A couple of weeks later I went back for the second crown. The dentist who had done the first tooth no longer worked there. Instead they had a new guy. But he was very different.
He kept me in the chair for six and a half hours. Three times the Novocaine wore off and had to be re-injected. Over and over he told me to close my teeth, even when I kept telling him that my cheek was swollen and in the way. He demanded I close my teeth on my cheek until the blood was flowing freely. And he mangled my crown and the tooth behind it, which didn't need work to begin with. I ended up with a massive cheek infection that lasted for two weeks even with antibiotics. Don't forget, I am a very nervous dental patient!
And then he charged me extra for fixing the damage he did to the tooth behind the crown - the one that hadn't needed work at all.
I had decided not to go back. But when I saw my endodontist last week, I told her and her receptionist about what had happened. To my surprise, I got a call from her receptionist on Friday. Short version: that dentist got fired. Apparently he mangled a lot of other people, too. And some of them, unlike me, complained about it. The funniest thing was that it turns out that he was a prison dentist for twenty years! So I guess he was used to working on people who couldn't complain.
So now I can honestly say that I've spent six and a half hours being tortured by a prison dentist.
But one friend did go this year, and for some reason he asked a lot of people why I was kicked out. I would have rather he hadn't done that, but I didn't know until I was too late. Anyway, here's what apparently all the Arisia people he spoke to agreed on:
I broke the code. I did the unforgivable, by speaking out against Arisia in a public forum. Program participants represent Arisia, and by going on the record complaining about Arisia, they commit the unforgivable sin and will be banned forever from being a program participant.
I had several thoughts when I heard this. First, who the hell are all these people who know me and why I was kicked out? Are they seriously that obsessed with revenge, considering that they're dealing with a scandal-plagued con that's in a death spiral? At what point did Arisia adopt the code of Omerta - the Mafia code of silence?
Also, given how hostile Arisia has usually been to ANY criticism, it seems that their approach is to basically stifle any and all critiques. That isn't new, of course. Arisia has always had a problem with that. Still, it seems surprisingly absolute - and stupid. How can they improve if they attack anyone who dares speak out about a problem?
Then another thought occurred to me. Top people in Arisia went public about the con covering up allegations of rape and harassment. Have those people been banned by Arisia? Obviously not. So does this code of silence only apply to "lesser" people? Which people? Is this code written down somewhere? Shouldn't program participants be warned about it?
Hey, won't I be double-banned for writing this?
Okay, seriously. I don't want to go back to Arisia. Not as long as it is what it has become: a sanctimonious bunch of hypocrites eager to punish those who complain about bad treatment. People who proudly proclaim how tolerant they are, while using their own biases to shut down inoffensive topics that they don't like. A vengeful clique with an enemies list. People who are more concerned about having enough ribbons listing the wearer's preferred personal pronouns than about producing a safe, fun, welcoming convention for everyone.
I was at the first Arisia, and never missed one until I was kicked out two years ago. This isn't the Arisia I loved in the old days. The current management are not the sort of fans I want to hang out with - much less spend a thousand dollars or more to see. They've driven out most of the best people. I only hope that when Arisia implodes a new, better con is created in its place. If that happens, I'll support it to the best of my ability.
I'm at the point where I don't take critics seriously about any movie anymore.
If you’re a Diablo fan and haven’t played the Diablo 1 HD mod, you have a total delight in store. It’s an amazingly detailed and enormously expanded version of Diablo 1, updated for modern displays and Windows versions. It’s also rebalanced to make it effectively more than four times bigger than the original Diablo 1.
Oh, the mod is also named Belzebub (sp). I’m going to call it Belzebub below to avoid confusion. But it is, in truth, the original Diablo 1 game - with huge improvements.
The graphics are, of course, the originals. They look a bit better, but they’re still not anything close to modern. But it wasn’t amazing graphics that made Diablo 1 a genre-creating game anyway. Unlike Diablo 1, Belzebub will run on Windows 10 (and Windows XP, and everything between those OSes). You can set it to as high as 1920 x 1080 resolution, allowing you to see a much larger area of the game. You can also zoom in and out within a large range by using your mouse’s scroll button.
Now let’s talk about gameplay improvements.
Storage has been enormously improved. Your own character’s storage is still the same with 40 individual slots. But you now have a private stash in the village which contains 50 tabs with 100 slot each - 10 x 10, for a total of 5,000 slots!
What’s more, you also have a trade stash. This is ten tabs of 100 slots each. It works like normal storage, except it can be accessed by any character that has been run on the same system. In other words, you can effortlessly trade items between your characters.
Items in these storage containers are saved with the game. You can exit and come back later, and they will still be there. There’s also an additional storage option, but that’s connected to Crafting. I’ll discuss that later on.
Gold has also been made much more convenient. Rather than being limited to 5,000 gold per slot, the limit is now a million gold per slot. You can also put gold in your private and trading stashes. If my math is correct, that means that you can have a total of - wait for it - 6,400,000,000 gold - that’s over six billion!
Installation is a breeze. All it takes is copying the files to a drive, and running the Belzebub executable. Make a shortcut to the executable, if you want, and you’re good to go. The total size is 560MB. That’s not a typo. Five hundred and sixty megabytes. And you won’t need the Diablo 1 CD to play the game.
There are several places that you can download the game. You can Google “Diablo 1 HD mod Belzebub”, or just use these links:
The mod files can be downloaded here: https://diablo-hd-belzebub.en.uptodown.
Make a new folder (I call mine Diablo 1 HD Mod) and unzip the files into that. Also download the DIABDAT.MPQ file here:
Saving has changed. It’s no longer a snapshot of the second that you saved; rather, it saves when you exit. Waypoints that you’ve opened will remain open, but levels will be re-generated and re-stocked with monsters. So it’s now the same as Diablo 2, in that regard.
Oh, I’ve heard that Multiplayer play is possible over a LAN, but I haven’t had a chance to try that yet.
Character classes have been expanded. You can play the original Warrior, Rogue, and Sorcerer classes, but now you can also play a Barbarian, Necromancer, or Assassin. I should note that I’ve only played a Sorcerer so far, so I can’t yet provide class-specific tips for the other categories.
Skills have been fixed and expanded to increase class differentiation. The Repair skill of the Warrior and the Recharge skill of the Sorcerer have been made actually useful, by making them only have a chance of success, but without the risk of reducing the maximum durability or charges of the item. Better still, new character-specific skills have been added, for a total of five per class. I’ve only played a sorcerer so far, so I can’t talk about the skills of the other classes yet. But in addition to Staff Recharge, Sorcerers now have access to Elemental Drain (which temporarily increases your ability to penetrate resistances and immunities), Mana Shield (which is no longer a spell, but acts as one), Etherealize (reducing the damage you take for a short time), and Temporal Slowdown - which slows down the rest of the world for a short period, from your perspective. Mana Shield also no longer goes down when mana reaches zero; if you restore mana with a potion before all your hit points are gone, further damage will go against the mana again.
Permanent effects have been fixed. Remember the shrines and cauldrons that could ruin your character forever by reducing maximum mana? Those are now timed, temporary effects. They can be canceled by simply clicking on an icon in the upper right corner. On the downside, characteristic-increasing potions have also been nerfed. They work for nine minutes, and don’t stack. But to balance that out, the permanent hit point reduction cause by the Black Death zombies has been eliminated.
Spells have been greatly increased. There are now six levels of spell with seven spells in each level. In addition to the old familiar spells, there are new spells based on Diablo II spells - including cold spells, more area-effect spells, and convenient new spells such as Warp, which teleports you to the nearest entry or exit point within range.
One spell has been seriously nerfed: Stone Curse. It now has only a chance of turning a target to stone, and can be resisted. What’s more, if it’s successful the target gains a very high damage resistance while it’s petrified. That makes it more a spell for crowd control, rather than the ultimate spell that it was in Diablo 1.
Waypoints have been inserted from Diablo 2. There are still the usual 16 levels, but there are now waypoints on every second level. That’s Cathedral levels 2 and 4, Crypts 6 and 8, Caves 10 and 12, and Hell 14 and 16. The Waypoints must be activated just as with Diablo 2, of course.
Quests which were planned for the original Diablo 1 but were deleted before release have now been completed and implemented. They include two village-based quests, as well as quite a few additional quests underground. Some of these take you to new areas which are effectively areas in themselves. For example, the Butcher is no longer in the usual room; once you’re there, you have to find a way to get to the Butcher’s lair, which is filled with a lot more demons before you get to the Butcher himself.
There are two quests which require a bit of explanation. An Arcane Sanctuary quest has been added to the Crypts; you reach it when you find three Ancient Tomes in two squares and a rectangle. There’s also a quest in the caves which requires you to stand on four stones in the correct order. A hint: it’s always best to consider what’s new, or what’s snew!
Bosses and mini-bosses are now much more difficult. They tend to have more resistances and to be generally much tougher; it’s no longer practical to just spam a mouse button. Strategy is necessary. For example, the Valor quest is much as it was before, except that the end boss is a killer. He’s not just more powerful; he actually uses spells such as Firewall against you, too.
Death has become less painful. That’s good, because you’re likely to die much more often - or at least, I did. Rather than dropping your equipped gear, you simply drop some gold when you die; a substantial enough amount to hurt, but at least you come back with all your gear!
Items have enormously increased in both number and variety. Again, this seems to be based on Diablo 2. There are set items which show in green; so far these all seem to be the same as in D2. There are uniques, and rares, with prefixes and suffixes. Many items have quite a few properties! Qualities which were once given in absolutes or with a limited number of possibilities now have their improvements listed as percentages, which vary quite a lot. For example, hit recovery speed is now a percentage, and can be increased by multiple equipped items at once. The same is true for speed of attack.
There are also items which can increase Spellpower. These generally increase damage for all spells by a percentage. Items which increase spell levels (either for individual spells, all spells, or both) also still exist.
Tristram itself has changed a bit. There’s a couple of new NPCs, including one from Diablo 2. NPC locations have been made a bit more convenient (especially Wirt), and more characters give quests now. Vocals seem to have been recorded for the reinstated quests when D1 was created, so you can hear some interesting new comments from old favorites. As I mentioned earlier, there are some quests which are now village-based.
One thing that seems minor, but that really makes a difference is NPC movement. Some NPCs still stay in place, but others now move around the village; they seem to be talking with each other. It gives the village a more real feeling, somehow.
Refreshment has been added at Adria’s. Just as Peppin the healer will heal you for free, Adria apparently offers free drinks; these restore your mana to full. It’s a nice idea.
Crafting is a major addition. It’s not quite like crafting in D2 or D3. It can only be started once you’ve successfully completed the Anvil of Fury quest. The Anvil is then set up next to Griswold’s forge. You can use it to Salvage magic items that you don’t want to sell (including items which have zero value - they generally don’t produce much, but they will produce something of value), creating gems, oils, tokens, and symbols. At about the same time that you finish that quest, you’ll start finding recipes occasionally among treasure. They look like scrolls, but they are listed in orange text. These are learned by simply right-clicking on them once they’re in your inventory. Once you’ve learned a recipe, it disappears - but you now know the recipe permanently.
Using the Anvil you can put ingredients and items together to create powerful new class-specific items. Recipes include random powers along with specified ones, so you can redo a recipe if you don’t like the result. There are higher levels of recipe which produce more powerful items, but these are only available in higher difficulties!
Oh, one more tip: the area of the Anvil where the gems/oils/tokens appear from salvaged magic items is another durable storage area. The items in it persist from game to game.
Difficulties have been increased by one: there’s now Normal, Nightmare, Hell, and Torment. However those levels are seamless. Difficulty has been rescaled, making the higher levels feel more like extensions of the whole game. There are many items, spells, and skills that you can’t attain in Normal. That makes the game itself feel more than four times bigger!
To get specific for a moment, Golems have been changed a bit. They don’t seem to be quite as aggressive any more, and they’re less liable to open doors on their own. They’re not affected by attack spells, although they can still be injured and destroyed by standing in firewalls or lightning walls. They can be healed with Heal Other, which is handy.
One drawback to golems is that sometimes they can block a doorway or narrow space. If you move towards them, however, they move a little away from you and you can get through.
Although the game has been enhanced to a remarkable degree - it’s really impressive - it’s still the original Diablo 1 at its core; the classic horror CRPG that created the genre.
And it’s a hell of a lot better than any mobile game, you can bet on that!
[I was originally planning to include images, but don’t have time for that now. I may add them to the webpage of this writeup later.]
I'm tempted to say "If I'd only known, I'd have skipped the cosplay and just raped someone."
But that would be tasteless. Still, it's nice to know that Arisia kept the con safe from atheist events. I'm sure that was a good use of their time!
It runs on anything from Windows XP to Win10. It's Diablo 1, the game that created the modern computer RPG genre, but extremely expanded - deleted quests have been finished and implemented, as have a number of features from Diablo 2. It's a truly impressive piece of work.
I was thinking of writing it up, and noting all the differences that I've found between the original and this mod. Of course I'd include links to the files themselves, which are remarkably easy to install and *don't* require the original Diablo 1 CD-ROM. So...should I write it, or not?
This troubles me. G+ users were an unusual community; more thoughtful than Facebook, and kinder than Reddit. You pretty much had to be an interesting person to stay there while the Facebook juggernaut rolled on.
I have to admit something: I had pretty much given up on social media for the last six months or so. Facebook had become intolerable to me, with its frenetic shallowness and judgmentalism. Reddit was simply toxic. I couldn't help but see social media as a hollow replacement for the real-world, long-term social interaction that we as social animals have evolved to need: privatized, monetized, monitorable, and controllable. A roadblock to any chance of long-term human survival or a living decent human life.
But with the impending shutdown of Google Plus, I saw that people could actually work together online for a constructive purpose. That's a rare thing, and I value it. The thought of a community that can do that - and that cares enough to do that - being scattered to the winds makes me sad.
That's all I've got. I don't have an answer. Thanks for reading this.
MeWe - https://mewe.com/i/petermaranci
Pluspora (Diaspora pod) - https://pluspora.com/people/
Minds - https://www.minds.com/Quasit
I'm also on LiveJournal, Reddit, Gab, Meetup, Twitter, Blogspot, Ello (I'd forgotten about that), and some even more obscure places. But I don't use those much.
I'd like to suggest considering a social media site that hasn't been talked about here, as far as I know: Dreamwidth.
Dreamwidth has been operating for eleven years now. It has circles, communities, tags, the ability to follow or be followed *without* "friending", and it has an active and generally friendly body of users. It's not swarmed with memes, or at least the parts that I see aren't. You can create different views that will allow you to see posts from specified groups of friends or communities. Privacy controls are outstanding, and the service as a whole is *very* easy to use.
It's ad-free. There are free accounts, and there is no posting limit. There are also paid accounts; they get the additional option of searching their posts internally.
They keep out spammers quite effectively. Their policies on free speech are enlightened; when the Russian government started enforcing restrictive and homophobic policies on LiveJournal, many users migrated to Dreamwidth.
The code is a fork of LiveJournal code. It was set up by ex-LiveJournal staffers, and they have continued to update and improve it. Journals can be imported to other LJ-code-based sites, and posts can be automatically copied elsewhere at your option. You the option of logging in via OpenID.
It's not perfect. There's a mobile app for LJ-type sites, but it doesn't work very well. I use the browser on my Android to post there instead, but that's not ideal.
As far as I know, there's no way to download your data - although you can mirror your posts on LJ-based sites.
Here's my Dreamwidth journal, although most of the posts are private and won't show; I've had a couple of stalkers over the years, although as far as I know neither was actually a Dreamwidth user.
And here's the Wikipedia entry about the site. I do think it's worth considering.
We cleaned the hell out of the main floor. We dusted, mopped, scrubbed, neatened, swept, vacuumed, you name it. I hand-sewed armchair arm covers for the chair that Widget has clawed to near-destruction. I even scrubbed the front door!
For the party I made burgers. They came out really well - big, tender, juicy, and smoky. We had ice cream for dessert, and I bought four flavors from Wright's Dairy Farm: chocolate, apple crisp, coffee, and maple walnut. They were great. Their ice cream has improved since the last time I had it, incidentally.
I almost forgot: Sebastian and I had our own little birthday celebration on Friday evening. We went to That's Entertainment in Worcester, and I bought him a Darth Vader movie replica helmet, Black Series. It was expensive, but he loves it. And it's a really high-quality item. I also bought us some movies and graphic novels. Then we had dinner at Coney Island hot dogs (which, despite the name, is in Worcester).
It was a good weekend.
I did some research, and found that although the chair was labeled as manufactured by a well-known company with a good reputation, the name had actually been licensed to a sleazy manufacturer who produced crappy chairs. So I looked around some more and found a big-and-tall chair that was highly recommended. It cost about $170, so I ordered it.
It took a while to arrive. But when it got here, I was impressed. It's much more solid than the old chair ever was. The support is great, the hydraulics work, the legs don't run into the desk legs, and it can hold up to 400 lbs - which is 50 pounds MORE than was advertised!
[Just for the record, I'm under 260 pounds and falling. And I never got over 305 in my life.]
What really surprised me was how much it helped with my work. Typing is much easier, and I'm much more accurate now. My back feels much better, thanks to the lumbar support. This is one case where spending some money was really worth it!
So I went to the store. The clerk recommended I buy a router to replace the Xfinity one. It was pricey, but I figured it would be worth it. We stream a lot. In fact, we hardly ever watch broadcast TV. The only reason we get TV from Comcast at all is because they'd charge us more for just internet.
But our WiFi remained terrible.
This didn't make sense to me. My place isn't that big. Comcast had refused to give us a second wired connection to the TV, but the router was still less than 20 feet away from the TV - albeit one floor up. No matter how I aimed the router's antennae, the WiFi signal never stayed good for long.
So I went back to the store. The clerk recommended a range extender. It was pricey, but I had bought a large-screen TV a few months ago and I'm already paying for Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube Red; I figured it would be worth it.
Still our WiFi remained terrible. I tried moving the range-extender around, But no matter where I put it, our signal was totally unreliable. Drops, long pauses, low resolution...all the time.
Maybe you know how utterly frustrating it is when you're really into a show, and suddenly it freezes and that damned "loading" circle appears - only to be replaced after a few minutes with "Signal lost, check your internet connection". I grew up in the age of broadcast TV and rabbit ears, and I swear that our signal was much more reliable back then. And it was free!
So I went back to the store. The clerk suggested I set up a mesh network; he said that would fix the problem for sure. But it was pricey. Too pricey. It was $500, and I just didn't have that kind of money to blow on TV any more. So I bought a fifty-foot ethernet cable for $14.99. We went home, plugged one end into the router, ran the cable down the stairs and plugged the other end into the TV.
I've never seen such a crystal-clear picture. And not a single pause in the last two days!
I ended up going for a Pixel XL. It's brand new, and only $309; what's more, the version I'm getting has 128GB (!) of storage. That's four times more storage than any other phone I've owned!
I was worried for a moment that it would be a locked phone, but a quick query of the seller confirmed that it is unlocked, fully AT&T compatible, and the US edition of the phone. I'm feeling positive about this.
My current phone is a discontinued South Korean model. It's usable, but limited and VERY slippery. There's no cover that will fit it.
When the phone arrived, I tried to peel the plastic film off the screen. To my surprise, the screen itself wasn't fully attached; it was entirely detached from the lower left corner, and I could literally see inside the phone. It had clearly been dropped, hard, on that corner. There was visible damage inside. The phone worked, apparently, but had clearly been "refurbished" in the shoddiest way imaginable.
On further investigation, the screen turned out to be detached from the entire lower half of the phone. I did some research, and found that Woot had been acquired some time ago by Amazon. It seems that Amazon uses Woot to sell garbage that they can't or won't sell on Amazon itself.
And this phone was literally garbage. So I contacted Woot and told them I'd be returning it for a full refund. They sent me a prepaid return label, and I shipped it back.
The thing is, I still want a new phone. I won't buy a used or refurbished phone, and I'll certainly never buy anything from Woot again. I don't want to spend what it will cost to buy a new new phone - not directly from a manufacturer, anyway. But there are new-in-box older model phones available on eBay.
Here's what I'm considering:
A Pixel (1) XL - an excellent camera, but will only get Android updates for another year at most. And the manufacturer, Google, is a company I no longer like or trust.
An Essential phone. Titanium and ceramic, and not manufactured by Google. It has virtually no bezel, but that's a negative; my current phone has a tiny bezel, and it's actually a drawback. My palm isn't that fat, but it still tends to bulge around the edge enough to cause the screen to get confused or fail to respond. I never had that problem with a normal cellphone, by the way.
Last is an older OnePlus phone. I don't know much about that.
I was delighted to discover that "A Visit to Hades" included a scene that has been stuck in my head for over 30 years now: Dr. Smith cutting the center out of Penny's birthday cake, and then shoving the sides together and re-frosting the cake to create a smaller football-shaped cake.
I think Sebastian wants to watch more of those old episodes. And he says he doesn't think he's going to watch the new ones.