Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Bacon Wings and Science Tuesday

Technically, it was last night, and I'm just now posting it, but anyway:

I'm all about mods to diversify and improve the flora and fauna of Skyrim, such as: Improved Fish, Harvestable Elves Ears and Frost Mirriam, Harvest Overhaul, skyBirds, Birds of Skyrim, and so on.

One of the bird mods that I have has added a lot more hawks in a lot more regions... especially Solitude. Solitude has so many birds that it seriously needs its own weather effect, replacing rain with a flurry of bird poop bombs. It's fantastic for hunting hawk parts, however, so every time I pass through, I try to shoot a few down. Usually, that's fine and dandy and nothing goes wrong, but last night, I fired an arrow into a hawk and hit the magic button that turned its wings into bacon.

It was amazing. It made a bacon bridge from the point in the sky where the hawk was shot to the place where it would have landed had it fallen like a normal bird would. It kind of just teleported to the road.

What made this even more amazing (and sadly, even though I thought about stopping to record this event, I didn't) was that, when I pressed and held the E button to drag the corpse, the wing literally retracted like releasing tension on a rubber band. It shot the bird corpse into oblivion (well, way out into the Sea of Ghosts anyway.) It was the most glorious slingshot ever... I only wish I had looted the corpse first.


In other news, I had a real life glitch occur a moment ago... I filled the ice trays with water and put them in the freezer. About an hour later, I opened it to get out some of the already-made ice to cool off my coffee and, lo and behold, I found this little arctic boner:

I ran across the entire house to grab my ipad so I could get pictures of it. My future sister-in-law has just informed me via facebook that "apparently, this is a thing." They're called Ice Spikes! I like my name better... but there is a science behind how they form. I had imagined it'd be something like this, but apparently it's super rare for ordinary tap water to make these. Typically, people pouring distilled water into ice trays get them in abundance, but tap water almost never yields them. I feel special!

Here's a link to the article she sent me, it's really cool! Bad pun is bad!!

Link: http://www.its.caltech.edu/~atomic/snowcrystals/icespikes/icespikes.htm

~ M.D. Hammond~

Friday, December 4, 2015

VG Diaries: Skyrim Memories pt. 1, Army of Ulfric

I've recently taken to playing TESV: Skyrim again. It's probably something about the season--not long ago was November 11th, which was the game's fourth anniversary. Shane's gotten into it, too; he had the game, but hadn't invested any time into playing it beyond getting out of Helgen keep. Now, we've both modded up the graphics and tweaked it to our liking, and loaded up with all of the DLCs that we were missing. (He sent Dragonborn to me with a gift message in steam reading Fus Ro MUAH!) ... I love my life.

A magical shot of aurora/revontulet from Skyrim.

Anyway, getting into it has brought back all of the good and bad memories from the first year of its release.  I decided I would share a few of the good stories from my various encounters, the kind of stuff that not everybody necessarily encounters (so not 'the first time I entered Markarth' or 'that time I found an old orc by the side of the road.') This is the absolute essential 'first story' that I had to share... The day fifty Ulfrics killed a dragon.

So we all know Ulfric Stormcloak. That iconic voice, that regal get up and dramatic storyline and all of that. If you didn't go to Windhelm or do either side of the civil war etc. then you will still at least know him from the beginning sequence in Helgen as the dude that was gagged. Anyway, my cousin was over and we were really playing with the console codes for the first time. We did the whole 'summon 100+ dragons outside of Whiterun' kind of stuff to see what my computer could handle and bring about the apocalypse. Thankfully I kept a few pictures from that... look at that evil bastard in the background.

But after that, we ran up to the top of the mountain east of the city where the word wall and dragon priest rests. For SOME reason, divines only know, we entered the snowy clearing and decided 'hey, let's summon Ulfric.'  So yeah, there's an Ulfric standing on this random ass mountain top in the snow. It wasn't interesting enough, apparently, because we summoned like fifty more Ulfrics to join him. As they're all looking around and telling our player 'yes?' over and over again, the dragon, who was in a sleepy stupor over on the word wall, decides the stench of human is too strong and must be annihilated.

Then the most glorious, thunderous moments of skyrim audio history happened. Did I get a picture of it? No. I didn't get a video either, and I am so, so sorry that I didn't, because it was amazing. The dragon begins its death spiral above, roaring and swirling in a circle, and fifty Ulfrics craned their heads up and, standing loose and casual with no weapons drawn, all let forth a mighty 'FUS RO DAH.'

No clue what it looked like when it hit the dragon. We were laughing our asses off. I still laugh my ass off trying to tell this story to anyone who will listen. It totally did piss off the dragon though, who landed and enraged the Ulfric Army.

Predictably enough with all the racket going down, the dragon priest knocked off the lid of his coffin and joined the fray. Hell no, I wasn't going to lift a finger to help... They downed the dragon, I took its soul, and off to the races they went, charging perilously the tattered lich on the mountainside.

I'm pretty sure they blew him off the face of the mountain.

When the battle was done, they all wandered about, chillin' like this sort of affair goes down on the daily.

We rounded out this misadventure with a tribute to the gods, spawning and killing Nazeem. It's for good measure...  come on he's the adoring fan of this game. We buried him in the snow like a cat covers its poop and made off into the sunset. (And by that I mean he spawned half in the ground so we ran with it.)


We summoned Byrnjolf too, apparently...

Anyway, thanks for listening to one of my favorite Skyrim stories of all time. Next time, I'll indulge you in my tumultuous marriage to Farengar--yes, Farengar, Balgruuf's court wizard from Whiterun. I know, I know, what could possibly go wrong with that.

Until next time, keep calm, game on, all that.

And please, I encourage you!! Share some of your favorite Skyrim (or even other games in the elder scrolls series) stories! I'm dying to hear them!!!

~~~~ M. D. Hammond ~~~~

Thursday, December 3, 2015

2015 Early Easter

Early Easter at Mamaw's, Royal, Arkansas 

April 5th, 2015

I got a message out of nowhere one weekend letting me know that Shane's mom and Mamaw were hosting an early Easter get together at their house out in Royal. With a firm, stolid nod, I grabbed the closest thing to an Easter patterned flannel I could find and equiped it with the confidence of a thousand fresh fiances who've scarcely been around their partner's side of the family. We hit the road as soon as Shane got home, cameras in hand.

When we arrived, the sun was just about to go behind the treeline. My soon-to-be sister-in-law and mother-in-law were out back with the kids of the family, rounding up the last of the egg hunting. His mom and mamaw are avid landscapers, and their backyard is one big patch of land with many little garden patches and planted trees! And they were all in bloom! 

We got a lot of family pictures of course, but you're here for the nature bit, so suffer one picture of us before we get started! 

Now, on to the fun part! After eating a delicious selection of holiday morsels, we got some hype going to take the kids down to the creek behind the backyard. The first time Shane took me down there (during Christmas) we'd found the most awe-inspiring, massive collection of oyster mushrooms that I've ever had the privilege of seeing. It was spectacular. They were growing on fallen decaying trees that had been felled when a tornado came across their backyard, and since the trees were huge and difficult to clear, they sat around for months and the rich rot gave birth to some beauties.

Sadly, though, the timber had been carted out, taking the likely shriveled, out of season oysters with them. I still had hopes that there would be something worth seeing though, so with kids in tow, we headed through the backyard and down the slope to the bank of the creek.

That is us climbing down the slope. ... Just kidding, we climbed up there for a flower. For real though, as soon as we got to the bottom of the path, I was finding all sorts of things worth cataloging:

Me (Matt) finding a patch of buckeye.

One of the kids joked about the trip becoming a nature documentary, so of course, I obliged and ran with it, rambling about buckeye saplings and how keeping a nut in your pocket from the buckeye is good luck. We were just in time (seasonally) to catch them in perfect bloom, and they had some lovely flowers on them. 

~ M.D. Hammond ~