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Apr. 10th, 2007

The annoying side effect...

I've been jamming out to GH2 on Xbox 360 - even though I have it for PS2 - and it has a rather unfortunate side effect.

It makes me want to pick up a real guitar and start retraining myself how to play. See, I used to have a Gibson Les Paul about 12 years ago, but eventually gave it up.

Of course, affording a new guitar is the real trick, I suppose, especially since I want quality, not some crappy sold-at-Walmart guitar.

Anyhoo, I have my dentist consult appointment today. The more I think about it, the more it kind of irks me. I have to go to the dentist so he can tell me what he'd like to do and then shuffle me out to the receptionist to have me schedule another appointment, undoubtedly a month or so away, before he actually does any work. To quote my friend Bob, "Less talk, more doing" and "I don't give a shit about the how, just the end product". I have to say I agree. Today is just a waste of gas and everyone's time. I know what he's going to want to do. How about we just get down to business and get it done?

But this brings me to today's rant: The newest US Army ad.
In the Army ad, it lists all these things "your child" could become in the US Army. However, I'm a big proponent of truth in advertising, so I've decided to re-write the ad to be a bit more truthful.

"They could be Medical Technicians (but they'll be infantry because we need boots on the ground.)
They could be Computer Technicians (but they'll be infantry because we need boots on the ground.)
They could be Airplane Technicians (but they'll be infantry because we need boots on the ground.)
But no matter what they become, they all started here.
[Flash to a home setting with a teenager talking to his parents about the Army.]
So if your teenager talks to you about joining the Army, listen.
You made them strong, we'll make them Army Strong (by training them to use this rifle we give them, shoving them into the infantry or infantry supply units, shipping them out to a hotzone immediately after basic training and A school where they'll likely be injured for life, physically and/or mentally, or maybe even killed for a pointless war with no exit strategy that has done nothing to improve the safety of the United States.)"

There. Truth in advertising.

Apr. 5th, 2007

Losing friends, whee.

I guess being gone for a while didn't help much. A lot of people on my friends list removed me from their own so looks like I'm only talking to about 3 people anymore.

One is myself.

Sigh.

Apr. 3rd, 2007

Long couple of days.

I should start off mentioning that I sold the mp3 player. If anyone looked at it, thanks.

And this brings me to the real post.

From about the 28th until yesterday was a long couple of days.

First, I decided to splurge and got an XBOX 360. However, since I don't have HDTV and I wanted to take advantage of the HD capabilities of the console, I also got the VGA cable so I could play it through my monitor. The only downside is I can't have both my computer and the XBOX running at the same time due to the way my stupid house is wired. It would pop a circuit breaker for sure.

Playing it through the monitor means my desk setup is pretty damn swank. I'm totally flanked by electronics which geeks me out. I've decided not to trouble myself with a Nintendo Wii for quite a while, mainly because all my friends have one so if I want to go play some Wii sports or anything, all I have to do is walk about 200 yards up the street.

If anyone would like to add my gamertag as a friend, my gamertag is Captiosus77. My game library currently is: Gears of War, Lost Planet, Dead or Alive 4, Project Gotham Racing 3, Dead Rising, Kameo, Crackdown and Halo 2. I have Guitar Hero 2 in transit (yes, even though I have it for PS2), as well as Blue Dragon and Halo 3 [Legendary Edition!] completely paid for preorder.

And that brings us to the sad part of the post.

On the 28th, I decided to call our vet and find out if the rat that had been abandoned at the office was still there. It had been 3 weeks since she was abandoned and taken care of at the vets (she had tumors and was spayed), so it had been proper quarantine for my other rats. She was still there and they were happy to get her to a home where she'd be cared for.

Bertha was a loving little thing but it became immediately apparant that she had some sort of neurological damage because one side was very weak. It wasn't bad enough, however, to keep her from being able to do things, but she just didn't have grip in her one side so she was prone to falling. Over the course of the weekend, she got progressively worse until yesterday when I found her lying on her side and flopping about trying to get back on her legs. I picked her up and tried giving her a treat but she had lost ALL grip. I called the vet to see if they had noticed any of these similar issues and they said they had not but asked me to bring her in.

The vet who had originally rescued them from being abandoned outside was there and took a look at her. Diagnosis? Strokes. Not just a stroke, but small strokes that cascaded into a much larger one. Needless to say, the options were grim and the prognosis was dire. Collectively, since it was the vet, the vet techs, and myself who had cared for her, decided putting her to sleep was probably the best option. And so Bertha, who got to live the spoiled, loved life for 6 short days exited my life. Sigh. At least she got to spend the end of her life in a home instead of being in a vet hospital looking for a home.

Pets are entirely too much of an emotional rollercoaster some days. But I'll probably have them all my life.

Mar. 27th, 2007

For Sale

For Sale:
Creative Zen V Plus, 4GB MP3 Player with Accessories.

Ebay wouldn't let me do a fixed price option because I don't have enough positive feedback yet (I'm a new seller there).
I kinda need the money and don't use this thing at all. It's brand new (one month, 4 days old from purchase date) and works well.

If anyone on my friends list is looking for a small capacity MP3 player with FM radio capabilities, please bid; I'll probably shut down the auction early once I get someone interested since I can't do fixed price yet.

Mar. 24th, 2007

The long wait..

Wow this is going to be a long wait.

My next dentist appointment is April 10th and that's just a "consult" appointment to detail the plan to fix my neglected teeth. This wouldn't be so bad if I didn't have one that was broken at the moment. Until recently it didn't hurt at all, but now... wow. Tylenol doesn't even begin to dent the pain. It doesn't appear to be an infection but good god, another 2 weeks before I can see the dentist and ask for something to help me endure till he does the actual root canal(s) is going to feel like an eternity.

As if that wasn't bad enough, I know the release date for Halo 2 for PC: May 8th. So now I'm waiting for that, too.

Being impatient sucks. Being impatient and in pain sucks double.

Oh and on a completely unrelated note, my PS2 has decided that reading disks is no longer part of its function, so I have a pretty door stop now. Sigh. I know I've been contemplating getting an Xbox 360, but haven't due to finances, but it looks like the PS2 is trying to force my hand on the issue.

Mar. 19th, 2007

Color Me Cynical

Just heard this from a Senator on MSNBC (to Tim Russert):
"I have a lot of faith in the White House Counsel. I know him you know him, he's been in Washington a long time..."

Color me cynical but when someone's "been in Washington a long time", I'm less inclined to be trusting of his capabilities because he's been there long enough to know how to play the "politics game".

Things have finally settled down.

As the subject states, things have finally settled down.

My mom got out of the hospital on Jan. 31st, exactly one month after she went in. She has a permanantly implanted stent and an AICD (internal defibullator), so for the first month she was home from the hospital she needed help from myself and neighbors to get stuff done. She's finally starting to recover enough to be a little more independant.

As for myself, nothing is terribly new except for the fact that, when I turned 30 in January, something in me changed. I'm tired of my dismal lot in life and realize I'm the only one who can fix it. And so, with that in mind, I've made many positive steps to try to get my life back on track:

First, and foremost, I started organizing my house as a prerequisite to organizing my life. My house was a complete wreck and I was dreadfully tired of it. I'm, by no means, done with the project yet but my house isn't quite the embarassment it used to be. During this organizational change, I also built a new PC and cancelled the time (and life) consuming MMO subscriptions I've been paying for, both Warcraft and City of Heroes.

Secondly, I'm tired of being embarassed about my teeth which I have neglected for far too long. So, earlier this month, I found a dentist, went to have a complete exam and build a "battleplan" to fix what I've foolishly broken. This is one of many steps I plan on making to try to regain some of my waning confidence. This has also prompted some lifestyle changes, such as monitoring my diet and switching to diet, low acid colas instead of the high sugar, high acid drinks I had been swilling. The dentistry will take months, but it's worth it.

Third, I'm working with Strayer University to get the financial aid conundrum of 2005 fixed so I can continue, and finish, my education. I have 52.5 credit hours going to waste and I would like to finish my BSIS degree. In a similar situation, I've begin reading certfication self-study books so that I can update and retain my certification marketability.

Fourth, and finally (for now), I've begun studying and practicing Buddhism.

These are just a few of the things I've been occupying my time with.
Also on the agenda is to quit this smoking crap and get a handle on my anxiety and panic attacks.

I'm 30 years old, I shouldn't feel 60. I should feel like I can take on the world. But I don't and I only have myself to blame. However, instead of dwelling on the blame and the problems, I am able to correct my mistakes.

PS. Say what you will about Microsoft, but I LOVE WINDOWS VISTA ULTIMATE! I've been using it since release and I can't look back.

Jan. 4th, 2007

Happy New Year?

I spent the better part of New Years Eve into New Years Day keeping my mom company in the Emergency Room.

She had a heart attack due to blockages.
She's been in the hospital ever since.

Yesterday, they put in a Stent (she also had a cardiac arrest on the table) and sent her back to CCU to recover and she looked really bad. Stable, but bad.

Today it's become painfully apparent that the only way she's maintaining a stable blood pressure is with the Dopamine and the microscopic balloon pumping machine they have her on. While I was there, they tried to drop the dopamine dosage to begin weening her off of it. Within an hour she woke up from her drug induced sleep and began motioning towards her chest. A nurse finally came over and my mom began gagging so they had to do suction from the ventilator.

Then they took her blood pressure. Before they dropped the dopamine, she was staying around a 127/X systolic. One hour after they dropped it, 99/X.
Since they won't take her off the balloon machine or ventilator until her blood pressure (and blood gases) normalize, weening the dopamine off is the first major step.

The nurses won't say this but it's clear the only way my mom has anything close to "stable" blood pressure is through the drugs. A 2mcg/kg decrease in dopamine dropped her systolic by 28 points. If they can't get her off the dopamine then they can't take her off the machines. Which means at this point the dopamine is the only thing standing between my mom and another cardiac arrest.

I'm wondering if her heart is too weak now to actually pump without medicated or mechanical assistance. The nurses try to be optimistic but I'd rather them give me the straight dope or even the worst case scenario so I'm not wondering why she's not getting better when they say she will be. Then again, I'm smart enough to understand what all the machines are in the room, what all the charts mean (except maybe the EKG, never been able to decipher that one), what the drugs she's on do, et cetera.

And right now, I'm really concerned because if they can't ween her off of the dopamine and she has to be on it and the machine to survive, I have to enact her Living Will.

In short, 2007 is starting off very poorly for this household.

Nov. 17th, 2006

PS3 Thoughts

Originally posted by me on the WoW Community Forums in a discussion about someone price gouging a PS3 on ebay:

Maybe I'm just becoming an old fart - 30 this January - and becoming nostalgic about old consoles, but.....

No way I'm paying 500 to 600 dollars for a PS3.

First off, when the PS2 was launched, DVD-ROM was already a set in stone standard and players were available and had been gaining market share for quite some time. Blu-Ray is not in the same position. Blu-Ray is one of two competing next-gen digitial video standards and this is Sony's attempt to leverage their position as the "leader" in game consoles to push their Blu-Ray agenda.

What happens if Blu-Ray flops like DIVX did? What happens if a better next-gen digital video format comes out and THAT becomes the standard. Oopsie. 500-600 dollars on a blu-ray system, down the trash.

Secondly, I agree with the poster who wrote the PS3 brings nothing more innovative to the table than better graphics. It's the same old button mashing, half-arsed sequals-to-sequals game console experience. Tony Hawk 8, lolol. Seriously. At least the Wii, even for having the worst name in history, brings something new and fresh to the table. For all they hyped the Cell processor, it has reported technical limitations that will hurt the console over its lifecycle because where developers can take a whole new angle developing for the Wii, the only thing they can 'innovate' for on the PS3 are the graphics. Oh, ah.

Third, I think Sony has lost their mind over "digital convergence". I read some article a while back how they wanted their PS3 to be a gaming console, multimedia center, internet capable browser, et cetera. And with all the doodads they've thrown onto the PS3, it looks like they're trying to take that path. Hey, Sony, it's called a PLAYstation - let's not forget that. If I want to spend 500 dollars on something that I could use as a media center, internet browser and a gaming device, I'd buy a computer. Oh, wait. Already have one of those. This is why Wii will eventually win - they focus on being a console game system, not some halfbaked console/computer hybrid.

All in all, I'm not impressed with the PS3. But Sony, by being Sony alone, will probably sell all their PS3s, rake in the big bucks for the holiday season while having a poor library of games, many with bugs, until well into summer of next year. All the while they'll being laughing as they skip and dance with their Q4 Quarterly Earnings report.

Oct. 16th, 2006

The direction of the "new" World of Warcraft.

World of Warcraft.. what drew me to it two years ago?

I had dabbled in Warcraft here and there in the past. I'm not a super huge fan of Real Time Strategy games, but Warcraft was fun and had a good storyline.
I had dabbled in MMOs in the past and found them to be fun, despite being costly.

When WoW hit the shelves, I knew I had to get it.

What makes WoW entertaining for me? The fact that it's not your run of the mill MMO. The characters we can create are still confined to the Warcraft world: Horde had shaman units, Alliance had paladin units. Along with this, all the races had their own unique racials. Encounters were designed around this uniqueness. What Alliance groups could do, Horde groups had to find a different way and vice versa - because we weren't all the same.

Also, it was still Warcraft at its core. In the beginning, player vs. player combat was definately a throwback to the old RTS. Large scale battles between the Alliance and Horde between Southshore and Tarren Mill to determine the future of Hillsbrad Foothills, for instance.

Slowly but surely, Blizzard Entertainment has destroyed the uniqueness of this game, and, along with it, the Warcraft brand.
Why, you ask?

First, they added "instanced" PvP - the now infamous battlegrounds system. Along with the battlegrounds system, they added a brand new honor ranking system which included "dishonorable kills" for killing certain PvP flagged non player characters in enemy towns. This effectively turned PvP into yet another grind, grinding for both honor and faction, and killed World PvP because one dishonorable kill would nearly, sometimes completely, ruin your entire honor gains for the week. In another blow to world PvP, blizzard added guards to neutral towns such as the goblin towns of Gadgetzan and Everlook, and the new Argent Dawn base of Light's Hope Chapel in the Eastern Plaguelands. Any PvPing in the vicinity of the guards will have both PvPers slaughtered by the guards and taking item durability damage.

In a desperate, pre-expansion, attempt to revitalize world PvP, Blizzard gave us two very half-assed objective based PvP venues in the zones of Silithus (where each side must collect sand and take it back to their base) and Eastern Plaguelands (where each side tries to control 4 dilapidated towers). The rewards for these objectives are pathetic, at best, and no one even bothers participating in them anymore.

They are including a lot more objectived based world PvP in the expansion, including the ability to capture and hold neutral towns. However, at the same time, they're completely doing away with the honor system in its current implementation, letting everyone keep their highest rank, getting rid of the rank structure, and removing everyone's honor to zero. Battlegrounds will still be around, but now all purchases for PvP equipment must be done with honor points earned after the expansion hits and the "meat-and-potatoes" of PvP for high level characters will be "Arena" matches in which you will fight both the opposing faction as well as your own... what? Why would I be fighting fellow Horde in Azeroth when our enemy is the Alliance and the rest of the races hell-bent on destroying our world and way of living?

Second, with the expansion, the uniqueness of the factions - Horde and Alliance - are being thrown right out the window.

Blood Elves, the new Horde race, will be able to be Paladin units.
Draenai, the new Alliance race, will be able to be Shaman units.
And rumors are circulating that Blood Elf priests will get a form of the Fear Ward racial trait, previously limited to Dwarves only.

After the expansion comes out, it won't matter if you pick Horde or Alliance - other than cosmetics, they'll be identical. Both factions, supposedly at war with each other, will have identical classes and the uniqueness of being the only faction to have Shaman or Paladins will be gone. And for what reason? According to a Blizzard Community Manager on their forums it is because they want to be able to program future encounters once, involving all the classes. Translation: They're fat, lazy and don't feel like dealing with the uniqueness that made Warcraft different.

Third, the economy will be in ruins for anyone not going into the new content. It has been confirmed by several Blizzard Community Managers that gold will be much easier to obtain between levels 60 and 70. This means for anyone who is not level 60 yet, inflation on existing sellable equipment will increase ten-fold or more, practically overnight. If gold is that much easier to obtain for high level characters, the people playing the bulk of the game - the One-to-Sixty grind - will find themselves at a severe disadvantage to the point where purchasing items from the Auction House may actually become completely impossible.

Fourth, in a slap to the face of almost all the healer classes, Blizzard has decided to programmatically "break" any addons or macros which logically target a player or logically cast a spell. This means a large majority of addons and macros which most healer classes use will no longer be able to be used. Healers are already the most stressed, and least appreciated, classes in the game and now they're hit with a huge nerf. Meanwhile, Blizzard has remained suspeciously silent when people have asked if they plan on rescinding earlier nerfs to spells which they incorporated over the course of the last year to discourage use of these automated addons. This leads most of us to believe that they are not planning on rolling back those nerfs, essentially double-nerfing healer classes with this change.

Fifth, and finally, their "talent" updates leave a lot to be desired. Warlocks and Hunters got almost nothing but complete buffs to new talents and spells - both of those classes are already considered godly by most people who play the game (even fellow hunters admit they're a bit too powerful) - meanwhile, priests, druids, mages and rogues all got lackluster reviews and situational, crappy spells. Combine point four with point five and you have a recipe for a mass exodus of healers to DPS classes (mostly Warlocks and Hunters), leaving a game that is already short on healers (remember, it's a high stress, thankless job that most people do not have fun doing) even shorter.

There's a lot of whining about raiders gear becoming outdated rapidly after the expansion hits. Personally, as I am a raider, I don't agree with the people who are whining and actually look forward to being able to progress, even if that means taking my "Epic" gear off for "Rare" gear that has better stats. On the topic of itemization, I'm perfectly fine with how Blizzard is implementing things and actually look forward to it.

All in all, the "new" direction of WoW leaves me wondering if I even want to bother with the expansion. In a series of announcements, Blizzard has transformed World of Warcraft into just another MMO, eradicating its uniqueness due to laziness. If I wanted to play an MMO where everyone had the same choices from the start and the economy was boned, I would have stuck with Everquest 2.

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