The Misadventures of Quinxy truths, lies, and everything in between!

3Feb/160

My Agile Sprint Code Naming Scheme

The idea is heavily borrowed from Washington, DC's street naming scheme (which is totally awesome, and uses alphabetical items and number of syllables and single letters to let you know where you are in the city), Google's Android naming scheme (alphabetical), etc...

Pick a category of thing.  For the purposes of clarity here I'll pick animals.  We then go in alphabetical order coming up with animal names.  First we go through single syllable names, then double. then triple (obviously you may never make it having switched to another object type or another system, but this is the concept).  If you can't think of a matching animal for those conditions, skip to the next letter and try again.

And the size of the object identifies the scale of the sprint.  A minor sprint is identified by (in this case) an animal that can be comfortably carried by a human.  A major sprint is identified by an animal that cannot be comfortably carried by a human.

So, using that logic and an animal as the category, you could have:

  1. Ant (minor sprint)
  2. Boar (major sprint)
  3. Cat (minor sprint)
  4. Deer (major sprint)
  5. etc.
9Jan/160

What to Do with an Unneeded Car Hauler – Build a Man Cave

After moving across country from California and buying a car hauler to haul my stuff and motorcycles, I have wondered what to do with it.  Here's my current plan...

I can work on my three motorcycles, and play video games with a MAME cabinet.

When I'll get around to building this is another matter.
converting_trailer_to_man_cave

23Dec/150

Newegg Shenanigans and Nonsense

Once upon a time the place to buy PC hardware was Newegg.  Their selection was great, their prices were good, their shipping speed was good, and their community was fantastic.  But my last few experiences have soured me on them.

A few weeks ago I bought a new SSD hard drive from Newegg.  They had it for a good price.  It happened to come with a free Assassin's Creed game; I did not care about the game and have no intention of ever playing it (I haven't liked the previous Assassin's Creed games).  Instead of getting one invoice for the purchase (I only clicked a buy button once, so I expected only one invoice) I got two.  Once invoice was for the game and showed me paying full price for it ($59.99).  The other invoice was for the SSD and it had a $59.99 discount on it.  I call shenanigans!  Clearly Newegg is helping Ubisoft (the makers of Assassin's Creed) boost their software sales numbers by making it seem like more people wanted and paid full price for the game than they did.  That seems pretty shady, though certainly not unheard of.  What I'm more offended by is that their implementation of the scam means I get twice the emails related to a purchase as I would receive and have to spend a couple of minutes figuring out what is going on (e.g., "Why did I just get charged for a game I was told is free?").

And just today I made a purchase with Newegg for a build-your-own gaming computer only to have my one order divided after purchase into four separate invoices, each charged separately, with three emails to confirm my purchase, three emails to tell me I've been charged, three emails from PayPal telling me I was charged, three tracking/shipping/download emails, and another three emails related to the sale (a free game coupon from Newegg as part of it, a Google Trusted Store confirmation email, and something else).  I got fifteen emails within ten hours as a result of placing a single order.  And they have engaged in more shenanigans by they giving me a free game but then insisting on charging me $0.99 on an additional invoice only to then deduct that $0.99 from a separate invoice.  Because of how they've split the orders up, performed their freebie shenanigans, applied coupons, etc. it's needlessly complicated to know if I've been properly charged and what I actually bought.  I'm sure Newegg has technical, financial, and logistics reasons for doing what they are doing, but it's onerous and absurd, something I would have expected in 1999, not 2015.  I can't think of any Amazon or other purchase experience which has been this convoluted.

Q

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6Dec/150

Christmas is Dead, Long Live Christmas

My mom made Christmas everything it was.  Even well into my twenties and thirties, it continued to be the high point of my year, from her phenomenal decorations, to her elaborate meals, to her thoughtful gifts.  She made everyone feel the spirit of the holidays, and made us all so very happy.  Sadly, those Christmases ended in 2010 or so as dementia began to strip her nature from her.  This year things have progressed to the point that she no longer seems to know who I am, beyond being vaguely familiar.  So it is hard not to feel a bit lost during the holiday season.  So much that was good is gone.  And without her leading the seasonal charge, it's hard to know what to do.  I do not feel up to the challenge of replacing her.  But this year I did want to try to do something special for her, to try and prove that her legacy continues, that I can take on the responsibility, that I can carry on her traditions.  In reality it is too little and too late, but the effort gives me a bit of peace and I am hoping that there might be some flicker of remembrance, or at least some novel joy.

To this end, the first step in my Christmas plans was to erect the biggest Christmas light display I could.  I've never decorated the outside of a house for Christmas, but I felt inspired to try and run lights up the large 70' tree in our front yard.  I wanted to turn it into a virtual Christmas tree, running the lights up as high as I could.  I spent a few weeks planning it and today spent all day today doing it.  I strung lights up in the shape of a Christmas tree, 50' height with a twinkling start at the top.

Originally my plan was to use a small drone of mine to fly some fishing line up and over the desired branch.  After a few test flights it became clear that approach was going to fail.  I would most likely end up with the drone stuck in the tree; the wind up there between the branches is unstable and the fishing easily snags.  I then tried simply throwing a baseball, with fishing line attached, over the desired branch.   But, throwing vertically is much harder than horizontally, none of my throws went quite where I wanted, and after ten or so the ball became permanently snagged on a branch about 40' up.  I finally realized I needed to use a bow and arrow.  I ran to the store and bought a "Lil Squaw" $20 children's bow and arrow set.  I stuck tennis balls on the ends of the included arrows and attached the fishing line.  I nailed it on my fourth shot; technically I got it on my first, but that arrow overshot a bit and joined the baseball as a permanent resident of the tree.

After a few hours of running lights, I was done...  The video fails to capture the real beauty of the scene.

^ Q

4Dec/150

The Penis that Won the Wrestling Match

I hate crude humor, with very few exceptions.  And today I found one of those few exceptions and I laughed harder than I have in six months.

I think what I generally dislike about crude humor is not its crudity but its sheer laziness.  Why would a kick to the groin or a loud fart or a belch provoke hilarity in and of itself?  There is nothing creative or surprising about them, and for me humor requires creativity and surprise.

And then along comes this masterpiece, and a penis wins a wrestling match...

The man with the masterful manhood gives a fantastic and intelligent interview describing his character and how this wrestling move came to be.

^ Q

 

1Dec/153

So many computers, so many years… I miss the magic.

Recently I was waiting for files to be migrated to a new hard drive and couldn't escape a sense of ennui.  Buying a new computer or upgrading an old one just doesn't induce the same excitement it once did, what was once fun now feels largely tedious.  Curious about the nature of the problem, the reason for the shift in my perception, I began to jot down a list of the computers I've owned.  And within a few minutes I had compiled a list of just over 30 computers...  These were my personal, daily-use computers; I didn't include in that count any servers,  computers I bought for others, etc.  And this number also didn't include personal devices, which can require equal amounts of fuss and bother (between smartphones, tablets, and Android sticks I'm sure there have been at least 15).

No wonder I sometimes feel bored with it all, tired of migrating, fixing, backing up, restoring, worrying about...

Still, it was fun to remember some of the good old days, and some of the more exotic computers.  From my earliest days on my Vic-20 and tape drives, up through the Commodore 64, 64c, and 128 and 5 1/4" floppy disks, the Tandy PC-6 (a pocket computer), then into the Amiga 2000 and it's 3.5" drive and ultimately 20 MB hard drive, then through the Amiga's Bridgeboard into the world of IBM clones, to an early Sager laptop, a custom machine I built to be rackmounted in an SKB music case, the brilliantly small Toshiba Libretto, a fantastic custom lunchbox computer, the Sharp Zaurus, the OQO Model 02, and on...  I wonder what it would take for a new computer to blow me away as so many of the aforementioned did.  I wonder if it's even possible, computers don't seem to make leaps and bounds as they once did, they are now just a pleasantly dull churn of improvements.

^ Q

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24Nov/151

The Upside Down Moon

Some minor moments in life stun you.  Today I learned that the moon looks upside down in the southern hemisphere.  Having lived in Buenos Aires for almost a year I am embarrassed that I either never noticed or just forgot.

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23Nov/152

Modern Flat Track Roller Derby Sucks

I assumed I would love modern "flat track" roller derby.  I was vaguely aware of its previous incarnation (of the 1940s through 1970s) and it seemed pretty exciting.  When I heard it was back and that it had come back led by women and free any ugly sexism, that was supposed to have been a part of it before, I thought, "Great!"  A few years ago when I was in Los Angeles some friends were going and I had planned to go along, but at the last minute I couldn't.  Without any roller derby near me, and without any friends who go, it just slipped from my attention.  And then the other night as a tangent to searching for roller skating videos on YouTube (after watching the so-bad-it's-good Roller Boogie movie) I clicked over to see just what a modern roller derby match looked like.

Ugh.  It was awful.  I had no idea what the rules were.  I tried figuring it out by watching, but it made little sense.  And it was just quite possibly the most boring sport I've ever tried to watch (arguably worse than curling, snooker, and sheep herding).  Any strategy or logic in flat track roller derby seemed so subtle as to be irrelevant, and despite little of interest seeming to happen the score incomprehensibly climbed faster than any sport I have ever seen (almost 2 points/minute).

Here's what I observed (my impressions before subsequently reading the rules)...

A person or two standing like they were at a starting line.  A few clumps of people in front of them, one clump five feet or so ahead, another clump ten feet or so ahead.  And then the single people run at the group of people, get caught up, and very likely get pushed out of bounds, at which point they go back to where they started.  And this just repeats itself ad infinitum.  Occasionally the single people do get past a clump of people, but instead of zooming super fast away or this being the start of something dramatic, the person goes just a few feet and then slows down and returns to the starting line.  Whoopie?

The biggest thing I don't understand about modern flat track roller derby is, they've gotten rid of speed, they've gotten rid of a feeling of motion and dynamism, so why have they bothered to keep the players on roller skates?  It feels unnecessary and forced.  If the argument is that skates make the game harder, well, sure, but why not just play on a slippery surface or wear slippery socks?  Roller skates are made to allow people to go fast, to be graceful, to be able to go big distances.  The old roller derby clearly understood the purpose of roller skates.  But this modern flat track derby requires none of these roller skate features.

I ended up glancing at the rules of scoring, and learned that all points are earned by a team's designated "jammer" passing members of the opposing team (not including their jammer); and both jammers I gather are active on the track at the same time.

And so I wondered, what happened?  Why was I expecting this to be exciting?  Had I misunderstood what roller derby used to be?  I clicked on a YouTube video of a 1950 New Jersey vs. Philadelphia roller derby match (separate male and female matches) and wow, it was as I thought, that game made sense, that game was much more fun to watch, stuff actually happened!  The people were constantly in motion circling the track, which is somewhat enjoyable to watch in and of itself, and because everyone is already at speed they can then do a great many interesting things to try to move the jammer forward, like one or more people sacrificing their own speed/energy to propel their jammer forward, by whipping them forward with their arms.  Also because they were at speed and the track is banked people can quickly fly to the inside or outside of the track to try and get by, akin to auto racing.  And because there was an outside railing the jammers are not constantly going out of bounds every two seconds and needing to restart.

I assume that the primary reason the sport has become so insufferably boring is because of the elimination of the banked track.  Moved out of the velodrome, speed is severely limited.  At speed the centrifugal force would fling anyone not paying attention out of bounds.  With a flat track you could not have people smoothly loop the track because every turn would be a chaotic mess.  No doubt they moved the sport out of the velodrome because velodromes are hard to find, and they were able to broaden the sport as a result.  But, having gotten rid of the banked track they had to get rid of the constant circling motion of the teams, and having gotten rid of that, well, everyone is mostly just standing around in slippery shoes.  Maybe some rule changes could have compensated, made the sport still interesting, but I don't know.

^ Q

20Nov/151

The Vegetarian on the Mouse Killing Spree

I'm in a miserably hypocritical state these days.  Fall has come, mice have invaded my home and my car, and I have had to commit myself to their destruction. As someone who has spent 25 years not eating meat and tens of thousands of dollars keeping animals I love alive through veterinary care, I now feel like one of the evilest people alive having to kill mice, who under other circumstances I would find utterly adorable and worthy of my protection.  But I feel I have run out of options.

I spent countless hours a few years ago trying to mouse proof my house, digging a trench around the base of the house and burying aluminum flashing a foot deep and sticking up a foot to prevent their entry.  I found other holes inside the home and sealed them with copper mesh and expanding foam.  I have spent something like $500 on mouse deterring sonic devices.  I spent another $100-200 for mouse deterring sprays, powders, and granules.  None of my actions have ever kept them away, they have remained a recurring presence.  And so with reluctance I have had to turn to far more severe measures: killing them in traps.

Killing them does not come easy.  For many years I trapped and released mice using Havahart traps, but with the rise of the hantavirus that no longer seems like a wise or viable solution.  The mice in my house are deer mice, and statistically 14% carry a very deadly Sin Nombre hantavirus; 36% of people who catch the hantavirus and show symptoms die within 5 weeks of exposure.  All it takes to catch the virus is inhaling the aerosolized vapors from recent mouse urine or feces (recent being within one week).  And mice produce a neverending supply of urine and droppings.  You can simply walk into a room where a mouse has defecated within the last week and in five weeks you are dead; since this happens all the time and people do not die, clearly there are other factors reducing the odds, but the fact remains that is all it takes.  Given that the risk of infection is so serious you are supposed to wear a P100 mask, goggles, gloves, and booties to be in the presence of these mice or their feces I do not see how one could safely transport and release the mice.  If you have ever live caught mice you know that: the traps are not air tight (they need to breath), they defecate and urinate quite a lot once caught (out of fear or frustration), and you cannot release them in your own back yard (they will simply return to your house).  As such, trying to live trap and release deer mice seems like a recipe for hantavirus infection.  Killing seems required.

As for my mouse killing protocol, I have tried to make it as "fair" as possible, erecting the equivalent of warning signs at mouse height.  Much like an East German border crossing of the 1960s, I do my best to scare the mice off before I demonstrate my uncompassionate, sadistic willingness to kill them.  Each killing trap is placed within the presence of one or more deterrent products meant to warn him off.  The mouse must ignore the ultrasonic sirens blaring only feet away and the almighty stench of the aromatic oils they are clinically proven to hate.  Only after ignoring those do they reach the trap and die.

I keep trying to comfort myself with the knowledge that life is hypocrisy.  Despite my avoiding meat and catching and releasing the odd bug, I accept that I am directly and indirectly responsible for the deaths of hundreds or thousands of animals, insects, and other living creatures a year.  I walk to get the mail and must crush bugs under foot without a thought.  I drive down the road and dead insects cake themselves on the windshield.  I eat carrots fresh from fields where no doubt tractors made roadkill of moles.  Simply being alive requires the direct and indirect killing of teeming masses of other creatures; there's just no way around it.  So, maybe I should face those realities and feel no special qualms about my direct involvement here...  But it is not easy, it haunts me, grieves me.  When I see their lifeless body I see my dog, I remember my hamster, I connect with my feeling cold when camping and just wanting to find a shelter.  I wish them no harm, and yet I bring them death.  And I say I grieve for them, and I do, but clearly not enough to not set the next trap;  I feel like a monster.  And I suppose that is good on some level, to feel so horrible.  Blithely accepting the killing of those we can relate to has led to countless historical atrocities.  I take slight comfort that I am not likely to be the next Hitler, Stalin, or Mao.

In perceived defense of my life, I kill.  No activity is more fundamental to our natures than that, I suppose.  What a pity that it comes to that.

^ Q

 

 

31Oct/150

Should You Sit Next to a Woman in a Niqab?

Saw an article today celebrating a lad for sitting next to a woman in a niqab (full muslim covering); apparently other commuters in the subway were choosing not to occupy the seat next to her.  The article perplexed me because everyone was assuming the motive of the commuters is negative and that seems unjust and unlikely.  If I were in that subway car I would also not have sat next to her, opting to stand, if required.  But I would not be doing so out of disgust, dislike, or disagreement, quite the opposite.  I would have thought that was the response she desired.  Wearing the full niqab strongly suggests that she is very observant/devout, and from what I have gathered there is considerable separation by gender within the observant/devout communities; many women only being able to be seen uncovered by their husband and close relatives, many women only being able to travel when escorted (and only then with a man related to her), women and men praying separately, etc.  Why on earth would I imagine that a woman in a niqab would want a male stranger sitting directly next to her?  (The general population seems only to barely tolerate strangers sitting next to them.)  So, I'm very confused about what one is supposed to do in this situation...  The woman in this situation said "thank you", so apparently his sitting there was welcome, but is that generally true?

(I have spent quite a bit of time in Amish and Mennonite country and I do the same with them.  They choose to live apart, as evidenced by their ways and dress, so I try and honor their apartness by not forcing myself upon them.  The last thing they seem to want is to engage with others who are different from them.)

Q

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