Horse Isle 3 – my new obsession

Ever since I was little, I’ve dreamed of exploring a brand new world, untouched by bipeds, a place I could journey across and marvel at every new sight.  I have also thought it could be nice if there were people there too, yet not so many that I couldn’t have my alone-time.  Horse Isle 3: Infinite Wilds helps scratch that itch and gives me as much to explore as I could want!

Infinite Wilds is designed to be appealing to all ages and unlike my other great love (Star Wars: The Old Republic) has absolutely no violence.  The really interesting part is that nearly all content is player created.  Towns, ranches, horse breeding farms, crafted items, and competitions are all dreamed up by the players, who start with a fresh new world to do with as they please.

Example Horse
A recently caught Wild

Want tack for your horse?  Well, you can buy it from other players or you can make it yourself – and then dye it with colors made from things you pick out in the wild.  Want to ride?  Buy one from a player – or catch one yourself.  The system of genetics is fascinating.  You can stake a claim on land in the game and build a huge ranch, or own a club and help contribute the prosperity of your own small town.  You can join clubs to have your own stores, set up shop as a merchant, a horse breeder, a craftsman, or what have you.  You can also choose to train your horses really well and compete with them in various competitions.  Did I mention each horse is unique with various stats and personality traits, and almost infinite color combinations?

 

So, what about people like me, who might like to spend time with people sometimes, but

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A Club Village

crave exploration?  Well, there will always be room for exploration because the world is one MILLION kilometers across!  That’s 621,371.192 miles, enough distance that to cross the map, you’d have to walk around the circumference of the Earth almost 25 times.  Big enough for you?  Well, it’s big enough for me!  So even if thousands of people were exploring all at the same time we’d all have room to build, or harvest, or roam as we saw fit.  A certain amount of instantaneous travel keeps the world from being too large.

 

There are multiple ways to explore too.  You can walk, ride, use a kayak, swim, and there are plans for sailboats and hang gliders.  There is so much to see, too.  Everything from mesa studded deserts to vast dunes to sunny beaches to alpine forests to a mushroom and flower festooned Wonderland.   The horses found in each area, or Biome, will tend to be adapted to that area as well.

Beach Biome
I love those sunny beaches.

Because the map is so huge, the game installs onto your PC but doesn’t take up an inordinate amount of space.  Right now the game is in Beta and only Windows players with 64 bit systems are being accepted, though there will be more systems supported later.

Because I love the game THAT much, I’m going to post various hints and tips for other people like me who want to get a good start.  They can all be found here and I’ll be cross-linking my posts when I make a new one.  I’ll be exploring the different Biomes and posting various tips on how to do well.

Come on!  Join the adventure!

(Note:  I make no money out of this.  I write about this game out of love, and though I am a Beta tester, I didn’t make the game.)

Aloof Cats

“Cats are aloof.”

“Cats are anti-social.”

“Your cat doesn’t really love you, they just want food.”

“Cats are spiteful.”

“Cats are merciless.”

——-

Balogna.

Utter, sheer, unmitigated, balogna.

Hogwash.

Poppycock.

Rubbish.

Nonsense!

 

As I write this, the primary cat who owns me, keeps patting my arm to remind me she’s there.  She likes to just hang out near by when I’m doing things, rather than going off and sleeping by herself.  She’s not a lap cat, but rather a sit near you cat.  She’s very loving and the feeling has always been mutual for us.

Do cats love?  They do  – very deeply at times – and if you learn to look and listen and observe, you’ll see that.  For example – when a cat is gazing at you and giving you that slow blink, that means “I trust you.”  And sometimes “I love you.”  You can see their love with body language and facial expression, and by how much time they want to spend hear you.  They also grieve very deeply and they remember their lost friends quite well at times.

Some are going to say “cats are just animals, they don’t have feelings.”  Lately, though, it’s been discovered that though smaller than a human’s brain, a cat’s brain matches about 90 percent of the structures we have, especially in the emotional centers.  What’s more, a cat’s face has many muscles that exist for the purpose of making expressions.  So when your cat seems to be smiling at you, they really are, and when they look sad, they probably are.  It’s not anthropomorphism to say this, those behaviors have been observed and confirmed.

Cats get a bad reputation though because they aren’t groveling sycophants.  They are deemed untrainable because you have to motivate them properly for them to decide to do what you are asking.  I’ve gotten my cat to sit, even lie down on command, but it’s plain that she’s deciding to agree to my request, not giving me a rote response.

They can be incredibly intelligent – I knew a cat who would use bottle caps as containers to carry things in, and would eat his dry food only after picking it up with his paw.  I knew another who ran away from her mother, crossing two yards with big dogs in them, so she could be with the only house who would offer her help – that is, us.  How did she know that?  We’d never met her before.  And yet, she knew just where to go at a bare few months of age.  I have played long games of “boop the nose” with Nezumi, where we’ll take turns booping each other’s noses.  She can tell time to some extend.  I’ll say “not yet, in an hour Nezumi,” and sure enough she’ll come back for whatever she wanted… in an hour.  I and many others could go on and on.

A cat will choose if they want to be part of a relationship and they’re pretty hard to bribe.  However, once a cat has decided your’e pretty okay as people go, it can be a beautiful experience.  They will be loyal with you and the experience will be incredibly special.

 

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The Lizard Lord

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Behold!  I am the Lizard Lord!  Watch as I do pushups to impress all the ladies!  I am Lord of all I survey, which is pretty much… this wall, um, and some trees, and oh, some brick planters… and doves!  I totally survey the doves too!

Did I mention I’m related to giant dinosaurs?  And so what if I’m only a foot long?

Laugh not at my blue belly, for I rule this backyard!

…Signed, the Spiny Desert Lizard.

To all the Mothers – and Kitty Mothers – out there

Today’s your day!

It takes a tremendous amount of grit to be any kind of a parent.  To those who have stuck by their kids, through thick and thin, protecting them from harm, putting up with illnesses and whining, and trying to teach them the good things in life, I salute you.  Similarly, to those cat parents who support their furry kids through smooth times and rough, I salute you too.  It also takes determination, love, and often some heartache.

It means that like a wildflower’s roots, you must sometimes search for scarce resources and nevertheless make something bloom.

It means deciding that that tiny child – or kitten – is more important than your own comfort.  That your child’s happiness is your happiness.

It can be a huge struggle, especially with a human child, but every mother I know has told me it’s worth it.

To everyone who takes on that challenge, Happy Mother’s Day!

Here’s a picture of our sweet calico when she was tiny, shortly after she rescued herself and came to us, and a bouquet of wildflowers for all the Moms out there.  And yes… that includes my own!

Pix030

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Farewell, Dear Knight

I remember when I first saw him, a tall, lanky figure with flowing white hair flowing beard, wearing a leather duster, striding across the parking lot at work.  Somehow he wore it like a medieval surcoat and I could easily imagine him as a knight of old, or at least as a noble gunslinger of the American West.

As it turns out, he was both.

We spoke occasionally until I was put on the same team of experts with him, answering agent questions and solving problems.  I learned more about this person, who became my friend.  He had indeed used a sword, having been a heavy fighter in the Society for Creative Anachronism.  He had been a weight lifter, had practiced Kenpo, and he liked to go out to the range with his friends on the weekends.  At one point he’d also ridden Harleys, so I guess you could say he’d had a mighty steed, too.  As is common with people skilled in the use of force, he had impeccable manners and treated everyone with respect.

He also had a sharp and active mind with a deep knowledge of history, the type of guy who could tell you the difference between lorica segmentata and lorica squamata and which one he liked best.  He knew why “Decimation” means only to remove ten percent, and the content of the rations the rest of the decime would eat during the rest of their punishment.  (Barley, by the way.)  He liked anime and got all my references to old movies.  Along with his courtly ways he had a very dry wit.  I lived for conversations with him.

One day he didn’t show up to work, he was missing for weeks.  He came back with a leg missing and an account of how he’d been laid up in the hospital with a terrible case of sepsis, which he had only survived through the loss of his leg.  It had turned out that the cause was a small cut on his foot.  His slightly curmudgeonly attitude had changed for the better, his blue eyes now sparkled with the joy of life and he smiled more.  He got a tricked out wheelchair and was upbeat about his loss of a leg, calling himself “gimpy” and “pogo,” but refusing to let anyone feel sorry for him.  He never surrendered to self pity.  He took pleasure in the smallest things, like having an apple.

Time passed and my friend got an injury on his head.  This didn’t get better, even though he took care of it, and eventually it became clear that it was a nasty MRSA infection.  Back he went into the hospital, this time for four months, in total isolation, on a constant antibiotic IV drip.  I caught every scrap of news and was sure he wasn’t going to make it.  Yet, one day I saw him wheeling back in.  I yelped for joy, charged him and gave him a great big hug.   I was so happy to see that my knight had returned.  I happily had many more great conversations and when I left that job I tried my best to get him to come with me.  But no, he was used to where he was, and he didn’t want to leave.  So he stayed.

I found out today that he died sometime yesterday, of congestive heart failure that was likely brought on by damage from those systemic infections.  He was only 52.  I can do nothing but think of his life, his great smile, the fact that he never let his various ailments get him down.  In fact, even when wheelchair bound, he and his friends still went out shooting at the local gravel pit, having a good time together.  He still insisted on doing everything for himself and he never gave up.  I’m sure he fought to the end.

In his memory I am going to do two things.  Every time I have an apple I’m going to take an extra bit of time to notice its crispness, its sweetness, and enjoy it that extra bit.  And I’m going to make sure and remind anyone who has an injury that isn’t healing to get it looked at, because it really can turn into something nasty, even if you are taking care of it and are otherwise living a healthy lifestyle.  So clean that cut when you get one!  You don’t want the bugglies getting inside.

My friend was a wonderful, courtly person with vast knowledge about a lot of things.  He also treated everyone with respect and didn’t believe in running other people’s lives, or having them run his. n my head I always thought of him as “my knight” because that’s the way he was, and I told him so, too.  He got all embarrassed.  But at least he know how I saw him.  My only regret is that I won’t get a chance to spend more time with him.

I’ll miss you, my gentle knight.  The world is a darker place without you.

The $5 car fix – Or, the psychology of an Elantra

This sort of thing doesn’t happen very often, which is why I celebrate it when it does.  Usually my car repairs end up being much more than I want, which is often roughly double what I will have a week from the time the failure occurs.  However this repair is about as good as the flood episode, when I somehow managed to save a car from flood damage and a $5,000 engine replacement with nothing but a set of spark plugs, a half roll of paper towels, some starter fluid, and lots of net research and elbow grease.

A little background:  My Hyundai Elantra is battered, dented, from 2006, but quite faithful.  One thing it likes to do however, is have the check engine light come on right around the time I need to go through emissions so I can renew my registration.

This time was no different.   With concerns about expensive gasket, valve or seal replacements dancing through my head, I went to the local auto parts store and had them read my trouble code.

Much to my relief I found that the trouble code was indicating a faulty sensor.  It was a hundred dollar part, which isn’t bad but then I needed to have someone replace it, which brought the cost of the repair to around ninety dollars more than what was in budget.  Especially with those registration fees coming up, too.

So what’s a penny pinching driver to do?  Net research.  I fuzzily remembered that this sort of error could also be caused by a dirty sensor.  Lo and behold, I found out that it was indeed true, that the Mass Air Flow Sensor could easily be dirty and it just took a can of special cleaner to fix.  And sometimes a special tool to get the thing off, depending on the car.

Okay, so I was willing to find out where this thing was.  I did more research.  It turned out that the sensor was right up top next to my air filter, which I had successfully changed, and I would only need a screw driver for the hose clamps holding the sensor in place.  Yet more research revealed that the fancy cleaner could be swapped for simple isopropyl alcohol, administered by a clean spray bottle.  Total cost of some 91% alcohol and a spray bottle at my grocery store?  Less than five dollars, and I bought the PRETTY spray bottle.

With a hopeful heart I set about my repair.  The only difficulty was in getting the electrical lead unclipped, but luckily my intrepid partner knows more about clips than I  do and she got it undone.  A few minutes of spraying and an hour of air drying later, I had my little sensor back in place.

Now, if I was right, the check engine light should go off on its own.  I researched further, into something called the “drive cycle” for my car, which should allow the vehicle to do all the standard tests to figure out if the engine is healthy or not, and (hopefully) let the check engine light come off.  It sounded more like figuring out the psychology and motivations of the car than anything!  I had no luck on the long drive to work, even though I kept the car at steady RPMs between 2000 and 2400 for more than 10 minutes, idled for a minute, and did some but not all of the other parts of the drive cycle.  I wasn’t expecting much as I had found out that having a full tank of gas wouldn’t allow some of the tests to happen, because those need a certain amount of space in the tank to even run.

On the way back home I decided to buy a trouble code checker, since I’d found out that one was said to be available at a local big box store for about fifteen dollars.  It wasn’t until I traipsed through that entire store and found a code checker (for three times the price so I didn’t buy it) and got back to my car, started her up and drove out of the parking lot, that the check engine light finally went off on its own.

That evening I had the emissions test done with not a single problem.  I was floored but also elated.  I, the not so mechanical person, had actually managed to get the light to go off, not by some cheat or trick but by actually getting to the root cause.  As a bonus, my idle was smoother and I’m pretty sure my gas mileage is slightly better.

So that is how I won, for a change, and managed to get a $150 repair (at the least) down to less than $5.

The moral of the story is to always research.  No matter what the repair is or the problem is, there is usually information online to help you, and at the very least, knowing more about the problem will prevent you from being taken for a ride.

 

(If you are more interested in art than articles, check out my profile on ArtStation!)

Spring Revamp

Update!

I’m making some changes to encourage myself to put up more content and make more art.  So I’m combining my old personal art site, rohvannynshaw.com, and this one – and opening an ArtStation account to house my portfolio.  It saves time and money.  That time component is especially important, now that I’m a member of leadership at my company, and don’t have quite so much of it as I once did.

I really like ArtStation as a place to see store professional level work and it does everything I used to have with my old personal site, except it gets traffic.  It also has a clean, simple interface that makes my art look great.  It’s also filled with really amazing artists who do this sort of thing for a living, so I’m constantly inspired.  Therefore, I’m busily uploading my old work, linked here for your viewing enjoyment.  Just click on the image to see my brand spanking new profile.

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In future weeks and months, this means you can expect more content, and if there’s something in particular you’d like to see, feel free to leave a comment!