Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Loop de Froot

 If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off.
--Anton Chekhov

It was the first thing that came to mind when I saw the following package at the grocery store:

As soon as I saw it, I realized that a gun had been loaded, and it must be fired.

I bought a box immediately.

When you open the package, the first thing you notice is the smell. Froot Loops have a signature smell of which I am intimately familiar, given that I must have eaten several hundred boxes of the cereal as a kid.

Didn't even need milk. Right out of the box. Then I'd wind up with dry cereal hand. Connoisseurs know what I'm talking about.

Back on task. Pop-Tarts nailed the smell of Froot Loops. It's perfect.

The Pop-Tart itself is more problematic. It's like a zombie--sure, there are still some human qualities, but the essence of the thing is no longer human.

That's what happened here. It tastes like Froot Loops, sort of, but it's not, and it just makes you miss the cereal.

I won't be buying a second box of the Pop-Tarts. I will, however, buy a box of cereal on my next trip. Nice memories.

Microsoft Flight Simulator

This trailer is jaw dropping: Microsoft Flight Simulator - Pre-Order Launch Trailer.

Monday, July 13, 2020


It's certainly not stressful in the U.S. right now.

I mean, it's not like people are dying because politicians are too stupid to make it mandatory to wear a mask in indoor spaces.

In death, freedom?

As we become the deadly laughingstock of the entire world, I like to do this:

That's Townscaper, which is a digital toy. You start with an empty plot of water, and you click on squares.

All you you can determine is the color. Sometimes you don't even determine that.

Then you just click on the square and see what happens.

There are rules about what gets built, but there's no place to read them, and you don't need to pay attention anyway. Just keep left-clicking, and if something happens you don't like, select it and right- click and it goes away.

Can you select a swatch of squares at one time? No. Is there some kind of hidden panel with more complicated building options? No.

Select a color, click on a square.

You can make your space quite big, or quite small. I prefer small, and my little village reflects that.

It's all quite Zen, in it's own way.

Best of all, it's only $5.99 in Early Access. Townscaper.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Friday Links!

Anyone who's seen Blade Runner (especially me, since I've seen it seven times) will love this:
Man turns Los Angeles into Blade Runner after hypnotic aerial footage of illegal fireworks goes viral.

From Wally, and man, this is musical brilliance: Stairway To Gilligan's Island. Yeah, this is terrifying, all right: AI & Robots Crush Foes In Army Wargame. This is very, very cool: How Students Built a 16th-Century Engineer’s Book-Reading Machine.

From David Gloier, and it's huge: Astronomers have found the source of life in the universe.

From C. Lee, and I had no idea this was possible: How to Make Smoked Foods From Around the World on Your Stovetop. This seems convenient: How to move your role-playing game nights online. A terrific article:  The Rise, Fall and Revival of AMD. A remarkable man: How One Man and His Dog Rowed More Than 700 Kākāpōs to Safety.

From Ken Piper, and I approve: Poland Is First Government Worldwide To Add Video Game To Official School Reading List As Educational Resource. This is amazing: Human Interface: What (almost) every button in an F-15C fighter’s cockpit does. Incredible: NASA’s New Horizons Probe Is So Far Away, It Now Sees Stars in Different Positions Than We Do. This is puzzling: A Black Hole Collided With Something That Shouldn't Exist. This sounds like an utter disaster: Your next BMW might only have heated seats for 3 months.

Finishing off this week, from Allen Varney, it's the theme park that just keeps on giving: The Life-Threatening “Ride” That Action Park Actually Decided to Abandon.

Thursday, July 09, 2020

The Most Unfortunate Year

Mom 90.3 has seen it all.

I was talking to Eli 18.10 about the worst year to be born in--in the last century or so--and at first, he said his year (2001) was a strong contender.

The financial crash of 2008, the pandemic, staggering systemic racism in the U.S.--it's a strong case.

I told him, though, that another year had primacy.

1930. That's the year my Mom was born.

She grew up during the Depression. In her teenage years, she was living through WWII. In her twenties and thirties she lived through the terrifying racist white response to the civil rights movement (particularly where she lived during those times, which was Arkansas and Texas).

The Cuban Missile Crisis. The nightmare of Richard Nixon and and George Wallace (Trump is the 21st century incarnation of George Wallace).

THEN add 9/11, the 2008 financial crisis, and the pandemic.

I mean, damn. I didn't even list everything.

She lived through it all, and she's still feisty and forward thinking (love you, Mom).

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Surname Not Included

We were playing golf in a heat index of 101 last Friday.

There was no wind. This meant the flies were out.

On #5 fairway, I stepped away from addressing the ball. "This fly is following me."

Eli 18.11 looked at me. "He's not following you."

"He was on the teebox, too. Right down the fairway with me."

Hole #6, near the green. Buzzing around me.

"There he is."

Eli laughed. "That is NOT the same fly."

"Are you saying that multiple flies are handing me off, like some kind of surveillance team? Are they that sophisticated?"

Eli gave me a look. "Yes, that's the most likely explanation."

This fly just stayed with me, hole after hole.

On #14, I stepped up to the teebox.


I stepped back. "Thomas, I'm trying to hit a drive here."

"You NAMED the fly?"

I nodded. "He's been following me for over an hour now. It seemed appropriate."

"Somehow it's infuriating that you named the fly."

"Ah, that makes it all worthwhile." He laughed.

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Fata Morgana

Entirely by accident, I stumbled on some additional information about the mirages on Lake Michigan.

They're a type of mirage known as "Fata Morgana,"

A mirage produced by cold water/hot air is known as a superior mirage, and a Fata Morgana is a "complex" type of superior mirage that appears just above the horizon.

Particularly interesting is that the legend of the Flying Dutchman appears to have originated from a Fata Morgana.

So many things in our lives appear on the horizon, but always seem to be out of reach.

What I Saw

I saw something that felt like it was out of a dream.

Sunday. I pull away from a stop sign. I have the windows up and the radio is off, so I'm moving in absolute silence.

I look to my left and see a woman riding a bicycle. She's young, maybe twenty or so, but everything about her looks like something from the past. She is wearing a red dress, and has dark hair and big black sunglasses. The bicycle is a vintage style, colored a flat yellow. She pedals by and her dress ripples in the breeze.

It was one of the most perfect things I've sever seen, a moment straight out of a movie. I'm not sure I've ever seen anything more perfectly composed.

Monday, July 06, 2020

Short Today

Sorry, but we played 18 instead of 9 and it was damned hot, so I'm straight up exhausted.

Eli 18.11 has officially figured out his driver. He hit drives of 340, 330, and 320 yards, and it is something to see. I think he'll shoot under par by the end of the summer. Unbelievable.

I'm actually playing pretty well now, but my wrist is bothering me a bit (old).

I thought that living in Canada and going through the winters meant the summer was benign by law, but that's not the case. We've had heat indexes of 100 or higher for a week. Last Friday, we walked 18 and the heat index was 103. Oh, and no wind. It was brutal.

All right, tomorrow I'll have something better for you. Actually, I have good stuff for the rest of the week all planned out. Stay healthy.

Friday, July 03, 2020

Friday Links!

Leading off this week, a magnificent story from my finest friend Mike: Why He Kayaked Across the Atlantic at 70 (for the third time).

This video is astonishing. I'm exhausted just watching it: DH Urban Bike-Comuna 13.

From Ken Piper and this is a stunning story: The Accidental Feminist: Fifty years ago a Southern segregationist made sure the Civil Rights Act would protect women. No joke.

This is long overdue: Japanese Football Team Has A Thomas The Tank Engine Shirt.

One of the most bizarre articles I've ever read: My Little Pony Fans Are Ready to Admit They Have a Nazi Problem.

These are entirely delightful: Re-imagining ALIEN as a Pixar film.

This is remarkable: Digital synesthesia: Tricking your brain into experiencing smell as temperature in virtual reality.

From C. Lee, and it's an amazing story: How a humble Tennessee scientist became a worldwide hero amid coronavirus pandemic. this is fantastic: Hobbies to Hone While Hunkering Down, With Help From Public TV. This is incredible: Can you 3D print Damascus steel? Pretty much, yeah. This is a disaster: Police arrested wrong man based on facial recognition fail, ACLU says. A remarkable bit of research: Mt. Asamayama eruption in 1108 may have led to famine in Europe. This is happening in China, but it seems like a great idea everywhere: For Those Getting Married, a Searchable Domestic Violence Database. Oh, the humanity: The virus didn’t stop a Washington socialite from throwing a backyard soiree. Then the tests came back positive.

From Shimmering Geek, and it's incredible: The Miracle Sudoku.

From Wally, and it's an "inside baseball" look at what restaurants have to go through before they reopen during the Age of Covid: How a Restaurant Reopens, Here you go, LOTR nerds: Lord Of The Rings: 10 Movie References Only Fans Of The Books Understood. This is mime strong: Luggage Handling.

Thursday, July 02, 2020


I talked to Mom 90.3 yesterday, and she mentioned that she'd been unable to sleep the night before.

I said I generally slept well.

So, inevitably, I woke up this morning at 4:30 and couldn't go back to sleep. I stayed in bed for a while, then gave up, had breakfast, and started editing at 5:30.

I had to move my car this morning to another street, due to some maintenance work, and on the walk back I realized how much I enjoy the mornings here. It's going to be very hot for the next week--low nineties--but even then, it's always in the sixties first thing. It's cool.

In Austin, in summer, it's never cool. Even dawn is in the mid-seventies, often higher, and it's never better than a slow boil. There's no chance to recover from the heat of the previous day.

So it was a nice walk, and I'm writing this before I sit down and start editing again. I'm trying to get another few hours in before I start to feel sluggish and tired, because you know that's coming.

Oh, random golf note. Eli 18.11 shot a 37 for nine holes earlier this week. He'll be breaking par soon. When you hit a seven-iron 210 yards (a seven iron!), golf courses are short, and his consistency has really improved.

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Sleeping Bear Dunes

Gloria 5*.0 had a birthday on Tuesday.

Today, she took Eli 18.11 on a hiking trip. Sleeping Bear Dunes, specifically, which is one of those tiny Michigan beaches that is actually quite beautiful. She sent back some pictures.

This is the trail they hiked on:

And once they came out of the woods, here was the beach:

Like I said, really beautiful.

I asked them if they saw any mirages. Unfortunately, they did not.

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