Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Hard Pass

Eli 17.8 was home for lunch.

"We're having lamb chops for dinner," Gloria said.

"Nope," Eli said.

"Hard pass," I said.

"Why?" she asked.

"I don't like eating child meat," I said. Eli started laughing. "Also, the name reminds me of what happens to the baby lamb."

"No!" she said. "Don't say it that way!"

"He's kind of right," Eli said.

"What about cows?" she asked. "They're cute, too."

"Wait, is cuteness now a positive when considering whether to eat something?" I asked.

"That's not what I meant," she said.

"I'd like to move away from child-based food products," I said.

Monday, April 29, 2019

You Must Carry These Things Three in the Great White North

Ah, thirty-six degrees and heavy rain. I remember it well. Like it was yesterday, except it's not.

It's today.

Almost May. Spring showers, turning to snow. Snow and colder.

If you've never lived in Canada (quaintly called "Michigan'), let me tell you about a thing you must always carry in your car. Two things, actually. Three things. You must always carry these three things.

1. Extra base layer
A base layer is just a thermal shirt (Patagonia uses "capilene", whatever that is, and it's very thin) that is super warm. You carry an extra one because you can layer them, and two are still thinner than one regular t-shirt.

2. Extra pair of socks
Thick ones, because there's no emergency that needs thin socks.

3. Extra pair of shoes
Not the kind that lets air in so that your feet don't get too hot while running.

I've had these three things in my car car all winter, and never needed any of them.

Today, I walked through the rain for about 100 yards to get into Meijer Gardens. That little note about the shoes in #3? Yeah, I was wearing ultra-light running shoes that breathed--or, in this case, absorbed water. Which made my socks very wet. Which was incredibly miserable. I really hadn't worn quite enough clothes, either, at least not in the case that my feet were wet.

When I was done working, I walked back out to the car, extra miserable, and then a ray of sunshine metaphorically appeared and I remembered all the stuff I kept in the back seat. I stripped off my wet socks, put on a thick, dry pair, swapped out shoes, and put on the extra base layer.


Also, there's a kind of gnat up here that is much like me. It's not terribly agile, but it's incredibly persistent, and it will drive you crazy.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Friday Links!

This is a lovely and touching eulogy: A Eulogy for my Grandfather.

This is a tremendously thoughtful piece of game criticism: Red Dead Redemption 2: six months later.

From Ken Piper, and it's an amazing story: 'A Woman Of No Importance' Finally Gets Her Due.

From Tim Lesnick, and this is outstanding: Cheeky Scottish farmer spray-paints her sheep TARTAN in an attempt to wind up tourists.

This is a wonderful story from DQ Reader My Wife: This is the Smallest lovely Library in Italy .

From Wally, and man, Boston Dynamics: Robot Chariot Racing Still Needs Work.

From C. Lee, and I think this has enormous potential: Science and bicycling meet in a new helmet design. This is fascinating: The young chimpanzees that play with dolls. This sounds like a bean to me: Sore knee? Maybe you have a fabella. This is just amazing: The Leicestershire man with a 'brain' in his knee. These are utterly beautiful: Stunning and surprising depictions of Notre-Dame.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

A Note on the NFL Draft

I've been a Texas Tech fan since around 1985, so I've seen every incarnation of Mike Leach's offense, as well as its various branches (including Kliff Kingsbury's version).

Here's what most people aren't mentioning: offensive linemen. The quarterback is the most important position in this type of offense. The second most important, though, isn't wide receiver--it's offensive linemen.

The Cardinals have an absolutely terrible offensive line.

Their problem isn't Josh Rosen. He's very smart and has a good arm, which is all Kingsbury needs. The problem is the offensive line, and drafting Kyler Murray isn't going to solve that.

Archaeology (part three)

Here's a series of photos that explain how science is being used to test ancient color fragments.

This is absolutely beautiful:

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Archaeology (part two)

I find this remarkably poignant:
The main roads leading to many towns in Roman Italy were lined with graves of all sizes, including tombstones. Their inscriptions were painted red to make them easier for those passing by to read them. 

Rome was apparently a riot of color, as you can read in the following description: 

Red was an incredibly important color to the Romans, for it symbolized strength and victory as well as a connection with the gods:

Here's an amazing map of how various colors were passed along trade routes:

There were also explainers for how individual colors were made, and here are two examples:

Tuesday, April 23, 2019


One of the places we visited in Ann Arbor was the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology.

It was terrific, and I took some photographs to share with you. The light was extremely reflection-friendly, so apologies in advance.

There was a special exhibit about color, but here are a few general images first. You can enlarge them for a better view by clicking on them directly.

A dice cup and dice from the Roman era (dice made out of bone, dice cup is a re-purposed bit of broken glass lamp):

Like I said, reflections, but how stunning is this?

Inside next. I wonder how many hundreds of hours it took to complete one of these:

Here's a fine collection of ancient seals:

And a few more:

More tomorrow!

Monday, April 22, 2019

More Information

You probably saw this news already, but this is a well-written, detailed article that's worth reading:
Climbing World Mourns After Three Of The World's Top Alpinists Die In Avalanche.

Only Jesus Enjoys Easter

Easter, the worst of holidays.

Thanksgiving? Turkey! Pie! Sports traditions entirely around Thanksgiving.

Christmas? Turkey! Pie! Presents! Sports traditions entirely around Christmas.

New Years? Party! Chip and dips! Sports traditions entirely around New Year's.

Halloween? Costumes! Candy! No sports, but who needs them on Halloween? So much fun!

July 4th? Grilling! Baseball. Flag humping!

Easter? Eh, everything's closed. Come over about two. We'll have ham.


If they made a ham out of bacon, they'd be on to something. Otherwise, all you can really do is slap some pineapple on there and hope people just move along to the sweet potatoes.

The bunny stuff is fun, no question, and the egg hunt. But there aren't adults doing egg hunts for themselves, like people can still have Halloween parties for grown-ups.

Plus, Jesus has a holiday already. Maybe the biggest holiday, at least in the U.S. Does he need two? Selfish.

Plus, the traffic.

I went to Ann Arbor this weekend to see some U of M stuff with Eli 17.8, then drove back by myself yesterday (George care--they stayed overnight). An easy two-hour drive from Ann Arbor took three. Bumper to bumper traffic. Passed five accidents. Brutal.

One odd note about Ann Arbor: they have the best churros I've ever had. Seriously. Totally unexpected.

From Easter to churros. Not unexpected.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Friday Links!

Here's an interesting bit of news: Tolkien was right: Scholars conclude Beowulf likely the work of single author.

From D. F. Prosser, and this is amazing: ‘Bubble Boys’ Cured in Medical Breakthrough Using Gene Therapy.

From Hennie van Loggerenberg, and it's staggering: How Much Data is Generated Each Day?

From Wally, and it's a good read: 5-star phonies: Inside the fake Amazon review complex. More of this is coming: AI developed a whole new sport. This is fantastic: Game of Thrones Tapestry.

From C. Lee, and it's fascinating: Sea otter archaeology exists, and it’s awesome. This is so bizarre: Yes, Giant Technicolor Squirrels Actually Roam the Forests of Southern India. I'm not sure we need old people looking like young people, but here you go: Anti-Aging Discovery Could Lead to Restorative Skin Treatments. No surprise here: Why the US still won’t require SS7 fixes that could secure your phone.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Simon Being Taken to Sea

I saw a beautiful, moving story a few days ago and wanted to share it with you.

It's titled Simon Being Taken to Sea for the First Time Since His Father Drowned. It's about a boy who lived in a tiny English fishing village, and when his father died in an accident at sea, there was a formal ceremony where he taken out in a boat so that he wouldn't be afraid of the water.

It was so formal that the boy (Simon) wore a suit, and no one spoke.

The story has one of the most poignant photographs I've ever seen, of Simon on his way back to shore. It almost moved me to tears, this almost forty-year old image.

There's an accompanying video narrated by the photographer in which he describes what it was like to live in this village for three years and take pictures. It is absolutely worth your time.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

I'd Like To Speak To A Manager

It snowed six inches on Sunday. This seems excessive.

Monday morning, I saw this print in the driveway (my boot print beside it, for comparison):

cassowary, perhaps, roaming Michigan and threatening the local populace. With a two-pronged cane or similar device to assist in walking.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Well, Almost

Eli 17.8 didn't make the golf team.

In fairness, it was a very tough lift. He'd only taken half a dozen lessons, hit indoors over the winter, and had been hitting on an outdoor range for a couple of weeks before tryouts. Plus, his high school team is the favorite to win state.

Like I said, a tough lift.

He was hoping to make it as a "character pick," as he laughingly called it, or maybe the coach would see his potential.

They played nine holes at six different courses for tryouts. He struggled, which is not surprising. His scores ranged from 45-51, although he did shoot 40 at a very, very short course they played on.

So going to the last day of tryouts, he thought he still had a chance, but he was definitely on the outside looking in.

This last course is the home course for the high school team, and it's challenging.

He was +6 after four holes, and he said he knew he was blowing it. Then he went par-par-birdie-par-par to finish in 41.

It wasn't pretty. He said he was all over the course, and was scrambling on every hole. He one-putted seven greens.

I don't know how he did it. It's one thing to be clutch when you have a high level of skill. It's another thing entirely when you don't have the skill yet, but you're just willing it to happen.

The coach told him he knew that he was going to be an outstanding player within six months, but the season was too short for him to take a development pick. Which is fair.

We played three times last week. On Saturday, it was 45F with 15 MPH winds.

For the first time, he was missing straight. He'd hit the ball a little thin, and lost some distance, but he wasn't wild. Plus, he can afford to lose distance--he was toeing his driver a bit, but it was still going 280. "I'm starting to understand what my swing is doing," he said.

He was +4 after three holes, then went even par for the last six. It wasn't a fluke, either. There was no drama, no long putts, no miracle shots. Just steady golf.

He was laughing in the car. "I just needed another week!" he said.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Playstation VR

It took me a while, but after purchasing Playstation VR during the holidays, I finally got around to installing it last week.

No question, it's a pain in the ass to install. Lots of cables, lots of hardware, unreasonably time-consuming. It's one of the limiting factors of VR, and it's always been a problem (although Oculus Quest should help).

Playstation isn't supposed to fare well against Oculus and other, more advanced technology, but surprisingly, the lower resolution of the headset didn't bother me. Nothing bothered me, really, once I finally had it up and running.

I basically got this for two games: "Astro Bot Rescue Mission" and "Beat Saber." We haven't even gotten to "Beat Saber" yet, but "Astro Bot" is utterly fantastic. It's incredibly vibrant and ridiculously fun to play. It's also phenomenal in terms of what it makes you do. Looking around corners, looking up and down, avoiding incoming bits of goo by moving your head--it's very, very convincing in the sensations you feel.

It feels like being able to play a Mario game in VR, which is the closest comparison I could make. It's also the best game I've ever played in VR.

Until "No Man's Sky" adds VR support this summer, anyway.

I'm getting the sense that VR is close (how many times has that been said?), because the content has finally started to get better. For the longest time, most VR games were barely more than proof of concept demos. That's changing, though, and once the headsets get more comfortable and less cable-filled, it's going to be amazing.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Friday Links!

Leading off this week, and it's a wonderful read, it's How To Lose Everything And Get Some Of It Back. Also, an excellent article written by a DQ reader: On Storytelling in Games.

From C. Lee, and it's excellent: The unexpected inspiration behind Japan's bullet train. Not terribly surprising: Major study debunks myth that moderate drinking can be healthy. Concerning: Researchers trick radiologists with malware-created cancer nodes. This is a fantastic read: ‘Vivaporu’: For many Latinos, memories of Vicks VapoRub are as strong as the scent of eucalyptus. This is a nice thing to do: Rituals of Honor in Hospital Hallways.

From Ken Piper, and this is fascinating: Why Physicists Tried to Put a Ferret in a Particle Accelerator. This is bizarre: Electrical jolts to brain restored memory of elderly to that of 20-year-old.

From Wally, and it's useful to know: How do supermarkets tempt you to spend more money? This is a tremendous piece of investigative journalism: How BioWare's Anthem Went Wrong. Just stay down for a while, buddy: That is going to hurt

Thursday, April 11, 2019

The Second Saddest Moment

For me, the worst moment of this college admissions cheating scandal is Lori Loughlin.

She (and her husband) spent $500,000 to scam the system so that her daughters could go to USC.

This is a woman who is a celebrity (after all, she did receive a regional Emmy nomination for her role as co-host of Wake up, San Francisco*). Maybe not an A-list celebrity, but certainly mid-B level. She is also very, very wealthy, due both to her acting success and her husband.

So many people could have been helped if she had donated that $500,000 to a worthy foundation that helps students. Teach underprivileged kids to read. Tutor kids who need help. Even start your own foundation to do some of those things.

Instead, she used that money in an attempt to raise her own status and that of her daughters.

That's one of the things I find very discouraging about America right now. Whatever someone has, it doesn't seem to be enough, and helping other people only seems to be for suckers. There's just no sense of collective responsibility, no understanding that helping other people succeed doesn't mean less success for you.

*That's a terrible Full House joke, which I can tell because Full House was our go-to for night television on hockey trips. Eli loved the show, so I saw 100+ episodes. I've almost seen them all, and the funny thing is that in what was clearly a Stockholm Syndrome moment, I grew to like it.

Don't talk to me about the remake.

The Saddest Moment

When you see a movie that looks interesting in the program guide, and you're already looking forward to seeing it as you look it up in Rotten Tomatoes.


Wednesday, April 10, 2019

I Have This Friend

She always remembers my birthday, and will text without fail.

In the course of a long text chain last Thursday, I found these things out about her family (not sure about the grandfather/great grandfather divide her, so I might be off a generation):
--her great-grandfather invented Silly Putty
--her other great-grandfather worked on the atomic bomb
--one of her other relatives was a bootlegger during Prohibition

That is some serious family quality. Can anyone top that?

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

A Thing

About five years ago, I showed up and said, "I did this thing, and you'll be able to consume it soon."

That was Gridiron Solitaire.

Well, I did another thing, and you'll be able to consume it soon.

That's Fredrik's artwork, of course (he's done about a dozen images, and they're stunning). 

It's not a game. It's a novella.

I would describe its current state as "late beta," and I'm ready for about 6-8 readers to have a go and give me their feedback. This is science fiction, so if that's not a genre you enjoy, it's probably not a good fit. Reading time is approximately two hours, maybe a little less.

I'll probably do readers in two groups, so if you don't get into this first group, I'll add you to the second. 

Thanks for your help. 

Monday, April 08, 2019

Please Enjoy This Selection Of Images

Not quite ready to announce anything today, so let's have a look at some goofiness.


Wait, what? Office Max is offering extended warranties on furniture now? Is that even possible?

Then I remembered that every store now offers extended warranties for everything. Office Max would happily offer extended warranty plans on printer paper if they could (what am I saying--they probably do).


The world seems like a shitty place at least five days a week now, but there's one deeply positive trend: llamas. I am 100% on board the llama hype train, and would like to see them everywhere.


I may have posted this before (if I did, it would have been titled "Tools of the Trade,"), but I find it deeply affecting for reasons I don't understand.

Friday, April 05, 2019

Friday Links!

Leading off this week, a remarkable read: The Day the Dinosaurs Died.

From C. Lee, and this is going to happen everywhere, eventually, as jobs go away: Finland’s Basic Income Experiment Shows Recipients Are Happier and More Secure. Speaking of jobs going away: Handle Robot Reimagined for Logistics. This is totally cool: Observatory transformed into a perfect replica of R2-D2. This is fascinating: How a 50-year-old design came back to haunt Boeing with its troubled 737 Max jet. This is stunning (an hourglass maker): The way time flows suggests the 'present might not exist'.

From Wally, and the advancements keep coming: Exoskeleton Prototypes Sent to U.S. Navy, Special Command. This is a fantastic read (and video): Step 1: Build A House. Step 2: Set It On Fire. This looks amazing, if you're in the NYC area: Masters of the Fantastic.

From David Hoffman, and it's fantastic: Garfield phones beach mystery finally solved after 35 years.

From Ken Piper, and it's incredible: 'Molecular surgery' reshapes living tissue with electricity but no incisions. This is fascinating: Anti-evolution drugs could keep gambling bacteria from developing antibiotic resistance.

Thursday, April 04, 2019

Your Mission, Should You Choose To Accept It

First, it's my birthday. Whoop.

Second, I want you to send me the funniest joke you ever heard. Not a bunch of jokes, just the best one.

I can't explain why I'm asking, although I'll make an announcement on Monday and it's related.

Nothing else today, as I'm working on the thing that I'll be mentioning next week.

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Who Killed The Cobb Salad? An Inspector Jamison Mystery

Since Gloria and Eli 17.8 have been gone, I haven't been eating much.

I tend to do that when I get involved in something. Hours pass and I don't even realize it was time for a meal.

While they're gone, I've gone into the stripped-down eating routine: light breakfast, no lunch, substantial dinner.

Yesterday, for some reason, I decided that I wanted a Cobb salad for dinner.

Cobb salads are "hearty." Chicken, bacon, avocado, cheese, egg, tomato. It's basically a stealth all-you-can-eat buffet with lettuce.

Oh, and it typically comes with Ranch or Thousand Island dressing, either of which is about a thousand calories for an eye dropper full.

This is the perfect salad for people who want to pretend they're eating healthy, even though they're consuming a 1,500 calorie meal.

It wasn't long, though, before I realized that Cobb salad was barely alive. Actually, less than alive, because the only place I could find one was TGIFridays.

And then the murders began.

I wanted to find out what killed my unhealthy friend, so I began to investigate, and came up with three prime suspects:
#1 Kale
I still don't even know what this is. It's green, and it looks like lettuce, but it's not lettuce. It's cabbage, which is lettuce's poor cousin who lives in that broken down farmhouse in the country with all the rusted cars in the front yard. It's cabbage with better marketing.

I saw quite a few kale salads when I was looking through menus. Jealousy over cabbage's low status? Hmm.

#2 Caesar
I remember when a Cobb salad was on very single menu. The Caesar? Italian restaurants only. Now, every single menu I looked at had a Caesar salad available.

I can see the advantages, from a restaurant's point of view. The Caesar is basically Romaine lettuce and croutons, with dressing thrown on top. It's the easiest salad to make. A Cobb salad is a relationship, but the Caesar is a one-night stand.

A mob hit? Hmm.

#3 Health
This is not considered a strong suspect, since we're an unhealthy country in terms of obesity. We like to pretend we're health-adjacent, though, and maybe that was enough to kill a salad full of lifespan-shortening delights.

I dismissed suspect #3, because Health had an alibi: Golden Corral. If Health was going to murder anyone, it wouldn't be the Cobb Salad.

I'm getting paid by the hour, and I've already submitted the tab, so I'm going to cut to the chase here: two suspects are in custody for the murder of Cobb salad. That's right, Kale and Caesar combined in the despicable murder of the only salad that could be classified as "comfort food." Two inferior salads, trying to establish themselves as kingpins, staged a coup.

Et tu, Caesar?

Tuesday, April 02, 2019


Eli 17.8 has never gone on a trip at spring break.

Every year, he had hockey in some form. Tryouts, regionals, camps. This year, though, since he's not playing juniors next year--Cancun.

I had to stay here (George), but Gloria and Eli left the morning after Application Apocalypse 2019. It's turned out really well for him, to get away and get some distance.

He's been playing golf almost every day (still in tryouts for the golf team, which end next week), and we exchanged these texts today.

Hey, how was golf?

Horrendous. The person I got stuck playing with shot a 94 for 9 holes, it took us 2 1/2 hours, and a literal monkey ran off the course with my 56 wedge, couldn't have really been any worse.

Holy crap. A monkey?

An actual monkey. Left it on the other side of the green after a chip and he came and just ran off with it. I have no idea if I'll ever see it again. 

He probably has a den where he has a hundred wedges and putters. It's Aztec treasure in monkey form.

Interesting way to start the day.

Not for the monkey. Just another day on the job.

You're so right. I also saw a crocodile. I went in the opposite direction. 

Oh, those are really nasty. Definitely a no selfies policy there. He wasn't looking for wedges.

He probably guards the monkey's stash.

Lots of bickering to set that up initially.

Took a couple of monkeys to get him to accept the situation. 

Won't last for long. That's basically going to turn into a Brexit.

Monday, April 01, 2019

Clarifying The Penalties For Man-on-Hamster Violence

This human trash:
UT's Student Conduct report states that the student who coerced another to bite the head off the hamster was expelled from the Cowboys, the student who bit the head off the hamster was reprimanded. 

If I understand this correctly, man-on-hamster violence gets a reprimand, but coercing man-on-hamster violence, now that's another thing entirely. 

Still in the gray area: painting a hamster, dressing a hamster (particularly in those Handmaid's Tale hats), or adding resistance to that little wheel they roll on.


I heard a 20-year-old use the word "benevolence" in reference to himself during a fast food job interview.


Some days you just wake up in an escape room.

Site Meter