Thursday, December 30, 2021

Friday Links!

Happy New Year, everybody.

From Leo M., and it's long, but what a fantastic read: Demolishing Dick — How A Real Domestic Terrorist Spawned Rogue Warrior, One of the Worst Video Games Ever Made.

From C. Lee, and it's just another reason to turn the damn thing off: Alexa tells 10-year-old girl to touch live plug with penny. This is tremendous: Jared Diamond on the Downfall of Civilizations — and His Optimism for Ours. A terrific essay: The Wrath of the Gods: Surviving the Pandemic with Petronius, Fitzgerald, and Eliot. A fascinating read: Hiding Homosexuality on the Cover of America’s Magazines a Century Ago. This is quite odd: Vaccine trial finds a glitch with children in one age range. Bizarre: The ‘Rock Food’ Feast That Looks Good Enough to Eat. This is so, so beautifully written: A Taxi Farewell

From Wally, and if you ever wanted to see a brilliant DC3 landing, here you go: Accident: Transnorthern DC3 at Anchorage on Dec 8th 2021, engine failure and gear up landing. Here's a fascinating bit of history: Steamship Crews on the SS City of New York - 1903. These are so striking: 'The World Without Us': The abandoned sites overrun by nature

From David Gloier, and I love reading about this: An Ancient Greek Astronomical Calculation Machine Reveals New Secrets.

Happy New Year!

This is Eli 20.4s last day in Grand Rapids before he returns to Ann Arbor tomorrow (and Vancouver the day after that), so I'm going to wish everyone a very happy New Year and go dark for the rest of the day. Friday Links is ready and will post, as always. 

See you in 2022.

Fantasy Holiday Sale For Charity

Lee Gaiteri, known to DQ readers as lummoxjr, let me know that there's an online fantasy book sale benefitting charity, and his own excellent titles are included ("Below" is particularly outstanding. What a great read!).

In Lee's case, three of his books are free, and even the authors charging for their books aren't charging more than .99. 

I goofed and should have put this up earlier, so not all books are still available, but Lee's are, and if you look, you'll find some great bargains. 

Here's the link: Fantasy Megasale Benefitting Charity.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

A Memory

I think I've mentioned this before, but Eli 20.4 and I have an origin story. 

It was back in the 3.7 days, and Gloria had gone to Shreveport because her grandmother was in the hospital. We stayed in Austin because it was going to be stressful for him to be in a situation that was so emotionally difficult for everyone. 

I thought I'd written a long, warm blog post at the time describing the moment that changed my life (and, Eli said, his as well). 

So I looked for it today, and after an embarrassing amount of effort, I found this:
I knew Eli was missing his mom, so I tried to jam yesterday with plenty of activities, including a trip to a beautiful neighborhood park that is his favorite. The entire park trip consisted of him setting up his Rescue Heroes action figures (Billy Blaze and Jack Hammer, 8" high) at the bottom of a very tall slide (over ten feet). Then he would climb the stairs to the top of the slide, and on his way down, he would yell "INCOMING!" and hit one action figure with each foot. It was the Eli 3.7 community theater interpretation of a scene from the Rescue Heroes movie, and he did it about twenty times in a row. He enjoyed it so much that I laughed every time.

When we started to leave the park, I noticed that everything around us was green. It was a beautiful spring day, with just a hint of coolness in the air, and the sun was sinking near the horizon. Eli 3.7 took my hand and said "Thank you, Daddy. It's been a great day."

I think that might be the nicest thing anyone's ever said to me.

That was it, just a small part of a longer blog post. And we both remember him saying "Dad, it was a perfect day," which is clearly not what he actually said. But we both remember the moment when he took my hand, and from that point on, we were inseparable.

Still are. 

I feel lucky about that every day.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Settling A Debt

"I have a vague memory of owing you twelve million dollars," I said. 

"I remember that!" Eli 20.4 said.

"What specifically created that debt?" I asked.

 "It was the Utah-Utah St. game," he said. "Probably around 2013. You said there was no way Utah St. would beat Utah."

"I should have focused on the amount of the bet, and not my confidence in the bet. I'll start making installment payments as soon as possible. Also, I think we should rename the flea flicker."

"What do you want to call it?"

"I want to call it 'shenanigan.' So the announcers would say, 'It's third down and here's the snap. Auburn is running a shenanigan!'"

"It does sound pretty good, " he said. 

"Plus, a flea flicker is ridiculous. It already has the essence of a shenanigan. It's perfect."

Monday, December 27, 2021

Cooking School!

Eli 20.4 gave me a tremendous gift. Here's the first page:

Click on the image for a larger version, but what he did was create a little cooking course for me, because I'm absolutely inept when it comes to cooking (and many other things--list available on DVD). He described it to me and kept talking about "achievable goals," which kept me laughing. He even has his girlfriend (who is an absolutely wonderful person) scheduled for a guest lecture on Wednesday.

In spite of the circumstances, we've had a warm, happy holiday season.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Friday Links!

Best wishes for the holiday to everyone! 

From Wally, and I approve: 1 HOUR - Relaxing Dumpster Fire Ambience. What a school (and drone shot, too): World's longest drone fpv one shot. These are absolutely brilliant: Machinalia : Boris Artzybasheff’s Fantastic Visions of Living Machines. Somehow this is stupidly funny: Kommander Karl Reload Compilation 1. I mean, don't we all kind of feel this way? Bear Roughs Up Inflatable Rudolph

From David Gloier, and it's fascinating: 'Wind' from Earth's middle layer blows through a secret passage beneath Panama. I feel like this gets refuted six months from now, but it's still entertaining: The Surprising Way AC/DCs Music Is Being Used By Medical Researchers. That's a lot of shoes: A millipede with 1,300 legs has been found in Australia. It's a new record by far. 

From Meg McReynolds, and it's totally clever: You Feel The Christmas Spirit (When You’re Singing Songs by Jews). These are so spectacular: When Salvador Dalí Created Christmas Cards That Were Too Avant Garde for Hallmark (1960)

From C. Lee, and it's a gripping story: Haiti’s Leader Kept a List of Drug Traffickers. His Assassins Came for It. This could be life-saving: What to Do When Someone's Having a Heart Attack, so You're Not Carrie F---ing Bradshaw. This is thought-provoking: The internet runs on free open-source software. Who pays to fix it? The first half of this game is still one of my favorites of all-time: War Stories: How Deus Ex was almost too complex for its own good. Good grief, they make you get the damn account to start with: Could GDPR policy erase your games? It happened to an Ubisoft customer. And now I'll never consider buying a Toyota again: Toyota Now Charges a Subscription Fee to Use Remote Start Functionality.


The hot water heater in the house has a limited capacity. 

This makes shower strategy particularly important. The water can go from boiling to icy in less than a minute, and if Eli 20.4 is showering downstairs at the same time, it's brutal. I was cold for hours earlier this week after running out of hot water right at the start. 

This morning, it was 10:40 and I'd just finished writing. Eli was still asleep, so I thought I'd take my shower with no competition. 

Within two minutes, the water started to change temperature. Uh-oh. 

I finished as quickly as I could, and while I was toweling off, Eli came upstairs. 

"One of us hot-blocked the other," I said. "I don't know which one of us did it."

He burst out laughing. 

"I was asleep and I heard you getting into the shower," he said. "Since the water heater is downstairs, my shower has priority over yours. So I jumped out of bed and ran into the bathroom to get my shower in."

We were both laughing so hard at this point that he could barely even finish the story. Many insults were exchanged, with even more laughter.

"To hell with you," I said. "Happy holidays."

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Adult Supervision Was Clearly Needed

I was in charge of the tree this year. Everything about that previous sentence is wrong. 

We agreed that there wouldn't be a big tree this year. We didn't want to copy what the holidays were like with Gloria, because it didn't seem like it would be respectful. 

I saw a real but half-sized tree at the grocery store and thought it would be just right. 

It wasn't until I got it home that I realized it had a lean. A substantial lean. Enormous, really, and since the stand was already installed, I couldn't fix it. 

Then I decorated it. Poorly. Your result:


Charlie Brown would have rejected this tree.

Eli 20.4 was pleased. "That's so terrible it's almost charming," he said. "It looks like it was decorated by a child."

"It was," I said. "Sure, it's short and bent, but that tree has a high compete level."

"It's a student of the game," Eli said, laughing. "With a high motor."

Tuesday, December 21, 2021


"Dad, since I can't work out for a few days, we need to do a project." Eli 20.4 leaves no time unclaimed. 

"I'm in," I said, since this would be maybe the 500th project we've done together, and the other 499 have all been fun. 

"I have a few ideas," he said. "Number one: learn how to draw."

"Stop right there," I said. "I bought a book about how to draw a dragon when you were ten. I was going to make you a beautiful drawing of a dragon for Christmas. Before I got twenty pages into the book, you moved on from dragons."

"That's unfortunate."

"So I'm all in on learning how to draw. I want to be able to draw little cartoons and doodle."

In standard Eli process, he researched art books, found a good introductory text, and picked it up at Barnes and Noble. Plus a set of pencils. 

We sat on the couch and passed the book back and forth, making simple drawings. After doing a line drawing, he read from the book. "How do you like your own lines? If they are continuous and firm, they will be strong, definite--"

"Strong and definite. That's me."

"-- confident-looking, rhythmic--and handsome."

"Me again," I said. 

Monday, December 20, 2021

To No One's Surprise

Eli 20.4 came home at 2:30 Thursday morning. He had wisdom teeth surgery at 9:30 a.m. I felt like this timing was sub-optimal. 

It only took 30 minutes to remove four wisdom teeth, and the surgeon said he only needed to make an incision with one of them. 

I was anticipating a 3-4 day recovery period, if there were no complications. 

I'd never cared for someone after this kind of surgery before, and it was intimidating. He was coming out of anesthesia, and the gauze had to be changed in his mouth every 30-45 minutes for almost four hours before his mouth stopped bleeding. A wrap around his face was thirty minutes on and thirty minutes off for the rest of the day. Anti-inflammatories every six hours (including 3:30 a.m.). Antibiotic three times day. 

Like I said, it was intimidating. 

Plus, have you ever tried to get 3,500 calories into someone who can't eat solid food? It was the a Rube Goldberg machine of protein shakes, ice cream, mashed potatoes, and smoothies. 

Then, given who we're dealing with, it quickly became ridiculous. He woke up Friday morning. "How's your mouth feel?" I asked. 

"Fine. There's no swelling." I looked at him, and he was right. I wouldn't have known he'd had four wisdom teeth taken out 24 hours earlier. 

Saturday. No swelling. 

Sunday. No swelling. Anti-inflammatories ramped down. He did 200 push-ups, 10 at a time, because he wasn't allowed to work out and it was driving him crazy. 

Monday. No swelling. 

I often say that he doesn't surprise me anymore. I stand corrected.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Friday Links!

Leading off this week, an amazing piece of work: The hand-cranked calculator invented by a Nazi concentration camp prisoner. This is a fascinating article: Why the [expletive] can’t we travel back in time?

From Wally, and this particular grift is somehow delightful: Sri Lanka's 'handball team' vanishes. This is a stunning story: The Famed American Aviatrix Secretly on the Nazi Payroll. I linked to this years ago, but it's so damn interesting I'm going to do it again: The Cold War Bunker That Offered Subterranean Suburbia Below Las Vegas

From Eric L., and it's good people doing good work: Ozzy Man Reviews: Seal Rescues.

The C. Lee Links Package arrives. First, and I had no idea, it's How Pearl Harbor forced the world’s first around-the-world commercial flight. This is a fantastic read: How the South Cornered the Soda Market. It was good, too: People used to drink hot Dr. Pepper during the holidays. This is long and very interesting: The Art of Queer Liberation: On the Enduring Power of Manuel Puig’s “Kiss of the Spider Woman”. Welcome to 2021: Main character syndrome, explained by Carrie Bradshaw. Useful: Windows 11: Give yourself more time to roll back the upgrade. I'm watching it the first day I can stream it: Haruki Murakami and the Challenge of Adapting His Tales for Film.  


I'm doing better.

There are still days where 90% of my time is not my own (and that 90% is filled with really depressing tasks), but I'm starting to make progress. Eli 20.4 is making progress, too. 

Today, though, he was wisdom tooth surgery, and I'm going to be out of pocket essentially all day. However, the Friday Links post is already done and will post on schedule. 

Please enjoy the greatest love song ever written, at least when it's performed by Roberta Flack. I hadn't heard it in over a decade, and I was driving down a street and it came on and I got chills during the entire song. There's so much space in the way she sings it, and all that space gets filled with feelings. 
The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Activision Blizzard

It's Dick Week, apparently. 

See here: Activision exec asks employees to ‘consider the consequences’ of unionizing.

Yes, the awful consequences. Here's a classic excerpt (from Chief Administration Officer Brian Bulatao,  who I thought was a minor character in "Animal House" until today):
As you make this decision, we ask only that you take time to consider the consequence of your signature on the binding legal document presented to you by the CWA. [...] that means your ability to negotiate all your own working conditions will be turned over to the CWA.

Activision Blizzard is an eight billion dollar company. 

They're telling employees that a single person negotiating with an eight billion dollar company has more leverage and will do better than bargaining collectively. 

Really? What is wrong with our schools that people believe this shit?

It's just embarrassing. 


I have very few things in my apartment. I like it that way. 

Now I need to buy a second lamp. It's going to look like Graceland.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Mediocre Man Has Mediocre Idea

Well, sir, there's nothing on earth like a genuine, bona fide, electrified, six-car monorail.
--The Simpsons

What amazes me about Peter Molyneux isn't that he's back with some stupid ass idea, and of course it involves NFT's. 

What amazes me is that, in the end, Peter Molyneux is mediocre. He's been as mediocre for as long as anyone can remember, really. It's like trotting out the corpse of some NFL quarterback to be a backup for his ninth team: there's no question that he's the answer to.

Just look at this promotional word salad:
On Saturday in Las Vegas, Molyneux announced a partnership with cryptocurrency gaming platform Gala Games. Gala and Molyneux’s development company 22Cans will work together to launch Legacy, a management game that Molyneux first announced in 2019. As explained in a blog post, Legacy will incorporate a new digital currency called LegacyCoin (on the Ethereum blockchain) and players will join the game by buying a non-fungible token, or NFT, called “Land.” Once they join, they can form a business in the game, build a town around that business, and compete or cooperate with other players to increase their LegacyCoin funds. It’s supposed to sit in the same broad “play to earn” genre as the better-known Axie Infinity but with the kinds of moral choices and management systems for which Molyneux is known.

He's turned into that kid in high school who was so desperate to be popular that he copied every style and trend. That kid was never cool, though, and neither is Molyneux. 

Some people will make money from this, because some people always make money (including, of course, him), and then it will collapse and he'll blame timing or something else entirely out of his control. 

He's never responsible, because he's Peter Molyneux.

Monday, December 13, 2021

Let's Talk About Samuel

I promise that I'll talk about Peter Molyneux, the King of Mediocrity, tomorrow. 

Today, though, let's talk about Samuel. 

I was on a walk, because the weather is utterly ridiculous here for mid-December (it's 44 with no wind right now, which is Bermuda, essentially). I turned a corner and that's when I saw the squirrel. 

He was on one of the thin, whippy branches of a tree that was extending across the sidewalk at face level. 

I was only about four feet away, staring right at him, and in every case in recorded history, a squirrel in this situation runs away. Of course they do. 

Not this jamoke. This guy decided to hide vertically on the branch, assuming the role of "tree." 

Mind you, the branch was as thick as a pencil, and the squirrel was 10X as wide. Still, though, he convinced himself that it was working, absolutely frozen, staring at me. What was going through his mind: "I'm totally selling this."

"I can't see you, Samuel," I said, because I thought he deserved a name. And I took out my phone, because I wanted to get a picture for this post. 

Samuel, though, put two and two together. Why would you take a picture of something you can't see? That was enough for him to take off. 

Still, though, he put in a glorious performance.

Thursday, December 09, 2021

Friday Links!

Leading off this week, a fascinating and terrifying article: Revisiting the “Tsar Bomba” nuclear test.

This so funny and entirely wonderful: Kids annoys his mum with trombone sound effects. I was almost crying with laughter by the end.

From jdv, and it's about time: Saudi camel beauty pageant cracks down on cosmetic enhancements.

From Meg McReynolds, and it's hilarious: Bros., Lecce: We Eat at The Worst Michelin Starred Restaurant, Ever

From Wally, and this sounds like the imaginary holidays greeting card companies create: Pantone unveils Color of the Year for 2022. This is a niche story about writing/publishing, but it's a good read: Files found while looking for something else. A company with actual personality: A Customer Discovered Their $350 Lego Set Was Missing Pieces. The Company’s Response Was Brilliant. This is long, but clever: Animation vs. Arcade Games

From David Gloier, and this is nightmare fuel: Giant, cryptic ocean dweller filmed roaming the deep sea.

Outstanding links from C. Lee. First, and it's thoughtful, it's What’s Wrong With Shortcuts? Well: Fashion History’s Most Flustering Flex: The Codpiece. This is certainly chilling: We Should Probably Talk About L’Oréal’s Dark Past. This is terrific: Experts floored by students’ study of endangered sea snail. I've noticed this: Here's Why Movie Dialogue Has Gotten More Difficult To Understand (And Three Ways To Fix It). An interesting bit of history: Rare Prohibition ‘grape brick’ that turns into wine on show.

Omicron PSA

This is an excellent twitter thread about what we know about the Omicron variant. One note: the third text says "this weekend." It should read "This winter."
Andy Slavitt.

I went to get my haircut today, and no one was wearing a mask, except me. Michigan has been one of the worst places in the country for COVID the last six months, and it's going to get worse, because people seem to have given up. 

I'm beginning to understand the "flood the zone" strategy that assholes have used to create this situation. A very select number of sites will post a ton of articles that are outright lies, and then those articles get distributed on Facebook and Facebook amplifies them because it makes them money. Word for word, it creates a situation where there's much more misinformation available than accurate information, with predictable results. 

It's really clear at this point. Vaccines + booster provide excellent protection against anything. Masking provides additional protection (and a KN95, properly worn, provides outstanding protection). 

It's not hard to understand any of this. And it's even less difficult to do it right. Yet we have thousands of people dying every day because they refuse to, and endangering a massive number of other people as well. 

Damn it. 

Wednesday, December 08, 2021

The Time Slip

I stopped by the house yesterday to pick up mail, etc.

The walkway leading to the house was icy, and I checked and found no bags of deicing salt (or whatever it's called) in the garage. I needed to go get a bag so I could pour it on the walkway and melt the ice. 

On the way to the store, I drove past a woman who was walking her small dog. 

I got the salt and started to drive home. On my way, in the exact spot where she'd been ten minutes ago, was the same woman walking the same dog in the same direction. 

Of course, what happened was she was walking a loop and she just happened to be in the same spot again.

That's not what it feels like at the moment it happens, though. For a split-second, I had this amazing sense that time had slipped, and I'd been able to do continue doing things while she was somehow stuck.

It felt awesome, honestly--one of those moments where your brain tells you that something impossible has actually happened.

Reality returned far too soon for my taste.

Tuesday, December 07, 2021

The Hammer (your email)

Another hammer story, this one historical, from Eduardo:
Your description and definition of The Hammer reminds me of one of my favorite bits of medical history: Robert Liston, The Fastest Knife in the West! He was renowned for his speed in amputations. He could remove a leg in 2.5 minutes.

There's plenty of apparently apocryphal stuff about him, but this is the story that brings me back to him over and over:
Occasionally, Liston's speed and showmanship actually were a hindrance to his operations. Once, he took a patient's testicles off along with the leg that was being amputated. His most famous (and possibly apocryphal) mishap was the operation where he was moving so fast that he took off a surgical assistant's fingers as he cut through a leg and, while switching instruments, slashed a spectator's coat. The patient and the assistant both died from infections of their wounds, and the spectator was so scared that he'd been stabbed that he died of shock. The fiasco is said to be the only known surgery in history with a 300 percent mortality rate.

You can read more here: Time me, gentlemen: the fastest surgeon of the 19th century

Monday, December 06, 2021

Comfort Food

My comfort television show is Bob's Burgers. 

It's funny, but it's a different kind of funny than Family Guy or South Park or anything else, really, because it's not mean. It's funny without being mean, and in that way, it reminds me of Spongebob (I saw hundreds of episodes on hockey trips), which is also not mean. 

Look, I understand that mean is funny, a lot of the time. But it's also not relaxing, at least to me. And it's much harder to be funny without being mean. 

That's what Bob's Burgers does, and for me, I think it's mostly because of Gene. 

Gene is Bob's 11-year-old son, and everything he says is off the wall. It's as if they crammed Steven Wright into a child's body and just let him loose. 

Some of my favorite Gene quotes:
--Camera, take the day off. I added ten pounds to myself!
--I’m gonna take a nap under a warm tortilla and then eat my way out when I wake up.
--What kind of god would give you those legs and no rhythm?
--Would you rather have a lifetime of regret or an afternoon of mild disappointment?
--You know what's weird about the farmers market? I've never seen them sell one farmer.
--Who better to do math than a robot? They're made of math! And this, when he saved his sister Tina:

Gene, you saved us. I owe you my life."
"No thanks. I've seen it and I'm not impressed."

Lots of seasons, too. I watch one when I'm lifting weights or eating or any time I want some peace from the world. 

Thursday, December 02, 2021

Friday Links!

A real links blowout this week! 

Clearly, this dog should have been dancing to Prince: Doberman copying Michael jackson's dance moves

From Patrick R., and the debate continues: Is it the Irish goodbye, the French exit, or to leave “the English way”? Depends where you live

From C. Lee, and these are quite beautiful: Illuminated Paintings of Tokyo After Dark by Keita Morimoto. Who even knew this was a thing? Dream coat: My quest to own a custom-made version of the Harris Tweed topper from Withnail and I. This is a fantastic read: This MiG Super Fighter Terrified NATO. Then a Soviet Pilot Stole One. This sounds a bit like the banana crisis: Coffee as we know it is in danger. Can we breed a better cup? Here's a bit of forgotten history: Americans Once Celebrated Thanksgiving with Tricks, Treats, and Mayhem. This is a wonderful article: 1999: King of Dragon Pass. "Idiot Fascist" is redundant: Warhammer 40K Tells Idiot Fascists Having a God Emperor Is Bad, Actually. This is tremendous: This Woman Inspired One of the First Hit Video Games by Mapping the World’s Longest Cave

From Guy Byars, and it's the follow-up to the genius who put himself on a big sandwich board: and now, a sponshorship.

From Wally, and this looks pretty fantastic: Why a toaster from 1949 is still smarter than any sold today. There are some very clever costumes in here: Photos: The Best Halloween 2021 Costumes On The NYC Subway. This is something: MONTREAL - Giant Marionettes Parade. My brain really can't even process this: World's first living robots can now reproduce, scientists say.

From Chris Meadowcraft, and these are so witty: Japan's Mundane Halloween Costumes

From The Finder of Things, Esq. John Harwood, a fascinating bit of NASA trivia: WHERE DID THE NASA EXPRESSION STEELY-EYED MISSILE MAN COME FROM?

From Meg McReynolds, and Katie Nolan is a national treasure: Kenny Mayne and Katie Nolan take on the National Dog Show | NBC Sports. Honestly, I might pay more for the failed images: Bonus: the advent calendar images that didn't work out

From John Willcocks, and it's stunning: Scientists claim big advance in using DNA to store data

The Hair Hammer

Tim H. sent this to me a while back, but it got lost, among many other lost things. 
On my first cruise (on the Nimitz), the barber shop that was set aside for the air wing folks had two dudes who cut hair. The striking aspect of these two young men was that one was expertly coifed and the other obviously worked his mop with a stand mixer. The astounding thing to me was that a lot of the customers ("victims") went to the guy with the great hair, not understanding that the barbers cut each others' hair. You could tell who was and was not a deep thinker as you wandered the passageways and checked the dos (many of which were don'ts). Fortunately, being at sea for months covered many hair sins.

That's Tim, min-maxing life.


This has obviously been a really, really difficult time, but someone you're all virtually close to called me with his grades for the first term. 

A. A+. 

At the greatest university in the world, in the middle of a terrible tragedy. I choke up just typing this. I'm incredibly lucky to even know this kid, let alone be his dad.

Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Could Be

The neighbors across the way on my floor have a small child, an adorable little girl. I saw this outside their door this morning.

What I fervently hope for is that all of this is part of a single device. 

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