Dreadfully sorry…

…that today’s blog post is late. The reasons why will be explained shortly.

It’s been a busy week.

I turned 57 last Friday. Friday? (Checks calendar) Yeah, Friday. As you can tell I don’t pay a lot of attention to my birthdays. My mom came over, bought us lunch and gave me a card and a present. She brought along a birthday cake my sister, who is a certified baker, made for us. It’s delicious, and I generally don’t care for sweets.

My wife bought a wheelchair. Her back’s gotten very bad so walking any distance or standing for long is difficult and painful. So the chair is a great idea. She’s been kind of apartment bound since she arrived and now we can go places together.

The reason this blog is late is that my wife found a great software bargain. I got about $750 worth of software for $29. Among the programs is the game Bioshock 2. It’s one of those “just a couple of more minutes” games where you look up three hours later and realize it’s three hours later. It’s been a while since a first person shooter caught me like this. I like that you have to make ethical choices in this game also. It doesn’t happen often enough in gaming.

So, that’s it for this Monday. Have a great week, everybody.

I really enjoy being domestic

My wife and I bought a slow cooker on Friday. It was a great price, too good to be passed up.

Today we did a pork roast in it today. It turned out great. We’ve lots left for sandwiches and there will be enough for stew. Yum.

It’s probably because of where I used to live that I like doing this sort of thing so much. I lived in a house run by a charity. It was a place where people with problems, like I had at that time, could live while they got their acts together.

Unfortunately, some of those people with problems had problems that made them, um, difficult to live with. Sociopaths, psychopaths, general abusive control freaks were not uncommon roommates for me to have. This meant things like cooking meals could be dangerous. Some people decided the kitchen was theirs and were not above threats of violence and destruction of property in order to make their ownership clear.

So having a place of my own where I can cook a meal in safety is a joy to me.

My newest addiction

I have a new addiction. Well, maybe an old one restarted with a new version. Specifically I’m speaking about Civilization 5.

The Civ games have been around for a long time, about twenty five years now. I’ve been plating since Civ II. That one was lots of fun. Three wasn’t quite as enjoyable as I recall, but I still played it. Four was something I played every day.

And now Five is out. I think it may be my favorite of all, so far although it’s a little early to tell. There’s been a fair number of changes from Four.

The first, most noticeable change is that the map is now laid out in hexes rather than squares. This means that units move the same distance no matter how they move. There’s no diagonal moves which means a unit moves farther than when moving in a straight line.

The second most noticeable change is that you are limited to one unit per hex. In the previous games it was not uncommon to see a Stack of Doom, where a player stacked a gigantic number of units and just blew through their opponent. That doesn’t happen now and so more attention must be payed to tactics. There are units that can fire over other units such as archers and cannons which requires that you have depth to your battle lines. This is something I’m really enjoying. Your armed forces no longer have to be gigantic, just properly placed, and you have to have reserves.

In Civ 4 each civilization had a unique unit, one that had abilities other units didn’t have. For example the French had musketeers which had a movement of two rather than the one of musketmen which was what ever other civilization used. Now every civilization has two unique items which may be units (the Greeks have hoplites and companion cavalry) or a unit and a building (the Indians have war elephants and Mughal forts). It adds flavor to the game.

Another change is that some resources are limited in availability. Before, once you mined, say iron, you had enough for any purpose. Now you use up iron with the units you build. This means you have to think carefully about what you build. “Do I use an aluminum to build a hydro plant here? Or do I use it to build a rocket artillery? I can’t do both.” This adds depth to your strategic decisions, and forces you to improvise if you don’t get a lot of a strategic resource, which happens too often.

Another new thing is city-states. These are one city states that never expand. You can negotiate with them. If they become allies they will provide you with any resources they have access to, and you can move your units across their land. They may also provide you with food, culture, military units or even Great People under certain circumstances.

So I’ve been playing Civ 5 every day for a month now, and I am loving it. The designers have simplified the game where, in my opinion, it needed it. And they’ve made it deeper without making it more complex. Civ 5 is a lot of fun,

So if you like strategy games with a huge scope, get Civ 5. You won’t be disappointed.

Some features on hiatus during my illness

Friday Friends, Squb Saturday are on hiatus until further notice. I do not have the energy or stamina to do these plus the Wednesday Workshops and Two for Tuesday Reviews. I am trying to keep the features that I feel most readers will benefit from.

I hope to get the blog back up to muster by December 1st and maybe have some good and necessary changes by then also.

A new TV addiction

I’m not a big fan of television. I find most of the shows insipid. I’ve rarely seen The Simpsons save for The Treehouse of Horror! There is, I believe, someone named Snooki but that is the extent of my knowledge. I followed Game of Thrones for a while until I discovered there was no happy ending for anybody.

But I’ve recently discovered Torchwood, and I am loving it. It’s a sort of a British version of The X-Files, sort of. It’s also a spin-off of Doctor Who. One of the characters in Torchwood appeared on that show.

The premise is that at the end of the 19th Century Queen Victoria founded the Torchwood Institute to deal with supernatural, extraterrestrial and extra-dimensional threats. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference.

Oddly enough, I started in the middle of the series. This season was entitled Children of Earth. No spoilers but, damn, are the writers imaginative. Much of the time I had no idea what was happening and when I was I wished I didn’t because, man, was it creepy.

I’m almost through the fourth season which is called Miracle Day. The central event of the season is that one day, nobody dies. They can get hurt. They can be sick. They can get old. But they can’t die. Yeah, let that sink in and see how creepy that is.

There are a lot of familiar faces in season four as much of it took place in the US. Bill Pullman is his usual excellent self. C. Thomas Howell plays one of those human monsters he’s so good at playing. Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters 1&2, The Crow), Nana Visitor (Deep Space Nine) and John de Lancie (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager) all make appearances.

So, if you haven’t caught Torchwood yet, please do so. It’s one hell of a fine show.