Saturday, July 31, 2010

How to Re-enable PHP in User Directories, and Thanks for Nothing, Lucid >:-p

Nothing about the Apache web server works quite the same way on Debian Linux or its descendents (such as Ubuntu 10.04, the Lucid Lynx) as it would on Unix or normal, benighted Linuxes like Red Hat. So, for example, when I updated from Jaunty to Lucid, my Apache 2.2 PHP module busted and some of my favorite scripts (i.e, the ones whose names end with ".php") would no longer run.

The fix was easy; I just commented out the indicated lines in /etc/apache2/mods_enabled/php5.conf, and everything works again! The trick was finding any file that even mentions "re-enabling php..." (Sheesh, I'd RTFM if it were as up to date as the software it's supposed to document!)

dave@Skoojewa:/etc/apache2/mods-enabled$ cat php5.conf
<ifmodule mod_php5.c>
<filesmatch "\.ph(p3?|tml)$">
SetHandler application/x-httpd-php
<filesmatch "\.phps$">
SetHandler application/x-httpd-php-source
# To re-enable php in user directories comment the following lines
# (from <ifmodule ...> to </IfModule>.) Do NOT set it to On as it
# prevents .htaccess files from disabling it.
### commented out 7/31/2010 dco
###<ifmodule mod_userdir.c>
### <directory /home/*/public_html>
### php_admin_value engine Off
### </Directory>


Still, I do wonder what happened to apache2-mpm-prefork... Documentation? What documentation? "The code is obvious."

Or not.

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Teapot Dumb

One year out of six, Iowa's U. S. Senator Charles Grassley gets off his butt and starts looking busy. No actual work involved, but he suddenly rediscovers "wasteful guvmint spending" and "bringing home the bacon fat for Iowa."

In off years when Republicanics control the Senate, he becomes the "powerful Senate Judiary Committee Chairman" and uses powerful armwaving to pass through a snerd of draconian bankruptcy measures which make it easier for Big Banks to pwn your bod for "running up foolish credit card debt."

In off years when Republicanic senators don't control the Senate, good ole country boy Chuck throws your rhetorical granny under the euthanasis bus and smarfs that its ackshooly the Democrat Party doing it.

That's a lot of hand flapping, but somehow "Killer" always manages to bring home that baby bumblebee.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Quilt by association

It's considered impolite (or at least, impolitic) to publish the home address of a Fascist Brownshirt who hates Hispanics, but the truth is, any Mexican drug lords seriously miffed by anything Joe Arpaio's done (or not done) already know where he lives, so in a spirit of fun, here is the irrelevant information posed in anagrammatic form:

A Valetudinarian
Flint Hills Honors Zoo

Which does kind of beg the question, why isn't Ol' Joe, "The Toughest Sheriff in America," already pushing up daisies? Is he all hype, or all harmless? The FBI investigations suggest neither, so the cynics among us might well mention Lincoln Steffens' old proverb, "A good cop stays bought."

Update 3 Aug I was surfing the tube and caught about three minutes of a CNN interview between Wolf Blitzer and Joe Arpaio this afternoon. Apparently, Ol' Joe thinks Mexican drug lords have put a bounty of FIVE MILLION DOLLARS on his head, a problem he's delegated to his disturbingly anonymous "posse." Yeah? A modest five million, he says. So Joe is one fifth as deadly as the ever-elusive Osama bin Laden, whereabouts unknown? That's hilarious.

The FBI seems to be rolling its eyes and outright ignoring the news. Either it's as incredible as it sounds, or their hands are too full just investigating Arpaio's tangled public affairs, maybe. My question is, how did an old-school SCUD stud like Wolf Blitzer get gulled into handing out this guy's "I'm Wanted By Mexican Drug Lords" flyers?

Update 4 Aug CNN is just on another "illegal immigration" kick, evidently. Too bad. They used to be a trusted name in news.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Paradigm Deck

These are a few of my favorite Paradigms, based on Lightning (RAV 4, MED 4); Sazh (SYN 4); and Vanille (SAB 4, MED 4).

Smart Bomb — rav/rav/sab
Relentless Assault — com/rav/rav
Bully — com/syn/sab
Diversity — com/rav/med
Evened Odds — med/syn/sab
Combat Clinic — med/sen/med

Ruthless — com/rav/sab
Convalescence — med/syn/med
Solidarity — com/sen/med

None of which makes it easier to take down Barthandelus in Oerba... What? Again!? Yech. I'm taking a break!


Monday, July 26, 2010

Why is Firefox 3.6.7 so glacially slow?

The net is infested by middlemen these days. I've begun to explore polipo, privoxy, squid, Ubuntu's builtin network proxy, and whatever other privacy enforcers I can find, because of it. Anything to castrate Google Analytics!

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Lucid Lynx

Hmmm... Jaunty Jackalope (9.04) was a decent Ubuntu release. It gave me back my wireless connection (missing since 8.10 broke it — although Dell's proprietary Broadcom STA wireless driver had somethin' to do with it being missing in the first place...!)

Karmic Koala (9.10) only lasted overnight. It broke my wireless again, and a few other minor things.

Lucid Lynx (10.04) is Ubuntu's latest and greatest (for now). Wireless is back. Not many issues that I didn't already have. Wine 1.2 is no better than it was, despite the hype. Some Firefox 3.6.7 plugins do not play well with others.

Mostly satisfied. The basic Linux part of my Dell Inspiron 1525 is now very nice.

Some gotchas...

Firefox 3.6.7, not actually part of Lucid, is almost unusable without AdBlock Plus and NoScript; both of these have a learning curve.

Also, the screensaver comes in Lock mode by default — you have to go to System → Preferences → Screensaver and turn it off. You can still Lock your screen manually using the User item on the menubar.

Neither SmartGo for Windows nor Many Faces of Go v12 can draw a drop shadow properly using Wine 1.2.

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How to beat Hecatoncheir with just Fang and Vanille

Vanille on Hecatoncheir
In a nutshell, Level up!

Not to put too fine a point on it, that's the whole trick. You'll grind back and forth through the tunnel, the whole way back and the whole way forward,  again and again, over and over, until it's second nature and you rarely if ever get k.o.'d.  You have no choice about this — the game is linear.  Get past Hecatoncheir, or give up.

When you're done, Vanille and Fang will both have Level 4's in two or more abilities, plus maybe a Level 3 or so, with weapons upgraded to level 12 and 24. Status should show both characters with HP over 3400, not counting accessory bonuses.

N.B. —  If you get lost trying to make sense of "Gestalt bar," "Stagger bar and "SP bar," the Mumbling Mystic Masters of Button Mashing Mayhem at IGN, etc., are trying to obfuscate and confuse with  technical short-hand wizards' vocabulary to impress the girls they imagine are also playing the game.  

Sad.  The only bar that counts is the thin narrow bar that gradually fills up purple (if you're spamming Synergist spells), with the illegible word under the bar, flush right.  When that fills to the word, hit Square.  

This topic is discussed professionally in the Datalog (green up Triangle), emphasis on clarity.  If you have an HDTV, the word under the bar is legible.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Good news, bad news

Ubuntu finally updated my very old copy of Firefox 3.0 to Firefox 3.6, which is welcome news, but in the process either lost or destroyed all my Firefox 3.0 bookmarks!

No idea where the old stuff is stored or backed up.

Not only that, Java is gone, YouTube only works sporadically, Vimeo works not at all, BlogSpot entry edit icons are missing, etc etc ad nauseum...

On the other hand, Firefox is now "more secure." Gee, I dunno. Firefox 3.6.7 has done more damage in five minutes than every hacker who ever found access to my computer since 1984.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Web Blog

A blog is a "web log," get it? Things found on the web, orginally, in the daze before Google when Tim Berners-Lee's World Wide Web was young and fresh as a new potato.

That's what my first blog (hosted by the long defunct Internet Navigator somewhere nearby in Cedar Rapids) was, at any rate. Like everyone else, I quickly found my true calling — unabashed bloviation. Doing this with mere language is easy, because like everyone else, in the words of Jar Jar Binks, "I spik."

Fortunately, I have William Shakespeare to keep me humble, and Deviant Art to blow my tiny fur-lined mind. But the truth is, I bloviate because I love to play with words, whether anyone else understands or not.

Bloggo ergo beast. Well, that's a dubious ("du bist") example. "I blog, therefore you is." But megalomaniac paranoid? Puh-leeze. Deviant Art is my tinfoil hat. The Reverend Dodgson has long since launched the hot air balloons of my armada of wonders. If you could see what I've seen with your eyes, you'd blog2.

I am l33t. I play Final Fantasy XIII on my trusty Playstation 3.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Flirt and Squirt

There comes, after the rather mundane Cid Raines has passed, even more dubious life. Allons, enfants, this looks like the start of pressing forward onward into the depths of whenever.

Tomorrow's buzz–in,
      And yesterday's flirt and squirt,
            Pawn another Now.

Here we are with the first five eidolons, still wondering what this game's about, but at least it's nice to look at, this Cerobi Archylte Steppe. How can Square-Enix make games that don't look this good? Weird.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Grate Pretenders

The last authentic "Lady GaGa" was Marilyn Monroe, not these latterday pretenders. Aside from the one we have now (Praise be to Allah!), the woman is inimitable.

So when some kind of "talent search" turns up a fake look-alike to sell whatever it was they were selling, the result is excrutiatingly painful to watch. If it were my product, I'd blacklist the incompetent who dreamed it up. That much potential syzygy — and memorability near absolute zero? Dolt.

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Monday, July 19, 2010


After several days, I got rid of the upside-down choir. Now we've got the bad boy himself to deal with with Team Lightning, Snow and Vanille.

Part 1. The Choir
Ruthless (commando, ravager, saboteur)
Combat Clinic (medic, sentinal, medic)
Part 2. Laughing Boy
Combat Clinic

Yes, that's the same as before. Stay sharp about Destrudo and make sure you're in Combat Clinic well before that strikes. Mix in an occasional Relentless Assault, Solidarity, Diversity or whatever, but don't get carried away. Time is of the essence! Develop a major sense of urgency immediately. Strategy here is to stagger this clown at least once, maybe twice, and get his green line down to about 1/4 normal.

Then hit him with Odin. Watch your purple line, and whatever you do, don't bring on Odin until you've got a good chance to finish off Barthandelus with Sleipner!

Piece of cake, but unfortunately I survived with only two stars. Now on Chapter 10, The Fifth Ark
The only other advice I could add is Concentrate! Once you've won this scrimmage, it'll seem easy, but it's still kind of a high water mark for nasty bosses.

Chapter Ten, by the way, unlocks some nice rewards just for being there. Sweet!

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Saturday, July 17, 2010


Paramecium sp. A Eukaryote. Technically not a giant fal'Cie ship in the sky. That would be a Palamecia. Weird choice of names, 'ey?

Incidentally, Vanille and Fang are from the same town, Oerba, and have Australian accents. Go figure. Maybe they got to Cocoon on a giant Paramecium?

I've been playing this game for about a week and a couple days, now. I'm being pwned by Barthandelus at the moment.

Paramecia are giants in their own tiny world, up to 300μ long, nearly visible to the proverbial naked i. They defend themselves with poisonous hairs, and pack so much structure into a single cell they resemble the art of Salvadore Dali. Like Dali, paramecia can afflict the unwary with gastric disturbances.

It's art. Note the ambiguity of referent and the stinging reminder of Purdue. Ah, the cruel fate of associate professorship!

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Cringing for the Future

Like Alaric in Arizona, I've reached the outskirts of Palomporom, where the outlook for happy endings seems to be fading fast. These people don't seem to like each other very much. Me, I'm just mad at the Havoc Skytank. Bad Boss.

Update: It's been pwned. On to Chapter 8.

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Why I am not a Jew

I had this carefully explained to me over a game of backgammon, once. I am not a Jew because my mother wasn't Jewish.

I used to work with an American woman who married a Palestinian emigre. She felt similarly excluded, although in her case it was his family in East Jerusalem that drew the line.

He had an educated younger sister who thought the whole "You're not really married to my son/my brother/my uncle" back turning was offensive and personally embarassing, and the two women were great friends. I lost track of her, it being not really my business and all, but sometimes I wonder.

I knew a girl whose home town was Sarajevo — in Marshal Tito's Yugoslavia. For all I know she's dead or worse. I wonder sometimes. Born in Communism, raised an atheist, she was not any religion. Neither was her country. We bombed it good.
The frayed edges of my life are too close to too many people I consider friends, who are too close to shooting wars and passions I understand but will not ever share.

My daughter stood in the peace memorial in Hiroshima last month. I hope she never sees a war, but if she must, I hope she never succumbs to shrieking monkey hate.

My source was both very Orthodox and an extremely liberal Democrat. For him, Jewishness was more like a nationality than a religion. Interestingly, reformed Jews recognize conversion, but I have no idea what that means in practice. Orthodoxy draws a clear line in the sand, however.

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Monday, July 12, 2010

Talk is Cheap

I've run afoul of Aster protoflorian Linn.&dagger, so it's time to change the subject.

How 'bout that World Cup?? FIFA is bigger than the Olympics most places in the world, so what do we get on ABC for that hour before the final game? Wouldn't know, wasn't watching. Over on Univision, they had ONE SOLID HOUR of world class Closing Ceremonies. Yeah, only Univision cares about soccer, so guess what I watched?

Spain vs. Netherlands, kind of a dull game. Spain won, 1-0, in 119 minutes. It was fun to watch, once Team Orange crumbled. Everyone loves to laugh at losers.
"Linn." Heh, just fooling, Dr. Linnaeus.

How I Beat Aster Protoflorian

Aster Protoflorian wasn't easy, but there's a method. In a nutshell, in order of importance: Use your own head, then Odin, then Sleipnir, to peel off this were-onion's first Stagger. After that, you're on your own in a normal boss battle, so take 'im down again. Made in the shade!

First, buff up with Symbiosis. Don't waste time, but switch over to Slash & Burn, alternating with War & Peace as needed, but it seems that a good offense is the best defense. Keep an eye on Hope (and your own stats!), and don't allow your HP to drop too far. You can't afford to be low on HP when Aster Protoflorian goes electric on you (Thunderga?) or unleashes Efflorescence on your sorry backside. Whack at this knuckle-dragging weed until you get his orange burnout bar as high as you can by yourself (you can't do it without Hope).

THEN SUMMON ODIN! (This requires a little preparation, so be prepared, obviously.) Your goal is to weed whack and get the orange bar as high as possible in the time allotted. Be very careful. That purple bar under Odin's stats MUST NOT go to zero, but keep weedwhacking until you can't stand it, THEN PRESS SQUARE.

Odin now gets a second, even more powerful, life as SLEIPNIR, Lightning's favorite steed! Don't do this too soon, because the longer you spend with Odin, the more time you have on Sleipnir. WEED WHACK!! You should be able to max out the pest's burnout bar and knock him down with one or two extra blows before your little pony goes back to the sky.

Aster Protoflorian takes TWO iterations on the full orange bar, so now you start again. Before Odin left, the weed's orange bar dropped back to zero (bad), your HP maxed out (good) and all your debuffs (and all the were-onion's buffs?) vanished (very good), so you're in good shape.

At this point, you're fighting a normal boss battle again. Max the orange bar, toss the bouquet straight up as often as possible, and keep a wary eye on your HP. If Hope collapses, you'll need Phoenix Down. SLASH & BURN!! You'll be facing a black and white stats screen before you know what happened.

Funny thing, you've been concentrating intensely. If you've been doing it right when that flower goes down, your visceral reaction is to immediately stifle a whoop of celebration. At most, the only reaction anyone will notice out of you is a slow, evil smile. I think you could probably earn a black belt in Final Fantasy XIII.

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

The games we play, the games we love

Final Fantasy XIII

Overall: 10 stars out of 10.

Eye Candy: 10 stars out of 10. Graphics are heartbreakingly gorgeous, girls cute and sexy.

Music: 7 stars out of 10. There are tunes in this soundtrack that will be played at weddings and funerals for a year or two, but the rest of us may wonder why. Sazh's Theme from the Salvage Yard is actually memorable. I like it.

Story: 10 stars out of 10. The game starts very, very slowly, like sunrise in a Wagner opera. Be patient and enjoy the meaningless mayhem while you can. It won't last.

Playability: 8 stars out of 10. This is not a great zero-sum game, like chess or Go, or a great princess-and-monster, like the original Tomb Raider games or Zelda, but it is fun, unclassifiably hard fantasy and hugely cathartic. This point can be overlooked. It has high catharsis value, and ranks as one of the mysteriously great healing games of all time. I can't explain this. My dreams, following chemoembolization for liver cancer, were grim, dire and hellish. My dreams, following the first three chapters of Final Fantasy 13 are models of immense satisfaction and quiet pleasantry.

Pentimento: Subtract 20 points for gratuitous aggravation. The characters slowly talk their way through raging selfish ignorance to gradual awareness that other people exist and perhaps the world is not as simple as a sheltered 14-year-old might think. The overarching soliloquy, varying only in minor details per cast member, telegraphs its feathersoft punches, and the "come to realize" moments could be engraved on grains of rice while the rest of us are waiting for the first obvious flipflop to drop.

Recommended: Yeah, sure, why the hell not? I run hot and cold on this point.
I am a huge fan of the Homeric passage though Hell: Alice in Wonderland, James Joyce's Ulysses in Nighttown, Dante's Inferno, Hanna Green's I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, Ovid's Orpheus and Eurydice, The Tibetan Book of the Dead, Tom Jones' What's New, Pussycat? and, of course, Childbirth, and Golf. The best games all have this hellish overtone, more or less literal as the case may be.

I began to love Final Fantasy XII during the maddeningly difficult Barsoom Passage, the details of which I shall not divulge. But that stretch of the imagination wound my nerves up tighter than cheese wires, and when I staggered out the other side of the abyss back into daylight, I felt reborn, renewed, refreshed. Not bad as a working definition of catharsis.

Add to these Final Fantasy XIII, which is slowly becoming to my mind one of the great games of all time.

I'll admit, I still wonder what's going on, even though by now I've acquired the Omni-Kit. Which is a little like getting your first BSA flashlight — it's shaped like an L, with batteries in the handle and a light that browns out and flickers erratically in the right-angle head — which makes you wonder if the Boy Scouts of America knew what they were doing when they bought 20,000 of these pups. What's going on? Does the master storyteller have a firm grip on the tiller?

  • The plot is linear. That's odd for modern JRPGs.
  • There is no coherent group. The characters are cranky and uncooperative, and don't like each other very much or work well together, and that also is very uncharacteristic of Japanese culture, where the herd instinct is almost the only thing Americans think they know about Japan.
  • There is no plot. No plot at all, just episodes and incidents. This group of intrepid wayfarers is fluid, dynamic, recombinant and incoherent. It breaks apart at the drop of a hat, flows together by dribs and drabs, and wanders where it will over the rigid, unforgiving box canyons, ambush alleys and one-way-in-one-way-out death grounds.
  • None of this terrain is memorable. None of this is a Barsoom Passage or a Feywood.
By now, Snow has acquired a motorcycle he's not qualified to drive, and Fang, whom we've met but not by name, has acquired him and his crystal fiancee (we'll grant the implausible bits).

Lightning has insulted everyone and gone off by herself, abandoning Hope (catchy ain't it? — actually, it's the kid) behind, alone in the wilderness.

Like drops of mercury, everyone eventually re-coalesces (except Snow, who has dropped out of the story for the length of a Bible) to confront the miniboss at the far end of a Slough of Despond (whatever), including Lightning, who meets the overwhelming odds against success with cold logic and necessity. For now, her companions are useful. They may meet again, she says, as enemies.

And whatever Snow is up to, Sazh's group comes out of this adventure with the tidy gains of expanded roles and a utility kit.

Got it? Normal RPGs have strong cohesive groups which wander at will over the world map. This RPG has a incoherent schizophrenic aggregation, hardly a group, that meets its various ineluctable fates with no clear sense of purpose whatsoever.

Oh, there be "Focus," whatever that is. None of the characters know either.

Someone is playing games with our expectations! It remains to be seen if this risky strategem can realize its potential or not.

True, though, you don't play videogames to turn pages. They're not intended to program wetware with natural languages like, say, a book. The purpose is strong, engrossing, visceral, visual entertainment: Battles, puzzles, hide & seek. So at a minimum, how are the battles? Are the swarming minions many? Are the minibosses HAIRY? Are the boss battles INSANELY DIFFICULT? (Think "Aster protoflorian Linn.") Yes, yes, yes!

In a nutshell, by the time you've found your second eidolon, you know this game is going to be something special. And that's all I have to say about that.

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Saturday, July 10, 2010

Pat Oliphant

I call him Netanyahoo because of that thing about Beelzebub. Mel Ott was the real Lord of the Flies.

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Friday, July 09, 2010

Final Fantasy XIII

Final Fantasy XIII (PS3)...

Well, as usual we've come late to the party. The game requires a platform purchase or upgrade, so you spend 10X what the game is worth just to acquire a mission-ready system. We went with a second-hand PS3, because we heard about Microsoft's infamous Red Circle of Death on the XBox 360. Also, Video Games Etc. guarantees their stuff, and for the most part, "kid-proof" means USMC grade ruggedization.

First impression of the Playstation 3? If you're hooking it up to an old-fashioned block box Tee Vee, you'll want to find and turn on the pixel "Smoothing" option. The screen seems a bit chaotic without it, but I doubt you'd need to do that with HDTV plasma screen televisions.

Ghastly gotchas... Slimelime PS3's have two USB ports on front. Only older PS3's with FOUR USB PORTS can play PS2 games — no backward compatibility for you! There's allegedly a utility for Linux called pcsx that emulates a PS2 on Ubuntu boxen, but it seems seriously underdocumented.

The game... Final Fantasy XIII is gorgeous; considering the kind of graphics hardware in these things, you'd expect no less. The characters, however, are petulant pretty airheads in the Final Fantasy 7 vein... or else whiny brats, perky übercutie princesses, mysteriously vapid manhaters, etc. Basically, just like high school on other planets. The Final Fantasy franchise hasn't achieved serious character development (or whimsy, or humor in any vein but raunchy... e.g., Snow's "fiancee," Serah, hasn't reached the age of consent (1) in any Western civilization, but nobody laughs about that, go figure) since FF XII, which could be cheerfully risible on occasion (Balthier and Fran? C'mon! Those guys cracks me up.)

Having just arrived at the frozen lake, I feel qualified to summarize the plot so far: There's humans. This story is not about humans. There's l'Cie. Humans become l'Cie. Unless they're fal'Cie, in which case maybe they were, and maybe they weren't. Dinna fash yer bonedome, though, because every 15 seconds or so there's another battle. Your team is outnumbered. When you became l'Cie, you got a tatoo that gives you M*A*G*I*C (thrumming guitars), so you always win (2). Everything is a maze, except you always have a map that shows your position, enemy positions, save points, item pickup points and the way out. Heh. "The way out...." Heh. Come to think of it, though, the Pulse fal'Cie boss did require a little thought to defeat, but only if you've never seen Legend of Zelda. That was a valid, but ancient, trope.

There's no detectable story so far. More anon.


(1) Serah's appearance is so sweetly virginal that somebody at Square-Enix thought it wise to let us know she's "21 years old" (As if! According to the Final Fantasy Wiki she's "18," but 14 is more like it...!) They lay this ridiculous "21" smokescreen down in Bodhum at the third or fourth flashback to Day 11's evening fireworks party — but I would classify this as unintentional humor. On the other hand, Serah's crystalline tomb, which Snow is chipping away at so diligently, is a real jaw drop when Snow's captors haul her off like Snow White under glass, with nary so much as a grunt.

Not far into the game, there's some real dash — Lightning's creators eventually rediscover Laconic wit (3) as a zest for her usual sarcasm, and about this time of day also, Snow encounters the Shiva Sisters. These girls are downright cunning. Not only are they invicible fighters, but they turn into something even better than Harley ... or is that Harvey? Then a ways down the road, we meet an Incubus ... and it is doing a Class A reservation pow-wow dance. You can see it now, just as fscking stereotyped and Atchison, Topeka & Sante Fe as the real thing.

(2) Except when you lose and turn into Cie'th.

(3) Spartan lad: "Mother, my sword is too short! I can't reach the enemy." Spartan mom: "Stand closer."


Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Allow me to translate...

We're turning off the television...
the cell phones...
and the internet...
Today we'd truly like to be connected with everything around us!

And you say you don't want "these kind of people" in Arizona??!


Monday, July 05, 2010

The Fourfold Noble Truth of Chemo

  • You are constipated (and in pain, ow ow ow ow...)
  • There is a cause for constipation (it's the morphine, stupid!)
  • There is an end to constipation (it takes awhile, though)
  • Therefore, Nobly Born,
    1. Eat Prune #1.
    2. Eat Prune #2.
    3. Eat Prune #3.
    4. Eat Prune #4.
    5. Eat Prune #5.
    6. Eat Prune #6.
    7. Eat Prune #7.
    8. Concentrate!
And now you will never forget The Fourfold Noble Truth of Buddhism, will you? (^^;)


Saturday, July 03, 2010


  • シークヮーサ (shikwasa, Citrus depressa) is a native Okinawan fruit sometimes called the "flat lemon" in English. Too sour to eat like a tangerine, it's the main ingredient in popular Okinawan bottled drinks.
  • Everybody loves Lilo and Stitch.
  • The only manga on the shelves in all of Akihabara is One Piece.
  • The 新茶 ("new tea") is kind of interesting in a "new mown hay" sort of way, but I'm not fond of it. (^^;)
  • 五円玉, or more exactly, three 5-yen pieces. The lore is, put one of these in a new wallet before any other money goes in. The swirling plant is rice. The typical sheathed grass stems and panicles make it obvious. The obverse has unidentified "tree sprouts." Not pine, it's a dicot — at a guess, Daruma's eyelids, Camellia sinensis.
  • Actually, I sent a 16-year-old to Japan and got back an ambassador. I'm happy.


Friday, July 02, 2010

Used to live here!

When I was a kid, we lived in this house on Beal Street, East Lansing, Michigan — when JFK ran for office in 1959. My room was in the dormer. Happiest three years of our lives were probably spent here. The house is walking distance from the Beal Botanical Gardens at MSU, across the way.The main library was next to those gardens. The Red Cedar River flooded now and then and drowned out the specimen C. sativa, just down the row from thyme and peppermint. A brisk walk on the other bank of the river would take you down to Spartan Stadium on a sparkling October Saturday. I kept a snapping turtle in a tub in the basement for awhile, and fed it bologna; finally gave it back to the river, fat and irritable. There was a yappy black Scotty terrier across the road, a harmless terror. Up the road, a spaniel who chased cars, bikes, anything with wheels — it turned into a grease spot under the tires of an unsympathetic sedan.

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Thursday, July 01, 2010

More unpaid mumbling...

The Murmur of a Bee
A Witchcraft — yieldeth me —
If any ask me why —
'Twere easier to die —
Than tell —

The Red upon the Hill
Taketh away my will —
If anybody sneer —
Take care — for God is here —
That's all.

The Breaking of the Day
Addeth to my Degree —
If any ask me how —
Artist — who drew me so —
Must tell!
       —Emily Dickinson

Is her Degree Masonic? Does her hive chill down at night and buzz away in day? Or is she merely every day all the more in every way, like Mrs. Browning, better?

I'd Love thee More —
and Loathe thee Less —
if — Ofter —
Adverbs -ly
from thy — Caress!
       —H. Friley Hall