Last night, looking for something to occupy my restless mind, I turned on my old Mac Color Classic, Pandora, for the first time in ages. I got her in the summer of 1993, a few months after finishing The Five of Cups and just before I began The Merewife. Last year, when we moved from Kirkwood, she got jostled and developed a monitor problem, which comes and goes. If you let her warm up, she usually runs just fine. Last night, I switched her on and spent a couple of very calming hours playing SimEarth: The Living Planet. Once upon a time, SimEarth was pretty much the only game I played, and I played it a lot. For those not in the know, it was released by Maxis in 1990, shortly after the success of the original SimCity. It prefaced the release of a whole wave of sims — SimCity 2000, SimAnt, SimLife, SimIsland, SimTower, etc. Ultimately, The Sims came along, and its success eclipsed most all the sims that came before it (proving that most people have very little interest in anything but, well, people). Anyway, I got SimEarth in 1993 and played it constantly until 1996 or so. After that, as I began to get into PlayStation, I played it less and less. My last game before last night was dated September 2000, I believe. Based in part on James Lovelock's The Ages of Gaia (1988), SimEarth allows you to create a planet and follow it from its infancy as a molten ball, blasted by meteors, through billions of years of time, to the eventual evolution of life, then the evolution of intelligent life, then the evolution of technology, and, if you play long enough and are lucky, the evolution of a lifeform that achieves a level of tech that allows it to venture into the stars. At that point, the game returns you to an evolutionary timescale. In theory, any game of SimEarth is infinite. And once the sim is running, you must constantly monitor and adjust an enormous number of environmental factors. How much CO2 is present? What's the rate of core formation? What about atmospheric nitrogen? Should I increase the cloud albedo? What about reproduction rates? Mutation rates? The biosphere's tolerance for solar radiation? And on and on and on. It's a wonderful tool for teaching the interconnectedness of Nature, and it's a shame that it wasn't more popular. I have a diskette labeled "CaitWorlds" which contains hundreds of planets I created over the years. Some of them never evolved intelligent life (which may evolve from just about anything — cephalopods, cetaceans, primates, dinosaurs, etc.). Some of them are balls of ice. Some are so hot and dry only a few microbes exist, but they were great for watching plate tectonics in action, or for cometary impacts. SimEarth also allows you to attempt to terraform Mars and Venus. In short, it just frelling rocks. It is the perfect biology/astronomy/geology geek game.
By now, most or all subscribers to Sirenia Digest will have received an e-mail from Spooky letting them know that I'm running dreadfully late with Number Two. My sincere, sincere apologies. You'll have it as soon as I can get it finished, I promise, and I'll try not to get this behind ever again. It wouldn't have happened if "Bainbridge" had only gone to 10K words instead of plunging on ahead to 16K. Also, my congratulations and thanks to the winner of letter X of Frog Toes and Tentacles. We'll begin the letter Z auction just as soon as Spooky's finished the letter Z cozy.
Er...that's probably it for today. At least for now. Time to make the doughnuts. Time to pimp the platypus. Time to smack my head against the desk until it bleeds words.