Friday, June 29, 2018

Friday Links!

Leading off this week, from Griffin Cheng, and this is a staggering story: The Rock That Fell To Earth. Also, and this is a great read, it's Welcome to Blaine, the town that Amazon Prime built.

This will absolutely blow your mind (in the best way): 12-year-old pianist improvises a sonata using 4 random notes drawn from a hat.

From Scott Z., and I posted this a few years back, but it's worth it one more time: THE INCREDIBLE TRUE STORY OF THE COLLAR BOMB HEIST.

James Lee sent this in, and it's both important and very difficult to read: Pixar’s Sexist Boys Club.

From C. Lee, and mistakes were made: Creep travels half the world to harass online teen gamer… and gets shot by her mom – cops. Predatory capitalism: The Demise of Toys ‘R’ Us Is a Warning. Gamestop will be dead soon: GameStop Seeks a Buyer, in Deal That Could Reshape Console Gaming. Well, this is unsettling: IQ scores are falling and have been for decades, new study finds. The future: The man who was fired by a machine. I had no idea: The Turkish Roots of Swedish Meatballs.

From DQ Reader My Wife, and this is incredibly gripping and tragic: Former NHL player Daniel Carcillo discusses head trauma and treatment.

From Wally, and this is a fascinating read: Preliminary Notes on the Adamski Scout Ship Photos. I have no words: Gadsby: A Story of Over 50,000 Words Without Using the Letter "E" by Wright. If you're into environment creation, this will amaze you: A Quick Creepy Forest Environment In UE4. Next, ticks! The tick that can make you allergic to meat is showing up in Maine. This is quite interesting: Why Disney Water Rides Smell Different.

From Chris Pencis, and these are excellent listens (British history podcast):
The End of the Age of AEthelflaed
War in the Five Boroughs

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Proven Results

We have an extremely small pantry.

I am a lover of snacks, usually crunchy, but I couldn't find my snacks in the tiny pantry. So I embarked on a sanity restoration project.

Behold, the results:

Opportunity lies above. Sheer chaos and possible revolution lies below.

To eat cake, you must first be able to find the cake. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

A New Friend

Eli 16.10s team had Secret Santa last year, and one of his teammates gave him a stuffed giraffe (he has a sticker on his goalie mask).

With him changing teams this season, he brought all his gear home from the locker room, and he put the stuffed giraffe on a chair in the living room.

It smells like him--robustly, thanks to being in the locker room for five months--and Gracie immediately became attached. Now she sleeps with the giraffe for most of the day.

Gracie is so dumb that she might think it's another cat, just one that doesn't move around much.

Here's her new perch:

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The New Parenting Phase

We flew to Minneapolis last Saturday, then drove three hours to Duluth. Now he's in a main NAHL camp.

Like I said before, it's a stretch to think that a NAHL team would take an '01, but he's hoping to impress teams so that he'll be in the forefront of their thinking when he tries out again next year.

The key to all this is making it to the all-star games at the end of camp. It's great to be invited to main camps, and to play well, but he's not close to making a team until he makes it into the all-star games. That's where the best 4-6 goalies in camp wind up.

Last week, before tryout results were announced, I realized that I'd reached a new phase of parenting.

Before, when there was a big decision coming up, or some kind of outcome, I always knew what would be best for him. I had an outcome to root for, because it was always obvious what was best.

Now, though, it's complicated.

I was deeply conflicted about him going back to the same program for a third year. There were just too many associated negatives, and I didn't feel like it would be any better this season. If he didn't make that team, though, and nothing else shook loose, he could wind up playing in high school for one season.

I could make a case for high school, though.

It's hard to get noticed in AAA, even if you're really, really good, and the program he was in didn't really promote their players at all.

In high school, I think they would do everything possible to promote him, and if he plays well enough, his numbers would be so dominant that scouts wouldn't hold the level of play against him.

Above all, I was frustrated that he wasn't appreciated. He was at the facility more than any kid in the program, his level of play was continually progressing, and was that appreciated?

Not really.

So high school would be a lower level of competition, yes, but he wouldn't be in the car ten hours a week (at least), and he wouldn't be sitting in a hotel room on the weekends. That would leave an enormous amount of time to ramp up his workouts and build his skills.

He would also be appreciated, and that would make me very, very happy. Everyone deserves that.

This is one of those situations where no matter the outcome, it's our job to make it the best outcome. There are positives in every possibility, and negatives, too.

He just has to keep getting better, no matter what.

Monday, June 25, 2018


We had this conversation before tryouts.

"You have to be the best goalie at tryouts, and they may still not take you," I said. "I'm getting a funny vibe from this coach."

"Me, too," Eli 16.10 said. "I think the decision may already be made, and it won't matter how I play."

"As long as you're the best, I'm strangely okay with that," I said.

He laughed. "What do you mean?"

"If you're the best, and they don't take you, it's on them," I said. "It will just be a ripoff. I'd rather have that happen than you wondering about what else you could have done."

"I get that," he said. Then he proceeded to be the best goalie, easily, in tryouts, and got ripped off.

We talked again the afternoon that they posted the team.

"I'm going to use a timeless bit of wisdom that I learned from Major League Fishing," I said (seriously, we watch that show every week, and it's hypnotic).

He laughed.

"Remember last week when the guy was fishing a stretch of water, and he wasn't getting much action and probably should have moved, but he was still getting a bite here and there?"

"I do," he said.

"He said 'I know I ain't doin' it right, but I'm doin' just enough to keep doin' it.' That's exactly how I felt about this program--they weren't quite the right fit, and it wasn't the best development environment, and they didn't really appreciate you, but--"

"It was just good enough to keep doing it," he said.

"That's right," I said. "So now we can't keep doing it. Now we get to find something better."

"I like that," he said.

"So do I," I said, "and we're only going to only focus on two things: an environment where you can get better fastest, and a place where you'll genuinely be appreciated."

"Agreed," he said.

"This hurts right now," I said, "but it's the best thing that could have happened for you."

What was he doing when he got cut? He was at the rink, working out with his trainer.

Did he stop his workout once he found out? I think you know the answer to that.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Friday Links!

What a story: The Trouble With Johnny Depp.

From DQ Reader My Wife, and it's long overdue: Jefferson's Monticello Makes Room For Sally Hemings.

From Wally, and this is incredible: Now THIS is a Nerf Blaster. This is absolutely fascinating: Romain Gary: the greatest literary conman ever? Here's a symphonic deep dive: War Stories | Maestro of the Resistance. This looks just fantastic: Vintage Cars: New York Transit Museum.

A set of excellent links from C. Lee. First, and this is amazing, it's The Lords of Midnight: on the legacy of a truly epic wargame. This is quite interesting: Common Problems When Translating Games into Japanese. This is fascinating: Aethelflaed: The warrior queen who broke the glass ceiling. I had no idea: Eating Like an Astronaut Means Kimchi for Koreans and Lasagna for Italians.

From Kevin Womack, and this is wildly impressive: Hart County grandmother kills rabid bobcat with bare hands.

From Steven Davis, and who knew? A sip of history: ancient Egyptian beer.

From Eric Higgins-Freese, and these are remarkable: McMoon: How the Earliest Images of the Moon Were so Much Better than we Realised.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Very Sad

Koko the gorilla passed away today. She was 46.

Koko was a warm and kind person, and I know "person" isn't technically correct, but she demonstrated qualities that many humans lack: kindness, warmth, and empathy.

By any standard, she was amazing. Her handler (Francine Patterson) estimated that she knew 1,000 symbols in sign language, and understood 2,000 spoken English words.

She also loved kittens, and cared for quite a few during her long life. She also loved Mr. Rogers, because who doesn't?

Here are a few stories, all with some video:
Koko the Gorilla, Famous for Learning Sign Language, Has Died
Koko The Gorilla Dies; Redrew The Lines Of Animal-Human Communication
Koko, the Cat-Loving Gorilla Who Learned Sign Language, Dies at 46 (excellent video of her and her kittens along with the story)

The groundbreaking research of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Birutė Galdikas greatly expanded our understanding of great apes and chimpanzees (and was more important in a scientific sense), but Koko bridged the gap between us in an extraordinarily personal way.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Foretelling

We watch "America's Got Talent." I offer no excuses. We do, however, skip all the personal interest fluff and just watch the performances.

There's something in AGT called "The Golden Buzzer", and it lets a contestant skip rounds and qualify for the live show. In show terms, it's a huge deal.

The golden buzzer never gets pressed more than once an episode, and they always show it last. 

There are a few prototypes that generally get the golden buzzer. We like to speculate.

"Guy in his late twenties, with a beard, singer," Eli 16.10 said.

"Singer, thirteen-year-old girl," I said.

The contestant emerges. She's tall, but young.

"Oh, no," Eli said.

"How old are you?" a judge asked.

"Here it comes," I said.

"I'm thir--"

"HOW DO YOU DO THAT?" Eli shouted, and then he burst out laughing and couldn't stop. Then I started laughing so hard I was crying, and I couldn't stop, either.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018


For Father's Day, we hit golf balls in the morning, then played tennis in the afternoon.

I haven't hit golf balls since we moved here, two years ago. That sounds ridiculous, but the day-to-day task list has been ridiculous for a long time, plus we're gone thirty weekends a year.

So, low expectations, but I actually hit the ball decently.

The range was part of a very small, urban course. I mean really small, because it's an 18 hole course only 4,500 yards long.

Actually, though, for me, that's perfect. Everybody was incredibly nice, it's very inexpensive ($5 for range balls, $15 to walk 18), and the course is in terrific shape.

I didn't have to hit many balls to get the bug again, and at those prices, I can actually walk a few rounds. Plus, it's ten minutes from the house.

None of that is the point.

The point is that it's time to get Eli 16.10 some lessons, because when he hits it straight (not often), his pitching wedge is going 160+, and his 6-iron is over 200.

I don't know the distance on his driver. I can't see that far.

Monday, June 18, 2018


For Father's Day, we went to see RBG.

There are very few people I hold in awe--clearly, if you've been around here for a while, you know that--but Ruth Bader Ginsburg is one of those people.

Particularly in a time when I find what government is doing completely incomprehensible, it's comforting to know that there are people who have dedicated their lives to things that are right and fair.

Imperfectly, but still dedicated.

I ordered a t-shirt.

There Can Be No Greater Name

I will never be able to adequately describe the unrestrained glee that seventh grade me feels when I use this as a character name. 

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Daily Challenge

If you're playing Slay The Spire (how could you NOT be playing it?), the Daily Challenge today is unbelievably fun.

Some of those challenges are more fun than others, but today you get an ultra-powerful deck, and regular enemies drop relics. Absolutely a great time.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Friday Links!

From C. Lee, and this is amazing: Researchers are keeping pig brains alive outside the body. This is a fascinating story: The Lesbian Pulp Fiction That Saved Lives. This is totally remarkable: An Ice Core Reveals the Economic Health of the Roman Empire. Alpha predator alert: Fox catches rabbit, then eagle swoops in. Incredible: How One Recalled SUV Destroyed $45 Million In Cars, Burned A Massive Ship, And Sparked A Legal Battle Between Ford And BMW.

From Kevin Womack, here's an eight-year-old drummer crushing Led Zeppelin: Led Zeppelin: Good Times Bad Times (8year old drummer ”Yoyoka"). Here's another, and it's even more amazing: Immigrant Song Led Zeppelin /7year old drummer "Yoyoka".

From DQ Reader My Wife, and this is quite nice: Mr. Rogers Had a Simple Set of Rules for Talking to Children.

From Steven Davis, and this is quite odd: The Wild Ancient Greek Drinking Game That Required Throwing Wine. Also, and these are stunning, it's The full horror of fighting in the trenches revealed: Fascinating colourised WWI pictures bring the 'the war to end all wars' to life.

From Wally, and I've never heard of this: Semordnilap. This is excellent: Russian Aces over Korea. This is so, so good: War List | Great Pretenders. These are terrifying: China's scariest outdoor attractions.

From Christopher Scott, and this is amazing: These Portuguese Libraries Are Infested With Bats—and They Like It That Way.

From Eric Higgins-Freese, and this is so great: Cyberpunk 2077, as told by Ciri.

From Griffin Cheng, and this is an incredible story: The Hidden History of Shanghai’s Jewish Quarter. This is excellent: How the Song ‘American Pie’ Reflected the Drastic Changes in American Culture From 1959 to 1971.

Thursday, June 14, 2018


Didn't make it. That's what he gets for going in and dominating tryouts.

He's not the first kid to get screwed in tryouts, and he won't be the last. And the sun will still come up tomorrow, as always. But this does hurt.


This is a tough day.

Eli 16.10 finished team tryouts for the 18u AAA team Tuesday night. Today, he finds out if he made the team.

This is, by far, the most likely team for him to make. If he does, then he's essentially on the same team he's been on for the past two years, although some of the kids from last year's team will be playing juniors.

This is the path we talked about--one year of 18u, then try to play in juniors (USHL or NAHL) for a year, hopefully drawing enough attention that he signs with a D1 school.

It's much more complicated than that, but that's the happy path.

If he doesn't make this team, then we'll spend the rest of the summer trying to shake something loose at the AAA level. Worst-case scenario, he'll wind up playing high school.

That's not a death blow, but it would be very, very tough. We've already talked about it, though, and at this level, the only thing that matters if whether he can get better this season. No matter where he's playing.

He was terrific in tryouts, and clearly, he's improved since the season ended in early March. There were goalies from all over, though--Boston, Atlanta, even Russia, and those are just the ones I know of--and tryouts are a funny thing.

So. Waiting.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Out Of Nowhere

I followed what was happening at E3, but it didn't seem like there was much of anything to write about.

BANG BANG KABOOM XV will be released, along with SAME AS LAST YEAR SPORTS XXV, and there's also THE GAME I REALLY WANT TO PLAY THAT WON'T BE OUT FOR TWO YEARS, but nothing seemed really notable.

Reading E3 articles led me to a rabbit hole, which led to a side rabbit hole, which led me to think about what kind of arcade game I would get if I actually could afford a real one.

It took me about five seconds to decide on Hyper Sports. 

Hyper Sports was Konami's successor to Track & Field, and was released to arcades in 1984. It had a double-button setup, for speed, and the reason I loved these games so much was because of the "pencil trick": putting a pencil in-between the buttons, with your index finger as a fulcrum, then tapping away on one end of the pencil with your free hand. It was sort of a drumming technique, and what it did was give you unbelievable amounts of speed. It felt like a skill.

That is, without question, my favorite arcade game memory, playing those games at a local 7-11 (in the corner, right next to the motor oil).

I spent a bit of time looking at how much the arcade cabinets cost. Anywhere from $2500-$3000. Then I found this, which is allegedly a new but retro-styled cabinet with an LCD monitor that can play all five games in the series. That was $1800, but that's still a lot of money (particularly when goalie lessons with the best goalie coach in the country run $175/hr).

Less than half an hour later, though, a miracle occurred.

Out of nowhere, a new game for the Switch was announced: Hyper Sports R. Based on a fine-tooth analysis of the trailer, it basically includes most of the events in Track & Field and Hyper Sports, with a couple of new additions.

Instead of pounding on the buttons, you swing the Joy-Cons, and I am 100% down for that. Yes, it might be terrible, but it's still very pleasing that Konami remembers its iconic franchise.

Oh, and a sports note that I almost forgot, which is absolutely notable: Madden is coming out for the PC this year. Modders, start your engines.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Shout Out

When we were in Muskegon for main camp, we had a few hours on Saturday morning in the hotel.

I looked for our favorites--SpongeBob, Curious George, Full House--but was stymied. So I went to PBS and saw Bob the Builder.

"Here we go," I said. "Here's Bob."

What followed was quite different from what I remembered. Shout out if you see a paintbrush, the narrator said.

"What is this?" I asked. "This is more Dora the Explorer than Bob the Builder."

"I know," Eli 16.10 said. "What is this?"

We watched for a few unsatisfying minutes.

"I don't agree with the creative direction this show's taken," I said, "starting with--ooh, PAINTBRUSH!"

Eli was sitting upright on the bed, and he started laughing so hard that his body slanted sideways and slowly slid to the mattress. He laughed for a long time. Every time he tried to get up, he started laughing again.

Finally, he was upright.

"I mean, I knew you were going to do that," he said, still laughing, "but just knowing how hard you were focusing on the screen nearly killed me."

Monday, June 11, 2018

An Update

"Wait, how do I get a point? Do I just empty the ice tray, or do I have to empty AND fill it?" Eli 16.10 asked.

"You have to do both," Gloria said.

"Emptying is demand. We have a supply issue," I said.

Minutes later, there was a big score update:

Yes, he wrote "fake news" by Gloria's score.

His "1" has remained blissfully undisturbed for five days.

Friday, June 08, 2018

Friday Links!

From Fredrik Skarstedt, and boy, is it terrifying: Looking for Life on a Flat Earth.

Here are two amazing nature links: Fascinating Experiment Suggests Bees Understand the Concept of Zero and In the World of Male Dolphin Alliances, Individual Names Identify Friends and Foes.

From Wally, and this is utterly fantastic: THE HARVARD MAP COLLECTION PRESENTS: WHERE DISASTER STRIKES. I believe both of these guys should go straight to concussion protocol: Goat Vs Cow. Cute overload: friends. This is epic: Fantastic French Publicity Caravans of Yesteryear. This is terrific: Letters from a Science Fiction Giant.

From Ken Piper, and this is the first I've heard of this: The days are getting longer – but very, very slowly. This could be disastrous: Hurricanes Are Moving More Slowly, Which Means More Damage.

From Eric Higgins-Freeze, and this is excellent: PEZ Visitor Center.

From Griffin Cheng, and this is interesting: Who Owns the New Land Created By a Volcano in Hawaii? Also, and I had no idea, it's How Ketchup Revolutionized How Food Is Grown, Processed and Regulated.

From Steven Davis, and this is fascinating: The oral history of the Dinosaur Input Device or: how to survive the near death of stop-motion.

From C. Lee, and this is a great read: Why are Dutch-Americans so different from the Dutch?

From Brett, and it's excellent: Collectors of mechanical keyboards share passion online, in person.

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Motivational Crisis

"I need to discuss something serious with you," I said to Gloria. 

"What?" She asked, alarmed. 

"I found an inspirational towel in the bathroom."

She laughed. "It was on sale!"

"I'm not opposed to inspirational towels," I said, "depending on the message. For instance, 'The only thing we have to fear is fear itself' is acceptable, as is 'If you find yourself in hell, keep going.' "

"I don't think they make those," she said, laughing. 

"Other good choices include 'What fresh hell is this?' and 'War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.' If you can find any of those, please get them immediately."

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

The NBA and Tanking

It seems like the NBA has a tanking problem. So does the NHL, and the NFL.

"Tanking" is when a team intentionally loses games toward the end of the season (by not playing their best players, generally) to improve their draft position.

Generally, the worse your record, the better your draft pick. Particularly in years where there are future superstars (Sidney Crosby for example, suck it Philly fan), teams are particularly tempted to go into the tank.

Leagues have instituted draft "lotteries" (where the worst team isn't guaranteed the first pick), but mostly, they haven't helped at all. Teams have even tanked themselves out of the playoffs in order to get into the lottery, thus defeating the entire purpose of having a lottery in the first place.

The Philadelphia 76ers have enshrined tanking as "The Process", but it's basically just doing a really shitty job for years and hoping the draft bails them out.

This is very, very wrong, and given that sports are an entertainment product, it's lousy entertainment, too.

I have an idea, and let's use the NBA as an example (it's basically the same for the NHL, too).

The last team in the playoffs in each conference (the #8 seed) is in the lottery. Every team that didn't make the playoffs is in the lottery.

Then, it's a random draw.

No weighting. Everyone has an equal chance.

This would do three things immediately:
1. Tanking goes away.
You can make the playoffs and still be in the lottery. Maybe, as an edge case, a team tries to be the #8 seed instead of #6, for example, but playoff games are HUGELY profitable for teams (because players are not paid their regular salaries), so there's a strong financial incentive against that (because they could screw up and miss the playoffs entirely).
2. Mid-tier teams have a chance to get much better via the draft.
This seems like a good thing. Is it better to help a terrible team (that tanked) to a point where they can barely get into the playoffs, or a #8 seed that could legitimately challenge for the conference finals with one or two more players?
 3. The NBA Draft Lottery would become an inconceivably huge event.
Huge. And it would be fun.

I don't see a downside, and it would force teams with bad organizations to improve their organizations, which is what should be happening already.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

The Interloper

I walk to a Subway near my house, on occasion. It's about 25 minutes away, and when I'm feeling too lazy to work out, I'll do this instead.

It's been branded "The World's Worst Subway", by me, and I think it's accurate. Something is always, always not right. A few examples:
--staff sleeping on love seats (yes, they have love seats)
--staff talking about their relationship issues at high volume
--staff on personal calls when you walk in, making the "just a minute" gesture to you
--all manner of food/sauces/drinks not available. One per visit.
--floor dirty first thing in the morning
--super annoying morning show on the radio at ultra-high volume

There's a much longer list than that, but it's a start. What I've never been able to do is encapsulate all that into how I feel when I walk into this particular Subway.

What I realized on my last visit, though, is that I do know the feeling: it's the feeling I get when I walk into someone else's home unannounced. 

Employees give you the "Well, I didn't invite you, but I guess I can rustle something up" look as they continue with their personal conversations.

I'm not the customer. I'm the interloper.

There's another Subway 7 minutes away, by car, and it is absolutely superior in every conceivable way. But it's too far to walk (almost an hour each way), so I continue to visit the Subway Of Sadness And Despair. Hey, that's a new title!

A Strange Problem

Blogger, which has been remarkably reliable forever, is acting up on me.

For years, it's emailed me a copy of all my posts, which is an option in the settings menu for the program. This makes it incredibly easy to keep track of what I write (particularly for a potential Eli 1-18 book someday, I hope).

For the last week or so, though, the emails haven't been sent, which means I'm going to have to manually copy every post I make until it works again. Big time waster.

Monday, June 04, 2018

Data Collection Quickly Revealed the Problem


Friday, June 01, 2018

Friday Links!

Sorry, misattribution of links is a real thing this week, as a few things were accidentally moved around. Steven Davis is listed twice, but there's only one. Wally's links might be correct, and might not.

Fools running down a hill, and delightful as always: The People Fell Down The Hill Chasing The Cheese Again.

Given the current state of our country, this is an amazing (and quite ironic) story: "Go For Broke": The Story Behind the Most Decorated Military Unit in U.S. History.

From Steven Davis, and it's dry (but interesting): Currency Reform In Ancient Rome. This is quite funny (bat badass): I Am The Night.

From Wally, and this is fascinating: The U.S. Army's Top Secret Arctic City Under the Ice! "Camp Century" Restored Classified Film. Cuteness alert! Where Maine’s wild critters go to get help. Very, very clever (turn down your speakers): Funny commercial - Frying shrimp in 1 second with Japanese style - Funny cooking. Maybe the  longest article about Qwerty you'll ever read: Why we can't give up this odd way of typing. Boy, we can use this on hockey trips: 10 Gas Station Snacks for Road Trips, Ranked. This is both thoughtful and melancholy: Who Will Buy Your Book? This would make an excellent (and lengthy) reading list: The 100 stories that shaped the world.

From Steven Davis, and this is fascinating: How Vincent van Gogh’s Market Was Tirelessly Built by His Sister-in-Law, Jo.

From Eric Higgins-Freese, and this is quite interesting: How to avoid the 'midlife slump' and make your 40s a much happier decade.

From C. Lee, and this is excellent: How Men Can Learn to Have Healthier Conflict, With Divorce Attorney James Sexton. This is terrific: How porting to the PSVita improved performance everywhere else.

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