4/28/2008

04-28-08 - 1

Planning dates or trips really stresses me out. If the restaurant or whatever activity sucks I feel responsible because I picked it. 99% of the time the suckitude could've been detected if I'd just done the right research, looked at the right clues, maybe cross-checked the reviews I found with other things I was familiar with. After the stressful planning, if it all goes well I just sort of feel relieved, and if it doesn't go well I feel embarassed, ashamed, and sorry. Urg.

4/27/2008

04-27-08 - 1

I've finally found the really good hip new-electro dance bars in SF. These nights are almost intentionally not well publicised. They're in smaller places, they don't have fancy fliers. Sometimes I'm frustrated that these things are so hard to find and wish they would put better information out, but of course if they did it would attract the "bridge & tunnel" crowd and the popped collar yuppie douchies and frotteur/voyeur set. I am a little bit out of the loop though, so by the time I find places they are already on the downward part of their life cycle curve.

4/26/2008

04-26-08 - 3

I'm stuck on the gaijin sushi items. I love my salmon, yellow tail, tuna (many types), eel, and don't really appreciate anything else. I did convert to the minimal-soy dogma a little while ago, I do want to actually taste the fish. I'm not too bothered that I don't really like octopus or uni or some of the weirder stuff like geoduck clam or whatever, but I should at least like mackerel and halibut and that kind of stuff and I just don't. Actually I like raw white fish much better as crudo (Italian raw fish).

I wish more Japanese places had real natural soy sauce & fresh wasabe. The shit they serve is kind of like a breakfast place putting Aunt Jemima on the table (= Kikkoman Soy), and I Can't Believe It's Not Butter (= tube Wasabe). I think about the Seinfeld where Jerry sneaks in his own maple syrup. I imagine getting my own fresh wasabe root and smuggling it inside my pants, then I take a rasp out of my coat pocket, poke the wasabe out through my fly, hold my plate down at my crotch and grate off a bit.

04-26-08 - 2

A lot of the companies I'm talking to these days use a semi-democratic model (Valve and Google, for example), where in theory people from the bottom can push good ideas and decisions are made by concensus. I have no idea how well it really works at those places, but I find that these kinds of things almost never wind up working as real democracies. The theory is that all the agents act and think independently, and thus ideas are judged only by their merits. That doesn't happen because people are human. A few different social problems hold it back.

Groupthink almost always develops in these groups. What I mean is a certain style of thinking becomes accepted by the majority and no longer questioned, and people find it easier to just go along with majority. This style might be something like love of STL, or love of very simple exposed C-style interfaces, or just the general concept that C++ is broken and many of our woes are due to the language, or whatever. It's some belief that's not really rational and becomes a common framework for everyone and the group thinks similarly. Groupthink develops for various obvious reasons. The senior people tend to hire new people that think similarly to them. The new people are taught the current way of thinking. People who think differently get in big debates all the time and get sick of it and just stop objecting. When the majority is against you, you tend to just stop talking.

Leaders and followers almost always develop. Some people are just naturally pushy, or very respected, or whatever, and take up leadership roles even in a putative true democracy. Similarly some people are just weak or natural followers or just lazy or don't care, and so rather than really be independent they just follow one of the leaders. This means that a few loud voices tend to dominate and you don't really get a bunch of independent thoughts on problems. This is totally independent of any formal heirarchy, and of course it develops in social groups of all types. At a place like Google, for example, I'm sure that many people adopt the "Larry and Sergey" way of doing things because it's easier to defend.

A lot of the problem comes from subconscious laziness. Really thinking independently about various problems is very tiring. Most people stop doing so and just go with the flow because it's easier. Usually this isn't even a conscious decision and people aren't aware of it. I've commented before about how when I'm out cycling by myself, sometimes I'll zone out and stop paying attention to my pace, and then all of a sudden I wake up and discover I'm going like 5 mph. The human mind has a built in subconscious desire not to work; it's very lazy, it's designed to conserve your energy for the next big chase or fight. In intellectual work, if we don't force ourselves to be active and vigilant in our thinking, we slip into lazy habits and just go with the flow and stop thinking for ourselves.

One way to fight this is turnover. You want to hire new people with very different styles from your core. This goes against most people's hiring practices who do retarded things like favor candidates that use the same coding convention as you. That may make it slightly easier to integrate someone, but it's much better for the health of the group to bring in people with different ideas. Then when you do hire them, you have to be a bit careful to not beat them into the groupthink mold. You also want to listen to their ideas on how you do things, because they bring a very valuable fresh mind. Often when I was moving around from company to company I would come into a new place and they would have some absolutely insane onerous process that made it so hard for the artists to work, and everyone there was just convinced that "that's the way it is", and I would be like "whoah whoah this is insane, you shouldn't have the artists spending 2 hours to sync every morning, or running a debug build at 1 fps" or whatever. Of course the newbie will also be a bit retarded since they don't know your process, so you have to be smart about what you listen to and what you ignore. When I was hiring I mostly did this the "bad way" ; it's definitely tricky to balance the immediate usefulness of hiring similar people to the long term health of keeping a diverse population.

Another problem with groups is that people have a tendency to develop an "us vs them" mentality. This is also subconscious and it pervades all groups, not just these companies. People have an innate desire to be part of a tribe and to feel like they're banded together against the rest of the world. It's a sort of pack mentality, and it leads to being very defensive of the practices inside the group and being dismissive of voices from outside the group.

Part of the "us vs them" mentality comes from creating myths about how great your practices are. All successful groups tend to over-value their practices and think the way they do things is great because they've been successful in the past. Well, maybe so. More likely your success is due to A) good people B) good circumstances, and C) luck. Human beings in general vastly underestimate the amount of variance in success, and look too hard for direct cause & effect relationships that often do not exist. This is most obviously retarded in gamblers; anyone who wins a hand of poker makes up all kinds of reasons why their style somehow led to that success. It's less obvious in endeavors with lower variance, but still present. For example, maybe some of your practices really are good, but many of your practices may not be; people tend to associate success with every single practice and elevate them all to the magic formula that brought that success.

None of that is to say that the democratic models are a bad thing, obviously they're very cool and successful if done right. But the idea that decisions will be made rationally and on their own merits is a bit of a dream. And how well you fit in is not so much about how you work in a democracy, but about how you meld with the dominant thought camps in the borg network.

04-26-08 - 1

I kind of like getting library books that people have written in. Not a ton of writing, and not highlighting or underlining, that's awful and rude, but just little thoughts scribbled in the margins every few pages. It makes me feel like I'm reading the book with someone else, talking with them about our thoughts on the book. I remember back in college I got on a classic-horror kick and read through the entire collection of Sheriden Le Fanu books, and some other single person had scribled a few notes in all of them; this person had read through the same set of 12 books before me, and I followed in their footsteps with their notes as a guide and companion.

4/24/2008

04-24-08 - 1

I tell a lot of the companies I'm talking to that I want to work on "technology". I get the impression that they think that means I want to go off in a corner and do impractical pie in the sky researchy junk. Not at all. Something like figuring out the best way to turn gamepad stick deflection into character motion is a very interesting piece of technology. Writing Maya UI boxes to expose shader parameters to artists for the standardized shaders is "wiring". To me lots of aspects of gameplay programming or seemingly mundane things are actually "technology", it's more a question of whether the problem is already solved and I'm just plugging in a known solution, or whether it's something where I have some freedom to find the right answer.

In video games, the most basic aspects of the player interaction are still some of the most unsolved. How do the sticks turn into motion. How does that motion show in animations. How does physics & kinematic animation interact. How does physics limit your motion. How does a 3rd person camera track the player & the action. etc. very basic stuff, really not solved, and lots of interesting technology to work on.

4/22/2008

04-22-08 - 1

Am I an obsessive over-perfectionist? Absolutely. Do I get bogged down in minor details and waste time fixing other people's mistakes that aren't actually important? I hope not. Anyone who does that is just retarded, since a true perfectionist should be trying to optimize their overall efficiency. A big part of the overall optimization is making good decisions about what to obsess over and what to let slide. Also a good perfectionist realizes that you aren't just trying to optimize a certain product or a certain process, you are trying to optimize the big picture which includes your relations with your coworkers, your amount of intellectual capital, the annoyance factor you are building up from nagging people, the mental momentum of the established way of doing things, the value of the existing standard & documentation & knowledge, and lots of other fuzzy factors.

4/21/2008

04-21-08 - 5

Checker and I were breaking the ends off of blue lake green beans a while ago, and we amusedly noted our different styles. Checker was breaking the end off each one by one whatever way he picked them up. I would take a bunch and turn them all the same way then break off all the ends at once. We figured it was an example of people taking different approaches to the same problem that appear very different but perform almost identically.

I now see it's an example of how people can take very different approaches to a problem, think that they have spanned the solution space, and yet still be ridiculously far off the optimum performance.

The right way to take the ends of blue lakes is similar to the right asparagus solution : just use a knife. Line up a bunch on a board and chop. Line up, chop. You're done. It's an order of magnitude faster than the hand breaking method, like seconds instead of minutes.

Presumably the very common practice of breaking off the ends of green beans by hand came from the historical practical of de-stringing string beans, but modern green beans don't have strings so this practice is vestigial.

04-21-08 - 4

While I'm on culinary instruction : almost everybody cuts bell peppers wrong, even the majority of trained chefs do it wrong.

The right way ("right" being defined as fast & easy) is to cut the flesh away from the core, not to try to cut the core out of the pepper. Basically you want to chop off the outsides the same way you take the outside off a pineapple. Also never detach the stem part of the top from the core, you want it to hold the core together so you don't make a mess.

In detail : stand the bell pepper up vertically ; put the most stable end down, whatever that is. Your non-knife hand should be stabilizing the pepper by placing a finger tip at the top. Make vertical cuts downward with your knife, following the shape of the outside of the pepper, to cut off just the edible pepper walls. The knife should go right along the inside of the pepper walls so that the veins are left attached to the core. Don't try to cut too much in one slice or you will cut into the core or the veins - just take off the outside. It will take 3-8 cuts to take off all the outside depending on how irregular the shape of the pepper is. Your non-knife hand should now be holding the core with all the seeds and veins attached, which you throw away. When you do it right (very easy with practice) you will be left with 6-8 slabs of edible pepper exterior with almost no veins or seeds, completely ready for use.

For example, all of these people are 100% retarded. retard 1 , retard 2 Like hey, I know nothing about anything and my skills suck and my brain is broken, let me make videos telling people how to do things that is totally the wrong way. The blind leading the deaf or something. Yay interwebs.

(I mistakenly had this guy in the retard list, but actually he just shows the wrong way first and then the right way, not retard )

This guy at video.about.com roughly does it right, but his knife skills suck donkey balls. Maybe this is how you will fare since you probably suck ass with a knife too. Go practice dicing onions.

Okay I made my own video . I only had one bell at home so I knew it had to get it in one take. The pressure was on so I went extra slow and careful.

BTW I don't mean to rag on the amateur home chef with shitty skills. This is for you to learn. The thing that pisses me off are these people who presume to be teachers and just suck so bad. How dare you think that you are qualified to teach anyone anything when you obviously haven't studied or put any effort into this subject at all !? I have great respect for the people out there who actually have skills, and there are plenty of them, and it's disgusting for someone to put themselves on that level when they don't deserve it.

04-21-08 - 3

Yesterday laying in the park with Alissa, this single guy came over nearby us and sat in the grass. He started doing some light stretch moves, rolling his shoulders and such, then did a head stand, then some dancy-like dynamic hip stretches. After the warmup he did a bunch of parkour rolls back and forth with pretty solid form, then proceeded to do the beginning Wing Tsun form (horribly though). I guess I should've gone and said Hi since he was doing almost exactly the same stupid things I do when I go to the park by myself, but I was just so blown away by how totally retarded he looked, and how I must look exactly like that all the time.

04-21-08 - 2

The Schwarzenegger-Bloomberg Charlie Rose episide recently was pretty amazing. They're both very impressive politicians, extremely reasonable and rational, they get to the point and talk about the problems with government. A lot of liberals are still anti-Schwarzenegger and I'm not sure why.

04-21-08 - 1

"There are times when I look at people I see nothing worth liking. I want to earn enough I can ... get away from everyone."

Ruh roh shaggy.

4/20/2008

04-20-08 - 1

Bleck. Grass fed beef sucks so bad. It's dry and grainy, and has some weird flavor sort of like your grandma's burned salsbury steak. I just spent some small fortune at Bi Rite on some shitty ass beef just because I don't really have any other nearby grocer options (I love the jive-ass meximarts in general but their steak is pretty poor). The steaks from cows that are stuffed with corn and not allowed to move around much is so much better, such as the Harris ranch stuff. (people think Harris ranch is fancy; lol; they have huge cow pens right next to the freeway out in the central valley with masses of cows jammed together standing in their own poo and chomping on troughs of grain; it's delicious).

Some of the better places now are grass feeding early and then stuffing with corn to "finish" before slaughter. Maybe that would work. I think wild Salmon is similarly shitty, the flavor is nice but it's so dry and dense compared to the lovely light tender farmed stuff.

It's basically trivial to spend a lot of money and produce good food; certainly plenty of people fail to do that, but it requires gross incompetence to screw up. Spending little money and producing delicious food takes care and skill. Of course it also takes a lot of skill to spend lots of money and produce truly superlative food, but very few people in the world ever accomplish that. Even their fanciest creations rarely surpass a good piece of buttered bread.

4/19/2008

04-19-08 - 1

There's an oft-perpetuated myth that asparagus will snap naturally where the woody part ends. The suggestion is you hold the asparagus with your fingers and bend it until it snaps and the point where it snaps is where the edible part ends. This is complete and utter nonsense. It's similar to 19th century mentalist / sleight of hand tricks. The secret to deceiving the rube in this case is where on the asparagus you hold it. The reality is that the asparagus will break roughly at the mid point between your two grip locations. If you hold it from the two ends of the stalk, it will break near the middle. Most of the shysters who propagate this myth choose to hold the stalk with one hand at the base and one hand in the middle of the stalk, which makes it break about 1/4 of the way up, and then they claim that's where the woody part ended.

The better way is just to use your eyes. You can see the transition. This is of course what they are doing, using their eyes to decide where to hold it to snap it. Even if you use your eyes I can't really recommend the snap method, because it's very imprecise and you often snap off lots of good tasty bits. Just use a knife.

Once you cut it, you will see the exposed ring at the base. You can now see how thick the skin is there and decide whether you need to bother with peeling the stalk. Generally the actual woody part is very small or not existant at all on store-bought asparagus, and all you need to do is a bit of peeling.

Addendum : while on the subject of asparagus let's talk about size. It's really funny when people proudly brag about what nice thin asparagus they bought as if it's some prize. The truth is that in the supermarket, the thick asparagus is usually best. The love for thin asparagus is a very common sign of the yuppie fake-foodie pretentious douchebag who hasn't really put any study into food at all but acts like they are some authority just because they shop at Whole Foods and watch Rachel Ray.

The myth of thin asparagus is I think just based on foolishness. We could pretend that it's based on the fact that if you grow your own asparagus, the very first shoots will in fact be thin and tender and delicious, but I'm pretty sure that fact has nothing to do with this common erroneus belief. Asparagus is this plant that's mainly underground and sends up flower stalks over and over kind of like a mushroom. You chop off stalks a few times and it sends up more. When farmers grow asparagus, they of course do not chop off the first growth when it's very young - they sell by the pound and they want it to get bigger. So they let the first stalk grow big, then chop it off. This is the best asparagus and it comes in spring and is quite thick. Then they let it grow stalks again and chop it off. Then they do it again. These stalks will be thinner and thinner as the plant is getting out of season. In the fall you get very thin stalks and they are horrible. Of course the real way to judge the quality of your asparagus is to look at it like any other vegetable. Size doesn't matter so much as the color and texture. It should be all green, without any yellow splotches. The skin should be plump and smooth, never wrinkly. If you can touch it, it should be crisp and snap easily, never bendy.

Amusingly, this asparagus error is so common that you will often find the asparagus bin has been picked through and all the crappy thin stuff has been removed, and only the nice plump crisp thick stuff is left. Well, okie doke. To give people some credit, part of the misconception comes from the fact that thick asparagus does need some peeling. That can be done very quickly with a paring knife if you have top skills, or slightly slower with a veggie peeler.

Now if you are one of the many people suffering from bad information and believe that thin asparagus is good, that doesn't make you a horrible person. But if you brag about that fact and act like you know far more than you do, that's bad. There's general disease in our culture that people like to act like experts and take pride in things that they have put absolutely zero effort into; have you studied food, have you read books, have you practiced, have you asked questions? no? then why the fuck are you pretending to know what you're talking about? The real test comes with how you react to correction. Good people are glad to be corrected and welcome the new information, perhaps with skepticism but still with gratitude.

4/18/2008

04-18-08 - 2

I hate you all so much. You people are not only banal and boring and bland and boorish and bourgeois, you're proactively evil, you make the world worse every day in every way. The most uncreative uninteresting unthoughtful people roll their eyes and whine about how uncool things are. The people with the least to say and never any insight are the loudest and dominate every conversation. The most selfish and uncaring and uncurteous people chew me out for doing things that are totally reasonable. The most uncultured and unintelligent are pretentious and condescending and act superior.

I'm so angry at my fucking human biology which makes me need the company of other humans. I wish I could just go away and live in the woods and commune with the squirrels and be happy, but I can't. My own cells betray me. They force me to seek the approval of these fucking walking turds. My own cells that I care for so well, they force me to feel like a loser if I don't fit in with these slags.

I guess I'm having a bad day. I'm kind of depressed, and in a somewhat amusing feedback loop, it really depresses me when I get depressed. If I was the strong uberman that I think I should be, I wouldn't let myself get depressed, so feeling depressed is a fucking failure, it's being weak, it's giving in to wallowing in teenage woes, and I'm such a fucking loser for doing that, which of course just makes me more depressed.

04-18-08 - 1

My ex-girlfriends all tell me I should "open up". They're wrong. Sometimes I try really opening up and talking about the complicated thoughts I'm having, and it just leads to confusion and makes things worse as they make all kinds of negative conclusions from what I admit. When they say "you need to open up" they really mean "you need to show more affection for me". People don't really want to know what you're thinking. They don't want to hear about your doubts or the hints you're seeing that your relationship isn't going to last or the problems you have with them or that you think they're getting fat and you're not attracted to them as much anymore, or that you're disappointed with your life and feel like you need a big change or whatever it is. (for the record, these are not examples from my life they're just things I thought of now as examples of thoughts you might have that they don't want to hear).

I'm learning more and more that the idea of really living honestly and connecting to people on a deep level is not possible, and even trying generally makes your life worse. If you just do the superficial/manipulative thing of pretending to be the person that they want, positive & funny & loving & caring & interested in what they're saying & supportive and etc. that your life will be much better. eg. just fake it. You don't even have to "fake it till you make it", you just plain fake it, there is no "make it". A lot of people have a negative reaction to this idea because they have very false ideas of what "faking it" is like; they think of the total douchebag guy who's always smiling and acting your friend. That guy is just a really bad faker and obviously not a good example of how to live. The better example is the charismatic guy who's always nice and seems real and is fun to be around. He's a total faker, but he's good at it, and that makes his life better and the lives of everyone around him better.

In fact, being "real" and not faking it is very discurteous to others. Everyone can think of examples of this. Say you and your spouse throw a dinner party and he does something right before to piss you off. The mature thing which benefits everyone is to just hold it in and pretend to be happy until after all the guests leave. But even after they leave, why exactly do you need to say anything about being hurt? If you can say something and have it improve the situation and make it happen less in the future, or make you both feel better, then that's great, say something. But that's often not the case. Often you are saying something just to make yourself feel better, and it will make him feel worse and make you both angry at each other. Then you shouldn't ever say anything. Those cases are in fact the majority, and if you look for these spots you'll see more and more than the really considerate and mature thing to do is to ignore your real feelings and just act jovial and entertaining and sweet.

4/17/2008

04-17-08 - 2

"Italian for Beginners" is a pretty horrible movie. It's a random mashup of unpleasantness and cheeze. Many of the Dogme Manifesto movies, faced with the difficulty of achieving emotional heft under the simplicity constraints, resort to a very manipulative battering of the audience with human misery. Then we get a mix of pure Romantic Comedy silliness where everyone's problems disappear and they all have fun and find love.

04-17-08 - 1

My external hard drive that turns itself off when idle turns out to be a huge fucking evil thing. It's an okay idea in theory, but it's not at all well coordinated with Windoze, which makes it fucked in practice. The worst thing is that occasionally Windoze decides it needs to look at that disk for no obvious reason; I'll do some file op on my main disk and suddenly it stalls and waits to spin up the external for no reason (obviously some code somewhere is enum'ing all the disks and querying something on them that's not cached but that's fucking fucked; for example some of file select dialogs do this).

4/16/2008

04-16-08 - 1

I think the whole "pita pocket" thing must've come out of some dumb American trying to make "foreign food" and totally misunderstanding how you make use of bread.

4/15/2008

04-15-08 - 1

Fucking hell. A lot of the financial websites now are doing this thing where they track what computer you're logging in from. I'm not sure quite how they're doing it, but however it is is fucked. I'm plugging things in & out of my machine all the time and it seems to make it qualify as a different machine and I have to go through this long fucking validation to get to my accounts again.

Bleck. While I'm ranting about it, these fucking web people just keep making the most awful unusable sites with fancy shit that doesn't work. I fucking hate fucking web apps and their shittiness and bugs and fucked interfaces. Yesterday I spent half an hour filling out the online application for a passport, and I get to the end with the magic button that says "generate form" and I click it and it takes me to a flash page and spins the loading graphic and then does absolutely nothing. Awesome.

Even more common these days are all the active forms where like every time you click a check box or something on a page it has to load to update some derived shit or show you something useless, so instead of being able to tab through the dialog and click things fast you have to go click, oh wait while it changes, click, wait, oh fuck my cursor moved, click, whoah the blank I was about to fill is gone. Fucking fucked retards.

One of the most common examples of this now is the fucking date entry widgets. I tab into the date entry field and start typing it out, then look up and notice that some fucking GUI widget has popped up over the date blank and now I have to mouse around to find the date I could've typed in half a second.

4/14/2008

04-14-08 - 6

When I have a severe allergy attack, as I have for the past few weeks, I feel like the mucus builds up in my sinuses, behind my eyes, in my temples, more and more goopy gunk builds up in there, the pressure mounts, and it starts to seep into my brain. The little spaces between the brain cells get jammed with mucus, and it slows the electric flow of thoughts, it creates a fog in my mind, a gray haze of mucus that makes me zone out. Then when I eat spicy soup, and sit in a steam bath for a while, and then get a huge long sneeze, I feel like I can pull the snot all the way in one long strand from deep inside my head, and my thoughts suddenly clear and start to move faster.

04-14-08 - 5

I've done almost every day hike that's reasonably accessible from SF. I don't really mind repeating, there are some really nice ones I'd be happy to do again, but I have a problem. The first time I did most of them was with Dan, and whenever I go back it still makes me think of her. I don't like doing things that I did before with someone like that, I'd rather build new fresh memories, but my hiking options are running slim. There's also huge advantages to doing things you've done before - you're an expert at it, and you know what's good. I'm always trying to take people new places, and it leads to a lot of mistakes because doing new things is risky and often it sucks. If I was willing to repeat I could create more magic moments.

There's a whole new kingdom of hiking if I consider going as far as Mendocino or Auburn/Grass Valley , but those are mighty far for day hiking.

The only things I haven't done here are the short Alamere falls hiking in Reyes, and I haven't actually been to the top of Diablo, though I've been around it. I also haven't been to Sunol/Ohlone so that's something to do.

04-14-08 - 4

There are three big problems with game development (from a working conditions point of view) :

1. The amount of work vs. amount of reward ratio is way off. The amount of work expected of employees is massive, and you have to be very smart, and the reward is nowhere near what you can get for similar highly skilled work in other industries (such as being a quant in finance, or a consultant for petro companies, etc. etc.). The big problem is that so many people want to work in games because it's fun and they love playing games, that it drives down the wages and makes the working conditions worse.

2. Competition with other crunchers. I suppose this happens in other industries as well, but the problem is to some extent all the game companies are competing to do the next cool thing, and everybody else is way overworking and crunching to produce things fast, and everyone is making things with a lower budget and shorter time than is really needed, and you have to compete with that. Some people seem to avoid this trap to some extent, like Valve and Blizzard, but they can really only get away with it because of the fact that they are the only ones that do it. And I don't think they're working at any less of a fever pitch, they just do it for longer.

3. Bad management. Most of the people running game production are not qualified for the task. I'm not sure this is necessarilly worse in games than it is in other industries, but the thing is game technology and production is changing so fast that you really need powerful intelligence to run a game company, whereas in other industries there are these learned best practices that have developed over N years that people can just copy and do okay. If you like you could phrase this as saying that the high rate of change of methods and technologies is what makes games so hard & painful to make, but really those things just expose the weaknesses of planners that can't handle thinking ahead and can only learn from experience. (eg. was the debacle of the Iraq invasion necessary because it was a new situation, or did the novelty of the situation just expose the incompetence of the planners that didn't anticipate the challenges correctly?). Also by "management" here I'm not necessarilly just talking about the game studios, but also the direction from publishers. Of course the rapidly changing technology is what makes it really fun to program for.

04-14-08 - 3

I got lazy about finding new music in the last few years. Of course part of the reason I was so vigilant in trying to find cool new undiscovered music in the past was to impress girls. Yes I also liked the music, but anyone who doesn't admit it's to impress others is foolish. It's to show that you're cool enough, when hipster indie music lover people meet someone, one of the first things they do is look at their music collection (or I guess now it's their iPod playlist) and judge them based on it. If you don't have enough rare little known hip stuff in common you don't qualify. Anyway, with Dan I stopped looking. I have enough great music that I can listen to whatever from my 1000+ CD's and find something to fit my mood and not get bored of it.

Anyway, that's changed now, and Alissa introduced me to the Junior Boys. Who knew that my love of offbeat indie music and my love of electronic dance music could be combined? They're pretty rad.

04-14-08 - 2

Nobody really appreciates hedging. When I'm not sure about something or I feel like I might wind up changing my mind at some point, I don't feel like I can just commit without qualification, so I'm cautious, send some mixed signals, and hedge my words. I figure that's a favor to everyone else involved so that they know what they're getting into. But people don't respond logically to hedging. It makes them super cautious, way more so than they should be, or it just annoys them and they don't see it as anything more than weakness or lameness. People generally much prefer it if you commit without hedging regardless of whether you really feel that way or not, then go ahead and change your path with equal conviction somewhere down the road if necessary. This is true in relationships and in business. If you look at the beloved figures of history and fiction, like G.W. Bush or Captain James T. Kirk they are always the brash macho guys who commit 100% and believe that what they are doing at the moment is right and never hedge.

On a related note, even "hedge funds" these days don't actually hedge. LOL.

04-14-08 - 1

The regular "toss everything in a pot" method of making pot roast tends to just make a bland mushy pile of goop. You can make a much tastier faux pot roast using the "cook separate and combine" method. The idea of cooking the flavors together is very overrated; for example when you cook carrots with meat, you really don't get good carrot flavor into the meat, all you do is suck the carrot flavor out of the carrots. When you cook things seperately, each thing gets a chance to brown and develop it's own rich flavor, and then when you eat the dish you can put those flavors together in your mouth.

Basic composed pot roast : sear the meat in a big pan, salt & pepper of course. Toss a bit of flour in the pan and stir around in the meat fat (this will wind up thickening the sauce). Add liquid to almost cover, stock or maybe some beer, also bay leaves, whole garlic cloves, etc. Put on a tight lid or aluminum foil and toss in a 325 degree oven. Cook about 2 hours. Now jam the oven up to 425. Toss in a sheet of carrots rubbed in olive oil and salt & peppered. Also toss in a sheet of potato wedges with the same treatment and also perhaps some thyme or similar. Cook about 30 minutes at the higher heat. Make sure you don't completely run out of liquid on your meat, add liquid if necessary but not too much. The carrots should get nice and charred. When it's all cooked, remove from oven. Pour the juices off the meat & reserve. Toss the carrots and potatos in the pot with the meat. Toss in some frozen peas and let it all sit 5 minutes so the peas cook.

Turn the juices into a sauce. To really do this right you should've cooked the whole thing ahead so the drippings can cool and you can take off some of the fat. Or you can skip that. Taste the juices and maybe don't do anything. If it's too thick, add wine or beer or stock. If it's too thin, you can either cook some flour in the pan you cooked in to make a gravy/roux, or make a cornstarch slurry and add that, or if it's thin and the quantity is sufficient you can just cook it down a bit to reduce. Perhaps add salt & pepper to the sauce. Finish with a bit of butter.

4/13/2008

04-13-08 - 1

Bathing with Bierko is kind of funny. It makes me wonder - does Malkovich know that what makes him so funny is that he's just a ridiculously awful actor? When he tries to do a character like in Rounders or Dangerous Liaisons it's awesomely bad. He seems to be a good sport about making fun of himself, but I wonder if he knows what's going on. Do I know that what makes my blog so funny is that my thoughts are amusingly inane?

4/12/2008

04-12-08 - 1

I finally made it out to Henry Coe on Friday. I've been thinking about it for about a year, but it's an awfully long drive from SF city and the hikes are all long so I never quite made it. It's also really only nice in spring and tolerable in fall so you have a limited window to hit it. Henry Coe is the biggest State Park in CA ; that's not saying much since all the great places are national parks or national forests. It used to be a cattle ranch but was shut down & donated back in whatever year blah blah. It's all rolling hills and oaks and stuff, I imagine it's what 90% of southern California looked like before settlers cleared it (of course its nowhere near its original state either). There are lots of wildflowers in spring and it has a sort of rustic beauty. There's lots of wild life. We saw deer, wild turkeys, and a coyote.

Anyway, the attraction for me was always the swimming hole ("China Hole"). It's a moderately strenuous 5 mile hike in to the hole which keeps the crowd down a bit, at least on week days. It's a nice big clean hole in a river with some fun jumping rocks. There's a bit too much traffic for nudity unless you're an incosiderate freakazoid who likes to show off their wang and belly to hapless hikers. I went with Alissa and we spent a few hours jumping in the cold water then lying out on the rocks to heat up, then jumping in the water again. There were fish and turtles swimming around us, wild turkeys making their psychopathic-clown-laugh sound, and much clumsy buffoonery by me.

I would go more often if it wasn't a 1:30 drive :( ; I put a few pics on flickr.

4/10/2008

04-10-08 - 1

SF hiking links :

Kevin's Hiking Page
The best overall hiking page about CA. He hasn't added much content in the last few years so it's failing to keep up a bit, but still very well organized and lots of useful information.

Gambolin' Man
Two-Heel Drive, a Bay Area Hiking Blog
Two excellent hiking blogs. Good photos and descriptions of lots of Bay Area hikes. Two-Heel is more strait to the point information, Gambol' is more of a prose poem about the wonders of hiking with lots of great photos.

California Hiking Trail Finder
SlackPacker is a cool site with good general info on how to be a decent hiker. Their link page of CA information is quite good.

.. Hiking in Big Sur ..
Really superb site detailing the hikes in Big Sur.

WaterFallsWest CA Index
WaterFallsWest Blog
WaterFallsWest is a cool page I just found. Obviously it's focused on waterfalls which I don't care that much about, but it's got tons of information on hikes in CA, and waterfalls very often = swimming holes, which gets me pretty excited. It's also a mix of a hiking blog + a useful database which is a pretty sweet combo.

Openspace.org - Your Preserves
The Peninsula Open Space main page ; the site blows but their maps are superb, so just download all the PDF's and figure out your own trails.

Redwood Hikes
RedwoodHikes is a commercial site selling maps & trail guides. There's plenty of free information though and their trail descriptions and photos are very good quality, unlike the shitty bahiker. Even their limited previews of maps are better than most of the free maps you can get elsewhere.

Running Trails - trailrunning tips and information.
Marin County trail running site. I hate trail running, but this site has some useful descriptions of trails with good information you don't often get, like how to link various trails together and water stops and grades. Also, these people are fucking irresponsible douchebags, running up & down steep trails with trekking poles totally ruins the mountain, so if you stop by email them some hate.


Random other hiking links I have :

Waterfalls of California - Traverse Creek Falls; Placerville, El Dorado Natl. Forest
Waterfalls of California - Shingle Falls; Spenceville Wildlife Area, Marysville
Waterfalls of California - Gold Country Regional Map
The Tahoe Sierra A Natural History ... - Google Book Search
South Yuba Trail
South Yuba River SP
South Yuba Map
Popular Day Hikes that Start at Henry W. Coe State Park Headquarters
Point Reyes National Seashore - Maps (U.S. National Park Service)
Nevada County Today's Feature Summer swimming holes They're plentiful along the Yuba River if you know where to look - TheUn
Mycological Society of San Francisco
Malakoff Diggins Shp, Northern Sierra Nevada, California
Henry Cowell The Truck Trail and Fall Creek
Henry Cowell Swimming Hole
Henry Cowell Redwoods Big Rock Hole Swim
China Hole & the Narrows
Camp Spots by Swimming Holes - Weekend Sherpa
Best hikes in the San Francisco Bay Area
BAY NATURE Fields of Color Wildflower Viewing in the Bay Area
Bay Area Hiker Tennessee Valley Trailhead
Bay Area Hiker Memorial Park
Bay Area Hiker Ano Nuevo State Reserve
Arroyo Seco Nude River Hike (NSFW)

4/09/2008

04-09-08 - 2

Duh, I guess you all know this, but I just realized that the "M3U" playlist files are just text file lists. So you can easily make them yourself. So you can write your own little apps to aggregate your music in various ways and create playlists by artist, by date, by album, whatever, and put them in dirs together. I guess it's a really obvious use for perl but I just wrote a little C app. You can just google "m3u playlist perl" or "m3u playlist bat".

04-09-08 - 1

Fucking hell, there are some really ideal jobs for me in Seattle. I would like to stay here, I like SF, but work is important, it's 50 hours of your life each week, and doing good work with good people is a huge part of happiness. Friends and clubs and everything that I've found here I could find again anywhere in theory.

In general in human decision making processes, adding another type of factor to the decision make it almost unsolvable. If you're just looking at {job} you can give values to your choice and pick the best. When you start trying to make a decision on {job,location} you suddenly have a metadecision - how to weight the two factors. The problem is they're in different units, so there's no absolutely correct way to combine them to make a single rating, it's totally arbitrary and you just have to "feel" how you want to want the two factors, which leads to dead end logic and circular reasoning and general failures to make a decent decision.

4/07/2008

04-07-08 - 3

Went hiking with Ignacio on the back side of Purisima in the "Bald Knob" area. There were tons of cyclists on the road in the way in, but not one single other person on the trail. The main part of Purisima is often crowded and full of mountain bikers, but I guess nobody makes it back there. It was gorgeous, a few nice views, and the trail was all overgrown due to the lack of use, which makes the hike a lot more fun.

04-07-08 - 2

I'm so fucking upset about the shitty ass media player options. I'm sort of forced into iTunes because it's the only decent way to manage my iPods, but I keep trying to still use WinAmp, but the shittyness of WinAmp is becoming too much to bear. Fucking ass. It's one of those things that makes me disgusted about our whole industry. How is it that people are still making such awful unusable software!?

04-07-08 - 1

So I bought one of those retro padded vests that's so popular these days (and by "these days" I mean two years ago). Mainly I just want to look like Bret McKenzie and he wears them alot. It's actually been cold and I wore it one night and realized - padded vests are totally retarded. My arms are the part of me that gets coldest fastest, and the vest leaves that crucial part un-warmed. In fact, if I were to take a jacket and someone told me I could only keep half of it, the half I would keep is the arms!

4/06/2008

04-06-08 - 3

Homosexuality is not corrupting the fabric of America. Unisex pants are. Unisex pants go against everything I hold dear.

04-06-08 - 2

Example of how search is fucked :

There are three good web sites about hiking in the bay area : Hiking with Kevin , Gambolin' Man, and Two Heeled Drive. When you search for hikes on Google, quite often not one of those three will show up on the first page even though they have info on that hike. In order to get the information I want, I have to do searches like "portola redwoods kevin" or "portola redwoods gambol" which is fucking retarded.

Step 1 improvement : The system should know I like those pages and automatically give me results within them.

Step 2 improvement : The system should've figured out I would like those pages based on my tastes and how other similar people already rated the sites.

04-06-08 - 1

The Mission is literally gentrifying before my eyes and it fucking sucks. In the last month we've had 3 new restaurants open, all of which have that fancy well-designed interior that looks good but is way too noisy and not actually pleasant to eat in, and the food is okay but totally lacking inspiration or passion (Farina, Spork, Beretta). Little fancy clothes boutiques have been popping up like the spring wild flowers. And the people who come are the posh set, they're terrified and disgusted of the real neighborhood, and they scurry between their fancy restaurant and their fancy bar and their fancy cars.

4/02/2008

04-02-08 - 5

Great movies that are a little bit off the radar so you may have missed :

  • Mifune ("Mifunes sidste sang") - perhaps the most accessible and lightest good Dogme movie.

  • Edi - gorgeous sweet sad movie about two Polish scrap collectors.

  • Baran - sweeping raw movie about poverty and society for Afghan immigrants in Iran

  • Border Cafe / Transit Cafe - another slice of life from Iran, more upbeat / hollywoody

  • Tsotsi - South African slum/crime drama ; pretty well known I guess, but worth seeing, not amazing

  • El Bola - pretty standard child abuse shlock, but very well acted and avoids going too cheesy, and it really resonates and sticks with you.

  • Police Beat - awesomely bizarre American movie about an african cop in Seattle. Not a great movie in a normal sense, but if you enjoy novelty and experimentation with the form, this is brilliant.

  • Gozu - surreal/bizarre Miike film (Miike = Japanese David Lynch + ultraviolence), manages to be grounded in real characters and doesn't fly away into pure abstraction like recent Lynch disasters.

  • The Eel / Village of Dreams / Nobody Knows - three unrelated little Japanese movies, all pretty quiet and simple, but touching

  • Last Life in the Universe - the Thai version of Sonatine

And I also have to mention Emir Kusturica and Takeshi Kitano. If you haven't seen their core body of work, they are absolute must sees; I always think of them as pretty mainstream and well known, but it shocks me to find how many film buffs haven't seen any of their movies.

The core Emir Kusturica set is "Time of the Gypsies" , "Underground" and "When Father was Away on Business".

The core Takeshi Kitano set is "Hana Bi", "Sonatine" and "Kikujiro".

04-02-08 - 4

I find the Netflix Recommender kind of useless. When I'm browsing around movies trying to find new things, I don't really want rating *correlation* I want movie *similarity*. Like if I'm browsing arty Japanese movies, I don't want it to be telling me "people who liked this also liked" the documentary on Herzog and Kinski, or some damn Ingmar Bergman movie, which seems to always correlate to the stuff I like regardless of the original movie. I want recommendation of other arty Japanese movies. And in fact there's a lot of merit to the graphical representation of something like GNOD, though gnod is a broken ass piece of crap. I'd like to see the nearby similar movies in a 3d space, with the axes meaning something, (the 3 most prominent SVD vectors would make good axes).

Basically a good film-buff human is way better at recommending movies that are related to something I like. That really shouldn't be. The computer has way way more information about my taste history and about the movies that are out there, but it still isn't close to making good recommendations.

04-02-08 - 3

BTW I passed the Google job interview. I haven't gone through the offer process yet and I'm not sure that I'll accept it, but I'm happy to have passed the test. I was a little worried cuz I didn't think I really nailed the interview, and they take a long time to respond. I'm used to interviewing at game companies where they give me a job offer the same day and beg me to start work the next day and make promises of back rubs and blow jobs. Googs definitely seems like a good place to work. I'm a little turned off by walking in and seeing the giant rooms full of cubicles and soul-crushed coders hunched over glowing screens.

I'm talking to ILM and PDI to see if there might be a fun job for me there. It seems like it could be a pretty good fit; I imagine they have some smart research guys, but I think I could bring an ability to understand practical issues and implement good technical solutions. But my background is not in film, and they don't know me, and my resume/experience doesn't impress them at all, so I get tossed in with the regular candidate pool and have to list my skills and all that junk, it's quite humbling and I'm really not used to it.

I would be taking a big pay cut & seniority cut at these places, but I'm totally fine with that as long as the work is good. The problem is it's hard to tell if the work really is good. I really don't put salary as one of the more important things about a job, I care more about what work I get to do, how cool/smart my coworkers are, how good the management is, how much freedom I have at work, etc. However, on all those criteria you will be lied to by the people trying to hire you. Salary is the only thing that you actually know for sure you will get what you are promised.

It reminds me of back in the day when I first interviewed at some game jobs, and I interviewed at Valve, and I was kind of laughing to myself inside the whole time, because I could tell the Valve guys were not really impressed with me at all, and I knew that I was a fucking code ninja and they just couldn't see it.

ps. I'm not actually as arrogant as this post makes me appear to be.

04-02-08 - 2

Dating & social networking is really weird. I've met people through web sites recently, and it's generally been a really good thing, I've met some great people, so as a way of making real world connections I find it totally succesful. The weird thing is when you actually start dating someone from a social network site and you're still both active online. You see each other online, and the whole nature of the social networking sites almost forces you to be an online stalker, because you get notifications when they write something new, you see each other's friend network, etc. I guess the kids these days growing up with Facebook and whatnot probably find this all totally normally, but I find it really creepy. Not only do you see the other person's blog posts on their page, but you see their friends' comments. There's a whole lot of very private communication between people that is posted publicly these days. You can tell who they're hanging out with, what they did that night, you can see when they post up new pictures, etc. I really don't like it. I'm not super jealous or intrusive in peoples' lives normally, but seeing all these bits of things online leads me to those thoughts.

I've always had a pretty active online life, but unlike the new generation of web 2.0 kiddies, I like to keep it separate from my real world life. I think that's pretty common among the older generation like me, we don't merge our physical and digital worlds so much. I'm okay with taking people from the online life and promoting them to real-world friends, but after that I can no longer be as free around them online, and any intimate communication has to be real world. Once I make too many real-world friends on a certain site, I can no longer be free there and have to leave and go to a new site where I don't know anyone in the real world.

BTW I think we should call web 2.0 sites "BBS's" since they're really not much more or less than an old BBS. They are similarly isolated from each other. They're a similar mashup of forums and other content. The BBS's generally had much better moderation and community management and screening. It's kind of funny that we went from these little islands of BBS's that had many great advantages, and we blew them up and went to the totally spread Web model which threw away the greatness of community forums, and now we're back to basically a BBS model and we haven't really improved on it much at all, except for the trivial UI improvements that you would expect from the huge increase in network speeds and computer power.

04-02-08 - 1

I'm going to Big Sur Thu-Fri so I'll be out of touch. Ciao.

old rants