Old News: March 16 to April 17, 2004

2:12 a.m. [GMT-8:00]
17 Apr. 2004 (Sat); Post #467
Oh yeah, Justin reminded me that the party set the Conestoga wagon on fire after one of its wheels broke during the last GURPS session. So now they just have a bunch of horses, a donkey, and a goat. Em... what else? I started reading the first Promethea TPB, which is actually a hardcover. Seems interesting. Found my copy of Old West, which I thought I'd lost. Not much more than that going on.

I was going to go see Kill Bill: Vol. 2 tonight, but I had to go do some computer work for someone and then had to do some chores for my parents when I got home b/c they weren't going to get back till really late. Prolly won't see it tomorrow either on account of Justin and I doing MTG stuff @ 3:00 and then the game starting @ 4:00. Then prolly won't see it Sunday cuz I've got a lot of homework to do. Maybe Monday evening or Wednesday.

I made this blue decking deck that's kind of fun, but not terribly effective. My revised burn deck is really awesome though... the only times it loses are when it gets bad land draws and when it plays against my white Pariah + Dawn Elemental deck (in which case the whole match is a toss up). Drew and I had this really close game the other night between his white/red deck and my decking deck. I decked him with my Whispersilk Cloak-ed Raven Guild Master, then, on his turn during his upkeep, changed all his mountains to islands with my Vision Charm on a whim. Well, I was at two life at the time and it turned out he had a red card in his hand that could've killed me before his draw step. It was really weird. He probably remembers the specifics better than me.

Planetes #24 is a real cliffhanger, more so even than #23 (which ends with the possibility of the Von Braunn crashing into a lunar city of 120,000). Tanabe is suddenly showing this depth the series never hinted at before. Hachimaki, OTOH, is on the brink of turning so cold and callous and selfish that it almost makes the viewer regret rooting for him in the earlier episodes. It's weird how much the characters have grown in the last 3-4 shows... The Werner Rock-Smith character is oddly likable despite the fact that he's an incredible monster. Anyway, AnimeNfo.com says there's only 2 episodes left in the series. This is one I'm definitely going to be looking for on DVD when it comes out. (Incidentally, I just checked the show's official web site and, though I can't read much of it, it looks like first DVD goes on sale in Japan on the 23rd. Woo.)

Okay, time to resume my Chapelle Show ep. #204 BitTorrent download and go to bed. I think this post will have only been interesting to me.

11:12 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
13 Apr. 2004 (Tue); Post #466
Today was a good day. I went to CS230 and found out there's no class tomorrow; we just have to go to the IT Day thing at the Red Lion. Then I had to run home and clean up the house cuz the restoration service guy was coming over to examine the water damage. Then Drew came over to borrow some Discworld books and we talked about M:TG and the next RPG campaign. Then, at 7:10, I went to CS231 to see if the instructor would let me in the class late; in the hall I ran into Ben, this guy I had an OS class with last year (or 2002?). He showed me to the right room and I got Mr. H to sign my Petition for Late Enrollment form. The class seems really fun. Turns out Darren (we had Novell together) and this other guy, Derek (someone Phill and Drew worked with), are also in there.

Anyway, I thought I'd missed a show, so I checked the torrents when I got home but it turned out it was rescheduled because of the president's speech. However, while I was checking the new downloads I spotted Planetes #24 [13.7 kB ANBU .torrent]! (Currently 15% done DLing.) #23 was kind of a cliffhanger. Can't wait to see #24. I wonder if the series will continue or just end at #26 like a lot of anime (Cowboy Bebop, Outlaw Star, etc.). Seems like they're setting it up for some kind of final ending though... either Hachimaki's going to leave for Jupiter on the Von Braunn or he's going to stay with Tanabe. Neither seems workable were the series going to proceed.

Have to go work on someone's system tomorrow at 6:00 pm. I think JD's off that night and Drew has a lab that might end early, so I might get a chance to try out my new blue deck.

It sure rained hard this evening. Okay, well I'm going to bed.

6:23 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
12 Apr. 2004 (Mon); Post #465
Oy, right now I'm uploading 40 megs of photos that I shot today for that real estate company. I was kind of surprised to get an e-mail from them this morning since they hadn't used me since February 9th. Anyway, I had to shoot seven apartment buildings in Pasco, Kennewick, Richland, and West Richland. They take a lot longer to photograph for comparisons because they usually have multiple buildings. (Back, was messing with OE and writing up the invoice.) Argh, just found out Charter won't let me e-mail 40 megs at once. Of course, I only got this error after waiting for the upload to finish. So now I have to send seven ZIP archives with an average size of 5.5 MB each.

The GURPS game on Saturday went okay. No one died and Drew was absent. Hanwool's new character (an Inuit traveler with a magical tattoo that transforms into a dire wolf) entered play in Beckley, WV as the party was making their way east to the Atlantic after raiding the small settlement, Ravencliff. It's worth mentioning that Akna the Inuit is only a 160 point character; this is because new characters start with 20 fewer character points each time a party member dies. It might be a little heavy-handed, but hopefully this'll help put an end to party infighting. Anyway, a lot of the session was spent divvying up the loot, fencing stolen jewelry, arranging lodgings in towns, dealing with minor emergencies (too-curious wolves, spooked horses, potable water shortages), an interesting encounter with a traveling tonics salesman (Sarone lightning-bolted him), and of course, trekking across the Allegheny Mountains. Towards the end, a few decided to blow some cash on an odd auction in Webster Springs (some sheik from Arabia had died and, through a legal loophole, his belongings had become property of the nearest municipality).

Right now, the party has a Conestoga wagon, a pony (Windstorm, Kai's packhorse, had to be put down after breaking a leg), two saddle horses, an ex-cavalry horse, two draft horses, a goat, and an unfazeable donkey. They had a difficult time between Beckley and Webster Springs since there weren't many bodies of water and they only had a 40-gallon barrel and a few skins for water. Assuming they buy adequate supplies before venturing out again, the next session should go much quicker (we'll probably just roll once per 4 days for things like picketing, cooking, riding/driving, and random encounters instead of daily).

I finished reading League of Extraordinary Gentlemen volume II the other night. Looks like they ended the series, but it's left open enough for a new team to come in. Volume II was really graphic; I was shocked. But still, it was fun. Since I've read all the League and Top Ten comics now, I think I might start on Promethea. Maybe pick up some Powers TPBs (I've read two or three of those). I can't wait for the first Walking Dead TPB (issues #1-6), which is supposed to be out this month.

According to UPS's tracker, my CardHaus order arrived on the 6th, so I'm going to go get it from the clinic and start building my deck.

League, vol. 2
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, volume II.

11:06 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
9 Apr. 2004 (Fri); Post #464
Tons of Planetes episodes just came out, mostly from ANBU. From October 8th to March 19th, only 17 episodes were released. In the last 4 days, however, 6 new episodes have been released. My bandwidth is going to be pretty saturated for the next few days. It kinda sucks that episode 19 hasn't been released as a single; if you want it right now, you have to grab the 525 MB 17-19 pack. Anyway.

It's extraordinarily boring tonight. No one's doing anything interesting, at least nothing I'm involved with. I finished the Ravencliff inventories and maps for the GURPS game. Played some more Alpha Centauri today (was the Peacekeepers, won with 111% after killing off the Believers and forcing 4 other factions into submission pacts; Clean Singularity Deathsphere Gravships are cool, but I mostly won with Clean Drop Shard Hovertanks). Worked on a computer for someone earlier tonight. Lots of viruses, trojans, spyware, etc.

Working on some custom internal bleeding rules for GURPS. I like Raine Määttänen's Injury Rules, but they're more complicated than I really want to get.

Forgot to mention in my last post that I saw Hellboy on Sunday. Didn't really like it. The product placement was incredibly tacky. I was really getting into the opening scene until the the camera moved in for a close-up (on the product) as the professor whipped out two Baby Ruth candy bars. Then there were the special effects: they were mostly good. Nice, sleek CG stuff, good makeup. Except for the corpse Hellboy picks up in the Russian cemetery. It was this horrible puppet thing that could've been built in the 70s. Really cheap looking. The voice acting for it was bad too. I'm thinking that the budget suddenly got very tight when they had to put that part of the film together. And hardly any time is spent developing the characters. At the beginning, just when the fish man was starting to seem interesting, they dump him and you don't see any meaningful dialogue from him for the rest of the movie. Hellboy gets some attention, but nothing satisfying.

Been messing with my laptop a lot. It's kind of painful to switch back to my main machine afterwards though; even a 100 Hz refresh rate looks flickery after staring at a nice LCD.

Inspiron 9100
Picture of the day: my notebook. Woo.

3:14 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
6 Apr. 2004 (Tue); Post #463
I just finished watching Hypercube: Cube 2. Really weird movie. If you haven't seen it, skip this ¶. Here's my take on the whole thing (warning, spoilers): The thing on Sasha's necklace was the hypercube. That's why Sasha thought it was so hopeless to try to escape; it would be pointless. Since there don't seem to be any fixed rules for the 'cube, it's possible. Also notice that Sasha was the only one who didn't seem to get duplicated at any point (I could be wrong about that though). Now, Kate was obviously some kind of spy working for the government or Izon. Actually, for that matter, I think everyone might have been. Well, I dunno. Maybe the hypercube is just some kind of intersection for a bunch of different alternate realities and in each reality, Izon builds a single room to access another reality, but each other Izon dupe does the same thing, so when they turn it on at the same time, anyone who goes in finds themselves in an infinite loop of (almost) the same room. And how come the watches Simon kept taking all had the same time? I'm going to go see if I can find some web sites that explain the damn movie.

Here's some IRL stuff that happened:

On Friday, my Dell notebook showed up. It's very cool. I've got the OS and UI set up the way I like them (though I mounted ObjectDock on the left side because of the screen's WXGA format, i.e. its 1280x800 resolution). After some arguing with my ME102 802.11b WAP, I got it and my notebook working together properly. I drove around a little to see what kind of wireless my notebook could pick up and found an open AP (SSID: default) near the dentist's office on Court St. (the one next to Baskin Robbins). Also played a lot of Alpha Centauri on it this weekend (played the Morgans on a huge 70-90% water map; killed the University and the Gaians, forced Miriam and Santiago into guaranteed-loyalty pacts, never fought the Hive even though it was the next largest power; won the game with 146% by Ascension after getting fed up with waiting for my "corner the global energy market" victory to resolve).

On Saturday, we played GURPS. Hanwool's voodoo mystic, Gullah Jack, died after suffering massive internal bleeding indirectly caused by Kai. Earlier, the PCs found a mysteriously deserted waterwheel and a 15 year old clank programmed to collect firewood. Somehow, Sarone got shot in the chest, so they rode fast for a day and a half looking for a town. They found Ravencliff, WV... population: 30. The settlement (really more of a big farm run by several families) had been the subject of a couple Indian raids in the last few months, so one of the locals was understandably hostile when Kai of the Wolf tribe started banging on his door in the dead of night. Anyway, after the shaken doctor aimed a shotgun at Kai, the PCs decided to massacre everyone. I think some of them have been reading too much Knights of the Dinner table.

I ordered some Magic cards on CardHaus to make a new deck. I'm pretty excited about it; should be fun to play. I hear Justin's also building a deck, but entirely from cards purchased online (he uses AnyCraze).

I was reading Top 10: Book 2 last night and spotted a Stargate SG-1 cameo. I thought it was really cool, so I scanned the panel. It's from Chapter 1 (issue #8) when John is walking through the Transworld Transport Terminus.

Top 10, Issue 8
SG-1 (well, Carter, Teal'c, and O'Neill) cameo in Top 10.

12:57 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
2 Apr. 2004 (Fri); Post #462
Got Unreal Tournament 2004 yesterday. It's pretty fun, but very demanding. Even on my system (2500+, 512 DDR333, Radeon 9800Pro), I have to set all the video settings to "normal" (with AA and AF at 2x) just to get a solid 40-50 avg. FPS @ 1280x1024. It's pretty big too; 5.20 GB installed. The maps are well designed, but most are a little darker than I'd like. So far, I've been playing Onslaught maps, but that's cuz that's all there is on most servers with players. Still have yet to play the levels with the spaceships.

Got a box of 8th Edition boosters from Dan (as well as KODT #89, Blackhands #2, and the 2nd Top Ten TPB). Notable additions to my collection: Birds of Paradise, Underworld Dreams, Furnace of Rath, Wrath of God, and Flying Carpet. Later, I went to Best Bett and got two 5,000-card boxes and some hard plastic cases for rares. So last night I organized my whole collection (sorted into the five colors, artifacts, multicolored, non-basic lands, and basic lands) and built a zombie deck. The zombie deck is okay, but kinda slow.

A while ago, before I went to Coos Bay, I started crunching for Folding@Home at part of Team Anandtech. (I had been doing SETI@Home, but kinda got bored with it and wanted to try a new project.) I've got three processors going currently, Freya, Eir, and my dad's 2400+ Shuttle. Here're my stats. Right now I've got 1,748.16 points (ranked 47,078th globally, 176th in my team).

Vapor Angels by Kathy Mar is a really good song. Here's a ~15 second clip I made from it:
kathy_mar_vapor_angels_clip1.wav [260 kB]

Organized M:TG cards.
(Some of the) 5,500 cards, sorted.

10:31 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
31 Mar. 2004 (Wed); Post #461
I'm back. Came in on flight 2096 at ~5:30 pm. I posted some photos from my trip below. Here're the highlights from my nine days in Oregon: had some good fish and chips; bought a lot of Magic cards (40 packs); toured the beaches; saw Something's Gotta Give, Stargate SG-1 season 6, and Matchstick Men on DVD; worked on my GURPS setting and upcoming session; read Burglars Can't Be Choosers; had sushi. I got some good MTG cards... Goblin King, Royal Assassin, Pristine Angel, Bribery, Thorn Elemental, Nuisance Engine, Rukh Egg, et cetera.

The view from my grandparents' house.
sunset bay
The beach at Sunset Bay.
A view from the top of the cliffs near South Cove. See the lighthouse in the upper right?
Some quasi-island near South Cove with tons of sealions on it sunning themselves.
yours truly
Me at South Cove. Whee.
Sushi takeout from a place called Sumin's. Two tuna, two salmon, four yellowtail. Good stuff.

I'm exhausted. Gotta get up at 7:00 am so I can go to classes and get signatures for late registration. Oy. Going to pick UT2K4 up at Gamestop tomorrow, maybe swing by IF.

2:09 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
25 Mar. 2004 (Thu); Post #460
Hey, I'm in Coos Bay. My laptop didn't arrive, so I'm making this post from my grandmother's 1.2 GHz Duron. I don't know how she stands it; the monitor is at chest height and partially occluded by the tower and the keyboard is too low and it's one of those infernal "Natural" keyboards with the letters and numbers split down the middle and each half rotated towards the other ten degrees. Of course, these are all minor grievances compared to the most offputting detail, her internet connection. It's dialup. If I had my Inspiron, I'd probably have found a dozen hotspots by now, but stupid ol' Dell apparently decided at some point that it'd be a great idea to store their laptop batteries in different warehouses than the rest of their laptop parts. Arrgh, I hate Dell. I need to learn some Hindi swear words so I can give their customer support personnel a piece of my mind.

Anyway. Yesterday I drove my grandfather to the VA hospital in Roseburg, 90 miles away. Lots of pretty scenery. Met some really ...interesting... people while waiting in the mental health building. Earlier today, we both went to the barber to get haircuts. Unlike those snotty ogresses at Studio Sixty-Four in Pasco, these folks were actually fairly personable and even charged less ($8.00!).

Been watching a lot of Stargate SG-1 (season 6). It's okay, but I really hate the occasional sappy episode they throw in there. It seems like SG-1 finds an awful lot of scared alien girls with communication problems that Daniel/Jonas/Carter end up bonding with. It wouldn't be so bad if they'd lay off the "touching moment" music.

I didn't have anything to read on my flight down here, so I checked out the airport gift shop during my layover in Portland. I was lucky to find Lawrence Block's first Burglar book there. I really enjoyed his Hitman series, so I picked it up. It's good. I can't figure out when it's supposed to take place though... he doesn't mention dates or events, but he does talk about elevators being converted to self-service and a few other details that make me think 1950s.

There's not a lot to do here, so I'll prolly read some more, figure out the details on that MTG tourney tomorrow, and work on the next Upsidaisium session.

11:51 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
21 Mar. 2004 (Sun); Post #459
Saw Dawn of the Dead on Friday (Drew, Phill, Justin, and I went). We ended up seeing the (unlisted) 10:05 pm showing because the 8:05 pm showing was sold out. Very scary. It doesn't really compare it with the original though. They're definitely two different movies. For what it's worth, the original was much more terrifying in my opinion. But maybe that just means that I've built up a tolerance for this kind of thing.

I have three main objections to the movie: (1) the zombies are faster and (somewhat) smarter; (2) the cast was inflated (it includes a lot of zombie-fodder types; a big part of the setting is isolation); and (3) the film felt too localized.

But it really was good. Tom Savini had a funny cameo as a sheriff in a television interview.

Had the third Upsidaisium game on Saturday. Amazingly enough, no PCs died. A couple NPCs did though (as well as a multitude of woodland creatures, including a jackalope and a ninety-stone kodiak bear). Basically, everyone had a gypsy curse slapped on them that (theoretically) keeps the group together and promotes teamwork (or, at least, provides some deterrent for murdering each other).

Anyway, I'm going to Coos Bay, OR tomorrow (my flight's at 8:20 am). Still need to pack and clean my house/ write instructions for the lady who's taking care of my dogs (my parents are going to Disneyworld for the week). I should be returning sometime around 5:30 pm on March 31st, Sunday. Hopefully, I'll be able to update my site from Coos Bay. If anyone needs to contact me, just e-mail my Hotmail account or call my cell phone (you shouldn't need to dial an area code, but if you do it'll be 541).

3:37 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
19 Mar. 2004 (Fri); Post #458
Dawn of the Dead is showing at the Carmike tonight at 8:05 pm. Should be fun. Then, tomorrow, GURPS (Upsidaisium). If anyone wants to join the game, here're the parameters for character design: 200 points, maximum of -40 in disadvantages, up to -5 in quirks, no wealth level higher than comfortable. Additionally, here are some useful skills people tend to forget when making characters for this setting: Telegraphy, Riding (Equine), Driving (Steam Gurney), Savoir-Faire. Please contact me with your character concept before you actually build it.

8:19 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
16 Mar. 2004 (Tue); Post #457
Dawn of the Dead comes out on the 19th and Justin and I are definitely going to go see it. Anyone else who wants to come with is welcome. Though the schedules aren't out yet (I checked RegalCinemas.com, Carmike.com, and movies.Yahoo.com), it seems the film will be playing at the Columbia 8. We're shooting for a show time between 8:00 and 11:00 pm. Incidentally, you can download the first 8 minutes or so of the movie here [19.4 mB WMV].

Dawn of the Dead poster crop
Out Friday, March 19th.

"Eighty percent of success is showing up." — Woody Allen