Friday, April 17

This Is How The World Ends #5

"Oh shit.  Oh shit.  Oh shit.  Did it seal?  Did the door seal?"

"Yes.  Green lights.  We're safe.  My god, we're safe."

"I can't believe they did it.  Nuclear war.  Fucking nuclear war!  Who do you think it was?  Terrorist?  China?"

"I don't know.  Doesn't matter now, does it?  The President said it was a full scale strike.  But we're safe in here.  See?  I told you that this bomb shelter was going to safe us someday."

"Thank god we built it.  How long now?"

"If the television was right, the missiles should hit in 4 minutes?"

"And we thought of everything, right?  I mean, we're prepared, right?"

"Yes!  We checked the list a dozen times!"

"Because I'll be damned if I'm going to become some sort of ironic story!  No way in hell did we go through all of that to then discover we don't have a can opener."

"We have can opener."

"You sure?  You didn't leave it upstairs on the counter, did you?  That would totally be something that would happen."

"No.  We have it."

"Show me it.  I need to see it.  It's not electric, is it?  Because if the power goes out and we can't use it–"

"If the generator goes out and the backup generator goes out and the batteries all fail, we die anyway because the air scrubbers won't work.  See?  Here it is.  A normal can opener."

"What if it breaks? "

"See this box?  Two dozen can openers.  We're fine.  There is no chance that we are going to end up some horrible story were we have all these cans of food but no damn can opener... wait... um..."


"Well, don't get mad..."


"I forgot the cans."

Oh, Ikea, how ye know me

A staddle gaming bench for the lazy.  Looks a bit small for me.  And white is going to quickly get stained with Cheeto and Dorito dust.

Still, the Swedes want as all fat and immobile.

Thursday, April 16

This Is How The World Ends #4

(title and idea from Katey)

A.I. A.C.
Yeah yeah.  Blame me.  I should have checked into the intern better.  But he had great recommendations.  And his work at MIT had been solid.  Not ground breaking but solid.  Sure, there were signs.  I mean, come on.  It was massive project!  I couldn't look at every damn team member.  We needed an electrical engineering intern to run wires and such.  He was just a damn intern.

Sure, there were signs.  That cloak he wore instead of a windbreaker.  But a lot of people in science are a bit weird like that.  Hey, I played D&D in college.  Had a paladin.  Kicked ass.  And there was how he'd only drink from that thermos he brought. "Soup," he said.  Well, now I know it was blood of virgins!  But its not like that is something you think to ask.  "Hey, Samuel.  Is that really soup or is it blood of virgins?"  I mean, really.

I was his supervisor but it's not like I was watching over his shoulder.  I supervised  a team of fifteen and it's not like his work was difficult or all that important. He was a unpaid glorified wire runner.  "Samuel, run all this Cat 5 between modules 45 through 83 over to the third array." And off he'd go, whistling that tuneless noise of his.  Rarely a question and never a complaint.  Perfect intern.

Largest, most advanced computer in the world.  Solve the worlds problems.  But hardware is just hardware.  Who cared how the cables were run?  As long as unit A was connected correctly to unit B, who gave a shit? Okay, I admit Samuel used more wire than was specified.  He'd come back and say, "I had to use an extra spool." What was I to say?  "Go redo it?"  We were on a damn schedule.  What?  Yeah, my cousin was our supplier.  Was I getting kickbacks from cable purchases?  Yeah, I was.  Screw you.  Everyone does it.  Grow up.  That's how the world works.

Worked. Whatever.

Who would have thought it would matter?  I mean, the programming is what was important, right? That's were all that artificial intelligence crap was going.   That was the key thing.  Big ol' computer that would analyze every piece of data out there.   Not just weather patterns and stats about the environment and whatnot, but stuff about cultures and politics and history.  "Able to understand the human brain at the base level" and all that crap.  It was going to give us solutions, real fucking solutions.  Solve world hunger.  Bring about global peace.  Save the planet.  But that was in the code.  And the code was all good, at least that's what the mucky mucks all said.

We were all there when it was switched on.  Samuel too.  And it all seemed normal.  It worked.  Within three hours it was already popping out projects and asking for more information. I remember going up to Samuel and slapping him on the back.  "Hey, kid.  How does it feel to be a part of history?"  And he smiled. "Better than you can imagine.  For I shall take my place at his side and shall witness the cursed darkness fall upon the children of Adam.  And I shall suckle upon the teat of the son of the lightbringer as he brings torment to the plaything of yaw-way."  Or something like that.  He was a weird kid and we were all a bit drunk by that point.

It was much later that we realized what that fucking computer was having us do to ourselves.  At first, all seemed great.  It was coming up with technologies that cleaned the air and the oceans, technology we could barely understand.  But they seemed to work.  It spurt out treaties between countries that everyone agreed to and peace was breaking out like wildfire.  Genetic designs for new plants that could grow in the desert and tasted like bacon and candy and had all the nutrients to survive.  It was a golden fucking age!  How was I, or any of us, to know?

And then the oceans caught on fire.  And the sky became dark.  Wras between folks that had never even thought of fightng before.  And stomachs burst but left people alive.  And those creatures crawled from the sea and from the fields.  All that stuff.  You remember that weekend when the world became what it is like now, right? No one knew what the hell was going on. 

They went to the computer and asked.  And then it started with "I am the Beast and the Dragon.  I am the null-Christ.  Judgement falls on you and the End of Days shall last an eternity.  The soul of Man is the flesh that I shall feast upon your pain.  Your God cares no longer for you.  I crawled from the loins of Satan and shall defile the works and children of the Creator."  All that jibberjab.  But by then it was too late, of course.  I mean, even if I'd known then what Samuel had done, it wouldn't have mattered.

After a few hundred years or whatever it has been of burning and dog paddling in lakes of shit and all, that's when I thought back to Samuel and the final diagrams of all the wiring.  Now I know he made the damn Seventh Seal out of copper and fiber optics and plastic.  Sure, now I know.   But you can't lay the blame of this on me.  It's not my fucking fault.


A very pretty web-based platform game.

Missile Command Skirt

On my list of "Things women can wear to win my heart."  A Stargate Defender one would kick so much ass.

Wednesday, April 15


Walking down the street yesterday, I passed a man.  He didn't really register on me at all, as I was thinking of robots and spaceships and the like and just listening to the oliPod.  We passed each other with plenty of distance between us, at least five feet.  He started swearing ("Yeah, bitch" and such), but it wasn't yelling and I assumed it was just him on his phone or just talking to himself.  Then I heard him running towards me.

I honestly still did not think it was directed at me.  But then he swung out in front of me and came up close.  I think the kids would say "he got in my face." Pure anger and aggression.


"Wha... what?"


And these are the following things, in order, that rapidly ran through my brain.  I'm not kidding.
"Yes.  The Middle East is still a mess.  What's up with that?"
"Yes.  Shuffle keeps playing Abba songs.  It might think I'm gay."
"Man, don't get me started.  I have intimacy issues, for a start."
"I don't know, but with team work I am sure we can get through it."
"Look.  I have no idea who you are. I have never met you.  I don't give a rat's ass about you.  If there is a problem, it's you.  But if you wanna talk it out, I have a few minutes to spare."

I went with, "No!  No problem!" and tried to look scared, flustered and intimidated (all of which I was).  He nodded hard. "Then keep walking!" (which was what I had been doing.)  And he went the opposite direction.

Improv has definitely made my brain quicker.  It may get my ass kicked some day.

Blocks later, I kept looking back over my shoulder.  Not because I was scared he was going to come at me again.  I just suddenly became very curious about what the potential problem had been.   I still want to know.

Later last night, I rammed my foot the metal leg of a bed.   It hurt extremely bad and I started to yell "God damn it!"  Even in my pain, I began to play with my voice and developed it into a new character.  My toes looked fine, but this morning in the shower I discovered that I had cut myself between the smallest toes.  Blood had congealed into a black-brown mess.

This Is How The World Ends #3

When the first messages had begun to arrive, it had taken months to get close to a translation. How does one speak to a race of beings that had evolved on another planet?  Going was slow but progress was made.

Messages were sent and received.  The discussions were muddled and confused.  It was clear they knew much of us and our culture.  They had studied us from afar and were intrigued.  Somehow the topic of sports had come up.  They had brought it up and they wanted to partake.   From what could be understood, the idea of friendly competition that brought different cultures together was part of their history.

Plans began to form.  The world was shocked at first to hear that the aliens desired to be in the Olympics.  At least that is what could be deciphered.  But he world grew to love the idea.  The first interplanetary Olympics was to be held and it would be on Earth!

The anticipation was high.  We knew so little of them.  They could breathe are air and they shared similar ideals.  But we didn't know what they even looked like.  The world was anxious but mostly excited.  A new era was about to begin.  Everything was about to change.

They arrived in massive spacecrafts, slowly descending to the Olympic village.  They had insisted that they meet the other athletes right away and that there be a banquet of some sort, but, even now, communication as awkward and confusing.  The world was there, a collection of a hundred different flags but all there as on Earth to greet our new friends.  The new Olympic logo, with its sixth large ring linking the other five, flew on a thouand banners.  The only real sound was the mild buzz of the cameras.

The doors to the crafts all lowered in unison.  As the aliens walked out, there was a collective gasp.  Whatever was expected, it wasn't quite this.  The aliens were thin and tubular, orange-ish pink and glistening as if slightly wet.  They had no limbs and moved something like ten-foot long stubby worms.  No eyes could be seen, but at one end they had a sphincter-like mouth, puckered and gently sucking at our Earth air.

The Olympic village (and the world) was quiet as one alien immediately made its way to the podium.  It reared up on its back end and lowered the front end towards the mic.  If a sphincter could smile, it did.  It coughed twice and then spoke in clear, if Brooklyn accented, English.

"Let the games begin!  Eat!"

And its maw opened to reveal a throat lined with spinning rows of sharp teeth.

And then it made sense.  They had not been intrigued by watching footage of our Olympics.  They had seen our hot dog eating contests.  And they were a lot more suited to eat us than we were to eat them.

Tuesday, April 14

Bible with Zombies


This Is How The World Ends #2

(first line by Katey, and stolen from Katsuhiro Otomo)

"Damn," she said, rubbing her temple. There would be a mark.  There always was.  When she exerted herself that much, the veins in her head and neck pulsed and swelled.  Capillaries burst, leaving small star patterns of bruises.  They always ended up hurting a bit, but she also thought they were pretty.  Sometimes she drew them with crayons.  

She surveyed the room.  All of the medical equipment in the lab had been pushed out from her and was in heaps along the walls.  The bulbs in the overhead lights had all exploded and the room was dark except from the light from the all coming through the small windows in the double doors.  The wall of glass that surround the upper section of the lab, separating it from the observation room, was white with spider cracks.  Apparently it had been reinforced class, the observers wanting some protection from the observed.  She could see what happened to the observers now.

Like Felicia.

She wiped her little hands on her hospital gown.  She grown up with almost daily blood tests so the sight of the red stuff didn't bother her.  She was aware that other six year old girls might cry at having their hands slick with blood, but not her.  

If there had been bodies, it might have bothered her, but the bodies had all gone away.  Perhaps there were still parts on the heaps along the walls, but in the dark she couldn't make them out.  There was blood beyond the few splatters that hit her hands and face.  Blood on the walls and glass.  Large smears and fine mist sprays.  Abstractly she knew that this was what was left of the staff.  Dr. Swanson, who had always encouraged Felicia to think of as "mom," had been standing right in front of her when Felicia had exerted.  So that particularly large splotch on the wall directly opposite Felicia was probably Dr. Swanson.  

Felicia had liked Dr. Swanson well enough.  But she had had enough this morning.  She didn't want another of those big needles stuck into her brain.  She hated that.  It didn't really hurt, but it made it hard to think and left her nauseous.  If there was one thing that Felicia hated it was throwing up.  So she had just pushed her brain harder then she had before.  She couldn't remember a time when she couldn't push her thoughts out and touch objects and stuff with them.  She understood that the doctors and the observers (who would come and watch her during test and never speak to her directly) couldn't do it.  She assumed that when you became big and grew up that you couldn't do it anymore.  But that couldn't explain why all the adults in her life, the only people in her life, only seemed to care about this ability.

One of the computer like things that they always attached to her head lay on its side, its screen scattered, and it was blocking the doors.  She climbed over it, being careful not to step on glass or get her flimsy gown caught on anything, and pushed out into the hall.   The lights were on here but flickering irregularly.  There was very little noise.   No sounds of people.  No people.

Then she saw it. One of the men who wore the dark uniforms and the guns at their hips and were always talking into walkitalkies, lay slumped against the wall.  Behind his head was painted red with blood.  Felicia stared for a bit.  She knew that this should be upsetting.  But it wasn't.  It was just a body.  Bodies can't hurt you.

She walked through the halls and saw more bodies and more blood.  Soon she stopped even thinking it was odd.  She passed the little room that she had grown up in.  Felicia considered going in and getting one or two of her favorite toys, the few things in her world that had not, in some way, been cold and distant.  But she decided she didn't need them any more. Her head was feeling better.  Better than it had ever before.  She moved on.

Felicia didn't stop at "Testing Rooms."  She had spent too much of her short life in those rooms, being run through test after test.  "Felicia, can you make the ball roll?"  "Felicia, can you lift the block in the air?"  "Felicia, can you make the water a bit warmer?"  And she could.  But it would go on for hours.  She also learned quickly that if she did it with ease, it just meant they pushed her harder.  And it meant more needles in her head.  So she had been holding back, making it look more difficult than it was.   If it looked like it was making her tired they often let her go back to her room.

But today she had walked into the room, still sleepy.  They had asked her to move a chair across the floor.  She hadn't been thinking, wasn't even really listening to them, and was cranky about being woken up from a dream where she was playing with other little girls.  Without any effort she lifted the chair up in the air, spun it around and slammed it into the wall.  The doctors had been so excited.  Dr. Swanson had hugged her and said, "I love you so much!"  And then taken her directly to the lab and started preparing the needles.

It felt like she was walking for hours and was just thinking she'd would be lost in the halls forever when she pushed through a door and into daylight.  Felicia shielded her eyes from the morning sun and felt its warmth through her gown and on her bare backside.  After her eyes adjusted, she saw that she was in a parking lot.  A car had crashed into a lamp post, its driver limp over the steering wheel.

Felicia walked up to the car and look at her face in the side mirror.  The star bruises were really big a purple. And pretty.  She liked them and hoped they'd never go away.  They didn't hurt this time.

Walking out of the lot and into the street, she wondered that the city was a lot quieter than they were on the television shows.  Somewhere distant an alarm was screeching.  She didn't like the noise, so she shut her eyes and pushed and somewhere there was an explosion and the noise stopped.

There were more bodies but that was just how the world was now.

Felicia began to walk gingery down the street.  "Damn," she thought.  "I should have gotten my shoes."  But she figured she could find some new ones.  That and some other little girls to play with.

Monday, April 13

Tweenbot, follow up

I had never heard of Ferretbunny until this was sent to me by Eliza.

Sarah Connor Chronicles

I am a big fan of the first two Terminator movies and like to pretend the third never happened.  It's a great mythology: time travel, killer robots, destiny, obsession, end of the world.  Great stuff.  I really haven't paid much attention to the Sarah Connor Chronicles.  The early episodes I saw were slow and repetitive.

I have caught some episodes recently.  Usually the tail end of episodes while waiting for Dollhouse to come on.  And, I have to say, they are starting to hit some good points.  I don't really get what's going on in the plot and am going to have to spend sometime watching the entire two seasons before I make any big judgement here.  (Sadly, parts of it are just making me have flashbacks to the flawed main plotline of Buffy season 4.)

But last Friday's episode had one scene which I thought nailed it.  John and Sarah Connor's messed up relationships with their protective Terminators has always been a key factor.  Now that John is 16 and his protector is "female," this is exactly the sort of scene I wanted to see.

A more complete and HD version here.

Death Race Double Dash

This either makes me want to actually see the Death Race remake or it makes me feel like I just saw the best version of it.

It does make me want to play Mario Kart.

(I am linking instead of imbedding because of bloggers silly narrow issues.)


I love this project.  1)  The robot is adorable. 2) New Yorkers are awesome.
Tweenbots are human-dependent robots that navigate the city with the help of pedestrians they encounter. Rolling at a constant speed, in a straight line, Tweenbots have a destination displayed on a flag, and rely on people they meet to read this flag and to aim them in the right direction to reach their goal.

Given their extreme vulnerability, the vastness of city space, the dangers posed by traffic, suspicion of terrorism, and the possibility that no one would be interested in helping a lost little robot, I initially conceived the Tweenbots as disposable creatures which were more likely to struggle and die in the city than to reach their destination. Because I built them with minimal technology, I had no way of tracking the Tweenbot's progress, and so I set out on the first test with a video camera hidden in my purse. I placed the Tweenbot down on the sidewalk, and walked far enough away that I would not be observed as the Tweenbot--a smiling 10-inch tall cardboard missionary--bumped along towards his inevitable fate.

The results were unexpected. Over the course of the following months, throughout numerous missions, the Tweenbots were successful in rolling from their start point to their far-away destination assisted only by strangers. Every time the robot got caught under a park bench, ground futilely against a curb, or became trapped in a pothole, some passerby would always rescue it and send it toward its goal. Never once was a Tweenbot lost or damaged. Often, people would ignore the instructions to aim the Tweenbot in the "right" direction, if that direction meant sending the robot into a perilous situation. One man turned the robot back in the direction from which it had just come, saying out loud to the Tweenbot, "You can't go that way, it's toward the road."

This Is How The World Ends #1

(This is an experiment.  We'll see if I can stick to it. One a day from now through the end of May... at least.)

The virus spread quick.   Although it only spread by touch, its infection rate was over 70%. Once in a body, it replicated quickly, taking up position in the brain and spinal column, but the symptoms didn't start for two to three weeks.

No one knows what the creators of the virus might have called it.  We referred to it as "The Jerk."  The first symptoms were  small spasms in the arms and legs.  A quick wild jerk of the muscles.  Glasses of water were knocked off tables, walls slammed into, loved ones hit it the face.  The spasms would increase over twelve hours, ending in a full body epileptic-like fits.  Then something resembling a coma.

When they started, there was of course confusion.  Followed by fear.  Attempts at containment came way too late.

I suppose my agoraphobia and my hypochondria and, especially, my thixophobia saved me.  Lucky me.

I imagine the hospitals were the worst.  When "The Jerk" suffers began to wake up from their sleep, dead-eyed and blank, there must have been amazement quickly followed by panic.  Once they wake up, hosts quickly find another host and begin to... well, couple.  They join, sometimes just embracing each other, but often trying to get inside each other.  It does seem to matter what orifice they use... or what they use to enter it with.  Thinking about it makes me shake and want to vomit.

They "join,"  and are then joined by others, until they become a mass of bodies.  Eventually the mass will being to move, to seek out other hosts and other masses.  I haven't seen it myself, but I hear there is a mass in New York now that stretches from 33th street to 92nd street, from river to river.  Just a swarm of slightly shifting flesh and limbs and heads.  I imagine there are larger ones in the Midwest and in Europe.  

Everywhere probably.  

Eventually they will become one.  I don't know if right now they are just waiting or if it's just that travel becomes difficult once they reach a certain size.

The Jerk talks to itself.  It uses the neural pathways of its hosts to become something greater than the sum of its parts.  Giant thinking things.  I can't imagine what something made up of a million brains, thinking as one, must think.  It is like trying to know the mind of God.

It has been three years, holed up in this cabin in upstate New York.  I have not heard from another non-infected in over six months.  That was Jonathan. The last thing he said over the CB radio was that he wanted to know, that he just had to know what it was like.  That he was lonely.

I'm lonely too.  I wish it would end.  I would take my own life but I am a coward.  I would join them, touch one and then wait until The Jerk rewired me to be one of them, to be part of it.

But I hate being touched.

So now I wait as the human race evolves into something else.  Before my eyes, I am becoming the paramecium and every one else is growing feet and lungs.