Friday, 26 August 2011

7 Quick Takes

1. I've been moving the last couple of days (and will still be in the midst of getting my stuff together in the coming days). If you've been noticing a marked absence in posting, this is partly why. I'm moving from a basement suite into an apartment of my own. This will be the first time I'll have my own place, no roommates, no housemates, no shared accom.

2. I have purchased and played Portal. I realize that I'm at least a half-decade behind on this, but I'm happy I finally did get caught up. I very much enjoyed it. Part of what interests me about it is that the game is (relatively) non-violent, at least in so far as you get shot at but you don't do any shooting. It's puzzle-based with a simple, stream-lined story. (In this case, I'd say it's simple in a good way.) Also, the gimmick the game is built around--that you can make linked portals on surfaces that you can travel through--is a lot of fun, in that it requires a slight tweak to your regular spacial reasoning.

And speaking of computer games, I think you might want to look at this trailer. The genre is squarely cyberpunk and has all of the conventions of it, but I'm interested in how it indicates a change in how computer games are marketed. I've fallen out of that world for a little while and I don't want to make unfair generalizations, but story and theme seem increasingly valued. Maybe Tycho at Penny Arcade exaggerates a little in his assessment of how philosophical this product is, but I think we are headed somewhere where his panygeric is not an exaggeration. (Though, given his writing style, I imagine he would up the ante as well and continue to overstate.) (And maybe he doesn't exaggerate. I've never played the game. And I may have unrealistically high expecations for theoretical questioning, since that is what my career seems to be right now.)

3. I visited a Buddhist temple. Not with the intent of converting, mind you, but of just looking and learning and (hopefully) taking photographs. However, no one there at the time was especially fluent in English, so my ability to learn things was a bit hampered by this (combined with my own lack of Mandarin, of course) and by the fact that I didn't really have any questions prepared, since I knew almost nothing about that temple before I visited. (I was lucky enough to see Pure Land displayed prominently somewhere, and to remember a little bit about the Pure Land sect from my RELS minor in undergrad.)

I was only allowed to take photographs of the exterior, but that's still pretty cool. The property is very beautiful, the interior more than the exterior, I think.

4. I have been going to David's Tea fairly often, equipping myself and my new crib, and trying new teas. I'm still a novice at this whole tea-drinking thing, and I've been meaning to find some new black teas--no fruit, no spices, no flowers--for first thing in the morning. I like the fancier teas later in the day, but first thing in the morning I like a straight black tea. Also, I got a kettle and a travel mug (with a built-in French press! what luxury!) that is wide enough for me to get my hand in to clean the bottom. This is always a problem for me with travel mugs.

Anyway, I like David's Tea because the staff are so extraordinarily friendly and helpful and chatty, and I am learning a lot about teas. Whenever I go in requesting one kind of tea, they show me others I might like based on that (and when I go back to try one of those, they show me more...).

5. At church I have been performing new liturgical roles. I am now trained to do pretty

much everything, liturgically speaking, with the exception of those things the priest does (of course). I imagine it's somewhat unorthodox for me to be doing them--I'm not even a diaconal assistant--but "somewhat unorthodox" is our modus operandi. However, as much as I am "good" at liturgy, I am increasingly reminded that no one is good at something they first start. I fumble as much as I did when I started being a server, and unfortunately those fumbles are bigger now. Still, everyone is quite nice about it.

6. I was reading Sedgwick's Epistemology of the Closet, which is very important and theoretically originary queer literary theory/queer theory without the literary, since Sedgwick is somewhat lauded for her ability to make bridges from text to politics/practice, a move that's difficult, controversial, and otherwise fraught. However, even though I enjoyed it a lot, I found that I stalled entirely at the beginning of the final chapter and simply haven't finished it. I need to move on. I've been trying to work with Precarious Life ("how mourning and violence might [...] inspire solidarity and a quest for global justice"), but I may need to read something lighter, at least until I'm finished moving. (I did want to finish it before classes began, though.)

7. For the last few weeks, we have had only one day of rain. The grass is dying here. This is so unlike Vancouver. It has also been less than excellent for purposes of photography, though I am finding that I can get some beautiful pictures of flowers in bright sunlight, even though it's usually the case that slightly overcast is all-around better for floral photography. If you can avoid the sunflares and the terribly inconsistent light levels, though, bold sunlight makes for bold colours.


Leah said...

Portal always sounds awesome, but I've never played video games before. Do you know if it's playable on a PC or is the experience diminished without a console? Would it be accessible even to a novice?

Christian H said...

It's playable on PC. That's how I played it. (To my knowledge, Valve games started on PCs and then moved to consoles. While they may now make games with consoles in mind, they are still accessible on PCs.)

I would imagine it's accessible, but that's really hard to tell, considering games like Portal didn't exist yet when I was learning to play computer games. You've /never/ played a computer or console game before? Hmmm. My thought is that you might not have the reflexes for the upper levels (ie. your brain will not be wired for it), but you can surely develop that as you play...

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