Friday, August 29, 2008

Sarah Palin

In Chess they often add question marks or exclamation marks to denote good or bad moves. For example putting one exclamation mark after a move might denote that it's particularly good, the best move that could have been made give the board position and something that's going to cause the opponent significant difficulty. Two question marks on the other hand would probably be put next to a move that caused the player to lose the game. You can also put an exclamation mark and a question mark, which marks the move as a "speculative attempt to complicate". Something who's consequences are difficult to predict. That's what I think the Palin choice is.

Obviously if having Palin on the ticket can attract even a tiny percentage of the disaffected Clinton supporters then that would be huge. It also seems to (in my cursory examination) to have really energized the conservative base. So thus far it seems to have been a good call, but if having Palin on the ticket defuses attacks on Obama for his inexperience (one of the biggest guns McCain has in this fight) then it could end up being ill-conceived. I'm not sure which way it will go at this point. It's often convenient after listing a bunch of pros and cons to say that something will be a "wash". I don't think so in this case I think it's going to have a significant impact on the race, but whether it will be positive or negative I can't tell at this point, but I'm leaning towards the positive.

It just keeps getting better and better

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Parkinson's Law

Aozora mentioned in a comment a couple of days ago that "There is a theory that if overtime is disallowed and it is insisted that work gets done on regular time only, it can and will in fact get done." Which is kind of a restatement of Parkinson's Law, which is generally stated as: "work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion". I've noticed this a lot, and to combat it I have a little timer at my desk which I periodically set through out the day so that the "time available" for the task I'm working on is never infinite, or "all day".

But just focusing on this small part of Parkinson's genius is to miss one of the greatest business and management books ever written. If you have any desire at all to understand how business really works, or at least the underlying cause of the the really dysfunctional parts of business. I cannot recommend Parkinson's Law too highly. Of course I'm sure any local library will have it, so if you don't want to buy it check it out, it's pretty short and it will change your life.

Opps, gotta go, the timer just went off

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Fall TV schedule

I don't watch that much TV. Of course everyone says that. I guess what I mean when I say it is that I have a hard time following a particular TV show because I generally have a hard time predicting if I'm going to be home on any particular night (other than Wednesday) and I'm too cheap and too much of a neo-luddite to have Tivo. I am however perpetually amazed by the the new TV shows that the networks throw out every fall. I think that the Fall TV schedule is the single greatest proof of drug abuse in hollywood (Cop Rock anyone?). If you think I'm joking let's go through some of the new shows this fall:

90210: Yes you read that correctly. They're "rebooting" the 90210 series. Same basic premise, cameos by the old stars, etc. I'm having a hard time figuring out who this appeals to. The tweener demographic is not going to even remember the original series and are the 30-somethings who do remember it really still interested in that kind of stuff? Speaking of which...

Knight Rider: See what I said above. I don't really have anything against either of those shows per se, but if either or heaven forbid both of them succeed I can only imagine the flood of 80s reboots we'll see next year.

Hole in the Wall: A reality show where people have to form themselves into different shapes in order to avoid being pushed into the water. You think I'm kidding?

I could go on for another page easy, but I'm out of time. I'll let you be surprised when you're flipping through the channels come September and stumble upon the horrors of the Fall TV schedule.

Perhaps I'm a post-neo-luddite

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

School Schedule

So as I mentioned yesterday I'm hopeful that having the kids in school will help me keep a regular schedule. My plan is to wake up every morning at 6:30, eat breakfast, exercise, check my e-mail, etc. and then be in the office by 8:30 (which gives me at least an hour to an hour and a half of uninterrupted work time before anyone else shows up). Work till 12:30, and assuming that nothing pressing has come up (on my Google calender I call this period "Theoretical" Nap), go home and take a nap. Back in the office by 3:00.

On Mondays and Wednesdays I leave at 6:00 so I can be home for dinner, plus family home evening on Mondays and my wife has Bells on Wednesday nights, so I'm home for good. On Tuesday and Thursday nights I'm still experimenting. I'm not sure if it will work best for me to come back to work at 3:00 and then just stay here till say 10:00, or whether it will be better to still go home at 6:00 for dinner, but then head back into the office at say 7:30 and work till say 11:30. I think I'd prefer the former, but I think the latter may be better for my family.

And then it's in bed every night by 12-12:30. We'll see how it goes. The big variable is getting the nap. I think if I can get one 3 out of the 5 weekdays (and then both days on the weekend) I'll be okay. I'm not sure how interesting this is to all of you, but for me the quest to maximize my available time has always been like some sort of holy grail, so I'll keep you updated...

When danger reared its ugly head, he bravely turned his tail and fled.

Monday, August 25, 2008


School started today for all but my youngest. She's actually starting school as well this year, but Kindergarten starts a week later than the rest of the grades. It's going to be weird having all of the kids in school. I'm kind of past the point where my kids school milestones make me feel old (though my oldest starts Junior High next year so check back then) but that doesn't mean it's still not a little bit weird.

I think what's going to be really weird (particularly next year when the youngest will be in school all day) is the difference it makes during the day to not have any kids in the house. My wife and I were married for only 16 months before the birth of our first child (and that was basically in a dinky, little apartment) and then we went nearly 12 years with kids in the house 24/7. Not having kids around is going to take some adjustment, but I think it's going to be pretty cool (don't tell them).

The other adjustment is waking up early. I had let myself get pretty sloppy with sleeping in, particularly since getting back from GenCon, but I think it will be nice to have some discipline back in the schedule. Also my old reliable CRT died this morning, so I finally broke down and got an LCD. Mostly I've avoided getting an LCD because they never have the resolution I'd like, plus even though my 21" CRT weighed about 23,000 lbs it still worked, so I was loath to get rid of something that was still working fine. Anyway it had served me long and faithfully so except for the fact that I'm poor, and that it screwed up my morning, and messed up my evening, I have no regrets.

I'm looking forward to not doing anything, just sitting and not moving

Thursday, August 21, 2008

This is going to be interesting

On the No-Tossup map at RealClearPolitics:

McCain 274 - Obama 264

(Electoral Votes of Course)

Election Night up there with Christmas for me

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Brief GenCon Recap

Well I'm back. I actually got back late Monday afternoon, but this is the first spare moment I've had to blog. As usual I had a pile of work waiting for me. I slept for 10 hours Monday night and by my calculations that brought my average for the preceding 7 days up to just about 5 hrs/night. Last night I got around eight, and I've had a devilish time keeping my eyes open all day. Obviously getting two extra hours of sleep on one day is not going to be sufficient to catch me up on sleep.

I played a lot of different game systems while I was there. I ran a 4E conversion of G3, I played a 1E game of "Lost Caverns of Tjoscanth". I went 3-1 in a Dreamblade tournament (only one person went 4-0 and that was a friend of mine). I played a bunch of different board games. I played a very fun session of "Call of Cthulhu". I did two sessions of "Tower of Gygax" a 1E Tomb of Horror style setup that was running 24 hours a day. One of the sessions was the 2 am to 4 am slot... Most of the fun, though, came from seeing friends that I only get to see at GenCon, which is probably the biggest reason why I can't imagine missing it.

Aozora mentioned in the comments that there's been quite the uproar in the gamer community over this comment by a McCain spokesman:

It may be typical of the pro-Obama Dungeons & Dragons crowd to disparage a fellow countryman's memory of war from the comfort of mom's basement, but most Americans have the humility and gratitude to respect and learn from the memories of men who suffered on behalf of others.

It's was kind of a dumb thing to say, but I think people maybe making too big of a deal about it. Or to put it another way I don't want to find myself as part of a minority that takes offense to the smallest slight. I think it's more interesting that, at least in the minds of this particular staffer all D&D players are mother's-basement-dwelling Obama supporters, which seems like a weird, and very specific demographic...

Supposedly this staffer issued an apology (though I can't find an official source):

This campaign is committed to increasing the strength, constitution, dexterity, intelligence, wisdom, and charisma scores of every American.

All of which is not to dispute the point that McCain could be a lot more tech-savvy

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

GenCon Ho!

It's amazing how much prep goes into attending GenCon even when I'm not exhibiting... (One of these days I'm going to have to find a less labor intensive hobby.) So not much time to post today. And though I always imagine that I'm going to be able to blog from the convention that never happens either (and it's especially unlikely this time since I no longer have a laptop). So I guess I'll see everyone on Monday or Tuesday.

Like a Jew returning to the Holy Land

Monday, August 11, 2008


Every four years (two if you count the winter) when the Olympics rolls around I always start out pretty blase. Even when the Olympics were in my home town, in fact I may have even been more blase about them then. But then inevitably I happen to tune in just to see what they look like and suddenly I'm hooked. It's amazing how nationalistic I can get with just the slightest provocation. Last night the French who were favored to win the men's 4x100 freestyle relay told the media that they were going to "smash" the US. And down to like the last ten meter it looked like that's exactly what was going to happen (rather they were going to win, smash implies something more dramatic), but then in that last few meters the American anchor pulled back nearly a full body length, which is the kind of thing you don't even think is possible while swimming. And right at the end managed to slap the wall 8/100ths of a second before the French anchor and won gold. That was pretty cool.

But it's not just watching the US beat France that's exciting. This morning I was watching the gold medal game for the Men's Team Archery competition between South Korea and Italy. SK got out to an early lead, but then Italy managed to fight back and tie it up going into the final round. But then in the final round one of the Italian archers ended up getting a 7 (Bullseye is 10) and Korea won by 2 points. And you would think how exciting can Archery be? But it was really exciting. Of course now that I'm getting into the Olympics I'm heading to GenCon where I won't be watching any TV, but I guess that's the way it goes.

It's all the Chinese's fault for being so superstitious

Friday, August 08, 2008

30 Rock

Back in 2006 at the start of the fall television season I (and many others I'm sure) became aware that NBC was launching two shows that were all based on the premise of being a behind the scenes look at an Saturday Night Live style sketch comedy show. One was "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" it was an hour long. It was created by Aaron Sorkin of "West Wing" fame. It starred Bradley Whitford and Matthew Perry and all the critics were effusive with their early praise and expectations were very high.

The other show was "30 Rock" it had Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin. It was a half hour and as far as I could tell it wasn't getting much in the way of buzz or early enthusiasm. Of course the weird thing was that NBC would be launching what appeared to be two very similar shows in the same season. I'm remember a lot of tv critics remarking on the fact, and the sub-text seemed to be that only one of them could survive. I'm not sure that's entirely true. It's possible I suppose that both could have survived, but given the failure rate of new shows, the chances of both surviving wasn't even that good, and when they had a similar premise? The conventional wisdom was that if either show was going to survive it was going to be Studio 60. Well...

As it turns out after watching the two shows, they weren't that much alike. To be frank "30 Rock" was funny and "Studio 60" was not. Which is not to say that "Studio 60" was not well written, and that it didn't have some good drama, but Sorkin was trying to have it be as dramatic as the West Wing while making it as funny as SNL. It turns out that that's pretty difficult, since even SNL has had difficulty doing that, and they could care less about behind the scenes drama. So "30 Rock" is still going strong, and "Studio 60" is barely remembered.

I really enjoy "30 Rock". And while it does have some of the unnecessary crassness that dominates prime time these days, IMHO most of the humor comes from off-beat weird humor. Here's a great clip from an episode I was watching last night on (all of season 2 is available for free):

The Collection

Also another great clip with a D&D reference

Everytime I meet a new person I figure out how I'm going to fight them

Thursday, August 07, 2008


Well it's been long enough after the tour that any positives should have hit the news, so hopefully we've heard it all. Of course the Olympic Road Race is on Saturday, so we could get a whole new round of positives, though I certainly hope not (though that's where Tyler Hamilton's troubles started). Highlighting once again, the difficulty of all this testing I just read an article on VeloNews about a new article in the journal Nature which calls into question the statistical validity of the doping tests.

He offers no opinion on the guilt or innocence of Floyd Landis, but does mention the tests he failed as examples of tests that are flawed. I've always felt that something didn't smell quite right about Landis' positive. I'm not saying I'm convinced of his innocence I'm saying I'd be more comfortable with how things went down if I was a lot more convinced of his guilt. As I've said before, how about just testing the B sample at a different lab than where you test the A sample? Is that really too much to ask? Plus I've never heard a credible explanation for how testosterone taken the day of his miraculous breakaway would have helped him. And of course I'd like one of the greatest attacks in the history of the Tour to not be completely overshadowed by drugs.


Wednesday, August 06, 2008


It's been pretty hot for the last few weeks, but it looks like some relief is finally in sight. It's supposed to be overcast and a little rainy for the next few days. That will be nice. I'm hoping it means that the worst of summer is over and that things are going to start cooling off. Though perhaps I'm being premature. It's still early August. Anytime I'm inclined to feel too bad about the heat I just check out Baghdad. I can't even imagine what it would be like to be out during the day in a full army kit.

Support our Troops

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

7/7 Conspiracy Theories

Occasionally I've written about the 9/11 truth movement. The group of people who think that the US Government or Israel or the Neo-Cons were complicate in or had foreknowledge of the World Trade Center attacks. The most ridiculous of the claims is the so called "Controlled Demolition" theory. That towers 1 and 2 only fell because they had been pre-wired with explosives. Well one would think that the British would be a little more sensible. Or rather one might think that the 9/11 Truthers were primarily motivated by their bottomless loathing of Bush, but it turns out that there are also conspiracy theories about the 7/7 subway bombings in Britain.

I discovered this when I was listening to last Saturday's episode of "This American Life". They had a little segment about a lady who had survived one of the bombs and ended up because of her prolific blogging of being a spokeswomen for the survivors groups. Well she discovered that some of the conspiracy theorists were using quotes from her blog in support of their theories, and she felt that it made it look like she supported the theories, which, of course, she did not. So she decided to engage them, and start posting on their site. Well you can imagine where it goes from there...

Anyway, it reminds me of an episode of Star Trek Voyager I guess it's called "The Voyager Conspiracy" (I had to look it up, I should have just asked my wife, she would have know.) In it Seven of Nine upgrades some processor and she starts seeing conspiracies everywhere. I can't help but think that there's something of a similar processor malfunction going on in the minds of the people who buy into these theories. But perhaps I'm being too harsh... But then again maybe I'm being too easy on them...

The new Star Trek Movie looks good

Monday, August 04, 2008


I've been so busy that I haven't had much time to anticipate GenCon this year. And in fact things were in so much doubt that for quite a while my attendance was in doubt. But I'm definitely and it's definitely next week... Holy crap! Fortunately while I do plan on doing quite a bit of business while I'm there I don't have any big presentation to prep. I am running a D&D Session while I'm there. I'm converting G3: Hall of the Fire Giant King to Fourth edition. We'll have to see how that goes. I'm actually thinking it will be pretty straight forward, but we'll have to see.

This is the first year since it started that I haven't done True Dungeon. It's always been a lot of fun, but the stress of trying to get a slot and the expense, has just made it too annoying. Perhaps I'll try again next year. What I'd really like to see happen is for my business to start doing well enough that money isn't a huge worry and then for them to double the price of the tickets, or at least set a ticket price where the primary qualifier for a ticket is devoting a whole day to clicking on links trying to find a session with some openings.

In any case, as always, I expect to have a huge amount of fun, it will be a nice vacation and I'm really grateful to all the people in my life who are making it possible. In particular my wife who could very reasonably have said that it was too much. Although at least this year it's not happening on our wedding anniversary (I fly back on our anniversary... so I'll be able to take her out for dinner that evening.)

Let's roll some dice!

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Fathers and Sons Post Mortem

The Fathers and Sons camping trip went pretty well. I actually got some time to read in the shade while my two sons wandered around. I later, upon reading the rules sheet, discovered that kids under 12 were supposed to be under adult supervision at all times. I'm guessing that that's a rule of somewhat recent origin. I can certainly remember lots of times before I was 12 when I was allowed to roam free while camping. But perhaps the rule has always been on the books and we just never followed it. My family has a history of being scofflaws.

The turn-out from our ward was so pathetic as to be embarrassing, and certainly much different than last year. Last year the site designated for our ward filled up to the point that one of the families ended up staying in their van even though they had a tent. So this year I made a special point of showing up early to make sure I got a good spot. As it turns out I needn't have bothered. It was me and my two boys, another guy about my age with is one son, and an older guy with his two sons and three grandsons (plus one hanger on). So three families total. Last year there were at least 10 and probably closer to a dozen.

I felt particularly bad for the older guy who had been tasked with making breakfast. He was told to plan on 24 people, if you do the math you can see he ended up with half that. Needless to say I ate a lot this morning.

Sleeping-wise we had one giant air mattress. I put my youngest son in the middle, which may have been a mistake. He's all sharp points and he seems to have the uncanny ability of sleeping in such a way that they're all jabbing the most sensitive parts of the person sleeping next to him. Of course I slept with my back to him, but that just meant that I had a knee in my back all night. I thought I slept okay, but the sleepiness I feel today belies that, perhaps there's still a little of the muscle relaxant lingering in my bloodstream...

Pretty fly for a white guy

Friday, August 01, 2008

Father's and Sons

Tonight is the Father's and Sons outing. It should be pretty fun, my boys are pretty excited about it. Though their idea of fun in the wilderness is quite a bit different than mine. I mostly just want to sit in the shade and read a book while enjoying the beauty and serenity of nature. They, on the other hand, want to be entertained, and while they like camping I don't think they've quite mastered the art of being entertained by it. It's probably my own fault for letting them play video games. So as a result I have to constantly offer them suggestions for what to do. Which is fine it give me a chance to hang out with them, it's just coming up with a new idea every 15 minutes that's taxing.

I'm planning on bringing my laser so that should provide plenty of entertainment for them once it gets dark, I'll just have to stall until then.

Lasers, is there anything they can't do?