Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The United States of Wal-Mart

posted by John Blanco @ 9:40 PM


Whoo hoo! Just finished the book. *Very* enlightening. Overall, Wal-Mart has the right to do what they do -- but we should not support them.

We're not just talking bad jobs, with bad benefits, and bad pay. We're talking about our taxpayer money making up the difference! If a Wal-Mart employee gets sick, and they don't have coverage (mostly the case), guess who's dollars are funding Medicaid?

Am I against Medicaid? Hell, no. People come first. Am I against the fact that a multi-billion dollar company like Wal-Mart is not doing their duty and covering their employees health costs -- whilst I have to take money out of my families hands to do it instead?

You bet your ass I'm mad.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Where ya think you're going?

posted by John Blanco @ 8:11 PM


The Republicans love our troops...

Army forces 50,000 soldiers into extended duty

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Army has forced about 50,000 soldiers to continue serving after their voluntary stints ended under a policy called "stop-loss," but while some dispute its fairness, court challenges have fallen flat.

The policy applies to soldiers in units due to deploy for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The Army said stop-loss is vital to maintain units that are cohesive and ready to fight. But some experts said it shows how badly the Army is stretched and could further complicate efforts to attract new recruits.


"No, god damnit! You will fight out fake war and NOT go home to see the child you haven't met yet and you will fight some more! The chimp-in-chief will give his SOTU and say how good it is, then he will retire for some tea in the green room, and YOU will go out there and risk life and limb and YOU DON'T NEED NO STINKING ARMOR EITHER!"

Avatara is Dead. Long live Avatara.

posted by John Blanco @ 1:27 PM



OK, Michele just went out to get some air and relieve some stresses. I'm sure she'll blog her side as well. But basically, m stress is with Avatara...it's been killing me lately, and the last straw evolved this week.

I was dawdling around in Flash on Tuesday, I think, when the thought occurred to me: "Why don't I do the Avatara client in Flash, not Java?"

Well, it's kind of a silly question when yer already well into implementing the client in Java Swing. But, still, there's a lot that would be so much easier -- even possible at all -- by using Flash.

The big question became, *can* I do the switch? That is, can Flash perform at a decent level to handle the processing, the networking, etc.

Ove this weekend, I determined that I *needed* to switch to Flash, but sadly, I also determined through prototyping that the game would have to change. I can't do a pure tile-based MMO, I'd have to change the semantics a bit.

So, right now, I'm just busted. I don't have the manpower to get Avatara done, but I don't have the opportunity to do it in a different way.

So, I'm going to check-in everything I have and give Avatara a nice break. In the meantime, I'm gonna work on another, smaller scale project, that may very well also be server-client. Maybe it will have a better chance.

But, for one thing, it will use Flash. :-)


posted by John Blanco @ 10:20 AM


The Yog and I are going a little bit nuts today...both agonizing over stuff...so time to take a walk, so a little shopping, and get our minds in working order. :-/

I can't stop laughing!

posted by John Blanco @ 8:55 AM


Rep. Mike Pence, R-Indiana, who appeared with Thune on "Fox News Sunday,", said all White House correspondence, phone calls and meetings with Abramoff "absolutely" should be released.

"I think this president is a man of unimpeachable integrity," Pence said. "The American people have profound confidence in him. And as Abraham Lincoln said, `Give the people the facts and republican governance perhaps will be saved.'"

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Adventures of Gothik Skye

posted by John Blanco @ 3:14 PM


The obligatory "nude" shot. :-)

The Adventures of Gothik Skye

posted by John Blanco @ 3:14 PM


The new threads for Gothic Skye...a full Necromancer outfit with enhanced armor.

The Adventures of Gothik Skye

posted by John Blanco @ 3:12 PM


Hey, ladies...! A pair of Elementalists get their grooves on.

The Adventures of Gothik Skye

posted by John Blanco @ 3:11 PM


Gothik gazes down a road in a Ascalon City.

The Adventures of Gothik Skye

posted by John Blanco @ 3:11 PM


A gorgeous shot.

The Adventures of Gothik Skye

posted by John Blanco @ 3:11 PM


Deep within the Catacombs near Green Hill County.

My email to the Heritage Foundation

posted by John Blanco @ 11:39 AM


The Heritage Foundation

You guys make me sick...you tout that you fight for
people's freedoms, while simultaneously claiming that
marriage is ONLY between a man and a woman?! Oh give
me a break!

What's homosexual marriage gonna do to you? Will it
destroy your family? My gosh, we don't have
homosexual marriage now and what do you see? People
who have these feeling expressing them. What are you
so afraid of? Why must you fight love with your

We have important issues to deal with in this
world...soldiers dying, millions of children without
health care, and you're dumping millions of dollars
into fighting homosexual marriage?

Give me a friggin break, people.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Mom is Home!

posted by John Blanco @ 5:23 PM


Last night, my mom got to go back home and finish her recovery in the comforts of her own surroundings. I talked to her this morning...she was groggy, but in good spirits. Of course, she asked more about my cabin adventures this weekend (see tomorrow's blog) than would allow me to ask about her.

I'll be sure to have more updates...in the meantime, I have some gifts to send out. My family's done such an excellent job taking care of her!

Introducing Gothik Skye

posted by John Blanco @ 5:20 PM


After finishing of Nintendogs this weekend, I'm now able to play Guild Wars again for the first time since October. :-) I killed of my previous character, and favorite, Winter Skye. :-( But sad times are trumped by happier times, as I've replaced her with Gothik Skye. :-)

Gothik is a Necromancer with the ability to raise the dead and suck the life out of enemies and into herself. Her white hair and eyes exude the terror that should match the fear you have for her abilities.

Kick ass, Gothik.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Holy God!

posted by John Blanco @ 11:15 AM


Eight years after taking my last class at Colorado State University, I've just graduated!

You see, I left school 6 free elective credits short of my Bachelor's. I had to start my career, and I couldn't hang around another term just to take two watercoloring classes. (Free electives are ANY class, not part of the curriculum.)

So, I set out to work at Infobeat. However, due to some accelerated promotions, I went from a Junior Developer to Senior Developer very quickly...and I had no time to finish off my schoolwork as I'd expected. :-/


Time went by. Years went by.


Fast forward to 2002. I was getting panicked about my missing degree because of how hard it was to find my latest job. My fear was that with the tech boom now a bust, my resume was being tossed aside because it lacked a Bachelor's Degree. When I applied online with Monster.com, I had to say I had "Some College" work done. UGGG.

I decided to inquire about finishing my school work. I didn't get much help. I talked to CSU and my counselor and was told to re-enroll. I had no idea if I could just do the two classes or not. I requested an enrollment packet and filled it out...but for whatever reason, I never went through with it.


Fast forward now to December 2005. I decide, just because a fresh start was coming in 2006, that I'd like to find out, once and for all, where I stand on graduation. Was it possible anymore? If there was bad news, I at least wanted to know so I could stop speculating.


Step one was to simply write CSU's administration office. The Web site seemed to invite questions, so it can't hurt. I asked them about my credits and if they were still good and how hard it would be, if possible, to finish it out. They sent this:

In order to graduate from CSU you will have to resubmit an official transcript from Westchester and Advanced placement scores.

I suggest you talk to Computer Science and see of they agree that 6 elective credits are all you need. If it is only 6 credits of electives, you could register for our CSU online courses and not drive up to Ft. Collins.

Well that seems promising...sounds like I still am two classes away. So now, let's just check in with the Computer Science counselor and get this process started, right?

I email the counselor, asking the same thing and referring him to the email from the administration office. He sent this yesterday:


Nice to hear from you. This may be your lucky day.

I pulled your old folder (which I happened to have kept),
and noted that you are correct that you only needed
6 hours of free elective to graduate. But since
you left the University reduced the number of credits
needed to graduate for most programs to 120 (instead of
128 in our case). I called Leola in Degree, and asked
her if you couldn't be graduated under the 120 credits,
since you had everything else. She is checking your
situation, but thinks this will all work out, and that
we can graduate you this spring without your having to
take anything else. It appears that I am the only one
on campus who kept your transfer records, so I need to
send them to Leola to re-evaluate, but once that is done,
she can approve your spring graduation.

I suggest you call her later today (970/491-7159) to
check that your graduation is approved, and so you
can give her the address you want your diploma sent
to in May (or early June).

Let me know if you have any questions.

Say, WHAT?!?!?!?! OMFG!11!!!1!1one!one!!

And now today, I call in to the degree office and...it's official! I'm graduated! And it's even better, I even got to graduate for the Fall '05 term, so I don't even have to wait until May.

My degree is in the mail!

This goes down as one of the biggest miracles and greatest moments in my life. :-) Wow.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


posted by John Blanco @ 7:42 PM


After posting that last blog, and looking at the date, it really hit home that my mom has been in the hospital for 2 weeks!

Hopefully, she can come home soon!

Update on Mom

posted by John Blanco @ 7:41 PM


My mom had a second surgery on Saturday to relieve pressure in her brain that wasn't going away on its own. The surgery went well, but it was the second one, so all the healing she'd gotten taken care of was wasted away.

Still, she feels a lot better, and now we're still waiting for her brain to take shape again. On last update, the left side has improved, but the right is lagging behind. They'll give it a few days to see what happens...no word on what the next option is after that. :-/

My sisters are holding up well under the strain of a million people wanting updates, spending time with mom, kids at home (Susan), and ya know -- their day jobs! So I'm sending them well-deserved gifts, as well as for my mom who now has a private room.

I'll post more updates as things develop. Hang in there, momzy!

Sunday, January 15, 2006


posted by John Blanco @ 1:52 PM



Broncos one *HOME* win away from going to the big dance!!!!! YEAH BABBABABABABBAYYYYY!!!!

Saturday, January 14, 2006


posted by John Blanco @ 8:55 PM


The Broncos have defeated the Patriots, 27-13!!! WAHOOOOO!!!!!! We're goin' to the Championshio Game!!!


Tuesday, January 10, 2006

OMG We Own St0x0rz!111!!!

posted by John Blanco @ 6:43 AM


Michele and I are officially playing the market! :-) About 5 minutes ago, I purchased 140 shares of Sirius Satellite Radio. This is the first stock I've ever owned. Crazy!

So, of course I'm in n00b mode of keeping my eyes on the ticker. We're going long-term with this stock, so it's silly, but ya know -- I'm a n00b. :-)

OK, choose Sirius over XM everyone!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

The Momzy Update -- And Then Less Important Matters...

posted by John Blanco @ 8:08 PM


The latest word comes in from Carolann, my sister-in-law, who saw my mom today and fed her some peaches. :-) Mom is doing better today, though recovery is still slow. Last night didn't go particularly well for sleeping -- trying doing it without a pillow, still on your back. Not fun.


As for the less important, who cares kinda crap -- but I have to updates these things at some point... :-/ Chess Avatara made nice strides this weekend. The chat system came fast and quick. Here's the latest screenshot:

What you see is a bright red/blue chat entry box, and then a bluish-transparent chat display. Nevermind the colors, as with the graphics, it's all temporary whilst I take care of the code.

I'm pretty excited it came together so quickly. The UI scared me more than the code, but the UI gave me few issues to worry about, so the remaining code will be nothing scary. Now, I can say that game playing and chat are in! It also opens up an important channel to the game, now we have voices to use when testing. :-)

The next step in Chess Avatara's progress will likely be work on the database. I've been looking forward to stepping away from the computer and learning Hibernate for a bit. By fleshing out the database, and Hibernate'ing it into the code, I'll be able to support *real* logins and so the days of Kasparov982 will soon be over!

Before that, though, some little details. Namely, making a real room that at least has some chess sets to play, and spending a good deal of time cleaning up the code. It's gotten messy lately. So, as I head into some real important fixtures of the code base, I want what's there to be a lot cleaner. If I wait any longer, I'll have no motivation to do it and be left with a shitty codebase. BAD.

This week, I also need to prioritize finishing up the AC gift I am creating. I've always avoided last-minute projects, and I'd like to keep it that way!

Quick gaming updates: I have 34K trainer points in Nintendogs (16K to go!), I'm well in to Superstar Saga, and in Animal Crossing I am doing a heavy dose of turnip investments and foreign fruit planting. ;-)

Guild Wars will soon be restarted again. Oh yes, it will... :-)

Battle at the Homefront

posted by John Blanco @ 6:13 AM


On Wednesday, while I was at work, I got a call from my sister Susan that my mom was in the hospital. Here's the story (as far as I can tell):

About a month ago, my mom was putting up Christmas decorations when she took a fall of the chair she was standing on and smacked her jaw on a table. She spent the next month trying to shake it off, but she had bad headaches and didn't tell anyone about what happened.

Eventually, she tells Susan because her back and neck are really hurting, and they go to the doctor to check her out. While at the hospital, my mom beging dragging her steps and when my Sister asks what she's doing...my mom feints. :-(

Luckily, Susan catches her before she falls. She's brought into the ER where she awaits tests most of Wednesday afternoon evening. Finally, late that night, they talk to the neurosurgeon and he declares that my poor mom has "blood on the brain" and needs surgery.

Basically, the impact caused her to start internal bleeding, which accumulated between her brain and skull. Not pretty. Surgery is then scheduled for Thursday morning.

The surgery is quick, with "minimal risk," but it's pretty scary. They had to drill two holes into her skull, to pull the blood out. The blood fills TWO bags, and last I hear, was still coming slowly. Because the blood was there so long, the recovery has taken a little longer than needed.

Right now, my mom is still in the ICU, lying flat on her back and being told not to move. She should start feeling a lot better today (we'll see), but the last two days have been agonizing for her. She can't open her eyes too much and can't talk for her too long as they both leave her with a headache...because of the trauma of the operation on her brain.

I hope to hear more today. So, if you're reading this, keep my mom in your thoughts. :-(

Love you, Momzy!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Chess Avatara: Continues!

posted by John Blanco @ 8:07 PM


Tonight, I finally restarted on Chess Avatara code, changing the map data format processing code to match the miniaturized output made my Marauder's Map.

Chess Avatara is now working again!

So now, with Marauder done (though with lots of little tweaks I'd *like* to make) and Chess Avatara stable again with the new map code, I'm moving on to the chat system as a little treat to myself for spending the hard-fought time necessary to write a complete map editor from scratch.


So, I'll give myself a couple weeks to do chat...an hour to manipulate it on the server, but quite a bit of detailed UI work to get it working on the client side (text field, chat graphics, etc.)

Maybe three weeks.

OK, enough toiling for tonight, now on to some Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga! :-)

Monday, January 02, 2006

Make Me Rich, Mr. Scottrade!

posted by John Blanco @ 7:03 PM


The Blancos are in business! :-) We're ready to invest, getting edumucated on the stock market, and our financial future is being laid out in front of us...

Ah, a great feeling. :-)

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Oh, Happy New Year!

posted by John Blanco @ 7:03 PM


The holidays have come to a close. A little sad, I must say. Michele and I enjoyed our fun and quiet evening together last night for New Year's Eve. We had Old Chicago for dinner, played games and watched TV, and then enjoyed our celebration alongside Animal Crossing, which had a countdown of its own. :-)

Today, we drove around looking for a book for her, with no luck -- so Amazon to the rescue. A little tired from the late night, we lazed around on the couch, did some laundry, watched some football, played some games, and then had a home-cooked steak dinner.

Tomorrow, we put some fuel in the gas tank and register ourselves at Costco, take down the Christmas tree, and do some other cleaning in the house.

Yawn! :-)

Oh, also today I started working on my assigned AC gift. I can't give any details though, these things are a secret. So I end here. ;-)