Useless Blogging

January 10, 2010

Phew: DB Moved

Filed under: Uncategorized — steegness @ 3:55 am

I migrated the whole backend DB of the site to a MySQL 5 server, and I don’t THINK anything went too nuts. Let me know if you see oddities.

November 21, 2009

Happy birthday, Emma!

Filed under: Family — steegness @ 10:12 pm

For those keeping score, my eldest daughter has been allowed to live to the ripe old age of ten, as of today. A spa day, a Snuggie, and a cell phone were hallmarks of the day. (Yes, she has her own phone now, lojacked up, of course.)

So to my daughter, upon reaching the turning point of our base 10 numerical system, I wish you a happy birthday, and another awesome year.
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November 15, 2009

New Year’s News

Filed under: Uncategorized — steegness @ 1:08 am

This hasn’t been widely promulgated by this point, but ought to be.

For the first time in a long-ass time (a decade, or nearly so), my home won’t be host to new year’s festivities. Owing to a crazy rehearsal schedule AND the fact that they have a place large enough to support a gathering of size now, we’re hauling to Pittsburgh this year.

Please edit your itineraries accordingly.

November 5, 2009

Love by referendum

Filed under: Uncategorized — steegness @ 1:08 am

States are now 0-for-31 on allowing gay marriage by referendum. I wonder how many civil rights referenda were defeated in the 50s and 60s before folks realized that rights aren’t something that can be voted on.

August 24, 2009

Indie Game Review

Filed under: Games,Reviews — steegness @ 12:10 am

Thanks to the magic that is Steam, a couple of weeks ago I downloaded ten “indie” games for a song. I’ve since played at least a little of all ten, and feel the need to share my thoughts.

  • Audio Surf: A very fun game not unlike Guitar Hero meets Tetris in that music plays and you collect gems (Guitar Hero) and collecting them into groups makes them disappear (Tetris). The magic is that it takes YOUR music and does this; using MP3 files on your computer, it generates a path for the game to take, and it’s smart enough to know what’s fast, what’s slow, when the cool parts of songs are, etc. Well executed and fun to watch. I don’t mind getting a couple of songs in before bed with this one.
  • Blueberry Garden: The first of a couple “exploration” games on the list. For the record, I’ve come to determine that I hate games like this. Games that encourage exploration are fun. Games where that’s all you have to go on are not. Games are meant to have goals (which Blueberry Garden DOES have, I’m told), and more importantly, feedback to assist in achieving those goals. Wandering trying to figure out what to do next loses its appeal quickly. The game looks nice, at least.
  • Braid: Possibly worth the price of the whole set. This is a 2D platformer that’s familiar enough to be accessible but rewrites SO many of the notions central to the genre that it’s totally mindbending. Messing with time is a blast, and there are no wasted levels. If you can follow the narrative, it’s a total mindscrew as well, with a brilliant ending. Visually stunning, haunting score (which is made more haunting with its reversal when time is messed with), and great gameplay make this top of the indie heap.
  • Crayon Physics Deluxe: The first of two physics-based games on the list. Very well done graphically, and its puzzles offer numerous solutions. So many ways to complete the tasks leave it open for a lot of creativity, but it also means that you can likely blow through the levels (there are over 70) in a shorter order than you’d think. It DOES have replay value, but if you’re the type of person who likes getting to the end and stopping there, it stands to be a little short, as there’s not a WHOLE lot of incentive to go back and do things new ways.
  • Darwinia: Somewhere in the real-time strategy realm lives Darwinia, but I don’t know its exact address. I’ll say that it seems fun save for the control scheme (both units and camera) being too dodgy for my liking.
  • Everyday Shooter: An Asteroids-style game with a few minor tweaks, the most major of which is the soundtrack. Fun enough for a while.
  • Gish: A 2D platformer, except you’re a ball of tar. That’s a bit of an undersell, because the game’s really fun. It turns out that making your hero a ball of tar leads to some new game mechanics that can add a smidge of real world physics into an otherwise fantasy world.
  • Mr. Robot: An isometric 3D … strategy? RPG? … game that casts you as a robot taking care of things while the humans are in cryosleep. Thus far I’ve had good times playing it, but a less than stellar control scheme is getting in my way too much; the game at times requires fast and precise actions, and I’ve yet to feel like I can pull that off consistently. Don’t let that stop you from trying it out.
  • The Path: Really, this whole post is an excuse for me to write about The Path. This game is atrocious. Remember all that stuff I said about Blueberry Garden, and how exploration games weren’t my thing? For starters, The Path is an exploration game. There’s no map, no real dialogue, no point in anything you’re doing (at least, no point that’s revealed to you while you’re still interested in what you just did). Just looking around, doing unrelated things, until one of two things happens: you decide to turn the game off, or you decide to finally go to the house that you were told to go to at the start of the game. (If you go to this house, without veering from the path, as the onscreen instructions indicate you ought to do, you get to the end and fail. FAIL.) The website is full of people going “you just don’t get it”; I get it, all to well. I don’t think the designers do. This isn’t a game; it does not occupy the same mental space as anything rightfully called a “game”. It’s more akin to what it pretends to be portraying: a walk in the woods, only in the real woods there’s more to explore and the narrative has more clarity.
  • World of Goo: The other physics-based game, this one is based around construction using goo balls that can form lattice-type work to create wobbly masterpieces. The story is actually a good one, if you’re up to following it, and the puzzles range from easy to “Wow, people think this stuff up and still expect to get into Heaven?” Visually, it’s pretty awesome, second only to Braid on this list, I think. Fun factor is very high.

August 4, 2009

Shaping Albums, or Meme Avoidance and Giving In

Filed under: My World,Thoughts — steegness @ 1:22 am

There’s a meme floating currently on Facebook, and as I refuse to install an application just to participate in the fun, I’ll be playing along here.

Said meme is “five albums that shaped me”. I’ve been mulling this one for a couple of days, and I think I’ve got enough to work with.

  • Pearl Jam: Ten – Probably one of the first albums that meant something to me more than fun noise. One of the very first CDs that I owned; it was a gift that came with my first CD player, and it came with the big ol’ CD longboxes before they did away with those way back when.
  • George Carlin: Class Clown – This one is the top of the Carlin heap. I played the hell out of this LP, but An Evening With Wally Londo, The Little David Years, and FM/AM (and on the side, Occupation: Foole) are right up there as well. The fact that I could recite these albums by the end of sixth grade probably explains a lot about me.
  • Bill Cosby: Why Is There Air? – Again, this one is a placeholder for a collection, this time including Bill Cosby Is A Very Funny Fellow… RIGHT, To Russell, My Brother, Whom I Slept With, Wonderfulness, and I Started Out As A Child. Other kids listened to their tapes of Tone Loc and Tiffany. I spun Cosby and Carlin 33s for hours on end.
  • Temple of the Dog: Temple Of The Dog – My first CD purchase. This CD taught me that music was more than sound: music could be a release, a coping mechanism, a different place and time.
  • Faith No More: Angel Dust – I don’t know if this one shaped me, or if it’s on this list more for the period of time that it represents. I borrowed this tape from my friend Chip for way too long, and the whole CD evokes images of playing ActRaiser in his room.

There you go. Meme accomplished.

July 13, 2009

I’ve got nothing on this one, folks

Filed under: Family,My World — steegness @ 12:07 am

I think I lived a fairly normal childhood. While I had a propensity for remaining indoors to play, I also did bowling and baseball for as long as I can remember. I had very few neighborhood friends, owing primarily to the makeup of the neighborhood by the time my parents finally got around to having me, I think, but that didn’t seem to inhibit my social growth (at least, not in my eyes then, nor upon reflection tonight).

I think that’s what makes Emma’s struggles so baffling to me. I’ve been as keen as I can be to offer her every opportunity I had and then some, and still something seems off. Some of it, I know, is her. I won’t deny THAT bit. There always seems, though, like there’s something amiss with the rest of the world as well. Emma, given to drama as she can be, often thinks the world is out to get her, and the more time wears on, the more I think it’s not just all in her head.

I can’t remember — ever — fighting with my friends (at least, not the people I called “friends”; there are some folks that were more than passing acquaintances that made it onto my pre-teen list). I certainly don’t remember having repeated disagreements that led to repeated dissolutions of the same friendship, over and over again. Is this a function of female-to-female friendships? Just Emma? Did everyone else go through this growing up? Am I just quirky (or AWESOME?) enough that I sat in the middle of my web, immune to this common issue? Seriously, I want to know. As it stands, I watch my daughter struggle to keep even one friend, and I worry, because I completely lack a base from which to operate here, and I don’t know if it’s because I had a charmed life or if it’s because Emma’s is particularly uncharmed.

May 21, 2009

Yes, this is late, but it’s here.

Filed under: Uncategorized — steegness @ 12:44 am

This is backdated so I can search on the date. It’s kind of cheating, but it’s meaningful cheating.

Last year, Sara attended a soiree for a kid in her pre-K class at a fire station. It was quite the affair, given the age of the child. His mom told me that her family is of the opinion that anytime you turn “a full hand”, a larger-than-usual party ought to be held. (Base 10 carries the day.) I remember thinking that was an intriguing idea, if not one I’d subscribe to enthusiastically.

Recently, Sara went ahead and turned six years old. I’m still trying to determine what it is about this year, or this birthday, or her, or me, but there’s SOMETHING about this that makes it feel like this birthday is bigger than the past five before it. (Sara operates in Base 12? Maybe.) I don’t really have too much more to add to that equation currently; “something in the air” is all I can muster.

Regardless of the air, birthday wishes are in order. Sara, I wish you to continue to be as happy as you have been, and as happy as you have made me and everyone around you (if it’s physically possible for that much happiness to coalesce in one person). I wish you health, prosperity, but mostly (and I can help with this one) I wish you love.

Happy birthday, Sara. I love you.

(PS: Happy half-birthday, Emma!)

May 15, 2009

Your non-important news of the day

Filed under: Uncategorized — steegness @ 9:25 pm

Google Voice’s voicemail transcription is the bomb-diggety. That is all.

April 24, 2009

A Rough Go

Filed under: Family,My World,Rants — steegness @ 8:59 am

There are myriad ways I’m a lousy father. I do my best, but I know I fall short. Providence has landed me in the arms of a great woman who is both able and willing to pick up my copious slack in that department.

One way I know I miss the mark is believing my older daughter. She never made it particularly easy with her penchant to exaggerate, just as I know that my fondness for teachers and a general belief in their absolute desire to do what’s best for the children in their care exceeds realistic levels. I kept telling Emma — and myself — that it couldn’t ever be as bad as she describes it. I don’t know what clicked, in her and in me, but something did, and I’m grateful.

To that end, today is my daughters’ last day at Middle River Baptist Child Development Center. I’ve watched this daycare:

  • Let my five year old autistic daughter run a quarter mile home
  • Lose my daughters’ things and try to blame them, changing their story no less than three times in the process
  • Have its teachers set my older daughter up for ridicule and embarassment
  • Send writeups home bearing witness to the bad behavior of my older daughter, only to learn that none of the people who signed as a witness actually saw my daughter do any of the things they described
  • Break their OWN policy in informing the parents that ringworm was discovered in one of their kids, and not see an ounce of apology in the letter that finally did come home

There’s certainly more, ranging from ‘things that got on my nerves’ to ‘why are you a teacher again?’, but I feel that’s a decent bullet point list.

I’m sorry that I didn’t believe my daughter more the first time through, and I’m sorry that my inaction caused her grief. (And if you’re reading, MRBCDC, that is an apology. Not apologizing for how people feel, but rather apologizing for the actions that were in the wrong.) I’ll be working to make it better.

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