Friday, March 30, 2018

Friday Links!

Leading off this week, from Brian Brown, and it's an incredible story: Bleeding out.

Boy, this will make you think: Gun Fatalism Is Reasonable in a Terrifying Country. Also, and this is incredible: How clean indoor air is becoming China's latest luxury must-have.

From C. Lee, and this is terrific: Hawking Taught Us How to Be Wrong. This is absolutely phenomenal and nuanced: The Wound in the Willows. About time: How to stop birds smashing into windows. This is remarkable: The World's Oldest Working Planetarium. A fascinating story: Meet the Female Inventor Behind Mass-Market Paper Bags. Very, very thoughtful: Yoko Taro Talks About How Freedom In Video Games Is Defined.

From Theo Halloran, and this is quite amazing: New Human 'Organ' Was Hiding in Plain Sight.

From Rob Funk, and it's a nice story: Stoneman Douglas hockey team now aiming for national title.

From Wally, and this is very clever: Artist Replaces Billboards with Photos of the Landscapes They’re Blocking. This is quite interesting: Check your hat. Lots of interesting data here: Pubs in danger: Six charts on how the British drink.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Frivolous Photograph Friday

Sure, it's Thursday, but alliteration!

This first photograph proves conclusively that absolutely everyone hates the Flyers:

Now, my favorite celebrity from the NCAA tournament, and I desperately want one of the bobbleheads. Enjoy Sister Jean:

What makes me love Sister Jean is not that she's a 98-year-old chaplain, it's that she's a 98-year-old chaplain who, in the pre-game prayer, always asks God to help the referees call the game fairly and not screw her team. That's next level.

Next, if you need to put on tape for an injury, it shouldn't look like leaves on a banana tree. This is not a fresh look:

I gave a card to Eli 16.8 when his hockey season ended. Curiously, they don't have a "It's Thursday Night and Thank God I'm Not Packing a Bag" card, so I had to make my own:

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

What is Happening

The NFL announced this yesterday: NFL passes rule against lowering head to initiate contact with helmet.

Details: The NFL has made a major rule change aimed at player safety, banning all plays on which a player lowers his head to initiate contact with his helmet.

“It is a foul if a player lowers his head to initiate and make contact with his helmet against an opponent,” the new rule says, according to the NFL. “The player may be disqualified. Applies to any player anywhere on the field.”

Phew, I thought. That's long overdue, given the data that exists about concussions/head trauma and CTE. Make it illegal to hit the head, and make it illegal to hit with the head.

Common sense, right?

Much to my dismay, I took a quick look at the comments section following this post on Pro Football Talk (please note, this is a superset of idiots, not one idiot):
It will be digital touch soon, maybe they can have teenagers play then as well.

Well might as well play two hand touch. 

Is this the shark? Is the NFL officially jumping it with this latest rule change?

How many years are we from breaking out flags and dropping the pads?

So basically, another rule that ends football as we know it.

This rule changes do NOTHING except make it impossible for viewers to watch a game.

…AND another rule…IF you are caught head slapping your teammate during warm ups, or after a great play, its an automatic ejection! DO NOT TOUCH THE HEAD.

Just another nail in the lid of the NFL coffin.

Nearly all concussions happen on plays after the ball is snapped. See where we’re going?

The NFL needs to stop giving in to the media. Boxers get punched in the head over (that’s the whole purpose of boxing) and over with no helmet and no one is taking shots at them.

The couch warriors are outraged, all right. Outraged that the league is being forced by liability concerns (because come on, we know that's why) to take head trauma seriously.

It's outrageous that the game should have fewer head injuries because by god, head injuries are entertainment, America!

I'm trying to think of something funny to say about people who are absolutely incapable of a coherent thought, but I've got nothing, because I'm really concerned that these people are taking us all down with them.

Tomorrow: something light and amusing, like photos or something.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Winning Winning Winning in Games (part two)

I don't have time to get into this today, but I'm going to do it anyway.

"Hey, I have a gameplay element I want to see in Fortnite," I said to Eli 16.8. We were on the way to rink, which is stunning, I know.

"What is it?"

"The one thing I don't like is that there's not much reason for in-close combat," I said. "So if you get close enough to touch another player, you can possess them. And they can't get their body back for at least ten seconds. So you could possess a guy with superior weapons, kill him, and play as him--with your gamertag--for the rest of the round."

"That's a terrible idea," Eli said. "Literally no one would play that."

"Why?" I asked.

"This is why everyone plays Fortnite," he said. "It's so simple that you can understand it in seconds: find a weapon, shoot other players, win. And it's like the The Hunger Games. That's it."

He's right.

Curiously, as I thought about the first game I could remember that gave me the drip-drip-drip winning feeling, I settled upon an unlikely candidate: Mario.

Super Mario Bros., for the original NES. Coins. COINS. COINS!!!!

There was plenty of winning on each level. Every few seconds, it seemed.

The difference, of course, between a Mario game and Battle Royale games like Fortnite is that Mario games have secrets and explorations and all kinds of wonderful things that can't be easily found. Fortnite, in contrast, is paper-thin, but it shares that constant feeling of success.

Compare a game like Super Mario Bros. to Pac-Man. Pac-Man was near constant-tension interspersed with invulnerability. You were helpless most of the time, and could only avoid the ghosts. Mario went in a totally different direction, including mechanics like eating mushrooms to become giant-sized. As a player, you never felt helpless, because there was always a counter. That gave you an entirely different feeling as you played.

What I find disturbing now is that it appears that our collective need for "winning" has shaped how we consume media (or, quite possibly, the shape of media has created our collective need). Journalism isn't investigation anymore--it's winning or losing, and that winning or losing has to be clearly defined in the title of the article, because most people won't even bother to read it.

It's consumption with no intent to understand.

It's Fortnite media consumption, instead of Mario, and it's crippling us.

During a Day

There is a man who always comes to the YMCA in a kilt, which seems remarkable until it's no longer remarkable at all. He is sturdy, and has grey gorse hair. I was walking down the long ramp toward the workout area this morning, and he was coming up as I was going down. I heard music and realized he was playing the harmonica.

Monday, March 26, 2018

How I Came To Play Northgard (a 27-step process)

1. See that Steam has the Settlers 7: Gold Edition on sale for $4.99.
2. Buy Settlers 7: Gold Edition.
3. Install Settlers 7: Gold Edition.
4. Click "Play".
5. Update Uplay Launcher.
6. Update Settlers 7: Gold Edition.
7. Update Uplay Launcher a second time.
8. Update Settlers 7: Gold Edition a second time.
9. Update Uplay.
10. Update Uplay Launcher a third time.
11. Update Uplay a second time.
12. Create an account with Ubisoft.
13. Express surprise that I can't use "idiotubisoft" as a user name.
14. Express more surprise that "muffin" is a restricted word, too.
15. Log into my new Ubisoft account.
16. Launch Settlers 7.
17. Stare in wonder at a home screen for the game that includes multiple icons for the Ubisoft store and god knows what else.
18. Adjust game settings.
19. Keep staring at home screen, feel rising anger. Decide to hate Ubisoft with the heat of 1,000 suns.
20. Uninstall Settlers 7.
21. Uninstall Uplay Launcher.
22. Return to Steam store.
23. Purchase Northgard.
24. Install Northgard.
25. Click "Play".
26. Seconds later, the game begins.
27. Smile.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Friday Links!

From Steven Davis, and this might be the first furniture thought-piece I've ever linked to (and it's a great read): What is the Future of the Past?

From C. Lee, and boy, this is tempting: Build A Killer Amiga Emulator For Under $100 With The Raspberry Pi 3. This was an amazing woman: Obituary: Millie Dunn Veasey, pioneering sergeant turned rights activist. This is intriguing: The Mystery of the Continuously Functioning Battery From 1840. And so is this: What scientists found trapped in a diamond: a type of ice not known on Earth. Both amusing and thoughtful: The Secret to a Longer Life? Don’t Ask These Dead Longevity Researchers. This is not good: Most Americans think artificial intelligence will destroy other people’s jobs, not theirs.

From Wally, and this is fascinating: 'Grandma's food': How changing tastes are killing German restaurants - and the future of them may be in Richmond. This is very clever, and almost hypnotically slow: Rube Goldberg spinners. This is brutal: Toxic Management Cost an Award-Winning Game Studio Its Best Developers.

From Ken Piper, and it's quite remarkable: Dead man balking: Court rejects Romanian man's claim that he is, in fact, alive.

The future: Meet the startup that makes milk—without cows.

From Griffen Cheng, and this is thought-provoking: How Psychopaths See the World.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Winning Winning Winning in Games

DQ Film Advisor And Nicest Guy In The World Ben Ormand sent me an e-mail recently.

This is always a good thing.

Here's an excerpt (in reference to something I wrote a few weeks ago): 
I had a thought about the difference between gaming when I was a kid and gaming today.  It's something I think about a lot when I listen to / watch my kids becoming gamers raised on things like Fortnight and COD:WWII, especially my youngest.  

Gaming used to be about a sense of accomplishment, a sense of satisfaction for finishing, like reaching the end of a good book.  Now I think gaming has become much more about winning, about outlasting, about becoming the mythical Best.  

Eli 16.8 plays Fortnite (Battle Royale version) a bit. I've played a few rounds, and watched him play quite a few more.

Here's the Wikipedia description:
As a battle royale game, Fortnite Battle Royale features up to 100 players, alone or in small squads, attempting to be the last player alive by killing other players or evading them, while staying within a constantly shrinking safe zone to prevent taking lethal damage from being outside it. Players must scavenge for weapons and armor to gain the upper hand on their opponents. The game adds the construction element from Fortnite; players can break down most objects in the game world to gain resources they can use to build fortifications as part of their strategy.

It's an incredibly clever game design, particularly because it accommodates everyone's play style. You can go completely aggro, or turtle, or anywhere in-between, and you can still be successful (up to a point). Plus, there's a counter that always shows you how many players are left in the round, so even as you cower in a shed somewhere, someone else is getting taken out, and you're having a "winning" moment while you hide.

Plus, the rounds only last (at most) around 15 minutes, and if you die early, you can hop back into a new round within 60 seconds of your death.

What this game design focuses on, to an incredible degree, are winning moments. That counter going down feels like a win every time. Even if you're an awful player, you only have one death moment, and you'll have many more players go out before you.

Even when you lose, you feel like you won.

It's all about winning, to an incredibly compressed degree, and that speaks to Ben's point. Games today, particularly the most popular ones, are all designed to give you the drip-drip-drip of victory. Hell, the entire genre of battle royale games seem to exist solely to give players that feeling.

When I played Ultima IV (back in the sixteenth century), I played for hours where not that much happened, really. Then I'd suddenly find a ship, when I didn't even know the game had ships. One night, around 2 a.m., behind a castle, I found a balloon.

I played until dawn because I found a balloon.

I played games mostly because I loved the exploration, and finding cool things didn't feel like winning, it felt like revealing. I was revealing the game, and searching would make it unfold it in front of me.

It was wonderful, and it wasn't competitive in the slightest. If I wanted to compete--and often I did--I'd play a sports game.

Now, though, these games have all become sports games, or at least, they evoke sports games, because there are winners and losers. Unlike sports games, though, there are many more winners than losers, because the game is tuned to produce as many winners as possible.

Everything plays to our egos now.

I think I'm going to keep exploring this on Monday, talking about how this ties into media consumption in general. Or not, because by Monday there may be three other rabbit holes I'm peering down.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

A Correction

On further reflection, it is undoubtedly true that there are plenty of 24-year-old, home schooled white men who DON'T go on bombing sprees, so claiming that those characteristics are somehow indicative of anything is unfair.

It does seem alarming, though, that disaffected, angry white guys in their twenties are involved in so many bad things, things that are beyond comprehension to normal people.

Austin, and Belfast

I was going to write about the Austin bombings today, but the bastard blew himself up last night.

24. White. Home-schooled. The only thing missing is "white nationalist". Well, it's early.

We are incredibly sensitive to bombings in this country, because they happen so seldom. School shooting? That's Wednesday.

In other countries, when there are school shootings, laws are passed and people turn in weapons. Not here.

That's not what I want to talk about today, though, so let's move on. Let's talk about Bloody Friday.

I don't remember when I became interested in Belfast, and what happened there in 1972. Oh, I do remember--it was when I went to London on business in the late 1990s and couldn't find a single trash bin at the train station. It was kindly explained to me that there were no bins because that's where bombers put their bombs.

Sobering, to say the least.

So I started reading, working my way backwards, and eventually I got to Belfast in 1972.

In one year, over 1,300 bombs were detonated in Belfast. Car bombs, usually, as that was the preferred method used by the IRA. ANFO (ammonium nitrate-fuel oil) bombs, to be more specific.


When I say "car bomb", it gives no reference to explosive power, so let me narrow that down for you. A car bomb in Belfast in 1972 was usually powerful enough to hurl cars at least fifty feet high.

That takes two words and gives them dimension, doesn't it?

The urban population of Belfast in 1972 was about 400,000. The Austin urban population is about 2,000,000 (and it's much more spread out). So over three car bombs a day were going off in a physical area 1/10 the size (maybe even smaller).

Three a day!

I don't know many people who can even conceive of that. I can't.

Oh, and to clarify: please understand that none of this was written to minimize what happened in Austin. It was more that what happened in Austin vibrated a string, and the Belfast string vibrated as a result.

From the Wayback Machine

I think that's the stick Jack Campbell gave him after a few Texas Stars players went to one of Eli 10.4s practices (or maybe 9.4--not sure). 

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Maybe Not As Much Spring As I'd Hoped

It's the first day of Spring and I can't feel my fingers.

It's beautiful and sunny, temperature 38F (wind chill 24F), and I'm wearing three layers plus a heavy jacket, flannel jeans, and heavy shocks and shoes. And gloves.

Still, after about twenty minutes, the feeling starts to leave my fingers.

I'm in the backyard with Eli 16.8, feeding balls into a pitching machine. There's a hockey net in the yard, and he's standing in front of it, catching ball after ball with his glove.

This is a real pitching machine. It can throw 70+ MPH at 46 feet, and Eli is about 10 feet closer than that. We have 50 7.5" baseballs (about 20% smaller than a regular baseball), and I feed him 300-400 balls in a regular session.

This machine is straight-up amazing. The pitches it can throw:
left-hand curve
right-hand curve
left-hand slider
right-hand slider

That's right--it can throw a knuckleball. A good one, too.

The nastiest pitch for him to catch seems to be the splitter, because it has a filthy drop at the end. Pucks do that, though, so we're basically creating every combination of speed, spin, and location we can, so that when he's on the ice, he's seen every trajectory that can possibly happen.

We even have an inflatable bopper (ninja on one side, boxer on the other) that can stand a few feet in front of Eli and act as a screen.

Standing. Butterfly. Half-split. Glove side. Blocker side. Ball. Next ball.

We have a screen behind the net so that these little baseballs don't go flying into the neighbor's yards, although once or twice a session, one gets through.

1,500 balls a week all spring and summer will be 25,000 balls by the time school starts in the fall.

Limited Utility

The only reason anyone should ever, EVER use Amazon's Silk browser is if they're feeling suicidal and want one more thing to push them over the edge.

Monday, March 19, 2018


I was walking to breakfast this morning when I saw a women on the other side of the street.

You know the hardcore walking type--thin, arms high, eyes focused like a laser straight ahead. She was moving, too.

Behind her were three dogs: a boxer, a terrier, and a schnauzer.

The boxer and terrier were (on leashes) directly behind their owner, with the boxer on the left. They, too, walked with absolutely no wasted motion, looking only straight ahead, perfectly in stride with their owner and each other.

Behind them, with about three more feet of leash available, was the schnauzer. Incredibly, he was also looking directly ahead, although with the shortness of his legs, he was running, not walking.

It was a dog peloton.

They turned off at the next intersection, but I saw them again ten minutes later. The boxer, given more leash from his owner, had dropped back with the schauzer, with the terrier solely in front now.

Still, they moved in perfect harmony. With expert timing, as it's been said.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Friday Links!

From C. Lee, and I always thought this was true: How Strength Training Makes You Faster. In the same vein: Do You Have What It Takes To Be An Olympian? Also related: Muscle loss in old age linked to fewer nerve signals. Boy, this is topical: How to Buy a Gun in 15 Countries. Smugglers! What turns some law-abiding Canadians into smugglers? The high price of imported cheese. Yes, it did: The 1968 Kerner Commission Got It Right, But Nobody Listened.

From Meg McReynolds, and here are some details on one of the most poignant songs ever written: Glen Campbell's Wichita Lineman: The unfinished song that became a classic. More: Behind The Song: “Wichita Lineman”.

From Wally, and this is very clever: 8 Bit Door Chime Plays Africa By Toto. This is fascinating: Bug Gaits for Animators. You don't see this every day: Motorcycle Helps Rider Recover Runaway Horse. What, my World Famous Fish Stick recipe is under scrutiny? The Dirty Secret of ‘Secret Family Recipes’

From Steven Davis, and this is certainly chilling: The Grisly Origins of Madame Tussaud’s Wax Empire.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Roger Bannister

Roger Bannister passed away last week.

He was the first person to run a sub-four minute mile, and he did it in 1954. Mount Everest was climbed for the first time almost exactly a year earlier.

Sixty-five years later, more people have climbed Mount Everest than run a four-minute mile.

Anyone who runs knows the feeling of your body just shutting down after running near peak speed for too long, like an engine seizing up. Pushing into this pain is brutally difficult, and Bannister pushed more deeply than anyone ever had.

He wrote a book about it all, and I still remember reading it for the first time. It was superbly written and unbelievably gripping, and I still remember individual passages decades later.

Remarkably, not long after he broke four minutes in the mile, electrifying the world, he retired from competitive running to become a neurologist (an outstanding one, by all accounts).

The New York Times has a nice obituary, and in it they mention that his training base for the race was twenty-eight miles a week.


There's also footage from the race itself (it was actually a time trial, not a race, but whatever), and it's mesmerizing.

Also, in a world that seems defined by crudeness and downright dickery these days, Roger Bannister was a good person. I've never read one negative word about him, never found one person or incident that made me think less of him. He was universally respected and beloved.

That was the real triumph of his life.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018


I thought of a way to describe to Eli 16.7 how games unfold.

Expectations are performance killers. Expectations of how a game should go, expectations of how you should perform. Expectations of fairness. Anything not focused on the present--without comparison--interferes with an athlete's ability to perform at the highest level.

It's a trap almost everyone falls into, including Eli.

"Here's a metaphor," I said.

"Uh-oh," Eli said, laughing. "Go ahead."

"A game is like a rope," I said.

"Explain that."

"There is a rope in front of you, and it's nearly the same length every time," I said. "You know that every length of the rope will have knots, but they will be always be in different places, because no two ropes are exactly the same. You pull on the rope and look for the knots, and when you find them, you dissolve them."

"Untie them?" he asked.

"Not exactly," I said. "This is more of a Zen thing. You seek the knots, and you focus until they fall away."

"Wow," he said. "That's actually good."

"A happy accident," I said.

Remember the Guy Who Was Leaving to Climb Mount Kilimanjaro?

He made it.

None of his friends did--they all wound up with altitude sickness--but he did. He also said he'd never do anything like it again.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

This is the Greatest Game Theme Song I've Ever Heard

Super Daryl Deluxe makes a case for rock-opera themes



The sound is coming from the kitchen area.

I walk in and see Gloria pounding some sort of animal flesh with Thor's Hammer.

"I don't want you to have to get into food beating," I said. "Can't we buy pre-beaten food?"

She laughed.

"Did you just shoot that and fillet it or something? Food comes in packages, not the backyard."

A Text

It's snowing Dippin' Dots.

Monday, March 12, 2018


My Mom turned 88 today.

I capitalize "Mom," no matter how I use it grammatically, because she always deserves the capital letter.


She was born just after the beginning of the Depression. Survived. Was raised by one of the meanest women I ever know. Survived. Her asshole husband--my father--left her. Survived. Raised two kids by herself. Survived.

After she retired, she converted from surviving to enjoying. We were out of the house. For the first time in decades, she had time to herself. She was able to think about herself again.

This is one of my favorite stories about Mom.

She started smoking when she was 15, or maybe it was 14, and smoked into her 60s. It was a fundamental quality of her life. She didn't smoke that much, but she smoked.

I tried to get her to quit. For decades.

One day, I went to see her, and she said she had quit. I was astonished.

"How was it?" I asked.

She said, "Hard."

I can't say enough good things about Mom (they're all good things). That old saying about character winning out is very true, at least when it comes to her. She is tough and principled and loving.

That's a very good combination for raising children, or being a human being.

Friday, March 09, 2018

Friday Links!

This is one of the best links collections we've ever had.

This is one of the most beautiful and poignant pieces of writing that ever existed. I'm not even going to tell you what it's about, but it's a sledgehammer, and if you only read one link this entire year, read this one: The Fourth State of Matter: A week in the author’s life when it became impossible to control the course of events.

This is a wonderful story on hacking the lottery: Jerry and Marge Go Large.

This is an amazing story, and it's not the first time: Is The Freshman Dominating Maryland High School Basketball Actually 20 Years Old?

This is both fascinating and useful to all of us who have a design interest in these little things: The Shape of Ancient Dice Suggests Shifting Beliefs in Fate and Chance.

From DQ Reader My Wife, this is a powerful and incredibly moving story: A 'Bright Light,' Dimmed in the Shadows of Homelessness.

From Steven Davis, and this is remarkable: Biological Pest Control: Bat Towers. Next, and this is stunning, it's World's Oldest Cave Art Found—And Neanderthals Made It.

From Ken Piper, and this makes sense: How ski warfare created biathlon.

From Griffin Cheng, and this is fascinating: What the world’s largest family tree tells us about marriage and death in the West. Next, and this is quite a story: The French Cruiser ‘Emile Bertin’ Escaped Halifax With a Belly Full of Gold. I do not want to have this job: Japan is trying to get doddering drivers to give up their licences.

From Wally, and this is interesting: Time Travel Cheat Sheet. This is truly fascinating: Voyages in sentence space. The title sounds dry, but this is really interesting: Average Annual Population of NYC Neighborhoods, 2010-2014. This is very, very nice: Delaware Linemen Help Get The Power On in Puerto Rico.

From Brian Witte, and this is incredible: New study tracks the evolution of stone tools.

From Fredrik Skarstedt, and don't blink: The Rubik's Contraption.

Thursday, March 08, 2018


DQ VB.Net Advisor Garret Rempel is a version of Alice in Wonderland, except instead of believing in six impossible things before breakfast, he does six impossible things before breakfast. He recently renovated his house, and the story is pretty remarkable. 

First off, here's the old space upstairs (third floor).

It was 300 sq. feet of usable space, with awkward ceiling issues in places. 

First, the demolition:

I'm not sure what person looks at that and says "Oh, I can do that myself," but Garret did. His notes:
I did the interior demo myself, though I had help carrying the debris out - in one 6 hour day I did over 1000 flights of stairs (up plus another 1000 down) carrying two large buckets of what was essentially cement (plaster).

Yeah, get away from me, crazy man. That's cyborg territory.

More details: The exterior demo tear down + new structure build + roofing took 3 days start to finish. 

Yeah, no words. I had a bunch of bad jokes on what takes me longer than three days start to finish, but consider yourself spared.

Next, the obligatory large piece of machinery bringing in something photo: 

Here's the new exterior in progress:

Inside in-progress:

Details: The interior (from studs to finished) took 2.5 months.

Here it is finished:

Inukshuk and secret door:

If you think that's a lot more space, you're right:
It increased our 3rd usable floor space from 300sqft to 600sqft, the room is now 21ftx27ft (with 6x10 cut out for the ensuite) features a new cubby crawl space (the inukshuk picture is a hidden door - the entire white part of that wall opens) and the vaulted ceiling is 6ft at the edges, and almost 10 ft at the peak.

I need to lie down.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Actual Life

A note from DQ Reader My Mom:
Do you have redbud trees in Michigan?  The ones here are in full bloom and are beautiful.

My response:
I have no idea. Do they grow in rinks?

My Mom is wonderful, by the way. Definitely a Badass of the Week.

Not the Best Student

She takes excellent notes, but lacks dedication to the task.

The Sound of One Paw Clapping

By the Light of the Silvery Moon

Eli 16.7 had practice at 3:30 Saturday afternoon, but he wanted to go in early for some extra work. Very early.

I don't even think I've ever seen the moon that high when I was getting up to go fish! It was 6:05, in case you're wondering. 

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

This is Bad Customer Service


I love La-Z-Boy. We have a couch that has two recliners and it's the best piece of furniture I've ever owned.

Each side of the couch has a little recessed handle, and when you pull that handle, the recliner lets pop up. It's fantastic.

Two weeks ago, Eli 16.7 pulled up on the handle on his side--and nothing happened. Well, a little piece of plastic tinkled out.

The handle itself was fine, but nothing happened when you pulled it out.

I called La-Z-Boy and talked to a customer service person. He asked which part broke. I wanted to say, "I bet it's the part that breaks on every single couch after about three years," but I didn't. So I gave him the information, and he sent a follow-up e-mail asking for pictures and whatnot.

Sent it all back the same day.

Oh, and the part was free, but shipping was going to cost $13. For a part that weighs a few ounces.


Two weeks pass. No part arrives.

I call back today, give my case number, and they confirm that they have my email. They also confirm that absolutely nothing has happened.


Now, does La-Z-Boy do anything different in response to their mistake? Absolutely not. It's still going to take an additional 5-7 business days for me to receive the part, and they're still going to charge me $13. No expediting, no waiving of the charge, nothing.

Even worse, when I asked if they'd send me some kind of notification that the part shipped out--so that I'd know they'd actually, you know, done something--that wasn't possible. I have to call back into their Customer Service center, wait on hold, and then prod them for verification.

That's stupid.

If you don't notify the customer, then they don't know if you actually shipped the part for over a week. Then they'll wait a few more days before they call, like I did. So anytime the company makes a mistake, it's magnified.

It's so easy to avoid those annoyed customer service calls, just by having the correct process in place, but they don't.

Monday, March 05, 2018


I'm opening it up to the floor.

I'm going to describe something to you, something very early, that's stuck on one thing. Please, if you think you have a solution, let me know.

You, the player, are a god, and you can see an adventuring party you're shepherding as they enter into battle. You're seeing the battle as if looking through a snow globe into a diorama.

You can create a global effect via the elements, or you can cast specific effects on one person.

What I can't figure out, though, is how the player knows when to intervene.

1. No numbers. No hit points decrementing.
2. No status bars.

In other words, status has to be conveyed without the conventional methods by which status is usually conveyed.

I've had a few ideas. For one, have each adventurer represented by a card (which blows up the diorama, doesn't it?), with different poses for different conditions. You could see the expression on their face (with about eight different ones possible) for their mental state, and the condition of their body as the physical state. That's a variation on the system used in "Guild of Dungeoneering", but without the hearts to show health.

Like I said, though, this blows up the diorama idea, and I know the diorama is right. So I need a visual way for the player to get information about how the battle is going, and to further complicate things, since he has the snow globe view, it's not a zoomed-in view, either.

This isn't a mechanics problem. It's strictly a visual one.

Thanks for reading this and thanks for any ideas you wish to share.

Friday, March 02, 2018

Friday Links!

This is a long and tremendous profile of a powerfully talented person: Donald Glover Can't Save You.

From Griffin Cheng, and this is remarkable: How a Sneak Attack By Norway’s Skiing Soldiers Deprived the Nazis of the Atomic Bomb.

A plethora of links from C. Lee:
Why Are These Hamsters Cannibalizing Their Young? (a staggering bit of detective work)
How a Library Handles a Rare and Deadly Book of Wallpaper Samples (fascinating)
The More Gender Equality, the Fewer Women in STEM (fascinating and strange)
These Are Not Your Father’s GMOs (also fascinating)
The brutal world of sheep fighting: the illegal sport beloved by Algeria’s 'lost generation' (brilliant)
You Should Thank Maurice Hilleman for Helping You Live Past the Age of 10 (a genius)

From Wally, and this looks like a mess: Here Come The Copyright Bots For Hire, With Lawyers In Tow. Not quite yet, maybe, but I think they're getting closer: The meatless Impossible Burger bleeds and sears, but wasn’t a crowd pleaser. Holy crap: Florida bass fishing can be dangerous. Not effective: Recovery team colossal fail. This is an absolutely amazing story: China’s American Imperial General. This is brilliant:  Encounter: Mark Twain Toasts Ulysses S. Grant.

From DQ Film Advisor and Nicest Guy In The World Ben Ormand, and it's both beautiful and a bit haunting: Skating on thin ice creates unusual sounds.

Thursday, March 01, 2018

What a World

It's hard to imagine a time when this was possible (from a book I'm reading):
Her father was a prospector, Will Ryan, burn in 1866 in Connecticut. His fortune always seemed one step ahead of him. He had worked on a whaling ship, been a surveyor, and spent much of his life prospecting for gold. 

Engineering Marvels

George likes us and children. He also likes one friend of Eli 16.6 who lives in Austin.

He will attack anyone else on sight.

Gracie likes most people, but doesn't like some females. She will, with the entirety of her seven pounds, try to intimidate anyone she doesn't like.

Cats. Mystery.

When Eli's girlfriend comes over, we have to take elaborate measures, using child gates.

"Okay, get the first gate and we'll put it at the top of the stairs," I said. "Wait a minute--we want the first gate to be at the front of the hallway. We don't need the second gate until they go downstairs."

"Do we want to put both of them behind the first gate, or just George?" she asked. "Where is Gracie?"

"Good grief," I said. "We're running a Panama Canal for Pets."

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