Thursday, August 31, 2006

And So It Goes... Again...

I thought things were going better at work. They were. Hopefully they will be again.

Note quite sure what's wrong with me. Hopefully I can figure that out some day.

I think I had an epiphany this morning, as I drove to work from the doctor's office. I think I've had many, many epiphanies during my lifetime – I just haven't acted on any of them.

I'm tired but I shouldn't be. I've been getting decent amounts of sleep, 6+ hours a night – which should be enough. But I'm often tired and, at least I consider it to be, for no good reason.

Been playing WoW, of course. Got a loan from a guildmate so my Warlock is 2 dungeon trips from getting her level 60 mount. Hopefully I can get that finished by the end of the 3-day weekend. Then I can seriously start paying back my loan shark.

Also, last week my Warlock got her 7th piece of Nemesis (Tier 2), her robes. She's now only missing the Nemesis gloves. It would be excellent to hit 8/8 Nemesis – the 8/8 bonus is 20% less threat from Destruction spells (Shadowbolt, Immolate, Searing Pain, Rain of Fire, Hellfire). That would be insanely helpful. The robes were a good semi-milestone for her, though.

My Paladin is getting into MC a bit. He's at 6/8 Lawbringer (Tier 1). My goal with him is to get 8/8 Lawbringer. Not necessarily because it's the best for healing, but because it's as good a goal as any for him at this point. Besides, the 8/8 Lawbringer bonus is kind of nice – a chance to heal your party on a successful melee hit.

Info about The Burning Crusade (TBC, WoW Expansion due out later this year – hopefully) talent trees came out this week. I hope the Warlock ones stick and that the Fel Guard (new 41 pt. Demonology talent) rocks the house. He's got to be impressive to be worthy of a 41 pt. talent. Least I hope he is. I'm a big fan of Demonology (MD/Ruin right now, that is, 30 Demonology & 21 Destruction) and I plan on the same in the Expansion. Will probably end up with something like 7/41/13 or such. In any case, with the current talent trees and new spells, Warlocks are going to kick ass and take names in TBC. Bow down to your lords and masters. We control the horizontal and the vertical. We control all that you will see and hear. (Shamelessly taken/parodied from the Outer Limits intro.)

My WoW playing and Titan Quest (TQ) playing are inversely proportional. More WoW, less TQ. I like TQ a lot, though, and some day I will finish it. I'm currently approaching the end of Act 3 (out of 4 Acts) on normal difficulty. There are 2 more difficulty settings afterwards, each having higher-level enemies. It's interesting, I think. The way the game is designed, I'm not sure how spell-based classes can scale with harder difficulties. My char is a pure-melee type – I took the offensive and defensive melee trees. My guy can easily scale by using better weapons and armor to increase damage and defense. How can spell casters scale if their spells are limited to 10 ranks (for example) without additional ones for higher difficulties? Then again, I probably won't get a spell caster to the additional difficulty settings to try it. We'll see.

I've got a nice 3-day weekend coming up. Chances are mom will try to get me to clean things up in the playroom. Chances are I will do *some* cleaning just to appease and/or mollify her. I'll likely do quite a bit of WoW-playing. Working on slowly levelling up a Warrior, trying to use the rested exp bonus as much as possible. I'll probably slowly level a Dranei Shaman come TBC, haven't decided on a spec yet. Need to learn more about Shaman. Will probably be very slow levelling since I first have to hit 70 with my 'lock and then my Paladin, in that order. May even take a few days off in there to do so. Have to do it fast with my 'lock – she'll be wanting to continue raiding with my guild asap.

Onwards! In the immortal words of Illegal Danish: Arcanite Reaper, Hooooo!!!

Friday, August 25, 2006

My Other Self is an Ass-Kicking Female

I found this article over at TerraNova: My Other Self is an Ass-kicking Supermodel. The article is about gender and race choices when choosing/creating an avatar. The author states:
And how it disturbs us a bit that we care all that much, closet-inhabiting fashionistas though we might be.
But I’m gonna confess. I do care. An unattractive avatar is so disruptive to my gameplay that I will stop playing if I can’t do something about it...
But I have this problem. I can't make myself play male characters, especially if they are ugly.
So why do I exclusively play female characters? And why do they have to be attractive? It's really a question that perplexes me.
I posted a comment (amidst many others). In that comment I listed my past gender/racial choices for MMORPGs I've played. In a rather interesting trend, almost all of my main characters (5 out of 6, I think) have been humanoid females. I'm not entirely sure why, and I'm not going to resort to the usual "because I like looking at a female backside more," but I think a good start can be found in a comment of Richard Bartle's to the same thread – "Because I can."

(Grrr... Stupid Blogger being stupidly difficult...)

Who Wants To Be A Superhero? (UPDATE)

Due to a bad internet connection (I believe the fault lies with my computer and not with my ISP), I couldn't raid with my guild in WoW last night. This left me watch TV until bedtime. More specifically, this left me watching Who Wants To Be A Superhero? on the Sci Fi Channel.

I've been following this show since it first came out. Superheroes? Stan Lee? A reality show? Oh yeah, that's right up my alley. I've seen every episode so far except for the first half of one episode (the part where Creature was eliminated). Anyways, the premise is that 11 superheroes (i.e. normal, every day people dressed up in costume and having a superhero persona) compete in a reality show overseen by Stan "The Man" Lee, creator of many famous superheroes including The Fantastic Four, The Hulk, Spiderman and The X-Men. They are eliminated one at a time with the winner being immortalized in a Dark Horse comic book and a Sci Fi Channel movie.

Last night's episode had the three remaining superheroes, Major Victory, Fat Momma and Feedback, competing. I have to say, my favourite superhero, and hope/pick for the winner, is Major Victory. Unlike the others, he has a very strong personality and a good amount of charisma. Granted he is a former stripper, rather glib at times and seems to make a joke of most things, but he certainly acts and thinks like a superhero. He's also terribly funny and insanely amusing. Feedback is good but has no personality and absolutely idolizes Stan Lee. Not to say such idolatry is necessarily bad or misplaced, but that it's a bit.. off-color for the show. Everyone of the contestants idolizes Stan Lee to some extent but to regard him as a father figure? Even Stan Lee didn't know how to respond to that. And as for Fat Momma, well, I like her message (be yourself, don't mind others) but I dislike her attitude. She was very lackadaisical on the last challenge and she doesn't really want to win all that much. I like that she's an atypical superhero but she's still lacking some key superhero aspects (i.e. determination and direction).

So last night one of them was eliminated. Unfortunately, it was my pick, Major Victory. Feedback had done nothing wrong. Fat Momma had won over the kids but failed (horribly failed, that is) the hunting challenge (using clues to track down the supervillain). Major Victory was eliminated for being too funny. Stan Lee said that at times he was a parody of a superhero.

I disagree with this elimination. Although maybe a little too humorous or glib at times, Major Victory is a superhero to the bone. He acts the part, looks the part and his humor serves as an excellent foil for his actions. Major Victory has a strong personality and shouldn't have been penalized for it, not at all. I think Stan Lee made a mistake. My vote for elimination would have been Fat Momma. No matter how popular she is with the kids, she failed to take the tracking challenge seriously.. at all. And no superhero would ever pause in tracking down a supervillain to have a snack or get a free massage. C'mon!

Regardless, the ending of the show was very touching as Major Victory spoke over the phone with his estranged daughter. That even had Stan Lee tearing up.

So next week it's Fat Momma vs. Feedback. Even though he wasn't my top pick, I'm rooting for Feedback. He clearly wants this more than anyone else. The question will be whether Stan Lee thinks he deserves it more too.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Friday, August 18, 2006

Lowering Monkeys Gravity

I love this site. Earlier this week there was a post about airline regulations concerning the handling of monkeys (there actually are such regulations) and today there's a post about a NJ Appeals Court holding that there is no duty to warn about gravity.

Simply wonderful.

I strongly suggest you not only take a look at those two articles but also the site in general. It is now on my list of daily viewings and adds some additional much-appreciated humor to my midday break.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Melancholy Musings

I beg your indulgence for the minor rant that follows. I'm a bit down today, hence the following.

I don't know what went wrong. I don't know where I went wrong.

I don't know what it was but the majority of this year so far has been "off" for me. The year began badly when I had joint trouble in January, landing me in the hospital for the first week of February. I spent February and most of March recovering. I spent the successive time.. well, I don't know if I was still recovering but I know I hadn't fully recovered. Even now, given where I am, what I have to do and how things are at work, I don't consider myself fully recovered. In my mind, I won't be fully recovered from everything until this work-year is over (which is either at the beginning or end of December). Until I survive into next year, this year, and my current status, is in the loss column.

The harder part for me is reconciling my poor performance this year with previous years. Not health wise but work wise and performance wise. Not infrequently I've looked back over the limited history that constitutes my sum total of experience and either wonder if/where I went wrong or whether things were always wrong and I just managed to scrape by on luck, intelligence and ability.

Long, long ago I was a good student. I'm talking elementary school, middle school and high school - Hell, I graduated top 2% in my high school. I took a lot of AP classes and passed (scoring 4 out of 5) a lot of the AP tests. I entered college in good position. In college, I wouldn't say I necessarily thrived. I learned a great deal and I got good grades in my major, okay grades elsewhere. I did well enough, in college and on the LSAT, to get into a first tier law school. I took a year off to work and live at home then went to law school. In law school, I scraped by. I passed. I graduated, eventually. I wasn't on a journal (by choice, presumptively) and I didn't get published. I sat for but did not pass the Patent Bar. I sat for but did not pass the CT & NY Bars.

In other words, my school experience, if graphed performance vs. time, would tend to show a negative trend.

Maybe I lost something during that year off. Maybe I never had the focus, dedication and perseverance it takes to do well in law school. I wouldn't say I turned out to be a bad lawyer or patent agent. With my work experience thus far, I feel qualified to do what I'm doing and I do it well, really. I know I'm smart enough and capable enough.

I just don't know what, if anything, is wrong. And sometimes, sometimes that really bothers the Hell out of me. I only hope I survive this year. That's my goal now – survival. Because this year is already a loss and it is far from guaranteed that I will be where I am come December or January. I can't read, no, I don't want to read the omens yet. I cling to the hope that I can prove myself sufficiently by the end of this year, in these last months, that I am awarded a second chance, a second year to really do things right. But right now, in the uncertain darkness that precedes salvation or ruin, I hope. And work. And, sometimes, I pray.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Tinfoil Hats Ahoy!

A post over at Daily Kos raised a good point that I'd long since forgotten. It seems like the U.S. government never did get around to fully investigating those anthrax letters that came in the wake of 9-11. And it seems like there was some compelling evidence to either indicate a U.S. gov. or employee hand in it or to at least narrow the search down so as to actually get somewhere. Or to put it another way - it looks like there was better intelligence for ferreting out the anthrax culprits than for invading Iraq. (But then that would hardly be news.)

If you read the comments to the post, make sure your tinfoil hat is firmly in place. I'm not going to link to the sites linked in the comments though I will note that the microbiologist murders, in particular, make for some good paranoia.

By the by, it's kind of interesting to see the comments from presumably "regular readers" of Kos. I like reading DailyKos because I tend to share the same political alignment and opinions. However, I'm getting the sense that the site tends to foster darker components too, such as the tinfoil hat wearing crowd. I love a good conspiracy story but, well, I'm unwilling to commit myself to anything like that in the absence of at least some concrete evidence. (And I know that actual evidence is nigh impossible for a good conspiracy.) Maybe that's just the scientist in me. *shrug*

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

TSA Bans Motherfucking Snakes From Motherfucking Planes

While I eagerly await this week's movie release...

I saw a BoingBoing post that linked to this post. A morsel:
NO SNAKES OF ANY KIND WILL BE PERMITTED ON A PLANE. SNAKES ARE NO LONGER ALLOWED IN CHECKED BAGGAGE. This includes all pythons, boas, rattlesnakes, vipers, mambas, adders, and other known species of snakes.

Exception: some limited amounts of snakes may be allowed if Samuel L. Jackson is traveling; licensed snake charmers are allowed to have snakes in their check in baggage only if the name on the snake charming license matches the one passenger’s ticket; people who'se name is Snake will be allowed on board but only after full body cavity search
  • Snakes purchased in the sterile area must be consumed before boarding because they will not be permitted onboard the aircraft.

  • Passengers traveling from the U.K. to the U.S. will be subject to a more extensive screening process.
You can go about your business now.

Oddity in a Dream

I had a dream last night. Here's a sketch of what I can recall.

Getting into a car or vehicle with 7 other people (or so). 2 couples so they got the backseat. I think my mom was driving. That left me, William Shatner and some woman/girl. Shatner got in the middle-front with the girl and I got in last but Shatner fell asleep so I got to talk with/hang out with the girl.

Something like my cousin had died but I could still communicate with her as she could write, in pencil, on paper. At first I was shocked but then it was almost normal. Her messages were "usual" ones to people she loved, her mother, her brother, etc. At one point I tried channeling her, writing on the paper myself with the pencil - except that didn't work. It only worked by her writing, herself, directly on the paper with the pencil. END DREAM.

Very weird. No real comments to make other than I suspect Shatner's presence is due to me watching a lot of Boston Legal this weekend and the previous one. (Denny Crane.) Even him in the dream seemed like he was Denny Crane, not Shatner. Still, very odd.

By the way, the internet connection for my computer at home is mildly and occasionally crippled, I suspect by spyware. I ran AdAware last night and got rid of some junk there. Spybot won't run until I update it, which I couldn't do with my crappy internet connection last night. And so today I seek spyware answers. *sigh* No Molten Core raid for me last night. Damnit.

Friday, August 11, 2006

The Week in (Brief) Review

This week was actually an interesting week for a variety of reasons.

The CT Democratic Primary was on Tuesday. Lamont won over Lieberman. I'm still waiting for Lieberman to get the message, that he's become completely out of touch with his constituency. He now plans on running as an Independent. I don't think he got the message.

British agents foiled a multiple-airplane bombing. Now US passengers can no longer bring liquids or anything non-necessary of any kind on planes. Oddly enough, despite the foiling and increased security, I don't feel any more secure. I think it has to do with Bush and the government's general attitude towards security. I really don't have much faith in the Dept. of Homeland Security.

I've done pretty well at work this week, if you can forgive the screw-ups on the way.. and there were a few. I'm still figuring things out here. I hope I last long enough here that I can use my learnings to benefit. No, I will not explain that statement here, at least not yet.

I'm playing less World of Warcraft. I haven't had a falling out with my guild leadership so much as.. well.. we had a disagreement, though they bear me no ill will. It's resulted in me signing up for, and getting slotted for, fewer raids. Kind of nice, actually. I get more sleep. I watch more TV. I relax a bit more. I'm very tempted to just quit WoW outright, only I think I do enjoy it and want to continue with it. I don't know.

I just saw this on CNN's site. Lieberman scaremongering:
I'm worried that too many people, both in politics and out, don't appreciate the seriousness of the threat to American security and the evil of the enemy that faces us -- more evil or as evil as Nazism and probably more dangerous than the Soviet communists we fought during the long Cold War.

If we just pick up like Ned Lamont wants us to do, get out by a date certain, it will be taken as a tremendous victory by the same people who wanted to blow up these planes in this plot hatched in England. It will strengthen them and they will strike again.
That whole "strengthening" argument has been used too many times in too many contexts. Plus it doesn't generally feel as though we're accomplishing much in Iraq these days. Why else do the majority of Americans want to see a withdrawal? It's not worth the price we're paying, in people and in resources. I sincerely hope Lieberman doesn't win his seat back this Fall.

But enough politics. I'm not a politico and you're not here to read about it.

Mmmmmm... hazelnut coffee...

Friday, August 04, 2006

Quotation Goodness, Part I

Courtesy of a post on Daily Kos:
"Cuban dictator Fidel Castro is still in the hospital with a serious medical condition. Castro said that a half century of Communist rule seemed like a good idea right up until the point he was rushed to the hospital in a '55 Oldsmobile."
---Conan O'Brien

"President Bush has rejected calls for an immediate cease-fire [in Lebanon] on the grounds that he'd prefer a "sustainable" cease-fire. It makes sense. He doesn't want the killing to stop until he's sure it will stop. So there will be more killing until the president's convinced that there will be no more killing. Or everyone else runs out of people."
---Jon Stewart

"President Bush had his annual medical exam this week. The doctors said the president remains in excellent health and is fit for duty. In fact, so fit today the National Guard called and said, 'So how about serving your time now?'."
---Jay Leno
Jon Stewart is the man. 'Nuff said.

News Flash: Dog No Longer Man's Best Friend (At Least in China)

As a dog lover, this CNN article really bothered me: Second mass dog slaughter in China.
SHANGHAI, China (AP) -- For the second time in days, Chinese authorities have ordered a mass slaughter of dogs to curb a rabies outbreak -- drawing criticism from animal lovers but also support from many who say it's the only way to contain a disease that kills more than 2,000 Chinese a year.

Officials in the eastern city of Jining plan to kill all dogs within three miles of areas where rabies has been found, the official Xinhua News Agency said Friday.

The measure came in response to the deaths of 16 people from rabies in Jining in the last eight months, Xinhua said.
"I'll take 'Ways NOT to Respond to a Health Crisis' for $200, Alec."

The article goes on to suggest that this is an unreasonable response, especially in light of the medical options (i.e. vaccination) that are available, though not widely used.

The article also states:
The killings have also prompted a slew of impassioned postings in online forums.

"Tens of thousands of people die in traffic accidents each year, but we don't ban cars. Dogs are simply easy to persecute," said one unsigned posting on Xinhua's electronic bulletin board.

"People opposed to killing dogs ought to think how they'd feel if they or a relative was infected with rabies. Are people's or dogs' lives more important?" said another, also unsigned.
In my opinion, the quoted posts miss the point. It's not about persecution nor is it about the relative value of dogs' lives versus peoples' lives. Rather the issue is how a country should go about responding to the health threat of rabies. Should the government mandate a mass genocide of potentially affected animals? Or should the government mandate vaccination and better practices where failure to comply with them carries stiff penalties?

In other words, there has got to be a better approach. This is an overreaction that is going to do far more than merely harm a bunch of animals – it's also going to significantly affect public perception of Chinese government and the public image of China. I wouldn't be surprised if this action carries severe repercussions for China and Chinese companies on an international scale. Okay, so that's more of a wish than a prediction. But I'm an avowed dog lover. I would throw an absolute fit if something like this were attempted with my dogs.

By the way, I'm specifically ignoring the part about precisely how the dogs are killed. If curious, read the article. I refuse to discuss it here.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?

This week we had a new associate start working for my firm. The partners did what they did with me - hiring someone who just graduated from law school, to whom they can teach the trade. The new guy is very nice and should fit in very well with the firm. I've helped him out a bit, not by offering much substantive advice with work (since I feel I'm rather new to this myself and really shouldn't be offering substantive advice), but rather by providing some procedural tips, for both PTO things and office things. I'm in a rather unique position because I know exactly what he needs to know and what materials and resources he's going to need. Why? That was me 8 months ago.

It's also kind of interesting because I can see how much I've learned in my 8 months with the firm. A lot of aspects of work are now rote - I've seen them before and know how to handle them. I know how to approach drafting patents and Responses to Office Actions. I understand the process and the law much better. That's not to say I'm an expert here, Hell no. I've got 8 months of experience under my belt, I'm still learning. But it's really interesting to see how far I've come, especially as I can appreciate where the new guy is right now.