Monday, 25 July 2016

Last Seed, week 1

On Monday I went back to work. It was my first day of me being responsible of things because the boss was on holiday and so I was really nervous. Nervous to the point that I kept imagining the worst-case scenarios and I got about 1 or 2 hours of sleep that night. Turned out not so bad. Everything worked amazingly smoothly. During the summer we don't have as many boxes to pack so the others were done around 11am, and then I just had about 5 hours of waiting to do. Waiting for the drivers to come and pick up their respective pallets. Of course there was one idiot who was a complete imbecile. He was supposed to pick up 10 pallets and arrived in a friggin delivery van rather than a truck. His manual forklift was a joke that could barely lift anything, hardly more than a toy. And he managed to break a few boxes while trying to squeeze the 10 pallets into the van so we had to repack them. And while the boss's brother was busy chewing him out for being incompetent he was just standing around smiling like the idiot he was. He looked like he was barely 20 and had just recieved his licence for heavy vehicles. All of the drivers were supposed to have picked up their pallets at 4 pm. But of course another idiot was late and didn't show until five. Luckily I got a ride back home so I was home before six. Otherwise I wouldn't have gotten home before seven. Got home, ate, watched Toni completed Dark Souls, and then fell asleep before my head touched the pillow. Then I slept for 16 hours.

On Tuesday I didn't have anything special planned. I spent most of the day just clicking around online. In the evening we had dinner at a Chinese restaurant downtown. I'd had a craving for Chinese curry for several days. When we got home I started up The Sims 4. Several new packs, updates, and expansions had been released since I last played so I had a lot of fun discovering all the new stuff. I decided to try to recreate my family from The Sims 2, but I'll miss all the different sort of people you could be in 2. Later in the evening we watched a couple of episodes of The Strain.

On Wednesday I was back at work at the tourist agency. After work I walked from my work place to the Royal Gardens (about 3 km, see post) while playing Pokémon Go and then I spent about 30 minutes in the Gardens sitting between two poké stops with lures catching everything that showed up. I then went for lunch and then went home. When I got home I started up a new game. The RPG of Game of Thrones. No, not the Telltale game. The other one. Released two years earlier. After dinner I continued playing The Sims 4.

Thursday was also work and looked a lot like Wednesday. I spent half an hour at the Royal Gardens catching everything. Then had lunch, then went home and continued playing Game of Thrones. And once again, after dinner, I played some more The Sims 4. I've made a beautiful transgender teen, and right now I'm working my hardest to get the dad abducted so I can get him impregnated by aliens. Since aliens are the only alternative people in 4 (as for now) I really need at least one in my family.

On Friday I was free and I spent most of the day playing Game of Thrones. In the evening Toni and I went out for a very, very long walk, and I chased Pokémon while we walked. Even caught myself a nice Aerodactyl, and my 10km Egg hatched into a CP 500+ Pinsir. Nice! :D When we got back I played some more Game of Thrones.

On Saturday I had work in the afternoon/evening, but since we stayed up so late on Friday I didn't get much time at home before going away. I mostly watched Toni play Dark Souls 2 before it was time to go. Work went fine. It was my first time being responsible for closing up shop at my new tourist info desk so I was a little nervous about it, but it went very well I think. I got home after a horrible train ride where I was seated in the same area as about a dozen loud children +  a small dog that wouldn't stop yapping -.-' When I got home I joined my friends in playing Cards Against Humanity and later Golf With Friends, where I scored my first Hole in One :D

Sunday was also work at the tourist agency. I had taken on a double shift and so I was there for 7 hours. I was on closing duty again, but it went smoother this time than the day before. Got home around 9pm and then all I had to do was prepare for Monday and go to sleep.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Playing Pokémon GO, part 1

I downloaded the app last Saturday (16th) when it was released in Sweden and immediately started playing. It was fairly easy to figure out, and by the time I watched a Youtube video about tips & tricks I already knew most of it :P

Since Saturday I've been playing every chance I get. Until today that was mostly during car rides. The app works surprisingly well in cars, but I can say from experience that the GPS tracking can't keep up when you're on a train.

I'm more of a collector than a trainer tbh. I want to complete my Pokédex! That's my main concern. But I've slowly started to power up some of my Pokémon and I'm always excited when I manage to catch one that has almost 200 CP or over 200 CP.

Today I got back at work in Stockholm and since work finished just before noon I decided to walk instead of taking the bus (I now have the sunburn to show for it). Here's my route:

I hadn't even walked for 10 minutes before I caught one Geodude and then a Jynx. Walking along the water I managed to get several Goldeen, Krabby and Magikarp, as well as Golduck, Psyduck, Shellder, Tentacool, Horsea, Poliwag, and Squirtle :P When I got to the Royal Gardens I bought a popsicle and ice tea and then sat down on the grass in the shade, between two poké stops that both had lures on them. Then I sat there for about half an hour and caught Slowpokes, Ponytas, Doduos, Mankeys, Nidorans (both kinds), Zubats, Pidgeys, Rattatas, Magnemites, a Bellsprout and even a Pikachu! I then started walking towards the central station with the goal of having lunch somewhere on the way. Going there I caught a Psyduck, a Voltorb, a Magneton, a Rhyhorn, and an Ekans. Going strong!

All this walking and I also hatched three eggs :P

When I got home I caught a Drowzee on the bed! xD

Here's my current Pokémon (most of them are caught today but I had some special ones from earlier):

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Sun's Height, week 4

On Monday I didn't do anything special. I mostly watched Toni play Dark Souls and then I did some packing.

On Tuesday we got on the train to Malmö. Four hours. Yay. I spent the whole journey reading Anansi Boys. When we got to my parents place we were awarded for the long journey with dinner and strawberries. My parents had a bunch of stuff they wanted me to look at and then tell them if I wanted. The stuff came from my mum's aunt's place. She's got Alzheimer's and is moving from her flat to a home, so she can't keep all her stuff. And since she has no children of her own, my mum, my sister and me were first in line. Luckily my mum is at least aware that I've grown up. When my grandmother moved from her big house to a flat (in 2011) and wanted me to take some things she had decided that I still wanted cute little porcelaine figurines like I did when I was 8. This time I was mostly interested in old books. Like my Musketeers set. In the end I decided on a pair of cool ice cream bowls, a cute looking metal case, a 19th century Bible, and a set of two books of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina. And then I finished Anansi Boys early in the night.
The top of the metal case I got :)

On Wednesday we had planned a full day in Malmö. I started the day by reading Career of Evil. In Malmö we first went to the Sci Fi book shop. I found lots of books that I wanted of course, but I decided on a new Gaiman book, Interworld, the first book in the series that inspired the Witcher games, The Last Wish, the next book in the Mass Effect series, Ascension, and the next book in the Dragon Age series, The Calling. Afterwards we met up with T, who we usually camp with at Sweden Rock, and we had fika at Espresso House. Around 5.30 we met up with J and W, also from Sweden Rock, and went to Rosegarden for dinner at their Asian buffet. After dinner we moved on to Lilla Torg and the Scottish pub DrumBar for drinks. We got home around 1am.

The majority of Thursday was spent doing nothing. I mostly read Career of Evil. Then Toni wanted to buy Coke for the rum he bought on Wednesday and so we decided to walk to the centre and buy some. The dog needed walking so we took her with us. Best behaved dog ever. She likes to say hello to dogs if they're quiet and calm. But if they start jumping around, pulling the leash or barking, she just looks at them and walk by without any troubles. She's getting old now (turned 10 this April), but she still likes to chase after sticks and balls, though she tires a lot faster nowadays. When she was younger she could keep going forever. Anyway, when we got back we did some rum&coke and after dinner we went to the annual little festival in the village. There we met up with J and W again :) We saw Bonafide and Perikles (they are almost traditional by now), and then we stayed a little for the once-famous trio in the end (Mikael Rickfors, Anne-Lie Rydé, Dan Hylander), but it didn't sound good so we left before that gig ended.

On Friday I had two friends to meet. At first we met up with L. I met her for the very first time last year, and despite being ten years younger than me we have some common interests. Except for HP there's a lot of Japanese stuff that we both like, and when we get over the initial awkwardness she's always nice to talk to. In the evening all three of us met up with H. I've talked to him online, but I hadn't met him before. He was a lot more shy than I expected, but still very nice and I'd very much like to meet him again sometime (for a longer time) so we can get over our awkwardness a bit more. It's always easier to talk to people online, but no matter how much you talk to them before meeting it's always awkward. Never changes. I don't think H knows, though, that when he smiles it makes him instantly likeable. After sushi dinner with L and H, we got on the train home and after a few drinks and more Career of Evil we went back to the festival and saw Backyard Babies with J and W.

I started Saturday with going to a flea market with my mum and her best friend. Flea markets are huge in the south. As soon as the sun comes out in March and all the way until September, there are flea markets and ordinary markets everywhere. Can't say the same for this area around Stockholm. It had been years since I last went to a flea market and it was a lot of fun! None the least to look at all the junk people try to sell. In the end I found eight books that I bought. Seven of them were Alexandre Dumas and the last one was Mark Twain. Most of Dumas was a six-parter of the Count of Monte Cristo, and the other Dumas was The Last Chevalier. The Mark Twain book was obviously Huckleberry Finn. Pokémon Go was also released in Sweden this day and I had a lot of fun with it in the car on the way there and back. After fika, dinner, and a couple of drinks at home we went back to the festival and saw Markoolio and a Kiss tribute band with J and W, then we went back home. I had a lot of fun with J and W playing Pokémon Go. Toni's phone is too old to handle it :P On the way back home we stopped at the local poké stop: the church (it's a small village. I counted maybe 5 poké stops in total over the map there). At the church we ran into several other young people running around with their phones. During the night I watched the gym at the graveyard (lol?) change teams every five minutes.
Above: My 19th century bible and (below and up): Two parts Anna Karenina by Tolstoy, Six parts The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, and The Last Chevalier by Alexandre Dumas (note Alduin and Garrus in the background). Also my list of Pokémon on the first day of release.
Below: A short clip of Markoolio.
video
On Sunday we went back home. I had Pokémon Go on when we were driven from the village to Malmö and the change in amount of gyms and poké stops was amazing. Sooooo many!!! :o Four poké stops just around the central station. Like wth xD I was hoping that I could use Pokémon Go while on the train, because it worked in the car. But it turns out that the train moved too fast and my phone couldn't keep up the GPS tracking because it switched too fast. I tried turning it on every time the train stopped but the time it stood still was too short for me to be able to make use of it. So sad. So instead I spent the entire trip reading, and finishing, Career of Evil. When we got home we unpacked and had some noodles for dinner. Then I went to bed early. Holidays were over. Work started again on Monday.

I spent most of the week having this song stuck in my head:

Monday, 11 July 2016

Sun's Height, week 3

The days of holiday when you have nothing special planned are kind of uneventful.

On Monday I scrubbed the flat from top to bottom til it was shining clean. I started at around 1pm and was done with laundry and food and everything at about 8pm. When Toni came home at 10.30pm I watched him play some Dark Souls before going to sleep early.

On Tuesday I spent most of my time finishing up the latest season of The Vampire Diaries. After dinner I played Clockwork Tales and completed it. Toni came home soon after and I watched him play some Dark Souls until bedtime.

On Wednesday it was Toni's birthday. I watched him play Dark Souls until dinner time when we ordered a big family sized sushi (50 pieces). After dinner he played some more and then we cosied up in the sofa with crisps and dip and watched the three last episodes of the latest season of Agents of Shield.

I spent Thursday playing The Forgotten City and when that was done I spent the rest of the day and some of the night writing. It went really well and felt awesome to get somewhere in my story ^^

On Friday I was mostly reading. First I finished Gaiman's short story collection M is for Magic, and I also started a bit on Anansi Boys. I also started playing Total War: Shogun 2, and when I felt like it was time for a break I did some more writing late into the night :)

On Saturday I mostly played Shogun 2 and when my campaign went to hell I went to watch Toni play some more Dark Souls.

And Sunday I spent the whole day in the sofa watching Toni play Dark Souls. I sit there, ready with my phone to look stuff up if we don't understand something or wonder something :P It's a lot of fun to watch, but I really don't want to play it myself :P

And that was my week. Lots of doing nothing xD

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Dealing with backlog: Total War: Shogun 2

This game and I have some history. I used to play a lot of Medieval II: Total War about 9 years ago and I remember being very excited about Shogun 2 when it was released. So I got it and started playing it, but for some reason I found it complicated and strange compared to Medieval II. So I got rid of it. Then I bought it again at Steam Summer Sale in 2013. And then I didn't play it until now.

You never really complete a Total War game, but I decided to play one grand campaign and then move on to the next game on my backlog list. I started with the clan Chosokabe. But that started badly and just continued to go badly. So I restarted the campaign as Hojo. Two starting regions felt better than one. And for a while it went really well. "For a while". From 1545 to 1575 (with four rounds per year) it went really well. I had lots of money throughout that time, no rebellion or disease, I could upgrade my buildings to max and build a very tough army. I allied with Takeda Clan and together we wiped out the smaller clans as well as Date and Oda who had begun to spread over Honshu. Then I got greedy. I tried for Kyoto. The seat of the shogunate and a zone that you're required to hold to win the campaign. I collected a huge army with every single one of my generals in it and marched. I lost spectactularly. Which also meant that for a while my daimyo's wife had to take command until her other son (the daimyo's little brother) came of age. I was at war with Chosokabe at this point and they had taken over almost all of the southern parts of Japan. Chosokabe took over Kyoto instead of me, but left only a small army there to occupy the town. So I seized the opportunity and took over the city for myself. It worked. For a few years I was the shogun. (But I needed 60 zones to win the grand campaign and I had only 13).

The loss of my army and leadership at Kyoto meant I had to scramble to build up a new force, but I was out of food and the army upkeep became too high so I had to raise the taxes to avoid going bankrupt. The people complained and I got rebellions all over. The small clans I had defeated came back and around the same time I was backstabbed by Takeda, and both Honma and Amako declared war on me. So there I was with rebellions that brought back Tokugawa, Saito and Satomi, and war with Chosokabe, Takeda, Honma and Amako. I was bankrupt, out of food, no money to hire soldiers, and war on all sides. All I could do was watch as they one by one took down my carefully annexed 13 zones.
 This is going so well and they all like me so much ^^;

Winter 1580 was the end of Hojo clan. Once the shogunate and a fearsome power.

It was a lot of fun to play Total War again :) I don't know if my way of playing has gotten worse since I last played a TW title (which was Empire), or if Shogun 2 isn't just harder than both Medieval II and Empire. The food factor isn't really a big deal in Empire or Medieval II, and I think the army upkeep cost was higher in Shogun 2 than in the others. Or I just got less money from resources in Shogun 2. In Medieval II I can easily get a full army in every city I control, while I sweep through medieval Europe and claim every country for my own. Same with Empire. But in Shogun 2, for some reason, my ordinary way of playing didn't work. I need a new tactic.

This game also gets a major gold star for having all the marching units speak Japanese! はっ!次のご命令は?(Yes! What's your next order?)

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Playing Skyrim quest mods: The Forgotten City

Next up in quest mods was The Forgotten City. It's in the top tier of Top Rated All Time on Steam Workshop and the comments promised an amazing time. It was fully voice-acted (and tbh the voice-acting was better than Falskaar), but putting voice-acting on some of the notes felt a little OTT. I read faster than that character is saying the letter, but if I don't wait around for the character to finish the letter then it doesn't show up as completed in my journal. -.-'

But anyway, you get a letter from Cassia asking you to come to a forgotten Dwemer ruin in the south west corner of Skyrim. Her brother has been gone in there for a long time and she wants you to come and save him.

The story is a mystery that needs to be solved. Time-travel is involved as well as paradoxes. What is the Dwarves' Law? Are the Dwemer busts on the walls really watching your every move? How does the sun under the ground work? And who will be the one to break the Dwarves' Law and condemn the whole city to slaughter? It's non-linear and there are multiple possible endings.
SPOILERS FROM THIS POINT ON

When you take the leap of faith you arrive in a deserted city. There are burned corpses everywhere and on the square in front of you, from a branch in the tree in the middle hangs the corpse of an old man. Approaching him he falls down and you pick up his suicide note. That's Altrius, Cassia's brother. How did he get old?! The letter mentions a loop of events and the key to the Lakehouse. The Citadel is the only door that can be opened and exploring it you find several letters in the inhabitants' rooms, as well as an indicator that one of them was clearly a member of the Dark Brotherhood. On the top floor you're attacked by Altrius' ghost and then you find the key to the Lakehouse on the Jarl's balcony. The balcony collapses once you pick up the key and you almost die. Then you head to the Lakehouse where you find a letter from the Jarl saying that he opened a portal to the past with his life energy as the price and asks the player to prevent the horror that happened.

So you go through the portal and end up in the past. You're taken to meet the Jarl and after explaining that you got there from the future and giving him his own letter he asks you to find out who is most likely to break the Dwarves' Law and doom them all.

SPOILERS OVER
As I talked to the characters and collected clues. I accidentally triggered the bad ending that made everyone die. I reloaded and went on. I kept on following up on clues and before I knew it I had found a good ending and completed the mod. Without even having discovered everything. When I watched gameplay videos on Youtube I realised just how much I had missed by discovering a good ending just like that. I didn't even go into the Palace or the barricaded Underground tunnels. I could of course reload and go through it all again... But I still feel like I completed it. My good ending made everyone (except for one) get out of there alive. But I have a hunch that there is another good ending that removes the Dwarves' Law from the city and people can live there without being afraid of a single mistake killing everyone. A part of me wants to replay to get that ending, But most of me is content with the ending I got.

My last 5 books: Biographies, comics, classics, and Japanese

1. J.K. Rowling: The Wizard Behind Harry Potter, by Marc Shapiro.
This is an unauthorized biography, which means that Shapiro has taken every interview and news snippet he could find and pieced together the story of J.K. Rowling and how Harry Potter became the phenomenon that it is. I have the updated version which was published just after the release of Deathly Hallows in 2007. As much as I know about Harry Potter and his fictional world, by reading this I discovered that I didn't know much about Rowling and I enjoyed getting to know her (albeit through the eyes of another). The book was alright, though it contained a few things that were obviously nothing but speculation on the author's part. It was also obvious that it was written so that the many children who enjoy Harry Potter could enjoy it. The language was simple, which felt very unprofessional after coming directly from an adult biography about Alice Cooper. But I really did enjoy reading it.

2. Alice Cooper: Golf Monster, by Alice Cooper with Keith & Kent Zimmerman.
My second Alice Cooper biography and I liked this one a lot more than Welcome to My Nightmare. In general they both talked about the same things. But Golf Monster was written with the help of the man himself and so it feels more personal and it has more details than Welcome to My Nightmare. Golf Monster stayed on the course of Coop's life, while Welcome to My Nightmare strayed into the changing music scene over the decades and started describing how that affected Alice. Which was interesting as well, but not nearly as much as reading about him. I haven't read many biographies, but this is the best one I've read!

3. Fables: The Deluxe Edition, vol 1, by Bill Willingham.
I got interested in reading the comics after I played Telltale's The Wolf Among Us. The game is based off the comics. I found this at Swedish Comic Con in Stockholm about 2 years ago and bought it then, but I haven't gotten around to reading it until now. The comics are very good and I didn't want to put it down once I started. I know a lot of fairy tales, but there are some nursery rhymes that have never been translated to Swedish (simply because they don't work in translation) and so I was never introduced to them growing up. So I know the fairy tale characters (even the slightly obscure ones like Rose Red), but I know hardly any nursery rhyme characters. I loved the relationship portrayed between Snow White and Rose Red, and I also enjoyed discovering how the relationship between Snow and Bigby differed between the comics and the game. I'm definitely looking forward to picking up the next volume!

4. The Three Musketeers, by Alexandre Dumas.
This was a major project. When my grandmother moved from her big house to a small flat, she gave away a lot of her things to her family and to charity. I picked up this beautiful collection of the Three Musketeers translated into Swedish in the early 60s, so the language is somewhat old-timey but not really old style. Does that make sense? I started reading this in May and I finished just last week. I was half expecting the books to be dull (French writers were really ruined in my eyes after university French), but they turned out to be very exciting and I couldn't put them down. I remember watching the movie (The Man with the Iron Mask) when I was little and my favourite back then was D'Artagnan, but after reading the books my favourite became Athos. Also because of the movie, every time the books mentioned Porthos I got a picture of Gerard Depardieu in my head. I originally thought the 16 books were parts of the same book (Les Misérables was 2000 pages long so...), so imagine my surprise when in book 6 everything starts to pan out and be resolved and there's an epilogue! I continued reading the books of course and realised that the other 10 books were part of the sequel Twenty Years After. The suddenly new setting messed with me, and to begin with I really didn't like the new setup, but it grew on me and after a while I was back to not wanting to stop reading. Checking it out on wikipedia made me realise that there's actually another story that takes place 10 years later. I don't think I'll be able to find it as part of my beautiful collection, but now I just really want the last part.

5. Durarara!!, vol 1, by Akiyo Satorigi.
I watched a few episodes of this anime back in 2010 and it grew on me. So when I found the manga in Japanese I decided to read it. My general opinion is that "maybe it gets better in the next volume". This first volume was basically just an introduction to the characters, and while the characters are interesting it became a mess to keep the names apart after such short introductions. It sets the stage that something is off in Ikebukuro, and presents the mystery that is the Black Biker. This volume is just a major stage setting, if the story kicks off in the second volume it will probably be better.