Mood { Raging Against the Machines

Computers suck...verily.


Musings { On the Eve of Thanksgiving I pause

...to remember what I have to be thankful for.

Nerdwife, my wife, for 7+ great years of marriage, we are above average now dear.

My friends, some of whom I've now known for over half of my life. Your support, friendship, both then and now remain a beacon through my ups and downs.

My life. While not without its ups and downs, I am thankful to have it.

My job. Though I grumble and complain, I am thankful to be employed and to have the co-workers I have and the management I have.

This blog. I didn't know what I was going for when I started this but I am pleased with how it is going and where it is going.


Tech/Musings { When technology attacks

I am sad today. My beloved 21" SONY Trinitron is starting to show its age. This monitor was a birthday gift from Nerdwife many years ago (at least 5). It has had a long and distinguished service and has been my window into the virtual, allowing me to save the world, the galaxy, the universe (...as well as control them...) on countless occasions and through countless epic campaigns. But its machine spirit is starting to tire. It seems when it gets warm now the screen images get very very fuzzy. At first I thought the fan blew out on my Radeon, but the fuzziness remains even when the computer is off (when running the video test). I turned it off last night and went to bed. This morning it appears to be much healthier, the images are sharp, but the screen brightness is getting brighter no matter how much I turn it down and correct gamma. I have looked into a new monitor and have found a 22" Gateway TFT-LCD that I feel will suit my needs (ultra-high resolution and low latency <5ms) so it should suit me and my gaming habits as well as the fact it is energy star and uses less energy than my monitor (which is also energy star).

But this brings me to my next feeling, shame. Electronics are such wastes. They consume a lot of resources to make, they consume a lot of energy to use (especially older ones), and they can't be 'fixed' like things used to be fixed. You ship them off somewhere or to someone and they replace a board, often at the cost of what a new widget would cost. That is if you can find someone. The art of TV and monitor repair is disappearing. I use my gear well past its expected life of 3 years. I can often get 5-9 depending upon the piece of equipment. Video cards I get about 3-4, monitors 5-9, disk drives about 5, mobos about 4-5, CDROM/DVD drives, I used to be able to get 4+, but the last few have only lasted 1-3. OSes I tend to get about 5-7 years out of, I ran Win98 until 2003. I am still running Win2000 on another computer. WinXP has been treating me well and I will keep it around until someone can prove Vista is a better gaming platform, which I doubt it will be.

I don't know where I was going with this, upon re-reading apparently no where, but just felt like posting something random.


Casual Friday { "Less Talk More Rokk"

Guitar Hero II, the song "Less Talk More Rokk" which I unlocked last night on my medium setting GH2. Awesome freaking song, Freezepop has joined Ladytron as my new crack lately. I can do ok with song on 'medium' and I tried on 'hard' and ran like a little screaming schoolgirl.

This guy makes it look easy on 'expert'.

Weather { Ragnarok

Avindair on his blog has described MN winters as Ragnarok and I agree with him (well I guess it will more be like Fimbulwinter). We aren't even officially in winter yet either. Here in Roch we haven't seen any glimmer of daylight other than a gray overcast for almost a week. Granted the sun may have peeked its head out, but since I work in a place without windows I missed it. Its been strange, the nights have been clear with the stars showing. It keeps feeling like snow or rain, yet none have fallen.


Musings { This Week's Horoscope

From Free Will Astrology:

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): The Delaware Gap National Recreation Area in Pennsylvania has an outhouse that cost $333,000 to build. It's a two-hole beauty with a roof constructed from slate mined in Vermont, porch railings built out of Indiana limestone, and an indestructible cobblestone foundation. This is your symbol of power for the coming week, Virgo. May it inspire you to devote elegant, sumptuous attention to one of your most basic needs.

Hmmm, I need to build a solid foundation upon which to shit upon the world?


Video { Manifestoon

Musings/Poem { Without People

Without people what is a government? Nothing.
Without people what is a society? Nothing.
Without people what is a factory? Capitalism.


Musings { Fear and Loathing in Azeroth.

I have World of Warcraft. It was my rewards for finishing the basement and making it liveable. The game is very impressive. I've been playing for two weeks. I've played quite a bit, but nothing matching the time I used to spend on Planetside or Tribes 2. I play in the faction called 'Horde' and I am an Undead Rogue. I made level 26. Leveling is both a good thing and a bad thing. For example, I find it frustrating that I can't fish anywhere. But also it ensures that I won't be insta-killed by monsters if I stay within 'safer' areas close to my level. WoW as it is called is immense. Players choose from Alliance vs Horde factions and within each faction they have a choice of various races. Once you have a race, a variety of classes are possible from fights to magic-users. After you choose a classes you choose up to two primary professions. These are things like engineering, blacksmithing, enchanting, alchemy, skinning, mining, herbalism and are how you primarily make money in the game. As a rogue I thought it would make sense to be an Alchemy/Herbalist as I can gather reagents and make potions to help me with 'soloing' which is where you journey through the world and quests alone. This works for most quests and areas, but the game has content definitely geared towards group play, some 'mobs' a strange MMO term for 'mobile monster' will take more than one player to defeat. Groups of people can form a Guild which is a clanlike/tribal-like collection of players. Guilds have heirarchies and personalities of themselves. On the server I play most of the Horde guilds are devoted to helping others, which is great, since Alliance outnumber Horde almost 3to1 in WoW. I have chosen to not join a Guild, as I am still new to the game and Guilds can bring with them certain dramas and headaches that I do not want to deal with. So I've been soloing and joining 'pick up groups' with other players who are trying to complete the same quests as me. One of the strangest things I've met is the generosity of complete strangers in the game. Passing Priests and Mages will randomly 'buff' you (give you bonuses). In the groups I have been in, many of the other players are working on their sixth alternate and are willing to give you stuff they have in extra, or make you gear just to practice their skills. This struck me off guard as I am used to a world that works in which nothing is free. In cases where people have made me gear, I have at least tried to reimburse them. Some accept the donations or contributions of materials, others just smile and say 'no need.' It has left me conflicted. But it has also setup a kind of 'pass it forward' type of mentality. I now when passing through lower level areas often stop to help and chat with newer players and when I have the gear gifted them things I can't use (I gave a warrior a decent axe for a starting level because as a rogue, axes are not my primary weapons). This helped this player immensely and we started talking. He was an interesting person from Quebec and couldn't speak english well (and my french is non-existent), but none the less we had a great chat and I can now say I have a new friend and met an interesting person.

This can also lead to certain complications. Yesterday I joined another person in completing quests. This person was very nice and very helpful. A little odd, but we all are. We completed many quests and as she was a more experienced player I asked many questions about the game (and learned a few things like I can learn to use other weapons, I just need to find a weapons master). I gave her some materials and she crafted me a gun (a nice one) and both she and her husband helped me through ShadowFang Keep, a very very hard Dungeon and impossible to do alone. We 'power levelled' through it, meaning her husband ran her level 60 character as a meatshield/tank and we followed getting stragglers and looting. I picked up some nice gear (we both did). It felt wrong, but I had spent two days and had been unable to find anyone else interested in doing the Dungeon, so I was grateful for the chance. We talked for a while, and while I did not disclose much about myself (I prefer to be a little secretive, especially online and around people I have never met in person), but with her it was like a flood gate opened. I started feeling uncomfortable. I found out a lot about her, her kids, her husband, where she lives. I tried to get away, but the game has a nice feature where you can add people to a friends list and they can find you in the game. I can set an ignore flag, but honestly that is rude, and she has helped me, and I am just not a mean person by nature.

I won't be back in the game for a few days as I have many things to do, busy with work and I need to do a few chores around the house. I hope when I go back, she will have moved on. Her and her husband, as well as their Guild members have been pleasant helpful folk, she was just a little too flirtatious and self-disclosing for my taste. I should say something next time.

I have learned this since playing MMOs for many years. People are people in reality virtual or not. But the anonymity of the virtual world can make crossing certain lines easier. You need to be careful.

PS Gifting in WoW is tricky and make sure before you wear something you really want it or want to accept it. Once an item has been worn (or in some cases picked up) it becomes 'soulbound' and is now only usable by you. This makes it so you cannot return things. I think from now on I will not accept gifts unless I can recompensate the other player with either material components or a reasonable cash value (WoW's well developed economy uses gold, silver, and copper pieces). But also know their gifts were appreciated as it helped a newbie out a lot.


Politics { My thoughts

I feel I can relax a little today. Democrats should take a taste of the sweet nectar of victory, and then get over it. Their work is just beginning and I can tell you the deck is stacked against them. They have to fight the grid-lock and make all the tough decisions that the GOP has refused to make the last six years and it will make them unpopular. But for the health and stability of this country those decisions must be made. The abuses of the executive branch must be investigated. The ineptness of the handling of Iraq must be investigated. The rampant corruption that has taken Washington must be investigated. The erosion of our civil liberties must be addressed.

Closer to home, the democrats swept Rochester, Walz for US House, Ann Lynch for State Sentae, Tina Liebling for State House, all this pleases me. Klobuchar for Senate, 58-39, not a small margin. I was happy to see Kiffmeyer removed form Secretary of State. I was happy to see Keith Ellison elected, a first for Minnesota. Hatch lost, but as I've said before here, I didn't think he was right for Governor, I would have taken him over Pawlenty, but I still think the DFL made a mistake, and I am now very sorry I compromised my conscious for him. It was a hard and tough decision for me. Bachman, was elected, so not all is great. I still feel she is a bit too much of a evangelical religious zealot for my taste and I think she can actually be worse than Kennedy was for MN. But she is up for re-election in 2008 along with everyone else, so we will see. With the GOP power reduced in the House, we indeed live in interesting times.

A theme that has emerged, and it is nothing new, is that Americans are sick of the negative attack ads. Well duh, but they keep falling for them and believing them. If they didn't we wouldn't see them anymore. But the Roveian tactics of negativity, fear, and hatred is starting to lose its effect on people. People can only be so scared for so long. They can only hate for so long, before exhaustion sets in. This year was a turning point in ways. Even though the gay marriage and abortion issues we tapped, slapped and flogged and paraded around to 're-energize' the base, they took less precedence this year as they did in 2004. People were more worried about the corruption, the war, the economy. Things they should worry about.

A lot has to happen now. And while I still don't feel 100% comfortable with the state of things, for the first time in six years I was able to relax, even if just a little.


Politics { 2006 Minnesota Election

In Minnesota:

Klobuchar takes the Senate.

Keith Ellison wins in the 5th. Tim Walz is looking strong in the 1st. Okay so far.

Michelle Bachmann in the 6th. I need a drink.

Pawlenty and Hatch are within a breath of each other. Pawlenty will probably pull ahead for a bit. Hopefully Hatch will pick up some late wind from the Iron Range.

Bye-bye Mary Kiffmeyer. Don't let the door hit you on the ass on the way out. No need to show Mark Ritchie how to do the job, since he's already pretty much been doing your job for you.

Rebecca Otto gets Auditor. Lori Swanson takes the AG slot.


Dems pick up the House. Senate is iffy at best. No surprises there. Hello Speaker Pelosi.

Holy Joe beats Ned.

Looks like the Virginia senate race is so close that we might have recounts into next week.

Not hopeful for the Dems in that nasty nasty Tennessee senate race.

Dems pick up some Governorships.

The anti-abortion amendment in SoDak looks like a no-go.

Voters in a number of states don't seem to be down with letting Gay people have the same rights as straight people.

More tomorrow.

UPDATE 00:03

Looks like that is gonna be Congressman Walz! Bye Gil! Go Rochester Democrats!

UPDATE 01:15

Control down to two Senate races, Webb in Virginia and Tester in Montana. If both win, the Dems own the Senate too. If either one loses, the GOP retains control.

92% Precincts reporting and it is still within a percent for the MN Gov race.

UPDATE 01:40

Looks like Webb won. Control of the U.S. Senate all comes down to Montana.

UPDATE 01:46

By my math, Hatch would need to maintain about 65% of the late counted votes (Iron Range, etc.) to beat Pawlenty. I'm not optimistic.

UPDATE 01:48

KSTP is calling it for Pawlenty. WCCO too. And KMSP. And KARE.

UPDATE 01:55

StarTribune calls it for Pawlenty too.


Bleary eyed and going to sleep. CNN has Tester up by 2% with 76% of precincts in for the Montana senate race. If Webb's victory in Virginia survives the inevitable recount and electoral shenanigans, the Dems might have the US Senate too.

It was a sound victory in the House, a not so sound victory in the senate, and overall a pretty good night for Democrats nationwide.

But I'm not happy.

It wasn't a complete victory. I wanted a thorough overtake of the Senate by the Dems. Thorough as in 'the impeachment of the entire Bush administration will begin immediately, and we aren't going to have any nonsense about it, oi'

Sorry, that was incoherent.

Also, much of the results just reinforce my feeling that our electoral system, with its winner take all single candidate vote crap is just stupid. I should be able to put my full weight behind the Green party or really progressive folks, without it potentially giving the vote away to the candidate I want least. A prefferential balloting system would be a better, more democratic idea.

Also, the US Senate is, in the words of someone I spoke with yesterday, "The House of Lords...a complete joke". I love Vermont, but Vermont has two Senators and a population of less than San Fransisco, and California is stuck with the same two senators. Representation should be based on number of citizens, not arbitrary lines on a map. I'm not interested in your terrain getting a Senator.

America's statewide constitutional amendments and referrenda choices tell me that most people still don't get it. Stop moralizing and start worrying about things that matter, such as: our economy is a joke, our democracy is being eroded, our civil rights are being crushed, we're destroying the ecosystem, we're out of cheap, reliable fossil fuel energy, our infrastructure is a crumbling mess, our people are uneducated bumpkins, and we're putting war-mongering FUD spreading religious nutjob chickenhawks in control of policy.

I'm hopeful that things are better than they were yesterday, but we still have a long, long path ahead of us.


Politics { 2006 Minnesota General Election - Tuesday November 07

Here are my final endorsements for the election on Tuesday. These are just my opinion and do not reflect on the other contributors to the Cubezoo blog.

Governor/Lt. Gov: Mike Hatch/Judi Dutcher (were it not so close a race, I'd probably be voting for Ken Pentel instead, but I'd prefer it if Pawlenty were gone)

U.S. Senate: Amy Klobuchar

5th Congressional District: Jay Pond (sorry, Keith, I just can't give you my vote. Ellison will win in any case.)

State Auditor: Rebecca Otto

Secretary of State: Mark Ritchie

Attorney General: Lori Swanson