Archive for July, 2007

‘Stretching Out’

23:56 31 Jul 2007. Updated: 09:42 07 Apr 2008

Afterwards, when I was next aware, everything was dark. I had my eyes closed, but couldn’t seem to open them.

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Real Class

23:58 30 Jul 2007. Updated: 08:24 31 Jul 2007

I read two articles today which deconstruct public personas. Both subjects happen to be women, although the men connected with these women don’t look too good from the articles either… the first is Judy Bachrach’s dissection of Judith Guliani, in Vanity Fair, and the second is Germaine Greer’s demolition of Princess Diana.

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23:12 29 Jul 2007. Updated: 02:49 01 Aug 2007

I died a while ago. I’m not sure how long, but it can’t be more than a few years. I don’t keep track of time too well.

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Red Door Closing

23:53 28 Jul 2007. Updated: 04:14 29 Jul 2007

My favorite local place to eat, the Red Door Café, is closing. I’m pretty sad about this, since the food there is just so good.

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23:43 27 Jul 2007. Updated: 01:45 28 Jul 2007

From a distance, all looks well. Peaceful, serene. The ship floats, its sails unfurled, ready to depart.

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The Strangeness of Evil as a Force

23:52 26 Jul 2007. Updated: 02:24 27 Jul 2007

It struck me this evening that the concept of evil being a force external to human beings is very odd. The same goes for good, but it seems that evil is more frequently cited—perhaps because people tend to take at least some credit for their own good works, while being generally happy to claim that their bad acts were at least influenced, if not coerced, by some outside agency. The idea that evil is a force, or that evil non-human forces seek to encourage us to do evil, pushes one’s conception of the world to a very different place.

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23:51 25 Jul 2007. Updated: 16:24 11 Feb 2015

The flight had been a long one. My legs and back were sore, and complained when I put my bag down to use the sink. The restroom was relatively busy, and I’d had to wait for a sink to become free.

It was one of the ‘no-touch’ sinks, where the water just runs when you put your hands under it. I put my hands under it.


I waved my hands around a little. Still nothing. I tried higher and lower, but no water came forth.

I pushed my bag sideways with my foot and moved over to the next sink. Same actions, same lack of results. Another man stepped up to the sink I’d just been using and washed his hands.

When the next sink over freed up, I tried that. No success. I stepped back and waited for the man using the first one I’d tried to leave, and then moved to that one again. But it didn’t work. The other sinks also worked both before and after I tried them.

I tried touching parts of the faucet, rubbing my hands together, faster movements, keeping my hands still, covering my belt with one hand in case it was somehow reflecting something. The tap stayed resolutely off.

None of the others in the room paid me any attention. There was a sense of transience, and everyone wanted to remain in their own bubble.

The other bubbles were moving smoothly through the restroom, but I was not. The machines governing the process refused to deal with me, and I could sense the combination of slight irritation and increased bubble thickness from those around me who noticed I wasn’t following the same steps as everyone else. The room was full of unconnected strangers, yet I had managed to become an outsider.

(300 words)

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Harry Potter and the Incensed Zealots

21:44 24 Jul 2007. Updated: 11:05 25 Jul 2007

I’m not a Harry Potter fan, and so haven’t been caught up in the hype surrounding the movie or the release of the final book. I read the first one, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, in 2000 and didn’t enjoy it. I felt it was lacking something, possibly depth. Yes, it was aimed at children, but so was the His Dark Materials trilogy, which displayed no such lack. That being said, I don’t have anything against the books per se, apart from occasional irritation at the hype (and the copyright-law heavy-handedness from the publishers). Apparently a significant number of groups feel rather differently.

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‘Guard Detail’

22:30 23 Jul 2007

He didn’t like it. The work, whatever it truly was, had dragged, and now they were stuck there a third night.

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Consumer Ephemera

16:00 22 Jul 2007

Last night Seth and I had a conversation about how hard it is to think of products that you can be sure will still be available in a couple of years. I brought the topic up in reference to sneakers, because I dislike having to choose new models every couple of years if I’m perfectly happy with the old ones. I’m not talking about refusing to try anything new, just that I’d like to be able to fall back on the old model if none of the new ones are as good.

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‘One Day’

23:54 21 Jul 2007. Updated: 01:25 22 Jul 2007

“Have I mentioned that I love you?”

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Super Street Fighter II Turbo

22:03 20 Jul 2007

I played this game a ridiculous amount during the final year of my BA. Too much, unquestionably. I definitely regret not having put the same effort and money into MTG, as I would have had a rather valuable collection at this point if I had… However, Super Street Fighter II Turbo is an absolutely excellent game, a classic of the fighting genre.

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23:58 19 Jul 2007

Technology. What does that mean? We think of it as meaning electronics, computers, but it means all our tools. Including the latest gadgetry, yes, but also the simplest things, like clubs and knives.

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‘Coup’ Part 4/4

23:58 18 Jul 2007

I found myself outside a large building, a building that looked familiar. After a few moments, I realized that it looked like many buildings I had encountered in my life, especially in childhood.

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RFID Credit Cards

18:28 18 Jul 2007

One of my credit cards expired recently, so I was issued a new one. This new one came equipped with an RFID chip. It’s supposed to be a convenience thing, allowing the card to be read without swiping it, but the first thing I thought was “security flaw”.

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‘Waiting to Drive’

23:04 17 Jul 2007

She didn’t like waiting. She knew it was better for her to be in the car, but it still irked her.

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‘Coup’ Part 3/4

23:32 16 Jul 2007. Updated: 22:54 20 Jan 2008

Grey. Grey, somehow flat, but fully three-dimensional. Grey, with no horizon, no ground or floor, no ceiling, no sky. And no I. Just thoughts.

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One Nightmare Not Enough—Iran Next?

23:29 16 Jul 2007

I’ve been noting the signs (moving significant naval forces into the area, propaganda pushes to assign blame for things in Iraq, Dick Cheney’s maneuverings around everyone else in the administration, the AIPAC stance, urging Britain to go to war over its captured sailors) for a while, but I just didn’t think the US would actually go to war with Iran. But last Thursday, the Senate voted to blame Iran for attacks on US troops in Iraq—a clear prelude to allowing the use of military force. Given the obviously belligerent nature of this US Administration in particular, which will use any excuse it can to get away with doing whatever it wants, this vote by the Senate looks disturbingly like a blank check.

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‘Saeka and the Pillars’

21:02 15 Jul 2007. Updated: 23:23 22 Nov 2010

When Saeka was but a girl-sorceress, she learned the art of walking between worlds. She would go wherever her fancy took her, driving her teachers to distraction. Only the most powerful among them could follow, and tracking her was a major undertaking. So she wandered the uncounted worlds, indulging her curiosity and avoiding tedious classes.

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‘Coup’ Part 2/4

23:59 14 Jul 2007. Updated: 23:33 16 Jul 2007

My headache was getting worse. I ignored it and walked down the corridor, into the main chamber.

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Tenth Edition Release Tournament

23:55 14 Jul 2007. Updated: 16:28 27 Jun 2013

I attended a release tournament today for the Tenth Edition of MTG’s core set. It was a lot of fun, for a number of unexpected reasons.

I intended to play, with friends, at Berkeley’s Eudemonia, where I used to play MTG relatively often. It’s a nice space and usually a pleasant enough store to play at. However, when our group of several people arrived, we discovered that the store didn’t have enough Tenth Edition to support any more players than those that had already shown up. This was rather disappointing, and in my opinion was a poor showing on their part—first, because the event had gotten tons of publicity from the manufacturer and hence they should have been prepared for large numbers; second, because (unlike in the case of prerelease tournaments) the release events take place on the day the product is available for general sale, and hence as an MTG store they should simply have a lot of Tenth Edition that they’re going to sell to customers in the future, so it was just weird that they didn’t have it. We joked about the fact that, had we realized that this might be a problem, we probably could have accessed the sfmagic group’s order of Tenth Edition and supplied enough product for rather more players.

At any rate, this turned out well, because we had time to get some food, enjoy it outside in the beautiful weather, and end up at a new games store in the neighborhood, Green Griffon Games. While smaller than Eudemonia, Green Griffon was an even more pleasant space, with plenty of natural light and a very light, relaxed feel to it. We made up most of the group ourselves, which was fine, and the tournament ended up quite small, which was fine with all of us as well. The owner of Green Griffon, Joe, was extremely friendly and helpful, and all of us would like to go back there.

Lev, Seth and I browsed the AD&D products and were all taken by a certain nostalgia, and talked again about the possibility of setting up a group to play, which is still something I’d like to do, although finding the time is of course quite difficult. Something to keep an eye on, though…

The tournament itself went well for me, I opened some excellent cards. Highlights included double Incinerate, a Platinum Angel, Chimeric Staff, Kamahl, Pit Fighter, Lavaborn Muse, and Merfolk Looter. On top of those, I had reasonably good support cards. I played Blue/Red/White, and decided to go to 18 lands for this deck despite usually hating that. But with the strong late-game cards I had, I thought that being flooded would still lead to victory more often than being short.

Naturally, in the first round I was paired against Seth. And that was quite a match indeed. In the first game, his deck came out of the gates very quickly, all tempo, including his using cards like Fists of the Anvil to shorten my clock considerably. My first chance to stabilize didn’t work out as he got rid of Kamahl, but in the nick of time I played Platinum Angel, which keeps me alive no matter what as long as it remains in play. So Seth got me to negative life the next turn, but it didn’t matter. In the meantime, my Lavaborn Muse was hitting him for quite a bit of damage, and he only had one turn to get rid of the Angel. If he could, he won, otherwise I won. He didn’t. His answer to it was the next card in his deck…

He pushed through for the win in game two, a crazy see-saw battle that saw both sides of the board cleared many times, and in the end was as simple as his drawing evasive creatures while I didn’t have enough blockers.

In game three, it came down to the wire again, but I had enough to kill him (just…) the turn before I would have died, and that was that. Quite a match, razor-close and very fun while also rather tense. We played a fourth game for fun and he won it (barely). Our fifth game didn’t finish but it looked like I had an unopposed Kamahl going in it, which probably meant I would have taken it. Clearly a very close matchup that I was lucky to sneak out of.

None of the rest of my matches were as close, and I didn’t drop another game as I played Karen, JC, and Lev (all people I know). JC’s deck had serious mana problems in both games against me, so that was probably a lucky escape as well.

I seem to be good with the core set release tournaments—while this was a very small and casual one, I also won the last one I played in, for Eighth Edition, which was a larger affair with a cut to Top 8 draft. I played Red/White in both Sealed and Draft for that, getting ridiculously lucky cards in both sections (Two-Headed Dragon in Sealed, Shivan Dragon in Draft). So I guess this means I should really play in the Eleventh Edition release event two years from now…

After that, a bunch of us went back to Lev’s place, where he provided excellent food and hospitality as always. En route we searched for and found the Phoenix Pastificio, which I highly recommend to anyone who appreciates high-quality pasta. After that, great food and conversation, and the opportunity to meet the rest of JC’s family (I’d only met his son Cameron before this), which made for an excellent evening (and not at all the evening I expected when I set out to play MTG that morning).

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‘A Sale’

23:44 13 Jul 2007. Updated: 21:03 15 Jul 2007

“Burnt her out, have you?”
So spoke the eponymous proprietor of Mr. Dreyson’s Shop, a small and rotund man..

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‘Coup’ Part 1/4

23:10 12 Jul 2007. Updated: 19:02 15 Jul 2007

I was barely halfway down the ladder when the first ones hit. A series of deep, bass booms. I could feel the vibration in my fingers. And just like that, I had a headache.

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