Krae (Jan 11th):
Sean is coding some menus. They should be, and I quote “mad kewl”. I'm not sure what the difference is going to be, but if they're half as bad-ass as he's led me to believe, I'm in for an orgasm when he finally sends me the code.
Now then, on the subject of orgasms (and moving on to the actual rant), many of you have no doubt heard of Final Fantasy X-2, set to ship sometime in the third quarter, 2003 (which is to say, like, this fall). I'll hold off on reviewing it until I actually get some information, but there are a couple of places you can find previews and pre-release info on it.
One of these potential sources of information is this newfangled GMR Magazine thing that we're selling now. And while I appreciate some of the features of the mag, I have yet to form a solid, non-sales point of view on it. Oh sure, it's decent, and I have no problem recommending it in good faith to my customers... I'm just not sure personally whether I like it or not (I have a long and sordid history of hating the finest of products... take Dijon mustard, for instance).
Anyway, to come around at long last to the point, here, there's an article about Final Fantasy X-2 in the mag, and it lists the platform as “PC / XBox”*. Now, I've been wrong before (rarely, but it happens), but it seems to me that if that was the case, there'd be something in the article about it. That's even more revolutionary than being the “first true sequel”* in the Final Fantasy franchise... well, almost as revolutionary. Square snubbing Sony? To develop on the XBox?! I was expecting an article on the next page about how hell has frozen over.
I may wind up eating my words (Kyle, Mr. “If the XBox ever gets a decent RPG, I'll eat my freaking hat, hahaha!" himself, may wind up eating more than words...), but I doubt it. Magazines misprint information all the time, and this has all the signs of being an honest mistake. And, you know, I'm not all that worried about it. Even if it is true, I'm finding that my appreciation for the XBox (and GameCube, which is also getting a Final Fantasy this year... for certain) is steadily rising.
I don't even own a PS2 myself at the moment... which isn't to say I don't absolutely adore the system, errors, technical failures, bugs and all, but the other next-gen consoles are narrowing the gap. The PS2 is still going strong, and I do love many, many PS2 games. Even not having a system in my home, I own more PS2 games than XBox and GameCube combined, not even counting my extensive PS1 library. As a matter of fact, most of my absolute favorite games in the history of ever are PS2 games (I still loves me that AC04)... it's just that the reason to own a PS2 now, and pretty much ever since November 2001, has been the unprecedented software library. And nowadays, even that's starting to look a little moth-eaten... I mean, who the hell needs more IHRA and Nascar games?
I dunno... we'll see what's what when the time comes. If I remember, I'll get you an update when I have more info (I don't have a release date for X-2 on PS2, XBox or PC yet)... until then, no need to panic, die-hard PS2 nazis. I'll just be over here playing Halo and Animal Crossing while you stare at your Disc Read Error.
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* Quotes and preview information from GMR, premiere issue, Feb 2003
Krae (Jan 19th):
It's important to people to feel like “regulars”. For the most part this involves mentioning a previous shopping trip where I helped them out, or spent some time talking to them, or sold them something expensive (therefore memorable for both of us, presumably). This makes people feel special; when they talk to a Sales Associate as opposed to a Cashier. At any rate, my usual response to the question, “Do you remember us, from when...” is to smile and ask them what they need. Never hurts to lie through omission, in this case, 'cuz there's no way in hell I'm going to remember every person that comes through my store.
So I humor them, and they feel like a “regular”, and they come back to talk to me again, and maybe buy something while they're here. That's how customer service works - forget about your Employee Manual and forget about your Customer Service Orientations, your Selling Guidelines, and your Golden Rules of Salesmanship... people come back to see you, if you make a good impression, and chat it up with 'em, and if they can get their shopping done while they go hang out with their “Game-Pal”, so much the better for everyone involved.
What I don't dig, on the other hand, is people who want something out of it. The “Can't you hook me up with a discount?” customers. The “I don't need to put my license number down again, do I?” customers. The “Can I preview this stack of $2.99 PS1 games?” customers. The “Since it's me, can't you give me more on the trade-ins?” customers. Some of this is illegal; if I was to give you a discount or bump your trade-ins, that would be, essentially, stealing from the company. Some of it is simply stupid; if we already have your license number fifty billion times, what use would it be to conceal it from us this time? And some of it is downright annoying; I'm actually more likely to demo games for customers I don't like... I tell my regulars to suck it up and buy it, and they know me well enough to know I wouldn't lie to 'em about games.
As a matter of fact, that's one of the quickest ways to get on my bad side... asking to demo games frequently (the kids that ask to demo a game every time they come in, as soon as they step in the door), repeatedly (what, wasn't “I have to keep that demo in there” clear enough the first three times?), or in bulk (okay, if they're five dollars or less, we're not talking about a Gem of Video-Gaming here... just pick one and take it home, you don't need to try every goddamned game on the shelf). It isn't like we don't have one of the best return policies I've ever heard of.
Unfortunately, the swindling, wheedling, and nagging “regulars” take up so much time I don't really have time to talk to other customers, and make more regulars. That's the main difference, I think, between my good regulars and my bad regulars: the good ones wait, even letting first-time shoppers go first, waiting to bug me until I'm free... the bad ones want preferential treatment and think it's some sort of exclusive club. I'm sure you've seen this type, the one that chats it up with all the other customers, acting like an employee, lounging around near the registers, and bragging -loudly, and to anyone who'll listen- how much he shops here.
I really wish I was allowed to ridicule customers on occasion; I think it would help the customer-base as a whole to weed out a few of the undesirables.
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Krae (Jan 31st):
Well, I guess one gets what one pays for. That goes for both of us, incidentally. I don't pay for KeenSpace, so I shouldn't expect uninterrupted service. And if you started paying me to do STFU, maybe I'd be able to afford hosting that doesn't die on me.
So here's the proverbial dilly: the server that takes care of automatically updating sites and providing member-services (such as manual updates, logs, etc) died. Yes, this is the technical explanation I was given. Something about RAID-arrays failing. Anyway, they were transferring drives to another server, or something, and then turning everything back on. Then, just for fun, throw in a Microsoft Worm that (apparently) disables most of the internet right when the Grand Poo-Bah of Technological Wizardry is transferring the files. The old server dies, the new one isn't on yet, files are lost.
Of course, I was one of the nearly 1300 comics that was temporarily misplaced. Comic went down for the update on the 22nd, and then I heard nothing for a week. Since the server all the tech-support e-mail goes through is also down, I had no way of asking what was going on, so I simply waited patiently for another e-mail on the mailing list letting me know the temporary solutions were in place and how to use them.
Nothing. Eventually I figured out how to get FTP working again by poking around in the forums. Did they bother to communicate this solution to us? No, they expected us to be reading through the 132 pages of Technical Questions in order to figure out what was going on. So... I had FTP. I could get into my page. But the updating was still down. Whup-i-dee-doo. I could put stuff up to go on the page, but it didn't go on the page.
So, mysteriously, I got an update on the 29th. I'm not going to ask questions. I'll probably stop sacrificing infants to KeenTech... well maybe just a couple more. I've got some reviews from Kyle to put up, that were just waiting to be able to put up. Let's see if it works.
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PS, Apparently there are still a lot of problems - slow load-times, text tags appearing instead of my pretty, pretty buttons, images coming up as broken, etc. Hopefully they get this sorted out soon, but aside from looking ugly, it shouldn't affect anything. Hopefully. - Krae
Krae (Feb 5th):
Release dates are such a pain in my ass. On some level, I wish they just wouldn't tell us when games were coming out. Just ship it, and one day it shows up... hey, here's that game I've been wanting. What a pleasant surprise.
Then again, if I didn't have a hard and firm Zelda-date, I'd have died from anxiety by now. And they want people to know so they can get excited and buy-buy-buy on release day. But still... a good portion of my day (only slightly less than I spend saying “We're sold out of Yu-Gi-Oh! cards”) is spent looking up release dates for games that nobody cares about except the eager little monkey at the register who probably won't reserve it anyway. No matter how badly they attest they want the game, or how long they've been waiting, or how much they love the earlier installations, or whatever conversational gambit they interject, they never seem willing to shell out five lousy dollars to reserve the game. Don't love it so much now, do ya?
Anyway, taking up my time isn't even the problem. The problem is that people believe the ship-dates reported by the game manufacturer. And the manufacturer claims that “release-day” is when the game leaves their doors... even though they know better. When the game leaves the manufacturer, it still has to stop in a warehouse somewhere to be distributed to stores. At best, it's going to hit shelves the day after the manufacturer claims it's been released. If they want to put a ship-date, they should say it's a ship-date, and say “check with your game-store for date of availability” or something. So I don't have a zillion people showing up the day before asking for it. And then, of course, not putting a reserve down.. didn't you fools learn your lesson when Vice City shipped?
Not to mention that the release date gets tossed around more than Sean in a high-school locker room. Evidence: Brute Force, Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness, Tenchu: Wrath of Heaven... hell, Halo 2 was originally scheduled for holidays 2003, then got bumped up to June 2003 (heh, did anyone believe them?), and now it's been bumped to October 16th... 2002. Yes, Halo 2 actually came out three-and-a-half months ago, and nobody bothered to mention it. I wonder if it was good. Point being, I wouldn't trust a release-date any further than I can throw it. And considering it's an intangible temporal coordinate, that's not far at all.
But Zelda had better get here on time.
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Krae (Feb 8th):
So I decided I'd really rather have a clean comforter, and as I haven't washed mine in awhile, I popped it in the washer in the laundry room downstairs. The laundry-room, that is, that requires a key to get into.
Of course, when I go back to take it out of the dryer, it's vanished. The load of laundry right next to mine is still there, of course, apparently untouched. This, needless to say, pissed me off. I checked everywhere... somebody's playing a prank on me... no, of course not. Somebody came into the laundry room, not to do laundry, mind you, since that one load was the only one in there. Just to steal my goddamn comforter.
See, the worst part is that it's like... not valuable. If it had been a gem-encrusted silk and velvet comforter, that's one thing. But this thing had, I can only suppose, very little value to whomever took it. They saved the twenty bucks it would cost them to buy one. But that's my only blanket, and now I have to go to sleep cold. Plus... well, it had sentimental value, which I'd rather not dwell on at the moment. And it matched my sheets.
Arienne, who somehow wound up with a whole bunch of my stuff at her house when we moved (that she's constantly unavailable to bring over), can't bring me a comforter because not only does she have to go to bed early so she can be at the radio-station at 5am, but also all my comforters that are at her house were there because she was supposed to launder them after Ritsuko got sick on them. And hasn't. So even if she could bring me one, I'd have to wash it, which got me in this whole mess to begin with.
Sean is no help whatsoever. He informed me that I should have sat down there for the two hours it was going to take to wash. That living in a dorm would teach me “all the tricks”. That I should never trust my neighbors. This was so much easier before I moved here and I had a washer and dryer in my house. Arienne convinced me to ditch 'em when I moved here. Or rather, there, into my last place with her and Kyle. Not that I could have used them here (meaning actually here, now) either. But still. Sean's such a smart-ass.
And Kyle, lovable tubby Kyle, (to paraphrase a movie quote, here) would give head before he'd give favors and he doesn't even give his best friends head, so my chance of getting a favor is pretty fucking slim. So no, I'm not going to call him and ask him to drive half-an-hour over here, take me to the store, wait while I select a fluffy, comfy comforter, drive me back, and then drive the half-hour back home. He might do it, but that'd probably be even worse; he can get pretty grouchy when somebody catches him being a softy.
Anyway. I miss my comforter, and, as luck would have it, I'm in need of a little comforting...
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Krae (Feb 24th):
You know, the idea of making our sales policies competitive is to outdo our rival stores. Meaning, in order to compete, you make things better, not worse. Except that our corporate office is stuffed with imps summoned from the fires of The Pit, with no aim but to make the employees miserable, the customers angry, and life just that much less bearable.
Up until sometime in March when our new Sales Policy goes into effect, I will continue to extol its virtues, as I did in a previous rant. I think it's a great policy, and so do the customers. You have no idea how often I've heard variations of, “Well, I know where I'm shopping from now on,” when I discuss relative policies with customers.
Here's the short version: we can give refunds in the manner paid (meaning cash for cash, credit for credit, and so forth) if the item hasn't been opened, within fourteen days (which is negotiable), with the receipt (which is also negotiable). We can do exchanges or refunds in store-credit on opened merchandise returned in salable condition with the same two negotiable prerequisites. Defective merchandise can be exchanged for the same thing, exchanged for something else, or even refunded if we don't have any more of that item in stock. Most of the above is considered a guideline, meaning we would pretty much bend over and take it up the ass to make the customer happy, even though he's attempting to become an un-customer (at least on this particular transaction). This is called customer service. This is a good return policy.
Retail chains like Wal-Mart and Target will not take things back. Once you've opened it, it's yours. There are no exchanges on crappy games. Defectives go through the manufacturer, for the most part. In some instances, they won't even give you a refund on unopened products, but will only give store-credit. They lie to you and tell you there's some sort of copyright law involved. This is a crappy return policy. On the positive, though, they usually have at least a month for returns, sometimes up to 90 days.
Our new policy is going to take all the bullshit regulations from the huge retail chains, and couple it with our cozy 14-day guarantee. You cannot return something once it's been opened, except if it's defective, and then only for the same product. And that's it... wham, suddenly we go from the best return policy anywhere, to the worst. Our policy of guaranteeing not only that you get a functional game, but also a good game is suddenly out the window. There's no longer any motivation for employees (excuse me, “Game Pros”) to find a game that's right for you... now we have every reason in the world to lie. Corporate wants me to sell Virtual Lawnmowing? I can tell people there's nudity, and carjacking, and dvd-quality cutscenes... by the time they find out it's just cutting grass, it's too late to return it.
This is why people don't trust salespeople, because they think we're trying to foist stuff off on them. Our return policy was proof that we weren't like every other corporate monolith out to crush the little guy... that is, at least until March. My nametag won't be a badge of honor; I won't put it on and be a Customer Service Hero, I'll be another Cog in the Corporate Machine.
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PS. Krae's birthday is tomorrow, in case anyone wants to shower him in praise, gifts, or sex.
Update to Jan 11 Rant: The second issue of GMR corrected the "PC / XBox" platform mistake - FFX-2 is indeed a PS2 game. You can all relax, now.
Kyle (Mar 9th):
Well, well, welly welly well. It sure has been a while. Believe it or not, I haven't really had much to rant about until just lately. Everything's been copacetic for me... the new Lord of the Rings movie came out, and it was good. Metroid Prime and Tenchu: Wrath of Heaven finally came out. My review of the former is posted already, and I'm a little over halfway done with the latter, so look for a review of that one soon.
In other news, and I think Krae touched on this in one of his rants... I did buy an XBox. I finally caved in, after all that shrieking, gnashing of teeth, and fist-shaking in defiance of Microsoft, I finally couldn't resist the siren song of Panzer Dragoon Orta any longer. So yes, I've found that there's a lot to love about everyone's favorite video game console that doubles as an aircraft carrier in times of crisis. Halo has gifted Natasha and me with hours of amusement and no few giggling fits. So yes, I now own all three of the consoles, and this is good.
However, all is not rosy just lately. In my last rant, I mentioned being a corporate wage-slave. Well, apparently someone in management decided to read the Emancipation Proclamation, as I have been officially laid off. I received my final paycheck today and my ID badge was confiscated. Oh, happy day. I can't help but feel a little betrayed, since my drawer is brimming with the little cards we receive when a customer compliments us on how well/quickly/whatever we fix their problem. So in any case, it's back to the old drawing board, as they say.
Once again, corporate America lashes out in the name of profit margins and sticks it to the little guy who just wants to earn enough money to pay his rent, his student loans, and maybe, just maybe, buy and enjoy a video game every payday. So from my apartment in southern Arizona, I shake my nuts at you, corporate America. That said, I'm going to go play some more Tenchu and take out some frustration and yes, some rage. Chances are that for the next few days I'll have time to do the reviews I've been meaning to do, so look for those. Oh, and I can sleep in tomorrow. Yippee.
Krae (Mar 17th):
3:06 am: I just woke up, so forgive me if this doesn't make sense. I had a dream last night that I was walking somewhere at night, and I had to go up this long metal causeway/staircase thing. And I got hassled by some bums, and wouldn't give them any money, but they blocked my way and trapped me on the staircase. And then a guy came up behind me and put a knife against my stomach and took my wallet. I asked him if I could keep my social security card, which he gave me back, but he wanted my ID especially. Which means he's a dumb sort of criminal, but anyway...
As soon as he turned around, I stabbed him in the kidneys or something and took my shit back. Then I stabbed the bums, just a little bit, for setting me up. They cried a lot and then went away. And I sat on the dead mugger and put my wallet back together and waited for the police to come until I got scared that the mugger's friends would come back. So I, being a considerate sort of guy, wrote a note telling the police my name, phone number, and address (I guess criminals can't read...) and safety pinned it to the corpse.
3:42 pm: Okay, I'm home from the inventory, and I've had a nap, so I can be coherent again. This dream reminded me of conversations I've had previously about defending myself. They were technically two conversations, but I had them separately, so I'll recount them individually...
The first one was about the draft. Sean keeps pressing me to acquire and maintain a passport in case they start drafting. The less said on that, the better. This seems highly immoral, to me, so I don't know if I could do it. However, the course of action I would probably take would get me in a lot more trouble... that being simply refusing to fight. They can take me to Basic Training, and shave my head, but they can't make me participate. The worst that can happen to me is that they throw me in jail and I get assraped by gangstaz. Well, that or they accuse me of treason and shoot me without trial. But I still don't think I could run away to a non-extradition treaty country.
The problem is that I'm not pacifistic in the Military's application of the word. I would kill to defend my life, or the lives of my loved-ones. This is getting a little into the second conversation, but I could kill. The problem is that killing in defense puts me at odds with the US Military. Bobhmed Il-Smith was not shooting at me in my living-room. Drafting me -that is, taking me out of a relatively safe environment and putting me in imminent danger, where everything around me is trying to do me physical or emotional injury - constitutes a threat to my person. I wouldn't fight back against the people the military wants me to shoot - they haven't done anything to me; I'd have to fight back against the people seeking to do me harm - the military. And since that's pretty much an exercise in futility, I'd just have to refuse to fight.
The second conversation was about self-defense. My friend Richard (congratulations again, by the way), convinced me at one point that I could kill in cold blood. By law, by the way, if someone attacks you with a knife, shooting them is not legally self-defense. Which is ridiculous, but kind of understandable. They didn't want people shooting someone for waving a rolling-pin at them or something.
Anyway, his point was this: A man is coming at me with intent to kill me, and I have the means to kill him... for instance, he has a gun, as do I. He's obviously fairly serious about wanting me dead, as he's willing to risk his health or life to attempt to do me in. Now let's suppose he accidentally drops his gun. Or it jams, or wasn't loaded. For whatever reason, he's incapable of killing me for a moment. What should I do?
Now, I know people who would say they'd forget about it. Or that they'd shoot him in the leg, and call the police. Or run. When I really think about it, though, the best course of action is to kill him where he stands. I might not be so well prepared next time he comes after me... and he will, invariably, if he wanted me dead that badly. It would be horrible to kill someone, but I think I'd do it, under the circumstances. It's better than dying.
So no, I'm not a pacifist, by the military's terms. And I don't hate war; I'm more than willing to pay for other people to go kill my nation's enemies; I don't mind being taxed for war. I just don't want to actually participate, and unfortunately I don't think my explanation, logical though it may seem to me, would be good enough for whoever's in charge of drafting me, or making sure I stay drafted, or whatever it is they do. Which means passive resistance, imprisonment, and societal ostracism is pretty much what I have to look forward to. That and a whole lot of ass-sex.
Or maybe I'll swallow my morals and go get a passport.
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Sean (Mar 22nd):
Today I witnessed the failure of America. Hundreds of students left class today at 10:00 am to join in a walk-out protest against the strike against Iraq last night at 5:36 am in Baghdad, signifying the beginning of a war and a division of loyalties among Americans. Students fail their country, and the youth by demonstrating against the motives of the government in this fashion, whether they mean it or not.
Students walked out of community college classes today on a number of California campuses to join in a protest. At least, this is what they're telling you. I have a number of problems with this.
To begin, teachers on our campus have offered excused absences and, in some cases, extra credit to those students who would go to the rally. Now, it may just be me, but isn't this a conflict of interests? Aren't teachers supposed to promote education in their classrooms, and not the abandonment of it? If you've got a teacher that's supporting a walk-out protest, let me know. Send me an email with your teacher's name and what college... If I get a couple responses, I'll post them here: Watch the fuckers scramble to save their jobs.
Secondly, why in the hell would college students walk out of their classes in protest of anything? News flash to all college students: You're adults! Congratulations on screwing yourself by skipping class to go protest something as stupid as this! (Yes, protests against war are stupid, and I'll cover that next.) When you leave a class, folks, you're saying that you don't care about your education, and emphasizing that you're not only ignorant, but happy in your ignorance. In my book, stupidity is forgiveable, but ignorance is not.
What's more, you're setting an example for the youth of the United States. By protesting against the soldiers, you remove children's faith in the military. Soldiers do what they're told (of course, this being within reason), but kids may not understand that completely... And by protesting against the war, you're protesting against the soldiers, whether you think so or not.
I'll close saying this -- It is your federally granted right to peaceably assemble for the purpose of demanding a redress of grievances made by the government against the people. I personally feel that the government has made no grievances against the people -- The war in Iraq is in the best interests of the populace, although, I will agree, we should not be hiding behind the statement that we will free Iraq and give them democracy. President Bush is not a war criminal, despite what the dirt-hippies' posters may say. He went before Congress. They voted in favor of declaring war -- Something to note is he could not take us to war if there wasn't a clear majority (This would take Democrats, despite their apparent opposition). This war is government sanction, breaks no laws, and should be supported if only for the sake of those who are dying out there for your continued freedom.
Thank you... Now bugger off.
Error -- Divide by Zero (Div 0)
Krae (Mar 24th):
I've been getting a lot of comments about Sean's rant, and I wanted to take a minute and make a few points of my own on the subject, and hopefully clear up some of the contention. Yeah, Sean's kind of pissed off, and yeah, he's protesting the protests, but he still has a valid point or two.
I'm not worried about walk-outs, at school or at work, and I don't care if they're condoned by people that ought to know better. Be a professional, be a student, or don't... giving up education or business is not going to prove anything about war. And that's really my involvement on that subject, except to say that the goddamned protesters screwed up the bus-schedule and made it take an hour longer to get home than it ought to have.
What I have been defending, though, is Sean's assertion that you can't protest the war while supporting the troops. And let's not go into semantics, here: he's talking about organized protesting, like rallies and marches and walk-outs, not passive objection. I object to the war, but I support it... I'd rather it hadn't happened, of course, but if it's going to happen, I hope we succeed so that those who die didn't die in vain.
But if you're calling Bush a war-criminal and burning flags, you can not be supporting our troops. Wishing them safety and wanting them to be home instead of fighting Iraqis is not support. At best, it's agreement with their sacrifice, at worst it's ignorance of their cause. I agree that any war is bad, though I don't see how a commercial war is any worse than a religious war, or a territorial war, or any other sort of stupid bullshit war that's been fought. And while I think that war is bad, if we're going to go to war, I'm behind it.
I don't, of course, want anybody to be hurt. Especially not U.S. troops. But I know, if there's a war, people will be injured or killed, and I hope that, whatever our objectives, we attain them for the honor of those offering and in some cases sacrificing their lives for that cause. Whether they believe in the cause or not, they are fighting for our country, and whether I believe in the cause or not, I support the actions they are taking simply because they are willing to sacrifice themselves to take them. I cheer for them as my military, not because I want them to have to do what they're doing, but because they're doing it.
Now, Sean says that you can't protest the war without protesting the soldiers, and I'm inclined to believe he's right... kind of. You can object to the war, while appreciating the soldiers, but you cannot actively protest the war and support the soldiers. Hoping they come home soon is not support. For example:
“I hate gays, son, and I hope you stop being gay really soon.”
This is not support. Being supportive means setting aside your personal feelings and offering your acceptance (and, in this case, appreciation and gratitude). I don't want to fight in a war, and I don't like this war, but I am not ashamed of the troops, and I don't want them to come home without accomplishing anything. How does that honor the memory of the soldiers that died? We're really sorry, but we changed our minds, and they died for nothing? My step-brother is a Marine, and I'm scared for him, and for my dad and step-mom... but if, god forbid, he is injured or killed, I hope it isn't for no purpose. I hope we can at least say, he died for this. He died for his country, and because of his sacrifice, we achieved our goal. It's brutal, but that's war. That's part of the military.
And whether Bush is actually a war-criminal or not is not the issue. Anybody whose brain isn't a wad of marijuana resin and patchouli oil can see that. The issue is that, by calling Bush a war-criminal, you are calling the troops who follow his orders war-criminals; when Nazi war-criminals were tried, the defense, “I was following orders” was met with the response, “You should have disobeyed”. And by burning a flag, you are disparaging the flag under which troops march to their deaths for you.
I just think that if our country asks people (some younger than me) to go off and die, and they go out to do it, that cause becomes worthy of my support. It's not like we're living in a dictatorship where our leader can order our troops to commit crimes against humanity; to say so would be to ignore the media, and the mechanism of “public approval” which fuels our entire political system. And, even if you think so, you have the freedom and right to do something about it: if your country is committing moral atrocities which you cannot abide, you have the freedom to choose another.
And I'm not one to say, “Love it or leave it”, because I don't love my country, and I don't agree with this war. But I'll support our troops, and by extension the war, and by further extension President Dubya. But I'd just like to point out that I hated the French before it was patriotic.
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Krae (Apr 28th):
Fat people suck. They throw off the pants-curve for tall people.
I wear between a 34x36 and a 34x38. Actually, technically I'm probably a 33, since I still have to wear a belt, but either way it's better than the 30 or 32 I was last time I bought pants. Pants manufacturers actually make pants this size (that is, 34 waist and somewhere in the range of 36-38 inseam), but do stores actually carry it? Of course not. They can order it, but they don't keep clothes like that on the shelf. Why? Because humans are not meant to be my size.
They did, however, have an alarming number of pants designed for people with significantly larger waists than legs. Apparently, they expect herds of 42x30's to waddle in, shove themselves through the tiny aisles between the racks like a ham through a pneumatic tube, scoop up armfuls of fat-pants, and waddle to the register with a happy grin plastered on their plump faces. People like me either have to special order, or pay triple the price at a Big-And-Tall Store. (I just need the “Tall”, thanks... why can't they make “Big” people go there for a change, and carry my clothes in regular stores for a change?)
All this comes from visiting my mother. Basically the first words out of her mouth were, “You look like no one loves you.” So she shined my boots (woo!) and dragged me off to find some respectable clothes. Which is good, because the day after I got back, we had a store-meeting in which was discussed dressing a little snappier. Good thing I got harmless-looking shoes, too! I bet corporate sends a memo: “No military-style boots.”
And another thing, though completely unrelated. I watched a lot more television while in California than usual (which is to say, some, as I don't watch anything here), and was re-acquainted with my hatred of commercials and the products they pimp. I only want to know one thing, though... who the hell came up with the baby patch?
It's like... a birth-control patch. Like The Patch, for smoking, it's a little flesh-tone adhesive that you stick to yourself to prevent pregnancy. What the fuck is that all about? The advert claims it's easier to remember to replace the baby patch once a week, rather than take the pill every day... which would be an advantage if it was true.
I've heard, but have not verified, that if you miss a pill, you can take two the next day and carry on. Either way, it's pretty easy to put the little container on your nightstand or next to your coffee or something, and remember to take one every day. It seems to me that you'd have problems when you ran into questions like: “What day did I put this thing on?” “Have I accidentally been wearing this for more than a week?” and “What day is it?”... but maybe I'm just forgetful.
If I was in charge of ovulation (which I am, thankfully, not), I'm pretty sure I'd remember to take a pill every day. Besides, there's just something un-subtle about a baby patch.
Ah, what the hell. Stupid commercials...
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Krae May 26th):
So... It's been suggested that I sign up for a PayPal account. This suggested was prompted by my offer to purchase a copy of Xenogears for a friend of mine, as her psychological prosperity (as well as, presumably, longevity) absolutely depends on re-acquiring a copy of this game. And it's virtually impossible to find, except for the copy I have at my store. So anyway, I offered to send it to her, only to realize that I have no money and would have to make her pay for it. I am a failure as a sugar-daddy.
Yes. To return to the point of this ramble-fest (which is, as she astute reader will have doubtlessly observed, PayPal), it was also suggested that I could use this service to beg for funds for S.T.F.U. Such funds could then be used for such things as getting a new scanner, or even one of those fancy-pants electronic drawing palette thingies. I could go from low-tech to moderately-higher tech! As Sean would say: sweet lovin'!
Anyway, I'm probably going to suck it up and apply. If it still scares me tomorrow, I can always empty the account and start a new one... my bank likes me. And maybe I'll get some donations and be able to upgrade or something... even nickel-and-dime stuff can add up eventually. Although... it appears I'll only be able to take donations via direct bank-withdrawal and online funds, so who knows. Seems kind of pointless to hope for nickel-and-dime donations when I'm making people pay via direct withdrawal. Maybe that just means I'll be making the mad billz. We shall see, I suppose.
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Krae (June 15th):
Lots going on around here, so I'll start from the least important and finish with the big one. Which is really just a cunning way of getting you to read about all the piddly crap while waiting for me to get to the juicy tidbits
Alright, first off I nearly didn't make my rent this month due to a slight logistical error involving a direct debited power bill. Oh, that reminds me, I should pay my other bills sharpish before they cut off my darling internet. Well anyway, my mum sent me some money, which didn't arrive in time but was appreciated nonetheless (I never cashed the check, though, as I don't think I'll need it). Since it didn't, I nearly had to resort to other methods like selling a kidney, but I was only a couple of bucks short so I just borrowed it from Seren without her knowing (oh, how cunning of me). I got paid that Friday, though, so no worries there, and her Xenogears is sitting on my desk waiting on a letter to ship with it.
On another monetary-related note, I picked up a second job. The assistant manager (or "ass man") at my store, a delightful fellow who's invited me over on occasion for movies, dinner, daiquiris and BEATING HIS ASS AT CONKER'S BAD FUR DAY (ahem), alerted me that a position had opened at his wife's work (a lawyers' office), and she'd asked him to see if anyone wanted it. I managed to get my résumé to them after several abortive attempts (my printer failed, I can't find my gigantic box of discs, etc...), but apparently it didn't matter anyway as the person responsible for hiring is a buddy of theirs and I basically had the job anyway. So now I'm going to be working at a lawyers' office filing, sorting, photocopying, and doing all the other assorted jobs they don't want to pay a paralegal ten to fifteen bucks an hour to do. Plus, it's within biking-distance.
Which segues into my next adventure, the quest for my bicycle. I wound up walking over to Arienne's place to get it, which she swore would take me several hours if I didn't wind up pecked by vultures at the side of the road, dead from dehydration. Well, I made it there in an hour, but my feet were all blistered up. The worst part was the boredom, really. Anyway, I sat around for about half an hour and let my feet rest, then assembled my bike and carried it (it's a Cannondale, and pretty light, though it's still a freaking monster to carry) about ten to fifteen minutes to a nearby gas-station to re-inflate the tires. They weren't just flat, they were airless. Okay, so then I actually got on and pedaled home. Mission accomplished, took almost exactly two hours. And all that hurt were my feet (almost completely blistered on the bottom), my thighs (from pedaling like a madman), my shoulders and chest (I haven't biked in a couple of years), and arms (from carrying the bike). My head felt pretty alright though.
No tidy segue on this one, though. I'm going to be obtuse since I can, and I want to start from the beginning. See, one of my co-workers suggested I check out “this website” a while back. I asked him what it was, and he said I should just go there and check it out. He also said there were hot English girls there, which I didn't believe, and promptly forgot; I think the kid's a minor prophet. Anyway, I went, and it turned out to be a silly messageboard filled with silly people sillying away. I fit in quickly, being fairly silly myself, and quickly busied myself getting involved in things that aren't my business.
So I started talking to one of the people this co-worker had pointed out to me as "Kewl People" (incidentally, a hot English girl); she was pretty upset about something at the time, namely moping over a guy, a feeling (if not the precise gender) I am very familiar with. I tried to help out as best I could, though I had no idea why at the time... I mean, hell, I thought she was cute, why should I help her get with some nerdy little leprechaun-obsessed “chap”? To spare you the months it took me to figure it out, the reason was that it mattered more to me that she was happy than that I got what I wanted (but was avoiding thinking about).
During the course of this little fiasco, in which I discovered (had I been around any longer, I would have already known) that he wasn't interested, and she was just being mopey, really, and didn't so much want to get back together with this guy. I made a complete idiot out of myself by asking him about it, which prompted him to immediately inquire about my intentions toward her.
Luckily, I had a quick response: she thought I was kind of cute (who'd have thought?) but had an iron-clad philosophy prohibiting long-distance relationships. Excellent for me, as this meant I could just be her friend and forget about all that weird crap that was going on in the back of my head. Anyway, I jokingly told her that she might have to lay out her philosophy to me every once in awhile if I started being too swoony, and then set about to be a complete idiot; at that point, I'd virtually suppressed any idea of anything else happening. I mean, it wasn't possible, so why decide if I wanted it to?
So one otherwise ordinary afternoon, we were discussing music or books or something, and I laughed and told her if she kept it up she was going to have to recite her philosophy again. Well, she told me, she's not the type to change her mind, but she'd had a long think about that the night before and decided to chuck the whole thing. I asked if that meant I had a chance, and was furthermore informed that I was the reason she'd sat down to have the think.
Which of course immediately sent me into an absolute panic. I mean, I don't know how to deal with girls (you may have noticed), particularly ones I'm interested in. The trouble was, I really liked her, but hadn't contemplated anything romantic as I'd just managed to convince myself it was impossible. It didn't take long for me to figure it out, though, and I'm glad I did, as she feels the same way. I'll wrap this up now, as it's getting pretty long... you'll have to wait for my next rant to hear how wonderful she is. ~
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Sean (June 24th):
Lot of things've happened over the past few weeks that I thought I'd share with the lot of you... You'll probably notice straight off that I'm not being the condescending prick that I usually am, but things have really changed. I'm going to order them from mildest to strongest -- It helps to realize how bad things could be when you see the worst thing last...
I've completely stopped talking to a good friend of mine whom, next to Krae, has known me longer than any other friend. Problem was, folks, that I fell in love with her. I guess in the scheme of things that's not exactly a bad thing, but perspective makes you realize a lot of things, and the biggest was that we'd never have worked out, and I can't stand having that constant reminder around. It's easy to stay friends when you really never cared, isn't it? If you break up with someone, and stay friends, wonder -- Did I really ever love them? Granted, the opposite isn't necessarily the only reason for growing apart, but it's one of the hardest to accept.
My brother was in a horrible car accident a few weeks ago. He made a turn and a car came speeding around some stopped cars and T-boned him. My brother was in a BMW -- one of the safest cars I've ever seen, thank god -- and the guy who hit him was driving a Trans Am -- which, if you know anything, is insanely heavy. So, my brother's car was sent flying 10 feet, then rolled into a lamp post. The insurance company decided the car was totalled. When he went back to retrieve his things, he had to use a crowbar to open his glove box. The extent of the damages to his car were astounding... I'm so greatful that he's alive.
And I'll cut this short by jumping to the end and spare you all from my raving. My mother was diagnosed with an Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma... Big words that boil down to basically malignant breast cancer. They caught it while it's small, and I know it's incredibly survivable, but it doesn't mean that I'm not scared to death.
Error -- Divide by Zero (Div 0)
Krae (August 24th):
Sorry I haven't updated in awhile... as you can imagine, with working two jobs and trying to move, I haven't had time to make news, let alone report it. But, for those of you who're curious, here's a quick recap:
My hours are getting shifted around so I'll actually have a day off a week, instead of working every day. We can manage this since we finally got our new ASM, so I won't be having to work short-shifts to cover time. So now I work three days at the attorneys' and three at EB, and I have a day off when I can be around at a decent hour GMT (which is, being eight hours ahead of me, usually when I'm at work).
I was trying to move into Kyle's place now that Natasha's gone back to Georgia, but the management people are dragging their ass with my application and I dunno if I'm going to be able to. It's just about to the point where I'm going to have to give my thirty-days notice or renew my current lease, and if I haven't heard from Antonio at the new place yet, I'm going to have to renew. Can't give my apartment the boot until I have a place to live... I dunno, it's just a huge pain in my ass right now.
Anyway, last time I updated I promised to tell you all about how great “my Brit” (thank you, Kyle) is, but it will have to wait. Hopefully I'll be updating a little more often now that I'll have some free time. In the meantime, you'll have to be content with this~...
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Sean (August 29th):
I was in the bookstore today and a young -- most likely 16 or 17 year old -- girl asked something like, “So, are you punk?” I'm wearing a pair of baggy/loose jeans, some skate shoes, and a collared button up shirt, so obviously this has affected my hearing. “Excuse me?” I reply...
“What's your core?”
Now, I've heard this question before, but never in the serious sort of tone that she gave me, which really made me think... For those of you who don't understand “punk”, or maybe just want to find the type of punk they should be, we should examine some of the subdivisions, or, as the young lady called them, “cores”. Most people, when thinking of punk, think of people with “funky” colored hair with spikes and nose rings -- These are what I like to call the Anarcho-punks, so named for their plethora of anarchy badges and remnants of tattered t-shirts from such archaic bands as The Ramones or The Sex Pistols -- of which none of them are remotely old enough to remember -- carefully safety-pinned to their denim jackets and/or vests. I would not be of this kind because I don't believe in anarchy, and feel someone should remind them that, in an anarchy, they would be beaten bloodier than after their 6th grade gym class.
Now, sprouting from this classic movement we can head in three distinct directions, each falling on their own spot on the emotional spectrum of manic-depression. Now, from the thoroughly depressive end, we have the emo-punks, who just sit around and cry and are all depressed like Morrissey, and their off-shoot, the goths, who just sit around and listen to really shitty music like The Cure and Sisters of Mercy and are too cool to be happy. Oddly enough, I'm too happy and cynical to be Emo, so this, too, is not me.
In a more neutral stance, you've got the Skater-Punks, who listen to nothing but OC Punk -- which is really what all the popular punk on MTV is, anyhow -- and skate till they die or get a job. While I skate, I suck at it, so I can't really be one of these either...
At the entirely manic end, we have Hardcore Punks... I hate that fucking metal shit, so this is not for me. That, and I don't have so many holes in my face that my cheeks create a disco-ball effect if I close my mouth around a flashlight in a dark room. If any of you are hardcore out there, I'd like to know how you can make it through a metal detector... Closest I'm willing to get to having that much metal on my face is getting braces someday...
So, now that you understand all the cores, you can see that it's really a stupid question to ask someone. So what “core” am I?
Who knows? I'm probably just Albacore...
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Sean (September 25th):
The good ol' folks at NASA decided to try for a mass extinction by Christmas. Fortunately for us, they failed. The spacecraft Galileo, having studied Jupiter for the past 14 years, came to the end of it's journey on the 21st of September, at about 11:57 am Pacific Daylight Time, when it crashed into Jupiter's atmosphere. For those unfamiliar with Jupiter, it's considered a gas giant -- it's upper crust consisting of between 600 and 700 miles of gaseous, liquid, and metallic Hydrogen and Helium (81 and 18 percent respectively).
The Galileo spacecraft left earth with 144 seperate 3/4 pound capsules containing fuel cells composed of a Plutonium-238 (Pu-238) dioxide ceramic core, Uranium-234 and Helium-4 from alpha decay of the Plutonium, an Iridium cylinder casing, and a floating graphite membrane (Carbon) at the top of the core. (These figures are not necessarily a complete list of the elements at the time of impact due to possible ionization from the years of exposure to radiation near Jupiter).
Little is known of the actual isotopes and levels of Hydrogen and Helium on Jupiter.
So, here's the possible danger as I understand it. It's a strong possiblity that, given the amount of time that the Pu-238 has sat in the capsules and the amount of radiation that it's sustained, the Plutonium may have absorbed a neutron, becoming Plutonium-239 fuel -- a very fissile (fissionable, possible to split) isotope, and one capable of a sustained reaction. Now, because upon entry into Jupiter's atmosphere, Galileo would be traveling upwards of 107,000 miles per hour, it would sustain a pressure change from 1/2 bar to 23 bars (1 bar being relatively the same pressure present on Earth at sea level) about 125 miles down in about 4 seconds (assuming that the craft is making a perpendicular entry). This also means that the pellets housing these wonderful radioactive elements would last about 20 seconds before imploding. If the graphite/Iridium shell around any of the 144 capsules had collapsed quickly enough to prevent a fizzle (i.e. the reaction which turns a radioactive element into a dud), the effect would have been enough to act as a catalyst for a sustained reaction with the rest of the cylinders. Given the right elements in proximity, the fission reaction could generate enough heat to move from fission to fusion, creating the effect of a hydrogen fusion bomb. Theorhetically, since it's presumed that Jupiter is already undergoing a thermonuclear process on it's way to becoming a star, this detonation could well have sped up the process, igniting Jupiter and causing it to explode into a star. Since September 21st puts us at a tangent to Jupiter, it is assumed that most of the mass ejection from such an explosion would be propelled past the Earth safely. However, Tom Van Flandem, Ph.D. (astronomy) is reported to have stated that, despite the prior stated avoidance, the Earth would still be hit with more than 900 trillion pounds of Jupiter's hydrogen and helium 13 weeks later (mid-to-late December), lasting for several days, and that such an event would likely wipe out most life on Earth above ground.
So I'd like to take this time to thank NASA for deciding that the possiblity of mass extinction is a small enough risk to possibly see some pretty lights in the night sky. Thanks a lot, morons.
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Krae (October 23rd):
So let me tell you about the N-Gage.
One of the other managers in town here is selling them like freaking crazy. I don't know how, I think there's demonic involvement there, somewhere. He's responsible for 1% of our entire company's N-Gage sales. His store alone.
We, on the other hand, have sold none. Our pre-order customers cancelled, even. Why is this, you may ask? Why can one store, setting aside my theory of unholy investment, sell so much better than another, in the same town? Well, I'll tell you - I know shit about personal electronics.
That's it, that's the problem right there. Because while he's telling them about Blue-Tooth connectivity (with an adapter that isn't out yet, chimes in my cynical side) and the built-in web browser (if you pay for the premium service) and PDA capabilities, and wow, it'll even cut this tin can!!... I'm trying to figure out, as a game-salesperson, what's so goddamn exciting.
Because, you see, I work in a game store. And, as far as I can tell, the N-Gage plays crappy games. And badly, at that. It is not competitive with the Gameboy Advance. Hell, it's barely competitive with the original GameBoy. Sure, the graphics are nice, but the screen is tiny, the lighting stays on for all of two seconds when you're not pressing buttons (yes, the idle is that fast), it moves like molasses, and to top it all off, the games are complete crap.
For three hundred dollars, I could buy a decent cel-phone, FM Radio/MP3 player, a GBA, a handful of good games. Yeah, so I'm missing out on the PDA aspect and blue-tooth connectivity. Whoopty shit.
Anecdote time, kids. They sent us an interactive display with two operational N-Gage units to put up in our store. Nevermind the fact that we don't have any convenient wall-outlets near anywhere we could put this monstrosity, let's just set that aside for now. They didn't know. So we install the brute, and get the phones set up. All pre-assembled, no worries, we boot up the systems and I attempt to configure them. The menu, needless to say, does not say what it's supposed to. There is no option that reads like the instructions state. So I make an educated guess, and select the menu in the location the instructions say it'll be and which seems to mean basically the same thing as the menu I'm looking for. And it works. The game plays (badly, but we've been over that already).
The next day, however, it doesn't. The menu says ”offline”, and every time one attempts to start game, it reads the intro and then pops back to the multimedia menu. We can't figure out what the hell is wrong. So I call Nokia tech support. First problem, they want the phone number of the N-Gage. Now, apparently it's written on the inside of the phone under the battery, but nobody bothered to inform me of this. So I'm sitting there while the mechanized secretary instructs me... repeatedly... to input the ten-digit phone number of my Nokia phone. I curse. I wait. Eventually, it gets tired of asking and just forwards me to a live tech-support person.
She was, to give Nokia a little credit, very friendly, and exceedingly helpful. I described the situation, she caught that right away, so I laid out the problem, and she was right on it. Apparently, the dummy simm-cards (or whatever) they installed in the phones are on some sort of freaking timer so they stop working after a set duration. Ours must have expired the day after we received it. She told me she'd been receiving these calls all morning.
The solution was to take the display apart, remove the N-Gages, take the backs off and snag the battery, dummy-simm, and multimedia card. Then ship the systems back to Nokia. Done and done. But now I've got to try to explain to customers... without, mind you, saying a negative word about the fabulous N-Gage... why we have an interactive display with no N-Gages in it.
Maybe I'll tell people they were stolen.
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PS: The last laugh is mine! The N-Gage took a 33% price drop effective 10/24 through 11/2 (unless it's extended) to $199.99 MSRP, probably the fastest nose-diving gaming system in history. Hell, the X-Box took more than six months to do that, and we all thought they were going out of business... N-Gage is only like three weeks old! I prophesize doom.
Krae (November 20th):
You ever wonder what it feels like to sense your imminent demise? Well, gather 'round, kids, and let Krae tell you a story.
I got off work at 5:00. Changed my shoes, proved I was smuggling nothing in my backpack, used the restroom. I was down at the bus stop at 5:09, and I'd had a pretty good view of the street for the last couple of minutes. Needless to say, I saw no bus.
Now, the busses are supposed (supposed, mind you) to run every half hour. At 5:50, I start walking to the Transi(en)t Center. The bus passes me at 5:53. I flipped it off.
So I got to the Transit Center at 6:02, which is probably some sort of goddamn record. Usually it takes like 20 minutes going the other direction, and I made it in twelve. But no time to gloat, as there goes the bus I was supposed to have been on, the last bus to run every-half-hour-on-the-half-hour. After that, it's hourly.
So I could hang out with the derelicts, winos, and run-of-the-mill murderous psychotics until 7pm. Problem is, I've got something going on at home. At 7pm. You may think a game-related internet appointment is not important, but obviously you do not know the depths to which my social life has sunk.
So I walk. Now, before I explain to you where I was walking, in the dark, in the slums... do you know those streets in the bad part of town, where people tell you to stick to the main road? Make sure you have a spare battery and a full tank of gas? Don't slow down, keep your eyes on the road, and for the love of god don't turn off into any of those dark neighborhoods that branch off from it like hives?
I was walking through those.
So it occurred to me, after I hit a T and wandered down a dead-end, that I was going to die. It was one of those moments when, walking under a street-light and cursing it for killing my vision, that I realized the peril I was in.
Clearly, I made it home intact. No thanks to any of you. At eight minutes to seven, just in time to zap some frozen burritos and get to my meeting. Of course, the people I was supposed to be meeting didn't show up until 7:20, by which time the 7:00 bus I hadn't wanted to wait for had rolled past. Oh well... it was an adventure.
How many times can you say you had a brush with death?
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PS: Addendum to my last rant. The $100 instant value (calling it a $199.99 price point would be like admitting failure) has been extended indefinitely. But that's not all. No, now we're giving away three free games with every console purchase. Yes... Three. Free. Games. What used to cost about $389.99 to $404.99 (depending on the games) you can now get for $199.99. Nokia engineers are digging mass-graves for the marketing department right now. Widows of Nokia middle-management goons are being sent crates of N-Gages instead of bereavement pay. Nintendo has perpetuated a massacre more brutal than any heretofore witnessed in the console-wars, and all without ever lifting a finger.
Krae (November 23rd):
I'm thinking about taking the game reviews down.
I mean, really, we haven't posted a review in months. We've received, I think, one legitimate review request, and very little commentary. Plus, that section of the page is huge, unwieldy, and more trouble to update than it's really worth. All it's doing at the moment is taking up server space that I'm sure they'd rather use for comics. And draw people searching for cheats, nude-codes, and Sentimental Shooter.
Not that I mind the increased hit-count we get from people finding us accidentally; it would be better, though, to have an accurate idea of who actually read the comic and who just came here searching for “hooker cheat GTA” and was linked to the reviews.
Honestly, the crap that gets searched to find us is ridiculous.
So that's what I'm thinking. If anyone reads these rants, let me know what you think of the plan by clicking my name, above, or on the “e-mail us” link beside the logo. At any rate, I'll probably leave it up for awhile before summoning the energy to remove it.
In other news, I owe a happy birthday to my sister, and congratulations to Richard.
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