So, my car is still laid up. But for a very different set of reasons. I got my temporary driver's license from Canada (no big deal there, just a lot of hurrying up and waiting). But then, my license sticker had expired! So I waited for one of those to be sent up to me, and now I have it. Only now, my tire went flat the same day I applied the sticker. I have an appointment to go get the flat fixed on Thursday, whereupon I expect Rodan to swoop down from the sky and carry off my car as punishment for my daring to try to resolve the issues that keep me from driving.

    I've finished Final Fantasy X recently. What an ending. I won't say a word about it beyond this: I really, really wish that said ending would 'stick'. But given that we're going to be getting at least two sequels to it, I'm pretty sure it won't.
    Speaking of which, we're looking down the barrel of a loaded gun'o'fun! What with Xenosaga installment one of eighty-six bazillion, two Final Fantasy X sequels coming out and Kingdom Hearts coming down the pipe, I might just manage to survive the coming year without once having to scream 'FINAL FANTASY XI SUCKS IMMENSE DONKEY!' at the top of my lungs. I suppose it's possible that a MMPORPG version of Final Fantasy won't suck. I also suppose it's possible that cold fusion will be discovered in my sock drawer, but I'm not holding my breath waiting for it to come to pass, either.
    I am having my Video-Related fun lately, however. I just started playing Fallout 1 (and by just started, I mean 'obsessively played for two days straight, solving all but the last two missions after a marathon of gamage') and am having a blast with it. I can't wait to play Fallout 2 and Tactics (both of which are sitting on my shelf, waiting patiently for me to get to them and decant their delicious, baroque post-apocalypse contents into my ever-filling hard drive). For a break (some break!), I purchased The Gunman Chronicles for a song (and if you pay $4.00 for a song, it means that the RIAA has already won) and just started playing it (and by 'just started' I mean 'played obsessively in all my free time for three days, finished and uninstalled, wishing that there had been a sequel or three'). Gunman was one of those success stories that still fills Geeks' hearts with joy: to wit, a group of Clever Fellows were creating a modification for Half-life named (you guessed it!) The Gunman Chronicles. The sheer professionalism of this mod caught Sierra's attention, and before you can say 'Forget Freeman', Chronicles became an official Sierra product. Now if only someone would purchase my House Rules for Monster Squash...

    Speaking of house rules, success stories and geeks, wish me luck in the Wizards of the Coast's New Setting Search contest. Those of you who don't know about it will be delighted to know that Plutocratic WOTC has farmed out its desire for a new fantasy role-playing setting to the fen of the internet, encouraging hundreds (if not thousands) to submit a one-page proposal to their hot little hands, in exchange for the chance to become the one lucky winner who actually designs the setting for them. Likely, the 'lucky winner' will wind up discovering his or her setting sees far less usage than, oh shall we say, Spelljammer; the real meat of this contest (as far as The Wizards are concerned) is probably the Dragon's hoard of inspiration fodder that they've just received and had the clever little internet-fen sign over to them, in the vain hopes of being picked to win one for the home team. To this end, I've submitted a setting which I picked very carefully: it's one of which I'm proud, and which is fairly inventive; but it's also a setting for which I have zero earthly use, and to which I have no real emotional attachment just in case it either gets Slushpiled or worse, digested into another game designer's Stomach of Creativity. We'll see!

    Writing's flowing much better of late. This is a good sign to me. The speedup of writing has corresponded directly to a decrease in the stress that I feel over work. I call this correlation Not Spurious. I still do have the throughput problem (to wit, I have far more in the queue than I can write at present, rather than the parity situation of the olden days). This speedup makes me happy. Very happy. I am, at heart, a writer. When I'm not writing, I spend a lot of time moping around.

    Since I'm talking about writing, I should talk about the tool that allows me to write! And hey, you haven't heard me whinge about computers in a long while, so pull up a seat!
    Well, BeOS and its creator Be, Inc. are both still extremely dead; and worse, I have no hardware left capable of running BeOS (Prism, my old machine, died a horrible death of senility and Trinity, my new machine, errors out whenever I try to boot the beloved Be under it). Given that I've taken employ at an All-Macintosh school, I've replaced BeOS with Macintosh OS X, which I've discovered to be the nearest thing to BeOS that you can get, without killing someone. Someday soon I'll wax poetic about Mac OSX, but this OS has basically just grown on me like fungus (and a good fungus, not a bad one!); it has a very BeOS-like feel to it, wonderful tools that come bundled along (let's face it, Apple is the master of uncrufted apps, as iTunes, iPhoto, iDVD and iDon'tKnowAboutYouButI'mStarved prove) and has a good feeling of providing structure to the user without binding you to it in the way that Windows does. Someone's just released a Virtual desktop program for OS X, and Virtual screens are exactly what I needed to make OS X into my BeOS-replacement, so I'm currently walking on everlovingair. To make things sweeter, work just provided me with an iMac for my office, meaning that I can take my TiBook on the road (and keep it mostly at home) for my main machine. Which it has become. I possess Trinity, my Windows XP box (and it's a wonderful box. A great box. Dell makes incredibly good computers. They're especially good at providing boxen that you can open, change around, reassemble and have still working once you're done) and poor Trinity tends to see exclusive use as my Media and Games machine. Once QuickTime 6 goes public and not 'install at your own riskware', that will turn into 'Trinity is my Games machine', because right now the only media I play on trinity are my MPEG4 files. MP3s filter through the wonderful iTunes on my TiBook. You really can't do much better than OS X at this point.
    That got put to the test just after my old TiBook got stolen from out of my office. For a week, I was obliged to use Trinity as my Net machine... and I discovered that, while Trinity made a perfectly good net machine, there was no sheer joy, no sheer wonder, no sheer feeling of OS-Empowerment to Windows XP. XP is a very stable environment and lacks any degree of a soul. It's like having broccoli put on your pizza. Good, solid food, not terribly repulsive, but for the love of God why would you want to eat it?

    Lastly, work has very graciously provided me with a Sony Clie for my day-to-day use, which replaced my venerable Palm Vx as an entertainment-unit-come-work-machine. I worked my Palm to death, because it fit so very well into my work routine, and thus I don't have any problems with being given a Clie... as I know I'll use it for work! It's not my fault if I also use it for play... I'll give a fuller report on this nifty little device once I've given it the paces, but let me say this: I've been reading eBooks on my Palm for a year now, and the Clie just makes the consumption of electronic literature even better!
    And on the topic of ebooks, is it me or is content-on-demand-of-micropayment just the bee's knees? I buy books (I'm a voracious reader and my consumption of books is legendary) all the time; I also buy electronic books all the time as well, usually from either Baen or from Fictionwise. I live about a left-turn away from Nowhere, so being able to purchase new literature online and have it delivered immediately is the greatest thing since sliced bread. I used to hate the whole idea of net-based fiction, as I hated to read sitting at my computer, but with the help of a hand-held computer device, reading electronic literature is almost as transparent to me as reading a book. After all, I can curl up with my Palm in just the same ways as I do with my books, which is such a plus to me.
    In addition to buying books from various fiction outlets, I'm also sucking music down off of the eMusic site, which provides a lot of the fun of Filesharing while remaining nice and legal. I'm also purchasing a lot of CDs. Let me explain how the two business models won't kill each other, at least in my life!
    eMusic provides a lot of music, though a good deal of it belongs to artists who are faded, lesser-known, or just trying to make a comeback. If you've ever wanted to pick up a Taco CD, but didn't want to plunk down the dosh for it, you can just go to the site and download the MP3s from his Greatest Hits album. Better yet, part of your monthly subscription fee is diverted to whoever holds the rights to Taco's music (probably someone named Gordita), so you're supporting an artist in a small way. Since you probably wouldn't have purchased that CD in a store (no matter how much you wanted to hear 'In The Mood' one more time), the Record companies are making a little extra money off of otherwise unsalable properties and you're getting music that you're curious about.
    On the other hand, I love the album format. I love being able to take a CD off my shelf and plop it into my stereo (or into my Computer, you RIAA BASTARDS!!!) and listen. I love having artwork on the cover that suggests a little bit of what the theme of the album will be. I love having the music arranged with other pieces, often times forming a very loose theme. I will go out and purchase CDs when they catch my eye (this month I've plunked down money for They Might Be Giants, Yes, Rush and a couple of soundtracks, alone). I will not, however, grab the Collected works of Taco. I will, on the other hand, download them and listen periodically when the mood catches me. Albums have a weight... a permanence of structure and form to them which MP3s never will. To me, Emusic and CDs exist side by side, each one delivering to me a different experience and type of music to fill my life with song!
    Right now, eMusic's subscription fee is $9/month. I expect that to at least double if it catches on; and triple if it falters. If it catches on, I fully expect to be paying $20/month and paying it happily, as there will be many albums which I can't afford to buy, don't want to pirate, but which I can access via eMusic. And that, as they say, is that.

    Lastly, I just had a vacuum cleaner demonstration at my apartment the other day. I didn't want a vacuum cleaner demonstration. I was told that the company was a floor-shampooing concern which was willing to give me a free one-room cleaning in the hopes that I'd pay to have more of my rooms cleaned. Foolish me, I'd forgotten that people lie to each other in this day and age. I was also lied to when the one-hour appointment turned into three. The vacuum cleaner in question was the Kirby, which I can only assume has attacked dirt, dust and mites since the Nintendo Entertainment System, and is priced at the very very reasonable $1600. Er, that is, reasonable if you excrete diamonds.
    Anyway, that's all I have for now. Peace and love, friends!

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