My Most Treasured Memory of My Mom

Today is Mother's day and I've been sitting down watching cartoons with my son, @the_clone and it made me think of the ways my mother and I spent time together.  I have so many fond memories of my mother, when I was a kid, I don't think there was a single person I admired more than my mother.  In my mind, my mother could do anything.  

I like to describe my mom as the best combination of Bob Villa, Bob Ross, and Martha Stewart. It seemed like she knew how to do everything!  I remember when my mom inherited her mother's house and my parents decided to remodel it.  I can't remember having contractors around, but what I do remember is seeing my mom working on almost every piece of the project: Putting up sheetrock, laying carpet, replumbing and wiring the house, putting in new windows, installing vinyl siding, and even doing roofing work.  She also loved to paint, I remember her watching epidoes of Bob Ross' shows all the time to hone her oil painting skills.  She used to love to paint landscape scenes, rivers with forests near by, ocean scenes with sailing ships and seagulls, and various other things.  

I remember her sitting me down with this old art books that had a tutorial on drawing a covered bridge over a lake with trees in the background.  She was so proud of me when I finally got the hang of drawing perspectives and my covered bridge looked just like the tutorial.  She had quite an eye for design too, when I was in my early teens, she had a thing for stenciling. She wanted to stencil the walls of the house with ivy and various other designs.  

image from upload.wikimedia.orgThere was so much more to my mom than just that though, she showed interest in the things that I liked.  My family got by with a modest income but I always remember when something was really important to me, somehow I got it.  Some time in the late 80s, our family got an NES.  Our very first games were Mario Brothers and Legend of Zelda.  I remember watching my mom play the original Legend of Zelda very frequently.  She knew every bush to burn, rock to push, gravestone to push, and every other hidden item in both the 1st and 2nd quest.  Back in those days, they didn't really publish game guides, but Nintendo published a magazine called "Nintendo Power" which would occasionally have full coloured maps and such for the most popular Nintendo titles.

Our modest living didn't quite allow the room to have a regular subscription to this magazine and so my mom's solution was to get multiple sheets of graph paper and square by square she mapped out the entire world of Legend of Zelda both the 1st and 2nd world.  She marked every hidden spot she knew of and when she was finished it spanned mulitple pieces of graph paper.  She even loaned the map out to close friends and family who didn't have a Nintendo Power subscription.  If there is one thing I wish I could have more than anything, it would be my mom's Legend of Zelda map. I'd frame it and put it up on my livingroom wall.  She put so much attention to detail into that map.  

She never stopped gaming during the entire time I knew her.  She and I would play boardgames, card games, and video games all the time.  When I got into Magic: The Gathering, she humoured me by learning how to play.  I still remember the very first game we played, I had a mono blue permission deck (a deck composed of cards intended to primarily counter spells) and I let her use a Green sapling deck of mine.  Every time I'd play an instant or an interrupt, she'd accuse me of cheating and laugh as I would explain the individual rules to her.

Now that I've told you the absolute happy memories of my mom, I want to share a very private story that is both sad and happy which took place when I was 16 years old.  It's the story of the last time my mother and I gamed together ever. July 19th 1998 (a Sunday), a date I'll remember for the rest of my life. 

image from upload.wikimedia.orgOne of my mom's new favourite games was the original Diablo.  She'd beaten the game repeatedly and I was more interested in playing with the character hacker and being an asshole PKer.  That night, I had convinced my mom to play on Battlenet with me on my character (which had been hacked to be unreasonably stronger than most other characters).  Her job was to control the character and my job was to type/talk to other players on BattleNet and we even used my hacked character.  

We were going through the first dungeon to take down The Butcher with other people online and I turned to her and said, "Hey mom.  Attack that player.  Just do it."  She turned and looked at me aghast. 

She said to me, "That's mean!" and gave me a rather incredulous look, but did it.  The player died and dropped an ear, they cursed at us and I (being a jerk teenager) taunted them (playfully) over chat.  For the next few hours, my mother was on a player killing spree.  She was laughing so hard that tears had welled in her eyes and I couldn't remember ever having as much fun playing video games with my mom before in my life.  

It was nearly impossible to drag either of us away, but I had work in the morning and she had a doctor's appointment.  That Friday, my mom had experienced headaches and chest pains.  Her doctor wasn't concerned enough to have her to go the ER, so she had a doctor's appointment that Monday while I was at work.

I'm incredibly lucky to have had such an amazing time with my mother.  It was the last time I'd play a video game with my mom ever.  Some time around midday Monday July 20th 1998, my mother died at home.  I never got a chance to game with her again.  

I know this story must sound incredibly sad, and writing it brings tears to my eyes, but I couldn't have asked for a better "last moments" with my mom.  The woman who could do anything, was stronger than anyone else's mom I knew, could devour books in mere hours, and was my best friend.  

I feel so lucky that my last memories of my mom were so happy, both of us were intensely happy that night.  We laughed until we cried and I could be as silly as I wanted around her (at 16, not many girls probably liked being incredibly silly).  

I've never shared this story in such depth except for with a few close friends. It's my most treasured memory of my mother ever.  I couldn't have asked for a better last moment with my mom.  That moment was the penultimate expression of exactly why my mother was my best friend in life. 

Thank you all for letting me share this memory with you.  

“N’Gasta! Kvata! Kvakis!” I found Esperanto in Skyrim!

N'Gasta! Kvata! Kvakis!

I found this interesting bit in Skyrim and it gave me a neat project to play with.  I’m sure most of you are already aware that I’m somewhat of an Esperanto-phile and I’m always on the watch for neat usages of Esperanto in popular media.

So I was just chilling at the Bard’s College, looking around what what I could loot and sell when I came across a book with an unusual title: “N’Gasta! Kvata! Kvakis!

I don’t come across many languages that have “kv” starting a word except for esperanto.  The numbers 4 and 5 are “Kvar” and “Kvin” and so I loaded up to see if I could come up with a translation for Kvati or Kvaki.  Sure enough, Kvaki came up with a hit. 


“SCORE!” I thought to myself as I opened up the book to get more of it’s contents.  I was hoping to discover some more Esperanto in there.  

Book 2

It didn’t look entirely esperanto, but there were definitely some esperanto-ish things in there.  If you can’t read the text from the picture here it is:

An obscure text written in the language of the Sload by a necromancer

“N’Gasta! Kvata! Kvakis! ahkstas so novajxletero (oix jhemile) so Ranetauw. Ricevas gxin pagintaj membrauw kaj aliaj individuauw, kiujn iamaniere tusxas so raneta aktivado. En gxi aperas informauw unuavice pri so lokauw so cxiumonataj kunvenauw, sed nature ankoix pri aliaj aktuasoj aktivecauw so societo. Ne malofte enahkstas krome plej diversaspekta materialo eduka oix distra.

So interreta Kvako (retletera kaj verjheauw) ahkstas unufsonke alternativaj kanasouw por distribui so enhavon so papera Kva! Kvak!. Sed alifsonke so enhavauw so diversaj verjheauw antoixvible ne povas kaj ecx ne vus cxiam ahksti centprocente so sama. En malvaste cirkusonta paperfolio ekzemple ebsos publikigi ilustrajxauwn, kiuj pro kopirajtaj kiasouw ne ahkstas uzebsoj en so interreto. Alifsonke so masoltaj kostauw reta distribuo forigas so spacajn limigauwn kaj permahksas pli ampleksan enhavon, por ne paroli pri gxishora aktualeco.

Tiuj cirkonstancauw rahkspeguligxos en so aspekto so Kvakoa, kiu ja cetere servos ankoix kiel gxeneraso retejo so ranetauw.”

There were only a few things that didn’t make sense to me, so I decided to change a few things I didn’t recall ever seeing in Esperanto.  I found multiple words that looked sort of like the Esperanto verb for “to be” but there were letters that were wrong.  The words “ahkstas” and “ahksti” led me to believe these were intended to be “esti” instead and I changed all of the instances of ahk to e. 

The next thing that looked familiar was “ankoix” – I’d never seen the oix used and determined that they might be using X-notionation here instead of doing the cirumflexes.  I decided that this word must be the Esperanto word for “also or as well” – ankaŭ or with X-notation it’d be ankaux.  So I replaced every instance of “oix” with “aux” and made a couple more words make sense.

I found at least three more things that needed replacing before I finally came up with real Esperanto:

N’Gasta! Kvata! Kvakis! estas la novajxletero (aux simile) la Ranetoj. Ricevas gxin pagintaj membroj kaj aliaj individuoj, kiujn iamaniere tusxas la raneta aktivado. En gxi aperas informoj unuavice pri la lokoj la cxiumonataj kunvenoj, sed nature ankaux pri aliaj aktuasoj aktivecoj la societo. Ne malofte enestas krome plej diversaspekta materialo eduka aux distra.

La interreta Kvako (retletera kaj versioj) estas unuflanke alternativaj kanaloj por distribui so enhavon la papera Kva! Kvak!. Sed aliflanke la enhavoj la diversaj versioj antauxvible ne povas kaj ecx ne vus cxiam esti centprocente la sama. En malvaste cirkulanta paperfolio ekzemple eblas publikigi ilustrajxojn, kiuj pro kopirajtaj kialoj ne estas uzeblaj en la interreto. Aliflanke la malaltaj kostoj reta distribuo forigas la spacajn limigojn kaj permesas pli ampleksan enhavon, por ne paroli pri gxishora aktualeco.

Tiuj cirkonstancoj respeguligxos en la aspekto la Kvakoa, kiu ja cetere servos ankaux kiel gxenerala retejo la ranetoj.

Here is a translation

The Croak is the newsletter (or something similar) of the small frogs. It is send to paying members and other individuals who, in some way, are involved in the small frogs activities. In it there firstly is information about the locations of the monthly meetings, but of course also concerning the latest activities of the club. Sometimes it also includes other educating or entertaining material.

The internet-based Croak (e-mail and web versions) are on the one hand another distribution channel for the contents of the paper version. But on the other hand, not surprisingly, the contents of the different versions can’t and even must not always be 100 percent the same. For instance, in little circulating paper versions you can publish illustrations that for copyright reasons can’t be used on the internet. Yet on the other hand the low costs oft the internet version lift the space limits and allow more content, not to mention being always to date.

These circumstances influence the web-based Croak, which will also serve as the general homepage of the small frogs.

Today’s E3 Roundup

It’s no secret that I’m a huge gamer. I’ve been to several gaming expos/cons as both a consumer and press, but E3 has always been the pinnacle of game industry news and sneak peeks at the latest games and new technologies coming to the homes of gamers across the world. Today, I wanted to curate the hot topics from the various press conferences that took place today. Obviously this isn’t inclusive of everything, but more of what caught my eye.

Microsoft Press Conference

At the Microsoft press conference, we got to see updates to the Xbox as well as some previews of games which will support the Kinect. In the clip below, check out the sneak peak that Joystiq gives us of the new UI for Xbox. They’ve done a lot to clean up the UI, but most importantly you will be able to see Bing supported search results, more streaming video and a very smooth interface for the XBLA marketplace.


Minecraft comes to Xbox

Mojang will be working towards finishing a complete, console-friendly version of Minecraft due this fall Holiday season, which should be around the time when the PC and Mac versions of the game finish beta mode.

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Starwars Kinect

The game features everything that you could possibly imagine from a Star Wars Kinect game, yes you can control a lightsaber and swing it around. And yes you can control the force with your hands.
You have the ultimate power of a Jedi in your hands as you ride Speeder bikes and interact with Imperial Walkers in the classic Cloud City. You can control your Jedi by dodging forward, moving side to side and slashing droids to piece with your lightsaber

Games for the Little ones

While not quite making the waves like the more mature games announced and displayed at E3 this year are, you can be sure you’ll be hearing about these new titles if you have young kids in your home. Developed with the 3-12 year old kid in mind, your gaming area is about to resemble a warzone of a different sort.

EA Press Conference & Mass Effect 3

Mass Effect 3, BioWare’s forthcoming action role-playing game will complete the final chapter in the Mass Effect trilogy. The game was originally delayed due to a packed holiday season, which will witness the release of some blockbuster games including the likes of Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, Batman: Arkham City, Elder Scrolls: Skyrim and more.
Mass Effect 3 will take place after the events of the Mass Effect 2 downloadable content pack Arrival. The game’s protagonist Commander Shepard will embark on an adventure which sees him trying to save the galaxy from the Reapers.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

Awesome new game releases

In addition to all of the above news, there are some really awesome games that I’ve been super excited to hear about, games that I’ll certainly purchase as soon as they are released.

Assassin’s Creed: Revelations

For the E3 demo, we join Ezio as he prepares to leave the city and seek out his Templar nemesis. First he talks to the local Assassin’s guild chief Yusuf and discovers that the harbour has been blockaded with ships and barricaded with a large chain drawn from the old Tower of Gelata.


Rocksmith will include a unique quarter-inch to USB cable, that is the first of its kind, and will allow users to plug any real guitar with a quarter-inch jack directly into their Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, or PC.

Fable: The Journey

At Microsoft’s E3 2011 press conference Peter Molyneux revealed the next game in its action role-playing series. Fable: The Journey will utilize Kinect functionality for things like controlling horses while riding in a carriage, casting spells and swiping swords in melee combat.

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Skyrim will offer a wide world open to exploration, richly detailed on both a micro and macro scale. With over 150 dungeons and at least 300 hours of potential gameplay

Bioshock Infinite

There’s something more frightening in the world than a Big Daddy. BioShock Infinite introduces Songbird, a massive flying metal bird who serves as guardian to Elizabeth, the woman you’ve vowed to escort off the flying city of Colombia.

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Set in the near-future, Overstrike follows a team of four elite agents obliterating enemy strongholds using fringe-tech gadgets and lethal teamwork. The members of Overstrike 9 are comprised of an ex-mercenary, Interpol’s most wanted thief, a gifted young scientist and a decorated detective. Collectively, they are the agency’s outcasts.

For More Updates

That’s all I have for now, but definitely keep your eyes peeled on the clip below for more E3 updates this week:

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Help me rescue @JapanaRadio & @WNOHGB!

A dear friend of mine has a project dear to him that is in risk of going under. If any of you are Anime or Jpop music fans, I'd love for you to take a listen to Japan-a-Radio. It is an online radio station for Jpop and Anime music. Right now, Japan-a-Radio runs out of my friend's house on a T1 connection that he pays for himself with the assistance of donations and paid subscriptions to Japan-a-Radio (you can still listen to Japan-a-Radio for free still, it just has some adverts in it).

Not only am I good friends with the person who runs Japan-a-Radio but I also am a heavy user of another project of his that is run off of the same T1 line (that is also in risk). It's a Star Trek themed MOO that I've been playing for about two years now, I wrote about it here to get more players in the game.

Anyhow, this T1 line needs help and not only is it's livelihood important to my friend but it is important to me as well. If there is anything you guys can do to help out, that would be awesome. I've donated myself, but I can't give much more than I already have. However, as proof that I have put my own money up on this project I have a picture of the receipt for my donation.

How can you help? Obviously the most awesome way is by directly donating or buying a subscription to Japan-a-Radio here is the Donation page. I personally don't like asking strangers for money, so I would be just as thrilled if you could just go listen to Japan-a-Radio and spread the word. With luck, some one will appreciate the station and buy a subscription or drop a tip to Japan-a-Radio.

Please don't hesitate to contact me for any questions or you can reach out to my friend @Otaking on twitter if you have any questions about this :)


My latest addiction

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Let me first explain that I have a different definition of fun than most people do.  I enjoy writing, I enjoy theatre and I enjoy D&D greatly.  

That being said, let me describe this game that I play. For those of us who had the internet in the early 90s, games like MUDs, MUSHes and MOOs were our MMOs.  There was a big difference for me though, creating the characters and getting to play them out. Sure that sounds pretty nerdy, probably a lot more nerdy that writing fanfic but I swear it's lots of fun. 

So, the game that I have been playing is called "Where No One Has Gone Before" and it is a Star Trek themed text based role playing game.  Whew, that was a mouthful!  I use a program called Atlantis to log in with my Mac (you can use Telnet if you're really a sadist or SimpleMu if you're on windows).  

I've been playing at that game for almost a year and a half now and it's been the greatest time killer anywhere.  I recruited one friend and she has gotten addicted.  Now, if you haven't gotten an idea at all of what happens in a text based role playing game, then let me give you an example.  Check at the roleplay logs from the game.  That is the game and what happens every day in multiple places.  

I think that the Staff there are great, they have been very welcoming and helpful and I also have gotten friends with one of the guy who made it happen.  He's a really awesome person, he's @Otaking over on twitter.  He's certainly made my transition into the game and really made things great.

I can't say more than awesome things about it, it's a great deal of fun and the events that happen run by the Administration is very fun, witty and very involved.  I know that it might not seem your type of game, you might need some pictures or even some buttons to click but text really grows on a person. 

I encourage you to to go check out the wiki, I wrote a lot of the stuff on the Romulans.  You can find out about the timeline and some of the commands that you'll need to learn to play the game and get a feel for the characters that exist in game, read their stories and perhaps if you like it you'll join me.  If you figure out how to connect and want to make a character give me a shout out, my character's name is Ael'Ihhuein.  

Loving your geeky beau

I asked earlier today on Twitter, "You've got a geeky male love interest, how would you sweeten his day?" I was surprised by the responses, not the suggestions but more of the people who reached out to me privately saying, "Let me know what people say, I'm curious!" With stories of their geeky beau they want to make happy.

Without getting into the multitudes of types of geeky men, I can break this down in one answer: Show interest and curiosity in what he does. 

If you're beau is a programmer, you don't need to know how cache invalidation works, Big O notation or the finer points of functional programming, you just need to listen.  You're not going to understand everything, but I promise if you take a moment to ask him about his work he'll tell you.  If you have a programmer love interest, try asking them if they've "solved any cool problems this week," in regards to their job.  Chances are, you'll have them asking you if you seriously care (and do show interest) and then going on to tell you what they did. Perhaps they work at a webby startup and has been fighting some bug all week and after finally vanquishing it, discovered that they were able to speed up request times on the site they work for by a couple of milliseconds.  

It's not hard to talk to a programmer, even if you don't think you're not smart enough to hold a conversation with them.  I've only had good experiences talking with programmers, most of the ones I know are very opinionated and passionate about their specialties. Communication isn't a one way thing.  
I've known many a geeky male to be more than happy to sit back and let me talk about myself, my interests and my work.  That's not a conversation though, don't let them get away with being listeners.  You also don't have to pretend to understand what they are talking about to get them to converse and potentially respect you.  

Which brings me to my next point, there is no shame in telling some one "I don't know." Repeat that phrase, learn it and embrace it.  You'll gain far more appreciation and respect if you own up to things you don't know and seem willing to learn.  Learning doesn't mean being a master of something, it just means knowing more about a subject than you knew five minutes prior.

The above suggestions can go for whatever genre of geekery your interest is into, be it video games, physics, medicine, programming or math (and all the other genres of geekery).  It really doesn't matter, just show interest.  Nine times out of ten, you'll not only get an explanation of what your interest did at work, but they will also try their best to explain what it means to you in laymen terms so that you can better follow the conversation.

I'm sure you probably were thinking I'd have a list of things you could buy your geek instead of something as simple as "listen." So, I've put together a list of nice things that I know some geeks appreciate:

  • Composition Book - This is half line paper and half graph paper, if you have yourself a programmer or an electronics aficionado this composition book is great for mathematical proofs and circuit diagrams with notation.
  • World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War –  Check to see if they don't own this already!  Not only is this book a great read, it's about zombies too!
  • IM Me Device – If it's a hardware hacker you've got on your hands, this little device is a really great way to have a hackable radio on the cheap. 
  • Cling-on whiteboard sheets – Whiteboards are the vitae of many a geek's life.  These are static cling on whiteboard sheets that one can plop up on their wall for some giant sized whiteboard awesomeness.
  • Dr. Who USB Hub – There is never enough USB ports for all of your devices, why not let him celebrate it with geekery.
  • Battlestar Galactica, the boardgame – YES It exists, surprise your geek with it and enjoy this "semi-cooperative" game with them.
  • Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers – Chances are, if they are a boardgame geek they already have the original Carcassonne.  Do they have this version yet?  Also, why aren't you playing Carcassonne with your boardgame geek yet?
  • Cowboy Bebop CD Box Set – I've yet to meet an anime geek who didn't absolutely love the Cowboy Bebop soundtrack and cheaper than the entire DVD set.
  • The Black Mages: Final Fantasy – If you have a gamer geek on your hands, they might appreciate this collection of final fantasy music. 

If you have any suggestions or additions leave me a comment or tweet me to: @tia_marie

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