jmadigan.net

30Jan/06Off

Sam’s Story: Week 105

This hasn't been a very good week for Sammy. When I left for work this morning she standing in the middle of the living room, wailing like a baby banshee and wiping at the hot tears that were streaking down her cheeks. She was inconsolable, no matter what we tried, and had been like that on and off for the last several days.

Let's back up before I tell you why, though. The first part of the week was actually great. We had the birthday party on Sunday, and Sam even got a second dose of festivity on Monday at the Mommy & Me class, though she looks pretty apathetic even at the tender age of two. On Wednesday Ger and I fed her more cake and opened the gifts she had received in the mail from family. At the end of the night she sat astride another pile of birthday booty, including bath toys, books, a bubble bucket, and personal checks (the last of which are going straight into her savings). Her Aunt Shawn had even arranged for a special, 30-second phone call from Elmo (or his understudy, we don't know for sure), the first 20 seconds of which Sam spent looking at the phone in confusion, the last 10 seconds of which she finally caught on and got into it.

One of Sam's favorite birthday presents, though, came from Grandma and Grandpa: a shopping cart and baby doll that you can see here (also a rare picture of Sam with her hair in pigtails). Sam is totally into the doll (which Ger named "Francine" after the mom in American Dad for some reason), and loves to feed her breakfast. And snacks. And lunch. And more snacks.

Here are some pictures:

















But back to the inconsolable crying and hot tears. Around Thursday Sam started to get sick. It wasn't much at first, but by the weekend she was running a nasty temperature (climbing as high as 104° before we pounded it back down with Tylenol) and she seemed to be in a perpetually bad mood. I think she had a sore throat, too, because when she tried to eat I could see her grimace with every swallow. So of course she practically stopped eating, which probably didn't do much to improve her mood. She'd often just stand there, blubbering and crying "Oh no, no, no! Oh no, no, no! Oh no, no, no!" over and over again, as if that repeated negation might make her misery depart for some other place. But it didn't, and neither did most of what we did for her. Every offer of food, drink, or toys was met with immediate and sometimes spastic rejection. Occasionally we could get her calmed down enough to watch Sesame Street or one of her DVDs, but eventually she'd rev back up and would start crying and chanting "Oh no, no, no!" again.

We actually thought Sam was doing better by the time we put her to bed last night, but she woke up at 5:40 a.m. (a good hour and a half early for her) and started crying. I was already up and Ger decided to just go ahead and get Sam up, too, since she was whimpering through the baby monitor. When the blinds were opened and Sam saw that it was still dark outside, she did a little freak out of her own. This condition of the Earth's rotation TOTALLY pissed her off for some reason, and she started up in earnest again, screaming at the pre-dawn outside her window. Finally I just put her back in her crib and she lay there semi-quietly until light began to leak through her curtains and the world was right again. For about 20 minutes, anyway. To make matters worse, Ger seems to have the same illness.

During one of Sam's fits I consulted our "What to Expect the Toddler Years" book to see what it had to say on the topics of fever and malady in general. I swear, sometimes I think that the author of this thing just copied and pasted "This is normal. Your child will be fine." to every chapter of the book, because apparently everything is just to be expected and you should just be calm. What I want to do when I have some free time is to write a book called "What not to Expect." Pages 2-500 of this book will be the subject index in the back, covering every conceivable condition or circumstance from "Asthma" to "Zebra Poisoning." Every entry in this subject index would reference Page 1 of the book, which will just have the following in big, bold letters:

What? Are you kidding? YOU NEED TO FREAK OUT! RIGHT NOW!

Because sometimes when your daughter is already way ahead of you, you just want permission to freak out. It could be good to freak out, but you can't. Because that's not your job. But it would be good to be a temp on assignment to that project for a while.

Filed under: Parenting, Samantha 1 Comment
27Jan/06Off

You know you’re playing to much WoW when…

You know you're playing too much World of Warcraft when you're picking out medicine for your feverish daughter and you think --actualy think the words-- "Well, both Tylenol and Advil reduce fever, but Tylenol has a cooldown period of four hours while Advil is six. But Tylenol stacks with the Robitussin, so..." In other words, I was min/maxing Sam's medication.

I guess it works both ways, though. Last night my Dwarven Hunter tamed a wild bear and I promptly named it "DooDoo" after Sam's word for teddy bears. It's all a rich tapestry.

Filed under: Gaming No Comments
25Jan/06Off

Happy 2nd Birthday, Samantha Alyse Madigan

Dear Samantha,

Today you're two years old. Nice job! Like I did last year, I thought I'd write you a letter and tell you how things went this second year. Again, I don't think you can read this yet unless you're some kind of super genius and are just messing with us, but some day you will.

At around 12 months you really started taking notice of the world. You would point at things and shout "DAT?" as if to say "Hey? What's that? I've never seen one of those before!" Dat, dat, dat! Later this engagement moved on to not just pointing, but pointing and laughing with delight.

One of the things I've come to love most about you is that you laugh so easily. It seems like everything is JUST SO AWESOME and you can't help busting out in a belly laugh at things that the rest of us consider mundane. Teddy bear fell off the table? Hysterical! Daddy peeks out at you from underneath a blanket? Bust a gut! Your mother and I share your afinity for laughter, but you're really reminded us that the world is full of things to be happy about.

I've also found out other things about you. For example, you have no preference for chedder over swiss cheese. You absolutely love Sesame Street, particularly Elmo and Cookie Monster. Sleeping and eating are two of your core competencies, but when you're awake you want to move. You never sit still unless it's to read or watch TV. Even then, you'll kind of stand in front of the TV and do this little side-to-side dance.

And then there's the talking. A little after your first birthday you started yammering, and within a few weeks you were actually making sense. Sometimes. After the obligatory "Mommy" and "Daddy" you moved on to animal sounds. Actually, even though you're currently mastering short sentences and polysylabic words like "Umbrella" or "Costco," you still to this day refer to ducks as "Quack Quacks" and the cat as "Rower-rower." You'll need to work on that before your college entrance exams.

Locomotion was also a big theme this year. You started toddling around on your own around week 59, though you were pulling up and "cruising" well before then. Toddling gave way to walking which gave way to running and running gave way to OH MY GOD SHE'S CLIMBED THE STAIRS WHILE WE WEREN'T LOOKING! So proud.

On the flipside, one of the less pleasant results of your burgeoning (a word which here means "making daddy proud") independence is the need for some discipline from me and your mom. At first you'd pretty much go along with it and quit doing whatever we told you to quit doing, but in the last few months you've decided that maybe we shouldn't have the last word on the subject and that you should just do whatever you like. Frustrating as it is, I understand that it's just a normal part of learning to navigate the wold and I'm not going to hold it against you. Because some day, when you're an adult, you may have a very fulfilling career smearing dirty fingers across the television or standing up in the bathtub.

And while we're on the subject, tantrums are also creeping into your arsenal of responses to situations you don't like, and you're not beyond letting one fly, even at the library. "Go!" has been one of your favorite words lately, as evidenced by your repeatedly shrieking whenever you're bored with the current little plot of the world in your purview, but I guess that's understandable. It's a huge world and you're just now developing the means to experience it. You want to move on. I can respect that, kiddo. I may snap at you, but don't hold it against me either. We're both just doing our jobs.

But at any rate, you've definitely become more of a person these last 12 months. You're no longer this little crying thing that just needs changing, feeding, and attention. You still need all those things, I guess, but in the last year you've started to become your own person. And I certainly like who I see you becoming. The best part of my day is still coming home to you, and I still think about you while I'm away.

So thanks again, Samantha. Thanks for taking me through this second year of your life. You've changed a lot, and I think I have, too. Some of it has been stressful and some things will never be the same, but it's nice to have you there to help me through it all. You're a natural.

Love,

--Dad

Want to send Samantha a quick "Happy 2nd Birthday" note? Shoot an e-mail to samantha.madigan@gmail.com.

Filed under: Parenting, Samantha 3 Comments
25Jan/06Off

The Tommyknockers

Stephen King is like Taco Bell. Think about it. Taco Bell has just a few ingredients that they can combine a hundred different ways to make something new every time: tortilla, beans, chicken, beef, cheese, sour cream, tomatoes. Sure, that Chicken Burrito may have its own line on the menu, but it's essentially made from the same exact stuff as the Chicken Soft Taco Supreme. And if you hold the chicken and fry the tortilla you've got a Tostada. But it feels like something totally different. Well, different enough.

Likewise, Stephen King has a store of common ingredients from which he has concocted best sellers for the bulk of his career. Here, for example, are the standard Stephen King stock items found in The Tommyknockers:

(1) A new, modern twist on a classic monster. In this case, aliens, which are recast as mind reading, body snatching Tommyknockers.

(2) Telepathy and mind reading. It's amazing how often this shows up in King's books to one degree or another, but it's center stage here.

(3) An ordinary person thrust into an extraordinary situation. This is like King's tortilla. It's the foundation of almost every book he's written.

(4) Taking mundane everyday things and making them deadly and frightening. In this case we have killer Coke machines and deadly vacuum cleaners.

(5) Rural Maine. I've read enough Stephen King books to know that I should never go to Maine, much less anywhere near a small, rural Maine community full of tightly-knit and slightly xenophobic Yankees.

(6) Lengthy character studies that end in blood baths. King has this habit of giving us lengthy introductions to characters, replete with back stories and intimate portrayals of their lives. Then he kills them in spectacular ways. This generally happens several times per book.

(7) Colorful, local idioms. Another reason, besides avoiding killer clowns, not to go to Main is that apparently everyone there has a deep bag of extravagant invectives and colloquialisms that they have no compunctions about reaching into. This includes all characters of any age or walk of life.

(8) Quoting rock lyrics. Reading a Stephen King novel is sometimes like listening to a classic rock station without the ads for the local head shop.

That all said, I still like chicken and bean burritos, and I still liked The Tommyknockers even though it is widely considered one of his worst works, written as it was at the height of his drug addiction. It drags in several places, but it's a demonstration of another thing King does repeatedly (and well): building tension. All this weird stuff builds up, then explodes in the last quarter of the book. I'm not saying it's anywhere near his best (c.f., The Stand, The Shining) but it wasn't as terrible as I expected it to be.

Filed under: Books No Comments
24Jan/06Off

Sam’s Story: Week 104

The big event this week was Sam's 2nd birthday part, which you can see pictures of right here and read a little about over here. It was quite fun (Ger worked hard to make sure it would be) and I think everyone enjoyed themselves. And Sam scored some phat loot.

Sam's mastery over life has started to take a big step: she's learning letters. Well, a few of them. Right now she knows two members of the alphabetical family: O and K. So if she ever wants to mail a package to Nana and Pa-Pa in Oklahoma, she's partway there. If she sees these two characters written anywhere, she'll scream "OH!" or "KAY!" sometimes several times in a row, no matter where we are. It's kind of cute, but I hope she decides to give the rest of the alphabet a try, too. I hear "W" is frickin' awesome.

Part of her interest in the alphabet may be that we read to Sam constantly, and last Saturday I decided to take her to the new library that just opened up the road. We wandered through the stacks where she would rip down a pile of books, select one (usually one with a bear or cars on the cover), deposit herself in my lap, and insist that I read it to her. After a while I had a armload of books she seemed to like and went to the circulation desk to apply for a library card. Around this time Sam decided that she had had enough and that it was time to remind me that she was entering into the terrible twos. She grabbed my hand and said "Go," as she is wont to do when she's ready to move on. When we did not in fact "go" immediately, she squared her feet, scrunched her face, and started screaming "GO GO GO! GO GO GO! GO GO GO!" as loud as she could. Which, for the record, sounds a LOT louder when you're in a library.

So we went, sans library card and thus sans books. And though there were stern words once we got outside, there was also juice, a Snack Trap™ full of grapes, and a trip to the park. Yes, my discipline is terrible to behold. Here are some pictures:














As you can see, Sam has finally begun to master the art of drinking through a straw. Her reluctance to do so had caused me no small amount of anxiety for some reason. I mean, potty training and complete sentences could wait, I wanted to know why this kid couldn't suck apple juice through a straw.

23Jan/06Off

Sam’s second birthday party

I put some pictures from Sam's second birthday party yesterday on the Photos Page. And because I like you, I'll save your tired mouse clicking finger some work and post them here, too:























We had a great turnout, with just about everyone we invited being able to make it and bring along their kids. There was Gabriel, Rachel, Emma and brother Henry, Kylie, and sisters Renna and Risa. (Deep apologies for not getting good shots of Rachel or Henry. Sorry, parents!)

Everybody seemed to have a great time, so much so that an impromptu wrestling match broke out. Also, there was baloons and cake.

19Jan/06Off

San Diego Wild Animal Park

If there's one thing I love, it's wild animals in captivity. Fortunately, the San Diego Wild Animal park isn't too far away, so we recently took Sam there. I also took the opportunity to borrow a telephoto camera lens from a friend and try it out on subjects while still out of beak's reach. Here are the results:























My favorite shots are this one and this one of a big balloon that you could ride up (for $15!). I just like the contrast of yellow baloon on sky and the simple shape. As far as animals go, this one of a meerkat and this one of some bird turned out pretty good.

Also I'll point out that now that I have ample storage space, I'll probably be posting more non-Samantha photographs in the Photographs section.

Filed under: Photography 5 Comments
18Jan/06Off

Planet Simpson

I love me some Simpsons, but I really didn't like this book. Ostensibly it's about The Simpsons television series and after reading the dust jacket I expected to find stories and anecdotes about the show, its history, its creators, and the like. Kind of like an episode of VH1's "Behind the Music" for the show, except with 40% less drugs. Instead, Planet Simpson turns out to be a platform for the author's politics, with amusing Simpsons quotes thrown in when relevant.
If I had to pick one word to describe this mess, it would be "undisciplined." Turner may start a chapter by sticking with a promising topic (e.g., an analysis of the different kinds of humor employed by the show), but he invariably traipses off into la-la land within a few pages. Why am I holding a book called "Planet Simpson" and reading a 10,000 word treatise on Radiohead, the Bush administration, or the evils of consumerism? What does this have to do with Homer? The writing is so meandering and self-indulgent that it stumbles from topic to topic, stitching them together with the only an occasional Simpsons reference or quote. In fact, the only parts of the book I really enjoyed were the quotes from the show and sometimes we'll go pages without any reference to Our Favorite Family.
Don't get me wrong, some of the ideas Turner puts forth are interesting, if smug and written in a needlessly complex and so-anti-elitist-that-it's-elite manner. But there's only so many times I can tolerate phrases like "cultural zeitgeist" or "sisyphean endeavors" or "postmodern deconstructionalist." I have as big a vocabulary as the next guy and understand all those big words (well, after one or two trips to dictionary.com), but I also recognize when someone is deliberately trying to be pedantic and priggish. Yes, I'm being ironic. How postmodern of me.
I just wanted a book that talked about how once Matt Groening got all drunk and punched Al Jean. Is that so much to ask?

Filed under: Books No Comments
17Jan/06Off

Welcome to jmadigan.net v2.0!

Hooray! A few things are still in want of fixing, but for the most part it's all done and I can finally welcome you to the new jmadigan.net. New to you are:

(1) New design, obviously. I really liked the red and yellow color scheme of the old design, but I wanted something new and the design you see here was where I ended up. I actually started off with plans to do an orange and grey design, but while I liked that color palate it just didn't look good once I filled it with content. The design has also been totally recoded from the ground up, with my craptacular old "I'm just now learning how this all works" HTML a thing of the past. I'm not saying the new stuff is flawless, but believe me when I say it's a LOT better and a LOT more flexible and a LOT more efficient than it was before.

(2) New host. My old host was really stingy with their storage space and I was constantly butting up against the 400 MB (yes, as in "megabyte") limit. So when my friend Todd sent me a coupon code that waived the setup fees, I decided to jump ship to Dreamhost, who gave me approximately 474 gajillion terabytes of storage. I think I now have enough to mirror the Internet.

(3) Movable Type 3.2. While I was at it I upgraded to Movable Type version 3.2, which has better templates and more controls. This won't really affect you readers much, but it makes things easier for me since I integrated pretty much all the site content through MT, lessening my need to manually transfer files via FTP. MT 3.2 also has tighter comment spam controls, so until I get that figured out I may have to manually approve your comments, and I may actually move to a registration requirement to post at all. I really hate deleting comment spam.

I guess that's it as far as you know. I still need to fix the category-based and date-based archive pages and a few other miscellaneous pages and a truckload of broken links, but otherwise we're good to go. At any rate, what do you think of the new design?

17Jan/06Off

Sam’s Story: Week 103

Sam is almost two years old, so Ger and I have been busy preparing for her second birthday party. We're keeping things relatively simple --no scary clowns or inflatable buildings to jump around in. Given her peculiar culinary predilections, we're not letting Sam pick out the menu for the event. If we did, party-goers would be treated to platter after platter of nothing but:

  • Refried beans
  • Pickles
  • Black olives
  • Red onion
  • Lemons

I swear, she'd eat any of the above until she pops if we let her. Actually, you might want to add donuts to that list after this weekend. On Sunday we went to Krispy Kreme to use some coupons and picked up an assorted dozen (a.k.a., "enough to last me the rest of the morning, barely"). Like a practiced crack dealer, the fiend behind the counter offered Sam a free sample, at which she initially nibbled, then subsequently scarfed. I was standing over at the coffee bar holding the dozen donuts in one arm and pouring milk into my coffee with the other when I felt something clawing at my pants leg. It was Sam, who was doing her best to climb up me while never taking her crazed eyes off the cardboard box full of what is now the best thing in her little world. Glad to see my genes are expressing themselves somewhere in there.

Pictures!











Sam's verbal prowess continue to accelerate, with her vocabulary growing almost too quickly to keep track of. A few notably cute additions include umbrella ("uh-bah-bah"), robe ("row"), bow/shoelaces ("bow"), toast/bread ("tow"), micturate ("pee-pee"), and the multipurpose "Oh yeeeaah!" exclamation. Much to our delight, Sam has also started to attach "please" (or rather, "peas") to her requests. So we get "Up, peas!" or "Doo, pease!"

The fly in the ointment, though, is that Sam apparently didn't learn this supplication from us, her ever polite and ever present parents. Like most of life's important lessons, she learned it from Elmo. For Christmas we bought her this little "Mr Potato Head" knock off where you can stick on or remove various body parts on a plain Elmo base. Each time you do, Elmo's battery-powered voice will comment on your choice. One of his stock responses is "Elmo needs a nose, please," the last word of which Sam just started repeating and using one day.

So thanks again, Children's Television Workshop (a subsidiary of the Yamaha Corporation, I think). Thanks for raising my child through your clever merchandise.

Filed under: Parenting, Samantha 2 Comments
15Jan/06Off

Welcome to a sneak peek of jmadigan.net v2.0

Hello. As you've probably noticed, I have redesigned the site. Well, I have almost redesigned the site; there's still a few things I'm working on. I'll say plenty more later, but hold tight for now. Pretty much everything but the blog is up and running, so take a look around and let me know what you think. Bonus points for spotting something that's broken!
Sam's Story for this week, by the way, might be delayed a bit until I get this all set up. It's definitely coming, though.

13Jan/06Off

The Time Traveler’s Wife

Normally, I loathe time travel stories. They're too often cliche and fail to adhere to any kind of internal consistency. However, I loved The Time Traveler's Wife mainly because it's so different from other stories on the subject. In fact, the book isn't about time travel per se. It's about Henry, a time traveler, and Clare, his titular wife. And their daughter, and friends, and family.

In other words, nobody goes back in time to fight Nazis or alter history. It's a small-scale story about a man who involuntarily and spontaneously time travels, and the book explores a variety of questions that would come up if that kind of thing were real. The questions are occasionally mundane (Would you cheat the lottery and stock market or would you try to live a normal life?) but most often very thoughtful (If you, as a grown man, repeatedly met your wife as a little girl, how would you treat her? If you knew when and how you were going to die, would you tell your family? If you met your daughter in the future, what would you say to her?). The book stumbles around the cause/effect paradox that plagues every time travel story, but once you suspend that little piece of disbelief it's a great experience full of really stimulating conundrums and ethical questions on a very personal level.

A few overwrought similes aside, the writing is also quite lyrical, flowing well as the author jumps back and forth in time in a way that's engaging, not confusing. She lays down multiple threads in the narrative, then dances among them with admirable skill as she plays with the many implications of Henry's brand of "chrono displacement disorder." Why is Henry so unhappy every time he travels from the year 2000? What was the horrible accident that Clare is prevented from seeing as a little girl? Why does Gomez dislike Henry so much before they even meet for the first time? Questions like these are dropped all the time, then neatly wrapped up as the narrative skips back and forth. It's really well done.

The book's only substantial flaw is that the relationship between the time traveler and his wife is too romantic. Even though the husband does some really awful stuff (drinking, drugs, going behind his wife's back to get a vasectomy, secretly having medical tests done on their daughter against the wife's wishes), the couple is just over the top in love. They constantly ache for each other, fawn for each other, and generally adore each other to the point where you want to check the book's cover to make sure it doesn't have a busty maiden swooning into the arms of a lantern-jawed sea captain. The romance, along with the main characters' love for their daughter, is played to good effect and results in some genuinely moving scenes towards the end of the book, but I would have connected more with the characters if they had actually behaved like a real couple and found strife in their life every now and again.

That being said, I highly recommend the book and think it would appeal to a wide variety of people.

Filed under: Books 4 Comments
9Jan/06Off

Sam’s Story: Week 102

Christmas has come and gone, but I'm still playing with my new toy --a new camera. One of the things I love is the "burst mode,", which lets you take like 4 pictures a second. We were at the park and Ger put Sam on this thing that spins around in a tight circle when you turn a wheel. Sam totally loved it and it gave me a chance to test out the burst mode paired with a quick shutter speed to capture the action. This is the result (click for a larger version):

spinning

As you can see in the last 2 frames, Sam eventually but suddenly decided to get off this crazy thing and went flying to the sand beneath her. She was unhurt, but thoroughly dizzy and had to just sit still for a few minutes while the world stopped spinning.

Sam's other adventures this week included a trip to the San Diego Wild Animal Park. I have a ton of pictures from that, but I'll post them later. Now that she's a bit older, watching her reactions to the various park exhibits was pretty entertaining. She'd do her best to make all the animal sounds she knew, though according to her every bird on God's green earth goes "Quack! Quack!"

And she was only freaked out once. In an aviary exhibit where these little parakeet-like birds would flutter down and try to land on your arms or shoulders in search of a tasty treat sold for an outrageous $2 an ounce to gullible and dim-witted tourists (i.e., me and Ger). When the flurry of colorful wings descended on us, Sam put on a look of quiet terror and ran into my arms. Well, knees. It was kind of nice feeling --not that she was frightened, but that she immediately went to me for comfort.

Here's some more pictures:














I kind of like this one because it seems like she's sitting on the "big kid swing" while looking at the "baby swing" a little wistfully. Like she's just now realizing that she's growing up and leaving some things behind forever. Or maybe she was just looking at the doggie over there on the left or something. Whatever, I like my interpretation better.

Finally, here's a tip that I learned from Parenthacks.com and which every parent should know about. Flickr is a website where people can upload photographs for viewing by the rest of the world and associate them with keywords. You can search on certain keywords and display the resulting pile of pixilated pictures as a slide show. I found that doing this on a search for keywords like "Teddy Bear" will entrance Sam for large stretches of time. She sat in my lap for 18 minutes watching slide show and shouting out "Doo doo!" (which is, inexplicably, her word for "bear") at every single picture. Meanwhile, I had another browser window open and was merrily surfing away.

God bless the Internet, warts and all.

Filed under: Parenting, Samantha 2 Comments
5Jan/06Off

HR Systems in videogames? You bet.

World of Warcraft Logo

When not doing I/O type stuff, I've been playing a computer game called "World of Warcraft." For you philistines who haven't heard of it, it's an online, fantasy-themed game where you create a character and play with (or against) thousands of other, real people from all over the world. This human element adds all kinds of new twists to things, one of which is the organization of, well, organizations in the virtual world.

These assemblies of players, called "guilds," come together for a variety of reasons. Many of them are just social groups comprised of people who know each other outside of the game or who have become friends through it. Others, as I've recently found out, are way more like businesses. They have officers, jobs/roles, rules, policies, budgets, mission statements, performance appraisals, and selection processes for new members. Some of them even have formal work (or in this case, play) hours where you're expected to show up on time and put your virtual nose to the virtual grindstone!

My friend, who is in one of these guilds, was telling me about them today and all this made me think how much their operations sometimes resemble real organizations. When my friend applied for membership in the guild, they took his application and reviewed his qualifications and work/play history. They then brought him along for an employment test of sorts --a foray into a particularly dangerous part of the game world that demands skillful performance and cooperation with other team members in order to succeed. During this test, the guild's officers evaluated my friend's performance with a number of tools that gave hard data on his and others' performance.

These tools assessed things like how much damage team members did to enemies, how much they endangered their teammates, and how well they used their special talents. It was, in effect, the data-driven decision making of Total Quality Management adapted for use in a video game. Certain players were expected to fulfill certain roles or jobs (attacking, healing, enhancing, controlling the actions of enemies, etc.), and these statistics made it easy to see who was doing his job and who wasn't. If someone consistently failed, there were escalating levels of reprimand. Depending on the nature of the infraction, there could be warnings, performance improvement plans, training, demotions, or even expulsion from the group. These guilds were handling things more efficiently than many real life businesses I've seen!

There are differences, I know, so I'll try not to overstate things. Consequences in real life are more dear, though you may have difficulty convincing the more fanatical players of that. And there are completely different mores in games and in business. You wouldn't, for example, tolerate an office full of people screaming vulgarities when your Hunter adds two elite MOBs while trying to kite an instance boss. ...So to speak.

Anyway, I don't have much of a point beyond the observation that organizations and various Human (or Elf or Orc) Resources functions almost seem endemic to human nature when the circumstances are right. Similar problems in real-life and in games lead to similar solutions, even if one results in increased stock price while another results in a dead dragon.

Also, I love posts that I can categorize in both "Gaming" and "I/O Psychology."

2Jan/06Off

Sam’s Story: Week 101

Sam has become tiring. And I'm not talking about losing sleep --if you spot me the first 8 weeks, I can count on one hand the times she's failed to sleep through the night. Sleeping is one of her core competencies. Instead, her brand of exhaustion inducement has lately stemmed from an overabundance of energy and a desire to burn it off. With me. Her latest and most favoritest game is for me to shout "Grah-grah-grah!" and run behind her while she bubbles over with sputtering laughter and runs around like the fan favorite in the Special Olympics. She'll want to play this game for like an hour at a time, running back and forth and back and forth.

If (or rather, when) I collapse on the carpet in exhaustion, she'll start circling while yelling "UP! UP!" and yanking on my various limbs. Her single-minded tenacity in these resuscitative efforts is quite impressive. She simply will not stop until I get up and resume the chase. I've started shopping around at exercise equipment outlets in order to complete a Wile E. Coyote-esque plan where I place her on a treadmill and shout "Graah! Run! I'm gonna getcha!" from a chair behind her.

Sam has also adopted the occasional habit of repeating back the last word in any sentence she overhears. This has resulted in her adding words like "crotch" and "annoying" to her vocabulary. I've taken great joy in teaching her a number of exclamations that sound cute when shouted in her toddler falsetto. Right now we've got "Wooooo!" and "Oh noes!" and I'm working on "OMG!" while Geralyn isn't around.

Pictures!















The playground pictures you see here are actually from the tail end of our trip to Tulsa for Christmas. There were a lot more, but the late afternoon sun was casting a lot of shadows and I hadn't yet mastered the concept of fill flashes. Sam had a great trip, though, as did we all.

Oddly, we returned to Southern California to encounter worse weather than in the Midwest. SoCal's version of Winter involves a few weeks of soggy, damp weather instead of snow, and this really messes things up since most of the attractions here are outdoors. What's to do on a rainy day off like today? The beach? No. The park? No. Nature hike? Nah. The Zoo, Sea World, or the Wild Animal Park? Nuh-uh. Shop at Babies R Us for a booster seat? Wooo! Sam is down for a nap right now, and I'm hoping she makes it like a six hour one or we're going to have trouble keeping her entertained, because the treadmill won't be delivered until tomorrow.

Filed under: Parenting, Samantha 2 Comments
1Jan/06Off

2005 book stats

Happy New Year. Another year gone by and another bunch of books read. Here's some fun statistics:

Books read (or heard on audiobook): 61, or about 1.2 per week on average
   Paper books: 15
   Audio books: 46

Nonfiction books: 16
Fiction books: 45
   Classics: 9
   Fantasy: 15
   Horror: 6
   Sci-Fi: 6

Best Book: A Short History of Nearly Everything
Worst Book: Galactic Pot Healer

And by contrast, I saw 47 movies/DVDs.

What about you?

Filed under: General 2 Comments