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|Thursday, May 27th, 2010|
Dear coworker 1,
If you run across a potentially serious problem during the day, PLEASE tell me about it, so that I know, can prioritize it, and fix it calmly.
Dear coworker 2,
Please don't tell me about "that problem coworker 1 may have mentioned" just before I want to go home from work.
|Wednesday, May 5th, 2010|
I guess cats are too varied in personality to lump them into categories, so ... some thoughts based on Miles and Ella.
Ella is pretty good at playing by herself. She took total ownership of this fluffy ball toy when I brought it home (actually it was on a string on a stick and she would drag the string AND attached stick around after her) and is very happy to bat those around by herself.
The only things I've seen Miles chase on his own are these little plastic spring toys. Those are wonderful - at least until they get knocked under the fridge or under a closet door. Ella loves them too.
It seems like Miles isn't very good at playing by himself. Sooooo. When I get home, he mrowwwwws at me and wants to be played with.
But if I'm taking a crumpled piece of paper and poking it over the side of the top of the bookshelf (a favourite game) sometimes he'll just lie down and bat at it if it gets near.
Ella also seems smarter and more adventurous. More imaginative? First of the two to jump onto the tall bookshelf in my bedroom. Only cat of the two to jump from the TV to the top of the bookshelves there. When the apartment door is open, sometimes it's all I can do to stop her from racing off down the hall to explore. Miles kind of peeks out scaredly...
|Tuesday, May 4th, 2010|
|And now, politics and human nature
I know I don't update this LJ very much, and I'm torn between whether to post things that are personal, or restrict myself to stuff about WoW.
I'm not sure I have enough deep or interesting things to say about WoW. The thought crossed my mind at one point to start a blog ("Aylfric's Aerie", maybe?) but I have a lot of opportunity to discuss WoW, anyway. (The P&W forums, rpg.net, and tkasomething). I don't really need a pulpit to draw more attention to my own thoughts.
So, then, a little stuff which has nothing to do with WoW.
I've been reading a couple of interesting books lately that veer or verge towards the political. I find out about these things through two Canadian public broadcaster podcasts:
- The Agenda, a TVO (TV Ontario) current affairs show
- Ideas, a CBC radio program
So, the first book:
"A Paradise Built In Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster", Rebecca Solnit
This is a really interesting and provocative book which examines how people respond to disasters. The author focuses on the San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906, the Halifax explosion (1917), the big Mexico City earthquake (I forget the date) 9/11, and the catastrophe of Katrina.
To reaaaally sum things up, I'd say the book conveys the ideas that:
- People generally respond to emergency situations very well. They cooperate to rescue people, fight fires, and fairly distribute food, shelter, and care.
- People want to be engaged in the solutions to their situation, not the passive recipients of potentially dehumanizing charity
- Governments and elites, on the other hand, believing basic human nature is violent, can fall victim to "elite panic", with horrifying results.
Anarchic, but thought provoking and I'd definitely recommend it.
|Friday, April 16th, 2010|
|I want to kick the people of Toronto
The person in second place for mayor (although that's a polling number, not actual votes... the election is in the fall) is a right-wing jackass who inherited a lot of money from his father, claims city government is wasteful while spending some of his inherited millions on office supplies. Apparently this does in fact fool the people of Toronto.
WHY ARE YOU SO STUPID?
|Sunday, April 4th, 2010|
This week I got back to playing my neglected rogue, Khiya. I first created her pre-Burning Crusade on Stormreaver and levelled her up into the 50s as a combat rogue.
Last year in a stint of playing I got her up to about level 65, as subtlety. With the new buffs to the subtlety spec I thought I would give playing her another try.
Soloing is pretty fun. You can do pretty terrific damage to a single target in the opening seconds of a fight. Even though, I do not have the super-optimized spec that someone on rpg.net suggested, but took some points out of it to get Master of Deception.
Ultimately, I think it's an issue of what I'd actually call the defining talents of a spec.
These aren't necessarily the very best talents, although they often are. For, say, a beastmaster hunter, it's obviously Bestial Wrath and The Beast Within. For a shadow priest it would obviously be Shadowform. For a subtlety rogue, I would submit that it's not the higher end damage talents, but the ones right at the start of the tree. The ones that improve your speed in stealth and make you harder for enemies to see.
If I'm going to play a subtlety rogue, then I want to be really really sneaky. That's kind of the point. So even though I could possibly get away with only 1 point in the "harder to see" talent, I want all three. I don't want monsters to notice me when I pass along between them. I want to be able to sneak through a zone crawling with enemies, take out the one I need for my quest, and then vanish again into the night.
Running dungeons, though, is quite a lot more confusing than soloing. I don't have an AOE attack, and have to run around sometimes in order to keep hitting my target. And the abilities I should use to do higher sustained damage are probably different from the ones for taking out a single ordinary monster. I'll have to find a place to do some useful reading. So far, the Blizzard rogue forum is NOT it.
|Tuesday, March 9th, 2010|
|Is there life in the old thing yet?
"Eschborn/Frankfurt, March 09, 2010: Preliminary development work has started on Jagged Alliance 3, the new episode in the internationally successful Jagged Alliance series. The German publisher bitComposer Games has secured the full rights to the license from Strategy First, and will publish this famous strategy brand with roleplay elements worldwide."http://www.bluesnews.com/a/1678/bitcomposer-games-acquires-the-license-for-jagged-alliance
Jagged Alliance was the first game series I was involved with. JA2, the first full game I developed. And sadly or ironically, the best. Almost everything has been downhill since.
|Thursday, February 11th, 2010|
|Rolling rolling rolling
Keep those doggies rolling...
Ok, that's a bit silly.
It's kind of a surprise to ME, but it looks like the Pig & Whistle Society forums are moving. Which would mean that finally Talienan has time to do the migration.
This is AWESOME. If we can put in anti-spammer screens so that I don't have to delete a dozen !)%(*!#%()* spammers every day, I will be a happier man. :)
|Thursday, January 21st, 2010|
|Sort of a rhetorical post
What are you supposed to do, when someone has said something which really upsets you and makes you angry, and in talking about actually sitting down to talk about it, they say want to talk about how each of us is feeling, and to be accusatory...
When the freaking problem they have is WHAT THEY SAID AND DECIDED?
|Friday, January 15th, 2010|
To those of you who were running dungeons in WoW with me yesterday.
I don't think trying to do heroic Halls of Reflection last night was a good idea for me based on my stress and frustration level.
I think what was possibly happening differently in the last trash wave was that the second-to-last, being tougher than the previous, needed some healing to the group. Or there were HOTs ticking. So the monsters were more inclined to go after Aviella, our healer, than to make a beeline for my tank. I think there's more of them too in that last wave. And I didn't manage to round them all up in time.
Not sure what to do about this next time. Ask everyone to stop doing ANYTHING while I gather them up?
Anyway, the thing that most concerns me about this is more about what I do this weekend. Do I go to night 2 and involve myself in hard execution practice, in which I and others are probably going to make mistakes? If I only go to night 1, honestly, I'd feel a bit guilty about not being there for the hard stuff. Like I'm mooching. But on the other hand... just doing night 1 might be what I need to do for myself.
|Thursday, January 14th, 2010|
|First entry in 81 weeks! WoW.
Get up, get coffee, go to work, come home, pick up food, play WoW, collapse into bed.
Is this worth it? I don't think so. I haven't even really played with my cats today, and it's time to sleep. How sad is that?
|Tuesday, June 24th, 2008|
|Monday, June 23rd, 2008|
|Shakespeare and Time
On the weekend, I went with my parents and sister to Stratford, Ontario, to see a couple of plays at the Shakespeare Festival there. We had tickets for "All's Well That Ends Well" and "The Music Man". (Yes, obviously, they put on more than just Shakespeare at the festival.)
Having now seen "All's Well", I can now say something I couldn't before: I have been exposed to a Shakespearean play that I really don't like.
Simply put, I didn't find anything redeeming about young Count Bertram. He came across as an unfeeling ass, and his "falling in love" with his wife after she's [i]dead[/i] is pretty unsatisfying.
And this undercuts Helena's actions. I liked the scenes in which she resolves to try to cure the King of France, and the scene in which she convinces him to try her cure was good. But after this crush of hers (the Count) spurns her and runs off to Italy... the underhanded methods to which she needs to and is willing to take just turned me off.
It's not that they're underhanded, but more that her character - to me - comes off as weak. I think that Portia, in "The Merchant of Venice" comes off more strongly. Both plays involve rings pledged to the husband which are obtained against their will. But Portia obtains it through wit and disguise, rather than having to substitute herself in place of the woman her husband wants to commit adultery with.
It's really that I think Helena should have said "fine, I made a mistake, I DIVORCE YOU, jackass, and I'll find someone worthy of my love."
This is not a play, I think, which has aged well.
|Tuesday, June 10th, 2008|
|Tree tour of the Mt Pleasant cemetary
On Saturday, I went on a "tree tour" of the Mt Pleasant cemetary in Toronto. This is a cemetary more than 130 years old on Yonge Street near Davisville Station. This was organized by a local group called LEAF - Local Enhancement and Apprecation of Forests - which is devoted to improving Toronto's urban forest.
Unfortunately, I have no pictures at the moment, because my camera's batteries were dead!
But, we saw some nice trees, including oaks, copper beeches, a tulip tree, and some trees from overseas. Those ranged from the good (some Japanese trees) to the bad (Norway maples, which are kind of a pest!). There were also some spectacular tombstones and monuments, particularly those of the Eaton and Massey families.
The Eatons are famous in Canada for being behind the Eatons department store (which I think was bought out by Sears some years ago). I'm not entirely sure what we ought to thank the Massey families for, but Massey Hall is a big music hall in Toronto built in 1893 and still in use. I saw Crowded House there in August 2007. The Eatons' monument looked like a Greek temple, with a collonade all around and two brass lions out front. The Masseys' had a cupola and a statue on the top!
I might go back with camera batteries and take some pictures.
|Wednesday, May 28th, 2008|
A couple of weeks ago, I went into a glasses store I heard was good. Not having an up-to-date prescription, I got an appointment with their "visiting" eye doctor who is only there Tuesday afternoon and evening.
So yesterday I got my eyes checked there and paid for my new glasses! These will be great; my current glasses have actually lasted since, I think, 1999 - when I went to Greece.
Anyway, I got home very excited to find a bubble-wrap package at my apartment. It was Liejacker, the latest Thea Gilmore CD from the U.K.!
Thea has a beautiful voice and writes songs which can be equally beautiful or biting and insightful. This CD is a real change of pace from her previous one, which had a lot of guitars and reverb.
It's kind of pointless to rant here about how hard it is for really good quality bands (read: the ones I like!) from overseas to do well in North America.
www.theagilmore.net has some samples
|Monday, May 26th, 2008|
|The Manuscript found in Saragossa
I picked this up by chance from the local library. It's a book from the early 18th century, written by Jan Potocki, who was Polish. It's very similar in construction to the Arabian Nights - tales are wrapped within tales within tales. But it's European (obviously) in origin - I wonder if the author had access to a version of the Arabian Nights at that time - set in Spain, and is about a young military officer and the strange and wondrous adventures he has in a deserted area of the countryside.
Parts of it remind me of Lord Dunsany's "Don Rodriguez: Chronicles of Shadow Valley a" but I suspect it's actually that Don Rodriguez is in the spirit of Potocki!
|Tuesday, September 21st, 2004|
Dear, well, everybody...
It has been a long, long time since I wrote a journal letter, which has made it increasingly more difficult to think of writing - because there's so much to tell! But in order to get on track again I have to start somewhere, so I thought I'd just write to let you know what I've been up to most recently.
I'm still in Yokohama, as you probably expected. It seems likely now that I will be here past January or February - probably until next summer! The reason for this is that a new office space likely won't be ready for us at the beginning of the new year. I can't say that I am too pleased about that, although maybe things are looking up here overall.
At work, we made it to our Stage A deadline with a lot of overtime, and are approaching Stage B. That means having the game run with music and configurable controls. I think we're doing pretty well on that.
This is a short week for us at work - Monday and Thursdays are holidays, and Friday we are going to the Tokyo Game Show! I'm kind of excited about it, because despite having worked in the computer game industry since the end of '96, I have yet to actually go to a conference or game show. This one promises not to have a lot of substance (it's not a conference) but it should be fun.
This past weekend was not tremendous, but I did do a few things. Friday night I watched my DVD of the John Woo film "Hard Boiled" along with some people who were going off to Kyoto and Osaka the next day. Sunday I went out to Roppongi Hills, an area known for a much heavier concentration of "gaijin" (foreigners) than other parts of Tokyo. Personally, I can't say that I was very impressed. Roppongi is a bit dodgy, with not very interesting shops in my opinion. Roppongi Hills is a big open-air mall and development area with an office tower, residences, movie theatre, and so forth. The best part of it was the Roppongi Hills Area, an open-air space for music. I caught bits of two difficult musical acts as I walked around. But otherwise the place felt pretty sterile to me.
However my main reason for going to Roppongi Hills was to see "House of Flying Daggers" (aka "Lovers"), a fantastic new movie from China starring Takeshi Kaneshiro, Andy Lau, and Ziyi Zhang. It's due out in North America in January, I believe, and if you saw and liked "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" I definitely recommend it. It's an action picture and a love story - and a much more complex movie than you typically expect from the label "action movie.
As far as the story goes, Kaneshiro and Lau's characters are policemen in 8th century China. They decide to play a double game with a blind rebel (played by Zhang); Kaneshiro's character breaks her out of jail and travels with her in order to expose the rebel group known as the "Flying Daggers". Obviously, however, things do not go as planned. The cinematography is excellent and the fight scenes very well choreographed. One scene, set in a bamboo forest, was so well done and so *beautiful* that I couldn't keep my jaw from bouncing off of the floor. The ending was a bit flawed, but obviously I liked the film a lot.
I rounded the weekend off on Monday with a trip to Tokyu Hands. Tokyu Hands is a chain of about 15 stores, mostly in Tokyo, stocking things ranging from kitchenware, furniture, and drapery to backpacks and bicycles. There are craft materials and DIY furniture like IKEA... which was my reason for the visit. I ordered a bookshelf for delivery which will arrive on Saturday morning. It was pretty inexpensive and should allow me to put my books (currently in my desk drawers) on the shelves, my papers in the desk, and have a tidier room.
Well, that's all from me for now.
|Sunday, August 1st, 2004|
Well, here it is Sunday again. It's been an interesting week!
When I last wrote, I was looking forward to going to What The Dickens pub in Ebisu, which is an area of Tokyo. I did go there on Tuesday night and it was a pretty good experience, but certainly not as much fun as I was hoping, partly because a girl that I particularly had fun dancing with on Saturday night didn't make it. However the Dixieland jazz band was extremely talented... Dixieland can be very fast which makes for some really fun and frenetic East Coast dancing. I also had the interesting experience of being hit on by a quite pretty Japanese woman looking to find a Western husband and get out of Japan. Somehow, apparently, the idea of immigrating first didn't seem appealing to her. She spoke better English than almost all of the other Japanese I have met. However, after chatting for a while, she moved on to talk to other people perhaps more open (unlike me) to getting married. As I explained to her, the potential shortness of my stay in Japan makes the idea of a relationship somewhat difficult. I particularly don't want to get involved with someone who might be looking for a marriage proposal before, say, November... in any case, the directness of her approach was somewhat offputting.
I should backtrack to Sunday night briefly, when Brian and I joined the Lithuanian employees at Koei with some Japanese and Singaporeans for a "potato pancake party" in the rec room at the apartments. It was not the best party I've been to, but it was pretty good. That particular space is essentially a large wood-floored room with a couple of tables, but no chairs, which it desperately needs, or some cushions to put on the floor to sit on.
More fun was the "nomikai" that we went to on Monday night. "Nomikai" is Japanese for drinking party or meeting. All of us Canadians, our boss Mr. Tomoike and team advisor Mr. Taga, Mani our translator, and Yoko Tsumagari (the head of Koei Canada) and her boss, the head of the Overseas Department, went next door for Japanese food and drinking after work. I tried sashimi for the first time (personally, not my favourite), drank beer and sake (which is really good, unlike some stronger Japanese spirits I tried at the potato pancake party), and we talked. It was difficult but interesting at my table because I was sitting with Mr. Tomoike and Mr. Taga, Yoko, and Danny, a Canadian artist. Most of the conversation was in Japanese and I had to sometimes get translations from Yoko. Still it was very enjoyable... we actually got the chance to speak with Mr. Tomoike outside of work subjects and I guess he got a bit tipsy too. Later this week, Brian and I had to give short (<1 minute) introduction speeches in front of the company meeting at the cafeteria. Tomoike jokingly suggested to Brian that he mention that was of his hobbies was "nampa" (hitting on women) or even that he was "nampa-sama" (King of Nampa)!
That company meeting was on Wednesday right before lunch, and I was a bit nervous, but it was all right because I'd already given the same speech to the people in my room.
On Thursday morning Brian and I and three Chinese employees met at a local government office to pick up our "Certificate of Alien Registration" cards. We then took the train towards work but were met at the station by Mr. Monden of HR, and we then went to the local branch of the Bank of Yokohama to get accounts set up. Now our paycheques can be directly deposited to our accounts. There were quite a few forms to fill out and stamp with a plastic cylindrical ink stamp, called a "hanko". Hankos are used instead of signatures in Japan, at least at banks and also for our weekly progress reports. (But as I discovered on Friday, people don't use their official banking hankos for those reports, but have cheaper company-issued ones.)
Friday, Brian and I did a bit of shopping after work - I picked up a frame, maybe 18"x24", with lots of clothes pegs, for hanging up clothes to dry on the roof. We ran into one of the Chinese employees and her friend, and talked with them for a bit in Japanese, then met with the two Mikes (Mike Doble and Mike Bond, both Canadians I believe I have mentioned before) and went downtown to Yokohama station for a late dinner at "T. G. I. Fridays", a Western-style Japanese restaurant. I should have taken some pictures but I don't know if I had my camera. The walls were lined with wildly assorted bits of Americana, and the waitresses were dressed in odd jean costumes covered in various buttons.
Saturday I spent a good deal of time re-reading a favourite book, The Phoenix Guards, did my laundry, and ventured out late in the day to buy a keitai (cell phone). Since I don't think I will be here as long as a year, I didn't want to sign up for a 1-year contract, so I tried to find a pre-paid keitai. I asked at a couple of stores, was redirected to a combini (convenience store), wandered into the game store branch of a camera firm, and finally found the actual camera store (although like Bic Camera, it seems to sell all sorts of electronics). I did manage to get my phone but only discovered towards the end of the purchase that the phone doesn't have any Japanese menus. However, I am managing pretty well - with a bit of help on the train this morning, I now know how to place a call, send a text message email, store people's information in my address book and use the address book to place calls or send email. What more do I need?
Today I was planning to play a game of Settlers of Catan (a great German board game) with Mike and Mike, but on my way to their rooms around 12:30 I met with some of the Lithuanians and Singaporeans, who were planning to go the beach. After some discussion with the Mikes, they decided to go, so I decided to go too. We went to a pretty good beach at Kamakura, which takes about an hour to reach by train. Kamakura is also a tourist attraction, as it has a lot of old Buddhist temples that I have not yet seen. But now that I know how to get there, it will be simplicity itself to return.
At the beach we met a couple of friends of one of the Singaporeans in our group, who already had a good spot with some plastic beach sheets to sit on. The beach was of a somewhat dark sand, and despite comments about some other beaches, it seemed pretty clean. The water was wonderfully warm, with lots of little waves to ride. While I managed to avoid being stung, some of the others had trouble with small jellyfish in the water. Otherwise, we sat around and talked, and played a partial game of Diminishing Whist. Mike Doble and I had a nice conversation which ranged from the depressing rate of smoking amongst Japanese women, to Canadian comedy - particularly the Frantics and Wayne & Shuster.
Returning to Yokohama, we tried to get into T. G. I. Fridays, but the wait was 40 minutes to an hour. So instead we went to a restaurant known to Inga, Greta, and Sameer - in fact they'd eaten there the night before. It was a Polynesian restaurant called Tiki Tiki... and as you might guess, when the Japanese go in for a theme, they do it in spades! The place had a unique decor and featured Hawaiian dancers. To our Western eyes it was difficult to tell whether these women were truly from Hawaii or if they were Japanese who had been trained in Hawaiian dancing, but it didn't really matter. I ordered a cocktail in a truly silly glass, and we ate a mix of food which, on reflection, didn't seem particularly Polynesian. There was a rice dish, a "Polynesian vegetable salad" which contained some tropical fruit but no unusual vegetables, some shrimp "ravioli" which turned out to be more like thin shrimp spring rolls, and (very good) seafood pizza. In any case, fun was had by all.
More pictures, including the beach and Tiki-Tiki, are here:http://kurisu.fotopic.net/c247124.html
|Friday, July 30th, 2004|
|Sunday, July 25th, 2004|