What my brain gets up to sometimes…

A couple of mornings ago, I was sitting in the bathroom before work reading various websites and articles.  One that particularly caught my attention was someone ranting about the intricacies of time travel.  To wit; if one were actually able to build a time machine, he posited that just going back in time wasn’t the most difficult issue.  What was, in his opinion, was the fact that if one were able to travel in time, one had to take into consideration not only the passage of time, but movement as well.  Movement, in this case meaning, the movement of celestial objects, and their relation to one another as time marches invariably on.

If you think back to movies like ‘The Time Machine‘, [the remake of 2002] it shows Alexander Hartigan’s machine creating a ‘bubble’ that resides outside of the normal flow of time, either going forwards, or backwards.  What doesn’t seem to be taken into consideration is the movement of the earth, considering that it rotates on it’s axis, and it moves within the solar system and the universe as well.  The movie glosses over this fact, instead showing the time bubble remaining static as the passage of the years and centuries goes on around him.  Of course the other thing is, nothing gets built upon the spot where his machine is moving, as if the screenwriter conveniently forgot or ignored that issue.  To advance the story, he needed a mostly unobstructed view, so he could observe the dresses in the window across the street being rapidly moved higher and higher on the model’s legs to show how progressive life was becoming as time moved on.

Honestly, when I was watching the movie the first time (and the second and so on) it never occurred to me that this was an issue.  Apparently it occurred to someone else, and they decided to write about it.  I’m rather glad they did.  It made me think, and then I could share it here.

Nats Win!

Wow, what a ride.  And of course it all happens after I went to bed!  Bah.  Sometimes I hate having to get up for work early, but it’s a necessary evil I suppose.

Kinda weird though, considering this isn’t even MY team.  I haven’t followed the Nationals all year, but since my Boston Red Sox didn’t make it to the post-season (after winning it all in 2018), I needed a new ‘pony’ to root for.  In steps the Washington Nationals, the relocated Montreal Expos, the first baseball team in Washington, DC since the Senators moved to Texas to become the Rangers in 1972.

Certainly someone to root for.  They were perennial underdogs in the post-season, and as I understand it, they started out the season 19-31, so not exactly a suggestion that they were even going to be around at the end of the season, much less make the playoffs.  But they were scrappy, and made the most of what they had, and to add insult to injury, it was a year removed from when Bryce Harper left for a big payday in Philadelphia.  I bet he’s kicking his own ass over that boner.  Nice job, Bryce.

A very weird World Series to be sure.  Every game, the visiting team won.  Not once did home field advantage come into play this year.  It was almost as if someone thought, “hey, let’s make the visiting team win every game in the series” as if that was the best idea in the bag.  Certainly no one expected the Nats to win the first two games in Houston.  But as soon as they traveled back to DC for games 3-5, there was whispers of a sweep.  Or a meltdown by the Astros, and it would be season over and a ‘World’ Championship for the Nationals at home.  But, irony as they say, has a sense of humor.

So, every game was a barn burner in DC.  Every game, one thought that this one was the one the Nationals were going to win, to put away the Astros, but no.  EVERY win, was the Houston Astros.  What?  How was that even remotely possible.  But it happened.  And we all watched it happen.  Boggled.  At the end of Game 5, going back to Houston, the pundits were thinking the other way.  It was going to be Houston’s Series.  They were going to win their second Series in 3 years.  But again, dun dun duuuuunnnnnnn…irony.

In a ‘must-win’ game, the Nationals beat the Astros in Game 6.  Stephen Strasbourg pitched a gem, and their third baseman, Anthony Rendon exploded for 5 RBI’s during the course of the game.  Justin Verlander, who the Astros had picked up from the Detroit Tigers, collapsed =again= in the post-season.  Couldn’t manage to win for his team.  He’s a great pitcher, but for whatever reason, put him into a post-season game and he can’t finish what he started.  At the end of the night, the score was 7-2, Nationals.  Another Game 7 was in the offing.

Max Scherzer, the ace of the Nat’s staff, had the ball for the game.  He was supposed to start Game 5, but for whatever reason he had a neck spasm and was unable to start that one.  Miraculously, over the course of several days he had a shot of something in his back and was able to recover in order to pitch last night.  Certainly he wasn’t brilliant in his start, he gave up 2 runs, but he pitched actually pretty good.  I would say all the starters on both teams pitched pretty well, for the most part the series was won and lost in the bullpens.

If one were to post the stats for both teams on a board and compare them, the Astros should have won the series hands down.  But baseball, while now being a game that’s figured out on stats sheets, it’s still played on the field, where stats don’t really matter in the aggregate.  Just because a certain right handed pitcher is great against right handed batters doesn’t mean he’s going to get every single one out.  There’s always the element of surprise.  The element of, who knows what’s going to happen.  And that’s what makes the game watchable.  The unknown factors.  It’s why in Games 1 & 2, with Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander pitching for the Astros, the Nats shouldn’t have won either game.  But they did.  And in convincing fashion.

Bottom line, the Nationals won me over for now.  I even went out and bought a Nationals cap and wore it out in public, despite being a die-hard Red Sox fan.  Come next year, I’ll be rooting just as hard for the Red Sox as I did this past year.  And I’m just pleased as punch the Yankees didn’t get to the series.  The deserving team won in 2019.  Congratulations to the Washington Nationals.  Nice job, guys.

Time Wasters

I’ve been playing video games since they first came out with Pong.  I’ve never really been all that adept at any of them, but when console video games came out, I, like many in my generation, spent a good deal of time plunking many quarters into the games through my teens and even into my twenties both in college and after.  When online gaming became the norm, and video arcades started to close enmasse, I still played, but with about the same amount of good fortune, except with some of the games, (usually the ones on Facebook) it again ended up costing me a good amount of money trying to come out ahead.

Which of course is the whole point of these games, to make money for their developers.  From Mafia Wars to Boom Beach, in order to get ahead, you have to end up paying a bit in order to advance the game.  Otherwise what can take mere minutes if you cough up $$, may end up taking days, if not weeks to accomplish.  The companies bank on your lack of patience, and are ready to take your money in the form of credit card payments, through your smartphone, and it’s easy money for them to gobble up.

For the most part, I don’t really play too many online games, for that very reason.  I have a low threshold of patience when it comes to waiting for something to occur, and that can be costly, considering there are usually millions of others experiencing the same thing, and paying for the privilege of getting a little bit ahead.  It’s big business, and I’m just a little fish in their pond.

Over the weekend, I was looking through Facebook and a paid ad caught my eye for a game called ‘Castle Wreck‘.  It appeared to be a very simple game, you get a cannon, and cannonballs, and fire them at castles, attempting to destroy them.  I’d been looking for a game like this for some time, where the object was pretty straightforward, and it plays into my male proclivity for both slapstick comedy and cartoon wanton destruction.

I flipped over to the Google Game Store and looked up the game, of course there’s a free version as well as a paid one.  I tried the free one to start, just to see if it would appeal to me.  Right off the bat, the ads were annoying.  Play a level, then wait 30 seconds for an ad to play.  Wash, rinse, repeat.  After about ten levels, I found I had a knack for the game, and I actually liked it enough to cough up $3.49 for the paid version.  Having the ads excised definitely made it much more appealing.  Although, on any level, after you’ve exhausted your initial complement of cannonballs, you can ‘buy’ three more by watching a 30 second ad.  But if you can’t successfully pass the level with that, there’s no more to be had, you have to reset the level and try again.

In the past two and a half days, I’ve managed to get to level 200.  Of course the game is a bit slow in loading sometimes, and I’ve been reset down 30 levels twice, which was a bit frustrating.  I checked online to see how many levels there actually are in the game, and the highest one that’s mentioned is Level 414.  Apparently as one gets close to that, the castles get harder to knock down, and there are some people reporting the game is glitching there, causing the level to be unwinnable.  I too have been experiencing some quirky behavior in the game, though I haven’ t written to the developers to mention it yet. The game was first listed on Google Play Store and the iStore around February, so its pretty much still in its infancy, compared to some of the other games out there.

Hopefully there will be some decent upgrades in the future.  At present there only seem to be a total of five separate castle designs, with a bonus level being the same design over and over.  There are no ‘points’ awarded for finishing levels, after ten or so levels you can choose a different variation on the cannon you’re using, but a lot of them are fairly silly designs.  I’ve gone back to the most basic one that I started with, because it doesn’t have anything fancy and blinking.  No distractions.  All the better to be able to aim and concentrate on the castle destruction.

I expect if it doesn’t get updated and changed, I will be tired of it after a week or so.  Since it only took me fewer than three days to reach level 200, its likely I will max it out by the weekend.  All the levels are replayable, so that helps, at least somewhat.  Should be interesting at any rate.