Wednesday, January 28, 2004

With Great Power Comes Great You-know-whats

Okay, so I bought Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance already. I used to play a lot of Dungeons & Dragons lo these many years ago, and BG has a rep as a fine adaptation of the pencil-and-paper-and-dice game to the console realm.

I managed to rip Kelly away from Simpsons: Road Rage for a few brief moments this evening to try out BG, and got a few minutes into the storyline. One of the non-player characters (NPC) was a tavern owner, who happened to be a woman dressed up like a refugee of I Dream of Jeannie. I'm honestly just listening to the spiel, and Kelly says, "Dad, why does she have such big you-know-whats?"

Well, I could have given her a quick answer, but it was a really good question. So I said, "I think we should ask your Mom." No, not copping out here, I wanted Kelly to hear the perspective of an intelligent adult woman. So while Kelly was explaining to Jean about the woman with 'freakishly large' bossoms, I was laying the groundwork of what the game was.

"So Phin, what kind of people play D&D?"


"Male nerds. So it's probably true that this game was written by a guy or guys..."

We went on from there, and discussed everything from evolutionary imperatives to shallow teenage boys. Gotta prep Kelly early for that first smiling nogoodnik! I was impressed with how long Kelly's attention held. And I was very happy that Jean was there to spell it out for Kelly from the viewpoint of a real woman, living in the real world. With luck, Kelly will grow up with enough self-esteem that she won't feel the need to buy a pair of great you-know-whats.

Oh, and when I used to play D&D, I knew at least three women who played in my various groups. Granted, they were usually the only woman, but no one ever pawed them that I recall...

Monday, January 26, 2004

My Reward

I got a good grade on my dental hygiene exam last week (after a somewhat sketchier one previously) and Dr. Kierkegaarde said it was probably due to my assiduous application of the Pik Pocket subgingival attachments they prescribed the last time. I should hope so. Using these things is te-di-ous. Add to that my recent dazzling progress on my project at work (despite my personal milestone whizzing past at the end of next month) and just general comfort for my recent fluey illness, and I felt free to spend my Christmas money buying a midrange treat:

Xbox! Yeah, I've already got a console, but even if I suck at most games, I enjoy them immensely, and the Xbox is getting several new exclusives that I really wanna try out. So I blew my roll on the green monster. This was a package deal. It came with the controller, of course, and three games:

  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars - A standard vehicle racer/shooter with nice graphics, as far as I can see from my cursory play.

  • Tetris Worlds - On an Xbox??? Come on! You know what this is. No surprises here.

  • Brute Force - Looks like a FPS style game, though I haven't had a chance to try it at all.

Then I picked up a 'Platinum Hit' to round things out. I wanted to get Munch's Oddysee, but Kelly didn't like the looks of it, and since she was in tow, I wanted her to feel like she had some input. The whole thing that got me thinking about another console was when Kelly had asked for Pokemon Channel for Christmas. Unfortunately, it only comes on the Nintendo Gamecube, a console I do not own. So I looked seriously at the console, with the criterion that they had to have enough games that I wanted to play to justify a new console. No go. But it got me thinking...

Back to the present. Kelly got input. We settled on Simpsons Road Rage, which is sort of a franchised knock-off of Crazy Taxi. Kelly spent most of yesterday evening playing it. I could have gotten Simpsons Hit and Run, which is their new franchise game, a knock-off of Grand Theft Auto, but that was full price, and I figured Kelly would never know the difference.

So what's up next? First, paying off the credit card for this lump purchase. A little later, I'll pick up one of the Baldur's Gate games, and maybe the Morrowind title. Yeah, I know, I'm a sucker for a good dungeon crawl...

This summer is Sudeki! Gotta play! Ain't I just a juvenile with a grey beard?


What struck me in particular was there appeared to be no way out without traipsing round the whole store. It was like a theme attraction that had no exit but the gift shop, except that the whole thing was a gift shop.

squealy reacting to Ikea

The occasion of this bon mot was an article in The Morning News a few days ago. I'd already seen it on Slashdot, but it's pretty funny. It's a parody of those GameFAQ videogame walkthroughs, with a visit to Ikea as the game:

You start this world armed only with a UNIVERSAL FURNITURE-ASSEMBLY ALLEN WRENCH. This is the weakest weapon in IKEA: You will have to hit a person 16 times with it to kill them...

As you enter the main area, you will see an EKHARD oiled solid-oak dining sideboard. Quickly kick it apart to acquire the TABLE LEG WITH NAIL.

As you continue through the main SHOWROOM you will see groups blocking the walkways while chatting and others moving against traffic. These people should be killed immediately.

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Catching Up

I haven't posted in over a week, and truth to tell, nothing interesting has happened. I could note how my nefarious plan to corrupt Kelly is coming along nicely -- she now spontaneously sings snippets from Bohemian Rhapsody without prompting, mostly "let him go! WE WILL NOT LET YOU GO", and her own version of Fugue for the Tinhorns ("I got the horse right here, his name is Paul Grameer") -- but other than that, I got nothing.

I've been absorbed by my project at work, wherein I'm rapidly approaching a self-imposed milestone, but have low confidence of reaching it. Maybe a month late, and given that I've got more time after that for the entire project, I'm not truly worried, but I like to hit my own deadlines... When I get home, I find myself pretty much intellectually drained, and so I end up goofing with Kelly, jabbering with Jean, or just watching bad made-for-tv SciFi movies.

I came down with a touch of something flu-ish this weekend for variety's sake. Saturday I had a light breakfast and began to feel nauseous (it was home-cooked oatmeal, so don't point that food-poisoning stick at me). That went on for the entire day, though I was able to take Kelly swimming, and go grocery shopping with the gang. By nightfall, I was running a very low fever and shivery, so I went to bed mucho early, listening to my iTunes library for company. Total food intake Saturday was the oatmeal in the morning, and two slices of dry toast in the evening.

By this morning I was feeling a bit better. In the late morning I ate another slice of dry toast and a banana. Late in the afternoon I was able to eat normally, which is to say a plate of vegetables and some fresh-baked cod. I'm feeling almost whole now, so I'm tempted to call this a 24-hour bug, except that I'd been having stomach cramps on and off the entire previous week. Does this qualify as too much information?

More evidence for a virus is that Jean went to bed early this evening feeling under the weather as well. I hope Kelly doesn't get in line for her share, but she's been remarkably hale since her early childhood. Thanks for that!

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

The Short Victorious War

This is the third book of David Weber's Honor Harrington series, following the career of a naval officer in a space fleet. Chief among the flaws of this series is the simplistic characterization, with lots of not-so-subtle backing plot to let us know who the bad guys, good guys, gruff guys and just imcompetent guys are, so we know who to root for and who to tsk-tsk.

I was willing to live with that as I found the meticulous embedding of wooden ship battle strategies into a space opera entertaining of itself. However, by the third novel, that's gotten old hat, and the continuous wholesale and transparent borrowing of characters and nations from history continues to be rather heavy-handed (Rob. S. Pierre? Please!)

I'm beginning to think that getting some ten or twenty books for the price of one wasn't such a good deal after all. In any case, I'll read one of the other authors on the CD before attempting any more Honor Harrington. They're not bad, understand, just standard fare, and more of the same...

On the other hand, some people really hate this stuff:

[The Honor Harrington books] were bad. They were very, very bad. To paraphrase Pratchett, they were so bad they went though the other side of bad and were simply not very good anymore. Look, there go some one-dimensional bad guys! Look, there goes the one-dimensional good guy (well, person)! Look, she's put in impossible tactical odds and yet somehow still manages to triumph! Look, she gets no respect back at home! Look, the next book rehashes the EXACT SAME PLOT. Needless to say, I do not like David Weber, nor do I like the Honor Harrington books. I am deeply distrustful of anyone who does.

Roy Rapoport

No Mini, Me

But here�s what they aren�t seeing. Apple isn�t pricing the Mini to compete against the lineup of its own products. It�s pricing the Mini against rivals, just like it should. The little machine is squarely in the same entry level price cluster as the Nomad MuVo2 and the Nitrus Rio (both the 1.5 and 4 GB versions).

Business 2.0

I missed this when it was posted a few days ago. To the comment "it's pricing the Mini against rivals" I reply, I'm not buying those either. When it drops to $150 (or better, $120), I'll be in the market. In the meantime, go ahead and gouge those early adopters!

Saturday, January 10, 2004

Apple vs Apple

Since 1991, Apple Computer and Apple Corps. (founded by the Beatles as it's music label) have had an agreement (stemming out of a lawsuit) wherein Apple Computer agreed to use the name Apple only for computer equipment. With the creation of the iPod, I wondered when Apple Corps. would sue again.

Then came the Apple iTunes Music Store. And then came the lawsuit. So I wasn't surprised to discover that there were no Beatles albums on iMS.

Tonight, however, courtesy of Kelly Wakefield, I found out that this did not mean that there were no Beatles songs on iMS. Kelly had me play the Chipmunks Christmas songs we bought for her, then asked me if she could hear more of them, or at least the 30 second samples available on iMS.

And to my surprise, I found Please Please Me and She Loves You. I went another step and searched for "Beatles", turning up lots of covers, everything from "Eleanor Rigby" to "Penny Lane". I wonder if Apple Corps. knows about that?

Friday, January 9, 2004


I finally got in to work for a full day. Leaving Tualatin was a funhouse ride, but once I got on the main roads, they were practically clear. The trip home was nearly all clear, except for Umatilla, my home street. Looks like melting is the trend here.

I heard early in the day that there might be some freezing rain over the weekend, but I haven't heard anything like that since, so I've got my fingers crossed.

Kelly was much more cheerful today. She went out with Jean on errands, so her cabin fever is much reduced. Tomorrow I'm hoping to take her to her first swimming class of the season. Luck to us!

Thursday, January 8, 2004

There and Back Again

Well, I finally made it into work. Not for a full day, more like a half, but I was able to bring some of my notes home with me in case we get iced in again. The trip down was more or less as I predicted, though generally without incident.

Returning home, I spent a lot of time on the highway, as there was some sort of accident north of Tualatin which had vehicles backed up south of Wilsonville. When I finally got into Tualatin, it was as if every turn I made added twenty percent to the difficulty of the road. On Umatilla, my own street, I was gunning it and fishtailing, and finally raced the engine up the driveway into my garage. It's 34 degrees right now, so if the temperature manages to hold, we may escape without further icing. But I'm not holding my breath.

Hope tomorrow is easier driving (or driving at all).

Wednesday, January 7, 2004

Can I <em>Please</em> Go to Work?

Tuesday I drove to work slowly in snowy weather. After awhile, as noted before, I drove home in freezing rain. I worked from home, and again yesterday, assured that the roads were nasty, and walking on ice sucked. But I'm running out of things I can do remotely. I wanna go in to work. Right now, the street outside my house is again a sheet of ice. I'm gonna wait until it gets brighter outside, then start thinking hard about whether I wanna risk a drive.

If experience serves, the roads are crappy and unsafe for six or so blocks, then they get just crappy, then the highway will be just fine, then the feeders around work will be just crappy, then the parking lot will be crappy and unsafe.

Updates later as I have 'em!

Tuesday, January 6, 2004

More Bogus Weather

I put on the chains this morning and drove down to work. The roads were snowy, but safe. I worked for three or four hours before Ernie pointed out that the snow had turned to freezing rain and if I didn't want to spend the night at work, I should leave. So I drove home. The main roads were fine, but the neighborhood streets were touch and go. I've got DSL, so I was able to work some from home. Then I exercised, and watched the crappy weather outside the window.

I'm hoping the roads will melt enough to let me drive down tomorrow for a full day. Wish us luck, everyone!


At $300, I wasn't ready (yet, anyway) to buy an iPod. I'll just continue to use my laptop for 'portable' music, at least between my office and home. This weekend, Tom, Alan and I were talking about the rumored iPod Mini, and we agreed that at $100-$150, they'd be great. I'd certainly consider getting one at that price and a capacity of one or two gigs.

Now the announcement has been made, and we have this. Nope, $250 is still too much. Come back later when you have something better. If I were ready to spring for $250, I'd scrape together the extra $50 and get 11 gigs more storage. I mean, come one.

Monday, January 5, 2004

Devil May Cry

Devil May Cry is fun, but like most of the skill-based shooters I've tried, is probably going to strand me before I get too far into it. Last night I finished 'Mission 6 - Evil of the Waterways', and saved before getting into 'Mission 7- Holding the Key of Ardor'. Some of the missions are longer than others, but just about all of them crank my heartrate way up, as I try to keep up with the fights. At that point, I've abandoned all hope of strategically applying combos and I'm just mashing buttons. That's a guaranteed way to get your butt handed to you in the advanced levels, so I expect I'll stall out in another two or three levels. Still, it served it's purpose.

Sunday, January 4, 2004

Atom Heart no Himitsu

This is the game that James gave me at the NOVA Christmas party. I've been playing it on and off, and finally got stuck near the end of the first stage (next to last picture, the red-legged robot insect thingy).

So this weekend, James pointed me to the message board on GameFAQs for the game, suggesting I could find hints there. No go. Everybody there just talks about how to find the various hidden characters, and how easy mode is too easy. This is the mode I'm stuck on.

I suppose I could post a message asking for help/hints, but I have to 'work up my courage' as I'm sure all these hard-core guys will snicker at where I got stuck. Oh well.


I picked up Prey for the holidays, and ended up reading it over the four-day weekend I allotted for New Year's Day. It's around 500 pages, but not exactly Wittgenstein.

I was somewhat disappointed in the book, as it sort of violated the implicit contract of a Chrichton techno-thriller (as distinct from some of his departures from the pot-boiler genres). He spends the first chunk of the book, up to page 117, developing his main character via domestic Mr. Mom minutiae, foreshadowing some of the plot elements to come, but mostly boring me to tears with details of the rube's family life. Cut to the chase, Michael! By page 130, we're finally starting the actual ride.

From there, the scientific handwaving that Chrichton is so good at sustained my interest and supressed my disbelief until the very end, when he more or less threw out the rather plausible evolutionary horror for a Frankenstein-monster ooga-booga grand finale. I suppose it will play better on the big screen (all M.C. techno-thrillers read like screen treatments anyway), but I felt let down by the shift from sorta-sci-fi to full-blown fantasy at the last.

Friday, January 2, 2004

iTunes Music Store Purchases

I forgot to share my latest online music purchases. The Christmas songs are all Kelly picks:

  1. A Little Less Conversation - Elvis Presley (dance mix)

  2. A Little Less Conversation - Elvis Presley

  3. All That Jazz - Liza Minnelli

  4. Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen

  5. Death on Two Legs - Queen

  6. Everywhere You Turn - Longwave

  7. Fell in Love with a Girl - White Stripes

  8. Fugue for the Tinhorns - Guys and Dolls (Edward Strauss & New Broadway Cast Recording)

  9. It's Your Thing (Single Version) - The Isley Brothers

  10. Jingle Bell Rock - The Moonglows

  11. Maps - Yeah Yeah Yeahs

  12. Molly's Chambers - Kings of Leon

  13. Mr. Record Man - Willie Nelson

  14. Olio - The Rapture

  15. One of These Days - Pink Floyd

  16. Per Un Pugno Di Dollari (Title Track from "A Fistful of Dollars") - Ennio Morricone

  17. Run Rudolph Run (Single Version) - Chuck Berry

  18. Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving With a Pict - Pink Floyd

  19. Silver Bells - Anne Murray

  20. Silver Bells - The Chipmunks

  21. Sleeping In - The Postal Service

  22. St. James Infirmary Blues - The White Stripes

  23. Stand - R.E.M.

  24. Untitled - Interpol

  25. Violet - Hole

  26. We Used to Be Friends - The Dandy Warhols

  27. We Will Rock You - Queen

  28. You Can't Go Home Again - DJ Shadow