My body continues to decompose. Something is floating around in my left knee, and it occasionally makes its presence known with a jolt. Legs hurt the day after. Feet hurt almost immediately.
Still, though, Eli 14.9 can't quite beat me.
He should. His power is so extreme now that I hit a ton of shots at my shoulders. His serve is ridiculous. Plus, I have to hit three winners to win one point, because he'll hunt everything down.
If I change spins enough times, though, and depth, and trajectory, I can get him to make a mistake often enough that I can squeak by.
I think I lose the throne by the end of summer, but until then, I'm living large.
We were walking out of the courts this weekend (I'd played pretty well, for once), and I saw half a pencil on the ground.
I picked it up.
"Here, take this," I said, handing it to Eli.
"Okay," he said. "I know something's up here. What's this for?"
"If I hit too many winners, just put this in your mouth and bite down so you don't swallow your tongue," I said.
"You'd have to hit one first," he said.
We played at a local high school during a gigantic percussion contest. The entire parking lot was packed with trailers and buses, and there were about a thousand kids, all wearing black (apparently, you wear black to percussion contests). So we were serenaded with snare drum solos and the lovely xylophone, which was strangely peaceful and soothing.
One of my best friends told me earlier this week that his daughter (18, ultra-high achiever, freshman in college in some kind of honors program) was still having post-concussion symptoms two months after an idiot on a snowboard hit her from behind on a snow slope during spring break.
I know I talked about this when Eli had his concussion four years ago, but it's worth repeating, because if you or someone you know has a concussion, there are a few incredibly important procedures that need to be followed.
My friend's daughter did none of these things, because she went to an emergency clinic right next to the slopes, and the information they gave her was not very helpful. So she went right back into high-volume studying, etc., and her recovery was delayed by months. She still hasn't recovered.
First off, and this is the most important, by far: for the first 48-72 hours, your brain needs complete rest. Turn off your phone. No videogames. No reading. No music. Have your living area as dark as possible. If you have to watch something, watch Noggin (the preschool children's network) at half brightness and half volume.
Does that sound excessive? It's not. Your brain is trying to heal itself, and you need to remove every bit of stimulus you can.
After that first critical period, the key thing to remember is that you don't reintroduce anything all at once. Once you resume an activity, you resume it for a much, much lower period of time. If that goes okay, you can very gradually increase the time each day.
It's the same for physical activity. You walk, then you walk faster, then you lightly jog, but you don't do more than one particular step on a single day. If you have any symptoms, you don't go back down the ladder by one day--you go back to the very beginning.
That's a real key. No matter the activity, if you're gradually stepping it up and you start having symptoms (headaches, sensitivity to light or noise, trouble focusing, any spatial issues), you immediately go back down to zero activity until you're symptom-free, then you start back at day one.
Don't screw around with this. If the post-concussion recovery isn't managed correctly, you open yourself up to symptoms continuing for months or even years.
The other important thing--especially for kids, since this is fairly readily available--is to do some baseline testing that establishes the normal level of brain functioning/mental ability. Something like ImPACT testing, or something similar.
When you have a baseline, it's easy to take the test post-concussion and see when normal mention function has resumed--or, if it hasn't, what areas are still deficient. Particularly for kids on team sports that involve checking/tackling, etc., it helps you understand when it's safe for them to resume practice.
It should be an indication of how much we've been using Oculus Rift that it's taken me weeks to write this.
That's not a terminal disapproval or anything; time and life and what have gotten into the way. But I both find Oculus Rift extremely compelling and not worth bothering with very often at the same time.
Eli 14.9 is the same way, although he has finals this week and studying is mostly what he's doing now. Well, except for goofing around on a track last Friday and running an 11.6 100 meters (with a truly terrible start, too).
Truly, I don't have one substantial complaint about OR. The retail package is totally slick. The installation (for me) was terrible, but no one else seems to have had that experience. The games themselves have been quite impressive. In a few cases (Apollo 11 VR, in particular), I've been truly awed.
Still, though, I'm not using it much.
For Eli, the awe experience was with The Climb, and he played it for several nights in a row. Then he, too, just fell off and kind of forgot about it all.
So it's puzzling, really. I find nothing factual to complain about, but I'm still not compelled, even though I feel like I should be.
I'll keep you updated as I try out new programs over the next few months. Maybe I just need one in particular to really grab me.
Ross Tucker was the guest host on the Dan Patrick Show today, and there was a discussion about youth football. It was focused on concussions, but Ross (who was a journeyman guard in the NFL) asked the Danettes if any of them had regretted not playing organized football.
I did play organized football--once--and there's a story. I've probably told you this before, but after nearly fifteen years, who can even remember?
I was a huge football fan growing up. HUGE. I wanted to play football so bad. In our extremely small town, though, there was no youth football until sixth grade, and that was just a few practices and one game.
No matter. I couldn't wait for sixth grade.
For some reason (I think it was a tight end on the Packers, maybe), I wanted to be a tight end. This was good because every single other kid wanted to be a running back, a wide receiver, or quarterback. So I got my pick of position.
That's good. Other things, though, weren't so good.
For one, I was skinny. Fast, but really, really skinny. So skinny that when I put on my helmet and pads for the first time, it felt like they weighed more than I did.
And hot! You cannot imagine how hot it is in Corpus Christ, Texas, in September, and how humid. Wearing a football helmet and pads made it feel like my body temperature was four thousand degrees.
I could have gotten past all this, though. After all, it was football.
On the first day of practice, the first drill we did was the Nutcracker. That's a drill where two kids face each other about five yards away, with the rest of the team lined up close on each side.
The objective of the drill? Run into that other kid at top speed and destroy him. Seriously, if you knocked the other kid out the coaches would laugh and pat you on the back.
Good hit, boy. Maybe you've got a future.
So I faced off in the Nutcracker against Mike Hall, who weighed twice what I weighed and was probably five times as strong. I was faster than he was, but when you're in such a small area, speed means nothing. Plus, the express purpose of the drill is to NOT avoid the other player.
I think I might have juked when I ran toward him. Hell, I must have done something. But all I remember is him hitting me in the chest with his helmet at approximately two hundred miles an hour and my entire body disintegrating.
I didn't black out or anything. But there was the kind of pain that comes from an explosive hit. It consumes your body, for at least a few seconds. Your brain is paralyzed.
I'd never been hit like that before. And I knew, immediately, that I never wanted to get hit like that again.
I played through the rest of the practices, and played in the game (where we threw exactly zero passes, so all I did was run block on every play).
It wasn't much fun, really.
After that game, I hung up my helmet for good. Canton never called.
Fighting Eleven College Football #1: Okay, This Would Work
I wrote a couple of weeks ago about an idea I had for a college football game.
The basic premise: play an entire season in 15 minutes. Recruiting mini-game, plus individual games resolving at the quarter level instead of the play level. Individual games would play in less than 90 seconds.
However, I had a problem, and it was a big one: individual games were hot garbage. Resolving a game at the quarter level just doesn't work.
If there's a points card that each player bids on, it "works" in the sense that a final score results after four rounds, but it has nothing to do with football. Everything at the quarter level, no matter the rules, felt nothing like football.
Well, that won't work, obviously.
Resolving a single game in less than 90 seconds only works if there's a football feel. Without that, it's just a random card game with images of football on top. Those images could be Vikings or giraffes or whatever--there's no actual connection to anything.
So I thought about that, and thought about it some more, and then got pissed off at myself because I couldn't solve this little problem that was much bigger than it originally seemed.
Saturday, I sat in a car in a parking lot for three hours. It was a nice day outside, not hot, and I needed to pick up Eli 14.9 from a school event at a certain time, so I just went ridiculously early and stared at my design notebook for a long, long time.
Then, suddenly, I realized what was wrong.
Resolving by quarter doesn't resemble football because it's not football. Quarters are just a way to organize time.
The next level up from resolution at the play level isn't resolution by quarter--it's resolution by drive. The drive is a fundamental part of football.
Once I realized that, ideas started coming very quickly. It only took about forty-five minutes to sketch out a rough design for the in-game mechanics.
Instead of trying to summarize it and inevitably skipping some stuff, you can just look at the whole thing here (click for the full-sized image):
This actually feels like football, and using the "players" you recruit in the game gives a direct connection to the value of the recruiting process. You'll develop a much more personal relationship with your players.
There is a ton of work left to do on the design, but I think at the conceptual level this makes complete sense. So I think this is the correct approach, and I think it will be much, much simpler to get a prototype running than it was with Gridiron Solitaire.
If you have ideas, send them. I didn't involve you guys in Gridiron because I hadn't done a game before--didn't even know how to program--and I was incredibly self-conscious about saying "Hey, I'm making a game!" until I had an actual game to show. This time, though, I'm not concerned about any of that, and the game will be much better if I incorporate your ideas as development goes along.
From C. Lee, and this guy is a complete badass: Listen up: James West forever changed the way we hear the world. Also, and I'm going to let him describe this: this YouTube channel interviews Japanese creators from a number of fields and has them give a tour of the places that inspired their work. Here's Swery65, creator of Deadly Premonition: Swery65. Also, Kenji Kawai, who scored Ghost in the Shell: Kenji Kawai.
I shut down my system last night when I heard fierce rumblings in the distance.
This morning, I turned it on and saw this in a red box on the center of my screen:
SECURE BOOT VIOLATION
Invalid signature detected. Check Secure Boot Policy in Setup.
Every Google result I see on this indicates that Windows Update screws something up and then this message appears out of nowhere. Also, that disabling secure boot in the BIOS might fix it, which I'll try as soon as the photographer is done taking pictures of our house.
In the meantime, I'm working on the Surface on a ping pong table in the garage, with two cats in their carriers beside me, worrying that they must be going to the vet because that's the only reason they get put in their carriers.
Yesterday, I was in the grocery store and heard a man in his sixties talking to (probably) his mother, who was in her eighties. I didn't hear the entire phrase, but what I caught was "...a monstrosity of women."
Immediately I wondered: is this an actual thing? Is it similar to a murder of crows or a cast of falcons? A parliament of owls, perhaps?
What would the equivalent phrase be on the male side, anyway? A bro of men?