Here are a couple samples of "Cause and Effect," a Santa Fe New Mexican column on health and science.
May 9, 2009
The Santa Fe New Mexican
Hello. My name is Dwarfchewer, and I am a pandemic disease survivor.
Well, a digital pandemic disease survivor, anyway.
Back in the dark days of September 2005, I witnessed firsthand the "Corrupted Blood" plague as it swept through the World of Warcraft online video game, leaving cities wiped out and players hiding in fear for their virtual lives.
Other than being frustrated and annoyed, most of us gamers didn't think all that much of it at the time, but it turns out that understanding the digital plague could help scientists track a real outbreak.
Using a game to look at how a modern disease like swine flu might spread sounds a bit silly on the surface -- but scientists have already written a few papers about it, including one in The Lancet back in 2007, because behavior of people in the game can hint at how real people might act in a pandemic.
The Warcraft outbreak started as a damaging disease that was, supposedly, aimed at hurting only high-level players. It was spread by a monster called "Hakkar the Soulflayer" in a dungeon where only the strongest characters could survive.
But because those players traveled easily through the game, from town to town and city to city, and because the disease was highly contagious, something happened that the creators of Warcraft did not intend.
The plague spread to lower level characters all over the virtual world, and it killed millions.
Soon after, developers tried to set up quarantine zones to stop it, but until they took more drastic action, the outbreak continued to spread.
And just like in a real outbreak, people had very different reactions to the growing threat.
Some, upon hearing about the
possibility of continuous virtual death, just plain left their computers off for the few days that the plague ravaged the world -- sort of like the gamer version of hiding in a well-equipped bunker.
Others logged on and promptly tried to escape to less populated areas, so they could still play despite the infection risk. In the process, though, they sometimes brought the plague with them.
Some tried to help and heal infected players so they could keep playing, especially if they played in the same family, like groups called guilds.
I remember logging on to my healer, a low-level character, at that time to help a guild member out. I got a heal off on him, got about two off on me, and then died from the exposure.
Higher level healers ended up for the most part just prolonging the suffering so that infected gamers would spread the disease to even more characters before they died.
And then of course, there was the 14-year-old contingent -- the kids who purposefully got their high-level characters infected and then ran around the virtual world, trying to infect everybody they could.
What's interesting about all of this is that in computer models of disasters or disease outbreaks, like those at Los Alamos National Laboratory, programmers try to get their digital people to react in the same way that real people do.
In the game, though, the digital people were all actually played by real people, which in some ways can point to behavior we could expect in a pandemic.
Except, I hope, for the 14-year-old contingent. Unless you exchange them for bitter, dying and slightly unbalanced people who might actually try to infect others in a real pandemic.
In another flashback to computer phenomena of the past, I also recently read that scientists are looking at data from the "Where's George" Web site, www.wheresgeorge.com, to see how human-to-human transmission might work in a pandemic.
That site, which has been around for about 10 years, lets people enter serial numbers for dollar bills, and then tracks those bills around the globe.
Scientists have been looking at that tracking information to see how human contact might send a disease through various communities -- in much the same way that a dollar might move from store to store in a city, eventually perhaps moving on to another place or town when somebody travels.
It's odd, yet fascinating, that the digital world could end up being a more accurate model for disease outcomes than some of the best purely mathematical ones. But then again, people have always been more unpredictable than any purely scientific model can comprehend.
And so far, at least, swine flu hasn't been nearly as dangerous as the plague that blasted through Warcraft. With a little luck, it will stay that way, but if not, it's nice to have some more detailed notions about what people would actually do -- no matter where the information comes from.
One thing's for sure -- if swine flu does mutate and become more deadly this fall, health officials won't be able to fix it the way Warcraft's developers did.
Because in the end, the developers just shut down all the servers, removed the disease and rebooted. Problem solved.
But at least with some months to develop a strategy, the science and health communities have a little time to learn lessons from other environments, and perhaps use that to reduce the damage.
As we say in the gaming world -- woot!
Sue Vorenberg has been a gamer since the 1970s, and loves the idea that games have many more benefits than most people think. Contact her at email@example.com.
LOOKING OUT FOR N.M.'S SCIENTIFIC TREASURES
Snowy River Cave, trackways get protection under recently passed legislation
April 11, 2009
The Santa Fe New Mexican
Geologic treasure is rarely, if ever, marked with a great big X to make it easy for scientists to find.
Typically it's hiding deep underground, or out in the hot desert in places that are often overlooked.
And when geologists strike scientific gold, it doesn't really look like some sort of shimmering pirate bounty. It's more on the order of remnants of animals that died millions of years ago, or smelly surfaces covered with bacteria deep in a remote cave.
Such sights and smells might not sound like something the
public should care about, but when it comes to understanding our planet and ourselves, they
are vitally important.
And quietly, a few weeks ago, through the efforts of two New Mexico senators, the federal government showed that it agrees.
Retired Sen. Pete Domenici, an Albuquerque Republican, and Sen. Jeff Bingaman, a Silver City Democrat, worked hard over several years to create and pass legislation that has designated two new protected scientific gold mines in the Land of Enchantment.
Those sites are the Prehistoric Trackways National Monument, home to the world's most pristine fossil tracks that date back nearly 300 million years, and Fort Stanton-Snowy River Cave National Conservation Area, which houses the longest continuous underground cave formation in the world.
Neither area will have the kind of tourist draw or funding that a place like Carlsbad Caverns has -- in fact, the general public won't be able to visit the Snowy River Formation at all. But the knowledge scientists can gain from both sites now that they're protected is immense.
And those scientists will share the knowledge they gain with the public and the rest of the world.
"The tracks at the Prehistoric Trackways National Monument rewrote scientific understanding of Permian footprints, " said Spencer Lucas, paleontology curator at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. "They represent an instant in time almost 300 million years ago, and you can look at it and understand how animals back then were behaving."
The Prehistoric Trackways National Monument is in the Robledo Mountains near Las Cruces. Fossil tracks from amphibians, insects, jellyfish and other creatures found there date back about 280 million years, to a time before the dinosaurs, when small animals roamed on an ancient seashore in Southern New Mexico.
"Everybody knows the dimetrodon, a sail-backed animal from the Permian, " Lucas said. "People think it was a dinosaur, but it wasn't. It's older. It was like the T. rex of the Permian period."
The interesting thing about animal tracks, as opposed to bones or bodies, is that they can tell you how an animal lived and what its life was like, Lucas said.
Understanding that time can give us a better understanding of our own, of how extinctions work and how new species evolve, Lucas said.
"Acre for acre, this is one of the best fossil records on the planet, " Lucas said. "The number, the quality, the diversity is amazing, and we're still finding new things. Scientists have come from all over the world to study them."
With the city of Las Cruces' rapid growth, there was concern that the site would be destroyed or damaged. The legislation protects the area and will create a museum or exhibits in Las Cruces where the public can learn more about the finds there.
The public will also be able to visit the site, which will possibly include walking trails and signs, said Pat Hester, regional paleontologist for the Bureau of Land Management, which will oversee the monument and the Snowy River National Conservation Area.
"Congress has protected those areas, so the next step is for BLM to come up with a land use and management plan for both of them, " Hester said.
BLM should get extra funding to help manage both sites, said Jude McCartin, a spokeswoman for Bingaman.
The Snowy River Formation is much harder to get to -- and much more fragile, which is why the public won't be allowed to physically visit it, said Penny Boston, associate professor of cave and karst science at New Mexico Tech and an expert on the site.
Snowy River is the longest continuous cave formation yet found. It's made of calcite that likely trickled through the ground over thousands of years -- and it's still growing.
The formation looks like a giant white river stretching for miles in a deep remote part of Fort Stanton Cave.
Unique microorganisms and bacteria have been found in it, often associated with dark crusty areas along its sides.
"It's a live system way down in there, " Boston said. "It's an amazing subsurface habitat for endangered species."
Some of the tiniest cave species could make a big medical splash for humans in the future. Microorganisms emit antibiotics as a way of killing off competition for scarce resources inside caves. Some of those antibiotics could cure a host of diseases, maybe even cancer one day, Boston said.
"Caves are a repository for such biodiversity, and this is a magnificent and unprecedented opportunity to protect a resource that is truly unique in the world, " Boston said.
The legislation protects the entire water basin around the cave, which is critical because the systems are all interlinked, Boston said.
"This can teach us about New Mexico's hydrologic history, " Boston said. "The cave is in an arid environment, but water flows through it. Looking at it can help us understand the region's past, and help us decide how to manage it properly in the future."
While the public can't go down in the cave, scientists such as Boston are hoping to find other ways to make the site accessible.
Part of that will be an information portal on the Web, launched late this year or early next year, as a subsection of the cave and karst Web site, www.karstportal.com.
There's also been some talk of adding video feeds in the dark cave, so digital visitors can see what all the fuss is about.
"We're hoping we can broadcast over Cave-Cam, " Boston said. "We're also hoping to put up some displays on our findings in Carlsbad."
Protecting sites like these two is a great idea -- and a good precedent to set considering all the geologic riches in New Mexico.
And even though they might not be the most well-known of national monuments, protecting them is something he's proud of, Bingaman said.
"Snowy River provides an extremely rare ecosystem from which scientists can do important research. The trackways provide a glimpse into our ancient past. I am very glad we were able to protect these sites, which deserve special attention, " Bingaman said.
Sue Vorenberg loves cool rocks, geology and all things science. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are a few samples of "Digital Toybox," an Albuquerque Tribune column on video games.
Forget sunshine, daiquiris; give me my virtual voyage
Jan. 12, 2007
Why waste valuable dollars visiting Orlando, San Diego or even my beautiful homeland of Boston? When I go on vacation next week, I’m going to an entirely different world. The World of Warcraft, that is. OK, OK, it’s true.
I have entered a truly new realm of geekdom by taking a five-day vacation inside a video game, but I have my reasons. Primary among them, Warcraft will change dramatically on Jan. 16. That’s when the expansion pack “The Burning Crusade” comes out. With it comes new lands to explore, new and strange critters to kill and a chance to transform into an entirely different race.
But the real reason is, lets face it, at $39.99 for the pack plus a $15 a month subscription fee, the expanding world offers a vacation that even a reporter can afford.
And I’m broke as hell after Christmas.
Besides, Warcraft’s detailed, beautiful graphics offer me a host of places to hang out. For instance, I plan to do a little fishing on the beach next to the jungles of Stranglethorn Vale, watch the sunset over the burned, brutal landscape of the new continent of Outland, and maybe, just maybe, create a little blood elf paladin that I can use to annoy the most evil group of players — the Alliance.
Granted there is no “real” sunshine or fishing in Warcraft, and no nice waiters to bring me fruity drinks with umbrellas, but I’ll get by. The sun burns my pasty gamer skin anyway, and I can make my own fruity drinks at a lot less than $5 a pop. And beer’s more my thing when I hang out with the select few gamers in my guild sick enough to join me on this little trip inside the computer.
We all hope to level up to 70 — the game’s new maximum — as quickly as possible so we can explore new and scary dungeons that will come with the pack.
This sounds like a relaxing trip, with very little drama or arguments, to me. And if I didn’t take the time off, I’d be twitching here in my seat each day, watching the clock, waiting to go home so I could dweeb out until 2 a.m. Now I don’t have to wait — I can dweeb out until 4 a.m., sleep a few hours, and get right back to it for five glorious days. My only major worry is that with the expansion will come a crash fest, with servers dropping and lots of lag as Blizzard, the creator of Warcraft, figures out how to make everything run smoothly.
It’s a common complaint even when the game patches regularly on what some WOW-regulars call “black Tuesdays.” Hopefully, though, the lag will be small and I’ll quickly be able to get down to the exploring and killing.
Bring on the fun. Some of my co-workers say this sort of vacation is a waste of my valuable time off. Or they question my sanity — though that’s not a new thing.
Personally, I think they’re just jealous that they didn’t think of it first.
I’m gonna be the first kid on my block to have the nastiest, most amped-up, hardcore weapons and armor — whatever the heck they end up being.
My über frost-mage awaits.
Sue Vorenberg sometimes tries to blast her editors with frost bolts while in the newsroom, but so far, her powerful blue missiles haven’t done any damage. If you know how to make them work in the real world, contact her at email@example.com or at 823-3678.
Unique friendships form through playing online
Feb. 17, 2007
Looking down from my screen after disposing of a dimetrodon with a frozen missile of death, I noticed something about my friends in “World of Warcraft.”
My online buddies — grouped together in an informal social structure called a guild — aren’t just a bunch of kids playing a video game.
We’re a pair of generations, X and Y, the post-baby boom that has grown up with computer games as part of the fabric of our daily lives. And those games have become a big part of our social network.
Many of us are in our 20s and 30s. A couple in our 40s. And quite a few teenagers.
But despite varied ages, we have a lot in common. We all share a set of oddball pop culture references.
And we’re all quite comfortable living in a digital, paperless world where we strategize together, talk to each other and spur each other on as we kill harder and harder foes.
The younger ones even pick up some of the older gamers’ humor.
One day, a group of us all came on at the same time, and many, many hellos were being bandied about. At that, one of our teens piped in with, “Hello, John Boy.”
This was followed by one 30-something saying: “No. Not the Waltons!”
Any quote from obscure and not-so-obscure science fiction movies is also fair game.
The humor is often shared by the creators of “Warcraft,” in items they make such as “The 1 Ring” — a ring that gives a point to each of a players stats, with a caveat on it that says “not quite as good as the 2 Ring.”
This, of course, being a play on the dangerously powerful One Ring in J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings.”
Those in my guild, who have never met in person, talk to each other every night on a system called Ventrilo. We also type messages to the group inside the game.
We have a Web site to post messages and a network of MySpace sites where we show pictures and e-mail each other during the day.
The group’s members come from all over the world. We have folks in Hong Kong, Australia, Israel, Canada and across the United States.
We talk about politics (albeit carefully), world news, gaming trends and, of course, how to take down the high level monsters that hang around in this fantasy world we play in.
In some ways, “Warcraft” is a faster news system than some of the news services out there.
Only for certain topics, however.
For instance, I think gamers on “Warcraft” were some of the first to find out about the deaths of Steve Irwin and Anna Nicole Smith. The war in Iraq? That’s a bit too heavy for us.
But if you watch our group carefully, you can also see players with unique skills emerge and develop. Skills that could be useful in real life and in more serious situations. I’ve noticed, for instance, some of my fellow guild members have emerged as natural leaders. They disperse the strategy, tell people what roles to play and make sure the action moves along. One of our best leaders is an elementary school janitor in real life. Another is a computer programmer. A third is a 20-year-old college student.
In a disaster, I’d rather have these guys around than some cryptic government official. That’s for sure.
Beyond that, there’s a group of strategizers, looking at varying ways to destroy monsters or survive a dungeon.
Our best strategizer is a computer programmer. Another is a 19-year-old in Australia who can rattle off tactics for bosses in dungeons you haven’t even heard of yet. And of course, there are the jokers — who try to make sure everybody has a good time, don’t take life too seriously and realize they are playing a game. That’s my job, although there’s a group of 20-something college kids who are equally good at it. As is our member who is a singer for Disney in Hong Kong.
Our social network probably seems alien to the baby boomer and older generations that came before us. It seems weird that so much social activity could come through a game.
It’s a trend, however, that I think will continue to grow and evolve as technology continues to transform our world.
And I think as the first group of us who have grown up as gamers start to move into leadership roles in society, you’ll see the world finding more ways to put these often scoffed-at skills to use. It will be interesting to see how a bunch of folks who are now spending their time discussing how to kill a 50-foot-tall parrot monster will change the world.
But I think the open-minded, multicultural, highly-skilled bunch can only change it for the better.
Vorenberg has been a gamer since “Pong” came out in 1974.
Get a Wii bit active with Nintendo’s new console
Dec. 1, 2006
Believe it or not, most gamers really would like to be as fit and active as their in-game characters. It’s just that exercise — and the aptly-named “work” out — has never been quite as much fun as hanging out on the couch and button-bashing virtual monsters with your game controller. But it seems that’s about to change. Enter the Wii, and the merger of two strange — but not necessarily opposite — worlds.
The new Nintendo gaming console is something completely different from the systems of the past. It uses a motion-sensing controller that lets gamers mimic real-life actions in games like tennis, bowling or basketball.
And that means they’re getting off the couch and leaping around the TV-room floor.
It’s a phenomenon that oddly mimics exercise, except — gasp — gamers say it’s fun.
All over the Internet, the formerly couch-bound are happily complaining that the system gives them sore muscles and something called “Wii elbow.”
And they’re doing it side by side with what gamers do best — they’re dissing on each other about it.
Just have a look at digg.com, or do a Google search on “Wii Workout” and you’ll see the buzz.
One of my favorites, by “EtherGnat,” reads: “After I get my big Wii muscles I’m going to come kick your weak button-mashing (butt).”
“Dimplemonkey” has this to say of those with aches and pains:
“This is what happens when a whole generation of gamers are forced to perform physical activity. Suck it up, take an Advil and quit being such a Nancy!”
And “AAjax,” chimed in with this gem:
“Now we just have to invent a video game that makes people go outside.”
There’s another advantage to Wii-exercise. You can mimic the actions of playing a sport without needing teammates to play with you. You can shoot hoops or go bowling, alone, without anybody watching you.
That’s great news for those of us who were frightened away from sports at an early age after a traumatic dodge ball experience. Ahem, but we won’t go into that.
Of course, concerns about repetitive stress injuries are also cropping up next to the goodnatured complaining. As well as gamer fears of the ubiquitous American lawsuit.
As “Oogee” said:
“Just wait. In a few days, some thirty-something tub-tub is going to collapse face down into a near empty bowl of chips and die of a heart attack and Wii will be blamed.” But “Mbthompson” has his own theory about why that won’t happen:
“I wouldn’t be too worried about it. They’re all playing WOW (World of Warcraft). Don’t you watch South Park?”
Wait a minute — I resemble that remark.
Still, so far, gamers are leaping to protect the beloved new system.
As “Kevin108” says:
“If you’re in such bad shape you can’t even play video games, that’s really sad.”
Gamers do need to temper their old die-hard habits with the new system. Obviously a 10-hour marathon gaming session could lead to some repetitive-stress pain. But there’s a time-tested remedy for that — every 45 minutes be sure to take a Jolt Cola and Twinkie break and you’ll be fine. Now I think I need to get my “thirty-something tub-tub” rear end out of my WOW-playing chair and try it. Who wants to be a button-masher when there’s a whole virtual world of exercise to explore?
Vorenberg is eager to leap around her living room floor while playing on a Wii system — so long as nobody is watching. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let’s not panic over delayed software release
Nov. 3, 2006
Keep your keyboard fingers held high, my fellow World of Warcraft addicts.
According to a completely unscientific poll I conducted in The Tribune newsroom using a Magic 8 Ball, “it is decidedly so” that Blizzard will release “The Burning Crusade” expansion pack no later than late January. Just to be sure, though, I asked the 8 Ball if this outcome was guaranteed. Crackpot science is, after all, about producing repeatable results. “Absolutely,” was its answer.
If it weren’t expressed digitally in Web commentary, the gaming community’s collective screams of horror when Blizz delayed the expansion pack release from late November to January would have created more hearing damage to the public than was caused by that AC/DC concert I went to in 1990.
True, delayed software releases are common — especially in the gaming world. But delaying a release sought after by a bunch of immature, jittery Warcrack addicts is just plain cruel.
And there’s no guarantee it won’t be delayed further — well, except for the soothing words of my Magic 8 Ball.
All we can do in the meantime is pull our hair out as we wait for the game’s new races, extended player versus player options, areas to explore, professions, dungeons and a bazillion other things I’m sure I’m leaving out. Cry. Ouch. But rather than wallowing in self pity, I thought I’d supply my compatriots with some utterly useless Web pages to surf — all having to do with, of course, cats.
What do cats have to do with Warcraft? Not much.
Don’t worry. Making up connections is as easy as writing a sociology paper in college. I’ll start off with a site designed to soothe those jonesing for new Warcraft player versus player options: kittenwar.com.
On this site, you upload a picture of your kitten and set it loose to do battle against other cats in the ultimate battle to determine which is cutest.
Visitors to the site get to vote on the outcome of each match. Sadly, my kitten, Tao, has only won 22 percent of her matches so far. But I’m sure she’ll prevail. Feel free to stack the deck for her. Her page is at kittenwar.com/kittens/101022.
This site is brought to you by the people who created the equally mysterious catsinsinks.com.
It’s a Web site. About cats. In sinks.
That’s pretty much it.
But there are hundreds of them, which begs a pair of questions: What the hell is it about sinks that fascinates cats?
What is it about cats in sinks that fascinates humans enough to make a Web site about them?
If irritated cats is more your thing, try mycathatesyou.com.
It’s chock full of cats with angry expressions on their faces.
Try envisioning them as terrifying new enemies in the Warcraft expansion.
Who knew kitties could be so mean?
Then there’s a bizarre page on cybernetic cats at www.newgrounds.com/cats/.
I think Tao is much cuter without bionic arms and a skull cap.
I know a certain Tauren warrior — that’s the Warcraft cow race, by the way — that would probably like those things, though.
And if that isn’t enough, there’s the sick, wrong and utterly bizarre catsthatlooklikehitler.com.
I think I’d be extremely freaked out if I had one of those cats, which the site dubs “kitlers.”
Thank God Warcraft isn’t adding anything like that to the expansion pack.
At least, I hope not. Wait a second — let me check my Magic 8 Ball.
“The stars say no.”
Vorenberg’s hearing is almost repaired after AC/DC’s the Razor’s Edge tour in 1990. As evidenced by this column, her mental function has quite a way to go. You can contact her at email@example.com or at 823-3678.
You want a gamer name that’s BigBadLeroyNoun
July 7, 2006
Cunning, strategy, wit and stealth are all required for what might be the most critical part of gaming: Picking a good character name.
You don’t want other gamers to see you with some dumb Lord of the Rings name like Frodo or Gandalf. That’s the gamer equivalent of matching plaid and polka dots.
Besides, dumb names invite ridicule — something most gamers are happy to dish out.
In World of War-crack — er, I mean Warcraft — this usually comes in the form of some oddball reference to Chuck Norris kicking your butt.
Yeah, I’m not quite sure what the deal is with that either.
Still, whenever I see a character with a popular movie name like Maverick, Iceman, Neo or Morpheus I just want to give it a big electronic wedgie.
So how do you pick a good name?
It’s not that movie names are all bad, but if you’re going to pick one, you need to find something obscure, off-the-wall or just downright strange.
In Warcraft, my main character is called Bazuzu, which is the name of the demon that possesses people in “The Exorcist.”
So far, nobody has figured it out without me explaining it.
Another tip for movie names — or names of real-life people — is to come up with a bad pun spinoff.
One amusing one I found through a Web search was Osamabinhidden.
In Warcraft, I made one called ChickNorris.
In shooter games like Halo 2, when you get killed by a character named yourmom, the game says: “you were killed by yourmom” and if you kill somebody named yourmom the game says: “you killed yourmom.”
These sorts of games invite a whole array of these type of names. A few I’ve seen include ThePope, anSTD, alittlegirl and YourStupidity. The bizarre can also be good fodder for gamer names. Some of the weirder ones I came across are 7SteamyHippos — although I’m not sure why you’d need seven of them — KrazyWaffleman, MuffinMonster, EvilDarkHamster, UmpaloompaJesus, Angry-Llama and mmmmmm—beer.
What was I talking about?
Oh, yeah. Of course, you also have to be careful that your name isn’t misread by others.
A classic example of this is therapist. It could refer to a psychological term, but it also could mean something decidedly uglier. Just look at it for a minute.
Another one a friend told me about is TheSpnker.
As in many Slavic countries, the lack of a vowel spells difficulty. Just how the heck do you pronounce it? Is it the spanker? The spunker? Maybe the spinker? Who knows?
Another friend of mine prefers to yank names out of the ether in the back of his mind.
He likes names with K sounds in them.
I’m not sure why, maybe he has fond childhood memories of spitting on people as he learned to say said consonant.
Some of his characters are Urok, Gryok and Naq, which, despite the lack of a “k” still have the sound of one.
Another one I found online was a guy who liked to call his character blorth. He said he likes it because it’s never taken, and people always ask him what it means — even though it means nothing. Some of my favorite Warcraft names play off the Horde’s hatred of the Alliance — which are elves, dwarves, humans and gnomes — and the desire to eat them. Some of my names are Dwarfchewer, Elfchewer, Brainchewer and Yumbrains.
You get the idea.
I also like taking names from Eastern philosophy. I have a warrior named Suntsu, who wrote “The Art of War,” and a priest named Laotsu, the author of the “Tao Te Ching.” Of course, if you have several characters it can get a bit frustrating finding names for them all. In that case, you might choose a name like one I turned up in my online search: StupidBloody-AccountName.
Vorenberg also sometimes sneaks around online with the character name ScaryGhost. You can contact her and let her know your favorite gamer names at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 823-3678.