Previously, in Trip's Life...

31 October 2010 - Sunday

Random Encounters: Ayse and Ken live in a place that gets zillions of trick-or-treaters. I was too lazy to get up and see the costumes, but I hear some of them were cute.

Gaming: No Thrace (does anyone even remember how to play this game?), but in honor of spookiness day we played Unspeakable Words. I was undefeated, 2-0! (Although the second game I won by getting really tiny words and waiting for people to go mad.) Marith got the Seven-Letter Word Award with "codeine" (we will not speak of Ken's "enfrail"), but Ken got the highest-scoring word at 23 points.

If you could contrive to get four words in the mid-20s, you could then use a fairly small and safe word to win (since you have to make the San roll to win). However, I suspect that is much much easier said than done.

Textual Entertainments: Behemoth is the second book in Scott Westerfeld's steampunk trilogy (series?) that started with Leviathan. Contrary to Sarah Rees Brennan's theory of trilogies, it is not a make-out book, although I guess there is about 500% more romance than in the first book. But more importantly: mecha duels for the fate of the Ottoman Empire!

Blameless is the third book in Gail Carriger's Victorian fantasy/romance series. They remind me of Elizabeth Peter's series about the Victorian archaeologist woman, except for having sexy werewolves, flaming vampires, and ongoing doom.

Food: Ken made us helical pasta bolognese. We like Ken.

Cats: Aspen let me get remarkably near her as long as I was obviously busy oppressing Ghirardelli and not her.

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30 October 2010 - Saturday

Food: For Ayse-Day Observed, the usual suspects plus Carl had Dim sum at Fu Lam Mum in downtown Mountain View. Nom nom nom slippery noodles! (Julia was a good baby and did not hurl herself from the balcony, possibly because there was a solid barrier there.)

Gaming: Ayse fell asleep when she put Julia down for a nap, so there was no Carcassonne, but Ken trounced Dave and I at Dominion. My strategy was ill-formed: I should have blown off gold and bought Council Rooms instead, so that I could use the extra buys to get more Coppersmiths, Villages, and copper. Dave's Throne Room/Ironworks/more Throne Rooms/more Ironworks deck generated some impressively long action chains, but could only get Estates. (Ken's strategy was relatively normal, which is probably why he won.) We had Thief in the game, but no one bought one until almost the last turn, and it never came out. I guess no one wanted to precipitate all-out carnage.

Textual Entertainments: Yukikaze (Chouhei Kambayashi) is one of the Japanese SF novels that Haikasoru has been translating and publishing in the US. It's an exploration of what it means to be human vs being a machine, with bonus jet fighters and mysterious aliens, but I think the author gives the machines too little credit and humans too much. This may be because the original work was written in 1984, when the paradigm of SFnal human-computer interaction and AI was considerably stiffer and boxier than it is today. (1984 is also pre-Internets, but the setting is so isolated from (the rest of) humanity that the lack of Google and Facebook doesn't date it.)

Food, cont'd: For the continuation of Ayse-Day Observed, we had tapas at Iberia Restaurant. Carl wasn't there, but we gained Cat, Earl, and Susan (whose teenaged daughter kept an ear on the bugs placed in Julia's room). Nom nom nom bacon-wrapped dates!

Cats: Twelve paws!

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29 October 2010 - Friday

Work: Cow orker G got a promotion! I don't think it makes any difference to his position in the company (higher than me, lower than our boss), but he totally deserves the recognition for his awesomeness.

Gaming: The character on the front of the box for the new Gamma World has tentacles, a plasma rifle, and cleavage. How was I supposed to resist?

The art is not misleading: this new Gamma World is pretty goofy.The ridiculous but traditional radioactive mutants of the early editions and the rogue nanotech of the D&D3 spinoff have been subsumed by a four-color catastrophe of colliding timelines, which the designers do not take even slightly seriously.

The basic mechanics are D&D4 (minor actions, shifting, ongoing damage, etc, etc), but characters are streamlined and kind of silly. There are no classes: each character gets two origins by roll of 2d20 (only wimps would demand to choose) from a list of things like Android, Cockroach, Felinoid, Hypercognitive, Plant, Radioactive, Rat Swam, and Yeti. Creativity is encourged over seriousness in combining origins: Rat Swarm+Felinoid could be a swarm of kittens, or a swarm of rats that forms a panther shape. Each origin gets a bonus to one of the ten skills, a couple of minor benefits (resistance to one damage type, climb speed, mage hand-level TK, etc), one first-level power, one medium-level power, and one high-level power. At first level, you get both first-level powers from your origin and as you level up (to a maximum of 10th level), you can get some of the other powers from your origins. There are no feats nor races (or classes, depending on which you count origins as), so everywhere stock D&D4 would add half your level, GW adds your level straight. You also get to add your level to damage much of the time.

For years, game designers have longed to combine RPGs and CCGs, and WotC has finally implemented it. The boxed set comes with a standard deck of 80 cards, and one foil-wrapped booster pack; presumably you can buy more boosters somewhere, maybe a gaming store if those still exist. There are two kinds of cards, alpha mutations (you get 1-3 depending on level and cycle them at the end of an encounter, because consistency is for serious games), and omega tech (which you get when the GM lets you loot a dungeon, and which generally burns out or explodes after a use or two but might be salvagable as normal items with slightly better stats than the generic equivalents), and if you have enough, you can have your own deck of one or both types. Otherwise, everyone draws from the GM's decks.

I would like to try playing it sometime, but I'm dubious that it would hold up for a campaign. (On the other manipulator, my campaigns are not noted for seriousness, continuity, or literary merit, so maybe it's just right.)

Cats: I oppressed Aspen with additional pettins. She was very patient and brave, even though she didn't need to be because I did not try to demat her fur or otherwise torment her.

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28 October 2010 - Thursday

Work: Check.

Your Tax Dollars At Work: Having successfully returned all of the previous batch of library books (except the one I lent to Ayse), I got even more books! Apparently I now believe the library is for getting improving books, while entertaining books should be purchased. I'm not sure if I have this backwards or not.

Textual Entertainments: Chimera (Rob Thurman) is brothertastic, which you would expect from the person who wrote the Cal and Niko books. The ending is a little odd, but not bad.

Visual Entertainments: Slayers Try 1-2: Look, a whole new world for the PCs to explorede!

We had no Marith, because work. Again.

Food: Cars are useful sometimes, but you have to find someplace to put them. (I guess that's why drive-in and drive-through became popular.) Anyway, we eventually obtained food from Chef Liu and carried it back so Ken would die before we watched Slayers. Now Ayse understands about Hong Kong-style noodles!

Cats: I caught Aspen up on the computer desk, so I... PETTED HER! Muahahahahahaha!

chimera by kit (Mon Nov 1 03:55:45 2010)

hey, no fair, i was going to write a book called chimera!

Re: chimera by Trip (Mon Nov 1 07:28:43 2010)

Will Shetterly beat you both by ten years anyway. :)

re: chimera by kit (Fri Nov 5 09:39:29 2010)

Fortunately titles can't be copyrighted. :) (copywrote?)

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27 October 2010 - Wednesday

Work: Check.

Textual Educations: Freedom Evolves (Daniel C Dennett) is not about political freedom, but about free will. The arguments aren't simple, but the conclusion is: free will, like all the other things human minds do, is not magic. It's a natural phenomenon built from ages of evolution at a variety of scales.

(One very common idea that has to be dismantled is that deterministic physics precludes free will. It doesn't, and quantum indeterminacy doesn't automatically grant free will. Roughly, physics only needs to provide chaos (in the mathematical sense), and then the fact that thoughts are not points in space or instants in time opens the possibilities of the future.)

The last bit of the book is about the evolution of morality, which is sort of a digression and not really that mysterious: the easiest way to make people think you're good to cooperate with (that is, won't flake on them or betray them) is to actually be that way. Add an environment in which lack of cooperation equals failure to breed, and shake well for a few thousand years.

Hm, trying to summarize books with ideas in is hard. Maybe I should just post the ISBN and let people read the original.

Cats: Miau miau miau!

books with ideas in by kit (Fri Oct 29 07:32:47 2010)

I thought that was a pretty good summary, actually. Made me want to read it, anyway!

Re: books with ideas in by Trip (Fri Oct 29 08:07:50 2010)

Then I have succeeded! (I guess as a reviewer I would also have succeeded if the review had made you never want to read it, since either way it would have helped you decide how to spend your precious reading hours.)

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26 October 2010 - Tuesday

Work: Check.

Gaming: Yesterday I said "down with untyped bonuses" and maybe I was right. Would D&D4 be badly damaged if all untyped bonuses were treated as bonuses of whatever rules element they come from (feat/power/item/etc)? Or treated as a type (so only the highest untyped bonus applies)?

Visual Entertainments:

  • Ef - A Tale of Memories 1-2: Another entry in the subgenre of stories about philosophically convenient maladies. The art is very pretty and changes style quite a bit for various scenes.
  • Whispers of the Heart movie: The Ghibliriffic story of a young girl who wants to decide what to do with her life. Also, a large cat.

But we had no Marith, because work.

Cats: Twelve fuzzy paws!

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25 October 2010 - Monday

Work: Fortunately, Decapitated Galliform Syndrom seems to be going into remission (for now — it's a chronic condition in most human organizations). I still didn't get a chance to eat lunch until after 14:00, though.

Laundry: The laundry room tried to thwart me by being full of people, but I eventually wreaked my terrible revenge, although it took all night.

Gaming: I tried to write up a summary of what happened at the end of yesterday's session after Rachel left to shuttle kids, but failed. Writing is hard, let's go paint on rocks.

Silly Computer Games: Check.

Cats: Hurray for Super Affection Beast Marma-Marma!

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24 October 2010 - Sunday

Work: They made me write another script, but I finished it with minutes to spare! (Somewhat cheesily, I admit, but fortunately someone else knew a good way to do what I was kludging.)

Gaming: Look, it's a huge fight! At least the second set of villains waited until the first set had been defeated, and even waited for the PCs to refuse their offer to sell Earl's character back for the bargain price of four times his normally-calculated ransom!

When the party get to put up three dailies, they get +6 to all defenses, which means that for monsters of their level, the defender can only be hit on a 20. I think dailies that give stacking bonuses to defense may, like solo monsters with 5x normal HP, sound cooler than they actually are in practice. (Down with untyped bonuses!)

Silly Computer Games: Check.

Cats: Oh NO! I am obviously the worst cat-dad EVER, because in all my errand-running yesterday, the one errand I forgot was buying gooshyfood and now we are OUT! It is a TRAGEDY!

(Actually they seemed remarkably unperturbed when I went back to bed without feeding them, but what is cat ownership without drama? (And fur. Fur everywhere.))

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23 October 2010 - Saturday

HAPPY HAPPY AYSE-DAY!!

Work: I finished up and tested a script to send to the customer, which was harder than I expected. I think wait didn't work because I spawned subshells which then spawned the subshells that did the actual work. Maybe I should have tried to in-line the second loop instead of making it a function, so as to have only one level of subshelling? Or put a wait in each first-level shell to keep an eye on that batch of second-level shells? Enh, whatever, it eventually worked.

Gaming: Fortunately I am pretty much prepared, since there were monsters I didn't even use last session.

Silly Computer Games: Check.

Cats: Miau miau miau!

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22 October 2010 - Friday

Work: Things were going no worse than usual when suddenly, with a horrible BZZZUMP, the power went out in the office. We still had network until the UPS emptied out, but then we had to relocate to a Starbucks (fortunately one that had power outlets) for a few hours.

Finally we got that straightened out, at least as much as it can be today, but then another customer exploded and so I was at work until 21:00 again. And, there will be work over the weekend. Bah.

(I tried to make a joke here about why do I have to work if we're living in the socialist state that the interwobs assure me the US has become, but I couldn't think of anything based on that premise that wasn't too stupid to be funny.)

Textual Educations: Supersense (Bruce M Hood) is about why people believe (or believe that they perceive) things that aren't strictly speaking what you'd call true. Hood shows how the cognitive errors common to developing human brains lead small children naturally to dualism, essentialism, and teleology, and how these mistaken patterns of thoughts are at best plastered over by the executive functions of the adult brain.

Obviously this covers a lot of the same ground as Dennett's Breaking the Spell, although in a less dense way and with more lurid examples. However, it's also somewhat of a reaction to Breaking the Spell, in that Hood does not really question that supernatural beliefs are for the win. He implies that emotion and creativity are the same as, or at least reliant on, supernatural beliefs, and states outright that shared supernatural beliefs are what holds society together. The issue of whether we can do better is not addressed.

Cats: Poor neglected kittehs! (Er, except Aspen, obviously, although she seems to avoid me slightly less than she used to (or maybe she thinks my arms have gotten shorter).)

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21 October 2010 - Thursday

Work: Now let's all rush around in a panic because we made up a deadline!

Now let's have Mandatory Corporate Fun! But we spent too much time rushing around, so instead of going bowling, we'll go to a bar and stand around. That's fun, right?

Food: I'm not sure where it was we went, some place in downtown San Carlos, but the food was pretty good. I had the chicken with little crispy gnocchi(?) guys.

Cats: I returned to feed and snuggle the kitties eventually!

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20 October 2010 - Wednesday

Work: Check.

Silly Computer Games: Grr. Argh.

Cats: Aspen has accepted the reconfigured futon enough to hide under it! (Now I'll never be able to get her to the vet (unless I cruelly deceive and betray her with gooshyfood).)

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19 October 2010 - Tuesday

Work: Travelling to and from the office is kind of a pain, but it really does make me more productive. Apparently I am too old to participate in the Modern Work Enviroment. (Or else I haven't put as much effort into setting up my "home office" as I have my work cube.)

Gaming: Braining is hard, let's go die in a pit.

Textual Educations: Breaking the Spell is Daniel Dennett's look at why humans engage in such expensive and often apparently maladaptive behaviors as religion. His position is that we really don't know, but given how significant a feature of the social environment religion is, we really should find out instead of giving it a pass from investigation. He also proposes an explanation based on what we know of human brains, memetics ("cultural evolution" if the m-word makes you hiss and spit), and the formation of social groups. The subtitle of the book is "Religion as a Natural Phenomenon", so it shouldn't be surprising that Dennett does not spend much time considering claims of supernatural revelation as the (or even a) source of religion. He admits up front that this will cause a certain percentage of people to stop reading, but what can you usefully say to such people? Asking them for evidence isn't going to get anywhere.

From my perspective, Breaking the Spell is a pretty generous and sincere look at religion and why people do it, but I expect people who have built their lives (interior, exterior, or both) around a religion would disagree.

Visual Entertainments:

  • Soul Eater 50-51: Maka FTW!
  • Chrome Shelled Regios 19: 120 points isn't bad. Maybe it's not a doomed triangle after all.
  • Higurashi When They Cry II 16-17: They never understood her at the university.
  • Shakugan no Shana II 14: I'm not sure where Yoshida is going, but go Yoshida!

Next week, Whispers of the Heart and the beginning of Ef - A Tale of Memories.

Cats: I saw Aspen go into the front library, so maybe she's given it her approval.

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18 October 2010 - Monday

Modern Medicine: I have a new endocrinologist, who thinks one of the drugs my old endocrinologist had prescribed is of dubious net utility, but fortunately there is a better one. She also approves of my trudging endless kilometers to and from work every day, though.

Work: I worked from home today, which sadly is never a bonus to productivity even when I get my real computer set up on the VPN and don't have to do everything through the cramped little Windows laptop (it didn't help that the VPN kept silently dying and having to be restarted, even when there wasn't a power outage with exciting sound effects). I did get some stuff done, but not as much as I would have liked.

My, the Internet really is full of things: UNSOUNDED :: The Reluctant Escort. I blame Chris.

Cats: Still not economically sophisticated to realize that what I do on the little squares and big glowy thing is related to their gooshyfood ration.

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17 October 2010 - Sunday

Work: On-call continues to be minimally irritating. Yay!

Food: Ken celebratorily made salmon, squash, salad, dinosaur kale, and beans for Marith in honor of her day. Also, chocolate cake was provided.

Gaming: There is no Thrace, there is only Zuul Dominion.

Silly Computer Games: Er, yah.

Cats: I was too lazy to carry the futons from the front library out to the trash zone, so instead I transformed the frame into bed mode and laid them flat instead of pointlessly slouched. Now they're actually good for something, and since they're at the side of the room instead of in the middle, they doesn't really take up more space. Poor Aspen found the change very alarming, though! When she saw me coming and ran for safety, she stopped dead in the doorway, stared at the rearrangement in horror, and doubled back past me to hide under the coffee table. I am still the worst cat-eating monster ever! (Later I saw her curled up with Marmalade on top of it, though, so I guess orange snuggles make everything better.)

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16 October 2010 - Saturday

Work: Customers opened some cases today, but they are all just questions that can wait until Monday. No one's cluster is on fire. This is acceptable for an on-call weekend.

Silly Computer Games: Check. Maybe octuple check.

Cats: Twelve fuzzidorable paws!

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15 October 2010 - Friday

Work: The thing I've been working on off and on for like two weeks has finally come together and now I have a wicherfligger than integrates with my company's product in what seems to be the same way as at the customer site. But I cannot reproduce the behavior seen there, even with their obsolete corporate-mandated thingamabob. Either I'm a failure as a support engineer (entirely likely), there's something going on that they haven't mentioned (also entirely likely), or the space penguins have gotten to their data center (less likely, but I'm not ruling it out). Bah!

Also released my script into the wild, but I realized that anyone who has ever written code that was seen or run by anyone else has, at least once, had their sobriety impugned in public. There's just no avoiding it, so why stress?

(Augh! They hate me! They'll mock my coding style and use my script as an example to n00bs of how to not write Python!)

I'm on-call this weekend. Bah.

Cats: Here I come
To fliff the cat
'Cause fliffy cats
Are where it's at

FLIFFY CAT!

(Other verbs work in place of "fliff", of course.)

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14 October 2010 - Thursday

Work: Check. I think my script, having been rewritten in Python, is kind of ready to be exposed to other people.

Random Encounters: Suddenly, a Liralen! She is in town to game with Carl at some sort of event at his awesome local gaming store (which I really should get to at some point — BART at least goes to the right city, although I could end up having to hike endless kilometers through California sprawl that doesn't waste its precious few dollars on good public transit), but he brought her to dinner in Mountain View to taunt the rest of us. Apparently it was a successful taunt, because eight people were able to show up on only two days' notice (Marith cleverly arranged to have Dave monitor Julia's bugging devices so Ken and Ayse could make it), and the Liralen was duly admired by all. Apparently she is a famous artist with gallery shows now!

Textual Educations: Toward the Light of Liberty (A C Grayling) is an examination of the roughly upward trend in human rights, in both theory and practice, in the West over the past five hundred years or so. To someone who knows history, this book would probably be absurdly basic (it is, after all, only one book and not a particularly long one), but I found it interesting. I hadn't realized how much of the Legislative vs Executive checks and balances you hear about in junior-high civics class came directly from Locke, for example, or for how short a time the Divine Right of Kings theory was prominent.

Grayling divides the story roughly into three phases — people gaining the right to not be Roman Catholics, gaining the right to do scientific research, and gaining the right to participate in government &mdash: although of course there's a lot of overlap both temporally and in the identity of the antagonists along the way (yes, we're looking at you, RCC). He notes some of the backsliding along the way, but overall it's quite a positive book, which seems strange for history, but in fact (the distance we still have to go, and the recent attempts by the governments of at least the US and UK to roll back all the progress we have made, notwithstanding), things have gotten better over the past five hundred years. So, qualified yay!

The book has five appendices: The original Bill of Rights (England, 1689), the US Bill of Rights (1791), the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (France, 1789), the Chartists' Six Points and their Petition (UK, 1838), and the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Earth, 1948). I thought it was a nice touch.

Food: Nom.

Cats: Paw count holding at 12!

Endgame by Carl (Sun Oct 17 15:42:12 2010)

It was excellent to see you and many others at the Liralen vs. Peking Duck death match (spoiler: the duck lost, deliciously).

Endgame is 2 blocks from the Oakland 12th St BART station, with good highway access from Highway 880, and on the same block as the very tasty Breads of India. There is excellent beer nearby at The Trappist, which may be useful for luring Ken, somehow.

Saturday's minicon went very well, with Liralen playing an ex-goth small town cop in Don't Rest Your Head and an Operator in Apocalypse World Ghostwoods who successfully delivered 7 of 8 gasoline mules.

Next Endgame minicon is January 15th, and Go Play SF Bay hosts gaming the Third Thursday of every month at 6:30. This Thursday (10/21) is "A Taste of Apocalypse World", and next month (11/18) is "A Sample of Smallville" although not every GPSF is themed.

Re; Endgame by Trip (Mon Oct 18 12:28:24 2010)

Facts?! But this is the INTERNET, man!

(For whatever reason I had been thinking Endgame was actually in Pleasanton. Perhaps on a weekend when I am not already supposed to be doing all sorts of things, I will make a pilgrimage.)

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13 October 2010 - Wednesday

Work: Check.

Silly Computer Games: Check. Brain too small.

Cats: I actually moved all the random crap manga and gaming books off of Aspen's sofa, so I could carry off and dispose of the futons at any moment!

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12 October 2010 - Tuesday

Work: Check.

Visual Entertainments:

  • Soul Eater 48-49: The Death Spiral is approaching the ground fast!
  • Higurashi When They Cry II 15: That's interesting!
  • Chrome Shelled Regios 17-18: She totally heard that as "I don't want you".
  • Shakugan no Shana II 13: Bad Margery! No glowing purple bear treats for you!

Food: In honor of Marith-day, we got a Fort Point without artichoke from Pizza My Heart. It was pretty good. Even Dave had some, which is not something that happens every week!

Cats: Miau and also miau! And furthermore, miau!

animes! by marith (Thu Oct 14 23:09:34 2010)

That's certainly how I heard it. You didn't?

Re: animes! by Trip (Fri Oct 15 08:09:04 2010)

It was pretty ambiguous. It could just as easily have been, "I don't want you to hurt yourself for me."

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11 October 2010 - Monday

Work: Check.

Silly Computer Games: Check. I probably should have done something worthwhile with my evening instead, though.

Cats: Aspen does not know that I am plotting to get rid of her Sofa of Refuge, but she won't be happy when she finds out. (Anyone want a metal sofa/bed futon frame? There are some futons with it, but they're pretty old so I can just throw them away without too much qualm.)

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10 October 2010 - Sunday

HAPPY HAPPY MARITH-DAY!!

Gaming: I still suck as a GM, but we managed to game even without Earl. I'm sure he'll be gratified at how much effort the other PCs went through to find Naled.

At one point Jeremy laughed until he couldn't breathe, but that didn't have anything to do with the game.

Using a crappy Windows laptop work to look up things on the D&DI Compendium wasn't too awful, and was lighter than carting around several books full of stat blocks (as opposed to the books with rules, which are harder to replace). An iPad is pretty tempting for that, though, and probably wouldn't cost more than a year of D&D dead trees. (And it would be shiny!)

Food: Having failed to do anything for Marithday, Marith and I went to Country Gourmet and read books.

Silly Computer Games: Check.

Cats: Miau miau miau!

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9 October 2010 - Saturday

Work: Poor cow orker G, who is on call this weekend, had to deal with an outage at major customer X. It didn't really have anything to do with our software, but for various reasons we've been stuck with overseeing all aspects of those systems so he had to babysit the recovery of a server with a bad disk without being able to actually do very much to help.

Gaming: Preparing for D&D is always very stressful and most of what I prepare ends up being wasted. Apparently I'm doing it wrong.

Textual Entertainments: Madness of Flowers (Jay Lake) is the direct sequel to Trial of Flowers, and likewise full of bizarre supernatural occurances ("magic" makes it sound more controllable than the characters find it to actually be). The first book was full of unpleasant characters, but most of them are trying to do better in this one, or at least not worse, which is nice. Some of the new characters are lacking in moral fiber, though.

Silly Computer Games: Check.

Cats: Twelve paws with extra Marmasnuggles!

wasted prep by kit (Mon Oct 11 13:39:46 2010)

I donno, I always had the impression that if anything went according to the GM's plans then the GM was doing very well indeed...

Re: wasted prep by Trip (Mon Oct 11 14:38:04 2010)

Maybe it's just annoying because D&D4 requires actual monster writeups, so it's harder to make up stuff when the PCs find out where you didn't lay any rails.

Re: wasted prep by Rachel (Tue Oct 12 21:38:34 2010)

You can always railroad us more directly -- we won't mind. :) And I always think it's part of the fun of being a player to do the unexpected. Not that I usually do -- I'm pretty easily railroaded.

Re: wasted prep by Trip (Wed Oct 13 10:11:37 2010)

I want players to be able to do the unexpected, I just want to expect it! Or more reasonably, to be ready for what they unexpectedly do. In some systems that's easy, but D&D4 is a) all about the fighting, and b) needs a lot of information for a fight (although admittedly not as much as 3rd ed). I can work around that by seeing which way you're going and moving the encounters I've prepared to right in your way, but that's more effective with more generic encounters, which are not as interesting.

Maybe my error is in letting you guys out of the dungeon. :)

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8 October 2010 - Friday

Work: Check. I wish this thing worked.

Cats: Twelve paws!

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7 October 2010 - Thursday

Work: Check.

Textual Educations: Darwin's Dangerous Idea, in the professional opinion of Daniel Dennett, is not the specific discovery that populations of critters change throughout time, but the more general realization that even very complex features of the world can come about through ordinary natural processes.

The metaphor Dennett uses is cranes vs skyhooks: when you're looking for an explanation of how something got so high, "Skyhooks!" is a simple and dramatic explanation, much more appealing than a series of cranes each laboriously and mundanely building a slightly higher base for the next crane to start from, over and over until you finally get to the desired height. However, cranes have the advantage that they actually exist and can actually elevate things.

There are any number of things that people have claimed must be the result of skyhooks — life, multicellarity, wings, intelligence, language, morality, pretty much any attribute of humanity you can name — either because something so wonderful obviously can't have come from mere lifeless atoms or just because "like comes from like" is such a strong intuition. Now that we know what to look for, though, we can see at least the outlines of the natural processes that can produce each of them.

(Bare assertion isn't convincing, of course, which is why Dennett's book contains hundreds of pages of basic explanations, supporting evidence, philosophical arguments, and explanation of how Stephen Jay Gould was kind of a nut and Nietzsche was a serious nut.)

I already held the same position, but it's always nice to have things explained by people who are actually smart.

Visual Entertainments: Ayse and Ken and Julia live in the House of Germs, so there was no Slayers tonight. We are sad.

Silly Computer Games: Sadly, check.

Cats: Aspen made the mistake of going up on the food tree, so I oppressed her with huggins. It's hard being a kitty sometimes.

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6 October 2010 - Wednesday

Work: The clever plan produced data, but the data doesn't seem to help very much. Bah.

Cats: Twelve adorable paws!

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5 October 2010 - Tuesday

Work: Ha, I was right that my clever scheme would work and cow orker X was not right! (Hey, it had to happen some time.) Now if only the clever plan would produce data...

Visual Entertainments:

  • Shakugan no Shana II 10-11: Hey, that green-haired chick from the opening credits definitely looks like plot!
  • Soul Eater 47: If we didn't know there were still a few episodes to go, we might think the good guys had won!
  • Higurashi When They Cry II 13-14: Go Rika! Go everyone! (Not you, Takano.)
  • Chrome Shelled Regios 16: The good guys need to level up some more! (Obviously, since it's not the end of the season.)

Cats: Twelve paws!

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4 October 2010 - Monday

Work: Check, but I wish I could get paid for sleeping. (I often tell my cats how I'm obviously not very smart, otherwise I'd be a cat and sleep all day and play all night.)

I worked on a thing to do the thing to the other thing for much of the evening, until my brain became soft and squishy and had to go to bed.

Cats: Twelve paws of adorable indolence!

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3 October 2010 - Sunday

Celebration: For her birthday, Julia was alarmed by many tall scary people and also a giant shiny blue thing that fell in the wrong direction! But then she got to go to the park and show off her slide-climbing skills and eat pumpkin stuff and play with a new taggy-ball and take a nap, so perhaps it was all okay.

Gaming: While Marith and then Ayse were off being massaged, Ken and Dave and I played the Castle Ravenloft board game. We almost won the "escape with 12 treasures" scenario despite drawing many treasures that didn't count and being piled on by zillions of huge monsters, but were foiled by a stupid wolf. Bah!

After dinner we failed to play Thrace (again) and instead all played Setlers of Catan, which we hadn't done in ages. Ayse crushed us all like bugs, mostly because no one who was in a position to take away her Longest Road points did so. Also, Dave traded, which is so rare an event as to be worth marking down.

There was some discussion of Dark Sun, which lead Dave to write up a psionic cannibal cat-girl (half-elf ardent, possibly actually male) so now it must be the all-cat-girl party. Or, you know, cake and death.

Food: Mike made chocolate-flavored egg-protein foam (I think the technical term is "angel-food cake") for the party. Ken made pasta stuff, and also stuff involving roasted(?) turnips, for dinner.

Silly Computer Games: Check, although I am having to restore from backup so many times for each level I crawl forward in Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup that it is losing its appeal. Maybe I should just look for a newer version of zangband or something.

Cats: Miau! Miau! Grr!

Foods by Ken (Wed Oct 6 20:03:03 2010)

Turnip Potato Agrodolce - render a few slices of bacon, add diced turnip and potato, let it cook a little, add thyme, add some sugar and other things (in this case onion, garlic, turnip greens), add red wine vinegar.

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2 October 2010 - Saturday

Work: I made a couple of internal changes to my script so it fails more gracefully, and solicited ideas for new features. I should work on some of these other scripts too, since I spent so much of the work week being docted, but meh.

Tyranny of Stuff: I took four bags of books to BookBuyers, but they gave back almost two full bags. This is sad, but not actually surprising since most of what they gave back was previously-rejected stuff I was trying again. Perhaps I will just take anything BookBuyers reject to the library for their book sales, since BookBuyers doesn't seem to change its mind much.

Textual Educations: Someone on the Intertubes recommended it, so I made the library lend me The Beauty Myth (Naomi Wolf). It was ...interesting.

Wolf's thesis is that the idea that the pursuit of (an unattainable ideal of) beauty is an essential part of womanhood has been foisted on women to keep them from profiting from the gains feminism has made. Her descriptions of the effects of women being required to spend so much effort on being beautiful while men can get old and wrinkly are difficult to argue with, but she writes as though she thinks the whole phenomenon was consciously planned (by who? she does understand that the patriarchy hurts men too). I find that pretty dubious; an explanation in which most of the actors are only seeking their own short-term benefit would be a lot more plausible.

Wolf is definitely in the anti-pornography branch of feminist thought, but her real hatred seems to be for cosmetic surgery. She devotes a considerable section of the book, possibly more than to any other subject, to the damage cosmetic surgery does to women who undergo it, the damage the existence of cosmetic surgery does to humanity, the Nazi-like evil of cosmetic surgeons (I'm not exaggerating), etc. I'm not going to claim it's a good thing that so many women feel the need for cosmetic surgery despite the horribly primitive techniques used, but I think Wolf is a little over the top.

I also find her use of statistics dubious — it's never a good sign when someone switches from percentages to absolute numbers and back in a single list. And, 20% of college-age women in 1991 had anorexia and 50% had bulimia? ORLY?

On another tentacle, I have to support the position that no one should be penalized for their appearance or sex or really anything except their actual character, and that everyone should have the opportunity to live a fulfilling life and use their talents, and it saddens me that so many humans disagree.

In conclusion: mulch the entrenched power structures!

It would be interesting to see this book redone for 2011. I think some things have gotten better, but I suspect some have gotten worse.

Visual Entertainments: Finally caught up on Chrome Shelled Regios 14-15. You know, I really can't imagine a way that sentence could end that wouldn't make "Synola" feeling up Leerin even worse. On the other hand, the hot springs episode really wasn't (although Mei's nightgown was quite something, or maybe that's just Mei).

(This review has been brought to you by Perv-o-rama. For all your perving needs, think PERV-O-RAMA! (You perv.))

Silly Computer Games: Check.

sleep apnea by Rachel (Sat Oct 2 21:05:52 2010)

If you do have sleep apnea, talk to me and Jeremy before getting supplies. We know which places are the best to get them, and related stuff.

Re: sleep apnea by Trip (Sat Oct 2 21:43:08 2010)

Wow! I have contacts!

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1 October 2010 - Friday

HAPPY HAPPY JULIA-DAY!!

Work: Partial check. But the tool I spent yesterday writing was used by people, who found it helpful!

Modern Medicine: The sleep specialist agrees that I probably have sleep apnea, so has scheduled a sleep study for me in December (the first opening they had).

Textual Educations: Dazzled and Deceived (Peter Forbes) is about understanding natural mimicry and coloration and developing artificial camouflage, and the intersection of the two, from the early 19th century up through about WWII. Some of the people who studied coloration were nuts, like the guy who thought all animal coloration, even wasp stripes and peacock tails, was camouflage. I feel sorry for the military men who had to listen to their Brilliant Ideas.

I spotted a couple of subtle errors in the biology, but Forbes seems to be Not An Idiot (although as a Brit he doesn't understand how annoyingly common creationists are in the US).

Food: I escaped from the doctor in Sunnyvale earlier than I expected, so I went to Thai City. Because I could.

Silly Computer Games: Check.

Cats: Twelve paws!

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