The Caffeinated Penguin

musings of a crackpot hacker

Sarah McLachlan antidote post

| December 28, 2010

They keep running those sad ASPCA commercials during the Christmas movies while I’m trying to paint tanks. So, here are some happy critter pictures. (more…)

Christmas goings-on, and a bit of catching up…

| December 28, 2010

  • Lizzy got me a copy of Back to the Future, of which we played a couple games this morning. It is quite a good game. It is by the same guys who did Fluxx, which I also recommend.

  • My mother in law got me a copy of Munchkin Quest, which we played last night. Also, a very good game. The board is dynamic, being played as you explore, with the tiles being double-sided, so each game ends up being different.

  • After a month with our new stove:

    New Stove

    New Stove

    I have to say that it is quite wonderful. The center griddle is the perfect side for cooking grilled cheese or steaks for two, and the larger burners are excellent for high-heat applications (bringing things to a boil, stir fry, etc.). The temperature regulation is also vastly superior to the old range, as it doesn’t have the cycle on/cycle off problem which plagues electric stoves. As we now have a consistent heat source, I also picked up a Lodge 5qt dutch oven for use in frying applications. We’ve used it to make a batch of superlative chicken wings.

  • Diesel got a Christmas Goose:

    Diesel's Christmas Goose

    Diesel's Christmas Goose

    Diesel's Christmas Goose

    Diesel's Christmas Goose

    He’s been being very good this year, and has adjusted well to life here. We’ve been bringing him around to Liz’s folks’ house, where he is happy to just be with people and hang out. He is a very good dog.

  • We’ve been experimenting with growing herbs and greens indoors during the winter. We have lettuce and typicak kitchen herbs (parsley, basil, etc.)

    Indoor Garden

    Indoor Garden

    This has led to us growing Borage, as it came in a collection of herbs used for tea. It does make a nice tea (not unlike a hybrid of cucumber and watermelon) and the younger leaves are nice in a salad. The older ones end up getting a little prickly/hairy.

  • Happy Christmas Tree:

    Christmas Tree

    Christmas Tree

    Christmas Tree

    Christmas Tree

    This year, we got some of these plastic Christmas balls. Cats knocking off cheap glass ornaments is one thing – they’re typically smart enough to not step on the glass. However, puppy paws? Not so good. These end up essentially being large ping-pong balls. So, they just bounce. Definitely a good decision.

  • This year, Liz and I did most of our shopping on Amazon during black Friday. Therefore, this scene greeted her one day upon her return home from work:
    Pile of parcels

    Pile of parcels

Lawn Darts

| December 26, 2010

So, some time ago, I learned that Lawn Darts were actually banned. (CPSC page).

Out of control nanny state.

I should probably mention… and computers..

| December 26, 2010

That I’m going through old emails, catching up on my reading. A lot of it includes “things about which I should blog”, so expect to see a bunch.

Growing up, I had a Tandy 1000TX. It was a good machine, in many ways a lot better than the actual IBM machines – the video had more colors than just the 4 color CGA, while being backwards compatible with it. It had dedicated joystick ports (these were round, and looked like the keyboard ports of the time, as opposed to the later 15 pin trapezoidal joystick connectors), and a much better sound chip. I was surprised, however, to learn later that they were clones of the IBM PCjr. I actually acquired one of these some years later, as part of a drop off of a pile of equipment, but it was missing all the peripherals which went with it, so I scrapped it.

Still, an interesting piece of history.

“Enterprise Ready”

| December 26, 2010

Some months ago, I discovered at work that my email was over quota.

Q: Why do we have email quotas?

A: We set them on the server because after some amount of space, Outlook/Exchange corrupts your mailbox, and we’d much rather have that corruption happen on your desktop than on the server.

Q: Well, it’s nice to know that Microsoft’s products are so “enterprise ready”, considering that I’ve had multi-gigabyte mailboxes stored on Unix machines over the past fifteen years or so and not had an issue.

Do ya feel lucky, punk…

| December 26, 2010

I’m watching Magnum Force, as Liz got me the Dirty Harry collection for Christmas. Already watched Dirty Harry… They did a very good job remastering it. Dirty Harry shows quite a lot of film grain – this one is much better. The enormous ’70 cars with super squishy suspensions are hilarious.

Christmas Miracle

| December 23, 2010

So, I’m driving to work this morning, and bang a right heading down Eastline towards work.

The car in front of me slows. There is a dog in the other lane. Beautiful all white American Bulldog. Just hanging out, sniffing the breeze. The car in front of me carefully goes around the dog, and continues on.

I stop, and lean on the horn.

There is an oncoming car.

I’m still on the horn.

The car is still coming.

The car hits the dog. The dog goes under, yelps, whines. At least the front wheel goes over the dog – the back one might have too, I didn’t see.

The car continues on.

I pull over, expecting to pull the crash blanket, bundle the dog, and rush him to the vet that’s a mile up the street.

Except there is no dog.

I ask the lady who pulled over behind me where the dog went.

It went towards the house. I can hear the lady telling her dogs to come in.

I go up the drive and tell her that her white dog was just hit by a car. She looks surprised. Through the glass door, I see the dog, barking and jumping, because there are people in her yard.

The dog’s owner looks like she doesn’t believe me, but the other lady has followed me and corroborates my story.

There are three possible explanations for this:

  1. That is one tough dog.
  2. Saturns have no mass.
  3. Christmas miracle.

Now, there is some credence to the low-mass Saturn theory. The car in question was a mid ’90’s Saturn, of the SL2 type, maroon in color. The listed curb weight for the car is 2440 lbs – a full 400lbs lighter than my Golf, which is actually a smaller car.. and it had serious rust problems, so it’s likely lighter than that 2440 at this point.

However, I’m going on Christmas miracle.

Oh, and regarding the other driver.

Physics dictates to me that there’s no way he was going 55 when he hit the dog. However, there was no squeal of tires, and I didn’t see the nose on the car drop. Maybe you didn’t see the dog. Inattentiveness, I can forgive. Maybe your brakes were crap. Poor vehicle maintenance, I can forgive.

But you didn’t stop. You kept driving.

Mister Maroon Saturn, I hope you die cold and alone, unloved and empty.

For everyone else, hug your loved ones. Let them know how much you love them. Play fetch with your doggies, snuggle with your kitties, and have a Merry Christmas.

Gaming

| December 19, 2010

So, I was poking about on DriveThruRPG and happened across Majestic 12 Games. Their catalog is impressive – they have games to address all of the genres in which I’m interested (and some in which I am not), and the systems purport to be universal – most including rules for creating your own in a balanced fashion. They also have demo rules available for most (all?) of their games. Now, whether or not their rules suit me is a different matter – I don’t know, I’m still reading the demo rules.

All that said, if anyone has any suggestions, I’m open to them. I like simple to play but tactically complex games – all the math should be front-loaded into unit generation. I’d prefer something much less complex than Warhammer 40K – something that is quick for new players to pick up.

Currently, I’m using:

  • Small scale (6mm) – Nothing
  • Large scale (25mm) – Nothing
  • Space Ships – Full Thrust
  • Propeller Driven Aircraft – Crimson Skies – though it is an airplane game without altitude, which is a little weird. It is also out of print, which I hate doing to players. Oh, here’s this great game.. and you can’t get the rules. You can still buy the minis, but not the rules. Something which allows for both these aircraft and historical aircraft would be interesting.

I’m also playing Warmachine, but that’s kind of its own category.

Watching Bones…

| December 19, 2010

Mayhem on a Cross.

The soundtrack is nice.

And I love Bones’s take on Psychiatrists.

deja vu

| December 18, 2010

Okay, so PDFs kind of suck. They’ve added so much crap to them that they’ve got a pantload of possible vulnerabilities, and the format has become so overgrown that trying to find a program that isn’t acrobat reader that can consistently read all variations is impossible. Evince, for example, while generally quite good (and indeed, my default reader) can’t read anything coming out of Pinnacle Entertainment Group.

Enter djvu. It is a new(er) document format designed primarily to allow for space-efficient representation of scanned documents. It has more uses beyond that, however:

  • It decompresses very quickly, making it excellent for mobile devices.
  • It generally takes up the same amount or less space than a comparable PDF. Again, good for mobile devices and the internet.

So, uhm, use .djvu more. The more folks who use it, the more vendors will support it.

Just like .ogg.