selenite0: (worse if life is fair)
I often generate character names by picking a semi-random country and mixing up the names of their cabinet ministers. Today that led me to discover that Burmese/Myanmaran Home Minister Ko Ko, has the same name as Lord High Executioner from Gilbert & Sullivan's The Mikado. Given that the guy is in charge of suppressing domestic disorder, was granted the job by the military junta, and has kept it during the transition back to a nominally civilian government, he's probably the closest thing the country has to a Lord High Executioner.

The bogglement over this discovery has cost me at least half an hour of writing time.

I wonder if he's ever seen the play? Reminds me of when some classmates discovered the MIT faculty included a Stanley Kowalski, PhD.
selenite0: (GURPS everything)
It's been 4.5 years since I've GMed a tabletop role-playing game. The skills haven't completely atrophied though. I applied some of them today running a command post exercise for my battalion. One of the exercise inputs was a Facebook rumor that the derailed tanker car of chlorine gas was actually a tank of ethanol, with the whole evacuation an excuse to keep people from getting at the 'shine. Alas, they went into rumor control mode before I could justify sending in a pickup truck loaded with some empty 55-gallon drums and a welding rig.
selenite0: (Couple-FenConII-kiss)
I just brought [livejournal.com profile] celticdragonfly home from the hospital. A little later than they'd planned to discharge her, they were worried about her O2 sats. She's resting comfortably and trying to keep from talking. Should be back on solid food in a few days.

I couldn't find our bell, but we have a hobby horse that whinnies. So if she needs something she just has to squeeze its ear.
selenite0: (Jamie glasses)
Jamie's gotten really good at reading. He's at a stage where he can look over my shoulder and read out loud whatever he sees. So I had to turn on the profanity filter in Warcraft.
selenite0: (Alanna May 2010)
Alanna has a new trick to get attention--claiming to have an sudden owie. She'd be more convincing if she didn't keep doing this while standing still on a padded surface. Last time she did this I went over and asked "Did you hurt your wolf bone? Is your wolf bone hurt?"

"Yes."

So I kissed her on the forehead.

"All better now!"
selenite0: (home is people)
We had a joint birthday party for the girls last weekend. I expect Maggie will start wanting a party of her own by her teens but so far they're happy to have one big party.

Best joke at our annual training camp: telling people my badge is "Buzz Lightyear's belt buckle." It's pretty damn close. Only worked if they had kids in the right age range, though.

Best moment of AT: hearing the exercise evaluators report that the troops handled every input thrown without hesitation or mistakes.

Playing Warcraft with my family now includes my father-in-law, sister-in-law, and daughter. The Borg got nothing on Blizzard.

Interesting list of the built-in tendencies that keep people from making rational decisions. Hat tip to [livejournal.com profile] nancylebov.

Story Time

Jun. 2nd, 2010 10:55 pm
selenite0: (Jamie glasses)
Jamie decided tonight that he wanted to be the one telling the story. And not just any story, but one he made up himself. He's not very good at it yet, but I encouraged him all I could because it's great to see him using his imagination and making something of his own. So Maggie and I got to listen to the story of the Three Little Fishes and the Big Bad Shark. With their houses of seaweed, sand, and pirate ship.

"Not by the scales of our finny fin fins!"
selenite0: (Alanna)
On returning home after drill I flopped on the couch to catch up with [livejournal.com profile] celticdragonfly on her (less pleasant) day. As we were chatting our two year old wandered up and offered me an M&M. I approve of her generosity, but if she's got access to a candy bag we're in trouble. So I asked "Where did you get that?"

She proudly replied, "From my mouf!"

Yep, honest answer.

Austin AAR

Mar. 28th, 2010 10:22 am
selenite0: (Bandaged Maggie)
TXSG meetings attended: 1
Wrong turns made finding the place: too many to count
Pay: $85 (this is my annual pay unless I get called up for an emergency)
Austinites yelling obscenities at the sight of a uniform: 1
Kids given a smile and wave for yelling "hey, a soldier!": 2 pairs
Thanks for service: 1*
Friends met as planned: 2
Friends met unexpectedly: 2

*Outside city limits.

Learning

Feb. 28th, 2010 04:42 pm
selenite0: (Bandaged Maggie)
It's been a good week for learning stuff. Last weekend [livejournal.com profile] kd5mdk and [livejournal.com profile] jazz007 took me shooting. Turns out I can make a decently tight group once I have some practice. Still haven't decided what I'm going to buy for a 9mm.

Not so much fun was finding out one of my co-workers is advocating JFK shooting conspiracy theories. Ended that conversation fast.

There was all sorts of interesting stuff in my Hazardous Materials class yesterday. Especially the discovery that selenite is "toxic but not combustible." And here I'd always thought I was the reverse.

De-Buzzing

Feb. 14th, 2010 11:33 am
selenite0: (Looked so good on paper)
I hadn't paid much attention to Google Buzz, I'm on more social sites than I can maintain at this point anyway. So I was bothered to find that it automatically dips into my email history and makes connections with people. Fortunately [livejournal.com profile] archangelbeth posted a link to how to turn off Buzz for real. Thanks, Beth!
selenite0: (Kermit)
Inside the house it sounds like a pretty respectable rainstorm. It's not, we have a clear blue sky. The sun is melting the half-foot or so of snow on the roof and the runoff is dripping off the eaves. The gutters and ditches look like we're having serious rain too. It's not all gone, there's solid snow in all the yards and fields. The snowmen are having a rough time though. In a few few more days it might actually look like Texas here again.

I think we're going to need three or four snow-free winters to get us back on the average. I won't complain.
selenite0: (Couple-FenConII-kiss)
. . . but sometimes I get lucky.

[livejournal.com profile] celticdragonfly celebrated her birthday yesterday by going in for laser surgery to repair a worsening tear in her eye. Not knowing if she'd come home with both eyes bandaged shut I decided to get her some non-visual b-day presents--good chocolates and a lilac scent candle. She loves lilacs but I've completely struck out trying to get them for her here.

Once we had her home and she'd had a chance to relax and eat lunch I dug out the presents. I came up behind her holding the wrapped candle as she was sharing some more details about the operation. "Oh, and the worst bit--this might squick you out--when the laser was cutting on my eye, I smelled something, and I realized that I was smelling bits of my own eye that were burnt off." Clearly there'd be no better straight line so I handed her the package. When she had it open I said "Now you can replace that with a better scent."
selenite0: (Prayer)
The weather gave [livejournal.com profile] tepintzin an unexpected night in DFW on her way back to Afghanistan, so I swung by the hotel to hang out with her for a couple hours. It's our first meeting IRL, though we both know some of the same people. Had a great time talking about Life/Universe/Everything. Hopefully the rest of her tour will go smoothly.
selenite0: (Bandaged Maggie)
The State Guard is giving us a lot of training to be ready for taking care of refugees. Two weeks ago it was wristbanding them so we wouldn't lose any. This weekend I got basic first aid training. Good course, the instructors were members of our regiment with experience as EMTs and such. At least the parts I saw were good. My CO wasn't there for medical reasons and as XO I had to cover whatever came up: regimental staff meeting, updating our training records with HQ, more records with the platoon leaders, and signing assorted forms. So I saw most of the class, and had time to read the book so I could cover what I'd missed. Passed the test with no problem. It was the practical part of the training that I kept missing out on. So when I got home I found a couple of volunteers to help me with the hands-on part before I could forget it.
selenite0: (anvil)
I'm still getting co-workers coming up to me and saying they have a hard time recognizing me without the beard. Which is a bit amusing given that I grew it after starting to work here. I can't blame them. Mirrors were a bit of a shock to me for a week or so.
selenite0: (Been what I chose)
. . . or rather I soon will be, once the last of the insignia arrive in the mail.

On Saturday I was sworn into the Texas State Guard. I'm in the 4th Civil Affairs Regiment, exact assignment still to be determined. Our normal mission is disaster relief, such as helping out folks hit by wildfires. We specifically train for operating shelters. Helping house refugees in the wake of Katrina boosted the reputation of the TXSG. Currently they're trying to double their size to pick up more missions the National Guard is too busy to handle with it's deployments.

I'd read about the State Guard but hadn't thought they'd take me until I met a couple of members recruiting at Lockheed's "Preparedness Fair." I spend way too much time in front of a computer cranking out paperwork just to feed the bureaucracy. Now I have a chance to get out in the fresh air (or smokey air if we're dealing with wildfires again) and help people in need. It's also a form of military service, something I've been wanting to do since 9/11. Finding out that the Air Force's take on my reserve obligation is roughly "we'll call you if we get invaded by aliens" has been damn frustrating when there's a war on. Now I can serve, if not anywhere near a combat zone, at least picking up the tasks of the people who are getting deployed.

The "back" part of being back in uniform is a bit ironic, as nothing is usable from my old uniforms. After 14 years the pants don't fit any more. The AF promoted me while I was in the reserves, so the rank can't be recycled. I'm getting ACUs instead of BDUs. My specialty badge has been replaced by Buzz Lightyear's belt buckle. And I changed my name a decade back so the nametag can't be reused either. So my uniform is starting out from scratch.

I'm also going to need some new icons . . . the beard is gone.
selenite0: (mad science)
There's a hypothesis floating around that we may not be living in the "real world" but are part of a simulation. Setting aside the massive assumptions in that argument, how would we go about checking to see if we are in a sim instead of reality?

For a Warcraft character there's a lot of clues that they're in an arbitrary rule set. Horses vanishing when they go through a door . . . being able to hand someone an object but not set it on a table . . . not being able to drink milk without some lessons in the school of hard knocks . . . they're all clues. Then there's the random problems that come from errors in the code. Sometimes you can move across a flat surface . . . sometimes there's a little wrinkle and you're stuck. People or animals you've dealt with before act in bizarre ways or freeze. You can be moving down a ramp and suddenly fall through the solid ground. The bugs are a bigger giveaway than the deliberate design omissions.

So what bugs make it look like we're in a simulation? Well, there's light. Sometimes it's a particle. Sometimes it's a wave. Nobel prize winners wave their hands and gibber trying to resolve this. But that's exactly the kind of glitch you get when developers steal legacy code from two different applications. Verse A had light-waves, Verse B had photons, and our world behaves according to which one a particular piece of code came from.

Then there's the speed-of-light limit. Integral to physics? Or just a simple barrier the devs threw in to keep us from peeking at under construction areas? ("Nerf light!" [livejournal.com profile] celticdragonfly says to this.)

Biology is full of bugs, no pun intended for once. The boot process for life is hard to explain. Evolution keeps producing errors despite millions of iterations. And human psychology . . . well, is that a bug or a deliberate design feature?

I mean, if you have two possible explanations for how the human mind works:
1. A product of evolution intended to maximize healthy offspring
2. A scenario generator optimized to produce entertaining conflicts for spectators and role-players

. . . which one fits the observed data better?
selenite0: (worse if life is fair)
Our goal was for this to be a quiet weekend at home, getting a bit of extra housework done before [livejournal.com profile] celticdragonfly has some downtime so we can relax afterwards. We actually got a little of that done . . .

The fun part of the weekend was having Tom come over for gaming. Probably did more talking than gaming, and Maggie was in as many games as any of the adults. She roped me and [livejournal.com profile] celticdragonfly into the American Girl game. Not a bad game for kid stuff, you actually had to make some resource decisions instead of mindlessly rolling and moving. Tom introduced her and [livejournal.com profile] fordprfct to Zooloretto while I grilled dinner. Afterwards we had a round of Race for the Galaxy for the guys, where I proved that getting the right cards in the right order greatly reduces the amount of skill you need to win.

Maggie'd been feeling a bit off through the day and was feverish by evening, so we punted on church. She was hot enough we decided to have her seen, so I took her to the "Minute Clinic" at the local CVS. The nurse discussed various possibilities, then took her temperature, and said "She needs to be worked up." Okay. A new ER not connected to a hospital had opened up nearby so we headed over. The "FirstChoiceER" folks are efficient. Only one form to fill out, and I was still working on it when the doctor came in to see her. Symptoms matched influenza so they did a nose swab. Results came back positive for H1N1. Oink. So Maggie is on Tamiflu and the rest of the family is getting a prophylactic dose of the same. Jamie can still go to school unless he has symptoms.

I'm happy with the First Choice folks. The paper work guys were efficient, the nurse was gentle with Maggie doing an unpleasant task, and the doctor discussed possibilities and what he'd be able to find out from tests instead of pretending omniscience. Good facility, too. Nice mural for the kid room though Maggie was too wiped out to appreciate it. Now part of this is that it's a new outfit so there weren't many other people clogging up the system. But they are clearly trying to do a good job rather than go through the motions.

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