Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Ping Table Pong Tennis

By any definition, it's on.

For some reason, we started playing ping pong in the last week. Wait, I know why--Gloria was in Shreveport, and Eli 16.10s girlfriend was in Detroit. So we had extra time on our hands to watch Major League Fishing, the World Series of Poker, the World Cup, play tennis--and play ping pong.

It got intense.

Eli won our last match, two games to one, but the points were long and intense, and he's suddenly hitting a topspin forehand. "Hey, if you find that ping pong trophy, can I have it?" he asked.

That's the family ping pong trophy, which I got for $2 way back.

"I'd like to have that," he said. "It took a long time." He laughed.

"I'll look," I said. "I think it's in the basement. I'll look for it later."

"Later?" he asked.

"Not right now," I said. "I've got things to do."

"Like what?" he asked.

"Watch ping pong videos," I said.

"I KNEW IT!" he said. "You can't do that. That's what I was going to do!"

After an hour of videos, we're clearly not playing ping pong anymore. It's table tennis now. He wants lessons. It's a thing.

We went to Outback later, and I was in the bathroom, thinking about table tennis, and I had a splash of insight (I say "splash" because I was at the urinal, and it seems appropriate).

All right, to understand what I realized, you need to go here and watch the guy murdering the topspin forehand. You'll see everything you need in ten seconds.

I came back and sat down. "I just had an insight," I said, and he started laughing. "If you learn how to hit a real topspin forehand, you need to learn how to do it with your left hand, too."

"Why?" he asked.

"Well, mimic the motion with your left hand," I said. "Really fast."

He started doing it. "I really don't--OH MY GOD IT'S A GLOVE SAVE."

"That's right," I said, with a grin so wide it must have reached outside my face. "You learn how to hit a topspin forehand left-handed, and you're improving your glove save."

"How do you DO that?" he asked.

"I just went to pee and my mind wandered," I said.

Draft Day Sports: Pro Golf

Wolverine Studios (Gary Gorski) has released the next iteration in its Total Pro Golf series, with beautiful course graphics and improved putting strategy.

Also, and this is a big plus, there's a demo if you're interested and want to see how the game plays. Here's a link and it's definitely worth checking out if you enjoy sports games.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

This Is A Good Dog

Eli 16.10s girlfriend has a puppy. An hour before this picture was taken, he was sitting next to some cardboard boxes filled with paper:

P.S. Maybe Don't Leave So Much Paper Near The Puppy

Also, because we can all really use it today, here's an unscheduled July appearance by Evan The Inappropriate Elf:

Monday, July 16, 2018

Duluth (pictures)

I'm sorry, I have a very nice table tennis post to share with you tomorrow, but I just can't get funny today. It is inconceivable what is happening to my country.

So, please enjoy a few pictures of Duluth, and I still owe you the story.

Closed. What a shame, huh?

I walked here. Also got lost here. Very, very lost.

Seriously, Tommy, this is the last time I'm going to warn you!

Friday, July 13, 2018

Friday Links!

A bit light this week (a mid-summer tradition), but leading off, one of my favorite subjects: The Board Game at the Heart of Viking Culture.

A slew of links from C. Lee this week. First, and Eli 16.10 has done training in this area, it's Why athletes need a 'quiet eye'. This is an interesting read: Why we don't read, revisited. Not surprising: Your vocal quirks could be costing you jobs. Interesting: “Find your passion” is bad advice, say Yale and Stanford psychologists (click on this link just for the matador costume alone).

From Wally, and this is complicated: Music This singer is part hologram, part avatar, and might be the pop star of the future. This is an absolutely phenomenal read (about fast food): He Could’ve Been a Colonel. From the British point of view: A Retrospective of the Somme 1916.

From Brian Brown, and it's terrific: The Story Behind How Star Trek Created Klingon And Vulcan Is Great.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Other Than That, Mrs. Lincoln, How Was The Play?

Eli 16.10 flew with Gloria to Austin on Monday.

He had an equipment bag, a leg pad bag, and a stick bag. American lost two of them.

American put the wrong luggage tag on one of the bags, and E/G didn't notice. That went to a guy in Dallas.

He was going to be on the ice almost every day in Austin. Nope.

I flew home on Wednesday (long story--George diabetes care), and last night I got this text from Gloria:
American says they've found one bag and it will be delivered to the address provided. 

I responded:
Which they will interpret to be somewhere in Cambodia. 

His return flight was today, and this morning, the pads showed up at the hotel. No ice time, but at least we don't have to go buy new pads.

Then, his flight to Detroit was cancelled because there was a tornado in Dallas. They couldn't get him on another flight, so he's stuck in Austin until Friday morning and will finally get back to Grand Rapids at about 2 p.m.

I flew in two days earlier (again, George care), and when I came back yesterday, I was stopped in security. I bought skate blades in Minnesota (only available at the Bauer store in Minneapolis) and had no problem bringing them home on the plane (although they did ask me about them).

I forgot to take them out of the backpack--mistake--and got stopped again by security screening.

I explained that they were in a retail package, unopened, and were unsharpened. Nope. The security guy said that there's an exception if they're attached to skates, but not if they're loose. Maybe they're afraid that random skate blade buyers will attach them to mop handles and turn them into killing machines.

Gloria was in the airport, wrangling over Eli's missing bags, so I exited security, gave her the blades (to put in Eli's checked goalie bag when he flew back), then had to go back through security.

Where I was flagged for a loaf of banana bread in my backpack.

I explained that the banana bread was unsharpened, and they waved me through.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

A Productive Working Environment

I was working in the bedroom the night before I flew to Austin.

Nothing on the bed except me, with a laptop in my lap. So relaxing.

Then, the door opened. Gloria came in. Others followed. Thirty seconds later, my serene work environment looked like this:

To summarize: both cats, fifty unneeded toiletry items, and a wife.

"This seems to be somewhat less productive than literally a minute ago," I said.

Of note: we've played so much tennis in the last few weeks that I no longer look like a thin polar bear, as you can see from my legs. Also of note: Eli 16.11 still can't beat me, but I'm holding on for dear life.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Cat Picture Tuesday!

Being in Austin means severely limited writing time, so please enjoy this excellent selection of cat pictures.

Gracie is still enjoying her new friend, with her paw shutting out as many distractions as possible.

George has lost quite a bit of weight because of his diabetes, which means he now looks like a normal cat. Two of his favorite hobbies are boxes and tissue paper:

They are both gigantic pains in the ass and very, very dear, often in the same minute.

Monday, July 09, 2018

The Journals of Staggeringly Terrible Design, Vol. 1

I'm in Austin for a few days, and our rental vehicle is a Nissan Pathfinder.

The climate control system is one of the most ineptly designed in history. Seriously, a square wheel would top this in the design category.


Let's say you want to change the temperature inside the cabin, one of the simplest functions you'll do frequently in a car. Let's go!

Red Area
It's a touchscreen, but not all items listed on the screen have touch-enabled. You'd think that changing the temperature would be as easy as touching the temperature listed on the screen, but no. Sorry, that's not touchscreen enabled. So you can turn the AC on and off, and turn dual mode on and off, and even change the strength of the fan, but you can't change the temperature.

Blue Area
How's this for a jumbled, crappy mess? Using that while driving should be no problem at all, right? Pro tip : you have to hit the "Climate" button to display the red area on the touchscreen. You can also use the Antikythera mechanism in the center to adjust some climate settings--but not the temperature.

Yellow Area
Hey, it's a third area with climate controls, confusingly similar to the audio control bank located just above. THIS is where you can adjust the temperature up and down. With a dial.

Holy hell. Climate controls include touchscreen, button, and dial controls, in three separate areas. Some duplicate function in more than one area, while others are only available in one area.

I always tend to notice bad design, but this is so incredibly bad that it warranted special attention.

What caused this? I'm guessing it was this objective: allow the driver to adjust the cabin temperature without taking his eyes off the road or hands off the wheel.

That's a fine objective, but the driver will be taking his eyes off the road to check the new temperature setting anyway (because a dial can't give you that feedback--you have to look at the touchscreen), and letting the driver press "+" and "-" simplifies this unholy mess into something reasonably coherent.

Friday, July 06, 2018

Friday Links!

Leading off this week, and it's incredible, it's Rosa Parks's Arrest Warrant.

From Frank Regan, and this is fantastic: Susan Rogers on Engineering Prince and Her Own Path in the Music Industry.

From Wally, and this is an interesting read: The First Meeting of the Inklings. This seriously may be the cutest thing I've ever seen: Cute dog not moving a muscle with 3 sleeping kittens! Oh man, these are terrifying: Would you eat these vintage summer recipes from the Sixties? Genius robbers: Canadian convenient store arrest gets Benny Hilled. This is astonishing, really: Disney Imagineering Has Created Autonomous Robot Stunt Doubles. A fascinating read: Henry VIII’s War Games.

From C. Lee, and it's Harlan Ellison's kinetic introduction to Strange Wine. Welcome to America: A baby was treated with a nap and a bottle of formula. His parents received an $18,000 bill. Blechh: Here's the real reason so many Americans get food poisoning: Nearly everyone in one USDA test failed to wash their hands properly, or even at all.

From Steven Kreuch (one half of the Official Brothers Of Dubious Quality), and this is utterly fascinating: Below the Surface: Everything from a Drained Canal in Amsterdam.

From Roger Robar, and this is a tremendous read: The soccer ball that survived the Challenger explosion.

From Steven Davis, and this is very interesting: Metacritic Has A (File-Drawer) Problem.

From Griffin Cheng, and I had no idea: The epic story of the map that gave America its name. Also, and this is excellent, it's ‘God Bless America’: 100 Years of an Immigrant’s Anthem.

From DQ Reader My Wife, and this is so incredibly clever: ‘No place to recharge my Kindle’: Letters imagine the front lines of America’s ‘second civil war’.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

A Plea For Sanity

Gloria took down the ice tray scoreboard.

Last night, she opened the freezer.

"Aggh, no ice!" she said.

"We really need to put the ice tray scoreboard back up," I said. "Without that, I have no incentive to empty the tray."

"Do you not have a conscience without a scoreboard?" she asked.

"I don't even have a conscience WITH a scoreboard," Eli 16.11 said.

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