Previously, in Trip's Life...

31 March 2011 - Thursday

Work: I was publically lauded in the all-hands meeting today for doing good work. Sheesh.

Visual Entertainments: No Slayers. Germs instead.

Massively-Multiplayer Online Entertainments: Running around the Hellfire Peninsula hasn't seemed as much fun as previous zones and quest chains. Maybe I'm getting burned out on WoW, maybe it's just that the scenery is so unrelentingly barren and grim that no one has fun in the Outlands.

Level 62! I wonder if there are any paladin trainers around Honor Hold.

Cats: Twelve paws!

grim outlands by marith (Fri Apr 1 15:18:47 2011)

Yeah, Hellfire Peninsula is just depressing. At this point you can probably sneak over to the next zone, though - take the road all the way west into Zangarmarsh. It's more fun and has some quite bizarre critters.

also, YAY! by marith (Fri Apr 1 15:19:48 2011)

Congratulations! Also neener neener ITYS!

Hmph! by Trip (Fri Apr 1 15:38:05 2011)

Hmph, I say!

Lauding in public and scaring the horses by Jeremy (Sat Apr 2 12:52:45 2011)

Hey, considering all the various things you could have been mentioned for - or even lauded for - I'd say you should appreciate this one. :-)

Re: Hmph! by Trip (Sun Apr 3 10:53:55 2011)

I guess that's true. Now that they've wandered off into realms of fantasy, I could potentially be lauded for anything, so better something that's almost plausible if you don't look too closely.

Make a comment!

30 March 2011 - Wednesday

Work: Check.

Textual Educations: Makeshift Metropolis (Witold Rybczynski) is a brief introduction to the history of urban planning in the US, from the City Beautiful (large public buildings in classical styles), through the Garden City (suburbs with lots of parks) and the Radiant city (Le Corbusier's skyscrapers in parks), through the period when Jane Jacobs put the idea of planning cities into bad repute, to the current approach of planning the outlines and constraints but leaving the details to be filled in by the market as people vote with their dollars.

Rybczynski's conclusion is that the US is way too large for blanket statements about "what Americans want", but small cities near outdoors fun seem to be popular this decade. Seems plausible to me.

Massively-Multiplayer Online Entertainments: Yay feliron! Boo orcs! Yay content that's almost Zmorcia's level! Boo bombing runs that don't let Zmo use her own gryphon! Eeek ground that tilts inexorably off into the void!

Cats: Twelve paws!

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29 March 2011 - Tuesday

Work: Check.

Textual Entertainments: When I read the next book in Timothy Zahn's "Quadrail" series, I discovered I couldn't remember what happened in Odd Girl Out, so I made Link+ bring it to me. Oh yah, that's what happened. I bet that's going to come back to cause trouble later.

Visual Entertainments:

  • Clannad 3: I guess that's doom in context, although it seems pretty minor compared the other serieses we're watching.
  • Death Note 8-9: Brain vs brain in open combat!
  • Haruhi II 11: This is going about as well as it did last time.
  • Umineko 1-2: These people probably don't deserve to actually die, but I find it hard to think most of them will be missed.

Food: The Manresa is pretty good.

Cats: I told Aspen how very cute she is, but she was not swayed.

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28 March 2011 - Monday

Work: Check.

Textual Educations: Mike Brown's How I Killed Pluto And Why It Had It Coming has an awesome title and is about Kuiper Belt Objects (also awesome) and babies (I hear those are awesome too). The Pluto controversy only comes in at the end, though, after a lot of KBO-hunting, marriage, unproven perfidy by Spaniards and Internet bozos,more KBO-hunting, and child-raising. It was quite engaging, and he did a good job of portraying the endless patience needed for that kind of astronomy., Also, he made a strong case for Pluto not being a planet, even though that meant none of the objects he'd discovered were planets either.

Massively-Multiplayer Online Entertainments: Zmorcia finished off the Blasted Lands by putting down a druid who had gone bad. (This probably crushed the spirits of the poor Gilneans who had followed him there, but he really did need to be put down.) Then, through the Dark Portal to the Outlands, where demons roam and rivers of light run through the sky!

The good side of the Outlands: High-level minerals just lying on the ground waiting to be picked up. The bad: Orcs. Also, orcs. With a side of orcs.

Level 61!

Cats: Talkative orange cat has much to say!

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27 March 2011 - Sunday

Gaming: Adam has to spend today being oppressed by grants, so I sent the other PCs off to fight an undead dryad who wanted to extract all the death from them to open a gate to the Shadowfell so she could complain to the Raven Queen about not being dead. Things were going okay for her until Naled engulfed her tree in a wall of fire. The question now is whether she can kill, or at least drive off, Naled before her tree burns to nothing, but we had to knock off before it was resolved. (Early, so Jeremy and Rachel could take their kids to something, but we started early, so really it's just my poor pacing to blame.)

Massively-Multiplayer Online Entertainments: Zmorcia has finished up most of the quests in the Blasted Lands, and also popped back to Stormwind to get a snow-white gryphon to fly around on. Yay flying mount! (Big thanks to J—d, who told her where to find the inexplicably unlabelled seller of gryphons.)

So this is the future: You can't get a jetpack, but you can get a flying mount in WoW. I'm not sure it's really a fair trade.

Food: Marith and I went to the Chinese place on Castro where we go for dim sum, the name of which I forget, and ate food. The fish was interestingly colored, but the middle was too soft and squishy and fishy for my taste, so I was condemned to the horrible fate of having to eat extra sauteed string beans in garlic. Horrible, I tell you.

Cats: Twelve paws!

oppressed by grants by kit (Wed Mar 30 10:21:39 2011)

I thought that said oppressed by giants, and got all excited for a minute there. :)

Re: oppressed by grants by Trip (Wed Mar 30 10:59:42 2011)

From the sound of it, giants would have been preferable.

Make a comment!

26 March 2011 - Saturday

Gaming: I should have been preparing so diligently for tomorrow, but instead I sucked.

Massively-Multiplayer Online Entertainments: Zmorcia finished with the Swamp of Sorrows and its plentiful thorium, got some jewelcrafting designs that need only thorium and gems that can be prospected from thorium ore, and moved on to the Blasted Lands, last stop before the Outlands.

Level 60! Woo hoo!

Visual Entertainments: The fourth disc of Air TV was a summary episode of one plot line of the season, and some random character-building bits from the other plot arc. It was cute.

Cats: Still twelve paws, even if Aspen is convinced that I am going to bite hers off!

Make a comment!

25 March 2011 - Friday

Modern Medicine: I did not miss this appointment, although when I learned the next step after lasering doesn't work out involves needles into the eyeball, I sort of wished I had. However, it was not anywhere near as bad as I had anticipated (yay topical anaesthesia!), and if it has to be done again, I will not die. I may even not scream.

Work: I'm supposed to have my presentation for week after next finished by the middle of next week. I'm still not sure if I need to do more than show the web page.

Massively-Multiplayer Online Entertainments: No worgening, but look! It's thorium! (The zone full of sites named Thorium X was actually full of mithril, which is very nice but not thorium.) Also assorted quests which lead Zmo away from the goblin beach resort. The orcish army is not significantly more aesthetic.

Level 58!

Cats: Twelve paws!

Make a comment!

24 March 2011 - Thursday

Work: Check.

Textual Educations: As should be obvious from the title, Power, Sex, Suicide (Nick Lane) is about biology. Specifically, about mitochondria, which in Lane's professional opinion, are why anything besides bacterial slime lives on this planet. Briefly: all aerobic cells pump protons to the outside of a membrane and tap the resulting gradient for ATP synthesis and everything else that requires energy. Bacteria use their outer membrane for this, so the square-cube effect keeps them small. Eukaryotic cells can grow large by adding mitochondria in proportion to their volume, opening the door to complexity, multicellularity, and eventually the pinnacle of evolution: cats.

Things I totally did not know:

  • The cell that took in mitochondria and became the first eukaryote was one of the archaea, not a bacterium.
  • Cells store energy as an electrochemical gradient across the cell membrane and only convert it into ATP when they need to do something with it.
  • Birds have a much higher metabolic rate than mammals, but nevertheless live an order of magnitude longer than mammals of equivalent size.
  • The free radicals that antioxidants are supposed to save you from are a vital signal in mitochondrial operation.
  • Humans produce about their own mass in ATP every day.

Apparently eukaryotism only evolved once in four billion years, and the details we can discern support that it was a pretty unlikely event, so Lane is not optimistic about finding multicellular life anywhere else.

The reason birds live so much longer is apparently almost entirely because of how they handle their mitochondria, so greatly slowing down, if not entirely stopping, aging in humans theoretically has a single point of success. Now if only someone would work on that... (Lane appears to be mostly pro-Aubrey de Gray, for what that's worth.)

Food: Home-made French onion soup. On a rainy night, how can you go wrong with caramelized onions, bread, and melted cheese?

Visual Entertainments: Slayers Try 17-18: Okay, that's it for the silly episodes. Next week, back to the main plot!

Cats: Miau miau miau!

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23 March 2011 - Wednesday

Work: Big Customer X exploded, so we upgraded their cluster before turning it back over to them, which took an unexpectedly long time. Bah.

My, Earth really is full of things: In the parking lot of the San Carlos Caltrain station, I saw a car painted with what looked an awful lot like grownup Simon and Nia from Gurren Lagann (the blue/yellow hair is pretty distinctive).

Massively-Multiplayer Online Entertainments: Why a goblin beach resort? Why not a night elf beach resort? Even a tauren beach resort would be better (they at least have horns and hooves). Zmorcia is unimpressed. However, the lobster things carry clams that produce big shiny pearls, so that's okay.

I think gilbins may be goblin/murloc crossbreeds.

Cats: I brought new scratchy things, with new catnip to put underneath. The cats approve.

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22 March 2011 - Tuesday

My, the Internet really is full of things: The Retropolis Transit Authority is still doing business, which is good because my shirts are starting to wear out.

Looking at RTA shirts makes me want to run a retro space game. (Which is not the same as an SF game: 1930 with spaceships, aliens, and unexplored planets full of mystery and ancient treasure is not any more realistic or less fantastic a setting than 1390 with dragons, elves, and unexplored wildernesses full of mystery and ancient treasure. But we enjoy D&D so we could enjoy this.) Not that there will ever be a gaming slot open again.

Visual Entertainments:

  • Death Note 7: Aw, so close!
  • Clannad 1-2: This is definitely the sort of thing Piro would have watched obsessively.
  • Haruhi II 10: Did they forget about how this went the first time, or did it unhappen? Either is possible.
  • Darker Than Black OAVs 3-4: And now we know the full extent of the doom and death that got our protagonists from the end of first season to the beginning of second season.

Next week, Umineko.

Cats: Twelve adorable paws!

Retropolis Transit Authority by kit (Wed Mar 30 10:25:38 2011)

Man, the Retropolis Transit Authority just continues to be full of awesome.

Re: Retropolis Transit Authority by Trip (Wed Mar 30 10:57:13 2011)

Yes! They are as awesome as an atomic-powered space-going awesome thing!

Make a comment!

21 March 2011 - Monday

Decrepitude: Today is my actual birthday. I have not yet crumbled into dust, but it's still early.

Work: Check.

Massively-Multiplayer Online Entertainments: The aerial assault on Dreadmaul Rock was annoying because I couldn't figure out how to get the dragon to aim lower except by diving creeping slowly downwards, but eventually the orc army was defeated and the humiliated orc leaders put out of their misery. Then Zmorcia hopped back to Searing Gorge to explore the last sector of the map (more giant lava spiders and a collapsed cave that was probably full of treasure in previous editions) and moved on to the next zone, Swamp of Sorrows, and the goblin beach resort. This is another zone she tried to explore earlier; I think on that occasion she was thwarted by giant death vultures of pain and liver-eating.

Cats: Marmalade tried to help Zmorcia attack Dreadmaul Rock from the air. This did not exactly provide a bonus, but was very fuzzy.

Annual observance by Jeremy (Mon Mar 21 19:05:48 2011)

Happy birthday! One more year of cheating entropy - here's to many more!

Re: Annual observance by Trip (Tue Mar 22 07:11:46 2011)

Thanks!

So far being 41 seems to be no worse than being 40, so I'd recommend the upgrade when it's available.

Make a comment!

20 March 2011 - Sunday

Massively-Multiplayer Online Entertainments: Zmorcia finished up Searing Gorge and moved on to the Burning Steppes (which are not at all flat, but maybe that's because the world was just kicked around fairly extensively), which are full of orcs and ogres and trolls that need infiltrating and crushing. Zmo's ogre disguise consisted of taking off most of her clothes and putting on a huge mask with a cartoon ogre face, but apparently it worked (unless she hit people with the Morale Stick too much) and the orc generals have been set up the bomb. The next quest or handful of quests will probably involve wiping them out and then moving on to another zone.

Ages ago, Zmo encountered a bunch of demons at the gate to the Burning Steppes that were so far above her she couldn't even tell their level, so she had to turn around and explore somewhere else. Today she came to that gate from the other side and pwned great numbers of those demons with little difficulty. It was very satisfying.

Level 56! She should probably go back to civilization and train the three or four new paladin powers she's qualified for, and maybe pick up some more jewelcrafting recipes since the ones she has are running out of skill advances.

Cats: Marmalade has reclaimed his rightful place as King of the Warm Laundry! All hail King Marmalade!

days of importance by cat (Mon Mar 21 09:47:08 2011)

Happy Birthday!!

Re: days of importance by Trip (Mon Mar 21 10:06:16 2011)

Thanks!

Make a comment!

19 March 2011 - Saturday

Massively-Multiplayer Online Entertainments: After Ken explained that the guy I'd been hunting for like three days didn't appear until enough of his minions had been killed in an otherwise boring section of the Crucible, I was able to complete that quest and move on. Now the bad darkiron dwarves and their pet fire elemental have been thoroughly crushed, and also had their pillows stolen, and Zmorcia has found a place in the zone that has both vendors and a mailbox (and a leader who is susceptible to dancing).

Lunk helped me do some Thorium Point quests by sitting on dwarves so I wouldn't have to kill them. He is still the best pacifist ogre ever, although I'm not sure the dwarves would agree.

Offspring: We went over early so we could admire Ayse and Ken's baby toddler before she went to bed. She is very cute and played a lot with her Auntie Marith (cutely).

Gaming: After dinner was made and consumed, there was no time to play Thrace, so we played The Stars Are right. It was not entirely successful, partly because we made a dumb mistake in the beginning (one gets board changes by discarding cards from one's hand, not from among the cards laboriously summoned) and partly because it requires a lot of thinking. Also we didn't do a good job of explaining the rules to Ken, so when we tried to explain better, he felt that we were changing the rules to make him lose. The game itself requires a lot of thinking, and you can't effectively plan while other people are taking their turns, but might be fun for people who like thinking.

Cats: Ghirardelli is still coughing some, but a lot less. Perhaps I need to rub his belly more often.

Happy Birthday! by marith (Mon Mar 21 08:55:22 2011)

You are still my favorite Trip and best brother!

Squack! by Trip (Mon Mar 21 09:14:33 2011)

Squack, I say!

Make a comment!

18 March 2011 - Friday

Work: Check.

Textual Entertainments: State of Decay (James Knapp) starts off as cyberpunk zombies and gets more horrifying from there. I liked it more than I expected to, and hope there's a sequel.

Cats: Twelve fuzzy paws!

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17 March 2011 - Thursday

Work: We got our offer letters from the new overlords today. I'll get more money up front, but have to pay for health insurance. I do not get an army of atomic robot minions, at least not until after the next review cycle, but I do get to cash out my vacation time from the old regime. I think it will work out.

Textual Entertainments: How To Become a Scandal (Laura Kipnis) is about what drives people to behavior that other people find scandalous, and what makes those other people gleefully vicious about it, but it's not what I'd call a serious work of psychology or philosophy, even if you leave out the case studies.

Human intellect: iz not so grate, akshully.

Food: I seem to have overcome my bangers-related trauma from decades past, although I still think the texture is weird and insufficiently sausage-like. Cabbage, onions, and chard are unquivocally tasty, though. All hail Ken!

Visual Entertainments: We never did get around to watching any Slayers.

Cats: Yes, Mr Big Orange Cat, I love you too! But may I do chores now?

Writing: Ayse has successful writing while her baby naps!

Atomic robot minions by Jeremy (Mon Mar 21 19:35:02 2011)

Oh, man.... I get my annual review tomorrow. I'm keeping my fingers crossed^H^H^H^H^H twisted into an awkward star shape for atomic robot minions, but I may have to settle for getting to keep my office.

Re: Atomic robot minions by Trip (Mon Mar 21 20:15:11 2011)

Well, it would be awkward to get atomic robot minions and have nowhere to keep them.

Good luck!

Make a comment!

16 March 2011 - Wednesday

Work: Check. Fairly quiet day.

Textual Educations: The China Study (T. Colin Campbell, with Thomas M. Campbell II) is a book about what you should eat to die less, and therefore immediately suspect, but it seems relatively sane. The first half of the book talks about the eponymous large study of what people ate and how healthy they were, and the result that eating very little animal stuff (not just meat, but eggs and especially milk) drastically decreases the incidence and severity of all the stereotypically American diseases. It's a popular book, but Campbell briefly explains what a p-value is and labels the various results as having a p-value of 0.05 or better, 0.01 or better, or 0.001 or better. It certainly doesn't look like information that was pulled out of someone's burro, although I haven't followed up on any of the 36 pages of references.

In summary, the study found that people who got about 10% of their calories from protein (as opposed to the 20-30% typical in the US), no more than that from fat, and as little as possible from animal sources, were least afflicted by obesity, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, etc. Other studies, both human and animal, by Campbell and others, are cited to back this up. Protein in excess of the 10% or so that's actually needed seems to be particularly bad, and casein (the main protein in dairy) perhaps worst of all, but animal fats are also pretty bad. The good news is that changing to a better diet at any point will help, and may even reverse the progress of those diseases.

In summary of the summary: vegan diet FTW.

In the second half of the book, Campbell goes off on the medical-industrial complex and its insistence on treating all conditions with expensive surgery and expensive drugs when a change of diet is all that's needed to prevent or even reverse chronic diseases. The agricultural industry and its relentless propagandizing for the consumption of meat and milk gets blasted too, along with Atkins and similar purveyors of carnivority. He talks about specific people he's talked to and specific organizations he's worked with or been part of, so it's not a rant against the faceless Man Keeping Nutritional Studies Down, but it is kind of ranty. I am also dubious about his belief that any biological research that looks at the effect of a specific substance/gene/reaction is doomed to failure because the body is so complex that only a holistic approach can tell us anything.

But, even if Campbell is mildly crackpotty, that doesn't mean he's wrong about nutrition.

(There is no mention of the superpowers granted by veganism, poosibly because Campbell never actually uses the world.)

Massively-Multiplayer Online Entertainments: Zmorcia spent an unproductive hour or so running around the giant pit full of darkiron dwarves and occasionally falling into pools of lava. She found some new places, including a couple of elevators, but nothing that was useful (where by "useful" I mean "containing the quest target"). She did mine more than 50 mithril, though.

Cats: This morning was Ghirardelli's last encounter with the Horrible Syringe of Yucky Horribleness! (Assuming he stops coughing and I don't have to take him back to the vet.)

Make a comment!

15 March 2011 - Tuesday

Work: Through a series of mishaps too pointlessly stupid to be worth recounting, I ended up working from home today. Bah.

Visual Entertainments:

  • Death Note 6: She's pretty sharp. But will she be sharp enough?
  • Ef - A Tale of Melodies 11-12: That was not as doomed an end as it could have been, which in this context is much like victory.
  • Haruhi II 9: The end of the Endless Eight! And it wasn't actually what we had been thinking.
  • Darker Than Black OAVs 1-2: This is definitely taking place between seasons 1 and 2, you can tell from the shape of the doom.

Next week, Clannad.

Cats: I am reliably informed that if I am at home, I should be paying attention to Marmalade, not putting my paws on the silly little squares!

This morning was the last scheduled dose of horrible goo for Ghirardelli, but he didn't really get the first few, so I will continue oppressing him until the bottle is empty.

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14 March 2011 - Monday

Work: Check.

Massively-Multiplayer Online Entertainments: Going through an instance with someone who can kill everything on the screen with one keystroke is certainly more efficient in terms of getting quests completed (unless you forget to mention that you need banshee essences), but I still have no idea what's going on inside Stratholme.

Cats: Twelve paws!

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13 March 2011 - Sunday

Work: Still no on-call stuff. W00t.

Gaming: I didn't really expect the PCs to go along with the shadowhunter elves putting bags over their heads and carting them off to a secret location. However, although I am still a terrible GM in general, I did manage to take enough cues from my players to have the PCs fight... themselves! Everyone got to try out their new powers, in duplicate, and much fun was had. The PCs who returned from the Labyrinth of Initiation are probably even the same ones who entered.

Rachel couldn't make it until the fight was well in progress, but then Damaia (both of her) exploded her enemies satisfactorily.

Next session, though, they will definitely leave Dead Lake. This time, for sure!

Massively-Multiplayer Online Entertainments: Apparently the darkiron dwarves, industrial as they are, have never invented the spirit level or plumb. However, their annoying pit is full of mithril and has a quest target, so Zmorcia will have to go back.

Ayse was not entirely dead, so there was a worgen run ("What about the dwarf? Is she a worgen too?" <finger>) into some instance or other (Scholomance?) at which Daphona sucked completely and died twice. Also the computer did not give her credit for being in the party that killed one of the middle bosses, so she couldn't complete the quest and will have to go back and suck again.

Being a werewolf is harder than it looks.

Cats: Hang in there, Chococat! Only a few more days of medication!

Dwarves by Ken (Wed Mar 16 14:33:38 2011)

She can turn into a wolf! Totally counts!

Re: Dwarves by Trip (Fri Mar 18 09:05:39 2011)

I am saddened that no one got my clever Scott Pilgrim reference.

Make a comment!

12 March 2011 - Saturday

Work: I am backup oncall (the other guy who could be backup oncall is in India), but today I did not have to do anything. I guess cow orker S got the better end of the bargain when he agreed to switch weekends with cow orker M.

Gaming: Surely this will be enough preparation to get through one session!

(I suppose in theory I could prepare more than one session in advance, but then I run the risk of having narrative structure.)

Massively-Multiplayer Online Entertainments: Zmorcia has extracted all the skill increases from mithril filigree already, but the winning new jewelcrafting recipe is still orange and requires only mithril filigree and gems that can be prospected from mithril ore, so Land of Mithril is still good!

The explanations for why Deathwing doesn't come around these parts any more were extraordinarily silly. (Everything that involves the Gnomish World Shrinker is extraordinarily silly.) However, later events in a different quest chain made them somewhat less amusing.

Level 50!

Finally that zone was exhausted of quests too, so Zmorcia followed the last quest to the next zone, which has a huge pit filled with even more darkiron dwarves. The spider-surfing pacifist ogre is awesome.

Then J— lured Zmo into the Stratholme instance with a bunch of random spuds, and it was a confusing maelstrom of undead, violence, and more undead. She just followed J— around and hit everything he attacked, and it seemed to work out okay. (Yay Hammer of Wrath!) I forget to have her complete the quests before degrouping, though, so she'll have to go back and become more confused at least once more.

Cats: Ghirardelli wanted to play chase! I think that means he is feeling better!

Make a comment!

11 March 2011 - Friday

Work: Check.

Textual Entertainments: There isn't anything wrong with Principles of Angels (Jaine Fenn), it just doesn't have anything that's particularly original.

Massively-Multiplayer Online Entertainments: After running out of non-dungeon quests in the Eastern Plaguelands, Zmorcia rode the almost-entirely-reliable goblin rocket to Fuselight, in the Badlands. Fuselight had only a few quests (goat-punching!) but is conveniently located with respect to darkiron dwarves, archaeology, dragon drama, and about fifty million rabid coyotes.

Cats: Twelve paws of varying levels of oppression!

Make a comment!

10 March 2011 - Thursday

Work: Check.

Sequential Entertainments: Bokurano volume three. This is by Mohiro Kitoh, who did Shadow Star, and is equally full of doom. Oh so much doom. In fact I can only think of one series doomier, and that's Saikano.

Food: After Ayse and I pillaged the library we went and picked up food from Shezan. They hadn't written down the names with the takeout orders, but I figured ours was the one with three dishes plus four orders of samosas, and indeed it was. This time, we went all vegetarian. It was still tasty.

Visual Entertainments: Slayers Try 15-16, silly filler episodes after the Big Boom. I thought these were going to be the fishman episodes, but I was wrong insufficiently correct.

Cats: I am pretty sure Ghirardelli is keeping his medicine down, and he seems to be less coughtastic!

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9 March 2011 - Wednesday

Work: The new overlords stopped in for another boozefest all-hands, but not a whole lot more information was transmitted. It was probably good for people who missed last week's meeting.

My, the Internet really is full of things:

Textual Educations: Long For This World (Jonathan Weiner) is subtitled, "The Strange Science of Immortality", but a more honest subtitle might have been "How Science Wants to Destroy Your Soul". The first part of the book does look at some of the science, interspersed among sections of "Look at Aubrey de Gray! Isn't he wacky? Doesn't he drink so much?", but the last part consists mostly of what I'll call the Literary Argument Against Life Extension: Being human consists of going through Shakespeare's Seven Ages of Man and then having the curtain come down on your story, so doing otherwise means you're not human, and must be some kind of soulless zombie doomed to an eternity of meaningless angst. There's some naturalistic fallacy thrown in for good measure, and more than a trace of religion.

Since Weiner does bring up stories from the Torah in support of his view, I can't help but think that this is the same mindset that railed against the use of anesthesia during childbirth as being against the natural order.

This book gets maybe half a tentacle up, for the science in the first section. No tentacles for the sour-grapes quasi-philosophizing.

Note 1: Aubrey de Gray may actually be that wacky. (Engineering out all telomerase production and then topping the body up with externally-produced stem cells every few years is certainly a radical proposal.) This has nothing to do with whether life extension is either possible or wise.

Note 2: Of course there would be downsides to people living until they die of misadventure or malfeasance. After all, even people you don't like will live longer. But the people you don't like also got the secrets of fire, agriculture, vaccination, and public sanitation, and those are still generally seen as good things.

Massively-Multiplayer Online Entertainments: There are lots of quests in the northwestern Eastern Plaguelands, but maybe I shouldn't have tried to finish them all tonight. Also doing them in order might have helped, since then the NPC to report success too wouldn't have left the place you're supposed to report to him at. Oh well.

Zmorcia has now been to the tunnel full of undead spiders and iron from the higher-level end. It's still full of undead spiders and iron (which is less interesting, but can at least be prospected for gems).

Cats: In the morning, Ghirardelli ran and hid in the corner behind some stuff leaned against bookcases so I had to dig him out to give him his horrible goo, but in the evening he just hunkered down and looked miserable. :(

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8 March 2011 - Tuesday

Work: Check.

Gaming: Looks the vote is tending toward the Gnoll Shaman quest chain.

Sequential Entertainments: Shirley, more Victorian maid action from Kaoru Mori. There seems to have been only one volume of this, alas.

Visual Entertainments:

  • Haruhi II 8: Still in the Endless Eight, but things are obviously starting to break down. Now if Kyon would only stop fawning over other girls and accept his inevitable fate...
  • Death Note 4-5: Light is clever, but that's not just edging up to the line, it's leaping over with both feet.
  • Ef - A Tale of Melodies 10: Dooooooooom!
  • Darker Than Black II 11-12: That was almost (but not quite) completely unlike an explanation.

Cats: I have managed to medicate Ghirardelli by holding his mouth shut until he swallows, but he is so unhappy about it that I feel like the worst cat-dad in the entire history of horrible cat-dads. :(

More from Mori by Carl (Sun Mar 13 17:37:16 2011)

Shirley only had one volume. However, Kaoru Mori's A Bride's Story is coming out soon, set in Mongolia, with MUCH more elaborate costuming. It looks really good. There was a youtube video showing her drawing one amazing panel.

Make a comment!

7 March 2011 - Monday

Work: Check.

Textual Educations: Absolute Zero and the Conquest of Cold (Tom Schachtman) is pretty much what it says on the tin, from Cornelius Drebbel making the interior of Westminster Abbey feel like winter in the middle of summer for King James up through the creation of Bose-Einstein condensates in the late 90s (the book was published in 1999). The ideas people came up with to explain heat and cold before atomic theory and thermodynamics are a really good demonstration of just how far we've come in the past 200 years.

The largest part of the book covers the 19th-century European race to achieve colder and colder temperatures and liquify more and more "permanent" gasses in some detail. Dewar (inventor of the Thermos) sounds like quite a jerk, but he did make things very cold.

Everything after Kamerlingh Onnes's liquifaction of helium in 1908 (superconductivity, superfluid helium, BECs, etc) is stuffed into the last chapter, possibly because there wasn't enough nationalism and egotism to make it dramatic. (I wish the nationalism seemed quainter.)

Massively-Multiplayer Online Entertainments: I meant to do things that were not WoW but kinda failed. At least Zmorcia is now in a place where she can mine something other than iron, and after a trip back to Stormwind for training, can convert all that mithril directly into Jewelcrafting skill. (I have finally figured out that jewelry is its own reward; to pump skill you need to make components (delicate copper wire, mithril filigree, etc). What do you mean, "slow of mind"?)

Giant undead roaming level 45 elites suck.

Cats: I called the vet for advice on getting Ghirardelli to not hork up his antibiotics as strings of disgusting foam. We did manage to establish that he's most likely spitting it out because it's horrible, not actually getting an upset stomach and the vet tech suggested trying to get the squirt into the back corner of the mouth, rather than straight back, so as to avoid the taste buds as much as possible. I don't think I did it right, though.

It's only been a couple of days, but Ghirardelli recognizes the medicine bottle when I take it out of the fridge and runs to the other end of the apartment. Poor oppressed Chococat!

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6 March 2011 - Sunday

Work: Oncall seems to have been much quieter today, or at least nothing cow orker M couldn't handle.

Gaming: Apparently I'm still a horrible GM who bores the players, but at least Goat Town was saved from the gnollish invasion, and Jeremy did make his Win With Style roll. Also, Damaia successfully used powers on deserving monsters.

Next I think we'll have some training montages so people who want to rewrite their characters can, the rest of the level 11 loot, and perhaps some additional doom. Everybody likes doom.

Sequential Entertainments: Now I have reread all the Emma side stories, which are not as maid-ariffic, but are equally awww.

Massively-Multiplayer Online Entertainments: After travelling across half the Eastern Plaguelands with the worgen merchant and her... bodyguards? harem? comic sidekicks? the dwarf paladin and night elf paladin, and stopping off to do quests at a couple of the brightly glowing towers, Zmorcia is level 45. I can't believe there's no paladin trainer in this Light's Hope Chapel place. Sheesh.

Cats: I managed to get the antibiotic goo down Ghirardelli once, but now he's spitting out disgusting foam. If I can't get him to keep it down tomorrow, I'll have to call the vet and see if they have any advice or less upsetting goo.

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5 March 2011 - Saturday

Work: I got dragged from bed before 6:00 to help cow orker M with his oncall. It was the same customer whose cluster I had patched back together with duct tape a couple of weeks ago, at which time I had warned them that I couldn't guarantee stability and they should migrate off that cluster immediately or sooner. They didn't, and look! Their cluster is having problems! Who could possibly have predicted that?

Gaming: Ayse is still full of germs, so although we went over to hang out for a bit, there was no Thrace.

Massively-Multiplayer Online Entertainments: Zmorcia is level 43 and has just gotten to the Eastern Plaguelands (with a detour to someplace more northerly, at the end of a tunnel full of undead spider-things and iron ore, where mithril and truesilver were available to be mined).

Cats: Most oppressed cats EVER! Surely no cats have been seized and stuffed into boxes and shaken around and taken to a place full of strange unhealthy smells and poked and prodded before!

Marmalade was diagnosed as having the sniffles, which he would get over in time. Ghirardelli has shoggoths living in his nose, so he has to take antibiotics for a couple of weeks, which he won't appreciate. Aspen is healthy and beautiful, but was so traumatized that she let me hold her without complaint until it was her turn. (Afterwards, she hid in the carrier with her face stuffed between the corner and Ghirardelli's back and waited for it all to be over one way or another. Poor kitty!)

They ignored my bribe of tuna flakes when we got home, but seemed to have mostly forgiven me by bedtime.

I think Marith is a Hero of the Evolution for driving to the vet, but I understand other members of the expedition may have different opinions.

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4 March 2011 - Friday

Work: Slow day, I think because people were hung over from the merger celebration last night.

Textual Entertainments: Redemption in Indigo (Karen Lord) is very much a fairy tale, vaguely Middle-Eastern in style with the explicit storyteller framing, but the names and the cover art seem very African, and there is a trickster spider spirit. Hurray for fantasy books not written by middle-class white Americans! (The author is from Barbados, and doesn't look very white in the photo, at least by American standards.)

Sequential Entertainments: Finished rereading the main storyline of Emma (Kaoru Mori). It's maid-ariffic! (Also, awwww!)

Massively-Multiplayer Online Entertainments: Ayse still has germs, so there was no worgen action. However, Zmorcia has made it to level 40, which means she gets a fancier elephant-like riding beast, and can wear plate armor (which her sempai Grainne sent her a whole bunch of). Still in the Western Plaguelands, but they seem to be running low on quest XP.

Cats: Poor Ghirardelli still has shoggoths living in his nose.

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3 March 2011 - Thursday

Work: I, for one, welcome our new data warehousing overlords.

The Teradata overlords who flew out to meet with us after being up until all hours hammering out the deal seem like okay guys, and apparently represent one of the 100 most ethical companies of 2010 (if that web page is worth the paper it's printed on). They strongly implied that Aster will continue to operate as it has been for the immediate future, but didn't commit to anything. The co-founders will be staying on, in some capacity, rather than going off to found another company. Not sure about the CEO they brought in recently.

My previous experience with being bought was not so great, but that was a moribund company, which hopefully Aster has not suddenly become. (Teradata stock rose noticeably at the announcement, so that's good, right?)

Gaming: Now Dave is thinking of rewriting his character, to be less invulnerable but hit a lot harder. I guess I have to give everyone the chance to recover from their eary mistakes.

Textual Educations: The Routes of Man (Ted Conover) contains some research, but is mostly an experiental, rather than scholarly, work: Conover went to some roads, travelled them with some people, saw what they were doing to the world around them. The roads he travelled were in Peru (with truckers driving from the coast over the mountains into the (sometimes legal) mahogany-logging areas of the rainforest), Kenya (more truckers, from Nairobi into the interior of Africa, the route blamed for bringing AIDS from the middle of nowhere to the outside world), northernmost India (a village so remote that the only current road is the frozen river during winter, but about to be connected to the rest of the country), China (road trip with a group of the car enthusiasts that have sprung up now that not only Party officials can have cars), and Nigeria (with ambulance drivers in Lagos, slumtastic megacity of the future), and there are some shorter chapters about things like Roman roads, Napolean's roadbuilding, Broadway in New York.

Humans. Huh.

Massively-Multiplayer Online Entertainments: Oh, that empty, ruined city/castle in the eastern Western Plaguelands is Scholomance! I've heard of that!

If you go to the western side of the region, it's not so barren, presumably because it borders non-plagued lands. The only living creatures seem to be fish and toads, though.

Zmorcia found some more quests, although I think she was supposed to go to the Argent Dawn camp from the other side, instead of running through the undread battle to get the quests to go back and kill more of the things she just killed. Eh, whatever. It's always a good day to kill icky undead and go up to level 39, even if it seems to be some kind of internecine struggle.

Visual Entertainments: Just as yodelling is the opposite of tuna, germs are the opposite of Slayers.

Cats: Twelve fuzzy paws!

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2 March 2011 - Wednesday

Work: I tried to take today off as a comp day for working on President's Day, especially after staying up late fighting the stupid stupid incomplete network information creatures, but ended up finishing that task and figured I might as well just work for the rest of the day. I guess I'll get my comp day some other time.

Modern Medicine: Huh, apparently it's next month's appointment that's at 17:00 in the afternoon. Today's appointment was at 8:00 in the morning. When I was asleep from having stayed up too late engaging in vile traffic with the VPN Monsters.

Gaming: Rachel has rewritten her character to be mightier and more terrifying. This probably means I should have an adventure ready for Sunday, doesn't it?

Massively-Multiplayer Online Entertainments: Zmorcia beat up a whole bunch more trolls and ran up and down about a million stairs (I think one of the quest-givers had an option to skip to the top, but the trolls along the way were full of cloth and sellable equipment and a blue weapon) and beat up some kind of undead(?) who were causing trouble, and that seems to have used up the Alliance quests in the Hinterlands. There are more cities full of trolls, a creepy valley full of ruins and spiders, and a side valley with completely uninhabited ruins, but none of them had quests, so she went to the Western Plaguelands. So far she's seen a total of one monster, but there are a lot of blobs that pulsate, and occasional ghosts.

Level 39!

Cats: Twelve paws!

Mightier and more terrifying by Jeremy (Thu Mar 3 18:46:34 2011)

Hey, as long as we're playing ourselves in this game, can I do some accelerated retraining too? I need to be geekier and less effective.

Re: Mightier and more terrifying by Trip (Thu Mar 3 19:34:23 2011)

Pish tosh.

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1 March 2011 - Tuesday

Work: Stupid stupid VPN creatures.

After I got home, I spent a few more hours defeating, but then failed due to not having any information about what network configuration to set up.

Visual Entertainments:

  • Ef - A Tale of Melodies 8-9: Those are some pretty broken people, all right.
  • Death Note 3: That's like a plan! Also, Light is finally exploring some of the advanced features of the Death Note.
  • Haruhi II 6-7: I think this is iterations 5 and 6 of the "Endless Eight".
  • Darker Than Black II 10: This can't possibly end well.

Cats: Ghirardelli is making alarming noises from time to time, although I can't quite tell if they're respiratory noises or digestive noises. Fortunately, he is already scheduled to see the vet on Saturday.

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