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I got tired of my gang fighting within the ranks, and apparently other Grove Street members did, too, because they set up a meeting for us to reunite. Of course, the cops showed up in force, with helicopters, the SWAT team, motorcycles… you name it, it was there. Lucky for me, I had my trusty AK-47 with me.

My pal, Sweet, was trapped inside the hotel where the meeting was being held, so it was up to me to go in and save him. I’m amazed that I’m always strapped to the gills with guns and this guy never has any. Maybe I’ll loan him one of mine sometime.

Anyway, I single-handedly battled our way out of the hotel onto the roof where a helicopter full of sharpshooters was waiting. All of them shot at Sweet (probably because he was unarmed) so while he drew fire it was my job to take the helicopter out. After that, we climbed off the roof and, after a pretty hairy car chase, escaped the cops.

Something I noticed in my travels in San Andreas is that the food here has restorative, healing powers. I can get shot several times, head into the local pizza joint, eat a couple of pizzas, and I’m good as new. What’s better, I can buy a drink in a vending machine and get the same result. I’ll have to remember to ask them what they’re putting in it because I think that’d be a hit back home.

I got a call from a friend of mine, Cesar, who wanted to take me to see something but wouldn’t tell me what it was. When we got there, I couldn’t believe my eyes: my friends, Big Smoke and Ryder, were not only working with the corrupt police officer, Tenpenny, but they had the green car that my mom was gunned down by! I still have a tough time believing they’d turn on me like this, but I can’t say I didn’t suspect them all along.

Of course, because they were working with the cops, that meant the meeting some other friends of mine went to was an ambush because Big Smoke sold them out. (If you feel like this is happening a little fast for you, don’t worry - you’d be amazed how fast things happen in San Andreas.)

I went to rescue my friends, who all had guns but couldn’t seem to hit any of their attackers, and the cops showed up. Of course, it was Officer Tenpenny (who sounds a lot like Samuel L. Jackson, might I add), who knocked me out, put a bag over my head, and drove me out to the country.

Turns out he threw all of my surviving friends into jail, but somehow he saw something special in me and decided to let me go if I’d do a favor for him. There was a guy holed up in a safe house on a mountain and I had to go kill him and take a photo of the body. All in a day’s work, right?

I hopped on a bike, headed up the mountain, flushed the guy out, and chased him down. I ended up running his car off the mountain road and - because Officer Tenpenny took all of my guns - punched the guy to death. Then I snapped a photo, dropped off the camera, and that was that.

A few things occurred to me at this point:

First, it’s amazing how many people seem to leave their keys in their cars with the doors unlocked. With a one-man crime spree like me on the loose, you’d think they’d at least lock their doors. As it stands, I can hop into any parked car out there and it starts right up - I don’t even have to close my door. Some folks never learn.

Second, I’m going to have to contact the highway safety office and have them investigate some of the roads around here. There are some seriously precarious mountain roads up there that don’t have guard rails around them. Let me tell you, it’s easier than you think to drive right off the mountain. You’ll probably survive, but it does some good damage to your car. I may have a class action lawsuit brewing here.

Third, looking at my map I don’t see the different gang turf anymore, so I’m thinking that, even though the meeting got ambushed by police, the gangs must have reunited. That’s sort of unfortunate, because there was a lot of money to be made when the war was on. Kinda like real life, huh, Mr. Bush?

Back to my day: I dropped off the camera, then went to visit Officer Tenpenny at this local yokel’s hotel room. The guy was some sort of drugged-out flower child who called himself “The Truth.” Anyway, he wanted me to go steal a combine harvester from a group of survivalists on a farm out in the country. Whatever, man.

Shot down a bunch of the survivalists on the way to the combine, then once I was in the combine, I could run them down. Of course, they’d shoot out the back of the combine in chopped up pieces when I did, which I figured was a warning to those standing in my way of what would happen to them… but no one heeded that warning and just stood in the way. I took the combine back to The Truth’s farm, the combine possessed, like something from a Stephen King film.

Oh! I also met a new girlfriend, Catalina. She’s into the sado-masochistic thing, and on our first date she brought out a real live rack to put me on. I begged for mercy and she relented, but I admit I was a little freaked out.

Catalina is also into robberies, so we robbed a bank and an off-track horse race betting place. Reasonably uneventful, beyond the usual police chases and such.

Catalina’s a fiery woman. No sooner do I drop her off at her house but she calls me and tells me she’s going to “cut my balls off and make me eat them” or something like that. I’m not sure why I always fall in with this hostile crowd, but I guess I’ll take what I can get.

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Today was a big day. Not only did I burn down a rival gang’s house, I picked up a girlfriend in the process. She seems to like being taken out to cheap bars or fast food, and if I don’t see her every couple of days, she calls me and tells me not to treat her like a ho or she’ll put a cap in my ass. Who wouldn’t want a girl like that?

I was also entrusted by my gang to start taking over rival gang territory, so I spent quite a bit of time doing that. Every once in a while, a gang would try to take some territory back, but I’d show up with my AK-47 and put them back in their place.

OG Loc violated parole and he’s headed back to prison, so we gave him a final sendoff party he’ll never forget. Of course, a rival gang crashed it so we had to kill them all before the party could really get going. A few car explosions and dead bodies later, and I was dancing the night away.

I’m starting to notice the gang members getting smarter, using flanking tactics and such when they attack. That could prove to be interesting, though I’ve been able to use their own intelligence against them - if I back myself down a long alleyway, they all funnel in and get gunned down single-file. A couple might hold back, but after the majority of the gang’s out of the way, one or two stragglers isn’t a problem, particularly when wearing body armor.

playstation, gaming comments edit

Day 2 in San Andreas was reasonably eventful.

I started out the day realizing I was low on funds and would have to make a quick buck if I was going to save myself from having to drive back and forth across Los Santos. I decided to impersonate a taxi driver for a while, which netted me some decent dough, and after 50 fares, I was informed that all cabs have nitrous on them. Very cool if you need a fast car.

I took my money and bought a small shack in the northeast portion of Los Santos. $10,000 - what a steal! Not much to look at, but somewhere you can call home.

My pal Big Smoke let me know that a friend of mine, Jeffrey, was coming out of jail, so we went to meet him. He’s trying to start a rap career (but he sucks) and figured going to jail would somehow give him street credibility. Whatever.

Jeffrey met us outside the jail and informed us to now call him “OG Loc,” which is the stupidest rapper name ever, but it fits with his rap, which also sucks. We dropped OG Loc off at his new job as a “hygiene technician” at the Burger Shot.

I took the downtime to run over to the tattoo parlor and get one of everything. I’m covered in tattoos now, and the rest of the gang respects that. I also visited the gym, since I hadn’t been in a while, and built up my muscle and stamina.

Big Smoke took me to pick up his cousin Mary, who just came in from Mexico, but - would you believe it? - he was talking about marijuana. Just say no, Big Smoke! But I guess that’s probably why they call him “Big Smoke,” and there wasn’t much I could do, so I let him do his thing. Of course, the deal went south, so I had to chase one of the dealers down and kill him. I tried to reason with him, but no, he wanted to run. Hey, man - you make your bed, you sleep in it.

Big Smoke seemed troubled over the whole drug deal gone bad, so I went over to his house to console him and he decided to take some revenge. I, of course, attempted once again to talk some sense into him, but he’d have none of it.

I’m beginning to think Big Smoke is working with some corrupt cops in town. They always seem to be at his house when I come over. Weird.

Anyway, we went to the train station and the drug dealers hopped on a train and tried to escape. I chased the train down on a conveniently located motorcycle and Big Smoke, riding on back, gunned them down from the bike.

Then I found out there was something going on between Big Smoke and some Russians, so we went downtown to talk to them, but they ended up chasing us through town and down a flood control trench. This time I rode on the back of the bike and Big Smoke drove, so it was up to me to shoot down any pursuing vehicles. It was rough going there for a while, but we made it. (To be honest, I’m not sure what Big Smoke got out of that one, but I have to trust he knows what he’s doing.)

I went back downtown to visit OG Loc at his job, and he was having a difficult time writing lyrics and breaking into the rap business, so I offered to help him out by stealing the lyrics from a well-known rap artist and then killing the rap artist’s manager. What are friends for? Both of those came off without a hitch, and I think OG Loc is going to be getting a career soon. We’ll see.

Lastly, I decided I needed some more money, so I picked up a job as a courier at the local market dropping off packages of what resembled talcum powder. Why people need talcum powder dropped off all over town is beyond me, but it pays well, so I did it. After doing four sets of deliveries, the store told me they were very thankful for my work and now they pay me $2000 a week - free! Very kind of them, and helpful in my money making efforts.

I capped off the evening by buying a new place on the west side of Los Santos so now I have a place to stay wherever I’m at. Gotta love it.

Heard from home that Bush got elected for a second term and Oregon Measure 36

  • a measure amending the state constitution to ban gay marriage - passed. I’m thinking about staying in San Andreas and never coming home because it’s going to hell in a handbasket out there. I can’t say it any better than Dan Gillmor, so read his statement and I say “ditto.”

playstation, gaming comments edit

After getting off the plane in San Andreas, it became abundantly clear that the local cops were not part of the solution - they’re part of the problem. Crooked like a dirty politician. They took my money and accused me of being a cop-killer, and I hadn’t even been in town ten minutes.

It was good to see my friends again, though some didn’t recognize me, I’d been gone so long. We soon got to reminiscing about old times and, against my better instincts, I fell back into the pattern of gang life that seems so prevalent here.

See, I came back because someone killed my mom, and I need to find out who. It was gang-related, though, and I’m thinking if I can infiltrate my way back in, I can figure it out and maybe even unite all the gang families in the process. Optimistic? Sure, but it’s for the good of San Andreas.

When I first got here, all I had to get around on was a bicycle, but soon after I got myself a car. I drove around the town to get a feel for the place and it became abundantly clear that it’s nearly impossible to get three or four blocks without causing massive amounts of property damage and killing several people. I started keeping a body count, but all I was doing was making hash marks that stopped me from getting about my business, so I decided against it. I figure, if I honk my horn and the pedestrians don’t scurry, it’s their own fault for getting waxed.

I found the local eateries and the gym, so I can keep myself in shape. I learned some new fighting moves at the gym, though I still don’t get this “running attack” he taught me. I’d just as soon pull out a baseball bat as deal with trying an attack I can’t seem to get right.

One of my friends, Sweet, let me in on a problem in the city - gangs have been tagging buildings everywhere. Thankfully, he provided me with a can of green spray paint to perform some community service and cover those nasty tags up with. Turns out there were 100 such tags, all of which I went around and cleaned up. That took a while, but I had a map that outlined the locations, so it wasn’t as bad as you’d think.

That netted me quite a bit of respect from the gang, and after it was over, I found a load of weapons in my kitchen, as though the gun fairy dropped them off. As many times as I pick them up, they keep reappearing. No complaints. I figure I can put them to good use.

After that, I did a couple of drive-by shootings - you know, to get some more respect - and participated in a lowrider contest where I had to make my car bounce to the music. Oh, and I did just a little illegal street racing in that same lowrider.

Finally, my friend Ryder introduced me to the joys of breaking and entering. We didn’t just settle for stealing guns from a retired Army colonel’s house, though, we even ripped off the National Guard. Those guys never knew what hit them.

halloween, costumes comments edit

Halloween this year was a three day event that started on Friday at work. This is Halloween in the Product Engineering department:

Halloween in Product

Pretty crazy, huh? We went to lunch like that and all these little kids kept coming over to our table wanting to meet Spongebob. Too funny.

Of course, Monday (today) starts my vacation, and the Friday before vacation wouldn’t be complete without the sales guys having a lack of preparation which translates to a state of emergency on my part. Which is to say, at about 1:30p I was told that some customizations needed to be done to a product demo for a sales presentation that was going to take place.

Normally that sort of thing is fine (though I admit I have a sour attitude about the whole thing because I moved to the product engineering department partially to get away from that damn demo), but then they showed me the “customizations” they wanted done.

“Customization” isn’t really the proper word to describe it. It was more like “functional overhaul.” They “only had four things” on the list, but each of those items was like three days’ worth of work. All to be done by 5:00p that day. Riiiiight.

When we made the demo, we built in a certain amount of customizability. You can change colors of the site, logos that appear, any of the text on the various pages, and you can internationalize it so it’ll appear in any language you want. You can’t, however, add or remove functionality from the demo because that would require you recompile the application and redistribute it. No can do in three and a half hours. You also can’t change the sizes or locations of things - we have a very specific set of CSS styles that get applied to the demo, all of which allow for color change, but once you change size and/or position of any elements, it affects every other element and you end up with a huge mess on your hands. Things are set up just so. This is also not a trivial thing to do.

Everything they wanted was either a functional change (no) or a size/position change (also, no).

I talked them down to sticking within the bounds that were originally set by the demo requirements - change the colors, text, and logos and call it a day.

I got those changes completed and sent out almost right at 5:00p, amidst the barrage of phone calls, emails, drop-in visits, and instant messages that happened to flood in right at the end of the day. It took me a half hour just to set up my out-of-office email message and voicemail because I kept getting interrupted.

Friday night was a hockey game, and I celebrated our win the next day by taking a nice afternoon nap. Ah, but I do love a good nap.

Which takes us to Saturday. Saturday night was the annual Halloween party at my friends Jason and Tracy’s house. (I’m sure I got some possessive punctuation wrong in that last sentence, but bear with me.)

Here are Jenn and I, ready for the party. Jenn was Snow White with a costume of her own making and I was a crewmember from Alien.

Jenn and me, ready to

Jason and Tracy always have cool parties, and this was no exception. The highlight of this year’s party was a team tournament of shot glass checkers. Two teams of five, but the whole party was crowded around cheering. Great stuff. I’m not sure who won. Heh.

Stuart, a friend from work (pictured above as Count Dooku from Star Wars, Episode 2) came to the party and brought me a replacement for the Timmy doll that was so rudely stolen from my cubicle at work several weeks ago. Very cool. Those are hard to find, and I’m happy to have Timmy back by my side. I will bring him to work and chain his ass down so the fucking cleaning staff can’t make off with him again. Stuart is the man.

Jenn and I pretty much closed the place down around 1:00a or so (the party started at 7:30p, so that’s a decent party, even though it didn’t last until like 7:00a the next morning; I’m no all-night partier, that’s for sure).

Sunday Jenn and I went to see The Grudge, which I heard was dumb but which I thought was reasonably decent. You can’t expect too much from horror movies, and this did get me to jump a couple of times, so I liked it. Didn’t hurt that Sarah Michelle Gellar was in it, redeeming herself for the career sin that is Scooby Doo.

Sunday night, of course, the trick-or-treaters were out in full force. We live in the kind of neighborhood that parents figure is “safe” for trick-or-treaters, which translates into caravans of cars, trucks, SUVs, and minivans dropping loads of kids off and trolling up and down the street like the support crew for a long-distance relay race. We bought a 44 oz. bag of candy (those bite-size candy bars… not the “mini” ones, the ones slightly smaller than that), handed out two pieces to each trick or treater, and that didn’t quite last 35 minutes. We busted out our own personal stash of candy and that got us another 10 minutes, at which point we turned off the porch light and listened to the army of kids continue to knock and ring the doorbell. (I don’t know about you, but when the porch light went off, it meant the house was out of candy. That doesn’t click with today’s youth.)

And now it’s Monday, my first day in San Andreas. I’m looking forward to it, and I’m considering posting sort of a travel journal from the trip. Pends on how ambitious I get, which means it probably won’t get done, because, you know, I’m on vacation.