Monday, January 26, 2009

Wintry Mix

Greetings, from freezing cold Columbia, MO! This is the town where I went to graduate school, for those of you who didn't know. My firm actually does all of the internal audit work for the University of Missouri system, so I'm here to audit their office that handles all of the gifts to the University, except for athletic departments gifts, because everyone knows that athletes are special and don't really have anything to do with the university other than in name. It would be pretty awesome to be here, except it is sleeting and is supposed to snow 5" overnight, which means tomorrow will be very much not fun. Alas, such is life sometimes.

On the plus side, I learned tonight that Southwest Airlines now flies to Toronto, Ontario, so my decision on where to go for vacation this summer has now been settled.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Anime Soundtrack Reviews

Remember when I used to write reviews of anime soundtrack albums for the website Anime Dream? Me too! It turns out that I still do that, as is noted here.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Things I've Learned in Detroit

Yesterday, I learned that if I eat really hot buffalo wings, I get sick. Like, "coming back for a visit" sick. Good to know!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

How Do We Kill Superman?

Greetings, again, from beautiful (i.e., freezing) downtown Detroit! I am back for another week to wrap up my audit project here at GM HQ. I would like to state for the record that I have realized why Southwest charges less for its flights but everyone doesn't stop using the big legacy carriers. The reason is that Southwest flights have the highest chance of surrounding you with people's screaming hellspawn. We had no less than three members of the Screaming Hellspawn Brigade on my flight up here on Monday, and it was not fun. You never run into screaming hellspawn on the 6AM flights on American Airlines, I can assure you of that. And, because I can, here is a totally hilarious picture I ran across today.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Super Bowl Thoughts

So it turns out that the Arizona Kurt Warners are going to the super bowl this year. While I don't pay much attention to American Football, I'm pretty happy about this. Nothing against the Philadelphia Eagles, but pretty much everyone in St. Louis roots for the Arizona Kurt Warners (whether it is publically admitted or not), so it is pretty good to see them going to the Super Bowl for the first time ever. I remember back in '99 when I had only been in D.C. for about 6 months and the St. Louis Kurt Warners won the Super Bowl. I cared for American Football about as much then as I do now, but I took pride in the fact that my hometown team was able to win the big game. So, hopefully the Arizona Kurt Warners can make some history and bring home the trophy.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Frozen River, Part Deux

So this morning I decided to eat breakfast at the hotel restaurant, rather than just grabbing a coffee and donut at the Tim Horton's. The hotel restaurant is right on the Detroit River, and I got a window seat. This give me a great view of one of the weirder things I have seen in my life; a river covered by snow. That's right, it snowed last night and the river was completely frozen over and covered with snow. It looked like you could just walk right on over to Windsor, but I'm not sure that would be completely safe. And not just because the ice might be thin, but because the low last night was -11 degrees. That, my friends, is cold. Like, kill you all kinds of dead, cold.

Monday, January 12, 2009

You Know it is Cold When the River is Frozen

Greetings from frigid Detroit, Michigan. I'm back in the the Motor City for two weeks in order to do an audit over how some company you may have heard of accounts for something. It's not very exciting, really. However, the Detroit River has large (like football field size) chunks of ice in it lazily floating down the river, which is pretty cool. You may remember that when I was first here back in the spring I commented on how it was weird to go somewhere and then never step outside the entire week. Well, now it is so cold that I am glad I don't have to step outside at all. Seriously, it's like 5 degrees and it's supposed to snow 6 inches over night. So, hooray for all-enclosed office/entertainment complexes!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Imperial Infantry Squad

As it turns out, not every game in my collection is a good one. Today's stinker is Imperial Infantry Squad, an old board game by Judges Guild that purpots to let you fight some kind of war 1000 years in the future between humans and lizard-like aliens. Before I discuss how bad this game is, let me give you a bit of history.

Back when I was in college, I found another board game by Judges Guild, City State Warfare. That game was great; it was pretty simple, but it played quickly and it had decent tactics behind it. That game was essentially a fantasy wargame, though it also had historical scenarios that you could play. It even included rules for using it in a fantasy RPG, if you were so inclined. It was just a lot of fun. So, a year or so ago, I was tooling around Boardgamegeek and learned that Judges Guild had also made a sci-fi wargame. I figured it would be fun, like City State Warfare was fun, but ooooohh, how wrong I was.

Imperial Infantry Squad comes with four sets of counters. The first are dark blue counters, which generally represent your average schmuck with a rifle. Second are the light blue counters, which generally represent professional soldiers in power armor. The third are red counters, which represent the aliens. Fourth are white status counters, artillery counters, and everything else that isn't an infantry unit or a heavy weapon. This counter art is OK, even though the average infantry schmucks look like they are dressed for the American Revolutionary War. The problem is that each of the four corners of the counters have numbers on them that represent their abilities in the game, and some of the counters are printed such that their numbers are cut off when you pop the counters out. It's not a critical failure, but it is annoying.

The game comes with two maps with varying terrain on it. Facing does not matter at all, and there is no zone of control. Each unit is simply in a hex, and can attack anyone in any direction as long as they are within range. Combat itself is pretty simple. First, you add up the attack factors of all the units attacking a hex. Then you compare that to a chart, look up any terrain effects, and roll two dice. You cross-reference the die roll (modified by terrain effects) to the chart, and that tells you if you missed, disrupted the unit, or killed it.

There are three levels of disruption. A disrupted unit can not shoot and moves at half speed, but there are no other effects. There also appears to be no difference between having one, two, or three points of disruption, other than that it will take you longer to become undisrupted the more disruption you have (as a leader can remove one point of disruption a turn).

And here is where the game falls completely apart; who is a leader? The rulebook mentions leaders, but nowhere on any of the counters does it mention anything being a leader. I'm left to assume that the units with lousy combat stats compared to the rest are leaders, but I'm not sure about that. That is not the only problem with the rulebook, either. In the appendices in the back, where it gives rules for using this game with a sci-fi RPG, it has tables for determining how many men in a destroyed unit are actually dead, vs. just injured or fled from combat. There, it mentions having too much disruption as a way of getting a unit destroyed. The main rules don't say anything about that, though. So which is right? Can a unit take too much disruption and be destroyed? I sure hope so, because even with a ridiculously high combat factor it is about impossible to directly kill anything. Seriously, I had three space marines putting hot lead into this pathetic infantry dude, and they couldn't kill him, just disrupt him; over and over again.

There are more problems with the rulebook than what I have mentioned, but I think you can tell where I'm going with this. This game is a stinker and will likely never be played again by me.


I find myself a bit depressed today. There's no particular reason for it, though I think it has to do with a combination of lousy cold weather, crazy work stuff, working too much, and the start of the new year. Yes, some people get energized by January, but I find it a bore and just want it to get itself out of the way. Anyway, when I'm feeling a bit down, I have some sure-fire things I can do to make myself feel better. I can listen to cool music (I actually have specific albums that I keep for when I get depressed), I can drink tea (tea always makes me feel better, and I broke out my super special orange oolong tea today), or I can eat cool food. And today's cool food was waffles. In my brand new waffle maker. I got it earlier in the week, through the judicious use of my American Express points. So I tripped on out to Schnucks yesterday and got this fancy-pants organic corn meal waffle mix, which I whipped up this morning and ate what in all truthfulness was probably too many waffles. But, still, it was cool. I've never had a waffle maker before, and my family can tell you that during winter (especially around Christmas time), Aaron needs his waffles.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

My Spirit is Blue

One of the many disappointments that one can encounter in modern life is hearing about a movie, hoping that it will be good, and then finding out that said is in fact NOT good. I'm feeling this way about The Spirit. I like the comic books (it's one of the current books I read regularly), and all the reviews I am reading say that the movie really isn't like the comic books. The movie seems to be like Starship Troopers in that they take some of the overall trappings of the original story and then gut the thing like a fish in order to put the trappings onto a great big pile of poo instead. I guess that a story about a goofy yet charming guy who is supposed to be dead who punches bad guys in the face isn't enough for a modern audience, so they have to make the whole thing into some kind of post-modern statement on the frailty of civilization or something. Depressing. Maybe I'll still eventually see it, but it's moving into the "Netflix it" category.