Short Posts

I remember writing some of my old shorter posts and how I felt like the writing was terrible. But going back and reading them, I’m glad I have something rather than nothing from those moments in my life. It’s always nice looking back.

Contemptuous Cloud

Epictetus told his students, when they’d quote some great philosopher, to picture themselves standing over the man having sex. Grunting, groaning and awkward; like the rest of us so completely detached from their ‘philosophical’ rhetoric. Marcus would deprive things of their euphemisms – roasted meat is a dead animal and vintage wine is old, fermented grapes. The aim was to see these things as they really are, to ‘strip away the legend that encrusts them.’ – Ryan Holiday

I sometimes think of cloud computing as your stuff on someone else’s computer. We like to think that our information is stored out in the aether, but it’s really just on a computer in a different physical location. When I worked at Hitachi, I was using servers all the time. They’re computers. It stripped away the magic.

(Yes, yes, I’m oversimplifying. There are storage devices, but that’s not the point of today’s exercise.)

We think so many of our services are powered by magic algorithms. But facebook is partly built on cheap labor, filtering out offensive material. And after reading Morozov’s To Save Everything, Click Here, I know to be weary of pretending algorithms are objective. They’re still built upon human choices.

Uber? There’s no cloud there. It’s a bunch of people driving in their fucking cars. It’s a taxi service built on smartphones and cheap labor.

It’s kind of like garbage. No, I’m not saying this stuff is garbage — I’m attempting to make an analogy. In modern life, we put our garbage in a nice can on our nice streets and it’s taken away in the morning before we wake up. It disappears, never to be thought of again. Except when we read a dreadful, upsetting article on facebook about where our garbage goes, and we think that we should do something about it, but all we do is click to the next article.

Similarly, we should be aware that the “cloud” often involves a lot of unseen infrastructure and cheap labor.

(Some days we must be gracious and in awe. We must remember the magic in everyday things and rejoice in the amazing things we build as human beings. Some days we must strip away the magic and see things as they are. Some days we must do both. Today, for me, is a day for reality. Remember that no matter the result, nothing is really done yet.)

Joy

Well, ATDP is over for me. Today was the last day of AIC. I felt as if the kids learned a lot and had fun, so it was a success.

I suppose I should feel happy that my life will be less hectic. It’s been a really stressful six weeks. Instead, I feel sad and a little empty. Because those precious 12 days brought me so much joy.

I wouldn’t call teaching my calling, though. On the last day, I told my students to go build cool things. Building cool things can bring me just as much joy as teaching. It’s a thrill, and it pays more.

Although I’m feeling sad now, I enjoy the seasonal element of ATDP. I’m the kind of person who needs to do different things, to exercise different parts of his brain. I don’t have a single calling because I could never do just one thing for the rest of my life. I also like the ATDP students in particular because of how dedicated they are. I liked teaching writing classes, but advanced programming is so much more fun because all the kids want to be there. No one is there because their parent wanted them to be there.

I’m also a little sad because I may not be able to do it next year. I’m getting married shortly after ATDP, and this really ate up all of my life. I wouldn’t have time to help with the wedding planning if I had to teach and work. I guess one alternative is to write my own PHP/MySQL/jQuery book so I wouldn’t have to spend time on lecture. I’d also need rubrics and TAs, so I wouldn’t have to do all the grading. Hmmmm. Is this feasible?

What’s next? My life is more free, but I want to use that time wisely. It’s time to get back to art and philosophy.

The Spiders

There’s public and then there’s public. There’s a difference between picking your nose in the car and someone filming you picking your nose and then broadcasting it on every channel. And there’s a difference between the internet now and how it was before the spiders came along and ruined everything.

Everything I post is now indexed and easily found with very little digging. Imagine a library with books in heaps and piles. To find one book, sometimes you have to look for a scrap of paper in another book. Sure, this library is open to the public, but it’s a very different type of public than an organized library. Now imagine putting a diary in this public library. Sure, random people can find it and your close friends can find it if you tell them where it is, but there are all sorts of people who couldn’t find it. Then, these giant spiders came along and put everything in order. Now, anyone can find everything. I’d imagine one would write with a little less honesty after that.

An indexed world is not necessarily the world I want to live in. The spiders are real. They crawl the web. Organize it. Make everything easy to search. I remember long ago when searching wasn’t so easy. In fact, the way we use the internet has changed. No one knows what a browser is. URLs are too complicated for ordinary users. More and more, the internet is mediated by search, rather than by URL. It’s a different kind of experience.

And who can look up my writing? Potential employers! As an employee, or wage-slave, I must not appear to out of line. (Even that gibe can get me in trouble.) The government! Considering how they treat dissent these days, I’d rather keep my mouth shut. Oops, I mean, the US is the greatest country in the world and can never do wrong. Big companies! Selling anything I say to advertisers. Ick. Delivering that data to the government without warrants.

Thus, what I can say here is considerably neutered. What do I do? Update robots.txt to kill all the spiders? Unindex myself? Or do I take all my writing offline? Or do I password protect what I have? I don’t know.

I do need a space to philosophize honestly.

TMF

I’m teaching a class in TMF. Full circle moment, I guess. AIC was the first class I took in ATDP Secondary Division, and I took it in TMF. Last year was the first year of the AIC reboot, but we taught it in stuffy old Corey Lab. I feel as if I should have more feels about this. I don’t, though. I suppose it’s because I’m still struggling just to get the class taught. It’s a lot of work, and I’m still at my position at SpoonRocket. We’ll see how it goes.

Cheese

White people will tell you they love bacon, but what they really love is cheese. Because if you feed a white person bacon everyday, there will be one day where they say, “No, I don’t feel like bacon today.” Or they will say, “I’m watching my cholesterol.” But they will never say the same thing about cheese. White people never get tired of cheese.

Ta-Nehisi Coates’s The Case for Reparations

Don’t put this in your read later list. Read it right now: The Case for Reparations.

I made the mistake of looking at the comment sections of some other website which had linked to this piece. Some observations: 1) It’s shocking how often people will post comments which show they didn’t bother to read the piece or they lack the skill of reading comprehension. “Hello, slavery ended 150 years ago.” “Hello, you didn’t even bother clicking on the article.” 2) It’s crazy how, for some, their case against reparations (or even the modest idea of studying the damage done) is that the amount would be unfathomably large and un-payable. They are throwing up their hands and declaring moral bankruptcy. Or rather, they do it with a shrug. They never make the connection that if the financial reckoning is so large, then the moral reckoning must be even greater.

Lovable Babe Hound

I recently finished watching all of Cheers. I took a hiatus some time around season 7. Now, I’m watching Frasier, so I can unlock some achievement that says I watched everything with Frasier Crane. (One could make a nice contrarian argument that Kelsey Grammar was the greatest actor of the last century.) Stevie’s been making her way through Cheers, and I’ve caught various episodes. So, I have a lot of thoughts. I’m going to try to focus on just one line of thought today. I love how the later seasons inverts some of the classic sitcom tropes it had been using through the previous seasons. It’s subversive, in a way.

Lilith and Frasier are constantly bickering after being married. Their friction is a great source of humor. Somewhere in season 10, they get a divorce. Lilith cheats on Frasier because their relationship isn’t healthy. Some of the scenes even match the weight of early Cheers. It’s so fantastic because a bickering couple is a sitcom status quo. Of course the relationship is unhealthy but who cares because it’s funny. And then the writers are like, yeah, this relationship doesn’t really work. I loved it.

The other inversion involves Sam. After Diane leaves, he descends into pure id, constantly pursuing women. It even gets really icky the way he treats Rebecca. In the 80s/90s, though, he’s just a lovable babe hound. Haha, all he thinks about is sex. At the end of the show’s run, they change it up and it’s revealed that he’s a sex addict. It makes perfect sense in the context of the show, what with him already being an alcoholic. But I love how it says, no, his behavior really wasn’t okay. He wasn’t a lovable babe hound; he was a man with a problem. Of course, from the way the show is, you can tell this was decided later. At the time, they sincerely portray him as a humorous archetype. However, when you rewatch, you can still easily note that his behavior is indeed pathological. It’s a fascinating indictment on not Sam, but the show itself and how we watched it.

Seriously, there’s so much I can say about Cheers. I’ll end this line of thought for now though because it’s getting late. Also, I hate how terrible my writing feels. Those muscles have severely atrophied. I want to write better essays, but I think I need more practice just letting myself write for now.

Ramblings

Ramble #1

One day, I want to write a sitcom with some of my favorite people. Alas, it’ll probably never come to pass. I’m focusing on work right now, but even if there is a day when I take a less hectic job, I’ll likely never be able to produce it. Judging by how long it took to make a really short film, I don’t know how long it’d take to produce a season of something. Animation was another option since some people live in far away places. However, I can’t even draw, and that takes even longer than acting, so that’s probably out too. Very recently I have been pondering doing a radio show instead. I don’t even know how that’d work. TV is the medium with which I’m most familiar, and it’s the one I love the most.

Ramble #2

I’d like to spend more time philosophizing. Work has lately been mostly reactive. I need more time to just sit back and think. The mornings may be the best time for that. I was going to do it now but I just want to sleep.

Ramble #3

I’d like to simply spit out my thoughts and talk in circles instead of creating coherent essays. That’s what a blog is for, right?

Time Zones and Rails

Local

irb(main):006:0> date = “2014-04-01″
=> “2014-04-01″
irb(main):007:0> begin_str = “#{date.to_s} #{TimeOfDay.new(0,0,0)} America/Los_Angeles”
=> “2014-04-01 00:00:00 America/Los_Angeles”
irb(main):008:0> begin_day = Time.strptime(begin_str, “%Y-%m-%d %H:%M:%S %Z”).utc
=> 2014-04-01 07:00:00 UTC

Production

irb(main):001:0> date = “2014-04-01″
=> “2014-04-01″
irb(main):002:0> begin_str = “#{date.to_s} #{TimeOfDay.new(0,0,0)} America/Los_Angeles”
=> “2014-04-01 00:00:00 America/Los_Angeles”
irb(main):003:0> begin_day = Time.strptime(begin_str, “%Y-%m-%d %H:%M:%S %Z”).utc
=> 2014-04-01 00:00:00 UTC

*headdesk*

First Principles

I was struck by this line in Debt: The First 5000 Years, “His conclusion, which he set forth at the very beginning of his Treatise on Money … was more or less the only conclusion one could come to if one started not from first principles but from a careful examination of the historical record…”

It reminded me of Descartes, sitting in a hot room, trying to establish a system of philosophy based on first principles. The man was nutso and completely wrong, so very, very wrong. I had to read and re-read Descartes for many philosophy classes and the more I learned, the more I hated it.

The line also reminded me of Machiavelli, who classified governments based on what he had seen, rather than on Plato’s abstract tyrannies, democracies, and republics.

I hate Plato’s Forms almost as much as stuffy Descartes.

I have a strong distaste for anyone working from first principles. First principles are ahistorical and without context, so I find them useless. (Except in mathematics, which is all abstraction. But mathematicians should keep their ahistorical asses away from government.) Then there’s also all the harm they’ve caused, which I shall get into another time.

As a side note, programming is a weird interaction between the abstract and the world. We build these amazing things with programming. But programming itself is shuffling around abstractions, and creating abstractions on top of abstractions with frameworks that abstract a language that is an abstraction of an abstraction of an abstraction of binary.

My Intellectual Tradition

“It’s also not a coincidence that my critique of solutionism bears some resemblance to several critiques of the numerous earlier efforts to put humanity into too tight a straitjacket. Today’s straitjacket might be of the digital variety, but it’s hardly the first or the tightest. While the word “solutionism” may not have been used, many important thinkers have addressed its shortcomings, even if using different terms and contexts. I’m thinking, in particular, of Ivan Illich’s protestations against the highly efficient dehumanizing systems of professional schooling and medicine, Jane Jacobs’s attacks on the arrogance of urban planners, Michael Oakeshott’s rebellion against rationalists in all walks of human existence, Hans Jonas’s impatience with the cold comfort of cybernetics; and, more recently, James Scott’s concern with how states have forced what he calls “legibility” on their subjects. Some might add Friedrich Hayek’s opposition to central planners, with their inherent knowledge deficiency, to this list.” – Evgeny Morozov, To Save Everything, Click Here

Champion

Once again, I am champion. After 2 long years, I’m back on top. This is my 3rd championship in 5 years in that league. So, the last 5 years goes like this: champion, champion, #1 seed – first round playoff exit, missed playoffs, champion. Pretty good reign, plus I’ve never missed the playoffs except that one year.

It was a magical run, starting 0-4, going on a crazy winning streak, and ending up as the #2 seed. I actually tied the #1 seed in wins, and wasn’t that far off in points. I only lost 1 game after my 0-4 start, and that week I had the second-highest score in the league.

The run also included my most exciting fantasy football moment. Sunday wasn’t great for me in the semifinals. LeSean McCoy got 10 carries. I got nothing at tight end from Charles Clay, and I started Shane Vereen, who netted me 2.10 points. Needing 23 points from Justin Tucker, the kicker, on Monday night, I thought my season was over. I wasn’t even watching the game. But I was keeping tabs online, and my interest ticked up after a few field goals. Then, it was the 4th quarter, Justin Tucker kicked one more field goal, and I only needed 5 more points. I turned on the TV at work, and started cheering for the Lions to score a touchdown, which would force Baltimore to kick again. My co-workers started getting into it too, as I explained the situation. If the Lions made a 2-pt conversion, it would force OT if the Ravens kicked another field goal and I’d have a better chance at winning. The Lions then missed the 2-pt conversion, which meant there was only one shot at victory. A 50+ yarder would win it. Anything less and I was doomed. A gimpy Joe Flacco did enough to get them near field goal range. On 4th and 7, the offense stayed on the field, and I was screaming at the TV. Then, they called a timeout (I’m assuming Harbaugh just wanted to run the clock). After the commercial break, Justin Tucker came out to kick a 61-yard field goal. Very difficult. But he nailed it, getting the ball just inside the uprights. I took the lead 115.24 to 114.82. I was cheering, still kind of in disbelief at my crazy luck, and so were my co-workers. I explained how rare 60-yard field goals were, and how rare it was to get 23 points from a kicker. I still sweated the rest of the week, waiting for a stat correction, but there were none, and my magical season continued.

I have some other good stories. There was another Monday night game where I got 11 points from a kicker, but I didn’t even watch that game. Plus, it was merely unlikely that I’d win, not miracle unlikely. Plus, it was a regular season win. With my semifinal game, Yahoo! gave me a 0% chance on winning going into Monday night. I figured it was less than 1%. Not impossible, though. There was the prescient Seattle defense facebook post, where I stated my game was over unless Seattle scored like 3 defensive touchdowns, and then my fantasy team racked up like 30 points from the Seattle D. There was the night I survived Michael Vick’s crazy record-setting game (how many people can say that?). Then there’s the McNabb game, where he got sacked like 13 times, and our scoring settings were -1 per sack, but I wasn’t involved in the game. There’s also cashing in the slap bet. But I think this pushes the slap bet into second place in terms of excitement. I was a favorite going into the slap bet championship game. The slap bet probably is the best story, but this gave me the biggest adrenaline rush.

My best move of the year (besides picking up Justin Tucker, Jordan Reed, Keenan Allen, Zac Stacy, and the Arizona defense) was turning down all trade offers. I actually was soliciting offers and thinking about blowing up my team. At 0-4, you get desperate. I eventually decided none of the offers were worth it. I turned down an RB trade for Aaron Rodgers, and another for Cutler. They both got hurt, so it worked out, haha. I also turned down Doug Martin and Cam Newton for Alfred Morris and Terrell Pryor. I decided that the edge I got at RB outweighed the upgrade in QB. I guess I was right? I won. I mean, I had Zac Stacy later on, so I guess I really would’ve been better off, but I couldn’t predict that. I also won the game that got me to 1-4, and I would’ve lost had I started Cam Newton instead of Russell Wilson. I believed in the talent of my team, the value of a great stable of RBs, and that faith carried me to the championship.

In the other league, I made the playoffs once again (never missed). This time I was the #5 instead of the #6. So, still kind of mediocre in the regular season. I won my first playoff game, but got crushed in my final two games to get 4th place and miss out on money. (I did get a little bit for highest points in one week.) It was sad, but my team wasn’t great, especially after losing Jordan Reed. My running backs, Knowshon Moreno and Frank Gore, were decent, but put up puny point totals down the stretch. Josh Gordon was merely very good instead of godly. It was a 14-team league, which I didn’t like as much as 12. It’s harder to work the waiver wire. This made it harder to stream defenses and harder to upgrade my team. It makes the draft more important, which I don’t like as much since

Now for some notes for next year.

In the semifinal game, Alfred Morris would’ve only got me 6.6, while Zac Stacy would’ve netted me 20 points. I would’ve been a comfortable favorite going into Monday night had I started Stacy. I didn’t start him because I thought there was a chance the Rams would get blown out by the Saints, so I was trying to go with the safest choice. There was also a lot of Redskins drama, with RGIII being benched, and coaching issues, so I thought Morris was a risk too. What I didn’t consider was that Vereen got his value as a pass-catching back, which made him a bigger risk than I thought. I was like the night I started Darren Sproles and the Falcons decided to game-plan for him, and he got me like zero points. A WR will typically get less touches than a RB, so a RB tends to be a safer start, everything else being equal (which it never is). Anyway, while Vereen isn’t a WR, he was the same risks as starting a WR, with the added factor that he was less likely to catch any deep passes. In my other league, I reached a bit for Vereen and was disappointed when he was hurt because I thought he’d be a stud. I don’t think I’d reach next year for any back that doesn’t get his value between the tackles.

My team was actually the youngest it’s ever been. Russell Wilson was in his second year. (Decent value, and I’m glad I didn’t reach for Kaepernick. I actually had Kaepernick rated above Wilson because of the potential rushing upside, but Kap was going in the second round, and I wasn’t going to touch a QB until round 3 at the earliest.) I drafted Dwayne Allen, a second-year player, and used Jordan Reed, a rookie, for a good chunk of the season. I think Charles Clay is in his 3rd year, but he was kind of filler. I drafted a bunch of second-year wideouts, including Randall Cobb, TY Hilton, and Chris Givens. I reached for Kenbrell Thompkins and took Patton as a very late-round flier for fun. Both of those guys were rookies. I also reached for Josh Gordon (a good move), another second-year guy. I drafted Alfred Morris and Daryl Richardson, both second-year guys at running back. I also grabbed Eddie Lacy, even though I almost never draft rookies. (The value was there.) LeSean McCoy and DeAngelo Williams had probably been in the league longest out of my draft picks. When Cobb got hurt, I replaced him with Keenan Allen, a rookie, and I also picked up Terrance Williams for a while, another rookie. Next year, I’ll probably take a chance on Williams again, and maybe I’ll look at Robert Woods.

I guess the youth movement worked. I’d always been reluctant to get young guys, but it worked out this year. Still, I’m never going to reach for a rookie RB. They don’t always work out in pass protection, so they don’t always get as many snaps as they could. Still, Lacy was a starting back, so he was a worthwhile pick in an era of platoons. I don’t think it was a reach to draft him in Round 4. As for WR, Thompkins, Givens, and Patton were busts, but I wasn’t expecting to get anything out of Patton anyway, and knew I could get someone off the waiver wire. They were all later picks, but I still think Thompkins was a mistake. I’m not going reaching for the pre-season rookie wonder again. I actually ended up dropping TY Hilton before the Reggie Wayne injury. I picked him up as a WR2 (well, actually Josh Gordon was going to be my WR2). Don’t reach for the slot guy in a power running offense. Hilton was inconsistent, but I think he could take another step forward in year three. I ended up with a better team without him, after getting Keenan Allen. I don’t know if dropping him was a mistake. It was a 10-person league. The guy I dropped him for (Robert Woods), was probably too cute a move. But Woods got hurt, so I can’t properly evaluate the move. Then again, rookie WRs don’t always hold up their first year in the NFL. Josh Gordon was my best draft pick. WR1 value at a fraction of the price. Plus, he didn’t come out of nowhere. His value was deflated because of his 2-game suspension. It’s not like he wasn’t healthy. I was expecting him to be a WR2, but he really helped both of my teams. Anyway, second-year wideouts are great. I also think you have to go young to get the upside late. After 4 years, you pretty much have an idea of how good a wideout is (Brandon Lloyd aside).

Another lesson I learned was about slot receivers. It’s interesting that some of the better players will operate out of the slot. I think it’s because they’re more reliable in a blitzing situation. However, the receivers who work on the outside are more likely to get TDs and catch the long bombs. Something to think about. I think next year I’ll try to target receivers on the outside.

I was right about my draft strategy with tight ends. I drafted on really late, figuring they were all about the same after Jimmy Graham. I also thought Gronk was an injury risk (and so was Hernandez, but that point is moot), and I don’t like picking up players who will eat up a roster spot while being injured for too many games. Some of the late fliers worked out better than others, like Julius Thomas and Jordan Cameron, but I was right about the middle-class of tight end not being worth it. Players like Vernon Davis are too touchdown dependent, and touchdowns are way more random than yardage. So, they can’t be relied on, which makes them not worth a higher draft pick, especially when you can get a guy like Josh Gordon. I don’t know if this strategy will hold up for next year. There are some guys like Julius Thomas, Jordan Reed, and Jordan Cameron that could be worth it at a higher pick.

I did okay waiting on QB. The young guys had less upside than I thought, and Kap wasn’t great at all, but there’s now a big middle class of QB to select from. The top 3 are Rodgers, Brees, and Manning. I think you can pencil Cam in at 4. Any other guy, though, and you are better off waiting as long as you don’t drop another tier. Russell Wilson was a good pick, though, because he didn’t have too many really bad games compared to other QBs. I panicked in my other league, drafting Tom Brady, when I could’ve waited for Luck or Stafford. It was a response to last year when I kept missing out on QB, and only saved myself with a RGIII trade. I should’ve stuck to my guns.

I don’t have much to say about RBs except that they are important. They carried my team to a championship. And my decent RBs allowed me to snag a playoff spot in my other league. Going 4-deep at running back is better than trading one of those pieces to another team. RBs still produce the best value, and are the best to start at flex. Of course, your team make-up can determine this. But I’d rather start a WR3 at WR2 and a RB2 at flex, than a WR2 at WR2 and a WR3 at flex. Er, let’s just say that an RB2 is more valuable than a WR2.

Wait on defense and kicker. NFC West teams have great Ds, and you can usually find one on the waiver wire. Usually I’d say something disparaging about kickers here, but I’ve sworn off saying mean things after Justin Tucker.

My worst move of the year was starting Jake Locker over Tom Brady. I know Tom Brady was underperforming, and Jake Locker had overperformed in some games, but dude, he’s Jake freaking Locker. How did you talk yourself into that. One guy has talent, the other does not. Too cute.

My other terrible move was drafting Amendola so early. Dude is made of glass. He was way too big a risk to pick as a potential WR1. Yes, he was my first WR drafted. Of course, part of the problem was the QB panic pick, so I don’t think I’ll have this problem again.

I do think there’s value to be had in picking up good players who were injured last year, but you don’t want to pick a guy made of glass too early.

Then, there was the questionable Maurice-Jones Drew pick. I picked him towards the back end of the draft. But my other options were guys like Trent Richardson (terrible), Steven Jackson (old and always injured), Stevan Ridley, Chris Johnson, David Wilson, Frank Gore, and Ray Rice. I knew I could get Frank Gore in round 2. Passing Rice was actually a decent decision given how Ray Rice ended up performing. I couldn’t have predicted he’d do that bad, but I didn’t think Ray Rice was an RB1 after owning him last year. MoJo outproduced him, despite the injuries. (And I think he could’ve done better if he had been healthier.) Still, the best decision was Matt Forte. Oops. But hey, Matt Forte aside, I was right about that tier of RB being done.

Anyway, I’m still a champion. And I will be until next year.

Boxes

This might be the longest I’ve gone doing just one thing. I’ve been a full-time programmer for several months now. While that time has been split between Ruby and Objective-C, those things aren’t different enough to exercise different pieces of my brain.

In college, I took courses in every department; I was always trying new things. During my year-long “break,” I did programming, I was heavily into drawing, and I also taught a class. Even though the teaching involved programming, it’s a vastly different experience than programming itself. At my old job, my responsibilities were divided between programming and support.

While at my new job, I’ve devoted less time to piano, to drawing, and to writing. It’s not just the lack of time devoted to creative endeavors that bothers me, it’s that I feel imbalanced. I don’t like being just an engineer, being put inside a box. My brain thrives when it can do different things, and make connections between those things. I know I will be teaching again, but I need to make a greater effort to do more things.

Recently, I have been excited by really good television. It may be time to try my hand at fiction again. The introspective style of blogging doesn’t feel like enough to exercise a separate portion of my brain. As a programmer, I already spend to much time in my head. I need to create new worlds.

I may have to officially take a sabbatical from comics for a while. I don’t feel like The Chalkboard Manifesto, in its current incarnation, has much left to teach me. If I go back into comics, it will have to be with something new, I think. It’s also very heavily introspective.

When it comes to music, I might try taking piano lessons again or I might try more singing. I’ve always been an instrument-person rather than a singer. But it’s fun playing the piano and singing. The new activity would be stimulating.

Well, these are all great ideas, but I may wait until the new year to commit to something.

Playoffs

No one cares, but I’ll continue logging my fantasy football achievements.

Dragon Army has now gone from 0-4 and 10th (last) place to 8-5 and 2nd place. I pulled off 6 straight victories, then lost one despite having the second highest score in the league that week, and then won my next two. With another victory and a loss for the 1st place team, I can move into the 1st seed for the playoffs. I haven’t yet secured a playoff spot. There are four 7-6 teams behind me. I could drop out, but one of the players in the 5 and 6 slot would have to outscore me by over 60 points this week.

After losing three in a row (two brutal bye weeks in a row followed by a bad week) and dropping to 11th out of 14th, I won two in a row and secured a playoff spot. I’m the 5th seed, and the playoffs begin this week.

The fantasy gods tested my faith. On Sunday night, Jordan Reed was a surprise inactive, so I had to take a fat 0 in both leagues. Yet I prevailed on Monday night, with the Seahawks keeping down Drew Brees in one league, while Russell Wilson propelled me to victory in another. Ugh, I hate having to rely on the Seahawks.

I’m a little worried about this week since Josh Gordon may get Caleb Hanie at quarterback this week. My stud WR has been carrying me the last 2 weeks, and I’m worried this may be the end of the line.

Also, I really, really hate kickers. I picked up Shaun Suisham, who scored 0.8 points after some type of botched field goal or fake field goal. In my other league, I felt good for grabbing Justin Tucker, who scored 19 points. Unfortunately, I dropped Vinitiari for him, who scored 20 points.

Win Streak Ends

Started 0-4. Went to 6-4. Going to lose this week despite putting up the second highest point total in the league this week. Just as I was on the cusp of playoff contention. The gods can be so cruel.

I’m on a two-game skid in my other league after some rough bye weeks. (No Gore/Moreno two weeks ago, and no Amendola/Gordon/Brady last week.) I had to start Jake Locker and then he got hurt, giving me negative points. Whoo. That losing streak will extend to 3 this week, unless I get 40 points combined from Brady and Amendola against that great Panthers defense. Yahoo says I have a 4% chance, but I put it at more like 15%.

I’m still chugging along at my new job. Still good.

5 in a row

I went from 0-4 to 5-4. Very satisfying. I feel like such a boss.

I actually have the same record in my other league, although the path there was a little different. I lost this week because my best players, Knowshon Moreno and Frank Gore, were on bye. Plus, Maurice Jones-Drew was on bye, so I didn’t have a decent fill-in. I also sat Tom Brady because I am a fucking moron. Really? Jake Locker is terrible; what was I thinking?

I don’t think I have less boring news. No wait, my cousin is having a wedding this weekend, so that’s actually exciting.

Appeasing the Gods

I’m not sure what I did, but I seem to have appeased the fantasy gods. After my team BMO started 1-3, with 2 losses of 2 points or less, I turned things around and will improve to 4-3 after this week. My other team, Dragon Army, was renamed to Dragon Army b4 Ender after my 0-4 start. But after this week’s close win, I will be 3-4. The thing is, I haven’t really made big changes to my teams. My players are playing better, or healthier, or not on bye (or off suspension in the case of Josh Gordon). In fact, my team that started 0-4 was starting to look like a big threat until the loss of Randall Cobb. I’ve got Russell Wilson at QB, Morris, McCoy, and Lacy at RB, Gordon and Allen at WR, and Clay and Reed at TE. I picked up Reed when Clay was on bye, and I thought he was too valuable to drop. I was right about that, but wrong not to start him in any of my leagues. At least I got a TD from Clay. I feel like I’ve also started to get a better handle on which teams are good and which teams aren’t, so I’ve been able to make better pickups for streaming a defense. My 4-3 team is pretty thin, with Gore and Moreno as my stud RBs (I lost Vereen early and Maurice-Jones Drew was a terrible draft decision.) I’m weakest at QB, with Tom Brady; however, I’m still hopeful things will turn around with more playing-time with Gronkowski. At WR, I’m starting Josh Gordon and probably Stevie Johnson. My other options are Emmanuel Sanders and Kenbrell Thompkins. Not exactly world-beaters. I’ve somehow managed to sit Thompkins every game he has scored a touchdown and start him every game he hasn’t. I’ve also got Reed and Clay, and I’m tempted to start Clay at flex over my lesser WRs. This week, I very strongly considered starting Reed over Clay, (especially considering their respective matchups) but in the end, I decided to wait to Reed to really break out. I guess he has, haha.

In fact, my best move this week was NOT making a trade and keeping my team the same. I was offered Doug Martin and Cam Newton for Russell Wilson and Alfred Morris. Good thing too because I would’ve lost if I hadn’t started Wilson. I also was offered Cutler for Lacy. Luckily, I didn’t take that one because Cutler got hurt. I was also trying to get a deal for Garcon with a third team, but then I was offered a deal for Aaron Rodgers. I may have still won with that decision, but I’m glad I’ve kept my team together because I think it’s stronger.

Hopefully they continue to reward my decision-making.

In less boring news…

My job keeps me really busy. It’s not bad, though, because I actually enjoy the work and believe I’m making an impact on the company. I’m also enjoying getting paychecks. I don’t think I ever want to run my own business.

I’m reading May We Be Forgiven by A.M. Homes. I’m really enjoying it, despite the fact that it’s supposed to be darkly funny and I don’t really find myself laughing that much. Don’t get me wrong, there are funny parts, but that’s not why I find it so engrossing.

Injuries

Just lost Lacy for the game, which makes it 3 lost players apiece for both teams. Clearly, the fantasy gods are angry at me for not doing as much research as other years.

In other, less important news, I have a new job working for a startup in Berkeley. I’m a full-time developer, I’m making more than I was at my old job, and I don’t have to drive to commute. I guess that means my year doing my own thing went pretty much as I planned. I did find a job quicker than I expected, which means I have more in my savings account.

I should say more, but I want to watch football.

Week 1

It’s week 1 and I already have 3 guys who probably aren’t playing this week. Shane Vereen is gone until at least week 11 and Amendola probably won’t play this week. I also have Josh Gordon, but that’s my fault for picking him up. I just didn’t think I’d lose guys so fast. Oh and hopefully Dwayne Allen plays or I’m really screwed, especially considering how deep this league is (14 teams). I drafted terribly. I picked up Tom Brady instead of Vincent Jackson, and I drafted MoJo over Ray Rice. Hahaha. All my mock drafts went better. My receiver picks haven’t really panned out either. Amendola is hurt (as said before). Kenbrell Thompkins supposedly looked not very sharp. Emmanuel Sanders is on a Steelers offense that looks to be terrible enough that you should stream defenses against them. I’m really done if Josh Gordon isn’t any good when he comes back. Without Amendola, my WR options are really all more WR3 guys and I don’t even have a WR2-type guy. Cordarelle Patterson looks like he probably won’t crack the starting line-up for a while. Lance Moore and Stevie Johnson have talent, but probably won’t do that great. My RB corp is very thin without Vereen. I’m down to 3 guys now, with Knowshon Moreno as my 3rd RB. I need more depth, but the waiver wire doesn’t really have anyone at RB. I would be in a much better situation had Vereen panned out.

In my other league, I also lost my first game, but I’m in a much better situation. I’m super strong at RB. McCoy looks amazing. Eddie Lacy didn’t do well against the 49ers, but I don’t think that’s because of a lack of talent. Apparently DeAngelo Williams is playing well too. And I still have Alfred Morris. Randall Cobb did well for my WR1 slot. WR2 is not looking great, since TY Hilton and Kenbrell Thompkins didn’t play that well. I bought too much into the Kenbrell Thompkins hype, I guess. I’m going back to avoiding rookie WRs and rookie RBs.

I wasn’t really as prepared for this year’s drafts as I was for years prior. I need to do more studying up on each individual leading up to the draft instead of just looking at rankings and picking guys who were decent last year.

It’s looked bleak before, but I’ve managed to trade my way out of the darkness. Maybe I can pull off some of the same magic this year.

For once in my life

I’m kind of obsessed with this song and video right now of Stevie Wonder singing For Once in my Life. I should learn the piano part and the harmonica solo.

I’m also very amused by the girl on the right who seems to get lost somewhere in the middle of the song and looks clueless for much of the rest of song. I feel bad about laughing because I imagine that if I was in her situation, I’d take solace in the fact that the bad performance was probably lost to history… and then YouTube came along. At least she successfully got the harmonica to Stevie.

First draft

Finished my first draft for my 14-team league.

Should’ve waited a round for QB, but I was worried about being left out like last year. I ended up with Tom Brady and Danny Amendola, when I could’ve had Vincent Jackson and Russell Wilson. Oh well, at least I don’t have to cheer for the Seahawks.

My team so far: QB – Brady; RB – MoJo, Gore, Vereen, Knowshon Moreno; WR: Amendola, Lance Moore, Stevie Johnson, Josh Gordon, Emmanuel Sanders, Kenbrell Thompkins, Cordarrelle Patterson; TE – Dwayne Allen (I think Pettigrew is still on waivers); D/ST – CLE; K – Dan Bailey. It’s better than I expected for a 14-teamer.

I’m weak at WR, but I think I might get lucky with a few picks. I picked two guys who had 1000 yard season last year (Johnson and Moore), so they can be dependable. Amendola has potential if he stays healthy. Gordon should be solid too after his suspension. Sanders could end up being the number one guy in Pittsburgh (I’m not that bullish on Antonio Brown after owning him for a few years). Thompkins and Patterson are lotto tickets.

As for TE, after Graham, Gonzalez and Witten, there’s a bunch of fairly interchangeable guys. I like VD, but he’s always been TD-dependent. Plus, defenses take him away easily if they game-plan for him. His big games tend to come when the defenses are worried about other threats. I figure, with tight end, either you get a touchdown, or you get maybe 3 points. So, I waited and grabbed Dwayne Allen the round before my last bench pick. I think he’s better than Fleener. He could have a good season, or he could not. There’s still a couple options on the waiver wire that I find similar.

14 teams

I’m doing a 14-team league this year. Not sure how I feel about it being so deep. I’m way more nervous. Usually, I’m pretty confident. I feel like I’ll need a lot more luck to win this year. The draft feels like it’ll matter more too since the waiver wire will be picked clean.

Last year, I had shit for QB, but I was able to salvage that with a trade for QB. Everyone started picking backup QBs, taking the last person in the tier I had, so I kept waiting. This year, it’ll be worse since there aren’t even 14 viable starting QBs. No matter what, I’ll be weak somewhere.

Streaming defenses will be way more difficult too.

I guess I just gotta find some way to appease the fantasy gods.

Puzzle and Addiction

I got into Puzzle & Dragons because my friends were playing it. I skipped out on the last craze, Candy Crush Saga, so I decided to give into peer pressure for this one.

Lots of games take their cues from gambling, trying to hook you with variable rewards. This game literally has a slot machine. Haha. Every so often, I’m even tempted to pump money into it. But I haven’t.

There doesn’t seem to be that much skill involved until you get to the higher levels. You start having to pay more attention to team composition. I also started playing a Horus-Horus team which requires matching at least 4 different colors in order to get an attack bonus. Not only is it fun smashing things, but it also requires a bit more thinking to play (which I enjoy).

The shittiest part of the game is getting particular evolution materials. Some of them are hard to get because you need to get lucky when they drop, and the dungeons take up a lot of stamina. Once your stamina is gone, you can’t play anymore until it recharges (1 stamina for every 10 minutes, I think). And, you’re frustrated as hell because you only need one damn thing, so frustrated that you’re almost tempted to spend money on the game in order to get stamina back. That is, you would, if you weren’t so pissed off at the game and didn’t want to play anymore anyway.

The Wire, finally

“You come at the king, you best not miss.” – Omar

I’m finally watching The Wire. I don’t know why it’s taken me this long considering that 1) I have lived in Baltimore, and 2) I’m a TV snob. Once you get through the first few episodes, you get really hooked. I can definitely see why a lot of people consider it the best TV show ever.

Of the other TV shows I’ve watched, it actually reminds me the most of Game of Thrones. Schemes, politics, cunning, stupidity, corruption, honor, death… it’s all there. I guess all of this is just human nature. But I guess the comparison is the hyper-realism, despite Game of Thrones being in a fantasy setting. Good and evil aren’t embodied in clear-cut archetypes, and this isn’t a simple morality play. (Not that simple morality plays are bad; I love fables.) What also impresses me about The Wire is how a lot of the conflict comes from the different goals and personalities of the characters; nothing feels manufactured just to drive the plot along. It’s also dense… that is, there’s a lot there. You constantly have to see what’s being unsaid to figure out what’s going on. There’s lots of foreshadowing. And you constantly are reminded of parallels between the two worlds. I haven’t even got to the way it explores various themes.

I’m only partway through the first season, and while I normally don’t care about spoilers, I’d actually appreciate being able to see the full story as intended. I like trying to puzzle my way through and figure things out as I go along. Thanks.

Rat Versus the Big Apple

Because Lloyd requested that this be posted somewhere less ephemeral than Twitter, I am blogging about this game: Rat Versus the Big Apple. This originally began as Erin’s “hastily-written, insanely stressful Java project.” I requested the source code, ported it to JavaScript (along with some refactoring), added some CSS, and now the whole world can play this wonderful adventure game. Enjoy.

The source code is also available as open-source on GitHub. It can be easily modified to create one’s own adventure game. Maybe I’ll make an adventure-game maker.

Oh and the game should look great on iPhone and any other smart phone. I’ll post about the technical stuff at some other time (and probably not on this blog).

Journey

I finally got to play through Journey. The game is absolutely gorgeous. Sometimes you have to take a break from playing to just look around and admire the scenery. I don’t think it was as much an emotional experience for me as I’ve read it was for other people. I guess because I was cracking jokes about wrench bottoms sticking out from the sand and scarf trains.

My partner for much of the game was a really nice white cloak. He (or she) showed me the secret murals and scarf-growing lights, but still let me discover for myself the various main puzzles. He’d just wander off and then come flying back when I was ready to go. It was a very pleasant experience having someone so cooperative and considerate.

Much of my enjoyment of the game, other than the scenery, came from the wordless interaction. My favorite moment was when I was playing around with the joystick, jerking it back and forth, making my character move around in a wacky way. My robed dude tripped and fell on the ground. I thought it was hilarious. Then, my partner moved around a bit and tripped too. I imagined that he was like, “Wait, you can trip?” and then tried it out. At another point, my partner tripped at the beginning of a cut-scene, hilariously undercutting the grandeur of the moment. I also really enjoyed the part where you’re sliding through the sand and the light is shining so bright; it’s so beautiful.

I trudged through the snow with my partner, hugging a rock wall. I’m not sure whose decision it was. Was he following me? Was I following him? I just started walking along the wall and never stopped. Those at Dev’s watching me play, mentioned that you usually go through the center of the valley and have to evade the giant beast with the light. By hugging the wall, we avoided all that.

Towards the end, when you fall in the snow, I thought my partner was gone. I flew through the air, riding giant ribbon birds, ready to finish the game. Then, I found my partner, waiting for me. It was rather surprising, especially considering that I had taken my sweet time getting there. We went the rest of the way with each other, eventually walking into the light together. Stevie said we were cute.