A typical blog of predictable tedium

Christine's blog

Thought for today

Woke up this morning,
   I woke up yesterday too.
Woke up this morning,
   woke up yesterday too, yeah.
If I wake up tomorrow,
   Lord knows that'll be three days!

Er, apologies to Dumpy and all that

Mmm, coffee...


I feel the need to say something interesting and profound here to convey my love for the nectar of the gods (well, the nectar of the gods that isn't pie, beer or curry related) but it'll have to wait until I stop drooling before I can think of something less inane.

In the meantime, enjoy the picture of the wonderfully named Isomac Tea espresso machine. This is my third such contraption, the previous two Gaggias not being quite able to cope with my demands (they are fine machines, though, provided you don't need industrial quantities of caffeine). Even the Tea has broken down on occasion, but it's more amenable to repair. The miles of plumbing inside it looks both impressive and scary, though.

Barry Norman's pickled onions

What on Earth is our veteran movie mogul doing with onions? Well I haven't a clue, and it sounds an insane idea, but what I do know is that they're absolutely delicious. Perhaps a little spicy for some people, but they have the perfect balance as far as I'm concerned: not as vicious as some of the "spicy" ones out there, but just a lovely, rounded taste. And at the time of writing (Feb. 2008, you'd think I'd get some proper blog software that timestamped this old guff), Tesco is inexplicably selling them for just 10p a jar. Buy them. Buy them all! But leave some for me.

Things to hate

Head on over here for assorted bitching, moaning and griping of assorted banality. Some things just need to be moaned about, and this is my personal moan corner, although if anyone else needs any moaning done I also do gripes by proxy.

Video game addiction

The early days

Back in The Olden DaysTM, computer games didn't really have much risk of causing problems with dependency. That's not to say that they weren't any good, but the unreliability of cassette tape was the gaming equivalent of bromide, and any desire to go and slay some random things quickly evaporated when considering the spectre of trying to unwrinkle a section of tape or fiddling about with the playback levels ad nauseam. Of course I could've just bothered my parents to get me a console instead so I could've basked in the joy of nice, reliable, trouble-free cartridges, but you can't write a "hello world" program on an Atari. (Un)fortunately I was unable to afford that wonder of modern technology, the floppy disc drive, so things kind of died down again until I went to college.

We don' need no steenkin' graphics

A minor renaissance in my gaming experience occurred once I started college, from a somewhat unlikely source: the college mainframe. Granted, a 24 by 80 green-screen text-only terminal at the end of a bit of damp string running at 1,200 bps isn't the most inviting source, but here I rediscovered the joy of adventure programs, and, once I'd braved the horror that is Unix, the new world of Rogue and Hack. But I also discovered email, which won the battle of what was going to be most effective at distracting me from my coursework.

The Dark Ages

Once I'd left college it was off to work for a living. This was the late '80s, the nadir of not just popular culture but also anything interesting in the world of computing: Arch-Nerd Gates and his tedious pile of crap had been inexplicably embraced by the world at large and the life was sucked out of computing. Even the games were more tedious than I could bear, so apart from a brief flirt with Wolfenstein, I gave up and got on with programming; it had disastrous consequences on my social life, I actually started going down the pub and meeting people.

The Renaissance

A few years down the line, interesting things started to happen in computing. Firstly, something came along that would make the Personal Computer interesting again: Linux. It might not be the be-all and end-all, but it had one huge strength: Linux is not Microsoft. So not only did I have a practical programmer-friendly system I could use anywhere, it also had a raft of free software... and so on. But Linux wasn't the only new development at that time: just one rather short year later, Doom materialised.

Now here was something that really fueled my addiction in earnest; even though it was an unbelievable bugger to get the thing running, especially on the only machine I had handy, my long-suffering 20 MHz 386, there was no going back. Those horrible headache-inducing blocky graphics were "unbelievably real" to eyes used to... well, things I'd sooner forget, and I'd play that thing until I felt sick. And then I'd play some more, until I was sick. And still I'd go on. By the time I started to get fed up with it--and some of the Hell-based levels really were a bit uninspired--other things arrived to take its place, a whole raft of Doom-likes such as Heretic as well as more imaginative games such as Dungeon Master and the Discworld series.

Eventually, though, the Internet gatecrashed my life once again with the advent of home networking, which distracted me from the wholesome goodness that is computer games for the latter part of the 1990s.

The Modern Age

Eventually, though, the temptation of gaming wouldn't stay hidden forever. Fast forward to the early 2000s, and arguing with assorted nutters and idiots online had started getting pretty old, and illness meant that work wasn't occupying my time... right on cue, along comes Doom 3, with "totally amazing" graphics, and many hours of frustration as wrench-wielding nutters try to brain me and imps jump out of the shadows just to see if my heart's still working. It doesn't get any better than this...

And then Half Life 2 comes along just to prove that, well, actually, it really does get better than this. A lot. Although not offering any more capability in terms of total hours of my life wasted, HL2 is probably still the most atmospheric game I've played to date. I couldn't get enough of it, and it'll always hold a very special place for me.

Vometia says 'Piss off!'

Vometia says "piss off"

Enter another desert of gaming... while waiting for the next instalment of HL to come along, I wasn't really feeling terribly inspired; a random decision to give something a try based on nothing more than an off-the-cuff remark from the creator of an HL parody comic about him quite enjoying something called Oblivion took me places I hadn't expected to go with computer games. Now here was something different... or if not different, at least forgotten: the whole role-playing thing was something that had only had the slightest impact on me at college, it involved writing stuff down with smudgy pens, lots of Tippex, dice, the postal service, people who called their hordes things like The Purple Sediments or The Toile Trolls and other stuff that just made me think that whilst humorous, it was just more effort than it was worth. But now here it was all laid out in front of me, a whole world with numerous and confusing things to keep track of. I hated it, it was confusing for someone used to the "point and bang" style of playing, but slowly and gradually, like mould, it grew on me. Now I find that Oblivion alone has eaten well in excess of 1,000 hours of my life, not to mention the other elements of the Elder Scrolls series... and that's just one of the things I've been afflicted with lately.

There's no hope for me. I'm lost forever, or at least until the next interesting distraction comes along.

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