Sunday, January 17, 2016

A Year in Reading 2015

15666 pages.  42 pages a day.  about 1/3 less than in 2014.  That's sort of disappointing, although 15000 is more in line with the high end of what I read on average in a year.  And my average rating was 7.35, off by .04 from the previous year, so perhaps I should celebrate consistency.

This is always a good time to review what I rated wrong, however.  I'd push Wytches (a graphic novel) down.  In retrospect, I didn't really enjoy it.  Ditto for Afterworlds and Mort(e), although I enjoyed Mort(e) as something different.  I'd add that the Corum books aren't really a 9 by any sort of unbiased standard - I just really like them personally and they take me back to my youth when I'd ride my bike to the flea market to buy 10 books for a dollar, or to the library in Monticello to load up.

I had a lot of 1's, which really hauled down the average because I read some exceptional books this year.  Sixth Extinction, City of Sin, Chicks Dig Gaming, Smekday, You're Never Weird on the Internet, Sex on Earth, Last of the Doughboys, What If, and at least two tech-related books.  There's a pattern there - I'm having much more luck with non-fiction than with fiction. Revival by Stephen King and Smekday being exceptions. I picked up Smekday at Uncle Hugo's because I needed something to read in case I had to wait for Kyle before our tour of the Sears Building Neighborhood after I biked up there.  I had no ideas it was a movie (Home) and Eryn and I later watched the movie.  The book is a thousand times better than the movie.  Revival might not be everyone's cup of tea (the average on Amazon is a 4 out of 5) and the fact that many Stephen King fans hate it (per the reviews) is probably why I like it - I'm a sucker for a good Cthulhu story.  I won't argue that it could have been a short story instead of a big book, but if you're reading King you're generally accepting that a lot of pages come with the story.

Here's the list from 2014 and I'll note that Mira Grant's Parasite STILL makes me angry.  It was on a "things you should read in 2015" list I was using to create a 2016 Amazon wishlist and gave me flashbacks.

Btw, if Justinian gets out here and wonders where Iron Heel is, I had 10 pages left (seriously), so it goes on the front of the 2016 list.

Books Read 2015
12/21/2015 Lucky Peach (Issue 17, Winter 2015) 7.00
12/20/2015 Sixth Extinction, The: An Unnatural History Kolbert, Elizabeth 9.00
12/13/2015 Armada Cline, Ernest 1.00
12/5/2015 Michael Moorcock's Elric Vol. 2: Stormbringer Julien Blondel (Moorcock, Michael) 1.00
12/3/2015 Michael Moorcock's Elric Vol. 1: The Ruby Throne Julien Blondel (Moorcock, Michael) 1.00
12/1/2015 Number of the Beast, The Heinlein, Robert A. 8.00
11/22/2015 Secondhand Souls (sequal to A Dirty Job) Moore, Christopher 5.00
11/18/2015 Oak and the Ram, The (Corum 5) Moorcock, Michael 8.50
11/16/2015 Bull and the Spear, The (Corum 4) Moorcock, Michael 8.50
11/15/2015 New 52, The: Futures End (Volume 3) Azzarell, Brian 1.00
11/10/2015 New 52, The: Futures End (Volume 2) Azzarello, Brian 4.00
11/5/2015 Building Microservices Newman, Sam 9.00
11/5/2015 Little Printf, The (Why Do We Code?) Hebert, Fred 7.50
11/3/2015 Nemesis Games (The Expanse, book 5) Corey, James S.A. 8.00
11/1/2015 Critical Failures (Caverns and Creatures Book 1) Bevan, Robert 3.00
11/1/2015 Justice League Dark: Volume I Milligan, Peter and Mikel Janin 1.00
10/31/2015 Dragon in the Sword, The (Eternal Champion 3) Moorcock, Michael 7.00
10/31/2015 Agile Metrics in Action Davis, Christopher W. H. 8.00
10/28/2015 Lucky Peach (Issue 16, Fall 2015) 6.50
10/27/2015 Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse (collection) Adams, John Joseph (editor) 8.00
10/26/2015 King of the Swords, The (Corum 3) Moorcock, Michael 9.00
10/24/2015 Queen of the Swords, The (Corum 2) Moorcock, Michael 9.00
10/22/2015 Knight of the Swords, The (Corum 1) Moorcock, Michael 9.00
10/5/2015 Phoenix in Obsidian: Being the Second Book of the Eternal Champion Moorcock, Michael 8.75
10/3/2015 New 52, The: Futures End (Volume 1) Azzarello, Brian 7.00
10/3/2015 Eternal Champion, The: A Fantastic Romance (1) Moorcock, Michael 8.75
10/1/2015 Deadpool by Daniel Way: The Complete Collection - Volume 3 Way, Daniel 7.50
10/1/2015 Wytches: Volume 1 Snyder, Scott 7.00
9/15/2015 True Meaning of Smekday, The Rex, Adam 9.00
9/1/2015 You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) Day, Felicia 9.00
7/13/2015 City of Sin: London and Its Vices Arnold, Catharine 9.50
6/25/2015 Afterworlds Westerfeld, Scott 7.50
6/1/2015 Chicks Dig Gaming: A Celebration of All Things Gaming by the Women Who Love It Valentte, Catherynne (editor) 10.00
5/28/2015 Spirit Rising: My Life, My Music Kidjo, Angelique 7.50
5/15/2015 Thief of Always Barker, Clive 7.00
5/1/2015 Confederated Justice Scott, Jim D 7.50
4/20/2015 Deadpool by Daniel Way: The Complete Collection - Volume 2 Way, Daniel 8.00
4/15/2015 Sex on Earth: A Journey Through Nature's Most Intimate Moments Howard, Jules 10.00
4/10/2015 Holy Cow Duchovny, David 7.00
4/1/2015 Deadpool by Daniel Way: The Complete Collection - Volume 1 Way, Daniel 7.50
3/22/2015 PragPub: The Second Iteration (Issue #69, March 2015) Various 8.00
3/22/2015 PragPub: The Second Iteration (Issue #66, December 2014) Various 7.50
3/22/2015 Revival King, Stephen 9.00
3/18/2015 Mort(e) Repino, Robert 8.50
3/15/2015 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works--A True Story Harris, Dan 8.25
3/14/2015 Zeus is Dead: A Monstrously Inconvenient Adventure Munz, Michael G 7.50
3/2/2015 Fortunately, the Milk Gaiman, Neil 9.00
2/20/2015 The Last of the Doughboys: The Forgotten Generation and Their Forgotten World War Rubin, Richard 10.00
2/3/2015 Koko Takes a Holiday Shea, Kieran 7.50
1/25/2015 PragPub: The Second Iteration (Issue #64, October 2014) Various 7.50
1/25/2015 American Born Chinese Yang, Gene Luen 9.00
1/25/2015 Rat Queens: Volume One: Sass and Sorcery Wiebe, Kurtis J. and Roc Upchurch 8.00
1/18/2015 PragPub: The Second Iteration (Issue #65, November 2014) Various 7.50
1/16/2015 Your Emails Are Bad and You Should Feel Bad Cards Against Humanity 7.50
1/15/2015 War of the Words, The (Adventure Classics) Wells, H.G. 8.00
1/15/2015 Acceptance: the Southern Reach Trilogy Book 3 Vandermeer, Jeff 7.25
1/14/2015 Your Code As a Crime Scene: Use Forensic Techniques to Arrest Defects, Bottlenecks, and Bad Design in Your Programs Tornhill, Adam 9.00
1/3/2015 what if? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions (by the creator of xkcd) Munroe, Randall 10.00

Fahrenheit 451

I'm not blogging because of  New Year's resolution - I never do anything because of  New Year's resolution.

We went to Fahrenheit 451 at Theatre in the Round on Friday night.  The acting wasn't superlative, and the story is a little long winded in places because Bradbury turned book lectures into dramatic monologues (he wrote the screenplay himself), but it was still very enjoyable and a nice addition to the Shakespeare and Christie we sometimes see there.  Montag and Mildred (his wife) were believable, and Captain Beatty definitely had a psycho/evangelist/true believer vibe.

The set was well done for a minimalist attack.  They papered over the props/furniture, and it was modular so they could reuse it for walls and blocks and a sofa to switch between the fire station, Mildred's living room, and outside the town.

Their choice of books to burn amused me - I wonder if they bought my company's books by the pound or if someone is a lawyer in their spare time.

The play is VERY different from the book, but I'd read the book so long ago I couldn't quite remember all the details.  Apparently Bradbury modeled the play after the movie.  I had to go check the plot notes at Wikipedia, and they confirmed Beatty was a much worse character in the book, met a much more violent end (burned alive vs. a dog, although the dog noises in the play were scary, sort of Cloverfield-ish; they're releasing Cloverfield 2 btw, trailer here), and the book memorizers made more sense because there was a threat that civilization might end, at least temporarily, so the threat of no books meant not carrying forward culture after a catastrophe.

By the way - the Wikipedia page has a section on F451 being banned if you're into irony [link to a post on some local book burning].  The idea of burning the Bible, not the actual fact of it, was what triggered the ban.

Eryn was excited because the program talked about a video game from 1984.  I told her I'd owned it (and you can get a copy for emulation on DosBox) and that what I remembered more than anything else was the dogs.  It made me appreciate that some people really miss the days of text games when the focus was on the story and not open world.  Eryn's been playing Life Is Strange lately which seems to attempt to get back to some of that story telling while not losing the modern gaming approach.

We went to Town Hall prior to the play.  We were trying to go to Ramen Kazama, but the place was absolutely packed as we drove by, with people standing around waiting for tables. It worked out, because TiTR had given us a 20% off one meal coupon we used on Eryn's steak (she's a steak fiend), and Pooteewheet tried the Three Hour Tour Chestnut (in a tulip glass despite not a high level of alcohol) and agreed with this reviewer who said: "Shit gets Cadburry real quick..."

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Arrow Awards 2015

I won tickets to the Arrow Awards, so I picked a date that allowed us to celebrate our 22nd annivesary.  We got an extra ticket for Eryn, went to Christo's for a family dinner, and then enjoyed the best advertising has to offer.  A warning...this is full of spoilers if you're going to the awards at the Walker at some point.  If you not, they're usually public domain (e.g. on YouTube), so I'll share the ones I liked that weren't particularly serious (there were some good commercials for the anniversary of WWI in the UK, Fuck the Poor, anti-Elephant Riding, anti-domestic violence, et al. If you want to see a more in depth play list, someone has put one together out on YouTube at

Sainsbury's Christmas 1914

Levi's Just Don't Bore Them

Jagermeister Journey to Surf

Netflix Superfan

Three - Sing it Kitty

Dave of MoneySuperMarket gets Bootylicious

Call to Arms (known by Lynx in the UK)

Merry Beeping Christmas (Oral B)

M&S Back to School

John Lewis Monty the Penguin

Tuesday, December 08, 2015


We had a series of card game design events on my team.  I broke up the traditional teams and had them design card games using a.) preferably a work or developer/quality theme, b.) a card making framework (I had examples in javascript and Ruby with modifications), c.) paper prototyping if they didn't want to use a framework.  They had an hour to design, minimal follow up to firm up their rules and give me a paper or printable prototype, and then we spent an hour at a subsequent meeting rotating the games between the teams for play testing.

The goal was a.) to design, b.) to see how hard it is to write good documentation and acceptance criteria, c.) do some testing and modifications to adjust based on the findings, and d.) do it in a way that was fun, because I find aspects of our tech jobs to be fun, we just lose sight of it.

Afterwards, everyone voted, and the four folks on the winning team had a playoff to determine who picked their prize first out of four different commercial card games (Coup, Batman Love Letter, Release!, and Guillotine).  My door was closed, but glass, so as people walked by they observed four people laughing and playing cards with this on the white board behind them.  The game that won was called Year End Review (initially a bit tongue in cheek and no one won, everyone walking away with a subpar review, but cleaned up for team play and upper management), but that wasn't obvious if you didn't know the backstory.  So you could watch people pause momentarily outside my door and ponder the players and the sign and look really confused.  Which means they were pondering whether I was making my reports play cards to determine their annual rating.  Admittedly, not necessarily the worst approach, and better than some, but not what we were doing.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Mrs. Kelly's Teas 2015

I was watching for the repeat of Mrs. Kelly's Teas annual tasting event this year.  Eryn had a great time last year, so we got up so we could be there when it opened: a good way to score a table and some time before it's too crowded.  After dropping off our foodshelf donation, we found a table in the Mrs. Kelly's building with a hot water dispenser and got to work.  Our goal, to taste 33 teas.  One more than in 2014.  It took me a few teas before I realized I had the 2014 list available, so we had some overlap.  But we tried a lot of new tea.  And then settled right back on the three we liked from last year: Holiday, Minneapple Green, and Vanilla Orange (Roobios).  Although we did add a bag of Green Lemon to the mix.

Here's the warehouse.  You can tell because at the very top of the photo, you can see the word "warehouse".  During the event there's also some cheesecake and chocolate if you bring your credit card and some cash (as well as some jewelry and honey and art).

Mrs. Kelly's is just this room (three little rooms) off the main hall.  Here's Eryn toward the end of the event, thoroughly caffeinated.  She got a compliment on her Dr. Who hat and I was complimented on my Serenity sweatshirt.  There were quite a few folks in Dr. Who gear, including a sweatshirt that was a faux ugly holidays sweater with the Tardis on it, and a handbag with a Tardis.  So, although there were plenty of older women you might mentally associate with tea, there were also a lot of younger women and couples who might be borderline hipster.  It was a fairly mixed crowd.

Although this picture doesn't do anything to prove that.  Perhaps I should have taken a picture of the ladies having a tea party behind us - they were all in their mid to upper twenties.  This is the herbal tea room.  No caffeine to be seen here, just raspberries and peaches and strawberries and the like.

Our list where we started to circle what we drank.  Later we added 2014 next to the 2014 samples.

The tea station with the canisters.  There was another for black/breakfast teas around the corner.  You used the spoons to fill little tea bags (over there in the plastic cup lying on its side).  I'd go find two and report back.  And then Eryn would go find two and report back.  We had an assembly line approach to maximizing our tea tasting.

Here's the setup.  Sometimes we'd write on the sides to make sure we didn't forget what was what.  After enough caffeine it was difficult to focus, even for a few moments.  There was a hot water dispenser at our table - a big one that you pour a few pots of coffee into.  At one point, he had to refill our container.

Me enjoying my tea and still sporting my "long" haircut from Movember (gone as of this moment).

After tea, I let Eryn pick where to eat and we hit The Bad Waitress.  I didn't think we were going to stay because it was full, but while Eryn was in unloading some more tea, two spots at the counter freed up.  I had the matador - hashbrowns and eggs and bacon.  Eryn went hamburger.  We were both happy and neither of us had tea, soda, or coffee.  Go figure.

Teas tried this year (no bananas foster this year!)...ut oh.  That's 32.  Don't tell Eryn I can't count!  Although I think there was one I couldn't find on the list, so that may have been #33.

  1. Black Forest
  2. Creme Brulee (tasted like Vanilla Orange)
  3. Herbal High C 
  4. Peach Mango
  5. Spiced Orange
  6. Sunrise Surprise (Eryn hates it.  We had it in 2014 too).
  7. Yerba
  8. Coconut
  9. Green Lemon
  10. Green Mango
  11. Pear
  12. Pomegrante
  13. Strawberry Lemon
  14. Kenya Gold Tip
  15. Sumby B
  16. Apricot Ginger
  17. Black Currant
  18. Butterscotch
  19. Chai (spicy)
  20. Creme d Raspberry
  21. Equinox
  22. French Vanilla
  23. Ginger Peach
  24. Orange Fruitage
  25. Spiced Orange
  26. Ceylon
  27. English Breakfast
  28. Lapsang (smoky)
  29. Puerh Loose
  30. Yunnan (good breakfast taste)
  31. Peaches and Cream (bleah)
  32. Iron Goddess (just weird despite smelling like breakfast tea)


Getting all my photos and books and things I track in order so I'm organized.  I realized exactly how useful some of my history was when Eryn and I went looking for a list of teas we'd tried last year at Mrs. Kelly's teas.  There are photos, videos, and just general memory floating around I haven't collated.  Books were difficult too, just because I have a mix of purchased, library, and Kindle now and I don't always keep everything up to date.  I did find out that with 21 years of data, I read 13800 pages per year on average, or about 1150 pages per month.  About 3 books a month.  I crunched the numbers because I realized I was coming in way under last year at 14000+ pages.  But last year with 22000+ pages was my readingest year ever.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Guild of Dungeoneering

In her autobiography Felicia Day said I should sometimes focus on things other than video games. Completely forgetting that she and Ryon had reviewed a video game that I put in my steam wish list. She's personally responsible for the hours Eryn and I are wasting playing Guild of Dungeoneering. Or at least 50% responsible.

I've followed the same pattern I use for XCOM and most other turn-based strategy games.  I've named the fighters after family and friends.  Here's Erwood the adventuring chump, and Kyle and Bruiser.  He should have known to call himself Kyle I.  He didn't last long.

See.  Kyle II.  Yet still with that Robert Smith The Cure look.  That's totally like him.

The game lets you build a dungeon around your characters and then engage in card battles with the enemies you place (and a few you don't) to finish the levels.  A bit like Cardhunters, but much more fun and the music - along the lines of Brave Brave Sir Robin - is 1000x better.  As you adventure, you accumulate gold to buy new classes and a few new card types.  The attacks and defense are limited to magic (blue) and physical (red), blocks against those colors, bypassing defense, and speed (go first).  That's 95% of it except for gaining or losing cards beyond your basic three.  Each class and each monster also comes with some special skills (block all damage and your opponent takes a damage for instance) to vary the pace.  I like the ranger with his speed.  Very easy character to play.

There's also a trophy room and, best of all, a cemetery. Here you can see the tombstones of those who have gone before.  Jen's name fits on her tombstone, but calling her Jennife is a joke because often they cut her last letter on forms.

And then I played some more (there's a mime class, hence Marcel).  Wehttam is Matthew spelled backwards.  Really.  It is.

 And then some more.  Kyle III has been lasting longer than his predecessors.  It's rough, because with every adventure you start over completely from scratch.  No armor.  No weapons.  No skills.  So it's a bit more like a puzzle game than an RPG in that respect.  I suspect if they ever Version II it, they'll add some retention of items and skills and some impact for the rooms beyond the good and bad fountains that show up sometimes when you place a hallway tile.

Worth my time.  I hope the developer puts the money toward making it even better.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Camp Innovation

Eryn's been in camp for two weeks in a row.  She spent one week at my workplace for a corporate-sited Camp Innovation.  I don't know what was going on in my head. I thought it was a girls' only coding camp.  I suspect I got my camps all mixed up.  So she was a bit disappointed that was NOT what it was.  But she had fun anyway.  A lot of kids she knew were there from school, and she met the kids of some of my other coworkers, including one who has a shared passion for Five Nights at Freddy's.  Her project was FNaF focused and was a box that allowed you to take a one-question quiz and it would play theme music using the basic-driven processing board they were given.  So there was some coding, just not along the lines of Java or Ruby.

Here are kids.  I had a chance to talk to some of them during a panel where we talked about what it was like to work in technology.  I talked to them about the meaning of the word "done" and how getting agreement on things was an important part of technology projects.  My example was to talk to their parents about what "done" meant in the context of their chores to them, to their friends, and to different adults.  I suspected no one would agree.  So imagine what it's like with a project with hundreds of people.

One of them (sibling of one of Eryn's schoolmates) made a Tardis nighlight that would come on when the sensor detected the lights were out (waving your hand over it, for instance).  Very neat.  A lot of cars.  And one kid wrote a program for presenting a series of numbers and you had to guess the next one.  It would have been more interesting if he could have presented multiple series, but he had the direction right.

Here's Eryn explaining her project to a parent and to my skip boss.  The piece of paper is to magnify the soundtrack.  Amusingly, only one of her buttons - the correct choice - was wired up.  I thought at first that her program would evaluate yes or no, but that would have simply been wasted effort for her scope.  Easier not to wire them in the first place.  That's a good lesson for me and my software teams.

And here she with her FNaF box, all smiles after a week of Innovation, Caribou in the mornings, and slowing fermenting children (a lot of sweat being generated in that room).

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Stupid iliotibial band

I've got pain on the outer side of my left knee again.  It's been years, 2.5 years.  The round spongy cylinder is down from the rafters, and I can feel the stress all the way up the side of my leg into my hip.  Now I'm left to ponder whether walking less this year has contributed to it flaring up (took almost 2000 miles of bicycling, so I'm surprised it appeared when I was pedaling slightly less).  Might require a trip to the physical therapist to see what I can do to head it off.  My sister assures me the cylinder helps and, if I'm crying, I'm probably doing it right.

I see I should be focusing on rest, ice, and anti-inflammatories as well and some recommendations to improve the hip strength (an issue for me given the fractures) and talk to the therapist if I have an a short leg because of a fractured hip.

Here's a guy working a foam roller:

And here are two guys working their physical therapy magic on someone else:

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

National Bike Challenge

I didn't have huge plans for bicycling this summer after Ming cancelled on RAGBRAI.  A trip to Chicago, which I should probably still blog about.  But that seemed sort of like this extraneous thing (I've been assured 120+ mile days aren't extraneous, but the trip was just sort of a reason to take my family to The Dells and Chicago).

One of my co-workers got me involved in the National Bike Challenge, which I've blogged about before, and that's been my litmus for the summer.  I put in 1457 miles since I signed up, and have tried to remain in roughly the top 12 riders for my company month over month.  The fact that it synced with Strava was a deciding factor in my choice of Garmin odometers so that when I ride my odometer syncs with my phone which syncs with Garmin which syncs with Strava which syncs with the National Bike Challenge.  Welcome to the era of machines talking to machines.  I know that's more important to me than I thought it would be because when it quit working last week I spent hours (and hours and hours) updating the Garmin software, my iPhone, iTunes, Windows, and a number of other things to ensure I had an up-to-date pipeline.

One of the details about the National Bike Challenge is that you get 5 points for bicycling at least one mile in a day.  That's really the bit of trivia that determined my personal bicycling challenge for the summer/fall.  I have now been on my bicycle 88 days in a row.  Potentially more, because I'm ignoring anything before I started recording on National Bike Challenge, but 88 officially.  Hasn't mattered what the weather was like or how dark it was or if I was sick or some muscle hurt, I made it out before midnight to log some time, usually with a trip to Cub Foods or Kowalski's or the movie theater, or by just doing a loop around the neighborhood.  I try to get in at least 2-4 miles in those cases, but one or two have been just the one mile round trip to Cub (or 1.6+ to Target).  If I'm unlucky, it's raining and my odometer resets itself when I lose satellite and I have to log more distance after shopping, but I've learned to enjoy the excuse.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Office Swap

I'm going full circle.  Like Ouroboros, the tail-eating snake.  I went from my office near the doors, to an office on the old row, to the end of third floor, and now I'm back on the old row.  My first office is now a room for testing boxes, so I don't think I'll get back quite that far unless there's a big shake up of the sort that shuts down projects.  So today I cleaned and packed.  I really liked my current office - almost no furniture and a huge white board.  My previous boss once measured it with a piece of 8.5x11 paper and declared it slightly larger than an average office. The new place won't have those perks.  And I had to erase Eryn's art on my secondary white board.  I'm going to miss Lisa Simpson and the cat army slash cat parade.  I still have no idea who was drawing Terminator eye diagrams in the corner.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Eco-friendly bed frame

My wife and I have a mattress we ordered from Casper with a discount from Jezebel.  I like it.  A lot.  Although I'll admit it took some getting used to after the puffy one that's now in the guest bedroom.  But the downside is we've been sleeping with it on the floor like college kids rather than on a frame like adults with a house because we're too lazy to shop when it doesn't include the frame in the delivery.  Yesterday, while perusing Good Will, we wandered next door to Slumberland to have a look, but the platform bed selection wasn't exceptional.  Nevertheless, it inspired me to actually do some web shopping today (that's right, we're too lazy to shop by web, and I remember the pre-web shopping days when you had to go from store to store).  This option from Amazon is not what we're going to get, because I just can't deal with looking like I'm perpetually ready to move out, even if no one besides me has to see it (and my wife, although that's it, even the cats don't really get to hang out in the bedroom).  But I thought building a bed frame out of cardboard was a great idea and, if I was single and not necessarily trying to impress women with my marriage-ability, I'd strongly consider it as an option.

Reboot - Snarky

Update: I thought I should note that I've made it through six posts (posted and scheduled).  That's not a bad start.  I'm particularly pleased with the canary post.  Going with little yellow blobs in Paint rather than detailed canaries was the right move.

Poor  Over a year without posts.  I've got a backlog, and it really doesn't take much effort, so I thought I'd give it a kick and run it for a while again.  We went from approximately 600 views per post to 2.  That's really going to impact the income rate on the site.  How will we maintain our $2 in annual income?  As an added side benefit, it should update the images on my site.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

City of Sin: London And Its Vices

I finished Catharine Arnold's City of Sin: London and its Vices this morning.  Great book.  I was less interested in the more modern vices such as the Profumo Affair and Belle de Jour, and much more interested in the bulk of the book about the period between the Romans and the Victorian era.

If there's one lesson to come away with, other than learning what chucking is and that you should stay out of Gropecunt lane unless you know why you're there, it's that all the vagaries and varieties and novelty of craziness of sex never go away no matter what laws are passed and no matter how society and government change how they feel about certain acts.  Homosexuality, transexuality, prostitution: it all flourished in London for 2000 years in all its incarnations.  The only change was in whether people hid what they did, or wore their prick (or cunt, as the Brits don't mind saying a bit more frequently than u.s.) on their sleeve.

Arnold has some real sympathy for how working women (and she distinguishes them from those who don't have any other option or are children, although The Guardian believes she doesn't stress the unfortunate side sufficiently) and gay men are punished by popular opinion and politics, often for reasons that are later proven to be specious or nonexistent and are simply useful as electoral or religious talking points.  It was a topic of conversation in the convertible on the way to lunch today when I noted that John Oliver said there were 700,000 individuals in some sort of gender crossing in the U.S. at the moment.  They didn't come out of nowhere when Bruce Jenner became Caitlyn.  They are always there, always struggling against society and government and religion to be comfortable in their transgenderism.

I'm looking forward to the other two books in Catharine's trilogy on London dealing with crime and madness.

The Fourth

We made it back from vacation in time for the fourth in Eagan. It was a little bit busier than usual as the old Lockheed Martin lot where much of Eagan used to tailgate and watch the fireworks was fenced off and under deconstruction. We usually sit up near Wells Fargo which isn't exactly close to the fireworks, but allows easy viewing, and a comfortable place to park some lawn chairs, drink root beer, and eat popcorn out of a grocery bag without being in anyone's way or having to walk a mile.

Even with the extra people, it would have been a good place to watch the fireworks this year except a guy near us felt the need to add a soundtrack.  Patriotic tunes are great, but when your soundtrack shifts to Katy Perry's Fireworks, that sort of detracts from the experience.  So when I recorded some of the fireworks I did it with stop motion so the soundtrack is left out (I guess I could have edited the sound out as well, but I like the stop motion effect better anyway).

So in the interests of showing the sky who the fuck is in charge, to quote John Oliver, here's a long clip, followed by...

the final display.

And here's John Oliver's take on fireworks last year...

Friday, June 26, 2015

Crisis One Averted

Found a hotel where there were no hotel rooms.  Just had to upsize the reservation.  I'll have a very comfortable bed for just me.  I notice the rain is rolling in on Sunday.  That's not cool - and it looks as though it may be following me. least it will be 78 and I won't freeze to death.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Father's Day

I'm a bit behind on posts, but it's not my fault for once.  Sort of.  My computer installed a Microsoft update and tanked.  Tanked good.  I had to go back to a restore point.  Twice.  So I didn't upload pictures from The Lindsey Sterling and Karmin concert (I was so happy Karmin was the opening band - it was a great concert), the tour of the Gateway area of Minneapolis with Kyle (which everyone who knows me can attest I won't shut up about), or the 106 mile ride across Wisconsin with Ming (Kyle sagging).  Maybe I'll get to them, maybe I won't.  Maybe I'll just post a lot of pictures with commentary in the world's longest post so I remember what I was up to.

Today we celebrated Father's Day by 1.) having my wife make us (me and my father) eggs, toast, and burnt bacon for breakfast, 2.) Going to the 40th Anniversary showing of Jaws at the local theater (Eryn and I went to Desk Set on Friday which was great - Mean Mr. Mustard told me at breakfast at Colossal on Grand with Greg that he'd seen it), 3.) a little bit of bicycling, 4.) a lot of the second season of Agents of SHIELD, 5.) Catan at the coffee shop in the evening (I won!) with my wife and Eryn, 6.) Boss Monster in the afternoon with my Dad and Eryn, 7.) a bunch of trash picking between all the other things, and 8.) my car washed by my wife and Eryn - for which it was long overdue but had been avoided because it leaks a bit.

Re: #7, Litterati has been having a small contest/proof of concept at my workplace this week and we've had a week to collect/photograph the most trash.  These were the rankings as of yesterday.  That's me on top at 623 pieces.  So today I collected almost another 200 wandering around the neighborhood.  I'm fully expecting someone to beat me today, but they're going to have to get their family involved and really buckle down.  I found $20 (and took a picture for Litterati), so regardless of how it turns out, I'm ahead.  As ahead as you can consider yourself after picking up around 800 pieces of trash including an open plastic container full of urine in the cul-de-sac near the house.  The fastest I was able to collect and photograph trash via Instagram was about 100 pieces/hour, so that represents 8 hours of collection this week  About 1 hour/day on average, slightly more.  That sounds about right because I had a few two hour days and a few days that I couldn't get out, not because of rain, but because of after work commitments like bicycling so I'm prepped to ride longer distances.

I should add that this is sort of par for my personality.  Short term commitments, even if they're recommitments of things I'm already doing/have done, are sort of my thing.  I once told a manager that my ability to re-start something over and over - e.g. intermittent perseverance -- was a strength.  He asked why I didn't just finish it the first time and I pointed out that given the organizational dependencies and apathy you're often faced with, that's not always a possibility, so being able to reboot, and reboot in an aggressive way (I should probably call that with leadership, or urgency, or passion so it sounds more friendly), has advantages.

I'm looking forward to the best picture portion of the contest as well.  I hope someone has better pictures than my urine bucket, $20 bill, and trash in flower fields.