Archive for December, 2007

#923

2:07 am, Wednesday, December 19th, 2007

Update on our ongoing flooded-room snafu: The contractor says he’s “still putting a bid together.” He also says he told Heritage to send people out to “suck the water out of the carpet.” Heritage denied this, but arranged for a carpet-cleaning service to come out tomorrow morning. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me; why clean the carpets when the source of the leak still hasn’t been fixed? Won’t they just get wet all over again? Well, whatever. At least these Castle Carpet Cleaning people seem to have their act together. They return calls quickly, make appointments for specific times (10:30 vs. “sometime today”), verify addresses, etc.

The apartment is extremely crowded at the moment… I think you would be surprised at how sardined things get here when one’s forced to condense five rooms of furniture into four rooms. But at least it’s a tidy clutter — I’ve been on a cleaning spree lately. Did all the dishes, took out a lot of garbage, vacuumed, etc. It’s probably fueled by guilt… I haven’t even started my Christmas shopping yet. Plans for tomorrow: Get haircut, complete at least 30% of shopping, clean out trunk of car, use up that last pound of hamburger in the fridge.

Brett made egg foo young tonight. He used leeks, broccoli, celery, and barbecued pork and made an almond sauce to go over the top. It was really good. Better than the egg foo young I’ve had at any restaurant. Here’s a pic:

Brett's egg foo young with almond sauce

BTW, have you tried Arby’s cheesecake poppers? We got some last week because of a blurb in The Stranger. Ridiculously tasty. They’re less sweet than you’d expect, but it works.

Arby's Cheesecake Poppers

Played a lot of Super Mario Galaxy today. I think I’ve collected 19 stars so far.

You know what’s an awesome song? Combustible Edison – Vertigogo. Very Henry Mancini-ish. Anyway, someone mentioned it on MetaFilter and I got hooked. I’d never heard the whole thing before, only snippets in commercials.

#922

12:11 am, Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

Yeesh, it’s been a whole week now and Heritage Realty (and/or the lazy contractor they hired) still hasn’t done a damn thing about our flooded room. I call them every day and they politely blow me off (“Oh, really? No repairs? I’ll call them.”). Meanwhile, the moldy smell in there is becoming unbearable… Do they not realize that the problem gets more expensive the longer they wait? I’d find other ways to get the repairs done, but there’s no way I’m spending a red cent to fix something I have no equity in. At least next month’s rent will be prorated.

Anyway, I saw I am Legend on Saturday. (I also went to see it on Friday, but it was sold out.) The post-apocalyptic New York landscapes were awesome and I really got into its quiet-last-man-on-Earth-isolation vibe. The ending was a little unsatisfying though. And the CG, esp. for the “darkseeker” leader, wasn’t as good as I expected. But other than those issues, I enjoyed it. All the scenes with the German Sheperd worked really well.

GURPS Transhuman Space: Shell-Tech came out last week (edit) two weeks ago. I was kind of leery about spending eight bucks on a 32-page PDF, but eventually I gave in. I don’t regret it — great read. Could’ve used more cybershells and fewer aquatic bioshells IMHO but whatever.

Miscellaneous: Getting ready to head home in a few days for Christmas and clinic stuff. Been eating a ton of oranges lately. Adult Swim is airing new Shin Chan episodes, so that’s nice. Re-watched the whole Planetes series. Been playing Puzzle Quest on the DS (I’m up to level 49). Have a lot of Christmas shopping to do. Made spaghetti yesterday.

Currency completes US govt. buildings    Cloverfield creature

#921

9:28 pm, Tuesday, December 11th, 2007

Welp, I’m back in Pullman. Seattle was fun. The Automatic Data Processing seminar was about as exciting as one might expect, but I did learn some useful stuff. For instance, did you know it’s your responsibility to verify your SIT-EIN, SUI-EIN, MISC-EIN, EVPDI-EIN, and unemployment experience rates for every quarterly tax verification letter you receive? Or that you can’t submit out-of-sequence payrolls after January 9th (whereupon they must be filed as “amendments” because they result in updated Wage and Tax registers, quarterly reports, and W-2 forms)? Oh, how I could regale you with fascinating trivia about 1099-R forms.

Anyway, we had dinner at I Love Sushi in Bellevue. It was a 40-minute wait, but worth it. I tried geoduck sushi for the first time and discovered I’m not a fan (the flavor’s acceptable but the texture makes me queasy). I’m liking scallops more and more, OTOH. The day after the seminar, we drove up to downtown Seattle and had lunch at Boulangerie Nantaise (the French bakery next door to my old apartment building). Then we walked to Pike Place Market where Brett bought some political pins for his collection and we picked up two dozen Daily Dozen doughnuts (which are delicious even cold). Wish I’d had more time up there — I really wanted to visit Charlie, Anthony, and the rest of the Fed Way gang.

The pass was excellent. Stopped in the Tri-Cities for an hour to visit with my parents and pick up Looker. When we arrived in Pullman, we found the floor of the back bedroom soaked — looks like there’s a leak of some kind in the southeast corner. Heritage Realty sent out a contractor who’s not exactly a paragon of professionalism. The guy looked at the wall, felt it, looked at the window outside, and left without saying anything five hours ago. Hopefully he’ll come back at some point and actually fix something…

As promised, my thumbnail reviews of the board games I played in Pasco:

  • Weinhändler — A simple game that seems complicated because of its awkwardly written rules. (A poor translation, maybe?) Basically, you bid on bottles of wine and use them to build “cellars” that give you points based on the quality of the wine and the arrangement of the bottles. The bidding strategy is a little tricky in the beginning, but everyone’ll figure it out by the second game. I was very fond of this one, but Logan and Jones seemed less enamored.

    Weinhandler at AU

  • Gheos — We played this the most. It’s vaguely like Carcassonne with triangular tiles, Alhambra-style scoring, and meeple that anyone can claim. You play these gods that create civilizations and manipulate the geography of the world to bring about war and migration. Success in most games seems to require diversifying your follower pool and temporarily allying with other players. The most valuable continents tend to split up quickly. I enjoy it, but it’s hard to master. Even having won a couple games, I still don’t feel like I’ve developed a cohesive strategy.

    Gheos at AU

I was going to mention Power Grid too, but I don’t think I’ve played it enough to form a fair opinion. It’s very difficult to learn (without an experienced player) and requires the players to keep track of a lot of details to make sure they’re operating in the proper step. On the upside, it has really cool systems for fuel supply/demand and buying power plants in a way that mimics real world advances.

Random stuff:

  • Did you know James Lipton is 81? I thought he was like 60!
  • A bunch of awesome statistics for Team Fortress 2. (E.g. average damage per hit per weapon, total time played per class, average lifespan per class, etc.)

I got my 2 GB microSD card from Newegg recently, so I’ve been playing a bunch of DS games. Updated my R4 kernel while I was at it. Phantom Hourglass is good. Geometry Wars is a little better, though the controls tick me off; I wish games wouldn’t force you to use a stylus for something designed for a joystick, mouse, or dial. Drawn to Life is okay till the novelty wears off, Scrabble Interactive is decent, Picross is surprisingly fun (I hate sudoku, but for some reason love nonograms), Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is amusing for a little while, and The Wild West sucks big time.

Unrelated quick junk: Planning to get Chinese for dinner tonight. Want to see I am Legend on the 14th. Made Brett watch Reefer Madness with me last night. Successfully lynched a mafia member in my Newbie 497 game. Prolly returning to Pasco around the 20th.

#920

6:25 pm, Wednesday, December 5th, 2007

I’m not dead. Just haven’t posted lately because I’ve been busier than usual. Plus I don’t quite have the easy online access I’m accustomed to, what with being out of town and my notebook’s wifi getting half-borked. I’ve stayed on in Pasco for an extra ten days or so to take care of my parents’ animals while they’re at a symposium in Florida but I’m leaving for Seattle tomorrow morning so I can attend a seminar on year-end payroll processing. Brett’s meeting me up there.

Been hanging out with Jones, Logan, et al. a lot. When the Futurama movie came out on the 27th we got a bunch of people together at Adventures Underground after closing. I borrowed an LCD projector from the clinic, Logan and Amanda ordered a ton of pizza. It was awesome. Great movie, even though the two musical numbers were kinda lame. I really like the updated theme song. Can’t wait for The Beast with a Billion Backs (rumored to be released in April or May of 2008).

Other movies seen lately: Beowulf (last night w/ Jones) and Reefer Madness (a couple nights ago at Logan and Amanda’s). Both were pretty awesome. Beowulf had more than its fair share of kitsch, but it worked. Vikings are supposed to be kinda crude and dumb, so the cheesy dialogue didn’t seem too out of place; plus it’s easier to accept the ridiculous boasting and bravado when it’s coming from a CG character. I don’t think I would’ve liked the movie if it’d been made with real actors. In fact, I wish Angelina Jolie’s character hadn’t looked like her — it temporarily ruined my suspension of disbelief.

Reefer Madness is a terrific musical. Ana Gasteyer has a flinty face, but boy can she sing. Logan’d been talking this thing up for a while, but I was reluctant to see it because I was afraid it’d be a cheap, Troma-esque collection of pot humor with Shock Treatment-like music/choreography. Fortunately, my preconceptions were all wrong. It’s definitely not a “Dave’s not here, man” parade of idiocy. The message is heavy-handed and wrapped in as much (sarcastic) hyperbole as the original film, but the great production values and catchy music more than make up for it. When I got home, I immediately ordered a copy of the DVD.

What else? Got my studded tires put on, bought a new corduroy sport jacket, met up with Steve Tate (an old LAN party acquaintance), played a bunch of games (including some new ones: Gheos, Weinhandler, and Power Grid — will talk about them later), got sucked back into M:tG, and stayed up way too late shooting zombies in Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles on Jones’s Wii.

GTG. Here’s an awesome acappella performance of Movin’ Out I found on YouTube.