Saturday, March 31, 2007

Game Chef Status Update

Hooray! I have my first draft of my entry done, with just under 24 hours left until the final deadline. Plenty of time for revisions, layout, and feedback.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

MyStalk, a place for fiends

Today's title is inspired by this t-shirt, which still makes me grin. (This doesn't really count as shilling, incidentally. It's just context.)

Okay, yes, I broke down and did the MySpace thing. I can't even recall why- I suspect that someone had some content I wanted to look at and Bugmenot wasn't helpful.

While at the Nicks' place doing playtesting, MySpace came up and Nick (not Nick, but Nick) wanted to add me to his friend list. I'm not entirely sure why- I know that I only have an account really as a placeholder to point people to me, not as an active social networking venue. Yes, it would be nice if social networking really worked, but I think right now the notion needs some more evolution in the real world. At least people are used to it these days.

But social networking definitely can be abused, as evidenced by multiple "Candy wants to be your friend!" "Alexis wants to be your friend!" "Siobhan wants to be your friend!" "Heike V. Greenwood wants to be your friend!", and they all have the same cropped camwhore picture and color text to get you to clicky their linky. Nick's hilarious quote: "The porn bots are getting lazy."

I personally don't need MySpace or Friendster or Orkut or whatever. If you need to find me on teh internets, I leave big fat digital footprints as a consequence of my unique name. Joe Bag-of-Donuts or J. Random Coed probably do.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Beauty in chaos

Watch the 1K Project 2. Safe for work, make sure your sound is on to catch the music, less than five minutes.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Didj images, sounds, and physics

Once again, the stars were in alignment and the didj group met this last Sunday.

We had a really good turnout, with seven people showing (plus kids), not counting the random passers-by and parkgoers asking about our sounds. Robert, Ron, Jessie and Jason, Jon and Alyssa, and myself all made appearances over the course of the afternoon. All told, I'd say we had more than a dozen sticks of varying quality. The first pic at the top (courtesy William Gibson of Wild Imagination Films) of this article is a very very nice aspen stick from Hicks Sticks. I've got to get me one, and I'd really love to play along with this particular instrument, as it is just a hair out of sync with my Rob Thomas black resin didj. There's a marvelous deep pulsing bass beat when the two instruments are played simultaneously.

Jon brought a handful of didjes:

Jon gives my Mindblower a whirl:

I like the composition of this one, Ron playing Omid's impressively large loaner didj. I don't recall the name of the parkgoer in black.

Another artistic shot, showing Ron's clapsticks.

Jessie's son kept trying to play. That's not a horse in the background, but a Great Dane.

Some YouTube delight:

This was a great improv jam session between myself and Ron, who is really quite skilled and makes me look good. Most of the sound you'll hear is his louder stalk, as I'm playing more as a backbeat or rhythm.

Direct link to video.

Here's a shorter clip I took of Robert and Ron on the famous forked didj. I wish that I had better sound on this, plus I don't know why YouTube wants to display this landscape and not portrait. Sorry, folks.
Direct link to video.

Why do they sound so good? Ask the physicists.

BGG.Con 2007!

Hooray! Registration for BoardGameGeek.Con 2007 is now open! Last year was a great convention for boardgaming, and definitely one worth attending in the years to come. Space is pretty limited, maxing out at 500 or so. Get in while the getting's good!

A few thoughts on food, part 2: the Revenge

You've probably heard the old expression, "There's no such thing as bad publicity." Maybe it's true. When you say something a little foolish, it doesn't feel as though it's true.

I made an inflammatory statement over the weekend about the relative intelligence of vegetarians. Let's not mince words: I called vegetarians, carnivores, and vegans dumb — which I'll admit is a poor choice of expression. Corvus and Russ' comments on that entry made me strongly reconsider my words. I wrote without considering my words and my audience. Not smart on my part, period.

When I stopped to think about it, I let my mind wander over the people I know who eat different, and why, and I read my words as though I was in their shoes. I know a guy who's a vegetarian for religious reasons. I knew a guy back in high school who was politically vegan and needed to take vitamin supplements due to his chosen diet. My mom doesn't like to eat "anything with a face," which means that chickens and fish are fair game (pardon the pun) to her. I know a guy who lives on hamburgers and potatoes and hates green things. I know different meat-eaters who only eat their beef rare or well-done, both ends of the spectrum. I know people who won't eat certain kinds meat on certain days out of the year. I know a woman who cuts out sugar for health reasons, and I know a man who changed his diet after a gall bladder operation. I know someone who doesn't like bell pepper because "they don't like me!" Are they reading this, but keeping silent? I hope not.

When I saw the first comment, I admit that I had briefly considered the option of deleting my previous post or softening the tone of my remarks. This is teh internets, right? Any electronic information can be readily changed with ease, and it's not unheard of for bloggers or news agencies or corporations or popular websites to enact revisionist electronic history. Bah and humbug, say I! That's no way to run a community, even one so tiny as this. People don't always realize just how much an effect they have on others, and I'd like to not waste this mistake. Learn from your mistakes, lest you have to repeat them. Russ and Corvus don't know me very well, and they misread my intentions. What about the rest of the world, who know me even less well, or not at all? I'd rather this response speak to my character than sweeping it under the rug. Even so, I will update the previous post to point to this one.

Let me also explicitly say a few more things in direct response to Corvus and to Russ- I don't like to comment on my own blog and I'd now rather have this post above the fold. Firstly, I'm going to steal the phrase "meddlesome idiot," and make use of it the next opportunity I can- thanks for the addition to my lexicon! Secondly, yes, the food industry is totally out of whack given the number of people we have on the planet, who all must eat. I wish there was a more efficient way to distribute higher quality food to everyone who needs it. In my heart of hearts, I know that we need genetically modified higher-yield crops unencumbered by patent law or interspecies havoc, or space-age artificial foods like the fungus-based (and tasty) Quorn or textured soy protein or vat-grown animal protein, or gene therapy to eradicate lactose intolerance. Maybe I read too much science fiction, but I really think we-as-a-species need to start thinking more long-term. Thirdly, I haven't heard from any meat-eaters about being labeled "dumb," and I wonder why. Fourthly, I still believe that the human animal has adapted to eating meat and vegetables based on my incomplete understanding of our gut and our teeth- but we're more than just animals, hence the importance of our ability to (more-or-less) rationally choose what we eat. Biologically, meat is a pretty efficient source of protein. Logistically, and in this day and age and given population, too much meat's got issues. Lastly, I just got in an order of Vegemite. Anyone who doesn't like Vegemite is a meddling idiot! :) But seriously, I like eating the stuff. Go figure. I'm from New Orleans and I don't like seafood. Yes, that's a little weird in and of itself.

Thanks for reading, everyone. On a lighter note, I have some didj pictures and another video to post. Expect them up later this evening, unless my muse poops on my head and I'm inspired to write a roleplaying game.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

A few thoughts on food

Vegetarians and vegans are dumb. Then again, so are carnivores. People, please. We're omnivores. Look at our teeth — end of discussion.

Today, I ate a delicious black-and-blue burger, which is a hamburger patty that's been blackened on the grill with pepper and other spices then sprinkled with bleu cheese, plus garlic mashed potatoes and awesome spicy African peanut soup. (Pity nobody in fscking Austin knows how to cook a burger medium-rare.) Later in the day, I got a delicious vegetarian wrap: Brown rice, black beans, chili hummus, guacamole, roasted corn, roasted onions, and carrots. Both were tasty and hit the spot. Ah, but there's the rub- they both hit different spots. When I wanted meat and cheese, I had; when I wanted vegetables, I had.

Anyone who eats only vegetables or only meat is missing out. It's about balance and choice.

UPDATE: Please read my response to the comments on this article.

Ack! Game Chef!

The ingredients are live. Are you game?

Please forgive my irregular posting in the next two weeks; with any luck, I'll be glued to my laptop and over-caffeinated, writing like mad. Please keep your fingers crossed for me and my muse!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Game Chef 2007

Less than forty-eight short hours until this year's Game Chef!

If you're not familiar, the Game Chef competition is an intense challenge to create an entire roleplaying game from scratch in two weeks (this year, so much time!) based around a common set of limitations. This is obviously influenced more than a bit by the Iron Chef, where chefs create dishes that must incorporate certain ingredients, but the community owes a lot to NaNoWriMo or the twenty-four hour comic event.

It's about pushing yourself. I won in 2005, and was less than inspired in 2006. I work better under deadlines or external pressure, and I'm really looking forward for the opportunity to write, create, and compete again.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Garlic apropos

Courtesy of today's A.Word.A.Day:

Tomatoes and oregano make it Italian; wine and tarragon make it French. Sour cream makes it Russian; lemon and cinnamon make it Greek. Soy sauce makes it Chinese; garlic makes it good. -Alice May Brock, author (1941- )
According to Wikipedia, this is the eponymous Alice of Arlo Guthrie's Alice's Restaurant.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Forthcoming didj jam

The Austin Didjeridoo Group is going to get together next Sunday, March 18th, at the Bull Creek District Park. Our usual time is from noon until three or four.


Get to Highway 360 and the 2222. Drive north on 360, and make a right onto Lakewood, which should be the first light north of 2222. Drive down a twisty, possibly one-lane road and pass a place to park. Keep driving until you cross water- and I don't mean a bridge. On your left you'll see large rocks and a place to park. Park there. Once you park, you'll see the blue picnic tables just inside the park, unless some group beats us to the tables. You'll probably see and hear us!

Anyone is welcome to show up to listen, learn or play.

Weird news of the King

Elvis plus Finland plus Latin equals huh?

I use Gmail and love it. (If you need an invite because you're still using some archaic webmail service, shoot me a message.) I usually get my weird news via the Reuters "Oddly Enough" feed which shows up in my RSS clips in my email. This time, I got my weird news via A.Word.A.Day, which you really should subscribe to if you remotely care about language.

AWAD has a weekly theme for its words; this week was Latin-derived English words, prompting a subscriber to send in this weird little tidbit about Latin-speaking Finnish Elvis Fans. (Finns?)

Doesn't make sense, but you gotta love it.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Weight loss through video games

I swear I am not making this up. A guy lost nine pounds by playing thirty minutes of Wii Sports for six weeks and making no other changes in his lifestyle. How awesome is that?

Some of you might know that I'm losing weight by eating less and moving more, to steal a phrase from a vegetarian I know. I lost at least 5-10 pounds by switching to diet Dr Pepper, and more by cutting out mayonnaise and reducing my cheese intake. I've punched a third hole in my belt and am about to go down another pants size.

But back to games. Read the article- he has before and after pictures, and a lot of data about his health. The Rocky-esque montage of he training with the Wiimote is pretty amusing, too.

I'll probably pick Boxing back up. Tennis is my game of choice, hearkening back to yon days of Pong. Cat and I have started playing together, both competitively and cooperatively against the machine. Boy, do I want a widescreen TV.

Earlier this week, I saw a boxed Atari Pong set for sale in an antique store. How far we've come!

Monday, March 05, 2007

A second didj jam video

Robert sent me a second didj video and graciously allowed me to post it as well. That's Steve and me playing simultaneously, he on his agave and I on my eucalyptus.


Plain ol' link if the above doesn't work.

Man, there's nothing like jamming with someone, instead of alone or to a CD.

Time keeps on slipping, slipping

You may or may not know that the US Congress has passed a law changing Daylight Savings Time, giving us an extra month of DST this year. Update your computers, people. It starts on the 11th.

I don't really care how time is reckoned so long as there is some agreement about it, but I object to being told that I am saving daylight when my reason tells me that I am doing nothing of the kind. I even object to the implication that I am wasting something valuable if I stay in bed after the sun has risen. As an admirer of moonlight I resent the bossy insistence of those who want to reduce my time for enjoying it. At the back of the Daylight Saving scheme I detect the bony, blue-fingered hand of Puritanism, eager to push people into bed earlier, and get them up earlier, to make them healthy, wealthy and wise in spite of themselves.

-- Robertson Davies, The diary of Samuel Marchbanks, Clarke, Irwin (1947), XIX, Sunday
Give me back my moonlight!