Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Resolution

Okay, I have about 15 minutes left before 2009 ends, which means I cannot write my usual short essay on random stuff. So I shall be brief. My New Year's Resolution is to have more posts like the last where I just take an hour of time and write about whatever twice a week rather than work on massive updates that I never have time to complete. Let's see how long it takes for me to not live up to this resolution (I predict February AKA the month of EVIL).

Monday, December 14, 2009

Screw the rules! I have blogging!

Okay, I'm working the desk at Cummings Hall and the only alternative to blogging is studying, so I'm going to blog the ever-loving crud out of this desk. The problem is I don't have a prompt, so I'm going to try... WRITING SPONTANEOUSLY!

This really is ironic because spontaneous thought is one of my greatest strengths. You'd think that would translate well into blogging at random, but it hasn't. I suspect the Mayan Doomsday is to blame. But let's see what the next topic that comes to mind is...


Yeah, I know. Exciting stuff. But I have just about wrapped up tutoring for the semester and the general consensus is that I am eleven different kinds of awesome at my job. Mostly, I figure it's because I vaguely recall Algebra and don't back down. A prime example of this is coming up tonight, when I will be tutoring a girl in stats despite the fact I have not had stats since senior year of high school. Throw in that, being senior year, I didn't really learn anything that year and tonight should be very interesting. I figure I can bluff my way through with 95% certainty. That sounds vaguely mathy right? RIGHT?!

In years past, I might have written something about health care here, but I'm far too busy to get involved in the bickering fest du jour. Unfortunately, this morning I woke up with a bit of a sore throat and sneezed more than usual. This would not be a big concern, except for the fact that my immune system has two settings- "prevent everything" and "let the germs win". So right now, I'm a bit worried that at any given moment, I will explode with plague. And most of my finals' strategy incorporates me being relatively unexploded and plague-free. So I'm going to handle this the way I handle every disease: by chugging a gallon of orange juice! That is surely the healthiest thing to do in this situation, as well as the most delicious. By the way, I've noticed most of my medical decisions occur at the intersection of "Delicious" and "Healthy". It is only a matter of time before I synthesize an H1N1 vaccine inside of a donut. Yeah, that's right, medical students who read my blog, I don't have to grow my vaccine strains in a culture, I just synthesize them inside of pastries. I would share my secrets with you, but then I remembered the last time I visited the doctor, I didn't get a lollipop for being "a brave boy". I'm not sure when lollipop care was dropped, but I'm keeping my donut vaccine a secret in retaliation! But I digress. The important thing to remember is that I need to drink more orange juice and I am withholding imaginary vaccines that defy medical science from the health care industry.

Well, my time at the desk is officially over. I hope you've enjoyed this trip down Spontaneity Avenue. Coming up next time, Finals, Harry Potter, Assassin's Creed 2 and more!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

All We Want to Do is Eat Your Brains

Before I begin, I'd like to say that I write surprisingly more often than this blog would indicate. One of my most recent works was for the Zombie Defense Class I taught for my job with housing. That's right, I technically got paid to talk about how to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse. More astute readers may recall I mentioned this briefly in one of my earlier updates last semester. All in all, this presentation was 100% better than the one I gave last year. I had a powerpoint guiding me so I didn't stumble around as much (if I can ever figure how to post attachments, I will post it here). The preparation for the event was much better, so thank you to whoever made the Zombie banner to put in the lobby. Also, the event itself was much better publicized (because I made sure to put the flyers up more than 2 days in advance). Finally, I want to give a shout out to Melissa, for making brain-shaped sugar cookies. Truly, those were delicious brains.

More surprising was the fact that over 40 people showed up (compared to 8 or 9 last spring). But the biggest surprise of the night was what happened after the lecture. Last year, I decided to include a showing of Shaun of the Dead to try and attract some of the movie enthusiast crowd (little known fact: everyone will stop at an event which has free drinks and a movie). The ploy worked because 2 or 3 people showed up just for the movie. However, this year the opposite happened. Of the 40 people who showed up, only about 6 stayed for the movie. So, all in all, I'd have to say the Zombie Defense Class was a wild success. Thank you to everyone who came out. For those of you who didn't come, here is a sample of the presentation- the handout that was distributed to every table.
Zombie Defense Class

Survival Tips

1. Stick with a group and remained organized. Loners never last long in the zombie apocalypse. In fact, zombies come to expect survivors to travel in groups. After all, they say “Braaaaaaiiiiiinnnssssssss”, not “Braaaaaiiiiiiinnnn”. Stick with your RA and you stand a much better chance of survival.

2. A zombie avoided is worth a dozen zombies defeated. A single zombie is never much trouble, but you are in for a quite a challenge if you attract the attention of the zombie horde.

3. If you can hear them, they’ve already heard you. By the time you hear the telltale cry of “Braaaaaiiiiinnnnssss”, it means the zombie has already seen you, created an event titled “Eating Your Brains” on Zombie Facebook, and invited all his friends to it.

4. Zombies are lazy but persistent. Zombies are notoriously lazy. Zombies shuffle everywhere they go and even if they get someone’s brain, they never finish it. However, a zombie will viciously hunt you down at a leisurely pace for miles.

5. You have to rest, they don’t. The only thing harder than surviving the zombie apocalypse is surviving the zombie apocalypse is surviving the zombie apocalypse while tired. Though the zombies never stop their vicious leisurely shuffle, rest is absolutely essential. When you’re tired, you are more likely to make a careless mistake and become part of the All You Can Eat Brain Buffet. When you need to rest, find some place that offers a measure of security against the zombies.

6. No place is safe, only safer. During the zombie apocalypse, you need to find a defensible place and stay there. However, no place is safe forever and you always need to be planning your next move.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Concert Reaction

All right, I have a ton of subjects I want to talk about, but rather than cam them all into one unreadable update, I'm going to be making a series of smaller updates (which is the entire point of a blog that I can't seem to grasp). For those of you who are eager to know what's coming up, I'll be talking about the Styx/REO concert I went to, the Zombie Apocalypse lecture I gave (which over 40 people attended!), fantasy football (it's like gambling but legal), some of my other misadventures, and a few of the video games I've played (except for the very sassy, very fine honeys who no doubt frequent this blog. For you, I will be discussing the many sensitive poems I write displaying my emotional depth and sincerity and entire non-borderline obsession with guns, guitars and swords. Because that's not me).

First I want to discuss the concert because that is most recent and most likely to be forgotten when I inevitably put this off for two weeks. The opening band was an act called "Night Ranger", and they were the 1980s personified. They had the big blond hair and their first song involved was called "We're gonna rock! (Tonight! Woman!)" and involved them playing over-the-top guitar solo with periods of shouting "Tonight!" and "Woman!" interspersed. Then in the middle of that song, they start playing Highway Star for some reason. I'm not making it up. I'm listening to the fourth guitar solo of the song and I start thinking "This is pretty catchy... and familiar". I ask Bean, who went with me, if he noticed a similarity between this solo and the one in Highway Star. Night Ranger decides to remove all ambiguity from the question and sings the opening verse of Highway Star before going back to "Tonight! Woman!". It was a very disorienting experience. But all in all, I really like Night Ranger as an opening act. Not because of any musical proficiency, but because they reached a strange self-awareness of how great a parody they are of 80s rock. At one point during the show, they played the song "Keep Rockin' in America", in which the lead guitarist was flanked by American flags and they showed off a Stars & Stripes version of the band's logo. The only way they could be more 80s was if they had spelled the name "Nite Ranger".

Next up was the main event, REO Speedwagon, the masters of the power ballad. I am a recent convert to REO's music and I was pleased with their performance. They played most of my favorites (Riding the Storm Out, Roll with the Changes, Take It on the Run) and had a very good pace to their show. The music was skillfully performed and nothing too unusual happened. It's not that I was underwhelmed by REO, but Styx's performance was so strange that I feel REO's consistent and predictable (but still very awesome) show does not need further mention.

Styx was just a bit unusual at times during their concert. They played all of the famous Tommy Shaw (or totally cool) Styx songs- Blue Collar Man (my personal favorite), Renegade (which I got an awesome t-shirt for), Too Much Time on My Hands. They also played the Dennis DeYoung (or mind numbingly painful) classic- Come Sail Away. For the record, there is only one good version of Come Sail Away, and it is by Eric Cartman:

But the first odd thing was a cover song Styx did. This was no ordinary cover, it was a cover of "I am the Walrus" by the Beatles. It was skillfully done but still a very puzzling addition. Personally, I've always held a bit of a grudge against the Walrus, because I like things that make a lick of sense, or at least try to. But of course, Beatles fans will point out this critical flaw in my argument- "Goo goo ga joob". However, their keyboardist, who Wikipedia tells me is Lawrence Gowan, was just plain strange. Before punishing us with Come Sail Away, he decided to do a sing-along portion of the show. Yeah, you read that right, a sing-along portion. But not to any Styx or REO songs, no. He literally started off with the Rolling Stone's Ruby Tuesday. Then he chastised the audience for not singing better. I'm sorry I disappointed you, Mr. Gowan, but I didn't really prepare to sing Rolling Stones going into the evening. I was kinda hoping we'd do Renegade some time, is that cool? Finally, in the middle of Renegade, they had this really odd ten minute break to introduce themselves. I do not begrudge an artist his right to be known, but in the middle of the penultimate song is too late for introductions. We know who you are by this point, now get back to Renegade, dang it! And Lawrence Gowan had to weird me out by following the band members around and taking polaroids of them with one of those old instant developing cameras. It was very strange.

That said, it was Styx's birthday and they had the original bassist come out. They gave him a purple birthday cape. In a related story, I am now taking every reasonable measure to acquire a birthday cape. Finally, they ended with the reason for the tour, the song "Can't Stop Rockin" by both bands. And I mean both bands. When all was said and done, there were six singers, nine guitarists, and a drummer.

All in all, I'd say it was a great evening.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

One last one for September

My aggressive blogging strategy was thrown into chaos by the untimely death of the Lappy. Yes, the Lappy tried to take the Pepsi challenge and couldn't taste the difference between Coke and a horrible, fiery death. A quick examination revealed the Lappy was dead as a door-nail. Mind! I don't mean to say that I know, of my own knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a door-nail. I might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade.

But I have trained a new replacement- the Lappy Mark IV, codenamed "The Quadinator".

I will post pictures and go into more detail eventually, but for the time being, I will field a much simpler question. Why would I call the Quadinator "The Quadinator" when it is significantly longer than "laptop" or "netbook"? And why did I call the old computer the Lappy? Well, to be honest, I called it the Lappy as homage to Strong Bad's computer. However, I've dubbed the new one the Quadinator because I want to be endeared to the little guy from the get go. Hopefully, that will contribute to getting this guy a lifespan longer than two years.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Blogging 101

Greetings, once again, to my old readers and to my new readers who are being forced to read this for class credits. While reading one of my dozens of updates, you probably asked yourself "How can I be a blogger as awesome as Hunter is?" Well, you can't. I had to steal the powers of a Norse god in order to blog this well (long story short, I had to use a diamond-tipped spear made in the forge of Hephaestus).

Hephaestus owed me a favor.

However, I do have several tips on how to create and maintain a blog.

Step 1: Register with Blogger/Google

This is a very important step but it will also be the one I spend the least time on, largely because the good people of Google have already created a comprehensive guide on registering and creating a blog. Instead I'd rather focus on what you should do once you have your blog, which there is no helpful corporate step-by-step guide for.

Step 2: Come up with a Distinct Name

This step is critical for your blog because it's what sticks with people. However, coming up with the right name is difficult. If you go with, say, "Professor Ludwig von Krappenstein's Fantabulous Learnotorium's Blogometric" or "PLvKFLB" for short, then no one will ever remember that name because there are medical textbooks less complicated than it (ironically, one of those textbooks was authored by Professor von Krappenstein). Likewise, you want to avoid something so generic that it will never stick out, such as "Steve's Blog". As you might imagine, I have far more experience with the former problem, rather than the latter. I would recommend whatever title you find clever and is less than six words long.

Step 3: Filling your Blog with Content

Once you've picked your blog's name and matching address, it's time to start posting to your blog. I believe it's important to maintain your blog. After all, nothing kills a blog faster than sporadic updates, half of which promise more updates. As for topics, the glorious part about blogs is you can talk about whatever you feel like at the moment, although Dr. Witherow's students probably have stricter guidelines than that.

Step 4: Pictures and Paragraphs

So now that you've picked your topic, there are two important tips for keeping your post readable: pictures and paragraphs. They both accomplish the same basic goal: keeping your blog readable. Specifically, it doesn't matter if you have one of the greatest ideas ever, no one will enjoy reading it if it's a wall of text. Paragraphs are okay at providing much-needed white space but pictures are the real aces of making blog posts interesting. Unfortunately, it can take a good deal of time (i.e. longer than it takes to hit the "Enter" key) to find the picture you want and to properly format it for the blog.

Well, that's all the advice I have for you today, readers. I hope it was both informing and not the most boring blog post I have ever made.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Weblog Origins: English Muffin Power Hour

One question that has dogged the English Muffin Power Hour since its founding was where on Earth I came up with the name for it. No, it wasn't a fever induced vision or because of my fondness for english muffins.

Delicious but Uninspiring

In order to tell the origins of the English Muffin Power Hour, I must first take you back to the mystical age of 2006, a time when texting was just beginning to take roots, Facebook was just another webpage, and people were wondering if Brett Favre was going to retire (the more things change, the more they stay the same). Bean (my unofficially adopted brother for those of you who don't have a dossier on me) and I had just seen a performance of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. My mom mentioned that Nashville Star was filmed on that stage. I declared that name to be uninspired and derivative of American Idol (which is fair, as the show is/was a derivative of American Idol). So Bean asks what I would name my television show. And the name just came to me: "The English Muffin Power Hour". I still plan on naming my hour-long tv show that if and when I get one.

Now, more specifically, the idea for blogging came to me at the start of 2008. Yes, I had a brief, disastrous foray into the blogosphere earlier. But that turned out just like the first English colony in the new world (which was Roanoke Island; it literally disappeared). So I decided that the English Muffin Power Hour would be my Jamestown (that is to say, a fortress settled on the first strip of useable land which turned out to be surrounded by swamps and everyone nearly starved the first winter). Two factors pushed me into it. The first was David Tyree's catch in the Super Bowl.

Still Awesome
The second factor was I decided to rise to a challenge and give up video games for Lent that year and I wanted something to put the extra time into. Given the infrequency of updates during that Lent, I think we can acquit video games on the charge of interfering with blogging.
One final note, I'm aware I kinda broke the chain of updates (and as Fleetwood Mac advises "We would never break the chain" because "chaaaaaaaaiiiin keeps us together/running in the shadows!"). However, I'd like to point out that I'm still posting waaaaaaay more often than I ever have before. So that's gotta be worth something. Also, I now occassionally include pictures.
P.S. Does anyone know a better way to post pictures on Blogger? Right now, the picture always goes to the top of the post. When I drag it to its appropriate place, it inevitably screws up the formatting.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Brett Favre: His Career Shambles On

I am disgusted by Brett Favre's return to the Vikings.

First, let me say that I don't begrudge Brett Favre the right to play in the NFL. He's one of the most determined players in the game and his toughness is truly impressive. Sadly, his decision making leaves much to be desired (and I don't just mean on-the-field, where he is the all time leader for interceptions).

I thought Brett Favre was wronged by the Packers back in 2008. They had a perogative to have Favre make up his mind about whether he would retire or not by the draft. But when he decided he wanted to play football again, the Packers should have either welcomed him back (which they didn't) or let him go (which they didn't). Now, Aaron Rodgers did a great job replacing Favre last year, so I understand why Green Bay was hesitant to welcome the prodigal son. But it was a real selfish move to keep him off the Vikings by including a specific clause to keep him from playing in Minnesota (where Favre wanted to). Favre got screwed over by the Packers so that Green Bay's 6-10 team could finish slightly closer to Minnesota (who won the division at 10-6).

Despite all that, I am disgusted by Brett's return to the Vikings.

Why? Because Favre milked this story for all it's worth. I suppose I have to begrudgingly respect his masterful Minnesota media manipulation (Go go, Gadget Alliteration!). For July, he made the story be "Brett Favre is eyeing a return" by very publicly working out and getting in football shape. Then, he delivers a deadline of July 31st (a Friday) to give his decision about whether or not he would return to the Vikings, maximizing the media hype by saturating an entire news week with "Will he or won't he?" chatter. Then, he backs down at the deadline and decides he's too old and tired to take another season of horrible beatings. So we had a full day of all the experts talking about what a great career Favre had (again... for at least the fourth time).

To take a brief break, at this point, I don't have too much a problem with what Favre's done. It could just be ESPN going wild with speculation. I thought the story was likely over. But then last night, a rumor was posted on the ESPN crawl that two anonymous Vikings expected Favre to return. I hated that so-called story because there was nothing substantive about it... UNTIL TODAY!

Yes, like Gandalf appearing on the ridge at the Battle of Helm's Deep, Brett Favre has returned to save Minnesota's season. And just in time to practice for the pre-season game this week! How ever did he time it so perfectly?

Now, I'm being a bit harsh, but I don't believe his story. Early reports laim he came out of retirement to help the Vikings once their starting QB (Tarvaris Jackson) got injured for three reasons.

  1. He's getting paid well. He's being paid between $10 and $12 million dollars this year. Most people on a mission of mercy are not so well-compensated. (Brett Favre- "I reluctantly accept this glamorous, higly paid mission of mercy.")
  2. He's as much help now as he was in July. Tarvaris Jackson was barely considered a starter, having edged out the new back-up, Sage Rosenfels (who is the best Jewish QB in football). Therefore, Sage "Johnny Jewhands" Rosenfels was not a significant downgrade in the QB department. It'd be more believable if it were a team like the Carolina Panthers, where the back-up QB is actually three monkeys in a suit.
  3. It's not even that big of an injury. I could see Jackson's injury being a bigger factor if, you know, he didn't play in the preseason game on Friday.

Brett Favre is a talented athlete, but he has too much of a flare for the dramatic these days that the media is far too willing to cater to.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The streak is alive!

All right, I just got done with a ridiculously busy day which saw me love home at 9 am and not get back until 9:30 PM. And tomorrow I help move my younger sister move into college. And by "help my younger sister" I mean "help Dad carry everything while she shows Mom her room". But I won't let that break the streak of blogginess that I've built up. So I'll forgo my normal pontification and just tell a few things I did at the internship today.

Today was easily the most fun/work I've had at my internship. I tracked down two leads, reviewed three stories from the wire, and fact checked two articles with city officials then handed the notes in for the 5 o clock news. Better yet, I was complimented on how thorough and detailed my notes were. I'm there to kick ass and ask compelling questions... and I'm all out of compelling questions!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Consecutive content!

I'm a very goal driven person. It's not that I dislike freeform, but I always do better when I have a clear, measurable way of monitoring my success. Even in games, I don't often go exploring unless I have a specific goal in mind (i.e. discover all the new places in this section of the map, find the super laser that makes this ten times easier, find the generic hidden items, etc.). For a non-video game example, I decided that having 20 pictures of myself on Facebook after 3 years of college was unacceptable. So I've been on a quest to get to 100 photos before the start of MTSU's school year. And it's gone very well. For those who don't facebook stalk me, you'll see I have a respectable 81 photos tagged of me now (of course, it helps that I have a new, awesome digital camera). However, the point is that I'm disappointed with the English Muffin Power Hour.

Don't get me wrong, I've made some good content updates and it's been much better visited and updated than my first foray into the blogosphere. But I've made less than a dozen posts this year and it's August (Tempus Fugit). So I'm going to write a post every day until I reach last year's total of 42. I can't gaurantee that every update will be a 500 word opus of hilarious insights that you're used to. But done is better than perfect. What's more, I promise that none of the updates will be "Today's update is that I promise to update the blog tomorrow." With that in mind, let's jump into today's update: Tropico.

Holy crap! I'm actually including pictures of what I'm talking about!

I've already talked a little bit about Tropico. It's a game I saw a friend play in 6th grade and then promptly never thought of it until a few weeks ago. I read a headline that said there was a Tropico 3 coming out this fall (it was a very slow news day) and nostalgic memories of the game I saw for maybe 10 minutes came rushing back (did I ever mention I have a very weird memory? I can remember ten minutes of a game from ten years ago but not where I left my allergy medicine.). And then I stumbled on "Tropico Reloaded" on Steam the other day. Before I go on, Steam is a digital distribution store for PC games. Instead of buying a hard copy of a game at a store, you pay for the download off Steam and can usually save a lot of money (because unlike game stores, Steam actually has sales). But I digress. The point is I saw that Tropico, its bland expansion pack, and forgettable sequel were available for a paltry $15. So I decided to try my hand at being a Carribean overlord.

Behold! Hunteria in all its randomly generated glory!

Let's start with what I like about the game. For starters, it has a great character creator. For starters, the game is a civilization/management type game, so any sort of character customization is great. But the real gem is that you get to pick your dictator's background, such as Left-Wing Author (I always knew Al Franken wanted to rule Cuba), General (I am a modern major general), Fortunate Son (It ain't me! It ain't me! I ain't no senator's son!) and several others. And then you pick your rise to power, which ranges from lame democratic process to awesome violent rebellion/military coup. And after that you pick two virtues and two vices for your character. So it takes what's normally a faceless, soulless role and makes it into a very personal one.

Unfortunately, that also leads me to the first major flaw. Every trait you pick influences the stats your dictator has. This game is nothing if not stat crazy. Unfortunately, the stats aren't particularly well-balanced. So rather than design a character that sounds interesting, it's better to design one that can win the game easily.

Back to the positives, Tropico's motto is "You Rule" because of the absurd levels of control the game gives you over your island. You can make it a tourists' paradise, a Marxist wonderland, or a soulless industrial powerhouse. Unfortunately, this absurd level of power is the game's big weakness. It's full tag should read "You Rule... Because The People Will Starve If You Don't Tell Them Exactly What To Do".

The game seems to make place in a bizzarre world of micromanagement where you can only control the least interesting parts of the world. All buildings on the island are government owned and operated, even if you're a capitalist. That means it's up to you to set wages and rent and build houses and businesses. But here's the kicker: you don't control where people work or what they do when they work. This wouldn't be a problem if the AI wasn't made of Liquid Stupid. I suffered far too many economic collapses because dockworkers wouldn't take goods from one end of the pier to another. I later found out that this was because my workers were exhausting themselves moving from their homes to their work. But there's nothing I can do about that. If I build more homes, I can't control who moves in there and I can't do much to make the commute easier (I can build dirt roads for the workers to ignore). And of course, an absurdly huge part of the game is moving goods from where they're grown to where they're manufactured to where they're sold. But of course that requires legions of teamsters whose primary goal is to tick me off by exhausting themselves walking and only carrying one thing in a month of work.

In fairness, the game is good with its realism in regard to fatigue and the average price for workers going up over time. Unfortunately, the goods you sell don't go up at nearly the same rate, so it inevitably leads to a recession. Also, it's impossible to tax the population so you can't get the extra income back.

In summary, Tropico was a cool idea with simply terrible execution.

Monday, August 10, 2009

I'm actually going to write something!

In the past 24 hours, I have updated two different blogs, neither of which are my own. So while I'm on a blogging hot streak, I figure I'll actually stop neglecting good old English Muffin Power Hour.

What I Am Doing Now

Today, I began my internship at WKRN, channel 2 news in Nashville. In fact, I'm at the internship right now. In retrospect, it is perhaps a poor decision to update my blog at work, but I'll let history be the judge of that. So far, it's been very exciting even though I haven't left the newsroom. I already flipped through Murfreesboro police reports trying to find hi-larious hijinks, which included Grand Theft Go-Cart. So far, I've knocked out 4 hours. That means only 225 left to go!

I've also been working on calculus in an effort to make up for avoiding math like the plague. Again, it is perhaps a poor decision to major in Economics when I haven't taken a math class seriously since 10th grade. Funny story, I actually got through Algebra-Trig without any Trig. It was the year I switched from Charlottesville Schools to Murfreesboro Schools. In Charlottesville, they do Algebra first semester and, in Murfreesboro, they do Algebra second semester. And while I was definitely enrolled in AP Stats, I can't honestly say I took it. I was definitely in the classroom but I was in AP Playing-Hearts-with-Doug-and-Sam.

But I digress. The Calculus CLEP is this Friday and I've been hitting the review extra hard. The problem with the AP Calc book is that the review problems are fairly inconsistent in their difficulties as you work through a chapter. For instance, Problem 1 may ask you to integrate the sine of the cosine of X divided by the cosine of the sine of X. Problem 2 would then ask for you to determine the velocity of a laden swallow. Problem 3 would be written in an ancient language so indecipherable that if I were to utter a single word of it, it would cause me to go utterly mad. Then problem 4 asks you to integrate 2X. Well thanks, AP Calc Book, I really needed to review something that unambiguously easy after you just forced me through a gauntlet of mind-rending numbers, the horrors of which I may never recover.

What I've Been Doing
I've been spending a lot of time with 3 PC games I picked up cheap- Company of Heroes, Tropico, and Plants vs. Zombies. Company of Heroes is a World War 2 real-time strategy game that caters to my love of history and blowing the ever-loving crud out of my enemies. I really like the tanks in Company of Heroes. Usually in RTS, tanks are just another unit for your gigantic legion of terror. In Company of Heroes, the tanks are like a T-Rex (like in Saving Private Ryan). They barrel through barbed wire and brick walls like a hot knife through butter and generally make me feel mad with power.

The fact I like Plants vs Zombies should surprise no one. First, I have a well-documented obsession with the zombie apocalypse. Second, the game is made by PopCap, who made the digital cocaine known as Peggle. The only bad thing about Plants vs Zombies is it was supposed to be called Lawn of the Dead, but there were copyright issues with the name. It has simple, but clever gameplay. You set up a garden of plants to shoot zombies as the zombies try to take over your yard. Some plants shoot, some chomp, some stab, some explode. Plus the zombies are hilarious. You fight Thriller zombies, for crying out loud! I don't need to say anything else.

Tropico is a different story. I was first introduced to Tropico in 1999, by my Jewish friend, Tally McBagel Cohen. Tropico lets you be a circa 1950 dictator of a Carribean Island. But that's another blog post.

Now that I'm back in the bloggy groove, hopefully I can keep building momentum and actually get a respectable post count going.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Week's Schedule

Hello, my rapidly dwindling and oft-neglected fan base. You're probably wondering why I went three months without updating my blog. The short answer is I was busy. The long answer is I spent three months kickboxing bears in the brutal Australian outback. The clever reader will note that there are no bears in the Australian outback. However, so intense was my training that they had to import bears to a safe location, far away from other bears, so the entire bear family might be safe. That's how brutal my training was. However, I've decided to outline my next week of topics. That's right, I'm going to be updating my blog daily for the next week! It's my reward to you, my invisible fan base, for not murdering me in my sleep for not updating.

Sunday: Kickboxing Bears in Australia (check!)
Monday: NBA Draft Shenanigans
Tuesday: My Romance and Horrible Break-up with Spore
Wednesday: My Romance and Horrible Break-up with XKCD
Thursday: Greatest Day of the Year
Friday: My Reconciliation with the iPod
Saturday: Manliest Show/Website EVER

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Unintended Consequences

Well, if you are like the majority of America, you are afflicted with March Madness right now. Unfortunately, the madness this March has been rather tame. Indeed, it's more like March Eccentricity or possibly March Unusual Behavior. Perhaps a psychologist would more accurately be able to describe the precise nature of March's mental lucidity. But I digress. My point is it's not March Madness without upsets. Otherwise, the tournament becomes incredibly predictable and loses a lot of its charm.

Over the past two years, that is precisely what happened. Last year, in defiance of all conventional wisdom, all four number 1 seeds met in the Final Four. This year, all four number 1 seeds have a good chance of repeating that feat (with all four playing for a spot in the Final Four). And the lowest (or is it highest?) seeded of their opponents this round is a 3 seed. With the exception of a few flukes in the first round, there have been no genuine surprises this year. But what has caused the death of the Cinderella in March?

I believe that it is because of the NBA instituting it's 1 year of college ball policy. According to ESPN Radio, the number one thing college football recruits consider is the recent success of the program. I suspect the thought process for basketball recruits can't be much different. Therefore, with waves of top notch high school players being forced to go into college ball to develop their talents, the beneficiaries would be high profile, successful schools. After all, if your plan is to only stay a short while to hype up your draft status, then you want to play on the best team with the most national recognition. Whereas a few years ago, before the rule, a school like George Mason could make an improbable run to the postseason. Now, it's nothing but the powerhouse university's like UConn and UNC.

The irony is that the 1 year of college ball rule has dramatically improved the quality of draft picks and the entertainment level of college basketball's regular season. But there are always unintended consequences to every decision.

Friday, March 27, 2009

What I've Been Up To

Hello again. It's been a very fast March. Over the past year, I've been incredibly busy filming news stories for my last few Broadcast Journalism courses. Uploading the videos has been a tedious process because I can only upload my videos on a Mac computer, which I only have access to on campus. But today, while working on a project, I decided to upload a few of my stories.

Right now, it's a very incomplete portfolio. I uploaded my first package ever (the technical term for the stories I make), and then two of my favorite packages from this.

Hurray for the internet!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Every time I think I'm out, they drag me back in

Well, it's been a busy and exciting month. Unfortunately, the busyness and excitement continue into this update so I'll have to be brief. As has been previously established by anyone who's spent 15 minutes with me, I am addicted to Rock Band. It provides people who failed 6th grade band (who may or may not be writing this) with the delusion that they actually have musical talent akin to the most successful bands (and Freezepop. Oooooo, I burned them good). And to capitalize on the fact, they've released 3 or more additional songs for the game every week since it came out. This is an ingenious system because, eventually, a song the player likes will come out.

However, there's a crippling problem when it comes to paying for the songs. It's not that the songs are expensive (unless you think $2 is espensive these days), but the fact that they only accept Bizarro Internet Currency or "Microsoft Points". Now, I like to believe I understand how pretend currency works. That's what all those hours bonking alligators on the head at Chuck E. Cheese's was about (convert Dollars into Quarters into Tokens into Tickets into Novelty Glasses with the Giant Nose and Mustache). But "Microsoft Points" is easily the most confusing. To begin with, rather than pick an easy number, the conversion rate of points to dollars 80 to 1. It's inconvenient to realize that 1600 points really costs $20, but you can handle it. But then there's the issue of how's its sold.

Most basic imaginary systems of currency lets you deal in units of 1 and 5, because you can easily reach most numbers that way. But not with Bizarro Internet Currency (BIC). It's sold both at stores and over the internet, for consumer convenience. Logically, one might expect that they'd be sold in similar quanities. After all, it's essentially a gift card. It shouldn't matter where you purchase it and you should be able to control how much you can purchase. But that's not the case. In stores, you can buy either $20 or $50 worth of BIC. It's a little extreme. But you figure there might be some logistics issues with gift cards being sold by a third party vendor that would limit the variety. So, certainly, buying BIC must be a much simpler process online.

Ironically enough, this is the most complex part. See, with $20 and $50 coming in at 1600 and 4000 BIC respectively, you instinctively can tell there's an unusual and inconvenient exchange rate. But online, they intentionally mislead you. They sell BIC in units of 500, 1000, 1500, and 2000 points. But that totals to multiples of $6.25. And since the companies who sell their digital goods base their prices off of reality, instead of Microsoft's Insan-o-bux, you almost always have to pay more than what the product sells for. Using the Rock Band example, getting anywhere from one to three songs would require the exact initial cost. And even if you found three songs you wanted, you'd still have a meaningless quarter left on your account that was wasted.

Anyways, the point of those 500 or so words of introduction was I had finally broken free of the system of overpaying and repression. With the latest batch of songs, I had whittled my BIC account down to 10 points. Sure, it's not completely empty, but I'm willing to pay 16 cents extra for all the stuff I got. It finally seemed like I would be free. But then this happened. They actually listened to me! At the worst conceivable time ever, no less.

Oh, the gouging never ends! It goes on, and on, and on and on!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Hunter in Glorious Technicolor

Over the past week, I've been told six times that that they saw me on TV. Since it's been a few weeks since my last caper, I know it couldn't have been Cops. So I looked up MTTV's schedule and, sure enough, my game show is now airing.

Did I mention that earlier? I filmed a game show last semester. It was eight episodes long and I was the host. It was an insane quiz show, like Family Feud but without any standards. The questions are an interesting blend of obvious questions ("Who wanted to see the money in Jerry Maguire?"), impossible ("What in God's name is a legume?"), and well written ("What is the inspiration for the names Calvin and Hobbes?").

The answers are Tom Cruise, a peanut, and Enlightenment era philosophers. But I digress.

If you want to see arguably the greatest hosting of a game show ever (in addition to my bizarre interpretation of what constitutes a dance), then you should tune in to MTTV (Channel 10 in the Rutherford county region) Tuesdays and Thursdays and Saturdays at 8:00 PM Central Time and Friday at 6:30 PM. There are also times at 1:30 AM on Tuesday (Monday night), Thursday (Wednesday Night) and Saturday (Friday). Just in case you watch more traditional networks for entertainment (Face Off > The Office, just consider the number of Hunters employed by both. There's an undeniable advantage to Face Off. But I digress with a digression. Double points! Yeah, I have a points system for every time I digress. I haven't written a post until I've gotten at least 50 digression points. Wow, this is a digression within a digression within a digression. That's gotta be at least septuple points.)

Anyways, the point of that entire paragraph is that, evidently, septuple is a real word. Score one for Latin roots!

Moving on, if you happen to be in the Murfreesboro region and don't have plans on Wednesday night, good news! You have plans now. At 9 PM, I will be giving a lecture in the Corlew Hall lobby about how to survive the Zombie Apocalypse. Then we will watch Shaun of the Dead. Finally, all those hours of Dead Rising and Left 4 Dead pay off! Also, I can promise you that the following phrase will be uttered "proletariat zombie". Come by Corlew and find out what possible context there could be!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

No Broad Unifying Theme

No, today you get two small vaguely related themes largely inspired by Facebook chats I've had today.

First and foremost, I have big plans for tomorrow. I can't divulge the precise nature of these plans because that would be unlucky (also, I suspect Matt is a saboteur). However, for good luck, I've devised the following ritual:

  • Open an umbrella indoors while standing beneath a ladder.
  • Lob a black cat into a mirror, shattering it.
  • Have the mirror shards knock over a bottle of salt.
Madness? THIS. IS. HUNTER!

It's my broader strategy known only as the Three Stooges Effect. I believe that there are limited avenues for bad luck, like a doorway to a building. Most people with bad luck invoke it slowly and the bad luck can enter their doorway in a neat and orderly fashion. But by invoking as much bad luck as possible, all of the bad luck gets stuck as they try to enter the door at the same time. Thus, no bad luck at all.

Now, when President Obama is constantly mentioning how this is the "worst financial crisis since the Great Depression", I am easily tempted to mock him. After all, he was supposed to be all about the politics of "hope". But then I thought about the real politics of fear. Here is a sample:
This is the worst financial crisis in history. Every day when I wake up, I consider myself fortunate to find the masses are not hunting each other down in a cannibalistic orgy of poverty.

Aside from both topics occurring in facebook chat, I'm afraid I have no unifying conclusion.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Super Bowl, Steroids, and Sass

First of all, I got 3 out of 5 Super Bowl predictions right. That's 60 percent, a simply horrible number if I were taking a test. So now you know why I didn't sign up for Super Bowl Predictions 2030. That and the course syllabus was really thin after the first few weeks.

Next, let me add GO STEELERS!!!! WORLD CHAMPIONS!!!!! It is fitting that Santonio Holmes won the Super Bowl MVP, because he never did anything for the Hunterian Velociraptors.

Yeah, that's right. Hunteria has a fantasy football team. Better yet, Hunteria has a CHAMPIONSHIP FOOTBALL TEAM. A championship I won back in December and am only now mentioning on my blog, but a championship nonetheless. I suppose there's a reason why I should update more often. The championship was won by me through sheer determination and yelling at the tv during the game. In the title game, I was squared off against my good friend Sam, who is equally overzealous. It came down to the last play of the last game of the Fantasy Football season. I'll spare my literally dozens of readers the intricacies of Fantasy Football, but if the Green Bay kicker made a field goal as time expired, I would lose the championship. but the Chicago Bears, motivated by my "wanting-it-more", nobly swatted the ball down and won me the coveted Tune Cup. As Bean (who is supposed to update this blog for me to keep you entertained, but he lost his password and never bothered with the simple password recovery system) can confirm, my cheers of "YES! YES!" could be heard across the neighborhood.

But I digress. I really, horribly digress.

The Super Bowl was a great game. I have never been happier to have been wrong. Great game from start to finish. If it weren't for an incredible run back by James Harrison at the end of the First Half, the Cardinals would have won that game. As it is, I will reluctantly celebrate my Steelers winning anyways. STEELERS!

The ads were very disappointing. The only one that sticks with me is the one second High Life commercial, which speaks poorly of the other commercials quality. The new animated movie "Monster and Aliens" looks like it'll be a dozen different kinds of bad, with its sole redeeming quality being that Stephen Colbert voices the President.

In surprisingly unsurprising news, Alex Rodriguez admitted to using steroids. I say unsurprising because most of the big sluggers from 1997-2003 were on steroids (except Sammy Sosa, he was on steroids AND corked his bat). I say surprising because A-Rod actually admitted to the report. I guess every other possible excuse has been given before and failed in the court of public opinion. From a business standpoint, it was worth it. Sure, he may have disgraced the game and ruined his integrity, but he got over $550 million guaranteed in contracts, plus countless (read: I don't have time to look it up) money from endorsements by being "the best player in baseball". From a legacy standpoint, I think A-Rod is no longer a great player. He's always been a choking dog in big games (he'll be 5-5 with 6 RBIs when you're winning 12-2, but he'll be 0-5 when you're down 2-1 or in the playoffs). And now his phenomenal success in non-clutch games is tainted by steroids. About the only defense for him is "He wasn't the only one on steroids, but he's the only one to reach 500 HRs the fastest". That only enhances the disappointment. He could've been great without cheating.

On lighter subjects, I am going to wholeheartedly recommend Dinosaur Comics. It's a comic that is way too infeasible to be printed in any sort of newspaper, so it finds refuge in the Internet Badlands, where there is no concept of quality control. The gimmick to this comic is that the "art" never changes. Every comic is the same clip art of a T-Rex talking to a Dromicieomimus and a Utahraptor. But what really shines is the writing and the frequency of the comic. The comic updates Monday through Friday, as opposed to most internet comics which only update 3 times a week (or this blog, which updates at increasingly random intervals). Occasionally, the comic will be too wordy and confusing for its own good. But the bright side is you can skip it with impunity and go on to funnier comics. Also, how can you not love a comic where the main character is a sassy Tyrannosaurus?

Speaking of funnier, I feel that I'm not in a particularly funny mood, so I will leave you with my thoughts and digressions which vaguely resemble thought.

P.S. Leave comments, they're the lifeblood of the blogging industry.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Super Sunday

It's hard to believe I started this blog over a year ago. It's even harder to believe that I still have readers with my erratic updates.

Anyways, a few of my thoughts on the Super Bowl

  1. It won't live up to expectations. It's supposed to be an epic battle of the Unstoppable Force vs the Immovable Object. Except that whenever the Unstoppable Force meets the Immovable Object, one will buckle early and be unable to adapt. Then the route ensues.
  2. I think that the commercials will have 4/5 stars this year. I haven't read anything about them. Just call it a hunch.
  3. I think Whisenhunt (the Cardinals' Coach) is eleven different kinds of awesome. It's a shame that the Steelers franchise is a dozen different kinds of awesome. I predict the Steelers win.
  4. For the first time in about five years, there is no villain in this Super Bowl. Last year, we had the Nefarious Patriots. Before that, we had the Vile Bears. But even if my beloved Steelers don't triumph, it'll be cool to see the Arizona Cardinals no longer be synonymous with "Horrible Failure".
  5. Even though I am scheduled to work at the Tutoring Center, I'll be in the lobby watching the game.
Enjoy the game!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Why do I hate Bloggy so?

I'm serious, I think I may secretly hate the English Muffin Power Hour. Why else would I treat it nice for a few months, neglect it for a few months, treat it nice, then neglect it again? That is the foundation for an abusive relationship right there.

But my New Year's resolution is to give Bloggy the respect he deserves! To be fair, he's already WAY more respected than The One Blog to Rule Them All (which died an unceremonious death and was forgotten by most). So let's get caught up on what I've been doing lately.

Latest TV Series: Rome
I got this series as a Christmas gift and so far its been a mixed hat. It's good enough to keep me watching but there are a bit too many characters with too confusing names for my taste (and this is coming from a four year Latin Student). Honestly, I had to look up to see who Sybylia was because they kept insisting on shoehorning her into the plot. Turns out she was Brutus's mom. I would've preferred she either be called Mrs. Brutus or have a lower third which identifies her as Mrs. Brutus. Of course, since I am a guy, there is a legit chance that I just filtered out the scene where they introduce her by name (tragically, that is a problem for me in real life too. Just ask Doug and Sam how they got their nicknames. In fact, it took me about 3 months to learn my best friend's first name. But I digress.)

Wow, I actually had to stop myself from digressing in the parentheses. And those are basic digression sanctuaries. I really DO need to update this place more often.

Anyways, back on point, it didn't take me nearly as long to figure out which soldiers were which. that could be a function of either:

A. My Y chromosome filtering out the non-awesome, non-sword fighting parts.
B. The fact that Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo command as much, if not more, screen time as Julius Caesar, Pompey Magnus, and Marc Antony combined.

My main criticism of the series is that its an HBO series. Which means none of the debauched acts Romans were infamous for are off limits. And they do their darndest to include all the debauched acts they can. There is no situation where I enjoy watching anyone get bathed in cow blood during one of their pagan rituals.

Latest Video Game: Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People and Far Cry 2

One of my biggest discoveries over the past few months (and indeed one of the biggest distractions from me updating this blog) has been Homestar Runner. I had heard and seen good things about it since 9th grade, but I never really bothered with the site until last fall. To say I loved it would be an understatement. Not only did I watch most of the cartoons and all 200 Strong Bad E-Mails in chronological order, but I also began assigning the Teen Girl Squad stereotypes to the many sassy ladies I know. If you haven't seen it yet (somehow), then I strongly advise it.

But I digress.

Does it count as a digression if I never was on topic to begin with?

Enough digressing! I jumped on the bandwagon at the right time, because over the fall they released the first full scale game, Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People, a "point and click em up adventure" game, in Strong Bad's words.

The game itself is okay. You click on things. Sometimes you click on things that need you to click on other things. Occasionally, you click things on other things and then introduce an entirely third thing to the clicking.

But the writing is brilliant. For starters, they let you write your own episode of "Teen Girl Squad" in the first two episodes. Second, the game always involves Strong Bad so the dialogue is always at the Strong Badian standard of excellence.

However, there is too much of a good thing. The game was broken into five monthly episodes which were released from August to September. By around the halfway point of the fourth episode I was starting to get tired of hearing Strong Bad and took a break from it (in terms of days and weeks not playing the game, even I'm not crazy enough to attempt to play through multiple games in one sitting).

As you might expect, there is no violence in Strong Bad. Sure, there is some Three Stooges style violence and the entire point of Teen Girl Squad is random acts of violence. But in order to keep things balanced I've been playing a bit of Far Cry 2.

Now, as I begin this, I realize I am rapidly approaching 800 words. In fact, I just jolted past the threshold around the adverb "rapidly". Usually, that means that the few of you who have survived long enough to get this far are contemplating the best way to tell me to shut up. So I will leave my exploits in Far Cry 2 for another day.

But I will say this. It is EXTREMELY violent. I can say without exaggeration that everyone in its vaguely described war wants you dead and they will stop at nothing to kill you. Actually, they only stop at towns, of which there are four in a 50 square kilometer area. Although calling them towns is a bit lenient. Two towns consist of a bar where your mercenary "friends" hang out next to a gun shop. The other two are a series of buildings where other heavily armed mercenaries mull around their faction headquarters, with maybe a church or a doctor's office in the town square, so the town's one civilian will have a nice place to stay. Of course, I also use the term "factions" leniently. First of all, each faction only has vague goals to advance their vague war but both are confident the only way to achieve vagueness is to mercilessly, yet subtlely, crush the guy who lives down the street from them. I've seen them fight each other all of twice. Whereas when faced by Hunter McMaincharacter, they all want me dead and will go out of their way to try and kill me. And the Jets and the Sharks had a more clearly defined uniform system than these factions.

The most telling stat is that in nineteen in-game days, my character has fired nearly 19,000 rounds (exact number: 18,553).

And yet I somehow have a lot of fun in this game.

Wow, I managed another 300 words after I said I would try to wrap it up.

Now, more than ever before, I digress.

I'll save the rest of my Far Cry 2 thoughts along with the first two weeks of school for later.