Archive for December, 2006

#743

12:02 pm, Monday, December 25th, 2006

The presents are all unwrapped and I’m full of waffles.

Will post more later. Merry Christmas!

#742

10:27 am, Saturday, December 16th, 2006

Auuugh… I just lost two long paragraphs of blog entry by accidentally closing my browser. I’ll try to reconstruct those previous ramblings here:

We’ve had some really bad windstorms here lately. Half the counties in Washington state are in a “state of emergency,” including King, where we live. Yesterday we lost power for about 16 hours (starting at 12:30 AM). We were lucky to get it back so soon — most people north of 312th St. (here in Federal Way) still don’t have electricity.

Despite the mayhem, some of us managed to get together at Game-A-Lot for a booster draft. Charlie, Ashlee, Peter, Thomas, and I drafted from two packs of Guildpact and one pack of Ravnica. We ran into some problems in the later rounds of the tournament concerning the chosen event type — though we’d started the tournament using a simple bracket system, some wanted to switch to a point-based structure (or, to put it in DCI terms, single elimination and Swiss rounds). Both are valid competition structures, but apparently the group hadn’t achieved complete clarity about the format before the games started. In the end we stuck with single elimination.

Placement was as follows: Thomas (1st), me, Charlie, Peter, Ashlee (5th). Since I bought Ashlee’s boosters, I got to make the 2nd and 5th picks in the rares redraft at the end. Niv Mizzet, the most coveted card there, which was snatched up immediately. My notable acquisitions were Angel of Despair, Djinn Illuminatus, and Copy Enchantment. I had my eyes on a foil Mindleech Mass, but Charlie snagged it in the first round after I took the angel.

There was a great new The Office episode Thursday night. They did this hour-long Christmas special thing; lots of new plot developments. Jim revealed that his new girlfriend from the Stanford branch is just a “temporary distraction” from Pam, Michael was dumped by Carol, and Oscar reappeared for a hilariously brief cameo. This is definitely my favorite show on television right now.

CG Sphere objects

#741

7:50 am, Thursday, December 14th, 2006

We had another booster draft on Saturday night, this time with me, Charlie, Nolan, Jeremy, and JC. We used Time Spiral packs and redrafted rares at the end (I got Pentarch Paladin, Ib Halfheart, and Stronghold Overseer). IIRC, Jeremy won, Charlie came in second, and I came in third. My deck was red/white with a neat little combo — it threw out tons of 1/1 goblins (via Empty the Warrens and Mogg War Marshal), which I attacked with every turn. Opponents were reluctant to stop them because Ib Halfheart turned the blocked ones into suicide bombers. An Ætherflame Wall enchanted with Fire Whip kept most threats at bay, and killed the smaller annoyances (like Jeremy’s Looter il-Kors).

After the draft, I came home and grilled some tri-tip steaks. They came out really well. Served ‘em with cheddar/bacon mashed potatoes and cottage cheese. Behold:

Steak, mashed potatoes, cottage cheese

And last night I made some chicken casserole — chopped breast meat, bowtie pasta, broccoli, and cream of chicken soup, topped with parmesan and shredded smoked cheddar. It was okay, but I really need to find a better “glue” for my casseroles. The cream-of soups are the right consistency, but they taste canned and are usually too salty. I think the next time I make a dish like this I’ll make my own sauce, like an alfredo, veloute, or something.

Nifty link of the day: America Before Pearl Harbor — A collection of color photos taken between 1937 and 1941. Neat stuff. Makes the era a lot more relatable.

#740

8:44 pm, Saturday, December 9th, 2006

I had to pick my parents up from the airport last Monday. While waiting for them (in short term parking), I watched this incredibly rude woman park her car in the middle of the crosswalk on the terminal loop. Actually, just waiting in the terminal loop at all is prohibited, but the current terror alert hadn’t warranted a police officer to keep the area clear so a number of unprincipled drivers had parked near the baggage claim. Anyway, she sat there for nearly half an hour — idly watching dozens of people walk all the way around her big SUV. Old people, mothers with toddlers, people carrying heavy luggage, she didn’t care. If you live in the Tri-Cities, watch out for an ill-mannered bitch in a dark green SUV, Washington license plate 533-RDL.

I finished listening to World War Z. The last half was much better than the first; I was pleasantly surprised to find one of the later characters voiced by Alan Alda. The most interesting part of the book for me was the section on “quislings” — humans who’d suffered some kind of psychosis (triggered by intense fear) that made them act like zombies. Brooks explains that they were the reason for misleading reports about zombies attacking other zombies or cases where people believed they’d found some kind of bite immunity.

I’m going to visit New York in February. My mom has a dog in the Westminster Kennel Club dog show so we’re going to attend that, but it should only take most of one day from the sounds of things. We’re also going to see a few shows I’m pretty excited about: Wicked, Spamalot, and Evil Dead: The Musical.

We had a non-sanctioned booster draft at Game-A-Lot last night. Sean, whom I met a couple weeks ago, organized it. There were only four of us, but it was a lot of fun. We used Time Spiral and, at the end, redrafted the rares, timeshifted cards, and foils. Also split up the uncommons and commons randomly. I thought redrafting rares would suck, but it actually makes draft picks much easier and makes it pretty likely you’ll get at least a few of the ones you were hoping for (moreso than in normal drafting due to the larger pool). There were only four of us and we placed in the following order: Thomas (1st), Sean, me, Peter. Even though I picked third on the rares redraft, I got the two cards I wanted most: Stuffy Doll and Shadowmage Infiltrator. If I recall correctly, Sean played blue/black/red, Thomas white/green, and Peter black/green. I played white/blue/black (relying heavily on the Infiltrator and Merieke Ri Berit).

Here’re some pictures. Clockwise, from the upper left: The dinner I made last night — pork sirloin with angel hair pasta, corn, and applesauce; Peter playing Magic; Jeff playing MTG against Peter (Dave and Summer are playing the World of Warcraft CCG in the background); Sean, Thomas, and Peter making draft picks; Thomas and Nolan.

Pork sirloin with pasta and corn
Peter playing MTG Peter and Jeff playing MTG, Summer and Dave in background
Sean, Peter, and Thomas drafting
Nolan and Peter

#739

7:50 pm, Monday, December 4th, 2006

I underestimated the terrific crapfulness of Tri-City theaters. They didn’t have a single one of the movies I wanted to see.

Listened to a new audiobook on the way down here: World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War. It’s by the same guy who wrote The Zombie Survival Guide. I’ve really enjoyed it so far with only two minor complaints: Some of the voice actors overdo it with the foreign accents (making them hard to understand or just irritating to listen to; the Chinese doctor in Part I was particularly bad) and the international politics stuff occasionally gets a little boring. Other than that, it’s been great.

It’s really cold here. Mid to low twenties. I wouldn’t mind much except it makes it really hard to water the animals. I keep having to haul the buckets inside, thaw them in the sink till the ice falls out, then refill and haul ‘em back outside. It’ll be nice to get back to Federal Way and its balmy mid-forties temps.

I noticed the northbridge chipset fans on Gigabyte motherboards seem to go bad a lot… I had to replace one today but I didn’t have any spare 40 mm fans, so I cannibalized one from another unused Gigabyte mobo and it would barely turn. Wasn’t used much, either. The third one worked, but the mobo I took it from was nearly new.

Well, gotta go feed the dogs. I’ll be driving back home tomorrow, after a morning doctor’s appointment. If the pass stays nice, I should be able to make the Tuesday night GURPS game in Seattle.