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It's been a long time since I've been to a metal concert. So today the stars aligned and I realized I had Tuesday off, which just so happens to be when The Mayhem Festival will be in town. While attending means I'll have to sit through a Marilyn Manson set, it also means I get to see some great acts like Slayer, Cannibal Corpse and Behemoth.

This will also be Mono's first metal concert. He doesn't really listen to the type of music that will be playing there so this will be an interesting experience.
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My Macbook, which I never fully christened with a name, is officially dead. The battery no longer holds a charge at all, and the backlight is doing some major flickering and will probably die soon. I bought the computer as a refurb from apple a few years ago, and though it never quite worked the way I wanted it to, it was useful at times and I'll miss it. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it yet. I can remove the monitor and buy a display port adapter with a KVM switch and have a pseudo OSX desktop to switch to, but the computer was never all that fast to begin with and it'd probably just be easier to build a hackentosh.

This is a real shame though because I just discovered Things, an incredibly easy and powerful task organizer that's only for mac. Putting the mac on life support just to get it to run so I can try it out has shown me how useful it would be in my life, but not having it on my main computer kills it's usefulness.

AC always gives me tons of energy I feel I need to channel. I'm going a million miles per minute in all sorts of directions, and if I don't channel that energy into a few tasks it will all disappear and be wasted. I feel the urge to pick up the pencil again and commit horrible atrocities on paper. I feel the urge to pick through the fur in my closet and maybe do something with it. I feel the urge to empty my bank account into the first fursuit maker who has a slot open in time for Rainfurest.

If I can organize myself and get a little bit accomplished at a time, perhaps I can stretch this energy out as long as possible. I hope so. I'm back at work again tomorrow and nothing drains me faster then twelve hour days of intensely hard kitchen work. I love the experience I'm receiving at the Woodland Park Zoo. But it's physically and emotionally draining and I'd hate to see all of this post con energy go to waste there.

With that in mind, I have a few goals to accomplish over the next month.

-Loose more weight. I started the year at 175, went to AC at 150, and now I'm back up around 158. I'd like to get down to 140 by the end of the month and stay there. That means at some point I'm going to have to do stomach crunches every day to get rid of this gut I have hanging off me.

-Start sketching again. I'm horrible at art but I want to learn at least the basics so I can at least put some visual thoughts down on paper.

-Commission a full character sheet for my fursona and start poking around at fursuit makers for quotes.

-Be more social. I've lived in Seattle for four years now and the only friends I have out here are Mono's old friends, my neighbor and Aqui from FFO. All of which I don't see enough of as it is. I've been a shut in and I need to get out and do more.

-Stay off the internet for long periods of time. I dawdle too much.

If I can accomplish these simple tasks it will be enough.
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So AC 2009 has came and went. Much fun was had by all. Money was spent, good food and drink were had.

We flew in Wednesday to give ourselves a day to relax and sleep so we would be ready for the con. This proved to be a great idea as we were ready to kick ass by the next day.

I commissioned a few pieces this year. The first was a lovely con badge by Featherdust Studios, and the next day I received this lovely piece:

AC 2009 conbadge small 001

As for my sketch book, after a couple of years with variable results, I decided to come up with a theme to help spur the artist's imagination. Since I'm in the middle of my sixth re-subscription to FFXI I decided to get my fursona done up in all the FFXI artifact armor. My first pick was an artist named Tiberius, who caught my eye with her art featuring lots of detailed clothing. She wasn't familiar with the game but a quick google search later and she decided to do Dark Knight:

AC 2009 sketch book 001

I was simply amazed by what I got. This is one of my favorite commissioned pieces ever.

I had time to get another sketch, so browsing artists ally I noticed someone was doing FFXI Con badges. Wind Dragon and I talked a bit about what I wanted. He loved my idea and got to work.

A few hours later I received this text from him:

... do you like wearing skirts...?? I don't know anything about you so I am asking. ffxi mithra have cute outfits but I can do a guy outfit.

I should make a note about how I perceive commissions. A lot of furries tend to demand way too much from the artists they're commissioning by making sure they get small, minute detail right and some flail with rage if they get something that isn't exactly 100% what they wanted. I'm the exact opposite. I give the artists a few loose guidelines with my character and let them do the rest. I'm looking for an artistic interpretation of my character, not an exact drawing. Some artists are freaked out by this relaxed attitude, thinking that I'm going to come back when the piece is finished and tear into them because they didn't draw a detail I forgot to mention. Usually when finished I get compliments about how easy I was to work with.

So when an artist wants to draw my character in a skirt, I let them.

AC 2009 sketch book 002

That's scholar Artifact Armor. I love this drawing and it's the exact sort of thing I look for when I hand an artist my sketch book.

After art, it was food time. Some old classics were a little disappointing this year, while new discoveries absolutely made the trip. If you went to Anthrocon this year and did not eat at Kaya this year, shame on you. Kaya has amazing food, fresh ingredients, and prices that won't break the bank but will get you more then what you pay for. Excellent cocktails, wonderful food, and a bread pudding that is out of this world.

On the fourth I climbed up to the roof of the convention center to watch the fireworks with a ton of furries. Great fun was had by all and the city put on an excellent show.

Procyon also dragged us out on a few touristy things this year. We took the Monogahela Incline up and walked around to get an amazing view of the city.

Overall I had a great time at AC. I feel revitalized again and am working to channel this energy into many positive things as possible.
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So cross posting isn't working right now. I love betas.
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So I think I'm moving my Live Journal activities to Dreamwidth. I loved LJ a lot, but it has changed considerably, and most of it has been for the worst. Russian spam bots, draconian user agreements, and just the general sense of the people in charge not knowing what the hell they're doing makes LJ not feel like the home it was back in 2003. Dreamwidth feels like the old Live Journal (Including the bugs!), and I feel this will foster a better community. It'll be really hard to move from a permanent account to a free account, but I think I can survive since I rarely used any of the paid features.

That being said, I won't stop reading my LJ friends list or commenting (Ha, when was the last time I commented on your journal? Don't worry, I still read each and ever post. Really.), and Dreamwidth has this cool feature that lets me cross post from DW to LJ, so you won't miss my (sparse) updates. If you want to follow me over at DW, I'm hkr over there too. Like the LJ of old, you have to have an invite code to create a journal, and right now I don't have the ability to do so, but as soon as I do I'll let you know.

Of course, if you're one of those kids on Twitter, you can follow me there too at staticd00r. I use twitter to stalk webcomic artists and people I know on IRC.

Ending the post with a picture from this morning. These two were doing the dirty deed in our backyard at 7:30 this morning. I hope they weren't rabid.

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Last Remnant's story is very, very bad so far and very typical of JRPGs. I really hate being forced to play a main character who's entire role is "I'm young and stupid and know nothing of the world around me, and I also let my emotions take charge of any action I do regardless of what the consequence may be. Also I have a mysterious, vaguely defined power that lets me get out of any troubling situation."

Why do JRPG main characters have to be so embarrassing? I should not be lowering my head in disgust every time he opens his mouth. Vaan from FFXII had more maturity then this kid.

The battle system seems fun so far but I don't know if I can stomach the story enough to get further in.
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While I'm waiting for Spike to start her uStream for Templar Arizona, I figured I might as well give some sort of update.

I'm employed again. I'm not even sure I told you guys that I was let go back in October. Well, I know some of you know since we talk outside of LJ but that's besides the point. I'm one of many cooks at the Woodland Park Zoo. The busy season hasn't even started and I'm already overwhelmed. I love working with the chef, but it's insanely hard work and I'm not quite sure if it's worth it yet.

Finding a job was a huge fucking pain in the ass for me. It doesn't help that I have no real skills and no higher education. Looking for a job when the economy was in a slump + slow season for restaurants + thousands of people losing their jobs = slim pickings. Though I probably applied to at least one job a day, I was competing with hundreds of others for one position. In fact, the only reason I was hired at the zoo was because they're ramping up for the busy season and hiring anyone they can and seeing who sticks. I am literally one of almost fifty people hired in the last two weeks and there will probably be fifty more by the time May rolls around.

During the time at home when I wasn't looking for a job, I tried to keep myself busy. For a few months I went all crazy and painted a ton of warhammer figs, but barely even scratched the surface of what I have in the wings to paint.

high elves 010


When I got bored with that I started looking at cheap ways to improve my rock band drum kit. I went from this:

Ion Drums 002

To this:

Ion drums 001

Then I learned how to make my own electronic drums and did this:

edrum build log 013

Of course I also ramped up my Rock Band drumming ability and managed to pass and even gold star songs that had been giving me problems for many months. I passed Fallout Boy's Dead On Arrival the first time I played it on my new kit, compared to the 0/9000 times I tried it on RB1. Same with Detroit Rock City.

Still can't pass Don't Fear the Reaper or Constant Motion though. Once the solo kicks in on Constant Motion I have no idea what the fuck. Until then it's fairly straight forward.

I have more plans in the wings for expanding the kit further of course but for now my attention is focused elsewhere.

I also started getting into vintage stereo equipment and LPs, which was pretty fun.

None of it could really grab my attention for very long though. I swear in my adult life I am far more ADD then I was in high school. While I had problems focusing in class in high school, at least I could pay attention to a video game for more then ten minutes. Now I can barely do that. I've tried slimming down distractions (Giving up IMs, stopped reading FFO/LJ communities that did nothing but piss me off or waste my time, etc) but it's not working. There are some days where I can't even read a paragraph of text without having to start over at least four times.

To better focus myself, I've been eliminating some things from my diet. I've given up soda completely, my only source of caffeine being a cup or two of coffee in the morning. I've been drinking more juice and water lately, and I've been making sure to focus more on eating healthier things like rice, fish and fresh veg. The lack of soda has really improved my sleep. I go to bed at 10 and I'm ready to go at 6 am. I also feel less jittery in the evenings now.

So honestly not much has been going on. I'll try to update this more often, but of course no promises.
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I hope it is my destiny to die gloriously in The Battle of Houston.
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About six months ago, I had a catastrophic server failure that ended up with me losing all of my music. Every CD Mono and I owned + tons of carefully picked through and tagged downloads, gone. I started the process of ripping CDs again but it is an incredibly slow and boring process, especially if you're a sorting nut like me. As I had more fun things I wanted to get to, I stalled out on ripping. Thus, I also stalled out on listening.

The problem with listening to MP3s is it just doesn't engage me like it used to back in the day when the concept of having all of my music on a 5x2 box was new. I tend to end up turning on music for background noise, not for listening pleasure.

Recently I decided to pull out Mono's Turntable and see if I could fix it. We had been consolidating our excess stuff around the house and selling off anything we didn't need on Craigslist. I hooked up the turntable and found it still had it's problem of cutting out the right channel. Also I couldn't seem to get it to ground properly, so I got a nasty buzz no matter what I tried. I set it aside and pondered what to do with the table and the records that had been sitting on the shelf for years with no play.

A trip to goodwill yielded the answer; a used, Technics Direct Drive Fully Automatic SL-QD3 for $25 with an aftermarket Audio Technica Cartridge. We grabbed it and took it home. A small bit of height and weight adjustment and we got it running perfect.

Of course, the problem then was where to set it up. The receiver in the office is placed inside our server rack and we can't fit the turntable in there, and there wasn't a convenient place to stick a shelf next to it. Also, the receiver is a fairly bare bones, generic Sony stereo receiver from the late 90s. It just doesn't sound good.

We had another AV receiver sitting in the living room, but the living room isn't the best place to listen to music. The office is a far more conductive place for such an activity. So a bit of hauling later I brought in the shelf that was in the living room along with the receiver and hooked it up. Excited, I put on what I consider the golden standard for testing a new sound system: Dark Side of the Moon.

The result was a bit underwhelming. The AV Receiver, despite costing around $300 new when it came out in the late 90s, just didn't have any character to it.

Something Awful pointed me towards scouring the thrift stores for a vintage receiver, particularly anything Pioneer SX-XXX. I tried hitting good will for a few days (Our neighborhood good will moves its inventory extremely fast and always has something new in it), but I couldn't find anything satisfactory. So I went on ebay.

Buying used sound equipment on ebay has always been something I tried to avoid. You can't play with whatever you're buying, so you have to either hope to chance or find someone you trust to sell you a good product. A few days later I found a gentleman in Indianapolis selling a Pioneer SX-525. What attracted me to his ad was that he stated that he had recently cleaned everything on it, including the pots. $40 later and I find it at my doorstep today.

Wow, just wow. The sound difference between the vintage Pioneer and the amp I had been using was like night and day. Everything sounded better through it. It is incredibly nice and loud, yet everything sounds clear. I can hear things I never used to hear in many songs.

I'm not an audiophile by any stretch of the imagination. You'll never get me to even look at $500 speaker cable, and you won't convince me that drawing a green line on my CDs will make them sound clearer. I also have a hard time to believing that just because it's vintage means it sounds better. In this case though, I have been proven wrong.

I also got to test out a few new record pressings that some of you might have noticed in stores recently. Among my acquisitions were Boston's self titled album, the 30th anniversary edition of DSotM, and The Perl Jam Ten remaster. All of them are pressed on heavy, 180 gram vinyl. All of them perfect in every way. I hope more stuff gets re-released like this because it's good shit.

2009-04-14 001 002

2009-04-14 001 003
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(This was going to be an meditation on whether Rock Band is a good stepping stone for learning how to play real drums. As I wrote it it became something different all together. So I'm posting this then I'll get back to the drums part.)

Those of you on my friends list know I have a little obsession with a game called Rock Band. It borders on MMO obsession, but thankfully it doesn't take over my life like FFXI or WoW. The game is made by a great group of folks over at Harmonix, which made such classics as Amplitude and the first two Guitar Hero games. Harmonix is a great company with wonderful people, a few of whom I've had the chance to speak with in person.

Harmonix's mission is simple enough; bring music interaction to the common man. A vast majority of the employees at Harmonix are real musicians, which include members of bands such as Freeze Pop, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and Bang Camaro. They want people to feel the thrill of playing music.

Rock Band, and it's successor Rock Band 2, is the biggest step forward to this goal in years. It brings the full band experience to the living room. Rock Band nights have replaced Karaoke nights at many bars and night clubs, and with new tracks for the game being released every week, ranging in genres from blues to funk to death metal, there is something for everyone and no chance of the game becoming stale in the next few years.

However, Rock Band also has it's detractors. Many people refuse to play the game decrying that it's a waste of time and people should learn real instruments if they want to play music. While the value of learning to play a real instrument cannot be overstated, many people who cast their gaze downwards at the game ignore the simple fact that Rock Band is not a substitute for playing an instrument; it's an introduction. While one cannot possibly learn anything from playing a fake plastic guitar that can transfer over to a real guitar beyond simple rhythm and time keeping, it does one important thing; it shows right from the start that music can be fun.

We all know the story. Many of us have even experienced this. We decide that we're going to learn an instrument, say guitar or drums, and learn to play our favorite songs. We grab a cheap instrument and maybe a book or two, sit down excitedly and immediately discover this this is hard. Most of us cannot even begin to approach the sound of our favorite musicians. We struggle to learn on our own; sometimes we persevere and make headway, other times we just simply quit. We might decide to pay for lessons; surely a teacher can show us the fun to be had. Instead you spend months focusing on simple rudiments and scales. While these things are extremely important in playing music, one can make the argument that they are not fun enough for beginners to engage them in the craft, which is why many, many people give up early in learning music.

(On that note, I am not saying that learning the basics is not important. It is extremely important. People dedicated to the craft know the importance of these things and even have fun with them. I'm trying to approach this from the layman's point of view, who might not be dedicated enough to realize the importance of the basics.)

Rock Band as a game focuses entirely on the fun of playing music, and goes a step further from past games in that it introduces the fun of playing music with other people. It starts you off simple, but still playing your favorite songs. To play harder songs on higher difficulties, players need to practice their part over and over and learn new techniques. Along the way they can play with other people. By themselves they may not be the best at a song, but together they can work towards making it sound as good as possible. By the time a player is playing competently at expert level, he has learned several things:

-Music is Fun
-Even the simplest sounding song can be hard
-Getting good at an instrument takes practice
-Playing with others is fun, even if you're not the best player in the world

With those things learned, a mind is now more open and better prepared to pick up a real instrument and start learning. They're more open to the idea of practice, and more open to the idea of getting together with a friend to bang out a few rough songs.

So, while Rock Band is not a substitute for playing a real instrument, it can be an important stepping stone in taking the plunge in learning how to play an instrument.
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Pearl Jam's Ten is the best album to come to Rock Band since Moving Pictures. Every track is worth a purchase and is incredibly fun on every instrument. Rock Band people following me need to pick this up over anything else.

I think my pack must buys are now ordered like this:

Boston Pack
Moving Pictures
The Who Pack
The Cars album
Space Truckin
Funk Pack
Grateful Dead pack 2
Screaming For Vengeance
Texas Flood

All of these plus the songs from Rock Band 1 and 2 equal a set of songs that range in many different genres and difficulties, and all are incredibly fun on at least one instrument, usually more.
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I'm so going to do one of those fandom list things the #ri side of my friends list is doing:

Read more... )
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So before the buzz of the alcohol and the con wear off.

It has been brought to my attention that I am a huge jerk online. I have known this to be true for a while.

I have decided it would be better for me and my life if I wasn't such a huge jerk. Therefore, I am making a drunk/pre con ending promise to be less of a jerk to people online. I guess real life too, but anyone who knows me in real life knows I'm not near as big of a jerk.

Pretty good con through and through. Many things I wished could have happened didn't, but that's largely my fault. Plenty of people I could have met (And that are reading this) I could have met but didn't . I need to work on getting out of this thought that nobody wants to hang out with me unless otherwise stated.

Gonna drive back sometime tomorrow and hopefully start getting my life back on track.
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Oh, so for those wondering:

@Further Confusion, Double Tree room 627. My phone number is in a previous post. Give me a call/text if you want to hang out.
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So apparently sometime over my vacation Comcast switched our 6 meg down line to the 15 meg down line.

When usenet downloads are blazing along at around 1500-1600 kBps it is awesome.
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This is pretty damn nice so far. Super fast boot time, incredibly fast and clean interface, and it works right out of the box.
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Way more later, but this is a pretty accurate for holiday trip 08.
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For those of you wondering, Mono and I are in Michigan for the holidays. Take care everyone.
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So, last few episodes of The Office.

Is it me, or is it incredibly funny for the gay character to be the straight man in the cast?