In sickness and in health

Categories:Shadow of a Soul:Chapter I

Oh boy, it’s been a weird couple of weeks.

Shortly after my last post, I started my long overdue vacation. No emails, no internet, just cuddling up with a lot of novels for two weeks.

I’ve been reading a lot of novels because I’m more or less done with reading short horror stories. I think I’ve read 60 or 70 percent of the short horror story anthologies on the market and, according to their Amazon reviews, the remainder suck even worse than the ones I’ve read.

It’s a matter of personal taste but I feel like 80% of the short stories written after the 1950s are horrible. I’m a big fan of everything written from the 1880s to the 1930s. Those stories have great atmosphere, characterization and the kind of interesting plots that, in my opinion, contemporary stories lack most of the time.

Older stories are much more succinct when it comes to prose. The authors of those stories were clearly masters of their craft. In just a few words or sentences, they express the moods, thoughts and feelings of the characters, and the events of the story, to much greater effect than today’s authors with their wordy, almost deluded, writing.

I’ll talk more about the horror novels I read on my vacation at the end of this post. If you’re interested in reading horror novels check it out.

As my vacation neared its end, I started packing my things and getting ready to leave my parents summer home because I didn’t want to spend another cold winter shivering while working. Preparing all my food myself, living alone at the top of a tiny mountain all alone, experiencing occasional 16 -hour blackouts and paying $100 for 16GB 3G internet connection also affected my decision.

Amidst all the chaos caused by trying to box up shit loads of stuff(including 10 computers) I got sick. It wasn’t that bad at first but I got really tired from lifting/carrying stuff and then making the 8-9 hour drive; so I was pretty fucked up by the time I got back to Istanbul. As a result, I spent the next 10 days trying to get back on my feet. It was bad, but I caught up on a lot of TV shows that I’d missed this season. On a side note, I think the quality of the writing of many TV shows far surpasses that of feature films. A single episode of Dexter, Good Wife(seriously, nobody is watching this show but it’s awesome), and lately Walking Dead, gets me 10 times more excited than the $200 million blockbuster(*cough*Battleshit(p)*cough*).

Anyway, I decided to do something different for the first time in my life and got myself a tiny office(15 minutes’ drive from home). I’ve been working from home all these years; Never ever worked in any sort of office, punching in and punching out. This is new ground for me, and for the past couple of days I’ve been enjoying myself. However, I didn’t enjoy setting this place up. Problems with the phone and internet connection took almost two weeks to resolve. Nevertheless, I find the overall experience pleasing. It’s nice to have a physical separation from your workplace.

For reasons too numerous to mention, I was checking all my cell phone email from the past month. I had setup a Hotmail address and arranged for all my emails to be forwarded there. 8-9 days ago I got an email accusing me of running a scam site and threatening to tell the whole world of my fraudulent ways if I didn’t refund a pre-order. I was like, WTF! Turns out, Hotmail’s anti-spam filter is an overly excited piece of software. When I looked into the junk folder I found that there were 30 emails, 20 of them legit. After two very polite emails asking for a refund, this customer got rightfully angry and fired a third one which Hotmail, in its wisdom, thankfully decided not to block. Moral of the story: Hotmail’s spam filter sucks. At least for me. Gmail’s spam filter is much better(I’m sure most of you are saying DUH! at this point).

I’ve had a grand total of two refund requests – including the customer above – which I think is nice.

Ivy Generator 2012, my tiny contribution to the 3d community, was downloaded by 4000+ people and got very positive reactions from various 3d community forums. No bugs reported, which is nice, considering how tricky multi-core programming can be.

I’m working on another application in my spare time. This one’s for the gaming community. I’ve completed quite a bit of it but haven’t really glued all the parts together yet. It addresses a very specific problem that I’ve had playing various multiplayer games. It probably won’t be ready for another 3 months because I’m also working weekends(as usual) to catch up on time I lost while sick. Hopefully, some people will find it useful. No details yet as to what it is.

The thing I absolutely love about getting back to civilization? Not having to cook my own meals! It definitely saves a huge amount of time/energy for me. Nothing sucks more than getting hungry after working 4-5 hours straight only to find that the fridge is empty and you have to cook something. Not anymore. Yay! Ordering out rules.

On the game side, I’m testing to see if baking culling(occlusion, frustum, back-face and portal) data is worth the extra hassle on a forest scene that I have which, I suspect, contains way too many polygons. If you’re curious about occlusion culling – or graphics programming in general – you can read about it at this link.

I was going to write a lot more but this post is already at 1000+ words. So here are a few reviews of some of the books I read during my vacation.

Carrion Comfort by Dan Simmons – The book centers around a small group of “mind vampires” who can subjugate other people to their wills, read their minds, and experience through their senses.

I read about 450+ pages of the 700 page book then gave up. Boring characters and boring events make for a boring novel. It would have been more interesting if Dan Simmons had edited the book down to 350 pages. Not recommended.

The Bad Place by Dean Koontz – I honestly don’t know what this book’s about. The Amazon page says: Frank Pollard is afraid to fall asleep. Every morning when he awakes, he discovers something strange–like blood on his hands–a bizarre mystery that tortures his soul. Two investigators have been hired to follow the haunted man. But only one person–a young man with Down’s Syndrome–can imagine where their journeys might end. That terrible place from which no one ever returns..

Didn’t quite make it there either. Gave up on page 50. This book is plain bad; One of the worst I’ve read actually. Stay away from this book. Definitely not recommended.

Summer of Night by Dan Simmons – It’s the summer of 1960 and in the small town of Elm Haven, Illinois, five twelve-year-old boys are forging the powerful bonds that a lifetime of change will not break. From sunset bike rides to shaded hiding places in the woods, the boys’ days are marked by all of the secrets and silences of an idyllic middle-childhood. But amid the sundrenched cornfields their loyalty will be pitilessly tested. When a long-silent bell peals in the middle of the night, the townsfolk know it marks the end of their carefree days…

This was a good read. Very interesting and creepy in places. No willpower used while reading. But honestly didn’t like the ending very much. Still recommended.

The Séance by John Harwood – Wraxford Hall, a decaying mansion in the English countryside, has a sinister reputation. Once, a family disappeared there. And now Constance Langton has inherited this dark place as well as the mysteries surrounding it.

As I’ve said 100 times before, I’m a sucker for Victorian ghost stories. This was a great little book. Even the cover is great! The author captured the tone of those Victorian era stories 100%. Recommended.

Ghost Story by Peter Straub – For four aging men in the terror-stricken town of Milburn, New York, an act inadvertently carried out in their youth has come back to haunt them. Now they are about to learn what happens to those who believe they can bury the past — and get away with murder.

Although I had great expectations for this book, it ultimately failed to deliver on every count. 1 or 2 characters are mildly interesting. Others are just plain boring. Very predictable. Waste of time. Not recommended.

Phantoms by Dean Koontz – They found the town silent, apparently abandoned. Then they found the first body strangely swollen and still warm. One hundred fifty were dead, 350 missing…

This was my first Koontz book. I read this book before the awful The Bad Place. I really, really liked this book. Why? Because this one has what most books, or even TV shows, don’t have: characters that actually talk to each other! 90% of all the fiction characters are über annoying like this:

Oh my god! I think I saw a 2 -meter -long monster with razor sharp claws, pointy teeth and black eyes smirking at me from the shadows. I’d better keep this to myself and not tell anyone!! I don’t want them to think that I’m insane after all. Yes, I should probably keep this to myself, unless of course 5 people from our group disappear. Then I’ll tell everyone that I saw a big ugly monster.

Not a second before that…

No such thing in this book. Highly recommended.

I’ve read a LOT of books over the past 15 years, and somewhere along the way I’ve abandoned the attitude of reading books from cover-to-cover. Life is short. There is no point in using willpower to read a work of fiction. It’s supposed to be entertainment after all, not torture.

4 Responses to In sickness and in health

  1. Reply Tim says:

    I find older stories are better because they focus on connecting with the readers and their real fears/over-exaggerations while newer stories tend to try and create over the top situations that no one can relate to.

    And you tried to use Hotmail for handling email? Anything Micro$oft doesn’t work the first… 10 or so times (With the exception of Security Essentials, something they did right). As someone who spends a lot of time programming web based stuff I know this first hand.
    This is just me, but when checking email on a site I always have them come into Thunderbird. I don’t like having a middle man between site mail and me in case something gets lost in the process.
    Spam filters can be avoided easily though by setting up a custom filter. I never had a problem with Gmail in that regard.

    Good to hear from you.

  2. Reply Luis says:

    Good to hear your alive and kicking lol hope everything with the game is going well, not many people out there doing what your doing alone. Keep it up!!!

  3. Reply Nikolas says:

    Take your time man. Enjoy those stories! I like reading them at night, alone, with a flashlight as my only light source, really build atmosphere. :)

  4. Reply Ikki says:

    Nice to have you backish

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