27 December 2012

Bang

My roommate in grad school couldn't have been more different from me. He's super outgoing and boisterous: a veritable force at parties who always managed to be the center of attention. He's strong, big, and fearless to the point of inviting risk and danger. But we got along absolutely great. There was a lot of horseplay that, without exception, turned out worse for me than him.

One time, rather than just go all Krav Maga on my sorry weak self, there was a twist.

My roommate was in the police academy at the time, so he had this realistically weighted fake gun. In this scenario I had the gun. To shoot him, all I had to do was say "Bang!" and I'd deliver an incapacitating shot. Meanwhile, from a fairly short distance away, he'd run at me.

First time we did this, he ran at me and I immediately hit the deck. I was shocked that I couldn't get over the defensive instincts that I had. We did it again. This time, I didn't end up on the floor, but sort of curled myself up to protect my head and stomach, completely forgetting that I could dispatch that motherfucker with the word "Bang!".

It was really weird. It makes me wonder if I had a real gun and was in a situation where I was legitimately being attacked would I even have the presence of mind in that moment to use it? Would you?

Puppies are Like That

I have specific memories of two books from my very early childhood. These were the pre-any-semblance-of-literacy days wherein my mom would read books to me. One was called Puppies are Like That and it was about all the inadvertent transgressions of proper conduct that puppies could unknowingly engage in. The other was about an unaccompanied minor taking a plane trip to visit extended family.

This doesn't make sense.

I feel like young children's books typically have some instructive purpose. But it's not instructive in the the sense of teaching how to do something, but what's a normal life situation and how to apprehend and accept the world around us. Like if your puppy decides he's going chew up your toys it's not ideal behavior and measures should be taken to prevent it, but it's not out of malice, it's because puppies are like that. They foster the acceptance of change and new situations because as a young kid, everything is new.

As someone who did not have a dog until high school (and not even a puppy!), never flew alone until grad school, and had all my immediate extended family clustered within diving distance, I find the selection and memory of these books to be awfully odd in retrospect. Where did they come from? Were they any more than a hedge against a abrupt and unpredictable life changes?

Buy the Mysteries of Matt Laquidara's Childhood!
Puppies are Like That (caution: cover art is really cute)

06 December 2012

Punctuated Equilibrium

When I first moved to Seattle, one of the most important things in my mind was finding a good dive bar. My roommate hadn't moved in yet. There was one person in the city who I had met before and I had met some of his friends, but things had not progressed to the level where I'd be calling around to round up a posse for Friday drinking. None of my new coworkers seemed like dive bar people. So I set out to do things on my own.

In a lot of ways this was liberating. I was inspired by a friend of mine who had recently moved to Boston and already seemed to already seemed to have a bar for every occasion, all from just visiting these bars by himself. By going to these bars alone I was agile: I could go wherever I wanted and stay however long I wanted. Furthermore I wouldn't be part of this island of people who just talked among themselves. Setting out my own, I could interact with totally new people in this new place.

This was tempered by the great fear that I'd just go to a bar, talk to no one, and feel totally isolated and miserable. I don't consider myself a bad conversationalist, but I'm not really any good at starting conversations

But it was a Friday afternoon and I was reading a page on the internal wiki at work about happy hours. I found a note about Laadla, the Indian restaurant spitting distance from work. Apparently there was a kinda sketchy bar in the back with cheap beer, cheap Indian food type snacks, and a happy hour that stretched from five to close. I was sold.

So I went to Laadla one Friday afternoon. Unsurprising to anyone who's gone there, the place was empty I took a seat at the bar. I got myself some food and beer, got a copy of The Stranger--a local alternative newspaper--and read it, and had some intermittent conversation with the bartender: a man who played excellent records.

Eventually a crowd of people came in. From my eavesdropping I found that some of them knew the bartender's brother, or someone's brother knew the bartender, but in any case everyone mildly knew of each other. Well this seemed to validate my worries of just being the isolated and miserable guy in the bar.

But after some beers, they were on their way out and something really unexpected happened. One of them gave me this real stabbing poke in the back and asked me I wanted to play frisbee with them in a nearby park. I said I'd finish my beer and be right over. When I joined them, $26 poorer and full of Indian food and beer, they invited me to drink directly from a bottle of liquor. After that I was, in my mind at least, diving all over the place for the frisbee. This is a pretty distinct stage of intoxication for me because try as I may, I cannot dive for a baseball or frisbee in my normal sober attempts at the sport. Granted, I'm probably just doing these amazing dives in my mind, and actually just falling over, but I was having the time of my life. It came up one of them was off to Boston for grad school the next day and I thought it was so cool because it was like we were trading places and shit.

After the frisbeeing happened they were going to some party. I want to think I was explicitly invited to come along--I have this strange creeping fear that I just sort of inferred I could come along and got in someone's car--but in any case I went there. It wasn't that much a party as a much as a fairly low key social gathering at the ubiquitous bungalow style house in one of Seattle's more unspoiled residential neighborhoods. The guests were almost exclusively dudes, which I remember finding a little odd at the time. People got majorly excited when some guy named Arthur showed up, enthusiasm that was only topped by the arrival of a Rory. Myself, I was more enthused by a surreally calm golden retriever named Red.

At some point, the crew I was with went upstairs because I think someone was going to play keyboards or something. After sitting around talking to some people for a while point I think, for some reason that could have made sense at the time, I jokingly challenged someone to fight, which I believe was taken jokingly. Another one of those strange creeping fears comes into play here as well because not soon after that everyone started leaving. As I left, I asked if anyone was heading towards my place in Eastlake. No one was, so feeling slightly abandoned I started walking home.

In retrospect this was a pretty monster walk. My best estimate, looking back at it, was that I was around 80th and Fremont Ave. This is nearly a 5 mile walk if done efficiently, and I have my doubts my efficiency was that good. I had been driving around the city a lot, collecting furniture and the like from various people on Craigslist, so I had a rough idea of how to get home. Plus Seattle is a grid and thus laughably easy to get around, modulo there being a big fucking lake blocking my most direct route. It was a beautiful summer night and the walking back thing just seemed the final step on a weird adventure.

My biggest problem was that I had to pee something fierce. I was saved by a 7-11, where I made a beeline to the bathroom, on the way making a hasty promise to an apathetic cashier that I would buy something. To celebrate this great relief, I bought some 7-11 brand hot dog flavored chips.

They were absolutely disgusting, but they were gone long before I got home.

I really don't remember much about the rest of the walk home. I don't remember crossing a bridge that I know I needed to cross to get home. But I do remember getting into bed with this strange knowing feeling that the next morning I'd ask myself what the hell happened.

What the hell did happen?

23 November 2012

Giving video games another try: Pokemon? On the internet?

I have cheated on the only thing I have ever loved.

As you might know--as I bring it up all the time with this horrifically false shame, both in the blog and real life--I programmed a real life, honest to god, classic Pokemon battle simulator. In its heyday it boasted single digits of active users with an whopping two battles occurring at once. It was the best Pokemon simulator no one ever used. As of now, however, it's dead.

But it was a Friday night, I was worn out, bored at home, and feeling the urge. So I installed a little program called Pokemon Online and started some real live classic Pokemon battles on the internet!

Upon opening the program feelings of confusion and perplexity washed over me. There were menus and buttons and all manner of things! I recalled the frustrating confusion of people who tried using openpkmn (IT EVEN SAYS TO CONTROL-CLICK TO SELECT MULTIPLE MOVES JESUS H CHRIST) and tried to put my best foot forward. After looking through the menus for fun, I clicked on the "Teambuilder" button.

This was where I was to set my name! Not intuitive! Also I was to click on squares that signify my Pokemon in order to make them. This involved more clicking on all manner of things, including going into a menu to change the generation to Red/Blue! I made a god awful physical attacking team because I felt that would be novel and I'd catch some horrible new age Pokemonist by surprise with my crazy old man skills.

When I was done this I clicked the "Close" button.

"Go Online" seemed like the button to hit next, so I did that. Golly gee what a chat window. Hundreds of people! A chat window! I averted my eyes from the dialog and imagined them discussing great works of Greek philosophy or favorite Built to Spill albums or something.

My attempts to set my Rules to RBY OU (That stands for "overused"! Don't ask!) were stymied by the fact that my team needed to be made under Yellow rules to be eligible. So I had to go back and change my team. Then I hit the "Find a Battle", put on some Neil Young, and waited.

Not long after, I was accosted!

The battle was nothing to write home about, except oh my opponent's sprites never showed up! That was annoying, but otherwise the interface was pretty nice. I lost!

So I went back to that team builder and made a new team. With a Victreebel on it, no less!

Going back to the chat window/battle apparatus I found my team no longer there! In this computer game, you need to explicitly save your games instead of having them automatically saved on a server! Boo, hard working Pokemon Online developers! Hiss!

After that point I was invincible! I won like three battles convincingly. Then I got so lucky in one battle the guy quit! Then some guy I already fought challenged me and I was like 'I retire' and peaced from Pokemon for the evening!

So this thing was pretty neat, namely because real live people were on it they were active active and it has a "Find a Battle" feature that hasn't been sitting around half-programmed since I was a grad student. But, like a common whore, there were some definite downsides. The rule configurations are limited to really coarse sets based on tiers of Pokemon. You can apparently switch to stadium mechanics (suck a dick, broken Focus Energy mechanics) but the evade clause* is always going to be in effect because socialist nanny-statist Obama thinks we cannot make decisions for ourselves and play non evade-claused matches against like minded individuals. Granted non evade-claused matches can be really tedious, but like freedom or something. Well at least they have tradeback moves as an available option**. Yeah.

They carried them
To the flatlands
And they died along the way
But they built up
With their bare hands
What we still can't do today.


Educational Programming
*In Pokemon you can use moves that up your "Evade", or, in real people words, decrease the opponent's chance of hitting your Pokemon by a multiplicative factor. People don't like this because it makes the game "too luck-based", but people also have no idea of what the long view is. Seriously, it evens out. Sample size. Sample size. Stop.
**You can trade a Pokemon from second generation to first generation games if that Pokemon and all the moves that it has exist in the first generation game. However, the second generation games alter what moves Pokemon can learn, making for some interesting move combos that do not exist in the original games. Confuse Ray/Thunderwave Starmie, mostly. Look it up, it caused much gnashing of teeth in the early portion of this century.

08 November 2012

No traffic lights

When I was in high school I was a libertarian and I was convinced that everything was better if there was no central authority dictating how things were done

Right on A Street
Straight onto Concord
Right on Summer
Left on Beacon
Left on Hastings
Right on Woodward
Right on Old Connecticut Path
Turn left, cross route 30, and go through the Bella Costa parking lot
Right on Concord (again)
Right on Corregidor
Continue on Arsenal
Right on Normandy
Left on Flagg
Right on Warren
Left on Forest
Continue on Nelson
Cross Union and continue on Otis
Right on Franklin
Right on Newton Place
Left on Day Hill

27 October 2012

100 years of fuckityo.com

Quiz
  1. What is the longest post in the history of the blog?
  2. How many posts are tied for shortest? How many words do they contain?
  3. What have been all the names of the blog?
  4. Average posts per month? Average posts per month. (Extra credit: average words per post.)
  5. Deleted posts, do they exist?
  6. Which day is the sole day where there has been a post every year?
ANSWERS AND A LOT OF OTHER WORDS AFTER THE BREAK! THAT MEANS CLICK ON THE 'READ MORE' LINK. SERIOUSLY.

13 October 2012

Hyper Beam for fun and profit

Hey! You there! You look like the type of person looking to woo a beautiful woman, settle a score, or dash the dreams of a pre-teen. I recommend a Pokemon battle!

And if you're going to engage in the furious combat of Pocket Monsters Blue or Red Edition, few things will help you more than total mastery over Hyper Beam! But you can't go around just Hyper Beaming everything with just anyone. You're gonna need a plan. You're gonna need an expert to guide you through this complicated game that is played by small children, the disabled, and other undesirables including the most fearsome foe: twentysomethings who lack the ability to fucking move on. Not everyone gets Hyper Beam at first. I have a friend who once thought he could take me down by arming his Pokemon team with six (6) Hyper Beamers. He lost badly and has never recovered.*

Don't be like him!**

In terms of base power, Hyper Beam is the most powerful move in the game that does not result in the death of your Pokemon. Base power is a value that goes into the damage formula that Pokemon uses for determining the amount of damage done by one Pokemon to another as a result of using an attacking move. Hyperbeam clocks in a healthy 150 base power. For this power, it has a remarkable 89.5% accuracy.

Hyper Beam is a Normal-type move. This has three major implications. First, as all normal type moves are considered physical, the Attack stat of the attacker and the Defense stat are considered when calculating damage. Second, Normal-type Pokemon enjoy 1.5 power bonus when using the move due to the same type attack bonus. Third, you're not going to want to use Hyper Beam against Ghost Pokemon (it won't do anything) and using it against Rock-type Pokemon is similarly not advisable (the power will be reduced by half).

Another important consideration is that in the world of Pokemon, speed increases a Pokemon's chance of scoring a critical hit. Critical hits are extremely valuable as they double the attacking Pokemon's level in the damage calculation, approximately doubling the damage done. They also remove any defense boosts the defending Pokemon has put in place. But be cautious, because they also remove attacking boosts in effect for your own Pokemon.

Here is a chart of the on-average most damaging Hyper Beams in the game accounting for Attack, same type attack bonus, and critical hit chance. The damage done is a max-stat level 100 Pokemon facing a max-stats level 100 Mew (Mew's base stats of 100 across the board make it a popular baselining Pokemon).

NameDMG to LVL 100 Mew
DODRIO230.9763235294
TAUROS213.4845588235
SNORLAX205.9230147059
KANGASKHAN196.7671691176
FEAROW189.4854411765
DRAGONITE181.3636862745
KINGLER174.5951715686
FLAREON171.7753186275
PINSIR170.6625612745
RATICATE170.0239007353
GYARADOS169.578002451
MACHAMP168.9554656863
PIDGEOT166.3973529412
RHYDON164.7256862745
HITMONLEE164.4306862745
MEWTWO161.1423039216
KABUTOPS155.9103921569
SCYTHER155.1772303922
AERODACTYL153.9017892157
ARCANINE152.7912009804
PERSIAN151.4109191176
PRIMEAPE145.9302818627
HITMONCHAN141.6028921569
RAPIDASH141.2384803922
GOLEM140.8610539216
VICTREEBEL140.2363480392
MEW140.1539215686
CLEFABLE138.8842647059
MOLTRES137.9848039216
MUK135.6812009804
WIGGLYTUFF135.4679044118
SANDSLASH132.5620098039
MAGMAR131.7963112745
FARFETCH\D129.1622794118
CLOYSTER127.0567892157
RAICHU126.323627451
ZAPDOS126.323627451
NIDOKING126.0963039216
EXEGGUTOR123.9657965686
SEAKING122.7038039216
PARASECT118.8141421569
WEEZING118.5148039216
CHARIZARD118.0254509804
ELECTABUZZ117.5426053922
ARTICUNO116.6428553922
DUGTRIO115.9639215686
ARBOK115.7209803922
PORYGON115.5358823529
POLIWRATH113.8772303922
BLASTOISE112.6816127451
GOLDUCK112.591377451
DRAGONAIR112.5592745098
LAPRAS112.0334803922
VENUSAUR111.7020392157
NIDOQUEEN110.9905686275
GOLBAT110.7580392157
BEEDRILL108.1550980392
STARMIE108.0184436275
NINETALES106.9612156863
LICKITUNG104.3497426471
VILEPLUME103.8168627451
MAROWAK102.9492156863
TENTACRUEL98.6630392157
HYPNO97.5867230392
JOLTEON95.9776715686
DITTO94.2334117647
SLOWBRO94.1903186275
DEWGONG94.1078921569
GENGAR93.1578186275
VENOMOTH90.3379656863
SEADRA89.633002451
VAPOREON86.8131495098
DRATINI83.4236862745
MAGNETON80.9283333333
OMASTAR78.976127451
ELECTRODE75.3406862745
ALAKAZAM73.1715686275
TANGELA73.1455392157
JYNX70.4601715686
MR. MIME63.1112009804
BUTTERFREE61.158995098
ONIX61.158995098
CHANSEY12.3357720588

One caveat of using Hyper Beam is that there is a recharge turn associated with it. This gives your opponent a chance to attack or switch without you being able to retaliate. If your move misses, however, you don't have to deal with the recharge turn. Nevertheless, with Hyper Beam's accuracy and two-turn nature, you're only looking at an average base power of around 67. Many moves are more powerful than that, so just using Hyper Beam without a plan is ill-advised.

Luckily, as though I planned it to be this way, here are some advanced topics to mitigate this unfortunate behavior!

Hyper Beam as a finishing move
In the Gameboy games and all self-respecting Pokemon battle simulators, but not Pokemon stadium, Hyper Beam does not require a recharge turn if it causes the opposing Pokemon to faint. Therefore, if it looks like you'll kill your opponent with a Hyper Beam but not your more accurate or non-recharge moves it's typically worth the risk.

Even if you're playing on stadium it's also a great choice if you suspect your opponent will kill you on this (if you're faster than your opponent) or your next (if you're slower) turn because you can't recharge when you're dead unless you're oldschool OPENPKMN in which case how have you gained self-awareness and started reading my blog? What's Linux the Wartortle like in person?

Hey dipshit I have Slash on my Persian and due to Persian's high speed and Slash's high critical hit rate I get 99.6% accuracy with an effective base 140 power and no recharge! What do I need Hyperbeam for?
Hyper Beam has 150 base power without the benefit of a critical hit. A critical hit Hyper Beam is  approximately 300 base power, effectively.

If you're playing on Pokemon Stadium or any self respecting Pokemon battle simulator keep in mind that Hyper Beam combined with the critical hit increasing move Focus Energy is a good combination.

You also have a bad attitude.

Getting a lot of Hyper Beam PP
Say you're playing on the Gameboy and your opponent uses a trapping move like Wrap against you and you're down to 1 Hyper Beam PP. One option is to pull out the cable and corrupt their Pokemon League hall of fame, but that's amateur hour stuff. The other is to use Hyper Beam. Should their trapping move miss, the game will keep your selection of Hyper Beam locked in and will use it despite having 0 PP. This will cause underflow and give you an ass-ton of Hyper Beam PP for the rest of the battle. You'll lose it when you heal your Pokemon, but due to the way PP-ups are stored, you'll have full PP-ups forevermore. Score, bitches.

Why is it "Hyper Beam" instead of "Hyperbeam"?
If Obama really cared, it would be "Hyperbeam".

*He's actually living perhaps the most pure impoverished but nevertheless happy student archetype I've ever seen, the poor bastard.
** You should be like the person who beat him because misery is the most noble of all the human emotions.

16 September 2012

Ninety-eight

Awhile back I decided I was going to make some special posts when I got around the hundred post mark. Barring the deletion or revival of any older posts, this is number 98. It only took three years.

So here's how we're going to do this.

I want you, the probably-not-even-in-the-teens number of people who regularly read this, to suggest topics and I'll pick one and write about it in post 99. So comment here, anonymously or not, about stuff you'd like me write about.

For post 100 I'll be doing a retrospective of some of the best and worst of this very blog! If there are are posts you would like reflected on, expounded on, or explained, feel free to put them in the comments as well.

This whole thing seems a little silly and ridiculous to me, because I've always felt that the best way to open something to criticism and disdain is to pretend it is larger and more important than it is. This is mediocre at best writing with an active readership that exceeds 10 people every once in a blue moon. And here I acting as though people are going to care about getting a chance to dictate what's in the 99th post.

But I'm going with it and you should too!

15 September 2012

Foot massage

In July 2011, I was in Seattle for the second time in my life. The first time was a flyout for the job I ended up taking and it was very much a chaperoned type of thing. Arrive at the airport, be whisked away by cab to the hotel, be shuttled by buses to various buildings for meetings with various teams of software engineers. A little downtime spent hitting the touristy parts, and then back to the airport. It was like I was hardly in Seattle at all.

The second time I was in the city on my own looking for apartments. My plan was to take the subway from the airport to downtown, hop on the #10 bus, and arrive at my friend's place a disheveled, tired mess with a backpack filled with all the things I needed to pass out on his floor. I got out of the subway and found that the bus stop for the 10 was right nearby.

Nearly immediately an Asian man in a green jacket spoke to me. In slightly affected speech, he explained to me that he was a homeless man who lived up in Ballard and all his supplies had gotten stolen. Could I help him out?

I politely said no, saying that I only had fare for the bus I needed to take. He accepted this graciously and walked off. I'm honestly not sure if I had the money to help him or not.

In any case, what I consider to me my first real interaction in Seattle was with a homeless man.

The homeless in Seattle strike me as very different from homeless people I've encountered in the past. They're bolder, often wanting to explain the circumstances for their misfortune. I feel like the homeless I encountered around Boston were more often of the 'sadly shaking a cup' variety, but then again, I spent a lot of time in the suburbs.

(One time I read a blog by a voluntarily homeless man who stated that immediate suburbs of a major city are paradise for the homeless. There's usually decent public transportation infrastructure, access to universities for computers and free food, and most importantly plenty of places to pitch a tent and hide. Yet he noticed that most homeless lived in cities. He suspected the reason for this was access to drugs.)

I have a lot of trouble with these bold homeless, because if someone attempts to talk to me I feel like a dick completely ignoring them. So my modus operandi is to patiently listen as they get to the pitch that they need money, and then say I don't have any. The vast majority of the time, that's a total lie. Invariable I feel like I'm some shitty dude.

I have significant internal debate about what kind of person that makes me. Am I really helping these people if I give them money? Maybe it buys them a day of food or shelter. Maybe it gets spent on drugs. I have no idea. Either way am I really effecting any sort of meaningful change? But it's not like I need to hold on to every dollar that I have in order to get by. But at the same time where do obligations to society begin? In my mind, I don't have a good reason to give them money or not to give them money.

But I'm not going to go outright and say that I have money, but I'm not giving it to them. Even though that's exactly what I'm doing. I'm not proud of this, but it's the cleanest way I know of to extricate myself from what I've turned into a complex situation.

One time I relented and  gave a woman a spare quarter that was noisily clinking around in my pocket. She promptly asked me if I had any more. This did not resonate well with me. Same deal when I saw the guy ostensibly from Ballard hanging around the same place downtown giving the same spiel. Same with the woman who's always asking for exactly two dollars. I know there's probably at least mild mental illness at play in all these cases, but it's still frustrating and disconcerting.

Fortunately, sometimes there are no difficult ethical issues involved.

I was walking home the other night from work at about 10. I was walking down and saw two disheveled looking guys sitting on a stoop by a medical building. As I got closer, I recognized them as homeless guys I regularly see around the neighborhood and on the bus.

I was nearly past them, one of them called out, slurring his speech pretty heavily. "Can I ask you a favor?" In spite of myself, I turned around asked what was up.

Getting the words out was a real problem for this gentleman. Slowly, he was able to say that he knew I was a good guy, but what he wanted still wasn't clear. There was no clear pitch, though it sounded like he wanted something; "I gotta get home", I told him and started walking away.

Finally he got it out "CAN YOU GIVE ME A FOOT MASSAGE", he yelled.

I couldn't help myself, before I could even think, I burst out laughing and called back to him "no thanks!", my evening officially made.

Sometimes, but only sometimes, things aren't complicated and it's not all about money.

12 August 2012

Warren/Oaks

Basically, this is a story about peeing.

Before college, I never used the bathroom at school. Maybe there were couple of odd times that I did, but even through high school, as I remember it, I didn't use the bathroom at school. If I did, it's probably a single-digit number of times in 13 years of schooling.

I can't remember ever peeing myself or shitting my pants either. (He puts this on its own line, pridefully.)

That's effectively seven hours spent without relieving myself. Now, I chain-drink water like a madman, and I absolutely cannot imagine how I lived back then. How dehydrated was I then? Because, really, one milk or juice box at lunch was the extent of my fluid consumption during the typical school day. It was a different time, I guess. Or I was in fact a camel.

...

When I was a kid, I used to write stories in pieces of ordinary paper folded to look like books. Before and during kindergarten, these were dictated to my mother who would dutifully record these masterpieces. I would illustrate the covers and provide some artwork in whatever room remained in the interior. Among the last of these dictated stories, before I moved to writing them in  HUGE LITTLE-KID WRITING, was called Flo's Bus.

Flo's Bus was a story in which Flo, the much-beloved bus driver, accidentally started driving her route on a Saturday. Ignoring the massive problem that someone's, anyone's parent would be paying attention to this and prevent their child from getting on said bus, she managed to pick up her entire gaggle of students and proceed to school. We were all young, latchkey and naive, so no one questioned this at all.

Arriving at school, Flo noticed she was the first bus to arrive and happen to notice that the door of the school was locked. Not taking this for the sign that it was, she divined a solution. Those kids were getting into school, damn it. The kids would go in through the school's chimney.

Like most 1950s-era school buildings, my elementary school lacked a chimney. But this did not prevent our fictional selves from going down the fictional chimney and ending up covered with fictional ashes and soot.  After all, this is the universal conditional of those who maneuver through chimneys. However, this was a correctable problem because we washed our heads in the school's toilets.

Yeah, the toilets. Having never been in a school bathroom, I was under the distinct impression they did not have sinks.

To this day, I wonder what other misconceptions of the world I have on account of not using school bathrooms. But really I'm just more shocked that I didn't pee for eight fucking hours, every fucking school day.

26 July 2012

Good night

I have a bad habit when I've been drinking, and that's to really want to record things in my phone in hopes of finding them later. Of course, I only usually find these things when when I've been drinking and looking to record such things.

This is a story about not remembering one of those things at all.

Tuesday night I partook in a little drinking and ended up looking at the calendar of my phone. I scrolled to August for some reason and saw the 13th underlined. Underlining means there's an event for that day, so I checked it out.

10:00pm
Good night

I have no idea what this is about. It's not recurrent on a daily, monthly, or yearly basis, so it's not like I had a good night once, put some reminder of it in my phone, and then made it recur inadvertently. The other consideration is that maybe I meant to put this in my phone last year, but put it in the wrong year. But I don't think I had a particularly good night August 13, 2011. Just some random Saturday. But at some point, I, or someone else who stole my phone, felt the need to attach the words 'Good night' to August 13, 2012, for whatever reason.

In any event, the pressure is on.

17 July 2012

A good day for a drive to the south

I was oncall for work until 1:00 PM today. It's been a terrible seven days and once the oncall shift ended, I mentally checked out. I stuck around until about 4:45, but hightailed it out there.
Because it was a good day for a drive to the south.

I had to go to Chinatown anyway to get some groceries, so I was heading southbound anyway. But I figured if there was one thing to do today it was to follow the overhead wires of the 7 bus and get to the magic land of Rainier Beach that it had on its rollsign.
It was a good day for a drive to the south.

Nevermind the fact that no one seemed to have any idea how to describe the weather today. The dude on the radio said it was balmy and muggy, which made no sense. The gage on the car said it was 76, which seemed like an outright lie. It was cold, until it was suddenly steaming hot, with a chilling wind. It was like what it's like to be sick. Maybe I'm sick? Is that why I'm not feeling it?

So I set forth down Rainier Ave and just kept going until I hit Renton and decided it was high time to turn back. There were houses and strip malls. I raced a minivan. A homeless man whooped whenever a light would change.

But at the end was the an amazing vista out of over Lake Washington, dotted with tiny cottages, facing the monstrosities on Mercer Island.

I think there's something curative about driving. I view my car as a total luxury. I don't need it, I could make do without it, but I enjoy it. Contrast this with my father, who just really literally cannot fathom the lack of a car. But he doesn't enjoy it the same way I do.

When I drive, I do so largely on my own accord. I don't need to get anywhere in any particular hurry, usually, so it's majorly relaxing.

But come to think of it, why are we as humans able to drive? What part of our evolutionary history selected for us being able to maneuver a vehicle at several times greater than our sustained running speed?

I wouldn't give it up, because it was a good day for a drive to the south.

09 July 2012

who wants to eat what's in my slowcooker

  1. Beef ribs
  2. Whole tomatoes in tomato juice
  3. Water
  4. White vinegar
  5. Honey
  6. Soy sauce
  7. Mustard
  8. Fish sauce
  9. Pressed garlic
  10. Brown sugar
  11. Sriracha
(who wants to eat that which is in my slowcooker?)

03 July 2012

Flat

I live in a place that's fairly mountainous. On a clear day I'm treated to incredible views amazing snow-capped mountains in basically any direction that I look. Back when I was in art classes in elementary school I'd draw mountains in the background of any landscape I'd draw. I'm not sure why; growing up outside of Boston there are really no mountains to speak of. I think I must have seen a drawing with mountains in the background and just thought it was the right thing to do.

Imagine my surprise when I saw that there was a place where there really are mountains in the background everywhere.

But I do a moderate amount of work-related travel to places that are not that mountainous. In fact many of the places I've been to are really, really flat. Phoenix. Exurban Indianapolis. These places are flat.

I regard flat places with a sort of reverence. Not a sense that I'd want to live in a place like that, but a deep appreciation of what I am seeing. Parallel roads continuing on and on until they meet at the horizon. There's just a sense that it evokes.

I think it's the closest thing I'll ever have to experiencing infinity. Speaking of which:

18 June 2012

Pudding for Breakfast: A cautionary choose your own adventure novella

My alarm was set for 6:30 today because I had too much to do in the morning. I had:
  1. A friend's dog to walk.
  2. A session with a personal trainer.
This two items more than usual.

So of course, with my alarm set for 6:30, I got out of bed around 7:50. Amazing morning. I almost got out of bed right at 6:30, but thought, fuck I deserve a little extra rest. I was then treated to the most amazing half-awake listen of The Weather by Built to Spill and dreamed about the poor trials of fictional German baseball writer and erstwhile prestigious university student and his sad exclusion from the department of mathematics at the hands of an uncaring dean. Plus his name was said to have translated to "honest Englishman".

So in my groggy haze I realized I had a grand total of 10 minutes more than usual to accomplish an infinite precent increase in my usual morning routine.

This meant breakfast as we knew it was straight out. On my workout days I'll typically eat oatmeal and an egg. This is a nutritious breakfast that prepares the body well for an intense workout. This morning I knew things had to be different.

So I ate lemon pudding.

This was no ordinary lemon pudding. But lemon pudding I made last night, from scratch, spontaneously. Do you know how easy it is to make pudding from scratch? It's easy. You probably have all the ingredients, except maybe corn starch, but you probably do have it.

Seriously how does pudding mix sell?*

So after eating my pudding, I walked the dog, even finding an amazing parking spot easily. (Sometimes I'm lucky). Mentally, I tried to prepare myself for what I'd say if my trainer asked me what I ate for breakfast. Could I really say lemon pudding? I mean I could say eggs and milk, because, well, those were ingredients. But also so was more-refined-sugar-by-unit-volume-than-lemon-juice. And that's bad for you, says health. As Soco was once described to me by a man with a doctorate, "It will rot you gut." This was rot your gut stuff. Oatmeal will not rot your gut.

So I went to the gym, visions of puking up lemon pudding dancing through my head (these workouts are intense, ok!?). Rowing machines, squats, hill runs. These are the things I didn't ralph during.

But on the whiteboard normally reserved for uplifting motivational things: "You can't exersize your way out of a bad diet!"

Well fuck me!

*Pudding mix sells because it's remarkably uniform. As much as I love my pudding I could see being offput by an egg tendril or some burned clump of milk, sugar, and corn starch.

17 June 2012

Baseball update: Featuring the Juvenile Bears of Chicago

  1. Baseballer Reed Johnson spat, as baseballers are wont to do. However, he spat in his soul-patch-that-becomes-a-vertical-beard-strip.
  2. Player of first base Bryan LaHair has a very short buzzcut.

07 June 2012

Best Bathrooms: 2012 Award Ceremony Post

5. Laadla, Seattle
Some know Laadla as the bar-in-the-back-of-an-Indian restaurant that I have described in absolute glowing terms, only to have described back to me, using mostly the same words, in absolutely non-glowing terms. The scholars can debate whether the record collection of one of the bartenders offsets the casual smoke breaks taken by another one of the bartenders. What's not up for debate is the bathroom, which has a urinal covered with the grossest, something-spattered plastic seem by mankind and a machine that uses mechanical energy to vend 50-cent condoms. Best part: this bathroom is not exclusive to the bar, but shared with the restaurant, which advertises candlelight dining. Sure.

4. Agricultural Engineering North, UMass Amherst
In this dilapidated old building, built in 1918, there are legit floor-to-ceiling urinals. These beasts are in pristine condition. I feel like I'm peeing on art and the floor at the same time. Lovely.

3. The Eastlake Zoo, Seattle
Two words: trough urinal. I'm a fan of these wonderful devices, which could also double as a way to provide water to horses. But not at the same time as normal use.

I like this one because there's a chalkboard mounted above it, which fulfills everyone's graffiti instinct without the mess. Yet there's no chalk.

Amidst all this trough-urination and legitimized vandalism: hands-free paper towel dispensers! Score one for health.

2. 4th Floor Chadbourne Hall, UMass
As an esteemed and highly educated professional in the environmental engineering field (who might be my father) noted, "You could drop a shit in those urinals".

The toilet stall closest to the window provides a nice view while you poo. (Also occasional debate about the baby boomers' contributions to music).

1. Victory Lounge, Seattle
An incredibly easy choice for first prize. As you walk into this restroom you realize you have two choices. One of them is a bed of icecubes separated by a low wall. This is the trough urinal taken to its logical end. Yeah this is where you're supposed to relieve your bladder. On some random ice on the floor. Is there a drain down there? I sure hope so. For extra points try to melt an entire cube.

What if you have other objectives? Very barely separated from this space is the most cramped toilet stall you'll ever find. Want to lock the door? Tough shit, but that will hardly be necessary as 1) Your head will be sticking out, observing those icing their piss 2) You'll be holding it closed with your horribly compressed knees.

Conclusion
Is it any wonder that these magnificent commodes are split between dive bars and a major four-year research university? If I were UMass facilities, my heart would glow with pride to know I stacked up against some of Seattle's most classy drinking establishments.

Note that these establishments are all located in the United States. Not discussed here are pop-a-squat toilets, which I was able to avoid during a increasingly less recent trip to the People's Republic of China. Any dining establishment that integrates these into its restroom experience could easy find themselves shooting up the way to to number one in this list.

Congrats to all our contestants!

30 April 2012

Toilet Music

Someone in the building is playing music and I can hear it with perfect clarity. Recently, it's ben happening a couple of times a week. It seems to be Nora Jones stuff--maybe not precisely, but something that falls under auspices of what I'd consider to be 'middle-aged-woman music'.

A college education teaches us that a quick knock on the walls is typical decorum for dealing with such a situation.

But what if the music is coming from the toilet?*

*Here's where I compromise humor for the sake of truth. The music is coming from the bathroom, but it's most definitely coming from the fan vent.

22 April 2012

Wherein the author's Italian heritage takes on some relevance

The other day I made pasta and red sauce entirely from scratch. As in the stuff going into it was crushed tomatoes, olive oil, onions, garlic, basil, oregano, salt, sugar, flour and eggs. It was a lot of work. It took hours and I got two meals out of it. Granted I had to throw away about a third of the dough due to an unfortunate pasta-getting-caught-in-the-spaghitti-cutter incident (some dipshit forced the attachment on upside-down), but still, low payoff. Delicious pasta, hilarious incompetence, low payoff.

I think you have to make a lot of pasta for it to be worthwhile, which makes me wonder how many generations ago my ancestors were regularly making their own pasta. My parents definitely weren't, and I'm not really sure my grandparents were either.

And going this many generations up, we enter the hall of legends of hard-working stock who worked all day in the paper factory or the chemical plant and then worked on digging the foundation to their house in the new world. Meanwhile their wives would slave over a hot stove making sauce and roll out sheets of wonderful-tasting pasta in anticipation of the breadwinner getting home. I think.

So basically I'm spending my spare time as a 1920s Italian housewife? The worst Italian housewife?

Mama mia!

Wherein the author takes a journey to a more distant land

It's been almost a month since I went to Guangzhou for work and I'm still somewhat stymied by an inability to capture my exact impressions of the trip. I don't want to do the whole blow-by-blow because that's remarkably boring and there's no real voice in there.

So I'm going to start backwards and end up all over the place.*

Ever since I've returned from China I've been making really good noodle dishes. Stir fries have given me a lot of trouble in the past. They'd smell super good and end up tasting bland. The meat would seem dry, the vegetables somehow both burnt and undercooked. I credit this turn around directly to an old woman, an old man, and a propane stove on the back of a bike.

The last evening I was in Guangzhou, I went to a pedestrian district. I'm not sure what it's called, but it's by the Changshou Lu metro stop. I had been there a couple days earlier, and was absolutely in awe of it. There was weird random food and just weird random stuff everywhere. Barber shops with lines out of the door at 10:30 PM, little stalls that seemed to sell nearly-exclusively kitchen sinks open at the same hour. A small crowd seemed to gather when I ate some stinky tofu--the project manager whom I was traveling with and who spoke perfectly adequate Chinese told me that those gathered had never seen a white person enjoy it.

But this night I was by myself. I wanted something more substantial than stinky tofu or octopus on a stick (both compelling options). I was also limited by the fact that I'd have no idea how to order something complex. My vocabulary literally was 'hello' and 'thank you'. So I wandered around hoping to see a cart that caught my eye. There, at least, I could point at things I wanted.

My prayers were answered by a bike with a propane stove on the back. I cautiously made my way forward, said hello to the old woman operating the stand, and pointed to some thin rice noodles. That was the cue for the old man operating the burner to superheat some oil in a wok and crack an egg into it. I had succeeded.

Now the old woman took to pointing. Green onions. I nodded. Bean sprouts. Nod. Unidentified chopped meat. Nod. The ubiquitous dried hot red peppers. Vigorous nodding. They all ended up in the wok. Some dark sauce was spayed all over the concoction and literally, probably within two minutes, I was handed a heaping styrofoam container of noodles. I handed over 20 yuan, having no idea how much such a thing would cost. I got the vast majority of it back. Those noodles probably cost me all of $1.

I walked back the subway station and ate them just outside it, watching the people walk by. They were absolutely delicious. Deeply, deeply satisfying, slightly greasy, and outright tasty. But my moment of enjoyment was shattered when I checked my phone and saw that I only had a borderline chance of catching the last subway back. Shit.

I was a 30 minute subway ride from my hotel. I'd have no idea how to walk back, even if I wanted to. And the cab drivers are notorious for not speaking any English. I didn't have the name of my hotel written in Chinese, which is really the most basic piece of travel advice any traveler in China should know about. I'd be kinda fucked.

Luckily I was not fucked, made the train, was the only white guy on it (just like every other time I took it), made it back to the hotel, and ate my noodles. And since then, I've been making those noodles at least once per week.

But I didn't even talk about half of what happened.

*Just like someone driving in reverse on the highway.

02 April 2012

Wherein the author takes a journey to a distant land

The other day I took a long journey. I like to think of myself as a well-adjusted urban dweller, but I found myself in a situation where I really needed a power outlet adapter and I had no idea what to do. Nothing in walking distance seemed like a feasible option. I couldn't even think of a place that would fit my needs downtown. Isn't that what living in a city should be all about? Shouldn't I be able to take a bit of a walk, or even a bus, and meet all my needs?

Instead I reverted back to old habits.

I drove to the mall. To the mall's credit, the mall is still in Seattle proper, it's just in an area called Northgate, which might as well be some second-rate suburb. It's just houses and cars and malls. But what was I to do? Between a Target and a Best Buy, I ended up with everything I needed. I just had to drive a half hour to get there, and compromise maybe everything I believe in.

But there's more to this story than that. The real funny thing is that I always thought of the place with Target and Best Buy in at as the mall itself, but really there was an entire mall across the street all this time. And after I got the goods, I went over there in a mission of exploration, well, because I heard this mall had a Pokemon vending machine. Yeah. A vending machine selling Pokemon merchandise. My "I'm a ashamed of this" detectors should be going the fuck off, but they weren't and aren't.

So I ended up at the mall. The Pokemon thing was swarmed with kids.

I had forgotten kids, their fat parents, and their minivans existed. I realized it was time to go home.

All the merch was shitty new game stuff and a single Pikachu.

Not what you were expecting?

26 February 2012

Mediocre Expectations Memorialized (Seismic Toss)

Before there was fuckityo.com, before there was Supertime Radio, there was Mediocre Expectations. Mediocre Expectations was a blog superficially much like this one, it was hosted on the blogger platform and may have used the same default layout template. From the wasteland of the summer of 2006 (though possibly 2007) to some time after, it was the repository for my thoughts.

There was one difference between Mediocre Expectations and anything that came after it though: Mediocre Expectations had an awesome name.

Tooting my own horn here. It was a really awesome name. It all stemmed from some great fear that I was trending towards mediocrity in basically everything. The rest was all literary. Mediocre Expectations. Jesus christ.

So I lied earlier, there were some other things different about Mediocre Expectations. First of all, every post was named after a Pokemon move. Reflect was definitely one, as was Growth. One could have well been Waterfall. Maybe there was a Quick Attack, but that's kind of tough to work with. But no tougher than Razor Wind. In fact all of these sound really awesome right now.

So I'd admit I stole this conceit from a Pokemon message board where the administrator had a fake account called 'Hobart'. Hobart would crop up from time to time and post topics named after a Pokemon move. The contents would probably best be described as nonsensical and vaguely sexual free-form poetry tangentially related to the move mentioned.

There was no vaguely sexual free-form poetry in Mediocre Expectations. However, these are some posts I remember.
Reflect: An apology to the town of Framingham. I saw Framingham as lacking the advantages of an urban area while possessing none of the quality of a rural one. In this post, as response to discovering thisisframingham.com, I realized this perception was partially due to my lack of trying things in town. Framingham could have been a limiting factor, but I was a greater one. This was the first post.
I still feel that I never give Framingham a fair shake when I'm there, but I'm enjoying living in a more urban area.
Growth(??)/Waterfall(??): An indictment of the college parties and drinking games as not fostering connections between people. A look forward to calmer social activities.
Still not sure how I feel about this one. I really miss the communal living of college, but I never really mastered the college party thing. I definitely learned to enjoy beer pong though, it was just by the time I was in grad school.
???: A post lamenting the close of CompUSA, specifically recounting an event where a friend from the other side of town and myself had a race to get there and buy free after rebate routers.
I really did this is high school. I won the race by cheating and leaving early.
???: A reflection on Star Trek TNG having seen all the episodes in order over a year. Some complaining about all the major characters being more or less perfect and well intentioned. Also Data being a funny robot.
Ilya wrote a post on this topic, so I had to copy.
There must have been more than these, and I hope I can think of some of them.

So you might be wondering what ever happened to Mediocre Expectations. From the horse's mouth, January 4, 2008:
 i'd always think, shit i should post something, and then the next day i'd think, 'glad i didn't post that because that would suck' so i figured i'd just blow it up

Oh Matt, you silly goose, you'd have to know you'd miss it if you blew it up! But your desire to massage your image was just too damn strong. The data is lost forever. I tried recovering it from Google and they said no dice. That kinda sucks, because I'd love to see what I thought about during that fairly considerable time span.

Before, and somewhat concurrent with Mediocre Expectations, there was a LiveJournal but that's a strange and complicated beast that won't get discussed here.

14 February 2012

Obligatory

For the past two years, I've made Valentine's Day posts. I'm not sure why, except maybe I'm secretly such a sap that some manufactured holidays puts me in the vortex of deep contemplation. Then you'd read the post from last Valentine's Day and realize that's definitely not the case. It's probably just a manufactured tradition, just like the holiday itself right!? Hating it is still cool, right?!

RIGHT?!

Anyway last year's post sucked so much that I'm pulling out all the stops this year and telling some neat and appropriate themed stories for you read in whatever mental voice you use to read my blog (Barry White suggested).

Girls Wanted, Enquire Within
I want to say I heard this story during the cross-country roadtrip that my dad and I took for me to move to Seattle. I have no idea if there's embellishment or outright fiction in this tale, or if I'm betraying the confidence of the very people who put me on this earth, but here goes:

Both my mother's family and my father's family owned cottages in erstwhile sleepy beachside town Marshfield, Massachusetts when they were kids. One summer, I think when my dad was 16 he and a brother or a cousin or a friend were hanging around and cooked up a scheme. This part I'm speculating on, but they probably managed to wrangle up some beers and played some music and put together the very foundations of a little party in the back yard of the cottage. But they didn't stop there. They put out a sign in front reading:

GIRLS WANTED
ENQUIRE WITHIN

At this point in his telling of the story, my dad pointed out that he meant 'inquire' and spelled it wrong, not that I would have given him the benefit of the doubt. His spelling is atrocious. But actually both inquire and enquire are acceptable for this. Way to go dad.

It just so happened that my mother and her friend were walking through town and noticed this sign. They decided to follow the advice on the sign and went around to the back yard.

Now in this back yard, and I'm shamelessly and perhaps incorrectly combining this with another story that my mother told me. My dad and his friend or cousin or brother or some other actor in this mishmash story were sitting at a chessboard. Using comic accents, they were reenacting some famous US/USSR match. This was somehow found compelling and my mom and dad hit it off well, and the rest, they say, is history.

THEY GOT MARRIED. WHAT THE FUCK.

The moral of the story: put creepy signs in front of your cottage or blog.

Pokemon Chick
This is a story that I that I enjoy much more telling in person, but I got a request to blog about it. My verbal stories are pieces of incoherent shit anyway, so here's the written treatment:

It was a warm day in May at UMass Amherst in my first year of graduate school. I remember it clearly, I was in the science and engineering library photocopying something, when I got a fateful text from my friend Eric:

"Hot chick in pokemon shirt at learning commons."

The learning commons is a basement area in the main UMass library, about 10 minutes tops from where I was. I responded as any sane person would: "On my way".

I have a long and complicated relationship with the game of Pokemon, but let's just say it's kinda my thing. Since I was introduced to the game in March of 1999, it has had an undeniable impact on the direction of my life. Pokemon was the game that got me interested in programming, interacting with people on the internet, and spending insane amounts of time on projects that benefit very few people. I'm a Pokemon nerd, plain and simple. I really only care about the original games--not the anime, not the cards, not even the newer games--but I know them inside and out. But it's a cultural, almost spiritual thing to me--say what you will, skeptics. Any old person who'd wear a Pokemon shirt someone with whom I'd immediately feel a sense of community. A hot chick in a Pokemon shirt is my future wife.

I got there and I met Eric on the main floor of the library. He said he was about to go, but I convinced him to stick around. I ask him where I could find this Pokemon-shirted angel and he told me she was in the basement, near the photocopiers.

I went down there and sat down at a computer, no intentions whatsoever to use it. I scanned the room and then I found her. She was wearing a medium blue shirt, the original starter Pokemon and Ash (something I was willing to overlook) on her back. She was wearing black athletic shorts and had dirty blonde hair a little over shoulder length. She'd be gorgeous wearing anything, and the whole package was something to behold. I got scared.

But then again, maybe she was wearing it because she just thought it was some great thrift-store find. Maybe she wasn't really a 'moner, just nostalgic. Maybe she bought it for a 90s party and it was the only shirt she had clean; she didn't really care at all. But still: Pokemon shirt.

I went back the stairs to try to straighten out my thoughts. I had to do something. So I asked Eric, if it were weird if I told her I liked her shirt. He said it wouldn't except...he had done this already. Now it would seem weird if two people did this in such a quick time interval, especially if she saw us hanging out. I shouldn't do this. I allowed myself to believe this was the right choice. Defeated, and only half-jokingly ragging on Eric for being a total cockblock ("why the hell do you care about a girl in a Pokemon shirt you piece of shit, that's my thing"), we decided to chill on the ledge outside the library for a bit. I certainly couldn't go back to work.

Not soon later, she walked out of the library, texting. Once she got out of earshot, I mumbled "well there goes the future Mrs. Matthew Laquidara". Was it in jest? I think so, but I myself am not even sure. Eric immediately pointed to her texting as her probably texting her boyfriend. I felt so much better.

As she walked further off, I started to panic. I had to follow her--engineer some random seeming meet-up. As I expressed these thoughts in a crazed rush, Eric, uncharacteristically, told me that was really creepy and I absolutely shouldn't. I knew in my heart that was true.

So it's no surprise that when I did get back to the lab, I posted the first and likely only Craigslist missed connection of my life. It mysteriously failed screening and never appeared publicly on the site. Just like how all good love stories end.

30 January 2012

I hate coffee

Of all the backwards-ass drugs to legalize, we as a culture have chosen caffeine.

28 January 2012

I give video games another try: Starfox 64 is not exactly like riding a bike

Back in the day I devoted considerable time to a wonderful flight-spaceships-around-on-planets-killing-dudes game called Starfox 64. Did I have great skill, absolutely not. For those who are familiar with the game I got medals in Sector X and maybe McBeth and that's about it. And that's after years of play. Years. My sister was better than me (I think she got medals everywhere except Solar and maybe Aquas), so she would play and I would strategize, which basically meant give unwanted advice.

Then I went to college where my then-roommate, friend, and occasional Pokemon rival Ilya got ahold of the game, learned it, and in no time flat got all the rest of the medals, got all of the medals on the challenge mode, and wiped every Laquidara family score out of the standings.

Today I played Starfox to get my revenge.

Actually today I played Starfox because I'm more or less trapped in the house for work-related reasons and none of these productive things sounded appealing.
  • Find a doctor.
  • Find a dentist.
  • Find a mechanic.
  • Find mutual funds.
  • Work on that bike I bought.
  • Find the broken bulb in my chili-pepper lights.
  • Etc.
Also the natural cadence of Starfox is such that there are missions, punctuated by--well--nothing. Some generally amazing dialog. And amazing in the sense that yes it is amazing, but not like truthfully amazing but you probably get the idea by this point.

This rhythm is perfect to stir pasta sauce, which is what I am doing. This makes it the perfect game for the somewhat-adjusted young working professional. The things I knew when I saved up for it back in 1998.

Without further ado, here's a level by level review.

Corneria
This is the first level of Starfox 64. It's easy, which is fortunate because no one likes a hard video game. At least I don't. Here's a good time to introduce some Starfox 64 elements to the uninformed reader. There are two things the dignified player aims to do. One is to accomplish the mission rather than complete it. This involves some extra tasks one must do over the level. These are hinted at by the other pilots in the game, but are most often found via the internet, or whatever the 1997 equivalent of that was (I hear it involves talking to people using one's voice). The other is to protect your wingmen from dying while shooting down enough dudes. This earns you one of the aforementioned medals.

I accomplished Corneria because "a baby who has just been born"* could. I felt good about getting the medal at the halfway mark, but came up way short. The closest I've ever gotten is 149. It takes 150. WILMA!!!

Sector Y
This level is space rather than on a planet surface. This means about nothing. There are a lot of bad guys in this level an I managed fewer than Corneria. This was a pretty bad and inexplicable one.

One point Falco, the most ornery of the wingmen, asked if this was the best I could do. It was.

Aquas
This one is underwater and you have an unlimited supply of bombs. But your stupid little watercraft putters around and there are lots of exploding starfish(!!) to deal with. I nearly die here. Fellow wingmen Slippy and Peppy strongly hint at a homosexual affair.

Pro tip: I hate the phrase "pro tip".
Advice: Just constantly mash the A and B buttons at the same time.

Zoness
In this one you have to shoot down searchlights in order to not go to shitty level. You miss one, shitty level. No way to recover.

I miss a searchlight. Restart level.
I start with shitty, dopey single lasers. I miss an earlier searchlight. Restart level.
Same. Same. Restart level.
Nice attempt to recover by flying into a searchlight rather than hitting it. No luck. Restart level.
God damn fucking dragon. No lives left. Restart level.
I miss the first searchlight. Game over.

Epilogue (How confusing is this, I was using bold for level names and now I'm using it for sections of the entry.)

I'm disappointed by this outcome because I don't get to write about my favorite part: the brain. At the end of the game, you fight the main bad duder, a monkey-man-type by the name of Andross. Well you blow up his head and then you go head to head (HAH!!) with um I dunno, a GIANT FLOATING BRAIN.

There is a long tradition about me going into the brain with about 16 or so lives and piddling them away, getting caught in the brain's spaghetti (don't ask). You had to be there I guess. And I guess I got to write about the brain anyway.

The takehome lesson is that the brain has spaghetti associated with it.


UPDATE: I JUST STARTED A NEW GAME AND GOT A MEDAL IN CORNERIA FOR I THINK THE FIRST TIME EVER. HOLY SHIT I'M THE MAN.

*David Ortiz, describing who in Boston would not know who David Ortiz is. Quote circa 2005. Can't find attribution. I know this is real.

22 January 2012

Bottle day: a lab report

Results:
Yield: 45 bottles
Forty-five bottles is a lower than expected total. There are several factors that are responsible for this yield.
  1. Syphoning difficulties due to floating debris in beer. This batch was not very clear for some reason.
  2. The Event: During bottling, the hose from the tap detached, causing beer to spill on the floor. This was quickly corrected by turning off the tab. Yes, the floor was cleaned. Scrubbed with a damp cloth. On my hands and knees.
Specific gravity: I forgot to measure this.
Everyone makes mistakes.

Discussion:
I broke a drill bit. A friggin' drill bit. I was trying to drill down my bottler onto the kitchen table and the bit snapped in half. What the christ?
I'm allowed to drill things into tables that I paid $2 for at the Goodwill outlet.

Syphoning is the worst shit ever.
Yup.

Sources of Error:
Hello ladies, I'm Matt. I'm the sensitive one. I spend my time lost in thought, imagining a better world for us to live in. So forgive me if I'm bottling my beer and I overfill every other fucking bottle because I'm consumed by introspection. I just care that much.
Ladies, please find Matt charming.

Conclusion:
Beer brewing is the most obnoxious hobby ever, except maybe being in a death metal band. Death metal is way worse than beer, so maybe the conclusion is that beer should be brewed in basements only.
No one actually likes death metal.

04 January 2012

Meta

Probably due to spam bots, this blog has become nearly an order of magnitude more popular in Germany than in the rest of the world.

To all my new German readers: когда я ем, я глух и нем

2005

Period orders:
ABCDE
CADGF
DABEG
ACDEF
BDCGF
BAEFG
CBGFE

Back in those days, I was driving that white Dodge Spirit that burned just the littlest bit of oil that you'd smell when you'd turn the car off and get out. I think I parked in space 54 or maybe 53 or 64. Leaving was always congested because the funneled everyone out onto A street because the people on Bonito couldn't believe that in living next to a high school they'd be some noise and traffic at the end of the day. Life in the Fast Lane would always play on ZLX.

I started sticking around after school. I never really did much in the way of extracurricular activities because I was busy or I wanted to go home and oh code or something. But I'd go to Mr. Corcoran's or Mr. Quinn's and talk about chemistry or calculus or computer science and stuff. Never really class-related stuff but just other ideas like aluminum/sulfuric acid powered cars or the relationship between colors elements burned and their ions in solution or what if I took two solutions to a fourth root(??) and solved for i.

I think hanging around after school was the closest thing you could get to freedom in high school. Wandering around the school, going where you wanted, when you wanted (though maybe this is different now). It really wows me that I was expected to be in certain places at certain times and if I wasn't, I wasn't just blowing off some obligation I would genuinely be in trouble. It seems so far away, even though 2005 doesn't really.

The teachers seemed really real (what horrid phrasing) then. More so than any college professors and I'm not sure why. I'd go to college professors for help with class material occasionally, but never just to hang like this. Maybe I did this in high school because it was novel. Maybe it's spending a whole year (or more) with these people. Or did I just have nothing better to do?

Overall, it was nothing to write home about.