So, we have a new President and a new, historic, Vice President in the form of Joe Biden and Kamla Harris. After four long years of Trump making a mess of things, this change is pretty wonderful. However, it is not the most wonderful thing to come out of this most recent election. No, that would be the endless memes of Bernie Sanders and his ever so practical knitted mittens sitting in a chair looking like he’d wish everyone would get this inauguration nonsense over with so he can get back to doing the people’s work. Bernie’s a no-nonsense kind of guy which is why all the nonsense that comes out of a simple picture of him is so amazing.
Take, for example, this one:
Here’s another good one:
Here’s a few more of my favorites:
Those mittens, by the way, were made and gifted to him by Vermont teacher Jen Ellis:
Personally, I was content to allow others to have all the fun with mixing Bernie into various situations and pop culture references, but then my buddy Greg hit me up on Messenger this morning.
Surely, I thought, someone must have done this already, but Google searches returned the rarely seen message: “It looks like there aren’t many great matches for your search.”
What? That’s such an obvious idea. How could no one have done this already? Why, there’s even a good caption to put on it to complete the meme. The more I thought of it the more it itched at the back of my brain.
Now, I am not the greatest image manipulator in the world. I barely now how to work the Paint.net application I use these days. I still have a copy of my all-time favorite editor, Photo Impact, but it’s old as dirt and barely runs under Windows 10 and I have never mastered, let alone could afford, Photoshop. Still, I sat down to see what I could manage to whip up and I’m quite pleased with the results.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: Bernvros!
I would like to immediately apologize for putting this image into your heads, but I had to share the pain. Thanks, Greg.
These days just about everything you own can connect to the Internet so it can be remotely controlled. For example, I can open and close my garage door from anywhere in the world with the push of a button on an app on my smartphone. Devices that fall into this arena are known as the “Internet of Things” and, yes, even sex toys have joined the fray. Everything from sex dolls to dildos have Internet connected versions. Often to allow a couple to play virtually with each other over great distances.
This might sound great, but you should be sure to consider the implications of what might happen if some hacker manages to take control over your device. Say, for example, if you’re a fan of chastity cages(*link is NSFW) which tend to be popular in BDSM circles. For those not in the know, chastity cages are a subset of chastity belts aimed at men that are little cages for your dick to keep you from getting an erection. As it turns out there are versions of these devices that can connect to the Internet and, like many other IoT devices, security was an afterthought:
“Your cock is mine now,” the hacker told one of the victims, according to a screenshot of the conversation obtained by a security researcher that goes by the name Smelly and is the founder of vx-underground, a website that collects malware samples.
In October of last year, security researchers found that the manufacturer of an Internet of Things chastity cage—a sex toy that users put around their penis to prevent erections that is used in the BDSM community and can be unlocked remotely—had left an API exposed, giving malicious hackers a chance to take control of the devices. That’s exactly what happened, according to a security researcher who obtained screenshots of conversations between the hacker and several victims, and according to victims interviewed by Motherboard.
There are just some things that should never be connected to the Internet. A device that locks your dick in a cage is definitely one of those things. Reportedly, the asking price to unlock the device was around 0.02 Bitcoin (around $750 today) which is a helluva price to pay to get your dick back.
I’m not sure what the Cell Mate is made of and I’m at work so I can’t go look it up to find out, but the pic looks like it’s mostly plastic so I suppose you could just break it off your junk. Though how you would do that without also breaking your junk is a mystery. It’s also probably not cheap, though probably much cheaper than the $750 ransom. The Vox article doesn’t say anyone has actually been caught with this thing on their genitals when the ransom note came in so at worst a bunch of people now have a brick for a sex toy.
Consider this your friendly reminder that just because you can put your sex toys on the Internet, that doesn’t mean you should.
One of the reasons I have an artificial tree is to avoid the hassle of getting rid of a live tree after the holidays are over. Granted, a lot of cities offer free curbside tree pickup these days or low-cost disposal at the local dump, but for those who don’t and who can’t just drag it out to the back of their property and toss it into the woods, there’s no quick and easy way to deal with it.
One option you might have if you have a fireplace in your home is to toss it in there. This is not generally recommended for several reasons, but if you’re going to go that route you should probably consider chopping it up first.
According to the McKinney Fire Department, officials responded to a call about a structure fire in the 4400 block of Rancho Del Norte Trail.
Officials said firefighters arrived to find that a Christmas tree had been placed into a home fireplace.
Only the top of the tree was in the fire, so the flames traveled down the tree and out of the fireplace, officials said.
Damage was minimal, but one person was treated for smoke inhalation. The really sad part of this is that the town of McKinney offers Christmas tree composting services and will even pick up your tree for free.
I love that they have to tell people to remove their lights and ornaments from the tree. You know that means someone tried to have them pick up a tree with all of that still on it at some point in the past.
Learn from the stupidity of others. Don’t do this.
I’m not normally one to participate in posts that list off a bunch of questions for you to answer and then peer pressure all your friends into doing the same. In part because they’re often a sneaky way to get you to reveal personal info that could be used to try and answer security questions and in part because most of them are stupid. This one is also stupid, but I don’t think any of the answers can be effectively used for nefarious things. So what hell, let’s give in to the pressure and do a…
What was your first D&D character?
Fuck if I can remember. We’re talking almost 40 years ago. It was probably a human fighter because that’s about as basic as you can get and a good starting point when you’re just learning the ropes.
Wait, I still have a folder around here with some of the character sheets from back then. Both for myself and for other players when I ran games. I wonder if…
Holy shit! I do have it! Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you from all the way back on March 1st, 1983, what may very well be the very first AD&D character I ever played. A human Chaotic Evil Magic User named Bendor! Apparently, I jumped in on the deep end.
According to the sheet, he was level 9 so I didn’t play him for long. Considering Magic Users get a d4 for hit points and Bendor here has 35, I either rolled really well or the DM took pity on me. There are a couple possibilities for who DMed my first game, but I’m not positive on which one it would’ve been.
All of this is assuming that the Number 1 on the sheet is accurate. Based on the math, I was 16-years-old when I started playing. Could’ve sworn it was earlier than that, but thinking on it this makes sense as I joined the D&D Club at Pontiac Central High School that year in an attempt to do more extra-curricular stuff. For reasons I still don’t understand, I was made President of the club that year too. The next year I’d be at Lake Orion for my final year of high school.
Which D&D class is your least favorite to play, or do you not want to play?
I never got the hang of Bards. It didn’t help that they were considered a supplemental class under AD&D rules and many DMs just didn’t allow them. You have to go all the way to the back of the Players Handbook to find them under Appendix II.
It very well might be that I just wasn’t literally charismatic enough to play one, but I remember it being a confusing process. I thought there had been revised rules for them in the Unearthed Arcana book that came out in 1985, but I just checked and didn’t see anything. I didn’t think I had any Bard characters in my collection but it turns out I do still have a sheet with my one attempt at a Bard on it. He was level 7. Looking at it I’m not sure we were doing it correctly.
What D&D spell would you most want to have in real life?
That’s a good question. There’s a lot to choose from even in just the original Player’s Handbook. There’s the classic Magic User — I forgot the class was called that — level 9 spells of Wish and Time Stop that have obvious possibilities. The Cleric’s 6th level Heal or 7th level Resurrection would be handy.
However, I’d probably go with 9th level Magic User spell Shape Change. If nothing else, for the pure amusement factor alone. Though I can think of a number of ways it could be useful.
What’s your favorite D&D monster?
As a player? The dragons, of course. Once you reached a certain level, they were laughably easy to deal with and always profitable. Whether you’re talking about the dragon’s hoard or about selling off the dragon itself. Not to mention that subdued dragons can be ridden! Who the hell doesn’t want their own dragon to fly around on?
As a DM? Probably the Lich. They were always good for putting the fear of… well, of a Lich in the players. Literally if they were lower than level 5.
This is if we’re only considering the original Monster Manual. The choice becomes a lot harder if we include the Fiend Folio in the equation.
What’s your favorite NPC/villain that you’ve encountered/created?
Drawing a blank on this one. It’s been a long time since the heyday of getting together with my friends and playing for a ridiculous amount of time on a Saturday. If we were including games other than Dungeons & Dragons that I’ve played then I can think of a couple of villains I made for the Champions superhero RPG that I loved playing. Also, I enjoyed the hell out of playing The Computer in Paranoia. D&D though? Can’t recall anything about the modules we ran other than hazy details. I have a few laying around here.
Has one of your characters ever died, and what killed them?
Of course! Several of my characters died. Usually from something stupid I’d done. Traps, monsters, angry NPCs. You name it. Trying to run through the Tomb of Horrors module was always a good way to lose a character. We did finally make it through on a third or fourth attempt. Most of us anyway. ToH was a favorite to pull out when PCs in a game I was running had gotten too big for their britches. That is probably my favorite module of all time both as a player and a DM.
What’s your best natural 20 story?
I don’t really have one. I wasn’t particularly lucky. My best friend, Bill Owen, was often ridiculously lucky with the dice. The best story I have about dice rolls isn’t from Dungeons & Dragons, but Paranoia and it was Bill, not me, that had all the luck. Again, this was almost 40 years ago. I can’t think of any particularly memorable die rolls I had.
What’s your best natural 1 story?
See above. Same answer. It’s been too long. Still got most of my original dice, though.
What’s the highest level you’ve ever played a character to?
Given that Tomb of Horrors is for characters level 10 to 14, at least level 10. Most of the XP tables for the classes don’t go beyond level 11 with Monks topping out at 17. Tables listing number of spells per level, however, went as high as level 29. There wasn’t any hard limit set, but after the mid-teens pretty much all the monsters were trivial unless the DM was bumping their stats.
That said, I found another stash of old character sheets and in it I have a level 34 Illusionist named Lis Ouslos, which was just my name with characters swapped. It was from a total Munchkin campaign. I mean, look at her stats! An illusionist with a 24 strength?
You can tell I was a teenager as on the back under Distinguishing Marks I’ve written “Mole on her left breast” and under General Description there’s just one word: “Beautiful.” I think Mark Grismer is the one who ran that campaign.
What’s your favorite magical item?
Probably the Bag of Holding. Got a ton of shit to lug out of the dungeon you just cleared? A couple of Bags of Holding will get the job done without breaking a sweat. The Wand of Wonder was always fun for a laugh, but the Bag of Holding was near-essential gear.
If you had an IRL alignment, what would it be?
I’d like to think I’m Neutral Good, but if we go by one of those WHAT ALIGNMENT ARE YOU quiz things on the Internet, I’m supposedly True Neutral. Which is a surprise to me.
If you had to date one of your characters, which one would you pick?
What a strange question. No one specific character comes to mind.
Is there a character you want to play but haven’t had a chance to play yet?
I don’t think I’ve ever played a Cleric. If I were suddenly to take up AD&D again, I might give one a try. I don’t know anyone who still plays this version of Dungeons & Dragons, though. In the current version (5th edition?) it appears the number of classes has been expanded so there’d be several I’ve never tried, but would give a whirl. Oh look! Bards are considered core now.
Are you a dice goblin, or a dice minimalist?
Did you see that pic of my dice bag up there? What do you think? Keep in mind that I’ve lost a few over the years.
Or let’s put it this way, I still feel the itch when I see ads for shiny custom dice on the Internet even though I’ve not played a pen & paper RPG since the aborted attempt to join my friend Greg’s campaign some six or seven years ago. (I think I made it to two sessions.)
What rule or mechanic have you never quite wrapped your brain around?
Probably psionics. Another thing found in the Appendix before Bards. Looking over the rules now it doesn’t seem to be as much of a pain in the ass as I remember it being, but back in the day we generally didn’t make use of psionics in our games. Sometimes we did, but not often.
Which is a funny thing to say seeing as that first character sheet I shared up above shows some stats under the Psionics section with a comment that says “See notes”, but the notes section on the back has been erased.
End of the meme questions.
I could’ve saved a lot of time if I had just gone with the basic Dungeons & Dragons, which I have also played. It was so basic that Dwarves, Elves, and Halflings were listed as classes instead of races. But that’s not the first version of D&D I ever played. As I said earlier, I got a late start and AD&D had taken over the stage by the time I got in on it.
I believe I got the box set of the basic Dungeons & Dragons from my mother as a Christmas present. She didn’t realize it was an older version of the game. I sat down with a couple of friends and actually played it a couple of times, but there wasn’t a lot of source material for it.
I said that I had some character sheets from other players from games that I DMed. If you’re curious, I’ve included four examples below.
Lastly, here’s a cover to a couple more AD&D related things I owned. One being the official DUNGEON MASTERS ADVENTURE LOG which I barely used because I suck at record keeping. Still, it had some handy charts and illustrations in it. The other being the highly coveted official DUNGEON MASTERS SCREEN.
There, I’ve now spent way more time on this than it probably deserved. There’s probably a grand total of 5 people who would even have an interest in this, but I always say that if you’re going to get all nostalgic and shit then you may as well over do the fuck out of it. All images are clickable to go to their attachment pages where you can then expand them even bigger for a close look at my terrible hand writing.
We got a late Christmas card from a “Phil and Pam” and we were scratching our heads trying to figure out who the hell they were. I didn’t recognize the last name or the address it came from. I thought for sure it must be someone who has friended me on Facebook as my address is visible to friends, but I couldn’t find them on my friends list. Additionally, they spelled my first name wrong.
Thought maybe it might be my mother’s best friend, who is also named Pam, but the last name was wrong as was the address. Maybe she remarried and moved? Maybe “Phil” was the name of her kid? I couldn’t remember if any of those things were true, but a couple of questions to my mother confirmed that wasn’t the case so it wasn’t her.
After a couple of days, Anne finally figured out it’s from our former next-door neighbors who just sold their house to the Trump supporters. In the three years we’d been here before they moved, I never spoke a word to Phil (because he was upstate most of the time taking care of his mother) and Pam and I spoke maybe a couple dozen times. It’s not because they were unfriendly, just that we only spoke in passing most of the time and our schedules were such that we just didn’t pass each other that often. I could go a few months before touching base with her. She was often gone on the weekends to be with her husband upstate.
They sold the house because Phil’s mom was getting worse and Pam was retiring so it made sense to move in up there. The Tumpers have been friendly enough so far and actually invited me in while they were finishing up the remodeling Pam and Phil had been in the middle of when they sold the house, which makes for the first house in this neighborhood I’ve been in that wasn’t my own. The new neighbors even loaned me their extension ladder so I’d have an easier time getting my lights up this season.
I’ve not spoken to the new neighbors since before the election so I’m not sure how they’re taking the results or what they think of the attempted coup that took place two days ago. I don’t know if they’ll bring it up the next time we interact or not. Until they do, I won’t worry about it.
That’s not the point anyway. The point is this was a pleasant and unexpected surprise from a neighbor we didn’t interact with a whole lot while they were around. We will have to make a point of sending one back next year.
Oh, we did send out cards this year. We’re normally not very good at that, but with Momma living with us now we had constant reminders that she wanted to send out cards so we figured we’d try to get into the habit as well. Or I should say that Anne did as she did all the work. I’m still terrible at it. Hopefully you’re next upset if you were expecting a card from us as, like I said, we’ve traditionally been terrible at it. This year it would most likely be because we didn’t have your address. That’s my assumption anyway. As I said, I didn’t do any of the work on it.
I’ve been bad at remembering to celebrate SEB’s blogiversaries for a while now. The very first post I made was on December 2nd, 2001 and it was short and didn’t say anything in particular other than “Look! I got it up!” and I didn’t write anything else for the entire month, but it was a start and I can’t believe it’s still here after 19 years.
Other than living day to day, there a very few things I can honestly say I have stuck with for 20 or more years. Playing video games would be one thing I suppose and the one game that comes close to a 20-year run is World of Warcraft which just turned 16 in 2020, but I haven’t played it continuously during that time. I took a couple of breaks during bouts of unemployment.
On April 21st of this year, I will have been married to my wonderful and amazing wife for 20 years. That’s pretty impressive to me. Considering the number of friends and extended family who seemed to have their shit together have had marriages end in divorce, I’m not sure how I managed to keep mine together.
This year will also mark my official 10-year employment at my current job come September. That’s as an actual employee. I’ve already hit 10-years last November if you count my almost-a-year as a contractor. That’s the longest stretch of employment I’ve ever had. Of course, most of the rest of my career was as a contractor so short runs are to be expected.
So, yeah, almost 20 years. You could say I’m celebrating prematurely, but I think it’s kind of a big deal even if I’m terrible at posting regularly these days. My experiments with Podcasting didn’t last long and I keep meaning to get into vlogging and/or streaming for the past couple of years, but have yet to do so with any seriousness. I can’t promise you it’ll still be around 20 years from now, that would put me at 73 going on 74 and I’ll probably be in rough shape by then if family history is anything to go by, but I’ll probably stretch it out for as long as I can manage.
For now, Happy 19th Birthday a month late, SEB. Never thought we’d still be hanging out by now, but glad we still are.
I’m a day late with this, but from all of us here at SEB, here’s wishing you and yours a safe and very Merry Christmas! It’s been a rough year, but it’s almost over and that can’t come quick enough for me.
I had a pretty good haul this year. Got a new coffee mug that says “I drink this so you all may live another day” which will be heading into the office with me in the New Year. Two new Hawaiian shirts, “Assassin’s Creed Odyssey” and “Dishonored 2” video games (yes, I know they’ve been out forever), a cast iron kitty door stopper, a USB Bluetooth adapter for my desktop, some new RGB case fans for my computer, and way more candy than I should be thinking of eating. I’m told a couple more things are still in transit.
Lastly, the family is safe and healthy which is the best gift of all. Hopefully the same is true for you and yours.
While perusing Facebook this morning I came across this Frazz comic strip shared by the Decrepit Old Fool himself. Here’s a quick description in case you don’t want to click on the link. In the past I would’ve included the comic with a link back, but the site specifically mentions a license for blog posts and it’s $35.
Two kids are talking about Christmas shopping in the past. The girls says that her Dad said it used to be all traffic jams by the mall while her grandpa said it was traffic jams by the downtown department store. While they, the kids, would be the ones to grow up to not be able to get out of their own driveways (due to all the delivery trucks). It really is better to go see it for yourself.
This, of course, started me reminiscing about Christmas shopping back in the day. I can vividly remember going to The Pontiac Mall and trying to remember what my parents and siblings had said they wanted and often failing. The crush of the crowd was both frustrating and amazing. It was one of the few times of the year that you really got a sense of just how many people lived in your area.
Of course, we did have mail order back then, but it was mostly limited to a few catalogs that took aim squarely at the Old White People demographic (e.g., Harriet Carter) or foodies (Swiss Colony). Both of those are still around and on the Internet these days, which is a helluva testament to their knowing their target markets.
Though no one I knew did the majority of their Christmas shopping through them. I certainly didn’t, but I did look forward to the arrival of the catalogs as one sign of the start of the holiday season. Also. I did drool over more than a few items in the Swiss Colony catalog. I’m a sucker for cheese and sausage gift packs.
We didn’t have an Amazon Wish List. Back then it was the Sears Wish Book. Going through the toy section, circling desired items with different colored pens, discovering the women’s underwear section as I hit puberty, such wonderful memories. Sears is still hanging on by a thread, but back in the day they were one of the big department stores along with Hudson’s which has since gone extinct.
A lot of my clothing growing up came from Sears as did the very first video game console I had: The Sears Video Arcade! Which was just a rebranded Atari 2600. This gives you an idea of the kind of clout that Sears had back then. Atari wasn’t a household name yet, but Sears was. So, Atari agreed to let Sears slap their own name on it because Atari knew Sears was highly trusted brand and it would get their consoles into homes.
When I was growing up The Pontiac Mall had a Hudson’s and a Montgomery Ward as anchor stores. They built a Sears at the north end of the mall in 1973, but it wasn’t attached to the rest of the mall which was annoying during the winter. It was eventually connected during the huge expansion in 1988 that nearly doubled the size of the mall and added stores like J.C. Penny’s and led to changing the name to “Summit Place” which I hated and refused to use. Hell, for most of my childhood I was ignorant of the fact that “malls” were common so it was always just “The Mall” to me growing up. Things have changed a lot since those days. “Summit Place” closed its doors for good in 2009 with only J.C. Penney and Macy’s remaining until early 2010. Sears held out until 2014. It was finally demolished last year. Driving past it during demolition and seeing it reduced to rubble was more emotional for me than I expected.
Not that I’m complaining about things now. The vast majority of my gift giving over the past decade plus has been done online. Yes, I’m Amazon’s bitch. I can’t begin to imagine doing it the old way in the middle of a pandemic. Those crowds would’ve been an unparalleled super spreader event.
I keep my Amazon Wish List updated throughout the year and yet I’m amazed at how many folks still ask me what I want. Here’s a complete list with things both cheap and expensive as fuck. Pick something. I guarantee you ANYTHING on that list will make me happy. That’s why it’s there. For that matter, I’m amazed at how many people don’t have an Amazon Wish List or don’t bother to keep it up to date. It’s one of the things I love about living in the future.
Anyway, I’ve not posted anything since Thanksgiving and I wanted to get something up and the Frazz comic kicked off a wave of nostalgia. I was originally just going to reshare the comic on Facebook as George did, but when I got up to two paragraphs of writing about it I figured it should be a blog post instead. Now I’ve spent the better part of an hour and a half working on this instead of the 2 minutes resharing would’ve taken. That’s OK because I am on vacation and can’t go anywhere thanks to the COVIDs.
What about you guys? Got any memories of Christmas shopping before the age of the Internet and the rise of Amazon? Do you still go to your local mall? Here in Westland where I live now, we still have a local mall — The Westland Shopping Center — that I have been to in the past, but haven’t been in the three years since I officially moved here. I keep meaning to go because I’ve not wasted an afternoon walking around a mall aimlessly in many years, but haven’t yet and probably won’t until this pandemic is under better control. DAMN YOU COVID-19!
From all of us here at Stupid Evil Bastard to all of you who still drop by occasionally to see if I’ve posted anything new, here’s hoping you have a very Happy Thanksgiving. The year is almost over and, boy howdy, what a year it’s been.
Looking back, it can be hard to find a lot to be thankful about. Still, I try to be optimistic on this day and, if I’m honest, there are at least a few things. I’m still employed and we still have a roof over our heads. We’re not going hungry and we’ve managed to stay relatively healthy. Or at least, no worse than we already were before the pandemic started. Not least of all, the election swung in our favor and Donald Trump will be out of the White House shortly after the new year starts. All things considered; we’ve been lucky in this household when a lot of others have not. It is my hope that things turn around for them and soon.
That’s it. That’s all I wanted to say in this one. Be safe and try to enjoy the day.
Ubisoft is launching a new ecosystem, whatever they mean by that, and to celebrate you can go out to their webpage and have them generate a summary of the time you’ve spent playing Ubisoft games since they started keeping detailed stats around 2015 or so. I’m guessing on that last bit as that’s when they start my review even though I know I’ve played Ubisoft games for several years prior to that.
This was interesting. If nothing else, it shows that I don’t tend to play Ubisoft games a whole lot. I mean, I have some impressive hours in here, but not when you consider this stretches back over five years. I’ve spent way more than 313 hours on just a single Call of Duty in a single year before.
For example: Advance Warfare – 432.2 hours, the original Black Ops – 469.3 hours, Black Ops II – 603.1 hours, Black Ops III – 838.2 hours, Ghosts – 762.4 hours, Infinite Warfare – 790.7 hours, Modern Warfare II – 704.5 hours, and one of the grand-daddies of time sinks, Modern Warfare 3 – 1,017.2 hours. Those are just the ones from Steam that I can easily look up. I’m sure I’ve put in similar amounts of time since they moved to BattleNet. Glancing at my combat record in Back Ops Cold War I’m already at 1 day, 5 hours, and 17 minutes for a game that’s been out a week.
So, yea, 313 hours over 5 years on multiple Ubisoft games isn’t as impressive as it sounds. You can also tell I don’t tend to do PVP in games like The Division what with my 0 rogue agents killed. I’m just not good at third-person shooter PVP. I was very surprised that none of the Far Cry games showed up in my review. I thought for sure I had played the last couple more than I had played The Division 1, but apparently not.
As for what the new Ubisoft ecosystem is, I think it’s just a new games launcher. I just realized I hadn’t reinstalled it since the last time I had to restage my system (again, shows you how much I play Ubisoft games) so I just did and… it looks more or less the same. Not sure what’s different about it. Still, it made for a mildly amusing video for the morning and a bit of reflection on how much time I waste playing Call of Duty.