Ah, another month gone by with nothing to report here on El Radar. Probably the most interesting thing this month is that I went on a proper vacation (that is, there was no purpose to this other than to relax in a warm place) for what I think is the first time in my life, to Puerto Rico. It's a pretty good place, though weirdly ensconced in like 1990, at least from my city boy perspective. Like for example we went to a brew pub, the only one on the island as far as I could tell, and the waiter told us this,
Welcome! This is a brewery. So we don't have all the beers. We only have the beers that we make here [gestures to the obvious brewing equipment everywhere]. Let me tell you about the beers. This first beer, light beer. Do you know Medalla [Puerto Rico's pride, Medalla is a corn-syrup based light beer, like any sports beverage, totally devoid of soul, achieving the coveted "1 point" (out of 100!) rating on RateBeer]? Same thing. This beer is a fruit beer [? it's a pale ale or something, says so right on the menu]. Have you ever had Sam Adams? Same thing. [When he says it's the same thing, he makes a horizontal karate chop move with his hand, to indicate "end of story. I totally explained it."] Well, not the same thing, it tastes the same. This beer. DARK BEER. Tastes like coffee. This beer, Heineken. This beer, we don't have. [He's referring to the rotating seasonal slot, not even properly a beer. When we order a sampler, he tells us that they'll replace this one with a mix (!) of two beers.]"
It was like, not only was it hard to find a place that served anything but sports beverage, but even the folks at the brew pub were prepared to be apologetic to the cruise ship patrons that they didn't have sports beverage. (For what it's worth, the beer there was decent, but if you didn't believe me about 1990s, see completely earnest Flash website with Yacht throb soundtrack.) Same went for coffee, too.
The old city was beautiful, though, with lots of semi-wild cats roaming around to enjoy the fish smells and rub their cheeks up against tourists, and the oceanfront fortress was really neat too. From the fortress we could see across the bay to another fortress, and since lying on the beach is not actually really that fun for me, I decided that I'd try to do an adventure run around the bay to the next fortress. Google assured me that there was no route on foot. I was like "nonsense!" and did the old trick of asking for routes between intermediate points to verify that some of the choke points (bridges, etc.) had pedestrian passage. Looked good except for one highway bridge, except that one I could sort of see on the satellite map that it looked like it had a sidewalk. So I went for it. The run got off the rails immediately; that bridge had a sidewalk but I had to go through the brambles to get to it, and it was like peatones prohibito. también bicicletas!!. Then I was running on grass and marsh on the side of this major road and it just kept getting crappier and crappier, like the gravel would turn to piles of discarded mattresses and there were semi trucks parked all along the road, then semi trucks idling with hot semi exhaust blowing onto the mattresses, and then the semi truck drivers are hanging out because I'm in this shipyard and they are like wtf r u doing dood. Google's route wanted me to like climb this fence into the Port Authority of San Juan's Active Shipping Container And Industrial Accidents Zone, which fence btw had razor wire on the top, so I thought maybe that wasn't the right way to go, and backtracked for a while. I found this nice restaurant,
It was only open in July I guess
Speaking of telefonos, I also saw a pay phone with a big sticker on it that said FUNCIONAL, and I tested it and did indeed get a dial tone. But do you think that someone comes around and removes the stickers when the phones stop working??
Still it looked like I might be able to get to the other fortress if I took an alternate route—I had to eyeball it though because Google kept saying "turn around and go to that shipyard!", and I kept getting deeper into territory where I didn't really want to have to go back the way I came. I think after that I was running through a water treatment plant. I got tangled up in some rusty barbed wire, fortunately not cutting myself. But the thing about adventure runs is that you shan't give up! And eventually I made it to the other fortress, and it was nice, and there was a beach but I don't really like being on the beach all that much.
I have been doing a lot of work on projects, despite having nothing to show off yet. Since the SIGBOVIK deadline is coming up, expect some hacks soon!
Happy 2015, everyone, and time to phone in another last-minute blog post. In two months will be the 15th blogiversary of Tom 7 Radar and I'm not giving up!
In the last post I shared Entire Screen of One Game, a quick weird-concept-game that I made for Ludum Dare (theme: Entire Game on One Screen). This game was by far my most popular ever, actually winning first place for "Innovation" and second for "Theme" (of 2,637 entries!). Aside from all the Twitter buzz, it also ended up in a fairly legit "Game of the Year" list as well as some mainstream media, including, incredibly, the "Must List" in the print Entertainment Weekly. This was a weird one for me, since usually I pour every ounce of energy into the game all weekend, but I did learn something about ways that things like this can take off.
I also started making furniture. This may be a problem. Here is my first piece:
It took a long time but I learned a lot. I worry that I may end up spending the rest of my life hand making everything in my house.
And speaking of arduous projects, current work includes trying to make the FCEUX emulator hack that I built for Learnfun & Playfun into a proper multithreaded library. This has been a crazy amount of work so far&emdash;the software is just so complicated and messy&emdash;but it's getting close. I have some specific stuff in mind, but also this (plus my new secondhand understanding of NES hardware and emulation) will open the door to other crazy NES projects. Watch this space (really, space inserted above this space in the future).
The Entire Screen of One Game
(08 Dec 2014 at 16:12)
This weekend was the 31th Ludum Dare, the 48h video game programming competition (which I have participated in many times). The theme was "Entire Game on One Screen". But this time I had several prior obligations such as flying to Zurich, where I now write you from. But, undaunted, and perhaps even freed by the inability to apply the normal polish, I put together this quick weird game, "Entire Screen of One Game." It can't be won, at least formally, and exists only to destroy your mind, but people seem to be getting it. Use the arrow keys and space.
I know it's a little late to be posting about Halloween, but I had a hard drive crash and some other emergencies that delayed this post. Now, in typical fashion, a last-minute monthly Tom 7 Radar episode.
This summer I bought a house, and I've been having a lot of fun with household stuff I would never have cared about while living in my apartment. I've been working on some home improvement projects, starting deep in the basement where the things I'm replacing are most gross (but also any mistakes would be least regrettable), like I made this replacement drain cover:
Can you tell which one is old / new?
It's fun. I now see it's possible to spend one's entire life making the one boiler room in the basement totally perfect, too.
But if it's not a permanent modification, I'm willing to do something aggressive in the visible nice portions. Here was my house's Halloween costume this year:
Don't worry, it has lockjaw ...
I also installed some additional items to attract children as seen in this short video. Not every costume is scary, though. My own getup was this 3D printed Dr. Potato Head costume:
Pittsburgh Great Race 2014: Balloon Fight
(05 Oct 2014 at 11:03)
Last weekend was my 35th (!) birthday. Does it make you feel weird that there's been more than 14 years of Tom 7 Radar and that I used to be young? Of course not, since you know that people get older and haven't actually been reading my dumb blog for that long. Makes me feel weird though. Weird and kinda old. Anyway, one thing that happened to my adult self is I bought a house last month, and I promise a nice internet writeup of that experience and some photos soon, but I have a limited mental energy budget for house things which is consistently exhausted. But I had some old friends stay on my birthday weekend and we had a fun party and also ran the Great Race, which five years ago I ran on my birthday carrying a cake. Unknown to me until a humorous low-coffee series of escalating realizations, my friends ran the race in costume; that costume was me in 2009:
Michelle, Bronwen, Tom, Cortney
I'm the least dressed like myself on account of not wearing the huge plastic frames, and I wasn't carrying a cupcake either! I can confirm that all three cupcakes made it safely and more-or-less cleanly to the end, because I dutifully ate them there.
Does it look like I'm doing a bad job of hiding something in that picture? It's true. I still have a little tendinitis from the last bad idea so I decided to not do something foot-hurty. Going with the birthday theme, I instead spent the whole race inflating balloons and tying them to myself. I bought this super expensive race photo to illustrate:
This was my easiest costume ever, not on purpose. I thought it would be an interesting challenge to occupy my breath with the balloon blowing, but the balloons only take two seconds to inflate, and I spent the entire rest of the time just trying to tie them to myself. I had picked up some fishing line (I know, I know) right before the race and cut it into 3 foot segments and tied a bunch of them to a piece of string that was my belt, very fancily. Sitting still with dry hands, tying fishing line is not too bad. But on the move, especially trying to keep a reasonable pace, with sweat-fingers, it took like a minute of frustrating concentration per balloon. Plus the fishing lines would get all tangled with each other and pull off my belt and send balloons flying, off to the races. Terrible choice. So really it was an exercise in multitasking and not very athletic. I managed to inflate 44 balloons, which was more than the par of 35 (obvious rule: you must inflate the number of balloons commensurate with your age), and tie each one onto my belt at least momentarily with two half-hitches (actually I carried three across the finish-line in hand). More than half of them were subsequently lost. I finished in 58m35s, not fast for me, but I was in the throng the whole time and mostly looking down at my hands and couldn't open the throttle much. I don't really care about the time; the big disappointment was not being covered in balloons so you could barely see my body and being challengingly out of breath. I feel that I may need to come back to this one.