I've worked about 35 hours in the past 10 days, in addition to my normal 40-hour job. When I'm not working, I'm a vegetable: parked in front of the tube, reading a book, or playing Oblivion.

I could certainly have worked more, but consciously chose to break away every now and again: I'm trying dilligently not to burn out. ; )

Following through with my motto of "finish", I have, in spare time, tried to finish watching Scrubs, actually finished Oblivion (albeit using the god-mode cheat, and I was much closer to the end of the game than I thought I was), and reading my Ruby on Rails book (and actually digesting it this time instead of breezing through).

I've also come to the realization that "Finish" is more often a case of "Don't start", so I have been focusing on a few projects at work rather than taking on all of the new opportunities I see crop up everywhere. ...Without going into details, I will say that my last week or two at work has been very, very positive.

Although I would be lying if I claimed I'm not looking forward to a lighter load (which I should have in about a week), I must also admit that I'm actually enjoying having such a full schedule. ...To a point. :)

And, of course, I am refusing to let my full schedule interrupt my Sunday-night role-playing game. We're still playing Continuum, though the plan is to wind this down in the next few weeks, and move to some form of Firefly. (I'm hoping we choose Dogs in the Vineyard as a system--I just ordered the book through mail, though it hasn't arrived yet.)

And the dog is freaking out about DST ending: she's presently bugging me about supper, and she has another two hours to go. : )

Frustrating Perlism


I just spent longer than I wanted to learning how to slice an arrayref.

So, if you slice a normal array like this: @array[$begin..$end], you might want to slice an arrayref like this: $arrayref->[$begin..$end]. But that doesn't work.

You have to slice the transformed ref: @{$arrayref}[$begin..$end].

...Now we know.

A Tip

Resume key words

A clever way to avoid being eliminated by resume screening software is to include a section entitled "Also interested in", "Willing to learn", "Willing to pursue." This is especially helpful for those in industries where certifications and acronyms are common.

(Another find by way of Mr. Godin.)


When the commercial for the Little Mermaid DVD came on, she said, "We don't
need to see that commercial. Don't they know we already bought that movie?"

- Some 4-year-old Girl (found via Seth).

Dried fruit ramblings

You know, I hate packages of dried fruit with 1.5 servings. You can't eat 'em all without getting sick, and if you save them, you don't have quite enough the next time.


Buddha on a turtle's back, eating montmorency cherries!

(If he farts, and no one's there, does it make a smell?)

He's listening to Nine Inch Nails on his iPod, and snapping one finger to the beat!

(What color was the turtle's shell, before it was born?)

The Buddha is head-banging on a turtle's back, putting away half a serving of montmorency cherries!

More on RPGs

Here's a confession: I never, ever do hit points. Ever. I just declare "you killed it" when someone does damage andd the group is starting to get anxious about the combat.

There are wildly differing opinions on this, and I'm in the minority, but: I believe that it's the GM's job to keep the players alive. (And, yes, there are obvious exceptions.)

D&D can be made not to suck in one of two ways: playing it like it's meant to be played (hack-and-slash treasure-hoarding), or totally ditching the system and concentrating on the role-play. It has a wildly creative setting: it sets the imagination alight. I think it's a great way to escape, on the role-play end of things.

It's also great eye-candy, which is why I've gotten into the miniatures game. (Fucking expensive game, though.)

Other board-games are fun and much easier to arrange with people... but doesn't scratch the itch. At least D&D miniatures does, mostly.


You know, I don't think there's any such thing as a satisfied GM. Players are never focused enough, the world is never detailed enough, the system is never effective enough. The GM's lot is a lowly one.


That's my new motto. ...Rather, that's what it needs to be: "Finish".

I've long had this problem... and there might be a strength related to it that I would be squashing, should I change my ways. But I think it's time to take that leap.

"The essence of strategy is deciding what not to do." (As they say.)


Update: I finished the dishes tonight. ; )


A friend asked me

When you are GMing, do you wing it, or come up with solid plans and subject matter (then wing it if the players take a different direction) or do a combo of the two?
I wing it.

However, I spend a lot of time thinking about the game between sessions. Occassionally, I'll scribble down a few ideas, but generally I leave big decisions about the direction of the game for the morning before, and mull it over through the day. By then, I have a reasonable idea of the main themes: interesting NPCs, interesting settings, and some "plot tricks".

My current GM plans heavily, and it pains me. He spends hours each week preparing for the game, going so far as to print things out, put things in folders, prepare NPC monologues, review all the PC character sheets, etc, etc... But then when the players blow the plan, or glance at the printouts and toss them aside, I think to myself, "Why bother?!?" I feel like my GM is wasting most of his time, and I worry that his feelings are hurt because of it.

On the other hand, I've seen other GMs "wing it", where it didn't work... So perhaps it depends on the GM.

But besides that, the best sessions I've ever played (as opposed to run) were in games that were made up the hour before the game started! ...I used to be into the "independent RPGs" community. ...Generally, we were playing a new game every week. Coming up with the game world was usually half the fun.

I will admit, however, that the wing-it method does make for some awkward pauses: the group has completed the session's themes, isn't motivated to do anything, I don't feel like throwing random encounters at them, and I'm not sure what to do next.

But RPG sessions are usually so casual, that these pauses seem (mostly) to be construed as "time to grab some munchies and chat with friends I haven't seen in a week"... So there's time to think up stuff while the social aspects take over.

In my experience, that's the worst part of RPG'ing as adults: it's so hard to see one another often enough to game that it's the only time you see one another... And the temptation to just "visit" is super-strong. It wasn't a problem in school, because you saw these people nearly every day.

Anyway, I find that prep time is directly realated to frustration with the game. The more effort you put into your game, the more disappointed you are when the group isn't really "into" it. ...Most of the fun of RPG'ing comes not from the GM, but from the dynamics of the group. Let them do the work: you just facilitate.

Maslow (MAZ-lahv)

So, about two weeks ago, a co-worker was talking to me about self-actualization, and mentioned Mazlow's Hierarchy of Needs. I didn't have time, in the moment, to look it up.

Today I peeked at it. And my initial thought is: it's upside-down.

Basic needs are simple to satisfy. And as they are, it becomes more difficult to satiate everything else.

As I started to read the nitty-gritties of the theory, though, a lot of other things bugged me. ...Many of the things aren't needs, but wants. "Security of Employment" isn't a basic need, but one specific to coporate-ruled cultures (though the idea could be re-phrased to something like "social function"). I'm not sure I buy the concept of "status" as its own tier. I also found myself agreeing with the counterpoint, "Wahba and Bridwell (1976) found little evidence for the ranking of needs that Maslow described".

On the other hand, I find I strongly agree with Mazlow on one point: "the study of crippled, stunted, immature, and unhealthy specimens can yield only a cripple psychology and a cripple philosophy." (Motivation and Personality, 1987)

Ajax Scaffold on Rails with SQL Server

I was working on Rails today.

Using SQL Server isn't the nicest thing, with Rails... support is sub-par, but growing. One nastiness I ran into today was after installing ajax_scaffold_generator, having exceptions thrown when it comes to showing the list view. So... I dug around and discovered that sqlserver_adapter (part of activerecord) was recently patched to fix some pagination problems. So I grabbed the new version and put it in place:


Then you can install the package:

ruby gem install ajax_scaffold_generator

...when it's done, run (in your project directory):

ruby script/generate ajax_scaffold Object

(or whatever object you want instead of "Object".)

Very nice.


Introspective week.

[Now Playing: "Square Lamp" by esem... damn, what a fine track this is.]

I've been thinking a lot this week. About work, about quality, about ruby, about miniatures, about drawing... the whole shebang.

Work: I want to write more code. That's the long and the short of it. I'm weak at detail-oriented stuff, and I'm good at algorithms and problem-solving: I should be writing more code. I asked my boss about this today, and he supports the idea; we'll see where that goes. (To be honest, my experiences with such requests are usually taken quite seriously.)

Quality: I went to a local conference regarding the Bladridge criteria yesterday. I rather enjoyed it, though I would argue that I didn't learn anything, really. Rather, it was great idea-fodder, and allowed me some "blocked time" to contemplate how to make use of the criteria at work. ...I also considered working on a "personal criteria" for self-improvement.

Ruby: As I've mentioned, I've been pushing for it at work. There has been surprising support for it, and the lead programmer just asked me to try writing a web-page for a new project using ruby. ...My reflex was to say "no", because I wanted more time to learn it and discover best practices, but I think working on it would be an excellent way to explore the language. The first thing I went looking for was a DBASE-format library... and the first page I stumbled upon was an argument of why the writer had switched from ruby to python. ...And it's a recent article; a well-informed one. His reason, of course, was the robustness of the Py libraries out there.

Of course, this is something that will change with time. ...Or will it? ...I wonder if ruby will really be the last popular language. (Errr... last to rise to power, anyway.) I'm not terribly willing to write new libraries that are missing... I wonder if those who are willing are a dying breed. With the vast libraries available for Java and C++ on the low-end, and Perl and Python on the high-end... It will take a massive force of will to build ruby up to that level. I shudder to think how insurmountable an obstacle that will be for the languages of tomorrow.

Of course, MS has the weight to throw .NET out there, and the world will eat it. (Thank you, MaSter, may I have another?) But that's an exception.

Perhaps that's why DSL's are so popular these days... it's only in the small world of Doman-Specific problem sets that new languages have the ability to emerge.

Of course, the idea of "Very High Level Languages" may be the next big thing. Frameworks on steroids: programming languages built on today's languages. Imagine Rails, but without DHH's "convention over configuration" as a limitation: a meta-language smart enough to look at your database and figure out the schema.

Perhaps I've been drinking the MS water too much lately, since that sounds like "Visual Rails" to me.

Miniatures: Yes. Since playing miniatures with my son a few weeks ago, I've been contemplating building up my own collection. A lot. ...Obessing, really. I've decided to beef up my collection of Star Wars driod miniatures, and for D&D, I'm considering a "Devils and Blues" pool of minis... "blues" being Blue dragons. (The teams in D&D, called "Warbands", are alignment-specific, and blue dragons are LE, like Devils.) ...I'm also big on druids and constructs... but I can't quite come up with a Warband concept that seems solid enough to warrant investing in.

Strangely, my wife doesn't seem disturbed by this, and suggested I just build a collection over time, $20 a month or so. [shrug] I guess I will.

...I tried to stay the urge by installing Neverwinter Nights... but found it didn't scratch the itch.

Drawing: Okay, not much to say here. I've just thought about it a lot, lately. ...I haven't actually drawn much, however. ..A little. Enough to claim "I haven't stopped". But still, it's one of those frustrating situations where you know you should stop thinking and start doing... but something stops you. A Human curse.