WIKId Fact of the Day

Posted: July 7, 2013 in WIKId Facts

FLAMETHROWERS!

A flamethrower is an incendiary device that makes things over there catch fire from over here. Some of the earlier records of these are found in the Byzantine empire and used by the Greeks on board their ships around 600-700 AD. They used pumps which were man-powered to catapult and launch a fiery liquid, probably not much unlike modern day napalm on to their enemy’s wooden vessels. Bad day. China also picked up on the hot idea and made some flamethrowers of their own around 900 AD to fend off its borders from the Mongols. Modern day flamethrowers began their debut in World War I, where both sides used them to clear enemy trenches. Because military flamethrowers are liquid-based, meaning they use liquid as a fuel and propellant, they are able to “bounce” off corners and into holes, making the user capable of toasting things out of their line of sight. Flamethrowers continued to be used in most every war since in some way, no matter how small and still have military applications, if only used to scare the pants off the other side.

Flamethrowers are still the only surefire way to kill zombies and spiders.

I haven’t really devoted myself to any sort of consistent blogging and just kind of update my blog whenever I get inspired… But I thought that I would really try to start a new series every day. Something short and interesting to read in about five minutes. My idea was to write about an item, idea, or fact from one of the webs many Wiki sites and post it here on my blog. Sort of like an interesting fact of the day. I realize that Wiki articles and definitions aren’t always of the most accurate nature… But that’s part of the fun, ya? Anywho, this is more of an exercise for me than it is for someone to read this and brag about all the new knowledge they’ve obtained. But let’s give it a go and see if we can’t learn at least a little something in the process!

WIKId Fact of the Day!

An Arborist is someone who studies, cares for, or is involved in the business of pretty much anything that involves leaves and wood. Ironically, one can apply the term to someone who saves trees for a living, or cuts them down. A more casual term for an Arborist is “tree surgeon” which tends to lean towards the cutting side of the word. There are a ridiculous amount of sub-titles too that all fall under the word. From logging to preservation, anyone who has anything to do with trees for a living could technically label themselves an Arborist. Not an Arsonist, mind you, who would pride himself in a large forest fire, which Arborist would then come in to try to stop.

Image  —  Posted: July 6, 2013 in WIKId Facts

I had an interesting thought tonight. It was this. What if the world came to an end as we know it tomorrow? What if some huge political catastrophe went down and the leaders and governments of the world were to suddenly collapse? What would it take to survive and how would you work it out for you and your family? Priorities would rapidly shift and things very valuable now would suddenly turn utterly useless. In fact, it would be polar opposites. Things like paper money, jewels, and other things immediately thought of as being very valuable would be completely worthless in a world without a economy. The things that would be priceless are the things that we take advantage of know. Electricity, water, food, gas, and heat. 

The need for jobs would turn into the need for self-sustenance. The social flip would be catastrophic and those with a lot of education would suddenly be wondering how their desk job could help them grow food in their backyard. The learning curve would be swift and brutal. I can imagine that those people who we call “nuts” now preparing for the apocalypse would be having a grand time telling everyone, “I told you so,” while guarding their property with thousands of rounds of stockpiled ammunition meant for a zombie attack. 

But would it not also be liberating in a way? To fend for yourself? To owe no debts but the responsibility to keep you and your family alive and safe? To say, “I built this house with my own hands.” To eat, drink, and sleep of your own labor and handiwork. I can imagine that, given a little time, there would pride in people’s way of life again. People would begin to reach out more and help their neighbors in need. They would respect another man’s time, efforts, and abilities because they know the value of hard work. 

I think that in a way, a refresh button might just be what many people need. Something to remind them that life isn’t something that is to be given to you. You have to earn it. And in a world now where people work for the weekends, night life, and are constantly expecting more for less, they have forgotten what it means to earn their living. Instead, many have accepted the chance to mooch off others who do know what it means to do an honest day’s work.

What kind of survival instincts do you have? What traits, skills, abilities, or things would keep you alive if the world were to crash tomorrow? 

Scared Senseless

Posted: February 18, 2013 in Thoughtful thinking.
Tags: , , , , , ,

We all are afraid of something. There’s nobody who can go without something that is concerning them. Something that furrows their brow, or makes their palms sweat. There is fear in all of our lives whether or not we like to think about it.

Some of it is good! But when does a little bit of healthy fear turn into something that is dangerous. It’s when it begins to affect one’s judgement. It’s when we are willing to give up more than fear is worth to fear less. It’s when we are altering other’s lives to give ourselves comfort. It’s when we sacrifice and accept security over freedom.

Fear is the fog that shrouds wisdom and clear judgement. It is what makes rash decisions and does not listen to reason. It’s the motive behind every hasty accusation.

Life is scary sometimes. Freedom is scary sometimes. But it’s the price to pay for making one’s own way. Interestingly enough, once one has blazed their own path and faced their fears, the only thing that one really worries about is loosing all that they have built to those who are either too lazy or too scared to do it themselves. But one has to face that fear too, and fight for it, like they have for everything else.

Day to day

Posted: September 5, 2012 in Thoughtful thinking.

You know, more than going extremely tough circumstances, I believe that sometimes the hardest things in life are living from the day to day. Not knowing when things are going to change or if life will ever divert from its monotonous course is a daunting thing indeed. And sometimes, the thought of something never changing scares us more than the unknown when something does.

It takes a great amount of fortitude to wait for nothing. Especially if the current circumstance that one is in is unfavorable or painful. I have never had the horrible misfortune of losing someone as close as a brother, sister, or best friend, but I can imagine the pain from such loss must be seen as something that can never go away. But we can do nothing but wait, and the pain seems to grow greater each day as the memory reaches and sinks in further into your mind. We find ourselves coping with time itself and feel like we are in a race against it. If only somehow we could skip to when the pain is over and still keep the disposition and cheerfulness and joy that we have now because each and every day that passes seems like sandpaper against your will.

But it’s the sandpaper that smooths us. The daily friction of our clash with reality shapes and morphs us into the people we are and it’s up to us to make it for better or for worse. Do we let God use what hurts to help us learn and make us stronger? Or do we keep licking our wounds so that they never heal. There are times when it seems that we cannot help but think about our situation and our troubles, but time has a way of ending, and as long as we are willing to believe and fight for what is good, it will eventually be washed away.

We crave peace, we crave to just lean our heads back and rest without any sort of stress or discomfort upon our minds of some distant thing or problem. And we believe that the cause for all of our anguish is that the problem exists. That is what is easiest to think, and is what the Enemy would have you believe for the rest of your life so that you have to be chained to your misery. Truth is, problems will exist. For the remainder of your existence here on this flawed Earth, you will never see perfection in all aspects of your life. But it does not matter. Because true peace does not come from having a lack of problems, that’s called a fairytale. Peace comes from having problems, but yet trusting. believing, and fighting despite it all. Peace is what you feel in the middle of a storm, not when there is none. Because if one is not inside a storm, then there is one brewing. Such is life. There is always a problem around the bend. But it’s up to us to say, “You know what, no matter what the problem, the failure, the fear is, I will remain true to myself by putting my faith in Him who is above all problems put together.”

This isn’t negativity, or me being narcissistic. This is reality. What we normal humans have to live through and tolerate each day. We don’t like to talk about it, and we have set up an amazing way of avoiding it. But one way or another, sometimes things happen to someone who may or may not “deserve” it, however we calculate that, and we have to deal with it. It’s not bad, per say, it just is. But it REALLY helps that we know what to do when the time comes.

I’ll be honest with you guys, I haven’t always done my homework when it comes to facing life’s hurdles because I haven’t had many personally. It amazed me how quickly over the past few months when I have been gaining my independence from my parent’s home and covering, and am looking toward providing for a family of my own that fear can invade one’s thoughts, life and really put a cloud over life that I have never expected. Over the silliest things! But there they are nonetheless.

We have to be careful because if we don’t always have our eyes on God and his faithfulness, keep His Word, and ground ourselves in His Peace we begin to lose our identity in Christ. One day we wake up and are afraid, or see what we are without Him and begin down a path that is not meant for anyone to travel. God is our strength. Without him, we are alone, weak, and left to try to fight off the thoughts, plans, and attacks of Satan on our own. Every time we try to get back up, he slams us down again and grinds us down into the muck and mud. Just one moment ago, we were living on the highest mountain, being shown by God the wonders of his creation, now we are crawling on our hands and knees in the slime, mud and ooze, and being beaten by Satan’s worries, doubts, and fears while we try to escape the pit. It happens so quickly, and yet, we know it’s coming.

But there is hope. There always is hope. His light, His love remains constant and He never loves us any less for an instant. This is the reality that we must hold on so tightly to while we are being tossed about by the seemingly endless waves and winds.

Know this, that every good thing is from your Heavenly Father. He bestows His goodness upon you and all things that are negative, all things that are evil, are not things being dropped on you by Him, but rather are a fallout effect of living in this imperfect, flawed world with our sinful nature that we must fight against. But what seems so incredibly real down here, is actually the figment that is most fleeting. Our lives are a whisper in the symphony of eternity and we emphasize the notes of our tiny breath. Should we not be holding, and waiting in earnest for the grand sounds to come so we can add to the glorious music forever. We waste so much time trying to squeak out importance in this marble-sized world. Our real significance is yet to come. Think grander.

Be encouraged, you who are weary. Stay strong, those who are weak. God makes first those who are last, lifts up the humble and brings strength to the weak. Stop focusing upon your worries, doubts, stresses, and fears. Because it reaps only more. Look to God! Look to Him! He is waiting to capture you and free you!

I sincerely hope that those reading this find that the best way to win a battle is to surrender first. But surrender to God. Lay down your weary sword, tired warrior, put down your exhausted guard. And let the One whose strength is more than enough lift you up to the highest places and stay you there.

Battlefield 3

Posted: October 27, 2011 in Thoughtful thinking.

Ok, here’s where my nerdy side shows. I’m a recreational gamer. I love to pick up a controller and waste some precious time in the digital world of entertainment. It’s one of my hobbies, I suppose one could say. I’m pretty up to date on all the current gaming news, and while many games attract my attention, it takes either a really great game or a really good deal for me to buy one. Well, I gave in, and so far I’m happy that I did.

To say that Battlefield 3 hyped up this launch is like saying that soap is slippery, or that fire is hot. I have yet to see a more vamped-up, crazed launch than this. Halo 3 had some really classy, cool ads that became very popular, but Battlefield has been at it for months. And it wasn’t the calm, methodical, awe-inspiring ads that Bungie put out for their Master Chief. It was seemingly done haphazardly. Fans and haters alike were pelted with commercials and gameplay quite often until the release. There was so much gameplay involved that people almost felt like they played the game weeks before they ever got the game in their hands. At least, I did. The advertising team at EA didn’t let people get a coherent thought in before they threw another ad or game feature. This looks awesome, and gains a whole bunch of publicity, which is what DICE (the development team behind Battlefield 3) needs. However, the repercussions for such great fame and publicity is that they have built for themselves a tower of high expectations that could crumble if the game doesn’t hold up to its advertising word. It almost does.

Alright, campaign mode first. It’s my philosophy whenever I get any new game to complete the campaign before I touch the multiplayer. You know why? Because if I don’t, it never gets done. It’s also a great way to become associated with a game so one doesn’t get slaughtered in multiplayer as a newbie. Campaign is to me what vegetables are before dessert. Good for you, but not necessarily desired. And for this game, the vegetables were a tad underdone.

I’m not computer wizard or genius. I tip my hats to those who know such wizardry. So I have absolutely no idea what kind of work and effort goes into building a game back up from a new engine. (Frostbite 2, which is what Battlefield 3 uses) But this engine could definitely use a little bit of ironing out. It’s still got the factory wrinkles in it. Perhaps another one of my issues is the use of a console (xbox 360) instead of the platform-intended PC. But this game was, for the budget and time used to create it, pretty glitch heavy. Floating guns, light glare, furniture, and the like all made the otherwise beautiful graphics a tad sketchy. How can one take shooting an enemy from behind the cover of a hovering sofa seriously? It makes for a nice laugh, but when the glitches get ugly and start to turn on you it’s anything but funny.  I remember restarting a checkpoint because I died, (if you play it on hard like I did the first time through, plan on doing that A LOT) and the two AI members of my squad ran right through the closed door they were supposed to open. OK. Another time, I was right about to close upon an objective and my character decided walking was for mortals and simply floated right up to the checkpoint. He also seemed to get a mind of his own because I could no longer switch to any weapons. It’s a good thing a cutscene arrived or he might have just gone all skynet on me and begin shooting through the TV. Those were some of the more comedic ones…

Alright, its got some glitch marks. But that can be forgiven due to the enormity of the game. Wait… what? *Ahem* the campaign is only six hours long. Give or take. And about an hour of those have you punching enemies in interactive cutscenes. I happen to be a fan of those parts because I like the fact that I probably won’t be dying and it offers a reprieve from the normal humdrum hide-and-shoot. But I’m a percentage of the very few. Most gamers will be complaining that there were far too many of those particular scenarios. Also, Battlefield has a very unique flair to their game visuals. The entire game looks like a painting or movie. Smooth textures, flowing physics and whatnot. Unfortunately, this makes enemies outrageously hard to see, especially in the forest levels. I spent probably around 35% of my time in the campaign in the prone position crawling around and looking like a complete goober trying to find these enemies with my iron sights who are hitting me with pinpoint accuracy from 200 yards away from behind a rock and shooting over their shoulder. The lack of personal visibility will drive you bonkers, especially on a higher difficulty. It’s like they took all their time of the visuals of the environment, they forgot to make people the priority.

Now, my biggest gripe. The AI. If real life was like Battlefield 3, the Taliban, Russians, and any other group of people that I shot as an enemy as this game would have long since taken over America due to how ignorant American soldiers are, or how freaking awesome they are. Probably a combination of the two. The AI on any given ally in this game will by default: A) Expect you to do everything for them. And B) Get in your way as much as possible while you try to do it. It seems like the designers were more conserned about their computer friends than they were the intended player. If you play a mission with a squad setting, good luck trying to find decent cover, the AI takes all the good spots for themselves and has you crouching behind the milk cartons in the corner. And of course, due to the game’s cutting edge physics, it won’t let you push your darn teammates out of the way! Your teammates almost become invulnerable bunkers themselves as they hog and push their way through the fighting. And here’s a good one too. If they are scripted to run into a certain spot and you are standing there while in the middle of an outrageous firefight, too bad! They pummel you out into the open for the enemy’s target practice and then yell at you some more for not doing what they told you to do.

The saving points really stink sometimes as well. They seemed to have reserved the hardest parts for the longest save gaps. I swear I could do some parts of some levels with my eyes closed.

Weapons are great and diverse. There are many along the campaign road with loads of attachments that you can switch from any deceased enemy should you not like what you’re given. (And you probably won’t) Watch your cover though… just because you see someone in your sights doesn’t mean you barrel is clear of debris and your shots won’t go anywhere. The only way to shoot someone in this game is to put yourself in danger of getting shot by them. No freebies.

Sound is beautiful. Every scream, shout, and bullet whizzing by is crisp, and sounds exactly like what it should. Echoes in buildings and thuds after a bomb or grenade are all dead-on. My favorite part sound-wise was the fighter sequence. The take-off and radio chatter sounded awesome through the noise-muffled headphones of the pilot.

The story was a tad disappointing. It felt very generic and didn’t meet my expectations. The end was mediocre. The bad guy gets what’s his and the good guy… well… the good guy doesn’t fare a whole lot better… Nothing happened in the story that made me feel what I was doing was terribly important. At the very end I was asking if that was it, I mean, for the emphasis they placed on the game, I was expecting to save the universe…

Beware the profanity. Seriously. There’s enough to the point of tackiness.

The multiplayer is this game’s saving grace. Whatever points were lost for the campaign are gained back and more for the multiplayer, which is the real meat of this game. Maps are huge and there are more to choose from. The return of controllable jets have old-school Battlefield fans rejoicing. The combat is smooth and of course, the visuals are amazing. Knifing someone and taking their dog tag never felt so good as in this game does. I like the fact that one has to take out their knife rather than it just materialize in their hand. It doesn’t differ too much from its predessecors, but the tiny differences that it made like the ability to more customize one’s weapons and choose their load outs is great! Also, the classes change to better accommodate team play. It’s an even more rounded and exciting experience which challenges and rewards the player. It is a step above the rest in that nobody can really get large-scale warfare right like DICE can. The multiplayer is a victory and just one game of it helps me forget the somewhat forgettable campaign.

Another cool feature is Battlelog. It’s like facebook for gamers. It lets you know where your friends are at, what they’re playing and how well you stack up against them. Clans, and platoons can all be created and edited through an online account and seen through gameplay. The transfer is pretty cool.

Overall, the game does just what it’s meant to. Entertain. The multiplayer that is… I will most definitely be returning for more many times. The campaign however, is something that will be gathering cyberdust. Because it will most likely never be played again. My score is 7/10.

5/10 Campaign- Glitchy, AI annoyance/cause for rage, relatively short, shallow. However lifelike, awesome visuals, amazing sound.
9/10 Multiplayer- Immersive, massive, balanced, all the good benefits of campaign… without the campaign. Some long load times though.

Danger Zone

Posted: October 24, 2011 in Thoughtful thinking.

It’s what we live for. We may not know it, but it’s true. There’s an adventurer in all of us men, no matter how deep it may be hidden. It comes in all shapes, the danger zone. It could be a conference room, a living room, a football field, a stretch of open road, or possibly a space in the sky. We all have the places where we dance with the unknown in marvelous delight. Where the line between safety and disaster is razor thin and the most minute error is catastrophic but we continue to push the boundaries. We soak in the risk and thrive on the possibilities. Of course, we play it safe most of the time… MOST of the time.

You know what’s scary? When we cross the line. When we red-bar the gauges and the pressure watches click ominously. And then we go farther. The cabin creaks, the gauges break and steam hisses from release valves. And farther. Our chest gets tighter and the glass cracks as we push the limits to their utmost. The danger so real, the risk so great and yet the rewards so amazing. To brave the deepest unknown and survive is our calling. To emerge the victor, head held high is our passion. To fight, to win.

Or perhaps, not to win. Perhaps that does not matter. Winning does not prove anything. It proves that you have conquered, yes. But to fail, that is to learn. Failing is what shows the extent of one’s abilities, not winning. Winning limits us. It marks our abilities to succeed at a certain point and no further. Failure is what captures our hardest efforts. It pushes us to our utmost and determines our mettle. Failure does not know limits, and it can never be outdone. The bar can always be raised higher to fail for. And once that bar is reached and conquered, it is raised again, to be failed at until someone succeeds. Failure is the unreachable goal which pushes our success. If I fail, it means I’m going somewhere.

A man pushes towards his previous failure with the hopes of success, but only does so with the knowledge that all of his past failures allowed him to be where he is now. A man does not become discouraged with failure, but rather encouraged as he has now set the bar for his future success. His fall is now his footstep. His mistake, his mark. And he uses the wisdom from his past defeats to gain victory. If we are a soldier, and knowledge is our weapon, then failure is certainly our ammunition.

A man is not perfect, but strives for perfection by using his imperfection. A man is not one who appears good, but rather someone who is true to himself, and strives for what is right. A man who falls is wiser for it. A man that fails, stronger. A man who is stronger, victorious.