Old News: July 16th to July 31st, 2004 (10 entries)

6:41 a.m. [GMT-8:00]
31 Jul. 2004 (Sat); Post #502
Wow! Just finished an 8-player draft tournament (three 8th Ed. boosters per player) — and I won! I was playing a black/green deck. My first opponent very nearly wiped me out in all three games (the matches are best two out of three); he was playing a white/blue deck (though I guess it might've been W/U/B/R since I saw him play a mountain and a swamp at one point). My next two opponents were fairly easy to defeat... the last guy was playing a white/red that had me worried, but he fell before my Severed Legion (enhanced with Unholy Strength) and (in our second match) my Spiked Wurm (augmented with Regeneration). It was very exciting. And it was only my second booster draft tournament ever. In fact, I was somewhat certain I'd lose this one, so I passed up one particularly good pick to nab a Bribery (rare blue card). Besides the 45 cards I drafted, I won four 8th Edition boosters.

The pic below is my profile, now showing a >1600 rating. That clan I'm in (the dang profile character limit lopped off the last N) is just something me and an online friend (this kid from Illinois, fajita_826) started. It's kind of neat. On the second day of the clan's existence, he'd gotten two more ppl to join and, when I logged in this morning, I found our ranks had grown to seven members. So far, the only real perk I've seen is that we get our own permanent chat room to hang out in.

The main reason I was up so late/early was that for the past two nights Jones, Hanwool, and I have been playing Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles on Hanwool's newly-acquired Gamecube. Very, very fun game. Definitely worth digging out the the ol' GBA for. Actually, it makes me want to get an SP version like Hanwool and Jones just bought (that backlight is a necessity). We've been playing on my projector in the green room. As of this morning, we're two-thirds done with year four, having logged eight hours and thirty minutes of gameplay. Paige joined us on Ryan's old GBA for our most recent session. Here's the current party makeup:
Ryan: Selkie Alchemist
Hanwool: Liltie Blacksmith
Paige: Clavat Merchant
Me: Yuke Tailor

I'm the main magic-user, usually in charge of Thunder and Cure; Jones does powerful ranged weapon attacks and supplemental Cure-ing; Hanwool typically carries the chalice, does heavy melee, and raises ppl with Life; Paige, so far, has mainly done supplemental melee and general meat-shield work. It's a really great game. Even better than Penny Arcade made it out to be, IMHO.

On Thursday, Jones, Hanwool, and I went to see The Village at the Columbia 8. Awesome movie. Without a doubt, it's the best thing I've seen this year. I realize I probably sound overly enthused in this post, but everything I've mentioned so far has been just cause for hearty delectation.

Well, I'm going to go watch an episode of Fawlty Towers and get some shuteye.

My MTGO profile
My MTGO profile.

5:39 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
29 Jul. 2004 (Thu); Post #501
You might've noticed that the site has been down for the past two days. That's because my host decided to shut down all its servers in the Atlanta datacenter. One of these (www10) was responsible for hjo3.net. Now this site's being hosted on a 2.8 GHz P4 system (www18) somewhere in Boca Raton, Florida. Of course, I didn't know about the site migration until the last minute (some kind of email screwup), which is why there was downtime. Anyway, everything's working again (except the counter CGI, but I assume that's because Perl's in a different place on this new server).

ION, MTGO still rocks, though I've developed a loathing for elf-beast decks and decks based on Carrion Feeder-Skullclamp. Here's the DEC file for the latest incarnation of my red burn deck, if anyone'd like to try it out: Red - Mega Burn Mark V.dec (1.10 KB). I got ahold of some nicer cards for it that made it so much more awesome: 2x Blistering Firecat, 2x Pulse of the Forge, 3x Browbeat, 4x Volcanic Eruption, and 2x Magma Jet. My soldier deck needs work, but even in its current form it's pretty decent.

3:32 a.m. [GMT-8:00]
28 Jul. 2004 (Wed); Post #500
Ahh, excessive post tardiness. Hooray. Here's what's been happening:

Finished Rendezvous with Rama. It was pretty good; I think I'll get the next book in the series. When I started it, I wasn't aware there were sequels... about three-quarters of the way through I was thinking "Geez, this thing's almost over and they haven't even met the aliens who built this gargantuan O'Neill cylinder." After reading Clarke, I decided to start on Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars. It's really fantastic. It's what people call "hard SF" — the technology involved is more realistic, based on real world science. I'm really amazed at how many ideas and details from Transhuman Space (esp. In the Well, for obvious reasons) were lifted directly from this book. E.g. the train-track artificial gravity setup on Phobos, the idea about skimming icy asteroids through the atmosphere for terraforming, the dark lichens and molds used to increase global temperature and melt the ice caps... the only complaint I have about the book is its use of the metric system. Metric sucks. I was going to do a whole rant about it, but it basically just comes down to personal preference. To quote The Simpsons: "My car gets forty rods to the hogshead and that's how I likes it." Anyway, I just bought Green Mars and Blue Mars. (Only $1.20 and $1.50, respectively. Amazon's "used and new" feature rocks.)

After returning from Spokane, my mom gave me a "Core Set" box for Magic: The Gathering. There were some neat cards inside (though the rares are preset: two Vizzedrixes and an Elvish Champion). But it also came with a CD and code for Magic Online, so I tried it out. It's pretty much instantly addicting. I've played about fifty games since I got it and my online collection (1,825 cards) is already about a quarter the size of my IRL collection. My online burn deck is actually way better than my real-life burn deck. And I've got a white soldier deck that almost single-handedly won me me a two-headed giant multiplayer game half an hour ago (imagine eighteen soldier tokens from two Isochron Scepters imprinted w/ Raise the Alarms, all w/ power/ toughness of 2/3 thanks to a Daru Warchief, attacking at once). The actual boosters and tournament packs are slightly more expensive for MTGO, but individual cards are much cheaper, thanks to the super-well-connected online trade system. For example, Broodstar goes for $6.00 on AnyCraze. But it's only $1-2 on MTGO. Plus you can get cards any time you want. Building an elf deck at 3:00 am that you need some Wellwishers for? No problem. Four for a dollar in the Marketplace chat room. A few clicks later, you've got 'em. I'm considering switching over to MTGO entirely, possibly selling my real-life cards. The only real downside I can think of for MTGO is that no pre-Invasion block cards exist in it. So you can't play with Ball Lightnings, Hecatombs, or Capsizes (to name a few). But there's always hope that some of the old cards will be reprinted in later sets.

The local Arby's (store #1744) is awesome. I go there a lot and I always get the same thing (a #8 giant-sized with Pepsi and curly fries). Last week I noticed the price was different sometimes; it was either $6.32 or $7.03. So I finally asked the guy at the window why and he explained that he's been giving me a 10% discount because I come there so often and occasionally he doesn't realize it's me at the speaker. So I sent some praise for store #1744 to Arby's corporate headquarters. It's all true, too. The place is always clean, the employees friendly, the food properly cooked, and, most importantly, they always get my order right. The Pasco Burger King, OTOH, has only gotten my order right once. Probably because no one there speaks proper English.

Heard about this site, the Fundrace 2004 Neighbor Search, on either ABS or Krunk4Ever (forget which). Kinda nifty — you can find out who in your neighborhood has donated money to the various presidential candidate's campaigns and how much they gave 'em. Works for celebrities too.

Got some new DVDs in the mail (again, from Amazon's "used & new"): Resident Evil, Zombie, and the three disc set of all twelve Fawlty Towers episodes (really funny stuff). BTW, they announced the name of the third Star Wars prequel at the San Diego Comic-Con: Revenge of the Sith. A lot of people bash the new Star Wars films, but I like them a lot. Probably as much as the old ones. Speaking of movies, The Village comes out on Thursday (there's a special midnight showing at the Columbia 8). Going to see that for sure. I've enjoyed all the M. Night Shyamalan films so far (though Signs wasn't as good as the others, IMHO).

Someone on ATOT (Fausto, I think), posted a link to this weird little "Portrait Illustration Maker" web site. It's fun to mess with for a couple minutes. Here's the self-portrait I made:

Portrait Illustration Maker GIF

That "please donate" window popped up in Azureus today, so I sent the guy €5.00. I snapped a screenshot of my up/down figures. A little surprising...

Azureus uploaded/downloaded screenshot

MySpleen and SuprNova are the shiznit fo' sho'.

(I typed up the following paragraph a couple days ago... it's probably not interesting to anyone. But I don't want to delete it since it reminds me how excited I was about that game. Looking back, it's dull and somewhat pointless. But everything's spelled correctly and the links work, so I might as well leave it. Whatever.)

Anyway, I had the most amazing game on MTGO just a little while ago. I was playing my new soldier deck against this guy named Strongbow77. His deck was mono-green with lots of Elvish Pipers, Troll Ascetics, and incredible mana acceleration. Well I was mana-screwed for quite a while at the beginning; only had 2 plains to work with. So I got out the only thing I could: a Deftblade Elite. He cast Blanchwood Armor on his Ascetic, increasing it, initially, to a 6/5 (eventually its power/toughness got up to 15/14). At this point, he had 2 Ascetics and a couple 1/1s out. Well, he kept attacking me with everything until I was down to 5 life. By that time I'd finally gotten enough mana to cast my Healer's Headdress without dying from his super-powered Ascetic (he attacked me again, but instead of taking 5 damage from his 3/2 and 1/1s, I blocked with the Deftblade, used its ability to "Prevent all combat damage that would be dealt to and dealt by Deftblade Elite this turn." and then tapped it to prevent 1 point of damage to myself via the Headdress). So next turn, I draw a Holy Day. This whole time I had been limited in the amount of mana I could use because I had to save 2 for the Deftblade's ability. Well, this time I was able to cast Loxodon Warhammer and attach it to the Deftblade (making him a 4/3 with the Spirit Link ability). I attacked with it, upping my life by 4. On his turn he attacked me but I had Holy Day ready, so I lived. Then, over the next few turns, I got out a Gustcloak Skirmisher (2/3 Flying Bird Solider), attached the Warhammer to it. Kept hitting him with it and gaining life. Then I used a charm to give it +2/+2 one turn, and later got out an Aven Brigadier which gave it a permanent +2/+2 (making it a 7/5). Of course, since he was playing green, he didn't have much to block flying, so I managed to kill him. At the end of the game, my life total was 22.

Yet another too-long post. Oh well.

Oh yeah, BTW, this was post #500. Woo. Some kind of milestone or something I guess. Kind of a monument to how much time I've wasted on this blog. I made this little chart that shows how my posting frequency has changed over time:

Post Frequency Over Time chart

The black dots represent every fiftieth post. For the sake of completeness, here's the original Excel spreadsheet (13.5 KB). Maybe I'll make a new chart for post #1,000.

8:12 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
20 Jul. 2004 (Tue); Post #499
Hey, only missed 7 days this time. I got my 160 GB HD in the mail. Installed it along with a Molex splitter (seems I used up all the available connectors from Freya's PSU). For some reason, Windows detected it as a 128 GB drive. I fiddled with disk management for a while, then made a quick post on AT. Apparently Windows 2000 SP4 doesn't support 48-bit LBA by default. This MSKB article explains how to add a single registry key to enable it. So now I've got access to the whole 160 gigs — though I've already filled 47.5 of those. Of course, if you do the math (1,000^3 vs. 1,024^3), there are really only 153 GB, but whatever. It's a lot more space. In fact, to break in the drive, I downloaded a ton of movies through BitTorrent... Along Came Polly, Bubba Ho-tep, Club Dread (sucked), Dead Alive (so-so), Eurotrip (sucked), Fahrenheit 9/11, Reservoir Dogs (pretty good), Stacy (Japanese zombie flick), The Girl Next Door, The Butterfly Effect, The Cooler (incredibly awesome!), Trainspotting, Tron (kind of amusing), and Van Helsing. Haven't watched most of those yet.

I downloaded this program, Pop Goes the Gmail, to read and send my Gmail email through Outlook Express. Works great, and it's donorware. Also downloaded Microsoft Streets & Trips. It's definitely not donorware. But it's really cool. Here's a picture of a route I entered from my house to Phill's:

MS Streets & Trips route

It's got an option for using it with a GPS device in a PDA or a laptop. I'd really like to try it out with my Inspiron, but it looks like it only works with GPS units that plug into the serial ports (which my notebook doesn't have). But there's got to be some utility out there that makes a USB port look like COM3 or something, right?

Anyway, Phill and I saw I, Robot on Saturday. It was pretty good. Apparently everyone thought we were having a HackMaster game though. I hadn't planned on/didn't want to GM. Drew and Ryan seemed profoundly set on HM, though the rest of us were considerably less enthused. Drew finally ended up GMing the Road to Aster module. I made a human Cavalier (Drew started everyone at 6th level, but character creation took forever). So far he's been fairly fun to play (Sheshko had started getting less interesting since I'd used him for so many sessions). The only problem is that I rolled a pretty annoying flaw during creation — Lisp. Didn't have enough points to buy a re-roll, but I suppose it could have been a lot worse (after all, Double-Amputee is a possibility). We didn't get a lot accomplished; did some stuff in town (highlights: had an honor duel with a bartender which I let him back out of, Paige seduced some creepy guy, and we fought a giant hedgehog and a group of soldiers on orc-slaying duty).

While Drew, Ryan, and Paige were away getting HM materials, Justin, Phill, Aaron, and I played Lunch Money (combined with Sticks & Stones and Beer Money). IIRC, Aaron won the game (though it might've been Phill). Justin and I hit a rules quandary which I emailed Atlas Games about. They replied this morning; basically Justin couldn't have played a Heart Breaker after a Grab (since it's not a basic attack or weapon). But even if he had used it on me, I could've used Backlash anyway, even though the attack was only one card (the wording on Heart Breaker is interesting in that allows any kind of defense card to be played against it). The guy who sent me the email, Will Hindmarch, is pretty smart. Very professional.

Hey, did you know it was 35 years ago today that the Eagle landed on the moon?

Read a funny (well, to me) joke in the Slashdot comments for some article a few days ago. Here it is: Have you heard AMD is releasing a new processor designed explicitly for the playing of 80s MP3s? They're calling it the Duron-Duron.

Oh, and Doom 3 comes out on August 3rd. Better get those pre-orders in soon (but don't use Best Buy; they suck and sell games regardless of previous reservations).

Doom 3 - August 3rd

6:58 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
13 Jul. 2004 (Tue); Post #498
11 days since my last post, arg. Anyway, here's what's been going on: There was a barbecue here the week before last. Some dork busted one of the spigots in my front yard. Of course, this required a lot of digging to find the break (and, boy, is that fun when it's 100° outside!). I estimate the density of significantly tough tree roots in my yard to be somewhere around thirty per cubic foot. But I found the tee where the pipe was ripped out; the threading was mangled, so I needed a new one. Which brings me to a short rant about Home Depot: Crap, that place is seriously understaffed. The one person who knew about plumbing stuff wouldn't help me because she wasn't supposed to be there because her shift had already ended. Then they didn't have the part I needed (a tee with two 1 1/4" barbed ends and a 3/4" threaded socket in the middle). So I decided I'd just get a length of pipe so I could at least use the outdoor water system again. Well, apparently you aren't allowed to cut pipe on your own. So, after a half hour I managed to find some drone to do it for me. He didn't even cut it right. He held the base and sawed on the unsupported side. Badly. Then he wrote me a sale ticket for the wrong type of pipe.

But back to my recapitulation: me and Matt Tomsinski watched Paycheck the evening of the barbecue (which was, as it turned out, Shea's "welcome back" party... a fact that I was unaware of until later that night). Paycheck would've made a good Outer Limits episode, but wasn't very good as a movie. Uma Thurman looks like a hag in the whole thing. And the spectacularly horrible dialogue made it hard to get into the story. Don't even get me started on the stupid unnecessary devices... really: why on Earth would anyone have a machine in a hydroponics lab that only makes indoor hurricanes and thunderstorms? Bah.

Turns out that job Hanwool had gotten was for a company called "CutCo," which is part of a bigger company called "Vector." Over the course of a couple days it became evident that they just hire people so they can use their personal contacts as a new customer base. Actually, "hire" is the wrong word since, apparently, they don't technically employ the salespeople (it's more of a complicated pseudo-reimbursement/commission system). Anyway, they suck and Hanwool quit. I think he made like $12 off the whole thing (which is pretty sad, considering the 10 hours of training he had to endure).

On the 4th of July a bunch of us (Phillip, Jason/Crazyjew, Justin, Drew, Ryan, Paige, Darren, and I) went to Burbank and bought fireworks. It was really hard to find a place where we could set them off though... we got kicked out of a Mormon church parking lot, then we got kicked out of this other place near the highschool by a cop (apparently, at the far end of the gravel lot, shrouded in darkness, there was a two-foot sign that said "No fireworks"; there were a few other ppl doing fireworks there though, and no one knew about the sign so it's not like we were intentionally doing anything wrong). Finally, Phill talked to this guy with a big family who was doing fireworks in front of his house (but off the road) and he let us set of firecrackers and mortars and stuff there. I burned my fingers on this super-fast burning fuse, but they're almost completely healed now. It hurt the first night and then they blistered up like a sonofagun. Wish I'd remembered to bring my camera; the pyrotechnics were pretty keen.

Last Wednesday I saw Spider-Man 2. It was pretty good, despite the atrocious technobabble. Doc Ock was cool. I hope they find a way to bring him back in the sequels. I'm a little puzzled why they decided to make tritium (real substance, actually an isotope of hydrogen) look like a hovering dodecahedron made of gold. They have all sorts of cool CG stuff at their disposal... why make it look like a cheap child's bauble? Anyway. Everyone seems to think Kirsten Dunst did a bad job, but I don't see it. Tobey Maguire, OTOH, kind of irritates me.

What else? I have a list of stuff here that I've been meaning to put in the blog... in no particular order: Here's a funny page about Saddam Hussein playing rock-paper-scissors; Stargate Atlantis premieres this Friday; I hit 3,000 posts on the AnandTech Forums (making me a "Diamond Member") — pic below; I'm starting to run low on space on Freya, so I ordered a 160 GB Hitachi HD off Newegg for $87 (54.4¢ per gig and free shipping, can't beat that); I finished Night Watch (Awesome book. Possibly my second favorite Discworld book (Small Gods being my absolute fave). All the Vimes/Watch books are pretty good.), then read Eric (it was so-so), and am now reading Arthur C. Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama (which I got at Barnes & Noble, along with Red Mars and Pyramids, on Sunday); Ebert & Roeper make Leonard Maltin and his dumb co-host look like incredible amateurs (just something I jotted down during last week's show); this yearly family photo project by a guy in Brazil is nifty; the 4th edition version of GURPS Lite is out (gives you an idea of what the upcoming basic set will be like when it's released next month).

Been messing with PHP lately. The code's a lot simpler than I thought it was; I've tweaked a couple freeware scripts on my own. This experimental poll I put up uses a really buggy script (which I fixed a couple pesky "divide by zero" errors in and hopefully made a little more presentable). There's still a problem with people being able to vote more than once since the script only seems to check the IP log's last entry instead of every entry.

3,000 posts on AT
I hang out in ATOT entirely too much.

5:32 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
2 Jul. 2004 (Fri); Post #497
We had another Magic: The Gathering sealed-deck tournament last night. This time there were six participants: JD, Drew, Aaron, Matt Kinkade, Matt Tomsinski, and me. Each deck was made in 45 minutes from a Mirrodin tourney pack, two Mirrodin boosters, a Darksteel booster, and five additional basic lands (optional). Here's how the main ladder (the winner's bracket) shook out:

7/1/04 MTG sealed-deck tourney winner's bracket

Each match was played for the best two out of three games. My match with Drew was especially intense; I won twice consecutively, but both games were extremely close. He was playing, IIRC, a blue/black deck with an infuriating Fatespinner. I played a white/black deck (powered mainly by a Lodestone Myr and a bunch of great little white utility spells, like Razor Barrier, Blinding Beam, and Awe Strike). After that match, which took at least 1.5 hours, I got the bye for the second set of matches. The games with Aaron were pretty close as well; I forget what colors his deck used, but one of them was green (he had a lot of "Protection from artifacts" creatures). In our last game, he had a Pewter Golem (4/2) armed with a Fireshrieker and a Whispersilk Cloak. With my life total reduced to 4, I managed to use my Lodestone Myr to trample two of his creatures, dealing just enough damage to kill him (having tapped every available artifact).

Anyway, I won 20 common cards from each player (of their choosing) and a Gmail invite generously donated by Matt Tomsinski (registered gmail address). The loser's bracket (pictured below) was fairly interesting. Drew and JD's match was very, very long (about three hours total, BME); Aaron had to get up early, so he forfeited rather than wait for them to finish (it was already 1:00 am when they began, after all).

7/1/04 MTG sealed-deck tourney : loser's bracket
7/1/04 MTG sealed-deck tourney loser's bracket.

JD and Drew's final game was amazingly close; JD attacked Drew with some artifact creatures which died, but did lethal damage to Drew, but Drew had two Disciple of the Vaults which could have been used to kill JD. Fortunately, I had my notebook nearby with the 02/01/04 Comprehensive Rules on it, so we were able to determine that the state-based effect ("420.5a: A player with 0 or less life loses the game.") happened before the triggered ability.

Here's a pic of the board at the end of their final game:

Drew and JD's final game
Drew and JD's final battle to determine the winner of the losers.

The whole tournament was pretty exciting. Afterwards, I read Dr. Blink: Superhero Shrink #0 (picked it up at IF earlier that day) and finished Ringworld's Children. Dr. Blink was good; I'll buy #1 when it comes out in September for sure. Ringworld's Children was fantastic, but didn't seem long enough. The ending was really great... I don't want to give anything away, but it sounds like the next novel might cover the Puppeteer homeworlds in greater detail, something I've always been very curious about.

Not sure, but I think we're having HackMaster tomorrow (sans Phill). I left it up to the players (mob rule and all that). A couple notes: Knight Errants can't use shields or ranged weapons (PHB, p. 41) and Phill can't wear Elven chain (not sure if that's what he's currently in or not). Also, apparently we should be rolling for spell mishaps every time a spell is cast and we're going to start using the standard d10 for initiative (the d20 made things a bit easier, but it ultimately either unbalances things or means we'd all have to do a lot more math during combat).

BTW, just heard Hanwool got a job selling knives at a store in Kennewick!

11:31 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
30 Jun. 2004 (Wed); Post #496
For some reason I really slack-off on my web site updates during the summer. It's always been that way, just check the archives. Anyway.

On Friday night Aaron, Matt T., JD, and I had a sealed-deck Magic tournament. We each built our decks in 45 minutes using a single Mirrodin tourney pack and two Fifth Dawn boosters (plus the option of five basic lands). My deck was a red/white with a ton of artifacts (as is to be expected when playing exclusively with Mirrodin-block cards), though it had a couple blue mana-producers for my Wizard Replica and Cobalt Golem. JD played an ambitious prismatic deck that included a game-shattering Clearwater Goblet. All of our matches were best two-out-of-three; JD and I each beat our first-round opponents with two consecutive wins, then in the final match, he won, then I won, then he won the last duel (but it was close). Here's the ladder:

Ladder for 6/25/04 MTG sealed-deck tourney.

Been having some problems with my wireless bridge between the cable modem and router — mostly it works great, but sometimes my ping starts climbing rapidly (plateaus at about 1500 ms) and won't go back down until I power-cycle the modem and router. So for now I'm back on the 300' CAT5. And, if that weren't enough, the cable between my house and my parents' has been flaking out (who knows why), so I had to set up one of my Belkin 54g devices as a WAP. Their computer in the sun room can just barely pick up the signal if the USB thingy is stretched about 3' from the desk. It's hard to get proper LOS to their place from my second floor since there's a lot of trees around. Well, in the summer anyway. It'd be way easier in the winter I bet.

Brief rundown of Saturday night HackMaster: The party picked up Thorn (Drew's Magic User/ Druid) and Murdalya (Paige's half-Drow Knight Errant). Then they traveled 100 miles through the treacherous Frandor Mountains. Notable encounters: They obliterated a group of nine orcs and an Orkin Wardawg (Kroenen was nearly torn apart), "piffed" a goblin scout, helped a lost Ogre find his parents, killed two Ratweillers, and fought off a small pack of wolves. Anyway, they reached Brote's Hall.

Spider-Man 2 came out last night. It's got an amazing 95% on Rotten Tomatoes (w/ 136 reviews counted) and Ebert & Roeper really loved it. I think I may go see it tomorrow, probably in the afternoon.

Kenran Butoh Sai (AKA The Mars Daybreak) is pretty good. I've seen 12 eps so far, have 1-13 downloaded. It's kinda like Outlaw Star, maybe a little less serious. BTW, don't watch "Pretty Cure" — it's one of those "magical girl" animes. I tried to look it up before grabbing the torrent, but AnimeNFO didn't have any data for it. The theme song is kinda catchy though.

Speaking of BT, I snatched eps 14-35 of Sealab 2021 off MySpleen. Also got season 3 of Dr. Katz. Dunno why, but these shows seem a lot less funny now than they used to.

Picked up Night Watch and Ringworld's Children at Barnes & Noble last Thursday. Been reading the latter. It's good, but feels kind of outdated. Also finally got a table last Thursday (plus six chairs). It's oak. Very sturdy. Made HM a heck of a lot easier on Saturday.

Incidentally, in case anyone was wondering, Hanwool is still alive. Talked to him a couple nights ago. His parents are basically making him spend every waking moment with his grandmother, so he can't do anything. He got a bunch of free consoles (a PSX, PS2, and GameCube), games, and controllers the other day when some drug dealer got busted at the motel. I think he's going to eBay the PlayStations.

Stumbled across this neat web site that has a lot of links to free, legal, full-song MP3s: the Netlabel Catalogue. Most of it is pretty unimpressive IMHO, but the 8bitpeoples stuff is really good. I especially like the songs by Rugar and Twilight Electric.

New table
The new table. In the background, you can just barely make out the lockers Phill and Drew snagged from the school district.

3:32 a.m. [GMT-8:00]
23 Jun. 2004 (Wed); Post #495
Oh, forgot to mention: Did you hear about the SpaceShipOne flight? And the Navy planning to equip ships with railguns by 2011? Corporate spaceships, frigates with e-mags... lots of cool stuff happening. It's like living in the future. Or something. Makes me wish there were more THS sourcebooks to read.

Been watching The Mars Daybreak (which everyone seems to prefer calling "Kenran Butoh Sai," b/c Lord knows that's easier to say). It's pretty cool. Have eps 1-4 right now. I really wish they'd explain why Mars seems to be totally covered in water... anyway, it also makes me think of THS. Think I'll go flip through Under Pressure and do a little more work on my HM adventure (I'm using "In the Hall of the Mountain King" as a working title, dunno if I'll keep it).

10:16 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
22 Jun. 2004 (Tue); Post #494
Uff da, haven't updated in a while. Here's some news:

My table was supposed to show up Thursday, but it didn't. Have been pestering and arguing with the mental midgets over at Cross River Interiors every day for the last two weeks. (If you don't know the story, here it is in a nutshell: we bought a table locally in late April that was supposed to be here in mid-May. It didn't show up and the company wouldn't give us a refund. They kept saying it'd arrive soon, providing specific dates. Each time, it didn't arrive. They kept lying, so I started calling them every day, sometimes twice a day, asking about the table and generally arguing with them. Eventually it got to the point where they'd had our money for six weeks and hadn't given us anything in return. Finally, just today, they caved and said they'd have a refund check for us tomorrow afternoon. Woo.) Anyway, don't buy anything from them: they're seriously incompetent and lie a lot.

In fact, they've been added to my blacklist (joining other unworthy establishments like Lil' Pardner's, Shari's, the Pasco Burger King, Computer Renaissance, and Columbia Corners Grocery on Court Street).

Had HackMaster on Friday. Don't remember anything much happening except the GM tried to kill three of us with a trapped box. Fortunately someone (Drew?) knew this rule that allowed Phill to do an honor purge to undo his last action. Then I helped him honor-whore back up to a decent level (a purge costs 90% of your current HON).

Then on Saturday I GMed. The PCs were in Beorn, so they traveled to Farzy. On the way they had a random encounter (three Ogre Lords). Right after that, they met up with Ryan's cleric. The next morning, Bastion (Ryan) and Bobo (Sheshko's dwarf friend) entered into an honor duel; Bastion won, killing Bobo. Of course, the other PCs were pretty upset since the duel wasn't supposed to be "to the death." Anyway, they all traveled to Farzy (Aaron's wizard, Mordecai, killed a Wild Dawg on his own during a night watch) and hauled Bastion into the casino part of the inn (unused since Hugh was killed by the gawd Bhaal). There, they poured him a mug of spirits (mixed with a potion of polymorph to insect) and made him drink it.

Well, Ryan managed to roll divine intervention, so Odin (looking like a mundane old man) showed up and offered to buy the cricket (which Bastion had transformed into). Goldaf wouldn't accept a gold piece, two gold pieces, or a platinum piece, so Odin finally offered to let him borrow his wand. As soon as Odin handed him the wand, Goldaf's hand began blackening and some of his fingers crumbled away. Bastion was taken to an alley and (after nearly dying) was turned back into a half-elf, but was told that he had one week to convince another person from the party to pick up Odin's wand or else something horrible would happen to him. Amazingly enough, he convinced Goldaf to pick up the wand with some flimsy made-up legend about how great powers were granted to anyone who could hold the wand for two days straight. Goldaf was rushed to a nearby temple of Ikka-Patang, but apparently returned as an undead creature before he could be raised.

So the rest of the party decided to get the Grel, Kherami, to grab the wand. She did so and died instantly without a saving throw just like Goldaf (this time they had the foresight to cut off her thumb to regrow her from a regeneration/haste spell if she didn't make it). So they left her body there (eventually it completely crumbled into gray dust from contact with the wand). When nothing happened (after two days), they took the thumb to the temple to get her resurrected, but the procedure failed (it only has a 60% chance of success, otherwise death is permanent). After that whole mess, the remaining PCs (Mordecai, Por'tal, Bastion, and Kroenen) finally began the adventure I designed. The session ended with them, Hajor (a scout who claims to know the location of the fabled "Hall of Brote"), and some hirelings (from the local Henchmens' Guild) heading into the Frandor Mountains.

ION, my box of Fifth Dawn shipped on 6/18. According to the UPS tracker, it should be here tomorrow. Definitely looking forward to that.

Saw this video over on Compfused, thought it was really funny.

Saw The Terminal last night. It was pretty good, but the ending wasn't that satisfying. Still, it had some great characters. I'd like to see Saved, but it seems the local theaters aren't showing it. Anchorman opens on the 9th next month; will definitely see that. Oh, and Spider-Man 2 come out on the 30th! I also kinda want to see Fahrenheit 9/11 (since Bowling for Columbine was entertaining despite all the lies Moore packed into it)... but that's one movie I won't pay for (will pirate it off Suprnova instead).

I've been downloading a lot of stuff w/ BT (using MySpleen, Suprnova, and Torrents.co.uk with Azureus as my client). Pulled down an ep of "Come to Papa" (starring Tom Papa) just to see what it was like. Probably the worst sitcom I've ever seen. And this was episode 1x03, so it's not like it was just a shaky pilot or anything. No one on the program can act, especially not Tom Papa. Ought to be canceled pretty quickly.

Been painting miniatures a lot. Finished a Games Workshop halfling that came out really well, then did a lizardman that's less impressive. Right now I'm working on a dwarf warrior; he's almost finished, just need to paint his hair and a couple other little details. I really screwed up the wings on his helmet (failed experiment), so I'm a little discouraged ATM. Really feel like doing some kind of miniatures wargaming, esp. something SF, like Attack Vector: Tactical. Or Warhammer 40K. Need to sucker someone into playing.

What else? Well, my scanner (Canon CanoScan N1220U) crapped out on me. Going to pick up a new one tomorrow. Will probably get the LIDE20 at CC.

Just a few hours ago my dad and I set up a wireless bridge between the modem and the router (which was finally moved inside the house). Basically there're now two sturdy plastic buckets hooked to the telephone pole near the street. The top one is about 12 feet from the ground and contains a Belkin 802.11g WAP/Wireless Bridge set only to connect the the MAC address of the other unit. They're also set to use 128 bit WEP encryption, but I think that's probably superfluous. The bottom bucket contains the modem. The materials were cheap; just a 25' extension cord, a like length of CAT5 crossover cable (made it myself), two detergent buckets, and some silicone. I'll take a picture of it later. It actually looks kind of cool. Next project: setting up a wireless bridge (802.11b) between my house and my parents'.

Boy, this was a long post.

Nicht fer gefingerpoken!

11:03 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
16 Jun. 2004 (Wed); Post #493
Did computer work (well, instruction mostly) for a couple hours today, then Drew came over and we went to IF. Got KoDT #92, some miniatures (including the one pictured below, which was labeled "Anduriel, Elf Warrior," but clearly isn't; Games Workshop's Adventurers pack, FT06), and an MTG Apocalypse Fat Pack. Also, Drew and I bought a box of Fifth Dawn and a box of Eighth Edition (split them both 50/50). We also swung by Best Bett to get some rigid card sleeves, and I got their last Mercadian Masques tourney pack. So I added 705 cards to my collection (not counting foils). Woo! Got a ton of awesome cards, but the two that I remember best are the foil Avatar of Hope (goes for $17.50 on AnyCraze) and the Royal Assassin.

So we got back here, had Arby's, opened our boosters, and played Magic with Aaron and Ryan (Paige was there too). Ryan and Paige had picked up this freaky thing. It was weird, so I gave it its own web page. After all, "happy hank the monkey" only turns up two results on Google. I feel the general web-savvy public needs more options for Happy Hank the Monkey info.

Anyway, Drew and Aaron played a half dozen games of Magic, so I painted my thief mini (sorry the pics aren't very high quality; my camera's a little outdated and doesn't like to focus on close-up objects... I need to get whatever this guy is using (apparently a Canon EOS D60)). It came out okay, but I haven't painted mini's in a really long time. Maybe if I get bored tomorrow I'll tackle one of the dwarves from the FT06 pack.

Oh, and we'll be having a game Friday so that we can (hopefully) tie up the loose ends from module I2 before my adventure begins. Attendance isn't mandatory, so Justin doesn't need to come if he thinks it'll interfere with his work schedule on Saturday (he's been burning vacation days lately since our Friday games go pretty late).

I'm gonna go work on my adventure.

Elf mini
My Elven thief miniature.

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