october 2005

I missed the Sunday before last's run to Molten Core to go to my grandfather's 9th Infantry reunion banquet, but my group took down Domo for the first time in my absence, on their third attempt of the afternoon. This past Friday we cleared through Golemagg, and were again able to take down Domo on this past Sunday after only a few attempts. I think we're getting pretty close to the point where we're going to be able to clear through Domo on Friday night and leave Sundays open for Ragnaros (although we're likely going to spend the next couple of weeks farming for fire resist gear, because without that, Rag is pretty much impossible). We're not really in competition with other groups on our server, but I take no small amount of pride in noting that we're learning this instance faster than any group before us, and we're doing it as a hodgepodge collection of small guilds that limit their time in MC to only two runs a week (most of the other groups in MC, and all of the ones that are level with or ahead of us, are hardcore raiding guilds that go several nights a week).

I won my main baseball league this year, making me the first champ to repeat in the four-year history of the league. I had a really lucky draft and led pretty much all year without having to do anything but rotate my pitchers in and out, although my brother did give me a run for my money towards the end. I pulled away in the last week, however, and finished with a solid 84 points (out of a maximum of 96), a good 12 points ahead of the second place team.

It's a shame, then, that I didn't really care that much this season. It was all so easy from the beginning, I never really got into it—I actually got excited when my brother started to catch up to me, because I had to start fiddling with my team and repairing some problems in the lineup. Oh well. You almost never have that kind of luck, especially two years in a row, so I expect next year I'll be fighting my way up from the middle of the pack like normal.

In what turned out to be a very busy weekend, Julie and I still found time on Sunday morning to go to an early showing of Serenity, the Joss Whedon movie based on his phenomenal tv series Firefly. I loved it—it's fairly faithful to the series, and wraps up the big mystery introduced in the series, one that probably would have taken a couple of seasons to unravel if Fox had prematurely axed it (although all of the actors are a little prettier in the movie version than they were on the show). But I'm not sure how it would seem to someone who isn't already familiar with the show and already in love with the characters, the sense of humor, and the backstory. Nevertheless, I'm going to recommend that you see it and also watch the series (it's available on DVD, the strong sales of which are what prompted the studio to fund a big screen version), because they're both amazing. In my dream world, this movie would do huge numbers, enough to not only guaratee sequels, but also reignite interest from some network or another in bringing the tv show back. I'm pretty sure that won't happen, but I have to hang onto some thread of hope that I'll get to spend more time with these characters.

We're leaving tonight to go down to my dad's house in North Carolina, so no posts tomorrow. The purpose of our visit is to attend his retirement party, which is a little weird to think about—he doesn't seem that old to me, and he certainly hasn't lost his enthusiasm for work; for the past four years, in addition to his normal workload at the hospital, he's been spending his nights and weekends taking classes at an online law school based in California, which culminated with him taking the bar this past July (he hasn't found out the results yet, although it shouldn't be too long now). He doesn't actually want to practice the law, he just wants to use his medical expertise to be a consultant on legal cases involving medical issues, and he figured that having a law degree would make him more appealing to firms looking at his consulting services.

Anyway. It's going to be a short trip, but hopefully a fun one—I haven't been home in a couple of years and a new dog has joined in the household in the meantime. Plus, I'm hoping to get a bunch of good night photos while I'm visiting—pray for clear skies for me.

Damn it Braves. Every year you find a new and more excruciating way to break my heart.

The last week has been really, really long. I've been dogged by this flu bug that I can't seem to shake, and although I feel a lot better than I did a couple of days ago, I still don't feel well. Being ill is bad enough, but I'm growing ever more weary from not feeling like myself.

Ugh. Just ugh.

Random factoid that just popped into my head instead of actual content: today is X-Files creator Chris Carter's birthday, which is where he came up with the name of his production company, Ten Thirteen Productions.

Vacation day today. Nothing in particular planned, I just really need a stress-free day after the last few weeks.

Today is the fifth anniversary of this site, which seems too short; it feels like I've been doing this forever. Every year about this time, I look back at where I was a year ago, and every year I think to myself, "Man, this site was a lot more interesting and my writing was a lot better back then." Which either means that my stuff looks better to me after some time has passed and I can view it more objectively, or the quality of my output has been on a steady decline since my first year of existence.

I feel like I'm missing focus, not just here but in other parts of my life. Work isn't as interesting as it used to be, I haven't been as engaged in school, I've spent less time than I wish I had with good friends or with people who I'd like to become good friends with, etc. Even my photography, which used to be a fun diversion, has become more of an obligation than I'd like, and for no reason that I can put my finger on. I can't point to anything in particular that's making me feel this way, but I've just been lacking a creative spark in most parts of my life; I feel like I need a sabbatical, a break from everything—writing, work, school, etc. I'm not saying I want to abandon these things or anything like that, I think I'd just be really happy if I could turn everything off for a couple of months and come back totally reset and ready to look at things from a fresh perspective.

But that's not going to happen, and I've been through these dry spells before, so I'm sure it will pass and I'll rediscover what it was I loved about these things in the first place. But in the meantime, I'm not going anywhere; one of my main goals with this site is to force myself to write something every day for fear that if I don't keep on a regular schedule I'll stop writing altogether, which I'm afraid would be the first step down a long path of having all my creative impulses float off into the ether. So happy birthday, Brain Coral, and thanks for the last five years.

Yesterday was my first normal day at work in about three weeks. It was nice. Still have a ton to do, but it feels manageable now after going in and having a somewhat typical day.

It is too freaking hot. Seriously, it's going to get into the mid-70s today. It's the MIDDLE OF OCTOBER, for pete's sake. Can we please get some fall weather going here sometime soon?

Digging deep into the archives for my photos these days. I just haven't had the time or the inspiration to get out there and collect some fresh ones. I'm pretty sure I'll have a ton from my Chicago trip that should carry me for a month or two, but until then, I honestly don't know where the material is going to come from.

I desperately need:
  • A haircut
  • A new pair of shoes
  • A new razor

So now you know what I'll be doing with my Saturday.

Okay. So instead of running my errands on Saturday, I ended up spending much of the day getting my fire resist up for the final boss fight in Molten Core, Ragnaros, who we've been tackling on Sunday for the past couple of weeks. Since the barber closes at 3 on Saturday and isn't open on Sunday, the haircut is out until next weekend, but I did manage to accomplish my other two goals: a new razor and a new pair of shoes.

The razor was relatively easy. I already knew which one I wanted, so on the way to get groceries we stopped at Wal-Mart so I could run in and pick one up. Of course, the shelf where they were supposed to be was empty, and I was considering buying the next model down until I noticed a few extras sitting on top of the shelves, waiting to be restocked. The one closest to the edge was one of the models that was already on the shelf, but after I got that one down, the model I wanted was sitting right behind it. I reached for it and didn't quite get it, and I ended up knocking a bunch of stuff over onto the other side of the aisle and pushing my razor farther away from me. Fortunately, some other nearby shoppers were having trouble reaching items they wanted high shelves, and one of them had grabbed a store stepladder and left it conveniently at the end of our aisle. Problem solved.

The shoes were a different matter. I was planning to stop by the Columbia mall after work today to look for some, since we had church on Sunday morning and our weekly Molten Core follow-up run is scheduled for midday Sunday, leaving me little time for shopping, but we didn't quite make it to church: on the way there, I got stopped for speeding (my first ticket in like 10 years) and that delayed us enough so that we would have been too late to church to feel comfortable walking in (rule of thumb: if you're getting there after the sermon has started, it's best just to bag it and come back next week).

So now we had a spare couple of hours, which we used to pick up our last couple of months worth of comic books, purchase several CDs, and find me a new pair of shoes. I have very few demands when it comes to shoes, but it's always fiendishly difficult for me to find what I want. All I need is dark brown leather with black soles, a nice thick tread, and a comfortable fit. I also want them to be waterproof and to generally hold up to everyday punishment without needing any special care, which is why I have worn nothing but Timberland for the last decade. In fact, all I wanted this time was the exact same Timberland model I got a year and a half ago: very nice fit, good dark brown leather, and a supportive tread pattern that takes a long time to wear down.

After looking at several stores, though, I was beginning to lose hope. Then we found a pair of Timberlands that looked right on top but didn't have the tread I wanted, and another pair that had the right tread but wasn't in quite the right color (too red). But there was a pair of Dockers shoes that were just right, plus they were waterproof, and although I was extremely reluctant to switch brands, I really wanted a new pair of shoes and it was clear that I wasn't going to find the Timberlands I wanted. So now I guess I'm wearing another brand for at least a year, which feels really weird. I'm going to look for Timberlands again next time I need a new pair of shoes, but I'm not going to look as hard as I did this time, especially if Dockers makes this same style readily available (assuming that they hold up the way I'm expecting them to).

In the end, I got two out of my three chores done for the weekend, but at the cost of a speeding ticket. I'm not so much worried about the fine as I am possible points on my license (I was going more than 10 miles over the speed limit according to the cop), which will likely lead to an extended fine in the form of higher insurance rates. So: anyone know anything about Maryland traffic laws enough to give me any insight to taking care of this little problem without getting any points? How about you, dad? Would the newly christened JD like to chime in with some thoughts?

I got lots of advice on the ticket thing, but I'm too scattered to recap it all now. The short version: I'm pretty much screwed, but my best bet is probably to go to court and hope for a nice judge who will give me Probation Before Judgment, which means that if I don't get another ticket for two years, I'll be considered not guilty and I won't have to pay a fine or get any points on my license.

Today is the second day of a two-day conference we're hosting to talk with other schools and with the software developers for our database system, which has been an on-going nightmare at work since we started our implementation three years ago. It's fairly productive, and I feel like we're finally getting through to the development team about the shortcomings of their product, but man, even when these things are worthwhile, they are exhausting and generally boring as hell. I guess the free meals count for something, though.

Man, it sure feels like it should be Friday by now. Are you sure it's not Friday yet? Really?


Happy Fitzmas everyone! I'm wishing for some nice juicy indictments under the tree by the end of the day. Some of the more optimistic anti-Bushies are hoping for an indictment of Cheney himself, but that's more than a little unrealistic. Me, I'll be happy if Rove and/or Libby get nailed. I just hope this thing doesn't peter out after so much buildup.

We still haven't been able to take down Ragnaros, but the rest of Molten Core is definitely on farm status now. This week, faced with an unusually high number of absences and a lack of any real improvement in our DPS and fire resist gear, we decided to cut out of MC early and head to Onyxia, who we tried a few weeks ago without success. Not this week though: with our improved gear and tactics, we took her down on the third try, which means we have yet another farmable source for our high-end gear. I was hoping that we would take Ragnaros before I had to take a week off for a business trip, but if that's going to happen, it's got to happen next week. Hopefully everyone will work on their gear this week and we can go in there ready to conquer the last obstacle remaining in that instance.
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