Friday, November 29, 2019

I Have No Words

Pushing the Boundaries of Innovation

I saw a little boy punch his juice box into the trash. Next level.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Holiday Links (Long Reads)

Long reads only (plus one personal link). Happy holidays!

This is fascinating: The Strange Life and Mysterious Death of a Virtuoso Coder.

A great piece: Masterpiece Theater: A Dutch Gallerist made Thousands of Forgeries and Passed Them Off as Work of Real Artists. When He Was Caught, a New Con Began.

A terrific read: The Wild Ones: People said that women had no place in the Grand Canyon and would likely die trying to run the Colorado River. In 1938, two female scientists set out to prove them wrong.

Amazing: Masterpiece Theater: A Dutch Gallerist made thousands of forgeries and passed them off as the work of real artists. When he was caught, a new con began..

Here's a remarkable article about the son of a friend of mine: A professional golfer had to relearn how to walk, talk and remember. What happened next is remarkable.

This is very interesting: Don’t Blame the Internet for New Slang.

This beautifully written and painful to read: This is How You Lose Your Mind.

This is wonderful: The Mister Rogers No One Saw.

This is incredibly disturbing: How the U.S. betrayed the Marshall Islands, kindling the next nuclear disaster.

This is a brilliant piece of investigation: Pony Dobbins has been accused of sexually assaulting...  Yeah, I changed the first letter in the first and last name, but you can figure it out. A meticulous, multi-part series.

This is from Wally, it's a long read, and it's stunning: Cryptoqueen: How this woman scammed the world, then vanished

Chris Meadowcraft sent this in (not a long read, but excellent): Why 536 was ‘the worst year to be alive’.

This is quite amazing (not a long read); Ayahuasca alters brain waves to produce waking dream-like state, study finds.

Okay, this isn't a long read, but man, it's fantastic: First Measurements of a Blue Whale’s Heart Rate Is a Glimpse Into the Biology of Extremes.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Hiding The Marshmallow

We're discussing this today: Can Brain Science Help Us Break Bad Habits?

Summary: Studies suggest that relying on will power is hopeless. Instead, we must find strategies that don’t require us to be strong.

I'm going to use a few excerpts to get us started, but the entire article is very thought-provoking. Also, one of these excerpts references the marshmallow experiment, and if you're not familiar with it, go here for a summary.

Wood’s research originally focused not on habits but on persistence. For “one-off, occasional behaviors,” like getting a flu shot, conscious decisions were all that was required. For behaviors involving repetition, though, habits were crucial. 

In Mischel’s marshmallow experiment, only a quarter of the subjects were able to resist eating the marshmallow for fifteen minutes. This implies that a large majority of us lack the self-control required to succeed in life. But a less discussed part of the study suggests a way of circumventing our frailty. The researchers compared the results of two situations: in one, children could see the marshmallow in front of them; in the other, they knew that it was there but couldn’t see it. On average, the children lasted only six minutes when presented with visible temptation but could manage ten minutes if the treat was hidden. For Wood, this outcome shows that self-control is “not so much an inherent disposition but instead a reflection of the situation we are in.” 

Even people who score high on self-control questionnaires may owe their apparent virtue to situational factors rather than to sheer fortitude. A study of such people in Germany found that they reported resisting temptation surprisingly rarely. “They were living their lives in a way that hid the marshmallow almost all the time,” Wood writes. This observation leads to the crux of her book’s thesis: the path to breaking bad habits lies not in resolve but in restructuring our environment in ways that sustain good behaviors. 

The central force for eliminating bad habits, according to Wood, is “friction”: if we can make bad habits more inconvenient, then inertia can carry us in the direction of virtue, without ever requiring us to be strong. 

Where Wood emphasizes situational control as a way of making good habits easy, Duhigg writes about a woman who bites her nails and is advised to find something else to do with her hands that will produce a comparable physical stimulation, such as rapping her knuckles on a desk. The idea is to keep the powerful structure of cue and reward intact but to tweak the content of the routine. 

I never though about it in those terms, but I've been accidentally doing that with my writing. In order to write at a consistent level every day, I have a very strict routine:
get up: 7:35.
leave the house:8:35.
arrive at the Gardens: 8:50.
meditate for 15 minutes.
enter the Gardens: 9:10.
have a muffin and read a few websites (the same ones every day.
Start writing: 9:35.

Also, the only thing I do at the Gardens is sit in the cafeteria and write. I don't walk around the gardens, which are lovely. After I eat breakfast, I don't look at my phone. When I sit down, the only thing I've done in that place for months is write, and it triggers me to start. All the distractions are marshmallows, and I've systematically put them all away. And it's easy, when I set it up that way.

Other ways? Very hard. Trying to fit writing in is very difficult, and it's also very difficult to write in three or four different places each week, like I used to. I could still write, but it took much longer to get started, and I tended to get distracted. That's why this research resonates with me pretty strongly.

On a side note, I started doing the rapping knuckles thing when I have the urge to bite my nails. I'll let you know if it works.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Content Was Hung By The Chimney With Care

Okay, I'm written out through the end of the week, including a couple of small posts for Friday. I probably won't write anything else until next week unless something goes very wrong with the procedure.

Here We Go

All right, I'll be going in this afternoon to get the injection of platelets into my elbow, which a friend has described as "excruciatingly painful," so I've got that going for me.

Interestingly, the office phoned in a prescription for post-procedure pain. I went and picked it up: a bottle of Vicodin.

Hell, no.

Vicodin is terrible. When I take it, it makes me feel like a constipated, angry bear. Who wants to be a constipated, angry bear?

Not even a bear, obviously.

My friend said to ask for a partial prescription of Valium, which will get me through the first night and following day, at which point I should be able to manage the pain without any help.


Tesla unveiled their truck last week.

I know what you're thinking, but that's not a joke. The vehicle in that image is going into production, and it has bulletproof glass, too (although it failed during the presentation).

I had no idea the citizen militia demographic was large enough to support their own vehicle.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Cross My Heart

I swear to god an actual sadist designed the header and footer functionality in Microsoft Word (2013 edition, anyway). I can write the damn book in the length of time it's taking me just to get page numbers working properly. I don't want to use page numbers on certain pages because they display images, and you'd think that would be easy but hell, no, it's not. Incredible.

Costume Count 2019! (part two)

The best costume I saw on Halloween was a tiny person wearing a chick suit. The suit was brilliant white fluff, like a big circle, and she had a little beak on her face, along with huge chicken feet. She was also a little unsteady in the wind, which made her even more adorable.

She got plenty of candy.

She was also, incredibly, the first trick-or-treater I saw.

Second best: three middle school girls who came as the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Very, very clever.

One thing that stood out this year: costume variety. Out of 69 trick-or-treaters, there were no costumes worn by more than two kids, and that's never happened before. Some of you reported the same variety as well.

Here's my top ten (eleven) list of the most interesting costumes, based on your reports:
Avocado (that's a very funny idea)
BatMum (exactly what it sounds like--a mum dressed as Batman)
Bob Ross (seriously, I want to see every six-year-old dressed like Bob Ross for Halloween)
Crazy Cat Lady (that's next level)
Dark Cheerleader (a quality twist)
Egg Beater Jesus (a classic, go here)
Female Plausible Batman Villain (the description of the year)
Hansel (from Zoolander)
Rainbow Poop Emoji
VSCO Girl (very clever)
Zombie Little Red Riding Hood (I love the classics)

I think the top three has to be Bob Ross, Egg Beater Jesus, and Female Plausible Batman Villain. No way to pick a winner out of that quality group.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Friday Links!

Some terrific links this week from C. Lee. First, and I've always had a soft spot for Finns, it's The most pessimistic town in the world. This is amazing: To Defy the United States, Fidel Castro Built the World’s Greatest Ice Cream Parlor. I'd like a dog to use a soundboard with a John Cleese accent: The World's First Talking Dog Is a Very Good, Very Smart Girl.

More links from C. Lee. Fantastic Innovation: This Bioplastic Made From Fish Scales Just Won the James Dyson Award. This is remarkable: Stretchy, Degradable Semiconductors Are the Future of Everything. Here's an excellent interview with Brian Reynolds: Brian Reynolds (MicroProse/Firaxis) – Interview.

From Wally, and Nolan Ryan already tested this: Relativistic Baseball. Wait, this is different than what they look like today? What America’s Shopping Malls Looked Like In 1989. This is a great, great video: Croatian firefighters on call seconds before winning penalty. What a disaster: Scandal Engulfs Independent Publisher Chizine Publications.

More links from Wally, but a new paragraph for readability. Well, this was decades overdue: Twinkies for breakfast? Snack cake in cereal form coming to groceries nationwide. I never thought this would happen: How airships could return to our crowded skies. This is excellent and incredibly obscure: The Lost Key of QWERTY. This is legitimately insane: Watch This Gargantuan Boat Lift An Entire Cruise Ship Out Of The Water.

Ending this week, and I think it might go down as one of the greatest achievements in gaming history (a dubious honor, perhaps, but still): The 9-year journey to explore each of EVE Online's 7,805 solar systems.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

You Just Thought I Was Done

From an e-mailer who wishes to remain anonymous:
Believe it or not, I have a story relevant to this topic.

When he was a young man, my grandfather on my father’s side was drafted into the military. Thinking about the times, I suppose this must’ve been for Korea. So, my grandfather was a mean old cuss, so I’m told, and he was rightly pissed at being drafted. Nonetheless, the shows up to his first day, and as part of that, you’ve gotta get your hair cut. Well my grandfather had a large mole on his head, and as he sat down to get his buzzcut, he said to the barber, “now you listen to me, I’ve got a mole in back of my head, so mind your clippers or I’ll knock you on your ass.” As the story goes, the barber doesn’t pay one bit of attention to this and saws right through that mole with the clippers. My grandfather jumps up roaring like a madman and slugs that barber in the jaw before trying to beat the living hell out of him. And so it was that my grandfather was drafted into the army, showed up for one day, punched an army barber in the mouth, and then spent the rest of the war in Leavenworth.

Costume Count 2019

I'm sorry that this took so long. My back was down for the count, and it took quite a while to get to the point where I could sit at the keyboard long enough to do the compilation.

What Costume Count 2019 will most be remembered for is weather. It was awful.

In Grand Rapids, it was 30F and snowing with 40+ wind gusts. This was not even unusual, as everyone else from the Midwest who reported mentioned very similar weather. "Winter coat" thus became a very popular costume this year.

It was so bad that I saw a parent holding her child under her arm like an unwieldy bag of groceries, running from house to house.

So 391 total costumes reported this year, which is less than half as many as usual. Weather, plus I did a poor job of reminding you this year. I'll be better in 2020.

Locations (from east to west, but without consulting a map, so maybe not so good):
Huntsville, Alabama
Toronto, Ontario (2)
East Grand Rapids, Michigan
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Chicago, Illinois
St. Paul, Minnesota
Portland, Oregon
Seattle, Oregon

Top Ten (with ties):
12 Princess
10 Batman
10 Ninja
10 Spiderman
9  Vampire
8  Mario
8  Witch
7  Cat
7  Clown
6  M&M
6  Wonder Woman

I feel like we're making progress as a society when Wonder Women are gaining on Princesses. That feels like a very good thing.

More on Monday.

A Request

If you follow UK politics closely, would you please send me an email? I have a few questions.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

I hear things

I've mentioned this before, but sometimes, people tell me things.

I was having a haircut on Tuesday, and I asked my barber (a delightful person) a series of questions that eventually led to this: "Did you have any haircuts when you first started out that were so bad they were embarrassing?"

This was the money question, because it led to a series of stories about being right out of beauty college, and I'll share the best one with you.

Her first job was with a men's haircut place, and at this place, you could get shaved with a straight razor. Well, she'd never been trained in the use of a straight razor at beauty college, because almost no one uses it anymore.

Her boss showed her--once--how it should be used, and cut her loose.

She said that in beauty college, she didn't learn anything about moles, either. Of course, that meant one of her very first customers would ask for a straight-razor shave.

Did he have a mole? Why are you even asking?

So now she had a straight razor--mole combo platter, and you can see where this is leading. In the process of shaving him, she sliced right through the mole on the back of his neck, cutting it in half.

The blade, though, was so sharp that the customer didn't even notice.

So she's standing there, half a mole in her hand. Something we should all experience at least once in live, obviously. She's totally panicked, so she does the only thing she can think of to do: she STICKS IT BACK ON.

The obvious problem with this strategy, of course, is that as soon as she does this, she has to watch it every second to make sure it doesn't fall off again. It's like an "I Love Lucy" episode, but with moles.

The man eventually leaves, the two halves of his mole still tenuously held together.

This is what she learned, and it applies to a wide variety of situations: if something goes seriously wrong, say something immediately.

Either that, or be ready to watch a lot of mole parts.

China Update

I did receive one example of a company standing up to China.

Incredibly, it's EA.

Joshua Buergel sent in this link: The Sims banned in China and the Middle East ‘over same-sex relationships’.

That happened in July of last year, and while I do give credit to EA, the game launched in 2011. The "controversial" (to idiots) aspects were added in 2017. So EA probably drained 90%+ of the possible revenue from the game before doing this.

Still, stones are stones.

Chris Meadowcraft also sent in an interesting article about Chinese manufacturing: Many Chinese manufacturers are behaving as though they have no future.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

In Text

To Eli 18.3:
Wait, is this punter wearing jorts-length pants?

This is a disgraceful image, and wow, those really are jorts. 

The NFL: vanguards of fashion.

The Four Characteristics of an Authoritarian Leader

This is from a book I read on Stalin. It's useful now, given what's happening here and in the world.

1. The Great Leader is never wrong.
2. Only the Great Leader can solve the country's problems.
3. There is always a conspiracy against the Great Leader.
4. The Great Leader is always the victim.

The Plan*

*usually never followed

I'm having PRP therapy on my elbow next Tuesday, which will keep me away from keyboard for a few days, at least.

What I'm going to do, hopefully, is write content today and tomorrow that will cover the rest of this week and through the next.

Plus, I'm going to do something new for Thanksgiving-Friday links this year. Because some of you will be trapped and bored to death somewhere, I'm going to post Friday links on Thanksgiving, and every link will be a long read. That should keep you distracted from the tragedy around you, if needed.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Honest Press Releases, Vol. 1

Chick-fil-A To Stop Funding Controversial Groups After LGBTQ Protests
Chick-fil-A announced it will take a different approach to its charitable giving in 2020 following years of protests from LGBTQ groups that have taken issue with the Atlanta-based food chain’s donations to organizations that do not support gay rights.

“Staying true to its mission of nourishing the potential in every child, the Chick-fil-A Foundation will deepen its giving to a smaller number of organizations working exclusively in the areas of education, homelessness and hunger,” the organization announced Monday.

Hahahahahahahahah. I'll fix that for you.

Chic-fil-A To Stop Funding Controversial Groups After Discovering Popeye's Chicken Sandwich Tastes Better
Chic-fil-A announced it will take a different approach to charitable giving after Popeye's introduced a better chicken sandwich. "Shit, man, Popeye's?" said a Chic-fil-A spokesman. "We've had the chicken sandwich locked down for fifty years. Now Popeye's has thirty cars lined up in the damn drive-through. We've still got waffle fries, ya'll!"

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (Two-hour impressions)

I have incredibly fond memories of two Star Wars games (I've played over a dozen): Super Star Wars (SNES) and Knights of the Old Republic (PC, original version). KOTOR, in particular, was a towering game, just brilliant in both design and execution, with quality everywhere.

Now that I think of it, that SNES Star Wars game was pretty fantastic, too, with a trench run at the end that was a brilliant recreation of the original.

Most of the time, though, Star Wars games are disappointments. Over-hyped, unfinished, never quite hitting the mark.

This time, though, I was hyped. Early reviews were 90+. This must be the one. And I have EA Sovereign Ruler Access or somesuch service, so I was able to play this game for "free."

I've played two hours.

Three alternative names for this game:
Uncharted: Jedi
Crash Bandicoot: Jedi Edition
Star Wars: Grate and Vine

WTF-itty-F is this?

The reviews talk about an open-world game that's mostly exploration, mixed with combat. Where is that game? The game I'm playing is an endless runner with lots of grate and vine climbing.

It also has the dramatic impact of a sponge.

I'm running and slashing and jumping and climbing, all along a pre-determined path on a train, and there are BIG MOMENTS™  coming every few minutes, but they just don't care how long it takes me. What would that feel like in real life?

Dear Father,
I am still trapped between railway cars, where I have been for the last six months. Curiously, though the enemy continues to engage in repetitive search patterns and behavior, they have been unable to find me. Perhaps they will tire one day. 

[SPOILER ALERT: That letter could not be written for reasons]

The problem with setting up BIG MOMENTS™ like this without any sense of pace is that all the bigness drains out of them. When it happens over and over again, it just feels ridiculous.

Look, I understand that it's just an introduction to the game, but why introduce the game and it's physical commands in a level that is apparently totally unlike the rest of the game? It's just cheap.

Oh, and in the Cheap Dept., how about getting caught on scenery, or how if you can't grab onto something when you jump, you just sort of bounce off? Yeah, it looks bad. Real bad.

It's not that there aren't deft moments in the first two hours. There are some terrific bits of dialogue and moments that feel natural and genuine. The game is a tremendously odd mix of deft and clumsy, often within seconds of each other.

Tomorrow: Hey, it kind of opens up! Into a slightly different endless runner.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Friday Links!

Well, it's not just here, apparently (college admissions): Scandal of kids posing as researchers continues to grow in South Korea.

This is entirely interesting: Physics holds the secret to volleyball’s highly unpredictable “float serve”.

From C. Lee, and it's concerning: Researchers hack Siri, Alexa, and Google Home by shining lasers at them. This is fascinating: The secret to better beer could lie in cell signaling networks. A very interesting possibility: Sunlight-Tracking Polymer, Inspired by Sunflowers, Could Maximize Solar Power. A strong read: The Men Who Still Love "Fight Club". Even Harry Potter can't go home anymore: Harry Potter’s childhood home is now renting rooms on Airbnb. A bizarre story: The Irkutsk Babr.

From Joshua Buergel, and it's a terrific read: The new dot com bubble is here: it’s called online advertising.

From Wally, a bit of Jenga mastery: Expert. What a headline: Bird of the Year: Rare anti-social penguin wins New Zealand poll. This is amazing: "Unsinkable metal" stays afloat even with holes punched in it. This is a very cool idea: November 1, 1964.

From Eric Higgins-Freese, and it's a terrific read: "Removing the water": physically-accurate color correction algorithm for underwater photography. And a video: This researcher created an algorithm that removes the water from underwater images.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

All Right, Let's Wade Into This

I wasn't going to write about this today, but since the flu-like fever dream has passed, I guess it's as good a time as any.

Yes. Blizzard, free speech, and Hong Kong.

First off, there's a very NSFW Jimquisition video: Blizzard is Pathetic. Everything he says, and the incendiary tone, is true. Blizzard is actually pathetic, and their "apology" at Blizzcon was a huge embarrassment.

If you haven't heard anything about this (I don't know how that's even possible), here's a quick summary: Blizzard suspended a professional Hearthstone player after a post-match interview in which he expressed support for the protesters in Hong Kong (longer summary).

Now, I'm going to do something I didn't think I would do: defend Blizzard. Maybe not in the way you expect, though.

There's one mistake in the Jimquisition video (which is both on-point and very funny): several times, he says that companies want access to the China market because it's worth millions in revenue.

Nope. It's not millions. It's billions. Billions and billions. An example: China's mega shopping event, Singles Day, sold more in 24 hours than Amazon sells in two months.

Blizzard is absolutely complicit. But then, so are we all.

Both of these things are true:
1. China is a anti-democratic, brutal regime.
2. The commerce relationship we have with China has benefited us to an incredible degree.

How do you parse those two things? I honestly don't know. What I do know is that no companies are refusing access to the Chinese market, and no consumers are refusing to buy things made in China, so we're all kind of in this together.

In that context, Blizzard's mealy-mouth non-apology (just like the NBA) makes sense. Trying to appease both sides is mutually exclusive, in this case, so they sound ridiculous. But people are trying to make their money, as people will do.

Which is very, very sad, because those Hong Kong protests are enormous and have the potential to cause seismic change, if anyone really cared.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Based on Current Data

From the information I've gathered in the last few weeks, there is a definite pattern to booth selection at the Gardens.

Women often "queue up" and sit in the closest booth to someone already there. Men, in contrast, absolutely never do.

Is it possible that men's vast Urinal Etiquette experience preclude them from sitting in the closest booth? Women, having their own stalls, have never received any training in this delicate social dance.

Um, hurray?

I had my annual physical yesterday.

As part of the visit, I had my second round of the shingles vaccine.

That's great, because anyone who's had shingles will tell you that it's very, very painful.

What is not great is that I had a reaction to the vaccine and shivered uncontrollably for over an hour last night, and now I feel like a truck ran over me. A large truck. "Flu-like symptoms," they say.

Hey, my back is better, at least. I'll take that.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Costume Count in Countening

That's not a word obviously, "costume."

I raked leaves and mowed the front yard on Sunday, because the big chill was on its way. All I'd done for five days was walk and stretch my back as often as possible. I felt like this was a good time to test it out.

I got through it all, but man, I'm sore. So this is going to be a slow recovery, unfortunately, and I'm trying to limit my time seated.

That's a long-winded way of explaining that I haven't tallied the costume counts yet, but I'm starting today. I want to get up the summary before we're eating turkey, which would just be poor form on my part.

Monday, November 11, 2019

A Haiku For When It Gets Cold

Almost ideal nose
A champion in summer
Why must you run so?

This is not a real turtle

It's been snowing for about 12 hours straight now. Humans consider this sub-optimal.

I went to get a replacement furnace filter yesterday, and found a high-quality filter for $19.99. Then I saw what looked like the exact same filter for $24.99.

There was an  employee putting out merchandise in the same aisle, so I went up to her and asked about the difference. "Bluetooth," she said.

That's right. The filter has a bluetooth connection that will send you a message when it's time to change the filter. That's why it costs $5 more.

Why stop there? Slap a router on that bad boy for $249.99. Let's go.

Friday, November 08, 2019

Friday Links!

Incredibly, I watched a few episodes of this as a kid, if I got home from school quickly. Barnabus Collins FTW: I Can't Stop Watching This Late 1960s Soap Opera About a Vampire.

A wonderful story from now-defunct Deadspin: My Life As A Minor League Baseball Clown.

This should come as no surprise: Undercover reporter reveals life in a Polish troll farm.

From Wally, and these are so brilliant: Hong Kong student living in Toronto strikes a nerve on Twitter with eerie observations about Canadian life. Some things should never be accidents: Man accidentally buys 1000 hens from online auction. Useful and encouraging: The inspiring story of how Cloudflare defeated a patent troll and broke the patent-trolling business-model. An interesting read: How the Web Became Unreadable.

From Eric Higgins-Freese, and it's fascinating: This Amazing Image Made of Code Looks Different Based on Your Browser. Here's the actual website. I am personally a fan of "OK Boomer": Why “OK BOOMER” is GENIUS!

From Kevin Womack, and it's genius: One Page Dungeon Generator.

From C. Lee, and this is remarkable:  Measles wipes out immune system's memory, study finds. This is awesome! Google Maps for the Roman World. Boy, do I remember this: When the Internet Was Made of Sound. Hmm: Why Ireland’s Pub Owners Have Long Moonlighted as Undertakers. Yeah, don't do this: Here’s why you should never use decorative contact lenses—in graphic pictures.

Thursday, November 07, 2019

All Politics are Local

At a time when it appears that one party's entire political strategy has taken on the ghost of Groucho Marx, who famously said, "Who do you believe? Me or your own eyes?", it's comforting to retreat into small town politics.

My small town, in this case.

There were two controversies in the mayoral race. The incumbent said that her 52-year-old opponent would "make a fine mayor" with "more experience." The whippersnapper responded that the mayor had passed out campaign flyers at a high school football game, then neglected to stay to pick up the trash generated from the flyers.

"It's gone thermonuclear," I said. "Young person versus litterer.  A battle for the ages."

"I don't understand how a fifty-two year old needs more experience," Gloria said.

"Just a few more decades of seasoning," I said. "She needs to reach the median age of voters in this town."

Oh, controversy burning bright. That was the entire campaign, I think, except for a police union endorsement from a force that must number at least five.

Yesterday, it was showdown time.

"I wonder if they'll keep the polls open late if one person calls ahead and says they can't make it on time," I said. "They'll probably bring cookies."

In the end, litter proved to be a larger issue than age. Fifty-two year old youth won by 800 votes out of almost 4000 cast, a decisive victory for something I believe we can all agree on: people should pick up their trash.

All hail democracy!

Wednesday, November 06, 2019


I saw a story that said "Older people's most common regrets."

Well, damn it.

It's really shitty to have gone to the middle designation of old. Not oldest, yet, but headed in that direction.

All right, I'll click on the damn thing. Maybe I'll find something to avoid.

I clicked and was rewarded with a paragraph of text and a "1 of 31" slide show.

31 regrets? How do people even keep that many regrets organized? Who can even remember 31 things to regret?

No, I didn't start the slideshow. I figured when I finally finished, I'd have 32 regrets, and nobody has time for that.


I just heard a little girl tell her mother that her favorite color is "rainbow." That's pretty profound, honestly.

Tuesday, November 05, 2019


I'm never very fast to start with in terms of answering e-mail, and my back is going to slow that down considerably, so apologies. Also, if the Costume Count is delayed by a few days, rest assured that it will still get done. I just need a few days to get my back functional again (I'd take semi-functional, too).

Fifteen Balls to Midnight

I don't know, that title sounds kind of questionable.

I scotch-taped my right elbow together to make it through the summer. Which I did, and it was wonderful, to spend so much time playing golf with Eli 18.3.

Then I thought I would wait to have PRP therapy done on my elbow (6-week recovery time) because the weather was still nice enough to play in September. I could always have it done when outdoor golf was no longer a possibility.

"Possibility" has a spectrum of meanings.

I was on the range on Saturday, wind chill 26F. Only one other person was there--a robust Hispanic man roughly my age who was playing "Wild Thing" on a boombox.

You see why I waited to stop playing? How good is that?

I had about a dozen balls left in the bag and the tips of my fingers were numb, so I stopped and dropped off the balls next to his bag. He told me if my fingers were numb, he could fix that, and he offered me a shot of tequila.

Like I said, the things I would have missed.

I scheduled the elbow procedure for November 26, and figured I would hit balls as long as I could, even though the weather has steadily been getting worse. Yesterday, I got lucky. It was almost 50F (balmy), and I'd hit about 50 balls, maybe 15 left. I started my backswing--and my back said "Get the hell off the golf course." Pretty substantial pain, so much so that I never even finished my backswing. I just stopped, picked up my bag, and walked off the range.

Today, I stopped by to say hello, and the guys at the course said that today was the last day they were going to be open, at least until Saturday. It's basically end of season.

Which means I was within 15 balls of making it through without injury. Random number generators, man. They suck.

Monday, November 04, 2019

Costume Count Reporting

I'm not going to tally the Costume Count until Wednesday night, so you still have time to send in your information.

We had about sixty trick or treaters this year. They seemed abundant, given that it was snowing and the wind was gusting 30+ MPH. Lots of kids had "winter coat" as their costume, but they would always explain, sometimes at great length, their actual costume if you asked.

Up here, you just ignore the weather, if it's something important. Oh, and you deny the weather, too. Walking out of the Gardens today, I saw two women walking in, and one of them said, "You know, the growing season in George is shorter than it is here."

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

In reality, we're all living in the winter version of New York Mining Disaster 1941. The song has a great story behind it, too: New York Mining Disaster 1941.

Friday, November 01, 2019

Friday Link!

Leading off this week, the launch trailer for Death Stranding, which is predictably bonkers: Death Stranding | Launch Trailer | PS4.

From Wally, and if you have a cat, you'll understand: Sad Cat Diary-zefrank. These are stunning images: An underground world of Soviet opulence. These are next-level: Incredible Halloween Costumes Inspired by Famous Works of Art. This is a fascinating read: The Untold Story of the Secret Mission to Steal Nazi Map Data. This will eventually be a very big deal: Lab cultured 'steaks' grown on an artificial gelatin scaffold. Rough: Mountain biker's attempt to jump off ski jump goes extremely wrong. A national tragedy: Sad news: truck-eating bridge to be raised this week (there's a TWENTY MINUTE compilation video, if you're so inclined). What a story: How the World’s First Floating Hotel ended up as a Doomed Wreck in North Korea.

From Joshua Buergel, and this is a deep dive: The Printing of Demand Notes.

From C. Lee, and it's terrific: When the Cure for Poisonous Cider Was Hours of Bathtime. Alarming: Why Did Thousands of Rubber Bands Show Up on an Uninhabited Cornish Island? Useful: Why do smart people do stupid things? This is an excellent read: Why do we think cats are unfriendly? This is an unbelievably fantastic grammar nerd post: The “Only” Comma, pt. 1.

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