Zebra bites off part of Oklahoma man's nipple
1. Don't date zebras.
2. If you do date a zebra, always have a safety word.
Birds on a Wire on a Couch
We're all sitting on the couch, watching the Red Wings-Lightning playoff game. Gloria has been tapping on her phone for quite a while.
"Are you writing that grant proposal on the phone?" I asked.
"Mom, you are a careful tapper," Eli 13.8 said.
"I'm fast on a regular keyboard," Gloria said. "I don't like using my thumbs on this phone keyboard because my thumbs are big."
"I had no idea you had big man hands," I said, laughing. "Burly." She laughs. We all sit quietly for a few seconds. "I guess the hairy knuckles should have tipped me off."
Eli rolls off the coach and lands on the floor, laughing.
"Hey, I don't have hairy knuckles!" Gloria said. "They're as smooth as a baby's butt."
"If babies had butts shaped like big man hands," I said.
"Idiot," she says, under her breath, laughing.
*For the record, Gloria does not have big man hands. If she did, I would have already mentioned them.
The Golf Club (Season Mode)
I played through the initial tour over the last two days (which is called the Local tour, I think).
Since it's the first tour, the conditions are easy: low winds, small breaks on the greens, and generally short yardage holes. My handicap in the game is 0 (so I'm a scratch golfer in the game, although sadly not in real life), so on a course at regular difficulty/conditions, I'd generally score around par.
With these courses, though, I was shooting in the mid/low 60s, and obliterated the last course in a 36 hole event with a -22 total score.
That's okay, though. It was the Local tour (four events in total), and it's fun to embarrass the locals. Next up is the Amateur tour, which should be a bit tougher.
This is pretty bare bones, in terms of features. There's a leaderboard with the scores of other golfers, and you accumulate points on the tour depending on finish in the current event.
I'd like an option to play a full PGA tour schedule (even though the courses would obviously be different) and award cash instead of points, but it's early days for this mode, and based on their history, I'm sure the developers will continue to improve it. Actually, the last tour might have a full season mode. I'll let you know when I get there.
What this mode does for me is create an immediate incentive to do more than play single rounds. Yes, it's pretty basic right now, but it's still enjoyable, and well worth the $10 if you already own the game (and again, you get the Tropical course theme as well).
This game has gotten quite a bit of grief, and I'm still baffled as to why. It's generally a very solid, relaxing game of golf. My one complaint right now would be that elevation effects are understated, but that's a very fixable issue. Oh, and one other complaint, which is that flop shots (which are evil and difficult to hit in real life) are generally more reliable than chip shots (nope, that's not right).
Even with all this, though, The Golf Club emulates golf wonderfully well in many ways, and the PC version is drop dead gorgeous.
Eli 11.6, From The Wayback Machine
Showing an early sense of comic timing:
The Golf Club
New DLC was released today for the PC version of The Golf Club.
It's $9.99, and for your money you get a new Tropical theme for courses and--more importantly--a Season mode with multiple tours available. These are single-player tours, which is great for hermits such as myself.
I've been so impressed with the value this game represents. Hundreds of user-created courses, beautiful visuals, and very solid gameplay. It's not perfect, but it's very fun to play.
I'm going to try to check out Season mode over the new few days and have a write-up for you later this week.
The Finest Canadian Halloween Story Ever Told
As told by DQ VB.NET Advisor Garret Rempel. This will hereafter by known as "the Gillam story."
Gillam is located on the Nelson River in northern Manitoba, not far upstream from Hudson's Bay (about 150km). It's primarily a Hydro town and serves as a home for the workers for three generating stations nearby and about 1,300 residents.
I can only tell you what I know secondhand based on stories I've heard from my parents and pictures I've seen as I was too young to remember at the time that I lived there. But Halloween was an event where a group of adults would be on watch near the edges of town with shotguns, and the rule was that no child was allowed to dress up in a costume of a prey animal.
The reason is that the October/November timeframe is the Polar Bear migration season, when the Bay starts to freeze over they gather along the coast and migrate out onto the ice pack. Although Gillam is quite south of Churchill, the bears would still sometimes wander through especially at that time of year.
So the town had to take precautions to discourage wandering bears from eating the kids. Not that I recall ever hearing a story about a stray child being eaten - but Polar Bears are different than Black Bears or even most Brown Bears in that they are larger. To most bears, humans can be seen as a threat - a potential danger. To a Polar Bear, humans are less a threat, and more a "snack".
I Guess He's Grown More Than I Thought
Come on, man, I just bought those clubs last year!
Maybe, Maybe Not
We watched a ton of playoff hockey last weekend.
After the games were over, Eli 13.8 was flipping through the channel guide and found a listing for a Seattle vs. Portland MLS game.
"Hey, that's probably worth watching," I said, and he selected the channel and the game came on.
"Seattle and Portland can't stand each other in general, and these fan bases in particular hate each other. Plus, you know those huge banners that team supporters make in Europe?"
"Yeah, those are cool," he said.
"Well, the fans for these teams make them, too," I said. "Plus they--it's only been 31 seconds and I'm BORED OUT OF MY MIND."
"Right there with you," Eli said. Price Is Right instead?"
"I'm in," I said.
Leading off this week, from Jesse Leimkuehler, and this is both wildly interesting and entirely horrifying: Slut-Shaming, Eugenics, and Donald Duck: The Scandalous History of Sex-Ed Movies
. Also, and this is a wonderful moment, it's This 102-year-old was a famous dancer in the 30s, but never saw herself on screen until today.
From Les Bowman, and this is an excellent read: How Success Almost Killed A Game, And How Its Creators Saved It
From Thomas Fields, and this is the ultimate stick bomb: Guinness World Record - 30,849 Sticks - Largest Stick Bomb
From Steven Davis, and this is fascinating: The Ingenious Design of the Aluminum Beverage Can
. Also, and this is bizarre, it's How a ditty from a soft-core Italian movie became the Muppets’ catchiest tune.
One more, and it's terrific: TYRANNOSAURS: Behind the Art with James Gurney
. One more, and I've never seen these before (neither has Eli 13.8): Freeline Skates are Strangely Awesome
From C. Lee, and this is outstanding: The golden ratio has spawned a beautiful new curve: the Harriss spiral
. Next, and this is a fantastic read, it's Turning Ethiopia's desert green
From Marc Klein, and this is very touching: Still In The Game
Here is an absolutely insane video (and some equally insane photographs): An Absolutely Massive Volcano Is Exploding In Chile Right Now
. Closing out the week, a bit of accuracy overkill: This Clock Only Loses One Second Every 15 Billion Years
I am seriously beat today, so I'm going to discuss the workout that Eli 13.8 does to build his explosiveness and strength. We incorporated some ideas that might be interesting to some of you, particularly if your workout routine has gone a bit stale.
I may have talked about this before, and if so, I apologize.
What I wanted to do with Eli was create a workout that fulfilled the following criteria:
1) a multi-year lifespan (so something that would grow with him).
2) focus on explosiveness, quickness. and strength.
3) no weights. Strength exercises would be body-weight only.
4) constant disruption, so his body didn't get used to the workout.
So with those criteria in mind, here is the list of the exercises we came up with:
--5 minutes on exercise bike
--ball toss (high speed ball tossing--cross toss (two balls in sequence), bounce toss (two balls in sequence), moving toss (two balls in sequence), and simultaneous toss (two balls). We toss these back and forth as fast as I can possibly can. This is for hand quickness and coordination.
--chin-ups (to exhaustion).
--pull-ups (to exhaustion).
--dips (to exhaustion).
--bar lift (I don't think that's the right name, but your hands grasp pegs above you instead of a bar. To exhaustion.)
--one step push-ups. This is a ladder of pushups where you go from 1 to 10 (and back down to 1) with one step in-between. So do a pushup, take a step, do 2 pushups, take a step, do 3 pushups, etc. This is 110 push-ups in total, if you can finish. Eli can do them all.
--ball transfer (using the heaviest weighted ball, go back-to-back with partner and pass ball around as quickly as possible). 50 in each direction.
--ten pound press on wobbleboard. One-handed press of weighted ball to exhaustion. Good multi-function exercise (strength + balance).
--stand on gel wobbleboard in goalie stance. Ball toss while balancing. To exhaustion.
--walking bodyweight lunge (90' in total).
--single-leg squat (x20 each leg).
--core builder (to exhaustion). A leg left from an upright position (legs are off the ground, upper body is secured). Goal is to get legs parallel to floor. To exhaustion.
--Superman toss. Lay on stomach, extend legs and arms off ground (just like Superman in flight). Catch tossed balls. To exhaustion.
--rope skipping (5x30 sec, 20 sec break. At boxer speed.)
--hop-hop-stick (just like it sounds: two lateral hops on the same foot, then land on the other foot. You go back and forth in a set of 12).
--step-step-stick (two quick lateral steps, not hops, then land on the outside foot. Back and forth in a set of 12).
--vertical leap (2x12 standard, 2x12 "star" leap).
--standing broad jump (90' in total, as few jumps as possible).
--power skips for height (90' in total).
--power skips for distance (150' in total).
What makes this workout disruptive is that after warm-up, the order for the exercises is completely at random. Each exercise is on an index card, and we shuffle the cards before each workout. So instead of doing these in some kind of logical order, they can be in any order. That makes it a very different workout, depending on the card order.
Plus, today we tried the "Cash Moneyville" workout for the first time. I cut four pieces of yellow construction paper and randomly inserted them into the index cards. When we saw the "gold" paper, that was a moneymaker exercise. Eli had 30 seconds to negotiate with me as to how much money he could make with each rep. If he was asking for too much, I'd say "lower". If he wasn't asking for enough, I'd say "higher".
Yes, he loves The Price is Right.
It wasn't much money, but it was a huge incentive to get the biggest possible reward. So the four "gold" exercises he did at a much higher rate (his normal rate is high already). That made the workout disruptive at multiple levels, because he was using different effort on a few exercises, and that affected the entire workout.
The next step (eventually) is to advance the workout in terms of adding balance elements as often as possible. So when he does single-leg squats, for example, he might do them on a wobbleboard (which is really, really difficult).
If you're thinking that this workout is insanely difficult, it is for me. It's not, though, for Eli. He destroys this workout now, which is why I added the "gold card" element for the first time today. Plus, he likes the work, which really sets him apart from most kids. He enjoys working hard, and the workout is clearly making him faster and stronger.
This takes about 45 minutes, roughly, and it's good time. If you're doing one kind of workout all the time (like running), this is a nice way to break things up and focus on your entire body. And I hope you guys can incorporate some of these principles into your own workouts.
Mom 85.1 called me this morning, and she was frustrated and upset.
Mom, among her peer group (people who started using computers later in life), has good computer skills. When things go wrong, though, sometimes she doesn't have the experience in obscure PC knowledge to fix them.
There are lots of people like my mom, who enjoys using computers but doesn't understand why they have to be so complicated--because, if you haven't used computers before, they are
complicated. When anything goes wrong, they go from fun to being arcane and obscure.
And sometimes, companies make them obscure for predatory reasons.
There's a fantastic application called TeamViewer
that we use so that I can take control of Mom's system remotely and help her fix things. It's much easier to help her when I see what she's seeing instead of having her describe it to me, because there is so much detail on a computer screen that it can be difficult to choose what's important.
As soon as I can see her desktop, I know that something has gone quite wrong, because instead of Google search, I'm starting at a search engine "powered by Ask.com."
Ah, you Java (Oracle) assholes.
When you install Java, there's a shitty attempt by Java to cram the Ask.com toolbar down your throat, and you have to opt out or it gets installed.
Why does that matter? Well, in a functional sense, Ask.com returns search results where they don't distinguish between ads and actual information. That means that when you do a search with Ask, the first eight results might be ads, but you won't be able to tell that.
That's garbage, and incredibly unethical, but it gets worse. There is a long, long list of third party programs (many of them from a sleazy company called "Mindspark") that will install the Ask toolbar/browser crap and change your home page without your consent.
Want to get rid of the Ask.com toolbar?
I figured it would be relatively straightforward--there must be a program installed that I can uninstall, right? I checked and there's nothing. Then I looked in Chrome browser extensions and didn't see anything about Ask. There were only two extensions installed (one of which I installed for her). That should have been a clue (I'm an idiot), but I ran right past it.
Thus began a long, long trip down various rabbit holes. Deep rabbit holes.
Here's the non-cursing version: there are a ton of extensions/programs that will install the Ask.com toolbar and hijack your browser without your consent. And when you try to remove it, there will be no entries for Ask in the installed programs list.
The answer, if I had been thinking more astutely, was in the second installed extension in the browser. It was something called "Rage Radio" (more assholes), and one of its "functions" is to install the Ask.com toolbar.
Cutting out the boring in-between stuff, if you ever get in this situation and want to get out of it, here are some basic steps to take:
1. Download a program called AdwCleaner
(you can read about it at the link). It will clean all kinds of garbage out of your system.
2. Go into the settings for your browser, and reset your home page. In Chrome, I could actually delete the Ask.com entry.
3. You probably have some extension you don't remember installing in your browser. If you only have a few extensions, it won't be difficult to find the rogue and uninstall it, but if you have many, it will be more difficult. You can Google everything (in a separate system, since Ask hijacked your computer's browser) and find out which ones are basically crap and should be uninstalled.
4. There's an obscure setting in Java that will let you turn off "sponsored" software, believe it or not. Go here
to set it properly.
If you want all the details of how slimy Oracle is behaving, go here: A close look at how Oracle installs deceptive software with Java updates
Mom's system is fixed now, but none of this should have happened in the first place.
The Big Eli 13.8 Post
We ate breakfast Saturday morning at the Pancake House.
As we were walking back to the car, I started to run.
Eli 13.8 started laughing and chased me. We were both sprinting like crazy, trying to reach the car first. "Oh my god," Eli said, laughing. "We are such idiots."
Eli is a teenager now. He's 5' 8 1/2" and 120 lbs. (and it's all muscle, too). His voice is almost as deep as mine. He can touch a regulation basketball rim, and his standing long jump is 8'0".
He's very different from the boy I've written about for over twelve years, but in some ways, he's not different at all. If I start running for absolutely no reason, he'll still chase me. He's still a kind and generous (and gentle) person. He's still utterly funny.
So he's different, but he's not different at all. He's both at the same time.
This is what I didn't understand about the transition into being a teenager: it happens at a very uneven rate. There are thousands of little pieces of a person that transition into being a teenager. Some of those little pieces change early, but even after they've changed, other pieces will still be as they were in childhood.
Eli can make his own dinner with no problems. He can scrimmage against adults and hold his own. He also still has a stuffed bear on his bed, and that bear might be there for years.
It's an uneven, messy process, just like much of life. However, and this is important, "messy" doesn't mean "bad".
There's a reason I haven't written about Eli for a while, but I didn't understand it until today. All I knew was that something wasn't in place.
Children tend to have discrete moments, moments that lend themselves to teaching. These little moments are building blocks, and building blocks are easy to write about.
With Eli now, though, building blocks have been replaced with flow. There's a current to his life that wasn't there before. There aren't set pieces.
We still enjoy our time together as much as ever--maybe even more--but that time doesn't lend itself to long write-ups as readily.
The only thing I try to do now--and I've always tried to do this--is to be as simple and straightforward with him as possible. Be kind to other people. Work hard for what you want.
That will take him a long way. He taught me that life is much simpler than I ever thought it was, so I'm trying to remind him now.
His life still revolves around hockey. He was on a very, very poor team this season--not poor in personality, because many of the kids were terrific--but they just weren't very good hockey players. So he played some phenomenal games and wasn't rewarded in the slightest, because they were unwinnable games going in.
He reached a point, midway through the season, where he was fed up with guys not playing their positions. He was facing 40 quality shots a game, which was ridiculous by any standard, and he finally reached the point of being angry. We had a long talk the next day, and I asked him who he wanted to be. He could be the guy who felt victimized, and nobody would even blame him. I asked him, though, where would that get him?
"Nowhere," he said.
The next night, there was a new kid who had moved in and was joining the team. He was a big kid, and not in very good shape. One of the things the team did in warm-ups was pushups, and the new kid couldn't do nearly as many as was required. The coach told him that he had to start over, and the kid was ready to walk right there.
"I'll do them with you," Eli said. So he did, and after a few push-ups, the rest of the team started doing them as well.
Was this some kind of turning point for the team? Not really, at least in a competitive sense; they still lost nearly every game. It was a true moment of leadership, though, and it reminded me that Eli was still a leader, even when he was frustrated.
Mostly, though, even during this season from hell, he worked. Worked and worked and worked. It really sets him apart from other kids, that willingness to push himself. He understands that he's in a long, long process, and that every off-ice workout where he truly pushes himself is one more tiny step. Plus, he likes
The season wasn't all gloom.
While we were in Dallas for a tournament, we went by a Hockey Giant in Plano (mandatory trip when we're up there). There was a shooting contest in progress, and it required the shooter to make a shot in all four corners (there was a goalie tarp attached) as quickly as possible.
It took Eli four shots. 7.9 seconds.
Several of his teammates were there, and of course they lost their minds over seeing their goalie turn into a sniper. He wound up with the fastest time on his team.
The top 15 shooters qualified for an on-ice shooting contest at a local rink, and he wound up 5th (out of hundreds of kids, because the contest ran for about four weeks after his time was posted), but there was an ice storm in Plano the weekend of the next round, and we couldn't get there.
Bragging rights, though, were not diminished.
He's in the (very short) offseason now, working on building his explosiveness. I think that's his ticket to bigger and better things. He needs to be able to shock people with his athleticism, and if he can, that will get their attention.
Truly, he's already in the super freak category.
I found an academic article about the standing long jump length of goalies who attended the 2008 NHL Scouting Combine. The mean standing long jump length for goalies was 8'0", and as I mentioned at the front of this post, that's Eli's standing long jump length now,
as a 13.8 year old.
That's utterly ridiculous, because he's going to grow at least another 5-7 inches. Plus his legs are already as long as mine, even though I'm still 4 1/2" inches taller.
He's a super athletic giraffe, basically.
Eli is still several years too young to have any idea how far he might go. But his attitude is going to help. He talks in his sleep, and during one tournament trip he started talking in the middle the night. Here's what he said: mumble mumble mumble work ethic mumble mumble.
Even in his sleep, he's working.
That's the best single game I've ever had (going back to the mid 1980s). Three home runs, a double, and a single, all scorched. This is with a AAA team, so EB has been promoted once.
However, it's boom or bust for Enormous Bottoms, huge games followed by multi-day strikeout festivals. I've gotten his power against left-handed pitchers up into the low 80s, though, and he's leading AAA in Home Runs.
A Fascinating Read (Boston Marathon related)
This is truly a phenomenal story (recounting the story of Katherine Switzer):
Behind The Photo That Changed The Boston Marathon Forever
I received the following e-mail from Shrapnel Games on Friday:
On 11.29.10 10:11 PM you placed an order at the Gamers Front, but did not complete your purchase. If you had trouble using our shopping cart, please contact our Customer Support Center so that we may assist you.
If you abandoned your shopping cart for another reason, we would like to hear from you so that we may improve our shopping experience. You may contact us here and let us know how we may make you shopping experience better.
We are sorry you had trouble, and would like to have you visit our site again. Please accept this coupon for a 15% discount on you next order:
Coupon Code: XXXXXX
You can enter the coupon code at checkout for your discount.
The Gamers Front Staff
Shrapnel Games, Inc.
I guess should have expected this, because when I e-mailed their customer support address in 2010, I received this replay:
Thank you for contacting Shrapnel Games. A member of our support staff will contact you within the next five years.
The Gamers Front Staff
I may have posted this link a few years ago, but it's so fascinating that it's coming up for a second run: Cracking the Scratch Lottery Code
Here's an entirely wonderful story (it's nice to find these in the middle of large amounts of awful stuff going on these days): Classy Organization: Padres Keep Sick Pitcher on Payroll 20 Years After Last Throw
From Scott Gould, and this is clearly the greatest cricket commentary ever: Scrotometer
From Sirius, and this is fascinating: Ankylosaurs, the armored dinosaurs that could pack a punch
From The Edwin Garcia Links Machine, and this is stunning: Artists Hack an Xbox Kinect and Create an Experimental Film on Movement
From Steven Davis, and this is amazing: Guinness World Record Stick Bomb - 17,822 Sticks!
From J.R. Parnell, and I want one of these: Dare to Press the Mystery Button: Seattle’s Enigmatic Soda Machine
From Brian Witte, and this link is hypnotic, because it's an infographic event horizon: Dadaviz
From C. Lee, a terrific essay on one of the games that disappointed me most (KOTOR II): Vanishing Points
From Jeff Fowler (Jeff, thanks for the link, but I couldn't e-mail you back--got an invalid domain error), and this is just amazing: Spider-tailed Horned Viper: Persian Horned Viper - Víbora Iraniana Rabo-de-Aranha
This is spectacular: How Can This Self Alley-Oop Even Be Real?
From DQ Fitness Advisor Doug Walsh, and the headline says it all: Woman blames coffee-drinking parrot for car crash
Sorry, the day got upside-down for me very quickly today, but just as a note, if you're not watching the NHL Playoffs, please do so.
Seriously, the NHL Playoffs are the best thing in sports. And in overtime, with no commercial breaks and players flying all over the ice, it's unforgettable.
There were so many great moments last night (particularly in the Ottawa-Montreal game), and it was just the first game of the first round!
This cat is a sloppy sleeper.
Age of Fear 2: The Chaos Lord
This is an item from the wayback machine, but several years ago, I wrote about a game called Age of Fear. The sequel has been released (Age of Fear 2: the Chaos Lord), and it's made its way to Steam. Here's the Steam page, and if you're into turn-based strategy (seriously, who isn't?), this might be right up your alley: Age of Fear 2: The Chaos Lord
Garret sent me a picture of snow in Winnipeg last week. This is not snow.
The pool opens on April 1, and even though the water is still cold (around 65F), I start swimming.
The funny thing about swimming is that if the sun is shining and it's warm (it was 80F today), the pool can be almost any temperature and I can survive. Swimming in very cold water on a cloudy day, though, is another matter entirely.
What does it feel like, swimming in 65F water? Well, for me, it means that if I swim for longer than 15-20 minutes, my extremities feel a bit "thick" when I get out of the pool. Your body dissipates heat 30X more quickly in water than in air, which means 65F water is much colder than it sounds. I've learned over the years, though, how long I can swim, and when I need to get out.
This is my favorite moment of spring, actually. Pool's open, the water is brutally cold, and the sun is shining.
Make Better Decisions (Plastic Baby Edition)
You should not be living at the post office, small plastic baby.
MLB 2015 The Show: Road to the Show (part two)
What usually drives me crazy about annual sports franchise releases is that so little time is spent on making the game better for the people who play the most.
The best example of this is Madden, which will have a bunch of new crap "features" that just represent churn, not improvement, and in some cases, they actively make the game worse. Almost always, though, those features are useless for the hardcore user.
If you wanted to play Road to the Show last year, and by "play" I mean multiple seasons, cranking through games, here were the problems
1. Loading times. Getting in and out of a game during the season meant 30+ second loading times each way.
2. Pitchers threw over to first base. All the time. I saw four consecutive throws over to first base between pitches dozens of times. Brutal.
3. Fielding cameras for outfielders. There were lots of edge cases where the fielding cameras was totally useless. There was an "arrow indicator" under the player's feet, but that could be imprecise. This made good fielding almost impossible for an outfielder.
4. "Hair Salem" (damn it, I can't read my writing. That could be anything).
5. Lots and lots of screen hopping to do things.
Guess what changed?
1. Loading times have been cut in half. Very, very impressive.
2. Pickoff moves are rare, and I've never seen more than one throw over between pitches.
3. Fielding cameras are still problematic for outfielders, unfortunately. This is easily fixable--just pull the camera back further--but there's no option to do that.
4. "Hair Salem". Yeah, I'm going to assume that's fixed.
5. Screen layout is much improved. I didn't like it--at first--but the more I played, the more it made sense. For the vast majority of what you do in RTTS, it requires less hopping around screens now.
Here's a view of the main menu for RTTS mode:
That is a TON of usable information on one screen: next game, team calendar, league updates, training info, player comparisons, and equipment (kind of a crap feature where you can earn and equip certain brands of gear for a stat boost. Not interested, and get off my lawn, you damn kids.).
Everything--absolutely everything--is one or two button presses away, at worst. Again, this is something that's most useful for the players who play hundreds of games, and it's terrific to see that player group being rewarded.
What this all means is that when I sit down to play, there's no single thing that is annoying enough to make me stop playing. Last year, the loading times drove me insane, and then, when I got into a game, the throws to first base were even worse.
Now, that's all fixed. Single games take around 5 minutes to play (you only see the plays your player is involved in), loading in and out is very quick, and it's all pretty fantastic.
Except for the $*#*@ fielding camera. Hey, nothing's perfect.
MLB 2015: The Show (Road to the Show)
Enormous Bottoms is my character to role play the hell out of Road to the Show. I wanted a guy whose skills were massively unbalanced. So Enormous Bottoms has never sunk one training point into anything else but power.
This is a terrible strategy for success. It's an excellent strategy for role playing, though, and there are a ton of guys like EB in real life, big power hitters who strike out a ton and can't field their position with any degree of competence.
Here's the current skill set of Enormous Bottoms:
That's all default ratings, with the exception of power versus right handed pitchers (99) and power versus left handed pitchers (60).
Here's the rules I use in EB's career:
1. A rating category must be improved to 99 before any other category can receive training points (with the exception that if a rating starts to degrade, I will spend points to restore it to its original level).
I reached 99 with right handed power, then started on power versus left handed pitchers. Once that hits 99, the next category will be Arm Strength.
If you look at that image, you'll see that Contact is 25. So what I wound up with is a massively unbalanced player, which is just what I wanted. He's going to be hugely powerful, hit a ton of home runs, with a massive number of strikeouts. And a cannon for an arm, even though he doesn't catch very well.
2. Every swing Enormous Bottoms takes, for his entire career, is a power swing. No contact swings. No regular swings. He's Dave Kingman, basically, for those of you who remember back that far.
3. No bat adjustments. It's possible to reposition the bat during the swing, to adjust to high/low pitches, but I'll be doing none of that. Instead, Enormous Bottoms has to wait for a pitch in the optimal zone for his swing. If he swings at a low strike or a high strike, he's unsuccessful. So there has to be a ton of plate discipline in terms of pitch selection.
All in all, this creates a player that seems--to me--to be fairly realistic. Let's look at his minor league stats through nearly two full seasons:
That's just what I was hoping for. 58 home runs in two seasons, 164 RBIs, and 250 strikeouts.
His line this season is strong: .283 BA, 34 HR (leading his AA league), 90 RBI (leading the league), and 141 Ks. I'm not sure they have league "leaders" in strikeouts, but believe me, he'd be crushing that, too.
He almost has as many extra base hits as he has singles. So a typical game for Enormous Bottoms might be 3 strikeouts and a towering home run.
I unintentionally avoided one of the biggest problems (for me) with RTTS mode. Building a player evenly tends to get him promoted too early, because as soon as his overall rating is better than the player in the league above him, he'll get promoted. Playing in a higher league, though, makes it harder to get training points based on performance (because performance will usually go down in a higher level league).
Enormous Bottoms, though, doesn't have that problem. He's spent almost two solid years in AA ball, because cranking up one ranking doesn't improve your overall rating nearly as quickly.
Plus, I love the minor leagues in this game. They added new ballparks this season, and most of them are terrific. So it's very pleasant to bumble around in the minor leagues for several seasons.
Tomorrow, I'll talk about the game design elements of The Show and how they've substantially improved the game this year.
That's right. 5'5" and 220 pounds of balding Puerto Rican-Japanese dynamite. Enormous Bottoms, #44 in your game program, but #1 in your heart.
Leading off this week is a fascinating article about a baseball legend: How Do You Solve A Problem Like Dalkowski?
Maths expert Craig Miller sent in what is possibly the first camel-related link ever posted in this space: Intact Ottoman 'war camel' found in Austrian cellar
From C. Lee, and all I can say is thanks a lot, assholes (ESA): Videogame Publishers: No Preserving Abandoned Games, Even for Museums and Archives, Because All "Hacking" is Illegal
. Also, and this is excellent, Gabe of Penny Arcade talks to the local PTA: I spoke at our PTA about games
Eric Higgins-Freese sends along an article about solar road panels (I had no idea): This Invention Will Change The World, Just Watch
. The link is a Facebook video, so if those are toxic to you, be forewarned.
From Sirius, and these are quite excessively large: Giant Rabbits Make Excellent Pets, Just Sayin'
From Nate Carpenter, and this will bring back some nice memories if you're as old as I am (and my condolences): LIVE AND DIRECT: THE DEFINITIVE ORAL HISTORY OF 1980S DIGITAL ICON MAX HEADROOM
From The Edwin Garcia Links Machine, and this is stunning (it's the world's largest cave): Hang Son Doong
. Next, and this is now a thing, it's China's Elite Female Bodyguards
. Next, and this is a fascinating story: The Woman Who Hacked Hollywood: Laura Poitras’ name was once on terror watch lists. Now it’s on an Oscar. Here’s her personal journey.
Gridiron Solitaire (number unknown): It's Never Just One
I've learned an inescapable truth about bugs.
For a long time now, GS has had an obscure bug where the first time someone clicks on a card, the game crashes to Windows.
If they then restart the game, it plays just fine. And it will play fine as many times as they want until they reboot, and then it happens again. Rinse, repeat.
What makes this very difficult is that it's not an internal crash in the game code, because I have a routine to trap that and write the information to a file. This is some kind of strange Windows-related crash, it produces no file, and it only happens with Windows 8.1.
Only a very small subset of users (1 in every 200 or so) have this problem, and it only happens a small percentage of the time that they're playing the game, so as bugs go, this isn't a disaster.
I've tried to fix it, though, and haven't been able to, which is what bothers me. This is the only outstanding bug I have.
Well, until someone reported a few weeks ago that they were crashing in the tutorial the first time they clicked on a card. And unlike the other bug, this doesn't resolve itself by restarting the game. It's terminal.
This user was able to play the game without incident on two other systems, but his primary system was a mystery, and we spent hours troubleshooting (and DQ VB.NET Advisor Garret Rempel was also involved).
Still, though, only one user, right? Except that's not true, because I've learned in the last few years the Prime Directive of the Single-User Bug: IT'S NEVER JUST ONE.
It might seem like that, at first. But what you've had reported is a bug that--presently--affects only one user. The odds of this bug, over time, appearing again are 100%. Someone else is going to encounter this bug, eventually. Guaranteed.
It's never just one.
Yesterday, #2 showed up. This was a very good thing, actually, because it let me compare the user's systems, OS, etc. I knew it must be an 8.1 system, and it was.
I also realized that these users can click button controls in the game for as long as they want, in any combination, without crashing. The cards, though, are image controls. The first time they click on an image control, there's a funky crash to the Windows desktop.
That certainly seems like a thing.
This gives me a path, finally. I can replace the first image control that gets clicked in the tutorial with a button control. If the user can select the button control (with the card image as the background) with no problem, then clicks on the second card (which is still an image control) and crashes, then I can replace image controls with button controls. In XAML, that's not terribly difficult.
Plus, and this might be even better, I'm not the only developer (Can I actually call myself that? Still seems highly unlikely) reporting some funky issues, and Garret let me know that the 4.6 RC of the .NET Framework might resolve the problem.
Resolving it without having to code a workaround would be outstanding, because I don't think my code is causing the problem. So I e-mailed both users and we'll see if the new .NET Framework fixes things.
The Projectile Incident (updated)
Craig Miller sent me an e-mail:
Since you gave numbers it would be a shame not to try and figure out the answer. So doing some simplified calculations that ignore factors like drag, spin, etc. and go on pure speed, distance, and time here are the calculations I start with:
V(x)= horizontal velocity ft/s at mower
V(y)= vertical velocity ft/s at mower
V(t)= total velocity
T(1)= Time when it hits the door s
T(2)= Time when it hits the wall s
A whole bunch of math, conversions and stuff goes here.
Yielding a rock speed of roughly 51.75mph as it leaves the mower.
Now these numbers are probably off, since there are several assumptions here, such as the rock having a vertical height of 0 at T(0). Also things like lawn elevation could potentially have huge impacts on the resulting equations.
In reality the speed would be higher, simply because the window would take energy out of the rock, therefore slowing both it's horizontal and vertical speed, but that would be impossible to calculate with the information given. This speed also assumes no velocity lost in breaking the window, an obviously false assumption.
Thanks very much to Craig for taking the time to do this.
It was my birthday last Saturday, and Eli 13.8 helped decorate the cupcakes:
I mustache you a question about my eye.
Oak trees are scourges of the earth. If you live where they don't, you're lucky, because of this:
That brown stuff? It falls from oak trees at the rate of about a ton an hour. My car had been parked there for about ten minutes, and overnight, my car would be almost covered. And this goes on for several weeks.
I'm not even including a picture of when the pollen drop makes cars yellow (not exaggerating).
We went to play tennis the day after Easter, and take a look at this picture:
And this one:
You'll probably have to click on the pictures to see the detail, but all those little bits of color? Remnants of confetti eggs. It was all over the place, colorful happiness memories.
Eli got me a book for my birthday titled Darth Vader and Son
, and it is funny and poignant as well. Here's a sample:
It is very, very funny.
The Projectile Incident
I was working in my study. Eli 13.7 was practicing the diabolo in the living room, and I heard the steady whir as it spun.
Then I heard a bang, or something.
Eli walked in a few seconds later. "Dad, I think the lawn guys just broke our door," he said.
"What?" I asked.
"Come look," he said.
There are about a thousand services in Austin that mow lawns, and we use one. They come by every two weeks in a big riding lawn mower.
We reached the entryway and Eli pointed (bottom right of the glass):
"You're right," I said. "Let's find what came through the glass." We looked around for a few seconds and saw a rock. This rock:
That's Gloria's hand, by the way.
The rock had only stopped when it hit a wall. That got my attention.
Here are the numbers, even though I've long forgotten how to calculate the speed of the projectile (I bet a bunch of you haven't, though):
Approximate distance from door when rock was ejected from mower: 25 feet.
Approximate mower blade RPM: 3,500
Rock height when it hit door: 26"
Rock height when it hit wall: 21"
Distance from door to wall: 15'
I don't know the exact speed, but that rock was moving.
The lawn service had the glass panel replaced in one day. Impressive.
Make Better Decisions (Couch Edition)
That does not look stable, sir.
Pew Pew Vroom Kaboom
I've never seen a Fast and Furious move.
Furious 7 was PG-13, Eli 13.8 had the day off from school, and I thought it was the perfect time to go see a big dumb movie. He agreed.
We stumbled out, stunned, afterwards.
"Well, THAT was over the top," Eli said.
"I think we have to invent an entirely new phrase," I said. "When cars falling from airplanes and landing on highways is the fifth best stunt in the movie, 'over the top' entirely loses its meaning."
You should hear Eli's Vin Diesel impersonation. It's substantial.
"Oh, and don't forget the bad guy," I said. "A parking garage literally fell on top of him--"
"--and he's fine," Eli said. "Not even scratched."
"I think this series is basically Star Wars with cars," I said. "So Vin Diesel is Yoda."
"The Rock is Luke Skywalker," Eli said. "Vin Diesel's wife is Princess Leia."
"Right, and Jason Statham is Darth Vader," I said.
There are some gaps in there, but I think it's a solid working theory.
"I'm not generally a fan of pew pew vroom," Eli said, "but that was a lot of fun."
"That's because it was pew pew vroom kaboom," I said. "Totally different genre."
From The Edwin Garcia Links Machine, and the title says it all: 1950s Housewife Tries LSD
. Also, and this is an incredible story, it's Unburied: The Secrets of a Deadly Mount Baker Avalanche
. One more, and it's an amazing video: This all-electric ‘68 Mustang is quicker than a Tesla
From Jeff Fowler, and this is quite a process: WFL MillTurn Technologies M120 making an Aerospace component with complex features
From Jonathan Arnold, and this is excellent: Laerdal Tunnel: The World’s Longest Road Tunnel
From Sirius, and this is amazing: Dad and daughter recreated 'Jurassic Park' with $100,000 in Lego pieces
From Roger Robar, and this is fascinating: Six seconds that shaped 1,500 songs
From Ken Piper, and if this is verified, it could be huge: Medieval garlic and bile potion kills MRSA superbug
From C. Lee, and this is an excellent read: Bloodborne creator Hidetaka Miyazaki: ‘I didn’t have a dream. I wasn’t ambitious'
From 3Suns, and this is thought provoking: 5 Brainwashing Tricks That Work No Matter How Smart You Are
From Guy Byars, and this is video of a 1992 Dream Team scrimmage that has legendary over the years: It Was 'The Greatest Game Nobody Ever Saw'...Until Now [VIDEO]
From Eric Higgins-Freese, and this is nightmarishly clever: Disney/Pixar's X-WINGS Movie Trailer
From Phil Honeywell, and this is beautiful: Skiing in Colour: Marcel Hirscher
Praise (your e-mail)
The e-mail on praise has been so interesting and thoughtful that I'm going to run the rest of them today.
All anonymous. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.
Failure’s never been a problem for me. It’s a great teacher because you rarely learn half as much by getting something right the first time as you do when you fail and get to watch the slow motion cascade of dominos as ‘It seemed like a good idea…’ turns into a burnt down building. (metaphorical building. I’ve never burnt down anything)
My secret wasn’t my parents not praising me or praising effort. They took a pretty laid back approach in that they simply made opportunities available if I were interested (gifted schools, programs, etc.). The defining rule was that if it was educational (or I could make a case that it was), they’d pay for it. If it wasn’t, I had to save and earn and work for it. Grey areas, they met me halfway (I had to pay for my SCUBA lessons and certification at 11, but they paid for the equipment – was about 200$ out of pocket for both sides).
That wasn’t the secret for success though. The secret was a brother five years older who loved to lord it over me. He was better in school because he could do the math problems I worked on in his sleep. He was better at spelling. He was better at languages. He was better at everything. I was too young to recognize it was because he had five years of growth and education on me and pushed hard to catch up to him in every way, all the time. When we played games, we would play something and he would crush me over and over until I learned to counter his tactics and could beat him. As soon as I won two rounds of whatever strategy game du jour, he refused to play again. Learning to take out ships with a good 20% more point value in Star Fleet Battles was pretty much the last game we played; he knew the BPV system, I didn’t and routinely went in between 15 and 30% undervalued compared to his fleet, but still found ways to outmaneuver him.
Anyway, short version – if you really want to push kids to excel, find them a rival. Someone close enough to be a peer but who is better than them, hands down. That creates a drive that’s pretty hard to compete with and I suspect it’s why Eli’s travel teams have done well when matched up against higher level opponents. Anyway, this is rambling, but I didn’t see anything in the article or in the email from your reader that pointed out the way you motivate smart kids (or non-smart kids) is you find someone better than them to serve as a rival.
I like your very interesting posts on praise.
From my own experience I think they might be a bit of a generalisation but then that's normal for any sort of analysis anyway, IMO. I just wanted to comment a bit on this bit and give a little of my own life and understanding of myself as well:
"Smart" kids are more likely to look for the fastest path to success, even if it's not the most enduring success. They want the praise reward, instead of being in it for the long haul.
The thing is, because the environment a child grows up in is so important I really don't believe in IQ as any sort of sane measurement or idea in defining a person's ability. A smart child would understand all the ramifications of their choices in determining the most efficient way of achieving a goal. However, what you may see here (in the quoted text) is the way they've been brought up by the society around them: they want to achieve things as fast as possible. It doesn't even have to be for praise at the end of it - speed has become a very important metric in society over the last few decades, I think, to the detriment of quality of life and enjoying moments despite all the pithy "motivational" speeches and posters/images telling people to live in the moment, etc.
I think this aspect is more pronounced in countries like the USA and China where the monetary bottom line can become the overriding factor in every decision a company takes (which might also be a symptom of this mentality filtering up into the workforce).
One of the crazy things for me as an observation on how far into people's psyche's this idea of "get things done fast" is the drive home from work. I have a friend (English) who literally speeds every chance he gets to get home faster for those extra 5-20 minutes it affords him in reality. Despite all the dangers he poses to himself and others on the road due to his manoeuvres. He considers himself a good driver (and I think he is) but that's not the only factor to take into account in the environment.
Now, this guy is very intelligent. A mathematics genius who participated in national-level competitions, fantastic chess player who is also very sporty and who went to Cambridge to study engineering. He couldn't understand why I think this driving mentality is reckless.
I wouldn't consider myself to be smart. I may be a little above average but not really intelligent in any particular way. What I do have is my upbringing from my mother. I was praised for my accomplishments - I don't think I was particularly praised for my effort though I think they usually are tied together in some form. However, my mother instilled in me a very large amount of empathy. Maybe to a fault. ;)
I am very aware of everything and everyone around me (this is coupled with being a bit of a control freak as well) but I do not have very much self motivation. I am extremely focused on other people. I would move a mountain to help another person but will not lift a finger (well not quite that bad) to do something for myself. So many people tell me I'm very smart but that I need a lot of pushing to do things.
Now, I'm not unaccomplished; straight MSc to PhD. I am pretty good at photography and my general analytical skills are supposedly pretty good and, like your second emailer, I'm pretty happy with who I am and where I am at this point in my life. I'm not sure being praised for my efforts would have made me much of a different person - though unfortunately we can never test that!
I've been following your comments on Motivation with some interest. In part because I have kids, but also because I'm a psychologist and find motivation fascinating.
I actually teach 2 different psych courses at university (one undergrad, one graduate) and we talk a lot about how to motivate people at work. I've also designed leadership programs for large organizations. (I'm an Industrial / Organizational psychologist, so I focus on the psychology of work / organizations.)
What I can say with absolute certainty is ... there is no certainty in motivation.
It may be the single most complicated, contradictory, and fascinating topic in my world. Half the theories seem to contradict with the other half. And what works in one situation will fail miserably in another situation. What motivates one leader (or employee) is different than another leader (or employee.) What motivates my daughter is totally different than what motivates my son.
The closest I can get to a "simple" theory of motivation comes from the Ohio State Studies done 60 years or so ago. They found that people need two things from a leader to thrive - "consideration" and "initiating structure".
In other words, everyone needs to have both "play" and "purpose" in their lives.
When we praise "smart" usually what we're doing is focusing on "purpose" and neglecting "play." So we have people who avoid risk because failure would harm their identity and therefore their "purpose" (i.e., being smart). Everything is done to protect that identity - so you take the easy way, because it protects your self-view.
The flip side is an over-emphasis on "play". In this case, everyone gets a ribbon for participating. We get recognized for "trying" and not so much for "doing." We have inflated self-esteem but an inability to act, perform, or solve problems.
Great leaders, and therefore great motivators, do both of these at the same time. They offer play (relationships, coaching, a shoulder to cry on, encouragement, fun) while also expecting purpose (results, accountability, challenge, effort, success).
This tension is difficult. Which is why people (and society) swings from one pole to the other. I fully expect the next generation to receive more "tough love" from their parents as a response to getting trophies for showing up.
Of course true motivation is more complex than this. And I could go on - but to really talk about motivation you'd need a whole semester (or longer!)
Crazy Trip Dispatch #7 From Doug Walsh
Here's a nice surprise: a travel post from Doug Walsh. Even better, there's a ton of interesting information about Japanese arcades. Enjoy.
DISPATCH #07 - NARA, JAPAN
March 30, 2015
Greetings from Japan. That’s right, Japan. We shouldn’t be here. But we are, and extremely glad for it. Our month in Morocco led to a month of cycling in Italy, landing in Rome on Christmas Eve’s eve. Everything was going according to the plan we laid out over a year ago when we left, but then a feeling came over us. We had to go home. Kristin’s father was battling an advanced rare cancer -- he had been doing so for two years – and a feeling deep within us welled up to tell us our opportunity to spend quality time with him was slipping away. So we hopped a flight back to the States and surprised her folks in early January. We stayed for just over two months, finally leaving for Japan a week after his death. Listen to your gut; it knows what’s best for you.
So, with our bikes stored safely in Rome, and with some final familial obligations to attend to this summer, we decided to pursue a life’s travel dream and follow the cherry blossoms as they spread across Japan. Spring broke today in Nara and the cherry blossoms, sakura, are finally beginning to unfurl their petals. This time last year we were but a week into our journey, crossing our third mountain pass and battling a snowstorm in the Cascades.
We’ve been in Japan for two weeks and will be here through the end of April. Pinch me. I came to Japan once before, a six-day teaser to meet with Platinum Games in Osaka about Mad World and Bayonetta, and had been wanting to return ever since. The more we see and do, the longer my list of things to experience grows. We’ve packed a lot into these first two weeks: hiking the Old Tokaido Road, criss-crossing mountains by cablecar, taking in views of Mount Fuji, attending the final day of a sumo tournament, suffering the feelings of despair and sadness that comes from visiting the Hiroshima Peace Museum, and even visiting an onsen town where we whiled away two full days clad in cotton robes and wooden sandals, clap-clomping our way from one hot spring to another.
But, with no bicycles to maintain and ample access to arcades – remember those? – not to mention electricity to charge my 3DS, I’ve been dutifully tending to my neglected gaming talents. Japan will do that to you. Japan’s five- and six-story arcades are known the world over and though I had visited Namco’s towering monument to coin-operated gaming in Osaka in 2009, I wasn’t prepared for how ridiculously advanced the games inside had gotten.
For starters, many of the games were touch-screen. One, called Maimai, consisted of a large circular touch-screen with a tap-sensitive outer bezel that housed a rhythm game where, to my sincere noobness, appeared to be rather simplistic at first glance. Then I watched a young man step up, gloves on so as to not smudge the screen, and begin tapping and swiping in a flurry of motions, in a beautiful synchronicity to the music, playing a song as arrow-shaped icons spread, dashed, and encircled the screen. On Youtube I found this vide
o of someone playing two Maimai cabinets simultaneously. Other music-based touch-screen games filled out the room. A once above-average Guitar Hero and Rock Band player, I tried a guitar-based game in the corner. The guitar had heft to it. As much as the Fender my wife gave me with a copy of Rocksmith some years ago. I failed miserably. Even on the second-easiest mode, the notes poured down the screen at a ridiculous tempo. It was the J-Pop equivalent of “Through the Fire and Flames” and the only thing melting was my ego.
Another arcade had ten consoles set up on a LAN for a wall-sized screen for StarHorse 3, a horse-racing simulation. We watched as six men touch-fed, petted, and trained up their horses for the next race. This one game alone took up as much space as a couple of bowling lanes. Remember those?
Each of the arcades had player cards where you can carry your credits, rankings, scores with you from machine to machine. It was all so much, but nothing I had seen compared to the wizardry of Lord of Vermillion III. At first look, it was a frenetic touch-based MOBA. My eyes glaze over whenever I watch someone play DOTA or League of Legends and I was keen to keep moving, but then I noticed the cards. Lord of Vermillion III is a trading card-based MOBA (vending machine standing nearby for more cards) that not only features a large touch screen for issuing commands and launching attacks, but there’s a card-reading field where you arrange and shift your physical trading cards in and out of the defensive and offensive zones. Players had one hand tapping away at the screen while rapidly shifting and sliding their cards around the playing surface. I recalled watching an expert drummer play Taiko Master – he arrived with his own drumsticks and improvised his own drumrolls and twirls during the song – and realized that arcade gaming in Japan requires an athleticism and level of coordination that I’ve never even considered, let alone possessed.
But, despite the craziness of the arcades, the devotion of Japan’s gamers was most impressed upon me during a train ride from Kinosaki to Nara. I left my 3DS in sleep mode while I read, only to find that, for the first time ever, SpotPass had picked up a number of other players in my vicinity. Suddenly the Happy Homes Association in my copy of Animal Crossing: New Leaf contained the model homes of players I had passed in my train journey. A dozen players were added, all of them with an impressive collection of furnishings decorating their digital homes. Many also played Pokemon Shuffle, yielding some free hearts and gems for my game. But one of the AC players stood out. You see, each home is given a score by the HHA. Mine stands at around 6,000 because I don’t buy furnishings and focus my efforts on fossil hunting and fishing as a means of paying off my various home expansions. And because I seldom play the game with any consistency.
One of the players’ homes, now favorited in my HHA showcase, had a score of 1.7 million! I was unaware scores in excess of 100,000 were even possible. I toured this house with slack-jawed astonishment and awe. Every room contained a full suite of items from the rarest of the rare themed sets. And not thrown around haphazardly but delicately placed in a way that an interior designer might arrange things for a photo-shoot. I wanted to move into this house. The player’s profile showed nearly a full collection of badges indicating hundreds, nay, thousands of hours of devotion.
I had left my 3DS on in sleep mode while in Rome and Naples, Italy. I left it on periodically during my wanderings in New Jersey and even on a daytrip to NYC and never once did I get a single SpotPass.
I’ll be keeping my 3DS in sleep mode throughout my time in Japan. Not just for the free hearts in Pokemon Shuffle, but for the next inevitable dose of inspiration, envy, and awe. It won’t take long.