5.11B bitches

Not that it really matters to any of you but I successfully climbed a 5.11B route at the gym today. I may have fallen a few times along the way but I am still mighty impressed with myself. Booyah!

Welcome to the Infinity Maze

Dear Intarwebs,

I feel that it behooves me to bring the existence of the Infinity Maze to your attention. Infinity Maze is the webcomic of my brother, Dave. As might not be surprising for the work of one of my kin, the comic is rather bizarre. The art is somewhat crude but the writing is usually pretty top notch, in my opinion. I may be biased by the humor matching my sense thereof but, that said, I do highly recommend the comic to you, my good Intarwebs.

--gwax

Going oldschool on my face

Recently, a particular xkcd comic got me thinking about shaving equipment. I, shortly thereafter, purchased a Burma Shave soap/mug/brush set from amazon at a very reasonable price. Very quickly, I came to realize that the soap and brush approach is vastly superior to the shaving cream or gel approach. The soap and brush lather gives me a closer shave with less razor burn; so much so, in fact, that I am now able to go over my face twice every morning without razor burn.

My Burma-Shave soap puck was running out last week, so I turned to the wonderful ClassicShaving.com, purveyors of old fashioned shaving supplies, to get more soap. Choosing to go with Jasmine and Lavender, I ordered two pucks of soap and then moved on to looking at the available razors. Though I think it would be awesome to use a straight razor, the cost of straight razors and the necessary implements to keep them sharp are simply too much for me to justify right now, so I focused on the double edge safety razors. Choosing a rather nice double edged razor and a pack of high quality blades, I completed my order.

Shaving for the first time, this morning, with my new soap and new razor, I find two things: 1) a brush and soap puck is absolutely the correct way to lather for shaving, and 2) I need a lot more patience and practice with using a traditional razor. It's pretty awesome to shave with a double edged razor and where I did it right, I got a great shave but there are a lot of places on my face today that got nicked or poorly shaved this morning.

Another detail worth noting is that really good blades for a double-edged razor cost about 60¢ a piece and are good for about 7 days, which is much better than the ~$5 a piece for modern multi-blade razor cartridges.

Comfort: No longer a scarcity

Living in San Francisco really is spoiling me on weather, so much so that I've actually had a paradigm shift.

Having primarily grown up and lived in Massachusetts, with a short stint in Minnesota, I've been trained to treat comfortable weather as a scarce commodity. In Massachusetts, one gets some nice time in the spring and fall; the summers provide hot and muggy discomfort, which must be fought with water or A/C; and, the winters provide cold, sleet, ice and more cold. Minnesota offers similar weather to Massachusetts in the spring, summer and fall but, for winters, merely provides pain, lots of pain. The scarcity of warmth and comfort in the winter often leads me to wear as little winter gear as possible to get by, saving as much as possible for later. By saving the heaviest of my winter gear for when the winter is the worst, I am able to maintain a relatively constant level of discomfort throughout the season. Thus, by accepting discomfort as inevitable, I am able to ramp up my tolerance to the cold.

Here in San Francisco, however, the weather doesn't really get that bad so there is no reason to tolerate discomfort; abiding discomfort doesn't prepare me for anything. The realization came to me while mopedding to work, when I had the thought, "Man, my face is chilly; I should wear my balaclava next time." This was followed by a train of thought along the lines of, "but then when it gets colder, I'll just be more uncomfortable.", "Wait, this is probably as cold and unpleasant as it's going to get.", "Clearly, I should man up and suffer because it leaves me better prepared.", "Wait, so what?!" All of my reasons to be uncomfortable are founded on the premise that comfort is scarce and one can be best prepared by accepting discomfort; when comfort is not scarce, that is wrong.

Sure it makes me weak and you're all more hardcore for having to put up with the cold but, you know what, I don't care because I'm going to be nice and comfortable wearing my winter coat when it's in the low forties instead of holding out until it drops below twenty.

Find the Rein-dog

Baldr the Rein-dog This past Saturday was SantaCon here in San Francisco and, for the second time, I attended. This year, I dressed Baldr up as a rein-dog and brought him along for the romp. We had a fantastic time and Baldr was unquestionably the star of the day, with dozens upon dozens of people taking photos with or of him.

Baldr's popularity on Saturday brings me to a challenge: I challenge you to find as many photos of Baldr as you can; leave links in the comments. I have attached a particularly cute one that I found to get you started, but I have seen others out there.

Everything tastes better deep fried

With two appliances primarily to blame, there's been a lot of great culinary exploration and experimentation going on in my apartment of late. Firstly, I recently purchased a hand cranked meat grinder and; secondly, Jacob, friend of the apartment, having roommates who would not allow a deep fryer, bought a deep fryer for our apartment. The primary result of the meat grinder has been lots of meat loaf, which is tasty, healthy and endlessly reheatable. The results of the deep fryer have, so far, been: buffalo wings, onion rings and deep fried meat loaf, which are all amazingly delicious and terribly bad for us.

We're only at the beginning, though, future plans include: duck burgers, Fosters beer battered kangaroo nuggets, rattlesnake burgers, loaves of every meat you can imagine and deep fried pretty much everything.

Oh please, Mr. Obama, kill DST

I've been irked at President-elect Obama since he voted in favor of FISA but now I hear that he might kill daylight savings time. Now, you may recall that I passionately loath daylight savings time and abolishing it would shift Mr. Obama closer to my good side. Mind you, not screwing with my time twice a year does not quite make up for giving away my rights but it is a small step in the right direction.

PAX 2008

I spent this past weekend in Seattle at Penny Arcade Expo 2008, which is a great big convention for gamers of all sorts and those of similar persuasions. I met up with Riad, Gautham and Ariel in Seattle and we had an awesome time. Between the exhibit hall, the panels, the talks, the tournaments, the freeplay areas and all of the other people, PAX was three solid days of fun. I highly recommend PAX, in the future, to anyone with any interest in video games, board games, the Internet or good times in general.

For me, the major highlights of PAX were:

  • Monsterpocalypse - Privateer Press was selling preview releases of their new game, Monsterpocalypse. Monsterpocalypse is a collectible miniatures game focused around destroying opposing monsters and cities. It is a very well constructed game and a heck of a lot of fun to play; I purchased enough for two people to play and I intend to get more when the game is actually released in October. I played two games at PAX, one more last night and I really like this game. Monsterpocalypse is awesome and I highly recommend looking into it.
  • Starcraft II - Blizzard had playable demos of Starcraft 2 up and it seems really good. Starcraft 2 seems to have kept the feel and gameplay of the original while replacing some of the interface annoyances, improving the graphics and adding a few more units. I am now really looking forward to Starcraft 2's release.
  • Demigod - I hadn't heard of Demigod before PAX but, as one of the random things I saw in the exhibit hall, it looks like a lot of fun. I probably won't get Demigod because it seems like the sort of game that's best suited to multi-player, which I haven't really been in a good situation for since undergrad, but if I were looking for a fun multi-player game, Demigod would be on my short list.
  • Minibosses - The Minibosses, a rock band that exclusively plays covers of video game music, were the last act at PAX's Saturday night concert. I've seen the Minibosses before as they've played Steer Roast a couple of times but they're still great. There is something particularly awesome about hearing the theme song to Ninja Gaiden, Megaman 2 or Metroid played on electric guitars, bass and drums. The Minibosses played a ~2 hour set that was solid glory and totally worth staying up until 3AM for.
  • MC Frontalot - MC Frontalot is probably the best known and most popular nerdcore hip hop artist. Frontalot is pretty good and an awful lot of fun. He puts on a great show and his raps are really entertaining and well targeted at the audience. Heck, Frontalot is probably responsible for making nerdcore what it is today.
  • Pitch Your Game Idea - We pitched the oft-discussed in Fort Awesome game idea for Eco-Slayer, which met with mass audience approval but didn't win any prizes with the panel. The reactions and getting an honorable mention from three of the four judges was pretty great. Shout outs to Mar, whose idea Eco-Slayer was originally.
  • DTS - PAX had this wonderful system called the Distributed Tournament System; basically they gave you two pins at the beginning of PAX to wear. If you were wearing at least one DTS pin and saw someone else wearing at least one DTS pin, you could challenge them for a pin. The challenge could take any form you wanted, in previous years it was only for handheld gaming, and the goal was to collect the most pins at PAX. I didn't really collect as many as I should have but I had an awful lot of thumb wars, Indian wrestling contests and games of rock-paper-scissors. DTS made for a great way to interact with and meet random new people, even if it was just for a short competition and conversation. Seriously though, I had some truly epic thumb wars, one even ended in a draw after about 15 minutes of fierce competition.
  • Other people - One of the best things about PAX was all the other people. Sure there were some annoying socially awkward people but there were also a lot of really cool people. It was a great big convention for people that like some of the things that I like and for which I, as a person, probably fell within one standard deviation of normal. It was a nice feeling being surrounded, in a sense, by my peoples.

The interrobang

I have just discovered that there is, not only, a name for the combination of the interrogative point (question mark) and the exclamation point but also a typographical symbol. The Interrobang is this combination and can be represented as '?!', '!?' or '‽'. In the past, I have used '?!' because I felt that it provided an appropriate representation of questioning and excited emphasis; I prefer the exclamation after as it is the question that is being emphasized, not the emphasis being questioned. Now, however, the single typographical character provides me the opportunity to concisely express, in writing, simultaneous inquiry and surprise.

Unfortunately, although available in unicode, many fonts do not have '‽' and there is no easy character combination that will lead to it.

In the world of HTML, you can often get away with ‽

Abyss

I have finally decided, after 7 years of faithful service, that thevoid is due for decommissioning as my primary desktop. I love thevoid, she's a great machine but at a 1.8GHz single core, 1GB of RAM, no USB2, no SATA, no PCI-E, no PCI-X and fans that are starting to make squealing/grinding noises, she's fallen a little far behind the technology curve. My general view on desktops is, and for a long time has been, to get a core setup with the most expandability possible and then incrementally upgrade for as long as possible; following that principle, I am replacing thevoid with abyss.

Abyss (current specs)

  • Lian-Li PC-A77B case
  • Tyan Tempest i5400PW (S5397) motherboard
  • 2x Intel Xeon E5420 2.5GHz quad core CPUs
  • 4x Kingston 1GB 667MHz FB-DIMM RAM
  • 2x Western Digital 500GB SATA HD
  • Lite-On SATA 20X DVD±R

Abyss (planned upgrades) (as funds are available)

  • 4x Kingston 1GB 667MHz FB-DIMM RAM
  • Some medium-to-high-end nVIDIA video card
  • some medium-end multi-channel sound card
  • Highpoint RocketRAID2240 16-channel SATA controller
  • 3x Icy Dock 5-bay SATA backplane
  • 15x 750GB HD

The hardware in abyss has been specifically chosen to have support for Intel VT-x and VT-d virtualization technology so as to allow for as versatile a machine as possible. Abyss is already running Xen with Gentoo Linux as the primary, dom0, operating system and Windows XP as a secondary, domU, operating system. My hope, after adding a video and sound card, is to install another Gentoo Linux and Windows XP operating system, as well as a Windows Vista operating system. Ultimately, the current Gentoo and Windows operating systems will always run in the background, primarily acting as headless servers for underlying services, and for day to day usage I will be able to switch between Gentoo, XP and Vista domains based on my needs. In essence, I will have a dual-booting system of virtual hosts with direct access to my video and audio hardware.

Hopefully abyss, with some incremental upgrades, will serve my computation needs for the next five to ten years.