prog: (The Rev. Sir Dr. George King)

This must be a sort of Saturn Return year for our entire ideological group.
prog: (Default)
Passing the time at Logan, with Amy. For whatever reason, this trip has been preceded by the worst case of aviophobic freakout I've ever experienced. It's been something like a single mid-intensity panic attack, stretched over three days. I can try speculating why this is, but it wouldn't help. I've been talking about it with Amy and that's helped a little. Trying not to get into any magical-thinking modes about this.

The fact that my Xmas eve was entirely plunged into dread and fear was especially rough; reading all the seasons' greetings from my friends across the internet made me feel like I was doing something wrong. Today's better by virtue of having a really swell early Xmas dinner with a few dear friends; that really chased a lot of the shadows away, even if my appetite didn't really suit the occassion. But then we called the taxi and I'm all rather knotted up again.

Gonna throw some tweets out there as we complete legs of this trip. All I want for Xmas is the knowledge that my friends are thinking of me while I work through this. It really is very difficult for me, to the point where I'm likely to seek professional help, later.

Best and sincere wishes from your friend in the skies for a happy Christmas evening...
prog: ("The Sixth Finger" guy)
The first act was ingenious, wonderful, and perfectly paced. [ profile] derspatchel has such an affinity for both creating and delivering radio comedy that one is tempted to conclude he was born 70 years too late. The music from Emperor Norton's Stationary Marching Band was hot, and fit in perfectly as a buffer between the vocal performances. I would have happily sat through another two hours of any material, had it maintained the pace of the first.

Unfortunately, acts II and III - the headline acts, really, involving the War of the Worlds adaptation - needed some seriously fierce editing. I know it's easy for me to say, down here in the audience, but I think it would have been possible to compress them into a single act, or at least into two significantly shorter ones.

Now, there were many strong moments (the scene at the site of the first cylinder landing was particularly memorable, with excellent sound engineering from both Foleys and performers), and the use of the Martian Chorus and the Crazy Sound Dood to represent the Invaders was just wonderful. But: there were many scenes that should have been cut, compressed, or combined, not just to bring the three-hour running time down (not counting intermissions), but to better emphasize the cool stuff.

I would have dropped stuff like the mayor's monologue and at least one of the professor's monologues, and ground more out of the three(!) lengthy doomed-news-reporter sequences. I envision the latter two reporter scenes overlapping or interleaving quite nicely, though I realize that's my film-editing experience talking, and that it would be harder to do on-stage.

I would even consider completely removing all the scenes involving the North End mobsters' club. The moll's introduction would then occur when the professor meets her, letting her mob connections (as well as the mobsters themselves) become revealed as a plot twist later on. I would have found the mobsters' motivations stronger if those characters all showed up as a late-game surprise, fighting side-by-side with the army but also trying to get at each others' backs from the get-go.

But, all this is just me sitting in my comfy chair making sniffing noises about how the great and talented me would have done things, when the fact of the matter is that the PMRP has outdone itself once again with a hell of a show, no matter how much tighter it could stand to be. I'm proud to be able to say I worked with them when they were getting started years ago, and prouder still that they just keep getting better.
prog: (Default)
Congratulations to the Evil Midnight Bombers for running the funnest Mystery Hunt I've attended, to Beginners Luck for solving it first, and to my team of Immoral, Illegal & Fattening for being super awesome. There is no finer group of folks I'd rather be sequestered into a classroom for three days with.

This was my sixth "birthday party" spent at the Hunt, and while I certainly had my share of frustration, I feel I did more solving this year than ever before, as did our team as a whole. This was the first year I think we were really-n-truly trying to win, and everyone put their all into it. It was fun to watch my hardcore-solver friends continue to work even after I'd run out of energy.

In other news: Yes, 100011. And so I officially say adieu to the youth demographic. Very well, says I: this year is gonna gonna be as awesome for me as my age is auspicious (in decimal, anyway).

There will be related pictures up later. But the T is gonna start up soon and I'm pledged to show up at IIF's HQ and help clean up, so they'll have to wait.
prog: (Default)
The obvious comparison is to being a kid on Christmas eve, but it's not like Christmas worked better if you were well-rested enough to focus for the next 30+ hours on ridiculous feats of mental acumen. At least not at my house.

Back home

Dec. 25th, 2008 08:52 pm
prog: (Default)
I couldn't do kung-fu anymore after a full 24 hours, and didn't leave a moment too soon, or late. Now on the couch with a glass of wine that isn't from a ginormous screw-top jug and heating up a (omgwtf)bbq pizza, after which I will take a shower, after which I will procrastinate for a long time before finally returning the car (alla way up by the CVS on Broadway, bah).

Have a couple of pictures that will be going on the facebook soonish. I should start using Flickr again, too.

Happy Xmas

Dec. 25th, 2008 11:08 am
prog: (Default)
Arrived at Fairfield yesterday. Sometime after I made the Zipcar reservation I became determined to shift my mind into a more graceful posture for this visit, a loose kung-fu pose of good cheer and readiness to casually flip any bad crap over my shoulder and onto the mat behind me. And really, I've been having an okay time! And truth to tell, it helps that Ricky's in fairly balanced humors.

Tried to teach the family Ticket to Ride yesterday. Ricky took to it quickly, and as with other games I could tell he liked it because he started telling stories within the confines of the game's rules. He'd draw additional train-car cards not because he needed to build up his hand, but because his men at the switchyard were getting restless with only one car to work on. Since TtR has such a narrow set of possible actions, you can play like this and still play well. When we play Batttle Cry or Memoir '44, he makes tactically terrible moves that give his opponent an advantage, but it furthers the story he's telling so it's OK by him.

I understand now that Ricky's much more interested in rules than gameplay as a whole. This is related to how he became enamored with Catholicism a few years ago, adopting many of its practices - regular mass, the rosary, confession, all of that - and continues to stick to them diligently. So much rigorous ceremony, things he can do every day! I can see the relationship between this and the small, reality-confining space of a game's ruleset, for one with a mind like RIcky's. It's a relief for him to step into, a way to tune himself down for a while, and I can't blame him for being more interested in exploring the rules than trying to win.

Happy 8 day

Aug. 8th, 2008 06:42 pm
prog: (smiley)

(Also I think it's my parents' 55th anniversary. Nobody picked up so I dunno.)


Jan. 16th, 2008 03:25 pm
prog: (Default)
And so we move into my final year in this marketing demographic. (The U.S. Census Bureau will consider me middle-aged next year!)

Due to this week's nuttiness I may end up doing nuthin tonight, through probably I will do one thing or another or both tomorrow. And for years I have considered the mystery hunt to be my birthday observed, so that is excellent. (I think this is the first time the two events have happened more than a day apart, since I started hunting.)
prog: (rotwang)
Just finished the one-off job that [ profile] jtroutman passed over to me. If it doesn't cause the client to catch on fire, I think they'll like it, and I am hoping that it will lead to more work from them. In my delivery letter I noted some recommendations for improvements in their process, and added that I'd be most happy to discuss them further if they'd like. This is good habit for a consultant to get into!

Alongside that invoice, I get to send out my first ever past-due notice to another client. whee

It's starting to look like there really might be a three-way battle over the remaining chunk of my rentable work-time. All is made more interesting by the fact that the bigger contract I've signed peters out after December, giving me room to offer help starting thereafter, should prospective clients miss the boat right now.

Both of my little whiteboards are filled with the current state of all the job-threads I have going on at once. I have seven marked down right now, each with a one-line status summary. Red marker means I am waiting for them to do something, green marker means that the ball's in my court. It's colorful and fun!

I agreed to the agency-mediated article, since I feel like I already halfway agreed to it, and the pay is good. Maybe not maximal, but way more than I've gotten before for online tech articles. The deadline's about three weeks away, and it's only 2000 words. I can do it. If I find that I really like it (and it doesn't take up all the rest of my time), maybe then I'll start talking to publishers directly, seeking to write more.

I managed to land! It will be some time before I put something there. Maybe make it a 2008 goal. Still need to get some nice pictures of myself.

I am going to go see Tomes of Terror II tomorrow night. This is the audio group that I worked with a couple years ago (Chicken Heart!) and who have somehow managed to get better and better despite the lack of my direct involvement ha ha. Its sophomore effort last year really surprised me with how polished the act had gotten, and this year's show is apparently so good that (according to insiders on my flist) an audience member literally fainted from fright at their opening show on Monday. Can't wait to hear it myself!

(Hay [ profile] audioboy, is the Chicken Heart studio-recording MP3 still online somewhere? My old LJ'd links to it aren't working so good.)
prog: (Default)
It has been a full weekend.

Saturday saw a lot of Volity hacking, breaking ground on the web client's server-side component. Once the complete skeleton is built I'll commit it as v0.1, but my fugue state didn't last more than a few hours and I had to be all "whoah" and raise my hands and step away before I could quite get there. Maybe I'll finish it today. Anyway, this will be the first Perl-based Volity sub-project that I've started since I got religion via Perl Best Practices, which taught me to start major projects by writing the tests (and, in so doing, designing the interface) first. So that's exciting. If you're me.

In the evening, [ profile] radiotelescope, [ profile] cthulhia and I saw Day Watch, the sequel to last year's Night Watch, a.k.a. the crazy Russian vampire movie that everyone except for me and the people I saw it with hated. I liked this movie too, though not as much as the first. It replaced the crazy imagery and action of the first movie with some fun plot development. I dug it, but I missed the other stuff. It also contained one completely irritating character, who (among other things) failed Mo's Movie Measure the instant that she was able. Worse was that this occurred during an egregious and overlong "Freaky Friday" sequence, and so I spent five or six minutes in a sustained wince in the middle of this otherwise enjoyable flick, and that was unfortunate.

Sunday was [ profile] classicaljunkie's birthday! Following plans that [ profile] dougo initiated a while ago, and also accompanied by Cthulhia, we drove to Kimball Farms to play miniature golf, or "putt-putt" as CJ calls it in her native language. I hadn't played since I was a kid but I'll be damned if I still didn't have reasonably good chops for it. My friends laughed when I said it was all the golfing video games I play, but I wasn't entirely joking! The place has two courses, and we played both, with me winning the first round and CJ the second (after Cth left), though the point spread was fairly tight.

The courses were enjoyable but rather bland, with one real standout whose like I had never seen before: one hole split in a vee a few feet away from the tee, with one arm snaking towards the cup in the usual fashion, and the other dumping into an artificial stream. As it turns out, the best solution involves purposefully putting into the water, which carries your ball under a platform and through a hidden tube, ejecting it right at the cup. But there's no explicit documentation about this; you either need to watch someone do it, or be intrepid enough to figure that there had to be some reason for the hole's stairway-to-nowhere design, making the leap of faith yourself. Doug was the brave one in our party, and he and I both got holes in one.

The rest of the course was really nothing special, but I just couldn't shut up about that one hole. Great design!

Also did some unexpected networking: the dad of the family playing behind us turned out to be a publisher of some computer and video game magazines from the 1980s and 90s that I loved as a kid! He couldn't help but overhear Doug and I talk about Volity and iPhones and such, and we chatted for a while. he was interested to hear about my startup, so I need to email him a little follow-up today. Had no business cards on hand, but wrote my info on the back of an extra scorecard for him.

Then we went to dinner with [ profile] dictator555, at Pigalle, in the Boylston vicinity. This was the first time I'd really experienced a fancy-dan restaurant where you pay exorbitantly for very little edible mass. It felt like something from a New Yorker cartoon. I ordered a $15 a menu item describing itself as gnocchi, and it meant this quite literally, featuring a gnocchi, one single piece, on a little bed of vegetables; an island in an otherwise large and empty plate. I did appreciate this, though perhaps not in the way they meant me to.

It was delicious, what there was, and I also quite enjoyed the sampling that my dining companions allowed me from their dishes. I said that I'd consider returning the next time I felt the need to really impress someone.
prog: (galaxians)
Went to [ profile] ruthling's birthday bash (orchestrated by [ profile] grr_plus1) and again with the seeing of folks I haven't seen in a while. Left my hat behind because it got eaten by the giant foyer coat pile. I'm sure I shall see it again. Impressed a crowd of other guests' children with my DDR skills. I told them that they will become better than me with practice.

I love DDR. I gotta set up a StepMania machine somehow. (It can only exist in certain rooms of my apt, is the problem, else my landlady yells at me WHAT YOU DOING THE WHOLE HOUSE SHAKE WHAT IS WRONG WHY YOU DO THAT.)

Playing Angband again. I'm having as much fun with it now as I did in, uh, 1998. Currently have a ranger who keeps getting his ass kicked and forced to word-of-recall himself out of bad situations, but notably hasn't dropped dead.

Surviving past the prologue levels and into the long midgame is uncommon for me. When it happens, I'm riveted. When I inevitably do something stupid and die, I still feel like I had a good run.

Even though it's a bloody roguelike, it's enough to let me taste my addictive personality again. At least the game (if it lasts more than 15 minutes) gets into a rhythm of:

  1. Read WoR scroll
  2. Delve until full or forced to retreat
  3. Read WoR scroll
  4. Sell loot, shop, buy two more WoR scrolls
...and that lends itself well to spreading play across multiple play sessions as opposed to a single butt-numb-a-thon.

It is time for me to formulate a personal five-year plan, building off of that four-pillars stuff.

One way of expressing the ultimate goal: By 2012, I want to never need to work a day job again. This alone is not my primary motivation, but it is probably the most implication-filled of them, so there you have it.

Long-time readers will recall that five years ago today, in January 2002, I thought I was poised to take over the world as a writer of technical books. This did not happen. (I did write books, but to my surprise I hated it, and stopped as soon as my contracts were met.) Time has passed, and I have a renewed and (I daresay) far more potent pool of resources, experiences, and contacts. And I am much wiser.

Nothing really specific to say about it yet. I don't think the plans will be based on anything I'm not, in essence, already doing; they really will follow from the path I've set with the pillars. And they may end up being more of a framework of interlocking deadlines than actual plans. Whatever works. We'll see.


Jan. 17th, 2007 01:49 am
prog: (Default)
Thanks, all, for the birthday wishes.

Ricky asked me, as he does every year, how it feels to be N. Instead of saying something like "Same as it felt to be N - 1" I said "I think it's gonna be a really good year." And I meant it!

Ricky's birthday was a few days ago (he's 51 now) and mom got him mandolin lessons, which is a bang-on typical good-intention bad-execution mom-gift. He enjoys playing with his mandolin, though he doesn't actually play music on it, he just mechanically plucks doink-doink-doink through the notes on the page. It pleases him, and for some reason Shadow likes it too; she will often come watch.

Lessons will frustrate him, and I worry that he will confuse and disturb his teacher with bizarre talk borne of this frustration. I doubt he will get past lesson two. (If it were 10 years ago I would further suggest the alternate possibility that he might end up seducing the teacher, if she were female and silly, but he doesn't do that anymore.)

He's also going to fly to visit mom and dad for a bit in Florida and I worry about that, too, making a security risk out of himself by talking weird at people. I console myself to think that people like Ricky must fly around every day and it's not like you hear about flights getting grounded daily because of them. mumble

I think the solution to the teleprompter thing involves using Final Cut to make a simple QuickTime movie of the text to read as upward-scrolling titles, just as if they were end credits, and then play that on the monitor behind the camera. No page controls needed. Really, I can't think of why that wouldn't work, with just a little practice to get the speed right.


Jan. 16th, 2007 12:32 pm
prog: (olmos)
33 is palindromic in bases 10 and 2.

I'm sort of vaguely celebrating all week with people and events that are around and happening anyway. It's very good!
prog: (zendo)
For those of you just tuning in, I shall elucidate upon my gift-giving and gift-receiving policies. This applies equally to Xmas and birthdays.

In a nutshell, I do my best to avoid active participation in the gift-exchanging aspects of all of these. I do not gift people due to calendar-bound events, and expect no gifts in return.

I do like to gift people on a whim occasionally. Usually it's a piece of media or a game that I figure some particular individual really must experience for themselves, and I'm so adamant about this that I choose to rob them of the option of not owning it by buying it for them. I tend to put no ceremony around this, other than the surprise, which I admit to finding delightful.

If I have not gifted you in this way, it is because nothing has yet said to me "[your name here] needs this right now", at least not during a time when I have been flush with money. And certainly these periods come and go.

That said, I do gracefully accept gifts at Xmas and other times, so let us go over what I've gotten so far:

[ profile] classicaljunkie got me the Pacific Theater expansion to Memoir '44, which is excellent. It's a little box that includes a sand-colored Japanese army set, new terrain tiles (stuff like jungles, rice paddies, mountains and caves), and plenty of new rules and scenarios. We played one of the Guam landing scenarios and it was hella fun.

My favorite new rules involve movement and battle modifications that apply to both sides in all the Pacific scenarios. The U.S. Marines are Gung-Ho, which in M44 terms means that they can usually order an additional unit in their eagerness to crush the enemy. The Japanese forces balance this by ignoring most retreat-flags rolled against them. They can also perform Banzai attacks, moving two hexes and battling if the target is adjacent (infantry can normally move only one hex and battle), and throwing an extra die if the attacking unit is at full strength. It's great. I will absolutely bring it to the next HoRGN and hope to find an opponent there.

My parents got me the "Party Box" edition of Apples to Apples, which is like the normal edition only more so; it has two card racks and twice as many cards. We played a little as a family and everyone had a good time.

They also got me a hell of a lot of white briefs. I do not wear white or briefs, but I suppose it makes a nice backup supply.

Xmas 2006

Dec. 25th, 2006 09:42 pm
prog: (Default)
Back from Fairfield. The last 36 hours were spent suboptimally; I touched the face of boredom, though I managed not to slide into its howling maw. The answer to "Gee, should I take my laptop?" is yes. Even in internetless places it's a toychest and writing desk, and these can keep me occupied for quite a while. But I chose poorly, and so had only a novel and an iPod, the latter with no ability to recharge. I made do, barely.

I think I've already complained about my whole family (parent and brothers both) being made into racist paranoid goobers by their fears being reinforced and amplified through all the Fox my parents watch and the Art Bell that Ricky listens to, and probably by their local culture as well. I keep forgetting this, and I tend to forget again it a few minutes after every reminder, because, you know, family.

But they are so scared of the Saracen Menace. I mean, honestly, it haunts them. Half of the conversations we had veered into some graveyard-humor joke pointing to the inevitable day when the skies would darken and the Muslims would come raining down, scouring the earth with their acid breath and terrible steel mandibles, unstoppable in their mithril carapaces and vulnerability only to weapons of +2 or greater enchantment. Or whatever, I don't know.

And a lesson in humility for me: Peter spoke excitedly about the Xmas bonus he got, a $50 Hannaford's supermarket certficate, and his wife's $10 cash bonus from her full-time volunteer job. $60 worth of groceries! He was honestly excited at this bounty. Meanwhile I practically blow that much on coffee in a week.

Other than that this was the first time all three McIntosh sons and both parents were gathered together in I-don't-know-how-long. More than two years. The total time of the full convergence was one hour, long enough to eat dinner. It was a fine dinner. I told my mother I'd have to teach her how to steam vegetables, though.

Mom and dad are coming coming down with the cat the day after tomorrow. They sent me home with a truly silly amount of cat stuff, but Shadow won't be wanting at least.

(Deleted the voice post that came before this post.)
prog: (Wario)
My field agents report visual contact with Wiis on shelves in the Portland Mall's Best Buy.

Sadly, the thought of willingly walking into a mall on Xmas eve, and then entering a store that is known to conduct bag searches on its customers (each of whom, it assumes, is likely an Oxycontin-addled thief - not a groundless assumption since this is Maine we're talking about), fills me with loathing, so I will probably give the opportunity a pass.

Still, it's interesting intel. Until now I haven't heard of Wii acquisition outside of those awarded to the first N people in that day's Wii Line, which is another phenomenon I shall have no part of.
prog: (most perfect day ever)
I can't say I blame it.

Happy Solstice. May your fortunes increase with the days.
prog: (jenna)
Allow me to summarize my evening adventures by stating that I managed to get between the Lanes 'n' Games on Rte. 2 and Somerville City hall in half an hour without a car. And Christmas was saved.

Happy birthday to [ profile] taskboy3000! I'm sorry I had to flee from the bowling!!
prog: (Default)
I have had a good couple of days...

Wednesday after the RMV stupidness I went to work and worked from 10 until 4:30 and it was great. I really must make an effort to dig in by 10, when I want to have a work-day like that. Which, um, should really be all of them. Split work early to eat n drink n scheme with J, always delightful.

Thursday I went to eat at [ profile] dictator555's aunt's house with that whole crowd, which was kind of random but quite welcome. I actually didn't think about what I'd do for T-day until Wednesday afternoon. I IMed [ profile] classicaljunkie to ask if it'd be tacky to post my Thanksgiving Orphan status on LJ, and then she was like EAT WITH US OM NOM NOM and I was like ok ok.

Hanging out with a friend's extended family that you don't know at all is always a little strange, and as a shy nerd at heart I found it a little rough at times, but I still made it out with not only an overful l belly but experience at playing four-handed Cribbage (for this family, like mine, are native New Englanders). This is actually pretty nifty and I look forward to teaching the variant to my own family up north!

On the train ride home I sat near a woman who was flirting really really loudly and I dare say tactlessly with the guys sitting behind her for the whole 1.5-hour ride and it was horrible and I was glad I put more than just talky podcasts on my Shuffle before leaving. Really that was the only negative experience.

Now it's not yet 1 and I'm actually a little sleepy. WOW. Off to go try and take advantage of this.

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