DayZ – Day 2

DayZ is the zombie apocalypse we all knew was coming. Yes, it’s a game. I read an article. My zombie fetish was tickled. I knew very little. This is what happened…

I appeared in darkness. I could see stars above, and the rest was pitch black. Night time in zombie land.

I’ve avoided reading much about the game, but the one article I did read made it clear that you started with a flashlight and very little else. Apparently they used to start you with a pistol, but those glory days are long gone.

I reviewed the controls, tried a few different possibilities, and tried to move things around in my inventory. But I was completely stumped. I couldn’t figure out how to turn on the flashlight.

Google’s usually my friend, but in this case it was surprisingly difficult to uncover the secret. Lots of people had the same question, but in most forums the response was simply, “You have to equip the flashlight first.” Great, but how do I do that?

I finally hit on the answer, which I’ll recount here for those that care. The flashlight begins on your utility belt. You have to right click the icon and select “remove from inventory” or some such thing. It’s the only choice there. That’s the super-intuitive way they built to get the flashlight from your utility belt to your pistol slot. For the record, I did try to simply drag it from one spot to the other. It didn’t work.

I any case, I now had a cone of light in front of me and darkness all around. It really, really seemed like suicide.

I took about three steps forward, then stopped and thought about it. Finally, I figured there was little chance of accomplishing anything, so I logged off and and started looking for a server that was in daytime.

Once again I appeared on the shoreline, this time with the familiar overcast skies. Not far off ahead of me I saw houses. A quick check to the left showed a large building on the shoreline, like a cannery or something. A quick check the right showed a few buildings further off.

I crouched and started making my way toward a large tree that was between me and the cannery. I stop just behind the tree and looked around, only to see a crouched figure shuffling around up ahead. Zombie.

I went prone and started making my way toward the houses instead. Before I reached the houses I came across a railroad track that was on a slightly raised bed. I crawled up the side of it and looked around. Zombies on my left and right, crossing the tracks as I watched. I was boxed in.

I shuffled backward and slowly crawled back toward the tree. The zombies didn’t come any closer, and eventually I moved far enough that they were no longer flanking me. So, I was basically left with one direction – to the right.

I paralleled the train tracks for a while, crawling all the way, then saw a zombie up ahead. I stopped to think, and finally decided that I’d have to thread the needle. I started veering toward the tracks, and eventually got across them without any zombies noticing. I kept moving, and started making a beeline for a couple of nearby houses.

The closest house had a dilapidated truck sitting in front of it, just like the truck I had seen on Day 1. I veered around it, sure that it would be empty, and approached the house. All was well, but as I came up to the door I couldn’t find any way to open it. Instead, I circled around the house.

In the back was a little shed. As I approached the door, an icon appeared at the bottom of the screen and I clicked the action button (middle mouse button). Huzzah! The door opened, and I found myself crawling forward into… the outhouse. Uh… huzzah…?

I turned around and moved toward a well that was sitting between the two houses. I got up into a crouch so I could see the top of the well and try opening it. No luck, so I went prone again and moved on.

As I came around the corner of the second house, I saw a beautiful sight. There it was, a wood cutting block with an axe firmly embedded in it. I pushed down my excitement and took some time to look around. All was clear, so I crawled over to the axe.

Nothing. No icon, and no apparent way to get it. I got up into a crouch, thinking maybe I needed to be level with it. Nope, nothing. I think I even tried standing, but nothing worked. The axe, it appeared, was simply there for ambience.

As I crawled toward the next corner, I heard a moan. Next thing I know, a figure appeared from around the corner, wandered over, and started beating on me. I got up and ran.

And boy did I run. I led the zombie on a merry chase through a small group of houses, over a hill, and through some woods. I think I had as many as 10 zombies trailing me at any given point, but it was clear that there was simply no escape. So finally, I just stopped running.

They made short work of me, and Day 2 ended just like Day 1. But I had learned a few things.

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DayZ – Day 1

DayZ is the zombie apocalypse we all knew was coming. Yes, it’s a game. I read an article. My zombie fetish was tickled. I knew very little. This is what happened…

I appeared on the shoreline, somewhere. It was daytime, and somewhat overcast. I could see trees off in the distance, but not much else. I knew there were zombies somewhere, but I didn’t see any. So, it was time to figure out how to move around.

A quick check of the control keys taught me how to crouch, go prone, and stand again. I experimented with all three, and made some quick assessments. Prone was good, but slow. Crouching was better. Walking upright felt like suicide.

I also noticed some icons on the side of the screen. An ear and an eyeball, both with changing levels beside them. Before long I realized that this was a reflection of how easy I was to see and hear. Yep… walking upright was suicide.

I started to move around slowly, and realized there was a road up ahead, running left to right in front of me. I went prone and crept up to the road, but didn’t see anything interesting. I also figured being on the road was suicide, so I backed off and started to parallel the road in a crouch.

Shortly, I saw a house up ahead, across the road. As I got closer, I saw a wrecked truck on my side of the road, and a bunch of rubble blocking a point where a side road met the main road.

I stopped and looked all around. A few times. Then I slowly moved up to the truck. It was too tall to see into, and a I didn’t see a jump button in the list of controls, so I crept around the tail end of the truck. Nothing. I moved further down the road to the rubble, and circled it. Nothing.

Okay, game time. I ran across the road and stopped on one side of the house. I looked around a bit, but nothing happened, so I circled the house. I found a door on the other side, and couldn’t figure out how to open it. The control list didn’t help. So I wandered back across the road and started heading for the trees.

Not being able to open the door nagged at me, though. So I stopped, checked the controls again, saw nothing useful, and switched over to a browser to Google the problem. A quick scan of some discussions forums revealed that doors were buggy, and maybe I needed to be just the right distance away – sometimes a long way away – for the open door icon to show up. Okay, back to the game.

I turned around, stood up, and started walking back to the house.

Movement!

I saw a figure dart across the road from the house, then turn and start coming toward me. Since it hadn’t come straight at me, I thought I might have run across another player, and turned to watch. The figured followed the road to where I was standing, stopped beside me, and turned.

Whack! It started attacking me.

It turned and double tapped W to run. I started watching the shadows on the ground in front of me, and noticed that the second shadow had disappeared. I turned around to see where it was, and that was it. Whack!

It was then that I noticed the blood smeared face. Zombie. I tried to run, but was hurt too badly. A few more strikes and I fell to the ground, bleeding out as the zombie continued to attack me.

That was it. 30 minutes total, and I still don’t know how to open a door.

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A Letter to Hawkins Cheezies

To whom it may concern:

Let me begin by saying how much I enjoy your product. Hawkins Cheezies have been a mainstay in crunchy, cheesy snacking throughout my life. Oh sure, I’ve flirted with other brands. I’ve been tempted by a Cheeto and disappointed by a Crunchie, but I always come back to Cheezies. They’re like an old friend, ready to wrap me up in a salty hug.

Lately, though, I’ve become a little more health conscious. (Let’s just say there were doctors and blood tests and leave it at that, shall we?) And what did I see when I looked at the nutritional information on your lovely orange package? 3 grams of trans fat in every 50 gram fistful of crunchy goodness! That’s what I saw.

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say I was shocked, dismayed, and yes, even a little confused. I mean, it’s no secret that you’re selling me a slow, cheesy death with every bag. I take no issue with that. I think we can all agree that a life without crunchy, orange snacking is a life best left unlived. But isn’t this a bit like adding 3 grams of insult to every 50 grams of injury?

Now, my friends will tell you that math isn’t my strong suit, but here’s how I figure it: for every 50 cheezies I toss into a bowl, three of those cheezies are now suspect. Three of those cheezies are basically little orange torpedoes of doom, ready to sink my good cholesterol into the depths. But I have to wonder, which three are they?

I’d look for soft and squishy ones, but I don’t recall ever eating a cheezie that lacked that satisfying crunch. I’d measure them to spot the rogue morsels, but half the fun is nibbling on the little guys and then crunching into a king-sized piece. I’d send them out for chemical analysis, but let’s face it, that might be just a bit silly.

But you know, I did have an idea that might have legs. Perhaps you could make three cheezies out of every 50 a different colour? You know, make them stand out so that we can safely toss the trans fat and get on with our snacking!

Honestly, how would you feel about that?

Let me conclude by saying that my love for Cheezies endures. All relationships hit a bump in the road every now and again, and the trick is to work through it and find a compromise when you can. I think we’ve done just that today, and I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Steve
Maybe a nice green, for St. Patrick’s Day.

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A letter to Hanes socks

To whom it may concern:

Let me begin by saying that I’m a big fan of your men’s cushion crew socks. They are both comfortable and durable, and I’m rather fond of the grey heel and toe with your trademark red toe seam. In fact, I don’t believe I’ve bought another brand of crew socks in well over 10 years.

Unfortunately, I do have one complaint that I am writing to tell you about. You see, today I bought a new package of socks and I noticed that the word “Hanes” (printed on the bottom of the toe section) is now black.

Black. Which is neither red nor grey. Which are the colors used on my older socks. Which means that I now have three colors to match, instead of just two. Now, please understand that I’m no math major, but it strikes me that sorting my socks has just become.. well.. it’s got to be at least 2 billion times as difficult as it used to be.

So now I’m forced to wonder: you do understand that you’re selling your men’s crew socks to men, right? Men. Who don’t want to sort laundry. Who want to pull 2 socks out of a pile and have them match every time, without fail.

I have to be honest and say that I’m shaking my head in wonder right now. Was red lettering not stylish enough? Is grey ink less expensive, and therefore a cost saving measure? Does black ink improve your sales through some elusive male color preference that I’m not aware of?

I simply don’t know. But I do know this: I would really, really like it if you guys would quit changing colors. In fact, if I could exchange my black lettered socks for some with either red or gray lettering, I’d be a happy man. Do you think this would be possible?

Sincerely,

Steve
Black is bad, grey’s okay, but red is best.

Postscript: They sent me free socks with red lettering. I kid you not!

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A letter to Warner Home Video

To whom it may concern:

I recently purchased seasons one and two of the Samurai Jack cartoons on DVD, as distributed by Warner Home Video. I very much enjoy this cartoon, and decided that it was well worth having as part of my home video collection. However, as I began to watch the series I also began to notice a problem.

It seems that I am unable to skip the opening credits on each episode. Pressing the “next chapter” button has no effect, and with each episode I am forced to sit through the introduction that I am already well acquainted with. Clearly this is an absurd and idiotic state of affairs.

As I’m certain that your company is not in the habit of employing idiots, I can only conclude that my DVDs are defective in some way. With this in mind, can you please tell me how I can exchange my DVDs for a set that is not defective in this manner?

Thank you for your prompt reply,

Steve

Samurai Jack Fan

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Hey when that look is in your eyes, I can see my fate

Alright, so I admit it.. I ended that last post a little abrubtly. There’s about 10,000 things I can say about being pregnant, but none of them made any sense to me last night. I wrote a fancy little lead in to it, but once I actually got to the big announcement I was kind of trapped by the way I set it up.

Yes, having a kid is a time to reflect. I think that’s normal. What’s perhaps less normal is not knowing what to say about it that will make any sense to the people who know me, because it’s no secret that I’ve never wanted a child.

Call me part of the selfish generation if you must, because us Gen-Xers are certainly that. But somehow, I’ve never had that thing inside me that said “I want to raise and nurture a child.” Mostly, I’ve had that other thing that says, “Never volunteer for anything.”

Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I dislike kids. Never have. I’ve just never wanted to take care of one of my own. I’ve always figured I had enough to do just taking care of myself, and making sure nobody else had to take care of me.

When I met Stacey, I was pretty up front about it, too. Within 2 weeks of our first date, I was having “the talk” with her. It went something like this: “I don’t want kids, I’ve broken up with people in the past over this, and figure we shouldn’t even bother if this is a sticking point for you.”

For some reason (that none of my friends claim to understand – you bastards!), she stuck with me anyway. Go figure.

And thank God.

Because at the heart of all this is my love for her. You see, she’s got a lot of friends who are having kids, and I watch her when we visit them. She smiles, she laughs, she plays… she shines.

So yes, she’s told me she can get by without kids. And honestly, the mid-thirties is a little late in the game for this kind of thing. But at the end of the day, I think it would be a mistake to deny her that.

So I gave it a lot of thought, and considered our lives as they are now. And I thought about the changes a child would bring, both for her and for me. And maybe, somewhere inside me, I found a spot that was also shining at the thought.

So, while we didn’t exactly decide to get pregnant, we did stop doing things to prevent it.

What can I say? My boys are swimmers!

(Originally posted 2006-09-04)

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With every turn comes a new frame of mind

Time flies. I think we all know this, but there are times in life when it’s really brought home.

Take my friend Sheldon, for instance. He’s 7 days younger than me, and from this we have formed a tradition: every year after my birthday he gets 7 days to try his best to make me feel old, and then on the seventh day, on his birthday, I make him feel 10 times worse.

It’s a good arrangement, because I always come out on top. I don’t care how old I am. He does. So when I give him cards with Death on the cover waggling a finger, and a caption on the inside that reads, ”That’s right, come to Papa”.. well, let’s just say I sometimes feel like I’m hitting below the belt.

But y’know, it’s not age that bothers him really. It’s the sense that we’re moving so far past what we once were, and so far past what we once dreamed we could be, that maybe we can’t get to those dreams anymore. Maybe we can’t even touch a small piece of them anymore.

When we were young we dreamed mighty dreams. The dreams of Titans, with the entire earth at our feet and all paths open to us. And now.. we’re a salesman and a… hell, I don’t even know how to say what I do for work anymore, except to say that it isn’t what I dreamed of doing.

Anyway, my point is this: every year on his birthday, Sheldon reflects on his life. He wonders what he did right, and what he did wrong, and what happened to the dream.

Well, now I have my own event. You see, Stacey and I are pregnant.

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Stupid girls

So, I saw Pink get interviewed on Ellen the other day. Ellen positively loved Pink, and perhaps for good reason. I have to admit that her song has struck a chord with a lot of folks.

But y’know, when they got the part where Pink was talking about the diamonds she has embedded in her front teeth, and saying how it made her “gansta”… well… it’s just hard to sum up the thoughts that were whirling through this little head of mine.

Maybe Paris and Pink have more in common than we realize.

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A meditation on the morning commute

My morning commute usually involves me, in a very groggy state, merging with the highway into town. About two minutes later, I pull off again and take an overpass that cuts right across it. I don’t even change lanes on the highway – I just stay in the turn-off lane the whole way.

And this is a good thing, because just before the overpass that I normally take, traffic slows to a crawl. This generally doesn’t affect me, since I’m driving in the turn-off lane, but the other day I had to go right downtown instead. That’s when I noticed that once I got a little bit past the overpass, traffic picked right up again.

I didn’t think much of it at the time (remember, groggy), but recently I’ve noticed that a lot of people try to leapfrog the slow down by turning off at the overpass, heading straight through, and then just merging right back on to the highway after it.

Merging. Back onto the highway. Right after the overpass. After which the traffic improves again.

Are you following me?

So I’m wondering.. just when are these leapfroggers going to figure out that they’re causing the very problem they’re trying so hard to avoid?

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A new house moment

I greet our builder at the door and take him into the kitchen. I’ve got two copies of the list printed out – the final things I’ve noticed that we need to get fixed before we sign off on the house.

I pass a copy to the builder, and he starts going through it. We talk about this and that, and it’s a friendly enough chat. He’s a good guy, about our age, and easy to work with. But like any tradesperson, he’s got more than one job going, and we’ve been going back and forth on defects for more than a few weeks now.

We get to the end of the list, and he’s pretty much ready to go. But he’s skipped one.

“So John, what about number eight?” I ask before he gets away.

John looks down at the list. “Oh right, the room.”

I’d mentioned the room to him before we went away on Xmas vacation. It was our guest room, and it always seemed colder than the rest of the house. I’d slept in there now and again, and when morning came, the glass of water that I always kept beside the bed was cold enough that I could believe it had just come out of the fridge. Which I’d also mentioned to him.

At the time, he wondered if it had to with the construction. That bedroom didn’t share the attic space with rest of the house, so might be a little colder just because of that. I can understand a little colder, but it was a lot colder.

“Yeah, the room. You had mentioned that you might take a look at it after we got back from our trip.”

“Okay.. is it cold now?” John asks, starting for the stairs.

“I’m sure it is. It’s always cold,” I say, following.

As I step into the room, I notice the temperature drop immediately. I look at John.

“Wow.. it’s colder than I thought you meant,” he says, moving around the room.

I can’t help but wonder what part of “water like it came out of the fridge” didn’t say “really cold” to him, but I decide to keep my mouth shut.

I watch for a few minutes as he investigates. He begins by feeling the air flow around the window, then starts checking the walls and the ceiling. “Yeah, I can definitely feel the cold air coming up from the window. And the ceiling’s pretty cold, too.”

He drops off the bed and looks at me. “Well, I’m not sure what’s going on. Do you have a ladder? Maybe I should take a look up in the attic.”

I don’t have a ladder, but he just runs across the street to get one. Definitely one of the advantages of having your builder live across the street.

When he gets back he climbs up into the attic and takes a look around. Ten minutes later he comes back down.

“So what are you guys doing on Tuesday?” he asks.

“Find a problem?”

“Well, it looks like they missed blowing in the insulation over that room. Tuesday’s the first day I’m free. I’ll have to haul it up myself.”

I can’t help but laugh. It’s just plain funny.

“Okay, Tuesday sounds good,” I say, glad I had made him take a look.

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