Wednesday, January 31, 2018


Gloria was having a friend over. I peeked out of my study.

"Looks like you're ready," I said. "Figure skating on television. All you need now is to put out snacks."

Gloria laughed. "That's actually what I was just doing."

"I know the social conventions," I said.

"You just don't follow them."

"I have FOMI."

"What is FOMI?" she asked.

"Fear Of Missing In," I said.

How Not To Promote Your New Game

I was a Kickstarter backer of "Planet Explorers", which was a troubled project that didn't seem to ever quite come together, even though it did get released.

So I was very pleased when they sent out an email about their new project, "My Time On Portia", and said that they'd be giving Steam keys away to the Kickstarter backers of Planet Explorers.

All I had to do was email them and ask.

Great! I really wanted to try out My Time At Portia, anyway, so that was just great. They put out the email the night before it was going into Early Access (last Thursday), so I sent them an email and said I appreciated the goodwill gesture on their part.

A week later, I'm still waiting for a response.


I was a Kickstarter supporter of DQ reader Geoff Engelstein's "Gametek: The Math And Science Of Gaming." I just finished reading it last weekend, and it's fantastic.

Here's a description from the original campaign:
August 2017 marks the ten year anniversary of the GameTek segment on the Dice Tower podcast. Connecting games to math, science, and psychology, GameTek has grown to be one of the most popular parts of the show.  

To commemorate this anniversary, I am very excited to announce the publication of GameTek: The Math and Science of Gaming. Over the last six months I have gone through hundreds of segments, selected my favorites, annotated and illustrated them, and organized them into a book. Clocking in at over 300 pages, GameTek includes more than seventy essays. 

The good news for you is that it's going to be available via Amazon starting on February 1, and here's the link: Gametek: The Math and Science of Gaming

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The Ambassador of Quesadilla

We went to Chipotle on Saturday for lunch..

"Well, this is a new one," Eli 16.5 said as he sat down."The guy said he wasn't allowed to cut my quesadilla 'for liability reasons'."

I burst out laughing.

"What is the dangerous end of the quesadilla?" I asked. "Are the slices razor sharp?"

"I have no idea," Eli said, laughing. "I want to hear the story, though."

Much to our surprise, the manager actually came over and explained. According to him, in 2008 or so, Chipotle was sued by a customer who ordered a quesadilla and accidentally ingested a piece of foil that had been dislodged in the cutting process.

Or something.

Then he handed Eli this:

"Wow," I said. "Does this make you the Ambassador of Quesadilla?"

"I think it does!" Eli said.

Monday, January 29, 2018


We were watching Timber Sports on television at some point during the weekend. It's a sport pursued by brawny men who saw and chop various things with great power and at high speed. We are fascinated by this, for some reason.

Also, just so you know, kids call winning a "dub", which is short for "W".

"Oh my god, this is an INTERNATIONAL timber sports event," Eli 16.5 said. "Look at that bracket!"

"Are we in this?" I asked.

"We are," he said. "We're playing Turkey in the next round. Easy dub."

A Weekend, Living the Dream

Left for Detroit at 10 a.m. on Thursday. Got home on Sunday at 4 p.m. Ugh.

We were at a hotel 30 minutes from the rink (thanks a lot, "stay to play" and assigned hotels). Eli 16.5s team played two games a day.

With all that in mind, this was a typical day:
8:00 wake up
8:45 breakfast
9:30 arrive at rink
11:00 game starts
1:00 game ends
1:30 lunch
2:15 get back to hotel
2:30 nap
3:15 wake up, shower
3:30-4:30 free time
4:45 dinner
5:30 arrive at rink
7:00 game starts
9:00 game ends
10:00 get back to hotel
10:15 shower, watch TV
10:45 lights out

If you add in driving, meals, game prep, game, and returning to the hotel, each game constituted about five and a half hours. Two games a day is eleven hours, and that's if you're very, very efficient.

Eli is very efficient. He set this schedule up, and he's totally disciplined about napping instead of watching TV or checking things on his phone. I think it works to his advantage, because he always gets enough rest at night and between games.

For parents, though, these are long, long days.

They won their first four games, then lost in the semis of the tournament to a Colorado team with lots of Russian kids (who they'd already beaten in pool play 4-1, but that was against the second goalie, and their best goalie played in the semis).

Eli played two games (he was set up to play in the finals, but we lost), went 2-0 with a  0.50 GAA. Didn't have to do much in either game, really.

Oh, and Igor Larianov was at the rink, scouting the Russian kids. That was pretty cool.

I think Eli's team will be 12th or 13th when the rankings come out this week, but they're starting to run out of time to get to 10th and make it to Nationals. They can still do it, but they have to play consistently well for the next 15 games, which has always been a problem for them.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Friday Links!

Greetings from yet another crappy hockey hotel!

This is a fascinating, genuine profile: Artie Lange Is Not Ready to Die: ‘F*ck ’Em All’.

Also, this would really be something: A man claims three Alcatraz prisoners ‘barely’ survived a 1962 escape — and that he’s one of them.

From C. Lee, and oops: Google Translate's Mongolia Service Goes Horribly Wrong. Quite a life and quite a writer: Ursula K. Le Guin, Acclaimed for Her Fantasy Fiction, Is Dead at 88. This is quite amazing: 80-year-old former furniture maker is lord of 'Himeji Castle'.

From Wally, and this is incredible: BEHOLD THE MOST AMAZING D&D MAP EVER CREATED! This is interesting: 17 Canceled Star Trek TV Shows And Movies We Never Got To See. Very NSFW, but also very funny: 30+ Epic Toy Design Fails That Are So Bad, It’s Hilarious. Here's an overload on the cuteness meter: Weighing a Baby Aardvark is Not Easy - Cincinnati Zoo.

From Steven Davis, and I never actually wondered about this: Why Ancient Greek Sculptures Have Small Penises.

From Ken Piper, and this is a nice memorial: Naomi Parker Fraley, the Real Rosie the Riveter, Dies at 96. This is excellent as well: THE SECOND COMING OF ULTRASOUND.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Rubicon

I think some line has been permanently crossed when people stop talking about replacing their boobs and start talking about replacing their knees.

The Infinity Paradox

We're in Detroit for a tournament, watching a terrible reality show. One of the main characters is wearing a visor.

"Tell me the name of one person who looks cool wearing a visor," I say.

"Not possible," Eli 16.5 says. "That person does not exist."

"What about historical figures?" I ask. "Napoleon in a visor?"

"Shakespeare," Eli says. "But he'd wear it sideways."

"So we could go back to the beginning of time," I say, "and NO ONE could have ever looked cool wearing a visor."

"Correct," he says.

Not even Jack Nicklaus (if you're old enough to remember that he wore one).

Wednesday, January 24, 2018


Let's talk about this:

That's the play board for DropMix (WARNING: if you click on the link, the website has a little background video that implies you will be considered more sexually attractive if you play DropMix. This is almost certainly not true).

Does this look, at first glance, like the kind of game I'd play? No. Then why am I playing it?


It's a Harmonix game, and some of my favorite people made it. And, for discussion purposes, it's an interesting look at how difficult it can be for a great idea to get the attention it deserves.

Here's the basic premise. The board is a mix deck, and each card has an instrument line from a song. So, for example, a blue card is a percussion card, and if you put it into one of the marked blue slots, you'll hear the percussion line from that card. Yellow cards are for vocals, etc.

There are wild cards, too, and you can change the BPM of the mix and the key, if you want.

From these different instruments and options, you put together a song.

You dock your phone/tablet on the board, and there's an app that goes with it.

Simple idea, right?

Sometimes simple is brilliant, and it's certainly true in this case. In five minutes, at most, you understand how everything works. And the way that the game somehow combines tracks is nothing short of stunning.

It's incredible how good everything sounds. I can't overstate the smoothness of the experience.

You can save your mixes, of course, and I've even saved a few. I find it incredibly relaxing to play--relaxing and focused at the same time.

Eli 16.5 loves it, too, and it's fun to alternate control and see what kind of mixes we come up with.

There are other game modes besides freestyle, but we haven't even tried them.

Seemingly, this has the makings of a big hit. So why isn't it?

For that answer, I think we have to look squarely at Hasbro, the publisher.

How much advertising have you seen for DropMix? I've seen zero. And this is a product that needs advertising--it's unique, and it needs to be seen. You can't just look at the box and understand the possibilities.

First mistake.

Then there's the price. The game launched at $100, which is utterly ludicrous, particularly when there's an additional revenue stream in the form of expansion card packs.

Second mistake. So you have a $100 game with no advertising.

I walked into a Gamestop last week and asked the counter person if they had any DropMix cards. He said, "What's DropMix?"

Third mistake. Now you have a $100 game with no advertising and low awareness by the very people who are supposed to be selling it.

I did find a nice DropMix display at Toys"R"Us, but everywhere else, the product is hidden on back wall facing end caps or something similar.

Fourth mistake. A $100 game with no advertising, no sales awareness, and ultra low visibility.

Oh, and those expansion packs? It's not even easy to find all of them. The electronica pack ("Astro", I think it's called) is almost impossible to find.

Fifth mistake. A $100 game with no advertising, no sales awareness, ultra low visibility, and poor availability of expansion packs.

Had enough? What a colossal failure by Hasbro. And, thanks to them, the product sold so poorly that it was briefly available for only $50 a few weeks ago, which is when I picked it up. At least that temporary price drop was possibly an acknowledgement of how badly they screwed up the launch.

At $50, this is an automatic buy. I can't say that at $100, but it's a unique, engaging experience, and it's definitely special. I'll let you know if I see it on sale anywhere.

Harmonix. Freaking geniuses. Again.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Philosophical Differences

"There's a napkin right there," Gloria said, as I ignored it to get a paper towel instead.

"Why don't you use napkins with dinner?" she asked. "They're right there."

"There are two kinds of men," I said. "Paper towel men and napkin men. I'm a paper towel man. Things can happen with paper towels. There's a whiff of adventure in the air, of crisis that can now be averted."

"I asked," she said.

"Napkin men? What can you do with a napkin? You wipe food off your face. Napkins are only good in executive lunch rooms, where the worst thing that can happen is that your steak is mildly overdone."

"I still prefer napkins," she said.

"Enjoy that dinner in the penthouse," I said. "Meanwhile, I'll be marching in the streets with my paper towel, ready for anything."

Monday, January 22, 2018

Football, for Once

Has anyone else noticed that Tom Brady now has the arm strength of a burly sixth grader? All his passes look like weather balloons.

Look, he can say all he wants about his quack fitness guru/shaman and how it's helping him be ageless, but he's not. Quarterbacks start losing arm strength at a certain age, and it doesn't vary by much, no matter what you do. It happened to Peyton Manning at 39, it's happening to Brady at 40, and by five games into next season, people are going to suddenly be aghast at how he looks washed up.

They traded the future of their franchise to keep Brady happy, and now the Patriots (finally, for some) are doomed, no matter what happens in the Super Bowl. Well, unless they find a new franchise quarterback in the later rounds. They've done it before.

I loved watching football for so long, but man, it's fading fast. Stories like this: Repeated Head Hits, Not Just Concussions, May Lead To A Type Of Chronic Brain Damage. Sub-concussive impacts accumulate and cause CTE, which means there is absolutely no safe way for anyone to play football.

The NFL will deny this--they've become the sports version of the tobacco industry--but it's not going to go away.

Form Factors

"She's looking through her purse," Eli 16.5 said.

There's a huge stack of receipts, business cards, etc. on Gloria's desk

"She's not looking," I said. "That's an excavation. Look at what she's pulling out of there: concert ticket stubs from the 1990s, gum from a previous decade, receipts from childhood visits to the dentist--"

"Have actually pulled out none of those things," she said.

"That's not a purse," I said. "It's a hovel in a different form factor."

Friday, January 19, 2018

Friday Links!

A little light this week, but still full of fun reads.

This is amazing: Why the Eastern Corner of Siberia Is the Coldest Inhabited Place on Earth. Also, just trust me, you want to read this story and watch the video: Rodney Mullen And Daewon Song Made A Video That Changed Skateboarding Forever.

From C. Lee, and this is fascinating: If We Ever Get to Mars, the Beer Might Not Be Bad. I had no idea: Author Haruki Murakami adds own touches to Chandler novel. An amazing woman: The animation genius you've (probably) never heard of. Delicious: Mongolia's Obsession With Pine Nuts. This is fantastic: Watch This Guy Literally Crack an Aluminum Lock Using Gallium.

From Wally, and this is an excellent read: How to keep a charity gaming marathon going for 160 hours straight. This is terrific: The Usenet Deep Space Nine recapper who helped inspire modern TV criticism.

From Chris Meadowcraft, and this is quite remarkable: Trains in Japan may be disguised as barking dogs to ward off deer.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

A Little Late, but Not Too Late

This is Martin Luther King.

People forget his anger. They shouldn't.

Letter from Birmingham Jail

The Badass

I turned my head last night and my neck sort of seized up.

Sometimes I wake up with a sore neck from some odd sleeping position, but this was new. I felt like my neck was in a vise.

Sleeping was difficult, and it felt worse in the morning, so I called the YMCA. They have a massage therapist who comes in twice a week, and I was able to get in this morning to get worked on.

The therapist was in his 60s and looked absolutely fit.

Boy, I had no idea.

Over the course of him making me almost scream in pain (my neck is much better now, thanks), I found out all kinds of things. A short list:
--he's been running for 40+ years
--he's done 100+ triathlons
--he completed the Ironman in Hawaii in 1984
--he cross-country skies and used to be able to do 30 miles in 3 hours under ideal conditions.

He's worked as a tool and die maker for most of his adult life, but in the mid 1990s, most of the people at his location were let go (they kept 100 out of 1,500, and he stayed on). The company fully paid for him to go to masseuse school, and he picked up a second career.

Somehow, though, that plant never closed, and he's still there, working swing shift. He does massage therapy in his spare time.

I told him I might come in to see him for a follow-up next week, and he said he was going to be out for a while. He was leaving on Friday with five of his long-term running buddies.

To go climb Mount Kilimanjaro.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

You Can't Feel the Cold in Photographs

Here are a couple of lovely early morning photos from around the lake. 


League playoffs are in Minnesota in mid-February. The team is taking a bus. We're flying, because there's a direct flight to Minneapolis from Grand Rapids, and we don't want to make a 10+ hour drive in the dead of winter.

"I have no idea how much this will cost, but it's going to be bad," I said. "Every direct flight seems like it's five hundred dollars plus now."

"I'm just pulling it up," Gloria said. "There we go--"

"What? Those prices are crazy good," I said. "Wasn't expecting that."

"Wow, those really are low," she said. "There's even one close to two hundred."

"That's less than half what it cost to fly to Philadelphia," I said. "Great!"

"Those prices really are a mystery," Gloria said.

"I know," I said. "It's almost like no one wants to go to Minnesota in--wait a minute, I think I've got a lead."

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Seemingly Impossible


In front of me is a lake that is 55 feet deep at it's deepest point. It's frozen. All the way across.

I'm snowshoeing. And the picture is a little blurry because my hands are so freaking cold with my gloves off, even for a few seconds.

I understand ice in cube form. I've seen the trays in the freezer. But Austin me still can't quite grasp that entire lakes freeze over in winter and we walk across them. 

Martin Luther King Day

I make this post every year on Martin Luther King Day (sorry it's one day late this year), and it's more topical than ever, given that our President is a straight-up racist (that's not political, it's just a fact).
Today is a national holiday in the United States to celebrate the life of Martin Luther King, Jr.

It's easy to forget the kind of hatred and stupidity that King was fighting against, but a good place to start is here: What was Jim Crow. The Wikipedia entry for Jim Crow laws also has detailed information. And the Wikipedia entry for King is here.

Also, here's a link to a 2006 post when Eli asked me about Martin Luther King for the first time. It's still one of my favorite posts.

Monday, January 15, 2018


Big surprise, we were on a four-day hockey trip this weekend (Eli 16.5 was 4-0, 1.50 GAA, looked like a boss).

"So tomorrow before the game, do you want Panera or Jimmy John's?" I asked.

"Jimmy John's," he said. "But you should know me well enough to know that."

"I do know that," I said, "but I also know you well enough to know that if I just told you, you'd be annoyed."

"Hmm, fair point," he said.

Silence for a few seconds.

"See what I did there?" I asked.

He looked at me, confused, then suddenly smiled and gave me a slow golf clap.

Overheard by DQ Reader My Wife

"The font looks like it's from New York. I've never been to New York, but that's what it looks like."

Friday, January 12, 2018

Friday Links!

Straight out of McDonald's, it's Friday Links!

From Matt Kreuch, a performance study on Cristiano Ronaldo: Tested to the Limit.

From C. Lee, and this is fascinating: Inside the Story of America’s 19th-Century Opiate Addiction. Come on, man! Someone stole a piece of China’s new solar panel-paved road less than a week after it opened. This is awesome: Elderly couple show off Dance Dance Revolution skills at Japanese video game arcade. This is extremely well-written: Spectre and Meltdown: Insecurity at the heart of modern CPU design.

From Wally, and faster sand bagging, surprisingly, is very interesting: Sand Master - why you want the right tool for the job. This is incredible: World's Best Jump Roper - Hawaii Style in 8K. These are beautiful: Puerto Rico Sketchbook: The Elders of the Island.

From Steven Davis, and this story is so outrageous that I'm leaving the headline in all-caps (really, I'm just lazy): HOW A DORM ROOM MINECRAFT SCAM BROUGHT DOWN THE INTERNET.

From Leo Moyer, and it's an excellent hypothetical: What would happen if a baseball game went 50 innings?

From Roger Robar, and this is a full links post all on its own: io9's Top 50 Science, History, and Space Articles of the Last 10 Years.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

MIM (part two)

More images from MIM. People make music all over the world in all kinds of different ways.

Prima balalaika (plucked lute)
St. Petersburg, 1924-1991

Decoration depicts skomorkhi, comic minstrels who mocked the tsar and church and were banned in the 17th c. by Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich Romanov. 

Skaltrumma (kettledrum)
North Sami People, Vilhelmina, 2008
The drawings represent a map of worlds through which the shaman moves, guided by a "pointer" placed on the drum's top. 

I know you've all been waiting for this:

Gajdy (bagpipe)
Turicky, Banska Bystrica Region, 2008
Goat pelt, maple and rosewood, aluminum, animal horn

Elong (gourd-resonated xylophone)
Lobi people, mid-20th c.
Wood, gourds, animal skin, cord, paper, spider-egg casings.

Lawn chair or musical instrument? You decide.

Out of respect for Cesar Evoria, the Cape Verde display.

The best known genre is morna, with slow, melancholy songs often accompanied by the cavaquinho  lute. 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

MIM (part one)

The Anaheim game in Phoenix wasn't until 8 p.m., so we had an entire day to fill.

I didn't want to do much. I have very low ambitions on hockey trips--sleep, eat, get to the rink on time. So I looked on Google Maps and strategically found a museum only a mile from our hotel.

That felt like a win.

I had ultra-low expectations for the Musical Instrument Museum, and I've never been more surprised, because it was exceptional.

This is a stary harp (click to enlarge--it's beautiful):

From here on, I have descriptions of everything. Here's the description of the next photo:
Designed by Swedish immigrant Henry Konrad Sandell, the Violano Virtuoso is a coin-operated mechanical violin and piano...Various models of the violano were in production from 1905 to 1930, and they were popular in cafes, bars and ice cream parlors.

Ever wonder how they manufactured piano rolls?
A skilled arranger first punches a master roll on an Arranging Piano.

Each piano key triggers it's corresponding punch in teh attached Primary Master Perforator. The arranger presses the desired keys and then a foot pedal to advance the master roll, one punch-row at a time.

Note: there's a piano attached for the Arranging Piano to work, but it's not in this photo.

Beginning in the 1870s, player trumpets like this were sold in the United States as "phonographic cornets" and "trumpettos".

Since I love lutes in games (and really love playing a bard), I was on lute lookout. This is a Pipa, a plucked lute from China.

As elite warriors, artists, and intellectuals, samurai embodied Japan's spirituality and culture. Yet during the seventeenth century, under the rule of military governors known as the shogunate, samurai gradually lost their military function and found themselves without purpose. 

Unable to fight, many former samurai became wandering komusō monks. Members of the Fuke sect of Zen Buddhism, komusō  were "priests of emptiness and nothingness." 

While playing shakuhachi, komusō  wore large, woven baskets called tengai over their heads to symbolize their detachment from the modern world.

The museum has so many different exhibits (most of them arranged geographically), that what you might see in a fifteen second span will make your head spin.

Shark rattle
Palau, 2008
Coconut shells, bamboo, rubber

The coconut shells vibrate when pulled through the water, attracting sharks who mistake the sound for a school of fish surfacing. 

More tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Nature Tuesday

Mostly chaos here today, but here are two amazing things.

The first is that it snowed in the Sahara last week.

(image credit Zinnedine Hashas)

More images here: PHOTOS: The Sahara Desert, Painted White With Snow.

For a place that gets six inches of precipitation with an average January low temperature of 54F, that's incredible. The only other time there was recorded snowfall was in 1979. Ever.

Second amazing thing: brumation.

Story: How do alligators survive the cold? It’s a pretty unique solution.

Alligators in North Carolina are dealing with the freezing temperatures by sticking their noses up through the ice to breathe.

According to George Howard, the general manager at Shallotte River Swamp Park in Ocean Isle Beach, the gators, including the 12 rescued at the park, stick their noses up through the ice to breathe, then they hibernate.

Howard said technically the American alligators’ form of hibernation is called brumation. He said they lower their body temperature and metabolism so they can survive.

“They poke their noses up and are able to breathe and be perfectly fine, so they’re doing this as a mechanism so that if it freezes over, they can still breath,” Howard said. “(It’s) just an absolute amazing survival technique and these guys were built tough millions of years ago and they remain tough today.”

According to Howard, this is completely normal as a survival mechanism for alligators.

Monday, January 08, 2018

Phoenix: part three (revision)

When I first wrote Thursday's post and got to the ending, something was missing.

Eli 16.5 said something to me, the first thing he said, and I'd forgotten it.

I remembered this morning, though.

The first thing he said to me was "I stretched every night for a year to make that one save", and if you watched the save reel, you'll know which one he's talking about.

I updated the post from last week.

Lee Gaiteri on /r/Fantasy Today!

From Lee, author of Below (which is fantastic):
In case you or any DQ readers are interested, I signed up a couple months ago to be a writer of the day on /r/Fantasy and that'll finally come on Monday the 8th. It's basically like a mini-AMA.

Friday, January 05, 2018

Friday Links!

Light for the New Year, as usual, but some interesting reading.

From Wally, and this is fascinating: A decade on, Shonan surfer is still making waves in the world of soba. Next, and this is interesting, it's Purple Mike Wazowski? ‘Toys in the Hood?’ See Some of Pixar’s Wildest Scrapped Ideas. Very, very clever: Beefbot: your robotic grillmaster. This is amazing: The Link Between Japanese Samurai and Real Indigo.

From C. Lee, and this is encouraging: Do-it-yourself science is taking off. From C. Lee, and this is intriguing: A popular sugar additive may have fueled the spread of not one but two superbugs.

Well, this is really something: The Man who Fought with a Longbow and a Sword in WWII.

From Chris Meadowcroft, and this is terrific: Math theorem: the most misshapen ham sandwich can always be cut into two perfect halves.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Phoenix (part three)

Well, I thought he was ready.

Eli 16.5 had put in consistent, solid work. He was still progressing at a rapid rate, even during the season.

He had a quality.

Still, though, this was against the best team in the country. Three years ago, he was playing "B" in Texas.

It was a lot to expect of anyone.

What a moment for him, though. Dr. Seuss said it best, I think: oh, the places you'll go!

This was a big game, but at the same time, it needed to be a regular game. I wasn't going to see him, so I texted him this:
You're the best athlete. You've overcome 
more than anyone else to get here. You 
have the certainty of years of hard work. 
You shouldn't be nervous when you 
skate out tonight--you should be inspired. 
We both know that you'll play on much 
bigger stages than this one day, but this 
is still a really nice moment. 
Be happy and have fun. 

And his three keys (which he doesn't even need anymore, but we both still like doing it) in a separate text:
Three keys:
--Control the puck
--Expect quick shots around screens
--Play certain and with power

Love you, buddy!

The "play certain and with power" was the most important. When he does that, he looks like a goalie who still has a long way to go before he hangs up his skates.

I'd like to give you a dramatic retelling of the game, but there weren't enough twists and turns for that. The #1 team was incredibly skilled and very fast, and we were on our heels the entire game,  fighting to survive.

Eli, though, wasn't on his heels.

It was a culmination of so many hours and so many miles, with so many more to come.

31 shots. 29 saves. A few that stunned me.

The save reel (including the two goals):

We couldn't score, but we never backed down, either. It was a 2-0 loss, but everyone gave everything they had, and no one could ask for more than that.

Eli came through the lobby after the game. I hugged him, and smiling, he said, "I stretched every night for a year to make that save."

Then he went to the bus.

There was nothing more he needed to say.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Phoenix (part two)

I forgot to include this photo yesterday. Here's what we left behind in Grand Rapids (taken at the airport):


Hello, Phoenix!

I also forgot to mention that I had a sudden realization after we landed (listening to airport music): "The Twelve Day of Christmas" is basically the holiday version of "Ninety-Nine Bottles of Beer on the Wall".

All right, back to the story.

The theme for this trip was space, at least for me.

This was the first trip that Eli 16.5 was traveling with his team. Flew together. Stayed in the hotel together.

That meant no coordinating meals. No arriving 90 minutes early at the rink before games. No planning bedtimes.

Just show up and watch.

It also meant that Gloria and I could go to dinner at some cute little tourist trap area, like this.

Ah, palm trees. I do miss palm trees.

I don't miss being cold, though, and I was still cold in Phoenix. All weekend. I'd packed a little less warm clothing than usual, and the rinks were bitterly cold. I'd left behind my heaviest winter jacket (come on, it was Phoenix!), and boy, I could have used it in those rinks.

Always one layer short. Mistakes were made.

For Eli's team, this entire weekend, seemingly, hinged on the first game. It was against a team they should beat, based on rankings, and if they won the game, they would be almost assured of going at least 3-1 for the weekend.

And if the loss was to the #1 team in the country, well, that would still be a solid weekend. 

Except it wasn't. They played maybe their worst game of the season in the first game, lost 4-0, and everything was quickly in a shambles. 

Eli was in net, and it was 2-0 with five minutes left, but we just couldn't score. It was a six period scoreless streak for the team, and suddenly, instead of finishing, we were flailing. 

The next game was better--we had the puck for 80% of the game--but still, scoring was brutally tough. The final score was 2-1, but with 35 shots, there should have been less trauma and drama. 

So the team was 1-1, with an overly tough win and a very bad loss, and next up was a team that was 28-2 and had scored 55 goals in its last 10 games. 


Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Phoenix (part one)

In the upper left of the display, please note the 5F outside temp. That was the temperature in Grand Rapids when we reached the airport. On our horizon? Phoenix, where it was 65F and would be for all four days we were there.

Thank you, hockey.

This was a big showcase, and Eli 16.5s team would be playing the #1 team in the country. We'll get to that.

In the meantime, though, please enjoy Tangent Town.

We stopped at a Starbucks in the airport so Gloria could get some overpriced coffee, and I purchased a slice of banana bread. The clerk (bread artisan? Giver of grains?) picked up a piece of banana bread in a plastic, sealed bag.

Baked fresh on-site? Um, no. Probably shipped in from Banana Bread Town in China.

On the plus side, a sealed package was perfect for a plane flight. Very nice.

So, of course, he proceeded to take the bread out of the plastic bag and slipped it into a Starbucks paper bag, ostensibly to fool no one about where the bread came from. Plus that bag would have soaked through butter stains on it in minutes.

"Clearly, this is the most Starbucks moment ever," I said.

Also in the airport, I found the hot book that everyone is just dying to read:

Oh, yeah. Hell of a page turner.

We were on the same flight as the team, with the highlight being that some guy ran down the aisle past us and threw up.

On Eli.

Partially, at least. So there's another glamorous moment in air travel.

Over the next few days (and this might go all the way into early next week), I will try to answer the following question: how did we go from this (a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single dragon)

to this (not one piece of matching gear)

and finally, to this?

With hopefully many more "to this" in the future.

Monday, January 01, 2018

These are a few of my favorite things

Sorry, one day delay on the hockey story. This is a top ten list, but it's a top ten of everything from 2017.

1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch, Wii U)
As close to perfect as any open world game I've ever played, bursting with personality and color. I didn't even finish it (I was around the 70 hour mark), and it didn't matter. It was all wondderful.

2. Super Mario Odyssey (Switch)
A very, very bold design, combined with a staggering amount of whimsy. Wildly funny, even silly, but in all the right ways.

3. Golf Story (Switch)
An indie game with a small team and smaller budget, and it was fantastic. A golf RPG? Yes, and jammed full of personality. I only wish there was DLC with more courses.

4. For The King (PC, Early Access on Steam)
Here's a description from the Steam page: "For The King is a strategic RPG that blends tabletop and roguelike elements in a challenging adventure that spans the realms." I can add to that the following: incredibly charming, a genuinely fun battle system, bards, lutes, and a lore system that unlocks characters and items to discover in your next playthrough. 

This is still in Early Access, but it was unquestionably the best PC game I played last year. 

5. The First Half of Baby Driver
The most perfect half a movie that I've ever seen, it was absolutely exhilarating. The second half was so much weaker, and very disappointing, but I can spare you all that. When you see pizza, that's when the movie should end, and up to that point, it's almost perfect.

6. Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon Video)
A brilliantly funny series starring a housewife who becomes a foul-mouthed comedian, written by Amy Sherman-Palladino (Gilmore Girls). It's razor sharp, unbearably witty, and full of top-level character actors who are clearly enjoying their roles.

7. Below
This was my favorite book of the year, and it was written by DQ reader Lee Gaiteri. Here's a description: "Everyone knows the late wizard Visak left his fortune hidden in the vast underground ruins of the Elder Kingdom, safer than any bank. Brenish, a mediocre highwayman but a brilliant liar, always dreamed of finding riches in the deeps himself. Since his fascination has earned him a reputation as a lore master, he's the perfect man to sell a forger's masterpiece: the wizard's lost treasure map."

The writing is taut and disciplined, the world is vivid, and the characters are so well-drawn. This is a terrific, fun read.

8. The Deuce
A new HBO series set in 1970s New York City about the rise of the p*rn industry. Graphic and unapologetic, it features mesmerizing performances from both Maggie Gyllenhaall and James Franco. 1970s style and music also co-star, and it's an irresistible combination. I don't think this is a great show--not yet--but it's incredibly entertaining.

9. Golf Club 2
This is, unquestionably, the best golf game I've ever played, and I've played them all. Superb mouse swing, an enormous variety of beautiful, user-created courses, and an excellent simulation of golf overall. Putting is difficult (but not unfair), and I'd like to see a wider variety of elevations on the courses, but this is a fantastic golf experience.

10. Snowshoes
A bit of a surprise, but as it turns out, I really enjoy snowshoeing.

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