Sunday, November 30, 2008

I hate that we fall in love with the body first, and then hope that there's a soul we can fall in love with too.
I wouldn't mind seeing Into the Wild again but then I remember his scream at the end.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Atlas Shrugged Updated for the Financial Crisis

If your impressionable mind was warped by Atlas Shrugged like mine was for a few years, you'll get a laugh out of this.

Monday, November 10, 2008

My favorite song

I find this uplifting somehow, even though the lyrics don't seem that way.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Outlawing gay marriage by voting yes on Prop 8 will be seen as absurd and indefensible in 30 years as supporting segregated black and white schools in the 50's does now.

Every society makes mistakes that are absolute crystal clear in retrospect, like slavery.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I really hate it when math book authors say that something is trivial or obvious. If it wasn't obvious to you, then it only serves to make you feel stupid. If it was obvious, then it only serves to make you feel superior for a brief moment (compared to a stupider imaginary person, I guess). (And if it was truly obvious, then why say it at all?)

I think this is rooted in a deep insecurity to always have an answer, to always appear like you're on your game. (Why did evolution give us this weakness? Acting this way must have been useful for some survival reason.)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Naughty games

I can't be the only one who sees the the application to doing a porn game with this tech. If I was more of a pure capitalist, I would think about working on something like that, but I am constrained by my Quaker upbringing, or more honestly, the fear of telling people what I did for a living.

Financial quote of the day

We refused to touch credit default swaps. It would be like buying insurance on the Titanic from someone on the Titanic.

-- Nassim Taleb

Friday, October 10, 2008

Letters from Norman Mailer

I don't know whether I'm fucking up sometimes or if I just keep going things will be beautiful, but I hear this man clearly:

I’m rather depressed these days. It’s been years since anything I’ve done has turned out successfully—with a few rare exceptions—and I’m falling into the thing which afflicted you a couple of years ago—a failure of the will, shall we say. My ambitions seem far beyond my talents, and light-years beyond the vicissitudes of my character, and I think of this enormous novel I’m now starting, which could well take ten years, and if done properly, it must be unpublishable except in green-backed French “dirty” editions, and I’ll be middle-aged when it’s done, and somehow I just don’t believe in myself the way I used to, and indeed, worst of all, it doesn’t even seem terribly important. I’m beginning to have the tolerance of the defeated—people I would have despised a few years ago now seem bearable—after all, I say to myself, I haven’t done very well with all the luck I had, and perhaps I do wrong to judge them. Naturally these states proliferate. The desire to work recedes, and as it recedes one welcomes the depression of not working which increases the difficulty to begin work again, and it gets to be a drag.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

If you are not a very nice person in your every day life, but do great things, you will be forgiven by history. Einstein was not very good to the women he lived with, but that is not the popular memory of him. Shakespeare and Buddha both left their wife and child (whether that makes them selfishly bad or not I don't know).

Happy accidents

There are no happy accidents in programming like there are in art. When I'm doodling, I make a little thumbnail sketch with random lines and my imagination somehow sees a person standing there, in much more detail than I could bring out if I tried to draw it in a large size. In programming, if something is working correctly and you don't know why, you're about to experience something unpleasant.

Fat airborne nuns

Feel free to steal that for the name of your band.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I wish I could take a pill that would make me delusional for a year and make me believe that I would accomplish everything I wanted to do and give me all this energy.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


I was out walking tonight and at one point I turned around to see a guy on a bike, pedaling slowly. I didn't really give it a thought and kept walking and a few minutes later I hear a sound behind me. I don't turn around because I expect him to pass me, like now. He doesn't pass me and I turn around and he asks, "Where do you live?". I didn't understand his accent at first. Then, "Where are you going?" and next, "Are you married?" The guy has a weird look on his face, a big nervous smile that doesn't really conceal that he wants something. I am still walking and he is trailing slightly behind. Then, "Are you gay?" I told him I didn't understand, then he says "Are you bi?" I say "No. Are you?", he smiles and says "No." At this point, I just want out, but I continue to walk towards the stop light ahead and into a well lit (but empty) parking lot, where he continues to follow me. I turn around 180 degrees and give a curt wave, like "hey, I'm going this way, I don't want to be around you, but have a nice night." He turns around and follows me back the way we came and then later crosses the street on his bike, away from me.

On my way back, he appears again, waiting for me. "My friend, where are you going?" He had raced down the street, and crossed back over to my side. I kept walking past and stared at him and said, "That's none of your business. I don't know you." and kept walking.

I walked a different way home and was all eyes to see if he was waiting for me. While I was writing this blog post, all the lights and power went out. I was paranoid enough not to shut down the absurd thought that it was possible he cut the power and was now going to break into my room and rape me. (Thankfully, at this moment, I am still untouched.)

Just skin tingly creepy. I understand why women don't walk alone at night.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Introduce some feedback here

Why isn't there a TV screen behind the candidates during the debates that would display the result of fact checking, while the debate is happening? That would put some pressure on candidates not to lie so much or at least to triple check their facts. These guys are able to spit out garbage during a debate and don't seem to mind being called a liar the next day, but I'd bet they'd feel shame about being called out at the time.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Why the hell are people buying US Treasuries at 1% when they could just put the money in a HSBC savings account for 3%? I don't get it.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Doing a startup by yourself is like cleaning toilets for a year, alone.
One messed up thing about life is that you pretty much need to distribute condoms along with food to keep people who don't have enough to eat from making more starved people. Keeping people alive and preventing future ones from being born...

Is this the best of all possible worlds?

If/when this financial bailout gets enacted and the economy doesn't go into a severe depression and we started hearing from pundits, "Well, if we hadn't enacted the bailout it could have been much worse", you can also say it could have been much better. There are alternatives (that I'm not fit to really evaluate) such as bank nationalization and WaMu style speed-bankruptcies coupled with private money.

Update: I'm embarrassed that I wrote about bank nationalization and "WaMu style speed-bankrupticies" when I clearly don't understand those things. I have run a cheese grater down my face as penance.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Thickness and selling books

To help this, you want the retailer to "face out" your book: to turn it so that the cover faces the aisle instead of the spine. This is only possible if your book is thick enough to stand on its own. Thickness is also a psychological cue to the customer that convinces them that the book is complete and, therefore, the only book they need to buy.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Like a treasure found in your own house
An enemy should be received with joy
For he is a friend to the Bodhisattva.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

If you're looking to date, you're batshit insane not to use the dating sites. It expands your options dramatically beyond the workplace or meeting the friend of a friend. I know some girls who don't use them (they see them as the mark of desperation I think), but this stigma will vanish in the next 10 years completely. A woman with a good photo can absolutely clean house on these things.

Marriage is for others

Marriage is ultimately for other people, so that they can understand and accept your relationship. There is no promise you can make in marriage that you could not keep if you were out of it (and you can break any promise you made in marriage including the marriage itself besides).

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Stuff you actually have to think about now

Like, will my insurance company actually be solvent when I make a claim?
Assuming that you will be able to handle anything is the first step on the road to breaking.

Assuming that you do not have ignorance in you is the first and most important step to a lifetime of ignorance and hypocrisy.

Excellent book

Travels with Herodotus was a true pleasure to read. (I actually finished this book, and very quickly.) It was a depressing little shock to realize that a writer like that is no longer in our world.

Monday, September 15, 2008

How epic would that be?

I don't have health insurance at the moment, but when I joined AAA I was able to get some amount of medical bills paid in case I get in a car accident. If I recall correctly, it also covers snowboarding accidents, including decapitations.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Amazing game

The objective of the game is to drive a bus from Tucson to Las Vegas in real time at a maximum speed of 45mph, a feat that would take the player 8 hours of continuous play to complete, as the game cannot be paused. The bus contains no passengers, and there is no scenery or other cars on the road. The bus veers to the right slightly; as a result, it is impossible to tape down a button to go do something else and have the game end properly. If the bus veers off the road it will stall and be towed back to Tucson, also in real time. If the player makes it to Las Vegas, they will score exactly one point. The player then gets the option to make the return trip to Tucson—for another point (a decision they must make in a few seconds or the game ends).

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The drink that makes mating happen

We should have an Alcohol Awareness Day, where we give thanks for alcohol existing throughout history (since you might not be here if it didn't exist).
I swear, the energy I expend being a good person would go a great distance in destroying others.
I wonder if Alan Greenspan feels guilty before he goes to bed.  Does he defend his decisions to himself in his quiet moments?  Is he upset daily at going from a godlike figure to someone that people love to kick?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Folding this hand

I've decided to fold my website for events on a map. It's been nearly a year since I started and this decision took a long time, and has been chock full of pain.

Here's what happens: You keep telling (lying to) yourself that you will work on the site, but you find yourself working on it less and less. The worst part of not making a firm decision is that the idea takes up space in your brain, you feel guilty about not working on it and those thoughts just eat huge chunks out of your quality of life. (That's been awful.)

You can consider this an epic, epic fuckup. (I've forgiven myself.) I will still work on projects on my own in the future, but only if I'm passionate about them (not just to make something good for a money grab). I will have to bear the weight of being a quitter on this project in future projects, but it's something I'm willing to do. I have been sneaking time away from this project to read graphics papers, and so now I can do that without guilt, and also indulge my reading on philosophy and history.

The weight of the world seems lighter...
When I got back to Orange County, the library was hassling me for a proof of address even though I already had a library card here. (I ended up lying and showing them a magazine with my old address.) This seems like the opposite thing society should want: if I was homeless and I wanted to read, society should encourage that, or at least not hinder me too much.
It would be impressive to hear of someone who climbed Everest, but didn't tell anyone about it.


The soul is in constant danger of falling over.

-- Montaigne

Thursday, September 4, 2008

A nice car is a terrible waste of capital, you can buy so many dinners, go on so many trips, spend time reading interesting shit if you make your money follow what actually makes you happy. I fucking love my life now, I'm scared for this time to end.

Monday, September 1, 2008

If someone had told me when I was a little boy that men would be treated as predators until proven otherwise, that would've really bothered me. Women have the nice advantage of being more trusted than men. On the other hand, women have the unpleasant job of weeding out guys that act really gross, so I guess it's just easier for them to toss all men into the same pool, and let the decent ones float to the top. Adults do a good job of hiding the unsightly, unpleasant details of the world from kids.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Human beings are terrible at imagining other alternatives. Tons of food reviews on Yelp talk about how perfect the food was, but the truth is that there were a thousand other items that would've made them just as happy (evidenced by a huge majority of reviews in the 3.5 to 5 star range). A 2 dollar fish taco makes me just as happy as an expensive Chinese dinner, and saves money for future dinners...
Interviews are such a terrible way to know if someone is competent or not. If you can't answer their first 3 questions, you get written off as stupid. I had an interview in 2005 with Day 1 Studios, but I didn't make a good early impression and by the time we went to lunch, they all but ignored me.
I respect the working poor, especially if they are able somehow to genuinely smile even through difficulty, but I like to see them move on to greener pastures more.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Imaginary peeps

I always found it hilarious that the argument against solipsism (the idea that everything and everyone in the world are creations of your mind) is that it is impolite to others to assume they are figments of your imagination. LOL.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Whenever I start to think that love doesn't really exist, remember Rob Hall on Everest, begging base camp to let him moisten his mouth first so he can do well in his last conversation with his wife.
Sometimes I'll sit down and fiddle with my ipod and imagine that someone is watching me because I'm a character in a movie, and they're amazed at the futuristic device I'm playing with.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hiking miscellany

When I'm training for backpacking, I'm much more comfortable carrying a load in running shoes, since my $175 hiking boots bruise my toes on downhill slopes. But I switch to hiking boots on a trip purely as insurance against wrecking a great time with a rolled ankle.

Also, on the last trip to Mount Langley, it seems like my ear holes expanded as I hiked, so that my headphones kept falling out. I'm going to replace the rubber caps with larger ones and hope they stay in my head.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The ugliness in terms of service

If you're a company and you're making people agree to an update of your terms of service, at least have the courtesy to highlight what has changed in red.

And also, making people agree too frequently to your ToS should make the whole thing less enforceable in a court rather than more enforceable, IMO. A brilliant example is WoW, where Blizz is so paranoid about losing their primary revenue source that they make you click through a huge list of terms, every time you patch. Take this to the logical extreme and make people click through the ToS every time the player casts a spell.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The best way to become a millionaire is...

to be a billionaire and enter the movie business.

-- Don't remember who said this
I constantly scan my credit card advance checks looking to borrow more money at a good price and stash it into a savings account. The offers I receive now are much worse than a year ago. I was receiving offers for 0% interest with a transaction fee cap of $75 to borrow $20k, now the offers are for 4% with a non-capped 3% transaction fee which is totally not worth it. Looks like the banks are trying to make back their subprime money in any little way they can.

A cool sci-fi weapon

Would be to shoot at someone and age them into an old man.

Friday, August 22, 2008


I got my ass tagged by Mary. I am now supposed to list 3 joys, 3 fears, 3 obsessions, and 3 surprising facts. I didn't originally feel like participating in this, but I've warmed to the idea.

Three joys:
1. hiking
2. the people I love (I hope you can tell who you are, or I've done a bad job!)
3. trading worthless bits of green paper for new experiences
4. and life would be a disgusting poverty without books

Three fears:
I won't list my fears because the honesty would rip a hole in the universe

Three obsessions:
1. Hiking
2. The game idea that's been with me since 2004 and won't let me rest
3. Unfortunately, women...*sigh*

Three surprising facts:
1. I used to want to be a backup dancer for someone like Usher or Janet Jackson if I wasn't in games.
2. The thought of being an outdoor Search & Rescue guy is very appealing.
3. When I was 15, I was in a fist fight with 2 18-year-old guys at the same time. I only remember 2 seconds from the fight, it was like another man took over my body when the fighting started.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The calculus of helping others

Is it better to help 100 people now, or 1000 people 5 years from now? How about 10000?

What if those people have not been born yet? We discount the value of future people to the point where we try to actively prevent their births with condoms. Once you make it out of the vagina though, you've got your free pass.

Word of the day

Homoskedasticity. I'd love to say this out loud in a meeting, unnecessarily but in the correct way so no one could fault me.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I am reading graphics papers about ocean rendering and really struggling with the math and concepts of level sets and the Navier-Stokes equations at the moment. Doing what has been over my head has been my strategy for a long while now, with computation on a grid for my aurora borealis stuff, and with figuring out how to program in general. I expect to break down the equations chunk by chunk with persistence.

Lazy online daters

Some chick on posted a profile with a nice picture, but no text, except two things she likes: sushi and horses. wtf lol? Either the laziest profile I've ever seen, or some kind of scammer.


I think the trick to staying disciplined is to cut yourself allowances for not being disciplined all the time. For instance, I rarely overeat now, but once in a while I will take down half a big bag of peanut M&M's, and that's totally alright. I kind of encourage it in a sense. Sometimes, I don't study my Indonesian before bed, but that's cool, I'll just resume the next day, and not try to do a double lesson or anything. If I don't feel like reading graphics papers at the moment, I'll go for a walk in the sun and hit the papers up later.

I'm like a leaky dam, and I don't have enough fingers to plug all the holes. So I plug what I can, and then plug new holes even while the old ones spring a leak.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Oil tankers dropping speed

I read on Bloomberg last week that oil tankers have slowed down from an average of 20 knots to 12 knots in response to declining oil prices. I could not figure out from the story if it was because the fuel savings would be significant or because crossing the ocean slower gives them more time to decide where to unload the oil for the highest price.
What if you had a time machine, but when you went backwards in time, it did not unwind time in the exact way that events happened?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The nice thing about working out at home is that I don't have to work against that stupid part of myself that tries to lift too much at the gym in some misguided attempt to not appear weak. I also don't have to worry about looking like a weirdo with the mix of yoga, karate, dancing and even ballet I toss in during my workouts.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Valor has its limits like the other virtues, and these limits once transgressed, we find ourselves on the path of vice; so that we may pass through valor to temerity, obstinacy, and madness, unless we know its limits well -- and they are truly hard to discern near the borderlines.

-- Montaigne

Monday, August 4, 2008

At a job, you should technically be receiving a small pay raise every day, since your skills grow daily. I know this isn't a practical idea, but if a company wanted to accurately value you, this is what they'd need to do.

No respect

I don't have respect for a PhD, only for the knowledge that a PhD should represent.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Prince of Persia is much more marketable than Prince of Iran.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

As I was walking last night, I got to peek through the window at the students at the adult education center here in San Juan Capistrano. I love seeing people get smarter! (No degrees being offered, just people increasing their skills.)

Monday, July 21, 2008

How to save the earth

If human beings breathed less often, there would be less CO2. QED, yo.

Another solution would be to offset our carbon emissions with an equal amount of plants. You could wear a tray of plants around your neck. Heavier breathers could wear a larger tray.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Awesome sentences

Over confidence and in particular the idea that we are special and will live a long life suggests the error is saving too much. Note that we also tend to think that our partner will be alive as well. My wife once asked me whether we were saving enough for "our" retirement. "Sure," I said, "don't forget one of us will probably die before the other and I'm not saving for your future husband." "Why," she replied with a sigh, "can't economists be more human?"

Saturday, July 19, 2008

If you're giving advice to someone falling out of love and you feel normal, telling them how to feel is completely wrong. Likewise, if you're giving advice to a depressed person, realize that they're in a completely different state than you. Give them time and send them strength.

(And yes, I know I've been a hypocrite in this area before.)

To all the girls at the Irvine Spectrum

I don't actually need to see your shirt opened up and your bra exposed. If you're showing everything, I assume that you are deeply insecure (which is not a crime, but not being aware of it is). You're probably high maintenance, accustomed to crowds of weak men doing what you want them to do and lazy about actually carrying your weight in a relationship.

If you've got it, you don't need to show it. If you've got it, I'll be able to tell. Promise!

Higher gas prices makes better produce?

I was disappointed at Trader Joe's to see how small the oranges were. I bought them anyway and they have been fantastic, as sweet as any I've ever had. One nice side effect of high gas prices is that it has to put pressure on farmers not to grow big stupid watery oranges, since a larger number of smaller oranges can fit in the same load.

The economics of paper plates

It makes sense to buy two sizes of paper plates: one smaller and one larger. Most items are small, so if you were to use the larger size for everything, you are leaving all that surface area around the item empty and so probably paying too much and executing more trees than is necessary.

Better Facebook status updates

1) Don't write "is ___ing" anything. If you write "Dave Smith is thinking that dwarves are sexy", just change it to "Dave Smith thinks dwarves are sexy".

2) Don't tell us that you're eating or sleeping. These are things that everyone does already and uninteresting to boot. Tell us that you shot a pheasant today, or heard someone having sex next door, or cracked the Da Vinci code and are now flying to Paris.

3) It's ok to mention how you feel: this is interesting to others since people often keep their emotions behind locked door(s).

4) If you don't have anything interesting to say, it's ok not to say anything at all!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Why stop at 2?

The marine flatworm Pseudobiceros bedfordi has two penises with which they fence, attempting to smear sperm on the other without being fertilized themselves.

-- Power, Sex, Suicide

Brains have multiple pieces

A split second before I nearly stepped on that rattlesnake a few years back, some primitive lizard part of my brain knew that something was wrong (even though I didn't consciously know what it was), even as my leg continued to step forward and hit the ground less than a foot from the snake.

Going long on my education

If I have to decide between an ideal looking resume and actual skills, I choose skills. It has worked for me in the past, when I spent time actually learning how to program games and graphics instead of doing decently in college (The owner of a computer repair company told me to my face that "I make the other half of the class look good" when he asked my GPA and I told him "2.0". Brutal. (Never forget that a letter grade is only a proxy for understanding! Grades can be optimized for by cramming for tests, only studying things likely to be on a test, etc., but actual understanding is deeper and more important. If you insist on being with someone with a higher GPA than you, reconsider so you don't let a gem get away!) Carrying this attitude ultimately made me competent enough to do good work at Blizzard. (It's shocking that the distance between this and working on WoW could only be 5 years.)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Super depressing thought of the day

Living organisms are throwaway survival machines for their genes.

-- from Nick Lane's excellent Power, Sex, Suicide

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Life is Weird

It's good to remember that we're all flying around a freaking ball of fire right now. Hat tip to Richard Feynman for reminding me.

The eternal (infernal!) question

When somebody asks what I do, it's much easier to say that I'm a game programmer, or I'm building a website than be honest and say: 90% of my day is reading and walking.
Tourists can only be other people. When I go to a new place I'm (of course!) perfectly in the right to be there.
When driving around Orange County, you can actually start to think that having a nice car is an important achievement in a human life.

To guard against this thinking, I pledge to maintain a healthy layer of dirt and avian feces on my ride.

Steps for getting along with others

1) Actually understand that others may think you have a douchebag personality.
2) Accept that there may be no possible action you can take to fix this.

Bam, you're done.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Life changing invention for everybody

When I'm in the city, I miss my daily sauntering around hills and ravines, and seeing more than 10 stars when I look up at the sky at night. When I'm in the country, I miss friends, weird restaurants and buying random stuff at the Asian supermarket.

Someone please invent cheap teleportation and destroy the airline industry! I'd love to spend my days in the city and then blink out to my ranch in the middle of nowhere, Nepal, to sleep in the quiet.

Monday, June 23, 2008

I used to occasionally buy a Powerball ticket when I was desperate and thought I'd never go anywhere. But the real value wasn't the chance at winning, it was all the pleasure it gave me from fantasizing about how I'd start a game company and how I could buy whatever food I wanted and go wherever I wanted. Now I don't buy lottery tickets because I wouldn't want to hear the implication that I didn't earn the money. I'd enjoy a million I made much more than a million I won. It would take a lot more discipline for me to not lose the money made from the lottery vs. business earnings.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

There was a little something that bothered me in Randy Pausch's otherwise good Last Lecture, and that was the comment he made about wanting his wife to get remarried after his death. Have some mercy on your wife! You do need to have that discussion, but don't bring it up in front of 200 people! You're going to leave the world and your wife is going to miss you so much, let her know that it's ok to find someone new, but don't cause her pain capriciously.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

If you somehow became a billionaire, there wouldn't be enough cool things in the world to buy that would justify trying to make that much money. (But a millionaire, yes.) At that point, you pretty much have to be spending it on inventing new things or the public good (e.g. anti-malarial nets or fighting AIDS). Owning 30 houses would just be silly as you could already stay anywhere in the world and can only be in one place at one time anyway. (And why would you want that much complexity in your life anyway?)
Only companies care about hierarchy, the marketplace just wants cool stuff.

Friday, June 6, 2008

I watched There Will Be Blood tonight and I enjoyed it alot and even laughed at parts, but after that I had to go outside to remind myself that beautiful things do exist in this world and so I listened to the piano and strings from the Pride and Prejudice soundtrack and stared up at the stars for a while.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

People hate to lose

A large part of the business world's ability to have people just begging to be employed has to be the employee's attachment to seeing little increases in their checking account every 2 weeks. It actually causes me pain to see my savings balance decrease over time, even though I know I can last another 2-3 years at a good standard of living at this rate (e.g. grocery shopping at Trader Joe's, eating out, occasional vacations).

Friday, May 23, 2008

But what if the angels wanted different things?

What is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary.

-James Madison

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

When/If I ever die, as an added incentive, I'm going to offer 50 bucks and a gift certificate to Cheesecake Factory if you attend the funeral.

My brother Eric and I talked about how everybody says the nicest stuff at a funeral, nobody says anything bad, but it's not really honest. Eric said that at my request, he'd go up and say, "You know what...he wasn't really that good" and then he'd list some of the stuff he thought I was bad at. It's funny, but it would be seriously awesome if he did it. People would be all upset with him, but he could display this blog post on a powerpoint slide at the funeral, and then people couldn't do crap about it because it was my wish. :D

Monday, May 19, 2008

Blizzard & The Mother Goddess of the World

I've thought a few times that I could sell Blizzard on sponsoring a climbing expedition up to Everest. It's the perfect match: Blizzard loves being the best in the world and they wouldn't go for anything less (K2 would be crap to them, even though it's a harder, more technical climb). Imagine climbers in Blizzard jackets striking summit poses on the highest point of our world. And even the weather conditions there fit the company's theme perfectly.

There's a large part of me that loves to test my limits, and honestly a part of me would want to go for it, but I also prefer not to die. I don't have the climbing expertise, and I'm pretty sure I don't have that insecurity where I need to make it to the top or my life is somehow incomplete. (I actually climbed Humphrey's Peak here in AZ a few weeks back and made myself turn around about 500 feet from the top even though I wanted to see it and it was maybe 10 more minutes of walking, just to exert my willpower.) But it would have to be a stronger climber who actually possessed skills that went (not to mention larger hands that don't freeze so easily).

Maybe when I'm 60 and most of my life is done, if Blizz is still in business, I'll pitch em on it. :) As long as they don't listen to Krakauer's Into Thin Air at any point, I'd bet they sign on.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

My mom just told me that she expects to have 5 grandkids. I said, "That's a big burden to place on Eric and Alisha." She laughed and said, "We expect full compliance." :D

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Games weaken their hold on me

Game experiences are more and more shallow to me as I get older. The feeling of going out to a wild cave and crawling around with just a headlamp will outdo any feeling of excitement you will ever experience in a game by far.

The only games I bother to play now are ones that can pull out my emotions. Only deep terror (Silent Hill) or melancholy (Shadow of the Colossus) have done anything for me recently.

Competition has a smaller pull on me, and Tekken still actually makes me sweat when I play.

I found 60% of WoW boring (travel time, questing) and 40% of it fun (killing fools in Stranglethorn and BG's). Even so it was the longest I've ever played any one game (a year and a half), which goes to show you how powerful a pull hanging out with your friends is.

(And I was one of those kids whose parents grounded them from playing 8-bit Nintendo for a month, due to excessive play. I had an aunt make a comment that she was surprised I went camping with my cousins one time because I was such a fixture in front of their TV.)

But that drive to actually make games still burns, I'm just frustrated at the comic-book like experiences that is the sum of the game industry these days.

Being pushed

Women want a man who will be strong when bad things happen so they'll push you to see how much you can stand and just to see how far you'll go for them. (If you go against a core principle to do what they want, the relationship will die or at least turn varying shades of ugly). They want a man they can respect first, but a distant second is a man that will do what they want if they yell loud enough.

But being tested capriciously just makes me lose respect for whoever I'm with.

great quote

Everyone's entire past is simply the road they have taken to try to build a perfect self in the present.

from Charles Bloom's awesome rants page.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I associate the Grand Canyon with the beauty on a huge scale, but also with the milling crowds up top and donkeys on the the Bright Angel trail, but that all changes quickly if you go down the trail to Hermit's Rest. When I got semi-lost there a few years back I thought it would be awesome to make Grand Canyon Online, the massively multiplayer game where you could wander for 3 days and never see another soul.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Pride, stubbornness, and the costs of inquiring

When stumped on a programming issue that someone else can probably answer, I always had to decide if it was worth the cost of distracting another programmer from his tasks to answer my question. If I'm probably going to spend an hour figuring out something that someone can answer in 5 minutes, then it's right to ask. But if it will only take 20 minutes, then probably not, since the blind alleys I travel will help me learn.

I will admit that pride and stubbornness in wanting to find the answer myself does affect my decision making here too.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

If I lay out in the sun for a while, one of my eyes sees colors differently than the other. The colors in one eye become much more washed out.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Not the best start

I went on a date once with a girl whose name was Veronica, except that I called her Victoria on the date. Let's agree to say she wasn't exactly taken with me. :)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Anyone who tells you what they make per year should be required to tell you what they make after taxes, they'll feel much less powerful.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Get the attitude right

I read the book on picking up women "The Game" last summer, or at least I read half of it because I found the writing grandiose and unbearable after a while. It describes all these tricks and techniques for picking up women, but it strikes me that if you get the underlying attitude right, (like allowing any woman to walk away from you, that she doesn't owe you a single thing, that if she doesn't respect you then you'll walk away), all the "techniques" will just flow naturally.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

two movies

Gattaca and Solaris are both moving films. Solaris is haunting, with scenes about loss and betrayal that I'll never forget. Gattaca is more emotional, a story about love and sacrifice and obsessiveness. The music in both are gorgeous.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Game development as experimental trials

When we were crunching on Horizons, I was in the strange position of being pretty damn sure the game would fail because it was not fun and had major issues, both design and technical. But I had also never shipped a commercial game before, and management was saying that everything would be ok, and I had to be open to the idea that I was wrong. So I ran it like a science experiment, expecting the worst but trying to work as though it would be a success.

In the end my instinct turned out to be right, but I also know that this was only one data point. Still, there are some warning signs that I know to fear now.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

a real college textbook

If the title of Chapter 1 in your calculus book is named, "To Deliver You From The Preliminary Terrors" and the author calls himself a "remarkably stupid fellow" in the preface, this is a sign that you've found treasure. (Calculus Made Easy)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Lasik success and dying alone

When you get Lasik, you can't just look at the 98% or whatever of people with successful outcomes, you have to consider how bad it would be if you lost sight or had painful dry eye syndrome. People seem to intuitively understand weighing the good outcome against the worst outcome when it comes to their personal well being. (But they understand less why it can make sense to short the stock market, even if there's a 70% chance the stock market will go up this week, even though the logic is basically the same.)

When I visited a cave last year by myself, I brought 3 headlamps with fresh batteries, and backup batteries for all 3 lamps (in different pockets even, in case I were to lose some). A friend once said this seemed excessive, but it's *just* adequate when you consider the potential magnitude of the fail if you lost light down there (dying alone, in the dark). (I read a listing of cave related deaths a few years back, the descriptions were truly awful: man drowned alone.)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Food for thought

When I was a kid, I used to be so starved for something to think about during breakfast that I would read the nutritional info on the cereal box over and over. Nothing has changed for me: when I wake up I grab a bowl of cereal and slam through 100 blog posts. (Thankfully the quality of my morning information has gotten better. I recall being a bored kid.)

When I worked construction, I remember being so starved for something to think about that I would put a talk recorded by Carmack on my 128MB mp3 player, and listen to the same talk over and over, in the hope that I would squeeze something more from it. God, I don't miss those days of boredom!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Good quote

"When you're looking into the abyss, you don't quibble over details"

on the Bear Stearns debacle

Monday, March 17, 2008

Libraries' scarcity mentality

When you download an audio book from your library's website now, you get put on a waiting list if one person has already downloaded that book in the last 2 weeks. A much better system would be to allow unlimited downloads, but with the price escalating as the demand increased. The first download of a given book could be free, but the next download of that book could be 50 cents, next could be a $1.50, etc. and then prices could fall back down over time as the downloads expire.

Friday, March 14, 2008


What happened to Bear Stearns?

It ran out of money.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Quote of the Day

"life is shit organized by bastards"

from The Geography of Bliss


Monday, March 10, 2008

Richard Dawkins talk

I had the pleasure of seeing Richard Dawkins talk about The God Delusion at ASU recently. The atmosphere was warm, like a coming out party for atheists. The ideas were clear, he was eloquent and entertaining. (There were a few ideas that didn't seem quite right, but I couldn't put my finger on why. I'd have to watch the talk again to remember. I got swept up in the moment, real thinking has to happen later.)

In a case of (very) mild irony, I ended up playing basketball in a Mormon church after the talk (we weren't supposed to even swear on the court.)

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Fires scare me

I saw a lot of smoke out my window just now so I rushed to my car to see what the hell was going on. (It looks like it's just a large brush fire on the side of a pond that somebody set, so it's ok.)

I always investigate now when I see lots of smoke ever since a man died from a house fire on our old lake in Minnesota. We saw the smoke and a bunch of us got in our boats to check it out. Well all we did was sit in our boats scared, wondering if anyone was inside. I've always regretted not having the courage to tell them to drop me off on the shore so I could've ran inside and saved a man that didn't need to die. This wasn't a 30 story tower made of particle board, it was a one story cabin, I could've busted in I'm almost positive. I was right fucking there, I could've done something.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Knowing when to fold em...

Actually being able to fold a hand is a critically under appreciated skill. Changing your mind is a cardinal sin in America. Every business guy I've met, the failures and the outrageous successes, have all acted the same: flat out confident whether they knew what they were doing or not. I believe an exec who was introspective and open about his ignorance would be kicked to the curb. I consider this blind reliance on people who appear to know what they're doing a sad evolutionary weakness.

I respect guys like George Soros, who can change their mind at an instant and admit just how fragile their knowledge is. The opposite would be Geoffrey Chew, struggling to make his S-Matrix theory work for years and years in the face of ideas that didn't require extensive modifications to fit empirical data. My theory: do what the crowd won't do: in this case, admit when I'm wrong then change direction.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

What happens when too much money chases a fixed number of stocks? Is the result an inevitable crash? Everyone can't do well at the same time can they?

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Completely Useless Speculation

It would've been interesting if the European Union would've mandated the adoption of a common language as a prerequisite to adopting the Euro. (English is an obvious candidate, but there would've been an uproar among people fearful of losing their culture.) Something similar to how Indonesia declared market Malay as their national language to unite thousands of islands with their own languages.

Damned interesting books

The Black Swan and Fooled by Randomness by Nicholas Nassim Taleb are the most interesting nonfiction I think I've ever read.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Random thought of the day

I think Mexican ninjas would've been sweeter than Japanese ones.
Launching a startup is one of the most mentally unhealthy things you can do. (Especially alone.) All your fear and inadequacies sit there and stare back at you and say, "How you gonna pull this off, fuckface?" I've wanted to quit, but I have to finish now. I don't even care if I lose money now, I've got to finish.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Years of experience in the industry is a poor indicator for how much somebody can actually accomplish. What matters is how many of those moments were focused, and is the stuff you're learning useful for the future.

And if you're 3 or 4 times more productive and useful than another employee in your field, no company will ever pay you 3 or 4x what that other employee makes. The only way out of a company not valuing you accurately is starting your own company.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Asstastic Countrywide

I'm getting the following message trying to transfer money from my savings account at Countrywide Bank:

Our online banking system is currently unavailable. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. Please try again later.

I read on Paul Kedrosky's blog that the entire financial sector is being cluster bombed in order to scare out rumors that a large financial company is filing for bankruptcy protection, with Countrywide stock down 28%. I had to make sure Countrywide still has FDIC protection this morning (imagine if any bank ever lost it; the run on the bank would be catastrophic! I should know more about the protocol for losing FDIC coverage...) Countrywide is even putting press release style messages above my account info, saying that their business is actually looking up, which of course erodes my confidence further.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

One nice thing about working alone...

is that I can start dancing during the workday if Justin Timberlake commands it.

Monday, January 7, 2008

When programs make you look dumb

I normally attempt to take responsibility for all my actions (or at least I like to fantasize that I do), but if a program allows me to make a single mistake, I consider it the failure of the program (and it's my failure if I wrote that program). I recently wrote on my own facebook wall accidentally, if your first instinct is to say, "wow, you're not that smart", your attitude is holding back progress in software.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Google maps for grocery stores

My dad wants Google Maps for grocery stores. You should be able to type in your shopping list and have the quickest route through the store printed out for you.

The dried sweetened hibiscus flowers...

from Trader Joe's are tasty


Slavery was legal in Saudi Arabia until 1962!