Thursday, December 26, 2013

Things We Learn

I just honestly didn't think it was possible to learn to dislike someone so much so quickly. It's really interesting to pay attention to characters in books and stories, and even people in real life. The actions of the character reveal their true biases and priorities and often in subtler ways than you might imagine. For instance, frequently the actions done in many stories could have been performed by a great many characters, and the character chosen to actually do them is incredibly telling. For instance, the betrayal by the fiance in the movie Frozen. This character actually feels very wedged into the story but their function there is very deliberate and purposeful even if clumsy. It has to be that character that performs that betrayal, because it has to undercut the concept of traditional fairy tale romance to set up the real love story, the love shared by the two sisters. He's there because the writers felt he was necessary for contrast, and that they weren't confident that their story, by itself, would be contrasted against the other stories in their genre so they needed to internalize this conflict, despite having a wealth of other characters and circumstances they could have used to make their point.

So you look at what a character is doing. They may profess great love for someone else, but if every time that love requires any kind of difficulty or sacrifice they hide it or ignore it or let the other character down, then there's nothing there. I could easily depict a scenario like this in a matter of moments as it is so easily caricatured:

Jim and his wife have reached a difficult spot in their relationship, and they agree to separate. THis rough patch is caused by financial difficulty, they can't support each other and they can't achieve their goals realistically, and it begins to look impossible. During their separation both Jim and his wife have affairs with various lovers, but Jim becomes particularly fond of her, tell her he loves her and spends a great deal of time with her in secret. Jim is also unfortunately a borderline alcoholic, which has caused many social ills. Their affair goes on for some years and one day the unthinkable happens, through both great effort, and chance, and the support of both his wife and his mistress Jim gets a new job. Concerned for appearances in the grace period for the new job that leads to everything he wanted in life, Jim ceases all communication with his mistress on the chance that this would risk his job in the eyes of his new employer as he has no idea how the new employer would react to such a relationship, but Jim still sips whiskey under the desk at work. Three sips a day instead of a half a bottle a day, but he doesn't give it and everyone knows about it. It is quite probably more damaging of the two, but it would cause Jim personal pain and discomfort to give up the whiskey.

This is a simple and meaningless example of how you can identify a characters real motivations and genuine internal struggles. People are generally very transparent if you give them enough time and pay close enough attention. Sometimes when you get really involved with a character early on though it's easy to miss things that seems meaningless but unfold in a larger pattern.

Breaking Bad 's Walter White is a brilliant example of this, the portrait of his character over the course of the series draws upon a very beautifully complex series of motivations. Every scenario of conflict draws on the tension of what is more important to Walter, very rarely, if ever can we believe what he is saying. He is clearly portrayed immediately as a character incapable of admitting real truths about motivation or feeling to almost anyone, however his motivations and values are consistent throughout the entire series.

He is a damaged man cheated out of billions first, he is a family man second, he is a brilliant chemist third, he is an moral man fourth, and he is a honest man fifth, and a truthful man last. The conflicts as these are carefully pulled out and highlighted in each of his major decisions is like a character being beautifully painted, but in time and with something richer than colors can ever display.

THere is also a brilliant tension with the audience as we wrestle with our own values, and whether or not we want to see him succeed. We constantly ask ourselves just how much we like Walter White. At what point does he cross the line where we could no longer feel good about seeing him successfully resolve his issues into a happy ending through any amount of cleverness?

I find it amazing how often we ourselves have no idea what our actions communicate to the people around us and how important it is that they communicate what we really feel.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Double Review Day: Frozen Book Thief

I sit here tonight, eager to play more of Dishonored GOTYE, which I just started yesterday, but reluctant to do so without taking care of some overdue responsibilities. I've seen two movies in the past weeks and I feel that you should know about both of them. You know who you are. And if I don't write these reviews tonight, already at least a day late, who knows when I will ever write them.

Disney's Frozen:

I wish I could say I was surprised by this movie, but I'd managed to totally avoid any trailers for it and I didn't hear anything about it till the buzz exploded that it was just a fantastic film. I'm happy to say that I was not in the least disappointed. I went in expecting a great film and I got one. It's easily the best film in Disney's "Disney Film" repertoire of feature animations since Beauty and the Beast. I mean, sure Wreck it Ralph and the most recent Winnie the Pooh were both just stand out amazing movies from the same studio, but this one FEELS like classic Disney. More importantly, though, it feels like classic Disney that is relevant. It breaks molds, it's not a romance, there's romance in it, but it's not about a girl getting a guy or vice versa, it's about being able to connect with the people you're closest to, which is broader picture type stuff.

This movie is layered. It's filled with metaphors, and it has to be. The story is bigger than it really has time for, and frequently feels rushed. There's more than a few spots where everything feels really cramped together, and in a perfect world and in a perfect movie, it wouldn't feel that way. Story wise, the pacing is probably the thing with the most issues. I don't know a good way that this movie could have fixed this. Maybe it needed to be longer, maybe it needed a few less events. Maybe if it didn't have to have as much comedy as it did, or didn't have to be a children's movie it could have cut some of the "fluff" but the fluff was as much of a reason to watch the movie as anything else. Olaf is adorable, and honestly, he's the type of character who is usually cast with a voice that sounds like nails on a chalkboard to me, but he's not annoying, his voice is whinny to me, it's soft and he just sounds so sweet, which works because he is just such a sweet character. Another weak point for the film is the song writing. Some of the songs just don't work very well for me. They lack a strong structure even though they have some great lines, and they don't hold the scene together well enough.

These are just rough edges though. It's no a perfect movie, though it felt like with some really careful polishing it could have been. The story is beautiful, complex, and loaded with interesting characters and twists. Many of the songs are noteworthy and extremely well done, getting to the core of the characters and the scene and moving the plot along briskly with lots of character development that works. The characters are very well done, though there are a few two dimensional characters that could have had more depth. This movie is a must watch.

The Book Thief:

This movie is just beautiful. It feels like a movie from my childhood that I forgot. The pacing just feels like something from another decade, everything about it feels ancient and it fits very much with the themes and ideas. There's more happening than just the main plot line, all of the characters have something going on. This movie is able to convey a lot of sub-textual story telling because of the well know historical background that allows it to include a great deal of history that would otherwise make it very much impossible to tell the whole story in a meaningful way.

From the cinematography to the music and dialog and characters, this movie is simply an excellent example of film making. I hadn't been impressed by almost anything I had seen at all this year until I saw this movie, and it was like waking up. It was warm and sweet, funny and sad, beautiful and painful and moving. I can recommend this movie without reservation to absolutely anyone, as everything about it is extremely well done. I am honestly having trouble thinking of any really rough patches that kept this movie from being amazing. There are a few weak points in the acting, which shouldn't be taken at face value, because this movie rides so heavily on its child actors it would be astounding if it didn't have those moments, and what few there are barely cause a hitch in the pacing of the scene.

I haven't read the book that this movie is based on. That doesn't necessarily mean much, but it's always weird to me. There are so few book to movie translations I have ever enjoyed, maybe 5 or seven. I do want to read this book very badly now, and see how the movie holds up after reading the book. It would be absolutely fascinating. If you have the chance, though, definitely watch this movie. It's beautiful, heart wrenching, and extremely well crafted.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Republic Wireless

Well, I'm in for a great experiment. I've picked up a Moto X from republic wireless and their 25$ per month 3g data plan and I am EXCITED. I've had about a week to play with the phone so far and I am honestly very impressed with my experiences. I'm a pretty tough customer to please, too, because I was pretty happy with Boost mobile and the service they have provided me over the years, most especially over the last few months with my most recent phone.

I've been using the HTC One SV and it was by far the best phone I had ever used. In fact, if it were not for with the give and take advantages/disadvantages between the plan/phone I'd say it is dead even tied with the Moto X for me. The One SV could last a day and a half easy with 4g LTE turned on and running, and even moderate use over the time period. Games would burn out the battery, but what phone do they not do that on?

The Jellybean O/S ran smooth as silk, the screen was bright and large enough to be comfortable but not too large to function conveniently as a phone. The one and only hiccup I ever had with it was the disk storage space management. With a limit for 2 gb of app space and a fairly large list of pre-installed apps that could not be removed the updates eventually made it very difficult to keep any games installed on the phone and still allow for all the apps I wanted to be able to update regularly. In the last few months disk space management actually became quite serious any time a list of apps needed to update.

The Moto X has a massive internal drive comparatively, and though it can't use an SD card, even though the One SV would let you plug one in, it couldn't REALLY use it either. Using my internal storage space without a care in the world I still have about 10 GB free internally to play with on this phone allowing me to really breathe and enjoy games and other media really easily and conveniently.

The contextual features are also really sweet and I really enjoy playing with them, though, honestly they are not as impressive as I had initially hoped. Using NFC to lock and unlock the phone turned out to be less awesome than I had hoped mostly because of software. You can't unlock it just by touching it to a RFID chip, you have to push the unlock button, then touch it to the RFID, and it's just an extra step that feels nu-neccessary. I just wish it could completely unlock with a swipe. I just think the software isn't quite there yet.

And I am a battery life junky, the longer without a charger the better. You never know when you'll be in an emergency and need to go as long as possible without charging, so those extra hours mean a lot to me, and the Moto X just doesn't give me the same battery life.

Overall, between the price of the phone time, the list of features and advantages and disadvantages, I'm happy with the difference, for now I'll be sticking with Republic Wireless and their truly fascinating service plans, which I highly recommend anyone check out.

On a side note, I can't wait to live in the future when my phone can unlock my house, turn on my car, and pay for things on site with NFC wallet apps and RFID for EVERYTHING, and even be used to authenticate my identity and my driver's license. On that day, I wont need my wallet or my keys anymore. I remember when I only needed my keys, and then only my wallet and keys.

Ladies and gentlemen, I have a phone case that holds a few cards, enough to hold all the essential ones I carry around with me. Since I do not carry cash this means I can finally experiment with leaving my wallet behind.

The last two days of my life I've pared down to just a wallet and keys and it feels AMAZING.

I can't wait for more of the future!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Facts About Me

I guess I have to do this, 15 facts about me:
1. I once ate an entire tablespoon of 600,000 scoville hotsauce and it was the single most painful experience in my life. I was sincerely concerned that I needed to call an ambulance the pain was so bad.
2. My favorite book is the Count of Monte Cristo, and my favorite translation of it is the copy that was given to me by Marcia Reynolds forever and a day ago.
3. I once cooked a turducken, and it was delicious! It took me several days of preparation and was tons of work, but I loved every minute of it and the end result was the best of the franken meats.
4. When I was in my teens still my parents gave me my first guitar and a couple of guitar lessons. I really resented it at the time, and I was mad that they didn't understand who I was, but almost 8 years later when the circumstances were right and that guitar was still there for me to pull out and play and begin to learn with I could not have been more thankful that it had been given to me, even if it was almost a decade before I knew it was good for me. I just wish I'd been a smarter teenager.
5. My favorite regional food style used to be Mediterranean, with all the sharp tangy cheeses, fish, vinegars, textures, etc. until I visited Korea, now my favorite regional food is Korean, I didn't have a single bad meal there, no matter how cheap or how tiny the restaurant, they were all in my top 100 of my life.
6. I failed high school because I was lazy, and had to go to summer school to pass my final class in order to get my diploma.
7. When I was a child and had finished reading the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, I was really mad when my dad didn't let me read the Silmarillion because it was too mature. This only bothered me more when I was old enough to just read whatever I wanted, and I realized all he had to do to stop me from reading it was let me try. Most boring book ever.
8. I think the octopus is the coolest animal on the planet, but kittens are cuter.
9. My favorite movie of all time is still The Shawshank Redemption. My very close second is Fight Club.
10. I couldn't even begin to pick a favorite song or genre, almost every style of music has produced at least one song that moved me emotionally to the very core of my being and I couldn't pick one of those emotional experiences over another.
11. I never had cable as a child, it wasn't until I was a full grown adult that I paid for it myself to get the best internet connection.
12. I used to stay up all night and read over the edge of my bed to the light of my closet, and every book was precious to me. I don't even know when I would fall asleep most nights, but the important thing is that I fell asleep reading.
13. I think a lot about how the expanding space between intergalactic bodies that lack sufficient gravitational pull to hold them together means that there is a hard limit beyond which objects projecting light will never be visible to us because the space between us is expanding faster than the speed of light. I thought the universe was pretty big before that, but now that I know this I believe it is so big that we will never comprehend its true size and will never have any way of measuring it. The words Too Far Away have never felt so final to me.
14. My favorite reading spot as a kid and young adult was nestled in the arms of the third or fourth level of branches of the tree in my front yard.
15. I started working on a podcast with a friend of mine, Sean Foley, Words Are Bullshit.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

What if Fez Were Good?

I mean, don't get me wrong, my initial experience with Fez was extremely positive. It didn't take long for the thin veneer of positive to wear away into almost nothing. The puzzles initially have very cool structure, and the music is beautiful. There were some strong story telling devices used in the game world, which often are neglected in more narrative heavy experiences and make for incredible world building. But then I started to notice that nothing was being built on top of it. There just wasn't any purpose for this beautifully created world.

Then the puzzles started to bump into some of the meatier puzzles that make up the majority of the game. A lot of them dealing with reading long sequences of code and puzzles that require a lot of notes. Very classic and old school, requiring meticulous note taking to decipher the very clear and incredibly obvious puzzles. I hated every minute of that. Recently another game brought back a similar relic of ancient game playing, the hand drawn map. Etrian Odyssey brought back old school with style, integrating map making into the very deepest parts of the game, but at the same time giving you the tools to play with the maps inside of the game.

I once heard someone say that it's less important to accurately reproduce what we remember being good than it is to reproduce how they made us feel. To capture the essence. What I loved about puzzles that made me write down and copy codes and images and codes to use later is that it made me feel like I was discovering special.  I don't feel like that anymore. I know the solution, but the writing and memorization becomes just irritating. I feel like when I know the solution to a puzzle I should be able to implement it without having to stop playing the game. Etrian Odyssey manages to capture the essence of how I felt drawing maps without the inconvenience and irritation I'd have if I had to actually pull out graph paper. This is one of Fez's bigger failings.

By the time I got to the initial "ending" of the game I had begun to tire of almost everything I initially found charming about it. For everything that is there, it is missing something that feels deeply essential, leaving a very superficial experience.

Even the exploration becomes a chore as backtracking transforms into a granular and tedious experience. The map is very nearly completely useless as the most useful long distance shortcuts are poorly documented if they're visible at all. I live for quality exploration. Super Metroid, Shadow Complex, Castlevania... these are my bread and butter, the root of everything I love most in games, and Fez manages to implement this element in a way that makes me loathe it. Navigation is just slow and painful and tedious, like a point and click adventure game with slow walking and puzzles across 30 screens.

To sum up, the game feels amazing when it first starts and quickly wears away to a chore. But it really could have been amazing.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013


Wow, I had a pretty awesome week last week. A good week at work, and then a good week in leisure. I averaged above quota all week, which just felt great. It's the first time I did this purely on merit. Then, Friday night I was able to see the Astros vs the New York Yankees live.

It's not like seeing the Yankees play is a life long dream of mine, but it's somebody's and someone out there has died not ever accomplishing this life long goal, and there's something to be said for accomplishing other people's lifelong dreams. A sort of beautiful saccharine joy. Kidding aside though, I got to go to the game with Rich and a fried of both Rich and Mike, and I had a great time hanging out with them. After that, the three of us went to Flying Saucer and had a pretty good time.

Slept in and felt great on Saturday. Relaxed and played games. Finally around 5:30 or so Rich swung by and we went out to Souther Star Brewery for Oktoberfest. I had a great time with a whole bunch of friends. Delicious food, delicious beer, and great company. Finally went home late at night and just totally lost consciousness.

Sunday evening? Breaking Bad series finale. Had a great time. Cooked queso with Sean and Scott. Guac and sour cream. Tons of chips. Then Breaking Bad and the first episode of a new season of Bob's Burgers, and a great episode at that.

And Sunday night I had no work. Took the night off to fully enjoy Breaking Bad with friends. Spent all of Monday relaxing and chatting and working on small nothing projects.

All in all a crazy good week. Working hard on making this week just as good.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

It's Time To Look at the Big Picture

I've put together a Steam Machine early this year, using windows for the games availability, and I wanted to use it with the AMD APUs to test out some really affordable hardware options  and I have been incredibly surprised by the quality of performance I've gotten.

There are some really big improvements I wish Steam could do that would push Big picture mode a long way. I wish I could be logged into both my living room PC and my bedroom PC without having to worry about whether or not I've logged off already and will need to re-type my credentials if I accidentally log in some where new while my old machine is still running. I can see needing to be told that a game is being played and not being able to play a game while the other profile is, but that looks like it's being addressed by game sharing.

One thing the Steam Big Picture can't do right now is have multiple user profiles logged in simultaneously. There are already some great games that support local multiplayer, Dungeon Defenders, and Monaco to name a few. This is something that consoles have been able to do this entire generation and I'm a little spoiled for it.

The ability to browse and play media from inside the client. Movies, music, etc.

The things I can tell you're trying to fix, and just need to improve on, fixing game launcher issues. Skyrim still requires a mouse to start the game and in game requires a keyboard to type things. Rocksmith requires a keyboard in game to type things but the big picture mode shell prevents the keyboard from working inside of it at all. Etc. Bugs in general.

Aside from that, Big Picture mode is making amazing strides, and I would be exstatic to play on it as my primary gaming machine in my household and to give my input during its development.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

I Notice When You Don't Talk to Me

I'll tell you the story about the goblin that ate fire.

It was a rotten and greedy goblin. She'd snuck into a giant's house, and because of how giant things work the goblin found she had swollen up to giant size herself. However, the last meal in her belly didn't, because magic is funny that way, and so while she had been just a little bit hungry before, she was famished now that she had a great giant empty belly and only a very very small half digested smack in it.
So she found the dining room, and, sure enough, the giant's table was laid out with an enchanted never ending feast lit with torches and served on gold plates. Even though it was never ending she was so hungry that she tried to eat it all anyway.
The more she ate, the more sprouted magically from the table. The faster she ate it, the faster and quicker it erupted from nowhere.
The great hungry goblin was so ravenous that she was not discouraged, used both hands to shovel every morsel into her vast mouth, hinged so far open that she could no longer see her own hands tirelessly thrusting sustenance down her gullet. Suddenly she gasped and gagged and choked and sputtered, clutching at her throat!
Wheezing and gulping for air she failed about till she fell down on her back, striking so hard against the floor that it dislodged the obstruction in her throat and caused her to choke it down whole.

Still shocked and surprised and out of breath she kept tumbling backward and out of control right through the back kitchen door and out of the house, back to her normal size, and down the steps and off into the woods where she finally lay still.
When she began to feel herself again, she noticed she felt hot all over everywhere, for though she did not know it and had not reasoned it out yet, she had absent-mindedly swallowed the giant's torches .

And great fiery torches of fierce flame lit by dragons they were, though now she was just a very tiny and unassumingly normal goblin.

She went on to be the mother of all goblins, the fire in her belly always destroying whatever she ate, always leaving her hungry and angry, but forever cooking within her unlimited imaginings and ingeniously clever hatreds. And that is why all goblins are so bitter to the core of their bellies, and so clever as to work out any plot or trap or weapon.

Because from then on, all true goblins have had a bit of that stolen fire in their bellies. And it forever drives them to evil madness.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sometimes it's Hard to Get the Message

Well, I've been doing my very best to keep myself occupied. Been doing a lot of small projects, such as building balsa wood air planes and working on coursera classes. I should be getting my grade soon for my most recent class on Startup Engineering. It was an engaging and challenging class that I really enjoyed a lot.

I've been doing a lot of reading in the past few months.

Name of the Wind
Wise Man's Fear
Just a Geek
Big Jack is Dead
World War Z

I haven't watched very many movies. I've gotten free screener passes to a bunch of them that I've just ended up not being able to go to because of being too tired from work or having to go alone. I may end up having to just go alone to most of these. I could have seen Kick Ass 2 forever ago. I really enjoyed watching the first one and the second looks like an excellent followup.

I did see World's End, however, and that was an excellent movie. Probably some of the best acting Simon Pegg has ever done, enjoyable jokes, endearing characters, fascinating storytelling. It really was not done justice by the advertisements for it, which sort of failed to capture the feel of how the movie really was.

I'm going to start taking some more in depth web design classes and learning more about payment gateways and how to set up a merchant website from the ground up. I'd like to see what can be done to really push some of the boundaries on this.

I'll have access to a level 3 VPS from HostGator pretty shortly that should let me play around and really see what I can do. It will be really cool having access to it. I guess I could also play around some with a VPS that George gave me access to as well.

I'm pretty excited to see what I can to to accomplish some new tasks. ALso, it's about time, but I'm going to start drawing again and playing around with some art to see what I can do. Little bit of photoshop, little bit of charcoal, maybe play with some color.

Thursday, August 22, 2013


I wrote a story today. It's not good, but I think it has a weird sort of charm to it.

There once was a boy with an egg. He always had this egg, no matter what. It came with a carton full of other ordinary looking eggs, but this egg would not crack for breakfast no matter how hard he tried to break it. Tap tap tap, he went on the side of the bowl, and then on the pan and then,




It would not break on the counter. He took the egg to the garage and smash, smash, smash he went with the hammer. But the egg would not break, and so he kept it with him. Maybe it was not an egg, but only a perfect egg shaped rock. Who could tell? But it was something special.

He kept the egg with him always. For forty years he kept that egg. He had it with him when he met the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. He had it with him when she agreed to go to the movies with him, when they had their first kiss.

He had it with him when she agreed to marry him. They had kids together, three beautiful girls, adorable from the moment they were born. He had the egg with him when she left him, taking the girls with her.

The egg was still with him the last time his children called him. And years later it was still with him when his parents died. When he lost his job he kept it with him while he worked around the house doing every day chores, and singing to keep his spirits up.

It was the only thing he kept when he lost the house, that and the clothes on his back.

Homeless and alone, he stopped changing clothes, and shaving. He lived wherever he could get shelter from the elements. He grew very skinny, with little to eat, and occasionally not feeling like eating even when he could. There just didn't seem very much point to it.

And so it came to pass, after forty years he sat on a corner of an empty crossroads, no where else to be, and nothing in the world but his rags and an apple he had gotten the day before from a kind stranger and his egg.

He didn't even like the egg, mind you, but what else could he do but keep it?

And so he sat there, on his fiftieth birthday, alone with his egg, when, it began to wobble, and crack, and finally to hatch. Out from inside the egg stepped a full grown unicorn! He was so shocked and surprised that he couldn't even think anything, let alone speak. The unicorn stood there silently, looking at him, and appraising him.

The two stared at each other in total stillness for an hour, before the unicorn flared its nostrils and sniffed the air. It saw the apple on the ground, ate it in one bite, savoring the delicious juices as it chomped down on it; then it turned and left.

It was still several minutes before the boy could think anything, as he was stunned into complete silence, both the apple, the egg, and now the unicorn gone. When finally he thought to himself, "So..."

"Unicorns ARE real!"

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Getting Started with eCommerce

Been trying to get my stuff together to help with the commerce on my business site. I'm drowning a bit here. I don't know whether to do store software or a plugin for the Wordpress main site as is for the site. Finding the right payment gateway is a nightmare. You need a descent set of options for accepting payments, some  way to take credit card sales directly from the site, that requires an SSL, I've got that. Paypal, and Google Checkouts both have to be options. Amazon should be, but is a little harder to find support for.

As for direct credit card gateways? You're either getting high percentages or monthly fees. Monthly fees are right out, because of how inconsistent our businesses, but you have to weigh those monthly fees against the total cost of difference in overall per charge interest.

I'd love to find a book or some kind of resource talking about other people's experiences with this. I know one has to exist, this isn't dark ages. Small business eCommerce is a dinosaur now in terms of evolution. Obviously it's evolved to a modern animal, but still. I want more than I have been able to find.  I guess part of the problem is no one ever should tell you which payment gateway to use, and the vast array of options and needs is so extreme that maybe it's just not possible to tie it all together, and part of the problem is that so many of the options are incredibly worthwhile.

Anyway. I should have something workable up by the end of the month as a reasonable payment gateway, and I've really enjoyed learning about it all. I do wish there were some slightly more accessible resources available that were easy to find.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Death is the Poor Man's Doctor

I really haven't kept up with this in a while. It's a weird sort of private and not private, and I never know who has read it and who hasn't and what I can say about what I'm thinking. Everything in here is honest, but there are some things that I feel and do that I can be a little more expressive about than others. Journal status, though, I'm really enjoying my new job. I've been there almost 5 months and it's been an extremely enriching experience.

I want to spend some time talking about things that haven't changed. I'm still reading a lot. I've read four books in the last month and I feel pretty good about it. I've reread The Name of the Wind, I've read Spin, Just a Geek, and Big Jack's Dead. I am in the middle of re-reading Wise Man's Fear, and I am also in the early parts of Boneshaker. I've watched a ton of video. Most of the really big movies that have been released, many of which are so unmemorable that I couldn't even tell you all of them. I've watched most of Orange is the New Black, which is an excellent show. I've watched House of Cards, which I also enjoyed immensely, as well as the new season of Arrested Development.

I've been expressing myself musically. It's meant a lot to me, the few little songs I know on the guitar. I work hard to expand what I can do and push my boundaries. The music sounds beautiful to me, and I treasure every note that rings out from its grimy strings. I guess it's my fault they're grimy, I can have that effect. Maybe I should change them. They'd sound brighter. I'd just run my fingers up and down them all day again though, and rub off on them, and then they'd just be that way all over again so it feels a little futile till they can't hold a tune.

I guess that's just more mortality for you. I should draw more. I'd really like to draw more. And write.

Things that are new. Job, dog. It's been interesting meeting lots of new people. Lots of new people, it's pretty intimidating to me. I finally made it to a Houston Restaurant Weeks restaurant this year, and that's something I've been trying to do for a few years. It felt pretty good. I got a new desk. That was a long time coming. It was really special and took a long time to pick out because a desk is so important. And then... my chair broke. So now it's time to start working on picking a new office chair. That's something to sigh about.

I've been involved in kickstarer, and even started to reap the rewards of projects I have invested in. A lot has happened with Louisianime, it has really become something very important to me that I am proud of. I've really opened up to some new experiences all around in life.

I'm always sad when you've really invested yourself in a friendship and you get used to talking to someone every day before you notice that you're the only one calling them. You observantly notice, that if you went days without calling them, they just wouldn't talk to you, and all of a sudden you feel like a tool. There are so many nuances to that, you feel unwanted, burdensome, like a living annoyance. After that it's back to trying to moderate being as much friends with them as they are with you.

I'm going to take a week's vacation and go to California in September or October, and visit some new places.

Anyway, I'm really tired right now and it's time for me to get some sleep. I'm going to read and pass out, have a good night, world.

Friday, August 02, 2013

There's A New Member in My Family

Everyone meet Arthur Dent. He just arrived at my household yesterday and has already settled in quite nicely. He enjoys long walks around the neighborhood, cuddling in a lap to watch TV, sleeping, wagging his tail, and eating poop.

We'll see how this goes.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Super Spying

There is an argument that Superman is spying on people when he overhears their private conversations about their evil plans, and this could be construed as all kinds of invasive. However, I just recently had an interesting thought, for Superman, unless he is deliberately taking measure to counter actions that under normal circumstances would genuinely prevent him from hearing or seeing these events were he someplace it is completely acceptable to be, it's not spying if his senses are simply better. At that point it's just doing things where he could see or hear them, I think.

He didn't deliberately acquire these powers for the purposes of invading people's privacy. It's just a different expectation of what privacy means, if you're aware of the implications of Superman's existence. For him, walls that aren't lead lined simply aren't the same things as walls. It's like if someone built a house out of glass, you couldn't be accused of spying if you just watched them through their transparent walls.

It appears comic authors are fine with comics loaded with deeper issues as long as they don't have to talk about them.

This character is just... wasted. There are so many cool questions we could ask. If this character were really alive, what would actually be the legal ramifications of his actions? Is that spying? He could literally put all of his energy into saving people's lives, or preventing them from ever being put in danger to begin with,  so to what extent is he responsible for not doing that if he is simply so good? He could literally kill himself doing as much good as he possibly can and it still wouldn't be enough, because Superman is just one man, and that's not enough to simply save everybody. And is it right to save everybody? Is the sanctity of human life more important than the quality of that life or the capacity to make decisions that might be detrimental to that life? Should Superman even have to think about that?

Any and all of these questions are so interesting, and almost none of them are ever explored, at all, even when Superman is doing things that are questionable, like faking Clark Kent's suicide just to expressly and deliberately antagonize Lois Lane's fragile and caring emotional state just because she wont go out on a date with Clark.

It's not even funny anymore. Almost all exploration of any issue or implementation of a less than heroic nature of Superman is done at this point entirely out of the biased, misogynistic, thoughtless writing that people are able to express when they're hiding behind the pages covered with the cape of heroism. It's the ultimate morality power fantasy. Where you can append moral authority whatever you do. And, I don't think that's wrong from time to time, but you have a character here who is almost exclusively written that way, and he's the first and he should set the model for what the medium is capable of. And he doesn't. For a lot of reasons, he doesn't. And that's why he's the most boring character ever. And that's why all of his stories boil down to him getting beat up, and failing to keep people alive, until he can punch everything better at the end.

He should have to deal with things that can't be punched better.

The things that make you feel the most helpless, and take away all sense of empowerment are the ones you can't fix just by doing what's right. Superman should have to grow up.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Fighting Superman

Zack Snyder is an amazing technical director, who is able to make every single frame of his films visually compelling. His lighting is almost unparalleled and his use of the camera is all around excellent. But I hate him. He can't handle any story with any amount of grace greater than if you were wielding a sledge hammer. All subtlety is driven completely out of his films. In a way that makes him a perfect director for a Superman movie. Every superman story devolves into Superman getting beat up for forever and just not dying until he's able to punch everything better. How is this not the perfect movie for Snyder? Because just because that's the way things are, doesn't mean that's the way things have to be.

This movie was hilarious though. "You're just trying to find out where I hang my cape! Well, I'll never let you find that out. I was raised in Kansas and we're smarter than that there." Paraphrasing of course, but not far off.

I've started taking what looks to be a very cool class on Coursera from Stanford. It's a Startup Engineering course run from Stanford that has a lot of cool emphasis. The final project is to develop an HTML5 crowdfunding site that has bitcoin based merchant services. I'm very excited to start working on this and I've already gotten pretty far with the first week's homework. It's going to be some great practice with the command line interface of a Linux box as well as getting started with communities like Github.

My RAT 5 mouse developed a serious drifting issue, so I replaced it. New mouse has same issue. I am really not keen on this. If it's a hardware problem it sucks, and I need to replace the new mouse which is a pain, and if it's a software problem I might need to reinstall windows to fix it? Eff that. If that's the case, then the RAT mice, for all their amazing features and really cool customization maybe be just completely unusable. Nothing even changed on my computer, it happened after I switched desks, but the mousepad is the same awesome mousepad I've had for forever.

And, I just solved the issue while I was typing this post. My new desk has a lot of metal and vibrated very slightly because of my computer's fans. That slight vibration was causing the sensitive mouse laser to move sporadically. Taking my tower off of its storage hole on my desk fixed the issue instantly. Yay. That blows. Seriously, it's only the slightest vibration, it's amazing that it messes up the pointer that much. Well, that's one of life's problems and mysteries solved. Shame the solution sucks.

This is going to be a rambling post. I know it is.

Back to Superman, and the line of dialog that drove me nuts. Morality is the anchor preventing evolution, immorality is the step in evolution that allows moving beyond the constraints of outmoded societies. Know what's wrong with this statement? The idea that immorality is the evolutionary step as opposed to morality?

Immorality came first. When no one cares about anyone else or about doing the right thing, how can anything advance? Literally every major advancement and effort in the evolution of society in almost the last 200 years has ultimately come from working as a society to create level playing fields, cooperation, open communication, hard work, and a certain level of trust, that while not absolute(the world isn't perfect) is more possible than anything before that time period. Morality is the evolution. It's morality that allows so many people to be greater than themselves. The real evolution after that, is an appreciation for that morality and a subtle understanding of when it is making the world better and when it's holding us back. A good guy, the right type of good guy, can be a million times scarier than any villain. The type of good guy that is tinged with dark edges, but understands that sometimes you have to make hard choices. That hero could be terrifying. Could do terrifying things.

Sunday, June 16, 2013


They happen all the time and they're everywhere around us, but some changes are bigger than others. Some are so small that it takes 30 years before you realize that nothing is the same at all anymore and you feel the magnitude of the change. Every once in a while though you do it consciously and deliberately. Yesterday I got a new computer desk. 17 years is a long time for a 20$ block of particle board to hold together, and my old desk has been with me more reliably than almost anything else I have owned in that entire timeframe, and I had it longer than I had people in my life who I considered to be incredibly important, and that's pretty impressive. I guess, maybe I'm alone in just not considering how long furniture is with you when you don't think about it very much.

I had a lot of anxiety. My new desk had some pretty big shoes to fill and some very specific needs to meet in order to relieve my anxiety over the major alteration. I was at Ikea yesterday when I found just about the most excellent desk possible, for me, with plenty of surface space, tower shelf, room for 2 monitors in parallel, my speakers fit nicer than they ever have on any desk I've had, and a really comfortable zone for my computer chair, keyboard and mouse. And it has cupholders too. So in another 17 years my next desk will have just that much more of a barrier to replace the old one.

As it happens, I also had to replace my phone last week. This happens more frequently, and it's always interesting finding out the little things that you dislike about your new phone. In what ways your new phone is dumb that you took for granted, despite all the ways that it's totally better. Sort of a non equivalence of change in quality. This one separates its internal memory into 1 gig application storage and 4 gigs phone storage, but it's all internal flash, and you can move some of your applications to the phone storage, but you can't actually store anything at all on the SD card that it lets you have installed, so it's like, why even let me plug an SD card in? All fascinating. I still like this phone, though. None of the problems are dealbreakers and it was only 40$. Also, it's a cool bright red color so it feels sort of non standard, very vibrant. In addition,

Yeah. That.

You scream burn the world, but the whole world burns too easy, and you're there in the ashes afterward and you don't know what to build so you build another house of tinder and twigs and even before it's halfway done you can just feel it, that it's just temporary and there's nothing anyone can do to make this world permanent. And you hate every bit of it because it's just made from things that were meant to burn, to catch fire, to spread, and break apart. And you put so much work into it that you love it dearly.

No matter what you make your house, your world, your life out of, I know you can feel it. It was meant to burn down and fall apart because there's nothing inside it that can last but love. Love is like fire, but...

But after everything is burned the fire burns out. Nothing but wisps of smoke and whispers of heat and a fine white ash.

And why did you burn everything to begin with?

Because you were in love and it was made to burn.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Long Time No Blog

Well, I have been a busy boy. From finding new jobs, learning new things, studying new career paths, cooking new foods. Life is changing, all the time, and I'm okay with that. I had a wonderful BBQ this weekend with burgers and hot dogs and smoked fajitas. Justin brought over different kinds of mead to taste test them all, which was really cool. Scott gave me a variety of beers which have all been excellent. My parents are going to help me buy a new computer desk, of which I am badly in need.

I've had my desk since I was in high school. Maybe middle school, I don't really remember because it has been that long. A little particle board monstrosity I keep because it has a solid keyboard tray, good storage space on the right hand side, decent mouse location and space for 2 23" monitors. These features are not easy to find in a desk that fits in the space I need it to fit into. But I'll be working on finding one.

I finished my intro to guitar class at  coursera, and I really enjoyed the challenge and the ability to work with so many passionate and engaged students. One of the reasons I've stuck with guitar so long is the quality of the community surrounding it. It's one of the few instruments with a whole world full of people just absolutely completely willing to share their knowledge  of how to play. But they wont like listening to you, so, that's cool. It's hard to listen to people learn to play instruments, but if you love me you'll listen to my final assignment:

That's right. I played the if you love me card. What are you going to do about it?

I was also given the most epic hat ever, which I have worn pretty religiously. The thing is awesome. However I am determined to prevent there ever being photographic evidence that I have worn it, so good luck finding pictures of it. It's not going to happen.

Memories are good, and I have so many good memories.

I hope everyone is feeling as good today as I am.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

So Much For Legitimately Buying WIndows 8

It turns out that Microsoft sabotaged their own installer to download and backup from via online, and will only provide that service for 99$ as part of an extended warranty of the 40$ upgrade I did for Windows just back in January.

Back to piracy. Look, in 2 seconds I found a functioning installer for Win 8 that I spent a hour trying to find legitimately for the product I paid for.

That's my lesson for paying Microsoft a dime of my money. Never again.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Google Reader and the Rite of Spring

So, when I checked my Google reader feed for the first time today I got the notification that it would be shutting down. I surprisingly went through all the stages of grief. Denial(this can't be right, something must be wrong), anger(What the FUCK, google?), bargaining(There has to be some kind of petition somewhere that I can use to appeal to Google to preserve this tool), depression(I'll never find a reader to take Google's place!), to finally, acceptance( Which, you know, took all of 30 seconds. Seriously, it's not like it's an entitlement. Being a permanent tab on every browser I open(Tab 1 email, tab 2 RSS reader) is a privilege. That's ad space, and I'm an attentive consumer who cares when I see something I want to buy. It took a great product at the right time at the right place to get Google into that spot, and in 30 seconds it was gone, and not because someone had taken it from them. They gave it up and I needed to replace it and there was no reason to give them a single penny in ad revenue for the privilege of clinging to a product that they don't want me to have. Good riddance.

Life is exciting, I have so many cool things coming up that I am all a tingle. Rite of Spring at the Wortham Center tonight, Irish folk stories at the tea shop on sunday, new job and still old job all week next week, being M.C. for the Habitat for Humanity fundraiser dinner next weekend, and so on and so forth. It's all a bit overwhelming how quickly everything is happening. And how delicious good beer is. Mmmm... Goooooood beeeeer.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Dental Appointments and Costumed Heroes

Really enjoyed the original, and looking forward to the sequel. The trailer looks really good.

I got my dental appointment for tomorrow. One of my teeth has been really bothering me and now that I have my tax return I should be able to afford to get it taken care of. Been a while since I've been to a dentist, but they don't really bother me. Never really hurts, and they always help with something wrong. Anyway, this ruthless rye ale is delicious, and so is this mexican chicken with the mole sauce that Scott made from scratch. Today is a good day.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

It's Been Too Long

First off, I want to share something beautiful I found:

I love those things. I could never get tired of how beautiful they are. The combination of music and the accelerated revelation of the product of hours of work and care is just really amazing.

I watched OZ: The Great and Powerful this week, and I liked it a lot. I felt it had a lot more potential than it took advantage of, and there were a few really thin parts, but overall the film was very solid and creative. Definitely go see it if you have fond memories of Wizard of Oz.

I got a new job last week, and I'll be starting on monday. That's cool. Also, Habitat for Humanity feels I'm worth putting on stage as an M.C. for one of their fundraising events. I guess they were desperate enough to just grab any old homeless person off the street... well, as long as they had a suit to wear for the event. So, no actual homeless people. Unless there are some very well dressed ones out there.

It's late and I am tired. I will post more tomorrow, hope all is well with the world, I'll see you folks later.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Turducken My Favorite Frankenmeat

So, I definitely cooked one of these for Christmas this year. The fabled turducken. I learned to debone all three birds, make corn bread stuffing from scratch, and then I DID IT. I made a legendary beast this holiday season and it was AMAZING. One of the best tasting christmas birds EVER. All the flavors were brilliantly blended together. If I were to do anything differently, I'd be more careful with the construction. The swelling of the dressing caused my turkey exterior to burst like that guy's chest in that one scene in alien. I would also thaw the turkey sooner, I think. Also, I would have liked to use a spicier sausage in the cornbread stuffing. All in all, though, the flavors came out amazing, and every single bite just POPPED. I would probably also stitch the bird closed instead of just trying to hold it together, which worked okay, but made getting it into the oven bag a little difficult.

It took a little over 6 hours for me to put the thing together, though. So, I think I could definitely accelerate that kind of prep. Either way, though, after eating it, I have decided to do another one next year.

It occurs to me that I definitely do learn several things every day. I actually do consider a day where I have learned nothing to be wasted, and maybe I would do well to share that here a little more.

The things I have been learning today are relatively minor. I've been learning how to get the most out of the Fantasy and Science Fiction literature course that I am taking from I'm fascinated by the course and am looking forward to sharing my reading experience with so many people at once.

Monday, January 07, 2013


I think if steam really followed through on producing a console that delivered a significant number of games and made their experience truly cross platform between their hardware and linux and windows and mac so that if you bought a game once you could play it on any machine that the code supported playing it on and that you own... I do not say this lightly, but I literally see the winner of the console wars for all time.. and it's basically a PC.

I generally feel that in order for a technology to die it needs to be completely replaced and have every single function it provides be eclipsed by a superior device. In short, the new thing needs to do everything the old thing did, but better, and then do some more. People have said for years that console gaming would kill PC gaming. But this was always erroneous and short sighted. A console could never fill the function of what a PC represents.

Consoles wont die. I mean, the function of having a standard set of hardware that lasts for a generation is what a console is. A Steam box will still be a console, but it will bring everything to the console space that corner of the market can handle that none of the other hardware manufacturers have been able to do. It's been DISGUSTING watching them flounder around and take advantage of a market that doesn't know what it's missing or that can't get it's style of fix from a competitor that offers it better.

Those days look like they are nearly at an end for now.
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