Another dream I had a while ago that I wrote down for posterity.
It’s been a tough life. I’m surprised I’ve made it this far, but I don’t think I can keep going. It all used to be manageable, bearable, doable. It was never easy, but it was never impossible. But now it feels as if everything in this world has stacked up against me for one final push. This has been a decision long in the making, and now I must go through with it. I’ve made my choice, and tonight’s the night.
There are so many loose ends that need to be tied up, but I don’t quite care enough to finish them before tonight. I’m just going to go up there, and get it over with. Nothing in this life has ever gone my way, has ever worked in my favor. So why should I care about anything that happens after tonight? Why should I give a damn about anything in this world?
But I made one promise, one promise I must keep. A promise I made both to myself and to her. I swore to myself that her voice would be the last one I hear, and she made me promise her that I’d call her no matter what. She’s been there every step of the way. She’s been the only positive constant in my life, and I owe her that much.
She’s busy and can’t come to the phone. No surprise there. I guess I can wait just a little longer. Maybe she’ll call back. I guess it’s appropriate that this night is supposed to be the coldest all year. I don’t know how much longer I can wait, but I’m not going to break this promise no matter what.
Finally, she’s calling. I’m always surprised at how she can make me smile no matter what’s going on in my life. She’s been there for me through thick and thin, through the good times and the bad, but I don’t think there’s anything even she can do for me tonight. But either way, I have to be honest with her. I’ve never lied to her, never held back, and why should tonight be any different?
There, I’ve told her my intentions. No surprise, she’s trying to talk me out of it. This is definitely the one thing I am going to miss the most, no question about it. I have to give her credit, she’s trying her best to stop me. But this is a decision I made a long time ago after a lot of thinking, and I’m not going to back down from it now.
But at the same time, I can’t let go of the phone. I can’t hang up on her, not after everything she’s done for me. I guess I can just sit here a while longer and stare out into the night sky. I forgot how beautiful the city skyline was at night, all the buildings lit up, the randomly spaced lighted offices, filled with busy people working through the night.
I’ve been on the phone for nearly two hours. I think it’s about time. I kept my promise, and now my phone is sitting on the edge. It’s now or never…
No, I don’t believe it. That’s her voice, but it can’t be her. I have to see…it is her! What’s she doing here?
I can’t do it, not while she’s here. Not while she’s watching.
“Wait…please, just wait.” She’s out of breath, and shivering from the cold.
“What are you doing here?” Those are the only words my mouth will form.
“I’m not going to let you go through with this!” Even though she’s obviously tired, she still gives the tightest hug I know. And what’s this? A kiss on the cheek?
“You’re too good a friend for me to let you go like this. As long as I’m here, nothing’s going to happen to you, I promise.”
Maybe sometimes that’s all you need, a simple kiss and a friendly promise.
This is going to be a good life.
So, I’m a bit of a writer. About 5 short stories of decent length (15 - 45 pages each?). They’re generally very technical, very detailed, and unfortunately very dry. I’m an engineer, so what do you expect? But I also tend to write about my dreams (~1 page), and as a friend told me once, I apparently dream in prose. So here’s one of my dreams.
Why did this have to happen?
The sun’s beginning to rise. The room has quite a beautiful, mellow glow. Hmm, she’s getting a little restless. She never could quite sleep when there was light in the room. I mean, she couldn’t sleep when the moon was showing through the curtains. I guess that’s one of the many quirks about her that made me love her. She is the epitome of individuality.
I remember when we first met in college. You were so full of energy when everyone else just wanted it all to be over. You couldn’t stop talking about your family, your beliefs, your own ‘have your cake and eat it too’ view on life. We connected on so many levels, and we quickly became the best of friends. Helping each other get through calculus and chemistry, those all-nighters where we just sat around staring at the books with the smell of cold pizza.
You were there for me when things got bad, just like a true friend. I leaned on you, looking for support and some kind of signal to let me know it was all going to be OK. You stood by my side as I tried to find myself, and you never wavered. I guess that’s when we both realized we had become something more than just friends.
I’ve only known you for these past three years, but I can’t remember what my life was like before I met you. Being with you gives me a sense of euphoria. No matter what’s going on around us, I know if I’m with you it all disappears. You may credit God for it, but you know I never could quite get my head around that notion. I just chalked it up to your amazing personality.
But now, here I am, watching you, and I am truly questioning whether or not the heavenly father you so thoroughly believed in and devoted your life to is real. I cannot for the life of me believe he exists, not after seeing what I have seen.
I don’t know if I can stay here much longer. I can’t watch this. I have to go. But I can’t, because each time I convince myself that I must leave, your grip on my hand just keeps me here. Maybe it’s ‘second nature’, your hand in mine. Maybe it’s your mind, somehow realizing that I want to leave, willing me to stay.
But, in the end, I can’t leave. I made a promise to you to stay by your side, but more importantly, and somewhat more selfishly, I made a promise to myself that I would watch out for you, that I would be your guardian angel here on Earth.
But I failed. I failed you and myself, because now here you lay, your body being torn asunder by an enemy that has ravaged the lives of many. You once told me that God had a master plan, but I refuse to believe how your death fits in that plan. I will never forget what you told me last night before going to sleep. “We had a good run. Meeting you completed my life, and I will always love you, from this life to the next. I’ll be watching you from heaven, waiting for you to join me.”
We did have a good run. I don’t know if I’m worthy enough for heaven, and I’ve already broken the promises I made to you. But I will always love you too, and nothing will ever change that.
The sun’s finally coming over the horizon. Your grip on my hand is tightened a bit, but now it’s slack. The rising of the sun is supposed to signify the start of a new life, yet here I am, unable to move, afraid of the future that doesn’t include you.
Goodbye my love.
Dodging bullets. A fairly common phrase. One my roommate uses quite often to describe his daily life. And to be fair, he does his fair share of dodging bullets. We’ve all experienced those crazy moments where we feel like nothing good can happen and there’s no escape. But then, all of a sudden, at the last minute, something else crazy happens. Our lives are suddenly less burdened, and we can move on with the rest of our business.
But personally, especially since I graduated from Georgia Tech, I’ve been doing nothing but running into bullets. At least it’s felt that way. As one of my friends called it, it’s been the year of the Anand. Or the year of the “woh woh.” Not sure how I take that, but I definitely understand what she means when she says it. I’ve had a lot of stuff happen to me since the Summer of 2010. Needless to say, there’s been the whole graduate student thing going on. My days are generally filled with attending ridiculous classes, catching up on research work, teaching classes. But on top of that, I’ve had a few more not-so-standard problems. I’ve had health scares, lab accidents, personal life problems (don’t we all?), and a few other miscellaneous problems. As another friend so aptly puts it, “if it were just one thing, fine I can deal with it. But when it’s all at the same time…”
Through it all I’ve been trying to keep up a good demeanor. A façade, granted, but at least one that doesn’t bring my sorrows onto others (unless I’m talking to a friend looking for a pick-me-up). But about 2 months ago, all of that got thrown out the window. Almost literally. About 2 months ago my life got changed completely.
I feel like I should have titled this post “Lucky to be Alive” or something. I’m not going to give any details unless someone specifically asks, but it was a pretty harrowing event. If I had struck the pole 1 foot different in either direction, I’m almost positive (and this 5 years of engineering studies/practice at work, not just idle speculation) that I would be permanently crippled, if not outright dead.
This has definitely put things into a much different perspective for me. Although I’ve had a rough year+, I’ve never had it so rough that I was forced to change the way I thought about everything. This, however, has thrown everything into the air. I’m not sure about my priorities anymore. I’m not sure about what it is I really care about now. I’m still sorting through all of that, but the crash has definitely changed all of that for me. One thing’s for sure, I definitely dodged a bullet on this one.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution was one of my most anticipated games for 2011, and the reasons for that are simple. One, it was the first big name release at the end of summer. Two, the original Deus Ex was one of my favorite games of all time. So I think it’s only appropriate that, before I delve to deeply into this review, to provide a little bit of background.
Deus Ex came out for the PC way back in 2000. At the time, it was vaunted as the greatest game of all time. It mixed stealth with action seamlessly, but more importantly it gave the player a feeling choice. That, along with the detailed setting, brought about a great sense of immersion. Unfortunately, Deus Ex doesn’t quite stand the test of time. The story is still there and is still an amazing tale, but the blocky graphics and bad optimization of the game’s code makes it hard to bear more than 10 years later.
So when Eidos and Square Enix revealed that a new installment in the franchise was on its way, you can understand my excitement. And when word came out that it was indeed a prequel to the original game, my excitement went through the roof. Few games have drawn me in so thoroughly with the world they’re set in, and I couldn’t wait to get another crack at it. I pre-ordered the game, got it on day 1, and 30+ gameplay hours later I’m thoroughly satisfied. Now I’m just biding my time till my roommate hands it back so I can take a second crack at it.
The reason why the world of Deus Ex drew me in is quite simple. The world the series portrays is believable. It feels like every day we’re getting closer and closer. Deus Ex: Human Revolution (hereunto referred to as HR) takes place in the not so distant future. 2027 to be exact. It doesn’t take place in some alternate reality, some far away planet, or centuries into the future. It’s almost here, it’s almost tangible, it’s right at our fingertips. The world is neither Utopia or Dystopia. Rather, just like real life, it’s somewhere in between. Corporations have grown to the point that they hold real power in the way the world works. There’s just something so real and so plausible about the future HR portrays.
And the truly immersive part of the series, which also happens to be the cornerstone of the gameplay, is the science of human augmentations. Prostheses have gone from being hindrances to workable substitutes to true improvements. And this is where the world comes into its own. At the base of world’s problems is the controversial science of human augmentation. Companies capitalize on people’s willingness to replace their flesh with metallic substitutes which outperform in every way. The elegant simplicity and yet utter complexity of the world created is rare in games. I won’t go too much further into the story and setting, but needless to say this is the biggest draw for me.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that a wonderful story is accompanied by great gameplay. In true Deus Ex style, HR blends stealth and action in a fantastic way. At any point, you can switch from playing like Sam Fisher and turn into Rambo (assuming you have the ammo). Now, this is not to say that certain methods are clearly easier than others depending on the situation, but the ability to switch on the fly is rare. For example, the game doesn’t punish you for screwing up your stealthy ambitions, but rather gives you a different challenge.
Despite all the praise I’ve heaped on it up to this point, the game is not without its flaws. It’s odd that a game which gives you a choice between stealth and action forces you into a head-to-head firefight against bosses. The bosses throughout the game (thankfully they are few and far between) are a major break in the immersion the game offers. And for players who spec themselves out for stealth, they can be nigh on impossible.
The ending of the game is also somewhat of a let down. I understand the ending must, in some way, wrap up HR while setting up the original Deus Ex, which takes place 25 years later. But that cannot excuse the ending. For the sake of spoilers, I’ll leave it at that.
Few games are flawless, and HR certainly isn’t one of them. It’s more than likely not Game of the Year material, but don’t let that detract from the fact that HR is still a great game, and well worth your time. If you’re a fan of the original, this is a definite play.
Before I get too far into this post, I want to make it clear that this article doesn’t have too much to deal with 9/11, but rather what it’s brought to mind in recent times.
There is no doubt in my mind, and in reality there should be no argument, that 9/11 was an event that defined this nation. What happened 10 years ago will forever be engraved into the conscious of every American who was alive when it happened. But, just as it would be irresponsible to argue against 9/11’s significance, it would also be irresponsible to argue 9/11’s dominance. The United States has been been around since 1776 (or 1787 depending on how technical you want to be). And, without fail, every generation has had a defining event which has shaped this great nation. 9/11. The Challenger Disaster. Vietnam. 1968. The Apollo Program. The World Wars. The list goes on.
But this got me thinking. What about the less publicized events? What about the smaller events that not many people know about, but have just as heavily influenced this nation? For me, one specific event comes to mind.
Tuskegee. Tuskegee, to sum it up, was an “experiment” by the US Military. Its goal was simple: to see if African-Americans could serve as combat pilots. When I bring Tuskegee up with my friends, it’s slightly disappointing but also unsurprising that the response I get is 50/50. It’s not something I was ever taught about in any of my history or social science classes, and it’s not something that’s brought up in the public eye. The sole exceptions to this would be the occasional documentary. But as I found out recently during one of my bouts of insomnia, the story of Tuskegee is getting the Hollywood treatment.
Not everything that Hollywood touches is turned to gold, but I’m glad to see that this story is getting the coverage it deserves, even if it is more than 60 years later. In a decade full of watered down and heavily romanticized war films, it’s always pleasant to see a movie which tells a true story (even if it is with a Hollywood spin). The movie has yet to be released of course, but personally I’m likening it to Black Hawk Down (The Battle of Mogadishu) and We Were Soldiers (Battle of la Drang).
When we talk about Civil Rights in America, a few choice names and events come to mind. Martin Luther King, Jr. Malcolm X. The “I Have a Dream” speech and the March on Washington. To a lesser extent, Muhammad Ali and Sidney Poitier and Jackie Robinson. So why shouldn’t we discuss the Tuskegee Airmen? In an era where African-American soldiers were usually aids, cooks, or janitors, a group of “colored” men had the gall and wherewithal to become commissioned officers in the US Army. And they didn’t stop there. They became full on combat pilots, at first relegated to attacking ground targets. In time, and with a full endorsement from one Eleanor Roosevelt, they finally joined the front lines and earned the right to fight for their country. That last statement is an entire discussion in and of itself, but that’s for another day.
And here’s a little bit more to ponder over. The 332 Fighter Group (the “Tuskegee Airmen”) flew several bomber escorts in their prime. Throughout all of their escort missions, they only lost 25 bombers. Other, more “established” fighter groups would lose 25 in a single sortie.
So a lot of my friends have been trying to get me into tumblr for quite some time. I guess it’s about time for me to cave in. I thought I’d use this first post to give you guys a slight preview of who I am.
The basics? I’m a 23 year old graduate student at Georgia Tech with a taste for just about everything, but not a real passion for anything. Basically, I’m really random. Hence the entropy. I major in Aerospace Engineering with a focus in Propulsion & Combustion. Yes, I’m a rocket scientist. And yes, I get to set things on fire in the name of research. It’s kind of a cool gig. For the rest, I’ll be fairly succinct.
I’m an audiophile.
I’m a video gamer.
I’m a Southerner.
Despite my ancestry, I consider myself an American first.
I’m a jack of all (technically many…) trades.
I’m a master of none.
I think that about sums it up for now. What you’re going to see from this post is a whole slew of “that has nothing to do with anything else on here…” Video game reviews, song breakdowns, technology posts, fiction writing excerpts, book discussions, and a little bit of everything else underneath the Sun.
Thanks, and please to enjoy.