Previously, in Trip's Life...

30 September 2005 - Friday

I spent a big chunk of today helping a cow orker with a project. It was only vaguely what I should have been doing, but it was fairly interesting. It would have taken less time if we had remembered our basic SQL, though.

* * *

Finished Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman. Although it is very likely the same setting as American Gods, it is much lighter, or at least it feels lighter even though some fairly awful things happen to various people. I liked it, but it didn't seem as... something.

* * *

Yay Sailor Moon! There is so much doom!

* * *

I stayed up way way too late reading Wizards at War, the eighth(?) book in Diane Duanes's Wizardry series. Apparently they are still good!

* * *

Writing: FAILURE!

I have no excuse. I just suck.

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29 September 2005 - Thursday

Ahh, the blissful sleeping in until 7:45!

* * *

A fairytale, corrected.

* * *

Thursday is not like Friday, but on the other hand it is also not like Tuesday or Wednesday, which is probably for the best.

* * *

There is a lot more Zenki Saga on this disc than I thought. However, although it does not exploit the potential for suckage available in the premise, it is not sufficiently interesting to make me care. Perhaps anime has moved on in the intervening decades.

* * *

Writing: check.

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28 September 2005 - Wednesday

The advantage of being at work at 8:00 is that I can leave at 16:00. The disadvantage is that I have to be at work at 8:00. Fortunately the person I was supposed to be backing up didn't need my help right away, so I didn't have to be conscious at 8:00.

* * *

Since the past two weeks were pretty comics-light, it wasn't too surprising that this week I had to buy all the comics. On the other hand, this particularly heavy week was only as expensive as a light-to-medium week before the austerity program, so I am getting better.

* * *

Watched episode 9 of Bleach, because what with gonig to Earl & Cat's for Utena tonight, I might not get enough anime, or something. Fortunately 11-20 are almost done downloading, so I won't run out anytime soon.

* * *

Yay Black Rose arc! Yay Chocolate Cake of Molten Death!

I tried thinking about Amber × Utena, but didn't get very far. Oh well.

* * *

Another episode of Zenki Saga before bed. Still enh.

* * *

Writing: check.

Make a comment!

27 September 2005 - Tuesday

Today I wish to be home in a timely fashion, so I have gotten up half an hour earlier than usual. This is an entire hour earlier than yesterday, though, so I am pretty sleepy.

* * *

I like my new Google Mini shirt, but it has high-contrast bits in unusual locations (sleeve, down by the tail/hem/whateveryoucallit), which keep making me think I have dropped light-colored food on myself.

* * *

Somehow we avoided the tendency to flail around for half an hour before going anywhere, and Marith and I successfully parasitized Ayse & Ken's car and prescreening tickets to see Serenity three days before it opens!

Since the tickets weren't guaranteed seating, we were kind of worried about whether we'd get in, but had an emergency back-up sushi plan. However, other geeks are even less organized than we are, so we got our tickets numbered and our seats more or less guaranteed with enough time left over to feast upon the gifts of the Very Fast Panda.

We ran into Megs and Stuart in line, because the Valley is indeed that small. They both seem well.

I didn't like the movie, though it had its moments Ayse, who is from my planet, didn't like it either, and for similar reasons, but Marith and Ken both liked it, so apparently this is something on which tastes differ.

I think I'll stick to putting my spoilers in-line but rot13ed. Separate pages are too much work.

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Evire jnf zhpu orggre nf n perrcl jrveqb jub xarj guvatf fur fubhyqa'g naq pbhyq fubbg crbcyr jvgubhg ybbxvat guna nf n arrawn naq rkcyvpvg gryrcngu.

Bu, ybbx, Cebmnp Xvyyf!GZ

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Gur ragver guvat vf fhccbfrq gb or frg va bar fbyne flfgrz? Abg urycvat gur jbeyq-ohvyqvat gurer.

Gur pyvznk bs gur zbivr vf gur znva ureb naq znva ivyynva univat n svfg-svtug ba gur aba-BFUN-nccebirq pngjnyx bire gur cvg bs juveyvat qrngu? Onu!

Vanen ynlvat jnfgr jvgu n obj?!

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Gubfr onfgneqf! Gurl xvyyrq Jnfu!

Nu, vba pybhqf. Qvq V fnl Fgne Jnef? Znlor V zrnag Fgne Gerx. Naq vs guvf vf nyy fhccbfrq gb or frg va bar fbyne flfgrz, ubj pna lbh uvqr na ragver cynarg? Va n flfgrz gung pebjqrq, lbh'q guvax fbzrbar jbhyq or xrrcvat na nyy-fxl fheirl bhg sbe ebpxf.

Gurl qb trg cbvagf sbe univat gur znthssva or trggvat gur jbeq bhg, vafgrnq bs qrfgeblvat gur Vasreany Qrivpr juvpu vf fbzrubj pbzcyrgryl veercebqhprnoyr. Lbh'q guvax crbcyr znxvat na FS zbivr va 2005 jbhyq or fyvtugyl zber njner gung jung crbcyr frr ba gurve ubybtencuvp GIf pbhyq or snoevpngrq sebz jubyr cvkryf, gubhtu.

This doesn't mean that I'm not sympathetic to Joss's tribulations in making this movie. I understand that it had to be watchable by someone unfamiliar with the TV series, and I hear that Fox wouldn't let him use anything except the main characters, the appearance and name of their ship, and the words "Alliance" and "Reaver". These are both bound to cramp someone's style. I just don't think that his brilliance managed to transcend these limitations.

In trying to do two things, Serenity does neither well, and ends up as a merely adequate action-adventure flick. People from my planet are sad.

* * *

Watched one episode of Zenki Saga, but it was not cool enough to stay up late for. I will finish the disc and then decide whether to rent more, but at the moment it's looking like not (as opposed to Amazing Nurse Nanako, which is "very not").

* * *

Writing: check.

Firefly Worldbuilding by Dave (Wed Sep 28 14:20:43 2005)

Perhaps this is a more Vingeian post-Singularity civilization? The terraforming work was started by the pre-Singularity civilization, and took longer to complete than the Singularity did (so things like domesticated animals were never introduced). The survivors experienced a sudden loss of tech, as they no longer had enough people with the right knowledge to maintain everything. Some individual components managed to continue, which is, for example, why starship engines seem so plug-and-play (and starships can only last as long as the factory making their black box parts doesn't break down). And this is why tech is so hit or miss - it all depends on which factories kept chugging, and for how long.

You could even cast the whole River background as a desperate attempt by the current government to create people capable of reverse engineering the factories, or at least the black boxes they produce. The psionics (or whatever's going on) are a side effect of trying to create a group mind (since no single mind is going to be up to the task).

Yeah, I know, it's not like there was ever any attempt to put something like this into the background, so far as I know. But you could see something like Firefly coming out of it, I think.

Re: Firefly Worldbuilding by Trip (Thu Sep 29 11:00:20 2005)

The only allusion to technological progress I recall from the series is the first edition laser pistol, and that could be explained away as being the first one made by humans after analyzing relics. So sure, this could work!

However, Earl seems to have already created the setting for Space Pirate Zeta.

Make a comment!

26 September 2005 - Monday

I usually get in to work at 9:30, which seems kind of late to me, so when it's Monday and I can't get up and don't get to work until 10:00, I feel extra lame.

* * *

The weekend's tickets are no match for my l33t support sk1llz!

* * *

Still lazy. Accomplished nothing to speak of this evening.

* * *

Writing: check.

Make a comment!

25 September 2005 - Sunday

After staying up too late reading, I stayed in bed too late reading, but I did get through all of Pratchett's latest, Thud! (not as good as Night Watch, but probably as good as Going Postal), and another Scott Westerfeld YA, So Yesterday (also good but not as good as it could have been, but with many fine factoids).

* * *

Watched another three episodes of Bleach while doing laundry. Aside from references to that one difference, it's still following the manga pretty closely.

I have to wonder if anyone has done a paper on the wildly varying modern interpretations of shinigami, such as Bleach, Yami no Matsuei, and Omishi Magical Theater: Risky Safety.

Er, anyone other than wikipedia.

* * *

That was quite some bookstore accident, but then I've been impoverished for a few months. New Pierce! New Nix! New Gaiman! New Carey!

Then I sat at the coffeehouse reading manga and doing crosswords with Marith and Ken and Ayse for a while.

* * *

Ken assembled us some salmon fried rice, and we watched the remaining four episodes of Firefly. Marith wants to beat Inara with sticks, probably at the same point and for the same reason that Kit wants to beat Inara with sticks, but Ayse and I think there is enough unexplained in Inara's background that we can't tell if this particular decision was good or bad (or, more likely, both).

It was all good, though, and now we feel prepared for the movie! Er, except for this whole Neenja River bit. But we'll see.

* * *

Historio-political discussion ensued. Marith fled, leaving me to try to explain that means/intermediate goals are not the same as ends/finals goals. Apparently I cannot communicate the concept of "transition state" to save my life. :(

* * *

Because I am stupid, I stayed up late to watch one more episode of Bleach.

* * *

Writing: check. (Whether it can be usefully read is a separate question, which I will not address here.)

Inara by Kit (Tue Sep 27 09:28:30 2005)

Oh, I'm willing to accept that it was a reasonable in-character decision for her. I think it was. That doesn't mean I don't want to beat her with sticks, is all. :)

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24 September 2005 - Saturday

I stayed in bed forever and ever reading Touching Darkness, the second of Westerfeld's Midnighters trilogy. It didn't have the novelty of the first one, but it was possibly creepier.

Still the best magic power ever, but the PCs aren't making proper use of it. They need a gamer geek.

* * *

Finally I desucked enough to go grocery shopping, so now I have food. I encountered Ayse and Ken at the store, but they declined to plan socialization, since their apartment was invaded yesterday and is scheduled for invasion tomorrow.

* * *

Okay, I've had it with TBG. If I don't care enough to do all the lookups to plan a battle properly, I shouldn't bother at all. No more TBG for me!

* * *

Having nothing better to do, Marith and I went to see The Corpse Bride, which was okay but not great. I think there was scope for the female characters to be less wimpy, even without changing the structure of the story, which was not properly exploited.

The cyanotic, half-skeletal, decaying zombie puppet creature of the title was disturbingly sexy. Eee.

* * *

Yay Bleach! I finally got around to watching the first two of the ten episodes I downloaded, and they were pretty swell. Carl said he liked the anime better than the manga, but so far I've spotted only one significant difference. It's one that could have interesting ramifications in later episodes, though, so I will wait and see what they do with it.

* * *

Writing: check.

Bleach by Carl (Mon Sep 26 20:41:34 2005)

I like the anime better than the manga not because of any difference in the story, but because I like the motion and voices. I also prefer the translation of shinigami as "Death God" rather than "Soul Reaper", possibly just because I like the references to "death god powers" -- which is not to say "Soul Reaper" is in any way a bad translation. I still think "Death God vs. Juice Box" is one of the finest moments in anime, especially for the expression she gets when the boy hitting on her offers to do anything for her.

And second season of Full Metal Alchemist has started on Cartoon Network, introducing the Elric brothers' teacher.

I liked Midnighters #2 a lot, and have preordered #3, out March 1st. I'm sad there are no in Japan, though.

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23 September 2005 - Friday

Bah, there is some sort of special foofooraw at lunch today, so instead of everyone on campus eating in one of several reasonably-well laid-out cafeterias, they are all jammed into a huge mob in one patio.

On the other tentacle, red-bean-filled sesame orbs!

* * *

Yay Firefly! We watched "Out of Gas", "Ariel", and er the one that comes after that. The one with the torture.

Only four more episodes to go!

* * *

Between the Firefly and the discussing why the society in Dogs in the Vineyard is evil, it was almost midnight when I got home. This did not stop me from playing Kingdom of Loathing for another hour.

* * *

Writing: check.

firefly by kit (Sun Sep 25 18:15:45 2005)

The one with the torture is "War Stories". I liked that one. Ok, I liked all of them, but I liked that one too!

Re: firefly by Trip (Sun Sep 25 22:26:22 2005)

I like them all too, although I sympathize with Earl's complaints about the worldbuilding making no sense at all. However, your phrasing makes me think of the mythical radio ad, "Hello, this is God. When I'm in Philadelphia, which is all the time since I'm omnipresent, I like to listen to all the radio stations at once, including WXYZ."

Re: firefly by Dave (Mon Sep 26 09:00:56 2005)

I liked that one because the first mate got to interrupt the villainous rant, and River got to do something besides act like a crazy person. Fortunately for me, I could pretty much completely ignore the worldbuilding in the series, so it never really bugged me.

Re: firefly by Trip (Mon Sep 26 13:49:49 2005)

Yes, that was a good rant interrupt!

The worldbuilding doesn't cause me active pain the way it does Earl. I just realize that there is something that could be contributing but isn't.

What's the aphorism? "In SF, the setting is a character just as important as any of the ones who get lines of dialog."

firefly worldbuilding by kit (Tue Sep 27 09:32:04 2005)

Joss makes a nod toward explaining the worldbuilding in the extras, and mentions he basically never had time in the series to start getting into it. The absolute lack of sense to it was part of what put me off the show in the first place, though there was one bit in the pilot (I think) where they mentioned terraforming planets and then dumping settlers there "with a herd, if they were lucky," which at least helped explain some of the old west slant to it, for me.

Re: firefly worldbuilding by Trip (Tue Sep 27 12:33:17 2005)

But it's not like you can terraform a planet without putting Terran critters on it! And terraforming planets on the timescales they seem to imply takes way more technology than we see anywhere else! And and and!

But Westerns... In... SPAAAAACE is never going to have more than a surface layer of plausability anyway, which is why book writers stopped doing that 50 years ago or more. This is just more evidence for my claim that SF in visual media is still decades behind written SF.

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22 September 2005 - Thursday

Woot! I have an office!

I'm sharing it with someone, of course, and there will probably be a third person in here within a couple of weeks, but it's still better than being the third person wedged into a two-person cube.

Now I don't send Mark rolling across the cube every time I slide my chair back! Now I don't have to forcibly displace Ben's keyboard if I want someplace to set my lunch tray!

* * *

Bleach volume 9 is still weird, but Orihime gets to kick some amount of butt.

* * *

I could have watched some of the Bleach I have downloaded, but in an attempt to do something not computer-related, I instead watched the final discs of Gad Guard and Tenchi Muyo GXP.

Gad Guard: After starting off as an interesting giant robot show, it's ended up something that's more character-oriented, but I'm not sure it really follows well from the beginning. (Admittedly, the huge gap between when I saw disc 5 and when I saw disc 6 probably isn't helping here.) Also, their orbital mechanics is broken. I did like it, just not as much as I was hoping.

Tenchi Muyo GXP: ... Okay, that was a non-standard ending for a harem anime!

* * *

You know, if you just keep digging in the same spot in hopes of having the hint there turn into actual plot, Kingdom of Loathing goes pretty quickly.

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21 September 2005 - Wednesday

Spore should be done downloading Bleach 1-10 sometime the early hours of tomorrow morning, if I don't interrupt the transfer like a dumbass again.

* * *

Yum, tickets.

* * *

Yay, more Bleach manga! And Shojo Beat, which will make Ayse happy!

* * *

Ayse was zooming around buying textbooks and stuff when I got to gaming, so we were reduced to absurd geeking for a while, but eventually she returned and indeed, she was happy with her Shojo Beat.

* * *

The shorts I ordered have arrived! Alas, I am the wrong size for them. But the place I ordered them from lets first-time customers have one free exchange for sizing, so it will all be okay.

* * *

Marith and That Other Chris ditched us, so there were only five PCs to resuce the lizard archaeologist, face down the lizard pack, wander confusedly through ancient flooded subway tunnels (Water is the best Aspect ever! this week.), and try to fight off the wall-through-leaping crocodile mutants!

When the hour forced us to break, we had killed five of the crocodile mutants and wounded the remaining one, but his other half-dozen buddies had just leapt through the wall to menace us.

With Viraine's godawful Essence recovery rate, I think he probably just activates his Ignore Water Penalties power every morning when he gets up. After all, later he might be short on Essence!

* * *

A wise parasite would have gone to bed at a sensible hour.

On the other tentacle, a really truly foolish parasite would have watched the ten episodes of Bleach that finished downloading at midnight, whereas I only stayed up until 00:30 finishing off my KoL for the day. Mmm, fuzzbumps.

I'm only a moderately foolish parasite!

* * *

Writing: check.

Essence Recovery by Dave (Thu Sep 22 14:58:03 2005)

Well, any essence you've spent on a continuing effect won't come back until the effect dies off. So, it doesn't hurt to toss on charms at the beginning of the day, but you'll be down the essence until they wear off. Recovery is mainly about how fast you bounce back after combats and stuff.

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20 September 2005 - Tuesday

No more Talk Like a Pirate Day! Today's journal entry will be less colorful, but easier to write.

* * *

Argh! I am as dumb as something that's not very smart at all! Fortunately spore was able to resume BitTrickling when I woke it up, but those eight hours were completely wasted. Projected completion time is now like Thursday.

* * *

Wheee, tickets.

* * *

Yike, thunder! Wow! I hope spore is okay...

* * *

Having temporarily run out of tickets, I am back to thinking about Antihero. Specifically, I am trying to figure out what to do with characteristics. I can list out everything that you get from buying stats (bonuses to various groups of skills, OCV, DCV, OECV, DECV (if any of those are different from skills), Initiative, Body, Soul, Perception (if that's different from skills)) and group it into chunks that cost either right about 5 or right about 10 points each, if I split the old Dex into Dexterity and Agility (if I don't, Dex costs 20 per point, which is arguably fair for what it gives you, but kind of painful).

The exception to this is Ego. By assigning OCV to Dexterity and DCV to Agility, I can make both of those a reasonable cost, but even if I consider OECV and DECV to be worth less, having both of those plus Soul plus Ego rolls all lumped into one stat makes it awfully expensive. Possibly this is okay, since only mentalists or magicians are going to buy a lot of Ego anyway, and people who just want to resist them will buy levels in DECV. But by making Soul a stat like Body, I'm giving mental combat the same consideration as physical combat, and having one stat for one and three for the other (Dex, Agi, Con) seems wrong. I could move OECV to Presence...

The other thing I could do is not bundle the basic entities at all. If you want to be better at hitting things, buy OCV straight. If you want to be better at Breakfall, Acrobatics, and Climbing, buy a 3-point skill level. Etc. The GM can then define bundles (overlapping or not) so that players don't have to think about each thing separately and forget to buy DCV along with their OCV, or anything silly like that.

* * *

More thunder!

* * *

I still think the first two episodes of Earth Maiden Arjuna are unfair to nuclear power, but on the other hand, the power plant manager is pretty heroic.

The cheesy fansub disc of Full Metal Alchemist that I made works, even though I forgot to take the background pattern title off the menu. The subtitles are right at the edge of the screen, but mostly readable.

* * *

Writing: check.

Make a comment!

19 September 2005 - Monday

Arrr, it be International Talk Like a Pirate Day, matey!

* * *

I be almost to th' end o' Gad Guard -- 6 discs out o' 7, t' be precise. I dinna whether I'd spend me own sweet, sweet pieces o' eight for me very own copy, but it be a fine thing ne'ertheless.

* * *

Me noggin been buzzin' with thoughts about Antihero, but I dinna what shape to put 'em in. Th' whole system o' characteristics an' figured characteristics an' base skill rolls an' all is in sore need o' a good reworkin', but should I just make the scurvy dogs what buys 'em pay for everythin' they be gettin? Or should I break 'em down their very timbers and sell 'em piece by piece? Or somethin' betwixt those two?

Aarr, it be a thorny question, by Blackbeard's sword!

* * *

Me writin' be shipshape, blow me down if it ain't!

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18 September 2005 - Sunday

I stayed up much too late reading The Secret Hour, the first "Midnighters" book by Scott Westerfeld. After the fairly extreme sex and violence and violent sex of Polymorph and Evolution's Darling, I wasn't expecting Westerfeld to end up writing YA fiction, but apparently he is, and not poorly. This one had some bits that were not explained, and in a way that makes it unclear whether it was an actual oversight on the author's part, or something that is supposed to be strange and will be explained later, but the main character has one of the best magic powers ever, which makes up for a lot.

Now I must obtain the second book!

(However, I am still miffed that Westerfeld stole the idea I came up with for the webcomic drawn by my character in Chrisber's Knights of Atlantis game. Darn those subconsciously telepathic writer creatures!)

* * *

Also read this morning (actually, finished this morning; I've been reading it in bits for a long time): Dreaming Cities, the Tri-Stat urban fantasy genre book. It was okay, but it would have been better if R. Sean Borgstrom had written one of the settings.

* * *

After some flailing around to try to get a coherent plan of people and times, I was abducted by Carl and Liralen (who is suddenly in town this week!) and taken to Earl's to play Dogs in the Vineyard.

Dogs is pretty interesting. Things I particularly liked:

  • Group character creation. (Admittedly, we always try to do this, but we almost always fail because we're lame.)
  • The trait from initiation. This is a pretty swell way to establish character before the trauma of the adventure starts. Keeping it to a single conflict is good, though; if it were more, people would probably skip it so as to get to the gaming with their friends. Plus, without this, I would never have given Brother Ethan the trait "Books don't scream".
  • (allegedly) Getting experience from fallout. (I say "allegedly" because I took fallout several times, some of them fairly large numbers of d4s, and got experience once. Stupid dice creatures.) I really like the idea of early setbacks being necessary for later triumph, and this is a pretty good way of implementing that.
  • Being able to use the dice from my large excellent hat to keep the villain from escaping!

Things I didn't like so much:

  • Gaming the dice. Running through the calculations of which dice to raise with so as to make the other guy have to waste dice to see isn't that hard, but it did take me out of character because it doesn't correspond to anything in-character.
  • Voluntarily taking the blow to get fallout. Again, it's a player-level rather than character-level tactical decision.
  • The Dogs are in fact evil. (Sorry, Carl, I'm with Earl on this one.)

Things I'm not sure about:

  • The back-and-forth of the raise-see-raise system. I definitely like it for one-on-one conflicts, but three PCs on one villain lost some of the back-and-forth nature. Perhaps it would have been better if we had gone PC1-V-PC2-V-PC3-V instead of PC1-PC2-PC3-V.
  • Explicitly defining the conflicts in terms of a desired outcome. It does prevent floundering, but again, meta-game factors often come up so there's more out-of-character discussion, and what's decided on might not be what the characters would actually be shooting for. It might also eliminate the possibility of plot twists there, but perhaps that's just a matter of choosing conflicts the Dogs can give on.
  • Relationship dice. They seem like a good idea, but it's not clear how much effect they actually had, except as a category to put fallout results in.

Looking over what I didn't like, it seems that I'm still just not a naturally narrativist gamer. Operating on a story level does require a lot of out-of-character thinking, and there's not really anything to be done about it.

But I definitely had fun, even though I wasted 3d8 of my precious starting trait dice on the almost useless trait "Book Learnin'", which caused me to get knocked out of a conflicts before they were resolved.

Also, Cat's pumpkin cheesecake with bourbon whipped cream was extravagantly delicious.

* * *

Once Brothers Ethan, Boaz, and Seth had defeated the horrible bug-girls and restored health to the community of Spanish Fork, we scuttled off to eat moderately expensive and quite good Japanese food with Marith, Ayse, and Ken so they could adire the Liralen. (The floppy-haired Asia boy waiter was also adired by some of those present.)

Since we didn't start dinner until after 20:00, there was no Adventures of Jehanne & Alaza&iulm;s this week, which made me somewhat sad. Ken pretends he doesn't hate me, though.

* * *

Mmmm, Hell ramen!

I bailed on KoL before using all my adventures, though, and watched the third disc of Wolf's Rain. There were lots of ruins, which made me think about Age of the Black Sun, and how to make a world feel unspeakably ancient and decaying.

* * *

Writing: check.

Dogs, Food, and Floppy Haired Boys by liralen (Thu Oct 13 16:02:47 2005)

Yay! I was glad that you played!! It was fun, and I had wrinkle-nose moments about the out of character mechaniations as well on "how to use the villian's dice"... but three on one shouldn't really be fair to the one anyway.

And given that I am a Creation-centered Christian versus an Authortarian-centered Christian, it's automatic that "Dogs are Evil" as they're pretty much Authority Incarnate. But it's also kind of cool to just see what good one can make of a power situtation if there is any to be had. And intriguing for me to take a few thousand mental steps in that mindframe.

:-)

Fun.

Thank you for helping to make it much fun, too.

And, yes, the Japanese food was very good and the floppy haired waiter boy was very, very cute. :-)

Re: Dogs, Food, and Floppy Haired Boys by Trip (Thu Oct 13 16:40:56 2005)

Only the best gaming and scenery for our Liralen!

Make a comment!

17 September 2005 - Saturday

Finished rereading Bleach 1-4, but I had remembered most of it pretty well.

* * *

Finally, my new glasses! (Actually, they arrived on Thursday, but I haven't had a chance to go pick them up until now.) My prescription doesn't seem to have changed much, but it's nice to have glasses that aren't falling apart and all green with corrosion. The shape of the lenses is more horizontally enlongated than my old ones, so for the first little while my peripheral vision was confused, but I stole a brain and forced it to adapt and now everything is good.

* * *

Because of Carl's comment about the Bleach anime being much better than the Bleach manga, I started BitTorrenting some of it. Or perhaps I shouls say BitTrickling, since I'm getting only 1-3 kB/s downstream when I know my connection can handle 30-35 pretty continuously. It's not for lack of seeds, either, and I'm doing about 2-3 times as much upload as download, so I'm really not too sure what's going on.

Chris hooked me up with a direct feed of the first three episodes, so now my estimated time to completion on the rest of the first ten is down to four days. Yeesh.

* * *

Marith slept instead of going to the coffeeshop, so I didn't go either, so I did not have any bookstore accidents. I guess this is good.

* * *

More fourth-season Buffy! Ethan is so very kickable.

* * *

Writing: check.

Make a comment!

16 September 2005 - Friday

The thought I had on the way home from work turned out to be both useful and not yet implemented (correctly), so now my thingamajigger runs almost as fast as it did before. Now if I just combine my SQL, it will all be glorious!

* * *

There was a lunch meeting to meet the new hire who is going to be our lord and master, but it was in the main cafeteria, and the door to the patio where the loud band was playing stayed open almost the whole time, so I didn't actually hear more than two words after I shook his hand and sat down. Considering that I wasn't officially invited to begin with, obviously I shouldn't have bothered to show up, but I did.

On the other hand, while I ate my sandwich and sulked, I had time to meditate upon Anti-Hero damage systems.

Body and Stun must be on the same scale. In fact, for the most part damage be damage, mon. The only things distinguishing killing damage from normal damage are that killing damage takes a lot longer to go away, and if your total killing damage reaches X, you are mortally wounded in addition to being knocked out.

An attack is not intrinsically killing or normal. Instead, it has a base damage, to which your margin of success on the attack roll is added to determine actual damage (this is just like Feng Shui, yes). If the base damage is higher than the target's resistant Def, then whatever actual damage exceeds the resistant Def is applied as killing damage. If the base damage is not higher than the target's resistant Def but is higher than its normal Def, whatever actual damage exceeds the normal Def is applied as normal damage. If the base damage is lower than the target's normal Def, the attack does no damage, no matter what the actual damage is (though it may still do knockback).

Actually, base damage needs to be split into base damage (what you add to your hit margin) and penetration (what you compare to the target's Def), since you could buy those separately.

This may be somewhat confusing to Hero players, since now resistant and normal Def stack in the opposite fashion, but I think the total number of entities involved in an attack, and the computations necessary to resolve the attack, are no more, and probably lighter because only one roll is involved. Also, no more trying to figure out how much of your total Def applies against the stun on a killing attack.

* * *

Tonight Ken went to SF to pretend to bite people on the neck, so there was watching of Sailor Moon R. We seem to have entered the Death Spiral! Yay!

* * *

Writing: check.

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15 September 2005 - Thursday

Yay! The thingamajigger I wrote at work functions! Now I guess I need to make it a little more accurate and a lot slower...

* * *

One of the few comics I got yesterday was Bleach volume 5, which let me go on to read through volume 8. I still like it, and plan to keep picking it up, but I don't understand why there is allegedly buzz about it being the New Cool Thing After Full Metal Alchemist, which was the New Cool Thing After Revolutionary Girl Utena. Maybe I just haven't gotten to the extra helpings of doom yet.

Clearly I need to get Broog into reviewing manga as well, so my opinions can be properly validated.

* * *

I tried to buy shorts in a real physical store, but they didn't have anything that was near my size. Bah!

Maybe I should be trying to buy shorts from Australia, where it is currently coming on to spring.

* * *

Because I am a huge lamer, I forgot to take the unwanted Texhnolyze discs to the mailbox this morning. Now I won't have any new anime except one disc of Wolf's Rain until at least Monday! The agony! The horror!

* * *

Why I hate D&D tonight:

The effect of air walk is greatly inferior to that of fly (a third to a quarter the speed, affected by winds, no safety net when it's dispelled; maneuverability better in some ways and worse in others), and it has the same duration, range, and targets. If it were an arcane spell, it would be at most 2nd level, probably 1st (since there's a 2nd level spell that gives you 30' flight as one of the many things it can do), but because it's a cleric spell that doesn't heal or give plusses to attack and damage, the level is drastically inflated.

This means that aside from the occasional scroll or wand, there are no air walk-based magic items, because they would cost twice as much as items built with fly (spell level × minimum caster level 28 vs 15) and be much less useful.

This offends me, and not just because I wanted to get Amaryllis some high-heeled pumps of air-walking.

* * *

Writing: check.

Bleach by Carl (Sat Sep 17 02:23:30 2005)

I like the Bleach manga well enough, but really like the anime, so maybe the buzz is over that? But FMA is a strong contender! Maybe next will be Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo although its anime is releasing in the US before Bleach. That's kind of doomful.

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14 September 2005 - Wednesday

The tickets that my cow orkers have been talking about came back today, so I had plenty to do. Not too much, but plenty.

* * *

Two astoundingly light comics weeks in a row. I don't know if this means that next week will be godawful, or that the geek industry is imploding and I will have to find new hobbies.

* * *

I failed to keep my Greencine queue in order, so I have ended up with discs 2 and 3 of Texhnolyze. I watched the first episode to confirm that it's still not interesting, and it's not. Bah.

* * *

Stupid Eddie Bauer! Summer has ended every year that you've been in business, so why are you not better prepared for people who want to get shorts before you stop selling them entirely?

* * *

Writing: check.

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13 September 2005 - Tuesday

On Sunday we considered what to play after Red Room winds up. Adam voted for high fantasy, which was taken under advisement, but then someone pointed out that if everything is better with pirates, and everything is better in space, and everything is better with "zeta" appended, then the ideal game would obviously be SPACE PIRATE ZETA! Whether or not this is true, I'm going to take note of games with support space piracy, in case we want this information later.

Star Wars, of course. Shatterzone is pretty equivalent in genre, but massively out of print. There is apparently a Farscape RPG, but I haven't bought it (yet). I think it's d20-based, but probably anything we pick will be converted to Hero.

Fading Suns probably has space pirates, but it might be mandatory for them to be diabolists or something.

There are definitely space pirates in the Tenchi Muyo RPG! Possibly Dave and I are the only ones who have seen the source material, but that could be corrected. On the other tentacle, the genre is like supers x space pirates, so it might not be different enough from the past few games.

Combining space pirates with Adam's desire for high fantasy gets us Spelljammer, about which I know nothing except that it involves high-level D&D characters with ships that sail between planets.

I think Transhuman Space may have too much real physics for space piracy to be feasible. It's probably all done with computers anyway.

How could I forget Traveller?!

Technically, you could have space pirates in the Dying Earth RPG, if you played in the archmage mode, but it would probably be missing the point one way or another.

TFOS could have space pirates, but it may be excessively silly.

What am I forgetting?

* * *

Space piracy discussion has been spawned in email, so that's all okay. I think.

* * *

Grand finale of ROD the TV! It was pretty grand, although perhaps not entirely final, since it does leave room for future exploits.

After some splooting, we have settled upon Earth Maiden Arjuna as our next series. After that, Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex.

* * *

I hiked down to the bank to deposit my paycheck so that tomorrow I can buy comics. Also clothes. And maybe pay off my debts.

* * *

Writing: check.

Space Pirate Games by Carl (Thu Sep 15 16:31:07 2005)

Just in time for Talk Like a Pirate Day September 19th! ("In space no one can hear you go Arrrr!")

Surprisingly, I'm not going to recommend Dogs in the Vineyard for light hearted space piracy.

It appears you can buy Shatterzone books on Ebay for about a buck a book. Or just use Torg with 2d10 instead of 1d20; the systems are very similar. Torg 1.5 just came out at Gencon.

The Serenity RPG is out now, with mechanics apparently based on Sovereign Stone. (Stats and skills are both rated in dice and you roll and sum them vs. a target number based on difficulty.)

If you're going for swashbuckly space pirate fun perhaps Feng Shui would do the trick.

There's always Star Hero. Even though Gamescape is closed you can always buy direct from Hero Games.

You could wait for "GURPS: Space Pirate Amazon Ninja Catgirl."

Or there's Primetime Adventures although that may be too rules-light for crunchy herofans. Plus I'm unconvinced that emulating TV shows is a good thing.

There's the Cool Robots Big Starships supplement to Big Eyes Small Mouth.

And Star Wars in D6 or D20 versions. I believe West End Games (or someone) has some kind of generic D6 space game as well.

I have no idea if Spaceship Zero supports space pirates, but it has space in it.

I think it would be fun to be space pirates in James Alan Gardner's League of Peoples setting, where you'd have to be careful not to risk killing sentients. Then you could have dangerous insystem pirates that are willing to kill, and therefore are OK to kill back because they're dangerous nonsentients.

Re: Space Pirate Games by Trip (Thu Sep 15 19:26:28 2005)

There is probably about a 90% chance that whatever setting we end up with, we'll be using Hero. We all own in, and it's not like we need to buy supplements or anything. (Sorry, Hero Games.)

I suggested using BESM (aka Tri-Stat) for The Home Front, and no one will ever forgive me. Even after we switched to using positive and negative dice like Feng Shui, instead of the horrible roll-2d8-and-try-to-get-under-a-5-and-then-watch-your-opponent-negate-your-succes-anyway thing it started as, it wasn't that great. Although it would have been better if it had had a real system for limitations on powers.

I think it's West End Games that has the d6 System, which somehow has not yet completely been crushed beneath the D&D juggernaught. I suspect it's very similar to the original Star Wars game, but I don't know for sure.

It's already been established that Space Pirate Amazon Ninja Catgirls have to be run using Monkey, Ninja, Pirate, Robot. :)

Feng Shui is kind of appealing, but it doesn't have anything like metarules (in fact, I think Robin Laws officially disavowed the concept) so we'd have to strip it down to d6-d6 and the initiative system and build up from there. Okay, not quite that bad, but alien abilities, etc, etc.

If I were a space pirate in the League of Peoples universe, I'd quit and get a job. :)

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12 September 2005 - Monday

I suspect Monday would seem less appalling if I had vegetated this past weekend, instead of road-tripping and going to more gaming and sploot.

Stupid extroverts. They get to feel revived after spending all weekend socializing.

That aside, work isn't really too horrible. I can answer most questions, or extract the answer from my cow orkers with relatively little effort.

* * *

Blargh. I should be depositing my paycheck from last week, or doing laundry, or something, but all I feel like doing is sitting here like a lump. Blargh.

* * *

Finally Ayse told me to quit playing Button Men Online and go vegetate, so I did.

Tonight's anime: Virgin Fleet, which is not porn but rather somewhat similar to Sakura Taisen: Japan is under attack, young girls with powerful chi are recruited to defend it, magic ensues. (Not surprising, since apparently it's by the same people.) It is kind of cute, but really not better than okay.

* * *

Fantasy Bedtime Hour.

* * *

Writing: check, although just barely.

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11 September 2005 - Sunday

Lazy parasite! But not too lazy, since I had to get up and catch a bus to get to pre-Red Room brunch by 11:30.

* * *

Adam really needs a more distinctive silhouette.

* * *

Contrary to advertising, we did not all die. In fact, I'm not sure any of the PCs even took body (except maybe Steel, who should be used to it anyway). The evil puppy-strangler has been captured at last, and we are one step closer to unravelling the mystery of the Homozygous Clone Army (and thus to reaching the end of the campaign).

* * *

Marith parasitized my DVD player to catch up on ROD the TV, but I didn't have to be social, so it was okay. She squacked satisfyingly, and I worked on yesterday's game writeup.

* * *

After watching the first two episodes of Gantz, the cover blurb about how it shocked Japan seems less hyperbolic. The credits give some hope that the least sympathetic characters will get weeded out, and probably soon. I may watch more, to find out about the mysterious mystery.

No body! by Jeremy (Tue Sep 13 14:23:53 2005)

Steel actually took no body! I think Earl must be slipping. He did nearly turn to the dark side, but decided that the lack of witnesses wasn't a good enough excuse. Good thing I checked his psych lims - I briefly thought he had to do it, which would have been squicky.

Re: No body! by Trip (Tue Sep 13 14:38:48 2005)

Maybe he'll take double Body next time, as divine retribution for his moral weakness. Or just because.

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10 September 2005 - Saturday

We got a later start than planned, but still made it to Roseville before noon. Unfortunately, somewhere on the 80 we got a call from Dave, who had utterly failed to meet up with Harold and was stuck in the middle of SF with no gaming. This made us very sad, but there wasn't much we could do about it.

When we got to Roseville, we got the magic number to call Harold, who fortunately had not spent forever trying to find Dave, so we were able to begin gaming in good time.

Because Dave is a good sport, he emailed us his character sheet so Ayse could play Alyra, or play Dave playing Alyra in...

Amazon Quintet of Justice Xb: "Though I Walk Through the Valley of Death, I Shall Not Fear, For I Have Protection From Evil, 10' Radius"

Amaryllis lurks across the street from the temple of Hextor to see if the Cutest Evil Monk (Shinbo by name) will come back out, but he doesn't, so she goes to gather information in bars, and learns that the right-hand-man of the High Priest of Hextor, who is Dreamy, went off to retrieve a stolen sacred item a couple of months ago, which is presumably when Amaryllis met him. However, there hasn't been any unusual activity since then.

The next morning, Amaryllis goes to the temple and asks to meet Shinbo. Apparently he remembers their dinner in Tigris fondly, because he gives her lunch and they spend the afternoon in dalliance, but he is not convinced that the world actually needs saving.

In the meantime, Fresa is fossicking around in libraries full of dwarves, attempting to find more pieces of the Prophecy of Avalon. She does learn that bringing Avalon and the Imminent God back into time requires shedding the blood of Avalon, and gets the dwarvish librarian to spread the word about Avalon needing allies among his people.

Marika's investigation into the caravans that have been raided reveals that they were both carrying weapons for someone named Derwin, who normally trades in foodstuffs. Furthermore, shortly before he made the first order for weapons, Derwin took on a couple of new partners, who no one had seen around Newburg before. Finally, she learns the next caravan for Derwin is due to arrive in a week or so, which means that if it's on schedule, it will be passing the spot where the burned-out caravan was found in a day or two.

The Amazons agree that going to guard the caravan as it passes through the presumed danger zone is the thing to do, but it would be nice to have some more information, so they pay Derwin a visit to check him for mental domination by his mysterious new partners. He isn't mind-controlled, but the two suspiciously nondescript gentlemen who pay him a call as Our Heroines are on their way out radiate moderately-strong transmutation magic. Her suspicions piqued, Amaryllis dispells the magic on one, who turns into a yuan-ti abomination! There is a brief, inconclusive fight which ends when the two yuan-ti teleport away. Derwin has scarpered, but Amaryllis scries to learn that he is busy packing his bags at his home.

When confronted, Derwin tries to flee, claiming that his wife and children will be killed if the yuan-ti learn he's spoken to the Amazons. They calm him down, though, and prepare to go rescue his family before dealling with the caravan raiders (if the two are different). Sadly, both the yuan-ti and Derwin's family are in magically-dark places, but Amaryllis's magical skills are so great that she can target Fresa's spell on that location anyway. Our Heroines transform into cloud-stuff and set out!

As they cross the valley where the caravans had been attacked, the Amazons see a small cluster of campfires. The magic trail leads on past them, but the wind-walking spell prematurely cuts out and they drift to the ground near the fires. Fresa confirms with Moradin that this is where the Amazons are supposed to be, so they introduce themselves to the nervous caravaneers and set up watch.

Late that night, Alyra spots enemies approaching: three half-dragon yuan-ti abominations flapping through the darkness, and a handful of lesser snake-monsters slithering out of the forest!

The yuan-ti, especially the flying, fire-breathing ones, are tough opponents, and Amaryllis and Alyra are both severely wounded, but one of the fliers is confused by Gabrielle's magic and another is stripped of his magical enhancements by Amaryllis, while Gabrielle and Alyra get the third on the ground and kill it in face-to-maw combat. The lesser yuan-ti are quickly disposed of (one by its confused superior, two by Fresa, and one disabled but kept alive for questioning) and the remaining two fliers are eventually brought down. Success! And none of the foe escaped to report to their dark masters!

* * *

Level UP! Well, for some characters, anyway.

It's too bad none of the 7th level sorcerer/wizard spells are deeply thrilling.

Al and Sherilyn fed us Thai food and pizza (but not Thai pizza), just in case the immense quantity of snack food they had provided wasn't enough, and then we left for home.

Ayse claimed to have had fun, and is thinking about making a character to join the Amazons.

* * *

On the way home, the car was full of stuffed animals dancing to quasi-punk covers of 60s and 70s songs, because our road trips are better than those of other people.

* * *

Writing: check.

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9 September 2005 - Friday

Yay Friday!

* * *

When I got in to work, the first two things in my inbox were messages from customers saying "No, you're right, the Google Mini isn't the problem here, thanks, bye". Hah!

* * *

Today's strange manga: volume one of The Monkey King by Katsuya Terada. It's like Journey to the West done by Royo, with an afterword on Buddhism and kanji. If you like that sort of thing, it's the sort of thing you might like.

* * *

Tonight I watched Tenchi Muyo GXP. It is still silly.

* * *

Writing: check.

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8 September 2005 - Thursday

Today is logical Wednesday, or something. But it still seems like a long time until Friday.

* * *

Wow, lightest comics day ever.

* * *

Today's Kingdom of Loathing, if not quite as noshalicious as yesterday, was still pretty good. I scored a bunch of olives, which hopefully will be converted into tasty cocktails for me to drink.

* * *

I could have watched Tenchi Muyo GXP, but instead I watched Farscape. Eee, planet of lawyers!

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7 September 2005 - Wednesday

I really need to kick my coconut-toffee peanut habit. They are so very bad for me, even if individually they are very small.

* * *

Despite Marith and that Chris not showing up, we played Dragonblooded. Subways were explored, elementals were summoned, eight-legged supertigers were hunted, and lizardmen were almost rescued. Yay us.

* * *

Wow, I had forgotten how good high-level cocktails and food are in Kingdom of Loathing! My basic daily allotment of adventures is 47, but I did over a hundred, maybe 120, tonight, just from eating and drinking.

Purple pixel pies for everyone!

* * *

Writing: check.

Make a comment!

6 September 2005 - Tuesday

Back to the ticket mines! Or maybe it's the ticket plantations, because we don't have to dig tickets up; they just appear by natural processes. Anyway, there aren't too many of them, although Ben keeps saying this is an unnatural slump and there will be a flood any day now.

I suppose eventually I should 'fess up that I'm using my Vast Psychic Powers to keep customers from figuring out how to send email to support.

* * *

Marith blew us off for anime again, so I randomly rearranged that schedule. That'll show her!

With only two episodes left, ROD the TV suddenly takes a sharp left turn! Squack!

* * *

Writing: check.

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5 September 2005 - Monday

Yay brunch! Yay french toast! (Which is not actually too bad for parasites if it's not drowned in fast-absorption liquid sugar syrup.) Yay bacon! No mimosas for me, but other people seemed to enjoy them.

Marith and Dave exploded after eating, but I stayed to play Knights and Monkeys of Cataan with Ayse and Ken and Ken's sister Jamie and Jamie's boyfriend Dan. I felt very oppressed for the whole game, although I probably wasn't actually worse than fourth out of five at the end. Dan won, because Ken enjoyed a few mimosas.

* * *

Marith came over to pillage my chicken strips and watch fourth-season Buffy. We got up through "Hush", which is still creepy, although I think my plan would have worked fine. Hmph.

* * *

After a short break to use up all my Kingdom of Loathing, I watched an entire disc of Spiral. It's not like I have to work tomorr-- Oops.

* * *

Writing: check.

Hush by marith (Wed Sep 7 00:20:27 2005)

What was your plan? Inquiring minds want to know!

Re: Hush by Trip (Wed Sep 7 13:51:37 2005)

I will use my l33t Usenet skills to conceal this spoiler! Zl pyrire cyna jnf gb unir bar bs gur znal crbcyr jvgu fhcrecbjref pebff gur dhnenagvar yvar naq trg fbzrbar jub unfa'g unq gurve ibvpr fgbyra gb pbzr naq fpernz. Bs pbhefr guvf cebzbgrf pbbcrengvba vafgrnq bs ybar-urebvfz, fb jr fubhyqa'g rkcrpg gb frr vg ba GI.

Re: clever plan by Marith (Wed Sep 7 16:00:11 2005)

Gung pregnvayl frrzf yvxr vg jbhyq unir jbexrq! Bs pbhefr, vg urycrq gb svaq gur ynve bs gur onq thlf fb nf gb or noyr gb fpernz ng nyy bs gurz ng bapr, ohg gurl pbhyq unir orra oevatvat va gur fpernzre va gur zrnagvzr. V org Naln pbhyq trg guebhtu dhnenagvar yvarf.

Nyfb, vg frrzrq yvxr rirelbar va gur pnfg jnf ernyyl haareirq naq abg ng gur gbc bs gurve tnzr. (Puvyyvat Ubeebe nggnpx, -2 gb nyy fgngf naq fxvyyf?)

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4 September 2005 - Sunday

I seem to have spent the morning finishing rereading Love Hina. This is the third time I've read it, and I still like it. Apparently either it's actually good, or I'm shallow and have no taste. The rant in favor of LH in the recent Comics Journal notwithstanding, one of these possibilities is vastly more likely than the other.

In case there was still doubt, I then went on to reread both existing issues of School Bites, which is about er vampires. Teenaged girl vampires. And it's pink.

* * *

More nethack. I still suck, and I still miss the interface not having to ask which thing you mean when there's only one possibility.

* * *

Adventures of Jehanne & Alazaïs!

I still suck at playing a talker character, but we managed to get out of the kobold lair and get our horses back without having to fight. Then we got back to town and our underworld contact, Dryden, roped us into a vampire/invisible stalker hunt. Since these vampires sounded like the ones that mugged us in Thrushton, we were up for that. It was a pretty straight-forward fight, since we got to prepare for it, but that probably means that we haven't really defeated the vampires. Nevertheless, unless they show back up right away, we are probably going to Dwarf Central before they return. Then we will come back with ph4t l3wts of magical smiting!

* * *

Yay more Spiral!

* * *

Writing: FAILURE.

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3 September 2005 - Saturday

Since I won zangband, I need a new time sink, so I downloaded nethack (it took two tries to get a version that wasn't some sort of hacked-together-pesudoGUI, but I presevered) and spent most of the day playing it. Wow, it's a lot harder. And although it's got about 23234592 times as many things to find in the dungeon, the interface in some ways is more primitive. Sure, some of it is that I'm not used to it, but I still miss things like auto-opening doors when moving on to them and auto-doffing old armor when putting on new armor. Ah well.

* * *

In the afternoon, Marith took a break from thinking about her paper and we went to see Sky High. I won't claim it was a good movie, but it was pretty entertaining, and did have the feel of an 80s superhero comic, including a ridiculous number of improbably-attractive female characters. And a Villainous Plan! With Backstory!

* * *

Finally I stopped playing nethack and Kingdom of Loathing and watched some more Spiral, which continues to be cool. Brain vs Brain in open combat!

* * *

Writing: check.

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2 September 2005 - Friday

Yay Friday!

Today I learned a little bit about XML and XSLT. Not much, but enough to tell customers the shape of their doom.

* * *

The alternate-Friday Sailor Moon plan fell through because Ken didn't feel up to driving to SF to LARP, so we just flopped around and watched an episode of Yes Prime Minister. But it was fun! Friends are good that way.

* * *

Writing: check.

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1 September 2005 - Thursday

I did some work. Then I did some more work. Then I pointed out flaws in someone else's work. Then I did some work for someone else. Then I went home.

The problem I found yesterday turns out to be a known issue. Fortunately it also has a known solution, although not an ideal one.

* * *

I have nothing to say about New Orleans. It's all been said already.

* * *

Look! Biology powers!

* * *

Marith came over and watched the last disc of Saiyuki with me. It was a pretty good ending to that sub-arc, although the main arc continues in Saiyuki Reload.

* * *

I read a comic called Emily the Strange. Oddly, it was not about anyone I know.

* * *

Writing: check.

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