Monthly Archives: March 2011

Methods of Delivering Bullets

So, I was playing along in Call of Duty: Black Ops. I’d outfitted my classes that reviewers had recommended: my most-used guns were the AK74U and the Famas. Then, around when I hit level 34, I switched out most of my weapons for fun.

Below are my current loadouts. A few notes: I rarely use my secondary weapon, and I never use it if it’s a pistol. I’ve been working toward all the Pro perks, which is why several of my classes have Ninja. And I like frag grenades because you can cook them.

Any suggestions? What do your loadouts look like?

Primary: PM63 – Rapid Fire
Secondary: RPG
Lethal: Frag
Tactical: Decoy
Equipment: Claymore
Perk 1: Scavenger Pro
Perk 2: Sleight of Hand Pro
Perk 3: Ninja

The PM63 slings lead fast. And it reloads über-quick. I’ve been able to reload mid-firefight and get the kill in a snap. With Scavenger, I can keep bullets in the air at all times. Fun to play.

Primary: AK74U – Extended Mags & Suppressor
Secondary: RPG
Lethal: Frag
Tactical: Flashbang
Equipment: Claymore
Perk 1: Lightweight
Perk 2: Warlord Pro
Perk 3: Ninja

When I need a silenced class, this is my go-to.

Primary: RPK
Secondary: Crossbow
Lethal: Frag
Tactical: Concussion
Equipment: Claymore
Perk 1: Lightweight
Perk 2: Steady Aim Pro
Perk 3: Ninja

I recently discovered the joys of light machine guns, and wanted to give the RPK a shot, as it were.

Primary: Stoner63 – Extended Mags
Secondary: RPG
Lethal: Frag
Tactical: Decoy
Equipment: Claymore
Perk 1: Lightweight
Perk 2: Hardened Pro
Perk 3: Hacker Pro

The Stoner63 is a beast, but given how often I miss, I need extended mags to get the job done.

Primary: AUG – Reflex Sight
Secondary: Crossbow
Lethal: Frag
Tactical: Flashbang
Equipment: Claymore
Perk 1: Scavenger Pro
Perk 2: Sleight of Hand Pro
Perk 3: Hacker Pro

I’ve also been impressed with the AUG. I’ve often stayed alive with it long enough to need Scavenger, which is usually a rarity.


The Razorclown vs. Jericho

I taught the Bible study tonight! It was on the first part of the book of Joshua.

Have a listen.

Bible study: the audio! [Click to download .mp3]

Bible study: the audio! [Click to download .m4a]

HTML 0 through 5

I was impressed by something Mark Pilgrim wrote in his Dive into HTML 5:

I am extraordinarily fascinated with all aspects of this almost-17-year-old conversation that led to the creation of an HTML element that has been used on virtually every web page ever published. Consider:

  • HTTP still exists. HTTP successfully evolved from 0.9 into 1.0 and later 1.1. And still it evolves.
  • HTML still exists. That rudimentary data format — it didn’t even support inline images! — successfully evolved into 2.0, 3.2, 4.0. HTML is an unbroken line. A twisted, knotted, snarled line, to be sure. There were plenty of “dead branches” in the evolutionary tree, places where standards-minded people got ahead of themselves (and ahead of authors and implementors). But still. Here we are, in 2010, and web pages from 1990 still render in modern browsers. I just loaded one up in the browser of my state-of-the-art Android mobile phone, and I didn’t even get prompted to “please wait while importing legacy format…”
  • Some of the same people are still around and still involved in what we now simply call “web standards.” That’s after almost 20 years. And some were involved in predecessors of HTML, going back into the 1980s and before.

It’s crazy to think that a single generation has watched what was once just a cool idea develop into a worldwide publishing platform that revolutionized communication and commerce. And it still works off of the same backwards-compatible standard.

That’s a marvel of collaboration.

I’m getting excited about what HTML 5 will bring. It will make it easier for the blind to navigate websites. It will give us new options for including images, audio, and video in our pages. And it won’t mess up existing pages.

Pretty remarkable.

Mutants Are People Too: D&D Gamma World

Years ago, my friend Nick came into the room all excited, holding a copy of Polyhedron. He flipped the magazine open and told us about Omega World, a post-apocalyptic roleplaying system where you randomly generated your character, and would probably die really quickly.

We played, and it was hilarious.

Wizards of the Coast did a very smart thing by releasing the D&D Gamma World box set. You get the same wonderful randomness of the original Omega World supplement, only amped up.

The story goes that the Large Hadron Collider finally worked, and when it did, it collapsed the multiverse. Now, facets of a bazillion dimensions are smashed together in our own, resulting in a bizarre, fluctuating reality that your characters call home.

In ends up very much like Max Max plus Ninja Turtles.

You roll dice to determine your powers, stats, and even equipment. You can then pick what size weapon and armor you get, then – the best part – what it is. For example, I took a one-handed light melee weapon, and decided it was half of a pair of pruning shears. I also chose heavy armor, which I determined was made fr0m a melted car hood.

My character – randomly generated – had very similar psychic abilities to my friend Cody’s character, so we decided we were twins. We palled around with a highly radioactive fellow who shot lasers from his eyes, fighting mutant pig-men and monsters from the wasteland.

Just before I had to go, a couple of our other friends showed up, and we made them characters. They ended up with a giant electric bear and a sentient swarm of clams.

Gamma World is delightfully silly sci-fi fun. As Nick observed, it’s made for the kind of roleplaying you started with, if you were anything like my group: goofy, violent slapstick. It’s a great excuse to kick back with some friends and play out some improv comedy.

The rules system is based on D&D 4th Edition, which I’m not as familiar with. Even so, everything from character generation to combat is easy to pick up, once you figure out the math for all your bonuses. Is it just me, or are there more numbers to add together than in 3.5/Pathfinder?

Many thanks to Nick for running the game. Can’t wait until the next one.

Apologetics is Not the Art of Saying Sorry

Ravi Zacharias is a genius. No exaggeration.

Dr. Zacharias is one of today’s preeminent Christian apologists. That is, he provides a defense of the faith in historical, scientific, and philosophical terms.

This guy goes to college campuses, businesses, and pretty much any other organization that will listen and gives talks on why Christianity best represents reality. He then opens the floor for questions. For most Christians, this is a terrifying thought. For him, it’s ministry.

His podcast Just Thinking typically features a segment of a question and answer session on Friday. I’ve gone through the archives and dug up all the series I could find. If you want to hear some solid arguments for the Christian worldview, do yourself a favor and listen to a few.

After Easter, I’m going to be teaching an apologetics series during our Sunday School hour. I’m going to be taking much of my material from these discussions.

Utah Q&A (part 1 of 4)

Utah Q&A (part 2 of 4)

Utah Q&A (part 3 of 4)

Utah Q&A (part 4 of 4)

Georgia Tech, Q&A (part 1 of 3)

Georgia Tech, Q&A (part 2 of 3)

Georgia Tech, Q&A (part 3 of 3)

Mind and Heart Q&A (part 1 of 4)

Mind and Heart Q&A (part 2 of 4)

Mind and Heart Q&A (part 3 of 4)

Mind and Heart Q&A (part 4 of 4)

Is There Meaning in Evil and Suffering? Q&A (part 1 of 3)

Is There Meaning in Evil and Suffering? Q&A (part 2 of 3)

Is There Meaning in Evil and Suffering? Q&A (part 3 of 3)

Muskoka Q&A (part 1 of 2)

Muskoka Q&A (part 2 of 2)

Cornell Q&A (part 1 of 2)

Cornell Q&A (part 2 of 2)

Calvary Chapel Q&A (part 1 of 2)

Calvary Chapel Q&A (part 2 of 2)

Fourth Presbyterian Q&A (part 1 of 3)

Fourth Presbyterian Q&A (part 2 of 3)

Fourth Presbyterian Q&A (part 3 of 3)

Oxford Q&A (part 1 of 6)

Oxford Q&A (part 2 of 6)

Oxford Q&A (part 3 of 6)

Oxford Q&A (part 4 of 6)

Oxford Q&A (part 5 of 6)

Oxford Q&A (part 6 of 6)

Weber State Q&A (part 1 of 4)

Weber State Q&A (part 2 of 4)

Weber State Q&A (part 3 of 4)

Weber State Q&A (part 4 of 4)

Penn State University Q&A (part 1 of 3)

Penn State University Q&A (part 2 of 3)

Penn State University Q&A (part 3 of 3)

Michael Coren Q&A (part 1 of 2)

Michael Coren Q&A (part 2 of 2)

Things I Wish I’d Learned Sooner

Writing is hard work. If you want to be a professional writer, you have to be professional.

Hard work isn’t evil.

Not everyone who claims to be a Christian is.

Shy people can be anything underneath.

A high metabolism isn’t enough to keep you fit.

Loneliness can foster desperation. Desperation is repellant, which can lead to more loneliness. Patience is the better way.

On that note, finding the girl of my dreams was totally worth the wait. Turns out that there was no reason to freak out!

As much time as I spent loafing around, I’d have to make up later.

Simple car maintenance can save you a lot of time and money. Hoo, boy.

There is a truly delicious custard pie. Flapper pie, it’s called. I thought no such thing could be possible.

Depression can be strangely comfortable.

Cleverness isn’t everything.

Tone of voice matters as much as – if not more than – word choice.

Jesus was telling the truth. About everything. Man, figuring that out would have saved me some trouble.

Geeks Step Up

On 3/16, Bungie – creator of the Halo series –  announced a fundraiser for relief efforts in Japan. Japan quake relief wristbands are available for $5 through the Bungie Store and, with the proceeds going to the Red Cross.

So, a video game company tries to help out. Should generate a little money, right?

The wristbands were sold out within hours and quickly became the #1 bestseller in the Amazon clothing category. That made the Bungie’s Weekly Update.

Valve is jumping in, too. Team Fortress 2 players can now by in-game items, also to benefit the Red cross.

Let it never be said that geeks don’t care.

One Kind of Grace

We Christians talk about God’s grace a lot. It’s central to how Christianity works. If you’ve spent any time around a church, you’ve probably heard it defined as “undeserved favor.”

This illustration might help.

You’re running a game of Dungeons & Dragons. You manage to herd your players into the villain’s castle for their first showdown. They navigate the halls, fighting back the guards and foiling a few clever traps, when they get to the hall with the encounter you have planned.

Behind the door at the end of the hall, you know, waits the villain’s personal bodyguard. The party has fought him before, but now they finally get to beat him. They’re already banged up, but that will just add to the drama. All is going according to plan.

That is, until one of the players declares that his character runs ahead of everyone and opens the door. Everyone gives him odd looks. “Dude, give us a sec to heal.” Oddly confident, he says, “No, no. I got it.”

Weird, you think, but you can work with it. The bodyguard spots him and lunges with his heavily enchanted halberd. “Okay,” the player says, “I tell him-”

“Um, you don’t really have time to say anything. He was waiting for you, holding his attack. You guys were kind of invading his master’s castle.”


Wondering why that wasn’t obvious, you roll the bodyguard’s attack. 20.

You pause.

By rights, the guy should be dead. He’s already taken a bunch of damage, and a major character just delivered a critical hit. Besides, he just put himself and the rest of the party in danger with a stupid mistake, even after everyone tried to stop him. He totally deserves what he gets.

The thing is, you had plans for that character. He was crucial to an upcoming part of the story. And despite how much he annoys you and the party sometimes, you love that character. You see potential in him that no one else does, and you want to see him develop. You want to see him win.

“How many hit points do you have?” you ask him.

“Um… 12.”

You roll damage. With the critical hit, the total comes to 36.

“11 damage,’ you say.


Take a moment and consider everything in your life that could have gone worse.

Thirsty for Gadgets

Jen’s due for a phone upgrade. This is a very exciting time.

Right now, she has the Blackberry Curve 2. It’s served her well, but she’s ready to move up. A manual trackball seems like a kludge by comparison, especially when it collects lint and won’t scroll.

We’ve been browsing AT&T’s smartphone selection, and we’ve been impressed with the new Android phones they just rolled out. I spent a while with the HTC Inspire, and I’m pretty much sold. Sucker is big, but the screen is so shiny! And parents can’t resist a good 8-megapixel camera.

Then there’s the Motorola Atrix. It’s a phone you can use as a laptop. I’m pretty sure the processor in that phone is faster than the one in my computer. The big difference for Jen, though? It has a camera on the front, which would let us video chat. That’s what sold her on the iPod.

Which brings us to an odd thought. Jen’s already got a music player that records HD video, has a web browser, runs a bazillion apps, and, oh yeah, plays music.

Somewhere, deep down, my inner curmudgeon is saying, “Back in my day, MP3 players could only hold 10 songs, and had buttons! And we liked it just fine! We didn’t have any of these appy things or wiffy or Grumpy Birds! And cellular phones were for making calls! Bah.”

But more to the point, Jen and I are wondering how many gadgets we really need. Don’t get me wrong: I love me some gadgets. I’m thirsty for gadgets. Really, that’s why I’m trying to reel myself in.

We’re trying to find the line between having nice things and sheer technological gluttony.

Jen ended up getting the Inspire today. So far, very good. We’ll see what happens once all the music gets loaded onto it.

Early Bird

I woke up this morning fighting inertia; that is, trying unsuccessfully to get my limbs to move. I was apparently trapped in some quantum Monday gravity well. Rough stuff.

I immediately started weighing my options. Summon my will and just get up? Hrrk. Okay, plan B. Hit the snooze for a third time? Tempting. But what could I cut out of my morning routine? Writing? Showering? Making myself lunch?

I stared at the ceiling for a while. No appealing options.

It took me a bit, but I got up and wrote.

My problem with mornings comes when I give myself the option of sleeping in. I’d roll out of bed 20 minutes before I had to leave every day if it weren’t for my commitment.

See, I know I’m supposed to be writing. It’s just awfully hard to find the time. I’m a dad, a husband, an associate pastor, and a full-time state worker. And I need to rest sometimes, too.

I realized — to my dismay — that the best time for me to consistently write was in the early morning, before work.

And I knew that if I just tried to write “whenever I had the time,” it would never happen. I heard it from people who know, and I knew it from experience. The only way it would work is if I decided in advance to actually do it.

I wrote half of this post at six in the morning, half after six at night. Whatever works, right?

Is there something you need to commit to? Something that’s been bugging you for a while? Maybe a long while? Try it. Lose some sleep if you need to. It might just be worth the sacrifice.

And if this blog post was worth the sacrifice, lemme know in the comments! Heh.