Archive for October, 2004

almost there

November is a busy month. In about 4 hours, work will begin (for many) on their nanowrimo work for the year. Am I ready? I have no idea, really. I suppose I don’t have to wait long to find out, though.

Elections in 2 days. It is my intent to hit the polls in the morning, and just get into work whenever that is done. It is worth taking the time to do it right. Especially this year.

Finally got the new drives installed in my computer, and avoided doing a complete reinstall through some fancy drive footwork. I still will do a reinstall at some point, but now is not that time. In the short number of hours before tomorrow, I think I’m going to redesign the color scheme for my desktop, and give myself something new and fresh to look at. I think I need to reinvigorate myself in order to maintain energy this month. That might help, if even a little bit.

Finally, if you ever see the movie ‘Samourais’ on the shelf in your local video store, leave it sitting there. It may be interesting to look at, but even by my own mercilessly loose standards for movie entertainment, this thing was a complete piece of shit. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.


Another dream/story

Just got up from another weird dream, and this was another one worth writing down. I suppose this was possibly influenced by the recent watching of Passion of the Christ, but in alot of ways, it has nothing to do with that. Anyway….

The beginning of the dream is all very Indiana Jones style. I was with someone, and we were investigating some documentation that had been put together a very long time ago about a manner in which to ‘summon’ God, or at least have a visitation of some sort. It wasn’t very clear. I believe the person I was with was supposed to be a priest of some kind. Later on in the dream, it turned into Trout.Complex, but I’m not sure if that was significant.

Anyway, we managed to uncover some sort of portal. It looked to me like a iron bar type gate, which we could see through into the inner chamber, which was filled with all sorts of religious symbolism. Interestingly, it contained symbols from many world religions, not just that of Christianity. At this point, the person I was with said some sort of prayer in Latin, and simply stepped through the gate without opening it. He had invoked some sort of belief or “spell” for lack of a better term, or called on God to help him through this challenge. Good call, as it turned out, as every step further inside the sanctum produced all sorts of traps going off that he(we) could just ignore. Though I remember seeing this part in slow motion, my perspective appeared to be viewing him from in front, facing backward. I didn’t see myself, and didn’t see how I was avoiding these pitfalls myself. Ah, the logic of dreams.

Finally, we reached what looked like a giant sarcophagus, and the priest person pulled out all kinds of stuff, including a long sword, a brooch with a huge gem in it, and a large bag or container of water (presumably holy water). The whole thing seemed to be slightly tipped up (head at top), so that when the water was poured over the thing, it began to spread down the entire surface, filling in all the relief parts of the surface, making it glisten, and almost glow. The sword he slid into the brooch, about halfway down the blade, and somehow affixed it there. It matched the impression in the surface of this thing, and he placed it inside the depression.

Nothing really happened, although it did seem to become darker, and there were several lightbeams, not unlike sunbeams (but more focused) that were coming in from odd angles, seemingly highlighted places on the walls. Behind the sarcophagus now, the priest guy read some text, and indicated that we would find “His Son” on the northeast wall, or something similar to that. Looking up on the wall, and spotting one of those lightbeams, it appeared to be highlighting a small picture of Jesus, who was looking down into his hands, where a small flame was lit. It did appear to be a button or movable in some way, so I reached up and pressed this.

This triggered a series of what I’ll call ‘tests’. It was also somewhere during these tests that it became clear the priest guy was now Trout. Two other things occurred to me at this point. One: that I seem to have been brought along on this thing quite intentionally by the priest (Trout), almost no more than one of his other props, like the sword or water. It wasn’t clear to me why until later. Second, that I also knew I was going to get up and record this dream. The possibility existed that I would later incorporate it into a story or write it, and the feeling that I couldn’t do that was strong. It seemed that this story had been written before, or that this was somehow else not going to be a unique work.

Anyway, I jumped fairly quickly back into the dream, and the tests. The tests involved different things. At one point, simply finding various images on the wall and noting them. At one point, reading text in Latin. Another was rubbing dirt off of images on the wall. Once uncovered, it turned out to be childhood images of myself and Trout. The image of me was a picture I do recall being taken of me as a child. The images had to be completely rubbed from of whatever ‘rot’ was happening, because if there was even the smallest spot left, it would then grow and re-cover the whole picture. This part I don’t remember so well, but I do remember the last part. It had to do with “Praying for the Ascension” or some such. Another very large, outline lit image of a massive sword in the wall had that inscription, and Trout told me to pray. We both knelt with our backs to the north wall, and looking at the sarcophagus, and then both closed our eyes and prayed.

I don’t remember the prayer. I remember it being rather disconnected and not really affiliated with Christianity, despite all the previous tests and evidence in the room being fairly heavily tilted that way. I felt a rush behind me, and wanted to open my eyes, but Trout said not to, that this was for someone else. I think we then both immediately ignored that advice, opened our eyes, and stepped up to an altar that was before us, very brightly lit. On it was a God figure type, and we didn’t really look directly at it. All I could see were the white robes and it being incredibly tall. Next to us was another figure, robed, with a golden chain around him. The chain seemed to be rooted behind us, and the voice was talking to him or it indicating its usefullness had come to and end. There seemed to be some discontent in that other person or entity being so tied to material things (the chain?) and it was pulled back behind us by this chain and disappeared. We stepped up onto the altar or dais and began hearing some kind of contract being read.

The contract seemed to indicate that the earthly world was under the impression that we were dead, and would continue to believe so until our presence was also no longer needed. It seemed to indicate that this diversion from the natural course was some kind of alternate space, where we were no longer alive, and that once we left (sometime in the future), that alternate timespace whatever would also cease to be.

Our role almost immediately became evident. We started hearing sounds of different sorts. Some were grating (nails hammering, fingers on chalkboards, etc). In each case, Trout asked if such a noise were to be here for eternity, and it went away. The next noise was like a puppy lapping at something, or licking a face, and it was accompanied by an image of a very small child playing with a black haired puppy. It occurred to me that we were analyzing things that were innocent, and we needed to explain how, or why they were. I said something about it being important in that case that the innocence of the child was important because it hadn’t yet learned to fear the power of the dog, or that it could be dangerous. It was that fearlessness, which we eventually taint with experience, fear and knowledge that forced us to lose that sort of pure bliss. It occurred to me know why I was here, and a flashback (seemingly given to me by the god person/figure) where ZenRhino told me that I had a child mind, or was similar to Ho Tei from Japanese mythology. Our role was to show this god figure about this purity, or innocence, and why it left us (as humans) or something similar.

I remember being really happy at the image of the child and the puppy. The dream ends.



I’ve decided I’m going to try to make a consolidated news/comics/etc page that gets RSS feeds from all the stuff I want to read. Who knows, it might just end up being the only place I go to read anything anymore. It does get back to an idea that I was throwing around awhile back to have a page that you could completely customize that was just other news/content sites pulled all together into one ‘newspaper’ (except in an online form, obv). So no more browsing through dozens of sites to get what you want. You get all the headlines, and then shoot off to specific content if the headline grabs you.

Imagine google news only extrapolated to deliverable content in general (be it comics, specials in your favorite section of, top 10 national book best seller lists, etc).

We’ll see.
<update> And it works! See the link to the right </update>



We watched Passion of the Christ last night. Largely because we wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I’m still formulating an opinion, I think. It hasn’t completely sunk in yet. I can make a few comments now though.

The very first impression that struck me was that regardless of the religious tones of the movie, that was a brutal and horrible time and place to live. The manner in which we, as humans, treated one another was just atrocious. Or maybe we still do that, but we’re less open about it. I think the most cruel characters in the movie were Christ’s punishers, or torturers. Between the original caning and flogging, to the very end where they finally had him up on the cross, several of them were just constantly laughing and merrymaking in the pleasure of the torture. Just brutal.

I guess I’m not sure I want to comment on the religious aspects of it. It was certainly a pretty stark deviation from what I remember reading of the Bible. The lack of compassion of the Jews who wanted him crucified doesn’t map well with me. The conflict in the Roman leader and his wife struck me as more honest than anything reflecting back to the more controversial aspects of the movie(book). The flashbacks to his teachings was fairly well done. Again, some creative license taken, but not overly much.

I suppose when you consider that by the time the work in question reached some sort of rigidity in its translation and publication, it had already passed through dozens of (mis)translations of varying degrees, quibbling over a word here and a phrase there is pretty meaningless. As an example of what I mean, you’ll recall the phrase “Peace on earth, good will toward men”. Well, according to some sources, that was a pretty silly mistranslation. The proper translation was “Peace on earth toward men of good will”. Hmm, interesting twist of a couple words, and the entire meaning changes.

So who really is to say what went on during that turbulent time. Who really is to say who is ultimately responsible for his crucifixion. Who really is to say precisely what portion (if any) of Christ’s teachings made it through unfettered by the mistakes of monks. Certainly not I. Sometime, I’ll get back on a rant about religion in general, and maybe this will come up again. For now, I’ll let it lie.


Minor upgrade

I was starting to finally reach the point where I needed a new hard drive. So this is where the geek in me really kicks in. I want to investigate all the options, examine all the different speeds, formats, capacities, cache sizes, and even cabling that is available.

So the first realization is that this will not be the end-all-be-all upgrade. The intent is to get me over the immediate problem I have of being low on space while, not compromise on performance and not hit the bank account too heavily either.

So, first decision: SATA, IDE or SCSI. For the first time ever, I’m not going down the SCSI road this time. For the extra money you pay, you’re simply not getting enough value anymore. For a quick comparison, here’s the largest SCSI drive available from one of my favorite hardware vendors compared with the IDE drive I settled on:

  • Maxtor Atlas IV 147.1GB 10K RPM Ultra320 80-pin HDD (Drive Only)
    Price: $692.75
  • Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 PLUS 200GB 7200RPM 8MB Buffer ATA/100 HDD (Drive Only)
    Price: $121.00

Ok, yes, 10000 RPM. I agree, thats faster than the IDE, but Jesus Maria, thats almost 6 times the price. No, I’m sorry, that just won’t fly anymore.

Ok, so SATA? After doing a bunch of reading, my general feeling is that eventually, I will switch over to SATA. Just not yet. Why? Well, for one thing, I don’t need it yet. SATA has two real advantages for me: speed and expandability. However, right now, the speed argument is limited by my current motherboard. Until I do an upgrade on the motherboard that has a higher backplane bus speed and/or onboard SATA support and/or PCI-E bus support, there’s really no advantage. As far as expandability is concerned, SATA *does* offer many more device possibilities than standard IDE. For right now, these drives I’ve just purchased will last me into the near future. Let’s say a year or more. So once I make the commitment down the road to do a full system upgrade, then SATA may come up again. For now, not necessary. Oh, and just for completeness, here’s some SATA pricing:

  • Maxtor DiamondMax 10 300GB 7200RPM 16MB Buffer SATA HDD (White Label)
    Price: $210.00
  • Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 200GB 7200RPM 8MB Buffer SATA HDD (Drive Only)
    Price: $123.00

Very reasonable. So down the road, this will definitely be worth further investigation. The “old” IDE bus may very well relegated to just CD/DVD type devices. That would be nice.

I’m also now considering a home network upgrade to go wireless. With the advent of 802.11g, there’s now a secure, high speed mechanism in place that is reasonable in price as well. I’m not committed to it yet, but I’m getting closer.

Finally, we got a Digital Voice Recorder for the wife. Birthday time, and this was her wish. She’s going to lots of boring lectures, and having a voice recorder lets her sleep in class without missing anything. Very important. I’ll post the model in this post once we’ve received it. No sense spoiling the surprise (or whats left of it).


Internet security

So after 4 or 5 failed attempts to reload my wife’s machine with XP Pro and associated stuff, I finally buckled down and took the hard road. I followed my own advice to friends about the proper methods for installing a machine securely, and keeping it secure. It worked. But Jesus, this is scary stuff.

So in the early steps of the installation, for the XP CD and the SP1 CD I burned, the network is unplugged. I also have an applications CD burned which has the firewall on it (Tiny Personal Firewall, if you must know), which I then installed. Also installed the virus checker (PCcillin), and did the first of many rounds of virus checking. Once again, this is before its actually been live on any network.

Everything clean to this point, so I figure out which interface (there are two in the machine, one for the private home network) is which, and IPify the external interface, and finally, plug it in. Immediately switch over to the firewall configuration and put it into the ‘connected to an unsafe network’ category, and sit back a bit to watch. 26 attacks in the first 10 minutes. Not bad. I download the virus checker updates, and rescan the whole machine. Still clean.

Next step is windows updates, which also go on smoothly (no, I didn’t install SP2). Five or six reboots later, and the machine’s pretty much ready for primetime. Clean installation, no current viruses, and based on current patterns, roughly 2-3 attacks per minute on various ports. Gotta love the little kiddies with their scripts. Oh well. If television has taught me anything, its that with great power comes great responsibility. And right now, it appears that to utilize the great power of the Internet, I (and everyone else with any interest in keeping their machines clean) has the responsibility of parenting a bajillion script kiddies and their fucking brainless attacks.

Bah, I say. BAH.

(EDIT) At some point, I will publish the step by step how to on installing a machine (from the OS perspective at least) in a safe manner to keep out the unwanted. (/EDIT)



I hate doing bills, and I love doing bills. It is, on the one hand, very satisfying to see that you have money, and where it is, and that you can reconcile it all down to the penny. On the other hand, it is a process, and one that takes a considerable amount of time if you procrastinate like I’m prone to doing. I suppose there’s a lesson in that.

Its all about discipline, I suppose. Feh.


Old Friends

I was struck with an idea on the way to work earlier this week. It frustrated me that the typical type sites (and no, I won’t link to them. If you want to go visit them, you can type it your own damn self) are all based on a charge, or at a minimum, ad-based model. I despise that. So if I find that someone has listed themselves on the site under my college or high school (or even grade school!) graduating class, then in order to actually REACH them, you have to pay. Screw all that noise. So my thinking was to start a free service where people just fill it all in on their own. Completely user generated. I’m not going to looking for your school, you put your school in. Yes, I store your data for you, but it NEVER gets sold anywhere. No advertising. You have to grant an individual permission to view your information, or let it all out for the public to see. Completely configurable on a person by person basis.

The site would have to run itself (yes, lots of up front database and scripting work), but would eventually be very low maintenance. The problem with this type of resource is that invariably, it doesn’t work unless you get people going to the site. I’m not good at site advertising. Flat out. Its not that I don’t see the mechanisms inherent in the Internet and the search engine pages and such for doing so … I just hate investing the time in doing so. Blah. So yet another project that ultimately gets shelved. Maybe I’ll resurrect it at some point when the mood strikes me.

Anyway … the other side effect of all that was it got me thinking about all the people who I’ve lost touch with that I wanted to get BACK in touch with. All hail Google, index of all things important. After about an hour or a bit more of poking around, it yielded up a few email addresses for me to try. And guess what … two replies this morning. One from a high school friend who I lost touch with around middle of college, and another a GRADE SCHOOL friend who was the first person I ever played D&D with. In fact, before we even knew what D&D was, we had made our own role playing type game and maps and stuff. Man, that was cool stuff. We were … hmm, maybe 8 or so at the time?

Bottom line: I’m really looking forward to more correspondence and rekindling some of those old friendships. The Internet is such a great enabler.



I’ve decided to participate in this year’s Nanowrimo. Thats an exceptionally weird way to say ‘National Novel Writing Month’. Go check out their site if you’re not familiar. You can involve yourself with the site as much or as little as you like.

For me, the value is mostly in just the initial motivation. I’ve always felt like I had the ability to produce a written work of some quality. Publishable? No idea. But there’s one way to find out, and setting a goal like this is certainly one way to provide that initial incentive. If this is successful, and better yet, if the idea pans out into something worthy of actually putting to a publisher and letting loose on the world, so much the better. Its certainly something I would enjoy doing as a career if it was something that could support me.

Anyway … we’ll see what happens. I suspect that my failings in this, should they appear will not be in the ability to produce 50,000 words. I think that once I get started on a topic, I can just keep going. I think my main failings will be in consistency of style. I tend to write in a fairly freeform fashion, and that isn’t necessarily conducive to good readable material. This is definitely something worth exploring, despite that.


Evil Genius

Ok, I just played through the demo of Evil Genius and I have to say, it rocks pretty hard. I’ll be going to get the retail version today so I can unlock all the stuff the demo didn’t have in it.

I can’t wait. As far as quick summary, imagine Dungeon Keeper combined with modern day James Bond/Austin Powers style heroes/minions/effects. The execution could have sucked, but it doesn’t. My only complaint so far is that in addition to having a zoom/rotate (around Z axis) in the view, I’d also like to rotate my view around the X and Y axis so that I can get right down in that shizzat. Minor complaint though.

I need to rule the world.



The main character of the dream is a merman. You know, the fullon fish man, Darryl Hannah style, legs turn into scales and fins, grow gills type thing. In the start of the dream, he’s being held in some sort of government study facility in an all underwater tank style thing. His every move is monitored, he’s hooked up to sensors constantly, etc. He is given one ‘porthole’ style opening that actually has open-air access to the outside world. Invariably (and presumably, with someone else’s help, he escapes).

Unfortunately, he also has a personality disorder, in that when he’s being held captive, he eventually reverts to his ‘base’ personality, which is probably his ‘real’ personality. He is convinced that there is another ‘freak’ like him somewhere in the world that he needs to find, that can help him, and nurture him or be a parent to him, or otherwise take care of him without having to be held captive. When he escapes, he invariably, after some short or long time, ends up heading back to the west coast of the US to search for this being.

The ‘person’ he’s looking for is actually an illithid (mind flayer, ala D&D style, no idea why). It also happens to be the head ringleader of a large criminal organization (as mind flayer’s are wont to do). He’s aware of the merman, and is invariably the one who always attempts to break him out of his captivity, and assists him in returning to their base in California. It is also aware of his personality problem.

The other manifestation of the merman’s personality, that eventually comes out as he is travelling to meet back up with this other freak, is that of a superhero, or at least secret agent. He convinces himself that he is working for the very government the he just escaped from, and even begins reporting back in to let them know what his progress is in finding his ‘arch-nemesis’ (the mind flayer).

Invariably, after each escape attempt, the mind flayer is able to assist him enough along the way (usually assisted by some other criminals he assigns to help him) to get them to meet, by which time the merman is usually fully reverted to the secret agent personality. The mind flayer attempts to get him to ‘convert’ or manifest the base personality, fails, and either lets him escape, or he escapes on his own. At that point, stranded out on the ocean (at least, in the dream thats where he was ‘stranded’, the merman radios back to his ‘base’ for ‘pickup’ from his mission, and is eventually found again and brought back (into captivity) to the very people he had escaped from previously.

The final ‘scene’ is where he’s walking back to the (or ‘a”) study area, explaining how he barely got away from this evil villain (which, in reality, the mind flayer really is) and how he barely escaped with his life, etc. They take on the role of wanting to debrief him, and direct him to a short hallway with a door at the end, darkened. They indicate he should get some sleep before the debriefing in the morning, and he readily agrees, heading down the short hallway to the door. As the door closes behind him, he can feel the splash of water under his feet, and reaches the door, which has his name on it (General Maximus or Marcus or something similar). As he opens the door, the room fills with the water from the other side, and he is once again back in captivity.

Cycle repeats.

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