Getting Influenza the First Week of the Semester

H1N1 influenza
Influenza is a nasty disease, for something unlikely to kill or (permanently) cripple you. It comes in numerous flavors, from H1N1 and H3N2 to Influenza B, and it mutates with great enthusiasm, preventing broad immunity through either infection or current vaccines. You’re usually contagious a day or two before you feel sick, which makes it easy to spread. Even when symptoms appear, you usually don’t feel that sick for several hours, when you’re already trapped at work or school.

You might mistake it for a cold at the beginning, but it saps your energy in a very distinctive way. Your limbs become heavy and stiff, and your entire body feels cold and exposed, no matter how many blankets you pile on yourself. Water tastes like dirt, even though you should probably drink a lot of it, and it becomes possible to sleep for longer periods than you could ever manage normally. You should stay home in this phase, but some employers, parents, or superegos will pressure you to work anyway, despite the infection risk. If you have weaker defenses or very bad luck, it can cause pneumonia, encephalitis, or organ failure. More often, it disables you for several days and leaves a nasty cough afterward.

At least, it knocked me down every time I could remember. Thus, when my mother caught the flu during my first week back at college, I became very nervous very quickly. She woke up Monday with a sore throat, went to work thinking she had a cold, and returned that evening with a fever of 101°F. It rose three degrees higher before she finally got it down by taking a bath. I slept at my friend’s house that night, so I didn’t know she was sick yet. My throat hurt the next morning. It felt like a cold, growing slightly worse each hour. I realized it was influenza the moment I learned about her. In retrospect, I never had a chance. The vaccine didn’t protect her from that particular strain, so it didn’t protect me, and she’d probably been contagious all weekend.

It wasn’t her fault, but it threw a wrench into my entire schedule. I started courses in HTML, Python, computer hardware, and fiction writing that week, and I moved my site to WordPress. Before infection, I planned to work ahead in each class, utilizing the calm introductory phase. The flu shattered my plans. At a minimum, I couldn’t go to class for the rest of the week. I was too dangerous to others. My mother works roughly ten hours at the hospital each day, and she spends her free time cleaning the house. Her energy reserves defy comprehension. So when she called in sick and couldn’t leave her bed the next day, I knew my week was doomed.
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Works of Fiction (and Research) I Should Have Finished by Now

An incomplete list:

Woken Furies – Richard K. Morgan
Havoc – Chris Wooding (Lost under my bed for several months)
The Diamond Age – Neal Stephenson (Checked out online numerous times; too lazy to finish)
Ravenor Rogue – Dan Abnett
Caves of Ice – Sandy Mitchell
NeuroTribes – Steve Silberman
Complete CompTIA A+ Guide to PCs, Sixth Edition
– First semester HTML and C++ textbooks (Busy compensating for lack of friends in high school)
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iOS, Kovacs, and Other Winter Distractions

Even Google’s in on it.

Ah, December. The month of an arctic-dwelling fat man who runs a factory of elves, handing them manufacturing quotas from lists written in childhood handwriting. Their orders are many, encompassing brands from Lego to Sony, but the elves possess the technical knowledge, company schematics, and rare metals necessary to assemble them, because otherwise they wouldn’t be elves. They receive most of their lists a week or three before Christmas, but they never collapse while operating forklifts, or misplace important parts, or call their labor union; they churn out products hour after sacred hour, as if fed meth through their office coffee maker. Continue reading

First Impressions: Dark Souls II

Genre: Action role-playing
Developer: FromSoftware
Publisher: Bandai Namco Games
Platform: Windows, PS3, Xbox 360,
PS4, Xbox One
Release: March 11, 2014

I’ve spent around seventy hours with this game, and so far, it’s handily one of the best I’ve ever played. The graphics are slightly outdated, as you’d expect for a 2014 title, but aside from a few bland stone textures, the artwork remains appealing. Drangleic is a broken realm, and decay runs through every lifeless wooden shack and moss-infested tower. You play as an Undead (yes, capitalized), a human branded with a cursed mark known as the Darksign. The mark grants your kind potential immortality, reviving you at magical bonfires whenever you die. But though you begin with human sentence and flesh, each death rots your body and corrodes your mind, bringing you closer to the walking corpses of old superstition. The final state is a being known as a Hollow, a predator that exists only to feed on the souls of humans, sentient Undead, and other lifeforms. Continue reading

Sleep Deprivation

I hate sleep deprivation. Of all the mundane physical sensations, it’s probably the shittiest. It’s also been a frequent companion. When I was very young, staying up late excited me, but my sleep reached an average of three hours by the first month of grade eight, which forever killed my enthusiasm. The following 2.5 years were a single never-ending day, a haze of social fears, sleep deprivation, and untreated ADHD. I started sleeping better afterward, but I was also self-medicating with caffeine pills, which caused occasional nights where I couldn’t sleep at all. I usually sleep for seven or eight hours now, but I stupidly, stupidly played Zelda II: The Adventure of Link until 1 AM this Tuesday, and I couldn’t shut my brain off afterward. I spent the next day at college with no sleep whatsoever. It’s a little better than in grade 11, since I take stimulants now, but it’s still one of the shittiest feelings in recent memory. And self-inflicted, no less.

 

Every time I have a night like that, I remember: there are people who brag about losing sleep, or think you’re lazy if you can’t get by on five hours every morning. There are times when you have to wake up early, just as there are times when you can’t get enough food or water, but it should be avoided as much as possible. It doesn’t just make you tired, it impairs you. According to the CDC,

  • An estimated 1 in 25 adult drivers (aged 18 years or older) report having fallen asleep while driving in the previous 30 days.
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drowsy driving was responsible for 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries, and 800 deaths in 2013. However, these numbers are underestimated and up to 6,000 fatal crashes each year may be caused by drowsy drivers.

Sweet dreams. Continue reading

First Impressions: Observer

Genre: First-person adventure,
survival horror
Developer: Bloober Team
Platform: Windows, PS4, Xbox One, Mac, Linux
Release: August 15, 2017

I bought this game off Steam last Friday after reading a handful of reviews. The PC version fell short of an 80 on Metacritic, but that isn’t a failure condition like when I was younger. I’ve played nine hours so far, and it seems decent, although I haven’t reached the ending yet. I’ll post a full review after I finish.

An epilepsy warning. Global war between East and West. Cybernetic implants, and a plague that makes them consume your organs. A corporation so powerful it governs a nation, dividing humans into social castes with different voting rights. Your character introduces himself before the title screen, delivering a monologue on the game’s backstory. It’s an effective introduction, although I could imagine some players accidently skipping it.

You arrive in the first gameplay scene slumped back in a car, injecting Synchrozine to stabilize your mechanical parts. Your vision blurs when you go too long without it, and after memory sequences. My supply of the drug has never run low, but it makes your powers a little more threatening. It’s a classic cyberpunk setup, but it’s refreshing to find a game where you aren’t a super soldier.
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New Year, New Blog

Hello, reader. Welcome to Amphetamine Dawn.

My screen name is Adenosine. I’m a programming student from a small city. I’ll have a degree in four or five years, if I don’t fuck up too severely. When I finish, my goal is to develop computer games and other software. This website will contain reviews, gameplay opinions, and narrative analyses for video games, many of them older or less-known. I’ll also write about technology, fiction, autism, stimulants, college, sexuality (without explicit images), and other topics of personal importance.

I’ve wanted to be a game designer for as long as I have solid memory. From ages six to thirteen, I went to a small charter school made from repurposed mobile homes, and I spent five of those years being shuffled to childcare facilities every afternoon. First my sister’s preschool, then my own former education site, then a YMCA in another city. I had difficulty matching eye contact or facial expressions, and other children were not fond of me. I drew my only excitement from the games in our living room. Descent 3, Wind Waker, Majora’s Mask, and FreeSpace 2, when we finally bought it. They were compulsive, but they brought my life color.

This is my second attempt at creating a blog. I wrote both fiction and nonfiction in high school, but I quit in my final year, because it became a source of isolation. When I walked past my eighteen year-old classmates in the hall, I heard tales of truancy, birthdays spent in spring water, cannabis-fueled oral sex, and long car rides warped by LSD. I was friends with these people, but I wasn’t invited, and I grew tired of the nights I spent typing alone in my room. Their activities were unhealthy, in some ways, but they also had freedom. Warmth for each other. Connections I’d never felt. Even sharing dinner was foreign to me, like my brain tissue to theirs.

When my friends graduated ahead of me and left, I tried to become a different creature, one fit to enter that world. I quit writing, shut up about psychology, and spent many afternoons in houses with people who vaguely resembled them. But I mostly failed, and when I didn’t, I sometimes wished I had.

I also grew embarrassed by how many Internet arguments I’d joined. Before I wrote this post, I considered scrapping Adenosine for some other handle. But it’s a part of me, good or bad.

In any case, I’m back now. Because of my classes, I’ve been forced to write numerous essays in academic style—Times New Roman font, MLA format, citations in every paragraph. Compared to that, blogging is almost easy. Much of my work is shaped by college, and I want an environment I have control over, where I can share what I’ve found. Dungeon Crawl. System Shock 2. Both FreeSpace games. Two-dimensional flash RPGs from Kongregate.

I also want to share some of my darker experiences. Many blogs about autism—or culture, or homosexuality, or other human variations—strike me as quite bitter. When others fear you, some venom is inevitable. And likely valid. But humans are more likely to listen if you don’t push them away.

I hope I can bridge the gap, in a small way.