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Fellatio is Victorious

I'm glad that's over; now, back to my regularly scheduled life.


Nov. 30th, 2004 05:00 pm
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So I've been spending the vast majority of the month playing nethack in the annual Nethack Tournament, which is why I haven't been around here much. From about 1992 to 1997, I played a lot of nethack and got pretty good at it, eventually ascending (winning) as a few of the different character classes, including Tourist. The annual tournament was started in 1999 and while I have registered for it a couple of times, this is the first year where I seriously played. I forgot how beautifully fiendish this game is, how viciously logical and deliciously addictive.

Success in the game hinges largely on the player's ability to store and recall vast amounts of otherwise useless information. I had, of course, forgotten a lot of this info over the years, so I spent the first couple of weeks of the tournament dying a lot, remembering stuff, learning the differences between my familiar version 3.1.3 and the current 3.4.3, and cursing Yet Another Stupid Death. Then I got my groove back and had a few good games, which of course also all ended in death.

Finally today, on the last day of the tournament, I managed to ascend as a Neutral female human Valkyrie. I had originally intended to make a go for the Highest-Score Ascension trophy, but when I saw that somebody had 54 million points, I decided that it was infeasible. What I didn't realize is that there is also a Highest-Score Ascension trophy for each character class. I am currently in the lead for the Valkyrie trophy, with seven hours to go in the tournament. I have the eighth highest score, overall. It is worth noting that in general, the most skilled players don't go for high score, they go for lowest score, fewest turns, most unique deaths, and a variety of other trophies and personal challenges.

It was a decent game, though far from perfect. I got an early wish from a magic lamp and went for the standard Gray Dragon Scale Mail, as being magic‐protected just makes life easier. I used 14 wishes (seven from the standard wand of wishing in the Castle, five from a second wand I found in the Valley of the Dead, one from a magic lamp, and one from a throne (a very rare occurrence for me)), and still had a magic lamp in reserve. I used three Amulets of Lifesaving (like a free life), the first when I stupidly choked to death on a can of spinach around mid game, and the other two on the very last level when I got gang‐raped by Famine and Death (Pestilence couldn't keep it up). I accidentally left my pet Archon, Archibald (who had Demonbane as a weapon), and a Bag of Holding with 50000 gold on the Plane of Earth when I stumbled into the magic portal. My base stats were all maxed out at 18, my fully‐equipped armor class was -43, and I had 425 hit points.

An invisible choir sings, and you are bathed in radiance...
The voice of Odin thunders: "Congratulations, mortal!"
"In return for thy service, I grant thee the gift of Immortality!"
You ascend to the status of Demigoddess...

Nethack Stuff )


Nov. 11th, 2004 02:00 pm
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So I'm on the Cal Poly campus, walking from the CSL towards the Computer Science building, when Dr. Jim Beug stops me and we start talking about a class project (I never actually had Beug, or really even had a conversation with him). While we are talking, Beug starts dropping occasional nonsense words into his speech; I feel bewildered, but don't ask him about it. As it starts happening more frequently, he also starts to twitch, mildly at first. Mildly easily turns into wildly and he is soon seriously freaking out.

I run to Dr. Gene Fisher's office for help. Always the handy man, Gene has installed a shower in his office and is indeed showering when I burst into his office. I tell him that Beug is freaking out and he tells me to use his phone to call for help. I ask him if should dial 2222, but he thinks I should instead try 911. I reach for the phone and wake up.


Nov. 10th, 2004 06:55 pm
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Lifted from people:

"This is the problem with LJ, we all think we are so close, and we know nothing about each other. I'm going to rectify it. I want you to ask me something you think you should know about me, something that should be obvious, but you have no idea about. Ask away.

Then post this in your LJ and find out what people don't know about you."


Nov. 9th, 2004 04:06 pm
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The sky is particularly lovely at this moment.


clouds in twilit sky
billows of beautiful blue
gathering the night
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This weekend, I had the pleasure of participating in the marriage of two of my good friends, Gary McCrillis and Carrie Walker (some of you know Gary from Cal Poly, Ham Radio, Wildflower, and TrueLink). The wedding was the simplest I've seen yet.

Late Sunday morning, a group of five of us drove to a random chunk of coastline outside of Cayucos. I played the part of maid of honor and first witness, while John was best man, photographer, and second witness. Acting the part of solemnizer, was our friend Alissa, who got specifically deputized for the event (under California Family Code 401.(b)).

It was an unbelievably gorgeous day, warm and sunny with a light breeze, and as we stood around on an oceanspray-tinged outcropping, we really did look suspiciously like a Christian rock album cover picture. Alissa had done some online homework and put together a short wedding script for herself, including some original material. She did a fabulous job, hitting all the main points without belaboring them, evoking emotion without being maudlin or mushy. Additionally, Gary and Carrie had prepared some short vows of their own, which I generally find preferable. After the exchange of rings and kiss, we popped some champagne and had some passing pedestrians take some group pictures for us.

I spent the rest of the day hanging out with the gang at Gary and Carrie's place in Atascadero, while they called people to tell them the news. They had kept the wedding a secret beforehand, but were making the marriage common knowledge now. We were supposed to have a celebratory BBQ at 2pm, but in classic Gary fashion, we didn't eat until nearly 7pm.

Driving back home over the grade that night, I felt lonely for the first time in recent memory. I spend a lot of time alone, more than most people I know, but I rarely feel lonely. It was an interesting variation, and while the first-level effects were predictably unpleasant, I could enjoy it on another level. I'm incredibly happy for their union, but at the same time, seeing two of your close friends tie the knot gives pause to a habitually single person.
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So I've been following the election polls, paying particular attention to I found the site from a post on, which has been heavily loaded with political threads this year. I really like the site, which uses data from a variety of polls (updated daily) and tries to predict the electoral college outcome for each state. It also provides various views of the data, discussion of the techniques used, and other election information.

The site is chiefly maintained by one guy, who had remained anonymous up until this past weekend. This weekend he revealed himself as Andrew Tanenbaum, creator of MINIX and author of the operating systems textbooks we used at Poly. I am pleasantly flabbergasted, and have regained much respect for him (some of which I had lost in the MINIX vs. Linux flamewars).
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A happy birthday to [ profile] elsparquito, who I believe turns the big 30 today. Slacker! The rest of us did that years ago. :-)


Oct. 26th, 2004 05:52 pm
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The one with the questions )
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While I probably wouldn't spend $160,000 on a banjo, somebody will snap it up pretty quickly. These are considered one of the holy grails of banjodom, even without the historical significance of this particular machine.
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Eric Collins and his wife Jen had their baby last night. Maxwell Richard Collins was born October 13, at 10:20pm. 8 lbs 7 oz, 21.5 inches.

The shining wits (where's Spooner when you need him) around the office were hoping for Tom or Vodka.
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The clerk at the 7-11 just asked me, "How come you look so English?" That just seems a weird thing to ask, especially as an opening line. I told him it was because I am, well, predominately of English descent. Personally, I wish the Cherokee showed a bit more. :-)
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Things that have amused me semi-recently.

Why the average voter is an idiot.

Compete for your country in the Geography Olympics. I got 60% and all the countries I missed were African countries that I misplaced elsewhere in Africa. Burkina Faso indeed.

Now I'm sure many of you are familiar with the Guess the Dictator and/or Television Sit-Com Character site. A new take on a old favorite is to answer the questions about yourself and see who it thinks you are. Of course, I don't recommend answering the final "Am I right?" question as the site uses this information for future runs. It thought I was Alex P. Keaton, which pleased me greatly as I really like Michael J. Fox and was a loyal "Family Ties" viewer back in the day.

An abridged version of the the 1986 Hugo Award Winner Science Made Stupid.

The CDC's Infectious Disease Trading Cards. Ok, they are not really trading cards.


Oct. 10th, 2004 11:40 pm
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So I logged into OkCupid yesterday, checked the online list, and saw that the closest online person was a woman from Harmony named Meriday. The name immediately rang a distant bell so I chased a URL in her profile and found myself reading a 1992 Usenet post to, from Mike Jittlov, containing the then soon-to-be-reasonably-famous-but-by-now-largely-forgotten ASCII art rendering of "Meriday in the Morning". Wow, that's a blast from the past; I used to read that newsgroup.

For those who may not know who Mike Jittlov is, he is an stop-action animation and analog effects wizard, mostly known for his 1989 film, The Wizard of Speed and Time. Great fucking movie. I highly recommend hunting down a copy, though it is thus far only available on VHS and a limited run of laserdisks.

There was a big legal doohickey where one of the other producers of the movie illegally sold the rights to somebody else (the people who put out the VHS version), and from what I understand, Mike has just recently regained them. So now it looks like there will finally be an official DVD version, though it will probably take him a year or two; I'm already looking forward to it. In the meantime, Mike has been graciously letting his fans dub off the laserdisk and create homebrew versions.
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I'm really shocked and saddened by the news of his death; I had really thought he would live long enough to regain much more mobility.

Goodbye Chris, goodbye Rodney, goodbye Janet.
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SMiLE was originally intended to be the followup to The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds (one of my all-time favorite albums). Brian Wilson managed to record a lot of it before succumbing to his now-famous breakdown. The other Beach Boys took some of the material, re-recorded some, ditched the rest, recorded some new stuff, and massaged it into their 1967 album Smiley Smile. Now, Brian has finished SMiLE.

Shamelessly quoted from Nonesuch Records.

Thirty-seven years after its anticipated release, an all-new studio recording of SMiLE — often referred to as the most famous unreleased album in history — will be made available worldwide by Nonesuch Records on September 28, 2004. SMiLE will be produced by Brian Wilson and will feature the ten-member band that has supported him on tour over the past five years, augmented by The Stockholm Strings and Horns.

Wilson and lyricist Van Dyke Parks, who collaborated on the original SMiLE sessions in 1966-67, listened together to the 37-year-old tapes in November 2003, following Wilson's announcement of his intention to complete and perform SMiLE in a series of concerts in London. Acting as Wilson's and Parks' musical secretary, Darian Sahanaja, of Wilson's touring band, began preparing the music for performance. This led to Wilson and Parks creating new material to make the concerts possible.

The public premiere of the finished SMiLE took place at the Royal Festival Hall in London on February 20, 2004 to overwhelming response. The Los Angeles Times said: "What we do know now is that Wilson and Parks created a glorious piece of music whose grand ambition is outstripped only by its inherent beauty and cumulative power." In London, The Guardian referred to SMiLE's "groundbreaking complexity and sophistication" and wrote that it seemed "the grandest of American symphonies," while the Daily Telegraph added, "Leonard Bernstein once proclaimed Brian Wilson one of the greatest composers of the 20th century: he was not wrong." The Independent summarized the feeling in the hall: "We knew we'd witnessed a miracle of sorts."

Peg Pinard

Sep. 21st, 2004 06:27 pm
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I just saw an odd commercial for Peg Pinard, who is running for State Senate. The commercial shows her on Avila beach, playing a 5-string banjo while a couple of small kids (hers?) watch. The song she plays is called Cripple Creek, a bluegrass standard and one of the first songs that anybody learns to play.

It really does appear to be her playing, albeit somewhat inexpertly and fairly slowly. She makes a couple of major flubs and I gotta wonder how many takes she was allowed.

The commercial text is largely about her political accomplishments, but the tagline at the end of the commercial is: And you thought she was just a banjo player.


HAL 9000

Sep. 21st, 2004 01:37 pm
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I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't afford that.

Meme Wagon

Sep. 17th, 2004 04:30 pm
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I am the Devil Bard!

Tarot: Devil Card )
Magic User: Bard )
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My new favorite warm-up activity is invisible jump-rope — that is, jumping rope without the rope. I like to warm up before I lift weights but for various reasons (mostly associated with convenience and laziness), I usually don't. So for the last couple of weeks, I've been doing invisible jump-rope. I like it. I like it a lot.

Ok, I do actually have a jump-rope but don't really have a good place to jump it. My ceilings are high enough to jump inside, but I lack the appropriate footprint. My patio is large enough, but is encircled with a built-in bench that gets in the way. The sidewalk would work, if it weren't for the overhanging plants. I could jump rope in the alley (my house makes its home in an alley), but I don't really want to.

And really, for my purposes, the rope is superfluous. The trick is to do everything (including all the arm movements) just like you would if the rope were really there, otherwise you're really just jumping in place. Sometimes I even like to visualize the rope as a piece of glowing EL Wire.

I also like to do the standard tricks like double unders, triple unders, and various arm crossings. When I was in the fourth grade, my school was visited by a nomadic jump-rope troupe called the Skippettes. They put on a big show, taught everybody the basics, and sold a shitload of jump-ropes. Soon the entire student population was adorned with jump-ropes worn over their shoulders like calisthenic prayer shawls.

At every recess, it was battle after battle to see who could do the most consecutive double/triple unders — we were all about endurance and gave no points for gracility. This all lasted about three months before it became passé, which is not bad for a bunch of kids.
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