2011 – L.A.G.

Another quasi-revolution around the sun down, another started.  This blog is named for 3 main topics but actually has for.  Libertarian, Atheist, Gamer/Geek, Ferrets.  What did 2011 bring for each of those to my door?  Let’s just say it hasn’t been kind.

Libertarian – Ron Paul.  This past year has seen his star ascend like no other year before.  He’s one of the few politicians who I don’t only not hold in contempt, but actually respect.  So much so that the first time in my life I have contributed directly to a political candidate.  Not only that, but the media focus on him shows how biased and contemptible every major media outlet is.  He is the only voice of dissent on many major policy issues with any voice at the national level.  That it not something to be dismissed, laughed at, or treated with scorn.

Atheist – This one has been low-key.  As much as fellow Atheists may grouse about transgressions by the government, local to national, most of it has been small potatoes.  I can respect the work that several Atheist organizations have engaged in over the past year, but I can’t really get interested in it when I see otherwise rational Atheists become irrational ideologues over the small shit when we have much bigger issues facing us.  Refer to the paragraph above to get my meaning.

Gamer – Many great games were purchased and played this year.  My Steam account is closing in on 300 titles and I’ve recently become a fan of Gamer’s Gate.  But the year goes to TOR.  It was released the 13th of last month.  In the 20 days since Raptr has me at just shy of 200 hours.  I haven’t clocked that much time in any other game since such a short time since Aion.  Difference is, I’m not utterly pissed off at TOR as I was with Aion.

Geek – I still work in the tech sector.  It still sucks balls.  Linux still doesn’t get it’s just due.  I have become Google’s bitch.  My tablet computer now has a detachable keyboard which adds 8 hours of battery life.  So, win some, lose some.

Ferret – Worst year ever.  Ever.

Samson left us back in May.  He was quite old for a ferret.  Even though we knew he wouldn’t be with us long his passing was quite sudden.  But I could deal with it after a few days time.

Aesa followed her friend for life in August.  She too was old and I think she was tired of taking the medication that was helping her live day-by-day.  We fought to keep her going for two weeks but in the end did what was best for her.  Even though I held her as she passed away I think having faced up to the fact it was her time over those weeks helped ease the weight in my heart.

Come September Fex, our first ferret and youngest of our business, suddenly took ill.  He was gone less than 48 hours later.  It was completely unexpected.  For some reason it just hit me hard.  He wasn’t, isn’t, supposed to be gone yet I still find myself missing him, even now, far more than I missed Samson or Aesa.  I loved them no less.  I can only think it was that he was still appeared quite healthy for a ferret.  I never thought for an instant that he would be gone this year, or the next, or even the one after that.  Certainly not without us seeing it coming like we did with Aesa and to a lesser extent Samson.

We now have two cute-as-a-button girls, Xena and Xara.  At least they had some time with Aesa and Fex.  They never fail to put a grin on my face when I need it most.

Finally, one last event from 2012.  My wife’s mother, Ruthann, passed away back in October.  We lived in different states and my work schedule rarely gave me time to visit as often as my wife did.  But she accepted me into her home and her life.  She accepted my marriage to her daughter.  In a world where I hear of far too much strife between parents and their children’s spouse I was lucky to have had her as my mother-in-law.  She was taken from us too soon.

I know Ruthann would not approve of my words but I think she’d understand the sentiment.  Fuck you, 2011, you took more than your due.  I’m glad you’re gone.

RAWR, Cellos

Between the Star Wars cellos and the Michael Jackson cellos ya might get the impression I like the instrument.  Actually it was only recently that its grown on me.  Really the first time I noticed liking a song with a cello as the lead instrument was the theme song to Angel.  Here’s the full version:

Later on my wife found Pandora, plugged in Evanescence and found Within Temptation.  She introduced me to both and my Within Temptation channel led me to Apocalyptica.  A heavy metal band with cellos.  Seriously.  I loved all of their songs Pandora threw at me but the one that cemented it is when I found their version of “In the Hall of the Mountain King.”

Cellos.  Classical music.  Metal.  1 song.  Fuck yeah!

This is Halloween, Halloween, Halloween!

I try to take a week off every year just for Halloween.  This year my coworkers asked why?  I love Halloween.  It is my favorite holiday of the year.  So they asked what I was doing for Halloween?  Where was I going?  What would I dress up as?  Did I like handing out candy?  I answered honestly.

Nothing, nowhere, as nothing and since I don’t particularly like children I don’t plan on handing out candy.  Though if my wife has her say I might have to hand out some when she tires of doing so.

If I’m not participating in any of the traditional trappings of Halloween, why is it my favorite holiday?  I could say it appeals to my inner goth and leave it at that, but that would only be the most shallow of answers.

Well, while fall officially begins Sept. 22nd I have lived in locations which generally do not cool off until much later.  Normally this occurs in the last week of October.  For example here in Las Vegas we still had 90F weather until the 21st or 22nd of October.  After several months of frustrating sun and heat the changing of the season is welcome.  It is no wonder that Fall is my favorite season of the year while Spring is a time of dread.

Then there are the colors.  Black and red are my favorite.  Dark red.  This holiday is all about the dark colors.  Dark purples, dark greens, dark reds, and black abound.  It’s the only holiday whose colors, at least to my eye, aren’t gaudy, sappy or just plain annoying.  I also think this is why my wife doesn’t let me choose anything for our home decorations.  😉

Then there’s the people.  It’s the one time of year people dress up and let go en masse.  It feels far more festive, far happier than other holidays because it is all about the fun.  It isn’t about surviving the winter, about family, religious tripe (though Halloween did start there), the birth or defense of the nation, nor is it about a particular class of people.  It’s a holiday about just goofing off, being silly, and everyone being ok with it.

All in all Halloween is the one time of year when society and the world shifts a little closer to me.  To colors I love, to temperatures I prefer, to not being so stuffy about how to dress.  It’s when I can give a little sigh and feel most comfortable.  And, yeah, it speaks to my inner goth, too.

That is why I love Halloween.  And it isn’t like I don’t do anything to observe it.  What better time than midnight, Nov. 1st, is there to watch Tim Burton’s “A Nightmare Before Christmas”?  What, did you think I had that video up top just because it said Halloween a lot?  😉

Kindle Fire – Whatta Ripoff

Well, the Kindle Fire has been announced and will be released on Nov. 15th.  I have to say, I have not seen such an overhyped, unimpressive piece of hardware in years.

First, it is a 7″ Android tablet which has Android highly modified.  I don’t know what other modifications they have made but most “highly modified” UIs have been harder to use than the base UI.  However one modification I do know about is just silly.  They have disabled the Android Market in lieu of their own, proprietary, market.  So all the great software available for the Android?  Yeah, unless the publishers submit it to two marketplaces you don’t get to install it easily.

Second, everyone is oohing and aahing over the price, $199.  It’s as if noone has ever seen a $199 7″ Android tablet before.  As of this writing there are no less than 7 such units for sale on Newegg alone.  Granted, the specs for the Fire place it at the high end of the 7″ Android tablet market but given that it is competing against tablets released months to a year or so ago that isn’t surprising.

Of course being just another tablet means it gives up what make Kindles (and other similar products) such a great device as an eReader.  Namely the E Ink display and it’s long battery life.

Finally, it isn’t as if we haven’t had the ability to read books on our Android tablets before.  On of the first apps I installed on my Android phone was Kindle for Android.  It was the first app I installed on my ASUS Transformer.  Of course the second app was Nook for Android and Google Books came pre-installed.  Hmm, I think we now know why the Android Market is disabled, eh?

So, in the end what is the Kindle Fire?  It is a crippled 7″ Android tablet with a $199 pricetag.  For $199 one could get one of several non-crippled Android tablets and still get the major selling point of the Fire, Kindle for Android.  Aside from the Kindle name is there really anything going for this tablet?  No.

Would You Trust A Talking FishSnack?

Total Biscuit of Cynical Brit is at Gamescom.  He has put up some excellent footage of both TOR and GW2.

First up, a good 25m in TOR.

I have to say this is the very first video where I actually had some excitement build up about the game.  I’ve already preordered but until now my reaction to the game has been lackluster at best.  The UI looks polished, I like the features I’ve seen so far but it doesn’t look like, combat wise, it is breaking any new ground.  While the melee combat looked excellent, I was disappointed seeing TB’s toon take a few blaster bolts and not react one bit.  I don’t know why it stuck out so much for me but it did.  Though I am certainly willing to give it a go after seeing this video and I’m sure, in time, I won’t really care about that slight immersion breaker.

Next he spent 40 minutes driving GW2.

40 minutes of pure excitement, right there!  First off I giggled when I saw how the weapons worked.  Skills changing based on the weapons you wield?  Awesome! Learning new skills for those weapons as you use them, and not tied to your level at all?  Sweet!  Then he showed the quest system.  Show up to a location, talk to a guy, get several tasks which, in aggregate, complete the quest.  Want to farm items?  Sure.  Combat?  Ok, too.  A little of both?  Have at it!  Now that I’ve seen it I will be disappointed in any MMO which does not have such a wonderful system in place.  But really, the whole 40 minutes I was just giddy.

Of the two games I am still far more interested in Guild Wars 2.  I’m positively beside myself with anticipation now.  I still need to give TOR a fair shake.  Fortunately their relative releases will allow me to do that.  But, seriously, I so need a time machine now.

Google+ vs. Facebook – Post Security

Thanks to a recent invite from a former coworker of mine I’m able to play with Google+.  At its most basic operation, creating a post, I like what I see in terms of security when compared to Facebook.  It’s two simple concepts that show the different approach to what gets shared and what doesn’t.

First here is Facebook’s post box:

Quick, who gets to see this post?  Who is excluded, if anyone?  We have no clue.  Yes, we can highlight the lock to see what this post is set to but that requires active participation on our part.

Now here’s the same portion from Google+.

Quick, who gets to see this post?  Who is excluded, if anyone?  It is going to my friends and family.  Who is excluded?  Everyone else.  I don’t have to expand that box.  I don’t have to mouse over anything.  If I am posting something that, for example, my coworkers should not see I know with a glance that they aren’t, or more crucially, are able to see this post.

Furthermore Facebook’s default is to include everyone at a certain level (public or friends) unless excluded.  With Google while there an option similar to “Friends”on Facebook (Your Circles) we can select specific circles, everyone else is excluded.  This means to send something to friends and family on Google I just add those two circles.  On Facebook I have to set it to Friends then exclude all groups I don’t want to see it.

IE, Google+ is opt-in, Facebook is opt-out.  It is a subtle difference but as anyone who has filled out a form and had to uncheck “add me to the mailing list” knows, it’s an important one.

Hopefully this is a sign of Google’s take on our privacy.  One I hope they will not forget, like Facebook did, as time goes by.