Monday, November 19, 2018

Abstracting

I've mentioned in the past that I've developed a bit of anxiety at times, specifically around hockey (hey, big surprise there), and also mentioned a few of the strategies I've used to try to manage it effectively. In particular, I've noticed that my eyes get jittery and tend to move their focal point around very quickly when I'm feeling anxious, and being aware of that and concentrating on reducing eye movement has been surprisingly helpful.

Oh, and a note about talking about this in general. I know that most of you don't have any problems with anxiety, so this isn't really written for you, but if it ever bites you (and that's what it feels like, at least to me), maybe these things will be of some small help.

What I noticed last week is that I tend to think about too many things at once. That's not new, and I've mentioned it before, but what I realized last week is that many of things I'm thinking about are unresolvable. So I'm thinking about a bunch of things, and for most of them, there's absolutely nothing I can do. It might even be things in the past, feeling anxious about things that have already happened.

Well, that can't possibly work, can it? No. Not healthy.

The mind is a funny thing, though. It has a very complex balance, and sometimes, if you spin just a little out of step, that imbalance is accentuated the longer it lasts. There's no gyroscope.

I thought about all of this, as I tend to do, and I realized that I needed to abstract from specifics, particularly for things I can't to do anything about.

Here's what I've been trying. When I get this cascade of thoughts going in my head, too much to process effectively, I start labeling the individual thoughts at a higher level. I keep doing that, and incredibly granular, sometimes unhealthy thoughts become "HOCKEY" or "POLITICS" or "BUDGET." Just categories.

If I can take action, or if it's something to schedule, I do. Otherwise, I categorize it and try to let it go.

I know, that sounds kind of dumb. For some reason, though, it seems to work. It's very hard to feel anxious about a category. Almost impossible, really.

This is not something that is intuitive, and I don't even think I'm very good at doing it yet, but that's okay. Just abstracting even a few of those thoughts successfully feels really, really good. Comforting, somehow.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Friday Links!

The links are very, very strong this week.

Leading off, and this is a stunning read, it's Ultrarunner Courtney Dauwalter Takes On The World's Most Sadistic Endurance Race. On a side note: I covered 155 miles in 77 hours once on an expedition run when I was 21. I will not be doing it again.

Eli 17.2 was blown away (for the creativity as much as the skill): The Winning Routine at the World Championships of Magic Might Fry Your Brain Like an Egg.

This is a fantastic read: How Harley-Davidson's All-In Bet on Its Past Crippled Its Future.

Bask in the utter quality of C. Lee links:
Download Famous Art in High Resolution
This Stuff Is Cheaper If You Buy It Under Another Name
Under poaching pressure, elephants are evolving to lose their tusks

From DQ Guitar Advisor David Gloier, and it's terrific: Tenea, the lost ancient city built by Trojan prisoners, is found for the first time.

From Wally, and here's a wonky wargamer alert: Games Versus History: An Exploration of the Battle of Nagashino in War Games. This looks fascinating: 'Human brain' supercomputer with 1 million processors switched on for first time. This is fantastic: SO YOU WANNA BE A CHEF — BY BOURDAIN. Very, very clever: The Fictional Foods We Wish Were Real. This is an absolutely magnificent article about the business of hot sauce (hmm, seems self-evident): Saucy Business.

From Geoff Engelstein, and this is delightful: Here Is What Happens To Werewolves On The Moon, According To Geophysics.

Ken Piper sent in the first part of this last week, and here's part two: Dude, Where's My Money? Part Two: Divvying up the Loot.

From Tim Jones, and it's excellent: Martin Amis on Space Invaders: how games criticism was born.

From Steven Davis, and this is just fantastic: The Hoax Art Movement That Fooled the Art World Establishment (twenty years from now, there will be a similar article about string theory oh no I'm joking I swear).

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Quite A Riveting Sequence

While watching last week's Michigan State--Ohio State game, this happened:
--Michigan St. has fourth down at the Ohio St. 33. Michigan St. lines up to go for it, then calls timeout.
--They line up again. Michigan St. is in the same formation. Ohio St. calls timeout.
--They line up again. Michigan St. is in the same formation. Ohio St. calls ANOTHER timeout.
--They line up for a fourth time. Michigan St. tries to draw Ohio St. offsides, then calls timeout.
--Fans storm the field and murder the coaches. Okay, this didn't happen, but it should have.

FOUR CONSECUTIVE TIMEOUTS between plays.

Football coaches are such incredible control freaks that this probably seems entirely reasonable to them, but it's killing the entertainment value of the game (it's the first time I've seen four in a row, but I've seen three several times this season).

Dear Coaches,
Rules we need because of you:
--no consecutive timeouts. If a team calls a timeout, no timeouts by either team can be called until after the next play.
--no timeouts in the last ten seconds of the play clock. If you want to ice a kicker, tough. It's stupid and you're a bad person. If your players can't get lined up in the right formation, or can't snap the ball in time, then you're a bad coach and you need to work on that, not call timeouts.
--while we're at it, you're not getting three damned timeouts anymore. You get one, just like hockey. Use it any way you want. Live it up! Then let your players play the game and get over yourself.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Pictures!

It's been a while, it seems. Photos first, then captions.


Excuse me, sir. SIR!


Number nine, number nine, number nine. Now with fries.


The only man in history who has even been angry while on The Price Is Right.


Daily production quota for artisinally crafted energy bars: four.


Zen master.





Desktop Dynasties: Pro Football

Longtime DQ reader Shawn Wignall has taken the plunge and started his own game company--GoldenCrest Games.

That's big news, by itself, but bigger news is that their first game is now in Early Access on Steam. It's called Desktop Dynasties: Pro Football, and you can get it here: Desktop Dynasties on Steam.

I'm looking forward to trying it myself in a few hours. Shawn is a very talented guy, and I've consistently been impressed by his approach to development and his conviction to start his own company.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Costume Count (Day Two)

Sometimes, the descriptions ask more questions than they answer.

This year, before we go to the top ten, etc., a salute to the descriptions that made me want more, as well as some outlandish costumes that are entirely delightful. So here's to you, Canada Post Mailbox. Thanks for coming, Jay Cutler (this had to be Jay Cutler himself. No other answer makes any sense.). I like your style, Princess With A Battleaxe. And let's not forget Subtle Vampire.

They all pale in comparison, though, to the crowning description of the costume decade: "Rambo But Warm."

470 costumes total.

Top Ten:
Princess (24)
Ninja (16)
Unicorn (14)
Skeleton (13)
Cat (11)
Fairy (11)
Vampire (11)
Harry Potter (10)
Witch (10)
Cheerleader (8)

I will be very happy if, before I die, the number of little girls in Wonder Woman costumes (3), exceeds the number of Princesses (24). There's a long way to go.

Like I said, the reporters with the 100+ costume numbers were very low this year, although I did hear one phenomenal story that I'm hoping to get permission to use.

On the rise this year: Ninjas, and Unicorns.
On the decline: Minecraft characters, and Pirates.

I was going to post an entire data dump, but it's formatting strangely, so here's an extraction of the most creative/oddest costumes:
Canadian Tire Leaf Bag
Cheeseburger (okay, not that creative, but will we see a quesadilla next year? Hmm.)
Dogfish (this was a costume on a dog, and it made me burst out laughing)
Detroit Piston player (America's loneliest costume, besides Jay Cutler)
Spy vs Spy (always a classic)
Sumo Wrestler With a Cowboy Hat
Ted 2 (not the original Ted, mind you, which spawns a hundred questions)
Weatherman blowing in the wind

Thanks to everyone who contributed. Even with a smaller number of costumes this year, it was still fun, as always.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Costume Count (day one)

This is an unusual map, since I put Denmark over much of the southwestern United States. That's because Odense, Denmark sent in a costume count and the southwestern U.S. didn't. Take that, Arizona and Southern California!*
*and maybe others. Not exactly sure what's out there. Sand, red dirt, cactus, etc.

Anyway, here's the map of respondents:























We were definitely light this year on the count. I'm thinking it was around 500 (still tabulating). We still had a strong number of respondents, but only one person reported 100+ costumes (we normally get at least three of those, if not more), and there were quite a few sub-20 submissions.

In Grand Rapids, the weather was perfect, and we had 52 trick-or-treaters in total.

I noticed something different this year, too. For the first time, we didn't have five of any costume. Four ninjas, three cheerleaders, and after that, it was all ones and twos.

I like that. Lots of different ideas.

Friday, November 09, 2018

Friday Links!

There are a bunch of very, very strong links this week.

Leading off this week, from Brian Witte, and this is a beautiful and poignant piece of writing: My Grandfather Thought He Solved a Cosmic Mystery.

It's been a stressful week, for many reasons, and I think we could all use more of this: Soothing photos of donkeys who haul lambs in pouches.

Also in the soothing (and riveting) category is a link from Chris Meadowcraft: Woman makes set of bamboo furniture with hand tools.

From Ken Piper, and this is an excellent breakdown of development costs and Steam, and how it's even more difficult than it appears to make money: Dude, Where's My Money? Part One: The Science of Steam.

From Wally, and this is just the coolest thing ever: This Artist Can Draw You As If You're A Character In A Disney Pixar Movie. This is mesmerizing: Steampunk Computer build thread. This is a wonderful story: A Store Had to Move Thousands of Books. So a Human Chain Was Formed.

From C. Lee, and this is terrific: Bottoms Up -- How Japanese Whiskey Conquered The World. This is a stunning story: Mystery Math Whiz and Novelist Advance Permutation Problem. This is both clever and thoughtful: Our fridges, ourselves. This is a very good read: On a trip to the National Gallery, looking for art that doesn’t imitate life.

It genuinely stuns me how many people still do this: Stop! Hitting! Your! Kids!.

Thursday, November 08, 2018

The Unknown Nemesis

[Sorry, I was going to do costume count today, but it's going to be on Monday now.]

I found out today that I have a nemesis at the YMCA.

I've seen this guy once before. He's about 6'4", 240+, big guy. Balding. Big tattoo on the left bicep. He always uses the elliptical machines in the row in front of where I ride the stationary bike.

Now, I will freely admit that he doesn't fit into the traditional mold of a nemesis. He's not trying to kill me, or kidnap me, or take me to his secret lair.

He does, however, clear his throat. Kind of a throat clearing half cough.

Every five seconds. Into perpetuity.

It's the sound of a desperate man's last attempt to reach that handhold on the ledge before he's swept off the mountain.

Oh, and yes, it's loud. So, so loud.

Today, I was working out, not paying attention to much of anything, and suddenly, there it is. I look up and he's right in front of me. Like a true nemesis, appearing out of nowhere.

I've still got fifteen minutes to ride, too, to hit my distance goal (a really shitty goal compared to ten years ago, but it's still a goal). But if I listen to this guy channel Boris Becker and a tuberculosis patient, I may lose my mind, and what good will goals do me then?

I consider all this, and then I do the only logical thing possible: I crank up the resistance on the bike, so high that I may be approaching the speed of a rocket sled. And I hit 100 RPMs at that resistance, because I'm going to get to my goal, but I'm going to do it before I lose my mind.

I'm really starting to sweat after about a minute, because this has gone from a leisurely, book-reading ride to political revolution intensity, and I will not be denied my freedom.

I start to shout "Viva la revolution!" at my nemesis, but all I can really see is his ass. This is how some revolutions end, probably, but not this one. I ride and ride and ride and look down at the distance readout.

And suddenly, I'm free.

When the Snow Comes, It's a Relief

I swear there are thirty-seven leaf blowers operating at full power within hearing distance right now. Maybe more.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

All-Caps

I went to the dentist this morning for a checkup and to get my teeth cleaned.

"OH, HI! HOW ARE YOU?" said the receptionist.

"I'm fine, thanks," I said.

"I'LL TELL EVA YOU'RE HERE," she said.

I sat down in the waiting area. It's small.

"EVERYONE IS WALKING IN WEARING THEIR WINTER COATS TODAY."

I felt like I was standing at midfield while a marching band was playing the halftime show around me.

Evil Me very much wanted to start shouting back, to see if I could get her to amp it up just a little bit more. I didn't, though. I just smiled while her speaking volume sandblasted my face.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Election Day (a political post)

Please go vote and stop this shit. Thank you.

Site Meter