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


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


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.