Friday, February 26, 2010


We got the Wii about a year ago, but still have only about a half dozen games. The most recent addition to our collection is Godzilla: Unleashed, a fighting game featuring the King of the Monsters himself and nearly all the allies and enemies he's fought with/against over the years. I'm sure I don't have to remind anyone about how cool that is.

Although all our Wii games use a combination of buttons and motions to play, most of them require only slight and relatively slow motions (at least the ones I play). However, in Godzilla your attacks (punches, kicks, and monster-dependent heavy attacks) are modified by how you swing the Wii remote. Jumping and rushing are controlled by swinging the nunchuck. When you're playing a fighting game, you're not going to restrict yourself to slight and slow motions. So, somewhere between last week's mortal combat with Gigan and an epic battle with King Ghidorah (which left the cities of Seattle and Osaka in ruins), I ended up with a pretty sore right elbow. Today's fight between me (I was Anguirus at the time), Godzilla, Destroyah, King Ghidorah, and Space Godzilla didn't help matters.

Before we got one, everyone we knew with a Wii had two things to say about it. First, they would tell us how much fun they are. Second, they'd warn us that you can hurt yourself if you're not careful swinging the controls around. I agree with both statements.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Computer Addicts

So, the wife is playing on the laptop (Bob), the kids are playing on the old desktop (Robby), and I'm playing on the newest edition to our family (HAL). It's amazing how you can have the entire family in just two adjacent rooms and yet have absolutely no personal contact.

HAL (pictures to be forthcoming) is truly a monster of a computer that was built for us by a coworker of mine. It has an AMD 2.61 GHz quad core processor, 4 GB of dual channel DDR3 RAM (it's the fatest RAM available; the sticks actually have their own heat sinks), one of the best video cards on the market (the card has its own cooling fans), dual 18.5" LCD monitors, and (my pride and joy) a solid state hard drive. The hard drive has no moving parts and some of the fastest read and write speeds you can find. HAL has a brag-worthy Windows performance index of 7.1 on a scale from 0 to 7.9.

I'm also pretty sure that HAL has absorbed a noticeable portion of my soul.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

I Don't Get You

Every so often I interact with someone I just don't understand. It's not that we disagree politically, although we very well might. It's not our religious beliefs that are different; sometimes the only commonality between me and such people is our religion. It's not even culture or language; once I understood Spanish better I actually felt more of a kinship with the people in Veracruz, Mexico than in many parts of the United States.

What I'm talking about are people whose thought processes and logical sense are so diametrically opposed to my own that I almost feel like I'm talking to some alien being. I can't even guess what motivates them or why they make the decisions they do. Sometimes they do things that I find immensely rude, but they seem completely unaware that their actions are offensive. Trying to engage them in conversation is fruitless since I can't come up with anything that interests both of us. I've even found myself talking about the weather if only because the fact that we're both experiencing it is the only thing we have in common. It's difficult to explain the sensation; I can only describe it as if there were a wall or a thick pane of glass between them and me that makes it hard to communicate. Is this an unusual observation or do other people feel this way?

This sense of strangeness reminds me of the concept of the "Hierarchy of Foreignness" introduced in Orson Scott Card's science fiction novel Ender's Game and its sequels. This hierarchy divides our relationship with other intelligent beings into several tiers: utlanning ("the stranger we recognize as being a human of our world, but of another city or country"), framling ("the stranger we recognize as human, but of another world"), raman ("the stranger we recognize as human, but of another species"), and varelse ("the true alien, which includes all of the animals, for with them no conversation is possible. They live, but we cannot guess what purpose or causes make them act. They might be intelligent, they might be self-aware, but we cannot know it").

Now that I think about it, that last paragraph probably puts me into most people's "alien" category.


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