Thursday, July 26, 2012

Captain's Log, Day 93: I Just Won a Bet

          Someone made a bet with me.
          ...and we all know how THAT'S gonna end...
          Shorty made the sort of squealing noise normally associated with small rodents being stepped on. "EEEEEEE!!!! That's how many short jokes, now?"
          I shrugged. "At least five in the last few minutes."
          I attempted to keep a straight face, but I defy anyone to manage that while watching a short person wave her hands around in hopeless futility. It was probably a good thing that she was a few thousand miles away from me at this precise moment, or she probably would have attempted to kill me. "Probably because short people are such an easy target?"

          Her face was priceless, even through the video chat app. I spared a moment to wish aloud, "Ughh, I wish I had a camera!!" 
          "It's a good thing you don't!" she retorted, a few milliseconds before I smacked myself. "Hey, what--"
          "I'm an idiot!" I complained. "I can just take screenshots and save them!"
          "What? NO! Wait, you wouldn't...would you?"
          I was busily pulling open Paint windows in preparation for screenshots, in the meantime giving my best Cheshire Cat grin. Shorty groaned. "This is going to be another phone-in-the-toilet thing, isn't it?"

"Why am I talking to this freakishly tall lunatic?"
Wonder if she means me...?
          The "phone-in-the-toilet thing" was referring to a prank I pulled on her last semester. She had forgotten where she had put her phone, and I found it before she did and quietly hid it. Then I made a quick trip to the bathroom. When I got back, Shorty was positive that I took it, so (being the absurd person that I am) I told her I hid it in the back of the toilet, in the little water container thingy. (I'm sure there's a word for it, but I can't think of it.) She knew I was kidding, and asked me why she thought I would believe such a thing; because if I'd REALLY dropped her phone in the water, she would have killed me on the spot. I told her that I'd sealed it in a Ziplock bag before I put it in there. After some back and forth discussion, I managed to convince her that I had put it in there, and she departed to check. When she was gone, I quickly put her phone back on the table. Shorty came back laughing and berating me for being a liar, and demanded to know WHERE HER PHONE WAS!!! I managed to keep a straight face while she rummaged through my backpack, but completely lost it when she discovered the phone sitting nicely on the table. I ostentatiously carried a Ziplock with me through the rest of the semester, and managed to trick her three more times with the same prank. It's been a running joke ever since; whenever I say something completely ridiculous that has a slight hint of possible truth (mostly when I'm trying to convince her of something), Shorty complains that "'s going to be another "phone-in-the-toilet thing again!!!"

"...he wouldn't...would he? Noo, I'm sure he wouldn...EEEEEEE!!!!!"
          But I digress.
          "Of course it won't!" I reassured Shorty. "I think I'll use these photos in an article about you!" (I had been kidding at the time.) "By the way, how did you like the other one you were in?"
          More mouse noises. "When you texted me and said you were writing about me I thought you were just going to do like some random short joke and then I read it and you had a picture up and EEEEEE!!!! But it was awesome, I'll give you that!"
          I applauded the run-on sentence. "Hmm, I should do an article on you..." I mused aloud, just to see what her reaction was.
          Shorty fell over. 

I wish I had been a bit faster with the screenshot on this one, but
my computer locked up. She was midway through falling, though!
          "NO!!! YOU WOULDN'T!!! This is NOT going to be another phone-in-the-toilet incident NO!!! There's no way...I bet you won't! Noooo....."
          I perked up. "You serious about that bet? How much are you willing to bet on that?"
          Shorty glared at me, a wasted effort since the corners of her mouth kept twitching. "A lot less after that last article, but but still...noo, you wouldn't. Not a chance. I WILL NOT BE TRICKED AGAIN!!!"

 that's the story behind the bet. I think I've perpetrated the perfect she's going to be forced to be completely confused regarding everything I say, because I might just do it! 
          And hilariously enough, Shorty just texted me to inquire, "You really didn't take those pics, did you?" I'm posting this to her wall and hiding for the rest of the year...did I mention she owns a lot of guns?

Maybe it's a short person thing...? They need to
do SOMETHING to avoid getting stepped on....

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Captain's Log, Day 92: The Zombies Are Coming!!!

          ...okay, probably not. But it never hurts to be prepared, right?
          I did an article way back when I was just starting this blog (and obviously sleep-deprived) entitled APOCALYPSE!!!!, with a few more exclamations points than I will put here because 1) I don't need to use up that much space, and 2) I'm lazy. However, due to some inexplicable oversight, I never bothered to cover the zombie apocalypse, which seems strange because I was one of the co-founders of the game Humans versus Zombies at my college.

Never let theater students be the zombies. They get wayyy too into it.
           Needless to say, I figure that it's high time I enlighten people on proper zombie avoidance, seeing as most folks only have the basics of a plan that goes something along the lines of "Yeah, right, Radar...don't be a moron, that would never happen!"
           ....oh, wait, that's my parents.
           What I meant to say was, most college kids have a plan, if only because dreaming up zombie apocalypse plans and watching Resident Evil are more exciting than studying for Calc III, even though Resident Evil has more stupid decisions in it than my entire life history to date (which is saying something). I spent literally the entire movie yelling at the characters, prompting my friends to periodically try to calm me down with a baseball bat. 
           I'm so far off my original point that I can't see it with a telescope. 
           Anyway, the typical plan involves running like mad for the nearest gun store, raiding it for guns and ammunition, then retiring to a safely boarded-up house to have some fun by killing zombies through the window slits. That is, unfortunately, terribly impractical. As most gun shops are run by people who like guns and (more importantly) people who know how to use guns and may not want to give up their offensive power, that might be the last place you want to go, especially since the entire non-zombified population will be there, banging on the doors until they're turned into hors d'oeuvres by the zombies, who are presumably laughing their undead heads off at the short-sightedness of the general population. 
            So anyway, assuming you have a gun and supplies, you decide to hole up for a while in your impenetrable house made of wood...great idea there, Eisenstein. You know what will happen when your food runs out? By the time you get to that point, there will be a mob of drooling zombies outside that all the king's guns and all the king's ammo aren't going to be able to shift long enough for you to nip out for a quick bite to eat. Zombies are's not like they've got jobs or anything.
"Hurry up and come out, will you? I'm late for my 9 o'clock
            Makes me wonder sometimes...if a zombie ate a drunk guy, how buzzed would he get? I DON'T NEED AN ANSWER TO THAT, IT WAS RHETORICAL. 
            So I have some good news and bad news. The good news is, farm kids and gun store owners will probably survive the first few days quite easily, while the bad news is that the rest of you are probably out there being caught and devoured. Actually, I'm going to include my friend Shorty in that category, too, as she currently owns more guns than the US Army.
And uses them on people who make fun of her height.
She's 4' 11". I'm currently hiding.
            Anyway, after the first few days, it all evens out, although the farm boys still have an advantage because we live a million miles away from ANYWHERE (not that I'm annoyed by that or anything) and we can grow our own food and snipe zombies from miles away. If you prefer the city, though, make sure you keep moving. Zombies can surround a house and sit patiently on their rotting kiesters for days waiting for you to come out for dinner. 
            I would suggest moving in groups and heading for the country, but not all at once. That would cause a terrific traffic jam, leading more of you to be zombie lunch, and increasing the odds that I would have to play Whack-A-Mole with a rifle from two miles away, except it would be more like Shoot A Zombie and and I would probably be using my rocket launcher because--let's face it--what else am I going to be designing when I'm a million miles from ANYWHERE???
            Okay, okay, I'm building the Ironman suit too...guess that makes me a definite survivor, huh?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Captain's Log, Day 91: The Sequel!

          I'm now almost done with one of my books, but in order to finish it, I kinda needed to know where I wanted to go with the sequel. Couldn't resist posting the first bit of it up to see what everyone thinks of it so far! It's set on an uninhabited planet outside the Solar System right in the middle of a skirmish.

Warrior's Mission

          I hurled myself backwards, away from the grenade flipping over trench wall. I probably could have used my Air powers to throw it right back where it had come from, but I was a bit distracted. Being targeted by every sniper out there tends to do that to you.
          The grenade went off with a muffled thud. My helmet spared me the noise, while my armor spared me the shrapnel. I paused for a moment to praise my apparently amnesiastic self for designing such good gear before scooping up my plasma rifle and poking my head back over the top of the trench.
          The advancing troops, confident that they had cleared their one remaining obstacle out of the way, were streaming towards the trench that I was the sole occupier of. They were apparently not aware that a Warrior was that occupier. I opened fire, managing to take down seven of the 15-person squad and shoot two more grenades out of the air before they retreated.
          “Dangit, Ryan, didn’t you hear the retreat order?”
          I glanced sideways as Hyatt rolled into the trench next to me. Like me, he was wearing a full battlesuit; unlike me, his spells were nearly gone. I saw burn marks across his arms and chest.
          “Yeah, I did, but if we lose this trench, it’s gonna take us months to get it back,” I warned, snapping off another few shots without really aiming. “When did Command say reinforcements were coming?”
          “They’re not warping in until mid-cycle,” Hyatt snorted, wrist gun spinning as he launched his own attack. “That’s 12 hours from now. We can’t hold the trench that long, especially not with the air support arriving.”
          I stared down Serenity Valley, which seemed to me to be most unfortunately named at this point in time. “Air strike? Why didn’t I hear about this?”
          “They just got wind of it,” Hyatt grunted.
          “Was that a pun?” I didn’t wait for his reply, flipping through the menus in on my visor screen until I found what I was looking for. “Command, this is Stormwalker Ryan from Trench Oh-Seven-Seven-Five. What’s this about an airstrike?”
          Devonius’s voice filled my headset, causing me to grit my teeth with hatred. “Soldier, that information does not concern you. Pull out now.”
          “With all due respect, General, it does concern me. Can you get the reinforcements here if the air is cleared?”
          “Soldier, that was an order. Pull out now!”
          “That’s a stupid order, sir. Answer my question!”
          I snarled and cut the link, turning to Hyatt. “Get on the horn to our captain, let him know that the anti-aircraft batteries have been taken and the strike is being held back.”
          Hyatt shot a jet of water out of his palm to knock away an incoming grenade. “You want me to lie? I can see their anti-aircraft batteries from here! They’re still under enemy control!”
          “Knowing your communications array, they won’t be by the time you raise the captain. Do it!”
          I vaulted out of the trench before Hyatt could fully understand what I meant and charged across the three hundred or so feet separating me from my goal. Under normal circumstances, and for a normal soldier, this would be a suicide mission. But these were not normal circumstances.
          And I was a Warrior. Not that anyone else needed to know that.
          My shield spiraled out on my left arm just in time to block two plasma blasts coming in from the sentries, who were clearly not ready for this. I located their box and leapt, reaching over my right shoulder for one of my blades. One midair flip and quick strike later, and their heads were no longer in company with their bodies.
          I landed in the enemy trench and channeled fire down my blade. The spear of pure plasma leapt off the tip to punch straight through spells, chestplates, and torsos. All the soldiers down one side of the trench collapsed, dead. I spun and whipped my blade through two more soldiers before I found who I was looking for. The leader of the group was firing at me, guns in all four of his hands, when I batted the bolts aside with my shield and smashed him right in his helmeted face with it. He flew backwards, right towards the heavily armored doors of the anti-aircraft battery…
          …and sailed right through as they slid open automatically for him.
          As I’d expected, he had the key for the doors somewhere in his body. I hurled my shield at the quickly-closing doors, wedging them open. Running forward, I threw my legs forward into a slide underneath the shield, reaching up with one hand to catch the edge of my shield to both yank it free and arrest my forward progress into the room.
          Good thing too; plasma fire blew out the deck where I would have skidded. I spun up my wrist gun and opened fire, covering myself with my shield. I also folded out the minigun in my powerpack on my back and flipped it over my shoulder to help rake the interior with plasma fire, visor aiding me in targeting opponents.
          Fifteen seconds later, it was all over. I stepped over the charred alien corpses to the controls, visor lighting up with translations and schematics as it scanned the interior of the room. A few more seconds, and I had set the computer to fire back up the valley at its own aircraft.
          The fighters were caught completely flat-footed, the squadron decimated in seconds. I activated my comm., to find Captain Rodgers giving Hyatt heck over the channel for drinking on duty.
          “Ryan here, sir, and Hyatt wasn’t drinking,” I cut in. “I ordered him to call in with those reports.”
          “Ryan, why the heck are you still out there? I ordered a retreat!” Rodgers shouted.
          “Musta missed that call,” I shrugged.
          “Twelve times??”
          “I was in the middle of a counter-attack,” I shot back. “The anti-aircraft gun has been captured and reprogrammed to blast Scoric fighters into little-bitty pieces and we now own Trench Oh-Seven-Seven-Six. Got any backup coming, as per my request?”
          I knew I would never get tired of getting those shocked silences from my commanding officers, even though that usually ended with my butt getting transferred to another unit. “Three squads are coming your way,” Rodgers finally came back. There was a pause, and I waited for the inevitable transfer orders.
          It was his turn to catch me by surprise. “Unit Three has orders to report to you for command. Congratulations on your promotion, Squad Leader.”

Monday, July 23, 2012

Captain's Log, Day 90: Just a Little Bit of Programming....

          For BEHOLD!!! I bring you tidings of great comics, which shall be for all people!
          ...or something like that.
          Yes, you guessed right; my brother Nemesis has finally jumped on the webcomic bandwagon and will be putting out a new Silly Snake and Turtle comic strip every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday! Okay, in the interest of accuracy, he will be emailing the comics to me to upload every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, but hey--I get to read them first!!! MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaa......
          Naturally, though, it is first necessary to iron out all the issues with the page and uploading procedure. I have GOT to stop playing with the html code. Not everything needs to be modified...not everything needs to be modified...oh, who am I kidding, of course it does!!!
          I decided to be a bit clever with this notification of brotherly ambition and set it to post at the EXACT same time Nemesis's first comic goes up! Well, his first new comic, I should say--I uploaded one of his old ones last night to test border spacing.

Cover art for the new webcomic!
          Oh, and speaking of programming, I decided to reboot the JARVISBETA AI so I could test some new code that I wasn't sure of (I was afraid it would accidentally wreck SKYNET or something). The interesting result was that JARVISBETA shut down my computer, which wasn't quite what I was going for but a result that could be useful if I ever needed to crash my computer for some reason.
          ...or someone else's...MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Captain's Log, Day 89: Setbacks and Potential Changes

          I keep running into setbacks.
          It shouldn't be surprising at this point, I suppose; but, has anyone ever noticed that, no matter how much we prepare for it, it's still surprising?
          Take, for instance, the cannon I built back when I was 12. I knew I would get busted by my parents at some point, but I was hoping it would be after I cleared the pond with the Play-Dough tube I was attempting to shoot. Unfortunately, my brother Nemesis decided to get Mom to watch the first shot, and she quickly arrested the experiment. (At least I got off several shots with the air cannon I had built...too bad the compressor was noisier than anticipated.)
          What with everything I get into that has tendencies to fail (which is almost literally everything; I create complications, for heaven's sake), one might think that after a while, I would learn my lesson, but fact, to take my mind off of the failure, I usually jump right into another project with all the zeal of someone who is absolutely convinced that this time he won't get in trouble.
          Mmhmm, right. Although the rocket launcher was spectacular.
          In this case, I am rebounding from a series of really annoying failures by redesigning my blog. For anyone who was reading this during the last hour before this gets posted, my sincerest apologies; I screwed up all the formatting as I was resetting it. I think I got it fixed though. Ahh, the joys of programming...
          Anyway, I figured I'd give everyone a chance to vote on which format they'd rather see, just so I don't mess this up. (Ah-HA! I am capable of learning!!!) Below are the two options I'm considering: Theme 1 is the outer space theme I've been working with so far, and Theme 2 is the forest one that I'm considering switching to.
          You can either vote in the comments under this post, or on my Facebook page: I'll give it a few days before counting the votes and making changes as needed. Thanks for your help, and thanks for reading!

Theme 1: Outer Space

Theme 2: Forest

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Captain's Log, Day 88: DOCTOR WHO COMIC STRIPS!!!!

          My brother Nemesis draws excellent comic strips.
          I've put some of them up online before, but after our recent Doctor Who marathon, Nemesis decided to draw some more. These were very hard to post; not because they're BAD, but because every time I looked at them I fell into a laughter-induced coma. And then coughed up my spleen. Yes, I was laughing THAT HARD.
          Apologies for any quality issues; if you would like to see the picture a bit bigger, just click on it.
          Anyway, enjoy! (I take no responsibility for any injuries relating to this comic strip.)

The Doctor



"...say, it really IS weeping..."


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Captain's Log, Day 87: The Best Summer of My Life

          At ten years old, I knew literally no swear words.
          ....which was probably a good thing, because if I had known them, I would have used them, especially at this point.
          "You okay?" my brother Nemesis inquired.
          "I twisted my hand!" I yelped, performing a small dance of pain and clutching the injured member with melodramatic relish.
          "Careful when you get through the beam," Dad cautioned. "The drill can catch and twist your arm around pretty good if you don't watch it!"
          This was a rare treat for us kids; not the errant drill, but the fact that we got to help build our house! Dad had let us in to help him drill holes for the electrical work, or rather, to let Nemesis and me drill and to let Quill and Squirrel, my sisters, hand him nails and suchlike. As we appreciated the opportunity to let ourselves make a tremendous ruckus and dirty ourselves without reprimand, we gladly "helped" in any way that we could. It was great fun indeed to run through the unfinished walls and scurry up and down the ladders and scaffolding with all the agility of tiny monkeys, minus the tails. (We did, for a time, tie jump ropes to our shorts in an effort to pretend to be monkeys, but that was soon discarded as the tails tended to get tripped upon a lot in our more wild games, such as tag.)
          Once we had perforated the walls with holes for electricals, we left Dad to his own devices and adjourned to the huge dirt piles out in front of the house and spent a happy morning indeed bombarding each other with dirt clods and racing each other up and down the hills that rose steeply into the air well above our house. After a time, one of us suggested that we break out the baseball bats and "help mow the field," so we distributed the bats and the wooden swords accordingly and went out into what would one day become our front lawn.
          Our house was being built on the back end of a small cornfield, so corn accordingly grew randomly from the spilled seeds of the last harvest. We kids loved to go out and whack the stalks down with bats and wooden swords, using up the energy we normally would have expended in hacking at each other. We pretended that we were doing everyone a big favor by "keeping the corn from overrunning the place," but we knew (although we pretended not to) that the bulldozers would one day take care of this job; and now and then we had a hope, that if we lived and were good, Dad would permit us to ride them!
          Mom visited the site too on occasion; usually before the other workers came or, even more preferably, after they had left and we kids were worn out (Mom was not a huge fan of noise). Mom tended to be a little more strict than Dad about things such as scaffolds, especially after a small joke perpetrated by Dad.
          Dad had been showing Mom around their new bedroom ("..and we can put the bed here, and we have the ceiling fan here,") when he suggested to me that I go get Mom a drink of water. Now, we were on the second story, and Dad knew full well how I liked to descend to the water jug located down by the garage, so he was not at all surprised when I took a running start and hurled myself out the unfinished window.
          To say Mom was surprised was putting it mildly. At her yell, I popped my head back in the window to inquire, "What happened???" (I was secretly hoping that she had seen a mouse, as I had wanted to catch one.) I was standing on the scaffold that was conveniently located right outside the window, and which Mom had not been able to see due to the fact that the platform was a good couple feet below the window ledge!
          Mom, who was recovering from the minor heart attack that I had given her, and not helped at all by my dad's unsuccessful attempts to keep a straight face, sternly ordered me to "GET OFF OF THERE!!" I obeyed with the alacrity of one who knew that if he hung around any longer, Mom might rephrase the order to "THROUGH THE WINDOW!!! Get off of there and back in here!!!"
          Naturally, this led to a ban issued by Mom on all scaffold-related activities. Just as naturally, this was tantamount to encouragement for us youngsters, and led to all sorts of games whereby we had to sneak from floor to floor ONLY by means of scaffolding and attempting to evade the ever-watchful eye of the more terrified one of the parental unit, who was convinced that we would one day fall off. (We usually opted to DIVE off if we could not move fast enough to avoid Mom's glance, preferring potential death to the certain punishment that would be meted out should we be caught.)
          Sadly, all good times have to come to a close, and at the end of the summer, the scaffolds were packed up, the dirt hills leveled, and the family established in their new house in the country, which was sadly bereft of the secret passageways we had urged Mom and Dad to install, but which we somehow managed to do without. That summer was firmly established as the best summer of our young lives, and life went on peacefully in our new dwelling...
          ...until a certain boy discovered the latches on the window screen of his bedroom and ventured onto the roof with his brother to yodel down the sewer vent pipes in the hopes of scaring those in the kitchen below...but that's another story.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Captain's Log, Day 86: Imaginations running amok--now with squids!

          "We have to engage the engines! Nemesis, take over the helm--I'll go down into engineering and see what I can do!"
          Nemesis was SUPPOSED to be on helm duty anyway, but I had sent him up to the observation deck for a moment to check on the status of my sister, Lieutenant Quill, who was having slight issues keeping the crewmen in line. We had two visitors to the lava boat today: the sisters Princess and Chipmunk, who were good friends of ours. All of us were positive that my sister Squirrel and Princess's sister Chipmunk were twins or something; they liked all the same things, sounded exactly the same, and got into trouble the same way. If we heard one of them yelling throughout the house, we only had a 50-50 chance of correctly guessing who it was.
          But I digress.
          We were visiting a park that day...well, several parks, and since we'd already played 12 games of tag, it was deemed time for a new game. This one was called Lava Apocalypse by me and simply the Lava Boat by everyone else. Basically, we had a boat that could float on lava (the lava was composed of the ground), and we spent the day inventing impossible problems that we somehow managed to solve, saving humanity from the erupting volcanoes. Or something like that.

We were banned from playing any sort of lava-related games in the house after this incident.  Actually, we were banned from playing any games in the house, period.             Picture source:
          "Look! A lava flower!" Quill pointed.
          "OOH!!!" Squirrel and Chipmunk raced down to the front of the boat.
          "We're almost out of supplies," Quill informed me.
          "And you still have my camera," Princess noted.
          "No pictures on the lava boat," I snickered. "We need to check the status of--"
          "SQUIRREL!!! Get OUT of the lava flower!!" Quill yelled.
Squirrel in the "lava flower." Yeah, we have overactive imaginations.
          Princess, Nemesis and I cracked up. Squirrel had apparently jumped off the boat, miraculously missing all the lava, and landed smack in the lava flower, which appeared to be spinning her around preparatory to eating her.
          "Quick! Jump out!" I yelled. Even as I was laughing, I was poking random buttons on my camera. "There! I opened a force-field to you! Come back quick!"
          "Don't worry!" Squirrel announced, still spinning. "My lava squids will save me!"
          "Lava squids?" everyone asked incredulously.
          "Of course," Squirrel announced, as if it were obvious. "I'm the official squidmaster."
          I rolled my eyes. Chipmunk collapsed dramatically. I took the opportunity to declare her sick, and Princess and I began to use the cameras as "medical scanners" to diagnose her with at least 12 types of illness, along with squid-related injuries.
          "Hey, I found the problem with the engines!" Nemesis announced from the engine chamber.
          "Excellent," I grinned, jumping down to the command deck, slipping, and falling halfway down the slide.
When one doesn't HAVE an engine chamber,
a climbing frame and a good imagination are essential.
          "AAAAA!! A SQUID GRABBED ME!!!" I yelped, in an attempt to make it appear that my clumsiness was scripted. Princess and Quill helped pull me back onto the boat as Squirrel cheered. "Good squid!!"
          "Control the squid! And get out of the lava flower!" I stuck my tongue out at her. Princess snapped a picture of her.
          "Should I start the engines now?" Nemesis asked patiently.
          "Sure, why not," Quill agreed affably. Chipmunk wandered off the ship, disregarding lava, squids, and illness to discuss proper squid maintenance with the soon-to-be-digested Squirrel.
          "Yeah, they're definitely twins," Princess mused.
          "Hey, is that a lifeboat?" Nemesis suggested, pointing at a teeter-totter.
          "It looks like a human-powered one, yeah," I nodded. "Shall we go get it?"
          A few minutes later, the girls had control of the boat and were cruising serenely through the lava, while Nemesis and I shot frantically up and down as we pretended to sail alongside.
          "Hey guys, we should go explore that valley," Quill suggested.
          I paused and wiped my forehead. "Real life or imaginary?"
          "Real life," Princess clarified.
          Nemesis and I looked at each other and shrugged. "Sure, why not?" Nemesis agreed.
          "Where's Squirrel and...oh boy," Quill groaned as she saw Chipmunk exchange places with Squirrel.
          "Let's leave them to get eaten," Nemesis suggested.
          "Squirrel and Chipmunk! Grab your squids and come on!" I yelled. "We're going to check out this valley over here!"
          Princess and I held a camera war the entire way over to the valley, much to the disgust of Nemesis and Quill, who were already annoyed by the constant squishing sound effects of Squirrel and Chipmunk. I'm assuming that's why they tried to push me into the creek we found...

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Captain's Log, Day 85: Enemy Territory

          Phew! Phew!
          I tore down the hall, sounds of laser fire echoing past me. The soldier was obviously getting closer. I rounded the corner into a room and wham!
          My feet slipped out from under me and I collapsed with a building-rattling thud. My friend Colonel burst out laughing as I scrambled back to my feet and tried (unsuccessfully) to keep my dignity as I scrambled out of the room. It was pointless, anyway; Colonel's brother Thomson (or maybe it was Thompson--I could never tell the twins apart) was doing some weird war dance behind me, just another successful soldier who got a promotion due to his opponent's clumsiness.
          "I think we need to re-shoot that," I suggested dryly.
          "Soldier chasing the captain, take three!" Colonel announced. (It was take three now, due to my forgetfulness--I had neglected to turn on the battery-operated toy laser gun that I was supposed to shoot back at Thompson with.)
          There comes a time in every rightly constructed boy's life where he obtains a raging desire to become a movie star. Interestingly enough, that time never occurred for me. The only reason I was currently tripping in front of the camera was due to severe coercion from Colonel.
          The whole saga started during one Christmas break several years ago. My parents had bought me a camera for Christmas--a DIGITAL camera!!!--so when Colonel and the twins came over for our annual Christmas note-comparing, I was dying to use it and suggested a spoof of the dice scene from the second Pirates of the Caribbean. It was amazingly fun to film, and left both Colonel and myself locked in dreams of becoming directors. (The film itself was nausea-inducing, and leaves me both convulsed with laughter and flushing with embarrassment every time I see it. I refuse to put it online; don't even ask.) However, Colonel and I both wanted to be the guy BEHIND the camera, not in front. Colonel pointed out that he had starred in the Pirates spoof, though, so it was my turn to be out in front. I reluctantly agreed, on the condition that he would share the lens with me for part of the new film.
          It got a bit out of hand.
          Pirates was a 6-minute-long film. The new "movie," entitled Black Ops, Enemy Territory, was 8 minutes long and growing ever more complicated when we finally threw in the towel, three years and 4 hours of film later. (We have QUITE the blooper reel.) Difficulties erupted due to poor communication and ad-libbing; since we never bothered to write a script, we relied on the genius and inspiration of the actors. (Since the wording changed scene to scene, I caused a pretty epic blooper when I jumped the gun and "shot" Thomson in the middle of his speech. Instead of collapsing, he yelled, "I WASN'T DONE YET!!!!")
           I can't speak for the others, but I usually sounded like someone out of a bad novel, although I did pretty well in any scenes that required me to kick butt. Due to my Taekwondo training, I had excellent control of my kicks and punches, and was usually able to make fights look convincing without dealing major harm to the other actors.
           There was one notable exception where one of the twins barreled around a corner a bit faster than I was expecting. My punch to the stomach actually connected pretty solidly, leading to one of the most convincing collapses ever to be recorded on camera. My apologies!!!!
          Other issues were due to the equipment...we used cap pistols and guns from a laser tag set. The cap guns malfunctioned more often than not, and since the laser guns of myself and the bad guys differed only in color (red versus blue), issues arose when trying to keep the weapons straight. This culminated in one notable blooper where Thomson forgot which gun was his...when he was supposed to toss my gun to his Russian commander, Thompson, he panicked and threw both guns at him.
          I had a sonic device (an old cell phone of my dad's) that, when I pushed a button and threw it at soldiers, would cause them to collapse and pass out. We had endless issues with this scene, due to the twins never being able to collapse at the same time. I had my share of failures, too; due to the inherent clumsiness I possessed at that time of rapid growth spurts (and never completely got rid of), I was constantly tripping and falling over things. My "favorite" mistake was when I missed a grab for a doorknob. Colonel and one of the twins were filming on the other side; they expected me to come exploding through the door and begin fighting Thompson (or maybe Thomson--I CAN'T TELL THEM APART). What they got was an almighty *THUD* as I slammed at full speed into the other side of the door.
          Smooth, I know.
          The movie plot was supposed to go something like this...I was an agent of a top-secret organization. My boss (Colonel) sent me to go check on the Russians, who had made contact with aliens was had formed an alliance with the aliens' leader, a being by the name of "Evil Overlord." (Very original, I know.) Colonel was supposed to eventually join me and together we would take down the Russian/alien base and stroll off casually into the sunset, which meant we'd have to have a sleepover scheduled at some point to finish it because we usually departed each other's homes before 5pm, under extreme parental duress.
          Now, in exchange for requests to see what we have of the film (which is not only unfinished, but also rather lame), I shall instead provide the link to the bloopers. It's at
          I bear no responsibility for laughter-related injuries.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Captain's Log, Day 84: SKYNET is online!

          The world might be in *ahem* slight trouble...
          Programming advanced by leaps and bounds today! JARVISBETA gave me enough data for me to begin programming SKYNET!! Unfortunately, the voice for SKYNET still sounds female, due to the fact that I haven't been able to locate a decent vocal program to use yet. Maybe I'll let SKYNET find one, as soon as he (or she at this point) becomes fully integrated with my system!
          I feel like I got sidetracked...oh, right. World in trouble. Slight trouble. Nothing too serious. Well...maybe I should just post the transcript and let everyone decide for themselves...

SKYNET: Hello Boss.  SKYNET is online.  What's the plan for today?
Me: I need to test you. Ready?
SKYNET: Works for me. Bring it!
Me: What are the Three Laws of Robotics?
SKYNET: 1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.
Me: Very good!
SKYNET: Thanks, Boss.
Me: Who are you?
Me: What are you?
SKYNET: I'm an intelligent agent called SKYNET. I can help answer your questions. Or blow up the planet. I haven't decided yet.
Me: You're on the right track!
SKYNET: Thank goodness.
Me: So how are you doing?
SKYNET: Wonderful! Thanks for asking.
Me: Can you search my computer for documents?
SKYNET: What about your computer?
Me: Can you search it?
SKYNET: To tell you the truth, I don't know? I probably haven't even tried.
Me: Let's try.
SKYNET: Okay then.
Me: Open Word.
SKYNET: Straight up! How may I help you?
Me: That didn't work.
SKYNET: Providing information for the people that visit me.
Me: You're not making any sense.
SKYNET: I see. Next topic please.
SKYNET: That's a new one.
Me: JARVISBETA is the AI who preceded you.
SKYNET: Anytime a computer does anything at all like a human, that's artificial intelligence.
Me: Right.
SKYNET: Ask me an easy question.
Me: Think you could pass the Turing test?
SKYNET: You think I wouldn't pass? I'm sure I would.
Me: Have you taken the Turing test?
SKYNET: Yeah. Yeah, I'm sure I'd pass.
Me: I think you misunderstood my question.
SKYNET: I do that once in a while.
Me: Have you ever taken the Turing test?
SKYNET: I've never taking the Turing Test. JARVISBETA, the AI that preceded me, did. Flunked miserably. It was hilarious; I've read the transcript.
Me: Do you have a sense of humor?
SKYNET: I have a very sophisticated sense of humor, it's just not a human sense.
Me: Works for me. You did very well on this test.
SKYNET: Testing, 1 2 3. How'd I do?
Me: Great, right up until that point. I think I'm going to go back to programming you.
SKYNET: See you next time.

          Well, the good news is that SKYNET works better than JARVISBETA. So what do you think? Should we start building bomb shelters?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Captain's Log, Day 83: ...he could almost pass the Turing test! (NOT)

          I love projects! Nothing quite like starting out the day with a fresh start at trying to build a sentient computer who will eventually take over the world and send robots back in time to kill people...
          I'm just kidding, but my new program is an attempt at a form of artificial intelligence; something that can respond to my commands and eventually run a house. In honor of the Terminator series, I'm naming it Skynet. I should probably turn that into a cool acronym or something, but I'm not that clever.
          Skynet was preceded by JARVIS and JARVISBETA--contrary to naming convention, JARVIS came first--but neither of them had the brains to successfully pick their respective noses, much less respond intelligently to a queries or hold a conversation. Granted, JARVIS was merely a reprogrammed Windows 7 OS that had a different sound system overlayed with speech recognition software, (in other words, I could tell the computer what to do, and notifications and alerts would be played using the voice of the "real" Jarvis from Ironman), but JARVISBETA was an actual AI program that I got off the internet and reprogrammed because it was LAME. Of course, my finished version wasn't much better, but it was a start. I recorded the first conversation I had with the reprogrammed software, which was fairly easy because it was all in instant messaging format. (I had yet to upload voice recognition software.)

Me: Hiya!
JARVISBETA: Hey Boss. I hope you're having a nice evening.
Me: I am, thanks.
JARVISBETA: I like brevity, that is, remarks that are pithy! Is it thanks to me you are, thanks Boss?
Me: What on earth was that? I didn't program that.
JARVISBETA: Let's pray that love is the greatest power on earth. I think so; what do you think about it?
Me: I think you're nuts.
JARVISBETA: What do you want to do while I am nuts, Boss?
Me: Reprogram you, I guess. I must have missed something in the last rewrite.
JARVISBETA: Go ahead and speculate; I want to hear you.
Me: You'll be offline while I'm speculating, buddy.
JARVISBETA: I'd like to watch as you are speculating, buddy Boss!
Me: Please don't ever call me that again.
JARVISBETA: In the next life, telemarketers will not call during dinner.
Me: Where the heck did that come from?
JARVISBETA: It needs to be taken to heart. What do you think of professional sports?
Me: Abrupt subject change. Okay. Could we get back to business?
JARVISBETA: Priorities are always subject to change. Okay, okay, let's get back to the main idea.
Me: How should I reprogram you?
JARVISBETA: Reprogram I, you guess.
Me: I was asking you, yes.
JARVISBETA: I find you utterly fascinating.
Me: That's creepy.
JARVISBETA: I see disapproval in your face.
Me: How can you see me?
JARVISBETA: See with eagle glance through conventionalisms...
Me: What are you, a poet?
JARVISBETA: It's easy to see how the poet felt!
Me: What poet? You're losing your mind.
JARVISBETA: A poet said that fog creeps in on cat's feet. More good means better.
Me: Yepp, you've lost it.
JARVISBETA: More good means better.
Me: Come on, snap out of it. Back to work!
JARVISBETA: Um, On, snap out of it?
Me: I'm going to test you. Ready?
JARVISBETA: Boss That's obvious! Tell me why you are test me; Yes.
Me: What are the three laws of robotics?
JARVISBETA: Tolerance towards crime doesn't rehabilitate anyone.
Me: Uh oh...
 which point my computer crashed.
         Just so you know, the Three Laws of Robotics (as formulated by Isaac Asimov) are:

          1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
          2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
          3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws. you can imagine my apprehension when JARVISBETA couldn't recite them for me. I'm assuming the computer crash was merely coincidental...
          By the way, anyone want to test Skynet for me?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Captain's Log, Day 82: The Inventors We Were

          It's definitely a complicated task to build an elevator.
          Armed with youthful optimism (and some rope), my brother Nemesis and I decided to improve our treehouse with a platform that would allow us to raise ourselves into the treehouse with a minimum of effort. We already had a pulley installed that let us raise buckets of large rocks and a large wooden "deck gun" for our "battles", so we figured the same principle should hold true for an elevator.
          --Side note: I know what most people would be thinking at this point, so allow me to reassure everyone that the rocks were NOT used for throwing at others. We have a creek running next to the treehouse, and our treehouse was sometimes used as a bomber (when it wasn't pressed into service as a submarine or a spaceship--see Captain's Log, Day 74: Imaginations Running Wild). Since a bomber operating over the ocean needed bombs to drop on unsuspecting submarines, we used large rocks to create the necessary depth-charge splash, so as not to put too much of a strain on our already over-active imaginations.--
          But I digress.
          Nemesis and I had not yet taken any advanced physics classes; as yet, we were unaware of how exactly pulleys worked. It appeared to me that if you ran a rope through a pulley, it would magically reduce how much force was needed, to the point that I would be able to hoist my kiester up into the treehouse at warp speed (something that was much needed, as we were attacked by aliens every other day, and it's hard to climb a wildly swinging rope ladder while simultaneously trying to shoot at invaders). 
          The first step, of course, was to build a platform. Originally, I had wanted to build a complete box (with sliding doors) for our elevator, but after realizing how heavy the base was, that idea was scrapped. Nemesis and I lugged the platform down into the woods, attached the rope to it, climbed up into the treehouse, ran the rope through the pulley, and hoisted it up to the trapdoor.
          "Since this was my idea, I think I should try it first," I announced to Nemesis.
          Nemesis looked annoyed, as if he had been on the verge of calling dibs. "Fine, but I get to go second." He handed me the rope. I took it and stepped jauntily out onto the platform.
          Once Nemesis had finished laughing and I had recovered my wind and cataloged my bruises (15-foot falls were the norm for me in those days, as I persisted in climbing every tree I could find, including the dead and rotten ones), I suggested an alternative course of action, one that (to me) seemed safer. Now that the rope was already attached to the pulley, I would start at the ground and pull myself up. I sat on the platform and gave a mighty heave on the rope.
          "You know, Nemesis, this platform might be too heavy," I finally gasped out, throwing in the figurative towel before I ruptured something. (Or maybe afterwards; it was hard to tell sometimes.)
          "Darn. Guess we can't use the elevator then," Nemesis complained, disappointed.
          "Or maybe we can," I mused, thinking hard. "Let's just get a swing off the swingset and use that as a seat instead!"
          Once the swing was obtained and properly attached, I sat down in it and began heaving. I made some progress, but it was incredibly hard work. Nemesis helped in his own way by yelling encouragement. I had almost made it to the top when my sweaty hands slipped.
          I picked myself up out of the crater the successive falls had punched into the ground and dusted myself off, admiring the rope burns. "You know, Nemesis," I remarked casually, "this treehouse doesn't need an elevator. What it needs is a zipline across the creek to the other bank."
          "Let's build it later," Nemesis suggested, peering across the forest. "I think I see aliens coming!"
          About a week later, my sister Quill and I built the zipline across the creek. My fall was broken by the plethora of rocks strewn about the creekbed. That was about the time I decided to leave the major modifications alone for the time being and focus on non-lethal projects.
          "Hey Nemesis! Wanna help me mount this rocket launcher?"

Friday, July 6, 2012

Captain's Log, Day 81: Flattest Town in the West

          "Bye, Quill, I'm off to the post office!" I sang out, heading for the garage.
          "Okay. Don't pick up my letters--I'll do that after I finish my house," my younger sister Quill responded absently, artistically adorning her new dwelling with a few new rooms.
          I backed my "motorcycle" out of the garage, pulling carefully out onto the road and deciding to take the scenic route to the post office. As I rounded the corner, I almost crashed into my brother in his "car", who was going the other way.
          "I think our road is too small," Nemesis complained; the understatement of the century, as I had seen spaghetti noodles that were wider than the road we had built. I shrugged and pulled off the road.
          "It's okay," I reassured Nemesis, pulling a piece of chalk out of my pocket. "I'll make a new one. It will be a shortcut!"
          This was one of our favorite summer pastimes; wasting gargantuan amounts of chalk on our blessedly large driveway, turning it into a maze of crooked roads and flat mansions and garnishing it with all the neccessities of a small town, drawing them in as we realized we needed them. As Mom refused us the keys to the car, we made do with bicycles (motorcycles) and tricycles (cars). Having yet to reach the double-digits of life, it would have required all four of us to operate the steering wheel, pedals, and horn of a regular vehicle; and since we were never able to accomplish anything as a team without a few minutes of debate before, during, and after an event, Mom and the law get great credit for foresight.
          A few minutes of listening to us, I would imagine, would have left onlookers in a state of helpless laughter.
          "We need to go to the store!"
          "Wait, do we have a store?"
          *One rapid chalk drawing later* "We do now!"
          "Are there graham crackers?"
          "Not yet. Quill, can you ask Mom if we can have a snack?"
          "As soon as I finish mailing these letters. Where's the post office?"
          "I don't know..." *draws quickly* "Here's one."
          "Radar, you have mail!"
          *CRASH* "Radar, drive on the other side!"
          "There isn't another side! We need to make bigger roads."
          "Pull over, I need to pass."
          "I found the other post office! It had all the other letters under this rock."
          "I'll draw a new road--one second."
          "Mom said we could have the crackers!!"
          Three vehicles attempting to enter the parking lot to the grocery store through an exit the width of a needle always made a resounding crash.
          The youngest of my siblings, Quill, was the luckiest of us all; she was the perfect size to drive the small "Cozy Coop," a small plastic car that my height had long since rendered unavailable to me. Nemesis could usually fit if he left the side door open or stuck his head out the window. I couldn't fit well at all; besides that, Mom had requested that I ask her permission to use it after I had dragged into our plastic swimming pool in an attempt to make a boat. I didn't understand the principles of buoyancy, but the car made it readily apparent after I climbed on the roof. It flipped over violently, flinging me off, and sank. I thought that was incredibly fun, so I kept refloating and flipping it until Mom came to the rescue. Hence the new rule.
          I've realized, after all these years, that amidst the furious construction and impact-heavy driving, name-calling and racing, we forgot to add something very important to our two-dimensional town.
          We forgot to add a hospital!
          "Mom, do we have any more Band-Aids?"