atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,
atomic_fungus
atomic_fungus

#241: Bits 'n' Pieces

In Neverwinter Nights I made a new character. I made her a female rogue and I made her cute and sweet and innocent...and chaotic evil (CE).

Such an alignment doesn't seem to impede the flow of the game at all. I guess the high-and-mighty of Neverwinter are just that desperate. But a CE character gets to do things like kill the annoying NPCs that crop up in the game, and doesn't have to mince words or pussyfoot around. Someone has something you need? Kill him and take it. Someone is annoyingly narcisstic? Kill her. That farmer's son keeps getting in your way and won't let you by without talking to you? Kill him. Problem solved.

Of course, being CE, the character--I named her "Dandi Lane"--is something of a psychopath. She exits the temple of Tyr in Port Llast and there's a peasant hanging around the temple--so she nails him with her crossbow, killing him instantly. After I knew I was done with the city of Neverwinter, I ran around killing civilians pretty much at random--particularly those goddamned Doomsayers, who really piss me off.

Dandi Lane started as a Rogue and took four levels of it; then she took four levels of Sorcerer. The nice thing about that is she got a familiar, and after perusing what was available I decided on a pixie.

The randomly-generated pixie names didn't appeal to me until I came across "Cron". Cron! One of my favorite Xenix boot messages was the one informing me that the time-of-day daemon, CRON, was running: "CRON started". It made me happy because it was the first real confirmation that I was almost done with an interminably long installation. When I saw that CRON was running, I knew it wouldn't be much longer.

So, the pixie's name is Cron. And Cron is surprisingly effective in combat.

Dandi, her lawful evil mercenary Grimgnaw, and Cron, were all exploring the aqueducts under Neverwinter when we ran into some Bloodsailors. They're pirates. There were four of them, and we took care of three in rapid order. One was 'way off to one side, shooting arrows at us, and Cron--who always flies--could make a beeline (pixie-line?) to where the bad guy was.

Before Grimgnaw--who's a badass monk of some evil deity--could get there, Cron had killed the guy.

Now imagine being in Hell when those four Bloodsailors show up:

1: I can't believe that girl killed me.
2: I know. That girl was pretty strong. The monk, that I get, but the GIRL?
3: Hey, Phil--which one got you?
Phil: [mumbles]
3: Eh?
Phil: The PIXIE GOT ME, OKAY???? OKAY, MR. FUCKING SKY PILOT???

* * *

Today I had to fix a Subaru.

My sister, brother-in-law, and their kids, had intended to leave for Maine on Sunday morning. Their car had other ideas. My sister spent some time with one of her friends Saturday night, and when she left there, the car would idle, badly, but would not move under its own power. And there was a strong reek of gasoline.

A little diagnostic work and a (pathetic) plea for advice to the Fiero forum yielded an educated guess: the coil pack had gone bad. Well, the front terminals, if the spark plug wires were removed, would produce big fat LONG sparks and the car would stall; removing the rear plug wires produced NO result and the car would keep running, albeit badly.

The coil pack ran $207 with tax, and it took five minutes to replace. The car ran a lot better with a new one; and I changed the oil because I knew it would have lots of gasoline in it. They insisted on paying me for my labor (I didn't try very hard to dissuade them) and so I asked for $50.

A shop? $120 for labor, easy, plus $200 for the part and $100 for the tow in; if they'd gotten their car back for less than $400 it would have been amazing. So I don't feel that bad.

The oil filter had been over-tightened, of course. I don't know if it crimped when I was taking it off or if it crimped when it was put on, but at least I know I did it all correctly.

Subarus seem to use the "H-4"--pancake 4, the same cylinder arrangement as the air-cooled Volkswagens--a lot, because they need room for all the four-wheel drive hardware. It makes for a nice compact engine, though, and it sounds exactly like a VW in many ways, especially from underneath.

The disadvantage is that I have no idea how one would change the spark plugs without at least elevating the engine. The fronts are possible, I suppose; the rears--no idea. At the rear cylinders, I could feel about 1.5 inches of room between the valve cover and the frame rail--not enough room to insert a spark plug socket on the 6" long extension which is required actually to reach the plug, deep inside....

VW engines put the spark plugs up on top--it meant they were closer to the side of the combustion chamber, but it made plug access easy. Because this engine is an overhead cam engine, the actual combustion chamber is buried under a lot of cylinder head; I don't know how practical it would be to put the plugs in a more accessible location. Besides, this thing is water-cooled and the cylinder head is where most of the heat is generated; you can't just put a spark plug wherever you want, anyway, but those issues complicate the matter even further.

* * *

The season premiere of Battlestar Galactica really didn't contain any surprises.

What bothers me about the story, at this point, is that it's starting to get too grim, and there are starting to be things which annoy the hell out of me.

Every season, so far, a "Boomer"/"Athena"/Sharon Valeri/Agathon has been shot. Grace Park's character has died on-camera at least five times, and each time it was accomplished in a grim way. This time her husband, Karl "Helo" Agathon, shot her, so she could "download" into a new body aboard the Cylon basestar where their daughter Hera was. It was pretty crappy, and I'm getting sick of it.

The other thing I'm getting sick of is the way "Helo" keeps taking matters into his own hands. He unilaterally decided that a perfectly valid tactic--using a virulent disease which kills Cylons--was wrong, and acted to prevent the use of this disease against the Cylons. Karl Agathon is apparently wiser and better than, oh, the entire firkin' chain of command, including Admiral Adama and the President of the Colonies.... *sigh*

As I expected, we did not get any confirmation that Baltar is one of the "final five" Cylons--but we got another hint. Baltar has fallen into Colonial hands again--interesting!--and the entire run of Type 3's--played by Lucy Lawless--has been "boxed" and put into cold storage. Apparently the Type 3 has a messianic complex. This means that Lucy Lawless won't be showing up, at least for a while.

This is fine with me, because she's kind of annoying to me. Particularly her New Zealand accent.

Also as expected, no primary characters died. (Type 3 isn't dead; she's just shut off...for now.) The supernova was indeed the "Eye of Jupiter", too.

Heh. But I'm also a bit disappointed.

* * *

The Dresden Files is worth watching--at least, I think so after having seen its premiere.

The premise is interesting, and close to one I toyed with in the late 1980s: a guy who is adept with magic living in our modern world, and dealing with supernatural events that no one else has a clue about. But this version is a lot better.

Part of the story seems to be that he helps solve unusual murders, ones which defy explanation. In the first episode, a "skinwalker" has killed a teacher and is wearing her skin, trying to abduct or kill a boy who has the ability to use magic. The police are baffled--no sign of struggle, just a skinned corpse sitting naturally at a table, in its clothes--and no blood anywhere, not even on the clothes!--as if nothing were wrong.

It looks, at least, like it's worthy of keeping an eye on. I was worried that it would be about some guy who was a psychic (as if that idea hadn't been done to death even before TV networks began buying SF and pseudo-SF series) but this actually looks somewhat fresh.

* * *

I finally got my copy of Firefly--$20 less my employee discount--but with my Dad's illness, death, and funeral, I haven't even had time to break the shrinkwrap. And speaking os shrinkwrap....

While we were cleaning up his room we came across the set of X Files tapes I bought him for Christmas in 1996(?), back when he watched the show. Dad was always really hard to shop for, and I figured that if he liked that series, maybe he'd like to watch the tapes.

Eleven years later, the set of tapes is still in its shrinkwrap. I was never a fan of the show, so I'm not going to watch them; so I decided, what the hell, I'll leave them in the shrinkwrap for posterity. Maybe someday someone will be able to sell the things for a few bucks.

My Someday's Dreamers DVDs are also still in their shrinkwrap, as are the three Lupin III TV disks and the first volume of Hanaukyo Maids. (And my copy of Spider-Man 2.)

I took a few weeks' leave of absence after Dad died; so maybe I'll have time to watch some of these things. But not if I keep playing Neverwinter Nights as much as I have been....
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