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Tucker McKinnon
Today's xkcd is succint and, as far as I know, accurate.

It links through to an *actual* flowchart, more detailed but still ending up in the same place. Poking around that site brought me to Realities, which I'm mostly pointing out because it includes my favorite word so far this week, "meteorwrong."

That site also links to an explanation for "Did you see it fall? Then no", which is neat.

Here endeth the cool pop-sci for the morning.

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Tucker McKinnon
19 August 2016 @ 03:36 pm
I did that twenty-one-question list that's going around a few years back, during 2011's Three Weeks for Dreamwidth, so there's that.

I don't much care for weddings in general. I went to several in the first few years of the millennium. Each one made me more and more convinced that this wasn't a ritual I wanted anything to do with. Ours was about as low-key as possible while still involving other people, and I more or less expected that it would be the last one I would have to go to.

However. I like Ederlyn quite a lot, and she did bother to show up for our wedding (as the officiant, no less). I figured if she was going to go to the trouble of sending out invites months in advance, I could clean up a bit and make it down to wherever she was going to be.

Traffic down was ugly. The wedding took place in Long Beach WA, slightly closer to Portland than to Seattle. We hit Seattle rush-hour traffic (an hour to go ten miles, at one point), plus random slowdowns outside of Tacoma and Olympia, and then got stuck behind slow RVs on the two-lane state highway that ran for the last hour and a half of the drive. I fell over in the hotel once we got there and did not go out to be sociable on the beach.

I also didn't go out to be sociable on the beach because it was chilly and I didn't have a coat. I'd meant to have my not-very-formal blazer as part of my semi-fancy wedding clothes, but due to various low-grade stresses on the morning of, we managed to leave said semi-fancy wedding clothes draped over a kitchen chair. At least I got out of the house with my nice boots. And it wasn't a terribly formal affair in any case, and the next day I scraped up a halfway decent shirt and pair of slacks.

The hotel itself seemed to be half genuinely run-down beach hotel, and half catering to vacationing ironic-techies looking for the run-down beach hotel experience. Bare Edison bulbs everywhere, and uncarpeted floors, and murals painted directly on the walls. Also I think the mattress was a foam deal that may have been rather nice when it was new but had developed a clear slope to the sides.

The next day [personal profile] uilos and I wandered around the little beach town. We had decent roadside burritos and way too much ice cream. She bought a kite that's really a string of six diamond kites, and we walked back along the beach while she flew it/them.

And then it was wedding-time, and a few dozen of us sat in folding chairs on a beautiful windy cloudy beach and watched two very happy people share a public commitment. It was nearly nice enough to make me rethink my policy on weddings.

There followed a pleasant dinner, which I spent much of catching up with the WhaleHawk (Dr fuzzyamy, who I've not seen in longer than I can recall, and her partner, who I'd not met) and rather less with [personal profile] plumbob78 and Ashok and a few other people, and oh yeah incidentally the bride and groom on occasion. Talking with Amy wasn't quite the easy friendship that you get with people you know well and haven't seen in years... but it was close, and it was fun, and I hold out some hope that her prediction of "well, this is likely the last time we'll run into each other" won't come true. (To some extent I'm flooding DW/LJ this week in direct response to that conversation. I got to know Amy, and Ed for that matter, during Livejournal's heyday, and recapturing that sense of presence and intimacy would be nice.) (And yes, I'm aware that I'm part of the problem. I'm trying to comment more often on other people's stuff! For whatever reason that comes much less naturally to me.)

There was also dancing, in which I was fully intending to not participate, but what can you do when the first song is Shut Up And Dance?

The next day we got up and came home. We hit traffic outside of Tacoma again for no reason, but we stopped off and got Popeyes fried chicken for lunch (and dinner, and dinner the next day...), which was well worth it.

So, congratulations and best wishes to Ed and Geoff! I'm glad that I got to be a small part of your big day.

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Tucker McKinnon
18 August 2016 @ 05:06 pm
When, twenty minutes before you were going to knock off anyway, you get a work email consisting of "There's a persistent odour of rotten eggs, so we're evacuating the building and calling the fire department, come back in an hour," it is clearly a Sign that I should stand up at my desk. I'm meeting [personal profile] uilos at 5:30 for dinner and movies anyway so this is just more time to amble slowly towards downtown.

I walked to the further transit station from work. Normally I would have continued on foot across the False Creek bridge but it's sunny and somewhere north of 25 ("80") degrees out, which is about the temp at which I start to melt. So I took the air-conditioned Skytrain across, intending to walk to the little park near the restaurant and theatre.

Aside: Emery Barnes Park is, I think, the thing that most exemplifies the Vancouver I fell in love with. It's a smallish (1x2 block) green space in the heart of downtown, surrounded by traffic on three sides. And it's got windy paths through grass, and trees making shade for benches, and playground equipment, and a water-feature / concrete creek running all down one of the long sides. It's designed well enough that there's very little road-noise, particularly if you're near the water, which I usually am. It is Good Urban Design. A year or so ago there was a movement to tear it up and build more generic condos, and if that had passed it might well have been enough to push me away from Vancouver altogether, because a Vancouver that will tear up its urban parks is not a Vancouver that I want anything to do with. (Insert generic rant here re Vision Vancouver, the local party currently in government, and their coziness with developers.)

I'm glad I took the Skytrain instead of walking, because there was a violinist playing "Air on the G String" as I came up from the station. I sat and listened to her for awhile, and dropped some cash in her case when I left, because I will pretty much always tip buskers that aren't using amplification and aren't terrible.

(I've been having this urge lately to reinvent myself as a musician. I think this is what they call a mid-life crisis.)

And now I am sitting across from the park enjoying a butterscotch-and-Butterfinger shake and writing this, because I miss writing (and reading) random-slice-of-life entries. Shortly I shall go out and sit next to the waterfall and read Le Guin until [personal profile] uilos gets here, and then we shall have dinner at Basil Pasta Bar and see a couple of movies at the Cinematheque, because these are also wonderful things about Vancouver.

Like the man sang, I can't complain but sometimes I still do.

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Tucker McKinnon
14 August 2016 @ 11:17 pm
This is an old stupid story and I'm tired of living it:

At the age of twelve I'd been hearing for years that I could be anything I wanted to be, that I was smart enough to do anything at all. So I told my parents that I wanted to be a writer, and write F&SF novels.

My mother famously answered, "How are you going to put food on the table?"

Lesson learned: I could be anything I wanted to be as long as my parents were okay with it.

A stronger kid might have said "screw you guys" and kept writing anyway. I wasn't that kid: I still desperately needed my parents' approval, because being an army brat meant that I didn't have anyone else, at all. I spent the next N years trying to simultaneously fit my future into the box of Acceptable To My Parents, while making my present Acceptable To Me.

In hindsight, it's no wonder that I was depressed.

That's not the story I'm telling now but it's useful background. So, take it as told.

During my terrible terrible junior year of high school, my English teacher was Ms Bettie Stegall. I can only assume she didn't think much of me. I certainly didn't give her much reason to. My teenage rebellion mostly took the form of not showing up and not doing the work, and Ms Stegall's English class was not one where I could slide by. I got my shit sufficiently together to pass, somehow.

For senior year English we had a few choices. The only ones I can remember are AP Literature and Writing Seminar. Had I chosen AP Lit, I could have taken the English AP exam, and placed out of freshman English at Tech. (And likely not ever have read Borges, and my life would have been the poorer for it.) On the other hand, there was Writing Sem, advertised as being meant for creative writers.

The point of the old story above: I never gave up wanting to be a writer. I just gave up on doing much about it, because no one cared.

I signed up for Writing Sem in the hope that it would make me into a writer. Ms Stegall taught Writing Sem; I took it anyway. I don't remember much of the class but then senior year was a depressive burnt-out blur for me. In Writing Sem I tutored a special-needs second-grader with Jen Larson, and read Catch-22 which was exactly the right book for me at that point, and taught Kafka's Metamorphosis to freshmen with the help of Brian Aldiss's parody "Better Morphosis". I'm sure there was writing, too: I recall terrible poetry, and a Finnegans-Wake-style stream-of-consciousness depiction of a high school class.

Throughout the year I'd hear whispers from other students about how they were working with Ms Stegall on ... things. A chapbook of poetry, a collection of monologues, whatever. Books. Actual books. (I only ever saw one, and that only because Nesa used a photograph I'd taken in photography class to go with one of her poems.) And I'd think "that would be kinda cool," and then I'd stop thinking about it, because I had no idea what I'd do other than "i want to write" and, well, I'd already nearly failed out of one of Stegall's classes for not caring.

And so I graduated from high school, and went off to college, and the rest, as they say, is history. Or silence. One of those.

My memories of Ms Stegall are of someone who contribued to making my life miserable junior year, and didn't much care about me during senior year.

Maybe six months ago I fell into a snarky Facebook group of alums from my high school. This weekend, someone reported that Ms. Stegall had died.

Immediate outpouring of grief and love and "she was my favourite teacher" and "she kicked my ass and really helped me get my writing in gear" and specific tangible things she'd done for people.

I had no such response. I got none of that from her.

Thing is, I'd really like to have. I wish I'd been someone that she saw enough potential in to encourage, to kick my ass and get me in gear.

But that would have required me to have gone through junior year differently, and for that to have happened, the changes keep going back until I'm not even recognisable to myself anymore.

And just showing up isn't enough for that. No mentor will come to me and say "yes, i will teach you, and help you, and guide you, and care about what you do." Most of the time I'm grown-up enough to know that.

Most of the time.

I make no promises as to whether I will reply to any comments here.

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Tucker McKinnon
14 August 2016 @ 08:03 pm
Home from wedding (someone else's) in nearly-Oregon. Survived the week of many minor stresses, to wit:
  • House-hunting in Vancouver is stupid. The first realtor I talked to said straight out "I cannot in good conscience sell anyone a condo in an older building, and that's all you can afford. Have you thought about looking much further out?" Thankfully the agent we went with is willing to a) wait for the right place to come up, and b) do a lot of due diligence on older buildings if that's what we're interested in. Meanwhile prices continue to climb despite sales slowing down. I don't understand how that works either.
  • Company got acquired. I'm still employed, I figure 60-80% chance of still being employed this time next month, but still, hectic.
  • A couple of my good friends are having problems. Nothing that can't be worked out, I expect, but no fun in the meantime.
  • Partly as a result of that one of them dropped out of RPG night, necessitating a scramble for a replacement and also some quiet freaking-out over whether I've done something stupid as GM. (Or as a human being, but I freak out about that all the time anyway, that's nothing new.)
  • And to top it all off, on Thursday night Chaos (the arthritic, hyperthyroid, kidney-failing, stud-tailed, no-longer-diabetic stubborn-as-hell cat) started heavily favoring his right hind foot, to the extent of not being willing/able to put any weight on it, even to climb up onto the couch to sit with people. He spent Friday hiding under the bed, partly to get away from the piledriving across the street but probably partly because he was miserable and in pain.

Fall over now, I think. Things what I fully intend to post about this week:
  • Aforementioned wedding, incl. good conversation with Dr HawkWhale (WhaleHawk?)
  • Twenty years on the Van Gogh boat, or, me and Julian Schnabel's Basquiat
  • My senior year English teacher died last week, and I wish that mattered more to me (It doesn't; condolences aren't necessary)
  • Housing in Vancouver is beyond stupid

Meanwhile, onward.

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Tucker McKinnon
10 August 2016 @ 09:27 pm
Is... is this a third Tucker-post in three days? It is!

What are you reading?

Voices, by Ursula K. Le Guin. It's the second in her loosely-linked Annals of the Western Shore YA trilogy. I read these when I got them, probably a decade ago, and I remember them as being quite good and very little else. No, wait, I'd read Gifts once before, for a total of twice, and I recalled the plot pretty well. More evidence for my "books only stick in my head after a reread" theory.

Voices is the story of a young girl who's grown up in a city under occupation, where books are forbidden. Naturally she learns to read and loves it, naturally she falls in with a tale-teller from elsewhere who's come looking for the famous library that used to be in her city. Naturally (for a Le Guin story) it's got themes of nonviolence and gender and taoism and Shadow and more woven throughout, that you might not even notice if you weren't looking for them. And the language is beautiful and slow in a way that I'll mostly only put up with from Le Guin, for reasons I don't entirely understand.

What did you just finish reading?

Gifts, the first of the Annals. Before that, Ysabeau Wilce's three Crackpot Hall books (Flora Segunda, Flora's Dare, Flora's Fury), because I'd finally gotten around to picking up the third. They're also quite good YA, but I shouldn't read them all at once because Flora's very distinctive voice starts to grate on me.

What do you think you'll read next?

Powers, naturally. After that, I don't know. Maybe Basquiat, maybe Vurt, maybe something entirely else.

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Tucker McKinnon
09 August 2016 @ 08:52 pm
Noting for posterity:
So I call it in my mind: the dark year.

To try to tell it is like trying to tell the passage of a sleepless night. Nothing happens. One thinks, and dreams briefly, and wakes again; fears loom and pass, and ideas won't come clear, and meaningless words haunt the mind, and the shudder of nightmare brushes by, and time seems not to move, and it's dark, and nothing happens.

--Ursula K. Le Guin, Gifts
Le Guin's speaking of grief, there, but it's also the best description of depression I've seen since Dar Williams's "After All".

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Tucker McKinnon
08 August 2016 @ 03:32 pm
I've said for a long time that I don't really want to own my own home. I have zero interest in living in a detached house at all: yards are the devil, and a house is just one neverending weekend project. And renting means being able to call someone else when the sink breaks, or the water heater goes out. Conversely, buying a condo means having to convince a majority of everyone else in the building to pay for things like structural repairs & maintenance, versus kicking it down the road. (I believe much of the United States is currently watching this play out in slow motion.)

A couple of years ago, when we were looking to move out of Coal Harbour, we kicked around the idea of buying a condo in a new development that was going up in Chinatown. As part of that we also kicked around the idea of buying a condo somewhere else. Ultimately that went nowhere, in large part because we're cheapskates and Vancouver real estate is a decades-old bubble that shows no sign of popping anytime in the near future. Instead we moved out to New Westminster, closer to the Skytrain stop (and to groceries) but half an hour outside of downtown.

Two-plus years later, Vancouver real estate is if anything a *worse* decades-old bubble etc, the rental market is beyond terrible, and we're sick of living half an hour from nearly everything we want to do. (Notable exceptions to this last: really good poutine, the best barbecue in the Lower Mainland, and a couple of friends who live closer to New West than to Vancouver proper.) We've been looking for a place to rent for almost a year now with no success. Vancouver's rental market is obscenely pet-hostile, which rules out three-quarters of the possible hits right there, and biased towards Tiny Yet Overpriced, which doesn't work well with our library. And I strongly suspect, on admittedly very little hard evidence, that in the last year-plus there's been a proliferation of apartments being rented on AirBnB rather than to full-time tenants, because owners can make more money for less hassle that way.

So ... we're looking into buying a place. We're still cheapskates, but interest rates are low enough that that's only a problem and not a complete block. We're still picky; that hasn't changed, and if anything we'll be more picky if we're going to be someplace permanently. Though not a lot more picky, since neither of have a good grasp on what "living someplace permanently" means. That's, like, four years, right? And the Vancouver housing market is terrible but it's likely to *stay* terrible, so at least we probably won't lose money by buying in at the top of the bubble, unlike certain siblings of mine.

Fun times.

(Feel free to amuse yourself by browsing the MLS listings for Vancouver, in case you thought I was kidding about "decades-old housing bubble that shows no sign of popping.")

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Tucker McKinnon
30 July 2016 @ 11:23 pm
Ross was a friend of mine from Blacksburg (so, from college). We met when he wandered by the boardgame club table at the student club showcase and asked "Is this the Linux User's Group?" After college he worked briefly in North Dakota (or maybe South, I forget), and then moved back to Houston where he was from. We'd talk online occasionally, he came out for the cake and ice cream ceremony, I used to see him at Origins when I went to Origins.

He was anti-Facebook for a long time but last fall he got an account. I hesitated on accepting his friend request. I like Ross in small doses but he's ... a white male programmer from Texas, with most of what that implies.

It turns out that some amount of "what that implies" is being more willing to vote for Donald Trump for President than for Hillary Clinton.

A problem with political rhetoric is that it tends towards the exaggerated. Every election is pivotal; every opposing candidate is unspeakably awful and will bring down the Republic. So when we're faced with someone like Trump, who's so far outside the bounds of "normal" that they can't be seen with a telescope, we have no language to talk about just how bad it is. The attitude seems to be "Sure, people say Trump is bad, but people say Clinton is bad too!" There's not much of a way to get through that, particularly not to that breed of white male programmer.

I am pretty sure Ross is no longer speaking to me. I am pretty much okay with this, I think. This falls into the larger category of "i don't really miss most of my college friends," just ... more immediate.

In happier news, tomorrow I plan to lock myself in an air-conditioned movie theatre all afternoon and evening. (Blood Simple, To Live And Die In LA, and a wuxia that I'm unfamiliar with.)

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Tucker McKinnon
I occasionally talk about Len Scigaj ("ski plus jive minus the V"), who taught me Modern Poetry, twice, and was one of my favourite university professors. Mostly I think of Scigaj in the context of The Waste Land, or of H.D. or William Carlos Williams. Rarely Yeats, who I'd devoured before ever taking the class; more rarely it's Auden, who I never did quite develop a taste for. Though I keep thinking I ought to revisit him, his "In Memory of W.B. Yeats" gets stuck in my head sometimes.

But Scigaj also taught me Wallace Stevens, whose poetry I rarely think about because it feels like something I've always known. Thirteen Ways Of Looking At A Blackbird and Anecdote Of The Jar and The Man With The Blue Guitar. And The Emperor of Ice Cream, "Let be be finale of seem" and all that.

I mention this because, as noted elseweb, whenever anyone asks you "what's the point of getting an english degree, hurr hurr" you can respond with "So that I can laugh my head off at things like this."

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Tucker McKinnon
19 July 2016 @ 09:28 pm
Ghostbusters (2016), Paul Feig (dir.)

I'll be honest: I had mixed hopes for the new Ghostbusters movie. I liked the last two McCarthy/Feig collaborations, The Heat and Spy, but the Ghostbusters trailer looked ... questionable at best. Then again, I do enjoy getting out with friends, and Steph was super excited about it. So, what the hell.

Verdict: it's good.

Comparisons to the original first: it's more action-y and less witty, especially in the last third. It's also WAY less wincingly sexist (seriously, Venkman is just AWFUL for so much of that movie). And it's got great cameos by many of the original cast, which, yay.

What's good? Holtzmann, of course. Kate MacKinnon's off-balance-FOR-SCIENCE-AND-GADGETS schtick is maybe even better than Egon's was. Leslie Jones's Patty is good too, believable and respectable and a full character in a way that maybe Winston Zeddimore never got to be. (Sidenote: Ernie Hudson's story of the rise and fall of his part is heartbreaking and I would pay good money to see the Winston movie.) Chris Hemsworth as Kevin the himbo secretary is PERFECT. "Which of these makes me look more like a doctor... the one where I'm playing the saxophone, or the one where I'm LISTENING to the saxophone?"

What's not so good? Oddly, the leads. Melissa McCarthy is basically playing Melissa McCarthy, and when it works it's good and when it doesn't it's just kinda there. Kristen Wiig's nervous-academic, half Ray half Venkman, works but doesn't quite gel with the rest of the team dynamic. They're all funny and competent, don't get me wrong, they just ... felt not quite together.

CGI is CGI is CGI, it's very pretty and didn't do much for me. The extended ghost-fight in the third act dragged on a bit. Honestly the entire second act dragged. In the first movie this is when they're being the Ghostbusters and being super-busy capping ghosts and arguing with William Atherton's EPA agent, and here it's ... they take a couple of jobs and figure out what's going on and get low-key arrested by Agent Omar.

But it's funny. Not enough consistently low-key chuckle-funny for my taste, but a decent amount of laugh-out-loud funny throughout. And the most cringeworthy moments are in the trailer, so if like me you're considering passing on it because of the trailer, don't. It's a good time.

And safety lights are for *dudes*.

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Tucker McKinnon
06 July 2016 @ 03:17 pm
And the days went by
Like paper in the wind
Everything changed
Then changed again
What are you reading?

I'm about a third through Zelazny's Today We Choose Faces, a slim early-seventies novel. It's ... very seventies SF. I doubt I'll keep it around but it's interesting enough for one read.

What did you just finish reading?

Daniel Pinkwater's Neddiad and Yggyssey. These are Pinkwater at his very Pinkwater-est: strange and amusing and mostly benevolent things happen to kids in roughly the sixth grade, and while there's a plot it's less important than the atmosphere. I'm tending towards [personal profile] rushthatspeaks's opinion that Pinkwater is in fact a capital-S Surrealist, and his chosen medium happens to be middle-grade lit.

In between I reread Hannu Rajaniemi's Jean Le Flambeur books, because I needed something I could actually sink my teeth into. They do fit together better on reread: in the first in particular I could see the patterns forming because I knew the shape of things. They're still quite good, probably the best things I've read in a year. The Causal Angel (the third) feels weak but that may be just the devil of high expectations.

What do you think you'll read next?

Probably not Bridge of Ashes, another slim seventies Zelazny novel. Possibly some nonfic; the biography of Jean-Michel Basquiat's been calling to me.

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Tucker McKinnon
03 July 2016 @ 10:54 am
I am not sure whether the problem with having crepes and apples and good cheese for breakfast is that I promised I would save some crepes for [personal profile] uilos and thus can't eat them all, or that I'm stuffed but they were really good and I *want* to eat them all.

(Better would have been with berries and whipped cream, but I wasn't thinking sufficiently clearly yesternight when I hit the grocery store.)

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Tucker McKinnon
02 July 2016 @ 11:56 pm
For the first time in longer than I care to remember I have the house to myself for days at a time. [personal profile] uilos has gone to Portland to pet sloths; I could have gone, but at the time of planning I had thought I might be in Portland last weekend (or maybe the weekend before) for train gaming. That didn't happen but I'm still glad I stayed home. It's good to be on my own for awhile.

I don't really understand the "need to be on my own." It's not like [personal profile] uilos is particularly demanding when she's here. But ... I just feel freer, more able to be myself and do what I want or need to, when there's no one else around.

And I've mostly been using it for zonking out and being brain-dead, which is a thing. Hadean Lands, Zarf's sublime text-adventure from late 2014, is out on Steam, and I've been replaying that and enjoying the heck out of it. And shooting things in Assault Android Cactus, and seeing the Canada Day fireworks from my balcony with a few people. And going over to hang out with... hm.

A couple of years ago I went out once with a fascinating woman named Erin, and then she was busy and I was busy and we never got back in touch. I unexpectedly ran into her again months later, when we saw The Last Unicorn with special guest appearance by a very tired-looking Peter Beagle, and we made vague plans to get together again. Those turned into actual plans and we had a very pleasant evening wandering around New Westminster near Xmastime 2013.

For those of you keeping score at home that was a time when I was burning out something fierce, for a wide variety of reasons that don't bear re-exploring at this juncture. And so I never got back in touch with her after that. By the time I could start thinking about possibly doing so it was not quite a year later, and I figured I'd just lost out.

A couple of months ago my friend James started dating someone who he was absolutely head-over-heels for, and, yep, same Erin. And she was in town this weekend (she's way off north for a summer internship-like thing), so I got to re-meet her. That was surprisingly pleasant. I'm looking forward to seeing a bit more of her this fall when she's back in town more often.

It's been good to relax a bit.

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Tucker McKinnon
25 June 2016 @ 09:25 am
I miss The Toast already.

(Me? I'm better than last week, but still not good.)

When You Smile: On Humor and the Heart: "If I can make you laugh, maybe you won't laugh at me."

What makes a city great? New data backs up long-held beliefs: "In a new (yet to be peer-reviewed) study on arXiv.org, researchers report that the completely plausible tenets of good city living laid out in the famous 1961 tome of urban planning, The Death and Life of the Great American City [ed: Of Great American Cities] by Jane Jacobs, do have some credibility in today's data-hungry world." EAT IT, ROBERT FUCKING MOSES.

Speaking of whom, The Dutch Prime Minister Is a Big Fan of Robert Caro: "We were bound for Randalls Island, where Moses based the Triborough Bridge Authority and built an office for himself... because people had to work hard to reach him, and because they had to pay a toll to his agency."

The Devil Signed Onto Twitter.

The Pitch Meeting for Animaniacs: "Animaniacs isn't 'for' kids, you see. It is the anarchic soul of the child. Sensory overload, constant change, sibling rivalry, new adventure. Life happens in a disjointed series of images, until they're locked away at night by an authority whose motives remain opaque."

This is why I'm learning to play viola.

Blockchain Company's Smart Contracts Were Dumb: "Any vulnerabilities in the DAO's code were not flaws in the code; they were flaws in the descriptions -- which were purely for entertainment purposes. The DAO's websites failed to explain to investors that the code allowed a hacker to take $60 million by using a 'recursive splitting function.' But the recursive splitting function itself is part of the DAO's code, and therefore part of the DAO." Fascinating stuff.

Soil Conservation: A Southern History: "Above is Providence Canyon, Georgia. This is one of Georgia's Seven Natural Wonders. It is also completely created by erosion from cotton growing."

A guy just transcribed 30 years of for-rent ads. Here’s what it taught us about housing prices: "6.6 percent. That’s the amount the rent has gone up every year, on average, since 1956. ... 6.6 percent is 2.5 percentage points faster than inflation, which doesn’t seem like a lot but when you do it for 60 years in a row it means housing prices quadruple compared to everything else you have to buy."

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Tucker McKinnon
18 June 2016 @ 06:19 pm
A grey day will not make me depressed, but a grey day can and will feed existing depressive tendencies.

I don't recognise my books. Rather, I recognise them, I know what they are and in most cases where and when I got them. When I last read them, or when I intend to finally get around to reading them. But they don't speak to me.

Mandy came out of the all-night Vurt-U-Want clutching a bag of goodies. I've not read Vurt or its sequel Pollen in, oh, probably not this millennium. I've yet to get to My Real Children or Jim Morrow's short stories, or finish Le Guin's Changing Planes which I've had for something like a decade.

I don't recognise the guy who bought them, who's hauling them around from apartment to apartment.

It's a wolf this time, I swear.

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Current mood: mixed
Current music: like greens, or nuts
Tucker McKinnon
14 June 2016 @ 06:12 pm
Ugh, time is getting away from me again.

Last Sunday I went to my viola teacher's end-of-year recital for her young students. There were maybe eight or ten kids performing, from ages three to eleven. I've not been to a Suzuki-type recital since before I graduated from high school. It was rather pleasant to hear a bunch of pieces I'm fairly well familiar with (and one or two new ones), in a relaxed setting. Felt like home. At the end Tegen and one student played the Bach Double. That's one of the two pieces (along with the Vivaldi A Minor) that I was always genuinely envious that the violinists of my acquaintance got to play, and which I've not heard in years.

(I did not play, mostly due to being a bit outside the target age range. I suppose I could have polished the Bouree from Bach's third cello suite, but, eh.)

The day before that, [personal profile] uilos came back from taking Kai to the vet (annual old-cat checkup, no problems) and announced "I have a tickle in the back of my throat!" Dammit.

I managed to dodge any symptoms until Friday, when I woke up with a sore throat that I attributed to the weather having decided to get cool again. I then did a bunch of socialising over the weekend and got very spacey whenever I wasn't directly doing anything, and stayed home from work yesterday. I was kind of on the fence about going in today, woke up at my usual time, decided not to, and proceeded to fall back asleep for three hours. Which pretty much never happens.

At this point I'm a little spacey and short of breath, and coughing a bit, but I ought to be okay to go back in to work. The interesting thing is that while I tend to get sick on the tail end of [personal profile] uilos being sick, it's not always the same thing, or at least doesn't manifest the same way. Hers is bacterial, multicoloured snot and all that, where mine seems to be viral and settling in the vicinity of my chest.


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Tucker McKinnon
06 June 2016 @ 11:20 am
About this time last year I threw money at the publishers of Atomic Robo in exchange for a complete eight-volume hardback run of the comic. I did this in the hope that it would arrive in time to be [personal profile] uilos's Xmas present. As you can probably guess from the fact that I'm writing this now, they missed their projected delivery date of November by, oh, seven months and counting.

I don't know what most of the circumstances were, but printing a gazillion colour hardbacks is not trivial at the best of times. I expect they just massively underestimated the scale and the effort involved. And also created their time budget "assuming everything goes smoothly" and then were surprised when everything didn't.

Today's Kickstarter update included the following gem:
On the yet brighter side: your damn books finally got out of damn customs! Apparently when everything is labeled "ATOMIC" it throws up some red flags and you get extra scrutiny. WOW THAT WASN'T A TREMENDOUSLY FRUSTRATING WASTE OF TIME OR ANYTHING HAHA LAUGH WITH ME HAHA.
I'm reminded of the time a couple of years ago when I bought a wargame from a guy online. I paid him via PayPal, and in the Comments section I made a note of the name of the game I was paying him for. Turns out that if you send payment through PayPal and put "Cuba Libre!" in the Comments, your payment gets flagged for Further Review and held for several days.

Moral: automated systems have no sense of either proportion or humour.

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Tucker McKinnon
01 June 2016 @ 02:40 pm
This time half a decade ago ... well, at this exact time we were still on a train headed for Everett WA, because flooding in North Dakota delayed us by seven hours. (Bit difficult to run a train when the water's higher than the tracks.) But tonight's the anniversary of us showing up at the Pacific Central train station in Vancouver with a fistful of paperwork, and coming out the other side with temporary Canadian work permits.

Hard to believe we've been out here for five years now. I still miss the people from back east something fierce, and at the beach I remembered how much I miss dapper grey mockingbirds (and cardinals, though *not* cheeseburger wrens), and of course my old boss R-- is still the best of all possible bosses. But for the most part I feel pretty well at home here. Overall, moving was the right decision, I think.

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Tucker McKinnon
16 May 2016 @ 01:10 am
My love affair with Fallen London lasted almost exactly two weeks, in the following stages:
  • Oh, it's free on iOS, may as well check it out.
  • The writing is kinda fun.
  • I'll throw a little money their way, support people doing cool things etc.
  • The app is frustratingly slow for something that's just displaying text and still images.
  • Yay, an app update fixed much of the slow!
  • ... which serves to reveal the grind-y underbelly of the game itself.
  • Bored now.
Verdict: the writing is fun but the gameplay is annoyingly focused around doing the same thing repeatedly. Reading the same fun snippet for the nth time sucks much of the fun out of not only that snippet but the ones around it.

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