Saturday, March 31, 2007

Sooner then expected

People have asked what I was going to do for my birthday, when I reply that I have work that night they are inevitably more sad then I am. I'm not particularly phased by it. I only work two days a week, so I have no dearth of free time. I could go out all night for three nights in a row and still have two days to sleep it off before work.

I'm really not the person to go out much anyway, but that's beside the point.

One thing that occurs to me is that I'm kind of jumping ahead on my plans for my birthday next year. I read somewhere that if you get really specific the most likely scenario in which a young adult will die is an alcohol related car accident on their 21st birthday. More general studies will show that alcohol related car accidents are the leading cause of death in the youth segment.

Because of this I had planned to spend the night of my 21st birthday indoors doing nothing. The cards are just too stacked against me that night, and I'm not giving fate that chance.


I just finished folding things and I've entered the relaxing screwing around phase of the night. Getting on to the computer I found a browser window open to a google search for "April fools pranks on pregnant women."

There's a lot one could say from there, but I'm not going to go into it; it's just too awkward.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Level 5

So I'm 20 today. I'm now officially not a teenager, but to be honest it doesn't feel that much different. I feel like I should be applying the Big Scary Number theory to this, but it just isn't clicking.

For those of you who aren't familiar BSN theory states that things happen more dramatically and significantly at times marked by numbers that are uncannily even.

The one thing that does occur to me is that I'm now level 5 in the levels game. This is another game of putting D&D mechanics over the real world. The rules are simple and loose, and I'll give you the gist of them. You get one level for each four years your alive. You can only choose NPC classes, since in theory none of us are truly heroic, and I play with one additional rule concerning the scholar NPC class. This rule is that for passing certain points you have to have a level in scholar. You get one for completing Elementary school, one for high school, and one for each degree you get. Middle school, as we all know, is just a holding pen they throw you in while you go through the worst phases of puberty. A quick example of this rule, my brother would have three levels of scholar since he has a bachelors degree, while my father Professor Willson would have at least 5 levels of scholar since he has Elementary school, high school, Bachelors Masters and a PhD.

Before now I had listed myself as thus

2 Scholar
1 Scout (reflecting my eagle scout experience)
1 Adept (the NPC spellcasting class, reflecting my mystical bent)

And reflecting on what I've gained from Project Exodus I'd say that I've gained another level of Adept. I have more to say on the mystical bent, but I'm not properly motivated to write it out right now.

Thursday, March 29, 2007


I'm back from the U District, having completed all of this days heavy burdens in the course of 4 hours, and getting bonus points for managing to grab Liberty Meadows compilation 4, and a #9 Chicken & Beef Terriyaki along the way.

Re-enrollment has been filed. I have this background fear which I remember having two years ago, namely the "I hope I get in" fear. It's nonsense of course, I already got in, but some part of me is temporally transposed and unable to escape that.

It's strange what echoes we carry with us. Thinking of all that I've gained in only twenty years I wonder how anyone can live to be thirty and not be consumed by madness. Perhaps I'm the only one who experiences these episodes of the past, reliving the intense fear, triumph, shame, or pain that marked that moment so clearly into my mind. Perhaps memory is mercifully mitigated and madness and melancholy are made mere mummers of minutia.

I come here to the conclusion I come to almost every time I think of such things. I simply don't know. Give me another twenty years and perhaps I'll have figured it out, or perhaps I will have to fortune to have forgotten the whole thing.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

New Girl

I'm used to coming in around forty minutes early on Saturdays because J used to be the one working the shift before me, and he was inevitably itching to leave. It worked out fine, he got to leave early, and I continued my campaign of nickle and dimeing the hourly wage system. However we have a new employee, we'll call her T. T is a well meaning student who, as far as I know, doesn't engage in the baccian lifestyle that J does. She's also new, so she's still a little bit unsure of herself.

Since I came in an hour early today, and because she isn't part of the unspoken agreement J and I have, she was confused. I may have done more harm then good when I explained that I have to come in early because of the bus schedules, and that if she wants to leave early I can cover the front desk for the last twenty minutes or so. My concerns about corrupting the poor new girl are easily sedated by the fact that for the next twenty minutes I'm getting paid to sit around reading webcomics. No one comes in between 10:30 and 11.


This story takes us once again into Azeroth.

It involves a Fel Reaver. Normally when one encounters a Fel Reaver in the game world it takes the form of a 100' tall mechanized monstrosity fueled by demon fire, marching across the landscape crushing the hopes of the innocent and the bodies of the brave. They are truly a fright to behold, and fighting one alone is essentially impossible.

Well there's a quest much later one, in an area far from the roaming Fel Reavers that involves the demonic equivalent of a factory. Dread technicians use some form of horrible magic to build creatures called Infernals out of boulders and pale green hellfire. At this particular location a whole grid of infernals is visible, easily 20 long on either axis. Fighting them all, and their constructors, and the overseers would be hopeless madness, but a bit of gnomish trickery makes it all possible.

My eyes browsed the quest description again as I headed into place, and I began to understand that what I had here was a candy made of awesome and win with a nougaty center of vengeance and sadistic glee, all of which is wrapped up in the shiny wrapper of a delusional power trip.

You get to hijack a Fel Reaver.

I couldn't let this one go to waste, a flick of the wrist and a few keybinds later iTunes loaded and I slotted a few things into place, I snapped back into the game with only a few seconds to get into place. I activate the controls and quickly see what the beast can do. Rocket Salvo, Sonic torrent, Concussion stomp and a turbo boost, to say nothing of the horrors I could wreak by simply beating on things. The open cords rang through my headphones and my fingers danced across the keys, the Demonic factory explodes into chaos. I'm immediately swarmed but the only thing more futile then their attempts to kill me is their attempt to avoid being killed by me. Flames and explosions surround me, I am the eye of the storm of reckoning, and all the while my soundtrack sings the glory of my onslaught.

"Ohhhh No! They Say he's got to go, Go Go GODZILLA!"

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Variations on a Theme

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


So I didn't get anything done today. I woke up at 4, the store closes at 5, and it takes an hour to get anywhere by bus.

That's okay though, I have a bottomless well of awesome that excuses this. C&C have acquired an item that I now have a divine imperative to acquire. It's an "HD Projector." Saying it that way doesn't show the true power of the machine. You first have to know that we've been gaming on a TV from the 70s that is less then 420p, it's Sub-SD. For everyone out there who isn't a nerd it's a low quality TV. Now we've got a 95 inch screen splashed onto the wall in glorious 1080i. Chris combined this with his already powerful speaker array.

So now we've got our L-couch pointed at our wall turned 95 inch HD display. We have all three next-gen consoles, a bad ass speaker array, 1o Mbps Cable modem with Wi-fi, and the oldest most authority minded person around is me. We're living the slacker dream

We have achieved Supremacy.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Random thoughts, British Import version

Blue food colouring is not a spice, and should not be added randomly to rice.

Random Thoughts

If I ever write a book I'm going to claim that the entire thing is an Anagram, just to give puzzlecrackers something to do.

Sunday, March 18, 2007


So I now have renewed humility when it comes to my knowledge of computer hardware, but renewed faith in my innate mechanical luck.

It took me about fifteen minutes to fashion a tubular key out of a paperclip, It would've gone a lot faster if I'd tried making a faux key first, instead of trying to little tension bars for each of the four tumblers. Upon opening the case up I didn't see any real issues. I examined everything thoroughly, nothing was burned or damaged or shaken in any way. I tried to install the extra RAM that Chris had brought home one day, but my motherboard uses a different format. And don't bother asking, the conditions that lead to one finding RAM just laying around completely allude me.

Examining the internals of my machine I realized that I don't know quite as much as I thought I did. The most troubling thing was that I couldn't locate my sound card. The sound ports seemed to be wired to the motherboard, is it integrated to the motherboard? I really can't say. Despite the new found dearth in my technical knowledge I still knew enough to conclude that there were no hardware problems with my machine, and after some dusting I closed it back up, and decided to try it one last time to see if some kind of invisible hand had cured my machine while I was staring at its components.

And apparently it had. The PC booted eventually, it threw a bizarre error "The CPU has been changed" but it's running fine now. The only reasonable conclusion I can make is that the fan over the CPU had been knocked loose in some way, and that I had inadvertently fixed it while dusting it. Then again if this really was a heating issue it could've been one of the other seven fans in my machine that was loosened and inadvertently fixed. Maybe the problem was the dust itself, I really can't say but it's functioning and I'm not going to question it. With this in mind, and with a new found understand of how tenuous its function may be, I'm going to go backup everything of even moderate worth onto Kevin's hard drive.

Poor Decisions

What happened just now is the result of a series of poor decisions.

It starts with me reading webcomics and just reveling in the fact that I still get paid even if I finish all the laundry by 2 a.m. I'm sitting at the computer reading, and somewhere in the back of my mind I can feel that a few of my moustache hairs have gotten long enough that they're reaching my mouth. I absent mindedly being to bite at them. That's the first poor decision. Whatever perverse being is in charge of orchestrating my fidgeting makes a game out of this. I begin pulling whole hairs out with my teeth. It's mildly painful, but it doesn't pass threshold so it's ignored. This is why I don't notice it until I've pulled out 10-15 hairs in my already thin facial hair. I could've just stopped the whole thing there, but the fact that my stubbery is now lopsided is bugging me, and I decide to do something about it. That was the second poor decision. There really isn't a good way to even it out, and on impulse I shave off the entire thing, my third poor decision. With the total lack of a moustache I now have a weird far too short goatee, which may actually be a soul patch, and because of the new vacancy I can see that I've given myself an odd bruise on my left lip from pulling out hairs. I'm considering shaving off what remains of my facial hair, but I've made so many bad choices on that matter already that it seems like doing anything else is just asking for trouble. It really hasn't been my day today. Well, this last 24 hour preiod hasn't been mine, I don't subscribe to the normal ordering of "days"

Saturday, March 17, 2007


My Computer is Broken.

As a technophile and a denizen of the Internet this is a crippling blow. I'm severed from my vast array of resources and contacts. Needless to say I'm doing everything in my power to rectify this situation.

How did this happen, you may ask. Well I was moving the tower so that I could clean the area around it, it's been a while since I've done this and it's become necessary, and when I put the tower back it wouldn't start up. I restarted it and it would start running, but no signal was going to the monitor, and the system began emitting a harsh siren like beep. Alienware's automated tech support offers me no assistance, they have a live help service, but it's not available until Monday.

I should premise this next bit by saying that no matter how many theories I have I ultimately don't know what's going on, but I'm fairly certain it's a heating issue. Either a fan was knocked loose while I was moving it (which would be some form of inverse miracle) or the system was running kind of hot before and wants to cool down before restarting. Both are possible. I was going to open the box up, but I don't have the little "Tubular Key" that Alienware uses to lock their cases. The lock isn't very complex, a series of paperclips should allow me to unlock it, but in the meantime I'm sealed out. I'm hoping that this will be resolved in a way that doesn't involve me buying a new computer or losing all the of stuff I have on my current one. Browsing the "Maxonian Invasion Territory" folder on Kevin's hard drive I see that while I had the wisdom to back up all of my torrented amusements I didn't ever archive my various digital photographs. I have much of those scattered to various CDs, and stored conveniently on Facebook, but it will still be annoying.

If proverbial push does come to shove and I have to get a new computer I almost certainly won't end up buying an entirely new one. I'll buy a new case and probably a new motherboard, but I should be able to get everything else I need by cannibalizing my previous machine. I'll probably try to get some kind of liquid cooling system set up as well.

Ugh. My mind is racing through all of the things that I use the machine for. Luckily I still have my laptop, which is how I'm writing this now, but that's on loan to Kevin until he fixes his laptop which is also out of commission.

I'm done worrying about this for now. I'm going to go play Crackdown. Normal people have their comfort foods and their easy going comedy shows to nurture them when their stressed, gamers take comfort in blowing things up.

Maybe we are messed up.


I have enough money now that I have an entertainment budget again. I have enough in that pool to buy one significant thing. My thoughts immediately begin to swirl

We can finally buy a 2nd monitor!
A PDA would be really nice
Daddy needs a new stack of RAM
It seems like we don't own enough swords.
There's more then enough games out to warrant buying a DS.
Pre-order Shadowrun!
Just how much does a Flamethrower cost anyway?
Does anyone else think we should take the time to do some drugs before we turn 20? It'll sound less degenerate later if we can chalk it up to being a teenager.

They go on like that for quite some time. The list of things that I don't need but would be amused to have is essentially endless, which is why "More Storage Space" appears every 5o items or so on that list. In the end though I know what I'm going to do. I'm going to save that money because I'm going to need it this summer when I'm getting set up at my new living space in the U-District. There's a precarious Limbo period coming up where Project Exodus will be completed but Project Nemesis (going to school and getting a job) won't have stared yet. So I'm going to be mature, I'm going to save my money, and extra money I do get will be spent mostly on clothes and furniture. And yes, this is a good thing. I'm glad that I've gained enough control over myself to do this, but on the other hand you have to admit that this is really lame. It may be a wise decision, but it's certainly not a cool one.


So I've finished the Shadowrun project. It was a lot of fun, but not nearly as financially beneficial as I had thought. We only ended up doing 15 hours of work. This is due in part to the skill of the testers, but heavily and annoyingly influenced by the mandatory 1 hour lunch breaks. I think one of the things I enjoy most about the Homestead job is that I'm paid for every minute I'm here; even those minutes I spend blogging and reading webcomics.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


There's a thought I had a while ago, but the writing on that thought never made it pass the "written into a notebook at 2 a.m. while doing laundry" phase. Too many things die at that phase, if I stumble across any good ones I'll blog them. I was reminded of this particular one by the movie "300" which I recommend.

The thought was on the subject of monsters. The modern scientific belief is that there's no such thing as a monsters because all of the traditional monsters don't exist. Dragons, goblins, etc. The more I thought about this the more it bugged me. I don't see why something stops being a monster because we can give it a genus and species and a special on the discovery channel. While there is merit to the idea that we only fear what we don't understand I think that there are plenty of things out there that we understand and should defiantly fear.

Think about bears, but don't think of them in the context of a Zoo or a show, or the cartoons that are always romping around care-a-lot and stealing your pic'a'nic baskets. Think about being in the woods with an 800 pound giant furred creature that can deafen you with a roar and could hurl you ten feet with a swing of it's paw. It's a giant of muscle and terror, and I think that it's defiantly a monster.

Bears aren't even the best example. think about what a Rhinoceros is. A Rhino is a massive beast, with armored skin, and a single giant horn the size of your arm. It stalks the plains, and when it feels threatened it charges at you at high speeds. This is a beast made of armor and rage weighing nearly a ton and hurtling straight at you, horn first. That's certainly a monster.

Even a rhino isn't the best example I could think of. The best, by far, is the Giant Squid. It has six arms, each over 40 feet long, the entire creature is nearly 100 feet long, and can weigh multiple tons. Its arms are capable of latching onto things using an array of suction cups, it can shoot jets of water allowing it to move at incredible speed, and it can spit forth clouds of ink that would blacken the ocean itself. That's at least a monster, if not a full blown nightmare.

Saturday, March 10, 2007


I came in early tonight because I barely finished in time last night and I have to deal with temporal manipulations tonight. It was fortuitous because J wanted to leave early to go out in the way that normal people do. This means that I covered the last hour of front desk duty and as I stood up to close down the front office before heading to my real job I was filled with the sudden urge to just shout "Lock Down!" after which a series of violent frame cuts would show everything in the building spontaneously sealing and bolting itself. A large iron door would slam shut in the distance, and the whole thing would end with the Welcome sign, now turned around, tapping faintly against the front door, expelling the momentum of my dramatics.

The world would be a lot more interesting if things like this actually worked.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Daylight Savings

The Daily show runs a bit about Daylight Savings time. It's funny, but raises issues.

Crap, Daylight savings time? When is that?
This Sunday, or so he said.
Wait won't I be at work when we move an hour forward then?
Will I get paid for that hour?
How early does the jump happen?
This is the greatest money making scam ever, I'm getting paid for an hour that dosn't exist.

Thursday, March 08, 2007


So I knew a lot of things about Shadowrun before I began working on the project. The following article uses only public knowledge that I had before participating in the testing.

I am, in my own small way, a part of the gamer community. In particular I'm part of the community over at Evil-Avatar, a game news discussion forum. The people at EvAv tend to be the early 30s life long gamer types. They hold a strong distrust of anything done by a major company, and while bitterness and skepticism aren't considered merits they certainly aren't faulted.

So when Microsoft declared that they were making a version of their live online gaming service for windows, and integrating it into Vista as part of their giant "Games for Windows" push we were skeptical. I'm contractually forbidden from telling you stories about the issues we've had with regular X-Box live, but when you think Microsoft and Networking you probably don't envision something enjoyable. The general lack of faith in the "Live For Windows" program is pretty well founded, even if it is founded on a history of bitterness and here say.

This bitterness rubbed off on Shadowrun, which is going to be the first game to use the Windows live features. That's a well known thing, not a violation of my NDA. This leads to people saying things like "The only reason anyone knows about Shadowrun is because MS is using it to cram vista down our throats, it's not going to be anything worthwhile."

Knowing what I know now, that which I'm not allowed to divulge, my response would be a torrent of derisive laughter followed by the statement that "My NDA with Microsoft forbids me from explaining that to you."

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Comedy Central Has Just Been Punked

New episodes of Mind of Mencia start April 1st. I'm hoping really hard that it's just a giant joke, and on April 1st they'll say "Gotcha!" and reveal that the series has been cancelled.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


It's around 3 p.m. I've taken a break from my hard day of playing computer games to go play console video games. I could try and defend my activities, but that would involve either ranting or lying so let me just say that I was thoroughly enjoying myself. My phone rings in the distance somewhere, I run to catch it, and answer it just in time to miss the call and be thoroughly freaked out when the vibrating "You have a new voice mail" alarm goes off while the thing is pressed against my head.

"Hey this is Brian from Volt Technical Services..."
Oh great, Microsoft is having another big push and is looking for more bitch workers to do some minimum waging for them.
"We have this project going on, it's not like a normal project it's at the Microsoft campus. You'll be working on an FPS, and it pays $11.83 an hour."
Wait what was that? $12 an hour? This must be some kind of trick; core team only makes nine. And the Microsoft campus, isn' that across the street? This is some kind of holy grail.

I call him back, it's 4 days total, Wednesday, then Saturday, then Monday, then Wednesday. There's a brief period of me waffling and wondering if I'll be able to pull off going to Homestead Friday night, then rolling direct to Microsoft Saturday morning then rolling back to Homestead Saturday night, but he says one thing that's cements the deal perfectly in my mind.

"You'll be working on the new Shadowrun game."

I could go on a whole rant here so concise to say that the Shadowrun franchise is something I have immense interest in, and the two upcoming shadowrun games, this one and the planned MMORPG, are things I've been looking forward to for several months. It has cyberpunk, it has post-apocalyptic Seattle, it has the grid, it has streetwise mystics throwing fireballs in between bursts of machine gun fire, it's got it all.

So I'm going to make more then I make in two weeks at my other job in 4 days at this one testing a game that I probably would've done for free.


Sunday, March 04, 2007


I was intending to write this to help stay awake, something that can be tricky in the last hour of my shift, but as soon as I sat down I got a sudden stream of guests. It's odd, it's 6:20. Nobody comes to the office at this hour, and certainly not two guests and two calls in the space of ten minutes. It's bizarre.

Moving on from that, the actual interesting story takes place an hour earlier at 5:20. I did a bad job sleeping during the day Saturday, so I was planning on dozing some while here. Actual sleep would be a mistake because I'm still on call, but I can doze in the break room, head resting on my arm in the classic "teen sleeping during study hall" pose. I was fairly far removed from consciousness when the phone rang, and I discovered that I don't actually have to wake up do answer it. The customer service lobe of my brain fired on without disturbing the rest of me, and I had a conversation consisting entirely of automatic responses. At no point in this conversation did I have to actually think. I also didn't bother to stand, or raise my head, or open my eyes. When I was done I put down the phone and slid seamlessly back into oblivion.