Saturday, August 18, 2012

Things I Wish I Knew to Say...but Didn't Know How to Then

"I'm not comfortable with this."

"After the shit you've pulled, I have no desire to put up with your evil for the sake of your friendship."

"How do you know what I'm thinking? You don't. You're merely projecting what you're thinking into my mouth."

"How do you know I'm not sorry? Am I not groveling enough for you?"

"I think I should do this other major."

"Why would God give me high intelligence and a burning passion to learn about the world if he had no greater plans for me than for me neglect my passions and squirt out spawn for some hypothetical and possibly nonexistent male?"

"You know it's child abuse to lock your teenager in a closet for ten hours a day, right?"

"Can you go over that last bit one more time?"


"You failed to be there for me when I needed you. You automatically sided with the person who lied about me. And this other person you dislike so much? They were there for me. They knew me better than you, and I've known you for years. They helped me. You didn't. That hurt worse than the original liar did."


Actually, I probably still don't know how to say most of this.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Announcing My Other Blog

I should have done this a few days ago, but I've started another blog, Dominating Dominion, to chronicle my adventures of playing through each champion on League of Legends: Dominion. It has my writeup on Ahri over there, as well as several posts about my Akali experience. If you're interested, feel free to check it out and comment!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Dominating Dominion: Ahri Style

Disclaimer: What this series is about:

This series is a chronicle of one optimistically average Dominion player (me) as I play each champion through to a degree of proficiency on the Crystal Scar. It's not a guide to the harsh battlefields of high ELO play, but rather a tale of dark-alley skirmishes in the muddy playgrounds of what is (probably) low-to-middling ELO,  from the viewpoint of me.

Now that we have that out of the way...

Ahri is completely different from my normal roster of champs. While I have played every champ in co-op games, I have not done nearly as many in normal games. So yes, I probably wouldn't have selected Ahri in champ select if it wasn't for this series. Back before Dominion came out, I had the idea to write a similar series for Summoner's Rift when I was a mere level 23 summoner. I started with Alistar  and hashed out how to build and play him from the ground up. I found a really splendid starting build with two philostones. Then both Alistar and philostones got nerfed at the same time, which really derailed my attempts to play him. I moved on to Amumu, but didn't have the runes for jungling, and laning got me yelled at a lot. Plus, Summoner's Rift was really hard for me. The losing-forever games, the last-hit-or-starve requirement of farming, the counterintuitive not-pushing-the-lanes, the acidic teammates...

Then Dominion came out. I looked at the Crystal Scar, picked up my (and by my, I mean Yorick's) shovel, and headed over. I haven't gone back, except to visit. And, like some family visits, it's a good reminder why I don't stick around for very long.

So...yup. Ahri. She of the nine tails, dubious morality, and voice like slightly warm, suspicious syrup. And a squishy.

As of now, I tend to broadly categorize champions into two categories: Squishy and Not-Squishy.  I favor Not-Squishies, as any Squishies I play tend to suffer from the Imploding Healthbar Syndrome. You're waltzing around in bottom lane, tending to your own business, or sauntering through the jungle with your teammates, when suddenly the entire enemy team decides to pounce on your soft squishy fluffiness, and your healthbar disappears with a small clap of thunder.

So I approached Ahri with a bit of terror and suspicion. I wondered how many games I would have to lose before I stopped blowing up at every passing Jax.

Out of my first ten games with Ahri, I lost seven and won three. Skillshots are hard, m'kay? And Ahri is very squishable. I experimented with a variety of starting items, runes, and masteries. I read the champion guides for her on the DD forum, then, feeling a bit incomplete, optimistically and fruitlessly trawled the rest of the internet. I bravely questioned in the DominateDominion chatroom whether Hextech Sweeper should be a staple item. I run the risk of asking stupid questions because it cuts a lot of time out of the general process of discovery, as anyone who grew up shy and isolated and entered college with a stunning ignorance of modern culture doubtlessly knows. I finally settled on the following mastery and rune pages:

Item build and order was a bit more puzzling. There are items you can build, and then there's optimal builds, and then there's the enemy team. A general rule of thumb advised to me was to start with Prospector's Ring and Boots of Speed if going bottom, and to start with Ruby Crystal, Amplifying Tome, and Boots of Speed if going top. This idea worked splendidly, except for the bit where some other person would decide right after I bought items that they wanted whatever direction I had thought I was heading.

At least the Ruby Crystal + Amplifying Tome gave me a head start on Hextech Sweeper. I waffled (still do) on whether the head start granted by the Ruby Crystal + Amplifying Tome was worth not have the starting stats granted by Prospector's Ring.

I won 6 out of the following 10 games, as my ability to not liquify upon enemy contact and my aim with skillshots improved significantly. That seems to be the key to squishies: arrange to not be where the enemy is. That is common sense, but it's hard to remember. Also, skillshots when you're slowdancing with Fiora can be hard to aim correctly.

I finally settled on the following build for most situations:

I've also built the following items, depending on the situation:

Rylai's seems to be a very essential item. It turns Ahri from a darty damage dealer to a slowing darty damage dealer. It means that Ezrael can't get away as fast as he would like. Hextech Revolver is helpful for long-term away-from-home sustainability. Hextech Sweeper is...Hextech Sweeper. And it has an active! I did not know this until someone commented on me not using it while I was streaming.

Ahri in a Nutshell:

Ahri is a darty, bursty champ that, one you have a Rylai's, turns into the Queen of "you're not getting away." One a person gets the hang of positioning and skillshots, Ahri is quite fun to play. Some of my fondest memories are of blowing a kiss to a freshly ult'ed Tryndamere who suddenly forgets to spin away. But do you trust her? Nope!

Below is a video of some Ahri gameplay. Hope you enjoyed my experience learning Ahri!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Stuff That's Been Eating at Me: Why Not These Other Causes?

It was a hot summer day. I was holding a sign almost as big as I was, standing on the edge of a busy road, rather wishing I could be doing something else, such as not standing so close to a busy road and worrying about my toes getting run over (I have a perpetual fear of my toes getting run over, don't ask me why). There were many other people from our church there, all holding signs, but the only one I particularly remember is the one I had to hold. My sign, red letters on white background, read:


And, with all the honesty and straightforwardness that comes from being a child that hasn't learned what questions not to ask, I asked, "If these babies get to go to Heaven, then why are we stopping it? If they're being aborted, that means their parents aren't Christian, which means they won't know about Jesus when they grow up, which means they might die after reaching the 'age of accountability' but before they become Christians, which means they would go to hell. But if they're aborted now, they'll all go to Heaven, right? So why are we stopping it?"

And, like many questions I asked as a child, I was told I would understand when I was older.

So I became older (it seems to happen regularly if you don't do anything to stop it. Sadly, I've found the only way to stop it is to stop living). As I became older, I came back to the question. I read stories, and studies, and, somewhat surprisingly,  found myself on the side that says a person isn't allowed to use another person's body against their will. End story.

And now I'm going to explain why. Because for some people, they're going to stop at the thought "killing babies" and not at the thought, "using someone's body against their will." But let me ask: why are people who support forcing a person to donate their body to another person for nine months because of the life of the person being donated to, not also in support of things that improve people's lives or allow them to live at all, including the lives of the people that they support forcing other people to donate their bodies to?

I have some great ideas for improving the lives of people here, and none of them are nearly as invasive (although that may be a matter of opinion) as forcing a person to serve as a spawnhost for nine months to a stranger. If a person wants to be a spawnhost, that's one thing, and kudos to the people who want to be a spawnhost. However, to the people who would like to force anyone who might become a spawnhost to be one, I'd like to suggest some other causes for them to champion, since they would vastly improve the lives of the people they want born so badly.

Mandatory adoptions. According to Child Welfare Information Gateway there were over 400,000 children in foster care for 2010, 25% of which (according to the factsheet) (25% doesn't seem like a lot, does it?) were slated for adoption. That's 100,000 children waiting for adoption. We could just hand these people out to qualifying parents. After all, who doesn't want a surprise blessing dropped into their lap?

To be fair, we probably only want to give these children to people who can afford to take care of them (we're more discerning than Nature in that respect, or like to think that we are). Let's pull a number out of a hat and say we're only going to give these children to households which make over $50,000 a year. A bit of pawing around on the US Census site leads us to this document which (feel free to correct me if I'm wrong) indicates that there were 117,538,000 households  in the US, 58,578,000 which make over $50,000 a year. If we put all these households into a random lottery and pulled their names out as needed to give these children a home, well, the chance of one of these households getting a surprise child is only about 0.17%. The child gets a good home, the people in the household get a blessing to love and to cherish forever and ever, and the foster care system gets a 25% reduction in workload. Everyone wins, right? Who cares if the people in these households didn't want children (or another child), or are up to their eyeballs caring for a sick or elderly or infirm family member, or have to make that much money to pay off various college, medical, and other expenses. It's for the good of the children.

Did I mention that there's no government help other than what is normally available to the average person caring for their biological spawn after these new parents are graced with this blessing? We'll say that the adoption process itself is free, unlike the process of spawnhosting and birthing one's own biological child, which can run into the thousands of dollars even before the spawn hits the ground. So the adoptive parents are already ahead in that respect. But in the sense of true equality, we aren't going to screen whether or not these children have physical, psychological, or emotional issues, and since the household's income bracket likely places them out of reach of many government programs, they get to foot the cost of caring for their new blessing themselves.

But it's for the children, the lives of the children. If you truly cared about the children, you would not stop caring about their lives at birth, but beyond. You'd want them to grow up in homes where they get fed and properly educated, and you are selfish for disagreeing with the idea of mandatory adoptions. How could you be so self-centered? It's better to be in a stable, loving home, then bounced about from foster home to foster home, with never a place or a parent to call your own. If you didn't want a mandatory adoption forced on you, you shouldn't have made enough money to be in the position where your name got entered in the lottery. How dare you try to make a better life for yourself and the people already in your life without accepting the consequences!

But for those who think mandatory adoptions are too invasive (because they don't care about children, or whatever), let's look at mandatory organ donations. We live in a society that doesn't even require a parent to donate organs to their children, although I'm certain many of them do, or would if they could. If people are campaigning for a person to be forced to donate their body to their spawn for nine months, why not for life? That aside, why don't we have laws on the books that turn every dead body in the country into an organ donor? According to The Economist 7,000 Americans died in 2007 waiting for an organ transplant. According the US Census there is one person in the US dying every 14 seconds, or over 2.2 million a year. I'm fairly certain that out of those 2.2 million corpses we could have cobbled together enough spare parts to save those 7,000 people who needed an organ transplant of some kind. Some of those were probably children. So the new Mandatory-Organ-Donor-Initiative is for the children, too. And dead people don't even need their organs anymore.

Am I actually suggesting that Mandatory Adoptions and Organ Donations become the new thing now? Nope. For the same reason I don't approve of forced spawn hosting. It comes down to this personal liberty and life concept. If you don't want a child, for any reason, you shouldn't be forced to either spawn one or adopt one. If you want to keep your squishy bits when you die, your wishes should be respected.

I'm not going to dig into the rest of the reasons why we, as a country, as people, should object to forced spawn hosting. It should be enough that we don't allow one person to impose their will on another person's body. We shouldn't have to talk about why abortions happen, or what happens to a child who grows up knowing it's a "punishment" for it's parent having sex. We shouldn't have to talk about all the children growing up in poverty, or parents who are unable to stand the strain of parenting and opt for drowning all their kids in a bathtub. We shouldn't have to talk about the cruelty of forcing a parent to carry a wanted child to term when that child has a defect that will force it to live a short, painful life. We shouldn't have to talk about the parent who can't make ends meet with the children they already have. We shouldn't have to talk about the shaming inflicted on people who choose to keep or not keep a pregnancy. It should be enough that no one, irregardless of age, is allowed to use another person's body without their consent.

You want to help the world? You want to save kids? Help the ones that are here. Help the mothers that, in spite of incredible odds, or because of them, have them. Don't just hang up your sign at the end of the day and wallow in your righteousness. Don't go mumbling about "welfare queens" when you're the one who told them that they had to keep their children. And don't hate those that, for whatever reason, made the choice to not allow another person to use their body.

A person might say, "What if you were aborted?" Well, I wouldn't be here to care, obviously. But if my mom had been able to live a better life, without the insanity and mental disorders that plagued her, if she could have been a happy/good person by my absence, then why would I object? I would rather hope any kid who gave two cents about their parents would want them to make the best life for themselves.

 (All right, cousin, you kept nagging me to post on this blog, so this is what you get. Enjoy)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

State of the Waiting

I like knowing where I'm going.

I spent 6 years of my life pursuing a Bachelor's. Now I have one, and I hope my next step is getting a Ph.D. But that part isn't set at all. It's not determined at all yet that I will be doing that.

I've done my bit. I submitted applications to five schools. I've heard back from three, all negative. I should be hearing from the other two soon; otherwise they'll be getting an inquiry from me. But I don't know what I'll be doing in August. Will I be happily preparing to settle into being a graduate student and put off the real world for another four to six years, or will I be frantically trying to get gainfully employed and/or figure out how to get into a career?

I don't like these Schrodinger's cat-like times; I may be going to graduate school, or I may not, but until I hear from those last two schools, I won't know how that particular waveform of probability will collapse.

I don't like being in an indeterminate state. And now, there is nothing I can do but wait for it to collapse on it's own.

So I wait.

Monday, January 9, 2012

New Year's Resolutions...And Why I Don't Make Them

The New Year is supposedly a time for resolve to do X, Y or Z in the new year that you were too lazy or too busy or really just didn't want to do last year but think you ought to do. Usually this motivation fades away, and either three weeks into January or by the end of March it's back to eating Cheetos for breakfast and skipping the gym because, well, who really cares?

I haven't made a New Year's resolution in years because they seem to come pre-built with their own guilt trip. I save resolutions for the rest of the year in order to spread the guilt evenly. For example, I've made a determination to get up an hour earlier on workdays in order to write. I'm not really a morning person but I can determine that writing will not happen in the evening when I get home from work, because I'm going to want to relax and play games, and LOML will have dinner ready at different times, making having an evening schedule hard.

So far, it's been happening, although my body would still rather stay awake later (and usually does), so I've been getting less sleep than otherwise. I haven't determined to this all year, because with any luck I'll be getting into grad school this year and that in itself will necessitate a schedule change. It's difficult to know what a year might bring.

I'd like to lose weight, but I haven't made any changes besides trying to eat more healthy. I'd rather get up an hour early to write than to exercise. Plus I tend to get real sleepy after exercising and its hard to drink coffee while doing so.

So yea...New Year's resolutions come prepackaged with their own guilt for failure. And I'm sure I was going somewhere with this, but the coffee isn't kicking in fast enough. So...Happy New Year, and may you keep any resolutions you've made. Peace out!