Archive for August, 2006

#713

3:26 am, Saturday, August 26th, 2006

I’m writing this post for the second time because I accidentally hit the reset switch with my foot while idly contemplating what to add to the end of the previous draft. Usually, I hit the “save and continue editing” button every few paragraphs to avoid such catastrophes. But, obviously, I forwent that precaution tonight. So here’s a crude recreation of my now-lost-forever entry:

Beefy showed up here last night. He’s staying the weekend to attend PAX, get interviewed for some nerdcore documentaries, and perform live at a Kirkland bar. Jones and Paige were supposed to come up too, but I guess they couldn’t make it for some reason. Anyway, Beefy and I played Carcassonne last night, then again today over at Game-A-Lot with Anthony. We had to leave that second game while it was in progress to catch the 9:25 showing of Little Miss Sunshine (we came back and finished it after the movie — Beefy won).

Beefy in Federal Way
Beefy in Fed Way.

Little Miss Sunshine was excellent. Funny, sad, sweet; made my eyes leak a few times. By Hollywood standards, it’s pretty unconventional. They avoided all the banal cliches you see in comedic adventure films. (“Comedic adventure” is a poor designation for this movie. It might be technically accurate, but something like this doesn’t deserve to be lumped in with National Lampoon’s Vacation.) I was slightly vexed that they left some subplots unresolved (i.e. Richard’s business problems, Frank’s career and rivalry with Dr. Sugarman, etc.), but I suppose the story would’ve lost a lot of impact if they’d taken time to focus on those parts. Anyway, great movie — I’d definitely put it in my top twenty, maybe my top ten.

I recently acquired (okay, downloaded) some new albums: OK Go’s first two and, embarrassingly, Paris. I loathe Paris Hilton, but damned if I can’t stop listening to this Stars Are Blind MP3.

Okay, gotta go to bed. Here’s an awesome high-res Naboo landscape I snatched from 4chan/hr. BTW, I’ll be on Beefy’s podcast this Sunday.

Naboo Landscape (digital matte painting)
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#712

12:56 am, Tuesday, August 22nd, 2006

Brett gave me an incredibly keen birthday present after he got off work this morning: Two bottles of propane for my grill (it goes through them pretty fast), Maddox’s Alphabet of Manliness, and an ice cream maker! I can’t wait to try it out tomorrow (the unit’s core has to freeze for 24 hours prior to use). I think I’ll try making some butter pecan first, then maybe coconut after that. Maddox’s book is pretty good; I’m like three-eighths through it already. The illustrations are especially badass.

D&D was eventful tonight, though things seemed to go kind of slowly (mainly due to some pointless/time-consuming PC actions). Highlights: I leveled (woot), we met a 20 million+ year old guy (Severance, an unbelievably proficient warrior), found a magic-sapping island, finally got inside Boccob’s tomb, and killed a really difficult fire elemental. There was some major storyline advancement that filled in a lot of gaps in the whole sleeper/immortal mystery. I’d explain, but it’s pretty involved and I don’t like doing the huge multi-page posts. Besides, how many people actually read this stuff, anyway?

I just saw on Digg that Stargate SG-1 has been canceled by SciFi. OMGWTF! Argh. Here’s hoping some other network picks it up…

ScrapeTorrent makes finding media and software easier. Now there’s no need to search multiple sites for the best seed/leech ratio.

And, finally, something amusing from WAKAchan.

Seinfeld Star Wars poster
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#711

2:32 am, Monday, August 21st, 2006

Girl Hitler lives! Tonight’s Venture Bros. was awesome. Who knew Underland bordered Michigan? Underbheit must have annexed part of Wisconsin.

Caught the Amazing Screw-On Head pilot on SciFi — I was very impressed. David Hyde Pierce is the perfect voice for Emperor Zombie. I’m surprised at how Hellboy-like they kept the animation; you’d think, especially with a pilot, that the style would have suffered in the transition, but it looks exactly like the comics. I really hope this show gets developed into a series. It’d be nice for SciFi to have an animated show they could be proud of (seeing as how Tripping the Rift is utter garbage).

I got some cool birthday presents from my family this past week. My mom and dad shipped me a really cool backlit keyboard with a flip-up LCD readout and a computer game and my sister sent me season one of The Boondocks. I was pretty pleased — that’s some ultra-swell swag right there.

I visited my mom in Enumclaw last night (she was there this weekend for a dog show at the King County fairgrounds). When I got home, I made meatloaf. Made my own breadcrumbs, even. It came out well. I love next-day meatloaf sandwiches. BTW, I think I’ve come up with the perfect glaze this time — it goes something like this:

0.75 cups ketchup
1 tbs Longhorn Barbecue Sauce
1 tbs maple syrup
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp Frank’s Red Hot
0.5 tsp oyster sauce
a couple shakes of garlic powder

For a meatloaf using 2 lbs. of hamburger, cook at 350° for 20 minutes, apply glaze, then cook another 20 minutes.

Oh yeah, and last Wednesday I made my chicken-broccoli-cream of mushroom casserole again. This time, I used bowtie pasta and a toasted breadcrumb topping. It received a favorable review.

On Friday, Brett and I drove over to Tacoma to get some Krispy Kreme doughnuts. I’d never had a Krispy Kreme before — it was great. Maybe the best I’ve ever had. We got two dozen.

(Almost) 2 dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts

Here are some models I’ve been playing around with in SketchUp. They’re kind of like forts… impractical for anything beyond reading comic books and having sleepovers in.

SketchUp - Hill Fort     SketchUp - Dune Fort

#710

3:28 am, Friday, August 18th, 2006

I forgot to mention in my last post that I saw The Descent Sunday night. I was 50/50 about going when I first saw the trailers, but the plethora of enthusiastic reviews I kept coming across tipped the scale. I ended up liking it okay… At least it was better than The Cave. Much gorier than I had expected. Still, I don’t think it deserved some of the more exuberant adulations I’ve read, like this one from The Stranger:

Hyperbole be danged: This is the best, purest horror film in years.

The next movie I want to see is Little Miss Sunshine, though I’ll have to drive over to Tacoma for that one.

I read Y: The Last Man vol. 7 last night. Great stuff… really made me miss my old monthly dose of comics. Out of loyalty to Dan (at Infinite Frontiers), I never found a new vendor after I moved across the Cascades. So I’ve only been getting my fix every three months or so when I travel back to the Tri-Cities. His shop only being open 6 hrs. a day, 4 days a week doesn’t make things any easier. I think the next time I get over there I’ll clean out my box and cancel my standing issue requisitions so I can start buying locally guilt-free.

Monday’s D&D game was pretty eventful. We continued exploring the “Laser Dome” dungeon (named thusly because it contains a 1300-yard long shaft filled with magical light-amplifying and -focusing lenses that produce a beam that used to be directable via a system of mirrors and prisms). Down one corridor, we found a sort of concert hall filled with instruments and automatons that came alive when Anthony’s thief began humming Ride of the Valkyries. We were, of course, eventually attacked. I nearly bought the farm when I was hit by some sort of missile spell from the organ player — took 36 damage in one round (and I only have 47 HP in total).

Anyway, we managed to defeat them. We searched the concert hall for additional wealth and secret passages; some fiddling with the pipe organ caused stone slabs to flip around, revealing pillars topped by giant skulls and a beholder with a small treasure hoard. The beholder wasn’t as tough as I thought it would be (meaning: it didn’t kill half the party), but it did petrify my archer and the sorceress before we killed it.

After that battle, everyone decided to fly back to town to de-stone us, pay rent on our airship, and liquidate the loot. Of course, we couldn’t stay long since two members of our party (Chris’ fateweaver and Keith’s duskblade) were stuck at the bottom of the 1300-yard shaft with no way out. We returned (about 30,000 gps richer) and searched the only passage (aside from the shaft) left unexplored. Here, we found a small library and a fountain containing a cryptic (and thoroughly unhelpful) water elemental. Various sorts of probing determined the elemental was millions of years old (at least) and that the books were extremely old records covering huge stretches of time.

We then descended the shaft (a rope of climbing we’d picked up made the trip easier and later escape possible). We found some very long corridors between this access point and the lens shaft and, beyond that, two rooms containing racks of weapons and armor (magically trapped) and devices basically equivalent to vending machines with a never-ending supply of consumables. Each room had a solid steel door which could apparently only be opened by the right combination of a set of thirteen levers (with incorrect combinations being, apparently, quite dangerous). Our thief managed to unlock one door (after a mistake that triggered a sort of reversed-gravity effect), and we found more records, a small-scale stone replica of the dungeon’s exterior, and an intelligent book (which we were able to communicate with mentally by touching the cover). That’s pretty much where the game ended. Out of game, there were also a couple brief altercations between our GM and some teenage thugs, but the whole affair was terribly plebeian and I’d rather not get into it.

The XP was very substantial this time — 4,516 points for the whole night. I’m now fewer than 2,000 points from level eight (or rather, Ranger 6/Duskblade 1/Arcane Archer 1). And I’ve saved up 40% of what I need to purchase Greater Bracers of Archery.

Last night I attended the third session of the Seattle GURPS game with Martin (no session last week due to crowded schedules). It was really great; we got sent to an unexplored Quantum 6 world discovered through the interrogation of a captured Centrum agent. Our mission was to find and neutralize two other agents based only on a couple sketches. The place turned out to be, essentially, a 1906 echo with a divergence at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 (where the British navy was decimated, contrary to Homeline’s historic record). Here, the U.S. (or, what should have been the U.S.) was very balkanized and Germany and Japan were the major world powers (with Argentina and Sweden–a country with control over all of scandinavia–close behind). Long story short, we caught one of the Centrum agents with lies and a discrete injection of anesthetic but met serious resistance trying to take the other with stealth and force. Half our team got shot up by what might have been Nazi guards, but we escaped without casualties. Now we have five days till our first recall and the task of capturing this second agent seems nigh insurmountable.

This game was especially fun because it was the first time I was able to really use my character’s cinematic “Engineer!” skill.

Neat link of the day: All Things Web 2.0. It’s sort of a Wiki for Web 2.0 apps. I found some cool things with it, like wikiHow and LoudBlog.

I’ll conclude this post with some nifty wallpapers I’ve seen lately.

Castlevania Banana Monk Pirate Ship and Island

#709

3:07 am, Monday, August 14th, 2006

Woo, finally finished my elf ranger miniature (the Niriodel model from Reaper). Did two coats of spray-on finish and flocked the base just a little while ago. This mini was kind of a pain because it came with the left hand and bow as a separate peice that I had to super glue on. The LASIK makes it kind of hard to look at stuff really close up, so I think I might get one of those magnifying lights the next time I try painting one of these.

Elf miniature

After reviewing the Order of the Bow Initiate prestige class in great detail, I decided the Arcane Archer was a better deal in the long run. The catch with that one is that I have to be able to cast arcane spells before I can take it. So, having leveled last session, I decided to become a Ranger 6/Duskblade 1. This way, I fulfill the arcane spell req. and I get that oh-so-important +1 to my base attack bonus. Next level: Arcane Archer (and the sweet Enhance Arrow +1 ability).

All the apartment buildings in our complex are getting repainted. Fortunately, ours was first (so we didn’t have to live with plastic over the windows for as long as the guys across the alley). Anyway, instead of a semi-dark gray, the place is now a periwinkle blue. I’ll post some pictures after they paint the shutters and trim.

Venture Bros. was really good this week. Better than the last episode overall, though that one had some funnier lines (“What’s more important than your family, Richard?!” “…ssss–science?”). Colbert is so great as Prof. Impossible.

Stargate Atlantis, OTOH, has taken a nosedive. I’ve never been crazy about the replicator storylines (even on SG-1) and hauling them into Atlantis when there’s an abundance of better story opportunities just seems kind of cheap to me. How about checking in on the Genii again instead? And what happened to the gates-across-the-intergalactic-void project from last week?

#708

5:33 am, Sunday, August 13th, 2006

Okay, so I thought I’d begin this post with some really keen links I thought worthy of sharing with everyone: Ted’s Caving Page — this is an awesome (albeit kind of long) scary story I was telling Jones about last week. It kind of drags in places, but that gives it more of an authentic feeling, IMHO.

Secondly, there’s this sub-microscopic (nanoscopic? picoscopic?) picture of the tip of a tungsten needle. You can actually see the movement of individual atoms on the surface of the instrument!

And thirdly, I have this nifty article about the possible decline of general purpose CPUs. I think the idea of a thousand-cored poly-specialized processor would make for an interesting element in some science fiction story.

I started doing SETI@home again, mainly to test my new CPU (and marvel at each core processing a different work unit simultaneously). Here’re the BOINC stats for my new hardware, if anyone cares. Over 800 points of credit in less than a week — not too shabby. It’s a huge improvement over my old Athlon XP 2500+. Some pics from the installation:

The new motherboard and processor The new system fully assembled

Speaking of the upgrade, I decided to reformat my primary HD and reinstall everything. Also took the opportunity to make some changes to my ObjectDock and some other GUI elements — here’s a current screenshot:

My Desktop
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So earlier this evening I got a call from Phil. He’s over here visiting Sheree after spending some time vacationing with his grandfather in Alaska. He, Sheree, and Adam (Sheree’s S.O.) came over and we talked and laughed for a few hours. Turns out Adam’s something of a movie buff and everyone had interesting anecdotes to share, so it was pretty lively conversation. I made ‘em all sit for a photo for the blog — voila:

Phil, Sheree, and Adam (and Looker)
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Phil’s changed a lot from the last time I saw him (grew out his hair and added a beard). So has Sheree — she’s lost weight. This was my first time meeting Adam, but he seems pretty cool.

Here are some cuisine pics I’ve been saving for a while: Delicious Akasaka sushi (257 KB), my attempt at homemade potato chips (they were pretty good; 138 KB), my fish stick lunch from a couple days ago (154 KB), and some cake I made (chocolate with pink vanilla icing and sprinkles; 118 KB).

Might as well add these too, since I seem to be clearing out the “to-be-posted” image folder — on the left, a couple turns into a Risk game between Brett and I; on the right, a game of Carcassonne we played on Thursday.

Risk game with Brett Carcassonne game with Brett

Not much else to report. I saw a guy get tackled for shoplifting at Rite Aid tonight — he tried to walk out with three cases of beer after 2:00 AM and the pharmacist totally kicked his ass and held him on the floor till a cop showed up. The guy tried to play like he was the victim, but everyone just laughed at him. Brett had a lunch break at 2:30, so we went to Jack in the Box and yakked about the scuffle while we ate.