Monthly Archives: May 2006

Great Gram and Gramps

Sean went to meet Great Grammy and Grampy today. We've looked forward to this day for a long time. If anyone was wishing for a boy more than me, it was Gramps. And - Booyah! - I always deliver! It was amazing to have three generations of Lords all together, and I can't wait to to get home and get some prints made of these pictures to add to our 'family wall'. And look how big Sean looks in Gram's lap! She's lucky he didn't eat her for lunch!

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Sean and Ry

Not much here, just a couple of additional pics of the Two Musketeers. More to come later this week - we'll be spending the weekend up north with Ryan, and we are planning to go to Storyland. It should be chock full 'o Kodak moments.

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Sean took his first trip to Friendly's today. Friendly's was a staple of my childhood, but I'm not sure we have them down here in the south. At least, I haven't seen one in San Antonio. We piled the boys in the wagon, and walked over there for sundaes. I got a peanut butter cup sundae. Sweet sassy molassy! I'd forgotten home much I love those!

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Two of a Feather

While Sean and Ryan officially met yesterday, today was the first time that got any real quality time together, without lots of relatives trying to get some of their time. It went pretty well. Sean's never been great around other kids (although he is getting better), but I think he may have taken a shine to Ryan. I'm hoping to get some more pictures tomorrow, when we head over to Tracy's for a play date. I love these pictures we took tonight, with the boys sitting on the step together. I love how in one of the photos, Ryan is giving Sean a funny look, and in the other, Sean is giving Ryan the hairy eyeball. Like they don't quite trust each other yet. Too cute.

And below are the obligitory photos of Sean making goofy faces. And to top it off is a photo of all of us. Everyone is looking in different directions, and it was nearly impossible to get both kids to smile at the same time, but it turned out okay nonetheless.

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42 Words of Wisdom: #02

"The impossible often has a kind of integrity which the merely improbable lacks."

- Douglas Adams

So true, so true. There is just something about being able to say that something is "impossible" that is so much more satisfying than having to say that it is "almost impossible". This one also applies well to software development. When debugging code, a typical strategy involves elminating the bits of code that cannot have caused the problem, until you are left with only one bit that therefore must have caused the problem. The challenge always comes from the fact that with any moderately-complex software, you can never with 100% certainy say that it is "impossible" that a certain piece of code is causing problems. This becomes a very irritating fact. The debugging process eventually degenerates into one of two approaches - a "brute force" approach, where the developer systematically disables one bit of code at a time until the problem goes away, or the "inspired" approach, where the developer uses educated guesses and hunches to zero-in on the problem code right away. And of course, that almost never works, and the developer eventually reverts back to the "brute force" approach.

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Video Game Myths

Not too long ago, Henry Jenkins - the director of comparative studies at MIT - wrote an article debunking eight of the major myths about video games. If you'd like to read the entire article, you can find it here. But there are a couple that I'd like to mention, mostly because certain politicians have been using video games as a way to pander to their constituents lately (*cough* Hilary Clinton *cough*), and have been playing on parents' fears without any real science or research to back up the claims they are making.

Claim #1 - Video games has led to an epidemic of youth violence.
What the federal crime statistics actually show is we are in the middle of a 30-year low in the rate of violent juvenile crime. The overwhelming majority of kids play video games - 90% of boys and 40% of girls. Why aren't all of these kids comitting crimes? According to the Surgeon General (in a 2001 report), the strongest factors in violent juvenile crimes were mental stability and quality of home life. Which makes sense, when you think about it.

Claim #2 - Video games are not a meaningful form of expression.
Are they serious? Anyone who has ever actually played a video game (especially an RPG), will agree that video games can be an extremely powerful form of expression. Because the player participates directly in the story, sometimes a good video game can even be more powerful than a book or a movie, where the viewer (or reader) is just a passive bystander. Video games have made me personally feel every emotion in the sprectrum, at one point or another. Comments like this one are just plain ignorant. Will Wright, the creator of the incredibly popular game "The Sims" said in an interview that "games are perhaps the only medium that allows us to experience guilt over the actions of fictional characters. In a movie, one can always pull back and condemn the character or the artist when they cross certain social boundaries. But in playing a game, we choose what happens to the characters." At different points in our history, this same complaint (of something not being a "meaningful form of expression") has been leveled at jazz, rock and roll, and comic books - all three of which are now widely excepted as art forms in their own right.

Anybody else have any opinions or comments they'd like to add?

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42 Words of Wisdom: #01

"A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools."

- Douglas Adams

Today, is the first of a planned series of 42 Douglas Adams quotations I plan to post. For those who don't understand the significance of the number 42, read "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" - I promise you won't regret it. Doug Adams was a fount of wit, and is sorely missed.

Today's quote especially applies to the realm of software. I can't even begin to count the number of times I thought I had designed a piece of software to be completely bulletproof, only to have someone unfamiliar with it do something completely unexpected and core dump it within seconds. Anticipating what a user will do is often more art than science, and it's a skill I seem to be developing as of late. Does that imply something about the folks I work with? Heh!

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Paper Sculptures

I came across something cool on flickr this past week. Richard Sweeney creates geometric sculptures out of paper, by scoring and folding. They are pretty amazing, and some of them have a bit of an M.C. Escher feel to them. Check them out.

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Coverville – Did You Know?

There's a podcast I listen to called Coverville. The host of the show, Brian Ibbot, plays only cover songs - and usually some very interesting or obscure ones at that. Sometimes Brian does a theme show he calls "Originalville", where he plays the original versions of songs that were made much more famous by someone else as a cover. In those cases, most people don't even realize that the version they know is actually a cover of an earlier, less popular artist. The March 31st show was especially cool. Did you know that "Honky Tonk Woman" was not originally performed by the Rolling Stones? Or that "Oops, I Did it Again" was actually originally a 30's jazz song? Check out the March 31st episode of Coverville, and hear the originals!
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Greatest Easter Eggs In Gaming

For those who don't play video games - or have never played a game enough to find one - "easter eggs" are the little secrets hidden in a game for persistent users to find. Gamespot recently posted an article entitled "The Greatest Easter Eggs In Gaming", and it was fun to reminisce over some of them. The cow level in Diablo II has got to be one of my all time favorites. Diablo II was a action RPG about fighting demons will huge swords and the like. So having a hidden level that was full of evil cows that continually bleated "Moo" while they attacked you was just hilarious. Finding Reptile in Mortal Kombat was also another of those awesome easter egg moments. Does anybody else remember any great gaming easter eggs?
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