ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
In order by first visit; * for multiple visits.

Seattle, WA*
Boston, MA*
Cambridge, MA*
Novi, MI
Ottawa, ON*
Gloucester, ON
Walnut Creek, CA
SeaTac, WA
Sunnyvale, CA
Steilacoom, WA*
Southfield, MI
Montreal, QC*
Madison, WI
St. Louis Park, MN
Quincy, MA
San Jose, CA
Brookline, MA
Breckenridge, CO
Munich, Germany

Airports (none new, connection-only marked by *): SEA, BOS, DTW, YOW, LGA*, SFO, BFI, SJC, SLC*, MSN, MSP, DEN, AMS*, MUC, CDG*. Travel was slightly down from usual, and much more repetitive than usual.
ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
These are from [personal profile] yhlee. I'm not sure I can come up with questions for others at the moment, so no promises if you comment.

1. What's your favorite city to visit?

No contest: London. The famous quote about being tired of London meaning you're tired of life is an understatement; even when I've been depressed (and tired of life) I've never tired of London.

The incredible number of museums alone makes the city hard to leave, though I have objections to the collection practices of some of them (*cough*British Museum [of stuff stolen from elsewhere]*cough*). Many are free admission with a suggested donation (which I often exceed), making it practical to dip into a museum if I just want to see one or two items without feeling like I've wasted money.

Add in a transit system I can experience in ways both historical and practical, good food (despite the stereotype of British cuisine), bookshops, parks, plays, and everything else and it's always tough to leave.

2. What is the nicest experience you've ever had at a hotel?

I'm utilitarian about my hotels; I want them to be clean, conveniently located, and not too expensive. I appreciate the occasional upgrades, even when ridiculously overdone; several times I've been upgraded to a 1 or even 2 bedroom suite for a trip where I was staying by myself!

Since I'm not coming up with any particular experience of note, I'll pivot to some of my favorite hotel features: in room mini fridges (increasingly common); in room hot tubs (increasingly rare; the Penguicon hotel removed them in the last renovation, apparently due to one too many overflows); TVs with easy to use inputs (or even better, streaming from your device; I've only seen that at one hotel so far); and sufficient seating (at least two comfy chairs, or one plus a couch).

3. What is your favorite animal that's not a friendly blue shark? :)

Otters! Intelligent, playful, supportive of each other (holding hands while they float together). Not a bad role model.

4. What is your favorite comfort food?

Two categories:
(a) that I can easily make or acquire: pasta, usually spaghetti with meat sauce.
(b) when visiting my parents: sauerbraten and dumplings.

5. Who is your favorite historical figure?

Assuming that "historical" is defined by "did not overlap with my lifetime" (because otherwise I wind up saying Fred Rogers), I'll go with Ignaz Semmelweis. He was right even though he wasn't believed despite the evidence, and it took years for his hypothesis to become accepted wisdom...but in the end his ideas have saved countless lives. (Not, sadly, his own; he died at 47 shortly after being committed to an asylum and beaten.)

I could also make a case for Nikola Tesla (in part because we share a birthday), though unlike Tesla I will never be played by David Bowie in a movie.
ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
I cannot, in good conscience, participate in the upcoming Arisia. One resignation is a good start, but systemic problems cannot be fixed by removing a single person's authority. It is clear from multiple reports that there have been significant failures to respond to safety situations over a number of years, and there is simply not enough time before January to identify (let alone fix) the issues that contributed to those failures.

I will not be attending Arisia 2019, and will therefore not participate in programming.
ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
I am seriously looking forward to Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War. I'm cautiously optimistic about Solo.

How about you?
ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
Posting this early since I don't plan to go anywhere in the next few hours. (For the first time in a number of years, I'm home over NYE.)

the full list of overnight places, 2017 )
ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
TL;DR: possibly the best open-world action-RPG I have played. If you have a PS4 and like open-world action-RPGs, buy this. If you don't have a PS4 and like open-world action-RPGs, you may want to get one; it's that good. I finished the game and immediately started a New Game+ so that I could re-run the early game dialogue with the full story in mind. (Spoiler post coming later, because I really want to talk about the worldbuilding and story.)


The open world design is great

The various zones open up in a natural progression, starting with your tribe's inner lands, then you leave into the wilder hunting lands, and eventually progress into other tribes' areas. The map is huge and varied, with beautiful terrain that ranges from woodlands to snowfields to desert.

It has the Ubisoft-style "climb towers to reveal the map" mechanic that's been around forever (I first encountered it in AC2), but instead of tall buildings or radio towers (which in Far Cry 3 always frustrated me by being platformer puzzles, so in FC4 I got good at landing the minicopter at the top instead of climbing the stupid things) they're giant robo-dino-giraffe things and the tricky part is figuring out how to get to the jumping-off point safely and then timing your jump onto it. Once you're on its back, it's a simple climb.

The visuals are amazing

Even on a PS4 non-Pro. the graphics are absolutely stunning. Mountain vistas, creature design, weather, flowing water, grass blowing in the's all there, and there's a photo mode so you can tweak a still shot if you want stunning desktop wallpaper....

Combat is good (ranged great, melee meh)

There are a wide range (heh) of ranged weapons; several bows (with specialty arrows for each and tradeoffs between range/rate of fire/damage), two slings (one for bombs and one for elemental damage), a tripwire-launcher (possibly my favorite), and a rope-launcher for tying down enemies so you can bash on them.

There's basically one melee weapon with a "light" and "heavy" attack, though the light attack can do extra damage under the right circumstances (stealth, downed enemy, attack from above, etc) if you have the skills to go with it. Mostly it's "go in, swing, dodge, swing, oh shit oh shit run".

Mission design is really well done

The main missions do have placeholder tasks throughout (find your gear, go here, go there, talk to Bob, exit the gate) but in those cases there was generally useful and interesting background dialogue to build the world/progress the story. The main tasks are a nice mix of combat, puzzle, exploration, etc.

Few of the side missions (usually a short chain) include fetch quests, and they're mostly "bring me the heart of the giant beast over there" rather than "bring me 20 bear asses" (TVTropes warning). (One of the earliest ones is a "bring me some rabbit meat" one, but that's practically a tutorial mission anyway....) Some of the sidequest givers are also really well done minor characters who I wish I could see more of; it's worth going back to cycle through their random responses, in many cases.

In almost all cases, it's possible to tackle any given mission/monster/etc in different ways. Combat types might just rush in; sneaky snakes can hide in tall grass and use stealth takedowns; trapmasters will set bombs and watch the fireworks; snipers will sit back and headshot. Or one might use a mix of those.

The writing and story is absolutely amazing

To the level of "this is getting one of my Hugo nomination slots next year" (as a Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form)). The dialogue is great. The datapoints scattered throughout the world are great. Characters. Plot. Everything. The latest patch adds a "Story" difficulty to make combat no longer a major issue.
ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
I started the year visiting friends, and ended it visiting my parents.

In between, there was much wandering. )
ckd: small blue foam shark (sharky classic)
It's at (I sense a great lack of surprise).

Since I have a Permanent Account here, this one won't go away completely but I'm seriously considering shifting new posts (what few I make) there since LJ's server move to Russia may be the tipping point for my social circles.

If you're also on DW, please comment here with your DW username and any other info you think would be useful (whether you're likely to crosspost back here, if there's an opt-in post for your filter groups, that sort of thing) and I'll set up the reading/access lists over there appropriately.

Comments screened; I'm using comments instead of a poll because I don't think ljdump grabs poll results and I want the info where I can easily sync it to something I control.
ckd: small blue foam shark (sharky classic)
Let's say I work for a company that does much of its work by email, and therefore has a number of mailing lists. In addition to work-related lists (team lists, project-related lists, etc), it has some general social lists.

One of those is, because someone really liked [ profile] naomikritzer's story. It's a fairly active list, and has become the center of the company's internal social network: everyone from new employees to the CEO reads it.

I post a cat picture. A perfectly reasonable cat picture just like all the rest; there's no harm being done to the cat, not even embarrassment.

Someone objects to my post. Maybe they don't like pictures of cats in front of windows because the latter reminds them of when their cat fell out of a window. Maybe they just hate my username because they lost a parent to chronic kidney disease. Maybe they roll a d20 every time they see a post, and if they roll a 1 they complain.

HR sends me an email saying "hey, can you stop posting to cat-pictures@? we got a complaint about your last post."

I find this completely unacceptable; all I did was post an innocent cat picture.

Some options:
  1. Agree to stop posting even though I don't like the precedent, because I decide that cat-pictures@ isn't as important to me as keeping my job.
  2. Stop posting temporarily while I appeal the decision. (Maybe I feel that promo committee members are all heavy readers of cat-pictures@ and disappearing from their view will hurt my career.)
  3. Quit, because this company is obviously run by people who don't believe in cat pictures.
  4. Keep posting.
If I choose #4, and HR says "we said don't do that and you kept doing that; you can choose to leave or be fired" and I say "I'm not quitting, you'll have to fire me"...then I get fired. This should not be a surprise to anyone.

So, the question at hand: if I chose #4, have I chosen to escalate the situation instead of addressing it in a professional manner? I think so; even if the situation was caused by a badly-thought-out and unprofessional process (or a biased d20), and even if I fully intend to use all my personal social network accounts to say "Company X is terrible and has absolutely idiotic rules about their internal social email lists" it is inappropriate to continue posting to a specific forum when the forum's owners have asked you not to.

"But why didn't they block your posts from cat-pictures@ themselves?" A good question, and one that I'd say indicates a failure on their part in that they failed to allow for the possibility that I would respond unprofessionally by continuing to post there. Still, just because they didn't lock the car doesn't mean I should have driven away in it.

It is possible for both (or all) sides of a debate to be wrong at the same time.

(And yes, comments are closed. My forum.)
ckd: (music)
This week sucks.

However, especially for those who aren't fans of the band Texas and therefore may not have seen this before, I give to you: Alan Rickman dancing in a gas station.

ckd: (music)
He wrote "Heroes", and outlived the Berlin Wall.

He was Jareth, and outlived Jim Henson.

He asked us to give ourselves one more chance, and outlived Freddie Mercury.

He sang about life on Mars, and lived to see the Spirit and Opportunity rovers roll (and roll, and roll...).

Any amount of time with him would be too short, but there's still so much of him we got that we might not have had.
ckd: small blue foam shark (sharky classic)
Previously: 2013, 2014, 2015 (1st half)

As usual, listed by chronological order of first visit; * indicates multiple separate visits.
where in the world was Carmen Sharkdiego? )
ckd: small blue foam shark (sharky classic)

This is one of my current favorite boardgames, in a very nice iOS implementation, for $0.99.

If you like boardgames and have an iOS device, it's a must buy.
ckd: small blue foam shark (sharky classic)
I thought it'd be interesting to look back at the first half of 2015 in travel rather than waiting for a year-end post like 2014's.

As usual, listed by chronological order of first visit; * indicates multiple separate visits.

Montréal, QC
Boston, MA*
Santa Clara, CA
Walnut Creek, CA
Millbrae, CA
Bloomington, MN
Southfield, MI
Pittsburgh, PA
Kahuku, HI
Pryor Creek, OK
St. Louis Park, MN

Airports: (* connection only, @ landside visit only, % new to me in 2015)

12 unique overnight locations and 12 airports, up from 9 of each in the first half of 2014.
ckd: two white candles on a dark background (candles)
"What is Kiri-kin-tha's First Law of Metaphysics?"

"Nothing unreal exists."

"How do you feel?"


"How do you feel?"
"How do you feel?"

Unlike Spock at the beginning of ST4:TVH, I understand the question; I just don't have the right words for the answer.

(I also still fondly remember his intro for the Mugar Omni Theater shows at the Museum of Science, especially in the early days when they would light up the speakers behind the screen as part of it. Boston kid makes good.)
ckd: small blue foam shark (sharky classic)
YES! Among all the other Super Bowl moments (tough break there, Seahawks fans) I have to thank Katy Perry and the NFL for finally giving Selachian-Americans representation on television.

They even got one that dances about as well as I do!
ckd: small blue foam shark (sharky classic)
So, the 2013 post of "places I spent a night that weren't Cambridge" started in Montreal and ended in Portland (the Maine one).

The 2014 list follows, as usual by chronological order of first visit. * indicates multiple separate visits.
this was a busy travel year.... )
ckd: small blue foam shark (sharky classic)
I started 2013 in Montréal and ended it in Portland (ME).

In chronological order by first visit in 2013, the places I spent at least one night (even if that night wasn't entirely in 2013 :-) that weren't Cambridge:
Montréal, QC
Boston, MA
Bloomington, MN
Ann Arbor, MI
Pontiac, MI
Madison, WI
St. Louis Park, MN
Burlington, MA
Orlando, FL
San Antonio, TX
Minneapolis, MN
Washington, DC
Las Vegas, NV
Toronto, ON
New York, NY
Portland, ME
ckd: two white candles on a dark background (candles)
I'm home, as safe as can be expected and physically OK. My office is closed, my city has advised everyone to stay indoors and shelter in place, an MIT police officer was shot and killed a few blocks away less than an hour after I walked through that area last night on my way home....

I think "physically OK" will have to do for now.
ckd: two white candles on a dark background (candles)
There's a lot I want to say about the Readercon failure, but other people have said most of what I wanted to say already -- and my RSI is acting up, so typing is a bad idea.

Two things I think need saying, though:
1. The Board is not the Concom, and the Board is not Readercon. The Board can be replaced without the convention ending...and it is my opinion that it should be replaced due to its failure to respect its own declared policies. Perhaps the members that supported this decision can "retroactively retire".

2. I haven't yet asked for my money back for next year's preregistration. I will if I have to (see #1 for why I might not have to), and if so I will then turn around and donate it to BARCC. (Sure, the policy says "non-refundable but transferable" -- but hey, Readercon's policies are made to be broken.)
ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
Google's looking for more people to take part in user experience surveys. This could be your chance to improve current products or even ones that haven't been released yet.

From the FAQ: "You certainly don’t need to be a computer expert or Internet enthusiast to sign up. The range of people we’re hoping will sign up actually includes anyone that has ever used the Internet in any way."

Sign-up link:
ckd: two white candles on a dark background (candles)
For those who have had a rough 2011 (and for those who have been luckier and had a smooth year), may 2012 bring you joy and peace and wonderful things.
ckd: (gaming)

Codito has put Medici and Ra on sale (through April 4th). These are good iOS ports; not quite up to the level of the masterful Carcassone port (which is definitely worth the $10), but solid nonetheless.

Ra (universal) $2.99 USD
Medici HD (iPad) $1.99 USD
Medici (iPhone) $0.99 USD
ckd: two white candles on a dark background (candles)
(I can't come up with a better way to say it than I did last year, so here it is again.)

Whether you call it Armistice Day, Remembrance Day, or Veterans Day doesn't matter; the day itself does.

Thank you to all who have served and are serving today: family, friends, and others.

May the results of your service be worthy of your sacrifices.

(2010 addition: Earlier this week I (and several co-workers) spent some time volunteering at the New England Center for Homeless Veterans, and I've also donated some money in honor of all the veterans I know.)
ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
After reading "Because I'm being 14 years old today", which was itself a reaction to "Wherein we are back in seventh grade, but with better hair", I was mildly amused.

When I thought some more about it, though, I looked back to this past weekend when I went home to see family and get a full-blown Small Town 4th of July Experience™; as part of the latter, I ran into a couple of familiar faces working the town's historical society table.

They belonged to people who I'd known back in the sort of timeframe both [ profile] shadesong and [ profile] jasra mention, who were just in town for the day to help out because it's "home" for them too even though they both now live elsewhere.

Neither of them was the subject of my hopeless crush at that age, but one of them was my crush object's best friend at the time. That person has since sent me a "good to see you and I'm sorry I didn't think to get a picture" message, which sends my thoughts back to middle school...which means I may as well join in on this micro-meme.

[Poll #1589066]
ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
I'm sitting around at MSP, having found a nice quiet corner with a power outlet. It has almost[1] all the comforts of the Delta Sky Club at a fraction of the cost. (0/n is a fraction, right?)

I wound up getting to the airport much earlier than necessary, because I was able to snag a ride with someone who was heading out right at that moment...since the hotel shuttle is no longer operating, that was a definite win. Naturally, the security line was short; it always is when I'm not in a hurry.

It was a good con. I got in several games of Dominion, some Zar, a round of Power Grid, and some other games; made it to a few program items; saw many people I wanted to see; and made the Saturday night party rounds including the great LJ party. (I never managed to make it to the pool/hot tub, though.)

Now the countdown to Penguicon starts.

[1] No snacks, no drinks, no shiny bathrooms. Comfy chairs and power, though....
ckd: two white candles on a dark background (candles)
Roger Ebert has posted a thoughtful piece on food and dining and memory, discussing his experiences since surgery left him unable to eat normally and what he truly misses most about no longer being able to do so.

He's managed to express in words something I could never quite get right: how I feel about the difference between a meal eaten in company and a mere refueling stop, and why I take the convention rule of 5-2-1 (5 hours of sleep, 2 meals, 1 shower each day) and add the stipulation (in my own case) that the two meals should be eaten with other people if at all possible.

Read the whole thing.

(via [ profile] cristalia)
ckd: (cpu)
The Atomic Testing Museum. The gift shop sells, among other things, Atomic FireBall candy and postcards showing the above-ground tests as seen from Las Vegas (they were a tourist attraction!).
ckd: two white candles on a dark background (candles)
This is important.

Since my state rep is on both the Joint Committee on Public Health and Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security, I specifically mention them in this letter in hopes that a non-form letter will be more effective. If you live in Massachusetts, please call and write your legislators with your own experiences and concerns. (Call and write; call to get their attention, write to make your arguments.)

my letter )
ckd: two white candles on a dark background (candles)
Whether you call it Armistice Day, Remembrance Day, or Veterans Day doesn't matter; the day itself does.

Thank you to all who have served and are serving today: family, friends, and others.

May the results of your service be worthy of your sacrifices.
ckd: (music)
I'd asked folks to guess how many different artists' versions of songs I have. Here are the answers, along with lists of the artists represented.
time to flip over the mix tape )
ckd: (music)
If you ask me to play each of the following songs, how many different artists (including the original artist) will I have available in iTunes? (Not including parodies, but including instrumental-only versions.)
saving your friends page )
ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
In this post I asked for questions, and received some...and as I said, "I might answer". Here are some answers.

In some cases, I'm going to list the questioner but not the question; in the others, the question but not the questioner. (Oh, and I've sorted the list so there won't be any telltale correlations between comments posted and questions asked. :-) If you've forgotten what you asked, you can see what you said.

[ profile] aedifica: Is it still there?
[ profile] cthulhia: Indeed.
[ profile] dpolicar: Good question, to which I don't have a good answer.
[ profile] gnomi: It's a bit late to answer this one, isn't it?
[ profile] lbmango: Mu.
[ profile] mdyesowitch: Not at the moment.
[ profile] moiread: Fairly, even when I don't know how to respond.
[ profile] timprov: It's a bit late to answer this one, isn't it?
[ profile] yendi: If it were a game of BSG: all four dials in the blue.
But is it much much worse than two? I guess....
Have you ever given any thought to what you want your funeral to be like? You mean besides "very far in the future"? Not really, since I don't expect to be actively involved in it.
Three? Yes, I forgot to include "Come Together".
What color are your shoes? Black.
What do you like best about autumn? Being able to keep the windows open, because the weather is just cool enough to start doing that instead of running the air conditioning all the time.
What is your favorite cheerful song? There are several candidates: "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport", "Good Day Sunshine", the Great Big Sea cover of "Run Runaway", Three Dog Night's "Joy to the World", even "Daydream Believer" (cheesy as it is) makes the list...but when it comes right down to "this will make me smile EVERY TIME" it's got to be the Muppets version of "Mahna Mahna". (I want to hear a mashup of "Mahna Mahna" and "Numa Numa".)
What is your favorite food? Probably pizza, just because of its versatility.
What's your favorite cryptid? If fictional ones count, the Loch Moose Monster from Janet Kagan's Mirabile. If not, probably the classic: Bigfoot.
Why am I having flashbacks to the Usenet Oracle? Because everything old is new again, and a question that can engender an amusing answer is still fun to play with. You owe the Oracle a .signature file of 4 lines or less.
Why? It's an interrogative used to ask about underlying causes, but that's not important right now.
ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
I'm guessing that most of the MSP contingent have plans to be at Convivial 4 (Oct. 16-18), and some of the folks who usually make it to Penguicon have plans for ConClave 34 (Oct. 9-11)...and it's quite possible that there are people who're planning on both.

Right now my next planned con is Arisia 2010 (Jan. 15-18), but it's not completely silly to try to get to something between now and then.

Who's going to what, when, where? Philcon is probably too close to Thanksgiving for me to manage. What else am I missing?
ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
As my last few posts have indicated, I had a bit of an adventure getting home from Worldcon this year. Funny, it wasn't so hard to get home from my last Worldcon in 2004! (I just took the T, since it was in town and I was actually commuting.)

This was my third Worldcon, but only the first one I actually went to instead of merely attending when it was being held within an easy commute of where I lived (Noreascon 3 [1989] and Noreascon 4 [2004]).
the saga begins... )
Then there was the "adventure" of getting back (previously described here and on FB), which worked out with meeting Scott Edelman at dinner in the hotel restaurant at the Holiday Inn, because his flight had also been cancelled. I wound up accidentally encountering two industry pros, one on each end of the trip, both of whom were also very nice people and great to talk to. That's the sort of thing that I love about this field.
ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
(Worldcon report coming at some point.)

It looks like airfare is pretty cheap at the moment, though transcontinental travel is still going to be a giant time suck. There aren't any BOS-SJC nonstops (AA killed their old "nerd bird" a few years ago, and JetBlue chopped theirs during the fuel price jump last year), so it's a hub connection somewhere (IAH, probably, since CO has the cheap fare right now) and end-to-end gate-to-gate times run in the 8-9 hour range.

+ Another con to fill in the gap between Worldcon and Arisia
+ BOS-SJC fare reasonably cheap right now
+ Can hook a SEA stop in there to see family; a BOS-SJC-SEA-BOS triangle trip only adds about $100-150 to the fare if I stay through Sunday
+ "Use it or lose it" vacation policy; WFC + the extra day at each end would get me closer, and doing the Seattle trip would get me under the threshold for sure even if I don't take any other time off
- Not sure how many folks I know will be there
- Two extra hotel nights pretty much required due to flight times (either in SJC or near SEA)
- Two long travel days

ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
Home and safe. Going to try for some more sleep since I'm not very functional. More later.
ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
At YUL, and about to head to the gate. "This time for sure!" ("But that trick never works.")

Let's hope my next post is from BOS or somewhere in Cambridge, and that it happens today.


ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
blue shark of friendliness

January 2019

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