Thursday, December 29, 2005

Waiting in Lines

Every time when I am in a long line (let’s say waiting for a cab in the airport), I feel somewhat agitated. According to my close analysis, the degree of agitation is determined by two Factors: (A) the number of people in front of me, and (B) the number of people behind me.

Factor (A) is determined to be strongly positively correlated with my anxiety level, which means the more people in front of me, the more pissed off I am. It is logical, I think, since the larger number of people indicates longer waiting period.

I also noticed that Factor (B) is highly negatively correlated with my anxiety level, which means the more people behind me, the less agitated, or more delighted, I am. Even though such strongly correlation undeniably exists, I am deeply puzzled. Why would I be happier when there are more people waiting behind me? They have nothing to do with me. They are not going to shorten my wait by any means. Am I the only one who has this illogical feeling?

After consulting with my lovely wife regarding this mysterious phenomenon, once again I was told that I am not special at all. This is actually commonly referred as “幸灾乐祸”, and it has existed in human history as far back as we can remember. Damn...

Friday, December 23, 2005

The Game - [World of Warcraft]

World of Warcraft (WOW) is a MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game), which means it??s a RPG (role playing game) with millions of real users interactive simultaneously in a fantasy world. As any typical RPG, WOW comes with various classes and races. There are 8 races (Human, Orc, Dwarf, and etc.) and 9 classes (Warriors, Paladin, Mage, and the other usual suspects) in the game. I picked a Dwarf Warrior as my main character. (I am on Normal serve in the Whisperwind Realm)

To be honest, I was very skeptical about the game at first. I was never a big fan of MMORPGs. The only previous one that I played was Diablo, which I found very repetitive and boring. Because of this bias, even though WOW received rave reviews and was voted the Game of the Year in 2004 by more than 400 gaming magazines and websites, it never interested me until one day my brother told me about the greatness of this game. I finally decided to give it a try.

Oh, boy, what a game!! I really can't pin down what exactly makes this game great, but it's great nonetheless. This game is as flawless as you can think of. The world in the game is huge and graphically beautiful. You can even see your footmarks on the snow. The enemies are diverse and well-designed, including variety of animals, humanoids, and mechanical objects. The sound effect is excellent. You can hear the wind whistling through the forrest. The collision of weapons also sounds authentic.

When it comes to gameply, WOW simply nailed it. This is not a hard game to begin with, even though many secrets of the game require more hours to discover. I learned how to play the game in less than 10 minutes. Controls are very intuitive. You use arrow keys or ASDW to move around, and right click to attack an enemy. Even though you are constantly killing things, there are also many other things to do in the game. You can learn Skills that does not involve fighting. I acquired Mining and Black Smith skills so I can make my own Armor. You gain experienes through either killing or Quests. There are variety of quests in the game, and in generally they are meticulously designed in a way that it won't be so difficult that you want to throw your mouse at the screen; nor it would be so easy that that you get bored after 4 hours of play. Sometimes when a quest gets too difficult, you can always team up with someone around you to form a party. I once met a Priest and we fought bravely against some fish-like creatures. I may even join a Guild one day to get to know more people and fight bigger battles.

The game is not graphically violent, even though you are killing things constantly. The characters look a little bit catoonish, but I think it looks really cute. This is a game for everyone. If you are remotely interested in RPGs, you should check this game out. There is a reason that this game is currently the most played MMORPG in the market.

BTW, the game is so fun that I don't feel like going to snowboarding anymore (the warm weather in NY certainly doesn't help either). It's indeed very scary for a snowboarding fan.

The Book - [Animal Farm]

[Animal Farm] is another classic written by George Orwell, one of the most renowned writers of the 20th century. Both of his [1984] and [Animal Farm] are widely considered the Top 100 English novels of all time. After reading both, I simply can’t agree more.

Both books are the fine products of Orwell’s long crusade against totalitarian. As an active member of the socialism movement in the early 1930s, George Orwell was an idealist. He despised the capitalism to his core and was longing for democratic socialism, which he believed to be the only savior for the hard work general public. The tremendous success of the Russian revolution gave him great comfort and joy. However, as Stalin established his dictatorship through ruthless purging in the mid 30s, Orwell once against fell into abyss. He was demoralized by what he saw and he couldn’t see any hope. The working class seems to be in an eternity of suffrage. As a result, he wrote [1984] and [Animal Farm] in a rather pessimistic way to condemn totalitarian governments.

[Animal Farm] was written in a highly comical way. The story is about how several smart and visionary pigs lead the animals in Manor Farm to a revolution that drives the suppressive farm owner, Mr. Manor, out of the farm. The Manor Farm is then renamed to Animal Farm, indicating the autonomy of the farm. What happens next is not something I will discuss here since I highly recommend everyone to read this short book (only about 110 pages long). However, I will tell you some of the most unforgettable characters in the book: Napoleon, one of the pigs that leads the animals to victory; Snowball, an intelligent and brave pig that is also a key figure to the revolution; Boxer, a strong male horse, whose motto is “I will work harder” and “Napoleon is always right”; Benjamin, an old eccentric donkey who seldom says anything except “Life is always the same, no better and no worse, no matter what happens”, Four sheep (whose names I really can’t recall) who are not smart enough to learn anything except “Four leg good, two leg bad”. All these are great characters created by Orwell and I found them extremely interesting.

The book is written in 1943 and published in 1945 after the World War II. However, it gave you a fairly accurate picture of what about to happen in China in the subsequent 30 years. Orwell’s ability to foresee the future is startling. I honestly think this is one of the best books I’ve ever read. The story is entertaining, engaging, and thought provoking. A lot of metaphors are used in the book and it will keep your brain busy for a while if you want to. [Animal Farm] is definitely one of my Top 3 novels of all time.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

The Book - [High Fidelity]

Just finished this book several days ago. A great one. Even better than the movie. I think everyone should read it.

The book is about a 36-year old man who was struggling with his love life. He owns a not-so-successful boutique music store and has difficulties with commitment. When his g/f recently left him, he starts to re-think the whole thing about dating and relationships. The book is outrageously funny and it gives you a genuine glimpse of a middle age man's mind when it comes to love, marriage, and relationships.

The name of the book has two meanings: first, Hi Fi is a term frequently used when talking about music, and the book has plenty of music reference. Secondly, the book is about the true confession of a man. It's so real and it makes me chill sometimes. You know what, I take my words back. I don't think this book is for everyone, especially not for girls. This book gives away too many secrets about how men think. It makes us, men, even less special and mysterious.

All in all, I rate this book 5 out of 5.