Monday, October 28, 2002

I wrote this blog entry on the train last night, in an attempt to justify bringing my laptop on this trip. I guess it worked as planned.

I spent the whole weekend at my dad’s house, except for sleeping at my brother’s apartment. My grandmother was in town from England along with my cousin, and this was my only chance to visit with them. She’s 90, and while she’s in great health and spirits, there’s no telling how many more visits there will be. It was also a chance for me to see my parents and my brother, none of whom I see as often as I like. So I didn’t get out and see any new movies or enjoy the cultural highlights of the Washington, DC suburbs. My brother earned his private pilot’s license on Sunday, after a little more than two years of flying lessons. Mazel tov!

On the other hand, I did explore my brother’s small book collection and pick up some ideas of things to read in the future. In particular, I borrowed from him a book entitled The Price of Admiralty, by John Keegan. In college, my brother took a class on the history of modern warfare, and he kept all the books. He had two other Keegan books, one on land warfare and one on the leadership styles of Alexander the Great, Wellington, and Hitler, among others. While that one really tempted me, the one I took instead is all about sea warfare, starting with Trafalgar and progressing through Jutland, Midway, and the Battle of the Atlantic in WWII. I’ve always had an interest in naval battles (they’re one of my favorite parts of Empire Earth) and I’m hoping I can learn some strategies from the masters that will help me defeat the computer. And if I like this one, I can always borrow the others later on.

One tidbit about my fantasy life in the navy: my online handle for many years has been “Admiral” in a variety of forms, usually in computer games. Except for Star Wars games, where I’m Cathol Lyn-Ayt, Jedi padawan (the name came from a SW RPG that I played with some friends a few years ago), or in Battlefield 1942, where I’m Bobby Shaftoe (a character in Neal Stephenson’s novel Cryptonomicon. The other night, while playing, another player msg’ed me and said he was Goto Dengo, which gave me a laugh. (That’s another character from the same book. I love geek humor.)

Friday, October 25, 2002

I'm going out of town again this weekend, back to Washington, DC to see my family. Unfortunately I'm taking the train, which was the subject of an FBI terrorism warning yesterday. They catch the sniper, eliminating one source of anxiety for me, but now I have to worry about someone blowing up the train or a bridge while I'm on it.

Things here have been fairly mundane lately. I just haven't had much to say. Maybe I'll come up with something fantastic while I'm on the train.

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Just in case anyone is paying attention: I'm still alive. Nothing new or exciting happening this week. Liz has been out of town all week, so I haven't seen any new movies or done anything out of the usual. I did see Insomnia at a friend's house on Saturday night; it's a good movie. My fantasy football team lost this weekend, and I had the lowest point total in the league for the week. I get some players back from injury and byes this week, so my prospects should improve a little.

Friday, October 18, 2002

Quick fantasy football update: I'm on a three-game winning streak, during which I've beaten two previously undefeated teams. I'm due for a letdown, though. And I can't find anyone who needs one of my spare quarterbacks. Maybe I can trade one of them after this weekend's games. Who wants either of the Trents, Dilfer or Green?

I had dinner with Rudy Giuliani last night. Not just the two of us, of course, but a large group of Novell networking professionals and the former mayor. OK, he wasn't at my table, and the extent of my interaction with him was the five seconds when I shook his hand and we had our picture taken together. But it was still cool. Our local Novell sales rep invited me to this dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel where Giuliani was scheduled to speak. I had a few free drinks and canapes, then waited in line to get my picture taken with the mayor. He had on a ton of makeup and reminded me of the wax figures I've seen at Madame Tussaud's, except he was moving. I didn't even get to say my name to him, just a quick "nice to meet you" to which he said "thanks for coming." I'm not even sure I looked at the camera. I'll have the picture in a week or so, and we'll see if it's worthy of putting up in my cubicle or if it's going in the trash. I ran into a few old friends in the consulting business that I'd worked with while I was at Proskauer two years ago. Dinner was prime rib, garlic mashed potatoes, and greens, but I was starting to think they weren't serving anything other than salad when Rudy got up to speak right after they served the salad. 45 minutes and a glass of wine later, Rudy finished up (an interesting speech about his principles of leadership) and they brought out the main course. Dessert was a fruit tart served with cinnamon ice cream. On the way out, everyone got a free copy of Giuliani's new book, the aptly named Leadership. Normally I'd pass up that kind of book, but it was free and it actually looks intriguing, so I'll read it eventually.

I had something to rant about earlier, but now I forget what it was. Damn.

Liz leaves for Anaheim tomorrow morning, so I'm on my own for the weekend and most of next week. Due to unfortunate (for me) scheduling, most of my New York friends are out of town for the weekend as well, so I'll have to find my own fun. I think I'll devote Sunday afternoon to seven glorious hours of football, followed by the Sopranos and Curb Your Enthusiasm. Other than that, maybe I'll find a movie Liz doesn't want to see, and I can always use the free time to watch DVDs that I haven't seen lately, like the Star Trek: TMP disc that I need to watch again with the visual commentary. The biggest problem for me will be deciding what to eat for dinner. Unless I have a craving for something, I can't ever make up my mind about take-out or carry-out meals. I wander my neighborhood checking out my usual restaurants, considering and rejecting different cuisines, until it's 9 PM and I just pick whatever place I'm closest to at the time. I need to make a list of restaurants I haven't been to lately and just work my way through. I'll probably cook once or twice, but it's just too much trouble to cook for one, and too tempting to make more than I should eat. I'm surprised that I'm more concerned about what I'll eat than I am about entertaining myself. I know I'll be sitting at home on both Friday and Saturday nights, and while that thought should depress me, it doesn't. It's the eating alone that makes me feel a little sad. What does that say about the importance of mealtimes to my psyche?

Thursday, October 17, 2002

Photos from the Gala have been added to my Yahoo! Photos page in the GTA Gala folder. At the size Yahoo! uses, you can't see the red-eye effects. I thought my camera had red-eye reduction, but it never seems to work. Maybe it's because I'm usually taking pictures in a darkened room? Anyway, enjoy.

Monday, October 14, 2002

This past weekend Liz and I were in Washington, DC for a reunion/anniversary celebration of Georgetown theatre. We had a great time catching up with old friends, making some new ones, and enjoying way too much alcohol. I haven't felt the glorious pain of a hangover for a few months, at least. We also got to see the first show of Mask & Bauble's new season, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, by Steve Martin (yes, that Steve Martin). While it's not quite the same caliber of performance as the shows I'm used to seeing here in New York, it was well done.

Someone on the Georgetown alumni e-mail list sent this article to the list this morning. I think the most appropriate comment about it is that the Jesuits make bad businessmen. Perhaps the recent choice of a lifelong Georgetown administrator and layperson as the University president will lead to better business deals for the school.

Wednesday, October 09, 2002

I did purchase Battlefield 1942 on Friday, and I've spent my gaming hours since then exploring the virtual battlefields of the game. One of my favorite sites is Midway island, which is a mostly aerial and naval combat environment. I've gotten the most fun out of spawning on the submarine and trying to sink enemy carriers and battleships with it. I haven't had any luck so far, but driving the sub reminds me of one of my favorite games from my early computer experience on my Commodore 64. I had hours of fun playing a game called Silent Service where you commanded a US sub in the Pacific during WWII, and you had to sink enemy merchant ships while avoiding depth-charge-wielding destroyers and battleships. The sub in BF1942 is similar, but easier to jump in and operate. I also love flying the planes, but I'm not good at bombing things yet. Basically, the game is a great time, and like most games with me, hard for me to tear myself away to go to bed. My only complaint is that the game sucks up unbelievable amounts of virtual memory, so I really need more RAM to get it to run faster. And a better video card. Obviously, I have my holiday shopping cut out for me.

I've installed Red Hat Linux 8.0 on one of my spare PCs at work. I'm really impressed with this release. The installation is easier than in the past, and the interface is so similar to Windows that if it weren't for the missing Windows-only software that I use for work, I'd swear I'm working in Windows. There are some minor annoyances, like getting Java apps to run in Mozilla, but otherwise it's a great OS. If only I had the spare hardware to try it on a laptop and see how the wireless networking fares. That's the mark of a true geek: taking a Linux laptop on the road. Of course, the best part about Linux is that it's free, if you have the fast pipe to download it. I'd tell you where, but my loyal reader probably already knows where to find it.

Friday, October 04, 2002

I've been writing here for a few months now, and it's fairly boring stuff, I admit. I don't link to many sites or express controversial viewpoints, so I'm not surprised that I haven't attracted much attention with this blog. That's OK by me. But today I feel like stirring the waters a little.

One of my wife's best friends is a playwright here in New York. She's written several one-act and ten-minute plays and had them produced at various New York drama festivals as well as elsewhere in the US. Last night, she had one of her short plays produced as part of the 2002 Chip Deffaa Invitational Theatre Festival. Her play was well done and extremely entertaining; I'd seen it several times before but I think this may be the best production of it yet. Unfortunately, her play was third on the program, and before hers, I had to sit through one of the worst pieces of theater I've ever seen (and with the many drama festivals I've attended, I've seen some bad things). The first play on the program was something called "Three Clowns on a Journey," which for me too closely resembled Samuel Beckett's masterpiece Waiting for Godot. If you read the play (found here) it almost (to me, anyway) reads like a cheap imitation of Godot. On his web site, the playwright describes his work as an absurdist piece he wrote in 1968, when he was in a graduate theater program. Maybe it played better 34 years ago, or maybe better actors would have made it watchable, but last night it brought the entire event to a crawl. No one in the audience seemed interested, the house had no energy at all, and I thought I was going to fall asleep. If it had gone on five minutes longer, I was ready to pull out my Palm and start playing games, breach of etiquette be damned. When it was finally over, there was a long pause before the applause started. Liz and I both wondered if anyone was actually going to clap for this waste of time. Mercifully, the audience did, the actors came out for bows, and it was over.

Usually, in situations like that, where I have such a strong negative reaction to something, I'm afraid to share my opinion, fearing that I'm the only one who didn't like it and that I'll be branded a Philistine. Luckily for me, Liz agreed with me that this play was a complete waste of time and energy. Our playwright friend said that she was thinking of asking the producers to change the order of the program, to move this show away from the beginning of the evening, where it's just bringing the whole event down. The other three plays in the first half of the show (we left at intermission), including our friend's, were engaging and entertaining, and the first one just didn't work at the beginning.

Anyway, I've gone on about this long enough.

I've agonized for a few days about my next computer game purchase. While the Empire Earth expansion pack keeps me entertained, I like to balance my strategy gaming with some good old-fashioned ultraviolence, first-person shooter style. I played the demo of Battlefield 1942 for a few weeks and decided to buy it when the full version came out. But the Unreal Tournament 2003 demo came out a few weeks ago and the resulting hype had me thinking I should get that instead. I played the original UT for most of 2000, only stopping when my old PC's hard drive got corrupted and couldn't read the game files anymore. But the UT2003 demo made the game seem just like the original version, only with better graphics and a new gameplay mode, the football-style "Bombing Run," which was the only part of the demo I found worth playing. On the other hand, BF1942 is team-based, set in WWII, and lets you drive vehicles as well as run around on foot shooting things. I'm drawn more to the original concept of BF1942, rather than UT2003 mostly rehashing the last version of the game. But UT2003 is going to be more popular over the long run, given the draw the previous version had. (This is the argument I've been having with myself for the past few days.) This afternoon, I bought BF1942, figuring that I'll get UT2003 at holiday time. If I'm right, by December there will be a huge UT2003 community up and running, and BF1942's hard-core players will still be out there. So tonight I'll be busy fragging the smacktards online again. And in a few short weeks, I'll frag them again in UT2003.

Wednesday, October 02, 2002

More Linux learning today. I figured out how to run telnetd so I don't have to sit at the server console to configure the box. I'm actually getting into this Linux thing again. I'd love to download RedHat Linux 8.0, but I can't get to any of the mirror sites to get the ISO files. Eventually...

Last night I downloaded a bunch of Uriah Heep songs, trying to find the one that Drake and Zeke have been playing as a joke. All the songs I got were good, but not the right one, so in desperation I e-mailed them. They read my e-mail on the air, and the song is in fact "Bird of Prey." As soon as I get home, I'm pulling that one down. It has a cool operatic-style opening, then the lead singer comes in and hits this off-key high note. It's really cheesy in a Black Sabbath-Judas Priest-vein, so I can't wait to hear the whole thing.

Somehow, someway, I won my fantasy football matchup this week to even my record at 2-2. I've still got a crappy team, but at least they managed to win by a point and change. I don't know if I can pull off another win this week, but I'm not playing as good a team, so there's hope.