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|Thursday, September 4th, 2014|
|Sunday, August 3rd, 2014|
|My heart is a flower
A few months ago, my Uncle Dick died suddenly
at age 63. He was always the picture of health, a lifelong vegetarian and an almost stereotypical "health nut". The coroner's report
said that his death was partially caused by a "congenital bicuspid aortic valve
", which often goes undiagnosed, so it seems likely that he was unaware of this condition. It also turns out to be "highly heritable"
, so I figured it was a great idea for me to get examined to see whether I had the condition also...
Well, good news! My doctor reported that my echocardiogram "looked fine", and that "the aortic valve is trileaflet". He also mentioned "Color Doppler is suggestive of PFO/tiny ASD with left to right shunt." I had to look up PFO (Patent Foramen Ovale)
but it appears to be... mostly harmless? I asked him to confirm, and he explained: "These tiny abnormalities are seen in the general population and are not of clinical concern. You should be fine."
So, that's one less thing to worry about.
|Thursday, June 12th, 2014|
|ShuffleComp 2014 - Part 1
Back in March, maga_dogg
, a competition for writing interactive fiction inspired by a song. The premise was simple:
- Submit 8 songs and 8 pseudonyms.
- Receive a random list of 8 songs and 8 pseudonyms dealt out from the submission pool.
- Write an IF game inspired by one of the songs, under one of the pseudonyms.
- Play other people's stories and vote for the ones you like.
- Once the comp is over, the top 30% vote getters are announced as Commended entries.
When I heard about the comp, I thought it sounded like a neat idea, but I felt I had no time to write a game by the deadline—at the time I was in the middle of both Puzzle Boat 2
solving and DASH 6
planning, and I had been itching to get back to some of my many back-burnered projects, including revising my IFcomp entry from 2011
! Plus, that IFcomp game had ended up being way more work than I had anticipated, and I was not really satisfied with the result (nor were the comp voters, who placed it 25th out of 38). Did I really want to commit to making another game on a deadline? I chatted with prog
about ShuffleComp at a party shortly afterward and it turned out he had gone through exactly the same thought process. Ah well, we both figured... maybe next time.
The more I thought about it, though, the more I really wanted to submit some songs to see what people could do with them. I started brainstorming about songs that could make good IF games, and almost immediately I remembered two songs that I've always thought of as great examples of songs that told a narrative story (a sadly under-populated category). I couldn't resist putting together a list, and then I figured, if I submitted a list of songs and thus committed to writing a game, in the worst case I could always just spend a day or two to scribble out a really short choose-your-own-adventure or hypertext game, using ChoiceScript
. Much easier than wrestling with Inform 7
So here's the list of songs I ended up submitting:( Read more...Collapse )
So there was that! I had submitted my lists and committed to making a game based on someone else's submission; now I just had to wait for all the lists to be shuffled up and sent back out. In the meantime, I discovered that prog
had, again, gone through exactly the same thought process as I had and also ended up submitting his own lists and committing to making some semblance of a game.
This seems like a good time to pause. Stay tuned for Part 2, where I receive my assignments and somehow manage to come up with and (spoiler!) finish making a game.
|Monday, December 30th, 2013|
|Over the Hill and On Stage
Here are some of the bands I saw live in concert in 2013
, with the year they were first active:
Mouse on Mars (1993)
Ghost Box Orchestra (members of Lockgroove (1996))
Glenn Jones (1985)
Robert Fripp's Orchestra of Crafty Guitarists (1967)
Man or Astro-Man? (1993)
Big Country (1981)
Dick Dale (1959)
Adam Ant (1976)
The Cult (1983)
Peter Hook and The Light (1976)
Girls Against Boys (1988) (with special guest David Yow (1982))
Nine Inch Nails (1988)
Godspeed You! Black Emperor (1994)
Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson (1967)
Nik Turner's Hawkwind (1969)
The Dickies (1977)
Octa#grape (members of Trumans Water (1991) and Olivelawn (1990))
My Bloody Valentine (1983)
Flamin' Groovies (1965)
Queens of the Stone Age (1996) (members of Kyuss (1987))
Here are some bands I had the chance to see in 2013 but I didn't end up going:
New Order (1980)
The Breeders (1990)
Dinosaur Jr. (1984)
Simple Minds (1977)
Black Sabbath (1968)
The Feelies (1976)
The English Beat (1978)
Monster Magnet (1989)
The Flaming Lips (1983)
The Rolling Stones (1962)
Paul McCartney (1957)
The Psychedelic Furs (1977)
The Zombies (1962)
Yo La Tengo (1984)
Belle and Sebastian (1996)
The Orb (1988)
Elton John (1964)
In other words, I saw tons and tons of 40-somethings, 50-somethings, 60-somethings, and even 70-somethings! This was the year of the old fogies.
I did see some good younger bands too: Tame Impala, Metz, Junip, MGMT. But I'm definitely feeling out of touch with what cool music the kids are making these days. Any pointers? Current Mood: old
|Saturday, December 21st, 2013|
|My car is old enough to drink
I bought my car in December 1992. It is now 21 years old: finally old enough to drink! Yeah, cars shouldn't drink and drive, but I think it's pretty safe since I don't drive it much anymore anyway.
I know I've taken pictures of my car, but I can't find any at the moment. Serves me right for not using tags on Flickr. And it's currently still covered in snow so you can't see much of it.
Anyway, happy birthday, car! We've been through a lot together. Maybe in another 21 years I'll name you.Edit:
Oh hey, just found a covered-in-snow pic from last winter:
|Tuesday, October 8th, 2013|
|The Pittsburgh Pirates
In December 1978, I watched my first NFL football game on TV: a playoff game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Denver Broncos. The Steelers won convincingly, 33-10; Franco Harris scored two rushing touchdowns, and Terry Bradshaw threw two touchdowns, one each to Lynn Swann and John Stallworth. (All four of them, along with five others on that team, were eventually inducted into the Hall of Fame.) I was 8 years old; I liked their flamboyancy and their colors (black and gold), and I became a fan. They went on to win the Super Bowl over the Dallas Cowboys that season ("still widely regarded as one of the greatest Super Bowl games ever played," according to Wikipedia), and I learned the joy of rooting for a winning team.
In April 1979, baseball season started, and I discovered that the Pittsburgh Pirates also had black-and-gold uniforms, so I decided to become a fan of theirs too. They turned out to be just as flamboyant: Willie Stargell's windmill wind-up, Kent Tekulve's "submarine" side-arm, Phil Garner's mustache. In one game, an opposing pitcher tried to intentionally walk Dave Parker (professional sports' first $1-million/year player), but Parker got mad, stepped over the plate, swung and hit the ball into the outfield. The team theme song was the Sisters Sledge's disco classic "We Are Family", which played at every home game. They led the National League with 98 wins, and came from being down 3 games to 1 to win the World Series over Earl Weaver's Baltimore Orioles.
The Steelers won the Super Bowl again the next year, their fourth of the decade. But the next decade, the '80s, were a bad time to be a Pittsburgh fan, as the Steelers sank into mediocrity and the Pirates became the worst team in baseball. As the '90s began, though, Mario Lemieux lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a couple of Stanley Cups, Bill Cowher arrived to coach the Steelers to six consecutive playoff seasons, and the "outfield of dreams" (Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonilla, and Andy van Slyke) brought the Pirates three division titles. In the bottom of the 9th inning of the 1992 League Championship Series against the Atlanta Braves, Sid Bream, who had just left the Pirates as a free agent two years earlier, loped in from second base (Bream "was known as an unusually slow runner" according to Wikipedia) to just barely beat Bonds's throw to win the game and end the Pirates' season.
In the 2000s, the Penguins won a third Stanley Cup. The Steelers won two more Super Bowls and cemented the best record in the NFL since 1970. But after 1992 the Pittsburgh Pirates went on to have 20 straight losing seasons, the longest such streak in North American professional sports history. I still followed baseball for a while, through the steroid-laden late '90s/'00s, as Barry Bonds broke the single-season and career home run records with the SF Giants, and the Boston Red Sox "reversed the curse" and ended their own legendary 86-year streak and won the World Series (the New England Patriots having won the Super Bowl earlier that year, Boston became the first city to have simultaneous baseball and football champs since... Pittsburgh in 1979). But the days of rooting for the Pirates in the postseason were long-gone fond memories, and I haven't really paid attention to any sports at all in the past four or five years.
Maybe you can see where this is going... Last Tuesday, Oct 1st, we were at the Middle East club to see the indie rock band Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, and there was a baseball game on the TV behind the bar. When I noticed it was a Pirates game, I figured something unusual was happening—why would they be on TV in an American League city at the end of the season? It turned out to be the Wild Card game, and the Pirates beat the Cincinnati Reds to get into the playoffs!
Right now, the Pirates are tied with the St. Louis Cardinals in the Division Series at 2 games apiece. The Red Sox are ahead 2-1 in their series with the Tampa Bay Rays. There's an outside chance that the Pirates could play the Red Sox in the World Series. I might just have to re-subscribe to cable TV...
|Thursday, July 18th, 2013|
I'm on vacation on Sodus Bay in upstate New York; my phone (T-Mobile) only has 2G connectivity (i.e. feels like a 1200 baud modem), whereas Norah's phone (Sprint) has full 3G. This is dumb! Why can't my phone just connect to whatever the fastest network around is? Someone should work on that.
Posted via LjBeetle
|Saturday, June 22nd, 2013|
|Google Reader is dead; long live Feedly?
On March 13, Google announced they were shutting down Google Reader on July 1
. It was hidden as the fifth entry in a laundry list of things they were closing down; unlike most of the other bullets in that list, they did not offer any suggestion for an alternative service to use, instead just mentioning that you could extract your Google Reader data via Google Takeout (which is basically like evicting you by dumping all your belongings out a third story window onto the street below).
Several others feed readers started working on (or accelerating work on) services to migrate your data from Google Reader. I looked into Newsblur
, The Old Reader
, and Hive (nee HiveMined)
, but I eventually settled on Feedly
I'll admit that I didn't do an exhaustive study of these (and there are probably lots of others that I didn't even try), but Feedly feels like the best replacement for what I want out of a feed reader, and specifically for what I want out of a transition from Google Reader. I was most concerned about losing all my Starred Items, because it seemed like none of the new readers had the ability to import them—or would only import the URLs, instead of the cached full articles, which was important because some of mine are over four years old and no longer exist at their original URLs. Once I noticed that Feedly had in fact kept the entire set of articles intact, I felt safe committing to the switch. Also, both the Chrome extension
and the Android app
have the basic features that I want: compact view, oldest-first sorting, keep unread, save for later.
Unfortunately there doesn't yet seem to be a good export capability from Feedly (ironically). I'm just going to have to cross my fingers and hope that they add this before they go under, or get bought by Google and shut down, or whatever fate is eventually in store for them...
|Sunday, April 28th, 2013|
|Heading to Portland, OR this week
I'm flying out to Portland, OR today for RailsConf
this week. The conference runs through Thursday but I'll be there until Sunday morning. Portlanders, let me know if you want to hang out! And/or let me know if there's anything cool going on (concerts, etc).
|Tuesday, March 19th, 2013|
I'm trying out Android Letterpress clones, Spell Strike and Glibber. Anyone want to play me? I'm dougo on both. (Are there better ones?)
Posted via LjBeetle
|Saturday, November 17th, 2012|
The oldest survivng copy of Euclid's Elements
dates from the ninth century, a thousand years after it was written.
Posted via LjBeetle
|Friday, August 10th, 2012|
|Charles Schwab Is Clueless About Security
You know, Charles Schwab should not even have my plaintext password in their database, let alone print it on a piece of paper and send it to me through the mail
! I feel like I should report this to someone, but whom? Better Business Bureau?
|Saturday, August 4th, 2012|
|Quick trip to NYC
I'm going down to Manhattan tomorrow to see The Zombies
—yes, that Zombies
!—and I'm looking for hotel recommendations, preferably somewhere between Penn Station and the Highline Ballroom (Chelsea/Meatpacking district). It doesn't need to be super-cheap, just not unreasonable. And, air-conditioned and bedbugless!
Also, anyone want to go with me? Norah is visiting family in upstate NY so can't go.
|Monday, July 9th, 2012|
I've been putting off posting about my Tumblr
because I was planning to write up a post about how Google shut down my blog
but it may be a while before I get around to that post so in the meantime here's this post:
Hey, check out my Tumblr
! That's where I share cool stuff that I run across on the net. Still reserving this LiveJournal for original content. (And, yes, you can put scare quotes around both of those words.)
|Friday, May 18th, 2012|
, and it seems like a great team. I'm pretty excited.
I have one more week working at my current company, MCNA Dental. There had been many ups and downs since I started working there in December, but eventually it became clear to me that the reasons to leave were starting to outweigh the reasons to stay, and I started accepting calls from recruiters. At first I was just looking around to see what my options were, and there were several false starts, but after a couple months of "stealth" job search, I was lucky enough to get a few offers. It was a tough choice, but in the end the PayPal Boston opportunity felt like the best move for me.
They say that it's easier to find a job when you have a job, and I can see some reasons for that, but personally I found it very stressful. The tech job market is pretty hot right now, so I probably could have been more open about the fact that I was looking (or just outright quit), but I wanted to play it safe, which basically everyone I asked advised me to. I'm not sure I would advise the same.
|Tuesday, March 20th, 2012|
Lately I've been listening to music files on my computer sorted by album name. (No, I didn't start at A; I've been randomly skipping around from time to time.) This is essentially a random album shuffle, since album titles aren't particularly correlated with style or artist. But, over the last few days I've listened to:
Various Artists, Dope, Guns, 'n Fucking in the Streets
(3CD compilation of '90s Amphetamine Reptile
Monster Magnet, Dopes to Infinity
Electric Wizard, Dopethrone
It's been a nice stretch of mega-heavy rock. Right now I'm listening to Curve's Doppelgänger
, but next up is Hawkwind's Doremi Fasol Latido
, which fits in nicely as well.
|Sunday, February 26th, 2012|
|The walk to work; Art
I'm staying at a hotel that's a little less than a mile from work (on the northern outskirts of Fort Lauderdale), so I walk to the office most days. Here are some of the things I pass on the way, in order:
a Catholic church
a Microsoft office building
a large trailer park
a Jaguar dealership (I found a geocache near here)
an LA Fitness
a movie theater with 12 screens (dodecaplex?)
a seemingly defunct Mexican restaurant, with a large parking lot
the Xanadu Boutique For Sophisticated Adults
It's kind of a weird neighborhood.
Last weekend, I ended up randomly going to an open art studios event
with some coworkers, and of course it made me think cthulhia
would have loved it. I met and chatted with Sonia Baez-Hernandez
, whose works I quite enjoyed, particularly Marine Passion
and Enbodiment of Nails
. At home, I rarely get out to open studios or other art events, but here it felt like a little taste of home.
|Thursday, February 9th, 2012|
I'll be heading back to Fort Lauderdale for work this Sunday, for three weeks. Do I know anyone who will be in South Florida during that time (Feb 12–Mar 3)? (I doubt it, but I was wrong last time...)
|Wednesday, December 14th, 2011|
|Hello from Florida
I'm writing this from a hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Two weeks ago I would never have guessed that I'd be here now, but life is funny that way...
I had been nominally looking for a full-time job since October when I got back from my trip to Great Britain. I hadn't actually gotten around to applying for jobs; a few recruiter cold-calls had led to a few interviews last month, but nothing panned out. Then, the weekend before last, a friend and former co-worker, John Valente, got in touch asking if I was available for some work. Back in the summer, I had forwarded a job listing I saw on the Lisp Jobs blog
to him, because I knew he was looking (and we had both done Lisp at our previous job, Gensym). Well, they (MCNA Dental) had ended up hiring him, and now they were looking for more Lisp programmers—in particular, ones who also had some Ruby experience. And since I did a Ruby contract in summer 2010, John figured I'd be a good candidate.
After some discussion, I agreed that I'd be a good candidate too. They were willing to have me work remotely from Boston; we discussed working on a full-time contract basis, but it seemed better for both parties to have me work as a salaried employee. But they wanted me to come down to their HQ in Fort Lauderdale ASAP so that I could meet the team (including someone who was visiting from Germany for a week) and participate in some planning meetings. So, on Friday I received and accepted an offer by email, I flew down on Monday afternoon (did you know JetBlue has four daily non-stop flights from Boston to Fort Lauderdale?), and yesterday I showed up in the office for my first day of work. I'll be here for a couple weeks, flying back to Boston on Christmas Eve.
After two days, I'm starting to get a handle on the job. It's a bit of a fixer-upper, in that they have a lot of old Ruby code written 6+ years ago by an outsource team, and a lot of new Lisp code that isn't yet ready to replace the Ruby app. So I'll mostly be helping to get the Ruby code modernized and cleaned up to be maintainable, and then at some point move over to the Lisp team to help finish building the replacement system. It's an internal web app for managing dental insurance claims and providers, so nothing particularly sexy, but it'll be fun to be writing Ruby and Lisp code anyway.
It's all still a little surreal, though, to suddenly be in Florida in December with a full-time job. This weekend I'm planning to get some well-earned relaxation by playing some disc golf and then cooling off with a dip in the ocean. Happy Holidays...
|Monday, November 14th, 2011|
My niece, Harper Marie Griest, was born yesterday morning. Apparently it was a short and uncomplicated labor, and mother and baby are healthy and happy. I think Danielle was hoping for 11/11/11, but this way Harper will have some cool Friday the 13th birthday parties to look forward to.