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Sep 26, 2019

Farewell, Vermilius


This week I said goodbye to one of my closest friends, Vermilius. He's been a part of my life for nearly six and a half years, and now he's off living a new life, for however much time he has left. He was getting really slow towards the end of our time together, and to ease the pain of separation, I wiped his memories so he had less to miss.

I first got Vermilius (so named because of the red color his keys glowed) in 2013, after much researching on gaming laptops. Vermilius was top-of-the-line in his day. He had not one, but two graphics cards, one of them replacing a CD ROM drive. He was always an innovative guy, urging me to move past CDs into using digital downloads for games instead. As long as he was plugged in, he could run Orcs Must Die, Heroes of the Storm, and lots of other games at a great resolution and graphics quality, especially compared to my previous computer, Lappy.

I played dozens of hours of games on Vermilius, in many different locales across Utah, Idaho, and even Texas on one occasion. My original Warcraft III Easter Eggs series was fully created on Vermilius, and in a way I owe my claim to fame to him.

Last year, Vermilius got a bit jealous of Macky, my MacBook Pro I got in my coding course, but this was mainly because Macky largely replaced Vermilius as a portable computer. Macky is lighter and has a much smoother track pad than Vermilius did (that was definitely one of his faults, as was his tendency to groan when thinking too hard), and though Macky can't play many games, it was definitely more convenient to bring her along for casual use than lug heavy Vermilius in his broken computer bag.

Ironically, it was Vermilius's success in making me an amateur Youtuber that ultimately led to his retirement. With the money I earned from my first AdSense paycheck, I finally was able to purchase a solid desktop PC, whom I named Bulwark. With Macky taking over the family travel business and Bulwark having much more powerful graphics, even being able to be cranked up to Ultra without so much as a bit of lag, it was only a matter of time before Vermilius was put into storage, sleeping for months at a time and only coming out very seldom to be utilized as an outlet for an HDMI movie-viewing experience on Netflix or Amazon Prime. At last, however, his slow, elderly speed and his annoying groan became too much. An HDMI adapter hub was ordered for Macky, and venerable Vermilius was put to sleep, then awakened without his memories (again, to ease the pain), and sent off to a new home.

Hopefully his new owner will find a use for him before he kicks the bucket altogether. Though I only got $70 in return for selling Vermilius and I purchased him for $899.99, I think overall the six years I spent with him was absolutely worth it.

I hereby raise this strawberry shake from Chick Fil'A in your honor, Vermilius. To a life well-lived, to many hours of gaming, and to moving forward from school days in constant need of a laptop to a more settled life at a desk. Adeus.

Sep 22, 2019

A Weekend at the Utah Renaissance Faire


The other weekend I had the chance to go to Utah's Renaissance Faire! I'm not sure why I've never made the effort to go to a Renaissance faire before now. I guess I assumed it was more focused on the actual Renaissance than the dark ages and more "interesting" aspects of the Middle Ages. Regardless, last night when I found the Utah faire's website, I immediately resolved to buy a VIP ticket for the Queen's Feast the moment they were available and save enough money to where I could get anything I wanted, including food and drink on a whim—something I've never been able to enjoy before. In short, I wanted to treat myself and release my inner child. I absolutely love medieval stuff in any form, and this was finally my chance to experience something like this for myself.

The faire itself was fun for the most part. I loved to see the jousting tournament, magicians, performers, minstrels, and all kinds of stations selling various medieval crafts. I ate a big, hot turkey leg for lunch, along with some homemade root beer in a novelty glass bottle; and I finally was able to wear my knight costume I got for Christmas last year, as well as outfit it with a pretty solid quality sword and shield. Now I can finally actually participate on Halloween.
Me posing with Frostylocks, who is apparently a
Renaissance faire legend. I didn't know that at the time.

I brought $200 to blow on whatever tickled my fancy at the faire, and I resolved to indeed spend all of it. I thought that was a lot of money to bring, but it still ran out pretty fast. It was a reminder of why my parents never bought us soft drinks at restaurants or let us go to gift shops at museums as kids. It's just not worth it to spend on anything, unless you're really treating yourself. Or you're rich. I ended up buying an Ansuz rune (ᚨ) pendant, some teal D&D dice, a foam sword and shield and a baldric, a bottle of homebrewed root beer, a turkey leg, some kettle corn, a pretty flower ribbon headdress for my wife, a funnel cake, and my favorite item and best purchase, a high-quality drinking tankard. Despite my reservations at spending so much, the only thing that I really considered a waste of money at the end of the day was $5 on a cup of "butterbrew," a lame attempt at mimicking Harry Potter's butterbeer that just tasted like creme soda with a little butterscotch grenadine and some cream on top. It was also fun, for the first time in my life, to have money for tipping performers, especially my new favorite medieval band, Stary Olsa.
Though the entertainment was good quality and it was just fun to be around people dressed in medieval garb who I knew shared my interests, I think overall I'd give the faire a 3.5/5 score on how worth my money it was. I couldn't find all the attractions advertised on the website, such as flame breathers and scotch eggs, and some of the acts that were scheduled simply never occurred. There wasn't really anyone who you could ask for help—I really never knew who was in charge, despite the Queen of England herself being there. Also, I feel like it would have been easy for them to just up the "medieval" factor a little bit. There was a magician, but though he was dressed like a medieval guy (that's a requirement for all workers) he did modern magic tricks with references to modern pop culture while playing modern music. There was a feast, but it was just a buffet with modern foods like potatoes and brownies. I know it would have cost them more, but I would have paid more for a more authentic experience with servants serving us food on trenchers with foods like frumenty, suckling pig, mutton or venison, rabbit stew, pottage, mortrews, or haggis. There was a mime dressed up like a jester, but one of his acts was literally a parody of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. How much more amazing it would have been had they performed actual medieval acts to not break the immersion!
That's the type of experience I still feel lacking in my life after arriving home from the faire. I hope someday I can experience something more legitimate. I'd be willing to pay a great deal of money to have the slight immersion I felt at the faire—sometimes broken by the Queen saying "Dang it!" or people having to speak in microphones or play music through speakers—be fully realized. I think that was the other bummer I felt afterward: just that sort of melancholy feeling knowing that, despite how realistic all this sometimes felt, it was merely an echo of a culture and world long since dead, and heavily fantasized. I'll never be able to meet real medieval Europeans or feel what it would be like to be in a quieter world where people wore hoods and didn't look at smartphones in their spare time.

Still, I was grateful to go, and I'm sure I'll go again some year, if not every year. And until then, I'll be kicking myself every day for not getting my kids their own toy shields to play with!