Yep, I've been absent. . .

Haven't posted in the last couple of days. To be honest, I've been pretty busy with things, and since I have been avoiding political topics, there hasn't been much to update.

So, here's the last few days in a nutshell:

1) I've forgotten just how hard it is to build up a "pool" of gamers from the ground up. I've been running demos of a game at my Friendly Local Game Store (FLGS), and while there have been a few minor nibbles, I am certainly not turning away players. It's getting better, but it may well be months before the frustration and disappointment is replaced by a group of friendly opponents.

2) I've finally decided to risk it and actually try selling terrain as more than a hobby. I'm not a business yet, but I hope to change that by next year. It's not going to be easy, and probably not all that much fun, but I can face failure. I can't face not trying. Besides, right now, I am only risking my "fun money" for Gen-Con Indy.

3) Frustration at home. Kevin can say "uck" and "mama", with some additional babbles that are like proto-words. "Dada" is still beyond him, and I doubt that he wanders the house looking for me when I am not here. I know he loves me, and I get cerain faces from him that my wife doesn't, but still . . . . I am waiting to hear "dada". Someday, someday.


Yay! Snow at last, snow at last. . . .

It's finally snowing again. I've waited for this day for weeks. I finally got to haul out the snowblower and use it again. It's still really pricey on a per use basis, but it's a heck of a lot easier than shovelling all the driveway.

I was beginning to think that winter was over.

Bleah, sick again

This should have been posted Wednesday night or Thursday, but I never got around to it:

Kevin is sick again. Just a fever this time, with no other symptoms. We're giving him OTC baby medicine, and the fever does reduce. We'll call a doctor if things worsen or it goes for more than a day.


Well, he ran a fever until sometime in the wee hours of Friday morning. He work up Friday full of vim and vigor, and there was never a need to take him to a doctor. This second bout with a random bug was a lot less unnerving than the first - a lot less messy, a lot less worisome, and now we've had some practice.


So, how's he driving?

For Valentine's Day (or, more likely, just because), we gave Kevin a truck. Now, I'll be the first to admit that he has some kewl toys, and sitting there playing with him is just plain fun. But, I was a little disturbed with this truck.

See, you'll notice that the truck in question is a tractor-trailer rig, and it comes with a loading dock and some crates of stuff to put into the trailer. All fine and dandy, but if you look closely, you'll see that the driver has a cell phone in one hand, and a thermos in the other. Aside from the fact that six-year-olds don't need to drink coffee (regardless of any medical benefits), I still want to know how this kid is driving a semi with both hands full.

Sure, it's a toy. But parents worry about the values their kids learn when playing with toy guns. How many parents are going to look at this and worry about what it's teaching their kids about vehicular safety?


Who wants to live forever, anyway?

I ran across this article today. Now, the concept of nigh-immortality is kinda kewl and all, assuming that we can solve the inevitable population issues, plus allocation of resources, legal issues, etc.

But what really worried me was this quote from the article:

Kurzweil writes of millions of blood cell-sized robots, which he calls "nanobots," that will keep us forever young by swarming through the body, repairing bones, muscles, arteries and brain cells. Improvements to our genetic coding will be downloaded via the Internet. We won't even need a heart.

It's the part in bold that concerns me. If this all comes to pass, then you really could order PenilEnlargement 2.7 or Bust Enhancement 4.6 from on-line vendors. Of course, you might inadvertantly install OrganFailure 1.8 or PenileReduction 9.3, so I suspect that anti-virus software might take on a whole new meaning.

I'm not sure that immortality is ever going to be achieved. I can envision lifespans of a thousand years, but I'm not sure that many people have the temperment to deal with all the changes it would bring.


It always pays to be really sure. . . .

In honor of Valentine's Day, I offer this story. Just the first four paragraphs are sufficient to remind you that, if proposing in a public locale, be very, very, very, sure that the other party will say "Yes".

Kill myself? But I hardly know you. . .

According to various news sources, there were plans to have a mass suicide today. Fortunately, someone spilled the beans, and it may have been averted. Still, it has me wondering. . .

How exactly do you convince someone to commit suicide? It's not as though you can claim to have tried it yourself.

Why do people actually believe that other people, whom they do not know, will also commit suicide along with them?

At least one of the stories indicates that the alleged matermind was luring women to come to his house, bring the children, engage in certain sexual acts with them, and then hang themselves. I'm not sure that "vulnerable" or "depressed" is the proper term for anyone who would seriously contemplate this.

I mean, think of the pickup line:

Hey baby. Why don't you and your kids come up to my place on Valentines Day? Some other female friends will be there. We'll all have a good time, and then you and your kids can hang youselves from my rafters.

I'd add more, but words fail me.

An idea for Food Network

I don't have time for much TV anymore, but I do try to watch Food TV a couple times per week. I like to cook, and some of the shows are either educational (like Good Eats), or at least entertaining (like Iron Chef).

I do have mixed emotions on almost every program, however. It's not that they make things seem easy - I am aware that there is a substantial support staff, chopping, slicing and dicing away to make these shows work. No, it's the ingredients that give me pause. I don't mind that, on Iron Chef, they ise esoteric ingredients. No problem. It's a competition, and a showcase, so cook pull out the lark's tongues, and sea gull testicles, and mushrooms grown only at a certain altitude and picked on Wednesdays.

But what bugs me is the shows for the "average" cook do it too, though not to the same extent. I suppose you could argue that every well-stocked kitchen should have these things, but, less face it - Americans eat too many meals out of a wrapper or box for the average kitchen to be "well-stocked".

What they need is a show for a more average kitchen. One where the chef opens up the cupboard and the fridge, ponders for a minute, and then proceeds to use those ingredients to make somethign edible. Sure, some things will be a little more specialized, but won ton wrappers would be a lot easier to get ahold of than lark's tongue.


A random thought

The local news tonight is leading off with this soundbite:

Heroin is here in West Michigan, and it's killing young people.

And I started thinking: why is it that you never hear about older people dying from (illegal) drugs. (We're going to ignore tobacco, alcohol, etc for this post.) If heroin/crystal meth/crack/etc are all terribly addictive (and they are), then shouldn't there be some baby boomers keeling over due to an OD?

Maybe illegal drugs (and, to be fair, the legal ones above) simply kill most users well before they reach middle age. In which case, you can always think of it as evolution in action.


Let it snow, let it snow. . .

Once again, we have gotten snowfall. Instead of a serious 4"-6", we got barely a measly 1". That's just enough to cover the roads, but not enough to actually cover the grass in the yard, and I'm steamed about it.

See, when we moved here, all the information we had pointed to an average snowfall of 70" per year. Now sure, I know that this means that there could be 70 separate, individual occurances of snowfall, each averaging about 1", but people told us that we could expect some "serious" snow. One inch of snow is not serious.

Anyway, since we have a longer driveway than we did in Omaha, I decided that we need a snowblower. Yes, the decision was pretty unilateral - I shovel the snow, so if I don't want to break my back doing it all winter, I thought that I should do something about it.

So, we got one. And it's a beauty. 5.5 horsepower, 24" clearing width, 2-stage. If I had to, I could clear the entire street. I planned on using it to clear our driveway, and then a couple neighbors. Then, once it's warmed up, I could go up and down the street. Heck, I'd call the citry and tell them to forget about the snowplows, just send me some ice.

So, I'm bummed.

We've been here almost 2 months, in the middle of winter, and I've gotten to use it once. There were a couple snows early on, where I could have justified it, but only barely. But aside from that one decent snowfall, there's been nothing to speak of. I cannot justify taking it out to clear off a measly inch. That's like using a blast furnace to roast marshmellows.

Sucks to be a smoker. . .

Now, let me start by saying that I do not smoke. It's definitely not a habit I would want to cultivate, and I really do not enjoy being in places where I have to breathe in someone else's nicotene exhaust.

Now that I've said that, I think that this is just wrong. I have no problem with a company designating themselves as a no-smoking area, and refusing to even have an area where employees who do smoke can puff away in piece. But, telling employees who smoke in their own homes that they are fired strikes me as incredibly un-American.

What's worse is that he also plans to go after people who are overweight (unless they are obese, in which case they are legally protected). Personally, while I would start looking for another job if I worked there, if I were close to the legally obese benchmark, I'd actually eat more, in order to save my job. Talk about a self-defeating idea there.

I can understand what he is trying to do. Smokers and overweight (or inactive) workers can help drive up insurance costs. But rather than punish those who smoke, why not offer bonuses to those who don't?


Not sure if the story is true. . . .

Found notice of this story, first via News of the Weird (or some such), and while I am still looking for corroboration from a New Mexico paper, I am not inclined to dismiss this as another urban legend.

You would think if one party is disputing the very existence of the child, someone might want to check the actual veracity of the claim. I realize that, typically, children are not present at support hearings, but since one party is claiming that the child does not, in fact, exist, surely someone in the legal system should have ordered that the child be produced to the court.

Anyone want to put odds on (1) whether or not he gets his money back; and (2) whether or not she does time for fraud?


Superbowl commercials (jeers and cheers)

Okay, the game is over. IF you want to know the details of the game, try google or espn. I'm going to devote my space here to the important part: the commercials.

Let's start with the cheers. Here are some commericals which I enjoyed, in no particular order:

Ford - just the thought of a bunch of tough bikers, intimidating everyone on the road, blanching at the sight of a row of (Ford) trucks in front of a bar amused me. The excuses from the bikers made the commerical really funny.

Fedex - the announcer said that they had determined the ten things necessary for a successful Super Bowl commercial (celebrity, attractive women, cute kid, pop song, bonus scene, groin kick, animal, etc). I enjoyed this one.

Bud light - They (as usual) had some good ones, but one stood out in my mind. It had two guys talking about what, besides beer, they would want on a tropical island. The one guy says "2 women" and starts dreaming about it - whereupon both berate him for not doing his "honey-dos".

Ameriquest - they had a couple good ones. The basic theme was "Don't judge too quickly." The cat one was okay, but the "You're being robbed" was much better.

Visa - I liked the superheroes, but I've always thought that Underdog desevered more credit.

Degree - the new line of action figures (Mama's Boy, Suck-up and Wuss) should be availabe in stores soon.

Diet Pepsi - the long version of the P. Diddy commercial was pretty decent. It shows how some random act by a star can pervade all culture.

No cheers, but no jeers go to CareerBuilder.com (the monkeys were okay, but it didn't wow me), Pepsi's itunes promotion (it's going to be getting annoying in the coming weeks, I promise), and Ford's Mustang commercial (I saw it three times tonight - it almost made the jeers, and if I see it again, it still might.)

Jeers go to Staples, Taco Bell and Quizno's. Okay, Superbowl commercials cost about $2.4 million, so cough up the extra $500k and make a new commercial, okay?

There were some good movie trailers - I'm going to hunt them down and watch them again though before posting anything on them.

America is. . . .Mr Incredible?

I ran across a link to this article. Basically, the idea is that (1) the superhero is a uniquely American creation; and (2) Mr. Incredible (from the movie, The Incredibles), is a good metaphor for modern America.

Now, several people on a board discussing this are disagreeing with the first point. They point out that virtually every ancient culture had heroes with powers beyond those of normal peoples. These heroes often wore disguises, or could change shapes, and so had secret identities. They also (some of them, anyway), fought crime, changed the world, were faster than a speeding arrow, and got kittens out of trees. Although, to be fair, they wore furs, armor or other attire, instead of sensible Spandex.

I see their point, but I do not concede it. The difference between the superhero and the legendary heroes of old is that the modern hero risks their life not just for personal gain, nor for their family or tribe. They do it for total strangers, sometimes protecting a city, but just as often protecting their country or the world. Second, the mythic heroes were not "good" in the modern sense of the world - some killed wantonly, some were outright sadistic. Until the rise of the anti-hero, superheroes wore the white hats. They might cause harm to those around them, but indirectly, and felt compelled to make ammends after - so the moral tone is decidedly different.

I don't entirely agree with the "America is Mr. Incredible" metaphor, anyway. To my mind, Mr. Incredible is more characteristic of a silver or golden age hero - namely, that, if anything, he represents an ideal America. No, I think there might be a better heroic metaphor for modern America - I just haven't decided who it is yet.


Makes sense to me. . ..

Iraq has called for a return of the money in the Oil For Food program. If the money that was supposed to be for the benefit of Iraqi citizens was indeed mismanaged/embezelled/whatever, then it should be returned to their government (when it is fully created and elected). At the very least, Iraq should not have to pay the fees for investigating the scandal. That's akin to being charged by the police when they come to investigate a robbery.


A bank service that I don't want

I saw a commerical last night, though I don't remember the exact bank. Anyway, there is a customer saying that she wants free ATMs in numerous, convenient locations, free checking, friendly tellers, a free toaster with each savers plus account, kittens, etc. The usual list of services that banks routinely offer in order to presude customers to drop off big piles of cash. So far, I'm kewl with all these - I like using an ATM as much as anyone, and I hate having to hunt for one where I won't be charged a fee.

And then she adds one about how she wants her bank to email her when there is suspicious activity on her account, so she can verify it. I don't want that - and if I find that my bank starts doing it, I'll switch banks. I don't want my bank to contact me other than by snail mail.

Why? One email accounts that don't have spam blockers, I routinely get anywhere from 5 to 10 phishing attempts per week. Now, since I don't have an account with MegaGlobalCompuHyperNet Bank and Trust, I can pretty much assume that any email from them with the subject line "Problem with your account. Please verify" is going to be false without having to open it.

If it's from my bank, I might actually have to look into it. I got one today from "ebay" that did a pretty good job off looking authentic - none of the usual typos and mispellings here. The source code is wrong, and the url is definitely not the real sign-in, but pretty good job.

Anyway, I don't want random emails from my bank. In a perfect world, they might be useful, but until phishing doesn't work so well, no thanks.


The day the music died

Not that many people in my generation care, but today, Feb 3, in 1959, a red-and-white single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza took off from Clear Lake, Iowa, bound for Fargo, North Dakota. It would never reach its detiniation, crashing shortly after takeoff.

That plane carried Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. Richardson (the "Big Bopper").

That fateful crash inspired the song American Pie.

I hate being sick

As I said in a previous post, Kevin has been sick. He was over the worst of it by Tuesday night, just in time for me to start coming down with it. It's not too bad, as minor illnesses go - it lasts about a day and a half, and then you get over it.

I've never liked being sick. Actually, I don't know anyone who actually enjoys it, but I do know some people who are willing to put up with the minor aches or sore throat, because they can sleep, watch TV, and lounge around in their PJs all day. (Some people call that life college.)

Not me. When I get sick, I sleep. And it's not just sleep, it's a total discontinuity in my existence. My wife came home yesterday afternoon, and I went to bed. And that's mostly what I remember of yesterday. There are snippets here and there, but it's like watching a movie with random scenes cut out of it.

I hate it. My memory is pretty good, and these gaps just disturb me. Bleh.


The subtle joys of parenting

Kevin is sick. Not really, really sick, the kind that requires hospitalization, but sick enough that he has now vomitted on me three or four times today. Plus, he's gotten his carseat, the floor (tile), a chair, and a goodly amount of clothing. Toss in some diarrhea, and it has not been a pleasant afternoon.

It's not fun cleaning up after it. Tomorrow won't be fun either, since he is not supposed to get more than an ounce or so of fluids at a time during the day. I can increase that if he can keep things down, but I think I'll be a little more cautious on that.

Still, I don't mind doing it (though I do not enjoy it, either). After all, he's sick, and he cannot help himself. It's not as though he set out to make today difficult. He didn't plan on being sick. It just happened.

Lots of things in life just happen. Some good, some bad, some odd. The trick lies in learning how to enjoy life because of, in spite of, and due to all of the above.