Friday, April 29, 2011

Is There Something Wrong with FreeCell in Windows 7?

I used to lose at FreeCell* all the time. But ever since I upgraded from Windows XP to Windows 7, I have yet to lose a game, which makes me think they removed all of the hard games from the randomizer. What is up with this? Discuss**.

*Background for non-geeks: FreeCell is a solitaire-like card game that is included in Windows XP and later. FreeCell games are enumerated by the random number seed that causes the cards to be dealt in a particular way. Okay, that wasn't much of a non-geek explanation. But you get the idea, right? There are only a certain number of possible hands that can be dealt, and each one has its own unique number.

** I recognize that I have no readers, and so issuing this directive is futile. But futility is the name of this game. Which game? Good question.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

If You Don't Have Anything Nice to Say...

... try one of the following:

  • Watch a bunch of elephants frolick about in the mud.
  • Find a Star Wars / Lord of the Rings marathon on basic cable and wonder what Christopher Lee is up to these days.
  • Lookup the names of dormant volcanoes and decide which one is next going to erupt on a Jewish holiday. (Full disclosure: my wife is Jewish, and we were married on sukkot. Which has nothing to do with volcanoes, but I'm disclosing.)
  • Scour the digits of pi for your birthday.
  • Locate the nearest haystack and plant a needle inside.
  • Launch an eBay storefront that offers a wide assortment of organic burlap bags.
  • Devise a plan to restore the Transformers lunchbox to its former 1980s-era glory.
  • Stare at something until you fall asleep.

There are many options.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thy Cup Hath Been Poisoned

Several items on my mind as I watch a man with a gun pull into a gas station on an overcast day halfway through an anonymous stretch of the Middle of Nowhere*:
  • At what point do you have to justify your prioritization of tasks, people, events, dreams, needs, and desires to the bevy of stakeholders who all think they are the majority owner of your life?
  • How does one chop a salad while in free-fall?
  • Why does everything on television happen in New York or L.A.? And sometimes Miami?
  • There are five drunken tigers inside of this box. The box is decreasing in size at a constant rate of 0.38 cm³/s. You have a clothes hanger, $5.72, and the complete Michael Jackson discography. You are also a narcoleptic. What do you do?
  • Is the passage of timing really speeding up as I age, or do I just not care as much about how long it's been since I last did [x]?
  • To the cloud! Which doesn't exist!

*Isn't firing a gun at a gas station generally considered to be a Bad Idea?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Two Sentences at 2:22am

Straining to see the most distant horizon through the thickest of fogs, you fail to notice the obstacle that will thwart your next step; relentlessly scanning the rugged terrain at your feet for hazards, you fail to notice how far off-course your current trajectory is.

A compass and a means to float above the fog solves both of these problems.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

How to Start a Paranormal Investigation Team

It's pretty straightforward, actually.
  1. Assemble Your Team. Your choice of team members is of paramount importance, as their individual personalities, attitudes, and backgrounds will collectively determine how well you are able to perceive and communicate with the spirit world. Your team must be small in number (no more than four or five) so as not to intimidate any ghosts that you may encounter -- remember, they're dead, and reminding them of this can be quite frightening. Generally speaking, the more dejected and/or morose your team members are -- black t-shirts, black jeans, and dyed hair (preferably black) are all pluses -- the more approachable the spirits will find them.

  2. Choose a Leader. Your team leader should have a strong, determined personality, but should also be vulnerable enough to scream like a little girl when the paranormal activity ratchets itself up a notch. (A testosteroney, unmarried man in his mid-to-late 20s with a triangular, barrel-chested build and a tiny head is ideal.) More importantly, the leader must have had a previous personal encounter with the supernatural (preferably during a vaguely-alluded-to troubled childhood), so that he or she has sufficient credibility to outsiders (i.e., greater than none).

  3. Choose a Bitch. One of your team members should be designated as the Bitch. The Bitch is employed (sometimes unwittingly) as bait to lure malevolent spirits into doing harm. Oftentimes, the Bitch finds him or herself locked alone in a morgue, left behind in an attic, or in possession of some kind of attire or object likely to offend the spirits. Be sure to select the most paranoid and/or insecure team member as the Bitch.

  4. Introduce Yourselves. Your team should introduce itself by having the leader complete the following sentences: "My name is ___________. I never used to believe in ghosts until _______________. Since then, I've been on a mission to capture what I saw on video, along with my trusted teammates _________, _______, and ________. Together, we are _______________."

  5. Choose a Location. There are many theories as to what circumstances lead to hauntings, and how to avoid them. In the end, you have to rely on word-of-mouth and your instincts to select a suitable location to investigate. This can be an exhausting and time-consuming process, but fear not: should you run short on leads, you can always fall back onto one of the following options. (1) Return to a location you've visited previously, citing unqualified accounts of "people" hearing disembodied voices speak your name. (2) Investigate a type of place that no one would ever think of as being haunted, such as an aircraft carrier, telephone booth, or furniture store. (3) Sit around and jovially recount investigations of yore while cracking inside jokes.

  6. Bring Lots of Gadgets. Your team should carry a wide-ranging variety of equipment to help you undertake and document your investigation of the paranormal. Night-vision cameras and digital audio-recorders should be a staple for each team member. Other must-have devices include sensors that detect changes in temperature and electromagnetic fields; ideally, they should be highly fault-prone and subject to report wild fluctuations in their readings, since these behaviors can easily be attributed to spirit intervention. But more importantly, your team must have at least one gadget that no one else has, no matter how ridiculous or implausible it is. Examples include: (1) A text-to-speech engine that periodically utters a word or phrase hand-picked by supernatural presences. (2) A white-noise machine attached to an auto-tuner, through which spirits can somehow communicate (with perfect pitch).

  7. Ascribe Things to Stuff. Throughout the course of your investigation, your team will be faced with a never-ending stream of ambiguous data and evidence. Make sure that you highlight and thoroughly analyze the information that can easily support the case for paranormal activity, and quickly disregard the information that cannot. For example, the grainy video that your night-vision cameras capture will frequently feature oversized dust particles and light anomalies; if these phenomena can be wrapped seamlessly into a narrative of unexplained chills and/or demonic possession, do not hesitate to do so. Likewise, your digital audio-recorders will be capturing hours of white noise. Whenever this white noise appears to form a semi-intelligible word (and they will be almost exclusively monosyllabic), be sure to interpret it liberally in your documentation -- e.g., "Rssssshhh" can easily be heard as "Get out, now!" Finally, whenever any of your team members feels cold, disoriented, or otherwise ill after hours in a pitch-black state of sensory deprivation, be sure to film their discomfort up-close while declaring that their "energy is being drained" and/or that they are possessed.

  8. Contact the Travel Channel, A&E, Biography, the History Channel, and National Geographic. Although it's unclear as to what paranormal phenomena have to do with world travel, pop culture, famous people, historical events, or moribund sub-Saharan tribal cultures, these media outlets will show a great deal of interest in your team's work. Be sure to take advantage of this interest to secure sustainable financial backing.
And remember, if all else fails, start a Ca$h 4 G0ld side-business. What could go wrong?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Waxing Nostalgic for IM Conversations of Yesteryear

A recent episode of the The Big Bang Theory reminded me of an IM conversation I once had with my now-wife several years ago, back before we started dating.

I remember this conversation fondly whenever a reference is made to text-based adventure games... You know, the types of games that all the nerdy kids (whaddup!) played on their Apple IIe's and Apple IIgs's back in the 80s. These games typically place you in a labyrinth of some sort, with various diverging paths to choose from, objects to interact with, and puzzles to solve as you progressed toward some nebulously-defined goal. You progress through the game by typing various free-text commands, such as "go north" or "pick up axe" or "kill troll." (If I recall correctly, there was even an adult-themed one my friends and I stumbled upon once, in which "Fuck Trent" was a valid command that unceasingly produced the response "Trent takes no particular interest in it, but you feel satisfied.")

At any rate, this particular conversation took place across thousands of miles in the wee hours of the morning. She was sitting in an airport somewhere (my money's on SFO), waiting for her red-eye, and I was, as always, burning the midnight oil for no particular reason. It began with a cryptic remark, completely devoid of any context -- something I would later come to recognize as one of her hallmarks -- and went like this:
Her: we are at a crossroads
Me: oh sure
Her: and those crossroads are necessitated by one thing
Me: paths lead north, east, and south
Her: one pivotal fact
Me: there is a flask
Me: what will you do?
Her: er. can I kill the ogre?
Me: there is no ogre
Her: damn!
Her: I will drink!
Me: thou drinkest from ye flask
Me: thou hast died
Her: damn it
Her: do over!
Me: but thou hast been revived as in immortal
Her: hurrah! now, to the north!
Me: you go north, but you trip over ye flask
Her: damn it

Monday, October 4, 2010

Since No One's Reading This, I Can Rant

...maniacally, using a series of random mathematical equations:

1 + 1 < 3.14159 YOU LYING SACK OF (sin²ϴ + cos²ϴ)!!!

Take your goddamn e^-iπ and SHOVE IT UP YOUR ϕ!!!! Golden ratio my ass.

All of you MORONS who continue to believe that δ²y/δx² = 0 are COMPLETELY λ'd!!! That's right: