log (2004/05/14 to 2004/05/20)

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What did you say?
Thursday, May 20, 2004  permanent URL for this entry

So I'd just like to say that women are among the best entities in the universe. And although I say this just after getting home from picking up the little daughter at a dress rehearsal of her ballet company, I don't mean just exquisite graceful athletic healthy young suburban women. I mean them, and their mothers, and sisters, and grandmothers, and maiden aunts, and tenth and 100th and 100,000th cousins on all the other hemispheres also. And that woman with her feet up watching TV and eating ice cream and thinking about when she was young and wanted to be a ballerina, but never took lessons. (And especially M; but that's different.)

Women have neat voices. Their bellies do that wonderful curvy thing just below their navels. They give birth to babies. They laugh and cry and read and write, and look good in clothes. They have deep and mysterious minds, and no matter how much they open themselves up to you, they're still unfathomable.

(Sure, I know some of this stuff applies to men, too. But we've been over that; they still don't smell right.)

How could anyone not love women? I wonder if that's somewhere deep down in male homophobia. Yeah, there's all that acculturation about sex between men being icky and all. But maybe deep down there's also the awful fear that, if women are allowed to marry each other, us heterosexual men will have a really hard time getting dates.

Probably not. But it's a pretty thought somehow. (And not original, I know. I don't care about that tonight.)

So anyway, deep and abiding thanks to all women and other females out there, on behalf of us non-females; thanks for putting up with us. We know we don't deserve you, and we'll try not to be so much bother in the future.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004  permanent URL for this entry

Yesterday and this morning, on the floor below this meeting room, the New York State Democratic Party was having its annual convention (or something). They had some tables selling scurrilous T-shirts and buttons and stuff expressing less than complete respect for Our President and so on. I bought a "One Nation Under Surveillance" button.

Some Democrats wear strange hats.

And relatedly, on the drive to the train station this morning I was listening to Air America Radio. It was mostly annoying, for many of the same reasons that right-wing talk radio was annoying that time I listened to it the other year. Smug self-amused people with a shallow grasp of the issues, crudely preaching to the choir (quire).

I was somewhat surprised by the ads. I would sort of have expected lefty ads, for organic food and day-care centers and Zen monasteries and Quaker summer camps and so on. Instead, it was all sleazy-sounding health products; someone out there thinks that Air America's audience is balding overweight people with allergies and sleep problems, and a high gullibility factor.

(Speaking of the train, last time we mentioned it readers wrote:

next stop Glenwood
I live in Irvington!!! Next stop Ardsley!

Note, though, that the 06:47 express from Croton-Harmon doesn't stop at either Irvington or Glenwood.)

Subject: please dont hate me proletariat

Subject: fantastic.. I knew you would come through wilderness

Subject: i love you too... ive been waiting for this to happen typeset

That first one's especially funny, in a Marxist sort of way.

From Medley, a very nice first-person account of some recent marriages from the Daily Kos: I think the rice is out of my hair.

And also from Medley, the very cool Playing With Time. When I grow up and have lots of free time, I want to take a picture from the same place on my back porch every day for a year.

From I forget where, Amazon Essentials; music that Amazon thinks everyone should listen to. (There's all sortsa clever stuff like this hidden away inside Amazon; I wonder why they don't make it more visible? Or maybe I've just ignored the teasers because they looked too much like ads or something.)

So this computer is still all zorched, and the network in this meeting room isn't working very well either, so I dunno when it'll be when I actually get to post this. But if you're reading it, it probably means that I have.

Monday, May 17, 2004  permanent URL for this entry

People are funny.

I was in Manhattan today, and having somehow gotten turned around I found I was walking west (or perhaps east) on like 43rd Street, instead of walking north on like Park Avenue like I thought I was, so I asked a passing confident-looking woman if she knew which way was North.

She just sort of frowned.

"Where are you going?" she asked.

"Fifty-first street," I said.



"Ah! You go two blocks that way," she said, pointing, "and turn right."

I thanked her and went off that way, and it was in fact the right way. But I thought it was funny that while she knew how to get to 51st and 7th, she didn't know which way North was.

Maybe if I'd asked her which way was Uptown...

On the IT front, all of the Windows machines around here are all zorched up. The laptop here never comes back from hibernation (failing to do so in a variety of interesting ways), and generally turns out to have crashed if I leave it alone for more than an hour or two. And the old Windows 98 machine in the playroom has frequent random crashes in the print spooler, and somewhat less (although still much too) frequent crashes in the OS.

The iBooks are fine.

Touch wood.

So I mentioned the other year that in the universe I grew up in there was no famous SF writer named "Hubbard". I've recently found another difference between that universe and this one: in my original universe the music person called "Prince" was known only for his curiously having changed his name to a funny symbol. But I heard on the radio the other day that in this universe Prince was one of the Big Names in music in the 1980s, wildly influential, and everyone knows his songs, and all like that.

Very odd.

Friday, May 14, 2004  permanent URL for this entry

Little bitty worlds are so attractive. Has anyone played in one of those little bitty worlds where hundreds and hundreds of people from all over the (great big) world play at once, using the "Internet"? I might try one of those sometime.

If people go into little bitty worlds as a form to escapism, to not have to worry about the paycheck for awhile, will they (will we) eventually start to take the little bitty worlds more seriously, and need meta little bitty worlds to meta-escape into? After a hard day fighting to keep the Orcs from overrunning the town, will there be a little silver-piece operated game machine in the tavern, where you (or your character, which is the same thing really) can get away from the harsh realities of the real ("real") world by piloting a space ship or something?

But that'd be silly.

On Final Fantasy X (something that, I'm amused to note, I've thought about in these pages before), a reader writes:

Interesting. I think the monsters you sometimes fight are the most important things in Final Fantasy *.

Interesting indeed! I have found that as I get further along in the game the monster-fighting part has become somewhat more interesting, in that I have more options to use when fighting the monsters, and it's fun to watch my progress around the Sphere Grid and so on. But still, the monster fights don't really seem to be the heart of the game for me.

Maybe this is partly because they're so easy. General random-monster encounters are pretty much automatic: "Ah, one of those flaming bombs; Yuna's aeon number 2 handles those"; "Ah, a flying thing: bring up Wakka to throw a ball at it"; "Ah, a dog-shaped thing: it'll be too fast for most people, but Tiduß will dispatch it easily". My party hardly ever takes any significant damage.

Even the Boss battle against (well, not to give anything away) that powerful Boss-type in the Guado Temple: it looked scary at first, but I had Yuna cast a few NulX spells and Tiduß cast Slow on the main bad-guy while we felt out the situation, then brought up one of Yuna's Pokémon aeons in Overdrive to off the annoying Guardian things and the scary thing with the hood, then a couple of spells from Lulu and one nice 7000-point Spiral Cut from Tiduß, and we were done. No one seriously hurt at all.

(The Abominable Snowman boss a little later on was harder; I actually had to (gasp!) use up a few items to win, and to use a Phoenix or two on Kimahri after the Snowman's "massively damaging punches" attacks. But it was still pretty easy.)

Part of this may have to do with my play style in these games. I tend to be very thorough, peering into every corner, trying every possible thing in a given area before moving on to the next area, going back to previous areas when I think of some new thing to try (or just because I've gotten confused and forgotten that I already went there), seeing how far you can fly if you jump off the windmill while holding a chicken, and so on.

In games like Golden Sun and FFX where there are infinite numbers of wandering random monsters, and where fighting random monsters makes you more powerful, this tendency to spend lots of time exploring and messing around rather than advancing to the next cut-scene results (perhaps) in unusually muscular parties.

So the little daughter says that I'm 'way higher level than I'm supposed to be at the place where I am in "Golden Sun: the Lost Age" (level thirty-odd, just landed in Lemuria). Maybe I'm more powerful than I'm supposed to be in FFX also, and that's why the battles are so easy. And for that matter maybe I'd be annoyed or stressed if they were harder.

So anyway the battles can be kind of fun. (How much can I have Rikku steal from the monsters before we get around to slaying them? How many encounters in a row can I do without anyone taking any damage? Can I win this battle with completely the wrong set of people on the front line?) But still the heart of the game seems to be the cut-scenes. Rikku's admiration of Lulu, Wakka's ongoing crisis of faith, Tiduß's various heritages from his father, and the underlying mystery of Sin.

Since it doesn't look to me like I have any control over what happens at the cut-scene level of the game, it's still (for me) essentially an animé with some monsters to fight on the side.

Which is fine, really. It just took a few hours of play to figure it out.


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