Nocturnal Lives

Musings from the mind of Amanda S. Green – Mother, writer, and possessed by cats

Category: Musings (Page 2 of 39)

Tuesday morning thoughts

It’s going to be a short post this morning, mainly because I’m blogging at Mad Genius Club today. Go check the post out. I talk about Books-a-Million and their indie publishing print platform as well as some of the changes over on the KDP side of things.

The other day, I posted a brief snippet of what I thought might turn out to be the opening to Nocturnal Rebellion, the next book in the Nocturnal Lives series. I’ll be honest. I had hoped by writing the scene, the muse would be satisfied and let me finish the final tweaking on Dagger of Elanna (Sword of the Gods Book 2). But noooo, the book has taken hold and the muse is demanding my attention. So, it looks like the next couple of weeks will see me splitting my time between the two. Fortunately, all that is needed on Dagger is minor tweaking and the final check of the print file before taking the book life. For now, however, the e-book is available for pre-order and, hopefully, the print book will be ready to go by the time the e-book goes live.

If Rebellion continues as it started, it is going to be a roller coaster ride. When I started figuring out the plot for the book several months ago, it did not look anything like what is happening now. Of course, as I’ve said before, my muse is an evil bitch and she is loving not only throwing me for a loop with the book but also in not letting me know what is happening more than a few pages ahead at a time. So far, it’s working — or so my alpha readers have said. Well, they also told me I had to keep writing it, so I guess something is working right.

Now I’m off to find another cup of coffee — idiot dog and BratCat decided 0430 was a wonderful time to get me up. It didn’t matter that I disagreed. Sigh.

Later!

Monday morning, oh how I loathe thee

This is the morning so many employers dread. Super Bowl Monday. The day when employees drag in, suffering from too little sleep, too much over-indulgence and either too much bragging because their team won or too much angsting because their team lost. Those who supported the Falcons — or at least wanted to see the Pats lose — might admit it was a great game, especially the last few minutes. But, there is still the fact the Falcons lost after holding a 21+ point lead at one point, something no other team has done in history. So, Falcon supporters have ruffled feathers, adding to the Monday morning blues.

As for me, I started the day off much too early — thank you, BratCat — and have already been to PT. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am firmly convinced physical therapists are frustrated sadists in their private lives and they take it out on their clients. All I can say right now is OUCH!

Which is also sort of what I’m feeling right now about my muse. Myrtle has never been an easy muse to live with. But, right now, she is taking great glee in causing me problems. Normally, when I finish a project, I need a week or so to recharge the batteries and get the new novel’s “voice” in my head. Except this time, Myrtle has different plans. I’m not officially finished with Dagger of Elanna (Sword of the Gods Book 2). Sure, it’s up for pre-order. Yay!. But there are still a few tweaks that need to be made and I need to finish the print set-up because I’m not happy with how it looked when I did it earlier. But is Myrtle letting me do it? Nooooo.

As you saw yesterday, she has ambushed me with the next Nocturnal Lives opening scene. Except now it is scenes. And, let me tell you, the book is already throwing me for a loop. Not only because I hadn’t planned on it being the next book I wrote but because of how it starts off. Worse, as I think I said yesterday, I don’t know where this is going. Myrtle is hiding more than the next few pages from me. Sigh, someone come take my muse on vacation for a week or so. Hell, I’d be happy if you’d just take her out for drinks and let her spend the night with you.

Why do I feel like Rodney Dangerfield right now when he would joke, “Take my wife — please”?

I guess I don’t need to sleep.

One more thing before I head off to do some work — after finding coffee. If you haven’t read Dave Freer’s Mad Genius Club post today, do so. He hits it out of the part with this post.

The road to Hell is paved. . . .

You know the rest of the saying.

The reason this is on my mind this morning is two-fold. Over the last couple of days, several of my friends, family really, have found themselves or their loved ones in the hospital. In one case, the friend didn’t want to impose on anyone by asking people — family, mainly — to come up and give her a break from sitting hour after hour with her husband. In the other, friends and fans have been making “helpful suggestions” about how avoid another trip to the hospital. The problem is, those suggestions are not only coming from left field, by and far, but they are only serving to do the one thing she needs to avoid: raising her blood pressure.

Hence this post.

We all want to be helpful to those we care for. We want to be there for them when they are in need. When we can’t be there, we want to do something, anything. So we tend to offer unsolicited advice.

So here’s the thing. It isn’t bad to ask people for help. I’ve been in the situation where a family member has been in the hospital for weeks on end. There comes a point when you have stayed with them so long, too long, that your brain quits working. Mom has an excellent example of it. She was head of a major department at the hospital. My dad, who suffered from really, really serious heart issues, had been in the hospital for a month or so. Mom realized she had been there too long when she tried to write a check and couldn’t remember how. For days and weeks, her life had revolved around being there to talk to the doctors, to make sure Dad didn’t need anything, etc. It was normal. I was there as much as possible too. The only reason I wasn’t there as much as she was was because she made me go to my college classes and go home every other day to check on the animals. But, when she realized she didn’t remember how to do something as simple as write a check, she knew she had to not only leave the hospital and go home for a bit but that she needed to accept the offers of help we’d been getting from friends and family. We weren’t imposing on them. In fact, by not letting them help, we were hurting them. They were offering out of love for us and for my dad.

That is a lesson we have been trying to pass on to our friend who is currently living at the hospital with her husband. Mom even applied a little tough love over the weekend to drive the point home. It worked and she is finally realizing that there is no weakness in asking for help — when you need it.

On the flip side of that are those friends who take a bit of information about a hospitalization or medical condition and run with it. Some of the theories I’ve seen flying around the interwebs about my other friend’s condition have left me torn between laughing hysterically and pulling on my hobnail boots to kick some asses. Then, this morning, I find out that some folks have been PMing and emailing her with offers to take certain responsibilities from her because, of course, that is why she wound up in the hospital to begin with. It doesn’t matter that she had done nothing but write a single blog post about it. Oh no, the fact that one or more of them think they can do a better job at the task than anyone else is behind it all. At least that’s my opinion. Without thinking about the stress their “helpful” suggestions might have on her, they push forward, pulling in others to plead their case as well.

Then there are the oh-so-helpful “I know so-and-so who had the exact same symptoms and they had to have X or Y done” comments. I know they mean well. Hell, I’ve been guilty of making these same sorts of comments before. But we have to stop, close our mouths and think before speaking. We need to ask ourselves how our comment will be received by the person we are trying to help. If there is a possibility that we are going to inadvertently cause more stress or strain than help, then we need to ask ourselves if our comment really needs to be made. If not, then we should keep it to ourselves.

Yeah, I know. I’m preaching today. I’d like to say I’m sorry but I can’t. I’ve seen it happen too much the last two weeks. Life has dealt too many of my friends and family problems and we, their loved ones and friends, have fumbled too often trying to be of help. We don’t do it out of malice — at least not usually — but we do it out of unthinking concern. All I’m suggesting is that we think and, before offering unsolicited advice, ask if the person needs anything.

Then we do what they need the most. We listen.

Every voice should be heard. . .

American flag. . . but that doesn’t mean action has to be taken each and every time.

A couple of posts caught my eye this morning. The first is out of Amherst, Massachusetts. Hampshire College, a Liberal Arts college boasting an enrollment of approximately  1,400 students found itself making national news. No, it isn’t because of the quality of the education it gives its students. It is over flying — or, in this case, not flying — the American flag.

It began the day after the election when some of the students decided to fly the flag at half-staff and university leadership sided with them. On the eve of Veteran’s Day, someone burned the flag. The next day, November 11th, officials replaced the flag and flew it at full-staff. As the mother of a member of the U. S. military and as someone who comes from a family that has a long history of serving the country, that is enough to raise my ire. You simply do not disrespect those who are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for this country so those who decide it’s a good thing to burn the flag are free to do so (assuming they are smart enough not to destroy private property in the process).

It wasn’t until the next day that the college decided to lower the flag to half-staff. Apparently the administration wanted to “continue” discussing what the flag means.

What? Give me a fucking break.

But it gets better.

Monday, November 18th, saw a Facebook post from the university announcing that it would no longer fly ANY flags. Oh, students could still fly flags but the university would not. No institution flag, no state flag and no US flag.

John Courtmanche, spokesman for the college, gave CNN the following statement:

Our goal is to give voice to the range of viewpoints on campus across cultures, and hopefully find common ground. . .We’ve heard from members of our community that, for them and for many in our country, the flag is a powerful symbol of fear they’ve felt all their lives because they grew up as people of color, never feeling safe. For others, it’s a symbol of their highest aspirations for the country.

Without going into whether or not the fears are real for those who spoke out against the flag, I have more than a few questions for the university. First, who many actually voiced this concern and for how long? Why allow the flag to fly at half-mast the morning after the election and then show disrespect to the veterans and their families by flying it at full-mast just a few days alter?

Second, if this is a long-standing concern on the campus, why didn’t this “discussion” about what the flag stands for take place before now? What sorts of discussions are taking place now and who is handling them?

Third, when are we going to demand our education system, both public and private, educate our kids to the fact that they aren’t always going to get their way? That the world is an harsh place where you won’t always feel safe? When will we teach them that the rights you want — such as, the right to protest something you don’t like — apply equally to the other side?

Moving on, after word spread through the college’s community about what happened, “at least 1,000 veterans” gathered to protest the removal of the flag. This was after hundreds had gathered at the college earlier in the week to protest the actions of the administration. My real question to the administration is why give in to the feelings of some without taking into consideration the feelings of others? What thought process went into their decision?

My guess, none. They decided to go with those who voiced fear instead of taking affirmative steps to address the issue, starting with determining if there really was a problem on campus or not.

The next bit that caught my eye is the coverage — and some reactions — to the death of Fidel Castro. It amazes me how the MSM has folks on the ground in Havana, busy trying to interview the “man on the street”. All we are hearing from them is how wonderful life was under Castro, how great a leader he was, etc., etc., etc. Over the weekend, right after the news broke, an ABC correspondent went so far as to give his personal glowing endorsement of the dictator. Why? Because parts of Havana had been rebuilt over the years.

No mention was made of the treatment of most of the citizens there. No mention was made of the Human Rights violations the Castro regime was guilty of.

Now he is being painted as a revolutionary who, believe it or not — and I saw this on another author’s FB page — was a hero for saving Cuba from American imperialism.

Oh. My. Fucking. Ghu.

First off, the interviews with the Cubans in Havana remind me of some of the conversations I had with people living behind the Iron Curtain during the 1980’s. They were still under the boot heel of the Soviet Union. No way were they going to say anything negative in public about the government for fear it would get back to the powers that be. Freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, etc., were foreign to them. A distant memory for those countries that found themselves under Soviet “leadership” following World War II. For those in the USSR, most could not even imagine what those freedoms might be.

There is a reason why so many men and women risked their lives and the lives of their families to flee Cuba. These weren’t the rich under Batista. No, many of those who tried to cross to the US in leaky boats or rafts were poor to middle class. They wanted a better life for themselves and their families. They wanted a life where there weren’t government paid informants on every street, those given money and food and more to spy on their friends and family.

Was Castro worse than Batista? In many ways, yes. In others, probably not. But he was not a hero to be admired. He was a dictator. Damn it, all you have to do is look at the architecture and compare it to that of the Soviet Union. Look at how often you see images of Castro on the sides of buildings and statues erected of him. Now look at the US, at Great Britain or most any other country where there are elections and basic human freedoms like speech and assembly. Big difference, right?

It amazes me the number of people who are climbing onto the “Praise Castro” bandwagon, writers and entertainers who don’t understand that they would be silenced under his regime unless they wrote was was approved by the state. Grow the fuck up, folks. Look beyond the rhetoric to the reality. I have a feeling if you do, you won’t like what you see.

Double-standard?

I really didn’t want to do a political post. I’m tired of politics and have been for some time. I am not a fan of the President-elect. Nor was I a fan of Mrs. Clinton. I felt both of them had so much baggage they wouldn’t be able to get off the election train and find their way to the White House without another scandal of some sort occurring. But, whether I like it or not, Donald Trump is our President-elect. I might not like him but I do respect the Office of the President. I also expect the representatives and senators elected from my area to do their jobs and try to protect that which is important to our districts/states. We elected a president and not an emperor, despite what the MSM might have us believe.

And that isn’t the point of my post today. What is happens to be the double-standard I see being applied by the pundits and Hollywood/Broadway stars (and I use that term loosely in some instances). Last night’s music awards — sorry, I don’t follow that particular awards show, so I don’t recall the name — had a skit where some “name” portrayed Mrs. Trump. Complete with bad accent, the so-called humorous skit had her talking about her husband, Barack Obama, and her children, Sasha and Malia. Oh, the howls of laughter and applause. Everyone loved how the new First Lady was made to look like a baffoon.

Where was the outrage? Here they were making fun of someone who immigrated to this country, who held down a job and who will soon become the First Lady of the United States. Where were the voices calling out the “star” for her prejudice in portraying Mrs. Trump as she did? I guarantee you, those same voices who applauded last night would have been howling in outrage had that been someone doing the same sort of skit but with Mrs. Obama as the “star”.

We see liberals screaming and crying that every person who did not vote for Mrs. Clinton is a prejudiced, mysoginistic ass — and that happens to be some of the nicest things they have been saying about us. It doesn’t matter why someone chose not to vote her. It doesn’t matter that we didn’t vote for Trump. All that matters is we did not vote the way they wanted us to.

Four and eight years ago, we were told to shut up and respect the Office of the President and to give President Obama a chance. Yet those same voices are already calling for President-elect Trump to be impeached. He hasn’t even taken office and they want him out. When those who were pleased Mrs. Clinton did not win the election say anything, they have been told that they need to shut up and let the Clinton supporters grieve because they are “scared”. Hell, college professors gave students unable to cope with the election results a pass on examines at places like Yale.  But did they show the same sort of respect when those who had not supported President Obama wanted to voice their disapproval or disappointment?

Hell no.

Then there are those who are actively trying to sway those who will cast votes in the electoral college. Why? Because Trump won more electoral college votes than did Clinton even though she won the popular vote. Guess what? That’s not the way it works. Besides, isn’t it just a little hypocritical to demand a change to the electoral college voting system when the party backing Clinton believes in super delegates. Remember, this is the same party that actively conspired to keep Bernie Sanders from winning the nomination.

Here’s the thing, folks. I don’t like Trump. I hope he surprises me — pleasantly so — once he takes the oath of office. But I’m not holding my breath. There are systems in place to deal with him if he fails as president. However, do not expect me or anyone else to sit back and smile and nod and pat your head when you have spent the last eight years condemning us for not supporting Obama in the elections. We took our lumps and now it is time for you to do the same.

Oh, and maybe you ought to look at why Mrs. Clinton lost the election. I guaran-damn-tee you, a lot of folks who voted Trump did so not because they agreed with him but because they felt Mrs. Clinton would be a worse choice. A lot of Trump voters would have voted 3rd party if the system wasn’t rigged against a successful 3rd party candidate. (Don’t believe me, ask yourself why most presidential debates never include 3rd party candidates. Or ask yourself why it is so difficult for them to get on so many state ballots.)

I’m not saying you have to agree with me or support Trump without question. Far from it, in fact. He and his Cabinet need to be watched and questioned and challenged whenever they step out of line — hell, before they do. However, if you want to be taken seriously, you need to apply the rules you demand we follow to yourselves. It really is a case of getting away from the “do as I say and not as I do” mentality.

For the next four years, I plan to closely follow what happens on Capitol Hill and in the White House. I have no qualms about contacting my senators and representatives to voice my opinion. I have no problem letting the White House know how I feel either. However, no matter what I feel about the man in the office, I will respect the Office of the President. After all, the most the man can be there is eight years. That is the joy of our system.

Snip, clip and pic

Apologies for the silence this past week but I’ve been up to my eyes in remodeling chores around the house. There has been patching of walls — especially the one place in the hallway that BratCat decided was his place to try to dig through the drywall. The only thing was, this spot was about 3 1/2 feet off the ground. So, he would jump, claw and rip. At least he has left the patch alone. — painting, cleaning and final touch up. There has been furniture shopping and carpet cleaning. The result is a new office for me (still in the final fix-up phase but at least workable) and a remodeled bedroom for my son when he comes home as well as other guests. Oh, and a very sore and tired body.

The downside of all this has been little writing, relatively speaking, has been happening. I can still make my NaNo goals but it means picking up the pace some. Unfortunately, today is going to be a lost cause between workmen coming to the house, a lunch date and then a meeting tonight. So, while I have a few minutes today, I’m going to try to blog and get some writing done.

But, to give you an idea of what I’ve been up to, here is a picture of part of the study. The bookcase runs from the floor to almost the ceiling, with books and a few other things on top, basically making floor-to-ceiling. I spent the better part of two days going through the books in it, clearing out those that could be donated, setting aside those to be checked before determining what to do with and moving some of my books from various nooks and crannies around the house.

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The chair in the bottom left hand corner will be going away eventually, when my old lady cat lets me take it out. That’s why there’s a towel in it. She likes to sleep there — after doing a lot of kneading. The ancient TV, kept for older gaming systems and the built-in DVD player, is sitting atop a circa 1940 RCA Victor radio. The radio was rescued from a closet in my grandmother’s house more years ago than I want to admit. A guy I dated for awhile restored the radio to working order and it is something I treasure. Here is a shot of it. Sorry for the glare. I have window film on order to cut that out.

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Here is a quick snippet from the rough draft of Dagger of Elanna. No, I’m not posting this in order. Nor am I going to give context. Why? Because I’m evil. VBEG

***

Cait stood before the fireplace and stared into the flames of the fire someone had built up before she arrived. If asked, she would have been hard pressed to name another time when she had felt so cold. She never should have taught all her classes without the proper outerwear, especially when rain and sleet mixed with the snow. But after doing so with the yeomen the day before and then taking the journeymen on a run that morning, she had little choice. She refused to be the instructor the students believed had favorites. Besides, she had taught them an important lesson. At least she hoped she had. The sooner they understood conditions would rarely be optimal when they were forced to take up their blade to defend themselves or someone else, the more prepared they would be for trouble should it find her.

For the most part, her students had quickly accepted the lesson. A few, like Isabella, had actually taken to the lesson. Then there was Ciaran. She sighed and hugged the quilt she had thrown across her shoulders close. The day’s classes had left her with a great deal to consider, where Ciaran was concerned. After the day’s lesson, and especially after the way he had taken that cheap shot at Yasmin, Cait wondered if he would ever accept the fact his father’s position in the Imperium had nothing to do with his role in the Order.

Had she and Jerrod added to the problem where Ciaran was concerned by having her teach that particular journeymen’s class? Yes, she was newly Confirmed into the Order but she was something very different from those who had been Confirmed with her. That was something she still had a hard time accepting. Why had the Lord and Lady chosen her the way They had? She looked at her markings and shook her head. She could not deny she had been blessed by the gods but that blessing set her apart, no matter what her friends and mentors said.

Perhaps it would be best to ask Jerrod to assign Kala or one of the other knights to teach that particular journeymen’s class. Let Ciaran finally see his father’s position meant nothing to them and it most certainly did not accord Ciaran a senior member of the Order as his instructor.

A knock interrupted her thoughts. Before she could call out, the door opened and Berral stepped inside. Cait grinned ruefully as the Adept moved quickly to place a tray on the low table in front of the fireplace. The enticing aromas of hot soup, fresh bread and roasted vegetables filled the room. Cait took a step toward the table and then stopped as Berral shook her head.

“You are going to catch your death if you keep teaching without wearing your winter gear, child.” The Adept reached out and lightly touched Cait’s forehead. “And you are still chilled. Go bathe. Your food will stay warm while you do.”

Not giving her a chance to protest, Berral escorted her through the sleeping room to the bathing room. Like a mother with a recalcitrant child, the Adept simply motioned for Cait to begin undressing. As she did, Berral drew her bath, carefully adjusting the knobs and water from the hot springs under the Citadel soon filled the room with steam. When she slid into the hot water, Cait signed in relief.

“So, why did you feel it necessary to do without your winter gear today, child? You promised you would not do so again unless absolutely necessary.” Concern filled the Adept’s voice.

Cait slid further into the tub until only her face was above the water. “I hadn’t planned on it, Berral. Unfortunately, it became necessary.” She lay there, letting the heat from the water seep into her, warming her, and explained. “Ciaran continues to be a problem. His attitude is bad enough but today, after Kala called an end to an exercise – one in which Yasmin proved his greater size is not all he needs to win a fight – he struck Yasmin. He knew the exercise had ended and Yasmin had moved away, dropping her guard. He took advantage of her trust in us to try to harm her.” Anger laced her voice as memories of how Avrim had done even worse to her pushed against her.

“Is she all right?”

“She is and Ciaran is lucky their classmates did not get hold of him. It won’t surprise me to learn they have figured out a way to teach him how foolish he was.” She doubted they would harm him, but they would get the message across. Whether he heeded it was something entirely different. “Berral, he has been here long enough to understand his father’s status in the Imperium does not entitle him to special privileges or treatment. Yet he continues to try to use that status to his benefit.”

The older woman nodded, her expression serious. “Do you have any suggestions on how to deal with him?”

“I thought to speak with Jerrod about assigning someone else to teach the class. The others understand that, though I am the Knight-Cleric, I am also one of the newest Confirmed members of the Order. All Ciaran sees is that the third highest ranking of the Order is teaching the class. He sees it as reinforcement of his status.”

For a moment, Berral said nothing. Then she shook her head and smiled ruefully. “None of us thought about that possibility when we determined your teaching schedule. But it does explain why you taught your classes outside and without wearing your winter gear.”

“In a way it does.” She sat up and reached for the washcloth hanging over the edge of the tub. “I had the yeomen’s class work without winter gear yesterday. After Ciaran’s missteps today, I felt it necessary to make a point with his class. Once I had, I thought it best not to appear to have a favorite class by having them all work outside and that meant I had to make the same points with them I had with the morning’s journeymen’s class.”

“I wish I could say I did not understand and certainly did not approve, but I do both. However, you must promise not to do this again, not for a while at least. We cannot afford to have you make yourself ill.”

“I have no intention of doing so, Berral. I promise.”

“I’ll leave you to finish bathing. Your dinner will be ready when you are done.” The Adept walked gracefully to the door and then turned and smiled. “I will send word to both Jarrod and Alicia that we need to meet over breakfast come morning. They may have an idea or two the best way to deal with Ciaran.” With that, she left the bathing room, closing the door behind her.

Cait smiled slightly and once more lowered herself into the warm water. For the first time in hours, she did not feel so cold she would have sworn her bones might shatter if someone bumped into her.

***

Dagger of Elanna is the second book in the Sword of the Gods series. It will be available for pre-order in the next week to ten days. Release date will be shortly after that. The first book of the series, Sword of Arelion is currently available as e-book and in print.

War is coming. The peace and security of the Ardean Imperium is threatened from within and without. The members of the Order of Arelion are sworn to protect the Imperium and enforce the Codes. But the enemy operates in the shadows, corrupting where it can and killing when that fails.

Fallon Mevarel, knight of the Order of Arelion, carried information vital to prevent civil war from breaking out. Cait was nothing, or so she had been told. She was property, to be used and abused until her owner tired of her. What neither Cait nor Fallon knew was that the gods had plans for her, plans that required Fallon to delay his mission.

Plans within plans, plots put in motion long ago, all converge on Cait. She may be destined for greatness, but only if she can stay alive long enough.

Dishonored 2 – Initial Impressions

I am a gamer. It is one way for me to blow off steam and to escape from the muse when she won’t leave me alone. One of the games I purchased based on a recommendation from my son was the original Dishonored. It took me a while to get into the game. Stealth games aren’t ones I usually do. I’m more of a kick down doors and shoot/stab everything in sight. But, once I finally sat down and got into the game, I found it to be every bit as great as my son had said. Since then I have replayed it several times, looking at the differences between the high chaos and low chaos gameplay/plot.

So, when Dishonored 2 Limited Edition – PlayStation 4 became available for pre-order, I didn’t hesitate. I placed my order and began to anxiously await the release date. That date is officially today but, because of the pre-order, I received my copy of the game yesterday.

Now, I ordered the physical copy instead of the digital download. Even so, as with so many games these days, there was still a huge download that had to be done before the game was playable. As I waited for the download to finish, I did a little research to see what the initial reactions to the game happened to be. (Note, even though the link above is for the PS4 version, I have the PC version.) What I found was that there were a number of PC users who were having problems with the game. Worried, I checked my stats against the minimum requirements and breathed a sigh of relief. Until others started saying they had rigs similar to mine but who were having problems with things like slow cursor movement, frame rate slowing to a crawl, etc.

But I wouldn’t panic. I kept reminding myself that this rig is less than a year old and has no problem playing any of my other games. Still, once the download was done and as I started the new game, I worried. I’ll even admit to holding my breath. Which might not have been a good thing since the load screen is longer than I anticipated. VBEG

From the beginning, it became clear that the devs wanted to make Dishonored 2 a good game. There is a tutorial with Corvo and Emily to reacquaint you with basic movement and combat controls. You can skip it if you want but I recommend you go through it because there are a few minor changes. Then you get into the story. I’m going to try to be spoiler-free, so I won’t comment too much on the story. I will say this, if you have not played the Doud DLCs for Dishonored, do so.

Also, it doesn’t matter which way you played Dishonored. Unlike Mass Effect, where you choices had an impact on the following games — except when it came to the end of ME3 — the devs and writers for Dishonored 2 have devised their own canon which appears to basically follow the low chaos version of the game. (At least, that is how is seems so far.)

For this first playthrough, I am playing as Emily. I am also trying to go low chaos — of course, that is hard to do in the first chapter, before she gets her powers. Besides, I can’t help being a bit pissed off for her. So if I killed a few of the bad guys, I felt they deserved it. (Okay, I’m a bloodthirsty bitch.)

I will admit that I’m having a hard time adjusting to the new voice actor for the Outsider. There was something sinister about the original Outsider’s voice that is missing in the new one. However, it isn’t more than a little distracting. I’m sure that by the time I’m further into the game, I’ll have adjusted to it.

The heart makes a return this time as well. It still helps you find bone charms, etc., and it still gives insight into your surroundings. But there is a twist where it is concerned. One that can be a bit creepy if you let yourself think about it, especially if you are playing as Emily. I won’t say anything more — yet.

As for having problems with the game on the tech side, I haven’t. At least not yet. Frame rate seems to be running steady. I will say, if your rig is at the low end of the recommended stats, you will need to do some tinkering with your settings. The game can be a resource hog. But it is well worth it. The visuals are stunning. The story, at least so far, is interesting and I can’t wait to finish the work day so I can get back to it.

I will say to take you time, even in the first chapter when you are doing your best to avoid the bad guys. Explore the area. As with the original game, there are multiple routes you can take to get to your destination. But, if you take the time to look around, to go into buildings, etc., you will get a more complete gaming experience and more of the holes in the backstory will be filled quicker.

Over all, after playing the game for a couple of hours, it is everything I had hoped for a more. I have to give it to Bethesda and Arkane Studios for not dropping the ball. Of course, they may do just that later in the game but I am more than optimistically hopeful that they haven’t.

One word of warning. If part of your pre-order includes the free soundtrack download from Amazon, there is apparently a problem on Amazon’s end. The email you should receive says to refer to the download code — except there is none. Some folks tried downloading it and wound up being charged. Amazon is aware of the problem and working to fix it. For those who were charged, they are refunding the payment and giving them the appropriate download code. I’m going to wait a couple of days and see if they have the problem fixed. I recommend everyone else do the same.

Now, time to get to work so I can get back to gaming sooner, rather than later.

Is it Monday again?

There will be a “real” post later. I am just now sitting down with my second cup of coffee, which means I am not adequately awake yet. This even though I have been up for a couple of hours. The problem is the sight that greeted me when I looked out the front window once the sun came up. Water was running down the driveway and it wasn’t raining and the sprinkler system wasn’t running. So, I pulled on some clothes, found shoes and grabbed what I need to turn off the water to the system and then dig the area where I think the leak is. Now comes waiting for the area to dry out some so I can do more checking before deciding what sort of repairs need to be done. This is NOT how I like to start the day.

One more thing, what is it with the female political commentators all saying basically the same thing: Melania Trump is different from other First Ladies. She’s an immigrant and she was a model.

First, she isn’t the first First Lady to be an immigrant. John Quincy Adams’ wife was one as well. Second, what does it matter that she was a model? Finally, I find it the height of hypocrisy for women reporters who have been condemning the President-Elect for how he treats women to be profession-shaming his wife. And yes, when you note that she is different because she was a model (as opposed to an attorney or teacher or whatever), you are profession-shaming.

Morning dawns

and the world still spins on its axis. The election is over and there are a number of people, from both sides of the political spectrum, staring at their computer screens or TVs and wondering if they are still dreaming. For some it is a nightmare. For others it is vindication. For yet others, it is a sense of “is this real”?

Like so many last night, I stayed up, not quite until the end but well through the reporting of the results. At that point, Donald Trump was ahead in electoral votes but there were still a number of states left to report in, including California and some of the Rust Belt States, states so many of us thought would be solidly in Hillary Clinton’s hip pocket.

Perhaps we should have anticipated things not going how they were supposed to when PA went for Trump. Maybe we should have remembered the warning about the Silent Majority from so many years ago. Instead, many of us across the country and around the world bought into the MSM propaganda and believed Clinton would win, one way or another.

Earlier today, one of the political pundits was asked to explain how the polls had gotten it so wrong. He said he had looked at the over 100 polls taken in the last 10 days. Less than 10%, if I remember correctly, had forecast a Trump win. So how were they so wrong?

That part’s pretty easy to answer and it is something no one has yet addressed this morning. You have to look at who funded the polls, what questions were asked and who was polled. You also have to look at how many people were actually polled. We haven’t heard any of that. And, as a friend pointed out on Facebook, most pollsters miss the Millennials. Why? Because they call landlines and most folks under 40 have moved to cellphone only.

My mother, who is in her 80’s, pointed out something else when we were talking about the election. In Obama’s last term, those receiving Social Security have had several years without an increase in benefits and this year saw an increase of less than 0.5%. To add insult to injury, her payments for Medicare, supplemental insurance, drug costs, etc., have all gone up much more than that pittance of an increase.

Then there are those workers who have watched their jobs being sent overseas. Trump said what they wanted to hear. He promised to do all he could to keep jobs here and to punish companies who took manufacturing jobs out of the country and then imported their goods back in. When you have been out of work for a long time, that is a heady argument to vote for someone.

As I sit here writing this, I’m still in shock. I didn’t like either of the major candidates. I’ll admit I expected Clinton to win. Looking at the latest numbers, even if she had not already conceded, she cannot win the necessary number of electoral votes needed to become president. However, she might become the fifth candidate to win the popular vote but not win the presidency. The last time it happened was in 2000 when Bush defeated Gore.

There is a difference between the two elections, however. In 2000, Gore won more than 500,000 more popular votes than Bush did. The difference in electoral votes was five. Bush had 271 votes to Gore’s 266. There was talk then about needing to change the system but it went nowhere.

This time, the last electoral vote count I’ve seen has 276 votes to Clinton’s 218. That is a much wider margin and shows how Trump took key states, states that had been projected to be firmly in the Clinton camp. States like PA, WI and OH.

The 2016 election will go down in history for a number of reasons. I just hope Trump carries through with his vow last night/early this morning, to unite the country. But, for that to happen, he isn’t the only one who has to make the attempt. We all have to as well. We hold Trump, as President-Elect and later as President, accountable for his actions. We hold members of Congress accountable as well. But we have to hold ourselves accountable as well.

Yes, we have a responsibility too. Part of that is making our voices heard to our Congress critters. Let them know what we feel is important. We have to get off our high horses of entitlement. We have to give up our victimhood. We have to remember that this country works only when we work together. Cooperation, consultation, and calm heads are needed.

Most of all, calm heads.

At the risk of stepping on a few toes, God bless the United States and God help us.

Service Complaint

Saturday I made one of the treks I never look forward to. I ventured into the wilds of a couple of furniture stores in hunt of the elusive sofa and chairs for the living room. Those who know me best know I hate shopping. No, hate is too mild a word. Shopping is torture for me. If you want to punish me for something, insist I go with you to the mall, especially if it is during a major sale. Crowds, pushy salespeople, noise. I hate them all.

So it shouldn’t come as any surprise that the thought of having to go to furniture stores did not fill me with joy.

But I’d promised my mother I’d go and so I pulled up my big girl panties and off we went. I should have stayed home.

One of the nice things about living in the DFW area is there are a number of places we could choose from. Since I limited the number of places I’d go schlepping around in Saturday, we chose Weir’s in Southlake and Stacy’s in Grapevine. Both stores have large selections to choose from and we have successfully found what we’ve wanted in both of them before. Better yet, I knew we would have good customer service at both of them and that always eases some of my frustration.

Now, I’ll admit I didn’t dress up in my Sunday finest. However, I was in a pair of new black jeans and a black t-shirt advertising one of the local libraries. Mom, being Mom, was dressed a bit more formally than was I. Nothing out of the usual for a Saturday morning.

Or so I thought until we got to Weir’s. As expected, when we entered, a salesman entered and asked if he could help us. Mom explained what she was looking for and that’s when the salesman, I’ll call him John (not his name) looked at my t-shirt and commented on it. The front of the shirt, all he could see at the time, asks “What do you geek?”. The back has the library’s name on it. When I told John what library it was promoting, it was as if his entire attitude changed. Without asking what price point we were interested in, he immediately took us to the lower end. He waved at a mid-range sofa as if we wouldn’t be interested in it and then proceeded on to show us a sofa that cost less than the last chairs we bought did individually more than ten years ago. He locked in on that sofa for us and never varied. Needless to say, we left without buying a sofa, much less buying a sofa and two reading chairs like we planned.

And why? Because he made a judgment based on where a library I support was located. What frustrates me is I know I could have gone into the original Weir’s in Dallas, dressed in shorts, flipflops and wearing the same t-shirt and would have had the salesperson helping us asking not only what piece of furniture we were interested in but how much we wanted to spend, etc.

So, off we went to Stacy’s. Now, I’ll admit this isn’t my favorite store. Why? Because every time I’ve been in, I’ve had to all but beat the salespeople off with a stick. Not this time. Nope, not at all. There were maybe a dozen customers in the store. There were at least that many employees that I saw: some were obviously salespersons and others were checking the displays, dusting, etc. But, in the more than half an hour we were there, not once did anyone come up and ask if we were looking for anything special. Worse, we weren’t the only customers being ignored. With the exception of one customer, everyone was being left to wander around on their own and try to figure out if they saw anything they were interested in.

Now, normally that wouldn’t bother me as much as it did. Here’s the thing, when you are in the sales industry and you walk past a customer, you at least make eye contact and nod or greet them. One salesman walked by me twice, never making eye contact, never asking if we were finding what we needed, nothing. Two others sat at a sales desk, not only ignoring the eight (I counted them) customers in their area, but laughing and joking together. Another two — saleswomen this time — literally turned their backs and moved out of one of the showrooms when Mom and I, as well as two other potential customers walked in.

I guess I don’t have to tell you that I was not a happy camper.

The sad thing about both situations is we were ready to buy, if someone could have helped us find chairs we were interested in. We found a sofa. We needed chairs to go with it. Instead of making three sales — or more — Stacy’s made none that day. Perhaps it was an anomaly. Mom and one of her friends had been in that same store a month or so ago, this time during the work week, and they received the sort of customer care we had come to expect the previous times we’ve shopped there.

Instead of making commissions, the staff at Stacy’s will soon realize that corporate will be receiving an email detailing what did NOT happen while we were there Saturday. As for Weirs, at least the guy tried to help, even if he made a judgment call that cost him a commission. Next weekend, we’ll head into Dallas to the main store. I like it better anyway. But it will be a cold day in Hell before I return to Stacy’s, at least on a weekend.

Moral of the story: if you work in sales, it is your job to make contact with the customer and see if you can be of assistance. It is not the job of the customer to chase you down.

//end rant.

 

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