Old News: September 2, 2003 to September 25, 2003

12:00 a.m. [GMT-8:00]
25 Sep. 2003 (Thu); Post #374
Hanwool's got a bad flu, has been home from school all week; doesn't think he'll want to GM the China game that was planned for Sunday. OMG my Network Essentials class is so... dumb. CS222 is heaven compared to my CS224 night class. Here's a pretty accurate account of tonight's lecture:
Instructor: (talking about the OSI model) "So, the presentation layer. It has... encryption..."
(explains what encryption is for 3 minutes using examples from ancient Rome)
Instructor: "And... this is used with web browsers..."
(minute-and-a-half silence while he stares at his notes)
Instructor: (just starts speaking as if he's been doing so all along) "...and that's what that layer's all about."
(2 minutes of staring at notes, then flips a couple pages on his legal pad)
Instructor: "Okay, the application layer."
Student: "What about the presentation layer?"
(30 second pause)
Instructor: "Oh, I didn't put it on the board. Here."
(10 seconds of drawing yields a box with the word "Presentation" in it)
Instructor: "So the application layer is the highest one. It uses APIs..."
See how painful that was to read? Now imagine it dragging on for slightly more than two hours. Anyway, it's not entirely his fault I guess. The students don't seem to be very percipient. And this is the first class he's ever taught.

Had Subway for lunch. I like their sweet onion chicken teriyaki sandwich. Esp. good with those crunchy Cheetos. Had Wendy's for dinner. Watched the Law & Order season premier. It was okay. That Serena character (the blond ADA) really annoys me. I dunno how McCoy puts up with her.

Been playing with ObjectDock. A lot of ppl seem to prefer Y'z Dock (which, BTW, isn't being developed anymore and isn't sposed to be distributed cuz Apple threatened to sue), but I personally can't see anything about it that's better than ObjectDock. I'm reluctant to switch over to it completely cuz I can't fit all my icons in there aesthetically and a lot of my programs run in the system tray. Also, there's this really minor issue with the background flickering for an instant when the mouse moves off it. Okay, anyway, it's late.

11:02 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
23 Sep. 2003 (Tue); Post #373
Just finished watching the season premier of Law & Order: SVU. Before that, it was the Frasier premier and a second new episode. All good, though I prefer the L&O eps where they actually get around to the trial; this one was all police work, no ADA appearances. Been watching this anime called Asagiri no Miko. It's okay. The episodes are all 12 minutes long though (as opposed to the usual 22 minutes), which is weird.

Drew got a 256 MB thumbdrive for $65 at Best Buy. He, Phill, Derrin (sp?), and I all have a class together (CS222: Novell Netware @ 10:20 am). That is an amazingly boring class, BTW. Course, it's the same as most CS lectures... the teacher talks at the front of the room for an hour while showing poorly designed Power Point slides, occasionally throwing out mind-numbingly simple questions to the class to show that he/she's interacting with the students. Oy. At least I have one class with Mr. Sako who actually tries to make his topics interesting. I dunno, maybe I just felt incredibly bored cuz I was so somnolent.

Anyway, I think I'll play some GBA ROMs and read High Frontier before going to bed.

11:03 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
22 Sep. 2003 (Mon); Post #372
Well, we ended up playing Hanwool's China campaign, then my Weird campaign (that Black Ops/ Warehouse 23 sorta thing). The China game was a little dry, but my character managed to accomplish one of his goals (learning some earth-college spells). Also, he's meeting some of the higher-ups in the kingdom of Ke, though he's only allowed one month at the emperor's palace. Justin's character seems to have stopped trying to kill him, though Akira did tell the authorities Bao (my character) had murdered a sword-fighter. Fortunately, Bao had been working 10 hour days as an apprentice to a wood carver while the rest of them hid from the soldiers, so he had a good alibi.

The Weird campaign was pretty good, though I think a couple characters were kind of overlooked in all the action. The session pretty much consisted of Jack's (Justin's) team meeting up with Gregor's team (a vampire, witch, sentient virus, Egyptian scarab spirit, and a talking briefcase), dealing with Fred's (Drew's) shapeshifting and killing Hanwool's former character, Bob (the mass of spirit-bees), who was possessed by the Terra Grimoire. The whole shapeshifting ordeal was caused by the discovery of a bottle of "Vitamals - Chewable Vitamins" (an item from Warehouse 23). The results were rather random; Fred ended up transforming into a skink (lizard), then a blue whale. The blue whale transformation caught Jack and Gregor unawares; they took something like 4dx4 concussion damage since they were basically at "ground zero." Gregor died. Fred started dying as he was crushed under his own weight (taking 1d-3 damage per second). Jack, thinking quickly (but not mercifully), jumped onto the whale's back, crushed all the vitamins in his hands (ST 40 vampire) and dropped them down the whale's blowhole.

Meanwhile, Morty (Ryan) and Bob the sentient virus (possessing, at the time, the body of some Ohioan farmer) drove back to Chino and encountered a police roadblock. Bob possessed one of the cops and shot the other (narrowly missing Morty). Morty stole a cop car and drove back to what remained of the teams. Of course, this whole time a huge shield volcano is forming in the middle of a Nevada highway. The simultaneous ingestion of every shapeshifting pill in the vitamin bottle caused Drew's character to change into a sequoia. Unfortunately, he also has Instant Regeneration and Regrowth. The result? A tree that grows at the rate of 1 inch per second.

Anyway, long story short, Drew's made a total of 17 death-checks, turned into a small grove (after collapsing from a height of 900 feet), and Morty, Fred, and Scab (Hanwool's scarab spirit) managed to work together to incinerate the swarm (though Fred just kinda had to stand there while Morty climbed him). Fred changed back to normal sometime around 6:00 am. The group was then recalled to Warehouse 23, somewhere in Colorado.

This week, I think we're doing Weird on Friday night and China Sunday afternoon. My new fridge is working really well. I cleaned up the kitchen area and vacuumed. Got some peanut butter and jelly, another loaf of white bread, and some Honey Bunches of Oats cereal. Had linguini in meat sauce with mozzarella for dinner and sour cream-lemon pie for dessert.

New fridge, clean(er) kitchen.
New fridge.

12:32 a.m. [GMT-8:00]
20 Sep. 2003 (Sat); Post #371
Just got back from seeing Underworld with Hanwool, Justin, and Phill. It was okay. Better than the Blade movies, anyway, IMO. Before the movie, we (with the exception of Justin) grabbed dinner at Rattlesnake Mt. Brewing Co. It was agreed that everything was very good. I think we're doing Hanwool's China campaign tomorrow; Drew should be coming this time but I think Phill will have to baby-sit again.

Here are the pics from the Coos Bay trip:

Bastendorf beach at about 2:00 pm on Wednesday.

The wharf at Charleston, as seen from a bridge over the sound.

Me standing in an odd little cave in the side of a 60 foot cliff at Bastendorf.

The Euroclydon, a trawler, offloading cargo.

12:37 a.m. [GMT-8:00]
19 Sep. 2003 (Fri); Post #370
Keith's got some kind of issues and seems to be trying to goad me into a quarrel but I'm just going to do my best to avoid that whole ugly mess. Anyway, I'm back from Coos Bay. Picked up a 256 MB thumbdrive (6 MB/s transfer speed) at Fry's on my way down. Earlier this evening, my parents and I used the trailer to pick up my fridge at this lady's house over on Ledbetter in Kennewick. It's nice; in much better condition than I had expected. Had to take my door off its hinges to get it inside though.

Have some really neat pictures from the trip. I'll try to put them up tomorrow as I'm currently sleepy and have yet to haul 60 lbs. dog and cat food from the clinic. Notable events from trip: fixed grandma's computer (Adaware (231 bugs!) + AV software (63 infected files!) + upgrade to NTFS and Win 2K SP2 + canned air on CPU HSF + new drivers), received many towels, a heavily-used-but-still-working-perfectly hot plate griddle device, and some neat old bowls, went to the beach, took lots of pictures (esp. of marina), had small amount of sushi (tuna and yellowtail), saw grandma's new "Roomba" (a robot-vacuum that does neat stuff), and drove a total of 6 hours on the 16-hour round trip. I also got a rice-cooker/ vegetable-steamer that I'm eager to use.

Stopped by IF around 6:00, picked up some KODT (#83 plus the Origins special and the new Blackhands #1), PvP, Girl Genius (#9, #6-8 are hard to find), and two GURPS books (from the Transhuman Space line; High Frontier and In the Well).

1:15 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
15 Sep. 2003 (Mon); Post #368
I'm making this post 'cause I'm on hold with Amerion. Had GURPS games Friday and Saturday nights; Hanwool's China setting, then the new campaign. The new campaign's sort of a Black Ops/ Illuminati/ Warehouse 23/ Monsters sort of thing; it went extremely well. Basically a bunch of high powered characters (650 pts.) run around doing jobs for some shady, super-secret government branch. The group consists of a vampire (Justin), a half-demon (Jones), a water-thing (we never decided what it was exactly; Drew), and a ghost who takes the form of a swarm of bees (Hanwool). Keith's invitation was answered with surprising hostility; he didn't come. Phill had to baby-sit.

Going to Coos Bay (Oregon) tomorrow, will be back sometime Thursday afternoon.

9:46 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
11 Sep. 2003 (Thu); Post #367
My Stargate SG-1 DVD sets arrived yesterday. I'm about 80% through season 3 right now. It's pretty good; probably better than the previous seasons. There's a really interesting documentary on North Korea on PBS right now. Finished A World Out of Time a while ago and started Trinity. AWOOT was really good, though I thought the ending was a little weak. Seems like there should have been a sequel.

I've read the first four stories in Trinity and the only one I didn't hate was "Explanations, Inc." While I enjoyed the use of the "ppl can recall past lives through high-tech brain surgery" device in Brain Rose, it really bored me in her other works. I think one of the big differences between Kress and other authors is that Kress tends to pick one or two fairly uncommon concepts and really focus on those (like "Reality" and alien-radiation-machines in the Probability series, or prejudice and gengineering in the Sleepless trilogy). Other authors tend to use a broader spectrum of changes and advances in their stories. Either tactic can work. Kress also tends to examine her characters a lot closer than other authors... again, it either works or it bores the heck out of you. Leisha Camden in Beggars in Spain: fascinating. Tom Capelo in Probability Sun: boring.

Looking forward to our next GURPS game, though I'm uncertain about how my character's going to deal with two issues: Akira's not-so-subtle attempts to kill him and his desire/ goal to return to modern Earth. Also, lingering in the back of my (his) mind is the matter of the Kourin. She grants him amazing powers and has yet to ask for something in return. Will Bao become an indentured servant for the rest of his life? Can he be forced to return the gift? How dangerous would it be to turn against the Kourin?

Got a bunch of neat comic scans; everything by Kevin Smith, everything by Jhonen Vasquez (Invader Zim creator), all of Dilbert up to 2002, all of Futurama (yes, they had comics!), and all of Sam & Max. So far, out of all of that, I've only read Vasquez's "Filler Bunny: I Fill Up 15 Pages!"

12:25 a.m. [GMT-8:00]
8 Sep. 2003 (Mon); Post #366
Yesterday was weird, opposite our usual Saturdays; Ryan actually decided to grace us with his presence and Beefy bailed without explanation. Phill had to stay at home and watch his stepmother and her baby or something. But the game actually went pretty well despite Justin's repeated attempts to kill our characters. (FYI, any time a really old sage confronts your party of criminals and sends her guards away, it's usually because she could explode your heart with a word. She didn't get to be 150 in a TL3 world by taking huge risks with her life. Duh!)

Anyway. The Halo 1.5 beta got leaked. Have heard some interesting things about it. Last night I finished Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers (Red Dwarf book) and started A World Out of Time. It's extremely good. I've got about 60 pages left. Someone on AT got me looking at this John Titor (the supposed time traveler from 2036) garbage. A surprising number of ppl have actually bought this guy's story. The idiot on AT is planning on moving to another country to avoid the next US civil war.

The chicken nuggets at Wendy's really are better than McDonald's.

3:32 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
6 Sep. 2003 (Sat); Post #365
Finally went to the Bookworm and got some new reading material. Starswarm by Pournelle, A World Out of Time by Niven, Trinity and Other Stories by Kress, and The Undersea Trilogy by Pohl and Jack Williamson. I wouldn't have bought the last one except the cover looked vaguely familiar and I realized I'd read the second book in the series a long time ago (it was really good). They had this really cool illustrated version of A Brief History of Time, but it was $40 so I didn't get it.

Had Carl's Jr. for lunch. Hanwool's China campaign should be starting soon. My character, Bao Hong Xiao, is a famous Chinese artist/ calligrapher living in Yokohama, Japan. Hope it'll be fun.

New used books.
Hooray, new books!

4:51 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
4 Sep. 2003 (Thu); Post #364
Helped Kevin with a minor image-stitching/ table issue on his new web site design. I think it looks very good; much better than the old design. Everyone seems to like it except Nick and D. Gonzalez who've been criticizing it in their generally tactless manner.

Incidentally, I happened across this page thanks to a reference in in the AT forums. It's really hilarious. Had Mongolian Grill again today, but they didn't have any zucchini, so I had to use mushrooms and broccoli instead. Wasn't as good.

9:38 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
3 Sep. 2003 (Wed); Post #363
Downloaded and played the Homeworld 2 demo. Very good game. I only have two complaints: the textures could have been higher quality (of course, there may be options for this in the final release) and the camera controls are a little annoying (for the most part, you can't change them), specifically the "pan" methods. I wish they'd done it the way Maya does (alt + m1 = rotate, alt + m2 = zoom, alt + m3 = pan). That just feels more natural, IMHO. Still, the game looks amazing. I haven't really figured out formations yet, so I'm going to read up on that.

I ordered Stargate SG-1 seasons 3 and 4 (used) off Amazon. They should be here, hopefully, next week. Can't wait to see them. For some reason, the local Circuit City stopped stocking the Stargate boxed sets. Oh well, the prices I got were like half what I would've payed at CC.

Started rereading an old Red Dwarf book I have. I realize I'd forgotten most of it... it's like HHGTTG, but a little more realistic and a little darker. It's closer to actual SF than the stuff I'd been reading (two new Callahan's/ Spider Robinson books and Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchette). After I finish this, I really need to go get some new books.

4:15 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
2 Sep. 2003 (Tue); Post #362
Had two GURPS games this weekend. Amazingly, no one killed anyone else on Saturday (well, no PCs died, anyway). Sunday was another story. Justin killed Hanwool and Beefy killed Justin. If we play GURPS again next weekend, I might change genres. Or get Hanwool to GM. It's beginning to look like the only way to stop party infighting is to say "a wizard put a spell on all of you and now you can't hurt each other or you'll all die," or something. I hate using major fiats like that.

Sunday night we had a little LAN party. JD, Kevin, and Drew came. Everyone else basically whined and gave excuses like "I'm too tired to bring a computer," even though the next day was labor day. Anyway, we played Warcraft III: TFT and some Co-op BF1942 (see image below) using the Vaio as a ded. server. Kevin introduced me to Freelancer, which is an older game kind of like a cutesy-fied version of Freespace 2 with "role-playing." Still, it's fairly fun (except for this minor bug that makes certain text disappear).

I installed UT2003 to see how it'd look with my Radeon 9800 Pro... very pretty. I run everything at 4x anti-aliasing and 4x anisotropic filtering (no one seems to know exactly what AF is, so here's a link) for best performance/ quality. Why not higher? Mainly because of Desert Combat. I don't know what they did, but that game seems to suck up resources like a twenty ton sponge. On my ti4600, it actually lagged a little at certain points.

Kevin urged me to download the Half Life 2 gameplay video. Now, 587 megs later, I can say the game really looks amazing. Supposed to be out September 30. Oy. Another game I'm looking forward to, Homeworld 2, comes out on the 16th. I just glanced at some gameplay vids though and they weren't too impressive. Oh well, the demo comes out tomorrow and I can see if I really like it or not.

BF1942 pwnage.
I pwned them.

"Friends may come and go, but enemies accumulate." — Thomas Jones