Piecing It Together

As I was packing stuff up, at the end of the workday today, I saw a DVD case in my bag. Why is there a DVD case in my bag?

I looked at the cover: Mad Max: Fury Road.

Then it came back to me. Yesterday, Phillip and I met up at the library before going to dinner at Blue Moon Burgers. We passed by the library’s DVD shelves, saw Fury Road, and decided to borrow it.

I sent Phillip a text message on my way out of my office building: “Ha ha. I forgot I’d checked out Mad Max. It’s still in my bag.”

It turned out that when he got my text message, Phillip had been thinking that we’d borrowed a DVD from the library, but he couldn’t remember what we’d borrowed or what we’d done with it.

Two Books

wp-image-1163311558jpeg.jpgLooking for Alaska, by John Green, is divided into two parts: “Before” and “After”. The first chapter is named “One Hundred Thirty-Six Days Before”. Each following chapter counts down the days, until the last chapter of the first part: “The Last Day”. Then the second section starts with “The Day After”.

Somewhere around “One Hundred Days Before”, I was loving the book, but also having misgivings about it. It was reminding me a little too much of Paper Towns – also by John Green.

Looking for Alaska was published in 2005, and Paper Towns was published in 2008, but I read Paper Towns over a year ago, so from my frame of reference, it came before Looking for Alaska.

In both books, the protagonist is a high school aged, nerdy boy with few friends. Both stories center around an attractive girl who is close and yet distant – not a romantic possibility. Both girls are mysterious rebels, with a talent for pranks. Both boys seems to enjoy explaining things with numbered lists.

Paper Towns:

“We called him Radar because his looked like a little bespectacled guy called Radar on this old TV show M*A*S*H, except 1. The TV Radar wasn’t black, and 2. At some point after the nicknaming, our Radar grew about six inches and started wearing contacts, so I suppose that 3. He actually didn’t look like the guy on M*A*S*H after all, but 4. With three and a half weeks left of high school, we weren’t very well going to renickname him.”

Looking for Alaska:

“I’d be lying, though, if I claimed I became a smoker to ward off insects. I became a smoker because 1. I was on an Adirondack swing by myself, and 2. I had cigarettes, and 3. I figured that if everyone else could smoke a cigarette without coughing, I could damn well, too. In short, I didn’t have a very good reason. So yeah, let’s just say that 4. it was the bugs.”

I became worried that, like Margo Roth Spiegelman in Paper Towns, the “Before” was going to be disappearance of Alaska Young.

And, Alaska did disappear – but not at all like the way Margo Roth Spiegelman disappeared. By that point, however, the two books had gone in two different directions.

I’ll call Looking for Alaska and Paper Towns variations on a theme, rather than one being a rewrite of the other.

I loved Looking for Alaska. I loved Paper Towns. And I loved The Fault in Our Stars – which was not about a nerdy boy and a pretty girl out of his reach.

James/Raymond Drifts On

Today, Phillip and I spent the day in Everett, playing the final episode of Mage: The Awakening, along with Daniel, Ben, Kathi and Brian.

This was only the second time I have played a role-playing game all the way to its finale. (Brian tells me that most players don’t get to see a game wrap up.) I really didn’t realize how much I’d been enjoying the game until it ended.

I actually missed a great deal of today’s session’s middle act. The headache I woke up with this morning, which I’d thought was simply caffeine withdrawal, got worse, and was joined by dizziness and an upset stomach. I took a nap on the couch, with a kitten named Boo on my chest, while Phillip rolled the dice for my character.

But Phillip woke me up for the final act.

Our team captured the bad guy and destroyed all the cursed tokens which bound us through thirteen lives, spanning thirteen time periods.

My character: Raymond Carver (formerly James Joyce), former drifter, former employee at a Chinese herb shop (for less than a day), former busker, former Seattle Underground Tour guide, former musician with The Seattle Symphony, and former Sound Transit fare inspector, willing lost his magic powers. He said goodbye to his friends and goodbye to Seattle.

He is a drifter again. His name may be James Joyce again (if that ever was his real name). He has a home in Seattle. He may be back in a future game, as the token mortal on a team of mages.

Meanwhile, we still have the teenage superhero game going, and there are plans for a vampire role-playing game.

I Bought A Book

Several weeks ago, Kelly highly recommended a book to me: The Atlantis  Gene by A.G. Riddle. I made a note of it.

The library didn’t have any copies of The Atlantis Gene and neither did Kobo Books. I realized that I just may have to actually buy a book.

Kelly had planned to come over this morning, and that reminded me that I had a book to buy. I’d planned on being out this afternoon, so I checked on the Elliott Bay Book web site. The Atlantis Gene was out of stock. Barnes & Noble didn’t carry it.

At nine o’clock this morning, I bought the book from Amazon and asked that it be shipped to the locker in The Broadway Market. The estimated delivery date was Monday.

Kelly came over. We did some shopping. Then she dropped Phillip and me off at Capitol Hill Station.

Phillip had a NorWesCon meeting this afternoon. I rode with him, on Link and RapidRide, to SeaTac. We had lunch together. Then I rode RapidRide to Angle Lake Station.

I’d never been to Angle Lake Station before. There’s not much there, except for parking. The station is a lot bigger than I imagined it would be.

I took a joyride on Link from Angle Lake Station to University of Washington Station, and then back to Capitol Hill Station.

I got fare-inspected on the ride from University of Washington.

I walked home and took a nap.

Phillip called me around 3:30. Did I want to meet him at Teriyaki & Wok, on Broadway? I walked up to Broadway, past The Broadway Market, and we had dinner.

Phillip and I walked home, past The Broadway Market. When we were about a block from home, we stopped because I wanted to take a video of the wind blowing through the trees. (There’s a huge storm on its way.)

While I was filming, my phone signaled that an email had arrived.

The video didn’t turn out well. There were actually two new emails. I decided to read them when we got home.

The first email was from Amazon. My book had shipped. The second email was from Amazon. My book had arrived.

I walked up to The Broadway Market and picked up my book.

When I got home, a new email arrived. My book had been picked up.

Stuff That Works

My first shipment of razors arrived from Harry’s today.  I am quite pleased with the shaver. It’s quite comfortable. Under my current plan, the razors arrive every three months, they are delivered by the US Postal Service, and – as an added bonus – the package fits inside our apartment mailbox. That works fine for me.

Meanwhile, in Cities:Skylines, I discovered why Riverton’s airport wasn’t working. It turned out to be the custom asset I was using. The creator is aware of the issue, and is working on a solution. In the meantime, I have replaced it with the game’s stock airport. Hundreds of tourists are now flying into Riverton, and citizens are flying out for vacations as well.


Don’t hit the bridges!

A Phone And A Book

A couple of days ago, I received a text message from Cricket that I was close to the 10 gig allowance on my phone. Now, on the last day of my phone’s “month”, I’ve used 8.5 gigs for the month, not including what little I used today. I suppose that I’ve been watching YouTube more than I was aware. Uninstalling and reinstalling Pokémon Go so many times probably took its data toll as well.

It looks like deciding to not downgrade to the 5 gig plan was a good idea. I’ll keep monitoring the situation, though.

We have public Wi-Fi in our office building. It’s strong enough from my Kobo Mini eReader, but not strong enough for my smart phone.

Yesterday, on my way home from work, I picked up Looking for Alaska, by John Green, from the library. I started it reading it this evening, but haven’t turned more than two or three pages. John Green is the author of Paper Towns, which I loved, and The Fault in our Stars, which I loved just a little less.

Looking for Alaska was his debut novel, published in 2005. I’ve heard good things about it, and I’m looking forward to reading it.

(Alaska, by the way, is apparently someone’s name. John Green apparently has a thing for unusual names.)

80 Thousand



Last night, in Cities:Skylines, Riverton hit a population of 80,000. This turned the city into a “Megalopolis” and allowed me to build a space elevator. Riverton is only my second city with a space elevator.

Apparently, a space elevator is something like an airport. I’m not exactly sure what it connects to (an orbiting space station, perhaps?) but it brings tourists into the city and boosts business. That’s good, because Riverton already has a lovely airport, connected to roads, a passenger train line, metro (subway) lines, and a bus line – but it brings in less than a hundred tourists per week, and no one seems to use it to leave the city. (I’m not sure why.)


Beautiful, Empty Riverton Airport

Riverton’s new space elevator, connected only to a road and a passenger train, is bringing in 400-500 tourists per week. The game has no animation for the elevator – no people beaming into the sky – so it’s difficult to tell if anyone is using it to leave Riverton.


Space Elevator

Riverton is my most successful city yet. I didn’t set out to create a large city – it took a long time to reach 80,000. It has densely populated areas, full of skyscrapers and highrises, but also neighborhoods of low-density houses – and a lot of large, open, natural areas. It’s more like a metropolitan area than a single city, really, and that’s what I was aiming for. It’s a sprawling city. Citizens are mostly happy. Crime rate is low. Buildings rarely burn down.

The two most important-yet-obvious things I’ve learned from previous cities are: rails lines don’t always have to connect to the outside world (they can function nicely as in-city commuter lines or commercial transport), and metro lines don’t have to be a loop (point-to-point shuttle lines work just fine).


Visit Riverton!

Riverton has areas of traffic congestion, but with combinations of road diets, alternate routes, and public transit, I’m keeping it under control.

Last night, I followed a tourist. He was a “high wealth adult” named Dexter Harris. He arrived by space elevator and walked across the street to the train station. He rode the train to the transit hub at the airport, where he transferred to a metro line.

Mr. Harris rode to a metro station in the Pepperton district, where he transferred to another line. He exited at a metro station outside of the aquarium, in the Mermaid Park district,where he picked up a car. (Where did he get a car? Either Cities:Skylines has some sort of Grand Theft Auto crossover, or Riverton has a floating car-share system similar to car2go or ReachNow.)

Our featured tourist drove to a park and hung around for a while. Then he drove to another park. (I was impressed with a nice bit of game mechanics: When he returned to the car, it was the same car he arrived in, parked in the same spot. Traffic isn’t just randomly generated scenery in this game.)


Dexter Harris got in the car again, hit the freeway, and drove across town to the skyscraper district of Lakeside. He visited a Japanese garden, and then spent the evening at The Expo Center. He then drove a few blocks to a train station, left the car parked on the street, and rode a train out of town.

I hope Dexter Harris enjoyed his vist, and that he’ll return to Riverton soon!

A Recommended Book

When I was less than a third of the way through Dark Matter, by Blake Crouch, I recommended it to Kelly. She trusted my opinion and downloaded it to her eReader. At that point, I had only a guess about where the book was headed. I knew that if the book turned predictable, or worse, an apology would be in order.

But the book didn’t disappoint me. I finished it on Thursday, and loved it all the way to the end. My guess about the story’s direction turned out to be correct, but the story was unique enough to make it unpredictable.

I recommended it to Phillip. He read it about a day and a half. He, too, had rave reviews for it. We returned the book to the library this afternoon.

I haven’t heard Kelly’s review yet.