Friday, February 16, 2018

Friday Links!

This is a gripping and magnificently written article: The White Darkness: A solitary journey across Antarctica.

From Chris M, and this is remarkable: Engineering Marvel of the Winter Olympics: A Broom.

From Geoff Engelstein, and this is entirely fantastic: This 19-year-old Kiwi farmer accidentally became a character in a US board game.

From Wally, and this is very interesting: The bread that changed how the Irish eat breakfast. This is terrific: The Pinball Doctors: The Last Arcade Technicians in NYC. This is a remarkable story:  A Bomber’s First and Last Mission. This is incredible:  The Marksman Who Refused to Shoot George Washington. This is incredibly cool: My crazy kid jumping on his buddy’s ice covered trampoline. This is certainly creative: Best pirate I've ever seen.

From Michael M., and this is quite a story: Tractor Hacking: The Farmers Breaking Big Tech's Repair Monopoly.

From C. Lee, and this is a terrific read: The Sixth Stage of Grief Is Retro-computing. This is excellent: The Argument Against Quantum Computers. Incredible: Heart Stents Are Useless for Most Stable Patients. They’re Still Widely Used.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Pictures (part 2)

Big goings on around here this week--I'll fill you in on Monday--so one more picture post. 

Seriously, what the hell is this?

That is a phrase that influences people to buy something. They're just throwing together words at random now: "wild", "craft", "ethics", "Non-GMO", "clean", etc. Just throw three of those at the wall and peel off what sticks. 

Of course, it raises a legitimate question: is there a way to unethically wildcraft something?

Here's another great one, and God knows, we've needed this product for a long time:

That's right: cat litter with probiotics. I looked for a version with active cultures, but was unable to locate.

Finally, it's been so cold up here that some wildlife froze right in the middle of the street (looks like Cecil Turtle to me):

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

In Comparison

The first link on Friday is to an incredible story about Henry Worsley, who tried to solo--across Antarctica.

On a previous crossing expedition, he'd gone with two others, and there's a list of the clothing he packed for the journey: His clothing included two pairs of pants, a fleece shirt, a down jacket with a hood, gloves, a neck gaiter, a face mask, two pairs of long johns, and three pairs of socks.

That's it. That's all the clothing he packed to cross Antarctica.

I was reading this list, and I started thinking about what I wear in the rink. Let's compare (I'm in plain text, Henry Worsley in italics):
Two pairs of pants (two pairs of pants)
Three Patagonia base layer shirts (a fleece shirt)
Goose down parka with hood (down jacket with hood)
Gloves (gloves)
No face mask (face mask)

I'm basically wearing more clothes in the rink THAN A GUY CROSSING ANTARCTICA. Plus Hot Hands.

And I still get cold.

Under the Big YMCA Top

"Incredibly, someone is checking you out," I said to Eli 16.6.

He was working out at the YMCA, with me as staff, so I was tossing balls to him at various times, etc.

I noticed a girl who was persistently looking at him. This isn't that unusual at the YMCA, because even if you're a guy with a neck the size of a Buick, Eli is doing things that you can't even conceive of doing. He is both a point of interest and a colorful local character.

He finished an exercise and walked back toward the weight area, and he crossed past where the girl (and her mother) were working out.

When he came back, I was ready for chirping. "So was she checking you out?" I asked.

He burst out laughing. "Her mom looked at me and asked, 'Are you in the circus'?"


"She did," he said. "I only wish I had thought to say 'That's Plan B'."

"In her defense," I said, "you were balancing on a Bosu ball, pressing a fifteen-pound ball with your left hand, and juggling two balls with your right."

"Fair point," he said.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018


We got some weather last week:

I think that's a foot of snow, roughly, in about five days or so. It snowed so hard, for so long, that all the snowplows got behind (which doesn't happen often up here--the infrastructure is pretty incredible). I felt like I was driving in Siberia:

I was snowshoeing around the lake, and it was so beautiful. Deep, deep powder (which is hugely exhausting), no tracks, just untouched snow.

Except for this:

It was about the size of a door, and I wondered. Portal into an underground resort? I'd like very much for that to be true. An underground, tropical resort.

I don't even mind the temperatures, or the snow. I just have boot fatigue, as crazy as that sounds. I'm sick of putting on my winter boots every day and clomping around in them.

Monday, February 12, 2018

The Whatever Winter Olympics of Figure Skating in a City I Can't Possibly Spell

The biathlon is awesome. Probably my favorite Winter Olympic sport.

In America, we can't find two people who actually understand biathlon, so for the 7.5KM sprint, NBC finds a guy who understands the sport and pairs him with--a moron.

Here's how well that strategy worked.

Knowledgeable guy:
You can tell when he's getting tired because the kick out on his stroke gets choppy.


Knowledgeable guy.
(Surprisingly interesting technical comment. Nuance. A thoughtful perspective on the challenges of the sport.)


Also, we were watching curling, and suddenly, I had a thought.

"Hey, do you think curling has THE HAMMER?" I asked.

Eli 16.6 burst out laughing.

"Oh man, I bet it does," he said.

"So every time you go curling," I said, "there's that one guy whose only objective is to knock all the rocks out of the circle with one shot, and he curls at 40 MPH."

"Curling is his winter sport when he's not bowling," Eli said.

Friday, February 09, 2018

Friday Links!

This is a brilliant story to lead off with: The search for Jackie Wallace. And another one: Watch how 19th-century Genaille-Lucas calculating rulers work.

From Sebastian Morgan-Lynch, and this is a terrific article about very weighty things: Don’t fear failure: Why quitting gymnastics taught me the true meaning of success.

From DQ Reader My Wife, and this is fascinating: The Man Who Saw Inside Himself.

From Wally, and this is a great read: 13 writers who grew to hate their own books. This is so, so good: The Star Wars Posters of Soviet Europe. This is absolutely amazing: Instead of Filling Cavities, Dentists May Soon Regenerate Teeth. This is worth reading:  Ten Myths of Gettysburg.

From Ken Piper, and this is excellent: Of grimoires and glyphs: the history behind RPG magic.

From C. Lee, and ah, Finland: Finnish broadcaster targets youth vote with anime-inspired video.This is very, very thoughtful: Life’s stresses often sink me. Here’s how I decided to change that.

From Jeremy, and I really enjoyed this game (back in the day): The Faery Tale Adventure: A personal history. Also, and this is absolutely fantastic (it's an entire book): The CPRG Book Project: Sharing the history of computer role-playing games.

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Emotional Impact

"What just happened?" Eli 16.6 asked.

"I have no idea, buddy," I said. "No idea."

Eli is laughing. He's laughing, and he looks at me, and he says, "I'm crying." I've been trying not to cry until that point, and then I'm laughing, and a few seconds later, I feel big tears rolling down my cheeks.

We're both laughing so hard we can hardly breathe, and we're crying at the same time.

The reason we're laughing is that we're watching Paddington 2, and we're both crying.

I love the Paddington books, and this was faithful to the books, but the story was much darker and much more affecting than anyone on Earth could possibly expect, and the emotional impact hit both of us very hard.

And funny. It was very, very funny. And action. At one point, I leaned over and whispered, "This is practically a Bourne movie." Eli burst out laughing, but it was true.

"I'm wrecked," he said, on the drive home. "I'm going to have to recover before practice," he said, laughing.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018


Eli 16.6 wears a suit and dress shoes to the rink before games.

"I think I need to get my shoes shined," he said before we left for Detroit. His shoes were scuffed and scratched in places. Winter in Michigan is hard on dress shoes.

"No problem," I said. "We can check at the mall after we eat dinner. Some malls have a stand for that."

Gloria went to a closet and brought back things.

"What are those?" I asked.

"Shoe polish and a rag," she said.

"Oh, no," I said. "We're leaving this to the professionals."

"It's just shining a shoe," she said.

"Sure," I said. "And if I want a chair, I can just make one, right? Even though I can barely dress myself, I can just tape a chair together or something. Or I can call a chair person and they can make a quality chair."

"Good grief," Gloria said.

"I don't have time to go to shoe shining school and get a degree. Or an advanced degree, if I could afford the student loans."

"Packing it anyway," she said.

"Just begging for disaster," I said.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Three People, One Toilet

Hockey trips. In bathroom stackup situations (usually before we leave for the rink), Eli 16.6 goes first, Gloria goes second, and I go last.

"Really sorry, but I went number two in there," Eli said.

"Oh, great," I said. "Now if your mom goes number two, that's a number four."

"I'm not going number two," Gloria said.

"I don't know if I can survive a number four," I said.

Gloria disappeared into the bathroom, then emerged.

"That's a number four," I said.

"It's NOT A FOUR," Gloria said.

"Now if I go number two," I said, "that's a number eight. It's geometric."

Monday, February 05, 2018

Well, that was certainly something

I've seen all LII Super Bowls, and that was, easily, the best.

More passes TO quarterbacks than punts? Incredible.

Also, incredible daring all around. No one backed off the entire game. Even though I don't care that much about football anymore, it was a real pleasure to watch.

Now, an issue.

There was a moment in the fourth quarter where New England absolutely and completely botched calling a timeout, and the reason I know that is because of gaming.

With 2:08 left in the game, Philadelphia has the ball. First down. They run the ball, and the Patriots call timeout with 2:03 left.

This is a terrible, terrible decision. Why?

If the Patriots let the clock run to the two-minute warning, when the clock stops anyway, then on second down, the Eagles have to run the ball if they want to be sure the clock will keep running. So the chances of the Eagles passing are essentially zero.

By calling timeout at 2:03, though, they guaranteed that the clock stops after the second down play, no matter what. So the Eagles could have called a pass play, knowing that it wasn't going to stop the clock from running down, because the clock was going to stop anyway.

The Eagles didn't pass, but the Patriots came out in a defense that wouldn't have been able to defend well, if they had, and the only reason the Eagles had that option is because the Patriots gave it to them with poor decision making.

Never give your opponent more options, because it gives you more to defend. Basic gaming battle strategy.

Also, I wonder if the Patriots lost the Super Bowl because they wanted to teach Malcolm Butler some kind of lesson. Your best cornerback, who played 98% of the defensive downs during the season, and he doesn't do anything but play on special teams because of "packages"? No way. That's gibberish.

Pretty expensive lesson.

Friday, February 02, 2018

Friday Links!

Cases like this should send people to prison: How Goodyear Hid Evidence Of 'The Worst Tire Made In History' Linked To At Least 9 Deaths.

Here's a nice palate cleanser after that awful first link, full of warmth and cheer: The World's Top Pokemon Go Player.

From C. Lee, and this is an important but depressing read: How the Elderly Lose Their Rights. This is remarkably bizarre: The Russian Computer That Ran On Water. And we built them, too: Like Water for Money. And, for the trifecta: Gardens as Crypto-Water-Computers.

From Wally, and this is an excellent and difficult read: MIA. Next, and holy cow: Al's Original Plasma Poppers. This is terrific: What Workers Around the World do for Lunch. We live in Canada, but it's called "Michigan": Tiger Tail Ice Cream: This orange and black licorice flavor is kind of a big deal in Canada..

From Steven Davis, and damn, the links are bleak this week: Haunting Photos from Japanese Internment Camps Show the Human Cost of Fear. This is fascinating and very, very strange: Kawanabe Kyōsai, Painter of Insanity.

From Ken Piper, and boy, there should be lots of people in prison over this: Drug companies submerged WV in opioids: One town of 3,000 got 21 million pills.

From Eric Higgins-Freese, and this is very funny: Deep learning technology is now being used to put Nic Cage in every movie.

From Chris M., and I guess it's about time: Monopoly is releasing a special edition of its iconic game that's made specifically for cheaters.

From Scott Sanders, and this is a fascinating read: Two theaters or 1,000? How to release an Oscar-winning film Seven out of eight best-picture winners followed this pattern for success.

Thursday, February 01, 2018

The Super Bowl

Tom Brady is just Gwyneth Paltrow with a slightly better arm and a penis.

He sells all this garbage high-performance crap in conjunction with his "doctor" (not a doctor) Alex Guerrero, who is a big proponent of alternative medicine (in other words, not medicine).

It's all bullshit, and it's expensive bullshit, too.

I was watching the AFC Championship Game, and yes, Brady made some amazingly accurate throws, but his arm strength is gone. Those balls were in the air longer than punts! It's been like that for the last half of the season.

Brady talks all the time about how he's turned back the clock. I'll cut to the chase: he hasn't. Within the first five games of next season, everyone will be whispering about his arm strength, because that's what quarterbacks lose first, and there's no going back past a certain age. It got Elway, it got Manning, and it's happening to Brady right now.

I can't figure out why the Eagles have been written off. If they get pressure on Brady without having to blitz, they'll win. And by the end of next season, at the latest, Brady will be no longer be a viable NFL quarterback.

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