17 March, 2009

I don’t write here (which is a shame, because I should); but just because I don’t write here doesn’t mean I don’t write. To wit:


13 February, 2008

It was rainy all today.  Waiting at my bus stop tonight, the air was filled with a hanging drizzle – like small raindrops that had forgotten their way to the ground halfway there.  There was a large puddle where the road dipped, and when cars would drive through they would send walls of water out on either side.  The puddle-water would also splash up to form large drops on the car, on its undercarriage and its sides.  The water coming off the cars would evaporate, forming a thicker mist in the already saturated cold air.  This thicker mist would cling to the cars and train behind them when they drove, until the cars stopped at a red light, when mist would exude from the car uniformly, surrounding each car and creating tendrils in the headlights, giving the impression of headlights that clouded the world rather than illuminating it.  Eventually no more water all the droplets would run off a car or have turned into dissipating mist, and each car would be free of its cloud.

More Palindromes

9 February, 2008

“Wolf flow” (sounds scary, though I don’t know what it is)

“Draw a ward” (maybe a magical instruction?)

Both of these sound like they need some more words in them to be really good.   So maybe they’re just seeds of some longer palindromes.

Further thought: palindromes are pretty cool units of language.  Repeating a palindromic phrase any number of times creates another palindrome — so “wolf flow wolf flow” is a palindrome, as is “wolf flow wolf flow wolf flow” and so on.  (I wonder if there’s any palindrome that still makes some sense after an arbitrary number of repetitions….)  Also, if one considers two palindromes ‘A’ and ‘B’, combining them yields a new palindrome as long as A and B are in palindromic order — ABA will be a palindrome, as will will BAAB or ABAAABA.  Somewhat mathematical bits of English, palindromes are (which maybe explains why nerdy folks like them so much).

New Palindromes?

30 January, 2008

“A mall llama”


“llama mall”

(I haven’t seen these anywhere else — and so was pretty pleased when I came up with them.)

Only in dreams

20 January, 2008

I normally don’t have dreams (or don’t remember them upon waking), but this past week or so was different.  I had a number of dreams – bad and good – that stayed with me upon waking.  Somewhat reformatted for clarity of reading, here they are.

Read the rest of this entry »

Write Club

15 December, 2007

I’ve been having a good time the past few weeks writing stories of exactly one hundred words long along with a number of others over at Viking Cat’s site.   Given the minimal effort in writing such a short short story, the return is very high.

Constraint breeds creativity — pretty much all the stories posted there weekly are better than they have any right to be.  Plus, every week there are a few that really hit home for me.

It’s also nice to have a well posed, externally generated, writing task every week.  Keeps me brain’s creative writing muscles exercised.


2 December, 2007

Given there’s a limited number of short combinations of letters, and a much greater number of complex ideas that people want to express succinctly, there’s bound to be overlap in acronyms.

Confusion about acronyms is less common than I would expect.  Partly this is because certain acronyms practially become words unto themselves — such as LASER, SCUBA, and even USSR or USA.  of context.  Context also helps avoid confusion: the surrounding information helps to distinguish between PC as ‘personal computer’ or as ‘politically correct.’

I also realized there’s a temporal element to avoiding confusion.  As recently as a few years ago, if someone referenced a video game as AC, one could assume they meant Asheron’s Call.  Now, they’ll almost certainly be talking about Assassin’s Creed.

I assume some linguist, somewhere, has studied the lifetime of a meaning for an acronym.

Interactivity and Choice

1 December, 2007

Some of the recent bifurcation of opinions about Assassin’s Creed got me thinking.  Some reviewers are marking the game down because there isn’t much variety of gameplay.  Other internet denizens are (essentially) saying that the process of trying to streamline the game to finish it faster decreases the fun of the game.  The game reviewers, they say, are playing it with the wrong mindset.

This disagreement points out one of the subtle misconceptions about games.  Players (or at least I, as a player) want interactivity in a game, but don’t want an overabundance of options.  The player’s actions should have an effect, but what actions can be performed, what things can be affected, should be constrained.  From what I’ve seen, Assassin’s Creed is a game with a lot of interactivity, as the main character can touch and take advantage of the environment in many ways, with a plethora of context-sensitive actions.  It’s also a game with a lot of choice in regards to how to approach the missions in the game.

One reason the two camps of opinion can’t see eye to eye is because they’re not separating the game’s interactivity and the choices it provides.  The reviewers apparently chose options that effectively limited their interactivity with the game, and it became repetitive.  Others just tried to interact with the game as much as possible, and the un-fun choices became invisible and, in fact, disappear entirely.

Maybe there is a game design flaw in Assassin’s Creed, but I doubt it’s what the reviewers are claiming.  The flaw may not be that the game is repetitive per se, but that it allows the player to choose to make the game repetitive.  Certainly it seems to be that if you play the game as intended, Assassin’s Creed is great.  The question is if you’ll play it as intended or not.

Living in the Internet

25 November, 2007

This mass of computers and electrons that we think of as the internet is an odd thing.  I often think of it as something to be consumed (in the sense of TV and books — not like cake and sandwiches).  Because I fundamentally interact with so little of the internet, and that interaction mostly as consumer, I forget how much someone, anyone, can affect the course of online events.  I’m impressed and gladdened by how Desert Bus for Hope has galvanized so many people to do good, and how every individual contribution really matters.

I also forget, sometimes, that there are people behind all the webpages — and even that I know some of them.  I’ve been busy enough over the last month that I haven’t been regularly checking the websites that I normally read every day.  So, I’ll take the opportunity now to say thanks to Chad for this.  It means a lot to see written down the feelings of friend like Chad (not that they need to be written down — but that sentiment is).  So, I’ll try even harder to keep up with the Middle Name blogging, and try to use the comment feature more regularly.  I do both want to affect (that is, encourage) and effect (that is, make a difference to) Chad’s webpage and life as much as he has for mine.

It’s sad that we’re not on the same coast, Chad.  But at least we are on the same internet.

Hollywood Hills and New England Fog

25 November, 2007

To those not from Los Angeles, Hollywood movies can seem to take place in an otherworld, unknown geography.  The most striking example of this isn’t the presence of palm trees, but the hilltop vista overlooking a city of twinkling lights.  Such a view does not exist for many people in the country (especially those in the less densely populated and flatter Midwest).  Hollywood movies end up having an air of unreality about them – as if they can’t ever fully relate to the everyday world of the viewer.

I wonder if there’s a similar effect for denizens of desert climates and video games.  The nigh ubiquitous fog that limits players’ view of the world makes sense to me, as a New Englander.  Fog that clouds the edges of the world is frequent, and heavier fog is not unheard of.  But, for someone who hasn’t experienced such severe haze, I wonder if video games have an extra sense of unearthliness that I don’t sense.


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