Category Archives: blog thing

The Return of Blaugust 2021

That time of year is upon us, the month of August, traditionally a slow time for many thing, video games included, when we get together to celebrate, focus on, and write about blogging.

It is time for Blaugust!

Once a bit of a hardcore event… the 2014 goal of the first Blaugust was to publish a blog post of some minimum length every day for a month… oh, and gaming blogs only… the whole thing has relaxed over the years (and sort of absorbed the Newbie Blogger event we used to have) to be more of a reflection and discussion of blogging, even for blogs that are not about video games.  It is a reminder that we have a community of bloggers.

The calendar for the event has been posted, which covers the suggested topic for each week of the event.  The topics are purely optional, but it is often interesting to see how multiple people approach each of them.

The 2021 Calendar

These days you don’t even have to have a blog to join in.  You can use the sign up form and designate yourself as a “supporter” and just come hang out on the Discord server if you like.

Which isn’t to say the event lacks any push to post.  It is still focused on blogging and promoting interaction between blogs and bloggers, and there are still badges to be earned for different levels of participation.  For 2021 they are:

  • Newbie Blogger Award – You did it! You created a new blog and we are extremely happy to welcome you into this raucous community. As a result we are going to recognize your efforts just for signing up
  • Bronze Award – You made at least 5 posts during the Month of August 2021
  • Silver Award – You made at least 15 posts during the Month of August 2021
  • Gold Award – You made at least 25 posts during the Month of August 2021
  • Rainbow Diamond Award – You did it, you posted 31 or more posts during the month of August 2021

So if you are an old school blogger, a new blogger, want to start a blog, or just want to talk about blogging, this is an event for you.  The range of participants generally runs from brand new bloggers to grizzled blogging veterans, all of whom seem to have opinions on blogging platforms, style, topics, and the trivia of the blogging process.

Belghast of Tales of the Aggronaut, who runs the who thing, has all the current details up in a blog post on his site, so go check it out and get ready for the coming of Blaugust 2021.

Pondering my Teenage Internet Spaceship Picture Blog

As some of you may recall, I actually have two active blogs. (And a few inactive ones.)  There is this one and EVE Online Pictures, both of which have been around and active for more than a decade.

The original banner for the blog back in 2008

In fact, EVE Online Pictures will hit the 13 year mark later on this month.  For some reason I thought it was today when I set out to write this… I probably mixed up May 2008 with May 8th or something… but we’re close enough for me to carry on.  And that is kind of a long time to run.  The site pre-dates DOTLAN EVE Maps by a couple months.

That blog started as an experiment in blogging, a tale I covered at the five year anniversary, and then kind of carried on for a while. Eventually it had been around long enough that it served as a vehicle to get me into the fansite program.  But the fansite program is gone, and I did not make the cut for the new program, so now it is just a place where I post some screen shots regularly.  That has led me to wonder if it is even worth the effort.

In favor of keeping it is the fact that it isn’t all that onerous of task to post three screen shots a week, my current posting tempo.  The most difficult aspect of that is just me being picky about what gets posted and trying not to post a bunch of the same thing in a row and keeping to a general philosophy of trying to find pictures of things that are cool of things or situations that maybe not everybody has seen.

The abundance of “fleet bridging off of a titan” shots is probably telling.  I have been doing that regularly for almost 10 years now and I still think it is a spectacle worth sharing.

Then again, there are more than a few screen shots of Jita 4-4, which is probably a location more people have seen than any other in the game, so clearly that philosophy might need some tuning.

Anyway, by merely lowering my standards a bit, and given all the screen shots I have taken over the years, I could probably keep posting pictures for the rest of my natural life even if I stopped playing the game today.

The downside of carrying on is that almost nobody visits the blog.

It was never as popular as this blog.  Even at its peak in late 2012 it was barely closing in on 200 page views a day, while this site was around 2,000, back during the last gasp of blogging being popular.   The peak day logged 959 page views, thanks to CCP linking to me in regards to an image they used.  This blog, for comparison, still passes that number regularly.

The peak times ended when the Google image search change came in.  Google was the source for most of the site’s traffic, though the top posts might indicate that perhaps I wasn’t always getting people who were looking for EVE Online related item.  The top five most popular posts are:

  1. B-R5RB Infographic
  2. Space Cockroach
  3. Sansha Battle Station
  4. Asteroid Mining Station
  5. The Maze Complex

Three of those five aren’t even screen shots I took.

Then, in January 2013, Google changed their image search model so that kept cached versions of images and would simply display a larger version of the image you clicked on rather than sending you to the hosting site, and traffic fell off rather sharply.

Traffic is now low enough… down to about 20 page views a day during slow months, which is a step or two down from even the slow times I recorded at the 10 year anniversary… that a single person scrolling down through pictures… infinite scroll for the win… can influence the page view count.  I had a month a while back where, looking at the stats, somebody scrolled back through every picture.  That was the month with the most page views for the whole year.

Traffic is low.  Comments are almost non-existant unless I mistake a Stratios for an Astero (which I have done twice).  The most feedback I get is over on Tumblr, where all my images get re-posted automatically, where a couple of people will like a post and occasionally somebody will re-post one to their own thread.

Does traffic matter?

I have said, for this blog, that I would keep on as I have done even as traffic has fallen off, and have pretty much kept to that.  The peak of this blog, when it comes to traffic and comments and whatever, was back in 2013 as well.  It has been mostly downhill since then.  Meanwhile, I have posted for more than 400 days in a row… WP.com keeps me abreast of my posting streak… and my word count per post has continued to rise.  It is almost as if more words means fewer page views!

However, what I write here is mostly for me or a few select individuals.  Everybody else is invited along for the ride, but only my attendance is mandatory to keep going.

With screen shots… not so much.  There are some images over there that are meaningful… but generally, those same images get used over here as well, often in a post describing the context that makes them meaningful.  As much as I love to inject screen shots into my posts… and I do that do excess because they often bring back the emotions of the moment… it is the words around them that set the context that matter more.

And then there is WP.com itself, which has made having a picture blog more annoying over time.  I did finally find a way to post a screen shot that let you click on it and see a bigger version with an option to see the full size version.  You have to use the new block editor… I hate it for actual writing, but for posting a screen shot I can deal with it… then remember to dig down and set the image link correct… which I forget to do about half the time… and then it sort of works.  Otherwise it won’t let you view the image in a larger for, or constricts it into a frame that is a big ad for “start a blog!”  I miss the old days when you could just click on an image and see the full size raw if you wanted, because most of these screen shots really should be viewed in a larger frame that the blog allows.  But, then again, as noted above, almost nobody even shows up at the blog and somebody actually clicking on an image to view it’s full size form is so rare as to be almost a once a year occurrence.

So I have hit a point of malaise when it comes to EVE Online Pictures.  Thirteen years is a long time to do anything consistently and I am starting to feel tired of doing it.  I have, on occasion, tried to make it more than a screen shot blog, posting the latest videos from CCP or noting events or updates.  But I really do that here for the most part, so I tended to slip back rather that be redundant.

If I could go back in time and give myself some blogging advice, right after suggesting that I find a better name for this blog, and just forgetting about that pizza blog idea, I’d tell myself just to make screen shots a regular feature here rather than devoting a whole blog to the idea.  Better to consolidate in one location.

Then again, I wonder if I would have been so diligent about categorizing screen shots by ship faction and tagging them all by hull type. (The Avatar titan is the most tagged hull on the site, appearing 121 of the approximately two thousand screen shots there.)

Getting back to where I started, having meandered down the page, I have been thinking about the future of that blog.  I get tired just thinking about it right now, but I wonder if I will regret it later if I stop.  I suspect that habit will carry me forward for a while longer, along with a war that is still giving me plenty of material.  But the war will end some day, though I might be tired enough of New Eden at that point that I’ll want a break from there as well.

Month in Review Reader Survey

As regular readers will know, on the last day of each month there is a Month in Review posts.  This came about pretty much by accident when I was looking for a post back at the end of September 2006 and it has carried on ever since.

The state of the blog – Sep 2006

(The Internet Archive has a version of the blog from November 2006 if you want to see the old format.)

That very first review post had entries about the site, the games I was playing (EVE Online, World of Warcraft, and Saga of Ryzom of all things), and what was coming.  From that humble post a series currently 175 long has sprung.

The categories have expanded and changed over the years.  Some things have gone… I no longer call out blogs that put me on their blog roll because nobody makes new blogs these days… and others have arrived, with game time tracking being the most recent.

The posts have also grown in size.  That first review was just 500 words.  These days the often go on for five times that length and link out to old posts in a manner that one might characterize as excessive.

In the end these posts have become something of an exercise in nostalgia for me.  The joy of having nearly 15 years of work to look back upon.  But I do wonder at times what others think of this monthly post, so today I have a poll.

The question is, which sections of the month in review you read or find interesting, if any.  If you skip it, just click the “none” option.  Otherwise, it is a multiple choice poll, so you can click all the boxes… though don’t do that, because one of the boxes is “none.”

For whatever reason the embedded poll feature won’t let me do a multiple select poll today, so I guess pick you favorite section.  My plans thwarted as usual.  The comments are there if you have a bone to pick about a particular section.

As usual, ad blockers or other security measures might keep the poll from appearing, but there should be a poll above this sentence.

Of course, this is also an opportune time to bring up something I ought to have in the monthly post, or ought to do away with.  I make no guarantees… these posts have evolved somewhat organically to reflect what I want them to be… but sometimes fresh insight can be instructive.

TAGN on Flipboard

I think I have mentioned Flipboard before.  It is a mobile app I used on my iPad for reading the real world news.

Flipboard

Back in 2011 my company was suddenly obsessed with making mobile apps… one of those things where a senior exec reads about a trend and decides to jump on board without any real plan… and we ended up with a bunch of seminars and training classes on the subject.  I have retained very little from that period, but in one seminar the speaker recommended Flipboard for reading the news on tablets.  I downloaded, liked it, and have used it ever since.

It is light and easy to use and I tend to sit and flip through it before bed most nights.

Most major periodicals have a feed there.  While it won’t let you skip past all paywalls… though it does get you past some… even when it doesn’t you can peruse headlines to see what is going on and compare how different outlets are approaching things.  I have a pile of varied outlets there, including key foreign publications like the BBC, DW, and The Globe and Mail, the latter being the place to go for all things ice hockey.  Canadians, eh?

You can also setup your own feeds in Flipboard through the app or, more easily for me, through their web site.  I did that some time ago with my other blog, but that feed broke a while back, so I went in to try to fix it.  I couldn’t do that, but I decided to setup another feed for this blog instead.

TAGN in with those other publications

So if you have Flipboard you can search on TAGN and find that feed.  It is pretty obvious.

And, from there, you can go through the headlines and tap on articles you want to read.

EVE Online heavy on this page

Of course, if you too have a blog, you can set up a feed of your own there.  It works off of an RSS feed, so was pretty simple to setup.

I would be interested to know if anybody ends up actually using Flipboard to read the blog… or can even find it there, since the status of my feed has been “pending” for a week… or if you setup a feed for your own blog there.

The Canadian Visitor

Warning: This is a Tales from the Blog sort of story and involves page view stats.  No video games are mentioned.

I like to watch the traffic stats for my blog, less because they are meaningful at any given moment… web stats are a polite lie most of the time… but because I like to see what brings people here and the patterns of interest.  As I have said in the past, even an flawed system of measurement, applied consistently, can reveal patterns that even an accurate single data point cannot show.

So when I noticed a big pop in page views a couple weeks back, I started looking at what might have caused it.  Running a WP.com hosted blog means that I do not get to see raw data, but I have a couple of avenues to check that can be lined up to indicate what was going on.

The first check is usually to see who is referring traffic.  Often a traffic spike is related to the site, or a specific post, being linked somewhere with some visibility.  Every so often, for example, somebody will link the Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID! post gets linked to one of the World of Warcraft sub-reddits and between a dozen and a couple hundred people will click on that link.

This is very easy to spot in the basic stats.  The referrer will be obvious and the post linked will have a bunch of page views which will push it to the top of the daily list.

This time there were no referrers that stood out and no particular post seemed to be getting traffic that could account for the jump in total page views.  In fact, referrer and post stats seemed very much within the recent norm, while page views were exploding.  The second day of this saw the site get just over five thousand page views but Google, always the default top referrer, had only sent me 350 viewers, and the top post of the day only had 30 page views.

Sometimes that means somebody went scrolling through the blog.  I have the theme set up for infinite scroll, so you can just press the page down or arrow key and scroll all the way back to September 2006 if you have the time and patience.

But when you do that, a page view gets counted for every ~20 posts and gets attached to the Home Page view stats.  The Home Page, somebody showing up at the base URL, always has the most page views on any given day because I don’t hide post content and make people click on titles to read a whole post.  I could do that, and I am sure my page views would go up, but I don’t like that on other blogs so I don’t do it here.  As I always say, be the blog you want to read.

And this might have explained all those page view.  The flag counter widget on the side bar did not show anywhere close to the number of page views that WP.com was showing me, which is consistent with somebody doing a long scroll, as the widget only gets loaded once when you do it.

That is one of my checks on the WP.com stats.

Also, the visitor count, WP.com’s attempt to track daily unique visitors, was very low relative to the page views.  The visitor count is very broken, more so than page views I would guess, since I can get referrals from seven different locations, which implies seven different people visiting, and WP.com will tell me I had two visitors so far.  Also, the Flag Counter widget would count a different number, maybe five, maybe seven, just to confuse the issue.  As I said, web stats are a polite lie.  But, again, if I ignore accuracy and look at trends, somebody doing the long scroll tends to widen the gap between page views and visitors.

However, the Home Page only showed about 400 views, leaving a few thousand page views unaccounted for.  So nobody did the long scroll.

Then I noticed that Canada seemed to be way over represented in the demographic stats.  Again, specific count is probably garbage, but trends are likely reflective of reality, and the usual daily trend tends to look something like this.

Typical top five distribution

Those countries tend to be in the top five in that order every single day.  That is the same order displayed in my annual blog wrap up, the fourteenth of which I posted back in September.

On the peak day, however, the country list looked like this.

The big day

Germany was a bit down that day… they tend to trend up with EVE Online posts… while Canada was through the roof.

But where was all that traffic going.  There was no referrer sending me that much traffic, there was no single page that seemed to be receiving it, and the visitor count indicated that it wasn’t a bunch of people in any case.

So I drilled down in the WP.com stats.  It will show you all the pages that got traffic on a given day, with a page view count.  And there I noticed that after the usual fifty or so on a given day that get multiple page views, there was a long, long list of pages that got exactly one page view.  Hundreds and hundreds of pages with a single page view.

At that point I think I figured it out.  This person, from Canada, started with one post, probably the latest one, and began viewing the all one at a time.  At the bottom of each post there are links that let you view the next and previous posts in the chronological order of their appearance.

I think this person sat there and clicked through, page by page, each post using those links.  That explains all the page views, the low user count, the lack of referrals, and the fact that no single page, not even the Home Page, saw a spike in traffic.

And the flag counter widget?  I thought that it would reload with each new page and count a page view there.  But when I tried it myself on my phone, it seemed to ignore the count of views if I went post to post that way.  But it is much more interested in unique visitors than page views.

So this whole post adds up to the fact that one person, from Canada, appears to have paged through nearly every singe post on the site, one at time, over the course of two days.  The page views did not come in a single burst, but took time to accumulate over those two days.

Or, alternatively, somebody in Canada ran a script that scraped all the content from the blog one page at a time.  So if you see another site that features a lot of familiar content, let me know.  I’d like to see where I am being backed up!

Condition Report for the Fourteenth Interval

Conditions were superior during that interval

-Corr, speaking of some past period of time

It is that time again.  Another blog anniversary has rolled around.  I have now been doing this for fourteen years.

WordPress.com says hi

Fourteen seems like a long time.  It is about a quarter of my life at this point.  But, then again, beyond a certain age you find a lot of things that have hung around for significant fractions of your life.  I’ve been driving my current car for 17 years, I’ve been married for 21 years, I have shirts in my closet that still fit that pre-date the blog even.  And don’t get me started on the little things that collect around the house, items that do not have any real value but which I hang on to for whatever reason, like the front license plate to my first car, which was towed off to the junk yard back in 1986.

So, in a way, fourteen years doesn’t seem like all that long ago.  Also, the number fourteen doesn’t strike me with much in the way of inspiration.  Sure, it is the sum of two prime numbers and the age I was when I started high school.  I’ve also had a job pretty much continuously since I was 14.  But nothing really struck me for a post title besides Wilson’s fourteen points.  Me and history.

I’m also a bit lost for a graphic representing that number.  Thirteen had the whole bad luck superstition around it, and fifteen at least has a Taylor Swift song going for it, but fourteen… I suppose there is a state highway 14.  Whatever.

California State Highway 14

Past efforts, with better titles, if you are interested.

Like so many things on this site, there is now a set pattern of items I share annually, so we might as well get on with it.

Base Statistics

The same thing every year, looking at how the various needled moved over the last dozen months.

Days since launch: 5,114 (+366)
Posts total: 5,609 (+394)
Total Words: 4,378,757 (+411,478 words, not including this post)
Average words per post: 781 (+20)
Post Likes: 12,090 (+2,578)
Average posts per day: 1.097 (-0.01)
Comments: 33,780 (+1,329)
Average comments per post: 6.03 (-0.19)
Average comments per day: 6.61 (-0.23)
Spam comments: 1,482,548 (+18,381)
Average spam comments per day: 289.90 (-23.1)
Comment signal to noise ratio: 1 to 43.8 (-1.8)
Comments written by me: 6,857 or 20.3%
Images uploaded: 16,210 (+1,635)
Space used by images: 1.5 GB of my 3 GB allocation (49%)
Blog Followers: 1,888 (-40)
Twitter Followers: 775 (-1)
Tumblr Followers: 34 (+0)
US Presidents since launch: 3
British Monarchs since launch: 1
Prime Ministers of Italy since launch: 7

For some of you that will be enough stats.  Others will want to dive deeper, which you can do after the cut.

Continue reading

Promptapalooza and Writing a Blog Post

This Blaugust is Promptapalooza where we spend the month chasing a series of daily prompts… if we so desire.  I opted in, but only for the minimum effort, which meant writing about the prompt I had drawn on the day it was due.  Mission accomplished.

August means some sort of Blaugust

It isn’t that I am against any of the other prompts on the list, but I am not sure I really have anything to add.  But the prompt from  August 9th prompt, led by Paeroka over at Nerdy Bookahs, felt like something I could address in some way.  It just took me most of the month to get to it.

The pompt itself is:

Share the process you go through in order to create content, both mental and mechanical.

Which sounds a bit pretentious to me.  I am not a fan of the idea of “content creators” as it is both over broad if you interpret it literally and often extremely narrow in the vision of some.  A few weeks back somebody asked on Twitter for “EVE Online Content Creators” to speak up and be recognized.  The person really wanted Twitch streamers and people who make YouTube videos.  People who write stuff?  Not content creators to them.

So I am a fan of saying what you mean on that front.  I am a blogger.  I write a blog.  I do not “create content.”   How does one even define “content?”  How many units of content are created by a Twitch stream versus a YouTube video versus a blog post.  Some of my posts are remarkably content free, so will likely not spoil your diet if you’re trying to cut back on content.  You will not get your USDA recommended minimum amount of daily content by navigating to my URL.

In fact, I would argue that, 300 word in to this post I have created no content so far.  Maybe I should stop grousing and move on, eh?

So how do I write blog posts, which is how I am going to interpret the prompt?

First, there are three types of posts on my blog.  They are:

  • I did a thing
  • A thing happened
  • I have an opinion about a thing

The first is the meat and potatoes of this blog.  The instance group runs a dungeon, I write about it.  I am in a big fleet battle in EVE Online, I write about it.  I do something new in Minecraft, I write about it.

Easy.  I generally write about it as a story, a tale of how I or we started in situation A and ended up in situation Z.

The second is the structure that holds the blog together.  Weeks can go by where this is mostly what I post about.  There are lots of these, an you probably recognize some of the common ones.  EVE Online releases a update or the Monthly Economic Report.  SuperData sends me their digital revenue chart.  An MMORPG I am interested in announces, reveals, or actually launches an expansion.  An anniversary of some sort arrives again.  Something new and relevant to my interests launches.  The last day of the month arrives.  It is Memorial Day.

This is interrupt based blogging.  Stimulus, response.  These not only give a month structure… unsurprisingly, I am usually aware of when the last day of the month falls… but gives me filler to chew on when I haven’t done something I feel like writing about.

I have an opinion covers most everything else.  Quote of the Day posts are generally vehicles for an opinion.  Book reviews, movie reviews, posts about shows we have binge watched during the pandemic, those are all opinion pieces.  They are not stories and, while they can be timely, they are generally not as locked into a time slot as, say, an expansion launch or the end of the month.

As for the mechanics of how I write blog posts, I wish I had a process I could share.

I tend to sit down and just start writing.  If I am writing about something I did, I will generally at least go and look at any screen shots I may have taken along the way.  You will find some early blog posts about the instance group where I talk about taking notes, but that fell by the wayside for the most part.  At best I’ll jot a sentence or two into a Notepad++ document, usually some small tidbit I want to remember.  Maybe I will write very simple timeline… we went here, A blew up, B said something funny, we went home… but that is about it.  Screen shots are usually my reminder.

And then I write the story.  I might revise it a bit, especially if I think about it over night, though that can be a mixed blessing.  If you see a horribly mis-matched sentence in the middle of a post, that is usually the result of my thinking about the post in the middle of the night, obsessing about some phrase, getting up in the morning and adding it in, and then not checking to see if it actually made a damn lick of sense.  There have times when I have tacked something on to the end of the sentence that mirrors a revision I put at the start of the sentence, but forgot about.

So it goes.

When I write about something that happened, those are the posts that involve the most research.  I go back and look at how the SuperData chart changed since the previous month.  I open up the .csv data files to get regional numbers to compare against past months.  When an expansion launches I try to mention the theme, how much new content is being added, and if it is a WoW expansion, how long it was since the last expansion with a list showing other expansions for comparison.

I take “a thing happened” and try to apply some context.  That is my value add, though the value may only be seen by me.

These posts not only give the blog structure, but also have structure themselves based on past posts, which also makes them easier to write.  My Month in Review posts follow a pretty strict format. Even ones that change up a bit, like patch notes, generally have a formula that lets me put things together quickly.  Practice and all that.

And then there are the opinion pieces.  Aside from Quote of the Day posts, which tend to be quick and spontaneous based on something that popped up, these are usually things I think about in the shower or while trying to get to sleep.

I can hear an objection out there.  Yes, these three post types are not mutually exclusive.  I have written, as an example, about an event the CCP launched for EVE Online, told the story of my own experience with that even, and given my opinion about said event, all in a single post.  Rare is the post that does not have an opinion, stated or implied.

But the posts generally are written for one reason, and the other two may or may not tag along.  So that EVE Online event post example would be “A thing happened” primarily.  But you can tell which is which by what the theme is based on; a story, some facts, an opinion.

Promptapalooza and a Quote of the Day

It is August, which means it should be Blaugust, but since we effectively did that in April (which was Blapril), Belghast decided, based on some feedback, that encouraging people to post every day for another month might be too taxing on some.  So, instead, we have Promptapalooza, where each of the participants gets a writing prompt to drive a post.

August means some sort of Blaugust

Yesterday was Everwake’s turn, which involved rituals.  You should go and take a look. Today it is my turn, and my prompt is:

  • What is a favorite Quote/s, and tell us why

This seems like a bespoke prompt for me as somebody who has a blog category devoted to quotes.  (Reminder: If you click on that link, you need to scroll down as this post will appear first, being the latest post about quotes.)

And I certainly have a lot of quotes to choose from, ranging from some Smed classics (there is a whole Smed tag to look at) to Chris Roberts and optimism of developers to Derek Smart and his own influence to some Gevlon staples to perennial developer complaints and F2P discussions and prescient quotes about the genre so on.  Lots of things to work with.

But I am going to go with a quote that I have used before but has never quite made it to the Quote of the Day status.

Being an elf doesn’t make you turn off the rational economic calculator part of your brain.

Edward Castronova

Dr. Castronova is known in our circles for his study of virtual worlds… though “synthetic worlds” seems to be the vogue term at the moment… and their economies, often covered by his posts at Terra Nova and on his own blog, both of which has been pretty quiet for some time now.  He has written a lot of interesting, thought provoking, and occasionally wildly optimistic things about video games over the years, but I like this one the best.

I like it best because it explains a lot of player behavior.

We will tend to do things in order to maximize our progress, however we choose to measure it. There are always exceptions, but that tends to be the way of things.  We will work towards the things we are focused on and do the things that reward us in the ways that we most desire.  Currency, kill board stats, battleground achievements, levels, whatever is our prime motivator, that is where we put our efforts, and we will focus on this things that most optimize the best results for us.

Why do the immortal god-like capsuleers of New Eden shoot NPCs in anomalies?  It is the easiest way to earn ISK, which is the foundation needed for other activities.  Why did we rush off to do battle grounds in Warhammer Online?  That was the fastest way to level up to get into the “good” content, the city raids and such.

The problem is that we live in this world and not the world of our games, and are driven by the desires and needs and goal we have here and not by what our character, elf, orc, capsuleer, or otherwise, might find as their own motivation if we were able to give them life and consciousness.

So it goes.

Next on the list for Promptapalooze is Stignite at The Friendly Necromancer.  Go visit their site tomorrow to see which prompt they got for the event.

Others taking a crack at this prompt:

Blaugust Promptapalooza Arrives

August is here, which usually brings with it the Blaugust festival of blogging event.

However, as I mentioned at the tail end of yesterday’s post, we already did Blaugust back in April… Blapril… because everybody was home, pandemic, free time, blah blah blah.  And not everybody is up to doing an event like that two times a year.  So, instead, we will be having the Blaugust Promptapalooza.

August means some sort of Blaugust

The plan, which is laid out in detail by Belghast, is to have a chain of posts, each connecting back to the previous blog that posted and linking out to the next one on the list.  A set of writing prompts were handed out to those who raised their hand over on the Blaugust Discord, but those were optional.  If you didn’t like what you were issued, you could go with something else.  And, if you saw one you liked you could jump right in and write about it as well.  The prompt list is linked from Belghast’s post.

I happened to get one that fit in with me, so ran with it.  I’ve already written it and it will hit later this week.

The list of blogs currently participating, and the dates of their posts are:

You can see me tucked in there on the 5th of the month.

So look for this coming to a blog near you in August.

Have You Ever Question Time

There was a quiz over at Contains Moderate Peril, which was grabbed from Ace Asunder, where it had been borrowed from RNG, who got it originally from Vamp It Up Manchester, which probably makes it more of a UK thing, but it had a few questions I though might lead to amusing anecdotes about which to write, so I figured I would swipe it next.

Now that we have established the lineage of the quiz, let’s jump straight into the questions.

Driven or been driven at 100 mph/160 kmh?

Yes.  While the speed limits on US highways top out at about 70 MPH most places, there are plenty of long runs of road where you can get up to speed.  Also, cars tend to have the most ridiculously optimistic speedometers.  My Toyota speedometer measures out to 160 MPH, a speed it could only attain if you pushed it out of an airplane.

I think the first time I hit that speed was shortly after I got my drivers license.  My grandmother would let me use her car, a 1970 Buick Electra 225 with the 455 CID engine. (7.5L for those who measure in that way.)  It was a mighty motor, with more torque than a sane man ever needs, and I once laid a 70 foot long patch of smoking rubber on the pavement in front of a friends house.

It looked something like this… image borrowed from the internet

One evening I got onto highway 85 and nobody was on the road, so I decided to see if I could peg the speedometer, because I was a 16 year old boy in command of two tons of iron with a powerful engine.  I was well past 100 MPH by the time I passed Fremont Blvd and let off the gas to let it wind down so I could take the exit to highway 280 and fill up the gas tank.  I think I blew through almost a quarter tank getting that brick up to speed.  Gas was $1.29 a gallon at the time, which seemed expensive at the time.

Learned a possibly deadly skill?

I spent summers on my grandparents farm where I learned several skills that might fall into that category, the most obvious being how to handle and shoot firearms.  It is just a thing in the country.  At eight years old I was judged worthy of being sat with a bolt action .22 rifle and a baby food jar full of bird shot to pick off the starlings that would peck at the figs on the big tree my grandfather had planted.  I was paid 25 cents a head.  I also learned how to handle poison gas bombs for the ground squirrels and traps and a few other things.  I was, however, not allowed to get within six feet of the table saw in the barn because that was dangerous.

Ridden in a helicopter? Gone zip lining? Been Bungie Jumping?

I am going to lump these three together because they are all negative answers.

Been to an NFL game or Ice Hockey?

I have lived within reasonable driving distance of two NFL teams, the San Francisco 49ers and the Oakland Raiders, all of my life and I have never been to an NFL game. (The Raiders are leaving for Las Vegas though, so my opportunities will soon be reduced by 50%.)  NFL teams only play 8 home games a year, the stadiums are huge and crowded, the tickets are expensive, and I am not a fan.

I have been to many NHL games.  We have a professional team in San Jose, the Sharks, though I even went to a California Seals game back in the day.  I have also been to major league baseball, NBA basketball, and MLS soccer games as we have teams in the SF Bay Area close by.  Just never an NFL game.

Watched Dr Who?

PBS during my childhood seemed to entirely consist of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, Sesame Street, nature documentaries, pledge drives, and television from the UK, including  Doctor Who.  I watched a lot of Tom Baker episodes and some of the Peter Davidson episodes.  If you ask me who my doctor is, the answer will always be Tom Baker.  If Gandalf were a time lord, he would be the Tom Baker version of the doctor.

Been to Canada?

I’ve been close enough to see Canada, but I have never actually been into Canada.  I’ve been to Minnesota, and that’s about the same, right?

Visited Disney?

Disneyland is an hour flight away.  You can hardly avoid it.  I have been a bunch of times, twice for company events where we left in the morning, flew down for the day, and got back home that nights.  I am also just old enough to have gone as a kid when they still had tickets, so saw the “E Ticket” of legend. That said, I am not a big fan and it is hugely expensive these days.  My daughter complains that we never go, but she has been to Hawaii more times than most people ever will.

I have also been to Disney World in Florida once and on a Disney cruise.  That mouse is everywhere.

Visited an actual castle?

That depends on what you call a castle I suppose.  I’ve been on forts and fortifications and in a palace or two.  But not a medieval castle, that being what I imagine the question is getting at, as that wasn’t really a thing where I live.  I did find an arrow head once though.

Visited Vegas?

Vegas is a 90 minute flight away and the location where many conventions and events take place.  I have been many times. (I’ve posted here about going to EVE Vegas at least five times.)  It is bright and shiny and colorful with some good places to eat.  But if you don’t really drink or gamble it can lose its edge pretty fast.  Also, the dirty, seedy underbelly of the whole thing is pretty visible if you start looking for it.  I enjoy the first day I go and am generally ready to leave by the end of the second.

The hardest thing for me about Vegas is that they allow smoking everywhere.  I’m from California where smoking in public is only allowed in very specific pariah zones.

Eaten alone at a restaurant?

I am not sure why this is even a question.  Yes.  Many times.  I see people do it all the time, though I am not one of those people who sets up a nest with a good book in a corner booth, but if I was alone and needed to eat I wouldn’t think twice about eating alone in a restaurant.  This must be one of those English things where they are always looking for something else about which to feel embarrassed.

Played an instrument?

I took trumpet lessons in school in 4th grade.  I wasn’t any good and didn’t have any passion for it.  I am pretty sure I just wanted to get out of class for an hour one day a week.

Ridden a motorcycle?

Yes, in the form of a dirt bike out on the farm mentioned above.  It was fun then, but I have no desire to ride one now.  I’ve seen what happens when cars and motorcycles collide.  If there was a question about seeing a dead body, my answer would involve a motorcycle accident I witnessed.

Ridden a horse?

Again, on the farm.  My grandparents didn’t have horses, but the neighboring farm did, so I got to ride a bit back then.  It wasn’t a big deal to me.  A dirt bike is more exciting to a young male I suppose.

Been skiing/snowboarding?

I have been skiing.  My stepmother liked to ski and so we went once or twice a year when I was a kid.  It was a very yuppie sport, expensive and inconvenient, and while I enjoyed it some at the time, when it came to the point that I had to pay in order to participate I stopped completely.

Gone to a festival?

Yes.  Maybe.  I am divining what these means from context, which is a multi-day musical event.  But I’ve only gone for one of the days, so does that count?

Driven a stick shift?

My first three cars were manual transmission.  By the time I got to the fourth car I was commuting daily across the valley in stop and go traffic and got tired of “rowing the boat” constantly, so went for automatic transmissions after that.  But hell, even F1 cars have paddle shifters now, which is something you add to an automatic transmission.

Ridden in a police car?

I have been frisked up against a police car, but never invited inside.  I have ridden in a fire engine though.  When the SFFD took over administration of Treasure Island in SF Bay and friend of my aunt’s drove us around the island in one of the fire trucks.  It was loud, even without the siren going.

Driven a boat?

A few times.  No particular stories to go with this though.  We live near the ocean and a huge bay and a freshwater delta and a series of lakes and reservoirs, so the opportunities are at hand.  Going water skiing in the delta was a thing when I was a kid.

Eaten Escargot?

No.  I poison snails I see, but don’t see the need to consume them.  I have plenty of more palatable food at hand.

Been on a cruise?

My step-mother again, she loves cruises and goes on a few a year.  Her and my father have brought the whole family along a few times.  As a floating hotel that brings you to the next destination while you sleep they are fine I suppose.  The food aspect is overrated to my mind.

The best cruise was probably on the Freedom of the Seas, which was the largest cruise ship in the world when we went.  That ship had a lot of space and things to do.  I enjoyed just being at sea on that one.  The Disney cruise was good too, all the more so if you have kids.  The rest have been on Carnival ships, which are okay but not as much fun.  I’d go again, but I am not interested enough to plan it myself and I’d rather go sit on the beach in Hawaii or by the pool somewhere, it being cheaper, more relaxing, and less crowded.

Been on TV?

In a couple of crowd scenes on the news.  Nothing that would have had my presence noted.

Been in a paper/book/magazine?

I was quoted once in the local paper when asked some questions by a cub reporter who then printed what they felt I should have said rather than what I actually said, much to my annoyance.  The problem with the news is that every story I have been personally involved with has had significant material errors and the reporting team doesn’t really seem to care.  If the news has a bad reputation these days, it is in part their own fault.

Eaten Sushi?

I live in California.  You cannot drive two miles without passing a sushi place.  I am a peasant and like things like California Roll and the Shrimp Tempura Roll, but I’ll eat sashimi.  Raw fish, fine.  Snails, no.

Seen a UFO?

Literally, I have seen many things flying I couldn’t identify.  Flying saucers or space aliens from other planets however, no.

Rescued an animal?

Out on the farm, depending on how you want to count rescue.  There were a whole series of dogs who showed up in various states of repair, hung around for the summer, and disappeared of their own accord.  A few cats too.

Met someone rather famous?

I like the modifier “rather” in this question.  It is a very English affectation, like you might not be expect to have brushed up against real fame, just some lesser degree of it.

We occasionally talk about famous people at family events and I always find it amusing who focuses on what sort of fame.  It seems to be divided up between sports stars, musicians, movie and television stars, and then there I am talking about tech luminaries.  So when it is my turn I always bring up that I have met and conversed with Steve Wozniak a few times.  But if you need somebody in one of the other categories, I got to talk with Bob Weir of The Grateful Dead a few times as he was something of a Macintosh enthusiast back in the late 80s/early 90s.