Vote Early, Vote Often


VoteI’m not really telling you to commit voter fraud. Very little voter fraud is actually committed by the voters – although Republicans would have you believe that all voter fraud can be eliminated by requiring proper identification at the polls. No, most fraud, if there is any, occurs in the counting and tabulating. Boxes of mail-in votes lost or “forgotten”, counting being handled by clearly partisan people, early votes being “invalidated” and the voters not notified or not allowed to re-vote, and so on. Voters don’t really commit fraud, political parties and corporate entities do… you know, the things that don’t actually vote, and thus don’t need an ID.

Beyond the malarkey of voter ID, you should, if at all possible, vote. There is no reason not to.

Don’t like either of the major party candidates? Then consider voting 3rd party to vote “against” the major parties. Sure, those 3rd parties aren’t likely to win, but every vote they can get helps them become more established and maybe next time, in 2016, they’ll actually get invited to the debates unlike this year’s lockout. Even if you don’t agree with the 3rd parties, vote for one against the major parties since you don’t like them either. Right now, the current goal is for one of both of the biggest 3rd Parties, Libertarian and Green, to get 5% of the popular vote. At 5%, a party qualifies for public money in the next election. And if you ignore all the pitfalls of campaign finance, qualifying for public funding is a major step is being accepted as legitimate, or being actually seen by more people, of getting on more ballots, of getting media attention, of changing the way our system works (or doesn’t work). A vote for a 3rd Party isn’t a wasted vote.

No matter how you decide to cast it, vote.

It’s your right. Exercise it.

Game Night the First

Game NightThe wife desired a specific sort of birthday celebration this year. She wanted to have a game night. We counted up all the board games we had access to, decided on food and sent out the invites (a month in advance).

Two guests, eager to get out of the house, arrived early. We chatted and played a round of Zombie Dice. After the wife won, we sifted through a few other games trying to pick one to play but more people began to arrive. There was food and drinking, and much conversation.

Eventually, most of the group (about 16 people showed for the night) settled around the big table to play Apples to Apples. We’ve played this game at many gatherings and it is definitely popular. A few (including me) stayed in the kitchen to eat food and talk of other games (video games and tabletop RPGs). With over 10 people playing, you only play to 4 points, but it can take a long while to get there. Eventually a winner emerged and a break was taken.

A couple of people left, and we settled in to a 3 teams of 4 game of Logo. I think the game contributed, but also the mix of people lead to much mirth and merriment, with a heavy helping of sarcasm and snark. It also helped that we tried to split up couples onto opposing teams (though one managed to sneak through) and engendered a healthy level of friendly competition. Team 3 ended up winning after spending much of the game in last place, but then the game is specifically designed to allow for teams to catch up and take the lead if they can just manage a few right answers. I think Logo might make repeat appearances.

By then it was getting late and people with baby sitters, those with curfews, and the elderly (joking!) had to leave. We quickly did the birthday cake and said goodbye to those who were leaving. The night whittled down to just six people and we adjourned to the media room for a round of shots and a game of Scene It! on the 360.

We called it a night sometime between 1:30 AM and 2:30 AM, and then the wife and I cleaned up the things that couldn’t wait (food) and retired to slumber. One lesson was learned: order less food, the two of us will be eating Mexican leftovers for a month. Another lesson learned: take photos.

All in all, the night was a huge success. I look forward to hosting another game night in the future.

A Week of Tweets on 2010-12-05

  • Anyone else playing Perpetuum? #
  • "Cheer up, Ed. This is not goodbye. It's just I won't ever see you again." #
  • If your browser has more than one 3rd party toolbar installed and no good reason for it, I officially ban you from the Internet. Good day. #
  • Started this year's Christmas short story last night. I'll tease you with the first line: "The Christmas tree finished eating Henry Wright." #
  • Homemade chicken pot pie. Delicious! Thank you, wife. #
  • The best part about the end of NaNoWriMo is that I can get back to reading. #
  • Still disabling Lexulous emails on Facebook daily, still getting the emails. One of you needs to admit fault and fit it. Stop buck passing. #
  • What is the point of a WYSIWYG tool if the tool applies not default styles by default? #
  • You are expecting an email and it doesn't come. Why do you suspect it was never sent BEFORE checking your spam/junk folder? #stupidpeople #
  • Damn you browsers! Why can't you all use the exact same standards?! #
  • @comcast Why are the prices on your website so different from what the people on the phone say? One of them is lying… #
  • Seriously? $82 a month for Internet Access, Comcast? Seriously? #iwishihadanalternative #nocompetitionblows #
  • Find a way, watch all 13 episodes of Terriers, then send an email to in support of a second season. #terriers #fx #
  • On Error Resume Next #

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Dragon*Con 2009: Day Three

Day three of Dragon*Con is usually when the cracks begin to show.  Its that second (or third) night of little to no sleep that leaves your feet shuffling a little more than walking, the enthusiasm is there but the expression of it has waned… and this is how I entered my first panel of the morning, “Oops!” – an apocalyptic track panel about things you need to know about surviving catastrophe.  I’ve gone to this panel every year that they’ve had it.  Its fun to listen to people who’ve done more research than you tell you stuff like “We all like to make fun of SPAM, but seriously, Hormel canned meats are something you need, and with the right dry spices and preparation it can be tasty… well, as tasty as SPAM gets.” and “Buying bottled water is good, but you have to rotate your stock because it will go bad.” and watching people furiously taking notes and the looks on their faces as the wisdom of these little nuggets sink in.  And for those that don’t go, here is the short version: In the case of any disaster, you are on your own for 72 hours, so you should always have food, water and supplies to last at least that long, if not longer.  Oh, and make sure your disaster recovery plans don’t rely on the things that will likely be lost in a disaster, like electricity.

Then there was a Champions Online panel… no developers, just fans talking about the beta and playing the game.  The kind of panel you just don’t get at other conventions.  I followed this with the “What’s wrong with WoW?” panel… the short version: Everything.  The long answer is that WoW does many things right, from a certain perspective, and if you are an MMO veteran who isn’t looking for the RPG version of whack-a-mole then WoW really isn’t for you.  The real long answer is… well… a series of posts that I might do later.

With no interesting panels for a couple hours, I took a lunch break and visited the dealers’ room.  Much like the Art Show and the Exhibiter Halls, I’ve been here before, a lot, and it is pretty much the same things every year.  But I made my way through the “5 for $25” shelves of graphic novels and didn’t find any I couldn’t live without.  Though, he did have a complete set of the huge leather bound looking Absolute Sandman series.  I wish I had that kind of cash to blow.

Back at the MMO track I settled in for an afternoon of SOE.  First, Free Realms… really, if you haven’t at least tried this game, I don’t know what to say.  It is free, it streams the client so you create an account, create a character and log in, the game downloads as needed and it does it very well.  Sure, its largely a collection of mini-games, but its fun.  I think it is anyway.  Second, The Agency.  The more I learn about this one, the more I like it.  It looks like an MMO version of the old Top Secret RPG.  You are an agent, you get skills, you do missions, you have other agents who help you out, you shoot stuff, you sneak in places, espionage…  it just looks cool.  Third, DC Universe Online.  You know, I really wanted to love City of Heroes, it had lots to like but in the end was too grindy.  When I saw Champions Online, I was excited, but from what I’ve read by the people who are playing, especially about how the graphics didn’t turn out to be the cell shaded awesomeness the screenshots originally portrayed, I’m not buying in yet and am waiting to here some ringing endorsements.  But from what I saw and learned about DCUO today, I’m really interested.  The physics of the game are just incredible.  As the example they used goes, you can freeze one bad guy in a block of ice, then pick him up and beat other bad guys with him.  That sounds like a comic book.

A smiled my way back to the Marriott then and attended a panel about upcoming post-apocalyptic movies and TV shows… not really a whole lot I didn’t know already, so nothing really exciting to report.  Book of Eli, Zombieland, The Road, V, Day One, Daybreakers… lots of things coming up I want to watch.

As the final night of Dragon*Con, it is also the final night of parties.  The Pirate Party is always a popular choice, though I imagine that many men choose it because of all the cleavage that comes with women dressing like pirates and wenches.  The highlight of this particular pirate party was watching one pirate make many frontal assaults upon the virtue on one wench, which she repeatedly rebuffed.  We also managed to catch the end of the Mad Scientists Ball where they had Tesla coils arcing toward a box within which they allowed ladies to dance.  Genius.  I didn’t make it to the SOE Party for the MMO track, and I wish I had… hopefully they will be back next year and do it again.

To wrap up the night, I spent it people watching in the Marriott.  Really, watching the other people, seeing the costumes that people create, is one of the best parts of the con.  It is so very inspiring.

Good night Dragon*Con, just one more day is left with you, but tonight was the last night.  Until next year…

Left 4 Dead

I am a little late to the party.  Left 4 Dead released back on November 17th, 2008, and I remember, months before, vowing that I would buy it on that day.  Considering that that day marked one full month of being unemployed, I didn’t buy it.  Most people I know who own Xbox 360’s did, and I got to listen to a lot of talk about how cool the game was.

The Tuesday before Christmas, a friend of mine gifted me with Left 4 Dead.

Quite simply, this is probably the most fun game I own for the 360.  Playing alone is often tense and thrilling.  Playing with others is frantic and heart pounding.

I think one of the most innovative parts of this game is the scenario design.  Rather than try to build one whole coherent story encompassing the entire disc, each scenario, of which there are 4 included with the game, is a separate story of its own.  In the first scenario, your group of survivors start on a roof top and you can see the hospital in the distance… so your plan is to cross the city to the hospital, which has a helipad, and call for help.  The second scenario you start out on a road heading to one town you think might be safe, and since it sits on the water you might be able to find a boat and escape.  Scenario three, your band of intrepid zombie fighters are making for the airport, looking for a plane ride out of here.  And in scenario four, you are just trying to get the hell out, but wind up at a farm house with a radio that allows you to call in the Army to your location for a rescue.  Every level of every scenario has multiple paths to the end, and playing through is an organic experience.  While in many games repeating a level gets easier unless you force up the difficulty level, with random spawns and some randomization on supplies and the dynamic AI (The Director), even playing through the same level on the easiest level of difficulty is fun time and time again.

The reason I think this scenario design is so innovative is that is sets a precedent, it manages expectations, so that in the future Valve can release new scenarios, and it doesn’t need to be a continuation of the story, or just a pack of multi-player maps, but they can drop a new mini story of a handful of levels, creating another separate game experience, without changing any of the existing game but also not feeling it is outside of the existing game.

I look forward to the downloaded content for this game.

A Party of One

Of late I have been fooling around in Guild Wars. I’ve long been interested in the game because of its “no monthly fee” design, and because of a little idea called “henchmen”.

All throughout my table top gaming days, whenever we needed a class, skill, or knowledge that the player characters did not possess, we would head on down to the local bars, adventurer guilds, docks or slave markets to find what we needed. So when getting into MMOs, at first, the idea that I needed to group with other people for everything was strange. Standing around waiting to find a healer because we needed one seemed like a waste of time. I eventually got over it and made friends and tried to make sure I always had a group. But increasingly over the last half dozen or so years, perhaps because I’m turning into the grouchy old man yelling at the kids to stay off his lawn, I’m just not as inclined as I used to be to put up with the Internet toddlers who like to “pwn” and “lol” and “zorz” their way through conversations. So, playing World of Warcraft, City of Heroes and Villains, Lord of the Rings Online, I would group with the people I already knew and maybe the occasional non-infantile gamer I ran across. But more often than not, I would solo.

I’m still soloing in Guild Wars (my wife injured her hand and hasn’t been much for gaming this month), but when I’m about to leave town and hit the quests, I’ll snag myself a couple or three henchmen. Just as in my table top games, these people aren’t the brightest bulbs in the pack. I play a mage, and so I’ll load up with a fighter, a ranger and a healer, and they do exactly as their class suggests. The fighter charges in and fights, the ranger stands back and shoots, and the healer heals. In fact, that’s all they do. The fighter will stand and fight until he dies, he doesn’t run. The ranger shoots, at any range. And the healer heals, if a monster hits her, she runs around like a chicken with its head cut off until the threat is over. I’ve heard there are better henchmen, but I’m only level 7 and my henchmen are level 3, plus I only own the original Prophesies game, none of the expansions, so either I haven’t gotten to the better ones yet, or I am incapable of getting to them.

Overall though, I’m liking the whole henchmen system. They don’t replace good players, but they sure beat crappy players. I would love to see something like this implemented in other games. Imagine City of Heroes with “henchmen” style sidekicks, allowing you to change up the game a little while still playing alone if you wanted.

I’d love to hear other people’s opinions and experiences. What do you think about NPC pets and henchmen in games?

So This Is Christmas. . .

… and what have you done?

When I was a child, Christmas was just like this ultra fun super party time of year. School let out, the holiday TV specials would crank up, and the excitement would just build and build until Christmas Eve causing me to have a rough time getting to sleep, and then Christmas morning the bubble would burst and it was just awesome. Of course, these days I’m not in school and work doesn’t really “let out”, although one day I vow to run my own company that closes up shop before Thanksgiving and returns after New Year’s. Also, very few shows do a Christmas episode, and with all the money grubbing companies exercising their rights on their properties, most Christmas movies and specials only air once (I’ve written before about my disappointment that “It’s a Wonderful Life” only airs once a season now, instead of eleventy-billion times like when I was growing up). And with political retardedness… I mean, correctness at an all-time high, its getting to be where “Christmas” is a bad word and everyone is wishing everyone else a non-descript “Holiday” for fear of offending someone. What ever happened to wishing someone what YOU celebrate and if they celebrate something else they wish that back to you? Why must I change my well wishing based on the target?

Lastly, Christmas morning just isn’t the same old Christmas morning anymore… First of all, my family doesn’t all live under the same roof anymore, which is to be expected as people grow up, but we don’t even take vacation and move in together for a few days like in the movies. Second, since Jodi works Christmas day (5 am to 11 am) we won’t be congregating at the house until around 1 pm… Christmas Afternoon just doesn’t have the magic that Christmas Morning does. Third, well, everything is a little less special this time of year without my mom.

But I think what really does it for me, what really does in the Christmas spirit, is that Christmas morning means that the year is drawing to a close, and I start thinking about all the things I meant to do, wanted to do, and didn’t do throughout the year… So, in an attempt to get out of that funk, I’m going to list all the crap that I DID do this year, and how cool it is.

1. This year, for the first time since 2000, I worked full time the entire year, and therefore my salary will actually be “roughly my hourly rate times 2000” like I always pretend it is.

2. Thanks in part to working full time all year, and a bit of decent money management, I’ve gotten my monsterous pile of debt under control and by this time next year I might even be saying that my debt is all gone.

3. I went to a writer’s workshop and learned definatively that I am not alone. Struggling writers are everywhere. I feel better about it, and as a result I’ve actually written more.

4. I started reading books for fun again. Switching to public transportation this year has been the best kick in the pants for my flagging reading habit, and I’ve read fifty books… that is more than one a week (didn’t start until about April), and that is awesome.

I’m sure there is alot more stuff, but that’s enough for me as I’m already in a much happier mood. So, in closing I’d just like to say…

Merry Christmas!

Out with the Old…

Its December 31st, 2001. In a few short hours we will be officially 1 year into the 21st Century. (There was no year 0, quit arguing, 2000 was important but the century began 1/1/2001)

2002.. its a mirror year (meaning you split it down the middle and it has the same numbers on both sides), the last one was 1991, and there won’t be another until 2112, and since I plan on being 137 years old at that time, I may or may not see it (come on immortallity!!).

Its New Year’s. Time to wipe the slate clean. Forgive and forget. Acknowledge and move on.

And party.

See you tomorrow folks.

29 September 1998

Wow… only 6 days this time, instead of 2 months between updates. The sad thing is that not much has happened.
“I went to a party last Saturday night, didn’t get laid, got in a fight, uh-huh, it ain’t no big thing…”
Well, enough Lita Ford lyrics… I did go to a party, I didn’t get laid, but I also didn’t get in a fight… not on Saturday anyway.
In recent months (within the last year) I have lost a few of my best friends… no, they didn’t die… things just changed.
With one it was that I was tired of seeing him complain about his life going nowhere and yet always passing up opportunities when they presented themselves. He wasn’t sure what he wanted and was making no effort to find out. And as I said, I just got tired of being around it, and as his roommate, I was always around it. We parted ways when our third roommate decided to marry some guy she had met on spring break and move to Maryland and we terminated the lease early. I’ve seen him a few times since then, but only in passing really, not as friends.
With the other, it was odd. He blew up at me one day, said some things he probably shouldn’t have, and that was that. I realized in that instance something I had wanted to ignore, we weren’t friends anymore. This started about the same time I got fed up with the other guy mentioned above, and I decided that I wasn’t using my life to its fullest because I let other people have their way too often, I rarely stood up for what I wanted and went with the crowd, or in most cases, this guy. And when I took more control of my life, there started to be a friction between us, because I wasn’t just simply letting him have his way as I had done in the past. Then, for some reason he started doing something (or maybe I just noticed it then), in our IRC chat room he would act totally differently than he did face-to-face. Sitting across a table, we would discuss things, agree, disagree, in a civil manner, but in the chat room, he would always take a side opposite me, whether he believed in it or not, and argue to the death, even when I was right. Then the rug got pulled out from under him in his life, and somehow all that ended up on me, wrong time, wrong place situation I guess. He blew up. Called me a Nazi among other things, and that was that.
Losing friends is something I have never enjoyed. Whenever I moved when my father got transferred I always lost friends, and it always hurt. Somehow though, this is different. It’s not that I want to see them go, they were friends, good friends, close friends, best friends, but somehow my life seems brighter that we have parted ways.
Life is full of doors, in doors and out doors, and people coming and going, and sometimes we invite a friend to stay a while longer when they start to go, and sometimes it’s for the best, and sometimes it’s a better choice to let them go, for them, and for yourself. I’ve let them go, I wish them the best, and I hope they do me the same. Perhaps, somewhere down the road, our paths will cross again… perhaps.
Anyway… I think the time has come… the time has finally arrived… to jump and dance and feel alive!
Theater Review: Saw nothing this weekend. It happens. Get over it.
Today’s Song: Shimmer by Fuel. The song just rocks. (period)
Today’s Movie: I watched Falling Down last night and I remembered back when that movie came out. Everyone I knew saw the commercials where is made Michael Douglas look like the everyman, the hero, raging against the wrongs of the world in his little walk through downtown. And I warned them, I garanteed them that the movie wasn’t going to be that simple. When we left the theater, most of the crowd was a little down. They didn’t like the way it ended, with Mike becoming the bad guy, an man pushed over the edge by life. I loved it. But then… I’m like that sometimes.