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.

Changed My Template

For all you grouches that complained about my blog template, I have change it to autosize all browsers. Enjoy!

More Adoptions Workings

More pictures for our adoption marketing book. The following is probably the last of the protagonist rabbits.

Next we move onto portrayals of various members of our family and bits of illustration that better describes them. For example, can you guess who the next two pix describe?

My wife’s parents are from Oregon, the state is known for its beavers (quit laughing – I get it – this is a faux kid’s book for goodness sake!)

My parents and grandmother are represented by museum going, book reading cats – since they live with something like 10 of the filthy animals. (Okay, I’ll fess up, I live with a couple too.)

My wife’s sibling and wife live in San Francisco and are in a belly-dancing troupe – hence the seals, drums, and jewelry.

Bitching About Work and the Irony Thereof

Okay this should close out the last of the "anecdotes" that I am required to post.

I work in a hostile environment. And I don't say that to engender sympathy or anything like that. I kind of enjoy it and sometimes perpetuate it. It pushes me harder than I would normally push myself. It also allows me to push others harder than they would push themselves. It does, however, create a sometimes caustic workplace – which is hard to take in large doses. It is not uncommon for someone to get bawled out. We've had several people quit over it in the past.

Anyway, my anecdote:

I have been working on my current project for almost 9 months. It started out great, I was always ahead and my stuff was well designed, easy to debug and simple to maintain. About two months ago I integrated my beautiful project into a new driver environment written by another division in my company. That last sentence really doesn't really have to be understood the way I wrote it. It just means that I had to start using someone else's stuff in my stuff.

Of course I have had no ends of crap break on me because of it.

I would like to say it was because the other group's stuff was junk and buggy and all sort of other bad things. But that's not true. The other division's stuff was just a much, much bigger and grand project than mine. My project has 4 full time engineers on it, theirs 12. I am in charge of my stuff, I am not in charge of their stuff. All things considered their stuff is pretty good -- its just not my stuff. In the words of George Carlin: my stuff, your shit.

Still, my project came to a screeching halt because of the new stuff.

Anyway my boss lets my project fester for a bit (about a month). I had tons of horrible bugs that kept me from getting anything done. Eventually I got called in to a meeting with my boss and the guy in charge of the stuff that wasn't working (I'll call him "the guy" from now on). He then proceeded to chew out the guy for a good hour and a half. I had to sit through all of it and get chewed on a bit myself in the process.

It was the opposite of fun.

Anyway, we get out of the meeting and I have a voice message left on my phone. It was recorded about 15 minutes after my ass-chewing meeting started. It was from one of the guys working under me and he said that he found the last bug and all the tests were now running.

Sure enough, I checked out his changes to the project and the new stuff and everything ran fine. (That's a lie, but it makes a better story – lets just say the sky was no longer falling.)

So now I had the dilemma, do I go immediately to my boss and tell him everything is fixed? If I do, it looks like I'm either a liar or an idiot. What are the odds that everything gets fixed during the reamfest?

Anyway that's the anecdote.

As an interesting aside, did you ever watch that show Roots based on the novel by Alex Haley? There is a harsh scene in it where the KKK is beating this black guy with a whip. The black guy's white neighbor takes the whip from the KKK people and starts beating the black guy himself. The KKK is happy the black guy's getting beaten and leave. The moment they leave the white neighbor drops the whip. The black guy is pissed that his white neighbor had the nerve to beat him. The white neighbor claimed that he did it to save the black guy otherwise the KKK would have beaten him to death.

It’s an interesting study about people there. I find in these ass-chewing sessions where someone is getting hammered by my boss, that if I start bitching at the person getting chewed on, my boss eases up and thinks he's done his job. The person getting chewed out by both me and my boss never sees it as me doing them a favor. Still I do it because that way I don't have to suffer through longer meetings. It makes it end quicker, which is better for everyone. Its analogous to the Roots story.

EVE Online and God

I started playing EVE Online because my company sold some high-end hardware to CCP -- the Icelandic game developer. We did a good job in increasing their game's performance quite a bit. Anyway, that's kind of beside the point. The game is a massively-multiplayer space economic and combat simulation. Tons of people pay in this fake futuristic world where you mine asteroids, fight pirates, join corporations and trade across the galaxy. It’s very in-depth.

They stopped by our offices for a visit since they went to attend the Austin Gaming Convention and we were "on the way". They gave us a little spiel on why their game is great and showed us some nice looking graphics that showcased why their game was different. (Which it is, by the way).

While talking to the CEO of the company I asked him if they had to adjust the rules of the game very much. I have played in a couple of these massively online games and everyone I have been on has constantly tweaked the rules to keep the game balanced and fun. EVE is about 3 years old now so I was wondering if the amount of rules tweaks were constant, or diminishing. I was just curious.

His answer kind of adjusted my world philosophy a bit. I'm paraphrasing here, so remember that, but he said something like this:

"I empathize with Old Testament God. When we started making our world, we couldn't just adjust the rules to make fixes, we had to go into the game world and destroy things that were breaking the rules. Essentially we smote the 'sinners'. Now, after more of our rules are in place and it is harder to unbalance the game, we can get away with making minor tweaks here and there to fix things. We still do the same amount of small tweaks, but we don't manifest our vengeance in game form often anymore."

I love things that may give me insight to the way the universe works. Looking at the Judeo/Christian religion, the fall of man seems like it was the only mistake. Or at least that is the only one that was really spelled out in the Bible. It could be likely that there were still all sorts of problems in the world, and maybe the fall of mankind was just the biggest. It just took God a lot of time get things to the state where he could tweak things subtlety. It could explain the difference in God now and God then. More divine vengeance and miracles then, more subtle unnoticeables now.