Friday, January 29, 2010

Another one bites the dust.

It's hard to believe that one could lose a friendship over caring, but it seems that's what's happening.

I last spoke to my friend Julie before Christmas. I actually called ON Christmas, but there was no reply. Nothing I was going to be concerned about, as I'm sure she was very busy. But as time passed, and I tried to reach her on a weekly basis, there was more and more silence. I left message after message for her, and there was no reply whatsoever.

Today, my concern for Julie finally crossed the line, and I contacted the State Police to do a wellness check on her. The police called me back and told me Julie was okay, and I was infinitely grateful.

Then I made the mistake of calling Julie again. I figured I'd get her voice mail again, but Julie picked up this time...and gave me what for. "Between losing the car, Kei having his tonsils out, and being pregnant again, I don't have time to be on the phone. I'm using up minutes talking to you right now! And then to have the cops call and threaten to come by? I don't need this, Rob."

Wow...and all I did was become concerned for her well-being.

This was a grand reason to blow an emotional fuse, and I retreated to my room to take Xanax, as I felt an anxiety attack coming on at full force. What's more, a crushing depression seemed to be rushing in on me. All I did was care, and I seem to be paying a price for doing so.

I guess it would be wisest not to call Julie in the near, or even distant future. She's married, now has a third child on the way, and simply doesn't have room for the likes of me. As with many people from my past, she went ahead and got a life, while mine is a stagnant existence with only medical disasters to chase. Any documentation with her as my emergency contact will have to be altered to show I have no one I want them to call. I have been, once again, shoved out of someone's life.

Oddly, my thoughts come around to the reasons I got a phone. The first was for family, of which only my father makes any effort to contact me. I called Stu and wished him a belated Happy New Year at the start of the month, but he apparently has other things to do; I don't count. Then there were all the doctors I needed to contact. Definitely need a phone for that. Another reason was the occasional friend whom I'd want to chat with.

Finally, there was Julie, existing in a category all on her own. She was even insistent that I be sure to let her know my number as soon as possible, which I did.

But now I seem to have a phone to chat with my father and doctors. That's it. Julie was the last of "the old guard," the friends I'd had since my 20s. Mush vanished the moment I had a crisis and needed help. And Julie...Well, all I asked during times of entended silence was that she call and say, "Things are crazy. I'll call when I have time. Love you. Bye." Heck, I was even considering buying her the same kind of phone I have, since the plan seems to be unbeatable. Alas, Julie has no more room in her life for me, and I won't try to muscle my way in at this point.

It shouldn't be a fight to be friends with someone.

If you'll excuse me, I'm off to do anything other than dwell on the fact that another friend has fallen by the wayside. Julie was the most important one of them all, and I somehow don't think I'm held in high regard on her end anymore. It's sad, really. She was one of the key reasons I fought to stay alive every time I felt those suicidal urges come along. Now I seem to be hanging around for my father. And when he passes, there's no telling hat I'll do with myself.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Epic rejection!

So...Last Friday night, Ray, Steve, and I pile into Ray's car and headed to the nearest mall, which is about 15 miles away. Various financial things had been discussed, and it was determined that Ray REALLY to own Star Trek Online, but doesn't have the funds for it. With his birthday coming up, I figured this would do nicely. By adding the credit of an unused Christmas gift, the purchase was much less than it would've been.

After we pre-ordered the game, we then went on a quest for a video game manual for me. I just wanted it, and it seemed that everywhere we went, this thing just didn't exist.

Our travels took us to a used book store, and I grabbed a couple of novels at $5 a pop for myself. I then headed toward the checkout with Steve in tow, and it was obvious to both of us that the cashier was VERY cute. But she wasn't initially at her register, and we stood on line for all of 30 seconds before she saw us standing there. The following conversation took place:

Cashier: Oh, I'm sorry. I forgot to turn off my light; (the register light signaling her line was open).
Me: Oh. Should we go to the other line?
Cashier: No, it's my fault. I'll ring you up.
Steve: You will be duly punished.
Cashier: Yeah, I guess I should be.
Me: (mildly flirtatious) Well, I would punish you, but I think you're a bit young for me.
Cashier: Oh, G-d...No!

There was absolutely nothing subtle about her delivery of that last line. One would think I'd asked for one of her kidneys out of the blue. Even Steve, who flirts with just about any female with a pulse, was impressed by the level of rejection I'd met. I wasn't even all that serious, yet that young woman made it infinitely clear that I should make every effort to shut up and go away.

Maybe I should just marry Nike and be done with the whole relationship thing. =/

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The dark side doesn't have cookies...

...It has WAR!

That is, Darksiders has War. This is a PS3 game that Cody and Ray picked up, and I've been sitting from time to time to watch Cody blast through the game. The story is pretty good, the graphics are awesome, and Cody is like a Jedi Master when it comes to video games.

Which is what made me a tad nervous about the very idea of playing this game. I mean, the guys have lots of console games, and what I fear most is the fact that there seem to be 1,000 commands that one needs to learn in order to play. My hands just don't have the coordination to handle such things as, "Press L3 + R1 + X + (triangle) to initiate a flying, charging swipe with your scythe." Such commands make me miss my old Sega CD, in which the control had an analog pad and buttons A, B, and C. And THAT used to make me miss my even older Atari console, in which there was a joystick and a red button.

However, at one point I decided I should at least give these games a shot. And the reason I had such a thought was because of the potential workout those consoles would give my hands.

My first serious foray into the console games the guys have was Ghostbusters. This had to be the simplest of all their games, in that there was no great demand to press so many buttons all at once. What's more, there's a "trophy" one can earn by beating the game after having done over $3,000.000 worth of damage to your surroundings. Talk about an opportunity to let out some pent up frustrations! I believe I left a room in the NY Public Library with little more than books scattered on the ground; I'd basically vaporized every chair, table, and lamp along the way.

And I beat it on "easy" mode. This wasn't easy, since, as I said, my hands just aren't what they used to be. But I did get the workout for which I was looking.

In fact, having watched Cody play Darksiders long enough, I decided to brave the game. Now I'm slowly working my way through demonic and angelic hordes, desperately trying to figure out who it was that summoned the first horseman, War, and brought the Apocalypse early. (Really...whoever took the Bible like this and turned it on its ear did some amazing storytelling.)

Ah, but as mentioned, this isn't about playing a game and having some fun with my free time. This is about trying to see what I can get my hands to do. And while I'm not getting all of the results I'd like to see, the heel of my palm, specifically that which connects to my thumbs, is either being built up or is merely swollen. It's likely a combination of both. What I should do is see if there's some way to get more of my fingers involved...but I don't see how at the moment. The consoles are designed to be held by your fingers and palms while your thumbs cause destruction on the game.

That said, I'm off, dear readers. I have a cold, or something acting like a cold, and it's making me miserable. So much so that I have all but demanded the company we tend to regularly have to stay away for a bit while I attempt to get over this thing. I hope it happens soon, since I ultimately feel guilty for enforcing isolation on my housemates. Then again, I didn't permanently ban anyone. I just want some peace while I'm sick. Not too much to ask, right?

Be well, folks...At least, be "weller" than I am at this moment.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Well, I have to complain SOMEWHERE...

Being a houseful of Star Trek nuts, we decided to engage in the open beta for Star Trek Online (STO). I played a bit, then went to the forums to give some input...but because *I* don't have an actual open beta account, I can't post anything there. Thus, I have come here, to the tiny audience that is my friends, to complain about what's wrong with this game. In no particular order...

1: The Aliens of the Federation Are Badly drawn Cartoon Characters - Seriously, the avatars in-game are poorly proportioned. I figured it out immediately. During character creation, you have to adjust the size of the avatar's head and the feet to something smaller. Then they look a little more...well, not realistic, just not as silly, either.

2: Distance and Speed Do Not Apply - Ever watch Star Trek TNG, or any of the associated shows and movies? Someone might say, while traveling at full impulse, "Slow to 50,000 kph." So now you're in space, and the avatar of your ship appears during the tutorial. You have a variety of missions where you have to travel from object to object, and the game gives you a bearing. That's great. Your target is 20 km. away, you kick your ship to full impulse, which equates to a rounded figure of 1,080,000,000 kph, and then...you CRAWL at at agonizingly slow speed toward your target. Seriously, people who were in the zone ahead of me were blasting targets before I got close...and it probably took them a few minutes to get there. Of course, we humans would probably never be able to react in time for that absurd speed...but as I watched my ship's avatar move, I was kinda hoping the crew would hop out and push to make it go faster.

3: Have the Ophthalmologist on Standby - As you navigate your ship through space, the heads-up display lets you know where other things are. If these targets are behind you somewhere, these notations are at the edge of the screen. The ones I saw were dark blue or brown...against the black of space. In addition, they are tiny. In order for me to see these bits of data, I had to take my glasses off and lean in close to the screen to see them. After some time, I had to get up and walk away to rest my eyes.

4: Casual Readers Need Not Invest - If you plan on getting this game, I suggest you take speed-reading courses, because there's no pause in the action when communications from the game pop up. I completed one mission and the next mission came up, with no option to delay the message until I was in a safe place. Oh, it's a message from Captain So-n-so! Well, I'll just sit back and read the details of this, since I enjoy the storylines of such games...and as I'm reading, I'm being attacked by Borg probes. Yeah, they're small and don't do much damage...unless they're swarming, which is what happened while I was reading the game content. Star Trek has always been more about the stories than the action, but this game doesn't seem to feel the same way.

5: The Tutorial Doesn't Teach Much - "Here's how you move; here's how you interact with people and things; good luck!" Wait...what?!? Where's all the information about all the complex stuff you need to do in-game? Where's the eye of the storm amidst the action to practice various skills? There isn't. Your best bet is to hope to get through the tutorial and find a quiet corner of the universe (almost literally!) and then sit down to read everything in the "ship's computer." Because if the tutorial did try to teach something else along the way, I was too busy trying to avoid crashing my ship, or getting killed by the Borg to read it.

6: My Biggest Complaint of All - Once again, we have a great idea for an MMO that has been sullied by the mind of Jack Emmert. I complained about him when it came to City of Heroes. I was ultimately depressed that he had anything to do with Champions Online. Now he has stuck his fingers into STO, and as you can see from the things listed prior to this, he's destroyed yet another gaming concept.

When does he take the hint and realize that he's not good at this? When does he wake up and say, "I think I'll take up basket weaving instead of destroying one good game after another"?

Ultimately, I'm THRILLED that he left City of Heroes behind so the OTHER developers could do great things with the game. Like the "enhancement incident." Oh, this made many players nuts, and caused more than a few to abandon the game altogether.

You see, there are these little things called "enhancements" in CoH. As you level up, certain levels grant you powers, while others grant you enhancement slots. Each power starts with one slot, and you can eventually add up to five more for a total of six. A good player mixes things up, and will place perhaps two accuracy enhancements into a power, and then maybe the rest boosting the damage. Alas, Jack saw that people were doing such things as slotting six damage enhancements into each power, effectively giving them a 200% bonus to damage and wiping out HUGE groups of bad guys, and Jack said, "I don't think that's fun." So, despite the fact that players were enjoying the game, and clamoring for new content, Jack felt in more important to introduce "Enhancement Diversity," or "ED." The more you sloted the same type of enhancement, the less each one would be worth, until the most you could hope for was a 4% boost instead of the 33% we'd all come to know and love. (It was always that fourth enhancement that dropped so seriously in value.)

Thankfully, the OTHER developers thought of a way around that...kinda. They created an invention system, and "invention sets" of enhancements that you could slot. Under Jack Emmert's reign of terror, you could hope for a 66% accuracy increase and a 95% damage boost with about five slots in one power. But now, thanks to those sets, one power can have a 66% boost to accuracy, 90% boost to damage, a 63% reduction in power cost, and a 63% reduction in recharge, all with five enhancements. The numbers might seem a tad smaller, but to pull that off with Jack at the helm, I'd need nine enhancement slots to get all that...and the most anyone can have in one power is six slots. (Or did you forget that already?)

So...It is with great disappointment that I report that STO doesn't seem like it's worth investing whatever price for which they might ask. (Probably around $50 for the game, and $15 a month thereafter.) Especially if you're a genuine Trekkie and would hate to see your beloved science fiction butchered. Of course, if they went with a far more traditional sense of Star Trek, in which there is no hunger or homelessness, they'd give the game away and let everyone who wants to play do so for free.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

54 and then some.

So, I had my monthly visit to the clinic today. I'd been meaning to discuss numerous things with the nurse practitioner and managed to forget each time. Thus, last night I wrote a list of things to discuss with her.

I get to the office and the regular nurse does her thing. I weighed in at a continually distressing 196. (Two meals a day and I still can't shake the weight.) My PB was 120 over 76...A touch higher than my normal 110 over 70. My pulse ox level was 98. And then she was about to leave, when she remembered to check my blood glucose. This was the one that threw us all for a loop. Instead of being a nice 70 or 80, or my normal 200 by the time I reach the clinic, my blood sugar was 54. FIFTY...FOUR. Despite it being so low, I felt fine. Still, the nurse rushed off to get me a piece of candy, which I ingested at her insistence.

Then the NP showed up, and I whipped out the list to discuss everything with her. And the two things that seemed to catch the most interest was the fact that I've been experiencing greater pain than ever before, and something about my left foot didn't look right.

Okay...the pain issue was fixed with an increase in my morphine. Mind you, the clinic folk weren't comfortable prescribing three tablets a day, so I've gone from 30 mg. three times a day to 60 mg. twice a day. It's still an increase, and it should offer me the relief I need.

The second thing...? Well, that's where the news isn't so great at all. My Charcot's joint may be advancing, and my left foot may be showing signs of visibly deforming. What's more, because I tend to walk in such a way as to keep the pressure off my right big toe, my right foot may also be "bowing," as she called it.

The time has come for x-rays to be taken of both feet to see what's going on in there. And because of pain I've been having in my knees, she decided we should try to get a look inside those as well.

I'm kinda scared, folks. Have you ever seen an x-ray of someone with Charcot's foot? Go ahead and look around online. It looks a great deal like the bones become one giant bone - singular - inside the foot, which leads to extensive soft tissue damage. The body desperately tries to fix the foot after the damage has already been done, and a bony protrusion breaking the skin is not uncommon. Ulcers, infection, and amputation are also common. And I have a growing dread that this is where my health, or lack thereof, is taking me.

And this is great...having written the words, I'm now more conscious of the problem than ever before. I'm off unwind.

PS: No responses to my computer woes, other than Lou saying there's nothing she can do. I understand that, the love I'll never have. =P But thanks for the thought.

Friday, January 8, 2010

And then the happy computer...

...died.

Yes, the computer went from functioning on rare occasion to giving me nothing but the B.S.O.D. That's "Blue Screen Of Doom," for those unfamiliar with the term. I only had one goal when starting it up of late, and that was to save what little I've accomplished on "The Suicide Note." Now it's gone, with next to no hope of recovering what I've rewritten to date.

And I think one of the worst things I did was to name the computer. "Prometheus." I chose that because it's more than the name of a Greek titan; it also means "forethought." I liked to imagine that when I'd sit down to write, I was engaging my brain before putting the words down. Now Prometheus is dead, and it would seem there's no hope of reviving the system. Oh, I just might be able to find a way to get it running and restore it to its factory settings. But everything that was on it would be gone.

Save for my housemates computers, I am now computerless. Those late-night urges to write will have to wait until a new system is built, and that could take until September without further aid. I even went as far as to ask Ray's sister if perhaps she could make me the sizable loan of $900 to get it built faster, but there was no commitment on her part, and I'm not sure there will be. And with my time limited on my housemates' computers...well, my ability to stay in touch may become equally as limited. =(

This is Rob, hoping people are better off than I.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Once upon a time, there was a happy computer...

It lived with a nice man, named Rob. And the computer was pleased to do all that Rob asked of it. Oh, it would become sick from time to time, but Rob got something called an extended warranty. Thus, when the computer fell ill, Rob was able to call specialists to fix it.

Then the warranty ended, and the happy computer blew up.

The end.

Seriously, this seems to be the way all computers work. You buy them, spend a little extra to ensure they work for an extended period of time, and the moment the warranty ends, the system practically develops a technological version of cancer.

Over the last few weeks, my computer has stopped working at random moments. I've tried to minimalize what I do with it, such as restrict myself to writing...but even that seems to be too much of a task. I will crank out a full page of something, only to have the entire system lock up on me. Somewhere along the way, the auto-save function fails, and by the time I get the computer to agree to restart, which is a trick unto itself, I discover most of what I've written is gone. My real favorite when writing is to hit ctrl+S to save it, only to have the computer lock up at THAT moment.

As for starting the computer...The "trick," as I mentioned before, is to pound on the tower repeatedly until something inside is jostled just right. Otherwise, the power light is yellow, and the fan sounds like it's on overdrive.

I'm not a dimwit. I know just a few things about my computer that I can check to see what's going on. I mean, I got it up in safe mode and checked the event log. Aside from those times where my DVD ROM has refused to read a disc, there's been another issue in which a piece of connected hardware isn't working. Does the computer tell me what piece it is? No, that would make things simple. I also started the system in a diagnostic mode and spent some time checking the hardware. It passed all the tests I could run. I am left to believe Stan has possessed my computer, and is running it in a chaotic evil fashion.

This means that I can't do anything on my computer with a sense of comfort. I want to be working on my rewrite of "The Suicide Note," but don't trust my system to save it. Watching a movie in the quiet of my room, or playing a game is a waste, because that event log had plenty of "disc read error" messages to make me leery of using it, not to mention the CD-RW drive keeps popping open at random.

All of this boils down to the fact that I need a new computer DESPERATELY. I gave my Dad a call to ask if he would LOAN me $900 to get it built faster, and he said he just couldn't afford to do it. Thus, I will have to do it $100 at a time over the next year, slowly gathering the parts for my housemate Cody to assemble. Thus far, between last month and this month, we've pruchased an inexpensive but well-ventilated case and, as of today, a mother board.

I suppose the key is that I want to have a computer built that won't be obsolete as swiftly as the standard store-bought systems. My housemates, for example, have systems with quad processors in them...which, essentially, is overdoing the capacity needed for just about anything out there at the moment. I'm told there are just a few programs, and not very good ones, that might need a dual processor. For all I know, by the time I make the purchase, octo-processors will be available.

So...any of my faithful readers out there sitting on large piles of cash? =P

Seriously, the sooner I get this thing built, the happier everyone will be. I can stop invading my housemates' rooms and start doing things in the privacy of MY little cave. There are things going into "the Suicide Note" I'd rather not reveal just yet, since I'm just getting to know them. As I write it, I'll be making the necessary mental adjustments to get it published, in which I'll need to brace for the entire world knowing that I have...well, some issues I haven't discussed with anyone. (Again, I'm trying to keep this blog PG-13 at the most.) And loading their computers with an extra program here, or an extra program there...it's not fair to them.

Yeah, my PayPal account is still open, but the max I can take out is $500 in a single month. It rarely gets filled to capacity, anyway, and I'm not exactly looking for the kind of help I had in the past. I'd honestly appreciate the lump sum, if possible.

It's a tall order, my friends, and I suspect anyone who'd consider it will think carefully about it. So let me be clear about the terms of this loan, shoul anyone actually consider it. I spoke to Cody and Ray when I was going to approach my father, and I made it clear that I would be $100/month shy should Dad agree to help me. The reason for that was my intent to pay Dad $100/month until said loan was paid off. And living on $700/month isn't as hard here as it was in AZ. These guys only come to me when their finances are in a bad way and something is needed. They never come at me with something they want. (Well, there was the HD TV that's now in the living room, but that was our X-Mas gift to one another, and Cody paid for most of it; Ray and I chipped in only $100 each. And, come the end of Dec., there was over $90 still in my bank account!) Unless some dire financial emergency comes along, which has yet to happen here, I can commit to $100 per month as a payback schedule.

Now, I mentioned that someone had already attempted to help me with the new computer thing. That was toward the end of Sept./start of Oct. That money went toward moving finances, much to my regret...kinda. I mean, I was glad to spend the money and help housemates, and by extension myself, out. So to the person that gave me $200...if you feel the need to be paid back, let me know, and we'll see what we can work out.

Then again, I never did ask anyone for holiday gifts. NINE OF YOU SEND ME LATE X-MAS GIFTS OF $100 EACH! =P

*contented sigh* Y'know, this is a wonderful difference from when I was living alone in AZ. Not only have I been able to buy things that I simply WANT, but I still manage to have a little still in the bank come the end of each month. It wasn't that long ago when I was pleading on a regular basis to be able to afford something to eat. Now, on our seemingly regular trips to Wal-Mart, I can pass a movie, a household item that would make the home a better place, or even help to feed my housemates when their wallets are empty. To a degree, I'm living again, instead of merely existing. And that, my friends, is a good feeling. =)

If you are considering lending me aid in the great computer endeavor, contact me first! The reason I say that is my intent to pay people back for this, as a computer is actually a luxury in my eyes. Should a number of people come together on this, I need to split my payments between them. Speak before you send...and whatever you do, don't, under any circumstances, send money to my old address in AZ. It will NOT be forwarded, and your donations will go nowhere except, possibly, into the wrong pockets. Contact me before you help, IF you help.

Be well, my collection of dear friends. Be very, VERY well. =)