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James Mastros

Nov. 6th, 2008

02:44 am - Random thought of the day

#themaxx
02:41 < theorbtwo> Sometimes there isn't enough people slots in by brain, it seems, so I get multiple pidgens in the same pidgenhole in strange ways.

Jul. 22nd, 2008

08:26 pm - Mario Kart Wii

We've had this on backorder for a while, and it's finally come in. If you want to be our Mario Kart Wii friends, our driver's license IDs are 1032-3067-5359 for me, and... nevermind, castaway is being annoyingly paranoid, and doesn't want hers posted publicly. Please respond here with yours, or give it to me privately, if you add me. Thanks! (Dorward, I'm looking at you, and Rozallin, if you've got Kart, I can't remember if you do or not.)

Jul. 21st, 2008

01:20 am - My Weekend, Part 1: Friday.

Hello, folks. This is going to be a series of somewhat long posts, I think. I had a rather eventful weekend, full of interesting things, and I want to retell it, both to share it with you guys, and to, hopefully, help myself remember. Jess took a half-day off work Friday, and when she returned home, around 1, we set about having some lunch, and, in fairly considerable hurry, attempted to pack for the weekend, running around like chickens with our heads cut off -- neither of us is very good at packing in advance, and somehow the weekend seemed to sneak up on us, and catch us unawares, like the Prince of Persia, playing with his sand of time.
We drove toward London, with me finding out on the way that the plan was now to drop the car off in Ealing, take the tube into central london, do our first event of the evening (I don't want to spoil the surprise for you, gentle readers!), return to Ealing, and then drive to Tonbridge. I both thought this was a silly plan, and was rather annoyed to find about it almost literally at the last minute -- well after it was too late to change it, and only somewhat before we turned off the M25 rather early to be going to Tonbridge. Really, though, I was arguing because I was stressed. I argued that I hadn't been kept in the loop during planning, and that Jess shouldn't have planned a weekend away with nothing in it for me... the first wasn't fair, and the second, as it turns out, was just completely wrong, as I had a lovely time at all the things planned that I thought I'd not much like. (Well, except for the one that didn't happen.) I always stress at the beginning of a trip -- I worry that it's underplanned, or overplanned, and that I won't have any fun. I worry that I won't be able to sleep, that I won't get along with the other people around. I worry that I don't speak the language, and that everyone hates forigners. I worry, in short, about anything and everything.
Anyway, we go to Ealing, sat in a traffic jam for a while, and eventually got to the bit were we knew there was generally parking available, got in the tube (fortunately, there was a District line train in the station when we arrived), and got to Totenham Court Road stop, and walked toward Dorward's office. Unfortunately, we turned the wrong direction down the street it was on, and, after finding 230 and 235, but not 233 (numbers changed to protect the innocent. Also, because I can't remember them), we called him, eventually discovered we were on the wrong side, and... found David, walking along the street toward us... and I'm being too verbose.
Had a nice dinner at Hamburger Union (dispite poor table service -- not assinging tables to waiters makes nobody feel responsible, and not writing down orders is just a bad idea). Then walked across Leicester Square to the Garrick Theatre, and saw Zorro, which was nothing short of wonderful. The plot is original, dispite it being a retelling of a very old and much told story. The leading ladies were both beutiful, and sung wonderfuly. The poster only shows one of them. The other got robbed. (I broke one of my rules for this post -- to just write -- to find their names, and give a few good links. http://www.zorrothemusical.com/is the site of the play. Emma Williams and Lesli Margherita are the two women in question.) The songs are beutiful -- I shall buy the CD, I think, as soon as I have positive budget again. The special effects, and swordfighting, David says, were wonderful for the stage. I simply think that the special effects were well-used, and the swordfighting was very rarely so bad that I was distracted from the mood by it -- though, no doubt, if they actually fought at all like that, their swords would be too dull to cut cheese with by the end. The humor was mostly well used, and only rarely approached cheesey -- whereas I expected, from a musical, for it to be constantly well beyond cheesy.
By the end, I, and most of the audience, was in a standing ovation, claping along to the strange (to me, anyway) post-end dance routine, occasionally breaking into simply claping at the actors, and hooting.... and then more of the same, only less orginized, once the band stopped playing and came on-stage for their own applause. (At which point, I note, that surrounding Zorro himself were the not-exactly-leading lady, and the head of the music, with the leading lady proper reduced to fourth rank.) (BTW, the praise I heap on the second leading lady is not to say the first was bad -- she gave a wonderful performance, portraying the great love of Zorro's life as beutiful and sweet, but with guts and idealisim -- feminine without being weak. It's just that, as the leading lady, I would be surprised if she wasn't good. As a character which is simply not present in the legend of zorro (and I don't mean the film!), and wasn't on the poster, I don't expect Inez to be anything but a voice in the crowd most of the time, and she was never just anything.
Anyway... after that, I went directly to Tonbridge with David, while Jess went back to Ealing to get the car -- she said she liked to drive alone, and I was happy to spend some time with David. We chatted a fair bit -- about Dr Horrible, about work (and how some might do me good), about getting out (I should do more of it... but travel is a pain in the ass). We played Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones on his Wii while Jess drive home... and almost missed her ringing, because she couldn't remember where his parking space was. Then we watched Dr Horrible (Jess hadn't seen part 2 or 3, I hadn't seen 3). I can't believe he eneded it like that (I shan't specify further, in case anyone here hasn't seen it)... and then went to sleep, it being around 1:30 by then. (I didn't sleep very well, I'm afraid -- somewhat narrow bed, and the sleeping bags are noisy when you toss and turn.)
Thus ended my Friday, and this LJ entry.

Jun. 26th, 2008

11:46 am

You can thank rozallin for giving me a little nudge to finally post this -- our wii ID is 5748 1321 8163 2111, for anybody that wants to add me to their wii address book. If you've got a wii, then start it, envelope icon, create message, address book. That'll give you your number, post it to your LJ, and comment here if you add me.
Thanks!
We've had our wii about a month now, and got Zelda: Twilight Princess. I'm addicted. I think Jess likes it in some ways, but she finds the controls cumbersome. I was thinking that perhaps when the reprap is working (yes, using the word "when" instead of "if" is wishful thinking), I could scoop the electronics out of a wiimote and nunchuck and put them back together differently, with a more castaway-ergonomic case. (Well, I wouldn't start there, but that'd be a goal -- I'd probably start with a modified battery door that has bits for the classic controller to clip onto.)
Anyway, wii fun, hacking on wii data also fun.

Jun. 1st, 2008

02:29 pm - Another update!

Time to try to write another entry updating you lot, my readers, on my
life. Most of this entry is going to be personal, so you might want
to skip past it if you're interested mostly in my technical
exploits... but then again, I'm not sure there are many such people
who have me on their friends list. (I should write more of that kind
of entry too, but, well, hopefully I'll have better things to do for
the next while.)
On Thursday, I flew away from England and my wonderful girlfriend, for
a solo vacation, my first time, in essence, spending a large chunk of
time away from her, on purpose, for nearly five years. This is
proving to be both scary and liberating... but back to a slightly
more linear narative.
The airport was as airports often are -- too early in the morning, too
crowded, and full of security theatre and invasion of privacy. We had
to leave the house at 8 AM, and I'd gotten little sleep the night
before, both through nerviousness and simply not being on the right
schedule. Going through initial security, I was surprised to find
that they wanted shoes off, but didn't mind the laptop being in the
backpack with other stuff. Presumably, they (LHR T4) had gotten new
machines. Dispite putting all metal objects in the tray, including
*everything* from my pockets, my jacket, and my belt, I got a beep
from the metal detector, and a very quick pat-down. They must have
had the machines set horribly sensitive, because as far as I can tell
very nearly everybody got pat down, but they were quite quick about it.
I went to a W. H. Smith's, and got a soda. They asked me where I was
going, and if they could see a boarding pass; I don't know if that's
their own statistics, or some strange new security procedure. The
soda exploded when I tried to open it. (NSA, MI4: Not a bomb,
overcarbination, calm down.)
The flight itself was fairly nice, dispite me being in the middle of a
set of three seats, with strangers on both sides of me. I read a fair
bit of _The Book Theif_, and almost all of _Sandman: The Wake_. The
former I didn't want to get to the really scary/depressing bits of
yet, and the later I just didn't want to be over. I also saw Charlie
Wilson's War -- which is quite exelent -- think of the writing of The
West Wing (a well-written west wing, at that), mixed with the antihero
character of Iron Man, and without American "oh my god, we can't show
*tits*" sensibilities. It's hilarious, sheds some light on a
generally ignored part of American history, is realistic, has some
great acting, and some good writing. Also saw (most of) Nick Cage
Goes Treasure Hunting: Book of Secrets. It was decent mindless fun.
I kind of got one of the puzzles, but most of them simply seem to be
not for the audience -- they don't give you the information to solve
them until mere moments before the answer is revealed. Anyway, decent
mindless fun, which was what I wanted at the time.
Also spent a little bit of time talking to the passengers on either
side, but purticularly to the left. She was a british woman,
traveling to the US for the first time to visit her daughter, who'd
just finished her first semester at an American university --
somewhere in southern NJ, didn't catch where. She needed help filling
out her paperwork, which I was happy to provide, having filled it out
many times.
My parents picked me up at PHL, and we drove back to Lancaster,
stopping on the way for subs, which were quite good... silly England,
no place to get a good sub. Watched an episode of Lost off of their
tivo, caught up with Jess some, and went to bed. Didn't sleep very
well, I'm afraid. This bed is too damn hard, and I'm never good at
sleeping not in my bed.
The next day, woke up early, talked to Jess online, my father made me
toast, talked to Jess some more, took a nap from noon to two (and
thankfully slept a bit better), and then drove to my parent's condo.
They're fixing it up prior to selling it. (When it floods for the
*second* time, you have to consider it a sign... and as much time as
they were spending in it, they could have gotten a *very* nice hotel
room every time, and still come out ahead.) Anyway, helped them put
the vent back on the washer-dryer and put it into place, then they
dropped me off at my Aunt Linda's. We went out to dinner, her having
informed her daughter and husband they weren't invited, and had some
time to catch up, and for her to offer some sage advice (to my ears
only, sorry, dear readers). Then spent the evening having further
chatting with her, and with Dave (her husband, who I should probably
call Uncle Dave once in a while), over some nice coffee. Didn't sleep
well that night either, possibly, in part, due to the coffee.
Yesterday, got up, had some bagels, played on the Wii a bit with Lea
(who has grown up so much -- she's ten now, and talks like a grown-up
instead of a little kid).
Then, in the afternoon, went to my cousin Jess / Jessie / Jessamyn's
birthday party. She's just turned 23, which is a bit scary -- my
litttle cousin isn't allowed to be 23, *I'm* supposed to be 23!!
Anyway, had fun talking with her, her friends, and my various
relations on my mother's side. My grandfather seems to be doing
pretty well -- I've been a bit worried, after hearing rumours of his
ill-health. I'm a bit proud of myself for getting along fairly well
with Jess's friends, who seem like quite a nice bunch generally -- but
I'm usually very shy and non-outgoing, and large groups of new people
scare me a bit... but I think they mostly actually liked me, and I
didn't get any "go away" vibes, which I am, if anything, oversensitive
to. (So, if you're reading this, thanks for the good time, Jessie,
Sarah, Vanessa, A. J., R[ao]y, and the others I didn't catch the name of.)
Then, of course, made a bit of a fool of myself by returning after I'd
said my goodbyes to use the bathroom before going for the long trip
home, and then *again* because I'd realized that I forgot the bag
containing used clothes, and far more importantly my wallet and laptop.)
Came home, by way of a diner, with my parents, watched an episode of
BSG, and the series permier of Lost (no further information will be
given here on either, becuase if you haven't seen them, I don't want
to spoil, and because if you've seen them, then they stand perfectly
well on their own). Also, before that, had a nice chat with Sara (not
the one at the party, my sister)!
Now, looking forward to seeing Donna for the first time in far too
long, over dinner, and wondering what else I'm going to do today...
other then gettting dressed, eating breakfast, and hopefully finding
Jess at home and talkative, and, of course, posting this entry (which
was written in a text editor sitting in bed without wifi).
UPDATE: Donna had to call off tonight, for personal reasons (read: ones she shared with me, but I'm not going to share with you). Knock wood we can reschedule.

May. 27th, 2008

12:13 pm - Trying an update for once

Allo, all!
I'm going to try something very strange, and actually inform people of what's going on in my life.
If you like knowing what's going on in my life, please make some sort of comment on this entry.
Wii bought a wii this wiikend after playing wiif dawiid's. I made Jess panic by reading lots about it's internals and how to hack it, but she was assauged after a while, mostly by assuring her that I do know a fair bit about the associated dangers (and how to avoid them), and wasn't planning on doing anything rash. Mostly, it's just that I like learning about this sort of thing.
We went to David's this weekend, for two and a half days of gaming, drinking, and watching the Eurovision Song Contest. This last may suprise some people, who know that David's taste in music runs toward musicals, and away from pop, or those who know that eurovision is mostly horrible music. (The rest of you will wonder what Eurovision is, and I suggest they go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eurovision_Song_Contest_2008 and read up.)
Naturally, Eurovision is treated by the British largely as a perfect oppurtunity to get drunk, and complain about bad music, bad decisions of contries on how to put on their act, and how nobody in Europe likes them enough to vote for them. This is pretty obvious, if you listen to Terry Wogan, who has been doing the comentation for BBC TV for Eurovision every year since 1973. To quote wikipedia... well, I tried looking for a good quote, but the whole four paragraphs at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terry_Wogan#Eurovision_Song_Contest are fun. He "is particularly noted for his sardonic and highly cynical commentaries".
Also, David GMed a session of Rune Quest, which started quite shaky, but got distinctly better as it went along. He hadn't done his homework, and is inexperinced at GMing in general. Additionally, he's only played the game once, and his players hadn't played it at all. Given that, he probably did quite well, and the berating I gave him for GMing poorly either did it's job or was undeserved... I think I'll go with the former.
Also, played two games of Mists of Avalon, an interesting (mostly) cooperative game, which tries to encourage "role-playing", which quickly turns into sticking lots of "thees" and "thous" in, but is decidedly funny. Andy, dispite it being his second game, had quite a bit of fun being the hidden trator the second game. Played also quite a bit on David's wii, and a game of On the Underground with Chris.

Feb. 28th, 2008

10:59 am

I'm seriously considering now what I've been not-so-seriously considering for some time now, starting a course of study at The Open University. It seems so expensive, though. The first course I'd take is http://www3.open.ac.uk/courses/bin/p12.dll?C01MST121 -- 340 GBP for a 4-month course. I realize this isn't much money compared to an American education, or what many people spend on, well, many things. I don't like spending money on myself, because I don't actually work. My current monthly budget is 96.14GBP/mo, this course would be 85GBP/mo. On the other hand, it'd mean a 25% discount on our council tax bill, which works out to 229 GBP...
Or would it? It seems to be for "full-time" students. What's full-time? Do I have to not claim it for the few months there seem to be between courses? Does it pro-rate over a full year, does it only count if I spend more then X amount of the year as a student and then it's on full? How much will the council kick my ass if I forget to tell them that I'm no longer taking courses?
(If I assume that course covers 1/2 year in both council tax time and working on degree time, then it works out to actually saving money -- is this really an accurate model?)
rozallin, I'm hoping you can help me with this?

Feb. 16th, 2008

05:53 pm - Two Announcements!

1: I've just gotten myself a mobile phone. The number is +44 75 282 099 37. For those who live in the UK and don't like properly formated international phone numbers, 07528209937. If you think you should be on my phone, ping me.

2: I've been working on a little web app called CSF, or Cross-Site Friends for long. It allows you to declare your username on various social networks, and helps people who are friends on one of them find you on the others, and contrarywise helps you find those other people.

Please, set yourself up on it, http://desert-island.me.uk:8000/csf/. Tell me what you find confusing, what you don't like about. Tell me what other sites you wish were on there, and perhaps I'll add them -- sadly, in some cases, I'll tell you why I can't add them. Tell your friends about it. Be fruitful, and multiply. Have fun.

Dec. 19th, 2007

06:04 am - On Vox: I'm coming to a revalation...

I'm coming to a revalation.  When I'm depressed, it's not all about depressed lonely bored like I've been thinking.  I think a decent bit of it is afraid.  I spent all day yesterday awake, but got almost nothing done because I was so horribly afraid I'd mess it up... even though the small logical part of my brain knew that there was almost no downside to messing it up -- oh no, my code doesn't work, I loose some of the music I've been testing with (which is backed up anyway), or more likely, it doesn't work obviously, or at worst, I loose the tags.  You know, the wrong ones I'm attmepting to correct.
No, though, I'm not afraid of the actual consequences of failure.  I'm afraid of having to admit to myself that I'm not so good at coding.  Not that anybody else consistantly produces code that works the first time either, because I know that isn't true (and now my brain is telling me that yeah, all sorts of people do, but I know that's not true either.)
Oh, haven't brushed yet today; this started running into my head as soon as I opened my eyes, almost, and has been running out of my fingers ever since I opened the page almost as fast as I could physically type it; and that's rather fast.
So, yeah, horribly afirad of failure, even when the consequnces of failure are horribly low.  I can't even begin to talk about the things I've lately failed to do because the consequnces of failure seem slightly higher, because of the consequnces of failing to do the telling right.  OTOH, I might be right about that.
(I think, BTW, I'll go back to my original plan and only blog about brushing my teeth when I fail to.  I'm boring all of you horribly, I'm sure.)

Originally posted on theorbtwo.vox.com

Dec. 15th, 2007

10:23 am - On Vox: Day 3: In which, er, I run out of titles

Brushed.  Slept on and off last actual-night, some bits between 4AM and 9AM, and I think that's more or less it. Jess got home early yesterday, which was a nice change of pace, and we had a reasonably good, fairly lazy, evening.  We finished the second part of the two-hour (but really only one part) pilot of Brisco County, Jr.  I originally described it to Jess as a sci-fi western, but nothing like Firefly.  While that's somewhat accurate, it's not terribly so.  (Hey, I haven't seen it in around 14 years!)  It's certainly a western, being set in the 1880s, and it certainly has sciencey elements, with a professional scientist, an amateur rocketeer, and a mysterious professor having speaking roles in the first three hours.  It has a wonderful sense of progress too, as befits it's general theme, but also it's time -- a time when the world, or at least the western united states, was just starting an inward migration, toward cities, and becoming less of a frontier-justice sort of place.
Cutting this short now, as it's time to get going to London, as discussed on Day 2: In which I think it's friday.  See you tommorow.

Originally posted on theorbtwo.vox.com

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