Friday, April 30, 2010

Nethack strategery wins the day

After reading some nethack strategies, I started a Valk a little differently, and got crazy far with her. Things went so well, and stayed so exciting that I was up until 5am playing. Was just trying the strategy out, so I wasn't keeping notes at first, but there was some real drama going on, so I wrote some up. Plenty of excitement after that too, so this story should be a bit more entertaining.

I know you all come here just to hear about my Nethack characters. You don't have to lie.

How short sighted are you? Really?

I had a short conversation with a coworker who was talking about how all the goodies the gov is handing out are ok because they're only taxing the rich and the corporations.

After a short tangent to keep him from following the logical progression of thought (if that was even possible), I asked him if he thought it was fair for a landlord to raise rent on a tenant. He predictably answered that raising rent too much was unfair, and that the government should be able to stop them from doing that. I agreed that it was unfair, and in the case of businesses, higher rent meant more overhead, and less money for workers leading to lay-offs and decreases in benefits or pay. He agreed.

I asked him what he thought happened when the government raised the taxes and paperwork overhead for the same businesses.

You could almost hear the teeth popping off his gears as they ground to a halt.

His face was on the way to angry, but stopped in the middle, and his mouth opened to respond, but stopped half way too. I seized the opportunity,

"You know that great healthcare bill? The one about healthcare? It also changes the way companies issue 1099s, it makes it so they have to issue 1099s to any business they do more than $600 worth of business with a year. You know how many vendors we do more than $600 worth of business with a year? Our fucking paper towels and tissues probably qualify. Now accounting is going to have to figure out how much they paid every vendor for the year, figure out how to issue them 1099s, issue them, and track the tax implications of those. That takes time, money to comply with, and that's not even a direct tax."

"But they're using the money for better things than a landlord would."

"Who cares what they spend it on? A lay-off is a lay-off. It's bad for the economy and, humorously enough, bad for tax revenue."

He changed the topic (sigh) and railed on how this was Bush's fault. I know he understands the implications of these taxes, he just never connected the dots that increased overhead is increased overhead. Wherever it comes from. How short sighted can you be?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Quote of the United Socialist States of America

I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money.
~Barack Obama


He goes on to talk about how people work for the economy, which shows a complete failure to understand the very basic tenants of our economy.

The reason America is an economic superpower is because her people do not have a cap on their earning potential. This allows them to tap into their most basic human function, self interest. But since one person can't succeed in a vacuum, other people benefit and succeed specifically because that one person was driven to the heights of success.

The power of America doesn't lie in that big chair you happen to be renting for four years, it lies in the spirit of free men and women. Free men and women who work for themselves, not for society, not for the economy, and certainly not for you.

But I guess that's the problem, isn't it?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Gargoyles, Chameleons, and Yeenoghus! Oh my!

[Herath's quest continues]

I test out the booby-trapped ring, and it's a ring of invisibility! This will help a bit. I leave it off for now and continue exploring. A tiger appears, and my horses make short work of it! Sweet! We find sokoban, and I brain fart on the first level and fuck it up. Goddmnit. I leave to go find a pick axe, and decide to just continue deeper. I still wanted to find an altar to get back in my god's good graces after accidentally killing my unnamed cat.

The next level down, we run into a few nasty monsters, followed by a bunch of zombies. Normally this wouldn't be too much of a problem, but one of my horses got surrounded, and died. Pushing on I discover the big room, and leave it for later, preferably when I have a ring of conflict. By now I've managed to pick up a bit of kit, and without an altar to test it out on, I'm going to have to go back to the mine town.

On the way there, my horse freaks out and starts attacking me! I avoid hurting it as best as I can, and then it starves to death. I guess it was crazed with hunger or something. It didn't matter, I didn't have anything to feed it. Alone again, I continue.

I find a general store I didn't notice before, and cost ID some scrolls. I have a general idea how much some scrolls cost, so if I get in a situation and have to take my chances reading unidentified scrolls, I can at least make an educated guess.

Back in town I sacrifice at the conveniently co-aligned altar, and get back in the good graces of my god. Instead of rewarding me with some useful item, he just summons the friendly demon Yeenoghu. I remember Yeenoghu from another game. He was kind of annoying, but he's kind of like a mascot. Yeenoghu teleports freely, and likes to jump in front of you, causing you to bump into him, and make the game ask if you want to attack him. He wasn't too much of a problem before, so I'll let him hang around. I dilute some potions and blank some scrolls so I can make some holy water and blessed scrolls of identify with my magic marker. As I start processing my equipment I realize I have a can of grease I hadn't used, so I grease my helmet, cloak, and bag. I prep my kit for the possibility of getting a full identify off a single blessed scroll, and luck out on the first try! My entire inventory is identified, but I don't really have anything gamechanging.

I maximize my kit, and bless my daggers (I still haven't been able to find more than 7 for some damn reason), and remember something I have to deal with. It's time to take on that gargoyle.

I head to the staircase, Yeenoghu teleporting around me all the way, and before I got down, I turn on my lamp, pull my +2 arrows out of my bag, and put on my ring of invisibility. He's not going to know what hit him. Yeenoghu actually follows me downstairs but doesn't get in the way too much as I put +2 arrow after +2 arrow into the gargoyle, which flails wildly trying to strike at my invisible displaced image. It took quite a beating, but it was a lot easier to kill when I could actually see it. I explore the rest of the level, and discover it is a bones level! A previous samurai died at the hands of a gargoyle (motherFUCKER!) and left a bit of kit.

After a short interlude of carrying everything from my previous character back up to the altar, I find a few bits of useful armor, but nothing too exciting. I update my kit, and continue deeper in the mines. I enter the level after the gargoyle, and wrap my towel around my head. My telepathy reveals a fucking demilich (!), a water troll, a baby white dragon, and bunch of other nasty monsters that I do NOT want to deal with right now. I quickly leave and return to town to regroup.

As I climb the staircase back to the town level, I use my telepathy again and see a fucking black dragon around the corner from me! WTF is going on!? I'm only level 10! I wait a few turns to stay by the stairs, and it changes into a newt. Oh, geez. It's a chameleon. Well, maybe I can wait until it turns into something useful... I stay blinded to watch it with my telepathy as it changes into some mediocre monsters for a few turns. Just when I think I should just kill it, it turns into a goddamn Arch Lich! FUCK! KILL IT! It teleports next to me and summons monsters! I remove my blindfold, and read a scroll of teleport! I need to stay away from it long enough for it to change into something else! I teleport across the map, and it teleports next to me and attacks me with its psychic powers! I put on the ring of invisibility and try to get away from it while staying out of the line of fire, and it turns into a yeti. I quickly drop it with 6 daggers and breathe a sigh of relief!

I decide to calm down with some potion testing, so I lock myself in the temple, and quaff away. Lucky me, the first potion I tested was hallucination. I blind myself so I can make sure I don't get surrounded while I wait off my buzz. I'm still a little on edge after the Arch Lich encounter, so I try not to freak out when I hallucinate at the Jabberwocky and Red Dragon that appear to be closing in on me.

I continue waiting, it's taking longer than normal, and I can't do anything without fear of accidentally attacking the Priestess, who would make short work of me. I continue waiting. Quite a while later, the monsters are massing outside, but I can't tell what they really are, and I'm still hallucinating! I can't do anything. Just sit. As I continue waiting, I hear crashing rock, which indicates something is digging through walls on the level. This is very bad, because if the monster opens one of the walls around the temple, monsters can get in, and I can't tell what they are and whether or not they're the Priestess. I luckily stop hallucinating shortly after that. Thank god that's over. I look at the monsters outside and realize I've got my work cut out for me.

The horde of monsters weren't that nasty, there were just a lot of them. I ready my arrows, open the door, and start firing. It takes quite a bit of time to thin them out enough that I can run out and grab the arrows to reuse, but somewhere in the fray, I manage to hit a guard, which brings all of them after me. Fortunately they don't want to enter the temple, so I'm somewhat safe from them. Dozens of salvos of arrows later, I think I've got everything. I sort through all the dropped kit (conveniently placed right outside the temple :]) and get a little better armor, and some more much needed daggers. I take out a unicorn that was a little late to the party, sacrifice it, and get its horn, which will keep me from having to put up with that hallucination crap in the future.

When everything is sorted, I realize I have a ton of money, and might be able to buy godly protection! Not sure exactly how much I need, I decide to ID some gems, and sell them for as much as I can get, and just donate it all. My god rewards my generous donation by improving my armor class by 3 points.

With the kit all sorted, and the horde dealt with, I decide to do some scroll identification. I lock myself in the temple again, take off all my good armor, throw on a pair of crappy boots, and wield a simple knife, and start reading. I find a scroll of remove curse, magic mapping, and destroy armor (good thing I wasn't wearing my good armor!) So now, faced with some nasties a few levels down in the mines, and the big room back in the dungeon, I decide it's time to deal with sokoban.

Picked up a pony on the way back to sokoban, but didn't have much hope for him. I spent about 5 minutes trying to figure out how I could fix my sokoban fuck-up, and figured out how to do it while breaking only two boulders. You can bet I was very careful for the rest of the puzzle, because I didn't want to lock myself out of the prize at the end. Along the way, my horse predictably starved to death, and I continued on.

I made it down to the last room, and realized I had taken them asleep! I carefully took out all the monsters one at a time, and got my reward; the amulet of reflection. Now I'm protected from at least some of the insta-deaths... I also make out with a few wands, one of which is a wand of fire! On the way out an ocre jelly tries to corrode my helmet, but it's protected by the grease. It also corrodes one of my thrown daggers I hadn't picked up yet. Damn! Down to 6 daggers! Where the fuck are all the daggers in this game??? I dispatch it with the silver saber I got from the mine town's watch captain, because the silver is protected against corrosion. What? He wasn't using it. I run into a kitten and dog on the way out, which join me as my new pets, but the kitten falls rather quickly to a clot of mummies. The dog takes a beating, but survives. With the pets, I do some impromptu testing on the new items, and try on some uncursed rings with no effect. I test out the wands, and all are obvious except one. I zap it at a monster, at my pet dog, and at myself. Nothing. Oh well.

Finished with sokoban, I wonder what to do now. I've got those nasties in the mines and the big room below my feet. I decide to make an outpost to get unburdened. A few levels up I find a chest, and lug it into a small, one entrance room, and start unloading when I make a startling discovery! What the shit?! When did I get blasted with water? All my scrolls are blank, and my potions are all water! Good thing I greased by bag, so its contents were protected, but still, wtf?! FUCK! MY MAGIC MARKER IS OUT OF INK! Shit! There goes all my scroll writing! Goddamnit! When the fuck did I get wet?! OH SHIT! What if I didn't get wet? What if that wand I couldn't identify was a wand of cancelation? Fuckfuckfuck! Shit. Well, nothing to do now but make this water holy. Back to the mines.

I return to the mine town, and make more holy water, and tweak my kit a bit. Still no more fucking daggers. wtf. I realize that that wand of fire might give me the upper hand against that demilich, and those other nasties downstairs. Hell, it's either them or the big room. I adjust my pack for the fight, and go back down.

Yeenoghu is waiting for me on the level above my destination, so I make sure he doesn't follow me down, because I'm going to need a clear line of fire at that demilich. There are a few gnomes I can deal with before getting to the demilich, and to my great pleasure, they start throwing daggers at me! Daggers! Finally, daggers! I quickly dispatch the gnomes, and pick up 9 more daggers! Sweet! Ok, demilich time now. The demilich seems to have trouble with me being invisible, and can't seem to corner me or hit me with any substantial spells. I dance around until I get a line of fire on it, Say hello to my little friend! I zap the wand of fire, and it turns to dust! WTF! The wand of cancelation cancels wands too?! Shit! I switch to arrows, and unleash salvo after salvo, but he keeps healing, and I can't wear him down! Eventually I run out, and realize I need to gather my arrows to try again! I unblind myself, and remember that it's invisible, so I can't see it now. Shit. It could corner me if I'm not careful. So I walk awkwardly around so as to avoid being cornered by the invisible monster, while picking up the arrows I will need to kill it. It takes a few swipes at my displaced image, and gets close enough to cast a spell on me! My boots disintegrate! Fuck these arrows! I'm out of here! I return to the town level, and intentionally leave Yeenoghu below me, because he's getting on my tits with this constant teleporting in front of me. I get some new boots from my pile of stuff in the temple, and identify and stack the new daggers with my old ones. Finally, I can start kicking some ass! I return to the demilich, leaving my god upstairs with Yeenoghu (he won't mind), and start pelting it with daggers. It heals once, and dies before it can recharge its magic enough to do it again. It drops a ring that I will not be trying on until I'm very sure it's safe.

Through some luck of the map layout, all the other nasties were behind another wall, and stuck there until I was done with the demilich. I grabbed my large dog from upstairs, and moved around the corner, still invisible, and started picking them off. I actually wound up with a nice corridor that they walked through while I pelted them with arrows. I emptied both stacks of arrows before I took them all out, but I was ok, and gathered up all the dropped kit. I was hoping the baby white dragon would leave scales, but it didn't. Lost my large dog in the fight. My poor pets...

I gather the kit, and ID it at the town. The ring was cursed, so I dipped it in some holy water to uncurse it and tried it on to no effect. Hmmm... Kit handled, I was going to to the demilich level, and FINALLY get to the bottom of the mines.

On the way, Yeenoghu had been getting in front of me in the small corridor on the way from the upstairs to the downstairs, so I went the long way up and around. I accidentally bumped into him (for the millionth time), and Nethack asked me if I wanted to attack him, except I was going up and to the right, which is "y" on the directional keys. I attacked Yeenoghu due to the typo, and he teleported away. Oh shit... that was bad... Where'd he go? Is he coming back? I gotta get the fuck out of here! I take a few steps toward the stairs, and Yeenoghu teleports right next to me, and misses me a few times, then teleports away. Fuckfuckfuck. This is bad. Maybe being invisible and displaced will give me enough chance to make it off this level. I take a few more steps and Yeenoghu teleports next to me again, and casts a spell! I'm pelted with hundreds of missiles! I'm at 13 health! Shit! That's low, but I don't think it's low enough that my god will heal me! I try for the pray anyways, and my god protects me for a few turns, but doesn't heal me. I've got one more turn left before I eat it. I don't have enough turns to dig a hole through the ground, and a scroll of teleport is useless because Yeenoghu will just teleport next to me again. I check my inventory again, and realize it's time to whip out something I was saving for a bad situation. Not a very good Hail Mary, but my only one. I reach into my knapsack, and pull it out, point it at Yeenoghu, and... "SAY CHEESE!" I take a candid shot of Yeenoghu with my expensive camera as he tries to cast a spell at me, he is blinded by the flash! RUN LIKE HELL! I move one space away from him, and he hits hits me with his missile spell. Apparently he doesn't care if he's blind or not... Herath the Orcish Ranger dies. Killed by a typo.

Ok, so, in the future? Yeenoghu is getting brought back to level 1, and ABANDONED. Thanks a lot Mars, fat lot of help summoning him for me was. He just gets in my damn way and fucking kills me! Bah!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Have you ever seen a real life strawman argument?

Click here if you want to.

I mean... this is... literally... the definition of a strawman argument.

They disagree with what they think the protest means, so they are pretending to be a member of the protest, and basing their actions on what they think the protest means.

This is putting words in the mouths of your political opponents, and then pointing at yourself and and saying that your opponents are foolish.

What does this prove?
What does this mean?
What does this accomplish?


Well, it DID accomplish something... It made the TEA partiers more likely to show up to counteract this feeble attempt, and it downplayed any of the honest crazies that showed up. Sooo... good job...

If this is the best the opposition can muster, I can't wait until November.

10 Years of Nethack!

I recently recalled that I've been playing Nethack off and on since 2000.

10 years of being turned to stone.
10 years of drowning.
10 years of being zapped with wands of death.
10 years of being swarmed by insects.
10 years of being killed by priests.
10 years of starving to death.
10 years of chameleons being imitating nasty monsters.
10 years of dead pets.
10 years of rustmonsters destroying my equipment.
10 years of falling down stairs.
10 years of eating floating eyes.
10 years of poisoned dart/arrow insta-deaths.
10 years of pissed off Gods.
10 years of unaligned altars.
10 years of polymorphing pets.
10 years of teleporting away.
10 years of getting killed in expected ways.
10 years of getting killed in unexpected ways.

...and one exploding draw bridge.

In all that time, I've yet to get even remotely close to winning.

But for all the nastiness Nethack throws at me, for all the murderous brilliance it seems to concoct, when I look back, all I can remember is the fun.

It's not all fun, of course. There's a lot of fear. This is the only game I play where I will feel real fear when I play. The reason this game incites real fear is because you only get one life. You can have dozens of hours into a game, and a character, and just lose it all. You're mostly on borrowed time until you can find some protection from the game's many insta-deaths. Even then, survival is far from assured. But for a game that seems so unfair, for almost every death, there was some way for you to avoid it. So for the most part, your death is because of your ignorance.

To remedy that ignorance, you can read the spoilers, or you can learn the way I did. With blood. Elf blood, human blood, orc blood, dwarf blood. Dead valkyries, dead rangers, dead samurai, dead rogues, dead barbarians. As long as you learn from each death, you're improving.

So, atop of small hill of dead avatars, I quaff my potion of booze to 10 years of dead @'s, and to 10 more!

Sure it's the hardest game I've ever played, and it's the only game that does everything in its power to kill you in any way possible, and it comes with randomly generated insta-deaths, and you only get one life, and it's loaded with intentionally dangerous items, and its Gods are fickle, and it has a difficulty curve like a hockey stick, and... wait, where was I going with this?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Startup starting up.

My partner and I got our first *big* check for our small business this weekend, and we're using it to buy some equipment we need. We also had a very good meeting with a company I know we can help.

It's starting to feel official now.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Herath the Orcish Ranger

Herath the Orcish Ranger enters the mazes of menace, with his trusty dog Sirius in tow...

I check Herath's kit and see he started with a cloak of displacement (I forgot Rangers start with this!), and the usual; a dagger, and bow and arrows. A bunch of blessed +0 arrows, and even more blessed +2 arrows. I ready the regular arrows so I can save the +2s for an emergency, then switch to my alternate weapon, a +1 orcish dagger, and begin my descent.

I find a pair of riding boots that Sirius doesn't seem too bothered by, so I try them on and start levitating! Sweet! Boots of Levitation! These aren't too helpful now, but they can be useful later. I contemplate wearing them regularly to take advantage of the recoil of firing arrows, but I'm going to be trying to get my dagger skill up, so I figure they'll be more trouble than help.

Sirius is happy to take on anything he gets close enough to, and I'm happy to let him. It was especially easy to distract the monsters while Sirius attacked with my cloak of displacement. I'd prefer he toughen up before I start doing the same. I avoid direct combat quite well for a while, and we enter the mines so we can check out the town. We actually get two levels into the mines without me leveling up at all, and after I take a few poorly thrown weapons, and almost die, I realize that I need to get above level 1 if I expect to stay alive long enough to level up slowly. I start fighting, and get to level 3 almost instantly.

As we continue to fight, I realize I keep falling into the Valkyrie playing style (specifically, attack the thing until it dies), but this Ranger isn't as strong or hearty as a Valk. I actually get near death a few times before I realize I can't go melee with a dagger until I level up a bit. I switch to my bow and +0 arrows for now, and hope to find more daggers so I can start throwing them instead of shooting arrows. Arrows can break when used, but daggers don't break with normal use. One level before the town, Sirius takes out a dwarf, and I lug it all down to the town for cursed status identifying.

I get lucky with a coaligned altar in town. First time that has happened in a long time! I drop all my kit on the altar, and determine what's safe to use, and what's not. There's no chest or box here, so I just pile the useless stuff in the corner. After testing, I try on the armor I've found, and finally get my armor class to something acceptable. Whew! Hopefully that will keep me from getting my ass kicked so badly.

I checked the shops, but didn't find much more than a few apples, so I pack up for exploration before continuing deeper into the mines. I wanted to get the luckstone before I leveled up and was facing nastier monsters. The next level put me against some pretty easy monsters, so I had high hopes.

Next level down was kind of open around the staircase, and though it was dark, I could see with my orcish infravision (heat vision) that some weak gnomes were closing in. Sirius and I took them on, and I managed to pick up a few daggers that were thrown at me to add to my throwing pile, so things were going well. Then a freakin' gargoyle appeared right next to me, and attacked my displaced image! Shit! I couldn't see it because it doesn't give off body heat! I hate gargoyles! I dodged as best I could, trying to get a shot on him without getting hit by its heavy stone claws, but without a light source, I couldn't see it until it was right next to me! At least I've got some room to move around in, if this were in a small area, I'd probably be dead by now! I threw all my daggers at it, and hit it with +2 arrows whenever I could, but it just kept coming! Sirius jumped into the fray, and was struck down! Fuck! I gotta get out of here! I try to circle around the area, hoping to lose the gargoyle in the dark, but he surprises me from a side I wasn't expecting him! He's faster than I thought! I take a few good hits, and things look bleak, I try to rush for a corner, hoping to get a space away from him, and he gets me down to 8 health. Lucky he got me so low without killing me, my god will probably save me. I pray, and Mars heals my wounds. Time for an exit strategy.

I look at the area, the walls, and the location of myself and the gargoyle. I decide to try for the daggers I threw earlier before I escape. I need those daggers. Without them I'll be burning through arrows or going toe-to-toe without Sirius's backup. I move so that a newt I had been ignoring would get between the gargoyle and me, and was pretty sure I put a few spaces between us. I still couldn't see a damn thing, but I somehow managed to find the daggers and pick them up with the gargoyle finding an hitting me only a few times. I escaped upstairs plus a few daggers, but minus a faithful dog. I'm alone. I need to be more careful. I immediately go to the lighting shop, and buy a lantern. I don't want to end up running for my life in the dark again.

I type "goddamn gargoyle" into my notes for that level, and leave the mines to continue exploring the regular dungeon in the hopes of getting stronger, or a good item to help kill that goddamn gargoyle. I run into a kitten, and I give it one of the few food rations I have. I'd rather take my chances with hunger than lacking some backup. The kitten joins me, but I blank on a name for it. No names just yet. Don't want to get too attached.

We run into a damn Golden Naga hatchling Why does the RNG hate me?, but I'm in a good position to take it on. I threw 8 daggers and shot 6 +2 arrows to take it down. If that thing took me in another location, I probably would have eaten it. Lucky... I guess...

We found a hardware store full of good finds. I moved the kit around so my kitten would be more likely to steal the things I wanted first, and found a magic whistle! I bought it immediately, and used it to... facilitate... kitty's thieving. He's actually a better thief than most of my pets.

After a bit of shopkeep distracting, we've made off with a bag of tricks (good for sacrificing monsters to Mars), a skeleton key (good for locked doors and chests), and a freakin' magic marker! One hell of a good haul for a single shop.

The next level down I find a few more potions, and decide to do some testing. I find a room with only one entrance, and get my cat next to me. I quaff one of the questionable potions, and fall asleep. Oh well, that's why I have my pet next to me. I wake up with a weak zombie having beaten me down to 16 health! Where the fuck is my cat?! The zombie should be pretty slow, so I run for the far side of the room, and send send some daggers its way, destroying it. I start picking up my daggers, and my cat wanders in, oblivious to the fact that it almost killed me with its idle wandering. I walk past it angrily to pick up my last dagger, and a housecat rounds the corner, and starts attacking me. Normally this wouldn't be an issue, but I'm already dangerously low on health! I try to put some distance between us, but I'm only barely outrunning it. Once I get a few spaces away, I've backed myself into a blind corridor, and don't know if it's a dead end, or leads to more room to run, so I fight. Since the housecat enters the corridor, and I throw a few daggers its way. I hit it a few times as it takes another step closer to me. Beyond the menacing housecat, my cat wanders dumbly into the line of fire, directly behind my target. I'm too weak, and too trapped, I need to kill this thing on this turn. I throw a salvo of three daggers. The first dagger kills the housecat, and the other two fly past its corpse, and into my poor, oblivious cat, killing it. Fuck... Poor little guy. Didn't even have a name. Alone again, I move on.

I enter a room, and spot a ring on the floor. Sweet! Free ring! I rush over the snatch it up, and-- KABOOM! The ring was on a landmine, and now I'm at half health, and in the hole made by the explosion. Well, it could have been worse. At this point, a horse appears at the edge of the hole I'm in, and starts attacking me, then ANOTHER horse appears, and starts attacking me! Shit! I'm in a really bad position! Horses are fast, and their both blocking my escape from this hole! I contemplate using a scroll of teleport, and check my inventory, but then I find the perfect solutions to both of these problems! I pull out the two apples I bought back in the mine town, and feed the two wild horses, who happily join me as my pets. I struggle out of the hole, and admire my new pets for a moment before moving on.

[Herath's quest continues]

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Quote of the SPROING

<breda> I have decided I don’t like EBRs.
<jayg> Why not, Breda?
<breda> They feel fake to me, like they’re the Glock of rifles
<jayg> That's because they are.
<jayg> And there is nothing wrong with Glocks.
<stingray> They're legos for big kids.
<breda> And I don’t like that “sproing” sound they make
<jayg> That’s the "sproing" of freedom!

From Gunblogger Conspiracy IRC Channel. And, no, you don't have to be a gunblogger to join in the fun.

Inside My Mind (Blue Skies) - Groove Armada

[direct link]

Some downbeat to ease into the weekend.

"Read my lips..."

I won't raise taxes income taxes on households making under $250,000 a year.

A Value Added Tax isn't a tax on income! So even though it's a tax, and households making under $250,000 a year will pay it on every single purchase they make, he didn't break his promise that he later changed! See? CHANGE!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

April 19th desert shoot!

I scheduled the day off so I could celebrate the the battles of Lexington and Concord (the first of the American revolutionary war) the only way I knew how; shooting. I thought I'd be on my own, but lucked out twice, and my brother-in-law and dad were able to join me.

Since I've been so damn busy, and unable to shoot for so long, I had a short list of things I needed to do. I was a little worried that shooting with a "to do" list would take some of the fun out of it, but I barely noticed. Besides, the worst day shooting is still better than the best day working.

We drove out to the sooper seekrit location, and were greeted with the thing I love most about the desert; silence. Nothing but the lizards and the scrub.

The new steel target was set at 50 yards, and we started breaking it in. Since we brought a lot of pistols, we started with those, and worked our way up. Then we switched to shooting soda cans and little 1"x2" hot sauce bottles. We moved the steel target back to 100 yards, and continued more earnestly.

A few things stick out;

Hitting at 10" gong at 100 yards with my 1911 was awesome. I hit 2 times out of 10, I called the 8 misses though. Dad shoots his duty pistol so much, he nailed it almost every time. Practice practice practice...

Hitting a 2" wide salsa bottle off the top of the gong at 50 yards on my first try was even more awesome. The gong actually rang when I hit it, so I thought I hit the gong and knocked it off, I walked up to reset it for the next person, and saw I hit it! I thought it might have broken from the fall, but there was salsa splattered on the back of the gong. Nailed it! I love that 45.

My rifle hit every target at which it was aimed with monotonous regularity. I wish I could get more excited about it, but I guess that comes when using your rifle becomes natural. You don't get excited when you catch some keys tossed to you, or drive your car successfully, you already know you can do it.

My Garand was the belle of the ball. It was the first time I had shot it, and was amazed at how slight the recoil was, and how it seemed to be right back on target after each shot. I know it's a heavy gun, but the balance is so good, it's hard to notice. The 30-06 also pounded the hell out of the steel, and made for some fun for the spectators. The sights were easy to use, and the two stage trigger made hitting the targets a breeze. When we were done, I wished I had bought more ammo for it, because I loved shooting it. (The day after, I picked up another box of ammo just so I could have something for it)

The Enfield (AKA The Joker), was a close second to the Garand as a favorite. My brother, having now reconciled with the gun that tried to take his eye, finished up his third magazine and said, "It's like cheating! I'm not even trying, and it hits anything I aim at!" I thought we'd have a little more trouble with the long single stage trigger, but it wasn't a problem at all. Since we had more 303 than 30-06, the Enfield got a lot of attention.

The 91/59 was shooting high, but not too high, so I was able to correct on the rear sight. I seemed to miss more than I expected with it, but I'll know for sure once I get it on a bench. The surplus steel core ammo was actually fine against the steel gong, lucky me. I'm not one to complain about recoil, but I could definitely feel it after 50 or so rounds. After the tuneup I gave it, there was no more sticky bolt or rimlock.

I caught a few flinches on unexpectedly empty chambers, but I hit everything before it, so I feel like I'm beating the flinch or something.

Making a can dance never gets old. Ever.

Quote of the difference

You know what else us Tea Partiers have in common that your "true" Americans don't?

97% of us VOTE!

You know, that might be the single most important thing about this movement. Almost every single person you see at one will vote. They won't forget, they won't wait for someone else to do it for them. They WILL vote. I can't help but wonder if we set a 30 year record for amount of people voting in this mid-term. Wonder what'll happen in 2012...

Quote is from Jim, who has a great rant about the media's take on the TEA party.

Oh yeah, he's also a fucking rocket scientist. :)

"The greatest single battle implement ever devised by man."

My new-to-me Garand. CMP Service Grade purchased by a nice fellow who didn't even get a chance to shoot it before he had to sell it. More than 50 years old and a longgun between private parties, so it was cash and carry (I love paperless rifles). When I got it home and started fondling it, the first thing that surprised me was the weight. I knew Garands were heavy, but it didn't feel heavy, it felt perfectly balanced. It snapped to my shoulder and cheek like it was returning home. The trigger was a crisp two stage, and much more than I had been expecting of a military rifle. As I disassembled it for detail cleaning I marveled at the brilliance of the complex-yet-simple action. The same action that refused to fail Americans from desert's scorching heat to the north's blistering cold. Truly, a machine worthy of General Patton's famous praise.

Clicky any image for full size

The rear handguard is darker and more beat up than the stock. The blemishes are captured well in the pictures, but the dark wood masks most of them under normal light.

Ditto for the front handguard.

The stock is beautiful walnut, with a few dings.

The internals after a thorough cleaning to remove some nasty blobs of cosmo.

Wanting to get to start practicing as soon as possible, I decided to make my own Garand dry firing adapter using a Dixon dry erase marker. I cut it at the vertical line of the "D." Remember to cut long so you can shorten it later. The point is to get the bolt to stop just after the hammer catches, so it's easy for you to reset the hammer by pulling the bolt handle back only a short amount.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Impressive customer service

I was cleaning my paintball markers last night, and realized my Phantom needed some parts. Nothing too critical, just parts that make it run a little more smoothly, and some new springs to replace the lighter springs that were giving me low velocity.

I checked the availability of the parts, and found them available from CCI (producer of the Phantom) for distractingly reasonable prices, but I could only order by phone, so I gave them a call.

Mike Cassidy, designer and producer of the Phantom since 1987, answers the motherfucking phone!

Once I realize it's really him, I compliment him on his marker design, and place my order, which he says he'll rush out to send so he can make the last pickup of mail.

I'm just not used to service like that. Especially from what I later found was a one-man shop that has been kicking butt for over 20 years. Phantoms are still very popular lightweight pump markers. Awesome.


I just realized...

At the meeting, I was drinking tea, and he was drinking coffee!

Face to face with the "Coffee Party"

I had a business meeting this morning and while chatting, the person I was talking to indicated that he was not only a member, but an organizer of the local Coffee Party.

I thought they only existed in the NY Times... :)

I pretended I hadn't heard of it so I could get a better idea of his political fervor, no sense stirring shit if it was just going to make everyone angry. As he explained the coffee party in a well-reasoned manner, without an emotional overload, I decided to talk with him about it. He ended his description by saying it was a kind of rival group to the TEA party, and asked if I had heard of it. I explained that I was a bit of a TEA partier myself, and he didn't instantly react negatively, so we talked about politics a bit.

He basically described the Coffee Party as a group for open factual debate of the issues instead of namecalling. As he explained what they were for and against, he actually hit a number of points that coincided with the TEA party. I realized that the Coffee Party wasn't actually about opposing the TEA party, it was about opposing how the TEA party was being represented. He even expressed surprise that some of the TEA partiers he had engaged were very well reasoned and well informed, but seemed to think they were in the minority.

They were fighting the strawman the media had erected.

I find it very disturbing that the media's oversimplification of the issues is driving a wedge between people who would otherwise agree with eachother.

We finished the political discussion, and returned to business and were just as friendly as before we discovered we were on opposite sides of the political spectrum. Maybe this is because we really weren't.

Rocking Chair - Mr. Scruff

[direct link]

Irvine California Tax Day TEA Party

flickr photoset


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Quote of the TEA party

That's the thing about these Tea Parties that the media is completely missing out on: You can get college students to riot over anything, but when you've got Ma and Pa Kettle so pissed off that they manage to squeeze in some amateur sign-carrying and protest-chanting between a hard day at work and picking up the kids from soccer practice, you have wakened a sleeping giant, my friend.

TEA party pictures soon

I managed to squeeze an hour in at my local tax day TEA party, and took a bunch of pictures. Those will be up tonight or tomorrow.

Quick thoughts;
99% of the signs were handmade.
Somehow almost all of these evil racist homophobic violent protesters looked like my grandma.
Saw two overt birthers, and one truther.
No signs were really over the top (IE party crashers)
Only one young couple refused to have their picture taken with their sign, and avoided me.
Lots of petition signing going on.
Parking overflowed into nearby lots, had to walk for about 5 minutes to get there.

Update: flickr photoset here

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

More Taxes or More Jobs?

California leads by example, reminding the rest of the country that you can either have more taxes or more jobs, not both.

Death by 1000 cuts is a perfect way to word it.

Lets dust off the old Laffer curve...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

My Rifle

Stag. Lower, LPK, upper, stock, and buffer are Stag Arms. It's really nothing too special, but it's reliable. I'm not sure why Stag gets a bad rap. The only issue I had with it was some upper/lower pin fitting, but after that, all it needed was lube and the occasional cleaning. I cycled about 500 rounds of wolf through it (only 500 because it's useless for anything but short range plinking), and it stank, but it cleaned up just fine. I had some issues with feeding initially, but those disappeared when I broke it in and/or learned how to lube it properly. It has been smooth and accurate, and I'd buy another in a heartbeat. The carry handle sight holds a zero nicely, no matter how many times I remove and replace it.

Handguard. The Magpul MOE Handguard was the only purchase that was made only for aesthetic reasons, but it turns out that it's actually a better fit for my small hands. Since it's easier for me to get a grip around the smaller handguard than around the standard handguard, I've noticed more recoil control, and better general control when holding the rifle by the handguard.

Zero. It's zeroed for 200 yards with the Improved Battlesight Zero. I'm waiting until I can get some better distance estimation before I zero it back to 300 yards. I've considered a thinner sight post because I really like them, but I'm going to wait to make sure it would improve my shooting. If it ain't broke, and all that...

Flash Hider. It's fitted with a Vortex flash hider, which virtually eliminates muzzle flash, especially under semi-automatic fire. While flash elimination is technically useful, it really doesn't apply to defense shooting, so it's really just a neato purchase. But the best thing about it is that it rings like a tuning fork when the bolt closes. Just a little bit more character for the rifle. :)

Left. The Stag lefty upper is due to my cross dominance. Interestingly enough, I shoot more accurate single shots left handed, but more accurate rapid fire right handed. Despite being a lefty upper, I don't have any problems shooting right handed. I also haven't had any complaints from other people who have shot it right handed. Because the upper is the only part that is left handed, I've worked out different ways to operate the mag release (on the AR that isn't mag-locked), and can reach the bolt release with my left middle finger, but I have to break my grip to do it.

Stock. A Stag Arms 8 position stock with a zip tie around the back of the stock to attach the small clip of a sling that won't around the thick loops for a sling to run through. Just more mounting points.

Beard Saver. There is a crocheted wrap around the beginning of the stock to keep errant beard hairs from becoming pinched between the stock and buffer tube. When this happens, beard hairs are yanked out, much to the shooter's annoyance. You can decrease the chance of this by getting a stock that fits the buffer tube better, or you can eliminate it by buying something like the Magpul UBR. Or you can just spend a few fractions of a cent on a short length of camo yarn, and do what I've done. No beard hairs have been lost since then. Some electrical tape has also been placed over a hole in the top of the stock which, much less commonly, was known to pull beard hairs.

Grip. Inside that Magpul MOE grip is a complete replacement (lefty) bolt, and a field repair kit of spare parts. Aside from storage, the grip also improves on the original ergonomics in a number of ways. It's thicker, which allows for a stronger grip because it fits my hand better. It's at less of an angle, which gives my wrist a more natural, and therefore more comfortable and stronger, position. Finally, the new backstrap repositions the web of my hand so that the trigger pull is more straight back. All these things mean more comfort in shooting, and more strength in one-handed holding. I bought it for the storage, but the ergonomics were a pleasant surprise.

Safety. I use an ambi-safety because I find it easier to operate from both sides. Using my thumb to push it down into the firing position, and the first joint on my trigger finger to drag the lever back to safe. I have small hands, and I don't know if you're supposed to be able to flip the lever to safe with your thumb, but I can't, and this is what works. With practice, it's very smooth to go back and forth without compromising your grip.

Lock. California legal ARs must be in one of two configurations. This configuration includes "evil" features (pernicious pistol grip, atrocious adjustable stock, and foul flash hider!) so it must have a magazine of a capacity no greater than 10, and that magazine must require a tool to remove. I've used a Bushmaster mag lock (the silver nut where the mag release should be) with a Bushmaster 20 round magazine body that's blocked to only take 10. At first I was bothered by only having 10 rounds in a defense weapon, but I realized that I could do more with 10 rounds in this rifle than I could with more rounds in any other gun.

Sling Mount. At the base of the buffer tube is a Vltor ambidextrous single point sling mount. It's set for lefty right now, and I like the single ring instead of two rings on both sides. I may replace it with one of those new slider mounts that lets the mount clip slide from left to right, but it's not to difficult to hold it right handed in the same mount. I like the idea of single point slings for some situations, but I've tried to keep as many slinging options open as possible.

But all that is just half of what makes this my rifle. The other half is me.

Me. I can't say that I have shot my rifle until the pins walked out and the handguard grooves wore smooth, it only has about 1500 rounds through it. But I've tried to learn from each one of those rounds. I have no interest in making noise and flash, I want my rifle to be an extension of my will. Live fire practice was only a part of the training. In fact, for every real bullet I've shot, I've probably shot three imaginary ones. Practicing shooting "O"s on the teevee with my unloaded rifle has grown the rifle to my shoulder, the stock to my cheek, and the sights to my eyes. As I've said before;
You will be amazed when spotting a target, snapping your rifle to your shoulder, lining the sights on your target, and achieving a motionless trigger break comes as naturally as reaching your hand out, and catching a ball in the air.

I'm not sure the rifle is a complete extension of my will just yet, but it's damn close. I look forward to that day, and will continue to work toward it.

Upbeat and Downbeat

Ring My Bell - Anita Ward

[direct link]

Humming - Portishead

[direct link]
No hesitation
Give me
All that you have

And it's been so long, that I can't explain
And it's been so wrong
Right now, so wrong

My thoughts are creeping
Too late
The show has begun

And it's been so long, that I can't confess
And it's been so wrong
Right now, so wrong

Is it all as it seems
So unresolved, so unredeemed
If I remain, how will I know

And it's been so long, that I can't be sure
And it's been so wrong
Right now, so wrong

Monday, April 12, 2010

Quote of the ungovernment

A government is a body of people; usually, notably, ungoverned.
~Joss Whedon


Honestly, this really sucks the drive right out of you. What's the point?

From Yuri via IRC

Autotune the news is awesome.

Autotune The News is a collection of videos where they electronically "tune" the actual voices of people in the news to fit in a song they produce around the news items. It's also goddamn hilarious.

Here's the most recent video, and here's the second most recent.

The most recent video has Close Captioning, which I recommend you turn on, and the second has the words along the bottom.

As near as I can tell, these are actual words spoken by these newscasters, politicians, and pundits. I must express disbelief at some of the idiotic topics that come up in congress, and confusion about Katie Couric's writers (at least I HOPE she has writers for this drivel).

All 7 Attendees Agree… Belleville "Coffee Party" a Huge Success


But don't worry, by CNN's count, there were 100,000 people who showed up.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Quote of the that's HIS problem...

To put this in perspective, when you shoot somebody in self defense, the goal isn’t necessarily to kill them, it is to stop them. You want the bad guy to stop doing whatever it is they are doing that caused you go pull a gun in the first place. Live or die is really irrelevant. You want them to leave you alone. Sadly, the best way to make somebody leave you alone is to shoot them in their vital organs, and that often results in the bad guy’s death. But that’s his problem, not yours.
~Larry Correia

Monday, April 05, 2010

Quote of the solution to the problem IS the problem!

The regulatory scheme in the US has grown so complex that no one and no organization can understand the entirety of the impact of any new additions or changes. That's an argument for reducing mandates, not expanding organizations to somehow retain competency, because as Hayek argues, it becomes impossible to predict and resolve problems. Instead, the organization creates problems and then has to fix them, creating even more unforeseen problems that require even more interventions, and so on.
~Ed Morrissey

ObamaCare timing hoist by excessive regulation petard

Hotair: The knowledge problem: Congress doesn’t have any, even its own bailiwick
The act required CEOs to release information as though under oath in order to hold them criminally responsible for misleading financial statements, ... If these companies know that they will lose the money from the tax credits Democrats canceled, they have to inform their shareholders immediately, not in 2014 [when most of the health care reform bill activates], thanks to the rules Congress imposed on them.

Congress tells these big companies they have to report any possible negative financial news ASAP to keep them honest, then they write ObamaCare specifically so the timing is to their favor, holding off on the major changes until after elections to minimize the legislation's negative impact on the elections. Except the big companies have to report the potential negative impact of the legislation as soon as they get the news, regardless of the carefully developed timeline.

It seems the level of regulation has gotten so great that not even the people who write the regulation can understand the full impact of their actions.

This way lies a collapse of our regulatory legal system, or our civilization. I'd prefer the former.

Friday, April 02, 2010

New layout!

Now with header randomizer!

Enjoy hitting F5!

Good news! 162,000* new jobs!

*number may include 48,000 temporary jobs created by hiring by the Census Bureau

I <3<3 my laptop

About five years ago I got my eMachines m5309. Over two years ago I made this post about my laptop.

My epically reliable emachine scared me recently. You see, the power cable had been problematic after years of twisting and pulling, and refused to work unless the cable around the plug (on the laptop end) was just so, so I used a zip tie to hold the cord in a position that kept the power flowing. I knew it was bad to bend electrical cords so severely, but it ran, and I hoped it would hold out until the laptop gave up the ghost. It would have to be soon, right?

Nope. For about a year and a half, the laptop chugged merrily away until just recently. There was a pop, a flash, and the smell of burning electrical equipment. The heat melted the shielding around the core wire, and electricity arced between the two poles, shooting sparks, and burning a hole straight through the outer insulation. I fiddled with the cable, and satisfied my curiosity that it was teh dead...

Well, it had a good run. No, a GREAT run! But it's still a shame that it ends like this. Especially from an issue with the cable. Of course it happens at a time when we've run into a number of other unexpected expenses... When it rains it pours. Well, might as well see if I can salvage anything from it.

I then set about loose-wiring up the power to see if the motherboard and (most importantly) hard drive were ok. I was pretty sure the hard drive was ok, but didn't have much hope for the motherboard. Those kinds of voltage spikes can easily mess up sensitive electronics.

I pulled apart the power plug (on the laptop side), until it was down to the bare cylinder of the plug with the wires soldered to the housing, and twisted them together with the newly stripped wires from the AC adapter. I plugged it in to the laptop, made sure the wires were secure, and plugged the AC adapter into the wall...

It didn't blow up, which is a good sign, and the light indicates it's getting power. Lets try turning it on... It started up normally, and all the files were available! It was running a little slow, but I was just happy it ran! I'll be able to save my data! I can't believe it's ok after that... Hmmmm... The plug is destroyed, but everything else still works. I can't just wrap it up with electrical tape, because this thing gets too hot, and it'd probably melt right off the wires. Even if I use wire caps, they still won't be that secure. Maybe I can just soldier the wires directly to the motherboard. That would be pretty secure. If only I could make a new plug...

I wander around the house, looking for something I can use to make a strong housing for the plug, when lightning strikes! JB Weld!

I clean the wires and leads as best as I can, and twist them together as tightly and completely as I can, then mix up the JB Weld. I applied it while it was still runny, and it insisted in drooping to whichever side was at the bottom, so I kept flipping the JB Weld covered wires and plug until it started to become more solid. I worked it with the chopstick I used to mix it to make sure it fit around the wires and plug correctly, and in a few minutes (I used the 4 minute kind), it was almost rock solid. I eyed my handiwork and noted that the drooping exposed a few tiny points of the twisted wires that were just barely visible in the light. I wrapped the ends in electrical tape for added safety, and let it set for a little longer.

I plugged it in to the wall, and it didn't explode, which was good. (I later realized that I didn't think to check if JB Weld was a conductor. I'm lucky it's a strong insulator, because if it WAS a conductor, I would have permanently encased the plug in conducting steel, and probably destroyed the AC adapter with a full short) I plugged it in, and it worked fantastically!

After testing the box for a bit, I kept noticing how slow it was. When it overheated and shutdown on me, I realized I hadn't cleaned the heatsink in a very long time! I cracked it open and found the heatsink almost completely blocked with compacted dust! It had been overheating so severely that the CPU was cycling down to keep from frying itself! This puts terrible strain on the processor! I quickly cleaned out the heatsink, put it back together, and started it up again. Right back to normal. This thing is the fucking little laptop that could!

This laptop refuses to die.

It ran with almost no ventilation for weeks, took power spikes without flinching, saved itself from burning out when overheating, and just keeps on going.

The hinges that the screen opens up on froze up, and the housing holding the screen to the hinges cracked and broke off soon after, so the screen is held up by a Rube Goldberg wire hanger bent to hook to the PCMCIA wireless card. The screen is covered in scrapes and smudges to the unprotected LCD. The plastic housing it cracked and broken off in a variety of places. The battery refuses to hold a charge. The plastic on the bottom is darkened by the constant heat. The tactile click on the touchpad left click button is gone. The rough plastic under the keyboard and in many other places is worn completely smooth. It baked for months at a time, running constantly with no surface stand-off for the intake vent.

The motherboard still works, the CPU fan still spins, the ORIGINAL HARD DRIVE still works great after countless reformats, all the keys on the keyboard still work, PCMCIA slot (and wireless card) still work, the display is still bright and usable, the CDROM works (but complains), all USB ports work, and the touchpad still works perfectly.

This laptop has gone above and beyond, and when I get a replacement soon, it will sit behind the teevee as a Linux server barely making a sound.

Far, far, FAR more than I expected from an eMachine.


Thursday, April 01, 2010

Obama makes fun of opponents' concerns immediately after passage, tells supporters bill will take time

When opponents of the bill say dangerous things will happen, he says he signed the bill and the birds were still chirping after his pen left the paper, so they're silly and wrong.

When supporters of the bill say it's not making changes fast enough, he says the bill will take time to go into full effect, and calls for patience.

He knows exactly what's in this bill, what it does, and when it does it, so playing smart right after you played dumb isn't convincing anyone.

Real world impact of ObamaCare menu mandate

Buried deep inside the ObamaCare bill was a bit of "health" legislation requiring restaurants with more than 20 locations to post caloric counts for each item on their menu. This information is to be made available on all signage, menus, and brochures.

Is it expensive to update all that information every time an ingredient changes?
How will businesses react to these additional costs?
How will restaurants with 19 locations, ready to expand and hire, react?
Will consumers react differently when they are confronted with the shocking reality that a large pepperoni and sausage pizza with ranch dressing on the side is not as healthy as a bag of carrots?

Most importantly, how will the added expense to these the providers of unskilled labor affect the employment of lower income workers?

If you have half a brain or even an elementary grasp of economics, you already know the answers to these questions. But if you're a liberal or a half-retarded marmot, click through and watch the video and find out why this seemingly innocuous addition to the bill will make things harder on businesses during "The worst financial crisis since The Great Depression" ~Obama