Monday, June 16, 2008

When It Rains...

My power has back on for a little while now, I've just managed to slip the blogging habit and haven't had the time to pick it back up yet.

It was actually not that bad an experience. One of my neighbors, who works construction, was nice enough to go around the neighborhood with a generator and give people a chance to plug in their appliances for a few half hours at a time. That was good for me because my stove is electric (I know, I know, I wasn't the one who put it in.) so outside of firing up the grill that was the only way I could cook things. Spent a lot of time working on my script which is coming along nicely, thanks.

I lost a few things out of the freezer and it's never fun to throw away food, especially with the way prices keep going up. But the biggest casualty was my computer. I thought my surge protector was on its last legs (There's only so much voltage those things can accept before you're basically just plugging your valuable equipment into the wall.) and, well, it was. I've taken it into the shop and I'm hoping it's just the power supply. A casual inspection didn't reveal any twisted hunks of silicon where important things like the hard drive and video card used to be but we'll find out. The power supply was on its last legs, anyway, and its fan would often stop working so it was probably time for an upgrade. I'm just hoping that my drives are okay since, otherwise, I'd loose everything since my last not frequent enough back-up.

I really should move to storing things online - there are any number of services - instead of in my desktop but then I always worry about everybody out there who could sneak a peak at my data. It's not like I have anything important - just stories and scripts and ideas and a bunch of other miscellaneous junk that's the 21st century equivalent of a bunch of crumpled up papers shoved that I cling to as if they were something valuable. But, you know, it's my stuff.

The fact that someone tried to hack into my Guru accounts over the weekend doesn't make me any less paranoid. I don't use them and I really hope the passwords have been changed by now - the e-mails attached to them certainly haven't - but I honestly haven't checked in years and I wouldn't know the passwords now if I tried. I should be better about it but every so often, I try to change them up and make sure my passwords are as safe as can be. All of them. And it's been several iterations so I have no clue what they would have been.

Anyhow, I've dragged out the old laptop which is slow and clunky and even older than my desktop but it works alright now that I've got power again. We'll see about the old computer. Worse case, I'm without a desktop unit, won't be able to play any real games (Not a problem since I'm All Flash All the Time, these days), and I'll have lost a month or three of ideas that I thought were important enough to jot down. I can live through that.

But don't think I'm coming off of break just yet. You see, We got a call over the weekend from the RCMP or probably just the local law enforcement agency who aren't anywhere near as cool that our family cottage had been broken into. Someone has to head up there and assess the damage and make whatever repairs are needed. One of my cousins was supposed to go up in a week or two to open it up for the summer but he's not free at the moment. The impression is that it's pretty bad so it's something of an emergency, too. And since I'm the most available, I've been volunteered. I actually don't have the time to go up myself since it'll mean missing out on some classes and an interview. Wanted to see if I couldn't attend the Obama rally, too, but of all the family my time's apparently the least valuable. Doesn't surprise me much.

So, I'm just about to head out the door for the long trek up north. Where I'll no doubt spend my time filling out police reports, sweeping up broken glass, and dealing with the soggy wooden mess left by any burst pipes and rotting wood. Oh, the place needs to be painted, too. Just popped in to give an update, answer some comments, and pick up Juju (Short review: Ugh. Slightly less short review: Not quite as good as Phoebe but not completely awful. Juju is alright so long as you accept that to play him well you have to be prepared to play completely lame. But Juju is definitely not the best card around and it has nothing to do with Touch of Doom - the problem is the rest of his bar, in that he doesn't have much of one.) before I get on my way. Might be back by the end of the week, might be longer, might decide to just forget about the blog to concentrate on my script, I don't know at the moment.

Oh, interesting update in the pipeline, too. I'm especially looking at the changes to Andromeda who I really think needs them. Or at least something to help her in the range game. Helene, meh, reality diverging from my expectations again but I don't like changes that make her more like Ashi and less like herself. She's definitely a problem, especially with Valkyrie but I'd rather hit her damage and interrupt proc instead of her speed.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Blacked Out

Thanks to the recent storms, the power at my home went out yesterday. I spent the rest of the night searching for flashlights (I have the hand-turned sort that mean I don't have to hunt around for batteries but that doesn't mean I can forget where I put them) and setting up the grill to cook up a bunch of thawing meat before it went bad. Today, I have to search through the fridge and see what can and can't be saved - at least it's blessedly cooler today. Not sure when the power will be back so I'll be on yet another blogging hiatus until then.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Kongai: Card List Updated

The Card List has been updated. As always, let me know if there's anything missing or screwed up.

That took longer than I thought although I think I've got the problem of the disappearing link solved - I'd been just putting in "#blahblahblah" which caused it to redirect back to the post-writing screen and not that actual post. But if I copy and paste in the actual post link then it just doesn't happen.

Now, if I can just figure out why scheduled posts aren't showing up like they should...

Friday, June 6, 2008

Two Strains As Yet Unidentified

After much wheedling and convincing, I decided to head downtown for the parade after all. Huuuuuge mistake. It was pavement melting hot and I think I've come down with twelve different diseases after exposure to the sweaty masses of humanity on display. So, yeah, I'm sick and hot and tired but miraculously un-sunburned.

Well, No Fucking Wonder

Pre-scheduled posting appears to be in a non-working state. No wonder all those posts haven't been showing up. Color me pissed.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Kongai: Random Demand

In honor of the Red Wings, I demand that the next card challenge be for the Mindreader's Chalice. Everyone should have a chance to win their own Cup.

Brand New Day

Well, I'm back. Back-ish, kinda. I'm going to be running around a lot for the foreseeable future and may even head off traveling again so I might just up and disappear again soon. Basically, what I've been up to is trying to find a job. More of an occupation, really. Something I won't be embarrassed to bring up at any of the upcoming family picnics instead of the various stopgaps I have and haven't been pursuing lately.

Still, it's a new month for the year and a new era for the blog. I think I will continue to write less and post more sporadically for the time being.

While I've been gone, lots of stuff has happened.

The Pistons lost. I hate to say it but the way they played they really deserved to, especially with the clunkers they laid in games 3 and 6. Flip Saunders got fired because of it. About time, if you ask me. It's not that Saunders is such a bad coach that he had to go (I personally think there are only a few coaches in the NBA who actively add to their teams win totals especially in the post-season - coaches like Riley and Jackson. Then there's a steep drop-off to the caretaker coaches who basically don't mess up a good thing. Saunders is squarely in the bottom of that tier not great but not bad, either.) but more because it was time to shake the team up. In a lot of ways. Looks like they're going to trade at least one part of their big engine block of a core.

The Wings won. Once they went up early it was only a matter of time although the Penguins made a game of it just like they made a series of it. But, then, it wouldn't be the Wings if they didn't make us fans sweat it out for a while. Zetterberg got the Conn-Smythe although I think if the series had lasted a few games less it would have gone to Ozzie - who's now the worst goalie ever to win two Stanley Cups. Parade is downtown tomorrow although I think I'll skip the event. Been there, done that, literally bought the shirt before and the prospect of standing around, jostling for position to watch some cars drive by and then hear people who have no business being public speakers mumble through their remarks to a crowd in the middle of what's supposed to be blistering heat tomorrow somehow doesn't appeal to me. Also, outrageous parking fees, no doubt.

The Tigers still stink and the Lions are still not playing so I can go back to not caring about sports now.

The Michigan delegates got seated. Took the Democrats months to strip half the vote just like the Republicans did in the days leading up to the primary. I got pretty sick of people trying to claim my homestate's stupid decision to disenfranchise ourselves for various purposes so I'm glad that's over.

Also in the "glad it's over" column is the whole nomination process itself. As looked certain for months now, Obama took it. And showing the same dignity and class I've come to expect from her over those long weeks, Senator Clinton managed not to concede. Which gives me an opportunity to post this link.

What else? Kwame's still being Kwame, arguing that black might be white but it doesn't matter because it's not in the City Charter. Or something. I'm pretty tired of him, too.

Massive update to Kongai finally went live today. I'll be talking about that a little later, hopefully, and working on updating The List tomorrow. One word review: good. But, sigh, now I have oh so many cards to check through again...

I've wrapped a bow around my creative project for last month. I didn't mention it much but I was working on a set of expansion cards of my own for Kongai. I got a bit bogged down when I decided to write up a quick little background vignette and include M:TG-esque flavor quotes for each and every skill (Why? Because I'm insane.). Also, I wante dot work up each card into a post I could throw up sometime around Novemember. But the actual crunchy bits are done. I mean, it's nothing like balanced and, at this point, I could use more eyes and opinions to figure out where to go next but I have twenty cards, twenty items (I decided to forgo adding more universal/general items. Why? Because I'm not that crazy.) divided equally between four groups and all the assorted values and elements those entails. Not that you'll get to see them any time soon because, well, just like every waiter and busboy in Holywoodland has a script of a headshot in their dreams if not within arms reach, every gaming blog writer or serious message board warrior secretly fantasizes about what it would be like to actually make the games instead of only talking about them (I know a few people who do - indeed, even some who've made the jump from fan to staff - and the answer, like everything else you could ever wind up doing with the possible exception of official chocolate taster, is "Probably not as great as you think it would be."). In short, there's a small possible outside chance that someone might look at this seriously one day and I don't want to ruin it by having already publicized the information - I could use the money, if nothing else. If by some strange and wonderous quirk of fate, the fine folk at Kongregate ever come up to me and ask me to hop on board then you can be sure that I'd push as hard as I could to have as much information as possible put out there as early as possible but until then, if you're interested I'd talk about it in e-mails or if you catch me in game I might be willing to talk about it, too.

This month's project, though, is another stab at Unbound. If you'll remember, that was my second attempt at a script in the original Script Frenzy. If you don't, it's your basic fantasy story of a young mage trying to escape being "bound" - a process that allows her to channel mystical energy more safely but at the cost of any personality or independence - with the help of a guard whom she may or may not have cast a spell on set against the backdrop of a rebel plot to keep a Princess, the true heir to the throne, from marrying the leader of the foreign invaders who've conquered the country. I've finished it a few times since but never exactly been happy with it so I'm going to take another crack at a revision now that I think I've been able to strip the story down to what works and to take away what doesn't.

Which I really should be getting back to.

History's Greatest Monster

It's easy to paint John "Bomb Iran" McCain as Bush McSame. In other words, as man running for a third term for the Bush administration. And it's only going to continue because it's a winning strategy - the body public is sick of Bush, disgusted with his policies, and if this election turns into a referendum on his legacy then it's going to go even worse for his Republican enablers than it would if we restricted things to their incredibly unpopular policies. The McSame meme is one that should be pounded into the ground and insinuated into every conversation until it leaks from the mainstream. Because it's attacking McCain's strength. It makes him defend his reputation as a man of honor and courage and, frankly, when he has to fall back on his record it's not a good prospect since decades of opportunism and flip-flopping rise out of the mire of scandal and mediocrity. It's a bitch-slap move that puts him on the defensive and one the judo-master Obama is perfectly suited to attempt because he's insulated himself from negative attacks (Oh, sure, there's going to be bullshit about madrasas and watermelons and oreoes and everything else but that's the same tired right wing noise that's always lurking in the shadows. Born of hate and ignorance. You might see the McCain campaign funding it but you won't hear them repeating it because it's beneath contempt. And the brilliance of Obama is that he's made it beneath him to respond. He's set himself above that sort of petty smear campaign and when his opponents attempt that sort of politicking it only serves to enhance his aura. For every deep in the soul racist who'll be swayed by it there are at least as many who will be swayed against it. Who'll see a campaign of destruction that preys on racial and religious fears as something to recoil in horror from and will pull the lever for Obama because they don't like turning the country over to the alternative. People insulting him becomes motivation for his supporters. Like I said, Obama has raised rhetorical judo to an art form.) so that lets him land devastating blows that no one else could. But, you know, fugly backdrop aside, the Man from the Lobbyist Express did have a point in his speech last night. He's not going to be Bush the 3rd. It's not fair to call him Bush McSame.

Call him BushPlus. Because the thing about John McCain is that while he might differ from Bush in a few areas and he might march in lockstep in just as many others, there are plenty more still where he will take the idiocy and negligence of the Bush administration one step farther. Look at this way, despite the recent reproachment, the Bushies and McCain hate each other. His administration is going to be staffed not by hold-overs and the promising young turks from the current environment but from the right wingers who were too extreme or too incompetent to earn a shot in the past eight years.

That thought keeps me up at night trying to figure out the best way to help Obama get elected, by the way, because the Republicans have managed to steer our ship of state into the rocks (Hi. I'm an angry and frustrated liberal who didn't need to be radicalized by years of watching his country swirl down the drain. I'm so far to the left that I'm warping space time and creating an area of unstable geometry. Have we met? Sure, this is overheated and exaggerated. I'm sure that I could sit down and have a perfectly reasonable conversation of rational debate with at least some conservatives. That they are not, in fact, treacherously unpatriotic and working against everything our great nation stands for. It's just that after Bush, I think the onus is on them to prove it to me first.). And I don't want to give their second and third stringers a chance to drive it even further aground.

McCain is a man, after all, who tells us he knows nothing about economics and then goes on to prove it every time he opens his mouth. That same man who challenged a bunch of American workers to go out and pick produce for a living wage and told them that of course they wouldn't. And who waltzed into Michigan to tell us that our that our jobs were gone and our auto industry was doomed and he didn't care (Which might not be the official transcript but that's the sense I got, at least.). And, oh yeah, thinks a Beach Boy song about starting another war is a rip-snorting joke. That isn't Bush telling his generals that we're kicking ass. That's suicidally stupid.

McCain won't be the same as Bush. He'll be worse. Because the question is just who's going to be help him run the country. And the answer is more Republicans. The same Republicans are out of ideas and determined to remain on the wrong path.

Concede Nothing

I caught only a glimpse of it before growing weary but, yes, it really was that bad. Terry McAuliffe on the Daily Show last night.

Beyond parody. What a douche.

Kongai: Another Update

The game's gotten another uplift with patch 1.6. Not only is there a laundry list of balance changes that are gong to leave me starring at my card list and weeping as I try to iron out all the kinks there've been still more improvements to the underlying game.

The graphical updates to the original cards has been extended to the items and they're looking nice. Tool-tips have been added to deck construction. The single-player Practice mode is now 3-Card instead of 5. The "Earn Cards" button actually does something now (Nothing, you know, good. It just takes you to a page explaining as smuggly as possible how to get more cards.). Even the mystery of your win/loss record has been resolved by helpfully putting it up on the main menu (Before you'd have to ask someone or have expanded a match before you entered to know how you were doing.). Supposedly there are some latency issues that have been solved and some solutions for slowness that have been implemented along with a lot of bug fixes - I wouldn't know since I haven't had time to play yet. But I really should find the time because the biggest change is the advent of the rating system. Now, every time you fight your skill ranking is on the line and it'll go up and down according to an unknown ELO-esque system. Basically, beat better players and you'll rise beat up on a bunch of scrubs and you'll marginally improve, if at all - what I don't know are things like the k value and the exact formula that determines it all.

All in all, the game is much better today than it was...uh, yesterday, I guess.

NBA Blogging: Finals Prediction

Getting it down on the record just under the wire but I think it's Lakers. In, say, 5. I don't see how the Celtics can score enough to keep up and I think the 2-3-2 format actually works in LA's favor here. Also, I predict that I won't watch any of the games since they start past my bedtime.

NHL Blogging: Cup Get