February 25, 2005


The theme at TED this year is Inspired by Nature. As a result, they've got a lot of bugs around. Centipedes, ladybugs, moths, crickets, earthworms - all in nice enclosures. Ev and I were standing near the millipede cage - watching the millipedes curl about one another in buggish spirals - when the insect wrangler asked if we'd like to hold one.

It took a long time for me to warm up to the idea, but I'm glad I did. Millipedes are a combination of an eggy hardshell and an underbelly of living velcro. Unlike their centi-cousins, millipedes don't bite. And when you pull them off your hand, you can feel each foot softly let go.

As a result, I had a lot of millipede dreams last night ... most of which were quite pleasant.

February 24, 2005


I'm in Monterey this week with Biz & Case for the TED Conference and it's a total hoot! We're blogging some of the stuff going on over on the TEDBlog.

February 22, 2005


Despite having fallen hard for World of Warcraft this weekend, I can rest easy knowing that I'm doing better than this guy:

I made a deal with my son tonight. I need gold to buy my horse on World of Warcraft and he needs U.S. dollars to buy a video game he has been wanting for some time now. So he is "grinding" for gold for me tonight and I am going to pay for half his video game tomorrow.
Ahh, the joys of fatherhood.

February 21, 2005

Took the Ride

Hunter S. Thompson killed himself yesterday.

He sometimes wrote about obituaries and wrote some great ones as well. This headline from his Nixon piece is a favorite:

Now that it's Hunter's turn, I hope he gets the send-off to which he's entitled.

Unable to sum up my thoughts now that he's dead, I'll instead point to this post I wrote about him a year ago when he was very much alive.

February 10, 2005

The positive power of prayer

Gather 'round and clasp hands. We've got healing to do.

Somewhere out there is a lady - a lady in pain. The Lord tells me she's thrown out her back, brothers and sisters. Thrown out, I say, as were Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. And now she lies in prostrate agony, popping pain pills and slurping cranberry sauce.

Sauce and muscle relaxers ... the only comfort she now knows.

How did such a terrible fate befall her? For what transgression has she been so rebuked? She attempted to walk her cat.

Despite all good reasoning to the contrary, she went out and tried to slap a leash on her feline companion. Trusting her master, the cat made it as far as the front door before realizing that the world was just too big and frightening a place for one so small and furry. Ours is a world full of sin, my brothers, as well as of dogs and scary bicycles.

Confronted with cacophony of man's moral decay, the cat bolted! - leaving our poor sister scrambling after without any heed to the damage she might do to her lumbar reigion. And lo, damage was done.

So fill your hearts with love so that our collective goodwill may heal our fallen sister. You are in our prayers. We would bring you peace and relief from pain as well as offer wisdom. For it is easier to pass a camel through the eye of a needle than to harness a housecat unaccustomed to the ways of man.

February 08, 2005

A tale of two GameBoy Advance cartridges

The latest Zelda game, Minish Cap, is the rightful successor to the SNES game, Link to the Past. In Link to the Past, the level design really stood out as you'd hop back and forth in the Hyrulean timeline: "Wait! I think time has crumbled that roof!"

There's a similar coolness to the exploration in Minish Cap as you shrink down to bug-size with the aid of your non-titular cap (actually a wizard who's been transmogrified into a bonnet) in order to complete your quest and, sometimes, crawl up into enemies to defeat them from the inside!

(Incidentally, did you know that there's porn based on that concept? Well, not so much the bit about the cap. I'm just saying if you happen to stumble upon insertion porn, it's not what you think.)

On the return trip from the Google ski trip, I finished Minish Cap. On the Bay Bridge, to be precise, which gave a certain extra heroicness to my already incredibly heroic deeds. And the game was such a great diversion on the bus ride that I rushed out to get another GBA cartridge to occupy me on my daily commute. To wit, Golden Sun.

Golden Sun is widely regarded as the latter-day perfection of the 2D japanese RPG. And as the quintessence of the genre it would boarder on parody were it not for the fact that it is more japanese than vending machine panties and Japan don't do irony (or at least not in a way recognizable to this roundeye).

So when the youth with special powers needs to leave home with his blue-haired galpal and androgynous boyfriend to seek the 4 mystic whatnots before they're snagged by an evil brother-sister team who's also inexplicably animalistic (and probably doing it) ... that shit's for real, yo.

On the plus side you can summon stuff at higher-levels that will wipe clean the surface of the planet with the force of the Earth elemental ... and do 300+ damage to your opponents.

In addition to rad-looking spells, the magic mechanics are pretty neat. In the course of your journey, you capture djinn (arabic for Pokemon) that can be set to your characters to give them enhanced abilities and spells. There are 28 total djinn of 4 different elemental types - so each character in your 4-party team can have 7 djinn set.

Here's the trouble: do you know how many ways 7 things can be chosen from among 4 types when duplication is allowed and order doesn't matter. One hundred and twenty. For each character.

Now, not each unique combo produces unique results, but I wasn't into figuring out what the right combos were. In fact, I wasn't even into reading the FAQ on that topic which was hyper-intense for a game with Pokemon. (The Pokemon were another problem as, it turns out, I really did wanna catch 'em all.)

So rather than play the game by-the-FAQ, I gave up. Which is a shame 'cause those elemental lighthouses really aren't going to save themselves.

Exercise 1.1: I couldn't find the combinatorics formula for choosing n things from k types where multiples of each type per set is allowed and n > k. I ... sorta ... worked it out by hand. Anyone got some non-brute force action? (Again, not to be confused with porn.)

February 06, 2005

I don't wanna miss a thing

In Kingdom Hearts, you role-play and encounter various folks from the Disney stable of characters. I feel there's a great opportunity to extend this concept to other creative universes. To wit, Heimer Hearts.

In Heimer Hearts, you play Ben Affleck in search of his next big movie. To find the role that will right his career, Affleck must revisit (and conquer) the past films of Jerry Bruckheimer. And he must do it in a Square/Enix style RPG.

You'll shoot down Russian MiGs (turn-based action) while training to become the best fighter pilot in the world - as well as trying to bed your choice of Ice Man or Kelly McGillis. You'll lead a special forces squadron on an assault on Alcatraz with the assistance of an elderly airship pilot called Cid. And you'll return to outer space to save the world from an in-bound asteriod which may or may not be the evil reincarnation of your half-demon father.

I see Axl Foley as a unlockable character late in the game. I see a series of tedious (but optional) fetchquests set on the island world, Pearl Harbor. And I see Affleck riding around on Kanjaroo Jack like some kind of aussie chocobo. Possibly, that's just a minigame.

Regardless, Game of the Year - guaranteed.

February 05, 2005

A Lynchian morning

A bald man in black leather is delivering a vase of flowers to the neighbors next door. He cradles the vase in his elbowpit so as to push the intercom button. When the "Who is it?" crackles out, he uses his free hand to lift a voicebox to his throat and flatly intones: "...flowersz for de-liver-ee..."

Cyborgs delivering tulips - the future of FTD.

Additionally, did you know that both seapuss and sea-poose are synonyms for undertow?

February 01, 2005

What we figured out at work today

Mad is the East Coast hella.