Dec 122014

I picked up the Netrunner Core Set a few weeks ago, and have played eight games as of last night. I’m really liking it, but have only gotten my roommate and one of my coworkers to play with me so far. There’s a game shop in town where they play on Monday nights, but I chickened out this week. This is my very first attempt at deckbuilding, and I decided to focus on NBN’s tagging specialty. This deck is utter crap, but I want to learn by experience what makes a good deck, rather than only using someone else’s work.

I’ve also reproduced the results and decklist here, in case goes away.

The results? I won against my roommate (who’s as inexperienced at this as I am), using the Core Set Anarch deck, but I shouldn’t have. Here are the problems I’ve identified with the deck already:

Problems with my tactics:

  • The cards started out sorted and grouped. I didn’t shuffle them enough, and only got one piece of ice for quite a few turns.
  • I didn’t use my initial ice to protect HQ and R&D.
  • Instead, I used my first ice (Wall of Static) to protect a remote server with Ghost Branch, which I should have left undefended after putting a couple of advancement tokens on it as a lure.

Mistakes by my opponent:

  • He wasn’t aggressive enough. HQ and R&D went undefended for awhile, and he should have been hitting them every turn.
  • He spent a lot of time and money building up his rig before attacking. He finally started hitting HQ, and got an agenda on the first run, but only assets and operations after that, until I got a Tollbooth installed and rezzed. By then I also had ice on R&D (which I couldn’t rez for lack of money).
  • He made no effort to remove tags, which allowed me to trash his Armitage Codebusting. By his admission, that move cost him the game, but he’s even less experienced at this than I am.

NBN Experiment v0.1 NBN: Making News (Core Set)

  • 15 influence spent (max 15)
  • 21 agenda points (between 20 and 21)
  • 46 cards (min 45)
  • Cards up to Future Proof

Agenda (11)

Asset (5)

Upgrade (2)

Operation (10)

Barrier (3)

Code Gate (4)

Sentry (11)

Deck built on NetrunnerDB.

Nov 242014

I was in a New York skyscraper with Bono, Larry Mullen Jr., and our friend Mike R. We went to the top of it and discovered an enormous junkyard. The skyscraper turned into a mile-high mountain in the shape of a building, but the top was rounded and uncarved, and the junkyard covered most of it.

I found a very fancy weight scale, in white enamel with shiny, tufted red leather padding, but there were sticky notes attached to it stating that it wasn’t for sale. Unseen employees started removing the padded sections, because somehow this would allow them to sell it to me.

I turned to see the guys disappear through an empty door frame near the edge of the mountain and followed. On the other side was a six- or nine-foot drop onto a wide metal catwalk that circled the whole thing. I wondered how they’d gotten down there so quickly and easily, since there was no ladder or stairs. I was annoyed that they’d ditched me, and wanted to follow them, but when I looked through the catwalk grating at the ground a mile below, I got dizzy.

As a joke, I almost yelled after them, “Hello! Hello! I’ve got this thing called vertigo!”

Jul 162014

The iOS version of Ingress finally the App Store on Monday, and I wasted no time installing it. A quick Facebook poll showed that nearly everyone I know who plays chose the Enlightened side, so that’s what I went with.

On the way home from work I went through downtown, and did a drive-by hacking on every portal that came within range. I had no idea what I was doing, just mashing the hack button, but I got a bunch of items to use later.

As luck would have it, I found a grey (unclaimed) L1 portal on a fountain in the front yard of a house nearby, and used it to do my tutorial missions as well as claim my first portal. I still barely had any idea what I was doing, but I didn’t care. I was also a bit nervous about loitering so close to someone’s house, but I was on a public street staring at my phone, so not really too suspicious-looking. I also discovered a portal in a park very close to my house, so I snagged that too, but I wasn’t familiar enough with the game yet to try linking them. I’ve revisited those portals multiple times, pulling up just long enough to hack them and move on.

That night I got a rude shock in the form of a damage report email saying that my virgin portal had been defiled and claimed by a L8 Resistance player, who reinforced it beyond my ability to take it back. That was annoying, but I learned quickly that that kind of back-and-forth happens all the time.

Yesterday I went out at lunch and went on a portal hunting spree to and around the botanical gardens. My carefully scripted itinerary and portal-linking plan was partially derailed when I found that 1) I’d left the plan sitting on my desk, and 2) I couldn’t make some of my links happen due to distance, crossing link lines, or some other reason I couldn’t fathom. Still, I hacked a whole bunch of unique portals and set up my first three control fields (141 MUs covered as of this writing), one of which covers a pretty large area.

I grabbed another one at another nearby park, only to have a Resistance player take it back minutes later. It was already dark, but I went back out, broke his single L7 resonator, and took it back. I hit L3 doing it, so I was able to install L2/L3 resonators, a shield, and a turret, and so far it’s stayed mine.

There are three portals clustered together where I work, so I’ve been hacking them regularly to get items. They switched from Resistance to Enlightened yesterday, which has made it even easier. I also discovered that one of my immediate coworkers plays Ingress, is on Resistance, and according to the other green players here, he’s a pain. I already suspected all of those things. lol

Jun 042014

Ok, this started out as just an intro to a Facebook post about a really interesting article on PsychologyToday, and somehow turned into an opinion piece. Feel free to ignore my blather, but the article itself is definitely worth a read.

There is an aspect to the discussion of safe sex, HIV prevention, and, now, PreP that never seems to be addressed, but is a huge factor in all of it: desire and pleasure.

We are, generally speaking, still a very uptight society. We’re obsessed with sex, but uncomfortable admitting it, or discussing the dirty details, especially regarding gay sex.

For example, I hate condoms. Condoms suck. They can kill the mood and they’re inconvenient. They reduce sensation for the top, and can be painful for the bottom because lube never sticks to them very well. Other than disease prevention, about all you can say for them is that they can keep your dick clean if the bottom isn’t. Also, for myself and many people I know, cumming into a guy, or vice versa, forms an intimacy and a connection in that moment that’s hard to describe if you haven’t experienced it. Condoms can kill that, too.

If reading that made you squirm a little, writing it made me squirm a little, yet all of it is true.

See? Uptight.

We’re also uncomfortable around those who aren’t uncomfortable with it, and the words “slut” and “whore” get thrown around a lot.

I’ve stayed strictly out of the PreP conversations because I haven’t formed an opinion on it, informed or otherwise, but I have made an observation: women have been and, in some cases still are, labelled as “sluts” or “whores” for openly stating a desire for birth control. For stating, even indirectly, that they have and want sex, possibly without a condom, possibly outside of a monogamous relationship (the horror!), because condoms suck. The fallout from Sandra Fluke’s testimony is a prime and recent example of this.

Now we have Truvada. I’ve heard and read conflicting information and opinions about its effectiveness, but basically there is now for men an analog to the birth control pill for women: a daily medication to help prevent one of the risks of unprotected sex.

As expected, there are a lot of men who want this, who are stating openly that they have and want sex, possibly without a condom, possibly outside of a monogamous relationship (the horror!), because condoms suck.

And what are many people calling them? “Truvada whores”.

The parallels are pretty clear.

Obviously there’s a difference between HIV and an unwanted pregnancy: one is still a potential death sentence, the other just feels like one.

The point, however, is the Puritanical attitude, squeamishness, and probably jealousy, that leads to the labeling of those who are unafraid to admit they want sex and want it a lot.

As another example, there is a person I know who bluntly and proudly posts about his sexual exploits on social media, and there are a lot of them. To be honest, I initially held him in some contempt for it. I considered him a slut. I considered him a health risk to himself and others, even though he said he refused to bareback. But when I started to analyze that, I realized the problem was me. I was uptight, I was a little squeamish, mostly I was envious, and I was projecting that on him. Fortunately, I also kept my mouth shut about it, because it wasn’t my place to judge.

So, whatever your opinion on Truvada and those who choose to use it, stop with the name calling. Stop trying to shame others for being sexual. We’re all sexual. It’s in our very nature, though some try to deny it. Nothing is preventing you from continuing to use condoms, so stop throwing stones.

Apr 212014

Chuck Wendig, over at TerribleMinds, posted a writing challenge on 4/14/14 called “The First Sentence: Critiquing Opening Lines“. The idea is to post the opening line from a story in progress or already written, and critique those posted by others. Figuring “what the hell”, I added the first line of my “Crow in Winter” story. I was totally unprepared for the result.

I expected the first paragraph to be (nicely) picked apart, and what did I get? A “love letter to your writing style”. I was completely stunned, and just kept re-reading it with a stupid grin on my face. I literally could have cried, and almost did. I have never had that particular kind and amount of praise before, and at first I couldn’t really process it. I was in a state of happy shock for the rest of the day.

Most surprisingly, when I showed all this to Aaron and had him read it, Mr. “I don’t like fantasy fiction” actually thought it was good. So…bonus!


    • This sentence is intriguing, but feels loose for a first line. I am curious as to who are the dead and who is the audience. I’d like to see the first few lines to put it in context. If the goal is to make the reader continue to sentence two then you have a winner, because I want to read the next line in order to suss out the first line.

      • April 18, 2014 at 2:16 PM // Reply

        Thanks, Joanna. I agree about it being loose. When I opened that story back up and looked at the first line, I almost picked a different one, but that curiosity was what I was going for. Here’s the rest of the paragraph:

        The dead sang to an audience of one. Among twisted, sagging trees they drifted, voices raised in an echo of the sorcerous grief that had ended their lives. In the wan light of Luna, pale figures trod the forest city’s suspended streets, their feet falling silently on moss-covered planks and branches. Hollow eye sockets wept blood, darkening the ancient wood beneath them. Black mouths gaped, issuing a single ceaseless note; a scream become song. In their thousands, those voices formed a cantata, singing the tale of their slaughter. Their unburied remains, like cast-off clothing, rotted slowly in the cold gloom.

        • Dear Nerdimusprime,

          This is my love letter to your writing style. Your WIP doesn’t need a first sentence hook with lovely prose like that which you’ve written. I don’t know if this is a typo ” a scream become song.” I reads correctly, but it’s the least fluid bit of an amazing passage. I love the curve and turn of your phrasing; it’s richly textured, and sumptuous to read. I would buy the book based on what you’ve shared. Thank you for that.


          A Fan

          • April 19, 2014 at 7:22 PM //

            Dear joannadacosta,

            I am totally floored and unbelievably flattered. So much so that it took a half-dozen attempts to write this response. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit this, but I actually found myself a little choked up.

            Time permitting, I’ve been following along with the thread, and your critiques have all been well-reasoned, constructive, thoughtful, and encouraging, so I was looking forward to your response.

            Being my own worst critic, I was already picking it apart:
            “It’s too wordy.”
            “It’s *overly* descriptive.”
            “You’re not Robert Jordan, you know.”

            The “scream become song” phrase is definitely a bit of a burr. I have a semicolon abuse problem that I’m trying to correct.

            Your response has completely made my week. Thank you SO much!

Sep 012013

Several thousand years BCE: I was in the past trying to preserve statues and artwork for the future by collecting them and putting them in the care of an older man who was very close to immortal.

At one point I had rounded up a group of pristine human statues from a civilization that had left very few remnants of itself, and left them with him. I’m not sure if the statues were supposed to be of gods or people, but they were of various colors, mostly shades of white and off-white, but one was solid black.

I returned some time later to find that the heads of all the statues had been sliced off. Angrily questioning the man, I discovered that he had been swayed by some religious group and convinced that false idols must be destroyed. I eventually convinced him of the importance of what we were doing, and he swore to never deface or destroy anything in the collection again.

Flash forward to the present day: There was a media circus around the compound on the shore of the Mediterranean (Greece? Turkey?) where he had lived and housed the collection, because he had finally died, and the collection was going to be revealed to the public.

My viewpoint switched, and I was above the water, going around a monument as if filming it for a documentary. It was circular, and gave the impression of being composed of rings of low marble walls, barely above sea level. They surrounded a flattened, slightly twisted wedge made of gold, rising about 20-30 feet above the surface. Someone said it was actually on Venus, but I dismissed the idea because the conditions on Venus made that impossible.

Aug 142013

My Great Blackout of 2003 story: I had just gotten a haircut and left the shop. In the instant I crossed the threshold, the power went out, and I saw the nearby stoplight was dark. I turned around and saw the shop’s power had gone too.

Aaron called to tell me power had gone out pretty much everywhere, and I made my way back home to Royal Oak. Luckily, traffic wasn’t too bad yet.

Once the cell towers and municipal water pumps shut down (in sweltering heat, of course), Aaron collected me the next morning, and we spent the weekend at his parents’ beach house near Port Huron, which was just outside the affected area.

The night before we left, I remember standing outside looking at the sky. With no light pollution, a huge number of stars were visible. Except for occasional passing cars, it was almost completely dark and silent. It was actually a really cool experience, for a brief period of time.

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