Wednesday, December 31, 2008

new higher resolutions

Day 125 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Well here they come.

All those things I want to do or not do for 2009 - Okay, if you must - call them resolutions.

Not a lot, but a lot of hidden content within.

Ahem -

1) Write every day (starting January 5th), unless too ill to do so. Too ill constitutes death, dismemberment or advanced dementia. Being abducted by aliens will not count as a valid excuse nor will getting caught in a nuclear holocaust.

2) Complete 1 short story every month. This should be easy since I will be writing every day, 7 days a week.

3) Read a minimum of 10,000 pages. Pages do not include comics, board books or wrappers from double bubble.

4) Send out a total of 12 short stories for publication. Should be easy since I will have written one short story a month, because I will be writing every day, 7 days a week. Can you just see how the house of cards is precariously perched and could come tumbling down?

5) Be positive in the face of adversity and/or knuckles. Not everybody likes me or my works ro sense of humour. This is a fact of life. I will deal with this in a mature fashion. No, I will not define my take on mature.

6) Try to be nice to people. This is perhaps the hardest resolution of all since most . . . no, won’t go there.

Well, there you have it. I don’t mention family stuff since I don’t need to. Anybody that knows me knows I treat my family well and they trump anything else.

Until tomorrow when the past is past . . .

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

need for structure

Day 124 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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I am such a creature of habit that I would be dead easy to stalk, trap and skin - if somebody so desired.

Every morning I rise early, turn on the computer and write - like a marginally oiled machine.

I have a rather structured ritual every morning and I get thrown off if I don’t follow it.

It goes like this;

Get up before 7:00 during holidays or weekends, or before 6:00 during work days. Make a cup of coffee and eat a bowl of cereal. Go to my lair. Turn on my machine. Dial into the internet. Fire up Media Player. Write blog.

Sounds about as monotonous as you would expect, but it is a routine that primes my writing pump.

Today I failed to log onto the internet, because what happens is after 15 minutes it wants to auto kick me off again which disrupts the flow of words you see before you.

Just this one step missing from my automaton-like morning program stifled me for a while before I could get down to writing.

Strange how little things can have an affect on what we do or how we do them.

And I suddenly did some math and realized that I’m more than 1/3 of the way through the Marathon. Holy crap - and you didn’t think I had it in me . . .

Okay, don’t want to toot my horn too loudly just yet. 200 plus more posts is nothing to sniff at, believe me.

Anyhow, with the coming of the new year I am planning to heap more work on myself. The list of what I want to accomplish will be coming out tomorrow, so you can see what crazy stunts I have planned for myself and this place as time marches on through 2009.

Well, today is cleaning day.

I do not relish the thought and despise the acts themselves.

I would much rather read, write, play computer games or stick needles in sensitive body parts than clean - but, alas, it must and will be done.

Until tomorrow . . .

Monday, December 29, 2008

Hastur been

Day 123 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Well, it was a close one, but our band of intrepid (okay, scared witless literally) rabble managed to take down Hastur even with the terror track all the way up to 5.

Only two of the six of us were not consumed in the final showdown. I was one of the lucky ones left alive, if gibbering incoherently, once Hastur was a smear of his former self. The other lone survivor made it pretty much intact and no doubt carted me off to what was left of the Arkham Sanitarium once the dust settled.

As you can surmise a fun, if horrific, time was had by all. We may gather another set of fools to try it again January 4th. Wonder how the stars will be aligned that day - dare I even check?

One of the coolest things sprung on me for the session was the “Paul Darcy” character card. I kid you not. Some guy created a program where you just fill in the blanks, then, if you have a good colour printer, you can print and laminate your very own creations be they characters, monsters, encounters or old ones even. Very cool feature lending even more variety to and already very complex game.

Thanks guys - you know who you are and it was absolutely a hoot to play myself - and live. Hey, in fact, the only two of us playing ourselves lived while the others were consumed. Coincidence?

And not only did gaming happen, but afterwards we had some great discussions about the world situation and our own economy. There were some solutions that made sense, but unfortunately none there with the power to affect such large scale changes in our world.

Oh, well. It’s been fun, and thanks for all the electronics . . .

I’ll leave off there as I don’t want today’s blog. to turn into a global rant - the globe has enough problems already without me pointing out more of them.

So, I’ll turn to TV shows instead.

My friend gave me “Dead Like Me” to watch and in return I will get them my copy of “Wonderfalls” to view. Both, I believe, were created by the same people. I loved “Wonderfalls” so I’m sure “Dead Like Me” will be a treat. Can’t wait.

My brain, after almost being sucked out by a straw in yesterday’s Markham Horror game, is starting to fire on a few more cylinders as well. The V12 is up to 7 now I think.

Those that have the waiting for NaNoWriMo feeling will know how I’m anticipating January 5th as that is when I’ll be starting into my “serious” or “blue” or “insane” phase - whatever you want to call it.

Who knows the wonders I’ll create - or the piles of dren? Oh, well - you can’t immediately come up with great creations without first producing some crap.

So, that is where you will find me in 2009 - trying to make an alternate income from words instead help produce more and more and more cars in a world which is kind of choked with them already, don’t you think?

Until tomorrow . . .

Sunday, December 28, 2008

love your Innsmouth look and other compliments

Day 122 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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I arrive by train today at 12:30 to the sleepy town of Arkham. I’ve been invited by a friend because “certain” activities of late require my expertise.

I’ve a suspicion that Shub, Yog or Nyarl may be up to their old tricks again.

This time, with the help of friends, I’m going to shut them down for good - or die trying (like so many times before).

Yup, today is to be Arkham Horror day, and my friends have every expansion pack that goes along with this huge Fantasy Flight game - which tends to twist the outcome even less in our favour, but is far more fun with tons more variety than just the original version.

But it’s not about winning or losing (your mind), it’s about getting together for a spell and playing a massive board game which is not run by computer AI but dice and cards and imagination.

This is one thing I love about long vacation periods over Christmas - chances to play these massively big board games.

But with everybody I know embroiled in their busy lives, even during this time of supposed vacation, it’s been hard up til now to coordinate a game.

In fact, this is the first for me although I have played quite a few games with my family already. But my family likes less complicated and horrifically themed games (like Masterpiece or Settlers of Catan).

Me, I just love a good bout of complexity and horror and strategy in my games and the bigger the better and Fantasy Flight really makes the best out there right now.

But what is so great about huge these huge and complex board games?

I think they get close to approximating an artificial life where you can take your character/race/pseudopod and have a go at an alternative existence for a while. This may be why I love Sci-Fi and Fantasy and Horror books so much as well.

Not that I shun real life, but it can get a bit repetitive and dull at times and let’s face it jobs, for the most part, are generally soul-sucking, rock-cracking wastes of time. Unless you are a brave soul who has forged money from your passions - good for you!

Don’t worry, I’ll get there too, in time.

Now, where did I put my train tickets and elder sign?

Until Tomorrow . . .

Saturday, December 27, 2008

monsoon morning

Day 121 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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I awoke this morning to the sounds of pouring rain. No, really.

And yes it’s technically winter around here, with snow banks and everything.

Very strange, but then again we do live in “interesting” times don’t we?

I guess the high of 10 degrees C today is just one of many thaws we seem to get around this neck of the Ontario woods.

Where I grew up, once winter settled in, a mild day would have been about 20 F and not a degree warmer - well below the freezing mark.

So, yesterday turkey and potatoes and gravy were consumed with friends - and I’m still stuffed this morning, only able to drink a coffee (okay, and a few dark chocolate icy squares). I’ll think about food again around noon. When I do eat another meal it will be a small quantity and it will be wafer thin.

And I actually did a physical workout yesterday - proud of myself - weights and trampoline! I’m starting to combat the pounds and pounds of chocolate Santa thought I should have. Bad Santa!

Maybe I’ll take some of it with me to gaming day tomorrow and see if those extra calories can help us stop Arkham from being absorbed by Cthulhu or some other unspeakable ancient menace.

Who am I kidding - Cthulhu dreams of chocolate as well as eating the world, so maybe the chocolate will be more of a ancient god lure than a help for our team of investigators/adventurers . . .

. . . and those that don’t’ read Lovecraft of play Arkham Horror are most likely gone from this blog already to other parts of the net.

For those still with me - in the last game Yig came this close to having his scaly butt handed to him, but luckily for him most of us went insane and our “last best hope for pieces” missed a critical dynamite roll . . .

We all said, “maybe next time”, which is only one sleep away now and I can’t wait for the fun.

Well, I better get with the breakfast as hungry family members will rise shortly and take over the solitude of this house demanding grub - even though I’m going to pass today.

Until tomorrow . . .

Friday, December 26, 2008

24 hrs of pugilism

Day 120 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Christmas was a great success here and my daughter even went so far as to comment that “it was the best Christmas ever” - which leads me to wonder how we failed during the previous eight . . .

I think she is just at that perfect, magical age, when dreams really do come true and fairies are real.

We have maybe a couple more years before the fairy dust settles into the cracks or is sucked up by the vacuum, not to return until it infuses little ones of her own.

What a fantastic time of life for her - I hope she remembers these times with joy later in life.

Oh, I’m not saying my age is no longer fun, but that belief in magic, real magic, is something wonderful.

And it’s kind of sad that, as we grow into adults, we lose that belief by peering at life through the harsh glasses of reality.

As a writer I try to think back and capture those magical moments and fuse them into fiction (well, after I twist if and put on an icing of horror that is), but it is quite hard to get the balance just so.

And, as any writer knows, writing is just about the most difficult profession on this planet. The act itself may not seem too daunting, but even after you create your masterpiece (well, subjectively speaking and through much sweat and toil) you have the thankless Sisyphus task of rolling if uphill and having it stick.

I don’t ever do it, but this year I’m going to blog my resolutions - and I’m not talking 800 x 600 or 1024 x 768.

No, I’m going to outline a post-automotive writing plan and see if I can stick to it and not stop until I achieve every writing goal (realistically derived, of course) I can.

I also need to get the script writing software on my new computer and delete it off my old.

Audio program needs loading again as well so I can do some audio blogs.

And the music creation software needs to go on too.

I have much to do, but for the rest of this Holiday season I am going to read, hang with my family and play Arkham Horror a time or two with good friends.

On a closing note, we watched “It’s a Wonderful Life” last night. It really is a great movie and I love watching Stewart travel down his dark path to the point of alienating his entire family before heading for the bridge. What a great bunch of scenes.

Well, I must away ere break of day.

Until tomorrow . . .

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Hos!

Day 119 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Can you believe I’m the first one to be awake on this, Christmas Day?

It’s true, and it looks like Santa paid us a visit as well.

My daughter is going to be thumping about the house soon in a very excited state, and then we are going to eat homemade cinnamon buns and, shortly thereafter, get down to the business of opening presents.

The rest of the day will be spent cooking (I’m making perogies again, this time with salt pork too) and playing board games. Masterpiece is a new favourite of ours - I have yet to win, but it’s always fun. We will likely play some Settlers of Catan as well.

Oh, I think I hear the stirring of my family.

I hope you all have a great Christmas Day and a fantastic rest of your holiday season wherever you are in the world.

Until tomorrow . . .

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

do not do it

Day 118 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Once upon a time there were two teen friends.

These teen friends were full of life, but sometimes not very smart.

One night they drank a lot of beer while their folks were away.

They were both quite drunk.

Then they had a stupid, drunken idea.

They took the car and went for a drive.

After racing about town for a while the teen driving got into and accident.

Lucky for him it was not with another car.

Lucky for him nobody got hurt.

Unlucky for the car - it sustained quite a bit of damage.

The teens drove home again, rather more sober than when they headed out.

The two teen friends tried to fix the damage, but it was hopeless.

Both were scared to death.

Both had been very, very stupid.

Both went home and went to bed.

Both woke up with a terrible hangover the next day.

Both learned a valuable lesson and luckily the cost was not so very high, but it could have been deadly.

Do not ever drink and drive.

Ever!

Have a safe and happy holiday my friends and please, do not drink and drive.

Ever!

Until tomorrow . . .

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

cookie monster vs big bird

Day 117 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Seems like our house has turned into the factory for the Cookie Monster these last few days.

First if was a double batch of oatmeal snowmen (still lots left).

Then, yesterday, it was a huge batch of gingerbread people (still tons left).

And today will see the rise of and army of shortbread creatures.

All we need is Cookie Monster to come clean up the spoils - or I’m going to resemble 2 Ton, or the Abominable Bumble.

Add on top of this the perogie feast I’m going to make for Christmas Day, plus the Turkey at friends the day after and . . .

. . . why do we eat so damn much during the holidays?

And drink and be merry and generally overdue everything?

Excess is the artery killer for sure.

And no tennis to burn it off until January 5th again.

Still, what would the holidays be without overeating and cookie making?

As to Big Bird taking on Cookie Monster - I think the Monster would clean that dumb yellow bird’s clock, don’t you?

Until Tomorrow . . .

Monday, December 22, 2008

Charlie Brown’s sister drove one

Day 116 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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I used to own an 1966 Ford Mustang. It was “antique bronze”, had a 289 V8 and was completely classic even sporting original wheels.

I sold it about 15 years ago now since I was living in an apartment and couldn’t work on it - and if you own classic cars, well, you just have to work on them - trust me. I’ve always had a thing for Mustangs - maybe it’s a guy thing, I don’t know?

The newer version still looks great to me and I am actually thinking about getting one. I know we are coming out with the Camaro next year, but still, the Mustang (for looks at least) rules the road for me.

When I was a kid I owned two 1969 Mustangs - neither of which ever ran. The first was a wreck that had it’s front end right wheel crashed in but a working motor and transmission. The second was a Mach 1 with no motor or transmission but a good body and interior.

I was to pull a Frankenstein and merge the beasts together to have a decent set of wheels - before I was 18.

Despite the hours of work I put in on the two cars I never got them totally stripped and put back together as I had planned. Story of my life here perhaps?

Anyhow, they were eventually sold as a pair for 1,000 bucks which helped defer the cost of my education - and that era came to an end. It would have been sweet to actually have gotten it running during my high school years.

No regrets though, and I did own a 1966 years later. I learned a lot about cars stripping those 1969s down - most notably - there is always one bolt on every assembly which will break no matter how much WD-40 or heat you apply beforehand.

And you always thought I was a Chevy guy, didn’t you.

See, I’m just full of surprises - and other less olfactory appealing stuff . . .

Until tomorrow . . .

Sunday, December 21, 2008

so you did it

Day 115 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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I should have guessed sooner than the last episode.

I watched the final episode of Veronica Mars last night (first season) and went - “so that’s who did it!”

The season overall was pretty darn good - not a Buffy though, no, not that good - but Veronica Mars has its moments and the fact that the season had a complete story arc, and that those arcs where fulfilled, was refreshing.

I would recommend this show, at least the first season, if you haven’t already seen it like ten times over.

And yes, I am absolutely enjoying my vacation time - and it looks like it is a vacation time and not get ready for EI time. Governments are busy tossing money at Chrysler and GM which means I’ll be getting paid by the Government for a while.

Welcome to Government Motors!

Also, I’ve been having second and third thoughts about Reader’s Den. You could say I’m getting tired of it, or you could look at it as a new leaf in my life while that one turns brown and joins the ground as fertilizer.

I think I know where my time is better spent.

I want to spend my morning writing time cranking out twisted fiction instead.

Which brings me to a thought I had for this place starting next year. I need to have some kind of recurring writing/audio program that comes out say once per month. A new episode of a larger project if you will.

It would have a year long story arc, be twisted of course, and maybe I would make each episode a read audio version or have it in two forms - audio and written.

I would set a date like the 15th of every month and make sure to hit the target. Who knows, maybe I could create another Dr. Horrible or Guild . . .

Okay, let’s not get carried away - right?

Still, you never know until you actually try. And you can’t productively try until you have a plan, and then execute the plan.

I’m pretty good at planning and executing if I set my mind to it.

So tentatively, the new project will commence on January 15th.

Until tomorrow . . .

Saturday, December 20, 2008

broken connections

Day 114 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Well, this post may be one day late because I can’t get on to the internet, or you may be seeing it on the day it should appear.

Completely out of my hands, I’m afraid.

(Edit: it’s working again)

My daughter keeps reminding me that Christmas is “X” number of days away, where “X” = the countdown including hours and minutes. Maybe not quite to Data accuracy, but about as annoying as Data ever could be while spewing unnecessary information.

Actually, it’s kind of cute watching her get so excited.

As an adult, I don’t really get excited much anymore over too many things, or to a very high degree. That whole 12-years-old-and-under excitement things like Christmas used to bring me, are kind of dead and long gone.

Oh, I can still find myself a little amused at things or looking forward to things, but nothing in the last twenty years or so has ever gotten me worked up like my daughter is worked up now waiting for Santa to deliver the goods.

Pretty sad, isn’t it.

How, as grown ups, we can so easily lose those childlike ways and get caught up in the drudgery of responsibilities and obligations and tedium.

But there is always tomorrow, with the hope of brighter days and the return of the twelve year old spirit who still crouches just out of sight with his wrist rocket and mischievous grin.

I hope I get there before I become too senile to notice and so just completely miss it.

I have a funny feeling that Santa may be putting things in my stocking this year other than a lump of coal or a rock. Just a feeling, or a pretty good hunch, or a prescience about what is to come, I guess.

I also have a funny feeling that it will be edible and prepackaged - and then the visions leave me . . .

And one small thing I have to mention, but feel almost embarrassed revealing because it makes me look like and even bigger goof than I already appear to be. But hell, what would be the fun in scouring the Twisted Mind if I didn’t give you some glimpses of insanity or oversight once in while.

You see, I just finished the third mission in Fallout Tactics where you need to take down the Raider Leaders and retrieve the T-800 hand. Well, I only noticed this time through the names of the main raiders in that little episode. They were Bo, Luke, Daisy and Jesse . . . See, you spotted it right off.

Well, I missed it twice before while playing through that game. Geek points eroding once again.

The time on the wall indicates to me that elsewhere is the place I should be, so.

Until tomorrow . . .

Friday, December 19, 2008

less than a week

Day 113 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Holy, ho ho kiddies - X-Mas is less than one week away.

And I still haven’t finished my Christmas shopping . . .

. . . is that bad? Think Santa has time to even look for my name on his list at this point?

And isn’t it funny that Santa says the same thing when he visits the farm or the brothel . . .

Unless he is in Australia, where he is banned from saying it - you know, because it is an equal opportunity country, and it is not nice to make fun of any working class - no discrimination allowed I guess.

But back to the presents.

Actually, the “immediate family” shopping is out of the way - it’s my pesky folks that are going to suffer.

And by suffering, I mean they are leaving soon to spend over a month in Vegas.

So, you see, I get to buy them Post-X-Mas stuff at drastically reduced (recession induced?) pricing.

Okay, so I’m a rotten kid - I’m sure my very own “fruit-o-the-loins” will treat me about the same when my hair is gone and I can’t play tennis anymore and the highlight of my day will be gumming down luke-warm porridge . . .

And where is this HUGE snow storm we are supposed to be in right now?

I really expected (sarcasm) to wake up this morning and draw the drapes back to see nothing but a wall of snow on the other side while listening to my poor roof groaning under the strain of fifty tonnes of snow.

But what do I find?

Absolutely nothing.

Media - can’t shoot em, but you CAN ignore them. Please do.

In fact, if everybody just ignored them they would probably go away due to no ratings. Now wouldn’t that be a breath of sane air.

Well I’m off to check Twitter and see how many more people have ignored me. I actually think, even though they follow, they are truly afraid of me. Me, harmless (slightly twisted) little ole me.

So, keep your nose and sidewalks clean, and I’ll spew forth another geyser of excitement soon, like say . . .

Until tomorrow . . .

Thursday, December 18, 2008

so much time so little to do

Day 112 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Sounds dreamy, no?

Well, for the next couple of weeks and a half, that will be my existence.

So what will I pack into those open fun filled relaxing wintery days?

For one, I will be gaming with friends at least a couple of times. We always need to stop at least one bad elder god thing from absorbing Arkham and surrounding environs - and D&D needs to happen. (Yes, go ahead and make the sign of the devil - you are so 80s)

Family time and perogies figure into the equation as well. Christmas is a time when my daughter gets all wound up (even more than normal) and we make treats to eat and watch more DVD shows than is really good for you while munching on microwave popcorn.

Oh, there will be the compulsory family “away” mission, but that only takes three days. Not quite so horrendous as it sounds, and it actually is nice to see the nephews growing up and getting bigger.

And, I know you were waiting for it, computer gaming.

I even started Fallout Tactics again on my laptop. This is one great game despite all the cry babies who wanted another Fallout 2 instead. I don’t care what you say, Tactics is shear brilliance in tactical gaming.

I was thinking, if somebody would remake X-Com (exactly) and put the Fallout Tactics skin on it - they will have created the ultimate game for me - just so you know, you with the taped glasses and large cranium and prodigious programming skills - get to it already!

Oooh, maybe I should just play the original X-COM again anyway . . .

Like I said, so much time and so little (well, lots actually) to do this break.

Here’s hoping you all have a great Holiday season, which reminds me . . .

. . . yesterday I heard the Adam Sandler Hanukkah song on the radio again. You talk about something coming along every once in a while that just shines in the humour department - man, that song is it. Best line, “O. J. Simpson, not a Jew!”

Well, once again my time has expired and you need to eat breakfast, so.

Until tomorrow . . .

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

stumpage and other esoteric defoliations

Day 111 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Geez, now that I’m feeling almost great again, it should have been easy for me to come up with a bunch of content to entertain.

But today was the first day I actually had to stare at the screen for a minute or so before the old writing juices began to flow.

I thought of a response to John Cleese over on Twitter. He was wondering if somebody (forgot the name) was the real Archbishop of somewhere (forgot the place) because he was following a lot of priests.

My response should have been. Not unless he is also following a lot of alter boys as well, otherwise he is not a real Archbishop but a scam artist . . .

. . . Flat?

Okay, but my real point is not only Gits frequent Twitter - I mean, it’s John ‘Frikin’ Cleese. Mr. Fawlty, whom I absolutely love, perhaps even more than Black Adder . . .

Okay, so you are not impressed. Know who else is on Twitter?

The Archbishop of somewhere (forgot the place) - so there . . .

I’m particularly giddy this morning for two reasons.

1) last day in the slave pits for 2008 (possibly forever!). What is not to like.

2) My flu has flow. WooHoo, I like feeling good because the alternative is, well not feeling good.

One damper to this fine morning though. Snow. About five inches.

Which means I need to get out there soon and shovel, risking injury to my back and making me sweat which leaves me sort of stinky while I squat in my cube despite hi test underarm deoderant . . .

Okay, too much information - but why else do you come here?

I’m thinking my posts will start showing up a few hours later until early January since I’ll be enjoying sleeping in for a while, lunch be damned . . .

Um, why did that Buffy quote from “Doppelgangland” suddenly spring into my mind . . .

If I only knew the answers to some of those questions I may be able to solve the riddle of the third mile . . .

Oh, stop it already twisted mind, just stop it.

Until tomorrow . . .

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

bushy eyed and bright tailed

Day 110 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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I’m feeling way better.

It seems the virus has all but departed leaving me next to whole. Not quite 100 %, but close enough, I’d say.

Even though Reader’s Den has been idled for a few weeks, that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped reading. I’ve been chewing threw books the last few weeks, when I’ve not been radiating extreme heat while prone on the couch that is.

Starting back up in January, Reader’s Den will have lots of new content coming.

And just so you know I have not totally abandoned my Super Hero work either. The gist is that Nicholas Grungeon is a grocery store employee who works in produce. One day he reaches in to the potato pile to find his index finger squishing through a rotten potato.

Of course this is no ordinary potato. It is a potato which happens to have grown in the soil of a buried alien corpse, though those growing the potato knew nothing of the soil contents.

He gets a whole whack of strange powers and the world, well at least his world, is never the same again.

And I’m not sure whether to keep this in or not, but I was thinking of calling him SpudNick!

I know, long build up for a lame joke.

I’m not a Hope or Milton or Dangerfield . . .

Still, you smiled. I saw it through the interwavetuberegisterascope.

Yah, okay.

And did I mention that I only have two more working days left until I get my Christmas break. Oh, I am looking forward to the time off. I don’t go back (if any of us go back, that is) until January 5th.

I think it’s going to be hard for me to keep this blog up during the holidays. I’m going to be away a few days even, so I may have to do several posts in one day to make up for no internet access the other two.

Well, I’ve taken up enough of your time. I'll let some of the other couple billion blogs have their turn now.

Until tomorrow . . .

Monday, December 15, 2008

one hundred and three point five

Day 109 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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No, not some coordinate from a Star Trek episode - but the temperature I hit yesterday in the afternoon.

Not high enough for delusions, but almost.

Today I’m hovering about one degree cooler - nothing to worry about there I think.

I do have a full body ache though which I find kind of interesting. Why everything from my neck all the way down to my ankles aches is bizarre - and highly irritating.

This replicating virus is one nasty little bug - but I’m nastier and it will pay the price for its insolence shortly.

Sorry I’m not up to much of a post today but it’s hard to concentrate when your whole body aches - even after two Tylenol.

So, I’m going to go crash on the nearest soft horizontal surface and wait this thing out.

Until tomorrow . . .

Sunday, December 14, 2008

rotten virus

Day 108 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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I am sick today.

I do not like it.

Some virus is waging bio-warfare on my wet-ware systems.

I am going to go back to sleep.

Until tomorrow . . .

Saturday, December 13, 2008

avg is the suckage

Day 107 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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What follows may not be suitable for small children, pregnant women or furry pets - so be warned that ranting, and the occasional swear word, will follow. Read on at your own risk, or with parental guidance.

AVG anti-virus software sucks!

You heard me.

AVG anti-virus software sucks monkey balls! Big hairy monkey balls covered with lice and sweat!

This is the second computer I’ve owned now, running Windows XP - and the second attempt at using AVG free anti-virus software - and the second time AVG keeps F’ing up!

WTF is wrong with this scenario?

Maybe I give off some bio-magnetic-AVG-program-killing resonance wave or something. It seems that, after one month, AVG free decides that my AVG is not up to date and will no longer update, but instead gives me some stupid error message saying “invalid CTF file” ? ? ?

Free?

My ass!

I swear, this is AVG’s feeble attempt to get me to cough up money for their “paid” version.

Well, guess what AVG.

You can kiss my ass!

I’ve owned computers since 1989 and do you know how many viruses I’ve gotten.

Guess.

Yah - the sum total of 1.

And that was done when my wife opened some dumb congratulations attachment from an email.

So, if AVG doesn’t decide to update itself within the next couple of days.

It’s going to get nuked from orbit, and good riddance.

F’ing virus detection crap!

I swear there are no viruses out there and the “stuff” these programs find is of its own creation just so you think you got something for your money, or that your detector is actually doing something other than slowing down your operating system and sucking up resources.

What a crock of shit!

Oh, did I mention that I fell off the bed this morning - from the wrong side!

AVG = the suckage.

Until tomorrow, when there will be less ranting and cursing. maybe . . .

Friday, December 12, 2008

all the marbles

Day 106 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Well, boys and girls, the game couldn’t get much closer or exciting than this, now could it.

It’s the global free market political Superbowl!

Hundreds of thousands of jobs on the line, public eyes watching every move, hostility on both sides of the camp, people laughing, people crying, people crapping in their pants with personal debt levels up to, and exceeding, their eyeballs.

So what’s it going to be Senate for all those workers - Live or Die? What’s it going to be?

The sad fact is that good working class people (you know, the ones that actually “do-the-work”) will pay the ultimate price, while the CEOs and executives and high level managers just saunter on back to their multi-million dollar ranches and yachts.

You want to hear a real gut buster? The CEO at my work place (during 2007) made more in three months than I would have made in 30 years . . . Ha ha ha!

Isn’t Capitalism fun, boys and girls? The free market system RAWKS!!

I’m going to make a real effort to make this the last work place related post. Do you, the reader, really give a rat’s ass anyhow?

I think not.

And even if you give a rat’s ass - well, you see, I’ve already got two . . .

Oh, and by “work place” I mean the place I go to get a paycheck, not the place of my passions which would be various creative endeavours, like biographies, tunes, videos, scripts and writing projects of all natures. One is food for the table, the other is food for the soul. I do not get them mixed up, believe me.

Through the smoke and mirrors it’s a little hard to tell right now, but just watch soon as the house of cards come tumbling down while China circles like a vulture ready to pick off the near dead and dying.

Don’t believe me. Just wait and see.

China wants into the car manufacturing market - what better way than to snap up an auto company that the governments decides is, as Scotty said, “He’s dead already.”

But like the dead Spock, anything can happen in the future and so I remain, despite the situation, hopeful.

I apologize if I’ve depressed you in any way. It was not my intent. I’m only venting a bit of steam at a dire situation.

Hell, we’ve come through two world wars, a depression, and watched Carrot Top on the Comedy Channel - this to shall pass.

Until tomorrow . . .

Thursday, December 11, 2008

would you believe plan e f or g

Day 105 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Slept in again today and now I’m grumpier than normal.

Yup, that grumpy - like kick the cat grumpy.

My routine is shot and I won’t even get home from work until well after dark now.

But, I have lots to be grumpy about besides sleeping in.

Like the behaviour of both the US and Canadian governments at the moment.

There, now I’ve made you grumpy as well, haven’t I.

To further my own ends, I’m taking the Christmas holidays to re-read “The Art of Dramatic Writing” and “The Heroes Journey” and “The Screentwriter’s Bible” as well as re-watching some great Buffy and ST:TNG episodes.

With my brain so stocked, I should be able to rocket out of the chute in January and have a viable and sustainable (AH! - I’m sounding like a bankrupt car manufacturer now . . .) plan for my long term writing success.

Now, I’ve got to rush out the door and go to said company and pretend like nothing is happening.

La la, la la la.

Until tomorrow . . .

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

plan b c or d

Day 104 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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I have got to get my act together and take my destiny into my own hands.

For too long I’ve dabbled with writing, having over 60 short stories written and three of them published, writing two complete novels and even one Romantic Comedy script.

Total output = a heck of a lot over the past 20 years.

So why am I not a household name like Asimov, or Sony by now?

Because about three quarters of the way to the finish line I realize I’m tired and just want to sit down by the side of the road under a majestic tree overhanging a stream and have a rest - and play computer games or read a book or almost anything else - and hence, writing projects get “almost” completed.

But I do have this stubborn “get-it-done” streak when I apply myself to a particular project.

I may not be out of traditional work for a while, perhaps until I reach retirement age even - but the economy is not looking rosy for the next two years and I should start to pursue other avenues of income which do no involve cubes or squatting, but rather imagination, passion and excitement.

So, I know it’s early for a New Year’s Resolution, but come January, after the whole crazy Christmas break si behind me, I plan on writing every day again and even trying for publication once more.

I know I can do it.

You know I can do it.

It’s only a matter of application and perseverance.

And, to further stimulate my plans, I have only to look in the mirror and realize that, in perhaps as little as 30 years - I will be no more and the world may have lost out on a unique voice in the world of creative fiction.

Now, how is that for self-applied cattle-prod motivation?

*ZAP*

Until tomorrow . . .

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

dreaming of a wight Christmas

Day 103 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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No, not a typo - a prediction of things to come for this Holiday season.

I just realized today that I only have 7 more working days this year until I get my vacation break which lasts until Jan 5th.

And, of course, any good Christmas vacation comes with lots of gaming - D&D style.

Our group plays 3rd Edition Rules. None of us are willing to shell out more cash for yet another set of books to advance to 4th Edition - which I’ve read is pretty sucky anyhow.

We have three games on the go at the moment. One I run, and two I play in.

We have five in our group which makes for a good group size - not too out of control.

However, despite the small group size, there are plenty of disputes about appropriate actions and what to do next. If you really want the inside scoop on D&D, and you are not a gamer (shame on you) - google “DM of the Rings” and have yourself a great laugh and a peek at the inside truth of how D&D gaming really plays out.

Well, I have to cut short today’s post since Mother Nature has dumped about five centimeters (that’s two inches or so for you rebel Yankees) on my driveway and my wife and daughter need to go to a cello practice early.

So, with shovel in hand, I will head out of doors and tackle the white stuff while dreaming of a wight Christmas.

Until two days after yesterday . . .

Monday, December 08, 2008

day of reckoning

Day 102 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Yes, the day of reckoning is at hand. Today will mark an historic moment in time . . .

. . . but it can be argued that every moment in time is historic since that which was is, by its very nature, history.

Do the big three get the dough to make more bread, or are they left out in the cold?

Do they continue to have meals from a silver platter or from the dumpster behind Mickey Ds?

As Spock would surely say, “Fascinating.”

As Data would surely say, “Intriguing.”

As Captain HindGrinder would say, “you ever been to sea, Billy?”

I’ll be tuning in again today via C-Span streaming radio to find out what happens in our Global playpen since it will directly affect me.

Watch the news and the stock market today - they are both sure to be full of it.

“It” being whatever you want “it” to be.

Until tomorrow, if I have a tomorrow . . .

Sunday, December 07, 2008

vaults and dalmatians

Day 101 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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That’s what today’s blog number reminds me of.

I’ve now been blogging for 101 days straight, which makes me also think that my die-l-up provider hasn’t cacked out in that many days as well - knock on solid state electronics.

I apologize for yesterday’s attempt at a global economic political analysis - as anybody who knows me knows - I know pretty much the square root of squat when it comes to that field.

But blogs are supposed to be genuine commentary from the blogger’s mind - twisted or otherwise, are they not?

Well, the cold winds are certainly blowing this morning as we had a mini snow fall last night. Snowmen are out of the question - too cold. Ever try to roll dry snow into a ball?

Oh, and this weekend has been Daddy-Daughter weekend. I’ve been having a great time mold . . . er, bonding with her.

We played Flatout trying to have the most outrageous crashes possible. We made pizza together then pea soup with homemade bread. She may be turning into a chef or something later in life I suspect.

We also played a longish game of Runebound - she won. At least that is her interpretation of events even though the game didn't end. How can I argue?

We also, last night, watched a couple episodes of “Dukes of Hazard” - no, really.

It’s been wonderful.

This morning as I blog she is watching the Peanuts Christmas special. Just an awesome program, but my how the youth of today have no idea of how it was without all this technology at the ready when we were growing up.

Well, I better get at starting the waffles so we don’t starve, then we will get geared up and tackle the snow covered driveway.

Until tomorrow . . .

Saturday, December 06, 2008

like sands through the hourglass

Day 100 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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I did what I thought was an interesting thing yesterday at work.

I listened to streaming C-Span radio and took in the entire plea and question period of the US Senate hearings dealing with the domestic auto industry's plea for a bridge loan to allow them to keep operating.

What an ear opener.

First off I was duly impressed with some Senate individuals coming across as pretty damn intelligent - it kind of blew my personal opinion that all politicians are a bunch of smooth-talking self-absorbed money-grubbing asshats . . .

. . . but that is not to say some of them didn’t come across that way to me, because they did.

It was mostly a show for the voters though, let’s make no mistake. But one thing was crystal clear. The USA is shitting in their collective pants over the whole economy.

You see, as the general populace, fueled by the retarded lop-sided fearmongering media, stops their spending (because credit is pretty much stopped) and hides in fear, the whole “Capitalist” system comes grinding to a halt and starts to crash and burn. In November alone over one half a million people more are out of work in the US and, even in Canada, we just had the highest numbers of unemployment in 26 years - and the slide does not seem to be abating any time soon.

If the lenders won’t lend and the spenders won’t spend you have a perfect recipe for economic collapse. Don’t believe it? Not that I am Kreskin or anything, but just wait another six months to a year and tell me again.

So, though I really didn’t learn much I didn’t already know or suspect, I did learn that there are some people in places to make changes that “get it” and are actually trying to help. But at the same time there are a few who “don’t get it” and want nothing more than to see all failed companies crash and burn no matter the consequences.

Those people scare me.

They are molded, I think, from the same fabric of individual that would walk by somebody lying on the street bleeding and in pain and think whatever happened to that person, he/she probably deserved it and just continue walking on by.

Scary crap.

Two things I take away from the hearings.

1) The Capitalist system is not a permanently sustainable system and is going to crash hard before those that can do anything useful can come up with a long term, viable solution.

2) Those that make the decisions affecting millions don’t have the ability, because of the very governmental system itself, to act quickly enough to really do much good.

So as not to be just like the media, I’ll end off by saying that we are in for a major adjustment in our societies - hang on to your shorts!

Until tomorrow . . .

Friday, December 05, 2008

sad news

Day 99 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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I arrived at work yesterday - continued puttering away at my work as unusual - to get a phone call from my wife at about 8:00 AM.

My immediate thought upon seeing our home phone number displayed so early in the morning on my work call display was - what could be wrong?

Maybe my daughter was sick? Maybe a water pipe was leaking? Maybe I forgot my lunch?

It was much worse.

Our neighbour Bill had died of a heart attack in the night and there were two police cars, a fire truck and an ambulance all flashing their lights through our front windows.

Holy crap!

This is the same guy I waved too as I drove on my way to work two days ago. He was taking his time shoveling the light snowfall that had accumulated in the driveways.

He was all bundled up for winter including a deer-hunter type hat. Bill - dead and gone.

Holy crap!

We both shared a love of organic lawns too. No toxic “Weedman” poisons for us. The bunny rabbits loved our lawns and would sneak under our mutual fence to harvest the latest dandelion leaves from either patch.

I’m so sad for Pam his wife, and embarrassed to say I don’t even know their son’s name. He would come visit them on occasion but I was never really introduced.

Holy crap!

He was one of the kindest fellows a person could ever want as a neighbour. I’m really going to miss him.

Whenever somebody I know passes on, despite my gruff exterior, it does hurt. But it also reminds me that we are mortal and should really pursue our dreams and passions because one day - poof - two police cars a fire truck and ambulance arrive and it’s game over.

All that stuff you wish you had done has passed you by.

So, starting in January, come continued job or unemployment, I’m getting my creative juices flowing again with my writing, music creation and audio extravaganzas.

I’m going to miss you Bill.

Holy crap!

Until tomorrow . . .

Thursday, December 04, 2008

good play

Day 98 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Yup, another Thursday tennis review.

Several factors contributed to my winning ways during last night’s tennis matches.

I’ve started weight training again every Sunday - something I stopped doing about six months ago. Silly me. My upper body strength is returning and really had a positive effect last night on the courts. Why, or why, did I stop doing this?

I’m getting used to my 58 pound string tension and am finding it so much better than the 60 pounds I’ve been using on my new rackets. Doesn’t sound like much, but when you need to volley like McEnroe, tighter strings just don’t do the job.

My hand, which has been causing me such pain lately, is finally starting to heal. It took only the warmup time before the irritating sharp pains went away on contact with the ball.

And lastly, I didn’t bother taking any pain killers last night - but this was a positive. Instead of those little aches and pains being muted (and suffering slight sided effects of ibuprofen) I lived with them and felt more natural on the court last night.

So, final tally was 14 games won and 13 games lost.

Oh, you thought I did better?

Well three of us got 14 and one got 12, if that helps. So, technically, I was top of the court (with two other guys).

Oh, and once again I was the oldest on the court too with the next being about 35, then 25 and then a 17 year old fast kid.

Until tomorrow . . .

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

what is up gov

Day 97 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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And I thought US politics were a screwed up mess ala the Bushwacker.

But it looks like little cousin Pierre (Canada) with the Harper Seal in command (well at least he thinks he is) is just about as screwed up, maybe even worse at the momment.

Now, I don’t know the second thing about politics, but I do know when your countries leaders are acting like a bunch of clowns - and now is that time.

I must admit, I’ve been kind of distracted with the whole “my job hanging by a thread” issue and have kind of let Canadian politics take a back seat, but maybe today I’ll look into what the hell is what for my own good.

But, of course, first I’ll check out what the Motors is giving up to get the cash from Washington.

Or “if” they will get the cash.

Still, no absolute decision will be made until December 8th.

Then, if it passes those Congress hurdles it still has to clear the Bushwacker’s desk.

Wouldn’t it be a moment in history if Bushwacker vetoed the bridge-loans?

I’m just happy that in this time of Global screw-ups, we have such competent leaders running the show . . .

Until tomorrow . . .

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

more soup part two

Day 96 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Well, another day in Congress, another day of three auto CEOs looking for cash.

And remember, despite the poor media coverage (which I cannot stand), any moneys they receive would be a “loan” not a “bail-out” like the banks.

There is a difference. A big one.

A loan is that which is to be paid back with terms attached.

A bail-out is that which does not need to be paid back.

You see.

A big difference.

And if you really believe the U S of A will not give the three (fill in the blank) the cash loan, then I would like to know what planet you are from.

We will, of course, not really know until December 8th when Congress comes back and votes on it.

What a damn circus this whole business is.

I hate politics almost as much as the media. Now, media coverage of politics . . .

. . . my eye twitch is starting again . . .

Anyhow, my immediate financial fate kind of hinges on what happens in the US and right here in Canada.

And so does hundreds of thousands of others.

Merry Ho, ho and stuff.

Which brings me to X-Mas.

How much are you going to spend this year?

I’m thinking about six ninety-five per family member, excluding the rats.

I don't want to mess up a perfectly good Recession.

Until tomorrow . . .

Monday, December 01, 2008

big storm not

Day 95 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Oooooh, the big December 1st snow storm of 2008 is going to get us . . .

. . . Not!

I woke up this morning expecting a good six inches of wet snow on the ground and a veritable blizzard swirling outside my door, but what did my little eyes spy - diddly squat, of course.

Gawd how I hate the media - and I don’t even have TV hookup.

They can make the lamest of “potential” snow falls sound like step one of the Apocalypse.

So, anyhow, the B-Day yesterday was a success, despite the yelling at the little person in our house in the AM for sulky, pouty behaviour.

If you have, or ever will have kids, you know that once in a while you have to lose your cool and yell at them like a crazy person.

I didn’t like doing it, but it worked.

I hate yelling at my daughter almost as much as the presentation of non-existent storms by the Media.

Well, the perogies were top notch (ate too much) and the cake (which my wife made, I know it was her B-Day, but she is the baker) was great too.

So fun was had by all and my daughter and I even sprang two small gifts on my wife without her knowing we got them - except for my daughter repeating (several hundred times) that we really had no secret . . .

. . . so my wife caught on.

Still, it all worked out and we even got the X-Mas tree up as is our tradition on my wife’s B-Day Sunday.

Well, got to go weather this STORM, you know, the one we are all trembling about in our houses, afraid to step outside from.

Until tomorrow . . .

Sunday, November 30, 2008

tree and b-day

Day 94 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Well, today is going to be a busy one for me.

My wife has her birthday today and there is food to make and presents to wrap - today is also the day we break out the Christmas CDs and put up the tree.

Lots to do.

And the rat cage needs cleaning again - maybe we will skip it until tomorrow night, or next weekend.

With regards to computer games - I know, where did that come from - I have a new rule now.

I can not buy another new game until the games I have loaded onto my machine have been finished.

You know I have Oblivion loaded - so I am cooked. Well, in that case, once the main quest is done it is considered finished otherwise - I mentioned cooked, right?

So short and sweet today.

Oh, and I’m making perogies for the B-Day supper.

Off to get the dough prepared, then dig through the boxes downstairs to find Bing, Elvis and the tree . . .

Until tomorrow . . .

Saturday, November 29, 2008

recharge

Day 93 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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I love weekends.

They give me time to sleep in, not commute, just spend some quiet time reading, or loud time gaming, or entertainment time watching DVDs, or fun family time.

If only weekends were three days long instead of two.

And how I would have hated to live a hundred and fifty years or so ago when the working stiff literally worked from sun up to sun down six days a week.

With no computers.

Or DVDs.

Oh, the horror.

But there can be no definition of darkness without light, and no definition of weekend without a work week.

If I had all my days off I would therefore need to artificially create a work time and work off time. I can easily see where that would lead.

I would have scheduled two four hour days of work and a five day weekend.

Of course, how much "work" would I get done if that were the case?

But for now, while I’m still employed, I’ll look forward to my two day weekend and relish each hour of it when it arrives.

Tomorrow is my lovely wife’s birthday and I’m going to be making her homemade perogies.

My daughter loves them too. And, with the danger of sounding egotistical, my perogies are AwEsOmE!

And I find it odd that my spell checker doesn’t have the word “perogies” in it. Maybe if I used the Ukranian or Polish version?

Until tomorrow . . .

Friday, November 28, 2008

Peanuts vs Grinch

Day 92 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Today’s post will be short and in the form of a question - just like on Jeopardy.

Of these two Christmas Specials, which is your favourite? (Flash up Visuals of Chuck and the Grinch on your inner mind’s eye screen)

First off I have to say, when I was a kid, these specials were something to be looked for in the TV Guide and then remembered (usually by parents) to watch. You just couldn’t see them any other way.

I recall how exciting it was each Christmas season to find out when they were on, then sit down and savour it for them first time each year.

In the digital age (now) this sort of tradition is kind of dead. I mean, you can watch these two specials any time you like - on your phone even. I mean, where is the fun in that?

But that is beside the point.

The question is, which is better? Which one stirs your Christmas spirit more? Which one typifies the season for you?

I’m going with the Grinch . . .

. . . Like minds?

Oh, and officially the US Thanksgiving is over for this year - so it’s okay to start with the Big C chatter.

Until tomorrow . . .

Thursday, November 27, 2008

three in a row

Day 91 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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-three in a row-

Well, last night marks the third week in a row I was at the bottom of the heap on the worst court.

Only 11 out of 27 possible games won.

Time to start facing a few facts.

1) I’m not young anymore.

2) I’m really out of practice.

3) Don’t got game.

There, that admission wasn’t too tough to swallow.

Last night’s excuses include - I was using new strings at a looser tension (which I liked, by the way but will take some time adjusting to). My hand was hurting me for almost the whole first hour. I’ve put on a couple of pounds (too many cookies, beers and treats about the house) and so, was a half-step slow on getting most balls.

But I hate giving excuses. The reality is I just wasn’t very good. My wife says I’m too hard on myself.

She is probably right.

Still, it is difficult to live in the now with my current (lack of) abilities when I used to be ranked a 6.0.

And just so you know, a ranking of 6.0 would let you compete on the Satellite circuit which is only one step below the ATP professional tour. No, really.

I would actually rank myself around a 4.0 to 4.5 right now. See the slide.

On the positive side, it still is fun and great exercise - just a little disappointing and frustrating.

I will continue though, but am having a hard time realizing that I just don’t have it anymore - at least not like I used to.

Until tomorrow . . .

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

personal string theory

Day 90 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Tennis is the hardest racket sport of them all. I kid you not.

And the strings you use and how tight you have your racket strung makes a difference.

I used a Max 200G for about 20 years until I switched to the Maxply McEnroe two years ago. And, I’m still figuring out how tight to string my new rackets and what string to use.

It was a piece of cake on my Max 200Gs. The tension was 58 pounds and I used 15 gauge Sensation string.

It’s what I practiced with over thousands of shots and what I got used to.

With the new rackets - I’m not quite sure yet.

I’ve tried 60 pounds (too tight in my opinion) with both 15 gauge and 16 gauge Sensation. I just broke the 16 gauge on Saturday so needed to make another choice.

I’m going to go with 58 pounds 15 gauge and see how that holds up. I will get to play with my new strings tonight.

I have a feeling I may have to string my rackets even looser. I like the feeling of the ball on the strings for a longer time than tight strings allow. Loose strings though give you a little less control and more power so it’s a trade off.

Going back a ways Borg used to string his racket at 85 pounds and McEnroe at 45 pounds, so you can see the range that you can get used to.

I need to find the tension I like and then stick with it. I’m thinking the Maxply will be the racket I use for the rest of my “career” so I should be able to figure it out in say - twenty years?

Well, off to the work spot and more office speculations.

Until tomorrow . . .

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

losing common cents

Day 89 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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It looks as though the excessive culture we have spawned here in fat North America is grinding to a snails’ crawl.

Environmentalists rejoice!

Do we all need to consume so damn much stuff all the time anyway? Do each and every one us really need a car? How many “all you can eat” buffets are enough already?

I’d say it’s high time we started living within our means and not on credit.

But this type of attitude and behaviour comes at a price. If you don’t consume like a maniac, well all those people making consumables go out of work because the demand drys up.

Vicious cycle, isn’t it?

I read somewhere that we are consuming 30 % more than the Earth can replace. Maybe this downturn will see us consuming 40 % less and put us back on a path of environmental sustainability?

But Uncle Sam and Cousin Pierre don’t want you doing anything quite so conscientious. No, lets pump billions back in the bloated excess system and try to get those fat wheels grinding down everything in their path once more.

It just takes too much brain power and thought to make any other kind of system work.

And so, here we are, on the verge of jobless rates not seen in a long while and I wonder if all those jobless numbers from way-back-when included the stay at home moms and dads?

Seems to me when I was growing up one parent (usually the mom) was at home with the kids, you know, looking after them instead of letting them run wild plugged into electronic gizmos.

I have a feeling we have lost our way wallowing in excess and are going to fall down, hard. I mean, does every new house need to be 4000 square feet? I mean really, how often are people there anyhow what with two power jobs on the go to pay for it?

Insanity I say.

And if you don’t think the kids of today are worse than the kids of yesterday - please pull your head out of your ass. Kids of two working parents may have lots of material wealth, but are lacking in behaviour wealth.

I mean, if both parents are more concerned about making cash, getting a bigger house and going on trips than they are about bringing up little Johnny, don’t you think little Johnny is likely to get the wrong message and turn into a little materialistic A-Hole?

Okay, enough ranting from me. I’ll put my teeth back in now, go out on the porch and yell at the kids walking to school by themselves to “Get the hell off my organic lawn!”

Until tomorrow . . .

Monday, November 24, 2008

career choices

Day 88 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Yup, 1988 - the year I graduated from Ryerson. See, I am an old bugger.

Holy Crap that seems like a long time ago now, doesn’t it? And I didn’t even want to graduate from there in the first place.

No, I wanted to go to U of T for Phys-Ed. But, after one year of Engineering at Ryerson I was convinced (badgered more like) to keep at it and not pursue the Phys-Ed path which would lead to earning less money than an Engineer.

I even applied to U of T and got in. I was pretty excited about it back then and really looking forward to trying out for their tennis team.

Choices are what make up a life. I should have stuck to my guns and done the Phys-Ed like I wanted. Oh, I did okay as an Engineer, but never really liked it and Ryerson only had a Badminton team (which I played on for two years) but no tennis team.

So, Engineering it was. It pays the bills, keeps me in DVDs and computer games, and that’s about it.

I was doing some reading about doing a job you love vs. what I chose. It seems you actually save more money making less doing what you love because you don’t compensate as much after hours.

. . . like computer games and books and movies and DVDs and “stuff”.

Why can’t this information be imprinted on the four year old mind? It would save a whole lot of hassle later down the road.

So, if you are just starting out on this journey called life, go for a job that will satisfy your passions, not the prospect of money alone.

All that money doesn’t do you much good if you only blow it on distractions.

Now, if only I could time warp back to 1984 and do it all over again.

And - so as not to sound too whiny or full of regrets - remember life really is what you make of it and attitude is everything despite what choices you make along the way.

I have a great family and life right now, so only the profession choice was a screwed up one.

Not bad, not bad at all really.

Until tomorrow . . .

Sunday, November 23, 2008

the old guy court shuffle

Day 87 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Well, I’ve often talked about how I still play tennis at a not-too-horrible pace for an aging guy.

Heck, last week a 68 year old thought I was 28.

Me, 28?

He must have forgotten his glasses, accidentally taken double his daily meds and been drinking heavily.

Today - you get to judge for yourself.

It’s not stellar play (just me during our Saturday tennis aerobics yesterday) but will give you some idea of how (fast, bad, good, lazy, great . . . pick any adjective you like) I am on the courts.

I was surprised to see myself moving pretty well (my footwork was not too bad), even if I duffed a couple shots (including the lazy last shot in the net - you will hear the Pro groaning about it).

Still, I’m 44. What do you want?

The video is courtesy of my daughter who was recovering from the flu and sitting on the sidelines. Normally she has lessons at the same time. She took a few more videos and there are some of me volleying and hitting overheads . . .

. . . but this one video will torture you quite enough for one day, I’m sure.

Sorry the file is a bit big. I don’t know how to shrink it. It is about 6 Meg (and only 18 seconds) and really, if it causes you problems, it’s not worth the hassle just to see me make three out of five forehand shots and run around the bubble court like a, well, like a 28 year old . . .

Still, if you must.

Here I am smacking those forehands.

You will see my new red shoes. I really like them - best tennis shoes I’ve owned so far. Tons of support, and hey, they are red.

Well, now you know what I get up to twice a week. Oh, and that racket is a Dunlop Maxply McEnroe, just in case you need even more information.

Now if only I could get sponsors to send me money. Let’s see - my shoes are Wilson, my racket Dunlop and my clothes Nike.

Until tomorrow . . .

Saturday, November 22, 2008

on the grid

Day 86 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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As my mind finds little time to focus and concentrate on anything remotely like writing I tend to exercise my muse by gaming instead . . .

Don’t worry - it’s only temporary, like some forms of insanity used during trials.

But, with the new rig and major life distractions I found a racing game which is quite challenging, yet accessible. It’s called Grid, and it looks almost photorealistic.

There are three separate circuits to race on. American, European and Japanese. You have to use different cars in each regioni and the races themselves are quite different as well.

Anything from drifting competitions and mountain chases in Japan, to time trials and Indy style in Europe, to muscle car and even demolition derby events in America. A huge variety of tracks and races as well as cars to choose from. And the cars handle differently which is actually pretty challenging when you switch zones and events.

And the coolest thing is you can start your own team. Give it a name, acquire sponsors, hire other drives, choose car colours and schemes, buy and sell as many cars as you like, and collect cash and prestige to get into higher paying and tougher races.

Very well done, but quite hard to do. There is this flashback feature that lets you rewind if you crash during a race, but so far I've used it only once. It feels too much like cheating when you do. So, win or lose I just race as best I can to the end.

Like I mentioned the graphics are as close to watching racing on TV as I have ever seen, but the damage models are a bit too forgiving. I mean, when I slam my Mustang GT at 100 miles per hour into the side of a competitor and all I get is a paint scrape and some fender damage - well you know what would happen in the real world. In Grid, you just take your knocks and keep on racing, though, if you do excessive damage you can total your vehicle.

I’m still struggling a little bit to get my knew machine up to the level of work ability like my old one when it comes to voice recording, movie making, music making, etc. Maybe over the Christmas break I’ll make it a goal to get that stuff working again so I can churn out some other types of creative projects.

I mean, I have the rig now. I just need to get the software working with it.

Well, it’s off to tennis aerobics again today and visiting some friends in the Toronto area later and breakfast calls, so . . .

Until Tomorrow . . .

Friday, November 21, 2008

no handouts for the hands out

Day 85 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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And so it goes.

Three little companies tried to convince the Gov they needed cash, and they needed it now.

“But where is your plan?” said Gov.

“Plan? We need a plan?” said the three looking perplexed.

“Yes,” said the Gov, “and it better be a good one. Now, go away and come back in two weeks time with a plan, a cunning plan, a plan so good we can cut it with a knife. And then, just maybe then, we will throw you a bone if we like it.”

“But, we need the bone, I mean the cash - right now, and it you don’t, well the entire world will collapse like an ill constructed house of credit cards.” wailed the three believing themselves clever.

“That may be so,” said the Gov yawning, “but we have a holiday to attend to, so bugger off and don’t bother us again for two weeks,” said the Gov.

And so it goes.

Don’t’ you just love hypocrisy and lunacy. Here are the Govs looking for plans. I wonder if any of them have plans, or limo drivers, or super-overly inflated paychecks (mostly tax free I may add).

Oh, it’s glorious with all its posturing, bluster and stupidity.

Oh how we toted Capitalism as the best system ever. How we laughed and ridiculed the Communists and Fascists and Socialists and any other ists out there as inferior systems devised by feeble minded tribes.

But I know little of Govs and how they pretend to work and have no constructive criticism to spew - so will leave off and let the kettle boil over.

And so it goes.

Until tomorrow . . .

Thursday, November 20, 2008

almost over

Day 84 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Well, the trip yesterday wasn’t quite as long or hideous as I predicted.

And, it didn’t snow nearly as much as the forecasters has said it would so shoveling this morning will be a breeze.

Things are looking up, well, maybe not the Stock Market - but my little patch of reality seems to be going okay.

And since I was on the road all day yesterday I kinda missed out on what up with the auto industry bailouts. The only thing I did hear was that if the US gives any money to the big 3, it is NOT to be used to save Canadian or Mexican jobs . . .

. . . I can see where this is going.

Funny thing will be if I actually get early retirement courtesy of the US Treasury Department.

Who would have thunk it a few years ago?

Stay tuned for more exciting news on the work front - soon to be the out-of-work front I’m thinking.

On a related topic we were to use a pool car to go on this trip - but, upon trying to sign out a pool car we found out that the week before they were all rounded up and auctioned off . . .

Each morning now I’ll go to work wondering if my computer, desk and chair will be there - you may get them for a good price on the chopping block and I’ll have to stand all day with my own paper and pencil to work - if the building is still there that is as well as my job.

Desperate measures with no end in sight = not a good sign.

So far I’ve not seen any employees walking around in black robes with “The End Is Nigh” signs, but some of the looks on faces reflect just that.

On the up side I did buy a thumb drive. 2 Gig for ten bucks - good deal and great for transferring the music from one computer to another and storing my writing, which appears as though its importance will increase a thousandfold very soon.

Hope I can sell it and stay out of the cardboard box.

Well, I don’t have anything more of great significance to relate (no tennis last night) so I’ll let you get on to those other sites.

Until tomorrow . . .

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

dont wanna

Day 83 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Oh how I hate business trips. Hate them with a passion.

I’m a stay at home, or stay at the office man.

But today I have to go on a day business trip.

Granted it’s not as annoying as the overnight type, but it still screws over my routine - and I like routine as these 83 days straight of blogging will attest to.

It seems I need to meet the people in the big city of Toronto who run the warehouse my products (the ones I buy) are shipped to. I guess that invention by Bell just doesn’t cut it.

I get to see a warehouse . . .

. . . All together now “Oooohhh, Aaawwwee.”

And I so wanted to be close to the I-net today to check on what the US of A was going to decide about throwing in money, or the towel, for the big 3.

Guess I’ll hear on the news on the way home.

Traffic to and from Toronto during rush hours.

Oh, the joy.

Well, if our company goes mammary glands to the sky, I’ll have my wish.

A stay at home job (writing) with no mandatory commutes or business trips to annoy me.

Only drawback - no money and having to live in a cardboard box . . .

Until tomorrow . . .

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

giving you almost 25 percent

Day 82 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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On the one hand, I can’t believe I’ve been at this for 82 days straight. It is, to me anyhow, pretty unbelievable.

And equally unbelievable is the fact that I’m not even one quarter of the way through this Marathon yet.

Holy Shite, Ratman!

I’ve even taken to drinking pre-ground coffee these days . . .

. . . for shame.

And I’m back to using AVG virus scanner again too although I’m not sure exactly why - which means annoying updates all the bloody time.

Of all the twenty years I’ve owned and operated computers, I’ve only ever had one virus and that was upon opening an email with that stupid fireworks display.

Yeah, you probably know the one.

I know better than to open or look at any email from an untrusted person now. Besides Yahoo scans the hell out of them beforehand anyhow.

Every scan I’ve ever done with AVG has turned up nothing. Of course, when you are on dial-up I think the viruses give up trying to infect your machine.

I did manage to upload most of my music now and didn’t realize how integral a part of my writing background random music really is. I bought a ten dollar flash drive with 2 Gig which should do nicely for transferring the rest of my music from my old machine.

And, I need to figure out how to download my vinyl to digital. I have about a hundred or so old records I would love to listen to again while I write.

I think there are turntables you can buy that plug into USB ports so you can upload your albums? Maybe I’ll look into this for Christmas . . .

. . . because I haven’t bought anything for myself yet . . .

. . . Okay, maybe this new computer, but it has been almost four years.

Not buying that one?

Don’t blame you.

Well, I’ve filled a page or so and you have better things to move onto.

Until tomorrow . . .

Monday, November 17, 2008

what alarm

Day 81 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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I hate sleeping in, and I did it again this morning and hence this rushed, babbling blog.

I don’t want to miss a day, and I won’t.

But sleeping in does not help the quality around here.

Anyhow, today - or at least this week - I should find out if my work place is going to ride the wave or head down the tubes.

Fun times.

If I wake up on time tomorrow, I promise a bit more.

Until tomorrow . . .

Sunday, November 16, 2008

hopeless clutter

Day 80 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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It’s just everywhere.

At least it is at my house, and I don’t think I’m alone on this one.

We started a cleanup of our basement - commonly referred to as “the dumping ground”. There is just so much “stuff”, I can’t help thinking of George Carlin’s (RIP) routine when I look at it.

My wife was told by her mother that, “it’s hopeless.”

Gee, thanks - way to inspire the troops Granny.

And so we started the grueling task of rifling through the stuff to see what needs keeping, dumping or recycling.

After one hour yesterday we could almost see a difference. It’s not hopeless, maybe closer to insurmountable. Sisyphus would be proud of our efforts.

We managed to build a pile of cardboard about two feet high, collect junk into two garbage bags, and thought, at least for a moment, we could actually see the carpet . . .

. . . but that may have been a dust or mold induced hallucination.

Today we will tackle some more.

In say, three months, we should have it under control.

Should, if more “stuff” would stop appearing to replace what we get rid of.

And with Christmas on the way - Oh, dear, not sure if we are going to get ahead of the tide.

Still, when somebody tells us something is “hopeless” it only spurs us on to prove otherwise.

Until tomorrow . . .

Saturday, November 15, 2008

comes the snowman

Not too bad, considering it’s getting on in November already.

But I know what is coming - and I don’t like it.

No sir, I don’t like it one little bit.

The snow storms I can handle. It only makes the commute a bit longer. No, it’s not the snow itself that bothers me overly much - No, it’s the idiots that don’t know, and will never learn how, to drive on it.

You know the types. You’ve seen them. Barreling along like it’s the middle of July on a major highway, tailgating and out of control.

They drive SUVs mostly.

They think just because they have a big vehicle and winter tires they are immune to physics. Yes, they are out there, and I sure as hell hope I don’t have to deal with too many of them anytime this winter.

I’ve never used winter snow tires on my car.

Ever.

Why?

Because around here you really only need them maybe one, two days of the year. All you need are some good driving skills, patience and, oh yes, that most absent and elusive of human qualities - common sense.

You see, all it takes is to use the brain in your head to know that if it is snowing like hell, maybe, just maybe, you should reduce your speed a bit and not tailgate?

And if it is a real snow storm, say 30 + cm within four hours - then stay the hell home for Cripe’s sake.

Makes sense - ya think?

So, it’s coming.

Next week we are in for our first bunch of the stuff.

The news will make it sound like an apocalypse. Maybe we should start naming any of our snowfalls over 1 cm like Hurricanes? They get treated like that already by the media so why not go the whole distance?

So, please, I beg of you. Don’t drive like an ass on the slippery, snow covered roads this winter.

Now, where is my shovel?

Until tomorrow . . .

Friday, November 14, 2008

eeek-onomy

Day 78 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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-eeek-onomy-

Well the market seems to be up and down like a toilet seat these days, doesn’t it.

Hope you life savings aren’t riding on the stocks. Mine aren’t. I have liquidity - then again, the sound of two nickels rubbing together doesn’t get you too far ahead financially. It does make a neat grating sound though - give it a try - if you have two nickels, that is.

It should be no surprise to anyone reading this that I work in the domestic auto industry - and am wondering what is up with that.

Despite several attempts to pair down the bloated operations the industry still seems to be sucking wind. Things are going to get worse before they get better.

But, they will get better - your government tells you so.

Yeah, I’m filled with relief now. So, all the government needs to do is funnel me say, 500,000 bucks, and I’ll be able to carry on my operations just fine . . .

. . . what do you mean the money is only for the financial institutions?

What a mess.

But hey, I still see food on my table and coffee in the pot - so, we are not like Afghanistan yet, or (take your pick of any one of hundreds of screwed over countries).

It is nice to see that the Canadians are not freaking out like the Americans are. Our economy is not doing too badly, however, since we are totally tied to the USA it is only a matter of time.

It’s kind of like paddling a canoe with the Titanic’s boat anchor hanging off the front. How long before you think it’s going to capsize?

Well, enough cheery news from me - if you want more please tune in to the fearmongering USA news networks and knock yourself out.

Now, if you will excuse me, I’m going to go check the bare cupboards to see if I have anything to eat for today . . .

Until tomorrow . . .

Thursday, November 13, 2008

old bones

Day 77 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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I was back to tennis again last night after a break, and I have to admit - I am not 20 anymore - at least my body isn't.

Sad, but true.

What advise can this aging tennis player give to other aging tennis players?

Do all you can not to get injured. I sat out a week and a half because of my hand, which is getting better, but still caused me problems last night.

I’m not sure if I actually broke a bone in my hand or only sprained it, but whatever happened, it lowers my game a notch or two and has me taking a little better care of my body on the courts now.

And, almost like clockwork, I can tell when I have been playing for 1 ½ hours - because that is the time my left ankle begins to hurt me a whole bunch. I even pop two Ibuprofen before every match. Maybe that’s the time the pain killers start wearing off?

So, all that said, I won 11 games last night and lost 16. I wasn’t playing full out for fear of making my hand worse, but I still managed to hit a few awesome volleys and overheads - so all was not lost.

And, despite my griping, I actually feel a whole lot healthier for having gone out to play for two hours.

So, never give up on the sports you love to play no matter your age - just be aware that as bones age they have a tendency to get injured a wee bit easier and recover a wee bit longer.

Until tomorrow . . .

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

a short fallout 3 review

Day 76 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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I know I was to have my daughter’s cello playing up today, but I still don’t have half of my programs loaded onto “the beast” yet and so can’t create mp3s at the moment.

But, as you know and fear, I do have Fallout 3 loaded.

If you could care less about computer games feel free to skip the rest of this post - I’ll pick up with non-computer game related stuff tomorrow.

And, as you also know or can guess, I can’t concentrate worth a spit with all this stuff going on in my work spot. Very distracting.

So, to take my mind off of the current situation, I head out into the Wastelands . . .

. . . First off I would have to say this may be the finest video game I’ve ever played so far. And for those who know me, you know that means many, many, (way too) many games.

If you have played the first two Fallout games, then you know how fun Fallout can be - but perhaps not how absolutely scary it can be.

And this game is scary. It reminds me a lot of Doom 3. You explore a lot of dark places and hear the sighing and stomping of creatures ready to rip your insides out. Luckily for you there is a wide variety of weapons, from baseball bats to bazookas, to help you deal with these pests.

You have many skills which you can upgrade when you go up a level. Things like sneaking, picking locks, hacking computers or small guns. Just like you would expect.

Have I mentioned the visuals are second to none. When you are traveling around you are really there. Of course, the rig you run it on plays a big part. I happen to have a GTX 260 overclocked card which makes all the difference I’m sure.

There is just so much to see and do in the Wastes, and you are given complete freedom to do them. You can be a total ass and rob or kill anybody and everybody you like, or be the shining knight in leather armor for those less fortunate than yourself.

Whatever you want, you can do it.

I’m just at a point now where I’ve discovered the subway. Wow, is about all I can say about it. The environments created for this game are mind blowing. Couple this with giant ants that breathe fire and you have a total winner in my books.

And the VATS combat system is great. You cue up your shots, ala the old style Fallout using action points, then watch them unfold in 3D slow-mo ala Peckinpah. Very, very cool.

And I have yet to encounter one problem (I do have the patch installed though) that others have ranted on about and SecuRom has given me zero issues as well.

If you have the machine to run it, you will not be disappointed to play this game. It’s a bit bleak, but hey, what do you expect after the bombs fell.

Until tomorrow . . .

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

hi tech

Day 75 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Well it seems there is just on getting over the fact that we live in a very high tech society, and its something you can’t escape easily.

Our new replacement mobile phone arrived yesterday because our old mobile phone was analog and the analog network is now defunct.

We got the new phone for free because our current provider most likely didn’t want to lose our business - good plan, and it worked.

The new phone is about the size of a hand held Next Generation phaser. The old phone reminds me of early seasons of X-Files when either Scully or Mulder would whip open a brick and talk into it.

Tech marches on and we must march with it or be left behind.

It’s like our cars getting mor computerized and soon to be electronically driven 100%.

Our minds are still those of feral apes hunting prey, but our tech is getting beyond scary - never mind the H bomb.

It is hard for our youngins to even conceive of not having colour flatscreen TVs, cell phones or digital recorders of every kind.

It’s exciting, and scary at the same time. And frustrating trying to learn all there is to know just to operate the machines.

It’s no wonder shows like Terminator are so fun. What we don’t really understand can truly be scary.

And don’t forget that it’s Remembrance Day - so, remember why we have all the high tech toys to play with.

And I really need to get more music transferred to my new computer - as much as I love Flock of Seagulls, I’ve about heard enough already.

Until tomorrow . . .

Monday, November 10, 2008

entering the wastes

Day 74 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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Well, I’m happy to report that “the beast” is a most excellent piece of machinery and I’m very happy with it.

What can I really say, except, if you are a PC Gamer then you have to satisfied with an Asus ENGTX260 Top overclocked video card.

Fallout 3 runs like a dream with no noticeable frame rate drop-outs at all in 1440 x 900 with everything maxed out - and I mean everything.

And is the game good?

Hell yeah. You are literally thrust into the wastelands in eye burning 3D surround sound immersion. At times you are amazed at the vistas before you, other times your heart is pounding as a pack of wild dogs is charging you from the wastes.

Absolutely stunning in every way.

I’m also back to using an ergonomic keyboard which takes a little getting used to all over again. It is much more comfortable while writing, but when your hands are used to the conventional layout you find yourself striking the wrong keys quite a bit.

I will get used to it though and in no time will be back to my flawless typing . . .

. . . Um, yeah.

So, back to work today . . . Oops!

Forgot - sorry bout that.

I looked out this morning to see light snow. Snow.

That is a four letter word I can do without during my commutes to work. Otherwise I love snow, grew up in the snow, drank the snow, etc.

Snow is, and forever shall be, my friend.

Unless I have to drive through it to work.

Well, I best go find out where I stored the shovels.

Until tomorrow . . .

Sunday, November 09, 2008

from the belly of the beast

Day 73 of 365 in the “Marathon of the Dope” . . .

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it is very quiet here this morning. No music eminates from my speakers as I haven't loaded in my music yet on this, the new machine, aka - the beast.

I'm even using OpenOffice Writer to make this blog instead of Wordperfect 11, which has yet to be loaded.

All is new, and somewhat unfamiliar.

The operating system is the same as my last machine, but its capabilities dwarf that old machines about ten times over in every other way measurable.

I loved it when I loaded Fallout 3, which then went into a hardware check, and automatically set everything to “Ultra-High”.

And it plays like a dream and looks as good.

Now my wife has fears of never seeing me again as I hide away in my lair playing games at all hours of the day.

That will not be the case.

Sure, some time will be spent enjoying “the beast” and newer games, but as yesterday's finished laundry can attest too - I am still upholding my familial duties.

Well, I best get at loading in all my music so the sounds of the 6, yes 6, fans in “the beast” don't become the only thing I'm hearing.

And after that, well I'm sure to be listening to Ron Perlman say,

War . . . War never changes.

Until tomorrow . . .