Jade Empire

Two weeks ago I picked up the new BioWare game, “Jade Empire”. It was my first BioWare game, and I’ve heard nothing but good things about them. I haven’t gotten a game for quite awhile, so it was about time.
My friend, Cameron, has no self-control. He does not save things for later. And he likes role-playing video games. He picked it up three days after me. And I made a pledge to myself to stay ahead of him in the game.
This would be difficult. He has been known to stay up until the wee hours of the morning to exercise his lack of self-control. And I had stuff I needed to do, like prepare D&D games.
My one advantage was that when he was playing he has two games going because he wants to experience the game from two different perspectives. So I could, theoretically, double his pace.
However, on the lack of self-control subject, I would like to introduce Mr. Pot and Mr. Kettle.
I really got into this game, and I’ve started staying up later than I should and putting far too many hours into it.
It’s been nice though. I haven’t played a modern role-playing game in over a year. And because I was playing it continually, I had less need to take notes because everything was still fresh in my mind. And it had a simple combat interface. Button mashing!
Oh, yeah. I just finished the game an hour ago.

I think I’ve got a pattern going here.
Once a season I finally get up the nerve to ask a girl out on a date. When (not if) I’m told no, it takes me about three months to try again with someone else.
Needless to say, I’m feeling a little depressed right now. There is a girl in my improv class that I like, so I asked if she was interested in seeing a movie coming out soon. At least she was nice enough to say that the movie in question was one she had promised to see with her boyfriend. It’s nicer to get shot down that way than to just find yourself waiting at a coffee place for someone who isn’t going to show up.
Actually, I don’t feel depressed. Just stupid.

Running update

This injury sucks.
I only ran 10 km today. My physiotherapist says not to run for more than an hour, so I’m good there. But what bothers me is that the group I would normally run with is doing 29km right now. I started with them and they should be just about reaching the halfway point as I type this. I ran with them for 5km, keeping up well, but it fell apart as I turned around. Going down the hill things really started hurting and I had to walk large chunks of the route back.
Physical exercise: You spend so much effort to bring yourself up to a certain level, and it is so easily taken away. And this is the third Spring in a row that I’ve been injured. Two years ago it was the knee. Last year the foot. This is the season of the shoulder.

Music for the masses

I got a new computer at work on Monday, so I’ve been trying to get it up to speed. Mostly copying files from the old computer to the new one and installing software. I’m a big fan of QuickTime as opposed to the Windows Media Player. It has nothing to do with Apple versus Microsoft. I just think the interface for QuickTime is so much cleaner and friendlier. So of course I went to the Apple site and downloaded the latest version. Surprisingly it came with iTunes. Not really a problem.
Today I found a rogue MP3 wandering aimlessly in the mess of files. So I double-click it to figure out what it was. iTunes comes up and plays the song. But first it scans my hard drive for every other music file it can find. Wow, that many.
I play a few in the privacy of my own office. Then curiosity gets me while playing, Heaven, and I press the arrow next to the artist’s name. Suddenly I’m in the iTunes music store, looking at every song by DJ Sammy. (For the record, I own the CD.) He has some new ones and I click for a thirty second snippet. I like it, I’ll buy it when I get home. A quick look at the mixes people have made shows some other songs that I’ve been wanting to get. Score. I’ll do a more intensive browse at home and buy several songs.
When I get home, none of those songs are available. DJ Sammy has apparently never released any music.
The problem is that because I work for an American company, my computer thinks it is located in Washington state. So the computer was browsing the American iTunes store. Not the Canadian one.
This annoys me. A lot of songs I want are out of my grasp, and I don’t know why. I want to give these people money, why won’t they take it?
Technically I could buy the songs at work and then take them home, but that doesn’t feel ethical. And I don’t want to pay the higher US prices.

So the physiotherapist says to me today that she is getting an intern next week and that she’s looking forward to showing me to her. “Why?” “Because you’re interesting.”
Things you don’t want to hear from a doctor.
She also says it isn’t looking good for me running a marathon this June. So there is a possibility I won’t be running the Manitoba Marathon this year. Which is a pity because it would be one of the last chances I have since my parents are planning on leaving there this year.
It’s a nice flat course.

I just got back from improv class. It normally isn’t held today, but it was moved because this Monday some event is happening that is affecting high schools. Since that covers most of the class, they moved it. It was a great class! The main part was that we did a scene and then had some other improvisers comment on it and analyze it. Figure out what went wrong and what went right. Then, and here is the good part, we did the scene over again with some changes to make it better.
This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. In classes, I constantly do scenes and then afterwards learn what I did wrong. I feel bad and wish I could do it over again. But that’s the nature of improv. It’s ephemeral. If it sucks, oh well, it’s over, don’t dwell on it. So I was in some really good scenes. I think I got a lot better as an improviser.
After the class, on impulse, I grabbed a bite to eat at the Sugarbowl. I had the best meal I’ve had in a long time. It was a beautifully cooked fish on a bed of scalloped potatoes. Delicious!

Well that was dumb

I got up early today and went on a run with the Sunday run groups. The dumb part was that I went with the normal group, which was doing 23km. After about 15 minutes with the 3:30 pace group I realized I wouldn’t be able to keep up, and fell back to the 3:45 group. It was better, but I spent the entire run breathing heavy. I think (as a non-medical person) what is happening is that I have muscles desperately trying to keep my shoulder blade in place and so they are always tight. This prevents me from breathing in fully, so I’m running out of oxygen.
As it was, I abandoned myself about 7km away from home. I stopped running and walked (mostly) the rest of the way back.
My shoulder is feeling good though. As long as I don’t know anything intensive that requires breathing heavily.

PowerPoint Slide Show Hell (12th circle)

This morning there was a presentation for the entire office. Everything wrong with companies seemed to come to light at it.
The first indication of impending doom was that it was between 9:30 and 12:00 in the morning… for the people on the west coast. Here in Edmonton, it was 10:30 to 1:00. It is so nice to know that the management of the company thinks of the people in Edmonton, and their lunch hour.
Next item of doom was the video. It seems that the remote viewing software wasn’t up to snuff. So while we could see the desktop of the person giving the presentation, it was too large, so it appeared on the local computer in a scrolling window. So we could only see 2/3 of the PowerPoint slide show at a time. This wouldn’t have been so bad if it was a normal slide show. You know, the kind with lots of white space, seven lines of seven words each. No, our presenter decided that modern PowerPoint slide shows should have as much information crammed into each slide as possible. So we got to see the show with someone constantly scrolling around the window so we could see everything going on.
The biggest problem was that the presenter was in love with business-speak. The kind of language where you can recognize the words as English, but man was never meant to put them together like that. The entire thing was dull, dull, DULL! No one else could concentrate on it enough to figure out what was going on. A co-worker said he did his best to stay awake, but he couldn’t do it without making snide comments.
That’s the biggest benefit of being a satellite office. We can make comments that will never get back to the dark overlords at the home base.
Eventually I had enough and just left. I got some productive work done.
An email was sent out in the afternoon telling people how they should be acting at meetings. Listen, don’t leave, don’t play with electronics, show respect for the presenter. I’m sure parts were directed at me. However, part was directed at the president of our local office. He spent the entire presentation typing on his laptop. And he didn’t need to take notes because he had a copy of the slide show.
I heard later that some marketing people are doing all their work within PowerPoint. Storing all the information that is relevant to the entire project. This allows them to give a presentation at the drop of a hat. But it also means viewers are looking at a dump of information, much of which isn’t relevant.

Yes, that’s my dinner

In the lunch room today, Jenny asked me what I was having for dinner tonight. She wanted to know what a bachelor usually eats. Perfect timing for me. I’m having Weiner Schnitzel. Except instead of using veal, I was using pork tenderloin. A butter sauce will be added using capers, parsley, and lemon.
I’m feeling good about myself since. An obvious bait, expecting an answer of “leftover pizza”, deflected by nice gourmet food.

And yes, I actually did have it. Mind you, it was leftovers, but I still made it myself.

Today I went running again. Just to be safe I took an Ibuprofin before heading out. I believe they are the same thing as Advil, which I’m immune to, but the pure stuff seems to still dull the pain.
Anyway, the run today went well. The five minute group seemed to be going slower than usual, which was good. I got a bit further this time before I had to take a quick walk for the pain, but after that, I was doing great. I concentrated on breathing through my chest, and although there was still pain, it was controllable. Now my shoulder is feeling better than it has in a long time. I don’t think I’m up for a very long run on Sunday, but I’m still going to go running.

I seem to have a plan on how to deal with the sleepless nights this busted shoulder is causing. It seems to involve staying up later than usual so that I’m too tired to wake up in the middle of the night.
The problem with this plan is that it is making me cranky. The cure is worse than the disease?

Computer mess ups

Yesterday, as I was watching more TV than I should, there was a Mars bar commercial on that had a song that I liked. There was only one line of the lyrics that I heard “How does it feel”. So I popped onto my computer and googled that, with the keyword “Lyrics”. There too many songs with that title. And that title did not match the song when I tried it in iTunes.
Then I did a google search on “Mars commercial” with that line. Score! Someone complaining about how inappropriate that song is in a commercial. The name of the song: “Blue Monday”. Now all I need to do is find out who made it. A google search with the line and the title turned up “Orgy”
Woo hoo! It’s in iTunes. The thirty seconds I hear sounds about right. A little off, but close enough. A purchase later and I have the song. It’s good, but quite a bit more “Rock” than I expected.
It was about five minutes later that I found that many other people have done that song. The originator (as near as I can tell) was “New Order”. A band I’ve liked in the past. The version on iTunes even sounds better.
Now I’m in the conundrum over whether to purchase the New Order version. It feels dumb to buy the same song twice. But what I’ve got to realize is that I’m getting a lot more bang for my buck with iTunes than I ever had with CD purchases. I’ll probably get it eventually.

I found a site that stores a lot of flash movies. I’ve noticed there are two main varieties of flash movies. Those that someone has spent time crafting and give a good viewing. Then there are the others where it looks like someone trying to learn flash and put his homework up for the world to see.
The second stupidity yesterday was that it took me about five minutes to figure out that the badger badger badger song has no ending and will not change no matter how long it is watched.

An interesting weekend.
Saturday was spent in two states. In one state there was condo board work. We’re trying to get the back alley paved, but to do that, we need a petition signed with a certain percentage of people by April 15th. We’ve sort of dropped the ball on this so we’re scrambling to get enough signatures. So I’ve been, every so often, phoning the people I’ve been assigned to try and make an appointment to get the signatures.
On the other state, I’ve been leaving to go get stuff I’ve been wanting to get done. I went shopping and bought some new clothes and got some household items I’ve been needing. Clothes shopping is very entertaining if you admit you have no idea what looks good, and then let the cute girls make you try clothing. I like being the center of attention
Then there was Saturday evening.
I got invited out by a girl to go to a fetish store opening.
Things you wouldn’t expect to happen in your life, and then they do. Now of course I might be exaggerating a bit. I was invited by a runner friend, Monica, to get together. We haven’t seen each other in awhile so it was a chance to catch up. She lives in a small apartment building filled with gay men. They all seem very close. One of them was a past “Mr. Edmonton Leather” so he had to make an appearance at the grand re-opening of “B&D Emporium”, the fetish store in question. (I’ve been there before to try and get the demon wings I wanted for halloween. Never did though.) Everyone else in the building was going, so Monica was too. She really didn’t want to, as she was tired, and just wanted to relax. I have the philosophy though that if I’m invited out, I have to go. So I wasn’t the most supportive of letting her relax.
Anyway, it was a nice party there. Food and drinks. Even got introduced to whippings. All in all, a full evening.
Today I did an exercycle for an hour and a half (boring!), wandered a bit on Whyte, then watched a lot of television. No it wasn’t productive, but it was the weekend.


Yesterday my company announced a change to the Employee Stock Purchase Plan. In summary, it now sucks. It used to be that over a six month period we paid 85% of the value of the stock at the start of the period, or the end of the period, whichever was lower. Great deal! If the stock has gone down, you are getting 15% off the purchase price. If the stock has gone up… you get a great deal more off. Assuming you sell the stock as soon as you come into possession of it.
Now it is 5% off the price at the end of the period. Since it takes a few days for the stocks to come into our possession, and with the fluctuating exchange rate, we could actually lose money.
I could get more money by putting the money into bonds for the six months. It would be better if they just said we could buy the stock for 5% off at any time during the period. But because the period ends two weeks after the quarterly report, it is probably the worst time to buy.
My benefits have slowly been eroded since we were bought out. Especially compared to the American employees. I’m really thinking of looking for another job. I like my coworkers so I’ve been avoiding such thoughts. But now…
Well, one thing I’ll do before trying to find a new job is to finish my current home programming project. I’ll look a whole lot better as a programmer if I can show any potential employer a working application that I made all on my own.
Bioware is still in town…

So I tried running today.


My legs didn’t feel that bad, but my upper body was not happy with me. Cramps and stitches abound. I sucked it up and did the full run, lagging behind everyone. I had to stop and walk every so often.
The real test will be how I feel tomorrow. Heck, how I feel in the middle of the night is not irrelevant.
In other news there is a large earth moving machine in the vacant lot across the street. It’s doing some digging, but I’m not sure what it is trying to accomplish. It has dug two deep holes, and piled dirt around them, but that’s it. They aren’t even big enough to do anything with. Still, free entertainment.

My body continues to fall apart

The cold is gone, but it has left carnage in its wake. That’s what I found out when I went to the physiotherapist this evening. My right shoulder blade is concerning her. It has suddenly started flailing about when I move my arm. These things aren’t usually supposed to do that. So now she wants me to go to the doctor and see what he suggests. I think I realized something was wrong when I noticed I was looking a little hunchbacked in the mirror.
I really don’t like being “special” when seeing medical people. I just want this to be fixed, and I didn’t expect things to get WORSE! That’s the reason I stopped running and went to the physiotherapist.

Yesterday I had an improv class again. I seem to be the only one there who isn’t connected to a high school. Three of my classmates are in high school, in fact the fourth student teaches them. And the fifth just got out of high school. But the class is good, and I’ve got things to work on.

Ultima 3

This morning I did some wandering on the internet. I’ve been thinking I need to get Ultima 3 behind me, which would involve turning on the big cow that is the Windows computer. It then occurred to me that there was an alternative. A while back, someone ported Ultima 3 to the Mac. They did it without any of the original code, (not a real port) so there is some doubt as to whether it is an accurate version.
So I did a search, found it, downloaded and tried it out. Very nice. Good graphics, but still maintaining most of the clunky interface from a two decade old game. No drag and drop here. You have to type the proper key codes to do most anything. That said, it has a number of nice features that make using it soooo much easier.
The biggest is that by default, the computer will handle all the battles for you. Sweet! Once a battle starts, you just sit back and watch your finely honed team of adventurers slaughter the orcs. Heck, I’ve seen some battles go so fast that the battle screen has gone away and I’ve already looted the treasure before the opening whine has finished.
Now I come to the dilemma. It is shareware, so I should spend $15US to support it. In fact you can’t win the game without supporting it. Ambrosia is off limits until you do. Or I could turn on the big cow and play the original Ultima 3. Which would be guaranteed to act correctly. But then all the progress I’ve done already would be lost. And I really hate to micro-manage the battles.
While I was contemplating my options (In my heart I know what I will do, I just have to get my brain to figure it out) I decided to drag out the old clue book I got when Ultima 3 was the latest incarnation. It was a small orange book, and I could not find it. That was irony. I save this book for two decades, and when I finally do need it, it’s missing. I eventually found it (In my Ultima trilogy box, not my Ultima collection box). But it is a bit of a disappointment. The maps in it are all done in ASCII art, so it is near impossible to tell where anything is. It doesn’t help that it is insanely easy to find full color helpful maps on the internet.

It’s official. I have a cold. So I’m really not getting any sleep at night. Shoulder pain. Stuffed nose. Really, my body is sabotaging me.