30 Dezember 2009

The Great Human-Robot Skirmish of December 30th

Yeah, so it's been awhile since I've posted. Anyway, I'll warm back up to it so this post is kind of a cop out.

My current away message reads: I've gotten more "Happy Birthday" notifications from robots than from real people. Human race, this isn't looking good...

Vivek 2:35 PM: ok, so i won't wish you happy b-day then =P
any plans tonite?
Me 2:37 PM: Personally, I welcome our new robot masters.
You should see their public dental plan.
It's amazing.
Vivek 2:38 PM: you mean the one where they put your brain in a jar so you don't need to worry about teeth?
I'm consdering it
Me: ...I think you're talking about the Mi-go.
Vivek: mi-go, robots
they'll all enslave us in the end

17 August 2009

A Litmus Test for All Things I Dislike

I think I've come up with a litmus test for "All Things I Dislike." It's basically a WWJD kind of thing, except:
1. Replace the "J" with a particular person that I don't like but who will Remain Unnamed.
2. Based on whatever "J" would do, I would generally do the opposite or form the opposite preference.

For historical reasons, I will call it the "Eeeps Test." This test isn't exactly portable (that is, not everyone can use this test) and isn't exactly objective, but it sure can be fun!

How it Works, an Example:
1. Let's say I'm considering calling BlackBerries by their moniker "CrackBerries" because it's kind of clever AND Robin Wiliams made a funny joke about that.
2. I run the "Eeeps Test" -- would the Unnamed Person also find this funny AND/OR use this phrase commonly?

If "Yes," then I can't use the phrase. If "No," then I will at least consider using that phrase. As it turns out (this isn't exactly a "hypothetical scenario"), I can easily imagine the Unnamed Person saying "CrackBerries" with glee, so I will not use that phrase.

16 August 2009

So, what would YOU do for a Klondike Bar?

That little ditty/concept captured my imagination somewhat after I saw the parody on Family Guy. Basically, my question to you has nothing really to do with Klondike Bars but is more about what you (the two or so readers of this blog) find annoying. What do you find annoying? This is a sort of extension of the "Things that Annoy Andy, Part ?? of an Infinite Series."

Well, I take that back. If you want a Klondike Bar, I'll get you one. They're not bad. Better than an IT'S-IT.

Update, from Hau.

12 August 2009

So, Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus...

I could just write a more conventional review of the movie, but instead I'll just write a checklist of things that are in the movie. Perhaps this will sway your decision to watch it:

1. An explanation as to why why the shark gets to be mega and not the octopus
2. Tons of scientific sounding jargon
3. Lots of food color chemistry
4. The Golden Gate bridge gets destroyed
5. Bad clip footage (see 8)
6. A retired/washed-up stripper as the female lead (Vivek: Doesn't she look like a retired stripper? Me: ...no, Vivek, I don't know what you mean
7. Snarky/sarcastic male lead (who reminds me of the main antagonist in Kindergarten Cop) complete with an inappropriate (for his station) suit, ponytail, and sideburns
8. Amazing use of clip footage (see 5)
9. A transforming fighter plane (goes from an F-15 to an F/A-18 to an F-22)
10. A tender love scene between a Mega Shark and a Giant Octopus
11. Amazing one-liners
12. An Asian male romantic lead hooking up with a Caucausian female lead... in a broom closet
13. Silver ties
14. Some bad spelling
15. Snakes + Plane << Giant Shark + Plane
16. Bad CGI
17. Weird and bizarrely awkward sexual tension scenes
18. Massive advertisement for the incredibly exciting and adventurous lives of oceanographers. See more below.

This is a list on "Why you should be an oceanographer;" they get to:
1. Use skills from a range of disciplines, including: philosophy, physics, chemistry, and biology (with a focus on marine biology)
2. Pilot submarines
3. Act in some capacity as G-Men
4. Effectively outrank a ship's captain (or in this case, boat); at least in the Japanese submarine fleet (which is super-secret)
5. Wear silver ties as a badge of office
6. Hook up with "hot" (depending on your preference) women

Seriously, if this movie is a realistic depiction of what they do (and according to the "Making Of" special feature, realism was a strong focus), I'd want to be an oceanographer.

I wonder what tropes are in this movie...

11 August 2009

So, I just did a clean install on my old laptop...

One of the first things I installed was AVG Free 8.5. I noticed this:

What's up with all the animal imagery in software?

03 August 2009

New Mechwarrior Game!

Figure 1. Another day at the office...

I just learned that there's a new Mechwarrior game coming out (from Piranha Games along with Smith & Tinker). It's supposed to be a "reboot" of the series kind of like the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica. I certainly hope so; Battletech certainly has some campy elements and it could use a harder edge overall. I, obviously, have a hard sci-fi/military bias -- there just isn't a lot of it out there, alas.

But now, I'm going to write about what I noticed in this video. Immediately, the viewer is informed that this little vignette takes place on the planet Deshler in 3015. Deshler is on the Federated Suns' (Coreward?) border with the Draconis Combine in the Draconis March. I also happen to like Level 1/Late Succession War (3rd/4th) stuff AND the House Davion-House Kurita conflict so this video had me immediately excited.

As an aside (and I'm struggling not to make an entire post of asides), there's a sort of standard for all Mechwarrior game intros, at least starting from Mechwarrior 2: 31st Century Combat and going on to at least Mechwarrior 3. Having watched this video, I can say that there isn't the same sense of... desperation and heart-pounding action, but it's still pretty good. Also, all the videos tend to follow the same progression, but I'll not get into that. Now, on to the nit-picky and 'mech identification...

The protagonist of sorts is piloting a Warhammer. I don't think I've ever seen a Warhammer in a Mechwarrior computer game. It's not quite the Unseen version, but I rather prefer that. Based on the observed weapons fire, I assume that it is the common (of the time) WHM-6R model.

Figure 2. I rather like the newer stylings of this non-Unseen Warhammer.

He encounters a Jenner. Based on the HUD readout and the era, I assume that it is a JR7-D; so maybe it's the DCMS as the enemy?

Figure 3. That's one of the stranger looking Jenners I've seen.

A Warhammer vs. a Jenner? It should be pretty obvious where this is going. A third 'mech makes an appearance:

Figure 4. I'm not sure what an Atlas C is, but I do know that you don't want to be right in front of one.

While the HUD read-out says something about a "C" model, it can't be an AS7-C as that model shouldn't exist for awhile later. I can only assume that it is an AS7-D, as that's really the only variant that was running around at the time. Anyway, the majority of the fight is between these two beasts and this is where one of my questions is answered:

Figure 5. Now that's a PPC blast!

All of the Mechwarrior 2 type games had this kind of bizarre kind of ball-lightning version of the PPC that seemed sort of at odds with the fluff in the fiction. This was fixed in Mechwarrior 3; the above PPC blast seems more consistent with that and what I've read.

On a somewhat unrelated note, the most recent comment (at the time of viewing) was one of the dumber comments I've seen. That is, dumb under the veneer of intelligence:

Figure 6. A moron.

I suppose that's really neither here nor there.

30 Juli 2009

Imitation is the sincerest form of plagiarism...

Jim Carrey supposedly said that to David Letterman regarding the movie Dumb and Dumberer. By chance, I noticed some other bizarre little bits of... "inspiration" while checking some game sites.

For those of you who don't know, I really like Team Fortress 2. It's a pretty awesome game. SK imedia (is it Imedia, imedia, or iMedia? I just can't tell...) also seems to agree with this sentiment.

Figure 1. World's best, huh? Creative, huh?

To be fair, I haven't actually played this game. It could very well be appreciably different from TF2. The trailer just looks (and even sounds) so... eerily similar (as aptly documented in the Kotaku article). Maybe it really is flattery. I also hope I'm wrong because I'd hate to be one of those guys that basically just re-Tweets something potentially inflammatory that turns out to be false. To that end, I hope to (when I have some more time) look into this issue more.

The funny thing is, I only found this because I was looking up a game called Sudden Death. If you go there and check out that trailer, you may be thinking "Man, that's some pretty awesome music." Yeah, I think so too. To be fair, I also have not played this game; I was actually kind of curious but that one little bit in the trailer left a really bad taste in my mouth. It's just unprofessional and probably illegal.

28 Juli 2009

Watch out!

They'll make a heathen out of you otherwise!

Updates (as in my previous post, edited below):

Call of Duty: World at War: Just need to finish the Map Pack 2 achievements. I suppose I could do this myself (find link later), but that will probably be much harder.

Gears of War: Still need to complete on Insane, though I've made it to about the beginning of Act 5 as Dom (with Alex Mobasher). I also found the last fucking COG tag I was looking for.

Gears of War 2: I suspect after I do all the single player stuff in Gears of War with Mobasher, we'll finish off the equivalent achievements in Gears of War 2. Oh, I suppose I should tack on the Horde modes.

Super Puzzle Fighter 2 HD Remix: I believe Hau has two other friends who have the game. That means I can finally get that stupid 7 GS achievement and RETURN MY TOTAL SCORE TO A MULTIPLE OF 5.

50 Cent: Blood on the Sand: Yes, I admit it. I bought the game. I'll probably get the bulk of these with Vivek.

Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway: A fairly easy game, but I will need to log in on 100 days (doesn't have to be consecutive, I think/I hope) to get the "Obsessive" achievement. I'll also need to log in on 17 September.

Prince of Persia: Also a fairly easy game. It does, unfortunately, have a set of collection-type achievements, which may take awhile.

Dead Rising: This is going to be a bitch to clear all of the achievements. Unlike the previous two games, this game is actually hard. I would say, however, that it is not quite of the Nintendo Hard variety... just some really bad Survivor pathfinding.

ALSO. Thanks a lot Hau for getting me to download Ikaruga. That's gonna be a bitch to do a 100% completion... but some fuckers make it look easy.

What world is it that we live in?

So, in my Twitter app (TweetDeck), I have a group where I follow the fictional characters of Gilmore Girls. About two weeks ago, Hannah Montana found her way into that group. This leads me to believe that someone in that group just changed their name.



Pretty much says it all.

20 Juli 2009

Ringtones I want...

...though am not sure about whom they would be assigned:

1. "Green Bird" from Cowboy Bebop (Yoko Kanno)
2. The title song from Max Payne 2 (or is it 1?)
3. Ron Perlman saying "War. War never changes."
4. The creepy music from whenever you're near a Witch in L4D
5. Some of Francis's "I hate ," also from L4D
6. Something (lots of things) from TF2

[2:33:56 PM] Peter A. Combs: Hmm... I think I may make "Who touched sasha?!" your ringtone now.

Updates on the Second Crusade

So, I've finished off Castle Crashers (finally!); Glork and Arena Master were not easy in terms of time invested. I picked up Vigilante 8 which had an online Achievement that was much easier to finish. In terms of games that I cannot easily finish by myself (because they require at least a second person), I present the following list:

Aegis Wing: Have to finish on Insane mode (not that bad) and complete a 4 ship formation (I could, actually, do this myself).

Alien Hominid HD: Need to play through at least once. Maybe it's easier to do with more people; haven't looked into it that much.

Battlestar Galactica: The online achievements are near impossible because NO ONE PLAYS THIS GAME ANYMORE.

Call of Duty: World at War: Need someone for the Map Pack 2 achievements; as well as the original online achievements (Edit: got all the non-DLC ones. Now to kill Nazi/Tojo Zombies). Shouldn't be so bad.

Gears of War: Need to complete on Insane, finish the game as Dom (can do both split-screen and at the same time), and collect the rest of the tags (can do myself).

Gears of War 2: Need to complete on Insane, play with a friend (see above).

Streets of Rage 2: Similar to BSG, I simply need someone to do matches against.

Super Puzzle Fighter 2 HD Remix: I simply need to invite everyone to a 4 player game. I can do the 7 chain achievement myself.

Worms: Simply need to be in a four player Xbox Live game. (Edit: got 'em all).

I'm a little disgusted with myself because I bought the Avatar game at Best Buy yesterday. It was only 6.50 USD in the check-out line; how could I say no? I'm also thinking about getting 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand, simply (and somewhat ironically) because of this comic.

16 Juli 2009

Oh, did you not get a postcard?

About the Second Achievement Crusade? Well, it started. I've mostly been finishing up some XBLA games that I have (Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, 1942: Joint Strike, Catan, Golden Axe, Streets of Rage 2) as well as picking up some more (Altered Beast, Aegis Wing, Dash of Destruction). I had considered getting Uno today:

[1:59:17 PM] Andrew Chen: If I resort to things like downloading and playing Uno/Uno Rush for achievements, I think I may have a problem.

Let's just say that I was a little delighted when I learned that Alex Combs is trying out Uno:

As a side note, between my mention of Uno in Skype to seeing Alex play the game; I had successfully pestered Alex into getting his Xbox Live Account -- crusades are so much more fun with more people.

If you're a Penny Arcade fan, this whole tale seems strangely reminiscent of The Throes of Data Addiction.

This really isn't an update...

But for your reading pleasure:

[7/15/2009 11:19:44 PM] Andrew Chen: TF2?
[7/15/2009 11:20:23 PM] Alex Mobasher: nah, my hand is killing me again
[7/15/2009 11:20:27 PM] Andrew Chen: ?
[7/15/2009 11:20:33 PM] Andrew Chen: You really should get that looked at.
[7/15/2009 11:20:40 PM] Andrew Chen: Go to a free clinic or something.
[7/15/2009 11:20:45 PM] Alex Mobasher: its the other hand
[7/15/2009 11:20:45 PM] Andrew Chen: Pretend you're Mexican.
[7/15/2009 11:20:47 PM] Alex Mobasher: this time
[7/15/2009 11:20:50 PM] Alex Mobasher: same issue
[7/15/2009 11:21:05 PM] Alex Mobasher: and before you say anything
[7/15/2009 11:21:07 PM] Alex Mobasher: fuck you
[7/15/2009 11:21:13 PM] Andrew Chen: Haha.
[7/15/2009 11:21:18 PM] Andrew Chen: Maybe you have good forearms.

11 Juli 2009

So, what is that robot from?

Oh? This robot? Yeah, that's the Fruit Fucker 2000.

So, I went into lab yesterday and during a discussion about a paper, my professor looks at my shirt and asks me where the robot's from. I can't really answer him, espeically with a straight face, so that's the end of that.


I'm sure I'll fill out this post later, but I need a shower.

17 Juni 2009

A moment of silence please.

I don't think I've quite grasped the significance of this yet. Maybe I'm still in shock. I mean, I just learned that my username was "andrewchen" and, just as quickly, I am forced to give it up (if I want to merge it with my Battle.net account anyway):

16 Juni 2009

Schprechen sie Tweetenshlize!

I'm now on Twitter! To really make use of it, I'll need to get a phone that can allow me to Tweet... or, more rather, see if my phone can already do it. I'm not interested in getting a new phone right now, especially just to use Twitter. I can, of course, just text.

Also, I think on Tuesdays, Conan O'Brien (now on the Tonight Show) has a Twitter segment, which is what my title refers to. I believe it's German for "Speaks the Twitter," but it's also very likely to be something that was made up for the show.

Who knows.

Bears, Lions, and Horses (and glue), oh my?

After a discussion about Megan Fox (compared to Jessica Alba)...

me: More importantly, what is your view of horses?
me: Or lions?

(This was taken, without permission, from 4chan.)

Syd: ooo i love these games
Syd: the horse has a crazy eye
Syd: that horse is about to become glue
Syd: i think this is frightening
Syd: and hugel inappropriate
Syd: hugely

me: Hmm. Duly noted.
me: ...what if you like glue? Huffing glue, even?

Syd: i think that's the horse for you then
Syd: i think it would be a beautiful partnership

me: Hmm.
me: What about lions fist (or should that be paw) fighting with bears?
me: Engaged in... pugilism, as it were?

Syd: bear wins

me: Ineded.

me: It's only interesting for like the first ten seconds.
Syd: good. that's about when my attention span expires
me: Haha.
Syd: oh no. i don't have adobe flash
Syd: i cannot play the movie
me: ALAS!
me: (it's really not that exciting)
me: It's mostly the idea of a bear and a lion fighting over a beer.
me: If I were a bear, I would fight over beer.
me: ...I'd do that anyway.

Syd: the bear is going to win
Syd: clearly
me: Haha.
Syd: they can stand on their back legs
Syd: and just belly flop over the lion
me: The lion, as drawn, is also on its hind legs.
me: In a way, it looks less balanced.
me: Less... cocksure of itself, in fact.
Syd: but its a lie
Syd: they have weaker Achilles
Syd: bear wins
me: Bear > Lion
Syd: this should be obvious to even a simpleton
me: Ah, but that is why we are scientists.
me: ...who ponder important questions, like bears and lions fighting over beer.
me: It's what separates us from the animals ... except the weasel.

This reference isn't quite used correctly, but it's funny and I did say weasel. It's from S5E8, "Boy-Scoutz N the Hood."

It's okay, they're just zombies.

So, when I started on my First Crusade for Achievement points, I picked up the game Dead Rising. It's a pretty neat game which is sort of like George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead movie, except a bit more comical. Anyway, besides the game being fun to play, I thought it had some interesting Achievements, especially since it was once of the earlier X360 games (NA release: 8 Aug 2006). As usual, there is a set of the typical grind-type achievements:

In terms of progression, the first two make sense. But the last one? Well, if you pay attention to the intro movie, the sign introducing visitors to the town of Willamette, Colorado gives the population as 53,594 people. So, assuming that the population of Willamette has remained the same (perhaps steady-state?) since the numbers were taken, clearly there should be no more than 53,594 zombies.

A little more than two years later, another notable zombie game comes out: Left 4 Dead (NA release: 18 Nov 2008). If you look through the achievements, there's this one:

When presented here, it's clear that it's a cute little reference to the Dead Rising Achievements. When I saw this achievement for the first time, I was a little pleased with myself for catching the reference.

And now, to the near-present, we have Prototype (NA release: 9 Jun 2009). A quick glance through the achievements reveals:

I haven't played Prototype yet (Yes, I have the game. Yes, it's still in it's wrapper), so I don't know if the game actually involves zombies. EDIT: Apparently, I really need to play this game.

And no, I have not earned any of these achievements... though, I am planning on starting my Second Achievement Crusade shortly.

15 Juni 2009

Are you kidding me? Absolutely not.

Note: This post is more rambly than normal. I'll have to clean it up later after I'm more rested.

So, all of my Skype-active friends have already heard this gripe, but here it is again. So, today I was helping out our Program Admin (as I often do -- always good to be friends with the Admin) who will be referred to as Blanche. Anyway, so I got two rather gripe-worthy entries:

Plug and Play?

Apollo Electric (the first name will probably only make sense to me, the last name will make sense as you continue reading) wants more RAM for his laptop to run some of his applications. This is a perfectly valid request. I offer to help him find some RAM. I find him a 2GB DIMM and tell him that he can probably install it himself (mistake 1) and to return the old DIMM to me (his Lenovo T60 only has two slots). He does so and tells me that he's at 3GB now, and if he may, he'd like another 2GB to swap out with the existing 1GB to bring him to a total of 4GB. I give him the second one.

He installs this one, comes back, and then says he isn't seeing 4GB RAM (doesn't say what he is seeing though; in retrospect, I should have asked); and is pretty convinced that the DIMM is busted (or something else similar is wrong). I give him the benefit of the doubt (mistake 2), and say that I want to run an experiment and swap one of the older DIMMs he just handed me to see if something's damaged; maybe either the slot itself or the DIMM. So, without actually checking to see what the computer is registering (read: mistake 2), I say we should swap the DIMM he just installed (that of questionable function) with the previously installed 512MB DIMM.

To make a long story short and without going into detail (that would make my head explode with rage), he is impatient (perhaps for good reason, such as getting back to his work) and makes bizarre assumptions that are not helpful and would suggest solutions that basically amount to: give me a new laptop/buy me new hardware. Oh, and here's the kicker: while we're doing all this, he asks me if we can swap out the RAM DIMMs while the COMPUTER IS STILL TURNED ON.

Wait, I lied. This next part is rather minor, but as I'm already on a roll, it is worth mentioning. As Apollo is leaving, he asks me how to access the BIOS. I say that it's probably the blue ThinkVantage button built into the keyboard. He says it doesn't work, and that he thinks it's probably F2 or F8, which normally wouldn't be a bad assumption or guess... except for the fact that that's what the computer loading screen instructs. I then ask him why he thinks it's F2 or F8; he says that's what he's used to... on other computer platforms. Nevermind that different manufacturers often use different keys to get into BIOS... but no, he says he's sure.

All of these points taken individually (with the exception of the hot-swapping RAM) wouldn't be cause for such griping on my behalf, but all at once? That's a lot to take. Continuing on...

Yeah, that's a Blocker if I ever saw one

So, this other guy (I'll call him Arty Bloch) comes in and asks for a mouse -- he doesn't have one and it's "blocking" his work. This seems fairly reasonable; he's new and maybe he was issued a desktop that didn't come with a mouse (happens all the time in exchanges around here). So, I ask him if he has a laptop, to which he responds that he does (-> WTF?).

I ask him if his touchpad or mouse-nubbin (actually called a pointing stick or, when on an IBM/Lenovo, a TrackPoint) is broken. Arty says no, but he can't use those and it's really slowing him down. I tell him that I'll look and then inform him when I've found one because I have to finish some other tasks first. He agrees and saunters off to his mouse-less land.

Mr. Bloch comes back in half an hour and repeats his (somewhat) weak and pathetic story about how he can't use his touchpad. I drop what I'm doing, look around, don't find any extra mice, and then tell him as much and that'll I'll let Blanche know to order more. He says this is really blocking his work. Somewhat exasperated, I unplug the mouse that I'm using and give it to him. ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? CAN'T USE THE TOUCHPAD?!?

Okay. I should take a step back. Maybe he does graphic design work, or somehow plays FPS as a function of his job here. Let me give you a hint: he doesn't (to both). As a side note, I knew a guy who could AWP pretty well in CS with a mouse-nubbin. It was on an IBM ThinkPad, not entirely dissimilar from what we use in our office. He was, of course, the exception.

More importantly, look at what's become of me: this is what I complain about. I should be complaining about why I didn't punch her in the stomach or something.

Figure 1. Are you sure? Because, otherwise, that's a great idea... for an idea.

P.S. Yeah, I made another figure without referencing it. It should be pretty obvious why I put it in there. Oh yeah, and suck yourself.

11 Juni 2009


So, one natural consequence of any tight knit group of friends is the generation and evolution of certain inside jokes/sayings. You might even call some of them aphorisms. Because I am stuck at work and posting away, I will open the call to catalogue these:

-So hard, so hard
-I don't know why he didn't punch her in the stomach
-That was distasteful






More Pseudoscientific Units!

So, no one else suggested anything, but I think we're going to go with the following:

Douchery will be measured in Pratts (Pr), for Spencer Pratt; here's an example of his douchery. Note: The abbreviation will not be "P," as that is the symbol for poise (on a side note, measuring viscosity is a kind of annoying exercise). I, unfortunately, don't know how to zero this scale or have any useful comparisons; I suppose I could make Spencer Pratt = 1 Pr, but there are a couple of issues here:

1. That would make most everything else in fractional Pratts, but I guess that's okay. I mean, most of the time, things are measured in fractional Tesla, right?
2. It's a moving target; the trend for Spencer Pratt's douchery is to increase. That is to say that his douchery is non-static. I suppose we could freeze him and store him at some institute of standards... I mean, I'm all for freezing him.
3. This really isn't an issue, but I have a suggestion on how to make Pratts even more representative of douche-y: it should be a non-Metric unit. So, 7 Pratts = 1 Cruise (Cr) (this is merely an example. I don't know how to compare Spencer Pratt to Tom Cruise).

Frustration will be measured in Friscos (Fi). I should go back and expand on how much I dislike that person to really build a more complete profile of frustration. Also, in keeping with the idea of being frustrated, I again propose that Friscos be non-Metric. Another unit of frustration should be Claw Shrimp (CS)... how about 13 Fi = 1 CS?

Please, make more suggestions as you see fit.

10 Juni 2009

A glimpse at my general thought process.

Basically, for trivial things that excite me a lot, my thought process can be broken down into roughly four steps:

So, the first frame represents the question or point of interest. The second frame represents my contemplation of the first frame. The third frame represents a solution or proposal of action to the first frame. The fourth frame represents my response to the third frame. Do you need a flowchart for that? I hope not.

Note: This image was taken without permission from here. If you like Metal Gear Solid (MGS), I strongly recommend checking out the rest of the comics. They're a pretty good synopsis of the series, in the same way that Yu-Gi-Oh: The Abridged Series is a good synopsis of Yu-Gi-Oh. That is to say, it is fucking amazing.

In case you're wondering how this all came about, it's mainly due to a discussion about the vagaries/idiosyncrasies of rank nomenclature in the US military -- all branches, but mainly the Army. In fact, I thought of this comic mainly because of how appending "Big" to "Boss" to make "Big Boss" echoes or parallels the "laziness" of the existing rank nomenclature:

[6/9/2009 4:40:49 PM] Ozan D: yup
[6/9/2009 4:41:05 PM] Ozan D: they have some pretty random ranks
[6/9/2009 4:41:08 PM] Me: Haha.
[6/9/2009 4:41:13 PM] Ozan D: like they needed more ranks, but ran out of creativity.
[6/9/2009 4:41:23 PM] Ozan D: "gunnery sergeant"
[6/9/2009 4:41:26 PM] Ozan D: "master sergeant"
[6/9/2009 4:41:29 PM] Ozan D: ...
[6/9/2009 4:41:33 PM] Ozan D: "master gunnery sergeant"
[6/9/2009 4:43:47 PM] Ozan D: it's kinda like "you're not fooling anybody. you just put two ranks together."

On a side note regarding ranks in the branches of the US military, how many can you get correctly? I got 88; I can't believe I missed all of the Petty Officer ranks.

Finally, to tie this all back into the original point of this point and as an illustration of my thought process:

[6/9/2009 5:01:59 PM] Me: Boo, they don't have anything else military related that is also trivial like that.
[6/9/2009 5:02:06 PM] Me: Sporcle, I mean.
[6/9/2009 5:03:01 PM] Ethan K: you could make one
[6/9/2009 5:03:18 PM] Me: !!!
[6/9/2009 5:03:19 PM] Me: I COULD.
[6/9/2009 5:03:29 PM] Me: Weapons used by the US Military by war.
[6/9/2009 5:03:30 PM] Ozan D: i am imagining andy saying this.
[6/9/2009 5:03:35 PM] Ozan D: it is pretty awesome.

08 Juni 2009

Ooh, ooh, time for some pseudoscience!

Of course, not to be confused with a psuedocarp.

So, if you had to come up for a unit of measure for "douchery", what would it be? My friend Ozan thinks that it should be, in typical form, related to the name of a notable douchebag, though the exact person needs to be determined:

[2:43:51 PM] Ozan D: you certainly wouldn't want to choose the biggest douche you could find
[2:44:02 PM] Ozan D: since that would make everybody else have fractional douchery
[2:44:07 PM] Me: Right.
[2:44:23 PM] Me: Well, fractional douchery is fun.
[2:44:28 PM] Me: Because then you can use metric prefixes.
[2:44:34 PM] Ozan D: but you would almost certainly want someone whose defining characteristic is douchery
[2:44:35 PM] Me: Which make it sound more science-y.,
[2:44:46 PM] Ozan D: that is, they don't have any other important qualities.
[2:44:53 PM] Andrew Chen: Like a microdouche.

If we were to make this a rigorous kind of thing (and not pseudoscience), I suppose I should define what douchery is. I won't. Instead, I present to you a list of douchebags (I'm lazy, it was one of the first links I Googled). EDIT: I don't like this list. For one, it's even lazier than me and is sort of an example of approaching the Godwin limit. I suggest simply going by what you define as a douchebag, because, really, there is no really rigorous definition of douchery. Any proposals for units, of course, should be accompanied by an appropriately humorous reason.

On a related note, Vivek provided me with a funny term: the douchebaguette.

Yes, it's in German.

So, as the title suggests, a lot of the controls on the blog are in German. I know how to change it to English, but I've decided not to. While you're probably more than capable of figuring out what a given word means in the context, I've decided to play it safe. Also, if you don't want to go through the (minor amount) of effort to use Google Translate, I've provided the translations for the German words here.

Things you'll see on the front page

Days of the Week
Sonntag (So) = Sunday
Montag (Mo) = Monday
Dienstag (Di) = Tuesday
Mittwoch (Mi) = Wednesday
Donnerstag (Do) = Thursday
Freitag (Fr) = Friday
Samstag/Sonnabend (Sa) = Saturday

Januar = January
Februar = February
März = March
April = April
Mai = May
Juni = June
Juli = July
August = August
September = September
Oktober = October
November = November
Dezember = December

Ältere = Older
Startseite = Homepage
Neuere = Newer
Abonnieren = Subscribe to

Things you'll see when commenting


So, I'm starting to use Steam more now. If you want to add me on Steam, here's my Steam ID Page.

Games I'm Actually Playing (that you can play with me!)
Team Fortress 2
Left 4 Dead
Empire: Total War

Games I'm Gonna Play for the Achivements (either single player or games you don't want to play with me)
Half-Life 2: Episode One
Half-Life 2: Episode Two
Day of Defeat: Source
Counter-Strike: Source (when they supposedly get released)

Miscellaneous Category (everything else)
Half-Life 2 -- Why aren't there achievements for this? They certainly exist for the Xbox 360.
Dawn of War II -- I think these are integrated into Steam
Sins of a Solar Empire -- I think there are achievements in this game and if so, they should be integrated into Steam

Steam also has a neat feature where you can use it to launch non-Steam games. The actual level of integration of these games is quite minor; basically, it shows up in your launcher list (basically organizing your games) and if you play the game, it lets all your Steam friends know that you're playing. Steam also tracks how many hours you've played that game, so if you like collecting data on your life, this is an enabler.

07 Juni 2009

What Team Fortress 2 Character Are You?

No, this isn't a stupid webquiz, mainly because I think they're stupid. That being said, I often find such quizzes amusing, but come on, we all know that:

1. Such quizzes are often written in such a way that is hardly rigorous.
2. Even if they were, people often (sub)conciously tailor their responses to meet the answer they want.
3. I don't have a point 3.

But, on to the main show!

Nick: man the heavy's simile (Note: I'm assuming Nick means "smile"... or maybe he means metaphor, I don't know.) is so similar to yours that it creeps me out
Me: Haha.
Me: That's what people say.
Me: Now, if I were mowing down people with a minigun, could you imagine me laughing maniacally?
Me: Relishing in the death and destruction?
Nick: no question

So instead of a stupid quiz, let's look at the other characters!

The Heavy: Laughs maniacally when killin' (++), loves a good sandvich (+), bald (-), interesting non-sensical rationale/moments of clarity (+), seemingly singular focus in combat (-), seemingly singular focus in life (-), HAS A FUCKING GATLING GUN (note, it's not technically a minigun insofar as it's not a 7.62 mm NATO M134 or even a 5.56 mm NATO XM214; in fact, it's probably closer to a M61 Vulcan...) (++), has the ability to shoot invisible bullets with his hand (+)

The Scout: New Jersey accent (+ for Erik, neutral for me), not much of a stand-up fighter (-)

The Soldier: Crazy military guy (++), non-sensical rationale (++), has a guttral battle cry (+), wasn't actually accepted into the military (--), knows how to operate a lot of different firearms (+)

The Pyro: Fire, while useful, isn't a primary weapon for me (-), also has a maniacal laugh (+), has a hadouken taunt (+)

The Demoman: A drinker (+), only one eye (clearly, all demomen must have one eye)(-), likes to blow stuff up (+)

The Engineer: Cool and calm personality bordering on sociopathic (+), likes to build stuff (+), also likes to blow stuff up (+), generally relies on other things to do his killing (--)

The Medic: Creepy German accent (+), creepy German accent (-), likes to make Horrible jokes (+)

The Sniper: Rifleman (+), has a plan (+), drinks his coffee (assumedly) black (+), has annoying parents (that we've confirmed) (--),

The Spy: French accent (-), wears a suit (-), good knife play/work (+), also not a stand-up fighter (-), uses a revolver (+)

And, of course, none of those pluses or minuses is quantitative. The list also isn't complete. It's sort of like that Simpsons episode where Moe proves that he's the best bartender and ends up with a face makeover.

Oh, this so encapsulates everything.

I've taken this image, without permission, from PostSecret.

05 Juni 2009

Ah... the ol' need a cup of coffee to make a cup of coffee paradox.

So, in case you didn't know, I've been stuck at work everyday this week until about 2100-2200. It's Friday today, so I felt like taking a small break by looking at my Steam achievements. Yes, I find this somewhat relaxing.

So, I know that I can't actually access Steam while at work, but I thought I'd try offline mode. Predictably, upon starting the client, I get this message:

Nothing unusual, right?

So I do the obvious thing and click on the offline option... which generates this:

Yeah, your guess is as good as mine.

04 Juni 2009

I'm going insane. Observe:

If you must say anything, you might as well



02 Juni 2009

Cicero's Pizza: On The Frontlines between Cougars and Cranky Old Women

In case you don't know, I love Cicero's Pizza. They make a delicious thin-crust pizza which is supposed to be NY style; I wouldn't know because I've never had pizza in New York.

I've been enjoying Cicero's pizzas since grade school, back when they were located on Steven's Creek. For a short (and sad) period of time, they were purchased by a Korean owner and became Big Apple Pizza. It just wasn't the same. After a short period of time, Cicero's re-opened in their current location... involving, perhaps, some questionable business practices/ethics, but hey, it's good pizza.

Anyway, I went there with my friend Hau and we got the Cicero's Special (without salami). It was pretty good. Better still was the service: when we got the pizza, we were informed that two of the slices were "burnt" (basically, they were slightly blackened). Honestly, neither Hau or I would have noticed, but that's what they said. To make up for it, a complimentary small pizza was provided to us. Hau and I even tried the burnt pizza -- neither of us could tell the difference. YAY FREE PIZZA.

Now, I suppose we were offered this warm and friendly service because neither of us fall into the category of "old, cranky woman"... unlike the actual old and cranky woman who made a bit of a scene at the cash register. I don't have a firm idea on what actually happened, but the owner's son (I think) dealt with her in an appropriately East-coast manner (of course, this is what I assume East-coasters are like, never really having spent any time there). It was pretty amusing. Also amusing was one of the employees there who regaled Hau and I about his escapades with cougars in downtown Los Gatos. No, I don't mean mountain lions. I mean cougars. This naturally segued into an intellectually stimulating discussion about the differences between cougars, MILFs, and soccer moms.

So, for good pizza and information about picking up older women, Cicero's is the place to go.

14 Mai 2009

Things that annoy me, part... one?

People who say "Frisco" instead of San Francisco. These are the same kinds of people who probably also have soul patches.

12 Mai 2009

Green Chemistry: A Solar Solvent Still?

Perhaps before discussing the main point of this post, I should define green chemistry. Generally speaking, green chemistry is about in-lab, synthetic efficiency. For example (but certainly not limited to), doing chemistry without wasting reagent (via side reactions, decomposition, etc) and solvent. Green chemistry is pretty neat because the examples I've seen usually involve some unorthodox, but clever and elegant methods.

Anyone who has done organic synthesis (or synthesis of any kind) knows that a lot of the waste (and effort, for that matter) is encountered during the post-reaction workup... things like rinsing, columning, and recrystallizing product. There are, apparently, solvent recycling systems that are commercially available, but I wonder about just making a simple solar still where the leftovers from some of these workup steps can be left and then re-used as (at least) technical grade solvent. If I had the time, I'd like to build and test one.

11 Mai 2009

Hey. Hey! Yeah, you.

To the truck driving on 19th Avenue in San Francisco with the license plate number 4TLK273 -- thanks for throwing your cigg butt out the window. Fucking asshole.

08 Mai 2009

Ozan Terrible Point +1; Video Game Lore +1

Andy: Anyway, I feel like killing zombies.
Ozan: L4D?
Ethan: Really seems more like Zulu hunting weather to me.
Ozan: So...resident evil 5?

27 April 2009

ESPN and the Konami Code

So, I've seen the Konami Code in a lot of strange places, but this is one of the stranger implementations in terms of location (ESPN) and effect (rainbow ponies). You'll note the publication date of that article to be a non 1 Apr day. You'll also note, unfortunately, that the function has been removed from the ESPN site. Instead, go take a look at Google's cache of the page. Thanks Google!

P.S. I believe that the "start" button isn't technically part of the code, but is the key you have to press to execute the code. For ESPN, the "enter" key (as in the article) will be your equivalent.

Hau: so awesome hahahah
Hau: and then keep pressing buttos
Hau: buttons after you input the code
Hau: hahahaha
Hau: this is so ridiculously entertaining

(For later, perhaps include a reference to the song "front front back back side to side")

17 April 2009

The most horrible dream!

I had a really bad dream last night. To make this post short: I somehow got a huge case of beer and was having it transported by truck or something. The truck hit a bump and all of the bottle caps just sort of popped off, spewing the beer everywhere. To really capture the emotion, imagine what scholars must have felt when the Library of Alexandria burned down. Well, maybe it's not that bad; I get the feeling it was cheap beer.

13 April 2009

Yeah, I hate fallen eyelashes in my eyes.

However, a fallen eyelash in my eye is not what I discovered this morning. It felt kind of the same way (mild discomfort) as an errant eyelash, but when I checked under my eyelids in the mirror, I noticed a black bump. There was a very brief moment of panic (what the fuck is a black bump doing under my eyelid?) until I realized that the bump wasn't attached to the skin. No, in fact, it was freely moving as I moved my eyelid. This, in turn, was followed by the memory of feeling a bug hit my eye as I was running yesterday... I'm sure you can guess where this is going.

Do note, I had my run yesterday at around 6:30 PM. I didn't discover and remove the bug from my eye until 8:30 AM. That means the bug had been sitting in my eye for about fourteen hours. The poor thing probably died as a result of being caught (the moisture of my eyes probably kept it adhered) and being crushed by a blink.

In other news, if you've looked at my eyelids, you'll know that I have an epicanthal fold. I'm okay with the fact that it makes my eyes look more "Asian," but I'm not okay with the fact that they do suck. I'm not sure, but I think the topography of my upper eyelids make them less effective at channeling away sweat from my eyes (as I'm running or exercising, for example), and also influences the angle at which my eyelashes protrude. The former point is pretty self-explanatory. The latter? Well, I suspect (and I stress that word) that eyelashes are more likely to fall inwards into my eye than away as a result of this. Also, when I get those eye-puff tests for pressure, the puff of air again pushes the lashes into my eyeball. As a result, I've only done that test successfully exactly once my entire life.

Conclusion: I hate my eyelids. I will not get the cosmetic surgery for them though.

Supposedly, there is a suggestion that such an eyelid shape makes me better suited for brightly lit areas, such as snowy areas (snow reflects light pretty damned well; I once sunburned my eyes but that's a story for another day). I do like the cold and the snow, so maybe those eyelids aren't so bad...

06 April 2009

And I read them!

So, I went ahead and read all three volumes of Cat Shit One that were set in Vietnam; a quick read at about two to three hours. There are a couple more volumes that take place in the late eighties (the descriptions seem to suggest the Iran Hostage Crisis).

So, having read the comics, I have confirmed that they're pretty good. Why? Well, for one, I'm a military anorak, so I can't really help it. Just don't lump me in with Tom Clancy; that guy has no imagination and is a complete whack-job. The level of realism (from my perspective as an informed, non-expert enthusiast) is pretty good. There are some good footnotes and references for the times that military lingo is used in addition to some neat mid-volume inserts with some background information.

Second, these three volumes are set during the Vietnam War, which is one of my two favorite wars. Now before you go nuts about how I could even have a "favorite war," let me explain. The conflict in Vietnam was and is still quite interesting to me. The lines weren't as clear as wars previous (like World War II), the horrors and futilities of war fighting were more apparent (compared to other previous conflicts) in some ways, there was a lot of assymetry in how the conflicts were carried out... I could go on for awhile. What can I say -- there's just something about Vietnam.

Third, the main focus of the stories involves special operations (not to be confused with Special Forces); if I am enthusiastic about the military, I'm especially so for special operations. Heck, there's even a weird sort of cameo/recurring character in the real life Charles Beckwith, otherwise known as the main founder of our 1-SFOD.

If you like Vietnam era conflict, also take a look into the Punisher Born comics; they are similarly fucking awesome.

Thanks Hau!

Hau: omg omg
Hau: http://x6e.xanga.com/3a581be6236a0238824358/b144589668.jpg

So yes, I guess I do play an instrument!

Although, if I did play the gun as an instrument, it certainly wouldn't be a Beretta. That's like playing a viola. What would a gun-playing musician be called? I wonder...

Update! (A suggestion from Hau)

Hau: you know
Hau: i think it'd be made better if, if you were in the picture, you were in there looking somewhat psychotic
Hau: and waving around two handguns
Hau: while everyone else is just standing there looking as though nothing is out of the norm

Okay guys, who has portable instruments?

This whole thing reminds me of a SNL sketch (S34E14) spoofing a NESW Sports video (yeah, I don't know what NESW is either) featuring Steve Martin as Billy “The Gun” Van Goff. I think the picture speaks for itself:

Since we're basically on the topic of how everything is better with a gun, the classic reference (especially for me) is The Simpsons episode, The Catridge Family (S9E5). I will endeavor to make a relevant Simpsons reference to cap off every post, as denoted by the tag "the simpsons".

I'm sorry our collective water pipe broke.

Originally, I wanted to write an angry rant about how childish some of our neighbors are. And by some, I really mean one family.

Anyway, how about some background? On 1 Mar 2009 (around noon), there was a landslide near my house. As it turns out, the waterpipe under that earth had burst which was probably the cause for all that dirt-pushing. Aside from the immediate consequences of being evacuated from our house and our next door neighbor's family losing their backyard, the top 75% of our neighborhood was without running water until 13 Mar 2009. Obviously, for those days in-between, tensions were running high because of the following issues and concerns:

1. What caused the pipe to burst? Was it the landslide? Or did the pipe burst and cause the landslide? Basically, was it pipe burst->landslide or landslide->pipe burst->more landslide?
2. Based on (1), who was then responsible? Our family for not maintaining the land properly? Or the pipe, leading to:
3. Who's in charge of the pipe's maintenance?
4. Obviously, no running water within that time meant that cooking, cleaning, and showering were all difficult propositions.

For some of our neighbors, particularly those who are new and/or don't know us, it was easy to lose track the situation in the "fog of war." And when your quality of life is directly impacted, it's easy to blame us (the Chens) as somehow having caused the whole situation. I mean, most people I know feel better about a shitty situation if they have someone to blame. Now, take that anger and then imagine that the Chens are trying to get the entire neighborhood to collectively pay for the repairs? Yeah, you'd probably be pissed.

So I, as this impacted family, would probably want some words with the Chens. I would also probably want the contractors doing the clean-up and repairs to work longer hours and more days (around the clock would be nice) -- I mean, come on, I'm suffering right? Who cares about anyone else. My suffering is also more pronounced than any of the other neighbors, so I have a right to bitch and whine.

I would also probably demand that the Chens organize a meeting between the neighbors and the contractors to dictate the terms of the repair work. So that's what I say to Mrs. Chen. She says, okay, I'll organize the contractors and you organize the neighbors. So that's what I do, except the only people I bring along are (concidentally) the other families who are of the same race as me. Yeah, that's subtle. I'm guessing I also am from an earlier or more primitively simple time when all arguments arose and were dealt with along racial lines.

Anyway, back to the present and as myself, Andrew Chen. Today, the neighbors came over for a sit-down to discuss the situation. That same neighbor started making subtle and not-so-subtle threats. I would consider them idle and silly (but nonetheless irritating) threats. My friends have proposed four response strategies:

1. Ozan: maybe you should "accidentally" let them catch you cleaning your gun.

This is basically invoking the over-protective father idea. So, in the future, say I have a daughter. Say there's a boy who asks her out and comes by the house to pick her up. I'm probably spying on my daughter's communications, so I know in advance that this is happening. I then decide to clean my shotguns near the front door as the boy walks in. "Oh," I'd say, "I wasn't expecting visitors. But since you're here, why don't you look down this shotgun barrel and tell me if it's clean or not?" Oh, and watch as I reload my shotgun really fast... in case I use up all of the rounds in my magazine and I just really need four more rounds to shoot at someone.

In reality, I don't think I'd do that out of some need to be protective; I assume if my daughter was of my blood, she's probably more than capable of taking care of herself. I would still do it though... only because I enjoy awkward situations AND I could say that I was "making memories!"

2. Ethan: you should seriously march into that meeting and play the angry son rebuking your neighbor and the ubsurdity of his/her claim

This seems more reminiscent of Six Feet Under's Nate Fisher. I think you'd have to see the show to get what I mean. To be fair, I haven't watched the show recently nor in its entirety, so I could be completely wrong.

3. Albert: if you convince them your family is crazy they won't fuck with you

This is perhaps my most favorite suggestion, if only because it invokes in me Tyler Durden's confrontation with Lou of Lou's Tavern. The hilarity ensues around 1:29 but doesn't really make my point until 2:12. Albert also suggested that this be followed by running in to the meeting room naked after having taken a shower.

4. Pat: invite over some black people to your house somewhat frequently for the next few weeks. the neighbors will leave you alone.

I assume that Pat made this suggestion because he has accurately surmised that my neighborhood has no black people in it. I also assume that the one family we seem to be having problems with are essentially of the bully mindset, and have no real idea of what they're doing. They're also close-minded.

Vote on what you think I should do!

05 April 2009

And more Cat Shit One! Or Apocalypse Meow!

I got ahold of some Apocalypse Meow. I'm kind of excited. Then again... I do have a huge amount of comics that I need to catch up on, so who knows when I'll get to it.

You think you have bad dreams?

Just imagine this:

Actually, that's kind of unrelated; I just think it's a funny picture. Well, not really. My bed happens to be next to a window to my backyard, and the moon catches the whole area pretty well. It can be pretty... eerie at times. And the thought of a creepy face randomly popping up did used to keep me awake at night. Anyway, I'll have to post some of my dreams sometime...

03 April 2009

Oh, what's in a name...

So, my friend Peter stumbled across this:

A couple of things:

1. Why the hell is Andrew "Ibex Lips"? I didn't know what an "ibex" was at first, but I discovered that it probably relates to wild goats. I guess that's okay, I'm supposed to be a Capricorn... but it's just unfair. I mean, compare this to:

2. Peter the Facebreaker. Peter's got a fucking awesome nickname. It easily relates to Warhammer Ogre naming conventions which is appropriate because Peter is fucking tall.

3. More kids should be named Judas and/or Iscariot. It's like Adolf; no one can use any of those names now because of the famous namesakes, but otherwise, those names are pretty awesome. Adolf, for example, has an awesome derivation/meaning. And going to the fictional, Judas Iscariot was invoked for a special demon-hunting unit of the Vatican in the manga/anime series Hellsing.

4. Why do I not have any friends named John, James, or Jude? That's pretty self-explanatory.

Google Searches and Xbox 360 Achievements

So, as most people know, I am obssessed with Xbox 360 Achievement points:

As anyone who is similarly addicted to improving their Gamerscore, there comes a point where one has to decide whether or not serious "boosting" (that is, really cheesy behavior just to improve one's Gamerscore) is called for. I decided to take a look as to how easy this is without actually taking the step (for now). What resulted? A little Google auto complete-like humor:

But enough about that. This is what I found:

1. Easiest 1000G
If you want both to get a lot of points and get 100% of the points in that game, Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Burning Earth is that game. AtBE has the somewhat dubious distinction of being able to earn all 1000G in five achievements in about 5 minutes.

2. A Quick 6000G
Gamespot has a pretty good and quick guide to do this. The quick summary: you can rent these (mostly EA sports) games and boost your score quite a bit and quickly.

3. More Recent List of Easy Achievement Boosting Games
A quick and easy list of games to get 100% of the achievements in can be found here. Notice how three of games are FIFA soccer games? Five more are sports related. Makes you wonder about how much thought is put into these games beyond the sports action; but I suppose that's not surprising given how a sequel is made every year in a particular (mostly EA... did I say that already?) sport franchise. I mean, you have to get capture all the the new changes, right...?

4. The 10 Xbox Live Achievement Commandments
This one really isn't about boosting, but I thought it was kind of funny.

30 März 2009

Oh, THOSE status reports?

Yes, those fucking status reports! These are the same status reports that I collect every Thursday and have been doing so for the last four or so months. These are also the same status reports that I have been specifically reminding you, Johnny Bistro (Johnny B. for short), about for the last four weeks. You know, the same status reports that EVERYONE calls you out on in person in our weekly meetings.

Yes. I'm glad you'll finally start updating your status reports on Thursdays, starting this week (hopefully).

In other news, there obviously isn't a guy named Johnny Bistro working here. That would be awesome, though, on the order of working with folks named Cornelius and Sally Mae.

A trip to the pistol range...

So, to celebrate getting into grad school, my good friend Peter decided to take a month off to go travel the Mediterranean + Europe.

We figured we should probably do something before he leaves... something that involves things you can really only do in America. So, obviously, firearms!

We (Ozan, Peter, and myself) went to Reed's Indoor Range and fired off 9x19mm from a SIG P226; that's what I'm shooting here:

What I am really doing in the left frame is clearing a stovepipe failure... but I think the 'dodging' interpretation is more interesting.

I'll put up more pictures later once I get them from Peter... when he gets back from gallivanting around in those lands across The Pond.

29 März 2009

Oh, Gun Store Commandos.

A gun store clerk commando (the term was introduced to me by my friend Russell) is "technically" (the quotes indicate that this isn't really a hard definition) someone who works at a gun store and is aggressive about giving you their unsolicited opinion regarding matters of firearms and what you the customer, who isn't right, should be using them for. They may or may not have had military/law enforcement experience, but that's irrelevant.

The first time I encountered one was at Kerley's Sporting Goods; the same Russell had taken me there to check out some firearms (I think I was in the market for my first rifle). I said something simple about an M1911 in a display case; something on the order of "is that an M1911?" or "that looks nice." The clerk then decided to tell me all about people he had known in the military and segued unsmoothly into why I should buy a lever action .22 LR rifle. I haven't seen this fellow working there since.

Recently, I took my Yugo M59/66A1 in to get it checked out; I was having trouble taking apart the bolt/firing pin assembly. I was showing the rifle to the owner (I believe his name is Harry) of the shop and this Random Guy ("RG") who was standing to the side (and absolutely brimming with nervous energy) comes in and takes the rifle out of Harry's hands and takes the receiver cover off and bolt carrier/bolt out. This is a very clear "WTF" moment -- I don't know this guy and Harry probably doesn't know this guy. Even so, the polite thing to do would have been to ask ME (the owner) first before even touching my stuff. Anyway, Harry checks the bolt and we both confirm that yes -- it needs to be detail stripped and cleaned before I shoot it.

Harry then asks me if I want the rifle put back together at which point RG then decides to take the parts from Harry (again without asking), informing the both of us (or no-one in particular) that "I'm really good at this." He puts the bolt in backwards. Harry points this out and RG isn't able to figure it out. Man, fucking weirdos. I have to say, gun stores attract the weirdest people. I remember a previous time I had a sort of similar experience and Harry apologized to me later about it. The whole thing feels like The Office in that sort of weird awkward situation kind of thing where myself, Harry, Casey (the other cool clerk), and the other level-headed customers at the shop are the straight men to the wackos (everyone else).

The whole thing is highly annoying, but I guess no matter what you do or where you go, stupid/strange people abound. It just seems to be at a higher frequency when firearms are involved, sadly.

28 März 2009

MGS4 + Redwall/Mouse Guard = Cat Shit One

So, I found this interesting little anime/manga called Cat Shit One: The Animated Series. Don't let the name scare you; it doesn't appear to have anything to do with shit. It's no secret that I love military themed shows, and the more "realistic" the better. I say "realistic" because I'm no expert and so I couldn't really tell if what's being portrayed is correct, but there you have it.

First, I want to say that there are some really obvious MGS4 stylings here: the game is post Cold War and appears to be about the rise of PMCs (private military companies/corporations or mercenaries) and in the Middle East. The music is set "appropriately" and the opening follows a truck before deployment. The similarities are more than startling. But enough of that; perhaps it's an attempt to generate interest by riding off of MGS4 and I'm okay with that.

It looks to be about two Americans (Americans are represented by rabbits) named Packy and Botaski doing a mission(s) in the Middle East somewhere. I'm going to assume they're not part of an official military unit; maybe non-official or semi-official. The persons who I imagine to be Arabs are represented by what look like camels (oh, that's clever). Packy and Botaski are assaulting some village to rescue their friends (?). Other than that, there are some nice bits of realism that I can sort of pick out... and I always love trying to identify weapons.

Packy seems to be armed with an AR15 style weapon; at first glance it would appear to be a carbine kitted out with all the normal fittings... so an M4 perhaps. A closer look, mainly at the magazine, reveals that it is probably an KAC SR47 or SR47-type weapon. The curvature of the AK47 magazines is quite distinct:

Around this point, he also discards his primary arm and transfers to his sidearm. I'm guessing the reason for the inclusion of this bit is because it looks awesome when you can smoothly transfer to your sidearm and put someone down. I do have some questions though; why did he toss the weapon aside? I can understand why it wasn't slinged to him -- a sling can be used against you if someone sneaks up and pulls the sling, thus trapping you and your weapon, especially if you have no one watching your back. There didn't appear to be any diagnosis of weapon malfunction; but then again, you can learn a lot just by the way the trigger pull feels and in a really tight situation, why take the chance (I guess)? He later appears to use his primary weapon, so the malfunction wasn't an actual jam or part failure. His sidearm also appears to be American; maybe some sort of M1911 (but is a bit "blockier" than most). It is hard to tell from this picture though, so it's mostly a guess on my part:

Botaski appears to be using some sort of M14 weapon with an EBR stock:

Nice. I'm glad to see something other than a massive hard-on for HK weapons... though, I am American, so there's my bias.

Anyway, none of this actually says anything about the content of this series. I can't wait for it to come out!

Notes after the fact:
The Sister: But that doesn't make sense - they don't even have opposable thumbs!

Ozan D.: oh no. they've gotten andy. we're too late.
Alex C.: dude, it's metal gear bunnies. of course they got andy

Christine W.: bunnies shooting people
Christine W.: i'm not surprised you liked this
Me: That's what my friends said too.
Me: I'd say it's bunnies shooting camels...

24 März 2009

Another pet peeve - proof-read your shit!

I often get requests at work for things which I don't mind, because in some ways, I'm really just an intern. I do mind, however, when these requests are either unclear or in some way internally contradictory... because that means I have to spend some effort interpreting or mind-reading the requestor. For example:


Sent: Tue 3/24/2009 4:12 PM
Subject: Sally Mae* onsite tomorrow... needs badging
Body: Hi Andrew,

Can you please provide Sally Mae with detailed directions on the badging process. She will be arriving Thursday later in the afternoon, onsite Friday, and through the weekend and into next week.



*Names changed. Sally Mae sounds like a co-ed you can take advantage of and Cornelius simply sounds fucking awesome.

This may sound minor and people (like Cornelius, the sender) may be really busy, but how busy are you that you can't spend five seconds to proof-read something and then fix it?

Yay Google Ads!

There's no real need to say anymore; I'd hope that the image is self-explanatory.

Gasp! A post!

So, as those around me know, I keep saying that I'll start blogging about my experiences at work and all the of the unfortunate situations I find myself in while in the office... so, I guess I'll start by easing into it.

One of my biggest pet peeves is when people decide that they need to touch a computer display to point something out. I guess I understand that there's a certain tactile sensation to it that perhaps metaphysically (or not) connects the pointer to the pointed item... but otherwise, I feel that it's completely unnecessary. Whether it can damage a relatively soft LCD is questionable, but it WILL leave a greasy fingerprint -- SO DON'T DO IT.

Moving along... so here at work, there is a snack section. It just so happens to be near my desk. For a group of our size (at least 50 people, probably more), the snacks disappear quite quickly. There are only two snacks that don't: beef flavored ramen and Reese's peanut butter cups. Thankfully, I like both of these, so it works out for me.

This makes sense: beef probably isn't so common in India (a lot of our group members are straight from India). The peanut thing is a little stranger, given my American-centric view of the world. Peanuts, and peanut butter in particular, appear to be preferred by Americans only. I remember whilst in Germany I was asked about what we, as Americans, put on our toast in the morning. I said that besides jam and butter, we use peanut butter. Some of my lab colleagues didn't even know what that was, so I had to explain the idea of a peanut spread. To the others, I received only a quizzical look as if to ask "But... why would you do that?" So, from that experience, I have drawn a tentative conclusion that Germans don’t enjoy peanut butter. As it turns out, those colleagues were heading to the US for an ACS conference, and for fear of putting peanut butter on their toast, they all packed Nutella (which is delicious, so why not?). Another data point: I did learn later from one of my professors that one of his lab colleagues fresh from Germany had discovered peanut butter and became instantly hooked. The guy gained a noticeable amount of weight as a result.

Apparently, peanuts aren't as common in Thai cuisine as an American might think from eating Thai food... so says a Thai acquaintance of mine. He is, however, kind of sociopathic (in a literal and not figurative sense) and kind of a close-minded moron, so I don't know how inclined I am to believe him.

So, based on my limited observations, I guess I can add India to the list of places that don't enjoy peanuts with quite the same gusto as America. Yes, there is no real point to this blog post, but I’m bored, so why not?