Wednesday, July 16, 2014


I decided to go camping by myself this summer.  I want two days of peace and solitude in the wilderness.  I've wanted to do this ever since my 2-day "solo period" during survival school, but I'm finally going to put it into practice.


Survival school taught me how to create a shelter, purify water, treat cuts, and deal with wild animals and lightning.  The only thing I fear is encountering a dangerous stranger, but Sha-mayn brilliantly told me to get pepper spray.  I ordered it from Amazon, and now I'm prepared!

The only question is whether to get this 1-pound camp chair.  It looks so comfortable, and has back support!  But it is going to add one pound (5% additional weight to my pack).

Also I already am departing from "survival mode camping" by bringing a tent and flashlight, and this just goes further down the slippery slope.  At least the tent has a functional purpose of providing warmth and shelter, and the flashlight helps with safety.  The chair is only for luxury.  It has no function other than making my back feel great.  What if this camp chair is the gateway drug to camping trips with pillows and hammocks?

Sunday, June 29, 2014

animation humor

At CM's birthday brunch:

CM: My friend was deciding between being an animator on a film versus a game.  He said on a film, he'd just spend a year making Shrek's eyelash.  On a game, he gets to create the whole character!

MB: All 2000 polys of it.


MB: Lots of games are all mo-cap now.

Me: Are all films totally mo-cap'ed now?  Does anyone hand animate these days?

MB: Of course.  You can't mo-cap a dragon.

Monday, June 23, 2014

OMG he-who-must-not-be-named hilarity

I am newly obsessed with Harry Potter books again.  The characters are so well-written!  I also forgot how funny the books are.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


I am quite irritated at the Harry Potter movies.

In the book, Hermione is a very strong, interesting character.  She is acknowledged by everyone as the best student in the class.  She stands up for herself.  She's great.

The movie forced her to cry at the end of the Yule Ball, sobbing, "Ron, you spoiled everything!"  Then she plops down dejectedly with her shoulders slumped.  In the book, she shouted at Ron to learn a lesson and "ask me earlier next time before someone else does, instead of as a last resort!"  Then she sweeps off to bed, leaving Ron thunderstruck.

Movie forcing Hermione to be dejected

The movie had her crying on Harry's shoulder when she discovered Ron kissing Lavender, asking Harry, "How does it feel when you see Ginny?" and then weeping at length.  That never happened in the book.  In the book, she sent magical birds after him and then walked out and slammed down the door, with a single sob.
Movie forcing Hermione to weep

The movie inexplicably had Ron pick Lavender over Hermione.  In the book, Ron went to Lavender because he felt jealous and inadequate that Hermione kissed Viktor Krum, and because Hermione insinuated his quidditch win was due to luck potion.  Ego wounded, Ron sought to build up his confidence via Lavender, who adored him like a dolt and never challenged him.  The movie had Hermione being sweet and supportive, but then gets suddenly rejected for no reason by Ron.

Ron and Lavender: movie removed all motive

I'm also irritated by Ron's speech in the first movie about how Harry needs to proceed through the rest of the quest alone, and that the hero has always been fated to be Harry, not Ron, not Hermione.  What the heck.  A central theme in Harry Potter is that we're not doomed or fated for anything.  We make decisions, and those shape our future.  Harry could've been great in Slytherin, but he continually made choices not to go into the dark arts.  The book emphasized and re-emphasized how our choices define us.  But the movie has a monologue about how Harry was the special one, so therefore his friends should just give up now because they're not the Chosen One and he is.

I place the blame at the feet of the movie directors for 1, 4, and 6.  They took an exquisitely written book and character (Hermione), and watered her down to a damsel in distress.  J K Rowling gave us a gift, and then the director dropped it in the dirt a few times.  

Thursday, May 29, 2014

nepotism in "Fellowship of the Ring"

Last month, I watched Fellowship of the Ring again.  It is an amazing movie, and I watched all 17 hours of bonus commentary.  However...!

Aragorn is obsessed with the "weakness that runs in his veins" because he is inherited from Isildur.  Three thousand years ago!  Even if his ancestors had children at age 50, that's 60 generations!  He is only 0.000000000000000086% blood from Isildur by this point! [1]  We should be far more concerned whether his more recent ancestors have weakness in their blood or not.

Also, the story makes a huge deal about how Aragorn is the ONLY ONE who can unite Gondor.  At one point, it looks like Aragorn will refuse, and Boromir goes on about how the race of men will fail now, and the White City will come to ruin.  There is no one else in all the tens of thousands in Gondor who can lead?  In 3000 years, not a single other leader emerged?  We have to wait for Aragorn with his 0.000000000000000086% royal blood (blood tainted by weakness, no less)?

Other than these problems, Lord of the Rings has great lessons.  Throughout many pre-launch moments on my software projects when it was "darkest before the dawn", I reminded myself and others that the journey always feels gritty and broken while you're in it.  One does not simply walk into Mordor.  It's only afterwards that the epic elf songs are written and sung throughout centuries.  While you're trekking to Mount Doom, it does not feel epic at all!

Also Lord of the Rings teaches us that even a hobbit (or two, since Frodo had a cofounder) can contend with the will of Sauron.

But the nepotism is lame!  Some random dude in Gondor should have risen up and said, "Hey, I'm a great leader too, how about we stop waiting decades for Aragorn and just unite under me instead?" and they should have gotten on with it.

[1] computed via (0.5)^60