Monday, April 30, 2007

Proud of my 10 Year-Old Daughter

My 10 year-old daughter, Maria de Guadalupe, had her first real fight with a boy on Sunday, April 29th. The subject was one black 13 year-old boy, who was surrounded by his four friends, roughly equaling his age.

The fight, like so many real fights, was very quick, and really only involved one blow. At our local Southern Baptist Church, Harvest Baptist Church, some adults had handed one piece of candy to each child. The children went outside the back of the church (really a rented house) to play and eat.

We live in the North East section of town, which is predominantly black. Pastor David Middlebrooks and his his three sons, daughter and virtuous wife are also, and I love showing my son, Jose Francisco, the Pastor's grown sons, David, Darius (his third, DJ, is still at home), because they are such fine examples of good men. They're strong, smart, educated, and most definitely "mens' men." Jose Francisco's face lights up every time he sees them, and David and Darius call him their little buddy.

The young boys Maria dealt with, however, were new to the church, and undoubtedly did not come from as good a family as the Pastor's sons. When presented with one piece of candy a piece and a selfish desire for more, one of the boys decided to steal a piece of candy from a six year-old black girl.

Maria de Guadalupe stepped up to the 13 year-old boy. She's 101 pounds, 4'11", and most people, in part due to her height and in part due to her Latin blood endowing her earlier than white girls, think she's 12.

"You better give that back to her," she warned him. They quickly exchanged words, his to the effect of "No" with disdain and, upon one last warning from her that she'd make him, he and his friends laughed.

Now, bare in mind, I have taught Maria the basics of making a fist, forming a line with her hand bones and forearm, shown her how easy it is to gouge out an eyeball, where pressure points are, and the infamous "Kick them in the balls" trick. She'd nailed me there just the day before after I had, whilst sparring with her, hit her in the side of the ribs and her shoulder. I do these exercises for obvious reasons.

Maria was wielding, or wearing rather, large pump shoes. So she stomped on the 13 year old boy's foot so hard he nearly fell over. He hopped on one foot, she said, and yelped and nearly cried, but looked at his friends and "looked like my brother, realizing he was a boy and couldn't cry."

I asked her "What did his friends do?"

"They looked like 'We're not going to mess with her.' " And they didn't, nor was anyone else's candy stolen.

I told her that she did just the right thing, and that had he responded by punching her in the face, or continuing the fight, she would have gone after him just like she does me when she's had enough. "You would have come back at him so hard he would be unable to keep 'playing.' " I told her. She just said "Yep."

She was embarrassed at the attention I lavished on her, and wasn't proud of the fight but rather what she accomplished with it: the gave the piece of candy back to the six year-old girl, and her look was one of happiness and amazement.

Bare in mind that none of her siblings were around; Dulce Maria was still inside with Jose Francisco and Alejandrita, which Dulce confirmed of course. The 20 year-old daughter of an adult member of the church had stepped inside, apparently being bored. So Maria was outside, without an adult, facing 5 older boys, and it didn't matter. Even so, it was a battle well picked - she hit the ringleader, hit him while he was laughing and not expecting it, hit him with the only weapon she had (her thick pump shoes) right where it would work the best - in the fragile bones of the feet, which I've also shown her in the past.

(To be precise, her strike was aimed not at toes, but at the metatarsal bones of the foot.)

God, I love these children.

Maria knew the ages of the boys because newcomer kids give their name and age at the start of the service.

Oh! And her reward: I'm thinking of two options - buying her a $54 DVD set of Planet Earth (she loves nature shows but dislikes the "in your face" style of the late Croc Hunter) - or something else she and her sisters might enjoy: WiiPlay which bundles another Wii Remote. If you have any opinions on the two, please drop them in my comments.

I made an addendum to this post. Maria read this blog post for accuracy and added a piece of the story she had omitted before.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Family has been sick, and speaking of sick...

By Wednesday, 3 out of 4 of my children were sick, excluding my oldest daughter.

I woke up on Thursday morning early (6:15am) so I sat down to wait for 7am at my computer. I knew something was wrong when nobody got up. Not my firstborn, not my wife, not even the baby boy. At 7:25am I crept in and saw the children all looked like they had sweated all night long. My wife was in similar shape, so I cleaned the living room and kitchen (save washing dishes, noisy dishwasher) and waited for 8:25am, at which point I called work and told Rich my situation, and to ask a manager to call me back if they'd like. I wasn't sick, and while my family could have survived without me, I would not have felt good about that.

Now here's the cool thing - I kept everyone hydrated all day, made the kids stay still (broke our TV rules and set up hours of Blues Clues and Azumanga Daioh for them, the latter of which I watched as my children can't watch any anime without me - not because I like anime, but because I know how quickly something inappropriate but funny to Japanese folks can crop up) - but it was the cleaning in the morning Maria Alejandra kept thanking me for at the end of the day.

Friday, I've done much the same, but they've been more self-managing. Jose Francisco still looks like he's in the process of turning into a vampire - his eyes are red, he has rings around his eyes, he holds his mouth open all the time, and his lips are flush and his face is pale. Vampirism! That's it!

Speaking of Sick...
I've had all the Supreme Commander I can tolerate in one single day, I think. Friday being easier, as I haven't had to ferry food and drinks to bedridden family members, but rather help Maria (well, both of them) with the kids.

The final game runs better, but 4 players with 500 units apiece still slows down Pharra. What I dislike, ultimately, is that it's not a strategy game, it's an arcade game. The only strategy revolves around what order you build things in and what units you produce. For all of Chris Taylor's boasting about it's strategy game controls, and it has the best I've seen, there's not much to do with that. You just overwhelm.

Sure, there's strategy in the rock, paper, scissors, air supremacy, naval supremacy, land domination game-play - but it's all about momentum. That's it. Just keep up momentum.

After a while, and many games, you come to see what is like in a thing - and it's the momentum, and I just don't care to keep it up - it's always the same.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

RIAA debacle reveals hidden truth

Everyone knows:

  1. File sharing copyrighted material is illegal.
  2. You have to use a Peer to Peer file sharing program and send copyrighted files for the RIAA to go after you - though there are plenty of noted exceptions, it goes without saying: If every claim the RIAA made was totally specious, every defendant would hold their innocence and show up to court to avoid summary judgment.
  3. The RIAA is attacking people with intimidation.
What's fascinating about this whole debacle isn't that the RIAA is ethically and morally wrong in how they attack people, making false litigious claims, suing whole families and so on...

It is fascinating that the Internet public at large has galvanized into a pure hatred of the RIAA, one that is not reflected in the outside world. Joe Schmo has no real opinion of the matter, or might even say "File Sharing is wrong!" Certainly Republicans with vast investments actually support the RIAA for supporting their interests as shareholders.

What this tells me is that the legal problems with the RIAA isn't really the issue: the issue is a kind of business/cultural revolution, one that only people involved in the Internet really have the ability to know about and partake in.

As I've pointed out before:
  1. RIAA: Guilty of not following the market
  2. One Man Understood What Market He Was In
  3. Suing Innovation models have changed, but moreover, how people want to interact with content has changed, and how they want to treat it. These things aren't going away with Fascist strong-arm tactics - at least not in this country.

So remember next time you hate the RIAA, remember your own hypocrisy: are you downloading free music, but smart enough to do so over encrypted bit torrent protocols? Realize what you are: you're a revolutionary engaged in an illegal activity, active in something that isn't recognized as a revolution (so you won't be treated nicely). calling something a grand revolution which isn't. It's just the standard, changing market, shifting to yet another piece of technology that changes the way people do things faster than business models, and laws, can adjust.

We are not idealic soldiers if all we do is sit back and download. We are opportunists, waving our fists in the air hoping one day we'll be legitimatized. As of yet, the market has not found an equilibrium, and sitting back and bit torrenting only helps further the need for change - it does not create balance and harmony in and of itself.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Cutest Thing Happened Last Night

Jose Francisco is a very Latin baby boy. You cannot convince him of anything he doesn't already agree with, or decides on his own terms that he agrees with. This includes:

  • Having fun in a bouncy air-filled gym with 40 balloons and his two little sisters already inside playing. He took 20 minutes to consider this before deciding it was good and had fun.

  • Kissing anyone. My mom has gotten frustrated with him many times because he won't kiss her, which would be flat rude if it was me. I kiss anyone who asks for one (cheeks mostly, exception daughters, wife and mom).

  • The last time I was smacking Dulce on the arm three times for shoving her little sister, he came running up to me and hit me on the leg with a fist.

    I decided the two smacks I already gave Dulce was good and made him feel that his bravery and confronting the most terrifying thing for a baby boy - an angry father - got him what he wanted: I stopped.

    I didn't leave him unscathed and I went "ARRGH" at him, to demonstrate I was mad and if he was going to fight, he had to be prepared for the target's reaction. His response was to go "UHN, UH!" at me and wave a hand, and I relented, and told Dulce to hug him.

  • Absolutely everything else.
His oldest sister, my 10 year-old daughter, Maria de Guadalupe, is his little momma. He called her "Marr" until recently, now he also calls her "Lupe" (loo-pay).

Well he likes to go to sleep with his mother and he likes to sleep with Maria. Switching this rarely works - sometimes he likes to sleep with his mother, but he usually won't go to sleep with his sister. He will, however, wake up if she or her mother is not there.

Last night Maria was sleeping and he woke her up kicking her for space. He'd gotten himself splayed out on the bed such that he was taking up the whole thing. She gently picked him up to move him and he mumbed, in Spanish, "I love Maria" or "La quiera Maria..." or in Jose Francisco speak, "ra quira marr."

She didn't know what he was dreaming, but as, during the day, you're lucky if you can get a hug from him, she was touched, kissed him on the hair and went back to sleep but remembered the story to tell us in the morning.

He is a good baby boy. He loves his family, his sisters, his mother, his father, his grandmothers... but he doesn't show it like I do. You have to watch what he does.

Running up to a father who is holding and hitting his sister and attacking him? That's love, I think, and while the description isn't reality, from a baby boy's eyes it might have been closer to what he saw.

I feel sorry for my mom, of course. She's a sweetheart and loves demonstrative love, and Jose Francisco just doesn't have any of that to give. She said it right, once: "I love Jose Francisco, and always will, but I'm glad I had you (me) and not him for a son."

Maybe she should think what he'd do if I yelled at her.

How to Cure your Children of Wanting to Play MMO's

Answer? Let them play them. But make sure to

  1. Be there with them.
  2. Have them follow you and your guild members.
  3. Give them enough rope to hang themselves.
  4. Do everything you can to make their stay better, literally, that way they won't think you conspired against them, and on the surface, you didn't. You let the stress of the MMO and the Guild do it for you.
I got back on City of Heroes / City of Villians, though the latter wasn't part of the picture when I left, joining my friend Kevin in Virginia. After a few nights playing, my 10 year old daughter, Maria de Guadalupe, asked me if she could play with us. I realized the game came with a 14 day free trial so I said "Sure."

Now you might ask "Why is a father introducing his TEN YEAR OLD GIRL to the world of Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games?!"

Here's why, and the result of the evening, in an e-mail I sent to my friend Kevin and my lovely Latin wife...

Last night was too much fun. And most of that was either
  • Watching Maria become frustrated with MMO's or
  • Watching my minions slay the enemy.
I genuinely wanted to give Maria de Guadalupe the chance - it was just like D&D, I just laid all that rope out there (the old adage of giving the D&D players enough rope to hang themselves and sitting back as the DM) and did nothing on my own part to make her time miserable, other than demonstrate how a team can be frustrated with another team member's ineptitude. After that, she, once again, got stuck on some stairs with enemies hitting her, and we risked ourselves to save her, and I'm sure she understood that. Nobody likes to watch their friends go through hardship because they did something wrong.

And, as I told you, when she wanted to watch her Spanish soap opera I reminded her that you and I had gone through a lot of trouble so she could play, and what were we going to do now that she's leaving? (Soap Opera: Not like the States, they last only 6 months a piece and this one is about an ugly girl who has the most beautiful personality and intellect, literally titled "The Ugly More Beautiful," or translated I would say "The most beautiful ugly girl." Sweet show, actually. Imagine an American Soap Opera that stars an ugly lead girl. The actress is kinda like Carrie-Ann Moss/Princess Leia: pretty only if you really truss her up, and they dressed her way down for this show - Like Carrie, she's the unbeautiful progeny of two other famous actors. Unlike Carrie, she can act very well, and has, up until winning the lead on this show, made a living in comedy shows.)

Anyway, so she got to feel
  • "MMO's dictate when you can play them because of who you have to play them with."
  • She got to feel "Pulls are bad."
  • She got to feel "Not being able to navigate the world is bad."
  • She got to feel "There are some real creeps out there." (Start area creeps trying to flirt with her father playing a girl character - she's 10, and she's a girl, she's not stupid, and she can read, and all she told me afterwards were there were some really bad people online.)
She also got plenty of good. She seemed to like seeing you, but she told me afterwards you didn't talk much. I told her "You weren't in the room with me, but you're right, he's kinda quiet. When he talks, it's usually interesting." That, she knows, is like her mother. She enjoyed our social RP before you joined us most of all, I think. I will never, ever show her Second Life. Actually she wouldn't like that either - too many creeps.

But... I'm glad. If she had liked it I would have kept playing with her and taught her how to be responsible concerning the time spent playing. Either way, as she likes her NDS and some PC games, I knew MMO's (as they are the future) were going to be in her life at some point, and I figured, opportunity knocking with her saying she wanted to play with us, there was no better chance to teach her the ins and outs.

Lastly, one day my 10 year old little girl will be reading Daddy's blog, and she won't mind coming across this. She knows I do lots of things like this to teach her about the world, rather than just try to tell her how it is.

Friday, April 20, 2007

RAIDEN III, Lord of the Rings, Left 4 Dead and Supreme Commander

The Lord of the Rings: Online Sucks. It's largely like the World of Warcraft; however, in this game, getting lost on your 3rd mission and wandering around for forty minutes is FUN. Apparently it gets worse.

I downloaded Raiden III and am in love with it - I might acquire the PS2 version. Dual player support on one input device is supported in the PS2 version, and perhaps the PC - I can't read Japanese. At any rate, it's really a remake of Raiden II in 3d with modifications, and that's grand. It has replay modes that show you Seibu Kaihatsu's best playing through the mission you completed in one life, and demonstrates how to beat bosses and evade their attacks. The greatest thing about the Raiden Shoot-'Em-Up series is that if you play correctly, there is always a way out - you are never hemmed in by shots until you are dead unless you just aren't playing well. Actually Raiden III was developed by MOSS, licensed by Seibu Kaihatsu. I just thought it sounded cooler.

I want Left 4 Dead to come out.

I got Supreme Commander as well, but haven't installed it yet. So many games.

"Super Gas Chamber Tycoon 1943"

This post against the post that supports the "Super Columbine Massacre RPG" has the funniest quote I've seen all day.

Next I want to see "Super Srebrenica Massacre RPG" and "Virginia Tech: Perfectly Executed".

At least "JFK: Reloaded" waited, you know... a while.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Lord of the Rings: Online

So I downloaded that and tried it - there are 6 days left. I'm on the Vilny server, top left option. It appears to be an RP server, as I saw only one name that wasn't RP, and saw several people use "OOC:" in their chats.

Executive Summary
The game leaves me unimpressed. It is a very good WoW clone. That's not exactly a compliment. It is artistically pleasing, and the first MMO with that distinction since WoW that I've seen.

It's not as user friendly as WoW and that might really kill it. In WoW, you pick up quests that are clearly identifiable and immediately do them. You can pick up several and accidentally do them. In this game, I spent two hours and didn't get near as many quests done, nor could I follow them as easily as in WoW. Hard to explain, but it just happened that way - I was a member of American Mensa, so I don't think it's because I'm just dumb. That said, it wasn't boring or punishing, because I kept playing.

To do anything with your levels you have to find a trainer, which is kind of homosexual, but expected. Perhaps I'm just used to WoW's inventory system, but I like it better than LotR:O. The inventory system appears to be a functional copy, without directly copying - I'm sure Blizzard has patented something.

The game does not assume you know about the lore of the Lord of the Rings, and each race lets you choose a nation / land of origin, which alters what color hair and skin you can have. Making a red-headed Pharra required that she come from Rohan, not Gondor, which I thought was cool.

The graphics are incredibly good and smooth. The bad part is that everything is easy to see even in the dark, so nothing is very scary. I did experience the "Dread" effect when I saw a Nazgul though, my screen got dark and contrasty and my vision blurred - that was disorienting so I backed off quickly. Neat, but I haven't seen it used since.

Combat & Classes
The combat feels kind of like WoW with a Warrior, having played around with a Guardian and a Champion (Warrior Tank / Warrior DPS).

I must say that the LotR setting has hurt the game classes, although I'm sure it will save the game as far as people actually joining it. I'm sure it will be a commercial success, a viable game, but not a killer MMO.

The reason? Well since The Lord of the Rings canon says there were only five wizards during the end of the Third Age, "Lore Masters," "Minstrels" and "Burglars" all suffer. We have three classes that are really "Warriors with different skill trees" in WoW:

Captain - a Warrior who handles group buffs and agro.
Champion - a Warrior who hurts things.
Guardian - a Warrior who handles agro and tanks.

That's really a whole lot of warriors.

Other than that, there's a Hunter! Which is really a ranged Warrior.

Perhaps, at higher levels, the differences will be more pronounced, but there's a 15 level cap in the BETA (out of 50) and this is what I've seen so far.

Minstrels heal, supposedly, as does the Lore Master class - which is "NOT A WIZARD!" but pretends to be. How... strange.

Split Servers
All of that said, it is better than I expected, and should be a viable game. Once again, the game is split into servers, which is homosexual, so you can't play with your friends like you can in Awesome Guild Wars, which is un-awesome in about every OTHER aspect, if you're holding it to the MMO candle.

Lifetime Membership and stuff
For $199 you can get a lifetime membership if you order now, and pre-ordering gives you rights to $10 a month instead of $15 forever, if you don't opt for big bucks.

It Will Probably Sell
Given the licensing and the setting, I think this MMO will not die horribly. It will probably find its niche, like City of Heroes, etc., and do well.

Remember, Dave hates MMO's, with a Passion
Also, bare in mind, I hate MMO's. I hate their repetition, the way they force you to play them, the way you can't tinker with a darn thing, etc. I hate that I can't hear a cool story from Dove or Kevin and go home, fire up the game and go meet them, lose interest and do it again in a few months. All I can do is live vicariously, and I'm content with that.

Lastly, I'd Like to Play it More
The terrain is really neat and I was really surprised about the names given to the characters. None of this "Prestochango" the Druid shit, or "Idoitfrombehind" Rogue bullshit names. I'd like to see what being in a Fellowship (party/guild) is like. But unlike City of Heroes, other than the setting, I can't think of why I should.

Oh yes, you can inhabit Monsters starting at level 10 and use them to attack other people in certain "free" zones where this is to be expected. From what I've read - you get the option to buy non-reusable buffs for your character for your trouble. Yay. Not. But nifty idea otherwise.

Friday, April 13, 2007

PS3: What, no jokes anymore?

Two important things to notice:

  1. Folks aren't bashing the PS3 as much lately on the Internet.
  2. The 20GB model PS3 has been largely discontinued.
I've noticed that folks on the Internet aren't bothering to bash the PS3 as much anymore (heck they aren't even searching for it), and that while Sony dropped the lower-end PS3, Microsoft never had to drop their bottom-of-the-barrel XBOX 360. Why?

Well, the answer is related.

As a friend of mine pointed out, we mock the things that we are afraid our friends might buy, but consider ourselves as having enough knowledge to think that we know something they don't and should warn them. That's something humans do. We don't bother mocking things we don't think our friends will buy - for example, nobody is going around mocking Betamax today, or the NCage.

The PS3 has passed that critical point where the hardcore (those of use who read everything, delve into everything about our hobby) feel that the PS3 is no longer a viable alternative that their friends might pick up.

The thing nobody says about the 20GB PS3 being discontinued is that it's the beginning of the end for the PS3 itself. The XBOX 360 Core model never went out of production because it kept selling, even though any gamer worth his salt would go for the XBOX 360 with a Hard Drive in it.

The PS3 is pretty much the same, only those who were going to buy PS3's, have largely already done so, and the whole crowd that would make up the "core system" buyers can't, or won't, because of the price.

The PS3 is dead. It is doomed. It is on its way to Saturn land. I am no longer sure it will limp by like the N64 or the GameCube; it's possible, but the future is unclear.

Dove just made a point: developers can't make games for the PS3 and make a profit. The flagship titles that the PS3 currently has use only 20% of its power, another 80% sits idly.

To the end consumer, what they see is 80% of what they paid for - does nothing.

In order for developers to make games that used the system, they would have to spend a solid year just on development of an engine and charge up to $100 per game to the consumer.

I update my prophecies to "The PS3 will not slide by" for the simple reason that the N64 (I think) and the GC (I know) did not operate at a loss per unit. Sony has over-extended themselves, and that would have worked if the system sold, or wasn't a billion dollars, or both. And so they eat cost, and eat even more for unsold units.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Random Updates

God of War II versus Greek Mythology (PS2)
Take a multi-part online video look at the mythos behind God of War II.

Rainbow Six: Vegas cooperative mode (PC)
This game is incredibly fun. So far, I'm good at blowing myself up with hand grenades, as is my friend, Kevin. When not enjoying the thrills of bouncing our grenades off of steel railing back at us, we enjoy ducking behind doorways, cars, walls, and arcade systems for cover, and killing the enemy. We use Teamspeak to communicate via voice.

Armed Assault (PC)
I'll mention it again, this is the seminole military simulator. My friend Dennis is hooked on this. Jock hates change - all change, even good change, like High Dynamic Range (HDR) lighting, because "it makes things harder to see."

Well - duh. That's what happens in real life. But he plays the game anyway.