Friday, November 30, 2018

Friday Links!

Well, out of nowhere, a huge week for links. Enjoy.

Leading off, a wonderful and intricate article: How Players Used Shotguns to Tear Open the Fabric of Reality in 'Spelunky'.

Jesus! 'You guys might think I'm crazy': Diary of US 'missionary' reveals last days in remote island.

From Steven Davis, and it's certainly something: 21 Classic Images Of Japanese Fart Battles From The 19th Century.

From Wally, and this is both alarming and fascinating: Rise of the Manipulation Platforms. This is very useful: NPR’s Book Concierge. This is absolutely terrifying, but with a twist: The godfather of fake news. This is a truly enjoyable read (also, I miss really good barbecue): On The Road With RL Reeves Jr: Blue Door Smokehouse In Lexington, Kentucky. Ah, memories: First encounter: COMPUTE! magazine and its glorious, tedious type-in code. This is very useful info (about fireproof safes): A lesson re-learned from disaster.

From C. Lee, and it's terrific: The Hobo Hieroglyphs: Their Secret Symbols, Explained. Amusing: Oxford’s Library Once Branded Its Sauciest Books With a Greek Letter. This is absolutely remarkable: Meet Zora, the Robot Caregiver. Ah, Japan: 'I hire a man to pretend to be my daughter’s dad - and she doesn't know'. Incredible: The Costs of the Confederacy. This is quite incredible: The first journey of an aircraft with an ion drive. And a story about the man who made the ion engines for Japan's Hayabusa probes: Hitoshi Kuninaka: Never Say No to a Challenge. This will leave you speechless: Children of North Korean Mothers Find More Hardship in the South.

From Geoff Engelstein, and this is just amazing: How One Murder Could Reshape Oklahoma.

From Steven Davis, and this is a terrific read: Peeling Back the Paint to Discover Bruegel’s Secrets.

Finally, closing up this week, remember that riveting story about the hamburger restaurant last week? Well, maybe not so much: Did a Rave Review Really Shut Down Portland Burger Bar Stanich’s? Maybe It Was the Owner’s Legal Troubles.

Thursday, November 29, 2018


Really, what the hell does this mean?

Here are two pictures of Ohio St. fans. This is clearly a look, but a look of what, I just can't figure, although I respect the helmet extension on the first guy. That's next-level when painting your face, wearing beads, having logo sunglasses that impede your vision, and wearing a jersey with buttons just isn't enough.

Lace-up beach towel around the shoulders. Also next level.

Lastly, this car was outside the McDonald's where I went on Thanksgiving morning for a quick breakfast. My fervent dream was that I would come out and someone would have driven it away, but sadly, that didn't happen.

Sir. Sir!

I'm Generally Very Polite

We had Chinese food for lunch last week.

"My fortune says 'You display the wonderful traits of charm and courtesy.' Well, that's half right," I said.

"Which half?" Eli 16. 3 asked.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018


We watched a dog show on Thanksgiving. Not sure which one, because if it's a dog show, that's where we stop distinguishing.

[side note: service dogs are awesome. Not making fun of them. I'm making fun of people, as usual.]

The dogs were being described in unfamiliar terms.

Lester Lee is not just a show dog. He's also a service dog, providing therapy for his injured owner. 

"Oh my god, that dog has a backstory," I said. "Credential burnishing."

Tommy can also skateboard. 

"Wait, did I just hear resume padding?" Eli 17.3 asked.

"I think he plays the piano, and may be taking French," I said.

It continued.

"Are these dogs trying to win a show or get into college?" I asked.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

The Nemesis System

Boy, If He Doesn't Miss The Kick After That

We were watching a college football game on Saturday. At the end of the game, a coach called two consecutive timeouts to ice the kicker. Eli 16.3 started laughing, because he knows I absolutely cannot stand when coaches do that.

"I think I've changed my mind," I said.

"About what?" Eli asked.

"Instead of outlawing timeouts to ice the kicker, I think it should be legal."

"You do?"

"Yes," I said. "And there should be two snipers stationed in the stadium press box. If a coach calls a timeout to ice a kicker, the timeout is granted, but--"

Eli burst out laughing.

"The referee would say 'Timeout, Purdue.' Then he would pause and say, 'Take the shot.' "

"Seems fair," Eli said. 

Monday, November 26, 2018

A Crowd Sourced Problem

Okay, here's the deal.

Eli 17.3 is in unbelievable shape. The last two games he's played, though, he said his legs were just dead when he hit the ice. No pop at all. This after a very specific warmup given to him by a national-level goalie stretching guru.

This has been a periodic problem for the last three years.

I don't think it's food related. He eats a solid meal 2-3 hours before a game, then takes GU chews a few minutes before he skates on.

What's strange, and it's making this very difficult to figure out, is that he doesn't feel like this for practice, and he's much less careful about what he drinks and when for practice.

What I'm having him do is collect data to try and narrow the problem down to a time slice instead of a 3-hour period. So every fifteen minutes, from 3 hours on in before a game or practice, he's going to just write down how his legs feel (1-10). With a time slice, I'm confident we'd know enough to fix it.

In the short term, we're focusing on possible hydration differences and adding some caffeinated chews for a small burst of energy.

It's ironic that what's holding him back is not his technique or his mental game, but just physically feeling good when he steps on the ice.

Thanks for any ideas you guys have about this. Very, very appreciated.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Friday Links!

From Steven Davis, and I had no idea these even existed: Jim Henson's Wilkins Coffee Commercials.

From DQ VB.Net Advisor And Renaissance Man Garret Rempel, and this is a bizarre story: The million-dollar drug.

From Wally, and this is fantastic: The First Film Version of Frankenstein, Newly Restored! This is cleverly done: How to ride a sidecar motorbike. This is surprisingly interesting: Wargame Metrics – A Look Inside the Numbers for Grant’s Wargame Collection. This is hilarious (to me, at least): Rise of the 'vegetable butcher' as Brits want their veg expertly chopped.

From C. Lee, and this is an excellent read: The Genius Neuroscientist Who Might Hold The Key To True AI. We are less for his passing: William Goldman: What to Read by (and About) the Legendary Screenwriter. An eloquent defense: In Defense of Puns. This is fascinating: Eau de Nil, the Light-Green Color of Egypt-Obsessed Europe. This is quite brilliant, really: Before Envelopes, People Protected Messages With Letterlocking.

From Shane, and it's brilliant: I Found the Best Burger Place in America. And Then I Killed It.

From Meg McReynolds, and it's one of the greatest pranks in history: The day MIT won the Harvard-Yale game.

From Eric Lundquist, and these are tremendous: The unbridled joy of dogs catching treats.

From Eric Higgins-Freese, and it's thought-provoking: If Everyone On Earth Lived As Densely As In Mumbai, Here's How Much Space We'd Need.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

A Tradition Like No Other

We've played tennis on Thanksgiving for many years, even up here.

"It's stout out there," I said. "Twenty-three degrees, wind chill of eleven."

"Not a problem," Eli 17.3 said. "I say we go for it."

I'd already been outside. He had not. This accounted for his optimism. Still, though, it's the last year before he goes to college, so I triple-layer Patagonia, with a winter jacket and gloves.

"I can't feel my face," I said.

"We haven't even gotten to the courts yet," Eli said. "You're still walking in from the car."

"Snow blind," I said.

We used to play in Austin in weather in the forties and brag about how cold it was later. Now we're only two degrees short of single-digit wind chill.

Still, though, it's tennis on Thanksgiving. Together. And it's always fun.

"I think if I wrap the Hot Hands around my hand, then put it on the racket, my hand will stay warm," I said.

Eli started laughing. He's not even wearing gloves. We're both carrying a Hot Hands hand warmer in our free hand (a previously unknown but significant advantage of one-handed backhands).

At one point, he came to the net. "Pass me," he said.

I did. Twice. "Two exits, no waiting," I said. He's about to say something smart, but I beat him to it. "You may be laughing, but your face is too cold to actually move, so I can't tell."

Later on, I hit one really, really good shot after a long rally. "I can't feel my face, but I can still feel my muscles," I said. Eli burst out laughing, then that was the catch phrase for a good shot from then on.

One hour of tennis in eleven degree wind chill. I even took a layer off.

Truly, A Holiday Miracle

I was driving home after a workout a few days ago, and I saw a bus.

Not a big bus. Half-sized, or even smaller, but not the fancy new kind of bus. Very traditional. On the side, it said "Shaggy Pines Dog Park."

At that moment, I realized my entire life had been a lie. I hadn't understood anything.

I felt like the Grinch, with my heart growing three sizes. A bus to take elderly dog owners and their dogs to play.

I'm not going to lie. I'm discouraged. I don't feel good about my country. About our country.

BUT, on the other hand--we have a bus for dogs.

Then, as I continued to drive, I felt a tiny hope grow in my heart. Was it possible, could I even dream, that the owners didn't even go with their dogs? That the driver honked his horn--surely, it would sound like a bark--and Burt Boxer or Chad Chihuahua or Penelope Poodle would come running out of the house and get on the dog bus, finding their seat without human assistance? That the bus driver would take them to play, bark his horn at the appropriate time, and they would return for the ride home?

Oh, what a world that would be. 

So I googled Shaggy Pines Dog Park. A twenty-acre dog park, and one of the top ten in the country. And found this picture:

We can do it now, people. We can survive the madness of America and Brexit and whatever else the damn world can throw at us, because dogs have their own bus to take them to play.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Threatin: Spinal Tap In Real Life

Oh , yeah. This deserves its own day.

A rock band named "Threatin" set up a European tour, which didn't seem unreasonable to do for a band with 20,000+ Facebook likes and thousands of positive comments on their music videos.

The band is fronted by Jered Threatin, whose primarily talent appears to be his hair. Don't take my word for it, though--please enjoy what would be an excellent parody video: Threatin - Living is Dying (Official Music Video). Yes, that's Jered playing all four instruments and singing.

Wow, that's bad.

Still, though, they had fans, and plenty of terrible bands (hello, Nickelback! Also, counting down until the one "Nickelback isn't that bad" email comes in.) have been incredibly successful, so good for them.

Threatin recruited three band members for the tour. They rehearsed for a few weeks. And then it started to get weird.

The band members pay for the  weeks-long European tour was $300. Plus expenses. Only it turns out that the $300 WAS for the expenses.

Oh, and this little note: no one showed up to watched them play.

All right, technically, not no one. Two people at one venue. Three in another. Five.

This in spite of claims that hundreds of people would be at each venue (at a minimum), and that tickets were "selling out" for some shows.

Next, the great unraveling, in which it's revealed that Jered Threatin' bought all the Facebook likes and Youtube comments, and created imaginary versions of the following:
--booking company
--record label
--press outlet
--web design company
--music award (he won it, obviously)

There's also evidence that he's been slowly building this gigantic, bad rock apparatus of deception for at least two years.

Here are a few articles:
1. Please enjoy the story of Threatin, an internet-famous band touring in empty venues
2. Rock band Threatin promised to bring hundreds of fans with them to Manchester - two people turned up
3. More Threatin Details: There's Also a Fake Label, Press Outlet, Award, Web Design Company, Wiki Page, and More. Ex-Drummer Shares a Statement
4. Ex-Threatin Guitarist Shares Statement for UG, Reveals Details About the Tour and How He Started Playing With Jered

Wow. Seriously, every word of all four of those links is fantastic.

Now, I'm going to have an odd reaction about a guy who is clearly a narcissistic loony: I kind of identify with him. On a conceptual basis, at least.

Who doesn't have a little part of them that wants to be famous? We all do, really. This guy wanted to be famous so badly that he created this multi-layered imaginary world and expected it to create a real world.

Okay, it's stupid, but damn, that's inspired.

So, Mr. Jered Threatin, while you may be a shitty musician, an enormous fraud, and one of the worst music video producers in history (seriously, watch that damn clip), you dream big.

I kind of like that. Conceptually.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Halloween (the story)

Remember how I said there was a Halloween story I was hoping to get permission to use? Well, here it is, thanks to Eric Lundquist.

I didn't do a costume count, but I did experience something that was crazy (to me).

I got invited by some friends who live in a very nice older neighborhood here in Seattle. Many of these 100+ year old homes have been restored, and they're now worth $2-3 million each.

When I got there the neighborhood had blocked off the streets with trash cans/etc, so we had to park away and walk in.   

The house where the party was had a solid line of trick-or-treaters going up to the front porch, where two people were constantly handing out candy. The sidewalks were packed, and the street itself fairly full of adults. Easily every 4th house had a party going on.

Our hostess said that last year she bought 1,200 pieces of candy and ran out. This year she bought 1,800 and had less than 100 pieces left over. I would have needed a GoPro recording and hours of labor to get that costume count.

My favorite costume was a kid with one of those clear umbrellas. He had it rigged up with colored battery powered Xmas lights inside and crepe paper streamers from the edges, obviously a jellyfish.

The craziest costume I saw was another kid with a white skull mask. Over that was a slightly larger clear skull mask. He had a pump that was pumping a blood-looking fluid between the two, it was seriously disturbing.

We went for a walk around the neighborhood. Easily 80+% of the houses were decorated to the nines, with creepy things in every window etc. It was like one of those streets where everyone decorates the hell out of the house with lights for Xmas, except this went on for blocks. One house had 20' long tentacles coming out of their 3rd floor balcony. Absolutely nuts.

I know what I am doing next year!

Monday, November 19, 2018


I've mentioned in the past that I've developed a bit of anxiety at times, specifically around hockey (hey, big surprise there), and also mentioned a few of the strategies I've used to try to manage it effectively. In particular, I've noticed that my eyes get jittery and tend to move their focal point around very quickly when I'm feeling anxious, and being aware of that and concentrating on reducing eye movement has been surprisingly helpful.

Oh, and a note about talking about this in general. I know that most of you don't have any problems with anxiety, so this isn't really written for you, but if it ever bites you (and that's what it feels like, at least to me), maybe these things will be of some small help.

What I noticed last week is that I tend to think about too many things at once. That's not new, and I've mentioned it before, but what I realized last week is that many of things I'm thinking about are unresolvable. So I'm thinking about a bunch of things, and for most of them, there's absolutely nothing I can do. It might even be things in the past, feeling anxious about things that have already happened.

Well, that can't possibly work, can it? No. Not healthy.

The mind is a funny thing, though. It has a very complex balance, and sometimes, if you spin just a little out of step, that imbalance is accentuated the longer it lasts. There's no gyroscope.

I thought about all of this, as I tend to do, and I realized that I needed to abstract from specifics, particularly for things I can't to do anything about.

Here's what I've been trying. When I get this cascade of thoughts going in my head, too much to process effectively, I start labeling the individual thoughts at a higher level. I keep doing that, and incredibly granular, sometimes unhealthy thoughts become "HOCKEY" or "POLITICS" or "BUDGET." Just categories.

If I can take action, or if it's something to schedule, I do. Otherwise, I categorize it and try to let it go.

I know, that sounds kind of dumb. For some reason, though, it seems to work. It's very hard to feel anxious about a category. Almost impossible, really.

This is not something that is intuitive, and I don't even think I'm very good at doing it yet, but that's okay. Just abstracting even a few of those thoughts successfully feels really, really good. Comforting, somehow.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Friday Links!

The links are very, very strong this week.

Leading off, and this is a stunning read, it's Ultrarunner Courtney Dauwalter Takes On The World's Most Sadistic Endurance Race. On a side note: I covered 155 miles in 77 hours once on an expedition run when I was 21. I will not be doing it again.

Eli 17.2 was blown away (for the creativity as much as the skill): The Winning Routine at the World Championships of Magic Might Fry Your Brain Like an Egg.

This is a fantastic read: How Harley-Davidson's All-In Bet on Its Past Crippled Its Future.

Bask in the utter quality of C. Lee links:
Download Famous Art in High Resolution
This Stuff Is Cheaper If You Buy It Under Another Name
Under poaching pressure, elephants are evolving to lose their tusks

From DQ Guitar Advisor David Gloier, and it's terrific: Tenea, the lost ancient city built by Trojan prisoners, is found for the first time.

From Wally, and here's a wonky wargamer alert: Games Versus History: An Exploration of the Battle of Nagashino in War Games. This looks fascinating: 'Human brain' supercomputer with 1 million processors switched on for first time. This is fantastic: SO YOU WANNA BE A CHEF — BY BOURDAIN. Very, very clever: The Fictional Foods We Wish Were Real. This is an absolutely magnificent article about the business of hot sauce (hmm, seems self-evident): Saucy Business.

From Geoff Engelstein, and this is delightful: Here Is What Happens To Werewolves On The Moon, According To Geophysics.

Ken Piper sent in the first part of this last week, and here's part two: Dude, Where's My Money? Part Two: Divvying up the Loot.

From Tim Jones, and it's excellent: Martin Amis on Space Invaders: how games criticism was born.

From Steven Davis, and this is just fantastic: The Hoax Art Movement That Fooled the Art World Establishment (twenty years from now, there will be a similar article about string theory oh no I'm joking I swear).

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Quite A Riveting Sequence

While watching last week's Michigan State--Ohio State game, this happened:
--Michigan St. has fourth down at the Ohio St. 33. Michigan St. lines up to go for it, then calls timeout.
--They line up again. Michigan St. is in the same formation. Ohio St. calls timeout.
--They line up again. Michigan St. is in the same formation. Ohio St. calls ANOTHER timeout.
--They line up for a fourth time. Michigan St. tries to draw Ohio St. offsides, then calls timeout.
--Fans storm the field and murder the coaches. Okay, this didn't happen, but it should have.


Football coaches are such incredible control freaks that this probably seems entirely reasonable to them, but it's killing the entertainment value of the game (it's the first time I've seen four in a row, but I've seen three several times this season).

Dear Coaches,
Rules we need because of you:
--no consecutive timeouts. If a team calls a timeout, no timeouts by either team can be called until after the next play.
--no timeouts in the last ten seconds of the play clock. If you want to ice a kicker, tough. It's stupid and you're a bad person. If your players can't get lined up in the right formation, or can't snap the ball in time, then you're a bad coach and you need to work on that, not call timeouts.
--while we're at it, you're not getting three damned timeouts anymore. You get one, just like hockey. Use it any way you want. Live it up! Then let your players play the game and get over yourself.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018


It's been a while, it seems. Photos first, then captions.

Excuse me, sir. SIR!

Number nine, number nine, number nine. Now with fries.

The only man in history who has even been angry while on The Price Is Right.

Daily production quota for artisinally crafted energy bars: four.

Zen master.

Desktop Dynasties: Pro Football

Longtime DQ reader Shawn Wignall has taken the plunge and started his own game company--GoldenCrest Games.

That's big news, by itself, but bigger news is that their first game is now in Early Access on Steam. It's called Desktop Dynasties: Pro Football, and you can get it here: Desktop Dynasties on Steam.

I'm looking forward to trying it myself in a few hours. Shawn is a very talented guy, and I've consistently been impressed by his approach to development and his conviction to start his own company.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Costume Count (Day Two)

Sometimes, the descriptions ask more questions than they answer.

This year, before we go to the top ten, etc., a salute to the descriptions that made me want more, as well as some outlandish costumes that are entirely delightful. So here's to you, Canada Post Mailbox. Thanks for coming, Jay Cutler (this had to be Jay Cutler himself. No other answer makes any sense.). I like your style, Princess With A Battleaxe. And let's not forget Subtle Vampire.

They all pale in comparison, though, to the crowning description of the costume decade: "Rambo But Warm."

470 costumes total.

Top Ten:
Princess (24)
Ninja (16)
Unicorn (14)
Skeleton (13)
Cat (11)
Fairy (11)
Vampire (11)
Harry Potter (10)
Witch (10)
Cheerleader (8)

I will be very happy if, before I die, the number of little girls in Wonder Woman costumes (3), exceeds the number of Princesses (24). There's a long way to go.

Like I said, the reporters with the 100+ costume numbers were very low this year, although I did hear one phenomenal story that I'm hoping to get permission to use.

On the rise this year: Ninjas, and Unicorns.
On the decline: Minecraft characters, and Pirates.

I was going to post an entire data dump, but it's formatting strangely, so here's an extraction of the most creative/oddest costumes:
Canadian Tire Leaf Bag
Cheeseburger (okay, not that creative, but will we see a quesadilla next year? Hmm.)
Dogfish (this was a costume on a dog, and it made me burst out laughing)
Detroit Piston player (America's loneliest costume, besides Jay Cutler)
Spy vs Spy (always a classic)
Sumo Wrestler With a Cowboy Hat
Ted 2 (not the original Ted, mind you, which spawns a hundred questions)
Weatherman blowing in the wind

Thanks to everyone who contributed. Even with a smaller number of costumes this year, it was still fun, as always.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Costume Count (day one)

This is an unusual map, since I put Denmark over much of the southwestern United States. That's because Odense, Denmark sent in a costume count and the southwestern U.S. didn't. Take that, Arizona and Southern California!*
*and maybe others. Not exactly sure what's out there. Sand, red dirt, cactus, etc.

Anyway, here's the map of respondents:

We were definitely light this year on the count. I'm thinking it was around 500 (still tabulating). We still had a strong number of respondents, but only one person reported 100+ costumes (we normally get at least three of those, if not more), and there were quite a few sub-20 submissions.

In Grand Rapids, the weather was perfect, and we had 52 trick-or-treaters in total.

I noticed something different this year, too. For the first time, we didn't have five of any costume. Four ninjas, three cheerleaders, and after that, it was all ones and twos.

I like that. Lots of different ideas.

Friday, November 09, 2018

Friday Links!

There are a bunch of very, very strong links this week.

Leading off this week, from Brian Witte, and this is a beautiful and poignant piece of writing: My Grandfather Thought He Solved a Cosmic Mystery.

It's been a stressful week, for many reasons, and I think we could all use more of this: Soothing photos of donkeys who haul lambs in pouches.

Also in the soothing (and riveting) category is a link from Chris Meadowcraft: Woman makes set of bamboo furniture with hand tools.

From Ken Piper, and this is an excellent breakdown of development costs and Steam, and how it's even more difficult than it appears to make money: Dude, Where's My Money? Part One: The Science of Steam.

From Wally, and this is just the coolest thing ever: This Artist Can Draw You As If You're A Character In A Disney Pixar Movie. This is mesmerizing: Steampunk Computer build thread. This is a wonderful story: A Store Had to Move Thousands of Books. So a Human Chain Was Formed.

From C. Lee, and this is terrific: Bottoms Up -- How Japanese Whiskey Conquered The World. This is a stunning story: Mystery Math Whiz and Novelist Advance Permutation Problem. This is both clever and thoughtful: Our fridges, ourselves. This is a very good read: On a trip to the National Gallery, looking for art that doesn’t imitate life.

It genuinely stuns me how many people still do this: Stop! Hitting! Your! Kids!.

Thursday, November 08, 2018

The Unknown Nemesis

[Sorry, I was going to do costume count today, but it's going to be on Monday now.]

I found out today that I have a nemesis at the YMCA.

I've seen this guy once before. He's about 6'4", 240+, big guy. Balding. Big tattoo on the left bicep. He always uses the elliptical machines in the row in front of where I ride the stationary bike.

Now, I will freely admit that he doesn't fit into the traditional mold of a nemesis. He's not trying to kill me, or kidnap me, or take me to his secret lair.

He does, however, clear his throat. Kind of a throat clearing half cough.

Every five seconds. Into perpetuity.

It's the sound of a desperate man's last attempt to reach that handhold on the ledge before he's swept off the mountain.

Oh, and yes, it's loud. So, so loud.

Today, I was working out, not paying attention to much of anything, and suddenly, there it is. I look up and he's right in front of me. Like a true nemesis, appearing out of nowhere.

I've still got fifteen minutes to ride, too, to hit my distance goal (a really shitty goal compared to ten years ago, but it's still a goal). But if I listen to this guy channel Boris Becker and a tuberculosis patient, I may lose my mind, and what good will goals do me then?

I consider all this, and then I do the only logical thing possible: I crank up the resistance on the bike, so high that I may be approaching the speed of a rocket sled. And I hit 100 RPMs at that resistance, because I'm going to get to my goal, but I'm going to do it before I lose my mind.

I'm really starting to sweat after about a minute, because this has gone from a leisurely, book-reading ride to political revolution intensity, and I will not be denied my freedom.

I start to shout "Viva la revolution!" at my nemesis, but all I can really see is his ass. This is how some revolutions end, probably, but not this one. I ride and ride and ride and look down at the distance readout.

And suddenly, I'm free.

When the Snow Comes, It's a Relief

I swear there are thirty-seven leaf blowers operating at full power within hearing distance right now. Maybe more.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018


I went to the dentist this morning for a checkup and to get my teeth cleaned.

"OH, HI! HOW ARE YOU?" said the receptionist.

"I'm fine, thanks," I said.

"I'LL TELL EVA YOU'RE HERE," she said.

I sat down in the waiting area. It's small.


I felt like I was standing at midfield while a marching band was playing the halftime show around me.

Evil Me very much wanted to start shouting back, to see if I could get her to amp it up just a little bit more. I didn't, though. I just smiled while her speaking volume sandblasted my face.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Election Day (a political post)

Please go vote and stop this shit. Thank you.

Monday, November 05, 2018

Works for Kidnappers or Lunch

"I'm going to Twin Dragon to pick up some Chinese for Eli's lunch," Gloria said. "Do you want anything?"

"No," I said. "That is terrible Chinese food. Shitty, even."

"Oh, it's not that bad," she said. "I've gotten used to it."

"Stockholm Syndrome," I said. "Or, in this case, Shanghai Syndrome."

Cliff's Cliff's Notes

"I think I have 'Pride and Prejudice' figured out," Eli 17.3 said.

"Oh, you do?" I said. "Well, let's hear it."

"In every scene," he said, "there are three characters. #1 is outraged by something #3 has done. #2 says what #3 did was totally reasonable. #3 says they couldn't care less what #1 or #2 thinks."

"Did you tell your English teacher that?" I asked.

He laughed. "I did," he said. "She said 'Well, you're not wrong'."

Moonlighter (update)

Moonlighter is coming out for Switch today, so I thought I'd give you an update, as I finished the game last week.

The game, in general, was a real treat. The core gameplay loop was deeply fun, the little town where the game takes place is bright and full of personality, and the first four dungeons were challenging and interesting.

Then the wheels come off a bit.

There's a fifth dungeon, and there's nothing leading up to it that makes you think it will be any different from the previous four (except for Foozle being there). However, this is a very, very abbreviated experience, because it's essentially just a boss fight.

I was all geared up for the last fifth of the game, I thought, but got the last twentieth of the game instead.

I still enjoyed my time with the game, and I'm glad I finished it, but the ending is a bit of a letdown.

Get Those Costume Counts In!

If you haven't submitted yet, please do so. Summary coming on Wednesday.

Friday, November 02, 2018

Friday Links!

Halloween Week Edition.

Excellent links from C. Lee, as always. This is an absolutely magnificent read: Discovery, Interrupted: How World War I delayed a treatment for diabetes and derailed one man’s chance at immortality. A legendary translator: Anthea Bell, deft translator of Asterix comics and literary classics, dies at 82. This is terrific: How a Vortext Helps Dandelions Fly. This is quite amusing: The Indian City With An Audacious Attitude. This is an excellent read: Mass media and democracy in prewar and postwar Japan.

From Steven Davis, and this is fascinating: Giorgio de Chirico Copied His Most Popular Works to Mess with His Collectors. Next, and this is mesmerizing, it's America's Iron Giants - The World's Most Powerful Metalworkers.

From Meg McReynolds, and this is fantastic: How Writers Map Their Imaginary Worlds.

From Wally, and these are very, very cute: The 10 Commandments of Baby Halloween Costumes. This is so, so clever: This Artist Can Draw You As If You're A Character In A Disney Pixar Movie. This is thought-provoking: Survival of the Richest. Be aware: 'Fortnite' Scams Are Even Worse Than You Thought.

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Puzzler (more responses)

Only one person chose "wealth", but it's one of my favorite, most thoughtful e-mailers, and their description of how they chose is so eloquent that I'm sharing it all:
It’s an interesting question, especially since the choices are mutually exclusive (meaning, for example, no kids if you choose a spouse or wealth). Assuming a spouse or children doesn’t equal a life of penury, and accepting that all three choices are potentially imperfect, I’d choose wealth.

One major drawback to choosing wealth is missing out on being a spouse or a parent. But it’s worth noting again that all the choices are potentially imperfect; there’s no reason, for example, why your spouse or children might not die before you due to illness or accident. (Of course, I think a survivor can miss loved ones and still feel grateful for time spent together and changes wrought in their lives. And, needless to say, wealth can also be lost through misfortune or one’s own mistakes.)

Some drawbacks to wealth off the top of my head: 1) You’ll constantly be feeling obliged to accomplish great things, as opposed to blowing your money on frivolities; 2) you’ll instantly become a mark for people who want your wealth; and 3), as a result, your freedom will necessarily be restricted, since you’re now a target for robbery/kidnapping. Your days of merrily backpacking around the country are over; it’s all Hiltons and security details from here on out.

The upside? You can use your money to do things ordinary people can’t. Wealth can create possibilities.

Consider your friend who chose a spouse. Imagine that he or she dies and leaves a pile of medical debts. Your mutual friends who also chose spouses or children can do nothing but commiserate. But you, who chose wealth, can make a concrete difference to your friend’s family; you can spare them hardship and misery. That bright kid who would’ve cured cancer if only she’d been able to afford a top college? You can pay her way now. Those children starving on TV? You can help them now. All those rich assholes making the world a worse place? You can counteract their malice.

Sure, wealth might just end up being a monkey’s paw for you, with all your good intentions yielding nothing but the taste of ashes. But that’s true of choosing a spouse or a child as well. The fact is, you’ll never know until you try, and while the personal sacrifice is great, the potential upside is also tremendous.

Now, here's one volley from the "kids" choice:
Before I had kids, I probably would have gone for wealth.  I would have been happy being single and dating - especially with the advantages having money brings.

Now, there's no question.  Kids 100% of the time.  And I had mine fairly late, too.

Before, the joys and frustrations of parenthood would never have appealed to me. Now, though, I don't think I could imagine a life without my kids. 

For me, I think having a child has impacted me, much more, than anything else. It didn't happen right away, but after a couple of years, I started to grow up. I never understood what being "grown up" even meant, but Eli showed me.

That may sound backwards, but that's how it happened.

Site Meter