The Flying Ghoti: Unintelligent Design at work.
Saturday the Eighth of May, Twenty Ten
Physics, don't fail me now.
Ah. Apparently the bottom piece of my tart tin is exactly as big as my sauté pan. I discovered this doing the dishes just now, when I managed to get the former completely and utterly jammed into the latter—so well jammed, in fact, that it formed a watertight seal, so that there's water trapped between the tart tin and the bottom of the sauté pan. I tried lubricating it with soap and olive oil, but they're well and truly stuck together. Just now I had a brainstorm, which was to put it in the freezer—although I'm not sure what kind of metal it's made of, I'm guessing the tart tin should contract more quickly than the sauté pan, hopefully just enough to free it. Even if that fails, then the water stuck between the two should freeze and expand, pushing the tart tin up from underneath. I might lose the sauté pan, if the tart tin scrapes the non-stick coating off, but at least I'll get the tart tin back.
condescendingly posted by Martin Marks at 6:15 in the evening // five comments by:
Friday the Seventh of May, Twenty Ten
If you don't know what any of this means, keep it that way.
Which is worse: that I find myself kind of wanting there to be DS9 slash featuring Miles O'Brien and Julian Bashir, or that I find myself kind of wanting their ship name to be "Million"?
The Moral: I Hate The Internet.
bashfully posted by Martin Marks at 12:07 at night // eight comments by:
Tuesday the Fourth of May, Twenty Ten
Today we learned that her officemates don't clean up their dirty dishes, and that's why they have mice.
I had another very good ASL class today. The vocab binge continued unabated, with us taking a wander through the school's offices and learning the names for all sorts of useless objects. Still, I think we're starting to get away from the really stupid questions that are inevitable when you have virtually no vocabulary, like "what color is your shirt?" (If that question sounds stupid in English, think about the fact that I learned how to ask it in sign language.) But much more interesting was the fact that our teacher has taken the kid gloves off and started just yammering away nonstop. If you really, really concentrate, it's more or less possible to keep the thread, but blink and you're lost for the next ten minutes. And it's certainly frustrating not being able to reply, except by fingerspelling. But still, it's really fun to have even half of an extended conversation in a new language by the fourth meeting! Obviously she's taking it easy on us, but still.
peevishly posted by Martin Marks at 10:52 in the evening // six comments by:
Sunday the Second of May, Twenty Ten
It occurs to me that I have failed to mention that I started studying ASL a couple weeks ago! I felt like I needed to flex my language organ, and I've been fascinated by sign for a long time. It's grammatically more distant from English than any language I've ever studied, for the obvious reason that it explores a completely different communication channel. Imagine being able to say two words at the same time, or to come up with a nonce word that meant "a very twisty stream that widens out into a straight river"!
I've had three classes now, and it's been going pretty well so far. Probably not a surprise I'm finding it a bit slow-moving; I already knew fingerspelling, and this is the
fifth sixth language I've studied in depth, so I sort of know the drill at this point. But it's still interesting and challenging. It's the first intro class I've had that was almost completely immersive save for some writing on the board—which of course makes more sense for ASL than a spoken language, since a reasonable portion of the signs are iconic and there's a pretty easy transition from signing to miming when necessary. We're just now getting into the real vocabulary-binge part of any intro course, which is where I always start to get a bit frustrated (vocabulary is the most boring thing about any language). But it's a necessary phase to get into the really fun stuff. And we're already starting to explore some of the really interesting bits, at least in passing, because ASL grammar's fundamental interestingness is so pervasive. You can study Spanish for months, even years, before you get into any grammar more complicated than "adjectives come after nouns instead of before". There's really interesting grammar to be found in Spanish, but you have to get way into the murky depths of its verbal system before you start seeing them. With ASL you need to start dealing with things like topicalization from day one.
Anyway, I have become absurdly addicted to Stephen Torrence's ASL translations of Jonathon Coulton as a result of this. I will someday learn to sing along with "I Feel Fantastic". There is absolutely no reason on this planet why that ability will do me any good whatsoever, but I have set my sights on stupider goals in my time.
(Also, has anyone else noticed that a lot of JoCo songs don't actually make any sense unless you know what they're about already? Like "I'm Your Moon", which I probably listened to a dozen times without ever realizing it was anything other than a pretty love song with some very strange imagery until I found out it was from the point of view of Charon. Or "Blue Sunny Day", which has like two lines that make it a song about a vampire, and at least one of those could easily be a metaphor.)
playfully posted by Martin Marks at 1:10 at night // seven comments by:
Friday the Thirtieth of April, Twenty Ten
Today's Brilliant Idea That Will Make Us All a Million Dollars:
I kind of like this one, actually. It's kind of a mix of Sleep Is Death, Zork, Dungeons & Dragons, and Chatroulette, and if that doesn't pique your interest I don't know what will.
I bought Sleep Is Death recently, but I haven't actually played it yet, for a couple reasons. One is that developing a complete and compelling visual environment is just dang hard, even with the best possible tools (which SID, as a low-budget indie game, does not have). The other is that you have to actually find someone else who owns the game to play with, and you both have to block a chunk out of your schedules so you can both be online at the same time. Yet despite its flaws, the idea behind SID is brilliant: one player plays one character, and the other plays the universe, and together the two of them tell a story. In the shower just now, I got to thinking about what my own interactive storytelling game might look like, and I think I might just have something.
It would be online and text-based, for starters, because that's how I roll. You'd go to a site and log in, and you'd see two text boxes, each representing a conversation. In one conversation, you would be the Narrator, and in the other you'd be the Protagonist. You'd be randomly assigned a different conversation partner for each of the two conversations. Essentially, you'd be a GM in the Narrator box and a PC in the Protagonist box. As the Protagonist, you could do anything you wanted within the universe created by the Narrator, and as the Narrator you'd create the consequences of the Narrator's actions. Like SID, it would be turn-based with about 30 seconds per turn, and the two conversations would flip-flop so that while you were the active party in the Narrator conversation you'd be waiting in your Protagonist conversation. It wouldn't be hard to expand it a bit to add a simple (and optional) skill-checking system of some kind, so that the Narrator could essentially roll the virtual dice to determine whether a Protagonist succeeds at something they're attempting, but the focus would definitely be more on telling an interesting story.
The system to assign conversation partners would not be completely random. At the end of each conversation, you'd have the ability to rate your partner, and to tag them with attributes like "Funny", "Combat-Oriented", "World-Builder", and "Uses Punctuation". Then at the start of your next story you'd be able to specify exactly what sort of partner you were looking for. If you get high ratings, you'd get conversation partners with high ratings, and vice versa—trolls and terrible storytellers would get winnowed out naturally. If you found a good conversation partner (or had a friend you wanted to play with) you could specify them as one of your conversation partners. (I think I'd want to design it so that one conversation was always with a random partner. I also might want it so that high-rated players get randomly assigned new players once in a while.)
It seems pretty straightforward from a design perspective, too. The system to pair two players would be somewhat complicated, but basically it would just be an Ajax-based live chat with a few embellishments.
So what do you think?
chimerically posted by Martin Marks at 8:57 in the evening // five comments by:
Thursday the Twenty-Ninth of April, Twenty Ten
Yes, I play female Sims.
For the record, The Sims 3 has a tremendously screwed up view of aging. Why is it that a ridiculously fit (level 10 athletic!) woman who eats extremely well (level 10 cooking!) would suddenly turn into a pudgy, doddering crone with a hunchback as soon as she becomes an "Elder"? With, I might add, a completely different dress sense? She had this whole boho-art-teacher look in red and black, which really worked for her, and then all of a sudden it was all yellow sweatshirts with pink sweatpants. It's the hunch that gets me, really, because even after I did my best to try and get her back into some decent outfits, everything hung on her like a burlap sack. I mean, it stores data on how much you work out and what you eat and so on, why can't it use that data to allow for the possibility of old people who don't make me want to take pity on them by putting them in a swimming pool with no ladders?
Honestly, if it were Bella's hard-living rock star wife, then I could sort of understand that. But come on, Bella spent her whole life as a cop, she worked out almost every day, she kept an organic garden, she kept her stress down with her painting—she did basically every healthy thing it's possible to do in The Sims. Hell, she hardly ever even sat down unless she was eating, writing a novel, or playing chess. She deserved better, is my point. This just isn't how I imagined her sunset years, you know? I guess you could argue that The Sims is just taking the whole life simulation concept to its logical conclusion by being totally unfair and arbitrary. Sigh.
(For the record, I hadn't played The Sims in like three months until I decided to give it another go last weekend. It's not consuming my life this time, I swear. Really.)
adverbially posted by Martin Marks at 12:36 at night // nineteen comments by:
Thursday the Twenty-Second of April, Twenty Ten
I don't know why this should be so difficult...
Anyone who can find me a reasonably comprehensive machine-readable list of English irregular plurals wins!
cannily posted by Martin Marks at 1:29 in the afternoon // one comment by: