Previously, in Trip's Life...

28 February 2011 - Monday

Work: Check. The cluster I installed on Friday still works, but everyone else is breaking their clusters.

Massively-Multiplayer Online Entertainments: Zmorcia beat up a bunch more trolls, who all appeared to be fond of silk. Fortunately, she knows someone who can make stuff with cloth.

Cats: I have successfully made an appointment for them to be horribly oppressed on Saturday at 16:00. It will be the very opposite of tuna.

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27 February 2011 - Sunday

Work: Bah, more customers.

Gaming: No PAD&D4, because Jeremy and Rachel are out of town.

Massively-Multiplayer Online Entertainments: Daphona is still the lamest werewolf ever, or maybe the lamest rogue ever. Maybe both. Apparently the other people in the instance could have four-manned it, though.

Zmorcia is successfully beating up trolls and setting their religious artifacts on fire in the Hinterlands, because the dwarves told her it was a good idea.

Visual Entertainments: Finished the third disc of Air, which claims to be the end, and looks like an end (not a terribly happy one, but nevertheless an end), but I know there's a fourth disc because I have it.

Cats: Oh no, cat soap opera! Aspen was curled up on the bed with Ghirardelli while Marmalade was all by himself on the folded blankets!

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26 February 2011 - Saturday

Work: Bah, customers.

Textual Entertainments: Bangkok Haunts (John Burdett) is third in the series that started with Bangkok 8, and probably the weirdest one. Does it cross the line into the horror genre? Probably not...

Massively-Multiplayer Online Entertainments: Zmorcia freed the imprisoned elemental princess, which went about as well as you'd expect, and made some forays into Stromgarde to crush the Syndicate and their ogre goons. Then she made three runs into Arathi Basin battleground to do a quest, on which she died 8, 6, and 6 times, and killed 2, 3, and 5 slimy Horde-weasels. I guess that's good?

That was pretty much all the quests in the Arathi Highlands, so she must find somewhere better. Like the Hinterlands!

Cats: Cats are extra-snuggly when it's cold!

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25 February 2011 - Friday

Work: What was supposed to be a one-hour Webex meeting turned into a five-hour marathon, but it wasn't my fault! Once the customer found which machines their IT had allocated to them and got the machines configured properly, it took less than an hour to install our software. They seemed happy anyway.

Massively-Multiplayer Online Entertainments: Daphona and R— are now level 17 and have escaped the worgen starting area for the bright dim lights of Darnassus!

Cats: Twelve paws!

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24 February 2011 - Thursday

Work: Check. Stupid *stupid* VPN creatures.

Textual Educations: The Song of the Dodo (David Quammen) is subtitled, "Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinctions", and that pretty much covers it. Quammen discusses the history and development of island biogeography from Wallace (you know, the guy who came up with the theory of evolution) through the present day's understanding that any isolated area is subject to the same effects, and his visits to many islands (both water-surrounded and otherwise) where examples have taken place in historical time, or are taking place right now. It's not what you would call a cheerful book (what biology book could be, given that we're in the middle of a Great Extinction?), but there is definitely hope. Even species down to half a dozen survivors can be saved, if only humans can stop sucking long enough.

Food: The vegetarian meat from Garden Fresh was really very meat-like. If Marith had been there and we hadn't told her it was made from mushrooms and tofu and such, she would probably have eaten it. (She would also have kicked us all in the head when she found out.)

Visual Entertainments: Slayers Try 13-14. Ka-BOOOM!

Gaming: On the way back from Monkeycatland, Dave and I talked about how to make Rachel's character less frustrating. However, there don't seem to be many more plusses available for attack rolls. Superior Implement Proficiency for an accurate implement (+1), and at level 12 I could conceivably hand out a +4 magic widget as loot (+1 over what she has now), but then what?

Cats: I oppressed Aspen so much by chasing her into the kitchen and trying to touch her when she hid under the computer tables!

alleviatingfrustration by Graydon (Sat Feb 26 16:17:39 2011)

Is this "character can never hit anything despite supposedly being designed for that purpose", "character shouldn't try to hit things, really, but player really _likes_ hitting things", "character is constantly in circumstances where the things they would be good at hitting are not present", or "Rachael is one of those people who has a lamentable effect on dice"?

1 is sometimes fixable by adding in the missing skill, specialization, etc. but it doesn't sound like that's the case. Sometimes it's fixable by providing the player with pointers for purposes of tactical ept with that character "ranged attacks are more effective when..." sorts of things.

2 isn't fixable, and one often has to give the player a more suitable character or a large and ferocious dependent (I once ran a game in which the pacifist descendant of a noted berserker wound up with a hell hound that was determined to guard him, because _something_ sure needed to guard him) to take on the walloping-foemen role

3 is a "let's provide an encounter with something Rachael's character is good at hitting" sort of thing, but that can play havoc with campaign structure and doesn't really address the general frustration. One might choose to retcon the thing the character is good at hitting?

4 can sometimes be dealt with by reversing that person's dice rolling; 20 is 1 and 1 is 20. Sometimes they start rolling strings of 20s when before they were rolling strings of 1s and one gets tempted to bring out the Rhine cards.

The other possibility is to take the RuneQuest approach, where everybody knows buff spells, and provide an item, supply of potions, ability, etc. along those lines so that the character has a resource-limited ability to get much better at hitting stuff, but that can be surprisingly distorting in games where it's not general.

What _kind_ of character is Rachael's character? is this character by chance less intensely specialized than the other characters? Or not specialized for melee combat in company with characters who are?

Re: alleviating frustration by Trip (Sun Feb 27 11:43:44 2011)

It's pretty much entirely #4. The character design seems fine, Rachel's tactical decisions are fine, the d20 just acts like a d6 when she rolls it.

I've been going through feats and items, but D&D4 doesn't provide a whole lot of bonuses to hit. I could add some, of course, but that does risk distorting things.

My experience has been that the dice know when you're trying to pull a fast one on them and are not amused, but it might be worth a try anyway.

the evils of randomness by Graydon (Sun Feb 27 16:40:10 2011)

It's entirely possible for plastic dice to be distorted/biased. I'd be looking at having Rachael use different dice, and/or something electronic, or, in a pinch, best of two rolls. (Since that should shift the average up a reasonable but not insane amount.)

Re: the evils of randomness by Trip (Mon Feb 28 09:02:42 2011)

I think she already tried switching dice, but there must be a dice rolling app for the iPad! (Probably several, although one would like to think that they all produce the same distributions.)

Re: the evils of randomness by Rachel (Mon Feb 28 14:44:59 2011)

Yeah, I've tried all sorts of dice, and tricks, and they really just don't like me. I could try a dice rolling app just to vary things, but I vaguely remember having tried that before and having been annoyed.

What I really need is lots of ability to reroll. If I can only take a single action on my turn, I roll the die once, roll a 2, and I'm done until my turn comes around again five minutes later. I'm happier if I can do several other things, such that if I roll well one in four times (which may be optimistic), that still means something I do will succeed or be useful.

All that said, I haven't actually tried to rewrite the character yet, because Jeremy said he'd sign up for a D&D online account, and didn't. So I'll do that this week, poke around, and see if I can come up with some alternatives before Sunday.

Re: the evils of randomness by Trip (Tue Mar 1 08:12:03 2011)

It would be easy to make a dice-rolling program that just took several (N? N²?) copies of the numbers 1 through 20 and shuffled them up. It could still return the low numbers when it really mattered, but at least it would have to return the high numbers sometimes.

emulation of bones by Graydon (Tue Mar 1 16:26:58 2011)

I know of (though I have never played in) groups with a house rule that you roll five or 10 or sometimes more numbers, record them, and then use them in player choice order. That would not be especially difficult to construct as a dice-rolling program, I don't believe, and it might allow collection of statistics to determine precisely how much the dice do not like Rachael.

Re: emulation of bones by Trip (Tue Mar 1 17:22:08 2011)

That could work, or some variant like everyone rolls ten numbers, all the numbers get put into a list, and everyone gets a copy of the list. Less informative, but more fair.

"The Emulation of Bones" sounds like a story by... Liz Williams? Nina Kiriki Hoffman?

Feats by Ken (Wed Mar 2 18:20:17 2011)

If I recall she's a warlock? There's a feat that grants rerolls on encounter powers if you take a bit of damage. There are a few powers other people can take to grant rerolls to their buddies, and there's a 6th level warlock utility that grants a reroll to anything, once per day.

Another option, based on her comment, is a class with lots of multi-attacks. With rangers you pretty much always get to do two attack rolls, sorcerers often get a whole bunch, same with barbarians if you build them that way. And there's always the Avenger, the class whose striker power is "You roll to hit twice".

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23 February 2011 - Wednesday

Work: Check.

Massively-Multiplayer Online Entertainments: Zmo has beaten up a lot of kobolds (level 29 kobolds! truly heroes among kobold-kind!) and gotten closer to freeing the trapped elemental princess thing. Surely that won't precipitate a huge disaster that forces her to flee to the higher-level zone to the north.

Still level 33. But she's still cute!

Cats: Twelve paws!

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22 February 2011 - Tuesday

Work: Check. The duct tape has not yet peeled off of Customer X's cluster that I patched back together yesterday.

Gaming: Apparently, in D&D4 as written, a character with speed 6 can run 6 squares, run 3 squares and climb 3 squares, swim 3 squares and run 3 squares, or even swim 3 squares and climb 3 squares... but can't climb 6 squares or swim 6 squares. Someone call Murphy's rules.

Visual Entertainments:

  • Haruhi II 4-5: We didn't expect that!
  • Ef - A Tale of Melodies 7: It's hard to rescue someone who won't cooperate.
  • Death Note 1-2: They skipped right over the whole Light descending into madness phase from the manga and went right to Light vs L, with no doubt as to who to root for. (Not only is Light a grotty little psychopath, he lacks vision.)
  • Darker Than Black II 9: I should probably have seen that coming more then five seconds ahead.

Food: Last time we got a medium from Pizza My Heart, I did not end up sufficiently full because their pizza is rather thin. This time I ordered a large and we had half the pizza left over. Sheesh. Fortunately, excess pizza can always find a good home.

Cats: Twelve paws!

five seconds ahead by kit (Mon Feb 28 06:03:21 2011)

I am reminded of watching HERO, where it only struck me about fifteen seconds before it All Went Horribly Wrong that this movie was not going to end happily. :)

Re: five seconds ahead by Trip (Mon Feb 28 08:13:16 2011)

Yes, much like that!

Re: five seconds ahead by kit (Tue Mar 8 01:51:25 2011)

I felt pretty silly for not realizing it earlier. :)

Re: five seconds ahead by Trip (Tue Mar 8 08:10:29 2011)

It's because I was so engrossed in the work as it unfolded that I had no attention to spare for where it might be going next. Yah, that's it.

Re: five seconds ahead by marith (Tue Mar 8 10:16:07 2011)

Trip and Kit are clearly the ideal viewing audience, the kind every director wants! They should be invited to more premieres.

Re: five seconds ahead by Trip (Wed Mar 9 11:17:42 2011)

When you say that, it doesn't sound like a compliment...

Re: five seconds ahead by kit (Fri Mar 11 04:49:57 2011)

yeah, what Trip said. O.O :)

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21 February 2011 - Monday

Respiratory Slime: Still present, but significantly below peak levels. (The great catastrophe that brought down the mighty civilization of the Elder Things: Peak Slime?)

Work: Check. But at least I get a comp day to be named later in exchange for working on President's Day.

After much struggle (which could have been much less struggle if I were smarter), I got Customer X's cluster back into service at the end of the day. They seem happy.

Textual Entertainments: What Distant Deeps, Nth in David Drake's "RCN" series, which is Wooden Ships/Iron Men crossed with Roman military history.... INNNN SPAAAAACE! With bonus killer librarian. This episode, a client allied state of the PC's empire Republic gets ideas and must be crushed with tactics and plasma cannon.

Maybe it was in previous books and I just didn't notice it as much, but it seemed like there was an awful lot of Adele thinking about how she's different than other people. A character's internal monologue might technically count as showing rather than telling, but I think it misses the spirit.

Massively-Multiplayer Online Entertainments: Only an hour! ...ish. Zmo died once when four orc goons piled onto her during an escort quest, but only because I was too dumb to use Hand of Protection and heal up.

Level 33!

Cats: Beautiful Miss Aspen deigned to be admired by Marith, who felt appropriately honored.

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20 February 2011 - Sunday

Work: I checked that the test backup produced results that substatially resembled the original and then Customer X kicked off the backup of all the remaining nodes. This will take hours and hours, so unless something explodes, I won't need to take any action until tomorrow.

Massively-Multiplayer Online Entertainments: On Marith's advice, I sent Zmorcia to the Arathi Highlands, which are almost the level she was recently, and allegedly full of iron deposits. The quest at the broken dwarven bridge on the border was buggy and the master villain never showed up to meet his fate, but there have been many other rewarding quests. (I think the area is still below her level, though, since the only time Zmo has died was when I went to show a guest to the door and left her standing on the beach that turned out to not be outside the nagas' range.)

I'm not sure about this quest marked (PvP), though. Or this battleground thing.

Level 32!

Cats: Miau miau miau!

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19 February 2011 - Saturday

Work: Argh! Customer X was cruelly betrayed by Other Vendor Y, whose computing services turned out to have all the solidity and constancy of the cloud they're named for. They were able to save enough system data that it's probably possible to reconstruct the cluster, but not enough to make it easy, and they're running a very old version of the product that we don't even keep installers around for anymore. Fortunately New Boss G (formerly L33t Cow Orker G) had a copy still saved from when he set up Customer X mumblety aeons ago, so I didn't really have to make anyone from Engineering stop having a life to rebuild it. Even after that, however, I had to get the customer to back up their user data in case the reconstruction goes horribly horribly wrong, so they're running the test of that overnight.

Gaming: I told the people who are not lame like me that they should go ahead and play Thrace anyway, but instead they played Dominion. Hmph.

Textual Educations: Foundations of Mechanical Accuracy (Wayne R Moore) is about making mechanical devices accurate in four ways — flatness and straightness, accuracy of length, accuracy of angles, and roundness — to the state of the art in 1970. The author's interest stemmed from having a company that made very accurate mechanical devices, but it seemed like he a did a good job of explaining what the techniques used in the industry were, why the ones his company chose were the best, and why the others were not best, with some history of how the techniques (especially length measurement) developed over time. The best-performing techniques of 1970 involved a lot of skilled manual labor to implement, but they could get results down to hundred-thousands of an inch, which is a really really small distance. At that level, you can't even touch the workpiece with your hands or the heat of your skin will distort it significantly.

It would be interesting to see a similar book from the current tech level, but I don't know of one.

Additional Textual Educations: Good and Real (Gary L Drescher) hurt my brain. I followed it as far as his argument that the Copenhagen interpretation is bunk (there is no such thing as a wave-function collapse, the idea was invented by people who were scared of what the physics was actually telling them), but then he went off into "acausal means-end relations" and I completely lost the thread. You should be good because you want to live in a universe in which people are good, even though your being good has no causal effect on whether anyone else is good? I dunno, man. I'll give Drescher the benefit of the doubt and assume there's really something there, but I don't get it. I can't recommend this book to anyone who isn't smarter than me, but fortunately that still leaves it with a wide potential readership.

Massively-Multiplayer Online Entertainments: I spent most of the day waiting for Customer X to report the next bit of information from Other Vendor Y's investigation, so I never knew if it would be safe to fire up WoW. It turned out there were some idle periods long enough that I could have done something, but of course I didn't know that until too late.

Food: Ken made us burgers. We nommed them with great nommage. We did not share them with the cats.

Cats: Marmalade and Ghirardelli very kindly tried to help me with work.

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18 February 2011 - Friday

Work: Check.

Textual Entertainments: I found the other story about the characters of "Beyond the Sea-Gate of the Scholar-Pirates of Sarskoë", Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz Go to War Again. It is also pretty swell, although lacking in pirates.

Massively-Multiplayer Online Entertainments: Zmorcia now has a Lovely Red Dress™, which may be even more lovely than the LPD™, and an accomplishment for delivering charm bracelets to all four Alliance leaders. However, she has not found the site of the next step of the paladin quest chain, and it is becoming increasingly irrelevent. Bah!

Cats: Twelve furry paws!

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17 February 2011 - Thursday

Work: Check.

Textual Entertainments: Fast Ships, Black Sails (ed Ann & Jeff VanderMeer) is an anthology of pirate stories. SF pirates, fantasy pirates, alternate-history pirates, horror pirates, historical pirates, space pirates, air pirates, ice pirates, tall-tale pirates, surreal pirates, rat pirates, Lovecraftian pirates, and more! My favorite stories: "Boojum" (Elizabeth Bear, Sarah Monette), "Araminta, or the Wreck of the Amphidrake" (Naomi Novik), and "Beyond the Sea-Gate of the Scholar-Pirates of Sarskoë" (Garth Nix). I'd read the first two before, but the Nix was new to me, and pretty swell.

I'll be over here in the corner of people who can't write and have no ideas anyway.

Food: With great efficiency, we got takeout from Shezan in downtown MV. Overall it was good, although the chicken korma was kind of endoskeletal for my tastes. Marith would have died if she had tried to eat any of it, though.

Visual Entertainments: Slayers Try 11-12. Go fox-guy!

Massively-Multiplayer Online Entertainments: Zmorcia had to run up and down that stupid ramp three times, but now she has a Lovely Purple Dress™. Fortunately, draenai paladins don't have to dress modestly (except as practicality demands).

Cats: Twelve paws!

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16 February 2011 - Wednesday

Modern Medicine: Despite the use of Brain Inflation Technology, I am the sleepiest parasite ever.

Work: Check.

Massively-Multiplayer Online Entertainments: Zmorcia returned to civilization, or at least Stormwind (which has calmed down some) and managed to get her ore smelted and some jewelry created. Jewelcrafting seems difficult to advance in, since it takes so much work to get the raw materials, but Zmo will make it to level 100 sooner or later! Also she ran all over the world to give Lovely Charm Bracelets to three Alliance leaders. If the event goes on long enough, perhaps she will visit more capitals.

Cats: Twelve paws!

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15 February 2011 - Tuesday

Modern Medicine: Hurry for brain inflation!

Work: Still only intermittently capable of intelligible speech, and that interrupted by horrible gurgly coughing. However, this is because my lungs are finally evicting the gooey invaders, so I can put up with it.

Sequential Entertainments: Now I am all caught up on Yotsuba&! again! I wonder when volume 10 will be out...

Visual Entertainments: The triumphant return of Tuesday Night Anime!

  • Bakemonogatari 14-15: That was a pretty satisfying ending.
  • Ef - A Tale of Melodies 6: I think Yuuko needs to hop over to the next series and get some lessons from Hei.
  • Darker Than Black II 7-8: I suspect that's really even worse than it seems.

Next time, we will remember to get the Haruhi DVDs back!

Cats: In order: Miau! Miau! Stop looking at me!

Yotsuba 10 due 10/25 by Carl (Thu Mar 3 01:17:24 2011)

Yotsuba 10 should be out October 25th, according to Yen Press.

Re: Yotsuba 10 due 10/25 by Trip (Thu Mar 3 13:33:49 2011)

That is much too long from now!

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14 February 2011 - Monday

Modern Medicine: I finally have enough airflow that I'm willing to try the brain inflator again.

Work: Check, although it was kind of embarrassing to lose the power of speech during a phone meeting.

Silly Computer Games: Zmorcia has pretty much cleaned out the Heart of Darkness wannabes, who were considerately hiding in a cave full of tin veins. Level 28!

Based on Zmo's posture, having hooves seems to be like wearing high heels all the time (not surprising if you look at the structure of the lower leg). Also, this.

Cats: I tried the cat-beasts on tuna flakes, but I'm not sure anyone except Ghirardelli was really interested. They might be too dry to smell like food.

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13 February 2011 - Sunday

Modern Medicine: Still too snotariffic to use the brain inflator, but I have hopes that the stuff the pharmacist recommended will fix that soon.

Gaming: It was looking bad for a bit there, but the PCs managed to drive off High Priestess Resaki and her angels before they could carry away the rock to drop it in the lake. I don't know what their problem is. They wanted a plan to deal with the rock, I gave them someone with a plan, and they used Stinking Cloud on her! Sheesh!

Level UP!

Rachel wants to revamp her character to be more useful even in the face of horrible dice-rolling, which is totally understandable, although I'm not sure how much of that the system supports. Still, Adam was able to get a +20 to hit vs AC, so something like +17 vs other defenses should be possible.

Silly Computer Games: The area right outside Stormwind is like twenty levels too low for Zmorcia and not interesting enough to make up for it, so she headed off in a direction. After some areas full of low-level refugees (the latest expansion is called "Cataclysm" after all) she found a dark spooky forest with some worgen squatting in a deserted town doing alchemical experiements at around her level, and then to a jungle with hunters, explorers, Heart of Darkness refugees, and other such appurtenances. These also seem to be about her level, or a little lower (she can handle two monsters, but usually not three or four), so I guess she'll hang around at least until the baby raptor that's imprinted on her has eaten enough basilisks to become Godzilla. Or until her inventory fills with ore and she has to go find a forge.

Level 27! I'm sure it wasn't this easy to get this far when I tried back in WoW Classic.

Cats: The paws! THE HORRIBLE, OPAQUE PAWS!! (Yet, so fuzzy.)

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12 February 2011 - Saturday

Modern Medicine: Germs: check. Brain inflation: FAIL.

Sequential Entertainments: At this rate, soon I will be finished with Yotsuba&! again!

Silly Computer Games: Apparently Stormwind during an event is just too much, because my client crashed twice while Zmorica was trundling around investigating evil perfume, so it was obviously time to beat feet. (One of the quests she got there looks like it's both part of a paladin quest chain and will get her shinies, so she'll have to try going back after it quiets down.)

I had vaguely intended to go worgening with Ayse, but she didn't log in, and she didn't log in, and Dave started luring people to the Wailing Caverns instance, so by the time she did log in there was too much momentum and she had to tank for us. (Fortunately Ken had other characters to play.) Anyway, it was very mazetastic and also full of snakes. Fortunately, all Zmo had to do was follow the bear butt and hit things. (Being cute was something she threw in as an extra at no additional charge.)

Visual Entertainments: People on Logrus were talking about rewatching Galaxy Quest so I made Netflix move it up in my queue. I don't think it rewards rewatching as much as some movies do, but it is still pretty entertaining. The Thermians had pretty darn alien behavior.

Food: Pizza with mushrooms, olives, feta, and ground beef.

Cats: Twelve paws!

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11 February 2011 - Friday

Modern Medicine: Still full of germs.

Work: Check. Bleah.

Silly Computer Games: Check! Zmorcia cleaned up some old quests from when she was much lower level and finally made it to Stormwind, City of Lag. Look, more quests!

Cats: Fuzzy!

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10 February 2011 - Thursday

Modern Medicine: Coughing + coughing + more coughing = no brain inflator.

Work: Check. Apparently today it was cow orker M's turn in the barrel.

Textual Edutainments: Seized, Max Hardberger's account of his career in extracting ships from unreasonable seizure and similar adventures, using stealth, distraction, bribery, a vast network of contacts, and sometimes legal maneuvering. Mostly he worked around the Carribean and adjoining parts of Central and South America, probably because that's a relatively undeveloped region with lots of islands so it has lots of small (noncontainer) ships and small shipping companies. (I'd expect Indonesia and that region to be similar, but it's harder to drift there from the US.) Mostly Hardberger retrieved ships from ports where they had been seized on flimsy pretexts by people hoping to get them cheap with the connivance of corrupt local government, which seems reasonable to me, but he also had adventures just trying to buy ships for scrap in Russia ("You say you own these ships now? I'm not sure this bill of sale looks quite right. Let me go talk to the guy who owned the ships when I came to buy them. Died suddenly, you say? I see.").

Visual Entertainments: No Slayers for me, since I am a plague-riddled monstrosity shunned by all decent people.

Food: No Korean burritos for me, since I am a plague-riddled monstrosity shunned by all decent people.

Silly Computer Games: FAIL. If I had tried to play yesterday, the patch would be done downloading by now, but no. Tomorrow, maybe.

Cats: Twelve adorable paws!

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9 February 2011 - Wednesday

Work: I meant to leave work early on account of unwellness, but instead there was Drama with Big Customer X and I got stuck at work late, with extra stress and unfavorable commute.

Sequential Entertainments: Yotusba&! vol 1, because I would otherwise not have enough cuteness in my life.

Silly Computer Games: Yay, internet is back! But I have to go to bed early instead of making use of it. Boo!

Cats: Four paws and four paws and four more paws!

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8 February 2011 - Tuesday

Work: Today is my one-year anniversary of doing work at Aster! (I think I was employed a couple of days earlier when I signed the offer letter, but whatever.) You should all celebrate by getting your companies to buy our product!

Textual Educations: The Comprehensible Cosmos, by Victor J Stenger. Well, maybe, but apparently you need to be a lot smarter than me to comprehend it. (No surprise there.)

Stenger's main point is that what we think of as the Laws of Nature, from the basics like conservation of energy and Newton's laws up to general relativity and quantum mechanics, are just inescapable consequences of models that are independent of coordinate systems. If objects acted on by forces behave the same regardless of when you look at them, or from where, then there are certain quantities that are conserved, which we call energy, momentum, and angular momentum. The unintuitive behaviors of QM and GR fall out from similar (but more abstract) independences in phase space. If your models are not dependent on point of view, then you automatically get all these symmetries. None of them have to be bolted on.

These models are human constructs, of course, so they may not exactly describe the underlying reality, but Stenger is not a postmodernist. Our models are at least related to the underlying reality because they work (ones that don't work get discarded); they aren't just arbitrary socially constructed narratives where anything goes as long as it makes you feel good.

A minor point Stenger makes is that all our basic models are actually symmetric in time: if you look at a physical event in reverse time, it's still a valid physical event, just perhaps less probable. His claim is that if we acknowledge the reverse-time parts of the models instead of discarding them as unphysical, a lot of problems go away. I don't really know what other physicists think of this.

That part of the book, the first 189 pages, I could mostly follow. However, the remaining 131 pages (not counting bibliography, index, etc) contain eight appendices in which Stenger really (ie, mathematically) shows how this all work, and I got lost instantly. I'm sure any of my friends who graduated from Tech could follow it with no trouble, but I'm just not that l33t. I'll continue to have to take other people's word for it that the universe does work.

Visual Entertainments: Dave is still in Hawaii, so no Tuesday Night Anime. Bah!

Instead, I sat home by myself and watched the second disk of Air, which suddenly changes everything in episode 8.

Silly Computer Games: Still no internets! Perhaps I am feeling under the weather because Blizzard needs the network connection to coat my keyboard with crack.

Cats: Twelve paws!

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7 February 2011 - Monday

Work: Boss G got promoted to Metaboss G, and l33t cow orker G got officially promoted to Boss G. I don't expect much to change, though.

Also not likely to change: staying late at work to fix the cluster of customers who do foolish things with them. Blargh.

Sequential Entertainments: Not Love But Delicious Foods Make Me So Happy (Fumi Yoshinaga) amounts to a series of restaurant reviews (for restaurants in Tokyo that I will probably never eat at) , but the mangaka poking fun at herself and her assistants/friends/fellow foodies is hilarious. ("We call her American Car because her fuel efficiency is so low.")

Silly Computer Games: WOE! My phone line is down, which means my DSL is down! Not that I had time to play WoW tonight anyway, but WOE!

Cats: Twelve paws!

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6 February 2011 - Sunday

Work: Bleah, bonus on-call. The guy who is really on-call this weekend wasn't available today, so I had to take over the incident he started handling yesterday. I am not l33t.

Silly Computer Games: It turns out a quest labelled as two-person can be done by one person if they're slightly higher level. Actually, one of them Zmorcia probably could have done at the level she got it, since it turned out the NPC she needed to capture was someone she'd already whacked twice when she met him on the road. Another she couldn't quite do, but it was close enough to the graveyard and the NPC she had to escort was buff enough that after dying she could run back and he was still fighting so the quest was still active.

Anyway, Zmo is only up to level 23 (IIRC, the experience curve makes four-level days less common from here on out), but she has completed every quest I could find on Bloodmyst Island! (There may be a few more hidden in odd corners like the guy outside [SPOILER], but I'm not going to take the time to look for them.) Now she is finally back in a place where the grass is aquamarine and the crystals are purple, like the naaru intended.

Speaking of which, she can now get jewelcrafting patterns and make jewelry for n00bs (like Daphona and R—), once she goes out and mines some more.

Cats: I dreamed that Aspen (grudgingly) let me pick her up, but it was only a dream. On the other hand, it was also only a dream that she was sickish, so I'll count it as a win.

I should really make an appointment for the checkup the cats should have had before the holidays.

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5 February 2011 - Saturday

Gaming: Normally today would be Thrace, but there are too few Daves and too many germs.

Textual Entertainments: The Truth of Valor (Tanya Huff), fifth in the "Valor" series. They are questionable in enough aspects that I can't whole-heartedly recommend them, but they are entertaining (and full of doom).

Sequential Entertainments: I reread Chobits over the past few days. The computer bits seem so very quaint now. I persist in thinking that the catch at the end could have been worked around from several angles, if desired, but it's well known that I'm the fundamentally worthless sort of creature that thinks problems should be solved.

Visual Entertainments: Finished Shuffle!. Okay, that is not a solution I would have come up with.

Silly Computer Games: Huh, so that's what an instance is like. (Assuming Ragefire Chasm is typical.) That was about as confusing as I expected, but we did pwn the primary boss, and then four-manned the two bonus bosses when our randomly assigned ally bailed.

There was little worgening because baby, so I played Zmorcia some more. She is now level 21, but most of the quests she has recommend two or more people. Bah!

Cats: Twelve paws!

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4 February 2011 - Friday

Work: Check.

Silly Computer Games: There was no Ayse to go Worgening with, but I got Zmorcia up to level 16. Woo!

Cats: Twelve paws!

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3 February 2011 - Thursday

Work: Check.

Textual Educations: Cowboys Full (James McManus) is what it says in the subtitle: a history of poker from its murky origins in or around early-19th-century New Orleans through the days of riverboat card sharks up to the massive televised tournaments and online sites of today. The middle is a digression into how everyone who was anyone has played poker because the skills needed for poker are the same as the skills needed for success in any endeavor worthy of American alpha males: politics, business, and warfare. I am somewhat dubious about this[*], and definitely don't buy any of the evolutionary psychology (brave hunter males, passive females, blah blah), but there was not so much of that as to make the book uninteresting.

[*] ...says the non-poker-playing failure at life and masculinity.

Visual Entertainments: No Slayers, because no Dave.

Food: Despite the lack of Slayers, Marith and I invaded Ayse and Ken's house and ate Kabul food with them. Also we picked on Marith for not taking good care of herself.

Silly Computer Games: No! I will not play WoW for a whole week straight! (Also it was too late when I got home.)

Cats: Twelve paws!

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2 February 2011 - Wednesday

Modern Medicine: I explained to the doctor about not feeling less sleepy despite having my face inflated every night. His recommendation is to keep with it. Well, okay.

Work: Worked from home. Vaguely productive.

Silly Computer Games: This is the sixth day in a row that I've played WoW. That can't possibly be a good sign. Anyway, I pretty much still suck at it, but Zmorcia only died a couple of times and did make level 12. She is still cute.

Cats: Ghirardelli and Marmalade helped me work. "This leads to gooshyfoods, right? Right?"

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1 February 2011 - Tuesday

Work: Bleah, Monday++.

It turns out that AerioConnect is not at fault at all, and I can't reach idiom because all outgoing ssh from work is blocked for reasons that can probably be summarized as "Windows". I apologized.

Visual Entertainments: Dave has abandoned us for the all-you-can-eat spam sushi buffets of Hawaii, so we have no Tuesday Night Anime. At least I got the catch-up episodes to Marith, so it's possible she can get caught up by two weeks from now.

Silly Computer Games: Argh, so much dying.

Cats: I oppressed Aspen by picking her up! I am so awful!

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