Monthly Archives: September 2007

The Dark is Rising

I loved the Susan Cooper “Dark is Rising” series when I was growing up.  It went right up there with “The Chronicles of Prydain” and “The Chronicles of Narnia”.  I’m terribly afraid that I’ll be disappointed by this movie version of it though.


Posted by on September 26, 2007 in Entertainment


Life, Art, and Lucid Dreams

The XKCD comic “Dream Girl” references a time this weekend, at a park in North Cambridge, MA. I can’t make it, but I’d love to hear what happens from anyone who does go! The XKCD forums suggest that the original comic was actually altered to prompt this meeting.

(I learned of this from a Facebook group inviting people to show up at the park).


Posted by on September 21, 2007 in Alchemy, Garbage In, Garbage Out



I’m Impressed

NotesI don’t understand what the new They Might be Giants video for “I’m Impressed” is about, but it features bleeding robots, and that’s cool. Don’t miss the stop-motion stabbing at the end! (scroll down on the linked page to find the video player).

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Posted by on September 19, 2007 in Entertainment


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Ben Affleck Eat Your Heart Out

This is a bit old, but I just saw a great vid of a teenager who, after losing both eyes at 2 years old, has learned to “see” with his other senses. Can anyone identify the video game they show him playing? It looks like it might be a Dragon Ball Z fighter.

I’m waiting for the follow-up story about a girl who survived a near-death experience and then became an assassin who fights other assassins.

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Posted by on September 14, 2007 in Entertainment


Propects Look Bleak

Discussion of today’s XKCD comic in the XKCD forums led me to a calculation of the probability of finding a girlfriend written by Tristan Miller. The argument is a fun look at the mathematical basis for why coupling can be so hit-or-miss. Most of the steps in his argument make sense except the conclusion… I don’t think it’s correct to assume that it would take ~3400 blind dates to find a suitable mate, in the same way that it doesn’t take 365 random people to find two with the same birthday (please correct me if I’m wrong here).

Interlocked Hearts


Posted by on September 10, 2007 in Entertainment, Garbage In, Garbage Out



One Tat To Rule Them All

LOTR Tatoo

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Posted by on September 6, 2007 in Entertainment, Photos


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What’s That Dirt On Your Face?

Doombot’s link to the World Beard and Moustache Championships is a painful reminder of the fact that I cannot produce a continuously connected beard and moustache.   I assume this is the result of some genetic mutation caused by radiation exposure I experienced in the womb.

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Posted by on September 6, 2007 in Entertainment


They Look More Real When You Actually Inject the Ink Under The Skin

Today I:

  • Woke up early, got ready, and carefully applied a “Sauron’s Mask” temporary tatoo to my right arm.
  • Went to work to read, and then re-read, every XKCD comic.
  • After work, drove to Best Buy and picked up an XBOX 360 Elite with Gears of War.
  • Blogged about it all as soon as I could.

It’s nice to be embracing my element.


Posted by on September 5, 2007 in Entertainment, Garbage In, Garbage Out


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An Exclusive Society

After reading my recent PAX write-up, O’Foghlú asked whether I had “mile-high fragged” the Frag Doll candidate I met on my flight home. I would have liked to, but sadly I do not own a Nintendo DS.

This raises the question of whether mile-high fragging is safe or even legal. We’re not allowed to use cell-phones on planes in the U.S.; is there a similar ban on multiplayer wireless games (played with other passengers)? According to Nintendo’s DS FAQ,

Can I use the Nintendo DS onboard aircraft, in hospitals, or in airports if it’s not in wireless mode?

Operation of the Nintendo DS when it is NOT in wireless mode, may be allowed on aircraft, in hospitals, and in airports just like any other non-wireless device would be…

In order to comply with airline regulations, do not use PictoChat, or play the multiplayer modes of DS games while on board an airplane. Operation in these locations may interfere with or cause malfunctions of equipment, with resulting injuries to persons or damage to property.

So I think the answer is definetively ‘NO’, and the consequences of even a quickie mile-high frag could be disastorous. But that’s alright with me, because as Jason T points out, I’m more “the kind of guy to wait until the plane lands and then get a double frag in the airport bathroom.”

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Posted by on September 3, 2007 in Entertainment


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A Nice Streak

Running LogoThis summer, after fulfilling a pledge to run for 7 consecutive days, I went 68 days running every single day for at least 10 minutes. Then, while traveling in Washington D.C., I got sick and had to take several days off. After that I continued to run 5-6 days per week, and I felt great about it. The 68 day streak served as jump start into consistent training, taking me out of an nine-year-long pattern of running a few days one week, and then taking the next week off.

Now that I’m back home from my summer living at altitude, I’m trying to maintain whatever athletic benefit the persistent oxygen debt gave me. When I did my first run at sea-level, I felt like superman, bounding up and down the Seattle hills like a bunny rabbit on steroids. Things have slowed down a bit since then. Running hurts again. But I still recover from runs more rapidly now than I did over the summer. I’m going to spend the next few weeks trying to gradually increase my mileage and add more speed into my workouts.

In all, I ran 345 miles over the summer season (May-August), which is more than any summer since I was in high school.

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Posted by on September 3, 2007 in No Easy Days



What I Learned at PAX 2007

The ControllerI took an impromtu trip to the 2007 Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) last week with some friends from home. Geek oriented activities are fun, but I certainly am not an expert on evaluating their impact and/or awesomeness, so I can’t write an in-depth review of the activity. Rather, I’ll just relate my favorite lessons:

  • Will Wheaton, of “Stand By Me”, “Star Trek TNG”, and now PAX fame, gave the exciting and nostalgia-inducing keynote address. I think having a keynote address at all says something about how serious this event is. At times, between the keynote and the various panel discussions, it almost felt academic. Wheaton entertained from the beginning (“Jack Thomson can suck my balls”), but I got a bit antsy when he came out so vehmently against video-game violence legislation. In fact I agree with his position on the role of the parents and video games being about fun, but I still am undecided on what the government’s role should be.
  • I think I finally see the point of the Nintendo DS. My friend Bobby actually owns 3 Nintendo DS’es, and since that was my only pre-PAX exposure to the beast, I had a biased vision of the games system’s utility (“the Nintendo DS – a cool game system you can play anywhere with anyone, as long as one of you owns three of them!”). PAX made me realize the obvious point that I was missing; when nearly everyone around you has a DS, it becomes a social gaming experience even more fun than exchanging long protein strands!
  • Moving to graduate school put me in an unfamiliar social element where my peers have fiances, spouses, labor-intensive pets, and generally no interest in playing video games. Very few of my friends here are video gamers (there are a few who enjoy the board games, but they are rare, and they don’t take loosing well, so playing with me is out of the question). Living in such a game-stifled environment can lead one to crazy conclusions about the world of gaming (see the point about the Nintendo DS above). PAX reminded me that there are others out there like me.
  • I watch games like Battlefield and Bioshock and I think that modern gaming is just too complicated for me, that maybe I should just disconnect my internet and limit myself to games that involve bouncy balls and sticks. Do you have to grow up with these games to enjoy them? I can barely handle Guild Wars, and the 13-year-olds I play with regularly berate me for my slug-like reflexes and inability to type using foul language.
  • Jon Coulton is awesome. wow. I wasn’t expecting this, but I fell in love with this guy from the get-go. John, will you marry me? It certainly doesn’t hurt that he lists They Might Be Giants first in his list of influences.
  • Vertigo stinks. I get motion sickness when playing first-person-shooter (FPS) games… enough that I stopped playing them years ago. But I decided to see if maybe I grew out of it at the PAX PC freeplay in a friendly (read as “deathmatch”) game of Battlefield 2142. I think the motion sickness has actually gotten worse since I stopped playing Halflife nine years ago. Does anyone have any advice to help with this? As background information, I don’t get sick in cars, planes, boats, or other vehicles. Also, third person games don’t make me sick, and I do not recall having trouble with the original version of Doom or Marathon on my Macintosh in high school.
  • Mike Krahulik (“Gabe”) and Jerry Holkins (“Tycho”) of Penny Arcade are funny. They have a nice way of dealing with fans and making the audience feel at home.
  • Suckupery is rampant. Gabe and Tycho have a super fervent fan base. That’s awesome. It bothers me a bit, however, to hear a 12 year old boy refer to one of them as a god (strictly speaking, he was referring to Jerry Holkin’s writing skills as being godlike).
  • Being a super girl gamer is rough. On the plane ride home I was serendipidously seated beside one of the contestants for the Frag Dolls “Casting Call” contest, where 8 girls competed to become the next Frag Doll. The contestant I met said that they had spent the whole weekend being media monkeys for Ubisoft, and that it was hard to actually enjoy the expo with that non-stop time-commitment and pressure.
  • Rock Band is incredible. I will pay any price for this game.

I had an excellent time, and I’d love to go again next year.

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Posted by on September 1, 2007 in Entertainment


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