Holiday Adventures.

The holidays are over!

I went to visit my mom toting a giant bag of tinsel, ornaments and lights, intent on tarting up her room in accordance with the season.

I also brought her beer and cookies, because the holidays are for getting drunk and fat.

We chatted for a bit, she sipped at her beer and then had a nurse bring her some pain meds for her arthritis. This resulted in her nodding off before I could get to the decorating – not a problem, as I felt pretty confident in my ability to string some lights without oversight.

As she slept, I deployed a payload of holiday cheer an order of magnitude more than most people might consider necessary. Or reasonable. It was aggressively, devistatingly festive.

I set up a tiny christmas tree with a full skirt and emptied a pack of candy canes on it’s branches. It looked like a toddler tree playing dress-up with its mom’s clothes. Then I made a tree on the wall with tinsel and lights. I was going to call it a day after hanging some stockings, then I realized I hadn’t used half of what I brought. I just kept finding another string of lights in the bag, and then another empty outlet in the room, and that is some pretty simple math.

Most of the things in her room are wrapped in lights and fringed mylar now.

While I was making some final adjustments, my mom’s eyes opened slightly, then immediately snapped wide open. She looked mildly confused – not totally surprising as she fell asleep to the dim glow of the tv, and woke up to a Christmas disco.

Day off – lounging, baking, chili-making.

Delivered fudge to mom. Mom demands more fudge.

Video gaming – John introduced me to Saint’s Row IV. Multiplayer is hilarious fun. We are the president. We have very important decisions to make.

Packing. Sweeping the house to make sure no gifts are left behind. Nervous dog prances in front of door to make sure he is not left behind. Mail baked goods. Fail to realize how packed the post office will be two days before Christmas. Wait in post office. Leave late. Curse the holidays, post office, self and others.

Load car, start driving. Fail to realize how packed highways are going to be at 5PM two days before Christmas. Curse holidays, driving, self and others.

At least John updated all the driving music.

Christmas Eve – Italian family festivities. Everyone gathers at my Aunt’s house to eat shrimp and cookies, gossip and exchange gift cards.

Then we head back to my smom and dad’s house to continue eating and gossiping. We wait for my niece and nephew (4 and 6 years old, respectively) to go to bed, then start dragging out massive piles of gifts to put under the tree. By the time it is done, the entrance is completely blocked with gifts. The back door, is similarly barricaded with boxes, gift wrap and cookies.

I mention to my family that, in the event of a fire, we will all die, as we have left no avenue of escape. Everyone is tired and drinking wine, so this information does not seem to have much impact.

A few minutes later, my niece wanders sleepily into the living room to make an announcement:


While my smom and sister make with the cleanup, my niece climbs onto the couch, curls into the smallest possible ball, and passes out. Some time later, the rest of us manage to pass out as well.

Mostly a blur starting with toddlers kicking my door in at 7 AM to inform me that Santa had performed his stealthy duties while we slept. Highlights include:

  • a great deal of tearing and crumpling paper
  • my nephew having a meltdown because he was out of gifts to open
  • my niece attempting to chew the face off of penguin
  • my niece attempting to chew the face off of several dolls
  • my niece having a meltdown because she couldn’t play with her brother’s toys
  • my dog having a meltdown due to the stress of being in a strange, noisy environment with two small children, one of whom is going through a “chew the faces off of things” phase
  • a dog bite puncturing two of my fingers (related to the item immediately above this one)
  • friends chilling at my apartment, playing A Murder of Crows
  • friends from out of town visiting

I wake up early because my intestines are telling me that my niece shared whatever horrid illness she had with me. Twelve hours of liquishits ensue. (Thanks, Allaena)

For most of us, it makes a lot more sense than a harvest festival.

Make Election Day a Holiday

I was discussing this earlier today after having a look at this site:

Rather than move it to a weekend, just make it a holiday. No working on election day, you have a civic duty to perform. Followed by festivities, because having a voice in your government is something that was hard won, and ought to be respected and celebrated.

What are bay leaves even for?

I drop a bay leaf into many dishes that I make. Because that is the way my mother did it, and her mother before her.

I do not know what benefit it provides. I just know that you add exactly one, and you must be careful not to eat it.

This smacks of witchcraft. As though you are attempting to ward off elves so they don’t steal your food or put a shoe in it or something. Because traditional elves are dicks, and they are constantly doing dick things like that.

Laser Dragons

I woke up from a dream this morning with the line “They decided to make laser dragons instead” floating through my mind.

Instead of what?

I was completely unable to recall anything else from the dream. So I am left wondering what the original plan was. What option was abandoned by my brain because laser dragons seemed the more viable alternative?

I’m going to call it Lt. Dan.

Still tinkering with the little robot kit I got a while ago. I made some new legs and thought I’d do a before and after.

Here, with the originals that came with the kit.

And with the new, more terrifyingly clawlike upgrades.

I have never gotten it to walk in a totally straight line – there’s always at least a little drift (typically to the right). This may be due to the leg design, as I am not using the same orientation as shown in the example videos presented by the guy who put the kit together. I might not be compensating correctly for the way the legs attach to the brackets. They all attach to one side, so they don’t line up perfectly. Or it could be that some of the servo gear teeth were stripped when my nephew kept insisting he needed to help its legs.

After I got the new legs on, I recorded it walking and then slowed down the video to try to see what was happening. This resulted in the following revelations:

1. Without the little foam wheel-feet, the legs seem to just slide around on the floor a lot.
2. Servo motors slowed to .25x speed sound a lot like heavy mouth-breathing.
3. My dog’s will is utterly broken by the mechanical horrors he has to contend with on a daily basis. He doesn’t even try to hide from them anymore.


I got some Sugru to put on the tips of the legs. Hopefully this will help with getting some traction.

Bus people stories: I commend her for fitting everyone into one seat.

Riding the bus keeps my morning commute interesting.

A couple of days ago, I sat down next to a woman gazing out the window. As I did, another woman across from me looked up, eyes wide, and then very deliberately directed her attention back down again. A few others in the immediate vicinity exchanged glances, but said nothing. Concerned that I was guilty of breach in bus protocol, I did quick check of my position and belongings. Everything was reasonably contained within my own personal space. Remembered to swipe bus pass. Music is off. All clear – no social transgression detected.

After a few minutes, I became aware of the woman next to me murmuring softly to herself. I didn’t think too much of it – people occasionally wear headphones and sing along to whatever they are listening to. Then I noticed that her voice bore the cadence of speech, not song, so I looked over to see if she was addressing me, or just speaking on the phone.

She was doing neither of these things.

She was still looking at the window. Or rather at something within the window that was for her alone to see. She seemed to be conversing with two separate individuals, shifting her attention to each in turn, pausing where appropriate – presumably to allow the others to speak. To one, she spoke in English, to the other, in what sounded like French. I considered perhaps she was just practicing for a language class, or maybe rehearsing lines from a play. I would not have immediately assumed college student by age (forty or fifty-ish in appearance) but certainly a possibility.

Lost in speculation, I do not know how long the scene held my attention – apparently long enough for one of her unseen companions to point out that her seat-mate was eavesdropping on their conversation. Halfway through her sentence, she stopped, turned to a section of window and said “Hmm? . . .Oh”, then turned to ask me if I needed something.

I responded “No, I was just looking out the, uh . . .” and made a vague gesture toward the window. She looked puzzled, but nodded and turned back around. I got the impression that she was sort of put off.

shit john says: Otherkin

“Yeah, that’s a thing. You can just . . . point at anything and claim kinship.”
He grabs a giant cup from his desk, cradles it to his chest and strokes it. Lets his eyes sort of glass over.
“I am cupkin. We both hold fluids so well. But people don’t understand that if they tip us the wrong way, it will all spill out.

s p i l l . . . o u t.”

The catalyst: Angelkin.

HTML5 Canvas

I have been playing around with animation in Javascript/Canvas off and on for a while. Given that whatever programming I get to do at work is typically some kind of system script or automation tool, it’s nice to do something with a bit of visual feedback. It is also very frustrating because the interactions between actual real world things that I can see and touch often confound me.

Anyway, this is what I have managed thus far.

Boundary detection. The circles change direction when they hit the container boundary and fade when they cross each other’s area. The line between the two was just to help me verify the distance was being calculated from the center.
New window.
[iframe src=”” width=”630″ height=”610″]

Reverse direction on collision. Added a visible border for the container boundary too.
New window.
[iframe src=”” width=”630″ height=”610″]

Every time the circles collides, the larger one steals a bit of mass from the smaller one.
New window.
[iframe src=”” width=”630″ height=”610″]

The larger on steals mass and color on collision.
New window.
[iframe src=”” width=”630″ height=”610″]