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Sierra Magazine Extravaganza!

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

I really enjoyed going through this magazine. Brace yourself for some nostalgia, and for my extreme geekery. And if anyone has any cool stories to share, leave one in the comments!

Role Play Daze

Friday, March 9th, 2012

When I was a teenager, I had this fantastic idea.  I should drop out of high school.

It seemed like a good idea at the time, but my mom was a little less favorable of me throwing my education into the metaphorical toilet, and didn’t allow me to go through with it.  Unfortunately for her, she didn’t foresee the very near future where I threatened my high school counselor with a paperweight and managed to get kicked out anyway.  I can still see that paperweight.  It was some sort of tribal/African artifact type of thingumabob.  It was designed to look like wood, but it was in fact, stone.  Which probably made me seem all the more threatening.  You don’t mess with a fishnet clad, dark red-lip-stick’d gothball (Robert Smith, much?) holding a slab of stone in the shape of a Tiki head.  I will fuck you up(noIwon’t).

I spent some time in an alternative school, which I eventually dropped out of.  I poke fun, but those days were full of hardship.  I chose to deal with them by dying the shit out of my hair and researching body modification in world culture.  And when that bored me, I turned to role playing on the internet.  Because on the internet, I could be a goddamn cat person.  Yeah, that’s right, I role played a cat person.  I’m not ashamed of this(yesIam).

Role playing served as a means of escape.  A way I could express my creativity (or something), and at least pass the time.  I role played in AOL chatrooms mostly.  I can’t even remember what compelled me to try it.  I think I simply stumbled into the Red Dragon Inn one day and thought, “OH COOL ELVES AND SHIT.  I CAN ROLE PLAY TOO.”

::She entered the room, her cool, amber eyes scanning the bar occupants.  She wore all black, which matched her raven hued locks, which cascaded down to the small of her back.  Two perky cat ears peek out from her bouncy tresses, picking up the conversation of drunks and hooligans around the vicinity.::

Aww yeah.  This is good.  

The way I decided to enter the world of role play is to simply be dramatic as possible.

 First off, I need an awesome celebrity picture to depict my character.  Let’s see now….

PERFECT.

Now I just need to photoshop on some cat eyes, and I will have my character.  I will name her Sierra, because it’s close to my real name and sounds exotic and cool.  Man, I am totally not uncool.

I couldn’t actually find the exact picture I used for my character.  I remember it was another photo of Katie Holmes, in a similar, dramatic pose, Dawson’s Creek era.  At the time, everyone in the chatroom I played with had celebrity photos to portray their characters.  Because of this, everyone was obscenely good looking and completely unrealistic.  Why?  Because how can your character hook up with another character if he or she isn’t obscenely good looking?

Alright, now I need to edit the shit out of my AOL profile and make it all dramatic and MEANINGFUL.  I’ll just use some HTML and write a POEM in there or something.  …No wait, not a poem.  SONG LYRICS.  SONG LYRICS ARE COOL.

Looking back on my methods of character development and my writing style, I have to admit to myself.  I was pretty absurd.  But I was completely engaged in this virtual world.

Early on, it was hard to determine genuine role players from absolute creepers.  Within the first few days of role play, I experienced someone who just wanted to “cyber.”  It started out all innocent, sure.  And then you get posts like this:

::Raoul grasps the back of Sierra’s hair and tugs lightly.  Then he starts unsnapping her bra…::–

((HEY HEY HEY WAIT A FUCKING SECOND THERE SLEEZEBALL.  GO BACK TO YOUR FREAKY SEX CHATROOMS OR SOMETHING))*

*X’s out of the chat*

However, the more I role played, the more I loved it, and the more I could seriously give a shit about anything else.  I have incredibly fond memories of story-lines my group and I created.   It even got to the point where more characters were more popular than each-other, and thus spawned mun** drama.  Now that I am reflecting on this, I remember more mun drama than legitimate story lines.  Who was dating who?  Who cybered with who?  Did so and so kill blah de blah’s character again?  Why is the story line halted?  Why is Joe-schmoe mad at Jane Doe?  WHY CAN I NOT FIND A BETTER CHARACTER PORTRAIT?  TAKE BETTER PICTURES, KATIE HOLMES.

In my early twenties, I felt my role play life slowly coming to an end.  I had acquired something called a boyfriend, and my naive virgin mind wanted to experience.. eh.. other things.  Not cyber things.  Admittedly, I can say that my online days were more enjoyable than that particular relationship, but let’s not lose focus here.

Every now and then I create a minor character and role play with him or her.  There is just something so nostalgic, so whimsical, so fantastical, about role playing.  When things weren’t going to so hot in IRL, I knew I could rely on my virtual playground to distract me, and engage me until things got better.  I often wish I could go back to AOL chatroom role play, but AOL days are pretty much dead.  People are using AOL disks/discs as cup holders these days anyway.  But for a time in my life, I truly adored it.  I await the day that Sierra, the quirky cat girl with beige fur on her ears will make a triumphant return.

*((Talking with parenthesis around the sentence, like this, meant we were talking out of character.  In character statements usually had :: :: around them, to specify action.))

**Mun is the term we used to call the person playing the character.  Sometimes meaning, “Man Under Name”, it was common to call person by their character name followed by “mun.”  I would be “Sierra-mun.”

 

 

Meet Bill, the crotchety IBM-PC!

Monday, November 28th, 2011

Hey everyone! I hope you guys had a great Thanksgiving Holiday! Mine was filled with getting fat and Christmas songs butchered by Michael Buble.

So, as many of you have already figured out, I love computers. I had been scouting sites like Craig’s List and eBay for older computers that ran earlier versions of Dos, that still functioned properly. Preferably, I wanted a system I could play my old floppy diskettes on, and legitimately play Dos games and maybe incorporate the system into my videos. After much scouring, I found that these systems tend to be very expensive. It makes sense, finding an older system in mint condition is no easy task. In some ways, finding old systems like computers from the early 80s is more difficult than game console collecting. Consoles like Nintendo, Atari..you can still find those if you really wanted one. Finding an old computer that someone hasn’t scrapped proved to be a challenge for me, especially since I am usually on a tight financial rope, so to speak.

And then, a miracle happened!

Completely by fluke, I found this gem in my room mate’s grandpa’s house. It was just sitting there like an old relic, in absolutely beautiful condition. Meet BILL, the old, crotchety IBM-PC!

IBM-PC

Get away from me, you young whipperschnappers.

Beautiful, right? The guy who gave it to me seemed to be surprised that I wanted it. Bill works perfectly, and is in pristine condition. Bill is an IBM-PC 5150 with a 8088 processor. He has two 5.25 inch floppy drives, A and B. There is no hard drive. It runs Dos 3.1, and runs at 4MHz. I am unsure on the ram at the moment, but it is somewhere between 64k and 256K.

This system is quite historic! IBM asked a small company named Microsoft to write the OS for this system. Bill Gates bought the rights to QDos (Quick and Dirty Operating System, you may recall hearing about this in my DosBox video) and modified it to create PC-Dos (later, MS-Dos) for this model. It also came with a higher end monitor which displays CGA graphics. This system was made in 1981, making Bill 30 years old. Originally, this model, when it came out, would have ran someone $3005. Which by today’s standards, is about $7200. If you search for this system, it still runs about 700-800 dollars. I am very lucky to have gotten mine for free, otherwise Bill would have been sent to the scrap yard.  I named him after my late father, even though my father wasn’t very crotchety.  Bill, I assume, is up there in years and is very grumpy.  His floppy disk drive makes distinctively cranky noises.

Running Reader Rabbit

 

I don’t have many 5.25 floppies hanging around, however, I plan to invest on getting it a 3.5 inch floppy drive so I can write some of my old games onto 5.25 floppies, and run them.  I did happen to have Reader Rabbit lying around, so I popped that into the B drive, and it worked perfectly.  Oh, the CGA glory!  How I love thee, purple, cyan, white and black!

If anyone has any 5.25 inch floppy disks they might want to get rid of, please let me know and I will gladly take them off your hands!

Bill is a wonderful find and I couldn’t be more excited.  The best way to find old systems is to ask older family members if they had a system and kept one.  Look around, and you might be able to score one for free!

More information on Bill as me and my room mate mess around with him.  Hopefully, I will be able to run King’s Quest 3 on it and relive my childhood.

 

Revenge of the Nerd

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

When I was in second grade, all I wanted was a new computer. My aunt had an old tandy, green text on black screen and everything, which she gave to me. I played a lot of Treasure Mountain (400 LEVELS OF THE SAME THING THAT DOESN’T PROGRESS IN DIFFICULTY AW YEAH). With the arrival of CD-Roms and Soundblaster however, I wanted a computer where I could play these up-and-coming TALKING games. So I begged and begged, and a couple Christmas’s later, I got my computer, complete with creative labs CD-Rom and a package of games that would make any retro gamer pee their pants.

It came with Doom. It was so cool.

I decided my new computer was amazing. I loved it. It could play games, I could write papers on it, it had Windows 3.1, which I was personally amazed by because previously, I had been using DOS computers, AND it had that RADICAL MS-Paint program that I could paint really stupid portraits of myself in. COOOOOOOOL.

In my amazement, I decided to write a paper on my new toy. It was for either 2nd or 3rd grade if I recall correctly. I don’t remember the exact time, I just have the visual in my head of reading my paper out loud to the class. The subject of the paper was to be “The best thing I received for Christmas.” So I wrote this completely in depth paper about my computer. How it had Windows 3.1. How it had a CD-ROM. How soundblaster was new, and that my games could talk. I was a very passionate 8 year old.

I spoke my words proudly and eagerly. And when I was done, the clique of snobby girls sitting diagonal from me laughed. And then I realized that I had ostracized myself from my fellow students for the rest of the year. And even the rest of my time spent in elementary school. Being a “nerd” or any form of “computer geek” was the worst thing you could be when I was growing up. It wasn’t accepted as being cool like it is today. No, when I was growing up, my friends of the female persuasion would rather involve themselves in the exciting, fast paced worlds of boy bands. And jewelry. And sometimes shoes. I hate shoes. Eventually I got tired being a nerd and ran amuck through my high school years, resulting in me getting thrown out of public school. ….But that is really a story for another day. *coughISortOfThreatenedThePrincipalcough*

It blows my mind that “nerdy” things have become such a trendy thing. Now we have websites devoted to selling geek swag. It’s COOL to be a nerd. You WANT to know about things like Star Wars, Back to the Future, Computers, iPhones, programming. Man, I’m COOL now. And because I actually teach students technology based subjects at my job, I’m even MORE COOL. Students depend on me because I have the upper hand. I HAVE POWER. ….sorry.

But then I thought, is being a nerd cool because people actually find it cool? Or is it more of a matter that technology has become so useful, that people depend on nerds? I teach students of all ages and from all kinds of different backgrounds. I constantly get young girls coming in with their iPhone. Young, teenage girls who are fresh out of high school, and honestly don’t have a clue, and for the most part are required to take *some* form of computer course just to complete their core. These girls do not care about learning the computer. But they DO care that their iPhone is working properly, so they depend on us computer dorks, programmers, and hardware gurus to make their everyday accessories work. Now, for the most part, I get students who love learning. But every now and then I get those bratty, spoiled types who could care less about what they have the opportunity to learn. Apathetic as they are, they are not like the girls who made fun of me in elementary school. They respect people who have the upper hand.

I think another reason being a nerd has become so accepting over the last 15 years or so, is the fact that video games have become more popular than ever. And good video games require good programmers, good designers, good artists, and because games have become so lush and cinematic over time, it’s something everyone can get into. Unless you are one of those gals who break their boyfriends PS3s in a giant butthurt fit then uploads it on youtube. Man, I hate that.

I remember being young and being ridiculed for liking the computer games that I played. Now I hop online, claim to like video games, and all of a sudden I am some hot commodity for having girl parts, and enjoying games. It’s absolutely insane the way things have changed. It’s pretty nice not having to worry about getting picked on for having been a huge nerd in the past. I mean, that’s what my obsession with the Monkees is for. Pick on that, for cripes sake.

Some things never change, however. The other day I taught a girl who wore pants that read “juicy” on the butt. I was teaching her Microsoft Excel. She didn’t understand something, so she just outright laughed and called it stupid. Nobody laughed with her.

Tell Me What You Want, What You Really Really Want

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Everyone wants things.  I want things!  I want a ton of things.  I am going to write a list of things I want.

First of all, this painting by Renoir.  I *love* this painting.  Now, I never had a great relationship with my mother.  It is what it is, basically.  We love each other, and sometimes we see eye to eye, but for the most part, we like to keep a healthy distance.  This painting, however, sends me back in time to when I was a little girl and my mom was my best friend.  The painting isn’t so much some brush strokes on a canvas as it is a snapshot of when things were less dramatic.
Plus, it’s damned pretty.

I have to admit…those little girls eyes stare right into your soul, BURNING your BRAIN with her demonic little girl orbs of sizzling EVIL and — eh?  Oh.  Sorry.

Little girls just make everything more creepy.  ….Why did I want this painting again?  Or, right, the completely sincere excerpt I wrote not two minutes ago.  My bad.

I want a domesticated fox.   Wondering what to get me for Christmas?   Think I’m a tough buy?  Well I have solved all of those issues by asking for a pet fox.

How can you possibly resist that!?!  Foxes of any breed have got to be one of the cutest animals on the planet (right next to moose.  They’re so dopey).  If I get one, I could name it Tails! Because I am not completely lame and unoriginal like that.  I really don’t have much more to say on that matter.  I would probably be just as thrilled with a puppy, to be honest.  Any kind of cuddly animal thing I can cuddle at night would be great.  (Please don’t dress up as a fox and offer to cuddle me.  I’ll know the difference.)

I also want A LOVER WHO WON’T DRIVE ME CRAZY! Some girl who knows the meaning of ah- HEY HIT THE HIIIGHWAY!

….Dear god, did I just quote John Mellencamp?  …I……I’m sorry.  I don’t know what came over me, there.
To be completely honest, I’ve been wondering a lot about the concept of “open relationships”, and how they suit peoples life styles.  The fact of the matter is, I have become utterly too independent for my own good.  Not saying this is a bad thing (ALL THE WOMEN WHO ARE INDEPENDENT, THROW YOUR HANDS UP AT MEEEH), because independence and taking care of yourself is very important.  I enjoy being a loner type, not needing a relationship, paying for my own dinner (well, maybe not paying for my own dinner so much..) and spending a nice quiet evening on my couch playing some forgotten tome of a game.  On the other side of the fence we have my desire for….uh…physical relations.  And why not?  Sex drives us much like food and work drives us.  A completely human need.  It’s fairly hard for me to simply sleep with someone I don’t know anything about of course.  For me, physical appearance only comes into play AFTER I’ve been exposed to their personality.  If I’m not attracted to that, chances are physical attraction isn’t going to happen.  Unless you are Daryl Hall.  I don’t know him, but I love him.

….Daryl…..

*Cough* Anyways.  Open relationships never appealed to me directly, but in my own struggles with the idea of relationships, being tied down, and wanting affection without commitment, I can understand WHY they appeal to others.  I can’t quite grasp how people can maintain calm composure, and not feel pangs of jealousy throughout the situation.  Maybe people hide those to avoid messy confrontation with whoever they are dating.  Maybe I am over analyzing the idea, but I am curious about other people’s experiences.  If you’ve had experience with open relationships, leave a comment in the comment box, and even if you haven’t, what’s your theory on them?  Why or why don’t they work?

You know, I think what I really want is to just go out to dinner.  All this thinking about shit I want is making me hungry.  Time for some left over chili, baby!  With oyster crackers.  WERD.