Life Is Strange: A Guide to the Optional Photo Achievements

I’m pretty proud of myself today: I wrote my first guide on Steam. It’s for the game Life Is Strange by Dontnod Entertainment, published by SquareEnix. There are ten “optional photos” you can have the main character take throughout the course of the game, and each one unlocks one of the game’s achievements. I’m a bit of a trophy nerd, and my friends who play don’t have all of them but love the game, so it’s partly for them and partly just to say I did it.

Life is Strange Guide

I don’t feel like it was a crowded market; the majority of similar guides are currently in languages other than English (Russian guides are pretty big on Steam). One of the English language guides is very succinct but lacks screenshots. I won’t claim my guide is some kind of magnum opus, but I like it.

If you play, check it out and please rate it if it was helpful to you!

Edge of Oblivion


Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt star in Doug Liman’s “Edge of Tomorrow”

I have to admit, I’m pretty impressed with Tom Cruise’s performance in two blockbuster action/sci-fi films recently: Oblivion and Edge of Tomorrow. I’ve been a fan of the former for a while now, and my father got me to sit down and watch Edge with him tonight. (I was interested, it just takes an act of Congress for me to actually relax and enjoy a movie.) This article is going to have some spoilers; consider yourself warned.

Continue reading

Weather Delays

Last night I was so exhausted I got home from work and ended up falling asleep for 16 hours, more or less. I intended to make up for the missed post today, but awful weather has struck and, unable to get home, I am taking refuge in a hotel. I am fine, the roads are just shitty. However I only have my tablet and typing on this is not the most expedient or enjoyable endeavor.

I will see you all tomorrow. For now, good night. I hope you are safe, and I hope you are warm. Please check out my friend Dennis’s web fiction, The Solstice War. (

March 3rd: The Anniversary of My Grandfather’s Death

It’s a bit past midnight on the 4th at this point now, but you’ll understand what I mean when I say that today, the 3rd, was the first anniversary of my grandfather’s death. I worked all day, so I didn’t exactly have time to set aside for remembrance.

On the morning of March 3rd, 2014, my grandfather was outside his home in West Virginia during a winter much like the one we have now, shoveling snow from his driveway so that if his wife’s mother needed an ambulance it would be able to get to them. The effort proved too much, and he had a heart attack. He wasn’t found for a while, until his wife came out to check on him. By the time the ambulance arrived, it was too late. My grandfather always had too strong of a work ethic. Barring his age of 80 years, he had been in relatively good health. Then he was gone. Continue reading

An Unhappy Reunion

The spring thaw had finally begun to work its way north to Otreta. Rivulets of melting snow rained down from branches spotted with the first budding green leaves of the season. Marzena pulled her black cloak around her. The sun was not so pleasantly warm just yet.

The scent of freshly baked bread reached Marzena’s nose. She wandered over to the window of the opening bakery, and purchased a few small buns filled with meat. The flaky crust cracked open as she bit into it, and she savored the warm contents. When she had finished, she licked her fingers, pulled a cigar from her pouch, and conjured a small mote of flame in her palm to light it. The smoke and her breath mixed in the cold air and drifted away.

Up ahead she heard a commotion. She wasn’t the only one—several townsfolk began making their way toward the center of town. There was a gathering of some sort, and judging by the sound, it was growing. Continue reading

Groundhog Nuggets

I am done with the winter. Today we had a winter weather advisory for freezing rain and ice. The roads themselves were not terrible, but every parking lot and sidewalk was a death trap waiting to happen. I had an appointment at 5:30 this afternoon, so I went. I got home around 7:30. I get out of the car, walk behind it, and one of my legs begins to slide out from under me. So I grab on the rear of the car and lower myself to a kneeling position.

From that I attempt to crawl up my driveway, but continue to slip back down. My driveway, mind you, is not slanted at a particularly steep angle. Yet it was enough of one, apparently, that I may as well have been climbing Everest. Alas, I had forgotten my pitons and rope.

Our yard, however, was covered in a thick blanket of snow from the previous two weeks of bad weather. Snow has much better traction than ice, so I developed a plan. I flailed my way over across the driveway to the snowbank, and was able to stand. A layer of ice had frozen over the snow, but I was able to crack it easily enough and press in to the white powder beneath. In this fashion I made my way–feeling like a Jack London character–twenty feet across the yard and to my front steps. Those we had coated with sand earlier in the day, and proved easier to scale than the driveway.

I hate this season. It’s never so bad in December, but as February and March roll around the weather has been abysmal these last few years. I nearly died once in a driving accident during the “Snowpocalypse” we had four years ago, and it forever tainted my feeling of winter as a season of beautiful snowscapes and snuggling. I despise it, in many ways worse than the insufferable heat of summer.

So fuck it. Next year we’re all going to get together, drive to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, and cook that fucking spineless hedgehog into nuggets. WHO IS WITH ME? Can’t have six more weeks of winter when we’re dipping that little bastard in barbecue sauce!

Other acceptable strategies include: filling his den with cement, sewing his eyes shut, and the ever-reliable orbital strike.

The last two weeks have really been dragging a lot of people down, and for good reason. The sky is oppressive, getting around is difficult to impossible, and a general sense of wintry malaise hangs in the air. I’m also quite open to the idea of a cuddle pile.

I hope to have some more fiction for you tomorrow. Not sure what I’ll be doing, but probably a brief character sketch or something similar. Still not sure what I want to do with all these imaginary people floating around in my head. Until then, hang in there, and don’t let the weather get you down. The sun’ll come out… someday.

See you tomorrow for another 500 words.

Reaching Out Past Myself

I thought about sharing a piece of my old writing here. It came up during a conversation with a friend. We were discussing the awkwardness of men trying to open up emotionally to other men, and I mentioned that I’d written a line about that in a short piece I wrote nearly a decade ago.

But I’m not going to share it here. It was a different time, and I’ve changed a lot since then. It was an angry bit of writing, filled with self-loathing, frustration, entitlement. I see that I had begun to touch on such things in that piece, but I was nowhere near where I am these days. I intended to preface the (coincidentally around 500-word) story with info like I am now. Then I began figuring out what tags I should give it for content, and that was when I realized, you know what, some things are better left in the past. So I’ll just share that particular line, summarize the important parts, and reflect. Continue reading

Hungry Like the Wolf (Hyena)

Hyena Warwick

The jungling champion Warwick is a werewolf, but one of his skins is a hyena. Guess what I play?

Today I reached Summoner Level 11 in League of Legends. I feel I am nearly ready to face actual human opponents without (overly) embarrassing myself. I’ve also managed to earn enough IP through my games to buy a small stable of champions in the various roles that I’ve been able to practice with. Fear is honestly the only thing keeping me back now.

I have a lot of those moments, where I let fear of failure dictate my actions. I suppose I should say my inaction. I’m having a similar issue in school since I got behind. Just like it’s easy to continue fighting bots and not improving in League, it is easy enough to let class slip by and say, see, I screwed up.

But it is time to take the plunge and pass into the dark depths of the jungle. Both in League and elsewhere.

Anyway, in League the role of the jungler has proven to be a bit easier to grasp than I anticipated. I watched ScrapComputer’s guide on jungling, which is great, even if it is a little outdated for season 5. Mostly the monster camps underwent a change in the current season of the game. So I just looked up a guide specifically for that and things have been peachy.

N.B. If you have no idea about the term, League of Legends happens in three “lanes”, and between those lanes is a mass of twisty paths and neutral monsters called “the jungle”. A jungler is a character who basically wanders around this area and kills the stuff there. Since it encompasses so much, the jungler also weaves in and out of lanes to ambush (“gank”) enemy players, putting his or her team at an advantage.

Vi is a jungling champion who uses her giant mechanical fists (and justice) to crush her foes.

Vi is a jungling champion who uses her giant mechanical fists (and justice) to crush her foes.

Having a jungler in the AI levels has made a noticeable impact. I’d say the games end about 3-5 minutes earlier. I’m able to help out other lanes that aren’t doing so good, filled with players who are new and/or not so great. Typically, when playing the AI, everyone typically sticks to their lane until the AI Bots move around and dictate where the team fights happen. I don’t want to fight bots forever, I’m practicing to get prepared for human opponents, so I am trying to get a familiarity with those tactics even if the AI matches aren’t exactly mirrors of typical PvP situations.

The mid lane is still my strongest game, though. I still need to go into a custom game and work on upping my CS (“creep score”; how many enemy minions you struck the final blow to and thus reaped XP and gold). You see, in League you can’t just auto-attack everything and expect to get by. For maximum efficiency you need to time your hits so that you land the last blow on enemy minions. That’s how you increase your gold and buy better items, which give you better stats. I watched a video where someone said you should be able to easily get 70 creep kills by the 10:00 minute mark before you attempt playing ranked matches. I’m only going to be playing “normals” at the moment (non-ranked 5v5 PvP games), but improving never hurts.

Now I need to apply the same principles to my academic work. Heh.

See you tomorrow for another 500 words.


Alright, so I may have gone a little overkill. Today you could practically peel my face off like a mask. So I need to cut back on the witch hazel. A friend suggested I use it 2-3 times a week, and more importantly I need to pick up some moisturizer.

On the plus side: blackheads are disappearing! My (enormous) nose is looking better every day.

I’m also going to take a break on Thursdays from here on out. I’m happy I’ve managed eight days in a row, and I may occasionally post something on a Thursday night anyway, but like with the witch hazel I realize that not every routine may be good to mindlessly repeat! This is a good day for it, anyway. Thursday is a busy work day for me, and I have Fridays off so I can get some rest and sleep in. Thanks for sticking with me, and I hope the new schedule works out!

See you tomorrow for 500 words.

Cisgender People and Our Mistreatment of Transgender Individuals

This particular ramble includes examples of transphobia, violence against transgender individuals, and talk of suicide.

Recently I’ve seen a few videos made by a woman I know while she was still presenting as male. It’s interesting: there is an awkwardness to her mannerisms, an affectation that is so painfully obvious. Here is a woman–I think to myself as I watch her talk to others–pretending to be a man. Clearly.

Except it’s not so clear, is it? Hindsight is 20/20. I met her after she decided to be public about her real identity as a woman. So, viewing these past videos, I have a reasonable amount of background knowledge and expectations, and I see the exceptions to what I already know.

We–and by “we” I mean myself and other cisgender indivdiuals–are afflicted by blindness. And it is easy, and seems right, to go back and say “I would have known” or even “I did know” about a transgender friend or acquaintance’s identity. It sounds good, it makes us feel like better allies. We’re more aware than those other people.

We need to stop that. Because typically we don’t know. We see what we want to see, and thanks to the wonders of privilege what we want to see is often what society expects.

I have another friend whom I did know in person. He came out to me as transgender a while ago, and as I look back on my interactions with him throughout the years I think, well, it makes sense. But really, there was no point at which I actually stopped and thought, “Well, he’s a guy.”

The problem when cisgender individuals say we knew about a transgender person’s identity, we discount their efforts. Transgender folks put up a facade for their own personal benefit and safety. They might not even know they’re doing it. There’s a reason some come to it as more of a sudden revelation than a certainty they’ve known all their lives.

But that facade takes a toll. It kills. Transgender people have an alarmingly high suicide rate. They are dying by inches because the personal cost of them coming out to the public is phenomenally high. And while you might think that saying “Oh, I kind of knew” sounds comforting and affirming, consider it may actually sound like you realized the staggering amount of suffering they had and decided the status quo of your relationship was just fine.

And maybe that’s true. Maybe we, my cisgender readers and I, make just such a judgment on occasion. That’s a hard truth to consider. Consider it anyway.

Then there’s the issue of “pronouns”, or what it really is: basic human decency. I’ve seen plenty of well-meaning cisgender people–and in the past I myself have been guilty of–misgendering a transgender person. And there are a lot of mental and conversational gymnastics we will try to use to excuse it. “It’s difficult” or “I get confused” are two of the worst. Imagine, if you will, that I’m speaking to you and at random intervals in the conversation I reach up and backhand you across the face. And when you look shocked or get angry I just say, “I’m sorry, it’s hard for me too. I get confused sometimes. Sometimes I forget hitting you hurts.”

Our transgender friends, acquaintances, and even total strangers have already paid enough in mental well-being and personal effort to make us comfortable. If it takes us more personal effort to use the right pronouns and to pay attention to what they say, then we put in the effortFull stop. If we do screw up, stop, apologize, do not attempt to make excuses, move on, and never do it again.

I’ll see you tomorrow.