Jason's Blog

Archive for May, 2005

Busy memorial day weekend

by on May.31, 2005, under General

Let’s see, started off fairly relaxing, had some beers with some friends, stayed up wayyyy too late, slept in wayyy late the next day. I ended up playing some pool, and having a good ol’ time of things. Been a while since I’ve just been able to kick back, relax, hang out with some friends. Was a lot of fun smile The next day was even more fun – went to an awesome concert smile

Saturday night initially started off with more relaxing, and then a trip to the Bluenote to listen to a band called Carbon Leaf with roommate (known as Roadkill). This band ROCKS – SERIOUSLY, check them out. I can’t say that enough: they are AWESOME. Over the last several months (I first bought their cd off of iTunes back in July, 2004) they’ve about become my favorite band. I love the lyrics, the way the guitar is played, the bass, as well as the skill of all the instrumentalists, and just the overall quality of music the band plays. The lead singer has excellent vocals, good stange presence, and everything just fit really well. Go check them out – they’ve got a ton of shows coming up all over in places like Denver, Washington, Virginia, etc. I can’t recommend these guys enough, and plan on purchasing all their albums.

Now enough of me spouting on about an awesome band (had to say it once more). The rest of the weekend has been fairly tame. Did a shopping trip Saturday to pick up groceries & supplies, came back, cleaned house for a while, relaxed & played some video games, hung out with friends, etc. Then today hit ol’ Wally World. I don’t like em much, but sadly, sometimes they’re the only option in this town. I’ve been wanting a propane grill for quite some time, and they had one from Charbroil for $120 that was pretty nice. SO, picked that up today, along with hamburger buns, and grilled up some VERY delicious onion burgers. SO, did that, and then been relaxing since. Sorta anyways. I had to make one trip to work late tonight (which I talk about on my development blog), which took a bit of time, and I’ve been up since working on my home network. So, a good weekend – busy, but mostly relaxing. Course, tomorrow will be busy as well – talk with UMC-Kansas City people to fix a problem from work, get haircut, sign lease on apartment for next year, renew drivers license, etc. Time for stress to come back – UGH.

Sometime soon here, I’m going to need, and take, a REAL vacation.

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Corporate greed (continued)

by on May.25, 2005, under General

I saw this comic today, and touches an aspect that I didn’t cover the other day. That so often when the big wigs get their raises, or when companies are sooo worried about how they look in the stock market, and things like this, that it’s the employees that hurt and suffer.

(from comics.com – good comics web site)

A “common” practice to increase your stock price through “cost savings” is to fire people. This doesn’t seem right in any way shape or form. I’m old fashioned – I believe in loyalty to your company, and your company should be loyal to you as well. So much lately you hear about thousands of people being laid off at a company, their stock price goes up, and a few months later, the executives salaries increase. How is that right??? Even more – look at that salary. If you took off 10 million dollars off of a salary, that’s 250 people making 40,000 a year. Granted not quite that due to benefits and other concerns, but it’s interesting to think about. I wish these people realized that there are more important things than making a quota, getting your stock price raised, or getting yourself an extra million or two above the millions you’ve already got.

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Greed of large company CEOs

by on May.24, 2005, under General

Ok, I won’t deny anyone the right to earn their pay. Particularly doctors who go through a LOT to do their jobs, including a lot of schooling, a lot of time and effort, etc. Even more, your life is in their hands. BUT, I do think there needs to be limits. I mean, come on, what are you going to do with 30 million a year?? That’s definitely on the insane side. I’d think anything over 10 million is vastly exceeding any sign of sanity. Again, I can make allowances for certain things, i.e. living in California where the cost of living per year is massive, or for Doctors, definitely NOT for lawyers, etc. I guess I wish I had words to describe though how much something like this bothers me:

“Valley execs’ greed returns to dot com levels” [register.co.uk]

I respect the right of people to make money. I respect that people like to make a lot of money, and how much they make depends on where they’re living and what they’re doing. BUT, there are limits to my understanding. Sports Professionals – I can understand some of that (although I still find some of it excessive) as they’ve got a short window on their career, although it really SHOULD be more about the game than the money. Too often I think that gets lost. Anyways, as said, there are places where large paychecks are understandable. But $230 million in one year????? Or, looking at numerous other CEO’s, $30 million? It’s kind of disgusting, when you think about it – add up the amount that the CEO’s, CFO’s, and all the upper level executives make at some of these companies. Good grief! I could understand a million or two million or heck, even five million per year. They are big companies and require expertise. But, there have to be limits someplace…

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Classic RPG video games

by on May.23, 2005, under General

Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m into video games. Of course, I’m into electronics, toys, and virtually everything else there is out there that’s expensive wink. But, video games for me hold a special place in my heart. I still remember playing things like M.U.L.E. on commodore 64 (btw, speaking of that, if anyone wants to buy a full working 64 system, with tons of games, etc. let me know). Then, there were the memories and excitement of getting our first console – the Nintendo. This is where I diverged perhaps from other gamers of the era. Not so much in owning of the various consoles, but what I played on these consoles. First, some background.

The first thing to keep in mind when considering things is I’m definitely a bookworm. I grew up reading about everything I could get my hands on, but mostly focused on science fiction and fantasy. I’m not sure what first got me into that genre, but it’s a genre that has held my interest continuously through-out my life. Today, that’s about all I read when I’m in the mood to actually read anything. With that background, perhaps my love of RPG’s can be understood. RPG’s being Role Playing Games, the only video games I still am addicted to.

A lot of people love FPS’s – First Person Shooters – such as Halo, Doom, and several others. I do like playing those games on occasion, but my true love is and has always been RPG’s. There are so many aspects, including story line, the concept of a hero over coming the odds, the way the game itself is played – non-linearly, how you can work hard to level up a character, how advancement in the game is more mentally based than on relfexes alone. Role Playing Games such as the early Final Fantasy series, and numerous other series including Ultima will now and always be my favorite genre, and the games that I go back to time and time again. The newer consoles may have better graphics, the dialog may be fleshed out (“All your base belong to us” anyone smile? ), but in the end, the truely amazing games last forever – because that is the nature of a good game. It doesn’t matter whether it’s 30 years from now, I could still see myself playing things like Final Fantasy I, II, and III (American numbering). I could go back and play soul blazer, or a bunch of the Playstation games and be perfectly happy – in some ways far more happy than on Xbox. Or, I can go back, play Master of the Orion II – it still holds appeal. These are TRUE RPG’s, truely great games that stand the test of time, as their story, the way the game progresses still captures my attention tho this day, despite having only perhaps “32 bit” graphics or whatever the limitation of the console was at the time.

With that, let me also speak out on current “RPG’s”. There are very very few that have actually held any interest for me. For example Final Fantasy Online – although some have raved about it – annoys me more than it does anything else. It was a horribly put together game, where the first 10 levels are rediculously difficult. I understand that later levels change the dynamics of play quite a bit, but I’m old fashioned – how you introduce and get the game going is in some ways what makes that game great. It’s the dynamics of leveling up a character, of allowing thought and careful planning, of patience in advancing that FF online (I guess it’s Final Fantasy XII or something like that) that drove me away from many modern RPGs. Any game that is so graphics crazy, so unbalanced, and poorly designed can’t hold my interest for long. Even more, it took me nearly a month of playing to advance to a point that was useful – far too long of a time span to maintain my interest. Then, after numerous deaths because the areas weren’t very well flehsed out for new players, I was so disgusted I couldn’t hardly play it anymore. That is simply poor design.

To me it seems RPGs today are so focused on the graphics that they’ve lost all sight of those truely original values that made an RPG great – good story, ability to think things through, seeing how characters interact, etc. etc. etc. One of the only games I’ve been able to play today that keeps my interest and maintains it has been Knights of the Old Republic. It’s a beautiful combination of well designed controls, excellent playability, and numerous other things that makes a game great. But such examples are few and far between in a world of bigger, faster, more powerful, better looking, and totallyl completely shoddy game design.

A good game should be truly independent of time and the console – it’s a good game in it’s own right. And there are few, so very few of those. SO, thank you to the original designers of Final Fantasy, who made a game to stand through time. Thank you to the original RPG’s who have managed to help me pass many an hour (even if I may have cursed you at the time for taking away all my time). A major curse upon you new designers who focus so much on graphics, and one-hit-wonders, that you’ve lost all touch of true lasting beauty. Now, with that mental discourse out of the way, back to my classic gaming, back to the originals that made me love video games to begin with….

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by on May.19, 2005, under General

Ok, not going to say too much tonight. Not sure I’ve got the words to describe the experience. And it’s not just the movie, it was things like the lightsaber duel before-hand, the people dressed up in various costumes, the laughter, the smiles, the cheers. Star Wars isn’t just a movie – it’s a phenomenon with which words are often inadequate.

A few notes – if you haven’t seen the cartoons, they would help greatly understand how things work, where the plot goes in the movie. Without them, Episode III is still good, but the understanding of the series is greatly enhanced by those cartoons. In some ways, perhaps too much so. Episode III, and all the star wars saga are often merely glimpses into the whole world of Star Wars, and one that should be experienced in it’s fullest. There are books, other movies, and additional stories to be told. Yet, for the major event, the story now has finally be completed.

Last, I will say this – Star Wars Episode III, Revenge of the Sith was a good movie. Not near the experience, nor the quality, in many ways as the originals, but an experience of it’s own that stands separate. It is both less and more than the previous ones. More, in that it stands on the shoulders of the movies before (in the case of Episode I & II, very small shoulders), but it stands greater because of the legacy it entails, and completes. The first three are classics that I doubt could ever be topped, and Episode III certainly doesn’t do so, but it was still enjoyable. The dialog definitely needed to be better, the acting was in parts very good, but it could have both better and worse. Who knows whether Lucas will do any other Star Wars movies (although if he does, like many others, I’ll be standing in line 2 hours before opening, and like many others, hoping for better dialog wink ). I don’t know that it matters in the end whether any other movies will be created. In some ways I hope not, as Episode III is in some ways an epilogue or conclusion, a tying together of loose ends that finishes a saga long in the making. In that, I’m glad to be, or perhaps been, a part of the saga known as Star Wars.

Last, the saga though is not truly complete, for like any story, it’s only part of the whole. There’s more to see, more to learn, from books and other arenas yet to be discovered. The ways of the Jedi and the Force are vast, and take discipline and knowledge. Now, it’s up to you padawans and fellow Jedi. Learn the ways of the force, discover more of the star wars world.

May the force be with you.

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