“But the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.” ~John Stuart Mill
Let me tell you about James.
James is probably the oldest close childhood friend I had, and probably one of the most influential. I’m pretty sure the first good friend I had that wasn’t a family friend (that is, my parents weren’t first friends of their parents). He introduced me to one of the greatest JRPGs ever made: Golden Sun. I bought a Gameboy advance just to finish the game, and I only ever owned three games on it: Golden Sun, Golden Sun: The Lost Age, and LotR the Two Towers. And yet I still consider that little handheld console to be one of my favorite purchases. It even it still works…barely.
He also introduced me to anime, starting with .hack//sign (still the best ‘stuck in mmo world’ anime, suck it SAO) and Hellsing. He was also a movie aficionado, especially where martial arts and action was concerned. He introduced me to Lethal Weapon, Jet Li, and Equilibrium. We watched Jet Li’s The One multiple times, because it was awesome. His collection of movies, and his movie trivia was unparalleled.
He’d come over, we’d play videogames and chat as nerdy adolescents do. We talked, argued and discussed everything, including girls (which added to my shock when he eventually came out as gay)
When I went to college we went mostly our separate ways, only keeping a minimal amount of contact until Facebook became a big thing (yes, I am old, and as I said, we knew each other from way, way back in the olden days). We reconnected through Facebook, and throughout the years you may have seen a few of our many jokes, discussions, debates, and arguments on the old wall, ranging from objectivity in art, to religion, to the “is Eragon\Twilight\etc” any good (he said yes, I said no) as stories.
In the past few years Discord became the hot new communications channel for nerds like us, and he dropped off Facebook. I eventually found my way onto his Discord server that was set up for his family and friends. That’s the latest place we’d hang out and post the memes, latest music interests, have discussions, etc. as one does on discord servers. Which finally brings us to the present.
On Saturday at 7pm, James killed himself.
The final part of our trip was driving to Jackson, WY and having morning rafting experience down the Snake River, followed by a hike into the Cascade Canyon Trail. The drive down was beautiful, the Grand Tetons are absolutely grand, and they dominate the landscape. Every picture I took of them seemed like something out of a painting.
The first afternoon we were in Jackson, we went up Josie’s Ridge, where we got a great view of the city, and watched a helicopter hauling timber around, which was really neat. We splurged and had by far the most expensive meal of the trip, at the Gun Barrel restaurant, and it was worth every penny. I wish they had t-shirts.
This area was the perfect capstone for an absolutely fantastic trip. I can’t wait to someday just spend an entire vacation at each one of these places, because it feels like this trip just gave us the highlights of an area, and I’d dearly love to explore South Dakota, Yellowstone, and the Grand Tetons even more. Some places just have to be experienced, because no matter how hard one tries, it’ll never truly capture the feeling of it all.
We didn’t spend any significant amount of time in Cody, we drove from Island Park, Idaho to Cody through Yellowstone, stayed the night and then drove to Jackson, Wyoming the next morning. Our entire purpose of visiting was to go to the Cody Firearms Museum. And it, like everything else we did on our vacation, was absolutely worth it. The library of guns is absolutely life goals.
The entire Buffalo Bill Center of the West is worth checking out. I learned a ton of stuff about William Cody, his life and career and got to see a ton of artifacts of his life and show. They also had a museum for the Plains Indians which was fantastic and also a great learning experience. On top of all that, they also had a great natural history museum and an art museum. It was pretty insane just how much they managed to pack into a single building, and yet it didn’t feel cramped at all.
I came away from the experience with one thought: I need to buy more guns. A whole lot more guns.
We stayed a couple nights in Island Park, Idaho during the time we explored Yellowstone proper. We arrived in Island Park with enough daylight left to do the Box Canyon Campground to Rosie’s Waterfall hike, which was very pleasant and refreshing after a long day of driving.
We started the next morning at Running Bear Pancake House in West Yellowstone, and then proceeded to have one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had with the outdoors. Yellowstone National Park is one of the most incredible places on earth. The weather was perfect in the high 60s, low 70s, and crystal clear skies. We did the big Upper Geyser Basin and Old Faithful trail first, followed by the Mystic Falls, Fairy Creek, and Little Firehole loop, and finally Fountain Paint Pot Trail. I think people can spend their entire career trying to capture the feeling of this place, and consider it a success to be able to pass along just a sliver of the emotion and wonder this place generates. It’s one of the top five most popular national parks in the world, and every reason was on full, glorious display. We saw six geysers go off: Old Faithful, Grand, Lion, Sawmill, Solitary, and Grotto. Of these, the Grand Geyser was, well, the most grand. We waited an hour and a half into its expected eruption time window, and it was absolutely worth every second. I did get a fantastic picture of Solitary though, that is in the images below. During the walk along this trail (I hesitate to call it a hike because it’s mostly paved or wood paths) we unexpectedly got very close to a wild bison. Bison were everywhere in the park, we also saw a few elk, a bear, and a wolf. It was surprising just how much wildlife we saw considering how busy the park is.
Mystic Falls and Fairy Creek were beautiful but a little strenuous considering we had just done the large Upper Geyser Basin, and the Little Firehole had some beautiful pools in it. After that was Fountain Paint Pot trail, and I never thought watching bubbling mud would be so cool. I could have watched it for hours. The next day was a four hour horseback ride into the park, which was fantastic, and a visit to Artists Paintpots Trail.
I also included some pictures taken and various places like Artist Point, where we stopped while driving around or through Yellowstone, either when we were traveling to Cody or Jackson.
Yellowstone is one of the most unbelievable places on earth.
My wife and I had originally planned on going to Europe this year (well, for the last two years), but Covid craziness had other plans. So we decided to turn the time we had originally set aside for it into a road trip to Yellowstone instead, and it was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. Along the way, we decided to take a brief stop for a day in the Black Hills of South Dakota, and then overnight there again on the way back. Initially, the main attraction was Mount Rushmore, but we discovered so many other cool things to see there, that we felt it is definitely worth its own trip.
We visited Mount Rushmore and had Thomas Jefferson’s original recipe Vanilla Ice Cream, hiked the Little Devil’s Tower trail, drove through the Bear Country USA wildlife park, visited the Reptile Gardens, ate at Black Hills Burger & Bun and the Chute Rooster, stopped by Prairie Berry Winery and bought a bottle of Red Ass Rhubarb wine (their claim to fame), and generally did everything touristy it was possible to do in the space of a little over 24 hours.
We thoroughly enjoyed everything we did, but were the most surprised with the Reptile Gardens. It was incredible. I love reptiles to begin with, and it turns out they have the most species and subspecies of reptiles than any other zoo or animal park in the world at over 225 of them. Their collection of venomous snakes is incredible, and being able to get that close to the Giant Tortoises was a dream come true.
Driving through South Dakota we also had to stop at Wall Drug (which is a hilarious little place), and the Corn Palace, simply because they were there and we weren’t in any particular rush, being vacation and all.
I got these pictures from this twitter thread, and am posting them here so they won’t be forgotten. They are truly powerful images that show just how messed up and truly dystopian things are now.
Welcome to the new world. Things have changed greatly in the last few years, and it hasn’t been for the better.
“The Constitution of most of our states (and of the United States) assert that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed.” ~ Thomas Jefferson, letter to to John Cartwright, 5 June 1824
I love looking around at new, more privacy oriented and/or distributed social media sites. MeWe, Parler, Gab, Mastodon, Diaspora, Minds, Bastyon, Ruqqus, Odysee, etc. etc.
However, all these sites have a problem (well, Odysee seems to have gotten past it), and that problem is people don’t really go to these sites to socialize and share. They go to these places to vent. Usually about censorship and politics and to say/share things that would (or did) get them banned from the major social media sites. Users post all kinds of fringe news, conspiracy theories, and/or highly vitriolic memes.
I’m not saying they shouldn’t, or that such things should be disallowed (the entire point of most of these places is to allow free expression after all). The issue is, this is all they’re doing. And when a person loads up the site, for the first time, or after a while, they are inundated with nothing but this shouting into the void and ‘X DESTROYS Y’ or ‘Y PROVES Z’ style posts. Looking through all this constantly is absolutely exhausting. I can’t really help but wonder why people do this, especially on these sites which do a very good job (as all social media does) of creating perfect ideological bubbles, such that nobody on them is likely to be changing their views anytime soon, and most likely already completely agree with everything posted.
I don’t go to facebook or twitter to be inundated with politics, rants, and negative newspieces. I go there for the friends, family, cute pictures, pictures of interesting things, art, and monster doses of (nonpolitical) memes, puns, and dad jokes, interspersed with interesting nonpolitical articles. It just seems most people on these new sites… aren’t. I’m not saying Facebook and their like don’t have plenty of crazy posts (they absolutely do. Twitter is a hellhole and literally everyone knows it), but they tend to be at least mostly distributed among the more mundane things in the feed, and I even look forward to some of them.
That said, I currently really like MeWe as a replacement for facebook, and Odysee as a replacement for youtube, because they currently have the least of these problems.
I have no idea how this game slipped by me. I only just noticed it when it was on a Steam sale and picked it up on a whim (SCP feel, interesting combat system, and high production values? sounds like a good time to me).
I was absolutely blown away. It has everything I wanted from it. They manage to pull off that difficult always unsettling atmosphere, dropped in the straight up SCP style weirdness (seriously, it’s SCP in all but name), added in a massive dose of non-Cthulhu lovecraftian style horror and this thing made a straight up winner.
It also has a moment that was the equivalent to the Matrix Lobby scene for me. When a song by the (in universe) band Old Gods of Asgard starts playing it is on. After it finished, I said “That was AWESOME” out loud at the same time my character did.
All that said, it is definitely not for those who do not like exploring, backtracking, and searching for all the bits of lore and story scattered and hidden around. You only really get about half the story if you just hit the main mission and the smattering of obvious stuff and don’t look for all the files / documents / audio / videos.
I thoroughly enjoyed 100%ing this game and can’t say enough good things about it other than I hope they make more, and I wish I could play it through for the first time again.