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flamepanther

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O_O [29 Sep 2011|05:58am]
Holy crap, this thing is still here?
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My, Santa, what big... elephants... you have. [25 Jun 2008|05:42am]
[ mood | Perplexed ]

I used to always have vivid and bizarre dreams, but that's happened less in recent years--or at least I forget them upon waking.  Last night though, I had an odd one that was very vivid.

I was living at my mom's house again, except that it was bigger, and was for some reason open for strangers to stay in.  I was upset because some random hoodlum had broken my computer monitor.  Wanting to leave and clear my head, I decided to spend some time with my dad, and call him on my cell phone.

Jump to spending time with Dad.  Unfortunately, he is preoccupied talking theology to a bunch of people I don't know.  We're in a large building with lots of narrow halls that are covered in undecorated wooden paneling. Wandering around, I discover that it's a lodge for a secretive club/society of Christian men.  Nothing particularly sinister, but definitely a bit weird.  The atmosphere is a weird mix of joviality and stodginess. People who don't belong (besides me, but nobody seems to notice I don't fit in) are kept out at a guarded entrance.  I step out and discover that the lodge is nestled away in one corner of a gigantic shopping mall.

Great. Well in a mall this big (we're talking Mall of America here), I figure there has to be a toy store somewhere.  I could kill some time looking for Transformers, and possibly buy something.  But all the stores are closing.  For whatever reason, I decide to make a mad dash to find where the toy store is, instead of giving up.  Suddenly I'm on some sort of powered skateboard, which I'm not very good at controlling, and going very fast.  Giant decorations are falling from the ceiling around me, and I struggle to dodge them.  Several skater kid types are hanging around with similar high-tech boards, and seem to be enjoying themselves, doing tricks off the ramps and walls of the closing mall, but I'm generally just panicked.

I finally slow down, and I find myself in an outdoor food court sort of area, near a plant nursery and gardening store.  The open area is fairly large, but all of it is still surrounded by more mall.  I have no idea which way I came in from or how to get back to the lodge and my dad--since I seem to recall not using my own transportation to get to wherever this mall is.  Then, ahead of me and to my left, is a strange, gaudy, intricately decorated carriage.  I might describe the style as "Technicolor Baroque."  It's an open-topped carriage.  The carriage is drawn by two large purple elephants, each with two trunks.  Driving the carriage from inside (as there is no driver's seat in front of the passenger area) is... Santa Claus.

OK, what the hell.  "Santa!" I call out.  Slowly the carriage stops, and the bearded old man in red looks me over before responding.  "What is it you want, Daniel?"  I suppose it figures he would know who I am.  There is both kindness and disapproval in his eyes.  Maybe it's because I don't believe he exists.  "Can you tell me where my father is?" Did I just say "my father?"  Sounds like I did.  That's not what I talk like, but oh well.  Father Christmas nods once, slowly, and then points in a general direction.  "Oh, thank you!"

I begin to walk in the direction I was shown, when I feel a sudden sharp pain in my left shoulder.  Turning to look, I see the jaws of a large, very weird-looking dog.  It is as tall as a Great Dane and as muscular as a pit bull, but the head looks like it must've come from the world's largest, nastiest Chihuahua.  All of its teeth seem to be canine teeth (not just in that they belong to a dog), and they are all needle-like and razor sharp.  "Oh," says Santa with an unsettlingly menacing glance, "I forgot to mention.  There are dogs that way."  You don't say.  Several similar dogs have appeared in my path.  With a glare that seems to sear into the depths of my very soul, Saint Nicholas finishes, "Prove you are not afraid."


I swear this dream has to mean something, but I really don't want to try to figure it out right now.

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The long neglected update [13 Jun 2008|03:02am]
[ mood | discontent ]

Well, I've been needing an outlet for awhile, and somehow it hadn't really ocurred to me to use my LJ for that.  Oops.

Work hasn't been good to me these past several months, but I think maybe it's been good for me.  Between having an actual income again, not living with either of my parents, being able to commute to work every day, and being forced into difficult social interactions with dozens of people on a daily basis while presenting myself as confident and likable, I feel that I've been becoming the things I'm required to do or to pass myself off as. Being promoted to taking supervisor level DSL support calls especially helped with building my neglected people skills.

Now the bad part.  I've been moved from DSL to fiber optic support, mainly supporting TV service now instead of computers.  This comes with a raise, and the calls are easier and less unpleasant on the whole, but at the same time it's become more frustrating.  I don't feel that my technical skills are being put to good use anymore. You'd think with simpler issues, it would be better, but no.  Barring actual problems with the service, which are probably less than half of the calls I've taken in DSL internet or fiber video support, the issue is people who don't know how to deal with their equipment.  People don't have to be all that dim to not know how to use their computers. I'm now dealing with people who don't know how to use their television. Add to that the cabling that has to be verified (by phone, where I can't see it, and the person who can generally doesn't know what they're looking at) is more complicated, TVs don't have a standard set of system menus (at least any given version of Windows should be the same on anyone's PC), and our checklist of troubleshooting steps is much hazier. The tools we're given to work with are powerful and comprehensive, but also buggy and incredibly slow. Many of our less important resources don't work at all, due to an overzealous set of firewalls. They make us waste way too much time getting more information than we really need from the customer before we can help them, which often annoys the caller and doesn't do anything good for our handle times. Getting approval to dispatch or escalate when an issue is actually our service or equipment is a nightmare, when it should be very simple. Policies and procedures are changed on almost a daily basis, often with no notice to technicians on the floor. I'm having a very difficult time meeting the stats that are expected of us. Several of my coworkers agree that the expectations for our handle time are unrealistic, and yet because enough agents don't care about the customer and are good at finding ways to get rid of them without resolving the problem, we get our noses shoved in the fact that a number of people are meeting the stats.

The worst part is my current schedule.  I've gotten used to having three days off every week when I was doing DSL.  Granted, I had to work ten-hour shifts, and I always worked at least one day during the weekend, but three days off really helps clear away the crap from a job like this, and I had enough time during the actual weekend to be at least somewhat social.  Not anymore.  I'm only working eight hours each shift now, so that means only two days off every week.  Guess how many of those two days are on the actual weekend.  Zero.  I don't even get Friday, which is close enough that I'd accept it at this point.  I get Wednesdays and Thursdays.  I already have a hard enough time meeting anyone of the opposite sex that I'm interested in and who is interested in me (it's happened maybe a total of twice the in the last three years, and nothing much came of it then either).  Now I don't even have a chance.  I can't even spend evenings with people after work, because my shift is from 2:00 in the afternoon to 11:00 at night.  That same shift also keeps doing much before I go to work from being feasible either.  I'm lucky that some of my best friends either do not work, or have flexible schedules.  Otherwise, my social life would be just as dead and buried as my chances of dating.  I have to get out of this, but I'm not really sure how at this point, or what I will do if I can get out.

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Still here [15 Feb 2008|03:55pm]
[ mood | drained ]

Just a quick note to say that I'm still alive.  I occasionally stop in and read everyone's journals, but I'm usually too busy or too tired to take the time to post anything.  You'd all probably see more of me if my job allowed access to LJ from the computers in the break room, but they block the entire domain.  I'll try to post a substantial update sometime, but no promises.

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Good news! [15 Aug 2007|09:54pm]
I've got a new job!  I'm still in (paid) training for awhile, but I'll be doing tech support for a well-known DSL provider.  I dunno how wise it would be to provide more detail than that on a public blog.  The perks are good, and I've already made a few friends among my fellow trainees.

The bad news is I have to commute to Dallas, I'm still not back on the Internet full time, and, well... I'm back to doing tech support.  Oh well.  It could be a lot worse.
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Lost Treasure [12 Jul 2007|11:57am]
[ mood | excited ]

(posting from Mom's house)

I was going through Mom's dilapidated garage recently, looking for books to sell, when I found something completely unexpected.  Some of you may remember a few months ago when I posted that I had lost a lot of my artwork in a hard disk accident, including my senior project comic book scans, the original pencil drawings having suspiciously vanished just before I moved out of my evil ex-roommate's duplex.  I had completely failed to remember that when I had to display my work (which in my own estimation was barely even a rough draft) I hadn't displayed the original pencil drawings, but photocopies of them.  And there the copies were, sitting in a binder in the garage ever since my graduation, totally forgotten.

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Update [08 Jul 2007|12:13am]
Just so everyone knows, I'm without Internet access at home.  That's why you've seen even less of me than usual lately and also why you probably won't see much of me in the immediate future.
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It might not be a good idea... [21 May 2007|03:46am]
...to update core parts of your desktop from unofficial repositories when using Linux.  Just sayin'.
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Guess who's back! [13 May 2007|01:07am]
Eh, I suppose it wasn't that hard to guess, was it?  My computer is up and running with a new (using the term loosely) moterboard, and I'm back online.
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Computer = Dead [02 May 2007|05:43am]
[ mood | annoyed ]

My computer has slowly died over the last couple of days.  I can no longer get anything at all from the motherboard at power on, and I've tested it with a different power supply, so it seems it's the motherboard that's dead.  As luck would have it, the absolute cheapest board I can find to work with my other hardware is still a slight upgrade over what I had before, and will cost just a little over $60 after shipping.  As luck would also have it, I can kinda sorta afford that right now, thanks to a check I got from my grandparents recently.  Now let's hope luck has it that my board didn't take the CPU and RAM with it.

Nevertheless, I'll be without a computer for at least a few days.  I won't be able to post here or be available for IM during that time.

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Reunited! [24 Apr 2007|01:01am]
[ mood | relieved ]

Glitter is safe and sound at home again!  She finally made her way back to the parking lot of the apartment complex.  I was lucky enough to notice her hiding under one of the other cars, after a trip with Mom to Wal-Mart to buy staples and a staple gun to put up more fliers.  For a moment though, I was afraid I would lose her again, after finally finding her.  She was so frightened that her first reaction was to run away, about to dodge under a neighbor's wooden privacy fence, stopping to look back only a couple of feet from where I couldn't follow.  I had to call to her for what seemed like several minutes, but it wa probably really more like two.  She would call out to me in a desperate tone I've never heard her use before, back away, call out some more, come closer, and call out again, as though she were scared out of her wits but wasn't sure it was really me.  When she finally came close enough for me to pick her up, she was still visibly shaken, but didn't struggle.  She continued to make the same call at the top of her voice until I had carried her inside, where she reflexively hissed at bot Mom and David.

When she was safely back in my room, I gave her food and water, which she scarfed down hastily.  Normally, one of her favorite things is for me to pet her while she eats, but this time, she would growl at me when I tried to do so.  She must have had a difficult time getting food without being harassed by other cats.  The family that reported seeing her had also mentioned that she had been attacked by a flock of birds, and was becoming increasingly frightened.  After some food and water, she quickly started to turn from fearful of everything to clingy, and threw a huge fit when I left the room.  It may take some time for her to get completely readjusted, but she's already doing much better.  In the time that I have typed this, she has purred herself to sleep in the crook of my left arm.

Sweet dreams, Glitter.  May you never lose your way again.

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Found? [20 Apr 2007|07:09pm]
[ mood | hopeful ]

While I was out putting up fliers today, I met a family that's absolutely certain they've seen Glitter.  They regularly put food out for the local strays, just a few blocks from here, and a cat matching Glitter's description started showing up this week.  They say she comes by regularly, and definitely acts like she's used to being someone's pet.  The odds look pretty good, although I didn't find her when I checked the area.  Still, it's almost definitely Glitter, so at least I know she's alive, well, and fed.

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Glitter is missing. [16 Apr 2007|01:06am]
[ mood | worried ]

Well, I've finally moved. I've been in the apartment for about a week now. Unfortunately, sometime Saturday afternoon, Glitter snuck out of the apartment, and we still haven't been able to find her. I've got posters up around the neighborhood, but I don't know what else to do. I love that little cat so much, and the thought of anything bad happening to her, or even just never seeing her again really hurts.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

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Irony. [03 Apr 2007|01:13am]
4Kids exports a show to Japan.
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Updates, and FREE STUFF Part 2 [02 Apr 2007|08:33am]
It's been an interesting week for me. I went to see TMNT on Friday, which turned out to be completely awesome, and unlike any other comic book movie I've ever seen. I can see why the critics hate it, as its mode of storytelling is totally alien to a conventional film and much more akin to an actual comic book. The critics can sit on a cactus.

I spent Saturday moving some stuff over to the apartment. I took glitter along to let her explore the place a little and so that she and David's cats could get used to each other's scent, but they were kept separate.


I promised some free games, so here are a few of my favorites, all totally freeware:
(These are all for Windows unless otherwise noted)

Torus Trooper

Think "F-Zero meets Tempest, with the graphics of Rez." You've got a time limit to play the game. getting hit reduces the time you have left. Killing as many enemies as possible with a single charged shot gives you more time, but charging your shot slows your progress through the game. Make sure your shots buy you more time than you spent by slowing down.

Linux version of Torus Trooper here.
Mac OS X version here.

Cho Ren Sha 68k

This is a classic arcade space shooter of the sort you'd find on the Saturn or the PC-Engine, and looking every bit like it belongs there.

Eternal Daughter

An awesome game.  This is a platforming action RPG, much like most of the recent Castlevania games, although more challenging.  The graphics are clearly a tribute to SNES era RPGs.


More later.
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FREE STUFF - Part 1: Music [29 Mar 2007|12:21pm]
[ mood | cheerful ]

I like things that are free. It means I don't have to pirate them. It's not like I normally feel bad about most of the things I pirate, but I feel even better about things that I own legitimately. Getting stuff free is awesome and getting things legitimately is awesome, so getting things legitimately for free is beyond awesome. I've been using genuinely free stuff for a long time now, especially on my computer. I've been playing freeware games since forever, freeware tools for years, and for the last year or so, I've even been using Linux part time. It's especially been on my mind lately though, for two reasons. First, I've been testing the next version of Ubuntu (a Linux distribution, for those that aren't familiar) which I'm liking quite a lot, and also because I recently stumbled upon a site called "Jamendo." www.jamendo.com

Jamendo takes the generous "some rights reserved" licensing policy of free and open source software and applies it to music. It's full of songs in nearly every conceivable genre, often entire albums of it, nearly all of it provided under one of the Creative Commons licenses. It's all available legally and with the permission of the artists. Sometimes permission is also given to create derivative works from it. The music can be streamed live into your favorite media player on your computer or in their own browser plug-in. Links are provided to download the music in MP3 or OGG format via eDonkey or BitTorrent. Of course, like any huge collection of free stuff, there's a lot of crap to wade through to get to the good stuff, but there is some good stuff in there. Anyway, it's free and you don't have to sign up for anything, so there's really nothing to lose in checking it out. One odd thing I've noticed is that an overwhelming majority of the contributing musicians are French.

Well, since I'm pointing out free stuff, I might as well share some of my other favorite free things too. Next update, I'll put up links to some extremely cool freeware games.

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I've said it before [15 Mar 2007|11:45pm]
[ mood | aggravated ]

I hate moving.

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Followup [14 Mar 2007|12:15am]
[ mood | satisfied ]

So...

Mom got paranoid and didn't want her laptop leaving her house. I told her I had other things to do and couldn't spend all day at her house, and even if I could, I wouldn't work on her laptop without another functioning computer around. That was that. One less thing to do over the weekend.

Things went smoothly on Monday afternoon, and after a short drive with the most pleasant state trooper I ever met, I was given a license from the state of Texas to operate a motor vehicle. She told me I was the best driver to take the test so far that day.

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Stuff is finally happening! [10 Mar 2007|02:51am]
[ mood | hopeful ]

...and I'm feeling positive. This will be my longest post in awhile.

I went to the DPS early yesterday morning (since it's now past midnight) to see about taking the actual driving portion of the driving test to finally get my license. They were booked for the day, but I'm now scheduled to try for my license on Monday afternoon. Dad doesn't think I'll have any trouble passing. Go me. On a related note, Dad and Johnnie have agreed to let me have the Firebird, instead of selling it. Score! I've wanted a Firebird since I was a kid.

Earlier tonight, I went with Charlie (my stepsister) to Grapevine to watch Pan's Labyrinth. Excellent movie! I've been told by a couple of people that it's definitely not meant for children, but I'm inclined to disagree. I get the impression that it was made for children, but by someone who doesn't believe in coddling and overprotecting them, much like the proper fairy tales of old. We've grown too soft. Anyway, I found the film gripping, beautiful, disturbing, moral-oriented, and a bit touching and sentimental. In short, everything a good fairy ought to be, but transposed over something closer resembling real life. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the movie was shown in the original Spanish with subtitles. I had entered the theater resigned to accepting a an English dub.

It's going to be a busy weekend. I'm supposed to be fixing Mom's laptop, and she's agreed to give Ubuntu Linux a try! Ubuntu is easy enough and enough like Windows superficially that I think it should meet her needs well, and I think she'll have better performance and fewer computer problems in the future. Besides that, Dad and I will be working on two cars and preparing for a garage sale. I hope I can also find some time to enjoy myself, or at least find enjoyment in what I'm doing.

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NEW MACROSS!!!! [07 Mar 2007|05:05pm]
[ mood | ecstatic ]

From the Anime News Service:
"Victor Entertainment has confirmed their recent "Victor Vocal & Voice Audition" will draft the voice of the next Macross idol singer / heroine."

I could not be more excited.

http://www.animenewsservice.com/

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