Thursday, April 26, 2018

Eli 16.9 on Piano, With a Special Appearance by Evan the Inappropriate Elf

Eli 16.9 started noodling around on keyboards about a month ago.

Watched some videos for instruction, started playing, liked it. We have friends moving into a smaller house, they needed a place to store a piano, etc., there's a piano downstairs now.

The piano is out of tune, and Eli has only been playing for four weeks, but here's what he's doing.

Doesn't surprise me anymore, but I can hear the difference in how he plays every day now.

I recorded that three weeks ago. Now he's taking a lesson a week and working on things like Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer". I'll put up clips occasionally, plus it's a nice excuse to showcase Evan (as if I needed an excuse).

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

A Dark Rabbit Hole

A few weeks ago, I sent my mom a copy of Tangerine, a staggeringly brilliant piece of writing that evokes both Patricia Highsmith and Harper Lee.

I've read all of Highsmith's Ripley novels, and I read a bit of true crime, and then today I saw the headlines, and welcome to the rabbit hole.

The headlines were about the "Golden State Killer", a serial burglar, rapist, and murder who was active from 1975-1986. He committed crimes in both northern and Southern California, prolifically, and was never caught. Over fifty rapes and twelve murders have been attributed to him, and the investigation has been going on for over forty years.

In a remarkable twist, Patton Oswalt's deceased wife, Michelle McNamara, had obsessively investigated this case for years, had done much valuable work, and was in the process of writing I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer when she died suddenly at age 46.

McNamara's work, and the work of a group of "Internet detectives", generated an incredible number of leads and additional information about the case.

Of course, I bought McNamara's book and spent much of the day reading it, and it's an intricate, detailed look at the case and her investigation. It's fascinating.

So, the punchline: they caught him. Story: Golden State Killer, Joseph DeAngelo, Arrested After 40-Year Hunt, Authorities Say.

He was a former policeman.

Many more details will surely be forthcoming, but it's incredible that he's finally been caught.

Another story: Suspected Golden State Killer, a former police officer, arrested on 'needle in the haystack' DNA evidence.


My plan yesterday was to wipe my For The King saves and start the game from the beginning, then write up a guide for your first two hours, but I couldn't get the Lore Store to reset, which meant I had access to all kinds of characters, items, and events not available to a new player.

Still trying to figure out how to wipe it, but in the meantime, making a quick run through the forums revealed that there are some annoying bugs (that I never even saw in earlier builds) that need to be tidied up, so I'm probably going to wait for the first patch.

Plan B was to play BattleTech for two hours and give first impressions, but it's apparently also a bit rough and in need of a patch. BattleTech appears to have every single thing I want in a game, so I'm hoping that first patch comes out sooner than later.

Two things coming, then, in the short term, and I'm working on something else for later today,

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

This Kind of Day

Eating an ice cream cone in my car.

Several drips escapes the cone and hit my jacket. Yuck. What a mess.

A minute later, I'm opening a bottle of water with my free hand, but squeeze too hard (Hulk Rage argggggghhh!), and the water splashes out and hits my jacket. In the exact same spot as the ice cream drips.

Final: wet jacket, but a clean jacket. I'm taking the small 'W' and moving on.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Personality Revealed

We have indoor cats. The neighbors have an outdoor cat.

"Sometimes I see Henry sitting in the yard and I think about how nice it would be to be an outdoor cat," Gloria said. "Warm sun, soft grass, kind of sleepy."

"Are you kidding?" I asked. "If I'm an outdoor cat sitting in a yard, all I'm doing is wondering when a dog will come by and wreck my shit. Because I know it's gonna happen. I'll be half asleep, sprawled out--OH SHIT, GOTTA GO!"

"But cats are fast," she protested. "I see them outrun dogs all the time."

"Do you know how many races you can lose as a cat?" I ask.

"How many?"

"Zero," I said. "Tight hamstring, a little groin pull, maybe just ate treats--boom, your shit is wrecked."

Friday, April 20, 2018

Friday Link Bonus!

Just published today, and it's a thorough deconstruction of one of the biggest bullies and frauds in the history of sport: The Ridiculous Saga Of Lance Armstrong, The Cheater Who Became An Enemy Of The State.

Friday Links!

There are some very, very strong long reads this week.

This is a truly incredible story: The Mobster Who Bought His Son a Hockey Team.

This is terrific read and a tragic story: The father who went undercover to find his son’s killers
This is a tremendous read: OLPC’S $100 LAPTOP WAS GOING TO CHANGE THE WORLD — THEN IT ALL WENT WRONG. Also, this is absolutely the most delightful music video I've ever seen: Watch This Energetic Lady Fake Hula Hoop Across Town.

I'm linking to this, with hesitation, because it made me sick to watch it, but it's also important. It should be called "American Cancer": Path To Radicalization: A Mother Turns to Hate.

From Chris Pencis, and this is extremely topical (and an outstanding podcast as well): Guys, We Have A Problem: How American Masculinity Creates Lonely Men.

From Griffin Cheng, and this is a gripping and poignant read: The murder that shook Iceland. Also, and this is such a well-written piece, it's Monsieur Bébé: The Brief, Strange Life of Raymond Radiguet. This is fascinating: The Secret Language of Ships.

From Wally, and this is a staggering article: The rise and demise of the AAirpass, American Airlines’ $250k lifetime ticket.

From Meg McReynolds, and this is very clever: If You’re Not Sure How a Male Author Would Describe You, Use Our Handy Chart.

From Adam Williams, and how could this not be fascinating? Dwarf Fortress: What Happens When It Becomes A Game? The Zach and Tarn Adams Interviews.

From Chris Meadowcraft, and this is quite amazing: Crowded Fields.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

For The King

For The King emerged from Early Access today, and the discounted launch price is $15.99.

Steam shows that I played the Early Access version for 45 hours, and the only reason I stopped playing was to wait for the finished game.

Here's the description from the store page:
For The King is a strategic RPG that blends tabletop and roguelike elements in a challenging adventure that spans the realms. Set off on a single player experience or play cooperatively both online and locally. Every play through offers new challenges, opportunities, and rewards.

That's a really crap description of an absolutely phenomenal game. It's incredibly creative and whimsical, and musicians are a character class (with multiple kinds of musicians, believe it or not, and they're hilarious as well).

Basically, you're trying to save Whateverlandia from Foozle. Ignore that. Just focus on the gameplay (nicely crunchy combat, hex-based movement outside of combat), the visuals (absolutely wonderful, almost a vaguely 3-D papercraft feel), and the music (which is inspired).

This is not an easy game, by any means, and once your party dies, their progression during that run contributes to "lore points" that you can then use to unlock additional events, weapons, and characters that can then be pulled (possibly) for your next playthrough. All of these additional items are extremely interesting and well-conceived, and make an already interesting game even more so.

I'll tell you one thing to remember: armor. Armor strength is more important than weapon strength. Do not forget this.

Now, a collection of screenshots shameless ripped from the store page.


Combat (above ground):

Combat (below ground):

Steam link: For The King


I know that some of you have issues with chronic migraines, and even though you probably know about this, I thought I'd put it up just in case: A ‘Breakthrough’ Injection Could Reduce Number of Migraines Patients Suffer by 50 Percent.

Migraines are strangely individualized, so to find something that appears to be so broadly effective is remarkable.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

What Lurks Beneath

"What unholy marriage is this?" I ask. "Be thee neither beast nor fowl, yet full of evil."

"Oh, for god's sake, it's butternut squash," Gloria says. 

"That's no vegetable of this world," I say. "It has device-like qualities, or perhaps it could be used as a weapon."

"This is what I get for trying to add some variety," she says. 

"Back, foul creature!" I say. "Back from whence you came."

"All right," she says.

"Note to self," I say. "Seal portal to underworld."

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Grand Rapids or Kópavogur, Iceland (Episode One)

I read a terrifically interesting article about a murder in Reykjavík, Iceland.

This sent me down a rabbit hole.

For some reason, I wanted to see if there were any American fast food franchises in Reykjavík. There weren't (kudos, Icelanders), but there was a TGIFridays in nearby Kópavogur .

Now I had to find out what it was rated.


Then I had to read the reviews.

As I did, though, a strange and nightmarish awareness grew inside me. I flipped over to Grand Rapids on Google Maps and looked up a TGIFridays north of us.

Score? 3.4.

Then I read the reviews. It confirmed what I feared: I couldn't tell them apart. 

Go ahead, you try. Four of these reviews are from Michigan, and four are from Iceland.
★ 7 months ago
Wow what an awful experience this was.

★ a month ago
Just as a heads up for anyone else who may be dining there. I hope that they can improve this location and find new management.

★ 3 weeks ago
Walked in at 5:15 And was told there was a 20 min. Wait. Looked in at the bar area and there were at least 7 empty tables.

★★ 6 months ago
Waited 10 minutes to be seated. Waited 15 more minutes for a server. Went and got my own drinks from the bar. Waited another 20 for food. There was a maximum of maybe 15 people in the restaurant.

★ a month ago
The staff is awful. Nobody cares about the guests. The food is not bad, but still if you want to get a good service - don’t come here.

★ 4 months ago
The burgers are great if you can ever get your order served. Bad service.

★ 8 months ago
I have been to other Tgi's and been satisfied. But NOT HERE.. the food was soggy and the service was terrible.

★ 7 years ago
Service is really bad

At a minimum, I suggest that TGIFridays adopt a new slogan: "No matter where you are, here you are."

Monday, April 16, 2018



Back in the Day

Scanning through channels, we saw rugby. When you see rugby, you're required, by law, to watch for a few minutes.

I think this was a rugby league game. Thirteen players a side. Also, they were enormous.

"I can't believe how big these players are," I said. "It seems like the small player is out of the game now. This is nothing like back when I played."

I look over at Eli 16.8, and he's looking at me in astonishment. He's actually considering it!

"What?" he asked. "You played RUGBY?"

"I was a pretty effective center half quarter back," I said.

"All right," he said.

"Ha!" I said. "You actually thought about it for a few seconds."

"I did," he said, laughing. "How did I forget who I was talking to?"

Friday, April 13, 2018

Friday Links!

This is an absolutely brilliant piece of writing: Porambo: How a fearless journalist who wrote a seminal account of police brutality during the 1967 race riots in Newark, New Jersey, wound up on the wrong side of the law.

From C. Lee, and this is concerning: How Android Phones hide Missed Security Updates From You. This is fascinating: The Natural Enemy of the Librarian. A most excellent read: All rise and no fall: how Civilization reinforces a dangerous myth. A useful bit of history: Even Though He Is Revered Today, MLK Was Widely Disliked by the American Public When He Was Killed. Fascinating: Inoculation theory: Using misinformation to fight misinformation. Oh, my: How Older Widow Spiders Seduce Younger Males—And Eat Them.

From Wally, and while the freshness date on this article may have expired, it's still excellent and informative: I Fooled Millions Into Thinking Chocolate Helps Weight Loss. Here's How. I have no idea: America’s least-favorite candy is suddenly its most sought after. This is quite interesting: Inside the world of instruction manuals. This is forward-thinking (as it remembers the past): The new Fog Creek office. This is excellent: Stunning photos of abandoned Soviet tech. These are striking: Itchiku Kubota – Kimono as Landscape, Kimono as Art.

From David Gloier, and "perished primate" is great alliteration: 'Mummified monkey' found in Minneapolis department store.

Site Meter