates the portrayal of Samus, especially in comparison to her past portrayals.

First let’s be honest, previous portrayals of Samus are pretty much non-existent outside of Metroid: Fusion. The qualities Drake applies to Samus are mostly qualities that are assumed to exist based on Samus’ external situations. There’s no question that Samus was a bad ass, but how does that reflect on her character? Master Chief has more personality. These characters, bad-ass space marines and bounty hunters, are mostly silent protagonists into whom we project aspects of ourselves, and of who we want to be. If someone reads an empowered tough-as-nails woman who doesn’t need anybody and doesn’t take orders into Samus, it’s because they put those qualities into her.

Judging a book by it's cover much? Still... it's a great book cover...

When Metroid: Other M portrays Samus as something other, something with flaws and frailties that live within the same body as the bad-ass alien killer we’ve always known, it is easy to have negative reactions. The thing is, to ruin a character, they had to have character to begin with. In that sense, I disagree with Drake. Furthermore, the elements of Samus that are introduced aren’t necessarily bad. In fact, they really deepen the character and add interesting elements to her psyche.

This could have been a facinating scene if they'd just drop that overwrought inner monologue


That’s not to say I disagree with Drake’s sentiment. What I will agree on in spades, is that the presentation of those flaws was done with all the skill of a paraplegic climbing a mountain without any gear. The script is overwritten, the acting is monotone, there is very little about the presentation of her character that shows balance. While it is common and realistic for people to have both strength and weakness in them, it’s another thing entirely to shift back and forth between the two like a bipolar off their meds. One minute Samus is calm and in control, the next she’s having emotional pangs and fears that would have your average teenager dousing their faces in dark makeup and listening to Death Cab for Cutie (for the record, I like DCfC, and I don’t wear makeup – just using stereotypes for the purposes of comparison, yo). There is no in between (so far as I’ve played.) That is a problem in storytelling. There are ways of showing Samus to have daddy-issues, fear and anxiety without this sort of waffling drama.

Contradiction: 'After I execute this monster with a cannon to the head I'm going to crawl into a corner and have a good sob cause I'm scared inside.'


It’s all very Japanese, and I’m sure that people who read my review of Final Fantasy XIII would ask me why I have a problem with this and not FFXIII. It’s because that I never knew the characters of FFXIII before I played that game. I’ve known Samus for a while. I had an image in my head, as did Drake. Besides, I still knocked FFXIII, I just let it get away with a little more because it was cohesive and consistent within itself. Metroid: Other M is not.

I know why my reaction to this version of Samus is as conflicted as it is, and I know why getting upset about it is silly, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Samus on the screen isn’t as awesome as the Samus in my head.

The game is still fun though. Fancy that.

Till next time, ya’ll

– Edward L. Cheever II