Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Nervous Times

Eli 17.4 finds out if he got accepted into Princeton at 7 PM EST tomorrow.

I was feeling pretty good about his chances, and then one of his friends didn't get into Stanford. That doesn't sound like anything, but this kid had a 1590 SAT, perfect grades, and five 5's on AP tests. And didn't get in! I think Eli is a very strong applicant, but man, it's a numbers game. Some kids like him are definitely going to get in, but that doesn't mean he's going to be one of them.

Anyway, it's going to be a long day tomorrow.

I appreciate the suggestions everyone sent in about his fatigue. His blood work checked out within range, and there's no operative theory now except a virus (a long one). I think it's also possible that his daily schedule (which is unbelievably packed) may just have worn him down once hockey started. He starts holiday break next Friday, and hopefully a couple of weeks of sleeping in will take care of it.

He's also experimenting with his warmup, trying to raise his body temperature and pulse rate a bit higher than he was previously. No data on whether that's helping yet.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Goats

I brought home doughnuts.

"I present to you, a holiday miracle," I said to Eli 17.4. He loves doughnuts with icing--no filling, just icing, which Krispy Kreme hasn't had in over a year.

I opened the box. Inside were "plaid" doughnuts--plain doughnuts with icing.

"Let's go!" he said. "I can't believe you found them!" A hero's welcome. Felt good.

"I got you a cinnamon with cream cheese frosting," I told Gloria.

"Oh," she said.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"Nothing," she said.

"You gave me the face," I said.

"They didn't have pumpkin or sour cream?" she asked.

"Did you just doughnut shame me?" I asked.

"How do you like my haircut?" Eli asked, laughing. The haircut is a legendary family story. Eli went for a haircut last year, got it cut differently, and came home. He asked his mom if she liked it, and she said "Uh, sure," and gave him the face.

I went back to my study (Slay the Spire, last boss, damn it), and Gloria came in a few minutes later. "You know, I try to be positive and upbeat all the time, and then I slip about a haircut--"

"But fuck ONE goat," I said.

Friday, December 07, 2018

Friday Links!

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Just Cause 4: Just Don't

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

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

There you go. Happy to help.

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

For The Love of God, Don't Do It

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

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

Thoughts While Watching Rudolph

Yukon Cornelius was in the snow cave with the reindeer.

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

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

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

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

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

"Eight," Eli said.

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

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Be Warned: Just Cause 4

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

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

Seems Headed In the Wrong Direction

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

So many questions.

Essentials

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Still kinda magical, though.

Monday, December 03, 2018

Ryder, Secret Ryder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Two down," I said.

Won the next hole, too, easily.

"One down," I said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

"What?" Eli started laughing.

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

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

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

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

Four feet. "CONCEDED", said the screen.

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

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

He missed. Amateur side of the hole.

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

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

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

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

"Tell that to my trophy," I said.

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