Terror on the Prairie, Review

Just watched Terror on the Prairie. Seemed like a good show! Here are a few nitpicks.

Soiled Dove mentioned “drive home” when it should have been “ride.” A minor quibble. Speaking of minor quibbles, it seemed odd that the McAllisters would be able to afford clear glass window panes, but not have even a wooden pulley for their well.

Hattie doesn’t seem to have very good planning skills, but I suppose that’s realistic. It is foreshadowed in the rattlesnake scene, so at least it doesn’t come out of nowhere. Also, being a terrible shot is a nice nod to realism.

Finally, Angela VanWiemeersch needed someone to assist with Continuity. The magic bi-locating gun-belt in particular stood out to me.

Posted in Articles | Tagged | Leave a comment

Shamus Young has Passed On

I was first introduced to Shamus’ blog by Jeep Barnett after writing a short article about the physics implications of Portal. He encouraged me to comment, which I did, but didn’t really stick around. About three years later, a friend from university (the same Clint Olson who created a print version of Free Radical) recommended that I check out Shamus. This time it stuck, and I’ve been a regular more or less ever since the spring of 2010.

The main thing that interested me about Shamus’ work was the procgen stuff. Around the same time I was dabbling with procgen modeling, and wrote that famous bit of tree-generation code for Minecraft. I had an irrational sort of hope that Shamus would mentor me, so when our first direct interaction was both on the topic of procgen and unqualified affirmation, he had earned my undying admiration. The video-game critique and writing was fun, but it was the programming that kept me coming back.

When he published his AutoBlography in 2012 I bought a copy, and made a recording as I read it out loud to my little kids. He felt like a family friend after that, and the kids would talk about “Shamus” as casually as you would an uncle. Later that same year Shamus posted the initial fragment of “Fall From the Sky” and I took it upon myself to complete the work. Reading, studying, and re-reading his unfinished and unedited prose gave me a new appreciation for the man’s unique style and thought process. When the book was finished years later I had a newfound appreciation for Shamus’ authorial capacity. Some years later, I wrote:

I had hoped, starting the endeavor, that it WOULD be a collaboration between Shamus – whom I somewhat idolized at the time – and myself who felt acutely in need of camaraderie. Sadly, it didn’t turn out that way. Now that I am regularly talking with Shamus, I realize more vividly than ever how much I had hoped to be working with someone, and how much Shamus (and perhaps myself as well) is not the kind of person one can work with.

Which brings me to Shamus’ creative style. He was a man of singular vision; Seemingly incapable – for good or for ill – of incorporating others’ thoughts, suggestions, or ideas. If you agreed with him, and liked what he was doing, fine. If you didn’t, also fine. But there was no room for changing his mind, no process of coaxing or convincing. Like his comment moderation style, he created as he did not because he thought it was the best way out of many, but because he was unable to do otherwise. When I proofread “The Other Kind of Life” all suggestions but the most technical errors were dismissed without comment. There seemed to be no way for him to incorporate creative feedback. I reached out to him with so many creative projects over the years, but none came to fruition.

Shamus was mortal after all. No matter how strong my desire for collaboration, for mentorship, for friendship, for making that final game with him that would live up to the promise of Starflight and No Man’s Sky and Spore combined, for completing the story of Deck, of Alice and Simon and Gilbert, for reaching that little boy who loved puppies, and couldn’t touch them because it would kill him, and just wanting to see him smile, just wanting to be able to help him enjoy this world so full of suffering, no matter how strong we wished it, what we got was this instead. God grant that it is enough, for us and for him. I pray for the repose of your soul Shamus. “Now cracks a noble heart. Good night, sweet prince; And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.” May we meet again on those shining streets where sorrow is no more.

My middle son walked up while I was writing this and asked me why it looked like I was crying. After explaining what had happened, he responded, “So you can’t go work for him any more? That’s sad.” And yeah, it is.

Posted in Other | Tagged | 3 Comments

GE advantium 120 cafe microwave demo mode

I recently had to take the keypad off of the microwave and dry it in order to clear the “keypad short” error which completely disabled the microwave for some reason. Perhaps it was related to the several gallons of soup stock that we were boiling to reduce it down, directly underneath said keypad. Anyway, a heat gun soon set that straight, but then the microwave was inexplicably stuck in “Demo” mode.

For those of you who, like me, do not know what demo mode is, it basically makes the microwave never turn on the EM circuit. So, it doesn’t heat up your food. So, it may as well not work at all, unless all you need it for is to run the vent so the steam from your soup doesn’t condense in the keypad.

So, how do you get the microwave out of demo mode? The GE website says:

The Advantium 120 has a demo mode that can be used by dealers to display the features of the unit.
1. Unplug oven for at least 3 minutes.
2. Plug oven in
3. Before setting clock, touch and hold the “POWER LEVEL” and “START” pads at the same time for a full 3 seconds.
The demo mode will not be terminated by simply unplugging the unit, regardless of how long it is powered down. You must follow the instructions above to initiate or terminate the demo mode.

So, that sounds great! Sadly, my microwave does not have a “power level” button. Through experimentation, I discovered that holding the “HELP” and “START” buttons works. When successful, the screen displays the state of the demo mode (either enabled or disabled), and then reboots to the same menu, presumably so you can continue to fruitlessly toggle demo mode on and off until you get hungry.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go heat up some soup.

Posted in Articles | Tagged | Leave a comment

IP is Inverse Marxism

Been listening to Jordan Peterson a lot recently. Specifically thinking about the specter of Marxism that he’s afraid will re-assail the world. Here are my thoughts:


There is much in Socialism that is wicked and perverse, and for the greater part I stand with Jordan B Peterson in his rejection of communism, both on the basis of its fruits and of its intellectual bankruptcy. However, there is one (at least) spot in which I have departed from this sage, and in which I find some truth in socialism, and it is in the matter of Intellectual Property.

Continue reading
Posted in Articles, Politalks | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

TwinWorld Logo

A decade or two ago my brothers and I optimistically set out to make a webcomic. We didn’t have an artist, so the creation was primarily that of worldbuilding. You can read our notes here: http://hozz.peripheralarbor.com/

In the years since, I’ve been meditating with growing amazement on the setting that we developed, as it seems to have significant psychological depth. Perhaps that’s all projected, but I’ve attempted to embed that meaning, especially from the origin story, in this image.

Twinworld Logo
Continue reading
Posted in Articles | Tagged | Leave a comment

The Seven Superpowers

I have been thinking for a while about the limits of human potential as outlined by the capacities recorded in the scriptures. It is my conclusion that these powers are not only real, but achievable for every person if we will lay aside sin and earnestly practice sanctity.

My Icons of the Five Superpowers
Continue reading
Posted in Articles | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Isaiah 30 Song

I’ve been working on this song/poem for a long time now. At least four years (the poem has been complete since at least 2017-08-08) but very likely many more. This recording is a poor attempt, but I feel like if I wait to get it perfect, I’ll never post it.

Isaiah 30 second half song

The lyrics, if you can’t tell from my poor performance, are intended to be as follows:

Continue reading
Posted in Music | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Short Story Contest 2020

A local paper (The Camarillo Acorn) hosts an annual short story contest, so I figured I’d take a swing at it. The following is based on a feeling I’ve had somewhat frequently when out in the street. Or looking at Christmas lights. All these houses, lit up from the inside. What if I didn’t belong to any of them? What if I was an outsider, who couldn’t gain admission even if I asked nicely? A street child perhaps. What a barrier!

All the barricades, fences, and walls that make a home feel so safe, also serve to make the home intimidating to those outside. And yet, so close, really more “among” the houses than “within” them. How can the physical distinction be so specific? Walls within walls, and tier on tier of refusal. Are the windows to the soul of the home blind? Or do they merely look out in the day, and at night turn inward?

So there you go, the introduction is longer than the work itself. I present to you:


Great villas sparkling with warmth in deepening night. I, among them, but uninvited. Why so cold? There is warmth abundant, passing needs. I, pressing needs, and nose against the glass yearn to belong. I, an embarrassment, not so much shunned as blanked. Nonentity cannot hope for hospitality. Among them, but outside; Lingering in the streets, the guts, where all nourishment is extracted and waste, like me, moves on. Forgotten, will I fade away? Or was I ever here? The smudge of face and breath, my tender mark of hope, the servants will expunge.

Posted in Short Stories | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Random Math

16 processes running at once, all scrolling fast enough to refresh every screen every frame.

I was telling the kids how fast computers are, and to demonstrate I wrote this Python program to do simple multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction.

Continue reading
Posted in Articles | Tagged | Leave a comment

Vacation Trials

We took a family vacation 2017-05-27 thru 2017-06-29, swinging around the western third of the USA. I was working remote during the entire trip, which set the stress levels a bit high just off the bat. The whole family came along, which at the time was five children, the oldest of which was seven. So that was a bit stressful as well.

The first leg of the trip was the drive out to Tucson. It went well all the way through the desert, though the AC switched to heat when we were going up hills, but on our arrival in Tucson the air conditioning inexplicably ceased to function all together. I poked around to see if maybe a cable was loose or something, but was unable to revive it. We figured we would get it fixed a few days later when we spent a week in Colorado Springs.

But once we got the car into the shop in Colorado Springs, the shop kept having delays. First it was disassembly, then it was parts, then the parts were the wrong parts, then the new parts wouldn’t go back together correctly. The short of it was that we were stuck without a vehicle for three days at the campsite with spotty wifi and unreliable cell service. The day before we needed to leave we finally got the car back with the AC fixed (though it still switched to heat going uphill).

The next two weeks were pretty uneventful, other than needing to replace one of the headlights. We stopped by our rental house to bring home some of the things we had put in storage, so we wanted to get a trailer, but for that we needed a trailer hitch. So the day before we planned to drive home, we took the van down to the U-Haul. While I was The guy who installed the hitch bar put it in too far back, so the spare tire wouldn’t fit properly, but we didn’t have time to worry about that because the van also just wouldn’t start. I walked back and forth between the U-Haul and our house several times, and at one point I left my phone charging in the lobby. When I got back my phone had been stolen. A guy who worked at the oil change place helped us diagnose the problem, and we had the van towed to the local dealership. I walked to the friend’s house where we were staying and I had reached my limit. I wept in my wife’s lap.

So we were stuck again. We asked our parish priest and our parents for prayers, but there was nothing else to be done. I spent the day at the dealership, and five days later we had the van back. The delay had thrown off our plans, and we rushed to get the trailer hooked up, packed, and the family back on the road.

About half way back, we got a flat tire. That only took about a half hour to put on the spare, and then another hour or so to get a couple new tires put on.

At the time, it felt like everything was going wrong. Looking back, well, it could have gone better, but we overcame it, and God knew we could, so it’s something of a compliment I suppose.

Posted in Articles | Leave a comment