Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sam Neill, citizen of the world

This is a response to someone on IMDb who complained that Sam Neill had voiced an opinion on US tax cuts done by Dubya and how they might not have been the best idea in the world... Original thread is here: "Another Socialist".


With all due respect, conservative he is definitely not, and he does have some strong opinions. I don't get why "socialism" has such a bad rep in the US. Are people confusing it with communism perhaps? Not the same thing at all. Socialism helped build countries like Sweden, who is on the forefront in many areas today. Sure, there are taxes, but there is also a working society. (I recommend "Modern-day Vikings" by Christina Johansson Robinowitz and Lisa Werner Carr for a more thorough explanation.)

I don't see why that quote should lower anyone's admiration of Sam Neill as an actor, as I think it shows he has a brain and is aware of the world around him - something that when I learned about it, it actually made me admire him MORE. That he's not just a brainless "look at me, I'm famous!" actor. He cares about things, such as justice and doing the right thing. I severely doubt he would think of himself as "another Alan Greenspan", as he's just not that kind of guy, nor would he claim to know more than the rest of society. If anyone were to try to pin that on him, I can almost guarantee he would refute that claim. If he lived in America and they raised taxes, because he's rich from a career in acting, he'd be hit harder than a person of a more realistic income.

Also, his views about the US are his own personal views, and has no actual influence on US politics, so I really don't see what the fuss is. Should he not be allowed to have views on what goes on in the US just because he's not American? Should he not be allowed to voice his opinion just because he's famous? There is still freedom of speech in the world. Let's keep it that way.

A lot of celebrities are vocal when it comes to politics, because it brings politics to the attention of the general public, who normally don't give a stuff, and it's actually a good thing to raise awareness of what's going on around the world, because most people don't care. People SHOULD care. The reputation of US Americans around the world tends to be that they're quite ignorant, and surely that's not exactly a merit? (To be fair, there are a lot of people who are very informed too, of course.) Anything to get people to care about the way their country is run - no matter which country that may be - instead of just the attitude "yeah, whatever, I'm sure it's okay". If celebrities can help bring issues in society to light for the "yeah whatever" (majority) part of the population, I say well done to them.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

DDO irritations and positives



From "10 things you hate when you play DDO", my contribution:

In no particular order, except for the first one, a.k.a. the bane of my existence:
  • Coalescence Chamber!
  • Selecting someone to heal/buff and use mana only to get "X is out of range" or "X is blocked".
  • People who aren't party leaders but still insist on telling everyone what to do - especially when the party leader is trying to do the same.
  • Chars not suited for getting aggro getting all the aggro.
  • Being the only char who can raise people in a party... and the only one who dies.
  • Useless loot.
  • Having to wander around through endless explorer areas to get to a quest.
  • The puzzles in Shroud p3.
  • Platseller spam.
  • Summoning a monster, only to have them get stuck ten seconds later, or if you're extra lucky, you have to go up a ladder or something so they can't come with you anyway.
  • People who don't say "thank you" when you've said you've left something useful for them in a chest.
  • Groups who even though you say "I/We've never done this quest before" still rush off and leave you completely lost, as you have no idea where they hell they've gone to all of a sudden.
  • Not having striding boots! / Not having decent striding boots!
  • Being really happy to pick up a +2 tome only to realise you've already used one on that char... and that it bound on aquire so you can't pass it on to someone else. (And if you'd noticed it before you picked it up, you could've offered it to someone else in the party.)
  • Arcane skeletons.
  • Having to run VoN 1-4 first every time you've completed 5-6.
  • "If you don't want to use the exploit, you should've said 'no exploit' in the LFM!"-arguments for final Shroud part.
  • Being tripped by any type of canine.
  • That Monks are limited to like 3 weapons unless you're happy with "You are unbalaced"-messages.
  • Monks karate-chopping boxes instead of hitting them with a weapon, which is a lot quicker.
  • Running out of inventory space, and not having enough Kundarak favour to get more bank space, and/or not having enough Coin Lord favour to be able to use the Portable Hole you just obtained.
  • Arcane Spell Failure.
  • Mobs' spell resistance being higher than your output.
  • Force traps.
  • Lvl 1 solo quests.

And since it turned out to be such a long list, here's some positives as well:
  • Guildies! :)
  • People who give you useful stuff that they don't need/want.
  • People who donate things to you just because you're a Cleric.
  • Lvl 9 Summon Monster. Bezekira! Pretty kitty!
  • Auto-gathering bags!
  • Helpful people who take time to explain what's going on in a quest you've never done before and who make sure you don't get lost.
  • High-level Cleric spells.
  • Rolling 20s when wielding stuff with specials (vorpal, energies, etc.).
  • Rogues.
  • Clerics.
  • Paladins.
  • Getting clothes/armour and they actually look really good.
  • Getting really nice loot.
  • Decent striding boots.
  • Having plenty of alts to play with.

How to make sports interesting

If you're like me, you couldn't care less about sports. So what to do when someone around you is into it and you for some reason or other have to sit there and watch it with them? How do you transform it from a boring game of no consequence to something whose outcome you are mildly interested in finding out?

Here's a few pointers...

Well, first of all, who to support? You have to know who you want to win, because if you don't, there really is no point at all.

1. Does the team/player represent your area/country?
If yes - sorted! If no, do any represent a country which you have been to, like, or know someone from? (Facebook friends count. Especially if you're stuck.) Or a country which you are slightly obsessed about? For me, I'm pretty much sorted if any of these play: Sweden, England, or Ireland. If they play each other... well, that depends. Sweden first and foremost. If it's England vs Ireland, Éirinn go Brách. In the European Championships this year, Germany vs Turkey. Sure, I know some Turkish people (have 3 on Facebook, but to my defense, I know them from Yahoo!Groups)... but on the other hand, I've been to Germany, one of my favourite bands are German and I'd like to learn the language.

2. Who deserves to win? One side who have had it a bit of difficulties historically? They just need one more win to set a new record? Someone's a complete prick so by default, the opponent should win? Sympathise!

3. Who's the better looking? No, seriously. If all else fails, be superficial. Granted, this gets tricky if both sides are "GOWGEOUS!!" but if you're lucky, one you like, one you don't. This wasn't easy in the recent Wimbledon men's final, both Federer and Nadal being dashing young fellows.

4. Who do your friends/partner/family root for? If you're stuck at this point, just do what the others are doing. It might not help raise your interest more than a "cool, they won" or "oh, they lost", but at least you can celebrate or mourn together. I care nothing for football, yet if I have to pledge allegiance to a team, I say "Go Gunners!" (Arsenal), because I want to live. (In Sweden it's Örgryte IS because a few years ago, the goalee used to live next door to us and he fitted quite well into point 3. ;))

5. Whose colours do you prefer? Team clothes, that is. Or the flag, if nothing else applies.

6. Any combination of the previous five. Tennis is boring, but due to the first three points, I concluded Federer should win, but he didn't. Boo hiss.

Finally, If you're lucky (?), maybe the sport you're watching might actually turn out to be more interesting than you first thought. And then you're sorted! You can actually have a genuine interest as opposed to a very superficial one. As in, I stumbled across a snooker game on EuroSport once and because of point 3, I kept watching the game... and the more I watched, the more the game started to become fascinating, so today I'll watch it even if Alan McManus isn't playing, which is good, because sadly, I haven't seen him in the past few tournaments on TV. Moo. :(

However, if there's a chance you can escape having to watch an entire match of whatever it is you're not really interested, do take it. Read a book, watch TV in a different room, or just leave the room and go do the washing up, go on the computer, have a nice hot bath or something. After all, sports are just a game, and a boring one at that. This year, we have the summer olympics, so TV is going to be crap for some time in a few weeks. Maybe you can get through it using my little pointers, if you're being forced to watch it, but if you're not, go outside and enjoy the sunshine. Or play on Wii Fit and have your own, personal olympics.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Mugglehaters, Life of Brian stylee

Barty Crouch Jr. meets the Death Eaters at the Quidditch World Cup arena

[trumpets]
[clap clap clap]
ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen. The next contest is between... Serbia, the Balkan baby-crushers, and Mongolia.
BARTY CROUCH JR: Want some...
VOICE: Thank you, fellows.
BARTY: Popcorn. Chocolate buttons. Snickers. Mars bars. Nachos with cheese. Get 'em while they're hot. They're lovely. Potato wedges, only half a sickle. Chilli poppers.
ALECTO: I do feel, Lucius, that any anti-establishment group like ours must reflect such a divergence of interests within its power-base.
LUCIUS: Agreed. Amycus?
AMYCUS: Yeah. I think Alecto's point of view is very valid, Lucius, provided the Movement never forgets that it is the inalienable right of every man--
MCNAIR: Or woman.
AMYCUS: Or woman... to rid himself--
MCNAIR: Or herself.
AMYCUS: Or herself.
LUCIUS: Agreed.
AMYCUS: Thank you, brother.
MCNAIR: Or sister.
AMYCUS: Or sister. Where was I?
LUCIUS: I think you'd finished.
AMYCUS: Oh. Right.
LUCIUS: Furthermore, it is the birthright of every man--
MCNAIR: Or woman.
LUCIUS: Why don't you shut up about women, Mcnair. You're putting us off.
MCNAIR: Women have a perfect right to play a part in our movement, Lucius.
AMYCUS: Why are you always on about women, Mcnair?
MCNAIR: I want to be one.
LUCIUS: What?
MCNAIR: I want to be a woman. From now on, I want you all to call me 'Minerva'.
LUCIUS: What?!
MINERVA: It's my right as a man.
ALECTO: Well, why do you want to be Minerva, Mcnair?
MINERVA: I want to have babies.
LUCIUS: You want to have babies?!
MINERVA: It's every man's right to have babies if he wants them.
LUCIUS: But... you can't have babies.
MINERVA: Don't you oppress me.
LUCIUS: I'm not oppressing you, Mcnair. You haven't got a womb! Where's the foetus going to gestate?! You going to keep it in a box?!
MINERVA: [crying]
ALECTO: Here! I-- I've got an idea. Suppose you agree that he can't actually have babies, not having a womb, which is nobody's fault, not even the Muggles, but that he can have the right to have babies.
AMYCUS: Good idea, Alecto. We shall fight the Muggles for your right to have babies, brother. Sister. Sorry.
LUCIUS: What's the point?
AMYCUS: What?
LUCIUS: What's the point of fighting for his right to have babies when he can't have babies?!
AMYCUS: It is symbolic of our struggle against the Muggles.
LUCIUS: Symbolic of his struggle against reality.
[trumpets]
[clap clap clap]
GUARD: Get out there.
MONGOLIAN: It's, um--
GUARD: Get out there.
MONGOLIAN: It's dangerous out there. Ah ah. Ah! Oh. [clap clap clap] [clank] Ooh.
CROWD: Aaah. Ohh...
SPECTATOR: What a load of rubbish.
BARTY: Popcorn. Chocolate buttons. Snickers.
LUCIUS: Got any pumpkin pasties?
BARTY: I haven't got any pumpkin pasties. Sorry. I've got popcorn, Mars bars--
LUCIUS: No, no, no.
BARTY: Potato wedges?
LUCIUS: I don't want any of that Muggle rubbish.
ALECTO: Why don't you sell proper food?
BARTY: Proper food?
LUCIUS: Yeah, not those cheap mudblood tit-bits.
BARTY: Well, don't blame me. I didn't ask to sell this stuff.
LUCIUS: All right. Bag of chilli poppers, then.
AMYCUS: Make it two.
LUCIUS: Two.
AMYCUS: Thanks, Lucius.
BARTY: Are you the Death Heaters?
LUCIUS: Fuck off!
BARTY: What?
LUCIUS: Death Heaters. We're the Death Eaters! Death Heaters. Cawk.
AMYCUS: Wankers.
BARTY: Can I... join your group?
LUCIUS: No. Piss off.
BARTY: I didn't want to sell this stuff. It's only a job. I hate the Muggles as much as anybody.
DEATH EATERS: Shhhh. Shhhh. Shhh. Shh. Shhhh.
LUCIUS: Schtum.
ALECTO: Are you sure?
BARTY: Oh, dead sure. I hate the Muggles already.
LUCIUS: Listen. If you really wanted to join the D.E., you'd have to really hate the Muggles.
BARTY: I do!
LUCIUS: Oh, yeah? How much?
BARTY: A lot!
LUCIUS: Right. You're in. Listen. The only people we hate more than the Muggles are the fucking Mudbloods.
D.E.: Yeah...
ALECTO: Splitters.
D.E.: Splitters...
AMYCUS: And the Death Haters.
D.E.: Yeah. Oh, yeah. Splitters. Splitters...
MINERVA: And the Death Eaters.
D.E.: Yeah. Splitters. Splitters...
LUCIUS: What?
MINERVA: The Death Eaters. Splitters.
LUCIUS: We're the Death Eaters!
MINERVA: Oh. I thought we were the Death Meters.
LUCIUS: Death Meters! C-huh.
AMYCUS: Whatever happened to the Death Meters, Lucius?
LUCIUS: He's over there.
D.E.: Splitter!
SERBIAN: [pant pant pant] Ooh. Ooh. I-- I think I'm about to have a... cardiac arrest. Ooh. Ooh.
SPECTATOR: Absolutely dreadful. Hmm.
CROWD: [cheering]
LUCIUS: Yes, brother! Ha ha. What's your name?
BARTY: Barty. Bartemius Crouch Jr.
LUCIUS: We may have a little job for you, Barty.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

What Kind of Intelligence Do I Have?




Your Dominant Intelligence is Linguistic Intelligence



You are excellent with words and language. You explain yourself well.

An elegant speaker, you can converse well with anyone on the fly.

You are also good at remembering information and convincing someone of your point of view.

A master of creative phrasing and unique words, you enjoy expanding your vocabulary.



You would make a fantastic poet, journalist, writer, teacher, lawyer, politician, or translator.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Czech this out

"Jožin z bažin" by Czech musician and comedian Ivan Mládek - a song also known as "The Raid Theme" if you happen to belong to the Rusty Nail's Adventurers guild. It's normally played by a guildie over voicechat in DDO at the start of a Shroud run. The lyrics (you can find an English translation of them on YouTube) are a bit bizarre... but hey, catchy tune, isn't it? ;)



Ah, speaking of Shroud runs... need to get another large shrapnel and large stone so we can get Dreadgut's tier 3 bracer upgrade. Then, we can see what I should do with Delennya's necklace for tier 3... and start collecting ingredients for it.

Monday, April 21, 2008

What D&D character would I be?

I Am A: Chaotic Neutral Human Druid (3rd Level)


Ability Scores:

Strength-10

Dexterity-9

Constitution-9

Intelligence-13

Wisdom-14

Charisma-12


Alignment:
Chaotic Neutral A chaotic neutral character follows his whims. He is an individualist first and last. He values his own liberty but doesn't strive to protect others' freedom. He avoids authority, resents restrictions, and challenges traditions. A chaotic neutral character does not intentionally disrupt organizations as part of a campaign of anarchy. To do so, he would have to be motivated either by good (and a desire to liberate others) or evil (and a desire to make those different from himself suffer). A chaotic neutral character may be unpredictable, but his behavior is not totally random. He is not as likely to jump off a bridge as to cross it. Chaotic neutral is the best alignment you can be because it represents true freedom from both society's restrictions and a do-gooder's zeal. However, chaotic neutral can be a dangerous alignment because it seeks to eliminate all authority, harmony, and order in society.


Race:
Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.


Class:
Druids gain power not by ruling nature but by being at one with it. They hate the unnatural, including aberrations or undead, and destroy them where possible. Druids receive divine spells from nature, not the gods, and can gain an array of powers as they gain experience, including the ability to take the shapes of animals. The weapons and armor of a druid are restricted by their traditional oaths, not simply training. A druid's Wisdom score should be high, as this determines the maximum spell level that they can cast.


Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus (e-mail)

Detailed Results:

Alignment:
Lawful Good ----- XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (20)
Neutral Good ---- XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (17)
Chaotic Good ---- XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (21)
Lawful Neutral -- XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (21)
True Neutral ---- XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (18)
Chaotic Neutral - XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (22)
Lawful Evil ----- XXXXXXXX (8)
Neutral Evil ---- XXXXX (5)
Chaotic Evil ---- XXXXXXXXX (9)

Law & Chaos:
Law ----- XXXXXXXX (8)
Neutral - XXXXX (5)
Chaos --- XXXXXXXXX (9)

Good & Evil:
Good ---- XXXXXXXXXXXX (12)
Neutral - XXXXXXXXXXXXX (13)
Evil ---- (0)

Race:
Human ---- XXXXXXXXXXXXX (13)
Dwarf ---- XXXXXXXXXX (10)
Elf ------ XXXXXXXXXX (10)
Gnome ---- XXXXXX (6)
Halfling - XXXXXX (6)
Half-Elf - XXXXXXXXXXX (11)
Half-Orc - XXXXXX (6)

Class:
Barbarian - (-2)
Bard ------ (-4)
Cleric ---- (-2)
Druid ----- XXXXXX (6)
Fighter --- (-4)
Monk ------ (-23)
Paladin --- (-17)
Ranger ---- (0)
Rogue ----- (-2)
Sorcerer -- XX (2)
Wizard ---- XXXX (4)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics

Recently, there seems to surfaced petitions and the likes from people who think China should not be hosting the 2008 Summer Olympics, based on China's poor record in human rights. Tibet is the thing they all mention. Okay, fair enough, I agree about the human rights thing and Tibet. I don't see why the Dalai Lama should be seen as a threat to the government, because he's all about peace and enlightenment.

Anyway.

What puzzles me is why people are starting to protest now, when the fact that Beijing would be host was made public on 13 July 2001 - and that was seven years ago. Amnesty International raised their concerns in 2006 according to Wikipedia. Before the IOC decide who is going to host the olympics, the candidates are known to the public. Where were the protestors back then? Surely, protesting four months in advance isn't going to stop the event from happening, or move it to another country. Why wasn't there petitions circulating as soon as China announced they wanted to compete for the 2008 summer olympics? If it had happened back then, the IOC could've decided to give another country the event instead, if they had known people would be so upset about China as a host. Had Iraq been trying to get the olympics, you can be pretty sure they would've been out of consideration straight away.

It's as if people have gone "cool, I like Chinese food" and then recently, when Tibet is back in the spotlight, people have thought "hang on... that's not very good, they shouldn't host the olympics". Come on! It's not as if Tibet is a new thing! It's been going on for donkey's years - and yes, I do mean well before 2001. The Dalai Lama has been in exile since 1959... Not just Tibet, for that matter - remember the Falun Gong movement? How about the Tianamen Square Massacre of 1989? Another two of many things China has become infamous for. After all, there's a lot more to China than sweet and sour chicken and egg fried rice.

The only real protest that can be done now is for countries who are critical of how China views human rights is to not send any athletes to compete. Britain wouldn't refuse to send any athletes because it would be politically incorrect to do so, of course, but other nations. If a bunch of countries stood up and said "we're not participating in the 2008 summer olympics because we don't agree with how you treat your people", surely that would send a much clearer message to China than a bunch of people on the Internet passing on various petitions saying "Down with this sort of thing"?

Some people are saying we should boycott the olympics by spectators not going. Sure thing! Although, I wouldn't go anyway, so that doesn't seem like much of a statement. I wouldn't go to see the olympics at all, no matter where it was, as I normally don't even sit down to watch it on TV. Going to the other side of the world... Sure, that would be fun to do some day... but that would be as a holiday, not to see a sporting event. Heck, I don't even travel to see a concert! Maybe a few people do wish to travel to the other side of the globe to see the olympics, but they are pretty few and far between, aren't they? Or are people really that devoted? (If so, when did sport become a religion??)

My memory isn't the greatest, so maybe I'm totally wrong. Maybe people petitioned and protested a lot back in 2001 and even before that, to try and stop Beijing from hosting the olympics this year. I don't really know, as I have never really cared enough about the olympics to pay attention.

Lastly, speaking of the Dalai Lama... I find it quite amusing how most people from all walks of life and faith would only have good things to say about him and his teachings. Yet at the same time, a lot of them would scoff and sneer at a person who believes in reincarnation. Have they completely missed the point that the whole thing about the Dalai Lama is that he is (or, "supposed to be", if you prefer) a reincarnation of a Buddhist master. He is believed to be a bodhisattva, meaning a person who is so spiritually enlightened that he or she can enter Nirvana when they die, but who chose not to. Instead, they choose to be reborn into this world of suffering in order to help mankind... sort of thing. Maybe people just don't know. But if they do know, what's the difference between a Tibetan saying he's a reincarnation of a Buddhist Master and your next-door neighbour saying she remembers a past life? One is normally held in high regard, the other one normally dismissed as a lunatic. Where's the sense in that?

Not so frenzied

So far, I've managed to write two pages worth of script. I should've been on 40 at the end of today... which isn't very likely to happen. Oh well, we'll see how it goes. Just thought I'd update you on my Script Frenzy progress. Or lack of it.

EDIT: Been writing some. Am now up to 15 pages, and I still have a large chunk to write down. A large and quite funny chunk, if I may say so myself.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Roleplay-related testing

The Bartle Test
Based on your answers you are ...

AESK

AESK players are interested in the player-versus-environment aspect of the game more than anything else. They are often soloists who want to achieve and see what the world has to offer. Often, they find groups cumbersome and PVP to be more an annoyance than a feature.

Breakdown: Achiever 66.67%, Explorer 66.67%, Killer 20.00%, Socializer 46.67%


Online Alignment Test

Based on your answers to the quiz, your character’s most likely alignment is Chaotic Neutral.

Chaotic Neutral

A chaotic neutral character follows his whims. He is an individualist first and last. He values his own liberty but doesn’t strive to protect others’ freedom. He avoids authority, resents restrictions, and challenges traditions. The chaotic neutral character does not intentionally disrupt organizations as part of a campaign of anarchy. To do so, he would have to be motivated either by good (and a desire to liberate others) or evil (and a desire to make those different from himself suffer). The common phrase for chaotic neutral is "true chaotic." Remember that the chaotic neutral character may be unpredictable, but his behavior is not totally random. He is not as likely to jump off a bridge as to cross it. Chaotic neutral is the best alignment you can be because it represents true freedom both from society’s restrictions and from a do-gooder’s zeal.

--excerpted from the Player’s Handbook, Chapter 6

Would you like a debt collector with that?

It's not a problem getting a credit card if you're in the UK. Shockingly easy, actually. Imagine the old fast food joint thing about "would you like fries with that?" - well, here it's like "would you like a credit card with that?" I find it quite disturbing, to be honest, because at the same time, we're showered with commercials about debt consolidation and personal loans and reports that people are in over their heads in debt.

Everyone seems to offer credit cards as well, so it's not just banks and actual credit card companies. It's supermarkets, airlines and other stores to name but a few. Even the RSPCA offer one! (Same goes for insurance policies, come to think of it.)

When I moved over, we went to the bank to get me a bank account. I went there to get a bank account and left with a current account, a savings account, Internet banking, a cheque book, a debit card and a credit card. For free. Just like that. Even though I had only moved over not long before and didn't have a job or any money, I could basically put myself in a £1000 debt on my credit card straight away, had I wanted to. That sounds wrong to me.

In Sweden, you pay for a lot of things. Some I agree with, some I don't. For instance, a common Swedish bank charges 155 SEK (ca £12) annually for using their online services. On the other hand, the security of Swedish Internet banking is considerably higher than the British. The British system is a joke! In Britain, you have an ID number to fill in, then you're asked about your date of birth, and get to give 3 random numbers from your 6-digit password. That's all. Once you're logged in, there's no verification when you add a new payee or want to pay something. You're asked if you're sure you want to proceed with the transaction, and click yes and it's done. Simple as that. Logging into my Swedish bank requires a lot more. On the site, I type in my full birth number (birthdate and four numbers which combined are unique to you and used as an ID), and then gets taken to a page with an 8-digit code. This code I have to type into a device that looks like a calculator, so I power it up, enter a pin number, type in the 8-digit code, which the "calculator" transforms into another 8-digit code which you enter on the page. This code is only valid for 3 minutes, so no dawdling when you log in. If you want to add a new payee, you have to get the number gizmo out again and confirm it. Same when you want to confirm a payment. You can log in using just a password and your birth ID number thingy, but that will only allow you to see your balance and transfer money from one of your accounts to another.

Spot the difference? Sure, the British online banking is free to use (good), but the security leaves me unconvinced (bad), as I know how good it can be. Also, I think paying bills in at the branch is free as well (good). If you're paying in a bill in the bank or post office branch in Sweden, you're charged 50 SEK (ca £4) per bill (bad, real bad), which means three bills alone will pay for the Internet banking, as in online banking, you're not charged anything to pay in bills. You just pay for the service itself.

Cheque books are free in the UK - just as well, as they're actually in frequent use by people. Cheques in Sweden are a very rare occurance, and I doubt you'd get a cheque book for free. You'd have to cash it in a branch, of course, and that's not free.

So what about credit and debit cards in Sweden? That's the funny thing when I was getting my UK account. They asked if I wanted cards with that... and I asked about the price. They looked slightly puzzled by this, because you only get charged for a card if you're overdrawn or don't use it at all in Britain, it would seem. In Sweden, if you want to use a Visa card, you have to pay 250 SEK (ca £19) a year, regardless of if you use it or not. MasterCard and Maestro range from 195 SEK (ca £15) to 220 SEK (ca £17) per annum. If you have a Maestro card, though, you can add a free service called an eCard to it, which is a little computer program that generates a temporary credit card number which you can use for secure online purchases. You put a time and spending limit on it, see. Excellent little thing!

Even though I don't like being charged for having a card, I think it's a good idea, actually. If you have to pay in order to have one, you're not as likely to get yourself a stash of credit cards and juggle balance transfers and getting into loads of debt. If you have the one credit card, there's only one credit limit to worry about. It limits overspending.

As it stands now, I have two credit cards. If I was in Sweden, I'd have one, or none at all. I'd be quite happy to just stick with my debit card for in-store purchases and use the eCard for online purchases. That's what I did when I lived there, and got on swell. Was I ever in debt due to overspending on credit cards? Certainly not.

And I haven't even mentioned that you normally have to show your ID card for credit/debit card purchases over 100 or 200 SEK in Sweden. That tops chip and pin. Chip and pin isn't as secure as they say it is anyway, as the pin code can be intercepted.

ID cards, by the way... is another discussion. I think an ID card system like the one that's been used in Sweden for ages is great. It contains that birth ID number, your full name, your signature and your picture. That's about it. The one proposed in the UK just seems like overkill. To say they would help prevent terrorism is laughable. It's not as if your ID card would say "Terrorist" on it, for starters. But I suppose it's just another one of those things that show how much of a confused mess this country is. Not that Sweden is Utopia in any way, it may still be a bit of a mess - but at least it's an organised mess.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Script Frenzy 2008


This year, it's not in June. Which makes it a bit awkward for me, as a week will be cut off because of people coming here for the wedding and stuff, but hey ho. Can always go in for it and try my best, and if I don't make it, fair enough. At least I've tried.

What we did last Saturday



And by that, it's fairly obvious that we're back in Stormreach (Dungeons & Dragons Online: Stormreach) since a couple of weeks back or so. ;)

The above was a culmination of DDO's second anniversary events, which meant that last week, devils and orthons and other uglies started to pop through portals in the marketplace. Later on in the week, a barrier was raised around the tent and the merchants inside were evacuated to The Rusty Nail pub. Then the tent started to wobble... And on Saturday, there were more uglies to fight, and then, after a portal had been destroyed... the above thing happened. Quite exciting, all in all. :)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

God wuvs y00

"When it comes to bullshit, big-time, major league bullshit, you have to stand in awe of the all-time champion of false promises and exaggerated claims: religion. No contest. No contest. Religion. Religion easily has the greatest bullshit story ever told.

Think about it. Religion has actually convinced people that there's an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever 'til the end of time!

But He loves you.

He loves you, and He needs money! He always needs money! He's all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, somehow just can't handle money! Religion takes in billions of dollars, they pay no taxes, and they always need a little more. Now, you talk about a good bullshit story. Holy Shit!"

-- George Carlin Politically Incorrect, May 29, 1997

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

It's coming up, it's coming up, it's coming up...

It's DARE!

Wedding day is getting closer... still some bits to sort out, but it should be okay I hope. :) Will go and have a look at rings and flowers and stuff on Saturday, or so is the plan.

Have put some seeds down the other day and some have actually started to pop up! Some tomatos and the "Yellow Giant" sunflowers. :) Have another box which were done a bit later but maybe they'll start sprouting soon too.

And also, as it turns out, Script Frenzy is in April of this year, not June. Hm.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Bloodsugar Blues

So we're on a GI diet as of the Monday just gone, and now we're getting a bit bored. I'm getting bored because there's a lot of preparation involved and lots of preparation means lots of stuff that needs washing up afterwards. Lots of praparation also means getting up earlier in the morning, and I'm not a morning person. But mainly, it's because we're having weird stuff. Sure, it's stuff I'd like to eat anyway, but... there's a difference. I wouldn't serve a salmon steak with lettuce and hollandaise sauce, for instance (Monday's dinner). Not if I had a choice. If there was a sauce involved, I'd probably rather go for a béarnaise instead, or just a dollop of mayo, or nothing at all. Hollandaise isn't the tastiest sauce in the world. There would also be lettuce - sure - but chips or something to go with it. Tuesday's dinner was better - pork chop with oven-cooked veg. It was actually very tasty! Tonight we had a fish soup with aioli. It was alright.

Some things I wouldn't mind continuing with even after we finish this, like having yoghurt with nuts and seeds for breakfast on some mornings. I quite like it. Or maybe I'd use some unsweetened muesli instead. Things we're having next week include eggs and mackerel in tomato sauce (tinned), and for lunch a soup of spinach, curly kale or nettles. I've had nettle soup once, wasn't a big fan. Not sure about those, really.

It's getting a bit frustrating. Nothing much seems to be happening on the scales as of yet (maybe would've seen more of a difference if we had got an accurate starting weight on Monday morning, which we didn't until Wednesday morning, because the scales turned out to not just be on the wrong surface (carpet as opposed to a hard floor) but also missing one of it's extra support feet, which made it wobble and thus giving an inaccurate reading, which I discovered on the Tuesday, when I brought it down to the kitchen to put it on a hard surface. So that's a bummer.

It's interesting to try and live according to a pre-set menu done by someone else, because that way, we get to taste things we normally wouldn't have chosen to eat. At the same time, it's also frustrating just because it's things we'd not normally choose to eat. We're sticking to the book's menu for week two as well, but as we're continuing phase one in week three, we'll either have to go back to using the first week's menu again (no thanks) or make our own. Making our own sounds a lot better, because yes, it'll still be weird things, but at least it allows us to make things more like we'd like them, and make Chinese, Indian or Thai stuff, for instance. No noodles, rice, prawn crackers, naan bread, pasta or anything like that, but still... things we can relate to a bit more.

We went swimming on Tuesday night, which was great. Not doing a lot of excercise aside from that, which we should, according to the book. It wants us to do a 30 min walk before breakfast in the morning, but quite frankly, having to get up an hour earlier to prepare stuff when not being a morning person to begin with... walking just en't happening. I'm lucky if I can motivate myself to crawl out of bed and put my dressing gown on! On the other hand, it doesn't have to be a walk, it can be some positions and movements instead, like pull-ups and such. Still, I'm busy prepping breakfast and possibly lunch at the time. If I didn't have to do that, sure, I could wake up half an hour earlier and do some bits in bed, but alas, no. If you don't do the half-hour in the morning, you can do an hour in the afternoon or evening instead. Swimming once a week isn't really the same, so we're going to have to bite the bullet and actually go join that gym after all.

If we get the excercise, the weight should come off quicker, after all. And the way I currently see it, the quicker we can get the weight to a more acceptable level, the sooner we can start integrating carbohydrates into our lives again. Funnily enough, I'm not craving cakes or chocolate or anything like that at the moment, but I could murder a smoothie! Seriously, I really fancy some fruit (berries), and probably some bread as well, I reckon. Cordial would suffice. But really... fruit. Sure, I can have an apple, a pear, an orange or a grapefruit twice in a week or so, but it's not the same. Don't fancy oranges and I don't like grapefruit. Grapes, on the other hand... Oh yes, and can't even have fruitjuice at the moment either. I like my Welch's.

So now I'll go sulk in a corner for a bit until I drop a few pounds and can be cheered up that way. Buggrit.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Hello, I'm TraXy and I'm a recording artist

Don't believe me?

Go to Google. Type in "traxy lyrics" in the search field and see what happens. About 930 results. A lot of which actually has to do with me, believe it or not, but I have no idea why.

YES, I wrote the lyrics to a song called "Dr. Evil". It's a song Dieter makes up on the spot in one of my Modern Talking fanfics, which is why the lyrics are very... how do I put this politely... they're very Bohlen-esque.

YES, I wrote the lyrics to a song called "Forget It Not", which is about the Burning Times (= the witch burnings).

However, when the hell did I become an artist who had released actual songs??? And those two songs in particular? I really don't get it. I also have no idea how come two of my song lyrics have ended up on a whole load of those lyrics sites... and not just that, why those two in particular? It's not as if I haven't written more than those two and put them on my website for webcrawlers to come across.

Mystery to me.

And in the meantime, people can stumble across the lyrics of two of my songs on pretty much any lyrics site. Flattering, sure, but umm... why? *scratches head*