Games Museum content update

Whenever I buy one of those humongous Humble Bundles I sometimes think: At some point, I’ve got to add all these to my game museum database and that is going to be a right old pain in the backside. And you know what? It was. But, I’ve done it. I’ve also added everything else I’ve…

via Games Museum content update — deKay’s Lofi-Gaming

Zapped

Electricity really gets on my nerves.

Perhaps you’ve seen, in some of my previous posts, me moaning about how my fingers and hands hurt. It started one day a few months ago and hasn’t really got worse (or better) since. Sometimes it also affects my feet, wrists, legs, lips, nose and pretty much any of my skin to a greater or lesser degree.

In the process of getting what it is diagnosed, this week I had to have a Nerve Conduction Study. Before going in, I had a quick look at what it entailed – some sticky pads on my skin, a small electrical current, painless. A bit like an ECG crossed with a TENS machine. No problem.

I met the technician, who explained what was going to happen. Some stretchy metal rings were put round my finger. “Will this hurt?” I asked, hoping she’d confirm what I’d read. “Not at all. You might feel a buzzing sensation next to your finger, but most people don’t feel anything.”. Excellent. I was sceptical, but she’s done this hundreds of times. She wouldn’t get that wrong.

“OK, here we go. Relax your hand aaaaaand…” CRACK.

A massive belt coursed across my finger. An intense, searing pain. My entire arm was thrown backwards uncontrollably. I may have screamed.

“What?!” she remarked, somewhat surprised. “Surely that didn’t hurt?”, as my spasming, sweating hand clearly showed otherwise. “Yes, yes it did.”

I said to her, as I say to you now, “Perhaps I should explain”.

I’ve always been strangely susceptible to static shocks. Anything and everything can, and will, give me a jolt. Things you’d expect, like a car door after a drive (a belt from that once knocked me unconscious) or metal equipment when unpacked from polystyrene. PC tower cases are a nightmare. Frequently, my daughter shocks me. I’ve a few spots on my hands were actual blue sparks have burned the skin.

Everyone gets static shocks, but I get them all the time, and whereas most people go “ow!”, I collapse on the floor a quivering, twitching mess as the electricity goes to town on my synapses. You know in sci-fi when an android gets overloaded? That’s me. Once, I actually got a real electric shock (I touched the inside of a power supply when I thought it was unplugged), and it resulted in me temporarily being unable to control my hands or speak. I think someone may have needed to reboot me.

“Wow. How strange.” she said. “We’ve never had anyone like that in here before. Let me just check the settings.”. She cleaned the contacts, twiddled some stuff, and I sat there with what felt like my palms crying actual tears. “OK, I’ll try again”. CRACK.

And this was on the lowest setting. She had to zap my finger multiple times, so rattled through them quickly but it was still agony. The study required her to do the same test with a different finger. “Maybe this one won’t hurt so much?” she said, unconvincingly. CRACK. Perhaps I should also point out that this was an actual audible crack as much as a painful one. “This is really unusual. I’m not comfortable with carrying on the study if you’re going to be in this much pain.”. Me either, oddly enough.

But what was the alternative? I asked if there was a different test to find the same results, but of course, there isn’t. She said all that would happen is that I’d come back in three or four weeks and do the procedure again. “You’ll at least know what is going to happen, so it might not be so bad?”. No, what would happen is I’d stew for three to four weeks and make myself sick with worry. I had to do it then.

I discussed what more needed to be done. Turns out, we’d barely started – just a quarter of the way through my first hand, and still my other hand and both feet to go. Worst, was that the current so far hadn’t passed 16mA and “it could go up to 200mA”. I was going to die.

As luck would have it, I didn’t die. It certainly felt like I was going to, especially when the technician moved on from metal finger bands to an actual taser. Probing my wrist and elbows with two pointy bits, shooting bolts of blue terror down my arms. I swear I could see the route it took under the skin. There were certainly sparks. I was a golf club in a lightning storm. A couple of jolts caused me to involuntarily take a swing at her face. Honest.

The taser revealed an additional issue with my body. Long ago, I realised that (if you’re squeamish, skip this bit) it just refuses to allow anyone to take blood. Normally, phlebotomists try to needle you in the inside of your elbow, and for most people, this is fine. For me, it seems I have no veins there and best anyone manages is a slight red smear. Instead, I have to give blood out of wherever will give it up: my wrist, the back of my hand, or – on one particularly painful visit – the side of a finger. Mmm. Thankfully, needles don’t bother me and aside from the (bearable) pain of unusual stabbing locations, it isn’t that big an issue.

As an aside, I find I often get a “hero” nurse. I tell them not to bother wasting everyone’s time going for the arm, and just head straight for the wrist or hand. Of course I explain why, but then they go “Ah, so they’ve been doing it wrong. I have a reputation round here for getting blood out of a stone!” before pricking me three times and giving up. Or they have to get a more senior member of staff because they’re not allowed to try a non-standard bloodhole.

Anyway, I mention this because it seems my nerves suffer from the same hidden problem. This meant a lot more probing – test taser fire until the computer (and my hand) registered a “hit”. That, and having to push the electrodes further into my flesh in an attempt to get closer to the nerves themselves. When a nerve was found, the pain was in two places at once, and then she ramped up the current. What I learned here was that I could never be a spy.

With my hands and arms done, broken, burnt, she moved onto my feet. The taser here didn’t hurt so much when focused on my ankles. In fact, at first, I felt nothing at all. I had two thoughts; this isn’t so bad, it must just be my hands, and oh god what if I have no nerves in my feet?! It turned out something wasn’t switched on. Then, as the probes were moved up my calves, behind my knee, and unsexily part way up my shorts and along my thigh, oh my. You know that shot from Terminator 2 where the explosion hits and the blast tears the skin from the people in the playground? That was me.

When the ordeal was over, many hours (well, one and a half) later, it hurt. I could still “feel” the clicks. My nerves still triggering twitches. The azure fire that scorched me inside. Apparently my muscles could feel “a slight ache” for “a few minutes”. Hours later, I was still cursing this lie.

And the outcome? Of course, I need to wait on full results, but the preliminary suggestion is that my nerves are working just fine. My experience here would like to argue, quite strongly, with that.

The featured image is from Dustin Gaffke on Flickr, is unmodified and is used under this licence.

It hurts to type

So I’m not typing much

I seem to be suffering from some form of Raynauds Syndrome, so my fingers hurt. But in a strange way. The tips are hyper-sensitive, meaning touching anything is an ordeal.

On the one hand, I feel like Matt Murdock, but on the other hand, thousands of tiny knives. Actually, both hands have the tiny knives.

In all, means I won’t be writing much here for a little while.

Milly-Molly-Mandy

Nothing ever happens. Nothing happens at all.

The thing about Milly-Molly-Mandy stories is that nothing actually happens.

Imagine Enid Blyton only without any peril, no fairies and magic folk, and nothing exciting ever happens. That’s the stories about Milly-Molly-Mandy. Written in the 1920s to 1940s by Joyce Lankester Brisley, a woman to whom the very peak of excitement was discovering the world doesn’t vanish when the curtains are closed, The Milly-Molly-Mandy Stories and subsequent followups are a trial in staying awake for even the most caffeinated parent.

Her name, which is actually Millicent Margaret Amanda, is perhaps the most interesting thing of any of the “adventures” she finds herself in. Adventures like the time her Great Aunt came to stay (and that was literally all that happened). Or the time – oh no! – the village had a party and Milly-Molly-Mandy went. No, it want exciting at all. Or how about when she and Little-Friend-Susan (that’s her name, apparently) went blackberry picking but the field was out of bounds. So they found some somewhere else. Good grief.

She calls her parents “Farver” and “Muvver”. Every story contains the phrase “Father and Mother and Grandpa and Grandma and Uncle and Aunty” at least once. The girl called Jilly, is aparently only to be referenced as “Miss Muggin’s niece Jilly”, as her parents are whoknowswhere. There is a child called “Bunchy” like that’s a thing. Billy Blunt can run. Who knew?

In one story, 3M’s teacher comes to stay with Father and Mother and Grandpa and Grandma and Uncle and Aunty in the nice white cottage with the thatched roof (also referenced as such in every tale), and it’s a bit creepy with her wanting kisses goodnight from 3M.

How did this series ever become popular? And why did I read the whole lot to my daughter over a period of nearly two months?

Oh.

Globbits.

So it seems that sometimes, the bad guys do win.

It’s hard to see right now what news is real and what is fake on either side of the reports coming out, but if Trump has indeed fired all his ambassadors and had everything regarding climate change deleted from the White House website already, then things are off to a terrible start.

Good luck, America!

A Big Fat Squizz At The Year: Part 3, The Events

Very Bad Things

It has been widely noted how terrible a year 2016 was. Bad things happened, worse things happened, and possibly worst of all, James Corden is still on television.

We lost some great people. Terry Wogan, Alan Rickman, George Martin, Anton Yelchin, Andrew Sachs, Carrie Fisher, Liz Smith, Gene Wilder, Prince, and many, many more. The one that affected me most, and still does a year on, was of course David Bowie, but I realise how I felt about him was similarly felt by others when Prince or George Michael died too. It was not a great year for celebrities and their (mostly surprising and unexpected) deaths, Anton Yelchin perhaps most unexpected of all those I’ve mentioned.

Other Really Bad Things that also add to how terrible 2016 was include a number of high profile terrorist attacks, such as the Belgian bombings in March and the German Christmas market attack in December. As horrific as these were (and they were), we should remember that worse – far, far worse – happen more frequently further from home, with Iraq, Yemen and Syria being especially targeted. I don’t know how attacks like these last year compare to in other years, but the fact they happen at all in a supposedly modern world is frightening.

People hating people saw a public rise last year too, with fascism gaining increased acceptance across the West. The downtrodden, and those who believe themselves to be such, using racial hatred in such an open and public way, excused by false beliefs that all the wrongs in the world are because of those people. I’m certainly not saying that all those who voted Brexit or for Trump are racists, but the outcomes of those votes certainly outed a lot of them who used the results as a way of legitimising their views. The future looks bleak, not just because of the political and financial changes that have come about because of Brexit and Trump, but also because of the growth in popularity of right-wing figures and ideologies. I’m no historian, but even I can see the parallels with the start of Nazi Germany.

And fake news, fake facts, post-facts, “we’ve had enough of experts” and all that sort of stuff. Lies and rumours are reported and treated as facts, and facts are treated with scorn. Even when the truth is proven, it’s rubbished with a limp wave of a hand.

Also: they announced The Emoji Movie. Good grief.

We’re going backwards, people.

But was there any sunlight in those dark, dark days? It’s hard to recall any. Certainly, the only things I can think of are personal, minor, or video game related. It’s true that good news often isn’t news, or is in a very specific field that may mean little to many.

We did have the Rio Olympics, even if it was overshadowed somewhat by other events at the time, the worry of the Zika virus, and the Russian athlete doping scandal. Team GB did incredibly well though. Andy Murray, the world’s most under-excited man did his thing again at Wimbledon, and Leicester won some ballfoot game of apparent importance against all odds. Mind you, that did mean we had Gary Lineker on telly in his pants, so I’m not sure if that was all good. Wales had an amazing time at the Euros too.

There have been incredible strides in medicine, with some great advances in treatment of cancer (such as using T-cells, and discovering the four subtypes of pancreatic cancer which means better chances of targeting them), Alzheimer’s and strokes. As is the way with these things, it could be years, or even decades, before this new research actually starts to make a difference, but things are looking up.

So what for 2017? As the Klingons put it: The future is an undiscovered country. Let’s hope the discoveries are worth the horror that 2016 was.

A Big Fat Squizz At The Year: Part 2, My Completed Games

110 is the magic number.

In 2016, I completed a whopping 110 games. My previous record, because of course I’ve been keeping count, was 84 in 2015. You’d think with a number like that, I’d finally be on top of my backlog, right? Ahahahahano.

I didn’t anticipate completing that many. Like in previous years, I did strive to finish the RetroCollect 52 Game Challenge (which I managed before the end of June) and then expanded that to 104 games just for a laugh (and I sorted that by mid-December), but of course I had to go and beat that too, didn’t I?

There may be some arguments over what constitutes a “game”, and what counts as “completed”. There’s no hard and fast rule, whatever feels right for a title, usually. However, normally a game is “something you play” and “completed” is “reached the final goal”, “got all the achievements” or “watched the end credits” as appropriate.

DLC and addons are usually classed as separate games even if technically they’re not – like Life is Strange episodes, or the Lego Dimensions level packs.

Anyway, here’s the full list of 110:

Continue reading “A Big Fat Squizz At The Year: Part 2, My Completed Games”

A Big Fat Squizz At The Year: Part 1, My Posts

Them Things Wot I Wrote

Hello everyone and Happy New Year! I remember saying Happy New Year at the start of 2016 too, and we know how well that went, so perhaps don’t read too much into the word “Happy” there.

At the start of 2016, I decided I’d post a lot more on my blog. I’d not really decided what to write about, and it was only after a couple of weeks of daily posts I thought hang on, I could do a post every day for a month! Then a couple of months. Then I went all out and tried for a year.

And what a year of posts it was. Certainly, I prattled on a lot about games, but I also wrote loads of other things. Of course I ran out of ideas very quickly so canvassed Twitter for suggestions, most of which I’ve accommodated. I made stuff up. I told stories. I wrote about true things. I divulged some opinions, explained how to do some technical stuff, and I even typed up words about politics. But mainly, I wrote about games.

In 2017 I don’t intend to write quite as frequently. Even though I technically didn’t compose a post each day (I’d often do several at once and queue them up), it still took a lot out of me in both time and ideas. I don’t want to return to a post every couple of months, but I definitely want three or four each week. Posting here so much means my Gaming Diary has been left to exist almost entirely for the purpose of reporting on games I’ve completed, rather than those as I’ve been playing them. I’ll see how it goes.

Looking back over my year, there are a few specific posts that stand out as those I’m either proud of or were just so ridiculous even I was surprised I published them. Here are a handful of the highlights:

See anything you like? Have any suggestions for other stuff to write about? Why not let me know!