Here come the drums!

November 21, 2005

Mood: Industrious
Music: Wouldn’t It Be Good, Danny Hutton Hitters
Game: World of Warcraft, CoD2, EVE Online, Dungeons & Dragons Online beta (now over.)
Book: The Hacker Crackdown, Bruce Sterling, Starship Troopers, Robert Heinlein
Muffin: Cranberry-Sweet Plum.

Need to make this short.

– One week till move day.
– Mostly packed.
– My X360 shipped today. Have it tomorrow afternoon.
– D&DO isn’t going to be a huge winner. The hooks aren’t deep, and it’s impossible to play solo. More on this when I have time.
– Flying out Tuesday evening.
– Goodbye dinner on Friday at Hop Kee. (Beats turkey leftovers.)

Busy busy.


It’s kinda like one of those samurai movies…

November 16, 2005

Mood: Rolling….
Music: Crosstown Traffic, Jimi Hendrix
Game: World of Warcraft, CoD2, EVE Online, Dungeons & Dragons Online beta.
Book: The Hacker Crackdown, Bruce Sterling.
Muffin: Had a bagel instead.

You know those Japanese samurai films from the 70s, where the samurai is beset on all sides by guys who want to kill him, but he’s ducking and swinging, moving, sidestepping…it’s like a ballet? Yeah, that’s how life is right now.

Not that I’m surrounded on all sides by people who want to kill me (at least, not as far as I know….) It’s more like that there’s so much going on, I’m trying to keep it all moving.

I’ve finally picked a mover…it’s going to cost me a lot of money to move…about $4500 all in. But what can I do? I can’t really afford to buy a new TV…and if I take the TV, I have to take the TV stand. Because it’s impossible to find a piece of furniture that will support a 220 pound TV. Chelsea wants the sofa and coffee table…and frankly, they’re good pieces of furniture…no reason to get rid of them. And I need my dresser and desk. That, plus about 70 boxes, including books and such…that’s how much it costs to get it from NY to Seattle.

Next, I’ve spent the last few days packing…and this past weekend, Colin and Pauline were gracious enough to come to my storage facility and help me deal with all the crap that was in there. We salvaged about 10-12 boxes, and chucked the rest (about 20 more boxes and assorted gear)…and now that those boxes are in my apartment, I’m ripping through those, still throwing stuff out. I’m up to about 35 boxes packed…although I MAY repack some of them once I get a better idea of what’s going on with stuff. Colin and Pauline made it possible for me to even deal with all that stuff…huge help.

Also this week, I’ve decided once and for all what I’m taking and not taking…and created a list of furniture and stuff that I’m not taking to offer it to friends…and decided who’s getting what. I’m really happy to be giving stuff to friends who will use it and enjoy it. That’s been a really cool part of moving…to be able to share stuff with friends who will love it as much as I did.

I’ve also made a conscious decision to try to get a launch XBox 360. It just would mean a lot to me. It’s pricy, true…but I can’t see not having one…and I’ve been working out my plan of attack to get one. Looks like it’s turned out that pre-ordering one was a bad idea. Places who took pre-orders are calling people and saying they’re getting fewer units than they expected…so even if you pre-ordered, you might not be getting one. There’s a reason why I don’t pre-order shit like this…and that’s the reason. I got screwed on the Steel Battalion launch, so I learned then. As it turns out, Circuit City starts pre-orders on Friday, J&R isn’t taking online orders at all, and Target hasn’t taken any pre-orders at all. I can try to get my unit from Circuit City, if I fail, I can deal with J&R on Tuesday morning, if that fails, I can race home to Target, and see if I can scoop one there. If that fails…I’ll just wait.

And lastly, Friday is Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Going with all the friends…and even seeing Steve and Tamer…which will be fabulous.

Now, I need to get some work done…after I buy a one-way plane ticket to Seattle.

BOOM Goes The Dynamite!

November 10, 2005

Mood: A really sore throat. Call me sick.
Music: This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The Two Of Us, Siouxsie and the Banshees
Game: World of Warcraft, CoD2, EVE Online
Book: The Hacker Crackdown, Bruce Sterling.
Muffin: Blueberry-Cranberry…yum.

The news for the last few weeks is really starting to get to me.

France is rioting. Not just a few kids running wild…they’re set to enforce curfews, deport violators. They’ve destroyed thousands of vehicles and millions in property…and it’s all over Paris and Lyon, with sympathetic riots (how’s THAT for an ironic twist of English) all over the rest of the country. It is largely Muslims rioting over the “accidental deaths” of two teenaged boys.

Apparently “The unrest broke out following the October 27 deaths of two young men of North African descent, who were electrocuted when they hid from police in an electricity sub-station in the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois.” I have no idea what they were doing to be hiding from the police, exactly…because talk like that in NYC in the 80s when the victims were grafitti artists really meant “The police were doing a Rodney King on them out of sight of the cameras.”

I DO know that all the Arab-sympathetic talk that France was doing prior to the US invasion of Iraq doesn’t seem to be helping them with public relations. Although, on the FOURTEENTH day of rioting, only 482 vehicles were destroyed, as opposed to 617 the night before. So I suppose things are getting better. Then again, if all you had to drive were freakin’ Peugeots, you’d probably want to burn all those little fuckers, too.

It appears that all the preaching and posturing that France does in regards to Arabs is just that. “France has no affirmative action; an official French study found that youths with Arab-sounding names have their job applications rejected up to five times as often as those with traditional French names.” and “[Prime Minister] De Villepin said the rioting was the result of France’s failure to provide hope to thousands of youths, most French citizens and the children of Muslim immigrants from northern Africa.” Lovely. So he acknowledges that France basically has institutionalized discrimination against Arabs. You think this is going to have some effect on world opinion when France comes to the defense of Iraq next time? Yeah, thought so.

Also in the news recently, there have been accusations that the US used white phosphorous on enemy positions and troops in Fallujah. “Willie Pete” was a big fan favorite of the US in Vietnam. Basically, it burns at 5000 degrees fahrenheit…liquifies flesh and bone, melts steel in a split second…oh, and it vaporizes, so that if inhaled, it’ll burn a person apart from the inside out. Charming.

If you look around, you can find supposed photos of victims of these events. I’m not certain I believe the photos and such…after all, if these corpses were burnt at 5000 degrees, what would be left to photograph? Couple that with the fact that all these photos seem to be showing up on “Occupied Iraq” sites, it’s hard to believe there’s a lack of bias. But I will say this: I believe that the military was in a difficult “Vietnam-like” situation in Fallujah…and used a Vietnam-like solution. I don’t doubt whether or not the military used WP…I simply doubt the veracity of the evidence.

Lastly, today, Qaeda “operatives”, “terrorists”, or “marytrs” (depending on your news source) managed to blow up a mess of hotels in Jordan. Now, me? I’m thinking that it’d be as simple as quoting Malcolm X when he made his infamous Chickens Come Home to Roost speech.

Isn’t it funny how all these Arabic nations who were quietly glad that there were a bunch of radical fundamentalists out there to make their countries look practically humane and liberal in their persecution of their own populaces, all of a sudden, they’re shocked that Muslims are bombing and killing their own people in their own countries? Reap what you sow, baby. Make kids and teenagers believe that it’s glamorous and honorable to kill yourself for something you believe in…and all of a sudden, you’ve got a revolution when they don’t agree with your politics. Instead of teaching them nonviolent dissent, you taught them that real change comes from the barrel of a gun…or from killing yourself and taking a mess of people with you.

Congratulations. They learned real, real well. I’m sure Mao and Arafat are thrilled.

Common thread? Fundamentalist Muslims are pretty pissed off at the rest of the world…and they’re not afraid to kill every last one of themselves to prove it.

But you’ll forgive me for a moment…what do these people WANT? I hear lots of vehement anti-American speech…hell, I’ve been known to be vehemently anti-American myself sometimes. But simply saying “We will not rest until America is destroyed” isn’t exactly asking for something.

You want us to leave you alone? I get that. You want us to stop sending our movies, music, and culture over there? Hell, I definitely understand THAT. You want to kill every last man, woman, and child in the US? I’m afraid I’m going to have to stop you right there. Sorry…it’s my whole breathing addiction. I’m really fond of it. Maybe if I understood what the whole picture was…I mean, aren’t people simply reacting to the means at this point? These people are trying to accomplish something, right? I just can’t figure out what that is.

Probably makes me a typical American.

And of course, there’s just plain torture as torture, too.

November 9, 2005

Mood: Tired and I have a sore throat. So mildly annoyed.
Music: The continual sound of rebooting mail servers.
Game: World of Warcraft, CoD2, EVE Online
Book: The Hacker Crackdown, Bruce Sterling.
Muffin: None. Wish I had one, though.

Last night, while my new IT guy (and friend) here at work was attempting to configure the UPS, the UPS unceremoniously decided to shut itself down, taking down all the servers at the same time, equally unceremoniously, by the simple expedient of taking all power away from them.

Curiously, most computers don’t LIKE it when you just say “NO POWER FOR YOU!” and sometimes get headaches from such occurrences. The fileserver (thank god) came back with not even a “What’d you do that for?” That new server, of which I’ve already sung praises, is built bulletproof. The webserver was a bit more recalcitrant, requiring coaxing to actually start UP the webserver processes, but they came up in minutes. The mailserver…ah, the mailserver.

Mailservers are finicky beasts, as well they should be. Even a company the size of the one I work at, which is 50 people, gets a TON of mail a day, incoming and outgoing. The mail comes at all times of the day and night, and the fearless mailserver is constantly routing, sorting, blocking, accepting, rejecting, filtering all this fabulous mail (and spam, which likely takes up a good half to 3/4 of all mail….) Anyway, when the mailserver came back up, the directory journals were corrupted. Not good.

The LDAP server is quirked…won’t allow connections to it. Hardware is fine, because we can see the box. Everything SEEMS to be running the way it’s supposed to. But obviously, since our LDAP server won’t allow logins, and our mailserver is BASED on LDAP logins, things aren’t quite so peachy.

I left the machine running overnight to do a consistency scan…and the drives themselves are fine. Good thing, in a way…insofar as the hardware seems to be good…which isn’t always the case. But it looks like we have corrupt files…and that means rebuilding the LDAP server. I HOPE the data is fine. Re-entering all the data for every employee would kinda suck.

In any case, I’m here at 7am, trying to get this thing working before folks really start working at 9am, and I get constant questions, usually intelligent, like “Is there something wrong with email?”

Back to the server room. Updates later, maybe.

Gaming as Torture

November 8, 2005

Mood: Sleepy.
Music: The Mercy Seat, Nick Cave.
Game: World of Warcraft, CoD2, EVE Online
Book: The Hacker Crackdown, Bruce Sterling.
Muffin: None.

OK…yesterday was what I’d call a bad gaming day.

Now, let me caveat this by saying that even a bad day of gaming is better than a great day at work…just to put it all in perspective…and it’s not as if I played games all day. I did spend the better part of my day at work, the old 9-6 thing…but I had been looking forward to get all up in some gaming goodness last night, and so I did.

My gaming day started about 7:30pm and I hopped on EVE. EVE Online is basically a very beautiful space commerce simulator, with all the implications of that: Mining, Manufacturing, Corporations, Taxes, and of course, Illegal commerce and Pirates. It’s definitely not for a beginning gamer. The learning curve isn’t so much steep as perpendicular to the ground. You aren’t about to jump in and start killing things and making loads of cash the way you do in World of Warcraft. In short, if you aren’t willing to put in the time to learn the basics, the game will make you pay for it. Forget the subtleties involved in all of it…I’m talking just being able to get your ship from place to place.

Anyway, I got online, met up with Andy and Jeho, and got into my destroyer…the one I’d just purchased to replace the one that managed to get destroyed when I wasn’t paying attention. (I’m not sure what possessed me to go fix lunch while I was mining ore, but I did, and came back to a happy little egg floating where my ship used to be. So consider that a million credit lesson. Which just about wiped out whatever little profit I’d been able to scrape up over the last week or so.

So I got into my destroyer, and escorted Andy in his Industrial Barge thing to our new home…a particularly nasty, dangerous zone chock full of pirates and tasty ore. I didn’t have much time, as I was supposed to be meeting up with the gang of five to run Scholomance. So Andy and I decided to kit out with weaponry and go out and sample the local pirate populace. We hop into an asteroid belt, he engages, having the better ship and weaponry. The five pirates there basically pounce on Andy, forcing him to withdraw…but one pirate was badly wounded, and I was already engaged. So I switched power to my shields, and kept blasting…my shields weakening, I figured I actually had a few seconds…and the wounded pirate was far worse off than I was. And then my shields gave way…my armor taking a beating, but it was holding….barely.

Then, from nowhere, two missiles come from the pirates, blasting my armor to metal vapor, and exposing the hull in a bad way. I set up the warp to get out of there as Andy had just seconds before, but a second before I was able to engage (freakin’ SLOW warp engine I have…) another missile rapped my hull, and I’m staring at a small floating egg again. Ship’s freakiin a DAY old, and I’ve already vaporized it. Damn.

Andy’s asking how bad the damage was, and I’m just too stunned/pissed to say anything…looking at my game mail from my insurance company notifying me on how sorry they are to hear of the destruction to my ship.

He said “How badly are you damaged?” I reply “All the way…like gone.” We laugh.

I’ve managed to lose two destroyers in as many days. These are not cheap ships…and we ARE trying to save up to start a corp, and get Andy and myself and the rest of the guys decent ships and armament, and really get me started manufacturing.

I’ve already purchased the chassis I need for my THIRD fricken destroyer…fortunately, the insurance covered the cost of THAT, but cargo holds? Weaponry? Shields? Nope. But that’s really OK, you see, because I’ve learned my lesson this time. I am leaving the fighting to Andy, who is far, far more suited to such things, and I will stick to manufacturing and mining…the things I really enjoy doing. And hopefully, I won’t lose any more ships due to my inability to properly judge combat conditions.

So…having purchased the chassis, I left EVE to go play World of Warcraft.

Now, Thorn has been trying for MONTHS to complete this Shaman quest. It gets him a pretty tasty piece of headgear…even if it makes him look like Batman. So we’re running Scholomance 5-man. If you’re a WoW geek, you know that Scholomance, while easier than it was about 6 months ago, isn’t exactly a cakewalk. It’s pretty unforgiving. Screw up, and you’re pushing up the daisies. But this particular quest/event is a cast-iron, no kidding, no nonsense, zero fault tolerance bitch.

We flew through the opening, crushed opposition, moved pretty well, although we had a bizarre wipe when Jeho’s pet decided to attack something through a floor, and killed us all. After recovering from that, we made pretty short work of Rattlegore and his merry band of really tough skeletons with huge sweeping blades on their arms. Then came time for the event.

Due to space constraints, Jeho was somewhat limited in his ability to do damage. It wasn’t his fault…the tactics we employed required us to stay tight against a wall, and not move too much…which, as a hunter, is pretty much telling you stand there and get beaten on. In any case, we got through several waves of floating glowing thingies…but in the end, they simply overwhelmed us, and we got crushed. We went back in to see if we could get something else accomplished, but the respawns started happening. So I suggested we do it again. Jeho couldn’t stay, so he took off, and Doc joined us.

Again, we did the SAME EXACT content again (almost humorously getting the same exact drops…), and fought our way down through Rattlegore, things going pretty well…although it was getting way late, and we were rushing a bit due to impatience with the content.

We fly past the part at which we wiped last time. We get to a pull where both Thorn and I die…both our rezzers. You can’t run back, as the gates lock once the event starts, and so Thorn trips his reincarnate (him being a shaman), and raises me. A wander gets too close to us as we’re mana and healing up, and even before I can throw a shield or something, I’m dead. Primary healer dead, jumped by critters, the party puts up a good fight, but ends up wiping. Thorn, having lost his reincarnate, pretty much ends the event.

So I suggest we go back in, maybe kill another boss, walk out of the night with a nice piece of loot for someone. Folks agree, we head back in, the instance is quirked…I can’t drink or eat…says I’m in combat. Well, I know what combat is, and I’m not in it. Don’t give it much thought, we head down to where we were, just ahead of the respawns. We see a Crypt Keeper, we kill it, and just as it falls, the monsters who wiped the party, including the boss Thorn needs for his quest, show up and start pounding on us, killing us in seconds. We were completely flatfooted…and shocked. We could kill him still, maybe pull victory from this thing.

We run back from the graveyard, same problem with drinking, now we know why…the boss still has us on his aggro list! The entry starts spawning, we start killing with serious speed. We’re fighting against the respawn…trying to get in front of the wave. We break through the spawn wall, get to where we were, boss is nowhere to be seen. We start killing other things, and sure enough, the boss charges in, and kills us all again.

We run back, but the entrance has repopped. We kill something, the boss charges through the room ahead, and brings EVERYTHING that’s repopped ahead of us. There had to have been 30 things there…more. We run, just about everyone except me dies…Thorn dying to get a picture of the madness.

Since it was about 2am at that point, we called it.

So, on the night, more death than I care to admit, no loot to speak of, and we failed in our attempt this time.

We’ll get ’em another night, no doubt.

But last night? Eesh.

There’s always tonight, right?

OK…225…this time for real.

November 3, 2005

Mood: Ready to go. Like go home.
Music: None.
Game: World of Warcraft, Puzzle Pirates, CoD2, EVE Online
Book: None.
Muffin: None.

I literally started writing entries three times till this one.

On Tuesday, I didn’t really have much to say…but I was gonna SAY that I didn’t have much to say.

On Wednesday, I was going to blog about how ridiculous it is that my mother still has no power down in Florida. Not political power, mind you…but you know…the stuff you get when you stick a plug into a socket no power. She hasn’t had power in her apartment since the hurricane that hit about two weeks ago. No, that’s not an exaggeration. At least they’re telling her that she’ll definitely have power “sometime before Thanksgiving.” Isn’t that special? Can you believe that shit? Not having power for almost a month? Rationed food? Lack of clean water? We living in SE Asia? What the fuck? You can only imagine how much my mom, who didn’t really want to go to Florida in the first place, is freaking out.

Today, I was kinda just going to point out that my last day of work here will be the Friday after Thanksgiving…then I join the ranks of the unemployed, and I’m off to Seattle the following Monday or so. I really should start getting packed…but more importantly, I need to clear out all the crap I have in storage. I’m sure most of it will get chucked out…but I have to deal with that.

I also have to deal with some other nonsense paperwork like old taxes and such…get my laundry done…

All this is terribly boring, I’m sure…it’s just that I have so much to do…and now I have a finite deadline staring me in the face. But I will definitely get it all done…because it has to be done. See how easy that is?

But all I really want to do is go home and play a game, then go to sleep. But instead, I’m going to head out for vegetarian Indian food, then go home, see if I can dig up tax info for my accountant, then read a bit and go to bed.

Sorry if I haven’t entertained today, or even this week…but I will try to be more explicit about the move in upcoming entries…because I really want to keep a “diary” of how the move is going and so on. It might EVEN be interesting.

Anyway, because work has been kinda busy, I actually haven’t been writing much of anything at all. But I suppose I really should end my work here on a nice productive surge. Can’t hurt, right?