Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving all. I'm looking at a busy month, but I'll probably get back here to post just before Christmas. The quarter conveniently a few days before Christmas this year.

Last weekend Kate's work-friends had a thanksgiving potluck, which was a fun time. Kate made some delicious stuffing and I helped make some sweet potato snacks (they were decent, but I liked the stuffing a lot more). I think it would have been more fun if I had been warned that it was going to go until that night (after starting at 2pm), so I could have paced my alcohol intake better and found more food at some point, but that was alright.

I treked out to ikea on Sunday. The in-store shipping for an item is $80, but you have to physically load the item (that's clearly too big to fit into your car so it's definitely going to be a handful) onto a cart and take it through the checkout- for some reason you can't just tell the cashier the item numbers. And if you order online or over the phone the shipping price will become $120 because they don't ship from the nearest store. Ikea is not very logically organized. This was a little frustrating on Sunday.

On Friday Kate and I were on the metro train that hit someone. We were coming into Brookland station and the train slammed the breaks for a second, then released the breaks, and then came to a pretty-quick stop and shut down. The lights went off and the doors didn't open, and we sat for a few minutes there with everyone looking at each other. Finally the driver said on the intercom "We've had an emergency on this train. This train has just struck a customer." We sat there for a few more minutes while security ran up and down the sides of the train looking underneath with flashlights. Then the doors opened and we all evacuated to the far side of the platform and luckily there wasn't any blood on the floor or anything. We stood there in the cold for maybe 10 minutes and some cops came to see if there were any witnesses, and then the whole station shut down and we had to go outside. There wasn't anyone outside conducting people to any particular shuttle-bus, so we all kinda wandered different directions. Luckily, Kate is like a encyclopedia of dc buses and she spotted one she recognized from around Columbia heights. The bus driver had some issues because they had closed a few roads around the station for some reason so we took the long way around. We toured some of the lovely area of Brookland/CUA. Bummer for some poor man.. so distraught just before Thanksgiving.

Today I retried to dunkin donuts brand coffee. Someone suggested that I just added disproportionally too much water. This time I used 14 heaping spoonfuls of coffee for 9 cups of water, and it still turned out to be weak, watery crap. Screw that brand. I bought some starbucks brand dark roast that mixes well into good iced coffee (at a 1 spoon per cup ratio) so I'll stick with that.

Kennelworthy: Does Sun Tzu's Art of War have a chapter specifically for superheroes?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Kate asked me a while ago if Eric ever worked, because he is constantly taking vacations and doing other things. He also posted recently about getting new ping pong paddles or something at work which he predicted would result in no work being done that day. So for your enlightenment: The sham of software engineering.

I was looking at a strategy gaming blog, and found an entertaining review of that old computer game: Black & White. I've never played the game myself. I remember Justin Cohen once tried to talk to me about the game because he played it for a bit freshman year, but by then I had already learned to not talk to him.
You can learn a lot about yourself from videogames. A while ago I was playing some Master of Orion 2 and discover that, if pushed far enough, I will order a genocide. An alien species that I was allied with was spying on me and repeatedly stealing my technology. This infuriated me to no end, and when I confronted their ambassador he would arrogantly lie to my face. Finally I took great pleasure in synchronizing the arrival of a few of my battleships to each of the species' planets, erradicating them from the galaxy before the two-faced ambassador could protest or beg or even transmit a declaration of war. Sort of an Order 66 of my own design. It was delicious.

(from a review of Ender's Game)
Geek wish-fulfillment is not the only fetish on display in Ender's Game: the other is self-pity, the lonely self-pity of the truly gifted and persecuted. Ender, you see, doesn't want to keep beating and humiliating and killing people. He is always forced into these actions, against his will, by the school governors who keep pushing him to succeed, and by his victims themselves, who just won't accept that he is the best. "Why wouldn't he leave me alone?" he wonders as he kills another bully.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

If I didn't just make this coffee yesterday I would think it had gone bad. It's so much weaker than my usual coffee. Almost like I melted a few ice cubes in my glass. Lesson learned: Dunkin Donuts makes good coffee in their shops, but the secret is clearly not in the Dunkin Donuts brand coffee grounds you can buy at Safeway. Or maybe my coffee maker is on the fritz and is now diluting the coffee for some reason. I'll have to test it with another brand.

If only I was 3 years younger I could get the H1N1 vaccine from work.

(from a review of the game The Void)
A review is designed to provide the reader with a description of the game, and then act as a buyer's guide. This will fail on both counts, since The Void is so far outside of the realms of helpful description that I might as well phone you up and make animal noises at you.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Long story, but Virgina was wrong (and I was also sorta wrong) about my taxes. The problem is I sent in a 2007 form last April, instead of a 2008 form, so they applied it as a modification of my 2007 return instead of as my 2008 return. It was sent in an envelope with a 2008 W-2 form and my 2008 dc tax return, and it uses numbers taken from those forms, but somehow the system didn't notice that. I suppose I should pay more attention to what year the form is for, but when you're just grabbing them off the website sometimes it gets lost in the details. I thought I was going to get a run-around from the VA tax phone line but really they were quite helpful. Net result: I don't owe VA anything for 2007, and they still owe me about $1900 for 2008 (minus late fees maybe). This is my reminder to call them back in 3 weeks to make sure everything is okay (also make sure they have "NW" in the new address).

Maybe I should find an accountant next year for my taxes. It'll be the first time I'd have to factor in capital gains (or losses) from stocks and I have a feeling that's going to be pretty complicated.

I was watching Cops that other day. It's not a show I watch at all regularly, I think I was reading or something else at the time and it happened to come on. Anyway, the cops had set up a fake drug dealer to bust people who were walking up to the house and buying drugs. The guy would be walking back to his car and two cops would run out from behind the bushes, tackle him to the group, and arrest him. At one point a cop said "Are you feeling smart now? You just bought fake marijuana!" Their stakeout is for busting marijuana buyers?!? Aren't they still considering legalizing that in California? I'm fairly indifferent about whether they make it legal or not, but it seems like the cops should pick a harder drug to stake out. It's like setting up a sting operation in Utah for people who are selling beer with too high an alcohol content.

Just watched three videos of Lady Gaga on youtube because I had no idea who she was. It's not to my taste.

(Jason Zweig about stock traders who lose more money than simply holding their initial investment would have returned)
"But the real reason, the real force that drives that disappointing return, I think, is psychological. The very moment when something is the most painful to own, it's most likely to be a future bargain. So if you sell something that hurts to own, you're very likely to end up getting rid of something you should have held onto."

Monday, November 2, 2009

(wrote this last night but forgot to publish it)
Tonight Kate's friend Rachel invited us out to the noodles & co. in Silver Spring. She scored a free samplers dinner because her last visit had all kinds of problems and she complained to the corporate headquarters. We got regular sizes of every dish on the menu. There were 6 of us, but still it was too much food. There were probably more than a dozen different dishes. I think I liked 3 or 4 of them, two I didn't try, and the rest were alright. No longer do I have to play the ugly american and resort to mac and cheese when we go there!

Yesterday was halloween. I dressed as Mystery from the pickup artist. I had a crazy feathery hat, a black shirt, black boa, black fingernails, pirate jewelry, and quiditch goggles. I'm sure there are pictures somewhere. I think I looked like a pretty accurate Mystery. Kate was a witch and there was a fun pre-party at kate's place with some delicious snacks, and then we went to a party out in crystal city. The party was a good hike from the metro, the weather was pretty miserable, and everyone at the party was smoking. But it was fun for a while. I didn't get any trick or treaters this year- I'm eating this bag of reeses by myself.

In other news VA wants more money from me! I never got my 2007 tax return from them, which was supposed to be substantial because I only lived there for 3 months of 2007 but my work deducted taxes for all 12 months. I had thought they were going to pay me back $2500, and instead I've gotten a bill saying I owe $500 more! That's $450 from April plus $50 interest. (April last year? Man, VA is slow. It's like they bought some computer software so decided to fire 90% of their paper application handlers.) I've got all my papers here though and I'm going to call the tax office tomorrow to figure this out. Gar!

(about the Dragon Age character creation program, released before the game as a preview. It has very high pc system requirements)
Cojones: I thought it would be an application allow you to mess a bit with stats, not a character dressing program that you won't be able to use on a PC capable of running any computer game. Quad/Triple Core? 4 GB RAM? WTF!?
Slenkar: a character generation program usually displays one mesh for the character or maybe a few meshes for clothes. These sys requirements are crazy.
Slenkar: is anyone here capable of running it?
Emotional Vampire: I fail the CPU req
Emotional Vampire: Christ, what the f*** you need QUAD CORE for? I am just displaying 3D model, not finding a cure for f***ing cancer