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August 29, 2007

Caption This

So I found this old Japanese commercial and I was wondering what they were saying. I decided it would be more fun if you told me. Feel free to caption this video in the comments below.

August 18, 2007

GenCon Observations

I just spent a few days taking in the finest of geek culture at the foremost gaming convention in the world, GenCon, which celebrated its 40th anniversary this year. It was interesting to me to note some of the trends in gaming culture, some of which surprised me.

twenty.giftwenty.giftwenty.gifCritical Hits

  • Pirates were omnipresent. I'm not sure how many piratical games I saw but I counted at least 3 different Jack Sparrows wandering the halls.
  • Lasses in Corsets were a hot comodity this GenCon. But then again, when aren't they?
  • Goggles seemed to be the must have accessory for the manga wannabe crowd.
  • Germany still rocks the gaming world as far as the best original board games. Tribune was the best of these I demoed this year.


  • Firefly paraphenalia was everywhere. Clearly you can't stop the signal.
  • Stormtroopers and Jedi Knights walked the corridors as well as at least one Darth Maul, an Imperial Fighter Pilot, and an Arc Trooper. Star Wars, in spite of everything, still captures people's imagination.
  • Blizzard just gets more and more popular it seems. Warcraft and Starcraft games and related material were all the rage.
  • Tolkien is still the one writer to rule them all.

twenty.gifCritical Miss

  • Star Trek was conspicuous in its absence. The franchise seems to have waned in the imagination of gamers. I saw a couple people dressed up as klingons, but very little else. There were a smattering of games and nothing new. I saw no t-shirts with Trek references.

Dirt Bike

Fuzzy did this video of Dirt Bike by They Might Be Giants in his continuing attempts to Impress These Apes. I'm amazed that he got handed this song randomly as I know we both love TMBG. In fact, I believe it was Fuzzy who turned me on to this band back many years ago.

August 16, 2007

Happy Birthday! Here's a washcloth.

191.jpgToday is Simon's birthday and, even though we are staying over at a friend's house, I was sure to wake him up with a wet washcloth to the face. This is how I was traditionally woken on my birthday as was my father before me. I don't really know how far this tradition goes back.

The impetus of the tradition is simple enough. It's to make sure you have a clean face at least once a year. In this way it's somewhat akin to changing the batteries in your smoke alarms when you change your clocks for daylight savings time.

As straight-forward as this family tradition seems (to me, at least) I've been surprised to find that this seems to be unique to our family. So I'm just curious if anyone else out there practices this tradition or, if not, what are your peculiar family traditions surrounding birthdays?

August 14, 2007

Yeah, Love's a lot like that

mooneye.jpgSo on the 10 hour trip between Two Harbors and Joliet today we had the requisite "what's with that?" discussions in the car. Emma started randomly singing "That's Amore"...

When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's amore.
and I stopped her and said, "Say what?"

First of all, neither of us have ever been hit in the eye by either a naturally occuring satellite or a doughy comestible with cheese and tomato sauce.

Second of all, when we extrapolate what we know of pizza and the moon we doubt that the experience of being hit in the eye by said objects would be at all comparable. The first would be mildly inconvenient while the second would be undoubtedly fatal.

Third of all, whether pizza or moon, we can't figure out how being hit in the eye by either of them would be even roughly analogous to the state of being in love.

This whole conversation caused my daughter to sing:

When something from space hits you in the face, that's like love.
Any words of clarification would be most welcomed.

August 8, 2007

Fuzzy Gerdes is Totally Awesome

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you my friend Fuzzy with a song about Fuzzy written by Fuzzy and performed by Fuzzy.

It don't get much more Fuzzy than this.

Why is he doing this? He's trying to impress these apes.

Virtual Playground

comeoutandplay.jpgSimon is away at camp this week and over the last two days I've received two calls asking if he can come on-line to play World of Warcraft. And I realized, no one ever knocks on our door and asks if Simon can come outside to play.

It's not that he never goes out to play, but it's always scheduled or people call. No one just shows up at the door and asks, "Can Simon come out and play?"

Is this the new norm?

All Hail the Lord of Catan!


After about 4 years of competitive play on-line I finally won the honor of being the top ranked player in Settlers of Catan on-line. This community of about 1000 players, at any given time, is very competitive and tough to crack and they have honed my skills at Catan greatly.

For those not familiar with this board game, in Settlers of Catan you start with two settlements, collect clay, ore, wheat, sheep, and lumber, and build roads, more settlements, and cities to achieve supremacy on the island of Catan.

A board game with experienced players can take an hour to an hour and a half to play. On-line a game takes about 10 to 20 minutes because the computer does all the dealing and figuring for you.

It is also a very social game, with the chat box, and I get to communicate with players from all over the world, particularly the US, Canada, Great Britain, Germany, and the Netherlands. Those seem to be the big Catan playing countries.



August 4, 2007

The Art of Running to First

littleleaguebaseballbat15_clip_image008.jpgMy son, Simon, just finished a summer of Pee Wee League baseball this week. He improved a lot over the summer and learned the important skill of how to run to first base.

First, you have to unencumber yourself. The first time he ran to first in a game he took the bat most of the way with him before he remembered to discard it. While the bat was essential to set in motion the events that allowed him to run to first, the bat is no longer useful and, in fact, is a detriment for the actual act of running to first.

Second, you have to detach yourself. Once the ball is hit, it's gone. You no longer have any control over it. It's tempting to watch the ball, its trajectory, its journey, whether it's caught or not, but what if it is? You can't do anything about that. you have to detach yourself from it.

Third, focus yourself on the goal. Unencumbered and detached, you now only have one objective. Run to first. That is your only goal. The ball may get there before you, it may not. That doesn't matter. This is no time for distractions or half-hearted effort. Run!

Once you get to first safely then is the time for further evaluation. Are you out? Are you safe? Do you need to run further? Many permutations and possibilities can be considered, but only after you've made it to first.

I've learned a lot from my son this summer.

August 2, 2007

Objects in the Air

"I saw objects in the air that didn't belong there." - Melissa Hughes, MPR article

980051601_b9acf1bfc0.jpgOddly yesterday morning, some 9 hours before the Minneapolis bridge collapsed, I was reading about the history of London Bridge. A bridge of some sort has spanned that portion of the Thames since 60 AD when the Romans first put up a wood structure there. And we all know the song.

Objects in the air.

What strikes me is how much we operate on faith. Faith in bridges, that these objects that span water in air grounded to earth will carry us safely time after time and we don't even think about it. Why should we?

Objects in the air.

And what I love is the audacity of the human race that we impose our will on our geography. Rivers, mountains, deserts, air, space... all are daunting, but not barriers. We launch our minds to span the breech, whatever it may be.

Objects in the air that don't belong there.

[photo by ebrandt78]