As long weekends tend to do, this one seems to have gotten away from me, but in a good way. Last week, I found an auction on eBay for the last two X-Men Evolution maquettes I need, as I'm getting Captain America and Wolverine in a trade, and my Colossus should be shipping soon. It was crazy cheap, so I bid on a whim and won. With shipping, it turned out to be less than one of them would have cost me individually, so I did good.
I spent the day yesterday with Brook, Wendi, and Kytte, hanging out and doing stuff. It was mostly Kytte and Brook and me, because Liz and Wendi were working on a dress for a wedding Wendi is going to be in, so we three just goofed off and played games. My Game of Thrones deck got its ass kicked a couple of times, so I reworked it, and there's a tournament today over at the funnybook store, so I'm hoping to head over and try it out against to real competition.
Kytte turned me on to the wonders of On-Demand cable, where you can use your digital cable box to watch shows whenever you want. No extra TIVO, just go through their long lists of complimentary (yup, it's free) shows, movies, and so on until you find what you want to watch, hit a button, and it comes to your box. You can pause it, and watch it again up to 24 hours after hitting the button. For example, I was pissed off that I missed the Lewis Black special on HBO. I kept trying to find when it would be on again. Lo and behold, there it is on On-Demand, so I watched it this morning, for free, and even paused it to run to the loo. Ain't technology great?
Sunday, May 30, 2004
As long weekends tend to do, this one seems to have gotten away from me, but in a good way. Last week, I found an auction on eBay for the last two X-Men Evolution maquettes I need, as I'm getting Captain America and Wolverine in a trade, and my Colossus should be shipping soon. It was crazy cheap, so I bid on a whim and won. With shipping, it turned out to be less than one of them would have cost me individually, so I did good.
Friday, May 28, 2004
I've felt yuck all day. I woke up with my joints aching, particularly my right elbow, where I strained it lifting back in college. It's still a little sore. I felt really listless today, unable to focus, and generally unmotivated and tired for no real reason. If I didn't know better, I'd say it was some kind of depression. The afternoon was a fire that turned into a nuclear explosion, so at least I got to get up, move around, and bust my ass really quickly, but now it's 5:30 and I feel like a sea cucumber again.
I'd post something interesting, but the fact is there isn't a hell of a lot of interesting shit going on in my life right now. Bush continues his downward slide in the polls, and although Kerry doesn't exactly seem like a progressive reformer, he seems like a good politician and statesman, and as such will make a good counterbalance to Bush's absolutely reckless foreign policies. I suspect a lot of people will vote for him because he's "not Bush," not because he comes across as a youthful reformer (as Clinton did in the last time we ousted a Bush from office). But I find myself losing interest even in the election, as it seems more and more than people are finally figuring out that this administration has been playing us for saps.
I'm starting a character in a Shadowrun game we're going to run at work, which I'm looking forward to. The GM is the guy who's in charge of the continuity and creative control for the Shadowrun universe, so I figured it would be a waste not to take advantage of this opportunity. And it seems like everyone else is really into the game, which will make it easier for me to get into as well.
Let's see, I'm thinking of more things to write before Liz gets here. I thought about switching my Blog template. This old one looks pretty tired, and now that Blogspot has made some revisions, I might try to take advantage of their hard work and find something prettier.
OK, I lied earlier: here is something that's kind of interesting. Someone pretending to be Andy Kaufman has created a blog. It's pretty funny, and so are the (thousands of) comments on it, too.
Wednesday, May 26, 2004
The Monkey King linked to a very interesting article on the Christian Reconstructionist movement and its influence not only on modern American Christian thought, but on modern American politics. The author is a little glib, but sifting through the personal opinion to the facts, especially about the beliefs and influence of the Reconstructionists, reveals the lengths to which some people will go to ignore reason in favor of a belief-system that makes them feel powerful and self-affirmed.
Invest in duct tape and Saran wrap! Head into the fallout shelters! Our Fearless Leaders have said it's time to be afraid again!
It's so hard to believe, with the overwhelming effectiveness of the War on Terror and the War for Oil that America should ever be threatened! That their numbers should be growing! We've done everything right, and yet we still want you to live in fear!
Synonym for fear: terror. Al Quaeda is closer to victory every day. And yes, according to the second article, their numbers are swelling, based in no small part to the conflict in Iraq.
So let's review the effectiveness of foriegn policy under this administration:
- No Osama bin Laden.
- Al Quaeda just as capable of pulling off a major terror attack, and their numbers are flourishing thanks to...
- A war in Iraq fought for bogus reasons that has achieved nothing but turning the entire Arab world against the US.
Wow. It makes me proud to be an American! Because I know in the next non-tampered-with Presidential election, old Bushie-Boy is gonna go back to Texas to suck his thumb and sulk.
Tuesday, May 25, 2004
I was pretty awful, not updating all weekend. I spent most of the weekend doing me-things, which unfortunately didn't include updating this blog. Nor did it involve finishing the last scene of my novel, which I'm going to do right after this.
Oops, Deadwood is on in 6 minutes. OK, so not quite right after this.
Watched Shrek 2. It's easily the funniest movie I've seen in a long, long time. Probably since Super Troopers. Puss-In-Boots is priceless, especially if you're a cat person.
And... didn't do a hell of a lot else. Put away a lot of hours on my Civ 3 game.
Saturday, May 22, 2004
Like a transition from one of my stories, it seems that real life has taken an interesting turn.
It is now all over the news wires that Ahmed Chalabi has very likely given extraordinarily classified information to Iran. Information so classified, according to the article, that "only 'a handful' of senior officials know them."
I'm going to recount some facts, and then form a conclusion.
Fact: Chalabi was one of the key sources of information about WMDs in Iraq, and insisted to the Bush administration that al Quaeda was connected with Saddam. And, he also happened to be a supporter of Israel.
Fact: Soon after US forces entered Baghdad, Chalabi was flown in under the protection of several hundred soldiers, and soon became on of the architects of the Iraqi National Congress, and was responsibile for millions of US taxpayer dollars as he attempted to rebuild Iraq.
Fact: The State Department issued warnings about Chalabi. These warnings were ignored by the Pentagon, who believed Chalabi to be working in America's best interests. After all, he's an Arab that supports Israel. He can't be that bad, right?
Fact: On Monday, forces raided Chalabi's compound in Baghdad. Chalabi claimed that it was engineered by Baathist (Saddam's party) forces that had somehow infiltrated the US armed forces.
Fact: Today, CBS reported that Chalabi met with an Iranian intelligence officer and exchanged information, including the above-mentioned classified info.
Fact: Iran had no love for Iraq. Iran is a theocracy. Iraq was a secular government, run by a military dictator. In fact, Iran and Iraq openly fought a war twenty years ago - a war in which the US supported Saddam.
Conclusion: What if Chalabi had been working for Iran all along? What if everything, from the faulty intelligence about WMDs and al Quaeda passed to the United States, to the taxpayer dollars he's been responsible for, to the US secrets he's passed to Iran, was part of a scheme to rid Iran of its enemy?
What if the entire Iraq war was a way to play the United States as a patsy, to get us to do what the Ayatollah could not? And the Bush administration, wanting so very hard to believe, fell for it hook, line, and sinker?
Not only would it mean an even more wretched waste of American life than a war motivated simply by oil and profit, this scenario has just moved from outrageous conspiracy theory to distinct possiblity.
Friday, May 21, 2004
One of my friends, who recently got diverced, ended up with her husband's Gamecube and a bunch of accessories. The Gamecube is the last system I wanted. So I got rid of a bunch of my Mage Knight figures that were taking up space by swapping 'Cube for 'Knight. I've now got all three of the modern-gen game systems. I don't know why that makes me happy, but it does.
Here's something cool from The Monkey King: a guide to traveling the world by ocean freighter. I love the Internet.
Thursday, May 20, 2004
Thursday Morning Blues
I haven't had a hell of a lot of time for real updates lately (OK, not in quite a while), but this week even less so. With great promotions come great responsibility, or something like that. I found out this week that another person in my department had resigned, so I was basically going to be taking all of my new responsibilities and keeping all of my old ones, because they were going to replace her. I found out yesterday, after spending the entire day fumbling through half-remembered HTML code and breaking our website no less than five times, that they are actually going to bring someone else in. That announcement couldn't have come at a better time.
Last night Liz was gone at puppy training, so I put my time to good use and knocked out another thousnd words on Crocodile Man. I have one last half of one scene to go to complete the current chapter, which I'm going to try to do this morning before I go to work if I can. I also tried my hand at a freelance contract I received, future contracts hinging on my work with this one. It's pretty simple, writing a press release, but it's for a completely different kind of company than the one I work for in my regular job, so I enjoyed the challenge. I had to distill a whole lot of rambling information into a compelling story, and it went through a couple of iterations until I think I got it right, with Liz offering advice and input as I went.
Tonight, I'm going to a Sherman Alexie book signing / reading at a bookstore downtown, and depending on when it's over, we may hook up with Kevin and Kim to see Shrek 2, which looks fantastic from all the reviews I've seen.
Wednesday, May 19, 2004
Tuesday, May 18, 2004
There's an excellent post on Talking Points Memo regarding the Kerry campaign and why it hasn't been attacking Bush left and right for what is becoming an increasing failure of a presidency. Talking Points is one of my daily reads (OK, several times a day), and its author is one of the freshest political commentators out there who isn't working for The Daily Show.
I spent a lot more time than usual staring into the abyss today. It's not like I do that on a regular basis, but after a shredding day at work today, it seemed to come naturally. My promotion became official today, and another co-worker gave two weeks notice, meaning that I'm going to be inheriting about 90% of someone's job and taking on about 80% of my old job as well.
But I stared, and as usual, the abyss stared back. See, it's a game I like to play - suspend myself, see how far I can go without falling.
More importantly, I came out OK. Better than OK; I feel a calm I haven't felt in a long time.
The Seattle Times ran an interesting article about a local group that trades volunteer time with each other. It works like this: I put my name in the group as a person with a certain skill, say, a mechanic. If someone needs a mechanic, I volunteer to go work on their car. For each hour I work, I get paid in a certain amount of "time bucks," which I can then use to request services from others. It's certainly got a certain ring of a sustainable lifestyle not focused on greed or hording. I've been looking for a volunteer organization to get involved with, and this sounds even better: a community network of like-minded individuals, all helping each other out.
Monday, May 17, 2004
From the There's Some Crazy Shit Out There Department
Here's a website where you can tell a guy in a chicken outfit what to do. He follows a lot of different commands, like "watch TV," "sit," "read a book," and so on. It's a pretty slick use of canned video if nothing else.
I haven't had a whole lot of time for blogging lately, partially due to work and the work I've been doing at home, which sort of culminates (although it's only going to be the beginning) today in my promotion at work to Communications Manager. I've never been a manager before, so I'm excited, but also scared because I'm basically taking over 80% of our web guy's responsibilities and keeping about 50% of my old job's responsibilities, so I have a feeling I'm going to be working some very late nights in the near future.
The weekend was nice, relaxing, and low-key. Saturday we loafed around, eventually went out and did some shopping. Sunday I took last in a Game of Thrones tournament and spent the rest of the day playing Civ 3 and watching Firefly. I'm not sure how I missed such a cool show when it was on, but I really wish it would have continued. It's got a nice, Western feel, kind of like Jeremiah, although more sci-fi and not as SF as that other show. Oh, and Deadwood was on last night, thankfully a more light-hearted episode after last week's emotional mindfuck.
Sunday, May 16, 2004
Saturday, May 15, 2004
Good Catholic Boy
I have a love-hate relationship with the Catholic Church, although most of the time it's more love than hate. I was raised Catholic, and although I don't follow the tenets of the faith as a means to salvation, Catholocism still seems like the "Christianity of Choice" for me.
So it disturbs me when I see trends in the Church I don't like, because it usually gives people who dislike the Church a lot of stones to throw unnecessarily. Today, I drafted a letter to Bishop Michael Sheridan of the Colorado Springs diocese about a recent article he published in his diocese newspaper (Acrobat required for link).
I have no problem with what Sheridan is saying: that Catholics shouldn't vote for politicians who oppose Church teachings, such as teachings on abortion and gay rights. Fine, dandy, whatever. Most Catholics use some form of birth control, so that tells you how many Catholics feel about the more absurdly conservative rules of the Church.
What got me about this article though is that Sheridan didn't mention two other things the Church opposes: the war in Iraq, and the death penalty. See, if parishoners were asked to vote against politicians who believe in either of those things, then old Bushie wouldn't get re-elected. Which is not only hypocritical, it represents one of my largest complaints about religion: buffet-faith, where you choose which parts of a religion you like and then call yourself whatever religion you happen to be eating at the momennt. And as tasty as a buffet sounds at the moment, it's not a good way to practice your faith. Asking voters to oppose a candidate who's pro-choice and pro-gay-rights is fine, that's what the Church teaches, so they are entitled to tell their parishioners to do that. But to blatantly disregard the Church's teachings on war and the death penalty? That's not religion, it's politics disguised as religion, and shoddy religion at that.
I wrote the Bishop an email inviting him to correct this "oversight," and I'll share any response I get with you.
Friday, May 14, 2004
From the Reality is Disgusting Department
I've read two seperate blogs today where their authors have been attacked for commenting on American soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners, and not commenting on masked men beheading Nicholas Berg. Although I have no real comment on this appaling video - it is what it is - I will say that the reason I was outraged over the American soldiers abusing prisoners is that I expect more from American troops than I do from Al-Quaeda terrorists. I could write an essay about that, but I think, in this instance, saying less is more.
Towards that end, I offer a website where you can download and watch the video. It will require you to download and install DivX if it's not already on your computer. I'll warn ya, even though it's in a pretty low resolution, it's very, very graphic and disturbing.
Thursday, May 13, 2004
Top 100 Things I'd Do If I Joined A Special Ops Team
Brook sent this to me at work today. I don't know who to credit for it.
"Top 100 Things I'd Do If I Joined A Special Ops Team"
1. I would refuse to go into the underground research facility.
2. I would refuse to go into the deep-space research facility.
3. I would refuse to go into the deep-sea research facility.
4. I would refuse to go into the radio-blacked out colony.
5. I would refuse to go into the derelict alien ship.
6. I would refuse to go into the abandoned ghost ship.
7. If I was then forced into attempting any of the above six missions, I would attempt to go AWOL. Prison showers are almost certainly preferable to what awaits.
8. When going on a mission, I would certainly carry more than one gun. I would carry as many as humanly possible.
9. In line with #8, I would carry more than one clip per gun. I have a belt, and I intend to fill it.
10. If the hallways of the operations area are big enough to allow it, I intend to bring along a small field artillery piece as well.
11. No matter what my commanding officer says, if my job is to plant a nuclear device to destroy the facility/ship, it is not necessary for me to endanger my life by traveling to the center of the structure to plant the bomb, I'm sure the entrance will prove just as effective.
12. If my job is to disable the AI system that runs the facility/ship, and this would require me to go to the center of the structure, I will just plant a small nuclear device at the entrance. If the blast doesn't get it, the EMP will.
13. If I am equipped with body armor, and it proves ineffective against whatever killed everyone in the facility/ship, I will ditch it and use the saved weight to carry more guns.
14. Along the same lines, if the body armor is ineffective and so are the guns, I will ditch both and set a new track record on my way out of the ops area.
15. I will refuse to wear any helmet that restricts my peripheral vision and does not allow me to see something rising up/dropping down right beside me.
16. I will request to be equipped with a helmet that has a small HUD linked to a camera on the back of my helmet. An additional HUD linked to a upward-pointing top mounted camera would be nice as well.
17. If I am going into some top secret facility that has lost radio communication with the outside world, I will make damn sure that I am in possession of a high quality, up to date map in a form that will not be rendered unreadable by contact with liquid.
18. If I could not obtain a map, and found myself lost/trapped in the facility, I would not rely on the unstable, homicidal central AI to provide me with escape routes.
19. If I am inside a facility/ship after the shit has hit the fan, and find myself without a map, I will head to the nearest computer terminal and consult Yahoo! Maps. The facility was built by a corporation or the government, and they can certainly afford an internet connection.
20. If there is a self-destruct mechanism or impenetrable blast doors set on a running timer within the building/ship I am ordered to enter, I will guard the entrances until the timer runs out, then leave. The problem will take care of itself eventually, so there is no need to risk myself.
21. If mine is not the first team to be sent into the area, I will take a little time off to wonder why.
22. If the music suddenly gets really creepy, start spinning around with your finger on the trigger. Whoever was guarding your back is probably gone by this point anyway.
23. Before I go on each mission, I will rent Aliens, Resident Evil, Event Horizon, and other similar movies for pointers. I will defer the costs to my employer as "training expenses".
24. If there is something dripping from the ceiling up ahead, I won't bother to check if it's just water. I will leave the area immediately by the quickest available route.
25. If I hear odd noises, I will not be foolish enough to investigate it alone. I will take a friend. Or two. With big guns.
26. If I am ordered to investigate the noise by my commanding officer, I will take everyone else in the squad with me. By the time we return to where the CO was waiting, the problem will probably have solved itself.
27. If I am forced to walk underneath a hole in the ceiling, I will be cautious. I will investigate it thoroughly with high explosives.
28. Likewise, If I hear odd noises coming from the ceiling, I will not lift up a panel and stick my head up to have a look around. I will lift up the panel and shove a grenade up there.
29. Similarly, if I am forced to pass a hole/grate in the walls or floor, I will throw a grenade in to make sure its clear now, and set proximity mines to make sure it is clear later.
30. Unless it is my last chance for survival, I will never go into any type of ventilation shaft. I know that whatever chased me up there will almost certainly be able to move faster than me in an enclosed space.
31. I will always take some sort of sword with me in addition to a multitude of projectile weapons. That way, when I run out of ammunition, and I will, I won't have to ineffectually slap at an opponent before being killed.
32. Knowingly entering a facility where illegal genetic research is being preformed would be consigning myself to death by stupidity. Therefore, I wouldn't enter, even if this entailed killing the rest of my team to avoid it.
33. I would never enter a dark room. I would throw in a handful of grenades and move on, assured that if anything is still alive in there, it isn't happy.
34. I wont make the mistake of shooting something with my smallest gun first, and then working my way up through the larger firearms. I would start with my biggest gun, and if that didn't work, run like hell.
35. If I was sent off with only one companion, I would make sure it is someone I could outrun. That way, I can get away while whatever was chasing us chews on him.
36. If there are women on the team, I will never sleep with them right before a mission. One or the other of us will almost certainly not make it back, and I don't like 50/50 odds.
37. If a team-member disappears mysteriously for a long period of time and the just as mysteriously reappears, I will shoot them immediately and save myself a lot of trouble.
38. I will periodically look up. The importance of this can never be overstated.
39. If I am in a genetic research lab and there are lots of cages whose steel doors have been torn out, I will think about how much punishment those doors could take. Then I will think about how much punishment my frail human body can take. Then I will start thinking about where those exits were.
40. No matter how tempted I am, I will never deactivate the main power in a research facility. I know those doors are magnetically locked and electrified for a reason.
41. I will also never deactivate the main computer in a facility. Even though its automated defenses may be slaughtering the rest of the team, they are still holding back whatever killed the original occupants.
42. I will stay away from any elevators. Nothing good ever comes from an elevator in these situations.
43. I will never negotiate with whatever is trying to kill my team. The dialogue will almost certainly be along the lines of "Me hungry, you food".
44. If one of my team-members gets bitten, cut, sprayed with, or otherwise exposed to a bio-agent, I will kill them immediately. They will only turn on me, and the antidote never works anyway.
45. The sexiest female will always make it out, mainly because she is surrounded by men who willingly throw themselves in the path of anything that attempts to harm her. I will stay close to that female, and when I am the last male left, I will throw her in the path of whatever is attempting to harm us.
46. I will make sure that when I finally make my exit from the ops area, I have conserved a decent amount of ammunition. Something always goes wrong during the escape.
47. If I find only one survivor from among 500 or so people, I will not trust them. They had to do something to survive the carnage that killed 500 people, and I don't think it was just run really fast.
48. I will make sure the team will under no circumstances split up. It never helps.
49. If upon arriving in the ops area I hear a lot of screams from inside or see a lot of obviously mutilated dead bodies, I will leave the ops area and come back later. With more people. And bigger guns.
50. I will train myself to keep my cool under pressure well enough to hit a head sized target at a range of 10 feet.
51. I will request that any ops team I am a part of be issued body armor with environmental resistance, which provides protection from things like fire, airborne viruses, and acid.
52. I will also request that aforementioned armor have a reflective mirrored surface, to help with those pesky automated laser defenses.
53. If I see something in the shadows up ahead that at first glance does not appear human, I will forgo taking the time for a second look and lob a grenade at it instead.
54. If I see something in the shadows up ahead that at first glance appears vaguely human, I will forgo taking the time for a second look and lob a grenade at it instead.
55. If I see something in the shadows up ahead that at first glance appears human, I will forgo taking the time for a second look and lob a grenade at it instead. Better safe than sorry.
56. If multiple survivors are found during the course of the mission, they will be given a gun and told to make themselves useful.
57. However, if these survivors created or want to study whatever depopulated the facility/ship, they will not be given guns as they cannot be trusted to use them at the crucial moment, due to their conflict of interests.
58. Between missions I will lobby for legislature to require all secret research facilities to have heavily stocked ammo dumps in easily accessible, well marked locations.
59. If my team is required to use motion detectors, they better be able to scan 360 degrees, not merely 90.
60. If the body count is currently over 500, I will politely inform my superiors that an 8 man operations team isn't going to cut it.
61. If any member of the team is prone to claustrophobia, diver's high, space-mania, or panic attacks, I will deliver a request to the CO that they be left behind, instead of just being given a pep talk.
62. If any member of the team proves to be a corporate/government spy, I will shoot them before anyone else can react, saving the trouble of taking them prisoner only so they can escape later and sabotage the mission.
63. I will recommend that any form of transportation we have be parked well away from the trouble spot, and that the operator stays in it and keeps the doors sealed until the team is standing outside and ready to leave.
64. If we have a spare transport I will recommend that we have a spare pilot as well, to save having to remote control fly the transport in if something happens to the first.
65. If any member of the team takes a revolver on the mission, I will take it from them, hand them an automatic, and then slap them silly for being so stupid.
66. I will ensure that all guns have perfectly calibrated laser sights, even if I must pay for them myself, so that missing a headshot is inexcusable.
67. If the team gets out of an operations area and find we are missing a man, I will recommend we leave his ass. He should have kept up in the first place.
68. If our mission is to shut down a rouge AI, I will not discuss our plans in any room with a visible camera and/or audio pickup.
69. Screw shoulder-mounted flashlights, Ill carry a pair of night vision goggles even if the cost has to come out of my paycheck.
70. The same goes for little pen-lights. I will carry a 3 foot mag-lite with a halogen bulb. That way, not only do I get a huge flashlight range, it can double as a club in tight situations.
71. If I am low on ammunition, I won't hesitate to roll the bodies of my teammates for ammo. They certainly don't need it anymore.
72. If I learn that the beings we are fighting have acid for blood or that their blood contains some sort of bio-agent, I will make damn sure I am at least 15 feet away from any I shoot.
73. If my team possesses an APC, but it won't fit into the corridors of the ops area, I'll rectify the situation with explosives instead of going in on foot.
74. Just in case my opponents will be using cloaking devices that short out upon contact with water, I will always carry a small super-soaker pistol with me on missions.
75. If I am forced to pick a position within a facility from which to make a last stand, it will not be a room which can easily be breached by going above the ceiling or under the floor.
76. If I hear a low hissing or moaning directly behind me, I will take off running without thinking. Whatever it is, its first bite of me is going to be ass.
77. If anyone in the squad has a flamethrower, I will make sure everyone else is trained to instinctively duck whenever he even begins to turn around.
78. When the team's mission is to plant a bomb I will make sure we have more than one bomb, and more than one person who knows how to plant it.
79. If I am going into an area in where research in biological warfare was occurring, I will not remove my gas mask before entering the facility.
80. If there is a countdown to an explosion or the sealing off of the facility, I will set my watch timer 10 minutes ahead of that to give myself a margin of safety.
81. If any of the people we've rescued or one of my team members starts to convulse and scream, ill have the guy with the flamethrower hose them down and then move on. If it is the napalm guy I'll just shoot the tank. Whatever made them do it, I seriously doubt it was a cramp.
82. If my team has heavy weaponry with us, I will not wait until there are only a few people left and we are surrounded and in dire straits to use them. I will use them as early and as often as possible.
83. Similarly, if I have a large ship in orbit over the planet, and find out that there are no survivors in a heavily infested area, I will call for an orbital bombardment of the hot zone.
84. If I hear odd noises coming from a grate nearby, I won't stare quizzically at it and shine a weak flashlight beam through the grate, I will immediately empty my current clip into the grate then kick it in and send a grenade into the tunnel.
85. If we have prisoners, and one of them is talking to me steadily in a calm voice while staring behind me, I will immediately dive to the side and roll to hose whatever was about to attack me. I will show the same response if a team-member looks behind me with an expression of horror.
86. If I address a query to the guy that should be behind me, and receive no immediate response, I will immediately break into a dead run, dropping grenades along the way.
87. If I find that rooms marked on my map as dining halls turn out to be full of stasis chambers and odd piping instead, I will immediately leave the ops area and refuse to enter until I get a damn good explanation.
88. If we manage to ambush whatever was killing us, and I hear a high pitched beeping and it starts laughing, I will be smart enough to just start running, instead of searching it for the timer.
89. I will never walk through water any deeper than I can see down into. I won't walk in the water period if there is electric cabling nearby.
90. Any transports that we bring into the ops area and intend to use to escape will have cameras on the outside to allow us to scan for unwanted guests.
91. Along the same line, the landing bay/pad we return to will have several large turrets to take care of any stowaways we miss.
92. I will point out to my superiors that if the corporation/government has enough money to fund an 8 man black ops team, they have enough damn money to buy us a remote controlled robot with cameras that we can send in to scout the area first.
93. My favored method of advance down a dark corridor will be with a five man team, the first man hosing down the corridor in front, the second throwing a grenade, the third hauling the huge cart of ammo and explosives the fourth throwing a grenade behind us, and the fifth hosing down the corridor behind. Take five steps, repeat.
94. My favored method of advance down a well-lit corridor will be with a five man team, the first man hosing down the corridor in front, the second throwing a grenade, the third hauling the huge cart of ammo and explosives the fourth throwing a grenade behind us, and the fifth hosing down the corridor behind. Take ten steps, repeat.
95. If a cat comes flying out of a vent, scaring the shit out of me, I will unload a clip into the vent. Something scared the cat.
96. I will hold the belief that heavy breathing from the nearby darkness is not to be investigated. It is to be used for target practice.
97. Warning shots are for whusses. Fire for effect, that's my motto.
98. If the other people with me have all disappeared, I won't bother wandering around the immediate area looking for them and yelling their names, peering into dark rooms.
99. When any member of my squad dies, I will have them hosed down with the flamethrower or plant a proximity mine on them. No use feeding or increasing the numbers of whatever is trying to kill us.
100. If I die on a mission, it will be because I snapped my neck trying to look everywhere at once.
Wednesday, May 12, 2004
Change of Plans
Last night, instead of breaking my plans with Brook, Wendi, and Chad, I decided to run the Skull & Bones game rather than join Mutants and Masterminds, which worked out for the best because my character wasn't ready, and last night was one of the best nights of role-playing I've run. The current adventure is one of my favorite kinds, with very little (so far, no) fighting and a lot of roleplaying. The players really seem to like it, too, so I might have to adjust what I'm doing in the future a bit. The night ended with one of the characters on trial; she was aquitted of one charge, but found guilty of piracy, and was due to be hanged when the governor of the colony pardoned her. But it seems that the people pulling the strings weren't done with her yet, and the entire thing was a political setup for a larger scheme that's going to be yet another setup for what will eventually lead to war - which will, in turn, be something that another group needs to fuel their evil plans.
And of course, the only ones who can save the day are the party!
Political intrigues, epic stories, this is my kind of roleplaying game! Hopefully, I can squeeze a Ravenloft game out of someone in the future, but I have a feeling once Skull & Bones is over, I might move on to other things. I've had the strange urge to try my hand at All Flesh Must Be Eaten, or a d20 Modern equivelant.
Tuesday, May 11, 2004
It's cool when part of your workday is to go see movies. Today, the crew went to Van Helsing, which got terrible reviews but is a movie I've alternately looked forward to and cringed at the preview for. It turned out to be somewhere in the middle. Like the other Universal Stephen Sommers monster-adventure movies (The Mummy and The Mummy Returns), this was basically a large, cartoony CGI festival. Those kinds of things have their place, but to me bad CGI is one of the things that completely ruins a movie. If you can break through the believability barrier, I'll basically go along for the ride on just about anything, but cartoony CGI doesn't work like that, unless it's consistency and deliberately cartoony, a la Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Sadly, the CGI here was just plain distracting. The overacting wasn't an issue (it's a b-movie after all), the plot was paper-thin but that wasn't the issue either. I feel that it would have worked much better as an anime, because the cartoony nature of the monsters wouldn't be an issue and they could focus more on the fights, the adventure, and so forth. I didn't hate it, but I'm certainly glad I didn't spend any money on it.
The rest of my day was filled with the usual work-stuff. Tonight, I'm going to finish my character for Jon's Mutants and Masterminds game, which we're running tomorrow.
Monday, May 10, 2004
End of the Weekend
Saturday morning Liz and I met Angela (sans John) to see Super Size Me, which turned out to be better than I expected. It wasn't terribly Moore-ish, but it dragged on way too long (although, in fairness, that may have been because I was royally uncomfortable in the seat and I needed to get up and walk around). The movie's best parts included the opening credits, an excellent montage set to Queen's "Fat Bottomed Girls;" the numbers reflecting Morgan's declining health; and his exploration of what the food industry is pushing in schools. It wasn't preachy - in fact, his vegan hippie girlfriend came off as shrewish and annoying (but I tend to find vegan hippies shrewish and annoying anyway) - but the underlying message was certainly clear: fast food is awful, don't buy it. And he did an excellent job of making you want to follow that advice.
After the film, we stopped by my comic store to pick up several weeks worth of funnybooks, and ran by Scarecrow to look for a DVD of the original cut of Shaolin Soccer before the Disney-fied cut is released here and the old DVD is extinct. They didn't have it, but I grabbed a copy of an import version of Trainspotting with an unbelievably high-bitrate audio and video transfer (translation for the non-home-theater buffs: it looks and sounds GREAT on my TV and stereo). Then we dropped Angela back at her place and went furniture shopping, a quest that turned fruitless yet again as we saw no sofas for less than $1500.
Sunday, we excersized one of our last options and drove out to the La-Z-Boy store in Issaquah. My dad swears by La-Z-Boy furniture; I inherited his recliner, a chair dating from the late 1960s, when I went off to college and the only reason I ditched it when I left was that it wouldn't fit in the car. And, the stuffing was leaking and the fabric was worn. But, the structure of the chair was intact! We found La-Z-Boy's prices much, much more reasonable and found a great sofa at a great price. Two recliners, and the middle cushion folds down to create a console with drinkholders and a place for stuff. And it's firm enough to support the back, but soft enough to be comfortable. It'll be delivered in eight weeks, since they didn't have it in the fabric we wanted.
In the afternoon, we trotted over to Home Depot so Liz could grab some seeds and soil for a little herb garden she's planning outside, and we swung by Bed, Bath, and Beyond. They keep sending us these 20%-off coupons in the mail (a blatant but effective means of luring you in), so I used one to get an item I've always wanted: a Kit-Kat Clock. It's on the kitchen wall, and I have to admit it looks kind of sinister with its huge, nonblinking eyes. Like it's watching me.
I get to see Van Helsing at work today. I really hope it doesn't suck, but I'm glad I don't have to pay to see it.
Saturday, May 08, 2004
Michael Moore, the liberal counterpart to Rush Limbaugh, may have been manufacturing the recent contraversy surrounding the release of his new film Farenheit 9/11. At this point, I could care less. I doubt one pseudo-documentary film is going to change anyone's opinion of the president at this point; those who love him will denounce Moore as a fat liar who manufactures reality, and those who hate Bush will latch on and say it's great stuff. Those interested in a modicum of intelligent debate will be left watching the further polarization of American politics.
Incidentally, I'm going to see Super Size Me today, a Moore-style documentary about a guy who eats nothing but McDonald's for a month. I can't say I'm all that interested in the film, but it might be good and I get to see Angela and John, so that'll be fun.
Friday, May 07, 2004
Most of my work day was sucked up by a marathon meeting today, and a lunch gig. About halfway through lunch, things started to get painful from last Friday's trip to the doctor. I'm so doped up on ibuprofin right now I feel like going to sleep.
As one of my readers pointed out the other day, I often use Ann Coulter as a voodoo doll. That's because Ann has said, among other things, that liberals are spineless, treasonous people who should be killed. It's in her New York Times best-selling book Treason. In fact, it's one of the "thesis" of that tome.
Tonight, I offer another voodoo doll, and I'm warning you right now that I'm gonna take some cheap shots.
If you've been around any kind of official news agency, you know by now that it appears that American and British soldiers (the "coalition of the willing," remember) have been abusing inmates in an Iraqi prison for the better part of the last year. You may recall that I posted something a while back about imprisoning family members of high-ranking Baathists as a means of flushing these wanted men out into the open - a tactic Saddam himself used against his opponents. You may recall my indignation: since there were obviously no weapons of mass destruction anywhere in Iraq, and the new PR spin on the whole war was LIBERATION, wasn't it a little hypocritical to be imprisoning the family members of wanted Iraqis - family members who, themselves, did nothing wrong?
If you thought I was indignant then, just wait.
It's bad enough that American soldiers are torturing these people. But we're not talking about lashes with a wet noodle here. We're talking riding a 70-year-old woman around like a horse. We're talking dragging naked people around by leashes. We're talking about forcing six men to stand together with their penises between each other asscheeks, because it's funny to make prisoners look like they are having anal sex with each other. Don't believe it's true? Go ahead and read the report. If you do, you'll be better off than Bush, who hadn't read it until this Tuesday.
Did you see how I sarcastically called it "funny" to do these things to the people we liberated? Well, there's someone out there who thinks it's all in good fun. Good old Rush Limbaugh. In a move that made me wonder if the Hillbilly Heroin was still coursing through his cholesterol-saturated veins, Rush said, and I quote:
"This is no different than what happens at the Skull and Bones initiation and we're going to ruin people's lives over it and we're going to hamper our military effort, and then we are going to really hammer them because they had a good time. You know, these people are being fired at every day. I'm talking about people having a good time, these people, you ever heard of emotional release? You of heard of need to blow some steam off?"
So there you have it. No big deal. They were just having a good time, blowing off some steam. You know, like a frat party, like a Skull and Bones frat party.
If you read through the article I linked to above, you'll notice that Rush also likens it to art produced with an NEA grant. A true class act, that Rush.
Mark my words: if this had happened under Clinton in Kosovo, and someone "liberal" like Howard Stern had made those remarks, he would have been yanked off the air faster than you can clap your hands - that is, if Clinton wasn't forcibly removed from office first for allowing this to happen. The greatest travesty of this is that no one on the right, conservative and neo-con alike, is calling for Limbaugh to remove himself from the air, or at least apologize. And Bush's approval ratings are still right around 49%. 49% of the people think he's doing a good job. Just let that sink in for a moment.
And have a good night's sleep.
Thursday, May 06, 2004
I've got some pretty big things to do at work today. We're on a mission to nail some editorial coverage for one of our new games in major magazines, so I'm going to use some of my freelancing experience to attempt that. Granted, these are the kinds of magazines I temped for when I was in New York trying to start my publishing career there, not the kind I typically wrote for, but I think I can make the upgrade.
Speaking of freelance work, I've got a net-meeting tonight with a tech firm down in San Francisco I managed to hook up with for a couple hours of freelance work each week. It's funny, they played WizKids games, and saw some of my articles and press releases and contacted me about doing a bit of work for them here and there. It may be the first time someone has actually knocked on my door about me doing freelance work - not that I'm complaining, mind you, but it's still a weird feeling, and I get the feeling that once they see what I can do, it might turn into more freelance work as I have the time. Not a bad supplement, and it certainly won't hurt to add it to the portfolio.
The diversity of some of my past work amazes me. On one hand, I keep comparing myself to other fiction writers - Nabokov and Stephen King, who were already publishing short stories by the time they were my age. But, then again, I turn around and go "I'm relatively young, and I've worked for the Indian Nations Council of Governments and Chevron-Texaco." The impressive nature of my portfolio comes from nonfiction, technical writing and editing, rather than the fiction I'd really like to be writing. I hope I don't end up blinking, wake up at sixty with an impressive body of technical work, an ulcer, and permanent back problems, but still not a single piece of fiction published. I'm sure that won't happen, but it's a fear.
Conquerors and Concubines
An imaginary cookie to anyone who gets the musical reference in the heading.
Let me explain why I'm not getting involved in City of Heroes. Beginning this weekend, I pulled out Civ 3 and took it for a spin. Since then, for the last few days, I've spent nearly all of my free time parked in front of my computer, playing it. My ass hurts. Literally, right around the tailbone is sore from sitting for so long. I can feel my exercise starting to wear off. I've got the sensation that my body is turning into mush. And still I play.
Because, when I get into a game, I go all the way. I generally don't play around with a game, skipping this and that. I get into it. I intentionally delay finishing levels so I can make sure I've found every little secret. If the map is 99.9% uncovered, I'll spend hours trying to fill in the last 0.1%. It's fucking obsessive, and dangerous to my person (as the pained ass can attest) and to others (as my ever-patient wife can attest).
I've gotten none of the writing done that I need to get done. Nor any of the writing that I want to get done. I've got a story ready for its final edits, and I've put it off. I've got a novel that I'm about 13,000 words away from finishing, and nada. And I've got stuff for the website at work I keep back-burnering.
In good news, though, I think we've switched our Skull & Bones to Thursdays, and I'm going to join up with Jon's Mutants and Masterminds game on alternating Tuesdays. I can better justify another gaming night than I can wasting more time in front of this machine doing nada. Don't ask me how.
So I'm going to get some writing done tonight, if it fucking kills me. I want it to be my novel. We'll see if the muse is being kind. I'm sweating from sitting still, the air circulation in this room is terrible. I've got a bootleg of Roger Clyne's live shows at Nita's Hideaway back in '98 playing, so the writing mood is actually pretty good.
Oh, and Angela has also joined the world of online journals, but she hasn't actually written anything yet.
Wednesday, May 05, 2004
Tuesday, May 04, 2004
A Return to Normalacy
Hopefully I can get back to my regular life. I feel great today, good enough to head into work. I didn't get nearly as much done over this last weekend as I thought I would, mostly because I was sitting on the couch for extended periods of time. I watched Big Fish, easily the best movie I've seen in a long time, and re-watched Master and Commander and tried to watch Dead Alive, which I do not recommend when you're dealing with bloody gauze.
I think I'm going to skip my Skull & Bones game this week, because I've had zero time to prepare for it. I'm going to see if I can change the night, so I can weasel into Jon's campaign he's trying to start at work. And if Brook gets his Shadowrun game off the ground, I will give it a shot, too.
As I cranked up Civ 3 for a game this weekend, I realized that computer games and relationships don't really mix. Therefore, I've made an informed decision to stay away from City of Heroes. It pains me to say it, but I have a feeling that the time required to seriously play a MMORPG would basically destroy my relationship with Liz.
OK, time to hit the shower. I've gotta shave this morning.
No real new content; today, I had a bit of a setback after the surgery. I'm glad it happened at home, because it would have made the workplace interesting to say the least. I hope I'm feeling good enough to go in tomorrow, but I'm not sure. I had to take some pretty strong pain medication just to not vomit.
Anyhoo, Mark Evanier provided a link to an article on the semantics of the Iraq war written by none other than Terry "Monty Python" Jones.
Sunday, May 02, 2004
I've spent more time sitting on my ass watching TV in the last 36 hours than I have in a LOOOONG time. Although I've seen some interesting movies (I'll write more about those some other time), Liz and I caught a really interesting program about President Bush and his personal religious beliefs on PBS, called The Jesus Factor. It offered a good (and mostly unbiased) view of his personal religious journey, from being "born again" as a way of dealing with his alcoholism and familial problems, to a change in religious rhetoric following 9-11 (possibly the strongest part of the program).
For those expecting me to take the "secular humanist vile evil liberal" tack, I ain't gonna do it; I know from experience that being "born again" really can help people struggling with addiction, many evangelicals aren't rabid homophobes, and most of them don't act like Ann Coulter after she sits on a cactus. It has been my experience that most evangelical Christians really do believe they are doing something good, and that their faith leads them to try to do good things.
That being said, it also makes them far easier to manipulate than us rational skeptics.
The program, while it never once mentioned Dick Cheney or the Karl Rovebot Mk. II, offered an insightful glimpse into how a well-meaning former alcoholic might be very easily influenced by those after power, wealth, or both.
I had some minor surgery yesterday, and everything went fine. I'm finally feeling well enough to sit upright and type a little, so I thought I'd come and give my faithful readers an update. Hopefully, I'll be well enough to return to work on Monday or Tuesday. I can't take a shower until tomorrow, which sucks because I feel really dirty.