10:47 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
9 Feb. 2006 (Thu); Post #635
Holy crap, Jones got a blog! I guess he's officially awesome now.

Didja hear there are going to be four Futurama movies? I can't wait... too bad the first one won't be out till early '07.

I found an MP3 I'd been looking for forever (thank you, Jordan Spencer!) — a clean recording of the choral version of The Sign from the movie Slackers. Sadly, it lacks the drums the original had, but it's still pretty awesome. Slackers - The Sign.mp3 (3.52 MB).

This story I saw on BoingBoing was pretty interesting (and more than a little creepy): Wasp performs roach-brain-surgery to make zombie slave-roaches. Short version: This particular variety of wasp injects a venom into a specific part of a roach's brain to erase its fear response and make it highly suggestible to the point where the wasp can lead it around by an antenna. Then it seals the roach in its lair, lays some eggs, and lets its larva burrow into the zombified roach to eat and mature.

I got an ISO of Tokobot running on my PSP with UMD Emulator 0.8c. Really cool stuff. The settings were kind of tricky to work out though... here's a text file I made so I'd have the right info in case I had to format my memory stick or something. Anyway, it's one of the better platformers I've played in a while. I had some gripes about the camera positioning, but then I found out you can reorient it by pressing L1 or select.

Been doing some cooking lately... here are some dishes I made: spinach and fried/baked chicken breast (pic), fettucine and cheese tortellini pasta with olive oil, sauteed mushrooms, snap peas, and spinach and chicken (pic), and chili (pic). These Emeril spices my mom got me when I moved in were very handy.

Tried playing The Movies (PC game) the past couple days. It's okay, but it gets repetitive after a while. I really like designing the studio lot, but the custom script writing feature has too steep a learning curve for a game, IMHO. I'm trying to find something new... thinking about giving Fable or PoPoLoCrois a whirl.

Almost up to 6000 posts on AnandTech... kinda scary.

Campania, Italy
"Wedding Cake Hill" in Campania, Italy. (1600x1200; 529 KB)

9:53 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
2 Feb. 2006 (Thu); Post #634
I drove to Spokane this past weekend to see my friend Brett. Lots of fun, played Amplitude for the first time, had a really great turkey/apple focaccia sandwich. But on my way back to Seattle Sunday night the Dept. of Transportation closed Snoqualmie pass for avalanche control and I ended up having to spend the night at a motel in Cle Elum. Actually, the Stewart Lodge was really nice... much better than what I'd expected for the money. The pass reopened at 10am on Monday and I got home just a bit after noon. Apparently that was the longest pass closure thus far this season.

I ordered the Blanks CD... they're the acapella group from Scrubs ("Ted's Band"). Really looking forward to listening to that. I love their version of the Charles in Charge theme song.

BTW, Brett showed me this really awesome musical artist, Matisyahu — he's a Hasidic Jew who does reggae. Really great stuff. Check out the "King Without a Crown" video on his web site.

Random interesting links:

Funny USB drives. A gallery. I think the roe sushi one is pretty cool.

The MPAA actually pirates movies themselves. News from Ars Technica. Looks like they had a Senator Orrin Hatch moment.

Clikclak. A really neat CG QuickTime movie. It has robots and Rube Goldberg machines. How can you lose?

Bunny Suicides. A really amusing collection of single-panel comics about suicidal rabbits.

Bullet Pictures. High speed photography done with bullets and cards and chalk at the Edgerton Center.

Fear of Girls
. A really funny/pathetic short movie about a couple D&D nerds. Google Video, 11 minutes.

Sie and Hir. An interesting Wikipedia entry I found about gender-neutral pronouns. I've been seeing this a lot in science fiction dealing with AIs. IIRC, it's used a lot in Transhuman Space.

My TiVo recently locked up on me and I had to power-cycle it to restore functionality... turns out when you do that you lose your 30-second skip feature if you've programmed it in. So here's the button sequence just in case I need to do it again:

Tivo 30-sec skip sequence

Okay, here're some random pictures I liked.

Law & Order Batman
Batman would've been much cooler if he had been Lenny Briscoe's partner.

Laputa sketch
A huge sketch of Laputa ("Castle in the Sky"). (3543x2499; 2.48 MB)

Laputa sketch
High-res photo of the New Horizons launch. (2000x3008; 544 KB)

Pencil drawing

For some reason this reminded me of Jones.

9:14 a.m. [GMT-8:00]
17 Jan. 2006 (Tue); Post #633
So back on the 4th my host, DreamHost, gave all the customers with a certain service plan a huge boost in bandwidth and storage; I now have 20 gigs of storage and a terabyte of bandwidth! Granted, my server-side CPU time is limited, but I don't have any databases or complex scripts, so it doesn't affect me much. Anyway, if anyone needs some temporary hosting, let me know.

A couple people asked me to post my schedule since it's kind of weird this quarter, so here:

Did you know Chuck Norris actually responded to the "random Chuck Norris facts" sites and emails? He used the opportunity to hawk his books, but I still thought it was pretty cool of him.

I started doing distributed computing again. I'm using the BOINC client... currently devoting 23% of my resources to Einstein@home and 76% to SETI@home. I'm on the Anandtech teams for both projects. Kinda felt bad about leaving the computer on all the time while I'm not using it. (Now that I have TiVo, I hardly even BitTorrent anymore.)

I downloaded and played with MegaMek. It's an unofficial online version of the BattleTech board game. Robert and I had a 60-ton-limit skirmish using level 1 tech... it was a close match, but he beat me with a lucky critical hit on my 35-tonner.

Spy — a simple Flash game. You move around by clicking on the numbered boxes... the goal is to cross as many boxes as possible without running into a "used" box, a bomb, or an edge. Remember, you can move diagonally. So far, my high score is 6500.

Speaking of Flash, this animation, The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny amused me. The music is nice... kind of an alternative/emo part-acoustic semi-rap thing. You can download the song (by Lemon Demon) here.

Real quick, to summarize recent Hank-related events: I've been watching Scrubs season 2 and class started last week. CIM (essentially "advanced Photoshop") is the most intimidating; apparently the instructor almost never gives out A's and our first project is pretty tough. Been helping Brett with a web site he's working on... it's basically like OnTheIssues.org, but for the Washington state legislature. Ordered the YMCK CD. Been drinking a lot of ginger ale.

Arrested Development Star Wars parody poster. Really amazing work on Gob and Lindsay. (1000x1432; 191 KB)

3:21 a.m. [GMT-8:00]
9 Jan. 2006 (Mon); Post #632
Arg, been putting off updating this thing for a long time.

Here's a really basic summary of events from the last post: The gang and I played GURPS (one adventure set in Reich-4, took two sessions to complete), my family had Christmas (I got a TiVo — it's awesome, plus some DVDs, office supplies, a knife set with woodblock, and cash from my grandpa), I got some great (and surprisingly cheap) clothes at the Burlington Coat Factory in Kennewick, and I did some computer work for a couple people (there was another I never got to, unfortunately).

I came home right before New Year's. Snoqualmie pass got shut down for three hours while I was on it... then I had to put on tire chains when it was reopened. I shouldn't have bothered; I just had to take them off a few miles later. Doing that in the snow, in the dark, with no gloves really sucks. Practically shredded my hands and forearms. Made it to Seattle just in time to take a quick shower (I was pretty muddy) and pick up Brett from the airport. Jones and Paige joined us at my apartment for New Year's Eve and Day. Beefy would've come, but he was afraid to take a bus home. Brett left on Friday and I've been watching DS9 season 5 and waiting for school to start. I have Argumentation and Debate tomorrow at 12:00pm.

Oh yeah, finished Counting Heads. It was really good; has a lot of Transhuman Space elements in it — VIs (called "valets" and "mentars"), clones (treated basically the same way as bioroids), ubiquitous surveillance, an L5 jungle, shadows ("proxies" and "sims"), and cybershells ("arbeitors," though in CH they never really interact with people; they're just mute, remote controlled appendages for "houseputers"). Marusek throws a lot of new artificial terminology at you, which I really enjoy... each one is kind of a linguistic puzzle that you're given hints for in the next few lines, pages, or chapters. I remember a couple words where the definitions were very well hidden and didn't even appear until many chapters later. Anyway, there were a lot of different characters (maybe thirty? all together; about a half-dozen of those being really important), but they were remarkably easy to keep track of since they were all so different (even in the case of the same-germline clones, funnily enough). The book had an oddly abrupt ending though. It seemed to me like it ought to have been about fifty pages longer. Still, a really fun read.

Dunno what I'm going to read next... I have three or four graphic novels waiting for me, plus a science fiction short story collection. All caught up on The Walking Dead, Y: The Last Man, KoDT, and PvP though. Right now I'm in the middle of the first Fables trade paperback... it's kind of like Top Ten but with fairytale characters instead of superheroes, robots, vampires, cybernetic dogs, etc. Actually, it's a little more like the Smax mini-series, but set in modern-day New York City. It reminds me of the slower parts of the Sandman series.

Here's a really neat Java simulation I've been playing with for the past few days: Falling Sand. It doesn't really have a point; it's just a really basic, abstract particle-physics engine that lets you draw in different materials. Here're a couple "environments" I made with it (they're only about 12 KB each): biosphere, antfarm.

I don't know if this is a real sculpture or not, but it's pretty awesome regardless. If you're not familiar with Miyazaki, it's one of the worker/defender robots from Laputa: Castle in the Sky. (980x1470; 220 KB)

10:53 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
20 Dec. 2005 (Tue); Post #631
Okay, so the quarter's done at AIS. Yay.

Paige came down from Bellingham last Thursday. We went shopping, had sushi, and played Trivial Pursuit and lots of Super Monkeyball (mostly golf and billiards). Lots of fun. Started driving to the Tri-Cities around noon on Friday. The pass was totally clear, roads were good. We listened to Dane Cook’s "Retaliation" comedy CD (highly recommended by Beefy) on the trip — very funny. Especially the baby-punching and ice-cream-smashed-into-face bits. Actually, the baby-punching part nearly killed Paige. Good stuff. (The jokes, not Paige almost dying.) In my personal hierarchy of comedians, I think Dane Cook would rank fourth, behind Patton Oswalt, Daniel Tosh, and Maria Bamford; slightly ahead of Elvira Kurt.

Jones, Paige, and I hung out at Beefy’s a lot Saturday and Sunday. Sunday was Beefy’s birthday party. His grandma Buella (hereafter "Thundercat") made a truly scrundelescent ice cream cake. Lots of gaming, great entertainment. Sunday’s Family Guy was possibly the best episode yet; so many nerd references. The Lumberg cameo was amazing. Beefy and I played a truly sick amount of Trivial Pursuit 90s.

Monday night I hung out at Beefy’s again. Played more Trivial Pursuit 90s. I’m awesome at the yellow questions. Then we watched this really, really awesome movie, The Baxter. The first half of the movie is a lot better than the second, but the ending wasn’t too bad. I was a little disappointed that they caved to convention and gave it a happy one. Beefy and I are in agreement that Michael Showalter is a genius. I think Beefy nearly wet himself at the Paul Rudd appearance. Which reminds me — the deleted scenes on the 40 Year-Old Virgin DVD are phenomenal. Maybe the best “special features” material I’ve seen on a DVD.

Been preparing for an Infinite Worlds/ISWAT GURPS game; I’ve finished Beefy and Paige’s characters, will do Jones’ tonight. Hopefully we can game Friday night or sometime on Christmas Eve. If not, there’s always next week.

Did some Christmas shopping with my sister tonight. I also got some good pants at American Eagle Outfitters, a book on Blackberry hacks, and a ZipZaps RC car (the Aston Martin DB5). The ZipZap is a ton of fun to play with, but I can’t get the chassis to sit right without interfering with the steering, even after filing down part of the frame. Oh well, it’s faster without the chassis anyway. Great for chousing the cats.

12:41 a.m. [GMT-8:00]
13 Dec. 2005 (Tue); Post #630
Finals. Ugh.

My friend Brett was in town this weekend — we had sushi, went to the Pike Place Market, and saw the Chronicles of Narnia at the AMC theater in Pacific Plaza. The sushi was good; Brett hadn't had it before and especially liked the tempura-style Las Vegas roll and eel. I'd only been to the Pike Place Market once before (when I was here for a convention in 1999)... tons to see. Definitely going back there to do some Christmas shopping later this week. Brett showed me this amazing doughnut place (pictured below).

Daily Dozen Doughnut Company. (1200x900; 330 KB)

We hit a few other shops in there. I picked up some soy sauce and pocky, he found a good deal on an REM vinyl record. The movie was pretty good. My only complaints were that some of the phony English accents were a little grating after a while and a couple scenes were too cloying (but I guess that's inevitable in a Disney movie with child protagonists). Overall, it was decent. A little better than Aeon Flux, IMHO. Surprisingly violent. We were about a half-hour early for the film so we had some drinks and fries at Johnny Rockets before heading into the theater. That place has really good service for a burger joint.

Paige is coming down by bus on Thursday. We're going to have sushi and drive to the Tri-Cities Friday afternoon. Hopefully the old group (unfortunately sans our loud Korean and scary MiB) can do some gaming Saturday night. And I think Sunday night is Beefy's birthday party, so that'll be fun. He and Jones might come up to Seattle after New Year's which would be awesome cuz we could all go see Jesus is Magic. It's directed by the same guy who's directing the Tenacious D movie.

Oh yeah, also, Robert Richter, a friend from grade school (and possibly the person most responsible for my geekitude) IMed me; apparently he's in the Tri-Cities again. Hopefully I'll be able to get him to do some gaming with us. I'm sure he'd really like Settlers of Catan.

Saw this funny (and slightly mind-bending) exchange from Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead posted on Slashdot in the comments about a poll on "nothingness":
Rosencrantz: Do you think that Death could possibly be a boat?
Guildenstern: No, no, no... Death is "not." Death isn't. Take my meaning? Death is the ultimate negative. Not-being. You can't not be on a boat.
Rosencrantz: I've frequently not been on boats.
Guildenstern: No, no... What you've been is not on boats.
I caught the pilot of Saddle Rash on Adult Swim last night — Beefy and I both liked it. Loren Bouchard and H. Jon Benjamin (better known as Coach McGurk) are both involved and there are some obvious similarities in style to Home Movies. Even though it's a western about an armless cowboy. Pretty funny and I loved the animation. Oh yeah, and Sarah Silverman does one of the voices. I hope it turns into something.

James (another AnandTecher) sent me this link to an article about nerd tattoos. Some pretty amusing images in there. My favorite is the Megaman tattoo about 3/4 down the page.

Next time I'll post the Firefly cosplayer pictures I found on WAKA. But for now here's an image of scenes from the Pike Place Market (I love this little Exilim camera):

(1200x900; 319 KB)

3:25 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
8 Dec. 2005 (Thu); Post #629
I got a call from my doctor this morning; she'd run a more thorough culture on my throat swab from last Friday. Apparently I did have strep throat, it was just a Group G streptococcal infection, which she tells me is pretty uncommon. The previous swab only tested for a Group A infection, so that's why it didn't show up. Anyway, I've been on antibiotics since Sunday and haven't felt any symptoms since Monday. This Dr. Heinen seems to be a lot better at her job than Dr. Tsai, who I saw two weeks before her.

BTW, just ordered a used copy of Counting Heads by David Marusek off Amazon. Looks promising. I really enjoyed his short story, The Wedding Album.

Some interesting links:

List of Texas Inmates' Last Meals. The last meals and offender information for about three hundred criminals executed between 1982 and 2003 in Texas. My favorite menu: #271.

Top Thirty Random Facts about Chuck Norris. To wit: "Chuck Norris once ate three 72 oz. steaks in one hour. He spent the first 45 minutes having sex with his waitress."

Pumpkingutter.com. Some really amazing pumpkin carvings by Scott Cummins. I especially liked the Napoleon Dynamite carving.

Gorillaz: Feel Good Inc. Live. A "live" video of Gorillaz playing at the MTV Europe Music Awards. Nifty CG, Quicktime format.

How to Fold a Shirt Out of a $1 Bill. Mildly amusing, something to try if you find yourself bored out of your skull.

12:07 a.m. [GMT-8:00]
8 Dec. 2005 (Thu); Post #628
Well, I saw Aeon Flux Monday night. It was so-so. Would've been a lot better if the writer had taken 8th grade science. Plus there were a couple little details they never explain (the four hundred year old man who could turn invisible, the device that apparently sent people to alternate dimensions). Still, the effects were good, Charlize Theron isn't a bad actor, lots of gadgets and nifty sci fi doodads, interesting fight scenes... cheesy dialogue, but that's to be expected with that kind of movie.

On Tuesday night I saw Mamma Mia with my mom and Laura. Really great. Act I was definitely better than Act II, but the encore songs the whole cast did at the very end were also great. The best part was this number where the guys came out doing this hilarious high-kick line dance in flippers and snorkel masks. Fantastic music (but, then, I've been an ABBA fan for some time). They didn't do nearly enough with Take a Chance on Me... the Thank You for the Music song was really well done though. When the thing first started with these three girls reading this other girl's mom's diary I was afraid it was going to really suck, but it was great. Really corny, but in a good way. I guess all musicals are a little corny... it's a pretty ridiculous idea after all — people just bursting into song over every little event. Oh yeah, I wanted to make note of Laura Ware and Robert Pendilla; they seemed especially talented.

Anyway, I ordered GURPS Powers and GURPS Banestorm from Warehouse 23. Really looking forward to them. Hoping to GM a couple GURPS games when I'm home for Christmas (driving home next Friday, woot). Oh yeah, Paige might be coming with me. Hope she likes Dane Cook and ABBA, haha.

The last Arrested Development episode was sooo funny. Only seven more left in the whole series...

And now, a random sampling of images I enjoy before I go to bed. Ciao!

Nothing Nice MySpace comic

The Blue Raja
Hank Azaria as The Blue Raja.

weird anime expression
Just thought it was a really weird expression.

15-megabyte hard disk drive

10:41 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
2 Dec. 2005 (Fri); Post #627
Still sick. Sore throat got worse (really swollen; breathing, swallowing, and speaking is difficult). I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow at the UW Medicine place on 2nd. There's a really great little cafe next door to it that I've been eating at lately since Biofournil (the downstairs bakery/cafe) has been closed for remodeling. They make really fantastic fries and a very good roast beef and havarti on sourdough.

Oh, yeah, so when I was driving home for Thanksgiving last week I saw this bright orange flash reflected off the tops of the trees surrounding an apple orchard on WA-243 near Desert Aire. I kept driving for about a mile or mile and a half and saw a car burning in the orchard about forty feet off the road. I stopped and turned on my hazard lights and shouted to see if anyone was alive before calling 911. It took the fire chief about twenty minutes to get there... here are some pictures I snapped while I waited:

car fire in the orchard

VW Jetta on fire
(1200x784; 422 KB)

car fire in the orchard
(1200x900; 602 KB)

I exchanged email with the Grant county fire chief, Dave Hargroves, and he told me it was stolen from the Tri-Cities — nobody was inside when it caught fire. Anyway, kind of exciting.

Some more pictures:

thanksgiving dinner
Thanksgiving dinner. (1000x654; 171 KB)

Family the day after Thanksgiving
The fam — from left to right, Dad, Mom, Sister, Grandma, Grandpa, Cousin, Uncle.

Thanksgiving day night I went over to Beefy's dad's place on Rd. 64 and he, Jones, Kevin, and I played darts, billiards, Fluxx 3.0, and Apples to Apples. In Apples to Apples there's a point where the judge for the round reads off a word and its synonyms... Jones got "delicate," so he goes "Delicate: fine, dainty, fragile," then, in a soft, high voice, "Paige." If you know Paige, this is quite hilarious. Anyway, much fun was had by all.

Jones and Beefy playing darts.

Friday night I drove up to Spokane after wishing my grandparents a happy 50th wedding anniversary. Spent the weekend with Brett, Justin (different Justin), and some other folks. Went to a party, played videogames, watched movies. Lotsa fun. When I drove back to Seattle on Sunday the pass was totally clear.

Oh yeah, speaking of weather, it snowed here yesterday. Of course, it all melted when it hit the ground, but it was coming down pretty hard for a while.

4:56 a.m. [GMT-8:00]
20 Nov. 2005 (Sun); Post #626
Ummm... so here's what's been happening lately: Finished Thud! (ranks about the same as The Fifth Elephant, IMHO), saw the Harry Potter movie (it was okay, maybe not quite as good as the previous one), switched to boxer shorts, watched all of the UK version of The Office (including the special; personally, I like the US version better), got this really cool shirt at the army surplus store, got a haircut, made some really good chili (always best the second day, I say), listened to a really great comedy CD by this guy named Daniel Tosh, saw the doctor about my persistent sore throat (the strep swab came back negative). Oh, and I've gotten quite good at making grilled cheese sandwiches. Behold.

grilled cheese sandwich

Took this PoliticsMatch Quiz my friend Brett was talking about. Kinda neat. Here's my result:

Going to see Mama Mia at the Paramount on December 6th. Looking forward to that. Three really awesome songs I've only recently discovered: Pink Martini - Let's Never Stop Falling in Love, Weezer - This is Such a Pity, and Transiberian Orchestra - Wizards in Winter.

construction in Dubai
Lots of construction in Dubai... (1024x768; 178 KB)

"It pays to be obvious, especially if you have a reputation for subtlety." — Isaac Asimov