Old News: Aug. 1, 2004 to Sep. 3, 2004

11:55 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
3 Sep. 2004 (Fri); Post #512
Went and saw Hero at the Columbia 8 tonight. Had dinner with my parents at that Mexican place (Azteca?) afterwards. While we were waiting for our food, I ran over to Barnes & Noble to buy a book of crossword puzzles. I've acquired a taste for them ever since I did one at Les Schwab waiting for my car to get new tires (also got a new windshield earlier this week). Then I did another at Toeshi Teriyaki when we ate there for the second time on Thursday. After dinner, we finished the first one in the book. It had some neat 15-letter 'words' in it, like onceinabluemoon and lightasafeather. There was one square I absolutely couldn't get though — it was where "site of the Taj Mahal" and "Israeli port" intersected. (The answers, BTW, were agra and acre.)

Anyway, Hero was pretty good. I think it was a little longer than it needed to be, but everyone's right about it being a really beautiful movie. Actually, I wish it hadn't been subtitled because there was just so much to look at. Seems pretty rewatchable because of that though. The plot was surprisingly simple; I had been expecting something a lot more complicated. The only thing I really hated was that there was some kind of audio problem during the movie; some speakers would cut out for a second or two, then come back on... and it always seemed to happen during the dramatic fights or army scenes. Very distracting. Oh, and Hero's got a 94% on Rotten Tomatoes right now (which was what mainly motivated me to go see it, besides some glowing reviews on alt.tv.stargate-atlantis and the SJG forums).

This guy, compn, is seeding eps 1-10 of Downtown on MySpleen. I really want the AVIs, but I'm hanging at 41% since his cable connection keeps dying or something. And there were no new Crossballs or Stargate Atlantis eps this week, so I've got nothing to watch but mediocre movies (watched Anger Management yesterday).

Have you seen this two-legged dog on pics.bbzzdd? Someone from Anandtech posted a link to the video of a news clip about it.

GURPS tomorrow at 4:00 PM.

This thing (91.5 KB) gives me the heebie-jeebies.

11:13 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
31 Aug. 2004 (Tue); Post #511
Hmm... 11 days. Oh well. Here's some linky goodness: New Random GURPS Idea. Neat CG Animations, plus the music video for Accidentally in Love by Counting Crows. Some Risk variants, including Nuclear Risk (we've been playing a lot of Risk lately). Trailer for Shaun of the Dead (can't wait, looks good). David Pulver (yes, the David Pulver) complimented me on a sample Affliction power (woo). Nifty chart and info about Germanic languages. Kevin Smith's making a Clerks sequel that stars Dante and Randal from the original. Scotty (from Star Trek) was missing the middle finger on his right hand (who knew?).

Now, some amusing/interesting quotes I ran across recently (they've been piling up in a DOC file I keep open all the time):
"As they say in Molvania, my pants are become tight." — Almafeta, upon hearing that GURPS 4th edition included support for Modular Abilities (from the SJG forums)

"The difficult part in an argument is not to defend one's opinion, but rather to know it." — André Maurois

"The US Air Force (brilliant buggers that they are) managed to drop a nuclear bomb into one of the swamps nearby (Savannah, GA, USA) back in the 1950's. I'm sure that even back in the 50's the detonators were made safe enough that it won't explode randomly. Still, I'd rather they dug that damned thing up and removed it." — some Slashdotter (from a discussion following the "British Town Worried About WWII Ammo Ship Wreck" post)
Next, a brief summary of past events: We started a new GURPS campaign (using 4th edition) with the PCs as super-powered detectives working for the secret "Paranormal Case Squad" in New York City*. I had my birthday (we all had pizza and played SoC). I got my Girl Genius poster back (looks great framed). I started making those 3-D tile chess pieces; so far I have one full set done (it's painted a glossy plum). Bought a replacement halogen bulb at Bed, Bath, & Beyond today (plus a seat cushion). Also had lunch at Toeshi Teriyaki today (chicken teriyaki and gyoza, very good). Watched Venture Brothers eps 1-4; very funny series. Stargate Atlantis 1x08 aired last Friday. Best episode yet, IMHO. Had Colm Meaney (Miles O'Brien from ST:TNG) in it. I won an eBay auction for a bunch of Chessex d6s (non-pipped) — some guy and I got into a bidding war and now he wants to buy the dice from me because he needs them to complete his collection. Fat chance. Oh, and I saw Napoleon Dynamite by myself last week. Very funny movie.

And finally, upcoming events: Gonna make more tile chess pieces. Gotta go to Pullman tomorrow to set up my sister's network and internet connection. Need to renew my domain with Namecheap (expires October 1st).

*BTW, Ryan/Justin: Turns out I calculated Justin's collision damage incorrectly (vastly overestimated the HP of the El Camino
— was 54, not 200; also doesn't count as a hard surface if you're inside), so he's still alive (but unconscious) and, as a result, Ryan's character doesn't actually have hemophobia (since the fright check shouldn't have occurred).

Risk game from 8/21/04.
Mid-game board from a game of Risk Justin (red), Paige (blue), Ryan (green), and I (yellow) played on 8/21. Here's the board at the end of the game (61.0 KB).

4:03 a.m. [GMT-8:00]
20 Aug. 2004 (Fri); Post #510
Yes! My 4th Edition GURPS books have shipped! According to the UPS tracking system, they're going to be here on the 25th.

Last night Ryan, Paige, and I played Settlers of Catan and Lunch Money (augmented with cards from Sticks & Stones and Beer Money). Then, tonight, Hanwool and one of Ryan's friends (Veronica) joined us for some more SoC and Lunch Money. After the girls left, we played a couple games of Once Upon a Time (with the Dark Tales expansion).

I seem to have lost my copy of Tile Chess, so I think I'm going to try making my own. It'll be better anyway. I plan to get a couple of the cheap plastic chess sets ($3.00/per), glue the pieces to small wooden blocks, then prime and spray paint them different colors. Maybe there's a better way to fix them to the wood than just glue; I'm thinking about, like, sticking a screw halfway into the block, then filling the chess piece (they're hollow) with a little caulk or silicone and setting it over the screw. Might be able to use a clamp to keep the caulk from expanding from under the edge of the piece. Anyway. It'd make the pieces a lot easier to use, the board a little harder to screw up.

The SJG forums are still exploding... 760 members, 1,555 posts (21 are mine).

Not much else happening. Gotta go get some framing/matting done tomorrow. Going to have my Girl Genius poster framed while I'm there, but it's a weird size (17x22") so I might have to get it matted up to 22x24" or something to fit a standard frame.

Settlers of Catan, Paige, Ryan
Settlers of Catan, Wednesday night.

8:40 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
18 Aug. 2004 (Wed); Post #509
GURPS Update (PDF; convert 3e character to 4e) just came out! Also, Steve Jackson Games launched their open-access web forums today (Daily Illuminator news item). It's only been up for about 23 hours now and there are already 951 posts and 631 members. Seems I was the 264th person to join.

Also signed up for Pyramid. They have a preview of the Dai Blackthorn character sheet from 4th Edition that's really interesting. (BTW, the previous link will only work if you're a Pyramid subscriber.) Pyramid now features Irregular Webcomic in their issues (here's a sample). It seems like the Pyramid strips are funnier than the ones on their main web site.

Anyway, I'm going to go get some dinner. Tonight I'm thinking... Subway.

Weyoun of Borg
Did you know Weyoun was a Borg in the mirror universe?

7:06 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
17 Aug. 2004 (Tue); Post #508
I just read on rec.games.frp.gurps that the GURPS 4th Edition Deluxe Editions shipped today! Hopefully the non-Deluxe books will be shipping on the 18th or 19th. Michael P. Hopcroft (from the GURPSNet-L list) says his FLGS promised copies in stock by the 24th, so the next couple days seem pretty promising as far as ship dates go.

I'm thinking about signing up for Pyramid again. I really enjoyed it for the year that I had it (April '01-'02, IIRC). Looks like the subscription fee has gone up though... used to be $15/yr. and now it's $20.

BTW, last Friday Drew, Matt Tomsinski, and Phill came over (apparently there was a party at JD's house and they needed soda). Matt Tomsinski told me he'd signed up with HostPC, the host I'd recommended to him. When I renew my service with them in October it looks like that fee will be going up too (though only to $15.98/yr., which is still an incredible steal). Maybe I can find another bargain for 'em in the Hot Deals forum on AT. The one I got last time was pretty sweet; 300 MB storage/8 GB transfers per month for $9.99/yr. Anyway, Matt Tomsinski's site is about Halo... I tried Googling it but couldn't find anything (all I really remember is that it had a dark background, a .net URL, and PHP pages).

Reached this point in Doom 3 where the Sarge and the Scientist Guy were both urging me to do different things (Sarge wanted me to send a message to earth to request reinforcements, Scientist Guy said to cancel the message because the hell-demons might use the ships to go back to Earth). Anyway, I went with the Scientist Guy. I tried looking up the consequences of either decision on the GameFAQs walkthroughs, but it looks like the only English TXT file is incomplete (only goes as far as the beginning of the Communications Transfer level).

BTW, here's the partial map (79.6 KB JPEG) from the failed nano-magic-wurms campaign. I thought it looked cool, so I saved it. I'm gonna be posting my unfinished HackMaster module soon too, but I'd like to convert it to a single PDF file or something instead of uploading the four WordPerfect documents and five map sheet scans that it's currently stored as. (Does anyone even still use WordPerfect?) The text is formatted into columns with full justification alignment, so it'd look way uglier if I just did a straight HTML treatment.

Whatever. Hey, we're #1 in most medals won in the Olympics right now. China has the most gold, however.

1:39 a.m. [GMT-8:00]
16 Aug. 2004 (Mon); Post #507
Okay, gonna try and make this post short cuz I'm tired. Play Oregon Trail on a Virtual Apple II. Finished Red Mars, now reading Green Mars. Been playing Doom 3. It's dark. Like Tycho said (I think... maybe it was someone on ATOT or /.): It's 2145 — why don't marine helmets have built-in flashlights?

Can't connect to trackers on MySpleen right now (they're doing their 5-day NAT ban)... I need to get a new router. I've done port forwarding for the standard BitTorrent ports, but what I really need is a router that allows me to forward whole ranges (i.e. 6881-6999). Stupid Siemens Speedstream 2602. Uh... hey, anyone want to buy a router?

Justin and I discussed the gaming situation. Basically we're planning a hiatus until 4th Edition arrives and everyone's had a chance to read it (i.e. at least a few days prior to the game). Then I'll GM a game for anyone who's interested. Some kind of setting essentially designed by the players (right now it looks like some kind of modern-day 300-point quasi-supers campaign is likely).

Since the previous attempt at a GURPS campaign is dead, dead, dead, I was going to make some kind of detailed explanation about the setting, but it seems like too much work now. To summarize: magic was nanotech, the "elders" were TL10 colonists who got stranded on this planet, nanobots ate their technology, the wurms were real, "wands" were actually blaster pistols, the bay-area was terraformed to keep the wurms out, and the wild golems were robots that were unsuccessfully "uplifted" by the planet-nano. The idea was for the players to uncover the elder's conspiracy, drag the spaceship out of the bay, use their knowledge of "magic" to repair it, and make the move into a TL10 space setting where they would have been the only group in the galaxy with control over this potentially world-dominating precursor nanotech.

You've probably seen the Chick Tracts (the Dark Dungeons one is especially well-known, I believe). Anyway, at some point I ran across this great parody tract (327 KB JPEG) on pics.bbzzdd.

This past week's Stargate Atlantis (1x06) was pretty good. Had some really funny bits involving David Hewlett's character. The whole "preservation of life, culture, and beliefs before all else" theme does get a little tiring though. Seems pretty unrealistic. But every TV show where the adventurers deal with primitives (esp. ST:TNG and ST:VOY) clings to these silly liberal ideologies, even when it's ridiculously inconvenient.

11:17 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
6 Aug. 2004 (Fri); Post #506
You know Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy creator) has a new series that'll be on FOX in January? American Dad. Doesn't look nearly as good as Family Guy. You can download six-minute pilot (19.2 MB WMV) from the web site above.

My "stuff for site.doc" file has a note that says "STA — good," but I can't remember what that's supposed to mean. UPDATE: Oh, I remember now—I had meant to post something about how I've seen Stargate Atlantis through episode four and they've all been pretty good. Downloading episode 1x05 through BitTorrent right now. I like the LOL encodes the best (versus Jman, CRiMSON, KTHX, LokiTorrent, and SFM, who are also doing it).

Built an extremely successful sliver deck on MTGO. The only downside is that it's only four colors (no blue), so there aren't any Shifting Slivers in it to grant unblockable-ness. But it works quickly enough and includes Hunter Slivers (grant provoke), so that isn't a real problem. Got two Sliver Overlords from boosters earlier this week, but only use one in the deck. I'm thinking about switching out some equipment (a couple Loxodon Warhammers and a Lightning Greaves) for three Shifting Slivers. After all, the Essence Slivers already cover life gain pretty well.

Got my hair cut on Thursday. Tease & Tan got torn down to make way for the new Walgreens parking lot, so I went to Backstreet Design in Kennewick. Hadn't had a trim since March, so I really needed it. Kinda hate getting my hair cut, always seems like a waste of time and money. And sometimes the stylist talks to you and ...blah.

Went to Pullman today to do some network/computer/A/V setup stuff at my sister's house. First time I'd seen the place; very nice. But it took a long time and it rained a lot.

Pullman House
My sister's place in Pullman.

12:57 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
3 Aug. 2004 (Tue); Post #505
Okay, seems the police just caught the guy. They had stopped by the clinic to warn people about him earlier and that's how my mom heard. He was hiding from the cops and unbalanced enough that they described him as "extremely dangerous." Guess I can go unlock the door now. :P

10:52 a.m. [GMT-8:00]
3 Aug. 2004 (Tue); Post #504
My mom just told me there's a schizophrenic loose in the neighborhood with a baseball bat. I think she said he was wearing a blue cap. Anyway, apparently everyone's supposed to keep away from him and call 911 if they see him. Will find out more later; she was in a hurry. Weird.

5:25 a.m. [GMT-8:00]
1 Aug. 2004 (Mon); Post #503
Ahh, another night of FFCC gaming. We're now up to 15h:03m of play time and have just finished year six. This session we beat Kilanda and the Lynari Desert (which was a really annoying level) and some other places we'd been before. I finally got my Tome of Wisdom crafted into a Charm of Wisdom (-10 to casting time). Also picked up a Fire Ring. This site, FFCC Shrine, is really useful for item info and artifact location.

On Saturday, Drew, Justin, Ryan, and I did a short (2h) GURPS game. Some general campaign parameters (in case anyone else'd like to make a character): 125 points with the standard -40 in disads and -5 in quirks; setting is early TL4 with magic (uses the improvised magic system with an emphasis on subtlety (i.e., few immediately obvious or flashy effects) — each verb/noun is a M/VH skill and must have at least 8 character points invested in it to function). The PCs are playing a scouting party from a small, isolated colony far from real civilization. Exploration and expansion has been limited due to the presence of dangerous wurms (similar to "rattlers" a la Deadlands) in the lands surrounding the settlement.

I've run across a few MP3s lately that I really like; my Brain stats show that I've played them all a couple dozen times within the last month. The songs in question are: Maroon 5 - This Love; Black Eyed Peas - Let's Get Retarded (one of the very, very few rap songs I enjoy); Phantom Planet - California; and Irene Cara - Fame.

Drew gave me this really sturdy table his family was going to give to Goodwill. Also gave me an old steel toolbox which I'm now using for my networking/computer tools (punchdown, crimper, cable tester, antistatic bracelet, screwdrivers, etc.). Much more wieldy than the 15-gallon plastic box I had been using. I actually really like the fact that my house is furnished almost entirely with things other ppl have donated. No inclination to obsess about scratches or dings in the desks and so on (a slightly discommodious worriment when dealing with shiny new things). Oh yeah, and Justin's mom decided to get rid of her computer chair, so Justin brought it over here on Saturday too. Sometime when I work up the courage to open the garage again I'll snap a pic of the rackmount cabinet nabbed from his work. It's nicer than the one I've got in my living room.

BTW, just pre-ordered both volumes of the new GURPS 4th Edition Basic set (Characters and Campaigns) through Warehouse 23. Almost 600 pages total, all full-color and in hardback. Wish I'd pre-ordered early enough to get the Deluxe Edition (leather-bound, foil-stamped, signed set with dust jackets and a slipcase).

Donated stuff
Like Christmas in July.

"He that climbs the tall tree has won right to the fruit." — Sir Walter Scott