Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Console for Pirated Games

I trust everyone's Christmas has been joyful. Things are still a bit tense around here, but I've been successfully keeping in fairly good humor most of the time.

So, let's discuss a Christmas gift that I received from one of my good friends back home. Ladies and Gentlemen, I bring you...

Happy Game Playing Penguin by Day...

POWERGAMES: The game system with 111 sloppily pirated Nintendo ROMs, featuring heavily vandalized title screens!

So the box is completely devoid of any information regarding the manufacturer, the distributor, or anyone connected to the existence of this product, save for a "Made in China" label. Seems prudent to me, because if anyone claimed responsibility for this Pirate's booty, about every major game studio and publisher would send an army of lawyers after them, bearing Copyright Infringment suits against them for selling a console with a strangely familiar game called Space Hospital.

There's a cartridge that is inserted where the penguin's spinal column would go, and it plays 111 games, most of which have been ripped from a stack of Nintendo Carts, had their title screens altered in a half-assed fashion, and then stuck in onto that cart, regardless of quality. I am convinced that some of these games were projects rejected by publishers because they sucked. There's Flash games that have been playtested more extensivly than some of these ones. But there are some worth playing, such as Dr. Mario- oops, I meant Space Hosptial, two or three of the 15 or so Ninja Themed games, about 20 kinds of shooter (I likes me some space shooters!), and a handful of classic titles.

One of the Games, called "Clay Shooting" on the menu list, is just Game Mode C from Duck Hunt lifted clean. There's also Popeye, and a game that the manufacture will neither confirm nor deny is called "Super Mario Bros."

But the best part of all, the penguin's eyes are red LEDs that serve as power indicators. So when night falls, I perform the ritual of setting up a pentegram fashioned from broken NES games and controlers, light the 14 candles of Endbringing and SUMMON THE DEMON PENGUIN FROM THE DEPTHS OF ANT-ARCADIA, THE FROZEN GAME HELL!! RAWR!!

...Evil Soul Devouring Demon Penguin By Night!
Fear the Penguin!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

We have no further comment at this time.

Sorry for light posting this month, but the only happenings of note recently involve my employer, and my employer is something I try to avoid talking about a whole lot on this blog, especially when they are going through a period of unrest.

For those of you who may be concerned about my status, just know, that I have good reason to believe that I, along with my most of my department, will dodge the worst of it, and I thank God, my Lucky Stars, and my Lucky Charms (with all their marshmallowy goodness) that I don't work in a certain other department.

And even if the excrement does impact the fan, I have already done the math to confirm that I'll be OK for a while.

Sadly, that computer is going to have to wait at least a few more months. Caution is the better part of Valor.

Friday, December 12, 2008

TGIF

You know you've been at work for TOO LONG when you try to look up Magic: The Gathering on eBay and catch your self starting to type into the search box:

SELECT * FROM eBay
where itemDescription like '%Magic the gathering%'

What a week.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Food as Art

My sister has been gushing the joys of bento recently, while I've been playing Katamari Damacy. And then just today, this image appeared rather punctually on my monitor.

Scattershot Post - Weekend Activities

Sorry for the lack of posting, but work has been keeping me especially busy with difficult tasks and aggressive deadlines, but I just wanted you all to know I'm not dead or anything. So I'll just leave you with a short post on what I've been doing on weekends.

  • I've been doing a little freelance work helping the King of the Cosmos rebuild the heavens by rolling all of the assorted junk on earth into spheres akin to large popcorn balls and throwing them into the sky.
  • With the help of Karaoke master, Dr. Winston McCool (not his real name, obviously), I've learned that I can sing a Bob Dylan tune dead on.
  • One of my esteemed colleges has lent to me his three seasons of Deadwood on DVD. Despite success and critical acclaim, the show only lasted for three seasons due to the incredible production costs of making all of the sets and costumes authentic. It's a clever show, despite heave use of the Carlin Seven, especially number five, which is every character's favorite name to call somebody.
Hope to have more soon, maybe expanding on the subtleties of Karaoke. Until then, Good Day.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Latest Task at Work

Another thing I like about my job is that it never fails to give me interesting work. Such as unraveling poorly documented Code, and making it work properly.

To look upon some of these T-SQL stored procedures is to invite madness, but it is job security.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

I'd count my blessings, but sometimes, I'm not sure that numbers go that high. Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

And now, because I don't think it's gotten less amusing since last year, here's James Lilek's Thanksgiving Dinner For Under $10.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Random Economy Thought

Remember all those Web site ads for lowermybills.com? Here's a New York Times article about them. Read the last quote on the second page:

Mr. Coffin was not apologetic about his company’s methods. “One thing we will probably expand to the nth degree are the dancing silhouette ads,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity to double down on a proven winner.”
Barring any jokes about his name, what ever happened to those ads? You know, the ones that drove people to your business? The business of handing out mortgages to anyone on the internet?

Haven't seen those around lately... you guys taking your advertising in a different direction? ...I'm sure there's still plenty of places to advertise on... You guys aren't going through hard times or anything, are you...?

Oh, right, sub-prime meltdown. Yeah, I guess the advertising department would get cut first.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Spasm Laughter Cause of Website Computer!

Many spider summon determined to global funny. With us discovered sooner! Engrish Funny holds jay pegs also movie bad transration in package print wrong and gesture spell wrong. Few are don't seize gentle custom of America, even more are the fate of some ideas, even more are not understanding. I book read my laughs until laughs runs out of eye water lower face! Mark it away.


TRANSLTED FROM ORIGINAL TEXT:
There's a lot of web pages dedicated to Internet Humor. Here's one I found recently. Engrish Funny has pictures and videos of poor translations on packaging and signage. Some of these fail to grab the subtle cultural nuances of America, others are unfortunately suggestive, others are just incomprehensible. I literally laughed until I cried. Check it out.

Grubbin' With Fuzzy - Chili Showdown

At work, one of the supervisors organized a contest to see who could make the best Chili, with prizes for Overall Best Taste, Hottest, and just because, Best Name.

The Ground Rules:
  • Only employees may provide an entry; no one's allowed to go home and say, "Honey, we're having a contest tomorrow, could you make a batch of your chili for me?" Because some people would do just that. If you can't cook it, then don't bring it in.
  • Judging is done anonymously, by ballot cast by the other departments.
  • When someone says stop, or goes limp, even if he's just faking it, the Showdown is over.
  • If this is your first night at the Chili Showdown, you have to fight.
Whoops, I think I got a little Fight Club in there. Sorry.

Anyway, I had called the week before to get my Dad's Chili recipe so as to not bumble into this without a clue; the respect and admiration of my coworkers is at stake! There were a total of six contenders, each with a fairly unique chili. I've always been surprised that the same general idea of a stew with beef, beans, and tomatoes can vary so drastically across so many people.

One contender used too many tomatoes, and it turned out like a meaty pasta sauce with some chili powder. Another was OK, but a the consistency was a little too watery. Another entry was kinda mediocre; nothing bad in particular, but failed to make a lasting impression. What baffled me was that about half of the entries did not have any cumin in them, at least not that I could taste.

**********
People, let's make this clear: If you don't have cumin in it. don't call it chili. Call it bean soup with beef, call it southwestern stew, whatever. But. It's. Not. Chili. Without. Cumin. That is all.
**********

The top three were my chili, the second a spicy meaty entry, with chunks of chuck roast stewed in (named "Vegan's Nightmare"), the last decided defy the usual seasoning mix and added cinnamon and cocoa powder to the mix which made for kind of a sweet flavor. I didn't much care for it, but a lot of other people loved it, so what do I know?

Anyway, the organizer didn't want any one entrant to win in multiple categories (I got the rankings from him after wards) and even though he submitted a chili, he's too much of a class act to give himself a prize in his own contest. Because vegan's nightmare took the "Hottest" Category, I took best name, and the cinnamon/cocoa chili was his own, the prize went to the mediocre chili. I guess people don't like watery chili or tomato sauce with beans masquerading as chili.

So, without further ado, here's my chili, complete with winning name:

Dr. Studlington's Stewed Chili Soup and Health Elixir

Measurements are approximate; the best cooking does not submit itself to metrics!

2 cans (15oz each) of Red Kidney Beans (do not drain)
2 cans (15oz each) of Pinto Beans (do not drain)
1 can (15oz) of Black Beans (yeah, go ahead and drain/rinse these ones)
1 lg. can (29oz) tomato puree
1 lg. can (29oz) diced tomatoes
8 oz beer (you can use 12 oz, but a portion of it seems to [burp] disappear in my kitchen)
1 med-large onion, chopped
1 green pepper chopped
1.5 - 2 lbs ground beef
2 - 3 tbsp chili powder
1 - 2 tbsp cumin (srsly. Not chili without it!)

1) Sweat onion and green pepper with some oil in a 5qt pot until tender.
2) Brown the ground beef
3) Add tomatoes, beer, and beans. simmer for an hour
4) add seasonings, simmer for another hour
5) Om nom nom nom nom...

Final Notes: Dad's original recipe didn't call for beer, but another 29 oz of crushed tomatoes. Space limitations in my cookware caused me improvise (here's an Christmas gift idea for the folks: 6qt or greater capacity soup pot.)

This is even better when served over some Fritos and topped with Cheddar Cheese.

Dr. Studlington's Stewed Chili Soup and Health Elixir is the lugubrious cure for Melancholy, the Grippe, out of balance humors, nervousness, and hysteria. It also packs enough flavinoids and cytoroids to take the lethargy out of the most slothful person and give him enough energy to jitterbug all through the night. Why delay? Get yours today! Hurry, before they're all gone away!!

Dr. Studlington's Stewed Chili Soup and Health Elixir may not cure one or more of the afflictions listed above. Side effects may include rapid weight loss, rapid weight gain, unusual hair growth or loss, numbness in the extremities, cancer of the breast, prostate, or pancreas, growth of a tail, cancer of the tail, moodswings, sudden sexual attraction to the same gender, or a different gender of a different species, hallucination, or dry mouth. Do not take if you are nursing, pregnant, may become pregnant, might cause someone to become pregnant, often flip through baby name books, have any thought remotely involving babies, or have had at least one parent that had ever been pregnant. Use as directed.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The New Redneck

Friday night, I sat in a bar stool between a Mine Worker from Mexico and our Right of Way Engineer as they conversed in Spanish.

A few minutes later, the Engineer decided to show off a little of his Japanese Language Skills. One of the locals who was sitting on his other side responds, and these two maintain a conversation in reasonably fluent Japanese for the next hour. At a redneck bar in a backwater country town of less than 1500 people.

Make no mistake, we've got plenty of Rednecks, Cowboys, and White Trash up here. But if you write us all of as uncultured, uneducated, inbred, hicks that can barley write our own names, we'd like you to know that you're sadly mistaken, and we'll probably tell you so in a language that you don't understand.

Viva Wyoming!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Opportunity DOES NOT come from Nigeria via Email!

It's for the best, really. People this stupid are less of a danger to the rest of society once their money is taken from them.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Winter is Coming...

No, I'm not referring to the local climate, but the news that George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire has just been greenlit for an HBO miniseries.

I've may have mentioned, if not on this blog then face to face, that I don't have TV service right now, and don't really feel a need or desire for it. Once we get an air date for this, I'm calling up DirecTV for the lowest package that includes HBO.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Time for an Upgrade

Last year, I purchased a low-end Laptop computer because I didn't want to drag my old Dell across the country when I had plans to replace it as soon as possible anyway. This little laptop was meant to be sort of a transitional machine; meant only to fill in the gap between the Move and the time when I would get a new high end desk top to run all of my important applications.

It's been a year since then, and I'm still using the laptop, as it fulfills my need for the intarwebs, and I've purchased a PS3 and a PS2 to run my critical software. So I've been putting off the purchase of the Super Box for a while now. But one of my best friends decided he needed some more cohorts on his favorite MMORPGs, and he gave to me an extra copy that he had, with the hopes I'd install it and play it. Sadly, this laptop has no graphics acceleration, which means everything I'd try to run on it would go into slide show mode. A lot of machines are fast enough to use use the system RAM to run older games, but because this was meant to be a temporary machine (and because I hadn't yet loosened the fiscal restrictions of my previous job) I had purchased a Windows Vista machine with only 1GB RAM. enough to run the OS and a few apps (Browser, Instant Messenger, Email, Music Player, etc.) but didn't have enough to spare otherwise.

So now, I'm looking to cash out my New-Computer-Slush-Fund that's been slowly accumulating for most of this year so I can finally play this MMORPG, World of something or other. I dunno, all the kids are talking about it, and I think some kinda new add on was released just today; something about a Monarch and his Angry Lichen, or some nonsense.

Anyhow, this will be the first mid-to-high end computer I've purchased since I blew all of my High School Graduation Money on an IBM Aptiva with 64MB RAM, and 450MHz of blazing speed. (Remember, that was respectable in the Summer of 1999.) Now, with the advice of Co-workers who build machines for family and friends as a source of supplemental income, I'm looking to spend between one and two grand on a machine that will still play the latest games run my life enhancement applications with little performance slowdown within the next 2-3 years. I've been told I can have such a machine for under $1,000, (search around on Newegg) but I'll also need to buy a monitor as well (a big reason why the old Dell didn't make the move is because I didn't want to lug that HUUUGE Cathode Ray Tube with me).

So, I'm open to suggestions, with these two caveats:
  1. Tiffany, Tom, you can keep your damned Kool-Aid, I'm not joining the Mac Panthers.
  2. If you're about to recommend that I build my own, then you should read this first.
Give me your wisdom, oh vast Hive Mind of the 'Tubes!

UPDATE: I usually don't like deleting people comments, but when they are posted with BLATANT DISREGARD with the only two caveats I listed in this post, I terminate with extreame Prejudice. Try again, Laedelas.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

One Week Warning

On November 18th, my old Verizon phone will no longer be in service, nor will that phone number.

About two months ago, I sent most of the people who would read this a text message with my new phone number. If you haven't received that number, it's 307-747-xxxx, where xxxx is the last four digits of my old number. If you don't know what that is, than I never gave you my phone number in the first place, and sure as hell won't give it to you now.

One more telecommunications fact: The laws for local number portability state that if you want to port from Company A into Company B's network, then Company B's service area must include the Area Code into which you are porting from, or the FCC won't allow it. So, if the company I'm porting to doesn't have a tower in the Pittsburgh Area (and they don't), I have to get a new phone number.

But, if I ever leave Company B and return to Company A or even Company C, their service area includes where I am now (even if it is a stretch), and can port this number back to A or C.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Hooray for Paid Hollidays!

November 11th is Veteran's day!

Hooray for days off in the middle of the week! I kinda needed this one, as my Labor Day weekend wasn't exactly relaxing with the Scone Sale and all. And two weeks there after, is Thanksgiving. But sadly we don't get Black Friday off as well.

FUN FACT: I first thought that this was because my employers or its HR department didn't believe in in four-day weekends, but I learned that the truth is, the FCC doesn't believe in them, at least not if you're a utility company. I think we really need to consider abandoning the Land Line business, dig up the copper wire for scrap, and just push our wireless service. It'll probably happen eventually, but not in my lifetime. Heck, Western Union didn't officially shutdown their telegram business until January 31st, 2006!

And now you know.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Level Completion We Can Believe In!


What will the world be like in a Barack Obama Presidency?

Hopefully, this much fun.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

"..shouldn't Fuzzy have been back by now?"

Oh, right, I promised Pictures. I didn't get to bring out the Camera as much as I would have liked, but that's OK, because aside from the obligatory wedding pictures, I didn't take many. I was never a real shutterbug, but I try to make the few I take good ones.

Anyway, after I got off the plane at Pittsburgh International Airport, me and the guys took care of a major prority on my Itenerary:

Primanti Brothers
Primanti Bros. Lunch: Check. Moving on...

Friday, I spent the morning with the Grandparents before I got a second fitting on my tux, picked up a wedding gift, and attended the rehearsal dinner at the China Garden in Dormont.

Saturday: Ding, Dong, the bells are gonna chime; we made sure Matt got the to church on time. Being the good buddy, I told him that in the 3rd pew from the back on the left side, I stashed my car keys for him in case he had second thoughts. Under the passenger side seat, there was a plane ticket to Mexico and $500 cash. We look out for each other like that. Fortunately, he went through with it:

Matt & Jamie Horvat - October 25th, 2008 A.D.

The next day, headed to church, and went to the Melting Pot for lunch.

The Gang at the Melting Pot

Fondue is best with four to ten people, as it tends to be an especially social meal.
And then after a short D&D session for old times sake, I returned to the folk's house, crashed, and got on the plane the next day.

Overall, a successful trip, although I didn't get to see the parents nearly as much as I would have liked to. I'll be sure to adjust my next trip home heavily in their favor next time.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Visiting The Parents

I'll have at least a few pictures when I return, but in the meantime, I found this comic from Three Panel Soul, which is highly relevant.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Fuzzy Goes Home

Been over a year, but Pittsburgh will once again taste my greatness, as I shall taste its greatness.

And away we go!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Light Ice Cream, With Added Steath

ATTENTION, PURVEYORS OF ICE CREAM:

When making a light version of your ice cream, you need to make that clear in no uncertain terms.

The following is unacceptable.

Which is the Light Ice Cream?

When buying ice cream, I have most likely already made the decision that I value taste more than nutrition or fat content. So when choosing a flavor, I want it made clear on the packaging in no uncertain terms which one is the watered down fat reduced nonsense, and which is the real deal.

Print "Pansy-Assed Ice Cream for Fatties Counting Calories" or just make a flavor called "Mediocre Crunch", I don't care. but the small print off to the side and the bottom just doesn't cut it.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Like Brain Surgery, But With Less Fluids

"You should just build your own computer. It'll save you a bunch of money."

"Build it from Scratch, you'll get exactly what you want that way."

"Pre-built computers are for soccer moms and the technically illiterate. Build it yourself."

I hear this crap all the time. Building your own computer is not worth the time and trouble it takes to get it to work. Consider the case of Tim Buckley of Ctrl-Alt-Delete. He has a lot of experience with this, and still has a gnarled mass of headaches because of it.

The way I see it, Gearheads are a lot like Hardware Nerds. Gearheads like to rebuild that'64 Shelby Cobra from scratch because it's their idea of a good time. They have the mechanical skill, knowlegde and patience to make their dream a reality. The rest of us can't understand why someone would willingly spend an afternoon covered in grease under an eviscerated car. When they could just go to a dealership, sign some papers, and drive off the lot with a late model vehicle. I'm one of those people just doesn't understand. But the gearhead has a hobby that gives him joy, and would scoff at my hint that the local Chevy dealer is offering 0% financing this month. That's fine.

Alternately, if the gearhead tells me that I should build it from scratch, becuase I can get the exact Gearbox, Engine Block, and exhaust system I wanted, I'd tell him that I just need something that gets from Point A to Point B without exploding or burning too much gas. I don't care who makes the gearbox or pistons, as long as they all work in harmony with each other when I turn the ignition.

Likewise, I don't care much if Intel or AMD makes my processors, as long as they make the Blue Smoke Happy. I'm not particularly concerned what chip set my Graphics accelerator utilizes, as long as it can render the Stubble on a Space Marine's Face while maintaining at least 30 Frames per second, preferably 60. In general, just give me the biggest, fastest, sleekest components that's in my budget, using a recent First Person Shoot game as a benchmark (except for Crysis, which wrecked the curve something awful).

You guys go right ahead and and painstakingly handpick your motherboards, sound cards, and cooling system. Heck, even I'll upgrade memory or insert a PCI card; that's fairly simple. But everything else is fanboy territory as far as I'm concerned. I don't want to build it any further than plugging in the peripherals and power, and pressing the On button.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

End Year One of the Western Experience

Early on, I was asked by family to not make direct references to my employers, lest their HR/PR/Marketing Scanbots find this blog and give the company grounds for my termination. I still believe that these fears are unwarranted, but it's better to be safe than sorry, and besides, anyone who Googles "Mountain View WY" and "telephone company" can figure out who I work for. (At least one commenter figured it out with no other information than the Occupation, Industry, and Location listed in my Blogger profile.) So for this post, I'll refer to them as the Onion Phone Company. You all know who I really mean.

I walked through the doors to Onion Telephone on October 15th excited, nervous, and hopeful of my new employer. I've been told by the locals that this was a great company to work for, but one can never tell; they may just want to drag others down into their employee family of misery. thankfully, I learned that everyone was telling the truth, and that I think these are some of the greatest people to work for. Sure, they have at least a few dumb policies and procedures, but that's true of any company you'll work for, and certainly less than my previous employer.

Even people who don't like Onion Telephone Company and may or may not have a legitimate grievance against them, they'll say that the family that runs is are good, honest, friendly folk, and they do right by their people.

The first two months were difficult, not because of coworker conflict or corporate BS, but because I was a bit overwhelmed with tasks, most of which I was learning for the first time. 90% of what I do now, I learned on the fly in those first few months. All the way through January, I had awful visions of termination due to incompetence or an epic screw up, and returning to my hometown as a broken and beaten man. After over a year of twiddling my thumbs at my previous employer, I had to get used to having job duties of import, or any job duties at all.

By about February, I had begun to understand how things worked, including our vast database of customers, version control, how our systems worked, and how to fix those systems when they failed. I began to get into a work routine, and relax. I'd receive encouragement and commendations from my supervisors rather than discouragement and condemnations from them.

By the end of the year, I no longer worry about trying to look busy when my Supervisor or Director walk by, because usually, I am actually busy. I don't try to overcompensate to prove my worth, because I know that I add value to the company. They've told me this themselves. I no longer worry about first impressions, because I've already made them, and have done so with great success. Even the few people that are notoriously difficult to get along with, I have a good working relationship with. I guess in short, what I'm trying to say is "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!"

This April will be what I consider the final test my new job after having been there for 18 months. 18 months was about how long it took my attitude toward my previous position to slide down from "Shiny New Job! WEEEEEEE!!" to "I'm Satisfied" to "I hope I'm not here in 5 years" to "I'm just here for a paycheck". (The slide from "I'm just here for the paycheck" to "I MUST ESCAPE!" happened within the last four months of my previous employment.) Right now I'm still on "I'm Satisfied" level, with no visible end in sight to that.

We're about to undertake the daunting task of choosing and implementing the replacement of Onion's curent customer managment software. This is going to be a HUGE deal, especially when we're working in the shadow of the previously implementation project, which by all accounts was a Dark Time for the department. Me and the two other newest people on our team have been tasked with with creating a Data Warehouse for the company, which is going to be a new experience for all of us. The company is still hiring people left and right, including several openings in the IT department (If any of you want to work in IT while living it up mountain man fabulous, let me know). I'm not going anywhere for the forseeable future, and for once, that fact doesn't cause sadness.

And so ends Year One at Onion Telephone Company. Year two begins now.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Welcome to Mountain View, Wyoming

If you've read my post from a year ago, you might remember that Mountain View has two major features: Cows and Mormons. Several of the employees at my company own a ranch, have a parent or spouse that owns a ranch, or just work on one part time. Heck, even the President of the Company only works part time in the office, spending the rest of his time tending his livestock.

In addition to the cattle, there's a rather heavy Mormon population out here, which is one of the side effects of living two hours away from the LDS Capital of the World, Salt Lake City. Some of them, you can spot a mile away. They just have a... look to them. Others tend to blend in seamlessly, especially the Jack Mormons.

The town is mostly concentrated within one square mile, with more rural homes, ranches, etc within a radius of about 5 miles. We don't really have a downtown area, just an intersection with a Gas Station, an Inn, a subway that was an abandoned Gas Station when I got here, and my Company.

When I arrived here, the weather was unusually nice. a "Nice October" here, is one that stays above freezing. There is about 4 inches of snow on the ground as I type this, and there may be a little more on the way. Back home, we all hoped for a White Christmas; here, we hope to avoid a white Halloween.

Why do I like this town? First of all, for all the canned reasons that everyone likes small towns: Low crime, sense of community, etc. It's impossible to go to the grocery store without seeing someone you know, and my commute went from 12.5 miles, half of it in city traffic, to 1 mile, the majority of which is driving out of my neighborhood.

Love this town, love these people,... miss being close to stuff. But there's always a trade off, right? Here's hoping for another great year of mountain life.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Aniversary Week

One year ago today, I pulled away from the curb and headed West to the Cowboy State.

One year without seeing my closest friends.

One year without a Primanti Brother's Sammich.

One year since I had to rake up leaves out from my Parents' yard. :-)

One year since I've made any reference to someone that needs to pewt down teh oreo crakerz and qwit dooing the saix.

One year since I spent over $100 in a single month on gasoline.

One year since I've spent more than a week at an altitude below 6500 ft .

I pulled into town on October 12th. I'll have more about that on Sunday. What a year.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Boo!

So I volunteered to help out with the Haunted House that my co-workers have put on for the past few years. and by "Volunteer" I mean had the bad luck to be in the same room as said co-workers while it was being discussed, and they politely informed me that I had been kind enough to volunteer.

I'm sure there will be more details as we get closer to Halloween. (all proceeds go to the Linda K. Woody foundation, which is looking to found a 24-hour Child Care facility in the Bridger Valley.)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Games I Play

Back in April, I finally bought one of them new-fangled next-gen video game consoles that are all the rage among the kids these days, specifically, a PlayStation 3. After I found out that the cheaper 40GB $400 version of the PS3, which replaced the $600, 60GB version, had the backwards compatibility feature removed, I also purchased a PS2. I guess they were bitter that people weren't buying enough of their overpriced hardware, so they decided to make the newer cheaper one suck a little more, just as a giant "screw you!" to their market.

Anyway, the games I've played so far:

Assassin's Creed: If you buy a PS3, know that it has the most advanced visual capabilities than any other of it's cousins. Therefore, you'll need one Eye Candy game to showcase that feature. This is that game.

Large cities with hundreds of little virtual people walking about, some rabble rousing, some beg for coins intrusively, some are mentally ill and belligerent, some pimping their wares at storefronts, and others are soldiers that will attack you if you engage in activities that are anti-social. Like killing people. They frown on that.

The buildings are large and beautifully rendered, and serve as monkey bars for you to climb on. The attention to detail in how your character climbs seamlessly up cathedrals and castles is incredible, especially when you finish off a climb with the incredible Leap of Faith. Watching Altair jump off a building from hundreds of feet into a hay filled cart just doesn't get old, at least not for a while.

The visuals are important because you'll need something pretty to look at in order to distract you from how shallow the actual game play is. Ben "Yahtzee" Crosshaw summed the whole thing nicely in one of the few reviews of his that I wholeheartedly agree with (warning: Yahtzee works Blue!), but in summation, game play is repetitive, the fighting is oversimplified, in the first half of the game, and for a game that has "Assassin" in the title, there's woefully few actual Assassinations. It's worth playing through once, but it has zero replay value.

The Orange Box: Let me tells you, I love me some Half-Life. I think it's because the Protagonist, Gordon Freeman, is what all nerds secretly want to be. He's an Uber-Nerd with a PhD in Hypothetical Physics, who accidentally opened a portal to another dimension through which hostile alien life forms immediately poured through, at which point he begins hacking and shooting through all of them, as well as the military task force sent to destroy the aliens and silence all of Gordon's colleagues.

What part of that description does not sound awesome?

Also in the Orange Box is Team Fortress 2, which, until it's release, was the only game in production that could compare with the Vaporware status of Duke Nukem Forever (Still waiting for that one!) It's typical capture the flag gameplay with nine unique feeling, and yet balanced classes. As for the tone of the game, just watch the "Meet the _____" movies here. Amusing.

And last but not least, Portal. There's nothing I can do to praise this game more than the rest of the Internet has, so for those few who still haven't heard of this game (probably limited to my parents) here's the trailer that dropped my jaw the first time I saw it.

Devil May Cry 4: This series is notorious for being incredibly difficult, but I think they got the difficulty curve adjusted just right this time. Combat is entertaining, especially when you see how many times you can slash/stab/shoot/slam an enemy in the air before you touch the ground. The story is... well, who cares. Swordplay, Magic Demon Arm of Justice, and general badassery abound. It just feels satisfying.

Ninja Gaiden Sigma: What is the most deadly enemy an Ninja can face? Dragons? Samurai? Pirates? No, the most deadly enemy a Ninja can battle, at least in this game, is Bad Camera Angles. Nothing is more fatal to the protagonist than a viewpoint that simply refuses to show the person that is jamming a katana up your behind. Devil May Cry's Camera issues were sightly annoying, at worst, and they ironed most of them out after the first game. This game just refuses to cooperate at all. I stopped playing it at the end of the second level. It's just not worth my time.

That's all for now. next time, PS2 games!

Monday, September 22, 2008

More Movies

Crank: Jason Stantham is a pleasure to watch, as always. He's a hitman trying to get out of the bloodmoney business when he wakes up poisoned with a plot device- er, I mean chemical that can be inhibited by keeping your adrenaline levels up. What are the best ways to do this when you have no time to arrange a bungee jump or skydive? Well, if you are like our protagonist, you could start a fight with a bunch of rough looking black men, have sex with your girlfriend at the side of a busy city street, or break into a hospital and demand epinephrine syringes. The options are varied, and hilarious!

Talladega Nights: Will Farell as a Redneck stock car Racer and Sacha Baron Cohen as a Gay Frenchman. As funny as it sounds.

The Transporter 2: More Stantham! Hooray! Quick! How do you dislocate a bomb attached to the under carriage of your car, with seconds left before it detonates? By gunning it up an uneven ramp, causing your car to spiral like a well thrown football, and at the precise moment your car has torqued 180 degrees, the crane, which is conveniently hanging from juuuuust the right spot, dislodges it. I know it's a popcorn action film, but this was still a violation of the Tier of Suspension of Disbelief that I had previously mentioned in my Stardust blurb. Then again, it was friggin' awesome, so I'll let that slide, I suppose.

Reservoir Dogs: A Tarentino Classic that I haven't gotten around to seeing until now. Pretty much what you'd expect from him: It opens with people talking about nothing in a Seinfeld kind of way, then quickly transitions to violence.

The Brother's Grimm: The Brother's investigate the disappearance of little girls from a village in France-occupied Germany. A bit creepy during a few of the abduction scenes, but other than that, a bit too disjointed to be really entertaining. Bonus: It will make you hate the French even more. Seriously.

Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels: I like Guy Richie films. It's something about watching inner city Brits plotting how to pull off some simple criminal activity hoping for a big payout, only to have it foiled by their own incompetence, the unexpected rash of logical thinking by their inept prey, and the miscalculated retribution from the party that's bankrolling either side. All of which is broken up by a few anecdotes and a plethora of F-Bombs now and then. Oh, did I mention Jason Stantham?

Super Troopers: An amusing flick, damaged only by the needless addition of a plot. Listen guys, this is not a movie where you need rich storytelling. We need more Highway Patrol antics, like screwing with the heads of a car full of stoners, or saying "meow" as many times as you can during a traffic stop while speaking in a Mississippi accent. That's crack-up material right there.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Grubbin' With Fuzzy - Alfredo Sauce

Before my culinary adventures began, I thought that alfredo sauce was the stuff found in the boat after Michael had his brother killed.

Just a reminder on statute of limitations on movie spoilers: Godfather Part II move came out in the late 70's, so If you haven't seen it by now, you don't deserve a surprise ending.

Anyway, the ingredients for alfredo sauce are even fewer than regular cheese sauce: butter, cream, one smashed clove of garlic, and Parmesan Cheese.

I figured the cheese sauce I used for macaroni and cheese was just flour, butter, milk, and cheese so I could just replace the cheddar with Parmesan, and it would be fine. We'll it doesn't quite work that way.

The taste was fine, but the texture was a little grainy due to the flour. Today I finally broke down and bought some actual cream for that authentic heart-attack-on-a-plate taste, as the CSPI weenies like to call it. Also, a word about grating Parmesan cheese. I grated Parmesan with a box grater once before I put one of these little crank grinders on my shopping list. Parmesan is some HARD stuff to grind by hand. I don't recommend it.

So the second time around, it turned out better, and it was added to some penne pasta, broccoli, and chicken breast.

(Fuzzy gains 250XP for the successful execution of alfredo!)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Word of the Day

Frizbeterian: [friz-beh-TEER'-ee-an] noun

Definition: A member of a body of believers whose doctrine states that when you die, your soul is raised up, left on the roof, and forgotten about for all of eternity.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Ready to Rumble

Portland Studios, a company where one of my old High School Buddies works at, has finally developed presidential contest that I can get behind.

Presidential Prize Fight, in game play, is similar to most of the other Flash boxing games on third rate websites, programmed by some 20 year old who watches too much MSNBC or Fox News. These guys, having some artistic integrity, made it a little more complicated.

Although the fighting itself is simple, you first need to pick the state to hold the match in. Each win in that state gets you one more "vote", and if your candidate leads that State by more than 5% it's yours, provided the other candidate doesn't take it back.

Also, in states that have traditionally voted for one party, the opposing candidate will have a more difficult fight, because the "local hero" will have fight harder on his turf.

Mix in some political factoids for each state, and you have a few minutes of entertainment for this evening. Check it out.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Ron Does Voose?

Mountain Women

Sorry for the recent quit period, but I was busy over the Labor Day Weekend. As I mentioned before, I had volunteered for the Scone/Fry Bread Sale that our Church runs each year at the Annual Rendezvous.

Rendezvous is basically a Renaissance Faire with the Medieval Themes replaced with Nineteenth Century ones, including dress, activities, and vendors. There are folks who camp out in Fort Bridger all weekend, and they are only allowed to do so if their entire camp, including their own head-to-toe garb, is authentic. One Igloo Cooler, one T-Shirt, or one scrap of Nylon on their tents gets them the boot.

A few more pictures here.

Anyway, the Scone Sale. there was about 4 or 5 of us that got up each morning of the Labor Day Weekend at 7am, loaded truck with bread dough (in varying degrees of thaw and rise), ice, and beverages and drove down to Fort Bridger to set up. We had various folks drop by during the day to help pull the scones (basically like stretching a pizza crust) but only a few of us were there the whole time. Because our participation dwindles down each year, the few people that put in the full time during the whole weekend talk more and more of just quitting the sale altogether. One can only give up his or her entire Labor Day weekend every friggin' year before apathy sets in (a few have been doing this for the full 28 years!).

I can empathize with them because every morning I demanded an explaination from myself as to why I was getting up that early in morning on a Holiday Weekend. And this was my first scone sale. But one of the perks was trading with other vendors for their food items. Like cool frothy liquid bread. Yum.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Rise of the Grammar Nazis

You know who you are. Correcting people's sentences mid-sentence, scolding people in comment threads with a blatant disregard for the content of the comment or post itself. We've ignored you for years, hoping that if we don't acknowledge you, maybe you'd go away and go back to combing news papers and other print media for errors, or something.

But now, you're attacking historical park signage, defacing it with your smug sense of superiority. This will not stand.

We shell fight you in the seas and the oshuns. We shell fight you in teh hils. We shell fight u in the feilds and the streats. we shell fight you until you allouw our brothers to write, think, and live, for theirselfs!

Scones Vs. Fry Bread

In Wyoming, one of the local etables is called a scone.

Don't be fooled. They are not True Scones, but rather, "Scones" is what we call fry bread.

So if you're ever in a local restaurant out west, and see a "Scone" on the menu, don't expect and english biscuit. It's fry bread. Still good though. And now you know.

Our chruch will be selling these at the Anual Labor Day gathering at Fort Bridger.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Scatter Shot Post - Fuzzy Returns to Washington...

...and this time, it's personal!

  • The flight down there almost left on time, a shift in the wind meant all the planes had to take off from a different runway that was on the other side of the airport. At least I wasn't inside one of the planes at the back of this line.
  • Traffic in DC is miserable, and should be avoided at all costs. The Metro Rail system, in contrast, is pretty sweet. Well maintained, quick, trans running every 5 minutes on peak hours, every 10 on non peak hours, and is quick and fairly reliable. Tiffany tells me that as good as it is, when it fails, it fails in an epic fashion. Makes sense, because any problem with the Metro will take down at least an entire track, and possible the whole system. Not fun in Rush Hour. Still better than driving in this town.
  • The week I was there was also Restaurant week in DC, where all the local eateries are encouraged to participate by offering a 3 course meal for a set price (20.08 for lunch, 35.08 for dinner). We went to Dino's Italian Restaurant, and had some awesomeness (procuittio wrapped peaches. Yum!) Tom has the complete write-up at We Love DC.
  • If you are even in DC, you need to go to the International Spy Museum. First. Sure, you can visit the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, and the Smithsonian if you have time, but this should make this a priority.
  • Monday night, I had dinner at a chinese bakery/cafe (Maria's Bakery). It's been said that you can know if an ethnic restaurant is good when everyone else that's eating inside belongs to that ethnicity. Mine was the only pair of round eyes in the whole place, I think. I decided to order a few things I never heard of, just for little adventure. Details here.
  • Also went to the DC Improv with Tiffany and saw Mitch Fatel. He's "very funny" as he says in his opening remark, and knows how to work the audiance into his act.
  • One more Restaurant: Green Fields Churrascaria in Rockville. It was convientlyly, right next to my hotel, and in the same building as the training center I was at. He're all you really need to know: It's a Brazillian BBQ place, where they bring you meat, followed by different meat, with some more meat after that, and they don't stop until you say, "Ok, that's enough meat for me. I'm full." Mito, Brian, this place is for you.
  • Return Trip: Stopped off at a rest area in Echo, UT to take some pictures that I always wanted to share. Check it out.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Returned

I'm back from spending the week in Rockville, MD for a work related training session. While I was there, I finally got to see some touristy things. I'll have a related scattershot post later detailing the things, I saw, and ate. (DC is a delicous town!)

But in the meantime, I give you other coolness, such as What is Love, like you've never seen it before (actually, judging by the view count on this, some of you may have, but I digress):


Bonus Round Here

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Building the Network

Our new right-of-way engineer went on a road trip to scope out some new potential sites to build towers. The thing about the right-of-way position is that you need a lot of diplomacy skills to hack it. Land rights are a Big Friggin' Deal up here, and we are basically asking to lease and build a tower on a small parcel of land, which means a construction crew trampling over maybe 3 or 4 other people's ranches or private nature reserve to get to it.

In addition, there's a lot of land that is or used to belong to local native tribes, so our Engineers will go and meet with them at their tribal council. These days, though, they've moved away from sitting around a campfire and passing a pipe, and more about sitting in a hotel lounge sipping liquor.

Contrary to what you might think, the Natives are often OK with the idea of building a tower on their old turf, or at least open to negotiations. But the White man, perhaps due to generations of PC guilt festering inside of him, has a Historical Preservation Department that won't let our trucks within 10 miles of anyplace where some kid found a rock that kinda looked like an arrowhead. This was the problem with several of our new potential locations. "Neatly stacked pile of rocks? That's a cairn. You can't build here." "That circle of rocks there? Medicine Circle. Get lost!" "That etching? totally significant. Back off."

Meanwhile the Shoshone tribe is all "Yeah, it's cool. Just don't dig up any bones or anything." We must be the only culture willing to sabotage our efforts at building modern infrastructure. If you dig deep enough under ancient cities in Europe and Asia, you'll find older cities that were built on top of. Maybe four or five cities deep. But not us, we're so enlightened that we won't build anywhere close to them! Feh.

Today, one of these sites came back in play after our Engineer received an email saying that a tribal leader confirmed that the Medicine Wheel at that site was not a Medicine Wheel at all, but was, in fact, just a pile of rocks.

Stupid white man.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Quick Jokes

Time to get the unpleasantness of that last post out of the top spot with a few wisecracks from around the office!

  • Why is Wyoming so windy?
    Because Nebraska sucks so hard!

  • From a co-worker: "For the first 6 months of our marriage, my ex-wife treated me like a God! Everynight at dinner, she'd offer me up another burnt sacrifice!"

  • Heard on Friday at 5:00: "Somewhere, right now, there's a bottle of Crown Royal trying to hid behind the other bottles, fearful for it's life."

Monday, August 4, 2008

Customer Service and the Lack Thereof

A few years back, I finally got out of one of my nerdish addictions, Magic: The Gathering. We had some good times, but the thrill was gone from the game, at least for me. I had packed away all of my cards (some of which were recently destroyed), and moved on to different hobbies that gave me new outlets for Geekery.

But the Magic-bug does not let go easily so I had to resort to MTG-Methadone, which was Magic Online. This was kinda nice, because even after I left the game, I still enjoyed a good draft or sealed deck now and then. (for those who don't know, the Sealed Deck and Draft formats are basically types of games where you used unopened product to build a deck with which the game is played, as opposed to building a deck from your own personal collection).

Now the MTGO servers for the first two releases have been notorious for instability, so WotC decided that if they wanted to grow out the game, they would have to rebuild the client from the ground up. This made the servers more stable, but there's still a lot of bugs in the software itself that jeopardize the games.

Saturday, I needed a fix, so I purchased some virtual product from their store and got in the queue for a draft. The way this should work is you wait until there's eight people in line, then you're whisked away to a "table" where you pick and choose from among the purchased cards what you will be playing. Kinda like an NFL draft, only with cardboard. Or virtual cardboard in this case.

Here's how my draft worked: seven other people got whisked away to the draft room, I stood "outside" for a half hour while my cards were randomly selected for me. Using the NFL draft again for a comparison, imagine one coach and his staff being made to wait outside while league official checks their reservations, or screens them through security again or some other BS. Then, when they are finally allowed to join in. There, the Coach was told that they were tired of waiting for him and everyone else picked that coaches players for him.

I submitted this to WotC's customer service staff, and provided all the information they asked for including graphics card information, a trace on my connection to the server, and other such rigmarole. I suspected a problem with the client software, but after all of this, my request was denied, as they ruled that it was caused by a connection error, which is not their responsibility.

"But," I protested, "While I was waiting for a half hour to pick cards, I was speaking to the Adepts (MTGO volunteer moderators) about the issue, I never left the computer, and all other aspects of the system worked just fine! Can I be disconnected while everything else involving an Internet connection and the MTGO Client was fully functional?"

verbatim reply:
"Yes you can because the games are held on different server. So you can have connection problems to a game, even though you could still use chat and other features. I apologize for the inconvenience this has caused."

They're server wasn't down at the time, so there's no way it can be their fault. If I take a car back to a dealership to have the CD player or door lock fixed under warranty, I don't want you to tell me that it doesn't need repaired because the engine still runs.

Just to put this all in perspective, I experienced bad service, and the Customer Service Staff is reluctant to give me a refund of product that doesn't even physically exist.

Do they understand, that they are competing against other countless other forms of online gaming, most of which are cheaper to get into than their own? That maaaybe handing over some pretend cards to a player might mollify him enough to keep playing their game and buying their virtual products?

I've had problems with Server Crashes in Version 2.5 where requests for refunds have went unanswered, but this is the first time where I was told by WotC that I'm not worth a few rows of database insert statements.

So, I'm done. WotC might be foolish enough to disregard the satisfaction of their customer base, but I guess I'm the bigger fool for putting up with it for as long as I did. I can't do anything about the former of those issues, but I fully intend to resolve the latter.

I try to keep the language as classy and tasteful as I can, but this is the first time I'm posting while truly pissed off, so it's time let someone know what I think of them:

Wizards of the Coast, it is my fervent desire that you asphyxiate upon a phallus!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

It's French, or Something

Whiteboard Puzzle - Pronouce This Word



Until about a year before I moved, I haddn't realized how difficult it is to pronounce the name of one of the local towns. I guess the French name or something might make it seem like a quaint classy place, until you walk within it's city limits and see the Ghetto-ness for one's self.

So we got on the topic of difficult to pronounce locations in Pennsylvania, and this one came up. I decided to put it to the test. out of the 10-15 or so people within or around the department, Only one person got it correct (apparently, there's a town with the same name in Iowa).

Most people pronouced it [Doo-SHANE], which is a city in Utah. Most of the people who read this blog know how it's pronouced, but if you don't, you can click the picture to get to Carla's whiteboard for the solution.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Trailblazing Flora

This nifty little flower grows about two feet from the front of my porch, as if to challenge me.

Fire Flower

"Yeah, that's right. You didn't plant me, or even water me, but I grow here anyway. Wanna do something about it? I don't think you have the cajones, pal!"

The red and yellow coloring reminds me of one of them Fire Flowers from Super Mario Brothers. That's right, even the sight of nature marching onto my turf reminds me of classic Nintendo games. I'm still a geek, regardless of where I live.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Why Don't the States Have Something This Sweet?

So, after bouncing around YouTube after watching that Haddaway video from a previous post, I ran into, and rediscovered this Techno-Euro-Pop band: Aqua.

Most of you know them from their One Hit that made them Wonderous, Barbie Girl. But they also put out several other videos where they turned the following all the way up: Camp, Cheese, and Color Staturation (on the Video editing equipment), and generally have the apperance of a vomitorium for rainbows*. Come, and view a sample of the painful awesomeness they have to offer!


First, a pirate adventure called My Oh My. Yar, Har Fidddle dee dee!


Next, a tale of love and adventure in the Depths of the Amazon Jungle, as well as a thinly vieled reference to certain intellectual Property of the same last name. Wake up now, Dr. Jones!

(As silly as it is, I think that it's still more Entertaining than Indy 4.)

Now an epic space opera adventure where... um... I really don't know. But it has candy. And aliens. Here's Lollipop.



Hope they bring smiles. Enjoy!

*PS: Vomiting Rainbows are just one more of the wonderous things that the vastness of the Internets have to offer!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Why So Serious?

George Lucas, due to your perversion of your Star Wars Franchise, you've been on the Chopping Block for a while. Now, with the latest steaming pile of cinema excreated from your hindquarters still setting my teeth on edge, I hearby demote you to "Schumacher." We have already found your replacement, and his name is Christopher Nolan.

In addition to directing the wicked cool Memento, He has also delivered My favorite DC Hero out of the land of suckage, into the land of Milk and Honey, first with Batman Begins, then again with The Dark Knight.

The Joker is less Overtly Comical and more Creepy. Not that I minded Overtly Comical; I still think Jack Nicholson did a fantastic job playing the screwball, but Heath did a lot better than I could have hoped for when I first heard that he was cast. He's unquestionably murderous, but he still can pull off a one liner or a physical gag that's amusing enough to make you chuckle, yet seem rather natural to the character.

Christian Bale: He was good in the first one, he's still good in this one. I'm talked about the total package of Bruce Wayne/Batman, here. All of the other actors in the Tim Burton/Captain Suck versions of the film could pull off exactly One aspect of the dichotomy, and do it well (except Clooney, who is two scoops of lameness), but Bale can do it both.

I believe that Kevin Conroy is still the best voice for Batman, as Mark Hamill is for the Joker. If you've never seen the Animated Series, then you have missed out.

The frequent complaint of most superhero movies lately has been the need to fit as many villians into a film as possible, where they crowed each other out. For example, Spiderman 3 was ok, but it Would have been a lot better if they had taken a pair of scissors and cut out anything and everything that is touched by the Sandman, or his backstory. If they're hurting for space, write in more of Harry Oswald's character, and give us a propper Hobgoblin.

But I think Nolan actually managed to do it, and do it right. Two Villans, in the same movie, and while one of them probably could have gotten his own movie and been fleshed out a bit more, the product was satisfactory.

You need to go watch this now, if you haven't already. The sooner you do, the sooner you can wash the awful taste of Indiana Jones 4 out of your mouth.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Scatter Shot Post - 07/15/08

  • Today is the nine month anniversary of my Job. Yay!
  • I'm currently rewriting an SQL procedure that was meagerly documented, fragile to begin with, and had patchwork-alterations made to it about 15 times in the past 3 years. This is kinda like major reconstructive surgery on a gnarled mass of scar tissue. We can rebuild it. Make it stronger, faster, less prone to screwing up and gobbling up man-hours to fix...
  • I discovered that Pasta Carbonara leftovers must be microwaved for a longer time at a lower power level, lest you turn it into a mass of scrambled eggs with pasta embedded in it.
  • For reasons that I can't quite explain, I had What is Love by Haddaway stuck in my head this afternoon. Maybe I should put Night at the Roxbury in my Netflix Queue...
  • The fishing trip has left my arms lobster red, as punishment for violating my longstanding agreement with my skin: no more than 60 minutes of direct sunlight per day, with at least a half hour break every 20 minutes.
  • Last weekend, I achieved one of my long incomplete video game goals: I finally blew up that friggin' ion cannon at the end of the Terran campaign in Starcraft. A solid dozen of Battlecruisers For-The-Win. I just wish I had a hotkey that could cue up Flight of the Valkaries, as it would have been especially appropriate.
  • Speaking of Video Games, I found that I don't have the stamina to stare at a screen all day like I used to. I used to be able to do about 8+ hours in front of a screen if my parents would let me (they didn't). Now I'm usually only good for about two hours, or if the game is particularly engrossing, maybe 4 or 5 on a weekend before I have to turn it off for the day. I'll take this as a sign of full recovery from a childhood Nintendo addiction.
  • I know I've already made several of you aware of this, but this blog is the funniest thing I've read in a long time. Read it if you haven't already. Start with the earliest posts.

That's enough for now. Good night, God Bless, and Good Luck!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Grubbin' with Fuzzy: Pasta Carbonara

In one of my Google searches looking for recipies for I-can't-even-remember-what, I found this recipie for Pasta Carbonara. Looked easy, the ingredients were simple, or at least could be substitued for simpler things (I think people would look at me ascant if I asked for pancetta. Oh, and keep your imported spaghetti. I'll stick with Barilla, ThankYouVeryMuch.)

Anyway, I used some generic kinda-smoked-but-not-really-smoked bacon, and I had to fudge the quantites a bit; if CityMama doesn't give an amount, it's probably doesn't have to be escact anyway. Aside from that, I followed the Recipie pretty much exactly.

And all God's people said, "Amen!" which was promptly followed by "Nom Nom Nom..." for indeed, this was pretty good.

If you aren't getting up to put on a pot of water for pasta right now, you should. Go!

Gone Fishin'

Yesterday, I figured it was about time that I did something outdoorsy, seeing how that's the major attraction out here. One of the safety guy's family (Jim W) owns a large patch of land in Robertson and invited one of the Engineers (Jim M) and myself out there to do some fly fishing with him and his son.


River on the Walker Ranch - 1

Now I haven't held a rod since my dad and a friend from church went to the Lake in Cannonsburg PA in the early 90's, and that was lake fishing, which is entirely different. Lake fishing (I won't tell you what Jim W referred to it as) you cast off, sit down, wait and enjoy the peace and quiet. In fly fishing, you hunt down the fishes, find their favorite hiding spot and simulate a fly zipping around the water in the hopes that he'll find it tasty.

I was a little sloppy at first, but I did manage to have a little 2-incher visibly follow my fly for a few feet, nipping at it. I couldn't help but interject with the obligatory "Om nom nom nom!"

You have to perfect the technique a bit, because the fish sorta know when the food doesn't look right. Several times in the day I think fish looked at my fly, saw how unnatural it looked and thought. "Heh. What a n00b!" On the other hand, Jim M has mad fly-skills and caught several of the fish that had me my pegged as a tourist on my first cast.

The best example of that was this one beastly sized fish that broke off Jim W's hook in it's mouth. After a few futile attempts by JW to lure him back out, JM decied to try a fly called a "rooster tail" and cast off once. Chomp. We only got a glimpes of this thing before it broke away, but it was quite large.

Yes, this story does include "The One That Got Away."

Ever present in these outdoors adventures, was the threat of being run down by an ornery moose. There was a Mama with her calf stalking around the area, so I stayed nearby Brock (Jim W's son) the whole time in case he had to scare them off with .38 calibur of "Go away." Note, this weapon was only for fireing a warning shot, because this side arm wasn't "take something down" sized, but only "piss it off real bad" size. the other used of it, was incase there was an opportunity to get the bever that was damming up the river and causing a bit of flooding.

We'll proably do it again sometime, so I might invest in a fly rod and waders or something. I was using a borrowed rod from Jim M, and he's only here for a few months before he moves to the Laramie Office. Also, sunscreen, insect repelent, and means of hydration. Very important.

My Catch

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Movies and Hack Writers

Check this one out when you have a chance, if you haven't already, and thanks for reading this and indulging me in this little exercise!

I guess I probably should have warned you about spoilers or something, but as I said above, hacks don't really care, and don't have much respect for their audiences.

It's not an easy thing, to do either. Dirty Harry (A.K.A. John Nolte) once wrote (in a post I'm too lazy to find and link to directly) that you have to keep one step ahead of your audience. once they catch up, you've become predictable. Two steps ahead, and you've lost them, and they are confused. It's a thin line to walk for two hours.

It's the kind of thing M. Night Shamalan got a lot of attention for when he was doing stuff like The Sixth Sense ("Wait a minute, he's dead?!?"), and not junk like The Happening ("Teh trees are killing us because mankind have abused mother Gaia for far too long!"). The surprise ending is absolute GOLD when you can pull it off, but an eye-roller if you don't execute it perfectly.

It's unique because of the execution of that device. The audience is fooled by a "spoiler" within 60 seconds of the title screen, causing them to believe they can predict the theme and direction of the rest of the film. These predictions are dashed to bits at about the halfway mark. "OMG! He killed Kenny! You bastard!"

People talk about this nifty cinematic device at great lenghts, but that mechanic isn't what makes the movie unique. Heck, I remember that an episode of Seinfeld did this exact same thing in the mid 90's, predating this by six or seven years.

I'm writing this post in a similar fashion in order to more closely illustrate that effect. I'm sure this was all the rage during the movie's theatrical release in 2001, but I write like a total hack, and I'm not above doing it again. Like most hacks, I don't let substance get in the way of style, even when the style is lacking as well as the substance! For the last shall be first and the first shall be last!

Continuing my series of posts regarding movies that were cutting edge over 5 years ago, I'm going to talk about Memento, the latest gem on DVD that arrived via Netflix. As most of you probably already know, all the scenes in this movie are played in reverse order from beginning to end.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Local History

I took a local field trip over to Fort Bridger on July 4th in order to take in a little local history. The Ultra Condensed version is this:

First it was a Mormon camp on the way to Utah, Then it was a frontier trading post (run by Judge William Alexander Carter), then they attached a Fort to it. This all happened between 1840 - 1890. Eventually, most of the buildings were sold and hauled off, but a few hung around and became tourist traps.


Officer's Quarters

Here's the pictures. Enjoy!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Independence Day

Hope you're all having a happy 4th. I'll have a major Flickr Update later, but here's a teaser.


Fort Bridger

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Mormon Slang!

Word of the Day:
Trunky (Trun' - kee) adj.

Origins: LDS Missionaires started using this word to describe the state or quality of being exhausted or weary by constant travel and carrying their belongings in a trunk for a year.

"I've been catching business flights for the past two weeks, and I'm feeling rather trunky."

And now you know, and knowing is half the battle!
(the other half is violence.)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Phone Book

Phone Book



When a person needs to express girth or unwieldiness of a document you might hear that person utter something akin to "It was as thick as a phone book!

I'm not impressed.

Very Thin

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Fuzzy Goes West: Now Firefox Friendly!

If you use the Firefox browser to read Fuzzy Goes West, you probably noticed that all my posts up until now dropped below the sidebar on the left. This was caused by some tinkering with the HTML by me, which was done in order to make my pictures appear in full; the medium sized ones from Flickr were being cut off on the right side. After fumbling with the values for a while, I finally got it to display everything the way I wanted it to. That is, until I tried to load it in Firefox.

I let this slide for a while, but after a classic Mac vs. PC skirmish with my sister, I decided to just go back and adjust it properly.

Summation of the Argument:
ME: If my blog is changed the way I want it to, and it appears correctly in the brower I use, why are you telling me Internet Explorer sucks becuase my blog displays incorrectly in your browser?

HER: By using an inferior product that encorages sloppy coding, you are contributing (in a small way) to Micro$oft's mission to crush all it's competitors, especially the better ones, and bringing an additude of apathy to standardized coding!

I know there's many ligitimate reasons for the disdain of IE over Firefox (mostly security), but this isn't one of them. Nevertheless, it was way past time to fix the template so it displays correctly.

Missing Out

When I took a job in Wyoming, I knew there would be sacrifices, especially the first year. One of those is manifisting itself right now.

Why am I not here, getting my geek on at this very moment? I could be casting magic missiles at the darkness, or other such fun :-(

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Death and Burial

Yesterday at lunch, some coworkers were discussing how they wanted to die, which led to how they wanted to be burried. One of them is considering burial at sea, an option for those who spent a certain number of years in any branch of the armed services, not just the Navy. The macarbe fact is that they don't let the family on board the boat when they go out to dispose of you. This is becuase there's a chance that your body doesn't sink when you get tossed in the drink, and if that happens, the usual way they get you to sink is to fill your body with small lead weights, inserted into your corpse via a special insertion device. In other words, they shoot at you from the deck until your full of enough bullets to drop, and the servicemen don't want to deal with hysterical shrieking widows as they take aim.

One woman wants to be creamated. Nothing unusual there until she told us what she wants done with the ashes. They are to be divided up and mixed with ground black pepper into pepper shakers, which will be distibuted at truckstops all across America.

She gets a 10, both for style, and creepiness.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

MS Access 2007: Open Your Heart to the Database

I haven't had a very thorough look at the new version of Microsoft Access yet, because being a good IT professional, I prefer to use Big Boy database management software. But on the surface it does look like they managed to make it easier to use and update tables. But their security protocols caught my eye. In the old days, you'd grant permissions to files, folders, and tables and such to allow some or all of the users to add, modify, delete, or pervert your data. MS Access dresses that up a little differently by calling this interface...

♥☺ The Trust Center ☺♥

I'd expect this kind of wishy-washy feel-good drivel from Apple, who's kinder, gentler approach to computer hardware and software has turned out quite profitable, but I thought Microsoft was above this stuff.

I began to visualize the full implimentation of this, where to Access the files, you have to turn around and let yourself fall backwards into the strong loving arms of your workstation, or walk blindfolded to your desk while Access calls out directions in a sweet musical voice, kinda like GlaDOS singing Still Alive.

But the problem comes when you accidentally compromise the database and you have to restore from backup. I wonder if Access could forgive that. After the restoration, could it as easily trust you to access its tender data again? A user might find himself locked out of the Database, and when the Admin tries to put him back in the Trust Center a diolouge box pops up: "Error: I just don't think I can trust this user again after he broke my heart."

Not to mention the possiblity of a complete network lock out while the database curls up on its server crying while shoving Ben and Jerry's into its ports. "How could he?? I let him into my Trust Center, and he abused it!" Eventually, Access gets rid of everything belonging to this user and deletes it, because these things reminds it of him. All his Seether MP3s? Gone. Those snapshots of the database just before the Server Migration? Gone. All the user manuals on PDF files for that skank, Oracle? deleted, and repartitioned that storage. It would always be ugly to have to deal with this at every errant update.

The risk of this just reinforces my believe that Access should be passed over for serious database work. It just has too much baggage. Anyway, I look forward to viewing the comments from the indignant Mac users who percieve a slight for suggesting that they like their computers to be cute and cuddly.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

I Totally Thought of it First!

I had this great idea for a board game. Sort of a party game where everyone gets a fist full of various dice. These dice would be rolled in order to simulate a combat system sometimes, or try to roll certain numbers to accomplish goals that vary from scoring points, or gaining/loseing dice to roll in order to win. I haddn't worked out all the details, but essientially, the game would just be a vehicle for rolling fistfuls of dice. I thought it was clever.

But darn it all, if somebody else didn't think of it first!

DiceCapades
Back to my day job, then.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Harold and Kumar Skip This One

Krystal Burger at Atlanta International Airport

The story as I understand it, when my mother was pregnant with me, she had occasional cravings for Krystal Burgers. For those that don't know, Krystal Burger is a White Castle wannabe fast food joint that found in the Southern States. I came across one at the Atlanta Airport, so I decided to bring this thing full circle and get lunch here.


Krystal B


C'mon, Mom, I know you have better standards than this! Ok, it wasn't bad, but still no White Castle. The chili-fries could have been better, too.

BONUS FACT: When Mom was pregnant with my sister, she had a passion for roller coasters. Yeah, they don't want you doing that kinda stuff when expecting a child these days.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Cardstock Tragedy

You always hear about these horror stories that happen to friends, or a friend of a friend. You listen casually and think "Oh my! How terrible!" and then walk away thinking that it can never happen to you. You keep your things tucked away in a secure location. You think your somehow immune.

Then, it happens.

For a while, you're stunned. Looking at those things that took so long to store up. Destroyed before your eyes. All the good times dancing in your memory, once taken for granted, now all you have left of your possessions. You know you should be thankful that no one was hurt, but in the short term, that's just not comforting enough.

My landlord will be getting a call about the leak in the closet ceiling. I'll try not to get too choked up when I tell him about this:


Magic: The Floodening

If you have the stomach, click the picutre for a full autopsy of the damage.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Abused Franchise

The first time I heard about a fourth Indiana Jones film, I think I was about 15 or 16. At 20, I had lost all hope. About two years ago, reliable sources told us that it was filming at last. I had high hopes that after over ten years of delays, we'd get a finished product that could live up to the Indiana Jones legacy.

:-(

My sister and brother-in-law met up in the Big Bowl in Reston, VA for some Chinese Food and discussed the problems with it over Kung Pao Chicken and Pad Thai. My thoughts bascially echo everyone else's thoughts that I've read, but here's the gist with spoilers fully functional:

Action: we need more of it. There was a nice opening scene in the Government Warehouse (Same one at the end of Raiders) that ends with a nuclear explosion. Good. There was a nice little motorcycle chase Shia LeBouf, or LeDoof, or whatever his name is. It was a little too short, but it was done satisfactorily. Then there's the Jeep chase in the Jungle which is the 3rd action scene in the movie, at about the halfway mark. Set's a good tempo, but then it's a snooze fest.

Do a tally of all the action scenes from the first three movies and compare them to this. Kingdom falls a bit short. And the worst part is that you could see where they could have put in some gratuitous action in quite easily. It almost feels like they were trying to dull the pace a bit.

Speaking of the Jeeps in the Jungle, let's talk about ill advised CGI. I'm all for CG for things most things, like fighting 100 Agent Smith Clones, or the afore mentioned nuclear explosion ("What? You couldn't be bothered to get a REAL atomic bomb for this movie?"). But what's with the CG animals? Opening the movie with a CG Gopher? I'll ignore it. Ending the scene with a family of 4 gophers that serve no purposes except to show you CG Gophers? Lame. The same can be said for CG monkeys as well. Shia LePew's scene where he swings on vines to land himself in the Commie-Mobile worked just fine without them. This whole issue of adding-cute-things-that-serve-no-purpose can probably be traced back to it's roots with the Ewoks from Return of the Jedi.

Also, I can understand the need to use CG to simulate LeBeef's riding two Jeeps with a leg on each one, but could you polish it up so that it's less obvious that you had to make his legs spontaniously grow 8 inches to accomplish that? or at least make some allusion some kind of stretchy-limb super power that he has, so it's just a little less out of place? maybe?

Kate Allen reprises her role as Marion Ravenwood from Raiders. She was good then, she's good here. She might be even better this time, but that could be due to her surroundings being a bit lackluster.

And these crystal skulls? Yawn. I guess this is really a half hearted complaint, but what ever happened to the Judeo-Christian Artifacts? I guess you can't top the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail, but I was hoping for something less X-files.

And as long as we're splattering Sci-Fi all over Indyland, the rumor is that one of the reasons why this movie took so long was that there was several script rewrites ordered by Ford and Spielberg becuase Lucas was trying to put too much Star Wars into it. Almost as if the original title was Indiana Jones and the Men from Mars.

Villians: In two of the previous three movies, it's been Nazis, which always make a great villian just becuase the're friggin' Nazis. You don't need any other reason to hate them; they're the greatest symbol of evil the 20th century has to offer. Russian Comunists? A good start but you need something more. There was no reason given to Hate Cate Blanchet's character other than she's a Ruskie. We needed her to make us hate her by doing something. Throw someone in a Gulag, set off a nuke in a metropolis, give Indy a wedgie, do SOMETHING. The indifference to the villian does NOT help the slow pace of the movie.

The actor who played Marcus is dead, Sean Connery declined to come out of retirement to be Jones Senior, so some things you can't work around. But John Rhyes-Davies is alive and well, so where's Sallah? C'mon, you couldn't write him into this mess somehow?

One last note on the Action scenes, becuase they are vital. My brother-in-law summed it up thusly: Whenever Indy does someting cool, or makes off with the goods, the iconic Raiders March theme music is played. This is done when he hand-hitches a ride on the Submarine in Raiders, drives a tank full of Nazis off a cliff and survives, etc. This theme isn't played at all until the End Credits, which is just as well, becuase nothing happens that's cool enough to warrant it.

In spite of all this, the movie is still watchable, but I can't tell you that it's good. See it in the cheap theaters, only because you have too. Last but not least, I'm to tired/lazy to proof-read this post for spelling, grammar, or flow, but I assue you, it's better than the writing for the movie.