Monday, December 30, 2013

10 Most Offensive Board Games and Many Other Things

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Monsters of Christmas

This is primarily for Kyle as we've been exchanging posts about Krampus.  Atlas Obscura has a post on Monsters of Christmas including Krampus, Mari Lwyd, La Befana and Baboushka, Perchta, Straggele, The Tomten, Belsnickel, Pere Fouettard, Gryla, The Yule Lads including peg-legged Sheep Cote Clog (not to mention the horribly evil Sausage Swiper - Swiper, no swiping!), and The Yule Cat.

Atlas Obscura is great if you're like me and want to learn about Leprechaun museums (where they have Leprechaun lore, not as in it's run by Leprechauns) and strange statues.  Just my sort of thing.

47 Ronin and Bored Game

My dad, daughter, and I (three generations) just got back from 47 Ronin at the local theater.  Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 12%.  I'm not sure it deserved a 12%, as in it probably deserved something better.  It was a pretty run of the mill adventure movie.  The critiques seem to point out that it was slow paced for its length.  I'm surprised.  I thought the bad reviews would be more around the fact that all 47 of them kill themselves at the end.  That's not a spoiler.  At least not if you're not so Western you've never read anything about them.  What it didn't do, in my opinion, is really showcase more of the Ronin - particularly given all the famous Japanese actors in the movie.  That would seem to warrant a bit more personality and interaction between the ronin rather than so much of the chatter being between the bad guy and his witchy girlfriend and between Keanu and Oishi (Hiroyuki Sanada).

I recommend this article from Laughing Squid about the 80's style Bored Game and accompanying video.  Very amusing.

BORED GAME™ from Dark Igloo on Vimeo.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Bike Gear

I got a bunch of bicycling-related items for my birthday and for the holidays.  Kristine sent me this cool luggage tag.  I have a bottle opener, a snake sculpture, and other things made from bicycle chains.  But a luggage tag was new.

Kyle gave me a wall clock for my birthday.  I have a stand-alone gear clock at work, although it's not nearly as shiny.  I'm excited about this one.  It's going to replace the $1 plastic clock my teammates put on my wall so they could be sure our 1-1s weren't going over the 30 minute mark.  I was going to give the plastic wall clock to another manager, but my wife had a nice wall clock here she was going to give to Good Will.  So he'll get that and the plastic clock can find it's way to a manager I don't like as much.

Ming got me this cool porn camera to wear on my head.  But it didn't come with the mandatory SD chip necessary to make it work.  So I've been hanging onto it while I waited to order enough Christmas swag that I wouldn't have to pay shipping.  Now that the Christmas presents are here, I'm good to go.  I'll be streaming Ming feeds of everything I do.  It'll be creepiest when he notices I'm in his house or talking to his mother in law.

This trading card of Graham Bergh is the most confusing present I received.  Kristine sent it to me with the luggage tag.  I don't know what it is about me that makes her think I need trading cards featuring Seattle-esque entrepreneurs.  Maybe I can trade it for a Lance Armstrong card or one featuring the founder of Surly bikes.  Maybe I'll just put a 3/1 on it and pretend it's a Magic the Gathering card.

If you need your own chain luggage tag, the back of Graham's card tells you how to go about procuring one.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Busta Nutcracker

On Saturday Ming, Kyle, Matthew, and I went to see Busta Nutcracker, A Burlesque Parody at the Southern Theater, put on by the Wicked Wenches Cabaret, which does productions and burlesque classes.  Kyle and I had backed the production on Kickstarter and each received two tickets to the show as part of our sponsorship.

We had dinner at Vic's first, at Riverside.  I've never been there before when it wasn't full of frat boys and really annoying MBA types.  But apparently that's just in the spring and summer when the deck is open for drinking.  In the winter it's full of those of Malaysian heritage who don't realize their Groupon is no good on a Saturday, and Baked Alaska taste testers.

I enjoyed Busta Nutcracker much more than the Suicide Girls event we went to recently.  The theater is much more conducive to viewing than the standing room only at the Varsity, and the connected plot is just more fun, even if the dancing isn't quite the same quality.

Here's the stage.  It changed once or twice to host the various fairy dances - Clara and the Nutcracker's thrones replacing the bed.  Unlike in the productions I've seen in the past, Clara crawls all over that couch a bit more provocatively.  My father posted a message that my sister and niece were at the Nutcracker too!  When my sister asked I told her we were near the dancing pole on the right (just outside the frame on both sides of this photo), at which point she realized we were perhaps at a different Nutcracker.

There were some great parts.  I thoroughly enjoyed the part of the Nutcracker where the Nutcracker leads everyone in a tassel dance. Hilarious and energizing.  Hussy Hautepants was an excellent dancer with a 50's Vargas girl vibe.  And Dazzling Di'Vine, who's apparently from here in my hometown, made for an excellent German beer woman in a bit that featured dancing glasses of beer coming out from under the skirts of Mother Gin (it wasn't like that when my daughter did the same part as the beer for ballet).  I also liked Mz. Vixxxen's ballet (on pointe?) dance where she was a bit S&M and possessed Clara such that whatever she did with her hands Clara did with her legs.  A clever bit of burlesque.  The dance of the marijuana fairies by Oopsy Daisie was a bit strange, but they were obviously trying to keep the show light and fun.

The program...

Kyle and I both show up as Kickstarter contributors.  There was a good turnout.  They sold a lot more tickets than there were Kickstarter backers.  The Southern was packed.

The cast of Wicked Wenches.  They do an Oz and Disney themed production as well.  They may be our new alternative to Best of the Midwest Burlesque now that it's folded.

And a bit of the program explaining the first part of the plot.  You can see that Clara is forced to dance...repression is just inherent in the system.


My neighbors are making some sort of holiday movie in the back yard, complete with a very professional looking portable camera boom and a wood sled.  I can't determine the plot by just watching them at work.  Not a zombie movie like last time when Eryn was involved.  I'm hoping it's a Finnish war epic.

Passive Aggressive

I discovered today that someone put a chip in one of my favorite mugs, the My Next Wife Will be Normal mug my friend Dan'l bought me when we were eighteen and going to school at RPI.

I blamed my wife.  She denied it of course.  I told her my next mug would read My Next Wife Won't be Passive Aggressive.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Guest Link

Kyle pointed me at this article about Krampus-based erotica.  That's a whole different world of strange.

"So if you've ever wondered what the glamorous life of an Internet comedy writer is like, imagine spending the better part of a Saturday reading a book about a woman blowing a Christmas goat monster while taking notes. Truly, I am living the dream. A very, very specific dream."

Friday, December 20, 2013


Eryn had a band concert (she plays oboe) and play/choir concert at school yesterday before my wife's surgery. She was the hippie in their play about various characters disappearing Clue-like in the castle of a mad scientist. Turns out they were being trapped in books by the librarian. Where's Thursday Next when you need her?

The Long War

I finished The Long War, the sequel to The Long Earth by Baxter and Pratchett.  I really enjoyed the idea behind the first book, but I wasn't as impressed with this book in the series.  In many ways, it felt sort of haphazard, like they were trying to figure out how to get to the next book, but just didn't know how to get there or who to follow.  It was like they didn't know who the focus of the next book would be about.  Spoiler: I'm not even quite sure why they Luke Skywalkered the main character.  It didn't make much sense at all.

Eryn really wants to read the sequel, particularly as she did a book project on the first one last year by writing a follow up chapter.  But I'm worried she's going to be bored as nothing really gets going until around page 200, and then it just sort of wanders around.  They'd have been better served by picking one or two characters to follow more tightly rather than forcing the inclusion of characters that seemed unmotivated and just going through the motions.

Thursday, December 19, 2013


The ten most ridiculous metal album covers of 2013 - I like Power Frost by Persekutor.  Strikes me as trying to be a bit tongue in cheek 70s album cover.

The 50 ugliest and worst album covers of 2013 - I wonder if Ming will tell his wife that Bon Jovi made the list.  I like the album called Donkey Punch the Night.  Nice.  Darwin Deez's Songs for Imaginative People is rather oxymoronic.  I think my Heavy Heavy Duty cover would make a good showing.

Ten underappreciated movies from 2013 - I've seen two of them.  More of a reminder that Escape From Tomorrow is coming to the Trylon soon.

19 awesomely designed books - beautiful design

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A trifecta of bicycling links

50 years of bicycling in an infographic - designtaxi has a cool graphic.  Not a ton of info, but presented very nicely. I'm not sure I agree that fixies should get a badge for hipsters.

The world's most expensive bike - more art than practical ride at 67,000 pounds (cost).

Top 10 bike designs of 2013 - that Svart two-speed is beautiful.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


I keep forgetting to post a picture of the turkey Eryn made at school for Thanksgiving.  The kids were asked to decorate their turkeys with a theme.  Eryn chose Death.  Very Pratchett.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Album Cover

I gave Tall Brad a hard time a few weeks ago about a picture he took where he was looking in three different directions.  It reminded me of an album cover and, despite all my searching, I still can't figure out which one.  It's not Orleans.  But he inspired me to create my own album cover while I was hanging out at the rental property yesterday.  It's good, although a bit derivative of The Stones' Sticky Fingers or a reverse Springsteen's Born in the USA.  I think I'd be ironic with the album title and just call it Heavy Heavy Duty.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Evil and the Mask

Don't look won't do you any good.  I read Evil and the Mask by Fuminori Nakamura.  I didn't read any reviews before I picked it up.  It was on the new shelf  at the library and the blurb on the inside of the cover caught my attention.  It was a bit of a strange read.  The basic plot - and I'm giving some spoilers here - is that there's a family that every few generations decides to produce a member who will be a cancer on society.  However, at some point, things either went very wrong or very right, and the various good branches died off, the bad branches took over, and then self-destructed.  The book focuses on one such cancer who has to deal with his father, and brother, and cousin, all of whom are various cancers of varying degrees of nut-jobbery.  In the end, it's a bit of a love story, and the girl his father takes into the household to eventually break his son, instead serves to give this particular cancer (the son - the main character) a focus of purpose that allows him to do evil in the service of eliminating anyone that might hurt this girl who, for a brief time, was his love and lover.  In the end, it's that love that both sets him free to pursue a normal life outside Japan, and her a normal life inside Japan, despite the previous intervention of murderers (his father), industrial-war-complex magnates (his brother), murderous secret societies (his cousin, who doesn't actually murder anyone and comes out ok in the end), drug dealers, and more.

Perhaps the major point of Nakamura's Evil and the Mask, per my reading, is that the act of murder deforms the murderer, makes them a monster truly outside of society.  But it's that deformation that allows the main character to get his and his girlfriend's life back in order by the end and overcome multiple attempts to make him a cancer.

Amazon recommends this neoprene mask as an alternative link when looking for Nakamura's book.  I think I would have been uncomfortable wearing that mask while reading the book, although it might have put me in the spirit of one of the cancers.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

A bit disjointed of purpose....

 I recently read John Connolly's The Creeps and Frank Swain's How to Make a Zombie.  Despite one being fiction, the other nonfiction, my complaint about both is the same.  Both seemed to lack a certain direction.  I liked Connolly's first book in the series, The Gates.  But this one seemed to wander all over the place without much reason.  While you can't really expect a lot of reason in a book that mixes particle physics and demons, I was still hoping for a tighter narrative.  There was still some of the Pratchett-like humor, it was just that the humor fell short of what I'd expect from any of the Discworld books, so I'm left wondering why I wasn't just reading those instead.  And there's no reason I'm not as I've reserved a few for the future rather than reading them so I'm not out of Pratchett.  After reading The Creeps I went right out to the Dakota library site and reserved three Discworld novels and The Long War.  So while I don't really have any glaring complaints about The Creeps, it left me feeling like I need to cleanse my palate with a better wine.

How to Make a Zombie had a more straightforward purpose.  To explain all the explorations of reanimation and mind control from a historical and scientific perspective.  But there's enough material there that it gets pretty loose, covering zombies, secret agents and hallucinogenic studies, parasites, Prussian Blue (reminded me of Sacre' Bleu which my wife is currently reading), resurrection/reanimation, organ harvesting, the nature of death, and on and on....  While Connolly reminded me of not-quite-up-to-quality Pratchett, Swain reminded me of a not quite focused-enough and up-to-quality The Red Queen by Ridley.  So that's my review.  If you're going to read The Creeps, read Terry Pratchett's Discworld instead.  If you're going to read How to Make a Zombie, read Ridley's The Red Queen instead.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Farewell Tenney at Claddagh

We went to see Erik play with his new/reboot band, Farewell Tenney, at Claddagh coffee shop tonight.  They were very good - a much more folksy sound then in the past.

Farewell Tenney's female band member even took out a violin for a few of the songs.

And I liked the more family friendly venue at a coffee shop.  This is my Hot Molly: espresso, cayenne, cinammon, and honey.  Better than a hot chocolate - not nearly as sweet.

Here it is with friends.  My wife's mocha latte and Eryn's hot chocolate.

Some videos of Farewell Tenney in action.  The slide guitar was an excellent.  Erik's in there.  He just happens to be hiding behind Dan.

Still hiding behind Dan.  Although his daughter came around the right side, from my perspective, to see him.  That's not her in the video.  She's younger.  Much younger.  Great turnout.  The place was absolutely packed.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

British Arrow Awards

Tonight we (just the adults) went to The British Arrow Awards at the Walker.  We'd been once before and that time, and this one, I won two tickets from work, making the total cost for our evening of entertainment $4.00.  Nice.  The advertisements featured were both funny, in the case of Guinness and Axe and Thinkbox and Money Supermarket, and disturbing/sad in the case of the women's shelter (scary rape scene because the shelter was being defunded), childhood abuse prevention, smoking, and anti-shark finning.  The did an excellent job pulling the series together to handle the ups and downs to keep you entertained rather than simply amused or too sad/shocked.  Some of my favorites:

Guinness' Sheep Dog:

Money Supermarket Astronaut:

Thinkbox's Harvey & Rabbit

Funny Fortnight with Simon Pegg and Jessica Stevenson - my fellow Anglophiles will recognize the context of the duo together:

John Lewis Christmas Retail - The Journey

Orange Security:

John Lewis Never Knowingly Understold - not funny, but really a beautiful commercial with a great cover of INXS

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Tater Tot Breakfast Redux

I've been making tater tot, cheese, and ham in a crock pot for company potlucks for six years now.  It's definitely not a cheap meal to make - almost 5 pounds of tots, almost 2 pounds of cheese, about a dozen eggs...I follow that recipe loosely - but it seems to be appreciated.  It took approximately 30 minutes for it to disappear during the morning portion of today's potluck.  I got to haul my crockpot out of there almost immediately.  As a nice side effect, it kept the car very warm this morning on the ride into work.

I realized that I didn't post pictures with the recipe before.  So here they are.  All the cheese, tots, ham, pepper, and onion ready to go except for...

...eggs.  Lots of eggs.  I mixed a bit of milk in as well.  I didn't use the 12th egg - if you're counting - as it had a crack in it.  I don't think anyone noticed.

After a night of cooking on low.  You can't see it, but it's bubbling.  Maybe next time I should take a video.  The edges were particularly crispy and tasty.

And the full pot, so you have some idea of what disappeared so fast.  Total calories in that pot?

  • Eggs: 11x78 = 858
  • 4 pounds tater tots = 26 x 4/5 x 160 = 3328
  • 24 ounces of ham = 75 x 24 = 1800
  • 1.5 pounds of cheddar = 113 x 24 = 2712
  • 1 green pepper = 24
  • 1 onion  = 44
  • 1 cup skim milk = 83 

Total: 8849 calories

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Don't read this book...

I picked up The Goliath Stone on the new releases shelf at the library.  It's something like 316 pages of awful.  I can't actually believe Niven was a major part of this book.  There will be spoilers.  I'm trusting you won't read it, so it shouldn't matter.  I'll be quick.  People send nanobots to space to harvest a meteor.  Nanobots evolve while on Earth a rogue scientist spends time in jail using inmates as test subjects to perfect his own nanobots for humans that make them better, smarter, energy efficient, and only full of good thoughts lest they suffer seizures.  Add lots of lame sex humor and so much banter you'll want to yell at them all to shut the hell up.  Later the meteor comes back with the nanobots.  The augmented humans rush out to meet them and introduce them to sex.  Everyone is super happy except the reader who wants them to all shut the hell up.

Here are all the one star ratings on Amazon.  I didn't add my own, but you can trust that if I had written a review, it would have ended up here.  It makes it easy to nominate as the worst book I read this year.  Hopefully that's the end of it and I don't have to add, "so far."

I also greatly disliked The Oatmeal's How to Tell if Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You.  At least in that case I can attribute it to my general lack of interest in cat humor.  I picked it up because I thought Eryn might enjoy it, but I felt I should read it first to make sure it was child appropriate.  It was child appropriate.  It just wasn't Scooter appropriate.  There's plenty of office-based humor, but the cats just sort of ruin it for me.  Not all cat humor bothers me.  I like Catbert.  But I far prefer it when The Oatmeal sticks to strips about Christopher Columbus and Nikola Tesla.

Monday, December 09, 2013


There's some ongoing debate about who has found the nastiest crud at their rental property.  This won't make any best of lists if I were to start canvasing the internet, but I felt it might win a local award within my sphere of friends.

I fixed the vanity on the first floor at the rental and it required a whole lot of Ka-boom while I was McGuyver-ing the drawers to make sure they stayed on their rollers.  A lot because in the drawers and all over the bottom of the vanity was this.  While I may be wrong, given what was mixed with it, this seems to be whiskers that are biodegrading.  A lot of whiskers biodegrading.  There was shaving creme in the drawers to back up that supposition.  As well as whiskers mixed in various states of breaking down.  If I had thought of it sooner, I would have taken a more balanced picture that caught the passage of time.  But I was sort of grossed out and this represents a lot of end-state whiskers from the bottom of the vanity.

The cleanup smelled awful!  My brother, who seems not to have the best sense of smell walked in while I was cleaning drawers, pre-warned that it didn't smell so good, and said, "That smells bad!"  I worry that I was subjecting my lungs and immune system to aerosolized whiskers and nasties all to save $300 on a vanity.

Here's the back of the vanity.  Looks like mouse poop, but it's primarily clumped up bits of hair.  The back of the vanity is still sealed with caulk, so I'm not exactly sure how they got all this to the back (it was clean when we switched renters last).  The drawers don't even go all the way back on the sliders.  they stop about three to four inches short.  So there shouldn't be anything back that far.

It's all clean now.  Beautifully so.  Bars are fixed.  And lining paper put in just to ensure that I don't have to worry that enough cleaner to pickle my hands still wasn't enough to kill every whisker-eating microbe who called the vanity home.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Riding a bike at 80 kph down Trollstigen

Why? Because it's there I guess.  That does look like a fun place to ride a bike if you're not worried about cars.  Or trolls.

Why backwards?  Maybe he put his front tire on backwards, like Ming did and the only way to know he's going 80 kph is to go backwards?

View Larger Map

Someone who looks like someone I know....

We were watching a little bit of the old Burt Ward and Adam West Batman and Robin and Batgirl showed up to help the dynamic duo punch out some bad guys near their Londinium Batcave.  A little while later, she showed up as her alter ego, Barbara Gordon, and I said to my wife, "You know who she (Yvonne Craig) looks like?"  She responded, "Audrey Hepburn."

"Absolutely," I replied.  "If you crossed her with Ming's wife."  

"She does!" she exclaimed.

Here's Yvonne looking like she did as Barbara Gordon.  Ming, does your wife know martial arts and have a secret batcycle?  When you go to wedding dances, does she only seem to know the Batusi?

Yvonne was also Orion Marta in the original Star Trek episode, "Whom Gods Destroy".  Yep, the green woman.  Rachel Nichols of Continuum (Netflix-able) played her in the new movies.

The Batusi, in case you don't want to look it up yourself:

In which Home Depot plays an April Fool's joke on me in December

I was swapping out outlets and covers at the rental property today, among many other messy things (maybe I'll post that next...).  I got to this plate cover and, in because I was in screwing auto pilot, just putting screwdriver to screw without really thinking about it, was momentarily incredibly confused.  I'm glad one of the outlets was wired wrong initially so I could over it with a flat plate and had an extra outlet cover available.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

That's a lot of emotion, Mr. Spock

I love this Star Trek photo of Nimoy and Shatner that was on The Chive.  It makes me happy.

Paths of Glory

Ming, Kyle, and I went to Paths of Glory at The Trylon last night, part of their Stanley Kubrick series. It was a very good movie. Exceptionally good.  I was expecting a lot of World War I trench warfare, war-movie fight scenes, but that was only the first part of the movie.  The rest of it centered around three French soldiers being tried as representatives for their comrades, court martialed for cowardice.  Kirk Douglas was exceptional as their colonel and defending lawyer.  It wasn't at all like modern U.S. criminal/court movies.  There wasn't all sorts of surprise and law jargon and twists and a good ending.  Instead it was obvious it was a kangaroo court and the generals were intent on demonstrating to the other soldiers the results of not following orders no matter how insane the objective or the situation.  Even when Kirk Douglas reveals that the commanding general ordered his artillery to fire on his own trenches to force them to move, the three French soldiers are still shot by a firing squad - that twist usually frees the front line soldiers in a US movie.  The only result of the revelation is that the general is tagged for sacrifice - career, not his life - as well.  All the while the generals are partying and drinking and enjoying the French castles.

Just how crazy the generals are is demonstrated by General Broulard who says (the part in bold refers to the general command of superior officers), "Maybe the attack against the Ant Hill was impossible. Perhaps it was an error of judgment on our part. On the other hand, if your men had been a little more daring, you might have taken it. Who knows? Why should we have to bear more criticism and failure than we have to?...These executions will be a perfect tonic for the entire division. There are few things more fundamentally encouraging and stimulating than seeing someone else die...You see, Colonel, troops are like children. Just as a child wants his father to be firm, troops crave discipline. And one way to maintain discipline is to shoot a man now and then."

Way better than a Clint Howard movie.

I strongly recommend reading the Wikipedia article.  Kubrick married the German singer at the end of the movie.  And I didn't realize Blackadder spoofed some of the trial scenes.  The history is fascinating: it wasn't released in France until '75 and Spain until 1986.

Maple Bacon Chocolate

One of the team coaches I work with brought me back this maple bacon chocolate bar from his trip to a customer focus meet in Washington state.  I tried to only eat half and save the other half for later.  I failed.  It's sort of like a rice krispie-based chocolate bar, but with crunchy bits of bacon instead of crunchy bits of puffed rice.  It was very good, particularly as I didn't get around to lunch until after 1:00.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Learning Node.js

This silly little file watcher in Node.js made me really happy. It's not anything different than code I've done in C# or VB or Rails ( is different linguistically, but functionally, it's the same), but it was exciting that I didn't have to mess around much with configuration to get it to work.  Other than remembering to kick up my command window as an administrator.  That's the bane of my getting anything to work.  I always forget until I remember to make a shortcut that specifically starts in admin mode.

I bought Pragmatic Programmer's Node book for half price during their Black Friday sale.  I think my timing was particularly strange, because it seems like it's been cancelled.  My e-book is now a collector's item!  There are a number of Javascript packages we use in our code and most frameworks came after my heyday as a developer, so they're all new and particularly fun to me.

And I got to learn that Harmony exists - which was new to me.  Despite it having been a proposal since 2008 when I was still coding.  I don't know that there's any hope for me to feel caught up if I'm still learning things five years old (though not yet released).

Aha - not cancelled.  Just the page was cancelled. Here's the book link.  It's Node.js the Right Way.  I'm about a quarter of the way in, which isn't as far as it looks from the table of contents.  I'm only up to reading and writing files asynchronously.  It gets significantly more exciting after this if I'm to believe the foreshadowing.

Birthmark Generator

I think you're just a bit too much into detail if you feel the need to spend $1.00 on a birthmark generator for your role-playing campaign.  And adding it to your wishlist so someone else can buy it for you?  I'd rather my friend spent some time creating their own list and saved us both a dollar.

If you really need one, head over to Wikipedia and use their list.  Don't use Google.  Most of the images returned are fairly serious birthmarks.  Not your run of the mill kind. You can add some basic percentages around the categories, and then just use a 1d12 if the birthmark is one that can vary (the Mongolian Spot has a particular location, but 1d12 almost captures the % for a mole accurately): head/left arm/right arm/face/neck/chest/back/left leg/right leg/butt/left foot/right foot.

If you use a 1d10 and divide by 2, you can even tie the birthmark to mythology or a character's history using the folklore area.  Rolled a six, so that port-wine stain on the...1 on a d4...left side of your face that's the size of a...6 on a 1d10...spring break tramp stamp...that looks like a......peace from when your mother saw a beholder while you in the womb!  You're lucky she didn't look in the wrong eye, but she's pretty sure it was actually blind as well as missing a few stalks. Lucky...but that crippled beholder is still looking for the one that got away and that birthmark ties you to it in some way.

I hope I've saved you a dollar.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

The Mary Sue says the people who made Saw will be making Scary Tales to Tell in the Dark, the movie.  Ack!  Eryn and I still talk about the time we read that book and the Harold the Scarecrow story.  She was about five, and the story ends with Harold the Scarecrow skinning one of the two farmers.  It was the first story we read where I realized perhaps I should have read the whole book to myself before sharing.  That will make a damn scary movie.


I saw this on my Google maps the other day.  If you're a frequent Savage Love reader like I am, the first thing that comes to mind when you see pegman is not the little pink and blue people you stick in cars in the Game of Life.  As a matter of fact, today's Savage Love even has an email from a woman who is disappointed that her GGG husband isn't into pegging.  Don't know what I'm talking about?  Then if you have any common sense, and you're reading this sentence, and NSFW means anything to you, don't follow this link to Wikipedia.

It didn't help change my association of the word when after I clicked on him down in the lower right corner, he bent forward at the waist.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Let It Snow - Picard Style

Captain Picard sings "Let It Snow!" with supporting cast.

Top Hacks from a PM Behind Two of Tech's Hottest Products

This was an excellent article.  And Cover looks like a simple, but amazing, idea.  I'd worry I couldn't find things I was after if it was a seldom used app - my brain works positionally - but I think I'd get used to it and it would automate some of the things my brain already does by grouping depending on my context.  The article inspired me to go give some ad hoc feedback for a product manager who I feel embodies some of these behaviors.  Some great advice that applies not just to product managers, but to project managers and application development managers as well.

Some of my favorite parts from the article:

  • This means sharing your slides or your outline prior to the meeting so they’re informed and feel good about everything, even if it’s just over email.”  [if you've ever been on the end of product owners being surprised during a slide presentation, you'll understand exactly how important this advice is].
  • Do the boring stuff that makes a difference and moves things forward.
  • eliminate as many meetings as you can.
  • put together a story of what’s going on.
  • “To inspire a team, tell a good story. Then break it down into an execution plan.”
  • Be a shit umbrella, not a shit funnel
  • The great thing about designers and engineers working in proximity is that they can keep each other motivated and productive. Engineers are galvanized by the images and ideas the designers churn out, and the designers are re-inspired when they see their creations come to life.
  • You need a team task list that transcends a simple bug system. It should be big, ideally on a whiteboard that everyone can see and consult.
  • “At every company, there is a collection of people who are known for their excellent product sense — usually it’s a founder, a senior engineer, a director of product, depending on the size of the company,” he says. “But when you see a PM pushing for a certain product decision and holding her own in discussions with these people, you can assume she’s got admirable product chops.”

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Tempting Job Opportunities

I almost wish I'd known what Secretary Hand was before today, because I think this job listing from the Center for Early Modern History at the U of MN looks interesting.  I came very close to doing my master's thesis on XML markup instead of dystopias, and the rest of the listing is primarily tech (CMS), management, and project management.  All skills where I exhibit at least some competence.  Except for those pesky parts about paleography. I'm embarrassed I didn't know what secretary hand was after many years as a Tudor/Stuart history major.  Particularly as I read all sorts of documents no doubt translated from secretary hand originals.  The Wikipedia article even mentions a shift during the reign of Henry VII, which is where I focused most of my studies.

There are some neat tutorials out there that didn't exist when I was a college student, like this one from The National Archives and this basic Scottish secretary hand tutorial.  I hope someone kicks themselves some day for not knowing they should have learned NodeJS to read some of what I produced.  Who am I kidding.  They'll probably hire some poor intern to decipher bad Visual Basic Secret Santa Code.


EMMO Project Manager, Folger Shakespeare Library The Folger Shakespeare Library seeks an energetic and experienced Project Manager for a 3-year IMLS grant-funded project, Early Modern Manuscripts Online (EMMO). The PM will work closely with the Curator of Manuscripts and associated staff on the planning, implementation and assessment of EMMO, a searchable database of transcribed and digitized early modern manuscript texts. The PM will: assist in the development and implementation of workflows for the execution of project activities; maintain project and content management systems for the project; manage and monitor the grant budget; and contribute to the testing, evaluation, and improvement of the transcription and tagging environment. Working closely with two grant-funded paleographers, the PM will also participate in the creation and sustaining of a community of volunteer transcribers.

 The ideal candidate will have an advanced subject degree in early modern English literature or history and an MLS, with training in early modern English paleography preferred. This position requires project management experience, preferably in a research library or museum setting. Experience with XML and project and content management systems, such as Drupal, and the ability to work in a collaborative, flexible, and creative environment, are necessary. Strong organizational skills, budget management experience, and outstanding communication skills are required. Preference will be given to candidates with experience in crowd-sourcing, scholarly textual editing, and the transcription of manuscripts in English secretary and other early modern hands. Interested individuals should email cover letter and resume to: Folger Shakespeare Library, EOE For details about the project, see the Folger research blog, The Collation:


Song of the South

I enjoyed watching this video Disneycember: Song of the South. I loved Song of the South when I was a kid. It was perhaps my favorite Disney movie. And yes, the tar-baby story was my favorite. I fully agree with Doug Walker that the cartoons were enjoyable, James Baskett was absolutely amazing (Eryn was surprised I knew all the words to Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah), and the rest of the

I'm sure the obvious racial issues would bother and distract me now.  Just like they often do in Loony Toons shorts.  But through the lens of my childhood, it's a good memory.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Manos: Hands of Felt and Other Puppetphenalia

I backed a puppet production of Manos: Hands of Felt, and this weekend they sent me access to a copy.  It's a popular motif.  I backed The Gamers: Hands of Fate as well.  No puppets in that production.

We sat down as a family to watch it.  It was much shorter than the MST3K version and lasted just over an hour.  That's plenty of time for a puppet show in my opinion.  However, it immediately remedies one of the issues with the original which is that it seems to go on forever.

Hands of Felt was very amusing, although my family stated many times during the show, "This is really confusing."  What's confusing about dead puppet brides strapped to stakes and movie directories slowly losing their minds?  I think it was less confusing than the original.  Puppets definitely helped rather than hindered.  It was slow in a few spots.  But invariably that was where Hands of Felt were making a joke that required knowing something about the original, so they worked it for a bit.  Supposedly a bots-type track will be added at some point.  So the MST3K guys will have riffed on the original and Hands of Felt will have riffed on MST3K and then Hands of Felt will riff on their own riff.  Who knew Torgo and The Master would ever get that much play.

While I can't give you a link to Hands of Felt, I will provide you with this video for a Magic the Gathering puppet musical (via io9). I like the first number the best.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Power Reading

Ten years ago - I can estimate the approximate year because I was reading dystopias and taking notes on the bus for my master's degree - I was in the Garlough Elementary Power Reading program as part of a work volunteer program.  Power Reading has volunteers pair up with kids so the kids can practice their reading and get comfortable with reading as a habit.  It was where I first learned about Harry Potter because the first kid that read to me carried around a Harry Potter book to read even though he couldn't read it yet.  It was his ultimate goal.  So I read it right away during the program so we could talk about why he was excited.

I realized I was still using a bookmark one of the kids gave me to mark my library books.  And then I realized the kids who had read to me were either now in college, or at least college-age.