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Oh that's not good

I was about to post this story on the Choking Hazard Podcast in the comment section, but it is so dear to my heart that I figured I would post it on my own web page first, just as proof of originality and ownership. This was posted May 1, 2020, but happened some 25 years earlier.

Pittston, PA. Summer of 1995.

I was working as a contract design engineer at Techneglas. The plant made TV screens—twenty two million screens a year. Almost every TV in the store had a screen made in Pittston.

The plant was massive. Over a third of a mile long, it included three massive furnaces several stories high to melt raw and recycled materials into glass. These only lasted seven years because the bricks were part of the glass formula. Eventually the molten glass would wear through the walls, and before that happened, the furnace needed to be torn down and rebuild. And while you're doing that, you might as well rebuild everything.

In the summer of '95 I was working night shift on the “B” shop rebuild. We were in the tear down mode, and I was point out some equipment to a coworker that had to be removed by morning. In mid sentence I stopped what I was saying, and said “Oh that's not good”

About thirty or so feet in front of us was a control room. As near as I could tell, the Death Star had just exploded in it.

Blue sparks poured from every crevice around the door. All the lighting in “B” and “A” shops went out and were replaced by emergency lights. Smoke followed the sparks.

We ran as fast as we could, and I got to the door first. I remember thinking I was too young to see what I was about to see. I expected carnage...death. But I took deep breath and ripped open the door.

What greeted me was a scene out of a Roadrunner cartoon.

Two electricians were standing in front of a smoking electrical disconnect. Their shirts were smoking. They were both standing with their jaws dropped. Not moving at all.

I grabbed the closest one by the arm and pulled him out of the smoke. My coworker grabbed the other one. I immediately asked, “What the F*** did you do?”

In retrospect, this was not a particularly sensitive first question. “Are you all right?” would have been better. But their arms were all in the right place, and I was young.

The second electrician explained. The first electrician—the one I had pulled out—had just had an argument with the shop steward, as he was the union rep and they had come to some disagreement.

He was so annoyed at whatever was going on, he opened a three phase, 480 volt electrical disconnect, and proceeded to disconnect one of the legs.

He said the words, “You know I never checked to see if that was...” and before he could say “live” the wire touched the case.

You could see where it touched the case, because the steel was melted.

If that wasn't enough of a hint, there were three black triangles burned into the wall, that looked just like the blaster marks from the first battle in the original star wars.

The lugs in the disconnect had all snapped off from the violence of the electromagnetic cataclysm that had happened in that box.

When we found and woke up the plant night shift electrician (who was totally unmoved by the whole thing, except for the fact that we had disturbed his nap) we ended up walking around the plant for I forget how long finding blown breakers. Eventually we had to go to the main transformers, where the 1000 amp lightning arresters were tripped.

The power outage (or power cut , if that is the British way of putting it) shut down three production lines as well as all the power in the area where the rebuild was happening.

But before that, after about 10 minutes after the explosion, the electrician who had forgotten to take the electrical power tester out of his top pocket before unleashing a potentially deadly blast of electricity, finally said something.

“OK...I can see now.”

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Last Updated (Friday, 01 May 2020 15:50)


Why is Fallout 76 SO Bad? First the Conspiracy Theory, Then the Likely Truth

I think we can all agree that Fallout 76 is not what we hoped a Fallout game to be. We expected some bugs. Bethesda games always have bugs. But they always have bugs because they are so vast in scope and content that finding every problem would be an impossibility. The games themselves are usually so charming we just don't care.

'76 is different. It's genuinely difficult to enjoy. At least that's my experience with it. Your mileage may vary.

I have a neat little conspiracy theory as to why this might be. It has no basis in reality, but we can have fun with it.

There's company called Providence Equity Partners that has invested nearly a half billion dollars in ZeniMax, the company that owns Bethesda Software.

This started back in 2007. So we have a dozen or so years where Bethesda has probably been pressed harder and harder for more and more profits. They're making incredible games, and almost certainly a bunch of money, but who knows what is considered enough.

So some group of people at Bethesda hatch a plan. “Let's promise everyone the world with the next Fallout game, and then lose so much money that P.E.P. divests themselves from us. Then we'll be our own masters again and can go back to making very good if very buggy games.”

And so Bethesda stacks disaster upon disaster. They launch a barley functioning game with engaging content. They give out crappy bags. They delay actual good content and launch a premium update that is even more broken than the game itself.

Oh and the plastic rum bottles; we can't forget the plastic rum bottles.

At this point, it almost looks like they're hoping to be fired so they can start up their own game company, free from the pressures they are currently under. It's hard to imagine this level of failure isn't deliberate.

I'm kidding, of course. It's always easier to assume sabotage when the reality is so much worse. I'm guessing the pressure from P.E.P. is a factor in the disaster we call Fallout 76, but I've no proof of that. Perhaps they're a bunch of easy going folks who just loved the same games we loved and wanted to be part of that.

Plus Mel Brooks has already taught us what happens when you try to produce a flop.

I wonder if the reality is, nothing has changed at Bethesda. They're quality control was always spotty, but it was enough for older games that weren't as complicated. Now they've got to step up their game for something as big as '76, and they don't know how. What was good enough just isn't now.

The conspiracy theory is more fun, but the truth is probably much more mundane. Isn't that how it always goes?

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Last Updated (Sunday, 27 October 2019 11:56)


Hey,Long Time No See!

It's been a while since I've posted an update. I've really been focused on the YouTube Channel, in a desperate pursuit to get the thousand subscribers I need to get my monitization back. So far I'm at 609, and I'm very thankful to everyone who has subscribed.

I am, however, very cognizant that I have over a thousand videos that direct people to this website, and I haven't done anything with it in forever. It's time for a shift in effort.

Right now I've got Fallout 4 videos scheduled once a week—on Fallout Fridays—until March 2020. I've got Win On Sunday (racing videos), TF2 Tuesday, and Spaced Out Saturdays (a mix of space games) scheduled through mid December or Early January.

I've got my CEO in pajamas (GTA videos) scheduled on Mondays through Veteran's day, but I've got enough ready to upload to get me to May, so we should be good there.

The practical upshot is, I can take a break from gaming and you won't be able to tell as far as YouTube is concerned.

I do miss writing, both in the short form of blog posts and the book that I've pretty much let languish since the editor told me it was great, but I had to change it from 3rd person viewpoint to 1st. (Oh Issac Asmiov, you've led me astray.)

So my plan is to get more posts up here, and on my other blogs at TalesOfTheBlackKnight.com and ShutaMultimedia.com.

I don't have a regular schedule planned for this—which is what you should do with a blog—but I will try to post whenever I have something interesting or useful to say.

And on that note, I'm going to get started on the next post, which I think meets both those criterion.

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Last Updated (Sunday, 27 October 2019 11:12)

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