Friday, April 26, 2002

<A HREF=">Jason X</A>, the Serial Killer for Mac OS X!

I've never seen a single Friday the 13th movie before today. I'm honestly not all that enthusiastic about serial/supernatural killer franchises. But this one episode has Lexa Doig in it, whom I've got a tremendous crush on, and Lisa Ryder, who costars with Lexa in Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda, a show I follow on television. Add that the trailers looked deliciously cornball, and I had to go see it. I was fully cognizant that the production values looked low in the trailers, and that the writing would be non-existent, but forge ahead I did.

What does it say about the Jason franchise that they transplanted it into a cheap sci-fi space setting? What does it say about me that I'll watch it? Nothing you didn't already know, I trust. In any case, I've observed over the years that when a television science fiction show is nearing the end of it's run, they often transplant it to more mundane Earthbound settings. Witness Galactica 1980. Or just this year, Lexx.

So the apparent corollary to this rule is that when a movie horror series nears the end of it's life (we hope), it is transplanted to space. This does inject an element of (false) novelty, but ultimately, only self-mockery saves this movie from complete vapidity.

I was struggling for a description of this movie, until some two-thirds of the way through it, one of the characters did it for me. Trying to escape Jason with her crewmates, she is being sucked toward a hole in the ship punched by a cyber-pumped Jason. Losing her grip, doing her best to emote just a little in the pitiful script, she phones in her last line: "this sucks on so many levels."

Thursday, April 25, 2002

Web Serving for the Masses

For my personal enlightenment: Apache Web Serving With Mac OS X. I worked through the first section last night at work with my iBook, and was delighted to have the simple little page show up on my Sun workstation (via the skinny ethernet cable attached to my laptop). More whenever I have the time, courtesy of this everlasting link!

Kind of amusing, as I've become the go-to guy at work for SSH, and I just today spent a chunk of time getting an IRC server running on my machine, then testing it with a chat client written in Emacs Lisp, ZenIRC. The idea is to allow collaborative communication while working with shared desktops (all inside the firewall, so don't get all excited, industrial spies!).

More Flooding...

The flood gallery has been extended with new pictures sent by my sister. I take a morbid fascination in this because I lived there for too many years, and I don't live there now. Talk about Schadenfreude!

Wednesday, April 24, 2002

The Great Flood of 2002

Check it out! Images supplied by my sister Brenda of the flood around the environs of Wakefield, Michigan. Authentic history, guys!

Under Construction

Your patience is requested. I decided that since nobody was using the comment feature, and it slowed down template updates tremendously, that I'd disable it. Some other things like the calendar and the search items box seem munged, so I'm going to investigate when I have more time. In the meantime, the articles still seem available.

Gomen nasai...

Update: Things are back to normal. Apparently, if I want search and calendar I'm stuck with the messier file-per-article archives. Too bad.


I got a copy of Rare Earth: Why Complex Life Is Uncommon in the Universe from the library, and began reading it this weekend. It's a very interesting book so far, though page after page, from the very first is a litany of negatives: "oh sure, you can have bacteria all over the universe, no problem ... but here's why complex life just won't work."

A couple of years ago I used to work with a guy named Jeff. He was a very nice guy, good sense of humor, very sharp. But whenever I worked with him closely on a project, I was clearly reminded that I am not a pessimist, despite my tendency to think of myself that way. He was constantly finding the darkest lining behind every cloud, and had our product failing in the next quarter -- each quarter. Try as I could, I couldn't muster quite as much gloom as he could bring to bear.

So I was reading this book last night, and I had that same feeling. I'm willing to accept that the Drake equation was a bit naive, and probably missing a lot of variables. But in the first pages of this book, they've got a table FULL of obstacles to complex life. It really seems less like they are trying to get an accurate estimate than that they are gleefully stacking the deck against intelligent life.

Still, the authors are not the first to reason against intelligent life 'out there'. Between the Fermi Paradox and John Von Neumann's work on Automata, there is a pretty good argument that if there were aliens, they'd already be here. Of course, maybe they already are .

Tuesday, April 23, 2002

Photoshop Book Hunt

I've been looking for a Photoshop 6.0 book to ease me into the world of the power user, since reading the manual alone doesn't give you a good idea of the synergies achieved by combining the various facilities in the product. Since the books about Photoshop tend to run $50 apiece, I've been previewing them with the help of the local library. Most library editions are a version or two behind the one I have.

I started by skimming the 5.5 version of the Photoshop 6 Wow! Book, which a number of Photo.neters recommend. Bottom line is that it may be rich in information, insights and tips, but the layout makes me shudder. I remember when Wired magazine first came out, and I couldn't ever bring myself to buy it because the layout, colors and typography looked like it had been designed by a manic chimpanzee. This book has the same feel. If these folks know Photoshop, wouldn't they know anything about information design? I think they need to read some Tufte.

Next on the plate is the 5.5 version of Photoshop 6 Artistry. It's too soon to say, as I've just barely cracked the book, but it already seems easier on the eye and less of a direct assault on the brain. I'll update more here as I discover things.

Final note, for my own reference, is this overview article, Photoshop Crash Course.

Monday, April 22, 2002

Movie Weekend

This was a weekend for movies. Friday, I took time off and went to see The Rookie with Jean. She was disappointed with it. Overall, I'd call it a magnificent failure. Once again I've found proof that baseball can be interesting when embedded into a larger story, though this time I was clearly bored whenever they dwelt lovingly on a game.

Saturday was NOVA, and the after-meeting movie was Scorpion King. As usual, the company you keep makes all the difference. The consensus was that this was a movie that didn't need to be made, but we had fun making fun of it afterwards (and during as well, I'm sorry to admit). Even so, my years of training in suppressing my good taste by watching Hong Kong movies paid off, and I was able to enjoy myself.

Sunday, Kelly and I went to see Clockstoppers, which was unremarkable, inoffensive, and suitable for a seven-year old's notions of science fiction. It was a little too slow at the start, as Kelly was playing bouncy-bouncy on her seat. But eventually the gosh-wow kicked in, and Kelly and I spent the remainder of the day thinking of innocent pranks we could play on folks from 'hypertime'.

Thursday, April 18, 2002

Floods In The Upper Peninsula

I did several years in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and my dad still stays there in the old homestead in Wakefield for part of the spring and summer. So I was somewhat concerned when I heard on the radio that Ironwood, Michigan has been declared a disaster area due to flooding. Parts of Wakefield are flooded as well. So I called him as soon as I got to work. Turns out that his end of town is dry, and the end near Sunday Lake is under water. "We can't get out of Wakefield."

They're scheduled to move on to Canada in a few days, but only if the roads are open. Wish 'em luck. I guess my sister is able to get outta Dodge via the back roads.

Wednesday, April 17, 2002


Another purchase note for future reference. Two books, representing Point - Counterpoint:

Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe by Peter D. Ward and Donald Brownlee. The link is to a review written on Slashdot. In his conclusion, the author notes another book:

Life Everywhere: The Maverick Science of Astrobiology. Amusingly enough, search for either of these books on Amazon, and they give you the option to buy both of them bundled together. Which I might do .

Tuesday, April 16, 2002

Not All Writing Is Outlining

It's common for people who have never used an outliner to say they don't like them. This is really unfortunate, because often they've used software that says it's an outliner, but is not.

Dave Winer

Well Dave, I've used an outliner. I've used your outliner. I think working in an outliner, in the general case, sucks. Lest you think I haven't gotten your religion because I just haven't tried it.

Intelligent Design

In what is more of a note to myself, I mention Intelligent Design: Creationism and It's Critics, edited by Robert T. Pennock. Why? Because I might want to read it sometime, but my Amazon Wish List

is 'locked down' as I annotated several entries with birthday notes, and showed Jean how to select for 'most recently modified' to find them. If I add this book, will it prevent Jean from seeing my B-day prefs? Dunno, so I'll not risk it till after B-day...

Monday, April 15, 2002

The Phantom Edit

I forgot to mention that Bob, a coworker and fellow member of NOVA, lent me a copy of Episode 1.1: The Phantom Edit. This is a re-edit of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace by an anonymous editor, attempting to improve the original film by tightening the storyline and removing extraneous scenes. As the source material for this edit was the released VHS video tape, of course the mysterious editor could not add scenes, so the film has been shortened by twenty minutes:

Twenty minutes have been cut from the original 133, and as a result the film is tighter and faster. Jar-Jar, who has been demoted to an almost silent supporting role, is actually enjoyable.

As I've paid in the theatres twice to see the movie, I didn't feel too guilty about watching this alternative cut. I already deleted it from my hard drive, since it's hardly pivotal work. I agree that the movie is tighter, and that Jar-Jar is almost tolerable now. Kelly watched the second half with me, and seemed to like it. When we went ot see Ice Age there was a trailer for Episode II, and Kelly said "we've seen that already."

Master of Delays

After working out on the Bikeler and the Bowflex yesterday afternoon I took a shower, threw on some clothes and wandered into the living room. Kelly was watching some Disney Channel show and I wandered over to the window. It looked nice out, so I decided to go for a walk, at 6:20pm. Kelly twigged to this through her tv haze, and jumped up. "Me too!"

So we both got ready, and as usual, with Kelly it was one thing after another. By the time we reached the door it was 6:40pm. I told her we were going to walk around the block and then straight home, since it would be time for her bath and I wanted a snack to replace my missing dinner. Kelly agreed, and bargained to play her favorite game on the walk, 'store'. She stands on the edge of the sidewalk, next to utility boxes, and pretends they are stores and she is the merchant, selling kitty toys and such to me, a passerby. Perhaps you can understand the potential for delay here.

The walk itself turned into a visit with three neighborhood kitties. Kelly was enchanted, alternately following them and leading them around. We never did get to walk around the block. At 7:15 I called time, and Kelly said "but I want to go for a walk." Whoops! Let the stalling begin. "Can I stay outside?"

"No Kelly, unless you want to play in the back yard."

"What about the front yard?"

"No, that faces the street. Any crazy person could just drive up and nab you."

"We never got to play store."

"Okay, we can play store once before I go inside to get my snack."

"But I want to play a few times..."

Eventually, I got her to settle on playing store once, which she dragged out into a five minute affair. Then she played out back while I filled her bathtub, and we got back on schedule. But man! Is she the master of delays or what!

Ice Age

On the bright side, Kelly and I went to see Ice Age, finally! It was quite a lot of fun. It wasn't the laugh-a-minute riot of Emperor's New Groove, but that squirrel was a hoot. I was definitely laughing noisily during the closing sequence. Recommended for adults and kids.

FFX Spoilers?

Dunno if I crossed the line yesterday and gave too much info for Tom, who occasionally reads this weblog and also plays FFX. If so, sorry. This is another gripe, but pretty spoiler free. Just wanna observe that in the afternoon I bulldogged it and played again, three more times, finally beating the thing, just barely, on the third try.

And what happens? The game sweeps me off to battle again, with no intermediate save! And I got killed again! Now I have to go back to the stupid worm! Man does that cheese me!

Make that a three week layover...

Sunday, April 14, 2002

The Red Carpet Has Teeth

I may be eternally stuck at my current point in Final Fantasy X. I'm still on the airship, fighting a 32,000 HP boss monster, which has tons of nasty 1,000 HP attacks, without Yuna and her Aeons. This monster is called Evrae, and is the guardian of the city of Bevelle. Hence Auron's commentary about the red carpet. I tried to beat it three times this morning, and never got it below 18,000 HP before my party was killed off entirely.

I've since done the usual queries at, and like the Iron Giants in Macalania, the advice is "this is a hard fight". Except for one faq states which states, rather insultingly, I think: "Oh my god, this fight was way too simple! Don�t worry about his HP, Evrae is a total wuss."

I usually burn out for awhile after my party gets killed, and I was determined to force myself to fight a few times and try variations of attacks, so I got in three today. But the bad taste in my mouth will probably lead to a layoff of a week or more. We'll just have to see...

Saturday, April 13, 2002

Game Waltz

About a week has elapsed since I last played Final Fantasy X. I got through Home after getting killed a couple of times, boarded an airship, and headed out to find Yuna. Then, whatta ya know, another boss monster to fight. Got killed on the airship, put the game away.

As an alternate, I resurrected Resident Evil, sorta to pay homage to my recent Asian Zombie musings. Once again, I had the experience of being slow. I had the original RE, without 'auto-aim', so I was constantly flailing with the controller trying to get a scope on the zombies and zombie doggies. Got chomped and killed numerous times. Then I was doing a search for hints on and came across the mention of 'auto-aim'. Seems that in later versions of the game, you can set things so that pressing R1 will cause your character to auto lockon to a zombie so you are free to shoot.

A short trip to Fry's was rewarded by finding Resident Evil Director's Cut, Dual Shock Edition on the shelf cheap, so I bought it. Yesterday evening I tried it out. Same story, same setting, same artwork, but the controller layout was so much easier. And auto-aim saved my bacon several times. So I don't know if I'll be able to complete the game or not, but I'm certainly going to get farther.

As for FFX, I think I will try to get through the airship scenario once this weekend, time permitting. But I have to admit, it's more fun moving the story ahead than it is fighting ever bigger monsters. I wish there was an 'easy' setting so I could just waltz through that sort of thing and immerse myself into the storyline. Oh, well, can't have everything.

Wednesday, April 10, 2002

Creeping Camera Disease

Days away from receiving my present for Jean's birthday, a used Nikon FM2n full manual SLR. Jean learned photography on this camera (or more accurately, the FM2, which preceded the FM2n by a couple of years) when she worked as an editor on the Multnomah Athletic Club's in house magazine. Seeing my Nikon N80 reminded her of the fun, so I told her I'd try to get her one (FM2's are hard to come by now, so I settled for the more recent FM2n).

Asian Zombies

I've seemingly got a weakness for cheesy Asian zombie movies, as witnessed by my posession of Wild Zero and Bio-Zombie. But a convincing simulation of gore and evisceration isn't the attraction for me. Rather it is the offbeat juxtaposition of pop culture with the 'classical' Romero zombie ouvre that grabs me. Hence rockabilly bands versus zombies in Wild Zero, zombies invading the mall (and elsewhere) in Bio-Zombie, and the healthy dose of self-mocking in both films.

Which is why I've never been able to convince myself to buy a copy of Junk: Lost Soul Hunting. That movie definitely has the goof factor I enjoy, in this case a gang of jewel thieves have the bad luck to choose an 'abandoned' warehouse to hide out in, only to discover that it houses a secret military installation where biological experiments have gone awry, producing ravenous zombies. Geez, why does that sound familiar? In any case, while the story seems to have the goof factor, it also, to judge by the screen shots I've seen, has a deep fascination with gore. Way, way too much gore. So I'll have to pass.

Now looms on the horizon another possibility. On April 26th, the DVD release of Versus arrives. An escaped prisoner meets with yakuza in a forest. Unfortunately the forest is 'The Forest of Resurrection', one of 666 portals between this world and the next. Sounds sorta like Evil Dead in that respect. Reviews are really mixed on this one, but I've gone quite awhile without an Asian zombie fix, so I'll probably take the chance and add it to my small collection.

Revolutionary Test Kitchen

I knew the banner picture of Kelly's cookie taste test reminded me of something:

Jacques-Louis David's The Death of Marat.

Tuesday, April 9, 2002


The SCIFI channel was showing David Cronenberg's eXistenZ last night, so I watched it. I've been a fan of Cronenberg for almost as long as he's been making movies, and I missed this one, since like Crash (based on a novel by J. G. Ballard) it was only released to a theatre downtown.

Cronenberg specializes in movies which question our reality, or acts which define the boundaries of our humanity. He is to film what Philip K. Dick was to the written word. Unfortunately, this movie ends up looking more like an adaptation of a Philip K. Dick story than an original Cronenberg work. By the end it was almost heavy-handed, something Cronenberg has been guilty of before. Cronenberg movies are best when they tread the line between hyperbole and unspoken implication.

This hasn't put me off Cronenberg, and indeed I'm looking forward to his next movie, currently titled Spider, based on the novel by Patrick McGrath.

Monday, April 8, 2002


Don't try to take a bath without advance planning, if you have a six-year old in the house. If not, you will end up stepping on the Little Mermaid, sitting on paper-clip necklaces, or resting your head on the Animal Shrine. (each situation has happened, I'm not making this stuff up)

As an aside, the fuziness of this image is one reason I wanted to experiment with a film camera. The turnaround time to image availability is slower, but the image quality can be much crisper. Here we see the result of using the digital camera hand-held with f4 aperture (the fastest available aperture at full zoom). Add a slow shutter speed (gather that dim light), and hand shake was inevitable. With the Nikon N80 (film camera) and the 50mm f1.8 lens, I might get a better shot of this sort of thing. We'll see...

America's Test Kitchen

No, it's not a ransom note; this month's banner is of Kelly participating in a cookie taste test. America's Test Kitchen has become something of a favorite in our house, and Jean decided to prepare a cookie recipe (chocolate chip) three different ways, and have us test taste them.

The main variation was to use cake flour, bread flour and regular flour. Kelly was adamantly offended by the cake-flour cookies, and seemed to prefer the bread-dough cookies. I was more mildly unimpressed by the cake-flour cookies, and I'm sure I'll eat them until they're gone. As for the other two, they were both good, but merely different from each other. One tasted saltier, and the other tasted more buttery.

Jean get's major coolness points for trying this out and holding the taste test. Kelly certainly enjoyed the excuse to eat three cookies in one sitting!

The New Camera

Here it is, a photo of my new camera, ironically taken with my Nikon Coolpix 950 digital camera.

Moyer Visit

From the last visit, I've collected a handful of images taken with my digital camera. Now you know what they look like!

Saturday, April 6, 2002

Big Trouble

I saw Big Trouble yesterday. I'd call it a B grade effort, since it misses as often as it hits. It's from that much-cherished (by me) genre of 'comic crime', and the broad hints of such in trailers are what led me to go see it. I only found out while watching the credits that it was based on a novel by Dave Barry.

See, if Carl Hiaasen had written it, it would have been a much funnier movie. Oops, forget I said that. I almost forgot that Carl Hiaasen wrote Striptease, which was made into a mostly embarassing movie starring Demi Moore and Burt Reynolds (among others).

So if you like the genre, it's worth a matinee ticket, but don't rush to see it.

Camera Hijinx

Well, I have been soundly spanked by fate. Jean took Kelly to swim and art classes at the Y today, so I did the grocery shopping, then hauled my camera and the used zoom lens to Camera Works for an assessment. After a couple of minutes of fiddling, the woman announced that the lens wasn't meant for my camera. "But I thought Nikon lenses were compatible across cameras?"

My still ignorant take on this is that the material I've read is ambiguous. It seems from what I saw today that newer lenses will usually work on older cameras, though of course not with all their features. But in at least this case, an older lens won't work with a newer camera. She demonstrated this to me by mounting the zoom on three separate bodies, both manual and autofocus, and successfully snapping photos with each.

So I sold the lens there at a small loss, and took it as a rather stern lesson not to let my enthusiasm overcome my judgement. Until I get a lot more familiar with the camera and it's gear, I'll stick to a store where I can actually ask questions and interact. I'll probably even take my camera in with me and shoot a roll with the desired lens (and develop it) before buying it.

I wonder how long it will take me to backslide on that resolution.

Friday, April 5, 2002

Trusting Soul

This may be the first time I've gotten burned by Ebay. As you may recall, I bought a 80-200mm F2.8 zoom lens from some photographer, who'd claimed it had just undergone routine maintenance by Nikon certified tech. I've got the lens now, and the optics are flawless. No scratches, dirt, fungus or embedded fluff. However, try as I might, I can't get it to work with my N80. I can sight through the viewfinder, zoom and focus, just fine. But when it comes to snapping the shutter, the camera won't let me.

It's not the camera, which works fine with my 50mm F1.8 lens. But the camera doesn't like the zoom, flashing an error notice whenever it is turned on with this lens. So in the next week or two I'm going to try to take it to Camera Works in Beaverton for an estimate on fixing it. They were recommended by a woman at the camera store where I bought the camera. If that doesn't work, or seems too expensive, Jean remembers a good shop downtown, called Pro Photo Supply. Farther away, but recommended by my spouse. Hmmm. Maybe I should just skip Camera Works and go directly to Pro Photo.

In any case I'm not in a panic or a hurry. I got the lens relatively cheap, and I already have a functional camera/lens setup. I just wanted to have a general purpose zoom (though rated rather highly) for the occasional road trip to the coast. Too bad my one bad experience with Ebay had to be over this.

Love and Death

I returned to FFX today. Made some progress, then got killed. Then Kelly heard that I'd been playing and insisted that I play through my dinner. I played with a dinner tray in front of me. That's proof of my being a good father, right? I got past the last point where my group got killed, reached a save point, and moved on. Then I got cocky, in the Al Bhed city, Home. Defeated some Guado, then moved on to the next fight without healing everybody up. Big mistake. Dead again.

Kelly was angling to stay up late by getting me to play longer, but by the time I reached that second death scene, she was ready for her bath. Now everybody's asleep but me. I plan to read the Photoshop 5/5.5 Wow! Book. I checked it out from the library to decide if I wanted to buy the Photoshop 6.0 version of the book for my personal library. Still to be decided...

Thursday, April 4, 2002

Streamin' an' Dreamin'

I'm back on the headphones, listening to Japan-A-Radio. It's pretty cool having music from Japan streaming over the headphones while I tinker. It remains to be seen how streaming works when I'm doing something demanding like Photoshop, which can easily eat up half my memory (and who knows how much CPU).

Kelly was here a moment ago sharing a second set of headphones, but mean old Mom dragged her away to do homework. Kelly wanted to know if I would pause it. "Sorry, it's like radio, not normally pausable." I think she's thinking it's like my ReplayTV, where I can pause live programming. But I've tried it, and pausing a stream (at least with iTunes) just rebuffers the stream when you press play again. Too bad for her...

The downside now is that I've got three pairs of portable walkman-style headphones, and two pairs are on their last legs. Guess I'll have to spring for another pair so Kelly and I can share and both have decent sound...


My shoulder is finally returning to full functionality. I've still got minor limits on my 'head rotation factor', but overall, no complaints. I no longer lose sleep by waking up from shoulder pain when I roll over.

So I said to myself, 'how can I degrade my sleep? I know, I'll play Resident Evil before bed! And to make it easier, I'll buy a PSone with bundled LCD screen to set by my bedside table.' Add headphones, and voila!

Wednesday, April 3, 2002


Okay, it's not a miracle, and I can always backslide, but...

Big box of donuts, glazed, chocolate covered, cream-filled, sitting at the coffee area. I looked at them all, and decided that none of them appealed to me.

Maybe the spare tire will disappear someday!

Monday, April 1, 2002

Internet Radio

I had one of those Tickle-Me-Elmo moments this morning. I'd read yesterday about a streaming radio station called Japan-A-Radio, which plays anime music and J-pop! Gotta love it. Anyway, I got Kelly set up for breakfast, and sat down at the computer to check it out.

The second song they played was the OP from Gundam MS 8th Team. That perked me right up. I'll be listening to these guys more in the future!

The only rub is of course the looming CARP ruling, which is aimed at snuffing out internet radio by charging usurious licensing fees for music. Here's an example: SomaFM already pays ASCAP and BMI licensing fees to the tune of $1000 a year, representing fair compensation to the artists. CARP would require them to pay an additional $1000 a day! I find it hard to believe this is fair. Yech.

Next Year's Timesink?

Linking to this review for my own reference, much as I did for The Lost. Whenever I find a game which is unusual and seems like it might appeal to me, here it goes...

This one is very unusual. It is a blending of Disney characters and Squaresoft characters into one adventure game. It is called Kingdom Hearts. Read the review if you're interested.

April Idiots

Ya know, April 1st really sucks. April Fools pranks fall into the same category as the Trick in Trick or Treat. Somebody with a cruel streak managed to pull the wool over everyone's eyes and portray their vandalism as 'just fun and games.' "Where's your sense of humor?"

That charge might stick better if any of this cruft was funny. It's really boring to read a news site and recognize that one of the articles is a carefully crafted nutlog. Even if it's only once a year, do you really want to tell a regular reader 'hunt for the fake news article'? That's like going into a deli and being told, "I spit in one of the soups, but the others are just fine. Really, it's just for fun, relax!"

If you get the urge, just don't post today, please.

What a Game!

Jeez, has it really been two months since I last played FFX? "Forgive me, Maester, for I have slacked. It has been two months since my last FFX session." I've played other games, such as Black & White, but due to the recent greedy influx of toys, I've been too distracted to do a session with old, reliable Final Fantasy X.

Perhaps another reason was game apprehension. In my last couple of sessions I'd just succeeded in escaping intact from Macalania Woods, after getting killed trying several times. Since I've been browsing several sites looking for interesting FFX links, I stumbled onto a spoiler for what was to come, and knew there was a big fight coming up. It certainly seemed bigger than the Woods.

Since Tom and Alan and James and others get together once a week to play through some FFX, and Tom occasionally reads this weblog, I won't discuss what happened, but yes, I did get killed the first time I tried to play out this particular scenario. However, I immediately tried again, and succeeded. Yuna has a new Aeon, and it is really cool! So I'm happy, and I'll try to play more often, though the other distractions are still there.

At the rate I'm playing, Tom and the gang should pass me by in no time, and then I can talk freely about my little virtual victories...

Spam Loop

Pretty funny. Yahoo attempted to slip one by it's users, including me, by changing it's marketing preferences pages without notifying users. They claim now that notices would have gone out by email soon to let people know that they could adjust their preferences (from the default: "Please spam me!!!! ... A LOT!!!"). Being a big weblog browser, I heard about it before it hit the news, and promptly adjusted my preferences.

The truly funny part is that my 'marketing information' lists as my email address: Not my personal email account. So they'd be spamming their own mailboxes. Funnier still is that they'd cancelled my email account due to inactivity on my part (not surprising since I only ever used it as the reply-to address when I feared I'd get spammed by someone).

Make no mistake. I'm not a customer of Yahoo. These are free services, and they have to pay for them somehow. But trick spamming is not the answer. The only blessed solitary service I use from Yahoo now is the NOVA mailing list, which was originally part of eGroups, before Yahoo bought it. If Yahoo asked me to pay, in lieu of advertising, and the price was reasonable (our average volume is around twenty messages a month, with peaks of a hundred when people are feeling cranky), I'd just buy it. I think $10 or $20 a year would be fair for such low volume.

Panic Room

Friday afternoon, in honor of Easter, I took the afternoon off and saw a movie (before I messed up my shoulder). The movie in question was The Panic Room. It was one of the better Hitchcock pastiches I've seen in awhile, and I think David Fincher did a better Hitchcock than even Brian DePalma did. It could easily be done as a play, since the set is limited to a house, and focuses a lot on one room--the Panic Room.

Speaking of Hitchcock, the great directory often referred to a device, which he called a McGuffin. It was a gimmick which "drives the logic of the plot, especially in suspense films." The Panic Room is certainly that. When I saw the previews I thought it looked silly, and it is that, but only in the best Hitchcock tradition. Like many modern tributes, it occasionally rings hollow, and sometimes seems awkwardly anachronistic, but overall it worked pretty well.

Cold Shoulder

The Shoulder Pain Bar Chart was a bit too optimistic. Put Monday's bar midway between Saturday and Sunday. But it's still an improvement. In a day or two, I'll start using 5 lb. handweights to start strengthening the affected area again. The damaged muscles will still be damaged, but the supporting stabilizers will benefit from the exercise.