2021.12.29

Collage Christmas xmas 2021 covid seltzer in place hookers and blow train

We decided to go to NorCal for xmas this year.


Since Amtrak finally connected SLO to the Bay Area without a bus, we booked a sleeper car for the trip up. I'm not sure if Amtrak made rooms more affordable or if holiday plane fares finally made the train comparatively reasonable.


It was meant to be a twelve hour trip from LA Union Station to Jack London, but sadly the train hit someone and we didn't get in until pretty late. The room was comfortable enough and Dani did great.



It was nice to see family for Christmas. Danielle met a lot of new people, including her great-grandmother, uncle, someday-bff Julia, and various farm animals. Grown-up activities included progress on Pandemic Season 2 and some wine tasting.



We flew back, worried about the surge in omicron cases. Flying with the little one was a little easier, but under normal circumstances I would be equally fine with going by train.

Uncle Ted's view is pretty nice.
Pre-departure

Veranda pergola patio enclosure

The front wall is on and materials have been ordered for the door and rest of the roof.

Sourworks Brewery La Mesa

And we stopped by Sourworx to wish Ryan a very happy 40th.



2021.12.21

volleyball night stylized long exposure

The League of V-ball held the egg nog championship.




2021.12.19

Far Cry 6 Danny Trejo tacos grill machete tacos especiale de Danny
Far Cry 6: Danny and Dani

So other than progressing plot and content, I don't expect to have much to add to my initial take on Far Cry. Well, except a surprise visit from Danny-f'in-Trejo.

Far Cry 6 Danny Trejo tacos shop

Yep, Trejo appears as himself, preparing to open a taco shop in Yara. He needs Dani's help to keep the corrupt Yaran FDA from stealing his delicious taco recipe. It's a solid 20 minutes of shooting and laughing. At the end of it you get Danny's sweet motorcycle with a minigun sidecar.


Other stuff:
Indoors


Usual stuff around the homestead. I'm one panel and one door away from just needing to finish the roof and clean up the stucco before I can have turf put in. After I power wash it and give it another coat of sealer. Yes, I was intending to say "just about done" and realized mid-sentence that there's plenty more to do. I left the sentence run-on and confusing for effect.

Super People Beta

Super People map drop helicopters

The PUBG crew decided to give the ill-named Super People beta a try. I think it's by someone currently or previously involved in PUBG? It's a similar-looking battle royale with mostly the same weapons and a lot of shared sprites/models.

Super People class firearms expert

But like other competitive games, Super People uses character classes that (thankfully) aren't heroes with stupid intro animations. They each have a preferred weapon (so you can love or hate the encouraged use of the entire arsenal), abilities that are unlocked via experience (within the round), and an ultimate (like forcefield, nuke, and teleport).

Super Peeople green capsule

Experience is gained via survival, probably kills, and nomming on colorful capsules.

Super People player loadout tutorial

The loadouts are similar to PUBG - two primaries and a sidearm, helmet/vest/backpack, and an array of meds and throwables. Weapons now have rarity and you can collect crafting items to upgrade them on the fly.

Super People tutorial nuke super

We haven't played a ton (or megaton amirite???), but I can see the ults either making engagements either more fun or more brutal when you're facing try-hard teams.
ME3 Act I, From Ashes, Leviathan

Mass Effect 3 Legendary Jack Cerberus mech

Act I

Mass Effect 3 Legendary system cluster map reapers war assets

ME3 has the most improved busywork. In ME1 you collected stuff by driving around empty-ish maps. In ME2 you point-scanned the entire surface of every planet. In ME3 you can ping sections of star systems to collect the progression currency, war assets. But after a few pings the Reapers show up and it turns into a rather silly game of Pac Man.

Mass Effect 3 Legendary Miranda

Last time I played the series, it was at the pace of the game releases and without most of the DLC. This time around, the character reappearances trigger more than vague memories. They're not all awesome (ahem, Miranda) but it's nice to see where everyone's story arc has led.

From Ashes


From Ashes introduces the cryo-frozen Prothean Javik as a squadmate. He brings a bunch of lore with him - basically that the hallowed Prothean civilization was actually more of a brutal empire. The reality check causes some refreshingly-unexpected dialogue as Liara struggles with her archaeological fangirlism. But then Javik delivers the real reason that Prothean history took this shape, it's a heavy-handed way to say, "the moral of the story is that diversity provides strength".

Leviathan


I haven't finished Leviathan, but read somewhere that it digs even deeper into the history (origins?) of the Reapers. A stealthy Reaper-killer sounds kind of cool though it ultimately won't impact the Space Kid finale.

The rug pull

From last time:

This was kind of fun:
- Buy OIH (via cash secured put) with a cost basis of $181.
- Monday morning, with OIH at $188 and the potential for more red, sell an ITM $183 call for a few hundo.
- If OIH stays ITM, I'm out with some profit. If OIH dips a bunch, I keep the premium and am holding at a decent entry price.

On Friday OIH closed at 182.81. Just barely OTM for the poor call holder.

I'm not celebrating, futes and Asian markets are looking bleak.



2021.12.19

Covid 19 vaccination mandate graphic protestors

I know what you're saying, "cool portmanteau". Thanks. Time for another installment of the covid saga. We're getting a little more clarity on Omicron; more transmissible, maybe less severe (to vaccinated people?), the cause of a measurable bump in cases and professional sports cancellations.

The new meta

This weekend I caught an NPR interview with a doctor who had data and/or experience with vaccine hesitancy. One of his patients refused to get a covid immunization because of "vaccine mandates".

Like what? First, I'm fairly certain the first widely available doses preceded any mandate by at least six months. Then there's the willingness to endure an agonizing death just because... well what mandate are we talking about here? Nobody's been going door to door forcing needles into arms. Here are the mandates I can think of:
Is the large company mandate the one that people are talking about when they say, "I'm not anti-vaccine, I'm anti-mandate"? Or are they anticipating the bottom of a slippery slope? Because there are no forced injections and there won't be. What's weird is the extent to which the anti-mandate has allied with the antivax crowd. Cause there are only two sides to anything.



2021.12.13

Far Cry 6 Viviro lab

Another variant, another Far Cry, another Cowboy Bebop, another L4D, another Nioh, another Mass Effect. Oh yeah, and I mentioned all of them last month. (What I'm saying is my post title is totally on point.)
Cowboy Bebop, final take

Cowboy Bebop live action Netflix Faye church

Initial discussion here, I finished the series and was pretty happy with it until the finale.

Cowboy Bebop live action Netflix Scratch VR chair

The Scratch episode was good, kind of Star Trek-y, and has an interesting take on the Spike-Julia relationship. The out-of-control AI trope has a little more intrigue than the standard Skynet/HAL situation. The only problem, the anime episode was far better.

Cowboy Bebop live action Netflix Scratch VR video effects
As an aficianado of lame graphics filters, I appreciated the obligate VR-vision and that it was indicative of Spike's absorption into the metaverse.

Stuff with spoilers

Cowboy Bebop live action Netflix Vicious Spike church

Vicious continued to be incompetent and not really very vicious. What's more, his uncertain intentions in the anime have been replaced with an obsession with killing Spike.

Cowboy Bebop live action Netflix Julia Spike church

The Julia rewrite, wow. Not a good wow. I guess Netflix wanted to give Julia and Vicious screen time so she needed to feel like Spike abandoned her? Spike chasing a ghost seemed a lot more poetic.

South Park Margaritaville economy chicken meme JPow federal reserve
Maybe Netflix writers just decided to let the chicken choose their plot twist.

Cowboy Bebop live action Netflix

And while in the anime Spike meets his end like the protagonist in many westerns, Netflix wanted that second season money. Except they just canceled it.
Far Cry 6

Far Cry 6 turret beach

Mine and J's Far Cry 6 co-op campaign is going pretty well. We escaped the prologue island and have almost recruited two squabbling influencers in an effort to overthrow a cruel despot - kind of a reverse-Borderlands 3.

Far Cry 6 zebra

Yeah, that's one of them, trying to get a "zebra" picture for social media because that will unite Cub-ah, the island nation of Yara. But let me rewind.

Far Cry 6 Anton Castillo boat prologue

Far Cry has always been about interesting, eccentric, Bond-like villains. FC6 gives us Anton Castillo, who appears to be your standard banana republic tyrant, but for three things:
Far Cry 6 Juan Cortez book
Juan Cortez reading the classics.

Even more awesome is Juan Cortez, the semi-retired revolutionary with a pet crocodile named Guapo. Influencers aside, the FC6 cinematics have been far more interesting than most of the content on streaming services.

Far Cry 6 workbench rifle suppressor

Like its predecessors and Ubisoft peers, FC6 has an endless list of things to do and tinker with. Inventory, mods, vehicle capture, side missions, towers... Every hundred meters have some thing to do that gives you incremental progress toward a goal or unlockable. It's not all bad - they're lightweight tasks (unlike Skyrim caves) that you can ignore if you get bored of them. But then, is destroying zillions of propaganda billboards and rescuing the same hostage really all that satisfying?

Far Cry 6 tank

It's a little from Column A, a little from Column B. Another example, way back in the day, GTA added a garage feature where you could store your Diabla and retrieve it for a mission requiring fast wheels. That was neat and all, but annoying if your hard-earned car suffered terminal damage as you were backing out of the driveway. On the flip side, being able to spawn any car at any time is just kinda cheap. FC6 allows you to steal and save vehicles (e.g. a tank) at your guerilla camp and then spawn them later as many times as you like. It's a neat, optional, middle-of-the-road mechanism for incremental progression.

Far Cry 6 stronghold fort bay island

While climbing towers for lootables is sometimes a chore, the series mainstay of capturing strongholds is undeniably fun. You case the joint with your cellphone camera, getting permanent(!) visibility of the guards that you highlight. Then you choose one of numerous stealth paths in (parachute, wingsuit, swimming), or you just kick in the door with a tank and try to get to the alarm before they do.

A variation on these is the anti-aircraft emplacements. The AA guns serve both to deny airspace to our hero (thereby dialing back the value of aircraft) and to provide a lightweight stronghold that you can either stealth or simply blast with a long-range tank shot.

Far Cry 6 car turret supremo

The internet and The Fast and the Furious have convinced me that it's true that Cuba has a ton of pre-blockade American cars still in use. Yara's vehicle scene is cut from the same cloth, though the guerillas have added a few mods that don't come from the Mopar catalog.

I think FC5 had this, but it's certainly nice to be able to summon a combat-ready Buick Riviera with a quick menu command.

It might look like J is smuggling some pipes in the above screenshot, this is a 'Supremo' special weapon that Juan assembles once you have the right materials. This one fires homing rockets that are one of the only early-game defenses against helicopters.

Far Cry 6 jungle beach pillbox graphics

FC6 was probably built for PS4 and PS5 so I didn't have high expectations for the graphics. After a claustrophobic prologue with some interesting lighting effects, landing on the beach was visually pretty impressive.

TLDR: FC6 has everything I expect from the series and it's fairly fresh since I don't play a lot of AAA titles. My major gripe? On my mental health day off I got the hankering to do some level design, perhaps Rainbow Road 2.0. Guess who dropped support for their (previously very good) level editor?


Far Cry 6 Dani Rojas beach machete revolution is life
Dani Rojas, revolution is life.
Back 4 Blood, campaign completion

Back 4 Blood abomination underground tentacles

The lolbate squad finished out the B4B campaign (on easy). Unlike L4D, the game ends with a neat final boss battle that I'll talk about at the end of this section (in case you want to be surprised).

Back 4 Blood cards

With some more hours in the game, my card set has increased significantly. I built decks for each weapon type and for weak point DPS. I can see where this mechanic would open the door to advanced play with squad roles.

The campaign was pretty good but lacked some of the memorable moments that made L4D2 so good. The developers also seemed to try to duplicate the humor/banter between the L4D2 survivors but really fell short. Normal difficulty is surprisingly difficult, but that might be our next run.

Major gripe? It looks like there will be no community content (maps) for this game because there is no support for a level editor.

The Abomination (boss spoilers)

Back 4 Blood Abomination helicopter

Designing a good boss battle isn't easy. It needs to be able to sponge bullets. It needs to be powerful, but not impossible - so it needs to have complex attack patterns and/or require that the user minmax their build.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with an unconventional finale like racing the clock in a Warthog or convincing pre-final-form-Saren that he should off himself. But those are the exceptions that prove the rule; a final boss needs to not be to the rest of its game what GoT season 8 was to seasons 1-6.

Back 4 Blood Abomination tentacles

The Abomination is a three-stage battle (neat) that was a lot easier when my team maxed out weak point damage and carried pipe bombs. On higher difficulty, assigning a crowd control role might have helped as well. The breakdown:
  1. Blast four pattern-attack tentacles in their weak spots while keeping a few waves of zombies at bay.
  2. Shoot the Abomination in the tonsils while avoiding nastier tentacle swipes and still shooting zombies. This is the hardest phase.
  3. Chase the Abomination through some pretty cool tunnels, shooting its four weak points and fighting off not-as-many zombies. This phase isn't so bad if you know where the weak points are and avoid getting insta-downed by incidental contact from the big guy.
ME3 Legendary

Mass Effect 3 Legendary Reaper Palaven

I haven't gotten much ME3 in, but recently picked up some fetch quests from Victus and a bunch of people on the Citadel. I'm going to keep repeating it. Uniting the galaxy via favors would have made a lot more sense if it didn't start as the reapers besieged Earth and Palaven.

Nioh 2 complete-ish

Nioh 2 Lady Osakabe wtf
In case you didn't believe my statement, "Then fought our bff's bride on their wedding day (she's a large house with an eye and numerous very large tentacles)."

So we beat the Tokichiro zombie and his Raiden-lookalike boss. That left us with a couple more solo missions, including fighting(?) Kelley, the protagonist from the first Nioh. We'll call it done.

A Party Has No Name

Gloomhaven Steam map characters

After just barely beating (on hard) several early quests, the Ritchie bros party has fallen on the losing side of some close outcomes. Happily, it's been more motivating than discouraging.
Investing

WSB WallStreetBets fuckboy diamond hands

Nothing too crazy here - we had a big dip and a big pump in the recent weeks. Jon timed it pretty well selling some TQQQ puts and then dumping the shares after assignment.

This was kind of fun:
  1. Buy OIH (via cash secured put) with a cost basis of $181.
  2. Monday morning, with OIH at $188 and the potential for more red, sell an ITM $183 call for a few hundo.
  3. If OIH stays ITM, I'm out with some profit. If OIH dips a bunch, I keep the premium and am holding at a decent entry price.
Theta gang. Normally I'm selling OTM calls (or bag holding SPACs like CRSR, LZ, and SOFI), so selling one ITM but still above entry is nice.

Reddit WallStreetBests WSB onlybuyscalls

I have a new favorite intentially-incorrect idiom, "Blimp on the radar". See ya later, "Bowl in a china shop".