Sunday, January 19, 2020

Code Freeze 2020 - Observabillity

Sorry for the loose nature of the notes rather than a good writeup, but I wanted to get things collated so I can work with them.  Good conference.  I ate at Al's for breakfast and Hong Kong Noodles for lunch.  And I realized I take the green line over to the U of MN for lunch anytime I'm downtown at work, which didn't occur to me these last six months.  If I had my bicycle, it's even a short ride that way across the campus bridge.  I need to get my urban on.  Not as much practical knowledge at this one (for me) as some of the past events, but that means I can focus on the few things I think have practical value rather than being all over the place.

Observability and the Glorious Future - Charity Majors (Honeycomb.io)

  • O'Reilly Database Reliability Engineering (November 2017: http://shop.oreilly.com/product/0636920039761.do)
  • How often do you deploy.  How long, how often do you fail, recovery time - the basics.
  • Hires for communication skills (initial tech interview is to get them talking at the in person).  "Empowered to do their jobs". 
  •  "How do I know if it breaks?" - all changes, all features
  • "Serverless was a harbinger.  Deployless is coming."
  • Developers (senior+) should amplify the hidden costs.
  • Team happiness = customer happiness (Steve says this too)

Observability in Big Analytics - Bonnie Holub, Teradata

50 Years of Observability - Mary Poppendieck

  • What is the equivalent of metal fatigue in software?  Operator fatigue. >> e.g. what Steve pushes that a focus on PIs is important.
  • Talked planes, bridges, three mile island
  • She likes the Control series by Brian out on Youtube....they're deep: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCq0imsn84ShAe9PBOFnoIrg
  • Observable - all critical states known from system outputs
  • Observable is at war with complexity.
  • Controllable activator - sensor can get back to a set state in a set time.
  • If it's not observable, can it be totally controlled? (no)
  • Fault Tolerance: replication and isolation.
  • Responsibility (and understanding the big picture) leads to desire for observability (and isolation/duplication). >> PLEX team at VP is a form of big picture.

What's Happening in Your Production Data and ML Systems  - Don Sawyer, PhData

  • Most practical of the lectures.
  • Focus on decoupled systems: Data warehouse, ML Models.
  • Talked Provenance as both origin and change over time.
  • Timestamp everything UTC (use Google Time API as an example to change it during compute).
  • Focus on: audit trails, data quality, repeatability, added info (pipeline).
  • Metadata payload.  PROCESS: id/version, start/end, transformations, inputs, configuraitons, DATA VERSIONS: traces of issues, data change history, defect data, LINEAGE: sources, frequencuu of read.
  • Last point was a little messy (from me) but you want to trace right down to the node data touched in transit so you can hydrate anything from the last known good state.
  • NOT ALL DATA RECORDS require granular povenance.  Can be expensive (so much data).  Use a flexible or generic schema.  Don't use S3 (slow).  Storage considerations.
  • Storage: 1.) attach info to the record (can get big, note that Avro and Parquet are meant to do this), 2 send a separate event message - separate provenance API, 3.) only track some.  Note that for API approaches you may end up going down a rabbit hole of tracking the tracking api.
  • Alternatives: Amundsen (Lyft), Marques (WeWork), DataBook (Uber), DataHub (LinkedIn)
  • Look at Apache Nifi (there's a pluralsight class)

Evolving Chaos Engineering - Casey Rosenthal, Verica

  • Ships, shoes, fruit (apricots), helium mining.  He's a very funny guy.
  • LOOK FOR  A VIDEO to watch with the teamhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JfT9UxcEcOE
  • Principlesofchaos.org
  • Reversibility: blue/green, feature flags, ci/cd, agile to waterfall.
  • Moved responsibility away from the people who do the work (hierarchy)
  • Myths:
  • 1. remove the people causing the accidents.
  • 2. document best practices and use runbooks.  (most interesting problems are unique)
  • 3. defend against prior root causes, aka defense in depth.  Root cause analysis: "at best, you are wasting your time."  Was our sponsor audience issue an example?  The answer was in part to restrict audience size.  But the dig highlighted system no longer supports system-wide features after growth, high processing cost of feature, inability to test with all users, etc.
  • 4. enforce procedures
  • 5. avoid risk
  • 6. simplify
  • 7. add redundancy
  • Do NOT eliminate complexity.  Navigate it.  CI, CD, CV - continuous verification (here's a link to a CV article:  https://thenewstack.io/continuous-verification-the-missing-link-to-fully-automate-your-pipeline/).  That's New Relic for us.
  • Has two books: Chaos Engineering and Learning Chaos Engineering.  First book comes out June 2020.

Monday, January 13, 2020

January 2020 Reading

Sunday, December 22, 2019

2019 British Arrow Awards

We've been going to the Arrow Awards for a long time. I won my first tickets in a drawing at TR and when they got more popular with the younger crowd (I assume that's what happened when I quit winning tickets after about three-four years), we switched to buying them.  We generally make it an anniversary event (26 years this year) with dinner.  This year was my first anniversary working downtown, so I met them at Christo's.  We should have given ourselves a bit more time.  It was pretty rushed to get through dinner and over to the Walker.  I had the added gift of taking the Route 18 down Nicollet.  That's the route I took 30 years ago when I was working at Third District Nurses.  Back then, I expertly avoided working during rush hour traffic.  So after a quarter century, it finally caught up to me.  It was PACKED.  I offer this anecdote:
I took the 18 down Nicollet to meet my family for dinner. The bus was a sardine can. One more person tried to get on and was turned away. There was a pause and then a guy near me said, "What? No. The bus is like county lockup. There's always room for one more."
The Amazon commercials were funny, both the Alex voice variants and the variants where individuals watching binge-able shows began to exhibit the characteristics of the main characters.  The Old Spice ones were funny.  The Rang-Tan in my bedroom one explains a piece of paper I saw when we went to a very strange movie at the Trylon: The Final Level: Escaping Rancala".


And Viva La Vulva is an experience.

BBC One's spend time with your kids one had me thinking they'd go Doctor Who somewhere during the play.  And I'd Rather Get Paid by Secret about equal wages was very well done.

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

December 2019 Reading

December reading...
  • 12/31/2019: Dead Astronauts - Jeff VanderMeer
  • 12/30/2019: Dead Astronauts - Jeff VanderMeer
  • 12/29/2019: Dead Astronauts - Jeff VanderMeer
  • 12/28/2019: Dead Astronauts - Jeff VanderMeer
  • 12/27/2019: Dead Astronauts - Jeff VanderMeer
  • 12/26/2019: Dead Astronauts - Jeff VanderMeer
  • 12/11/2019 - 12/25/2019: "I Remember Nothing" - Anne Billson, The Best Horror of the Year: Volume 11 (2019) ed. by Ellen Datlow  and all the following.  Ellen's recommendation in this volume is what got me to read Rutger's The Anomaly last month which I really enjoyed.  I ordered one or two other of her recommendations as well, although my current queue is like 20 books lone.
    • Monkeys on the Beach by Ralph Robert Moore
    • Painted Wolves by Ray Cluley
    • Shit Happens   by Michael Marshall Smith
      • I enjoyed this one - I get along with his writing style.
    • You Know How the Story Goes by Thomas Olde Heuvelt
    • Back Along the Old Track by Sam Hicks
    • Masks by Peter Sutton
    • The Donner Party by Dale Bailey
      • Interesting alt history, although I intuited the ending far in advance.
    • Milkteeth  by Kristi DeMeester
    • Haak by John Langan
      • Maybe my favorite.  Peter Pan alternative.  Genuinely Cthulhu lore style.
    • Thin Cold Hands by Gemma Files
    • A Tiny Mirror by Eloise C. C. Shepherd
    • I Love You Mary-Grace by Amelia Mangan
    • The Jaws of Ouroboros by Steve Toase
      • More scifi than horror in my opinion, but scary scifi, I'll give it that.
    • A Brief Moment of Rage by Bill Davidson
    • Golden Sun  by Kristi DeMeester, Richard Thomas, Damien Angelica Walters, and Michael Wehunt
    • White Mare by Thana Niveau
    • Girls Without Their Faces On by Laird Barron
    • Thumbsucker  by Robert Shearman
    • You Are Released by Joe Hill
      • End of the world tale.  More realism than horror story.
    • Red Rain  by Adam-Troy Castro
    • Split Chain Stitch by Steve Toase
    • No Exit by Orrin Grey
    • Haunt  by Siobhan Carroll
    • Sleep  by Carly Holmes
  • 12/10/2019: Challenging SQL on Hadoop Performance with Apache Druid
  • 12/9/2019: Basic Druid documentation
  • 12/8/2019: Accessing data using Apache Druid (Hortonworks)
  • 12/7/2019: Introduction to TWO approaches of content-based Recommendation System - not my favorite ML breakdown
  • 12/6/2019: Druid: A Real-time Analytical Data Store - a more technical paper about time series and Druid.
  • 12/5/2019: An Introduction to Event Data Modeling
    • Read a LOT more from Snowplow besides this article.  A lot.  So much.  We've been talking event tracking and streaming, so I was interested in their details.
  • 12/4/2019: Why We Don't See Many Public GraphQL APIs
  • 12/3/2019: A Beginner's Guide to the OKR Framework - https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/beginners-guide-okr-framework-ragavendran-madhusudanan/
    • OKR = Objectives and Key Results
    • Company, team, and personal >> line of sight (in my old org)
    • Not the how, the goal.
    • Objectives: "ambitious, qualitative, time bound and actionable "
    • Key results: numeric-based expressions of success or progress towards an objective.  No more than 4 per objective.
    • My concerns...these are experiments.  And the boldest changes are true experiments with concrete demos in front of real customers.  See the Sprint book >> you might not know what you're going to produce until you dig in (so maybe the goal is to dig in before the quarter starts).
    • Business specific.  Ambitious.  Less is more.  Not a task list.  Public.  Grade them mid-term.  Grade between 0 and 100 (0 and 1).  .6 to .7 is success! (woo, we are C to D students!)
    • Cascading OKRs.  (line of sight)
  • 12/2/2019: The Root Causes of Product Failure by Marty Cagan at Mind the Product San Francisco [49:14] - Ofeliya had me watch this one https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dccd8lihpQ
  • 12/1/2019:

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Bus Ride

Below is a picture of me reading short horror stories during the express bus ride into Minneapolis in the morning.  It still hasn't been the coldest I expect.  I'm not looking forward to that.  But the average ride is about half an hour one way if I don't screw around.  A little longer if I walk to the stop and walk home from the park and ride.


That's how I started my day.  I finished my day by getting ill by having an allergic reaction to prepackaged fish.  I don't known when they changed their ingredients, but my wife says the fish tastes different with the new packaging, and I agree; so we both suspect they did.  This is the second time I've had a reaction to the tilapia, so I'm pretty sure that's what's causing it.  The reaction follows a pretty consistent pattern: 1.) sleepy and back hurts (diaphragm spasming), 2.) stomach problems, lots of belching, probably precipitated by the spasms, 3.) ride my bike or exercise to try and blow through the worst of it unless my back hurts to much from the spasms or I belch so much I can't really breath, 4.) feel like I have to take a big dump, not because of the food allergy and my bowels, but because of the spasms.  It's what I traditionally get from fresh tomatoes and certain casks (particularly rum) as well.  The fish nonsense is completely new.  Maybe I'll slowly become allergic to a few new things a year until I'm sitting around eating nothing but ice cubes.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Sakura (and more)

We've been doing a monthly dinner event for almost a year now.  We've gotten around.  Tonight we went to Sakura in downtown St. Paul.  I had the Chriashi sushi - it's in the foreground.  K and L are eating primarily appetizers and rolls.  The food was good, although Kyle had the most positive things to say about the whiskey flight they tried before I got there and my sushi was better than Poot's salmon teriyaki, which looked like what you'd order if you didn't like sushi.  She did enjoy her dumplings.  I particularly liked them when I squeezed some orange on them (as in citrus, not simply the color) to complement the soy sauce.

Our historical venues:

  • November 2019 (Kyle) - Sakura
  • October 2019 (Matthew) - Chimborazo
  • September 2019 (Larry) - Mesob (Ethiopian on Hiawatha)
  • August 2019 (Scott) - Apoy Phillipino Bistro
  • July 2019 (Ming)- Mama Sheila’s Soul Food Kitchen [Buffet]
  • June 2019 (Kyle) - Babani’s Turkish
  • May 2019 (Matthew) - Winzer Stube German Restaurant
  • April 2019 (Larry) - Adelita’s
  • March 2019 (Scott) - George and the Dragon [Brunch]
  • February 2019 (Ming) -  City Afrique (Poot and I missed this one)
  • January 2019 (Kyle) - Peninsula



Outside the restaurant someone had dropped their sushi roll.  Very sad.  I hope it wasn't the Zach Parise specialty roll.  And I assume they dropped it rather than flung it at the wall/ground in anger.


We also made it to the play "Towards Zero" by Agatha Christie this weekend, over at Theatre in the Round. Good play.  I really enjoyed the first 99%.  And then there was a weird Christie twist at the end that made it feel like a bit of a rom com.  The acting was great and her murder mysteries are fun. This one had the motto that the murder should occur at the end of the story.


Kyle gave me a birthday present, a bottle of Ohishi Whisky. 


And Joe gave me a birthday present.  Schematics for a keg and other brewery related items.  I'm going to ask my father in law to frame them for me.  They'll be really nice wall art.  My family got me a cast iron bank.  A dog.  I have a small collection, and it fits in nicely.  Poot says she picked it up in Wisconsin near the cheese shop while on her visit to a friend last month. No picture.  You'll have to trust it looks like a cast iron dog.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Gameholecon - March of the Ants

I played March of the Ants at Gameholecon - one of the few I played without anyone else in our party.  I told Eryn and Klund, "I really liked it and had a great time, but I only ever need to play it once."  It has mechanics very much like any other worker placement game.  You have larva, you "harvest" them into your space, and then you play them as ants.  Ants have to be fed.  More ants.  More food. And there are options for collecting food, getting bonuses, expanding territory, etc.  I did like the additional ant evolution options to evolve your ant colony's heads, abdomen, and thorax multiple times - definitely gave it a bit of color.

Here we are, a few turns into exploration with the ants owning some breeding grounds, food production areas, and card generation areas (cards are good for evolution and bumping your attacks among other things).  That green giant is a centipede.  They eat your ants, so you need to maintain a strong enough population to kill them, but when you do you get a nice resource bonus.



Grabbing an exploration tile.


You can see my colony with evolved heads here.  Those were good for attacking and defending.  The two big ants are from an expansion (I think) and we barely got to play them because the game is very limited in turns.  The guy leading the game had a separate turn track he'd made himself in order to play slightly longer games.  It was a surprise how fast the end snuck up on us.  Those worker ants, master ants, whatever they are, give extra bonus options and reinforce your hex presence.


Finally, I simply thought this was funny.  He labeled which bag held which color cubes.  I am 100% certain that was not necessary.

My review.  Great worker placement game.  Didn't need the expansion.  Not too different from other worker placement games, but a great theme.  The evolution is a positive feature.  The constrained length is a positive feature.  The pressure on food versus population versus evolution seems balanced.  But I'd probably play Champions of Midgard (rated 96 overall) for a similar experience instead of buying the ants game unless I had a budding etymologist in my family.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Reading November 2019

  • 11/30/2019: Apache Druid: Technology - https://druid.apache.org/technology
  • 11/29/2019: The Anomaly, Michael Rutger
  • 11/28/2019: The Anomaly, Michael Rutger
  • 11/27/2019: The Anomaly, Michael Rutger
  • 11/26/2019: The Anomaly, Michael Rutger
  • 11/25/2019: The Anomaly, Michael Rutger
  • 11/24/2019: The Anomaly, Michael Rutger
  • 11/23/2019: The Anomaly, Michael Rutger
  • 11/22/2019: Walkme (Druid) Implementation by Yotam Spencer [37:00] - https://imply.io/videos/interactive-exploratory-analytics-with-druid
  • 11/21/2019: Apache Druid (at Imply)
    • Druid and Kafka [7:28], Druid Native Batch [4:54], Druid SQL [9:51], Imply Pivot Analytics [5:45], Conclusion [2:18]
  • 11/20/2019: Apache Druid (at Imply)
    • Druid File Format [11:22], Data Modeling with Druid [13:28]
  • 11/19/2019: Apache Druid (at Imply)
    • What Can You Use Apache Druid For [ 10:19], Druid Architecture [11:44]
  • 11/18/2019: Apache Druid (at Imply)
    • Course 0 [2:38], What is Apache Druid [5:58], How Does Apache Druid Work [ 17:26]
  • 11/17/2019: Theory of Bastards, Audrey Schulman
  • 11/16/2019: Theory of Bastards, Audrey Schulman
  • 11/15/2019: Theory of Bastards, Audrey Schulman
  • 11/14/2019: Theory of Bastards, Audrey Schulman
  • 11/13/2019: 5 Tips on How to Manage Former Peers - corporate manager training
  • 11/13/2019: What Do You Expect? Four Areas of Expectations Required for Great Results - corporate manager training
    • Time, the work, the communication, the culture
  • 11/13/2019: Managing Remote Employees [5:02] - 2013 - corporate manager training video
    • the right tech
    • measure by deliverables, not activities - map it to goals
    • focus on communication and inclusion (this is difficult >> e.g. playing games/informal activities)
    • healthy work life balance (how to monitor time, dedicated space, etc)
    • "dispersion": geographic, temporal, inequality in configuration, cultural diversity
  • 11/13/2019: 21 Essential Rules for Managing a Remote Team - Liam Martin of Time Doctor [21:07]
    • Video >> audio >> chat >> email
    • He recommends Jing (basically Screencast)
    • Consistency (in remote, meetings, expectations)
    • He hires two people at part time to make them compete - awful.  But he does say to pay well once you hire them.
    • Goal is to address expectations (for all those items above) - e.g.
      • Expect you to value the diversity and individuals on a team even if you don't always like them.  Learn to assume positive intent and learn to trust or communicate issues around trust so they can be resolved.
      • Be honest.
      • Expect you to build what's being asked for and ask for clarification if that's not clear.
      • Expect you to communicate risk and options and blockers.
      • Expect you to surface new work early and share.
      • Expect you to show up, although not necessarily in office, but be part of the team culture.
      • Expect you to be curious.  Ask why, ask how, continuously learn...
      • Expect you to do a dig on what you get w/in a time bucket and pass things along with more information than you probably got them (and make sure there's a communication loop for follow up, even if it's not your issue).
      • Expect to have some employees where you can't agree on expectations.
  • 11/12/2019: The Danger of AI is Weirder Than you Think - Janelle Shane, TED2019 [10:21]
    https://www.ted.com/talks/janelle_shane_the_danger_of_ai_is_weirder_than_you_think
  • 11/11/2019: Reading Management Books as an Individual Contributor - Tamara Atanasoska - https://www.atanasoska.com/blog/reading-management-books-as-an-individual-contributor
  • 11/10/2019: How Couples Can Sustain a Strong Sexual Connection for a Lifetime by Emily Nagoski (TED - [9:46]) 
    • 1.) Best Friends.  2.) Prioritize Sex.  (and trust)
  • 11/9/2019: How to Get Canceled - Lauren Duca
    • "I must disclose, I'm biased toward myself"
  • 11/8/2019: Secret chats involving Republican lawmaker reveal fresh evidence of plots and paranoia - the Guardian
  • 11/7/2019: Dive Into Speculative Fiction With the Winners of the 2019 Neukom Institute Literary Arts Awards
    • Already reading Bastards because of a Jeff Vandermeer recommendation.  Ordered M and reached out to Mendoza for a copy of the play (that is a hard play to identify in performance lists because of the "Machine Learning" title).
  • 11/6/2019: The Greek Myth of Talos, the First Robot - Adrienne Mayor - (TED [3:44])
  • 11/5/2019: Queens of Infamy: Zenobia - https://longreads.com/2018/12/11/queens-of-infamy-zenobia/
    • Zenobia and her husband wanted a capital as great as — if not greater than — Rome, which, to be fair, shouldn’t have been that hard because Rome at that point was a masturbatory cesspool. I mean that mostly figuratively (if there was one thing Roman orators loved doing, it was verbally wanking off about their city), but it applies literally too, presumably.
    • ROME: S! P! Q! R! THAT’S! WHO! WE! ARE! THE SENATE! THE PEOPLE! WILL NEVER BE DEFEATED! GOOOOOOO ROME!
  • 11/4/2019: Theory of Bastards, Audrey Schulman
  • 11/3/2019: Theory of Bastards, Audrey Schulman
  • 11/2/2019: Theory of Bastards, Audrey Schulman
  • 11/1/2019: Theory of Bastards, Audrey Schulman

Friday, November 08, 2019

Dinner and More...

My day...pretty casual.  I worked from home.  Which is a good thing for work as I get a lot of extra time in never leaving the house.  I even tend to move less unless I remind myself.  I was going to study spring boot all day and barely got started I had so many other things to do.

We went out to Buster's for dinner with Kyle and Lisa.  Wings and chips and beer and fish tacos and such.  Nice dinner, although we finished up a little early.  I think they were headed over to Elevated (liquor store) to pass some time before they picked folks up at the airport.  Kyle handed off a bunch of mugs he'd picked up for me at Good Will.  I'm going to try the mugs for developers thing again now that I'm at a new place and no one can find my list.  He's got some good ones.  I should add, not only are these new people who probably won't find my list, but the person who found my list last time retired and can't tattle on me.

Lara, our German foreign exchange student, left yesterday after two and a half weeks.  She was a great addition to the family.  Poot took her to the pumpkin event at the zoo and Parasite (movie) while we were at Gameholecon.  Peter took her trick or treating.  And we got her to the D Spot and Chipotle (three times) and she watched a lot of baking tv and played a lot of board games (Sushi Go was her favorite).  It was sad she was gone so soon.

And Joe flew back to Ohio.  It was great to go to wings with him at D Spot and out for a beer at Town Hall while he was here.  I'm glad he's got his new gig.

Ah....and Sandy (my first boss) had her severance party last night.  Whole bunch of my old co workers were at Union 32 for several different "lay off" events.  Crazy.  At least they're all pulling down a package.

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Gameholecon - Eating and Other Things

The first few trips to Gameholecon we ate almost exclusively at the food trucks and on site.  The last two years we've gotten out to eat some better meals and treat it more like a mini vacation.

This is from Mickey's Dairy Bar.  We went there last year too - cash only.  It's incredibly popular.  My pancakes were WAY more than I could eat.


They have this monkey with bananas and this year we were there after Eryn went to Hausu at the Trylon with Peter and Lara, so it had special significance.  Bananas, Bananas, Bananas!


We had sushi the second night.  This is Muramoto Hilldale,which is the upscale mall. The dumpling place next door smelled better, but Eryn was really happy and I'm always happy with the sashimi plate.


The last night we went out for ramen at Morris Ramen right downtown.  We went there last year too.  Hard to find, small place, but delicious.  I had the corn and sausage ramen which is a little midwestern (aka not very spicy) but has a great flavor profile.  Eryn went spicy.  There was s small woman sitting next to us who had hair dyed like my niece and was the same height, but on closer inspection was probably a 40 year old.


And on the way home we went past the Norske Nook in Osseo, WI.  I wanted pork and gravy, but it wasn't lunch time.  And then someone stole my berry pancake.  And so the waitress thought I could have the pork and gravy.  But no.  So I got my blackberry pancake, just after a long wait.  And she gave me my banana pie and Eryn's sugar cookie comped, which was nice but unnecessary.  I was AMAZED that she remembered us from our trip to House on the Rock in the spring.  Hell of a memory on that waitress.  She said she wasn't sure until Eryn ordered her burger.


These next two have nothing at all to do with food.  This is from the True Dungeon.  Not this year - this year's theme was a blue snake woman and a giant demon.  This was in the dungeon last year and Eryn has fond memories of a woman on her phone who was oblivious until the tree grabbed her from behind.  Our team this year was much more inexperienced and we actually failed a puzzle challenge and one of the guys dropped unconscious and I had to revive him with a potion as we had no cleric.

My favorite part was on the puzzle we failed where we handed gems into a crypt in the right order to turn some skulls.  One of the guys didn't realize there were people in the tomb and kept tossing his gems into the holes.  I'm surprised no one got seriously beaned.


And this is the original Greyhawk map they used for inspiration (the Gygaxes are from WI) for the modules.  Chris (from high school) was excited to see this photo when I sent it his direction.  Eryn's excited about making her own map and has my old D&D map out at the moment to see how I handled it back when I was world building (my rules were: only part of one continent so there was lots of space to expand, different land types, countries basically had a theme (Sherfora, horses, Cthulhu-y, Romanesque, Persian, various novels, ruled by Dionysus, Atlantisa) an; d then populated with geographical features appropriately (Sherfora, forest in the middle of a plain that was more English-like; the Cthulhu area had lots of mountains and the borders were determined by how far someone had managed to make it without disappearing; Atlantis, big volcano; Dionysus area lots of dunes and grapes....etc).  It did make it about a million times easier to put a basic framework around any adventure and local color/character building.


Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Out of Town Visitor

Not a euphemism.  My old coworker, Joe.  As in we used to work together, not that either of us is old. We're not!  My old coworker, Joe, was in town for a new job over at phData, doing his video training.  Last night he trained (as in on a train, not watching corporate videos) down to the MoA and Eryn, Lara, and I picked him up and took him to the D Spot for wings in Oakdale.  We met Erik, Jestine, Pat, and Jessica there, so we had a full on mini reunion of sorts.  It was a pretty nice evening getting to see everyone after three months.

Tonight I stayed in town late and met up with him at his hotel and walked to Town Hall Brewery for beer and dinner.  He seems pretty sure he made the right move.  Does not surprise me.  We had some of the some complaints.  About the same things and the same people.  It's a bummer he lives in another state, but I'll probably get to see him in January again when he's back for 2020 planning.

Monday, November 04, 2019

Gameholecon - Martian Dice

Whoa....I don't think I realized I had quite so many photos of Gameholecon, and that's after pruning the duplicates, the bad photos, and the uninteresting ones.

Here we are playing Martian Dice. The folks who run the game library - the Milwaukee Company of Gamers - put on a tournament and gave us free dice.  The concept is simple.  You're the Martians.  If tanks show up, you need as many death rays to offset the humans.  After that, you get a point for everything you abduct: humans, chickens, cows.  If you get at least one die from each set, then you score an extra two points.  But you have to either play a death ray or another set you don't have each time.  First person to 25 wins.

Eryn setting aside some dice.  Those are all my tanks in the foreground.  That was a real roll.
 

I made it into the semifinals.  One of the Milwaukee gamers was dressed as a yeoman from Star Trek. 


Ming not happy with his dice.  Or else getting lectured by that wagging finger across the table.


Ming happy with his roll.

Sunday, November 03, 2019

Gameholecon - Our Fourth

E, Me, Ming, and Klund went to Gameholecon Thursday through Saturday (came back Sunday morning, but at least Eryn and I didn't play games).  It's our (Eryn and me) fourth visit to Madison to play games for days.

It was snow free in Minnesota, but by the time we got to the Dells, there was snow on the ground.  And Madison had a big snow storm.  Enough that they were worried about cleanup for sports games on Friday.



On Thursday after we got there, we checked into our AirBNB (and almost tumbled down the slippery snow-covered steps) and then got to gaming.   Eryn and I played some short games first.  Apoteheca was a hidden information game where you used your abilities to move the tiles so you could get several in a row.  That's Kevin lurking in the background.  And that's Eryn's Displacer Beast skulking at the end of the table.  It's funny how cute they made a displacer beast.  Eryn was amused to find out he had a little red x for a butthole.


More Apotheca.  We played a few rounds.


Eyrn and her displacer beast enjoying getting gaming.


The first day was on Halloween, so there were all sorts of attendees dressed up / in costume.  This guy was very proud of his fairy costume.


Surprise photo of me playing 5 Minute Dungeon.  Our initial group liked this one best out of the four games we played.  It was fast.  That poor guy next to me had hearing aids, however.  So people were talking and doing things all at the same time and it was tough to keep up.  They did like it much better than Fuse which had the same issues (lots of noise and motion, so difficult to pay attention).


Our hostess dressed up as Sally in A Nightmare Before Christmas.  We're busy cleaning up after throwing all our cards on the table in 5 Minute Dungeon here.


And a game of Forbidden Desert.  In my opinion, this was the pickiest game for n00bs.  The water carrier and the mover (me) should have sat on the oasis/well and just moved other teammates and water around.  Anything else (which is what we did) was foolish. I"m not fond of games that aren't forgiving at all without a good organic incentive to use the game mechanics.  But it was a fun round of team building.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Some photo blogging for Halloween

Been a long time since I linked to Flickr photos. Last time I did, I think Flickr was still a Yahoo property.  My blog is starting to live past some of the earlier properties of the internet. Before it simply predated some of them.  This is a picture of Thomas Lake Park in Eagan in the sunset.  I was out Ingress-ing and bumping the local farm.  It's a better looking picture larger.  I think it looks like a puzzle box cover (and accompanying puzzle).


I had my first Halloween at the new job.  We had a site party with beer, pizza, and board games.  M. scored a perfect score (0) in Parade.  I lost horribly at Exploding Kittens.  And G. won at Zombie Dice.  We played the base version because trying to integrate the hottie and jock were beyond my immediate capabilities.  A. won "scariest cookie".  This is not her cookie.  It's mine.  I went with a headless gummy bear cemetery.  It tasted bad...nasty...like the death it embodies.  If I had thought about it, I might have tried to create a Beetlejuice theme.  We had gummy worms and I could have colored one up black and white.


Here I am losing at Exploding Kittens - safe for work edition.  I fully failed to deploy my "nope" earlier which would have kept me in the game a bit longer.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Meet Me in the Future

I finished Meet Me in the Future, a collection of short stories by Kameron Hurley.  It's a great collection, although I liked the second half better than the first half.   The Corpse Archive (about recording history on bodies), Enyo-Enyo (which my spellcheck keeps trying to make Enjoy-Enjoy) about a time looping anti-Tardis (in a way) as a punishment, The War of Heroes (about what war does to you and myths of growth through conflict), and The Light Brigade (again, about war and corporatism) were my favorites.  That's not to say I didn't like the earlier stories, and those set in her shared world of plagues and body hopping were good fiction.  There's a lot of herself wrapped up in the basic feel of her stories.  She says as much in her intro.  Health.  Disease.  And health and disease as they affect the individual and the communal.


  • Elephants and Corpses
  • When We Fall
  • The Red Secretary
  • The Sinners and the Sea
  • The Women of Our Occupation
  • The Fisherman and the Pig
  • Garda
  • The Plague Givers
  • Tumbledown
  • Warped Passages
  • Our Faces, Radiant Sisters, Our Faces Full of Light
  • Enyo-Enyo
  • The Corpse Archive
  • The War of Heroes
  • The Light Brigade
  • The Improbable War

Monday, October 28, 2019

Let's do this

I am in need of scribbling a bit (metaphorically?), so I am going to reboot a bit of writing/typing here.  I don't know if it will stick.  I make no promises.  But I find myself at a loss for not writing and putting my thoughts in order and I have a new machine with a B key at my desk in the basement, so I'm going to pretend for a moment like it's the dawn of a new era.  I can talk about...

  • The weekend.
  • My new job (going on month #3).
  • Crocheting (a complete failure).
  • Reading (more than usual now that I take the bus...see bullet #2).
  • Leaving my old job (see bullet #2 and bullet #4).
  • Working downtown (see previous mixture of bullets).
  • The German foreign exchange student (no previous bullets, unless you sort of tie her to bullet #1).
  • Family - see bullet #1 and the previous bullet.
  • Selling rental property - see family, see the weekend, see the new job (as in impacting it).
Let's go with the weekend for now because I want to vent a little about how busy it was.  Friday I rolled myself up to my folks' cabin to get them snowbirded.  That involves moving a large pile of stuff from the cabin and bigger-than-the-cabin garage to the fifth wheel.  They've downsized what they haul with them, but it's still everything in the fridge; everything in the freezer; all the perishables (meaning mouse edibles) in the cupboards; and all the sewing equipment.  Plus some general cleaning and cleanup.  The roughest bit this year was getting the water softener under the cabin so my dad can hook it up from down there in the spring.  Seemed like it would be light.  Heavy AF.  And it's about 2.5 feet of clearance down there, so trying to lift and pull while bent in half was tough on my back and knees.  So tough that I thought I was having a real problem today.  Until I put two and two together and noted it felt like diaphragm pain and I'd been belching since 2 p.m.  Combined with a frozen meal I hadn't eaten before at 1:00 p.m., there's a 99% chance my back pain has nothing to do with a water softener and everything to do with an allergic reaction to a frozen meal.  

Saturday, we went to E's bowling tournament and then Pooteewheet and I met up with friends to eat at Chimborazo.  It's a wonderful Ecuadorian restaurant.  Kyle and I had been there before but it was new to the rest of our group.  My wife's Ecuadorian fried rice was particularly tasty.  Afterwards, Kyle, Poot and I went a few hundred feet down the sidewalk to Twin Spirits Distillery.  It was nice to catch a new place.

Are we up to Sunday? Breakfast with the rents at Junior's in the morning.  Coffee at Dunn for traditional daddy/daughter social time (bumped into an ex coworker), dinner at Chipotle (bumped into two of my new coworkers), and then E went to the Colin Mochrie hypnotism event at the Ordway while I served as Uber and dropped her off before heading over to Bad Weather to do more work and have a beer.  

It wasn't even done Monday, because I went to Day by Day in St. Paul to have breakfast with an ex-coworker before a late start to work.  And - across all of that - we have a German exchange student for a few weeks.  She was off to camp for the weekend, but we've been getting her out to dinner and to camp dropoff and pickup and trying to be as social as possible.

That's way more socializing than I'm used to in general.  It's putting a crimp in my energy level.

That was more of a list than writing.  But that's to be expected after being finger-mute for such a long time.  We'll see how it goes as I ramp up a bit.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Reading October 2019

I'm getting lazy. It's difficult to remember what I read if I don't get it in the list more quickly. Focus for this month is my own book - I need to put a pin in it and incorporate Eryn's feedback. So if I'm light on reading this month, that's the reason.  By the way, those Kameron Hurley short stories are in reverse order of how I read them.

Monday, September 09, 2019

Reading September 2019

September 2019

Theoretically I have 28 days to read the Divine Cities trilogy at 50 pages/day.  But I'll have plenty of tech training in at the same time.  When I started reading the trilogy it told me it was like 300 pages, but then when I read 15 pages, I was still at 1% complete on the Kindle.  I knew I had way more reading at hand than I had suspected.  Great book so far and I'm still in the first one.

Yep  - that was most of the month, although I have a few other things I need spatter in there and I didn't record some training I'm midway through.  That series was excellent.  I strongly recommend it.

  • 9/30/2019: The Divine Cities
  • 9/29/2019: The Divine Cities
  • 9/28/2019: The Divine Cities
  • 9/27/2019: The Divine Cities
  • 9/26/2019: The Divine Cities
  • 9/25/2019: The Divine Cities
  • 9/24/2019: The Divine Cities
  • 9/23/2019: The Divine Cities
  • 9/22/2019: The Divine Cities
  • 9/21/2019: The Divine Cities
  • 9/20/2019: The Divine Cities
  • 9/19/2019: The Divine Cities
  • 9/18/2019: The Divine Cities
  • 9/17/2019: The Divine Cities
  • 9/16/2019: GraphQL: the Big Picture (77 min) - Adhithi Ravichandran on Pluralsight
  • 9/15/2019: THAT Conference '19: GraphQL, More Like GraphQWOW (63 min) - Jonathan Kupcho on Pluralsight
  • 9/14/2019: The Divine Cities
  • 9/13/2019: The Divine Cities
  • 9/12/2019: The Divine Cities
  • 9/11/2019: The Divine Cities
  • 9/10/2019: THAT Conference '19: 7 Guaranteed Ways to Fail with Microservices (48 min) - Mike Acord on Pluralsight.
  • 9/9/2019: The Divine Cities
  • 9/8/2019: The Divine Cities
  • 9/7/2019: The Divine Cities
  • 9/6/2019: The Divine Cities
  • 9/5/2019: The Divine Cities
  • 9/4/2019: The Divine Cities
  • 9/3/2019: The Divine Cities
  • 9/2/2019: The Divine Cities
  • 9/1/2019: The Divine Cities Trilogy: City of Stairs, City of Blades, and City of Miracles, with an excerpt from Foundryside - Robert Jackson Bennett (2018) - 1400 pages

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Reading August 2019


I read a lot more last month than I thought.  Four full books....actually five.  The omnibus throws my count.  Being on a bike ride with lots of reading time and starting to ride the express bus makes a big difference.

I should note, because I can't find them anywhere and I want to record them, in the last year I also read:
  • A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet - Becky Chambers
  • Ring of Swords
  • Strange Bird - Jeff Van de Meer
I recorded only about 25 pages/day of Superforecasting.  That was a slow read for me.  Particularly as I was doing a lot of training/new job stuff this month.  I had whole days of onboarding.  Made for a bit of burnout.  And much of the training that's not here I started, but I'm finishing in September.  And, I recorded about 80 pages of Amber Spyglass each day.  That was a LONG book (but very enjoyable).