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Fallout: ?

Where should the next Fallout game be?

I think that the US is looking very tapped out, or at least suspect, and I believe that good fun can be had elsewhere in the world.

My shortlist:


For me, the best choice is clear: Tokyo. Think 50's atomic monsters, go-go bars, giant robots, aliens, psychics, all sorts of Japanese weird cinema, science bases hidden under the sea. The potentials here are atomic. Best of all, you can put all the writing in Japanese and make Americans learn bits of a foreign language. Your character who is illiterate really can't read. You get to see how Japan fared against China, survived the war, and went on to become it's own unique ruin.

That game? I'd pay full price for that game.

Why Mammals Survived the K/T Extinction

There might be a good article out there on why mammals survived the K/T extinction, but I can't seem to find it. I find summaries. So, given that no one competent has done so, I'll fill the gap. I'm no expert, so if you are an expert, please write a better article.

1. All Mammals Didn't Survive

This needs to be said: all mammals didn't survive, just as all dinosaurs didn't die. Whole lines of mammals died out and the bird line of dinosaurs survived, doing extremely well.

2. Mammals Were Already Living in Pretty Crappy Environments

When you're a big plant eater, you tend to live in the best environments. The same goes for being a big meat eater. Those mammals? They weren't living in the luxury condos. Many were living up on mountains, near ice and snow, in deserts, and other more challenging environments. These mammals would have already been adapted to a harder, leaner life. They already had adaptation that let them survive hard times, such as droughts, freezes, and such. They may have even squirreled away food for those times as some modern mammals do.

3. Mammals Can Eat Utter Crap

Being a generalized small mammal has its advantages. When the going gets tough, they eat the tuff stuff. Look at rats and mice to realize just how many different foods that they can eat. If they can eat it, they will, which gives them a distinct advantage over the creatures who need more specific, more specialized foods to eat.

4. Mammals Turn Utter Crap into High Quality Food to Feed their Young

Dinosaurs are limited in the quality of food that they could feed their young. It couldn't be any better than what was available. In contrast, mammals convert low quality food into high quality food in the guise of milk. This gives their young far better calories, enabling them to feed their calories over time, which is especially important in a poor food environment.

Mammals also turn low quality food into high quality food via the placenta. Because mammals gestate, their young growing over time via calories provided by the mother, the mammals only need enough calories to start their young, supplemented over time by more calories eaten. In contrast, dinosaurs had to build up calories, enough to invest in eggs, and deposit these calories all at once. That's a big investment of energy at a time when the world just burned down.

5. Mammals Shield Themselves

As many mammals burrow, or find other small places to wedge into, they suffered less when the hell fires of Armageddon came. Not getting roasted alive helped their survival. In contrast, dinosaurs had nowhere to run, and the sauropods just couldn't dig fast enough. Poor guys.

6. Hibernation

Many types of mammals hibernate. When the great winter came, they already had the ability to hunker down and reduce calories over a long period of time.

7. Water From More Sources

Being small helps you to get water from more sources, such as dew and plants. Being big, you have to find big sources of water, and that gets tricky when the world has just ended. Dinos may have been good at conserving water (like birds), but they weren't godlike.

8. Emerging Food Sources

With the world freshly ended, lots of things died, which means free dinner for the bugs. So if you're the kind of creature that eats bugs, like many small mammals or birds, you get a big boon of food off all those other dying creatures. With all that biomass dying off and decaying, the critters would have had years worth of ants, termites, and other little critters to chew on, enough to tide them over to when things began growing again.

9. Reproduction

If these little mammals were anything like today's little mammals, they bred like rats. They would have multiple litters per year as soon as they had enough food, producing multiple generations before the larger dinosaurs had even accumulated enough food for one egg laying. As soon as their numbers could swell, they would have swelled, while larger creatures failed to struggle on.


Why didn't some mammal species survive?

1. They all lived in the wrong neighborhood. There no way of getting around a terminal course of urban renewal. So, think twice before mom badgers you (and your entire species) into living in the big city.

2. Too specialized. With their local pizza place destroyed, and the nearest place serving pepperoni being in Canada, starvation ruined a perfectly road trip before it even got started.

3. It's suddenly cold outside when it hasn't been cold before. Mom warned you to buy a coat if it got cold, but you thought that a jacket would do. Wrong. Go die of exposure.

4. In a mammal-eat-mammal world, the neighbor's new rude kids formed street gangs and pushed you out. In the competition for scarce resources, you lost.

Replacing Compact Flourescents

I've begun replacing compact fluorescent bulbs around the house because they're burning out. As I'm replacing them, I find that the soft white LEDs now far surpass CFs in both brightness and pleasantness. Those holder bulbs had been either dimming for years, or had always dimmer than they seemed. Either way, they're out the outs as the far more affordable LEDs are available.

When we moved in four years ago (4.5 years?), LEDs were still expensive, so my study bulbs cost me $30-$40 each. Now they would cost $10 each.

There's a few noteworthy places that the LEDs must replace: the bedroom lights. Those higher lights just don't do their job, and those CFs have to go. There's also a CFC in the lamp by the table.

I want to replace the long florescents in the kitchen, but that's not happening anytime soon. Too much wiring. I should get practice rewiring the basement lights first before I head upstairs.


The Mists of Avalon (1982)

The Mists of Avalon (1982) is a thick book written by Marion Zimmer Bradley. Following the life and times of Morgain, Arthur's sister, the book deftly and beautifully weaves a tedious and unengaging tale, demonstrating what happens when you turn an action-adventure-romance series into a meaningful historical fantasy.

After about 50 pages, I switched from reading to aggressive skimming with no loss of comprehension. After 250 pages, I abandoned the work. I may attempt to complete the book, but I feel no compulsion.

Weekend So Far

I spent Saturday helping the fabulous Miss X clean out her basement. She finally kicked her bum out (yay) and not only needs to shove him out the door, but needs to shove out years worth of stuff.

On Sunday, I skipped church and played way too much Fallout 4. I'm not near the end, but I've already decided that this game has too much game play. Even the best RPG has a point where I just get exhausted. Even though there are parts of this game that I like, it's just not working for me as well as the earlier Fallouts. (Incidentally, I had the same feeling with Fallout 2.)

I also did a bit of work on my the folding bookshelf project. I cut the glued up pieces down to size and cut notches on the ends. While I was at it, I cut wood strips for the bottom lips. (Folding bookshelves use these to keep the shelves stable, hooking across the bottom bars.)

Since I have to repaint them, because of the paint making disaster, they need a new sanding to get the mud paint off, and then I'll try clay paint again, or maybe linseed oil paint. (You can also buy flax seed oil at the grocery store. Same thing.)

Today I need to finish moving the mulch pile, buy a few replacement lights, shop for a new winter coat, and do the laundry.


New Computer

I finally scraped up enough to build a new PC. I figure that I've been saving since June. My current PC is over 4 years old, which means that it's time to rebuild. My old PC will go to my daughter, who is terribly excited to get off her 10 year old PC.

I build PCs every so often just to keep my skills up. To be honest, there's some great deals out there on mass built PCs and used PCs, and did they ever tempt me, but skills are skills, and this is my currently highly-paid one (far more so than writing novels).

Here's the parts list:

Video: EVGA GeForce GTX 750Ti with G-SYNC Support 2GB GDDR5 128bit, Dual-Link, DVI-I, HDMI, DP Graphics Card (02G-P4-3751-KR)
Windows Drive: SanDisk Ultra II 480GB SATA III 2.5-Inch 7mm Height Solid State Drive (SSD) with Read Up To 550MB/s- SDSSDHII-480G-G25
Motherboard: Asus ATX DDR4 Motherboards H170-PRO/CSM
CPU: Intel 3.70 GHz Core i3-6100 3M Cache Processor (BX80662I36100)
CPU Cooler : Cooler Master Hyper T4 CPU Cooler with 4 Direct Contact Heatpipes RR-T4-18PK-R1
RAM: HyperX FURY Black 16GB Kit (2x8GB) 2133MHz DDR4 Non-ECC CL14 DIMM Desktop Memory (HX421C14FBK2/16)
Case: Thermaltake Versa H22 Plus
Drive Tray: ICY DOCK ToughArmor MB992SK-B 2 x 2.5? SATA HDD/SSD Full Metal Mobile Rack in 1 x 3.5 Device Bay
Power Supply: Seasonic SSR-450RM ATX 12V/EPS 12V 450-Watt 80 Plus Gold certified PFC Power Supply
Windows 10
Wireless Card: TP-Link Wireless Dual Band PCI Express Adapter (TL-WDN4800)

Remaining To Be Bought
Ubuntu Drive: SanDisk Ultra II 240GB SATA III 2.5-Inch 7mm Height Solid State Drive (SSD) with Read Up To 550MB/s- SDSSDHII-240G-G25
DVD Drive
Really nice, more comfortable headphones.

This PC is unique for having an ejectable drive tray so that swapping OSs becomes that much easier. If Windows gives a fit about there being a Linux drive, I just pop the drive instead of taking apart the PC.

Right now, I'm still running on my old Ubuntu drive, which is a nice Western Digital 1TB. (The black one.) It will eventually become my data drive, where I'll share data between Linux and Windows. I haven't figured out how I'll shuffle that piece yet. Eventually I'll swap Ubuntu over to an SSD as well.

I chose an i3 because of it's price/performance. Cheap and effective.

Overall, the build cost far more than I wanted, but the Intel parts kept costing too more than AMD. In hindsight, I may have been able to forego the fancy CPU cooler, as the i3 came with a very nice cooler included. I would have gone with AMD if their CPUs had kept up, but their single-thread speed hadn't improved much since I built my last PC, and I mostly run single-threaded applications. Intel had done far better on the single-thread front.

Also this time, since my old PC was going to my daughter, I couldn't strip it of parts and its OS license. I had to come out with two operable PCs.

So, yeah, this wound up complicated.

Last night, I got the last of my parts in and built the sucker. By the time that I went to bed, I had Windows 10 running and updating. Ubuntu had booted just by moving the drive, so that was easy.

Between POST and login is 3 seconds. That's a 2-3 second improvement on my last PC.

In addition to the complications of this transition, I'll need to transition my daughter's data. My aim is to recycle the SSD on her old computer, possibly me taking it for the new build's Ubuntu drive, and possibly me forcing onto my wife's laptop. I haven't decided on that yet.

I have yet to create a disk image of it, but I will tonight. Clonezilla is my friend.


What is "The Whills"? (Way off Canon)

What is "The Whills"? Let's play with this idea. I'm sure that there's a canon answer, but I'm not interested. What I'm interested in is discovering where ideas take me.

Let's play.

The Whills could be something like The Hague, a place. For example, the Temple on Jeddah could be The Whills.

The Whills could be a collective noun, like the Church. The Whills could represent all those who strive to the light side of the Force.

The Whills could be a status among those who follow the Force, like a prophet or a priest or some other sort of wise person. They aren't necessarily strong in the force, but they do have an advanced understanding up the subject.

The Whills could be a group that meets, such as a council.

The Whills could be a distinctive sect of those who follow the Force.

The Whills could refer to the Force itself, in this case, the light side.

It could mean to each individual goal of the force, its whill.

The Whills could be a group of historians, those dedicated to recording events dominated by the Force.

The Whills could be a race.

It could be applied to multiples of the above, because religious groups often do things like that.

Now, which do I think are the more interesting takes on this? I like the Whills as a collective noun for those on the Light side of the force. This makes the Protector of the Whills more interesting, as they may protect places like temples, but they may just as well protect those following the light side of the Force, seeing that all is as the Force wills it.

I also like the Whills as a term for what the Force wants. In that case, the phrase, "All is as the Force whills it," becomes more interesting. Think of the whill as the same as water finding its level. The Force is forever bringing up the holes left by the dark side, but also bringing down the elevations of the Light side. The stronger that you are in the Force, the stronger that the Force works against you. The Light side understands this, and so works with the Force rather than strive against it, for striving against it is, in the long run, a losing proposition.

I like the Whills as some archaic group that left a strong legacy, one that other group picked up on and preserved, using that name as a form of legitimacy. The Whills represents a specific legacy, a touchstone, on the side of Light, but not nearly as much as I like my other two preferences.

If I was writing canon, I would make "a whill" a time/place/event where the Force is finding its level.

Stories on Demand

Over the last year, my daughter has gotten some fun stories on demand. Earlier in the year, she was hearing Middle Earth High School stories from my wife. They've moved onto dragon stories, riffing off Wings of Fire.

I've been telling Equestrian Girls and Star Wars Highs stories.

The resemblance of these stories to Teenages From Outer Space RPG is not merely coincidental, but I didn't plan on these stories to wind up this way.

The Equestria Girls element is pretty much what it is. There wasn't much to change. Recently, Rarity has come up with a fabulosity power. "I am one with fabulosity. Fabulosity is with me." Or "I felt a disruption in fabulosity." Either way, this allows her to hit only green lights and always find a parking place with 4 hours left on the meter.

Sunset has the running gag that she's always assigned the dullest, dumbest job. She also has a welding torch that she uses to make stuff, which often makes her overpowered.

Everyone likes Fluttershy. EVERYONE. Anyone with any authority looks at her, determines that she's innocent or perfectly welcome, and leaves her be.

Twilight is super-science girl. There's not much need to change her.

Meanwhile, Star Wars High is screwier.

Prince Luke is a spoiled, whiney, fat prince of Alderaan, with all the girls wanting to marry his winy ass. The leader of these girls if Buffy Tarkin, who leads her white clad fanclub members (the troopettes) in her mad plans to marry Luke, or otherwise prevent someone else from marrying him.

Leah is learning to be a jedi from vice-principal Obi-Wanda Kenobi and Principal Yoda. Meanwhile, there's assistant-superintendant Vader who's more trouble than anybody wants.

Hannah Solo lives on her own, having an apartment above The Worst Pizza Place in Town (that's it's name). She's always scraping for money, coming up with clever plans. Her best friend is a wookie girl named Chewbacca, who's on the school couch-throwing team, and who wants to be a professional ballerina when she gets out of school.

A recent addition is the overly-slick transfer student from Cloud City, Lando.

Underneath the school live the Jawa janitors, led by the most fearsome Jawa of all, Jawa the Hutt.

Jar-Jar binks is a perennial friend of Luke's, who shows up only to ruin everything, constantly. In these stories, Jar-Jar works unfathomably well as a comedic character.

That's my brain dump for now.


File Recovery

My wife's Christmas present is file recovery. She has a pile of floppies and I had know-how, so I bought a floppy reader and recovered about 30 floppies, most of which still worked just fine. As some were Mac floppies, I had to use my Mac, using a weird trick where I had to plug in and remove the reader with every disk. Odd, but it worked well enough.

I also recovered three Zip-100 disks. I walked about work until I found somebody with a Zip-250 USB reader and borrowed it for the evening, finding only one corrupt file.

I still have a short stack of disks that I want to look at a second time, but otherwise, I got through most of this project in one night. Not too shabby.

Next, I need to deliver the results.


New Year

I've not written in a bit, so I'll fill in Christmas and the New Year.

After a wonderful Christmas at home, we hauled up to New Jersey for a Christmas with my wife's mom. All went generally well, if unamazingly. We had a small snafu because Judy ordered a Christmas present for me from my Amazon wish list, a Amazon Echo, which I didn't want and didn't ask for. Somehow, she had found the wrong me on Amazon. Sorry, wrong Doug Milewski, I got your present. We straightened that out and she bought me a few fitted shirts instead.

For the New Year, we made our usual run of Chinese style dumplings. Yum. Always yum. Other than that, we all went to sleep early because we're wusses.

I ended the year having written 55 book reviews. The first book up for the new year is the Mists of Avalon.

My bookshelf painting project continues. After refining my clay again, I now have an almost dry powder, far finer than I had before. This stuff should really grind down to nothing. This technique produced far better results than my first technique.

We got a load of leaf litter early in the summer. Now, it's almost all gone from the driveway and I've been putting it onto our various beds. Almost gone. A little more work, and the pile will be gone, which is good as winter is here and sooner or later, we'll get a snow.

The car has been late for emissions testing. The engine light finally went off in New Jersey, but came back on once I got home. Drat. Today, it finally went off, so I took the car to emissions testing and made it through. Yay.