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Legally binding

overlord
I had jury duty earlier in the week. Nothing too interesting: litigation- a ca accident where the guy who got hit was suing the woman who hit him.

However, it's really bothering me today. Not the case itself, but an asspect of it. We learned, after the fact, that whether or nor a claimaint wears his seatbelt is inadmissable in court because a jury may deem him neglectful and decide more in favor of the defense. As it should be!! If you get injured because you weren't wearing your seatbelt, your grouds to sue have been significantly reduced. We were asked to deliberate based on the evidence, our experience and common sense.

The court system wants the jury to be impartial. Yet the very system disallows us to be so by stating that certain facts cannot be brought to our attention. The Trruth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. The institution itself is neglecting the basic foundation of our legal system.

This is just one point, what others are there? How badly are we really bound by the system to do our civic duty?

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Clash of the Titans

overlord
This is the second movie that I am aware of off-hand that I have seen both the original and the remake in the theater, the first being Star Trek.

All in all, it was an enjoyable movie. My big issue, as always, is jerky camera work- whatever happened to the days of a camera mounted on a cart to keep it steady? I'm sure sticklers will find lots to complain out. The new movie has the same basic plot, and even has some of the same characters and villans. But it is NOT the same movie; different motives, different relationships, new characters that weren't there before. In fact, it's been a few years, I think I'll have to pop the original into the DVD player this weekend.

The movie did feel a little rushed, and it is considerably shorter that the epic-length original.

Mass Effect 2 - a casual gamer's comments

overlord
I saw that Mass Effect 2 was out by seeing someone's facebook status saying that it kicks butt. The next day I stopped at Best buy and picked it up, and played it for a few hours, not quite getting into the story. The next day I got this link from Fidgit: http://fidgit.com/archives/2010/01/ten_things_gone_terribly_wrong.php Reading this, I started getting worried, but after around 25 hours of gameplay, I have my own opinions.

1. OMGz!!!! it's 2 discs! Both disks are for the game- first one I've gotten that's like that. If you are the type to install to your hard drive, be sure to install both discs before hand, otherwise, mid-game when you get asked to switch discs, you will suddenly be plagued with slow map loads.

2. Heavily dialogue driven. I have a friend that wants to chat everytime he sees I'm on XBL- this makes it very difficult to handle some of the missions because the hints you need are given only in dialogue. I do like this feature, and hope that more RPGs adopt this going foreward.

3. However... The dialogue with crew members is abreiviated from the last ME, you typically get 2-3 rounds of conversation then they blow you off until it's time for their side quest.

4. Weapons. Finding bigger and badder guns is always one of my favorite pasttimes in RPGs, though inevidably, you come to the end- in ME1, you get to the Specter Gear X weapons and you're capped. But here, they have almost gone to the polar opposite. To Date, I've located an alternate to each weapon type, the rest is done through generic squad upgrades (upgrade damage for squad shotguns 10%) I miss the customization of the first game. But the manner in which you find out about the upgrades is cool. There is a decided lack of weapon damage numbers- granted, it can be assumed that alternates you find are more powerful and prototypes even more so, but I'm in engineering, I don't believe it until it is proven- they're just lucky I'm not an engineer from Missouri! And what the dillio is with "thermal clips" The whole concept is more rediculous than the weapon concept of the first game- in principle, you still never need to reload your weapon, but without a thermal clip to disipate the heat it won't fire? I miss my SCRAM rails and Frictionless materials!

5. Continuation. This has impressed me the most so far: The game can import your ME1 character and several of the choices that you made there are reflected in this game. I haven't hunted to see how far it extends, but what I have seen is very nifty!

6. However. And nearly all sequels fail in this respect: continuity. I like to see the same priciples carried over from game to game. Fallout 1, Fallout 2 and Fallout Tacticas all advanced on one another, but the technology and use thereof remained the same. Now we go from weapons that overheat to weapons that MUST use a heat disipating clip. Individual weapons, armor and upgrades to generic, all inclusive (is that redundant?) weapons and upgrades.. and what the hell happened to armor? Yes, they are fine concepts, but use them in another game, not to make a continuation of a previous game less continuous.

7. Mini games. I have to mention this, only becauise Fidgit did. IMO, Fidgit had an excessively biassed opinion, but he mentioned it at the start. I do prefer the mini games as opposed to the "Simon Says" of the first game. The hacking makes my eyes buggy, but that's about it. Resource hunting is reminiscent of RTS games, but at least you don't have to worry about getting attacked whilst doing it (or do you...?)

8. Swapped controls. In ME1, I was constantly hitting "B" in the galaxy map to zoom out, only to exit the interface or throwing a grenade when I intended to go to inventory- these defaults are no longer. But if you are used to and comfortable with the ME1 controls, you may have difficulty in the galaxy map as "X" and "B" have been swapped.

All in all, it seems that Bioware is attempting to merge RTS, FPS, and RPG into one game. It's not quite there yet- but it's certainly progress. As you can see, I have a few beefs with the system, but most are just noticable points that may be good, ill or indifferent depending on who's playing. What this franchise needs is co-op Live play

The spirits, they haunt me

overlord
I like to think I am a modern man. I'd like to think that I have a keen, questioning mind. However, I am also supersticious- not really Friday the 13th or hold your breath passing a graveyard supersticious.

I've had issues with my cars- I usually buy old clunkers and by nature they are prone to ... eccenticities. My last car, a 1985 Camaro Z28 showed a distict aversion to going to NY. The car suffered from few problems, until I got on the highway to go to NY. In fact, when I went to an airsoft game at Ft. Drum, NY- where I was meeting up with a bunch of players to carpool to the game in a van- the car started to overheat- until I convinced it that I was only going to Chikappee and then it was fine.

This summer I bought a 2006 Solstice. Not new, but very low mileage and still under warranty. First trip to NY was fine, but before the 2 subsequent trips, I got a check engine light, that, in one case, went off as I was leaving NY and in the other, went off when I decided to not make the trip.

A number of my cars have also been problematic in heavy, stop and go traffic. Now the Solstice has developed a pattern of throwing a check engine code when I am in such traffic, only to clear after a few strat cycles of normal traffic.

Each case is fairly insignificant in and of itself- but take it on the whole- my past cars in recent memory, they all show a very similar pattern. And after all, isn't it consistancy that we look for to define things?

My conclusion: That there is a spirit or *something* that has attached itself to me, and chooses to interact through my cars. Or, somehow, my unconscience mind can extent it's negative energies to my cars and wreak havoc with electical and mechanical devises.

2 cars sharing some of the same tendencies- especially when they are of the same vintage and/or technology can easily be passed off as mere coincedence. 3 vehicles of the same vintage start to say something more. But a 4th, and of a completely different technology base is is, for me, certainly cause for pause.

Following up on speculation

overlord
As a followup to my previous post, Heather is not dead. As a matter of fact, she is living large in sunny Cali. I found her on facebook and got a rather entertaining email back saying "Andy I remember well, PJ to a lesser degree, but your name doesn't seem to click..." We went back and forth for a while and she was certianly amicable about it. Even after certain... confessions.
overlord
I was sitting on my couch, reading Off Armageddon Reef by David Weber. I had just read a section where an underling told his prince that another noble didn't care for him. "That was rather forward", I thought.

*bam* Instant flashback. I was a junior in college, I shared a 2 bedroom suite with 2 roommates, one of whom was currently sick and had recently been trucked off to the hospital. There are probably the better part of a dozen of us in the sitting room, taking comfort in each others' company. Heather, a girl that I actually liked and assumed she viewed me as just a friend, was sitting on the floor, playing with my shoe laces. Playfully, I told her that if she untied my shoes again, then she'd have to sleep with me. Some time later, I looked down and my shoes where untied and Heather trying to look innocent, even incredulous as I reminded her what I said. It was all light hearted and never , OK, Half, meant and soon, as moments do, the moment passed.

Andy had to stay overnight for observation, and it was very early in the morning when we got the news. Hearing that he was OK, our vigil was over and people started leaving. Now, Zack has a thing for Heather too, and it is widely known. It's also widely known that Heather is frightened of Zack. Zack opted to spend the night on our couch, Heather asked us if we thought Andy'd mind if she slept in his bed as she was uncomfortable with going back to her dorm hall alone, and that she didn't trust Zack not to follow her. Andy and I share the same room.

Heather asked if he could borrow some clothes and I lent her some sweats and a t shirt. She starts to get into Andy's bed, hesitates then says to me "I hope this doesn't sound to forward, but can I sleep with you?" In retrospect, I don't know how that can be taken innocently, but it was 5:00 in the morning and to my sleep deprived brain, it sound like she just needed the comfort of a friend, maybe she even said that she didn't want to sleep alone. At any rate, I made room for her and we slept together. As in, I slept and she slept, together, in the same bed. I think she was offended, or at least hurt that I didn't make any advances. Not that I didn't want to- I had a hard time falling asleep with her next to me- but I was very tired and I didn't want to betray the perceived trust. Heather transferred to another school after that semester and I have never seen her again, though I have tried a little moderate internet snooping.

Part II

I posted the title of this blog on facebook.

And as I did so, I remembered what my Mom had said over Thanksgiving about how she had a song stuck in her head that her recently departed aunt used to play on the piano. And, as it turned out, her sister had the song in her head as well. Then it came out that my Grandmother had a number in her head that turned out to be my Grandfather's serial number in the army in WW II and he's been dead for 30 years. We all came to the conclusion that it was cases of the dead trying to make themselves known to the living- based on what some had seen on reality TV.

So, as this goes through my mind while I'm on facebook, it makes me think. Is Heather still alive? I highly doubt that I'd meant enough to her for her spirit to visit me. But then, why had that memory hit me so strongly at the mere mention of the word "forward"? Or perhaps, all I need is some counseling, or to get laid.

A LARPing we will go

overlord
Well, they've blocked myspace at work now, so it looks like blogging will now be on LJ.

I was asked to go LARPing this past weekend, Lovecraftian Steam Punk. I used to role play when I was in highschool and college and I play airsoft from time to time- so, why not? It was a long day, starting early- on the road at 7:00 to meet up with others at Salem to go to Merrimack, NH.

I found it amazing how people who will be such sticklers when it comes to dress and role play will bend the rules so much for combat. Here are people that have probably spent hundreds of dollars on their costumes and their weapons are nerf guns and "boffer" swords (PVC pipe or tent poles wrapped in foam and duct tape). More so than the quality of their weapons, the quality of their sword play. the swords are very light and flexible enough to have very little inertia. They have a bunch of rules to prevent injury which leads to a series of quick taps. It's quite ridiculous actually, giving the effort put into the role play that they treat the combat so- like they were wielding a fencing foil and 3 quick taps on the arm can "kill" you? Preposterous!

Thank goodness I was an NPC- put there strickly for the roleplayers to have fun with. Had I payed money and put time and effort into a costume and weapon, I would have been extremely annoyed.

I went up with the acquaintance that called me and his girlfriend, a Mechanical Engineering (technology) student at Wentworth. It made me feel a little lecherous, hanging out with a girl a dozen years younger. We got along great- two mechanically inclined individuals- even working as a team when I decided to fix the door knob. And I would have fixed it too, had the Parks guys not insisted that I leave it for them to deal with in the morning. It left me feeling a little empty inside, knowing that I could have figured out how the know works and could have repaired it.

Surprisingly, I was not the oldest on there. There were 2 gentlemen there that had at least 15 years on me. Though one seemed to be more into realistic sword fighting and the other... I can only think that he drove his kid up and just wanted to help out to kill time.

All in all, it was entertaining and I did get a good workout- boy am I sore now. Though I highly doubt I will ever do that again. Some of them take it way too seriously, and I, after watching how combat plays out, cannot take it seriously enough.

Best quote of the weekend- when several football players were sitting at the edge of the field watching us kill time "They probably wonder why a bunch of furried are in a softball field beating the snot out of each other"

My thoughts on Battlestar Galactica

overlord
A.K.A. A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away....

I'm not pulling any punches here, so if you haven't finished watching the show yet and don't want to know what happens, DO MOT READ PAST THIS!

I had loved this show! Unfortunately, I couldn't watch it as religiously as I would have liked and once I missed an episode, I couldn't continue on and I'd have to wait for the DVD to come out. Last week I finally bought Season 4 and finished the finale last night.

I have had discussions with friends about how it's a shame that the show was only going to be 4 seasons long- and we've known this almost from the start. But to look at it from another way- many long standing series just get unbearable to watch towards the end. Take Angel and Buffy for example: those last seasons EVERY episode the fate of the world was at stake. You can only up the ante so many times.

BSG wasn't just a series, it was an epic tale. Certainly some episodes could be skipped with their little side stories, but for the most part, the show needs to be taken in as a whole. As any series, there were quick recaps, but they don't do enough if you've missed a few weeks. So, what is that tale? It's a sci-fi Illiad, rift with lessons and morals- political, social, theological, logistical and personal.
Even the wise make mistakes, while I did not like Laura Roslin's character and her almost bi-polar antics, she was a character of diplomatic reasoning but her own prejudices would often cloud her normally sound judgement.

Adama? Adama was the first realisticallty portrayed military leader I think I have seen on television. Were usually starship captians frequently put the ship on the line for the sake of a single crew member, Adama often sacraficed crew or civillians for the survival of the fleet. Extending that was the Galactica itself. Galactica was a warship, not an extravagantly armed science vessel or a giant waste of resources for the sake of looking cool. She was hanger and engine and provisions and nerve center, everything else was an afterthought: much of the crew was bunked and even officer quarters were cramped, save the Captain's.

The cylons were a bit of a conundrum. May of them were 2 dimensional characters, each one embodying a specific trait, only a select few evolved beyond that, and only by extreme circumstances- which is itself a lesson of sorts. A person will generally not change their opinion on something save through their own, often extreme experiences. The only ones that survive are the ones who have managed to move beyond their racial grievances. Towards the end, there was a spat between a 6 on the work crew and a tech repairing the hull of Galactica- despite the apparent animosity, the 6 save the tech at the cost of her own life when there was a blow out.

One complaint I've heard repeatedly, was the resolution of the show being, more or less, an act of God, and alluding to it being abrupt and hastily written. From at least the episode "33", there has been a theological theme going on: Baltar with his visions of Caprica slowly, and none-to-gently bringing him around to worshiping one, true God; The prophecies of the Colonials and the constant questions of Faith, a recurring theme with Starbuck. That Starbuck managed to jump Galactica just outside Lunar orbit- was that a bit cheap? Maybe, but I don't think so. She wouldn't had been able to do that in season 1, certain characters needed to grow to reach that point, and not just one, Hera, the Five, Starbuck and not to mention the desperate situation that put her near the FTl controls. I do think that, if anything else, the only thing that the show really suffered from was for the writers' ability to fully conceptualize their ideas, or maybe the director's to interpret it.

The story could best be summed up by Lee's words to his father as they walked the steppe about breaking the cycle by forsaking their technology that "Our minds get farther ahead than our hearts"

Little kids

overlord
To preface this, I am a 33 year old bachelor. To me, children are still considered punishment for enjoying sex.

I got a phone call from a friend last night, asking if I'd like to join his family for dinner. It's a bit of a trap though, because asking that way, gives you the oppurtunity to politely refuse. The question gets asked first as "what are you doing?" If caught offguard, you back yourself into a corner where you have no choice but to say yes. Lying to a friend is just bad, regardless of why, but at least in this case, I was trying to fixe Levi's grease gun- though I had already relized it was a lost cause.

The problem is, these friends have a toddler. And they take her with them whenenver they go out. As a baby, she was good, even though conversations were frequently interupted by the parents exclaiming over how cute something is that the kid was doing. But now? Now it's different. They have no real concept of disciplining the kid, so there is a 2 year old sticking her fingers in the butter and the appetizers, interupting conversation, generally causing a fuss and being an annoyance to the rest of the customers. The father, at least, has the grace to be embarrased by the child's antics and attempt to alieviate them. The mother on the other hand, is of theopinion- voiced it, even- that "everyone goes through that stage" and thus thinks it is alright. An opinion I absolutely cannot abide. Yet I know it is not my place to say anything on the subject. So I have decided that I will politely refuse when they ask me to dinner, when I know they have the child with them.

I know this is eventually going to cause trouble. The wife has a tendency to get mad at people who are upset with her, for whatever reason. And eventually the question will get asked and I will have to tell them the truth of it. Initially, it was under the hope that they realize why- but I know that is a foolish notion, now I admit it is simply a way to avoid a rather expensive 2 hours of feeling uncomfortable.

After all that I see, I cannot believe anyone that tries to tell me of the joys of parenthood. To me, it seems to be a 18 year trial of endurance. It very well may be that the family line ends with me simply because someone elses child won't let me eat my dinner in peace.

Playing war at an Army base

overlord

This is an advertisement of sorts.  I play airsoft, a game for military wannabees, hasbeens and washouts- with a smattering of real life heros.  That's not entirely true, I know that this sport has put some good men in uniform, sending many boys over seas and by the Grace of God, most come back.  Despite what comon sense decrees, airsofters are generally not regarded as posers, actually, there seems to be a good relationship with the military.

As such, Ft. Drum, home of the 10th Mountain Division, will be the site of a major airsoft game this Memorial weekend.  You can view the offical website here: oppineplains.chairsoft.net/news.php

Those who went last year consider it the best event they've been to, at least the ones I spoke to, and some of them have been to games across the country, a few internationally.