Wednesday, November 30, 2022

More Dwarf Fortress (Tarn AMA)

Tarn also did an AMA on Reddit yesterday, and it's here: Tarn Reddit AMA

Every interview Tarn gives is a deep dive (which is why they're always so interesting), and the AMA is no exception.

Dwarf Fortress and Interview with Tarn

The Steam version of Dwarf Fortress is releasing on December 6 (with graphics, a revised interface, and tutorials), so it seems like the right time to post a short Q &A I had with Tarn a few months back. 

For my money, Dwarf Fortress is the greatest sim and story generator ever created, so a new release making it more accessible to new players is a big moment.

Q: I've never heard anyone ask you about the process you use when adding things to the world. for instance, creatures. When you decide to add a creature, I assume the process is something like this:
--create creature (it must exist)
--add detection of its existence (the world and other characters must be aware)
--add behavior to the creature (it must have agency)
--its behavior must be observed
--its behavior must drive the reaction/behavior of other characters when appropriate.

Is that close to how you do it? I'm really curious about the process.

A: I'd say that for creatures, once the basic definition is up, the creature's central behavior comes first - it's a narrow line between reacting to a creature and reacting to its behavior, so you'd get the isolated bits out of the way first (the creature wanders around, nibbles grass, makes a burrow somewhere), then having that completed, you can handle everything else around it.  This lets you also sit a minimum number of times inside each frame of reference, so you have to keep less in your head at once and refamiliarize yourself with less code.  That's the ideal world though.  If the creature is antagonistic, you might have to do the behavior and reaction all at once, since it sort of amounts to the same thing anyway.  Even then, I'd try to handle the creature in isolation first.

There's also an added layer where you relate the object being added to the player - how do they observe it?  What can they do?

Take DF gremlins for example - they sneak into fortresses and pull levers, jump on pressure plates, and release monsters from cages.  When we added gremlins, we did all of that first.  Just make sure the basic behavior is working.  Then we worried about the dwarves' detection and response.

After that, we worried about the player - how frequently should gremlins come?  How do we get the mischief and the dwarves' reaction across to the player?  What meta-game might the player use to circumvent gremlins, and how can we dodge the first few layers of that without going overboard and making them too hard (assuming we can accomplish that)?  Players can place false levers for instance, closer to the caves, for gremlins to pull to give themselves away.  Now, if we made the gremlins only pull levers that had been pulled by the player to some effect and haven't been subsequently altered, this would make gremlins nastier without being too unfair.  Ultimately, we didn't do even that.  But when we add saboteurs with the villain stuff, that's a lot more fair since the saboteur should know the workings of the fortress.  An enterprising player could still make an intricate false lever that acts as a distraction, but it's more hassle and less of a sure thing, and they'd have to maintain the ruse by pulling it every so often, in which case maybe the saboteur has already won ha ha.

Q: Second example: a larger scaffolding, like a justice system. What steps do you use for something like that? Have you done major additions like this to the world so many times that it's a standard routine, or is there quite a bit of variance?

A: I have some standard practices for new additions I've done enough times, but they don't help with entire systems, except to build up individual moving parts.  You still have to think the whole system through and the implications are likely new.  Even then the basic shape of the process isn't too different from the gremlin example.  How does it work?  Can I implement that in isolation responsibly (speed/memory/etc.)?  What existing systems interact with it?  Which of those interactions are player-facing, especially in a way that generates story moments?  Can I amplify the story-generating elements of the system safely?  And, like, is it at all enjoyable?  Are there specific roadblocks there that I can remove or sidestep?

It's crucial as a designer to stay grounded in the user experience, and as a developer to keep things practical.  When I'm planning something, I find myself with a constant game instance in my head, adapting to possible changes from the player's perspective and from the simulation perspective, mechanically, as if I'm both playing it and running it.  This doesn't mean I do it accurately enough to catch all of the surprises, but like almost anything, you can get better and better at this.  If I'm talking to somebody else to help them out, or starting something new, I try to ask enough questions to get that engine running, or I'm just not going to be very useful.

Q. I remember reading several times that Zach does a large amount of historical research. As the world's own history has grown, has it become less important to research actual history, or is it still an important component? I was thinking that as the world became more complex, it's reliance on actual history would lessen.

If you are still doing quite a bit of historical research, has the focus shifted from individual elements (justice, for example) to a broader look at the rise and fall of civilizations?

A: It's true now that not just historical research but research and invention of all kinds have become sort of less urgent.  There's such a huge, huge backlog, so much stuff that we'd like to do that it's now impossible.  Still, when we begin a new phase, the specifics all become important again, and we'll find ourselves reading, or reading suggestions from people that have already compiled information or know more about a topic than we do.  I think the general vibe has been baked in for a while, and a good chunk of that came from Zach's history.  When we get to the myth generator, the vibe is going to take a turn, and there'll also be a lot of research underlying that, but in a different direction.  Then we'll be back to history, ha ha, since we're doing the civilization rewrite/expansion after that, and our ancient law books will finally have their day.

And yeah, before the civ rewrite even, a main theme for the myth/magic stuff is change.  Everything is so static now.  You really don't get a feeling of migration, or revolution, after the initial expansion.  I think there'll be some tension there to get some of that in earlier, but certainly during the civ rewrite we're going to have to think about larger forces and then try to avoid adding them directly.  It's always better when the many little bits do their part, ha ha.  I have no idea if we'll be able to pull it off though.  And one of the most important parts, the overall world economy, is still mostly missing.

Q: How do you handle days off? How often? I find that if I take a day off (or, god forbid, two), it takes me several days to feel totally comfortable writing again. I just don't feel sharp if I don't work every day. You've been doing this for so long and I'd be really interested in how easy it is to stop and start after time off.

A: Covid and the Steam work coming together has made this difficult to answer, since there hasn't been much time away.  I've taken a day off to play a game, say, or to do this or that, but I haven't taken a vacation or regular weekends in years.  Every time I try to do something like instituting weekends, I just get sucked back in.  It's mostly been this way my whole life I think, it just feels particularly acute now and I don't have any counterbalances.  But I don't feel much worse for wear, since I'm used to it.  Taking two days away from the game or things surrounding the game would feel like trying to plug up a dam right now.  I don't think it would be hard to get back into it (I don't know?) but it would be really uncomfortable.  There are things to do.

After the release, some time after the bugs have cooled perhaps, I feel like there may be an actual break.  Maybe because it feels like a thing to do, more or less, and all the people I work with will want to, and should, take the holidays.  Then I'll know what it's like I suppose.  In the past, when things like this happened, I just did a side project.  That feels weird now too though.  I haven't done actual code on a side project for some time, since the present release has felt urgent enough.

Many thanks to Tarn for taking the time to answer these questions. Here's the Steam page for the game (releasing next Tuesday): Dwarf Fortress.

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

A Lightness in Your Step

I noticed something when I took the cinnamon rolls out of the oven on Thursday. 

They felt lighter. 

"These cinnamon rolls lost weight," I said to Eli 21.3. 

"Does that happen?" he asked. "I don't think it does."

I Googled. "Bread loses 10-20% of its pre-baking weight through loss of moisture. You know what this means, don't you?"

"I do not," he said. 

"It means you could have perfectly baked cinnamon rolls or bread every time if you weighed it before it went in the oven. No more visual checks. You have a scale under the pan in the oven, and when it's lost the pre-determined percentage of weight, it's done."

"That is absolutely the most unnecessary thing to do ever," he said.

"I agree," I said. "But it doesn't mean I don't want to do it."

Monday, November 28, 2022


We had an ironic Thanksgiving. 

Most likely, it would have been the last Thanksgiving together for Eli 21.3, Gloria, and me. She was going to sell the house after Eli graduated and probably move back near Austin. I would have moved somewhere warmer, but not Texas. 

Instead, it was our first Thanksgiving together without her. 

I still wanted the traditional cinnamon roll turkeys for breakfast, and told him I would handle it. "It's perfect," I said. "Even if I totally screw these up, we'll still have cinnamon rolls."

"Low stakes," he said, laughing. 

So Thursday morning, I got up and made these:

Not nearly as good-looking as when Gloria made them, but with considerably more bacon. 

It was warm enough for traditional Thanksgiving Day tennis (which we've been doing for over a decade now):

I've never played with that much snow around the courts, and it was only 40F, but we've played in worse. Much worse. 

After we came back, Eli handled lunch. Turkey avocado BLTs with pancetta. 

It was one of the best sandwiches I've ever had. Genuinely spectacular.

We watched the World Cup, and the NFL, and college football that night, and we laughed and told stories all day long. 

Truly, it was one of my favorite Thanksgivings ever. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Friday Links!

Links are going up early in case you find yourself bored on Thanksgiving. And I'm taking Friday off so Eli 21. 3 can play tennis in 40F weather and other questionable things. 

From David Gloier, and this is a terrific read. You’ve Almost Certainly Been Duped by a Bird. And here's a video I saw this week as a follow-up: European Starlings are so good at mimicry, they can even do human speech

From Wally, and this is adorable: An adorable reaction to seeing well for first time. This is substantial: Close to Mojave, the largest aircraft in the world was spotted with operational engines and a brand-new test cargo

From Cyriel, and it's a fantastic read: The Demon River

From Meg McReynolds, and every corgi is a good corgi: Corgi Chaos: A Race for Glory at the Steeplechase of Charleston.

From C. Lee, and what a huge surprise: Fossil Fuel Interests Paid for Pro-Hydrogen Study, Boston Globe Reports. Yikes: Company fined after worker dies from fall into pot of molten iron twice as hot as lava. Digital advertising in sports is a plague: The NBA Just Banned Off-White Uniforms for the Most Annoying Reason. It's a brutal problem: California tries to harness megastorm floods to ease crippling droughts. This is a disgrace: They rallied in D.C. on Jan. 6. Now they’ll join Congress. This is a fascinating technical problem: Stealth Planes Still Have One Very Visible Problem: Contrails. This is a terrific and thoughtful read: Everyone is Beautiful and No One is Horny: modern action and superhero films fetishize the body even as they desexualize it. This is a shame: Feds force New Jersey to yank tongue-in-cheek highway safety messages

The Grey Cup vs. the NFL

I watched the Grey Cup on Sunday (which I've done for about the last decade). It reminded me of how much fun the rules of Canadian football are compared to the American version. 

The NFL has legislated and commercialized itself into the form of a battleship. It's frequently ponderous to watch. Sometimes, it aspires to be ponderous. 

It's hard for me to accept, having watched since I was five. The number of interruptions, though, has gone past annoying into staggering. 

The CFL, by contrast, has shorter commercial breaks and far fewer interruptions. The field is wider and longer, which gives players more room to operate (yes, 12 players instead of 11, but the size of the field more than compensates). Three downs instead of four, which encourages aggression on offense. It has a liveliness that almost every team but the Chiefs lack. 

Plus, it's wacky in the very best way. 

The CFL just has a vitality that the NFL lacks. It's more fun. In the NFL, it seems like every time something exciting is about to happen, a coach calls a timeout, or a play is stopped for review. There's just no momentum anymore. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

The Consensus is Rabbit

The overwhelming favorite for the mystery creature leaving tracks in the snow is rabbit.

A Surprising Explanation

When I was in fourth grade, out of nowhere, the P.E. coach told us we'd be doing a six-week module on square dancing. 

I had an immediate wtf moment. So did everyone else. 

It made no sense, but I had a huge crush on Jacqueline Baron, and through some unlikely magic, she was assigned to be my dance partner. I was in! 

I was not in. 

Regardless, I never forgot that strange six weeks, and always wondered why it happened. 

Today, I saw a story that made me realize square dancing was taught all over the country. The mystery deepened. 

Thanks to Google, I now know what happened. And it's way, way stranger than you'd ever imagine. Brace yourself.

Henry Ford (well-known racist and anti-Semite in his spare time) believed that jazz music was undermining the American family and would ruin "white people." He also believed that "the Jews" were manipulating black people into playing jazz with the secret goal of destroying the country. 

Um, okay. 

To counteract this, Henry Ford promoted square dancing as a "wholesome" alternative that would save our country's morals. He formed committees and foundations and gave tons of money to legislators to convince them to add square dancing as mandatory in the P.E. curriculum. 

This all happened in the 1920s. 

Over forty years later, my ass got taught square dancing for six weeks because square dancing was never removed from the curriculum. Bizarre.

This is a good and funny video: The Surprisingly Racist Origins Of Square Dancing In Gym Class.

Monday, November 21, 2022

I'd Like To Speak To The Manager

We had some unwanted precipitation last week. 

I returned from Austin on Monday afternoon, and by Tuesday, it was snowing. And snowing. And snowing. 

It kept snowing until late Saturday night. 

Grand Rapids normally gets seventy-seven inches of snow a year, and 90% of it comes after November. This year? Thirty inches in five days.

Thirty inches in five days is, by far, the most snow I've ever seen here. It was a bit overwhelming. 

Have some images from the Snowpocalypse:

The last picture is a tidy little mystery. What little animal came up to the door and then went away? It wasn't big, by its prints, and it probably wasn't a dog, because the dog would be with its owner. 

The good news is it's going to be in the 40s for the next week, and everything on the sidewalks and roads will melt. Then it becomes totally manageable again. 

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Friday Links!

Leading off this week, and it's amazing: Turtles Have Been Vocalizing All This Time. Why Did We Not Listen?

From Ken Piper, and this is brilliant: Researchers used a decommissioned satellite to broadcast hacker TV. This is an incredible discovery, if confirmed: Tunnel discovered beneath Egyptian temple may lead to Cleopatra's tomb, archaeologist says. What a story: Texas couple gets engaged after finding missing ring during tornado cleanup. To no one's surprise (isn't Elon Musk the stupidest genius ever?): Here’s how a Twitter engineer says it will break in the coming weeks

From Terry W., and this is incredible: Paralyzed Patients Walk Again After Life-Changing Nerve Stimulation Treatment. A technological achievement: US Regulators to Certify First Small Modular Nuclear Reactor Design.

From C. Lee, and I never expected it to happen (although I understand why): Gen Z Never Learned to Read Cursive. This is so incredibly inept: KFC Mistakenly Encouraged Its German Customers to Celebrate Kristallnacht With Crispy Chicken. This is fascinating: The Man Who Quietly Built a Massive Archive of Artists’ Deaths. This is a lovely story: At 80 years old, ‘last flower woman in Ginza’ still going strong. This is a terrific read: The Hilarious History of 'OK'. What a great idea: France Requiring Solar Panels to Cover Parking Lots by 2028. This is an even better idea: This Community Candy Shop Serving Impoverished Kids Just Won Japan’s Most-Prestigious Design Award. I'm not even sure I'm surprised: A deputy mistook a blind man’s cane for a gun. He ended up in jail anyway.

From Wally, and I saw all these on my visit in April: It's the World Cup of crisps! I totally approve of this PR stunt: Volkswagen built a Star Trek captain’s chair that goes 12mph. The annual list: The Game Awards 2022 Finalists. I'd never even heard of this before: Inspirational passion or paid-for promotion: can BookTok be taken on face value? That's a lot of moons: All MOONS of URANUS and NEPTUNE ► 3D Size Comparison ◄

So Here's Something


Paperback proof. I'm going through it now. 


I don't watch much Netflix compared to other streaming services, because I feel like much of their content (especially American content) has become incredibly formulaic. 

Mo, though, is fantastic. 

Mo is a Palestinian immigrant living in Houston, and the series follows his life and family. It's incredibly witty and very heartfelt, and there are gut punches at times. It's also not patronizing in any way, at least that I could detect. 

It's one of the best shows I've watched in years, and you can see more here: Mo.

I'd Like To Speak To The Manager

Sure, we're getting 1-2 feet by Sunday, but it could be worse. Buffalo is getting 6-9 feet. I don't have space in my brain to understand that. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

It's Gotten Beyond Me

Eli 21.3, in an attempt to update my "date wardrobe," signed me up for a service that sends me clothes every three months. I keep what I want and send back the rest. 

I received a shipment yesterday, and there was a coat I almost wanted, but not quite. Eli has the perfect coat, actually. It's a "traveler's" woolen coat that is 3/4 length, roughly. 

"Your coat is perfect," I said. "What's the color?"

"I think the cut is right for you," he said. "The color is 'oatmeal,' but I think that's a little young for your vibe."

"When a color named after a food also has an age, I no longer understand fashion," I said. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

It's Actually This Simple

This is a simple and very clear explanation of the insanity of Sam Bankman-Friedman (founder of FTX). I may have spelled his name wrong. I don't care. He's not worth spelling his name right. Here's the video:
Crypto CEO Accidentally Describes Ponzi Scheme.

There's a usage cage for crypto that isn't a scam, but if you can't separate what's a scam from what's not a scam, then it's a scam. 

I Guess It's Surprisingly Racy Tuesday

Well: Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games mascots likened to ‘clitoris in trainers’.

Kudos to the headline writer. It's quite a mouthful.

There's so much win in this story, it's hard to know where to start. Let's try here:
But the little red figures have swiftly been likened to clitorises with smiley faces. They bear a notable resemblance to the giant inflatable, red clitoris put up opposite the Eiffel Tower on last year’s International Women’s Day by a feminist group campaigning for more education and scientific research on the organ whose sole function is the female orgasm.

The last paragraph drops hints, but lacks directness:
Julia Pietri, a feminist writer and publisher who led a street-art campaign for more eduction on the clitoris, said of the Paris mascot comparisons: “I find it amusing because I campaigned for a long time to raise awareness of the anatomy of the clitoris, and four years ago when we launched, few people could recognise a clitoris. So today I’m happy and rejoicing that, thanks to all that’s happened in feminism, people can at least recognise the clitoris. It shows it’s now in popular culture and that’s a win.”

What she should have said was "At least men will be able to find it now."

Monday, November 14, 2022


I went to Austin to see my mom this weekend. 

It was only a Friday-Monday trip (I'm in the airport now, waiting for my flight back), and I was with my mom most of the time. Which was great, because I hadn't seen her in-person since last June (because of the accident, I missed a winter trip).

I enjoyed Austin more this time because I stopped thinking of it as Austin. It has the name, but when I moved here in the 1980s, it was a dive. That's what made it great, too. There was literally one restaurant in town where you could get an expensive meal. Now there are a hundred, at least. 

When I look at Austin as a new city, though, I'm able to appreciate it more. For a huge city, it's generally much less annoying that its peers, and it's still fun. So maybe I found my peace with it this time. 

The paperback proof of The Man You Trust is coming today. I wouldn't be at this point if lummoxjr (also known as Lee Gaiteri, who is a phenomenal writer and has an Amazon page here) hadn't volunteered to take over the formatting process. I thought it was simple, but it was much, much more complicated than I expected. 

What does that mean for publication? If the proof doesn't have errors, I think it will go live between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Which seems like a holiday miracle in its own right. 

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Friday Links!

Have a great weekend, everyone.

This is terrific and I always wanted to see a reverse version of "My Fair Lady," personally: ‘It was exciting to create these beastly, huge, grotesque women’: the authors gender-swapping the Greek myths.

Following up from yesterday (from Defector, which is fantastic): Crypto Is Running Out Of Dominoes.

From Wally, and it's so strange: 10 Of The Most Unintentionally Creepy Old TV Adverts of all time.

From C. Lee, and this is downright alarming: Pure Incompetence: $5,000 Pre-Built Gaming PC Filled with Mistakes (Skytech Mark 9). I feel like there's an obvious answer to this question: The Rise of Power: Are CPUs and GPUs Becoming Too Energy Hungry? I feel like this will be widespread soon: AI helping Japan convenience stores profit from reduced waste. Someone should have realized this sooner (a lot sooner): There's a Big Problem With Countries' Plans to Plant More Trees. This could be huge: Why Pfizer’s RSV vaccine success is a big deal, decades in the making. This is a fascinating read; The Remains of Maryland-In-Africa. The photographs in this story are amazing: The Snow Cruiser-Antarctica’s Abandoned Behemoth. This is a terrific read: A Spirit of Trust: Prisoners Make a Miracle Return.

One More Thing About Crypto

One thing I forgot to mention: all these crypto exchanges seem to be so heavily dependent on one guy. There never seems to be an active, functioning board of governance or a dedicated risk hedging department or anything. Every asset is 100% in the hands of some dude in sandals and a Ferrari who's worth eight billion dollars until he's worth eight dollars. 


This is not something I would normally write about, but I noticed two interesting things lately. 

One, with the apparent collapse of FTX (which had 32B in "assets" in January), the crypto industry continues its consolidation. If you want to read about what happened to FTX, try here: EXCLUSIVE Behind FTX's fall, battling billionaires and a failed bid to save crypto,

The short version: everyone in crypto seems to have no idea of basic financial principles and becomes over-leveraged in quite embarrassing and incredibly risky ways, leading to collapse as soon as there's a market reversal. It's not quite that simple, but it's close.

A normal consolidation consists of a company buying other companies in their sector. This consolidation seems to consist of firm after firm going bankrupt, leaving fewer players. 

Now, an enormous amount of leverage is in the hands of Binance. Centralization, though, means that if (when) Binance collapses, the floodgates will open. 

I think there's a narrow use case for crypto in companies that have insecure banking systems. The problem is that it's not really being used for that right now. Honestly, I can't even tell you what it's being used for right now, because there's so much grift and con involved that's hard to separate out of the mix. 

The second interesting thing: remember when El Salvador's president, Nayib Bukele, made a grand proclamation that the country was going to buy Bitcoin? Since September of last year, they've bought 107M in Bitcoin. 

As of today, it's worth 42M. Oops, sorry. 41M now. You can actually follow it here: NAYIB BUKELE PORTFOLIO TRACKER $

Wednesday, November 09, 2022

A Story

Eli 21.3 has been teaching a class this fall. 

It's unusual, but not unprecedented. Each year, a few seniors are selected to design a curriculum and submit it for consideration. 

Eli's class is on peacebuilding, of course, and he spent a huge amount of time designing material he thought would be engaging. 

The classes taught by seniors don't last as long (eight weeks instead of twelve, I think, though I'm not  totally sure), so his last class was taught this week. 

One of his students emailed him and asked if they could keep going. 

He took a survey and over 90% of the class wants to continue to meet each week until the end of fall term in December. 

Feeling like you're providing something of value to people on a subject you care deeply about is a way to be happy in life. 

Tuesday, November 08, 2022

Election Day (Oops)

I didn't expect to see Eli 21.3 on Election Day. 

About 5 p.m., the phone rings. "Hi, buddy," I answered cheerfully.

"Dad, I'm going to need a best parent moment here," he said. 


"I forgot to fill out my absentee ballot, so I need you to meet me in Lansing so you can take it back to the drop box by 8 p.m. tonight," he said. 

I started laughing. "Wait, you're telling me a political science major forgot to complete his absentee ballot? You're going to take some abuse over this for a while."

He laughed. "I'd expect nothing less."

We met at magic exit 101--exactly an hour for both of us--and I got to see his happy, smiling face and talk for a few minutes. 

Even without the ballot, it was worth the drive. 

He texted me later: 
Saving our democracy one 
trip to Lansing at a time.

Monday, November 07, 2022

U.S. Election, November 8

Another election day tomorrow. 

I've said this before, and I'll keep saying it: please don't vote for a party that is actively trying to reduce--in a democracy--the ability of people to vote.

There is no clearer statement of how they see democracy, and they are wrong. 

Highly Unlikely, Yet True

Has anyone else noticed that Daft Punk sounds like KC and the Sunshine Band?

To clarify:
1. I'm not drunk.
2. I'm also not on drugs.
3. Yes, I've heard both bands. 

Go listen to "Get Lucky." That is 100% a KC and the Sunshine Band tribute song. 

Thursday, November 03, 2022

Friday Links!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

From Kevin W., and this is terrific (the background music is genius): God of War Ragnarök TV spot shows how all parents can relate.

From Wally, and I always wanted this explained: The Fascinating History of the Chef’s Uniform. I knew none of this: Why Steaks Always Taste Better At A Restaurant. This is incredibly clever (and Halloween is getting more and more elaborate): Dad builds scary front door to save candy from trick-or-treaters. This is wildly silly: NVIDIA: Adam & Jamie draw a MONA LISA in 80 milliseconds! 

From C. Lee, and it's both odd and interesting: Shadow puppet enthusiasts hope robotics can save ancient art. From the leopards ate my face department: A Godfather of Chinese Nationalism Has Second Thoughts The lettuce outlasted all of them: 12 World Leaders With Even Shorter Reigns Than Liz Truss. Good grief: Amazon's Response to Mauled Driver? A Paw Print Emoji. This is fascinating: Harvard Scientists Invent Gripping Robot With Soft, Inflatable Tentacles. This is quite wonderful: Designer’s transforming frilled lizard pencil sharpener is just too genius. I feel like this is accurate: Most fashion shows these days.

The Graveyard (part two)

I was thinking about my visit to the graveyard (more properly, it's a "cemetery," actually). 

Our relationship with death has changed over time, and certainly since the last century. Back in the day, death was much closer to us on a daily basis. People died younger. Medicine was far less advanced. Infant mortality was higher. The notion now that someone would have seven children and more than half wouldn't make it past the first few years is inconceivable now, but even in the early part of the twentieth century, it wasn't uncommon. 

Maybe life seemed less permanent then, and I wonder if it made people more reckless, so they could experience as much as they could while they had the chance. Live for the day and all that. 

COVID, though, made everything feel much more fragile again. We think of the 1918 Flu Pandemic as being overwhelming, but 675,00 people in the United States people died from the flu. Far more people (in the U.S., at least) have died from COVID. 

Suddenly, death is more personal again. We're vulnerable in a way we didn't think was possible five years ago. Seeing so many headstones with dates in the last three years really brought this home for me. Life seems so solid, but the ice underneath us can suddenly be very, very thin.

Wednesday, November 02, 2022

The Graveyard

I realized when I drove into the parking lot of my therapist's office that I'd gotten there an hour early. 

I do that. 

I decided to walk, so I just took off at an angle and ran straight into a graveyard. A large one. 

Having never spent any time in graveyards, it was an interesting experience. For one, the class divisions are very, very plain, even in death. Graves with lots of space around them. Graves jammed together like an overcrowded bus. Even a mausoleum, if your family has enough cash and wants to pay. 

Also, nothing in a cemetery moves, and I mean on the surface, not below. Everything is incredibly still. I supposed it makes sense, in a way, but it was odd compared to the rest of the world. 

I took a few pictures. 

This was the only vase (that usually holds plastic flowers, based on what I saw) knocked over in the entire cemetery. It felt like a story.

This was a lovely, impassioned message, its slight clumsiness making it all the more poignant:

Cemeteries have a lot of damn rules:

This pinwheel (which was spinning quite rapidly) was the only thing moving in the entire place, and it stood out:

I think I understand now why some people can spend endless amounts of time walking through cemeteries. There are so many stories only partially told.

Tuesday, November 01, 2022

Dwarf Fortress Steam Release

Okay, one more thing. 

The graphic overhaul of Dwarf Fortress has a release date: December 6. 

For my money, DF is the greatest story generator in gaming history, as well as the deepest simulation. It's a good way to spend several hundred (or thousand) hours of your life: Dwarf Fortress’ big makeover will be out on Steam in December.


I unfortunately have a to-do list that spiraled rapidly out of control, so I'm not posting much today, except this, which is a joyous and wonderful video (thanks, C. Lee): Best of Favorite Dance Moves.

I've always wished I could dance. My insides do, but my outsides don't. 

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