Old News: September 8 to October 30, 2004

12:09 a.m. [GMT-8:00]
30 Oct. 2004 (Sat); Post #524
Okay, well I'm going to Pullman in about 9 hours. I'll repeat Monday's message here since our GURPS group is somewhat thick on these sorts of things (still don't have anyone's character sheets, for example): I WILL NOT BE HERE SATURDAY. DO NOT COME TO MY HOUSE AS IT WILL BE LOCKED AND EMPTY.

Hopefully that'll sink in. Anyway, here're some amusing links:
  • Thinking Machine 4. Neat Java applet that displays computer's "thought process" visually as you play chess against it. Some situations can result in really interesting patterns.
  • http://daemlich.net/2736. Funny Flash animation with a catchy song. Very well done.
  • Maiyahi. Another Flash animation/music video. The text is all Japanese, but it doesn't really matter. The song is Dragostea Din Tei by O-Zone... it's this obscure Romanian (well, Moldovan) song. Here's a link to the MP3 if you're interested.
Made a really cool Honden deck. It really needs some Sterling Groves to protect the enchantments. But it works pretty well... lots of dual lands (and stuff like Mirrodin's Core and City of Brass), lots of Scry spells, a Darksteel Pendant, a Sensei's Divining Top. Oh yeah, it could use a Teferi's Puzzle Box or two. If I get all the Hondens out, every turn the following happens: I get five 1/1 Spirit tokens, I can deal 5 damage to target creature/player, target opponent has to discard 5 cards from his/her hand, I gain ten life, and I get to draw five additional cards.

October 27/28, 2004 Lunar Eclipse
Lunar eclipse from October 27/28th. Photo by Bill Lohrer.

6:58 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
27 Oct. 2004 (Mon); Post #523
Lunar eclipse tonight. Totality will occur in 25 minutes. BTW, I won't be here Saturday (going to Pullman), so the group will probably want to arrange to play elsewhere (or just wait till Nov. 6).

8:30 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
25 Oct. 2004 (Mon); Post #522
CHK is out! I bought five tournament packs and the Kami Reborn theme deck. Made a pretty cool white/green spirit deck from that card pool. It has two Long-Forgotten Goheis (Spirits you control get +1/+1.), two Honden of Life's Webs (put a 1/1 Spirit token into play each turn for each Shrine you control), two Honden of Cleansing Fires (gain 2 life each turn for each Shrine you control), lots of Soulshift Spirits, and a Sword of Light and Shadow. The only thing it really needs is some creature removal (got beat by a sadistic Leonin Abunas-protected artifact deck earlier tonight).

We played GURPS this weekend. Dimension Jumpers and all that. Pretty fun despite the condescendingly simple plot. But then again, it was an introductory session and there were PC relations to sort out and so on, so a lack of complexity wasn't exactly a horrible thing. BTW, I'd still like everyone (including Justin since his character changed) to submit their characters via email so I can post them here. It's kind of important that the GMs have access to character sheets so they can properly plan adventures. Anyway, Hanwool's done until (possibly) Nov. 27th and Paige takes the screen this coming Saturday.

A photo I snapped from the truck on the way back from Oregon.

7:41 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
21 Oct. 2004 (Thu); Post #521
As promised, I've posted my notes on Justin's character. Still don't have Paige, Ryan, or Hanwool's characters or anyone else's notes.

BTW, found my good CD binder and came in 4th in another 4-4-3-2 8th Edition booster draft tournament (winning 2 more 8ED boosters). I should've done this a long time ago; if you only make it to the 2nd round you're still effectively getting a 72% discount on two boosters (since it costs $2 to enter the tournament). Easy way to build your collection if you're a decent drafter. Four days until Champions of Kamigawa.

11:12 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
20 Oct. 2004 (Wed); Post #520
This afternoon, I found out I came in 4th in Monday's tournament and won 2 boosters (I logged off before the tournament ended). Keen. Then, around 9:00 pm, I was over at my parents' house getting some old Legos and I found three thousand-card boxes of Magic cards, mostly from Legends, Mirage, and Ice Age.

Here're some neat links: The Zoomquilt (a collaborative art project; kind of like that old Powers of 10 Java slideshow) and Chocolate Nibblet Beans (one of those nonsense Flash animations that mash random pictures together as a music video for some Japanese song... but the tune in this one is very catchy).

Still need ppls' GURPS characters. I'm not eager to spend a whole Saturday waiting on character creation and tweaking. Tomorrow I'll finish writing up my notes on Justin's character and post them here. The rest of you are encouraged to submit your notes on the characters currently available for inspection. Remember, you will have to GM these things. It's in your best interest that they be balanced, manageable, and error-free.

BTW, only five days 'till CHK comes out on MTGO! Exciting. Got the Ghostworld DVD from Amazon in the mail and received an 1880 20 Kopek coin from an eBay auction. Woo. Looks like "bayareastuff16" is trying to screw me out of my money on a copy of GURPS Uplift though. I paid the guy on Sep. 13th and he still hasn't sent anything. Tanj. But I just gave him an ultimatum (after an inquiry and a warning); if he doesn't respond by Friday he's getting some nasty feedback and a PayPal complaint.

Oh well, I have a neato Mars poster coming from ThinkGeek.

Appleseed Battlesuit/Cyborg
A battlesuit or cyborg from Appleseed. I forget which.

8:36 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
19 Oct. 2004 (Tue); Post #519
Not a lot going on. I got 2nd place in an MTGO Extended tourney (used my red deck). The guy I played last said he'd give me most of the grand prize if I would let him win (and get the rating boost), but I turned him down cuz it's against the tournament rules (which, if broken, can result in a ban from the system). Plus I thought I'd have a chance. But he had this super-fast green deck with basically unkillable crits, like Phantom Centaur. Anyway, I still won 4 booster packs (2 MRD, 1 DST, 1 FD).

Then I played in an 8-player booster draft (8ED/8ED/8ED) on Sunday or Monday. Won the first round, lost the second. But that's partially because I passed up some strong cards for valuable rares (e.g. a foil Hammer of Bogardan). My black/white deck wasn't too bad though. Probably could've won against the blue/white deck in round 2 if I had had some better creature destruction.

On Saturday the gaming group discussed our roleplaying situation and future plans. We decided we'd try a generic infinite worlds campaign with a rotating GM. 300 points, no disad limit, languages are universal (that is, in the land of Middle Earth Elves might speak French, Dwarves German; the largest culture near the PCs' insertion point will always speak English), PCs are granted an illusion to make them look like natives (which can be deactivated at will), the current GM's character is never included in the session he/she runs. There're some other rules and guidelines, but those are the basics.

Since we'll be having five GMs, everyone's character needs to be approved by everyone else. To that end, I'll be posting them here. Currently, I only have Justin's and mine (links below). Just need Paige, Ryan, and Hanwool's. Email the file to me () in whatever format you prefer and I'll put them up. Also, feel free to send me your notes on others' characters and I'll compile those on a separate page.

Anyway. Last week I had to go to Coos Bay, Oregon and drive back up from Eugene. While in Eugene, I ate lunch at Sakura Japanese Restaurant (across the street from the OSU campus). It was pretty good. After the meal, I got a dozen pieces to go (half tuna, half salmon), which I had for dinner that night. Those were even better than the lunch I think.

Also stopped at Fry's in Portland and picked up a Wacom tablet (the 6x8" Graphire3; a late birthday gift from my grandma and mom). It's fun to play with. The image at the bottom of this post is something I did with it in Corel Painter 8. Used pencil for the sketch, then added color as a separate layer with watercolor brushes. It's not very good, but practice makes perfect and all that.
Hank's character [24.0 KB; MS Word .DOC]

Justin's character [29.0 KB; MS Word .DOC]
Crappy landscape, made with a Graphire3 and Painter 8.

6:30 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
12 Oct. 2004 (Tue); Post #518
Got a DVD-burner installed in my system. Used the black SATA Plextor 12x±R/RW. In fact, I just finished burning episodes 1-20 of Planetes to a Memorex DVD-R. Way more efficient than CD. On CD, Planetes 1-26 took up 8 discs. But on DVD, it's only 2 discs.

Noticed a post on the SJG GURPS forum that made me realize we'd been doing wait maneuvers wrong in combat:
The Wait maneuver requires the player to specify what the character is waiting for (the trigger) and what the character will do (the action).

For example "Wait for That Evil Wizard to Concentrate, at which point I'll do an All-Out Attack (Strong)."

The four actions you can Wait to do: Attack, Feint, All-Out Attack (and which AoA option, melee: Determined, Double, Feint & Attack, Strong; ranged: Determined, Suppression Fire), or Ready.
Venture Brothers keeps getting better and better. I wish they hadn't killed off Girl Hitler though. She had potential. At least the Mr. White/Master Billy, Quiz-Boy exchanges are getting more entertaining. Their commentary about Doctor Girlfriend and the baboon's uterus from this week's episode was hilarious. BTW, did you know the Scrotal Safety Commission web site mentioned in episode 9 is real? Well, not real-real, but it's there. Funny stuff.

This Java applet is fun to play with. You can draw these curvy blue chords by left-clicking. Right-click to clear the screen. I made a cool picture of a guy in a trench coat, but I messed it up by trying to add legs (can't undo changes).

Here're a couple keen Flash movies: War and Craziest. I like the song from the first one. Need to catch the name and try to download it.

We tried to play Dwarven Dig on Saturday, but gave it up to play Tongiaki. The rules were overly complicated and the quality of the pieces was pathetic. Kenzer & Co. really suck at making board games I like their comics but everything else, IME, is pretty shoddy. Like their editing. It's atrocious. I notice about four or five spelling/grammar errors in each KODT issue. And these are in the dialogue. How is it that no one proofreads this stuff? And don't get me started on their web site. I just visited kenzerco.com and the freakin' KODT link doesn't even work.

Speaking of Kenzer & Co., there's been talk of a GURPS Hackmaster game (for our group, not an officially licensed book or anything). Given the increasingly predictable disintegration of our games 5-10 sessions in, a return to more traditional fantasy roleplaying might be a good change. Jones' Hackmaster campaign ran about 16 sessions, if I recall correctly. The gypsy-curse Steampunk campaign ran about 9. Theomundi went an amazing 45 sessions. I'm still not sure what made it so playable. (Okay, just got back — was watching TV, forgot where I was going with this.)

Finally got my shower caddy. Very handy. Also picked up some towel racks, a new shower curtain, glasses, a rug, some seat cushions, and a toilet brush.

"1985" by Bowling for Soup is a good song. Hey, check out my submission to this week's Weekly Character Creation Thread (this week: #6: Robots). Oh yeah, Shaun of the Dead was awesome. Will prolly talk about it more later.

11:09 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
3 Oct. 2004 (Sun); Post #517
Lost my main CD binder, or it was stolen. Really sucks because I had a ton of backups and legit software in there. So I bought a new one at Staples, just a 96-CD-capacity one; I find the smaller binders are easier to flip through and fall apart less. I've already started reassembling my old collection of essential utilities, OSes, and apps. W2KP and WXPP I had to download all over again, since my only copies were in the old binder. But at least now I have the versions with SP4/SP2 already included. That'll be handy. Things I still need to recover: WordPerfect 11 (iffy on this; I've gotten so used to the MS Office suite), WinDVD, Knoppix, Civ III PTW, the Magic Online disc, and MS Streets & Trips 2002 (might still have the ISOs around here somewhere). I also have to re-burn a ton of anime (~15 GB), image archives (7 GB), MP3s (7.5 GB), misc. TV shows (~90 GB), ROMs, docs, web site files, et al. But I picked up a bunch of DVD+Rs, so it shouldn't be too grueling.

The GURPS game has been progressing steadily. Last night's session was especially eventful — Cambias (Justin) was killed by a CIA agent at an Essex county hospital. 51 points of damage to the vitals with a single shot from a .44 Magnum. Much later, McUmber (Jones) killed Hunter (Hanwool) and his son in Akron, Ohio. Crushed Hunter between a Slushie machine and a Suburban at 45 MPH, then shot him and the kid. Justin's new character, William Bennet, was picked up in Oklahoma City while the party was making their way to Arizona in a stolen Marriott van.

I went to IF on Friday. Picked up KODT #93-95, the PvP TPB, GURPS Magic Items 3, GURPS All-Star Jam 2004, the Smax TPB, and some miscellaneous comics like Nodwick, Girl Genius, 3 Geeks (new), and PS238. Oh, and I got Dwarven Dig. We were going to try it out on Saturday, but it's only for 2-4 players (we had 5). We're still enjoying Tongiaki anyway, so no problem.

Been playing Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War. Picked it up at Circuit City. A pretty conventional RTS, but it looks good and I'm really liking the resource system. The Space Marine Land Raider is really cool. Don't really care for the Eldar buildings and units.

My parents and I really fixed up my bathroom last week. New paint, new carpet, wall repair (from when we fixed the shower plumbing), light replacement (got rid of those weird hanging lights near the sink). It's much, much nicer now. I just need to do a little paint touchup and get a new shower curtain and one of these things.

BTW, I still have 5 Gmail invites, so if anyone wants one, email spam harvesters suck. Okay, gotta start my Shaun of the Dead torrent and finish up some accounting homework. Here are some pictures.

A four-player game of Tongiaki from the week before last.

Bathroom remodel
My new, cleaner, brighter bathroom.

12:42 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
25 Sep. 2004 (Sat); Post #516
Got most of my dice from DEC. Also got my Mario All-Stars SNES cart. Been playing it quite a bit. Oh, and my Xbox DDR game showed up. Seems to be having a problem with my dance pad though (menu options change when I'm not touching it, sometimes the right sensor doesn't work). Of course, the PS-to-Xbox adapter might have something to do with that. Plus the carpet in the green room is much thicker, which makes the pad less sensitive.

Been experimenting with some new decks on MTGO. I've kind of rebuilt my Pariah deck; it's very successful. I also made a red LD (Land Destruction) deck which everyone really hates. I don't know what it is about LD that ticks people off so badly. DD (Deck Destruction) and HD (Hand Destruction) are a lot less rage-inspiring for some reason. I'd like to make a blue thief deck, but I need more Bribery's, Confiscates, and Acquires. Speaking of MTG, the card list for Champions of Kamigawa is out now. Some very nifty cards in there; I'm particularly interested in the General's Kabuto for my new white deck. And there's some real potential with the whole Arcane Instants/ Splice/ Isochron Scepter interaction.

I downloaded the Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War demo. It seems to be a fairly standard RTS, though you can definitely see the tabletop wargame influence (units can take cover, leaders increase troop morale, etc.). It looks amazing though. Really awesome graphics. The screenshots on their site really don't do the game justice.

Well I'm gonna go have some left-over pizza and watch This Old House. GURPS at 4:00.

Venture Brothers, episode 1

12:37 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
19 Sep. 2004 (Sun); Post #515
Avast! 'Tis "talk like a pirate" day. Yarr. The bilge rats o'er on the SJG forums 'ave picked it up right smartly. Anyhow, me and me mates had a GURPS game last night. We also gave Tongiaki a try. Good game, arr.

Okay, ye lubbers, I got nothin' more to say and me supply o' piratical vernacular is runnin' as low as a waterlogged skiff. Fair winds, me hearties!

Jolly Roger

6:42 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
15 Sep. 2004 (Wed); Post #514
Okay, so Justin's back from California. I donated $5 to MySpleen to get in their contest (the prize is an Adult Swim DVD). Also, it's like insurance against getting banned if my ratio ever gets too low (though that doesn't seem likely... current MySpleen stats: uploaded: 25.53 GB, downloaded: 31.04 GB). Oh, and I got a jury summons. Someone else messed up my form though, so I had to request another copy which still hasn't arrived. Gotta call 'em tomorrow... I'd rather not go to jail for missing jury duty.

Finally got my shower fixed. It's been like a year since I've been able to use it (I used to have to shower at the apartment in the indoor arena). Anyway, the problem was with the valve assembly, so we had to rip part of a wall out. Works really well now.

fixed shower
Fixed shower.

Been playing MTGO lately. I've been trying to stock up on Onslaught, Legions, and Scourge cards from the online shop cuz the boosters/ theme decks/ tourney packs are getting pulled on (IIRC) September 17th. Can't wait for Champions of Kamigawa — it gets released online on November 1. The new mechanics are really neat... Bushido, Soulshift, Splice, flippable creatures. Very exciting. And they finally named the "attacking doesn't cause this creature to tap" thing ("Vigilance"). Hope they name the Spirit Link ability too.

Here're some links: The Life Aquatic (new Wes Anderson movie; my favorite director). Seventh Sanctum: some neat generators/ randomizers. Burn in Hell — new game from SJG, out in November, looks fun.

Have some nifty stuff on the way (all from eBay auctions): Tongiaki (still hasn't arrived), Dance Dance Revolution Ultramix (for the Xbox), GURPS Uplift (out of print, based on the David Brin books), and Mario All-Stars (the SNES cartridge). Oh, and a ton of dice from Dark Elf Collectibles (including the kanji dice).

September sunset
Sunset from last week, taken from behind my house.

10:12 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
8 Sep. 2004 (Wed); Post #513
Got my Chessex dice in the mail. Now all I'm waiting on is my copy of Tongiaki (got it for $12 on eBay). Hopefully it'll arrive soon so I can play it this weekend. It's gotten really good reviews; sounds like a Settlers of Catan-caliber game.

Found a link to this neat "recursive" flash animation somewhere, kinda nifty. And here's a virtual flipbook. Apparently I liked it enough to put the URL in my "stuff for site.doc" file, but in hindsight it's sort of lame. VG Cats did a comic about Final Fantasy: Tactics Advance on Monday. It was okay, but geez, what an old subject. That game came out like a year ago. To quote Family Guy: "Any Titanic jokes you want to throw at me as long as we're hitting these phenomena at the height of their popularity?"

I finished the second set of my 3-D Tile Chess pieces (painted these ones red). Prolly start on set three tomorrow.

BTW, I just found out I have six Gmail invites, so if anyone would like an account, email me at Image used to prevent email harvesting.. Also, I'm now looking for 12-sided polyhedral dice (dodecahedrons) numbered one through six twice. If you know where I can get some, drop me a line.

My dice collection, including 50 new non-pipped d6s.

"There art two cardinal sins from which all others spring: Impatience and Laziness." — Franz Kafka