Does anyone have any information on how one goes about getting paid to blog? If ya know how to go about doing it, I hope you’d be wiling to share that with me… and thanks in advance!
Category Archives: Life, Living and Loving
The one thing that drives me crazy at this time of the year is finding my inboxes overflowing with Black Friday and Cyber Monday shit and from sources that I’ve not heard a damned thing from all year… until now.
I forgot to mention that the results of my bladder biopsy revealed that I don’t have bladder cancer and despite what my urologist said. Ah, you can’t imagine how much it warmed my heart to hear him say, when I went back for my post-procedure follow-up, “You were right – you don’t have bladder cancer…” and more so when, right before the procedure took place, we were talking about it and he had to make a change in his orders to include a chemotherapy device to take care of the cancer he said he was 90% sure I had, which resulted in me looking at him incredulously saying, “Really? Why don’t we wait and see what the pathology folks say about that and then decide the next steps?” I found out later that he told my wife that he was 88% sure I had bladder cancer! He said that I did have some polyps in there, which he removed.
I did find out, however, that I have BPH and he prescribed medication to take care of that.
I turned 62 yesterday and it was also Bisexual Day and for probably the first time in a very long time, I didn’t have anything reflective to write about before yesterday but I know it’s because I’ve had other things on my mind that were just a bit more important than reviewing and analyzing my life to date (I’ll get to that in a moment). Still, I had a great day and it started early with a visit to see Mom, who had a birthday care and, as she says, “A few ducats…” in it and her official pronouncement that, now at 62, I’m getting old.
Next was a trip to a nail salon to get a manicure, courtesy of my baby, Linda. We couldn’t get in where she wanted us to go and it took a little work to find a place where we wouldn’t have to wait very long… and didn’t smell like acetone and funky feet. Finally, we went to pick up dinner but before that, I spent quite a bit of time responding to all the birthday wishes I received from my family and friends on Facebook. Dinner was a rather impressive spread that included sushi, fried noodles with shrimp and even sharing a really good-tasting Japanese style fried rice and it was all I could do to stay awake after such a feast but I managed it but it was close, let me tell ya.
Okay, what was on my mind that preempted my “usual” pre-birthday review? Well, during a routine visit to the doctor, my lab work revealed microscopic traces of blood in my urine which require a trip to see a urologist; he decided that he needed to take a look inside my bladder and, um, trust me, you really don’t want to know what that was like but I decided later and giving into a very un-Christian-like thought that my worst enemy should be subjected to such an examination while being awake. The urologist said he saw something in my bladder, which he said was probably bladder cancer – and as I told my mom, if you had seen the look on my face and Linda’s, you would have thought this dude was as crazy as we were thinking to make such a pronouncement without following procedure to determine exactly and precisely what it was he saw… and that meant a biopsy.
The good part is that I was out like a proverbial light having this done and I’ll spare you all the gory details but let it suffice to say that while I’ve never had a kidney stone, um, I know what it’s like to having some things coming out that, um, shouldn’t be coming out of there… and was still coming out of there to the point where I was more than a bit concerned about it. No, it’s not life-threatening but it is pretty damned annoying and, yes, I would highly recommend this to my worst enemy as well. So, yeah, with this on my mind – and understandably so – I just wasn’t of a mind to do my usual pre-birthday soliloquy and this brief piece of scribbling will have to suffice until next year, I guess.
I actually didn’t think I’d have anything else to write about this game… until the new “better together” version of Minecraft was released yesterday… and it was a disaster. The gaming industry has been talking about this upgrade to the game because since Minecraft has been around, there are millions of people playing the game across the different platforms – iOS, Android, PC, and the consoles – but unless you were on the same platform with someone you wanted to play with, I couldn’t play with someone who might be playing on their Android tablet due to a mismatch in the protocols that were specifically written for a given device. Well, they finally solved the riddle and figured out a way for everyone to play Minecraft with everyone else and regardless to their device of choice; as I recall, the only exception is the Java version of the game and that’s because most modern devices other than PCs won’t run Java (or aren’t allowed to).
The beta version came out on Xbox One and to mixed reviews from those who gave it a try and one of the things I know many tried – and because I did it – is taking a world from the Xbox One version and converting it over to the beta version and it worked perfectly for me and many others. Admittedly, the world I converted wasn’t a big one in terms of file size but there were others who had already built worlds that were not only grandly elaborate but in terms of file size, they were massive. Still, the beta performed the conversion to my satisfaction even if I wasn’t fond of how they changed things like the game’s menus from what I’d painstakingly gotten used to playing the Xbox One version and I wasn’t the only one as evidenced by the riffing folks were doing on Facebook’s Minecraft Xbox One group page.
So now it was just a matter of the beta running its course and many people were waiting for it to go live. I don’t know about the other console versions but Microsoft assured everyone that once the new game went live, we could still play the original version – it just wasn’t going to be updated going forward. Additionally, anyone who had either the game disc or had purchased the digital copy and had played the game for five hours or more would receive the new game free of charge; it was also announced that any add-on packs purchased would be applied to the new game and work as expected but with the understandable caveat that some packs would take a bit of time to be included.
I fired up my Xbox to see if the new version was available there and only because I saw where my iOS version, Minecraft Personal Edition (or PE) had updated and I took a deep breath and proceeded to update my Xbox game and in a note to my son-in-law, I told him that I was afraid to open it but did so anyway. Now things get interesting. First, before I could do a thing with the new game, it locked up and eventually crashed my console and had to be reset. Once that was done, I reopened the game and just like everyone else was probably doing, when to convert my current world into the new game; when it got done, I opened it… and discovered that literally half of my world was missing! I found myself hovering in mid-air – and that’s because it was what I was doing when I closed that version of the world when I last played it – and then I turned around toward my “headquarters,” only to find that except for a few things, it was gone – all I could see was water where there was never any water. Even better, I moved to where my headquarters used to be and discovered that the mountain that sits behind my place was literally bisected and to the point where one of my mines was exposed! That’s about the time I started laughing because I knew if I was seeing something like this, there would be others who’d see it as well and as evidenced by hearing my son-in-law suddenly curse when he did the same thing I did and found parts of his converted world missing.
Several attempts to re-convert my world resulted in more of it being done but one of the things I noticed was that the world I was trying to convert was 257.5 MB in size… but only 170 MB had been converted. I thought that perhaps the missing megabyte were tied up in the add-on pack attached to the original game so I went to apply it. The size of the add-on is 8.4 MB… but the process kept getting to 8,1 MB downloaded and just stopped… then the game crashed and took my console along for the ride. I told my fellow Facebook group members what I’d experienced and even provided pictures of the “carnage” and, yup, a lot of people were having similar problems. But wait… this gets better!
If you had created a world in the beta, it would open up without a problem… but if you had an add-on applied, well, you could go to it in the menu and download it… except it wouldn’t download. On the Facebook group, many people were reporting that they could open their worlds from the beta… but there were some things that weren’t working anymore that were working before this thing went live. But wait… it gets even better from here! Remember when I said that we were told that if we already had the game either in disc form or digital download we’d get the new game free? Well, some people who had the game already discovered that when it was time to download and launch the new game, um, it was gonna cost them $349.00… and I had to laugh as I wondered how many people actually re-purchased the game at this price and while hoping that no one did.
I went to xbox.com to check system status one to see what they knew and, two, because this thing had crashed my console three times already and, indeed, Microsoft was aware that something was very wrong – and that’s about all they said; something’s wrong and we’re working on it so check back to see if/when we get it fixed. I had another good laugh thinking about how Mojang – the creators of Minecraft – and Microsoft were getting bombed and slammed by millions of players and pretty much all at the same time. I know some shit about moving stuff from a test/beta environment to going live so I know that you can test things until you get them working the way you need them to work but once in production mode, um, things don’t always go smoothly. Talking to my son-in-law, he managed to get in touch with someone on the Mojang team who told him that they were having problems because they didn’t expect four million people to start playing the game pretty much all at once and because that’s what happened, everything was crashing and burning around them. Now, you know, being experienced in such things, I said, “Really? They should have expected it and should have planned on this happening!” Whether those involved really did take this into consideration or not doesn’t change the fact that the much ballyhooed and anticipated new edition of Minecraft just blew up and now tech teams were – and are still – scrambling to fix it.
I’ve yet to check Xbox system status or fire up my console to see if things got fixed but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s still broken. And, yes, I am very glad and happy that I can still play the original Xbox version that has my world very much intact and functioning properly.
At this point, I’m not 100% sure of how long I’ve been playing Minecraft – maybe a week or a bit longer. I could find out easily enough but the real point here is how it’s quite possible to get totally lost playing this game. Then again, whenever I play a new game I like, getting lost in the moment isn’t all that unusual, as my recent experiences with Watch Dogs and Watch Dogs 2 would indicate and, knowing myself, once the novelty of Minecraft starts to wear off I’ll spend less time playing it – just don’t ask me when I think that will happen.
Some folks seem to play this game for the thrill of the hunt, coming to “life” when the sun goes down and the scary monsters come out; some seem to be explorers in that once they establish a home base, it’s time to gear up and explore everything they can get to, both above and below ground. Some are creators/builders and I’ve seen plenty of examples of the work of some of these folks… and to say mind blowing doesn’t come close, as a YouTube video I watched yesterday illustrated: Some guy built an underground world inside of his Minecraft seed and, wow – just wow. I can’t imagine the amount of time this guy spent with his creation and I’ll admit to having my brain lock up for a moment when my son-in-law suggested that taking on a similar project would be fun; I told him that at the moment, I couldn’t even imagine what such a project on my part would look like.
It seems I like building things; with my son-in-law’s help, I built a four-story “apartment building,” built a kind of covered archway that leads to the apartment building; constructed some simple bridges between where my main “home” is and this little islet – and then between the islet and another part of my location… so that I could build another “standard” place. I kinda have a goal to build something in the varying locations in my seed (there’s an achievement for this in Xbox) so gearing up and exploring possible building locations just seems like a logical thing to do. What strikes me as being funny is that I’m finding that I’m building things without any real purpose other than seeing a shape in my head and start stacking blocks. Like, with the apartment building, I told my son-in-law, as we drew close to finishing it, that I had no idea what I was gonna do with this place once it was finished. Indeed, everything I’ve built outside of my main base has no pre-determined purpose; however. the apartment building is the most complicated structure so far. The last place I built has me thinking about dividing the space into rooms… as soon as I figure out (or I’m taught) how to build interior walls because, um, this game doesn’t seem to have anything like sheet rock…
Now, if I didn’t have enough to do in my main seed, I decided to duplicate this seed and start a new game in Creator mode (as opposed to the default Survivor mode) and, wow, talk about a different animal! In Survivor mode you have to do shit to get the stuff you need to do whatever it is you wanna do; Creator mode gives you everything you need to do this so once I got into my duplicated seed, it was hard for me to resist the urge to start cutting down trees and burrowing down deed to get the stuff I needed. I just went into my inventory, tossed down a crafting block and furnace – and two items I actually don’t need, by the way – and started clearing a huge-ass space to build a place to, at the very least, place a bed. I’m finding that I’m gonna need a lot of chests to store excess stuff in because they don’t run out like they do in Survivor mode, like, I can use all the cobblestone blocks I want and not have to stop to go mine more of them… but when I change materials, um, I’m finding that I’m gonna need those chests to stash the stuff I’m not using so that the inventory I carry with me doesn’t get overloaded.
This is kinda daunting since my crafting skills aren’t all that great at this point and, again, I’ve not gotten used to having everything I could possibly want or need to do something so what I think I should be doing is thinking about what I want to build, like, um, I have this idea for a tower-like structure that if I can pull it off, will end above the clouds…
I like mining; there’s something rather soothing about taking pickax and shovel in hand and just hacking at the various materials; whenever I hit a dead end – like one of those gigantic rivers of lava I seem to have a knack for falling into – I feel… frustrated. Yesterday, Brian and I started taking apart a mountain of sand – and this sucker is huge – so he can collect the hidden sandstone to build a pyramid. I sat for a good long time hacking at the sand, only stopping to convert the sand I’d been collecting into more sandstone… which seems kinda silly since this mountain we’re deconstructing probably has more sandstone than he’s gonna need to complete this project he has. Even though he has his own seeds/worlds to play in, he seems to be having a grand time doing stuff in my world… and I’m not complaining one bit. But…
I went to his world, one so he could show me the latest texture pack he got called steampunk – it’s pretty cool looking, especially the trees that have piping and moving gears in them and, two, so he could show me how close he was to a base camp he created that’s close to a Mansion he found. Now, if I often feel lost roaming around in my world, following him around in his really amplifies this feeling because, of course, he knows where he’s going (for the most part) and I’m clueless as to the lay of the land. And while I managed not to fall into a deep hole or otherwise get killed, it gets annoying to be running around at night and getting shot up by skeletons and having creepers and zombies chasing you all over the place. You have the instinct to put and keep your head on a swivel when not in Peaceful mode… except there’s really no way to do this and, at one point when we were battling and dodging a clutch of creepers, I found myself wishing that I could create a shotgun which would be better than relying on a sword; I’d rather have the advantage of killing these things from a distance instead of having to always engage in close quarter combat with things that like to literally blow up in your face.
A bad guy alarm would also be a very nice thing to have, just like having a flashlight or even a torch that stays lit as you carry it in your hand… except if you have a lit torch and you run into a zombie, um, well, you see the problem here, don’t you? Oh, and since the skeletons are archers, they can stand off at a distance and pepper you with arrows until you escape or get killed. Now, one can arm themselves with a bow and arrows as well but I haven’t graduated to this point even though in my world, I do have the stuff I need to make one so this is gonna be on my list of things to do.
So after years of being told, “Dad, you gotta play Minecraft!” and a brief moment of attempting to play the iOS version of the game – and getting killed not even a minute into the game – I’ve finally stopped resisting and have immersed myself in the worlds of Minecraft. First, I tried the version that can be played on Windows 10… and trying to navigate using the keyboard and mouse proved to be a pain; I can connect my Xbox controller to the computer but, eh, while that is kinda easier, the Windows 10 version doesn’t quite behave like the Xbox One version so I’ve opted to stick with the Xbox version and not subject my computer’s keyboard to any more abuse than I already give it. My baby got me the Xbox One version of the game and I’m quite grateful that she did this for me; now when I wanna play, I don’t have to get up and go into another room and fire up my computer.
My Minecraft drill sergeants – my daughter and her husband, who were the same critters that taught me how to play Borderlands – have been cramming all sorts of arcane shit into my head about this game; it’s about the only time my daughter can yell at me and get away with it. The one thing I like about having both of them in my game is listening to her giving her hubby the business about how he does things, like running into a pack of creepers and zombies and needing to eat quickly to avoid getting killed and having to respawn without all the stuff you’ve painstakingly gathered. I hear a lot of, “You’re gonna die…” directed at him and I don’t know which thing is more fun – playing and learning the game… or listening to her jumping in his ass about stuff.
Still, I gotta give them props because without their help, I’d probably be running around the game without any real idea of what I’m supposed to do other than survive. I’ve been in their worlds and, wow, they’ve both built some rather impressive and beautiful worlds for themselves. They tell me that if you can think it, you can build it and so far, I’ve taken the place where I first decided to settle in and expanded it in a way where it’s all connected, well, except for the new place I recently built which is close by. While I’ve yet to master crafting like they have, they say I’ve been doing well for a noob and even my grandchildren (who also play) seem to be impressed that Pop-Pop is throwing down with one of their favorite games.
I’ve got several mines dug and while there doesn’t seem to be a trick to digging one, um, after following behind my son-in-law as he got lost in his own mine, I’ve come up with a way to dig a mine and, hopefully, not have to suffer the indignity of getting lost in my own construction project. As I dig, I place torches on the left side so that if I have to get out, the torches are now on my right and easily followed out of the dig. I’ve learned to craft a compass and a map, both of which come in handy (I’ll get to that shortly) but the thing that bothers me about this game is that I’m used to playing games where a part of the HUD (heads-up display) is a kind of radar thingy that’s both a miniature version of a larger scale map but also lets me know where the bad guys are in relation to where I am.
Minecraft has no such animal, which is how I manage to get blown up by creepers and jumped by witches that sneak up on me from behind or I hustle around a tree and, shit, there’s a zombie… and chances are I don’t have my sword in my hand. I’ve learned the hard way to not be outside a very well lit place after dark and if I’m inside, I gotta do the Minecraft version of turning on all the lights since some bad guys like to find a spot you forgot to light up inside your home or mine and blow it – and you – back to the spawn point. And I learned all of this before I learned that there is a game mode where they only way you get killed is if you do something stupid – Peaceful mode.
My drill sergeant daughter gives me the business about playing in Peaceful mode but since I’m not experienced with all the nuances of this game, I’d rather not be bothered with trying to escape monsters and when trying to run away from them, fall into a deep cavern (and die) or find out I’ve fallen into a hidden pool of lava (and die) and, yes, I’ve done both of these things and have had my instructors laughing at my demise and being told to watch where I’m walking… which is hard to do because, apparently, in the Xbox One version, holding a torch in your hand does not provide you light to see by; you can make all sorts of shit in this game but the one thing you can’t make is a flashlight…
Being in Peaceful mode is good for exploring and having a compass is valuable because no matter where you are, it will always point to the place you first spawned into your world – and I make that point somewhere in my home. Yesterday, I got a lesson on how hard it is to read a map, which uses a coordinate system of X, Y, and Z and while I understand this system, um, it takes some doing trying to figure out where you are in relation to where you want to go, as proved by a walkabout with my son-in-law yesterday – and in a mode that can get you killed – and we were wandering around all over the place… with my daughter in the background constantly saying, “Brian, you’re going the wrong way!”
These two are really funny. I do my walkabouts in Peaceful mode because I’ve been told that if you don’t explore the world you’re in, you won’t be able to find different and essential things each biome has to offer so you also have to practice how to get out there and explore… and be able to find your way back home – and the compass as well as torches placed along the way, help a great deal. Except, yesterday, ah, fuck, that didn’t help me very much. I walked out of the upper level of my crib, turned to my left and asked, “What’s over there?” and headed off in that direction to explore but wound up stopping and turning back because upon seeing some torches in front of me, shit, that’s right – Brian and I had went this way the other day, damn it. So I turn back and I’m hustling back, kinda got turned around the wrong way a few times but my own sense of direction is at work.
It’s very dark because the game is simulating a total eclipse during the day and night cycles and I guess to pay homage to the upcoming event tomorrow. I’m running along, dodging nosy cows and the occasional wolf that shows up and I’m thinking that I’m getting close to home… when I fall into a pit there was no way I could have seen even in daylight and my last sight was falling down toward a huge pit of lava and, as the game dutifully mentioned, I died trying to swim in lava. The good thing is that I respawned back home; the bad thing is that I lost everything I had been carrying.
Shit, fart, piss, fuck, and damn it all to hell.
One of the things I learned is that there are worlds, also known as seeds, that have been created for the game so when you create a new game, you can either let the game randomly pick a seed or, if you know it, enter the seed’s ID number or name and, voila! You’re in a pre-constructed world that can offer a great many things that can either make it easy to get established… or test your ability to play the game and survive. I’ve created four such worlds to play around in and I will admit that you really can spend a great deal of time getting yourself established since, every time you create a new game, you arrive in it with nothing – unless you select the option that will make a crate of goodies appear wherever you happen to enter that world. Then it’s the first rule of survival – build a shelter and be able to make fire – but with little to help you even with the goody crate. Chopping down trees, mining dirt and rocks, killing cows, sheep, chickens (which looks like a duck – go figure) and pigs so you can have food and other items.
And, yes, despite what my darling daughter says, doing this in Peaceful mode is way easier although in the one world/seed I used, I was chasing a sheep to get its wool so I can make a bed; it stopped at the top of the mountain and I felt a moment of triumph and even said to myself, “Yeah! Got your ass!” – but the sheep ran off to my left at the last moment and I was still moving forward… and I’m glad that I took my thumb off the joystick because if I hadn’t, the next step taken would have had me falling into a very, very deep ravine and dying. On the other hand, the view of that drop was breathtaking…
When I’m in the game without my teachers, I can’t help feeling that I’m truly alone in my world even though that’s not true; you’d have to scout around and find a village that might be populated with some “folks” you can trade with; they might have a garden you can grab necessary stuff you need like carrots and melons and, importantly, seeds that you can use to grow your own crops – y’all should see the garden my daughter built for me. There are temples both on land and underwater and if you’re not in Peaceful mode, they are very dangerous places. A Minecraft world is anything but a beautiful place to run around in; even in Peaceful mode, there are dangers all around you and I know my thoughts are always filled with thinking about the stuff I need to survive and not doing something dumb that will get me killed.
Now, the game does have a tutorial which I didn’t know about until my daughter asked me why I hadn’t done the tutorial… and the tutorial I didn’t know existed. You can learn the basics there but what I’m learning is that the tutorial doesn’t even come close to teaching you everything there is to learn about this game, which explains why you can search the web and find all manner of “how to play Minecraft” stuff – and there’s a lot of it. The game has, under Settings, a “how to play” kinda thing that, again, can teach you some very basic stuff but isn’t going to help you build a fortification to keep you and your collected stuff safe… and at night. The game has weather and in one trip to my world, I almost got struck by lightning. There are different biomes or environments, like jungle, mesa/desert, and even snow/ice but as I mentioned, if you don’t go exploring – or aren’t learning the game from someone who really knows how to play it – you just don’t know what might be around you.
I’m kinda hooked and I was even dreaming last night about how to go about building more elaborate buildings, like a multi-story apartment building… and just because I can build one. Once I get a better feel of my world, I’ll get out of Peaceful mode and play with all the dangerous stuff. If there are any Minecraft players out there and playing on Xbox One, you’re cordially invited to come see what I’ve built so far – my gamertag is SmartKDaddy.