Friday, July 29, 2016

Friday Links!

Leading off this week, and it's awesome: Ethan's Make-A-Wish. DQ reader Ken Dean's son Ethan has Cystic Fibrosis, and his wish was to be a garbage man for a day. You may recognize this from the annual link I put up when Ken participates in the Great Strides event, which raises money for CF research.

DQ VB.NET Advisor Garret Rempel has a gaming company now, and a website, and here you go (and I know it will be excellent, like everything else he does): Tricorn Games.

From Geoff Engelstein, and boy, this is discouraging: N.F.L.-Backed Youth Program Says It Reduced Concussions. The Data Disagrees.

From C. Lee, and what's the Japanese word for "dirtbag"? In first, Tepco admits ice wall can’t stop Fukushima No. 1 groundwater.

From Wally, and this is an excellent read: The Ghost Towns That Were Created by the Oil Rush. This is fascinating: What Things Cost in Ancient Rome. Next, and this is the most expensive cheese in the world: A cheese made from... donkey milk? Next, and this is one of several things that are more disruptive than anyone can imagine today: Yes, you can totally use beer, coffee and hemp for 3D printing. This is just funny, with good detective work: Diablo Sandwich / "Diablo & Doc" From Smokey & the Bandit, Identified!

From Steven Davis, and this is just stunning: Functioning ‘mechanical gears’ seen in nature for the first time.

Here are two long, excellent, and very sad reads to close out the week: first, it's A tragic fight between college-bound basketball stars changed lives forever. Next, and man, this one is going to stay with me for a long time, it's Jonathan and Aaron and ... :No one but Aaron Hernandez will ever fully grasp how a millionaire tight end came to gun down a friend three summers ago. But Aaron's older brother, Jonathan, was there from day one, and he witnessed all the little moments, all the poor choices, all the unwise associations that led to murder. That perspective cost Jonathan his way of living—but that's O.K. He understands.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Windows 10 Upgrade

All right, since I'm sure some of you are doing this at some point in the next three days (while it's still free), here's a quick summary of my experience.

1. Clean up your crap
I consolidated everything I could, deleted everything I should have deleted two years ago, and uninstalled apps that I should never have installed in the first place.

2. Backup your important stuff
Probably, it will be fine. If it's important to you, though, put it on Dropbox or somewhere, just to have a copy if the upgrade goes sideways.

3. Microsoft can be startlingly inept at times
When you start downloading the update, depending on how you choose to do it, you may not have any information on how much of the download has completed. And when it's finished and you try to install, you might get this "preparing to install" message for--in my case--about 8 hours. With absolutely no additional information about what the hell was going on. So don't expect any clarity during the download/preparation steps. It's embarrassing, really.

4. Microsoft can also be startlingly competent at times.
However, once the actual upgrade process started--with an actual percentage complete indicator--the entire upgrade was very quick and utterly competent. No device issues (although I recommend unplugging everything you can, like a printer, and adding it after the upgrade is done). No program issues. It appears to be a very, very clean upgrade.

I've used Windows 10 on my Surface Pro 3, and the way I use it is that I never go anywhere but the desktop. I don't go to whatever the hell Microsoft calls the multi-panel UI, because I can't imagine anyone ever producing anything in that environment. It's fine for being entertained, but I want to produce things, too.

The upgrade didn't start me out on the garbage panel. I don't even know if that panels exists, because all I've seen is the desktop with my familiar screensaver and my desktop icons, which didn't move at all (that drives me nuts). Totally familiar and comfortable.

5. Privacy is seriously messed up.
You need to read this (thanks, Theo) to understand how nefarious some of the default settings for privacy are in Windows 10: Broken Windows Theory. It will take 10-15 minutes to change all the privacy settings for the better, but it's well worth it.

6. Windows 10 is sleek, fast, and very easy to use.
I was a big fan of Windows 7, but this is better. It's slick and very fast.

Do I have any complaints, now that the upgrade is complete? Not one.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

That's A Big Hand

Eli 14.11 can't really hold seven tennis balls for long, so the picture is slightly misleading, but he can hold six for as long as he wants.

I've been teaching him (somewhat) for years, but it had gotten to the point where I really felt like I was holding him back. Tennis circa 1985, and the proper instruction, is not very relevant in 2016.

Good coaches know when to step back and let someone else coach.

In an incredible stroke (awful pun there) of good fortune, though, we met someone here who is an absolutely terrific instructor, and he teaches the way Eli learns--like an engineer.

He's taken four lessons so far, and I can't believe how much better he plays already. All the good qualities of his game--athleticism, intelligence, power, and touch--are still there, but they're now in a more fundamentally sound package, with strokes better suited for this century than last.

Plus, I think he's serving 100 MPH on his first serve at this point. Not kidding.

Still hasn't beaten me yet, though. Old Man Garbage Tennis is still competitive for a little while longer.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Even Better

I have been informed that the full title of the book the guy was not reading is "No Excuses: The Power of Self-Discipline".

Well played, sir.

Um, Yeah

My Internet connection is killing me.

We now have AT&T U-verse High Speed Internet Max Plus, which allegedly provides the following speeds:
Download: 12.1 Mbps - 18 Mbps
Upload: 768 Kbps - 1.5 Mbps

Yeah, I know--that's not very good, really, although depending on where you live, it might be blazing. That's the fastest speed we can get from AT&T in this neighborhood.

That's not the problem, though.

The problem is that I'm actually getting (with a wired connection, mind you) 9.5 Mbps downloading and (hold on) 80 Kbps upload.

I wanted to download some files to Dropbox so that I have a safety net when I install Win 10 (yeah, I'm doing that, too), and it's taken over 24 hours to upload the files because I'm only very rarely over 100 Kbps.

The download speed has been as low as 5 Mbps, according to Speedtest.

This is not a big problem, entertainment-wise (it won't kill me if web pages take longer to load, although it's annoying), but when I'm trying to upload builds of the new game to Dropbox, this is going to be absolutely excruciating.

Any ideas (besides changing ISPs), please let me know.

Previously, I had a Time Warner connection that was 50+ Mbps, and it was very, very fast 99% of the time.

Terrible Lines From Terrible Movies #1: Pyranhaconda

"She played kickball with my cojones."

Make Better Decisions #12: Excuses Edition

I woke up very early one morning, couldn't go back to sleep, and decided to go get a bagel and review my programmer's Bible (Pro WPF 4.5 in VB) before I start coding the recruiting prototype for Fighting Eleven.

I'm reading at the bagel shop when a guy walks in and sits across from me. He has two books with him, and I can see that one is titled "NO EXCUSES!"

I guess abusive self-help is a genre now. I didn't know.

I'm there for about another 45 minutes, and I occasionally glance over and notice the guy. Then, when I stand up to leave, I look over one last time.

He's on his phone, surfing the internet. Like he's been doing the entire time.

Quadrilateral Cowboy

I have it and I'll be posting impressions later.

Monday, July 25, 2016


"Bros need a sizing chart," I said.

"What do you mean?" Eli 14.11 asked.

"When bros go to buy clothes, the sizes must be bewildering to them," I said. "For instance: 'small'."

"Right," Eli said, "because there are no small bros."

"Exactly," I said.

"What's the equivalent of  'small' for a bro?" I asked. "Jacked?"

"No, I think small would be 'Built'," he said. "'Jacked' is medium."

"Then I think you have 'swole'," I said.

"That's large," he said,"and 'extra swole' has to be extra large."

So here's the full chart for bros seeking online clothing:
Built = S
Jacked = M
Swole = L
Extra Swole = XL

Don't think we're looking at setting up a phony website for bro clothing, because we're totally not considering that at all. If we had time.

True Artisan Bagels

There's this little bagel place in East Grand Rapids that has absolutely phenomenal bagels. Seriously, the best bagels I've ever had in my life.

It's in this tiny little shop, and it's utterly calm.

They never seem to have many bagels, either--not because the bins are empty, but because the bins are very small.

I came back from having one on Friday, then drove Eli 14.11 to the rink for a workout.

"Picture this," I said.

"I already don't like the sound of this," he said.

"A bagel shop," I said, "and the name is 'True Artisan Bagels'. Their slogan? 'One bagel. Every day.'"

"Ooookay," he said.

"You have a little film that shows two guys getting up at 4 a.m., then heading down to the shop, where they spend hours making the perfect bagel. They put it out by the counter, and someone walks in and buys it. Then you see the guy walk to the front door, flip the 'Open' sign to 'Closed', and when he turns back to the camera, you see him smile slightly."

"Terrible idea," Eli said.

"It's so terrible it's brilliant," I said.

"No," he said. "It's just terrible. But I like it."

Friday, July 22, 2016

Friday Links!

We're a little light this week, but there are some very strong links.

Leading off this week, and man, it's an incredible story: Revealed: How VW Designed the Greatest Scandal in Automotive History.

From C. Lee, and this is fascinating: How the CIA Hoodwinked Hollywood. Also, and this is excellent, it's A peek into Naughty Dog game creator Neil Druckmann's creative process.

From Mark Lahren, and this is both hilarious and terrifying: Conspiracy Theorist Cruise.

From Wally, and this is an interesting, obscure note about WWII: Il Duce’s Blitz? — Italy’s Role in the Battle of Britain. This is twenty years old and still very funny: The Top 100 Things I'd Do If I Ever Became An Evil Overlord.

From Steven Davis, and this is an amazing video ("In this theater the dance of a puppet, destructured in time and space, shows us the mechanisms that pulls the strings."): OSSA.

From 3Suns, and watch out, everybody: Hacker shows Reg how one leaked home address can lead to ruin.

Finishing off this week, and it's a terrific read, it's How a Guy From a Montana Trailer Park Overturned 150 Years of Biology. Wait, here's one more: How To Summon The Bird That Guides You To Honey: In a rare case of specific communication between humans and wild animals, the Yao people of Mozambique have a special call for attracting the greater honeyguide.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Geforce GTX 1070 (EVGA Superclock)

I mentioned last week that I was getting a new videocard to replace my Geforce GTX 970, which has been a terrific card.

The one thing the GTX 970 couldn't do, in a fair number of demanding games, was maintain a smooth framerate at 2560x1440.

In some games--like Just Cause 3, which ran incredibly well--it was fantastic. In quite a few others, though (Witcher 3), it just didn't have enough oomph.

"Oomph." A highly technical term.

There's nothing I can throw at the 1070 that even makes it breathe hard. Plus, it's silent. I've never heard the fans come on even once, because I've never gotten above about 65C.

Oh, and the reason there hasn't been much going on this week in general is because I woke up at 5:30 Monday with a stomach virus that completely knocked me on my ass. I'm fine now, but I spent a good part of the week in bed with my entire body hurting.


Only Two Complaints

Considering how many complaints I normally have about anything, this is a very small number. 

1. There's too much damn Pepsi up here.
Eli jokingly says that Pepsi's slogan should be "Is Pepsi okay?" because no one really wants it instead of Coke. 

However, in Michigan, Pepsi is huge. So much so that I'm going to Subway fairly frequently just to get Diet Cokes. 

2. Entrance ramps of death. 
There are a few highway entrance ramps (I'm looking at you, Hall St. and 131) that are the shortest I've ever seen, with no usable shoulder of any size. Very, very scary, and I'm trying to figure out ways to avoid all of them.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

So I Almost Had It Right

After yesterday's squeaky floor post, Kai sent in this article: Nightingale floors: The samurai intruder alarm system Japan’s had for centuries.

Here's an excerpt:
The specially constructed floors were called uguisubari. Literally translating as “bush warbler guard watch,” uguisubari are more commonly referred to in English-language texts as nightingale floors.

In installing nightingale floors, planks of wood are placed atop a framework of supporting beams, securely enough that they won’t dislodge, but still loosely enough that there’s a little bit of play when they’re stepped on. As the boards are pressed down by the feet of someone walking on them, their clamps rub against nails attached to the beams, creating a shrill chirping noise.

So this house wasn't training ninjas. It was protecting its owners FROM ninjas.

A Television Sensation

"Oh man, they really brought the hammer this episode," I said.

I was speaking, of course, of our new favorite show: Knitting Daily. 

It's on once a week on the Grand Rapids PBS station, and it's incredibly soothing. Mister Rogers' Neighborhood for grownups, really.

No one yells.

It's a welcome change from the real world, where everyone seems to be yelling.

I know nothing about knitting, and neither does Eli 14.11, but we have a season pass.

Oh, and by the way, the crocheting scene in Kuwait City? Thriving, according to the most recent episode.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016


Kentucky Route Zero Act IV. That's a very nice surprise.

A Feature

Our new house squeaks.

Seriously, every board squeaks. It's incredible, really.

We've decided that this house was previously used as a ninja training facility. That seems like the most plausible explanation.

And Now...the Rest of the Story

I linked to a video Friday about Northlandz, a 52,000 square foot model train world in New Jersey.

The fellow who created it (all of it!) is Bruce Williams Zaccagnino.

What I didn't know--until Mike Gilbert e-mailed--is that Zaccagnino had a long and pretty distinguished career in PC games (Solitaire's Journey, The Perfect General, The Lost Admiral).

Northlandz is in New Jersey, and I think Eli's team makes one trip to New Jersey this season, so maybe we can stop by.

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Donkey Wheel

I was driving us home from the rink.

"I'm not turnin' that donkey wheel," I said, taking an alternate route as I saw traffic stopped because of a wreck up ahead.

"Donkey wheel? What?" Eli 14.11 asked.

"Common expression," I said. "Used to describe a difficult situation caused by stupidity."

"So that's a thing," he said.

"It's a thing," I said, and continued to drive. We sat in silence for about thirty seconds.

"It's not actually a thing," I said.

"It should be a thing," he said. "It sounds like an actual thing."

"I think we can make it a thing," I said.

"It's a thing," he said.

Donkey wheel. It's a thing.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Friday Links!

From Eric Higgins-Freese, and I thought I understood this (but didn't): Why Do Students Get Summers Off?

From Paul, and this is a bizarre and fascinating read: The ‘gay cure’ experiments that were written out of scientific history.

From Dan, and this is quite a tradition: Cars fly on the Fourth of July.

From C. Lee, and this is Hall of Fame stupid: Microsoft’s attempt to recruit interns is a barrel of cringe.

From Steven Davis, and this is quite a patent: Adhesive paint: Another Smart Coating. Eli 14.11 will be interested in this article: Dime After Dime: A Gripping History of Claw Machines. Here's a wonderful video about obsession (in this case, model trains): Some Kind Of Quest.

From Roger Robar, and this is both a great headline and a very funny Twitter war: The nations of Denmark and Sweden had a Twitter fight involving moose and sperm banks.

From Ken Piper, and this is incredible: The code that took America to the moon was just published to GitHub, and it’s like a 1960s time capsule.

From Wally, and these are terrifying: 24 Absolutely Horrendous Vintage Recipes. Next, and these are remarkable images, it's Photographer sneaks into Fukushima 'Red Zone'.

From Marc Klein, and this is quite a craze: The brilliant mechanics of Pokémon Go.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

One Hot Mess

There's lots going on--all good--but I'm not managing event flow very well.

Eli 14.11 is getting weekly goalie lessons and private workouts that are really challenging him in the best ways imaginable. We're also playing a huge amount of tennis, which is wearing my body down a bit, but man, it's fun.

Fighting Eleven looks like it might have a fighting chance now with the new recruiting mechanic. What I want to create is a game world where anything you touch has an influence somewhere else in the game world. So you have the direct influence of your actions, but there are also layered effects beyond the obvious. Discovering all these relationships will be a major (and hopefully, very fun) part of the game.

I have a new video card coming tomorrow: the Geforce GTX 1070. I really, really wanted to get a 1080, but holy crap, those are incredibly expensive. I managed to get a 1070 for about $250 less, even though it's still a huge upgrade from my existing card.

Getting ready for No Man's Sky, obviously.

Plus all the other great games coming soon: Rimworld (July 15), Starbound (July 22), Quadrilateral Cowboy (July 25), and of course No Man's Sky (August 9).

That is a pretty amazing list of games in the next month.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Fighting Eleven #3: Recruiting

Man, going through a period when you have zero ideas is tough.

I've been working with recruiting for at least a month, but it hasn't been going well. There's a standard recruiting model that's been used in college football games forever, and it mirrors reality fairly well.

The problem, though, is that at least a dozen games (or two dozen) have done it almost exactly the same way. If I do it that way, there's no point.

The standard model has always been recruiting "points" that can be allocated each week during the season in pursuit of a recruit. Different "actions" (phone call, recruiting letter, in-person visit, etc.) all have a cost associated with them, so recruiting is balancing how many points you want to spend on each recruit, all the time checking how other schools are doing.

There's nothing wrong with that, but like I said, I didn't want to just copy what everyone else has already done. Plus, I want recruiting to play out in one period of time, not make weekly decisions during the season.

Yesterday, I suddenly had an idea.

I want battles.

What if three other schools are interested in a player, so four teams (including you) are recruiting him? What if you create a four-team bracket, based on the player's interest level? You have a mini-game, and if you win the bracket (by winning twice in the mini-game), you get the player?

Plus, the better the recruit, the longer the "tournament" for his commitment. Have a max of eight teams interested--for a five-star recruit, for example--and you'd have to win three rounds to get one of the premium players. For a two-star player, though, you might only have one opponent and one round to win.

I like the anticipation building as you win rounds.

For a while, I went into a ditch after that, thinking that I could use some sort of dice format for the mini-games. There was no correspondence to football, though.

Deep, deep ditch.

Last night, though, I think I figured it out.

A college football program is a sum of individual qualities. Each of those qualities means more/less to recruits, depending on their personality and what they value.

Why not represent that in the game?

Here are a few school "qualities" that matter in the real world:
--available playing time
--coaching quality
--stadium (quality and age)
--fan support
--path to NFL

I have more (about fifteen in total), but that's a sample. Here's how this would work (at a conceptual level, anyway).
--Schools rated anywhere from 1-3 (or a wider range--I don't know yet) for each quality.
--"Badges" are awarded based on the rating. So if a school has a 3-star academic program, they get three academic badges that they can use in battle.
--when a school "battles" another school in a recruiting round, they can play up to 3 badges in a turn-based format against the other school. The recruit's interest changes based on how important a particular badge is to him.
--once a badge is used in battle, it cannot be reused.
--a player will have anywhere from 3 to 6 interests. Schools can see 3 of those interests, but if they play a badge that matches an unknown interest, they get a bigger bonus in terms of player interest.
--At the end of the round, whichever team has more of the player's interest wins that round.
--if there are multiple rounds of battle for a highly-rated recruit, schools with more badges have an advantage in battle, as they should. So having a three-star academic program could be hugely important versus having a one-star program, for example.

I think that's going to work. Lots and lots of balancing issues, obviously, but it corresponds to football and it's interesting (to me, at least). Plus there's very much a strategic element in terms of which badges you want to use based on a recruit's current interest level versus the other team in the battle.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Quadrilateral Cowboy

This is an unexpected treat.

Quadrilateral Cowboy, the latest project from the extraordinarily interesting people at Blendo Games (makers of Atom Zombie Smasher and Thirty Flights of Loving), has a release date, and it's soon.

July 25, to be exact.

Here's more info from RPS: Jack In To Quadrilateral Cowboy On July 25th. Plus, the Steam page: Quadrilateral Cowboy.

I see so many games now that are basically copies of other games, but I've never said that about a Blendo game, and I'll be playing this day one.

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Doughnut Sketch

This is one of those things that is probably much funnier while it's happening than when I try to explain it a few days later  (very sorry about that). Or maybe I've already explained it once, which would be even more embarrassing, but here goes.

For about five weeks now, Eli 14.11 and I have been mentioning The Doughnut Sketch.

This originated when we were in line at Krispy Kreme, and the man in front of us was picking out a dozen doughnuts in the slowest, most excruciating way possible. He weighed every decision like we were at Defcon 1 and a mistake would cause nuclear annihilation.

In his defense Krispy Kreme has 32 different doughnut trays in the display case, and while there are a few duplicates, there must be at last 20 varieties to choose from.

"So do you know what doughnut shops were like in the Soviet Union?" I asked Eli 14.11 while we basked in line.

"No, what were they like?" he asked.

"There were still all these doughnut trays," I said, pointing at the display case, "but there were only glazed doughnuts."

"In every tray," Eli said, laughing.

"All exactly the same," I said, "but people wanted to pretend they still had the illusion of choice, so if someone was buying a dozen, they'd take just as long to choose as we would. One from tray 7, two from tray 12, and--oh man, only one left--I guess I'll take one from tray 17."

"All glazed," Eli said.

"That's right," I said, "and when he got home, he told his wife that what he loved about that particular doughnut shop was all the variety."

There's some kind of weird zen koan in there somewhere, I think. Or some kind of counterpoint to the koan where the zen student cut down everything in his backyard except one flower, and when the zen master arrived, he complimented his student on his beautiful garden.

So now, if we're ever in a situation where there only appear to be choices, it's called The Doughnut Shop.

Friday, July 08, 2016

Friday Links!

Wally has more links later on, but I wanted this to be separate, because it is a beautifully written, fascinating, and painful article: The Negro Motorist Green Book and Black America’s Perpetual Search For A Home.

From John Willcocks, and these are stunning images: The Somme during the first world war and now – interactive.

From Will, and by any standard, this is incredible: the Megaprocessor (seriously, you need to go read this).

From DQ Reader My Mom, and this is quite amazing: Piano Juggler.

From Eric Higgins-Freese, and I found this quite surprising: The Typical American Lives Only 18 Miles From Mom.

From Hennie van Loggerenberg, and this is an interesting read: From Iceland's Viking clap to All-Blacks' Haka: Five sports traditions you need to know.

From C. Lee, and while this is preliminary research, it is potentially groundbreaking: Targeting Proteins, Fighting Dementia. Next, and if you think chess is complex, just wait: Begin Japanology - Shogi. Here's more: The Japanese Chess Shogi.

From Steve, and I found this quite affecting and poignant (although I can't explain why): THEREMIN - Over The Rainbow. Next, and this is entirely amazing, it's Ambiguous Cylinder Illusion by Kokichi Sugihara.

From Wally, and this is an incredible story: DNA from ‘chewing gum survey’ tied suspect to 1976 murder. Next, and this is a terrific read, it's Maine man hooks fishermen with 1900s reproductions. Here are some beautiful and poignant images: Battle Of The Somme - 100th Anniversary. This is a fascinating read: How J.R.R. Tolkien Found Mordor on the Western Front. One more, and it's both long and an excellent read: The (63rd) Royal Naval Division: Sailors in the First World War trenches.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Reasonable Possibilities

"What do you think caused that dead circle of grass in the backyard?" Gloria asked.

"I'm guessing satanic rituals," I said. "Some sort of undead revival. There may be corpses."

"I was thinking a trampoline," she said.

"OR A TRAMPOLINE," I said. "Also possible."

A Desk

My new study is a bit smaller than it was previously, so I decided to replace my desk (which was 15 years old and falling apart anyway).

Here's what I found, and it took about two hours to put together:

Not a great picture, but a very nice desk that fits into the corner, has a bit of storage space, and has a lovely cherry finish. Not real cherry wood, but a nice impersonation.

Cost? $75 on Amazon. That's a pretty phenomenal deal.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

The Greatest Rack

Eli 14.11 has been working on advanced Rubik's Cube solving.

I can't really explain it--he sort of flips it behind his back and it's solved--but it's very impressive. It's not really a trick, either, just a deeper understanding of the cube-solving algorithms.

"It feels kind of strange going to a new high school," he said while we were driving through town yesterday. "Like lunch. Where does the new kid sit at lunch?"

"Here's an idea," I said. "Imagine this scene. You walk into the cafeteria and everyone is looking at you because you're the new kid. You take out the Rubik's Cube, then do that move where you solve it behind your back. The nerd table immediately pulls out a chair for you and resumes eating."

"Oh god," he said. "I could almost see that actually happening."

We had lunch at Tom+Chee yesterday, and on the way back to the car, we saw a little girl who was walking with her parents. She was about three, and was flipping her feet out and jumping and spinning around. "In a spiritual sense, that's me," Eli said.


Eli was getting a new pair of goalie pants, and he was trying them on at the Livonia Perani's, which is the biggest hockey store I've ever seen.

I said something that was definitely in the smartass category, and he whirled around and hit me with the goalie pants.

Goalie pants have some heft to them.

I'm not sure how, but I got racked. Doubled over. Stayed there.

Eli laughed, then apologized, then laughed again. "Are you really hurt?" he asked. "How could I have hit that target?"

"Are you kidding me?" I asked. "That was the trench run in Star Wars."

He laughed for so long that it's the last thing I remember.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

On Height

Eli 14.11 is 5' 11 1/2" now.

He had a private lesson last week (hey--he can have private lessons now!), and the shooter was a (very nice) kid who played in the BCHL last season.

He's 20.

Hockey players, at least in junior hockey, are always referred to by their birth years. So you don't say "I'm 12," for example, you'd say "I'm an '04".

They were chatting during a break in the session. "So, you're what--a '97?" the shooter asked.

Eli laughed. "I'm an '01," he said.

"Jesus f-ing Christ!" said the shooter, and he skated off, laughing.

On Learning

We had what I thought was a great idea to learn about the Grand Rapids area (and I probably mentioned this before--if so, sorry): get a map and mark off a 10x10 grid. 100 squares to explore, and we would notate all the interesting stuff that seemed to warrant additional time.

What I didn't realize, though, is how scarce paper maps are today.

I've shown Eli 14.11 one of the big, foldable paper maps before. "How did anyone find anything with one of these?" he asked, and that's a good question, because paper maps were hard to use.

If you're too young to remember, they were hard to use because there was no reference to your current location, which is what makes Google Maps so brilliant (among many other reasons). So
you could see a dead representation of the area around you with a map, but if you didn't know where you were, you would still be very lost. Plus, trying to read a paper map as you were driving was a bad idea, but you almost had to do it sometimes.

Reading and using paper maps was definitely an acquired skill, a craft.

Now, though, with the much superior Google product, and with almost everyone having a phone, paper maps are on their way out. That seems impossible to me, but it's true.

Today, though, I found a big map of Grand Rapids that I could order online, so we'll still get to do our grid explore project. It just feels strange to not be able to walk into a convenience store and see a big rack of paper maps.

I've noticed something else about Google Maps, and it's related to how I learn. I'm learning how everything connects together more slowly because I realized that when I'm using Google Maps, I tend to ignore street signs. I'm just sort of in auto-pilot mode, listening, but I'm not seeing anything.

I didn't realize this until yesterday, but when I did, I started using Google Maps to plan out a route, then turned it off while I drove, trying to find landmarks and cues so that I actually know where I'm going.

We're still unpacking a billion boxes, and there will probably be Grand Rapids/moving in posts for another few days, but that's because driving Eli to/from the rink and unpacking boxes is basically my entire life right now.

Oh, and tennis. We are playing a ton of tennis.

Monday, July 04, 2016

A Late Happy Canada Day

Happy holiday to our better half, and DQ VB.NET Advisor Garret Rempel sent this in:
How to be a Canadian.


The movers came on Friday and delivered all of our stuff.

It is utter chaos around here--still--although a decent amount of stuff has been put away. Very, very tired.

I've noticed a few things:
1. Good vs Well
In Texas, many people will say "good" when you ask them how they're doing. In Michigan, though, almost everyone says "well".
2. Soda vs Pop
It's called "soda" in the south. It's called "pop" in Michigan.
3. Driving here is difficult because it's a totally different approach to traffic management. In Austin, it was all stop lights. The city is so big that not many stop signs exist anymore. Grand Rapids, though, has a ton of stop signs, and learning which intersections are 4-way stops and which are 2-way is going to take a while. Plus, the entrance ramps to highways are very, very short in quite a few places.
4. Everyone is so nice here. Can't say that enough.
5. In Austin in summer, everyone exercises before 9 a.m., and before 8 if possible. If you want to play tennis on Saturday and aren't at the courts before 8, you're not playing. It's so incredibly hot in summer that it's miserable to exercise even in mid-morning.

Here, though, when the average high is in the low 80s (maybe not even that high), people exercise all day long. Tennis courts start to slowly get more full around 9:30 a.m. There's no hurry to exercise because you can do it all day, which is quite enjoyable.
6. The breeze always feels cool. It's not that baking oven wind that you get during Texas summers, where there's literally not one second in the day that feels cool.
7. There's a shed in our backyard that is so, so much more than a shed. The previous owners actually turned it into a livable space, even though it's probably only 100 square feet (if that much). That's eventually going to be my office, if I can work it out.
8. The pace here is slower, and in particular, our street is very, very quiet. Boy, that's nice.

Friday, July 01, 2016

Friday Links!

From Steven Davis, and I always wondered about this: Why Does a Tire Company Publish the Michelin Guide? Also, and this is a sad story: It's brother and sister against brother and sister in bitter fight over control of Frank Zappa's legacy. Next, and this is quite incredible: New crowdsourcing project “Decoding the Civil War”. These guys are unbelievably skilled: Taiwan’s Spintop Masters. This is a disgrace: The Fining of Black America.

More links from Steven, but I'm breaking up the paragraphs to make it easier to read. This is outstanding: Chatbot lawyer overturns 160,000 parking tickets in London and New York. Next, and this is a fascinating read: Why bad ideas refuse to die. This is also terrific: How the mafia is causing cancer. Good grief, these are ALL excellent reads, including this one: The Hidden Messages of Colonial Handwriting.

From C. Lee, and this is an excellent read: Prince, Bowie and Haggard: Icons? Legends? What’s the difference? Also, an interview with Jay Rubin, who has translated many of the wonderful books of Haruki Murakami:Jay Rubin /Translator, Professor emeritus Harvard University. Next, and I would certainly like to try this: Inside Silicon Valley’s Robot Pizzeria.

From Christopher S., and this is fascinating: Did Jesus Have A Wife?

From Jesse Leimkuehler, and this brings back some memories: Before Fantasy Football Became a Multi-Billion Dollar Industry, there was Strat-O-Matic.

From DQ VB.NET Advisor Garret Rempel, and hooray for Canada: Canada is the least xenophobic country in the Western world. Here's why.

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