return of the slimes

If any of you were like me back in 1989 sitting in front of the TV with your NES powered up, playing Dragon Warrior, then we should talk. Just in case you’re not sure, here’s a Rorschach test of sorts for you:

fight the red slime!

Does that picture make you twitch? Awaken some dark memory in the recesses of your brain? Then you’re like me, and you should definitely check out the latest iteration of this same franchise, 16 years later: Dragon Quest VIII. Square Enix is still the publisher, and there are still frickin’ slimes!

new high-tech slimes

And drackies! You know you remember the drackies. Apparently Square is doing all they can to cash in on nostalgia just such as this and has actually produced a slime controller

slime controller

I’m not saying you should buy this for me for christmas. But I’m also not saying you shouldn’t.

texas turkey tour

It was a whirlwind tour.

Day 1: Fly out, arrive in Austin 5pm. Proceed to parents house. Socialize. Watch excellent slide show prepared by my parents. Discover that even at 7 days I was a master face contortionist:

bryan as baby making face

Which goes a long way toward explaining this infamous pic:

adult crazy bryan

Then we ate a late (8pm) early (Tuesday) thanksgiving dinner with all the expected accouterments. It was delicious and incorporated a lot of good catching up with my parents. We headed out after dinner for drinks with friends at Trudy’s (a classic), and managed to rustle up most of the remaining people we knew in Austin. We stayed and talked ’til about 1, then threw in the towel.

Day 2: We woke and puttered while waiting for my mom to give us (very graciously) her car for the rest of the trip. When she did, we headed downtown. I left Les at Schlotzsky’s (also a classic; you’re sensing a trend perhaps?) and had lunch with an old friend at Ruby’s, because in Cali people’s idea of BBQ is anything that involves charcoal. Then I took Leslie down to Opal Divine’s on 6th and took myself on a self-guided tour of campus. It was weird–not the first time of done the walk-around-your-old-campus-reminiscing thing, but the last time I did it it was less than a year after I’d graduated, and I really felt sort of displaced then. I wanted to still belong, but didn’t. This time, I knew I didn’t belong, and felt like an outside observer. I went to see a few people at the place where I used to work, and chatted with an old professor, and realized that my time at UT had really passed into some former version of me, one that I’m not anymore. That was a bit sad but mostly encouraging; I want to know that I’m still not fully baked. So I stopped by the co-op (which has expanded so much that it took over the Barnes and Nobel next door) and unabashedly bought a couple of UT shirts. Now that it’s a closed chapter of my life, I can lord it over people like a real alum :).

I retreived Leslie and we hit the road. She was anxious to get on the way, and the traffic had settled down by 5 or so when we left. We made good headway, except for slowdowns in almost every town/city on the way to Dallas, and pulled in just under the wire (about 9:30) for dinner at Cisco, one of three restaurants that Les’s parents own. It was great, I got a cap and good beer, then we went home, collapsed.

Day 3: Turkey day! I slept in until 9 or so, woke up, scoffed grinch-like at the Macy’s parade, mellowed out with an excellent bloody mary courtesy of Marc, then enjoyed an absurdly good “dinner” around 1pm with Leslie’s family. After dodging all of the dishes by launching plastic leaves at each other around the table, we packed up and headed out to the ranchlet for some ping-pong, football, and bonfire. Oh, and leftovers.

Day 4: More leftovers. Climbing in the car, girding myself for some more driving (my back is calling out for some yoga at this point), we head down to Austin again. Some xmas shopping at the cool little strip that south congress has become (would you like a “keep austin weird” hat, bumper sticker, shirt, thong, or postcard? You’re in luck), chilled, exhausted, at a coffee shop on 4th that in another incarnation Leslie and I had our first date at, and finally headed down to Lisa and Eric’s place for fun with dogs and excellent alfredo. We went home, tired from our travels, and were about to hit the sack in preparation for our 6:30 flight the next morning when I got a call from a HS friend, so I headed down to a pub until about midnight, then home for a few hours of sleep.

Day 5: stumble out of bed at 4:30. Stuff happens. Home again around 9am. the end.

Be sure to check the gallery.

25 years

A quarter century. And I’m still in no danger of being grown up anytime soon. Heck, I’m still in school. This is the life. Friday I had a merged birthday with Haley, a friend from Berkeley who happens to share a birthday in the “everyone’s already home for Thanksgiving” danger zone. It was cool–we started out in a nice Chinese place (I hardly ever eat Chinese these days for some reason), then moved on to Spats for board games. Then we moved on back to my apartment with Doug, Phil, and Nelson in tow for some “Mario Party 7.” Yes, seven. I am vaguely aware that they keep making this game, continually feeding their party game base, but attaching a number greater than three to a game requires Final Fantasy-like hubris. I suppose if anyone can do that it’s Nintendo on their own platform.

Another awesome gift, from Jeff:

They are doortags for my office at Berkeley. Each one has velcro on the back for easy swapping based on mood or season. They are so cool!

On Saturday I had a celebration with Leslie. She laid out a plan for the whole day, kicking things off with a matinee of the new Harry Potter movie, which I was quite entertained by–I’ve managed not to become jaded by special effects some how, and appreciate them more than ever when they’re done well or at least to good cinematic effect, which they certainly were for the movie. Then we went to a cool new bar downtown called Beckett’s for some Boddington’s, then finally on to a swanky new restaurant in down town called (appropriately) Downtown. We had some absurdly good pork short ribs and salmon, along with some awesome Hefewiesen, and rounded things out with ginger-pear shortcake. Mmm.

This morning I’m off to Texas. It’ll be my first time back in Austin since May of 2004–that’s my longest time away ever. I’m sure it still has it’s old charm.

1TB of goodness

I’ve seen many harddrives come and go during my life-long fascination with computers. The first one I used was 30MB, the first one I bought with my own money was an 850MB Conner (remember them?). I even had a classic of HD history, the IBM Deathstar, and mine did end up failing in the classic way.

I stopped stressing so much about storage when I built a 3x120GB array when we moved to California. The idea was to have a bit of redundancy (I used RAID 5 for parity information) and enough storage (actually only 240GB, you lose one disk worth of capacity to get the redundancy). It wasn’t cheap, but also didn’t cost that much and I was able to build an all-purpose Linux file server and router/firewall.

Well believe it or not, It’s been over two years since I built that thing and I was at about 80% capacity with more files coming all the time. Luckily, a hard drive fairy from heaven gave me 4 gently used 250GB Hitachi 7K250 drives. I paired these with a super-cheap four-port SATA card (no fancy hardware RAID or anything) and using the great software RAID setup on Linux, brought the 1 terabyte beast to life:

This pic is from the somewhat painful process of getting my data from the old array onto the new one. Since I only have 3 PCI slots on the board, and they were all occupied, I had to give up internet access by pulling out the NIC while I was doing the transfer. Even better, I had to buy multiple power splitters to get all seven drives going at once. Now the new drives are tucked away neatly and the old 120GB PATA drives are moping in the closet. Of course, I had to sacrifice one drive’s worth of storage to redundancy info, but 750GB is still nothing to sneeze at. Now I’ve got a place to stash all those dual-layered DVDs from netflix until blanks come down in price a bit.


Yes, it has come to this. To comment on overt now you have to prove that you’re not a machine. I’m using both one of those type-in-code thingys and also running comments through Spamassassin. Always with the arms race, naughty little spammers.

halloween shenanigans

George is in town and we had an action-packed weekend. We kicked things off Friday with a trip in to San Francisco to visit Toronado, a bar that is close to the hearts of Doug and Nelson. It had an amazing selection of beer, which was awesome, but according to some law of bars they continually turned up the music from about 9pm when I got there until 11:30 when I left, at which point it was almost intolerably loud.

On Sunday we went to the dia de los muertos festival in Fruitvale (a neighborhood in Oakland), saw altars, ate greasy food, had a good time all around. Here are some skulls that kids made of their favorite dead (note 2pac):


On Halloween itself we girded ourselves for one more trip… this time to the infamous (and gigantic) Halloween party in the Castro. We went a bit early, had dinner and plenty of margaritas at the excellent, very Texas-feeling Puerto Alegre in the Mission, then headed to the Castro for the madness. There are some pics up on gallery, but I’ll leave you with a pic of my lame costume (some sort of scary pink rabbit creature, don’t ask me:

rabbit costume