December 31, 2008


Oh, hello there. Upon this plague-infested...

...oh, bother, why bother with the description. HAPPY NEW YEAR"S EVE, ALL YOU CRAZY READERS!

...seriously, why my readership's been going up is way beyond me...


December 29, 2008

Oh, Just go Jump off a Cliff

I finished Shadow Puppets recently.

It's good.

Really good.

One aspect of why it was good?

Quite simply, the protagonist killed the antagonist. Not in much of a fair fight, either. Er. In the protagonist's favor, by the way.

What's the big deal? How many heroes from other books have done this? Oh, bother, I already had about three examples set up from movies, instead...

Anyway, I think the number is pretty little. People don't seem to care enough to take preemptive action against pathelogical killers. Examples? Spider Man. Ok, the enemies in these three almost all either came to their deaths by their own hands, or heroically died carrying a certain large mass of energy into a highly undisclosed river. Why is it undisclosed? Look, I'm not the one witholding information. It's Marvel or something. Blame them.

Sorry, but, yes, the other two of mine are examples from superhero movies.

Batman. He's never killed anybody intentionally, to stop future acts of murder and other evil. He didn't kill the Scarecrow, he didn't kill the Joker, and I don't think he's going to kill any of the other fine gentlemen who will, at one time or another, cross his path. Two-Face? One, I'm personally not sure he's dead, and, two, that was an act to prevent murder just split seconds after Batman found out the certain person would be killed. Hardly preemtive.

Superman? Urgh. I forgot. I don't know him too well. Anyway, he's usually (in the cartoons) had to fight robots, clones, or strangely strong men who have really, really lame nicknames. He gets shot a bunch, all the bullets bounce all over the place, he bashes the guys up a bit, flies off with LL, and...

Anyway. That last example was really not a good one...

So...go jump off a cliff. No, I'm not addressing you, my readers.

Anyhow, thanks, OSC, for authoritatively creating a Bean who'd just kill a guy like that.

Emotions are dangerous. That may sound off-topic or something, but I had to say it.

Your confused, sinful, and all-around depressed writer,


December 26, 2008

Tower Defense. Times Five.

Some of you may have noticed, in recent days, that us Bertilsons, or some of us, anyway, have been playing games, the names of which probably only lead you into confusion. Anyway, I've decided to compile a small list of the ones we most play.

I'm not sure which we came across first, but it was probably either...

Desktop Tower Defense 1.5 (

 This game has been fun for a long time, but I've found some others that I like more now than this. Also, there's the more recent version of DTD, v.
DTD 1.9 (

Another fine game we came across was Flash Element Tower Defense, AKA FETD. I think it was originally based off Warcraft or something. The graphics are, on the large part, unscalable, which means that, when downloaded and played full-screen in Firefox or something, it looks fairly deplorable. Still, we do it quite often.
Flash Element Tower Defense 1.0 ( )

The sequel to that, FETD 2.0, is much better, but both Kongregate and The Casual Collective have started the really, really annoying habit of making their .SWFs only playable online. (this applies to DTD 1.5 and 1.9, also) Much better graphics. I think they're scalable, but that doesn't matter any more, does it?

FETD 2.0 (

Last, but not least, as everyone seems to like to say, Onslaught 2.2. This game has a capability which I haven't found in any other game, and it's just, well, for lack of a better word, cool. In Onslaught, you can modify the damage a tower inflicts, the range it can inflict it at, and the rate at which it inflicts it...all this,
individually. Yes, I mean that, if I want, I can have a tower that can reach basically across the map and does fairly little damage, or a tower that can inflict a huge amount of damage at low range, and a tower that can inflict many iterations of damage...

Anyway. I hope you get it, because, aside from fairly worthless graphics, it's one of the coolest flash games I've ever played.

Onslaught 2.2 (

This one, too, cannot be played offline, but, if you find the .swf in the page source like I did in the picture, you'll be able to play it full-screen...while you're online.

Flash games are amazing. There are others I've enjoyed more than these ones, but these are probably the ones that require the most thought. *coughs*

Your ever brain and eyeball-rotting reporter,


December 25, 2008

Hit the Sack?!

Ok, so I've left you alone for nearly ten days. I feel ashamed. Nonetheless, I have more than an adjective-beriddled apology.

Yes, it's true. I only wake up to alarms on Christmas Day. For months recent, my talent in this admirable ability has decreased to near nil, so that, in recent days, you wouldn't find me out of bed until after ten, at least. 

My solution? I have none. 

But I do sort of have some advice when it comes to waking up to your alarms. I think it might actually work without your alarms. Actually, all that should be in the first person, as I've only had one friendly confirmation which wasn't overly clear. Anyhow.

How I usually go about it is to anticipate the next day. If I don't, as would happen on a school day, I'm only up once the Sun's almost half ready to hit the sack. Then, when I wake up, the clock looks nice and kind to you (me). Er, excuse me. It looks like you just hit a brick wall. Meaning a clock pointing sort of down instead of sort of to the right makes people want to hit the sack even harder, with diminished hope of actually doing the sack any harm.


This is the one reason why I really hate starting to watch movies in the late afternoon to early evening.

Oh. Some other news. I finished Ender's Game a while ago, then Ender's Shadow more recently, and I'm hacking away at Shadow Puppets. I think this order is reasonable and good, so far as I've gone. I actually like Ender's Shadow more than Ender's Game...but I think this is mainly because Ender's Game had an ending which was sort of blearily depressing. (refer to The Light at the End of the Tunnel for a totally worthless analogy)

Now that I think a little more, I like Ender's Shadow more than, so far, Shadow Puppets.
Oh, yes. There is a fairly large dose of bad language scattered throughout the series, but I think Ender's Shadow had the most.

The writing is really good, the plot is really good, but I sort of don't get why he's writing more after the, hem, guys are defeated. It's sort of like they mopped the floor of the little dirt, but there are some big boulders every here and there, and they don't have the dynamite yet.

I had some id...Oh. Yeah. I think I'll be posting sooner after this than before...

Oh, well. Merry Christmas! And Happy New Year, soon enough!


December 16, 2008

Some Random Software Recommendations

If I'm correct, everything in this list is entirely free, and a good portion of them are open source.
(if you don't already know what open source means, Wikipedia is your friend)

1. Inkscape. ( This is a free, open source program for scalable vector graphics (.svg) creation and editing. It holds one of the highest ranks among all the software I have. I use it frequently, and the amount you can do with it is, to say the least, satisfying.

2. Blender. ( This is a free, open source program in which you can create 3D objects. There's tons more it can do, including movie sequencing, but I haven't got into such stuff much.

3. The GIMP. (GNU Image Manipulation Program, This is basically an advanced image editing program. There are so many things you can do in the GIMP that numbering them is not unlike numbering the stars. Frequently cited as an alternative to Photoshop. Free, open source, again.

4. VLC. ( (not videoland, videolan)) This is a multimedia player. The number of file types this single program can play is astounding. I'm pretty sure no other media player comes close. I haven't found out how to make a permanent media library in it, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was possible. You can also play DVDs right out of the box. (oh, yes. Out of the box with all the other file types, too)

5. Google Chrome. ( A fine web browser. Not a whole lot to be excited about, in my opinion, but I've gotten so that I dislike Firefox by comparison. If that says anything, happy day. I've been told that it's open source, but I'm not sure. It's free for sure, though.

6. Audacity. ( An audio editor with a lot of capabilities. Free, open source, again.

7. Picasa. ( The best photo organizer I've ever used. This doens't say a whole lot, considering I've only used two or three, though. Not open source, I think, but free.

8. LDraw. ( Free program for Lego CAD. Parts aren't all there, and, as I recall, LDraw's part development slowed down dangerously around 2005.

9. ( Free, open source word processor. New version 3.0 released 
very recently. I've been annoyed with its install size, but it's got to be big, I think.

10. Yo Frankie. ( Free, open source game. Made in Blender. With Blender, you can make your own levels fairly easily and, with some difficultly, new characters. Works better with higher-end graphics card, but can run fairly well on low settings on, in my case, a GeForce 5600 XT.

11. Google Earth. ( Free globe explorer type thing. I find it enjoyable to look for uninhabited islands which I might decide to go off and live on.

12. Glest. ( Goodness, I wonder why I didn't put this higher. Anyhow, it's free, open source. It's a low-poly RTS game, basically, with constant development. There's also the Glest Advanced Engine, which adds a good bunch of helpful additions which aid half-dead AoE I/II nerds.

I hope some of these will end up in talented hands and do some good in the world of insanely useful software.

Your endlessly procrastinating, totally depraved, and in all other ways, sinful reporter,


December 05, 2008

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

This phrase has ended up, in my brain, to be quite useful, if not liked. It's quite useful if you meddle with it a bit, so that...

Christianity. Millions believe there's a light at the end of the tunnel. We believe it, yet we can't see it, touch it, hear it, smell it, or taste it. It's sort of like someone placed an infared or ultraviolet light at the end, so we can't see it. Yet we believe it's there. We have hope, yet, (excluding logical reasoning and such), no reason for it.

A Series of Unfortunate Events. Today, I thought of the main characters of ASoUE (I don't care to spell out their name, thank you very much) running down a tunnel, to a light which they could see, but the author had a switch to and decided to turn off just seconds before the trio got to it. Then, they, with eternal hope and optimism, found a (the) switch and switched it back. Then they repeated the thing over and over.

Ender's Game. This book was very, very good. It was gripping, though, for some reason, I put it down more, I think, for that very reason. The end, though, was much like this. They lived. Ever after. But leave out the happily bit. For reasons mainly leaving information undisclosed from the reader, that's all I'll say. In my mind, it's like the main character found that there was no light at the end of the tunnel, and decided to start looking for it.

Books these days are so strange. I hope mine isn't anything like them. I want you to laugh. I want you to cry. But I don't want you to get depressed. I don't want to leave you thinking there's any chance that there isn't a light at the end of the tunnel.

But, then, when I look at it from the outside, that seems to mean I've got to give up plans of killing off Jack...

Your confused, sinful, and non-generically blockheaded reporter and writer,


Best Friends

It has bothered me for a while how some people refer to the best and the brightest of their friends, for lack of a more illustrious and exciting word. More than frequently, a certain friend will be referred to as "best". I find this, first, degrading to all other friends the person has, whether or not they hear the statement...two, er...two...naw. Never thought of a two.


I also find it profusely annoying when husbands and wives call each other best friends. Shouldn't marriage be so much farther above mere friendship?

If your wife should be your best friend, why shouldn't it be Jesus, or God instead? Just taking Jesus, he's done a billion times (and many more) what any of your other friends (aye, even spouses) will manage to in their entire life!

But, then, now that I think about it, how many friendships are formed merely because one or both parties have given up their lives for each other?

Not many, I guess.

I, personally, refrain from using the superlative when it comes to humans. Actually, I've been somewhat well set against grading movies too. In a comparative scale, that is. Judge movies alone, with no intent to judge them against others, and I think I'm happy. But, then, since when has anybody's goal in life to make me happy? *grabs Uzi and glares around*

Anywho, thanks, all ye good friends of mine. You've obviously made my past greater than I could alone, and ensured my future to be something to anticipate with either bated breath or fearing whatever. Thanks to you, I've a greater chance of being killed in a car accident, walking under ladders, seeing black cats over my left shoulder, and so much more.

Oh, yes. I perfer to refer to friends as "very good" or, "good friend(s)".


December 02, 2008

Ketchup (Completed Ch. 2 and beginning of Ch. 3)

And once again...I give you the chapter and the first suspenseful paragraphs of the third chapter.

2. No Control Freak

At the fourth floor, Jack entered the elevator. At the lobby, a short UPS delivery man came out.
Alright, alright. You got me. He's Jack. But so what? It makes for a sleek story. Anyway.
Jack easily exited the building without any trouble whatsoever. His tongue even decided to project itself in the direction of a security camera. Everyone knows such behavior is entirely normal and ordinary.
The sad thing is that he forgot to cover up the signature he had traced on the back of his backpack with a glow-in-the-dark, neon-green Sharpie. In a blindingly bright shade of green, it stated clearly,

Jack Walker Rabbit (this is meant to be in a handwriting-like font, but Blogger has none such)

Several thousand miles away, on a deserted desert island, a large array of high-resolution LCDs, the video played back in slow motion. A man sat in a large chair adorned with many different animal skins. On the front, there seemed to be zebra, tiger, jaguar, as well as a small skin on the top, who, considering the twin, long ears pointing from its head, would be well judged to be a rabbit, or, more precisely, and, I'm afraid, intrusively, on your happy readership, I enlighten you with the intriguing truth that it is, in fact, a jackrabbit skin. Oh, yes. The man. Well, he looked very sinister, mainly because the light of twelve LCDs has an all-around zombifying effect on anyone who sits in front of them, excepting those so adorned with blood so as to make them look like zombies anyway. These cases have proved to be rather rare, as the amount of zombies in the world has decreased so drastically over the last several decades.

Outside of the elevator, Jack walked unhindered out of the hospital. He frowned. Things were so boring these days. You used to have well-trained thugs jump on you from the top of two-story buildings. This was a rather odd technique, but it worked. The sad thing was that few people had large squads of tough men willing to jump off of two-story buildings. For this reason, Jack's life had been a bit of a bore for several months. Considering he was only fourteen, he had a lot left to see, but he was fairly well prepared. He sighed and continued walking away from the hospital.
He was also thinking about being shot. And where the bullet was. But that's about all I, as author, am willing to tell you, the reader, about what he was, or what he was not thinking about at that time.
For now.
Anyway, he was thinking about how on earth he could have not cleared a dumpster so small that, by comparison to some of the ones he'd cleared, was merely a bump in the road. Ok, maybe I'm exaggerating a bit here, but I'm the author here, okay?
Now. As Jack grabbed his bike, which, for some reason, was sitting right outside the hospital, when, actually, he had left it about eight miles north of there in a place quite ruined by poverty. He had “lended” it to a man who claimed quite convincingly that he needed a bike to drive to the liquor store. Jack had, at that time, found this extremely interesting, and set the GPS in his bike to track the man. As it turned out, the man biked to a liquor store. Once there, however, he attempted to rob the place. Being an avid redneck, the store owner scared the man so badly that he didn't even bother to gather the bike. Thankfully, as always happens in such idiotic spy TV shows before now, the bike could “ride” itself. The one problem is that it terrified the northern population of the city, which, by and large, was poor. Word soon circulated that there, “was a witch in town”. I, the author, don't in the least deny that adding a witch at this time would “spice” things up a bit, but this is meant to center on Jack. This means, of course, that Jack actually being self-centered seems rational. I, as author, deny it, and leave it at that.
Ah, yes. Jack was on his bike, riding down a street. He was quite calm, despite the fact that his computer, back in his backpack, was going haywire because police cars were converging on his current location at speeds varying from sixty to one-hundred miles per hour. His computer knew things like this because he made it to. Sadly, he was already going at more than fourty miles per hour, so getting out his laptop and stopping it from sending crazy signals to his brain which were hardly understandable anyway was entirely out of the question.

Upon crossing an intersection at speeds which would make Lance Armstrong faint, Jack finally did turn on his rockets. And then he started to move really fast. Now, today, people seem to relate the word "fast" to their car, or some other means of transportation. Not to bikes. I think the average person doesn't know how fast Lance Armstrong has gone. No matter. I can assure you, though, that, if he wanted to, Jack could have outstripped the Concorde. Only here, he merely had to outstrip several police cars which were converging now, at a point several blocks ahead of him. His computer had calculated the trajectories of all the cars at one-hundred and ten percent of their actual speeds, assuring no police would come to harm. Jack firmly believed that brining people to harm was wrong. Taking this belief into account, he calculated the probability to damage of all things of the city to be wonderfully decreased if he merely increased his altitude by at least twenty feet. This he did without so much as a "click", though, honestly, "click" doesn't even describe what people usually use "click" to describe, i.e. It's as easy as CLICK, and you're hooked up to the biggest financial difficulty the nation has to be in distress over! Anyway, he, being the all-around technological genius that he is, had already integrated mind-computer control so all he had to do was think something which would tell the computer to tell the bike to increase the altitude of the bike to X. X is a variable, for your information. Not to be trifled with.
Jack totally missed the police cars and vaporized a good portion of a dense oak tree. Dense here means that it was “having the component parts closely compacted together”, not “stupid; slow-witted, dull”. Because of this, Jack's flight pattern, if it must be called that, was quite changed. He was, by resisting the gravity of Earth, going up. In going up, people feel a strange feeling. They start barfing, in extreme situations. I, the author, assure you that Jack has a stomach which seldom decided to eject it's contents. However, Jack really did have to try hard not to eject it this time. This time, he not only kept his stomachfull, but also regained his balance and some of his common, everyday composure. However, a common, everyday composure is quickly decomposed when one is decidedly rocketed through clouds, and, consequently, drenched. I, the author, acknowledge that the scientific accuracy of this entire story is based in as much fact as it takes to validate the existence of mosquitoes when near water on a good, Minnesotan summer day. As such, I maintain the fact that Jack was, in fact, drenched, when he came out of the top of that cloud.

Thankfully enough, his entire electronic system was perfectly waterproof and was unharmed, as such. However, he was further knocked off course because his vision. By the time he could see where he was going, the gravitational pull on him had decreased noticeably. Jack blinked several times, muttered, "I didn't know it could do that," and continued downward. Now, when people go down, they gain velocity. Velocity is speed over distance. I think. And gaining speed over distance is acceleration. Therefore, I, the author, can say, with some certainty, that Jack was accelerating.

Now, under some circumstances, acceleration is good. For instance, when you're pointing away from gravity's pull and have a good force propelling you away from the said. However, when you're accelerating in a direction not opposed to gravity, you eventually either gain such velocity that you don't hit our dear planet, or you do. I haven't had the opportunity to investigate this thoroughly, but I think it's true. You either hit something, or don't hit something, in instances when you're accelerating directly at it. In this rare case, Jack just managed not to hit that which he was originally pointed at. Instead, he found himself flying straight at a battered American flag. As you can see, Jack doesn't have a lot of luck. This might have to do with the fact that he accidentally burned his rabbit's foot, upturned and melted his horseshoe, walked under few more ladders than there are people in the United States, and, to top it all of, saw so many black cats over his left shoulder that, if proportion maintains sway in this situation, he ought to have suffered for the two years of his life which he had, so far, had to himself. As it was, he was fairly happy, and hadn't encountered much suffering of any consequence.

This being said, he did happen to be flying at an American flag. For the twentieth time. For this reason, jack said, "Probability rockets. Blast," after which he managed, as always, to miss the flag. By this time, he had managed to decrease his velocity to a speed entirely manageable. With direction under control, Jack returned to his home.

3. Home

Jack's home was extraordinary, and yet plain. It was a small, abandoned apartment building outside of the main city. To him, it was valuable, not only because such things were rare in his town, but because he did, in fact, call it home. He lived alone, yet he had several pets which were quite good for him.
The apartment that he primarily lived in was fairly large, and, over the years, had become as well-furnished as any five-star hotel would be. In the manner of such, there was, at a certain place, a large screen TV. However, Jack had, with his own hands, made it. It was a few feet across and seemed to have a very large block of wood behind it. For your woefully uniformed readership, I'll reveal it's purpose quite simply. It was a computer.
Around this time, I ran out of time describing his house because Jack decided to go find something to eat.
He made scrambled eggs with more minced bacon than any pig could live through seeing. He also had more oil in the pan than would be healthy for just about anyone. However, he'd done this multiple times and wasn't dead yet. That was, in a good bunch of areas, his philosophy for defining what to do. In a good dose of others, though, he put sense and morals into a decision.
In a few minutes, he had some steaming yellowish matter stuffed into a tortilla which could only be home-made. Jack was incredibly industrious.
"Hands up!" a voice said in a voice which couldn't exactly be identified as anything in particular.
"Not with breakfast, Xink. I could use some orange juice, though, thank you," Jack said.
Xink was a computer. Yes, you probably guessed by the time that you read this, that she was the large block behind the screen.
"I don't have any more orange juice, sir," Xink replied in a tone which suggested with almost painful obviousness that it wasn't true.
"Oh, quit your bawling, you great brown blockhead," Jack said mercilessly.
"Yes, mastah," Xink said, sniffling a bit. A clear glass glass full of fresh, cold orange juice popped out of almost nowhere and landed on his table. Sadly, orange juice is fairly transparent, so, me saying his table was splattered with orange liquid would be just plain evil. However, it was true that there was orange juice all over the table. Jack licked the juice off of some of his more reachable areas. Xink sighed, the table was wiped up in a second, and Jack drank his orange juice. He might have drunk it, but I haven't tested the Hangoverer's Guide to Hanging Over with orange juice.
He was drinking his juice when a bullet made a uncannily clean hole through his glass. It also made a bit of noise, but it's most important that it made a clean hole, and that it was remarkably uncanny. Though his expression would convince anyone who didn't know him well that he was totally unbothered by this occurrence, he was rather surprised and slightly worried. He was aware that his bones wouldn't have set perfectly yet, and, for this reason, he didn't enjoy the idea of another bullet in him. Especially outside the main city, where the nearest doctor professed ardently that he was a reincarnated gorilla king. On most occasions this wasn't a problem, thankfully.



Your dear honkin' writer of the third class,