Archive for January, 2017

Recently…

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

Some images from the recent past.

Not a lot else to say. We’re working hard on the new app, and a lot of it is coming together nicely.

Recently did some things that needed to get done on the house. Re-stuccoed the back exterior wall. Had the side fence rebuilt after it collapsed, and also shortened the front & redid the gate. Likely going to get a deck in the back in Feb, which has been years in the making, and continually pushed off for various reasons. Thinking about getting some sort of climbing structure for the backyard. Still looking at houses for the parents. I thought the market had cooled, but apparently not.

I need to find something I enjoy doing that will get me back in better health, and some time to actually do it. Eating habits have improved somewhat, but not made a really tangible difference. Partly because I’m eating less, but I’m eating more carbs. If I can eat as much as I am now, and shift to a low-carb diet, I think that’ll make a huge difference. But it also makes cooking more difficult, and cooking has been a recently-revived pleasure.

I’m finding one of my favorite meals to have company at is Sunday morning breakfast. I made pancakes the other day…

…and they turned out awesome. They were a “Japanese Fluffy Pancakes” recipe, and basically yeah, that’s what they are. Pancakes that are 3-4x thicker than normal, but fluffy and light. Still taste like pancakes, with a pancake-like consistency.

Reading

Been reading The Daily Show (The Book): An Oral History and it’s fantastic. It shows what goes into making something that was consistently great, and something new that didn’t exist before. As someone who watched it consistently for 10+ years, it’s a really wonderful read. Highly recommended.

Also been working through Three Parts Dead, which is the kind of book I wish I could write. Takes a neat premise, and then blows it out and builds a whole world & characters around a core conceit. Works beautifully, with interesting characters & a really interesting core idea. Sort of a murder mystery, in a world where magic and gods exist, but are governed by contracts. Weird but good.

Kids

The kids are good. Basically like before, but moreso. They’re making little books, and they’re continually delightful and surprising. K’s starting to be able to read words, and is definitely putting a lot of letters together. Personally, I need to try to devote more time to spend on teaching him stuff. With J, he had the luxury of being the sole focus, and it’s harder with two, but something I need to really be conscious of and work at. Funny little guy. He’s in a “mom” phase at the moment, where basically I might as well be chopped liver, but he’s still such a joy to be around.

J lost his first top front tooth about a month ago, so he’s kinda funny-looking at the moment. He and his friends at school are continually making up games, and it’s great to hear about all the weird ideas they have. Mostly around monsters, different types of monsters, etc. He’s also been making up a lot of jokes. Funnily enough, K got in a good one the other day. “What does the rock say when it goes bowling? Rock and roll!” He apparently made that up on his own! J’s also making up a lot of jokes, and some of ’em have been really great.

Politics

I’ve taken a few months off of Twitter and Facebook – ever since the election. Recently, I’ve gotten to reading through them both again, and it’s just depressing. It’s not surprising, per se, it’s just depressing. Eh, that’s not actually true. It is surprising how completely free of any hint of integrity the GOP has been. History will judge them poorly. As for me, I know it’s not the right approach, and it’s not the effective approach, but here’s my perspective. If you voted third-party, I think you’re an idiot. No, really. I think you have no ability to make coherent judgments about argument, you were fundamentally unaware of the world & the plight non-majority groups were facing, and whatever hissyfit you had about Clinton, you voted like an asshole, and I think you’re an idiot. IF you voted for the GOP candidate, I will never forgive you and you are not welcome in my life in any capacity. I will not work with you. You are not welcome in my house. We are not friends, and cannot be friends. Yes, I realize that is ineffective at bridging the divide or whatever bullshit. Oh well. I don’t care what you think of me – I sincerely do not. History will judge you poorly, and you deserve every bit of it.

Videogames

Since the election, I’ve found myself a lot less interested in playing most games. I’m sick of shooting man-children yelling homophobic slurs online. I’m bored of stories where everything is shoot everybody. But I’m also bored of stories where I walk from place to place and watch things happen. If I want a story, I’ve found more interesting content in movies and TV. If I want interaction, with extraordinarily little exception, the kinds of interaction I find in games is unsatisfying now. I like some strategy, I like word games. I still like the game we’re making, and a lot of it’s coming together in interesting ways. But most console stuff? Eh. I dunno. Titanfall 2 was excellent. Clever, inventive, and tight as a drum. I still need to finish Uncharted 4, which is something I didn’t expect I’d need to say. It had some really wonderful moments. But then I got to some “shoot everyone” section, and … eh.

I wonder what my future holds, in that regard. If Wonderspark doesn’t work out (and sadly, we’re getting close to the end of the runway), I don’t know what I’d do next. I don’t like most of what’s being made in my industry. Most of what people are making is just … boring. And I don’t think I could do something like Wonderspark again. If we don’t make it, it’s because… well, reasons. I’ll do some sort of post-mortem if we get to that point. In the meantime, we still have one more swing at the plate, and we’re devoting everything we’ve got to it.

Summary

Yeah, I think that’s the bulk of it at the moment. Mostly just a sort of state-of-the-world-induced malaise. It doesn’t bother me most of the time, because work and the kids demand my attention. But in the quiet moments… yeah.

 

Oakland

Monday, January 30th, 2017

I love Oakland.

The fact that Uber is going to be a mainstay of downtown Oakland’s tech scene, and probably one of Oakland’s biggest employers, disgusts me. I don’t want them in my city. They don’t stand for what Oakland stands for.

Companies are, in a way, expressions of who their leaders are. Uber didn’t make a solid statement against the Muslim Ban because Travis Kalanick is a piece of shit. Uber, as a company, behaves like garbage because it’s leadership is garbage. Character matters because there are so many pressures to grow in a situation like this – to put money and growth over everything. Some companies do exactly that – they scramble for every dollar without any concern for their role in a larger world.

Other companies actually stand for something. And if you look, simply, at the difference between Uber and Lyft, there’s a clear difference in character between the two companies that isn’t situationally-dependent. You can tell because those differences are consistent, and because they make the companies’ behavior predictable. I’m not a fan of the “gig economy” in its current form. I think in practice, it’s exploitative across the board, though some do it better than others. But if you look a the difference between Lyft and Uber, you can see the difference character in leadership makes. One company might figure out how to make the “gig economy” work, because fundamentally, they believe in something that isn’t garbage. The other is Uber.

Off to a start.

Monday, January 30th, 2017

I don’t think it’s an understatement to say that if you’re not out of your mind, 2017 is off to a worse start than say, any other year in my lifetime. I’d taken a break from Facebook and Twitter after the election because I felt like that moment was as insane as things could possibly get. That enough people in the country voted for this guy was crazy, but at least it would get better because once he was in power, he’d have to moderate himself to get things done. Guess not. The theory was that at least the GOP would push him a little centrist, but I have no idea why anyone would have thought that, because in practice, the GOP has now completely revealed itself to be utterly spineless, and to stand for nothing other than power and self-aggrandizement.

Sure, you get posturing – Marco Rubio saying he was maybe not gonna approve Tillerson, for instance – but when the chips come down, every single time, everyone in the GOP reveals themselves to be a spineless, gutless sycophant. Surprise. So you’ll forgive me if I don’t think that McCain and Graham’s announcement about their opposition to the Muslim Ban means a hill of beans until they actually do something, which I fully expect they won’t.

And this all ties into something that’s been bugging me for the last few years, but has come into focus over the last few months.

It really doesn’t mean shit what anyone says. The only thing that matters is what someone does when it means something.

I can talk about my ideals all day. If I betray them in the heat of the moment, my ideals are worthless. I can claim to be someone’s friend. Whether I am or not depends on what I do when they’re suffering. Values without action don’t mean shit. What you actually value is what you do. That’s the only meaningful expression of what you value, and there’s no way to go back to your values being what you say if what you do when it counts is different.

That’s character. That’s who you are. You either put up, and act like you say you will, or shut the fuck up, you hypocrite.

There are, unfortunately, still a lot of people who will choose to believe what you say, which means people are rarely held to account for their actions. And this applies to both personal lives and to politics. It’s a shame. I get it, people don’t like to be confronted with the fact that some people are gutless. It happens. You get to know someone based on what they say they believe, and those beliefs are in practice, rarely actually put to the test.

So yeah – both in politics and in personal lives… don’t listen to the words. Look at the actions.

That’s all that matters.

 

The Crisp

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

K eats his pizza from the “crisp”. Which means he eats it crust-first. I think he refers to “crust” generically as “the crisp”, and I just wanted to get that down for posterity ’cause it’s adorable.

Stuffs

Thursday, January 19th, 2017
  • Got a huge section of the fence rebuilt. Shortened the front & gate to 3′ from the 6′ we had before, and will be trimming the hedge in front down to the same height, mostly just to open up the front space a bit. We’d originally had it at 6′ because that was what was recommended for if you had a larger dog. But Mobi isn’t jumping over a 3′ fence anymore.
  • Been working on assembling models for Palladium Books’ game, Robotech RPG Tactics. Why? I don’t know. I don’t have anyone I’m likely going to carve out time to play this game with – you’d have to be a pretty hardcore Robotech fan to want to bother, but there’s something zen-like about it. Reminds me of building 40K minis over a summer in college. Having cuts on my hands from X-acto knives & fingertips Krazy-Glued together has a weirdly comforting glow about it. And Robotech is still pretty rad.
  • 3D printed a handful of Hot Wheels track joints last night, to set up a side-by-side ramp for the kids. Who then promptly totally lost interest in it after having been super excited about it for a day. J would send cars down and then jump (as far as I could tell, inadvertently) out of excitement as the cars ran down the ramp, through the loop, and jumped over obstacles he set up.
  • Just finished Mark Webber’s book. I was a fan of his over the last handful of years in F1 – was one of the few people who I thought was always a straight shooter. His book is sort of what you might expect. Not flashy, but fairly straightforward. I enjoyed it a lot, though I think if you’re not a fan of his, specifically, and expecting it, it’ll be kinda a dry read otherwise.
  • Recently added a backup camera to the M3, which required disassembling a good chunk of the dashboard and then running a cable back to the trunk. I need to do one final thing to tidy it up properly (and fish out a plastic connector that I dropped into the battery well), but it went pretty smoothly. Not long after that, I replaced a bit of steering wheel trim that had started to peel. Not huge jobs or anything, but nice to do some hands-on repair.
  • Speaking of which, I also replaced my iPhone 6+’s battery with a kit from iFixit. I’d also replaced my old old 3rd gen iPod’s battery with a kit from there, and it’s great that a company’s making sure older tech doesn’t all just get junked the moment it’s not perfect. I find the process of taking things apart, fixing something, and putting it back together very satisfying. Maybe sort of like the model building.
  • I need to do more to get back in shape. More weightlifting, more core. I did something fairly unpleasant to my lower back at the beginning of summer when I was running around trying to take care of my dad’s office stuff, and it’s never quite gotten better. As what appears to be a result of that, I also borked my left shoulder – appears to me like compensating for the back somehow puts a lot of stress on my shoulder. So I need to spend more time exercising and getting stronger.
  • Been also doing a little bit more cooking than we had been before, which has been a real positive. Still not doing well re: weight loss. Sad thing is I know what I need to do (cut carbs/sugar), I just lack the will to do it. But at the same time, I think the current setup, where we’ve been eating more home-cooked food may lend itself to an improvement there. One step at a time.

Yeah.