Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Level Up, Midwest

This (it's a restaurant's description from their web page):
...blends midwestern sensibilities and Tejano flair...

Well, that's a concern. 

In my five-year experience, those two qualities do not blend successfully. Ever. The worst qualities of Midwestern food (blandness) overwhelm the best qualities of Mexican food. 

As an example, this restaurant has the following taco description:
green chicken chorizo, chorizo, egg, hashbrown, queso fresco.

Those are all the right words, and many Mexican restaurants in the Midwest use the words for things that should taste good. 

Do they taste good? They do not. 

This restaurant is about a three-minute walk from my apartment, though, so as Charlie Brown, with Lucie smiling and holding the football in front of me, I set forth. 

I ordered one of the already mentioned tacos, as well as green chile rice and borracho beans. 

The rice and beans? Nope. Nope, nope, nope. 

The taco? Delicious. Totally worthy. And not too expensive, either. 

Let the extended celebrations begin!

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

The Paper Beast Has Been Slain


Over 150 separate folds. Which is not very many, by origami standards. DQ Origami Expert Garret Alley filled me in on a few basics. In short, origami's complexity level is so staggeringly insane that I had absolutely no idea. Not a clue. 

This is modular origami with five pieces (four petals, one eye). And I didn't even fold it very well, but damn, that took a big chunk out of a week. And I'll tell you, it felt so satisfying when I actually made one that looked decent.

What I didn't understand about origami is that it has two levels of beauty that are very appealing. There's an external beauty from looking at the finished product, but there's also an internal beauty that only reveals itself as you learn to do all the folds. It's really stunning how these petals slide into the eye (using that one sorcerer's fold that I finally learned how to do). 

No origami for a while. I've had enough for now.

Monday, June 28, 2021


I went to the mall today. 

I saw a new store called "Bath Planet," and I quickly asked the relevant question: do we really need an entire planet for baths? 

I don't even think a whole country is needed, or even a state. Bath County still seems excessive. Bath Town? Still too big. Even Bath Village seems like more infrastructure than we need for baths. 

I would be totally satisfied with either Bath House or Bath Room, although both would obviously cause some confusion.

There's no obvious answer here, although I have to say Bath Gazebo is growing on me.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Friday Links!

Leading off this week, and it's a mind-blowing story: A fake wedding, and a $250,000 scam

This is a fascinating and remarkable story: The Man Who Put Out Fires with Music.

Someone took the details of this incident and wound it into a deliciously subversive story ("there is no indication the incident had anything to do with the price of lumber" is Hall of Fame quality): Police break up exorcism inside Home Depot store

From Wally, and it's fantastic: ISS Expedition 66 patch, 2021. This is a wonderful rabbit hole: Once Upon a Time

From Chris Meadowcraft, and it's fascinating: Dark Fish

From C. Lee, and it's another kind of scam: Why are glasses so expensive? The eyewear industry prefers to keep that blurry. This is an incredible story: Romania asked Peter Falk to help prevent an uprising after the country ran out of Columbo episodes. A legendary semiconductor designer: An AnandTech Interview with Jim Keller: 'The Laziest Person at Tesla'. More boldly, indeed: Antidepressants in Our Water Make Crayfish Go Buck Wild. Seems intriguing: Rip and Tear Your Through Love in This 'Doom' Dating Game. Very clever: New Patch Fixes Glitch That Made Pen Mightier Than Sword.

State of Illness

All right, let's do it. 

I decided on Monday that I wanted to make an origami daisy, because my brain was mush and I am very cheevo-oriented. 

Also, because I am insane. Origami is excruciatingly precise. 

I found an excellent video, and then I couldn't make it to the end, because of one particularly maddening fold. Then I found a second video, much like the first video, and I made it quite well until at 6:15 he does some kind of sorcerer's move not of this Earth. 

Even worse, even trying to do this fold of the dark arts unfolds a bunch of other things, and how did those things fold originally? I have no idea. 

I persevered. 

I failed on the first day, and the second. On the third, today, using a paper twice the correct size, I somehow managed to do it correctly. However, my chances of doing it with the half-sized paper are essentially zero stretching into forever. 

So here's a link to the video: How to make a Paper "Daisy Flower" - Modular Origami. If you have idle time, and are so inclined, have your whack at this Everest of disappointment. If you do it successfully, send me a picture, and you will be forever enshrined in the Dubious Quality Origami Hall of Fame, which is a thing that doesn't exist but it will be starting immediately. 

Unsuccessful attempts may also be enshrined, depending on their comedy level. 

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

How The Day's Going

Curse you, origami!

Drama, Or Lack Of It

The NBA is an incredibly skilled league right now. It's fun to watch. 

When the clock is running, that is. 

Last night, the last 1:30 (90 seconds) of the Clippers-Suns game took 42 minutes to play.

Don't believe me? I made a breakdown.

1:31  Official review (5 minutes, including 3:30 of commercials)
1:06  Official review (3:00)
0:30  Timeout Phoenix (3:30 commercials)
0:27  Timeout L.A. (3:30 commercials)
0:9.2 Official Review (6:00, including 3:30 of commercials)
0:7.8 Timeout Phoenix (3:30 commercials)
0:0.9 Official Review (2:30)
0:0.7 Official Review (6:00)

The clock wasn't running for all of the rest, but at least the players were on the court. 

The last 0:30, by the way, took 33 minutes. 

It seems like when you show 20 minutes of commercials in the last 90 seconds of the game, you have a problem (not to mention 5 official reviews). And it's too bad, because without the 40 minutes of padding, the ending would have been one of the best I've ever seen to an NBA game. 

Might want to get that fixed, NBA.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Baby Steps

Well, as I struggle through both a bad back and a throat infection (bonus!), I thought yesterday about Carl Nassib.

Nassib is a defensive end for the Oakland Raiders, and he came out as gay yesterday. And you know what was nice? 

It wasn't a big deal. 

Nobody threw out their ice-cold take about how it might "disrupt" the locker room. Nobody said it would make his teammates question him. I didn't hear one idiot take yesterday. 

Remember just seven years ago when Michael Sam came out before the draft? Pearl clutchers were out in full force, talking about "team chemistry" and every other possible vague term for "we don't like gay people." It was a huge deal. 

I've never really understood why everyone who wasn't white, male and Christian had to fight to be treated equally for over two centuries in this country. And, in many cases, still aren't.

Still, though, this is progress

Monday, June 21, 2021

Supreme Court to the NCAA: "You're morons."

The Supreme Court brought down the hammer on the NCAA today. 

The NCAA has always had an impenetrable forest of regulations restricting athletes from compensation, including computers, internships, and study abroad. They don't actually care about this kind of compensation, of course, but any kind of compensation raises the possibility of opening the barn door to athletes actually getting paid for being employees.

The Supreme Court basically mocked the NCAA's position in a 9-0 decision. And for the first and probably only time in my life, I agree with Brett Kavanaugh:
"Nowhere else in America can businesses get away with agreeing not to pay their workers a fair market rate on the theory that their product is defined by not paying their workers a fair market rate," Kavanaugh wrote. "And under ordinary principles of antitrust law, it is not evident why college sports should be any different. The NCAA is not above the law."


This decision is not to be confused with pending NIL (name, image, likeness) changes, which are coming at rocket speed. But the ridiculous arguments about compensation will fall quickly now. The Overton window is no longer "Should college athletes be compensated?" but "How should college athletes be compensated?" That's a big deal.

I can't wait for how long it takes ESPN to trot out a coach's son/ex-athlete shouting that "a scholarship and the honor of representing the school" should be enough compensation for anyone. 

Whatever, boomer.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Friday Links!

Leading off this week: arise, Scrabble nerds! In defense of Scrabble: One family’s 30-year long game and the unavoidable meanings of words

From Jonathon W., and these are wonderful pictures: Photographs of Staten Island and New York Harbor in 1973

From Wally, and these look terrific: The U.S. Postal Service to Issue NASA Sun Science Forever Stamps. I feel like this is one of those games that is more fun to read about: Blaseball showcases the power of a healthy fandom. This is both terrific reporting and super depressing; The Amazon That Customers Don’t See. This is a lovely story: Rolls-Royce completes restoration of its most special vehicle. Okay, this robot's fingers are better than mine: GPR-1 Hand Control. It seems unlikely, but I like that they're trying: DuckDuckGo’s Quest to Prove Online Privacy Is Possible

From C. Lee, and it's a fascinating possibility: Is Poe the most influential American writer? A new book offers evidence. An excellent read: It’s Hard Work to Restore Rio’s Christ the Redeemer, but the Views Are Amazing. This is fantastic: Brighter daylight window design inspired by Morpho butterfly. This is an incredible and inspiring story: Seaweed farmer, 60, opens for famed pianist with Liszt piece. This is surprising, and what a classic book: Eric Carle’s ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ was hatched in Japan. Got a lot going on here: A Shark, Eating a Squid, Eating a Lobster, in One Fossil. Wait, what? New Historical Evidence Shows People Once Played Video Games for Fun


Today's edition of Dubious Quality is brought to you standing up, because even though I can still swing hard enough to hit a golf ball really far, that doesn't mean I should.

Slipways is the first game I want to talk about. It's a space strategy game that takes about thirty minutes a session to play. Basically, you're just exploring planets to see what kinds of trade they support, then connecting planets with inputs/outputs so that everything is optimized. There is also an excellent tech tree to explore, if you build science laboratories and supply them with personnel and resources. 

I know that sounds simple, but it is staggeringly satisfying to watch planets become more successful as you build networks of planets that work with each other. Very flow state, for me, and I highly recommend it. $16.99, and worth every penny.

The second game is just a demo, for now: Ogopogo (yes, I also love that name so much). It's a form of Tetris, but instead of shapes you're creating color palindromes with tiles. The way it bends your brain is entirely wonderful, and it's releasing on August 27 with lots of additional gameplay and modes. The demo is absolutely worth checking out.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Man, People

This is the number of vaccination doses given per 100,000 people in the U.S. by state:

You don't even need a legend, do you? It's immediately obvious that the lowest vaccination rate is the states with the light green shading. 17 states, 16 of whom voted for Trump (plus Georgia).

Of course, your chances for hospitalization if you catch COVID are no different than they were three months ago. And if you're unvaccinated, your only protection comes from other people being vaccinated. Plus, given the low vaccination rates in those states, the virus is going to have a much longer time to possibly mutate into something that the vaccines aren't effective against (requiring a booster, which will take time). 

I'm trying to be optimistic here, but damn. People.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Two Tales Told in Texts

One of my very good friends was in a situation last weekend where he had to be social for several consecutive days with a family he really didn't want to see. He spent the first two days min-maxing the situation, then texted me this on Saturday night:
In case you're wondering, meal #3 is when you run out of things to say to people you don't really want to be around.

I texted back:
That's meal #1 for me. 

Hmm, I guess that's a tale about me, in the end. Footnote: he survived. 

Second tale. Eli 19.10, after driving back from Glacier National Park in two days (12+ hours on the road each day), arrived at 2:00 a.m. this morning. I had intended to be there to give him a hug, but that was too late for even my highest ambition. 

I figured he'd be exhausted today. 

Instead, when I woke up, I had this text waiting for me:
2:11 AM
Hey, text me in the morning if you want to golf early, maybe tee off around 9!

I believe if we extracted his energy core it would power an entire nation.

Monday, June 14, 2021

I Think It Would Catch on

For some reason, I woke up yesterday thinking about a hipster restaurant called "Navel" that would be pronounced. "nah-vel."

Glacier National Park

Yeah, that's hard to beat.



Border is definitely one of the more astonishing films I've ever seen.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Friday Links!

Leading off this week, a terrific read: The Classicist Who Killed Homer.

These are stunning images: 2021 Competition Winners.

This is a wonderful article: The Mystery of Magic’s Greatest Card Trick.

From C. Lee, and it's fascinating: Ancient cemetery tells a tale of constant, low-level warfare. This is excellent: Bacteria get a fresh gig as art restorers in Italy. This is absolutely incredible: A Butterfly Sipping Moisture from Puddles, Sculpted Entirely in Wood by Toru Fukuda. Totally an after death power move: Utah Woman's Headstone Includes Her Signature Fudge Recipe: 'She Would Be Thrilled' People 'Can Have a Taste'. More food, and I'll have a slice, please: The Return of Karachi’s Legendary ‘Caked Alaska’

From Wally, and it's a great story: How a Giant, Stinky, Delightful Corpse Flower Got to an Abandoned Gas Station. These illustrations are gorgeous: First Impressions: Tim Kirk's 1975 Lord of the Rings Calendar. This is impressive: Putting in a Good Word: GPU-Powered Crossword Solver Makes Best Showing Yet Against Humans. This is ugly: Record labels sue another ISP, demanding mass disconnections of Internet users

African mythology and the San

I'm currently reading The Hero with an African face, and it's fascinating. I got it because of the story I mentioned last week about the Khoikhoi: Aigamuxa, monster with its eyes on the insteps of its feet.

This book mentions the mythology of the San (pejoratively known as "Bushmen"), and their rock art, which dates back thirty thousand years. 

For a long time, Western culture viewed this art as much more recent. Erich Von Daniken couldn't believe that they even created it, and claimed it was of extraterrestrial origin (nice try, goober). 

For the San, the antelope (eland) is the "supreme vehicle of shamanic power," and the art represents both eland dying (which very specific details, like its hind legs crossing as it falters and the hair standing up on its body in a response from the nervous system), and shamans entering a spiritual state (where they acquire traits of the dying eland, so a shaman holding the eland's tail has his legs crossed, too). I'm breaking about a dozen copyright laws here, but I took a picture:

If you click on that to enlarge, you can see how beautifully the details from the eland image are transferred to the shamans. 

There's also good evidence that these images were much more than symbolic, because some of the details represented by other images suggest some of the same sensations that people experience while in a trance state. 

It's a fascinating book, if you're interested in mythology. He also talks a bit about how mythology has a different perspective in different cultures. In Western cultures, the focus is on the individual. In Eastern cultures, the focus is on the group. In African cultures, it's more balanced. There is a common African saying that goes "I am because we are. We are because I am."

Oops (cue flute playing)

Jethro Tull nerd Michael Gilbert told me (quite gently) that I have chronic lyricosis, as "reverie tree" is actually "under every tree."

Point taken. 

In my defense, though, damn, my version is good.

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

The Reverie Tree

There's a song in Jethro Tull's Songs From the Wood that talks about someone sitting in the "reverie tree."

I think we all have one of those. It's the place where we feel most at peace. 

It's different for everyone, I'm sure, but for me, it's when I'm totally absorbed in something. It's called "flow state" now.

That defines just about every peaceful moment I have. Meditation. Being with Eli 19.10. Writing. Even films, at times. Anything that totally concentrates me. 

One of the unique aspects of this, for me, is that I can get into this state with people. With Eli, it's pretty much instant, and almost always has been. Also, one of the reasons that therapy has done so much for me is that I get into flow state with my therapist. It took about three years, but it happens on a pretty regular basis now, and it makes it possible for me to reflect on things I couldn't face otherwise. 

I'm guessing this is different for extroverts, and that they'd have a very different reverie tree than I do. 

I was driving today (which, like everyone, is one of the places I get ideas), and I suddenly thought about arcades. 

Then about three realizations hit me at once. 

The first was that I always felt comfortable in arcades, even though it was a social situation. I met friends there all the time, but I never had that oppressive awkwardness that I felt in many other situations. 

I think it was because when I played arcade games, I definitely got into flow state. So it wasn't all social interaction. I'd play a game, talk, play again. So even though I was around a lot of people, most of whom I didn't know, I never locked up. 

In contrast, in situations that are entirely social and involve lots of people, I don't have that little bit of restoration, so my battery drains incredibly quickly. I really struggle in those situations. 

Hmm, I was supposed to go from first to second to third. Okay, "many" realizations, not three. 

The last thing I thought of was that I need to create that little buffer for myself. in those situations It could be a person, or an activity, or something. But I can't sit somewhere and try to drift in and out of conversations. 

In that situation, I'm definitely the Titanic.

Tuesday, June 08, 2021

Yellowstone and Grand Tetons

Eli 19.10 keeps sending me incredible pictures, so I'm just going to go with it. 

These are all from Yellowstone and Grand Tetons.

Not to be outdone, though, here's today's wildlife report from my little public golf course. The first otter of the season (he's in the very center and very small, because I didn't want to get too close and spook him):

And a deer off the 6th tee:

Also, a chipmunk (no picture).

I texted Eli and said "Probably better than the crap you saw."

Monday, June 07, 2021

On the Road with Eli 19.10

"Did you get the last text I sent you that said 'We just saw a bear. It was awesome.' ?"

"I did not," I said. 

"Good, because right after that, I lost signal and my phone ran out of battery. That was six hours ago."

Yeah, that would have been concerning. 

It was a black bear, about fifteen feet away, and it was very polite, apparently. It looked at them, then turned and walked off. No bear spray necessary.

Eli is on his way to Glacier National Park today, and he said the trip has been spectacular so far, although he owes me quite a few pictures he hasn't sent yet. However, here's what he did send:

Here's the obligatory Mount Rushmore shot, which they stopped at for a few minutes before heading off to Yellowstone (I think--their route in far off countries like "the Dakotas" seems very vague to me):

Mount Rushmore seems like the ultimate "check it off your list" stop. The Crazy Horse monument (still unfinished) has a much more interesting history (and man, is it larger). 

Ah, South Dakota. Never change.

Thursday, June 03, 2021

Friday Links!

Out of nowhere, a huge week this week.

This is an absolutely fascinating article on the science behind edibles: Building a better edible.

Incredible story, but is anyone even really surprised? The Untold Story of Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard’s Secret Pact With Nazi Propagandist Leni Riefenstahl

This is fantastic: New York City ethnic/Immigrant communities & neighborhoods.

A terrifically heartwarming story: Watch lemurs truly enjoy a concert by an 11-year-old girl dressed in an alligator costume.

These are so utterly spectacular: 23 Stunning Anamorphic Artworks That Can Only Be Seen With A Mirror Cylinder.

One more thing that blew my mind this week: Physicists unlock multispectral secrets of earliest color photographs

From C. Lee, and it's a tremendous four-part series on game ratings from the Digital Antiquarian:
The Ratings Game, Part 1: A Likely and an Unlikely Suspect.
The Ratings Game, Part 2: The Hearing
The Ratings Game, Part 3: Dueling Standards
The Ratings Game, Part 4: E3 and Beyond

Also from C. Lee, and food delivery has gotten so strange: What are ‘ghost restaurants’? That spot on your delivery app might not actually exist. This is a terrific read: Los Angeles Is Covered in Delicious Fruit and No One Is Eating It.

From Wally, and it's adorable: Selfish Elephant Refuses To Share Human. This is an excellent read: Why electric cars will take over sooner than you think. Next-level innovator right here: Riding A Pallet Down A Tram Track. These are jaw-dropping: Milky Way photographer of the year 2021 – in pictures. This is an excellent read: A legendary, yet mostly forgotten theme park ride rises from the grave at Knott’s Berry Farm.

From Eric Higgins-Freese, and it's excellent: Anthony Fauci’s Emails Reveal The Pressure That Fell On One Man.

From David Gloier, and I'm going to go "hard pass": A Truly Revolting Treatment Is Having a Renaissance. This is an important read: The unseen covid-19 risk for unvaccinated people

A Realization

I realized something when I was at my little public golf course today.

I saw a man with his daughter, playing golf. That's great. But then I realized that it was one of the fathers who is constantly working with his daughter on the range, and she's one of the kids who wants to use golf as a way to get a college scholarship. 

Nothing wrong with that. 

What made me sad, though, is that every time I see a man playing golf with his daughter, it's that kind of situation. I've never seen one dad out playing golf with a daughter who just sucked at golf. 

I see dads out with sons who can't play golf all the time. They're just out there to spend time together. 

So it stands out when I've never seen a dad with a daughter who's bad at golf. Just out there, hacking around and enjoying each other's company. I hope I see something like that someday.

On another sad note that is much less important, I had a chance to be -4 after six holes on Tuesday and couldn't putt because I was kind of overwhelmed by the moment. I was having a real Twilight Zone episode as far as striking the ball, and I couldn't believe I could play that well, so I hit the ball like that for all nine holes and couldn't make a single putt. 

Next time, I'll be more likely to believe that it can happen. Golf is funny like that.

Wednesday, June 02, 2021


I'm re-reading Joseph Campbell's The Hero With a Thousand Faces for research on the next book (The Man You Trust isn't finished, but I'm not working on it again until next week). 

I'd forgotten some of the astonishing myths from other cultures. In particular, the Khoikhoi (called the "Hottentots" originally by the British when they first found them), who have the following myth:
Aigamuchab, an ogre that has occasionally been encountered among the scrubs and dunes. Its eyes are set down on its instep, so that to discover what is going on it has to get down on hands and knees, and hold up one foot. The eye then looks behind, otherwise it is gazing continually at the sky. 

That's astounding enough, but they also have this fellow:
...the Hai-uri progresses by leaping over clumps of scrub instead of going around them. A dangerous, one-legged, one-armed, one-sided figure--the half-man--invisible if viewed from the off side, is encountered in many parts of the earth.

Eyes on the instep. Invisible if viewed from the off side. Those are so incredibly creative that I feel entirely inadequate.

Tuesday, June 01, 2021

Survival, Somehow

Eli 19.10 is coming up with his wonderful girlfriend this afternoon and staying for two days before they leave for a two-week National Parks trip. 

They'll be camping, which causes me some anxiety. 

Actually, a fair amount of anxiety, because parents always worry about situations where their children could be vulnerable. 

Of course, I have to remind myself that when I was twenty, I went on the most ridiculous trip ever. 

I had been a camp counselor at a summer camp in Massachusetts the previous year, and had gotten to be very good friends with an older counselor from Florida who was into endurance runs. So he proposed that I meet him in Tallahassee in June, we take a bus to Daytona Beach, and run down to Miami on the coast. 

Believe it or not, that wasn't the stupid part (we did do the run, and it was both brutal and fantastic).

The stupid part was I wanted to bicycle there from South Texas. 

The thing about me at twenty was that I just had no real fear of anything, except groups of people (introverted, remember). I wrote to newspapers along the proposed route, said I was going to write a book about the trip, and asked if they could publish my letter in their paper to hopefully have people offer places to stay. 

Incredibly, they did. 

This was 1981, remember, and things were less complicated back then. So people wrote me letters and offered their homes for the night. 

I didn't get the bicycle and the panniers, gear, etc., until very close to the trip, so I only had time to take a very small number of rides. 

In my favor, though, I was very strong from running, and I was young, and the coast of Texas is very flat. So I started out, doing about 35 miles a day (which is really not much, unless you've never done it before). 

I was hopelessly unprepared, really, but as long as you can turn the pedals, you keep moving down the road, and I did. 

The route I eventually went through was about 1,000 miles, and it took about three weeks or so. I do remember riding 106 miles one day in a part of Florida that was very hilly, and it was 104F that day. 

I stayed with strangers for three weeks, rode on lots of scary roads, and it was all okay. Even though looking back on it, I don't know how. 

Eli 19.10 is prepared, careful, and has a car, a phone, GPS, a credit card, and a companion. I remind myself of all of those things.

One other thing I remember. After about a week, I got into a car for the first time after cycling about 300 miles. It was incredibly disorienting to go at highway speed, so much so that it was hard for me to even look at the road. 

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