Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Not Old

I had an optometrist appointment last weekend as I needed to get new glasses. Oh, my old ones were fine. It was just that the frame was a little loose. Possibly because they had been, at various times, set on fire, used to disarm a ninja, stepped on (multiple times), and once thrown at an emu.

So I arrived at the combination ophthalmologist office/glasses-monger location and after a brief wait, was shown in for my appointment.

An attractive young woman led me to a bank of machines arranged in a semi-circle with a stool in the middle. I sat down and for the next few minutes, was directed to look into the machines, press buttons, and not pick my nose quite so much.

I kept asking what the machines were for and received various explanations, such as: this one tests for glaucoma. This one tests your peripheral vision. This one temporarily removes your eyeball and replaces it with a used golfball, etc.

“Wow,” I remarked at one point. “I remember when they only had the one machine for glaucoma.”

“Oh,” she replied, as she scribbled something on a piece of paper. “A lot of our older clients say that.”

I chuckled, because, frankly, she was cute.

I was then shown into the ophthalmologist’s office proper, where the doctor was waiting. This guy looked to be all of twenty-five and he quickly started the exam. First, he had me remove my glasses and read the smallest line on the chart I could.

“What chart?” was my answer, which seemed to amuse him. We then went through the standard lens-flipping routine and within twenty-minutes, my prescription was ascertained.

NOTE: I’m not sure what my actual prescription is. The piece of paper he gave me just said ‘Patient pretty much blind. Probably navigates by sense of smell.’

So then I was off to the lens person, another attractive young lady who helped me pick out some frames and choose the various options for my lenses. This was going along well until she got to the part about the bifocals.

“And many of our older patients,” she said, as she held up a sample, “prefer the no-line bifocals versus the traditional kind.”

That was it. A line in the sand had to be drawn. “Oh,” I said, smiling. “It’ll be a few more years before I need to think about bifocals.”

“Sir,” she said. “You’re holding the brochure three inches from your face while you hold your glasses up.”

“I like to smell the paper,” I replied. “We used to make it by han . . . buy it in bulk. Nope, never made paper. Or owned an 8-Track. Or have pictures of myself in bell bottoms.

“But with the no-line bifocals, no one will even notice you’re wearing them.”

“Reall- No, sorry. I don’t need bifocals. I’m not that old.”

“Well, okay,” she said, as she continued to show me more options. Apparently, there are lenses now that not only change color in the sun, they can block military grade lasers.

So, I got my glasses ordered and walked back out into the afternoon sun to my truck, which was probably older than the young lady who’d just taken my order. Some kids skate-boarded by, but I successfully resisted the urge to yell at them to get off my lawn.

‘Cause I’m not that old yet, dammit.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

What Not To Wear

The orc died with a strangled cry, as Hrothgar the Itchy’s axe cleaved through its arm and sank into its chest. Hrothgar wrenched the axe out as the orc fell and spun around, looking for the next enemy.

“Clear over here,” Mundark, Priest of Valla the Ludicrously Violent, as he bludgeoned the last orc into a smear on the floor with his two-handed maul.

“I think we got them all,” Ashra said, stepping out from the hall, a curl of smoke rising from her staff. 

Twenty-odd orcs lay dead around the room, most clustered around the remains of a table where they had been eating a nice lunch. Those at the table had taken the full brunt of Ashra’s fireball, while the few remaining orcs were quickly wiped out by Hrothgar and Mundark.

“Anything interesting over there?” Mundark asked, as he wiped his maul on a dead orc.

“No,” Ashra answered, as she poked through the remains of a chest with the tip of her staff. “I don’t think we’re going to get much more than a handful of copper out of them.”

“Hey!” Hrothgar said from the other side of the room. Ashra and Mundark turned to see him holding up a severed leg. The boot on it was still in good shape, though covered in blood, burnt flesh, and possibly brains.
Hrothgar tossed the limb towards Arisha. “Check and see if those boots are magic, would ya?”

Arisha dodged, allowing the limb and boot to sail past. “Watch the robe!” she said, straightening. “I just had it cleaned.”

Mundark snorted. “You can take a Barbarian out of the hills, but you can’t-“

“Get him to stop playing with bodies. Yes,” Ashra said. “I’m familiar with the saying.” She stepped over to the remains and held out her out. At a few whispered words, the boot began to glow. “Minor armor bonus,” she said. “And they treat and/or prevent Athlete’s Foot.”

“Dibs!” Hrothgar happily called out, as he pulled the other boot off the stump it was still attached to.

“Wait a sec,” Mundark said. “We do Need Before Greed.”

“I’ll pass,” Ashra said.

Mundark shrugged. “I’ve got my Boots of Not Slipping On Entrails, so I guess they’re yours, Hroth.”

“Sweet!” The Barbarian happily retrieved the boot Ashra had examined and sat down on the only remaining bench, where he began to pull off his old boots.

“Wait,” Ashra said. “You’re going to wear them right now?”

“Why not?” Hrothgar pulled the foot out of the right boot and pulled it on. It made a squelching noise.
“At least get them cleaned first,” Ashra said.

“Why?” Hrothgar said, as he pulled the left boot on. He grimaced and then pulled it off again. He shook the boot and then reached in, pulling out a lump of flesh. “Orc toe,” he said, tossing it over his shoulder.

“Because they’re covered in dead orc?”

“Give it up, Ash,” Mundark said, as he leaned against the wall. “I once saw him eat a troll heart on a bet.”
Ashra turned to look at the cleric. “But trolls regenerate?”

“Yep,” said Hrothgar, as he happily jumped up and down in his new boots, which made squishing noises. “I shoulda gotten extra xp after that trip to the privy.”

“Fine,” Ashra said, with a shake of your head. “But you have to stay downwind until you get those things cleaned.”

“Hey,” Hrothgar said. “How much will you give me to eat burnt orc?”

Ashra sighed. “Let’s just go.”

“Seriously. I’ll totally take a bite for five gold.” Hrothgar said, as he followed his two companions out of the room, his new boots leaving a trail of bloody footprints down the hall.


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Curiosity Killed the Martians

As you probably heard, the Rover Curiosity landed safely on Mars and began following its programming, which apparently consists of taking dirt and rock samples and doing stuff to them. This is fantastic in many, many ways as every new analysis will help uncover more about our universe and solar system.

Kudos to the men and women of NASA, who made this staggeringly amazing science-tastic event a reality.

It is, however, also . . . kinda . . . dull. I mean, it’s an amazing scientific and technological achievement, but when I think of exploring new worlds, I’m think about beaming down with a couple of disposable guys, shooting some natives, heating up rocks, and teaching green-skinned women about that thing we humans call ‘love.’ Taking ore samples, not so much.

Curiosity is fulfilling an amazingly important mission, but honestly, I think NASA should have jazzed things up a little. Now, if I’d been in charge of NASA, I would have done things a little different.

NOTE: There are many, many reasons why I’m not in charge of anything at NASA or even allowed near the building. One of which is that I think Prime numbers are the ones that Optimus Prime liked best.

So here’s what NASA should have done: they should have faked a war with Martians.

Imagine this: Curiosity lands on Mars and starts peacefully analyzing dirt and such. Suddenly, a giant robot lifts itself out of the ground, red Martian sand spilling all around it and announces (in English) ‘Death to the Intruders!’

There’s Curiosity, a small science robot, facing a gigantic Martian war-machine with claws and lasers and a big fondue-fork thingie. The war-machine charges, firing its weapons and swiping with its claws as Curiosity barely manages to dodge the onslaught.

“Oh no!” says someone off-screen. “Curiosity is doomed!”

“Not yet he isn’t!” says a second voice. “Curiosity! Switch to Battle Mode!”

Curiosity flies up into the air and mini-guns pop out. Rocket launchers flip up and for no particular reason an arm with a battle axe emerges as well.

And just as a John Williams score starts, Curiosity and the Martian war-machine go at it. Mini-guns fire, rockets launch, lasers laser, and axes . . . axe. However, despite its best efforts, Curiosity is slowly losing the battle, as the Martian war-machine is unfazed.

And then, suddenly, as Curiosity is cornered and out of ammo, what should appear? It’s the Opportunity, the rover that landed on Mars in 2004! The two robots combine into their ultimate form: Curiotunity! With newfound strength and some depleted uranium sabot rounds, Curiotunity takes down the war-machine, which blows up in a spectacular fashion!

Seriously. All NASA needed to do was hire a good CGI team and maybe Michael Bay and they could have turned this into an amazing blockbuster. Forget the Olympics. Forget whatever else was going on. We would have been glued to our TVs as our valiant little robots fought death machines on alien worlds.

Well, obviously, in reality Curiosity would have gone about its normal routine, but we don’t need to know that. NASA could have had us glued to our seats and gotten a massive funding increase to boot.

Anyway, yeah, just another reason why I don’t work at NASA.