Sunday, April 29, 2007

Gruul's Lair, The New Kind of Raiding, and the GM/PC split.

The whole blogging to myself premise would work a lot better if I checked my own blog more often. I've been meaning to write this one for a while, since the Gruul's Lair run, and I think that might have been in March.

I am, unquestionably, a gamer, but I am in some ways also a game designer. The only real experience I've had at this in my role as a DM, but in addition to that I have a ton of fake experience as an armchair designer jotting down world design and play theory to myself for a project that will probably never come. I have at least enough experience to have a key design theory. My key principle is that you should make it challenging and unexpected, but you should never make it unbeatable, and you should always be open to the players out thinking you. Basically I want the players to be constantly on their toes. I'm told that my thinking is very similar to that of Gygax in that it's a GM vs PC setup, but from what I've heard he was more intent on crushing the players, whereas I'm happiest when my side has lost but only through the ingenuity and skill of the players. I recently got to see this design theory from the other side, and I can see why not all players approve of it.

Lets head back into Azeroth, the world of warcraft, where things have changed. In the old system raiding consisted mostly of getting 4o people together to go take on some uber-monster. The fights weren't that hard, each boss had some key trick but nothing all that grand. In the old raids you could usually explain how to overcome the trickiness of a given fight with one or two commands. Things like "When he heliports in to your group stop dealing damage and wait for the tank to grab him again." or "when she drops bombs on us make sure to stay out of the fire" or "take out the adds first" It was a trick yes, but it wasn't tricky, especially when there were 40 of you. As I said things have changed though, in the new world Blizzard has kicked it up a notch. Non boss encounters, what are known as "trash mobs," are being given things such as "This guy will charge whoever is 2nd on the aggro list every now and then, so healers watch out, and tanks there's nothing you can do to stop it." Is it harder? Yes, but more then that it shifts a lot of the burden from the character to the player. The person at the machine has to know what they're doing now, or they'll get spanked. The random charge is only the start of it too, there are now several points in the game where your five person team is just going to have to accept fighting six things at once. If your team is on the ball then one of them will be in a frost trap, one will be sapped, one will be turned into a sheep, one will be tanked by a hunter/warlock minion, the main tank will have one or two on them at a time, and the healer will be sweating and flying across the keys.

I can guarantee that last part because I'm a healer and I can say from experience that whenever someone else isn't doing their job right the burden comes to us.

This new style of gameplay is best shown in the new raids. The best example I've seen is one known a Gruul's Lair, a 25 person run. There are three trash mobs before the boss first boss, but those trash mobs are simply vicious. Massive ogres that can easily kill a non-tank in one shot, and every 10-15 seconds they charge whoever is 2nd on the aggro list, and not only hit them, but Cleave them. Cleave, in case you don't know, is a massive sweep that hits an arc of targets, so when they rush towards one of your teammates they hit everyone near them as well. These are harsh but the boss is Epic. I stand in reverent awe of whoever designed this fight.

First of all the boss if the ogre king and his four advisers. You have to fight all of them at once, and they're all immune to all forms of crowd control. Each of the advisers is a different kind of character, and your team has to split into little groups set up to counter each one of them individually.

One is a Shaman who will just throw lightning at you. The lightning is incredibly painful, and since it's a magic effect it doesn't matter how much armor you have. For this one you get someone who isn't normally a tank to wear a lot of magic resist and stamina gear, they do everything to keep focus on themselves while the healer assigned to them does everything they can to keep them from dying. Another is a warrior. He sounds like a very standard fight, get someone with ultra high armor to keep him busy, someone to heal the armored guy, and everyone else shanks him. It would work that way except that he has fiery blood, by which I mean that he creates blasts of fire around himself periodically, so you'll have to fight him from a distance. The third is an ogre mage. He has a massively powerful protective spell, so for this fight you have to have a mage use spellsteal to gain the ogres own protective power then have the mage, the class most likely to be killed instantly by one mistake in a normal raid, actually tank the enemy. It's one of the greatest inversions of traditional class roles you can find. The fourth one is my personal favorite, he's a warlock. He summons an ultra powerful Felhound that will route your team if you try to fight it while fighting the warlock, so you have to have one of your own warlocks enslave his pet, and use his pet to tank the ogre warlock. Without a warlock on your side it's impossible. And the last one, yeah, he's the ogre king. Those four I just listed are his minions. Once you get through all of them you can face the actual boss.

It's an amazingly tricky fight, but even as we died time and time again I felt an amazing sense of respect for the designers of that fight. I'll never again criticize a PC for complaining that one of my scenarios is just a bitch, but by no means do I intend to stop. I've seen the next level of the game, and my aspirations are clear.

*Man Spell check hates all the MMORPG terminology. Including the phrase MMORPG
** Somehow spell check things the word Aggro is okay, but doesn't like the word Mage. WTF is that?


I was done at 1:40 tonight. I am on fire. I was actually done early enough to see some half decent TV, followed some 1/4 decent TV, and then an infomercial designed to mock my desire for a tempurapedic bed but inability to afford one on my slacker semi-employed salary.

Psychobilly Freakout is not a limit break.

I was doing the tiny amount of yoga I remember from the minor amount of yoga I once knew during the downtime I had with the laundry. It felt good. I'm going to try to get video clips of Tai-Chi katas and see if I can do those, if all goes well I may have turned this 20 hours of the week into my job, my exercise, and my key writing period.

Blogging to myself would work a lot better if I read my own blog.
(shortly thereafter)
I really should start proofreading my blog. I finally got those reminders to myself, but I also got a taste of my own slackery. Spell check does not suffice.

1,000 Words

This is another idea I had for a story, although I'd prefer this one be done as a movie. I guess you could call it historical fiction, but it takes place during the current Iraq war so it's not all that historical.

The opening of the movie introduces the first protagonist. It's fairly standard, the only key events are him getting a camera from a friend/relative before he leaves, and him setting up his photo blog. Quick progression to him with his squad on the ground in Iraq, he explains to a friend of his that if anything happens he has to post any pictures he has left to his website. Once that plot device is in place the film begins in proper. It's a series of short stories told in a fairly formulaic way. The initial frame is just a splash screen of the photo that is the basis of the story, and a voice over leads in to the story itself. After a number of stories the picture shown is a coffin with an American flag draped over it, a narrator with a noticeably different voice comments that he's not supposed to show those photos. A few more by this new protagonist, and we come to one which is opened not with a photo but with the grainy low quality video you can get on digital cameras. It's a POV shot from a transport rolling through an Iraqi city. You can hear dialogue in the background.
"What are doing man?"
"I'm recording the city. This is what we're fighting for, we're going to make this place free."
"Psh, All you're going to do is waste film."
"It's digital bro"
"Waste batteries then, you know what I mean"
There's a cataclysmic shift at black clad insurgents materialize out of the back alleys, light conversation turns to shouted commands, and a stream of machine gun fire hurtles almost directly at the camera. You can hear the person who was filming get hit, and the camera rolls into the street. From this point on the film is in Arabic with English subtitles. The next picture is of some Iraqi market worker yelling, it tells the story of two kids who found the camera in the street selling to to him. The camera changes hands a few times, until it ends up in the possession of a young adult Iraqi man. Further stories tell of members of his family being killed in an accidental bombing, it tracks his progression from an innocent bystander, to an embittered native, to a full blown insurgent. The last story told in Arabic tells of him arranging to become a suicide bomber. As he rounds the corner into the market for what would feel like the climactic end of the movie he's unceremoniously gunned down by coalition forces. The camera holds still on his body laying slain on the street, then pulls out and uses that same image as the photo that opens the final story. U.S. soldiers discussing his attempted attack, and one telling the other how he found this camera, and he's going to keep a photo blog, and if anything happens to him that he should take the camera and keep it going. Having returned to where we started from the screen fades out.

I think it'd make a great, if highly controvertial, film if you got a good cast and a good writer to turn it from blog post into actual screenplay.

Damn you Irony

My dryer is broken. I'm wearing the same clothes I wore yesterday, and I'm bothered by it because I know it's bad and I can't really do anything about it. I sat there waiting for the sheets to be done spinning thinking to myself, "Damn, if only I had some other way to wash things."

Saturday, April 28, 2007


This is an idea I had a few weeks ago, I'm not so certain how well it would work out in real life but even if it wasn't plausible IRL it'd make the basis for a really interesting novel.

The basic idea is that you're a for profit rescue and humanitarian aid organization. You get a team and you set up a relief center, and you preform med-evac and air lifts in an old Russian transport helicopter. Everyone has a video camera mounted to them at all times, and both crews have one person whose a trained photographer with a good HD camera. Optionally one of the crew, a medic or something, will just double as the photographer. The team performs acts of dashing heroism, gets the entire experience on film, and writes interesting and high human interest stories about their actual experiences. Then all of that is for sale.

The only people who are getting anything free are those being rescued, use of any of your footage or stories or pictures costs whichever organization wants to use them a certain amount. You would probably have a small production team as well that would make DVD's and posters etc. for sale to the mass market. It's taking advantage of the fact that working as an independent humanitarian intervention group also causes you to churn out tales of heroism and human drama as an inevitable side effect.

I'm not certain if you could pull it off in real life, but either way it's a fun story.

The Call of The Severer

During the time that I wasn't playing as a DM, and then the time that I wasn't playing D&D at all I was gradually gathering ideas for encounters and situations that would make good D&D content. Once you do enough world design and adventure design you kind of can't stop doing it. These ideas were all just hanging around in the back of my head, and I had a glorious vision.

What if I could put all of them, despite how crazy they are, into one massive campaign, and what if I could make that campaign a single epic dungeon.

I wrote out my proposal to the facebook group, and I'm going to be running it in the fall. I've got a lot of enthusiasm for it, and the standard level of bravado, but I honestly think they have no idea what they're in for. I've always been a bit of a cinematic DM, and one willing to bend the rules to make things more dramatic, but this is going to be epic. I've divided the whole thing into 25 levels, each of which has a boss, and the setting gradually changes as you progress. Let me give you a taste of the breadth of situations.

One level has the entire group on a boat in an underground river, you have to deal with the creatures in the water and on the cave while maneuvering the boat and making sure that nothing destroys the boat. Kind of hard to swim in plate mail after all.

Another encounter throws the party into the middle of an active cavalry battle. Will they take sides? They could try and sneak away, but the real issue is will they manage to do anything, including securing mounts for themselves, before they're overrun.

During one encounter an enemy cleric casts Miracle, a spell of the maximum level that costs a lot of XP and is basically capable of doing anything, they use this spell at the beginning of a boss battle to automatically take out one of the party members chosen at random.

At one point they have to confront an insane mage who is literally invincible. Clever use of their surroundings is the only way to defeat him.

About 2/3s of the way through they cross the sands of pandemonium, and a few levels literally take place in hell.

It's hard to describe my enthusiasm for the project, but I think it's going to be great.


Despite my alacrity the clear winner tonight was web-sense. I got frustrated enough that I resorted to dosing to simply kill the time instead of wasting it on the net.

I talk to myself while folding, and every now and then something amusing comes up. I'm not sure how I got to this, but I found myself quietly singing to myself.
Larouche, Larouche, Larouche is on Fire.
We don't need no water let the mother fucker burn.
Burn mother fucker, Burn Burn Burn.

I found a new dadaist art form today. Playing a healer in PVP in an MMORPG when you're not part of an organised group is something that perfectly captures the meaninglessness that the early dadaist movement sought to convey.

The whole "blogging to myself" concept would work a lot better if I ever ready my own blog.

I realize one key mistake I've made in my pursuit of psychotherapy. I've stuck too closely to this series of leads. At around the third annoying exchange I should've said to myself "screw it" and just googled Seattle Psychologist.

Dark Descent

A Penny-Arcade news post leads me to the subject of some new thing called the "PlayStation Eye." I'm intrigued, I do what I usually do when I'm scanning for information. I do Google search for it then open the first three results in different windows.

All three have been blocked by websense.

Now I know a way to get around websense, but I like this job so I'm just going to roll with it. I begin typing in the names of reputable gaming blogs but websense has blocked all of them too. The only one it hasn't blocked is Evil-Avatar. A Forum.

I swore off forums years ago. They were source of the mind numbing horror that gave birth to my third barrel theory* and the final blow was struck when I was banned from the AO forums by corrupt admins for complaining about corrupt admins on the AO forums. I really should've seen that one coming though.

I begin rooting through ev-av, it lies to me, promising to be a vast repository of information, but in truth it's a series of the misinformed and the uninformed blathering and pulling at straws. More then once I begin to read an article and find the contents so crushing that I just hit back without even finishing the sentence. This even happens on a few true stories, stuff like:

"Hillary duff to star in a new dance based MMO..."
"NPD numbers confirm that the Gameboy Advance is outselling the PlayStation 3, but Sony says they're unconcerned because..."

I haven't found anything useful. I've found more intelligence then I did on the AO forums, but I only dipped my toes into Ev-Av's WoW forum before finding that good old fashion short sighted bias and unwarranted misdirected outrage. I think I'm going to call this project a wash and just find out what the eye is once I have a real computer available to me.

*The third barrel theory states that if you took all of the Internet and placed in a barrel, took the bottom of that barrel and placed it in a second barrel, took the bottom of that barrel and placed it in a third barrel, the horrible dross at the bottom of the third barrel would be Internet forums.

New Record

Not counting the time I spent loading blogger I was done before 2 a.m. New Record!

Now what am I going to do for the next five hours?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Intersting but pointless

This article is something I find very interesting, but also reinforces all the criticisms I have about current day space exploration.

1. We're still firmly attached to the idea that life on other planets will function similarly to Terran life. I wouldn't mind if they said they found a planet with similar conditions to earth interesting because it would save us a fortune on Teraforming, but I think Xenobiology, which I think that's a real term but it may be something from a video game, opens the doors to things which are radically different from life as we know it.

2. 20.5 light years is a long as way away. If we survive long enough to develop technology to travel that far then this planet will be really noteworthy. And we might not.

Still, very interesting.

*Hmm, spell check rejects the work Xenobiology, but according to the Internet equivalent of our wisend elders I'm right.
*Did you know blogger spellcheck capitalizes the word Internet? I just find that amusing.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


I really wish they'd start putting video game soundtracks on iTunes. It'd save me hours of searching and torrenting.


UW psychiatric clinic is having issues because it's a student clinic and it's the end of winter quarter so finals are going on. They tell me to get back to them later.

UW Psychiatric clinic says they thought they had someone who could help, but he just got assigned to someone else, So they send me to Seattle Mental Health.

Seattle Mental health says that I'm not really a good candidate for them, but they give me the number of an "ADD resource" line.

That number has apparently been disconnected.

Before long my pursuit of a mental health professional is going to give me a severe stress disorder. In the meantime I'll keep taking my cultures traditional medicine for stress.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Kevin and I once joked that they would add Dragonforce songs to Guitar Hero 2. It was a joke because Dragonforce plays incredibly fast, so the songs would be incredibly difficult. Honestly putting those in is almost as crazy as trying to play them, you'd have to be some kind of psycho, or bizzare niche prodigy.

Book Report

I've recently started reading a book about medicine hunting, it tells the story well and it's offered great insight into the world of herbal healing. There are a few key things from that I think would like to mention.

The author mentions that in America you'll find most herbal medicine in capsule form. This works, but he prefers raw herbs because you can prepare them in the method of your choosing. This includes putting them into a smoothie. In many ways western medicine is superior, but when it comes to delivery method herbalism wins. I think the medical community would find patients a lot more receptive if they started issuing things in smoothies.

A huge number of third world ailments can be solved by cleaning the wound, keeping good hygiene, and not picking at it. I think we should add these lessons to the condom use and vaccination programs we're already running.

According to the book the number one cause of accidental death in the amazon is snake bite. I don't think that's an accident. I think that's you got killed by a snake. Certainly from the snakes point of view it wasn't an accident.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


Out of the standard designations I would say that I'm a libertarian, but I once took an Internet test designed to show you your designation, and I think they were right when they called me a nihilist.

Politics right now is about the 2008 presidential run, and about the Gonzales attorney scandal. As far as that scandal goes I really don't care any more. If you were surprised by it you probably aren't paying close enough attention. The actual proceedings I found amusing and disturbing. I keep expecting Gonzales to say "Dude I was so high" because it's the only thing that would explain his utter inability to recall. Well, that or a serious psychological trauma of some sort. Out of all the incriminating e-mails muck rakers have dredged up the only thing that sticks with me is the phrase "Loyal Bushie." It goes well with another phrase that's floating around, "I serve at the pleasure of the president." At this point I'd like to begin screaming, but it wouldn't get anything done and I'm tried of screaming and getting nothing done. The key thing I would have to say is that a good politician in a representative democracy serves the people not the president. Remember the revolution people, Monarchy=bad.

As for the 2008 elections I'm only interested in them because it's another game I can play. I can make predictions and have essentially no control over the outcome and see how well I judged the situation. I've gone from activism to pessimism and now to whimsy. First off I think it goes blue. You can only tear down our credibility, our economy, and our society for six or seven years before we begin to do something about it. So it's basically a fight between Hill-dog and Hussein. Nice try Edwards, you don't have enough of a gimmick to win. I think it goes Clinton in the long run but that's based entirely on the assumption that she'll get the female vote simply for being female. I don't actually like Hillary, she's proven her willingness to harp to the Values people in the past, and I don't trust her to do anything that will help me in any way. I don't really see a reason to support Obama either, but that's because I haven't heard anything from him that wasn't rhetoric. In the end I don't think either of them will really help me.

However, Today is Earth Day, and because of that the buses were free. This means that environmentalism saved me $1.25, and because of that should he choose to run Al Gore will get my vote. I don't think he'll do anything either, but the cause that he champions saved me a buck twenty-five so he's ahead of everyone else.

All of this is, of course, able to be overturned in one swift blow. I may be the only one, but I still hold fast to the belief that should he choose to run you could not stop Joe-Mentum.

Starting Young

A ten year old kid just ran in and put a key on the shelf roughly level with his head.

"Room 167 is checking out"

The rooms balance was paid, the key checked out, so I didn't question it. The kid was more direct then a lot of the adult guests.

It was also nice to be the older one for once.


I have so many substantial blog posts in the draft phase, but I keep running into these little quick ones.

I've made two substantial breakthroughs tonight. First I've found that if I take all of the bottles out of my backpack (I keep a bottle of Vault™ on me at all times in case I need to get to it!, and because having an energy drink at your night job seems like a good idea) then I can lay my arm on top of my backpack, vastly improving the conditions under which I doze in the breakroom.

The second was born of necessity. While reaping the delicious fruits of my new backpack assisted arm headrest I heard a noise. I could have sworn it was a low voice saying something. It was something that I could easily justify ignoring, especially because I was the only one in the building and the doors were all locked, but I felt the need to check. Turns out one of those doors wasn't locked. It wasn't a break in or anything, fairly standard key error, but it did expose the vulnerability left by the combination of my incompetence and my horribly fractured sleep patterns. A bit of unofficial documentation is rigged up and the nicely printed and clip-arted "The night attendant is patrolling the grounds please use the courtesy phone to etc. etc." sign becomes a piece of lined yellow paper with the phrase "The Night Attendant is in the back, please yell for Service." Honestly I think my version gets to the point a lot faster.


(Composed at various points over the last few days, the actual story takes place during the night spanning 4-20-2007 and 4-21-2007)

It's 3:20, and I have some time to write as things spin. It's been a really long night tonight. The mayhem starts at around midnight. I've heavily caffeinated myself because I got up early to go raiding, and the consequence of caffination is urination. I had staved it off for as long as seemed safe, and after finishing a fold I grabbed the phone and headed out.

I remembered that my keys were on the table just in time to slam into the laundry room door just as it closed and locked itself. I spent a few minutes pulling at the door and swearing, but soon regained some measure of composure. I sifted through the housekeeping carts (They're moved outside to free up space in the laundry room) and I found some thirty odd unlabeled card keys soaking in a cocktail of soaps and cleaners. I also found eight cans of miler lite left in a twelve pack. I would love to say this surprised me, but if the things left in the laundry room are any indicator then being a housekeeper has a two drink minimum.

I washed off the keys and tried them all in the laundry room door. I also tried them all in the main office door, the break room door, the vending and guest laundry room door, and the door of room 162 which I knew had nobody in it. I also tried using them to pick the non-card-key door to the main office, but they didn't prove any more effective at that then on the other doors.

For a while I sat and thank. I'm coming in again tomorrow, so worst care scenario I'm stuck outside until 7 and I have to do a lot of laundry tomorrow. As long as I don't freeze to death I should be fine. Time passes and I invent a worse case scenario. What if someone shows up trying to check in. "I'm sorry sir, but the staff has locked themselves out of the office so I can't give solace to you weary traveler arriving in the middle of the night."

Another twenty minutes of fruitless attempts at prying the door and it happens. I greet the tired looking couple and try to be both professional and apologetic. Courtesy quickly yields to action and I call 911 on the guest's cell phone.

I had spent a lot of my locked out time thinking about that. Could you call the police for something this minor? It seems like they'd have better things to do on the night of 420. I decided eventually that it was worth a shot, but I had locked my cell phone in the laundry room, the night phone was either dead or broken, and the courtesy phone can't make out calls. I was completely ex-communicado.

The guests retreat to their car, and I sit by the door profoundly embarrassed waiting for the police. Response time in Bellevue is surprisingly fast. There's a biter witticism in there, but I kind of owe them so for now that's a statement of praise and not economic class injustice. The officer arrives, we talk for a second, and I'm told that he can't do anything about it

Well Damn.

He proposes calling a 24 hour locksmith. I betray my fiscal hesitance by asking about the rate a few times too many, but in the end I know that something has to be done and that it's my fault anyway. The Officer places the call into his shoulder mounted radio, and rolls off. I return to my spot by the door, this time fretting the loss of my money instead of the loss of my dignity.

I spend about twenty minutes in mixed anticipation and dread awaiting the arrival of the locksmith. I'm dumbstruck when a firetruck rolls slowly up the hill. It stops near the office, nobody comes out and for a few moments it's just me and the massive rumbling machine. Two firefighters emerge, they greet me with enthusiasm I'm not used to seeing at this hour of the night, and then use an incredibly intricate key to open a small safe attached to the wall not far from the door. I had wondered what that little black thing was. Out come two master keys and three master card keys. "So that's all you need?" he asks jovially. I offer profuse thanks and quickly shuffle the guests off to their room. After that I waste a few moments pondering. Do you get charged for using the firemen? Taxes pay for firefighters right? I gave them my name and a hotel business card; will they bill me? Should I have tipped them maybe? Nobody tells you the social rules for dealing with firemen.

I snap from my musings and return to business. I file the registration form away, then unlock both doors, grab two master keys, and head back to work some two and one half hours behind schedule.

Saturday, April 21, 2007


Blogging reminders to yourself is the internet equivelant of writing things on your forearm. I'd love to say that I've stopped writing things on my forearm, but we both know that'd be a lie. It's also about as effective as writing things on your forearm, in that it has a 1 in 3 ish hit rate.

I'm heaviliy considering buying a blackberry, but then I remembered that whole "rent" thing.

Blog Notes:

+Atlas, MMO healer etc.
+I love it when stuff lines up like this, housing stuff
+Name Pending, a description of my 25 level D&D epic
Finish writing "Lockdown" and then type it up.

Other Notes:
+Get back to Seattle Medical
+Call Archstone about the problems with the Dryer and the Ice machine.
+Update Charprofiler.
+Draw out the Twix Nuremburg thing for Killing Kittens.


I'm back and as always I'm a litttle bit miffed to find that it's Saturday morning and the "Wait Wait Don't tell Me" podcast isn't up yet. It's never up on Saturday, but I always hope it will be. This time I'm early though, it's only 7:40, Wait Wait isn't even on for another 20 minutes.

Friday, April 20, 2007

The Omnipresent Impule Aisle

The idea of having an account with a virtual entity is ages old. I've been participating in this form of contract for over a decade now, and I think that the majority of the first world has been doing it for at least seven years. Most of these are harmless, only costing you the time you chose to spend on them, but a few of them involve the exchange of money. Money is what is making the Internet real, the consequence free game that I once knew has gone away, and now we play for keeps.

Let the businessmen of the world talk about digital distribution all they want, to we natives of this series of tubes it's old news. iTunes didn't pioneer digital distribution, Napster did, and when the invisible hand of the market crushed it Kazaa took over. The reason iTunes gets credit is because they were the first to take our model and let us pay for it. If you recall iTunes used to be a music store, a Napster for pay, but now it can provide you with games, movies, TV shows and e-books, which makes it a Kazaa for pay. I have no doubt that you'll be able to buy all forms of software from one simple location soon. It'll be exactly what we had before, except this time we pay for it.

They've gotten quite good at making us pay for it too. There's a new trick being played, and it's called micro payments. A quick $2 purchase isn't something you would have to really think about before making. You should, but it's low enough that you can write it off. They know that, so they store your payment information with your account information, so that as soon as you've logged in a purchase consists of two clicks. If you disable to prompt it's only one click. The box set is gone, the market has learned that is can subdivide freely, and the whole store is suddenly and impulse aisle. For a few dollars you can hear that song you have in your heard, or see that one episode of that show you and your friends were talking about. They don't have to trick us now, we're doing the job for them.

It is with that in mind that I encourage everyone to think carefully before purchasing anything online. The Internet has consequences now, never forget that.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Out of Place

I’ve been outside during the day more then normal recently. Various errands and activities have pushed me off my nocturnal schedule, and I’ve noticed more and more of a certain kind of response. It’s a look the wealthy white people who live in Redmond give me, and it’s the same look one would use to say “What is that Negro doing in my upscale Redmond shopping market?” It’s shock, and disgust behind a deep confusion as to why I’m there. I’ll grant that I’m not the most affable looking person; I would go as far as to say that I’m simply not an affable looking person, but this reaction seems a little extreme. I think it’s another aspect of my nocturnal conditioning. The same way I’ve come to consider normal levels of foot traffic crowds I’ve come to reflect the sketchy and generally un-affable people that I tend to work with. I wonder how far this can go, how deep the night world truly is. Do I learn the special night language eventually? Is there a different government? What about spooky powers, they seem only appropriate at this point.

Tsk, it’s always about the powers with me isn’t it?

Saturday, April 14, 2007


I'd like to say that these are extracted from my notebook, but the real story is that these are things that I meant to write in my notebook, and I'm now fishing out of the crevices of my brain.

Playing loud music with headphones on makes it very difficult to notice that you're talking to yourself in a full indoor speaking voice. This also makes it hard to understand the person next to you at the freezer case when they mistakenly think you were talking to them, and it does nothing to preserve your dignity when you inevitably have to explain the situation to them.

My recent playlist is set up such that a random observer might view it and not immediately regard me as weird. This step in to the mainstream is an amazing change for me; my music is usually either too evil, too flashy, or too European for the average person, but a lot of what I'm listening to recently is dignified rock. Well, it is until you notice that the songs all share the album tag of "Guitar Hero II Soundtrack"

There are really a lot of people around during the daylight hours. I may have just gradually acclimated to the incredibly sparse conditions I work in, but whenever I go out during the week in the daylight everything just seems crowded.

Having a car makes shoppers lazy. I go in knowing exactly what I need, and I get only that because that's all I can fit in my backpack. I don't browse around pushing a cart. I move hunter/killer style from one objective to the next, preempt the voice commands from the self checkout, and leave in time to catch the next bus. It's the certain kind of scrappiness that's necessary when you have very limited resources.

When I do have a car at my disposal I'm just as lazy of a shopper as the normals I see during the day. Once every few weeks Kevin and I unlawfully search and seize Chris's car and head out to do our grocery shopping at 1 a.m. Sure it isn't making us look any more sane, but as I've previously mentioned, it's a great way to beat the crowds.

Thomas Kemper root beer is the only thing that can instantly sate my rage at the stores repeated failure to maintain a proper supply of BAWLS energy drink. I dread to think of the day when their drink case is out of both.

When my cell phone runs out of power I find the loss of my clock much more annoying then the loss of my phone. This bodes poorly for my social life, but shows how punctual I am.

Talking to mental health clinics is much more difficult then it should be. I've gotten two jobs and an apartment with the amount of effort I've put into talking to various clinics, and I still haven't gotten anything set up. Don't think about my problems either, think about people who are trying to get help for the first time. I can't imagine someone who had ADD and wasn't medicated ever managing to get ADD treatment on their own. They couldn't maintain focus long enough to jump through that many hoops. And getting depressed people to call at all is difficult. Getting them to call four places several times would take years. It seems like if any process should be streamlined it should be this one.

At at least ten points during this week I have thought to myself: "I really need to mail out my taxes." They're in my backpack. Luckily I can still make that April 16th deadline.

Who reads this crap? I'm not even bothering to make little stories out of it any more. For that matter why do I write it?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Something that's bugging me

One of the vast threads of story that I cause to flow through me recently discussed life in France, and the matter of Pasteurized Milk. The French had assumed the speaker would be mad about it, but the speaker is an incredibly meek man and made no complaints. He speaks of the reaction to presumed indignation as part of his theory on the perceived rudeness of the french.

That's not what bugs me, that's just a story by David Sedaris. My problem is this.

In America we have essentially only pasteurized milk. In France they have both. From this you could say that America is a bigger supporter of pasteurization, but Louie Pasteur was French. It bugs me, in a minor way, that this great French technology caught on in America, and is now the source of tension, imagined or otherwise, between the French and the Americans. Especially when it's the French who have failed to pick up use of their own technology.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Oh Right!

I remember what that thing was. There's a commercial for some kind of body spray that features generic hot chick saying:

"Don't presume, don't assume, don't think; just be yourself."

It's something I can't do. Thinking presuming and assuming are all key parts of being myself.


I had something I was going to blog about... I sat down here and I forgot what it was. This is just another one of those moments where I accuse myself of being a pothead even though I'm not actually doing pot. Now I'm me, so I was there at everything I did, but part of still thinks I'm doing things behind my back.

Sunday, April 08, 2007


I think it's worth noting, more for my parents' sanity then anything else, that I'm feeling a lot better. This was a quick one, and didn't really cost me all that much. One day of being whiny and incompetent really isn't a bad hand to be dealt. Hell, emo people seem to do that every day, by choice.

This is the Nerdiest Joke Ever.

Happy Easter everyone, and you know what that means.



This one I’m composing live at 3:12 a.m. The composed time thing is just for stuff that I’m transcribing out of my notebooks.

I’m finished for the night. I’m not done, but I said to myself earlier that I’d be extremely lucky if I got very little done tonight and I was extremely lucky. I shrug off the rest of tonight’s work to someone else. Part of me knows that’s wrong but right now I just don’t care.

It’s the mantra of depression. “I don’t care.” There’s probably a lot more I could say there, but I really don’t care right now. That’s not a joke either, the whole discussion of my experiences etc. was ready in my head, I started to type, and I just didn’t care.

It’s amazingly hard to do anything in this state. Even unstructured writing takes an act of willpower.

I’m almost surprised I’m here. You can only almost feel things in this state, so I would probably be actually surprised if circumstances were normal. This isn’t a very harsh episode, if it was I wouldn’t have bothered even trying to get out of work. I would’ve turned off my cell phone and sulked in the dark for a few dozen hours.

I’ve actually never managed to make it to work/school during one of these before. I credit any skill I have at faking sick to this condition. I would say that depression is much more dehabilitating then the common physical illnesses, but you can’t call in sick saying your depressed.

I’m having to try really hard to keep writing, and I bet I’m not even writing that well. If I were motivated I’d proofread, but Fuck it.

“Fuck it” is another mantra of depression.

I was actually sick last weekend, which is why I spent this week burning through five boxes of whatever tissue homestead stocks. The drop began yesterday morning and I hit the low this afternoon. It’s usually a quick drop, a period of being at a pretty steady low, and a fairly quick recovery. Don’t ask me to try and figure out what triggers it, I don’t know and I don’t care enough to do any real research. I’m having enough trouble typing whiny blog posts; I’m not doing self analysis during a depressive state. Don’t feed me your pills either. I’m careful and hesitant about mood altering substances, so I’m defiantly not taking the mood replacement tablets they’ll prescribe to me.

I think I had some other point to make, but Fuck it; I just don’t care right now.


Call Tien. She can fill in for you; you filled in for her Thursday.
I do, she needs to watch her mother or something. I make no effort to persuade her and spend the next 20 minutes sitting on my bed wallowing in hopelessness. Another 20 minutes of building up willpower and I call Shane to see if anyone else knows the laundry shift. He does, but he has something to do, something about a barbecue. I hang up and spend two hours doing nothing; then two more doing nothing half heartedly on my computer. I’ll have to go to work soon.

I haven’t bothered to change clothes or recharge my electronics but I don’t care. I pick up my pack and mumble around the living room, working my way to actually heading out the door. Self deprecation and merciless reminders of duty are substituted for actual motivation. I think a lot of just turning around, saying I missed the bus, and staying home. A few more lashes from guilt’s cruel switch get me on the bus. Thinking of the future causes only dread. I try to think of something else to think about, but before I get anywhere I realize that I just don’t care. I could-

Fuck it I don’t feel like writing this any more.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

digital encoding

This is just here in case the "Blog notes" written on my arm are reduced to a blue smear by my hip twenty something lifestyle before I feel up to blogging some more.

-Gruul's Lair, always having gear, the new raid, self as GM/PC
-1000 words, camera, soldiers in Iraq.

This last one I can actually write up right now. I was talking to my brother earlier today and he's right, we're both the kind of people who will keep fighting indefinitely and never really settle down. I was reflecting on that when I had the following internal exchange

We have to keep fighting.
But you'll die.
Awesome, I've always wanted to die fighting.

Preemptive Birds

Birds have been chirping since 4 a.m. This confuses me, you can't see any effect of the sun until at least 5, and it's not fully daylight until 6:30. I want to question those birds, but I don't speak bird, and even if I did speak bird I might not speak morning dove, or whatever particular kind of birds these are.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


There's a bizarre visual problem that you get immediately after switching between glasses and contacts. Your vision is still fine, but the way you have to focus on things is slightly different. It's self correcting. I assume I have two sets of learned behaviors, or perhaps the correction is so small that you can learn the new form within an hour, but for that hour everything is slightly off when you first look at it. I can't think of any good way to describe it to the average person, but it feels like my targeting algorithm is off.

Federally Subsidized News

Bill Maher's podcast was talking about the news. The question they got was "Did Americans dumb down the news or did the news dumb down Americans." It's a semi-clever question soft balled at the liberal talk show host and his diverse panel, and their general response was pretty similar to what I already thought. The foundation of the problems with mainstream news is that mainstream news is trying to be profitable. Headline news is, in my opinion, basically just the ultimate hidden camera reality show; except that they don't bother to hide the cameras. I also have issues with 24 hour news channels because they makes the passive assertion that there's 24 hours of news in a day, but the problems with those channels are rooted in the previously mentioned financial problem.

So lets run from this assumption. The problem with news is that it's being made in to a market venture. The way it's doing this is by making itself into entertainment, which is the more direct problem. NPR can be brought up as a great counter-example to this, because NPR is generally unbiased straight news, which is why NPR is boring. If the problem is that news is trying to be entertaining, and the root of that problem is that news is trying to be profitable, it stands to reason that a good solution would be news that was subsidized by some major organization. The pledge drive is how most non-mainstream news sources do it, but Government backing is what jumped to my mind.

It's an interesting idea at first. People are reporting the news in a non-competitive way, journalism is pulled out of the twin mires of politics and money, and the people are better informed. That, however; is "perfect world thinking." It's the shiny pretty thing one conceives of before they remember the cruelties of harsh reality. First of all getting rid of human competitive nature is something that will never happen. I'm prepared to make a blunt assertion of that. Preach innate kindness all you want, hippy. It's also a flawed idea to think that you can pull any aspect of society out of the twin mires of politics and money. Society, in general, is so far submerged in this foul pool that we can not conceive of an existence without it. I don't put myself above that either, other then spiritual transcendence I see no escape.

This may help some of you understand my pursuit of spiritual transcendence.

The biggest issue though, the one glaring obvious problem that should've stopped me from ever thinking of this in the first place, is that this system would hand control of the news directly to the government. It wouldn't be theoretical Powers™ manipulating both the media and the government with an invisible fist, nor would it be the much more likely scenario of the invisible hand of the market creating heavily politicized cheap thrills news for its equally politicised short attention spanned viewers. No such clandestine acts need take place. It would be opening the doors to propaganda on a scale that has never existed outside of a dictatorship.

Really, in the end, this is just another interesting idea that would be a boon to humanity if humanity wasn't involved in its orchestration.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Pulling the Strings

(Origionally composed on the night spanning 3-30-2007 and 3-31-2007)

There are a few bugs around tonight. Small flying insects, fruit fly I believe, and I'm not very fond of them. It's odd too because they don't do anything to harm or inhibit me, and I have a history of getting along with bugs at this job. There are two spiders who make their webs near the door to the laundry room. They've been here almost as long as I have, and I've come to enjoy their company. Shane once batted at them and cut down their webs. I didn't say anything at the time, but I was sad that whole night. I was filled with hope the next night when I saw that at least one had survived, and I was overjoyed when I returned a week later to find them rebuilding. I've come to care for them in the strange way that one cares for their pets. During my downtime I sometimes watch their meticulous spinning, and I wonder if they can understand what I am. This massive being that shapes the face of their world. Am I to them as the planets or the tides are to me? I do not know, but I still care for these tiny creatures.

Yet the bugs annoy me, and I think I know what it is. The spiders have their place, separate from mine, where they do their thing. The fruit flies, however; are floating around my laundry room, landing on things and doing whatever it is they do. They are, in short, intruders. It was with this thought that I almost crushed one of them, but a pang of guild held my hand. Intruder or not they haven't done anything wrong. They're just being fruit flies and in a way we're both part of the same natural order. They are what they are just as I am who I am. I ponder this for a moment, and with that thought I capture the fly in my hand. I leave the laundry room, hold my hand up to to the spiders, release the fly, and let nature take its course.


I'm fighting giant electric eels and listening to Bill Maher while writing this so forgive me if I wander a little bit. It may sound like something that would be too much of a distraction, but this is how I like to spend my leisure time and I have crazy ninja alt-tab skills.

A greater underwater breathing potion also plays a big role in this.

I've been a big fan of podcasts for some time now. I've mentioned before that I'm over sensitive to the emotional impact of music, so I like to have spoken word tracks for my casual listening. I'm also a very slight news junky, so I spend a lot of time listening to news shows. These are almost all comedy news shows, because the news today is so powerfully infuriating and depressing that I couldn't handle it without a backdrop of comedy

Bam! 1307 damage Judgement of Command! And I said Paladins couldn't be damage dealers.

Back on topic. Because of my affinity for the news and because of the douchery of the people in the news I find myself shouting at inanimate objects a lot. The projector is fun for this because I can throw things at the screen without breaking anything because the screen is just the wall. Friends, loved ones, and well wishers of mine can tell you that I express outrage by throwing things. I also tend to express affection by violence, so the short summary is that I'm a very disturbed little boy.

This rash of shouting at the invisible voices that cast their pods so frequently into my life is really just the next step in a running theme in my life. I've been talking to myself for longer then I can remember, and if you happen to stand outside the laundry room of the Factoria Homestead some Saturday night you can get a full account of whatever I'm thinking of at the moment, in addition to hearing my resounding call of "Internal Monologue Damnit, Internal!"

Jumping off giant cliffs while using divine shield is the most frivolous use of holy powers ever.

Where was I. I probably shouldn't have bothered typing that. Right. I think I know the basis of these acts. Both the constant monologue to a non-existent audience, and my aggrieved rants lead me to one idea. I think I need an audience. While I don't have enough artistic bent or talent to call myself an artist without also pointing out how much I'm besmirching the term, I do think it's something that I'd thoroughly enjoy. Kevin, Adam, and I have our Webcomic planned, something that I'll discuss more once I get a scanner, and while I think we'll be able to make a fairly good comic, I think we'll also have an amazing podcast. We're really well suited to that particular kind of performance. You could record us just sitting around talking and I think it would make a decent podcast, and a fairly good radio show.

Hmm, even I'm not sure where I'm going with this any more. My artistic inclinations have been pricking at my mind recently, and this rambling pile of words is the product, for now. Well this and a bunch of mediocre drawings I'm still trying to teach myself how to draw by using other peoples sketches and art books. It turns out there's some pretty high precedent for this including Van Goh. While I'm fairly certain I'll never reach his level it's nice to know that my quest is only insane and not hopeless.

*I'm not sure if that's how you actually spell Van Goh, and neither is spell check.
**Someone needs to tell blogger to add Douchery to their list of approved words.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Achievement Unlocked

It's 2:06 and I'm done for the night, New Record!