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I'd link you to some appropriate music, but I imagine we're all seasonal music-ed out by now. :D

First post

Dec. 21st, 2011 04:47 pm
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This is a test just so I can see what everything looks like
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Kaiserreich is a mod for Hearts of Iron 2: Doomsday: Armageddon and has in the past been partially ported to Arsenal of Democracy (it never worked for me) and also the newer HoI2-based game, Darkest Hour. The mod is predicated on the idea of "What if France collapsed during World War 1 and the conflict dragged out with Germany and Britain in a stalemate?" Other events follow, such as the German intervention helping the Whites defeat the Reds in the Russian Revolution, Syndicalist take-overs of both France and Britain, and so on. Lots of fun alternate history that's usually not too 'out there'. (Real history is already pretty out there, though...) It's lots of fun alternate history grand strategy, with many interesting events that can drive each game into wildly divergent histories: who will win the second American civil war, the second Russian revolution, which countries will collapse into Syndicalism, will Germany intervene here or there during a crisis.

I started a game up as the German Reich and decided to generally pursue a policy of keeping most of my empire together while preparing for the inevitable showdown with the Commune of France, Union of Britain, and Socialist Republic of Italy. Along the way I sold Crete to Greece, Ceylon to the Princely Federation, built some battlecruisers for the Dutch, and watched in horror as the Russian Republic became the Soviet Union, a big, nasty Syndicalist power with vast manpower reserves just on the other side of my terribly thin wall of puppet governments.

When the French demanded the return of Elsass-Lothringen (Alsace-Lorraine), I of course said no, and so in 1939 the second Weltkreig began. It didn't last too long. The French collapsed under the steady advance of the Kaiser's disciplined infantry and cavalry forces (with six entire armor divisions deployed!). While I waited for the rest of my marines to finish deploying, I invaded southern Italy and routed the Syndicalists there, ceding the territory later to the Papal-led Italian Federation. Then I rolled right over the English after landing marines in two coastal provinces to split their response. After that, I started my crusade against the other Syndicalist states (Soviet Russia /w puppets and the Transcaucasus Socialist Republic). They weren't much of a problem because the Soviets had been trying to kill Baron Ungern's Mongolia off, so about half of their army was stacked up way in the middle of nowhere, giving me an easy opportunity to eat many core provinces before any real resistance showed up. While that was going on, I allied with the Ottomans and helped them put down their little Arab revolt problem, picking up Egypt and Sudan for myself and my colony of Mittelafrika.

The only Syndicalists left were in Bolivia of all places, so I'm just going to call this one a "win". I've got puppets from Britain to the Urals, and there's no way the Entente will challenge me in a war (I even tried to prevent such a conflict by giving France back to Petain's government, but they refused the offer). The green in that map is Mittleuropan (read: German) Europe and North Afrika.

I just wish my Russia->Russian Empire game had gone this well... needless to say the Kaiser curbstomped me at the end of that.

Got Hooded

Dec. 8th, 2011 11:51 pm
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So not only do I have my diploma, but by the power invested in Chancellor Cheek by the State of Tennessee, I now get to wear the full academic regalia and can go forth and... Doct.

Here lies the school tag. RIP 1985-2011
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The Charger is a funny Battlemech. Way too big for its speed or its role, but modern technology can help make it into something kind of scary. With an infinite budget, this is probably what I'd do to the Charger:

  • Make it faster. (TSM and a Supercharger for emergencies)

  • Slap in an XXL Engine. Less survivable and way more expensive, but it gives us lots of room for...

  • A Mace: when TSM is active that's a 40 point whack on someone's head.

  • A Heavy PPC: 15 point lovetaps at 18 hexes.

  • A whole brace of lasers. ERML's to scourge enemies and SLs for crit seeking/heat management

  • A comprehensive electronic warfare suite.

  • A Laser AMS system to help swat down missiles as it dashes around the battlefield.

I would have liked to have squeezed a TAG in there, but I need all those lasers for heat reasons, and I don't want to lower the armor any.

This turns the Charger from being a total gimp to a light mech hunter-killer. Its HPPC can severely wound, if not outright cripple the common 20-ton scout mechs like the Locust or Wasp. Its Mace can ... do more damage than some Mechs have armor. The brace of ERMLs give it a good chance of getting at least *one* hit on its prey. The SLs mostly exist to push the design high enough on the heat scale to get to TSM activation, and then micromanage the heat by a few points here and there. With its active probe and ECM system, it can help with basic scouting duties too, so feel free to attach it to a lance of scout mechs. And in a pinch, it can hit its Supercharger to suddenly lurch into motion and run down unwary scouts (to then pulverize the crap out of). Granted, for the cost of this monstrosity, I could purchase two companies of something sensible like PHX-1 Phoenix Hawks, which probably would in general do the scout hunting job better by simply being in more places at once...

Read more... )
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Let me tell you the tell of dinner. It was at the Smokehouse Grill here in Berea, KY. We had eaten there once before, Cosmic and I, and it was entirely mediocre. On a whim, I said, "Let us eat there again and get some things which should be more 'normal' for their menu than the my Philly cheesesteak sandwich I partook of last time."

And so we entered, and a slightly addled older woman seated us. I later overheard her saying to another customer, "I still don't have my table numbers down." This was the hostess.

We ordered dinner, it was easy. For myself, I ordered a sirloin, well done because I don't trust random restaurants not to give me salmonella if I don't. For sides, I ordered the 'broccoli casserole' and the 'rice pilaf.' Cosmic also had a sirloin, well done because she doesn't want to get horrible food poisoning from a dodgy kitchen, with a salad and 'loaded' baked potato.

We were, in the mean time, served an excellent Pepsi and some flavorless bread products (ostensibly dinner rolls) with some meager spreadable butter. Our waitress had forgotten to take our menus with her, though we had handed them directly into her hands. The salad was brought forth, and perched atop it were many croutons and gigantic pieces of onion. Cosmic said "Huh, the croutons have been soaked in something, maybe olive oil." Believing perchance I had found a new delicacy for my salads I tasted one and discovered that in fact it was not olive oil, it was old fry oil, for the croutons had been deep fried in it and then left to sit out and cool. There was french fry, okra, and other assorted flavors in the croutons. (This could become an avant garde technique to season croutons if it isn't already. If it becomes so, let the world know that it began here at the Smokehouse grill and nowhere else.)

Later, our menus were removed and food appeared before us. My steak was well past being merely well done. It was somewhere between overcooked cardboard and leather. Cosmic's steak was medium well, closer to medium, with a strange greasy outer coating. They had both been cooked upon a grill, probably with some of the gigantic stack of firewood behind the restaurant providing the heat. Mine was simply abandoned to the cruel fates of the grill, while Cosmic's must have found its way upon the griddle or a skillet filled with greasy remnants of other meals. Needless to say, these steaks were not very good in either case.

The side dishes fared little better, for Cosmic's 'loaded' baked potato was loaded only in the sense that it cost me 99 cents more than a different side. It was overcooked, had a few paltry crumbs of bacon upon it, and a smidge of cheese. There was no butter or sour cream to be found: she was forced by desperation to use the rest of the meager butter from the dinner rolls to try to salvage a decent potato from the ruin. Her attempt, I note, failed utterly. It was beyond salvation.

My sides were somehow even worse. The broccoli casserole may have been cooked in a casserole pan, but there was nothing else to indicate that this was not boiled bits of broccoli stems (I counted two tips in the dish and was afraid to look in the green-- I get ahead of myself I apologize). The broccoli stem chunks were served in a greenish snot-based liquid and entirely unseasoned. There was a garnish of bacon which I refused to touch, for it was several times more bacon than her potato had.

My rice pilaf was at least made of rice. I can only hope that the yellow color of the rice came from saffron in tap water, as it was cooked too long and had a flavor that I can only describe as "Hitler in a dish." If my hopes are vain, then I pray only that it was boiled and I will not be dying from whatever other fluid was used to create the abomination.

We soon quietly paid the check and exited, but not before bringing the picture linked via thumbnail at the top of the post home with us. Behold the glory of broccoli casserole and rice pilaf.

In conclusion, the best part of the meal was the Pepsi and the cleansing hand wipe Cosmic had in her purse. I feel bad for the truckers, travelers, old people from the nursing home next door, and in general anyone else who is either too addled to know better or completely unfamiliar with this restaurant. To anyone who eats there willingly more than once, I don't understand why you would. I will go to my grave regretting this dinner decision, and I hope that Cosmic will someday forgive me for the travesty done to her gentle palette on this ruinous day.
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Even when you think you knocked it out of the ballpark.
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Over the course of the summer and fall, I've read War and Peace. Yes, that War and Peace. The one everyone makes fun of because it's so long. It turned out to be quite fantastic, with an interesting pace of slow lulls and then ten chapters in a row of amazing things one after another. It's not really written as a novel. The author interjects historical supposition and commentary, and I think the book is actually a large philosophical tract written in the form of a pseudo-novel.

Without giving away the story or touching on the many interesting characters, the author tries to propound on an idea that it is not in fact the 'important people' that make history. That regardless of what Emperor this or Duke that want to do, history is made simply by the collective will of the people. It's not the general's orders that determine the battle, but the natural spirit of the army, the collective of its soldiers that drive it to victory or defeat. Likewise on an even larger scale, individual acts of heroism are quite mad or consist of folly; it is the many innumerable selfish acts of each individual person, trying to live as 'normally' as possible even in a time of crisis, but in responding to stimuli such as the occupation of a city, or an approaching army, that guide the nation, its army, and ultimately its leadership into the roles they play.

Important people then are not so important. They become figureheads for the ebb and flow of history, playing the role they are forced to play as their underlings go about their business quite in disregard for what the important people want them to do. It's certainly, from the perspective of most histories which concentrate on the actions and words of a select few, a rather novel thesis.

Then Friday, while I was more or less all day in a waiting room of one sort of another, I read all of The Island of Doctor Moreau, which was a fun little book. It was also completely unlike, at least in my estimation, either of the movie adaptations I've seen of it (the 30's one with Bela Lugosi and the 90's one with Brando).

I'm going to have to hold off on reading more books for a few days, I've got a lot of work to get back into.

Edit: Side-note: What genius decided to have John Frankenheimer direct The Island of Dr. Moreau anyway? He hadn't made a good movie since what, Grand Prix in '66? He's the man that directed Prophecy ('79) for crying out loud. He should never have been allowed near a camera after that... thing he put on film.
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And by highly trained, I mean "a roving gang of baseball bat wielding thugs". Go read the whole thing for yourself.

I love the mysterious "the sound and dashcam video miraculously cut out" too. Funny how that works...
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The more than 1,000 pages of court papers also revealed far more serious allegations, including those ascribed to an officer caught in a sting transporting, prosecutors say, what he believed was heroin and stealing $20,000 from a motel room.

And they're the 'good guys'?


Oct. 26th, 2011 05:51 pm
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It took them quite a bit longer than it should have, but my doctoral dissertation is finally live on the internet. Be sure to grab your limited-time only special edition before the downloads expire! (there is no special edition, I'm just trying to gin up downloads to make whatever internal stats they have look impressive to someone :p)
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Whatever I set my facebook password to, I knew it... and then promptly forgot it one day after logging in last week.

My university e-mail's web interface doesn't like Firefox 6 on this computer for whatever reason. After banging my head against my desk a little I gave in and tried Internet Explorer... it worked right away.

I couldn't change/retrieve my facebook password because... it's tied to my university e-mail.

Ergo I have learned that I am a goober.
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Last Thursday I had a little brush with being much, much blinder than I already was. I'm not entirely sure of the cause, but I awoke in the morning to the feel of sandpaper on my eyelids, then burning, horrid acidic burning, as tears flooded my eyes. The effect was to reduce my eyesight to something that can only be described as "legally blind." I couldn't make out text, with my glasses on, anywhere near my face. The blindness was mostly gone in a day, and I think I'm back to normal now.

Since then, I've had trouble sleeping. And on reflection, I think it's because I'm afraid I will have a brush with the same problem if I sleep for too long. To the end of preventing this, I've been subsisting on 1-2 hour naps in bed or on the couch. Short sleep, so that I can wake up and blink a lot, and force a lot of tears into my eyes to stave off the coming blindpocalypse. I never will claim it makes a lot of sense, but that's how psychological things are. They simply don't make sense, because the subconscious is not a rational actor (heck the consciousness is barely rational, no matter how much we may lie to ourselves about being rational beings).

That's part of the reason I've said even less than usual here on livejournal. I've been trying to convalesce over the summer, but these past few days I've been reluctant to say anything at all to anyone.

This kind of ridiculous illness seems to be a recurring theme this summer. It's like all the neglect I put on myself over the past year of dissertation writing finally came home to roost. I've had more health problems than I can really remember since I moved into my apartment in June. I don't want to whine about my health, because that's kind of annoying, but the short list is "several kidney stones, gout attacks, and various other ailments," along with the inexplicable attack of super dry eyes that wrecked my eyesight for a day and change.

I don't think I'm going to let that kind of poo-poo stop me anymore though. I have things I want to get done. I have things I have to do. Wallowing in misery's not going to get me anywhere, and as I was reminded when I looked at my livejournal comments a little while ago, I've got friends and colleagues waiting on me to get in gear.

So health problems, take this as a declaration of independence. The Doctor is in the house and he's going to put it into order.

Edit: And I see life wants to throw me some curveballs already. I can't log into my university e-mail or my facebook account. I'll conquer you yet, technology!


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