April 9: F**king off in style

Use at least 1500 500 words to describe your favorite way(s) to waste time. Your time-waster cannot produce anything useful.

This one is a big challenge because it comes with a minimum word requirement instead of a maximum.  I might just fail at this, only because I have a shit-ton of other things to do today besides this.

So, my biggest time-waster (that isn’t actually a time-waster, but kind of is) is clicker games.

Crank

I was playing one recently, Crank, that has no tutorial, no guide, and yet is a weirdly compelling story.  You have to hold down the left mouse key to turn the crank in order to make power.  With that power, you make scrap metal, and with the scrap metal, you can make more cranks, crankbots to crank for you, batteries to story your energy, and more and more complex things.  You have to research your technologies and upgrade them accordingly, working towards maximum efficiency and energy production.

But, as you move around the (limited space) galaxy, you run into weird little fuzzy spots, and they have pieces of a message.  You have to decrypt them – they come in a specific order – and then they tell a bit of backstory.  You build up your tech to be able to decrypt, to beat the raiders and other enemies, and to destroy the station bases in each system.  When you beat a system’s base station, you can set up a factory to make you more materials.

I had it kind of running in the background while I was doing other things, and I found that it actually improved my productivity.  Well, having “fidget games” in general improves my focus, I think.  I’m not sure why that is, but it’s working for me.  I think I was playing it for a few weeks before I found the “final answer”, including restarting it at least once.  I will probably play it again eventually.

ClickerHeroes

This one is pretty popular, I think.  ClickerHeroes is available in your browser (that’s where I play it), through Steam as a free game, and on your mobile device.  For all that it refers to clicking, I tend to think the most effective way to play it is with an “idle-property build”.

So, you click on the monster to get gold.  You buy Hero upgrades with the gold.  The more gold you have, the more heroes you can buy and the more you can upgrade those heroes.  The heroes also come with special powers that you purchase as they level up.  Some improve your click damage, and some (most) improve your DPS.

You get a number of different ways to power up, too.  You’ve got achievements for a wide variety of things, from number of monsters to amount of gold collected.  You can purchase Ancients that grant you extra powers, like increasing DPS or gold when idle (no clicks for 60 seconds) or extending the time of activated click powers.  Those special activated powers improve gold collection, critical hits, and overall damage.  Then there are Relics which boost the powers of Ancients, even if you don’t have any.  So, if I have a relic that gives me a boost to, say, the Ancient of Silver (10x gold drops), but I haven’t actually purchased that Ancient, the bonus still counts as though I do have it.  You also get Mercenaries who do things like collect extra gold, collected extra rubies, or activate skills.

Your main purpose is to collect Hero Souls so that after you “Ascend” (restart the game), you are starting with extra boosts.  You buy and power up the Ancients with Hero Souls as well, but that also takes away your overall damage when you spend those souls – it’s 10% for every soul you retain.

For all that it’s a game where you basically do absolutely nothing – there’s no skill, though maybe a little calculation – there’s a lot going on.  There are different concepts for how to create your build (which Ancients to buy and power up, how best to advance your levels), and when you’ve reached the pinnacle of your accomplishment, you can do something called “Transcend”, which is an Ascension on steroids:  It resets the ENTIRE game – so no Ancients, no Hero Souls, no Relics – except for your purchased auto-clickers and rubies, and you start over.  Except this time, you have access to Transcendent Ancients and their powers, which are even more badass than the regular Ancients.

And then there’s the puns.

April 8: What’s to worry?

Describe something you’re currently worrying about and imagine how it gets resolved involving a mythical beast, limit 1000 words.

It’s kind of obvious, but I’m mostly worried about Daniel right now.  His surgery is in eleven days (from the posting of this entry), and it’s a big one.  It’s major brain surgery, and while that’s kind of an obvious “well, duh” thing to worry about… I don’t know.  I can’t shake a bigger feeling.

And trust me, I’ve tried.  I’m tapping almost daily on obsessing over his death, over his recovery time, over the changes that will happen if he lives through the surgery… I want to be pleasantly surprised, but not remembering how to walk is common.  Having wholesale personality changes is common.  Being someone else when he comes out of rehab is common.

I don’t want someone else, I want my son.  I can’t let myself be selfish enough to want my-son-like-he-was-before, my son who sang the ABC song and was learning basic math at two years old.  That would be unnecessarily cruel.  I do want my smiley boy who crushes my cheek in his hugs and plays “cookie, no cookie” on the way home and develops new repeating games every day.

If I could call on any mythical creature to help, it would be a Caladrius, a bird said to be able to take the sickness or disease away from a person and get rid of it altogether.  At the same time, maybe I need a Unicorn that can cure any ailment.  Or maybe I need the centaur Chiron, who traveled the world and collected all the wisdom of the medicines in an effort to save himself.

And maybe none of that would work because this is just how he’s supposed to be.  Maybe there was never going to be any other child than the one we have now, and nothing went “wrong”, it just caught up.

I know that sounds dour and sad, but as an autie – someone who is frequently identified as being “disabled” or “broken” – I would be crushed to not be an autie suddenly.  I do not have a disease, I am merely another type of human.

The epilepsy, though.  Any of those beasts should be able to fix the epilepsy.

April 7: Cheaters Never Prosper

Is cheating an ender for a relationship? State your actual view in the first sentence, limit 20 words, and then spend 500 words defending the opposite view.

I define “cheating” as doing something outside of the negotiated intimacy of your relationship. Could be movies, could be penis.

Alternate view:

When you love someone, you want whatever makes them happy.  If they need to stay up to date on that show you guys normally watch together while you finish the dishes, big deal!  They probably aren’t watching it without you just to be mean, right?

That same open-handed giving relationship should cover all of their needs and wants.  If you never declare something off-limits, they can’t really be counted as cheaters, can they?  Of course not!  Think about whatever they do on a case-by-case basis to avoid bias.  You don’t want to be judgmental or mean.  So, maybe they get a blow job in the bathroom at the club.  They have needs, right?  And you weren’t there to perform, were you?  No, you were in the other bathroom, unable to deliver.

If you have no limitations on your relationship, if you have no agreements or expectations to start with, you can’t cheat!

April 6: No charge for awesomeness, or attractiveness

What are your most attractive qualities? Describe them as a separate character, limit 500 words.

She wasn’t classically beautiful, but she had a kind of pretty that came from smiling too much and laughing too loud.  Someone once said that her eyes were always sad, no matter how gleeful the rest of her was.  Perhaps that was true, but it wasn’t something that she had any intention of changing – she’d earned her tears, fair and square.  She was short, a little on the thin side, and she would sit for hours, listening to other people – but only when they weren’t looking.  When she had your attention, she would spin tales and tell stories, seeking to entertain and justify every moment you spent with her.

She always made room at the table, no matter how little she started with.  “There’s always ways to stretch it, if you’re hungry.”  She was the kind of lady that put off replacing a worn-out pair of jeans so that she could buy a new monitor for her son’s friend, since he didn’t have a computer at all.  She made every excuse in the book to not get mad at someone, to understand their perspective, because it made her feel tired to be angry all the time.

And when she found something or someone that quieted her mind, that kept her from thinking of a thousand things at once, she held onto it and defended it with her life.

April 5: Get off my LAN!

Pretend you are a grumpy old codger. Write a letter to the newspaper about something trivial that irritates you.

To the Editor:

Kids these days, they don’t know the value of things.  They have this self-entitled attitude, going to the Starbucks for the wifis that they get for free, thinking that they have a right to all the wifis everywhere.  It’s a disgrace to those of us who put our hard-earned pensions into personal infrastructures.

Who do these punks think they are?  They’re trying to save weevils or make widget businesses or overthrow governments on free wifi, where’s the self-respect in that?  You know who really likes free wifi?  HACKERISTS.  Those dirty nasty virus makers always use the free wifis to send out their death threats to all the nuclear power plants and desalination stations.  How do we know all these punk kids aren’t doing the same thing.

Businesses should shut down the free wifis or start charging for them, level the playing field with those of us actually pay for our internets.  They think they’re so special, getting their 5mips down.  Back in my day, we had to download our porn on a 14.4k baud modem, sweating for hours while it loaded, praying our parents didn’t come in and see the half-rendered naked booty.  These kids can’t appreciate the stress that we went through to earn our internets.

Sincerely,

A Codgey Old Grump