Thursday, December 28, 2006

Blizzard Adventure!

Well, today was an interesting day. It started out about normal, Steve went to work, and I did some work here. Then, along about 13:30 we headed out to the bank and then to Dave & Buster's to spend some time with Steve's dad and sister, Michelle. We left from there for the airport about 17:00, to pick up Matt and his friend Truong. The roads weren't horrible, but they weren't great, either.

We started back from the airport about 19:00, and then the blizzard was really starting to pick up. Things were pretty good until we got into Wheat Ridge. By then the snow was already 4-5" high, there were few plows out, and conditions worsened on highway 58 into Golden. We almost got stuck at the top of a hill because someone else had either stopped or got stuck up there, and getting moving again in this snow when you're stopped is nearly impossible.

We made it to Golden, and stopped at the gas station so Matt could get some milk and other provisions, then we took him home and began the long trek up 93 to Boulder. The roads themselves weren't too bad, but the near-whiteout conditions made it a dangerous drive. I had to pass several people because they just weren't going fast enough. The Golf performed admirably. I never lost control and never got stuck, at least on 93.

We stopped and got a bunch of provisions at the grocery before heading home. Everything was going well, until I came to the corner right by our apartment building, when we got stuck in the middle of a turn! We called Brendan, and some other folks stopped to help as well, but it was to no avail; although we got it out of the middle of the street, it's definitely stuck where it is for a few days. Sigh... we almost made it!

Anyway, then we got the groceries in and I went out to take a couple pictures. While I was doing that, I came across someone else whose car was stuck, and so I (and another guy, who coincidently works at Silvermine [Brendan is apparently working there now]) helped push him into a parking lot.

Now, I'm just glad to be home, and planning to not leave for several days. It's a good thing I can work from home!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Twelve things you notice when you have Pentapedes

The pentapede is a semi-intelligent, tarantula-sized, five-legged hemovore (blood-eater... I can't find any real references online for this word, so...) with a spider-like carapace. They also like to dance. And bite.

Mostly they bite.

Steve and I have come up with a holiday song comemerating the pentapede, entitled, "Twelve Things You Notice when You Have Pentapedes," sung to the tune of "The Twelve Days of Christmas."

The verse goes:

The first thing you notice, when you have pentapedes,
is the body on top of their legs.

And the things you notice are:
  • Twelve puncture wounds

  • Eleven beady eyes

  • Ten legs... wait a minute...

  • Nine hours recovery

  • Eight-minute poison

  • Seven foot-high jumping

  • Six daily feedings

  • Five Hairy Legs!

  • Four crying kids

  • Three dead pets

  • Two slavering fangs

  • And a body on top of the legs!

Merry Pentamas!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A pinch of foolishness

I've been reading over my old blog posts, and I decided that I need to write more bad poetry here. I know, I know, if you wanted something that wasn't funny, you could read R'thoria, but I'm doing it anyway. Enjoy!

The snow falls in the quiet eve
For some time yet, I shall not leave
'Til the ice is gone and clouds are spent
I daren't drive with the roads this bad

The night has come again
The howling can't begin
The wolves and coyotes buried deep
The snow makes them want to sleep

Green snake, sugar cane,
Rapping on my window pane
'Kay, this poem's awfully lame
I think that I'm done with this game.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Go Free Software Foundation!

Wow, those guys over at the Free Software Foundation ( are real firebrands! They announced yesterday the opening of their newest project, BadVista, "a campaign with a twofold mission of exposing the harms inflicted on computer users by the new Microsoft Windows Vista and promoting free software alternatives that respect users' security and privacy rights." And, on the 13th, they announced a donation of $60,000 (!!!) to the Free Ryzom campaign, a campaign to buy the MMORPG Ryzom from its bankrupt parent company and release it under the GPL.


Quotes from last night's viewing of Eragon

"I wish my sorcerer were emo, so he would cut himself!"

"Oh, look, a whole theater full of people that will be disappointed."

"And here, behind this tapestry, is where I keep my DRAGON!"

"BTW, George Lucas called. He wants his PLOT back."

"And so did Peter Jackson. He wants his SET back."

R'thoria's Used Plot Elements, Vol. 2, Ep. 001

Welcome back, everyone! I know that you all missed me terribly, but I assure you that that court-ordered sabbatical to the mental hospital has done wonders for my skin, and I'm ready to bring you some new and wonderful Used Plot Elements!

In the time that I've been gone, we've seen quite a few new plots come and go in the mainstream, and we here at RUPE have got some amazing deals for you!

But first off, an oldie but goodie, it's the "boy abandoned by his mother lives with his uncle until the evil Authority (be it empire, marauding invaders or otherwise) kills his uncle and so he must go off adventuring to defeat the evil Authority using strange powers he never knew he had before" plot. Made most famous in modern times by George Lucas' Star Wars Trilogy (ep. 4-6), this classic has been around for as long as there have been Authorities, evil, and uncles (since 1284)! With just one copy left in stock, I'm sure that the low low price of 65536 nuyen will ensure that this one goes to a worthy customer.

Next up on the block, we have something unusual for us here. Normally, we don't carry very many tangible goods—apart from our line of Wookiee products. Don't forget to get our new "Wookiee See Wookiee Doo" card game!—but in a recent shipment, nestled between the classic "Uncle Stilt's Pin" and "The Ever-So-Effeminate-but-Certainly-Not-Gay-(Unless-You're-Cute) Hairstylist of Seville" plots, was the complete set for Helm's Deep, from the epic movie trilogy, The Lord of the Rings! Normally we would, of course, return it immediately to the producers, but, well, we didn't want to pay the shipping.

So! For a mere 394.26 nuyen (plus tax) this incredible set can be yours! We will also giftwrap your purchase for free!

Finally today, we decided to throw a copy of Dragonheart into the blender with McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern, hoping for a fiber-intense smoothie, but instead we got a new plot! I call it the, "Dragons are cool, let's tell a story about them, oh but we need people too so that the audience can relate", sifted through some cheesecloth to get rid of any semblance of dialog, plot, or politics, maybe a fifteen-year-old wrote it plot. We're letting this one go cheap, folks! All I'm asking is a strawberry smoothie, or maybe a banana daiquiri.

Why, hello, Mr. Fangmeier! Yes, sir, I'll wrap these up for you immediately! I hope everything goes well with you for that Eragon movie you're making... You're sure it's not a misspelling for 'dragon'? Okay, then! See you again soon!

Well, folks, just remember, at RUPE, we're proud to be the primary supplier for Hollywood, so, whether you want ACTION, ADVENTURE, or simply the best selection of subatomic particles around, come on down and let our professional harass your cares away!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

His name is Linus. He fights for the Users.

Ok, so, admittedly, I don't normally agree with Linus Torvalds. But, this time, he's got it right.

In brief: the issue at hand is whether to disallow non-GPL'd modules to be loaded into the Linux kernel. Apparently, a majority of the kernel developers said that that should be the case (it isn't now), and that it would start Jan 1, 2008. I think that this is a bad idea, because it restricts users' freedom, most specifically the freedom to modify their software to do what they want it to.

Now, don't get me wrong, these guys are also working for users' freedom. Specifically, they want to ensure the freedom of the users to modify modules that are used on their systems. But the method they've chosen is a step in the wrong direction. They are choosing to restrict the freedoms of their own software in order to pressure others to open the freedoms of the others' software (something that the FSF is often accused of doing, and berated for it, even if they don't actually do that). One of the quotes I saw was to the effect of, "in order to protect your freedoms, we have to make some restrictions on them...", which is wrong! This way leads to ever further restrictions. Think "Those who would give up their liberty to protect their liberty, um, will lose it, duh!" (This is why Nozick always slips into the State...)

Anyway, Linus has refused to add the patch to his source tree without broad consensus from major Linux distributions (which will never happen).

Again, I'm all in favor of a completely GPL'd kernel, with all modules that are needed (for anyone!) GPL'd, too. But not when it's forced on me.

Five-suited Bridge

I (finally!) found some rules for bridge with five suits! The rules are summarized in the TIME magazine article Super-Bridge, which appeared on March 7, 1938!

In brief:

Super-Bridge (Five-suited Bridge)

By: Walther Marseille

Players: 4

Deal: 16 cards to each player. One card is left over, and may be swapped with another card by the declarer if desired, but only before play begins.

Bidding: Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts, Spades, Stars (or whatever), No Trump

Play: As normal, but with 16 tricks.

Book: 8 tricks

Points for tricks over book: Clubs & Diamonds, 20; Hearts & Spades, 25; Stars, 30; No Trump, 40.

Game points: 120

Possible Slams: Little slam (14 tricks), Grand Slam (15 tricks), Super-Slam (16 tricks)

I don't know how well the game plays (having not yet played it), but I'm somewhat wary of the point values. It might be better to combine Stars & No Trump. Also, leaving the game points at 100 would, at least, make for a faster game, though whether or not this is desirable is questionable.

The article mentions that this variant eliminates the possibility of a single-suit hand (since there are 16 cards in each hand and only 13 cards in a suit), which could be desirable, although such occurances are rare anyway.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Scott's Googl-oscity (and my reactions thereto)

So, Google has apparently decided to hire Scott, which is, of course, amazing but not all that much of a surprise when you think about it... Scott's exactly the kind of person they want there: creative, intelligent, hard-working, social, unconventional, not to mention his mighty programming skillz. It's an excellent opportunity for him, and I am sure he'll do phenominally there.

Meanwhile (talking about me because it's my blog, darnit!), I am stuck contemplating my life and what I'm going to do with it. I'm sad (as well as excited) that Scott's going away in January. He's been my friend the second longest at CU, but he's certainly my closest (non romantic-type) friend right now, and although we'll still be in touch and working together, I'm going to miss him terribly, which is kinda sad since we often don't even spend much time together.

But that's not all that's going on in my head right now. Scott's going to work for Google, undoubtedly the best job in the industry, and meanwhile I'm here, doing irregular contract work for Not-Quite-Enough per hour (I'm not complaining too loudly about the money, though; it's good, but not what I'd like). I have the potential to follow him to Google -- I need some more experience first, but the potential is there -- but is that something I want to do?

He once said to me that he was sure I could work for Google, even if it was only in the IT dept (don't screw up there!), and, even though I'm sure he meant it as encouragement, it felt like a consolation prize. And I'm sitting here asking myself, not only "What do I want to do?" but, "Where is my potential for Greatness to be realized?" I sometimes wonder if I haven't made poor choices in remaining in the shadow of Scott and others. Yes, it's true, I didn't want the commitment and time that it would take to do some of those things, but maybe I should've taken them on anyway. I couldn't have beaten Scott for President of the chapter, after all (not only is he far more popular than I ever would be, he was the best person for the job. I truly believe that he is the best president the chapter has seen), but I have shirked away from leadership when opportunity has come my way.

And so we come to Scott leaving for Google. I'm confident, given another year or two (including waiting until Steve graduates) that I could get into Google, even if only as IT support staff. But is that something I want to do? If I go there, will I be following Scott, standing in his shadow and basking in his glow (to mix metaphors a bit)?

Ah, well, enough of the whining and complaining. I've got too many errands to run today (our pledges become Brothers tomorrow, yay!) and I need a shower. I shall contemplate.

The City Born Great - How Long 'Til Black Future Month?

The second story in N. K. Jemisin's anthology How Long 'Til Black Future Month? , "The City Born Great," is an exciting ta...