Ne quid nimis

Terence wrote “Moderation in all things” (in Latin, but close enough for my purposes).

When I append “(including moderation),” as I am wont to do, I usually mean to make the aphorism self-referential in order to extol the virtues of occasional excess in one’s life.

But this time, the context is with respect to this blog: I received my first comment spam (now deleted). 

To avoid this in the future, I’ve unfortunately had to change my blog settings from “Moderation in all things (including comment moderation)” to “Comment moderation in all things.”

If you’re a non-spamming human, don’t worry: your comments will be accepted.  This first line of defense is against spammers, not trolls, so flame on!

Of course, the main point of bothering to tell anyone about this is my inability to resist a few good (or maybe not?) plays on words.

Don’t Squeeze the Paint Bottle!

I told you, but would you listen? No, of course not.

This bottle of paint had lumps. It wouldn’t come out the nozzle so I squeezed harder even though I knew it was a bad idea. Too hard, it turns out.

I wasn’t aimed at my face, this is just the paint that bounced up off my palette. It didn’t actually get in my eye as far as I know.

My miniatures were mostly spared. I got a few spots on my boats (not painted yet anyway, mostly) and a few on Andy’s battle nuns, luckily in places easy to touch up.

The Future is Here

Most people think “the future” involves jet packs and flying cars, but I disagree (even if you manage to make a jetpack that doesn’t ingest fossil fuels). The future, if there is one to be had, must lie along a different path.

In fact, the toys of the future cannot exist at all, in the traditional sense, because in the long run there simply isn’t enough “stuff” to go around. Inasmuch as the toys of the future will ever exist, they already do; but as William Gibson has said, “the future is already here – it is just unevenly distributed.”

I recently saw the latest sign of this future in the state of my Netflix queue. For the first time, the number of entries in our “Instant” queue has outnumbered the number of entries in our “DVD” queue. This bolsters my hope that someday soon, I’ll be able to watch whatever I want whenever and wherever I want (for a modest fee, of course) without having to buy something or plan ahead.

Those of you who have been watching pay per view and Tivo for the last 5 years may think I’m arriving late to the party, but the Netflix streaming-on-demand service is different enough that I disagree.

I Prefer Steel

These days it seems hip to say “Steel is Real,” but I’m not a big fan of this phrase. Carbon fiber, Aluminum, and Titanium are also real, of course, but the intended meaning is that the “feel” of riding a bike with a steel frame is better than the feel of riding frames made of other materials.

Most of the people who say “steel is real” are either riding 25 year old crappy ten speeds with gaspipe tubing, or modern steel frames made with thin walled but larger diameter tubes. Neither of these classes of bikes have the “steel is real” feel. Personally, I ride a 25 year old mid-range ten speed with high end gaspipe tubing, which is to say, not a bike with a “steel is real” feel. In fact I’m not sure I’ve ever ridden one of those bikes. Maybe it would be great, but would it be worth the money to find out?

That said, I do still prefer steel frames. I had a lot of fun browsing Busted Carbon, a blog dedicated to images of broken carbon fiber bike frames and parts. Reading that site provides one reason why I prefer steel.

It’s not because carbon fiber fails and steel doesn’t. Steel doesn’t handle running into walls any better than carbon fiber does (though apparently it lasts longer if you tip your bike over in the living room.) The difference is how steel fails. You won’t find any pictures of bent carbon fiber parts on that blog, because carbon fiber doesn’t bend. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a hairline crack before it’s too late. More likely, a part will suddenly and catastrophically fail and cause a crash.

Aluminum and titanium also break more quickly than steel once they become fatigued. I’m not against riding an aluminum bike in theory. My main problem with aluminum frames is that they’re ugly. Actually, so are carbon fiber frames, but that’s not my primary motive with those.

Washington DC vs. Fallout 3

When I was in college, I played a lot of Doom. For those of you not familiar with Doom, it was an early 3d first person perspective video game, and used very basic textures (graphical patterns) on the walls. One night after a long session of Doom, I walked out into the academically inspiring hallway of Wean Hall and turned quickly to face the wall, where I thought I saw a secret door… before realizing I had been playing games for a really long time.

This weekend I had similarly odd experiences almost everywhere I went in Washington DC. You see, I played maybe about 70 hours of Fallout 3, which is set in a “postapocalyptic radioactive wasteland” version of Washington DC and its environs. I already knew they did a really good job of copying the look and feel of Washington DC: so good that Metro passengers complained about the graphic depictions of a post-holocaust DC in advertisements. But going to DC, and having Deja Vu from in-game events really drove the point home.

So I thought I’d take a few minutes to provide a bit of a comparison.

DC has done a pretty good job of cleaning up the Mall. They filled in all the trenches, though not all the grass has grown back yet. There was only one fallen tree, and the only Super Mutants left were caused more by overeating than radioactive mutations.

The Washington Monument was patched up really well, you can hardly see the cracks. They’re getting a lot more radio station coverage all over the city, so I expect they must’ve put in an even bigger antenna up there.

The metro stations haven’t really changed since the game. The trains are back on the track and running again, and they took most of the sleeping shelters out. They also removed all the vending machines and Nuka-Cola machines. But other than a little cleanup and replacing the Protectrons with humans, there’s not much of a difference: there’s only so much you can do with bare cement.

They removed all of the Pulowski Preservation Shelters, but apparently they’ve learned from the past: there are “Evacuation Route” signs posted prominently along major routes next to the street signs.

The air and space museum was bigger than it was in Fallout 3, but not as interesting. They mostly only had space ships and airplanes which actually existed in real life. The only other museum we went to was the Natural History museum: I’m not sure if it was represented at all in Fallout, but if it was I never went there.

Overall, I’m inspired to go back and play Fallout 3 some more. I’d like to see a few of the locations I don’t remember seeing in game, such as Dupont Circle. Maybe I can remember the location of one of the vaults in case I get bored on our next road trip.

Spammer Jokes

Today I realized that there are plenty of funny non-PC jokes out there, which could very easily be turned into funny jokes which target a group no one will be offended by: Spammers.

Lawyer jokes are particularly appropriate:

Q: What do you call 1000 spammers at the bottom of the ocean?
A: A good start!

Q: Mom, can you get pregnant from anal sex?
A: Of course, where do you think spammers come from?