Some life goals.

•November 7, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I, like mostly everyone else, have some life goals. I am sure at least some of them will go unfulfilled but I am going to do my best to accomplish all of them before I die. Like, seriously.

In no particular order, my life goals include:

  • Forge a sword
  • Experience zero-gravity/go into space
  • Kill a zombie in full-riot gear
  • Hug a tiger
  • Buy a house
  • Get married
  • Visit Italy

That’s all for now.

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World of Warcraft.

•November 1, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I love video games- MMOs included. I played World of Warcraft religiously for a few years, and though it was an absurd time-sink, I still think fondly of the memories I have playing the game. This post is in homage to the good times I had with WoW, and I must ask my substantial fan-base and readership not to die of abject boredom enthusiastic excitement.

I originally played on Darrowmere, which was a ghost of a server marked by a depressing lack of players. I transferred to Kil’jaeden at my friend Justin’s recommendation. He had a level six character there (and told me he’d level it up), but also that it was his boss’s server (which meant, to me, he actually would be semi-dedicated to the server). Just to keep the fanbase from dying of suspense, he didn’t. In the interest of keeping my fans from dying of suspense, I ended up becoming a hardcore raider (I raided 4-5 nights a week for about five hours each night, not including time spent running 5-mans or farming materials) and tanked everything in tier 4 and tier 5 content, and most of the bosses in tier 6 content (Kil’jaeden excluded). Brutallus was a lot of fun to tank, as was Illidan. I did complete all t4, t5, and t6 content and earned the Champion of Naaru as well as Hand of A’dal title.

I digress.

My warlock, already level 70, was just used for farming and I leveled my paladin (from 52 to 70). I made a few friends while running Blood Furnace and Hellfire Ramparts in HP. My paladin was prot after the experiences I had with a prot paladin on Darrowmere named Tahiah. I was tanking instances where the mobs were at least 3-4 levels above me because I could afford the enchants/gear and knew what I was doing. Avenger’s Shield, Holy Shield, Consecrate, Judgment of Righteousness, rinse, repeat sans Avenger’s Shield unless mana was good. Demons? Throw in Exorcism.

My paladin made it to 70 and I was able to gear him up a little bit by running Karazhan with Soju Crew. After Soju Crew fell apart, I joined Dark Prophecy and made some excellent friends. I still talk to the guild leader, Amber, and to a few of the DPSers (Tom, Tony, and Janna). In Dark Prophecy, we would run Kara once a week (it only took an hour and a half or two hours because that raid is an entrance-T4 10-man) and the rest of the week we would beat down Tempest Keep and Serpentshrine Cavern. I have the screenshots from most of our kills (A’lar, Solarian, Void Reaver, Hydross, Tidewalker, Lurker, Leo, FLK, and Vashj).

My least favorite raid was TK. It wasn’t hard, it was all fairly easy, and admittedly Kael’thas, which we never killed in DP, was a fun fight. After we were able to systematically kill all but Kael and Vashj in DP, we started raiding Mt. Hyjal. I tanked our first guild kills of Rage Winterchill and Anetheron.

On a side note, there are three roles in WoW. Tanking, healing, and DPS. Tanking is reserved (usually) for warriors, paladins, or druids. The tank is responsible for mitigating damage and keeping the attention of the boss through a threat system. Some fights call for multiple tanks (like Brutallus or Kalecgos in Sunwell, or Fathom-Lord Karathress in SSC), and some fights even call for warlock tanks (Illidan demon form). Healers are responsible for keeping the tanks and dps alive, with the obvious priority on the tanks. The DPS are responsible for killing the bosses/mobs.

We progressed through Hyjal up to Archimonde but were unable to beat him. Finally we started raiding Black Temple and if I recall correctly, we got up to Shade of Akama. At that point, we began having problems with attendance and people just leaving their computer without logging off (I’m looking at you, Gaignan).

Dark Prophecy fell apart and I joined Exordium. A few others from Dark Prophecy also joined Exordium, but it was in this guild that I raided tier 6 successfully. The guild had all tier 6 content on farm. I was able to go through all of the fights in Hyjal or Black Temple with ease- and I was one of the lesser geared people so I was able to gear up Dunedain with the prot gear he was lacking in a few weeks. Dune’s base HP got to about 18k (pre-3.0), with about 30% dodge, 25% parry, and 20% block (before Holy Shield). I could easily put out 2500tps on bosses (and 3000-3500tps on demons). The only two people who could pull threat off me if I wasn’t paying attention were Phlight and Wafflestomp, respectively a fury warrior with the Glaives and an ele shaman.

With Exordium, I killed Illidan, Archimonde, and Kil’jaeden before 3.0. I geared Dunedain up for retribution spec, too, and was able to consistently put out about 2k dps, usually settling in at about third or fourth on DPS (not bad, considering the shit I got for going ret, and that I beat out all but two or three DPS).

My favorite fight was probably Illidan- I don’t recall how long the fight lasted- maybe ten or fifteen minutes? It was five stages, and I was able to tank a Flame after I accrued my FR gear. “Eye beams outside.”

I had a hell of a lot of fun playing this game, and a hell of a lot of memories running/flying around with Janna yelling, “Shamma lamma ding dong!” Or tracking down a level 50 dwarf hunter in Un’goro Crater named Bumshot with the DP mt Bobthegreat just to say hi. I haven’t played since about November or December of 2008, but I think when I get my desktop, I’ll reactivate my account for nostalgia.

•October 31, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Thankfully the bills edited by the House of Representatives do not now include provisions to reimburse the Christian Scientists for their “prayer healing.” The three bills were released with the ‘tax-money-to-pay-for-spiritual-healing’ removed (source). Prayer-healing is dumb.

On the topic of “Prayer-healing”

•October 24, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I have strong confidence in the ability and scope of modern medicine. I think science is absolutely wonderful and is the truest measurement by which we can judge humanity’s progress and intellectual advancement. That said, it’s phenomenal to really consider how much doctors can cure and mend today that a hundred years ago would have meant certain death. And the fact that there’s so much left to discover and refine only means that science will continue to be as fascinating and awe-inspiring as it is today.

With that said, I am firmly against “prayer-healing,” homeopathy, and other “alternative medicines.” I am especially against using taxpayer money to fund those “treatments.”

Now- and this is a topic which will probably surface often- there is no proof that God exists. Anyone on the surface of the earth who has said they have seen God cannot prove that they have. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and when the extraordinary claims are made, the evidence fails to show. It is medieval superstition initially created by people who didn’t understand the world or the way it worked.

But we know a lot more about the world and the shit it contains now than we did hundreds and thousands of years ago. Why do we need to use taxpayer money to fund “prayer-healing”? Wouldn’t God consider paid “prayer-healing” to be blasphemous or at the very least, a little bit prick-ish? That seems kind of like a mortal indulgence- paying for prayers to get better…

Phil Davis of the Christian Scientists, whose services are tax-deductible, has this to say on the subject:

“It’s so important that anyone in this country, not just Christian Scientists, not be discriminated against because they use spiritual care or rely on it instead of conventional medical treatment.”

If you’re sick and want to just pray to God to heal your ailments, that’s fine. I have no qualms about that- but if you die, what does that say about your God? That, in his omnipotence and supreme benevolence, he decided you weren’t worth saving? What I do have a problem with, however, is the inclusion of paying for “prayer-healing” and alternative treatments on legislative bills (source).

I don’t want any portion of any money I have made or ever will make to go to anything woo or religious. Period. I want my money to be used to further the human race in any way it can, which will likely be through scientific research.

Now, since we have all seen the success of prayer-healing (thank God that 11-year-old girl didn’t die), I’d like to address the homeopathic aversion to vaccinations. While some of the initial batches of vaccinations might need to be tweaked or altered a bit, vaccinations are hugely beneficial. How many people today die of polio? Zero. Small-pox? Zero.

There’s a website dedicated “kids needs options with vaccines.” One of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever read- this whole vaccine/autism thing is ridiculous, and that you can get “religious exemptions” is (I can’t really think of a word to convey just how stupid this is, so you’ll have to make one up- it’s like a Choose Your Own Adventure book, except with less R.L. Stine).

Now, as I am atheist,  I don’t have the Bible memorized nor do I know where can be found the Bible verse that’s so well-referenced in this following quote on KNOW’s website:

A religious objection may be expressly implied by religious denomination or it may be based on an individual’s own moral/spiritual conscience to live God’s Word.

God does not want you to have vaccines? God does not want you to adapt and improve your immune system to avoid life-threatening epidemics? Well, well, well. While evolution is fact, natural selection is the mechanism and theory, but it seems to be proving it’s true…

Introduction.

•October 21, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Hullo there, I’m Thomas.

I’m a full-time mechanical and aerospace engineering undergraduate at University of Florida. I’ve changed my major four or five times (each time oscillating back to physics), but I’m fairly sure MAE is where I’m going to stay put. I’m a few semesters behind where I should be due to some admittedly inadvertent “time off,” though I can’t say I’d have it another way. Well, I mean I guess I could say I’d have it another way, and I’d probably be right. Let’s just say I’m content with where I’m at.

I’m an unapologetic atheist. I was raised Catholic in a family of devout Catholics and received my first communion in addition to being confirmed. It wasn’t until I was about seventeen that I considered myself agnostic, and until about nineteen or so that I considered myself atheist. I don’t think religion has done net good on the earth- on the contrary, I think religion has hindered our progress and stunted our intellectual growth. Religion has instilled in us the misconception that blind faith is acceptable and that evidence is unnecessary for extraordinary claims. There is no evidence for God’s existence, and until evidence is produced, his existence is nothing more than medieval superstition.

“Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?” -Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

I wholeheartedly adore math and science. More than any other branches of academia and knowledge, math and science represent the purest forms of knowledge and possess the greatest potential to progress the human race. I enjoy learning how theorems and mathematical and scientific facts came to be discovered and proven as well as learning how to apply and solve problems. I am halfway through calculus and absolutely enjoying it. The material is organized so well that one idea almost perfectly sets the stage for the next.

As far as steampunk is concerned, it’s amazing. Though I don’t possess any cool steampunk gadgets, I have plans in mind and on paper to acquire/build some. It’s such a neat concept that I can’t help but find it awesome. For those who don’t know what steampunk is (alternatively, for those who are too lazy to use Google or the equally reputable Wikipedia), it’s a branch of fiction in which brass and steam are dominant. H.G. Wells and Jules Verne are considered to the, uh… “founding fathers” of steampunk.

For the slightly less pertinent information, I also enjoy Italian food, cooking, rock (Tool and the Chili Peppers), tattoos, puns, good movies (who doesn’t?), H.R. Giger’s art, video games, Terry Pratchett novels, Neil Gaiman novels, and pretty much all forms of science-fiction. As a warning, these will probably turn up at least occasionally.

The frequency of posts has yet to be determined, but I hope to keep this up-to-date.