Monday, February 16, 2009

Left 4 Dead: Good news for zombie lovers!

It sounds like the downloadable content for Left 4 Dead will be free! There was speculation before that Valve might make us pay for it, but now it seems to be official that the new game modes and will be available for free, on both PC and XBox 360.

Of course, you're not really expected to pay for anything during the zombie apocalypse, anyway...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Day

The anesthesia was starting to wear off. I squinted groggily at the harsh light suspended above me. The world swam out of focus, and I closed my eyes against the nausea. I was lying on a hard surface; the operating table. I opened my eyes again. To my left was a stainless steel tray table loaded with surgical tools, all of which looked very sharp and very recently used.

"I hope you don't mind, my dear," she said. Her white tunic was stained red, and she was holding a jar in one hand. Her eyes gleamed. "After all, you said that you would give me your heart." She held up the jar and I could see something suspended in murky brown liquid.

I looked down at the bloody hole in my chest and could make out the movement of brass clockwork. She saw my look and said, "You'll have to remember to wind it once a day." A soft ticking had replaced my heartbeat.

"I only took your heart." She grinned. "You're lucky you're not dating a zombie."

Happy Valentine's Day, everybody!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Relevant to My Interests

Warning: videos contain Nazi mechs fighting T-34s and dangerous levels of awesome.

Apparently this show, First Squad, is about a Nazi plot to raise Crusaders from the dead to fight for the Third Reich, and the supernaturally-gifted Soviet teenagers who have to stop them. I kid you not. THIS IS RELEVANT TO MY INTERESTS.

Go to the site and download the high-quality trailer from the Downloads page. You'll be re-watching it many times anyway, so you might as well see it in good quality.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Rat Mortality

First and foremost, thank you to all of you for your kindness. I was truly touched by all of your sympathy. Musashi was a sweet little rat and I miss him. Ever since I got my rats, I knew they were sick, so I prepared myself for losing them. That made it a little bit easier, but what really helped was having all of you.

One thing that struck me was that, even when I couldn't wrap my head around the fact that I would never get to play with Musashi again, I had to deal with the real fact of disposing of his body. He died in a corner of the cage, and I had to work his body out of there. It had stiffened in death, so this wasn't easy. Even when the intellectual part of my brain was trying to come to terms with the reality of his death, the practical part of my brain was determining the best angle of extraction.

Mostly I was reminded of the line in Hamlet: "and now, how abhorred
in my imagination it is! my gorge rises at it."

The thing in the cage was merely the body Musashi had inhabited for a year and a half. Musashi was gone.

Thanks again to all of you. I'm really doing well. My life is going extremely well, and I am good at moving on, for better or for worse. I'll always remember Musashi, and though I am sure the memories will fade with time, I will know that I enjoyed having him and was glad for that, even after.

Monday, February 9, 2009

RIP Musashi, Summer 2007-Feb 9, 2009

I got my rat Musashi, along with my other rat Rasputin, the summer I graduated from college. While Rasputin is the smart one, Musashi was the fun one. Rasputin was happy sitting around on his lardy ass, but Musashi was always willing to come out of the cage and run around on people. He also had a bit of a problem with bladder control, but that cleared up (mostly) as he became more used to people. His disposition around people earned him the nickname "sweetie."

As a white-furred, pink-eyed rat, Musashi had more sensitive eyes than Rasputin, which meant that he loved hiding in people's clothes and dark rooms. Whenever I cleaned their cage, he would always end up either in the closet or the storage room. He would always explore the room a little bit first, though, and he could usually be counted on to check up on me in the bathroom as I washed the bottom of their cage and their house.

At first, Rasputin was the sickly one and Musashi was healthy. Pets that are bought from chain stores are notoriously prone to respiratory infections. I got my guys at Petsmart, and they both had breathing problems throughout their lives. Rasputin's breathing problems seemed to improve after a while, but Musashi started having trouble breathing, and it got better and worse for the rest of his life. I remember one particularly scary night when he seemed so sick that I feared he wouldn't last the night, so he slept in my bed with me that night. His breathing was so shallow and his heart rate so high that he picked up his other nickname, "little bird."

When I cleaned the rats' cage yesterday, Musashi was so weak that he walked in dazed circles before limping around the room. I hoped that giving him some more food would help, but when I came home this morning I found him at the bottom of the cage, on his back, dead. So I grabbed a plastic bag, pulled his stiff body from the cage, put it in my kitchen trash, and took the whole thing out to the dumpster. He deserved better.

So if you have any pets, give them an extra squeeze for Musashi today.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Living in Berkeley

BART Musicians vs Homeless Guy Who Ain't Afraid of No Po-lice

While waiting for her BART train to arrive, we saw a pair of musicians setting up their musical act at the entrance to the station. This isn't unusual: there are often musicians trying to earn a buck at the BART station. (We also passed a homeless guy who yelled "Hey, white boy! Hey, white boy!" either at me or at the musicians. This wasn't unusual, either.) What was unusual, however, was the instruments they were using. Rather than being some unwashed hipster-hippies with guitars, these guys had a shamisen and an accordion. They started playing. These guys were pretty good.

And then the homeless guy started pestering them. It got pretty ugly, and the accordion player had to stop and leave so that he could call the police. The shamisen player paused as well, and we went over to talk to him. He was selling some CDs from other projects he and the accordion guy had done in the past. We both gave him a little money to show our appreciation.

To me, this whole experience sums up what it's like to live in Berkeley: genuinely cool, creative, and unusual people, juxtaposed with unruly pseudo-criminals. Well, so it goes.