Wednesday, December 10, 2008

See, I'm Not Cutting My Fingers At All!

Does anyone else find Lisa Kudrow to be remarkably creepy in this commercial?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Thebes: Real Archaeology Version

Last night at Peter's birthday party, it seems Jan, Yar, Varun and I unintentionally invented an interesting variant of the board game Thebes that we have named Real Archaeology. To play this variant, simply extend the game one year beyond what is intended for the number of people you're playing with. This year is then spent doing the following:

  • Digging in Egypt for 12 weeks and finding nothing but rubble.
  • Digging in Crete for 12 weeks, finding nothing but a single broken plate, and getting unduly excited over it.
  • Going around Europe competing to give talks.
  • Stealing grad students that you don't intend to put to work.
  • Sitting around reading a lot of books for no real reason than because you have nothing better to do with your time.
We think this must be what Real Archaeology is like.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

More Games!

With the highly anticipated Ghost Patrol coming up this weekend, it was quite a pleasant surprise to get an email for a game being planned for Fall 2009. Orange Snood will be running a Muppet Movie game and will be blogging about it. I'm always interested to see how other GCs work and what their philosophies are on various elements of games. Especially after Red's posts on the NMS Forum, I'm very curious to see Orange Snood's approach to games.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Gotta Keep 'em Separated

Mommy fish and 31 of her babies have now been moved to the 20 gallon tank. This process took quite a while, and talking like Sesame Street's The Count only kept it interesting for so long (31! 31 baby fishies. AH! AH! AH!). The remaining 3 or 4 will have to wait until they're a little bigger and can't hide from my net so well.

Turns out we were lucky. According to the internets, had our female black molly been a little older, she could have had as many as 100 baby fish.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Must Be Something in the Water

I'm not sure exactly how it happened, but all of our fish decided to have babies all at once. Linnsey's tank wound up with 2 batches of whitecloud fry, and my black mollies, whom I've only had for 3 weeks, just had 10 babies while I was at work today. I was quite surprised when I came home today and checked in on my plant growth, to see a bunch of small black fishies hiding in the Riccia and Ambulia.

We've already given a few of the whiteclouds away, but if you like fish, lemme know, because I think we'll be looking for homes some of the mollies, too.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Puzzles to the Rescue

Blocks With Letters On. It's probably the only thing that kept me sane in a week of working til midnight every day. I must say, it's a surprisingly clever combination of word puzzles and spatial puzzles, both of which I really enjoy. Too bad there are only 64 levels.

So thanks, Jan, for pointing it out!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Is it wrong...

... to think "wow, Tina Fey is doing an *amazing* impression!" and then realize that you're watching the actual VP debates?

I think 10:28-10:40 of the following video explains what I wish I had been doing for the entire debate. That so many general and nonspecific comments from both sides could be considered a debate is sad. I don't think I learned anything about either ticket, except that I'm not particularly enthused about their VP picks.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

You know it's bad when...

... people sail across the pacific to dump their trash in the Ala Wai.

Raft Made Of Junk Crosses Pacific

A sailing raft made of recycled junk carrying two men on an estimated 2,300-mile trip across the Pacific Ocean has made it to Hawaii's Ala Wai Harbor.

I think we can fill the canal with shit on our own, thankyouverymuch.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Fan Service

Many of you (for some definition or "many", "of", and "you"), my dear loyal readers, have asked me repeatedly just how sharp an X-acto knife is. Since you have all made this blog so enormously popular (for some definition of "so", "enormously" and "popular"), I feel I am forced to do your bidding (for some definition of "do", "your", and "bidding"). It is for this reason that I decided to test (for some definition of "decided", "to", and "test") an X-acto knife upon my thumb. Unfortunately, I mean the common and universally understood definitions of "upon", "my" and "thumb".

On a scale of 1 (does not cut my thumb at all) to 10 (cuts the tip off my thumb), I would rate the X-acto knife's sharpness as 5 (cuts the tip of my thumb half way off). At the given depth, I'd estimate that if the cut had gone twice as far laterally, I'd be posting something philisophical asking whether it can still be called the tip if it's laying on the floor (see Steven Pinker's The Stuff of Thought).

Incidenatlly, when I say that coed astronomy pours it's blood, sweat, and tears into the Iron Puzzler BANG (and all the games we run), I don't mean that metaphorically. If your start clue has red stains on it, you'll know where they're from.

Well, ok, I threw out the piece of card stock I was currently working on, and the rest were protected in envelopes (unlike my carpet), so there was blood, sweat, and tears involved, but it's just the pouring that was metaphorical.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Historical Trivia

A coworker recently wrote an iGoogle gadget that uses News Archive data to display random historical events. Sort of a "This Day in History" thing with much more data and much less editing. So if like me, you happen to be in the intersection of the subset of people who use iGoogle and the subset of people who like random trivia, you might check it out:

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Go to Hell, Cokie Roberts

Apparently, I'm an exotic foreigner. And by that, I don't mean tha I'm seeing Double Vision or that I'm Cold as Ice. I mean this:

"I know Hawai'i is a state, but..."? Seriously? Go to hell, Cokie Roberts.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Ghost Patrol -- We're In!

With 47 applications for 20 slots, I feel quite privileged that coed astronomy made it in. We put a ton of effort into our app, and while I thought it turned out well, it's difficult to really judge one's own work. Our video is funny to us because we know what we were going for, but you never know if it'll fall flat with a real audience.

There's been much discussion on the_game mailing list about how to handle the popularity that games have been facing lately. The two main suggestions--encourage the running of more games by weighing GC work heavily in the app process, and run games over two weekends--really fall flat for me. The first seems somewhat infeasible to me, and the second really cheapens the parts of the game that I like.

BANG died because everyone who wanted to run one did. Despite a tremendous growth in popularity, the number of people who wanted to run BANGs simply did not scale linearly with the number of people interested in playing in them. I fear it is the same or worse with big games. Planning a game usually takes a year or more, and most of the people "hardcore" enough to do that have already been playing in games. Trying to force people to run games will only result in a bunch of crappy games. You have to be really dedicated and interested to stick it out.

Where I think we can pick up new teams who would run games is the fresh-out-of-college/grad student crowd. coed astronomy and XX-Rated both fell into this category when we started. Both teams were willing to run both BANGs and big games, and the likely reason we weren't on this bandwagon a lot earlier was that we were undergraduates/not in the bay area/too busy with school/etc. To give props to a friend, Jesse Young's team CRANEA is one of the teams I'd put into this category. It's unfortunate they didn't make it into Ghost Patrol because I think it just prolongs the time before Jesse inevitably runs some sort of game (be it BANG, a day game, a puzzle hunt, or whatever).

The problem with simply running more games is that every team wants to play in every game. And to do that, you need to accept more teams or run each game twice. Neither is particularly appealing to me. A lot of the charm and the magic of the game for me comes from the clues and clue sites that place the biggest restrictions on the number of people. The entirety of Hogwarts (my favorite game of all time, even though I only playtested it) would never have worked with 30+ teams. And frankly, I don't know many people who have the stamina to run an all-weekend game more than once.

So what do we do about this? I don't really know, and that's why I tried to kick off discussion on the mailing list. The real innovation in the game happens when people run one, however, so I hope to be pleasantly surprised sometime next summer when some team steps up with a game format which attempts to solve these problems. Even in the short few years that coed astronomy has been around, we've seen some pretty big changes in how games are run, so I'm quite hopeful for the future. =)

Friday, July 25, 2008

Ghost Patrol App

Well, coed astronomy has applied to Ghost Patrol. I was going to wait until we knew whether or not we got in to post a link to our app, but everyone's been discussing app videos on the_game mailing list anyway. So here it is:

I'm sure you can guess which segment is mine. Bonus points if you can tell me where each of the sounds comes from.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Narita: 2, Dale: 0

It's been confirmed, Narita airport got me sick both coming and going. Thanks, Japan.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Greetings from Bali

The honeymoon is totally awesome, but cheap interwebs and power adapters are hard to find. I'll post much more once I'm back in the states.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Scuba Certification

Just in time for our honeymoon, Linnsey and I just completed our 4 open water certification dives this past weekend for our scuba certification! It was freezing and there was terrible visibility, but we still had a lot of fun. Knowing that conditions in Bali would be vastly better was a pretty good incentive to get to Monterey by 6:45am each day and into that frigid water.

The highlight of the dives for me was seeing a cormorant skim the bottom at 25 feet in search of fish. Since seeing this in the BBC's Planet Earth documentary, I've thought this was the coolest thing ever (they can fly, and they can swim!), and I've wanted to see it in person. I tried to point it out to Linnsey, but she didn't look in time. Hopefully we'll get to see it again.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

You're so vain...

... you probably think this blog post is about you, don't you?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Doing Thyme

My first impressions of married life are that it involves a lot of sneezing and makes your living room smell like poultry seasoning. Who'd have known the spice rack Linnsey put on the gift registry would come with 15 impossible to open bags of spices that you have to try to pour into the jars?

On the plus side, we've got the airline tickets for our honeymoon in Bali! =)

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Last Weekend

So what'd you do last weekend, Dale?

Oh, I dunno. I went to the beach, hung out with a few friends.

Anything else?

Oh yeah, I got married! It was awesome, and it was so great to have so many friends and family in Hawaii to celebrate with us. I'll post pictures, puzzles, and more when I've had a chance to recuperate.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A Rolling Stone

Linnsey and I watched One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest recently. I'd seen it before, but I'd forgotten the scene where they're trying to determine if Jack Nicholson's character is mentally ill. They ask him to describe in his own words what "a rolling stone gathers no moss" means.

I'd always heard that asking people to describe abstraction and metaphor--and that proverb in particular--is a way to test for schizophrenia. Supposedly, people with schizophrenia have trouble abstracting the metaphorical meaning of a person who is always moving from the literal meaning of a rock rolling. Wikipedia seems to support this information, but maybe someone with an actual degree in the field (hi Dad!) can say whether this is true and actually used nowadays.

Anyway, I got to thinking about what the most literally correct yet useless interpretation of this proverb could be. You know, so if someone is trying to test my mental state, I can whip it out on the spot and add a little levity to the situation. So here's what I think the proverb means:

Mick Jagger does not collect bryophytes.

Monday, February 25, 2008


So for those of you that don't know, Linnsey and I play World of Warcraft a bit. We try not to let it interfere with our normal lives, but I just had to post here... WOOOOOO! We downed Vashj!

For those of you who don't play WoW, Vashj is a difficult boss that requires 25 people cooperating very well to kill. You have to down 5 bosses (3-4 hours of work) just to get to her, and then you have a 15 minute long fight to down her. Our guild has been making attempts on her for a number of weeks now, so it's pretty cool to finally beat her.

For the curious, here's basically what happens in the video (it's at 2x speed):

Phase 1:
The fight starts in this phase, and we basically have a couple of people keeping her attention on them while everyone else hits her until she's down to 70% health. Every now and then she casts a damage spell on one person (you'll see a skull appear over their head), and everyone has to get away from them. This is the easiest phase of the fight.

Phase 2:
You can easily tell when this phase starts because Vashj heads to the middle of her platform and blue beams shoot at her from the 4 torches on the platform. She becomes immune to all attacks. The raid splits up here and we all work on different tasks. A bunch of people head to the outer ring of the circle to kill water elementals. Each of these that get through to Vashj increase her damage by 10%. If 2 get through, we're dead in the water.

Another group of people (including Linnsey) start attacking the giant striders and lure them around in circles while killing them. Anybody who gets within 8 yards of one gets hit with fear and is forced to run away at high speed.

The rest of the people (including me) go to the center at kill the nagas that spawn.

Every minute or so a specific monster appears and whoever sees it has about 15 seconds to kill it. From the body they loot an object which has to be tossed character to character to get it to someone standing next to one of the torches. Using the object on the torch removes the blue beam to Vashj.

Phase 3:
You can tell when this phase starts because the fourth blue beam goes down and the music changes. All of the nagas, striders, and elementals up at this time have to be killed, though no more will spawn. This phase is identical to phase 1, except that bats start flying into the room and dropping green crap all over the floor. 2-3 seconds in the green crap is deadly, so it's pretty much a race to kill Vashj before too many of us perish in the green goo.

So yeah, WOOOO!

All Quiet on the Puzzle Front

It's been quite a while since I last posted here, and I think that's largely due to a lack of puzzle events that I have either been playing in or working on. The lack of BANGs has largely meant there are no puzzle events in the "off season". Fortunately, things have been starting up again with Iron Puzzler a few weeks ago, a Midnight Madness themed game in early April, and a BANG-esque game from coed astronomy coming later that month.

Iron Puzzler

Iron Puzzler was a blast, and despite initial worries about changes to the scoring system, I think it actually improved the quality of the puzzles we saw. Despite having no direct penalty for making a puzzle that was way too hard, the double-counting of fun scores assigned by other teams gave a strong incentive to make puzzles that most teams would solve. 4 teams actually finished all of the puzzles before time was called, despite having 2 more puzzles than last year.

coed astronomy did quite well in the event, and we used our winnings to obtain some quality merchandise from Endgame. But, what made me most happy was that both of our clues did so well in the fun category. "Funness" is always so difficult to measure, but it's something we always strive for in our clues.

I'm always amazed at what my fellow puzzlers can come up with in 24 hours. Since only 7 teams were fortunate enough to play in Iron Puzzler, Greg is thinking about using the puzzles in a future event. Unfortunately, this means I can't talk about them, but there were some real gems in there.

San Francisco Game

coed astronomy will be running a walking game in the city on April 19th. I probably won't be too involved in this one due to wedding planning and whatnot, but it should be fun. More details to come later.

Midnight Madness

Midnight Madness, an *awesome* movie, as well as Michael J. Fox's debut film, is also the catalyst that started the game. Or not, if you believe wikipedia. Anyhow, an anonymous team will be running a Midnight Madness themed game on April 5th, and I know I can't wait to play. More info can be found on Curtis' blog.