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DEMOLITION DAYS, PART 95

Continuing
He still came around making trouble, but oddly enough, our little cul-de-sac corner was more-or-less Batshit Crazy-free for the next 34 months.
After that, things sort of calmed down. Well, one of his older boys thought it would be fun to attack Khris, push her off her bike, and try and steal the Uzbek sapphire amulet I had gotten her years earlier.
Khris is not a small girl; she is a corn-fed daughter of the vast cow-pocked hills and rolling pastures of Baja Canada. She didn’t take lightly to some weasely little Arab probably future pole-smokers trying to steal from and assaulting her.
It took more than one punch, but Khris coldcocked the elder of the Guano Insano clan and laid him out so an undertaker could have taken easy measurements. Oh, he was still breathing, but I nevertheless think he was shammin’, playin’ possum until Daddy Dearest could come and rescue him from the rage of wrathful Wisconsinians.
Liam and I were sitting in the porch area of his villa, smoking cigars, drinking our sunrisers, watching the tableau unfold. We both thought Khris handled the situation well, particularly the outcome. The miscreant was out cold’n a foundered mackerel and Khris didn’t heel-stamp him in the chuckle-bits nor curb-stomp his head even though he had initially, and without provocation, punched Khris in the head.
Major stylistic points, Khris.
After 6 or 7 of his offspring rant to alert him, Señor Srībaśita Inasēna came over to shovel his insensible frogspawn up off the tarmac. He was ranting and raving, screaming and splitting the air with threats, dark oaths and other forms of bad noise.
He headed straight for Khris to administer a smackdown, as Khris resolutely held her ground.
I merely stood up and asked Khris if she needed some help.
She replied in the negative, stating that this fool wasn’t going to be much more of a challenge than ‘his idiot kid’
I swear, he went, even more, batshit crazy. However, something clicked and Señor Srībaśita Inasēna looked over his shoulder to see not one, but two near-identical way-more-crazy than he extra-large people standing there, both with cigars and icy cold drinks. He suddenly seemed to experience a spate of total recall how one of the large apparitions said he’d begin him on his journey toward room temperature if he so much as sneered in our direction.
He scooped up his unconscious spawn, muttered something none of us could make out, and scurried back to his loathsome piece of home real estate.
That was more or less the end of our run-ins with Señor Srībaśita Inasēna and his extended tribe.
Swing forward to the late summer. The weather calmed a bit and one’s skin didn’t immediately bubble every time one went out to collect the local morning news-rag. Things were going well for the cul-de-sac; jobs were advancing apace, children were doing well in their various studies, people were, oh what was that word? Ah, yes, happy.
Happy people do fun things.
So, it was decided it was time we have a block party.
Of course, Liam came up with the brilliant idea that we should have a pig roast.
“Umm, Liam”, I ahemed, “In case you forgot, we live in an Arabic Muslim country in the Middle East. Pigs and pork and porcine parts are sort of verboten around here. “
“Ok, Rock”, Liam laughed, “I know that, you know that, my hat knows that. But we Brits must have our bacon, sausage, and chops. It’s in our DNA. Besides, I can get one flown in through my company; under the wire. I could sneak him over here easily. We’d just have to keep him under wraps until bar-be-que time rolls around. You’re from Texas, so…”
“Adopted native son” I corrected.
“Right”, Liam continued, “But you were from Baja Canada first, so you must know how to cook a whole pig…”
“That right, I do, but…, I said, “…you want to bring a live pig in here, and keep him for a while until we can sort out the cooking necessities. We can’t use the industrial-sized stoves in the rec center at the pool. That’d raise a few eyebrows…”
Es and Cassandra wander over, listen for a bit and exclaim “Are you both out of your tiny, little minds?”
I had to admit, as I poured Liam and myself a refill, that the idea did have a certain ‘Up Yours!’ mouthwatering bacon-scented charm.
So, all four of us sat outside and over beer, vodka, and white wine for the ladies, we brewed up a perhaps passable project for our pig party.
The thing was, I’d be gone offshore for a couple of weeks and the pig would have to live at someone’s villa, under wraps, for that time; which actually escalated to 3 months.
Esme, surprising as always, volunteered to take on the task.
Might have been the white wine talking, but she admitted to missing bacon as well.
“OK, but we’re going to need a bar-be-cue pit. Where and when?” Liam asked.
“I’ll talk to Shiehk Gungan and secure permission for a Hawaiian-style pit bar-be-cue for someone or other’s fake birthday. If we can get Vonn and Honey Bee on board, their villa’s backyard backs up to a tall brick wall bordering the alley behind the City Centre. I could put in a pit there easily, and it would be out of the purview of prying eyes.” I said.
“Good”, Casandra said, “Let me get the gin and tonic makin’s and get Vonn and Honey over here as well as Dane and Dyad. Gonna have a block party, make sure you invite the entire block.”
Over the term of the afternoon, we had our plans.
Liam would secure a pig for us; approximately 200-300 pounds, on the hoof. It’d stay in our backyard under both our sun tarp and Esme Srs.’ care until Pig Killin’ Time. Liam, Vonn, and I would handle that little chore. I’d get permission to ‘dig’ a pit and install the bar-be-cue pit in Honey and Vonn’s back yard. Liam and I would handle the actual roast, and we’d all chip in for charcoal and wood smokin’ chunks, and whatever else we could find.
Dyad said she knew many, many farmers it the area and many had fruit trees, in various stages of repair. Certainly, some of that would smoke up a treat. Persimmon, pomegranate, fig, mango, durian, banana…all the earmarks of a weird pig roast.
So we had a date, a plan and the ingredients for a complete fiasco. Since Sr. Guano Insano was no longer part of the picture, and as we had few interlopers, this might actually work without all of us being tossed into the hoosegow.
I’d liberate a bit of pit diggin’ materials from work, just a small amount of dynamite, C-4, and Primacord; I already had the blasting machines. Vonn and Liam would lay in the charcoal and wood for the actual pig roast and well, Bob’s your uncle.
I went offshore to complete the 12th well on the platform and had to deal with all the logistics, bureaucracy and other sanctioned horseshit that comes with the territory. It took almost exactly 3 weeks, and at that time, Esme’s initial negative reaction to pig-sitting had changed considerably.
She had named the critter and found it to be a rather clever, and even sociable, beast. She even allowed it free reign of our house.
The name she chose was one from an old, endearing structural professor: Prof Pinkus (Prof. Pink-ass).
Ahem.
This was an unforeseen complication.
“Es, remember, “ I said over the phone, “That pig is not a pet. It’s not your buddy. It’s not going shopping with you. It’s going to be the guest of honor at a block party. Perspective, please.”
“Oh, Rock”, Es gushed, “I know that. It just makes it easier to keep up with Prof. Pinkus if you treat him like a pet rather than livestock.”
“Es!”, I yell, “He IS livestock. Soon to be deadstock. Soon to be crisply pit barbequed to a crackly crunch. He’s not your friend, he’s breakfast, lunch, and dinner!”
“OK, love you too.” Es says, ignoring me, “See you soon. Safe flights. Keep the shiny side up.”
I hang up. “Oh, shit. This does not bode well.” I mused on the flight shoreward.
I have to admit, pigs can be personable animals. Canny, inquisitive, seemingly intelligent. But even so, that does not trump them being delicious, appetizing, and delectable generators of bacon. Prof. Pinkus is going to be ham, bacon, and sausage soon. Not a boon companion.
The next day I ‘dig’ the pit for the barbeque. I used a shovel for exactly 2 minutes and dynamite, C-4, and primacord for a few more. Vonn was astonished that I not only dug a 6’x6’x4’ wide hole in less than an afternoon, but that I did it while smoking a cigar, drinking an, ok, several icy adult beverages, and never even breaking a sweat in the hellish late summer heat.
The Bobcat with the mounted backhoe, which I had ‘borrowed’ from work, helped a little.
Liam wandered over after the pyrotechnics were done. He didn’t care for them as the noise ‘offended his ears’. Truth be told, he had seen enough pyro jobs go south in his line of work and wanted nothing to do with them. I assured him I was a licensed Master Blaster as well as the one and only Motherfucking Pro from Dover, but it took some time to get him up to speed on the use of explosives for fun and profit.
We let the pit settle, as it was in mostly in desert sand held together with a bit of aeolian clay, or loess. We kept it wet and covered with sheets of canvas. It’d be fine for our pit barbeque in the days hence.
Vonn, Liam and I fabricobbled a cover for the pit which was made of thatched palm fronds supported by ½” pine furring-strips frame along the outer surface. Dane found a hunk of tin stove pipe and we fashioned a nicely workable chimney for the cover. Once the fire was going, and the pig in its new home, we could set the cover over the pit, shovel earth over it to seal it off and use the iris-valve in the chimney to regulate airflow.
One looks at it now, it would almost appear that we knew what we were doing.
Probably nothing was further from the truth.
We needed to ‘season’ the pit, but first, we needed to line the pit with rocks. This serves to hold the heat, and will even out its distribution. But, all we have to use is limestone around here and if limestone ever gets wet, there might be water in the fractures of the rocks. Heat that up to over 1000C and you’ve got yourself a nifty little bomb.
Of course, this will not do…
So, I get on the phone with several ‘exotic’ marble companies in the big city of Duhu. I call around asking if they might have some scrap sheets of granite, quartzite, granodiorite or marble.
Sure, for a price.
However, there was this one place where I knew this guy…
He took in huge, and I mean 4m x 5m x 5m blocks of exotic rock from the subcontinent; black granite, “Reaping Equinox’ black and white ‘granite’; most all these ‘granites’ were granodiorites, Inferno Granite, Black Sunset granite sliced thin into façade facing dimension stone, it was absolutely gorgeous in cross-section. However, the best stuff was igneous-metamorphic, tougher than a $2 steak, and just laughed at diamond carbide saw blades.
“Oh, sure now Mr., Dr. Rock”, Mr. Prakash Dongerkerry, the owneoperator of one particular lot I scavenge for Esme’s continuing lapidary hobby, “I’ve got some beauty stuff here for you. But I need some help with these couple of blocks I received from Kerala. Great rock, very pretty, but too tough. Burn out many saws, boss. You can help maybe?”
“Sure, Prak”, I replied, “I can help, no sweat.”
So, next Friday Liam and me, we eased over to the granite factory, C-4, blasting caps and Primacord in hand. Prak was a little apprehensive about using high explosives in a densely populated area, but after Vonn reminded him that he was working with the Motherfucking Pro from Dover, he relaxed some.
I crawled all over those blocks, marking with orange spray paint the nature fractures, flaws, and features of each block. Asked Prak how he’d like them split, and he indicated parallel to the major axis.
It couldn’t be easier. There was a main body-fracture system normal to the σ1 stress direction. The one’s parallel to the σ2 and σ3 were minor and nowhere near as clearly developed.
I smooshed some C-4 into a test fracture, primed it and shot it without much ado. It was surprisingly quiet for a detonation. A cute little C-4 POP.
A large slab of rock fell off the main block, severed as nicely as a hunk of cold butter from a hot knife.
Prak was thrilled. I only had another 12 or so shots to go.
They all more or less came off as planned. One or two busted when they bounced, even after the addition of old car tires below where I was blasting.
Prak, good to his word, showed us a huge pile of 1.25” thick sawn quartzite slabs that were rejected for mostly cosmetic reasons. It takes a bit of math, a bit of doing, and a lot of C-4 to extract slabs enough to line our fire pit from stem to stern, top to bottom.
Once installed, the pit was a tad less wide, a bit less deep, and a smidge less long, but it was the only Precambrian-quartzite lined bar-be-que pit in this or any other known galaxy.
We celebrated the initial fire up with whiskey and hors-d'oeuvres. I stuck with vodka, ice, lime, citrus stuff, and a Jamaican cigar.
The pit flared from the amount of dry wood we initially used. It burned very quickly into a pile of glowing embers. Now, we added some local lump charcoal and popped on the top, now sporting an exhaust chimney with a rather large, intrinsically-safe, unusually commercial-looking dual-temperature thermometer that somehow just appeared out of the ether.
We took it all the way up to 1,000C. Although it was designed for ‘low and slow’, we wanted to see how it would perform under alternative conditions.
We let it simmer for a few hours, then decided to kill the fire by closing the iris valve. Thus deprived of oxygen, given a few hours, the pit would be cold to the touch.
The next day, we opened the pit and shoveled out the dead embers. The pit was well and truly cold. Upon examination, it seems that the quartzite had fused to the sand on the outside of the pit. Also, sand had filtered down into the cracks around the pit, like in the corners, along joints, and been fused there as well.
The damn thing would now hold water if we wanted. We had a natural glass-lined fire pit now. We decided to try out some racked & stacked chickens first before we slowly made our way pig-ward.
We staked split chickens out on various levels in the pit. We had worked up a series of adjustable metal frames where we could lay the staked-out poultry. The racks popped right in place and after a couple of hours, hey presto bar-be-qued peri-peri chicken. And hot-butter roasted chicken. And for the uninitiated, roast chicken with smoked Hungarian paprika and Indian ghee. A real Iron Chef fusion-style mixture.
Liam and I took his Grady White out on the Persian Gulf and managed a couple of dorados, or Mahi, a largish shark, and a couple of kingfish off the deeper shipping banks. Fileted up and tacked in place, we played around with the smoking woods. Mango was just weird. Fig was weirder, almost vinegary; but not terrible. Pomegranate/tangerine tree smoked Mahi, seasoned shark steak, and Kingfish was the hit of the week. So easy, yet so tasty. It went well with Es’ famous Navajo Fry Bread.
We were gaining confidence. Prof. Pinkus’ days were numbered. We decided that the Eid al Fitr would be the time that we’d been preparing our porky pit pig production.
How’s that for cultural sensitivity? Break the Ramadan fast with a pig roast.
We’re all about cultural sensitivity.
Anyways, we hemmed and hawed over the methods of dispatching our soon-to-be-delicious 325 pounds of Professor Pinkus.
One wag suggested we have it OD on tranquilizers, trip him out a la Heath Ledger. Use loads of Nytol®, Dramamine™, oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam, and doxylamine."
It was straight out of the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers©.
We all agreed it was funny as hell, but that it probably wouldn’t work.
Then we thought we might go all Halal, just slit the pig’s throat with a very sharp knife, and let it bleed out.
Rejected as to being too thrashing, too noisy, too Arabic, and just plain uncivilized.
I thought I could get hold of a 12 gauge shotgun and some Foster Deer slugs. But again, noisy and messy. Besides, I’d have to borrow a shotgun, and that might raise some eyebrows.
We’ve managed to keep Prof. Pinkus under wraps now for almost 3 months. Hate to blow it right before the feasting was to begin.
In the end, all it took was an 18-pound maul and a solid whack to the right side of the head.
More sensitive viewers might want to skip a dozen or so paragraphs ahead. Just fair warning™.
I was elected to deliver the coup de grâce.
After walloping a bound and gagged Prof. Pinkus upside the head and basically caving in the skull, severing the skull-spinal cord connection at the atlas/axis connection, it was instant lights-out, he felt nothing.
We had already apologized to Prof. Pinkus, and thanked him for his contribution.
Seldom before has lunch ever been so noble.
Prof. Pinkus freezes and collapse, the legs give way, and the neck goes rigid. We picked up the extraordinarily sharp butcher’s knife sitting there, one hand under the chin and pull the head back. The other hand takes the sharp, stout knife under the neck and slices across the neck back to the bone of the vertebrae.
The knife hand loops around to the poll of the head, pushes down and forward while the hand under the chin pulls back and rearwards, so the neck vertebrae connecting tissue cracks. Knife hand back down under the neck, chin hand slides up and a finger hooks into the trachea and slice between the separated vertebrae.
With our previous practice and experience, 10 to 15 seconds from hammer strike to the semi-decapitated head.
Grisly but necessary.
Hanging the beast by its back hocks, well out of sight of any casual interlopers, we bleed the animal out into 5-gallon buckets, saving the precious juice. Vonn and I have visions of homemade blütwurst, blood-n-tongue sausage, and zultze or schwartamaga; lovely, lovely headcheese.
But that’s for later. Vonn gathers the blood in gallon-size freezer zip bags.
Now to scalding the corpse, scraping off the hair and external epidermal debris. We had a tub of boiling water into which Prof. Pinkus went. It was a boring, tedious, annoying repeated dunk-soak-raise-scrape-return until the carcass was clean and smooth and removed of all nasty gunk on the outside.
Now comes the really icky part™, gutting and scraping out the carcass. Before opening the abdominal cavity, it was required to de-bung the animal. Cut around the anus, go in deep but not too, pull the bunghole out, seal with zip ties, and cut and discard. Now the lower GI tract is sealed from leaking when the rest is removed. We also have to remove the male dangly bits in a similar manner as Prof. Pinkus was a boy hog.
Still hanging, we open the hog from sternum to groin, letting gravity aid us in helping Prof. Pinkus literally spill his guts. Right down into a waiting gut-bucket, or galvanized 50-liter steel tub. The chest region is split open further and the lovely and delicious major organs are singly removed by hand. Heart, liver, kidneys, etc., lungs, gall bladder, spleen, pancreas, and a few other organs are discarded.
With that, we open the hog to where it will lay flat on the roasting rack. It is then hosed off and generally cleaned up before we give a good going over.
After it dries, the whole gutted critter is washed in wine. Evidently, it’s a French thing according to Honey Bee.
We wrap the hog in burlap, soak it down in cheap-ass wine and let it sleep 24 hours or so in Liam and Cassandra’s freezer chest.
The next day, the fire is started in the fire pit. We have lump charcoal, bucket after bucket of fruit tree chunks soaking in water and probably half a rick of firewood to keep the party going the next 24-36 hours.
We retrieve Prof. Pinkus from his cool, not frozen state, say hello and proceed to arrange him staked to the cooking frame in a belly-down, butterflied posture. Internally, he was well seasoned with dry rub after the obligatory internal rubdown with Napoleon brandy. We placed 40 garlic bulbs, kosher sea salt, olive oil, black pepper, and liberal amounts of Old Bay, to taste beneath him.
So, it was up to me to get the external goo ready for the pig. Kansas City-Style Sauce? Eastern North Carolina Vinegar Sauce? South Carolina-Style Mustard Sauce? Piedmont or Lexington-Style Dip? South Carolina-Style Mustard Sauce? Texas-Style Mop or Basting Sauce? Alabama White Sauce? Wisconsin Drunken Religious Experience Sauce?
“Ah, the hell with it!”, I venture, “Sauces come much later. Too early; they caramelize, crystallize, and burn. We’ll go for a good rub instead.”
I mean, who doesn’t enjoy a good rub now and again?
Anyways, which fucking rub? Kansas City Rib Rub? Mustard Rub? Spare Rib Rub? Memphis-Style Rib Rub? Porker's Rib Seasoning? Best Odds Rib Rub? Carolina Dry Rub? Texas Dry Rub? Jamaican Jerk Dry Rub? Classic Pork Dry Rub?
Too much choice! Seasoning overload!
I call over everyone involved in this little soiree and instruct them to come up with a rub we can all enjoy. I had to kill and gut the critter, it’s about time I go all Subsurface Manager, and delegate out some parts of this project.
So, over beer, G&T’s, vodka and lime soda and various Froggy wines, ‘my’ crew came up with a rub that was simple, tasty and ironically reflects some of the culinary aspects of the region we’re currently defiling.
Ingredients:
• Smoked Hungarian Red paprika
• Brown sugar
• Caster sugar
• Black pepper
• Kosher salt
• Cayenne pepper
• White pepper
• Chili pepper
• Dehydrated garlic
• Dehydrated onion
• Fenugreek
• Red Cardamom
• Turmeric
• Ginger
• Garam masala (Cumin, Coriander, Green and Black Cardamom, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cloves, Bay leaves, Peppercorns, Fennel, Mace, and dried Chilies.)
They went to the co-op, bought buckets of the individual spices and played the rest of the day at getting to that one perfect combination for our resting porker.
I don’t remember the exact breakdown of the proportion of the spices, but whatever it was, it tasted brilliant. Now we had about 8 or 9 pounds of the stuff. We were ready to go.
Prof. Pinkus was set on the cooking rack, belly open and down. He was doused internally once again liberally with cheap Indian Napoleon brandy and secured to the rack atop all the garlic, celeriac root, boudin, and small new potatoes.
He was tied in place with heavy organic hemp twine and had his mouth propped open to facilitate circulation of the pit’s heat and convection. He looked very Pink Floydian. One almost expected him to take flight.
The exterior of the porker was treated to a nice rubdown. I swear I saw him smile once or twice when Honey Bee insisted on a sensual massage to make the resultant meat that much more tender. Olive oil infused with lime oil and garlic after a thorough wash with more brandy. Followed by a liberal rubbing of dry rub.
Finally, ready to go, we tented the porker loosely with industrial-strength silver aluminum foil. The frame with its cargo was lowered and locked into place for at least 24 hours. Probably closer to 36, as we’re going ‘low and slow’.
We take turns, between hands of poker, cribbage, and Schafskopf, as well as numerous G&Ts, Yorshs, and vodka and lime drink cocktails, to check on our prized porker. We kept the temperature right at 2050 F as best we could.
The voluminous smoke coming off the barbeque pit was our one concern. It packed an amazing aroma and filtered around the whole compound, dragging in expectant pikers, leeches, and other forms of human ectoparasites.
We told them we were smoking a whole camel, Texas-style, a la filét de hump, and wouldn’t be ready for another couple of days; so piss off. That seemed to get rid of all but the most insistent. We finally got rid of him by using a leaf blower and directing a stream of high-velocity roast-pork laden smoke his direction each time we had to add more fuel to the fire.
Time marched on and the time finally came: the deep internal ham’s temperature hit 180 degrees F.
Prof. Pinkus was ready to make his debut. But first, we needed to get him out of the barbeque pit and over to Vonn’s garage to rest a while.
More futzing, more aluminum foil, and more beers later, Prof. Pinkus, in all his delectable roasted glory was cooling out from atop a pair of sawhorses. Of course, he had to rest after his ordeal, but that didn’t mean we couldn’t manage a few samples.
He was done to a turn. It was incredible. Crispy-crunchy-crackly over lean, moist and insanely flavorful meat. Not bad for a bunch of bumbling international mugs on their first Middle Eastern pig-roast pit-roast endeavor.
Everyone made up their own version of sauce for sandwiches and dipping. We decided that we’d never all agree on one sauce, and 4 or 5 on one porker would be just too damn many.
So, please yourself. Just do it, yourself.
Behind closed doors, Liam and I were once again elected to reduce Prof. Pinkus to primary parts. We were hopefully disguising the fact that here sits 185 pounds of delectable roast pork in a very Muslim country on one of their highest holy days.
So it was a bit unnerving when Sheik Gungan showed up and asked: “What was that wonderful aroma?”
We said smoked beef…lamb…camel…turducken…Tyrannosaur… anything other than what it really was.
He asked for a sample.
What could we do? We couldn’t well refuse now, could we?
We gave him some of the best bits to try.
“Lovely, gents, just lovely. Next time, for reference, more garam masala, and a little more rosemary. I find it really brings out the subtle flavors of pork.” He smiled, wiping his pork-sticky fingers on my HGGTG towel.
“You old fraud”, we all smiled at once.
“What?”, he shied, raising his eyebrows, “It’s for scientific evaluation purposes. It’s therefore allowed. Now, do you have any cold beer, gin-n-tonics, or vodka and lime, which I’m hearing is very nice together, that I might also scientifically sample?” he smiled toothily through his long white beard.
We had made another powerful friend. Although it cost us one smoked Boston Butt, actually off the shoulder, that’s butcher’s for you, and a half a liter of homemade Texas-style barbeque sauce and another of Esme’s homemade fennel and caraway-infused coleslaw.
Everyone on the cul-de-sac now had a freezer full of pit-roasted pork. The Brits got their sausage once Vonn and Liam figured out how to use the Osterizer® Stuffing Horn. That was almost as much fun as doing the pit-barbeque. Never leave to Brits what Baja Canadians can better do.
We distributed the bacon and hams, and the rest divided whatever was left. Which was a lot of pit-roasted pig pieces and parts.
The bones made their way into gaily wrapped gifts and were posted anonymously to Mr. Guano Insano. We hoped he appreciated all our effort.
I used Esme’s great-grandmother’s old German recipe for Headcheese. Basically, boiled smoked pork head meat in aspic jelly. With dill pickles. And pickled eggs. With special spices.
Well, I don’t give a shit. We like it.
Anyways, summer slowly slid south and the temperatures during the day got slightly more tolerable. Liam and I decided to forego his boat for a while, as launching and recollecting required us to put Liam’s boat in the water HERE and recover the boat THERE. It was trucked, via road, from the recovery place to the launch place.
Why? Damnifweknow.
It only cost something like US$5 to ship the boat back to the launch area and they actually did a good job hosing and steam cleaning the boat before parking it back in its rental dry dock. These were still the early days before gas was king in Qutur, so things were still ridiculously cheap. There were exactly 3 high rise hotels back then, as compared to the insane silhouette presented by Duhu’s current evening sun.
I had flown over some likely looking flats that might hold snook, grouper, and tarpon on my last flight back from the rig. I translated that onto whatever road maps we could find here, as most everything was a state secret, ground verification was a must.
Liam and I tossed a couple of surf rods, a cooler full of beer and some bait into the back of his new diesel Mitsobitchy Prago™, and we were off to the north of town, the least developed chunk of Duhu real estate to date.
We drove down a rip-rap road that was more just a pile of random rocks trucked into the bay area and dumped into something that resembled a straight line.
I was less than confident that we weren’t going swimming today, but Liam relished every bounce, bolt and jolt. He confided in me that one of the big reasons he took the job here in the Middle East was that he’d never in a million years be able to afford a truck like this back in bonny Scotland™. He confided that he couldn’t have even afforded the fuel for this diesel-slurper back in the UK, it was that dear.
So, down the path we rebound. I was watching the water on both sides of the narrow groin, and saw it was getting deeper, but very slowly. I looked at my GPS and saw that we’d driven some 3.5 km out to sea at this point.
“Liam”, I said, “That’s a fuck of a long way to reverse.”
“Ah, Rock”, Liam assured me, “ No worries, Doctor. It’s all a loop. We can just drive our way out of any trouble.”
I remained unconvinced.
We came to a breach in the ‘jetty’. There was some heavy marine equipment mounted on barges. They were working a large cut, ostensibly for cargo ships to pass through. There was to be a swing-bridge built after they cleared the channel, but with all these loose rocks, it was putting paid to their scheme.
We parked and wandered over to who appeared to be the head guy.
“G’Day”, “Liam says, “What’ the big fucking holdup? We’ve got fish to catch, mate.”
Liam had previously spent a few years down in Australia as if it didn’t show.
“Oh, hello”, the natty clad black man said, “We’re having a bit of a time with loose rocks here. Supposed to be angular to lock in place, but by the time they get here from the quarry, they’re a sharp as bowling balls.”
I introduced myself and Liam as he was back in the boot snaking a beer. The black feller introduced himself as Zafir Djaballah, a civil engineer late from Algeria.
“So”, I said to Zafir, “If I’ve got this straight, you cut a channel and want to line it with rip rap. But the rocks won’t stay put. How deep are you cutting and what’s the size of the channel?”
“Oh, 35’ east-west, 15’ north-south. About 15 meters deep.” He relates.
“And the road metal? Where’s that from?” I ask.
“Arabia”, he tells us, “They quarry it there and transport it here. It’s costly, but that’s about the only option we have.”
Liam looks to Zafir. “Hey, Zafir?”, Liam asks, “Y’ken who this guy is?” as he points to me.
Zafir shakes his head “I just met Dr. Rock.”
“That’s not all who he is”, Liam smiles widely, “That, my friend, is the Motherfucking Pro from Dover! If he can’t fix your little problem, he can damn sure make it go away…”
Zafir looks to me as if to ask: “What the fuck, sir?”
“Well, Zafir, “ I say, “I’m a bit of a dab hand with explosives. This sounds like a really simple problem. Drill a grid of 2 meter centered holes, and prime them with a waterproof explosive. Detonate together electrically and there you go. Channel dug and already filled with angular limestone blocks. Easy-peasy.”
Zafir looks over the water and puzzles and puzzles.
“But sir’, he says, “Where would I find such explosives and such expertise?”
“Well…for starters”, I said, “You could ask me.”
He leads us over to a company trailer, where Liam and I drank beers, smoked cigars and told the superintendent of our plans. The Egyptian superintendent, Qaaid al-Zahra, later ‘Randy’ (Quaid?…never mind) scrutinized all our identification. He was actually very impressed when he came across my Blaster’s credentials.
“Doctor”, Qaaid said, “I do like your plan. The drilling is no problem, the problem is obtaining the explosives.”
“Look, Qaaid”, I said, “Leave that to me. You’re working for a government company, I’m working for a government company. What difference does it make? How long to drill the grid of holes Liam and I laid out?”
“Oh, probably about a week”, Qaaid said.
“OK, how about this?”, I said, “Liam and I will be back out here unless the weather’s being stupid and we’ll set and prime the charges? After which, we’ll make certain everything’s green and blow this little project for you?”
“If you can, Inshallah.”, Qaaid said.
“Even if we’re out of shallah”, I said back to Randy.
That Sunday, after Liam backed us down the 3.6 km or bouncy un-turn-around-able path he drove us out on, I ordered some Kinepax liquid binaries, as it came in easy-to-use 1-meter threaded lengths in various diameters. Qaaid was drilling 3.5” diameter holes, so the 3.00” nominal OD threaded length would be a breeze. I ordered a couple of spools of shock tube, comb connectors, deflectors, and tie-ins, and a 25 kilo box of ‘Elephant Shit’.
We make sure each hole was blown clean with a high-pressure water hose. Since the water here was only 8 meters deep, we could get by with regular lightweight skin diving gear. I could leave my wetsuit, diver’s helmet and all that heavy-duty ice-diving gear at home for this trip.
Liam and I would pre-form the charges, each exactly 6 meters in length, to match the depth of the drilled holes. Individual 1-meter units just screwed together, pin and box style, it was the utmost in simplicity. Rather like Seismogel™, but packed a considerably higher wallop. All told, we would be setting off some 36 nodal points, each 6 meters deep with 6 meters of binary which weighed 5.3 kg/meter.
Turn the crank and we’d be planting approximately 1,145 kilograms or 2,524 pounds of high-energy binary explosive.
Hmph. A new personal record.
Like Guinness even cared.
So, once we got the high sign from Randy that the shot holes had been drilled and cleaned, the next part of the project was up to us.
We were both PADI-certified. Liam had done some oilfield related diving in the North Sea some years ago. I was a veteran of the Ice Wars from the days of Future Passed back in Baja Canada.
The waters here were calm, gin-clear, and warm.
The dives here weren’t work, this was a paid vacation.
I had liberated a trailer for all our pyrotechnics and Liam was elected to use his Prago as the tow vehicle. We bounded our way out to the Liam’s Pass, as we had dubbed it, with a work trailer containing some 2,750 pounds of high powered, binary explosives bouncing behind. I also had all my explosives paraphernalia there as well: new waterproof galvanometer, which in and of itself, is rather the achievement. Pliers, spare batteries, couple pair of blaster’s tools, the usual.
Lia and I had our dive gear in the back of his Prago.
A couple of single tanks, backpacks, regulators, hoses, and a few belts full of divers weights.
These must have been of Islamic origin as they are specifically prohibited by the Bible. Deuteronomy 25:13, “Thou shalt not have on thy belt divers weights, a great and a small.” And Proverbs 20:23, “Divers weights are an abomination unto the LORD; and a false balance is not good.
Why there should be proscriptions against SCUBA gear in ancient, desert-dwelling, shepherding Iron Age writings is what keeps Biblical Scholars up at night.
Although I agree, a false balance underwater keeps your Swimmer’s Ear from healing up.
At the pass, we park and call over for a half-dozen ‘helpers’. They were nominal employees of the company, but more indentured servants. Today, they were going to earn their water wings. We had a couple of large pneumatic rafts that we’d use to transport he charges to their final water resting site but damned if Liam and I are going to swim laps every time we needed to set a new charge.
So, indoctrination and Explosives For Dummies.
Safety first, second and last.
Who here can swim?
You guys can stay. OK, the rest of you blokes, bugger off.
Here’s the deal, Sparky. There are 36 lengths of Kinestix with primers already set. Those go last, as that’s where I tie in to detonate. The rest of the 1-meter long tubes are identical. Pin on one end, box on the other. Thread them together and use a single ‘O-ring’ between each. Snug them up good and tight, but don’t go too crazy. Those are binary liquids, and I’ll give them a good smack with a hammer before they go into the hole. I really only have to do the last one as once initiated, these liquids can mix in milliseconds, but I’m all for safety and doing things right the first time.
OK, so, one raft will carry the 36 initiators, that is, the last bits to go. The other rafts will carry the 5-meter long strings of connected explosives. Liam and I will be down on bottom and you guys just stay up on surface, dog paddling or treading water, but slowly feeding the lengths of tubing down to us. When you reach an end, pop on one of the other lengths, the one with the primer.
To be continued.
submitted by Rocknocker to Rocknocker [link] [comments]

Room 221: Unicode PART I

Room U+221E: Unicode (Part I)
The brand-new wooden floors of the hospital glistened under the abrasive lighting, while Logan’s frail mother shivered underneath a pile of paper-thin blankets. She spoke in fragmented sentences, her breathing labored and so, so fragile.
“Logan, tell me you’ll settle down after I’m gone… Find someone to love... Someone that’ll love you… and care for you. Life just isn’t worth… living without - love… without someone to talk you off the ledge when…. things become… unclear.”
What started as innocent headaches had turned into something much more: ominous, never ending pressure in the back of her skull. She would scream, grab fistfuls of hair, plead with God to make it go away. No matter what she did, it just wouldn’t cease. She continued to writhe, and wither.
A CT scan revealed a large mass on her cerebellum.
Anaplastic Astrocytoma, they called it. The intensity of the words gave Logan anxiety. Those types of words made things too science-y; they made it too easy for doctors to separate themselves from the trauma inflicted upon their patients and families. It depersonalized everything about cancer. And despite the dread that took refuge in his bones, it angered him even more.
The cancer aged Logan’s mother fifty years in a matter of months. Its tendril-like forms had taken hold of the surrounding tissue, strangling other parts of her brain. Eventually, it would lasso her spinal cord – and she’d stop breathing - her heart would stop beating. It would be the end.
“You know, they say the…. tumor…. is like a star,” she said. “We’re all made of stars, Lo. We’re all made of the same… cosmic… molecules.”
Logan didn’t answer, yet. He wanted to make sure she was finished, and he wasn’t entirely sure lately when she was because of her difficulty speaking. So, he waited.
“It’s poetic, really,” she continued. “I’m going to die from a… shooting… star. Its tendrils have… exploded… like the birth of a… u-universe.”
After a moment, he responded. “It is, Mom. And you’re beautiful, more beautiful than the brightest star in the sky.”
“They’re already dead, you know… by the time we can see them. Will I still be… beautiful then?”
“Of course, Ma.”
It pained him to say those words, to participate in a conversation implying the inevitable death of his mother. Tears burned the corners of Logan’s eyes and caused his nostrils to flare.
“Promise me you’ll take care of yourself. Swear it,” she said through a tired smile.
“I swear, Ma.”
It was a lie. A white lie, he told himself.
Logan swore again on the same topic not long after that night, this time on his mother’s grave; but there was no weight to his word after what had happened. The only time Logan would swear and mean it, was when he would swear to himself to avoid relationships altogether - any form of social commitment, really. Logan loved his mother, but he couldn’t care much at all for love now that she was gone. He just couldn’t believe in it anymore. How could he? His childhood was spent watching it decay before his very eyes. As far as he was concerned, it was an inevitable heartbreak; and in his parent’s case, it led to a pain far beyond that. Love was a fallacy, something blindly worshipped and depended on for happiness; bound to fail, bound to disappoint. And now she was gone.
Logan had always been a loner and was content with his idea (at least he had himself convinced) that his life the way it was would be enough. He worked a job that occupied a large portion of his time and the money was great. As an auditor for a large automobile company travelling back and forth across the country looking over financial records, it would be his escape, his own plastic bubble to keep him safe from the world.
The conversation with his mother in the hospital was the night before she had passed, and Logan buried her only this morning. He was due back for an audit at 9 A.M. sharp in Charleston.
The plane was two hours late. A strong lightning storm had been taking hold over Atlanta and grounded all inbound and outbound flights until the skies cleared. Logan rented a car with the intent of facing the elements on the road. Postponing the audit was not an option. There wasn’t a safe place in his mind to take pause and mourn his mother, not yet. In fact, Logan wasn’t sure if there ever would be. There was comfort in being busy with his work, a lame excuse to pretend as if nothing else exists.
Outside, static energy clung to the hairs on Logan’s skin, almost plucking them at the roots. He pushed the unlock button on the key fab and pulled on the driver’s side door handle, discharging the static and zapping his fingers.
Shit,” Logan hissed, whipping his hand back reflexively. The hairs on his arms and the back of his neck relaxed. He swung open the door and hopped inside. It was a little before 8 PM and the GPS on Logan’s cell had him reaching his hotel around 1 AM. With any luck, he would be able to sleep in a bed instead of on a hard, plastic chair in a crowd of agitated strangers in an airport.
Logan drove into the storm, thinking more of his last night in the hospital with his mother. He gulped down the bold, black coffee he bought from the airport. The jolt of caffeine kept him going, sure, but it sent his mind racing into overdrive. He couldn’t help but recall more of the conversation, particularly about his father:
“I tried to do that for your father, you know… Be there for him… I loved your father,” his mother said. She was fighting them back, but Logan could see the tears forming in the corners of her eyes. “I still do. I… always will.”
Logan sat on the edge of her bed, holding his mother’s hands in his, praying silently, but no less powerful than if he were screaming, that she would be cured by a miracle.
“I know Ma. Me too.”
“He loved looking at the stars before-” She didn’t finish the sentence. She didn’t have to. Logan knew. “Before it all started, he told me that he realized nothing mattered. He was on the back... porch… looking through his telescope. It was late. I was… in bed… he had a look in his eyes. They were… empty... yet, full. He told me he knew everything. I asked him… what that meant… that he knew everything… he said nothing matters. He saw himself in the sky, infinite… versions of himself... like a kaleidoscope. He… saw God.”
“He was ill,” Logan said, this time not waiting to see if she was finished. “You need rest. Come on, let’s talk about this some other time.”
“I tried to be there for him… I tried so hard for so long. That night… in the mirror… I didn’t know what to do. I wish I could go back… I would try… harder.”
Her breath became even more labored, deteriorating from sudden stridor.
“Please don’t say that. You did everything you could. It wasn’t your fault. I love you, Mom. Dad loves you too. You’ve got to know that.” -Logan put a hand on his mother’s shoulder- “Dad knows you did your best.”
“If it… starts to split”-she drew a raspy breath, her words harder to hear- “don’t search… for answers. Just… close your eyes. Don’t look between… the seams.”
“See what split?” Logan asked, but her eyes were already closing. “Ma? What are you talking about? What does that mean?”
He wanted to shake her - demand an explanation - but she was asleep. The monitors were steady, rhythmic. She was free from pain in her slumber, and there he let her remain. Maybe he would have if he had known it would be the last time they would speak.
A burst of white noise brought his mind back to the present, freeing him from the painful memory. He searched the cab for the source of the noise, opening the glove box and rummaging through its contents, but found nothing. He slowed to a crawl and rolled the window down. It was coming from outside, from up above in the sky. Logan acknowledged the change in architecture, and the obvious, almost claustrophobic layout of downtown Charleston. He checked the maps on his phone. He had traveled over 300 miles in what felt like minutes.
Down a narrow cobblestone road was a bright lettered sign:
HOTEL NON-DORMIUNT
VISITORS WELCOME
The sign seemed to scatter - or flicker - like static on a vacant television channel - much like the sound resonating in the recesses of the black clouds. It wasn’t the name of the hotel indicated by his GPS, but it was a hotel, nonetheless. He was checking in regardless.
Logan turned down the road, the car rocking and bouncing on the cobblestone. Despite being downtown, the street was vacant - the hotel the only standing building on the short block. It had an old-money feel, stone filigree flowed along the columns supporting the overhang of the entranceway. He parked the rental car in a small lot across the way and gathered his things. The large black door of the hotel flickered white in a flash of lightning. The door knocker, polished brass in the form of a screaming man’s head, with flowy, floating hair watched him approach as he dragged his luggage bag forward. The door flickered just like the sign, but Logan was sure it was only more lightning. He turned the lever on the door and let himself inside.
A large, black desk sat across from the doorway, about ten feet across from a freshly waxed, black and white checkerboard floor; the high-top chair behind it empty. Classical music played over an old speaker system overhead. A framed sign sat on its side on the desk, next to a silver service bell. Logan tilted his head to the side to read it:
Back in 8 minutes!
Time had passed at an incomprehensible pace. The rush of caffeine had worn off. Irritation and frustration were taking hold. Logan did not wait 8 minutes, because who knows how long 8 minutes had been from when they left the sign, he thought, and he slapped the bell thrice.
The crunchy, high-treble music overhead fell silent, and Logan heard voices coming from a small speaker on the counter that had been hiding behind the fallen sign. The voices were muffled and indiscernible. It looked old, with two bulky knobs on the bottom: one on each side.
Logan eyes grew wide as a more distinct voice came through the speaker.
“I have a son. I had a daughter. I have a son I had a daughter I have a son I had a daughter HAVE A SON HAD A DAUGHTER HAVE A SON-”
“Dad?” Logan belted out.
“May I help you?” Another voice, now female and brash, cut through the speaker.
“Uh, may I have a room, please? I’m not feeling well and I have an early morning,” Logan said.
“You may,” the voice responded. “Bell boy, see Logan Atlas to room 221.”
“How do you know my name?” Logan asked the empty desk.
“Mr. Atlas, you’ve been here before and don’t you dare start asking questions now,” the voice replied. “We’re all very busy here at Hotel Non Dormiunt. We have no time for nonsense.”
Before Logan could respond, a small boy emerged from behind the counter looking no older than eight or nine. He wore a small hat that covered his eyes. He never looked up at Logan, only handed him his room key and took his bag.
Logan came down on one knee to meet the boy at his level.
“Hey, buddy. What’s your name?” Logan asked, but the boy hid his face and continued down the hall. Logan stayed there for a moment, but swiftly caught up, ultimately afraid of being stuck at the counter with that speaker and the voices, one of them impossible to forget (sounding awfully like his father).
“Hey,” Logan carefully grabbed the boy’s shoulder. He stopped, turned, and looked up at Logan with black, beady eyes. He shook his head slowly, never blinking.
“What is this? Are you messing with me?” Logan asked, recoiling a few steps back. The elevator beeped next to him, and Logan left the floor with both feet. The boy stepped inside, dragging Logan’s luggage with him. He pressed a button once inside and the doors began to close. Logan threw his hand up between the doors and, with what felt like no other choice, reluctantly stepped inside.
“I don’t know what’s going on here, but can you please say something? I’ve had a really bad day and I just need you to say something, okay? Can you do that?”
The doors to the elevator closed, and it started to ascend. The boy looked up again at Logan, opened his mouth and said, “ahhhh.” To his horror was a knotted piece of purple flesh where his tongue should have been. His teeth were rotted down to the roots and there was a feint smell of rotting meat that must have been his breath.
Logan screamed. The doors opened on queue as he snatched his bag from the boy and ran down the hall, frantically searching for Room 221, looking over his shoulder at the boy; but he never came out of the elevator. He simply waved goodbye as the doors closed, and the elevator descended.
The door to Room 221 was vandalized with carvings of letters and symbols. Before the numbers 221 was the letter “U” and the “+” symbol. After the 221 was the letter “E,” carved in the same choppy manner. Nothing made any fucking sense. Logan put the key in the door and let himself inside, sure that once he got into a bed of any sort everything would be okay again. He was scared, frustrated and tired. He would fall asleep, wake up for work and everything would be normal, at least temporarily. That’s what he thought.
As Logan stepped inside, the space between the doorframe flickered. Columns and rows of 1’s and 0’s raced across the open doorway. He had crossed the threshold without even noticing, too busy failing to make sense of the events of the last few hours. The room was dull and gray, the walls decorated with monotone, gray-scale pictures and photographs of an assortment of landscapes and portraits. Logan would have felt more comfortable with a little more color and a little less dread, but it managed to calm him. He threw his bag over the bed, which surprisingly didn’t make a sound, and retrieved a change of clothes to sleep in.
A powerful crack of lightning flashed in the window, lighting up the room like the flash of an old Polaroid. An immense, rolling thunder followed. Logan’s mother would tell him it was God bowling. When it was especially loud, she would cheer, and applaud God for getting a strike. While Dad argued with himself in the mirrors, demanding to know which version of himself was the real one, Mom preserved Logan’s childhood as best she could. He remembered his father locking himself in the bathroom for hours, his lips pressed into the space between the door and the doorframe, whispering, “I write with my left hand. I can write with my right. I write with my left hand I can write with my right. It’s in the mirror – I have a daughter in the mirror. I write with my left hand.”
He pulled back the covers of the bed and tucked himself inside. He closed his eyes for a short while before the sound of shattering glass forced them back open. That familiar static back in Atlanta filled the air. Logan felt an electric charge looming over his exterior, waiting to detonate. He caught his reflection in the window with the light of the lamp and saw his hair standing on end, like the man on the door knocker, he thought.
Logan cautiously headed toward the bathroom but stalled when he heard a voice.
“FUCK YOU! WHICH ONE IS REAL? IS ANY OF THIS REAL? TELL ME GOD DAMNIT!”
He took a few more steps, terrified of what he knew he was going to find.
His father stood in front of the fractured mirror, the larger pieces still sticking to the mirror frame reflecting distorted versions of himself. They were all screaming and yelling, begging for the truth from within the shards. He held a piece in his hand so tight it was cutting into his flesh. When he turned and saw his son, he held it up to his throat.
“Wait! Stop!” Logan yelled, running toward him.
“It’s okay son.” The images of Logan’s father spoke to him in unison. “You’ll see, it doesn’t matter. You always come back in some form. We’re not really here.
“You are, Dad. Maybe not anymore, but you were.
“No, I’m not. I wasn’t. And neither are you.”
His father pushed the glass shard into his neck, and he flickered, then disappeared. The walls of the bathroom split at the seams, and streams of binary code filled the cracks. With another flash of lightning it was gone. The walls were intact, along with the mirror.
GUEST BOOK
submitted by NewUnknowns to nosleep [link] [comments]

New NA Games Discussion (2019/03/21)! Azure Saga: Pathfinder DELUXE Edition, (NEOGEO) Baseball Stars 2, Block-a-Pix Deluxe, Grand Prix Story, Reptilian Rebellion, Rogue Bit, StarDrone, Super Phantom Cat: Remake, and Witch & Hero release today!

The previous release(s): Assault On Metaltron, Chocobo's Mystery Dungeon EVERY BUDDY!, and Super Kickers League and:
Blaster Master Zero 2 / $9.99 · Action, Adventure · 1 player
Mutant blasting action is back! Join Jason, Eve, and Fred on an intergalactic journey!
The side-scrolling/top-down hybrid action adventure gameplay returns with a brand new sequel to "Blaster Master Zero"!
Experience the yet-untold story of Jason and Eve after defeating Earth's mutant scourge as they venture into the depths of space in their new battle tank, "GAIA-SOPHIA"!
The story of Blaster Master Zero 2 begins a few months after the events of the first game (released on March 9, 2017), where the main protagonist Jason saves planet Earth from the mutants. Eve has been infected by mutant cells that are slowly corrupting her body, so together with Jason and Fred, they board G-SOPHIA and begin an intergalactic journey to Eve's home planet, Sophia, in hopes of finding a cure for the mutant infection.
A perfect blend of action-adventure through outer space and the signature Blaster Master gameplay creates a formula for a fun new experience.
Nuclear Throne / $13.99 · Arcade, Action, Adventure · Up to 2 players
Can you reach the Nuclear Throne?
The indie Super-hit from Vlambeer, finally on Nintendo Switch! Nuclear Throne is a post-apocalyptic roguelike-like top-down shooter. Not 'the final hope of humanity' post-apocalyptic, but 'humanity is extinct and mutants and monsters now roam the world' post-apocalyptic. Fight your way through the wastelands with powerful weaponry, collecting radiation to mutate some new limbs and abilities. All these things and more you could do if only you were good at this game. Can you reach the Nuclear Throne?
Today’s release(s):
Azure Saga: Pathfinder DELUXE Edition / $8.49 sale, $9.99 normally · Role-Playing · 1 player
Band together to search for the legendary planet that will save humanity in the DELUXE complete edition of the beautifully drawn isometric RPG world.
Far into the future, the human race survives through colonies scattered across the universe. One tale gives humanity’s remnants hope – one of the legendary planet, Azure, a world full of life and abundant resources that could bring humanity back from the brink of extinction. Join a young scientist, Synch, as he travels across the galaxy to meet new companions and find his father.
(NEOGEO) Baseball Stars 2 / $7.99 · Sports, Arcade · Up to 2 players
BASEBALL STARS 2 is a sports game released by SNK in 1992. Get the full experience with intense graphics and passionate announcers!
Time to see some exciting baseball! Use the Power-bat to send the ball flying for an amazing home run!
Lace up your cleats, and step onto the diamond with the pros of Baseball Stars 2. You’ll find everything you’d expect in a classic game of baseball, but with an arcade feel and intense action that distinguish it from the pack. Pick one of six unique teams from cities around the world, and then get ready for nine innings of excitement, whether you’re taking on the computer in a 15-game tournament or squaring off against a friend. There are two modes of game play, so even the most inexperienced player can compete at the major-league level (with a little computer-aided fielding). Watch as the game develops through split-screen views and close-up shots worthy of any highlight film, and see if you can catch the numerous over-the-top animations of the large and detailed player models. Think you have what it takes to win the pennant?
Block-a-Pix Deluxe / $7.99 · Puzzle, Strategy · 1 player
The block-filling logic puzzle where every grid has a picture hidden inside.
Reveal the picture by dividing the grid into smaller rectangular blocks to create a colorful mosaic. Each block must contain one clue number, indicating the size and color of the block to be painted.
Block-a-Pix Deluxe contains 120 puzzles, designed by Conceptis Ltd, They produce cute, detailed pictures which have been carefully hand-crafted and are guaranteed to be uniquely solvable.
  • [trailer]()
  • Switch gameplay · [more]() · [gameplay search]()
  • demo available
Grand Prix Story / $12.00 · Simulation, Sports, Arcade, Action · 1 player
Try your hand at managing an auto racing team!
Become the boss of your own team, training drivers and acquiring sponsors before conquering the Grand Prix!
Develop new vehicles and parts, and customize them any way you like! Do you have what it takes to make it to the winner's circle?
No knowledge of motorsports is required to play!
  • [trailer]()
  • [Switch gameplay]() · [more]() · [gameplay search]()
Reptilian Rebellion / $2.99 · Arcade, Action, Party · 1 player
Stop the New World Order in this challenging game!
The Reptilian Rebellion has just started.
Wait, don’t you know what reptilians are? There are thousands of these green lizard-men living amongst us, but now they have become too dangerous and want to take control of the planet.
Don’t let reptilians rule the world and send them to hell.
Reptilian Rebellion is a casual and challenging game, kill as many reptilians as you can, keeping an eye on your ammunition, and looking for powerups and friends.
Be careful with the vehicles, find the leader of the Illuminati, unlock different characters and collect bitcoins to enter the leaderboards.
Stop the New World Order!
Rogue Bit / $4.99 · Puzzle, Education, Simulation, Adventure · 1 player
explore, hack, escape
A single bit of computer memory became sentient and decided to escape from digital into the real world. Explore RAM, modify bytes and hack machine code and CPU registers to set it free.
The game is about the way computers work internally. Having some programming knowledge makes the game easier, but it isn't required. All the elements required to solve the puzzles are explained in the game.
How does it play? You play the game as a single bit of computer memory. You can invade other bytes around you and thus modify their values. The game features various types of puzzles:
  1. Explore. With ability to XOR into adjacent bytes, you can navigate your way through existing data in the memory. The game automatically marks the bytes you cannot go through without getting yourself overwritten and prevents you entering those. Both binary and ASCII views are available, which you can utilize to find an open path for a particular puzzle.
  2. Decipher programs. Various programs run on the computer you are trying to escape from. The game includes a disassembler showing you the assembly language corresponding to the machine code that is being executed. Don't worry if you don't know any Assembly. There are only a handful of CPU instructions and they are introduced gradually as you complete the puzzles. Reading the assembly code, you can track the program logic, see which parts of RAM it reads and writes to and manipulate data in those locations to get the program to do what you want.
  3. Invade CPU registers. The computer you are trying to escape has a simple CPU with a couple of registers. You can trick the CPU to load yourself into the registers and affect code execution or offload yourself into otherwise unreachable memory locations.
  4. Hack. For some puzzles, it isn't enough to change the data in RAM or registers. You can also change the machine code to get the computer to do different things.
Gameplay Tips: Carefully observe the bytes on the screen and what the CPU is doing. Sometimes you need to read the code in straightforward manner. Sometimes you need to work your way backwards: find the line of the code you want executed and then trace the code backwards to figure out how to trick the CPU to get to that instruction.
The game only has about 30 puzzles, but some of those might take considerable effort to solve. So take it easy and don't rush to the end. If you solve a puzzle by accident, don't go forward until you understand why it happened. You might miss some small detail and get completely stuck on the next puzzle.
StarDrone / $9.99 · Arcade · 1 player
StarDrone is a high-speed action thriller with a mix of arcade action, pinball, and breakout.
In StarDrone, players pilot their Drones across the galaxy, collecting pieces of Equilibrix in order to restore the equilibrium of the universe and stop the evil G-Noids from taking over. However, this journey requires much more than star-gazing, as your Drone is constantly in motion and the more stellar matter you collect, the faster it will travel until you are moving at the speed of light. Along the way, key power-ups will earn you more points that will ultimately let you compete against the world on the StarDrone scoreboards.
Super Phantom Cat: Remake / $9.99 · Platformer, Adventure, Puzzle, Action · 1 player
A retro-casual platformer game! No matter who you are, get your cat ears ready! Set off on a crazy journey to rescue your sister!
Super Phantom Cat is a "Pawsome" retro platformer, or what we like to call "Catformer," in which you explore quirky environments, clear purrrfect colorful levels, solve the mysteries shrouding the Phantom world and rescue your kidnapped little sister, Ina.
Witch & Hero / $4.99 · Action, Adventure · Up to 2 players
Witch & Hero is an 8-bit style action game that can be played by anyone!
You play as a Hero accompanied by a Witch and you are seeking revenge, and justice, over the evil Medusa. Medusa turned the Witch into stone, so she is no longer able to move; it’s up to the Hero to defeat the monsters and collect their blood in order to recover the Witch for a limited period of time.
The Hero leads the fight but can revive the Witch to unleash her destructive powers; as the waves of enemies become stronger they will need to work together! In this Nintendo Switch version you also have the option of co-operative play to take on the challenge with a friend.
Witch & Hero has also been enhanced for Nintendo Switch, while retaining its original 8-bit pixel graphics and sound.
We hope you will enjoy the challenge!
Did you buy anything? How did it run? What are your first impressions? Does it seem worth it?
submitted by juicyjames to NintendoSwitch [link] [comments]

Results of the Third Great FE:H Demographics and Opinions Survey!

Hello All!
First off, thank you to everyone who took the time to complete the survey. In total, there were 2,700 responses! If you responded to the survey or are interested in these results, feel free to share or otherwise increase the visibility. I don’t want anyone who took the time to respond to miss seeing the results!
For context, the survey was posted on May 9th, just after the end of Hero Fest and just before the start of the GHB Ursula Revival. FE:H was released nearly 100 days ago from the time the survey closed.
In case you missed them, previous survey results are here and here. And as always, neither myself nor this survey are associated with Intelligent Systems or Nintendo in any way. Please direct feedback about the game itself to the official channels.
Finally, keep an eye out for u/TheFriendlyFire ‘s third Voting Gauntlet survey coming Wednesday. I’ve never asked questions about the voting gauntlets in my surveys as they cover it better than I could ever hope to! If you like these surveys, I strongly encourage you to respond to that one as well. Now without further ado, let’s get into the results!
Note: All percentages should be read as “% of respondents”, and are percentages with respect to the population that responded to the survey, which may or may not be indicative of the larger player population.
~ Demographics ~
99.3% reached this survey through Reddit, as expected since it wasn’t formally posted elsewhere this time around. [Graph].
62.8% began playing FE:H on release day, with 20.8% more beginning within release week. 7.8% joined in the month of February, 6.0% in March, 2.2% in April, and 0.4% in May. [Graph].
44.6% report being F2P, down from 58.6% a month ago. 74.4% have spent below $100, and 1.7% have spent over $1000. Full breakdown here: [Graph].
54.2% of the respondents are in the 18-24 age range, followed by 28.1% between 25-34 years old. 14.0% are in the 12-17 range, 2.8% are 35-44, and only 3 respondents are above 45. Remember that these results are influenced by the subreddit’s demographics, and are not representative of the larger player population. [Graph].
81.4% of respondents are male, 15.3% female, and 1.7% non-binary (45 respondents). Remember that these results are influenced by the subreddit’s demographics, and are not representative of the larger player population. [Graph].
71.2% live in North America, followed by 18.0% in Europe. 3.2% in Asia, 3.3% in South America, 3.2% in Oceania, 0.9% in Central America & the Caribbean, 0.1% in Africa, and 0.3% in the Middle East. Remember that these results are influenced by regional availability, and the popularity of Reddit - a predominantly English speaking website - in those regions as well. [Graph].
~ Summoning ~
Hero Fest is the most summoned from banner, with 90.3% reporting that they have summoned from it. Runner-ups are Spring Festival and World of Radiance at 82.6% and 82.2% respectively. The least summoned from is Male Mages at 5.7%, followed by Battling Xander and Battling Robin at 7.5% and 7.9% respectively. Full breakdown here: [Graph].
Hero Fest is the banner most often reported as having the most orbs used on it, with 23.0% reporting they used the most orbs on the banner. The runner-up is Spring Festival at 18.7%, followed by World of Radiance at 14.0%. Full breakdown here: [Graph].
Predictably, Hero Fest is far and away the favorite banner so far, with 44.9% of the votes. Runner-ups are Spring Festival and World of Radiance at 11.5% and 10.9% respectively. The least favorite banners are Battling Xander and Battling Robin, both below 0.1%. Full breakdown here: [Graph].
81.7% summoned from the Spring Festival banner, compared to 18.3% who never summoned on it. [Graph].
89.6% summoned from the Hero Fest banner, compared to 10.4% who never summoned on it. [Graph].
21.3% spent money on orbs specifically for the Spring Festival banner, compared to 78.7% who did not. [Graph].
34.3% spent money on orbs specifically for the Hero Fest banner, compared to 65.7% who did not. Notably, as 44.6% of respondents reported that they are still F2P, this means that 61.9% of paying players spent money specifically for Hero Fest (thanks to u/QRioss for catching my miscalculation!). [Graph].
~ Grand Hero Battles ~
As expected, Narcian is the most under-completed GHB, with only 61.3% of respondents having completed his levels at any difficulty. Note that these results are somewhat skewed now that GHB Revival boosted F!Robin’s score in particular, and the boost that Ursula will get from her GHB Revival hasn’t taken effect yet. [Graph].
Ursula was most difficult to complete on the highest difficulty level according to 39.5% of respondents, followed by Michalis at 14.9% and Narcian at 14.6%. Note that these results may be skewed by the Revivals, as players have stronger units available for the re-matches than they did for the first fights. [Graph].
Xander was the easiest to complete on the highest difficulty level by 28.8% of respondents, followed by Zephiel at 26.6%, Navarre at 17.3%, and F!Robin at 16.2%. Note that these results may be skewed by the Revivals, as players have stronger units available for the re-matches than they did for the first fights. [Graph].
49.5% completed ALL of the GHB Revival Quests (with F!Robin and Navarre), while 50.5% did not. [Graph].
~ Various Topics ~
52.3% have the “Starting a Map” setting set to the “Swap Spaces” option, to automatically enter swap spaces mode before battles begin. 43.8% do not use this option. [Graph].
64.0% Always turn “Danger Area” on, 26.2% sometimes do, 7.2% rarely, and 2.7% never turn “Danger Area” on. [Graph].
65.0% believe that the new underdog rule for voting gauntlets (3x multiplier on losing team flag votes) will be beneficial, while 6.6% believe it will be bad for the voting gauntlets. 22.7% don’t know, and 5.7% selected Other. Note that this survey ended before the voting gauntlet began, so these are preliminary opinions. [Graph].
77.2% report that the introduction of the Hero Merit system has not affected how they manage their barracks, compared to 17.8% reporting a change due to the introduction of the system. [Graph].
58.4% want more quests that require specific units (assuming the required unit is given, eg. Est/Catria/Palla). 30.3% do not want more of this type of quest. [Graph].
73.1% prefer the changed Arena scoring algorithm (taking factors like merging and skills into account instead of only BST) over the old BST-based matchmaking. 5.1% Prefer the old BST-based algorithm, and 21.8% don’t know. It’s still early to poll on this change, so consider these as early opinions [Graph].
11.6% rated the extent to which hacking is currently a problem in FE:H at a 4/5 or above. 29.8% rated it a neutral 3/5, and 58.7% rated 2/5 or below. [Graph].
75.7% are glad that Sacred Seals and the new S-skill slot were added, compared to 4.5% who wish they had not been added and 19.8% who don’t know. [Graph].
Response to the new Defense game mode (featured in the World of Radiance story maps) is largely positive, with 65.9% rating their feelings at a 4/5 or above, and 92.4% at least 3/5 or above. 7.6% rated the new mode at a 2/5 or below. [Graph].
~ The Future of the Game ~
84.1% believe that Intelligent Systems cares about its F2P userbase, up from 79.0% a month ago. Additionally, the number of respondents who believe IS doesn’t care about its F2P userbase has decreased, from 6.4% a month ago, to 5.1% now. [Graph].
54.5% are planning to buy the upcoming main-series game “Echoes: Shadows of Valentia,” remaining steady from the 54.4% polling a month ago. However, those on the fence have shifted to “No,” with 28.8% reporting they are not planning to buy it, compared to 20.5% a month ago. 15.9% are still undecided. 23 respondents have already bought the Japanese release. Let us know what you think of it! [Graph].
Now that Ike is released, whose addition are you most looking forward to?
~ Bonus Questions ~
How many 5* heroes do you currently have? This question was looking for the number of heroes in a respondent’s barracks with a gold border, excluding merges (eg. Hector Lv.40+4 counts as one unit, not five).
What’s the sum of all 5* heroes you’ve ever had? This question is the number of 5* heroes in your barracks PLUS merges and 5* s used for inheritance.
Who is the Most Overrated Hero in FE:H?
Who is the Most Underrated Hero in FE:H?
If you could immediately receive any hero currently in the game at 5* rarity, who would it be?
If you’re interested in the vote count for a character that didn’t make a cut-off, leave a comment and I’ll get to it as soon as I can!
~ Special Results: #5* s vs. Money Spent ~
Here is a graph of the average number of 5* heroes for each spending bracket: [Graph]. Notably, the trend does not appear to be entirely linear – even taking the differences in bracket size into account ($20-$50 is a $30 size, while $200-$400 is $200 wide), there seems to be a very slight curve. The dent at the $800 - $1000 range may be due to the lack of data – this bracket had the lowest number of responses out of all of them.
Do not take this as incentive to spend more for higher return – remember that gachas are gambling, and can be addicting. Always have a plan of how much you’re willing to spend, and stay below an amount you can afford and feel comfortable with.
~ Special Results: F2P Only ~
The following is a graph plotting the Number of 5* Heroes by Join Time: [Graph].
How many 5* heroes do you currently have? This question was looking for the number of heroes in a respondent’s barracks with a gold border, excluding merges (eg. Hector Lv.40+4 counts as one unit, not five).
What’s the sum of all 5* heroes you’ve ever had? This question is the number of 5* heroes in your barracks PLUS merges and 5* s used for inheritance.
~ Feedback ~
I’ve decided to make a separate post to discuss some of the serious feedback – I’m always looking to improve these surveys, so I’d like some of your opinions on how to solve certain issues. Give your input and help frame the future of these surveys in the
Serious Feedback Discussion Thread.
Now for the humorous feedback: I don’t know if I should be encouraging this since the amount of funny and weird feedback is increasing with each survey, but here’s a small sample. You know the drill:
~ Closing Remarks ~
[For all of the graphs in one album, click here].
For discussion on the survey’s methods, go here: Serious Feedback Discussion Thread.
TL;DR: Some of the most interesting results:
Thanks again for all the responses! I hope you find the results interesting, and if there’s anything else you think can be found out from the data, request it below and I’ll do my best to oblige!
submitted by ShiningSolarSword to FireEmblemHeroes [link] [comments]

Just some introspection about my gender identity

//Edit// I noticed afterwards I should've put gender in parenthesis as this post didn't turn out to be solely about gender identity but things related to it or the kind of thoughts I got when thinking about my gender identity... But since you can't change headlines, please be understainding ;) //
As you see from my tag I'm still questioning. I've written here a few times before, and I feel like this subreddit is helping me to recognize whether or not my issues arise from gender dysphoria of some sort...
Now I'd just like to share a few notes I've made about my gender identity. I don't necessary have any questions right now. But if my notes give you any kind of thoughts, feel free to comment!
Thanks for reading & have a great week!
//Edit 9th Jan// Some more stuff... These things just keep on coming, sorry x3 I think it's better I list it all in the same post so I don't spam anyone else here too much.
//Edit 17th Jan//
//Edit 21st Jan//
//Edit 1st Feb//
//Edit 5th Feb//
//Edit 11th Feb//
//Edit 19th Feb//
//Edit 20th Feb//
//Edit 22nd Feb//
//Edit 4th Ma/
//Edit 9th Ma/
//Edit 25th Ma/
//Edit 12th April//
//Edit 18th April//
//Edit 2nd May//
//Edit 31st May//
//Edit 25th June//
And last but not least, some "can relate" memes for me to return to ;) When you're ftm and see how flawlessly mtfs are when "being a woman" was a chore to you: When my mother may have figured out I am not as cis as I try to appear but has yet to say anything directly. Me irl When someone points out that trans people are crossdressers before they start dressing as their identified gender. Come to think of it... Meme of the day #currentfeels "How to cis" (AFAB version) When you're out online, but not irl, and so you spend all your time online, instead of just improving your irl situation:
submitted by boyinsidegirl to asktransgender [link] [comments]

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