Helldivers 2 (2024) - β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

Let me tell you about MaxiPaine11 (pretty sure that was his name), a random person I found playing this game this morning.

He was waiting for me next to a flag post in the smoldering remains of an outpost. A timer informed us that we had about 2 minutes to hold the spot until the flag would be raised. In the background, I could hear the ominous electronic robotic chipping somewhere nearby - a patrol mission, probably.

Maxi looked busy checking something on the other side of the post next to a vending machine (somehow, these always survive) when I saw them approach. I informed him on the radio, but I wasn’t sure if he got the memo because the next thing I knew, lasers were flying by my head; I leaped to a prone position, took out my sniper rifle, and looked down the scope at the big one at the back of the pack, a meanie with chainsaws for arms. I took my aim slowly, carefully, and squeezed. Well, that got their attention.

There was a THUMP sound nearby. “Democracy needs firepower!” I heard Maxi claim. Soon, I also saw what he called for - a machine gun - as he started raining bullets at the oncoming bot army. That was good; I didn’t know the guy, but his strategy complimented my sniping cautiousness just fine - BOG! I got one right in the head.

The timer ended, and the objective was met, but we had a hell of a fight ahead of us getting out of there to the extraction point. Drop ship after drop ship, the bots kept on coming faster than we could reload our weapons. Things were about to get out of hand. I had an idea. A crazy one, but this is a crazy game. I called in a minefield, focusing right behind us, missing the advancing robots entirely. I got a “?” from him in chat. That’s all he could do before I heard him scream “My leeeeegggggg!!!” as a well-aimed laser blasted it off. My situation wasn’t much better.

I told him to follow me, as I was going back, right into the mines I planted. Then I asked again, and once more, for emphasis, switching weapons to my assault rifle and aiming to his left to show him I was right behind him. He saw me standing between the mines, and then it clicked. He was following me. We rushed through my minefield (as carefully as possible) and ran into the forest, the bots right after us.

We opened a gap between us and the bot army as their fastest killing machines rushed after us right into the mines and exploded. We kept running until we found a big cliff to hide behind. I called for supplies; he called down a torrent to cover us. Good thinking. I checked our map, and well, shit, the extraction point was where the bots came from, right back through the exploding mines, or we could go around it, through what looked like a river.

I turned to him and saluted; Maxi did the same. This time, I followed him - he chose the water. On the other side, Looking ahead, right in our way, was a bot factory surrounded by many glowing evil red eyes. Maxi looked hesitant. And then I died. It happened so quickly.

The bots were everywhere. Maxi didn’t waste time and ran for cover before calling in reinforcement, which was me, of course, as another patriotic solider: “Democracy has landed!” I claimed as I got out of my capsule, right into the depth of an intense fight. We were surrounded. bots from behind, bot-camp ahead, and water that would slow us down to a crawl to the side. It was time to call for additional help, so I shot an SOS beacon to the side. “Thanks,” he managed to voice-prompt me; “Affirmative,” I responded.

But additional reinforcement never came. After many deaths and limbs lost, we managed to get to the extraction spot and escape by the skin of our teeth. This was medium?? Apparently, it was. I saluted Maxi one more time and told him I’ll be back later. Democracy might never sleep, but it does get hungry. Hopefully, I’ll run into Maxi again. Or Someone else, who knows. Every time is a new adventure.

That’s what happens when you use Instagram for news – but is there an alternative? Lot’s of thoughts around this one.

Demoted, Deleted, and Denied: There’s More Than Just Shadowbanning on Instagram – The Markup

Meta declined to comment on why the war photos seemed less likely to appear than other kinds of photos on a hashtag page, despite the fact that they did not violate Instagram’s guidelines on intense, graphic imagery.

Cleaned up my CSS a bit and added more comments to illustrate what I’ve done with TinyTheme. Feel free to borrow ideas! This is an ongoing fun:

    /* Global changes are defined in variables in TinyTheme. These are the theme's default colors, of which we have two sets: light and dark. Instaed of calling a color over and over, we call "link" or "link-visted," etc. Matt, the creator of TinyTheme, explains this here: https://mattlangford.com/2023/06/07/how-to-change.html
    At this point, I have both the same more or less - I only have one theme. I have dark/light theme listed as a todo later on. */
    /* Light Mode */
    :root {
            --text: #666;
            --link: #666;
            --link-visited: #666;
            --link-hover: #8b0000;
            --accent1: #8b0000;
            --accent2: #666666;
            --background: #eee8d5;
            --code: #e3e3e3;
            --button-text: #ffffff;
            --blockquote: #fffee0;
            --note: #FFFF00;
    /* Dark mode */
    @media (prefers-color-scheme: dark) {
        :root {
            --text: #666;
            --link: #666;
            --link-visited: #666;
            --link-hover: #8b0000;
            --accent1: #8b0000;
            --accent2: #f8f8f2;
            --background: #eee8d5;
            --code: ##e3e3e3;
            --button-text: #282a36;
            --blockquote: #fffee0;
            --note: #44475a;
    /* Using the globals colors above, the links' color for the blog are defined here. The links change to crimson red (also defined above) when hovering over them, and keeping the underline, making them easier to identify as links */
    a, a:visited {
        color: var(--link);
        text-decoration: underline; 
    a:hover {
        color: var(--link-hover);
        text-decoration: underline; 
    /* Change the color of h2 link posts and dates to the red-crimson I use. Because the overall rule for links asks for an underline when hovering over them, I have to specify here that for post titles, I don't want an underline.  */
    h2 a, h2 a:hover, a.post-date.u-url {
        color: #8b0000;
        text-decoration: none;
    /* Change the font and the color of the title to Righteous font, and the color crimson red. The font requires Google Fonts, with additional code in microhook-head.html */
    header h1 a, header h1 a:visited {
        font-family: Righteous;
        color: #8b0000;
    /* To change what the tagline says, we need to use a Microhook: layouts/partials/microhook-description.html. Because by default this description is the same color and font as the text of the blog, I had to create a class here, description. It is also defined in the above microhook.
    The CSS then specifies the color (brown like the owl's bronw), the font (from Google fonts, imported in microhook-head.html), the size, and also makes it italic. */
    p.description  {
        color: #a5846e;
        font-family: "Caveat", cursive;
        font-size: 1.5em;
        font-style: italic;
    /* Change the nav bar boxes links color to my crimson red, and when hovering over them, change the background to gray and the text to the beige color of the blog */
    nav a, nav a:visited {
        color: #8b0000;
        border-color: #8b0000;
    nav a:hover {
        background-color: #666;
        border-color: #8b0000;
        color: #eee8d5;
    /* a border for images in posts only */
    .e-content img {
        border: .2em double #666;
    /* Make the avatar float to the left of the text. TinyTheme uses microhook-profile-photo.html for the image's URL. As well, a bit margin between the avatar and the site's title. */
    .site-header img {
        float: left;
        margin: 1em;

That’s it. My blog’s theme is now based on TinyTheme, with my colors and additions implemented. I will fix a couple more “gotchas” as I notice them. I also want to make my CSS modifications available to everyone soon.

Last night, I finished reading: Starter Villain by John Scalzi πŸ“š.

This was a fun read! Pure entertainment. I chuckled around my apartment reading through this book. It’s not something too heavy or thought-provoking; the best parts are probably the dialogues.

Highly recommended if you own cats!

My weird logic of (still!) using Google Cloud products:

  • Everyone has a Gmail account, so it’s easy to share
  • I know Google sells everything of mine, so I don’t have illusions about what to put in their cloud
  • Great and easy exporting options

A few things: February

A few things that kept me occupied this month:

  • Playing around with TinyTheme
  • Denote public information notes
  • Pushing my comfort zones

TinyTheme: I can see why so many folks like TinyTheme. It’s slick and good as is, but at the same time, it’s built thoughtfully and makes customization easier. The best part yet: Matt is very responsive and helpful, and when I got stuck, I got an answer and learned new things at the same time. I like how my single CSS sheet for TinyTheme looks like, whereas in my current theme, I have several hacks scattered about. The new theme will be ready for prime time soon!

Denote: Going ahead with switching from TiddlyWiki to org-mode notes is a good idea. It’s all about laziness at the end. GitLab renders org files just fine, but there are a few hiccups in how Denote creates links: GitLab doesn’t understand Denote’s linking syntax. I reached out to Prot for help, and he created a function that converts Denote links back to org-mode links. This is almost working, but the resorting links contain absolute paths (which lead to a folder on my computer) and not the relative link needed on GitLab.

I enjoy “talking” to Prot back and forth in video recordings. I’m learning a great deal. I said it once, and I’ll say it again, if you’re an Emacs user, Prot is worth every single penny for his coaching. Give it a try!

Comfort Zone Stretching: This will come as a shock to y’all, but I can be a bit grumpy and prefer the company of my warm coffee over strangers. Realizing this is all good and fine but it won’t do much to expand my circle of friends, I’m trying to say no a bit less to social hangouts.

I had a great time in Long Branch NJ last weekend (this is where I took this picture) with my partner and a couple of friends, and it might have been the first time I saw snow on the beech first hand.

More of this stretching is happening in baby steps. It comes back to the little conversation with @Anne about dating apps recently: it’s up to us humans to get out there and develop the skills we’ve had for centuries but neglected in favor of our phones. We’ll see how this goes.

Snow at the shore πŸ“·

Snow on the beach, a person walking against the sea in the background. Dark blue clouds are hanging above

Sunshine, 2007 - β˜…β˜…β˜…

A friend summarized this movie perfectly: good suspense film with hard Sci-Fi elements that go down the drain with the introduction of the villain. Why Sunshine, Why?

I enjoyed the buildup and the start. Not too hard to follow. The story is a bit of a stretch: if the sun was dying, I think the range of life-supporting temperatures on Earth would drop too fast for us to build a spaceship, let alone two. And I won't go into the sun becoming a red giant when it runs out of fuel, which seems to be the case here. So OK, fine, moving on.

The space ride with the crew was thrilling science-wise, though it was a bit macho for reasons, but in a way, that was a (small) part of the point, so alright, I could live with that.

The sun provided a lot of problems, and these could have been explored more and caused more suspense; instead, the movie yanks a villain seemingly out of nowhere and gives said villain some unexplained godly powers. The sun would have made a better villain if you ask me.

This is a solid 3-star: solid entertainment, but nothing too mind-expanding.

An NYC corner πŸ“·

A tall building, trapozoid shape. its sharp corner faces the viewer, with a single column of windows going up. There are city streets on both sides of the building, with a yellow cab in front of the building.

When @matt added Microhooks to his popular Tiny Theme, I decided to give it a try. My current theme, which is based on the Alpine theme, is a messy mesh of CSS fragments and several modified HTML files. I thought I could use a fresh start and get things more organized.

I’m having fun exploring and tweaking my test blog so far. This time I hope to keep all the changes in one CSS file with comments. Here’s what it looks like for now:

    Importing Righteous font from Google Fonts for the site title. I still need to work here to get the Title set up; there's a Tinyhook for that.
    @import url('https://fonts.googleapis.com/css2?family=Righteous&display=swap');
    /* Setting up my beige background color  and my fonts to dark gray from Tiny's white: */ 
    body {
            background-color: #eee8d5;
            color: #666
    /* Change the color of h2 link posts and dates to the red-crimson I use */
    h2 a, a.post-date.u-url {
            color: #8b0000;
            text-decoration: none;
    /* Chane the color of the links, and remove underlines; when hovering over a link, underline it to indicate it's a link
    With links, we need to define these different instances of link selectors. These are: link, visited, hover, and active.
    In TinyTheme, the little "blurbs" on the main page listing the posts are inside an "e-content" div. We want to specify these links only. Otherwise, other links will be affected: */
     .e-content a:link, a:active, a:visited {
            color: #8b0000;
            text-decoration: none;
    .e-content a:hover   {
    text-decoration: underline;

I’m happy with how my org-mode notes look like in GitLab:

I need to resolve a few things, like creating another folder for these notes and tying it into my repository, but after I’m done, the hope is for much more streamlined informational notes.

Mostly finished Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor E Frankl πŸ“š. There’s the part at the end of this edition where he talks about logotherapy, but I think I understand enough of his story itself to get the core of his teaching. More thoughts may follow.

I got Starter Villain by John Scalzi πŸ“š on a whim after I found his blog through a comment somewhere around here or Mastodon. So far, it’s a fun read with lots of chuckles.

Emacs abbrevs hacks

I just watched Prot’s excellent video about abrrevs, and I feel my “Emacs IQ” has expanded a bit.

Here are the notes from my settings:

Turn Emacs' abbrevs on and place them in my Personal folder. The personal folder syncs to my machines so that these shortcuts are available on all of them (the default is somewhere in emacs.d/).

    (setq-default abbrev-mode t)
    (setq abbrev-file-name "~/Sync/Personal/.abbrev_defs")

In addition, add “@” to my abbrevs, so that I can use “@” with a person number to get their user ID. For example, “Joe” will do nothing, but “@joe” will enter “jr2234.” Useful because I remember a person’s name, not their email address or user ID. Credit: Prot.

    (abbrev-table-put global-abbrev-table :regexp "\\(?:^\\|[\t\s]+\\)\\(?1:[@].*\\|.*\\)")

Useful Abbrev reminders:

You can escape abbrevs with C-q after typing the abbrev. For example, if “rnd” expands to “Research and Development” but you actually want to type “rnd” in the buffer, type rnd followed by C-q.

If you want to add a prefix to an abbrev, for example, if you want the end result to be “non-Research and Development”, type: non- and then M-' (this will result in a hyphen showing; this is good) and then rnd to produce the abbrev.

No, it’s not like Slack. Or Teams. And please don’t tell me it’s like IRC.

Discord makes me feel old in a way I don’t like. Most of the people I share common interests with use it all day every day, but to me, it’s just a lot of chaotic noise. I can’t make sense of it.

First Lechtturm-world problems

I started using my new Leuchtturm1917 last weekend, as predicted. There’s a difference in the paper texture, though I’m not sure it’s such a huge difference from the Moleskin, and the color of the pages seems to be just slightly more creamy, which is nice.

Initially, I thought having pre-purposed space for titles and index (contents) would be beneficial, but it’s actually in the way. Let me show you:

the contents page of a Leuchtturm notebook, with one line in the middle filled in along with a page number.

there are 26 lines in three dedicated pages in the content section at the start of the notebook. Naturally, each line can be dedicated to a letter to organized topics. Here is where I encountered a problem: I have three lines - three spots - for each letter across three pages. What if I have five topics under P and none under Z? For now, I think I can squeeze more than a couple in each section, but this is not what was intended. I also need to keep the pages with the topics, which means at some point, I will need to split the length of the “topic” line in the middle to fit more topics and page numbers.

Another issue that occurred to me quickly as I was writing my first three entries was the titles. I don’t start every day neatly with a fresh page; I often stop writing mid-page and start again a couple of days later in the middle. In that case, I write the date and topic manually. Now, the mid-page title doesn’t stand out as the title at the top, giving it a sort of secondary-header feeling.

I’m sure some dedicated Leuchtturm lover will quickly set me straight (Jack?). I’m surprised I didn’t think of this earlier.

Ok ok! Enough internet rabbit holes! I’m gonna start doing some work. I swear. Right after I grab something to eat. And check on my laundry. And make the bed. and….

Bluesky Out of Beta + Various Social Media Thoughts, February 2024

This will be the cue for some folks to have a handwringing moment about whether blocking is the right thing to do, discourse, echo chambers, blah blah blah, so I want to be very clear about this: I don’t give a shit. You can spend your time online with bots and/or shitty people if you think it’s important and you’re striking a blow for intellectual freedom by doing so. I wish you joy in that endeavor. I’ll be spending my time online with people I actually enjoy.

This comment was good enough to add this “guy” to my RSS feed, look into what he does, realize he’s kind of a big-time author who writes good books, and get one of his books. What would I do without internet rabbit holes?

And while I’m littering my techno thoughts over the internet for your eyeball pleasure: I’m considering testing out Tiny Theme from Matt. He just added what he calls “Micro Hooks,". I’m wondering if this will simplify things like changing the background or displaying a different avatar for my blog