Monthly Archives: August 2013

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).


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.


I believe in ghosts, but not in a literal fashion.1 There are no actual spectral creatures that haunt the night. Instead, ghosts are echoes of people we once knew, or those others once knew.

A person doesn’t even have to be dead to be a ghost. All those posts in your facebook timeline from old college acquaintances? Ghosts “haunting” you. Not all ghosts are creepy.

The strongest ghosts are those we once knew well and not that long ago. Their presence is strong, and we can imagine them so clearly.2 I am lucky enough to not have seen many of those. But I’m sure I’ll see some before I’m ready.

I once saw faint ghosts at Gettysburg, hiding behind the rocks. I didn’t know them well enough to know what they were thinking, or even to know exactly where they were, but I saw them all the same. The ground is sacred, and the ghosts will there for a long time — as long as there are those who can remember.

Other ghosts we know only from whispers, or only see out of the corner of our eyes. They haunt the periphery, but we still see how active they are. And sometimes, you even get to see them full on. At that point, what do you do? Do you poke, prod, shout? Do you question and study? Do you ignore it? Do you run away? Do you see it and move on? The responses are as varied as the responses to literal ghosts in movies and TV.

Some ghosts we live with and make peace. Some ghosts are banished with ritual and gusto (ex-lovers, ex-dictators and disgraced sports stars, mainly). Some merely fade away as we move on and forget.

There are ghosts everywhere. People leaving our lives all the time. Some day, we will disappear too. And all that’s left will be dust, echoes, and whispers.

1Similarly, even though I’m an atheist, I still use the term soul. There is no literal heaven where literal souls reside after detaching from our bodies. But terms like heart, brain, and mind are insufficient for capturing the essence of what soul means. So, I’m stuck with it. Even if atheists don’t believe in gods, the sacred still exists.

2At some point, I need to re-read I Am a Strange Loop. These ghosts are pure metaphors and flights of imagination. It fits in with a theory of mind that was once more defined for me, but now is more inchoate.