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WoW 5 Rapier Melee   
02:55pm 12/10/2010
 

As I mentioned last time, I recently authorized in rapier and just last weekend got to get into my first rapier melee. I thought I would post some thoughts and reflections on the difference between the two.

At WoW 5, I was able to fight the second half of the woods battle, and then the ruins battle. My side won the woods overall, but not the battle I fought in. We lost the first ruins, won the second, and then lost the tie breaker. Then we ran the ruins twice more in another way for fun.

I brought out my 40″ sword and my two foot diameter round shield for blocking. Jauma had to leave just as I was getting in, so he handed me his rubber band pistol and half a dozen rubber bands. Archery and RBG’s were disallowed in the ruins, so I only used it in the woods.

I like the idea of “if you’re shot with ammo, pick up what killed you and bring it back to your res point.” That was really cool and I hope we could do that on the heavy side more. That way, combat archers have less to worry about when shooting expensive ammo at people who will just step on it.

I don’t like Death From Behind (there, I said it). In the woods, it seemed like most of the attacking was about trying to get around groups of people so you could DFB them. Sure, the battle wasn’t about taking ground and holding it – there were just a couple points you needed to control. However, it just doesn’t seem right to walk past a group of people fighting just so you can walk behind them and “kill” them that way. Perhaps I have French Noble’s Disease, but I’d rather join in with my comrades who are actually fighting and just help overwhelm the opponents. Also, the heavy fighter in me has an issue with my opponent calling me dead rather than me calling me dead. Hey, them’s the breaks, I’ll figure it out eventually. After about 4 DFB’s, I started looking over my shoulder quite a bit. Often, I would find someone DFB’ing my friend, and I would stab them.

I’m also not quite sure that I’m effective with an RBG. I think I spent too much time loading it, and worrying about it shooting me, or my friend, and if I should have it or my shield out… I came to the conclusion that I would load it at res point, and then stick it in my belt. The first time I was legged, everyone on the other side just ignored me, so I started reloading my RBG – so Conor the Gypsy killed me while I was reloading (a smart move, as I was going to shoot him). I think they would be really cool and fun if I had a couple people following me around reloading them and handing them forward – but I bet that’s a thought every nobleman has had since the induction of guns to the west. Also, there’s an interesting phenomenon where if someone is shot by an RBG or arrow, and doesn’t feel it, the other side will inform him politely of this and the person will take it. It’s perhaps like DFB (calling your opponent dead), but I just don’t see that as much on the heavy side. When we tend to inform someone that they have been shot, they don’t hear us, and it can get a little nasty.

Rapier fighters fight woods battles at about double the speed that heavy fighters do (or at least it looked that way). There were a lot more people running back and forth to res point than I’ve ever seen in a heavy battle. Charlotte would often pass me on the way back and forth, and I’d say “go on ahead, I’ll catch up.” (My ankle and bruised up left leg was not going to let me run anywhere, much less through that undergrowth.) At first, I got the impression that Gavin was hanging around me to make sure I didn’t get mobbed, but he eventually ran off to do crazy things behind enemy lines, and I was happy to send him off with luck and my blessing.

When we moved out of the woods to the ruins, I came a bit more into my own. First was the fun of people expecting me to get tired. One person actually said “we’ll wait for your arm to get tired of holding that large shield up…” HA! You don’t know me very well do you. My round shield is like half the weight of a heater… you can wait a long time.

Next, there was some interesting lack of tactical knowledge on the part of my fellow low end rapier fighters. At one point, Conor (that damn Gypsy) started floating out on our flanks, right along the edge of the world. Nobody did anything about it. Then, he started talking to us about it, and how he could do it as long as the marshal told him where the line was, and still nothing happened. Finally, I decided to float out there and stop this insanity. All you have to do is send one barely competition fighter out to the edge of the world and don’t let him die, and he’ll save you from being flanked (and in rapier, DFB’d). If he tries to scoot between you and your forces, kill him. I can’t be the only person to figure this out…

Also, it was pretty obvious to me after fighting the first of the ruins battles that it didn’t matter what half wall I had in front of me. It was much more important that my opponents had a less than advantageous wall behind them. I was surprised when Alric yelled over before one of the battles, “Hey Girard, take those dozen or so guys up the right side.” I’m used to command in heavy, but I didn’t expect to get it in my 2nd rapier melee scenario. Thus, I picked the spot I wanted to get to, and announced to my folks, “I want to get to at least half way!” (I mistakenly thought my spot was half way, it was more like 2/3rds of the way across). At lay-on, I dashed in quick and looked crazy while the rest of the fighters formed up in a line, but we had moved past some horrible turns and had our enemy backing into a corner. Then, it was just a matter of engaging lightly while slowly rocking forward half an inch at a time. Eventually they were all backed up on various walls and were unable to move, thus killed.

Overall, it was a fun time. I managed to only do one thing that was just horribly wrong (someone turned their back on me and I stabbed them), but I said I was sorry and they were cool with it. I did run out of a DFB before I realized that it had happened, but that was just a matter of timing and not really against the rules. I got to shoot people with a gun, stab them with a sword, and see my friends kick ass at doing it better than I. I saw my rapier champion issue orders clearly, in time to carry them out, and with a level of knowledge that really did turn the tide of some engagements. I think I was killed and killed others in about equal proportion in the woods, but I did defend a flag for about half that battle, so I helped win some points. I only took one really hard shot (in the neck) and the person just kind of drifted away, and I took another stiff shot that was really me jumping on it and not my opponent’s fault. Honestly, not a bad way to support a war effort and have some fun doing it.

Mirrored from Erminespot.

 
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6 for 6   
02:35pm 11/10/2010
 

The crazy fall season is over. Now, I can focus on repairing/improving my kit, finally get the grass cut and the gutters cleaned out, work on a website or two, and oh yeah, get ready to renovate the kitchen…

But, before we get into that, let’s re-cap the last six weekends.

Sept. 4th – Golden Rose. Duchess Padraigin asked me to be on her team for Golden Rose, and I was honored to accept. Of course, that means I had to get my rig all shinny and ready to go, but then had a great time fighting for the day. On Sunday, we drove out to the Greensboro area and picked up Cliff and Fiona, our two new greyhounds.

Sept. 11th – Florida. My parents really wanted to see our new car, so back when the calendar was a lot less full, we agreed to drive down for a weekend to see them. So, we packed Cliff and Fiona into the back of the car a week after we got them and drove 11 hours to Central Florida. We hung out and had a good time, then got back in the car and came home.

Sept. 18th – HMS Raven’s Cove. We couldn’t stand by and not be there for the creation of a new Barony right on our borders, so we got up and zipped down I40 to attend Battle for HMS Raven’s Cove. After the investiture and some hugs for our new cousins, we got back in the car and went up to Bunnlevel to the Tourney of Friends site to go riding. The plan was to ride in processional at War of the Wings, and we felt it might be a good idea to have been on said horses before. Sunday, we took the dogs to the dog-park, then went to the Baronial Meeting and Practice.

Sept. 25th – MATO 3. Midnight at the Oasis has been a great event for a long time now, and this year was no exception. I drove out to setup tents on Friday night, then back home. Guenievre, myself, and the pups came out Saturday, and camped over on Saturday night. This was Cliff and Fiona’s first event, and they really handled it well. It’s rather refreshing to have dogs that can go to events with us.

Oct. 2nd – Coronation. We’ve been making a point to get to Coronations to re-affirm our oath as Baronage. This one, I was also able to get my heavy rapier authorization knocked out as well. It was a lovely event at a great site. We jumped in the car with Livia and hit the road early, played all day, then left after court. We got dinner at Quaker Steak and Lube and made it home around 11:00. On Sunday, we took the dogs to the dog-park, then went over to NC State for a really nifty demo that the new/old student group had put together.

Oct. 9th – WoW 5. I’ve been to every War of the Wings running, and this one was definitely the best one so far. Each year, they seem to add a little bit, but this year it seems like the event really came into its own. Cliff and Fiona went with us, and we were camping out for two nights, plus bringing a bunch of canvas. So, we procured a trailer and hauled it all out and back. I fought in a heavy torchlight tourney on Friday, then in the first 3 heavy battles on Saturday. After that point, Baron Axel conceded the heavy war points, so I jumped over to Rapier to lend a hand there.

So, in the last 6 weeks, I haven’t had a real “day off” to just lounge around the house, putter, and get some chores done. It was a very rewarding month and a half, but I’m also very tired right now from it all. Also, there’s no aspect of my gear that doesn’t need help – armor, shields, weapons, tents, garb, etc… So, time to start scrubbing and fixing, and getting things ready for winter and next spring.

Mirrored from Erminespot.

 
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The End of An Era   
01:10pm 01/10/2010
 

On November 30th of this year, my paid Livejournal account will expire and I have no intention of re-newing it.

That’s kind of a strange thing to think about. I started my LJ back in January of 2004, so it’s lasted quite a while. That’s just about ancient considering the average lifespan of technology.

It has really been a fun place to hang out. It has been great reading little bits of everyone’s lives, and sharing little bits of my own. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t do that anymore. I think LJ has fallen below critical mass. I know that many people are not happy with the drama of posting comments to Facebook, but to be honest, that’s not what’s pushing me away. I was gone before that even happened, I just didn’t acknowledge it until now.

I feel like we’re in a transitional time right now. People are still looking for ways to blog and chat in various methods, and it doesn’t look like there’s a true LJ/FB mashup.

So, what will all this mean for my online friends? Well, first I’ll post any sort of blog type posts up here rather than at Livejournal. I’ll keep mirroring over on LJ though, so if you are used to reading me on your friends list, I’ll still show up. I’m also working to have easy integration from here to Facebook, so if you are a FB fan, you’ll see it there too.

I may not be reading my friends list as often though. I’ll be working to add your blogs and LJ’s to my RSS feeder, so I’ll read that stuff over in google reader now instead.

Mirrored from Erminespot.

 
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Daily Tweets   
11:55pm 25/06/2010
 

  • 07:53 @mary_wroth is that Alchemy in Brooklyn just down from the Atlantic Ave subway stop? I've been there - it was great! #

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Daily Tweets   
11:55pm 15/05/2010
 
  • 12:21 Moving mulch in the hot sun: not a job this cube dweller is acustomed to. #
  • 17:20 A hard day of manual labor done, now I settle in at Tylers for beer and pretzels. #
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Daily Tweets   
11:56pm 30/04/2010
 

  • 19:21 I'm at City Beverage, where are you? #

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Coronation   
10:59am 13/04/2010
  This is mainly a post about fighting, but I do want to first say the event was very nice over all. The feast was as good as I have come to expect from The Giants (and seeing my Grand-Knight walking around with a pillow under his apron was funny). I was happy to witness the formalization of Nikulai and Rowan’s teacher/student relationship – I hope it will work out great for them. I also had a blast hanging out with folks and generally having a good time. I love it when a big group of Windmasters all take a ride out to an event and setup shop. This was the second time we’ve done this, and it’s a total blast. My sincere thanks to Gaston and Ros, for hauling the canvas out there for us, and thank you to everyone who helped setup and take down. We had an obscene amount of square footage under canvas, and I think we all spent under an hour total in setup and take down time.

So, fighting…

Honestly, this was not a good day on the field for me. Lots of fights with folks that I should have a leg up on, were going the other way. Any fight that I should have had a 50/50 shot of winning, I lost. The format was a wounds retained bear pit, and you got one point for beating an unbelt, and 2 points if you beat a knight (unless you were also a knight, then it was one point all around). I think I went home with a measly 5 points. Part of that was, there was a hard bar to entry – all the upper level fighters could hold the field for quite some time, and you had to beat one of those guys to get in and get your first point. After that, you could go for a bit of a run, but you had to get in first.

That said, I feel like I should have won more than I did. I’m not saying this is anyone else’s fault other than my own. However, I think I’ve identified 2 issues with my game that causes this.

First is, I don’t fight a lot of lefties in practice. Somehow, there are very few left handed fighters right now in Windmasters’ Hill. However, it seemed like there was a dozen of good lefties out there on Saturday. When you combine the general in-experience I have with lefties, and the new shield, it leads to a lot of loss. The new shield, with its greater curve, is functionally thinner than my previous shield. So, when I cheat my shield over to the right, in the past it would pick up more shots. On Saturday, it took me a couple fights to realize this, so my first few lefty fights were lost due to just stance. So, to fix this, I’ll have to do 2 things. Most importantly, I’m going to have to seek out some lefties and just fight them a bunch. After that, I may consider taking more than one shield with me, and swap out to a flatter shield for lefty fights.

The other issue I had was slippery footing. Within a few fights, the wet ground turned to slush. This had two very detrimental effects on my game. First, it limited what I felt confident in doing with regards to footwork and passes. If I got going too fast in any direction, I would slip and end up out of position. Also, every time I tried to throw a shot, my back foot would slip, thus the shot was generally light. I tried to compensate by putting more arm and body into a shot, but that’s not what the muscle memory wants to do. That said, my sword arm is still worn out a bit (on Tuesday), which hasn’t happened since I learned decent mechanics. To combat this, well, it’s time for pell work. I’m trying to figure out better ways of throwing shots in the muck. Last night, I put a dent in the helm on my pell, with a broomed out sword, just to prove to myself that I still could. Also, it’s spring, and there’s a distinct lack of grass in my back yard. I’ll wait till it rains, and go slip around in the mud to see if I can figure something else out.

So, it’s time to wash the garb and pack it back up, and head down to Tourney of Friends. Last year, I had a great day on the field there, so I have a level of performance to repeat.

Sunday brought what was probably the best after-event ever. Since we were already at the coast, Nikulai, Lucas, Rowan, Rohesia, Gawin (Joe), Guenievre and I all hit the aquarium and the beach. Rowan and Rohesia had brought swim suits to plan on swimming, but I left mine at home. After an hour of thinking about how sucky it was to be at the beach and not swim, I realized that I had an extra pair of jeans in the car. Thus, I just went in wearing my shorts. I looked up the water temp when I got home, 60 degrees. It was quite chilly, but once you were in and used to it, it wasn’t so bad. Nobody’s lips turned blue, but we were quite cold to the touch when we got out (leading to sparkle-pire-sex jokes). Then it was off to dinner at a great fried seafood place, and a long ride into the sunset.
 
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Shields!   
11:14am 06/04/2010
  Well, since becoming Baron I've gone through 2 shields. Well, that's not really fair, as the one in the user pic had quite a bit of wear on it when I stepped up. None the less, the shield I made to replace it was looking pretty bad, then the corner failed and started sending wood bits into my face any time my opponent hit it. So, time to make a new one.

It also just happens that Livia could use a new shield, as her's isn't curved enough and is a bit heavy for her. Also, Galeran has been wanting a shield for like a year or more now...

When it comes to putting fiber glass on them, it's just about as easy to do a batch as it is to do one. So, this weekend, I set to putting 5 different shields together. I had one blank for me, made of oak. I had Guenievre's old shield, which has this great curve in it but was never covered with fiber glass. I had a blank for Livia, a blank for Galeran, and I made a new blank for Guenievre so I could steal her curvy one.

It's been a bunch of work, but it was quite fun. I got to spend the weekend outside in the great weather while listening to my book, drinking beer, and huffing resin fumes.

Here's the general process - take some 1/4 inch thick plywood of a decent grade, cut it down to be about 3 feet wide, and glue two pieces of it together to make a 1/2 inch thick piece. While the glue is drying, induce a curve (I use ratchet straps to bend it around a tree in my yard). I like to leave the piece on the tree for at least 36 hours, but more if possible, and I soak it down with the hose if it doesn't rain on it. Once it's off the tree, I cut the shield shape into it, then trim down the edges if people want it a bit smaller. Sometimes, the two pieces of wood don't laminate all the way, so I have to glue and clamp it over night to fix that. Next, it's time to put fiberglass on it - I put one woven mat over the front and soak it down with resin. Then, I cut strips of the woven mat, and put them over the edges. After that, I sand it down and put one more mat over the front. In the past I would put another woven mat on the outside, but I thought I would try these new non-woven mats I found. While I think these will give a great surface and a very even finish in the end, they suck up resin really fast. Once all that's cured, sand it down again, and one can think about fabric covers, painting, and strapping.

As of right now, I've got Livia's and the curvy one past all the fiber glass process. Galeran's needs another half a shield worth of resin (I ran out); Guenievre's new one needs a full sheild worth, and my oak one still needs 2 edges done before second front layer. The oak one is lagging behind because I decided to reinforce the leading corner with a bit of sheet metal, and I had to wait for it's glue to dry before moving on.

So, I should have a new shield for this weekend (which is good, considering the old one wouldn't pass inspection). I think only the super curvy one will be ready, but I can't wait to get the oak one done too.
 
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Last Supper, 2010   
02:25pm 01/04/2010
  So, if Maunday Thursday fell on April 1st, could you imagine what the last supper would be like...

Jesus: So, guys, tomorrow they are going to crucify me.

Paul: Bwahahaha. That's the best one yet. Way better than last year when you and Lazarus teamed up.

Jesus: No, really guys, I'm serious. I'll be dead before sunset tomorrow.

James: Right... ok.

Jesus: So, anyway, this is some really good bread here. Next year, you guys should get together, get some more of this bread, and think of me.

Judas: I don't even like this bread. It tastes like donkey crap.

Jesus: Et tu Judas? Anyway... this is some decent wine too.

John: Oh, here we go with the wine again. Just like at that stupid wedding we "happened" to come upon.

Jesus: (Ignoring John) Yeah, next year, be sure to toast me with the next vintage of this stuff...

Peter: Right... Next year... Next year I'll Bishop in Rome! Ha!
 
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New Fuckin' York...   
11:47am 23/03/2010
  Reflections on New York,

This may get long. It’s my thoughts and impressions on my 4 day trip to the Big Apple. At times, it may delve into local politics and subjects that may trigger issues for those who are (or were) attached to New York around 2001. Fair warning…

New York is the most foreign place I have visited in the United States.

Transportation is a big part of things. Thursday made for a strange day; waking up in my bed (though early) and before lunch navigating airports, a Taxi, and walking around Brooklyn a bit. After that, it was into Midtown via the Subway. Our Hostess, Somjen, had said with relief at one point that she was glad we were self-sufficient – other guests could take some hand holding to go do anything. I can understand this, the Subway can be difficult to figure out the first couple times you use it. Sure, there are trains moving in opposite directions, that’s easy. What’s hard is transferring between them correctly, especially when they stop running some lines to deal with upgrades. Honestly, this is where I felt like I was sticking out the most – real New Yorkers are just commuting, so they move from platform to platform just like you drive to work without thinking about it. I’m walking around looking at signs, looking at a map, double checking myself, etc.

And then, you walk. Walking is serious in NYC. One would think, looking at a map, that New York is a very small place. You would be very wrong. Things measured in blocks quickly add up to miles of walking. By the time we left, we were starting to really get used to it, but it’s a very “into the deep end” kind of thing. New Yorkers don’t think twice about walking half a dozen blocks to go about their daily lives – eating, shopping, whatever.

When getting on the Subway for the first time, I was struck by just how different I was from everyone around me. I know I can stand to lose a couple pounds (and did on this trip), but as far as I could find, there are no overweight people in NYC. Like, none. In any store we went in, there were clothes for thin people only. I was generally taller than most people I was around, but given that, I had at least 10 to 20 pounds on every guy I saw. I think this is due to a combination of factors. First, is the walking. It’s not just that you walk from place to place, but you haul all your stuff on your person. Want to buy something? Great, now you haul it home. No trunk to put it in. Also, food is very expensive there (at least in relation to here). So, I wonder if people just eat less of it, so as not to go broke. Lastly, you have to work so much more for food – lots of people don’t have big pantries and fridges, so they often have to go buy what they want to eat that day, and not store it. Overall, it seems much healthier for humans.

And then, there was fashion. First up, apparently New York is going through a second 80’s revival in as many years. Thus, there were two general types of people – 80’s people or Hipsters. IT-Geek, “t-shirt and jeans”, was not an option. Also, one does not wear your electronic gadget on your belt. This may be because of fashion, or security, or whatever, but it’s just not done. Just to try and fit in, I quickly changed from t-shirts to button down shirts, and think I did a bit better for it. I know I got some strange looks when we went to the Morgan Library and I was wearing a t-shirt (never mind the fact that we were the most knowledgeable people in our tour group about Medieval stuff). The 80’s folks were kinda strange. Mostly women and girls were into this fashion craze, and many were committing the tights-as-pants sin (as so described by our hostess). But yes, curly perms, loud makeup, bedazzled anything, and honest-to-god leg warmers were on every train. Actually, there is one important difference, it was the 80’s fashion as seen through the lens of today’s morals – so no conservative types in long skirts and big shoulder pads. When combined with the fact that many subway cars were actually used in the period, every so often one could look up from one’s phone and think you were in some sort of movie scene.

The City herself looked kind of, old. Like, things would fall down a little and nobody would pick them up. Trash just kind of, happened. People take the bag out of their trash can and put it on the sidewalk, and at some point within a day or so a truck picks it up. I don’t want to think about what the smell is like in the middle of summer. Outside of that, there was a charm to places, either the brownstones of Brooklyn, or the bricked streets of lower Manhattan. I can see how people love it, and I can see how sometimes you have to love it.

If I lived in New York, I would absolutely jail break my iPhone and get it on T-Mobile. AT&T just sucks there, there’s no way around it. You will have all the bars in the world, full 3G service, and you can’t get any data at all. I completely gave up on calling people, because the calls would drop every time. Thus, we fell into the world of setting things up via text message. However, I know why the iPhone is so popular there. If you are going to sit on a train for 30 to 60 minutes a day, you want a device that lets you listen to music, play games, and read things. Pretty much everyone who sat down in a subway car, whipped out some flavor of smart phone, and didn’t look up till their stop.

There’s a strange impersonal nature to New York. Everyone exists in a shell of their own making, and you don’t talk to anyone outside your shell. You don’t even make eye contact with them. I also think this is part of the iPhone thing, but many folks will wear sun glasses and head phones to try and maintain their shell. When riding the subway with Somjen and Zil (Zil is Somejen’s Girlfriend), they about cracked up when I said “excuse me” to get off the train. Somjen suggested that the city would go to pieces if everyone had to say “excuse me” to slip past someone. I maintain that if cars can honk their horns to get people to move, persons should be able to say “excuse me” to get by. When being panhandled or someone was trying to hand out bills, I would always get suckered in because I made eye contact with my fellow humans. Apparently, that’s where I failed. Talking to someone, even to say, “No Thanks” was right out. Holding a door open for someone was met with a very mixed response. Some people looked at me like I was patronizing them, others seemed genuinely thankful. I also got some strange looks for taking my hat off inside, but nobody really cared about what I did with my own stuff.

****9/11 and Cop Stuff****

So, 9/11 has changed more than the skyline of NYC. This can get strange for folks, so skip on down if you need to. My first impression is that of an oppressive police presence. There were just cop cars everywhere you looked, and then there were cops on the street, and then there were traffic cops, and police auxiliary, and etc. Now, I wasn’t trying to do anything wrong or illegal, but I just have a hard time relaxing around cops in uniform. That said, we rode by at least one open, daylight, drug deal that was going down right in front of a cop, and they did nothing about it. Somjen suggested that while it gives the impression that they are corrupt, at times they are just trying to reduce overall harm and have to let things go – but that sometimes they are just corrupt. On the subway, things got even stranger. There were signs and announcements suggesting that you turn in your fellow man for acting strangely. Also, you can have your bag randomly searched if you are on the subway. I suggested that I didn’t give up my rights regarding unreasonable search, but apparently you do by getting on the subway. I kept looking, and never saw a sign saying that. It was a moot point, both because I was never searched and because I didn’t have anything to hide, but that’s not really my point. I kept using words like “Orwellian” and “Fascist”, because that’s kind of how it felt. You could call 311 and report just about anything, and I felt like there was some sort of “Ministry of Harmony” on the other end waiting for your call.

On the flip side, I’m not a New Yorker. I don’t live there, I don’t vote there. It’s their city, and if they want this level of protection, that’s up to the people who live there. I did start to understand, on a visceral level, the respect that the emergency services receive. While walking around China Town, we saw a ladder truck of the FDNY stop traffic on a street and back into its garage. Nobody honked. People were backed up around the corner, and couldn’t see the truck, but knew that it was the FDNY and weren’t going to hassle them. Then, as we walked by, I saw the plaque on the side of the company… an entire shift of fire fighters from there was wiped out on 9/11, and there were a lot of names on that plaque.

I never really felt “unsafe”. I felt “uncomfortable” a couple times, but never like I was really just about to be mugged or in more serious trouble. I had to walk around with my head up, but it would seem that the crime of the 80’s didn’t come back with its fashion. When we strolled through Times Square, it was very flashy and commercial rather than the Den of Sin of yester year. When I was looking for a FedEx store, I asked one beat cop and one cop car (2 cops in the car) for directions, and they were very nice about it. I stared with “excuse me officer” and they were more than happy to send me in the right direction (well, the cops in the car did, the beat cop had no idea).

****End 9/11 and Cop Stuff****

So, on to amusing antics. Let’s see, I was propositioned for gay sex, a la Larry Craig, in the bathroom of a deli. I didn’t realize that the place for a good pastrami sandwich was on the border between Chelsea and the Garment District. A light blue Keds sneaker came under the wall of the stall; there was some whistling and tapping… I flushed, mumbled “no thanks” and went back to the dining room.

I ate like 3 hot dogs, and like 4 bagels. They were all delicious. We also found our way to a China Town noodle shop, where the noodles were hand pulled and walked to the kitchen, then dropped into broth. A couple minutes later, our soup came out, and it was excellent. The pastrami sandwich was everything I remembered it could be. Also, we tried a Middle Eastern place that was great, we hit a little local bar/restaurant in Brooklyn, and got pizza from Somjen’s favorite pizza place.

We managed to hit the Morgan Library, the Met, the Museum of Modern Art (with its Tim Burton Exhibition), and the Cloisters. The special exhibits that we went for were quite awesome – the unbound books of hours (The Hours of Catherine of Cleves and the Bell Heurs of Jean de Barry), as well as the Mourners (a set of statues off the tomb of Jean the Fearless, 2nd Valois Duke of Burgundy). We tooled around the Met and its stuff, but most of their medieval things are at the Cloisters or later than my period. Still, it was fun to hang out in the Arms and Armor and educate people about the weight/fit of armor and the idea of glancing surfaces.

Well, back to the cube life. Like all travel, it’s very nice to be back home with my bed and my pets.
 
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Daily Tweets   
11:56pm 17/03/2010
 

  • 08:00 @ladyrhi that, or a Congressman in your pocket... #

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Corporation runs for Congress, Man Bites Dog, Film @ 11   
10:07am 17/03/2010
  So, if according to the Supreme Court, Corporations are to be People too, then they should enjoy all the rights, duties, and responsibilities that the rest of us enjoy. So, to test this theory, Murry Hill Inc., a Maryland PR firm has thrown their hat in the ring for the 8th Congressional District of Maryland. Actually, they are trying to get into the Republican Primary in that district. Nikulai clued me in about this from NPR yesterday, and here's a link to the story and a transcript: http://www.wbur.org/npr/124742358

I think this is perfect. I wonder if I can buy stock in a Corporation, and thus have a more direct and binding vote on what happens in Congress. I mean, why not make "NC-4th Inc." and run it. Throw the sucker out there on the stock exchange for $1 a share, and I'd buy 100 shares right off the bat. Then, I would get as many votes in any resolution as I had shares.

Of course, I might not always just buy stock in the NC 4th. I might buy it all over the place - this might be bad for people who live in, say, Wyoming. Just imagine all the richer folks in the country having just about complete control over Congress... wait, you don't have to imagine that - that's what we already have.

If Corporations are going to enjoy 1st and 14th Amendment rights, then they should be subject to military service, jury duty, and personal income tax just like all the rest of us. It might also be an interesting test to see if a company like Microsoft could run someone for President - sure their CEO is over 35 years old, but the company itself isn't... (actually, Murry Hill Inc, will have to be 25 years old, and a citizen for 7 years...)
 
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Another MMO? Really Really?   
10:43am 10/03/2010
  As most of you know, I played the War-Crack for quite some time a few years ago. I've gone back once or twice for a week here, a long weekend there, but have generally given it up since. So, I'm sure some of you will give me grief for picking up a new MMO, but I thought I would write a review of it so far.

What am I playing? Star Trek Online...

For those who know nothing about the premise - it's set in the new, rebooted universe (from the latest movie), but has the feel of being old school. Everybody gets to be the captain of their ship, and your bridge crew are NPC's. As you play through the intro and starter zone, you are sent on an away mission to go help some people fend off some bad guys, and while you were out, your ship takes heavy losses leaving you, a lowly little Ensign, as the senior officer in charge to get the dang thing home. Once you pull into space dock, the Admiral pulls up upstairs and makes you a Lieutenant, and it's off to the races.

Character creation is very in depth. You can pick from a hand full of races (or you can make your own), and 3 basic careers (tactical, science, or engineering). Once done, you can pick from some preset options, or really get into making up how you look. Then, you can customize how your ship looks and name it. I'm in the U.S.S. Danube, and it has a pretty nifty look that I've grown to love. You can't change the basic layout of the ship (like it's going to have a saucer and 2 nacells held on with a strut), but you can change what the components look like.

There's basically 3 types of areas - sector space, system space, and on foot (ground or space station). In sector space, you're just warping between places - there's no combat there. When you drop into a system though, you can start getting shot at, and shooting back. This is where the game most drastically diverges from my memory of Star Trek, as The Next Generation portrayed it. In TNG, Picard sat on the bridge and looked at one or two other ships dead ahead of him. They fired at each other - the set rocked back and forth - the panel explodes and sends Data flying - they put more power in the forward shields while Worf grumbles - other ship explodes. In STO, you've got to fly around and fire. You see your little ship, with your shields and such, and you've got to try and balance the shield damage and power across 4 quadrants, turn to get your weapons on target, fire them, and do your best to avoid exploding ships and asteroids - all at the same time. Basically, this is what makes it a game.

When you beam down to a planet or another ship, you can bring 4 people with you in your away party. If your bridge crew isn't all the way up to that yet, you grab some red shirts from "security". So far, I've only had to write a couple letters home... Anyway, your allowed to put on "kits" that give you a special move, you have your racial options (I'm a Vulcan, so I can do a Mind Meld and confuse a person), you've got shields and body armor to wear, and then there's a whole range of weapons from the standard hand phaser to these hand held disruptor canons. I've been kind of the tank for my away teams, while my science and engineering crew members heal me and patch up my shields.

Overall, it has that great epic feel that I've come to expect from Star Trek. Your "quests" are actually called "episodes", and are broken down into multiple missions. The Admiral may say, "Hey, go out to DS7, take a look around, and see why they stopped sending data back." You warp out there, zone into the space around DS7, and find a bunch of Orion Syndicate Pirate types. First you've got to blast about 5 to 10 of their ships just to get close. Ok, with that done, they hail you and say "OMG, we've been boarded! Halp! I don't wanna die in a fire!" You beam down, kill all the bad guys, get the survivors beamed back aboard your ship, then get down to the data core to send their data back. Then, you can warp out of there before the thing explodes - data and people all safe. You never get to "Kirk" the hot scientist you just saved, but they wanted kids to play the game. (Yes, I did just verb "Kirk" but we all know what I meant.) You do get a hail from Star Fleet to congratulate you, give you your XP, and any other rewards of your mission. And that's all just one "Episode".

So far, there's nothing in this review that requires you to be online. Really, it's not much of the community style MMO that I'm used to in Warcraft. Other people are around, and if you zone into the same spot with the same mission, it will automatically put you in a position to work together and up the difficulty. This can be good and bad. Sometimes, you warp in and theres like a big huge ship there with awesome fire power, and you can just fly around and take on the little ships while something like the Enterprise D takes down the opposing battle ships. However, sometimes you warp in and the people who are supposed to be helping are lower level than you, don't know what they are doing, and potentially not actually playing right this second. So, you're getting hammered by half a dozen Klingon Birds of Prey while they eat their sandwich.

The only other major negative so far is the key layout. You use WASD to move around, pretty normal. So, you need one hand on those keys. In space battles, Q and E controls the throttle while W and S pitch you up and down. You need a mouse to click on the bad guy you want to fire on, and to move the camera around. You also need to hit the 1,2,3 buttons to fire your weapons, and you need to use the arrow keys to divert power to each of your shield quadrants. That ends up being a lot of things to try and keep a hand on, so I'm still trying to figure a better way to do it.

Still, overall, a very fun game.
 
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Pelvic Thrust |= A Good Shot   
11:15am 02/03/2010
  This came up on the marshals list, but I feel like ranting here rather than there. Apparently, a new guy tried to thrust Duke Logan in the face, while His Grace was on his knees, by placing his sword between his legs and thrusting. I call this maneuver the "pelvic thrust", but I've heard it called "the ducal dick" and all sorts of variants on [name of male genitalia] + ("shot" or "thrust").

I have many issues with this shot. His Grace's issue was that it tends to lead to a weak thrust, but that tends to be a factor of who is throwing it and how. My problem is that I don't find it to be a noble way to best one's opponent, and I think it breaks the game.

Really, think about it. You and your noble opponent are fighting. You have won an advantage and taken his legs. You close in for the kill, placing your body in close proximity to his. We can already make a large number of juvenile jokes about this situation, but we hold off because we know that the field is no place for middle school snickering. But then, you place your basket hilt up your ass and give your opponent a pelvic thrust to the face like a bad porno. Really? Do you really think you've lived up to the high ideals of Chivalry that the Society was founded on?

Secondly, we have made any number of safety compromises to ensure we all go home in the smallest number of pieces possible. Among those compromises is the use of rattan in place of sharpened steel swords. Now, given the assumed armor standard doesn't speak to any sort of inner thigh armor; were we all fighting in a period rig, the only thing between your femoral artery and/or your balls would be some linen pants. I invite everyone who has ever done this shot to place a sharp steel broad sword between their legs and try thrusting while in combat. If you can do it without castrating yourself or bleeding out, then I'll happily take any pelvic shots you care to throw.

Ok, rant off, back to work.
 
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The new drug from Kitty Hawk Industries   
10:08am 05/02/2010
  Are you going stir crazy, cooped up in your house all weekend? Did Snowpocalypse I or II ruin your plans for a fun weekend event with your friends? Do you have the sudden urge to beat or stab people? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should ask your baronage about YMIR…

YMIR is the new (old) cure for all those symptoms, and many more. YMIR can lighten your mood, brighten your spirits, and return you to the vigor of youth. YMIR can brighten your teeth, put hair back on your head, and solve that nasty breath problem. Chronic headaches and back pain just melt away with YMIR. Trouble at home with the spouse – take an YMIR! Just listen to this testimonial:

“If Corby made one more comment, I was going to stab that elitist jerk in the neck,” said Mistress Thjora of Isenfir. “All weekend, it was ‘Macs are great, bla bla bla ’ ‘Steve Jobs, bla bla bla…’ I don’t know what this iPad thing is, but I’m totally sick of hearing about it. And don’t even get me started about pole arms. But then, I took just one YMIR, and things were suddenly great! I got to get that stabbing out of my system with trained professionals in white scarves. YMIR saved my husband a costly and painful trip to the hospital. Thanks YMIR!”

Don’t let cabin fever get you down, or get between you and your loved ones. Let YMIR ease all your troubles away.

*Side effects include: Coldness, shortness of breath, numbness in fingers and toes, ringing in the ears, tanning of the hide, bruising of the ego, muscle soreness, meal induced napping, snow blindness, peer-fear, and alcoholism. These side effects can be extreme, but do not discontinue use of YMIR unless directed to do so by a Baron or Baroness. Use YMIR only as directed. Pregnant women, or women who may become pregnant, should be careful at YMIR. If you are not from Atlantia, ask your baronage before using YMIR, as YMIR may be too much fun for you to handle.*
 
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Daily Tweets   
11:55pm 04/02/2010
 

  • 00:22 bit.ly/9mvLy7 Capt. Jean-Luc Picard explains how Twitter sux and iPhones rule. Tweeting this from my iPhone, irony ensues... #

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Red Dot of Hate   
10:40am 25/01/2010
  I had a reasonably productive weekend, which is due in no small part to one particular iPhone App. Things. You see, Things is an app to help organize your to-do list. You can tell it the things you want to do today, on a date in the future, or even "someday". Then, it keeps track of it until you hit the button to check it off.

However, there's one feature to this app that really drives me. It counts up the number of tasks left for you to do today, and puts that as a red dot on the app with the number in it. Other apps do this, and it drives me nuts. I want all the little red dots to go away, so hence I'm always trying to stay up to date. The App Store does the same thing with the number of apps you need to upgrade, which means my apps are always at the latest version. The Phone and SMS apps do this if you have a message waiting, which means the iPhone is the first cell I've had where I listen to voice mail almost as soon as I notice it. That little red dot just drives me crazy - it's like my phone is saying "hey, you're this many messages/apps/tasks behind - catch up!"

My darling wife has of course figured this out, which means that she'll borrow my phone and just throw a new task on there rather than making up "honey-do" lists. I even start to groan when she says, "Let me see your phone..."

However, it's not all bad, not in the least. This weekend, I managed to clean the fish tank, change the cat box, clean up the kitchen (a couple times), rack the beer, empty and re-fill the hot tub, clean off my desk, and even get a couple loads of laundry done (though not put away... damn, another tally in the red dot.)
 
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Back to Brewing   
11:35am 20/01/2010
 

This weekend, my father came up from Florida to drop off some yard equipment. Yay for having my own lawn mower and trimmer. However, this left us with a Sunday with no real firm plans.

So, it was time to get back to my roots as a homebrewer. You see, I actually learned brewing from my father. I was in middle school when he picked up the hobby, and I used to help with all aspects of the brewing process. I can say I’ve been bottling beer since 7th grade, and it still sucked back then.

To kick off the inaugural batch for my new keg system, I thought something with a nice creamy head would really take advantage of the kegerator. Thus, I pulled out my Creamy Vanilla Ale recipe, and Dad and I spent the afternoon relaxing, not worrying, and making home brew.

Let’s see – I found out that my stove really won’t do the job for bringing wort up to a boil. We had to span the pot over two burners to get anywhere, and it still didn’t really boil like I would have liked. Guess I need to find a turkey fryer (that might be fun in January/February). I also learned that the new yeast smack packs from American Brewmaster really take off. I smacked it at the start of the brew process and the dang thing looked like it was going to explode before the wort was cool enough. Lastly, I think I used the wrong grains – it should still be tasty, but not as blonde as the last one.

Looking forward, I’m planning two experiments in the future. In the near term, I’m going to make one more partial extract beer (to use up some of the malt extract I’ve got sitting around), but this time I want to make it with Durham’s Municipal water. I’ve gotten the watter quality assessment from the city, and it’s not horribly far off the water I’m buying in the stores.

Then, probably after Ymir, I’m going to go for an all grain batch. Considering that there will be lots of opportunities to add hops, I think that one is going to be an IPA.

If all goes well, I should be able to bring a keg or two to Ymir, and anyway, it’ll be on tap at my house. Stay tuned for news of keg tapping day.

Mirrored from Erminespot.

 
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iPhone Developer out there?   
11:28am 18/01/2010
  I've got a nifty idea for an iPhone App, but could use some help. Anyone want to work on an iPhone App with me? I think we could sell it for a couple bucks, and I'll split the earnings 50/50 with ya...  
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Come On Google! You can Do It!   
11:10am 15/01/2010
  Found an interesting info-graphic of what China censors, and thought I would share:



from here.
 
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