John Furie Zacharias
having a bad day in a strange place
Thunderstorms Anywhere

Thunderstorms in the Imajica

 The different ways I don't like you 
 in a list that may never become organized
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JfZ making a mess of the web
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Sunday, May 09, 2004
Happy Mother's Day

As american as mom with an uzi
My mom when she was a teenager
Well, this Mother's Day is a difficult one.  It's the very first Mother's Day ever in my lifetime without my mom, since she died last Fall.  I guess I really tried not to think about it very much until I started to think about something to write about today for the blog, here.  Bleh.

In other Mother's Day news, the Million Mom March anti-gun protest in DC only drew about two thousand this year.  When this protest was first held in 2000, it supposedly drew the participation of about one hundred thousand.  The Second Amendment Sisters held a counter-rally.  I think I can say unequivocally that my mom would have been in the second group of women.  Being a single parent, living and working in Detroit most of her life, and only having the physical presence of about five-foot-tall and 100 pounds -- soaking wet -- she always had the company of her friends Smith and Wesson.  Upon hearing about something like the Million Mom March, she would have likely retorted, "If those women have so much time on their hands, they should just go get a job, instead".  She didn't have much patience for the 1950's house-wife stereotype.

[excuse me a minute]

I don't have much patience for this fucking lame dialup connection software anymore that has an ever-so-annoying top-and-uncloseable-window that gets in the way of everything else on my desktop while connecting or the fact that it's so fucking lame it doesn't even ever detect when the connection has dropped and I have to listen to the off-hook beep-beep-beep from the phone company.  Then, I have to CTRL-ALT-DEL the piece of shit software every 2 minutes because the Sprint telephone company -- whose landlines have so much fucking noise on them you can barely hear yourself speak -- let alone maintain a modem connection.  So, while I'm just try to type up this simple and short blog entry, I have to keep repeating the process of forceably terminating the lame-ass dialup software and dialing back out -- 14 fucking times in 15 fucking minutes!!!  And while I'm on the topic of lame, what's up with Microsoft Update?  I know some German teenager hacked the OS and shut down airports in fucking Hong Kong or Singapore, but do I need a security update every fucking day, now?

[all better now]

Have a happy Mother's Day.

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Saturday, May 08, 2004
U.S. Democracy Threat Level Indicator

De-Bush the WH, if you like!
U.S. Democracy Threat Level Indicator

grab this for your web site > right-click, save as >
The biggest threat to the U.S. may not be terrorism.  The biggest threat are people who live here and don't care enough to even vote --  Voter Apathy.  You can help change that.  I made this little animated GIF version of another image to get people to think about it.

Feel free to put this on your own web site
.  Just right-click the image and select save-as.  Use the blog comment function and let me know if you used it ... I'd like to make a link list to your site.

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Friday, May 07, 2004
Fraggin' Friday: Q3A - dk_ttgd & dk_pc

Heh.  He said,
click for larger image

Through the Glass Darkly is an M.C. Escher drawing in which to frag your friends.  The surrealistic geometry of the map architecture is visually interesting but it doesn't hold its link to reality as well as another map by dONKEY, All of Me (dk_aom), which has similiar simple brush textures and an almost elegant design.  Instead, it may make your head swim navigating the map.

dONKEY says this map is "partly an experiment in cel shading".  I did notice an almost extra layer of black outline on many brushes.  Given that, and the overall simplicity to the look of the textures and map geometry, it sometimes felt like I was running through a cartoon world.

Since a bot file is included, playing from the Q3A menu is preferred and the bots play fairly well.  They continually snagged the Quad Damage power-up and I even saw one go after the Mega-Health at the bottom of the map and head right for the teleporter, there.  The map is large enough for a game against six other players, bot or human.  The quantity of weapons, armor, health and ammo are evenly distributed throughout to make this map a challenging one.

click for larger image

Pink and Curly isn't a new pasta recipe, a hairstyle or Hip Hop slang for describing a part of the human body.  It is a simple, but yet another very interesting Quake 3 map by dONKEY extremely suitable for 1-on-1 DM or Tourney play.

Other than the 1970's Fab-5 architecture, complete with lava lamps, you'll notice it's a sunny day by the lake outside.  Inside dONKEY's world though, don't be distracted by the view because you're likely to make a wrong step and fall straight to your bloody and messy death.  You'll only have the player-default Machine Gun and a Rail Gun to frag your opponent.  For your own protection, you can fight over the one Red Armor suspended above a moving platform at the top center of this multi-leveled open map or go after the one Yellow Armor at the bottom.  Either way, you'll be out in the open and an easy sniper target.  Different bots played extremely well in this map -- grabbing items and navigating the whole space -- sometimes better than I did.  It's not a map for the run-backwards-and-hop style of player

If you didn't explode on impact from an initial Rail Gun hit, you can pick up some strategically placed Armor Shards or Health and rejoin the fight.  All in all, while Pink and Curly is described by dONKEY as a " quick little box map, built to give me a break from a larger terrain map project ", it's very nicely done.

more quake map reviews

Don't have Quake 3?
Go get it now!

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Thursday, May 06, 2004
The Ultimate Tourists

Mars attacks.  Bush re-elected!
Just last week, while most of us down here on Earth were caught up in the latest wars news from Babylon and political excuse-making from DC, the mars rovers -- or as I like to call them, the ultimate tourists -- finished up their primary budgeted and scheduled missions.  It's a shame that the Iraq debacle completely overshadowed this accomplishment from a government agency that could benefit to spread some good news about itself.  Here's a snippet from the NASA press release:

"This brings Opportunity's primary mission at Meridiani Planum to a resounding and successful close. It's stunning to think through the short history of this vehicle," said Matt Wallace, Opportunity mission manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., where rover assembly began barely two years ago. In its three-month primary mission, Opportunity drove 811 meters (more than half a mile) and sent home 15.2 gigabits of data about Mars, including 12,429 images.

Wow, more than twelve thousand images!  I'd say that certainly rivals the comedic stereotype of a Japanese tourist with a camera hanging from his neck.  It's been since the beginning of the year when Spirit landed and sent us all the first postcards from Mars.  Spirit and Opportunity are still going strong and NASA has approved funding for the continuing operation of both rovers through September.

If you're interested in seeing some of the fascinating images of Mars or learning more about Mars and the rovers missions, check out these sites:

NASA Planetary Data System MAP-A-PLANET

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Wednesday, May 05, 2004
Noah's Ark - a great story

Noah's Ark - Thunderstorms in the Imajica -- get it?

Here's a great story about a great story!  Noah's Ark ... Thunderstorms in the Imajica ... get it?!  As most people in many cultures know if they didn't sleep during their religious training (aka Sunday school, for you BACs), the book of Genesis tells the tale of Noah's Ark.  This is part of Christian, Jewish, and Islamic teaching.

Yesterday, at a National Press Club briefing in Washington DC, Daniel P. McGivern revealed new images taken last Summer by DigitalGlobe's Quick Bird, the world's highest resolution commercial imaging satellite, of what he believes to be Noah's Ark.

Why do I think this is a great story?  All the angles to it.  Well, McGivern plans on taking an expedition team this Summer up Mount Ararat.  Oh, BTW -- Mount Ararat is in Turkey -- it's not that pile of rubble that the PLO leader calls a compound in Ramallah.  So, anyway, you've got the cultural/religious angle to this story.  Expedition team members will likely be of all three faiths I've already mentioned.

Then, you've got the political angleMount Ararat, itself, has been like a US-USSR Cold War version of a Star Trek forbidden planet with a Federation warning beacon orbitting it for all those decades.  And from the slight discrepancies in McGivern's statements I've read in various news sources around this only-slightly-dry-mudball we call Earth, politix is going to continue to play a part in this upcoming drama.

McGivern is still waiting for official approval from Ankara (Turkey) for his planned expedition this Summer.  In a Zaman Daily article, he plays footsie on what could be a touchy issue with the Turkish government, saying:

"We will not make any excavations, nor will we remove anything. We will simply takes photos, and, if God permits, all of you will see them."

But back in the US, he's a little more excited when he's quoted by National Geographic:

"We're telling people we're 98 percent sure," said McGivern, a member of the Hawaii Christian Coalition. "In one image we saw the beams, saw the wood. I'm convinced that the excavation of the object and the results of tests run on any collected samples will prove that it is Noah's ark."

And even more so, in his own company's press release:

"These new photos unequivocally show a man-made object," said Mr. McGivern. "I am convinced that the excavation of the object and the results of tests run on any collected samples will prove that it is Noah's Ark."

Sorry ... Manufacturing Consent snuck up on me again just now.  It's very likely Ankara will give approval for excavation as one of the expedition team leaders, Dr. Arslan, worked in the Turkish Prime Minister's office -- a little trivia fact not published in the Turkish newspaper, Zaman Daily -- calling him a local mountaineer, instead. Heh.  Anyway, there's the politix of getting anything cool done, eh?

Then, there's the scientific/technological angle to this story.  Two words: Quick Bird.  And surely, the National Geographic society won't be the only organization to write about this in upcoming months.  You've got an archaelogical find from the Sumerian period on your hands here.

Oh, back to the religious angle -- here's a question for Christians.  What would strengthen your faith more, seeing the Passion of the Christ or hearing that scientists found some frozen, but salvageable, DNA samples to test up there on Ararat?

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