Archive for February, 2001

Monday, February 12, 2001

Feb 12 2001 Published by under Miscellaneous

After a rather slow day at work, and a bad day at the gym (the running machine insisted that my heart was beating 190 beats per minute, which is insanely high, so to be safe I just jogged), I tried my hand at super-deformed drawing. Both of the drawings that I attempted turned out quite badly, even by my standards. One was so bad I scratched pencil marks over it, a gut reaction that I regretted almost instantly.

I then read some more of Cold Mountain, a Civil War-era novel that my parents have been insisting that I read. Problem is, I dislike both of the protagonists, whom have extremely bleak perspectives on life. My parents have argued that this is appropriate for the characters, and while I agree, that doesn’t make the book any more enjoyable.

However, despite my opinions of the book, I’ve been sucked into it. I spent several hours reading it tonight, which I have not done to a fiction novel in years. I’ve been out of the habit of reading fiction ever since college, and my hope is that Cold Mountain is helping to pull me back into the fold of Lifelong Readers, to which my membership has lapsed.

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Saturday, February 10, 2001

Feb 10 2001 Published by under Miscellaneous

Well, it’s been a very productive day. I went to work in the morning, where I set up Lady (one of my computers) next to my regular work machine. Why? Eh, just for the heck of it, and I want to see if I can get it on the network.

On that machine, I found some code I had written to make Wolfenstein 3D-like engine in BeOS. Saalon and I chatted (via ICQ) about how to an engine like that could be used for administrative uses, but couldn’t come up with anything beyond that DOOM-like process controller that was written for Linux.

added a new page to the library today, namely, a listing of all the SF books I own. I’ve had trouble keeping track of which books I own and which I don’t, so having a “master list” will be useful. I’m also thinking of breaking Chapterhouse down into individual reviews, and then linking to each one separately, so I can have all of my book reviews in a logical structure (including ones from the recently-read books page).

Though now that I think about it, I may want to put all of my books into a database, and set up some sort of Perl/PHP thing to keep track of them all. That way, I can have listings of SF books, fantasy books, non-fiction books, etc. without having to manually update everything. Hmmmm.

I also re-encoded my Gundam Wing anime music video, “Deathdance”, and re-posted it to my Anime Music Video site. I think it’ll play in Windows now.

I also did a bit of work outside, just generally cleaning up my garden. More about that on my garden site.

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Friday, February 9, 2001

Feb 09 2001 Published by under Miscellaneous

I realized the other day that I could put up a couple of wallscrolls at work. For those not familiar with them, wallscrolls are “posters” made of cloth, that are usually used for anime promotions. I have no wall space in my bedroom to hang any, but I could put up one or two, tastefully, at work (no hentai wallscrolls, obviously, even if I watched hentai).

So, I’ve been thinking about either this serial experiments lain wallscroll from Anime Castle, or this Cowboy Bebop wallscroll from AnimeNation. Heck, maybe both.

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Thursday, February 8, 2001

Feb 08 2001 Published by under Miscellaneous

Yes! Project A-Ko OAV’s 2, 3, and 4 are coming out on DVD! They’ll all be published on one disc. This is, AFAIK, the first time that these OAV’s have ever been published in the U.S., and finally brings us the entire A-Ko franchise (up until now, only the original film and the final one, Project A-Ko vs., Battle Blue and Battle Grey have been dubbed and released over here).

I was considering not posting this here because it’s news of pretty limited appeal, but…heck, I don’t get that many readers, and most of them have watched Project A-Ko. Besides, this is news that interests me, and if I can’t post that here, what can I post?

got my big VHS order from Right Stuf anime today. Watched some of it, and I like it all thus far. Ayane’s High Kick is traditional anime, which is not a complaint. My Dear Marie is a wonderful little romance with the twin advantages of knowing when to chuck realism where appropriate, and gorgeous character designs by Kosuke Fujishima of Oh My Goddess fame. And Mighty Space Miners is an incredible find — a real hard SF action/adventure flick, for which I can’t really think of a similar American film.

Meanwhile, congrats to Saalon for finishing his final episode of the online fanfic show seaQuest: 2047. And it’s a fantastic script, I must add. I’d post an URL, but the episode’s not up yet.

I’ve also started working on an idea for a short animated film. It would be the first production that Otherspace Productions does, and I’m thinking about hiring Fred Gallagher of MegaTokyo to do the character designs. We’ll see; I want to talk it over with Saalon and Brennen first (they haven’t been online yet tonight; I’d call it some sort of record, except that I know Saalon’s at work, and Brennen’s probably in class or studying or doing something productive. Right, Bren?).

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Wednesday, February 7, 2001

Feb 07 2001 Published by under Miscellaneous

And, like a dying lady lean and pale,
Who totters forth, wrapp’d in a gauzy veil,
Out of her chamber, led by the insane
And feeble wanderings of her fading brain,
The moon arose up in the murky east,
A white and shapeless mass.
Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822), “Moon”

It’s well-written. It’s well-drawn. It’s another cool online comic strip: Ozy and Millie, a childhood-oriented strip that Brennen turned me on to. Cool.

The Apple IIe computer arrived today. Unfortunately, it came without any software, which makes it rather difficult to use. So, I grabbed some system disks via a fortuitously nearly-ended eBay auction, and will be ordering some games from these folks shortly. The thing evidently has BASIC in the ROM, which should be fun itself. If I can find some 5.25″ disks to use as storage.

Had a good run at Gold’s Gym after work. I ran at a sustained 7.5 miles per hour (an 8-minute mile) for most of the time, but was able to push myself up to 11 mph for about a minute and a half near the very end. My goal is to eventually run a 5-minute mile, which is evidently world-class running. We’ll see what happens; physically, there’s no reason that I can see why I can’t.

I also ordered a copy of Fluxx, the card game I described in yesterday’s diary entry. Should be fun to play with my parents.

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Tuesday, February 6, 2001

Feb 06 2001 Published by under Miscellaneous

Got home from work at 10:15 tonight, but that was mainly because I spent about an hour playing card games with some friends at work. They were both…interesting.

The first is called “Lunch Money,” and it simulates 8-year-old girls fighting tooth-and-nail on the playground. You have cards like “Kick,” “Poke in the Eye,” “Combo Attack,” “Block,” “Dodge,” etc., all accompanied by bizarre, artsy images of little girls. It’s played like a fairly traditional card game, and each player has fifteen health points, which are decreased as the various attacks connect. Most of the fun lies in the verbal attack descriptions and insults.

We also played “Fluxx,” a game in which the rules change as you play. In fact, some of the cards themselves change the rules (ITO limits on the cards in each player’s hand, how many cards you draw per hand, etc.), or the win conditions, or other things. The game doesn’t devolve into total chaos, mainly because all of the cards are laying out on the table (so you can see all the rules that apply at any given time), and you can only have one particular type of rule card in play (as a new card of that type is played, the old one is discarded). It’s insane, and relies a lot on the luck of the draw, but there’s still some strategy there. A lot of fun, really.

Lessee. I also bought some wooden lattice at a nearby Home Depot, in preparation for a particular gardening thing I’m gonna do. I’ve updated my garden page with more on that.

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Monday, February 5, 2001

Feb 05 2001 Published by under Miscellaneous

Stand here by my side and turn, I pray,
  On the lake below thy gentle eyes;
The clouds hang over it, heavy and gray,
  And dark and silent the water lies;
And out of that frozen mist the snow
In wavering flakes begins to flow;
      Flake after flake
They sink in the dark and silent lake.

See how in a living swarm they come
  From the chambers beyond that misty veil;
Some hover awhile in air, and some
  Rush prone from the sky like summer hail.
All, dropping swiftly or settling slow,
Meet and are still in the depths below.
— William Cullen Bryant (1794–1878), “The Snow-Shower

I had good success with some work on Mozart last night. The program will now open and save projects, and the musical notes are drawn (crudely, but definitely drawn) on the Sheet Music window. So that feels good.

I’ve been trying to be more productive at work. I’ve been goofing off here and there, and I don’t want to be. So, I re-committed myself to trying to be as productive as possible while I’m at work.

Unfortunately, that’s been a rather difficult goal at the moment, since we on the client team are waiting on the server team to finish up modifications to their side of things. OTOH, I’m hoping that by being extra committed now, it’ll be easier to be committed later.

So. What did I do today? After helping my Mom write query letters for the articles and mystery book she’s written, I watched the first two episodes of the Rurouni Kenshin TV series. I liked the show a lot, though it’s rather hard for me to write a concise review right now. It’s a lot like Buffy or Tenchi Muyo!: good comedy, good drama, and good characters, with occasional flashes of brilliance. I’m looking forward to more from this show.

Oh, and a happy 19th birthday to Dave from Neobaka.

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Sunday, February 4, 2001

Feb 04 2001 Published by under Miscellaneous

OK, so last Monday at work, we had this big meeting at 9:30 a.m. I like to be ready for meetings well in advance, so I walked into the conference room 15 minutes early. Being the only person in there, I got bored quickly.

I slid around to the whiteboard, wiped off whatever was there, and drew a cartoon on the board, mainly for practice. This cartoon has sadly been lost to posterity, but I’ll explain it here: two guys are talking. In the first panel, the first guy says, “…yeah, we really think we’ll revolutionize the engineering market,” and the second guy replies “Wow, that sounds really good.” In the second panel, the second guy asks, “So, when do you plan to be ready?” and the first guy replies, “April.” The third and final panel shows the second guy laughing his head off, and the first guy just looking peeved.

A few folks wandered in as I finished, and chuckled at what I’d done. We had our meeting, left, and I thought that that would be the end of it.

At about 2:00 that day, my boss Tina sent me an e-mail titled “Stop by my desk when you have a chance.” I swallowed hard, then walked over. She ushered me over to the empty part of the office, as dire thoughts ran through my head.

“Did you draw that cartoon?” she asked. Oh, great. I said, “Yes,” and she explained that the managers had held a meeting and discussed it. Oh, great.

She went on to allay my fears: nobody minded the cartoon itself; they were worried that the engineers may be thinking that our April deadline is ridiculous. I assured her that that is not the case; what I drew was just the first joke that came to mind. She was relieved, and that was all she wanted to talk about.

That wasn’t the end of the story, though. A little while later, I decided to take a walk, and as I was walking through the office to leave, I strode by the conference room where I’d drawn the cartoon. An evil thought entered my mind, and I slipped into the room unnoticed. I quickly changed the last panel, so that both guys had perfectly neutral expressions, and the second guy said, “Yes, that seems perfectly reasonable.” I hoped at least one of the managers who had discussed the cartoon would see the changed one.

I went for my walk, and returned to my desk. Tina stopped by a little later, smirked, and said, “Now it’s even funnier.” Turns out that all of the managers had happened to have a meeting in that very conference room after I’d changed the cartoon. When Tina entered, everyone was pointing out the change in the cartoon.

So, it all worked out. I’ll keep drawing cartoons here and there, without fear of reprisal from management. And, evidently, they think I’m funny. :-)

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Saturday, February 3, 2001

Feb 03 2001 Published by under Miscellaneous

Well, I just had the loveliest brunch I’ve had in years.

Through various and sundry contacts, I signed up to be part of a book reading club that meets on Saturday mornings. They just started, and they’re going through Charles Haddon Spurgeon‘s All of Grace, which is a wonderful salvation tract. Today was their second meeting, but the first one that I’ve attended.

We met at The Tea Cozy, a charming little British-style tea shop in Old Town Alexandria. Nobody showed up except for me and Suzie, one of the co-creators of the group, but we chatted happily for two hours anyway, munching on delicious scones (with real Devon cream, no less), sipping tea, and shooting the breeze about politics, college life, our spiritual beliefs, and all sorts of little things.

This was particularly delightful for me as a result of some personal issues I’ve been dealing with lately, having to do with my inability to form really deep connections with people at work. I’ve been wanting to get to know people, but I’ve had real problems with starting and maintaining conversations with them. Today, I discovered that I actually can keep up a conversation like this, so at least that’s not the fundamental problem there.

After brunch, I fought traffic all the way back to the post office, where I mailed a Be T-shirt to Eugenia Loli (who helped me out a lot with Mozart) and Saalon (who can use a few now that he’s doing the About.com BeOS site). I also bought a bag of bird food and five cakes of suet for my side garden. I’m definitely a birder at heart.

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Friday, February 2, 2001

Feb 02 2001 Published by under Miscellaneous

Updated Idiotic User Interfaces with a critique of Microsoft Office Online Help. Which doesn’t suck, IMO, but has several really odd “features.”

I also split up the kitchen. Links to my favorite online comics are now on their own page, along with a new list of art sites that I’ve found and like. I’ve also created a separate page for the websites I’ve created, and updated that list with a few sitse I hadn’t mentioned.

And boy, now I realize how much I need to re-organize the library, which has devoled into a junkyard of pages and links. Ugh.

I took this interesting little self-test that assesses one’s spiritual gifts the other day. I scored most highly in Administration, Giving, Faith, and Leadership, while I scored lowest in Evangelism, Hospitality, Knowledge, and Shepherding. Odd about that low Knowledge score (traits are “inquisitive, responsive, observant, insightful, reflective, studious, and truthful,” all of which characterize me rather well, I think), and I don’t consider myself to have a whole lot of faith. Then again, this is just a paper test; nobody’s suggesting that it’s perfectly accurate.

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