28 December 2005

Lotsa EVE

Okay, I have no excuse now for not posting something here. I haven't left my in-laws house for 4 WHOLE DAYS! Its been great.

So what have I been doing with my time you ask? Playing EVE online. I have made several million ISK over the holidays and have outfitted a pretty kick ass ship. Here are some screen shots.

I got caught in another ship while undocking. It took me a while to get unhooked.

23 December 2005

Busy, busy, busy

I am starting to despise this time of the year. I don't have two seconds to rub together. After my big work push finished, the adoption birthmother book started. Once the adoption book finished, present shopping started. Then we had to get ready to go to Portland, Oregon (where my wife is from).

My wife and I missed our last soccer game, not intentionally mind you, but because we plumb forgot about it.

I promise to blog more soon.

17 December 2005

Well here is the new/improved children's half of our adoption booklet. Since I moved to MS Publisher the pictures are crisper. I have used some photo editing tools to bring out the colors, but in the document's conversion to jpg, its lost some of the luster. I also have noticed that some of the pictures looked yellowed in the jpg. They don't look like that in the book (I don't think).


14 December 2005

Tardy Missives

So I said that I was going to try to post more since I am no longer working all day and night at my job.

That was the theory anyway – before my wife got a hold of me.

She has commandeered all my free time by making me work on our adoption booklet. I have moved from orchestrating the booklet in Microsoft Word to using Microsoft Publisher. I’ve gotten pretty good with it. It’s gonna be sweet when I’m finished.

My wife, however, has forbidden me to post the document to this blog. I think it is perfectly bloggable since you don’t tell birthmothers anything too identifying about you, just the interesting tidbits and generalities. It’s about the same level of intimacy of a blog. Still my wife has said no. I do plan to at least post the next draft of the children’s story when I get a chance (tonight or tomorrow) so you’ll get to see that half of the adoption booklet at least.

I’m going to actually post this last today so it ends up above all my other posts. I hope to write about a bunch of games:
  • My poker game Saturday
  • My DnD game last Thursday
  • My current board game obsession

DnD – Tomb of Horrors and Law Offices

Our DnD game has gotten fairly interesting. Basically I threw a bunch of ideas out on the table and then waited for my players to pick what they wanted and run with it. The ideas that we started with:
  • Repair a destroyed caldera and fill it with water to make waterfront property for a condo development.
  • One player is in the middle of a messy divorce. Her husband wants half her experience. His legal representation comes from a demi-lich.
  • Two of the players are running for mayor in my urban setting. One is a charismatic fallen paladin – someone that doesn’t mind doing bad things for the greater good. The other is a very, very ugly orc that is gradually becoming a god.
  • Another player has inherited a ton of money, but can’t get it due to a restraining order keeping him from it until his great-great-great-great-great grandmother’s will has been legitimized.
  • And lastly, one of the players has recently lost an arm. He still has it, but needs to travel to another plane to get the extra-dimensional pocket that exists where his arm was, removed so he can regenerate it.
Anyway, the party is pursuing the divorcee’s narrative right now.

I love using stuff that everyone is familiar with. Recently Wizards of the Coast has converted the classic Tomb of Horrors to the newest edition of the game. Now back when this module came out, it was the toughest of the tough. You had to be mega-powerful to even consider going into the Tomb of Horrors. To my disgust, they ported the module so mid-level characters could run it. The port to a medium power level just sucks.

So I just threw that version of the module away. Instead I have done my own conversion and instead of converting it straight up, I have changed the Tomb of Horrors to now by the Law Offices of Redaxe, Bonenose, Gronk and Acerack. (Acerack is the demi-lich; the other three are half-orc lawyers). Instead of having just killer traps and puzzles, I have also filled the halls with powerful clientele and other hard-to-kill legal aides. It should be fun.

Once the party rescued Nate (I’ll provide the link later, but I’m continuing from my earlier write-up where one of the PCs lost his left arm), they managed to steal his severed left arm from the Monks that cut it off. Rafael the Grey (the paladin mayor) hid the arm in his safe in his mayoral office. The two Monks of the Left Arm leaders came and fought with the party to get the arm back. All this fighting was going on while Rafael was being interviewed by city newspaper -- he has to appeal to his constituency, after all. Eventually the monks were dispatched, the arm was retained and the interview was concluded.

Days later, Elani (the divorcee) was subpoenaed by the court via the demi-lich law office. The demi-lich, of course, uses powerful undead to do the busy legal work, so the party fought with deadly winterwights (first seen in the incredible Return to the Tomb of Horrors boxed set, now a nasty critter detailed in the Epic Level Handbook). This subpoena forced the party to make an assault on the law offices since they assumed more winterwights would be forthcoming.

While this was going on, Dracustous was being coerced into signing away his inheritance to a Gold Dragon that claimed the hoard to be his. Dracustous assumed that the Gold Dragon had noble intentions (in the DnD game, Gold Dragons are a paragon of virtue). Instead he discovered that the Gold Dragon was just trying to acquire a “starter hoard”. Unfortunately for the party, Redaxe of the Law Offices of Redaxe, Bonenose, Gronk and Acerack is representing the Gold Dragon.

We stopped last week’s game right before the party was going to make its initial assault on the Law Offices. Just outside Redaxe, the Gold Dragon and a winterwight legal aide were going over last minute details of the Dracustous restraining order when the party showed up. Some force walls and force cages were spelled up before we decided to call it a night -- but no weapons were swung, no blood spilled. It's a DnD Mexican standoff!

I’ll keep the blog informed when this story wraps up.

Poker Howsssss

Last Saturday a buddy of mine, Robb, had a Christmas party. After the Christmas party a bunch of us retired to the back rooms to play a couple of Texas Hold’em tourneys.

I have been playing Texas Hold’em for something like six years now. I was playing the game well before the big poker boom – it was introduced to our group when I worked with Ed. Ed was a former casino dealer – and he said it was the best game to play. That’s when we got hooked.

Before tourney style, we just played Hold’em with infinite buy-ins. If you ran out of chips, you bought more. The problem with this method is that the stakes would always raise to the level of the person that valued money the least. For example, if $20 is a lot to me and I raise David $20 pre-flop, I expect David to feel the same $20 pressure that I do. If Dave comes back over with a $40 re-raise, is it because he thinks his hand can beat my $20 hand? Or is it because $20 means nothing to him and, for that matter, neither does $40? I’m kind of tight with money, so no matter what the odds are, I’m not going to chase $40. In the end, all the people that think $100 is a lot of money but think that $20 isn’t a lot of money end up raising the stakes of each pot to $100. It makes the game no fun for people like me. I want everyone to value his or her money the same way I do.

It wasn’t until Robb started running Texas Hold’em tourneys that the real enjoyment of the game came through. Tournament style equalized everyone’s $20. It cost $20 to enter. If you come in first from a group of around 15 people you get $150, second $100, third $50 (or something like that), so the “$100 is a lot of money “folk feel like it is worth their while to play because they can win a bunch of cash. The “$20 is a lot of money” folk can play as well because it only cost $20 to play one game. People that immediately go “all-in” and lose, exit early – so if you want to play cards, its best to be a tad more conservative than normal, lest you will be watching the game from the sidelines instead of playing.

In tourney style, going all-in means something. It means you are risking your chance to win $150 as well as risking your right to play cards. I highly recommend it.

Now that that is explained, I’ll discuss my experience at the tourney.

Remember when I said that tourney style equalizes everyone’s money? Well, I lied. Even when you don’t have the option to re-buy-in people still play overly aggressive. I made my living on those people. There was a lady at my table that was in every hand. More than that, she would stay in until the end of each hand. A couple of deals into the tourney I caught an ace, queen and matched my ace on the flop. The lady kept betting aggressively, like she was doing each hand. It took a couple of good hands like that and I took all her money. Tourney style lets you play people easier.

Another one of my buddies knows a lot about poker, but his basic nature is very, very conservative. When he is on the button he knows that he is supposed to raise and re-raise to chase people out of the pot. And I knew that he knew this so I would wait until he was on the button and regardless of what I had in my hand I would wait for him to raise. After his raise I would re-raise. This would chase everyone out of the hand except my buddy and me. Sometime around the “turn” one of my raises/re-raises would trigger his basic conservative nature and he would fold. I took a bunch of money from him doing that. If it weren’t for the fact that he only raised when he was on the button, I would have never considered doing that. I was playing the odds that he was trying to be a button bully and I know him well enough to know that being a bully isn’t in his nature.

Being a bully, however, is in my nature. Every time I ended up being the big stack, I bullied myself into the poorhouse. I can’t help but try to buy pots from people. I would say that the bullying worked 30% of the time – which isn’t enough to keep your chip stack. It seems once I was unable to play the easy targets, the more savvy players had little trouble taking me down. I came in 3rd on the first tourney, grossing 56 smackeroos.

In the second tourney of the night I was the big stack going into the final 6. Robb twice had pocket Jacks up against my Ace, 5. The first time it cost my one third my stack, the second time it kicked me out of the game in 4th place, just out of the money.

And then I lost $20 on high card (I drew a 3 of spades and lost to a queen of clubs – bleh!)

Re-living the Renaissance Via a Board Game

The crew I hang out with to play Dungeons and Dragons with is kind of splintered this December. Typically during month 12 of the year we take a break from DnD since most of our members are on vacation or busy. This year we get together anyway and play board games instead of DnD. Currently we have been playing Clans and Prices of Florence.

Clans is like a big game of tic-tac-toe – not really, but the mindset is the same. It’s fun to play in small doses since it runs about 30 minutes, and it’s simple enough to learn to play in about 5 minutes. But it tends to hurt your head and people that aren’t trying too hard can easily give someone else an unfair advantage allowing them an uncontested win. I can’t take too much of it.

Princes of Florence on the other hand is a great game. The learning curve is much steeper – you can teach someone to play in about 20 minutes, providing you know how to play. Learning the strategy of the game, however, takes forever. I have played 3 full games so far and I still don’t have a great handle on how to properly play.

What’s more incredible is that pretty much the entire game is determinable. There are no dice, and the randomness of drawing cards is minimized because anytime you would draw a card, you draw 5 and pick the best one. The players create all play variance – i.e. the game changes from game-to-game by people employing different strategies, not by dice rolls. It’s a great game.

The only bad thing about the game is the rules. The rules page makes use of two abbreviations that make up the cornerstone of the game, “WV” and “PP”. Nowhere in the rules are either of these two terms ever defined. My best guess is that WV means “Work Value” and PP means “Prestige Points”, but I am just guessing.

The premise of the whole game is that you are nobility in Florence during the Renaissance and you are trying to commission more great works of art than the other nobles in the game. You do this by buying up resources from other noble families, building your palazzo and granting your fiefdom various freedoms to help inspire your artists to create their masterpieces. The noble with the most masterpieces wins! I realize that the description of the game sounds like it would be impossible to represent that in a board game, but the people that made this game managed to do so.

So far my pal Ken has won two of the three games we have played. So now his head has swelled to monstrous proportions and he thinks of himself as actual prince. He’s not.

08 December 2005

Fahrenheit 12/8

This weekend the wife and I watched Michael Moore’s “documentary” on the Bush presidency and how it responded to the attacks on 9/11.  I put “documentary” in quotes because a lot of people scoff that Mr. Moore’s work is considered anything but propaganda.  In all truth, these days a documentary is anything that doesn’t have acting or animation in it.  It’s a catchall category for all sorts of messages.  I think too often people think of documentaries as historical pieces done by Ken Burns (if they are good) or get shown on the History Channel (if they aren’t so good).

Now I have always been a Michael Moore fan.  I loved his original piece Roger & Me circa 1990 because he was the first person I knew of that threw away any pretense that he was un-biased.  At the time he was new and original.  Unfortunately for the rest of us, he opened the biased news door and everyone followed him through it.  You can’t read a news piece any more without being hit over the head with bias.  I liked the illusion of “un-biased” journalism more than the frankness of biased journalism.  Now when I discuss a news story with someone I always have to answer the question of where did I see that particular piece?  If I saw it on FOX news then it obviously slants conservative, if on CNN – then liberal.

[An aside.  I have a co-worker/friend that is busy reading The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand and is all enamored with the book.  He says that Ayn Rand is incorrectly labeled a conservative where, in fact, she is a liberal.  I’ll admit right now that I have never read an Ayn Rand book before – several people have said that I would like it – I’m not so sure.  But what bothers me about my co-worker’s statement is that when he described why she was a liberal, it was that she was a modern American liberal.  Not a standard, by the definition, liberal.  Americans abuse these two terms to actually mean Republican and Democrat, which is entirely not the case.  As per definition, a conservative holds the status quo and doesn’t want to change things.  A liberal, however, wants to change the status quo or at least have the “liberty” to do so.  By the real definition, I would say that pretty much everyone in congress is fairly conservative.  A few politicians have liberal ideas, but not many.  The only one I can think of off the top of my head is McCain, and he’s a Republican.  To make my point on this, anti-abortion is a liberal idea now as it is no longer the status quo.  Pro-abortion is the conservative idea as it is the establishment.  End aside.]

I don’t know what I like about Michael Moore.  I really don’t see eye-to-eye with him at all.  Deep down I think Mr. Moore is just a populist (someone rooted in the general population’s interest – usually pro-labor, anti-business) and I’m really against most populist viewpoints.

No, I do know what I like about Moore – he is an extremist.  Not really a radical or a reactionary per se, but extreme in his populist beliefs.  Even though his films show a huge bias, I believe strongly that what I am seeing is what Mr. Moore believes to be true.  I respect that someone with such opinionated opinions can rationalize them to the extent that he has.  I am even more impressed that he is able to clearly communicate those opinions to me.

Watching a Michael Moore film is like getting is a heated, but controlled debate with someone that knows what he is talking about.  And I always enjoy those debates – even if it is with a kook.

07 December 2005

The Gaul of a Goal

Well it’s about 7 hours before our next soccer game.  So I think I should write about my previous soccer game before the next one removes all trace of memory about it.

Since I always take my time getting to my point, I’ll state it early in this post:  I scored a goal.  I was the only one on our team to score.  I scored half our points.

I know, I know.  You are reading that last bit about me only scoring half our points, but yet earlier I brag that I was the only one on our team to score.  You’re thinking that something just doesn’t add up.  And you are right.  But now I’m getting ahead of myself.  Let’s start at the beginning:

I was working very, very late last Wednesday night.  Since our game that night started at 9pm I was strongly considering not attending.  Alas, that wasn’t an option as my wife pleaded with me on the phone to “not let our teammates down”.  The ironic thing about that statement is that it is just as true on a really bad team as it is with a really good team.  Misery loves company and if you jet from a bad team, chances are, the rest of the team jets with you.  So if you are playing on the Houston Stinkinators then, damn it, show up each and every game so as to revel in your team’s putriscity with the rest of your teammates.  It’s a bonding experience at least.

So I end up changing in the car on the ride over to the indoor soccer match.  When was the last time you were butt nekid in a moving car?  Me?  Last week, a couple of minutes before our soccer game.  We were sitting at a red light at 8:55pm (so at least it was dark outside) and I had just taken off my boxers to put on my briefs when a Semi pulls up alongside us and stops as said light.  Semis are tall, so the driver had me at an uncomfortable angle.  Now I know that the trucker in there probably wasn’t looking, and even if he/she was, probably couldn’t see anything.  But, I bet, if they were looking and trying hard to see something, then they would notice that the dim luminescence of the red stoplight was just enough radiation to make out my jangly bits.  I figured that the less I moved, the less attention I called to myself.  So I just sat there in my seat with nary a stitch on from the waist down.  If that driver did detect my delicate parts then I bet I made for a fine story at the late night truck stop where all of teamsterdom listened to the strange tale of the SUV passenger that rode barebackside.

Simulated CB Chatter
HoundDog: “Breaker, breaker two-ninety, have I got a story for you!”
CapnCrunch: “Rodger that, story time!”
Brunhilda: “HoundDog, I got your twenty, gimme your story”
HoundDog: “There is a man sitting in his car next to me with no britches on! Over”
Brunhilda: “What do you mean by ‘britches’, no pants?”
CapnCrunch: “Strike that story, HoundDog, I have a Charlie on my tail”
HoundDog: “No pants at all, the man’s genitalia are glowing under a red light. It’s like a train wreck, I can’t help but stare – but I don’t wanna. Over”
CapnCrunch: “Charlie’s got me! I’m going down!”
Brunhilda: “Great story Houndy, now I’m gonna lay down some suppressing fire for the Capn!”

Oops… sorry… tangent… resuming course…

So when we make it to the game we have a plethora of people in attendance.  Throughout the game I was able to take time out and rest, as there was always someone there that could spell me.  (Not a hard thing to do, mind you.)

Well our second week enemy was much, much better than our first week opponent where we lost 19-7.  So you would think that a better team would make for even less fun – but that wasn’t the case.  Since the better team was more comfortable with less of a lead, they didn’t try to run up the score as much.  We ended the game with the score 15-2 (actually the scoreboard read 15-16, that we won, but I’ll get to that in a bit.)  Even though the difference in score was about the same from game one to game two, the second week team just played looser.  They were more fun.

Okay, here comes the point of this post now, so pay attention here.

We could not score on this team.  Their goalie was just too good.  Every once in a while when I would stop panting and actually had some energy to sprint a bit, I would attack their goal.  Since our team is out of shape, typically we would have only two people attacking the goal at any given time.  With their goalie and two of their defenders, our two attackers never had a chance.

Well, one of those times I charged down there with two other players, so we had three people attacking at once.  The ball was being passed behind me several times via my teammates and I don’t really know what happened to cause this – but there I stood, ball at my feet, goal straight ahead about four feet away, and nary a goalie or defender to be seen.  I reached down and grabbed a handful of carpet and threw it up into the air to see which way the wind was blowing (it wasn’t – we were inside), I got down on my knees to read the lay of the goal, then I got back up took six steps back and two to the side, and then I ran and kicked that ball straight into the goal for my team’s first goal of the night.

You would have thought we had won the World Cup with that score.  My team erupted with cheer and carried me off the field on their shoulders.  On the bench we gave each other Champaign showers and I was interviewed by Bryant Gumbal on just what that goal felt like.  (I responded that I couldn’t have done it without my teammates – though I didn’t mean it.)

After the gleeful celebration, we once again reverted to patheticness.  But so did the other team.  In a fit of…  I don’t know what, something though…  In a fit of something, the other team managed to score a goal on themselves.  I don’t really know what happened, I just looked downfield and saw a ball lallygag into their goal – and none of my teammates were anywhere near it.  Someone told me that the ball just got lose from their goalie and bounced off one of their players and ricocheted into their goal.

The owner of the facility thought that their goal on themselves was enough to justify giving us 15 points.  So at the end of the game the score was 16-15, Ballas win!

My New Computer Stuff

Since I have been hard at work, I have been making lots of money. So I decided to treat myself to some new computer equipment. Here are a couple of photos:
The only new hardware here are the monitors. Dual 20" monsters. It looks much better in real life.

Not quite real life, but a better shot of the monitors. That is a view of my current obsession, EVE Online. It runs in a mode that uses both monitors very well.

Lastly, my new laptop. I finally got one to take with me on trips to the Pacific Northwest. And it is a blazer. I get the second best Dell offered. It is meant as a portable gaming platform. I have spent the last hour taking all the crap that Dell installs on the system standard. That is a real pain.

Dell, your stuff is cheap and good. Your software bloat sux.

06 December 2005

O Blogtain, My Blogtain

The title to this missive is a massive, unrecognizable butchering of the famous “O Captain, My Captain” poem by Walt Whitman (I think that’s who wrote it). The poem was about Abe Lincoln after his assassination. The parallel to my blog is not as deep as an assassinated leader, but more a quick tie-in to the fact that any and all updates have been missing for quite some time – much like Abe was missing after he was shot.

Unlike Abe Lincoln, my blog will spring back to life with this post. I guess the real romantic in me thinks that Mr. Whitman’s poem did the same for the greatest leader America has ever had, but not quite the same way this post revives my blog.

[An aside: It is cumbersome just how well the Internet keeps people honest. In normal conversation I would claim to know that “O Captain, My Captain” was indeed penned by Walt Whitman. But, I really am just guessing. Since people that read this blog have immediate access to the Internet, I have to assume the cynics that read it will double-check that fact. I know that none of said cynics will post “Adam you are a moron, it wasn’t Walt Whitman, it was Machiavelli that wrote that poem – and it’s not about Abe Lincoln, you fool, it’s about a bottle of rum” – because that’s the type of readership I solicit. End aside.]

So I am haberdashing around my point here. My point is that I have an excuse for the long delay between posts. And that excuse is my job.

My division in my company has been working on a project for about a year now & tomorrow, Wednesday, is the big show’n’tell demonstrating our nifty project. Problem is, at the last minute we changed systems the project was running on. And, of course, it stopped running. About 7 bug fixes later we are down to probably our last bug. Bugs 1, 2 and 3 took about a day to ferret out and fix each. Bugs 4 and 5 took about two to three days to hunt and fix. Bug 6 was what we thought was our last bug, took me and three other people Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and some of Monday to fix. Of course after that was fixed, bug seven popped up (about an hour ago). So my life recently has been a bug hunting hell on earth.

So in the next few days I plan on the following posts:
  • Adam scores his first goal in soccer
  • My opinions on the Michael Moore’s movie, Fahrenheit 9/11
  • My one-day obsession with Marilyn Manson’s so-so cover of a great Patti Smith song
Until then I leave you with some homespun poetry:

A Walk With the Wife

There is a clear noise from above
A beautiful, rattling singing
Small birds using their lungs
While flapping, rapping and winging

“What kind of bird is that, I hear?”
Move under tree to look, not stopping
“Shrills are wonderfully queer, my dear”
And then I swallow a dropping

Warmth on my chin. Streak down my shirt.
Tang touches the back of my tongue
Clasp my mouth shut so hard it hurts
Wretched song from a songbird was sung
Wretched dung from a dungbird was wrung
Retching bile from my stomach was flung
Terse verses of my poem are done

-Obiwanchunn Whitman

26 November 2005

A Gift, A Job and A Journey

Well, the adoption story book is finally kinda winding up. Below is my first draft of the complete text of the story. We are still missing a few pictures. I want to add a San Fran illustration with the Hans and Christine page. I also want to add some do-dads on the Bethany/Linda/Bryan page. But maybe not.

The two pictures of Bunny at the end are the same, so my wife needs to draw up one more rabbit with a present.

We are going to try to get rid of about half of the text so that should make the whole thing a little less daunting to read.

For some reason, when I webify our book, the pictures get shrunk down to their exact bounds. Each frame is supposed to be on its own sheet of paper.

Please provide feedback. [Edit 5:49pm I just noticed that I forgot to add the picture of Mt. Hood on the third page. It will be present in the final book. I just didn't remember to include it here. -Obiwanchunn]

25 November 2005

My EVE Online Bio -or- Confusing Strangers is Funny to Me

For those that don't play massively multiplayer games but are interested in trying them, I have one word of advice for you: Don't.

Okay, I'm quite the hypocrite here. Actually I want you to become just as addicted to these stupid games as I am. You will justify my obsession by joining me in my endless quest to buy bigger and badder spaceships that can kill pirates, mine asteroids and trade chewing tobacco across the galaxy.

Sounds great doesn't it? In EVE-Online you can become an accountant. Kid not here.

Anyway, everyone has a little area that they can use to write-up something special about their in-game persona. I always write stuff that amuses me and confused everyone else.

Let me tell a little story that explains this a bit. (Another anecdote, yes, I can hear you sigh in the back row. Too bad.)

My boss got season tickets to the Astros games about 5-10 years ago. My brother and I were both working at the same company back then. Anyway, we were really the only people that used these tickets. We went to the games in the Astrodome once or twice a week. The seats weren't great, but, hey, they were free.

All sporting events have that insipid game that the crowd plays where some giant video monitor mixes up something like a giant three-card monte and then puts a big "1" "2" and "3" over each item that could have the hidden do-dad under it. (I'm not explaining this very well, but if you've been to any sporting event, you know what I'm talking about. For those that haven't been to one, ask someone who has to explain it to you.) The point is, any moron could follow the hidden item in this game. It's not a difficult task.

My brother and I would diligently watch this game, and when the numbers were put on the screen, we would purposefully agree on one of the numbers we knew WASN'T the one that had the do-dad under it. Then we would yell at the top of our lungs and hold up fingers indicating which number we supported.

We made big asses of ourselves, naturally.

Of course the scoreboard showed a number that wasn't the one we were screaming. We would hunch down all disappointed-like and people around us that were cheering for the correct number would look at us in a disapproving fashion because they were right and we were wrong.

These shenanigans amused us to no end. If my wife wasn't such an uptight when it comes to stuff like this, I probably would still do it at sporting events.

Now when this stupid game happens, since it is ridiculously easy, everyone gets it right. If I would pretend to get it wrong, then everyone around me would feel special. I would be doing them a service by boosting their ego a bit. And I would amuse myself by feeling like a civil dissident.

So back to this post's topic.

When I named my EVE-online avatar (my in-game persona) I had a bit of inspiration. I named myself "Iambic Haiku". This has given me a good deal of fun because several people tell me that there is no such thing as an Iambic Haiku-- thinking that I am confusing the word "haiku" with "pentameter" -- which I'm not.

I used to submit write "Haiku" that was obviously not correctly syllabified. I think my best non-haiku, haiku was:
My hubby in a frying pan, being Rice-o-roni
Witch doctor in a chicken suit standing on the stove
I blew the chicken away
That poem has a long story associated with it. I won't share it now since this post is meandering a bit. But for those of you that don't know, haiku have three lines, with the number of syllables in each line being 5-7-5. Or something to that effect. As you can see, my haiku is clearly not proper. I would get into many arguments over the validity of my haiku -- secretly amusing myself with the argument.

So when I was coming up with my in-game biography for Iambic Haiku -- a block of text that anyone can read about my character -- I wrote this:
Mr. Haiku was born on a board a Gallente Frigate near Egghelende. His mother was giving birth as she was being attacked by 13 year olds that had nothing better to do than gatecamp innocent merchants. Fortunately Iambic's mother had herself cloned right after she was impregnated, and the clone gave birth in the plasmpod as she was being activated. So Iambic has always been a clone. He does not know what it feels like to NOT be a clone.

Still, he likes the clone he's got now. So don't get any funny ideas there, Junior!

And yes, there is such a thing as an Iambic Haiku. Here is one for example:
Ode to a Secure Urn

Missions or mining
Or research or exploring
These are a few of my favorite things!

-Mao Whitman
Now it's not really important to understand all the in-game references here. A quick summary: a podkill is where someone else playing the game kills you and you have to have your pre-purchased clone activated to continue playing the game. A "secure cargo container" is used to store stuff in space so you can later retrieve it -- it is locked with a password. Gate camping is an annoying tactic used by players to ambush and podkill other players. It is generally assumed that all gatecampers are 13 year old boys with nothing better to do than play all day and kill others.

EVE-Online definitions aside, I love my Iambic Haiku. Unlike my other forms of poetry, this one is actually legitimate. I did, however, make up the fake author name.

20 November 2005

Adoption Picture Book

My wife got all upset with me this morning for not doing anything the last week for our adoption book. So I got on my horse and started putting all the pieces together today. I am re-writing all of my wife's text and I plan on hand-writing it all eventually.

Right now the text is typed in. My wife thinks its too wordy, so we will cull in down eventually. Its better to start with too much than not enough. I think I am going to establish that Bunny is looking for my wife and me early on. She is going to meet everyone else on her travels to find us. This will address the concern noted by my mother-in-law, that Bunny keeps getting rejected by every family she meets. We'll see how this works out. It's a work in progress.

I have storied up to the top of the third page. The Seal family and after is just filled with place holder text.

Here is a look-see (the "Picture of Bunny Paw" will have a gift tag that reads "A present for you to give to someone. It is very important that you choose wisely. Signed God"):

17 November 2005

Pain and Soccer

My wife and I have been conned into playing on a soccer team for the next couple of months. About 3 months ago we were supposed to play soccer and we trained and got in reasonable shape for it, only to have it fall through at the last minute. So about a week ago, we get called by Jake, the soccer organizer, and are told that we will be playing in five days. Of course when I showed up last night to play, the last time I exercised was about 3 months ago, when I gave up training for soccer.

For those people that don’t know a thing about soccer (me until last night), it is not a game to play when you are out of shape. I have never run so much in my life.

Our roster:
  • Jake – The organizer. Played lots of soccer up till high school. He is freshly out of college, so that wasn’t so long ago. He is also terribly out of shape. Though he doesn’t run around much, he is boisterous and friendly-obnoxious, so he makes the game tres fun.
  • Shelah – Our ringer. She was a super good soccer player in high school, and she is in shape. She had the best “feel” for the game of anyone there. I would have listed her above Jake in this list, but Jake organized it, so he gets the top rank.
  • Michael – Probably the best guy player on the field. And only because Shelah wasn’t timid about bossing him around. So he got the best coaching. He also flat-out missed a wide open shot that I will anecdote-up a bit later in this post
  • Alex – Played soccer in middle school where he was the goalie. His team went to state or some kind of top honor. You wouldn’t know it though by watching him play. He did score the first goal of the game for us. And he is in shape. He’ll probably get real good, real fast. But he’s not there yet.
  • Rebecca – Best of the over-30 club. She basically sat on offense and body checked people that passed by her. I bet she got something like 15 touches on the ball the entire game. (For those not soccer savvy, a touch means just what you would think it means – she touched the ball 15 times during the game – which isn’t a lot.)
  • Adam – I am going to rank myself over my wife just because I can. But really, Rebecca, Laurie and myself were all in the same class as well as in the over-30 club. I have a lot of anecdotes about me later in this post. Laurie could argue that I am responsible for more points scored against us than anyone else. And she’d be right. But it’s my blog, so I am above her. I must note that I have played soccer 3 times in my life -- all in the 5th grade. Oh yeah, and I was picked last in all three of those games. I got less than 15 touches all night.
  • Laurie – My wife. She actually knows what she is doing (she used to date a soccer coach). But she is out of shape, and worst of all, too nice. She had a hard time fighting for the ball. Mostly she would run up the opposing player that had the ball and then slightly bow and wave her hands towards the goal and say “After you”. Okay, I am just joking. She actually said, “Excuse me”. Okay, I am still joking. She actually said, “Do you have any Grey Poupon?”
  • Kade – Lowest on the list because he refused to play. He did, however, show up to watch us play, so Jake calls him our cheerleader. I think he was scared that he was gonna play worse than all of us – now that he has seen us play, he should know that that is impossible.
Some facts:
  • Our team name is “The Ballas” which is some language for saying “The Ball Players”
  • This is a co-op league so there has to be as many girls as guys
  • Guys can only have 3 consecutive ball touches before they have to get rid of the ball
  • Guy goals are one point
  • Girl goals are two points
  • It’s an indoor soccer match, so it’s hard to kick the ball out of bounds. Typically the ball bounces off of walls and whatnot.
  • No dive kicking
  • No Pele kicking
  • For every 5 points you are losing by, you can put another team member on the field. We played 7 on 6 most of the game. We could have played 9 on 6, but we didn’t have that many people.
So I think the best summary of this game is the following email I got from Jake this morning. He is a bit jumbled in his thoughts, but I think it conveys the game properly. The person mentioned as “Cannon” was the other team’s girl ringer. She did most of the scoring on their team. I keep telling Jake that he should use his masculine wiles to get her on a date so he can woo her to our team. But he just scoffs at that suggestion. Anyway, here is his recount:

[Modified only for grammar and spelling.]
All righty peeps! That was a blast. I enjoyed myself even though I was winded most of the time. But trust me, it'll be 2wice as easy next time, especially if we put together a practice once a week. This will probably be after work on a day besides Wednesday. Any suggestions?

Anyways here's the recap:

Kickoff, 5 seconds into the game Alex blows past the entire defense; Laurie's stunned thinking to herself, "What was that?" Our cheerleader Kade roots Alex on as he pulls off the greatest move Pele’ ever dreamed about. Alex blasts a shot and it ricochets off of 2 defenders and the goalie; everyone stunned, the ball crosses the line. Kade is overcome with joy. Then... it went uphill for the opposing team. Cannon blasted through our defenses over and over, scoring 2 points a pop. Shelah and Alex successfully thwarted her intentions, but, alas, Adam and I just weren't cut out on that particular day on a stormy, cold winter night to brave both the elements and Cannon's successive unyielding power. And then late in the 2nd half, they are only up by 9 goals (girl goals that is) so we still have a chance. Michael is open and gets the ball. Kade's overcome with joy again until Michael changes his name to Michael dot Klutz. His glory ends as his face meets the Astroturf. Kade looks away in disgust. But then at the end when all hopes of winning the game were lost, Rebecca steals the ball away from the players, clutching on to the last 45 seconds in the game. Somehow she body checks Cannon into the wall and passes to me. Me pass it to Michael and then to Shelah. The dream soccer couple juke and jive and then Shelah passes back to her loving Klutz, and amazing Klutz Klicks and Klangs like King Kong, stays on his feet and GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL. Yes, we were in Brazil but that last goal, the announcer was cheering us. Kade was overcome with joy.

Long story short:
19-4, we had 4
1 goal for Alex (assisted by the other Goalie)
2 goals for Jake, assisted by the Ballas (my memory escapes me)
1 goal for Michael, assisted by Shelah

Okay I’ll end this post with a trio of anecdotes about the game:

Anecdote #1: Adam as Goalie

Okay when I showed up I looked at field, all 70 yards of it, and just felt tired. So I petitioned heavily for the job of goalie. My reasoning was that the goalie doesn’t have to move much compared to the rest of the team (a true assessment). What I didn’t know was that the goalie pretty much gets abused – either physically by being pelted with hard kicked soccer balls – or emotionally by being ruthlessly gangbanged in an assault of knees, passes and fake-outs. I would like to say I was abused physically, but that’s not the case. I was abused emotionally. Within 7 minutes after the hour-long game had started, the opposing team was winning 8 to 1. All those points came from four girl goals; all four of those girl goals were made by the Jake dubbed “Cannon”.

Three minutes into the game, and just seconds after Alex scored the first goal for our side, a trio of people on the bad guy team attacks our goal. Everyone on our team is already winded and no one gets back on defense. Cannon scores to my left.

One minute after that, Cannon scores over me to the left.

Two minutes after that, Cannon scores to my right.

One minute after that, Cannon is making her approach – dribbling the ball this way and that. I am staying focused. Ready to jump right if she goes right. Ready to jump left if she goes left. Ready to jump up if she kicks it up. And that bitch kicks that damn ball right between my legs. I just sat there frozen in indecision as the ball knocked off both my knees as it made its way under my groin, straight into the goal.

End of Anecdote One.

[Notes about this anecdote: the times aren’t accurate. I made them up to tell a better story. I can’t really remember if Cannon scored all four goals. I know she scored the last goal and I know that women scored four goals on me – I have to admit I wasn’t really looking at people’s faces. When I got pushed out of the goalie slot at the 8 minute mart, the score was 9-1, their favor. So someone else scored a goal that I can’t remember.]

Anecdote #2 Adam Runs Under the Ball

So after I got banished onto the field, I didn’t really know what to do. When one of the bad guys had the ball, I’d run up to them. They would pass the ball. So I would run over to the person that now had the ball. When I would get there they would pass the ball again. Et cetera, et cetera. You get the idea.

Anyway, there was this one guy that wouldn’t pass the ball away when I got to him. Instead he would do all this fancy footwork and always put the ball on the other side of his body. It was quite impressive. Still, the guy pissed me off. I was determined to steal the ball from him at least once during the game.

So right before the half he has the ball and is driving to our goal. I am in hot pursuit, chasing him at full speed. He stops so abruptly that the ball is a full stride from him. He is standing still, and I am already in motion. I have a good angle to the ball, and the ball is too far away from him for him to toe it behind his body. I’ve got him!

Right when I get up on the ball, that bastard does a stretch kick and pops the ball straight up in the air a good 10 feet. I run right through and under the ball. Since I was running so fast, by the time I stopped and turned around, my nemesis corralled the ball and was making his way to the goal with it. I’m not sure, but I think he got called for touching the ball too many times – but still, the insult rang true.

End of Anecdote Two.

[Notes: I did eventually steal the ball away from this guy about 5 minutes from the end of the game. He actually swore to me when I did it, so I know he was trying his best to keep it from me. I think he was using me as some kind of ball handling practice.]

Anecdote #3: Michael Misses the Goal

Last anecdote, and then I’m done. This one was actually mentioned in Jake’s recap earlier, but I don’t believe he did it justice. So I’m doing it again.

Somewhere in the game, the other team started to play much looser, which I guess you can do when you are up by 15. Their goalie started coming off of defense much quicker and they were trying to give every member of their team a goal. In a fit of determination, we shut out their worst player from scoring. (And their worst player would have been 3rd best on our team).

During this fiasco, our shots on their goal were few and far between. Still there was one time when Shelah and Michael were running down field towards the opposing goal. Shelah had the ball, and the goalie charged her. She kicked it to Michael. Mike touched the ball once to control it. Then touched the ball again to get it moving forward towards the bad guy’s goal. It was just dribbling forward… Still, he had one more touch.

The whole field was quiet. Two other soccer teams were in the stands – they were playing next. They all quieted and watched in amazement. Our entire team froze in wonder. The bad guy team turned and stared. They were all playing offense. No one was back to protect the goal and their goalie was nowhere to be seen – Shelah had him tied up elsewhere. It was like time had stopped for everything except Michael and the soccer ball.

As Michael reared back for his final touch before scoring a wide-open goal, his silhouette was bracketed by the piping that marked the opposing scoring area. He was in perfect position, squarely in the middle, impossible to miss…

And then, inexplicably, he tumbled to the ground, like the crash test dummy on Mythbusters.

Worse, he landed on the ball.

If he hadn’t touched it again, the ball would have meandered slowing through the goal posts on its own. But instead he collapsed on top of the ball and as it squirted out from under him, it went straight to Shelah and the bad guy goalie.

Everyone in the facility moaned out loud. Michael threw up his hands and he staggered back up -- not in a wailing, woe-is-me, kinda way mind you, but more like Harry Houdini escaping from a straight jacket kinda way.

Somehow Shelah managed to corral the ball and give it back to Michael, who tried to head butt it into the goal. But instead it went straight back to Shelah and the goalie. Shelah, in a fit to get something out of all this, tried to kick the goal herself – but was ultimately thwarted by the goalie, as the ball went out of bounds, about 30 over the wall.

End of Anecdote Three.

[Notes: I went round and round on how to convey just how Michael went down to the tuff on this one. It defies description. Collapsed, crumbled, shambled, fell, tripped, disaterped, staggered? Wait, did I just make up a word there? Diz-a-ter-ped. Yes, yes I did. And you know what? That was the word I was looking for to describe Mike’s fall. Mike disaterped on top of the ball. Dang it, I wish I had come up with that sooner. Oh well…]

16 November 2005

Paranoid Delusions of China Taking Over the Internet

My pal sent this to me.  I assumed it was so I would comment on it and he would put the comment in his blog.  His blog  is mostly about current events and news and important stuff.  My blog is about me -- which in the grand scheme of things -- isn't important at all.  But, alas, that was not his intent.  Instead his is forcing me to blog it myself.  Now I asked plastickelly to tell me how to properly quote articles.  He replied to me to quote only 3 paragraphs, if people wanted to read more they could follow the link.  I seem incapable to quoting only a couple of paragraphs from this thing, so I guess I'm going to go amateur and quote it all.  Here it is:

From: http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110007543

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do
Should the U.S. or the U.N. control the Internet? Here's a third way.

Saturday, November 12, 2005 12:01 a.m. EST

It's been a good ride, this whole Internet thing. To hear its boosters tell it, the Net has, in addition to the porn, online poker and cheap drugs, given us democratized information, become a tool for the undermining of totalitarian regimes and given people in the farthest corners of the Earth a window on the wider world that would have been unthinkable before Al Gore invented the Internet (sic).

But all that is about to change--starting tomorrow. The bad news is that we can't really do anything about it. The good news is that the changes that are coming probably won't bring about the end of the Information Age, but merely its evolution.

Before we get to that, you're probably wondering what in the world is going on--surely if the whole Internet thing had been called off, there would have been a press release, right? Well, there was, but you may not have noticed. Tomorrow, in Tunis, Tunisia, the U.N. is hosting the World Summit on the Information Society. One of the goals of the summit is to advance the "internationalization" of what is known as "Internet governance."

Since its inception, the Internet has been a pretty American affair. Many fundamental aspects of its architecture are controlled by a California-based nonprofit corporation known as Icann, short for Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers. Icann was founded by the U.S. government and, many believe, is still controlled by it to some extent. For a lot of different reasons, that makes a lot of people mad. So, for several years now, the U.N., through events like tomorrow's summit, has been urging the U.S. to give control of Icann--or more precisely, of the root file that maps every Internet address and connects them to the names, like OpinionJournal.com, that we are all familiar with--to the U.N.'s wise stewardship.

The U.S. hates the idea, with good reason. An Internet "governed" by the U.N. could be expected to travel a familiar road. The countries with the greatest interest in regulating, limiting or controlling the Net would pull out the stops to put themselves on the governing board, and then use the U.N.'s imprimatur to justify the shackling of a once (more or less) free medium in the interests of cultural diversity, or "Asian values" or some other bromide.

That the Saudi Arabias, Chinas and Frances of the world would love to impose their own particular vision of what should and should not be available on the Internet should surprise no one. All the countries above have restricted or attempted to restrict Internet access. America, for its part, has engaged in aggressive enforcement against offshore gambling sites that are accessible from the U.S.

The U.S. is making apocalyptic predictions of what the U.N. would do if given control. Those predictions are probably optimistic; U.N. control would be a disaster. But there is a third way, as Mr. Gore might say. That alternative doesn't serve the interests of either the U.S. government, which enjoys the control it currently exercises, or its critics, who would much prefer to do their censoring under a multilateral umbrella. But if the U.S. continues its Internet brinkmanship, the third way will become not only likely, but inevitable.

That alternative is a fragmented Internet, without a single "root file" that describes the locations of everything on the Net. The U.S. government has led many to believe that this is equivalent to dismantling the Internet itself. But it is bluffing.

Here's how it might work. At some point, China will grow tired of the U.S. refusal to give up control to the U.N., and it will secede from the status quo. It will set up its own root server, tweaked to allow access only to those sites the government deems nonthreatening, and simply order every Internet service provider in the country to use it instead of Icann's. The change will be seamless to most users, but China will have set up its own private Net, one answerable to the people's revolutionaries rather than to the U.S. Commerce Department.

Others may follow suit. Root servers could spring up in France, or Cuba, or Iran. In time, the Internet might look less like the Internet and more like, say, the phone system, where there is no "controlling legal authority" on the international level. More liberal-minded countries would probably, if they did adopt a local root-server, allow users to specify which server they wanted to query when typing in, say, Microsoft.com.

As a technical means of content control, going "split root," as they say in the business, is too compelling for governments not to give it a try. But the user experience would likely be much the same as it ever was most of the time. ISPs, as well as most vaguely democratic governments, would have an interest in ensuring broad interoperability, just as no one in Saudi Arabia or China has yet decided that dialing +1-202-456-1414--the White House switchboard number--from those countries should go somewhere else, like Moammar Gadhafi's house. Nothing stops phone companies from doing things like that, except that the market expects a certain consistency in how phone calls are directed, so it is in the interests of the operators to supply what the market expects. The same principle would apply in a split-root world.

Would it be better if countries that want to muck around with the Net just didn't? Sure. But they do want to, and they will, and it would be far better, in the long run, if they did so on their own, without a U.N. agency to corrupt or give them shelter. It's time to drop the apocalyptic rhetoric about a split root file and start looking beyond the age of a U.S.-dominated Internet. Breaking up is hard to do, but in this case, the alternative would be worse.

Well my first, off the cuff response is "crap!"

I'll skip commenting on the fact that the US has control and the UN wants control.  I agree with the US -- that UN control would be a bad idea.  And it won't happen (I hope).  So I'll just comment on this author's idea of national, private Internets.

My second response even wonders how probable it is to have closed, private Internets.  Sure, I know it is doable, but hardly practical.  It is just so easy to plug into the existing backbone and start connecting to things.  Very little infrastructure is required -- just lay the cables -- and now with wireless and satellite, cables are even really needed.  It would take an immense amount of effort to disconnect yourself from the Internet and force your populace to do likewise.  I think only China has the means and ultimate drive to do so.  France isn't going to unplug itself from one of the biggest boons to economy since the dawn of the industrial age.  And neither is Saudi Arabia or Iran.  Sure, they may come up with some local root servers, but business and enforcement will not stop their populace from walking around our Internet interstate.

So really, what is the price that China will de-couple itself from the Internet?  I would say practically no immediate impact at all.  China has already gone to such great lengths to firewall the entire country that, other than business, China has very little voice on the Internet.  Companies that want to do business in China already have to set up servers in China, which are tightly monitored.  So that won't change.  I say let China do what China wants to do.

So now the danger will be if the US pisses so many people off, and if somehow the UN gets control of the Internet and gums it all up, will China be primed to take over?  I mean, lets say that China sets up a nice, controlled, single-intelligence Internet that is regulated for business only, and the rest of the Internet is splintered, disconnected and dominated by porn -- is there a chance that countries will opt to use China as their Internet?  China, like the US, has a large consumer base to justify the transition.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on an early Wednesday November morning.

15 November 2005

EVE Online Friendly Fire

A few friends and I are getting into EVE Online. It’s very different from normal Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs) in that it’s a bit more realistic in the way things work than most games of these sorts. That said, the realism is kind of hard to get used to.

Okay, I know you are going to read the next section and wonder how in the hell I can call this game realistic. I will be discussing space pirates, rogue drones, warp drive and other entirely unrealistic shenanigans and such stuffs.

But that’s not what I’m talking about when I say “realistic”. What I mean by that word is how you play with others. Confused? Let me explain a bit better. Most games regulate how you interact with other. Some keep you from attacking other people all together. Some keep you from attacking those on your “side”. When you form groups, some games regulate how all the 5w33+ l00+ (sweet loot, for those not in the know) is split up with the game divvying up all goodies to everyone equally. Well not EVE! No, you can do pretty much what ever you damn well want to in this game. Sure, all actions have serious repercussions, as the following anecdote will illustrate, but you can be very, very, very bad. And accidents can happen.

So on to my story:

I get it in my head that I am darn tired of running errands for NPCs in this game (for those not in the know NPC=Non-Player Character – people controlled by the game, not by other people). So I call out my buddies Brian and Ken – they play in my DnD game – and we meet up in Armarr space to go pick some fights with computer controlled bad guys.

Now I’m the big cheese in this group. My boat is the biggest and baddest and most expensive. So I’m strutting around the gang acting all tough. Anyway, we finally find a “deadspace” zone that has a bunch of rogue drones – they are the Christines of EVE Online – as in Christine the Steven King devil car not as in the Christine of Leapsite. They are a bunch of evil machines.

So we warp into the first deadspace and dispatch the drones there. Thinking we are hot stuff, we zone into the second deadspace. The first deadspace had two drones. The second deadspace had something like 10. Still we weren’t discouraged. I quickly set out my combat satellite, locked onto the closest target and started firing. It was soon destroyed. I looted the goods and proceeded to lock onto the next closest target.

This is where the story takes a turn, so pay attention here.

I think I am locking onto a bad guy, but instead – and I don’t know how this happened – I lock onto my buddy Ken. A warning message comes up saying that I am violating the code of conduct in CONCORD held space and asks me to confirm the targeting. The CONCORD are the EVE Online police. I think for a second or so and assess that there must be some mistake. I’m trying to kill drones. So I click, “Yes, shoot the bastards”. As I am watching the fight, it becomes apparent that Ken is taking a serious beating. I ponder for a while and notice that I am the one delivering the beating. Ken is saying things like “these are some hard drones!” and “help me Obiwanchunn, you’re my only hope”. He is still oblivious to the fact that I am shooting him in the back.

Now, in my defense, I have only learned how to target things and shoot them out of the sky. I have never had to un-target anything. I don’t know how to do it. So I was fumbling around all my controls trying to take my guns offline and unload the ammo from them and all sort of other things trying to keep from killing Ken.

After I drop poor Ken to 0% shields and 50% armor, CONCORD warps in and blasts me and my kick-ass ship instantaneously to little bitty bits. It was a good thing, because I think I was going to destroy Ken if they didn’t stop me. In a cruel bit of irony, Ken came back for me and my stuff and hauled me back to a space station to get refitted. Brian continued to fight drones, unaware of the drama that unfolded behind him.

I apologized profusely to everyone. It was a harmless mistake (at least to everyone else). Ken sustained some damage to his ship, but it was free to repair. I promptly bought a brand spanking new ship, new guns and new everything. I wanted to get back out there and beat up some drones. So far I had killed just one drone and knocked the tar out of Ken. Hardly satisfying (though a little satisfying nonetheless – don’t tell Ken that please).

So I take my newest ship straight back to the deadspace zone and before I can blink CONCORD warps in and blows me and my kick-ass new ship instantaneously to little bitty bits. Once again Ken warps in, gathers my stuff and takes me back to base.

So now my 3rd ship of the night is completely fitted with guns and other stuffs, waiting to kill some drones, but I’m scared to take it out of dock.

I have asked around on the help channels and I was told that CONCORD will forgive me in a couple of hours or so. So I logged off. I’ll play again tomorrow and hopefully my ship will last the night.

I started the night with 1,500,000 credits. I ended with 800,000 credits. So my mistake cost me nearly half my cash.

It was great fun!

13 November 2005

Adoption Illustrations

My wife has finished drawing up the badgers that will represent my brother in Austin, his rolly-polly pregnant wife and my computer-obsessed sister that is living with them as she goes to school.

I made my wife put fangs on the one that is supposed to be my brother.

Cuz he's mean.

11 November 2005

DnD Update –or– The Right to Bear Arms

My current gang of DnDers is in quite a tizzy these days. The group is made up of:
  • Dracustous – A male half-dragon sorcerer. He is obsessed with becoming a dragon. He is currently embroiled in a legal battle over an inheritance.
  • Elani – A female elvish arch-mage. She is going through a harsh divorce. She has a particular hatred of lawyers.
  • Ioctl – A male dungeon delver/rogue. He is the superintendent of a set of condos that was made out of an old dungeon. He has to make some fixes to the property for his clients, which requires the help of extra-planar beings.
  • Jerpy – A male half-orc ranger that is becoming a burgeoning demigod and is running as vice-mayor of the Sprawl.
  • Nate – A male half-orc cleric that is by far the most powerful character I have ever seen. Using all sorts of buffs and other stuffs, he can easily dole out 250hp of damage/round. He is the sheriff of a small town.
So anyway, the current wing of this campaign has had the party defeat the bastard offspring of Hermes, wrestle Ogremoch, the Prince of Evil Earth Elementals into submission, and make an all-out assault on FedXorn, the package delivery service.

While playing, it is apparent that most of the players are fairly overpowered in the game, but none so much as Nate. He is easily twice as powerful as the next player. So I decided that I would “fix” him.

Last Wednesday night I had the party ambushed by some Kuo Toa Monks of the Left Arm (the same monks that attacked the Pornhas group and disfigured Rollo). Now when they hauled off with the fallen body of Nate, everyone knew that the Monks of the Left Arm are known for amputating PC’s left arms, so Nate’s player realized his character would soon be without a quarter of his appendages.

So I had Nate’s arm removed from his person and then the Monk’s of the Left Arm ritual actually removed Nate’s left arm essence from him – preventing it from being polymorphed back or even from being regenerated.

Anyway, this whole thing didn’t go over very well with Chris, Nate’s player. I mean, I didn’t expect Chris to be happy about it, but he was very, very discouraged.

There is some kind of character study somewhere in this, but I’m not sure what it is. Some DnD players don’t seem to mind if you muck with their character. Others take it as a personal attack. I would say that half our DnD group falls on each side of this delineation. Typically, the power-gamer types hate it when I mess with their characters. The role-players don’t seem to mind it at all. The problem with this is that power-gamers give me more fits than the role-players, so I am more tempted to muck with them. It’s a catch-23.

(A catch-23 is a catch-22 that I could do something about – but for some reason I don’t.)

Next week the group will attempt to rescue Nate from the clutches of the Monks of the Left Arm. They may be able to retrieve the arm before the Kuo Toa’s make it into a belt.

07 November 2005

A History of Adam

I hope to use this as my biography for our adoption marketing book. My wife doesn’t like it. What do you think?

Adam was originally the son of a caterpillar and a pituitary gland. I know, I know, not the most romantic thing. But caterpillars and pituitary glands actually make good parents. He grew up in a ring of mushrooms in the Black Forest on the edge of Germany and India. There he sang songs with Gandhi and Rick Allen (the one-armed drummer of the 80’s hair band, Def Leppard). From their training you would figure Adam would either be a pacifist leader, a good drummer or, at least, a good singer. But, as you may suspect, neither Gandhi nor Rick Allen were very good singers, so Adam wasn’t a good singer either. Rick Allen was a good drummer, but with only one arm to teach with, he was unable to make Adam learn rhythm – a key component to any drummer. Gandhi was a great spiritual leader and stanch pacifist – but those qualities are really born, not taught. So Adam was none of these things.

Adam used to sit in his mushroom circle and make up stories in his head. He would tell these to his mother the caterpillar, but she just hung up above him in her cocoon. She didn’t really speak much, except to tell him to quiet down – she was metamophasizing. His father, the pituitary gland basically sat under a brain all day regulating body growth, water balance and blood pressure. It was a hard job and when his father came home each day, he didn’t really have time to listen to Adam’s stories.

So instead, Adam sang his stories to Gandhi and Rick Allen when they came over for a visit. One of his songs went something like this:

Yum grubs like to climb on trees
Climb on trees so high
They climb and climb and climb and climb
Until they reach the sky
And when the sky meets their grubby little paws
They jump on down from the tree
And they die from the fall

As you can tell, Adam was a bit morose. He continued to grow and actually became less morose as he got older.

One day he grew so much he put his hand down and crushed the left side of his mushroom circle. As he looked down at the crushed mushrooms he wondered what life was like on the other side of the fungus.

So he ventured outside.

And there he met Laurie. He fell in love with Laurie instantly! She had a very hard working pituitary gland and she never got nervous around bugs and things like that (i.e. caterpillars). Adam thought she was the perfect girl for him.

So he then went about to woo her heart. He settled on a technique that he learned from one of the songs that Rick Allen taught him. He got lots of sugar and had her pour it on him. He liked to buy locally, so he used Imperial Pure Cane sugar. He doesn’t know if the technique worked, but she did marry him. And she is his wife to this day.

The eighth day of their marriage his mother, the caterpillar, broke free from her chrysalis and flew into the neighbor’s bug zapper. She suffered 3rd degree burns from the incident, but she is alive and alright.

One day Adam hopes to teach a little one all the things he learned from his mother the caterpillar, his father the pituitary gland, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, and Rick Allen, the drummer from Def Leppard.

Spending the Night at the RenFest

Well my friends Kelly and Nat got married this weekend.

  • Kelly honored me by making me his best man (that’s twice now, and I insist it to be my last)
  • Kelly and Nat forced my wife and I to stay the night at the RenFest camp grounds
  • Nat forced me to wear a kilt to the wedding
  • Kelly peer pressured me to go “regimental” i.e. no housing for my boys
  • Beer that looks RenFestivalish that you buy from Spec’s is horrible, horrible stuff
Okay enough facts.

I will tell the truth here, last week I wasn’t super-happy about having to camp out at the RenFest campgrounds the day before the wedding. But since Kelly didn’t get a bachelor party and Nat didn’t get a bridal shower, I thought the least my wife and I could do to was to accommodate their request. Plus, back in the corners of my head I thought it might be fun.

Like all new events, it was both fun and not-fun. That said, it was about 3 times more fun than not. So I will probably try to camp out there more in the future.

The people Kelly and Nat hang out with are great people – a little caustic sometimes – but so am I, so I felt at home. I wish I knew them better. All of them have been friends for a long time so it’s hard to not feel like an outsider. If I go again, I’ll probably try to bring more people I know and be a little more self-sufficient – that way I don’t feel so much like a hanger-on.

I have never been camping where there are a lot of amenities. I normally go hiking/camping where all the do-dads are real, real rustic. Everything you use, you carry on your back. It was nice to have a cot to sleep on and a port-o-potty to use.

There was a guy there that made some kick-ass pork chops. It’s hard to describe a really good pork chop. But trust me, they were good.

Going to the RenFest in costume is hard to beat. All the times I have been there out of costume, I feel like I have been cheating. I think you appreciate and are appreciated more if you are decked out in old-fashioned clothing.

I had a great time.

I was a bit apprehensive about wearing a kilt with no underwear. But I did it anyway. During the fair I had to go take a whiz. Do you use a stall or a urinal? I chose urinal – but I was cheating a bit – there were little walls separating the urinals from one another. That way some stranger didn’t have to witness me grabbing the front of my kilt, lifting it and then peeing with nary a stitch of cloth on me from the waist down to my socks.

I did discover one of the drawbacks to not wearing any smallclothes – and men that read the little quips over the urinals in truck stops will get this more than others – it’s a rhyme.
No matter how much you shake
No matter how much you dance
The last drop always winds up down your leg
[Make your own segue here]

My step-brother has given up on women. He has just had enough. He is starting to get a pretty bad opinion of relationships and whatnot. He seems a decent enough guy. He’s smart, has a good job, and he’s pretty tone. So I don’t know what his deal is.

Now I have seen this comment made by characters on TV shows and the movies, but I have never actually met someone say that they are through with women. I don’t think he means it – but who knows?

He fussed about the lack of decent/available women all through the night. For some reason, bitching about women in front of a camp fire seem like the right thing to do. It must be some primordial instinct to fuss about the opposite sex to flickering flames of heat.

03 November 2005

Adoption Texts

Our idea for our adoption marketing book was to have half of it be a faux children’s book and the other half be a collection of photos and anecdotes about the characters in the illustrations.

Since the adoption marketing book has to be semi-anonymous, it is entirely bloggable. I can tell stories without giving away my secret identity or the identity of anyone I know! Perfect.

So I’ll start with my anecdote about my mother and step-father. I’ll pretend the page right before this had the cat and a bunny illustration. Okay, here goes:

First let me start off by saying that my mother is about two years and one cat away from being a “Crazy Cat Lady”. You know, one of those people that is coated in cat hair and always relates any and all conversation to her cats. It is her obsession with the animals that made us pick them as the “Kitty family”.

Actually my mother is really the only person of the three is cat-centric. The other two, my grandmother Oneida and my step-father WD have different obsessions. My step-father loves history books and my grandmother loves the Dallas Cowboys football team.

Both WD and my mother go regularly to various museums around town. That said, they aren’t all hoity-toity like you would think people that loved to go to museums would be. All three of them are pretty down-to-earth types.

Anyway I just wanted to explain the illustrations in relation to this part of my family. If we could somehow have justified some Dallas Cowboy memorabilia in the illustration, we would have added it to round out all three of them.

I don’t want to dwell too much on facts and other boring stuff. Instead I thought I would try to tell a small, interesting anecdote about all three of them. Since I don’t think I can come up with an amusing story that has all three of them, I’ll have to come up with two separate ones. The first involves my mother, Lonni, and my grandmother, Oneida.
My mom is kinda domineering. She probably wouldn’t admit it, and heck, she may even be offended by me saying it. But it’s true. My grandmother is very easy going, so typically she gets dragged around doing what my mother wants to do.

I try to take my mom out to dinner once a month or so (I’d do it more, but our schedules clash somewhat.) Anyway on one of the days my wife and I were going to take them out to eat my mom decides we are going to eat at a New York style deli.

My grandmother is a bit conservative when it comes to food. My mother is more experimental. Anyway, I think my mom convinced my grandmother to go to the restaurant because it sounded like American food.

It’s not.

Let me tell you, there is nothing more odd to eat than food served at this place. It was all American Jewish food. It was very good. But very odd. Anyway, I don’t think my grandmother liked it very much.

The next month we went to Luby’s.
Okay done with that anecdote. Now one about my step-father.
My step-father and I have a very unusual relationship – it’s more older-brother-ish than father-ish. I care a great deal for the man, and I consider him one of my parents. But he has always treated me more like an brother than a son. Anyway, every once-in-a-while while I was growing up he would decide that I needed to be spanked. (I’ll admit it, I probably did need to be thwacked more than not.) But I would never let him spank me. I always ran away from him. And not in that “cowering in fear” run away, more like “nyan-nyan, you can’t catch me” kind of run away.

So this one time he chases me all around the house, and I’m knocking stuff down in my path so he has to hurdle his way over it to get to me – all the time with a belt in his hand – and he just gives up.

Feeling like the king of the house, I strut around acting like I’m beyond reprisal. All full of bravado and ego.

Well, my step-father worked the night shift at the bank at the time and when he got home at four in the morning, I woke up to the thwack of a belt across my butt. It actually took several hits to get me to wake up. But he made his point. There after I took most of my spankings in the wee-hours of the morning.

My wife wrote the following narrative for the faux children’s book (I’m Adam, she’s Laurie):

One morning, Bunny woke up to find a gift at the foot of her bed.

There was a tag attached to the gift that read: “Dear Bunny, This is a gift for you to give. Please find the family this gift was meant for. Love, God”

So Bunny set out to find the gift’s family.

After traveling for a while, Bunny came to the state of Oregon. When Bunny got to Oregon, she met the Beaver family. Judy and Pete Beaver took a break from working on their house and poured some coffee for their guest.

“I’m looking for a family to give this gift to”, said Bunny.

“Try the Seal family in California” said the Beavers, and point out the direction.

So Bunny took her gift to California, which was bright with sunshine and had lots of people. There she found the Seal family. Christine and Hans Seal took a break from their music and dancing to talk to Bunny.

“I’m looking for [dialogue to be provided later, anyone have any ideas?]” said Bunny.

“Try the Kitty family in Texas” said the Seals, and pointed out the way.

So Bunny traveled to Texas, which was big and wide-open. There she found the Kitty family. Lonni, WD and Grandma Oneida Kitty had just got back from the museum and were going to head back out to the bookstore.

“I’m looking for ” said Bunny.

“Try the Turtle family down the road” said the Kitty family, and pointed out the way.

A little ways down the road Bunny found Tama and Wayman Turtle who were on their way to church.

“I’m looking for [you get the idea, we are working on this]”, said Bunny.

“Try the Badger family in Austin” said the Turtles, and pointed out the way.

So Bunny went to Austin, which is the capital of Texas, and found the Badger family. Alexis Badger had just gotten home from class, and Ethan and Katherine Badger were getting ready for the baby they were going to have soon.

“I’m looking for [blah blah blah]”, said Bunny.

“Try the Hedgehog family on the other side of town” said the Badger family, and told her how to get there.

On the other side of Austin, Bunny met the Hedgehog family. Sam Hedgehog was building a beautiful little stool out of wood and Katrina Hedgehog was cooking dinner for little Gracie Hedgehog.

“I’m looking for [stop rolling your eyes]”, said Bunny.

“Try the Bear family in Alaska” said the Hedgehogs, and pointed out the way.

So Bunny traveled to Alaska, which was full of rivers and glaciers, and found the Bear family. Suzanne, Ben, Kyzyl and Agafia Bear were jumping and playing on their trampoline.

“I’m looking for [this space for rent]”, said Bunny.

“Try the Puppy family back in Houston” said the Bears.

Bunny stopped them, “I know the way”. And off she went.

So Bunny traveled all the way back to Houston, where she met the Puppy family. Bethany Puppy was getting ready to go to her job at a childcare center and Linda Puppy was taking care of some animals that didn’t have homes.

“I’m looking for [if you’re thinking I’ve run out of quips, you’re right]”, said Bunny.

“We know just the family” said Bethany and Linda, “and they are right down the road.” They pointed Bunny to the house of Laurie and Adam.

So Bunny went down the road and met Laurie and Adam.

“We are looking for a gift” said Laurie and Adam, “to share with all our family. The Beavers, the Seals, the Kitties, the Turtles, the Badgers, the Hedgehogs, the Bears and the Puppies!” Because to us, they are all one big family.

So Bunny sat down to decide if Adam and Laurie’s family was the family her gift was meant for.

The End.