I’ve heard December 1963 on the radio about five times in the last week. That’s more often than most songs getting saturation coverage on the top-40 station I listen to.

OHSU needs to get pollers who can competently read a sentence.

State of my breakfast: not good, and not strong. No milk, no bread. Pumpkin/chocolate chip cookies and water, I guess. *sigh*

State of the Union

The state of my hard drive is good and strong…ly packed, going back to Seagate for warranty replacement. The whole process has been long and painful: first getting the drive to recognize that it was dead, then trying to extract it from the G5 (whose drives should just slide in, but one of mine—for whatever reason—was stuck), and finally trying to pack it to Seagate’s exacting requirements. If you don’t pack the drive in an electrostatic bag or a SeaShell case, surrounded on all sides by at least two inches of foam rubber, then we may declare your warranty null and void. Can they really get away with that, legally? Beats me, but it looks like other hard drive vendors pull the same crap.

On the upside, this gave me an excuse to go visit The Foam Man, a longtime business that I’ve never before had reason to visit. The shop consists mostly of some cutting tools, more foam than you can shake a stick at, and a jovial guy behind the counter. Oh, and the demo couch: left side is the original padding, right side is the replaced foam padding. Idea is you sit on the couch, not in it.

On the downside, the foam and shipping cost me twenty bucks; not the cheapest in-warranty repair cost I’ve ever had.

The state of Andy and Julie’s wedding was good and strong. Andy is an outgoing guy who makes lots of friends, and it showed in the sheer number of his wedding guests. The wedding itself was more laid-back than I expected, and the post-wedding reception was far more elaborate. Saw old faces such as Joel and Matt—old enough that I was glad I still remembered their names—and helped Neil develop a couple truly awesome “million dollar” ideas. (I didn’t tell you this, but: whammy bar on a piano. As Brian pointed out, how else are you going to be able to play Bulls on Parade?)

Truly a pleasant evening—so pleasant, in fact, that it made Friday feel like Saturday. Saturday, in turn, felt like Sunday. Sunday then somehow felt like Saturday again… leaving me tired and feeling like I my weekend was shorted on Monday.

The state of Metal Gear Online is good and getting stronger. I’m still bad enough to stick to the beginner servers—where it’s hit-and-miss whether or not you’ll find a team who tries to work together—but I’m not an entirely lost cause. Last night, courtesy of a combination of S. Snake as the Metal Gear Mk. 2 and a bunch of people who wandered around alone, I scored my first victory as Snake in a sneaking mission. (Sneaking missions put Snake—and a little robot with a stun whip, if there are enough players—against two teams. The two teams are trying to kill both each other and Snake; Snake tries to collect three dog tags from the two teams.) I’d be happier, but my victory was definitely not the result of anything I did.

The state of learning Ruby on Mac OS X keeps getting…wait for it… better and stronger. I don’t know how I missed it before, but the MacRuby project looks like it might let me realize a long-time goal I’ve had about writing a “real” Mac application. Thing is, I’ve always hated programming in C (and am too lazy to learn Objective-C), so it was obvious I was never going to get very far. This may change that, and gives me hope that learning to program Ruby will have more benefits than simply letting me try to learn Rails.

What program would I write? …beats me.

(Bet you all can’t guess what my favorite part of Bush’s State of the Union address was each year. Good and strong are—IMO—hilarious ways to describe the state of the union, and their funniness compounded with each year they were used.)

Now the only question is: buy a replacement drive, or pare things down and use one of the smaller drives I have lying around? Also: does my warranty cover failing-but-not-yet-failed drives?

My tower’s been crashing a lot, lately. Noticed today that DiskWarrior is quietly logging that my boot drive has more bad blocks than it is prepared to deal with. Thanks for letting me know, DW.

Obama needs to get his push pollers better phone lines.


[No spoilers; fear not.]

Brian and I opened GameStop yesterday morning to claim our copies of MGS4. We actually arrived about five minutes before the store opened… and about one minute before a guy dressed as Snake. Camo shirt, bandana, eyepatch, cigarette, slicked-back hair… my first thought upon seeing him was Oh God; Brian later confirmed that he had a similar reaction.

Turns out that he wasn’t a rabid fanboy (this coming from a guy who would have attended a midnight launch of the game, mind you), but an employee of GameStop having fun with a major launch. His laid-back attitude, especially in contrast to what we were expecting, made the wait much more entertaining than it would have otherwise been.

The other people waiting included a (“get back to middle-school!”) young boy, a rather disgruntled-looking couple, and some random guys both older and younger than me. Not a terribly impressive showing; I can understand why they didn’t both opening at midnight.

The game itself controls quite well, and (of course) is gorgeous; my new favorite move (ever) is rolling around when you’re lying on the ground. This game is going to make playing other games where your set of abilities is hugely constrained (I’m looking at you, Resident Evil 4) even more frustrating to play.

If you didn’t read the legalese of the Metal Gear Online beta (lots of which involved issues with microtransactions), you wouldn’t have gotten a whiff of the capitalistic stench coming off of it. The final version of MGO hits you over the head with its capitalistic greed, explaining that you have the ability to create one free MGO character for your game and PS3, but will have to pay for others.

Also, some punk stole my MGO beta character’s name. This saddens me, as I had become rather fond of (my initial joke-character, before I realized I couldn’t make others) OGC.

Lots of noobs to feed off of in MGO right now; a good number of seasoned players are also around to pick them off. I’m nothing great, but I can still pick off the ones with rookie eyes… though I imagine I look like one of them, to anyone with some skill. Them: haha at least that n00b tried to shoot in my direction. Me: gdmnt.

But, yeah. This is the first time I’ve played an MGS title at launch, and also the first time I’ve played without an all-knowing Brian watching me get slaughtered. (The “all-knowing” part has changed; I’m still getting slaughtered.) I’ve improved over past games, though, where—if left to my own devices—I would have crawled through the entire game. Nowadays I’m more likely to take risks and actually move forward with some semblance of speed. (I.e. in the past I played as if I were Snake in enemy territory; now I play more like Snake in enemy territory.) Somehow the whole experience is more fun that way.

Grinning like a loon; playing MGS4.

T-minus 9.5 hours until Metal Gear Solid 4. No midnight launches ’round these parts, which probably means (given my age and general lack of fanboy devotion to most series) I’ll never get to experience a midnight launch of a game.

Vienna Teng

My mom frequently played Jim Croce on the stereo when I was little. So much so, in fact, that I now associate his songs with the peace and warmth of being a little kid safe at home.

Late last year I found another artist who evokes similar feelings in me: Vienna Teng. I’ve clumsily described her music as “home-y,” as in music that makes a place feel like home, and her first two CDs (the third hasn’t done as much for me) have quickly become some of my most treasured.

And while I don’t have the guts that Greyduck does to record myself extolling the virtues of her music, I can link to several live performances of a few of my favorite songs. While these renditions fall short (in my opinion) of the CD versions [some of which are in rotation on her website], I’d argue that the music still speaks for itself much more eloquently than I could:


Homecoming (Walter’s Song)

Lullabye for a Stormy Night

If anime fans applied their zeal to solving real-world problems…

…we might not have a Lucky Star OP lovingly recreated with 3D-rendered Haruhi characters, but maybe we would have something that changed the world.

As it is, enjoy this Lucky Star OP lovingly recreated with 3D-rendered Haruhi characters.

Recently got my invitation to my ten-year high school reunion. The reunion costs $74, and will feature “music from [my] generation.” I am experiencing increasingly-mixed feelings about this.

Apparently my problem is that I’m not already getting soaked by a cell phone company (I use a prepaid plan and don’t talk on the phone much), and so can’t justify an iPhone by saying “it’s only $20 more than what I already pay per month.”

So Apple (through AT&T subsidies) is going to sell a 3G iPhone for $200. Thing is, the upfront cost of the iPhone has never been that big of a deterrent to me—it’s the monthly bill from AT&T that keeps my credit card firmly planted in my wallet.

Back towards the future

As I mentioned to Brian recently, the last couple years of my life have been oddly static. Yes, I moved around a bit, but the people I interacted with basically held constant, and my weeks fell into a fairly predictable routine: NCIS and House on Tuesday nights. Dance practice on Wednesdays. RRR (read Thursday-Thursday-Thursday) on (wait for it) Thursday, and Defense Night on Saturdays.

I’ve seen many people pass through ballroom dance practices as they work their way through college. (It’s a bit depressing if I think about it too much.) Still, I’ve had a small but constant group of friends the last few years—increasingly composed of people who stay in-town after they graduate. (Those two statements make logical sense, by the way: my group of friends has remained constant, but many of them have graduated in the last few years and elected to stay in town.)

Even the practice itself generally falls into one of a few patterns. Barry and I will invariably grumble about the length of a salsa. Daniel will dance the one polka that is played with more gusto and joy than I could ever muster, and Janis will study some facet of animal anatomy during songs that she doesn’t care for. Jonathan will chat when he’s not dancing lindy hop—his dance of choice. Christine and I will dance a foxtrot (or, more recently, a nightclub two-step). Britta will hug me from behind. Emerald and I will dance some random dance and be oddly comfortable with our general lack of conversation. Sophie, when she shows up, will dance the last waltz with me with her eyes shut—which will invariably make me sweat bullets as I try to ensure her safety. I’ll dance a west-coast swing with Jenny every once in a while; I don’t know how (and it’s too late for me to try) to begin describing my interactions with her.

For good dances, another set of people from the past will show up: Ae-young, Summer, Tiffany, Connie, Robyn… good times with all of them.

RRR is where Brian and I would meet at the Beanery at 10:00 pm, chat up the baristas (we’ve met a good number of people there, most notably Tom and Jessica, and Amanda, Aubree, and Cassie), and then return to Brian’s place (in the early days) or my place to play video games for a few hours. RRR, in this form, has been going strong since some time in 2004. I can’t possibly recall everything we’ve done on Thursday nights, but the list includes such feats as watching the Kyoto arc of Rurouni Kenshin and playing through all of Bully. At the moment we’re making our way through Growlanser II.

Defense Night is a somewhat-weekly get-together for Brian, Nate, and myself to stave off the boredom of living in a small town. Its roots can be traced back to Movie Night (prominent feature: trying to get multiple people to agree to one movie while standing around in Hollywood Video), through watching Speed Grapher (where the term murder-blood entered our lexicon), and finally in our watching of Ground Defense Force Mao-chan.

Imagine three twenty-something males watching a cartoon made for prepubescent girls. (That’s what it was.) Somehow, though, in the majority of its twenty-odd fifteen-minute episodes, there was a nugget of humor that was like crack to us. Mao-chan wanted to defend the Earth (from cute aliens, of course)… and Defense Night earned its name.

In its current incarnation, Defense Night has taken the form of Earth Defense Force 2017, where we defend the earth by killing giant ants and spiders (and dino-mechs!). It’s pretty much Starship Troopers in video game form, and has been horrifyingly addictive. We are currently 80-some hours into the game (!!!), and are one level away from completing the whole thing. (To give you an idea of what this involved: there are 53 stages in the game, and five difficulty levels. We are finishing up the final difficulty level, “inferno,” which is inexplicably more difficult than “hardest.”)

The days of these patterns are drawing to a close, however. Sophie and others are graduating and leaving, and our Beanery friends are starting to move on as well. Brian will be moving to Portland by the end of the month. Andy (another important friend, despite his absence in the above) is getting married in a few weeks. Time is once again moving forward, and things around here are going to be much more dull for it.

I’m feeling oddly calm about all these changes, though. As I watched the graduates-to-be on the last Wednesday night practice of their college experience, I was reminded of myself at similar points in time: finishing middle school, graduating from high school, and graduating from college. At those points I tended to withdraw when everyone else was partying, preferring quiet reflection instead. Those periods felt momentous, and I tried my best to extract meaning from them.

I guess I still take time to reflect a bit (this post being Exhibit A), though these days I seem to be all out of meaning. My calmness seems to be the result of some level of acceptance that things change—or, in a larger sense, that things will be what they are going to be. I remain uncertain if this acceptance is the wisdom—or the cynicism—that comes with age.

I’m somewhat of an Apple geek; I like running the latest version of their OS. Also, I dislike maintaining different OS versions on multiple machines. This news, if true (and word everywhere is that it’s true), means I’ll be in a world of dislike for a while. </whine>

Word on the street is that my dual-processor G5 is going to be ditched by Apple in Mac OS X 10.6, scheduled to be released in January of next year. Worse still is the rumor that Apple may also leave behind my Core Duo MacBook since it’s only 32-bit.

Incidentally, Marin thinks that I should call my “tweet” equivalent a Brentwit. She seems to enjoy the double-edged reading of her term a little too much.

Behold the terror that I have unleashed upon you!

Blog Version 2.5

So I finally sat down today and hacked out the new “feature” I’ve been wanting to add to this blog—the one that I hope will get me posting more frequently. I had been wanting to pair it with a revised design, but that doesn’t seem to be in the cards anytime soon. That’s OK, though; I’m still fond of this setup.

The new feature? The ability to have mini-blog posts. Something like the reclusive, anti-social little brother of Twitter. Upside is that I should have better reliability than Twitter seems to be having; downside is that I don’t get any of the nifty-cool-spiffo social networking features—including my personal favorite, the ability to have @person conversations. Comments will have to suffice.

I’m still wary of this whole “social web” thing. My internal Admiral Ackbar continues to cry it’s a trap!

I haven’t had time to dig through the RSS feeds, either, so for now anyone reading via RSS will be doomed to a potential glut of mini-posts. Sometime in the future I’ll get around to setting up a real-post-only feed (contents: sound of crickets), but that’ll probably be around the time I get around to updating my layout.

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