Storypost | 2023.08.31

16 years, 41 dives.

2008.03 | La Jolla, California

Dives: 4
Vendors: Ocean Enterprises
Notes: Checkout dives

2009.01 | Maui, Hawaii

Dives: 3
Vendors: Maui Dive Shop, Pride of Maui

2009.02 | La Jolla, California

Dives: 1
Vendors: Ocean Enterprises
Notes: East Wall is pretty neat

2009.08 | La Jolla, California

Dives: 2
Vendors: Ocean Enterprises

2010.01 | Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Dives: 2
Vendors: Cabo Scuba
Notes: Boat trouble

2012.07 | Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

Dives: 2
Vendors: Dive Shop Mexico
Notes: Cenotes

2013.05 | Kauai, Hawaii

Dives: 4

2013.09 | Monterey, California

Dives: 1
Vendors: Monterey Bay Scuba
Notes: Brrr

2014.07 | Maracajau, Brazil

Dives: 1
Vendors: IVI
Notes: Not really a dive

2015.01 | La Jolla, California

Dives: 1
Vendors: Ocean Enterprises

2015.05 | Los Coronados, Mexico

Dives: 2

2015.06 | Big Island, Hawaii

Dives: 2
Vendors: Jack's Diving Locker
Notes: Night dive

2016.05 | Kauai, Hawaii

Dives: 5
Vendors: Seasoport Divers, Bubbles Below

2019.02 | Maui, Hawaii

Dives: 4
Vendors: Maui Dive Shop, Snorkel Bob's

2022.07 | Big Island, Hawaii

Dives: 1
Vendors: Aquatic Life Divers
Notes: Night dive

2023.03 | La Jolla, California

Dives: 1
Vendors: Ocean Enterprises
Notes: Seven gill

2023.07 | La Jolla, California

Dives: 1
Vendors: Ocean Enterprises

2023.08 | Bird Rock, California

Dives: 2
Vendors: Odyssea Diving

2023.08 | Avalon, California

Dives: 1
Vendors: Catalina Divers Supply
Notes: Huge sea bass

2024.04 | La Jolla, California

Dives: 1
Vendors: Ocean Enterprises
Notes: Marine Street

Storypost | 2023.08.30

Catalina Avalon snorkeling Casino

Riding Cooley's initiative, we did a three-night trip to Catalina.
Sunday: Getting there

Dana Point Catalina Express dock Catalina Express window ferry view ocean

We drove up to Dana Point and took the ninety-minute ferry ride to Avalon. The only hiccups were a few spots of midday Sunday gridlock.
Sunday: town

Avalon Catalina boardwalk Catboy

Avalon is a tiny town. There are a few blocks of restaurants, hotels, spas, and souvenir shops surrounded by a ring of houses. The boardwalk smells of the half-dozen beachside ice cream shops and the exhaust of two-stroke golf carts.

Things to do

Avalon Catalina Island Inn balcony view

I'm just going to say it, I don't know how I feel about vacationing in a town built around a harbor. I like boats well enough, but I don't want the entire panorama to be a water parking lot. And maybe I'm used to more industrial harbors, but there's something disconcerting about wading in water completely enclosed by a nautical cordon. That being said, the boats were there first and the Avalon beaches are mostly rocks.

Catalina Avalon Flx Biergarten pint

If you aren't a sailor, there isn't all that much to do in Avalon. Kind of. The shops and harbor are worth a lap, but unless you're seriously into tchotchkes or overpriced-but-not-ridiculous food, the town doesn't have much to offer.

Catalina Avalon Metropole Avenue Catalina Island Inn

Since Avalon is a nice, quaint beachside town, it's plenty accommodating if you're aiming to relax on the beach or read a book on a balcony. It'd be a bit more relaxing if they replaced all of the gas-powered carts with electric ones, but it's better than cars.
Monday: cabana day

Descanso Beach Club corner cabana Avalon Catalina

I'm not really a cabana person so I wasn't especially excited for Monday's itinerary. When I arrived to find that the neighboring cabanas were dueling their bluetooth speakers (mariachi and club beats) I was ready to turn back. But, awesomely, we had the endmost cabana that looked directly out to sea. There was a good view, there was no foot traffic, and the sound somewhat muted.

Catalina Descanso Beach Club shore wading

Dani was all about getting in the water.

Avalon Catalina Descanso Beach Club kelp forest snorkeling

Things got really cool when we found the kelp forest between the beach club and the adjacent cove. The kelp creates narrow canyons of swimmable space with dark caverns to freedive to. The brightness delta was too severe to get any illustrative photos, but a little ways down there are some shots from the similar-but-less-dense dive park.

Catalina Avalon snorkeling Descanso Beach Club cabanas Catalina Avalon snorkeling garibaldi underwater photo Catalina Avalon snorkeling garibaldi underwater photo


Catalina Divers Supply cancelation email

Catalina Divers Supply sent a reminder and a confirmation of our boat dive, complete with stern warnings about how any issues within 48 hours would result in no refunds. Then they cancelled the boat trip. The story they told Cooley was that the boat was broken and there were no other boats available to them. Lacking any ability to corroborate, I assumed it was like an airline underbooks a flight "suffers a mechanical issue".
Tuesday: invasion, capitulation, and fun

More disaster

Catalina Avalon Catalina Island Inn cruise ship fog

Tuesday morning a Flying Dutchman-like apparition loomed large in the fog bank. In my mind, Paul Revere lit two lanterns and rode a golf cart through the town shouting, "The sea zonies are coming, the sea zonies are coming!" When the ship cleared the fog our worst fears were realized: Carnival.

Boat Shore dive

Catalina Casino Point Dive Park scuba kelp forest divers
Shane's photo.

With the boat dive cancelled, I was confronted with the lose-lose of either not diving at all or giving money to the dive shop that wouldn't take us out with four. And I should say, it's entirely possible that their boat actually broke down, but that doesn't change a whole lot. They had three options:
  1. Backup plan: "Hey, uh, our boat broke down, we have a backup because it's high season on the island with the best diving in California." Or, "Yeah our boat breaks all the time (you can trust our dive gear though) but that's okay, we'll audible to a short jeep drive to a couple of dive sites nearby."
  2. Token apology: "Hey, uh, our boat broke down, since it really sucks that you had this awesome dive day booked let us offer you a BOGO Casino Point dive. Since we refund you nothing if you come down with covid the day before a dive, we hold ourselves to half that level of responsibility since we prefer to keep your business."
  3. We don't need you: "Ouch, that sucks, here's your money back, want to give it to us for something else?"
I settled on a single shore dive at Casino Point since it was too short notice to look into the one other dive shop in Avalon.

With that saltiness out of the way, the dive was awesome.

Catalina Casino Point Dive Park scuba kelp forest divers
Shane's photo.

As I mentioned, the kelp forests in Catalina are quite dense, giving divers the feeling of exploring a jungle. On the minus side, for guided dives it slows things down quite a bit.

Catalina Avalon scuba Casino Point Dive Park fish

The water was warm, the vis was great, there were tons of fish to see.

Catalina Avalon scuba Casino Point Dive Park sea bass Catalina Casino Point Dive Park scuba sea bass Catalina Casino Point Dive Park scuba sea bass in kelp Catalina Casino Point Dive Park scuba sea bass kelp forest

Shane found a huge sea bass. Alas, we couldn't get a shot with a person for scale. (Above and below: "_crr*" mine, "shne_*" Shane's).

thumbnail Catalina Avalon scuba Casino Point Dive Park fish garibaldi thumbnail Catalina Avalon scuba Casion Point Dive Park diver fish thumbnail Catalina Avalon scuba Casino Point Dive Park fish garibaldi
thumbnail Catalina Avalon scuba Casino Point Dive Park fish kelp
thumbnail Catalina Avalon scuba Casino Point Dive Park fish thumbnail Catalina Casino Point Dive Park scuba Jacques Cousteau plaque
thumbnail Catalina Casino Point Dive Park scuba plants

Side note: I auto-levelsed all of Shane's photos since he hasn't gotten to postprocessing them yet.
Final thoughts

Catalina Avalon snorkeling garibaldi underwater photo kelp

Storypost | 2023.08.25

Yevgeny Prigozhin plane crash pointing meme

Interesting news out of Moscow yesterday, we seem to have come to the end of the Prigozhin Saga:
  1. April: he guesses about the summer offensive and complains about ammunition.
  2. May: he posts an angry video from an open grave.
  3. June: the Wagnerkrieg.
  4. June: reflecting on the Wagnerkrieg.
Since that April post included the line, "It'd be interesting to be a fly on the wall for the Yevgeny Prigozhin / Sergei Shoigu saga", I'll post on the final chapter.

A Lost ending

Adult Swim Harambe timeline

An NCDer eulogized the Wagner mutiny with "written and directed by david benioff and d.b. weiss" because it brought Game of Thrones-tier disappointement. This one felt more like the last episode of Lost; weird and confusing but kind of what you expected.

Specifically: why was Pringles still hanging around the lion's den?

I heard the question asked on NPR and the response was, "it's a good question". Likewise I have read nothing definitive in the news, osint, or comment section.

If the mutiny is unfamiliar:
  1. In June, Russian mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin and many of his well-equipped soldiers marched on a regional Russian military HQ and Moscow. In the process, the rebelling mercenaries shot down a handful of Russian aircraft.
  2. A stand-down was quickly negotiated by Belarusian President Lukashenko, or more likely by Putin through Lukashenko.
  3. Prigozhin's Wagner PMC was split: his units were given the option of relocating to the new Wagner HQ in Belarus or being conscripted by the Russian military.
  4. A mere month later, Prigozhin showed up to a diplomatic summit in St. Petersburg. Varying reports placed him elsewhere in Russia over the past two months.
Prigozhin Bane meme banepost
Source. The lack of concrete information was replaced with baneposting and conspiracy wishcasting.

So why would the Prigozhin be killed now, after months of roaming the country he briefly upended?

Option 1: Prigozhin was just dumb

I doubt it, but I'll toss this one out there because it's the default story. Prigozhin was a prisoner and a caterer before he was a billionaire PMC executive, maybe he's an idiot who has been propped up by Putin's favor, money, and guys with AKs. Maybe he thought he could get away with the mutiny and was swayed by Putin's guarantees of safety.

Yevgeny Prigozhin Bakhmut rooftop

PMC work, war-torn nations, prisoner conscripts, Russian politics... Prigozhin has managed to navigate some pretty treacherous waters. I can't imagine he'd have lasted this long but suddenly become oblivious to his own peril after directly challenging the Kremlin. And it's not like Putin's modus operandi is foreign to him.

Option 2: Prigozhin was on negotiated death row

The exact opposite of "Prigozhin didn't see this coming" is "Prigozhin agreed to this". Perhaps the Kremlin had an ace in the hole during the negotiated end to the mutiny, e.g. physical access to Prigozhin's wife and children. The last two months may have been about relocating Prigozhin's family in exchange for his voluntary ride into the sunset. A quick news search didn't reveal any public statements from Lyubov Prigozhina, but if they remain in St. Petersburg I think we can call this idea a bust.

Option 3: He overestimated his kompromat

fractured_bedrock fractured_bedrock I wonder if Prighozin had some sort of poison pill in place in case of his death. You think he would have to be a moron not to. Perhaps we'll see a whole bunch of leaked documents released this week or something

As Bedrock mentions, Prigozhin presumably had a trove of documentation on activities his PMC has executed on Moscow's behalf. While the Kremlin wouldn't write a purchase order for 'one deposed Congolese president', even personal notes or ambiguous payments could be sufficiently convincing.

NY Times On March 19, a group of gunmen stormed a remote gold mine far away from Bangui and killed nine Chinese workers.
The Central African government has said that it investigated the massacre and concluded that a leading rebel group had orchestrated it. The rebels have denied the allegation and blamed a third party that operates in the country - Russia's Wagner mercenary group, which has in turn accused the rebels. None of the sides has presented evidence for its claims.


"Wagner and China have the same exploitative interest in Africa, but Wagner thrives in chaos, while China needs stability," Mr. Arduino said.

And the potential blowback wouldn't be limited to the contintent Wagner mainly operated in. China and India are trade lifelines for the heavily-sanctioned Russian Federation. The Kremlin wouldn't take a leakage of shared state secrets lightly.

So maybe Wagner didn't do anything especially damaging to Russia's diplomatic reputation. Or perhaps the Kremlin decided it was the lesser of two evils. We'll know by next week, maybe.

Option 4: "They are expecting one of us to be amongst the wreckage, brother"

Yevgeny Prigozhin plane crash still Yevgeny Prigozhin plane crash still

There has been no lack of conspiracyposting about Prigozhin's pre-flight whereabouts and and/or his second plane. It seems unlikely that he would fake his own death inside Russia and hope to get away with it. The Hollywood twist would be that a staged execution was part of the stand-down agreement, a way for Prigozhin to exit with Putin saving face. It just doesn't seem like the kind of thing you can expect to keep under wraps.
What now?

Coastalnutcase Coastalnutcase Wagner coup 2.0?

No. Wagnerites were given the options of conscription or relocation to Belarus. They're not marching, decimated and leaderless, through Belarus and Russia.

Barring The Wagner Papers or news about Prigozhin's family, I think this saga has ended as intended.

Both New Yorker and WSJ published in-depth articles about Prigozhin before his death. It seems he spent the two months between the mutiny and Wednesday trying to reassert Wagner's position as Africa's go-to PMC amidst a Russian MoD effort to take his clients. I'm not sure this sheds any light on the questions above, but his busy travel schedule may explain the two month delay.

Storypost | 2023.08.21

Scuba dive boat Odyssea diving

We went to water, water came to us - a quick roundup of the last few weeks.

The Simpsons The Hurricane Simpsons newspaper Springfield Shopper hurricane Consuela

The weekend's big news was hurricane Hilary making landfall (as a tropical storm) in Southern California.

Hurricane Hilary path projection Saturday Hurricane Hilary radar Sunday 20th 0630

News and weather apps had a lot of colorful maps that were unfamiliar to most people around these parts.

Jes had a girls' night out planned for the evening before. One of the attendees asked her to make hurricanes, not realizing that three years earlier our quarantinis had elevated covid from "over in a week" to "multiyear global pandemic".

Rain gutter Gecko

While the inland empire had some flash flooding, the coast just experienced a full day of heavy drizzle.


Pith hat snorkel mask Hurricane Hilary Cardiff ocean

It was my turn to lead the beer exploration. Wanting to go coastal, we hit a couple spots in Cardiff.
Boat dive

Scuba dive Odyssea San Diego bean bags harbor

Cooley set us up with a boat dive with Odyssea Diving. It was a very different experience from vacation dives with crowded boats, bad divers, and endless pre-dive briefings. Plus they had bean bags on the deck.

We went to two spots off of Bird Rock. The water was warm and the vis was good (well, relatively). The biggest disappointment was that High Dive's burger patties are nearly inedible after so many years of being the best burgers in the county.

Odyssea dive boat gear Scuba dive underwater kelp High Dive bar San Diego menu patio

(Most of these photos are either from Derrick or Shane.)
Fun and games

pool Media room sonic the hedgehog ps5

For Dani, the non-hurricane weekends have featured swim time, 'daddy games', and yard play.

Clank Legacy

Clank Legacy Cauphinaria Distortion Cat Clank Legacy board cards overworld

The board game crew started Clank Legacy back in June. We've now been to both sides of the board and put the vast majority of map stickers down. A few thoughts:

Review | 2023.08.12

Baldurs Gate 3 emerald grove halsin

Baldur's Gate, Battlebit, and Monster Train plus some updates on other adventures.
Baldur's Gate 3

Baldurs Gate 3 after combat orc leader blood
A photo of me two months ago when I heard that Larian was making the next Baldur's Gate. Don't ask about the bear.

You'd think Larian Studios is full of slackers given that their last game, Divinity 2, came out in 2017. But whoever owns the rights to Baldur's Gate (WotC?) has really been asleep at the wheel, Bioware made BG2 in 2000. I haven't played Baldur's Gate and I haven't played D&D, but the Divinity games are amazing so this was an easy buy. It also jumped the queue on my not-insubstantial backlog of single-player games.

For comparison, Divinity 2.

Promotional and/or early access screenshots made it clear that BG3 is an iteration on the Divinity: Original Sin mechanics. And that's great, since it'd be a shame of Larian abandoned their superb game engine for the glitz and glamour of making someone else's game. But where Larian writers had complete discretion over their story, what would the D&D affiliation bring?


Baldurs Gate 3 nautiloid ship attacking city tentacles

You thought I was going to say D20s. I mean yes, there are now D20s, but look. At. All. Those. Tentacles.

Baldurs Gate 3 nautiloid pool Baldurs Gate 3 intro dragons nautiloid ship Baldurs Gate 3 nautiloid ship crash load screen Baldurs Gate 3 nautiloid ship crash tentacle Baldurs Gate 3 nautiloid mind flayer parasite

I guess Nautiloids (mini-Cthulus) are prominent in the D&D universe. While I take issue with their brain parasites I have to admit they make for a pretty cinematic intro sequence.

Going back to D20s, they're a big element of the game. Skill checks for persuasion and lockpicking and sneak all hinge on a die roll. I'm not sold on them. In a lot of RPGs you'll see, say a level 3 computer. If you have at least level 3 computer hacking, you're in. There's little-to-no randomness because it's frustrating and encourages immersion-reducing quickloads. On the other hand, comparing two numbers is a fairly heavy oversimplification of a complex feat. One could rightfully say, "Let's make this a dice roll because you can't always hack a level 3 computer even if you are a level 5 cyberninja." I'm not sure that's the solution to the oversimplification issue, but I appreciate that a gaming experience should have plenty of skill- and rng-based failure.


More canon

Baldurs Gate 3 orc camp Dror Ragzlin

Divinity: Original Sin was story-heavy and did plenty of from-scratch worldbuilding. BG3 inherits all of the D&D canon (I assume), and this is both an opportunity and a limitation. The game has snooty elves, snootier vampires, humans, thieving tieflings, greenpeace druids, and dumb brute races. It'd be unfair call the universe 'tropey' since the lore has been around for like fifty years, but I'd sure like to replace my dark, sinister vampire party member with a sassy, sociopathic skeleton.

Baldurs Gate 3 Lae Zel cinematic nautiloid ship

On the plus side, even without having played any D&D content aside from the occasional tabletop spinoff, the canon is familiar enough. That means the game doesn't have to hamstring the storytelling with lengthy explainers. I don't know anything about githyankis, but Lae'zel's pretty good about delivering the executive summary.

Baldurs Gate 3 laezel lae zel shiny armor blood Baldurs Gate 3 character creation guardian tiefling

Divinity 3?

Baldurs Gate 3 orc camp rafters sneaking

BG3 plays a lot like Divinity 2. Actually, it seems like most of Larian's effort went into everything but the roaming/combat mechanics, more on that in a moment. While I wouldn't have minded more creativity (the DOS1 -> DOS2 changes were superb), it's absolutely fine that BG3 plays like Divinity 2.

At least in the early game, BG3 signficantly dials back the ability and environment options available in combat compared to Divinity 2. For example, in Divinity 2 there's an escort segment on an oil derrick with flame enemies - there's no way to get past a couple rounds of combat without the whole damn thing being on fire. I'm as far as the first big boss (orcs) and still haven't cast rain or dumped an oil barrel on anyone. I have seen oil barrels and I've cast a few oil slicks, but elements haven't factored in very much. Maybe it's a later game thing - in Divinity it takes an agonizingly long time to get (what I consider) the most important ability: summon walking bomb. But I'm mildly fearful that The Bobs from WotC told Larian to emphasize melee combat to fit the tank/dps/magic dps/healer formula.

Baldurs Gate 3 animal squirrel Baldurs Gate 3 sad bear

After Fane, the most amusing (and occasionally useful) element of Divinity 2 was the speaking to animals perk. The skill returns in BG3 though thus far they have been neither funny nor helpful. It might be at least half my fault for not choosing a character class that can turn into a rat and thereby fit through tiny holes in the wall.


Baldurs Gate 3 tiefling sword training combat advice shout moves

Baldur's Gate 3 is heavy into story and dialogue. Depending on writing, voice acting, and a player's emotional investment in the overall game, this can be either very captivating or very annoying. I haven't decided where I land on this one. The canon and the central mystery have me not pressing space to skip, the vampires and dialogue volume have me occasionally moving my thumb toward that key.

I vaguely recall that Divinity did all of its dialogue in text boxes shown over the normal (third person, zoomed out) view - there weren't any cuts to first person views of characters talking. Most importantly, for window decoration NPCs, you could click on them and hear their one-liner without getting dragged into an interactive dialogue. It meant villages were efficient - you would have conversations with questgivers and merchants and could safely click on everything without losing your afternoon to meaningless dialogue.

Baldurs Gate 3 guardian first cutscene tiefling

BG3 features detailed character models and motion capture facial expressions, something now standard with high-budget games with a complex story. But having cinematic conversations with window dressing NPCs is incredibly frustrating. Suddenly villages are a game of 'find the NPC that matters' where every wrong guess is a cutscene with a one-liner and a click to exit. It adds very little immersion and quite a lot of tedium.

For the interesting and plot-related conversations, it's impressive how much content there is. Beyond the core and ancillary dialogue, there are often discussion paths hidden behind a variety of character attribute checks. Since these are sometimes shortcuts to rewards or diffusing a situation diplomatically, they're always nice to see.

Character creation

Baldurs Gate 3 character creation class elf

The game has a bunch of classes and even more subclasses, but like Divinity you can round out your party with recruitable allies. I opted for a Ranger -> Summoner main character since it's always good to have a steady stream of meat shields, especially if the plot dictates the occasional solo battle. My plan was to put out a couple of summons and have my Lady Arwen-inspired elf do the textbook archer thing to poke away those hitpoints.

Things have gone more or less according to plan. I've regrettably needed to keep my vampire rogue around for the stealth kills that, if done right, won't alert nearby enemies. My healer unfortunately has just one heal spell, but my tank is quite tanky. The one thing that really caught me out is that many skills/spells only refresh on a long rest (go to camp, sleep, the day advances) or a short rest (max two per day). In Divinity I'd be casting most things several times per battle. Again, not sure if the game slow-rolls abilities or if there was an intentful focus on swords and arrows.


Baldurs Gate 3 laezel inventory Baldurs Gate 3 journal halsin first druid

The character sheets, inventory, and journal are about what you'd expect.

Brains and sphincters

Baldurs Gate 3 nautiloid ship sphincter door lol

A lot of games have had sphincter doors. Halo did, I'm pretty sure Borderlands and Warframe did. Basically any game where you enter a huge living spacecraft is likely to have a sphincter door but to my knowledge, this is the first time one's been labeled as such. And while I giggled, I'm glad Larian decided to do the adult thing and just call the sphincter a sphincter. They took a similarly frank and high-brow approach to nudity and romance, contrasting the typical video games approach of playing chicken with ratings board taboos.

Baldurs Gate 3 nautiloid ship exposed brain

More strikingly, BG3 starts off with some serious nightmare fuel. You quickly advance to a place called The Emerald Grove, so it's not all Tolkien+Lovecraft, but I imagine I'll be headed back to the heart of tentacled darkness as the final battle draws near.


Pepe time traveler half-life

Battlebit early access hummer helicopter pfamto

The hot new pvp game is Battlebit. It's like Battlefield/CoD but with Minecraft graphics. So Gen Z kids must love it.

The lolbaters squad played one session but it was a bit too chaotic to really enjoy. Specifically, the massive battles tend to have amorphous fronts and that makes it difficult to work with your comrades-in-arms. That is, you're always under threat of being sniped from behind your own lines that it's hard to effectively push the enemy lines with your squadmates.

In contrast, with Planetside 2 and Battlefield 1 and Enemy Territory it was pretty easy to tell where the front was. Each game had an infiltrator mechanic, but it wasn't as prominent as Battlebit's. It's early access though, we'll see how things progress.

Battlebit early access medic knocked NotADeuce Battlebit early access rooftop city Battlebit early access helicopter transport Jackie Chun warthoggers Battlebit early access sniper scope
Monster Train

Monster Train torch cards

If you were to fill a cauldron with Slay the Spire, Plants vs Zombies, and Snowpiercer, the resultant brew would be Monster Train. It's a deckbuilder with a tower defense mechanic (keep the baddies from ascending to your train core) set on a train in a magical realm.

Monster Train picking route Bogwurms Remains Monster Train shop Monster Train encounter train graveyard

Like Slay the Spire and Nowhere Prophet and Across the Obelisk, you move across an overworld map from battle to battle with shops and encounters along the way.

Monster Train combat revenge Daedalus Monster Train combat Fel minions Monster Train Fel wings of Light

Combat involves deploying minions and doing direct damage. The enemies move up your tower if you let them, attempting to destroy your train.

Monster Train Allied Clan pack Sting Sharpen Restoration Detonation Monster Train major enhancements Monster Train hellhorn hero upgrade brawler reaper Monster Train unlockables progress

You build your deck, collect artifacts, and unlock new stuff for the next playthrough. I need to play more of this game.
XCOM: Chimera Squad

XCOM Chimera Squad breach apc endgame XCOM Chimera Squad victory screen

This screenshot has been sitting on Steam for a bit, but I did blast through the last mission of Chimera Squad.
I Was A Teenage Exocolonist

I Was a Teenage Exoconist Sym falling

I also finished I Was A Teenage Exocolonist.

I Was a Teenage Exoconist Sym wormhole

The game starts with your colony ship emerging through a wormhole. As the game progresses it becomes apparent that the wormhole is a fairly clever fourth wall mechanic.

I Was a Teenage Exoconist death scene

The writing is pretty darn good, even if the fade to black is kind of sad.

I Was a Teenage Exoconist gardener confrontation

I wasn't planning on a second run, but the game goaded me into it. I got pretty far along the 'good ending' path, not knowing anything about the endgame. [Tiptoeing around spoilers] I made a deal to make everyone happy in the final year of story, expecting to be given the opportunity to fulfill the deal, e.g. by fighting the antagonist. The opportunity never came.

I Was a Teenage Exoconist animal attack I Was a Teenage Exoconist exploring during glow season

I looked it up, despite colony's mortal peril the only way to actually make the kumbaya deal go through is by peaceful, democratic means. And my build wasn't set up for that.


IWATE has solid new game+ support, it prompts you to bypass or make the right choice on important plot points that you experienced on the last playthrough.

I Was a Teenage Exoconist governor ending
Well the democratic referendum only occurred because of a bloodless coup.
Slay the Spire

Slay the Spire Silent Mind Blast huge deck daily challenge
One of the daily challenges gave you a hopelessly thick deck.

I still come down with the occasional illness so I'm still firing up my go-to sick game, Slay the Spire. I'm midway through ascension for Ironclad and Silent but getting to the limits of my skill.

Slay the Spire Ironclad heavy blade strength build The Heart Slay the Spire Ironclad strength deck

My Ironclad deck wasn't anything to write home about. It was focused on getting strength up using Corruption and card draw asap, then hitting em with the Heavy Blade.

Slay the Spire caw caaaw Heart Silent Slay the Spire Silent shiv potion deck

I hadn't tried a discard build for Silent, but when I pulled Tough Bandages (discard -> shield) from the whale guy I gave it a whirl. It helped a lot with Silent's squishiness.

Fallout 76 radar dish Fallout 76 nuclear power plant cooling towers Fallout 76 awesome tales fishmen

Me and J have gotten a little more FO76 in and the PUBG squad still likes dropping C4 from gliders.

PUBG Playerunknowns Battlegrounds drop plane sunset

Storypost | 2023.08.02

AI generated image of a cruise ship in a storm

Jes watched Barbie while I watched Oppenheimer while Mom watched Dani. Also some state-of-the-internet snark I found worth quoting.

Soundgarden Black Hole Sun Barbie doll on fire
From Black Hole Sun.

It's probably a sign that Hollywood is struggling when their marketing campaign is to portmanteau the two premiers, specifically Barbie + Oppenheimer = Barbenheimer. The term is already on the tail end of its popularity already but I'll preserve its memory here.

Since Mom was in town this past weekend, Jes and I snuck away to get the Barbenheimer experience - well, I didn't follow the hype close enough to know if the phenomenon stipulates that couples part ways at the lobby, but that's what we did. And since Oppenheimer is a bit longer than Barbie, Jes had time to make pink-clad friends at the theater bar.

Barbenheimer pink mushroom cloud

Quick review of Oppenheimer:
Playing with kinetic sand
Xechat and Instatext

Twitter X flashing sign

I wrote at length about recent developments in the battle for the internet. The latest news:
BBC Meta boss Mark Zuckerberg says its new social media platform, Threads, has lost more than half its users.

The Twitter rival rocketed to more than 100 million users within five days of its launch earlier this month.

But Mr Zuckerberg has acknowledged those numbers have now tumbled.

"If you have more than 100 million people sign up, ideally it would be awesome if all of them or even half of them stuck around. We're not there yet," he said.

Mr Zuckerberg - who made the comments in a call to employees, heard by the Reuters news agency - described the situation as "normal" and said he anticipated retention to improve as new features were added to the app.

I don't know much about Meta sites, so this helped:

dahwolf It's pretty common that after a peak of new signups, most do not convert to long term active users. This doesn't even take into account that most "active users" tend to never post anything, they just leech. They still count as MAU. I'm sure that Meta has plenty of ways to boost that number in the long term but overall I find the entire thing underwhelming.

Threads is text-based Instagram. But not even that as you can very well include photos. It has exactly the same shallow culture as Instagram: commercial, flat, vain.

Meta has openly expressed that it's disinterested or even hostile to news/journalism making their way to the platform (which comes with a lot of political flame-wars), instead to focus on making it a "fun" platform. Quite obviously because advertisers prefer networks without controversy.

Users may self-censor as on Threads the link to your real name is not very far away. Many users may have a real name Insta account linked up which in turn is linked to your Facebook account. Even if not visibility linked to your real name, internally you should assume it's there. So who knows what happens to all those accounts when you step over the line in Threads?

Hence, it's not Twitter which is defined by the culture war taking the main stage. Twitter is raw, edgy and toxic. It's also known for its real-time coverage of events, which Threads so far lacks. It also produces quite a lot of original content, whether they be memes or otherwise. You'll find none of that originating on Meta networks.

As Twitter seems on its way down, especially high follower users (such as journalists) are lost. There is no longer a "cultural network" where you push a message and get reach. None of the alternatives work for this purpose either.

I have no idea what will become of Twitter, but I do know to keep an open mind as we live in wild times. Just because Musk is a chaos monkey does not mean that it will not eventually rebound or even surpass old Twitter.

Red sky

catinator9000 catinator9000 Telling my kid about the story of the social media will be kind of wild now that I think of it. First there were these niche cozy forums where you talked about anime and occasionally met IRL. Then it all consolidated into FB, Twitter, Reddit and it was really cool for a bit. We even came up with a name for it, Web 2.0, like it's some new era. Then it all got dark and we thought social media will end us. But then it suddenly just disappeared - Reddit was set on fire by the owner, Twitter was bought by a rich dude and set on fire, and FB became a reservation for nutjobs that nobody you know uses (aside from that weird one-off family member from Florida).