just like real life.

Sometimes, I wonder. I have had glasses for two years, which I mainly got due to the terrible headaches that I developed during my “stare at the screens under florescent lighting” workdays. I can safely say that they have made a big improvement. The headaches have gone, for the most part, but I still have some of the nagging, astigmatism-inspired “doublish vision” and still mainly don’t have three dimensional vision. Though I am certainly closer to it then ever before. Psycho-somatically, I sometimes wonder if they had worsened my vision as, when I take them off, things are certainly fuzzier than I ever remember them having been before. But I suspect that is hogwash.

Regardless, sometimes I wonder. But today, though, my daughter took me to my first ever 3-d movie. Even with the 3-D glasses on, my 3-d experience wasn’t completely whole. But, boy… If I took off my glasses an just wore the 3-d ones? It was like not wearing the glasses at all. What a mess. I am very glad that I brought them with me as I briefly had thought about not doing so, “thinking” that having to wear both pairs of glasses at the same time would have been annoying. What a mistake that would have been.

P.s. The Lego Movie was really great. I am ready to watch it again.

oh, bother…

Why am I, nearly nine years after my first blog post (All the fake all the time), staring at the Add New Post editor again? There have been a number (6, 7, 8?) of blogs that I’ve started in those years, most of which went nowhere. Realizing I’ve had nothing to say seemed to not be enough to stop me from pretending that I was trying to say something. Finally though, a year or a year and a half ago, I wrote my last three posts. One here, one at the Runescape blog and one about a few movies over at the big blog. Then, there, that. I was done.

Then, today, I found myself again wandering through the blog of a guy I know, Why I Cry, and it led me to think that maybe I would throw another post on here. I don’t know what to post about. The reasons I used for the starting of most of my blogs have moved away from me. I’m not still trying to catalog my movie watching, so there is no need for that blogging anymore. I’m not playing Runescape anymore, so there is no need for that blogging anymore. All I’m doing is family stuff (which I am not going to blog about), looking for a new job (which I don’t want to write about) and selling records, which is already online and isn’t worth adding blogging for.

So, eh? What? Nothing. Hence the new subtitle of this blog. On the other hand, I have found writing to be somewhat therapeutic. While that isn’t how I envision doing anything on this blog, maybe just the process of writing posts here (or even just this one post) will help me along. I don’t know. But here it is.

God’s Maggot!!

Aiyee. So here we are. I have moved this blog from its tired old pseudo-spot at jotunheim.penguindevil.com to its own domain… So no more Jotunheim. But I don’t think I’ll change anything else about it… A somewhat more respectable location I think. Plus I hadn’t been doing anything with this domain anyways…

Of course, I am certain that it won’t lead to any upswing in blogging but, you know, who the hell cares? I have other things to contend with… Like commutes, family and a new obsession with Tiny Tower.

Recently, to make room for Christmas, we did away with any pretense of a desk for me at home. Now that it’s gone, I just couldn’t imagine hogging up all that space to put it back. So, without my big monitor and keyboard, I am having to face the reality that I use a dreaded laptop for a computer. I still try to pretend that it isn’t Windows though! And I think I have put an end to my years of failures to accept Ubuntu (most especially now in light of this irritating trend of making GUI’s looks like they are for tablets. Ugh) by installing Lubuntu! I do like it. I have been having some stability issues with the Lubuntu desktop option, but the LDXE is working just fine for me so far… Even if it is a bit dated in appearence, thank the gods.

Also, I have been getting much use out of dropbox lately. I like being able to write something in Writeroom on my phone and have it appear on my home computer, and my computer at work! I keep think it will lead to more writing progress, but, instead, it just leads to more unfinished blogposts being accessible from anywhere.

Magic protective sex rocks?

So in the midst of people mispronouncing Oregon yesterday, I had a word flash through my mind, or well, the notion of a word as I remembered the existence of a word, but was unable to remember the word itself. After many failed googles I finally emailed my mother with what information I had…

So I was trying to remember the name of something today. I used to work with this fellow who carried around this stone. It was like a little crystal wrapped in tin foil and wire or somesuch and is was supposed to protect him from cosmic rays or bad vibes or something. it was some kind of metaphysical stone that I thought it was called something like "eurygon", "aurygon", "Orygone" or something like that.

He got the idea from the writing of some 20th century philosopher (who I think had an institute somewhere and was maybe controversial). I thought it was maybe Jung or Steiner or someone… but I am having no luck finding out verifying any of this.

For probably the first time, her knowledge of these strange sort of topics came in handy for me. 

It could of been Reich who coined the word orgone, or something like that. But that was from the Orgone machine that he created, that ended up having powerful radiation that was eventually made illegal, and he was put in prison.  As far as a crystal wrapped in foil, it could of been some offshoot from this.  Reich was a famous psychologist who had some very valid ideas, especially movement techniques that were very helpful for mental problems, and now many people use a variation on his ideas.  I am not so sure about his Orgone machine, however..  He thought that you were getting energy from the spheres or something like that. You were put in this box he had created. 

He called it the Orgone machine.

So thanks to Ma for figuring out who it was that I was trying to think of and their magic protective sex-health-weather rock.

See, a few years back, I worked with this guy who was into odd things like the Japanese government manipulation of our weather by their chemical seeding of jet contrails and it came to light one day that he also carried around a protective rock of some kind. I seem to recall that it was wrapped in foil or somesuch and then bound in wire?  Anyway, what I was trying to think of was what he called that rock. And I now think that it was a modification of an Orgone accumulator and, so then, si why mispronouncing of Oregon is why I remembered it.

Wilhelm Reich believed in a form of energy that he called Orgone, which was the key to human health. He created these metal lined boxes for people to sit in called Orgone Accumulators, which would collect this energy, as per wikipedia:

Reich designed special "orgone accumulators" – devices which ostensibly collected orgone energy from the atmosphere – for purposes as diverse as improvement of general health, increase sexual potency, and weather control.

Orgone and its related concepts were quickly denounced in the post-World War II American press. Reich and his students were seen as a "cult of sex and anarchy," at least in part because orgone was linked with the title of his best-known book The Function of the Orgasm, and this led to numerous investigations as a communist and denunciation under a wide variety of other pretexts… In 1954 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration successfully sought an injunction to prevent Reich from making medical claims relating to orgone, which prevented him from shipping "orgone devices" across state lines. Reich defied the order and was jailed, and the FDA took that opportunity to destroy any of Reich’s books which mentioned orgone, along with research materials and devices.

Honestly, I would assume that he was another quack looking to profess wisdom as a way of attracting the ladies to his therapy couch (and "freeing" them with his magic Orgone energy)… But I think that any statements made by the post-WWII cold-war paranoid American press about anything are generally misleading BS and the level of backlash from the federal government and their attempts to destroy all of his devices and everything he wrote about them does make the conspiracy nerve in me wonder a bit… That and the fact that he died in prison.

And yes, he was also into working with controlling weather via cloud control

This all leads me to a vague recollection of, back in my Robert Anton Wilson days, reading Wilhelm Reich in Hell. I wonder if I still have those books? I could sure do with a rereading of that book and Ishtar Rising: Or, Why the Goddess Went to Hell and What to Expect Now That She’s Returning and also the awfully titled Coincidance.

Resolving…

Well, with all my whining about advertising and the evils of microsoft, apple, facebook and google, i decided that i would try out a new years resolution… Which is:

To stop using internet services that support themselves by datamining their users.

To this end, i want to stop all usage of:
Google.com (while logged into anything on the same browser), google+, gmail, facebook, flickr, twitter, etc.

To compensate I will use only email and hosting (including images galleries) that I am paying for, use opensource browsers (currently SRWare Iron), move any “social media” activity to Diaspora.

That’s all that I can think of at the moment… But if anyone has any additional ideas or thoughts… Well, feel free to impart them!

Decisions, decisions…

I spend way too much time trying to settle on a MP3 player on my computer. Though, due to us owning two iPods and two iPhones, iTunes is never far away, I am always trying to settle on some other program for just plain playing music. Even now, what with our AppleTv2 I am still hoping to find that perfect solution. See, iTunes is just too damned big, bulky and skittish for me. It is so unresponsive that I sometimes feel mean thoughts towards it.

Recently I did start moving most of my listening to Foobar2000 (not syncing, though, I haven’t quite got the nerve up for that). My only real requirements are that is be willing to show album covers and that it can scrobble reliably to Last.fm (which, by the way, iTunes only does reliably for songs you actually play through iTunes… AppleTv and iPod/iPhone plays are not very reliably scrobbled), so just about any player can match those.

This weekend though, I decided to download Spotify (the free version). I was surprised to see that it is rather iTunes like in appearance, but functioned much smoother, even with all of the bells and whistles and advertisements. So I decided to do a casual speed comparison on my work computer.

I basically looks at how long it takes to start, how smooth it functions, and it’s resource usage as per the Task Manager. Due to the buggy nature of iTunes, I consider the Starting Time to be the time from clicking the icon, until the program will actually respond to clicking.

Spotify:
5 Seconds to start
172k Memory when playing
0-2 CPU %

Foobar2000:
5 Seconds to start
49k Memory when playing
00 CPU %

iTunes:
14 Seconds to start (see below)
135k Memory when playing (see below)
0-2 CPU% (See below)

The above statistics make Foobar look to be the lightest player of these, which I suppose is true. But it is also much different functionally from the other two, and it’s good performance may be partially due to the few modifications that I have made to it.

Aside from startup time, iTunes and Spotify looks pretty similar from the above statistics (and, in fact, look pretty similar stylistically). But that doesn’t show the whole picture. See, iTunes continually stops responding. It can go for a few seconds then for 10-20 seconds it is non-responsive. Note that it continues playing while in this non-responsive mode, but any attempts to interact with the program fails and the display doesn’t update. When in this state, its memory from to 96k and its CPU goes to 0.

So I’m just not sure. Due to the iPhones, I don’t know if I will stop using iTunes altogether (though I sync my iPod through Foobar), and I’m not sure why I am even looking at Spotify… But I am. Just to give it a fair chance to wow me with some feature that I can’t get through Foobar.

Just to be fair, these programs are all accessing the same 26,000 song library on the same computer (3.0 Ghz Core2Duo, 4 GB RAM, 32bit Windows 7)

God save me…

Got the mail today… Recently I been browsing the MusicDirect Fall sale catalog and ogling the Denon DP-A100 Turntable (among other things) that is currently 40% off.

denon-dp-a100-turntable-selectism-0

Well, so today I got their full 2012 catalog. Oh trinity!!

Pages of wondrous turntable, Tube amps, headphone,s speakers, accessories and an extensive selection of great vinyl reissues… Including those from Mobile Fidelity! Too much want for one 200 page catalog. Sigh, MusicDirect… You scoundrel’s.

Plus, it all serves to remind me that I need to do something about my turntable at some point. I’m not even sure anymore how many years the motor has been dead (or, I’m assuming that is the problem). The Rega motor upgrade that I had been eying for years (which would supposedly up the performance of my 13 year old Planar 2 to more along the lines of a Planar 3) has now be replaced with some $200 upgrade that I just can’t get myself to pay for. While this $1,500 Denon looks temping (and they go up to a crazy Avid turntable that will set you back 20k), I suppose that I will continue to go with the Technics 1200 that I have been borrowing for the last couple of years. Which, mind you, I have no complaints about. I’d just like to have my own, functional,  table again and this all just rubs it in…

Fubar…

As I am sure I all well notorious for, I harbor a general dislike for all web browsers, email clients and media players. I recall ones I liked back in the day (Netscape Navigator, Eudora and Soundjam), but those are all long gone (or just too long in the tooth)… So I spend many and hour switching back and forth trying to settle. While currently I use Firefox and Opera for browsers (I would use opera exclusively if it could reliably open all websites), Outlook and Thunderbird for Email, I have basically settled on iTunes for music (except for in the land of Ubuntu). Now, I dislike iTunes as much as the next person, filled with bloat, slower than hell and skittish… but I use it because I like some features of it and, of course, for my iPhone and iPod. I have tried many other players on the market (Foobar, Songbird, Amarok, Clementine, MediaMonkey, Rhapsody, Rhythmbox) and never liked any of them…

But for a long time, I have felt like one day I needed to just switch to Foobar. As long as I can not mess it up… Which can be pretty easy to do.

After screwing up my last install by adding themes that didn’t seem to work and then installing it yesterday again and screwing that up by adding in too many window splits that I couldn’t figure out how to delete, I reinstalled and paid more attention.  And, so far, I am feeling it this time…

 

foo

 

And, well, I really like it. It is fast to open, responsive, clean… I like its minimalist appearance, and I am being careful with it! There was some functionality that I felt the need to add… To get my existing playlists and to get the data to last.fm and such… I used the GUI version of iTunes Export to export the playlists that I have in my iTunes install at work and then imported them. I installed the following dll’s:

foo_audioscrobbler (to scrobble to my last.fm profile)

foo_facets (to get the genre,artist, album menus

foo_playcount (to track the songs I play)

And, while the tweaking may be a bit of a bother at first, in the long run, I think that it will be advantageous. I still need to ponder setting it up to work with my iPod, depending mainly on if I can get the last.fm scrobbling from the iPod to work with it. And now that I have imported all of the iTunes playlist, I need to figure out how to change the sort order of the list of playlists because, as you can see from the screenshot, they don’t seem to have been imported in any notable order.

Those halcyon days of yore…

Finally, you can all relax… It is time for the long awaited follow-up to my Freaky Freaks post of a year and a half ago! This was actually brought on though by the news at they.mislead.us that this is Play A New RPG Month!

And, yes, this topic is actually something that I do ponder occasionally… My history with (non-computer) role-playing games. Like many of my um, well, peers?, RPG’s played an enormous role in my teen years. Unfortunately, with all my games being in storage and with the many years have passed since the events have occurred, I can not wholly vouch of the accuracy of some of these statements.

It all started sometime in 1981 when Matt Ward gave me a brief introduction to the game at the landing at the top of the NE stairway at school.. After(?) that, my mother got me the red box set of D&D Basic and I was hooked!

I still remember the moment that I came up with the name of my first character, and I put him and his gang of cronies through the included Keep On The Borderlands module over and over, until I just couldn’t take it anymore… Which I doubt took long. From there I hopped straight into buying the “Players Handbook, Monster Manual, DM’s Guide, Deities and Demigods” quartet of Advanced Dungeon’s and Dragon’s books.

This land was to be my primary home for the next few years. While I am not quite certain what years these were, I know I have the 1981 revised Basic Box and that when I switched to AD&D I ended up with the original edition of Deities and Demigods (according to wikipedia The Cthulhu and Melnibonéan mythologies were removed from the 1981 edition, but they were quite present in the edition that I had), so all of this might well have happened in 1981. The Dieties and Demigods was (and is) a big issue to me, as I was (and am) a big fan of all three of the literary mythologies that were included: Lovecraft’s Cthulhu, Moorcock’s Melnibonéan and Leiber’s Newhonian (from the Fafhrd and Mouser stories).

I am pretty sure that I spent most of the summer of 1982 doing nothing but playing AD&D. By myself… in my room. Primarily using the Random Dungeon Generator in the DMG. The key moment of early obsession that I can remember is the purchase of Dragon magazine issue 62 (May 1982). That magazine really helped to turn it from an overplayed hobby into a near obsession. At that point I would head to the local game store, Endgames, everyday after school and hang out. My allowance was just enough to afford 1-2 modules and that month’s new issue of Dragon Magazine, so that is where it all went.

But, regardless of lack of certainly around the events of 1981, I can unequivocally state that I did little in my spare time but RPG from the summer of 1982 through the summer of 1986 (except, of course, for when I was playing Dig Dug and Robotron 2084 at the arcade). I even took the Dungeon’s and Dragon’s elective at school (the after lunch period on Friday’s), when a good number of us would hang out in the cafeteria for a couple of hours. I don’t recall that elective being offered for very long… Though I mainly played solo, I did have other times when I played with people. The summer of 1983 I played continually with my friend Kevin and my girlfriend in 1985-1986 was RPG-friendly so I would play with her and/or some of our friends in that period. But gaming was primarily a solo pursuit for me.

Though it does sound like I did nothing but AD&D, I actually did branch out, probably in 1982-1983, whenever I got extra money. I got TSR’s Top Secret (pub. 1980), the game of international espionage (probably the game that I most enjoyed actually playing), Chaosium’s Stormbringer (pub. 1981) (which I rarely played, but needed because I loved the Elric books) and GDW’s Traveller (pub. around 1981). Traveller was the best fit for my personality… because you never actually had to play it. You could spend hours and hours creating spaceships, characters and designing solar systems… Just preparing to play the game was a heady task and, with all of the math needed to put the solar systems together, I remember feeling like my mind had never been as sharp as it was then.

AD&D, Top Secret and Traveller consumed the lion’s share (probably 98%+) of my RPG time over the years. But my love for the games lead me to continually buy and try out new ones…

The greatest of those was the Rolemaster series from Iron Crown Enterprises (pub. 1980-1982). What I usually call the best RPG ever made. The vast number of rules and attention to detail made the game, maybe not the most playable, but certainly the most impressive. Though I was never much one to play with spells, the Spell Law book is most fascinating in its depth and breadth. And after playing within D&D’s rather basic experience system, I found the system laid out in Character Law to be very involving and inspiring!

I also played some of FASA’s Star Trek the Role Playing Game (pub. 1982), an awesome game with a fantastic selection of game supplements (the ship construction and Klingon ones are must-have’s!) and I even got the obscure Fantasy Wargaming book (1981-1982), which I never tried to do anything with, but was quite fun to browse.

After that most of it was silly accumulation. I bought West End’s Paranoia (pub. 1984), a humorous game of living in a future dystopian city, Palladium’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (pub. 1985) (’nuff said), FASA’s Mechwarrior (pub. 1986) (along with Battletech), West End’s awesome Star Wars the Role-Playing Game (pub. 1987) and GDW’s Megatraveller (pub. 1987, the much modified new version of Traveller). Of these, the first two were basically ignored, I spent many hours browsing the Mechwarrior stuff, but Megatraveller was the only one I devoted any actual playing time to.

Since then, I haven’t paid RPG’s any mind. I missed all of the future editions of Dungeon’s and Dragon’s, missed the entire d20 thing… Basically stopped cold-turkey towards the end of the 1980’s. Recently though, I have bought two more games, ICE’s Spacemaster and Spaceship Zero from Green Ronin. Neither of these have I done much more than open up and look at.

Kudos to Wayne’s Books for their fantastic collection of RPG reference information! I find it all very tempting. One thing I never understood was why I never tried Call of Cthulhu. I got into Lovecraft in the heyday of my role-playing years, and it should have been an obvious addition to my collection. But, though I certainly saw them around (especially well remembered is the Shadows of Yog-Sothoth cover), I never once tried them out. I suspect that I may rectify that… If I can find some reasonabley priced stuff from the early 80’s editions. Anyway, who knows if I will ever again trod those glorious pathways of pen and paper gaming. But well…

Pry it from my cold, dead hands… AKA, Rest in peace

Ah, well. Though it has been long expected, I still feel a bit stunned about the passing of Steve Jobs.

I have watched quite a bit of “American Morning” this day and have been taking in the coverage of Steve’s passing. This mass popular recognition of Jobs, while profoundly deserved, is (lamely) somewhat irritating to the remaining vestiges of defiant and rebellious Macaddict left over in me from those struggling Mac days of the 1990’s. Steve, Apple and the Mac seemed like private possessions for many of us through those years. People who thrived on love of them, but also thrived on how foolish everyone else was for not following along. To now have everyone commenting on how great he was is like seeing someone taking our personal rebellious icon and mass marketing him (like seeing Ice Cube in middle-class comedies or the proverbial Grateful Dead sticker on a Cadillac). Even though, admittedly, I was not a fan of the Mac era for many years… I remember my snide derision of the Mac in Jon and Jason’s apartment back in the day (though, much earlier, I remember being envious of my friend Todd’s Apple II during Jr High). After my experiencing a Mac II during the Windows 3 era, that all changed and I was an instant convert.

So, yes, it is nice for Jobs to be getting recognition for revolutionizing the personal computer industry with the Apple II and the Mac and then the iMac, and revolutionizing the music industry (not just for storing and playing, but also distribution) with iTunes and the iPod, and not only revolutionizing the cell phone, but also changing peoples whole connection with media and information with the iPhone… Basically, having a major hand with how nearly everyone interacts with computers, friends, the world, music, information and media. So yes, all of that is well and good but what has brought this on was what wasn’t mentioned.

After his original departure from Apple, Steve’s founding of Next eventually led to Apple’s OSX, which is a development that should not go unmentioned: A functional and modern operating system built upon a UNIX base. Moving past the aged roots of Windows and the MAC OS into a modern and powerful Unix based system was a profound and important step for me.

But the most glaring omission from the coverage that I saw was that there was no mention of Pixar, Steve’s development of Pixar as a film animation studio changed the animation film industry almost as profoundly as Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves did back in 1937. Pixar’s dozen or so movies have made animation a serious art form in cinema to an extent that no one else (except for maybe Hayao Miyazaki) has in modern times. Generating a previously unheard of level of respect from critics, adults and children alike. Each film continues to pioneer the continued advancement of computer animation technology (and marketing), and also the expectation of quality scripts, plots, character and storyline to a level that continues to be well beyond their competitors… While also being very financially successful.

All in all, I will miss Steve’s aura effect that created such devotion in his fans. He was an incredible marketeer, and businessman. He was a great visionary who changed so much for nearly everyone… Whether they realise it or not.