Wednesday, September 15

I'm back. What'd I miss?

What the hell is wrong with you people? I'm down to an average of 4 hits a day! I don't understand! All I do is stop posting for four months and you abandon me. For shame.

Just kidding. Anyway, life has been marching along and things are rather more settled than the last time I deigned to blog. I have an apartment, a full time job, and have thoroughly re-embraced the Washington, DC metro area social scene. It's a fantastic feeling to have almost all of my friends -- grad school, college, high school, professional -- gathered in one setting and available to hang out without the constant "damn it, I'm leaving in X months!" time pressure.

So, what did I do on my summer vacation?

Uh, let's see. For starters, I graduated from SMSU and promptly abandoned Missouri forever, although not without a certain amount of sentimentality. As much as I love being home full time, I do sometimes miss the old place. It was simpler, cheaper, and slower, and when you live in a place that is complicated, expensive, and fast, the alternative can be attractive. But, such is life.

In June and July I did a bit of traveling. I spent one weekend in western Michigan at a wedding and another in New York City visiting an old friend from high school. I was in Baltimore on the Fourth of July, taking advantage of the Inner Harbor fireworks show.

Most of the time has been spent setting up my apartment and taking care of the administrative issues associated with moving to another state. If you ever want an education in the real functioning of state and local governments, move to another state and re-establish your identity there. But, after three months of semi-regular work at it (my real job tends to get in the way), I'm a duly registered voting, driving, and tax-paying citizen of the People's Republic of Maryland. Lucky me! And I even have a new computer, which was an ordeal in and of itself.

Anyway. Hope you all, if any of you are relying on this forum for your only source of news about me, are well! We'll see if I can manage to update this a little more often in the not-too-distant future.

posted by hljkhl at 9:06 PM


Sunday, May 9

In honor of Blogger's new website design, I thought I'd post here just to remind myself that this thing still exists.

Look, folks, here's the deal. The thesis is done, it's in, it's finished. I have to print off the binding copies (and pay for them too, thank you very much) and then it's over. Graduation is THIS FRIDAY. I will wear a funny robe and hat and get a Master's degree.

Now, I'm definitely never going to post anything about my job here. So once I graduate, I'm not all sure what, if anything, I'll use this place for. I'll have to actually get some hobbies or develop an opinion about recently-released movies or something.

And so? Stay tuned. The reinvention of the Jason Continuum is not far away.

BTW, relevant dates for stuff happening in the near future:

-May 14: Graduation
-May 21-22: In Burke
-May 23-27: In Virginia Beach, with time out to find an apartment in Maryland

posted by hljkhl at 7:09 PM


Saturday, May 1

posted by hljkhl at 5:08 PM


Saturday, April 17

posted by hljkhl at 3:47 PM


Monday, April 5

posted by hljkhl at 10:09 PM


Thursday, March 4

Also, I'm making good progress on my thesis. But don't think that means I'm going to be posting more often or anything. Just you wait.

posted by hljkhl at 6:31 PM

I have a job now for post-graduation. What is it? Well,

She packed my bags last night, pre-flight
Zero hour: nine a.m.
And I'm gonna be high as a kite by then

I miss the earth so much
I miss my wife
It's lonely out in space
On such a timeless flight

And I think it's gonna be a long, long time
'til touchdown brings me around to find
I'm not the man they think I am at home
Oh, no, no, no
I'm a rocket man
Rocket man
Burning out his fuse up here alone

Mars ain't the kind of place to raise your kids
In fact, it's cold as hell
And there's no one there to raise them if you did

And all the science, I don't understand
It's just my job five days a week
Rocket man

And I think it's gonna be a long, long time
'til touchdown brings me around to find
I'm not the man they think I am at home
Oh, no, no, no
I'm a rocket man
Rocket man
Burning out his fuse up here alone

Elton John, "Rocket Man (I Think It's Gonna Be a Long, Long Time)"

posted by hljkhl at 6:24 PM


Friday, February 20

posted by hljkhl at 6:10 PM


Monday, February 9

I have courted disaster by registering at a website where one may play online Diplomacy against human opponents, with real-time messaging and 48-hour turns.

I find today's Strongbad E-mail utterly incomprehensible, and therefore reject it as the polar opposite of funny.

I'm writing a thesis.

Between all of that, is it any wonder I don't have much time to update here anymore?

posted by hljkhl at 8:58 PM


Wednesday, January 21

Something somewhat unusual has happened to me over the last year and a half plus some. I have become a Board Game Geek.

Not that it's especially unusual for me to be geeky about something; most of you know of my affinity for geeky TV shows (these need not be named, let it merely be said that I can identify most internal components of a Type-40 TARDIS console and am well aware of the registry number of an Intrepid-class starship of some renown), geeky books, geeky fields of graduate study, and the like. But board games were not a staple of my childhood or early development. From an early age I've had numerous, dubious flirtations with chess, and I've been known to indulge in the occasional game of Scrabble, although I usually do quite badly. I suppose the board game I played most often was the famous Trivial Pursuit, but the actual dynamics of the game bored me (no pun intended). For the most part I just wanted to show off all the useless crap I knew.

But now I must confess to being a Board Game Geek for strategy games. So much so that I can name quite a few games I enjoy playing, some of which you may or may not have heard of.

Oh, everyone's heard of this one. Risk's reputation is that it takes forever and gets extraordinarily dull once it passes its fourth hour. The first half of that is quite true. I have participated in Risk tournaments that have exceeded three days, with at least 8 and as many as 12 hours of continuous play per day. My favorite thing about Risk is the distribution of power across the entire globe, necessitating a complex alliance structure when one plays with four to six really experienced players. Of course, alliances in Risk are utterly informal, which gets very interesting once players begin to get eliminated and everyone cops to the idea that there's only one winner. My big beef with Risk? All that messing around with dice. I know strategy game fans who absolutely refuse to play Risk because of all the dice - sheer randomness that can radically unbalance the game. My answer? There's a reason the game isn't called Certainty.

Risk: 2210 AD
We haven't actually played this one yet, but I can't wait to; it's Risk set in the early 23rd century. Now you can acquire territory underwater and on the moon, and you can also use nuclear weapons and "commanders" who re-balance the luck equations a little by letting you roll 8-sided dice for some maneuvers. The geopolitics of the future are also really funny: Lesotho rules the entire southern end of Africa. North America is divided between the remnants of Quebec, the Exiled States of America (in Iceland!), Mexico, and Alaska's Northwestern Oil Emirate. All of Central Asia is Afghanistan. And New York is an underwater colony. The best variation, besides the commanders, is the dynamic turn order (players bid game currency to decide who goes first, second, etc., on each of five turns).

Politika (aka Tom Clancy's Politika)
This is a fun little game that's often ignored, I think mainly because of the poor board design. You play one of eight factions vying for power and influence in post-Soviet Russia after the unexpected death of the Russian president. Once you pick your faction (Mafia, KGB, Church, Communists, Nationalists, Military, Separatists, or Reformers), you move representatives around a board of Russia (great for learning Russian geography, by the by) and attempt to wield influence over the largest number of territories. This game really brings home the sacrifice of warfare, as "attacks" may only be made after you purchase dice for them (to the inflationary tune of $20,000 per die!). Alliances are much more formal and certain combinations can be quite deadly; the game's only real flaw is that the cardboard influence tokens measure 1/2" by 1/4" and fly across the room at the slighest breeze. That and once you run out of money, you're F-ed, comrade.

This may be the ultimate strategy game. It's apparently been around forever, although I never heard of it until last semester. To all appearances, Diplomacy completely eliminates luck from the process: there are no dice, all orders are presented and occur simultaneously, and all movements are determined by the simple numerics of supported alliance. The setting is Europe pre-World War I; England, France, Germany, Turkey, Austria, Russia, and Italy vie for control over 18 "supply centers" through careful movement of armies and fleets across the map. There is no combat; units can only move into territories left vacant by the withdrawal of other units, and nearly everything requires the support of one (or two, or three, or six...) other nations. Temporarily. Like most games, this one has only one winner. Once you get used to the notation (which is actually no more complicated than algebraic chess notation), the fun begins. A 10-year old could learn the basics of this game in half an hour, but I still struggle with the mechanics of how to win it or even advance very far. You can read all about it here.

There you have it, gang. I am a Board Game Geek.

posted by hljkhl at 6:16 PM


Saturday, January 10

As I imagine would be obvious by now, I haven't been paying a great deal of attention to the Continuum for a while. There are any number of reasons for this, the most pertinent of which, until lately, was that I didn't have regular internet access while traveling during the holiday season. Prior to that I was simply too busy. I wrote over 280 pages last semester, and the last 90 or so were all due in the final week before I left. Not quite enough hours in the day, and my respite periods usually involved me doing something that didn't require me to sit at a computer.

At any rate, I'm now back from Virginia. Had a great time this holiday season, despite all the petty annoyances of cramming three weeks worth of luggage and provisions into a car and driving them a thousand miles east and then a thousand miles west (I rolled over 90,000 miles on my Corolla this trip, incidentially). I saw family and old friends and celebrated my 24th birthday on a 67-degree Virginia Beach day watching the boats pass by on the Chesapeake Bay. I had a couple of job interviews in Washington and made flying visits to the great people I never see enough of any more. As usual, I return to Missouri impatient for a permanent relocation back to northern Virginia. I imagine it's time to start planning that out.

My thesis is underway (1/2 of one full page written, but at least I have my comprehensive outline finished), although I may get my readers switched on me. A lot of departmental politics are making things strange this semester, and classes haven't even started yet (I only have one anyway).

Also, I'm sick. I follow my usual pattern of being really sick for 18-30 hours, followed by 2-3 weeks of having to hack and cough the accumulated junk out of my lungs. At least I'm keeping Robitussin in business.

That's about all.

posted by hljkhl at 7:14 PM


Tuesday, December 16

Just in case anyone still reads this, I'm leaving Missouri tomorrow morning to travel back to Virginia for Christmas. Will stay in Kentucky overnight en route.

Everyone have a very happy holiday!

posted by hljkhl at 10:12 PM


Saturday, December 13

posted by hljkhl at 7:05 PM


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