Wag The Dog Reboot

I’m batting about an idea for a screenplay. I’d like to do a reboot of Wag The Dog, sort of.

In this pre-apocalyptic story, there’s an international consortium/conspiracy of power brokers. Kabal… Illuminati… Knights Templar… something like that. These extremely influential yet extremely secretive men are concerned about the financial impact of several world problems, including

  • Climate Change
  • ISIS
  • Bashar al-Assad
  • Inability to diplomatically convince certain countries that pursuit of nuclear weapon capability is a bad idea, including
    • Iran
    • North Korea

If only we could kill a few birds with one stone.

The problem with convincing North Korea that Nuclear Weapons are bad is partly that not enough people are still alive who have seen the devastation. WWII was too long ago. Perhaps a current example would set their thinking straight.

The problem with selling fossil fuels (the main source of profit for these guys) is the global push-back against carbon emissions, which cause climate change, which is increasingly difficult to believably deny. But a little nuclear winter could correct that, perhaps.

And if the international community really cared about the Syrian people, Bashar al-Assad would simply never have gotten this far… so these profit-driven evil men could write off (aka sacrifice) the entire country and turn it into one big mirror. Which would further help stave off planetary warming, right?

But of course, the publically-known world leaders don’t want to be on the hook, blamed for reckless war-mongering. So what we need is a patsy. Some ego-maniacal reality-TV personality who is believably dumb enough to be, of all things, a Climate Change Denier. Better yet if he’s thin-skinned and hot-tempered. Someone who could be tricked into taking the blame for starting a nuclear confrontation.

Alas, I could never sell such a screenplay. Too difficult for the audience to suspend disbelief far enough to make it pay off at the box office.

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Thanks For Nothing

That title isn’t as negative as it sounds. I’ll explain that later.

I was enthused about going to my wife’s bestie’s place for Thanksgiving.

We used to live 40 minutes away (or longer, if there was anything affecting traffic). But this past spring we bought a house a mere 3 miles from bestie’s. It’s been great. Those two – thick as thieves – have spent tons more time together than in previous years, and we’re both so very happy about that change.

We’d gone to a couple Christmases at bestie’s in the early years of our relationship, and for a misfit introvert like me, those were tough. I mean, they were great; but I just don’t like inserting myself into someone else’s gift-giving routine. It felt to me like we really should’ve bolted immediately after the meal. But my gal and her bestie had a gift exchange to do, which of course got incorporated into the rest of the gifting thing. You know what I mean – just awkward.

So the fact that…

  • Yesterday wasn’t Christmas.
  • It’s now a 5-minute drive instead of 5x that.

…made me go into it (and I even said so on the way there) with less nervousness because it’s not a huge deal if I feel like I’m “done” long before my wife is ready to go. I can come back and get her – it ain’t that far. Or someone else can drop her off – it ain’t that far out of their way (possibly not at all).

And so, as the Big & Tall Men’s patrons could all relate, as we’re figuring out who will sit where, and realizing that I’m the most-recent-addition to this group, so as pecking-order goes, I should sit next to the opposite end of the table – by the 2nd card table – on one of the folding chairs… and then the school-boy insecurity thing blindsides me.

In an instant, I imagine trying to gently lower myself onto a flimsy chair, but my socks slipping on the wood floor (I’d already had similar trouble getting up out of a chair due to poor traction). I see myself dropping onto the chair too quickly. It buckles. As I sprawl to the floor, impaled by kinked metal folding chair leg, one of my feet kicks the adjacent legs of the two card tables, and now half the table space has been thrown to the floor. Broken glasses and dishes. Wine stains. A thigh scalded by potatoes. The inevitable “Who invited this fat f**k to our family tradition?!”

It took me about a minute to conclude that I could neither shake the rapidly growing sense of dread, nor endure it. I slipped out, sent my wife a text, drove home, and watched youtube videos of people trying stupid things so I don’t have to.

I’m so very thankful that somewhat out of the blue, we were informed of a place for sale this close to her bestie’s, this close to a Park-n-Ride, and this far out of the city. I’m thankful for the growing relationship with her bestie and bestie’s husband. They’re great people, and all four of us seem to get along rather well (which is rare, ‘cuz I dislike almost everybody, and am readily disliked by the few whom I do not dislike). I’m super thankful to have been invited over for Thanksgiving (instead of Christmas).

But most of all Thanks For Nothing. That is, thanks for understanding that…

  • I’m freaked out about Nothing.
  • If I’m freaked out, I need to be around Nobody.
  • What can you do to help? Nothing.
  • What did you do wrong? Nothing.
  • What shall we do differently next time? Nothing.

I’m thankful to have people in my life, especially my wife and her bestie, who get it. They get social anxiety. They get the helplessness against irrational fears. And that I mean them no slight. It’s random. It’s a roll of the dice, a spin of the wheel, a dart thrown blindly. It may happen more often, it may never happen again. I don’t know. And there’s Nothing to be concerned about.

Getting Older… Or Younger

…it’s hard to tell. I remember doing absent-minded things as a school boy.

  • Forgetting to bring my trombone on band days.
  • Somehow winding up with the wrong pair of boots to walk home.
  • Walking 3/4 mile to the Radio Shack at Har Mar Mall, then not remembering why I went there in the first place.

Off and on, these sort of absent-minded things happen throughout one’s normal life, or so I presume. I’m not the only one I know with such anecdotes which seem only slightly more frequent in early or late life.

Clearly, though, I’m late in life; so let’s talk about that.

Every weekday morning, after I get dressed, I grab my money clip, phone, RFID key-card for work, sometimes my watch… and finish my final assembly before heading upstairs to gather whatever might be my breakfast and/or lunch to put in my work bag. Invariably, I’ve forgotten to bring my work bag in from the car the afternoon prior, so it’s part of my routine to curse @ myself and grumble as I go out to the garage to get it.

KeyCardRetractorStringThingy.jpgBut the RFID key-card; I always clip the retractor-string-thingy onto a right-hand belt-loop… the between my zipper and my right front pocket. String always plays out to the right. Always.

This morning, I distinctly remember putting it on and feeling something was weird about it. Like it was pointed left instead of right, and suddenly I couldn’t remember if it was the usual thing or not (partly because I wasn’t giving the thought much energy in the first place). Briefly perplexed – not even for a half second – and then off I went to the next thing.

I grab breakfast, grumble my way to the garage and back to retrieve my forgotten work bag, dump my crap in the bag and head to the car. Where are my keys? Go back inside. No keys there. Go back to car. Keys were in my work bag in the back seat, having dumped everything from my hands into the bag. Derp!

By the time I get to the turn for my office 32 miles later, I’ve decided I don’t want to eat what I’ve got in my bag for breakfast – go an extra quarter-mile instead to McD’s. Then back at the office, with McD’s bag in my teeth, coffee in one hand, work bag in the other, I’m fumbling for the RFID key-card on my right hip. Can’t find it.

Back to the car, set coffee on roof, work bag in back seat, shove McD’s bag in work bag, start looking for key-card, and this is when I remember I’m certain that I put it on this morning. I must have, because I remember having had that weird hesitation about it being on pointed the wrong way. I check my hip again, wondering if I only missed it by an inch when I felt for it in the dark. Nope, it’s nowhere on my right belt-loop.

Oh no, I’d put it on backwards (i.e. pointed left instead of pointed right), and now that means that some combination of moves with jacket, seat-belt, getting in, out, in the car, it’s popped off somewhere. Going to have to get it replaced; it’s probably a $50 charge or something. Dang it!

Oh well, at least there are three co-workers already at the office, surely one of them is online on Skype by now, and I can ask them to let me in. Pinged two of them, but eventually I got in, and reheated my now-tepid breakfast in the microwave. Finishing breakfast and preparing to login to the various tools and services to start my workday, I reach down with both hands to grasp my chair seat to lift-and-re-position, and in so doing, my hand grazes something smoother than my wool slacks. What?!

It’s my key-card!

On my left hip. Pointed left. From the left belt-loop. What th… well isn’t that just something I might do in grade-school… or the nursing home?

Grammar Correction as the Devil’s Advocate

I’m a trouble-maker; let’s just make that clear from the get-go.

I also enjoy grammar correction. I enjoy feeling superior, being just a tidbit smarter than the other guy in one little instance or another.

However, I also often enjoy the lesser-used however still correct ways of using words. Especially when it’s accidental, or an otherwise comical twist.

lose_is_a_verb.png

First, red33410 is correct, in his judgement that zgrssd had accidentally typed “loose” when he meant “lose”.

Contrarian that I am, I chimed in with a lesser-used version of “loose” that is a verb, only to have red33410 (much to my delight) correct me with a blanket declaration that “loose” is an adjective. As if “loose” can never be a verb. But alas…

loose_as_a_verb.png

…”loose” can indeed be a verb!

Yes, this is the sort of $#!+ that makes my day, because I am just that sort of prick.

What’s Not Yet VR

…is Linden Labs’ Second Life Project OculusRift 4.1.0.317313

Released just a couple days ago, I learned of its existence because of a Tweet by Jo Yardley (@1920sberlin)… and excitedly downloaded it to try it out. So far, I hate it.

Here’s what a rather small window of the regular 4k flat monitor looks like in 1920s Berlin, with pretty much all the graphics stuff set to ultra, super-duper, make-all-the-fans-spin-fast settings…

ProjectOculusNoHMD

And here’s the hammered-$#!+ that happens when going into HMD mode…

ProjectOculusWithHMD

Bright noon-day sun. No shadows. No character to the sim at all. Jaggy resolution. Jaggy motion. No mouse pointer (can’t open doors).

Linden Labs had a decade of a head start in VR before the first generally available consumer VR HMDs came out. All the other things necessary to make 3D HMD stuff get really immersive has already matured (CPU power, GPU power, broadband availability, etc.). So Linden Labs had a crazy advantage toward making Johnny-come-lately AltSpaceVR look absolutely noob-stoopid. (And it does look absolutely noob-stoopid.) However, I fear that noob-stoopid is going to win all the attention and users because, from an HMD-user perspective, and even from a 2D hey-I-found-this-thing-on-Steam perspective, that $#!+ “just works”.

Oh sure. It’s pretty easy to make SecondLife look soooo much better than AltSpaceVR. On a flat monitor, anyway. The avatars in AltSpaceVR are laughably horrible. Everybody looks like a friggin’ Pez dispenser, at best. But you can probably voice chat with them without wrestling with your audio settings. It probably already just works.

Then we get to HMD, and, well, the WORST thing I’ve yet to see available in the Store from Oculus Home – and I’ve seen some pretty crappy stuff – the worst thing was still far better than how SecondLife looks in Project OculusRift 4.1.0.317313.

Funny that the Release Page shows a long list of “Resolved” issues. All the problems I’ve listed so far are either listed exactly as one of the resolved issues, or there’s something VERY close in that list. Looks to me like maybe most of the Resolved issues accidentally didn’t actually get into the build that they put out for download.

And – again – SecondLife is largely WHY I got an Oculus Rift. So this $#!++y behavior from a FOUR-DOT-ONE release is crushingly disappointing.

Sansar better get released to public beta SOON. And it had better be so awesome I crap my pants. Otherwise, Linden Labs will become nothing more than a footnote in the VR story – if that. That would be sad. They had so many advantages.