Ghost Hunters, Paranormal State – FAIL

Well, things were getting pretty thin on the live shows and Paranormal State always starred Chip Coffey GIANT FAG PSYCHIC (his card has dicks coming out of a dick chakra on his dick emanating dick colored energy to influence the balance of dicks in the universe).

And finally south park chipped off on them and promoted SciFake. So, if you haven’t seen it yet, check out SciFake because they document every single leak coming out of there. Also did you know the crew only gets $250/investigation? No wonder people can’t stop spilling the beans. How long until one of these guys shows up on Oprah?

Now, they had nothing to say about GHOST ADVENTURES. Having a head full of rocks and honestly believing you saw a ghost is great TV, and you’re not lying when you say you thought you saw something!

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HELLRAISER

Not nearly as cool as I remember it being. In fact, it was pretty weak.

However, the cube is still a neat thought. It would have been a lot better if Clive didn’t direct it I think. He should just stick to writing.

But, in case you didn’t know about it (yet), The Pyramid Gallery really does exist. Let mindfuckery commence.

Some of the cubes are pretty cool. Some of them feel uninspired.

Jon and Kate Plus TRAFFIC

Note to self: Just because you want to see a trainwreck doesn’t mean you’re the only one who wants to see a trainwreck.

I woke up this morning and said “they’re at Montgomery county court? I got my carry permit there, I drive right by there taking the back way!”

OH GOD WHY DID I THINK IT WAS A GOOD IDEA? Fox New was there along with about five other news organizations, but what took me by surprise was the gaggle of women with cameras there too. Are they proposing to Jon? Are they just interested in the proceedings? Are they sticking up for Kate? Who knows. Point being, it’s a circus.

Review of Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising

I traded in Fallout 3 and Burnout: Paradise (the weakest of the series) for Dragon Rising. Fallout was fun but I got about halfway through, got stuck, wandered way off the trail and it got sort of boring after awhile. The constant scrabble for ammo and need to repair guns and such just didn’t interest me. Or, to put it mildly, I spent too much time trying to live and too little time enjoying the landscape. Maybe it was the open-ended plot or the fact that I grew up exposed to 1950s “rocket boy” literature (grandpa loved the stuff) but the game didn’t really click for me.

On the other hand, I also grew up hunting and shooting and I’ve never seen that in a game. Cabelas has their releases, but weirdly enough Dragon Rising has more in common with a hunting game at first glance than it does with other “outdoor engagement simulators”. There’s plants, you can hide in plants, you can hide among weeds, bushes will slow down bullets and deflect them. Weapons jam. There’s wonderful little folds in the terrain you can hide in, and there’s plenty of hiking. Without a truck, get used to humping that pack. Oh, and there’s an actual ballistics model.

The graphics are good. It’s not the best looking game I’ve ever seen but the graphics don’t suck. I have the XBOX version. I also have a standard definition TV. If you don’t have high def, expect to squint to read the text. There were a few times I was trying to plant explosives and accidentally pulled out the wrong item. While it’s hilarious to realize you just threw a grenade at your feet, it also blows you up. This is a personal pet peeve of mine since game like Gears of War have extra large subtitles for nonhighdef sets, but in this game you absolutely MUST hear the audio and recognize stuff on shape because you’ve got no hope of reading it otherwise. Speaking of hard-to-read, the manual is useless. It gives you the most general overview of the controls, but really they saved the manual for the guide. If you’re out in the dark about it, download the guide from your favorite torrent site. Frankly I’m not going to pay for the guide because I don’t want to encourage companies to start selling their manuals seperately from the game.

Now, that being said, the entire game takes place on this huge island. The intro sucks so I’ll just sum it up here – Oil is discovered on a japanese territory. Russian and China invade. Russia allies with the US. (lol wut?) You’re fighting “chinese commandos”. You’re a marine or something. Russian troops are nowhere to be found. The game has a campaign and six noncampaign maps. If you’ve played Ghost Recon and wished it had tanks this game is for you. If you played any of the Battlefield games and liked them but wished they were more real, this game is also good. If you played Call of Duty and think you really should carry 1000 rounds and 10 grenades, please don’t buy this.

Like I said, the manual is worthless. Just leave it open to the “controls” page and start playing. There’s no tutorials but the first mission has the chinese as deaf, blind and dumb so you have until the third mission (“united we stand”) to get used to the game. The third mission turns into a slugfest about halfway through. That being said the game does a good job of immersing you in it and I think once I get better at it I’ll enjoy playing the campaign again with more tactical options. Knowing the controls will help but like the real army, you don’t need to know much more than which button is the trigger in the middle of the firefight. The game does a decent job of sheparding you to the next objective. That being said, a good portion of the game is maneuvering. Don’t just walk flag to flag, try to get into the folds of the earth and next to walls and whatnot. This is what infantry tactics are about, and you’re expected to do it in real time, which is part of the fun.

The AI is decent. There’s a few places the scripted events in the campaign break it badly. In the third mission there’s a fireteam on the hill sighting in a mortar and you’re tasked with killing them. If you run in before you’re prompted to attack the troops are there but the AI isn’t commanding them and you can eliminate them before the AI tells them to start shooting. In multiplayer (essentially terrorist hunt on co-op), the AI will deploy from vehicles, but I haven’t seen any AI use armor or aircraft. The AI is brutally good at flanking, I was hiding behind a pile of rocks and throwing grenades at this one opfor. He ran away from the grenades, into a house, and smoked me through a window. Moments like that make it obvious a well planned attack is much better than having 10 (or two) grenades.

Finally the realism is there. There’s underbrush to hide in, your guy is smart enough to stick his head over walls when you’re aiming, and bullets have ballistics. If you’re reloading while dirt is getting kicked up your gun jams (this is hilarious the first time it happens). The underbrush is a good addition since it adds to the “crease of the earth” you need for cover or concealment. It works incredibly well. The bullet ballistics work semi well, it’s on par with vehicles (which get stuck all the time and end up at weird angles). The guns are all sighted in a 100 yard and you have to hold over from there. While 50 cal fans are going to call foul (as they should), it’s a lot better than other games where you point and shoot. It’s actually fun to kentucky windage the guns. While it’s a simplified model, any game with bullet drop on every weapon deserves a hat tip.

All in all, it’s lovable despite it’s flaws and I would suggest buying it.

Fixing a Chainsaw

Continuing my DIY streak of buying broken stuff on ebay and fixing it – last weeks purchase was a craftsman gasoline powered chainsaw. Total price? $30.

Stuff I generally look for on ebay when I’m buying something used: Does it have all it’s parts? Does it run? Does it look abused? The number one killer of two strokes by far is running straight gas in them. This causes the rings to fail and whatnot and you end up with a motor with no power if you can get it to run at all. The second biggest killer is carbon buildup. Fortunately carbon just requires cleaning.

The chainsaw was the latter. It was listed as “starts but won’t run”. You’ve got two options basically for fixing this condition – run straight gas (see original paragraph) or clean the carbon out. Or check the air filter! Oh, there’s no air filter on a chainsaw – this is probably where all the carbon comes from. Sawdust. Being sucked straight into the carb. WHO DESIGNS THIS CRAP?

Back on topic – this was a dead easy fix. I keep a ton of WD40 around. It’s really useful, and it also loosens up carbon and gets rust off stuff (sometimes). In a two stroke engine it’s golden because the carbon is usually layers of gunk with oil in between. Find something to thin out that oil and you win. What’s thinner than gasoline? WD40. I had a spare plug. I pulled the old plug (nasty and fouled) and filled the cylinder with WD40. I put the old plug back in and filled the intake with WD40 with a piece of tape over it. Finally, I filled the gas tank with… WD40. I forgot about it until after dinner (about four hours). I considered dumping the WD40 back into the can but after seeing how much gunk it had in it I decided to throw it in the oil disposal bottles.

I didn’t really bother to measure out the proper oil/gas ratio, generally if you put one capfull of oil in the saw and then fill the gas tank and shake it you’ll do OK. Remember – it doesn’t have to be 100%, especially if you’re letting the saw warm up and not chainsawing stuff in the middle of winter, but you can’t run straight gas and expect your gaskets and rings to live forever either. If you’re seeing blue smoke come out the exhaust when you start it, it’s about the right ratio, since this indicates the oil isn’t being completely consumed (and thus some still is in the cylinder to lube it up). For bar oil, bar oil is SAE30, which means any 30 weight oil will work. Note that your car is 10w30, which means it’s 10 weight oil. If you’re going to use automotive oil (and I suggest you do since it’s literally a 10th of the price), then buy a few quarts of honest 30 weight oil. 10w30 simply means it’s 10 weight oil which has 30 weight when it’s cold. Again, unless you’re using the saw in the dead of winter, that oil is 10 weight.

I changed the plug and filled up the tanks with the appropriate fluids. I forgot about the stupid choke and tried starting it several times without the choke and ended up looking up the manual online. Go me – best laid plans and all that. Finally texted my brother and he reminded me the choke lever (which is blue of all things…) needs to be set. Pull the choke, hit it until it tries to run, then push the choke and give it a yank. Yay, it started right up (and put a layer of oil all over everything in my workshop). I let it idle long enough to send my brother a hilarious video of this thing dancing it’s way across the floor and called it a success.