journal for 2002-08-28


Well, I missed my Monday update, and kinda with good reason. There isn’t much by way of good reason for waiting until now to write anything, but that’s just too bad. I’m on vacation.

Last weekend was pretty uneventful. We saw XXX, but I don’t remember much else worth mentioning… well, no, that’s not true. I’d playing Bad Spelling eBay, the game in which I look for items being auctioned under poorly-spelled names. Since people can’t find the items when they search properly, they often get very few bids. I learned about this when building my Trivial Pursuit collection—every once in a while, I’d find an item listed as Trivial Persuit. There was even a guy in the UK who did it over and over, and never got bids. I sent him a polite email explaining his problem, but I’m not sure what ended up happening. I hope he finally moved his VHS Star Trek Trivial Persuit tape. (“L@@K! NEW MIB!”) Man, eBay bugs me, sometimes.

Anyway, I was bidding on a “DREAM CAST,” which is basically the same thing as a Dreamcast, but cheaper. Unfortunately, there was one other person onto my find, and they didn’t seem to get the beauty of Bad Spelling eBay: you never bid as much for an badly spelled auction as the normal item, because the person listing it probably isn’t too bright, and might be a pain to deal with. My opposition bid something like $50, finally, and I dropped out.

This was actually to my advantage. Forlorn, I went to the mall and found that EBX was selling Dreamcasts with a funky promotion: buy $75 in used Dreamcast gear and get the system for free. I spent about half an hour, or more, picking out the games and gear I wanted, only to be told that they were out of systems. Downstairs, they had systems, but no games. Fortunately, they were happy to let me get games upstairs and the system downstairs. I got Sonic, Chu Chu Rocket, Shenmue, and Jet Grind Radio.

Shenmue needs more time, but I think I’m going to end up filing it with Resident Evil: good game, ruined by its controls. People should test their gameplay on real gamers before just deciding that it’s innovative and therefore good. As for the other games, I like them all. Sonic is a little weak, and Chu Chu needs to be played with friends, I think, but they’re good. The system was definitely a good buy.

On Monday, my sister came by for help getting her crufty old Gateway working with her new scanner and digital camera. Unfortunately, they USB, and the machine had no USB. We sped over to the mall (scary!) and headed in to Circuit City, where a demo GCN was set up with Mario Sunshine. I played it briefly, and decided it did, indeed, seem Righteous. The next day, when I got voicemail telling me the games (Mario and Monkey Ball 2) were ready for pick-up at EBX, time seemed to slow down to a near crawl. Then there was an accident on the bridge on route 22 near the mall. Finally, though, I got the games.

I’ve played through about 17 shine gets, and it’s pretty righteous—but cruelly difficult, as always. I’ve never been very good at Mario games. I’m not sure I can think of any Mario game that managed to beat, really. I’m hoping that I can beat this one—after all, Mario games aren’t that much more difficult than Zelda, are they?

I’ve only played a little MB2. After making it through Beginner without continuing, and then making it through all the Extra levels, I forgot to save! Having MB1 set on auto-save for so long made my brain soft; I lost about eight hundred play points. I’m hoping I can get up to 2500 and unlock one of the new games before my cousin comes by to game, tomorrow.

der zauberberg

I think the receipt is in the book; I should check. In the meantime, I’ll trust my memory: I bought The Magic Mountain about five years ago, during my freshman year of college. I’m still reading it. I read it in bursts. It’s not incredibly long, but it’s very rich, and something always distracts me. The book almost seems designed to be read that way. One of its central themes is the timelessness of life on the mountain, and I can pick up the book after a year of inactivity and drop right back in, as if no time passed.

I opened to my bookmarked page and dropped a few pages back to get to a chapter break. Before I started reading, I could only remember two character names, Castorp and Chauchat. Within two pages, I remembered a dozen. At the mention of Naphta and Settembrini, I recalled whole chapters of narrative. Once I finish this book, I think I will begin reading it again. It is definitely one of the Greats.


God help me, I actually went down to Sand Island today and played a little basketball with some of the guys from work. It was raining, so we were all sliding around on the court, and Jimmy kept letting the ball slip through his fingers, but it was fun. It made me wish I was just a little more athletic, so I could’ve been a little more involved with the game. I mean, I ran around and tried to look useful, but I was not, clearly. Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s much chance of me becoming a good basketball player in the near future – there’s no one with whom I could play enough to learn. (Sound familiar? c.f., chess, go.)


I also finally got in the USB hard drive I’d ordered. I forgot to think about how slow USB 1 really is. The hard drive’s enclosure is 2.0, but the USB hubs on all my machines at home and work are all 1.0; it took something like 15 hours to duplicate my 50 GB of music. Fortunately, I now have all my music at home on disk, and everything is just a few keystrokes away. I also ran mdxi’s mfn util on it (after making some tweaks) and did some reorganizing. With a little more work, this might really become a nice, useful trove.

Written on August 28, 2002