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--Random sputterings for the week.

--I got a few quite interesting responses to my last diary post and I thank you for your comments. It's been interesting to see how the feedback has changed as the focus of my advertising has shifted from UT boards to sportbike boards to role-playing boards. The thing is, I wasn't 'depressed'. I don't get depressed. Rather, I realize things. You can't make revelations of the truth go away with positive thinking.

--A man came over to fix my air conditioner. He had an infrared thermometer. This little gadget sent out a beam of light. Aim it anywhere on any surface, push the button, and it instantly tells you the temperature. These guys don't really knock much, and I was napping on the couch and still asleep when I realized someone was knocking so he just came on in. I was still asleep when he started taking temperature readings from a distance. And that little bit of gee whiz didn't help me build back up to reality.

--Spiderman is less than two weeks away. I'm ready. This'll be the kickin' assest movie I've seen in a long time. I also heard they're making additional hero movies: aside from Hulk, X-Men 2, and Daredevil, which I previously mentioned, there's also a Catwoman movie coming and an Iron Fist movie. IF sounds great--I love the lower-powered heroes. Although I'd like to see a movie with a good Nightcrawler. Iron Man and Silver Surfer would be two other great choices.

--Last Wednesday I was at school for 13 hours straight. I won't really miss those days. Won't miss speeches, science labs, statistics, or calculus classes. I did my 'decriminalization' speech. Tough crowd.

--I like student aid, specifically unsecured loans, as a government program for three reasons. 1. It's not an entitlement--you don't get money because 150 years ago your great great great greats might have been slaves or because of the shade of your epidermis. Everyone is eligible. 2. You pay back the entire loan with full interest. 3. It's an actual government program which encourages people to work hard, to improve themselves, to be productive members of society. In fact, I'd like to see these three be criteria for deciding the legitimacy of alot of government spending.

--The Crane-Iron Pentalogy (of which Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is one book) is coming to these shores in English translation. Simon & Schuster paid six figures for the rights.

--I heard about a new product: celphone dampers. Apparently they can install these in theaters, music halls, lecture halls, TV sets with live audiences, etc. and impede the phones from ringing/receiving calls. And I'm thinking, UNT needs these in a bad way.

--I downloaded the Freedom Force demo. This game, a tactical PC RPG featuring superheroes and an enormous city, is the second or third best-selling PC game right now, and it's only been out a short time. They're cleaning up. Anyway, got the demo home, went through all installation, then was greeted by a crass message warning me I needed DirectX 8.1 before the game would even load up. Voodoo5 5500 AGPs are great for UT and DirectX 7.0. They don't like DirectX 8.1. At all. There is no possible way for me to run Freedom Force on this computer.

--UT2003 (the goofy, misleading title for UT2) was reviewed by several sites. A select group of journalists got to play an alpha version. Frame rates weren't great. They were playing on a Pentium 1.8 GHz with XP and the fastest Geforce4 on the market and they said it dipped into the 30s with heavy action (all graphics up and at 1280x1024). The translocator has been neutered quite a bit and I say HELL YAH! I liked most of the weapons as they were described. Rocket launcher only holds three and shock combos have been toned down. Of course a Geforce4, a P4 or newest Athlon 1.x, and Windows XP will be virtually required. The detail level is apparently 10 to 20 times what UT was, in terms of polygons, textures, and lighting. The amazing part? They included TOTAL DOMINATION and FRAGBALL!!!!!!!!! Reader, you don't know what this means to me. Look, Total Domination was MY idea, and duo and I were two of the chief playtesters for Fragball for months. We were fragbert's [willing] guinea-pigs. I'm hopeful... but it may be that I don't get to partake of UT2K3. I can't really justify $56 every month just to play a game which takes time away from role-playing, school/studying, and being 'normal'. Factor in the cost of a 2 GHz machine with a Geforce4 or Geforce5 and XP and the game itself and the costs climb to the realm of unfeasibility and it makes me sad. It comes out in June or July.

--Mavericks play game one of round one of the playoffs tomorrow. I will miss the whole thing because of this idiotic project on UNT's water conservation. Suck me. Anyway, I predict they win this series 3-1 in four very very difficult and close games, then they lose 4-1 vs. the Sacramento Kings in round two in five not very close games. Nash is hurt. Dirk is hurt. Raef sucks hardcore. Finley has started slumping again (remember last year's playoffs?). Bradley is... well... Bradley. Same with van Exel. Look, I love Nash, Dirk, Fin, Griffin, Najera, and Wang, but just because you've got a group of great guys who are explosive and damned amazing to watch doesn't mean you're ever going to win the Finals with em. The Spurs, Lakers, and Kings can crush the Mavs at will.

--Layne Staley finally succumbed to... something. They said the body had been decomposing for quite some time. Oh well. I put on 'Dirt' in memoria. And as I listened, I marveled at the fact that this album's suite of songs depicting a junkie's downward spiral in the most gut-wrenching and genuine way were written over ten years ago. The surprise isn't that he died of an apparent overdose, it's that he lived for ten years without a lethal overdose. The album is still the heaviest-hitting and most authentic hard rock album I've ever heard. Makes Metallica's 'Black Album' (and Alice in Chains' other stuff) sound like some paper-thin bubba-yum pop by comparison.

--A machine gun round has a muzzle velocity of nearly 2000 mph.

--Two RPG settings I'm really digging are Mechanical Dream and Blue Planet. I might get em. I know I'm getting Wild Talents and Silver Age Sentinels when they hit (after Origins '02). I want to pick up a couple [carefully selected] Rifts sourcebooks and at least Transhuman Space from GURPS. And any Hero product goes without saying. But BP and MD... So different, so cohesive, so wonderful. Role-playing games have sure grown up in the past decade. Perhaps I will detail these games at some later point.

--SitRepOnline is online and can be found HERE. That is a great man. You don't meet people like Master Sergeant Jess Johnson every day, or even every year. Situation Report has become a weekly staple for tens of thousands of listeners and part of what makes Jones Overnight tick.

--It is a good thing I don't own the cars I owned last year at this time. I'd have to try to sell them out of county. New heavy-handed emissions testing in my county. I don't completely object to the testing itself, but I'd like to know what kind of inspiration the friggin' genius had who designed ONE SET LIMIT for all cars built '78 to '95. Do you think a perfectly-tuned, beautifully running 1980 model even comes anywhere near a badly-running 1995 model? The early cars never were as clean as the testing limit, even when running at peak cleanliness. Way to go.

--I was looking over a bunch of reviews of various steakhouses in Dallas and Fort Worth like Del Frisco's, Three Forks, Kirby's, Nick & Sam's, Saltgrass, Bob's Steak and Chop House, Chamberlain's, and Ruth's Chris Steakhouse (all those places I hear advertised on the radio all the time). And I thought to myself, "I want". $65 a meal per person and stuff, but dang I know people who eat at such places (along with the hundreds of other DFW restaurants) several times a week. The only time I've been was Del Frisco's when it was free (paid for by the drug company) and my gawd was it good. I mean, I don't sit around dreaming of these kinds of things, but I did a couple days ago. This is one of those 'finer things' that seem like another planet to me. Maybe I'll shoot ole Steve an email, I'm sure he's been to alot of these. Question is, would I ever be able to enjoy something so nice? Or am I a child of the 'personal economic Depression'? Is it irrelevant anyway? The nicest place I've been in the past six months is Hooters. I'll be back there a few times during these playoffs. It's a tradition. ;o)

--Sorry, I prefer chestbursting, cloaked, laser-targeting, bowcaster-wielding aliens to some peanut-butter-candy-eating-glowie-finger alien.

I finally got the requisite forms from Minnesota and filled out my taxes. This was a humbling experience. I had NEGATIVE income this year. Oh, I worked, some. And I got checks from MN. The market was such that my trust fund took a $25,000 bath in 2001. Thus, I was eligible, for the first time since I claimed Michael and M, for Earned Income Credit. And you know what? I didn't claim it. That's right, I told the government to keep it. Keep your stinkin' welfare. I don't agree with such measures, I'll be damned if I'm going to dip into that vat of entitlement. I'll fight to get back every dollar 'owed' me, but I won't take handouts.

--Feminism should be called Masculinism.
--I now have 48,000 bps, previously 28,800 bps.
--Sony is being sued for digitally removing the Samsung ad from the side of a building in NYC in Spiderman.
--In the first MotoGP race, Valentino Rossi easily rode away with the win on his four-stroke Honda.
--I have all the Earthbound music on MP3 and boy is it extraordinary. It hurts me to hear it, however. I roll critical failures on my EGO rolls, so to speak.
--In the seminal work The Closing of the American mind, Allan Bloom posits that the least intellectually open place is the American university.
--My brother's clan is big. And active.
--Who does Bryant Skumball think he is, anyway?
--My new favorite comic is Marvel's Thunderbolts. This is so good and so different, I may have to start a back-issue collection.
--There are over one hundred-thousand visa-violators from the Middle East in this country right now.
--Insanity can be defined thus: when one keeps on doing things the same way yet expects different results each time. This qualifies roughly half the people I've ever met for some degree of insanity.

--I don't cheat. I wouldn't cheat. I won't cheat. I'm not desperate enough to get ahead of everyone else. Once you've gone down that road, you've lost something, you've sacrificed something, you've started sliding down the slope. I really hope the survey results were erroneous. Seventy-five percent of current college students have cheated in college?

--Well, I also read a report last week that each pack of cigarettes is costing the nation $7 in medical costs. I'd love to see the tax bumped up such that overnight cigarettes went from costing $3/pack to costing $7/pack. I guess it would be more like $8.50/pack. Works for me.

--The Middle East's totalitarian regimes are all about control of ideas. They are afraid of ideas and so the government regulates what people can think and say. The ideas aren't allowed to grow and spread. Of all the fundamental rights I have enjoyed all my life, the most fundamental of them all has been the right to think and say what I want. This is so close to people here that it's right under their noses, hard to make out. It's the definition of something being taken for granted. Some people here have NO idea how great they have it and what the price of this extraordinary freedom and liberty was and is.

--A scientific “truth” does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.

--I suppose there are some nice things coming up: Spiderman, role-playing with Fred (Hero 5), the wedding, the NBA playoffs and hanging at Hooters (not at the arena), UT2003, the Sloan show, Summer School, the death of Yassir Arafat, the trip to Massachusetts, buying a motorcycle, a job or internship...

--Check out THIS picture. Nice--this guy, Pat Zircher, does Thunderbolts and is also doing the cover for the Champions book (written by New York Times bestselling author Aaron Allston). I trust it won't resemble THIS recent Hulk Dot Comic cover. I made THIS collage of various incarnations of one of my favorite Marvel characters. And I thought THIS was cool enough to post. Don't forget THIS Spidey poster. And you must check out Bob Ingersoll's WEBSITE which scrutinizes comic book happenings under the rigors of real world law.

--The doctor warned this guy that a needle-stick or something might hurt a bit. The guy says, "Doc, when I was in the war, the enemy threw a wire-fragmentation grenade into our bunker, and I jumped on it. It went off under my legs. When my buddies got me back to my ship, the doctor there had to pull wire fragments out of my balls with no anaesthetic. So you go ahead with that needle."

--Searching for a distant star
Heading off to Iscandar
Leaving all we love behind
Who knows what danger we'll find?

--I'm not invited? Well, I never was one to give a rat's fat crack as to whether I was invited or not. I go where I wanna go.