Friday, August 18, 2017

Friday Links!

From Wally, and this is a fascinating story: Cleaving to the Medieval, Journeymen Ply Their Trades in Europe. This is a crazy bit of history: How Ice Cream Helped America at War. This is a terrific read: The Bloody San Antonio Origins of Chili Con Carne. This is an incredibly thoughtful article: Caitlin Is Not Groot: Finding Proper Communication Adaptations in Science Fiction and Fantasy. Here's some fairly obscure WWII history: Mystery of the Ghost Blimp. This seems pretty accurate: How To Make A Blockbuster Movie Trailer.

From C. Lee, and this is so, so clever: If Jane Austen Characters Used Dating Apps. This is tremendously thought-provoking: There is no such thing as western civilisation. This is both whimsical and a bit wonderful: Yokohama government trash-helper app gives poignant philosophical advice to depressed citizens.

From Steven Davis, and yeah, this is embarrassing: USPS Printed the Wrong Statue of Liberty on 4 Billion Stamps—and the Artist Sued.

From Ken Piper, and this is amazing: Video games could soon replace pills in treating some cognitive diseases.

From Griffen Cheng, and this is utterly fascinating: Military kit through the ages: from the Battle of Hastings to Helmand.

From Simon Jones, and this is both interesting and a bit amusing: The Guy Who Invented Those Annoying Password Rules Now Regrets Wasting Your Time.

From Geoff Engelstein, and seriously, what a badass: A Look Back ... Julia Child: Life Before French Cuisine.

Thursday, August 17, 2017


George is getting better.

His blood sugar levels are going down, and he seems to enjoy the process of the shots, because Gloria gives him treats and pets him for a few minutes before and after.


George also likes to hide inside things, and he loves paper more than anything:

Here's what you do at goalie camp to get gear dry, and some of you have seen this kind of image more than once:

Eli 16.0s coach sometimes has him skate with a weighted tire (so that you move with your core instead of reaching), but Eli does it now on his own, and uses it in drills for recovering after a shot. Being really good at something means you're willing to do all kinds of things that other kids won't do.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017


There are a few cleanup stories from goalie camp that I haven't gotten around.

I had to do laundry twice in five days, because when there are two ice sessions and two dry land workouts in a day, the number of clothes Eli 16.0 goes through is just unbelievable.

The hotel (which is our absolute favorite) had laundry facilities, but those facilities consisted of one washer and one dryer. For several hundred people.

Tuesday night, I was able to finally get Eli's clothes washed, but there was going to be over an hour wait for the dryer, so I just grabbed everything and headed back upstairs.

"No dryer," I said.

"How are the clothes going to get dry?" Eli asked.

I looked at him. And smiled. And waited.

"Oh, no," he said. "Not--not--the Lasko Vortex!"

"V 3," I said. "And I'm totally impressed that you remembered the name."

"Remember? How could I forget?" he said.

The angle on the picture is misleading, because it makes it almost look like the fan was on the ground. It was actually leaning against off the ground at about a thirty-five degree angle, which mean the airflow was blasting up and into the clothes that were hanging up in the closet. 

And it worked, too. Almost everything Eli wears on these trips is either goalie clothing or some form of Dry-Fit, and it all dried overnight with no problem.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Daily Deal on Steam

Today it's Football Manager 2017, which is on sale for $10 (a massive 80% off).
Football Manager 2017 Daily Deal

Mayhem Mayhem Mayhem

As we pulled up to the bowling alley last night, we saw a sign that proclaimed "MONDAY MAYHEM".

"There's very little actual mayhem," I said to Eli 16.0. There was only one other group on our side of the alley, and the other side was totally empty. 

"I can't even see the pins," I said, and Eli burst out laughing. It was pretty dark, really, and I'm old.

I kept hitting the pocket, but the ball was so light that pins were always left standing. "I have the world's only non-violent bowling ball," I said. 

We're not good when it comes to bowling. I used to be not terrible (140-170 range), but now I can barely break 100. Eli puts huge spin on his shots and has zero control. 

We were awful and had a great time. And it's only $10.95 for all you can bowl during Monday Mayhem, which is a phenomenal deal.

Monday, August 14, 2017

A Good Day For This

Someone needs to set this up, stat:
Neo-Nazis Slowly Realize This Small Town Totally Punked Them.

A Type of Chart

"We have a television RED ALERT," I shouted. I had just turned on the IAAF World Track and Field Championships. Eli was in the other room.

He walked in quickly. "What happened?"

"There's a runner named 'Butt Chart' in the five thousand," I said.

"I don't believe it," he said.

"Believe it. His last name is 'Butt Chart'.

Eli saw the runner's singlet with his name on front: "Butchart".

"Oh no!" he said, laughing.

"The announcer pronounces it differently, but every public school kid in England knows how to pronounce that name," I said.

"Every single one," Eli said.

It got worse from there, including the obligatory mention of "Rectum? Damn near killed him!"

Friday, August 11, 2017

Friday Links!

From Paul Adams, and this is excellent: Lars Anderson Discovers Japan.

From Wally, and this is amazing: Long Live Gopher: The Techies Keeping the Text-Driven Internet Alive. Also, and this is quite funny, it's Tolkien’s Map and The Messed Up Mountains of Middle-earth. This is a fantastic read: How a board game company defined video game ads for 20 years. This is very cool: Sir Peter Jackson’s studio reveals augmented reality demo.

From Griffin Cheng, and this is fascinating (and long): SIR JOSEPH BAZALGETTE and LONDON’S INTERCEPTING SEWER SYSTEM. Also, and this is both amazing and somehow terrifying, it's Unbelievable Speed Of Chinese Models Stuns Photographers Around The World. This sounds like a movie: British caterpillars are being killed by a rare 'zombie' virus. This is both bizarre and very cool: The Unique Marvels Of Croatia’s Underwater Park.

From C. Lee, and this is a terrific read: The Loyal Engineers Steering NASA’s Voyager Probes Across the Universe. This is stunning: South Korea spy agency admits trying to rig 2012 presidential election. This is surprisingly poignant and personal: Jon Ronson on bespoke p***: ‘Nothing is too weird. We consider all requests’. This is absolutely incredible: The best way to fix broken bones might be with glass. This is a fascinating story about automation and the labor market: Rise of the machines.

From Steven Davis, and this is amazing: How to Build Amazing Balancing Bridge out of Coins Without Glue.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

To the Moon--Rakuen Steam Bundle

Here's a fine bundle for a ridiculously low price ($9):
Rakuen + To the Moon.

[UPDATE: Sorry, it was showing up at $4.49 for me because I already own Rakuen. The price if you don't already own either game is $9. Still a great price!]


I hit someone today. With my car.

I wake up at 7. Can't sleep. I've been doing that a lot lately.

Instead of staying in bed, I decide to go work out. Get ahead of the curve.

There's a street in Grand Rapids called "Beltline". It's sort of a pseudo-highway, because it's divided (with a wide, grassy median) and has a 55 MPH speed limit, but there are stoplights every mile or so.

To get to the YMCA, I cross Beltline.

I go down a slight hill (at 30-35 MPH), the light turns green, and three cars go across the intersection. I'm still a few seconds away, but I know how long this light lasts, and I'm going to make it through with no problem.

I'm almost into the intersection, the light is still green, and something flashes into my vision from the left.

It's a cyclist, riding on the shoulder, and he is totally oblivious to the red light he's riding through.

All this happens in the next split second.

I realize I'm going to hit him.
I realize I might kill him.
I lock up the brakes.
I turn the wheel hard right, hoping to avoid t-boning him.
The car starts to slide.
We collide.
I feel the impact of his bike and body against the car.

I leap out of the car and run to where he's on the road, a few feet from my car. "Totally my fault," he says, as I help him get up. "You had the light."

He looks to be in his mid 40s, moderately fit, maybe 5'8" or a little shorter. Wearing a blue helmet. Solid.

"Are you okay?" I ask.

"Let's move off the road," he says, and I pull the car onto an angled, wide curb.

"I think I'm okay," he says, and he lifts up his left elbow to show a red patch--no lost skin, but a friction burn. "I think that's all."

"I can't believe you bounced off my car and all you have is a friction burn," I say.

"I have a history of bouncing off things," he says.

"How is your bike?" I ask. "Is it still rideable?"

"I think so," he says. He has to open up his rear brakes just a bit because the wheel was out of true, but everything else checks out.

I have to ask.

"What happened? Did you not see the light?"

"I saw it," he says. "I just spaced." He shakes my hand. "At least you weren't going too fast," he says. "Thank you for stopping."

"Why don't you start riding and I'll give you a minute or so?" I ask. "I'll pull up beside you, and if your bike isn't okay or you feel shaky, I can give you a ride."

"Thanks," he says. He mounts his bike and rides off.

About two minutes later, I drive up beside him and roll down the window. He waves. "I'm good," he says.

I wave and drive on.


Wednesday, August 09, 2017

What the

Who the hell is Jojo Siwa and why is Nickelodeon advertising her upcoming special 1,000 times an hour?

North Korea

This is not a political post. If it had a tag, the tag would "watch the hell out". This is also not a normal subject in this space, and we'll return to normal tomorrow.

Today, though, let's talk about this: if you have money in the market right now, watch out.

Why? Because things with North Korea are getting very strange very quickly.

A quick review.

Six months ago, the North Koreans were considered buffoons. They were The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight, and to some degree, that's what they've always been.

Suddenly, in six months, they've become scientific geniuses, even allegedly able now to put a miniaturized nuclear device inside a missile that could theoretically strike a good portion of the world.

Does that make any sense? No. Is it even possible? Probably not.

However, in this era, what the United States will do before they launch a military strike is go through a period of extreme puffery to make the target seem suitably dangerous.

That's what happened before the Iraq war.  That appears to be what's happening here.

I'm not talking about a military invasion with lots of troops. A military strike or intervention would almost certainly be an air campaign. It would not be for the purpose of destroying the nuclear arsenal, because that is most likely deep, deep underground in bunkers that cannot be reached by weapons.

It would, instead, be to destroy North Korean military infrastructure and capability.

North Korea is of tremendous geographical importance to China, because it provides them a sizable border from South Korea. It's a critical territory.

And yet, China isn't saying anything.

Does that make any sense? No.

It would make sense, though, if China was using North Korea as a giant honey pot. So they would allow an attack on North Korea because it would then justify other actions that China wants to take.

That's concerning.

Even more concerning, the information coming out of the U.S. right now is contradictory at almost every turn. Presidential advisors said today that the president spoke "off the cuff" yesterday when he warned North Korea that they would be met with 'fire and fury'.

Really? Has anyone in recorded history every used the phrase 'fire and fury' off the cuff?

No, they have not.

The only conclusion that accounts for all these conflicting facts is this: the principal actors involved want military action to happen.

That would account for the inflammatory rhetoric from the U.S., the inflated threat assessments, and the curious silence from China.

And if that happens, no matter the outcome, it will rock the markets. Hard.

Please watch out.

[UPDATE: Here's a New York Times Article that again cites "intelligence experts" in regards to North Korea's current nuclear capability. Also, please note that I'm not saying North Korea has no nuclear devices. They clearly do. What's at issue is whether they have a delivery method for those devices that constitute a real danger, and how the U.S. has escalated the assessment of that threat in the last few months.]

Tomorrow: back to our usual silliness.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

The Rim Walkers

It's 7:58 a.m., on the last day of goalie camp.

We stay in a hotel attached to a mall, which is the most convenient thing on Earth when you don't get back until 7 p.m. each day. Just walk to dinner, then walk back to the room.

This is the fourth year we've stayed at the mall, plus we stayed there for two weeks during tryouts last year, so everyone at the hotel knows us, and we even have a friend in the mall.

This is why, at 7:58 a.m. on a Friday morning, we were standing outside the mall, waiting to go see our friend before we left.

The mall doors were still closed, and about ten mall walkers were milling around. All of them were in their seventies, at least, and they were impatient.

"Joe used to open the doors right on time," said one of them.

"This new guy has a lot to learn," another one said.

At exactly 8 a.m., when the doors still weren't open, they began moving toward the glass doors, peering inside.

By 8:05 a.m., it was nearly a riot. A sedate riot.

Finally, the security guard opened the doors.

"I thought you'd forgotten about us!" said the first walker to pass him. He sighed.

We took deep breaths and entered the mall walker vortex.

Entering a mall during walking time is like accidentally driving onto a NASCAR track after you take a wrong turn coming home from the grocery store. There are specific rules, and if you don't follow them, you'll get run over.

Rule #1: Stay to the outside.
Everyone hugs the very outside, as close to the stores as possible. "Rim walkers," Eli 16.0 said, and it fits.

Rule #2: Walk in a counter-clockwise direction.
We were walking toward the store our friend runs, just sort of walking in the middle, and The Guy Who Has To Be In Charge walked past us. "Walking against the current, guys," he said.

"We're salmon," I said under my breath, and Eli laughed.

The tone of this post makes it sound like the old people weren't nice, and that's not true at all. Most of them were extremely nice, and even better, they were happy to be at the mall, walking. They waved at their friends as they passed by, and they all had at least one other person to walk with.

There were two women walking together, and they were both using walkers, both with big smiles on their faces, talking up a storm as they slowly moved along.

That was very, very nice.

Monday, August 07, 2017

A Good Hockey Picture

Eli 16.0 had a strong week at camp--easily the most fit and athletic off the ice, one of the best on the ice.

I understood last week, to a greater degree than I ever have before, that he is truly an elite athlete compared to other goalies his age (and even older). What's going to be key for him is to translate all that athleticism, every bit of it, onto the ice. He doesn't do that all the time, and he needs to if he's going to play juniors and beyond.

"Still in the pool," I said on the way home last Friday, and he laughed. I've been saying this every year after goalie camp since he was ten--there's a pool of players that will get opportunities to play in juniors and college, and he's still in the pool.

That pool is shrinking every year, and if he can just hang on for another year or two, very good things will happen.

There's one other thing he has to do, and we also talked about this on the way home. "You know how guys always say 'I was right there, if only I'd had the right situation?' "

"Everybody says that," Eli said.

"What do the guys who make it say instead?" I asked.

"Every situation is the right situation," he said. "Even when it's not, they find a way past it."

That's true. You wouldn't believe what high-level junior hockey is like. It's an absolute maze, and many kids wind up playing for two or three teams, across multiple leagues, in the same season. It's asking a lot of seventeen and eighteen-year-olds, to be so resilient. If you don't have an overarching sense of purpose and belief in yourself, it's hard to come out the other side.

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