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


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!