Wednesday, June 27, 2007

News bites (literally!)

Check your tires....for the name brand! Another bad Chinese import has prompted a lawsuit from New Jersey. Why? Well, not only are these tires of poor quality but they deliberately lack a major safety feature. You may want to scroll down and read the entire list of Chinese imports that are concerning people... Remember the pet food recalls?

You may have heard about one of several bear attacks in your news in recent years. Turns out Bear attacks are on the rise. These sites claim to have a few tips for parkgoers.

Its still raining rather heavily in Dallas & Oklahoma

and in Britain they say

..Doctor! Don't open that door!

and the release of Michael Moore's film 'Sicko' has been delayed locally. I haven't liked everything Moore has done over the years. Frankly, his bias has often been more than I could stand. But I have been watching his films since 'Roger & Me' -so I know he can do good work. This is one film I've wanted to see. Not many people have the guts to take on the bigwigs or premiere their movie on skid row! By all accounts, this is his best work yet. He has already risked fines & imprisonment to help a few good folks while making it. Its just possible that his film may help a few more.

Its not great news, but sometimes we need to know about the other kind.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

an assortment of treats

Still playing with the new site - when I find a little time.

I found the feature where you can select a variety of clips & shows to share. Veoh will share most videos that are under an hour just for clicking over to their site - but if its longer you have to sign up with them to see the whole show. You'll see that policy in this preview collection as well. - Some documentaries are here in their entirety - others are just tasty tidbits. At least this will give you an idea of what I've been enjoying lately. Welcome to my living room! ^_^

Online Videos by

Also discovered that a number of ID/Creation Sci docs can be downloaded here.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Dr Who parody

On a lighter note, here's a remarkably well done parody of Dr Who I found on Veoh.

Online Videos by

and this is part 2

Online Videos by

I never thought of Black Adder/ Mr Bean as Dr Who - but I have to admit he wasn't half bad in the role. Jonathan Pryce was just as good as the Master. They both were able to project the necessary weight & intensity - even while being silly as all get out. It was interesting to see the end cameos with the other actors - because, as good as they may be in their other parts, they just didn't seem to 'get it' - except for the Lady! LOL

Just had to share :))

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Primum non nocere

We have some friends who are constantly reading up on good supplements, diet fads, etc. They do pretty well for folks the medical establishment gave up for dead decades ago. Over the years they've tried some silly things (like lead foil-lined hats), but they've also made some helpful recommendations (ALA, colloidal silver, cell food/plankton et al). They've alerted us to a number of issues (chewable/liquid vs solid multi-vitamins, vaccination preservatives). They've helped me establish a baseline on some questionable suggestions made by others.

I don't just blindly follow their advice, or anyone else's for that matter. Happily, these aren't the kind of folks who will turn on you for not jumping on their latest bandwagon! These friends are good for offering studies & books on whatever alternative herbs, foods, and diets they try out. The good ideas stay.

They will always have tried anything they recommend for several months first, so I can see for myself if it worked for them. [ex: The all raw foods diet was a wash, though an increased percentage of raw fruits & veggies in the diet has proved a permanent addition. Using freshly ground grain instead of store flour also proved helpful to them & I hope to get a grinder of my own one of these days. ] They take chances, but they don't ask me to try anything they haven't tested. Any wonder my respect for them is so high? I wish everyone was as conscientious as they are!

& so I read their books & pamphlets, then look up any countering arguments or concerns. After that I am ready to make a decision of whether we could or should try it ourselves. That's the path I recommend to you. Most herbals are, at worst, harmless - but there are exceptions, and even the placebos can prove pricey experiments. It isn't wise to follow every suggestion you hear. Its always good to check other sources. Besides, its a good way to learn more about the subject!

To give you one example, one woman online claimed to be an herbal healer (a company rep) and strongly recommended a bowel cleansing formula to be taken daily. I considered her proposal as probably hostile, given some of her other behaviors, and certainly counterintuitive, given the great concerns excessive diarrhea has always caused doctors & hospitals, but I double-checked, giving her the benefit of the doubt. The time spent proved worthwhile. I learned a good deal about current treatment trends in parasitology, intestinal clutter, (and online quackery) - while listening to the local herbalists & medical professionals -umm, lengthy and dynamic reaction - when I mentioned her 'health plan' to them. Kaboom! lol

For the record, the regional experts would only recommend one weekend cleansing every three months - at most. Some only advise cleansing twice a year. Why? While it is good to get rid of intestinal build-up periodically [& possibly lose some parasites into the bargain] when you dump a lot of 'stuff' too often, you can also lose many nutrients and risk putting your body badly off-balance. [Balance is considered key to good health.] Also, if you fail to keep up with the fluid loss, you can dehydrate. This is the mechanism of injury by which dysentery has killed so many people. Their bodies couldn't keep up with the losses and went into shock.

Mind you, I never seriously considered adopting that lady's plan. Over the years, thanks to friends and family alike, I have learned a little bit about supplement & herbal solutions. Though I like to think I am open to new ideas, and it seems like there are always new discoveries coming down the pike - or at least old ones I hadn't yet heard about, I take some care. I will listen respectfully to most anyone, young or old, but I am careful even of the supposedly 'ancient' 'tried and true' remedies. You gotta be. If you aren't cautious, you run the risk of being the latest victim of a very elderly bottle of snake-oil.

A good example of that turned up today. I was aware of the movement to add back older grains (& millet in particular) to improve public health. I'd been told it was better to use old-style sorghum molasses instead of corn or pancake syrup. I already take vitamin B supplements everyday because I've known since I was a kid I had a difficulty in getting enough of them from food. Talking about B vitamins (& deficiency health issues) prompted a friendly soul online to recommend watching this video. She figures that this must be why these foods are so popular again. Who knows? Maybe it did have an impact, but that doesn't mean it should be accepted at face value.

The film itself had a few elements that always set off my baloney detector. The first 10 min in every 'conspiracy' documentary are often given over to explaining how often the regular establishment(s) have been slow to accept or adopt new ideas, treatments, paradigms etc and/or secretive in testing them. Okay, true, but also irrelevant. It is a fact that human institutions are slow to change once they become established, and that some 'experts' will resist change because they or their department will suffer some loss (at least of reputation!) with it, unless a very large impulse or force makes such change immediately desirable. This is not proof (or disproof) of any specific theory, treatment plan, or the presence of aliens.

I apologize in advance to all the novice documentary makers out there who believe they know an important, overlooked truth and just don't know another way to tell the great grand public 'please be open-minded' - but anytime I hear the likes of Galileo & the Wright bros offered as proof of the need to struggle against the powers that be before the truth can get out, my skepto-needle goes off the charts. These examples are poor, as the folks mentioned were all famous and fairly reputable in their own time, (despite opposition or even their own peculiarities) & had NOTHING to do with medical advances, or much of anything else outside their specialty. Its the guys who had great theories that were proven to be correct decades or centuries later- but no funding or respect in their own time who'll make your point. They existed, if you need to convince people of this. Also, please try to keep to the examples in the field you are addressing! Research, people!

Basically, what you have there is a faulty appeal to authority. The suggestion is that we would have believed Galileo then (being modern folks who have been taught better) so we should believe Krebbs (or whoever) now.

The documentary had plenty of technobabble, which initially sounded moderately impressive, even scientific, but it seemed odd to me to realize that while the film was quite old, I had never heard B17 recommended by any herbalist or nutritionist - while many other supplements have gone mainstream.

& I always look askance at any documentary with only a few 'experts' who are quoted over and over - followed by foundation/organization names that seem close to very famous ones. You may only have a few experts for a real point, but when you obscure that with sound-alike societies, you invite a charge of intentional humbuggery.

So the documentary ends and I start doing a few keyword searches. Doesn't take long to come a conclusion. After checking out laetrile online, I will stick to eating millet, almonds, apples, & apricots occasionally- probably sans kernels. If they are right, I should get plenty of benefit from the foods mentioned. At worst, it won't hurt me.

All this boils down to one principle - be careful of casual medical suggestions - online or at the bbq. Be careful of friend-of-a-friend anecdotes of what might cure you. Be careful of passing along trendy nutritional ideas to those you care about. 'Be careful' doesn't mean reject everything you hear, but be willing to check it out first! Be prepared to spend some quality time with search engines, encyclopedias, reputable herbal encyclopedias, herbalists, and any friends you have who regularly test alternatives.

When a friend or family member says they hurt, we want to help - that's only natural - but with many conditions, we can't be sure if an herb or diet plan really will help. Its best to stick to those suggestions that aren't likely to drinking lots of cranberry juice for a kidney stone before the next trip to the urologist. If you think you have fixed your problems with diet, herbs, yoga or whatever, great! Just please don't cancel the appointment for your next check-up. I'm sure the doctor will be delighted to share in the happy moment with you.

All that said, sometimes there are simple answers that have often been overlooked. Scurvy has a lot of horrible symptoms, and seemed quite complicated when it was first written up, but it was and still is curable with any source of Vitamin C. Are your gums bothering you? You may fix it just by grabbing an orange! Some people have been able to control mild asthma attacks with chocolate and coffee. Conversely, eliminating caffeine has cured sleeplessness, among other things. Drinking plenty of actual water (as opposed to soda, coffee, & strong tea) eliminates many irregularities. Taking ten deep breaths - deliberately breathing in as much as you can, holding for a second, and then exhaling gently - does wonders for nausea, heart racing, and nervousness. You can safely try any or all of these commonplace cures without risking yourself.

So - eat an apricot or a clementine. Have some multi-grain bread. Drink lots of water.
Breathe deep, friends, and relax. Its good for you. :)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


What Your Peanut Butter And Jelly Sandwich Means

Your eating style is reserved. You are a bit of a fussy eater, and you have very specific ways you like your food prepared.

You don't really have a sweet tooth. If you go for dessert, you tend to go for something light.

Your taste in food tends to be complex and sophisticated. You're probably a great cook, and talented at mixing unusual flavors.

You belong to a class that's all your own. You resist rules and traditions of any sort.

You are a tough person who isn't afraid to live life fully. There isn't a lot that scares you.

You Scored 85% Correct

You are an 80s expert
You never confuse New Order with the Pet Shop Boys
You know which classical musician Falco rocked
When it comes to 80s music, you Just Can't Get Enough!

I graduated in the 80's. 'nuff said.

Your Cell Phone Etiquette is 13% Bad, 87% Good

You are practically a cell phone saint. You never annoy the people around you.
Everyone should have phone manners as good as yours. And you sure wish they did!

You Are 85% Creative

You are an incredibly creative person. For you, there are no bounds or limits to your creativity.
Your next creation could be something very great... Or at least very cool!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Father's day!

We're having a quiet Father's day weekend. Dinner is roast chicken, stuffing, & gravy. Tom has already opened his presents & seems to enjoy them. His Dad is having a good day too. I don't need to blog to tell them anything, but its worthwhile to say again

Blessings on all the dedicated Dads still in the world!
You are more important than you know!

I hadn't quite realized until I read it in the paper today that the movement for Father's Day began in Spokane, Washington. I knew Myst was made there, and I'd even read somewhere that at least two of the early Zork programmers had attended the University of Washington nearby before going on to Infocom fame at MIT. I knew the Whitman mission was close to that area (but closer to Walla Walla, apparently). Their main guy was Spokane Garry. I just hadn't connected Father's Day with the place. According to this article, its because they don't make a big deal about it. I could believe that. The native population is a fairly understated bunch, rather reserved.

[Click the image and you will be able to send this or another free e-card to your Dad]

The curious can see what else Spokane has going for it on this site.
Its not terribly flashy either, but it gets the job done

Friday, June 15, 2007

Miyazaki Excellence

Just had to share this awesome music video! A friendly acquaintance recommended Veoh to me in order to see a particular show - but I stuck around all night looking up great documentaries, old series, trailers and all kinds of great stuff!

Online Videos by

In case you hadn't guessed already, I greatly enjoy both Miyazaki's films & Loreena McKennitt's folk music cds. Neither are based in a Christian worldview, so Moms you may want to preview and see what is suitable for your families, but many of you would probably enjoy the studio Ghibli films on movie night. They are so much fun! ^_^

btw looks pretty neat too.

There are even some Christian docs hosted on there!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Quizzles & Becka's picture

Five to seven years ago, I wrote Myst-inspired fanfics quite regularly. My favorite experiences were shared pieces that went back & forth between a few friends and myself. It was a lot of fun! Felt very inspiring in a light ''bit o' fun'' sense. As Becka got better at rendering, she, in her turn, felt inspired to make some pictures for those short pieces (along with her other work) & we later added them to my Myst fan site. She was looking back over the old site [as its definitely time to update it] & wanted to redo some of the older pictures her artwork has only improved in the interim. She posted an updated version of one of them recently. We won't get serious about those updates until we finish our current project., however

Came to mind that I mentioned Mom's story but not Becka's picture. So I am remedying that now.

I *thought* was going to be blogging on a quiz or three I saw her doing yesterday on her compy. I took them while sitting at her compy & enjoyed the results. Had to talk her into posting hers just now so I could take them again and post my own results :))

You're the color blue. You have the three c's in life--you're cool, caring and confident. Trustworthy and honest, people are naturally attracted to you. You're unusually optimistic, but that makes life all the better. You're an imaginative person who loves sleeping and dreaming. Hard-working and determined, you excell in school. You're everybody's favorite, and this is because you have this undefined richness in your personality and attitude. Mild-tempered and stable. Not to mention very intelligent. Along with the fact that you're conservative, you're worried about the environment. So basically, you're a generous, dependable and devoted--just the kind of person everybody needs. Wouldn't it be great if everybody in the world were like you?
Take this quiz!

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Cool! I always liked being in blue :))

What Musical Instrument Are You?

You're very suave and savvy. The guitar is "cool", but you're just plain cool, man. You can evoke some of the deepest emotions in people. You're also more versatile in that you come in several varieties to get a good range of sound. Your laid back attitude is very appealing to some, but appalling to others.
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Nice words, but I don't enjoy long sax solos. More into strings.

Which Writing Implement Are You?

I guess you could say that you're more confident than the pencil. You make stronger marks, and they last longer. Technically you're capable of change, but it doesn't always work out well. People count on you for your versatility.
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Fountain pens are awesome!

What kind of eyes do you have? (with pictures)

You have eden eyes. Eden is the color of water. Your eyes symbolize your great flexibility. You are a creative person. You can think of many good ways to get your point across to people as you have very good communication abilities. When someone feels down or is hurt, you have the remarkable ability to help them and heal them. If you have too little going on in your life, you may be withdrawn and depressed, timid, manipulative, unreliable, stubborn, or suspicious. Some words to describe you: peaceful, sincere, affectionate, tranquil, intuitive, trustworthy, pure, loyal, healing, and stable.
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Got the same as Becka on this one. Nice result!

Which climate are you most suited towards?

Wet Climate
You love to feel alive. While many would run and seek shelter, you're out dancing in the rain. It gives you strength and feeds your ambition. Warm or hot is not really an issue for you. You like to be alone with your thoughts, and it shows.
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So I live where I love, eh? Okay, I'll admit to delighting in green and shady trees, flowing reeds, and sailor's skies, but I love tree-covered mountains too. Even the desert has its charms for me, in small doses.

Which wand will yours be?

13 inches, holly and griffin feather. An unusual Ollivander's wand, but one that speaks of righteousness and heroism. The wand of a born leader, this one.
Take this quiz!

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Looking out my backdoor...

to see a turtle!

Here's a few recent pics of what summer looks like around here. :)

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Wild news

I used to be one of those who seriously followed all the major political stories, trends, and so on. Then I realized one day that it was quite often making me miserable, and there was rarely anything proactive I could do to remedy the situations I was watching. So I became more selective about what I allowed to grab my attention. I sign up for e-lerts on the subjects that affect my family the most, I skim the local news, and I pray a lot about everything else. Thats the balance that seems to work best for me.

but you can always get my attention with humorous clips.

The local news has been highlighting several of these lately. In case you missed these, here are some links I found about them online.

Oooohh Riding down the highway... in a wheelchair

And these poor people are going to need the extra special strong deodorant service at the cleaners..

Was the date Jon Arbuckle? because this response certainly sounded like it belonged in a comic strip...

Bush takes casual Fridays too much to heart..again

Friday, June 08, 2007

Resting in Christ

Its a bright, hot day.
The warmest we've seen.
The clay sand sizzles and small froggies cling
to their little mudholes, their creeks and the reeds.
But a bright cleansing sun is what the soil needs.
It kills off the fungus, reduces the pests.
As long as the AC runs, we'll be careful and rest.

Rest isn't always content, unless with Christ it is spent.
The mind rattles the cages of whys, ifs, hows, whens -
then battles in stages of what- to- do- then.

In peace, Christ comes to us and settles the flames,
takes over our worries, takes on our blames.
In peace we can rest in His holy name.

*slaps at the rhyming bug that's been chasing her around all day*

How about an update?

On the home front - Becka & I are still busy with our deadline. Starting to look like the second date is more likely. Happily we have a few volunteers for beta testing. Hope my efforts won't require too much checking or reworking. I'll need a few more renders before I can get too much further & find out. Meantime, Becka's little movies are adorable! Thanks to her talented efforts, our game is looking every bit as good as we'd hoped.

One of the things that has added a little delay was the last hospital run. I thought they weren't going to start until July, but we got a call the week before asking us to turn up Tuesday- Wednesday and get Tom checked again. The test(s) on Tom seem to go okay, and were easy enough on him, but we won't officially have the results for a while yet, most likely. That will be another week or two. The trip itself went okay, though we didn't sleep much while there & we're still kinda rebounding from that. Got a few pictures in the area, but not as many as I'd planned. People are remarkably shy about having their picture taken downtown. Made me wonder if they'd had some kind of trouble with it?

and we've confirmed that our mail is unreliable again after a second set of statements was requested & also failed to arrive. Then the bank tells us that one of them was actually marked 'returned to sender.' When questioned the local office not only refused to admit they had anything to do with it, but laid claim to an efficient regular daily delivery time that was 1-4 hours earlier than what we've actually seen with our own eyes this week (and most every other week). Its so sad, its laughable. We were not actively accusing them of misconduct, since it was possible for a local idiot to have stolen the mail (and even written on one before throwing back in a box) but why add such a blatantly wrong announcement? Pretty brazen, eh?

Now, I had already taken steps to deal with unreliable mail from many years back. At one point, store sale fliers & ministry mags were arriving as much as three months late, but it had gotten better for quite awhile. This is the second proof in comparatively recent memory in a long time that things have gone south again. A friend's package last Christmas arrived badly damaged, with one ceramic present smashed in the middle, but still apparently sealed. Couldn't tell for certain if it had been opened at that point but we were already suspicious because my Mom & DD caught the delivery person trying to set it against the door on the stoop and sneak away. Since our door opens outward it would have been impossible to have opened the door without knocking it down if they had not made the person come back and hand it to them...and it already rattled. Sounded broken. A label declared it had arrived in bad condition. [The post office supervisor insisted it came off the truck that way.] While a lot of the paper was ripped and places had clearly been taped over, my friend and I had this fun thing of reusing good mailing boxes over and over. Since all the presents seemed to be accounted for one way or another, and the shards could have caused the rips, we couldn't be sure. Then a week or so later a card from the same person arrived separately in the mailbox - without a postage stamp or mark. She confirmed it had been sent inside the box. There is no way it would have been passed all the way from her state to mine without a stamp or postage mark...and when this was pointed out, they denied delivering it. [All other Christmas deliveries we knew about arrived in good time & in good shape.]

Until then - the mail had seemed to be running just fine for several years. Even now most mags, small packages, and trivial ads still seem to be arriving on time, but then we noticed that some mailed statements seemed to be going missing over the last months. Since this has happened before and we couldn't be sure then they weren't being stolen from the box, all our accounts have a long had a watch on them - just in case. All accounts have alternate ways for me to contact the company etc. All friends & family have long ago been alerted to make sure they use UPS when possible, delivery confirmation &/or insurance when its not practical. Now several more companies have a notation in their files about missing mail to customers in this area(As I said before, we're not the only ones). Just what do they think this will get them? More major chain expansions in the area? Good reports to their bosses? You know, if they catch whoever is doing this, it'll be a federal offense!

No, they are mostly hurting themselves now. Service has been so bad some years that it became a standing joke. Its not just us either. A guy who was standing in the line with us when asking about alternatives announced that he had found his business mail laying on their open counter when it should have been in his post box, county govt mail missing from his post box, and more. They didn't blush, apologize, or explain. They ignored him. Another small business told us they found a special order they had gotten for us last winter - which seemed to be lost for a week - had been sent to the wrong address. It was marked for their business addy, but went to the business owner's private address anyway - while he was out of town. Since then they have also gone to using mostly UPS.

The truism that's gone round the county for years is that we have the best services in the third world. Power, cable, & phone upgrades also lagged behind the times until recent years. Some still lag. Basic services like trash pickup, water, and sewer lines still only serve in certain areas (mostly the new subdivisions) while the taxes are high everywhere. County permits, codes, county services...I don't think there's a single service run by locals that I haven't heard accused of stupid behavior. Not all accusations are true, of course, but not all are false. Many current chains are running their support services outside the county now. I don't blame them!

People openly talk about moving on away from here as soon as they get ahead in the world. They do too. [Most of the county's current growth has been from outsiders moving from the cities into the new developments. Even there, turnover is high.] Its been noted [with some bitterness] that many people who made it big while living here moved away as soon as possible, keeping the county from gaining socially/politically from their achievements. Sadly, they refuse to face why. There are some very nice people here & the land itself is beautiful BUT they also have entirely too many people 'in the system' who grew up believing that you only do your job right for people you like, people in your set, and feel free to make things extra difficult for anyone you've heard slandered. They still love to gossip 'round here so you can just imagine how many folks have had good reason to complain to the big chains about local service & how many shop or preferentially get inspectors, repairmen etc from across the river (in one direction or another). Small businesses open and close after only a year or two all the time. Some because they weren't good, some because they weren't the 'right' people. Some because not enough people knew they were good before they had to give up. & The outsiders commuting to the cities usually have their favorites in town.

As long as prejudicial 'picking' remains a county preoccupation, they can count on it that their reputation won't get any better. What people don't realize when they pull garbage on consumers is that most you-can't-prove-it 'covers' involve claiming incompetence or ignorance. Care to guess what most people in the state think the locals in this area are like? yeah. exactly. They can self-affirm each other until they are blue in the face, but nothing will change until they repent of the petty persecutions that seem to define this place.

I read in one of their history books that when this place was only accessible by ferry, 'community leaders' would assign people to check out anyone who got off the boat. If they liked them, they'd be escorted into the area hotels or a friendly home and offered realty deals & work incentives. If they didn't seem like the 'right kind of people,' they'd be urged to leave rather quickly. The word would be passed around that no one had better befriend them. Do you understand who those 'leaders' were? Do you understand why it was wrong to welcome only people who seemed to be like themselves? I did. I also understood then why my in-laws looked good to them at first, and what prejudice barriers they tripped over after they'd moved in. History always has its children in the present...

On a brighter note, I've finally gotten most of the new Doctor Who series recorded. A chance conversation with a friend online renewed my interest just in time to catch a number of them in marathon reruns on the tv on a couple of different channels. My Mom & DD kept an eye on getting them for me even while I was away. I am enjoying watching them with the earphones on etc (as Tom doesn't like them particularly) I still find the whole feel of the new series to be markedly darker & less friendly than the classic series, which I still prefer, but the new Doctor still fascinates me. Its definitely not for whole families now, especially not the little kiddlies, but they aren't selling it as though it were - so that's not too bad. The channels that show it (Sci-Fi, BBC-Am) both tend toward even darker fare. Dr Who is the lightest, closest thing to family fare programming that they have. Kinda a light in their darkness from the top of that little blue box. :-)

So today - I am enjoying my new treats and consciously putting our current concerns back on Christ's altar and waiting on Him to make the next move. He is promising to deal with the goofiness that wants to rear its ugly head. I know God won't disappoint me. He has held us up for a long time now and His promise is that He will continue to protect us. The future will get better yet. One day I will see much better places than this. One day my neighbors will be the best folks ever. Chosen by God Himself!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Zork month!

Malinche is declaring June to be the month of Zork. Not sure why, as Jam doesn't even have the Double Fanucci Championships. Something to do with selling legends of Quendor's greatness to surface dwellers. One concludes then that while its not a holiday IN Zork, this is a decent remembrance season for those of us who have visited GUE and its outlying tributaries. Yay! I'm in!

When I was in high school, Zork was the heat - and the coolness - and all those hip phrases. It had been discovered by the fortunate geeks some years before us and was hitting its stride as a mainstream phenomenon at our area high schools, computer clubs, spawning imitators and innovaters, and even attracting its share of badly made movie scripts. [That's when you know you've made it.] Everyone I knew seemed to have gone through that little white house -- maybe that's why the door was boarded over before my party ever arrived LOL

Seriously, we had a lot of fun playing with Infocom's games. Zork was the biggest and best known, the first for most of us. My school had actually bothered to get group licenses for those of us in the computer club - though you had to pony up your own cash to get all the little goodies that came with each box. My most treasured possessions in high school included a funky fake coin called a zorkmid, a tiny lantern that reminded me of Zork (never confirmed if it really was from a Zork game) and a cardboard sundial gnomon (and a penguin with a big nose, a Tardis cup, and a few other things that weren't Zork-related:-)

[You can still read a digital copy of the New Zork Times here, get all kinds of pictures & music from the series here, and play the games for free. You can even write your own! I have pretty much all the games on one cd collection or another.]

Zork was offered as a treat for those of us who had already done their work for the day on those lovely AppleIIe's. A mental 'last lap' around the digital track after all the hard stuff, but it often didn't work out that way. How do you get past the cyclops is a different problem than programming in Pascal, yes, but not necessarily an easier one!

Once I moved on to Hitchhikers Guide, Planetfall, or Bureaucracy, I was hooked on adventure gaming for life. Those mental worlds just sucked you right in, left all your real world problems on the doorstep, and left you wandering those endless twisty passageways with only your trusty adventurer's lantern as guide (though you could sometimes get as nudge from a friend or an invisiclues hint book). Many of us never completely returned - saving this backdoor exit from our lives on one hard drive after another. Zork's influence on adventure gaming continues to the this very day.

Interactive Fiction games began as text 'books' that changed and answered - that seemed to come alive on the computer, responding not only to your proper commands, but your yelps of frustration and nonsensical spoutings. Suddenly your computer talked back, amused & irritated you, became a companion on endless journeys. You made decisions, discovered long lost places, read silly books, found treasures, you could do about anything - all by yourself but not quite alone. If you ever doubted you had company, all you had to do was yell - or turn out your light.

There's still nothing quite like it, though I honestly feel that Myst came the closest to rediscovering that early magic. That may have had something to do with its success. It was a pleasure for me to discover my purpose while exploring my surroundings, wondering what had come before. Delighted to discover they had anticipated these reactions, that there was more to find out wherever you looked. It wasn't all just nonsensical eye candy. There was a story to find and a choice to make, and suddenly your chance wanderings mattered.

It was no surprise to me to hear that the Miller's were also Zork fans back when. Their D'ni city and its cavern world is much more 'real,' much more serious, than about any of the Zork tales (except maybe for Zork: Nemesis) but here and there you can see some Quendorian magic - especially in Uru Live. I suspect some small portion of their souls is also hidden away in a pleasant valley beyond the reach of this world's humbuggery.

Am I still a Zork fan? Yep, I even have lantern-shaped soap dispensers. Oh, what's that? What good eyes you've got. Yes, that's the IF folder on this compy. Looks so small, so innocuous, does it not? You can hardly imagine the universes within universes that hide within.

and that's the secret.

Here's a link for those of you who still feel the lure of a swinging lantern...
(its a freeware screensaver)