Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Still Alive

First, let's play catch-up: Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas.

Cool. Now, Let's cover the near future: Happy New Year, Happy Presidents' Day, and just to hedge my bets, Happy St. Valentine's day.

So why have I been neglecting you all? Because I've been flying pretend spaceships: Eve Online is a Sci-Fi MMORPG that has recently been sucking up about 40% of my free time. Another 40% goes to Team Fortress 2, which is a well designed FPS game.

Otherwise, everything is chugging along. The new apartment is now cold by choice, rather than cold due to poor insulation. I guess the new tenants of my previous location complained loudly enough that they finally got the new windows they said they'd have installed by winter '08.

Work is going well. While the Christmas party was cut this year due to budget contraints, none of the staff was, so that's just fine with me.

My computer is still awesome, and still glowy blue.

Going forward, I'm hoping to take a week of vacation in the Summer to go back to the 'Burgh, as well as my usual trip to Origins.

I'll keep you posted on any new developments that I think people would find remotly interesting, but for now, I present the Black Scottish Cyclops: Meet the Demoman!

Monday, November 30, 2009

"You have chosen... wisely."

The year was 1991. Maybe 1990. We had a sweet new computer with one of those speedy 386 processors inside them. It had a whopping 2MB of RAM, twice as much that was considered necessary for people not calculating trajectories of Scud Missiles. A color monitor. 256 colors, about 240 than previous generations of machines. Seething with power.

My father brought home a game that one of his coworkers had given him, copied from the original, as game publishers hadn't yet taken draconian steps to make their games difficult to pirate. It was so graphically intense that it had to be carried on FOUR floppy disks! One whole disk with its vast 1.44MB storage could only contain a fourth of the visual and audio adventure! It was one of those games that was made to capitalize on a recent blockbuster film, before such games were immediately assumed to suck. Indiana Jones, and the Last Crusade!

Indy Game Title Screen

My sister and I sat and stared into the screen for hours trying to puzzle things out. This was made more difficult by the fact that on our first time through the game, we didn't find the Grail Diary left behind. Eventually we figured things out, puzzing through the catacombs, talking our way past the Nazi gaurds that infested castle Brunwald, flying and inevitably crashing the biplane.

The problem was that after we crashed the biplane, we attempted to steal the car (see the movie, its in there), the game itself would crash. The last disk that was copied was corrupted. Disheartened, we moved on with our lives, playing other games, taking up other hobbies. We found the strength to laugh again, even knowing that our quest for the grail was lost.

Over dramatic? Certainly, but if you ever read a book 90% of the way through and found the last 30 pages ripped out, you can imagine what this was like.

Years later, I move to Wyoming, buy a big powerful computer (like, a lot more than 2MB RAM), and when I realize I have to go at least as far as Evanston, maybe Rock Springs to pick up proper games, I discover Steam. Not content with their first game Half Life being the Game of the Year and all, Valve Studios set out to dominate the digital download and distribution of PC games. (yay, alliteration!)

I looked through the offerings of the steam store, and it looks like they acquired quite the back catalog. Even old games, like ones from Interplay and LucasArts... and then I saw it. an almost 20 year old game now only cost $4.99. The price of closure.

I download and install it. A few days later, The Grail is mine. At last, my own digital crusade comes to an end.


Choose Wisely

By the way, I mentioned before that when this game was first published, game developers didn't put layers of copy protection and CD-Keys on their games to prevent piracy. But they DID have measures meant to stop people from passing around copies of their games. Inside those huge textbook sized boxes that were industry standard until about 2000 or so, the publishers dumped all kinds of manuals and supplemental paperwork into those big boxes. Things like maps, histories of the game world, and often, as in the case of The Last Crusade, handwritten "Journals" written in persona of the game's characters.

In this instance, it was half of Henry Jones Sr's Grail Diary. Most of it was fluff, but interesting fluff. But in order to keep pirates at bay (pun unintended, but welcome) the games themselves referenced this documentation in important ways. To find out which grail was the wise choice at the end, I had to read a few pages from the handwritten "Grail Diary" to find out which one it was. I remember playing Battle Chess and Carmen Sandiego and having to type in entries from their paperwork and manuals. the xth Entry on page y. Things like that.

And now, John Williams will play me out:


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

IT Dept Chili Showdown, Year 2

And this time it's personal!

No, really, for the organizer, it is. You see, last year he asked us not to turn up the heat too much to spare our co-worker the brunt of a Capsaicin Assault. Our coworkers in turn complained that the chili was too weak, thereby painting the IT Department as a bunch of pansies who like wussy chili.

This lit a fire under our even tempered organizer, so he in turn, asked us to light a fire inside them, all but demanding we make people cry.

So the night before I've been humming the Canyonero song from The Simpsons, replacing the word "Canyonero" with "Habrenero". Like the two I chopped up and put in the Chili. I chopped a third one and bagged it up, in case the fire cooks out too much from the first two.

What's shriveled, orange, and makes people cry, eat more than one and you'll wish you would die? HabanerooooOOOOOOoooo... Habaneroooo...


Also, I used stew beef and a chopped pork roast for meat in the hopes that whole cuts would improve the texture. Added one or two hours before serving was a few chipotles and one more chopped Habanero to drive the heat home. Also the cumin and chili powder weren't added until here, as well.

So, how'd it go?

We'll our mission to add the heat back into the competition was a successes. The tough guys enjoyed it, and the more heat adverse people flocked to two or three entries that weren't punishing on the tongue.

We had nine entries this year instead of six. All of them were about evenly matched, unlike the year before where the quality between the top half and the bottom half was a wide as a trench (recap of last year's bottom three: Watery, Tomato Sauce with Beans, and Mediocre Town).

The voting was fairly evenly distributed, and I secured 2nd place for my name again: "Chili for Smart and Good Looking Folk", the 1st place winner in the name category was "Meat Your Maker."[sic] This year the prizes were thematic, and I won a bottle of Blair's After Death Sauce. Mmm Mmm! In the future, I think I'll be using more habaneros for my chili. That turned out pretty well.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Forbidden Breakfast

When I was a kid, my mother had it in for sugary cereal in our house. Occassionally, a box of Cocoa Pebbles would slip by, and Honey Nut Cheerios were allowed in moderation. But Count Chocula and Lucky Charms were rare (Mom fought the war on cereal marshmallows like nobody's business) and she put her foot down whenever the subject came up about that sugary breakfast abmonination: Cookie Crisp.

"Cookies for BREAKFAST? They'll be robbing liquor stores to feed their crack addiction by the time they're 18!"

But as I've noted before, I have the advantage of living far far away from Mom. (Love you mommy! :-) So on Monday morning, after years of denial I finally had a bowl of the stuff. It was... pretty good. I guess. Not as good as the Pebbles or Count Chocula, but pretty good. And really, Ma? Those "Cookies" are just sweeten bits of corn puffs, as are the "chips". And I have no urge to rebel against authority, so I think it turned out OK.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Follow Up on my New Computer

One year after I really wanted to, I finally replaced my Laptop with the Glowy Blue Beast Box for my primary computer. Take a moment to stare at The Awesomeness:

My New Blue Computer

Oooooh, pretty!

So, what did I do first? Well, let's go through the list chronologically:
  1. Connect to the Internet
  2. Got Microsoft.com to order my free upgrade to Windows 7
  3. Installed Zone Alarm
  4. Played a game of Pox Nora (a game that's not graphically intense, and STILL manages to send my laptop's CPU into overdrive, overheating, and forced shutdown)
  5. Downloaded Microsoft's free anti-virus utility recommended by a coworker.
  6. Attempted to install aforementioned tool, installer froze and the process had to be killed
  7. Succeeded installation of tool, another freeze-up and kill episode on updating it
  8. Curse Microsoft
  9. Attempted to install one of them new-fangled MMORPG thingies that are all the rage with the kids these days. The installer freezes and locks up, much like the Anti-Virus tool.
  10. Repeat previous step 4-5 times; curse Microsoft
  11. Begin to suspect that the ZoneAlarm program mentioned in step 3 was having difficulty on a 64-bit system, being a 32-bit progam and all.
  12. Uninstall ZoneAlarm, reboot, subsequent attempts to install MMORPG and run Anti-Virus are successful
  13. Sheepishly recant curses directed at Microsoft
  14. Played through the Eve-Online Tutorial. Remembers how it feels to be impressed by Good Graphics.
And so, the adventure continues. I'm going to have to hook up this laser printer too, and see how that action works.
So, between the myriad PC games that are now open to me, the next Wheel of Time book that came out two days ago, and the fact that I just got another coworker addicted to another old hobby of mine (he was an easy sell) My leisure time is booked until further notice. At least it's getting cold now, so I have a good excuse to stay indoors all day! :-)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Shipping and Receiving - The Follow Up

Ok, so, the previously mentioned package was sent out for delivery Friday, was returned to the UPS facility due to an unknown address, they checked with the post office, and sent it back out for delivery on Monday, returned it again demanding a signature, dropped it off on Tuesday after they picked up the slip with the signature on the back. So it's all good.

Other packages that have arrived since then: My new Computer. Yay! Sadly, the monitor that I purchased from another vendor is taking its sweet time. Woot takes longer than usual to ship their stuff.

SuperFreakonomics: The follow up to the best book I've ever bought at an airport has arrived. A few pages into the introduction and I learned (seriously) that Indian mens' penises are smaller than average so they have a condom failure rate of 15%, partially explaining the high population in that part of the world. Can't wait to see what's next!

Last week I ordered a case of the Boss Monster Wine from wine.woot.com, Mostly for the novelty of buying wine via the Internet, a convienience that the Liquor Control Gestapo would not allow back in Pennsylvania. Viva, Wyoming, land of True Men, and Strong Women! Oh, and yeah, the label was a selling point for me, too.

A package from my Parents containing...? Dunno yet. I'm going to have to send them my new physical address, because apparently I gave them the wrong one last month.

And now, because the'll never be a better segue into this clip, I present the Music Man!



Wow. I thought *I* lived in a podunk town. If someone in Mountain View burst into song when the Fed Ex guy showed up, I reckon he'd be shot.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Different Sort of Biological Clock

For the last ten years or so, I always assumed that a latent desire to have children would bubble to the surface as I aged. Something about needing someone around to help you feel young or something.

But today, a coworker, her family, and I went out to Pizza Hut (Observing 2-years with our current employer) and the restaurant was also filling up with screechy 8-13 year old girls from the local Middle School (volleyball and soccer teams).

Between events like that, and encounters with other coworkers' children, I think that if I don't knock someone up by the time I'm 35, a vasectomy will seal off this genetic faucet for life.

As another friend once put it: "I love children, but I can never finish a whole one by myself."

Monday, October 12, 2009

Back in the Saddle again... and Wielding Knives!

Orange chicken on Thursday, Pepperoni Rolls on Saturday, Tuna Salad on Monday, and few things already planned for the rest of the week. It took me a long time to grow into my kitchen since I moved in, but I think we're there!

If anyone has attempted to cook in a strange kitchen, you know what I'm talking about.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Shipping and (hopefully) Receiving

I just placed an order with Barnes & Nobles, using up all but $1 and change of my gift card balance. What's really on my mind is will the UPS guy be able to find my new address? Apparently, it's in none of the Postal Databases, probably due to my building not existing until a few months ago. Living in friggin' nowhere probably doesn't help.

I have the option of shipping to my work address, a frill that my company cordially provides. But I figured that since these gift cards didn't represent an actual investment on my part (they were a Christmas gift from my workplace) that an order with them would be a good test.

By the way, having a gift card is the only reason to buy from Barnes and Nobles as opposed to, say, Amazon. B&N's books are about 10-20% more expensive, and even with the members discount (you have to pay for membership) and they charge sales tax. Both of these, I'm sure, are the results of being based in New York, which decided to start charging Sales Tax for online transactions. The high cost of doing business in that state causes them to raise prices, which causes me to go to a retailer than can provide the same stuff cheaper, which in turn (provided enough people do the same) causes B&N to go under or leave the state, cause the state of New York to lose the new taxes they are attempting to collect, plus the ones they had received before the Online Transaction Tax took effect.

NY needs to take a lesson from their comrades in California before they end up the same way. It might not happen for several years, but they can't afford to make the cost of business greater than it already is for New York Businesses.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Repaired

My Car has returned and it's whole again! Hooray! The reputation of the local auto body shop is well deserved. All evidence of damage is removed, my doors now open and shut, and new paint is perfectly blended with the rest of the car and strangely enough, has a smell similar to bananas. I can't explain that one, but it's kinda cool.

This event along with the radiator incident two months ago makes me think that The West is attempting to assassinate my little orange car...

Monday, September 14, 2009

One Hour Away from Natural Beauty

My sister came to visit this weekend, so we took a trip to the Flaming Gorge Recreation Area and did some sight seeing.

Flaming Gorge - Sheep Creek Overlook

And what fine sights they were!

This is about 55 miles south of me, and it's friggin sweet. You're better off clicking that and viewing the whole picture. It's purty.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Busted Stuff

Just because I signed on with the hivemind doesn't mean I'm abandoning this place!

So, I'm moved it, I have mah Internets back, and my sister is in town for a weekend. Hooray! But that means I'm too busy to post much, but I expect by the end of next week, things will have settled down some. In the meantime, lets take a look at my busted car that's getting repaired this week:

Casualty of the Move
Great stuff! It'll take the better part of a week to fix, but the insurance company will be paying for a rental car durning that time.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

In Which Fuzzy Drinks The Kool-Aid

I have made no secrets that I don't like social network sites. Frankly, I never liked the idea of blogging in general. Not until I realized that it was the best way to update friends/family with my Wyoming escapades did I grudgingly decided to create Fuzzy Goes West. It was a better alternative to collecting a stack of email addresses and sending out a mass spam that only half of the people would read.

While at the Family Cottage in Pittsburgh, I learned that my Father was following my Sister on Twitter.

Let me tell you about my father. He is inherently distrustful of the Internet. For the longest time, He would refuse to bank or pay bills online for security reasons of his own imagination. I think he had visions of a masked man cutting the line to the DSL, holding the exposed wires under an burlap sack, and somehow pouring his money into it, perhaps in the form of pixelated dollar signs.

So, no, he demands paper transactions, pays with cash, despite the more likely scenario of identity theft through personal information left on some of those scraps of paper he holds dear.

But he follows my sister, on Twitter. I Lose. I had to do something about it.

And so, If you see my name on the Rolls of the Damned, you'll know why. Ugh.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Just checking in

While I really do love my new place, they haven't gotten the WiFi up yet. So, I'm writing this from the local boozery, the Bridger Valley Lanes (They're a bowling alley too).

Sooo... pictures maybe this weekend when I'm on a proper connection. Later.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Moving Day

I'm writting this from my old house, which is nearly empty, save for the kitchen, which I was never able to get properly packed in time, and some debris on the floor, some of which will be moved today or tomorrow. The bulk of my Stuff is at the new place. The apartment, while smaller, is better than I expected.

First, the kitchen. It has a dishwasher, replacing the inefficient dishwasher I was using before (that would be my hands). It has a microwave that's mounted to the cupboard, replacing the model my sister gave me, which had an underpowered turntable that came dislogdged unless you balance the weight juuuust right, and took up more counterspace than it needed to. The oven/rangetop is new. For me, this means the burners are all even, so when I put a saucepan on the front-left burner, it will stay put, rather than slide clean off like the previous one did. Dangerous AND annoying!

Next, the heating. It's all electric, so my gas bill is history, although the electric bill rising will offset that slightly. All of the rooms have their own thermostat so I can kill the heat in the rooms I'm not using, saving a little more money. And they have this new thing in home construction called insullation that's all the rage. They put some of this stuff in the walls, and it not only keeps the cold from coming in, but it also- and this is where it gets amazing- keeps the heat inside! I'm certain that this technology wasn't around when they built my last place.

Additionally, I'm told they did some soundproofing on the walls and ceilings, so I won't have little old ladies above me pounding on the floor with their canes, screaming to turn down that noise so she can hear her stories.

There was one casualty in the move. When my friends' truck pulled away, my car was parked next to it with an open door which had caught between some of the rails in his trailer and pulled the door the wrong way. So, now I have a nylong strap holding it shut, and I'm going to get a few estimates on the repairs on Monday (Yes, his insurance will cover it).

So, I'll have picutures for you later. I'd have them today, but the transfer cable for my camera is in a box somewhere.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Birds are Stupid

At the Laundromat today, I encountered a bird that had found the one open window to get inside, but was utterly baffled on how to get back out. Not wanting the bird to die of starvation inside a laudromat (an awful place for any creature to die), I opened the door and attempted to shoo it back outside.

Ah, but birds aren't built for reasoning things out. This one relentlessly darted for the same pane of glass several times, as it appeared to be the biggest portal to the outdoors. So I'm standing there yelling at the thing: "That's right, go for the door- no, not the- *thwack* dammit!" after it thuds to the ground, it just sits there for a few minutes, stunned, as I walk over to see if it sustained any fatal injuries.

Dramatized Bird Thoughts:
"The two-legger is approaching, flee, flee! Ah ha! An exit! Freedom! Faster! *WHAM* Uh... the two legger must have set up a trap or something... soooo woosy... Oh no, it's coming back! Am I going to die? What's it holding over my head?" (note: it was my phone in camera mode)

Stupid Bird

I recieved a phone call from a friend of mine, so I told him about the incarnation of stupid on wings, and he told me to toss a shirt over it, and scoop it up and carry it outside. Good idea, so I finally set the terrified bird outside, and joined its buddies across the street at the bird feeder. He's probably warning them of the cave with the invisible barriers, and the two legged giants that chase the birdies around for their own sick pleasure.

Stupid Bird.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Scattershot Post - Two Barrels of Word Pellets

Several items, none that can fill out an entire post. You know the drill:
  • In Salt Lake City, there is a store called Game Night Games that specializes in European board games, and other semi-obscure games. Meaning you wont find them at Toys R' Us between Chutes and Ladders and Sorry. The have open tables on weekends, so I learned how to play Puerto Rico with some like minded strangers. I'm liking Salt Lake more and more these days.
  • In electronic gaming, Starcraft II recently was pushed back to a release in the first have of 2010, and that makes me sad. I wanted a Zergling rush for Christmas. (For those of you unfamiliar with the terminology, it's kinda like this).
  • A few weeks ago, I got the news that Dabel Brothers Publishing are going to finish the comic book series based on Robert Jordan's The New Spring. This series was first published by Red Eagle Entertainment and illustrated by the Dabel Brothers, but some business SNAFU kept the last issues from being completed. So now, the Brother's are publishing it themselves, and they are also illustrating/publishing the comic book based on the Wheel of Time series. I just got the first taste of it in the mail today. Friggin Sweet.
  • I'm enjoying the whole karaoke master gig, but some nights, the drunken idiots are out in force. This past Friday was one of those nights. Some sloppy-drunk girl got belted by some angry-drunk guy, and some stupid-drunk dude just couldn't get it in his head that I. Don't. Have. Any. Music. From. Crystal Dew. English, mother****er, DO YOU SPEAK IT?!?!?
  • I'm juggling three consecutive weekends involving a wedding in Pittsburgh, a move to another apartment, and a visit from my sister. When it rains, it pours.
  • And finally, here's a band that I've recently discovered: Streetlight Manifesto. Any band that lists the Squirrel Nut Zippers as an influence must be good.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Reduction

When I first began the process of packing, I figured "No big deal, I just did this two years ago." Ah, but that was me moving out of my parents house with one bedroom full of stuff, plus a few start-up household goods donated by the 'rents and my sister. That was not a big deal.

Since my arrival here, I've acquired a lot more stuff. Some of that stuff off the top of my head includes:
  • One large futon from coworker
  • One large futon from home
  • Matching coffee table and end table
  • Non-matching coffee table and end table
  • Full size mattress w/ box springs (no frame)
  • End Table like item, used as a TV Stand
  • Card table and chairs
  • Kitchenware (Pots/pans, dishes, glasses, cutlery, flatware, small appliances)
  • Nonperishable groceries
  • Large Armchair w/ ottoman (From Home)
Soon, I'll have one less Bedroom and a smaller Living room. And while I think everything will fit, it may be a bit... cramped. Another coworker might be interested in taking a futon off my hands (thus continuing the circle of life) but I'd like to ditch one of these coffee tables, I think. Well, I'll see what I can do.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Joke Overheard at the Bar

Q: What's the most successful pickup line in history?

A: "Hey, does this smell like chloroform to you?"

See Also: "Does this drink taste like there's Rohypnol in it?"

Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Lesser Relocation Project

When I first moved here, my employer gave me 45 Days in my temporary housing. Now, it's not like I'd be kicked out on day 46, but I'd have to start paying out of pocket for my room at the local inn, and that gets expensive quite fast. Not helping the matter was that housing in the Bridger Valley, whether a rental or purchase, was a lot higher than you'd think it would be in a rural area. Demand was high and supply was low, for this was before the sub-prime meltdown. There was a waiting list for availability at the local town housing complex.

Thankfully, a member of the church that I started to attend referred me to someone that was looking for a tenant. (It pays to know people.) I signed a lease, moved into a decent sized house, and I got out on the last day of my temp housing, a feat that's uncommon at my company. The rent isn't what you'd call cheap, but it was under four figures, which is what some people were asking for monthly rent at a house. As I saw it, I was getting ripped off at a lesser rate than a lot of other people.

18 months and a housing implosion later, my lease has expired, my options are free, and a coworker tells me that a friend of his, who is also a former employee from our IT department, is building a new duplex, or I guess a quadplex, of apartments just on the South end of Mountain View, and is looking for renters.

I met with the owner, and looked around the apartments... after I helped her wrangle her stray horse back inside the fence.

Viva Wyoming!

Rent is about $125 less per month, and includes water/sewer, garbage, and Internet. All I pay for is electric. (the heating is electric, not gas). Additionally, I'm not mowing a lawn, which was a condition of the lease that I signed at the first place, a stipulation that I have regretted especially this summer; we had one of the rainiest springs in memory out here.

So in summation, it's cheaper, better insulated, and no lawn work required. Win.

I have one less bedroom, so now the gameroom and guest room are going to have to be combined. My commute will double from 1 mile to 2 miles. (My Pittsburgh friends are probably scoffing at that remark, for they still have to commute several miles to get to work, and stop at several traffic lights. The arousal of your jealousy was intended! :-)

Now, I have to decided what makes the move. I didn't bring much from Pennsylvania, but I've since accepted donated furnishings and purchased one secondhand futon. It filled up a 3 bedroom house just fine, but might be a bit much for the apartment. At least I had the foresight to keep the boxes from the first move, along with most of the boxes from things purchased from woot and amazon.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Road Quiz

Question 1: While going 60 MPH on the highway under construction in moderate traffic, a shredded tire from a semi truck appears suddenly from underneath the car in front of you. You have less than one second to react to this road hazard. Do you:

A) Swerve to the right and sidswipe an SUV
B) Swerve to the left and crash into a Jersey Barrier
C) Brake Hard, probaby run over the tire anyway and get rear ended for your troubles
D) Brace for impact, and run over the tire

Question 2: One week after running over a shredded tire, your car is overheating. In this situation, what is the most likely cause of this problem? EXTRA CREDIT: How much will it cost to repair/replace?

Question 3: True or False - Manuafacurer Warranties cover damage sustained from road hazards.

Time's up, put your pencils down, check your ansers against mine below.
------------------------
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Friday, July 24, 2009

It's a Wicked World that We Live In...

In 2002, a band called The Transplants wrote a song called "Diamonds and Guns". It's a surprisingly catchy song for the subject matter. From what I can interpret, it's about a drug deal or a black market diamond deal gone bad, and the consequences that comes from the life choices that led to said deal.

Some of you know which song I'm talking about, some of you may not. But all of you have probably heard it before when Garnier licenced it to sell their shampoo. Any of you who may have not heard the song in it's entirety, will recognize it by the first 5 seconds.



And now, may you think of gritty thug life when you buy hair care products, which is only fair because now when I hear this song, I can't help but think about healthy lustrous hair with shine and bounce.

Woo Woo!!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Fallout 3 - Surving the Post-Nuclear Capitol Wasteland

Yeah, I haven't posted much in a while, but after three travel weekends, (Origins, Steamboat Springs, and a day trip to Ogden) I'm taking things easy for a while. I like to spend a weekend bumming around the house now and then.

The only things of interest happening right now are work related, and I can't discuss those any more than this: We discovered an expensive problem with something, and there another thing going on right now that were doing to expand our service, but working with the other company involved is proving to be frustrating for several reasons.

So instead, I'll discuss a little PS3 game I've been playing in the evenings and on weekends called Fallout 3.

Here's the deal: The story is sort of an alternate time line of 1900's history where WWII never happened, and instead, the United States gets a face full of Nuclear Warheads detonated on them, mostly in the Capitol. in the 1940s or 1950s. Millions die, but some of the population make it into underground bunkers called Vaults (Built by the Vault-Tec corporation). About a hundred years pass since the apocalypse, and you decided to go out for a stroll in the devastated DC area, hearby named The Capital Wasteland.

For rest of the game you walk around shooting mutants and Mad-Max Style Raiders, while trying to scrounge up ammo, Medical supplies, food and water, and Nuka-Cola Bottle Caps, which are the defacto currency of the Wasteland.
The Art direction is interesting, with 1950 style advertising and naming conventions displayed all around, music that I'd have to say is from the 1940s and early 1950s, and your wrist-computer (big, clunky, and named the Pip-Boy) prominently displays cute illustrations involving this guy to the right.

I'm not going to painstakingly explain why the game is amusing, so I'll just leave it at this little anecdote. As you progress in the game, you may choose special abilities that suit your tastes and play style. These abilities (called Perks) have odd names and descriptions. There's the one called Lady Killer, that gives you some unique dialogue options when dealing with the opposite sex, and deals %10 more damage to female enemies.

Some of these perks are only acquired through in-game actions. I found one today, after I successfully performed a speech where I convinced the perky inventor lady that she ought to stop writing her Wasteland Survival Guide that she's been working all her life. It took the wind out of her sails, but she agreed, and I got the perk Dream Crusher. The description: "Something about your prescience dampens others' desires to exceed. Any enemy's chance of getting a critical hits is reduced by 50%." A game that rewards you not just for saving the world, or shoot things, but dashing the hopes for somebody's life's work. That's just deviously clever.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Not Really Seafood

A coworker, his family and myself went to dinner at the new BBQ place in town. Pretty good ribs and brisket.

So guess what we had for an appetizer?

Rocky Mountain Oysters

Rocky Mountain Oysters. Hereby moving Raw Oysters (real seafood) down to the number 2 spot on the list of "Strangest things I've ever eaten."

They tasted alright, but it's difficult to get over the fact that you got the gonads of a ruminant in your mouth.

Again that's bovine testicles.

In your mouth.

Moo!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Independence Day in Steamboat Springs

So, back in 1997 or so, some of my family's friends moved from Western Pennsylvania to Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Back then, it might have well been Mars, for the other side of the country seemed like a strange and dangerous place. And it was SOOOO FAR AWAY!

Ten years later, I make a move of my own and end up a mere 4.5 hour drive away. In western traveling time, that adjusts down to about two hours. My parents mention my relocation in the Chirstmas Card Letter and and a few days later I get a call from these folks, saying they'd love for me to visit. Between my job, my life, and my total lack of vacation time, I'm unable to make the time for the first year. This year, I take advantage of the long holiday weekend and go for a drive to visit Jennifer, Mike, Jaquie, and Leah.

Five hours later, I pull into town. Pretty place, but it has that snooty feeling, like it's crawling with White People. I think it was mostly from the tourists and Granola munchers, though. I then pull in to look upon people I haven't seen in a long time. Most of them haven't changed much, except for the total assimlation into Western Life. Jaquie's a Registered Nurse working the graveyard shift at the Steamboat Hospital, Mike's an Engineer for the Peabody Mining Corp., Jennifer works part time at the local school and runs a few church and/or social events, and Leah has been working the past three summers at the local ampitheater's box office. Seeing her again was a little akward, because she's sixteen years old now, and the last time I saw her, she was two. I feel old.

So did I spend my weekend?

Shopping at F.M. Light!

Yay, Free Rodeo Tickets!

Hey, did that banner say "Free Rodeo Tickets?" Sweet! Let's go!

An evening at the Rodeo - Bronco Riding

Cool. Next time I attend one, I'll be able use the old figure of speech "This ain't my first Rodeo!"
So how do you top that? I dunno, how about we watch the Rancher's drive the Cattle right down Friggin' Main Street? (In this case, Main Street is Lincoln Ave., but has the same significance). This is how we roll out here.

Rodeo Cattle Drive

So there you have it folks! There's a lot more pictures from my trip at Flickr, and don't miss the Baggs, Wyoming Pit Stop!

I love the west a little more each week. Happy Trails!

Cloud over Steamboat Springs

Monday, July 6, 2009

My Independence Day Weekend

Two major weekend trips in a row! My inheirited aversion to travel is reeling, and I hope at this rate will that it'll be pronounced dead by the end of next summer! I'm still captioning and uploading pictures (and there are A LOT of picutres), so I'm not going into grand detail just yet. But the short version is that I was visiting family friends, other Pittsburgh Ex-pats, that have made the move west about 10 years prior to me. Here's a quick picture for location identification purposes:

Steamboat Jewelers


Until then, may you experience the joys of answering the Call of the West!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Origins '09 - Friday, Saturday, and Sunday

After we returned from White Castle, we returned to the hotel, where I proptly recieved a call from my Brothers in Arms (Mito, Tyler, and Kress) letting me know they have arrived. So instead of sleeping, we stayed up, and played a few games of MTG and Acquire, except Tyler, who doesn't have the fortitiute of consiousness to do be up more than 20 hours at a time.

A note about the Acquire game: I purchased one of the old 1968 era versions of the game that I had been seeking for a while now. This is the one with the wooden tiles instead of the plastic ones, but you can still tell that the graphic design was very 1960's era, and not the hippie psychadelic style. More like the stodgy boardroom style. Rather bland and minimalist. Still, I think it's cool. I also got a free copy of Stonehenge with that purchase, which is an anthology boardgame where 5 different designers were given the Stonehenge themed playing pieces and told to make a game around them. I'll have to give it a closer look later.

So, the next morning we fought off fatigue, and returned to gaming. I learned how to play this Dominion game everyone keeps talking about, and demanded to know why no one told me about it sooner. How it works is everyone gets a deck of 10 cards that consists of 7 coins and 3 victory points, and each turn they must draw 5 cards from this deck, and use those cards to buy more stuff, and eventually more victory points.

What I don't understand is the constant comparisons people make to Magic the Gathering. Sure each player has his own deck of cards, and you have to build that deck, but the mechanics and means of doing so are wildly different. It's like comparing Acquire to Monopoly, becuase they both use paper money, or to Scrabble, becuase they both have tiles that are placed on gridded board. And don't even get me started on the people who have compared Settlers of Catan and Risk. Not. Even. Close.

So after learning one awesome game, I decided to learn another: Munchkin Quest.
Munchkin Quest

The orginal Munchkin card game was essetially an abstract mock-up of a typical Fantasy Role playing session, modeled after what some of the sillier games degenerated to: Burst through doors Leeroy Jenkins style, recklessly kill whatever lived inside, take their stuff, and maybe steal something from your friend. Or stab him in the back.

Munchkin Quest lessens the abstraction by giving you a real dungeon, with all of the humor, oddball items, and silly monsters we've come to expect.

Munchkin Quest - Close up
click to enlarge

After that, I wandered around the vendor's hall to covent some wicked-cool furniture before my next game which was Risk 2210, which I think I've mentioned before, so I'll not discuss further. But seriously, the Table I saw in the exhibit hall. Wow.


Game Table - Sultan Model

After Risk 2210, we returned to the hotel again, and got some actual sleep, lest we pass out on Saturday.

Saturday, I played a little Dungeons and Dragons and Chess with Mito, which was good times. Mito's certainly getting better at chess, as he mangaged to beat me yet again (but I still got best of 3).

I also tried another game which was similar to Munchkin Quest in gameplay, called Descent:


Descent - Up Close

This is like an advanced version of HeroQuest, if anyone has everplayed that when they were a kid. It's made by Fantasy Flight games, who are know for making LARGE detailed boardgames with Large, detailed pricetags. I've often seen this one retail for 80 bucks! they also make the Starcraft Boardgame which I got for a friend a year or two ago, and I think he's played it, like once. It's not something you bring out unless you and at least two more people are prepared to spend a day playing it. Oy.

Anyway, Sunday got cut short between us sleeping in, having difficulty with Kress's vehicle, and Delta bumping my flight forward two hours. But we did make time to go to Buca di Beppo's for lunch, which was tasty as always. With a few minor, and one major exception...

In an order to consolidate the look and feel of all the Bucca di Beppo franchises, they standardized some of the pictures and art on the wall (It's still mostly the same, I didn't notice it until the waitress brought it up.), the paper placemat menus have been replaced by more professionally printed full color menu (I prefered the rustic touch of the placemat-menu, but no big deal) and they no longer make their own limoncello, but instead serve Danny DiVito's Brand (RAGE!)

Danny's brand is more harsh tasting, which is something that I usually wouldn't mind in a strong liquor, but not limoncello. It tastes like a bunch of lemons steeped in antifreeze, and Danny DeVito's sweat. Basically, I'm in agreement with these folks at the A.V. Club. Bleh. I'm still amazed that he landed this marketing deal by showing up drunk (or with a hangover) on the View.

So, that's how I spent my summer vacation. And now, I think it's high time to begin looking to do something outdoorsy before the season draws to a close. Get a little fresh air in me. Maybe it doesn't burn as much as they say. :-)


Munchkin Guy!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Origins '09 - Wednesday and Thursday

Wednesday morning, I stopped at the local Maverik for Coffee and Breakfast. In with the breakfast sandwiches, there was a breadless entry labeled "Atkins", which as far as I can tell, means that someone made more eggs and bacon then they had bread for.
Two uneventful hours on the road, follow by five more in the air (and taking pictures of the amusing signage and T-Shirts) puts me in Columbus, where I take a cab to the Convention Center and meet up with Ryan (He was the groom in the March Wedding, FYI). I take it easy that night, and just played with the Battletech pods and sidkicked for Ryan in his Magic: The Gathering Sealed Deck game.

Battletech: Firestom Pods
The Battletech pods are basicl sit-down style Arcade cabinets LANed up together so you can shoot down other conventioneers. Weapons take a while to recharge, with the exact time it takes being inversely proportional to the power of the weapon. i.e., you're Tactical Nerf Balistic Missiles will take less time to charge than the shoulder mounted Pwnage Cannon of the Gods. Each of those pods represents a different Mech with different guns, missles, armor and speed.

Then, a trip to the Columbus, OH Waffle House, for aggressively priced butter drowned foodstuffs! Hooray! (BTW, for my Origins travel compainions from years past, they renamed The Golden Fox. It's now Lollipops. I'm guessing it was a change of owership or something.)

Grubbin' at the Waffle House - Columbus, OH
The next morning, we head back in. Ryan and Jill (his new wife) play Fluxx, while I play a Carcassone tornament. There wasn't many people interested in this one, as It was me versus two other people. I came in last, but it was still a good match. I was a little surprised they allowed four hours for a one round tournament. Even with five players, A game wouldn't take more than two horus.

With the 3 hours of extra time I hadn't planned on, I join Ryan and Jill in their game of Redneck Life. The object of the game is to end the game with the most teeth. But along the way, you'll lose several of them to accidents involving Beer, Vehicles, Fights, or a combination of them.

Redneck Life - Gameboard Up Close

As you spiral around the board, you'll encounter extra cash, and probably even more expenses that you're job at the Bait n' Beer can't cover, so you'll have to take out payday loans at the Check n' Scam to make ends meet. You'll get married, divorced, married again (and inheirit a bunch of stepkids named Daryl) and buy a few fantastic cars and homes. After the game, we had a bit of dinner at Barley's Brewpub (conviently across the road from the exit/entrance). If your ever in the Arena District for any reason, go here and try their beer. This is good stuff!

Barley's Brewpub - MacLenny's Scottish Ale

After dinner, Ryan and I returned to the convention center to do battle in a Ravnica Sealed Deck event, with complete sets of Ravnica, Guildpact, or Dissension awared to the top 4. [MTG Nerdery warning!] Surprsingly, I placed 4th thanks to a good mix of beaters on the ground and in the skys, including Loxodon Heirarch, Watchwolf, Siege Wurm, Golgari Rotwurm, Assult Zepplid, Servent of Vhitu-Gazi, and a Hunted Lammasu, supported with a Condemn, Douse in Gloom, and Disembowl. Between the three bouncelands, two signets, and a Breeding Pool I opened (yay, shocklands!) I was able to play every color except red. Honestly, I had another bounceland and signet to play red, if I had wanted to, but the sweetness I got in the other colors left a lot to be desired in red. So, after losing one match in the Swiss rounds and again in the top 4 playoffs to a guy packing a leafdrake roost and an Obnivian (The frog that turns things into 3/3 frogs) I walked away with a complete set of Dissension. So, hooray for me!

After a late night dinner at White Castle, we returned to the Hotel to get some sleep. Or, that's what I intended to do at least...

More about that in the next post.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Quest Completed! Gain 500XP

I'm back, and I'm sorry I couldn't find the time to post during the week. I'll have pictures and stories later. For now, I must rest.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Remain Steadfast, Travelers...

...for your journey shall be fraught with peril! Even now, as the Forces of Evil block your path and force us to take the alternate road, you must hold strong. Keep your weapons close, fill your mind with arcane lore, and for Bahaumat's Sake, DO NOT feed the Dragons. The barroom braggarts' tales of distracting blue dragons with candy have been greatly embellished.

Pack rations! The City is full of those that would gouge travelers by hawking pretzels and corn-dogs for 10 gold crowns each! Be civil! We have all observed drunken man-children cast into their own rage after losing a game of Tavern-Stones! Such conduct is unbecoming of Fate's Children, such as yourselves! Rest yourselves each night, for your minds and bodies cannot function to their full potential on two hours sleep. I was pleased to hear that your accommodations this year are less flea ridden than in years past.

Take heart, for even in spite of all these things, your destiny is not as dark as it may seem now. In the blur of the City, your eyes may fool you into making rash and fearful choices. The hordes of zombies are just pasty nerds that have cast aside the basic social norms of hygiene. The sneering warriors? Merely LARPers with impressive, yet harmless, foam covered weaponry. And years of study and research have long since disproved the theory of Anomalous Ill-Luck events: The dice ARE NOT trying to kill you.

Be wary, be safe, and we shall meet again! I would hear of your adventures over gobblets of fine Arevindor wine. Fare Thee Well, And may the Pantheon of Light favor your quest!

I'm leaving for Origins today. I hope to post now and then when I can if the wi-fi at the hotel is free. And now, to offset yesterdays unpleasantness, Reel Big Fish return to sing A-Ha's Take On Me, with 100% less F-Bombs than yeserday's offering!

Monday, June 22, 2009

With a Big Rusty Pole, or a Splintering Post...

It looks like my vacation might get off to the wrong foot before it even begins.

Delta sent me a confirmation notice regarding my flight out to Ohio, and the first thing I realized is that the flight times were difference. No good. Then I relized that there were more flights involved in general. Looks like my sweet non-stop flight to Columbus now has a one hour layover in Cincinatti. I arrive an hour later than expected on the inital flight, and depart two hours later for the return flight, mangling plans for a pick-up at the Columbus Airport, and possible cutting Lunch plans short on Sunday.

I'm trying to contact their customer service number but it's constantly busy, presumeably with all the other people they've screwed calling in to compain.

And so, Delta Airlines, I now cue up some Reel Big Fish for you in tribute:


Friday, June 19, 2009

Sensationalism

To reduce visibility I try not to get into very detailed news about work, but there has been an internal issue that has been the subject of rumors for the past few months.

Yesterday that issue has gone public in the Casper Star-Tribune, which ledes with a exagerated headline. I'm not going to comment on it further than this:
  • The person responsible for this has been fired (that part is in the article)
  • Newspapers are notorious for this sensaltionalist BS, so it should come as no surprise that they lead this article with "Phone Company Illeagally Erected Towers", presumably because it's sexier than "Phone Company Doesn't Get All the Pemits it Needs"
Read the whole thing. The article's headline suggests that Evil Company Ninjas sneaked onto other peoples land and secretly build towers, but the truth is far more mundane. Someone at the paper obviously doesn't like us.

I guess, the lesson is to make sure you do your friggin' paperwork.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Corporate Memory

Imagine a hypothetical company, let's say it's a major retailer with stores all over the place, and it has a distribution system that carries goods and services from their warehouses to its stores. Now lets suppose that the cost of trucks, feul, drivers, etc. is a large expense and this retailer has found a third party transport company that can do the task at one third the price. The director of the shipping department may decide that everyone on his staff that is associated with the transportation part of the business to be obsolete. This is not an unreasonable assumption, so the manager lets those people go.

So, on the day that the third party transporter is contracted to begin, he lines up his trucks, walks up to the shipping director and says, "OK, we're ready to go. Just tell us where to drive these trucks full of merchandise, and we'll get them there by tommorrow at the latest!"

"Um... I thought you, like, already knew where you were going?"

"Well, once we have the addresses of your stores, sure, we can get there fast and effiecntly!"

"Oh, I thought you'd just, like, know that stuff already or something."

"Uh, no... it's in our contract that you'd give us the addresses of your stores and the names of the managers, and such."

"Oh, right. I forgot about that... hang on..." The manager runs back into the office and starts sifting through papers and searching through computer files. He returns in about an hour holding a box of various papers.

"Ok, it's all here somewhere."

The driver looks at the milk crate full of loose paper. "Uh, you don't expect us to go through all this by hand, did you?"

"Well, we kinda forgot that you might need this information." he holds up a ratty sheet of notebook paper. "Aha! I think these are lat-long coordinates for our store in Des Moines. Or one of our Maine locations. I can't quite read the handwriting, but the numbers are pretty clear."

"...and the store manager?"

"Oh, I think I talked to him at the company Christmas party last year. Name's William Something. The Des Moines guy, I mean. I've never met anyone from the Maine stores."

"..."

"Oh, hey! An invoice from a company that did some roofing work on our Ohmaha store! Address and Manager Name right there at the bottom! See? It's all good!"

"...You mean you didn't get a list of this before your last manager left the company?"

"Well, we didn't think we'd need anything they ever did after we brought you on. You can see how the misunderstanding happened."

"You DO realize that we can't do a thing until we know where to send each of these trucks, right? Not to mention which store each one of these is going to."

"Wait, you don't even know which store each truck is going to? Man, logistics is hard!"

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what we're dealing with right now (The Department has been changed to protect the innocent). We're getting data that someone else used to personally keep track of, and now that he/she is gone, we have to figure out what this person did, and get our contractor data in a form that they can use.

And a lot of it is incomplete, or just dirty. To all the managers out there that have to downsize your departments, take heed: make sure you know where everything is before you terminate positions.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Grubbin' With Fuzzy - Procrastination Cookies

Cookies Cooling

Ok, so a looong time ago, like December of ought-seven, I picked up some baking chips that went on sale figuring I'd do some Christmas baking. But I forgot that baking around Christmas time was a low priority for me, especially when my Boss's wife, who used to run a catering company, bakes up a zillion cookies a year, and brings them to our workplace where they are consumed before noon.

So these baking chips sat in my cupboard, until the following September, when I figured I'd just wait a few months, and use them for Chistmas of 2008. So I'm getting ready to go out for New Year's Eve when I realized "Hey, I never baked those cookies!". So, I just decided to bake them in February. February came and went, so I thought "OK, well, I'll defiantly make them in April."

So that May I made a vow that I'd finally use up some those baking chips, and some of that sugar that's been sitting there for almost as long, and finally bake some cookies.

And so I did. In June. Whatever.

Anyway, I used this recipe at joyofbaking.com and they came out delicious. I also learned that the most wonderful tasting compound in the world is butter creamed with white and brown sugar. It's like a vortex of unhealthiness that threatens to overcome my will.

Join me next time when I make Strawberry Shortcake for Christmas using ingredients I purchased the previous Spring!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Wizards of the Coast Moves My Cheese

Relevance Warning: For those of you haven't played Magic: The Gathering before, this post will be of no use to you. We're not only going to discuss nerdular games, but we're going to discuss detailed rules of nerdular games. You're wasting your time here when you could be wasting time at one of many other places on the Internet. You should probably check some of those out right now and move along.

For all the Planeswalkers still with me, read on.

Today, WotC announced a fairly dramatic change to the rules of Magic: The Gathering. In terms of predicted public outcry, I think this ranks just above the 8th Edition Card Facelift and just below the 6th Edition Rules Change which was more sweeping that this one. They also didn't give much notice on this one either. July 11th, it goes into effect. (It goes into effect July 29th on MTGO. Not that I give a rat's behind.)

So, let's take a look-see, shall we?

Statement of purpose: The rules ought to be tweeked in a way so that they function more intuititvely, in such a way that new player's expectations are met, and reasonable assumptions are typically correct. This dovetails with their efforts to make the flavor aspects of the game (card names, creature types) more familiar and understandable (i.e. changing phrasing like "local enchantment" to "enchantment - aura").

Sounds reasonable to me. So what's changing?

1) Simultanious Mulligans
What Should happen: Each player draws their starting hand of 7 cards. The player who is going first looks at hand, decides it sucks, and says "I'm going to mulligan down to 6." He reshuffles and draws 6 cards. "Still sucks. I'm going to 5". He reshuffles and goes to 5. "Ok, I'll take it.". Then and only then does the other player decided whether or not to mulligan his inital hand of seven cards, and continue to redeal his hand or keep as above.

How it really happens:
Player 1: "My hand sucks. I'm drawing 6."
Player 2: "Yeah, mine too. I'll do the same"
Both players reshuffle and draw 6 cards without waiting for the other one.

The Change: They're going to make what Really Happens into How It Should Happen.

My two cents: Yeah, this is no big deal, and it helps to move things along. I usually forget that I'm supposed to wait anyway.

2) Terminology Changes
Old and Busted: the In-Play zone; Play a Spell; Play an ability; Remove From Game.
New Hotness: The Battlefield; Cast a Spell; Activate an ability; Exile

My two cents: Making the same sound cooler and more flavorful while simplifying basic concepts is always fine by me. This change is mostly cosmetic, except that cards that are Removed from the Game Exiled are no longer considered to be "Outside the Game" so Burning Wish, Ring of Ma'ruf and the like can no longer retrieve a creature hit with a Swords to Plowshares. Not a big deal.

3) Mana - Floating it, and burning from it
Mana used to last up through the end of the phase, now it only persists until the end of the step. So, if you tap an Island for a blue before you declare attackers in the Combat Phase, it's vanished by the time your opponent is declaring blockers.

But you no longer take mana burn from it. It just dissapears into a puff of mystical mojo.

My two cents: The Solitary Confinement Deck I love so very much will take a hit becuase I can't maniupulate my life total for Convalescent Care via mana burn, but I can get on board with this change.

4) Token ownership
How it used to work: I play Hunted Dragon. I get a fat, cheap dragon and you get a trio of 2/2 white knights with first strike. Then I play Brand, which gives me control of your Knights, becuase I own them even though you control them. "Wait, what?" Yeah, my Dragon made them when they came into play, so they got my name stamped on them. Brand makes them mine.

How it's going to work: I play Hunted Dragon. I get discount dragon, you get knights. I play Brand. The knights shrug, unimpressed. They are owned by the person that controls them when they came into play.

My Two Cents: As a person that never exploited ownership of tokens, I'm fine with making this more logical to minds of new players.

5) Combat Damage no longer uses the Stack
I was starting to think there'd be nothing in these changes that would send me into a fit of Fanboy Rage. Then I read this part.

How it used to work: I attack with an Air Elemental (4/4) for 4. Opponent blocks with a pair of Wild Griffins (2/2). I assign two damage to each of them, each Griffin assigns two damage to the Air Elemental for a total of four enough to kill it. I play Unsummon on my Air Elemental, rescuing it from its fate, while the Griffins take two damage each, and die from the Elemental that had been winked out of existance for a moment.

How it's going to work: I attack with the Elemental, he blocks with the Griffins. I can either unsummon the elemental before damage is delt, and his Griffins live, or I can lose my Elemental and he loses his Griffins. Unsummon can no longer be timed in such a way that I can take out both his Griffins and save my Elemental from the graveyard. (note: at this point, I'd just unsummon one of his Griffins so my elemental would live, and I'd take out at least one Griffin.)

My two cents: OMGWTFBBQ?!?!?!!!1 WIZTARD$ OF TEH COST IZ KILLIN THE GAME IM NEVER BYING ANUTHR CARD EVAR AGAIN THAY SUXX!! Wha- woah... sorry. Ok, I regained control now. Sorry, that's a side of me I try my best to hide.

But serisously, I loved the ability to snatch my creatures away while still dealing damage to them, or use a self-sacrifice ability after damage is on the stack to kill two birds with one stone. This one is going to take some getting used to.

Additionally, they mentioned that instead of attacking creatures distributing damage to blockers as desired, they now have to be lined up in a queue or some nonsenese. I'm not going to try to articulate those changes, but here's the gist of it: if my 4/4 Beastie is blocked by a pair of 3/3 Hill Giants, I can't deal two to each of them and finish them off with a Tremor. Now, I have to assign 3 to one of them, and 1 to the other one. Meh.

6) Deathtouch and Lifelink
How Deathtouch used to work: Your Basilisk with deathtouch is blocked by my Drudge Skeletons with Regeneration for a Black mana. I have to regenerated it twice. Once for leathal damage, and once for the Deathtouch ability.
How Deathtouch is going to work: Same combat situation as above, I only have to regenerate it once.

How Lifelink used to work: I'm at two life, you attack with a pair of 2/2 Grey Ogres. I only have one 2/2 creature with Lifelink. I block an Ogre, and take two damage. I die before the two life I'd gain from the lifelink triggered ability resolves.
How Lifelink is going to work: Same combat situation as above, same blocks as above. Ogre deals two damage to me, but my Lifelinked creature dealt two damage at the same time, and gained life at the same time. I'm still alive at two life (I took two damage, and gained two life). Although now I've lost my creature and you've lost an Ogre.

My Two Cents: I like it. It just makes more sense than some oddball triggered ability that doesn't resolve before I die. Which is what they were going for.

So, for the three of you that read this post and care, let me know what you think in the comments.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Obligitory Weather Post

Wyoming is said to be a semi arid area. Not quite sand, scorpions, and cacti, but dry overall. Until this week. It's been raining on and off for several days now. Unlike western Pennsylvania, where it rains usually for an hour or more at a time, Wyoming's rain is more like a sprinkle for five minutes, then just overcast, shower for 10 minutes, then sunshine. drizzle for another 5 minutes, a meteorological head-fake suggesting sunshine, then another brief shower.

I'd imagine this is making things easier on the ranchers who don't have to use as much irrigation water for their hay fields, but we all hope it stops after they start mowing it and let it spread it out to dry. If it rains too heavily on that, it rots.

In other news, my director had to cut an extended weekend trip to Yellowstone short because the park closed due to snow. In June.

Viva Wy-snow-ming.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Fuzzy Gets Medicated

I made a trip to the Doctor's Office to get a new prescription for indomethacin for my gout, and he strongly recommended that I finally go on a daily medication. I've been reluctant to go on daily medications in the past because I have an irrational belief that doing so is the acknowledgement that I am officially unfit to live. If my own body chemistry can't cut it on it own, then I should just roll over and take up less space and oxygen for the healthy people. But Doc made an persuasive case:
  • Attacking the Source > Treating the Symptoms
  • Continued gouty arthritis attacks can lead to permanent joint damage
  • The same uric acid that causes gout can also cause kidney stones
About that last one. I'm going to tell you there's no aliment that has the potential to scare the bajezzus out of me than kidney stones. I've never had them, but I want to keep it that way. If you told me that diets low in dog excrement was linked to an increased risk of kidney stones, you might see me the next day stalking stray dogs with a bottle of ketchup and a spoon.

So, now I'm taking allopurinol, which is supposed to reduce the amount of uric acid in the blood stream. Sounds good, but there's some interesting caveats with this drug. It also dissolves any crystallized uric acid that may have built up in your joints (the cause of gouty arthritis). While this sounds like a good thing, and in the long run it is, this puts the dissolved crystals back into bloodstream before it's flushed out. If you already had a high build up of uric acid in your blood, this might reform into crystals and actually invite a friggin' gout attack, or worsen one if you take it during an attack (note: don't take this stuff during an attack. srsly). 

In order to minimize this, you have to begin low doses and work up to higher between the period of a few months or up to a year. Right now I'm cutting 300mg tablets into quarters and going from there. I'm hoping I'll be able to go up to half tablets after my vacation this month, and be up to the full dose by the end of July. Any more attacks, and I'm stopping the allopurinol, popping the indomethicin, and going back on a lower dosage of allopurinol after the all clear. Like Westley building up a tolerance to Iocaine Powder

Doc tells me that after I get up to the recommended dosage and maintain that, my gout problems should be finished, as long as I keep taking the pills. Here's to a better life through chemicals!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Anticipation

Only three weeks, and I'm going to the happiest place on earth in Ohio.

Yeah, I've plugged this alot recently, but I'm jonesing pretty bad after missing last year. Also, I'll be joined by a few friends that I don't get to see often, so that'll be good to. This event is probably going to dominate this blog for this month, so you have been warned.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Looking Out for Number One

This reminds me a lot of one of the mega churches that I hung around back home that was basically just a front for a Matchmaking service (Matt, Jamie, I'm looking at you). But it also reminds me a little bit of the Sovereign Grace church that frequented until I left Pittsburgh. Specifically, #31 on this list:


I know several of my friends back home *COUGH COUGH* would appreciate this a lot. As for me, I only score a four: #1 (no singles ministry here, I think it would be me and a few high school kids), #12 (life is more exciting for me right now than it's been most of my life, I think), and my favorite, #39: "You've developed highly sensitive, 'They're about to throw the bouquet garter' radar and know exactly when to leave a wedding." Yeah, that's me. I despite being in the wedding party, I dodged that at my cousin's wedding, like an Agent dodging a bullet.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Twenty-Five Character Profile

While gaming over the Internet, you encounter a lot of people, but interact for only a brief time. Unless you use voice chat, you don't get to know anything about them as a person. And chatting with strangers over the Intarwebs, voice or otherwise, is NOT reccomended, because as I noted before, people suck. I think that Mad Scientists get their inspiration to destroy the world from hearing the words "Noob", "Sux", and "OMG ROFL!!!1" too often.

So while playing Team Fortress 2, I recalled that the PS3 saves the names of people that you've played with online, so I decided to go through and document some of these and share them with the world. I think you can have up to 25 characters for your PlayStation Network handle, and through this, you give major clues about your personality. So now, here's a few of the more interesting handles attached to people I've met while playing TF2:

  • Armageddon513 - This guy probably was surprosed that someone already took the name "Armageddon," but he'll be damned if he lets that person be the only guy with his totally original nickname! Or maybe he's propheizing that the Earth's Final Battle will fall on May 13th of a year yet to be determined.
  • TheDarkGaurdian - Maybe he's like me and favor's the Demoman class, who is in fact Black and excels at defending control points in the game.
  • abraham007 - In 1863, Gen. Robert E. Lee is preparing to unfurl his Confederate Machinations on the world, starting at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The Union's last hope rests in one lone agent with the cunning, training, and Veto Power to stop him. This summer, prepare to be... emancipated! Abraham 007 - From Gettysburg With Love. When he addresses an Army, YOU'D BETTER LISTEN!!
  • timburtonfan - Appropriatly, his icon was a cartoonish Grim Reaper.
  • burntbrowniez - Mmmm... Brownies, burnt or not, are always good!
  • hyphyxxl - I'm not sure what this is supposed to mean, but his icon was a Rubber Duck next to a Shark.
  • thewaterispoison - Oh, another warning handle! But what water is poison? The Tap Water? The stuff in the Old Well? The irrigation water used around here has all kinds of runoff from the cow pastures, so that stuff is pretty close to poison. Or maybe he's another sucker who fell for that whole dihydrogen monoxide hoax some years back.
  • NBK_GAYBUTTFUKRS - Somewhere, there's a twelve year-old boy laughing at his brilliance, thinking he's the most clever and edgey person ever to push an envelope. "I MADE A SWEAR IN MY NAME! I'M AWESOME!!"
  • UPD8_TF2_4ConsoL - A request from a player, dismayed that Valve Software is pushing all the new goodies on PC, while the Console versions languish in their inital release. I think 4 maps have been added, but still only a pale shadow of the goods the PC players get.
  • MissyMisdemeanor - Chances of this really being Missy Elliot? Only slightly better than NBK_GAYBUTTFUKRS not being a complete ass.
  • KodaChromed - SONG CUE! Give us the niiiiight's bright colors, give us the greeeeens of summer, Make us think all the world's a sunny day!...
And that about wraps it all up. By the way my handle on the PlayStation Network is Pittencream, an obscure reference used due to every single nickname, screen name and alias I've ever used in my life being somehow unavilable. Guess the reference (without a google search. Honor System enforced) and you win Mad Props (cash value of Mad Props is 1/100 of a cent, void where prohibbited).

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Three Lesser Nuggets of Happiness

1) Receiving a package from Woot.com. Today, it was three mini-Hibachi grills, semi-disposable, quasi-reusable, made to be portable. The three combined cost less than the five bucks shipping.

2) Opening my gas bill to find out that Questar is giving a rebate to customers due to lowered gas prices, thus bringing this month's bill to -$0.45. Hooray!

3) Mowing down my openents with HeavyWeaponsGuy in Team Fortress 2. Especially those obnoxious little Scout punks. Always trying to take my Sandvich...

Monday, May 18, 2009

In Which Fuzzy Endorses his Hobbies

As a displaced tabletop game enthusiast, I have a lot of difficulties finding other players out here in cowboy country. All of my peers have at least two children under the age of 5, or are too busy working nights and weekends on the family ranch (seriously). As a result, I have to resort to the Internet to find opponents. And this is where I plug GameTableOnline

Originally I discovered this site after Wizards of the Coast contracted the guys that ran GameTable to develop Java versions of some of their I.P. for use with Gleemax, which was to be a social networking site for gamers. 

Gamer... Social... Networking... Site. Ugh, I'm not sure if I can make that sound any more lame.

The games they built for WotC were Acquire (my favorite), Robo Rally, Vegas Showdown, Guillotine, and the most popular one to date: Axis and Allies. WotC decided that between everything else they were trying to focus (such as the 4th Edition of Dungeons and Dragons, which was getting ready to launch at the time), they decided to cut loose some projects, including the Gleemax site. Rather than let some pretty good electronic versions of their games dissapear, they allowed GameTable to post them on their own site.

They also have a few traditional board games such as Chess, Backgammon, etc, and other games from independent developers.

Right now, they are looking to change over to a subscription based business model so they can make their product sustainable. I think it's worth at least a couple bucks a month just for Acquire alone. Check it out.

And in the hopes of motivating some of my friends back home, I'll say these three words: Kill Dr. Lucky!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Nerd Education

I realize that a lot of the people in my department are sharper than me, more experienced then me, and (professionally speaking) just plain better than me. But that does not excuse the lack of knowlege of various Internet memes.

Today, I had to educate one of the supervisors on what exactly all your base was, and why it belong to us. Seriously, he drew blanks on this. "So... does the name Leeroy Jenkins ring a bell at all??" **He shakes his head**

Ugh. My fellow nerds need more nerd pop-culture in their lives.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Perils of Instant Gratification

After years of failed attempts by various companies to market electronic books, Amazon looks like to be the company that has finally gotten it right with their Kindle device. The first Kindle had the unique quality of not sucking to read from, which was the sticking point for all previous devices. the Kindle2 was thinner, could read .pdf files, and could download books, some newspapers, and Wikipedia articles wirelessly anywhere you could connect to the same Edge network that wireless phones do.

This latest one now has a bigger screen that makes reading the newspapers and wikipedia content easier. But now, some people are so upset that this was released so quickly after the latest iteration of the Kindle that they have written whiny articles that makes me want to search my closet to see if I can still find the World's Tiniest Violin and play them some suck-it-up music.
Here's a wonderful little quote:
An Amazon spokesperson, in response to my tirade, told me "Well now you have a choice." The key word being "now." But when I bought the product three months ago, I did not have a choice.
I counter that statement with one from Rush:


You didn't have to buy the thing in the first place, but could have waited. People that buy the latest model car in July don't complain when a newer better version comes out soon after. Just because this was the latest/greatest at the time, doesn't not put an obligation on the seller or manufacturer to never sell or create a comparable item that's better than yours, or ensure that you're item is the best for a guaranteed amount of time.

The whole thing reminds me of a similar complaint of another reputable company.

When the iPhone hit the street a few years back, all of the iFaithful were outraged by the announcement that the iPhone was going to drop in price by 33% less than 3 months after it was released. The iFaithful were shocked - shocked!! - that Steve Jobs wasn't their geeky buddy giving away his nifty toys, but was in fact an executive of a publicly traded corporation that has a desire to make a profit.

The complaint was that the price cut was too soon; they would have delayed their purchase if they knew it would drop by that much in that short of a time, Apple doesn't value it's most loyal worshipers customers, etc.

The way I see it is even if Apple had announced before it inital launch that the price would have been cut by $200 in 10 weeks, people still would have lined up outside of their stores to throw money at them. For being without iStuff is to be incomplete as a person. People were willing to pay $600 bucks for one of these things, and no functionality was added to the $400 phone, or subtracted from the phone they purchased. People who waited just got a better deal.

I personally believe that the early adopters, while vital, or at least very important to the adaptation of new technologies, think that they are getting something more than the latest and greatest gadget on the bleeding edge of science. They are buying a membership into the upper crust of their social circle. The people that have the iPhones can discuss iPhone apps, hacks, settings, troubleshooting, etc. and have all the nifty little applications that can make life in the urban jungle easier to navigate, or at least more fun.

But more importantly, they can look down upon those that don't have these things. I'm not saying that iFolk actively think that they count more as a person than someone that uses a Nokia or Sony phone, but I would bet that buried in the parts of their brain that deals with social justice, a thought pops up from time to time: "You're still using a RAZR? You poor wretch. Do you have a tin cup that I can drop some change into? Maybe you can get one of those discontinued 4GB iPhones from eBay or something."

It kinda feels good to be on the inside track, and I guess that the iFolk thought there was some sort of handshake agreement that if they paid the premium for the device, their iClique would be protected by that pricing scheme for at least six months. Then the price came down quicker than imagined, and their heads were filled with visions of the great unwashed with their Wal-Mart grooming and technolgical ineptitude buying up their defacto Badge of Honor now that they were more affordable.

The lesson is, if you don't need it right now, wait. and if you do buy it now, remember that the maker of your gadget is probably making improvements to it, and will want to get those improvements out as soon as possible in a bid to increase market share. This means your device will be obsolete rather quickly. Especially true for any technical device.

And for all of you that doubt the blind devotion of the iFolk to their company, let me share with you an Instant Messenger quote from my Brother-In-Law shortly after purchasing his iPhone on the launch date:

"Jesus has come back, except he's a phone now!"

Yeah...