George Osborne is … … …out of touch

I wanted to say meaner things about him, but I’m afraid of libel laws and various online laws regarding what you say in this country, so all I want to say is that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about when it comes to poverty. Obviously. It personally makes me angry when they discuss obesity and the poor. My only anecdote I can even pretend to offer the world is when I first moved to Glasgow, I was poor, by my experiences. I had approximately £20/week to spend on myself for food and drink and entertainment. I would have a boiled egg for breakfast, EVERY DAY, a homemade tuna mayonnaise sandwich, EVERY DAY, and dinner was typically one of the previous options, with probably an apple or banana thrown in, EVERY DAY. I lost a lot of weight, and was tired and irritable all the time. I couldn’t afford to socialise and felt isolated and alone. My point, is that on my budget, I had to eat the same thing every single day, and it wasn’t enough.

The second point I would like to make, is I was so fatigued and irritable most of the time, that about 3-4 days out of the week, I would cave in, scrape together the smash in my purse and go to the chippy to buy a pile of chips. Why? Because they were cheap and filling. They made me forget how hungry I was, they warmed me up because I couldn’t afford proper heating and helped me fall asleep.

Thankfully, my situation resolved itself and I didn’t have to live like that for long, but it was awful, and if I had to feed a family under those circumstances, I would feed them fast food. Why? Not just because it’s cheap, but because it’s hot and filling. Never disregard the benefit of those two things when you need to sleep and function.

What a … bad guy.

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Mass Effect 2 Finished – No Spoilers

Wheww!! I finally finished Mass Effect 2, with the same character over both the first and second games and I incredibly enjoyed it. I think my favourite aspect of the game was how stressful the finale was because I knew that all the choices I had made would impact the ending, and the survival of everyone involved. Obviously, I was a total badass, but when I put down the controller I was all shaky and sweaty and weepy (sexy, eh?) at the awesomeness of the game. Seriously, Mass Effect is amazing. I may have spoiled myself (no, not like that, your brain is disgusting, and I guess, mine, for going there) on the ending of Mass Effect 3 when deciding if I wanted to play the whole trilogy in one go. I’m filled with trepidations, because I am really attached to my Shepard and her story.

I did however, play the intro to Mass Effect 3 today and am amazed at the graphics and story. What an amazing beginning to a game! I’ve always been impressed with the storytelling ability of ME in general, but the ending of ME2 and the intro to ME3 made me feel like I was seriously involved in a badass sci fi film.

Anyway, the experience of Mass Effect is greatly enhanced by playing it all in one go (duh doi) and I’m looking forward to exploring the world of ME3, even if it does look scarier 🙂

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Wanting to be DeGrasse: my Mass Effect disappointment

Late last year, I was invited to be interviewed on GameSpot UK’s “What If Machine” discussing space travel in Mass Effect. So excited, right? I can finally call myself ‘Dr’ and I get to be interviewed on a popular webseries about a game I love.

I got up at 6am, travelled to London and did my interview. Everyone was lovely and I had a great time. I even stopped at Boots in the train station to pick up some extra makeup to touch up myself just for that extra boost of confidence.

A few weeks later, I checked the website, and the interview is up! Woo hoo! I watch it, anxiously anticipating my world debut, my first foray into becoming Bill Nye and Neil DeGrasse Tyson… shattered. I looked awful. I kept sniffing (a bad habit I did not know I had picked up), my hair looked horrendous and I kept saying ‘um’, ‘ah’. But, no one likes how they look right?

Then I did the one thing no one should ever, ever do. I read the video comments. Everyone loved the episode, except for that ‘crackwhore’ who was ‘clearly on something’ and who ‘had clearly just stepped out of the shower’.

Now I cannot face doing more outreach. This experience has profoundly affected me. I try not to think that it’s just because I am a woman, but would a man with a weird twitch and slightly unkempt hair be judged in such a manner? No one commented on what I had to say; no one. I gave my first physics lecture after this experience, and found myself really worried about my appearance, something which has never bothered me before.

I’ve got a PhD in Astrophysics, right? I love playing and talking about video games, right? So why is there so much pressure on myself now to try and visually impress my audience?

I’m embarrassed at my own performance and severely dissuaded from going out there and speaking to the public about science any more. I appreciate it that it’s not all in my head, I just wish it was a little easier to be respected.

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Adventures with the PS3

So occasionally I like to discuss various games I am playing… these will not be particularly up-to-date with regards to release dates of games, but rather when I personally discover an awesome game. So if it’s old news to all you ‘cool’ people out there… whatever!

Also, the world is a sad and scary place sometimes, so it’s always good to add a bit of cheer and fantasy to ones life.

For Christmas my partner and I decided that we would treat ourselves to a Playstation 3 instead of buying each other presents, completing a collection of all the consoles post-(and including) SNES. Of course, a week later the Wii-U came out, just to foil us. However, we went through a list of recommended RPG games only found on the PS3 and have struck gold with three of them. This is not a complete discussion as neither of these games have been completed, but rather just a mention of some great games and why I am enjoying playing them so far. So in short these are RPG, PS3-only and are not completed

3D Dot Game Hero: A nostalgic must-own Oh man, if you cling to your PS1, or have a healthy “game” folder on your machine, complete with every SNES, PS1, etc emulator you could find, and spend hours upon hours replaying Zelda, Final Fantasy or similar, you MUST own this game. MUST. The opening starts out with a standard 2D exploring interface with which we are all familiar. The king then says that no one visits anymore because it is too boring, and so transforms the world into a 3D, pixelated universe. Instead of being top-down, it is now ~45 degrees and filled with vibrant, magical colours. The water animation is particularly breathtaking. The fighting style is real-time, a la Zelda.

The great thing about this game is it is very tongue-in-cheek, which might leave people who are not familiar with SNES/PS1-era video games wondering at all the little “in jokes”, but it is enjoyable enough that one won’t feel left out. Such things include a main characters name which makes little-to-no sense and inexplicably is the only capitalised word to be found, and spells which have no relation to their English name, a call back to early translations of Final Fantasy games. I just unlocked the “Normal Map” spell which allows you to bash and send a shock wave… yeah. It also embraces the old-school glitches and incorporates them directly into the game play.

In short, 3D Dot Game Heros is visually impressive and wonderfully nostalgic. Anyone who loved Zelta, Final Fantasy and misses those days of RPG, this is a must-own.

Eternal Sonata: I have only started playing Eternal Sonata, but the gameplay reminds me of the styles of the “Tales of ___” games. The artwork is absolutely stunning and the piano music is touching; the story revolves around Chopin, so it makes sense. The battle-style incorporates light and dark elements, so if you are standing in the dark, your special skill is different from when you are standing in the light. This can be tricky to get used to, but is fun to play with.  The turn-based style of battle is again hard to get used to, but there is essentially a timer that goes for each character, and once that time runs out, that’s your turn. As you advanced, this method evolves which while it sometimes can be irritating, it keeps the battles from becoming ‘too easy’ as you level up and start to master each of your characters. Definitely worth playing, and my partner, who is a massive RPG fan (as I write this, he’s blasting through the Aqua Temple in 3D Dot Game Heros) said it’s quickly becoming his favourite modern RPG, as it provides a beautiful setting with a good storyline.

Valkyria Chronicles: This is a tactical RPG where you maintain a squad in a fictional setting loosely based on WWII Europe in 1935. I LOVE tactical RPG games (totally rocking XCOM right now) and this is such fun, definitely my personal favourite of the lot. Don’t worry, I am definitely aware of how popular this has become, but it is my first encounter with the game.

The animation is stunning with a soft watercolour feel. Each battle is complicated, sometimes frustrating (constantly saving is the way to go), but always interesting, and the way the story is presented, almost makes you feel like you are watching/participating in a really good, almost Myazaki-like film. I might just leave the discussion there, but if you enjoy good tactical RPG and fantastic animation, just give it a try for yourself… you won’t be disappointed.

 

So, in short, the PS3 was definitely a good buy with enough interesting PS3-only RPG games. My personal favourite is Valkyria Chronicles but 3D Dot Game Heros is just so much fun and Eternal Sonata is purely enjoyable.

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The Little and the Large

Thinking about the small and the big in life, I am sitting in a pub in Cardiff sipping a pint of porter (hints of cocoa and coconut… bizarre, but good and malty). Turns out the bartender working here is from the same area of Glasgow I lived for the last three and a half years. Funny that.

I was fortunate enough to watch President Obama give his speech on gun safety (I’ve changed my rhetoric from “control” to “safety”) and that tiny optimist at the back of my mind is saying “This is it! Things have changed! The winds are shifting!” and that I will be very proud to tell people 30-40 years from now I watched that speech live. There are a couple things that this lefty disagrees with in her president, but overall I think he is a decent guy and I appreciate what he is trying to do.
Unfortunately, this is now in the hands of the American public. If we want anything done we need to contact our representatives (Democrat and Republican) and tell them what we feel about these new laws.

The future is in the hands of the American public. I’m going to try to keep from hiding under this table and watching repeats of the Muppet Show until the world goes away. Don’t let me down.

What do you think? Will this make a difference? Is the NRA finally losing it’s grasp on the balls of the politicians? Do Americans care enough to actually let their congresspeople know?

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Hello World

Hi! My name is Erin and this is where I will share with anyone who wants to listen, my opinions thoughts and ideas. I’ve started this blog from scratch, because I abandoned my old one and am wracked with guilt. It also wasn’t really going in the direction I wanted. A couple of my posts from that blog were fairly popular, and I’ve linked them here if you happen to be interested:

Sex and Math: You Can Integrate My Curves Any Day

Alan Rickman and Me

So, would you like to know something about me? There is both too much and not enough to tell, so you might just have to read more. I’m a physicist, Ph.D. and everything, but that doesn’t really define me. I grew up in Colorado, moved to Scotland when I was 22, lived there for 4 years, got married last year and am now working in Wales. I’m an atheist, a liberal, a skeptic, a gamer, a trekkie, a nerd, a geek, and everything around and in-between. Don’t worry, you’ll catch on soon enough. Welcome!

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