Saturday, October 28, 2006

Sigh... the Magic tournament tonight was pretty depressing. I won one round, lost three, and didn't bother to stay for the fifth. Losing's never fun, obviously, but this tournament felt worse than the last few of this format, even though my win/loss record was pretty similar. It seems like this may be as good as my deck will get.

The types of decks other people come with don't help, either. I mean, I've come up with a quirky, original deck that evolved over the course of more than a year* and I go to a game night and half the people there are playing several-hundred-dollar decks based closely on the winning pros. So what happens? I get squished, of course.

The bright side is, I think I came away from tonight with quite a few good ideas, or at least, quite a few things to try. Is Compulsive Research just a "win more" card for me? Do I need more beatdown? More Leyline interaction? Better counterspells? More counterspells, or more ways to get rid of permanents?**

But if I make changes along those lines and they don't pan out in the next tournament or two, then I'll probably bow to the inevitable and put together a version of a net deck***, or just go to Constructed**** tournaments less often. Note that I came in sixth at a recent draft tournament out of 24, if I remember correctly, which was pretty damn cool. If every Constructed tournament is going to go like the past few have, then to hell with it, I can find better things to do with my time. The game is fun for its own sake of course, but the negatives have been adding up...

* Not to be dramatic. Except for tournaments I've only spent two hours or so working on it in as many months, but still, I have invested some creativity in it.

** I'm leaning towards "yes", "yes", "no", "maybe" and "permanent removal". As always, I'll have to wait and see. That's another annoying thing: I have few chances to play outside tournaments, so my playtesting is at the events themselves.

*** As in, based on a template found online, the way to see what the pros are doing.

**** That just means the format where people bring their own pre-made decks. As opposed to Limited, where you get a random bunch of cards at the event to make a deck from, or Draft, where everyone chooses their cards from the same pool of cards.

* Wow, that's a lot of parentheticals. This is a blog entry, not a dissertation. But, well, I don't know who reads this after updates became so spotty, so I shouldn't assume that it's my friends who play Magic: the Gathering.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

It's hard to say how much I agree with Radley Balko on, but that doesn't keep me from loving this post.
This has already been hashed out before. The tiny country of Antigua filed a WTO complaint against the U.S. last year, well before this latest law was passed. Antigua won its complaint in March. The Bush administration -- free trade champion through and through -- has chosen to simply ignore the ruling.

What's interesting is that under WTO rules, Antigua is then permitted to retaliate. And what's really interesting is just how the plucky little islanders might retaliate:

There's no appetite for slapping trade sanctions on US goods; that would hurt Antiguan companies and consumers far more than Americans. Instead, the country may refuse to enforce American patents and trademarks. This would make it possible for Antiguan-based companies to produce knock-offs of American intellectual property, like video and music recordings or computer software. Such a tactic would get the attention of major US firms like Microsoft Corp. and entertainment titan Time Warner Inc. It would also put tiny Antigua's trade war against the United States on front pages around the world.

All of this could well mean a mammoth clash of wills and special interests is in the offing, with Big Pharma, Hollywood, Big Software, and RIAA butting heads with the moral crusaders, eBay, and professional sports. And that, of course, would be terrific fun for the rest of us.

Yet more problems with copyright law, yet more examples of the Republican coalition self-destructing - what's not to love?
I think there's a spy among us...

Yes, I'm referring to a specific picture, and yes, I linked to that page intentionally rather than copying said picture here. They are all worth seeing, and I post enough pictures here as it is. Other choice examples: "Trashcat is not amused", "Dude... Wait, what?", "I made you a cookie... but I eated it," and "the voices are telling me to kill you." But "I think there's a spy among us" is easily the best picture + caption combination, no question.

In other events, I don't know if it's my imagination or a bad week or what, but it seems like a twice-weekly publishing schedule gets the worst of both worlds, in terms of writing and deadlines. (By "both worlds", I mean daily on the one hand and weekly or monthly or freelance with flexible deadlines on the other.) It sorta feels like I find out about all the problems, but too late to do anything about it. I finished an article, and I thought it was not great - there were a few blanks I would have filled in if I could have reached the souce - but presentable, so I filed it before I left last night. When I get in, my editor has looong comments and questions about it. Some of which I should have thought of myself, some of which I did think of but didn't address adequately. I wound up spending more than an hour on that this morning, and the more questions I asked, the less it looked like was there to write about in the first place. Like it's not newsworthy at all, or at least won't be newsworthy until January, but I'm only finding that out after I've put some time into working on it instead of something that actually was newsworthy...

... yeah, bad week, maybe I should even just call it a bad day. Ah well, it happens. And lest anyone fear the integrity of the free press (*snicker*), it certainly is or will be newsworthy, it might just be early.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Goodbye, Panda. I miss you.

He was 12 years old. That's not very old for a cat, but his littermate Coco died four or five years ago now, so I guess there was something about the family. He had to be coaxed or carried out of the cellar lately and he had had diabetes for a while, but that wasn't what killed him; at least, not the only thing. A week or two ago, my mother noticed that he was in pain and she took him to a vet down in Brandon, the only one she could find after hours. I think she said it turned out to be only a urinary tract infection or something. She got medicine and a treatment regimen for the next few days. The problem itself might have been minor, but for various reasons we didn't really think he'd last very long... we were right. Tuesday, mom called me as soon as she got home from work to say that he was dead. In fact, he had been dead for hours - he was stiff, his body holding open the door to the cellar, where the food and litterbox is.

He was a great guy. "A class act," as dad called him later that night. Unlike his nephew Felix or our adopted stray Gray (who we put to sleep almost a year ago), he wasn't friendly with strangers at all. But he followed me around whenever he could. And he had this cute high squeaky meow, which he used a lot, answering his name or just being friendly. If he was on a bed or some other place around waist height, he'd often try to hook me as I went by - "pay attention to me!", something like that - which I made a game of whenever I could.

There's a story I tell everyone about him. Unfortunately, he grew out of this and finally learned better, but it was the funniest thing in the world until he was four, maybe even six. All cats like high places, of course, and most cats like to have their bellies rubbed. But Panda, the poor guy, tried to mix the two together sometimes. So if I saw him sitting on the edge of a bed or the top of the stairs, I'd go up to him and make your typical "coochy-coochy-coo" noises, or maybe pet him on one side, and he'd roll over--
and the next thing you'd hear would be "meowthumpthumpthump" as he rolled down the stairs.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

I joined a high-end raiding guild a few weeks ago in World of Warcraft... and it might seem counterintuitive, but I've actually wound up playing less because of that. Heh, my dad would be caught between glee and suspicion on reading that sentence, but there it is. For one thing, I think I'm done grinding for reputation with the factions that need it, and I'm bad at some types of farming and uninterested in the rest. But more importantly, now that I have the option of raids on MC or ZG or Ony, I couldn't care less* about 5-man instances or battlegrounds. Whining idiots yelling at each other to play even more defensively for a few hours? A ninth attempt at a 45-minute Baron run? A UBRS run falling apart after killing the Beast when the tank gets disconnected? Pshhh.

But the raids require a several-hour chunk of time, relatively uninterrupted, unlike that other stuff. So after the third or fourth time I got invited by the rogue leader to join a raid, only to tell them that I would only be on for a few minutes, I began logging on for a few minutes less often. These days I log on for at least three hours or not at all... and I have five pieces of Nightslayer to show for it. :-)

* I couldn't care less on my rogue, at least, my oldest character who had done almost everything there was to do except for the end-game raids. My other level 60 character, a druid, still has quite a few 5-man instances in his future.