Archive for August, 2007


6:26 pm, Thursday, August 16th, 2007

I’ve been meaning to blog, but my back’s been so bad I couldn’t endure sitting at my computer for any significant length of time. Last week I injured something picking up a not-that-heavy box, then proceeded to do some very stupid, very lumbar-hostile things the next day that exacerbated the problem. So I’ve been taking Aleve, applying ice packs, and trying to stay horizontal. And, despite my skepticism, I’ve even been trying to get an appointment with a local chiropractor (unfortunately, he’s pretty booked up and there’s been a delay in scheduling because of some snafu in obtaining my records from the only other time I ever visited one of these guys back in Pasco). But, blah, whatever — I’m sick of the whole mess and just wish it’d stop hurting.

So, anyway, to catch up a little:

Here’re some pics from when I was last in the Tri-Cities. Left to right: Jones looking slightly demented whilst gaming at Adventures Underground, a Carcassonne board from the same session, and a photo I took of the Blue Bridge (wasn’t sure how it’d come out with the sun in the shot, but I think it looks kinda cool).

Carcassone at Adventures Underground    Jones looking demented    Blue bridge (looking into the sun)

…And some stuff I cooked. On the left, a sort of Chinese-y pork pseudo-stirfry that employed an orange juice reduction and sour cream. (Served it over white rice; Brett said it was the best thing I’d made in a long time.) On the right, petite sirloin steak, baked potato, and broccoli orzo. Can you believe we got 2.7 lbs. of these steaks for under $10? Unusually fresh and well-marbled for the price. (We saved a third of ‘em for fancy fajitas.) I’m told I eat too much red meat, but these are far too delicious for me to care.

Chinese-y pork dish    Steak w/ potato and orzo

While grilling, we were visited by a raccoon. I didn’t even know we had them around here. Managed to snap a picture of it up by my sister’s front door. (It was too dark for the auto-focus to engage, but at least it’s recognizable.)

Raccoon visitor

Finished Accelerando. Decent overall, but I was irritated by the protagonists baseless fear of Economics 2.0 and “losing their humanity.” I don’t think Stross explained the core’s/Matrioshka brain‘s motivations and society very well. To me, it came off as “their intelligence is as superior to ours as ours is to a tapeworm’s, they practice unfathomable economics that force all outsiders into relative destitution (even though they only trade IP), and yet they somehow have less free will and can barely form simple sentences in English.” Also: Does anyone know why the Macx clan, et al. kept going back to ridiculously costly physical realities after uploading? If you can live in a virtual environment that perfectly imitates the real world, why waste matter and energy on gigantic O’Neill habitats and inefficient bodies? Anyway, it was a good read, but I still like Greg Egan’s Diaspora better — it deals with a lot of the same core ideas.


9:18 pm, Saturday, August 11th, 2007

So last night I met up with Jones. We did some multiplayer Puzzle Quest on the DSes, then headed over to Adventures Underground (the comic/game/book shop he works at part time). There I met Logan, Heather, and Amanda. The former two joined us in a game of Carcassonne (with the Inns and Cathedrals expansion). Heather won (narrowly beating me by five points), mostly thanks to her uncanny luck with cloister tiles.

Then we played a few games of Cowpoker (which I bought along with the Catan Card Game). Cowpoker is kind of a simpler version of Burn in Hell, but with much shorter turns, no “permission” mechanic, and a really nifty poker theme that forces you to consider multiple qualities and patterns whenever you play a card. I really like the way it makes you weigh potential poker hands against unrelated point values (e.g. “Is it worth giving my opponent a flush if I simultaneously increase my gang’s value by 6 points?”). IIRC, a “deadwood” player won one game, Heather another, and I won the last.

Then Logan, Heather, Jones, and I went to the 10:10 showing of Stardust at the Regal theater in Kennewick. Fifteen minutes in, I was pretty sure it’d be just another generic, B-movie-esque witches-’n'-swordplay fantasy contrivance. But it turned out very decent. I never really got myself to like the two main characters (a smug nobody with nice hair and Claire Danes, who strikes me as a poor man’s big-nosed Gwyneth Paltrow), but the rest of the cast was pretty good. The combination of LotR-ish sweeping shots and campy, nigh-slapstick humor was… odd. Still, it was entertaining. Not the best thing I’ve seen this summer, but not a waste of $8.50 either.

After the movie we went to Logan’s place in West Richland and watched his Cemetery Man VHS. Supremely bizarre, depressing movie — Logan’s right: It haunts you after the first viewing. Logan and I, incidentally, have really similar tastes in DVDs; there’s a lot of overlap between our collections. Offbeat, slightly obscure stuff like Amelie, Best in Show, the Are You Being Served? box set, Ghost World, The Royal Tenenbaums, etc. Anyway, great people, all of ‘em. It’s hard to find truly geeky folks like these that aren’t socially inept, weirdly emo, or otherwise awkward to hang out with.

Anyway, I’m here till tomorrow. Hurt my back lifting some stuff at the clinic. Got some pictures to share when I get back to my desktop.


11:18 pm, Thursday, August 9th, 2007

(I’m in the Tri-Cities for a few days.) I can’t remember if I mentioned this or not, but my parents got a new 19-foot open-bow speedboat while my cousin was here. Andi and them had been out in it several times, but I hadn’t. Anyway, my dad has Thursday afternoons off so we all lunched at the new Chinese buffet on Road 68, got me some swim trunks and a pink DS for my mom at Wal-Mart, and took the boat out. Very fun. I got to drive it a bit and did some innertubing. I love going under the big bridges that span the Columbia… there’s quite a variety too, all within a few miles of each other: Arch-truss, cable-stayed, box girder, vertical lift. Some pics:

Me driving the boat    Innertubing on the Columbia   Innertubing under the Blue Bridge

My mom took those with my dad’s Nikon D70 — works way better than my little Casio, especially for fast-motion stuff like this.

Not much else to report. I’d meant to meet up with Jones for his comic shop’s board game night thing, but by the time we’d come home from the river and grilled steaks it was already like 10:30 PM.

Been playing Puzzle Quest (DS) a lot lately. Awesome game. It’s vaguely like Dragon Quest-meets-Heroes of Might and Magic, but the battles are played out using a Bejeweled clone with extra abilities. You can do a lot of different things in it; capture monsters to use as mounts, learn enemies’ spells, lay siege to foreign cities and expand your kingdom, add various characters to your retinue (each one gives you a minor bonus of some kind), join different knightly orders, etc. ATM I’m playing a level 16 druid who’s a member of the Gildine Knighthood.

Alright, I’m beat. Gonna check my email, play some Puzzle Quest, read 100 Bullets and go to bed.


10:03 pm, Monday, August 6th, 2007

I want to stop blogging daily, but I can’t seem to help myself. I keep finding stuff I want to share or log… Yesterday’s post was something of a “victory lap,” but today’s is just compulsion.

This Pick Your Candidate page is pretty nifty. I ran my issue stances through it in under a minute and it spit out my most- and least-compatible candidates (rated by simple point-based arithmetic). For me, it was surprisingly accurate. Here’re my top four:

Paul 12
Gravel 7
Kucinich 6
Thompson 5

And my bottom four:

Huckabee -12
Brownback -7
Romney -6
Clinton -2

It’s obviously not very comprehensive, but it might give you some leads for research if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the plethora of options.

I finally got around to watching Music & Lyrics. Great movie! I wasn’t expecting much (romantic comedies aren’t usually my thing), just something watchable: Like, slightly better than What Women Want but not as good as When Harry Met Sally. I was very surprised. It actually had some interesting things to say about music, the pop genre, and being true to yourself despite public opinion (that sounds incredibly banal, but I can’t think of any other way to phrase it ATM). I love how self-aware the film is. It actually acknowledges the clichés and the irony of its storyline; it doesn’t talk down to the audience or manipulate them shamelessly. Great dialogue too.

Here’s an exchange I liked:

Alex: It doesn’t have to be perfect. Just spit it out. They’re just lyrics.
Sophie: “Just lyrics”?
Alex: Lyrics are important. They’re just not as important as melody.
Sophie: I really don’t think you get it.
Alex: Oh. You look angry. Click your pen.
Sophie: A melody is like seeing someone for the first time. The physical attraction. Sex.
Alex: I so get that.
Sophie: But then, as you get to know the person, that’s the lyrics. Their story. Who they are underneath. It’s the combination of the two that makes it magical.

That really made me meta-think about how I experience songs. I’ve always said I could care less about lyrics as long as they have an appropriate rhythm and the melody’s nice. But this gave me pause. I don’t know if it’ll change my opinion, but it’s worth consideration.

BTW, the soundtrack for this movie is awesome.


9:56 pm, Sunday, August 5th, 2007

Well, it’s finally over. IMBC ’07 lasted 126 days. Some statistics:

  • Length of competition: 4 months, 4 days (18 weeks)
  • Total number of posts made: 569
  • Number of those posts made by the Top 4 alone: 455 (80%)
  • Average posts per participant: 47.4
  • Median post total per participant: 24
  • Approximate number of words blogged by all participants over the course of the competition: 200,000
  • Longest period without a disqualification: 35 days (May 20th–June 24th)

Thanks to all the competitors and Tim in particular for helping organize and administrate the thing. BTW, if anyone’s interested in running it next year (and/or amending/rewriting the rules), let me know.

Okay, now that that’s done with, some non-IMBC stuff:

Last night’s Chinese takeout was superb. We got General Tso’s chicken, beef and broccoli, and almond chicken from New Garden over on Grand Ave. On the right, a really big beetle I found in the bathroom early this morning (caught it in a drinking glass).

Last night's Chinese takeout    Big beetle

While we were in Spokane Brett and I played Boggle on the DS. We went back and forth beating each other’s scores until he got a 51. That really threw things off — seemed like the best I could do was a 44. (I think the scoring in this version is a flat 1 point per word, with a three-letter minimum, three minute time limit.) It took me till today to knock it down a line on the high scores board: I got a 56. Boy, he’s gonna have a heck of a time topping that.

BTW, if you haven’t seen A Gentleman’s Duel yet, check it out. It’s a 7m:51s CG short by Blur Studio. Tea, European accents, steampunk battlemechs… What’s not to love? Man, I wish they’d make a feature length version of this.


10:14 pm, Saturday, August 4th, 2007

Back from Spokane. I got Andi (who arrived Friday afternoon) to watch Looker for me, so that worked out well.

Yesterday we met Brett’s parents at Cathay Inn, this great Chinese restaurant I’d been to once before about a year ago (I think). I had the lemon chicken and prawns special. Very tasty. Then we drove to their place in the valley and played Sequence over Mike’s Hard Lemonade and snickerdoodles. I’d never played the game before, though I sold many copies of it when I worked at Uncle’s. It’s a lot of fun. The only thing I dislike about it is that there’s not much of a pattern to the board, so when you’re looking for the companion to a particular space you often spend a lot of time searching. Maybe after you’ve played it a while you get used to the layout. Anyway, we played six games total with Brett and I on one team and Mr. and Mrs. Borden on the other. We beat them 4 to 2. We were really lucky during the first match and won in about eight rounds.

Yurgh, I have a lot of email to reply to. If I owe you email and it hasn’t arrived yet you should hear from me by tomorrow at the latest. Well, assuming nothing happens that sparks a sudden fit of procrastination.

Did you see Best Week Ever last night? I was vastly amused that they got Tay Zonday to do their summer vacation ditty.

Speaking of black guys and odd voices, did you know Stevie’s dad from Malcolm in the Middle does the voice of Ruckus on The Boondocks? I was watching the DVD special features today after I saw the season 2 preview YouTube link stickied in /co/. (Looks awesome, BTW.)

Okay, GTG — we’re going to get Chinese takeout and watch part 1 of 4 of the second Feasting on Asphalt miniseries (which just premiered today). Alton Brown + beef and broccoli = awesome Saturday night.