Friday, December 07, 2018

Friday Links!

Leading off this week, a sad passing: The great Ricky Jay was the magician’s magician.

This is a fascinating read: The human and financial cost to summit Mount Everest is staggering. And so is this: An American Surfer Goes Rogue To Claim The Baltic Sea's "Last Wave". And one more (this is just riveting): The Watcher A family bought their dream house. But according to the creepy letters they started to get, they weren’t the only ones interested in it.

From C. Lee, and it's terrifying: Failure to share data results in surgeries using defective devices. This is quite interesting: See a Collection of Sickening Objects at Portland’s Outbreak Museum. These are absolutely amazing: 24 Amazing, Homemade Dungeons & Dragons Maps. Brilliant: Togolese innovators turn the world's junk into robots. A sad story of decay: The Twilight of the Taj. This is thought-provoking: What ads in the New Yorker magazine tell us about the American oligarchy.

From Wally, and somehow, this is mesmerizing: Christmas tree trimming. This is intriguing: New Metal-Air Transistor Replaces Semiconductors.

Cute alert: Photographer Captures Extremely Rare White Baby Reindeer While Hiking In Norway.

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Just Cause 4: Just Don't

Square Enix released a statement today. In part, it said this:
Due to the complexity of Just Cause 4’s vast open world and advanced physics systems we understand that a number of you are experiencing various technical issues.

Wait, let me fix that for you:
Due to us releasing an alpha we understand that every single one of you is experiencing technical issues. Plus, it just looks shitty, am I right?

There you go. Happy to help.

It's been a long time since a major developer has released a game that's in such terrible shape, both technically and visually. The game can't be using final textures, because if they were, it would barely be PS3-level graphics. The much-touted new physics system is absolute crap--things feel incredibly floaty and insubstantial. The physics in Just Cause 3 were fine, and there was no need to replace them. They had to have something to put on the marketing checklist, though, and this is what they got: disaster.

Like I said on Tuesday, I actually refunded the game after about 40 minutes. It was clearly an alpha, and it was clearly an effort by Square Enix to do something shitty and get away with it. No sale.

This is an absolutely beloved series, and right now, only 33% of the 1,500 reviews on Steam are positive (and I bet 100+ of the positive reviews are from shill accounts).

I'm not sure how they come back from this. It would take at least two months, at an absolute minimum, to make this game playable, and four to six months is a much more reasonable estimate. It's a huge embarrassment for Square Enix, and I wouldn't be surprised at all if people get fired over this.

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

For The Love of God, Don't Do It

I needed to Google "waitress names" today (for something I'm working on).

In Google Search results, that led me to this:
Get the meaning of the name Waitress. When naming your baby Waitress, it's important to consider the gender of the name itself.

Thoughts While Watching Rudolph

Yukon Cornelius was in the snow cave with the reindeer.

"Man, Yukon Cornelius is a large individual," I said.

"He's frickin' HUGE," Eli 17.4 said.

"Seriously, that is not normal," I said. "Wait, hold on." I paused the DVR with Yukon Cornelius standing right next to the reindeer. "I think we can figure this out."

Eli started laughing. "It seems like we need to," he said.

"We're treating Rudolph like the Zappruder film," I said. "Now, how tall is a reindeer? Googling." Eli laughed again. "Okay, they're from three to five feet tall, not including antlers. Standing next to Cornelius, and maybe subtracting a little for slope, that's seven feet, at least."

"Eight," Eli said.

"Between seven and eight feet tall," I said. "And surprisingly agile for his size. NBA ready."

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Be Warned: Just Cause 4

[Update: I actually refunded this, the first time I've ever asked for a refund on Steam.]

The PC version of Just Cause 4 appears to be a very poor port from the console versions and is janky to boot. I don't recommend it in this state.

Seems Headed In the Wrong Direction

In Arby's, I just heard a guy order a beef and cheddar with no bun, no sauce, and no cheddar. A meat pile.

So many questions.


[Just a note. Everything I'm writing now is time-shifted, for various reasons that will eventually be revealed. So this blizzard (to me) happened last week.]

A winter storm dumped about six inches of snow on us overnight.

When we first got here, that was magical. Now, it's logistical.

Get out and snowshoe for forty-five minutes. Nothing's plowed yet, so just walk through the neighborhood. Snowshoeing is very Zen, to me, and it's relaxing even as it's demanding.

Come back. Start all three cars to start windshields defrosting. Clear the snow off all of them. Almost fall half a dozen times, because you can't turn in showshoes without thinking first (I don't). Do some cursory shoveling, then surrender.

When the cars are clear, go run a few errands, then drop by the grocery store for essential, emergency supplies:
Dr. Pepper 10
Ginger beer
Shoestring potatoes

Of course, by the time I walk out of the grocery store, the snow's stopped. Show's over. Now it melts and everything will be slippery as hell until it's gone.

Still kinda magical, though.

Monday, December 03, 2018

Ryder, Secret Ryder

Eli 17.3 and I went to a golf simulator on Sunday. There's a nice one in Grand Rapids, and while it's not like playing outdoors, it can be fun in its own way. Plus, if you hit the ball within six feet of the hole, the simulator concedes the next putt. That's the kind of leniency I can get behind.

"All right, here's what's going on today," I said, as we warmed up on the virtual driving range. "Match play for five dollars. I'm going to beat you with only a driver, a 56 degree wedge, and a putter."

Eli burst out laughing. "I could use five dollars, anyway," he said. "Deal."

After four holes, he was three-up. He got a lesson a few weeks ago, revamped his swing a bit, and he is really, really good now.

We pay for an hour, so we never even make it through the front nine.

"All right," I said. "Three down, probably three holes to play. Three holes from glory. I'm walking out with a draw."

Eli just looked at me. "You've been watching, right?"

"Just getting the driver dialed in at all distances," I said. "Here it comes."

Eli teed up his ball, took a swing--and hit it forty yards into the rough. "Oh my god, you're in my head," he said, laughing.

"Feels good in there," I said, and he laughed harder.

In crunch time, I made a sidehill, eight-foot putt to win the hole.

"Two down," I said.

Won the next hole, too, easily.

"One down," I said.

"And we're out of time," Eli said, and he was right. The hour was up.

"All right, I see what's going on," I said. "You played those last two holes so poorly, and it took so long, that there's no time left."

"Strategy," he said. "Next level."

"You can slink away with your victory of shame," I said. "Go ahead, start slinking."

"Shame? Pure triumph," he said, raising his arms.

At this point, the attendant, who has been watching us and laughing (on one else was in the building at 10 a.m.), walked up and said, "You guys go ahead and play one more hole."

"What?" Eli started laughing.

"Well, that sounded like justice," I said.

It was a par three, and I was forty yards off the green after my tee shot. Eli hadn't hit a good one, either, so I still  had a chance.

"I'm calling it," I said. "From the rough, over the trees, to within six feet."

Eli burst out laughing, and the I hit the shot. "Oh, that looks--no, no--oh my god, you did it."

Four feet. "CONCEDED", said the screen.

Eli had an eight-foot putt for the tie, but it had a nasty break. "I'm making this," he said.

"Don't feel bad," I said. "You're going to salvage a tie with a two-putt."

He missed. Amateur side of the hole.

"Now people are rushing onto the green to celebrate my Ryder Cup victory," I said. "Teammates mobbing me, people crying. It feels good."

"What win?" he asked. "We tied."

"My team was up a point going into the last match," I said. "A tie was all I needed."

"Hey!" he said. "If you're so desperate for a win that you have to make something up, it's not a victory."

"Tell that to my trophy," I said.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Friday Links!

Well, out of nowhere, a huge week for links. Enjoy.

Leading off, a wonderful and intricate article: How Players Used Shotguns to Tear Open the Fabric of Reality in 'Spelunky'.

Jesus! 'You guys might think I'm crazy': Diary of US 'missionary' reveals last days in remote island.

From Steven Davis, and it's certainly something: 21 Classic Images Of Japanese Fart Battles From The 19th Century.

From Wally, and this is both alarming and fascinating: Rise of the Manipulation Platforms. This is very useful: NPR’s Book Concierge. This is absolutely terrifying, but with a twist: The godfather of fake news. This is a truly enjoyable read (also, I miss really good barbecue): On The Road With RL Reeves Jr: Blue Door Smokehouse In Lexington, Kentucky. Ah, memories: First encounter: COMPUTE! magazine and its glorious, tedious type-in code. This is very useful info (about fireproof safes): A lesson re-learned from disaster.

From C. Lee, and it's terrific: The Hobo Hieroglyphs: Their Secret Symbols, Explained. Amusing: Oxford’s Library Once Branded Its Sauciest Books With a Greek Letter. This is absolutely remarkable: Meet Zora, the Robot Caregiver. Ah, Japan: 'I hire a man to pretend to be my daughter’s dad - and she doesn't know'. Incredible: The Costs of the Confederacy. This is quite incredible: The first journey of an aircraft with an ion drive. And a story about the man who made the ion engines for Japan's Hayabusa probes: Hitoshi Kuninaka: Never Say No to a Challenge. This will leave you speechless: Children of North Korean Mothers Find More Hardship in the South.

From Geoff Engelstein, and this is just amazing: How One Murder Could Reshape Oklahoma.

From Steven Davis, and this is a terrific read: Peeling Back the Paint to Discover Bruegel’s Secrets.

Finally, closing up this week, remember that riveting story about the hamburger restaurant last week? Well, maybe not so much: Did a Rave Review Really Shut Down Portland Burger Bar Stanich’s? Maybe It Was the Owner’s Legal Troubles.

Thursday, November 29, 2018


Really, what the hell does this mean?

Here are two pictures of Ohio St. fans. This is clearly a look, but a look of what, I just can't figure, although I respect the helmet extension on the first guy. That's next-level when painting your face, wearing beads, having logo sunglasses that impede your vision, and wearing a jersey with buttons just isn't enough.

Lace-up beach towel around the shoulders. Also next level.

Lastly, this car was outside the McDonald's where I went on Thanksgiving morning for a quick breakfast. My fervent dream was that I would come out and someone would have driven it away, but sadly, that didn't happen.

Sir. Sir!

I'm Generally Very Polite

We had Chinese food for lunch last week.

"My fortune says 'You display the wonderful traits of charm and courtesy.' Well, that's half right," I said.

"Which half?" Eli 16. 3 asked.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018


We watched a dog show on Thanksgiving. Not sure which one, because if it's a dog show, that's where we stop distinguishing.

[side note: service dogs are awesome. Not making fun of them. I'm making fun of people, as usual.]

The dogs were being described in unfamiliar terms.

Lester Lee is not just a show dog. He's also a service dog, providing therapy for his injured owner. 

"Oh my god, that dog has a backstory," I said. "Credential burnishing."

Tommy can also skateboard. 

"Wait, did I just hear resume padding?" Eli 17.3 asked.

"I think he plays the piano, and may be taking French," I said.

It continued.

"Are these dogs trying to win a show or get into college?" I asked.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

The Nemesis System

Boy, If He Doesn't Miss The Kick After That

We were watching a college football game on Saturday. At the end of the game, a coach called two consecutive timeouts to ice the kicker. Eli 16.3 started laughing, because he knows I absolutely cannot stand when coaches do that.

"I think I've changed my mind," I said.

"About what?" Eli asked.

"Instead of outlawing timeouts to ice the kicker, I think it should be legal."

"You do?"

"Yes," I said. "And there should be two snipers stationed in the stadium press box. If a coach calls a timeout to ice a kicker, the timeout is granted, but--"

Eli burst out laughing.

"The referee would say 'Timeout, Purdue.' Then he would pause and say, 'Take the shot.' "

"Seems fair," Eli said. 

Monday, November 26, 2018

A Crowd Sourced Problem

Okay, here's the deal.

Eli 17.3 is in unbelievable shape. The last two games he's played, though, he said his legs were just dead when he hit the ice. No pop at all. This after a very specific warmup given to him by a national-level goalie stretching guru.

This has been a periodic problem for the last three years.

I don't think it's food related. He eats a solid meal 2-3 hours before a game, then takes GU chews a few minutes before he skates on.

What's strange, and it's making this very difficult to figure out, is that he doesn't feel like this for practice, and he's much less careful about what he drinks and when for practice.

What I'm having him do is collect data to try and narrow the problem down to a time slice instead of a 3-hour period. So every fifteen minutes, from 3 hours on in before a game or practice, he's going to just write down how his legs feel (1-10). With a time slice, I'm confident we'd know enough to fix it.

In the short term, we're focusing on possible hydration differences and adding some caffeinated chews for a small burst of energy.

It's ironic that what's holding him back is not his technique or his mental game, but just physically feeling good when he steps on the ice.

Thanks for any ideas you guys have about this. Very, very appreciated.

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