5 of 5

The very best of the take, photographed by Birdy.

Trust me, this just a sampling of some of the truly amazing specimens we were able to recover: Red and Yellow Jasper, Jadeite, Black Agate, Quartz (Amethyst, Amatrine, Citrine, Rose and Smokey), Feldspar and Chalcedony of varying colors.

The bulk of what you see here was recovered at the secret spot in northern Jacumba, CA. The crystal-clear smokey is from the Red Rock Canyon region of the Mojave Desert. We’re just touching the tip of the iceberg here. Just what would photograph well. There are dozens more pieces of Agate and Chalcedony ready to be used as stunning jewelry. The best one ever, right here.

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Concorde

Snapped By my Daddo at an Arizona Airshow in 1988, one of only 20 ever built. Even with an otherwise flawless record in 27 years of service, 1 crash is to many. More then one hundred dead. Decommissioned in 2003, three years later.  A symbol of our cultural decadence, and ultimately, just as flawed.

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I’ve been thinking some about disasters of late. I really really feel itchy inside sometimes, like I’m somewhat expecting something to happen. Soon. I mean, sooner rather than later. I can’t explain it any more then it constitutes radical anxiety. Because that’s all it really is. An itchy, disturbing, prickly feeling that makes me ever-alert for the first disturbances from the ground. I know what should do in case of emergency. That’s not the point.

I feel like it’s looming. That’s all. And scientifically, I am 100% correct. It’s at minimum 180 years past a normal release of tension from the San Andreas. It’s easily been 300 years since anything larger than a 6 hit that area. Pressure has been building for a good long time now. Pressure. Pressure. If it moves just as fast as my fingernails grow, rock is compressing against rock for some nearly unfathomable distance imho, CONSIDERING WE’RE POUNDING TWO SOLID ROCKS TOGETHER. JESUS. Last time I checked, that’s hard to do, and creates pressure. Pressure. I would have like, YARDS of fingernail growth after 300 years, like turning a roll of toilet paper loose across the floor and watching it vanish into the horizon… whhifflewafflecracklsskunchkt… cunk.

Seriously though, we’re fine. Palm Springs, you need to gtfo right now because damn, why did we EVER build a metropolitan area right there? I mean seriously? On alluvial deposits as well? That’s not going to have been a good move for someone, at some point in time in the future. Will I be around to see it? Who knows. Ever see a giant sand wave destroy a city? Ever see a wal-mart disappear to a dirt-nami and be under 70 feet of sand in a few seconds? Yeah, I brought that! DIRT-NAMI, you can quote me.

Needless to say…

I’m still itchy.

Diablo True!

Blizzard Entertainment’s version aside (which was decent, but needed patches before it had any hope of endgame potential), the core of the game has remained the same, roughly, until 1.13 was released. It stopped there for some, but I was determined to see this game back to its grief-enduing, ridiculous, potion-slamming 1234-fests such LAN matches used to be. In my recent memory, you used to be able to die horribly in Hell mode, and thus was done so, many a time, and with glad hearts all the while.  Back then, nostalgically speaking, in the glory days of PUB NIGHT, we used to game for a long time, like, 10 hours straight or more, and into the morning. We’d just go from one to the next. BAM. BAM. With high-fructose corn syrup intakes enough to kill a partially already dead donkey. This digression serves the function of recalling that happy, yet, vulnerable feeling of walking into Diablo’s Throne-room, around 3 am, and slowly coming to realize that the things AROUND him are like six hundred times gooder then you… Aaaaannd I’m dead. Need better portals next time, farther from the fighting. I CAN’T HELP IT, THEY WAS RANGED SORCERERS AND SHIT. I TRIED. No, Morgan, you failed. Thanks Scooter, we wipe. WHAT GOOD ARE YOU MEATHEAD IF YOU CAN’T KILL 600 SORCERERS ON YOUR OWN!!??!! eat it. barbarians rule.

With no portal, so now we have to run naked all the way back and get killed again, and have to run back and then WHICH BODY? GUESS RAPIDLY! Aaaand I’m dead again. FML.

So it would go on, with appropriate levels of free-radical humor and voracious judgment and finally, blame. Ah, good times. In the end, these good times stopped, mostly because we were so elite and well- geared, that even when combined and placed under duress, we prevailed. We dominated, In fact. The game faded from interest, and entered a long dormancy falling prey to graphic irrelevancy.

I had a Diablo II Lord of Destruction Assassin named Venom during these times of plenty. I used the claws, and they ruled. I obliterated everything because of attack speed, and chance to hit procs like +5 Freezes Target, and Hit Blinds Target. They just stood there, and could do nothing as I shattered them, one by one, hurling Phoenix Strike and finishing it with Dragon Claw. Slam, 1, 2, 3, SLAM, 1, ,2, SLAM (Chain Lightning [2] shatters all the things frozen by Sphere of Ice [3]).

That character ceased to be. The original file, the sacred copy, was lost to an A: floppy disk malfunction. Gone forever.

REBORN IN REDEMPTION AND EVEN MORE OUTRAGEOUS POISON DAMAGE!

The newest permutation is that, I wanted to see what class I could exploit to render an insidious flow of damage while still hanging tough with skills that help carnage-reign supreme. I came up with a couple ideas: Paladin, with shields and slamming people. Meh. Lot of talent tree points get wasted on stupid shit. Assassin, yes, fast. Druid, yes, very fast, and gross 2h damage when Fury and Lycenthropy are maxed. But Assassin, ah, your sweet sweet 1h sword speed kept calling out to me: make me a 4 socketed runeword weapon. I Indulged.

Passion

And Venarex was born:

VENAREXSELF

BOOM. Now working her through SHEER COLD’S Perfect Drop Mod (with several other fantastic changes). Namely, Hell mode is AGAIN FUN AND RELEVANT. Even with the best gear possible, best uniques, best runewords, you better bring your fucking A game, and be ready to scramble, and for god sakes, the portals as backups… never… forget…

 

 

 

Buffed with in-class skills only and gear. Where is her attack? It’s gifted by a runeword Passion, and provides both +1 Zeal and +1 Berserk. When combined with skill bonuses from gear, she has level 13 Zeal and level 13 Berserk. You do the math. Let me know what you think. SWORD-AND-BOARD Assassin you say!?! Why yes sir. Thank you may I have another!?!? And we’re going to need that sort of school spirit where we’re going. Because Hell mode Act 2 (with PDM  installed, mind you) is basically impossible. Bugs win. They truly, truly win. KILL EVERY EGG QUICKLY. And hope you like being poisoned. Get used to everything being tinted green. Woot. Anyway, I look forward to having a substantive challenge again, as this modded Hell mode is really fucking hard to solo. Halp meh. I’m good, but I get OWNED on my own. OK. OWNED. Wid dis setup: 4srs.

VENAREXVENAREX1VENAREX2

Parasol-ing

Thin, blue, light.
Heat-remembering daze:
In linked regrets, lament,
Aches old and new–
Stranded towards pain.
The promise of new ways.

In simple tossing–

Hairpin, dropping–
Whimsical day.
Shining bound, blocked anyway.
A colored banner will fly.
Reminiscence’s stare–
The fate of the bold–

And glad, laid bare.

 

Respite from heat!
In toe-dangling strays–
Who cuckolds play at–
Being one with the stream.
Down our roads had heard–

That we’d been gone astray.

All Said and Done…

I’m truly happy inside, because I’m proud of the life I have made for myself. I have, deep within and beyond the murk of anxiety and depression, an ember of growth within my heart BURNS ever on. It drives me forward, to try and get things to be better, stable, safe; constantly improve,  and always “give it your all.” I had a good therapist once earlier this year, and his name was Robert, and he would still be proud of how I am continuing to push forward. I try my hardest, at every opportunity presented to me. I have forever sought to improve my lot, and here I am, trying to forge an independent life, an identity beyond anything I have thus far attempted to nourish and preserve. I’ve given the thing my hardest, most concerted effort to shine on past obstacles and flourish.

I owe my stability, my joviality, my smiles to Jacqueline, my rock. She’s basically saving me, and my puppy-like deterioration into Poopertown (which is a way to put it, I guess). She’s holding us together as I struggle to fight through symptoms, panic attacks, restless nights and intimate frustrations. We’re bonded like bunnies with banana on their foreheads. WORD TO THE LAGOMORPH.

I am so very proud of her, every day, I see her working diligently on her passions, and her interests. She struggles too, and some days are full of stupid customers and frustrating innuendo, coupled with general mismanagement woes. Department of Redundancy Department on hold for you. Line 11. It can spiral, and I hold the line of reason up to bring the reality back into it. Her self-determinative power is truly amazing. I look at how far she came in a year, and I only see her life getting better, and replete with happiness, support and positive reinforced acts of genuine care or love.

Because I love her. INDEED. I love her so much, because she’s admirable and worthy of love of the highest quality. She deserves, so much more then I feel like I can give sometimes. But that’s not why we’re in this; we desire to both understand the plight of being mentally ill, and ride the roller-coaster together. For better comprehension of the nature of the foe, why not trust in someone willing to look RIGHT AT YOU and be your honest assessor, your legit source who you trust most of all? She’s my secret-keeper, with my loyalty and respect well earned. She has my back, even when I don’t.

I hope to keep her example in mind when I struggle with symptoms as I have lately. I see how she tries, and how she succeeds. I honor that as best I can with my devotion, unceasingly rampant lust, flow of warm-feelings, fondness, affection, and unending impregnable slave-like-love. You has my heart. But I’m pretty sure you know all this. I do the best I can to reinforce these feelings regardless, because you should be aware of how your tremors across my languid pond have mixed up the whole situation and made it right again. “For the first time in forever!” We’re becoming a better team as time goes on. Advancement is slow, and importantly, earned.

So, I write this letter of love to you, my Birdy. May my positive thoughts, snuggly-feelings and mushafied perspective find you at some point when you need to be reminded of how I worship the soft side of your pillow. It smells like happiness. Proven.

Larf to the Fu

Woogity woogity woo!

Dawn of War – Soulstorm (Ultimate Apocalypse MOD)

Of all the community-based mods I have tried for the multitude of PC Real-Time Strategy games I’ve played, NONE compare to this one.

The fantastic mod group over at MOD DB/Relicnews forums have been working on this total conversion for years, and are constantly endeavoring to change the mod, it’s gameplay, and innovating new elements, modes and ultimately, strategies for this complex and superb RTS. I can’t tell you enough how fantastic this game is, thanks to their hard work.

In light of this, I’d like to present a few game theories that I have come to develop as a result of playing my talented and constantly adapting foe: Will (Rotz). Because we are always challenging each other, and looking for the advantage, we’ve developed tremendously fun and interesting new strategies for this modded PC game.

-Early Build Order-
To ~1:45

Clearly, the most important phase of the game occurs within the first 3.5 minutes of the game. If your not executing some form of this build order, you’re probably doomed. A solid, consistent plan is key, as future development and progression through the technology tiers is dependent on your ability to execute these initial procedures.

Your going to get 1 builder, and an HQ building which produces 2 units of immediate use: more builders, and an offensive unit (usually a really weak unit, later, completely expendable). Starting sequence looks something like this:

1st builder = 2x to 3x power generators
HQ = 2x offensive unit, 2x builder

1st offensive unit = captures nearby requisition points, which can have listening posts built on them.
2nd offensive unit = goes out to the “middle” somewhere and grabs a strategic point, for line-of-sight and to get some early requisition gain, then works it’s way back grabbing additional points.
Schedule both of these units to cap every requisition point between the middle, and your start location.
Builders = help build the power plants, split 1 off when a post can be built, or split one off if you need a barracks (or pre tier-up building) to advance to tier 1.

-Developmental Build Order-
~2:00 through ~4:30

You should have every point capped, a post on each, and IMMEDIATELY begin upgrading those posts. Just the first upgrade, then stop.
2 offensive units = standing around near the middle providing LOS. They will die. You don’t really care if this happens.
Go to tier 1 right as it’s available. Do not build any additional offensive units yet.
Buy both economic upgrades.
Go to tier 2, still not building any units (they’re going to get dead if built now, and will represent a waste of resources as the game develops).
By the end of this phase, you’re in tier 2, and ready to buy the second set of economic upgrades.

-Combat Readiness and Developing a “Battle-Line”-
From ~5:00 until the end

Part of my game theory is the Battle-Line, or, the point at which your “claimed territory” collides with your opponent’s. For clarification, your ground represents area on the map you believe you can hold if challenged by opposing troops. THis makes the Battle-Line the place where combat, albeit, on several fronts even,  is taking place to contend for said ground. It’s pivotal to success to push this area of contention towards your opponent’s base. Doing so usually results in a win, until you get down to last-minute desperation maneuvers (like scrambling to some secret area to build a new HQ or production building to keep from being eliminated outright), keeping oneself alive at all costs. THis is a good attitude to have. As Commander Peter Quincy Taggart would say: “never give up, never surrender!”

Back to the BO: You’re into tier 3, and rapidly heading to 4 after all available economic upgrades are taken (pending +3). Now, it’s time to queue some powerful units and pummel your opponent’s offensive front. It is at this point that a BL will develop on the map, and collisions of armies will begin taking place. Hopefully, you’ve planned for a solid balance of ranged and melee offensive units. Right? Important to strike a fair-proportion here, because up front units can be considered expendable (in my mind), or, in place with the sole purpose of giving your ranged units some LOS and firepower advantage over whatever your opponent has brought to the battlefield. YOur stuff may die, but so will theirs, and by that time, you’re ranged have control of the BL and can push. Melee-type units should be tough enough to hang in there a while, until the ranged units have done the bulk of the damage, according to this player’s theory, anyway. =)

Now, do upgrading of troop-based technology in instances where it poses some tactical advantage to the units you are mass-producing. Make ONLY the troops you need to have buffed receive technology upgrades. no wasting resources on useless techs.

There is no Build-Order beyond this point, really. It’s up to your own personal strategy to win or lose the fray.

IMPORTANT TIPS:

1. Keep squads reinforced and eqq\uipped with relevant bonus weapons for whatever situational challenge you’re dealing with.  Do this only for squads that are tough enough to hang in while the BL fighting is going on. Do not waste time upgrading low-level units that will perish at the hands of much bigger things. 2. Manage your economy until you get queues rolling, then go all out and build powerful units and basically forget about your economy. If you have to worry about it again, it’s because you’ve lost, and the BL is being pushed your direction.
3. Cap your opponent’s listening posts and strategic locations as they are destroyed/surrendered due to the BL crossing over them. This will damage their economy and make your romp more success than brutal, unwelcome collision.
4. Micro manage your units as you push the BL around. Don’t let anything sit there firing for long. Your opponent will strike down (or should) idle units with targeted attacks, so make sure to scramble things up with lots of MM-ing.

This is the strategy and theory I’ve developed. It’s working so far in my matchups of late. It should vastly differ from yours, which is what makes this game great, am I right? These are suggestions and ideas for debate, not the WAY that if adjusted or digressed from will result in failure. Not at all. GO out there and wing-it! Complex, adaptive and competitive gameplay are all necessary to have a good time challenging your mind and wits in the Ultimate Apocalypse.

“FOR DE DARK GODS!”

The Minstrel In The Gallery – Jethro Tull

The minstrel in the gallery,
Looked down upon the smiling faces.
He met the gazes–
Observed the spaces,
Between the old man’s cackle.
He brewed a song of love and hatred,
Oblique suggestions–
And he waited.
He polarized the pumpkin-eaters,
Static-humming panel-beaters,
Freshly day-glowed factory cheaters,
Salaried, and collar-scrubbing.
He titillated men of action,
Belly-warming–
Hands still rubbing,
On the parts they never mention.
He pacified the nappy-suffering,
Infant-bleating one-line jokers.
T.V. documentary makers,
Overfed and undertakers.
Sunday paper backgammon players.
Family-scarred and women haters.

And he called the band down to the stage–
And he looked,
At all the friends he’d made.