Old News: March 20, 2003 to April 16, 2003

4:46 a.m. [GMT-8:00]
16 Apr. 2003 (Wed); Post #281
Fast update: this is the greatest thing ever. Go. Now.

4:21 a.m. [GMT-8:00]
16 Apr. 2003 (Wed); Post #280
GURPS game at 4:00 p.m. today. I sent out the Session #1 questions to all the current players ("HDHC_session 1 Qs.doc"). Filled out my own and sent it to Hanwool. Watched an episode of MST3K this morning (Mystery Science Theater 3,000, for those not in-the-know). "Space Mutiny." OMG, it was awful. You know the grandmother from Who's the Boss? She was in this, but as a romantic lead. Eaugh. Oh, wait, I just checked IMDb; looks like it was Cisse Cameron, not Katherine Helmond (Mona from Who's the Boss?).

Hanwool, Jones, and I went to Go Bowl again today. We were utterly crushed at DDR by this black/Mexican guy who scored a double-A on a four-noter (109 max combo!!). Of course, I have an excuse... I'm white. Today's MP3: Splashdown - Karma Slave.mp3 (3:26).

12:25 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
14 Apr. 2003 (Mon); Post #279
I like this little contest they're having at McDonald's right now. You peel a little plastic thing off your drink or fries and sometimes you win free food. So far, I've won a medium drink, a large fry, and a breakfast extra value meal. I'm surprised how good McDonald's coffee is. It's weird though; when I order it, they always ask me "Would you like cream and sugar?" I reply "Yes, please." And then I get the coffee and it doesn't have either in it. And there's none in the bag. Weird. Oh well, I bought Sweet & Low at 7-11 the other day. Been drinking a lot of tea, actually. My favorite is Orange Spice.

Hanwool's game went ahead on Saturday. Very bloody. We had one PC-death (and this was the first session!). And Ryan's were-lion got down to -92 hit points (eight more, and he'd 'ave been dead). Here's a quick synopsis of the session:
All of our characters appear in a dim, round, stone room. First, Ryan (a were-lion), then Phill (a TL9 genetically engineered soldier-turned-biker), then Justin (a vampire), then me (sentient, psionic, flying, giant, TL0 cuttlefish), then Drew (a Myddraal from Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series). As we appear, these strange fish-like humanoids try to cut us with a knife and collect our blood in a bowl. Then they try to make us drink it. Well, this goes over fairly well with everyone up to me.

My character decides these people coming at him with a knife are trying to harm him so he points his spear at them, then turns invisible and flies up towards the ceiling. Then he starts creating all kinds of confusion with his Photo- and Sonokinesis (the Sonokinesis, BTW, is from Emily Smirle's web site). Eventually, my character squirts ink at the fish-people and they use this instead of blood. They motion for me to drink the liquid... I dip an arm-tip in it and taste it. Poison! I start to get ready for battle, but then realize I can understand what they're saying now (and vice versa, although I'm mute and use a kind of sign language).

Drew pops through a portal. More chaos. Eventually he drinks the stuff too. We go with a leader-type guy (who we later learn is Prince Umbriel; "Umbriel," incidentally, is the 3rd moon of Uranus and a character from Pope's The Rape of the Lock, in which he is described as a "dusky, melancholy sprite") to a large horseshoe-shaped mud-brick castle. We feast (though they have the audacity to try and feed me freshwater shellfish).

Umbriel then takes us all to a peat bog a few miles from the village (all the land, except a few hills, seems to be swamps and bogs). Somehow, the fish-people managed to dig a big hole in the peat (I'm not too clear on this part; maybe the hole was in a hill near the bog). Anyway, we walk down some stairs and into this big chamber where there's statues of around twenty races and the preserved bodies of our ancestors on some altars (except the Myddraal). Umbriel (who turns out to be exceptionally long-winded) explains (and explains and explains...) that we were chosen to travel to his world because we are the descendants of some legendary heroes.

(Quick notes: the fish-people seem to be roughly TL2; they must be carnivores; their world has Earth-like gravity, pressure; they have two distinct genders, one of which tends to make for powerful psis; these ones seem to have a fairly large empire despite a lack of transportation; they have some weird crystal orb-things that turned the tip of my spear into crystal; Umbriel's reasons for bringing us here seem flimsy.)

Back in Umbriel's "palace" (big mud-hut), Drew tries to use his Aspect power on Ryan. Ryan morphs into a lion and tears Drew's throat out with a ST36 claw. Turns out Drew's blood was very acidic and Ryan takes a lot of damage. Then Justin attacks the lion (sticks a dagger in its neck). The lion and the vampire run into the other room and keep fighting. Roughly four hours of GURPS combat follows.

Net result: we're going to the capital with Ryan and Justin tied up very tightly. Phill and I worked out a trade deal (he gives me a "Blaster Pistol" in exchange for a male and female of my species; I figure my tribe can war with another and enslave a couple for such a powerful artifact).
It was a good game.

On Friday night, Hanwool and I went to Go Bowl (a local bowling alley with an arcade) and played Dance Dance Revolution. It was really good; better than my home setup, I think. I like the metal pads... too bad they're $120. Still, my $11.95 pad works almost as good. I think what made their system better was the light-up pad-squares and the positioning of the TV screens. We played (among others) Only You, The Twist, Eat You Up, and Oops I Did It Again.

Ryan had some surgery on Tuesday. He seems to be recovering okay (though he's been hopped-up on hydrocodine). Oh, Hanwool, Ryan and I went to Hayden's for dinner on Friday. I had the 10 oz. Top Sirloin (medium rare), Hanwool had the Chicken Almond Fettucine, and Ryan had the Cheese Tortellini. It was kinda funny, we ran into my parents there (they eat at Hayden's a lot; it's actually the only nice sit-down restaurant within three miles of our street).

Recently, I've watched Ghost Ship and When Harry Met Sally. Ghost Ship is kind of over-the-top, but it's decent if you don't mind the gore (and there is a lot of it; the first scene is the most graphic, actually). When Harry Met Sally was great. I'm surprised I hadn't seen it before. Billy Crystal has some really great lines in the movie (Sally: "I have just as much of a dark side as the next person." Harry: "Oh, really? When I buy a new book I always read the last page first. That way, in case I die before I finish, I know how it ends. That, my friend, is a dark side.").

Oh, I also saw Rounders (Edward Norton, Matt Damon). Okay movie. Not really remarkable, but not bad. Worth seeing.

I haven't been reading much lately. Last thing I read was Groovitude (a Get Fuzzy treasury). Very funny. Better than Dilbert. Not quite as good as Calvin & Hobbes. I definitely need to get down to the Bookworm. Maybe they have old issues of Analog. I got some 1960s issues at a library sale in Coos Bay, OR and they were great. I can even remember a couple of the stories really clearly.

Agh, this post is turning into a freaking novel, so I'll wrap it up. Today's MP3: J.Depp, M.Ross, I.Stoddart - Minor Swing.mp3 (2:11).

4/10/03: House, trees, sky.

The house, some trees, and the sky.

4:26 a.m. [GMT-8:00]
10 Apr. 2003 (Thu); Post #278
Here's the documents you need to fill out for the bonus 15 points in Hanwool's dimension-hopping campaign:
hanwool_game.zip [7.02 kB] — files in MS Word 2000 (.DOC) format.
Today's MP3: Ace of Base - The Sign.mp3 (3:12).

Hanwool playing DDR.

Hanwool playing Dance Dance Revolution on my media server. Score: 207,000 on Walkie Talkie.

3:41 a.m. [GMT-8:00]
9 Apr. 2003 (Wed); Post #277
Well, the Charter problems seem to have ended. The lady at the main office told me they had some hardware failures in Kennewick. Anyway. Looks like Hanwool's going to be GMing a campaign (probably with a rotating GM) this weekend. I have to do a solo-session for Justin tomorrow (today, technically) night.

My character for Hanwool's game is really cool. It's a 6-foot long cephalopod, specifically a cuttlefish. And it can swim through air. And some other neat stuff. I've been compiling information on its homeworld, racial package, etc. I'm going to use some of the stuff for a CotW submission (been talking to [sic] andi jones about that). I worked out some neat stuff for the creature's Ink ability.

Oh, here's something I've been meaning to mention: sickeningly abominable sitcoms. There are some amazingly bad ones out this season. Here's a quick list (from the worst to the less-worse):
      1. The Pitts
2. According to Jim
3. 8 Simple Rules for something-something
4. Good Morning, Miami
5. Ed

The Pitts is the worst show I've ever seen. Bad casting, a stupid gimmick, way too much canned laughter, horrible dialogue, atrocious writing... I don't think it will be around 4 episodes from now. At least Cedric The Entertainer is on hiatus. Hopefully, that means it'll be officially canceled soon. Actually, I can think of one show on the same level of awfulness as The Pitts; The Hughleys. Man, that was one bad show. Mostly because of D.L. Hughley's inability to act. He should've stuck to standup. Not that I much liked that either. It was less painful than his sitcom though.

Oh, I found out one of my favorite GURPS resources has been updated: StarGen. It's a solar system generator. I used it back when it was a pure DOS app that outputted to TXT files. Now it's command line but outputs to HTML with tables and even a little picture of the system's planets. Very cool. I used it to generate my character's planet (Terrestrial, 1.744 atm, 1.12 Gs, 68.8% water coverage, etc.). Very fun to play with.

I ordered a 120 GB IBM hard drive from Maxim PC. And a mounting kit from Directron. Did that on the 4th, so they should be here soon... maybe Friday. I'll finally be able to put all the movies on the media server. Right now, they're spread across Tabatha and Chesty. And Chesty's getting kinda full (even with 160 GBs, I only have 28.9 GB free—less than 20%). Oh well. Played DDR with Jones and Hanwool earlier this evening. Fun. Top scores: Me: 29,600. Ryan: 58,900. Hanwool: 193,000. Damn Hanwool and his superior coordination. Oh well, I can mock him for sucking at BF1942... Today's MP3: Captain Jack - Drill Instructor.mp3 (4:11).

Captain Jack

Captain Jack (a kinda obscure German music group)

12:00 a.m. [GMT-8:00]
3 Apr. 2003 (Thu); Post #276
Gah, Charter (my cable internet access provider) has been very flaky lately. I get these 1-5 minute service interruptions. Meanwhile, they're trying to charge me for two connections; some idiot at their offices filed something that says they arranged a connection for 3004 (which is total chicanery, the one connection I have is at 2912). Anyway, they want $200 for the nonexistent hookup. I ask them what they want me to do; they reply, "Bring in proof that you don't live at 3004." I can't believe I have to deal with this kind of monumental imbecility. And, to top it off, you cannot call the local office (which I must contact to fix this). No, you have to go down there in person and wait some 15 minutes to talk to yet another idiot who spends 15 minutes trying to understand the problem, then redirects you to, yes, another powerless idiot.

Well, in lighter news, I put my ramen bowls (well, one of them) to use. I got dried seaweed, rice, ramen (24 packages—$4.00), seaweed crackers, and Miso soup mix at Food Pavillion. Oh, and one-fourth of an octopus. I didn't know what to do with the head part, but I cleaned and sliced the two tentacles into the soup. It was okay, kinda chewy. Octopus doesn't seem to have much taste to it. Made the kitchen smell fishy though.

That reminds me of an anecdote. I don't brew my own coffee very much. Well, about two months ago, one night before I had to get up very early, I had the bright idea to set the coffee machine up so all I'd have to do in the morning was flip a switch. Well, predictably, I totally forgot about it. Today (about two months later) I opened the coffee maker to find a truly revolting formation of green, powdery mold in the filter section. I threw it out immediately (I didn't have the presence of mind to take a photo).

Okay, so it wasn't what most ppl would call an interesting anecdote. Still. I'm off to trip the light fantastic to the euphony of Captain Jack's "Only You." Today's MP3: Captain Jack - Take On Me.mp3 (5:30).

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8:02 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
2 Apr. 2003 (Wed); Post #275
I'll try to make this quick. I got my Dance Dance Revolution pad. It works, but the game is much harder with it. Updated Random GURPS Ideas. Looks like I'm a CotW contributor now (I told andi I'd avg. 1 submission per month). Gikiski pointed out that SJ Games ran a good April Fools joke in the Daily Illuminator: GURPS 4th edition. Heh.

Spent most of the morning-early-afternoon editing pictures from a 4-H fashion show. While PSP7 has support for batch file conversions, it does not yet support batch filter applications, resizing, etc. Also, I had to fix red-eye on about 70% of the pics, adjust brightness/contrast properly, and crop the photos. 159 pics, 83 made it past screening... final result: a 2.60 MB self-extracting zip file.

Changed my bedding, in the process of getting all my clothes laundered, put up that Hiroshige poster I've had lying around since Christmas (kept meaning to get it framed), made-up the day-bed with some cushions that came in the mail (have a cover too, somewhere). My mom gave me a couple really cool Japanese ramen bowls w/ matching spoons (pic below). Today's MP3: Julie Andrews - Kale Mazzel Tov.mp3 (4:01).

04/02/03: Ramen bowls.
Get Fuzzy link button
My two ramen bowls with matching spoons. Mm, ramen.

1:06 a.m. [GMT-8:00]
1 Apr. 2003 (Tue); Post #274
Oh my God, I can't believe Phillip's dead! It's so sad... I mean, what were the odds of his sister losing control of the truck and swerving into that oncoming semi? I haven't gotten a date for the funeral from his family yet, but it'll probably be in Richland. Flowers can be sent to Sheree in room #122 at Kadelec.

Okay, okay, April Fools! Of course, I probably shouldn't joke about ppl being dead. Did that on the GURPS list back in 2001 ("Steve Jackson dead at 45!"). It was not well received. I finally submitted that character to [sic] andi jones. I've watched the movies Donnie Darko and The Ring. Darko wasn't very satisfying. It wasn't a bad film, I guess, but the points it makes aren't really worthy of two hours and a multi-million dollar budget, IMHO. It might've made a great 15-page short story or something. Near as I can tell, the movie boils down to—well, I won't ruin it for you. Anyway, The Ring was quite good. Not especially scary (though it does have some really startling moments and some creepy-gore type stuff), but very interesting. Kind of sad, too.

I forgot to mention it last time, but I finished American Gods (returned it to Jones) and started The Exotic Enchanter. I can't get into this new book. For one thing, the whole thing takes place in some Russian opera. And not an especially exciting opera at that. I think I'll give it up and stop by the Book Worm on my way to school tomorrow. Too bad, because I remember The Compleat Enchanter being a good read. I really want to get some more Chuck Palahnuik books... particularly, Choke. Or maybe Lawrence Block if I can find it (though I don't know if I'll like his other stuff as much as the Keller books).

Scored 3.2 million on Dream a Dream in Dance Dance Revolution. Last night was a new Futurama, Simpsons, Oliver Beene, Malcolm in the Middle, and Dragnet. Oh, yes. Finally, some good stuff. Beefy and I ate pizza and watched. Earlier tonight, there was a "champion whistler" on the Late Show; really amazing. The guy's name was Michael Barimo.

Bunch of stuff going on in the GURPS campaign. Go to the Theomundi page to check it out (some things have been updated, including the timeline and the Misc Advantages file).

My Pocket English-Korean Dictionary came in the mail today. It's kewl; it has the Han-gul characters as well as the romanized words. Today's MP3: Madonna - Like a Prayer.mp3 (5:50).

3/30/03: Magnolias
Magnolias in the front yard on a cool, sunny morning.

4:31 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
25 Mar. 2003 (Tue); Post #273
Yesterday, I got a photo in the mail from Mrs. Nancy Kress! (Pictures below.) She was very kind to send it; she even mentions my name on it. I sent her a thank you e-mail (she, of course, doesn't put a return address on her outgoing mail).

Miscellaneous news:
  • I got a reply from andi jones (you have to spell his name with lowercase letters like that... I think there's a law or something). There's a chance CotW might come back. Also, he isn't dead.
  • I scored 774,900 on "Only You" on Dance Dance Revolution, typing.
  • Beefy, Phillip, Hanwool, Justin, Ryan, and I are playing GURPS tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. and Phill'll get his 3rd apotheosis.
  • I'm roughly halfway through American Gods. Kinda surprised it's taking me this long, but it's a very good book.
  • I actually bought GURPS Character Assistant 2.2. Armin Sykes was quick to reply to a minor problem I had with the purchase; very considerate.

Well, that's all. Time for class. Today's MP3: Unknown - Looking for Clues.mp3 (3:58). (I know, it's a Robert Palmer song, but I think someone remade it or something; I don't think it's him singing on this track.)

my wall

Framed picture of Nancy Kress
My framed, signed picture of Nancy Kress, author.

2:56 a.m. [GMT-8:00]
24 Mar. 2003 (Mon); Post #272
I don't know what's going on with my Battlefield 1942... I go to log on to a server earlier in the evening and it says "Invalid CD key." WTF! I have a legit copy. $50 at Circuit City. $54 with tax. OMG. Well, my first thought was that one of the ppl who comes over to my house nicked my BF1942 key. So, I asked Phill, Beefy, Hanwool. Zilch. So, now I'm thinking some sleaze-bag out there managed to either (a) steal my key from my machine, (b) steal my key off one of the servers that authenticates said key, or (c) use some kind of precise key generator to randomly create a key that, coincidentally, is the same as mine. All these possibilities seem rather unlikely to me. Anyway, I e-mailed EA Games' warranty info ppl about it (the only really relevant dept. I could find to complain to). Hmm... OST, add to the previous list: (d) some person who's been in my house really did nick my key.

I downloaded Dance Dance Revolution 4th Mix. Been playing it a bit. I can get solid B's on the 1-3 level basic tracks. I did really well on "Only You" (score pic below). I ordered a DDR pad and PC adapter from Level Six. I'm going to hook it up to my rackmount media server (Olivia) in the living room. Then I'll have a complete system, TV and all, without having to get the Playstation game. I even read about this easy-to-do mod for 3rd-party pads that makes them have better grip and slip less.

Been playing around Analyzer 2.2 from NetGroup, which is basically a packet sniffer. The upshot: if I wanted to, I could read any AIM message sent from any computer on my LAN. Woo. Still messing with it. ION, American Gods is getting really good. Crap, we should have a book club or something. It's fun talking to Jones about Gaiman's work. Well, then again, that might not work out so well. Generally, I don't think of most of my friends as being particularly belletristic. Not to say they're stupid... well, okay, maybe a few... but they're probably smarter, on average, than Joe Sixpack.

Anyway... for some reason, I feel like playing Nomic. Oh well, it'll pass. Phill introduced me to a simple, but surprisingly enjoyable card game this weekend: Ninety-Nine. Here are the rules for Ninety-Nine. Today's MP3: Dance Dance Revolution - Only You.mp3 (1:23).

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6:40 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
23 Mar. 2003 (Sun); Post #271
Lots of GURPS this week. In three sessions, I think most everybody will have reached their 3rd apotheosis, minus Drew (in California) and JD (preoccupied with his current S.O.). Here's a sketchy timeline of the campaign. Keep in mind that we started the game in September of 2002 (real time), but the game actually started in the spring of 2000.
  • June 2, 2000: An archeology team (members mostly from American universities) in the Panaltoliko mountains, Greece, uncovers an ancient monument. Within a week, some kind of catastrophe occurs, killing 18 porters, archeologists, and interns. Three days later, there's some kind of riot in a Karpenisi hospital, leaving 6 soldiers (4 Greek, 2 American) dead.
  • June 16, 2000: A nuclear blast in the Aegean destroys the island of Piperi. A terrorist group, Bloody Eight, is blamed.
  • January 23, 2001: Arthur Evansley, a member of the British parliament, commits suicide at his home in London. He leaves a cryptic note apologizing to his dead wife, Evelyn.
  • September 24, 2001: The wedding of Erica Patterson-Montegue to Derek Letter (Angelia and Zephryos). The former is the step-daughter of famed Wyoming billionaire Jerry Patterson (Khrysos).
  • September 10, 2001: Jacob Demwa, a newspaper columnist for the Chicago Sun, fights and kills his editor, Geoff Ericson, at the newspaper's offices after setting his home on fire. There is some confusion, as eyewitnesses report seeing Demwa's identical twin at the scene. (It's later discovered that Demwa was an only child.)
  • April 11, 2002: The NSA and Interpol raid a small house in Los Angeles, California where members of the terrorist group, Bloody Eight, are reported to be living. Five agents are killed, and one permanently blinded, in the raid. No arrests are made.
  • October 29, 2002: An office building in Valencia, Venezuala is bombed, killing 47 people. It is believed that the bomber remained in the building during the blast, killing himself. Motive is unknown.
  • November 22, 2002: America goes to war with Iraq.
  • December 29, 2002: A 10 megaton nuclear bomb is detonated in Seattle, Washington. More than 110,000 people die.
  • February 21, 2003: Carol and Barbara Lansing murdered brutally at a convenience store in Sacramento, CA in broad daylight. Killer flees on foot towards a camp-grounds, no arrests made.
  • March 14, 2003: A 17 year old girl, Cindy Cartwright, is abducted from the ICU of a New York city hospital by four or five unknown men. She was in need of both heart and liver transplants.
  • June 9, 2003: Over the course of three months (until August), a string of murders, almost one per night, keeps police in Cheju, South Korea baffled. More than 80 people are killed on the island's beaches, in nearly all cases between 7 p.m. and 5 a.m.
  • October 25, 2003: A bizzare weather phenomenon causes 6 tons of snow to be deposited behind a Denny's in Everett, WA. One police officer's account of a malfunctioning snow-machine is discounted when insufficient evidence is found.
  • November 2, 2003: Confusion at a police department in San Angelo, Texas when items are stolen from the evidence lockers at one in the afternoon. Two officers injured, no arrests made.
  • November 24, 2003: Five infants are killed in a hospital in Cheju, S. Korea. Video footage shows a caucasian man, dressed all in black, committing the murders with surprising calmness. No witnesses saw the man enter or leave the building.
  • February 7, 2005: North Korea declares war on U.S.
  • November 5, 2005: Pres. Lieberman assassinated by an unknown sniper at a press conference on the white house lawn. Vice Pres. Hillary Clinton takes his office in a ceremony three days later.
The details might not all be quite right, but that's generally how things are now. It'll be interesting to see what happens next.

I'd write more, but my dinner just arrived from Casa Mia. Today's MP3: Dance Dance Revolution - The 7 Jump.mp3 (1:27).

Sunset at 6:35, after a light rain.

2:51 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
20 Mar. 2003 (Thu); Post #270
Post #270. 4.71 radians. Three quarters of a circle. Or something like that. Nevermind. Some ppl were saying on the news how the tension before the war was bad for the stock market, but I just checked my portfolio and it's up 11.83% since January 1st. Amazon has been doing amazingly well (85.1% ROI since I bought it!). Anyway.

Had lunch at Guajardo's in Pasco. Had the three chicken enchiladas w/ beans and rice plate. Good. Before the meal, I helped Connie (who runs the place) set up her 2003 payroll spreadsheets on her computer. It's kinda neat, even though she's not too computer/electronics savvy, she managed to get the restaurant's sound system hooked up to the computer; it plays these Mexican MP3s all day in the background.

GMed GURPS games for the past two nights. On Tuesday, it was Hanwool, Ryan, JD, and Beefy. Last night, it was Drew (solo session). Some neat, but not especially important, stuff happened. I'm GMing another game tonight for pretty much everyone. Drew and Beefy are scheduled to undergo their 2nd apotheoses. I re-did the GURPS page in the new style and added a link to the Theomundi page. Added two new advantages to Misc Advantages.doc: Kirlian Eye and Know Lifespan. I'm occasionally working on a GURPS character for the new Character of the Week (CotW) on the GURPSnet mailing list... I'm not sure about the status of this new feature; I e-mailed Andi Jones about it (I'd rather see the old CotW, which he edited and contributed to, come back with more contributors).

I finished Stinger and have started American Gods, which Jones lent me. So far (p. 92), it's every bit as good as he said it was. After I finish it, I might check out another book by this Neil Gaiman guy. Or maybe I'll read the next Probability book by Kress. Or maybe finally get around to reading The Exotic Enchanter by de Camp. Anyway.

Today's MP3: Mike Altman and Johnny Mandel - Suicide is Painless.mp3 (2:52).

3/20/03: Sunny Day, Daffodils
Daffodils in my backyard on a sunny, but blustery, spring day.

"People often grudge others what they cannot enjoy themselves." — Aesop