Monday, December 27, 2004

Back in Nashville after a week-long visit home (I'll write more about that later) (Maybe)

Last night as I was driving along I-57 through southern Illinois, I was struck by the appearance of the moon. It was the type of full moon with well defined mares that resembles the apparition of a jolly albino Gorbachev. That alone would have been enjoyable enough illumination for the drive, but the clouds decided to do their part as well. Must have been some rather malnourished clouds, as the moon remained visible even as if passed behind them -- it appeared as if the moon had simply donned a set of nylons. Indeed, sa the clouds slowly floated by, it appeared that the moon was actually a much smaller glowing orb, simply resting on a bed of silky nascent precipitation. I was able to appreciate the moon all the more as I turned east on I-24 in Kentucky, and the moon's relative position shifted from my left to my front. Overall a nice drive, although this time I saw a pair of dead dear... perhaps the cold puts them on the move.

Speaking of cold, upon returning to my apartment I discovered just what a large effect my small heater can have. Having been turned down for a week, it had been unable to maintain a livable atmosphere in my living space. While this was good, in that it eliminated any infestation problems I may or may not have had, it had the side effect of making my return very uncomfortable. I turned both my heaters on full blast, and even turned my oven on to low heat for a while. I thought that it would be the perfect time to overclock my computer, but strangely it seems that low temperatures can cause artifacts just as well as high temperatures. In the end I was thankful for the extra blankets that I had brought back from home.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

What is this? I'm eating salads now? Am I a rodent?

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Installed Windows XP last night...

Now there's the performance increase I was expecting.
Presumably I would have gotten the same experience had I got my Win2k drive to boot up properly... my guess is that WinME just didn't have the right hooks to fully utilize my new hardware.

I immediately changed the desktop look back to the "classic" (ie win9x, not win3.x) theme. The XP default looks like something by playskool to me. Anyhow, my only complaint thusfar is that it seems to take a long time to boot up... still only about a minute I would guess, but longer than win2k.

Doom3 looks incredible, although due to the nature of the enviromental lighting, you don't even get to see a lot of things most of the time. Morrowind is like a freakin' whole new world -- a world that doesn't jerk to a halt every thirty seconds or fifty meters (whichever comes sooner). Even better perhaps, I can run SPMBT and Steel Panthers III, both old DOS era games, with no problems, and with sound. Never had any luck with that in win2k.

The most impressive feature of XP however, has nothing to do with games.

I discovered this feature while poking around in the control panel. Evidently MS is working on computerized speech... there's a computerized "voice" which will speak lines that you give to it, via a text box inteface. This is clearly the greatest innovation in operating systems since people started not using OS/2.

Being exactly twelve years old, my first task upon discovering this feature was to make my computer sound like a voicemail system with Tourrett's syndrome. The ease with which the new technology could generate correct pronunciations for all manner of four letter words on the fly was impressive. Running out of expletives, I next tried my hand at various quotes from HR ('Your head a splode', 'Back off, baby'), and the Marx brothers. Finally, I tested out the system's ability to speak foreign languages. It did a poorly accented french, but did a surprisingly passable chinese... I think that the tones were off, but otherwise...

There seems to be the promise for other voices to become available as well... perhaps someday soon I'll be able to hear emanating from my speakers in a sultry silicon voice, "you turn me on."

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Questions to ponder:

Why was ZZ Top doing remodelling work at the grocery store last night?

How was Cuba able to send so many men, and so much materiel to Africa in the 70's and 80's?

What would the history of the second half of the 20th century have been like had Mikhail Timofeevich Kalashnikov succumbed to his wounds in 1941?


Monday, December 06, 2004

I think I watched/listened to a bit too much television today while painting.

The Packers' game was just sad...

Arrested Development is an hilarious show... tonight especially so.

Also listened to most of Family Man, a Nicholas Cage version of Groundhog Day, or so it seemed to me. It didn't pack quite the same entertainment value as Bill Murray's venture into life altering transdimensionalism. I think they were going for something a bit more sentimental [What tipped you off to that? The precocious pre-school girl, or the cute toddling boy -- ed.]. The thing I don't get though is the end. He zooms into someone elses life for a few weeks, then gets zapped back to his original life. Strangely, just before he gets returned to his "own" life, his daughter by proxy says something to the effect of "I'm glad you're back". Previously she had acted as something of a confidant to Cage's character's dilemna of finding himself in an alternate life. Then at the end, he goes and grabs the now single and none the wiser wife of his alternate life off of a plane, and the credits roll to them having coffee together in the airport lounge. Ignoring for a moment how unlikely it would be that a woman would go have coffee with an ex-boyfriend who dumped her by flying to London just because he rants psychotic for a few minutes about an imagined life they shared together, I still don't understand how his character is better off in the end. No matter where their relationship goes in his new future, he won't be able to regain the life he fleetingly experienced for several weeks.

I like these interdimensional adventure movies, but I couldn't get over this ending...

Friday, December 03, 2004

I like having FPS dreams...

The one I had last night featured some interesting weapon design choices... The enemies seemed to be standard undead/zombie types a la Half-Life or The House of the Dead. I recall first using a flamethrowing device against them. Next I switched to an interesting weapon which seemed to be some type of lizard that I held in my hands and which exhaled a cloud of gas which put to sleep or otherwise incapacitated the zombies. This allowed me to kick them until their heads fell off... (interesting gib effect in itself I guess). The lizard itself was rather colorful, having both red and green shades, and it's breath possessed a coloration like the sheen of gasoline in a puddle of water.

Both of these "devices" were used inside of a rather confined hallway area... after having cleared this interior, I moved to an exterior where more zombies were arriving via parachute. At this point I switched to using perhaps the most interesting weapon of the bunch... at the time I recall not being quite sure what it was, but thinking that it was a device that shot the pickets of a fence. In retrospect, it must have actually been a stake firing crossbow (I'm assuming that zombies in the game foreshadowed later vampiric foes). I was able to use it to good effect by shooting holes in the parachutes and watching zombies splat onto the ground as they lost their drag.

Oh yeah, and the graphics were even better than Source.

My subconscious should be in charge of id.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Hooray for pre-paying!!

I was somewhat nervous that I might have missed a payment or two on my student loan, since I couldn't recall sending in a payment recently, and I hadn't received any mail from the loan company...
Well, according to mail I received today, I did in fact miss two months of payments, but it didn't matter, since I had sent in a check for over three times my monthly payment three months ago when I last sent them a check. It seems they neglected to harrass me via post since I was far from being past due.

Next time I write a big check though I'll have to keep sending in my normal monthly payments so that I actually get ahead on principal repayment.

Oh, and I've got less than twenty-two grand of debt to go now! Huzzah.

(At this rate I'll have a net worth of zero in no time...)

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Oh, I forgot to mention something really weird that happened last week while
I was walking home.

It was dark out, as it was around 5:30 in the evening as I was walking
outside past the children's hospital towards my apartment. I had just
crossed the street between the heart center and the children's hospital when
I hear someone calling out behind me something that sounded like "Mart!" I
ignored it, but then I heard it again, and it sounded close enough to
"pmart" or "martin" that I turned around to see if someone was indeed
attempting to get my attention. A college age guy was in his car with the
window rolled down motioning to me. I walked over, and the fellow proceeds
to ask how come I don't remember him. Evidently we were in english class
together freshman year.... I don't remember any such face in Mr. Rodriquez's
freshman english class... I ask him who the teacher was... he can't
remember, it was several years ago. I ask where he went to high school...
he clarifies... not high school english, we were in college english
together, here at Vanderbilt.

Now, I've got a vivid imagination and all, and occaisionally I think I'll
remember bits of dreams and forget whether they really happened or only
happend at night, but there's no way for me to remember being a freshman
taking an english class (of all things) at Vanderbilt.

I curtly informed the driver that I had not attended Vanderbilt University
(I omitted the part about attending a much better school), and he gave an
embarressed guffaw.

I never did find out what it was he was calling at me...

I guess other people see main characters coming in as extras as well.