Thursday, October 31, 2013

Jute's Charmed Life

DQ Reader Garrett Alley has published the second volume of his trilogy for young adults. It's titled Jute's Charmed Life: A Bracelet of Willow and Copper, and it's every bit as good as the first volume. Its target audience is middle schoolers, leaning toward girls, but even an old man like me thinks it's well-written and an excellent read.

Rain, Didn't Drown

We went to hockey last night and reached the rink at seven. It had just started raining.

While we were at the the rink, it rained. Hard. We got out of the rink about 8:45, and it was still raining. Hard. Crazy lightning, rattling thunder, the whole package.

Eli 12. 2 had just played his best game of 4x4 ever. It's basically the travel team kids, with a few high-level development players, playing 4x4 on a 2/3 sheet for an hour. It's hockey at hyperspeed. It's also incredibly difficult for the goalies, because defense is entirely optional.

Eli gave up 4 goals on 65 shots. He was just crazy, ridiculously good, and I even have some video that I'll cut into a sizzle reel for you guys to see next week.

On the way home, with the lightning flashing right over our heads, I said, "You've angered the Hockey Gods."

He started laughing. "But I played really well!"

"No, not the Goalie Gods," I said. "You angered the Shooter Gods. You have threatened their dominance, and they are responding with fury."

For the rest of the night, whenever we heard thunder, Eli said "The Shooter Gods are angry!" and laughed.

Once we got home, it rained hard for another seven hours.

Austin averages 32 inches of rain annually. We had 9 inches of rain in 9 hours last night. That's 28% of our average rainfall for the year in one night.

Personally, we were very lucky. No flooding. Didn't even lose power or the Internet connection. There were lots of other people who weren't as lucky, though, as there was plenty of flooding and quite a few evacuations.

Our lakes are within a few feet of being at all-time lows. Some are only 35% full, which is incredible. This huge rain, unfortunately, was almost entirely below the watershed, so it's going to do almost nothing for the lakes.

If Eli can keep angering the shooter Gods, though, maybe those lakes will fill back up.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


DQ reader Aaron Ward alerted me to a Kickstarter for a horror game designed for the Oculus Rift.

Yeah, I thought that would get your attention.

Here's a description:
Alone is a brand new type of horror experience. It requires the use of the Oculus Rift headset, headphones, and a PC enabled controller. Once you put on your VR headset, you will find yourself sitting on a couch in a virtual living room. Looking around the room you'll find the comforts of any home, and windows looking out to a dark and windy night. In front of you is a Television where you will be playing an FPS horror title called The Witching Hour. Using only your controller, Start the game. 
As your progress through the story you'll find that something isn't right... and the game world of The Witching Hour begins bleeding out into the virtual living room. You will experience visual and auditory thrills as the horror from The Witching Hour becomes all too real and even has you questioning whether or not it's coming from the game.
It's called "Alone", and here's the Kickstarter page. They're only asking for 25k, and it sounds like a terrific idea. Plus, here's their website: Greenwood Games.

Gridiron Solitaire Preview

There's a preview of Gridiron Solitaire over at Red Door Blue Key.

Actual press coverage. This is surreal.

Lou Reed Follow-up

DQ Reader My Wife sent me a Neil Gaiman interview with Lou Reed, and it's outstanding:
Waiting for the Man - Lou Reed.

The Largest Wave Ever Surfed

I'm not going to wait until Friday for this, because it's simply too incredible to wait.

This photograph is everywhere (and I'd like to credit the photographer, but I haven't been able to find his name yet). That's Andrew Cotton riding a wave off the coast of Portugal.

It's believed that this wave may have been 100 feet high.

Deadspin has the details, with video, here.

Plus Cotton, as if that wasn't enough, saved the life of a fellow surfer during the session as well. Incredible.

Lou Reed

Lou Reed passed away on Sunday.

When I was younger, I always said people "died". Now that I'm older, I always say "passed away". I don't know why.

I'm not qualified to discuss Lou Reed's discography or his place in musical history (although I hope that Chris will weigh in on this at some point), because I didn't listen to enough of his music.

I will tell you, though, that the first time I listened to his album "New York", I felt like fifty tons of TNT was coming out of my speakers. That album didn't play as much as it detonated. It was rumbling and angry and raw, but unlike most anger, it was beautiful and poignant as well.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Mathematician Needed

Or perhaps someone who is just extremely handy with those oddly-shaped symbols we call "numbers". If you're interested, please contact me. Thanks very much.

Rocksmith 2014

Dubious Quality Guitar Advisor David Gloier picked up Rocksmith 2014 last week, and here are his thoughts. As soon as Gridiron Solitaire ships and life settles down a bit, I'll be picking this up and putting some serious time into becoming a very bad guitar player (which would represent a considerable improvement from my current level).

A note on David: he's a damned good guitar player. He plays compulsively, collects guitars compulsively, and he is an ideal person to review this game. Here we go.

Has it really been two years since the release of Rocksmith? It has, and how are we not all guitar gods, yet? Have no fear, Rocksmith 2014 has arrived to remedy that situation.

That may be more than a bit of hyperbole, but this version should make you a better player. Rocksmith was an unbelievable piece of technology, and I’m still utterly impressed with what the developers accomplished, but Rocksmith 2014 is a much more complete experience this time around.

The core gameplay hasn’t changed much, but they’ve added so much more…more games, more lessons, more songs, and a more user-friendly riff repeater. The menu system has been streamlined. Gone are the days of having to back out of four or five screens to get somewhere. Loading times are non-existent. You can manually adjust the difficulty level so those that have some experience don’t have to wade through the extremely simplified version of songs just to get up to their skill level. The career path is long gone, but you won't miss it. If you’re driven by scores, a score attack mode has been included to scratch that itch.

You can choose your path and play either lead or rhythm guitar, and you can switch between them at the song menu.

The “Rocksmith Recommends” areas are specific to each song and can be accessed from the song screen. Have an issue with a chord while you’re playing and the game picks that up and you can punch a button to bring that chord up to see how you’re supposed to play it. Missing a bend regularly? Let’s take you to a bend lesson. The AI detects your weaknesses and lets you address it right then and there.
And that’s the difference between this version and the last one. Rocksmith 2014 is less Rock Band with a real guitar and much more of a teaching and practice tool. That’s a good thing. I spent many hours with Rocksmith, but ultimately ended up using it as a song trainer. I’ve got 15 hours logged in with this version, and most of that is in modes other than “Learn a Song”.  There’s just so much here.

The mini-games are back and more entertaining than before. Included are multiple games for each technique you’re learning, which helps vary the practice and keeps it from getting tedious.

Lessons cover a lot more ground, as well, with loads of videos to show you what you need to be learning and practice riffs to work on the techniques presented in the videos. They cover everything, from the most basic (how to attach your strap), to the more advanced (Rock and Roll Master Class.) They even have videos to teach you how to string a guitar and tune by ear. That’s important stuff to teach beginners. The technique lessons are well-presented and I’ve found myself more than happy to go back and repeat ones I’ve already mastered, just for the practice.

If you’re a novice, all this instruction will move you along. If you're experienced, well…they’ve got a little something special for you in “Session Mode”.

“Session Mode” let’s you jam with the band. Pick the backing instruments, a tempo, the root, the scale, the style, etc. and start jamming. It will show the notes in the scale you've chosen at the bottom of the screen, so you always have that template to work with, but it won’t punish you for stepping out of it. The AI is pretty fantastic and seems remarkably organic, far from a sterile backing track. The band follows your lead and actually adjusts to your playing. I spent almost two hours the other night just jamming with the AI band until my fingers just had enough. This mode may be the most amazing aspect of Rocksmith 2014, and those with some experience may find much of their time spent here.

Before I forget, you can also import the songs from the previous version (plus any DLC). It cost $10, but when you consider the licensing fees involved for that many songs, it’s not a bad deal. I didn’t mind, as I liked a lot of those songs. I’m still feeling my way around the new ones, but it’s making me realize I’m much older than the apparent target audience for this thing. Here’s hoping Ubisoft will take pity on some of us elderly guitar players with their DLC releases.

I’m playing on a PC through Steam, and I feel I need to address a few issues for anyone planning to do the same. It seems the game has a difficult time detecting the Realtone Cable from any USB port that isn’t powered directly from the board. The front USB ports on my computer just didn’t get along with that cable. Once I moved it to a board-mounted USB port on the back of the tower, the problem went away. Another issue that I hope they are working on is that the once the game is booted up, you have to tab out, go to the audio icon on your task bar, click on recording devices, click on the Rocksmith cable, go to properties, and manually increase the level. It always defaults back to 17%. (Bumping it up to about 70-75% seems to do the trick.) Then tab back into the game. It’s annoying, and the problem didn’t exist with the last version., but like I said, I’m expecting they’ll fix that issue.

One other issue with the PC version: When you complete a song, it provides you with three “Rocksmith Recommends” options. For some reason you can’t mouse over them and click. You have to use the arrow keys on the keyboard and hit enter to access those items. It took me a bit to figure that one out.

Rocksmith 2014 has obviously put a lot of effort into making this into a much more productive learning tool and have done more than just release Rocksmith 2.0. Improvements abound and you will have lots of fun with them.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Gridiron Solitaire #78: Grinding

All right, no Steam Greenlight page last week. My fail.

Instead, I've been hunting down a few obscure bugs that I'm finally squashing. Here's an example. There's a bug that occurs in roughly 1 in 250 games where the text string that compares the Human pass offense versus the CPU pass defense in the pregame broadcast is blank.

Sure, it's obscure, but it's an atmosphere killer when it happens, because it totally breaks immersion. The problem with this bug, though, is that there was absolutely no pattern. No combination of circumstances seemed to make it happen.

This is one thing about programming that is very, very difficult for me. I'm very comfortable fixing something that breaks every time. That makes sense. Trying to fix something that doesn't work 0.4% of the time is something else entirely.

I spent hours and hours on this over a three day period, first quantifying how often it happened (by setting up a loop that ran 500 trials and logged when the pass comparison string was missing), then trying to understand how this bit of code was different from the running, defense, and special teams comparison.

In the end, I fixed it by finding the difference, then doing that bit of code a different way, even though it should have made absolutely no difference whatsoever. The new way I was doing things was entirely functionally equivalent to the old way.

It did make a difference, though. I ran 2,000 trials after the change with zero occurrences of the bug, and before the change, I'd never had a clean run of even 500 trials.

This is the kind of stuff I'm doing now, the equivalent of wisdom tooth extraction (for me, at least). On the positive side, though, I don't want this to happen to an end user, and I'm happy it won't.

Fredrik continues to work on the website, and I'm working on the Greenlight page this week. 

Friday, October 25, 2013


Sorry, I put up the wrong link for that outstanding Buffalo sentence. It's fixed now in the post, or you can just go here.

Friday Links!

Leading off, from The Edwin Garcia Links Machine, it's Time-Lapse Photography In A Single Frame. Next, and this is very funny, it's Barnacle Bill's Semi-Factual Nautical Tales, Episode 1 - Golden Calf.

From Meg McReynolds, and this is ingenious: Miniature Scenes Shot with Model Cars, Forced Perspective and a $250 Camera.

This will twist you in knots (from John Harwood): the phrase "Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo" is a grammatically correct sentence.

From Eric Higgins-Freeze, and this is amazing: Geneticists Use Herpes to Confirm Ancient Human Migration Routes. Also, and this is stunning, it's We can't stop watching this anamorphic optical illusion.

A bundle of links from Kez, beginning with Why have young people in Japan stopped having sex? Next, and this is remarkable, it's Gamers solve decade old HIV puzzle in ten days. This is tremendously bizarre: Shocking discovery: All mammals take about 21 seconds to go pee. Last one, and it's a doozy: You Won't Believe This Netflix Customer Service Rep Is Real.

From Jonathan Arnold, and this is terribly sad: The Ocean is Broken.

From Wallace, and this is fantastic: Airship History Slideshow.

From Steven Davis, and this is beautiful: Anthony Howe’s Otherworldly Kinetic Sculptures Powered by Wind.

Next, from Robb, and this is entirely remarkable: Disney Research’s Method for Electricity from Paper.

From C. Lee, and this is mind-blowing: The kilo is losing weight, changing all of science, but unfortunately we don’t know why.

From Julian Bell, and this is quite a headline: Norwegian hunter misses moose and hits man on the toilet.

This last link is both tremendously funny and quite beautiful as well. I'm not even going to explain it--just go look and be delighted.

Thursday, October 24, 2013


The outdoor pool in our neighborhood closes next Thursday for the winter.

I've managed to keep swimming, even as the water temperature has dropped substantially. It's in the mid 60s now, which (for me) is extremely cold water. I'm not going to go join a gym for the winter until I absolutely have to, plus I save half an hour driving each time I swim here.


Today I swam 800 yards, which was not much of a swim, but I was getting progressively colder and decided to get out. In cold water, I can tell when I've had enough, and after twenty minutes, it was time.

When I got home (which only takes a couple of minutes), I took my temperature. 94.4 F. Holy crap.

That made me think I needed to do some Googling about body temperatures. As it turns out, hypothermia begins to set in below 95 F. Not after ten minutes, but an hour at that temperature will get you in trouble.

What's interesting is that my body tells me that. I can swim in very cold water, but I know when my body temperature has reached the point where it's too low. There are signs, like the water beginning to slightly sting my back. It's a very distinct feeling.

Time for the gym, and their boring swimming pool.

Halloween Costume Tabulation!

Of course we're doing costume tabulation for Halloween this year.

In case you haven't been reading the blog that long, every Halloween readers send in costume tallies. We've been over 1,000 costumes several years, and it winds up being an interesting data set, so please participate. To do so, just send me an Excel spreadsheet (or similar) with the types of costumes you encountered and their numbers (boy or girl + type of costume).

Breaking News: Scrofula Update

From DQ Reader My Mom:
Scrofula was known as the “king’s evil” way back when English and French kings supposedly cured the disease by touching the affected person. I think the last monarch who practiced this was Queen Anne of England.

I'm guessing the cure rate was low.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


I've been working on the sound engine for about 6 hours today, and Eli 12. 2 had hockey tonight, so pictures.

I've been swimming for most of the summer (even now, when the water temperature is down to 65). I've been using the same swim trunks for years--form-fitting, like cycling shorts.

I went to Fry's to pick up Wind Waker a few weeks ago after I swam. I got home and Gloria started laughing after I talked to her in her study for a while. "Did you go to Fry's like that?" she asked.

Here's why:

Play on, playa. Good grief.

Eli had a day off from school last week, so of course he spent three hours at the rink. Gloria took some excellent pictures, and here's one of him working on his slap shot:

This was taken at a new 2/3 sheet called The Pond, and we all love the rink. First class all the way. There are a bank of stationary bikes upstairs--eight of them--and I pulled one over to the railing tonight and cycled for half an hour while Eli played in his 4x4 league (as a skater, and he scored twice and had two assists). Since I'm at this rink for three hours a week, I can use that time to work out, because I can see everything perfectly if I just pull the bike over to the rail.

Just three hours? That doesn't include the three hours a week at the other ink.

Here's something I'd never seen before:

Limos, yes. Pink limos, no. Until now.

We went to Target last weekend and readied for Halloween:

Plus, we saw this book and immediately purchased it, and it's entirely hilarious (both to us and Eli as well):

Finally, today I saw one store already preparing for a tasteful, understated holiday season:

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

John Brown

I picked up this book last week: Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War.

I enjoying reading 19th century history because the world was just so damned bizarre. And it wasn't that long ago--I think my great grandmother would have been alive in 1850, and that's not many generations removed from me.

I'm barely a third of the way through the book, but I've already run across two incredibly strange bits of history. The first:
In the early 1800s, roughly a third of Americans died before reaching adulthood. Early death was so common that parents recycled their children's names; the Browns, having lost a Sarah, Frederick, and Ellen, named three newborns Sarah, Frederick, and Ellen.

Think that's strange? Try this passage:
Smith profitably managed his family's estates while cycling through the many reform movements of the early 1800s, including temperance, women's rights, vegetarianism, and sexual "purity" (a creed advocated by Sylvester Graham, who claimed his coarse-grained crackers curbed lust and masturbation).

Wait--a guy named Graham, who had crackers?

So I looked up Sylvester Graham, and here's an excerpt from the Wikipedia entry:
Grahamites, as Graham's followers were called, accepted the teaching of their mentor with regard to all aspects of lifestyle. As such, they practiced abstinence from alcohol, frequent bathing, daily brushing of teeth, vegetarianism, and a generally sparse lifestyle. Graham also was an advocate of sexual abstinence, especially from masturbation, which he regarded as an evil that inevitably led to insanity. He felt that all excitement was unhealthful, and spices were among the prohibited ingredients in his diet. As a result his dietary recommendations were inevitably bland, which led to the Grahamites consuming large quantities of graham crackers, Graham's own invention.

If you're wondering, the original Graham crackers were apparently incredibly bland and nothing like the tasty bit of delicious we have today (the cinnamon version, in particular).

Here's two more strange and amusing excerpts.

First, this is an actual medical diagnose from 1860: "A scrofulous humour seated in her glands." I've never heard of the word "scrofulous" (a disease with glandular swellings) before, so I'm glad that's been remedied.

Next, a complaint (a very long story, but it involves a very obese person who was unproductive in their salesmanship task): "I spent so much money in transporting so much inert adipose matter."

Monday, October 21, 2013

Gridiron Solitaire #77: Greenlight

I played a "complete" build on Eli's Ultrabook last week, simming a few seasons as well as playing almost a dozen games.

It's been a couple of months since I've been able to play much, because I was fixing/adding things based on feedback from the beta testers. Now, though, I actually get to play, and it's always a nice moment.

Even nicer, I found very little to fix. A few small things, and I made a few minor tweaks, but overall, everything was extremely solid. And none of the things I did have to fix were game breakers or even close.

In other news, Fredrik took a new approach to drawing the goalposts, and they look terrific. The one thing that drove me crazy about the game looks just like it should now. Plus we did a little clean-up work on the drive canvas. Nothing big, just slight resizing of the down marker and first down marker (making them both a little larger), and making the goal line pylons slightly smaller.

Today, I played a game where I was ahead 21-17 as time was winding down, and on the last play, the CPU team started from my four yard line. I picked the play correctly, so the max gain was fifteen yards, and I kept playing cards to reduce the gain.

I had one Big Play press left, and it generated a usable card, and as I played the last match to stop them at the one-yard line, it was the best feeling. Watching a game like that on television is always a huge thrill, and I felt that thrill as I played the cards.

That's all I wanted when I started working on the game, really.

I made a decision yesterday--in spite of what I said a few months ago--that I need to make an attempt to get the game on Steam. This wasn't doable a few months ago, because Greenlight was only approving a tiny trickle of games, but now the trickle has become a torrent, and it seems like dozens of games are getting approved on a regular basis. In the new environment, I have a much better chance, and I know you guys would support the effort. So I'm going to work on creating a Greenlight page this week, and I'll let you know when it's ready.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Friday Links!

Leading off this week, from Loyd Case, and this is simply insane, it's Extreme Unicycling the Alps: The Mettelhorn.

From Steven Davis, and this is incredible: New Technology: Paper Generators Harvest Static Electricity.

From The Edwin Garcia Links Machine, and this is high satire, it's The Hobbit - Summary & Analysis by Thug Notes. Also, you should check out this one, which is a totally terrific analysis: The Catcher in the Rye - Summary & Analysis by Thug Notes. Next, and this is both clever data presentation and very depressing, it's 9 Out Of 10 Americans Are Completely Wrong About This Mind-Blowing Fact. One more, and it speaks for itself: Bee and PuppyCat on Cartoon Hangover. Last one, and it's amazing: Inside the recently-found Chinese cave system so big it has its own weather system.

From Chris Meadowcraft, and this is thoughtful and useful commentary by Raph Koster: On Getting Criticism.

From Todd Robinson, and this is spectacular, it's Space Shuttle Endeavour Exclusive: A Timelapse of the Final Ride.

From Jonathan Arnold, and this is eye-opening, it's Height and weight of all active NFL players, by position.

From Daniel Quock, and this is both NSFW and utterly hilarious (seriously--you'll laugh your ass off), it's Duracell Bunny Keeps On Running.

From Eric Higgins-Freese, and this is very cool: The Earth breathes, and it is beautiful.

Finally, here's a treat to end the week with: 'Ai Poppi,' short documentary on eccentric man's DIY amusement park in an Italian forest.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Eli 12.2: I didn't even get to all of it yesterday

DQ Reader My Mom e-mailed yesterday and said I'd forgotten to mention the most important part of last weekend, and she's right.

Eli's coach has a hardhat that is given to the hardest working player on the team after a game. After the game on Sunday, Eli came out of the locker room wearing the hardhat. He was beaming, too--his teammates recognizing him meant as much as winning the game.

He wore it Monday morning before he left for school. And I'd show you a picture of him wearing it, but I've started so late today that he's already in bed.

So today, I picked him up to take him to hockey practice. I asked him if anything interesting happened to him today, and he said "This group called The Chemistry Circus came to school today, and they showed us all kinds of cool things about physics."

"Like what?" I asked.

"My favorite one was a demonstration about figure skaters," he said. "They put one kid at a time on this big disc, then had them hold 10-pound weights in their hands. They spun the disc with the person holding their hands out, then had them close their arms and their eyes."

"And they spun much faster when their arms were in close, right?"

"Right!" he said. "They spun crazy fast."

"So how long did people spin?"

"Most kids didn't even make one full revolution," he said, "because as soon as you lean a tiny bit off center, it's almost impossible to correct with your eyes closed. Emma made it two and a half turns because she's a dancer."

"Did you get to do it?" I asked.

"That's a funny story," he said, laughing. "Everyone was yelling for me because I played hockey--which is on ice, at least--so the person doing the demonstration called me. After he spun the disc, I closed my eyes and just tried to feel my balance. Then the disc started slowing down, and I thought I did something wrong."

"What happened?" I asked.

"It spun so long that it ran down," he said. "I was on it for at least twenty seconds, and the other kids said it was almost thirty revolutions."


"Yeah," he said, laughing. "The guy doing it said they'd been doing it for four years, and no one had ever done that before."

"What did it feel like?" I asked.

"Dizzy," he said. "When it stopped, I almost fell into a chair because I was so wobbly."

"Just another day in the life of a superfreak," I said, and he laughed.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Eli 12.2: In Control

I haven't had anything to write about Eli 12.2 in a while.

No drama, no crisis, no real need for guidance. A little framing, maybe, but not much else. He seems so poised, so in control.

Seventh grade has been smooth sailing for the first six weeks, maybe the best beginning he's ever had to a school year. He likes most of his teachers, he's friends with a ton of eighth graders, and he enjoys the greater sense of responsibility in middle school.

He's managed his homework so well that we rarely even check with him.

Plus he's playing hockey six days a week. Travel practice on Monday, House practice on Tuesday, 4x4 on Wednesday, Travel practice on Thursday, goalie practice on Saturday, and House practice on Sunday.

His House team starts playing games this Saturday, and the coach has already told Eli that he's going to double-shift him--one shift at wing, then one as a defenseman, then one shift on the bench. They've had four scrimmages (15 minutes each) against one of the other House teams, and Eli's scored in three of them (with three assists). He's suddenly taller and stronger, one of the best skaters in House, and when he's on the wing, he dominates.

After the Leveling tournament with his travel team, we had a brief talk. "You played two periods of a great game in the semis," I said. "And that was without practicing well. Do you know how well you'll play if you can crank it up in practice?"

"Yes," he said. "And I will."

And he did. With every practice, he looked sharper. When he's playing well, the balance between anticipation and reaction shifts toward anticipation. He moves so quickly that he's waiting for shots instead of trying to reach them.

It's a long journey to where he wants to go. Most of that journey is taken in practice. The games just reflect what's been happening in practice, and for him to be really, really good, he has to understand that, and he has to always be the hardest working kid on the ice.

Most kids can't do that. They can't get treat practice with that kind of importance. Eli understands, though, and with only rare exceptions, he works his butt off.

Last weekend, his team had their first two games in their travel league. They're in "A" league, which is definitely a couple of cuts above where he played last year. He looked so sharp in practice, though, that I thought he was going to play very, very well.

The first game was on Saturday against a Houston team that had played at the AA level last year (as second-year Squirts--they dropped down one level this season, since they're first year Peewees). This was the same team they'd beaten 5-2 in the leveling tournament, but Eli hadn't played that game. He's in a 50/50 rotation with the other goalie (who's also very, very good, and they've become friends), and it wasn't his game.

This first game wasn't his game, either, so he sat on the bench and charted shots. His team didn't play well. They hadn't played a game in almost a month, and their spacing was way off, along with their passing. Eli's friend kept them in the game for a long time, but they wound up losing 3-1.

The game Sunday morning was at 8:45, and Eli likes morning games. We followed the same routine we do for goalie practice on Saturday morning: get up at 7, leave for McDonald's at 7:15, have a biscuit and a Powerade, and get to the rink at 7:45.

"Three keys," I said as we were driving to the rink. "One: precision. If your movements are precise, it's easier to chain movements together, and you can make as many moves as you need. Two: balance. You also have to stay balanced to make multiple moves, and it lets you use your quickness. Three: glove and blocker forward. If they're forward, you don't have to move them as far up or down to respond to a shot."

"Got it," he said. I'm not even sure he needs three keys anymore, but I like to do it as framing, and he doesn't seem to mind.

"One other thing," I said. "You are the best athlete on the ice. You're the fastest, and the quickest, and those kids have NO IDEA what they're about to run into."

I looked in the rearview mirror and saw him smile. "I'm ready," he said. "I feel really, really good."

When the game started, it was Saturday all over again, only worse. For the first five minutes of the game, his team barely had the puck at all, and Eli was getting peppered with shots.

None were getting through, though.

He was so quick and decisive, and he made every kind of save imaginable. I counted ten shots in the first five minutes, but he was just better than the kids who were shooting on him. And I've never seen him be so precise--I didn't see one inch of wasted movement.

By the end of the first period, the other team had fourteen shots, and we only had three, but Eli's team was playing better. He looked invincible, and his teammates were feeding off that confidence.

In the second period, Eli's team was still skating uphill, but they hacked in a rebound midway through the period, and suddenly, they were ahead 1-0. With that goal, they seemed even more energized, and their puck possession steadily got better.

Early in the third, with the score still 1-0, there was a loose puck in front of Eli's crease, and a kid fired a wrist shot. Just as I was thinking that it was going to be tough sledding at 1-1, Eli flicked out his glove in something straight out of The Matrix and deflected the shot away.

It was a spectacular save. For most of the game, he was so in command that he was making everything look easy, but there was absolutely no way to make that save. He made it, though, and a few minutes later his team scored again to make it 2-0.

The other team was so intimidated at this point that they just stopped taking any shots from the wings. They started trying to make the prefect pass into the slot, but Eli knocked some of those passes away, and his teammates intercepted others. His team had started very poorly, but by the end of the game, they were playing very well, and controlling the flow of play.

He had to make one more very tough save, but he made it so smoothly that it looked easy. He's never been so much in command. His team added an empty netter and the final was 3-0.

As soon as the buzzer sounded, he was mobbed by his teammates. It was a shutout, and a beastly one.

I asked him later how it felt. "Like no one could score," he said. "Ever."

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

League of Denial

I just finished reading League of Denial: The NFL, Concussions and the Battle for Truth.

It's brutal.

If you have any interest in football, or have a child involved in sports, then I highly recommend that you read this book. Wait, let me broaden that a bit. If you enjoy reading, then I highly recommend that you read this book. It's a brilliant, discouraging piece of work.

I thought for years that the NFL was actively researching the effects of concussions and cumulative head trauma. They were, but in the same way that Big Tobacco researched the relationship between cigarettes and lung cancer. This is a disturbing book, beautifully written, and incredibly dramatic.

This issue is not going to go away. It may not destroy the NFL, but it will have a radical effect on the future of the game. If you want to know why, read this book and you will understand.

Great News

Eli 12.2s friend Jack Campbell was called up to the Dallas Stars earlier this week. The next day, the Stars put their starting goalie, Kari Lehtonen, on the injured reserve list.

That means Jack is going to stay for a while, and even better, he may be getting the start on Thursday against San Jose. It's incredible--he's only 21, and he'll be starting in the NHL.

Eli still has his signed stick from last year that Jack gave him after practice. Jack was incredibly generous with his time, and we are absolutely his biggest fans. I even told Eli last year that we would travel to see Jack's first game in the NHL. With Eli's hockey season in full swing, though, that's unfortunately not going to happen, but we'll be watching and cheering from home.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Gridiron Solitaire #76: Details

I'm down to one bug.

In a multi-monitor setup, the user can't move the game off the launch screen. Every other bug that's been found over the course of a year of beta testing has been fixed.

Well, the goalposts still drive me crazy. Fredrik's drawn at least four versions, and I still can't quite get him the angle to draw that looks just right.

Other than that, though, I've done everything I can. Fredrik's art is terrific, the game is packed with details and little moments that are special, and there's a ton of personality. It's a little game, but I put as much into into it as I could.

Tomorrow night, I'm building a release candidate. I'm assuming it will take several (over the course of a few weeks) before I'm done, but I'm getting very close.

Plus, I'm sending the release candidate to the person who's influenced my entire gaming existence. Without his games, I never would have started thinking about making a game.

It's a good sign that this is so short. Almost done!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Recommendations, Please

Okay, I need to find a web host for the Gridiron Solitaire website. Here are the companies I'm considering:
A Small Orange

If you've had any experience with any of these companies and would like to make a recommendation, please do so. Thanks.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Friday Links!

A little light this week in numbers, but the quality is strong.

From Eric Higgins-Freese, and this is amazing: Chandra Sky Map: Visualizing the X-ray Universe. Also, and this is just as amazing, it's What is the Higgs?

From Paul Adams, and I hope Eli 12.2 can do this someday: In the Gym With Brandon Todd, 5'5" Dunking Machine.

From C. Lee, and it's a fascinating article, it's Sony’s Lost Generation Risks Push to Restore Walkman Mojo. Also, and this is fantastic, an interview with Neil Sheehan about the writing of A Bright and Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam.

From The Edwin Garcia Links Machine, and this is excellent, it's Characters, Symbols and the Unicode Miracle. Also, and this is a remarkable story, it's The Great Library at Alexandria was destroyed by budget cuts, not fire. Next, and this is a nice insight into history, it's The Memo That Spawned Microsoft Research—Analysis and Download.

From Steven Davis, and this sounds fantastic: Book Review: Beautiful Lego.

Here's a fantastic series of images: The Amazing Chalk Art of Japanese Classrooms. Also, a look back in time at the debunking of spiritualism: Tech Magazines Used to Expose Psychics, Astrologers, and Other Frauds.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


The first memory I have of my father is when I was six years old. We were fishing from the bank of a lake in East Texas. It was a big lake, and as I cast into the water for the first time, I had this little thrill of excitement. I caught a fish on that cast, and then another, and another. I caught at least sixty small bass in three hours.

I don't remember anything he said to me that day. I just remember that he was there.

That Christmas, or a Christmas near that time, he sent me a bright red Ambassador bait-casting reel. I was overjoyed when I opened the package.

A few years later, I spent the summer with him in Monroe, Louisiana. My older sister came with me.

Monroe was very different from anything I knew, because it was many hours away from the coast where I'd grown up. There were enormous trees and very little wind. Dad had a nice house in a lower middle-class suburb, much nicer than ours.

By then, he had been remarried for years--to another school teacher, ironically, although she wasn't nearly as intelligent or nice as my mom. Mostly, she argued with my Dad, who ignored her except for the occasional cutting remark. He was a health inspector, and every night when he came home, he went directly to the refrigerator and started drinking can after can of Lone Star beer.

He drove a tiny Honda Civic, and he told me proudly about the gas mileage and the quality of manufacturing.

Dad was very angry about integration. Everyone had rights, he said, but it was the natural order of things for different groups to have different kinds of rights. Black people were lazy and didn't want to work and caused their own problems. I knew that was awful, and wrong.

M*A*S*H was my favorite t.v. show. He said it was stupid, and when I made him watch an episode with me, he made it seem stupid. I don't know how he did that.

We would go fishing early in the morning, so early that I had to get up at 4:30 a.m. He would freeze ice in a big bucket in a garage freezer, and he would put on gloves and take an ice pick and chop the ice free.

We fished for bass, and fishing for bass in a lake is very different than fishing in salt water, which is how I fished at home. Fresh water fishing is all about finding structure, then trying to work that structure to catch the fish living around it while not getting your lure hung. It's closed off and claustrophobic, nothing like the open waters of a bay.

One morning, I saw an enormous fish boil up beside the boat. It was the biggest fish I'd ever seen, and I thought it was a world record bass. I flipped the lure behind the boat and let it drift downward. Then I started reeling, and I thought I had hooked the monster, because my rod bent over double. The fish never moved though, and after a long period of waiting, I realized there was no fish on the other end, just a log or something else that had caught my lure.

At some point in the summer, he threatened to send both me and my sister back home. He didn't, but at the end of the summer, I was very glad to leave.

The next memory begins on the porch of our house, when I was twelve. He had driven down from Louisiana with his new family and his friends, and he was taking me to fish on Padre Island for a week. It was raining as hard as I've ever seen it rain, before or since, and I remember waving frantically at him from the porch because I wanted him to come in.

I don't know why I wanted that. Maybe I thought that if he saw Mom, they would magically wind up together again. Instead, he sheepishly said hello, and my mom was angry and uncomfortable.

I remember how excited I felt as we drove away, not because I didn't love my mother (I did--very much), but because this seemed like extra life.

The beach is a hard place to live for a week. No matter how clean you are, it never lasts for more than a few minutes before sand invades everything again. We lived in a big, walk-in tent with light blue panels.

We bought live shrimp from Red Dot bait stand, and he told me that he used to own this very bait stand. "If I'd stayed, I'd still own this," he said. He made it sound like he would have made a fortune, even though it was nothing much.

One morning we drove down the beach, looking for flocks of birds that would signal fish underneath. We found them, and we found fish. Casting into the water, birds careening and tumbling through the air, the raw salty air, fish cutting up the surface--it was all exhilarating.

We fried fish and hushpuppies, then boiled crab, ears of corn and red potatoes in a pot. A bag of Zatarain's seasoning always got thrown into the pot, and when they were done, the white of the potatoes was stained orange.

Later that week, my dad rented an R.V., and we drove it down the beach. We stopped at one point and the men started looking at a girl in a bikini who was sunning on a towel. Her breasts were visible over the small shape of the bikini, and my father said, "Look at those titties." He handed me the binoculars and told me to look. She couldn't have been more than fifteen, and as I spied on her, I felt very, very dirty.

I was so sunburned after a week that even the tops of my feet were burnt.

For years, he sent us $100 a month in child support ($50 for each child), because a court had ordered him to as part of the terms of the divorce. When I graduated from high school and was preparing to go to college, he told my sister that he was going to stop sending the money (which was only $50 at that point, because my sister was grown and married) unless I showed some gratitude.

I wrote him a letter, and it was scathing. My mother told me not to bother. She said she would send me the $50, and she did.  I never sent the letter.

While I was in college, I saw him as I passed through Monroe. I don't know where I was going. He took me to a place called Breaux Bridge that was nothing more than a few shacks. All of the shacks were bars. We walked inside and he said, proudly, "Not one woman or black man has ever stepped inside this place." I felt sick.

He wanted me to have a beer. I refused.

He took me for a drive, to Mississippi, because he wanted me to see where he'd grown up. We drove and drove, and then he pulled up to a series of houses on blocks in the poorest country neighborhood I'd ever seen. "This is where I came from," he said. "This is all I had." I could tell from his tone that he believed this explained everything, if only I was perceptive enough to understand.

I was not.

I didn't see him again for almost a decade, and then he appeared out of nowhere at my sister's house one holiday. He didn't come inside, but we talked in the driveway. "I'm still your father," he said. I don't even know anymore why we were having the conversation, but I remember him trying to leverage, pushing me with guilt.

It was like pushing water.

I haven't seen him since then. I know that if he had stayed, though, I would have grown up like him instead of my mom, who is an intelligent and honorable person. The only contribution he made to my life was not being there.

He lives on the coast now, not far from where I grew up. He's almost eighty. I've occasionally wondered if I would go to his funeral, but I realized yesterday that I wouldn't. What if I was in some kind of auto accident, some unlikely, horrible accident that could leave Eli without a father?

That's not going to happen.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013


Penny Arcade had a comic today titled "The Intrusion of Actual Life", and if you haven't read it or the accompanying news post, please do. Tycho talks at length about the conflicted relationship he has with his father, and it's poignant and beautifully written.

I thought about that post for most of the day, because I was thinking about how well he distilled an entire lifetime with his father down to a few paragraphs.

My Dad left before I was born, even though he came back briefly for my birth. I've only seen him rarely, and not at all for over twenty years. So instead of sorting through reels and reels of mental footage, as Tycho did so well, I have snapshots, and instead of an edited movie, I have a collage.

That made me start writing down everything I had personally experienced with my dad, every memory I could remember, and as I looked at the list, the fragmented nature of the memories was something I thought was worth sharing. So I'm working on the post and it will hopefully be done tomorrow.

The Overpromise

I try very hard not to overpromise.

Usually, I get to everything I say I can. Occasionally, though, I don't, and it's very, very stressful. I have two promises outstanding that I'm not going to get to anytime soon, and they're both games, so I'm going to go ahead and mention them. I don't like doing it this way, but trying to finish the last bit of GS is taking so much time that it's better than waiting two months.

I still have very fond memories of the High Heat baseball series, which was launched in 1999. It was the spiritual successor to the Front Page Sports: Baseball series in that it aimed for accuracy at a granular level of detail. High Heat was far, far ahead of its competition, and it was developed by an internal 3DO studio called "Team .366."

A few guys from that studio developed and recently released an iOS/Android game titled Your Turn Football, and it's a blend of strategic and arcade gameplay (although the arcade element is limited). There's also contract management as you acquire and resign players.

This is an online game only--no single-player mode. Plus it's turn-based, so you can have a ton of games going at the same time. I didn't spend enough time playing it to give you legitimate impressions, although I did learn that in order to succeed at the game, you need to have multiple games going. Playing games gives you coins, and you need those coins in order to sign better players for your team.

It's free with IAP available, and if you're interested, you can get to either version of the game from here.

The other game is from a studio named Balloon 27, and the game is called "Hill Bill." Here's a description:
Hill Bill is a motorcycle trick jumping game starring a hillbilly with Evel aspirations. 

 Bill has big dreams for a hillbilly – to be just like his idol, Evel Knievel. With his trusty 3rd hand garage sale bike he sets up his very own ramps and starts riding. Bill starts out a little wobbly, but soon he’s mastering jumps and tricks in a course containing old junk found around his yard. A few of Bill’s friends even stop by to watch. Then a few more friends come. Then a few more. His sudden local fame puts big ideas in Bill’s head, and he decides to take his show on the road.

I did spend enough time with this game to see that the graphics are beautifully done, and the style is quite charming. It's a side-scroller, and it's mechanics are familiar, but it's certainly full of personality and humor. Links to both versions are available here.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

NCAA: It's Over (Update)

One of the smartest people I know e-mailed after I posted two weeks ago about NCAA and EA Sports. He presented a counter-analysis, and agreed that I could share it with you guys, but anonymously.

First off, I mentioned that EA Sports was hitting a wall, and one of the data points I used was the decline in the number of franchises, as well as EA's lack of a baseball game.

Mr. A. Nonymous said that a baseball franchise for EA made no sense. Third-party AAA-sports franchises need upwards of two million units to be viable long term. First parties can get away with less because they help sell consoles and don't carry the platform license fee.

The Show sold approximately 700,000 units last year. The Show is a stellar, brilliant franchise, and it can't even reach one million in unit sales.

Even if EA could make a baseball game of that quality (my comment: unlikely), and even if they stole every single unit from The Show, their marketing machine would still have to triple the existing demand for a baseball game.

If you were a gambler, that would be a bad bet.

It's a thoughtful analysis, and I believe he's correct. That makes me incorrect (hell, I'm used to that). I still believe EA Sports is suffering, but baseball as a data point is removed.

He also weighed in on the lawsuit that EA settled with former NCAA players (known as the Keller case). I felt like EA's legal claims in the case were guaranteed losers, almost to the point of absurdity.

However, A. Nonymous disagrees. The judicial decisions were split, and he feels that if EA appeals, they have a strong chance of winning at the Supreme Court level (and they are appealing).

Here's EA's basic framing of the legal issue (from the Keller petition):
Whether the First Amendment protects a speaker against a state-law right-of-publicity claim that challenges the realistic use of a person’s name or likeness in an expressive work.

This is the meat on the bone:
The Ninth and Third Circuits recognized that Petitioner’s video game was an expressive work, under this Court’s holding in Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Ass’n, 131 S. Ct. 2729 (2011). Nonetheless, they held that the game’s depiction of the plaintiffs did not enjoy First Amendment protection. According to the Ninth and Third Circuits, the depiction of a person’s image or likeness in an expressive work enjoys First Amendment protection against a right-of-publicity claim only if the depiction sufficiently alters or “transforms” the plaintiff’s image or likeness. That rule is constitutionally perverse: it affords First Amendment protection only to fanciful or distorted portrayals, not accurate or realistic ones. The rule also chills expression, both because it is hard to predict what a court will decide is sufficiently “transformative,” and because such an inquiry inevitably requires a court to make a subjective judgment about whether a depiction is “artistic,” thus warranting protection, or “literal,” and thus subject to liability.

The test adopted by these two circuits, moreover, conflicts with various other tests adopted by other circuits and state supreme courts, which do not focus on transformation at all. Some of these courts engage in case-by-case balancing of First Amendment interests and right-of-publicity interests—an approach that raises its own constitutional problems. Others give appropriate respect to the First Amendment by confining the right-of-publicity tort to circumstances in which the challenged depiction falsely claims a celebrity commercial endorsement or is unrelated to any other expression and thus gratuitous.

The lower courts’ various and conflicting constitutional tests have resulted in numerous irreconcilable outcomes. For example, the Sixth Circuit has held that the First Amendment protects the inclusion of a professional golfer’s realistic image, prominently displayed in a painted montage including other golfers, ETW Corp. v. Jireh Publ’g, Inc., 332 F.3d 915, 931 (6th Cir. 2003), but the Ninth and Third Circuits now have held that the First Amendment does not protect an accurate digital depiction of a former college football player in a video game. As the judicial confusion has mounted, scholars, writers, and artists have begun to recognize a major threat to free expression.6 This Court’s guidance is urgently needed.

I don't agree with the legal arguments EA advances in this case, but they are clearly far beyond the level of absurdity I described in the previous post.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Gridiron Solitaire #75: Finishing Up, Hopefully

After three and a half years, this was a moment:

An actual install package, just like a program done by an actual grown-up or something. Even better was this moment:

So for the first time, the game actually installs. I'm a bit in shock, really.

I'm still tweaking a few little things. One of the little things that was driving me crazy was the min/max yardage labels on the drive canvas. I tried to fit them in-between the goalposts, but it just never looked quite right--it was cluttered, and just too busy.

My original thought was to hide the goalposts until the first match was made (so that the min/max labels would be easy to see), but then the conceit of the canvas being a little football field falls apart. Goalposts can't just disappear.

Fredrik had an excellent suggestion, which I changed a small bit, and we wound up with this (you can click on it for a larger view):

Now there are little scoreboard labels to the left and right of the drive canvas, and they display the min/max gains. When a match is made, they hide. It's very simple and much cleaner.

I have five things left on the list. Two of them are obtuse, two are relatively straightforward, and the fifth is fairly simple.

When those items are finished, I'll do nothing but play the game for several hours a day and fix whatever I find. It's a bit overwhelming to look past that point, but it's not going to take long to get there.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Friday Links!

Paradox is now one of my favorite gaming companies after reading this article: Inside Paradox, the strangest company in video games.

From Steven Davis, and this is quite spectacular: Ark Nova: World’s First Inflatable Concert Hall Will Tour Recovering Areas in Japan. Also, and this is amazing, it's Building a Low-Cost Nanoscope with Lego and Makeblock. One more, and this is both poignant and striking: 9,000 Fallen Soldiers Etched into the Sand on Normandy Beach to Commemorate Peace Day.

From Jesse Leimkuehler, and man, this is insane: Filmmaker comes face to face with black rhino. Also, and this is heartwarming:  Okla. teen acts to right his father's wrong.

From Simon Jones, and this is magnificent: Minecrafting with OS OpenData (Great Britain).

Next, and I saw this last weekend, and this is quite provocative: Neville Chamberlain Was Right.

From The Edwin Garcia Links Machine, and this is incredible: Cameras capture eagle killing deer in Russia. Also, and this is stunning, it's The Map That Lincoln Used to See the Reach of Slavery. Next, and this is a terrific video: Jet World Masters 2013. One more, and it's an idiot alert: Video Shows Boaters Riding Into Waterspout. Next, and this is both terribly sad and beautiful: Pokemon grave stone fills me with all the feels.

From Jonathan Arnold, and I still find this surreal: Grooming the Champions of the Keyboard. Next, and this is downright frightening, it's This Hornet Will Be the Last Thing You See Before You Die.

From C. Lee, and this is entirely fantastic: Possibly the greatest textbook doodles of all time.

From Ryan Brandt, and these are just stunning: 31 Haunting Images of Abandoned Places That Will Give You Goose Bumps.

From Loyd Case, and this is some incredible unicycling: Ryan Kremsater and Jacob Spera: Atlantis.

From Wallace, and this is borderline creepy: Next Weekend This Abandoned Wizard of Oz Theme Park Will Open. Next, and this is required viewing, it's Size Comparison - Science Fiction spaceships.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Wind Waker HD

I've been telling Eli 12.2 about Wind Waker for months now, hoping that we'll be able to play the HD remake together. It comes out tomorrow, and since Eli's been a Mario kid his entire life, it will be interesting to see if he gets into a Zelda game.

I though the original Wind Waker was amazing, and all I wanted were visuals with no aliasing. So this remake is right up my alley, even though neither one of us has much time to play video games. Eli is playing hockey six days a week, so homework and hockey are his after school activities.

Vegas Arcade

Here's something I never thought I'd see in Vegas:
Atari's 1981 hit Centipede is an antique in the video game world, but it's the hottest new thing in the casino industry.

Slot machine manufacturers are rolling out a raft of games inspired by the penny arcade, hoping to attract middle-aged gamblers with a dose of nostalgia and the promise of finally cashing in on all those hours spent in front of a screen.

A Centipede slot machine to hit casino floors soon is more than just a clever licensing deal, or a sign of gambling's cosmetic change from one-armed bandits to touch screens and digital music. It's part of a new generation of models that let users show off a rare casino trait: skill.

The game, developed by International Game Technology, the industry's largest slot manufacturer, converts points earned shooting digital insects directly into money. If two gamblers sit down at an identical machine, the better shot will walk away with more cash.

Don't pack your bags for Vegas just yet, because no one is going to make a living playing Centipede, but I like the idea that skill matters. My only problem is that the only game where I was above average was Stargate (which was a sequel to Defender). "Not a lot of call for it round these parts," as Monty Python would say.

Actually, that's not correct. I was entirely decent in Konami's Hyper Sports as well. I still remember the events, too: Swimming, skeet shooting, gymnastics vault, archery, triple jump, weight lifting, and pole vault. I don't remember the exact order, except that swimming was first and pole vault was last.

I spent long hours at the 7-11 near my apartment playing Hyper Sports. And I remember it all--I even had a favorite pencil for the pencil trick, which was essential for a high score.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

The Morning (it's gross)

Yesterday, I went to the dentist.

I've been pretty lucky with my teeth. They're durable. I haven't had any accidents. I think I've had one cavity in the last decade (or two decades).

A few weeks ago, I felt a jagged edge on one of my upper molars. I thought I just chipped it or something--no big deal. And since I had a cleaning appointment coming up, I figured I'd ask about it then.

My dentist is organized. Super organized. Anal retentive organized.

I know, it's not from a label maker, but trust me, she's Conan the Organizer.

So I asked about the chip, and she took a look and said, "That's not a chip. That tooth cracked and you lost quite a chunk."

I'm sure that's not great at all.

That tooth already had a filling, from years and years ago. Instead of a crown, though, which basically replaces almost all of the tooth, she said we could do something else. I forgot the name, but they save more of the tooth this way.

Okay, fine.

She also said that instead of having to wait for an appointment, they actually had one opening at 9 a.m. on Wednesday (today).


I don't like the dentist. Not her, specifically--she's great--but just the whole practice of dentistry in general. I'm glad it exists, and I go faithfully for my cleanings, but I really, really don't like the process.

Still, though, getting this taken care of quickly sounded like a great deal.

So I was back this morning at 9:30. She said it would take ninety minutes, and I assumed she would take off that little sharp edge off my tooth.

Um, not exactly.

Instead, she basically used a circular bone saw (DISCLAIMER: I know teeth are not considered bones. But teeth are even harder.) for ten minutes to take all of the tooth except the front.

I was not expecting this.

I'm sensitive to noise, and smell, so having that whirring drill in my mouth, and the delightful smell of decay (because when a tooth cracks, bacteria gets inside and gets all nasty), was harsh. Damned harsh. Plus my mouth got stretched in about fifty different, highly uncomfortable, ways.

Here's what it looks like without the "imitation rest of the tooth" cemented in place (hell, yes, I got a picture):

What's left of it is a nice white tooth.

What, you were trying to eat lunch? Have you learned nothing in the last ten years?

So I have a temporary imitation tooth cemented in place until the mold gets duplicated into the real imitation tooth.

I feel pretty crappy, really, but after I came home, I read up on crowns and root canals, and it sounds like I was pretty lucky. I didn't have any pain after the tooth cracked, and nothing at the root was fouled up.

I thought I was in the ending of Brazil for a few minutes, though.


I saw the fight between George Parros and Colton Orr last night. If you haven't, go here, but be warned--the ending is brutal.

I love hockey. And seeing two guys fight each other, which is not part of the game, makes me sick.

The NHL moves in micro-steps, though, so how about this? How about a game misconduct for fighting, and if the fight gets started in the 3rd period, the penalty carries over to include the next game? If somebody still wants to fight, they can fight, but at least this way there are significant consequences.

Please don't tell me that fighting is an essential part of the game. It's not. The playoffs have almost zero fighting. It may have been appropriate twenty years ago, or fifty, but today, it just seems barbaric.

There will come a day when fighting gets eliminated from the NHL. I will be very happy when that day arrives.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

The Future As The Present

When I worked at CompuAdd in the late 1980's, a 286/12 was the bomb. I still have the manual--here, have a look at the page about memory:

That's right. This bad boy shipped with 512KB of RAM. And don't forget the gigantic 20MB hard drive.

I was reminded of this today when I saw a review of the Samsung Galaxy Gear watch. I have zero interest in this product, and have no idea why anyone would buy one, but I was curious to see if I was missing something enormous, so I read the review. And saw this:
Spec-wise, the Gear features an 800MHz processor with 512MB of RAM, a 315mAh battery, 4GB of internal storage, Bluetooth 4.0 + LE and an accelerometer and gyroscope.

512MB of RAM and 4GB internal of storage on a WATCH? Who am I, George Jetson? What kind of crazy future present am I living in? I expect Rosie the Robot Maid to roll up any second and say "You betcha, Mr. H."

Two Ventures to Support Posthaste

The first is a spin-off site from the absolutely essential Pocket Tactics, and it's called Red Door Blue Key, specializing in PC games. Helmed by Gamers With Jobs alumnus Phil Scuderi, I have no doubts it will uphold the high standards of both PT and GWJ.

Seriously, someone should do a Gamers With Jobs writing tree. They have been incredibly influential, and have also raised the civility of the gaming Internet by hundreds of degrees.

I will be entirely unsurprised if RDBK grows at the same astronomical rate as Pocket Tactics. The ingredients are all there.

The second venture is a Kickstarter campaign for Rebuild: Gangs of Deadville, the continuation of Sarah Northway's fantastic zombie survival series. These are wonderful and fascinating survival games, with a true sense of tension, even anguish at times. They're funny, too, and how they manage to be all that I have no idea.

If you have a mobile device, you can try out Rebuild. That same game is on the PC as Rebuild 2. After you've played either one for 15 minutes, I'm sure you'll head immediately to the Kickstarter page.

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