All posts by AJ

Mafia Wars Hint: Beating Boosts

Zynga has made some changes to Mafia Wars in the last couple days, including “boosts” for characters. One of these boosts, “Mutts” has made robbing other players much more difficult.

But what happens if it’s not about making money, but causing damage? What if all you really need to do is retaliate against someone for infringing on your empire? Then by all means, rob ’em. You’ll almost certainly fail, and your health will go down, but each attempt uses one of their boosts. At $2 million a crack, you can spend a lot of someone else’s hard-earned cash in a hurry. And at some point, they’ll be out of boosts, you’ll be inside their organization, then you can start with the body punches: putting their properties out of business.

I mean, if you wanted to be a jerk.

FaceBook App Spam

I’ve fallen to the dark side: I’ve started playing Mafia Wars on FaceBook (friend me on FB to join my mob). It’s fun, it’s addictive, and the game engine is designed to send lots and lots of updates to your FB posse. It’s that second part that kind of sucks.

I’m all for people posting news on FB. I love hearing about triumphs, disasters, and stuff in between. I’m especially a fan if folks use some flavor of an “F” webalism (web-based initialism):STFU, RTFM, LMFAO, and good ol’ WTF are among my favorites. And even in game, I’m all for hearing about how you just used an armored truck full of C4 to bitch-slap that jerk who’s been putting you on the hit list every hour on the hour. What I’m not down with is game comments that overflow into the regular (read: mundane) FB world.

This is where I take a time out to apologize for my contributions to this river of spam. Yeah, so, uh, sorry.

For those of you looking for ways to control what your FB account posts from Mafia Wars and other Zynga games, check out this FB note by John Cole. Onward.

Dear Maureen, Is it just me, or are you an idiot?

Wow – That was… something. Normally, I’m a pretty big fan of the Times, but your op-ed on Twitter was just dreck. Could you have been any more biased and less clued in?

I mean, you must have done something right at some point, what with your Pulitzer and all, but that piece was worthy of the hacks at Fox. Except that they get Twitter.

It’s OK, though. In a couple of years, when the Times goes paperless, you’ll have your chance to be a Twitter ghost writer. Most likely, there’ll be something else new and interesting that you don’t understand and find intimidating, but since you’ll be using the venerable Twitter to broadcast your uninformed opinion, we’ll only have to wade through 140 characters of your “writing.”

Oh, hey Maureen, the phone is for you; it’s 1926 calling – they want their yellow journalism back.

Third person, death by apathy, and the trouble with social networks

You may have noticed – if you’ve bothered coming here over the last few months – a distinct lack of posts. Even more so than usual, which is really saying something. I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time in Social Networking Land. In fact, I even ran out of room in my passport for all the stamps I’ve collected…

I’ve been tweeting and FBing and checking out FriendFeed and Plurk and MeetUp and and even trying to build a little somethin’-somethin’. I have become an expert at referring to myself in third person via tiny jargon-filled snippets (and, FWIW, AJ finds this disturbing.). I’ve had conversations with friends I’ve bumped into for the first time in months, and when I try to fill them in on what’s been going on in my world, they invariably reply with, “Oh, I know. I saw it on FaceBook.”

Shit! That’s not how it’s supposed to work, is it? Don’t tell me we’re going to move toward a society of people who don’t have catch-up conversations on the sidewalk or over a beer; where we know all the news in each others’ lives, but haven’t seen anyone else in months. It’s great to be able to ask a question to a big audience, to get some help, or to celebrate a triumph in the moment, but isn’t it even better to do it with actual friends?

Let me know what you think: comment on this post, or hit me via twitter (@theaj42) or give me a shout on FB.


Food Photos

Lately – call it the last few months – I’ve been getting into posting online pictures of special culinary creations from the Casa del Beest kitchens.

I got bitten by this particular bug after visiting the Smitten Kitchen and Pioneer Woman (don’t ask; it’s a long story) blogs. From there it was a pretty short journey to picking up BigDigi (gotta control the whole shmear for these shots!) and having at it. And now, it’s kind of a tiny obsession.

The only bad part of shooting my meals is when there’s something that looks and smells fabulous and I’m really hungry. Camera or fork, camera or fork? And for what it’s worth, my experience suggests it’s not wise to aim for a “both/and” solution.

Man period

I must be on the rag this week, ’cause there’s all kinds of little shit that is just driving me up the walls. From people needing to take better notes when we meet (or is that me needing to rehash the meeting in an email that goes to all involved for their approval/records?) or needing a healthy dose of RTFM, to kids who, “don’t need to be paid; I just solve problems,” horning in on one of my clients, to co-workers who’ve “been ready to go for six months,” but can’t take five minutes to talk to me “because we just don’t have time,” it kind of seems like my universe has planted its head firmly up its ass.

To make matters even worse, this is the result of my latest Google query: “No results found for ‘acme giganto extractor’.” :/

Public key for ajvanbeest ->atdot

Version: GnuPG v1.4.7 (MingW32)


Dreamtime – Messages From My Unconscious

First I was at a marina, looking at boats and trying to plan a trip to warm places on the west coast with some friends. Soon though, I was watching large boats and small ships give ice breaking demonstrations… from underwater.

Next I was wandering down Ellis Ave. toward downtown Ashland having skipped Taijutsu class. I got about halfway there when what should happen, but my friend Kyle (who I’m pretty sure doesn’t have two violent bones in his body) came running past in a white gi with Greg and Jack Hoban close on his heels. It seems that Greg had a surprise waiting for us at class (ala Jack), but everyone cut except for Kyle, who came to check things out for the first time. Of course, I did what anyone in my position and worth a bit of their salt would do: feel in line and chased them to a big playground on the edge of town where we did pull-ups and slid and played ninja tag through all the equipment and bleachers.

On the way back from this quasi-impromptu class, I passed through a collegiate soccer team that was having practice, intercepted a ball, and started a slow run toward some dorms in the distance, passing the ball back and forth to both sides with a couple other guys.

What’s it all mean? I’m not sure, but even though I woke up as sore as I’ve been in a while and tired from not getting as much sleep as I’d like, I feel really motivated and like I need to keep on with training no matter what. And watching ships break ice from underwater was just plain cool! 🙂


“Yes, Boy,” I said, really trying to be patient, “I understand that you want cheese and chips. However, I am not going to make you cheese and chips, because I’d like you to eat some Real Food today.”

And so it began. Again. The tears (his were born of frustration; mine came from two quarts of simmering onions), the yelling (his), the questions (mine: “Would you like a biscuit with some strawberry jam;” “Would you like some soup;” “Would you like a …”), the hitting (his), the leaving for a less hurty room (mine), the following (his), the questions, again (mine).

Now, finally, after an hour of war, quiet has returned to the kingdom. I resisted The Boy’s siege long enough for him to fall asleep on the couch (convenient, eh?) outside the gates of the city. We’ll (and by “we,” I mean The Wife) see what morning brings. Maybe more slings and arrows, but maybe negotiations.