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What have you been up to in April of 2011?


If you want to understand the blog and how it's laid out, go here.

Apr 30, 2011



Apr 30, 2011: Platform Masters crosses the halfway point and has its own domain name. Finalization of PM's design has started. I've dealt over a billion total damage in Disgaea 1 and I'm working on this kind of thing for Disgaea 2. I also had 2 vacations within only 29 days, a first. I might have a film crew coming. Might and Magic - my first known WRPG. The basement flooded. 36 new dreams recalled, one of which posted as a story (a first in 2 years). Livestream was attempted, but having technical problems. I may have a published question in Astronomy magazine's Ask Astro section. Various other ideas and things are also available.

#1 Platform Masters crosses the halfway point: During the last update, Platform Masters was only about 20% complete. Now, it's 50% complete. Back then, I had 3 channel ground, few layers, no terrain, no sloped platforms, no menus, no playability, textureless clouds, no high density or overcast clouds, almost nothing that I have now. I just had a massive design document and a considerable amount of the scenery finished, but only the bare minimums. Today, things are a lot different and looking back 10 months ago, I'm amazed as to just how far Platform Masters has come. Just think what Platform Masters will be like another 10 months down the road. I'll probably be making the game's levels, programming the story, using the overworld instead of the debug menu to select worlds, and you'll almost certainly see the game's real game play, besides just the test level. Audio is still limited at the moment, however.
,br> Platform Masters is starting to look like it was professionally made, to some extent. (I'm not a professional as I never went to college for this kind of thing, nor have I ever worked with real game designers.) Lake Keveran is currently the first and only world that is truly 100% complete in regards to the primary scenery. Only decals with the clouds when close to them and a darkening effect when deep underwater are missing. These don't count because multiple worlds have these effects. Outside this, it's not fully 100% complete on all aspects though - I have 17 levels to make (this can't be done for a long time yet), the terrain needs to be finished (only Ronnisa Plains has considerable progress on this, aside from worlds 1 and 2, and those with bottomless pits (like 6)), and the boss to design. Carnivalesta's main scenery is also very close to 100% complete - only the backdrop on the Explorer ride needs to updated, but this requires that the Sentus Mountains world is also 100% complete and it's only missing ground decals.

The ground now uses a 24-channel system. I still recall the days where I thought the 3-channel ground was impressive. I went to the 12-channel ground because of Sentus Reef (formerly called Keveran Reef). This was due to too much contrast with the layers when fog was applied. 8 channels were needed for the minimum contrast of 4. I went with 12 for quality. However, 12 channels required 2 hours of tedious, highly repetitive work of repeatedly cropping and scaling an image. Should I need to update or replace the texture, it's another 2 hours. Why did I go with 24 channels then when it would mean 4 hours of work instead? As I went by finalizing the plans, I realized that the 12-channel system just wasn't quite precise enough, especially when it came to roads. Instead of, however, manually doing it, I wrote a program to do it. I didn't with the 12-channel system because of a problem - I had no idea how to scale an image that wasn't an exact integer ratio (like 3 to 1 or 342 to 1). As a consequence, I otherwise couldn't do much of anything automatically. There was a way around it that I've known for a while - scale the image up then scale it down. That is, for an 87:64 ratio, I'd first scale the image up to 64 times the original size on both axes. This, however, for the size of the original that was I working with, would end up needing 96 GB of memory. No computer today that's commercially available (super computers don't count) has anywhere near 96 GB of memory. The highest I'm aware of today is 16 GB (maybe 32 GB, if 8 GB memory modules are out). One night, while in bed, I came up with the solution - a credits system. After all, determining the colors of the intended pixel upon scaling an image is nothing more than weighted average, like my fog and transparency formulas I've known since 2002. It was the distribution of weights beyond the first step that caused the lengthy delay. Once the programming was done and the bugs were fixed, it took about 7 hours to finally see the results in the game engine. The 24-channel ground system is 4 times better than the 12-channel system in regards to how the 3D effects are. The clouds are still much more advanced.

Creating terrain in Platform Masters


The terrain creation system has been added as well. This screenshot shows the relative progress on Ronnisa Plains and how the terrain itself actually looks. The physics of the motion was the tough part for this, especially bounce. Jumping was fairly easy to do. By looking at it at a deeper level, a bounce is essentially nothing more than a jump. This made the terrain functional as expected. There are still a few things that need to be ironed out and a few others that don't exist yet (such as behavior underwater). At first, I was only creating terrain from nothing every time I loaded the game engine. Once I wrote in the functionality for saving the terrain data, things went faster. After several enhancements, editing terrain got much easier and faster. It's only the great quantity needed that makes it take a while. Currently, Ronnisa Plains is the most complete for the worlds that use hilly terrain - about 38% complete. Worlds 1 and 2 have a perfectly flat ground all the way through since slopes don't get introduced until world 3. World 6 has no terrain at all along with world 16. These worlds are otherwise completed in regards to terrain. World 8 does have some terrain, but only in a small area. World 10 having a bottomless pit has been rejected so it'll have terrain all the way through. At least you'll get to see what it's like to glide from one mountain peak to another... time permitting of course.

However, when I last updated my site, terrain was impractical due to my 96 MB memory limitation. How did I open up the possibility of not only terrain, but sloped platforms? I figured out a solution to how to get an otherwise unlimited number of colors for the platforms. That way, instead of 250 images that are 1024x32, I only needed 8, of which has been shrunk to 512x32 for further optimization. How only 8 and 16,777,216 possible colors? It's the HSV system. I only need 8 base images - the primary (red, green, and blue) and secondary colors (cyan, magenta, and yellow) along with an all-white and all-black version. By varying the opacity of one of each of these (one primary color, one secondary color, the white, and the black), any color can be reproduced. Even with the introduction of sloped platforms, I'm using less memory than I was before. This saved memory is what allowed for the feasibility of not only terrain, but sloped platforms as well. The only downside to the HSV system is that platforms will often require 4 draws. With maybe 20 platforms visible at once at most (10 on average, except in open worlds like the Sentus Mountains where could easily be as few as 3 on average), the 80 draws won't be much (considering the clouds use nearly 1000 and the 24-channel ground uses about 100, much more than what the platforms will use.

During the last update, the menus didn't even exist. Today, I have the menus. There are still a few things though I need. The first is a simpler way to make edits to the menus. With 40 configuration settings, I'm going to need it done in a way so that it's easy to add in new elements. The second thing that needs to be done is the adding of textual input. I've already got numerical input working as expected. Without the overworld, I can't program the configuration settings in. Without levels outside my test level, some of them cannot be tested at all.

Because Platform Masters seems to be well known and popular on YouTube, I got a domain name for it, an easy one to remember (and spell) - platformmasters.com. This site is a lot like my main one, only a bit more professional-looking (not by much though). At least there's a handy navigation menu that my main site lacks.

What's this about finalization? Right now, should I make any changes to the scenery, especially adding more layers, it's getting to the point where it takes a long time to make the updates and correct any new bugs I encounter. In addition, by finalizing things, future updates will only be small, minor things that don't require a lot of updates in the game engine or drawing. If a considerable redo is needed, it's a lot of work to make the corrections so I'm going to need to finalize. Since I changed the grass texture and dirt textures, the mountains in the Sentus Mountains and all those hills I've done need to be redone, though only some. With that in mind, Ronnisa Plains' hills need to be redone to update the grass texture. The spacing for the closer hills also needs to be less so that they are less visible higher up - 6 layers are needed instead of 4.

What's this about spacing? Previously, I had the hills and mountains spaced very far apart. This causes the grassy ground to be visible between the layers with very little height producing an unrealistic appearance. To counter that, more layers are needed and the layers must be close together. How close? That depends on both the closest layer's size and the intended sizes of the levels with extra focus on the regular levels. For example, consider Carnivalesta. The regular levels may be about 4096 CU high for the most part. The supersize level may get up to 6144 CU. The closest of the hills start out with a scaling of 40. The next further ones are 42 (meaning that they are 200 feet further away). This means that, for every 42 pixels the closest layer of hills moves, the next further ones move 40, creating an offset as if they were 21 times further for the relative scaling difference. As per rules I've had in use since 2003 when it comes to making hills and mountains, the low point must be no less than 1/4 the height of the target highest point. That is, if I made the closest hills 20 pixels tall, the lowest point must be 5 pixels at the minimum (10 for the maximum). This means 105 pixels on the closest layer would be the maximum before the ground between the layers becomes visible. With the scaling at 40, this means 4200 CU is the height needed to see over their tops. By doing this, the scenery looks much more realistic for the main visible part of a level. However, since it's possible to jump a mile high (that's 36,000 CU), you'll inevitably see the ground between layers anyway. Countering this requires getting the spacing so that 384 pixels are needed instead of 105 making the hills and mountains need to be extremely close and need potentially double the number of layers which would, especially for the Sentus Mountains and a few other worlds, use too much memory. 96 MB is my maximum limit for all graphics. Train and Carnivalesta are already very close to this limit.

Lake Keveran's scenic remake


At least the finalization is producing amazing results. Just look at Lake Keveran in this gorgeous screenshot and you'll know what I mean. It's one of the prettiest settings in the entire game! There's even an awesome underwater visibility change effect. The opacity of the water's surface changes with distance as well, creating a very realistic effect. Yep, all this can be done with pure 2D and the extreme use of parallax scrolling. The regular levels are generally expected to only get to about 1536 CU above the water, the supersize level reaching, perhaps, 2560 or 3072 CU. These likely level sizes seem like random numbers, but they're all multiples of 512, which is my basis for estimating them. I won't know how big they can get until I start making levels. The estimates are based on my test level, of which spans about 1728x896 CU and is about half the size of the game's first levels and 30% the size of the game's later levels. It also doesn't account much for the other types of platforms, enemies, other game objects, and so forth. Still, it does help me get a rough idea on the sizes of levels I'm going to be having. At least the test level is bigger than the boss levels, much bigger.

Carnivalesta's detailed remake


Carnivalesta has undergone a huge change for the amount of detail it has. From the original starting of 2 layers of food and barker stands to 3 and now 6. From only a Ferris Wheel to 3 rides and now 7. From 1 animated ride to 2 and now 3. The roller coaster tracks are mostly unchanged, except for the obvious darkening at great heights. A hotel with a very large parking lot is beyond the carnival grounds. This parking lot and the lighting effect beyond are done through a new system I've recently added but had planned for about a year by now - ground decals. Ground decals work almost the same as that of the clouds, but are generally more sophisticated and more flexible but use the same potential number of draws as the clouds (if the entire scene was that of the clouds). Even the far away hills and mountains have changed. They are not only taller, but the lights are more realistic, the city is now 2 3/4 miles wide and the city even has a sky glow effect.

Ronnisa Plains' rainy remake


Ronnisa Plains was one of the first to undergo a big overhaul on the design. Instead of being just overcast or cloudy, the area has rain. World 16 has something like this too, only snow in the form of a blizzard. The 6-lane highway 800 feet to 900 feet from the camera is especially nice and detailed. Ronnisa Plains is, currently, only missing the grass effect, story-related decals, and the closest of the hills need to be closer to each other to better eliminate the gap between most of the levels. I would like not 2560 as they currently are based on, but 3072 or even 3584. This is due to the terrain offsetting it by 1024 for the high parts.

One thing still remains that hasn't changed since the last update - the character. I'm missing several states and because of this, some aspects cannot be reliably added, such as enemies or deaths beyond falling out. Deaths from falling out are very easy to deal with. Deaths from losing all HP, getting crushed, running out of time, and drowning are currently not possible due to the omission of needed character animation states. Running out of time deaths cannot be tested until actual game play becomes possible (of which is doable with my test level, though only the test level can be played, and repeatedly). The others, however, are possible, but only when I remake the character. There are several improvements I intend on making and this table highlights them well:

Platform Masters character improvement needs
StateComplexity*Current
quality
Stand1 - very easy
Wait3 - easy-medium
Walk†7 - very hard
Run†7 - very hard
Sprint† ‡7 - very hard
Super sprint† ‡7 - very hard
Stop2 - easy
Duck4 - medium
Look down4 - medium
Look up3 - easy-medium
Look forward2 - easy
Death5 - medium-hard
Drown‡4 - medium
Jump2 - easy
Fall2 - easy
Swim6 - hard
Tread‡4 - medium
Glide1 - very easy
Fall-glide1 - very easy
Bounce5 - medium-hard
Leviburst6 - hard
Speed blast**2 - easy
Float run**3 - easy-medium
Story stuff***X - variable


Table footnotes:
* Complexity is rated on a 0 (extremely easy) to 8 (extremely hard) scale. This includes both forming the shape, the animation, and perhaps casting.
** These states are uncertain as to whether or not I want to include them.
*** These states are a must-have, but they're exclusive to the story.
† The difference between walking, running, sprinting, and super sprinting is nothing more than the addition of another 2 frames of animation for each higher step. Walking is used for speeds 0 < x < 6, running uses 6 <= x < 24, sprinting spans from 24 <= x < 96, and super sprinting is for x >= 96.
‡ I currently don't have this state.

What's this about casting? Originally, I had the idea of using a punching fist, but this kind of thing is a bit too violent for my intended age group I'm after, plus, it also lacks range. A science-fiction-type beam gun was thought as well, working around the range case, but it's still considered too violent (the enemies are things like scorpions, spiders, biting flowers, cannons, ball-kicking clowns, and others). To make the game more kid-friendly, increasing the odds of an E rating from the ESRB, I decided to have casting instead, much like that of casting a spell. A sparkle appears from the character when this happens and, unlike my book, there's a zero-second charging time and spells don't travel at the speed of light. The usual bopping method still works though (that is, jumping on top of enemies). Allowing for casting to be animated, from the character sticking the arm out will make things rather difficult. Though undecided, I'm leaning toward making bopping twice as powerful as casting. Have a "power" stat of 3? You'll take 3 HP away from an enemy with casting, 6 with bopping it.

Lastly, on an interesting note, after looking at things more closely, I came to realize the immensity of the scenes. I've had "X vast, gorgeous worlds" in Platform Masters' about section for a long time, but I was amazed as just how vast the worlds really are. A typical level in world 1 might have a size of 3072x1024. World 6's levels might be around 5120x1536 CU. World 15's levels might be something like 8192x2048. The later the world, the larger the base level size usually is and they'll also take a bit longer, but tend to be more open as well. This is the area in which you generally interact with. However, this is just a reference to put the sheer size and scale of the landscapes into perspective. The terrain covers a span of not 8192 CU or even 65,536 CU, but a far out 2,097,152 CU. That's right, nearly 2.1 million CU, slightly more than 58 1/4 miles (93 3/4 kilometers). Nearly 700 of world 1's levels would fit side by side in that span. World 1, though, only has 16 levels spanning that. Indeed, levels are spaced out very far, a monstrous 115,200 CU on average (for my basis, 3600 blocks). This makes the area between levels pretty much empty space. There's actually a reason for that, and the game's story explains it. What about depth? The depth uses an inconsistent unit of measure for distinguishing - scaling units. The field of view controls this. I have it so that each scaling unit is 100 feet of distance. Since CU and feet can be converted using an 11:75 ratio (11 feet is exactly 75 CU), this means each scaling unit is 681 9/11 CU, exactly. Where would a 4096-CU span be on this? It's at a scaling of 6.00746667. So, standing on the far left side of the level and looking at the far right side, the furthest platforms would have a scaling of essentially 6. The highway in Ronnisa Plains is further away than that, let alone the closest layer of mountains in the Sentus Mountains. The Sentus Mountains has all objects from 2048 and beyond for their scaling invisible, due to too much distance. This means that the furthest you can see is 1,396,363 7/11 CU making the levels look very, very tiny. Seriously - 2,097,152 by 1,396,363 7/11 CU is mind bogglingly huge compared to the relatively tiny area that even the supersize levels have (this may be 12,288x6144 at the large end). What about the height? The Sentus Mountains has the highest point - 131,072 CU so even that is huge compared to the sizes of levels. That's about how far the levels are spaced apart, a bit further actually. When I first looked at and realized this, I was stunned and amazed! I had no idea that the worlds really were that vast. No 3D game I've seen or played even comes close to that kind of size scale and yet have it all visible at once. No kidding my claim of "vast" on the about page is correct. Looking at Lake Keveran and Carnivalesta sure makes "gorgeous" fit in as well.

#2 2 vacations within just 29 days: There's some that have like 8 or even 10 vacations in this kind of time frame (by my definition). There was a time not too long ago where I had zero vacations in an 8.1-year span. It was so long that I forgot what it was like to be on vacation (250 million seconds sure puts things in perspective). But, 29 days (less than a month) apart? That's just 2 1/2 million seconds. It's a first. In both cases, the location was nothing new - Minneapolis. One case was in to mid to late September, the other in mid to late October.

The first visit spanned from September 18 to 24 of 2010. This was when I had the better time, albeit only one day. The second visit was a rather dull one, and it spanned from October 17 to 24 of 2010. It got a bit better in the end though, but 2 days were especially boring. My sister was actually going to go on the second, but she couldn't get off of her work and thus, I ended up going the second time which obviously smashed all previous records.

The all-day ride there and back is really something. After all, 550 miles is an quite a long way to go to get there. I functioned as a navigator. We don't have GPS (what's the point of having it when you only go once a year (or don't go at all in 8 years)?), so we need to reference maps. With mom driving and me riding, I was helping her get there. Instead of those state highway maps, however, I have these DeLorme topographic maps. Picture the state maps fully folded out. Now, stretch it out to 5 times the size on each dimension, add in pretty much every gravel road, small pond, lake, etc. there are, and add contour lines and shading and you've got the kinds of maps I've been using. They're extremely helpful and it's the closest thing you can get to GPS without paying a fortune for that. Whenever I saw turns coming up or whenever she needed to stop at a reststop or get gas, I informed her of every possible location. Having studied how the US freeway system is designed by mere observation, I've learned how to find positions and determine distances and optimal routes quite easily. With the vehicle having an easily-visible compass present, that makes things so much easier. The town of St. Cloud about 85% of the way there (15% of the way back) is a real pain. It's so easy to get lost there should you take a wrong turn. I just remember that freeways do not have traffic lights like you'd find in the city. To avoid going through a city, do not take an exit. Do take an exit if you want to go into a city, such as for refueling or getting food. The problem with St. Cloud came from a split in the road, as this location in Google Maps shows. The case of getting lost ends up adding a half hour to the time it takes to get to the main destination.

One thing that I've noticed starting shortly before entering Minnesota (this is about 60% of the way there, 40% of the way back) is that tailgating is horrible. Think about it. You're traveling at 70 mph along the freeway (the typical speed limit). A car is about 20 feet behind you (seriously, that close). If you see a road block or obstacle that you need to suddenly stop for, such as a car collision that just occurs up ahead from something like a drunk driver or a blown tire) and you need to slam on the brakes to dodge it, that car 20 feet behind you has no room to stop and is thus going to crash into you. It's so dangerous that, should there be a cop nearby, the county could get rich quite fast from the police writing tickets, a lot of tickets. (Of course, if I was a cop, I'd only write a ticket if the driver has a mediocre or worse traffic record, giving a warning with little hesitation if the driver has a clean record.) Anyway, another common thing I encounter is that of other drivers tending to cut you off. At 70 mph, given the 2-second rule, you should be at least 200 feet away from the car in front of you. Other drivers see this rather large gap and figure that they can easily squeeze in. It's dangerous driving. I very rarely see this kind of thing in my area.

I, at least, went to the Renaissance Festival during this time (early in the September case). See the next headline for details, since there's a lot of them.

#3 The Renaissance Festival: While I went to Minneapolis in September of 2010, I visited the Renaissance Festival. At the time, I was thinking of Final Fantasy 12 and the katana. What is the Renaissance Festival? It's basically like going back in time to the 1500's or 1600's or something. You'll find a lot of the visitors and those in the attractions dressed up like these times. There were swordsmiths, blacksmiths, armor shops, weapon shops, and many other such things so it was kind of like a real life Final Fantasy... minus the monsters and battles. There were several attractions and shows around too, most of which were free (the admission fee likely covers it in part). Then again, they supposedly have a sword fight type attraction. I never got to see it or anything like it though.

The parking was in a huge grassy lot outside. There were 2 entrances, gate A and gate B. If I recall, I entered gate B. I also remember a "1492" sign for a marker that indicates where we parked. The location itself is to the south and west of where I originally started from, roughly 25 or so miles. At the gate, there were ATMs to the side (I've actually never used an ATM, as I don't carry or bother to use cash). There were 4 lines. 2, I think, took cash. One took checks and the other took credit and/or debit cards. The fee was $14 which wasn't too bad, especially since I was there all day and it was a wonderful time, far from my best times though (that was YMCA camp in 1997, and also, a close second, the summer of 2000). Past the gate, there were castle paintings on cardboard (or something), as if I was about to enter a castle.

Parking lot of Minnesota's Renaissance Festival


Photo #1: This is what the parking lot looked like from near the gates. Just look at all those cars!

Interior of Minnesota's Renaissance Festival 1


Photo #2: I went around looking at the various shops they had. There were real swords, spears, bows, battle axes, armor, and all that present. There was even a shop that had wands and staves, for the wizard types. I didn't buy anything, since the costs were rather high. I did, however, get to hold a replica of a katana (not the real thing; since that was one thing I was interested in, after Final Fantasy 12 and Vaan going berserk on Yiazmat). The place was very crowded and there were a lot of destinations. I'm unsure on how big the place is, but it's about 20% of a square mile to the best of my knowledge.



Interior of Minnesota's Renaissance Festival 2


Photo #3: There are dozens of stands all around with tons of trees surrounding the entire area, some within the area (good for shade, when needed).

Interior of Minnesota's Renaissance Festival 3


Photo #4: Here a few of the food shops and the various flags you'll see in the area (kind of reminds you of Carnivalesta in Platform Masters, doesn't it?).

Amythist crystal


Photo #5: There was something that I did buy, however. It's a rock. Rocks may not seem exciting, considering you can find them on the ground all the time. This one, however, is special. It's an amythist and I've got it on display in my room. It's a very pretty rock and a fairly large one (it weighs around 4 ounces (give or take 2 ounces for my standard 95% certainty - I'm horrible at estimating weights)). It's not gemstone material, but still, it's a pretty sight to look at.

The fortune teller stand in Platform Masters' Carnivalesta came from my experience at the Renaissance Festival. In the actual thing that I saw, there was a tent with "tarot reader" or something on it. You had to schedule an appointment and they had 15-minute intervals. It cost $35. I'm skeptical of this kind of thing. Despite that, I was thinking of visiting one (I was unaware of the cost at that time) just to find out how accurate they really are. Although I don't know the details on how tarot card reading works (how many cards there are, the meaning and interpretation of the cards, how many get laid out, etc.), but there's statistics to consider. I'm guessing 80 cards and 3 get laid out. The odds of getting all 3 to line up with the actual outcome are stacked up against you - 1 in 80 for the first card, 1 in 79 for the second, and 1 in 78 for the third. That's a 1 in 492,960 chance, fairly close to that of getting a royal flush in Poker (that's, 1 in 680,000 or so though my calculations point to a 1 in 77,968,800 (that's for the initial deal, not the subsequent replacement that follows), odds in the realm of lotteries). Still, for a test, and an initial experience, it shouldn't be too bad.

The only thing I didn't like about the Renaissance Festival was the fact you had to pay cash with pretty much everything - no debit or credit card, no checks (hardly anything in the Minneapolis area takes checks), nothing but cash. It made it so difficult to get anything since I otherwise never carry cash, just a lot of coins. Then again, there was one place that I got drinks from that needed coins. They only took quarters so I couldn't get rid of the dimes and nickles I had stocked up. Yep, a 32-ounce drink costing a very high $3.50 drink paid in 14 quarters. I gave extra quarters in exchange for some ones. That was one of my favorite parts.

I watched 2 shows while there. One of them was a magic show. Looking to the laws of physics, I wasn't impressed. Separate rings to form a chain? There's a barely-visible slit in them to allow them to get connected. A news paper pouring water? Paper can hold water so it's just a matter of forming a properly-shaped funnel out of the paper. Then again, the paper could have a hidden lining that contains the water. At least the show was nicely done.

The other show was that of a hypnotist. This was strange and also very boring. It was the most boring part of the show. I got stuck watching it though as I couldn't look at other areas. It was also quite mysterious and one of the things I couldn't explain... other than, perhaps, the 10 that were on the stage were actually knowingly doing the weird things they often did, as from being a part of the team (yep, it's another one of the tricks I'm aware of, often the case in magic shows).

Whenever I did get separated from my group, I used my old quotation from 1997's YMCA camp. "High elevation is the best elevation. The higher, the better the view!" So, I jumped up onto the benches and even picnic tables that were around to get extra height to see over the crowd and look for my group.

What did I eat at the Renaissance Festival? Very little actually. The costs are so high. I could get one of my 1-1/2-pound Tombstone pizzas for only 50% more. When I did eat, however, I ate cinnamon twists. I couldn't get cinnamon rolls as they always had frosting on them and I hate the frosting (it has a huge negative effect on the taste to me). At least the cinnamon twists had the option of being essentially 100% plain (the laws of physics forbid a true 100% on anything). I only had 2 total, costing $5. In a way, it's a good thing I ate before leaving and, thanks to often dull and uninteresting lunches during my school days, I built up a fairly strong resistence toward extended periods without eating so it's fairly easy for me to hold off eating for a large chunk of the day.

#4 Disgaea 1 - 1 3/8 billion total damage: When I first played Disgaea, I didn't see how it was even possible to do a billion total damage or even 8-figure damage in one hit. During the last update, I had 200 million total damage, just barely starting to see consistent 8-figure damage. Once I got that wizard (Freeze) fully transmigrated and got 3 INT-perfected items (2 super robo suits and a hyperdrive) to go with it, I was easily doing 18 million damage in a single hit, which really surprised me. I also upgraded from mega star to giga star, offering only 7% more damage (from calculations) and got the skill to level 99, which took about 15 to 20 hours of endlessly casting it on an invincibility pyramid while on an "attacks+2" effect. While waiting for the effects, I worked on Platform Masters' title image or various other things.

1 3/8 billion total damage in Disgaea Hour of Darkness


While I was leveling up a super robo suit for another character (a wizard of all things), I encountered a setup that finally allowed for me to cross over a billion total damage. It took a half hour to move pyramids and enemies around to do it, but, once done, I was off. It turns out that I managed to get a little more than 1 3/8 billion total damage - the number was so long that it didn't even fit on the screen! As of the time of this update, I'm consistently doing 23 million damage in a single hit (46 million with magic boost), 10% more than this. I've also got another Super Robo Suit available (on someone else, a relative weakling) that I could transfer over for even more. The next step, I guess, is 2.15 billion total damage. Why that number instead of just 2 billion? It's roughly the upper limit of a signed 32-bit integer. If more damage than this is possible, then 4.3 billion is next. If even that can be exceeded, then the real maximum, 67 3/4 billion or so, is the ultimate goal but that's probably decades down the road. As of the time of this update, if I got a similar setup to this, I would easily be able to get 2 billion total damage as I have several wizards available (and magic is the key to dealing extreme total damage).

In addition to the extreme damage, I also, after over a year, finally finished Disgaea 1's story for the first time. I was doing over 20 million damage to every single boss in the game. A battle I was supposed to lose was something I'd have never expected. At the moment, my main fighter (a divine majin) is essentially invincible at this point, thanks to the 5 million DEF I've had at one point. It literally takes a +5 combo from level 9999 flaming dragons for them to even start doing damage. Even Uber Prinny Baal is having a hard time doing any considerable damage. Only Prinny Barrage (sp.?) is capable of doing damage, and that's only if I don't bother stealing the weapon. If I didn't get to such extreme power and I encountered a battle that I just couldn't win, I'd go back and level up more until I could handle that battle. What battle is it? It's the one with the huge flaming dragon that splits into 10 smaller ones - I got nearly 200 million total damage from that one. As I advanced the story, I threw in a few cases of Uber Prinny Baal and with my wizard always doing 20+ million damage, its 12 million HP is so low that I could always one-hit it.

#5 A documentary about me!? Wow!: During the summer of 2011, a film crew (sorry, the name of the company that's doing this is classified) might be coming to make a documentary about me. Details are vague at the moment, but this is definitely a first for me. It all happened by chance too. One day, I was doing my daily check as usual and, out of nowhere, I got this E-mail and it started from that.

#6 A major drinks problem: With the Coca Cola Company recently discontinuing both "Minute Maid Light Cherry Limeaid" and "Minute Maid Light Raspberry Passion", and the Pepsi company refusing to stock "Tropicana Sugar Free Lemonade" in my area (and considering I'd buy as many as 24 at once, enough to last about 45 days (36 is the max I can get - I don't have room for any more)), I'm now otherwise left with a much lesser liked drink, and it's the only thing I've got left - the somewhat disliked "Minute Main Light Lemonade" that often requires me to go to multiple stores in town just to get enough to last 2 weeks (that's 7 12-can packs' worth). As a consequence, I'm not drinking as much as I used to. I used to have 6, 7, or even 8 of those 12-ounce cans a day, but now I have 4 or 5, rarely 6. I'm even holding back on getting a drink until my throat gets quite dry because of the low compatibility.

I'm really getting desperate for something else. Powerade and Gatorade (of which I last had in 2005 or something) is too high in sugar (there's no need for 17 grams of sugar for each 1 cup serving) and the bottles cannot get recycled (the local recycle center won't take them, one of the reasons I stopped Powerade and Gatorade). Orange juice and apple juice, though liked, have to be refrigerated and I hate cold drinks and they don't last for the months I need (1 month is the bare minimum). Plain water is tasteless and thus dull so I need flavored drinks.

One thing that would help would be an online store that would ship to my area. Of course, I can understand if they don't ship pizzas, milk, eggs, etc., since they have to be refrigered or frozen, but my drinks don't have those restrictions. Thus, there shouldn't be problems shipping 24 cases of the Tropicana Sugar Free Lemonade to my area, even if I have to buy it from New York or California. They have shelf lives measuring in months and don't require refrigeration or to be frozen so there shouldn't be any problems with it coming all the way to where I live. Yet, I only see grocery stores that ship within the local area only or, occasionally, only within the state. Nothing I've seen ships nonperishables nationwide and that's pretty much what I'm after. Technically, everything is perishable, but 5 months is huge compared to 4 hours with frozen stuff and maybe 12 hours for things like milk (being left out in the elements). The only time I found one was from a bar-like place (these are the kinds of places I never visit) but you had to pay $9.95 for what I could get for $5, and that's without shipping.

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

#7 Disgaea's Frozen River - new second place record: From December 6 at 12:10 AM until December 19 at around 11:00 AM, I listened to Disgaea's "Frozen River" song (as I call it, after the name of the area where this is first encountered) at 56% true speed. This is 13 1/2 days of the same song and speed which puts it in second place. It's a distant second to my first place record of 17 days though. It's been a long time since those records were touched anyway.

#8 Lost and found - Missy: It's a friendly monster, it's fuzzy, it's warm, it has a carniverous apetite (though it eats carrots and bread), it belongs to my family. It's Missy, one of my dogs. On August 2, 2010, she somehow slipped outside and otherwise got lost. It wasn't until August 3 that she was found, in a marsh to the east of my house. She was very matted, bad smelling (my sense of smell is very weak, but the odor was quite strong to me), hungry, thirsty, and very dirty. I was getting afraid that she got ran over by a car. She was found as dad went to work 2 full days after she disappeared. Very shortly after she disappeared, we had posters printed up detailing it. It was a close call, but at least she was unhurt.

Yes, you read that fourth word right - monster. I call anything that is not the same species I am that moves under its own power (most plants don't move under their own power) a monster.

#9 My question selected in Astronomy magazine: I've had a close case once, with the LHC and why they can't go over 7 TeV power as is (and the consequences if they attempted for 30 TeV). This case is much closer, to the point where I may have one of my questions posted in the "Ask Astro" section of Astronomy magazine, one of the 2 magazines I subscribe to (Scientific American is the other). What's the question? It involves one of my favorite parts of astronomy - steller classification. Even my book has a bit of detail on this in scene 14 (there's a reference to an F8 star). My question? It involves how astronomers can get the steller classification as precise as they do. Given that it seems these magazines are 3 months behind (from submission to the press to the time you get it in the mail), it may not be until July or so before you see it (the August 2011 issue), if you do.

What is stellar classification? There are essentially 3 parts to it. Take our own star that hovers from 92 to 94 million miles away, the Sun. It's considered a G2V star. The first a broad span, indicated by a letter. I'm unsure what the letter stands for (a specific word for example), but I know the order. It's based on color, of which is based on increasing temperature: M, K, G, F, B, A, then O. There are some others, like N and R, but these are otherwise unknown to me. The second part is a fine adjustment and is in the form of a number from 0 to 9. The higher the number, the cooler the star. In other words, G2 is hotter than G7. My book mentions F8 and being 4 "notches" hotter than the Sun. The next step higher on the scale than G0 is F9. F8 is just another step hotter. That's where that phrase comes from. The third part is the stage of the solar cycle the star is in and uses a Roman numeral. The greater this number is, the later the star is in the sequence. I think it stops at VII, for stage 7, a star that's probably a white dwarf or something. V stands for main sequence, of which is where our own star is. I is special though as lower case letters often follow, though I'm not entirely certain on the exact meaning.

#10 Disgaea 2 - not as good as the first: Loving Disgaea 1 to an extreme (remember the 625 hours in 3 months and 850 in 5 1/3?), I thought I was going to like Disgaea 2 a lot. It turns out that Disgaea 2 was much less liked than the first. With the lack of statistician specialists (and the fact you have to advance the story in order to even get the EXP bonus), leveling up has been very slow... until I gained access to the Land of Carnage which kind of makes up for it. Except for my thief (since it seems that level 7000 is needed in order to be able to steal from level 9999 enemies), I've never had any characters over level 3000 because it takes so long to level up. Clone wars is my primary way to level up in Disgaea 1, but, in Disgaea 2, it's only good for wizards, skill mastery, and especially HL. Cave of Ordeal 4 is better and a lot faster. When I last got bored of Disgaea 2 (working on Platform Masters took over), I was getting rank 40 items, the omniscient rod being the first (since staff mastery means bigger damage along with magic skill mastery).

So, what do I like about Disgaea 2? Here's my top 5 list:

5. Range extreme. Spells go out 9 panels, but a fist going out 4? A bow with 7 (8 on my archer)? Weapons with that kind of range make them even more effective.

4. Level 200 items. It takes a long time and a lot of quitting and reloading to get that, but I've done it.

3. Effect disabling. 9 seconds to cast giga star? 17 seconds to cast tera star? It's more like a half second now for all spells.

2. Top down view. I can finally see a pyramid hidden in a pit and see where I'm about to throw an enemy (so I don't unexpectedly end up throwing one into the base panel, causing everyone in it to die as I've had happen in Disgaea 1 because I couldn't see the base panel). This, however, is annoying in that you can't execute actions while in the top down view.

1. Counter-counter-counter-counter-counter-counter-counter-counter! When a character has a counter of 5 or higher (the best I can get is 7 since I don't have any human character classes that start with a counter of 2) and attacks one of those bushin-type enemies (I don't know what these are, I don't have access to them) that has a fist equipped, a very long chain of counter attacks begins and boy do I mean long. When I first saw this, I was laughing like crazy.

There's a lot of things I don't like about Disgaea 2. Here's my top 10 list for this:

10. RES heals, not INT. This is annoying and it makes healing almost ineffective without needing to be on an "attack+2" type effect. It makes my wizard (Maladroit) who can now do nearly 20 million damage with star magic only heal about 400,000. It took 300 game play hours to finally realize that it was RES that controls the healing, not INT as it traditionally is with RPGs (though other RPGs, like my 2D RPG, may have "magic attack" or "magic power" instead of INT (intelligence)). 400,000 may seem like a lot, but when you've got 4 million HP and have a lot of dangerous "ally damage 20%" or "damage 20%" pyramids around, it's too tiny. I only raised RES because it's a defensive stat.

9. Enemies have immunities to elements and certain special skills. This forces me to have to use star magic on absolutely everything, defeating the usefulness elemental benefits that come with the elemental resistance increases. This would be much closer to the worst if it wasn't for some usefulness in this - skill mastery like big bang on your own ally dragon (which will only get 0's) and it's only one class of enemy that's affected (and monster enemies only).

8. Can't get EXP bonuses without considerable story progress. At first, this design change really made Disgaea 2 a major disappointment. However, power in Disgaea comes almost entirely from specialists and equipment rather than level. The exception is HP, but even then, fill a character up with 3 perfected cosmos muscle items of matching rarity to a rank 40 weapon and reach level even 500, and 10 million HP is easily yours, so much that it seems infinite. My wizard has 8 million INT with the perfected omniscient rod that he has. Now, once I get 4 items with matching rarity (only 2 at the moment), and gain access to super robo suits and the like, that 8 million will likely climb to around 14 million or so. Throw in a 5 maxed tutor specialists and 14 million goes up to 16 million or still more yet. Still, I've got a level 7000 thief even without the exp bonuses (that's actually only halfway to 9999 by exp) and I've got 3 or 4 characters already 1/3 of the way to being maximally reincarnated and could easily max them out within about 200 hours thanks to Land of Carnage. It's only reaching level 9999 that will take a very long time once I finally maximally reincarnate.

7. Guns are pretty much worthless. When range is extended for any other type of weapon (except monster weapons since they're always fixed at 1 panel), it is entirely possible to get targets at a diagonal. Guns don't have this - they are straight lines only which makes them almost worthless.

6. No hyperdrive. This means I'm stuck having to really focus on getting extreme movement and equipment that really increases movement. I've got pretty much every character loaded up with angel's sandals, otherwise never using armor. Movement is so critical to me. I can't stand a movement of just 3 for a wizard, or 5 for Adell. Even the 20 that my bastet (to be a white dragon, since I see that the enemy version can go through things) has isn't quite enough for things. At least there aren't any ridiculously far away islands so every enemy can be hit.

5. Enemies defeated with bows often turn into chests. While this may be nice early on, it's annoying, very annoying. At first, I thought it was an innate special skill with the thief, but upon seeing one of my healers doing it (which also had a bow), that's when I realized that it was bows doing it.

4. Can't throw (invincibility or reverse damage) pyramids at enemies to bust them. I've become quite dependent on this with Disgaea 1 whenever invincibility pyramids interfere. Disgaea 2 makes this worse with a similar "reverse damage" pyramid which is pretty much like invincibility in my case for the most part.

3. The zoom always defaults to the very closest (if it doesn't already glitch out in the first place). I like the far out zoom, but even this is still rather close. The very far out zoom that I occasionally get when I return from the item world is the kind of zoom I'd like to use at all times, being nearly as good as the top-down view.

2. Pyramids move on their own. This is because a few have a "rabbit" under them. This is very annoying and makes things especially difficult when dangerous pyramids are all over (damage 20%, clone, ally damage 20%, critical, etc.) and there are no panels around not affected by geo effects.

1. Enemies frequently use special skills, even if they have no chance of dealing damage to my characters. This design change makes clone wars less effective and more dangerous. This makes me want to use the dimension gate more instead of clearing floors. Special skills can't be countered which takes the fun out. Enemies in Disgaea 1, except bow (zielregen only) and ax (graviton bomb only) users, always using physical attacks on my allies, allowing for counterattacks so I can quickly clear floors and level up. They only use special skills if the DEF stat is low enough so that they have at least some chance of dealing damage, of which occurs around the 200,000 area (I've got 3+ million).

From my first Disgaea 2 videos, you may have thought that item 8 should be closer to being number 1. It was either number 2 or number 1 on the list. Once I began getting rank 39 items leveled up and now rank 40 items are being obtained, this is dropping further down the list. It'll just mean I'd have to reincarnate at a much lower level than usual and when I do fully reincarnate a character (from 186,000 total levels (I'm about 1/3 of the way there)), reaching level 9999 will take a very long time. Why don't I advance the story? I'm not the kind of player that plays RPGs for their story. I'm an extreme powerleveler. Disgaea 1 is pretty much my dream RPG. Where am I in Disgaea 2's story? I'm supposed to be playing the third battle in chapter 1. When the item world became available, all story progress stopped. Now I'm just starting 8-figure damage, but I'll still be quite a while before I bother finishing Disgaea 2's story. I may have originally said doing 8-figure damage consistently, but I've decided to push it back considerably. After all, it was 1200 hours into Disgaea 1 that I finally advanced that game's story to the end. Disgaea 2 may be similar.

#11 "That stuff down there is oo-oo ba-loo": It's a song I've recently had stuck in my head for now about 7 months. It's 24 measures, has a tempo of 125, and has this for the lyrics:

"Th-th-th-th-that stuff down there is oo-oo ba-loo!
T-t-t-t-to go in blue water, go oo-oo down!
T-t-t-t-to avoid blue water, go oo-oo up!
Th-th-th-th-there's a fox at the oo-oo bottom of the oo-oo ba-loo!"

It's themed after the one thing I enjoy most in the Genesis era Sonic games that's impossible to do in today's games: abusing Tails, especially drowning him. To drown Tails, you have to get him into the water of which is almost always blue, very blue, in the Genesis games. Ironically, I strongly dislike songs with lyrics, typically having a -10 affector.

#12 From 6 to 5, then back to 6: On November 14, 2010, Jenna, my oldest dog, died. She was going past 14 years and 5 months old. She was blind and nearly deaf. The last 2 years of her life was spent mostly just lying around, becoming more frequent later on. The day before her death, she was unusually stiff and seemed to be completely unresponsive. She was moving, but it was in sudden jerks, like epilepsy. Just before, she fell down the stairs in the garage and took 3 hours to find because she was well-hidden. I miss the glory days she had though - running around, chasing cats, ripping up chew toys, and other such things.

For a while, I was down to 5 dogs, the oldest of which was roughly 10 years younger. On February 12, 2011, I got a new dog, taken from one of my sister's older friends apparently due to allergy problems. We were to babysit it for 9 days as a test, but with the allergies otherwise gone, we're now back to 6 dogs. The new one is currently the youngest, but it's roughly 35 pounds, 2 1/2 times heavier than the next heaviest dog. I don't know what breed it is and this isn't an area I specialize in (biology is my least favorite field of science).

#13 A yellowish-green gelantious unknown - annoying: This has been something that's been going on for about 2 years by now and it's extremely annoying. While I'm sleeping, there's about a 10% chance each sleep-wake cycle of mine that this will happen. When it does happen, I'm otherwise forced to wake up and take care of the mess. What's the problem? I wake up to a sticky, yellowish green (hue 100°, saturation 70%, value 80%), gelatinous substance in my underwear. I've been thinking I'm piddling in my underwear, much like 1-year-olds often do (only in diapers). I have no idea why this is happening. How to stop it? That I don't know either. At least it's rare, but I would like it to stop. I don't know what's different that I'm doing that's causing this to happen.

#14 FF12 again - 2 tests I wanted and a GameFAQs close call: During late June going into early August then a short come around for the remainder of August, I played FF12. I was originally after 2 things. The first was attempting to go for really high HP and MP. I eventually got Vaan to have 6613 HP and 300 MP, when everyone else that came was much lower. I was thinking that, if Vaan had high HP and MP, everyone else I get would also have high HP and MP, so I made use of the 70-hour method to do it, of which took 85 hours due to the fact I had to get to a save crystal to save immediately before leveling up in order to get the HP and MP as high as I could. HP and MP are randomly determined and repeated replays from quitting and reloading yield different results each time - by keeping the best of these, I was able to get Vaan with 6613 HP (1000 from licenses) and 300 MP. Unfortunately, every character I got afterward were only based on the average.

The second test I wanted to do was to see if I could get a 50-hit quickening. I wondered if it was possible to get extra mist charges from obtaining espers. I figured that, if an esper required 2 mist charges to summon and I only had one mist charge from the quickening needed to get the burning bow. It turns out, that was possible. However, it wasn't until I was I starting to get espers that required 3 mist charges that I was able to really say that 50-hit quickenings were certainly possible. I eventually get a video of a 35-hit quickening and worked out that 96 is the best possible.

From my FF12 experiences, I wrote a guide on GameFAQs for powerleveling. Initially, I had a lot of trouble due to false statements. I was going off memory at the time and didn't bother to check the guide I used. Upon seeing the numerous complaints, I went by and fixed it and double checking things through a second reread. For a moment, I was very worried. I was getting E-mails stating of complaints on the accuracy of the guide. I never saw these complaints so I wouldn't have known. There are still a few errors present, but these are things I can't get from the Brady Games Strategy guide I was using as my primary source of information. The shops are the main thing. Consider the case with the Barheim Passage. When you first visit the shop, you only get low-end stuff. However, late in the game, you get access to high end stuff, including a spell you otherwise cannot get anywhere else. The guide lists everything based on the end of the game, not the beginning which will inevitably lead to some errors. Updates will be made to the guide eventually, but I need to regain my motive for playing FF12. Disgaea and Platform Masters tower over it.

When I do return to FF12, I intend on redoing the "how to get level 99 fast & early" video series. The ones currently available on YouTube are 2 years old and are of a very inefficient method. 50 hours was good? It can be done in 40 hours without dustia. With dustia and Hermes' Sandals, even 30 hours might be possible. I thought 100 hours was good for getting level 99 early, but it can be done in 70 hours is decent without dustia. It's where I get "40-hour method" and "70-hour method" from. The video I have on YouTube doesn't even cover the 70-hour method. It also doesn't cover the obtaining of near-top-rank equipment once the dawn shard is obtained. My GameFAQs guide covers all this. The remake of that video will cover all this as well.

#15 Might and Magic - my first WRPG: When I first played Might and Magic Gates to Another World (referred to as simply "Might and Magic"), I thought it was another Japanese-originating RPG like Final Fantasy, Ultima Exodus, and Disgaea. It was only when comments started coming in shortly after I uploaded my first video that I learned that Might and Magic was Western-originating (supposedly meaning in the US). I first played early last year and it was very difficult to get started. Any time I got poisoned, diseased, or characters died, I no choice but to press the reset button and try another battle. I had no known way to remove these status effects and essentially no gold. I restarted the game from the beginning and ended up with the setup I had for a long while - 4 clerics (since you were so easily defeated) and 2 barbarians (for dealing big damage and absorbing damage from treasure chest traps). I focused heavily on End (and, for the clerics, Int, not knowing that it was actually the "Per" stat that affected them (it's a word I can't use)). With this party, things were a bit better, though not much.

Once I gained the first level, things got a bit better, since I wasn't dying as often. Still, I couldn't get rid of poison, disease or dead status so any time these occurred (dead was much less likely, unless frequently paralyzed), I still had to reset and retry. It wasn't until level 5 that I had access to "cure poison" so that poison status was no longer a problem. Level 7 gave me access to "cure disease" and level 9 otherwise eliminated all status effect problems, except dead, stoned, and eradicated. Today, I can fix anything except eradicated - I have no clue what the cure is for that or if there even is a cure. "Eradicated" means "gotten rid of", or "gone", pointing to the status effect being completely unrecoverable.

However, by around level 5, I was needing to look for other places to gain levels more quickly as a otherwise huge amount of experience was needed to level up, a fairly good fraction of a million. I found some, but there were far too many enemies - the merchant meeting is one example - 250 merchants. I stood no chance against it. Then, just outside Vulcania, I found something that kind of worked - the goblins. There are occasional ambushes of 20 of them. I could handle that, but it was fairly close.

By level 7, I learned of the use of Max HP Potions, of which add 512 to the maximum HP. Trouble is, any time I rested, the potions would have no effect. Power cure was the solution. To work around the SP issue, I found a fountain that gives 200 SP to everyone. This way, I could just endlessly cast "power cure" to restore HP to the maximum, clear out to 9000. I thought Might and Magic had a maximum HP limit of 9999, like I was familiar with in Final Fantasy. I had no idea it could go to 65,535. I didn't use skill potions as I was unaware of using this method to accelerate the healing. Yep, it really did take a long, long time to heal everyone clear out to 9000. When I did, I found considerably faster ways to level up. Bozorc the orc was a common one I used, for getting better equipment. I often ended up with "wrong alignment" notices and took a long time before I learned what this meant. Not all items had this though. After a bit, I found "white knight", on the islands north of Atlantium. At 4000 experience for just 3 and the fact I could get the 4000 exp quite fast, it was pretty good. I eventually reached level 17 this way. This leveling up and long runs of healing continued on for a long time. However, my Sega Genesis controller was acting goofy and made me select things I didn't want selected. I ended up having to stop playing. This was around level 17. The fact it took 2 to 3 hours of constant healing really had a negative effect as well.

Once I got a new controller, on April 12, 2011, I went at Might and Magic again. Shortly after, I learned how to make use of skill potions to greatly accelerate the healing process from 2 hours to about 15 minutes. This made playing much more motivating. I continued the white knights for a bit longer then I went around looking for a better place. It was once I began exploring the elemental fields that I found the answer - air elemental. 60,000 exp for just 2 and they only did physical attacks. I was very impressed as to how fast it was. This was about the time I recorded my first video of Might and Magic. I reached a bit past level 30 or so at this point, taking about 15 minutes to gain a level. It went quite well, but it soon began taking too long to level up.

At level 34 or so, I created a knight then a sorcerer. I got these leveled up quickly and began exploring the usefulness of some of the sorcerer spells. One spell that I couldn't get that I was interested in was the "enchant item" spell. I couldn't use it for a long time.

With leveling up going really slow, I began exploring the various dungeons beneath towns. I found one cave in the open that allowed a character's speed to increase. The most important one, however, was the one in Vulcania. This area raised endurance. It was quite an interesting layout, resembling a bad Tetris setup (one where you're bound to lose due to the stack being so high). Once I found the area that raises endurance, I just made use of the teleport spell in future cases to quickly get to the location (found near the upper right corner along the east edge). Endurance appears to stop increasing when it got into the 50's so I had no choice but to stop. With a higher endurance came faster HP growth each level up.

What about the "enchant item" spell? Gemmaker volcano had it. I went around exploring the entire area, but there was one area I couldn't get into. Teleport didn't work. The only thing that did was "etherealize". When I got it, I was going through gems and SP like crazy, but it really powered up items. To counter the gems problem, there was an area in gemmaker volcano that has 500 gems - repeatedly visiting it allowed for easy accumulation of gems. That fountain I learned of for healing everyone to the max countered the SP problem. I was, thus, able to enchant pretty much any item to +63. This is the time where Might and Magic really took off. From only around 20 damage per hit, I was doing 80.

Still, I had the problem of leveling up. The speed-raising cave was next visited, but due to an enemy called "ninja", of which can cause instant death to a character, I didn't go far with it.

I eventually found a much, much better place to level up. Even to today, I haven't found anything better. I was suggested the cuisinarts, but they're far, far more dangerous and troublesome than the area I use and still use today. What is it? It's the dragon's dominion found northwest of Vulcania. One enemy present here, ancient dragon, was worth a stunning 3,333,333 exp for every character, along with 1,666,666 gold and 166 gems. That was practically half of an entire level up's worth. It appears to have 5000 HP so, at first, it was a very long battle, needing 6 to 8 battle rounds. With the unlimited HP trick, from Max HP Potions, I had no problem with it and otherwise found it easy at level 36 or so. After defeating it and otherwise exploring the dragon cave, I found a fountain that allows you to endlessly accumulate HP (for the maximum too) so I used it repeatedly. I shot through the rest of the 30's, all the 40's, 50's, 60's and 70's in barely 3 hours when it took me 5 days just to get the first 10 levels. I zipped through the 80's, and 90's and thought I was just about to max out at level 99. Surprisingly, when I got done training, I had level 110. 110!? I was thinking that this was a precursor to the Disgaea series! Level 127 was the next most likely (after a signed 8-bit variable) but I zipped past that. 255 was the next most likely after that (after an unsigned 8-bit variable). I thought that, if that didn't work, then I'd need to go clear out to 999 (after the display room limit). I eventually found out that 255 was the limit, though the needing of 3 billion exp was huge oddity, since I was only needing 6 million for the most part. I thought that there was a level 256. I resumed exploring the caves and dungeons getting speed boots from the ice cavern (if I recall), and I soon found a coin slot where I could buy exp. This was before level 255 was reached.

Once I reached level 255, having accelerated the process to the point where I could get 6.75 million exp and 3.33 million gold in 46 seconds on average (my fastest run was 44.7 seconds for a while). That's 8.8 million exp a minute, or about 1 1/2 levels a minute. I was getting so much gold that I didn't know what to do with it. I figured that I should use that coin slot to buy exp with the gold. This makes it easy to max out characters' exp and get that 3 billion exp needed. When I did, I was thinking I was going to get level 256, but instead, I gained the ability to train infinitely. It's through this that I learned of Might and Magic's real HP limit - 65,535 (after a 16-bit unsigned integer).

As of today, I have 7 characters maxed out - the 4 clerics I started with, one of the barbarians I started with, the knight, and, most recently, the sorcerer that gave me the huge boost I needed. The ninja is about to go on the bench as well. I'm now after trying out the other character classes. I brought a ninja in and mysteriously does 8000 damage on occasion (a bit over 9000 once). I brought in a Paladin (which is basically a cross between a knight and a cleric). I thought that a Paladin would have healing magic available, after Ultima, but found that it didn't... at first. After a single round of the dragon cave, that paladin and ninja were level 20. From level 20 came levels at an extreme rate. With the clerics gone, I had to get a replacement. The sorcerer also got replaced and had to reobtain the "enchant item" spell. When the knight went on the bench, it got replaced with a robber. My ninja is now about to go on the bench and when that happens it's trying out the archer class, the last remaining class.

As of today, I've sped up the process to needing only 43 seconds on average (42.4 is my current fastest). There are 3 things that I have yet to understand. Is it possible to remove the "eradicated" status or, as the word suggests, is that character permanently gone meaning I'd have to delete him/her and create a new one to replace it (or reset and reload, losing unsaved progress while doing this)?

The second unknown is, once the character starts doing about 15 hits, I notice that he/she tends to stop doing the maximum possible number of hits. Every character class seems to have this. Knights, barbarians, and paladins strike 64 times but regularly average only 32. Raising accuracy and/or luck has no effect. The "arms master" skill has no effect. Is it possible for these character classes to do all 64 hits and fairly consistently like I get when only 10 hits are being made? Whether I'm facing the powerful ancient dragon or a simple goblin, it's very rare to see anything in the 40's for hits, let alone all 64. Still, 3000 damage is truly crazy, but I could be doing 5000 damage with the knight and barbarians. The ninja? 52 hits but averages 20 for some strange reason, instead of the expected 26. The clerics do 33 but average about 20. Why is it always half of the maximum when, when only 6 hits are made, that character regularly gets all 6 (with an occasional 5 and rare 4)? Is there a special skill that allows for the full 64, 52, or 33? The sorcerer does 26 but seems to average about 18, considerably more than half.

The third unknown is, what are hirelings and what are they used for and do? Other than increasing the party size to 8 instead of 6, what else? Are they characters needed to advance the story? To date, I haven't otherwise done much of anything with hirelings. I have, however, obtained 8 of them. Hirelings likely means that they get hired and thus must be paid. With 10 million gold each ancient dragon (and I get 2 cases of this in just 43 seconds on average), even a million gold is dirt cheap.

#16 Massive flooding in basement basement and later cleaning: In June of 2010, my basement flooded. On September 4, 2010, I began cleaning the basement out, a lot of cleaning. Over the next 3 days, it was nothing but cleaning. Why? The basement flooded in June and black mold was building. There was a lot of mud in the sandy part (doesn't that remind you of a common theme in my dreams?), one area 5 inches deep. How do I know it's 5 inches deep? As the story goes, my dad, one day, bumped the cable for my Internet connection (an extension to a 50-foot cable) and caused it to get disconnected. I had to go down into the flooded basement, walking through water only about 5/8 inch deep at the most to find it. He told me "you'll see it as soon as you get to the bottom of the stairs". I looked around, but I didn't see any cables. I had to guess where it would be so I resorted to logic. My room hovers above the dirt portion of the basement. Although I didn't recall where the 50-foot cable was connected to, I had to take a guess. As I walked through the 2 or 3 initial platforms, I was stuck having to walk over the water-saturated dirt and it's through this that I found an area of mud 5 inches deep. The mud almost resembles the kind of mud in my dreams too. To date, 5 inches is the deepest I've ever been into mud. It was a bit difficult to maneuver, but I have good balance and agility so it was pretty easy. The mud area did have the cable, but it wasn't where the connection was. I, thus, went over to where the concrete part was and found it there.

Basement flood and tons of mud


Photo #1: This is my basement... flooded. It's the sandy part that's a common focus in my dreams (there's probably 50 such dreams in my dream journal, if not more). You can tell how much of a mess it is with this photo. There's not much room to walk.

Standing in 5-inch-deep mud in flooded basement


Photo #2: This is the 5-inch-deep mud I was often referring to. My dreams regularly go much, much deeper than this. This, to date, is the deepest mud I've ever been in. It's one of the consequences to the basement flooding.

Over time, the flooding caused black mold to accumulate and the junk that has been stored down there for 15+ years to otherwise be ruined. Yep, some of that stuff down there was stuff I had when I was only 5, if not still younger. I saw receipts dating to times in which I didn't exist in my physical form. We had a huge dumpster to put all this stuff in. It was 7 feet tall, 9 feet wide, and roughly 20 feet long. It was the biggest dumpster I ever saw. Yet, with all the stuff that was in the basement, we needed to fill it twice over. Even with that, the basement still isn't all the way cleared out. To combat the stairs, a dumbwaiter system was built. The parents moved the objects onto the dumbwaiter and me and my sister did the second part, alternating. Either lifting the dumbwaiter, of which which is nothing more than 2x2-foot piece of plywood with a back support and wheels, via a rope or hauling these over to the jumbo dumpster was what I did - me and my sister alternated between these.

#17 36 new dreams recalled, 921 total: 10 1/2 months and only 34 dreams were recalled in all that when it was once nearly triple that. While most of them are vaguely recalled, there are a few that especially worth noting. One of which has 92% of the story recalled, something that hasn't happened in about 2 years now. Another one of the dreams had God involved, though not in the way I know Him.

Why is my recall rate so low compared to the past? My overactive mind is a near certainty as to the culprit. When I wake up, I take about 30 minutes just for me to wake up enough to write the details down and there's a near-certainty that something will come up in my mind and this otherwise causes me to forget the details of dreams. In other cases, I tend to get more involved with something else and when this happens, the dream is blanked out causing me to forget later on. My +60 base motive for working on Platform Masters is having a considerable effect on this. Throw in the great interest I have in Disgaea and this has still more of an effect. I am, at least, getting adequate sleep, typically 7 1/2 to 10 hours for the most part. It's these thoughts that come into my head that seem to be causing me to forget the dream by the time I get awake enough to finally start writing the details down. With most of the dreams otherwise not being of much interest, the thoughts of PM and Disgaea tend to take over due to the higher motivation these have.

Despite this, I've now got 921 total dreams. Given the recent rate of recall, it may not be until early 2013 that I cross the 1000 mark. PM likely won't be finished until the middle of 2012 leaving the recall rate rather low. Disgaea is mostly out of the way. I won't be able to get Disgaea 3 until likely after 2012 when the cost of the PS3 goes down enough to justify the price (funny how I'm saying "after 2012", given the supposed Dec 21, 2012 doomsday/apocalypse).

What about the remake of the dream journal that I had a while ago? There isn't much motivation for it right now, but at least, as I add new dreams, I'm also updating that part so I'm still left with the same amount as before. I intend on remaking the icons to being 8 times the size (like 512x256), so I can use them as a header. These large-sized icons will become 64x32 or so for the headers. I've still got the 120 dreams processed and roughly 500 or something remaining.

#18 Fireworks - a close call: With my sleep-wake cycle putting me at waking up at about the time I'd be finishing shooting off fireworks on July 4, 2010, I had to add 12 hours. I had a hard time doing this as little was cooperating. When I do attempt to stay up long, using my emergency pinball and Free Cell routines, I end up waking up after relatively little sleep and for an assortment of reasons. A common one was it being 82°F in my room. I ended up being drowsy all day but I had to force myself to stay awake longer causing me to have little energy. Why not just go to bed early? If I go to bed too early, I can't get to sleep as my mind won't shut off and I lose out on productivity. I'll just be lying in bed for 3 hours still awake. Go to bed too late and I don't have as much energy the following day. Remaining awake for about 16 2/3 hours and sleeping for 9 seems to be the best balance and it's where my 25-2/3-hour sleep-wake cycle comes from. At least I was able to get fireworks at the end, but I woke up late that day due to sleeping too long (11 1/2 hours) and I ended up with a lot of left overs as I didn't have enough time to shoot off everything. At least I got to shoot off the big ones that I tend to enjoy the most.

#19 Chrono Trigger - good story, annoying game play: When I first heard of Chrono Trigger, through YouTube comments, I thought it was a shooter, given "trigger" being in the title. I had no idea that it was an RPG, one that, interestingly enough, revolved around time travel. In the real world, time travel is actually possible, but only into the future. It takes great speed (GPS would be horribly off if time travel effects weren't accounted for) and/or a lot of gravity (black holes anyone?) before the time travel effects become noticeable. Astronauts orbiting the Earth go through time faster than those on the ground, causing them to age a few microseconds less than those on the ground. Time travel into the past is a total unknown though.

Real world physics aside, Chrono Trigger wasn't all that bad... at first. The loading times were horrible (10 seconds per battle - I have the PS1 version), but it wasn't much of a deterrant. The frame rate during certain battles also dropped and considerably. This may seem bad, but it was actually quite useful for some of the later battles where I could more quickly get to menu options than otherwise possible, making enemies strike less often. At first, things went well and I found several worthy places to level up.

The first one was the robot where you get 15 silver points from. I used it to both level up on and also obtain better equipment with. Once I got every item and learned every skill I could, I finally progressed the story... already at level 8.

Things went well until I experienced the 65 million B.C. era. This is where I did a huge amount of my leveling, reaching level 30 or so. I advanced the story and eventually got Ayla. Through advancing the story, I found yet another leveling ground, but didn't use it for a bit. I had no idea that a boss battle lasting a whole hour would come up. That's right, a whole hour. Only doing 10 damage a hit, even with the most powerful weapons I had, it was a ridiculously long battle. It wasn't the only battle that was long lasting either. I had several others that were frustratingly long just like this. Fortunately, once Ayla joined the party for good, she helped significantly with these annoying battles. I knew I had to get her leveled up.

After the Nizbel incident, I went after leveling up... a lot. Having found a very worthy place to level up that seemed worthy, I went clear out to level 60 before I even bothered to advance the story again, in case I had another one of those hour-long battles. From this extreme powerleveling, I realized just how bad this game's random number generators were. Every 4th battle was exactly the same. Seriously! The damage popups, when critical hits occurred, when the enemies attacked, etc. were all exactly the same as the first battle for the 5th, 9th, 13th, 17th, and so on battle. Battles 6, 10, 14, and 18 were exactly the same as the second. 7, 11, 15, and 19 are identical to the third and 8, 12, 16, and 20 are identical to the fourth. The pattern continues for hundreds of battles. By manipulating the random number generator like this, I was able to get it so that I never got attacked for 5+ levels in a row.

Once I finally began getting bored of this, I advanced the story until I got Ayla in the party otherwise for good. I looked for better places to level up and I eventually did. One area in the ocean palace was the key. I went after level 99 here, knowing I badly needed Ayla. Little did I know, that long task had a major hidden bonus - Ayla, with critical hits, was able to do 9999 damage to anything. This made future bosses where I'd otherwise have to wait for an hour to finally defeat the enemy, to be out in only a few minutes. When another Nizbel battle came up, later on, I was disappointed at first, expecting another hour-long battle, but I got rid of it far faster simply because of my level 99 Ayla doing 9999 damage to it. That made things so much better and it was a great welcome relief. It helped a lot with the frustrating bosses I encountered. With frequent counterattacks that only wasted time, especially when combined with the fact I was only doing 10 damage on some bosses (critical hits were sometimes doing less damage than a normal hit!), I really had a hard, frustrating time with this game.

In general, I strongly disliked this game's game play after the point where you gain the ability to use magic. The 10-second load times for a single battle and poor frame rate cases are minor in comparison with the game play in general. The story and music were good however, but the game play was horrible, annoying, and frustrating. I strongly dislike games that put a lot of limitations on things which is why I very easily got involved with Disgaea 1 and liked it far more than Disgaea 2. Disgaea 1 has almost no limitations but it's an SRPG instead of a regular RPG. Might and Magic is half way there, but still comes considerably short.

#20 Livestream - if only I could solve a problem: In February, I began using Livestream. What is livestream? It's a service that allows users to stream video in real time over the Internet. I'm not just referring to just professionals with all their expensive equipment, I'm referring to users like me and you. At first, I was broadcasting quite often, expecting an average of even 120 hours a month. There was one thing that constantly nagging me and it makes games like Sonic, Bubsy, Mario, Metroid, etc. very difficult to play and games like Tetris or pinball otherwise impossible to play - jerky video. Games that don't require fine timing by the user or don't depend much on audio (like Disgaea or the first 2 Final Fantasy games). Think of it like this. For one second, the video stream flows at a constant 29.97 fps like I would expect. Suddenly, for a quarter second, the video stops abruptly. After the stop, the video suddenly jumps to where it should be with 3 or 4 extra frames displaying at double the frame rate. The video then repeats this cycle. After about 15 to 20 minutes (it's kind of random), the audio glitches (it sounds very weird) then plays back at 90% true speed. The video, meanwhile, seems normal at first, but it noticeably starts to lag. I press the jump button, for example, and I don't see the effects for a quarter second (and getting longer). This is with Virtual Dub and it's the best I have at the moment. I have to force a refresh of the video stream in order to get things to normal (at least, getting rid of the lag and slow audio).

Other programs have similar problems. KMPlayer, Adobe Flash Media Encoder, and several others all have problems, though primarily with audio instead of video. What's the problem with the audio? Synchronization with the video. At first, the audio is in sync with the video. After time, the audio is oddly delayed. It's delayed not by a quarter second, but an extremely noticeable 3/4 of a second. This severely interferes with game play as it leads to confusion. If the audio is out of sync as I'm experiencing it, then it's going to be out of sync in the live video stream. The Adobe program, however (I had to find a download site where I didn't have to register with Adobe - I very strongly dislike having to register, even if it's free (a -12 affector, very extreme), wouldn't get any audio output.

Interestingly, I do have a program that has no problems with the video or audio. Well, the video does have problems, but no where near as bad as Virtual Dub. The software that comes with my "AVerMedia AVerTV Hybrid Volar MAX" (exact name, if you want to research it) has no problems, at least, for playing games on (how else am I able to record my game play videos for YouTube?). Okay, so if I do have a working program, why am I not using it? Easy: take a screenshot and all you see is a very dark magenta color (100010 to be exact) instead of the image. Move the program over to MSPaint and I can watch my gaming... on MSPaint. It's annoying. The video you'll see on Livestream will also be the same as this - all one color. At least you can get the audio. From what I've been told, this is overlay. If the overlay effect can be disabled so I can stream my game play live, then I would be streaming my game play for pretty much anything instead of just Disgaea.

I also looked into getting another TV tuner, but they all seem to have low user ratings and the selection available at Newegg is quite limited. I have to have a USB TV tuner or you won't get my voice in my YouTube videos because of another problem - I can't record from more than one source at a time (Line-in and Microphone - both are completely separate things). The quality is well within my sound card's limits - 96,000 Hz, 24-bit, stereo is the limit of my sound card but I'm using 48,000 Hz, 16-bit, mono. Even if I really drop it to just 11,025 Hz, 8-bit, mono, I still can't record from more than one source at a time. How can I record my voice while I play and record my game play? USB TV tuners appear to have internal audio, separate from the sound card.

#21 Genesis back up again: What problem was I having with the Sega Genesis? The controller. I press the C button and, even while still holding it and not releasing the button, the controller misbehaves by having the function attack to to the C button execute again. This causes premature double jumps, options being changed an extra time beyond what I expect, tilt in pinball executing twice in a row in short succession (from like 3 game frames apart, almost humanly impossible), and it happens randomly. The B button was kind of okay. The A button sometimes took quite a bit of force to finally get it to work. The start button is the same as the C button. The directional are like the B button - okay. With the controller behaving like this, it becoming increasingly difficult to play certain games. Might & Magic Gates to Another World is one example.

With the new controller working almost like it was brand new, I can finally play my Genesis again without any problems. With that, I also got a game that, before then, I only rented. It's also the game with the song that holds the record for the most consecutive plays - 132,500 (give or take 750). "Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster's Hidden Treasure" is the game's full name. If you have the game, the song I'm referring to is track 19 on the sound test. I also especially like track 4. Tracks 5 and 6 are also liked, but not as much as these (6 actually starts like "Old McDonald had a farm, Ee, Ei, Ee, Ei, Oh" even though a bonus stage (my favorite as it's excessively beneficial to the player - 28,000 points' worth from all those carrots and 3 extra lives) has it along with the later deep forest scenes. There are a few other games that I would like to get for it, games I've only rented in the past but can't rent any more (I don't think games before the sixth generation systems (PS2, Gamecube, etc.) can even be rented anymore, especially fourth generations systems (which is where the Genesis is)).

#22 New TV - A 21-inch LCD: In mid June of 2010, I was getting a new TV. What was wrong with my older CRT? There was an odd fading effect when it came to very high contrast (scrolling white text on a black background). The area to the right of this had a streaking effect. That CRT, by the way, was going on 14 years old and it was used quite a bit, increasing during later days.

Unfortunately, it took 2 tries to get a working TV. The first one, a Panasonic if I recall, was flawed. When I was thinking of the LCD screens, I was thinking of dead pixels. The first TV had no dead pixels. The problem? There were actually 2 of them. The first is a poor 50 millisecond delay. This made it difficult to play games like Bubsy and Sonic because I was missing jumps and the like. That wasn't the biggest problem either. What's bigger if there are no dead pixels? The audio. You want distorted audio, that TV had it, real bad too. You can kind of replicate it by overamplifying WAV files. Amplify it so that it goes 30 dB over the maximum. This was happening when I watched Home Alone 2 but with some games, like Disgaea, it was constant distortion, making the audio otherwise worthless. A louder game like Might and Magic would have been pure distortion all the way through, but back then, I didn't have that game.

So, I had to return that TV and attempt for round 2. The new TV is a Dynex, from Best Buy. Although the color detail is hard to fine-tune, and I have to press the "Video" and "TV" buttons to alternate between DirecTV, my games, or the PS2 (the PS2 uses RCA cables like DirecTV does). Outside this minor thing (the severely distorted audio is far, far worse), I'm otherwise satisfied with it. Dead pixels? Even after 10 1/2 months of having it, there are still zero found.

#23 YouTube down for first 1/3 of March: When the first of March of 2011 came, I was unable to access YouTube unless I signed out. What was happening? It was asking for my password several times and it was done in a suspicious-looking way. I got no E-mail notices from YouTube about the account system changes so I had no idea what was going on. Thus, for 9 days, I was completely unable to do anything in YouTube while I was signed in. I had no choice but to sign out in order to even view anything on YouTube but signing out meant I couldn't upload any more videos, couldn't post comments or anything, just view videos. Figuring that YouTube had a bug with their account systems, I decided to wait. I waited a whole week but the problem was still present. Since YouTube took out their contact form nearly 2 years ago, I've been unable to contact them since so I was left to resort to posting a notice on my site, since I couldn't do it on YouTube. It was only through this that I learned what happened. YouTube forced users to link to a Google account, of which I didn't have any (due to the -10 affector for registering). I didn't see that initially. If only I got an E-mail notice and the "account verification" page stated this, it wouldn't have been such a problem.

#24 Names ending with an "n" - an odd interest?: This is a weird one. When a name ends with an "n", I seem to have a strange attraction toward it. It's not just the names of humans, it's pretty much anything, except words. The name is what I'm attracted to, not the individual, business, product, location, etc. Examples include: "Ryan" (a favorite name), "Samson", "Jordan" (a favorite name), "Carrington" (a town visited on my way to Minneapolis for gas), "Glenn", "Michigan" (a US state), "Ian" (a favorite name), "Cameron", and even some of my own like "Keveran" or "Musan". I'm not sure why this is, but it's actually been going on for about 14 to 15 1/2 months by now (roughly 36 to 40 million seconds (see below)).

#25 Final Fantasy 10 - dull: It seems like FF10 will go the way of FF8 - A short bit of play before things get annoying and bad then a very long gap amounting to a good fraction of a decade before another go is given at it. I made progress up to the point where that one ball game was to be played. From what the story was indicating, I needed to win that game. It was frustratingly difficult though. I came close once, ending up with the game going in overtime, but I soon gave up on it. With the game not giving ability spheres, I had to either accumulate sphere levels (I had Tidus to sphere level 10 or something if I recall by the time, with a lot of others near 10), waiting until I got more ability spheres or sacrifice abilities in exchange for raising stats. The frequent case of the "let me handle those" got very annoying. Sure Yuna (or whatever that one's name is) didn't do much damage to the enemies, she got AP for the sphere grid (and the AP didn't get evenly distributed which helped a lot), but she is capable of dealing damage. My strategy for tough battles: level up beforehand. Battle I'm otherwise supposed to lose? I'll almost certainly do a lot of powerleveling to see if I can handle it later on. Something like that happened in Disgaea 1 and may happen in Disgaea 2. So, in other words, it may be a good half a decade before I give FF10 another go, like FF8 had (FF8 was due to the very dull story and poor music and the need to have to draw spells like crazy just to grow stats).

#26 An idea for a true 3D monitor: I've never experienced a 3D film and it's been a good half decade since I last saw a hologram. My only experience with real 3D comes from real world objects. I've only recently heard of 3D televisions coming out. My book, in scene 16, has the basic concept, but I wrote an article on my site that explains how a 3D monitor could actually work. It's a piece of technology that might be around in 15 years' time.

#27 About 28.86 million seconds ago: Lately, I've been having tendencies of expressing durations or distance in the past in seconds. Whether short durations not normally measured in seconds (e.g. a typical run time for a half-hour show is about 1400 seconds (ads ignored)) or long durations few would bother to have measured in seconds (e.g. the USA is just shy of 7.41 billion seconds old (since independence on July 4, 1776)), I like expressing time in seconds. It, to me, is a great way to give a sense to the vastness of time, much like the vastness of the universe (of which, by the way, is 433.6 quadrillion seconds old (based on the moment of the Big Bang roughly 13.74 billion years ago)). What's the significance of the 28.86 million? That's roughly how long it was since the last update to my site (yep, Disgaea and Platform Masters, again). For reference:

Time spans in seconds
UnitSecondsUnitSeconds
Minute60Hour3600
Day86,400Month2,419,200
2,505,600
2,592,000
2,678,400 or
2,629,743 5/6
Year31,556,926Life time*2,524,554,080


Table footnotes:
* Life time assumes 80 years.

Seconds using common durations
SecondsCommon*SecondsCommon*
1001 2/3 minutes1 million11 4/7 days
100016 2/3 minutes10 million115 3/4 days
About 3 4/5 months**
10,0002 7/9 hours100 million3 1/6 years
100,0001 4/25 day1 billion31 11/16 years


Table footnotes:
* Rounded to the nearest semi-common fraction (memorized decimal-to-fraction denominators of 30 or less (13, 17, 19, 21 (kind of), 23, 26 (due to 13), 27, and 29 are unknowns to me)), when applicable.
** Based on months being exactly 1/12 of a year.

You might be thinking that I've been doing this because my book has the various stat windows with age expressed in seconds. It does have an effect, but it's fairly small. Combining the giving the sense of the vastness of time and my liking toward large numbers, these two alone have 4 times the effect, especially the latter case which has nearly 2/3 of the total effect.

#28 My dream grocery store: Everyone tends to think of their dream house or dream car (of which I have neither of). I have something like this. It's for grocery shopping. So, what is my dream grocery store like? Well, I can tell you that it's not a building (well, maybe a warehouse, like Newegg). It's entirely online.

Yes, I'm aware of a few online grocery stores, but there's a big problem - they won't ship anywhere except locally, sometimes only within the state. My dream grocery store will ship anywhere within the country. This is understandable for quick perishables like frozen goods (like my pizzas) or milk, but for things like crackers, my drinks (these don't have to be refrigerated), it doesn't make as much sense. After all, my drinks or my Baked Ruffles chips have shelf lives measuring not in days or weeks, but months, sometimes even years. Milk, for example, is typically weeks. Canned fruits and vegetables are on the years realm. My dream grocery store, however, would ship anything to any location (an extra fee would make sense for short-term items or those that require special attention like milk or canned biscuits (since the latter are under pressure)), even if, locally, the product is completely unavailable (like the case I've had with Tropicana's sugar free lemonade that I can only get in Minneapolis and haven't seen locally in now over 4 years). Of course, if the company no longer makes the product, that's a different story and is understandable.

My dream grocery store should also never bother with product rotation and the like. What this is is the store (like the Wal-mart Supercenter) changes product availability around to make room for new products. I often find this extremely annoying and it leads to a lot of complaints from me. Of course, if the company that makes the product discontinues it, that's a different subject.

Being online, that means shipping and food/drink is quite heavy. With my drinks weighing like 9 1/2 pounds a piece and the fact I go through about 14 to 17 of these in a month, that'll be quite a huge shipping fee. I typically get 6 or 8 of these packs every 2 weeks so that's easily 76 pounds in just that alone (this doesn't even include the weight of the can or the box the cans come in). 4.26 liters is 4.26 kilograms (if purely water and the drinks are almost entirely water). Then there's the Digiorno For One pizzas I get in large quantities that I very rarely see on store shelves (the 4-cheese variety) have a 16:9 ratio (16 of these is 9 pounds, excluding the packaging). The cheese-only version of the Tombstone deep dish pizzas were finally seen after 6 months without them being on store shelves. My dream grocery store would have this and I could easily get 4 or 5 of them in one (that's 6 pizzas each pack for 24 or 30 total) adding yet another 8 or so pounds to the weight. In just these most-wanted items alone, that's easily 90 pounds in 2 weeks. There are others I get, often in large quantities, but who knows how long these will last. Being over 70 pounds, this will end up having to ship via freight.

Also, being online, that means a Web site. The site should be easy to navigate. A "drilling down" type style would be useful. First, it's the main category such as "fruits & vegetables", "snacks", "candy", "drinks", etc. Then, within a particular category, a particular company. Under "drinks", I'd go after "Pepsi". From here, the available items start to get listed. The available items start getting listed. Of course, this can be drilled down even further. There should also be a search type feature where I could just type "Tropicana Lemonade" and all varieties of tropicana-brand lemonade come up as results. This includes the concentrate variety that needs to get mixed in a pitcher with water added (by the customer). It also includes premixed versions, of which has a sugar-intense version, the one that has 150 calories to a 12-ounce can (this is available locally, but I'd end up drinking 1000 calories and 280 grams of sugar a day). The one I'm after, the sugar free version, is also listed. Then of course, there's also pink lemonade....

Importantly, for the Web site, it must have either both or none of the colors set. This is a common problem encountered when using dark-themed settings in Windows - if the webmaster does not define a color, like the background and text colors, browsers resort to using their defaults. All browsers I've used have problems viewing Ebay and typing replies to comments on YouTube because these sites have set their text color but didn't set the background color (causing the Ebay logo to look weird and glitched due to the lack of alpha channel transparency (it's a GIF which doesn't support alpha channel)). How am I able to type replies? Easy: I type them in Notepad first (which has neither the text nor background colors defined) then copy and paste it over. Simply having this little bit of code in a CSS document solves it:

body, textarea, input, select
{
   color: #000000;
   background-color: #ffffff;
}


The first sets the text color, to black. The second, frequently omitted, sets the background color. Both of my sites have both of these set so there isn't a problem in viewing them. If the bottom one is left out, the browser resorts to the default, dark gray in my case (I'd use black if it wasn't for this common problem.) and reading black text on a dark gray background is very difficult. Try it with this:

If you can easily read this black (000000) text, on this dark gray (383838) background, you've got good eyes and/or good room lighting.

Can't read it? It says: "If you can easily read this black (000000) text, on this dark gray (383838) background, you've got good eyes and/or good room lighting." 383838 is gray shade 56 (which is what I have Windows set at), so there's only a contrast of 56 in this case. It's low, but readable. Now, imagine the hardships of reading when the text color is defined as being 333333 (there are sites that have this as well):

I'd be truly amazed if you can easily read this dark gray (333333) text, on this dark gray (383838) background without using control+A or using weird monitor settings - it's a contrast of just 5 otherwise!

I'm pretty sure you can't read this, but this is something I see quite often as well. The only way I can read this is through pressing control+A. In fact, I have to navigate Ebay using control+A (to select all) in order to even see the text at all. Try it with this statement above once (click in the open to get rid of the highlight).

That aside, there's now only one last thing to cover: prices. I have found the Tropicana sugar free lemonade in other places, but at $9.99 or so for a 12-can pack before shipping? That's ridiculous! I normally pay around $4 for the same thing at Wal-mart. I would expect some variation, but the prices should at least be reasonable, like no more than $5 for that particular item. Those Digiorno For One pizzas are typically $2.50 or so at Wal-mart, but around $3.50 would be reasonable.

Of course, I can only dream at the moment. A store like this shouldn't be too much of a problem though to form and create. Then again, perhaps something very close to this already exists, but I'm completely unaware of it.

#29 A worldwide resource solve-all: With pollution getting out of hand, resources dwindling rapidly, it seems like there will be some major problems very soon. There is a solution to all these problems - reduce the human population significantly. If the population is cut by 93%, only 7% of the food, energy, resources will be needed and pollution will only be 7% as strong. 7 billion is way, way, way too much. 500 million is much more reasonable. It's enough to ensure the species' survival, but not too much that it severely overwhelms the planet's resources. Just 7% of the current land allocated to farmland needs to be present, allowing the rest to return to forestland or whatever. Deforestation will slow more than enough that it'll actually reverse - more trees will grow over time. Over enough time, this would greatly improve the quality of the environment on this planet.

So, then, how do you cut the population down in an acceptable way? After all, you can't just go around throwing nearly everyone off mile-high cliffs or into pools of lava. The best way is to simply stop all births until the population drops to about 1 1/2 billion at the most, preferrably just 1 billion. Why stop births for so long? The sooner the current ridiculously high population comes down, the faster the planet can get at recovering. This should probably last about 15 years or so, so it's not significantly long compared to the typical 80-year human life span (which may be 100 years by 2040, if not longer).

The second step is to do what China has once did - allow only 1 child per family. This should continue until the population gets to about 500 million (250 million at the extreme low end and 750 million at the extreme high end). With only 11% of the population remaining (4% in the extreme case), very few resources are being used. Very little land is needed for farms for food (and some farm foods could be on top of buildings). Fresh water supplies from rain can replenish. Carbon dioxide emissions will be significantly lower. Fewer cows are needed resulting in less methane. There are numerous other resource benefits possible. Still, even with the extreme 4% case, we will still need to get away from fossil fuels, like oil, since even then, that cannot be replenished fast enough.

The third step is to allow and especially enforce a balance between births and deaths so that the population remains around the 250 to 750 million range. When the population drops below 400 million, begin allowing more births than deaths until it crosses 500 million. When the population goes above 600 million, enforce the 1 child rule until it drops below 500 million.

Every country in the entire world is included in this, not just China and India. Basically, the popuplation drops from 1.1 billion to about 80 million for China, 300 million to about 20 million for the US, 20 million to about 1 1/2 million for Canada, and so forth for every country.

As a side note, I got this idea when I was reading my Scientific American magazines, the one involving the dwindling resources.



Daily Events



Apr 2: Physics of HIgh Runner supposedly worked out, with uncertainty on formula. The remake of the Hero Wheel was next and went on to day's end. I caught a mistake that undid an hours' worth of work. Screenshot 137 posted. Woke up at 3:44 PM and went to bed at 8:21 AM.
Apr 3: All rides done at last. Explorer redone in full. So close! Screenshot 138 posted. Shortcut found for Hero Wheel saved 2 hours. The rest were quick to add. Woke up at 5:57 PM and went to bed at 10:21 AM.
Apr 4: Only ground decals remain. Half the day went toward the sky glow effect. It looks quite poor in quality and my get rejected.... Listing the states for the character ended the day (for future character enhancement, needed if I'm to start adding enemies). Woke up at 8:49 PM and went to bed at 3:00 PM.
Apr 5: All scenery done, only programming remains. Figuring out ground decals was first and took up most of the day. I got a good start on the programming. A "before" video was recorded. Woke up at 11:30 PM and went to bed at 4:00 PM.
Apr 6: What a sight! Programming done, fixing hotel/lights alignment, then ground decals. An odd bug still exists with ground decals. Shower then visiting a lawyer were done when early in the ground decal programming. Another revisit is tomorrow. Changed songs to Bubsy's Carnival. Woke up at 1:14 AM and went to bed at 6:12 PM.
Apr 7: Carnivalesta done and a 40-minute video uploaded. It's the longest and biggest video ever uploaded. Lawyer visit failed - no transportation. Now to wait 1 1/2 weeks. Changed songs to Cactus Point upon going to bed. Woke up at 4:30 AM and went to bed at 9:03 PM.
Apr 8: Browsing Genesis games on Ebay then getting a controller and a long-wanted game (Tiny Toon Adventures Busters Hidden Treasure). I began writing a guide for debug mode in Sonic 3 & Knuckles. Grocery shopping followed - drinks disappeared. Woke up at 6:58 AM and went to bed at 12:13 AM.
Apr 9: Battery life test started. Getting furniture (mattress, 2 box springs, and 2 chairs) - 2 trips needed. Sonic 3 & Knuckles followed (fox splasher mainly) then full games of Mega Man 6 and Mega Man 5 ended the day. A brief start on the headlines of a site update was during the fox splasher. Woke up at 10:49 AM and went to bed at 2:15 AM.
Apr 10: Results are in - 30 hours, 28 minutes, 41 seconds (±2 seconds. Fiddling around in Sonic 2 with Knuckles then a fox splasher going on for about 5 or 6 hours - positions recorded. 2 headlines done. Woke up at 12:00 PM and went to bed at 1:54 AM.
Apr 11: Updating site with a 10-hour run of a fox splasher running while doing it dominates the day. Most of the known headlines are done. Woke up at 1:54 PM (±3 minutes) and went to bed at 2:59 AM.
Apr 12: New Genesis controller arrived! Vectorman 2 for the orbot orbit bonus stage then a full game of "Taz: Escape from Mars" starts the day. Might & Magic followed and dominates the day - found a faster way to heal - level 21 and rising fast. Woke up at 2:10 PM and went to bed at 5:45 AM.
Apr 14: Finally that song! The Tiny Toon game arrived - 1/2 plays of it plus writing a review as well. First play was a full play through, the second was going for 99 lives and a million points. Known headlines done, minus photos. Processing 3 of the songs ended the day. Woke up at 3:41 PM and went to bed at 8:58 AM.
Apr 15: Might and Magic almost all day - a video was recored midway but processed 4 hours later. Level 33 now. Knight and sorcerer tried. Woke up at 6:31 PM and went to bed at 7:49 AM.
Apr 16: Eureka - THE place to level up! Item enchanting (video of this) and high endurance too! Level 82 and very rapidly climbing! Grocery shopping ended the day. Very hooked on Tiny Toon Late Forest at 85% true speed - part 1 (my favorite (the intro is better)) makes me think of "Melissa", from watching "The Haunted". Woke up at 7:32 PM and went to bed at 2:23 PM.
Apr 17: Level 255 and one character maxed out for exp and HP. 2 videos recorded - one early (before eating - nothing on on TV until 3:00 AM), the other near day's end. M&M dominates day. Still at Tiny Toon Late Forest 85%. Woke up at 11:40 PM and went to bed at 5:34 PM.
Apr 18: 2 down - a second character can now infinitely train. M&M, eat (TV again), M&M, troubleshoot contrast issue (mostly fixed), update PM's glossary, then M&M to max out the second character (minus training). Forgot to charge battery - 5:53 PM was intended time. Woke up at 2:55 AM and went to bed at 7:00 PM.
Apr 19: A third character with maxed HP and a fourth on the verge. 7300 damage by the ninja - wow! Inventory stuff for dad's work place was slipped in near day's end (done at home). Woke up at 5:41 AM and went to bed at 6:51 PM.
Apr 20: Updating PM's design document (menu options detailed) was first. Inventory stuff for dad was next with M&M finishing the day, first playing to get a video then posting it. Woke up at 6:31 AM and went to bed at 11:02 PM (±1 minute).
Apr 21: M&M - cleric done, sorcerer ready to go out. Cleric replaced and sorcerer will be as well. Figuring out a replacement lawyer was next. Inventory stuff for dad follows, TV, then compiling a list. Changed songs to Desert Zone. Woke up at 7:58 AM and went to bed at 11:07 PM.
Apr 22: Zeliard dream recalled. Finish activities list spreadsheet, shower, grocery shopping, inventory stuff, then resume site update - hoping for April 30 finish. No M&M. Woke up at 9:55 AM and went to bed at 12:11 AM.
Apr 23: Drowsy all day. Only 1 dream added to the dream journal - M&M took over - 7 characters now on the bench - now trying out the robber class - seems like the ninja. From 46 to 43 seconds - I got about 7% faster. Went out for pizza near day's end. Changed to Frozen River 64% true speed in bed. Woke up at 9:40 AM and went to bed at 11:42 PM (±2 minutes).
Apr 24: Another Mall of America dream recalled. Updating site and TV dominates the day. About 45% of the dreams are added. Writing article on pure 3D TV took up the first part of the day - images remain. No M&M. Woke up at 11:03 AM and went to bed at 1:46 AM.
Apr 25: Dream journal all day - 12 dreams left. A shower followed then going to Kmart around 6:30 PM. House cleaning interrupted things at about 4:00 PM. Preparations done for lawyer visit. Woke up at 12:30 PM and went to bed at 1:01 AM.
Apr 26: Long chase dream recalled. Dream journal, lawyer visit, dream journal, TV and eating, then finishing the dream journal. Images, daily entries, and extra headlines remain. Woke up at 1:18 PM and went to bed at 2:45 AM.
Apr 27: Daily entries to Sep 7, including extra headlines, done. End of April finish? Uncertain but likely. TV was mixed in as a motive booster. Daily entries and site update with TV dominates day. Woke up at 1:44 PM and went to bed at 4:28 AM.
Apr 28: Daily entries to before Mar 1 done. Should finish by late tomorrow. TV dominates the day too, for a motive booster. Stellar classification question will be featured in Astronomy's Ask Astro - wow! Returned to Frozen River, now at 60% true speed. Woke up at 2:54 PM and went to bed at 5:34 AM.
Apr 29: Yet to be added....
Apr 30: Yet to be added....



Go to another time:
Earlier than 2005: Earlier than Nov 2004 | Nov 2004 (and late Oct 2004) | Dec 2004

Year 2005: January | February | March | April | May | June | July | August | September | October | November | December

Year 2006: January | February | March | April | May | June | July | August | September | October | November | December

Year 2007: January | February | March | April | May | June | July | August | September | October | November | December

Year 2008: January | February | March | April | May | June | July | August | September | October | November | December

Year 2009: January | February | March | April | May | June | July | August | September | October | November | December

Year 2010: January | February | March | April | May | June | July | August | September | October | November | December

Year 2011: January | February | March | April | May | June | July | August | September | October | November | December

Year 2012: Yet to arrive....

The news entry headlines in bold are color-coded for a reason. They tell how big the event was for the headlines and how good my day was for the daily entries. From May 2006 onward, a slightly different system is used, of which has triple the precision. For dates prior to this that use color coding, from the white color, skipping two to red and so on is used. Here's what each color represents (for updates to before May of 2006):

Extremely major event / Very good day
Major event / Good day
Somewhat major event / Somewhat good day
Normal event / Average day
Somewhat minor event / Somewhat bad day
Minor event / Bad day
Extremely minor event / Very bad day


Footnotes:
None