Thursday, May 30, 2024

Friday Links!

Leading off this week, a wonderful ride: Small, cheap, and weird: A history of the microcar.

A fantastic read: ‘I was told I was stupid’: Peep Show’s Paterson Joseph on his debut novel – and writing three operas.

From C. Lee, and it's wrenching: ‘My heart still hurts’: The personal sacrifice of revealing a K-pop scandal. Of course it is: A program meant to help developing nations fight climate change is funneling billions of dollars back to rich countries. That charge isn't vague or anything: Zhang Zhan, imprisoned for ‘provoking trouble’ while reporting on COVID in China, is released. This is despicable: Zombie 2nd mortgages are coming to life, threatening thousands of Americans' homes. This is honestly incredible, as a company sinks to a new low: American Airlines blames girl, 9, for not noticing she was being recorded by flight attendant in bathroom. Unreal: New research shows gas stove emissions contribute to 19,000 deaths annually. India, in decline: “Everyone is absolutely terrified”: Inside a US ally’s secret war on its American critics. Remarkable detective work: How scientists traced a mysterious covid case back to six toilets. Indeed it was: Pluralistic: Red Lobster was killed by private equity, not Endless Shrimp. This is fascinating: How Does the Lost World of Vienna Still Shape Our Lives? Exclusively for nerds (including me): We Made the Perfect CPU Cooler | Intel vs. AMD Curvature & Coldplate Engineering.

From Wally (Wally, my replies are bouncing to you, but thanks), and this is unfortunately accurate (and funny): What Facebook Is Like Now. Ugh: It's not your imagination. CAPTCHA tests are getting harder. This is quite the rabbit hole: movie prop auction. The CIA link is particularly good: Excellent info on infodumping well. Nostalgic images: 70s Sci-fi Art. A legitimate question: Why Do Dwarves Sound Scottish and Elves Sound Like Royalty? Yes, marketing crap as a luxury item: Is This the End of Instagram Cookware?

Random Notes and Gaming News Question

It's been a long and difficult week, but it's almost over.

A driveway dumpster gets delivered on Monday. That will help me dispose of everything I can't sell or donate. I still have until June 15, so I'm not out of time, though most days it feels like it.

I'm going to wake up on June 16 and do less. It will feel good.

I'm still grinding away on This Doesn't Feel Like The Future, even though it's been tough for the last four days or so. I'm struggling to edit one of the new chapters, but I keep showing up every morning, hoping to wear it down eventually.

Since IGN bought RPS and Eurogamer, where do we go for gaming news now? IGN owns almost everything now, and they're crap. I guess I'm going back to Blue's news, which is messy but comprehensive. They've also been around forever, which I admire, for obvious reasons.

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

A Memory

When I was at the pet hospital yesterday, there was a moment when I leaned forward and dropped my head, then put my forearms on my thighs.

I'm probably not describing that well, but hopefully you can picture it.

It was an emotional situation already, but as soon as I was in that position, it intensified exponentially. I was utterly overwhelmed with grief. It was dark.

I didn't understand what happened until I realized that was the same position I sat in many times in Gloria's room at the hospital: head bowed, looking at the ground, with my forearms resting on my thighs. I don't ever remember sitting quite like that before Gloria's accident. I hadn't been in that position since then until yesterday.

You can have all the therapy you want, but your body remembers.

Tuesday, May 28, 2024


Beloved neighborhood ambassador Henry the cat passed away today at age twenty.

He had almost been run over by cars hundreds of times, and this morning, it finally happened. Someone in the neighborhood backed up when he was hidden behind their car, and since he was stone deaf, he didn't hear the car start. 

I was at the cat hospital with Henry's owners/parents this morning, and being there hit raw places that I'm still trying to process. I won't be writing anything else today.

Monday, May 27, 2024

Muscle Memory

My body has memory of things it's done thousands of times. Keys go in the kitchen hutch. So do earbuds. The bedroom lamp gets turned on every night around the same time. I spread collections of stuff on the dining room table for review.

The kitchen hutch is gone. The sofa is gone. The bed, nightstands, and lamps are gone. The dining table is gone. My hands keep trying to do things in places that don't exist anymore.

This is not a bad thing. I'm happy to be closer to leaving the house. My body is just behind.

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Friday Links!

I know I've linked to a story about this before, but it still fascinates me: Before alarm clocks, you could hire a knocker-upper to wake you in the morning.

From Wally, and it blows my mind: Japan blocks iconic Mount Fuji view to stop bad behaviour by tourists. This is a great read but not well-sourced: Attrition: Where Have All the Soldiers Gone in Russia. Intriguing: I Went to the Robo Restaurant: The future of fast food is, like its present, very salty. Get writing, old man: “It came as great satisfaction to me”: George R.R. Martin Was Over the Moon With How House of the Dragon Redeemed 1 of the Most Egregious Game of Thrones Mistakes. So, so strange: Before Harry Potter’s Sorting Hat, There Was the ‘Medieval Space Bonnet’: Legends swirl around the University of Edinburgh’s mysterious graduation bonnet.

From C. Lee, and it's incredible: Raw-milk fans plan to drink up as experts warn of high levels of H5N1 virus. Oh, my: Google Accidentally Deleted $125 Billion Pension Fund's Account. This might be the dumbest thing I've ever seen, North Carolina, and I've seen more than a few: It could soon be illegal to publicly wear a mask for health reasons in NC. I don't mind them, actually, but if you do, read on: Bye Bye, AI: How to turn off Google's annoying AI overviews and just get search results. Sure: Edible Gel Promises Hangover-Free Mornings. An excellent read: The History of Handheld Gaming PCs. Also excellent: How The Ancient Greeks Waged War On The High Seas. Phenomenal, and this has always fascinated me: What You Need to Know About China’s Terra-Cotta Warriors and the First Qin Emperor. This is a terrific concept: Microsoft's Proteus is a snap-together Xbox controller for accessibility. The picture of the room looks like an upscale hockey hotel: Never thought of it like that: Versailles, a Giant Nightmarish Hotel

One Sentence Run-On Stories (#2)

I think it would be fun to live in a small house with nothing of value inside except a heavy safe in a high property crime neighborhood and when crooks broke in they would find the safe and take it away and spend weeks trying to unlock it and when they finally got in it would be empty and they'd think maybe this crime thing isn't working out and they would go to community college.

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

The Undeniable Hazards of Spaghetti

I made spaghetti.

It seems like a simple act, but it's far from simple. It's a labyrinthian nightmare. 

Allow me to explain.

Phase one: cooking. The meat (buffalo) needs a skillet. The kitchen window must be opened in case the skillet smokes so the smoke detector won't go off. The meat, after cooking, needs a strainer. The spaghetti needs a big pot. The the meat, after draining, needs a container. The sauce needs a pot, although you might be able to use the spaghetti pot after straining the pasta, which needs a much larger strainer than the meat. Oh, and you need to go to the grocery store and buy a second jar of spaghetti sauce, because the first jar had enough saturated fat to take down a rhino.  You need a large spoon for stirring the sauce. You need a special spoon with a slot and a claw to take out the pasta. You need a bowl to eat the pasta. You need an eating spoon. You close the kitchen window.

You eat.

After eating, the kitchen looks like the apocalypse. It needs cleaning. This takes a considerable length of time, as long as it took for cooking. Your work/eat ratio is roughly 6:1 at this point.

The next day, you have four more days of spaghetti in the refrigerator. You decide to get a sandwich instead because you're very busy.

The next day, you have spaghetti for lunch and realize you don't even like spaghetti anymore. What were you thinking, cooking this spaghetti? You decide to dispose of the remaining three days of spaghetti, even though you know this is not the right thing to do.

The heart wants what it wants.

You pour the spaghetti into the sink and start feeding it into the garbage disposal. About halfway through, the garbage disposal goes whoosh and sucks in all the rest of the spaghetti at once. A second later, as you keep running water for the disposal, that water starts rising in the sink.

The spaghetti has clogged the disposal. 

You try Drano. It does not work, and now your house smells like the strongest chlorine bleach you've ever smelled. Before giving up entirely, you try to plunge the sink, and when the plunger establishes suction, Drano water splashes up and his your stomach and arms. You keep plunging and absolutely nothing happens, except you now need a shower.

You call the garbage disposal fixer service and schedule an appointment for the next day. In the meantime, the house smells of Drano and the watery sink stares at you like a giant, taunting eye. You decide to try plunging again, which doesn't work, but then you realize you've only plunged one of two sinks and you decide to try the other one. You plunge until your arms ache and then turn on the disposal and a sizable clump of spaghetti bits flies out of the sink you just plunged. You dispose of the spaghetti and keep plunging, and after 1,000 repetitions of this cycle, the sink suddenly clears. You cancel the appointment and take a shower.

This is why you should never make spaghetti.

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Standing Room Only

I was in line at the drugstore when I heard the cashier talking to a customer.

She asked him why he was carrying an instrument. I was a bit disconnected, as I was reading a book on my phone, so I didn't look up. He said he had a gig, and the way he said "gig" gave it a substantial amount of gravitas, like he was in Led Zeppelin and they were about to play an outdoor concert in front of 100,000. 

I don't know why I didn't look up, but I kept reading. I did glance at him on his way out, though, and saw three men with small stringed instruments.

After the drugstore, I walked to the grocery store. I spent a few minutes shopping and was carrying an unreasonable amount of groceries when I heard a ukulele. I looked down the aisle and Led Zeppelin was playing in front of the avocados. On sale, 99 cents each.

The avocados, not Led Zeppelin.

Monday, May 20, 2024

Aged Like Milk

I was swimming today and Every Breath You Take started playing over the pool's loudspeakers.

How did any of us think this was some kind of love song? It's creepy AF. Every serial killer in the 80s had this song on a cassette mixtape titled "INSPIRATIONS" he carried in his van.

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Friday Links!

Now that I have cereal, it's onward and upward. 

From Wally, and it's fascinating: Visingsö Oak Forest: What Happened to Naval Trees in Sweden Meant To Build Ships That Never Existed? It seems unnecessary: LG wants to roast your retinas with its new 10,000-nit OLED panels for VR headsets. We don't really own anything: ‘My whole library is wiped out’: what it means to own movies and TV in the age of streaming services

From Brian B., and it's a fantastic read: The Creator Of ‘Magic: The Gathering’ Knows Exactly Where It All Went Wrong

From Meg McReynolds, and what a great idea: How a Government Agency’s Offbeat Twitter Memes Landed in the Library of Congress

From C. Lee, and this is bad timing, because I wanted to build a system soon: No reprieve for PC builders as skyrocketing metal prices set to impact component costs. More features we pay for but don't use: Tech brands are forcing AI into your gadgets—whether you asked for it or not. I'm so disappointed that Google search has turned into trash: Watch out for tech support scams lurking in sponsored search results. All I know is I could definitively tell the difference between cane sugar Dr. Pepper (known as Dublin Dr. Pepper for years) and "regular" Dr. Pepper: Is Mexican Coke Better? | The Food Lab, Drinks Edition. Also: Do 'Better' Eggs Really Taste Better? | The Food Lab. Provocative, since I'm going to the dentist for a check-up on Monday: Do you need a dentist visit every 6 months? That filling? The data is weak. Shots fired: What is the point of Xbox? This is very clever: In an Emoji History of Art, ND Stevenson Playfully Recreates Iconic Paintings. Artist Yuiko Noritake: Yuiko Noritake instagram. A lovely obituary: Fuzjko Hemming was one of a kind who knew all about hardship.

The Longest Journey

I drove an hour to Lansing for cereal because Quaker Oats Squares were recalled in early January and they're still not shipping and they're part of my breakfast routine in combination with Grape Nuts and blueberries and I went down several Reddit holes and found out Kroger's store brand is the closest version so I drove there and bought five boxes.

This is how you know you're old.

It was one of those days when the sun comes boiling through the windshield and your skin pinks like a shrimp. I told C if I died Eli 22.9 would be an orphan after the stupidest death ever and she said she thought I could drive sixty mile without killing myself and so I did. Drive, not kill myself.

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

The Universe Explained With A Cookie

Geoff Engelstein, who authored a series of classic books on game design, has written his first-non gaming book and it's utterly delightful. The title, The Universe Explained with a Cookie: What Baking Cookies Can Teach Us About Quantum Mechanics, Cosmology, Evolution, Chaos, Complexity, and More explains the premise, and it's thoughtful and clever and entirely entertaining. Buy it immediately, as your life will be far less without it.

The cookie, in case you're wondering is chocolate chip. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

You Think You're Almost Out and Then You're Right Back In

The buyer pulled the offer on the house on Friday.

It was pulled because the inspector the buyer used filed a 60-page report about the condition of the house. From reading it, you'd think the house was going to explode or fall into Lake Michigan any second.

It certainly doesn't look like that.

So I brought in experts to address his most significant "findings": gas, foundation, electric, and roof.

The gas person and the foundation person have been here, so far. They were, by far, the most serious situations, according to the inspector.

Their conclusion: the inspector is wrong. Not wrong in some ways, or mostly wrong, but 100% wrong. "Should have known better" and "Good at noticing things, really bad at interpreting them" were two of their comments.

The original inspection (the one that sunk the offer) took four hours, and I showed up a few minutes before it was finished. I talked to the inspector before he left, and he certainly thought highly of himself. So highly that it was a bit embarrassing, at least to me. Not just pride, but arrogance, particularly about how much money his inspection company was making (incredibly, he told me).

So Inspector Ego is 0-2 so far. We'll see what the electrician and the roofer say tomorrow.

Monday, May 13, 2024

Gods in the Sky

I received a text from Eli 22.9 early Friday evening:
Northern Lights in Oxford? Sure!

I knew there was a category 4 geomagnetic storm scheduled to arrive (it was later upgraded to category 5), but I had no idea anything would be visible in England. It was, though:

Allegedly, they were going to be visible in Michigan, but it's a running joke that you'll never see the sky if something cool is happening because it will always be cloudy. It was supposed to be cloudy on Friday night, too, but the clouds broke and I decided to go down to the library at 10:15, just in case. There's a deck behind the library, and it overlooks the lake, so it would be a perfect spot.

I didn't see much, at first, but then I remembered to look with my camera (which capture more light), and suddenly, I was seeing the Northern Lights for the first time:

I'd always heard how beautiful they were, but words in no way capture their beauty.  Here's one more:

Now I understand why people in ancient times thought there were gods in the sky. 

Thursday, May 09, 2024

Friday Links!

The links have a bit of a downer vibe this week, instead of always looking on the bright side of life. All part of the ebb and flow, really.

A deep dive into Boeing, and what a mess: The surprise is not that Boeing lost commercial crew but that it finished at all

From C. Lee, and it's no big surprise: Lost opportunity: We could’ve started fighting climate change in 1971. This is far past alarming: How Far Trump Would Go. It's so hard to always be aware of something like this in real-time: Fake Job Interviews Trick Developers Into Installing Python Trojan. It sounds like a Seinfeld episode: The California man who hid for 6 months in a secret room inside Circuit City. This is extremely concerning: Cats suffer H5N1 brain infections, blindness, death after drinking raw milk. How is this not illegal? Switching Your Credit Card May Not Stop a Streaming Service's Recurring Charges. A missed opportunity: Aspirin Can Prevent a Deadly Pregnancy Complication. Why Aren’t Women Told? No, no, no, not for mushrooms: The AI grift that can literally poison you. A fascinating read: Renovation relic: Man finds hominin jawbone in parents’ travertine kitchen tile. We're all old: The BASIC programming language turns 60.

From Ken P., and it was inevitable (part of the enshittification of everything): Amazon is filled with garbage ebooks. Here’s how they get made. Incredible: Pay to stay: Florida inmates charged for prison cells long after incarceration. This will be a nightmare: Deepfakes in the courtroom: US judicial panel debates new AI evidence rules. Amazing: Centuries-old cherries found hidden in bottles under floor at George Washington’s home. An excellent read: Why do we move slower the older we get? New study delivers answers. The headline is absolutely true: How the Laws That Earth Day Inspired Have Benefited Us All. It just doesn't seem very useful compared to the Quest 3, with is 1/10 the price: Everyone Already Forgot About the Apple Vision Pro. Kombucha is wretched (to me), but this is interesting: Kombucha microbes break down fat stores like fasting – without the effort

From Wally, and it's worrisome: Korea: Korea May 2024 Update. A bizarre bit of WWII history: Scapa Flow: WWI Wreck Legacy & Recent Discoveries


I don't understand what's happening in the gaming industry.

I usually do, but not this time.

So many people have been laid off it's impossible to keep track of it all. Companies closing, even after hit games. 

What I don't understand is why no one seems to know how to run a business anymore.

Every studio sounds like they're betting it all on every game. I have one question: why? Who runs a company where every product can bankrupt you? When you bet everything on every game, even if you have a 75% chance of success each time, odds are you'll eventually bust on one of them.

It's not about talent. It's just math.

Most of these companies must be maneuvered into this position, but I'm not sure how. The subsidiaries, yes. They have no choice. An independent company, though? 

Either these companies don't know how to run their businesses, or the economics of gaming have become so onerous that it's almost impossible to survive. 

Either way, it's not good.

Wednesday, May 08, 2024

A Conversation

I talked to Eli 22.8 a few days ago, and he said interesting things.

In all the years he's been at school, he's never talked about life balance, mostly because he's always had it. He was able to achieve academically at a high level without sacrificing his social/physical life. He went out with friends and worked out and somehow achieved academically as well.

In the fall, though, he said he'd lost his balance and spent too much time grinding. Except for hockey, there were plenty of days he didn't even have time to work out. Now, he's running first thing in the morning, and doing some non-academic writing before starting his day. He's doing fewer social things, too, because he's found he enjoys peaceful time at home. 

He said he's come to understand that people who relentlessly chase academic achievements often do so because it frees them from having to make decisions. It enables you to defer learning about yourself, because there's no need to evaluate what you want. He said he was thinking more about how to balance achievement with gaining a greater understanding of himself, and what life will be like when he's not getting constant approval in a university setting.

I wish I knew any of these things when I was his age. Hell, I wish I knew them when I was 40. He's developed an ability to go through life experiences and reflection at a much earlier age than most. Even when he was Eli 10.0, he always seemed ahead of the game.

I'm glad. He'll avoid many of the things that blocked me in life. Nothing could make me happier.

Tuesday, May 07, 2024

Working For a Living

Through a long series of rabbit holes, I inadvertently discovered how contractors run cable through houses, particularly through tight spaces.

They use ferrets.

An example: The National Ferret School. An excerpt:
We can use our ferrets to thread cables underground, through pipes and conduits, behind false ceilings, through wall cavities and in many other situations.

We regularly use our ferrets, working with electricians, to thread cables under floorboards, through wall cavities and above false ceilings.

It's entirely delightful, and also delightful to find out that a collective of ferrets is known as a "business."

There are obviously other ways to run cable, and ferrets aren't as needed as they used to be, but this still confirms their pure boss status.

Monday, May 06, 2024

May Flowers, Sort Of

The house sold last weekend.

Pending a pass/fail inspection on Wednesday, it's official. I have until June 7 to empty the house. A considerable amount of work in a short amount of time.

Today, I found out that Habitat for Humanity will bring a truck and pick up furniture you put in the garage, along with quite a few others things. Large dumpsters that get dropped off and picked up a week later are $350. A friend is putting the best items on Facebook Marketplace. Books not retained will be donated to the library. 

It took all day to sort this out, and I'll be starting bright and early tomorrow (well, not so bright). I think I have a plan, though, or the shape of one, at least.

Thursday, May 02, 2024

Friday Links!

I'm between here and there, so enjoy the links and things will be back to normal on Monday.

From C. Lee, and it's a terrific review: For the Love of Glamour: American Aristocracy from Twain to Trump. This sounds like required reading: Legacies of Eugenics: An Introduction. Could be highly useful this summer: CDC Heat Risk page. Incredible: Hospital prices for the same emergency care vary up to 16X, study finds. This is just the beginning, unfortunately: School athletic director arrested for framing principal using AI voice synthesis. Sadly, it's garbage now: The Man Who Killed Google Search. A genuinely despicable company in multiple ways: Nestlé adds sugar to infant milk sold in poorer countries, report finds. Amen, even though I struggle to remember it sometimes: Being an adult should be about more than what we can achieve

From Wally, a woodworking goofball: If there was a problem, yo I’ll solve it. A taste test for--ketchup: We Taste-Tested 5 Supermarket Ketchups—Here Are Our Favorites. A fascinating read on the economics of the book publishing market: No one buys books: Everything we learned about the publishing industry from Penguin vs. DOJ. This is very, very ugly: Behind a Vegan Chef’s Holistic Empire, an Ugly Reality. A fantastic read: My Life As A "Celebrity" Diner

Mom's Computer (part two)

A few last notes.

One, and it's quite a surprise, but the most difficult part of using the new computer for Mom 94.2 is the power switch. It's hidden, so your fingers have to feel for it, and it's recessed, but not to the point where it's easy to feel. I added a little foam nub to the button to make it stand out more, but it's still not simple for her to find. It's moved into a more central location on her desk now, though, so at least she can lean around and see it. For a system that seems to be designed so well, it's an annoying oversight.

Two, I found a feature in Gmail I didn't know existed. Icons are not always easy for Mom to interpret, especially when they're small, so I changed the top buttons on the Gmail toolbar to text. Now, instead of seeing a small trash can, she sees "Delete." It's much easier.

It's not easy to use a mouse or type when you're in your nineties. I didn't realize this until I watched her go through her daily routine. Arthritis and general wear and tear takes its toll. So go we all.

Wednesday, May 01, 2024


Eli 22.9s team went to the conference tournament without three of their top players.

Overmatched really doesn't begin to describe it. They were getting outshot 3-1 or 4-1 in almost every conference game with those three players.

Pool play in the conference championships consists of three one-period, run clock games. In other words, the perfect scenario for underdogs.

Their results in pool play: 1-0, 1-0, 0-0. In the first game, they only had one shot, but it went in, and they won. For the day, they were outshot 48-13.

They won their group.

I knew the odds of them making it through the elimination rounds (starting in the quarterfinals) were slim, because it was only going to take one bad bounce, and as soon as Eli gave up a goal, I figured it was over. Plus, the quarters and semis were two-periods run clock, which was going to make it considerably tougher.

That's what happened. They lost in the quarters 2-0.

Still, Eli said everyone was happy they won the group, considering they didn't expect to win a single game.

He finished the season with a .957 save percentage, and in regulation games (three periods, no run clock), he averaged over 50 shots faced.

In one of the pool play games, his last save broke the Oxford career record for saves. One of his teammates gave him the puck, and he said it's something he'll keep forever. 

He's playing next year, too. By the time he's done, it may take someone a long time to catch him.

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