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May 24th, 2012

Memorial Day

I want a commemoration that lets me honor and mourn the dead and doesn't carry overtones of, "Wars ROCK!  We should have a bunch more!  Lockheed Martin IS patriotism!"

Maybe it's time to visit our local Quaker or Brethern congregation.

May 23rd, 2012

Happy World Turtle Day!

Five minutes ago I didn't even know it existed, and now it's my favorite day of the year.


May 22nd, 2012

Origins Game Fair

I'm going!  I've never been to any RPG con before, and now I'm going to one of the biggies!

I'm actually a little scared about what all is involved.  I'm trying to look up advice online, and I feel I need to explain something to the Internet. 

Dear Internet,

When I say "roleplaying game", I expect to see the following things: dice; pencils; paper; other players at my elbow; and a gamemaster across the table, whom I can look straight in the eye as I put on my most earnest face and say, "Actually, though I would very much like to oblige you, all the leading sages agree that gnomish flesh is quite toxic to dragons."

If there are computers present, it is not roleplaying.  No software can catch that little tremble of sincerity in your voice and give you a +2 on the Con roll.

March 15th, 2012

design notes

Big jam jars should be broad and squat.  Jam jars should never be taller than the blade of a butter knife.

Why can't the world figure these things out for itself?  Why do I have to tell it everything?

February 27th, 2012

yay snopes

Now and then, I respond to an acquaintance's forwarded e-mail rumor with a link to the appropriate snopes page.  I don't think I've made many converts to the cause of truth, though.

It is so easy to fact-check a rumor these days.  Why in the world doesn't that seem to matter?

Actually, there is frankly no need to bother with snopes.  If it uses ALL CAPS in the subject line and urges you to forward it to everyone you know, I promise that it is false.

February 14th, 2012

robotic cars

Wired's article about self-driving cars has me completely psyched.  I want one! 

Actually, I want one for everybody!  They go into the improved safety, but don't mention one thing I think could be a big benefit: the roads could become public again.  Right now, bicyclists, walkers, runners, horseback riders, scooter riders, and so forth generally avoid roads out of the well-founded fear of being killed by a car.  In effect, car drivers have taken the roads away from everyone else by making and carrying out death threats.  But that danger will diminish once enough cars are robotic.

Maybe even more important: fear of traffic is one of the prime reasons parents rein in their kids from ranging free.

So come, robotic overlords!  Come, so we can play outside again!

February 7th, 2012

buy local

The Valkyrie just ordered a shipment of carbon fiber to do some electronics fabrication research with.  Only after the package was underway by FedEx did she notice that the supplier is here in semirural Ohio... in our zip code.  Walking distance from our house, actually.

It's a close runner-up for the most bizzare coincidence of our life.

(Of course, FedEx has taken the package to their distribution center, about 25 miles away.)

August 14th, 2011

Nice shoes

For my fortieth birthday, I went to Macy's.  I found a beautiful pair of pumps there.  They were $299.

So I circled the globe, gathering funds and distributing supplies.  I stared down hard-eyed guerrillas to shepherd aid convoys to their destinations.  I invented brilliant appropriate-technology solutions and helped local cooperatives manufacture them.  I microfinanced.  I tapped native horticultural knowledge to test and spread pest-resistant crop varieties.  I inoculated and I educated.  I drilled wells and passed out mosquito nets.  I reforested and reclaimed.  I was tireless; I was a machine.  At last, world hunger and extreme poverty were eliminated.

Finally, it was a world where I could pay that much for shoes.  I made it back to Macy's just before closing.

"Oh, I'm sorry", said the saleslady.  "We don't carry wide sizes."

August 10th, 2011

I <3 robots

The Opportunity rover ( opportunitygrrl ), designed for a 90-day mission, is still on the job after seven years. Without an oil change or a tire rotation.

To my mind, the best justification for a manned Mars mission is to go service spiritrover and get her running again.  We can't just abandon her there!  After all she's done!

Go ahead, say that I anthropomorphize robots too much.  I blame R2D2 coming along during my formative years.

February 11th, 2011

Writing and rejection

The Valkyrie is (among her many talents) an aspiring writer.

Being an aspiring writer is like being a mother to many children. Every one of whom gets splattered by a truck the first time they leave the house for the first day of school.

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