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Avia S-199 in Israeli Air Force Service

Stream wireless video at home

We don’t own a dedicated TV streaming device. We do have both a Wii and a PlayStation 3, and we get Netflix through those. We subscribe to Videotron’s Illico digital cable TV and also have a grey-market DirecTV dish and PVR, with the Showtime package and no broadcast networks.

We’re well-served in content, even if we still haven’t made the leap to a flat-screen television – yeah, we still have a massive CRT set.

The kids monopolize the TV but I don’t mind. I’ve become accustomed to time shifting. The kids have filled up the PVR with Adventure Time and other Cartoon Network staples, though, so most of my time-shifting involves downloading TV-show torrents.

Boy, this is long-winded.

I usually watch video on my computer but sometimes a subset of the family will also want to watch what I download, either together or at separate times. Until this past summer, I’d transfer shows to a USB memory stick and plug that into the PS3.

I knew there had to be a better way to move video from my hard drive to our TV, but I figured we needed a streaming device like a Roku, AppleTV, or the new Google Chromecast. I had it completely backward.

I searched for ways to get this done, and the consensus choice is Plex, a media server you load on your computer. It’s absolutely free. Plex is fairly easy to install; once I had the courage to ignore some error warnings, it went seamlessly.

You find your video files through Plex’s Web-browser-based interface. Plex handles TV series and movies differently so you’ll want to separate those into different folders if you don’t already. Once it’s set up on your computer, Plex will search the Internet for covers and background info for all of your titles so that the end result looks darned professional. The only issue I had was that Plex misrecognized an old TV documentary and so downloaded the wrong information. I had to manually override that.

But once my set up is done, all I had to do was choose my new media server on the PS3, and boom – all my files are available in a pretty menu. I’ve had rare network hiccups that make me reload a file I’m watching, but that’s barely worth mentioning. I haven’t looked for the server on our Wii but I assume it would be easy to access there.

I was so pleased with my success that I tried to set up Plex for someone with an AppleTV. Oh, Apple…. True to form, Apple maintains a closed ecosystem on its AppleTVs. You can only get what they want you to get and that doesn’t include media files on your computer – unless they are in iTunes. Previously, I had advised the AppleTV user to convert all her downloaded video to MP4 format and then to drag it into iTunes. It works, but not for all video files and it’s kludgy. Plex is more elegant and easier since it will play anything your computer can, from .aac to .wmv.

Apple left a loophole in the AppleTV software, however. The device’s data streams are encrypted – with the exception of its Trailers channel. Some clever coders exploited this to force AppleTVs to access Plex through that Trailers channel. It seemed to work great…until Apple closed the hole with its most recent AppleTV software update.

Now, there are still workarounds and I found the appropriate code and files and followed the instructions to what I could best discern was a T, but I spent four hours trying to get this AppleTV to see Plex without success.

So I can’t recommend an AppleTV. Roku comes with Plex access by default but you still have to install your own media server for it to work. I’ve read that Roku boxes are not the most stable, although perhaps the company’s new line-up will fix that. If you have a newer TV with Google Play, a LG Smart TV, or a Samsung TV that can use that app store, you can also get the Plex client directly.

The Google Chromecast dongle is HDMI only and has a Plex client in development. It’s a $35 device, only available in the US for now.

If I had to design an home media-server installation from scratch today, I’d start with a used Wii. It’s less expensive and more reliable than a dedicated streaming device. And it plays games. By the end of the year, I might opt for a Chromecast if the TV has a spare HDMI input.

A hidden gem 90 minutes west

As summer began I had never seen a live moose. It was somewhat embarrassing for a Canadian, so seeing a living moose was on my bucket list.

The easiest way to find a moose to look at is to find a zoo that harbours one, you’d think – but there are few zoos within driving range of Montreal and the two I know of (the Biodome and Granby Zoo) don’t have moose. Parc Safari has deer but otherwise focuses on African mammals.

To Google I went, where I discovered Parc Omega, located roughly across the Ottawa River from Hawkesbury. It’s a drive-through circuit, like Parc Safari and although it’s been around for two decades, I’d never heard of it before. It focuses on local and European fauna: a bunch of deer species; black bears; boars; wolves and foxes; etc. The park also offers overnight accommodations which are hardly necessary but which we decided to try out.

What a fantastic destination this place is. The deer and elk come right up to your car for food. Conveniently, the park’s main building sells bags of carrots for $2.50. The park warns you to keep your car windows half closed, but we preferred having the deer stick their heads in our van. The boars are also friendly, although too short to reach the windows. The ibex are a bit shyer.

The herd of bison ignores the cars but you’re not supposed to feed them anyway. I’m sure there’s a link there. Musk oxen, bears, and the wolves and foxes are penned in. You can look, but you can’t touch, or feed.

You can get very close to black bears and timber wolves on the park’s boardwalk. I’m sure they have gauged the animals’ leaping ability with some precision. Again, you are not supposed to feed them, but wild blackberry bushes grow around the base of the boardwalk supports. The bears had eaten all theirs, but we could reach some ripe berries on the wolf side. The bears would sit up and are extraordinarily good at snatching berries out of midair.

And in one pocket of the park, nearly smack dab in the middle, I saw these:

Meese in afternoon.

Meese in afternoon.

A moose at sunset.

A moose at sunset.

Bucket filled.

Five of us spent the night in what the park calls a prospector tent, which is really more like half a log cabin with a tent perched on top. It had real beds and a Keurig. Unfortunately, the shower is only cold and you are not allowed a fire. The tent suffered from a lack of ventilation and a clammy feel, but that’s made up for by the fallow deer in the forest around you and free access to the back side of the wolf/bear boardwalk. You’d have to pay again to get your car back in the park, though. That’s a policy the management should rethink.

Here are four dozen or so of my pics. As it turns out, everything we thought was a whitetail deer is actually an elk.

IMG_0688

I'm not a deer, I'm an elk. Morons.

IMG_0689

I can't hear you. I have a tag in my ear.

IMG_0691

Happy boar is happy.

IMG_0692

Suckling pig.

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Fallow deer.

IMG_0694

I dare you to shoot me.

IMG_0695

Elk say "My mud!"

IMG_0696

Interspecies napping.

IMG_0697

Count the points on that elk!

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Arctic fox. Not a seal.

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Skinny red fox.

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Red fox.

IMG_0702

Bison, medium shot.

IMG_0703

Bison, close shot.

IMG_0704

Bison, long shot.

IMG_0706

Red deer.

IMG_0707

Red deer and flies.

IMG_0708

Coyotes.

IMG_0709

Coyote pack.

IMG_0710

Ibex at rest.

IMG_0711

Ibex.

IMG_0713

Scratching bear.

IMG_0714

Bear cubs.

IMG_0715

Sitting bear.

IMG_0716

Shedding black bear.

IMG_0719

The elk is immune to my Vulcan pinch.

IMG_0720

Elk.

IMG_0723

Grey fox.

IMG_0729

Mammalian young.

IMG_0733

Raccoons at rest and play.

IMG_0734

Boar.

IMG_0735

Boared.

IMG_0727

Black bears, from boardwalk.

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Elk with her baby.

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Elk.

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Arctic wolf.

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This is not the late Crash, but an arctic wolf.

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Arctic wolf, allegedly.

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Ibex.

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Timber wolf, from boardwalk.

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Timber wolves.

(Click to enlarge any photo.)

Play radiologist

I can’t find the break in the intermediate phalanx. Can you?

FingerR1

FingerR2

FingerR3

Yup, deja vu

I don’t have cool X-rays like last time – yet – but I did break another finger. I have two small fractures, one in the finger tip and one at the proximal end of the intermediate phalanx (middle finger bone).

There’s no pain anymore. Most of the pain was emotional. I walked into Emergency at 9:55 p.m. and walked out just short of nine hours later. It had been a busy night, mostly with gastro patients who tended to vomit in the waiting room. I and my finger were low priority.

The mild pain I posted about from the waiting room had by midnight grown into real pain. The triage nurse could not give me any ibuprofen without a doctor’s permission and I was waiting to see the doctor, so I had to grin and bear it.

Once I saw the doctor, he was kind enough to get me some ibuprofen. I got the X-ray, the news, and a small splint.

finger2

What was worst about my experience was leaving the hospital to find that someone had rubbed Nibbler the wrong way.

Grrr.

Grrr.

Bonus animal:

Somehow, my allergic self has agreed to let this thing live with us permanently.

IMG_0750

Does anybody have an in on inexpensive loratadine?

Deja vu

Yup, I took another softball in a fingertip.

This time, the nail didn’t split and blood didn’t spill.

It happened in the first inning of a doubleheader and had I left the game, we would have had to forfeit both games. So I moved to first base and did what I could.

Batting, I had even less power than I normally do and my finger would occasionally hurt like hell. It’s bearable otherwise, like a mild headache.

Nevertheless, I feel I should get it checked out so I’m sitting in Emergency, waiting for an X-ray at least.

20130818-221214.jpg

Weird Mail issue

I recently dealt with an quirk of Apple’s Mail application for a client. I found a workaround, but I have no idea exactly why it’s happening, or how to prevent it from happening. That bugs me.

My client receives an e-mail newsletter from an industry group. What he gets shows up like this:

HTMLnewsletter

It’s a standard formatted e-mail. The raw e-mail comes in two parts. The first is simple text, and the second is HTML. It’s ugly, inelegant HTML, with layout driven by nested tables, but it works.

A problem arises when my client forwards this e-mail to others. It shows up like this:

screwyHTML

The text is there. It’s just the same colour as the background. Notice that the justification of some of the paragraphs has also changed.

When asked to forward this e-mail, Mail does so, but it adds this before the HTML of the newsletter proper:

forwardheader

Mail adds that little text through some, yes, HTML. And that HTML is what (I assume) screws up the styles of the newsletter.

As far as I can tell, there’s no way to get around this while using the “Forward” function. My workaround takes advantage of Mail’s “Send Again” command. That doesn’t add anything to the message and conveniently can be applied to messages that you yourself didn’t send the first time.

Bonus funny:

I’ve been freelancing for a company that adds subtitles to movies, which is more complicated than you think it is because of competing standards. There’s also a procedure to verify foreign dialogue.

The other day, I was working on Darren Aronofsky’s “Pi” along with two goyim. Each of us covered a third of the movie, which contains a bit of Hebrew and Yiddish, but I was responsible for knitting all three reports together. One of the foreign-dialogue notes one of the other titlers left for me concerned a Hebrew word. His remark cracked me up, and it will amuse anyone who is familiar with Chabad and its tactics:

Teffillin. A type of Jewish phylactery? Appears to be used in the context of a drug.

Bar-mitzvah speech

Saturday was Child Three’s bar mitzvah. He performed well, after what was frankly a poor rehearsal the week before. Let’s hear it for misguided life lessons!

Our last out-of-town guests leave today and while it is a nice change to spend time with them, my freelance schedule is piling up. I have a deadline of the end of the week to subtitle a 50-minute documentary on spontaneous human combustion (cough, bullshit, cough), copy-edit a 36-page e-zine on NoSQL, copy-edit two shorter tech articles, apply to teach courses next year, and iFigure out why a client’s iCal won’t sync with his iPad or iPhone. Is it just me or has Apple gone downhill since Steve Jobs died? The new iTunes is crap, interface-wise.

So I’m blogging. And not about my pretend baseball team, which is riding Roy Halladay, Jason Motte, Matt Kemp, and Jay Bruce to ninth place.

Enough about me. Let me now discuss my speech, the one I gave at the bar mitzvah. Some people asked to see it, so here it is. It’s not a direct transcription, since I ad lib and some of this is from memory.

I’d like to start by pointing out that Child Three’s bar mitzvah is not the only special occasion today. As Elvi implied earlier, it is Star Wars day. May the Fourth be with you. And purely by coincidence, it’s Free Comic Book Day. If you go to a comic-book store today and ask, they’ll give you a free comic book. We didn’t know that until this week.

I learned on Facebook just a few days ago that today is also International Naked Gardening Day, and the weather’s beautiful, so go for it.

Here we are again, for what’s probably the last time in terms of my offspring.

I’d like to thank everybody for being here, especially those who travelled from all over North America. It is the NHL playoffs, so I’d like to thank them by team. We have people from the home territories of the San Jose Sharks, my sister from the land of the Vancouver Canucks, my brother from the Washington Capitals, and my brother, mother and Grandpa Marty from the AHL’s Houston Aeros, at least for a few more weeks.

There’s a huge contingent of family from the home of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Congrats on scoring a playoff goal this decade. Start planning your parade.

I don’t want to make this a downer, but there is something I have to acknowledge. I’m almost certain that everybody here who was at our girls’ earlier bat-mitzvah celebrations has, at one point or another this week, thought about someone who was around for those earlier occasions but isn’t with us now.

You know who I mean. He had white hair, was basically friendly but had his grumpy moments, and if we can be honest, he went through a lot of pain near the end of his life.

He even bit me when I was trying to help him. I still have a scar on the palm of my hand.

I speak, of course, of our late dog, Crash.

All the same could be said for my dad, except about the scar. He wasn’t strong enough to bite hard enough to leave a scar.

I wanted to honour my father in some way during this morning’s service without bringing down the mood too much, so what I decided to do was to wear this suit, which belonged to him. These are his pants. This is his coat.

(GET CLUMP OF DOG HAIR FROM POCKET)

And this is Crash’s coat.

Thank you all for coming.

Child Three, you drive me crazy sometimes, but we got there and passed with flying colours, mostly shades of purple. And if you think what you’ve done up to this point was hard, just wait until you have to sit down and write 200 thank-you notes.

(L to R) Synagogue president, Sister Tracy, Brother Jeff, cantor, cantor's husband, Brother Mitch, Mum (in pink), parnass.

(L to R) Synagogue president, Sister Tracy, Brother Jeff, cantor, cantor’s husband, Brother Mitch, Mum (in pink), parnass.

Pretend baseball time

I stocked up on Coke Zero, figs, and rye matzah yesterday and spent the afternoon in a conference room at the TSN Radio 690 for the annual Irrational League draft and bitchfest.

I took an unusual tack with my keepers this year in two respects. I kept no pitchers. Any pitchers I would have kept would have been barely equal in value to my hitter keepers. Since hitters are more reliable than pitchers, it’s an easy decision to keep the bats and cut the arms loose, even if it is Mat Latos.

The second thing I did differently was to pay at least a little attention to positional scarcity. My decision on my last two keepers came down to three choices: Starling Marte; Aaron Hill; and Yadier Molina. I kept the infielder and catcher even though Marte has a higher ceiling.

Ultimately, I kept Matt Kemp, Matt Holliday, David Wright, Jay Bruce, Hill, and Molina. I went into the draft hoping to grab the first drafted pitcher with my #3 pick. That’s how I ended up with Roy Halladay. It’s a calculated risk.

This is a transition years for NL-only leagues, since we lost two teams. Yes, two. The Astros are in the AL now and so are nearly all the decent Marlins. It was deep into the draft before any of us drafted a Marlin besides Giancarlo Stanton and Steve Cishek. The loss of the Astros takes 5400 AB out of the league, or roughly 6% of the available total. I’m not sure enough teams compensated for that in the draft.

I’m happy with my picks, although I have no real first-baseman for a few months. My roster and predictions:

C: Yadier Molina: .285, 15 HR, 70 R, 75 RBI, 5 SB
C: Devin Mesoraco: .245, 10 HR, 30 R, 30 RBI
1B: Logan Morrison: .255, 15 HR, 55 R, 55 RBI
2B: Aaron Hill: .270, 20 HR, 80 R, 65 RBI, 10 SB
SS: Chris Pennington: .255, 5 HR, 40 R, 40 RBI, 10 SB
3B: David Wright: .280, 20 HR, 75 R, 75 RBI, 10 SB
CI: John Mayberry: .250, 15 HR, 50 R, 60 RBI, 5 SB
MI: Darwin Barney: .270, 5 HR, 60 R, 55 RBI, 5 SB
OF: Matt Holliday: .290, 25 HR, 95 R, 95 RBI, 5 SB
OF: Matt Kemp: .285, 30 HR, 90 R, 100 RBI, 15 SB
OF: Jay Bruce: .260, 35 HR, 85 R, 100 RBI, 5 SB
OF: John Jay: .290, 10 HR, 70 R, 60 RBI, 10 SB
OF: David DeJesus: .265, 10 HR, 80 R, 50 RBI, 5 SB
UT: Denard Span: .270, 5 HR, 75 R, 45 RBI, 15 SB
UT: Collin Cowgill: .255, 10 HR, 45 R, 45 RBI, 10 SB

I have Jerry Hairston filling a roster spot while Logan Morrison mends. Yes, that’s the Astros effect. Other than that and John Mayberry, everyone else at least starts with a full-time job.

Last year, I predicted totals of .270, 225 HR, 910 R, 900 RBI, and 140 SB. I wound up with .280, 228 HR, 908 R, 865 RBI, and 130 SB. I earned 37 points instead of the predicted 46, which I thought was optimistic – but Matt Kemp missed a third of the year with injuries.

This year, I’m looking forward to .270, 230 HR, 985 R, 950 RBI, and 110 SB. My projections tell me that’s good for clear first-place finishes in runs and RBI, strong second-place finishes in average and home runs, and a middle of the pack finish in stolen bases. I’m going to be conservative and estimate 42 points.

Despite going into the draft with no pitchers, I came out with a fairly strong pitching staff. I have solid starters and nobody too terrible to ruin the year, which is a big problem on some other teams. I snagged some familiar names. Latos, Estrada, and Fiers finished the year with me last year.

SP: Mat Latos: 13 W, 165 K, 3.80 ERA; 1.25 WHIP
SP: Roy Halladay: 13 W, 145 K, 3.45 ERA, 1.16 WHIP
SP: Marco Estrada: 12 W, 150 K, 3.65 ERA; 1.20 WHIP
SP: Mike Fiers: 12 W, 145 K, 4.00 ERA, 1.30 WHIP
P: Edwin Jackson: 13 W, 160 K, 3.95 ERA, 1.30 WHIP
P: Juan Nicasio: 10 W, 120 K, 4.25 ERA, 1.30 WHIP
RP: Chris Capuano: 6 W, 70 K, 3.60 ERA, 1.20 WHIP
RP: J.J. Putz: 30 Sv, 4 W, 65 K, 3.00 ERA, 1.15 WHIP
RP: Jason Motte: 25 Sv, 4 W, 65 K, 2.80 ERA, 1.15 WHIP
RP: Mark Melancon: 5 Sv, 3 W, 55 K, 2.90 ERA, 1.15 WHIP

Waiting for injuries to heal are Francisco Liriano and my man-crush, Corey Luebke. I also have Taylor Skaggs (another Angel refugee from last year) for those who believe in pitching prospects. I only believe in them when the option is Jason Marquis.

Liriano when healthy will replace Nicasio, I suspect, unless there’s an injury.

My projections give me good but not great WHIP and ERA in the second to fourth-place range. Let’s call that two third-place finishes for 16 points. I should expect 90 wins, 60 saves, and 1,140 Ks. Normally that’s middle of the pack in saves and upper third in wins and strikeouts. This year, the cumulative stats will be harder to come by, so I may finish slightly better than that. Call it fifth, second, and third respectively. Pitching points total to 39.

Hmmm, 39 and 42 points sum to a league championship, as long as I only suffer the standard injury losses. We’ll see.

Bonus cleaning tip:

Ever burn sugar or milk in a pot so badly that you think of throwing the pot away? I was reducing some balsamic vinegar when it turned on me and carbonized, welding itself to the inside of a saucepan. ONline hints told me to try Tide or bleach. Neither worked and neither did generic CLR. I had an idea, though, and that worked: use spray-on oven cleaner! Let the pot soak in for a few hours and the mess wipes up easily.

Another nice thing about Lose It

When you lose your supper multiple times overnight, you can go back and delete the entries that are now all over the bathroom.

I’ve lost four pounds since yesterday afternoon and that is not an exaggeration.

Go look up “norovirus”. I’ve worn a trough in the carpet between my bed and the bathroom.

Apps and Applications

Thanks to “Blackadder the Third” for the influence of title alliteration. Thanks to me for the crappy execution.

Yesterday, I did something to a Mac I’ve never done before and it left me with a sick feeling in my stomach. Behold:

WIn7install

I have some work that requires me to use proprietary software that’s Windows-only, so I had to. I chose VMware over other options because I have a friend who works there, so I figure high-quality tech support will be easy to access.

I had a bad experience with tech support recently. Our old router was dropping connections and somebody on our wireless LAN has been occasionally uploading way more data than normal. I installed DD-WRT on the old router, a Cisco/Linksys WRT54G v.6. Version 6 of that router is crippled with minimal RAM compared to earlier models so the installation left no room for the tools I’d need to install to monitor bandwidth by user. Plus, it kept dropping connections.

By the way, yes, Wi-Fi routers can wear out despite a lack of any moving parts. Probably.

So I bought a new Netgear router and put DD-WRT on that. I tried and failed to install a Linux bandwidth monitor program on it and I felt the best thing to do would be to start anew, with factory settings. I tried to reset the router according to the manual, but it just wouldn’t reset. It did, however, stop working.

I called Netgear tech support and spent an hour with a clueless person. He was trained to follow the script he was given, which was to test the router and repair its Internet connection. He wouldn’t comprehend that I was asking him to help me reset the router. He also wasn’t comfortable with using Macs, so he made me dig out Elvi’s Windows laptop and use the unintuitive networking tools on that. My post-call assessment was not kind – although at some point in the process, the router came back to life, although with DD-WRT and not the native Netgear firmware. I said thanks and goodbye.

Oh, yeah. I’ve also moved up to Mac OS 10.8 Mountain Lion. I forget why.

Anyway, in the upgrade I discovered that my favourite text-editing program, Tex-Edit Plus no longer worked. I’ve been using it for close to 20 years, and I lamented its loss – until I visited the site to learn that an updated version will work on Mountain Lion. Huzzah! It’s shareware, and recommends you pay $15. I paid $50 a long time ago. It’s that good.

I started this post with the intention of noting some apps. I suppose it’s time to get around to that.

I continue to have a torrid love affair with Waze. I’m obsessed with mapping for it. I pretty much singlehandedly filled in everything between St-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Drummondville. On to Trois-Rivières! It’s not healthy.

I’m also using Lose It, which is an app that lets you record what you eat and exercise you perform. I got on a scale in late December and saw 178 on the readout. That’s too much. I set a goal of getting down to 155 lbs by May, roughly a pound a week. Lose It set my daily caloric budget at 1,752. Right now, I’m bouncing between 172 and 174 so it seems to be working.

What I like about Lose It is its bar-code scanner. Scan what you eat and it tells you what it costs in calories. What I don’t like about Lose It is that it is aimed at people who eat prepackaged foods. It’s sometimes difficult to find home-made foodstuffs in its list and of course food made from scratch doesn’t have a bar code. Nevertheless, I’m sticking with it, and to my budget.

Another I want to praise is actually kind of boring. Battleship Destroyer HMS turns you into a gunner on a Royal Navy frigate in World War II. It’s simple and it gets dull after a while, particularly if you stick to the free version. The amazing thing about the game, and this is not unique, is that you can play in gyroscope mode. Instead of using screen swipes or buttons to move, you move the smart phone to view the world around you. Want to swivel your gun turret? Turn around. Want to aim high? Lift the phone toward the sky. It’s surprisingly immersive.

The final app I want to mention is Spaceteam (iOS only). Developer Henry Smith knocked this off to train himself to code iOS apps and has an unexpected hit in his hands. You can only play it face to face, and multiplayer is mandatory. Every player has a control panel and is sent a list of commands. If they cannot use their own control panel to fulfil the command, they must ask/shout at the other players to do so. That’s the whole game. It gets hard, especially when you lose the labels on the controls.

We have a game night scheduled with friends tonight. I wonder if I can use Richard III to whip up some enthusiasm for Kingmaker.

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