Archive for November, 2016

Games!

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

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Why yes, of course these are totally real pictures of the kids playing games.

Okay, they’re actually *kind of* real. J is legitimately constantly wanting to actually play the real Pokemon game, and K did actually ask me to set up the chess board, even though he lost interest five seconds after it was set up. His friend E was interested in playing, but I don’t think either of them understood the finer points of opening moves.

It’s weird, though, how everything basically ends up in one room. J’s playing Pokemon in the space between the couches and the front door, because no one ever does anything in separate rooms, even though we have oodles of space. *shrugs*

Oh! Go see Moana. It’s great.

Recent Rando Stuff

Monday, November 28th, 2016

Started watching Star Trek Beyond, and they managed to create spectacle, which is something I honestly didn’t expect. Great stuff. Also picked up a handful of games on Black Friday sales – Gears of War 4, Far Cry: Primal, Battlefield 1, Hitman: The First Season, and Mad Max. So far only spent any reasonable time with Gears and Battlefield, but both are interesting – Gears because it’s reliably Gears-y, and Battlefield 1 because it’s kind of shockingly well done re: how it handles war & death & the horror & senselessness of it.

Also started watching a PBS series called Soundbreaking, and it’s FANTASTIC. Really amazing show about recorded music, what producers do, the history of hiphop, etc. It’s kind of bonkers how good the show is.

SD

Friday, November 25th, 2016

Spent the last few days in San Diego with some friends & their families. We ended up going to the San Diego Zoo, which was fantastic – I think I was there many years ago with my grandparents, but I haven’t been in ages. It’s like the Oakland Zoo ate three more zoos and had five times the budget. Ended up getting rained on, but it was fun nonetheless.

We also got to hang out with Seth, which was great, and see his work, which was … more or less exactly as expected. Went back to Kula Sushi, which the kids really love (and yeah, okay, I like it too – it’s not great sushi, but it is a great experience).

We then spent two days at Legoland, which was really fun. It’s not necessarily mindblowing if you’re coming from a Disneyland or what have you, but it’s a really fun place – Miniland (where they recreate a bunch of real-world places out of Lego) was pretty fantastic, and seeing the excitement on the kids’ faces was a real treat. We went on a handful of rides (J’s not into coasters, and K’s still too small), but they had a neat 3-D interactive Ninjago ride which was pretty amazing. You’d throw energy balls with your hands at targets as you moved around a place with a bunch of 3-D screens, and  both of the kids got a huge kick out of it. One of the more interesting uses of tech + ride I’d seen recently. VR headsets on a ride like that would have been pretty amazing.

The drive up & back wasn’t too bad – bits of traffic in LA, but more or less smooth sailing the entire rest of the way. La Brea Tar Pits, SD Zoo, Legoland all in one trip, combined with a nice pool & a hot tub? Yeah, life’s pretty great.

Balboa

Monday, November 21st, 2016

Slow morning this morning, but after hanging out with U/C & the gang at the pool, we ended up going to Balboa Park, to the Science Museum & the Natural History museum. Great trip – the science museum was fun, and the Natural History Museum’s “premium exhibit” was Sue, the fossil that was the subject of a documentary we’d watched called Dinosaur 13. It was a neat exhibit, even without the fossil – one fun thing was sitting in a rotating chair & flapping a couple differently-shaped wings to get a feel for how different they were.

Tomorrow, it sounds like we’re hitting up the Zoo then visiting with Seth. Should be a good time.

Tar Pits

Saturday, November 19th, 2016

So here’s something I didn’t know until today, despite being obsessed with dinosaurs & prehistory, and then going through two waves of kid-driven dinosaur/prehistory obsession…

Animals don’t sink in tar pits. They get stuck, like on flypaper, and die of starvation or exposure, then eventually more tar bubbles up through the surface & covers them. All the images of mammoths half-submerged in tar pits while getting mauled by (also doomed) sabertooth cats? Not how it worked.

We drove down to Lebec last night, spent the night there, then crossed the grapevine & visited the La Brea Tar Pits today. Great trip. We then headed down to Carlsbad with some friends for a few days here at Legoland with the kids (and possibly seeing uncle Seth).

So far, awesome.

What’s up?

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016

Work’s been interesting. We’ve been making a ton of progress on a really weird and novel feature. It’s been interesting to see how it works and how it doesn’t, but basically we’ve got something that’s showing a lot of promise, and that’s been really nice.

This weekend, we’re driving down to San Diego for a few days to visit with some of Ei-Nyung’s friends and go to Legoland and the La Brea Tar Pits with the kids (and probably see Uncle Seth while we’re down there). Coming back on Thanksgiving Day, so I’m assuming our Thanksgiving feast will be pretty subdued. Excited for the trip, though. Should be interesting.

Kinda funny, though – I put a set of Bridgestone RE-71R tires on the M3 earlier this year, because I wanted to get some higher-performance tires than the Pilot Super Sports I was using before. I’d end up destroying the PSS’s on the track long before they’d have run out mileage-wise, so I figured that getting some higher-performance tires w/ shorter lifespans would be fine. Well, I’ve been to the track exactly zero times since I’ve put them on, and I’ll have made a drive to SoCal *twice*, eating through probably a quarter of their wear just on two trips. Ha. Welp. Whatchagonnado? A second set of wheels, I guess.

I also got a backup camera kit for the car which I’m gonna try to install myself. Should be interesting. I need to basically replace the trunk handle with the camera + replacement handle, then run a wire from the back all the way to the front of the car, which means disassembling a good deal of interior bodywork, including the dashboard and nav system. :O Will I be able to reassemble it all? WHO KNOWS. Should be interesting, though. I figure if I get through this successfully, chances are good I’ll be able to do that bluetooth retrofit I’d intended to do way back when, but never did.

I cleaned up a lot of the basement “nook” and reorganized it so the music gear and bookshelves are more accessible, and have been getting some use out of it, which is great.

The kids are super into Pokemon recently, which has been interesting. Got Pokemon Sun coming for the 3DS on Friday, but it’s been interesting learning about the card game, and how little the card game is relevant to the kids’ interest in Pokemon. The design of the characters is brilliant, though – they’re adorable, but they’re also humorous, often very clever, and sometimes quite sad. I hope over time we’ll be able to get those bits of craft into our game as well.

 

A Stephen Colbert Episode I’ll Never Watch

Sunday, November 13th, 2016

Election night, I signed up for a free trial of Showtime, because Stephen Colbert would be doing a live election show. We watched about 20 minutes of it before it started to become obvious that things weren’t going the way folks had expected. Around the same time, the stream died. We turned it off, unable (for reasons both technical and emotional) to keep watching.

I looked at it today, still listed on Showtime, and thought, I just can’t watch this. It’s not even like watching a video of a funeral for a beloved friend, It’s like watching a tape of them getting murdered.

We got out a bit today – went out to Swan’s Market for lunch with the kids, where we picked up a funny variation on Tic Tac Toe called Goblet Gobblers. Basically TTT with three different sized pieces, and the larger pieces can eat the smaller ones. Fun to try to understand both the strategy of the game & to teach the kids.

We also printed up some more Pokemon – a Rhydon for J, and a Cubone Skull for the two kids. Both turned out well – could use a little optimization on a few parts, but 95% good. Pokemon are the perfect 3D printing thing, though, because there are so many of them, there can’t possibly be standard retail merch for most Pokemon. It’d be neat if TPC would make purchaseable & properly licensed .stl files, but I realize that’d be an absurd amount of work for such a niche audience.

Odd Benefits

Saturday, November 12th, 2016

I guess they’re not really “odd”. Disconnecting from social media has been interesting, because it’s been such a part of my life for so long now that it’s almost reflexive. Oh I should tweet this, or “where’s the ‘share’ button?” And without comments on the WP site (true? Can you comment, or can I just not see the comment button?), it’s a bit like talking into a void where there used to be a consistent, though mostly passive, audience.

And so there’s no audience. There’s no discussion. It means I have spent a significantly smaller amount of time staring at my phone, and I definitely feel less connected to the world at large. I don’t see much news, except what I seek out, and I don’t hear everyone’s reaction to everything. And frankly, for the last week, that’s definitely been a good thing, because it’s just sadness and rage and stories of violence and hate, what bits I’ve seen through other channels – and I feel all that already, to the degree that I think if I had a bunch of people reinforcing that and creating a spiral amplification, I don’t know if I’d deal with reality all that well right now.

But it’s meant avoiding cynicism and depression and anger, which means I can be present for the kids. It’s weird, though – feels like I’m just ignoring shit I don’t want to hear right now. Maybe that’s true. But also, maybe it’s necessary for me.


I’d preordered The Hamilton Mixtape, since they started releasing songs on it for preorders, and it’s been oddly… I wouldn’t say “reassuring”, but it’s timely and relevant in a way that wouldn’t have been the case if things had gone a more reasonable way.

The songs of Hamilton are just … astonishingly wonderful in their original context, as part of this great story about the founding of the US – they humanize it and make it relatable in a way that I haven’t gotten out of any of my history classes. That’d be great on its own, but it also is just a soaring work of art that speaks directly to a lot of fundamental emotions, and listening to songs like My Shot, or It’s Quiet Uptown, and then hearing the remixes and inspirational offshoots that take the subjects out of the Revolution and make them more immediate…

Well. It’s been nice to hear a voice reinforcing what I think of as my ideal America. So thank you, Lin-Manuel Miranda (and everyone on the tape), though none of you will likely ever see this. If you haven’t listened to either Hamilton’s OST (or seen the show, which we’re gonna be doing in 2017!), or what’s been released of The Hamilton Mixtape, you’ve got some vital listening to be doing.


Contemplating moving from WordPress to Squarespace. I’ve enjoyed Squarespace for the Wonderspark blog (wonderspark.co) – it feels modern in a way that WordPress doesn’t – but it also feels like super overkill for a personal blog, which isn’t an e-Commerce site. It’d be nice if there was a merchant function free account that was like, $5/mo. I’d be all over that. In the meantime, though, I’ll just kinda think about whether it’s worth it or not. I should put up a little “portfolio”, though that describes the games I’ve worked on. It’d be nice to have something other than a fairly sterile linkedin page.

*shrugs*


Another thing I really like, though, about dropping off of Twitter and Facebook is that I feel like to communicate, I want to write longer-form stuff, in part because I don’t feel that “tweet”-level of interaction on a regular basis. No one’s “keeping up” with my mundane life, which is fine, because my life’s pretty boring in general. But then thoughts build up, and I wanna talk to someone (hi), and it feels maybe more like saying something meaningful rather than trying to figure out how to fit a complete thought into no space.

I was never efficient with words.


Reorganized the downstairs a bit to make things more accessible – the “last” bookcase had been obstructed by the desk I’d put a bunch of music stuff on. I used the small shelving thing I’d gotten & moved that over to be the shoe rack that I believe it was designed to be, and then reorganized all the music stuff, pulling some things out that I never really used (anyone interested in either a Korg Kaosspad, a Roland TR-505 drum machine, or an Alesis Wedge?), and set up everything else so it was much easier to use, which is great.

I’ve been practicing the drums, and have been getting some lessons from my friend Wes, who’s got a really fascinating (and super effective) way of teaching – basically figuring out where my brain’s running out of bandwidth, then breaking down tasks until it all “fits”, then stepping things up, tackling one part of the problem at a time. It sounds straightforward, like what you should always do, and that’s the kind of magic of it – he’s able to get you to do that, and the process of it feels like a series of constant revelations. It’s neat, and I’ve gotten to a point where I can regularly do things I couldn’t at all before.

On a related note, I didn’t even realize Rock Band Rivals was out. But there it is. I ordered the Ion Drum Kit adapter (finally!), and a wireless guitar, so maybe we can have Rock Band parties again. Maybe even play through the ridiculous Rockumentary mode. It’s nice to see RB4 still kicking. I really hope it’s sustainable, because it’s a really nice experience, even just singing  sporadically over the last year. I don’t get much chance or excuse to sing (other than I can do most of the songs in Hamilton, of course) – and I found that when we played RB regularly, I got significantly better (though not really “good”). So it’ll be nice to dive back into that again.


The neighborhood’s interesting. Got new neighbors across the street to our left. Nice guys, one’s the director of the Oakland Ballet. He invited us to a performance for the Day of the Dead, and so we went, not really knowing what to expect. It was great, and the kids had a lot of fun, which was honestly not what I’d expected! We’ve also now got (as of today) new neighbors on the right. Over the last few years, there’s been a handful of new folks – mostly a bit further down to our left, but everyone we’ve met has been super nice.

It’s been a bummer to see some old-timers go, but at the same time, glad the noobs have been nice, friendly folks. I’m really slow to learn their names, and I realized a big part of it is I need to here them say their names not to me, but to someone else, and that really helps it stick. Weird, but whatever.


Anyway. Feels like a bunch of mundane thoughts. Irrelevant to the things that are going on politically, but I guess that’s how I’m coping for now, in part because I don’t really know what to do that would be effective and something I can handle with the rest of my responsibilities. But it’s definitely something that’s occupying a good portion of my brain – it’s just not getting anywhere yet.

I hope you’re all well. It’s scary. It’s frustrating. It’s not okay. Someone said this phrase to me recently, and it left a really strong impression, because it was exactly the sentiment I needed in the moment.

I’ve got your back.

Whatever it is you need.

Pokiemans

Friday, November 11th, 2016

Busted out the 3D printer for the long weekend, and have been printing up some Pokemon. Have a Rhydon in the works for J, K’s asked for a Weepinbell, and friends are looking for a Dedenne & a Pikachu.

Rhydon finished. I’m still working out how to deal with “support material”, ’cause it’s difficult to separate from the actual model, and there are always zillions of settings to tweak. Now the Weepinbell is in progress. Had to do some weird stuff to get it to print properly, since the “slicer” decided to not create support material for things that obviously needed it (like wings that had parts that it’d apparently try to print in space with no support. Nope.).

 

Finally Audi gets it right.

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

http://jalopnik.com/comment-of-the-day-special-edition-1788836098

 

Wow. Finally Audi’s gotten the “face” of their cars right. I hated the “top-to-bottom” front grille they started (and Lexus abhorrently copied), but there are a few things they get super right here. First, it’s shorter. The front splitter offsets it nicely – second, that line that runs from the bottom up the side to the kink in the headlights creates a nice “space” for it that’s offset from the rest of the front of the car. It looks… svelte, which is the first time I’ve said that about an Audi in ages. I love it.