Old News: November 4th, 2002 to November 17th, 2002

9:50 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
17 Nov. 2002 (Sun); Post #226
Saw the latest Malcolm in the Middle episode. Boy, that show just keeps getting better and better. Some shows, like Drew Carrey, start out good, but turn to absolute drek after the third season or so. Malcolm, on the other hand, seems to have gotten better as the background for the characters was established and the younger actors have gotten older, acting better.

Still enjoying the three monitors, though I have to turn them off to play Civilization. On Thursday night, Hanwool and I played a 4-hour game of Play the World. We both retired (it was 4:30 a.m.) with around 730 points. I was the Egyptians (Religious and Industrious) and he was the Persians (Scientific and Industrious). I had a major war with the Zulus that I had almost won, and he was making slow but steady progress in his on-and-off-again battles with the Chinese and Japanese. Unfortunately, since we were on different continents, we didn't really get the benefits of total technology sharing, resource trading, etc. Still, it was a pretty good game (though Civ 3:PTW still seems to have some bugs, esp. with Simultaneous Turns — even in 1.04f).

Well, The Practice is on, so l8er.

5:17 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
17 Nov. 2002 (Sun); Post #225
Kevin just left. He, JD, and I played some MOHAA: Spearhead a little while ago. Decent game, better than regular MOHAA. On Friday, Ryan, Shea, Aaron, JD, and Kevin (I think) came over and we played Magic and stuff. Ryan, Aaron, and I ordered some Magic cards from Cardhaus.com. By Tuesday or Wednesday, I ought to have the cards I need for my mono-blue deck. It focuses mainly on a Palinchron-High Tide-Stroke of Genius combo (infinite mana > make opponent draw his entire deck), but also has a denial/steal permanents theme in it. Lots of Counterspells, Dismiss, Control Magics, etc.

On Saturday, we played GURPS. JD and Aaron joined the game (JD as Tykhe, Aaron as Triton). Basically, they got noticed by the media, had some slight interaction with the military, defeated Menoitos, the titan-god of angry thoughts, and had a brief encounter with Hekate, who basically told them to stay out of things or they'd get hurt. It was a good session, and my first time GMing such a large group (8 people).

That night, JD, Ryan, and I made up a game that we don't have a name for yet. It's played on a hex map and involves the building of roads to connect certain tokens to your base point. It's sort of hard to explain. I might type of the rules and post it here. It's pretty fun if I don't say so myself... maybe we can sell it to Cheapass Games or something. Hah.

The pictures below are from this weekend; the first is Taryn (Kevin's brother) and Ryan (on the couch in the back). The second is the invitation I got from Keith's family to his mom's wedding. It's a double-ceremony in Pasco on the 23rd. Kewl. Well, farvel.

10:20 a.m. [GMT-8:00]
14 Nov. 2002 (Thu); Post #224
Just got back from an appointment with my neurologist, Dr. Lahiri. This time, I got to wait in his office instead of an exam room. After 20 minutes or so, he came in and told me this stuff that he told me last time about my MRI. I guess he forgot he told me. Then he said I need to go to a physical therapist two or three times a week to have this galvanic shock therapy stuff. Basically, if I don't stimulate the muscles on my left side (with this electric shock stuff), my face might get deformed as the atrophying muscles contract. It'd sort of look like my face was stretched back on the left. Anyway. Not really eager to go to these things since they're at 9:00 a.m. in the morning on weekdays. I have my first one next Tuesday at 9:00 a.m., but I have to show up early to do the paperwork.

Went to WalMart last night with Hanwool; we each bought a copy of Civilization III: Play the World and Armitage: Dual matrix. I also got the Powerpuff Girls DVD. It's actually a really great movie, surprisingly funny and interesting, even for an adult audience. Can't wait to play Civ III multiplayer. Started a game on a Large/Arid/Warm/5 billion year old world last night; ended up playing till 4:30 a.m. Then I went to bed and read the Straight Dope Compendium cuz I couldn't sleep. Finally put the lights out at 5:10 a.m.

Oh, I added a third monitor to my computer setup. Now I can have Windows Explorer on the left, with Outlook under it, various IE windows in the center, and Winamp and AIM on the right. Of course, I took a picture (below).

Right now, I'm feasting on the gummy bears I got at WalMart — good deal, 11.75 oz. for a dollar. Course, they aren't really high quality gummy bears, but still. Well, I'm gonna drink some water, watch a little Martha Stewart, and sleep till noon. Farvel.

One desktop, 3 screens. Ooooh.

9:54 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
12 Nov. 2002 (Tue); Post #223
Wow, am I tired. Got two hours of sleep this morning. Woke up around ten, showered, and ran errands till mid-afternoon. Today was my mom's birthday. I got her a silver bracelet with turquoise stones and matching earrings from her favorite tack/gift shop. Then I placed an order for a dozen yellow roses from the Kennewick Flower Shop on my father's behalf. Cards, wrapping paper, etc. At 7:15 p.m. we went to dinner at the Sundance Grill.

Oh, earlier in the day my mom gave me a smaller replica of one of the terra-cotta warriors of the Qin dynasty. Chinese statue. Pictured below. Someday, I'd like my house to have an eclectic Asian-mix decor. Like Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Taiwanese. Of course, cost usually wins out when picking furnishings (e.g. my parents gave me a perfectly fine couch that's in a southwestern motif, but it's comfortable and not bad-looking, so why turn it down?).

My stock portfolio's doing better. It hit its lowest point at the beginning of October, but now it looks like it's following a steady rise. Since American Eagle Outfitters (AEOS) and Amazon (AMZN) make up a little more than 40% of my portfolio, I'm crossing my fingers and anticipating a increase in value until Christmas, hopefully with a spike right after Thanksgiving. ATM, Amazon is my only stock with a positive PROI (Potential Return On Investment). It's gone up 33.65% since I bought it. OTOH, Pfizer (PFE), making up 46% of my portfolio, is down 16.18%. People, go buy lots of Accupril, Zoloft, Diflucan, and Zyrtec. I desperately need more Magic cards and a plasma screen television. Heh. Well, maybe not desperately... anyway, TTFN.

5:56 a.m. [GMT-8:00]
12 Nov. 2002 (Tue); Post #222
Post #222. The number of the beast, but 66% less evil. Or something. I dunno, it's really late. I can't sleep (but I know I have to 'get up' in about 4 hours). Just finished reading Beggars Ride. Something I just noticed about the book as I put it away on the shelf: they spelt 'Beggars' in the title on the spine "Beggers." How the heck did anyone at Tor (the publisher) let that misspelling get to print? Wow. I mean, I see misspellings and grammatical errors in paperbacks all the time and just think "Oh, tch, sloppy editing," but to let a mistake like that get printed on the cover...? I bet somebody got chewed out for that one.

I had a dream yesterday that really upset me, but I won't discuss it in detail here. Suffice to say that it wasn't a nightmare per se, but it was the most vivid, distressing dream I can recall. Anyway, I keep thinking about it. Unlike my other dreams, I remember nearly everything about this one. Anyway.

Speaking of dreams, I woke up from one Friday morning in which my palsy had disappeared. It was kinda weird, cuz the left side of my face was still weak and I kept smiling in the mirror... you'd think that if it were a dream, I'd have had no side effects or whatever. But it was sort of realistic. For a few seconds after waking up, I still thought it had really happened, and that was pretty strange.

It's funny that I had these dreams so close together. Usually, I don't dream (or rather, remember dreaming) at all. It might be because I've been screwing up my sleeping patterns lately, staying awake longer than usual. Or later than usual, anyway.

I was talking to SparkSSter on AIM earlier — you know he didn't know what a 'blog' was? For those of you unfamiliar witht he term, it's a shortening of web-log. Like an online journal (e.g. this very website, my friend's sites, etc. etc.). BTW, if you're thinking of starting a blog, there's tons of websites that will host it for you for free. Blogger and LiveJournal seem to be good ones. Personally, I prefer a bit more control and freedom. Plus, I already know HTML and can do some graphics stuff. Why let those skills go to waste?

By the way, there seemed to be some dissatisfaction with the current quality/quantity of Aaron pics in his profile, so I added 4 new ones. I added one pic to Sheree's as well (the now-infamous celtic-spiral-knot-sun-thingy tattoo). If you've got some sort of Aaron craving, you can probably get more of him at Beefy's PHS Talent Show 2002 page. He's the one with the guitar and the baseball cap.

Watched some more Stargate SG-1 episodes. The ones I liked best included #17 - Holiday and #20 - Show and Tell. I wish they'd address the ongoing battle against the Goa'uld a little more instead of wasting time on meaningless, boring episodes like #19 - One False Step. According to the Stargate SG-1 Information Archive (a useful site for fans of the show), Season 3 on DVD will be available in January. Argh, that's a long time to wait. I don't watch the show on TV anymore — it's too hard to catch with it's airing schedule (7:00 p.m. on Saturdays, IIRC; what kind of time slot is that?).

It came to my attention that I use a lot of semi-obscure acronyms on this site (well, obscure if you're not really familiar with IRC, e-mail mailing lists, usenet, etc.). Here's a page I whipped up to explain them: Internet Acronyms. It doesn't cover eveything, just the ones I'm familiar with. E.g. who actually uses GIGO (Garbage-In, Garbage-Out) in everyday [online] speech? Well, l8er.

10:07 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
11 Nov. 2002 (Mon); Post #221
Well, we did a lot this weekend. I had lots of fun. My Magic deck performs better than I expected; I upgraded it with some cards I traded from Aaron and Shea (I actually got an Underground Sea from Aaron — a very rare dual-land... traded a City of Brass, four Strip Mines, and some other cards for it). Added a Lotus Petal, Castle Sengir, Wonder (blue "all creatures gain flying" Jedi), Jayemdae Tome ("4T: Draw a card" artifact), Howling Mine, Gemstone Mine, Whispers of the Muse, and a third Demonic Tutor.

On Sunday we began my GURPS Greek Gods Reawoken (just a temporary title; I'm thinking of calling it "Return of the Pantheon" or something) campaign. I think it went well. The players were given a pile of paper strips with various god names printed on them (in the original Greek alphabet and language) to determine which powers/skills they absorbed from magical laurels they found in a mountain vault. Justin ended up being imbued with the spirit of Pandaisia, the goddess of the banquet, attendant to Aphrodite. Ryan became Ephialtes (Giant son of Poseidon), Hanwool, Pheme (Gossip), Shea, Mnemosyne (Memory, inventress of words), Phillip, Zephyrus (Winds and Spring), Beefy, Phobos (Fear). For more information on these demi-gods, visit Theoi Project. I found it really useful while designing this campaign. Aaron will be joining the game next session. Hopefully, we can play weekly on a regular schedule.

The characters battled three Cyclops (25' tall) and won, saving Shea's character from being eaten. It was actually a fairly short session, but a lot of preparation was needed (had to make up the god templates which took a while; each one was about 150 points worth of skills, powers, advantages, and stat boosts). At the end of the game, each player got around 1500-2000 experience points (1 e.p. = 1/100th c.p.).

Phillip, Shea, Justin, and I played tile chess last night. Below is a picture of the starting configuration, with Phillip gold, Shea green, Justin black, and myself blue. I eliminated Shea, then Justin (but without gaining control over any peices), then Phillip. Hooray for me. Heh. Well, farvel.

Tile Chess board on 11/10/2002

6:55 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
9 Nov. 2002 (Sat); Post #220
Yesterday, Beefy, Aaron, Justin, Drew, Sheree, and Phillip came over. Played Magic a lot (used my new deck, except with proxy cards for the Nantuko Husk; haven't received it in the mail yet). My new deck won a little more than half the time, I think. I need to do something about its vulnerability to creatures, esp. flyers. Maybe some Wall of Shadows or Wall of Mists (damage done to them by creatures is reduced to 0). Love the Counterspells. Ryan and Shea never materialized though... or Kevin or JD. Actually, no one seemed able to find JD — even his girlfriend couldn't locate 'im. I should call him.

Anyway, I set my main system up for dual monitors. I've got a 22" Samsung (primary) and a 17" Nobilis (secondary) displaying. It's pretty cool. Looks like some minor issues were fixed between Win 98's support and Win 2000 SP3. Disbaling the secondary for games is really easy. There's a picture below.

Looks like we're doing stuff again tonight. Prolly Magic or some other games. I finished disc 3 of Stargate SG-1 Season 2. Good episodes, but the Tok'ra two-parter (written by Jonathan Glassner) really stood apart from the others. Just better casting and storyline, I guess. I'm on page 349 of Beggar's Ride. It's getting really good now.
Today's MP3: Royal Tennenbaums - 111 Arthur Avenue.mp3 (0:37). Farvel.

9:29 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
7 Nov. 2002 (Thu); Post #219
Sheree and Phillip came over. Guess what Sheree showed me.

1:17 a.m. [GMT-8:00]
7 Nov. 2002 (Thu); Post #218
Well, this is the new page design. I tinkered with it a lot, so it turned out differently than the screenshot I showed on October 30th. Note, however, that this is the only page on the site currently using the new design. I don't even have it templated yet; this is just regular HTML. Things I'm still considering changing: the page background (sort of a light-gray, swirly design right now) and the little animated GIF in the upper right. The GIF is just some little 4 kB thing I whipped up in Animation Shop 3.00 (comes w/ Paint Shop Pro 7). Anyway, if you have any opinion about the new layout, e-mail me. There's a link up there somewhere.

Part of the new design is the use of paragraphs, BTW. See, if this were in the old format, it'd just be one really long block of text. I think this makes for easier reading. Well, anyway, here's my log info for this update:

I got Stargate Season 2 on DVD at Circuit City! (See image below.) I've already watched the first disc and it is awesome. Man, I thought Season 1 was good. The Circuit City ppl, OTOH, are complete idiots. Good Lord, are they dumb. I called to ask if they had two items in stock: Civilization III: Play the World and Stargate Season 2 on DVD. The first time I called, some loser told me he'd have to check with the "merchandise guy" and call me back. Then, b/c he obviously didn't know what he was doing (their computer system must be able to track inventory), I called back and talked to some girl in customer service. She transferred me to someone who transferred me to someone else, who... etc. I got transferred 5 times. The last person I talked to said they couldn't tell, but she thought she saw the Stargate package once. I was rather disgusted, and rightly so, so I called Best Buy. I punched the number for the Games, Movies, etc. department and listened to the phone on the other end ring and ring. And ring and ring and ring. I hung up, visited some sites, then received a call from the first drone I'd talked to at CC. He said they had Stargate but not Play the World. I still drove to Kennewick — I had to get a plunger at the Home Depot anyway.

Civ III: Play the World shipped last Friday, but none of the local stores seem to have it yet. Tomorrow I might try Software Etc. (or, Game Stop... I guess they changed their name) in the mall. Beggar's Ride keeps getting better and better. It's racier than the first two books, but at least it doesn't seem really vulgar, like when Niven talks about naughty bits and things. Niven's whole bizarre "rishathra" kick in the Ringworld series was a little strange for me. Plus, it makes him look hypocritical (he seems to hate homosexuals and denounces them as deviants, but he's totally fine with mass orgies and extreme promiscuity... I dunno, maybe I'm just reading too much into his character's feelings and opinions though).

My posts seem to be getting longer. I'm not sure why... Anyway, I read about a really interesting combo at Magic: The Gathering.com today; Worldgorger Dragon plus Animate Dead. Basically, you make sure Worldgorger goes into the graveyard (by discarding it, preferably), then cast Animate Dead on it. Animate Dead brings a creature into play from the graveyard, but sends it back to the graveyard if it (the enchantment) leaves play. Well, Worldgorger Dragon makes all permanents you control leave play when it comes into play and come back into play when it leaves. Basically, you can set up an inifinite loop with this combo. The upside? Your lands, creatures, artifacts, etc. come into play untapped, even if they left play tapped. Infinite mana, infinite use of creature/artifact abilites that require tapping. Cool, huh? It's all in this article. Well, I have an English 301 paper to write, so l8er.

11:10 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
4 Nov. 2002 (Mon); Post #217
Okay, I finished the Margaret Cho autobiography, I'm the One That I Want. It's pretty clear to me that she used a ghostwriter. Want a quick précis of the book? Here goes:
I grew up in San Francisco and my mom speaks with poor grammar. I love gay men. I hated my body and myself. I did approximately fifty tons of amphetamines, pot, and ecstasy. I drank about twenty thousand gallons of alcohol. Then I found out these things were bad for me, so I stopped. But then I decided quitting was too hard, so I went back to being an alcoholic junkie. I had tons of boyfriends who I hated. I got a dog. Life was so hard for me, being rich and famous and having tons of friends, whine whine whine. Blah blah blah.

Yeah, it kind of sucked. I almost stopped reading it half way through, but for some reason I was determined to finish it. Talk about a waste of time. The first third was actually interesting... see, that was before I'd gotten so thoroughly sick of the "Everyone hates me, I hate me" theme. She was so amazingly dumb about the choices she made in her life. She would date people she hated and (supposedly) try to kill herself with drugs and alcohol, but then excuse it in her book by saying "But my parents never loved me." Plus, it turns out she's one of these Hollywood idiots who drones on and on about "spirituality." And you know how the book ends? It just sort of drops off. She tries to wrap the whole thing up in one three-page chapter where she quickly, if unconvincingly, tells the reader that she's happy and clean now. Yeah, right, whatever. For the last third of the book, all I could think of was her dropping into her ghostwriter's office at four in the afternoon, drunk and high, to talk incessantly about her, her, her and complain. And the ghostwriter isn't without blame either. She (or maybe 'he,' who knows) really hams it up trying to establish this phony Amy Tan copycat style of describing things. Amy Tan, incidentally, is one of my favorite authors (esp. The Joy Luck Club and The Kitchen God's Wife) and has a great writing style, but it doesn't work when it's used to bitch about deadbeat boyfriends and snotty producers.

Now, don't get me wrong — I think Margaret Cho is a very funny comedian (or comedienne, as some of the more annoying showbiz types say), but she should avoid not-writing at all costs. Uff da.

Reading her book taught me something though; don't let your feelings about an author influence your choices. Of course, I guess I already knew that somehow, cuz Larry Niven was a jerk when I met him, but his books are great. In fact, when I finish Beggar's Ride, I'm going to read The Legacy of Heorot, which is by Niven, Barnes and Pournelle. Beggar's Ride, by the way, is excellent. I think Kress may become my favorite author. I'd always sort of thought of Asimov as my fav., but her stuff is so much more captivating, you know?

Okay, this is turning into a really long post, so I'll wrap it up. Magic cards are in the mail; I should be able to assemble my super-deck by this weekend or next. I put a Magic: The Gathering page up here, but right now it's basically just notes on my red burn deck. Beefy's got around 1700 words down on his short story about the winged boy. I look forward to reading it. Everybody Loves Raymond was pretty funny tonight. This other show, Still Standing, is surprisingly funny too. I've seen every episode of it since it comes on right after Raymond and I keep expecting it to Jump the Shark, but somehow it manages to hang on. Good writing and the adult actors are all pretty good. The kids aren't atrocious, but they aren't really passable either. Today's MP3: Janet Jackson - Doesn't Really Matter.mp3 (4:19). And, for those of you who actually allowed all this useless text to clutter your screen, I present you with this little bonus picture I whimsically title "What. The. Hell." Farvel, ha det så lenge, vi ses, og morna.

No, I'm not sure what i'm seeing either. Just take my advice and hit your 'Back' button before your retinas combust.

"Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative." — Oscar Wilde