Friday, October 31, 2008


One day there was a dude who looked like this:

and there was a womon as well, and the womon was close in proximitiy for half the days, and far on half the days, but she was not close in all the days, in the sense of the physicks.

And on the day of the hollo-ween, where there were ghostes, and spirits, and liqueurs, and the marsh fogge, the man went into a deep depression, for he had longed for the womon, but had not seen a trace of her, since she went to foreign lands for tradesmanship, and contoures, and transportation.

But that nite the womon came back to the city, on a horse-drawn cairrage, and he saw of her, and they embraced, and exchanged words, and coupoulated in the bedchambres.

But in the middle of the night, there was a strange sound out the window, and a rat-a-tat-tat in the door-wayes, and the aire was damp and chilled, and when he looked to the womon, she was not there any-more, and and the aire was cold where her body was.

And he looked everywhere in the boarding-house, and in the neighbourhood, and in the tree-houses, and he saw a note in the tree-house, and it was covered in bloode, and viscera, and ichours, and puss, and muckus, and excreta, and rust, and aluminium, and there was a ribbon of magnoiuseum tied like a bow-tie to the bottom, and he lighted a matche, and he lighted the ribbon, and it ignited vigourously.

And the note was from the womon, and it read "help meeeeee" except there were not as many E's because it would have not the same effect as a vocoulisation.

And he felt a chill in his bone, and the vapours rised, and the noises increased in their amplitudues, and in the frequency, but de-creased in the wave-lengthes, such that he was shacken with a great terrour.

and he looked up, in the tree-house, and he saw a ganglia, that dangeled from out a brainch, and he followed it as a length of corde, and at the base he saw...




Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Analects of Matthew: SPECIAL COLLEGE ED. PT. III

[Matthew-Mania has overtaken the blag!]


Sorry, no translations today, maybe next time, we'll see, it's been busy lately.

And verily, it came to pass, that upon entering the waters of Niagara, I was drowned in the depths thereof. And when I awoke, I proclaimed my dream to the inhabitants, and they took me, and bound me, and threw me into the river, and I drowned in the depths thereof. And thus we see that, um, I died. So yeah. [Further text is scribbled out.]

So I'm still in the great Niagara Falls (the city, not the falls themselves. And the American city.) I got a new companion last Thursday. So he's newer than me, which is a first for my companions, so I'm the "senior companion." Which means I'm sort of in charge, but not really. He's good, fortunately. That's always good. But yah. So [scribble] I can't remember if I told you [scribble] (or anyone) that I've [scribble] baptised (not me personally, but still) one person since arriving in the falls. So that's good, but I didn't do a whole lot. So, really, that's better sort of. Her great-grandma ( [scribble] said girl is 11, by the way) came up to us and said her great-grand-daughter wanted to be baptised. So we taught and then baptised her. Yay!

But yah, so David forwarded your message to me, but more importantly, he forwarded your address. So this letter is in response to the message and the letter that came with a bunch of other letters from various people either in or closely associated with the League. Including your brother, aka "big man" as he dubbed himself, then asked me to guess who "big man" was, then was promptly revealed by an unknown editor who wrote ethan immediately thereafter. So the real question should be who is that editor. I would guess you, or, if not, then David.

So apparently your brother's in Utah or something horrid like that? What on earth would - well, nvm.[*]

Any you're on facebook!!!1!! Although, [scribble] I would probably care a lot more if I was [scribble] currently on facebook. I'll add you as a friend in two-ish or so years (well, less, more like, well, w/e. hess[**]) Anyhow.

So beyond me being chief now, things are going normal. [scribble] We lost our cell phone the other day... [Here the story that Matthew related to David earlier is repeated, with less mormon-cursing. He likely wrote this account after the one he sent to David - he ends it with "etc, etc".]

So, how's [UC-something, scribbled out] (lol, I was right, after all) UCSD? Are the classes weird/fun/hard/weird? Same for teachers, people, campus life, campus itself I guess (lol, out of room, sorry), k, well have an awesome time at college (but not too awesome, haha) - Matt "Elder" Skowbo.
[The above paragraph is at the bottom of the back side of the letter; the writing grows increasingly cramped as it progresses, with Matthew's name being squeezed in tiny print into the corner.]

[On the margin of the letter:]

If you talk to or e-mail
nvm[*] I'll just write him back again soon, but if he [inserted (with an arrow): 'David'] asks, I just got his' second letter right after I replied to his first. Snailmail sux.

--end of letter.

*Editorial note: Matthew still uses wobnet-abbreviations, even in his year-long exile? What is the world coming to?

**Editorial note: w/e. hess? Huh? Could be "ness"... doesn't really help, though.

Monday, October 27, 2008

the analects of matthew: SOPECIAL COLEO ED. PT. II


Did you go to our (well, Tino's ) "sister city?" Or see Desmond's cousin (a missionary there?). That'd be cool, but that was, like, so long ago to be asking about anyways, doh.
So, ok, this will be way out of the blue, but would you ever consider having Mormon missionaries come teach you more about our church? Or would you ever want a video or something about our church? I know that was weird, but I thought I should ask, at least. 
But yah dude, so thanks for everyone's addresses and forwarding their messages to me. Gl with womons and college in general. 


Elder Skowbo

P.S. I was playing a trivia game, and one of the things was to name snobby colleges. On the list answer thing, Dartmouth was one on them.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The analects of matthew : a cooledge special

So I am still in Niagra Falls preaching "the good word." I knocked on many doors and gave out many pamphlets with "the good word" in it. It was fun, but weird.

Well, let's see, as I go about my mormoning, I got a new companion, and the old one went further south to a neaby(ish) indian res. The new guy is fairly new as a missionary as well. And so I had to/ have to be more in charge now, although he's figuring things out, so now he's more in charge,  but whatevs. I can still beat him up.  (Actually, I don't think I could beat him up, which sux, but whatevs).

What else, hmm... let's see, well on Wednesday, that was just ugh because we got lost, like, twice or something and then we lost the cell phone, so we went to our neighbors to call it to see if we could hear it and some lady picked it up and we were like, wtc? (not wtf because we're mormon) and went over to her house to pick it up and we asked her where she found it, and we were like what? We never stopped at that road! But we did drive on it, and before we did that, my companion put it on the roof of the car, so yah, I wanted to kill him, and so we did the other missionaries who called us and the lady picked up so they drove to our place to tell us our phone was gone, but we'd recovered it by the time they arrived. 

Wait, so Niklousse went on three dates with a womon who had a boyfriend? Weird. Was Niklousse the boyfriend? 

I don't know what really to tell you about womons. Make sure they're not taken I guess? Dunno. By the time this letter gets back to you, I'm betting the exchange-student womon will have probably left, and so that (and the lunch dinner thing with her) will be moot point, so yah. Snail mail suxxorz. nvm.

Dude, trips to Japan (or anywhere) always breed relationship stuff, it's nuts.

to be continued

ow my hand


This is the tale of a map. Not a mere work of descriptive cartography, as you might find in any store or web-net site; no, this is a product prescriptive cartography, carving out a new world by will alone. It is a thing such as the world as rarely seen before. And it is a map that never has been, and may never yet be. Its name is...


The story begins with the BLU team, the aggressors of the tale. Here they lie limply, within their SPAWN ROOM, denoted by an especially lovely shade of blue. They have a truck - but it shan't be useful for this task. First, because they need to take the damn thing to a mechanic so that it'll run; second, because their objective lies beyond the two STARTING GATES, through which no truck may pass*. And what, exactly, is that objective?

The BLU objective is split into three parts. Here is the site of the first, the mine entrance, labeled "A". They must push the KART - in yellow - to the FIRST POINT, "A", in green. The kart, though heavy, is pushed along the tracks upon which it rests by the presence of BLU-team members; yes, indeed, their very presence is enough to propel it onwards. But the track is not so very long; and the BLUs need not overly exert themselves in the pushing. Why, then, do they cower at the thought of the battle ahead?

BECAUSE THEY ARE OPPOSED. The diabolical RED TEAM, spawning from the room marked in red, rush upwards to combat the BLUs - perhaps objecting to this notion of "kart-pushing." Transported from their underground base by a clever system of ELEVATORS, they battle the BLUs viciously, seeking to keep them from the KART. On some days, they may succeed. But what happens if the BLUs get the KART to the FIRST POINT?

A series of clever mechanisms are engaged, closing off all access to the elevator system, and opening up four more passageways. Two lead from the RED base to POINT TWO, "B"; two lead from A into the mines connecting A to B. This connecting area, also labeled "B", is somewhat larger and significantly more complex than A. Showing other views may help clarify the nature of the areas. Here is a view from the bottom...

...and one from the top.

At B, too, the RED team may stop the BLUs from achieving their objective, pushing the kart to the SECOND POINT. There are many places to place powerful SENTRY GUNS or deadly STICKY BOMBS; but, too, the BLUs have a number of side routes by which they may evade RED's defenses. Still, even if they do so, their work is not done.

The delivery of the KART to the SECOND POINT triggers a number of mechanisms, as it did for the FIRST POINT. RED team members are forbidden from their first SPAWN ROOM, and begin to spawn from a deeper one, pictured later. Two gates slam open; one leading to a side route, and one leading into a narrow tunnel, above.

The tunnel has little space in which to advance; defenders may reap an awful toll with ambushes around the corner or attacks from rooms above and to the sides of the tunnel, pictured. Through all this the BLUs may be hard-pressed; yet should they still prevail, there is one last obstacle course to surpass before they may deliver the kart to their FINAL OBJECTIVE, C.

The Rocket Assembly Room, "C", as viewed from the back. The track which the kart must pass along from the tunnel to C is not so long; but the second RED spawn is close by, and catwalks offer an ideal position for the REDs to rain down sniper-bullets and rockets upon the BLUs. Those catwalks are accessible to the BLUs only by a side passage, an airduct accessed from another tunnel; yet it is a narrow route, and a canny RED team will often have it guarded. Truly this is the most harrowing challenge the REDs will face.

But if they succeed, they will have the greatest joy of all: a series of vast, rippling explosions, triggered by the bomb in the KART. Everyone, BLU and RED alike, will die by fire, shockwave, or burial under tonnes of collapsing concrete and soil. Really - what more could any good BLU ask for?

*Trucks are forbidden to pass through gates by the Ancient Laws, set down at the dawn of time.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


Devin: The maths! The maths! I want to do the maths!
 Algebra and trig, vectors (cross and dot!)
And calculus! The calculus! A, B, C & D!

Matthew: What's this? What's this? The maths? Madness!
 Was it decreed in ages past, 
 No hot drinks for our repast
 And here - this problem - coffee! Tea! Soda and caffeine!

Nick: The maths? The maths! Wonder at their splendor!
 Here! Radical! There! Logarithm! Taylor, Maclaurin and L'Hopital,  Pythagorus and Euclid - the maths! 
 He shall drink what drink he shall - so long as it is all math!

David: I never, I never, I never need do math ever again!

...I should really learn how to write songs.

by NIcholas Fienberg

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Whatever Happened to the Nikolas-Car?

(Authored by an anonymous contributor; edited by myself.)

whatever happened
to the nikolas car?

that he is not
chaffing the crude
and pulling the steam-pipes
and trans-axels
and feeing it noxious, noxious coal
the great simmering beast
that protrudes black smoke
foul and acrid
that chokes the peasants of our walled city
as the seed and hoe the fields
of gray wheat
with soot that falls
like rain
and blackens our bread

did he sell it
to his aunt?

that is to be expected
from a baron such as he
the cold, black clad faceless
nobles who chain their peacants
to the land and sell their souls
to the plutocracacies
they called him "grey-face"
after the dark simmering countenace he wore
like an iron mask of knights
of days long gone
he took his great monolith
that belched foul miasmas
and he wheeled it,
by ox-cart,
to the town square,
and he ran over the sick, and the plagued,
for the miasmas it extruded clogged the orifices of those
who dared live in such a place
and churned their humours
such that they were choleric
and plegmatic
and they cried an awful cry
o when shall we see the light of day again
when the monolith is gone, and torn down
but their cried were muffled by the great roar
of a thousand tonnes of black coal
burning in its belly
and firing its shifting frameork

what could save them?
who could save them?

the one with
the long-beard
they called him
"the great pacificator "
he took to the masses
and he shouted over the great
clasing and clangnig
he eased their sorrows
and their pain
with his cocaine tablets
and opiates
and the monolith still stands
and shoots its black smoke
and chokes the life blood of that small town
and the people are no longer affronted by ti
and they are content
and complacent
and they sir
and they fear no more

was that the end?

should i make it happy?


too late
at that monoet
the muscular one
came on a horse
and he said
no more shall you ckoke the longs of the people with your smoke and
enlslave their minds
he stabbed his braodsword
through the heart of the beast
and the nikolas
and the sun shimned
and it rained
a clean rain
and the blackness washed off
in like 100 years
the villaeg prosperous

there was this hot girl
and she said
thank you for saving us
and she had sex
with him
the muscular one
or maybe his grond son
she did it
they were
in love


(...or is it?)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Lovely Fable.

Some time ago, my attention was directed to a rather lovely electro-video game by the name of "Ben There, Dan That!". (The exclamation mark is part of the name.) Rather piqued by the description, I investigated.

not a spoiler
I found it quite entertaining, but got stuck after a little while. Reluctant to turn to a "guide of stratagems", I stopped playing - and forgot about it for months.


Just the other day, I remembered about it, for some reason. I started it up, fiddled, and by complete luck managed to get past the puzzle that was bothering me before. (There were some candlesticks.) I continued, curious to see what was next; the next several hours were spent playing, and beating, the game.

I did end up using a strategy guide, sadly, but the puzzles in question were somewhat unfairly obtuse. I shrug.

In any case, feeling magnanimous in victory, I donated 5 quid via Paypal to the authors of this (fun! free!) game. To my surprise, the next day, one of the creators emailed me back, thanking me - in what was quite clearly a human-authored email! - for the donation. Delighted by this unexpected acknowledgment, I emailed the creator back, praising their game.

The rest is history. We became best friends, both moved to the Bahamas, and now we do everything together - sunbathing, surfboarding, snowball fights... it's the best of lives, and it would never have happened were it not for my selfless generosity. (A rare thing from a person so stingy as myself.)

So go on! Try the game! Pay me some money! We'll all be the better for it.

the annals of colloge

nothing interesting happened

I got more sick. I had to miss a class once because of that. i went to the hopsital

one day:

we gathered on the communal lounge down-stairs, and we joined a parade of froshmen. there was a man with a kilt and a bagpipes leading the procession. it was odd to say. 

on the way i saw a girl that i knew. she talked to me but it was awkward cuz i was sick. then her boyfriend came all upons. so she left.

It was "homecoming". people made a big tower made of wood. it had nice geometrical patterns. with 'class of '12' on toppe. It was very prodigious.

 then they set it on fire. 

it was really hot, then we ran around it multiple times. after i was done i watched from outside. some dude gave me his sweater. i still have it. 

there is a lot of free food around here.

one of my floormates got drunk. actually several of them, I think one got cought by the po-lice. people were collapsed in the hall-wayes.

also i saw several hot womons and that i didnt know their names so it was awkaard.

also the maths departments builiding is so sick. i want to take maths classes to be in there almost.

also 2 of my classes are in the "chemistry building" which is kind of werid because it is the only building to be labeled with its department. it is weirder because the chemistry department is not actually in that building. they moved out a few years ago and didnt bother to change the sign.

Dini Programming, Fall '08

This is what I spent the whole of to-day on.

Roughly thirty people entered the room. After registering and helping ourselves to soda nearby, we placed ourselves before an assigned computer and prepared our IDE of choice. (I used Eclipse, it being the most modern of the tools available to us.) I spoke to some lovely people sitting near me, including a fellow freshman, David, who was wearing Gavin's 802.11 shirt. (He had it off most of the time, to save battery power.)

Eventually, they gave us a practice problem: "fermat", in which we were given some positive number 'n' and were to return whether or not there was some equation "a^n+b^n=c^n", where a, b, and c were all real integers. (The algorithm was surprisingly simple.) I actually didn't complete it in time; I had decided to use C++, with which I had all of four weeks experience. Switching over to Java midway left me with too little time; still, my neighbors (notably the chap just to my left, whose name I forget) helped me finish it, which would prove essential to the rest of the contest.

Also, between the completion of the practice problem and the contest itself, the organizers announced that ACS had scheduled all of the computers in the lab to reboot into Windows in an hour. (They were running Linux, as any proper computer will.) To forestall their restarting while we were hard at work, we contestants were forced to reboot them prematurely. It was... very silly.

The contest proper lasted six hours, from just after 12:30 to just after 6:30. There were seven problems, all of which used essentially the same input structure: we were given a series of lines of input through stdin, the first of which would tell us how many test cases we were to evaluate. Then, for each test case, there would be a line of metadata, and then individual points of data on all succeeding lines until the end of the case. For instance, input for a "dominoes" problem (finding the minimum number of dominoes that needed to be shoved to knock them all over) might read:
4 3
1 2
2 3
3 4

Indicating that there was one test case, within which there were four dominoes and three lines describing their interactions. Domino 1 knocked over 2, 2 knocked over 3, and 3 knocked over 4; that one required only 1 push.

I can describe that problem in so much detail because I spent half the time - three hours - working on it alone. And I still didn't get it.

There were many other problems, though. There were easy problems, like a problem calculating the distance traveled by a logo turtle or another problem so easy that literally everyone got it, and so easy that I can't remember anything about the problem itself. (Tragically, those two were the only ones I got. Ah well! I hardly alone in that.) Most of the problems were harder, such as the aforementioned domino problem, or a "construction crane" problem finding the maximum non-overlapping area covered by a set of circles of varying radius and position, or one finding the size of social networks; these less than half of the class got. The two last problems were hardest of all. The first, which just two people got, involved a street with some number of houses placed at varying distances along it; with some number of "wi-fi access points", you were supposed to minimize the maximum distance of any house from the closest wi-fi point, and then report that maximum distance. Very odd.

The last problem involved a rocket with one to one-thousand stages, each stage having a varying mass, thrust, fuel mass, and fuel consumption rate; one was supposed to find the final speed of the rocket after it had expended the totality of its thrust. The solution, as noted in the problem description, involved integrals.*

No-one got that one.

The most any student got was 5 problems; the David mentioned earlier was one of the three who got that many. (One of the organizers managed to solve six of them. Not the rocket one, though!) The cut-off for placing, and therefore getting cash prizes, was solving three problems. I did not make it. (One of my friends did. I was a bit jealous.)

Was I sad?


I was - and am - FLUSHED WITH TRIUMPH!

Just for the joy of competition? The thrill of battle - a battle of wits, the noblest sort?


I snagged loot! Treasure threefold:
- Soda! A can of Sprite and of root beer, left-over from the competition. We were urged to take the remainders so that the organizers would not need to throw them out; I did so with glee.
- Some kind of snack! I'm not really sure what it was. But it was unopened and I knew that my suitemates would appreciate a contribution to the communal pantry (we actually have a communal pantry. It's in the wall, and filled mostly with junk food), so I took it anyway. Looked like this.
- And - most glorious of all - won by random chance - a $100 gift card for mysterious home of food-related items, "Ralph('s)"!

So I'm pleased as punch.

Hooray for non-League related, rambling, slightly boring posts!

EDIT: This link may be informative.

Friday, October 17, 2008

legue rolls 2020

Ethan F. (Maraj)
Current residence/occupation: he went to the moon and colonise it in his braine
Nick's brother. He a lot of hair on top of his braine, and is the one of the younger members in the League. but he is still like old now

Nicholas F. (Cavalcadeofcats)
Current residence/occupation: a braine man he has a computer in his braine that flying this car. he was businessman
Conservative liberal, Jew, blog creator, and generally all-around excellent dude. also he can make a robot out of his braine

Devin M. (Desmond)
Current residence/occupation: the king of mormon
Namesake of the League. Cool Mormon dude. Swims and has curly hair in his braine computer

David Z. (MrSex)
Current residence/occupation: sex 8 times
Completely insane, but awesome. The hinge around which the whole League spins. Correspondingly, he is somewhat oily.

Kelsey H. (KingKessler)
Current residence/occupation: he can make a computor from his braine
Canadian. Speaks some French. The only one of us who David can't provoke to violence. (Only HUGS.) he has a braine in his monkie

Gavin H. (SomethingGeckoRelated)
Current residence/occupation:  a braine machine produce
He is Kelsey's younger brother. Also, he has an LED-equipped shirt. and a flying car

Stephen F. (Fisherdude)
Current residence/occupation: a savvy pimp buisnessman
He swims? Also, he likes to inflict pain, and program computers. These activities coincide surprisingly often. he has chips in his braine

Matthew S. (ChihuahuaMormon)- the king of mormons
Everyone's Mormon big brother. Or something? He's Mormon, and, um... yeah. Tall. Sadly out of digi-contact, no, becouse we have implants in braine. We send him letters every so often. from braine

This needed updating. Hopefully it meets collective approval.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

League Rolls 2008

Ethan F. (Maraj)
Current residence/occupation: BOARDING SCHOOL in UTAH. Out of digicontact.
Nick's brother. He has (had?) a lot of hair, and is the one of the younger members in the League.

Nicholas F. (Cavalcadeofcats)
Current residence/occupation: UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA in SAN DIEGO, Freshman.
Conservative liberal, Jew, blog creator, and generally all-around excellent dude.

Devin M. (Desmond)
Current residence/occupation: BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY in UTAH, Freshman.
Namesake of the League. Cool Mormon dude. Swims and has curly hair.

David Z. (MrSex)
Current residence/occupation: DARTMOUTH COLLEGE in NEW HAMPSHIRE, Freshman.
Completely insane, but awesome. The hinge around which the whole League spins. Correspondingly, he is somewhat oily.

Kelsey H. (KingKessler)
Current residence/occupation: CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY in SAN JOSE, Freshman.
Canadian. Speaks some French. The only one of us who David can't provoke to violence. (Only HUGS.)

Gavin H. (SomethingGeckoRelated)
Current residence/occupation: CUPERTINO HIGH SCHOOL, the League's Alma Mater, Sophomore.
He is Kelsey's younger brother. Also, he has an LED-equipped shirt.

Stephen F. (Fisherdude)
Current residence/occupation: CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY in SONOMA, Freshman.
He swims? Also, he likes to inflict pain, and program computers. These activities coincide surprisingly often.

Matthew S. (ChihuahuaMormon)- MISSIONARY in WARSAW, NOT-POLAND.
Everyone's Mormon big brother. Or something? He's Mormon, and, um... yeah. Tall. Sadly out of digi-contact. We send him letters every so often.

This needed updating. Hopefully it meets collective approval.

Faith: Through the Ashes

(Part of a continuing series. Previous post here, first post here.)

Ostek burned.

"We were too late!" Evelyn cried as they crested the last hill before the city. They'd seen the smoke: rising from Ostek as it had from every last village and town they'd passed on the way. They'd hoped that it was from the surrounding fields, an attempt by the invaders to starve the city while the walls still held. Every settlement between Ostek and the mountains was in flames or in ashes; bodies littered the streets, left to rot where they fell. Fir, in all likelihood, had been spared only due to its remoteness and obscurity. But Ostek was larger, and guarded; and the burning of the settlements must have cost the invaders - the Beckoners' mercenary army - time.

Seeing Ostek burn, they knew that it hadn't been enough.

For a moment Evelyn despaired: "If we'd been faster," she muttered, "if I hadn't delayed us with my illness - if, if, if!..."

As she calmed herself, Jared peered toward the city. "Look at the keep," he suggested. "There's smoke rising from the rest of the city, but hardly any there. No more than you'd expect from cooking-fires and other normal sources."

Evelyn squinted as she tried to see what Jared was saying. "If we had a spy-glass, it would be easier to tell... but yet, I think you're right. Perhaps the keep still holds, somehow. If so, we must go there, see what can be salvaged. If the army is inside - lacking only leadership, perhaps - then the day may not yet be lost..."

It wasn't a good plan, but it was the best one they had. They considered implementation. "We can't go in through the city gates," Jared said, and Evelyn nodded, agreeing. "They'll be guarded by the enemy, and I doubt they'd let us through unmolested. Neither of us are in any shape for climbing city walls, either, so..." Evelyn seemed momentarily lost in thought.

"There's another way," she told Jared. "The keep that holds my father's palace is nestled against the city walls. Most traffic passes through the two gates between the keep and the city proper, but there is another gate - not a secret, just a pain to get to. It's up a very steep, zig-zagging slope, so it's useless for anything but foot-traffic, and a bother for that. Still, it's better than trying to sneak through a city filled with-" she winced "-a marauding mercenary army paid by genocidal maniacs."

"Yes, the rear gate's our best chance," Jared agreed. "If we can avoid enemy patrols..."

They encountered not a single living soul on their trek across the city plains to the keep's rear gate. Their unspoken surmise was that the enemy was too busy inside to care about any passers-by; a surmise backed by the smoke billowing skywards and the terrible clamour rising from within Ostek, a noise growing louder as Jared and Evelyn approached. For half an hour, the wind turned; a grey, ash-filled haze covered the two travelers, forcing them to use their (already somewhat redolent) clothing as masks. With the smoke came a dreadful charnel smell, making them use their blanket as a blinder for their horse which, with its more sensitive nose, took the smell even worse. Evelyn seemed near to tears several times, despite her improvised mask; Jared looked ready to join her, and not only for the ashes irritating his eyes, either. Mass death was something neither of them had learned to bear.

Nightfall neared by the time they reached the keep's gate. Jared had been forced to walk for half the long climb up the path for fear of tiring their horse. Evelyn, her legs still weak and prone to failure, was just as exhausted from the simpler effort of staying atop the horse. Neither was in good condition to face down the guards upon the gate, though the revelation that there still were guards loyal to the rightful rulers of Ostek lightened their spirits enormously. They argued until the sun passed over the horizon, trying to convince their interlocutors that they were who they claimed to be; the guards were themselves clearly dead-weary and afraid, in no state to leave their posts and approach Jared and Evelyn closely enough to see the truth for themselves.

Finally, the sally-port beside the main gate cracked open, and three men exited, two of them torch-bearing companions to the third. That last approached Evelyn and Jared, the latter leaning against the horse for support, and exclaimed in surprise. "Praise the Maker!" he cried. "It's you, it really is! Evelyn! Jared!" He rushed forward, abandoning the company of his guards, and embraced both. "We will take you in," he said, nearly babbling, "and tell you of the disaster that happened in your absence, and you will in turn tell us of the fate of the expedition. And then, then, then..." he sputtered out.

"And then you will flee," he told them, his tones empty of their previous manic energy, "For when the sun sets over the horizon two days from now, I have little doubt that the keep of Ostek will fall to the enemy, and I, along with the rest of her defenders, shall fall with it."

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Events at Noontide

Subtitle: From (roughly) 12:05 PM to 12:45 PM, on this very Satur-Day.

I bought a new electronic video-game this morning, on a whim: S.T.A.L.K.E.R. There is no reason for the periods; as far as I know, the name isn't an acronym. In any case, the game was known for bugginess and bizarrity when it came out. "Surely," I thought, "It's been two years, or more. Surely the fans will have managed to patch it into working order by now, as generally happens with super-buggy mainstream games!"

After playing it for about an hour and a half - this transpiring before the period described in the subtitle, and being quite enjoyable, for the record - the game forwent the usual quickload screen - looking something like this:

And replaced it with a slightly different one, which resembled:

At this point, I decided to take a break. The time was around 12:05 PM.

First, I was feeling rather hungry - having skipped breakfast, as is sometimes my fashion - so I went to fetch food. The local dining hall had nothing of interest, so I mounted my trusty bicycle and set out for the fast food court-yard at the Center of college. (The Price Center, specifically.) I had heard tell that an Indian place had recently opened therein, and was eager to investigate.

En route, I should note, I encountered a girl wearing an "Anonymous" t-shirt. This is uncommon, and worthy of mention.

It took a little searching, but I managed to find the Indian restaurant of which I had been informed. The atmosphere throughout was somewhat eerie, despite the lovely weather and bright sunlight - the broad streets were empty of traffic, the vast food court filled to only a tiny fraction of capacity. When I went to order my food, I was the only customer there, standing before a counter staffed by a full six employees. I was somewhat intimidated, I will admit.

Of the food, I will say only this: I had wondered what Indian fast-food might taste like, having only eaten at formal/semiformal restaurants and buffets. Now, having eaten Indian fast-food, I will agree: it didn't taste actively bad, and I was at least somewhat fuller when I left than when I entered.

Still, I don't think I'm going there again soon.

I finished eating around 12:20. Feeling inspired to breathe the fresh air, I decided to go exploring. My campus is fairly large, and there are many parts of it I have never ventured into. The trip was quite rewarding: the weather was excellent, as I noted earlier, and there were some very lovely landscapes. Big buildings, big green expanses, that sort of thing. I had fun.

I must note this, though: There is a place, far from both my dwelling and all the classes I take, called "Revelle Plaza." It's pictured below.

It's flanked on all sides by fairly nice buildings - a bookstore and coffee shop in one of them, classrooms/lecture halls in the others. People draw with chalk on the ground, there's a fountain (visible but inactive in the top-right of the picture above), it's all very pleasant.

There is, nonetheless, a very slight design flaw. Trivial, really - a tiny quibble - but I still feel compelled to bring it up.

At the very top of the picture, there is a set of four very broad, very flat stairs. (If you can't see them, that's fine - I can only see them because I've seen them before in real life.) They're great stairs, fine, but the problem is, they're subtle. Hard to see from the top! Especially for a poor, sightseeing bicyclist who's watching a group of pedestrians in his path and not hunting for hidden stairs.

Bump, bump, bump, the Nicholas goes!

There should be warning signs, I say.

Aside from that, it was a perfectly lovely trip, and I haven't the slightest regrets. Plus, I managed to get to the top of Annoyingly Steep Hill #2* by a side route - meaning that I got to enjoy going dangerously fast on a narrow path flanked by trees without having to suffer through the steep climb up!

Most interesting 40 minutes I've had in a while, I'll say.

*Annoyingly Steep Hill #2 has a name, but I've forgotten it. It's on the way to two of my classes, so I have to go up it four times a week. Sadness follows! Not, you know, that much sadness, but a little.

Annoyingly Steep Hill #1 is much worse. Thankfully, it's only on the way to the gym for me, so I basically never have to go up it.


When we were going up it in orientation, our group leader refused to take the climb. Instead, she showed us a "trick" she'd discovered - enter the parking hall on the side of the hill, take the elevator up several floors, walk along the parking garage and exit at the top of the hill.

It is a very steep hill.

Friday, October 10, 2008

faith: the epigraph

What do we know about the state of the modern nikolas,
it is a well-established fact that after the sexual revolution of the 1960s that the modern nikolas gene factor which repressed development of sexual organs in his abdominal segment was damaged by nuclear radaiation. this change is evident in the literature of the era: 

this is what he has to say on the matter: "Jared becomes a wild womanizer. He has sex with Evelyn, sure; in addition to every prostitute in Ostok, the daughter of the Emperor of the Western Empire, and the entire Beckoner tribe. That's the finale, actually. It secures peace for the world... through _wild orgies_."

we shall now produce a theorom which offers firm conclusion that the nikolas was having sex with some hot girls in his dormitiry.

Let us analyse this story with Ramsay theory:

imagine there is a complete nikolas, a simple nikolas wherein all pairs of distince vertices are connected by edges

for example:
a complete nikolas denoted by (K3)

The analysise:

If each edge of the nikolas is coloured with a red of a blue kessler paint then what is the minumum integer N for which on K(N) there must be a complete monochromatic sub-nikolas of degree 3?
the answer, of course, is sex.

Faith: Travails

(Part of a continuing series. Previous post here, first post here.)

In the morning, Jared and Evelyn set off for Fir. Their progress was slow. The woods made travel difficult, as Evelyn had suggested, and Jared needed many breaks, exhausted by the work of carrying Evelyn. At the second of these breaks, the two travelers collaborated in crafting a sort of crude harness for Evelyn from cloth and broken branches, lightening Jared's load somewhat. Still, they moved not nearly so fast as a single traveler, unburdened, might have – and slower yet once their supply of meat (source left politically unnamed) was depleted on the second day. They ate nuts and berries instead, and grew steadily thinner.

On the third day, Evelyn descended into fever. Jared found a stream, and used its water to dampen Evelyn's brow. There was nothing more he could do before they reached shelter.

On the fifth day, desperate, Jared ate berries best left untouched. He spent the remainder of the daylight hours puking out his guts, caring for Evelyn whenever the heaving subsided.

On the sixth day, finally, they reached Fir.

The villagers were kind, as Jared had gambled they would be. They took Jared and Evelyn in, gave them food and shelter, cared for their wounds and illness with what medicine they had. Evelyn's fever faded and died; their ribs receded from prominence beneath the poor, but intact, clothes provided by the villagers. Miraculously – perhaps – sensation began to return to Evelyn's legs. Her attempts at walking failed, swiftly and repeatedly connecting her face with the ground. Still, she was healing, as she had desperately feared that she might never, as often happened with wounds of that sort.

Eight days after they arrived at Fir, Evelyn held a heated conversation with Jared across the kitchen table of the house at which they were staying.

“It's time to leave,” she told him. “It's been two weeks since the ambush in the pass. We have no idea what's happened in the city – with the Beckoner forces loose and my uncle... gone, anything could have happened. We need to get back and help my cousin, the heir, take control of the city.”

Jared shook his head. “No. We're not recovered.”

“We're recovered enough,” Evelyn told him. “I know that the red-hair – Jahn, that's his name – has a horse. Borrow it. Beg, plead, put that sword my uncle gave you in hock for it, promise him a dozen stallions in return – it doesn't matter. With it, we can both ride back to the city in half the time we took getting here.”

“You're still healing. We shouldn't leave until you can walk again,” Jared replied stubbornly.

“It doesn't matter,” Evelyn told him. “I can ride – that's the important thing. We need to act quickly, before the Beckoners strike.”

“What if riding aggravates your injury, cripples you for good? It's too much of a risk.”

“It doesn't seem likely. If I managed to get through the forest on your back without permanent injury, a little horseback jaunt won't stop me -” Evelyn paused and gave Jared a closer look. “But that's not the point, is it? You're looking for excuses – any reason to stay here, to give up. Why?”

Jared was silent.

“Is it that you think your loyalty to Ostek died when my uncle did? Think again. There's no better place in the world for you to be. It's a place where any man can gain the stature he deserves – von Erik showed that, if anyone did. In a time like this, you could become a very powerful man – and you'll need power, if you want to stop the Beckoners. They're moving quickly – if they're not stopped soon, I really do think they could succeed. They could set the world to utter chaos, burn the cities and the villages, kill everyone. Monstrous. Hideous. We have to stop it.”

“They spared my life,” Jared said abruptly.

“What?” Evelyn said, taken aback.

“In the pass. Everyone else who'd survived the rockslide, killed. Soldiers. von Erik. Your uncle. The Beckoners chopped their heads off and left the bodies for the crows. You only survived because you were buried. Same reason you can't walk. Mixed blessing.”

“But not me.”

“You didn't tell me this,” Evelyn said, half accusingly, half in shock.

“I didn't know what to make of it. Why wouldn't they kill me? Did they recognize me? Actual Beckoners in mercenary ranks, recognizing me from the village? And, why? Is it some message? A threat? Forgiveness? I didn't understand. I still don't.”

There was silence for a moment. Then, again, Evelyn spoke. “It doesn't matter,” she said. “The important thing is that you're still alive. The reasons that you left the Beckoners – they're still true, more than ever. The reasons that you decided to oppose them – they're still true, too. It doesn't matter. We just have to – move on.”

Silence followed again, for a time. Then Jared grunted, rising from his chair. “I'll talk to Jahn about the horse,” he told her.

Provisioning took more time; but preparations made and farewells said, Evelyn and Jered left for Ostek on the noon of the eighth day. As they set out, they could see black smoke, rising thickly just before the horizon.

Faith: From the Shadow of Death

(Part of a continuing series. Previous post here, first post here.)

When we left them...

Jared, exiled from his valley home in the mountains at the centre of the world, had found employ as a soldier in the service of the Prince of Ostek. Upon averting an assassination attempt upon the Prince's life – and subsequently identifying the assassin as having some connection with the Beckoners, Jared's former tribe – the Prince gave Jared new employment as a royal advisor. Jared related to the prince his story of the Beckoner plot: a scheme of worldwide genocide against all non-Beckoners, subterfuge in service of which was likely the cause of recent turmoil around Ostek and in nearby lands. Alarmed, but knowing that the Beckoners were few in number, the Prince ordered an expedition to find and crush the Beckoners in their home territory. Two full companies of the Prince's finest marched into the mountains, their trip uneventful until they crossed a long and narrow pass into the first of the many valleys between them and the Beckoners. In that first valley, the expedition stumbled upon a vast encampment of mercenaries, doubtless in service of the enemy. Electing to retreat, resupply, and try an alternate route, the expedition moved swiftly back down the pass from whence they had come – only to be all but annihilated by a sudden rockslide. Jared rose, terribly injured, only to find the others either crushed by rocks or – in the case of several soldiers and, notably, the Prince and his military commander – brutally beheaded. He found only one survivor, buried beneath a layer of boulders and sheltered by corpses – Evelyn, the Prince's niece...

Evelyn woke some time after nightfall. She was lying on the ground, in the middle of unfamiliar woods. The only person she could see was Jared, tending an unidentifiable chunk of meat on a skewer above a crackling fire. His clothes were ragged and torn, and any part of his flesh that was not bruised was cut or scraped – or all three. Despite this slightly gruesome sight, the smell of the meat made Evelyn's mouth water.

She couldn't move.

With a commendable calm, considering the cirumstances, Evelyn asked Jared, “Where am I?”

Jared looked up from the meat, surprised. “Oh. Don't know.”

Evelyn thought. She asked again. “Where are we going?”

“There's a village I know in the region, called Fir by the locals. Stayed there for a while about half a year ago, did some trapping, learned the language. They don't have many strangers there. Too remote. Thought we could rest there, heal before we traveled back to Ostek.”

“We could take the wagons,” Evelyn suggested. “It's probably slower going through the wood, even if Fir is closer-”

“Wagons were smashed,” Jared told her. “Horses are dead.” He gestured vaguely toward the spit.

Evelyn was confronted with three unpleasant questions. She paused, then spoke. “What happened?”

“Rockslide. Fell. Hit the expedition. Me, you. Everyone.”

“Natural or artificial?” Evelyn asked, her voice uneven.

“Artificial, I'd guess. Don't know. Don't know how they'd have gotten past us, either – we rode pretty fast out of the valley, and I don't know how anyone could have overtaken us off the pass, on the slopes.”

“Probably signals,” Evelyn suggested. “Some of the men saw lights at night, on the mountainsides. Probably the enemy lighting fires to warn sentries already in place we were coming.”

Jared offered a noncommittal grunt.

Again Evelyn paused before asking her next question. Uneasily: “Why can't I move?” She could lift her torso, awkwardly – though it hurt to move – but her lower body was covered by a rough brown blanket, and she couldn't seem to move her legs.

Jared, too, paused before giving speech. “Rockslide,” he said. “I found you buried. You got hurt pretty bad.”

“How did I get here?” Evelyn asked.

“I carried you,” Jared told her.

A third pause followed, the longest yet. Then Evelyn spoke, the words spilling out one after another with increasing speed: “Why didn't the others help? Where are the others?

“In the pass,” Jared told her. His words came out slowly, filled with some unidentifiable emotion.

“Dead,” Evelyn whispered.

Jared could not have heard her over the sound of the fire. Still, he nodded.

“The men – all of them. von Erik. My – my uncle.”

Three times, Jared nodded.

For a time, neither said anything. Then, quietly, uncontrollably, Evelyn began to sob.

Jared comforted her, as best he could.

Eventually, they ate. Both devoured the meat voraciously, as though to spite their sorrows- Evelyn especially. She didn't ask where the meat had come from. She suspected the answer, or knew, as she had the other questions – and for a time, she had enough of answers.

[Note: This post was last edited two and a half months ago. Poor blag.]