Monthly Archives: October 2009

Hopeful improvement on the computer front

Yesterday and today I took several pieces of action, which I hope will improve my computer situation at least until the budget is ready for a replacement.

1: I uninstantiated Norton 360 and replaced it with AntiVir. While Norton used to be a pretty good product, the last few generations have increasingly become bloated, and watching my task manager yesterday I noticed that it was using more time than any of my other applications — to the extent that when the only other things I was running were iTunes and Windows Remote Desktop and both were having to wait for Norton’s “background” applications.

I’ll also note that on AntiVir’s initial scan it turned up about 30 files, all Trojans not viruses, that Norton had missed.

2: I upgraded my RAM from 512MB to 2GB, greatly reducing, I hope, the need to waste time swapping memory.

3: After discovering that my iPod wouldn’t sync yesterday, I realized that my firewire card was probably bad. So I got a cable to connect my external DVD Writer by USB instead of firewire (I also moved my iPod over to its USB cable) and at least it is being recognized so far.

At Fry’s getting the memory and USB cable, I did confirm that they have at least one kind of IDE CD/DVD Writer so if needed I can replace one or both of my internal optical drives and get a bit of an upgrade as well. But I held off since the new cable was much less expensive.

Now I just completed these, and haven’t tried to put it through its paces to see if it has really improved or not, but at the moment I’m optimistic.

On the other hand, while at Costco for facial tissue I did post something to Facebook I should be sorry for, but am not.

Computer Frustrations

Yesterday, the family stopped at a Family Christian Stores location (we’d parked directly in front of it when heading to Souplantation — the same restaurant instantiated elsewhere as Sweet Tomatoes), where I picked up several new CDs. Given that the only CD players easily available are the ones in the cars, and other related reasons, the obvious first thing to do with these was to rip the contents into MP3s for loading onto my (and possibly robot_grrl‘s) iPod.

didn’t go as planned

It’s All Tara’s Fault

Yesterday or Thursday robot_grrl received two copies of a shirt she ordered from Chopshop on Etsy. Both featured the same print — profiles of a bunch of robots. One of the shirts was supposed to be Derrick’s, but ended up a large (mislabeled as extra-large) instead of small (or kids large) so its mine instead.

She also said I needed to look at their other stuff. While tonight, after spending sometime looking around, I thought I should complete my collection of similar shirts by getting the one with the aliens and the one with the vehicles. But if I got all three, I could save a buck.

Now we get to see if they will be nice enough to send us a complete set, but make the robot shirt a small instead of a large so that Derrick will be happy.

On the other hand, I hadn’t planned on buying more t-shirts tonight.

Odd Thought

As I’ve mentioned here and here, I’ve been playing around with ideas for a Top Secret/S.I. adventure that I might be able to run at conventions and possibly other places.

One thing I’ve gone ahead and done — in some ways the most practical thing I’ve done — is generate some PCs. I did this since having a known group of PCs will help with my planing (even if I have no clue how they will actually play given unknown players) and will save having to create PCs and explain that part of the rules. In my very limited experience playing games at cons (one GURPS adventure at Dorkstock/RockCon a few years back and the RPGA D&D 4e game last February), at least half the time PCs are generated for the game.

So the characters I have so far as PCs are (and remember this is set in 1986): A retired SEAL Chief Petty Officer (or perhaps Master Chief, I don’t remember which rank I decided on), who is of mixed race and has a 14-year-old son (wife deceased); A lanky computer geek with a karate black belt, who just graduated from Cal Tech; A former child star who ended up addicted to danger instead of drugs; and an FBI agent who somehow ended up not in the normal Bureau who comes to work with a 70 pound German Shepherd.

Just now, it occurred to me that if instead of a RPG game/campaign set in 1986 but written in 2009, but a TV show produced when it takes place, the casting would be interesting. One thought would be to try to cast a real former child star in the role of the former child star.

Oddly enough, I could believe a producer successfully pitching this concept in 1986.

Furry Sighting?

This evening, I ended up wandering around the nearby mall, Plaza Camino Real, because I decided I needed a different cell phone case. {My phone case jumped off my belt this morning — fortunately in the car, not the train some other bad place}

As I was leaving, I noticed a couple who’d walked out a minute or so before. But what drew my eye to them was the fact that both were sporting wolf tails. To the best of my recollection, this is the first time I’ve seen people wearing these kind of tails (or any other kind of tail) when not at least proximate to some sort of a convention.

I am making the assumption that a couple who would sport tails would be considered “furry,” but I suspect that at least for some values of “furry” this is a safe assumption.

Wearing wolf tails in public is probably no more of a problem than someone who wears a Star Fleet uniform, or some other kind of garb in public when not at, or going to or from, some sort of an event. The tails are only going to be visible from a few angles, where as a complete costume is visible from most directions.

On Foreign Names, Old Maps, etc.

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been thinking around an idea for an RPG spy adventure set in 1986. Having some free time this afternoon, I was poking around on the next trying to find some useful information. Of course I’m running into difficult to quickly find information.

First, I went to see if I could find an online source that would show me street maps from 1986 for L.A. or, ideally, much of Southern California. Of course everyone online is trying to give me the most up to date data, and even if they have the older data, they don’t seem to want to make it available. I may just have to made educated guesses what was as wasn’t around 23 years ago.

One positive response, and not to surprisingly, I was quickly able to confirm that 1986 would be a good year to use. While it was after Gorbachev was General Secretary (defacto leader of the USSR), it was before Glasnost making much of what was going on at least appear to be “business as usual” from the outside. (I lived through that era and was in college, but the exact years do take some double checking).

But my next query started coming up a bit dryer. I wanted to find a woman’s name that would have the same initials as Главное Разведывательное Управление (Glavnoje Razvedyvatel’noje Upravlenije or GRU). I did find a decent reference on Russian names which pretty much confirms what I knew — the third name would be a family name, and the second name would be a patronymic. But finding a common woman’s name that begins with “Г,” a common man’s name that begins with “Р” and a common family name that begins with “У” has proven to be more difficult. Actually, I did find family names.

On the other hand, finding the actual Cyrillic for GRU (and KGB and probably most of the others I’d want) was just a simple search in wikipedia.

Of course, if I wanted to continue to be authentic, I’d have to also find at least a few Polish names — both names that would be in use by Polish consular officials during the mid-eighties, and a Polish family name that would make sense for an immigrant entering the US early in the 20th century. I think I have an OK handle on American names (if nothing, I’ve got access to lists of common names and a program that combines them nicely).

Then again, when all is said and done, just making something that looks/sounds good might well be more than good enough.

Looking in 20 year old boxes

For some reason, I’ve been starting to think I might be able to pull off some sort of a one-shot Spy game adventure somewhere along the line.

OK, I’ll give you some of the reasoning

Out of the Darkness Walk

This morning, I walked in San Diego’s 5K Out of the Darkness walk for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

It was a good walk, and it felt good both to take a nice walk and to support a good cause. The weather in Mission Bay park was just about perfect, not too hot but not too cool, and sunny. The walk was easy since it was a consistent 1 to 3 feet above sea level and on sidewalk or occasionally grass.

There was a very emotional talk afterwards by one of the survivors, remembering both her brother and how she felt and has dealt with it. But overall, it was an uplifting event.

At times I did feel a bit outside since I haven’t been personally touched by suicide, even with clinical depression not uncommon in my family (or self). But I think that those of us who believe that we need to be taking efforts to prevent suicide and helping with the survivors — that is people whose loved ones have taken their own lives.

There were a few rather heartbreaking scenes. Probably the hardest was when I was walking behind a very happy, bouncy and beautiful eight or nine-year-old girl who was wearing a “I’m walking in honor of …” sticker on which was written “my grandpa.” I couldn’t help looking at this girl and thinking how could someone kill himself with a beautiful granddaughter like here around?

As part of the walk, people were encouraged to take strings of beads that identified their relationship with the suicide, or a string of blue beads for those of us just supporting the cause. Both Tara and I also noticed quite a few people wearing multiple strings of different colors, showing that they’d lost more than one loved one or friend


After the walk, the family debated on where to go to eat. After checking through our books of coupons, we decided to try Casa Guadalajara in Old Town. So we drove the short distance to Old Town, parking under the freeway in the transit center parking lot. We then walked (after a couple of unexpected and unmarked on the map dead ends) to the restaurant. After eating we wandered around first some of the shops near the park, and then into the park.

For better or worse, the park was hosting an arts and crafts fair this weekend, so was both more crowded than the last time I was there 10 or 11 years ago, and had booths filling most of the central plaza area. But we did look in a few shops — including one selling a lot of Victorian and western type wear that had both a hat and vest I’d be tempted to pick up as part of a steam punk type costume, and one that sold boots that I might be able to wear and would work with that kind of costume better than either my day to day shoes or my bald mountain moccasin.

We ended our time in the park with some ice cream — actually shakes for Derrick and I — and headed home.

All in all, a pretty good day.

The Missing Link

Last night when I posted about the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention walk, I neglected to include the link to the donation page.

Here is the link:


American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Walk

One last beg 🙂

This Saturday (i.e. in less than 1.5 days), I’m walking for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

robot_grrl has been brow beating me for not doing more to get people to donate, so I’m putting out one more plea (well two if you get this on Facebook where I also just directly posted).

I can offer two reasons, besides that this is just a good cause, why you should support me.

First, while I fortunately haven’t been personally touched by Suicide, I’m still sensitive to it (and I’m not exactly sure why). But if you have, this would be a good way to keep it from taking any more people you know. Suicide is a killer, just as much as many diseases.

Second, if you support me on this, I’ll be that much more inclined to support you in your cause later.

Thank You very much
Ron O