Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Add An Extra Shot of Cozy

With my first blanket of the year finished up and The Scarf still in the works, I had a few quick small projects I thought I'd knock out before starting up blanket number two. The first of those was a cozy for the lovely new Kindle I received as a Christmas present.

Kindle Cozy by Cori 2012.
Pattern: Easy Laptop/iPhone Sleeve by Neesha Edrupt
Yarn: Red Heart Super Saver (two balls from my stash)
Hook: H

That "easy" in the name of the pattern? Yeah, it is no joke. All there is to this pattern is a basic chain and then single crochet down each side and around until you hit the desired length. I worked this up in a couple of hours. I probably could have eventually come up with doing it this way on my own, but I did look at several patterns online, knit and crochet, before deciding to go with this one, so credit where credit is due, eh? This is a great stash buster project too. I used two strands of regular worsted weight together to make it a bit thicker and sturdier. It also has the added bonus of giving it that cool visual texture. I love projects where I can use two (or more) strands at once! They have to be small and pretty mindless pattern-wise though, or I get a bit sidetracked.

Without the Kindle.

Sliding it on in. It's like a nice little sleeping bag for my reader!

Now, the fit on this thing is entirely customizable, of course. I made mine a little more snug than I probably needed to, strictly speaking. I could have added one more chain in the foundation to make it slip in and out with a bit more ease. But I wanted it to be snug. This is not for quick and easy access, but rather to keep it out of the hands of my lovely darling daughter and away from the paws of kitties who don't necessarily bother to look where they are stepping when prowling on the furniture. Also, this will keep it from getting scratched up if I throw it in my purse or another bag. I like that, a lot. I did toy with the idea of adding handles, either at the top, just working them right into the pattern, or along the side, just crocheting a strap and attaching it. In the end though, I decided to just leave it as a sleeve. I am pretty happy with how it turned out.  I might have to make one of these for my netbook as well, come to think of it.

Snug as a bug and safe from kitties and babies.


Huzzah for small quick projects! I love when I can just knock one out in an afternoon. It is a wonderful feeling, let me tell you. I've got one more in the works that I should be able to show you next week. I think you'll get a kick out of that one, too. After that, it is on to another blanket. I added a new one two more to the list this week too, but that's okay. I am really digging this schedule I've got going right now, so hopefully I won't be experiencing a blanket-related meltdown in the next few months. We shall see. We shall see.

I am wondering what the repercussions would be if I sent out a general request to my friends and family to stop procreating/finding the loves of their lives/finding their dream homes--just for the next year or so.... Of course, when I put it like that, I can only be happy that the people I love are all so happy and just tell myself to shut up and pick that crochet hook back up. After all, it really is just silly to complain when my blanket list is so big for so many happy reasons.

Monday, January 30, 2012

SGA Rewatch: The Game

Welcome to the start of another week and yet another installment in the Stargate Atlantis Rewatch! Today's episode is season three's "The Game." Spoilers for the episode and any and all that came before.

What Happened

The team is eating lunch together and Rodney poses a hypothetical moral dilemma to them (mentioning that Katie Brown had brought it up over dinner the other night). If the only way to save ten people from an oncoming train is to divert the train but kill a baby, do you do it? Ronon and Teyla resolutely refuse to play ball with the scenario, asking all sorts of questions about why the people can't save themselves, hear/see the train, the baby can't be moved, etc. Rodney starts to get really frustrated and John jumps in, asking questions of his own. They are interrupted when Rodney is called to the control room. Major Lorne has reported in and has found something he thinks Rodney needs to see.

The team reports to the control room and Major Lorne is on the view screen. He tells them they exited a space gate over the planet and found a network of satellites in geosynchronous orbit, indicating a possibly advanced civilization. They went down to check it out and discovered something akin to a medieval level of advancement. Elizabeth thinks it is worth sending a science team to check out, to see if there are any remnants of the society that built the satellites. Lorne suggests Rodney should be the one to come and pans his camera to a nearby flag, which resembles the Canadian flag, only with a picture of Rodney's face instead of a maple leaf.

Elizabeth calls Rodney into her office, along with John, for an explanation. He and John say the flag is just like the one from their game. Elizabeth demands to know what game they are talking about. They explain that not too long after arriving on Atlantis, they discovered what they thought was an agricultural lab of some sort. They soon realized, however, that it was actually a game room. The console housed information on several simulated countries. The object of the game was to take over a country and monitor and influence its development without allowing it to grow too quickly and under a specific set of guidelines. John and Rodney each assumed control of countries on opposite sides of a river. While John stuck with mostly organizational changes (like building roads, stepping up production of raw materials, strengthening the army), Rodney gave his country a whole new overhaul. He changed its name to Geldar (after a girl he dated in college), decreed that all women should have short (preferably blonde) hair (much like Sam Carter), and then began focusing on intellectual and scientific advancement. John accuses him of cheating at this point, stating that Rodney bent the rules as far as possible to get his people to advance very rapidly on the technological front (in a matter of a few years they developed electricity, steam power, etc.). Elizabeth tells them to get a jumper and check out the planet that Lorne found.

When they arrive through the gate, they first go to examine the satellites. They are clearly Ancient in origin and Rodney is surprised to learn that they are, in fact, still quite active. The satellites are relaying an enormous amount of data somewhere. John and Rodney quabble about their two contries' trade relations (which aren't good) as they fly down to the planet. It seems Rodney has been very demanding in negotiations and not offering anything of value to John's country. John meanwhile, has been increasing the size of his country's army in response, he says, to the rapid advancement of Rodney's country. They enter the village and while still largely medieval, it does seem to display a remarkable level of advancement technologically. As they stroll through, people notice Rodney and begin to stare. They come to a portrait on the wall of a building that is clearly of Rodney in his Atlantis uniform. A woman steps forward and greets them, introducing herself as Nola and welcoming them to Geldar. She scrutinizes Rodney for a moment and declares that he is the oracle. Everyone around them bows.

She takes them into a building and explains that their society and people were created by the oracle thousands of years ago. The oracle would instruct them and command them on how to live and progress as a society. Some time ago the oracle grew silent (likely due to the war with the wraith). Teyla asks if Geldar has encountered the wraith and she responds in the affirmative. She says that whenever the wraith came, they rebuilt afterwards according to the oracle's guidelines, but remained at the level the oracle last brought them to. Their society had become to become stagnant, in Nola's opinion. Then the oracle once more made contact two years ago and began instructing them anew, bringing them forward at a rapid pace and showing them their full potential. She shows them a machine that is clearly Ancient and explains that it is what they use to communicate with the oracle. John and Rodney realize that they have not been playing a game at all, but actually have been sending commands to real societies for the last two years. The satellites in orbit track the information and allow for the communications. John asks about the country across the river, Hallona, and Nola responds that it is a constant thorn in Geldar's side. John's face falls.

In Atlantis, Radek has been sent to study the "game" room. He is briefing Elizabeth and Lorne on what he has discovered. Geldar and Hallona are not the only two countries in its database. It contains information on many, many countries on many planets all over the galaxy. The countries all appear to be at varying levels of development. Some have thrived without the Ancients' guidance, others have been wiped out by the wraith, stalled in their development, or gone to war with their neighbors.

John takes the jumper over to Hallona and meets with its leader, Baden, bringing him back to Geldar. Baden is a much simpler society, and very martial in nature, partly due to John's influence over the last two years, though Baden certainly seems suited to it. It is clear that Baden and Nola do not care for each other, nor for each other's countries. Teyla asks if things have always been this way between Hallona and Geldar. They tell her no, the two peoples were once at peace. It is only in the last few years that hostilities have sprung up, since the oracles resumed communication, in fact.

Radek and Lorne continue to go through the data in the satellite monitoring device. Radek tells Lorne about one that seems on the brink of famine and disaster. It is a shame, he says, because the satellites show a very fertile land just to their south. If they were to discover and plant it with a tuber that they grow, they would be saved from their impending doom. Lorne asks Radek if he is going to just let the people all die out when there is a clear solution. Radek looks at the screen, thoughtful.

John and Rodney are getting nowhere trying to explain the reality of the oracles to Baden and Nola. They want to try to bring the two countries back to peace, since it is their fault that conflict has arisen. John decides to bring them both back to Atlantis, to show them the satellite monitoring device and actually explain what has been going on.

Nola is very shaken by the revelation. Her people revealed the oracle as a god, now she must reconcile herself to the fact that he is only a man. Not only that, she was elected based on her passion for the advancement of Geldar and her belief in the oracle and his teachings. To find out it was all just a game to the being she worshiped is disturbing. Rodney tries to console her. He explains that despite what he and John thought about the reality of the situation, his only intent was to help Geldar better itself. All of his instructions and teachings were meant to improve their lives and advance their knowledge and development.

Baden, meanwhile, is more frustrated than anything. He sees the resources available to John and demands that he continues to help Hallona. From his end, the situation really hasn't changed all that much. Whatever the reason behind it, Geldar has been acting in a very arrogant, aggressive, and demeaning manor towards Hallona for the last two years. They have refused fair trade and disdained all attempts at negotiation or compromise. Now, they have begun digging a mine underneath the border into Hallona in order to exploit Hallona's coal resources. He asks John what he would do in that situation if he still thought it was a game, but he knows the answer. He says that John would order an attack on the mine.

John tells Elizabeth that he is afraid the two nations are very much headed for war with one another. She decides to try to use her negotiator skills with Nola and Baden to help them find some sort of truce. Unfortunately, both sides are set in their way. Neither of them want to back down. Geldar wants to continue their accelerated advancement, and expects Hallona to stay out of their way. Hallona, meanwhile, feels threatened by this and has been increasing military strength, which has caused Geldar to build up their own armies, and so on. Elizabeth doesn't get very far with the two of them, they refuse to compromise and don't want to make any further decisions without John and Rodney involved. Nola declares that Geldar is going to continue its quest for advancement and Hallona needs to either concede or get out of the way.

Baden is convince that the only way to protect his people and to stop Geldar is to attack the mine. While he and John are in the game room and John is distracted, Baden takes advantage to order the attack from John's console, making it seem to come from the oracle. When John finds out what Baden did, he and Rodney frantically check the information from the satellites. The Geldar at the mine surrendered without a fight and no one was hurt, but they all fear that further escalation is imminent. The war has officially begun. Elizabeth sends them back to the planet to put a stop to it. When they arrive, they learn that the Hallonans did not stop at the mine, but have continued to advance within Geldar's borders, marching for the city.

Nola reveals to Rodney that her people have been able to use his teachings to develop explosives technology. She means to send a bomb to drop on the Hallonans from one of their dirigibles. Rodney calls John to warn him of the attack, knowing if it were to succeed it would be devastating to Hallona and avoiding casualties would be impossible. John and Teyla rush to the jumper and use it to shoot down the dirigible. The pilot is not hurt and the bomb is stopped.

Elizabeth visits the game room to monitor the situation on the planet and finds Lorn and Zelenka arguing over a trade deal involving food and baskets. It appears Radek did help those people he had been watching, and he and Lorne each claimed their own countries. Finding them arguing, Elizabeth angrily orders them away and then demands that the machine be just shut down for good. It is too much temptation to resist, and clearly even trying to help leads to conflict.

Nola realizes that her dirigible must have been shot down by the puddle jumper and is very angry. She is not deterred, however, and orders her assistant to ready the other bombs. Baden, meanwhile, orders a full-scale attack on Geldar launched in response to the attempted bombing. He believes it is the only way to stop further attempts and to protect his people from a weapon far beyond their capabilities.

Rodney and Ronon are watching the chaos in the oracle room and Ronon is starting to believe that they have no chance of stopping the war. Clearly Geldar and Hallona are determined to escalate the conflict. Rodney is telling him that he isn't ready to give up and doesn't plan to leave until they find a solution when they are both beamed out of the room. They find themselves on the Daedalus with John and Teyla. John explains that Elizabeth (refusing to use the device in Atlantis anymore) diverted the ship to monitor the situation. Caldwell, seeing that things had escalated, feared for the safety of his people and beamed them out. This gave John an idea, however. After implementing it, everybody beams back down to their respective countries.

Rodney tries one more time to talk Nola out of bombing Hallona. She says he told her she needed to start thinking for herself and not just relying on the oracle. This is her doing that. She is convinced that war with Hallona is the best thing for Geldar and its future development. Baden, likewise, is refusing to back down. His people might not have anything with the destructive power of the bombs, but they are not without their defenses. They are not as primitive as Nola believes. He orders his people to attack the airships (though it's not really clear with what--catapults, I think).

From the Geldar control room, Nola watches as her airships are shot down one by one by the Hallonans. The screen shows as Hallona's army destroys villages in its path and finally breaches the city. Explosions outside rock the building and Rodney is unable to make contact with John over the radio. Then all of the power in the room goes out, including the oracle device. Nola laments that it is over, and Geldar has lost.

In Hallona, meanwhile, things don't seem very victorious. Despite what Nola saw, the city is being rocked with bombs from the airships. Teyla claims that the jumper has been destroyed and they are trapped. John tries radioing Rodney with no success. The console shows Hallona being overrun just before its power cuts out. It appears that Hallona has lost the battle.

As things quiet down, John and Rodney quickly explain to Baden and Nola (and the audience) that there was no actual battle. While they were on the Daedalus, they hacked the oracle machines and uploaded a doomsday scenario for each country. They commanded the armies themselves to stand down and await further orders. The explosions that they felt throughout the city were just directed fire from the Daedalus, none of it hitting any people or buildings. It was all a big fake-out. They wanted to demonstrate to the pair the true stakes they were playing at, as well as to give them a taste of what war is really like.

Much chastened by their experience, Nola and Baden agree to return to Atlantis for peace negotiations with Elizabeth. Neither wants to risk the scenario they thought they experienced from actually occurring. John and Rodney, meanwhile, decide they'll just stick to playing chess with each other from now on.


Gee, the Ancients decided to set up civilization simulations and use real, actual, humans as their guinea pigs? Why am I not surprised? Grr. I am starting to wonder if the writers didn't have some sort of hidden agenda with the Ancients. Something along the lines of absolute power corrupts absolutely, perhaps? They do seem to be a valuable argument for the "just because you can do something, that doesn't mean you should do it" camp.

Sigh. I want to be mad at John and Rodney about this, but how could they actually realize that there were real people on the other end of their so-called game? I will concede with John that Rodney cheats though. As much as I love Rodney, one person with his particular brand of arrogance and intelligence is more than enough. A whole country? Yeesh. No. We see how well that worked out, eh? At least Rodney seemed to grasp right away what a bad idea it was to have real people actually running their country according to his whims. I will give him points for that. Now, Lorne and Radek, on the other hand, should have known better. At least they only got to the point where they were arguing about baskets before Elizabeth stepped in. I wholeheartedly agree with her call to shut down that machine. I would have gone a step farther and harvested the satellites on all of those planets for spare Ancient tech parts, but hey, that's just me.

I love the little moral dilemma that Rodney presented to the team at the start of the episode. I don't know if it was meant to have any sort of parallels in the episode, but I found it amusing. Of course Teyla and Ronon are not going to sit around thinking about what they would do in such a situation. For starters, they are both the kind of people who would do their best to find a way to save everyone in such a situation. Rodney should know this by know. For another, they are both often very reactionary--they see what's going on and they go from there. Planning ahead for what may or may not happen isn't really their thing, ya know?

Then we get to the hidden Easter egg in the episode--Katie Brown. Remember Katie Brown? Apparently Rodney is still dating her. Apparently, it's not even news, because he just randomly drops it into the conversation and no one even bats an eye. Hmm. Interesting. I know it's a matter of actor availability and contracts and such, but I hate how television shows, even those that are more or less set in a bottle, tend to just throw a character's relationships at us and pretend like they are full-blown and have always been running quietly in the background without ever bothering to show us. I mean, even if that character's significant other for whatever purpose can't appear on a semi-regular basis onscreen, the character could at least mention the other person from time to time. People do talk about the fact that they are in a relationship, and mention their partners, after all. Especially to the people they consider their family and closest friends. Probably I am reading too much into this though, but still. Okay, okay. Stopping now.

Favorite Quotes

"So you're saying this is a game?" (Nola)
"Uh, no, no...I mean, we thought it was a game, but, uh..." (Rodney)
"We didn't know there were real people on the other end." (John)
"You are the oracle?" (Baden)
"I'm your oracle, yes. That doesn't sound right..." (John)

"You sent crates of citrus fruit! Citrus! Do you have any idea what an insult that is to my people?" (Nola)
"It didn't used to be." (Baden)
"Okay, see, I think I know where that comes from. Did M...the oracle tell you that citrus fruit was bad?" (Elizabeth)
"He made us aware of its toxic properties, yes." (Nola)

"We just saw that there were some people in trouble and we thought that maybe we could...um...help." (Lorne)
"No! No more 'help.' Clearly we are not qualified." (Elizabeth)


That's all, folks. See you back here on Wednesday for "The Ark."

Friday, January 27, 2012

That One Last Thing

So this week I finally got around to putting away the Star Wars Lego advent calendar we had up in December. It was the final remnant of our holiday decorations. I had considered putting it away with the rest of the Christmas stuff, to be brought back out and used again this year. But when Hubby started taking down all of the decorations we had a conversation that went more or less like this:

Me: I am trying to decide if I want to pack away the Lego advent calendar to use again next year or if I want to keep the minifigs out.

Hubby: Keep 'em out!

Me: Really? You think so?

Hubby: Sure. I figured we'd just get another Star Wars Lego calendar next year.

Me: I love you!

Hubby: I know.

Yeah, you might think I just threw that list bit in there to be funny, what with the topic being Star Wars related and all. Nope. We're totally one of those couples. Quote Han and Leia all of the time.

Anyhoo. So, the decorations got put away and the calendar and Legos stayed out. Until this week. I decided to just clip the little flap off of each day's compartment of the calendar box--that was the bit with the assembly diagram for each kit--and put them all in a baggy along with the random figures and kits that I didn't necessarily feel like displaying. Those will get added to our Lego collection when next I brave the attic to go through it.

Of course, once I had done that, and set aside the minifigs (and a few other bits) that I wanted to keep out, I had to figure out where exactly to put them. Baby Girl is not above finding every little Lego bit I have out somewhere and completely taking it apart when I am not looking. Then I find her, or she brings the pieces to me, and she looks so dang proud of herself. Sigh. So, yeah. Had to find a safe place to display them. In an ideal world, I would have a curio cabinet specifically for Legos (and you know, really, I'm not joking, if I can figure out where I would put it, and find one I like, that is happening one of these days). Sadly, I have no such thing. In the end, I settled for the china cabinet. The doors are tricky enough (and high enough) that Baby Girl can't work them yet.

So in addition to my random teapots, teacups, and a few other things, my china cabinet now boasts a small display of Star Wars Legos.

Even got 'em divided by alignment.

Bad Guys: mini TIE Fighter, TIE Pilot, Nute Gunray, an Imperial mouse droid, and a Separatist battle droid.

Good Guys: Chewy, mini Millennium Falcon, Clone Trooper, X-Wing, Wedge X-Wing Pilot, and an astromech droid.

I mean, they're not that out of place, right? I think they go quite nicely with the Mega Blocks dragons lining the top of the cabinet, really.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Grand Experiment

I know I have been a little bit quiet about Star Wars The Old Republic (SWTOR) of late. I have been playing it for just over a month now, and it has been something of a roller coaster of an experience. Overall, I have to say that I actually really dig the game itself, and I am very curious about how the story will play out.


I have come to realize I am not in it for the long haul. SWTOR is my first experience with a massively multiplayer online game (MMO). Even though I tried to ignore that quiet little voice in the back of my mind as I followed the game's development and then tried the beta and then started the game proper, I have always known that there was a chance I just wouldn't turn out to be an MMO kind of girl. I think I thought if I hoped hard enough, I would be able to enjoy that aspect of the game, or that I would be pleasantly surprised to discover I really actually enjoyed it. Sadly, I don't.

As I said, I really do dig this game. If it was a single-player game it would have skyrocketed right up to my top three favorite games of all time, beating out Mass Effect to take its place with Dragon Age and Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy. The gameplay is pretty solid. Some of my initial concerns from the beta quickly started to make sense once I got the hang of how all of the pieces fit together. The story is amazing, the voice cast is incredible, and the setting is, of course, perfectly Star Wars. Hell, I even actually enjoy the space combat missions. That came as an incredible surprise, let me tell you. I normally loathe the driving/flying portions I am forced to endure in any RPG. 

My ship, the Defender, is pretty snazzy too. Not quite the Normandy but no small shakes.

I think it is safe to say that everything I don't like about this game can directly be attributed to it being an MMO. Now, if I had a regular guild of people I know, in real life, who had a gaming schedule that coincided with mine, that I could go through the game with together? I might not dislike the multiplayer aspect so much. Then again, it might still drive me nuts, there's no telling. In an matter, I don't have such a group. More often than not if I want to do a heroic area quest (I have already given up on flashpoints), I have to send out a message in general chat to see if anyone is up for joining me. This is, quite literally, a crapshoot. Occasionally, I'll find myself in a group that turns out to be a lot of fun, we work well together and get a little bit of nice chat in the process. Usually, I end up with a disjointed group of people and for some reason we can't seem to coordinate our attacks. Sometimes we try to remedy this using chat and can't because they keep using traditional MMO shortcut speak and I have no idea what they are saying to me. Bleah. It is also not uncommon that I'll be ready to do a heroic area and there are no biters at all. I find it incredibly frustrating.

But the heroics are optional, more or less, and I could get by without dealing with that. Yesterday I looked at my quest list, and the closest quest to my position was a heroic. I thought about sending out a message to see if anyone was up for it, thought about it some more, and then just removed the quest from my list. I instantly felt better about the game. I can't avoid other players completely though. I can't even tell you how many times I've arrived in an area to do a solo quest and three other people got there right before I did, meaning my objective enemy or item is already dead/used and I have to stand around waiting for respawns. Sometimes I'll be in the middle of fighting an enemy blocking my objective, and another player will just run up, use the objective, and run off. Or players will stand around in the middle of an area I need to be doing something in, totally in my way. So there's that. Occasionally it works out to my advantage, in that someone will be trying to tackle the same boss I need to get and will see me and invite me to group with them, and then we both have an easier fight. But that is pretty rare, most of the people are either jerks or just oblivious to everyone else. 

Also, this game just feels like work to me a lot of the time. I now completely understand the term "grinding." There is so much to do, and there are so many quests, that I also don't really feel like I have the luxury of just exploring the worlds. I keep fearing I will fall behind. I mean, right now I am level 32 and I have only received two of my five companions (one of which is a droid and as cool as he is, he isn't much in the way of a conversationalist), and I haven't even finished Act One of the game. Also, I looked up my one potential love interest, and he has a seventies porn 'stache. Not cool. I get that it has to be a broader story and that it is designed to be played for, well, years, not weeks. But that just makes it feel like a never ending slog when I stop to think about it. When a game doesn't feel like fun anymore, I don't really see the point in continuing to play it.

So, my hope that I would end up loving this game despite (maybe even because of) the fact that it is an MMO has turned out to be in vain. This makes me a bit sad, I'll admit. Like I said, I am really curious about the endgame and the outcome of the story. I don't think I'm gonna get to find out how that plays out. I'm going to continue playing this game (on the days when it feels like fun and not work) for at least another month. The demo for Mass Effect 3 drops on Valentine's Day, and I am going to take a break to play that. Then, I will either renew my account for one more month and get as far as I can before ME3's March 6 release date, or I am going to cancel it then and finish my two active Dragon Age games while I wait for my new game to release. But until then I am going to get as far as I can in the story and try to forget that there are other players unless I really feel like doing a heroic area or unless my friend is online and on the same planet as me. (Though, by "forgetting" the other players, I do not mean to say that I will be a discourteous player.)

Now let me say for the record: this is not meant to be a complaint-fest. I do think SWTOR is a really awesome game. Also, from what I can tell, it is a really awesome MMO. The complaints I have seen about that aspect of it (largely in comparison to World of Warcraft) are almost all about things that Bioware has flat out said that they are working on addressing/fixing/updating in future game patches. It's just that I, personally, am, as it turns out, really not cut out to play an MMO. It doesn't fit my gaming style or my life right now. Maybe one day that will change. I am not sure I could bring myself to cancel my account if it meant deleting my character entirely, which thankfully it doesn't.

To end on a positive note, here are some of the things about the game I have found amusing of late:

Nar Shaddaa seems to have an abundance of TARDISes. Tell me that's not a Timelord transportation device, I dare you.
Someone at Bioware must be a fan of the Doctor, is all I'm saying.

That's my companion Kira and her wonderfully ridiculous hat that she picked up on Tatooine. I love this hat. I am never
letting her take it off. EVER. 
Alderaan has flying fish (upper right-hand corner) all over the place. This one is wearing a saddle, suggesting that on
Alderaan, people ride their flying fish. How is that not awesome?

Despite a lot of griping I have seen on various places in the internet, I also do not feel that this game tramples all over the canon of either of the Knights of the Old Republic games. I have really been digging the random references to the other game that I have come across. I feel like, yeah, it's been a few hundred years, and stuff has changed, but that doesn't mean that the events of the other games didn't happen.

Also, there is a whole set of gear called Mabari. Mabaris are the breed of hounds from Dragon Age. Picking up some Mabari loot never ceases to make me smile (even if I have yet to find any I can/would wear). 

So it's not all bad. It really isn't. It's just not me


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

SGA Rewatch: Tao of Rodney

Hello! Welcome to the Stargate Atlantis Rewatch! Today we will be discussing season three's "Tao of Rodney." Spoilers abound!

What Happened

While the Ancients were in charge of Atlantis for that brief period of time, they turned on a lot of lights and systems and machines throughout the city. They didn't exactly have time to turn any of that stuff off before they were killed by the Asurans, so now that the city only has one ZPM, someone needs to go find all of that stuff and turn it off to conserve power. Rodney and Radek are leading a team of scientists doing just that as the episode opens. They find a lab that has been left up an running and Rodney, showing off for a cute scientist, steps right on up to the central machine and fires up the console. Ostensibly this is so that he can figure out what it is and how to turn it off, but Radek tries to advise him to be more cautious. Rodney ignores the urging of his colleague, however, and he does something to the console that causes him to be surrounded by a pulse of energy. The energy dissipates and the entire lab goes dark.

In the infirmary, Carson has run pretty much every test he can think of on Rodney. He declares that he can't find anything out of the ordinary about Rodney. The device had no apparent harmful effects. Rodney is not so sure and his hypochondria kicks in to overdrive, but Carson goes ahead and clears him for active duty anyway. John offers to stay with Rodney in case anything happens. Accompanied by Radek, they return to the lab to (much more cautiously) see if they can't figure out exactly what the device was for and what happened to Rodney.

Later that day Rodney is eating lunch in the mess. His plate is piled with food and the remnants of what he has already shoveled down. As he continues to plow through the oversized meal, he hears his teammates discussing his eating habits in hushed tones from somewhere behind him. They are a little concerned about how much he is eating and wondering what the deal is. Rodney spins around to snap at them that he can hear them talking about him, only to be surprised to find that they are all the way on the other side of the mess. He gets up from the table, reaching for his datapad without looking, and therefore without noticing that it actually slides right into his hand seemingly of its own volition. Rodney goes to the rest of the team and lets them know he doesn't appreciate their speculation, but before they can get into it, the team is called to the control room.

They arrive to find that Major Lorne has dialed in from off-world requesting backup. His team is under attack and pinned down, unable to get to the gate. The team heads for the jumper bay, John calling for a team of marines to meet them, and they head out to rescue Lorne's team.

While she is waiting on their return, Elizabeth is called down to the Ancient lab by Radek. He tells her he has managed to get power to the device's research logs. Before he reports his findings, however, he would like her to take a second look at them to confirm his translation is correct. From what they can read, the machine seems to have been developed to manipulate human DNA. Elizabeth and Radek exchange worried glances, realizing that Rodney might not be as okay as he had first seemed after the encounter with the device. Elizabeth gets a call from the control room informing her that the rescue team has returned. She and Radek run to the jumper bay to meet them and to check on Rodney.

They arrive at the same time as Carson and a medical team. The jumper door opens and we can hear John and Rodney squabbling about something. Carson demands to know who needs medical attention and Lorne says nobody. He says they are all fine and unhurt, thanks to (his voice switches into sarcastic mode) Rodney. Everyone looks at Rodney for an explanation. He tells them that when the rescue team arrived, they saw Lorne's team surrounded by enemies all preparing to fire. He thought to himself wouldn't it be good if their weapons all jammed--and they did. No one really believes that he caused that to happen but disgruntled he decides to demonstrate. He gestures and Carson rises up in the air unsupported.

Back in the infirmary, everyone has accepted that Rodney has developed some new abilities. Carson asks him if he has noticed anything other than telekinesis and he mentions his improved hearing and says he thinks he is getting smarter as well. A nurse arrives with a huge tray of food and John points out he also seems to have a "super" appetite now. Radek and Elizabeth share their findings about the machine. They suspect that the Ancients were trying to artificially accelerate their evolution in order to give themselves the abilities that were often developed on the path to ascension. Rodney is super excited about it, but Carson, Elizabeth, and Radek are not so sure. Elizabeth and Radek get back to studying the machine to see if they can learn more. John, realizing the potential of such a device, starts badgering Elizabeth to let him be next (assuming they can prove it is safe, of course). Radek pipes up he wouldn't mind trying it either and Elizabeth just rolls her eyes at both of them and gets back to work.

Carson decides to release Rodney to his normal duties despite reservations about his current condition. He does require that Rodney remain under supervision, and assigns Ronon to keep an eye on him. As they are walking down the corridor, they pass the cute scientist Rodney had been trying to impress earlier. Rodney thinks he hears her say he's hot, only to realize she meant Ronon, only to realize she hadn't actually said anything out loud. The scientist scurries off, embarrassed, and Rodney realizes he is able to read minds now. He goes to Elizabeth's office and tells her he wants to use the city's control chair. He thinks his heightened intelligence will allow him to improve the power distribution of the city's systems. He has this whole conversation with Elizabeth and Ronon without either of them saying anything out loud, he just reads their answers in their minds and then responds before they can actually open their mouths.

Rodney gets to work in the control chair, with Ronon and a team of scientists overseeing him. Whatever he is doing is causing lights to flicker and power to fluctuate throughout the city, though one of the scientists admits it does seem to be making improvements overall. One of the areas affected is the lab with the Ancient device, where power is pretty much shut down, delaying Radek's own research into the machine's purpose and effects. Elizabeth had managed to download some of the research logs, however, and continues to read through them. She and Radek had originally thought the Ancients had built the machine to help them fight the wraith, the added abilities would give them a definite advantage. But further research shows they actually meant for it to accelerate the entire process of ascension, leading to ascension itself, and an escape from the wraith, not defense against them. It also doesn't work properly, the results the Ancients experienced were varied and more subjects died than ascended. She and Radek go to speak to Rodney.

Elizabeth tells (well, thinks, and Rodney hears) him that his body will continue to evolve until it reaches the point where it will no longer be able to support his increased brain functions. At that point, he will need to ascend or he will die. But it isn't just a physical process, there is a mental component to it that Rodney must undergo as well, and he doesn't know how to do that part. Rodney is so freaked out by this news that he stops working on his project in the chair in the middle of a process. The abrupt stop causes power surges throughout the city. Radek, on his way to the control room, is caught in one of these surges and seriously injured. He is rushed to the infirmary and the doctors are trying to keep him alive when Rodney arrives. He steps forward and heals Radek--another ability has emerged. Everyone looks at him in wonder as he just looks at Radek in shame and then flees the room.

Elizabeth goes to talk to him about his situation and finds him in his lab surrounded by whiteboards and computers all full of equations. He tells her he has been very busy--even invented a new kind of math. She is impressed but brings the conversation back on topic. He says he tried to fix the machine but it just wasn't designed to reverse the process. Since he doesn't know how to achieve the mental portion of ascension, he has just decided to get as much done as he can before he dies. Elizabeth asks him to consider trying to ascend anyway, but he admits he never really saw the point of it, doesn't think he is cut out for it. She mentions that if he did manage to ascend, he could always descend afterward and resume mortal form. Rodney looks at her in wonder, not having considered that option.

Rodney retrieves an Ancient device and goes to the infirmary to have Carson hook him up. The device was meant to monitor how evolved a person's brain it. From their research, they know that ascension can only occur when a person's brain frequencies are at a certain very low level (a level associated with coma patients). They also know that his body can only survive until his synaptic activity reaches about 96% and right now it is at around 60%. Carson hooks Rodney up to the machine and they see that his frequency is way too high for ascension. He tries calming down, clearing his mind, but it doesn't do any good. Carson points out that Rodney keeps trying to approach it through science, as if it is just a simple process with specific tests. But the Ancients who ascended spent most of their lives dedicated to reaching that goal.

Elizabeth speaks with John about the situation. She thinks that maybe when he spent all of that time in the sanctuary designed to allow people to seek ascension he might have picked up some pointers on the mental aspect of the process. She thinks maybe he can help Rodney out. He sits down with Rodney and tries to talk him through meditating, but it isn't very successful. John admits he wasn't very good at it himself. For his part, Rodney is having a very hard time clearing his mind. Every time he does, he keeps thinking of a new scientific proof or realizing the answer to some great scientific question. After a while, he gives up on trying to ascend. He says he is just not cut out for it and decides to dedicate the rest of the time he has left to advancing science as much as possible. Elizabeth once more goes to speak to him, urging him not to give up. She says that she thinks the reason a lot of attempts at ascension fail is that the person attempting it maybe thinks he isn't actually worthy of doing so. She asks Rodney to reflect on any reasons he might feel himself unworthy and then think of a way to ease his guilt, or release his burden.

Rodney reflects for a bit and then begins going to his friends to try to make amends for his faults. He goes to Radek and tells him that he is a brilliant scientist and a good person who doesn't deserve all of the crap he has put up with from Rodney. Rodney apologizes for the way he has treated Radek and says he has been fortunate to work with him. He then goes to Teyla and says he has learned that the anniversary of her father's death approaches. He spoke with Halling and learned that there is a memorial tea ceremony that the Athosians perform on such an occasion and asks if he might share it with her, showing great respect for her culture and customs, which he has always kind of disdained. He goes to Ronon and asks about the scars on his back from his failed attempts to remove the wraith tracking device. He asks if they are a badge of honor or just a painful reminder of something Ronon would really rather forget. Ronon is quiet for a moment and answers that he tries not to let things he can't change get to him. Rodney hugs him and then says he hopes Ronon doesn't mind, but he healed the scars for him. For Elizabeth, he writes a book (500 pages!) detailing all of the good she has done as leader of the expedition, since he knows she gets a lot of flak about her decisions from the people back on Earth. He wanted her to know she is appreciated.

After making peace with all of the people Rodney feels he has wronged, he meets up with John and attempts meditation once more. His brain frequencies have dropped significantly, but he is still nowhere near ascension levels. He shakes his head and declares his situation hopeless. He asks if John will deliver his eulogy. John doesn't want to entertain such thoughts, but Rodney persists. He tells him what kind of funeral he wants and also that he thinks Carson should do a full autopsy on him. John is at a loss for how to respond to this when Rodney suddenly collapses.

Rodney is moved to the infirmary and Carson tells him his synaptic activity has climbed to 90%. He doesn't have much time left. His friends have gathered round him and John asks him to meditate one more time. Rodney agrees. He tries to clear his mind and let go of everything holding himself to the physical world. He loses consciousness and his brain frequencies start dropping. Suddenly, he sits up and grabs Carson, staring at him intently before passing out again and flatlining. Carson immediately calls for a ventilator and Elizabeth reminds him that Rodney ordered no extraordinary measures. Carson says she doesn't understand. In that last moment, Rodney told Carson how to save him.

They rush him to the lab with the Ancient machine and lay him on the pedestal. Carson activates the machine and Rodney is once more surrounded by the energy pulse. After it subsides he sits up and seems to be fine. He tries to read everyone's thought and move something with his mind and is relieved that he can't. He is back to his old self. He explains that he was just drifting in a void when he realized the answer--the machine couldn't reverse the process because it didn't have his original DNA to compare to the evolved DNA. Carson keeps blood samples of everyone on the expedition as a baseline in case of disease or mutation, and once he introduced that to the machine, it was able to repair Rodney to his original state.

Afterwards, Rodney is back in his lab trying to make sense of the work he did while in his heightened state. Elizabeth stops by and he admits that he can't understand any of the new math he created. She comforts him by showing him his last EEG reading from his final meditation. His frequencies were right in the ascension zone. He could have done it if he hadn't decided to tell Carson how to use the machine to save himself. He is smug that he wasn't so hopeless after all. He teases Elizabeth a little for telling him she loved him when he was dying. She tries to defend herself in that she clearly meant it in a friend/family kind of way and was talking about the group as a whole. He knows it is the case but is having fun giving her a hard time about it. He asks if she has eaten and she agrees to keep him company while he goes to get lunch.


Again, the Ancients? Kind of jerks. They created a species that was an absolute menace to an entire galaxy and instead of trying to figure out a way to fight them, they just decided to try to accelerate their own escape process. Yeesh. Although this episode does give us a fascinating insight into the process of ascension, the supposed science of it as well as the more spiritual side.

I love that Rodney was very much Rodney throughout the whole ordeal, and the way his friends rallied around him. I especially loved his attempts to make amends with everyone by trying to show respect for the aspects of them that he usually treats with disdain or disregard. It shows that he does actually understand who they are as people, even if he doesn't always act as if that is the case. I also very much like that there is no scene of him trying to make amends with John. To me that shows that those two are close enough already that they know where they stand with each other. It is a bromance of epic proportions.

Although the whole "release your burden" plotline had all of the John/Rodney shippers (yes, it is actually a pretty prevalent group) in fandom giggling like twelve-year olds. Not gonna pretend I wasn't immune to that either.

Overall a very good episode with some amazing acting from everyone involved. Rodney-centric episodes always seem to shine the brightest to me. I don't know if that's because he's my favorite character or if it is because the writers seem to have so much fun writing for him, or some combination thereof. Either way, this is a good entry. It doesn't really do much to add to the overall story of the season, but it does make good use of everything that has happened up to this point. It also shows a nice little slice of the daily life and perils of the inhabitants of Atlantis.

Favorite Quotes

"Rodney?" (Elizabeth)
"Believe me, I find this as disturbing as you do." (Rodney)
"Like bloody hell you do!" (Carson)

"Does super-ego count as a power?" (John)

"Anyway, it's not like you...or these guys could stop me from leaving anyways." (Rodney)
"No, but I could." (Ronon)
"Oh, you care to put that to a test?" (Rodney)
"Do you?" (Ronon)
"Well...no, not really." (Rodney)

"She wants you to shoot me if you think for even one second that I might be trying to take over the city for my own evil purposes." (Rodney)

"Look, you're teaching me how to meditate. Not exactly good odds there to start with." (Rodney)
"I realize that." (John)

"Now, is Sheppard still bugging you to let him use the ascension device to turn himself into some kind of a superhero?" (Rodney)
"Oh yes." (Elizabeth)
"Despite the fact that the Ancient database states that its effects on people are wildly unpredictable and that I'm just lucky I wasn't instantly melted down into a pool of protoplasm." (Rodney)
"Yes." (Elizabeth)
"Yes, well. Maybe you should let him." (Rodney)
"I think not." (Elizabeth)


That's all for today folks! See you back here on Monday when we continue the journey through season three. Next up, "The Game."

P.S. In not entirely unrelated news, yesterday this piece of fan fiction, by Live Journal user Bitter_Crimson, came to my attention. It tells tells the tale of a romance between John and Rodney, if they were Girl Scout Cookies. In pictures. It is pure crack, but amusing crack. Some strong language and, um, well, cookie sex, so be warned. But very, very silly and funny. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

One Down!

Kicking off 2012 with a bang, I am already done with my first blanket of the year, huzzah! I finished it up this past weekend. Here, take a gander:

Earthstar by Cori 2012.

Pattern: Granny's Ripple by Jean M. Roush (available in Blue Ribbon Afghans From America's State Fairs: 40 Prize-Winning Crocheted Designs)
Yarn: Red Heart Super Saver in Aran (one skein), Buff (two skeins), and Cafe (two skeins)
Hook: US N (9.0 mm)

As I mentioned before, I really do like the construction of this blanket. It starts out with nine small granny squares, but you attach them as you make them, so there's no sewing together of squares. Then the body of the blanket is worked in the round after that. It's spiffy. Here's a closer look at the center detail.

The border is a series of small (one-round) granny squares, again attached as they are made, and then a row of single crochet around the granny squares. Here's a detail on that for you.

All of the rows done in the round are done in the back loop only, which gives it that cool ripple effect (hence the name). I have to say, I really love this pattern. I could see easily scaling it down for a tighter weave too by simply using a smaller hook and adjusting the number of rows and border granny squares. This one is really light and open and came out to be about six feet across at its widest spot. Should make a very cozy blanket for curling up on the couch.

Now, this is the second blanket I have made using a pattern out of the Blue Ribbon Afghans book, and I do have to register one small complaint. For some unfathomable reason, when listing the required supplies to make each pattern, they only specify the weight of yarn (sport, worsted, etc.) and the number of ounces. No brand name is given, nor the yardage. This is driving me nuts! If you are not going to give me the yardage (which gives you a much more accurate idea of how much yarn to buy), at least tell me what brand the creator used so that I can look up the yardage/ounces ratio and make an educated guess when purchasing my own yarn. I mean, yes, I still highly recommend this book if you are looking for some awesome crochet blanket patterns to add to your library. But I do want to make you aware of this eccentricity at least. Maybe this doesn't mess with other people as much, but it is throwing me off. For instance, when I made this blanket, I ended up needing to buy three extra skeins of yarn despite checking my gauge faithfully. I also know I didn't get in as many pattern repeats as the instructions called for. Now, with this second blanket, I followed the ounce requirements given, and this is what I had left over after finishing the blanket:

For those counting at home, that's four full skeins (28 ounces), and three remnants. That's a lot of leftover yarn. I'm not complaining too much about that though, I am sure it will all come in handy eventually. I actually think I already have a project in mind for at least some of it. So there's that. Still. Weird.

Anyhoo. Still working on the scarf (of course), and then I've got two little quickie projects I am hoping I can get done this coming weekend before I jump into blanket number two. I am enjoying the forward momentum. Fingers crossed that I can keep it going.

Monday, January 23, 2012

SGA Rewatch: Irresponsible

Welcome to the Stargate Atlantis Rewatch! Today we see the return of some familiar faces in season three's "Irresponsible." Spoilers for the episode and those that came before it.

What Happened

Teyla has heard rumors from some of her fellow Athosians of a "hero" on a planet they have been trading with. The hero has shown great strength and courage and has stood up to the wraith and won on several occasions, supposedly. The team goes to the planet to check it out and see if they might recruit the hero as an ally against the wraith. As they walk into the village from the gate, the team discuss their own personal heroes. John's was Evel Knievel, Rodney's Batman, Carson's a Scottish legend, and Ronon's a Satedan warrior. They arrive in the village and are greeted warmly. They ask about the hero and the villager confirms such a person exists, gladly volunteering to show the team to him. They are led to a square where townsfolk are gathered around, being regaled with tales by none other than Lucius Lavin.

Lucius welcomes the team enthusiastically and invites them to join the group. They sit down and listen to him continue his stories, which are recognizably the adventures of the team themselves, not Lucius' own deeds. During this, Carson draws some of his blood to test it to make sure he's not using his drug again. The town is clearly under his sway. He promises he is clean, and after the crowd has dispersed explains that he managed to foil a group of raiders who had attacked the town some time back. He beat them up and ran them out of town, and since then the villagers have lauded him as their protector and hero. The team is skeptical, he isn't really the fighting type. He reveals that he has an Ancient shield device. He actually had it already when he first met the team but didn't know what it was until after his time in Atlantis. Once he realized what he had, he just needed to find someone with the gene to activate it for him and has been using it since then. John points out that the devices aren't fallible and do eventually run out of juice but Lucius dismisses the comment out of hand. He hits on the waitress in the tavern as she passes and she scoffs at him, pointing out that his heroic act was "ages" ago. It is clear some of his shine is starting to wear off in the village.

John and the team decide to leave. They have found what they are looking for and Lucius isn't exactly what they need in an ally against the wraith. Ronon is hesitant to leave with the village under Lucius' sway but John says they can have the Athosians keep an eye on things and let them know if Lucius gets out of control again. As they pass through the town, a group of armed men enter the square, declaring they want to challenge the hero. The team draw their weapons but the square is full of civilians and they do not wish to risk harming any innocents by starting a firefight. They acquiesce to the raiders' demands to lower their weapons and surrender. The leader starts calling out, wanting to know where the town's supposed "hero" has gotten to, and Lucius steps into the square, proclaiming himself. The men attack him but he takes it in stride thanks to his shield, beating them down and then telling them to get out of town. Defeated, they leave.

Lucius and much of the village, as well as the team, repair to the tavern where the town again begins to laud Lucius for saving them. The waitress from earlier no longer spurns his advances. John and the team are clearly disgusted by the whole display and once more decide to take their leave. Once they are gone, Lucius tells the villagers he wants to take a walk and he sneaks off to a clearing outside of town. There he meets up with the raiders who had attacked the village and it is revealed that he actually hired them to attack so as to bolster his reputation. He gives them their pay and the leader is very unhappy, saying it is less than the agreed upon amount. Lucius tells him to take it or leave it and the raider is very angry. He retorts that they were once elite Genii soldiers, the personal guard to Cowen himself, and they deserve better treatment. Lucius is unimpressed and he leaves. As he does, the camera pans to some trees, in which we see the team hiding. They witnessed the whole exchange.

Lucius returns to town and is walking through the village when John returns with the raiders in tow. He tells the town that it was all a ruse and Lucius has been deceiving them. The town refuses to believe John however, even with the raider's confession. They believe that John is just ashamed that he surrendered and Lucius was the one to save him. All riled up, the town starts to close in on the team, angry at their attempt to tarnish their hero. Lucius calls them off and takes the team into his house. He seems unperturbed at John's attempt to reveal the truth. The team tell Lucius he needs to stop deceiving the villagers but he is unrepentant. As they are discussing the matter the sounds of gunshots and screams come to them from outside. John looks out the window and sees uniformed Genii, led by none other than Kolya, searching through the village. He overhears Kolya barking orders to find him and realizes that Kolya, somehow knowing that the team is in the village, has come for revenge.

Lucius knows all about Kolya from the reports he read in Atlantis and from dealing with the Genii outcasts. He says he can go get rid of Kolya and his men easily, reminding the team that he can't be hurt. Teyla and the others point out that this time it is not just an act. Kolya might not be able to hurt Lucius, but that won't stop him from burning down the rest of the town and killing everyone in it just to get what he wants. John and Ronon want to go out and confront the Genii but Teyla talks them down. She points out, with Carson's agreement, that they cannot risk any of the villagers getting hurt because of them. She believes that if Kolya and his men search the town and do not find the team, they will leave without harming anyone. Lucius says he can help with that and shows them a secret room. John reluctantly agrees to hide until Kolya has finished searching, but he makes Lucius promise not to mess with Kolya. No heroics, no unnecessary risks. Lucius agrees.

Lucius goes outside and confronts Kolya. He says that the village is under his protection and orders Kolya and his men to leave. Kolya is not impressed, even when Lucius' "invincibility" is revealed. Instead of trying to beat or shoot the man, he just has one of his soldiers hold Lucius' head under water until he is willing to talk. The shield can't protect against suffocation. The leader of the raiders appear and Lucius realizes that he is the one who led Kolya to the village. The raider says he knew what Kolya had been looking for John. Obviously he saw an opportunity to get back in good graces with a powerful Genii and seized it. After some more "persuasion," Lucius caves and tells Kolya about the hiding place in his house. Kolya sends his men to retrieve the team but they aren't there. We see that they are hiding in another part of the house. They expected Lucius would give up their location and moved. John says now that they've bought some time they need to sneak out of the village and set up an ambush on the way back to the gate. Somewhere they can deal with Kolya without risking harm to innocents.

When Kolya learns that the team is not where Lucius said they were, he says he wonders if Lucius' shield can save him from being buried alive. Lucius tries to barter for his life. He tries to persuade Kolya that he would be good bait, that he and John are very close and John would of course come to rescue him. Kolya is skeptical but Lucius persists, saying he knows the whole team and Elizabeth very well. Kolya asks how this is and Lucius reveals he spent some time on Atlantis. Kolya's interest is piqued. He takes Lucius to the tavern and orders Lucius to tell him everything he knows about Atlantis. Once Lucius has told everything he knows, Kolya says he has served his purpose. He says he is very tired and wants to go rest before the funeral in the morning, he still intends to bury Lucius alive. He and his men leave.

Once Lucius is alone, John sneaks into the room. John says that Kolya had all of the exits out of town covered by his men and they had heard the rumor of Lucius' impending doom. He bends down to untie Lucius from the chair and sees that Kolya has left behind a present--a lit bundle of dynamite. Knowing that the shield will keep Lucius safe from the blast, John boogies out of there just before the building blows up. He narrowly avoids capture by Kolya's men. The rest of the team is not so lucky, however. Leaving Lucius alone had only been a ruse, and as the rest of the team cautiously moves to investigate the blast, they are all captured. Lucius emerges from the rubble of the tavern and Kolya tells him he has done his part and so gets to live another day. He is disappointed that John was not caught, however.

Kolya decides to use the rest of the team as bait for John and has them locked in the village's jail. One of the villagers brings them food and reveals that Lucius has also disappeared. He believes John and Lucius are no doubt already conspiring to save the town from Kolya's evil clutches. The team tries to convince the young man that Lucius is not the hero he thinks he is. They tell him that if he expects the village to be saved, the villagers themselves are going to have to stand up to Kolya. The young man tells them that they are not capable of such a thing and the team promises that they will help, explaining that they have only held back so far because they didn't want to risk any villagers getting hurt. They ask him to let them out. He is not persuaded and tells them they are better off just waiting for Lucius to return before leaving the team in their cell.

Kolya stops by to gloat. He reveals that the whole ambush has just been about getting to kill John. He also assures the team that he does not mean to kill them. Instead, he will barter them back to Elizabeth in exchange for some weapons and ammunition. He thinks it will not be such an ambitious demand that she will turn it down this time. He commandeers one of the team's radios and calls John. He tells John that there is no way for him to get to the gate and call for help and tells him to just come back to the village so they can face each other. Otherwise, he is going to start killing the team.

John, who has just reached the gate, realizes the truth in Kolya's claim. Lucius is with him, having decided to make a run for it after the whole explosion thing. He swore to John that he had no idea about the bomb and that Kolya used him, he just wants help getting off the planet. When John agrees to go back and face Kolya, however, Lucius swallows his fear and decides to go too. On the way back, Lucius throws out several zany and implausible ideas on how they can get the better of Kolya. John rejects them in turn and then tells Lucius he has an idea of his own.

A group of villagers has gathered in Lucius' house, hoping he will return to save them. Lucius enters and finds him. When they ask if he is there to save them, he tells them they need to save themselves. He manages to convince them that they can't always just wait around for a hero (namely, him) to save the day. In order to get rid of the Genii, they are all going to have to work together on this one. They are reluctant at first but then agree (led by the waitress, who is very enthusiastic about not needing a hero, much to Lucius' chagrin). Lucius starts getting their resistance organized.

Kolya begins to get impatient waiting for John. He has the team taken from their cell to the square. He is just about to kill Rodney when John arrives. Kolya doesn't hesitate at all when John shows up, just orders his men to open fire. They do, but the hail of gunfire does no damage, John is wearing Lucius' shield. Kolya glares at John, who begins to gloat, but just then the shield fizzles out, having been depleted at last. Kolya smiles and orders his men to reload, but before they can the villagers flood into the square armed with shovels and hoes and other implements, surrounding Kolya's men. John asks Koyla if there is any point in asking him to surrender. Kolya just smirks at him. Both men reach for their guns but John is faster, drawing and firing before Kolya can get a shot off, killing Kolya.

In the aftermath, the town begins to celebrate, relieved at having overcome their ordeal. The team declines to join the celebrations, saying that they are already overdue to return to Atlantis. As they leave, Lucius asks John for the shield back, and John hands it over without complaint. After they leave Rodney says he thought the shield was depleted, and John answers that it was. He says he's sure Lucius will figure that out soon enough.


Well, clearly Lucius had enough taste of being worshiped when he had his drug that he couldn't go back to being normal again. At least this time people were deciding to follow him out of their own free will (as misguided as it might have been). That guy is a piece of work.

I still think this was kind of a waste of a way for Kolya to go out. He was such an amazing archnemesis for John. Sigh. Bye, bye, Kolya. Still, I get it. At this point, the Genii are supposed to be allies of Atlantis, and having Kolya out there muddies the waters on that front just a bit too much I suppose. Still. Man, it just felt so anticlimactic. Oh well.

I did love Ronon's conviction that the "hero" must be one of his people from the descriptions of the battle prowess. Also, Teyla's confusion about Evel Knievel was also amusing.

I'm still not really sure why Carson was with them in the first place, but I guess it was handy to have him there to run blood tests, eh?

I'm not sure what purpose this episode really serves in the overall narrative. It's amusing, but other than closing the page on Kolya, and reminding us that for some reason Lucius is still being allowed to run around with all that knowledge about Atlantis, it doesn't really further the story of the season or series very much. *shrug* Oh well, there are always gonna be a few episodes in any series that feel out of place I guess.

Favorite Quotes

"See? Invincible. I can't be vinced." (Lucius)

"You did an awful lot of 'perusing' while you were on the base." (Rodney)
"I peruse. It's a gift." (Lucius)

"Hey, you're trying to figure out a way to hurt me, aren't you?" (Lucius)
"Yep." (Ronon)

"Is that the best you can do?" (Lucius)
"As a matter of fact, no, it isn't." (Kolya)

"I have to give Colonel Sheppard credit. No opponent's ever caused me this much trouble. Unfortunately, I'm going to have to kill him." (Kolya)
"That's funny. He says the same thing about you." (Rodney)
"Really? I'm flattered." (Kolya)


That's all I've got for you today folks. See you back here Wednesday for an episode about which I am much more enthusiastic, "Tao of Rodney."

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Zoo! In January!

When my husband first got me a membership to our zoo, the lovely Fort Worth Zoo, it was a Christmas present, but it was kind of delayed a little so I ended up activating it in January. This means I usually make a trip to our zoo in January each year to pick up my new membership card. Now, they changed the way they do their cards sometime last year, so I actually didn't have to go pick up a new card this year. Still, I had already planned a trip over there with the kiddo when I learned this, so I went anyway, just because it was a nice day and I hadn't been in a while.

Those of you who live around these parts will already know that it usually happens that we have a handful of incredibly nice sunny mild (sometimes warm, even) days in January. These usually occur right before we get that end of January/start of February super cold freeze accompanied by the once yearly (what passes for) snowfall in these parts. This past Tuesday was one of those nice days. It was sunny and clear, and it was a little brisk, but nothing that walking around the zoo couldn't shake off. So the kiddo and I enjoyed a nice little visit with some of the animals. We didn't check out the whole zoo, we just hit up the Museum of Living Art (MOLA), which is the really awesome redone herpetarium, as well as stopping by the penguin house. We did stop by the zebra pen on the way to let Baby Girl count the zebras like she does in her book.

That in itself was really kind of incredible. Barring the aquarium exhibits, she has usually pretty much ignored all of the animals on previous zoo trips. This time, however she was really engaged whenever we stopped to look at something, and she gave much more attention to the animals in the aquarium exhibits as well. I can't wait for spring to roll around so we can actually spend more time at the zoo. It's going to be so much fun watching her discover all of those marvelous creatures!

They have these little statues all over the zoo. I love them! Poor Baby Girl is going to hate them by the time she's six, because she will never not go to the zoo with me and be forced to be photographed with one.

Here she is checking out the fish on the other side of the aquarium, totally oblivious to that turtle by her feet.

Of course, it was pretty darn cool when she did notice him.

After which she had to make friends.

MOLA houses many, many turtles. She had fun trying to race these guys back and forth for a bit.

She wanted to be sure I saw the penguins too.

She also enjoyed hanging out with this little guy for a bit.

Before we went to the zoo, I took Baby Girl out to lunch, just the two of us. She ate all of her fruit and then went on to totally eschew her chicken fingers in favor of my chicken enchilada soup. She is getting nicer and nicer to eat out with all of the time. While we were enjoying lunch, and knowing we were heading to the zoo next, I decided that I would like to declare Tuesdays "Adventure Day" from now on. It's a day where we usually don't have too much to do in the way of chores and errands. Rather than sitting on my butt in front of the television while she runs around the house like a lunatic, I think I would like to get out of the house for a while. Go to lunch (or maybe pack a picnic) and then wander around this fair city's lovely attractions. On nice days there will always be the zoo, the park, or the botanical gardens. We also have a ton of museums around here, and I think she's getting to the age where she can really start to appreciate these kinds of things. It will be good for both of us. I'm kind of looking forward to it.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Every once in a while, I look at my iTunes library and am amazed at the vast and random assortment of music I have managed to collect to date. Right now, my library is sitting at 8,616 songs.* That's twenty-four days worth of auditory goodness, y'all.

Because my music has been on my mind, I thought that just for kicks and giggles, I'd share a little slice of my strange tastes with you. I pulled up the DJ function in my iTunes and refreshed it. Here are the the first ten** tracks that popped up.

"Landslide" (as performed by the cast of Glee)
"A Little More Country Than That" by Easton Corbin
"Just Remember" by Sister Hazel
"Country Star" by Pat Green
"Dance With You" by Bowling For Soup
"The Tracks of My Tears" by Johnny Rivers
"When I Dream of Michelangelo" by Counting Crows
"In Between Days" by The Cure
"You'll See" from the Rent soundtrack (original Broadway cast recording)
"Indian Outlaw" by Tim McGraw

I actually think this gives you a pretty good idea of my overall tastes in music. So, make of that what you will, and feel free to judge me accordingly as you proceed through your Thursday.

*I use the word "songs" loosely, "tracks" might be more accurate as my library does also include more than a few audio books.
*I did skip one audio book track and an instrumental from a soundtrack that appeared on the list. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

SGA Rewatch: Echoes

Howdy folks! Welcome to another installment of the Stargate Atlantis Rewatch. Today we are discussing season three's "Echoes." Spoilers for the episode and all that came before it, yada, yada, yada. Onward!

What Happened

John is flying a very enthusiastic Radek and a very cranky Ronon back to Atlantis after an overnight visit to the mainland. Radek was testing some equipment and was quite successful, while Ronon had little luck with his hunting due to Radek's tests. John suggests to Ronon that perhaps he should take Teyla up on her offer to teach him meditation. They begin to approach Atlantis, according to the jumper's instruments, but John is alarmed to see that Atlantis isn't visible by now as it should be. Radek looks at the readings and realizes that the navigation calibrations are off for some reason. They adjust their course and make it back to the city with no further incident.

That evening, Ronon decides to try meditating with Teyla. She talks him through the relaxation technique and is disgruntled when she realizes he has fallen asleep. Leaving their session, she is walking through a corridor when she sees a strange woman dressed in the style of the Ancients walking toward her. The woman seems very agitated and is saying something but Teyla cannot understand her. She begins to ask for clarification but the woman does not stop. She just walks through Teyla and when Teyla recovers from the shock and turns around, the woman has vanished.

The next morning, Rodney is badgering Elizabeth on the subject of ZPMs. It seems that the Asurans left the city with three fully charged ZPMs, but the expedition is only getting to keep one of them. Rodney is trying to persuade Elizabeth to talk the I.O.A. into letting them keep all three, but she says the decision has already been made. One is going to power the Ancient control chair in Antarctica to defend Earth in the event of extraterrestrial attack. Another is going to the Odyssey, a Milky Way-stationed ship that is Earth's best defender against the Ori (the big enemy for that season of SG-1). She asks Rodney which of those projects he would deny a ZPM to and he is flustered, saying neither.

Later on Teyla is sparring with Ronon and manages to kick his butt. As they are leaving, she teases him about falling asleep during meditation the previous evening. They turn down the corridor where Teyla saw the apparition and she once more sees the woman walking towards them. Ronon does not seem to see the woman. Teyla steps aside this time when the woman passes and then turns to follow her. At a doorway, the woman stops to open it and out falls a man who has been severely burned. Teyla freaks out and Ronon calms her down, still having seen nothing.

John finds Rodney on a balcony gazing out at the ocean with a pair of binoculars. He hands them to John and points out a whale-like creature swimming around the city. He tells John it is his "friend" from "Grace Under Pressure."

Having seen the apparition twice, Teyla heads to the infirmary to get checked out by Carson. She also reports the incidents to Elizabeth. Carson cannot find anything wrong with her other than a lack of sleep and headache. She points out that many Ancients died in the city recently. She wonders if perhaps they tried to ascend and were unable to do so fully, instead being caught between the two planes of existence. Elizabeth and Carson share a look that clearly says they don't think much about the idea of ghosts.

Elizabeth is filling John in on the situation with Teyla, who Carson has ordered to get some rest and take it easy for a few days, when Rodney finds them. He holds up a datapad and shows them an entry from the Ancient database about the not-whales. He also points out the very lame name the Ancients had given to the species, "flagecallus," and admits he's just going to call them whales for the time being. He also reveals that he has named his friend "Sam," after SG-1's Colonel Carter, even though the whale is a boy and Carter is a girl. As he points out, Sam is a boy's name too. John is a little creeped out by this and asks why Rodney is so interested in the whales anyway. He shrugs and says he thinks they're interesting, and with his friend swimming around the city, his curiosity was piqued.

Once more, Teyla sees the Ancient woman and the burned man. This time she heads to Heightmeyer for help, worrying that the problem might be psychological. She worries that the Ancients might be trying to ask for help moving on to their next plane of existence. Heightmeyer reports to Elizabeth that she thinks Teyla might be sublimating some residual guilt for the fate of the Ancients that returned to the city (even though nothing that happened was at all her fault). She wants to keep an eye on her for the time being.

After this discussion, Elizabeth opens a door in the city and is appalled to see the burned man appear, falling to the floor in front of her. She and Teyla go straight to Heightmeyer again. Heightmeyer thinks maybe it is just Teyla's stories getting to Elizabeth and asks when was the last time she took a day off. She also points out Teyla's recent lack of sleep and headaches and suggests they might both just be suffering from the stress of their jobs and recent events. She has Carson give them something to help them sleep.

Rodney has begun tracking Sam with the city's sensors and he picks up another, larger, whale in the vicinity. He shows it to John, believing it might be Sam's mother. He and John decide to take a jumper underwater to get a closer look at the whales.

Carson is working in the infirmary when he suddenly sees an apparition of Ancient doctors performing an operation on one of the tables. Ronon is walking down a corridor when he comes across a vision of two Ancients arguing over a console in the middle of the hallway. Reports start coming in that more people have seen similar visions, all of Ancients, all very worried. Heightmeyer finally admits that everybody can't be imagining this and that something larger must be going on. Teyla thinks maybe the Ancients are trying to warn them about something.

In the jumper, they start to approach Sam and his mama but as they get closer John is struck by a very fierce headache. A few minutes later so is Rodney. They realize it is the proximity of the whales causing the pain and start trying to move away from them, but the whales keep cutting them off. Radek, monitoring them from the control tower, speculates over the radio that it might be the vibrations from the whales' echolocation that is causing their pain. They think he's right and continue to try to get away from the whales. Radek tells them to hurry, the city's sensors have just picked up dozens more of the whales, all headed toward the jumper. Rodney's nose and ears start bleeding and he passes out. John's ears start bleeding too and he just shoots the jumper straight up out of the water and heads back to the city, ordering a medical team to meet them. He and Rodney are both admitted to the infirmary with perforated eardrums but seem otherwise fine.

It has become quite clear that the whales are responsible for John and Rodney's injuries, as well as Teyla's headaches and those of everyone else in the city that is starting to complain of the same ailments. Unfortunately, the whales, now numbering in the hundreds, all seem to be converging on the city. The number of people afflicted is just the beginning. Teyla asserts, and Elizabeth agrees, that the whales and the visions she and others have been having are likely related. Maybe it is the whales the Ancients are trying to warn them against. Elizabeth orders Radek to raise the city's shield in the hope that it can stave off the effects of the whales. The Daedalus arrives on its routine trip to the city and Elizabeth won't let any of Caldwell's people beam down into the city. She tells him it's not safe and explains the current situation.

Rodney discovers mention of a bio lab, used to study indigenous life on the planet, in the Ancient database. He thinks that it might have more information about the whales, and possibly tell them how to deal with the current situation. He and John check themselves out of the infirmary, with Carson's grudging approval, as they are both still half-deaf, and head to the lab to check it out.

Teyla, walking through the city that evening, once more sees the original vision, as well as several others all one after the other. She collapses and wakes to find Ronon telling her they need to get her to the infirmary.

The shield isn't doing much to stop the effect of the whales on the city. Elizabeth is briefing Caldwell on the situation and he suggests that maybe they should be thinking about killing the whales before the whales kill all of them. Rodney returns from the lab at that point and pipes up that the whales aren't trying to kill them. Just the opposite, in fact. The visions everyone has been having are the whales trying to communicate a warning to the city. Rodney explains that he found a machine in the lab that the Ancients designed to try to learn the whales' language (and teach the whales their own). The Ancients also learned the whales were capable of sending visual communications, hence, what they are seeing.

In the infirmary, Carson is preparing those worst affected by the whales to be beamed up to the Daedalus. He thinks Teyla should be in the first group to go, which she protests. She sees the burned man once more and notices for the first time that he is wearing the uniform of an Ancient pilot. She tells Elizabeth.

Rodney figures out that the images the whales are broadcasting are of a traumatic event from Atlantis' past. They are trying to warn the city of something that happened once that might happen again. They can't understand what the visions are saying, however, because it is still in whale. He finds the program the Ancients had used to filter the whale song and translate it to Ancient. Elizabeth is able to make out a few words, enough for Rodney to search the database and learn about the event. About fifteen thousand years ago, an Ancient science ship, Adaris was hit by a major burst of radiation from the planet's sun. The ship was badly damaged and the entire crew killed, though the pilot did manage to get back to the city in time to warn the Ancients. Apparently the sun experienced a coronal mass ejection, sending a huge wave of radiation straight for the planet. The Ancients were able to extend their shield to cover most of the planet and protect it, the wildlife, and the city from the event.

Rodney explains that the whales have returned to the city for shelter and to warn the inhabitants because it is happening again. Knowing what they were facing, Rodney and Radek were able to scan the sun and have found they have little over an hour before the radiation reaches the planet. Unfortunately, with only one ZPM, they will only be able to protect the city and a small area around it. The rest of the planet will be toast, which will render the planet's atmosphere incapable of sustaining life of any sort, which will then kill the inhabitants of Atlantis. As they are discussing this, Elizabeth collapses. John takes her to the infirmary and we learn that one of the soldiers has died, the pressure caused him to develop an aneurysm. We also learn that Teyla is in very bad shape.

John gets an idea. He wants to use the ZPM to boost the shields on the Daedalus. Then they can fly the ship super (dangerously) close to the sun and get between it and the planet, causing the radiation to spill around the ship, diverting its course so it will miss the planet. Rodney thinks this is a Very Bad Idea but it is the only one they have so he goes along with it. They get up there in time to intercept the radiation burst and it seems to be working. Then, the ship starts to take on serious damage. Just as they are all starting to worry that they will not make it through, the radiation burst ceases.

The whales start to disperse pretty much immediately, sensing that the anomaly has stopped. The people in the city quickly begin to recover and everything starts to go back to normal. Ronon goes to Teyla to ask her to try teaching him meditation one more time. Rodney watches from the balcony as Sam takes one more swim against the city and thanks him for saving them all.


Well, other than some seriously dubious science, there really isn't much to say about this episode. It is pretty much the definition of stand-alone. We learn that Rodney likes whales, I guess. It's a pretty solidly entertaining hour of television, but nothing spectacular really.

Favorite Quotes

"I just never feel safe in these things underwater." (Rodney)
"In space you're okay?" (John)
"Yeah, of course I am. Why wouldn't I be?" (Rodney)

"Our focus was on attack from the wraith, not the sun." (Rodney)

"It's over." (Rodney)
"And we're not toast." (John)
"We're not toast!" (Rodney)


That's all I've got for today folks. See you back here next Monday for the return of a familiar face (or two) in "Irresponsible."