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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Impressive and disturbing at the same time

Current Mood:
CC is listening to: Nothing right now

Steve and I play World of Warcraft differently: I like concentrating on increasing the proficiency of just one character, he likes to switch from character to character because fighting in one style for very long gets kind of boring for him. So he rotates his characters every once in a while.

But we're both only playing one character at any one time, because we only have one account each. An account costs about $14 a month.

Check this guy out :-). He plays 36 accounts at the same time.

This is his computer setup for playing 36 characters together at the same time

See that ring of characters, including the ones in the middle? They're all controlled by just one person.

Why does he do it? Well in WoW, there's this a thing called a raid, where people who happen to be signed on at the same time can form a group to attack a big boss.

I've been on a couple of raids myself, and it's fun when you have a good group of players together. Roles are defined before the raid, and people stick to what they're supposed to do until you achieve the objective. You work with the efficiency of the A-Team :-).

But sometimes you end up joining a group where people would rather be a glory hound than work as a team. Before you can say, "Wait, don't attack him yet," a power hungry player decides to forge ahead and just assumes everyone else will follow to save his butt. More often than not the entire group suffers (i.e. dies) because of the lack of teamwork.

So anyway, this guy plays 36 characters at the same time so he doesn't have to worry about getting a group of people together to do a raid.

On one hand I can understand that he doesn't want to deal with 1. having to get people together and 2. making sure they're able to work well with each other. I'm impressed at the steps he's willing to take to do that (he pays over $5000 in subscription costs a year).

On the other hand, a successful raid isn't only about winning, it's about being able to win because a group of strangers got together and they all communicated well enough with each other to make sure the objective was achieved, and they supported each other in doing it.

So let's say this guy does raid the big cities of Stormwind and Ironforge. And let's say he battles through a hundred guards plus a bunch of other players who want to defend the city. And let's say he wins. That's a major victory.

With whom does he celebrate?


Posted by Cecille Slish | 5:01 AM | 0 Comments |
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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

You Know You're a Geek Couple When...

Current Mood:
CC is listening to: Nothing right now

You know you're a geek couple when, for Valentine's Day, you get your husband:
  • a "Knights who formerly said Ni" t-shirt and
  • a "42" t-shirt

And he gets YOU a RAM upgrade for your laptop :-).


Posted by Cecille Slish | 6:15 AM | 1 Comments |
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Sunday, February 08, 2009

Letter from the USCIS

Current Mood:
CC is listening to: the BBC America channel

Got this in the mail Saturday...

Request for Applicant to Appear for Naturalization Initial Interview
N400 Application for Naturalization

Please come to:
# 121
On (Date): XXXday, March XX, 2009 (first week of March)
At(Time): XX:XX AM

You are hereby notified to appear for an interview on your Application for Naturalization at the date, time, and place indicated above. Waiting room capacity is limited. Please do not arrive any earlier than 30 minutes before your scheduled appointment time. The proceeding will take about two hours. If for any reason you cannot keep this appointment, return this letter immediately to the USCIS office address listed below with your explanation and a request for a new appointment; otherwise, no further action will be taken on your application.

If you are applying for citizenship for yourself, you will be tested on your knowledge of the government and history of the United States. You will also be tested on reading, writing, and speaking English, unless on the day you filed your application, you have been living in the United States for a total of at least 20 years as a lawful permanent resident and are over 50 years old, or you have been living in the United States for a total of 15 years as a lawful permanent resident and are over 55 years old, or unless you have a medically determinable disability (you must have filed form N648 Medical Certification for Disability Exception, with your N400 Application for Naturalization).

You MUST BRING the following with you to the interview:
  • This letter.
  • Your Alien Registration Card (green card).
  • Any evidence of Selective Service Registration.
  • Your passport and/or any other documents you used in connection with any entries into the United States.
  • Those items noted below which are applicable to you:
If applying for NATURALIZATION AS THE SPOUSE of a United States Citizen:
  • Your marriage certificate.
  • Proof of death or divorce for each prior marriage of yourself or spouse.
  • Your spouse‚Äôs birth or naturalization certificate or certificate of citizenship.
If applying for NATURALIZATION as a member of the United States Armed Forces;
  • Your discharge certificate, or form DD 214.
If copies of a document were submitted as evidence with your N400 application, the originals of those documents should be brought to the interview.

PLEASE keep this appointment, even if you do not have all the items indicated above.

I had to read it a couple of times to be sure. It's only been 4 months! Holy cow, I better get back to studying :-).


Posted by Cecille Slish | 3:42 PM | 0 Comments |
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Playing "Tourist in Memphis"

Current Mood:
CC is listening to: La Tinaja--Strunz & Farah (Heat of the Sun)

This weekend was the first really nice weekend in a month. It's been so cold the past few weeks that when the weather guy said it was going to be almost 70 this weekend I told Steve, "We HAVE to go somewhere outdoors this weekend. It would be a shame to waste the wonderful weather."

To my Filipino readers, imagine being in Baguio during one of the coldest times of the year. It's so cold and bleak and gray that you're almost miserable. Then, after 3 weeks of that, the weatherman says the weather is going to be like Tagaytay. You'd want to go out too :-).

So anyway, I was talking with my co-worker Diane and told her that I didn't know what Steve and I were going to do during the weekend. She made a fabulous suggestion: go downtown and play tourist.

I've been here since 2004 and I still haven't truly explored downtown. Isn't that sad?

Well okay honestly part of the reason is that Memphis's downtown is not the kind of downtown that you would necessarily call "family-friendly." The city government is trying to revitalize it, and you can see the potential, but it's still got a long way to go. Steve and I kind of get depressed just driving down there. Some sections, it's like a ghost town. Businesses are closed and boarded up, graffiti on the walls, things like that. It's very... gritty, in both the literal and figurative senses.

But I guess when you think about it, that's why the words "Memphis" and "the blues" often go together. It kind of doesn't make sense for Memphis to be known for the blues if you're surrounded by suburbia :-).

There are some pockets where downtown is great, though. Steve had said yesterday that downtown was such a study in contrast: you look to your right and you've got swanky houses and condos that must have cost millions of dollars, you look to your left and you've got warehouses you're afraid to walk past during the day, much less at night.

So anyway--playing tourist in Memphis. I figured our itinerary would be to visit one of the downtown museums, have lunch at one of the restaurants that tourists often go to, and then ride the downtown trolley, and that would be enough for one afternoon :-). We decided (okay *I* decided, but Steve liked the idea :-)) we'd visit the Belz Museum of Asian and Judaic Art, and then have lunch at the Blues City Cafe :-).

Me in front of the museum entrance...

which was practically next to one of the trolley stations--convenient :-)

The Belz Museum was amazing. The two sentences Steve and I said the most during the entire visit were:

"Look at the detail on this thing!" and "Man, how come we've never thought of visiting this museum before?"

Steve standing in front of a sculpture of running horses made entirely out of jade

Steve next to the male foo dog...

...and me next to the female

messin' with the Monkey King...

"No, no, your leg should be up higher, like this..."
"He does look like Jet Li, doesn't he?"
(Jet Li played the Monkey King on the movie The Forbidden Kingdom)

One of the many ceremonial robes on display

Close-up of the embroidery


One thousand?

Close-up shot of just one of the tiers

Close-up of the base of the pagoda.
Yeah they probably WOULD number a thousand...

Japanese Okimono

One of them close up

An eagle sculpture made of rose quartz. I should've put something next to it for scale, but you can see part of a door to the left of the sculpture's base

There were lots of bone and ivory sculptures on display. This was one of the most impressive ones.

Front view

Zooming in...

...and in...

...and in.

Animal sculptures (mostly horses) made of semiprecious stones

Here's a pair made of tiger's eye...

...and a pair made of jade and tiger's eye.

View from the other side

A jade carriage!

View from the back

"Look at the detail on this thing!"

Steve and the carriage

There were quite a number of these tusk sculptures, and they were really impressive. That's the tusk of a mammoth.

To give you an idea of the scale of one of these things.

This was one of my favorites. There was an element of perspective on the sculpture.

It starts out small at the top, because it's supposed to be farther away...

...then it gets bigger...

...and bigger...

...until you get to the sculpture's full size at the base.

This is when we were on the Judaic side of the museum.

Close-up of the torah

There were several neat bronze relief sculptures, too. The artist is world-renowned Israeli sculptor Daniel Kafri. This one is "Samson and Delilah."

"The Judgment of Solomon"

"Saul and David"

"The Sacrifice of Isaac"

This was one of the many large artworks on the wall, which, when you look at it closer... see that it's paper cut art. We once did something like this for art class in high school, and I realized early on during the project that I had no patience for it, so seeing this level of detail was humbling :-).

I'm not very familiar with Jewish artwork, so this gallery was an incredible introduction for me :-).

After that it was time for lunch so we walked over to the Blues City Cafe, which was about a block and a half away, on Beale street.

Beale Street, "Home of the Blues."

The inside of the Blues City Cafe

After lunch we walked along Beale Street a bit, and came across the oldest general store in the South, and the only original business left on Beale Street: A. Schwab's general goods store.

Photo from Wikipedia

A. Schwab was definitely an experience :-). You walk in, and your first thought is: "Oh man, this place is OLD." You see it in the architecture, it's got that "really old house" smell, and you hear it on the floorboards when you walk around.

It's HUGE though. It's the kind of place that sneaks up on you and then sucks you in. You walk in and tell yourself, "Yeah, we're not going to be spending much time in here," but then you see things like toys from WAY long ago for sale, and really funny stuff like scented candles labeled "Bad Outhouse." There were three rows of neat crazy hats that Steve and I had fun trying on.

Photo from

There's definitely a lot of history in the store. Steve and I noticed two small, old drinking fountains side by side along the wall that you can tell had to have been about 50-60 years old. If you knew your American history, you knew why there would be two. At first I wondered why those fountains hadn't been taken down, but then I realized it was so people like me who weren't born during that time see what life was back then, and appreciate how far we've come.

One of the neatest sections in the place was a little "museum" of sorts where people were allowed to touch the items. I saw a cash register that I only ever really saw in old movies, and it was a treat to be able to touch one and play cashier for a few minutes :-)

Here's a video of Steve trying it out. I was asking him to tell me what he was punching in, but I don't think he heard me :-). Can you imagine how long it took to check out groceries back in the day :-)?

After spending a good 45 minutes in A. Schwab, it was off to ride the trolley :-). There was a Riverfront Loop route and it only cost us a dollar each :-).

Steve looking out the window during the ride

Me in the trolley

This is the Pyramid, an arena that can seat over 20,000 people.

In case you're wondering, "Of all shapes, why a pyramid?" It's because the city's name comes from the ancient capital city of Memphis in Egypt, which is along the Nile River. Memphis in Egypt, along the bank of the Nile : Memphis in TN, along the bank of the Mississippi.

It was a great way to spend a nice comfortable afternoon :-). Another weekend Steve and I will go see the Pink Palace and the Children's Museum of Memphis :-).


Posted by Cecille Slish | 7:01 AM | 0 Comments |
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