Tuesday, December 20, 2005


I have decided that the opposite of happiness is not sadness, but frustration, because you can be happy and sad at the same time, but not happy and frustrated.

Friday, December 02, 2005


I swear to God this is an honest screenshot of part of my "recommended" list at Amazon. Look at item 56, and, more importantly, *why* it was recommended.


Thursday, December 01, 2005

Chunky bacon

I found a book in the Half Price Bookstore a couple weeks ago on Ruby on Rails. Wow. Having worked on a web project a while back, it's really nice to see someone else having built a useful framework like this. I'm sure there are plenty of others out there, but this is the first one I've seen that seems so bloody easy to use. (Yeah, yeah, accuse me of drinking the Cool-Aid if you like.) We were working on a framework in PHP, and actually had some decent functionality built, but we didn't grok templating yet, and the project went South. But this stuff looks like we were going in the right direction, and I like it.

As a result, I've been Googling for useful articles on Ruby and Rails and reading them. (Is this curiosity? I dunno, as I have a specific use in mind for it.) I want to use this for a little project on the side sometime soon. The hard part is finding the time. Hah.


As always, no rest for the wicked.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

I'm not curious

It dawned on me yesterday that I've lost my curiousity. I no longer really care why things work, nor how, except just enough to get them to do what I want. In the code I write, I just get it to work. I don't especially care if it's elegant, just that it does what it's supposed to. Some of the time I don't even care enough about how something works to bother finding out for myself to do it, I'll just gladly pay someone else to take care of it for me.

An implication of this is that I don't think I can think of myself as a scientist. I'm just not interested any more in how or why things do what they do.

It's kind of sad, I suppose, and I suppose maybe I'll try to get that back at some point, but maybe now I can focus on getting what I want in life instead of bumbling about asking irrelevant questions.

Monday, November 07, 2005

I'm going about this all wrong

I am tired of not having money. I just posted on my other site an essay on finding the easiest way to do something, and I'm not doing that with regards to making money. I'm in the wrong job, it's obvious. I think having a passive revenue stream is very key, multiple streams in fact. Selling your time only once is insane.

I also need to start exercising again. I got sick, and then it got cold outside, and now I need to exercise indoors and I'm not doing it. There's a decent exercise facility here, so I need to just bring a change of clothes, a towel, and some shampoo to clean up after exercising.

I'm also thinking that having a job, as in working for someone else, is also insane. It's nuts for the same reason that service based contracting is nuts - you can only sell your time once with it. It's much better to do one thing and have a lot of people incrementally pay you for it.

Buying stocks, bonds, mutual funds, annuities - those are all fine and dandy passive revenue streams, but they also have a really pitiful rate of return when you really think about it. Very few businesses have as their plan, "We'll take our investor's money and put in the bank, and as the interest comes in, we'll pay out dividends." That's just stupid. Investors require a much higher ROI than that, as they can just put money in the bank themselves.

Of course, a higher ROI means greater risk, but that's the business of playing the law of large numbers. If the ROI wasn't high enough, people simply wouldn't start new businesses, or anything like that.

So I need a much, much higer ROI on my time.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


It seems like my entire life people have not been listening to me. Sure, they hear the sounds that come out of my mouth, but they completely disregard them. It happened to me when I was a kid, it happened growing up, it happens now.

I tell people my understanding of how something works, or how to do something, or what I want, and they ignore what I have to say. They have to hear it from somebody else before they believe it, if it's an explanation. If it's a statement of what I want, I don't get it. What part is unclear? I don't mumble, I don't leave out words, I say exactly what I mean.

Christ, there's a damn good reason some people prefer writing code to talking to people. At least in writing code, you are guaranteed to get exactly what you asked for, and being precise in your statements is what works.

Maybe bluntness isn't what works with people. Maybe people don't want direct answers. Maybe they want their prose wrapped in poetry. Maybe I'm not conveying my message in the right manner. Who knows? It just seems to me that wrapping it in flowery words increases the chance of misinterpretation.

I'm more than willing to help people. If they want my advice, they should take it when it's offered. If not, why ask for it? If I'm not going to get what I want, why bother asking?

I like buying what I want. I hand over money, I get what I want. Period.

This isn't just about me getting what I want, though that's a big part of it. Many times I have tried to help people and gotten blown off. Explanations of why a car got so hot when I was seven, or for a friend to get a business line of credit rather than a loan a few years ago, or ideas for a product very recently. There are other examples, but right there are a few. I want to help.

But don't bother acting like you give a damn if it actually doesn't matter what I say.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Finding my way out of a paper bag

It's just obvious what I have to do. I have to write a simple game, make it crazy addictive, punch the hell out of marketing for it, and get paid. And repeat the process. Over and over and over again.

It's making me nuts not doing it.

Bigger games can come later. I want to get paid right now.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


So I've had to stop jogging. I've pulled ligaments in my knees, I am pretty darn certain of it. The impact of hitting the ground is not a problem, but the negative impact of rapidly lifting my legs just hurts too much to run. Still doing situps and pushups, but had to switch to walking.

Walking won't be as good for me cardio-wise as jogging, but until my knees heal, I can't do it.

I hate being out of shape. This is why I am getting back into shape.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Life lately

It's been a while since I said anything about what's going on, so here ya go.

Ben is talking a lot more lately. This is a huge relief. It's like something clicked with him and he finally sees the value of communicating with us. His pronunciation isn't always great, but he's got the idea of what words are for. Finally.

Zoe can sit up on her own, and crawl short distances, and just yesterday pulled herself to standing. She is a really happy baby - everything is funny, and she smiles all the time.

I've started exercising in the mornings. Situps, pushups, and jogging. Wow, I am out of shape. What would have been a mere warmup half my life ago beats the hell out of me now. The pain I am in tells me I really need to do this.

Good things are also happening in the home front, but I'm not ready to put forth details. No, not another baby. I do expect not everyone will understand or approve. That's ok with me.

Work is work. I'd be lying if I said it was perfect, but I won't be talking about anything here that bothers me with it.

I'm trying to find a product arena that I can get into solo and make decent money at. I still want to make games. I know it's hard work, but so is everything else. I figure I have some domain knowledge there, so it'll be easier to do than many other fields.

Oh, and my cat just took a dump.

Not really. I just wanted to throw that in to see if anyone was paying attention.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Holy crap

What the hell is going on in this country? Have we totally lost our way? Read this, and then tell me if you think this is a safe place to live.

I personally think it's insane. It's a short step from this to SS Homeland Security enforcers.

This is really, really bad.

Monday, August 22, 2005


I kinda went to GenCon this year. I live in Indy, and lately it's been here, so it makes it easy to go, in theory. The problem is that I have some deadlines at work this week, and so couldn't really get away with taking a chunk of time off work to go spend money and play games. So I just took (slightly more than) half a day off, Thursday morning. I wanted to get there early enough so that I could get some stuff before it ran out, and I did, but some other stuff I wanted had some problems with shipping and hadn't yet made it to the Con.

Very annoying.

Anyway, I really enjoyed it. It was a breath of fresh air. Not just the unhealthy high of spending scads of money, but a confirmation that these are my people, and this is what I'm supposed to be doing. I am supposed to be making games, and playing them. It reminded me of how cool it was to have my own booth there four years ago, and how much I want to do it again. Nevermind that it was a financial failure - I know what I did wrong, and how to avoid those mistakes. I'm sure there are other mistakes I'll make, but I'll be doing well if I don't repeat my old ones.

So I need to get back into it. I need to create a piece of software and get that selling. I need to restart writing so I can sell some pdf's. I need to figure out what it takes to get board games and card games not only into production but into stores. I need to get marketing figured out - that perhaps most of all. Creating books, that I know how to do. But getting them into stores, that'll be new. There's a lot to do, and a lot to learn, but I am going nuts not doing it.

Monday, August 15, 2005

This sucks

I am always tired. I know I don't get enough sleep, but this is ridiculous. I can nap off and on nearly all day, and I'm still tired. I wake up tired, and my limbs are sore when I get up.

I'm starting to wonder if I've broken something in my energy storage/replenishmnet system. If my batteries have capped out at a new low or something.

I know I'm not exercising enough - i.e. at all. Maybe that's part of the problem. Maybe some exercise would help me be able to store more energy. I don't know.

I'm just tired.

All. The. Time.

Friday, August 12, 2005

50 First Dates

My wife checked this out from the library yesterday and we watched it. Adam Sandler is in a wide range of films, from good to bad, and I liked this one. One thing I liked a lot about this was that it didn't go for the obvious unlikely thing and still managed to make things work out alright in the end. It was a nice surprise. It took a couple unexpected detours en route, too. Nice to see those bits not given away in the previews I saw, which is pretty rare lately.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Aaron's Mind

is now open.

Aaron's Mind

There will be some changes and tweaks, but feel free to play around on the site. Let me know what you think.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Almost Ready

This new project of mine is almost ready to go live. I have been keeping up on an article a day for about two and a half weeks now, which is just about enough to keep it interesting, and several pieces are in place...but...forums and FAQ's seem to be broken. Also, I want to tweak how the url's come out to make them more friendly. And I need links in my articles.

Ok, there's a chunk left to do. Feh. I told some people it would probably go online yesterday. Sorry, guys. Sometime this week, soon. I hope.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

It's all about the content

So I'm starting yet another project on the web. I'm slowly but surely building a content based site. It's not a blog - I write here when I feel like it, when events call for it. That's what a blog is to me. This is a more disciplined approach. It's not set up in chronological order, it's arranged by topic. It's not about recent events, though sometimes events will inspire a new essay. I plan on writing a new page a day, every day. I got the site running over the last few days, and got the first essay written last night. One thing that I didn't do that I need to make myself do is some keyword analysis on the essays before publishing, and hyperlink not only to external sites that are relevant but also within the site itself.

I will not bring the site online for at least a week or two. If I put it up now, you'd go there, take one look, and never go back. I want there to be enough substance there for it to be somewhat sticky and make you want to check in to see what I've written every single day. That's why I'm not posting a link to it just yet. When it's ready, you'll get a link to it.

Now, I'm not abandoning Grinning Gecko, nor giving up on lore. This is something I want to build a habit of so I can almost autopilot my fingers to write the essay, fire off keyword analysis, edit, Google for relevant sites, and link to them. You'll get enough of my attention in the essays to get insight into my mind, but believe me, it's not the same as writing code. Code is a different part of my mind that is really really energy consuming. I've been able to write essays easily for years, much as I can ad lib on almost any topic that I've heard of. This is something that should be easy for me. It's just a matter of sitting down and doing it.

So what else will the site have? Well, a forum, for starters. I have SimpleBoard working now for this site - I need to get it running for Grinning Gecko, too. I got Google ads to work. They're unobtrusive, sitting in the right hand margin. Adding new sections and categories within the sections is pretty easy, too. As I come up with new things to write about, I'll add new sections/categories, and you'll be able to find what I write with relative ease, especially once I start crosslinking. I still love Mambo. That reminds me...I need to figure out how to easily make links within the site from one article to another - a decent cms should not need the absolute url, you should be able to specify the article somehow. Hmmm...

I'm going to try to avoid ranting and raving on the new site, but what I say will come from my point of view, and few if any apologies will be made for that. I'll try not to say anything that will get me sued.

Anyway, I'll post here with a link once it is online. If you stumble across it before then, you'll see that it's down for maintenance, which I figured was better than a horribly incomplete site.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Rumbling Musings

So I'm thinking about creating a website that is a collection of essays covering my point of view on the world. Not another blog, since a blog really should be time sequential as far as I can tell. This would be more of opinion pieces that aren't really specific to events in my life. Some people have told me they like my writing style, and I have to wonder how much traffic a big bunch of pages covering how I see the world would generate. I don't think many people read this one much, but maybe longer pieces that were more static would gradually build a set of readers.

Oh, no! Another fanboy wannabe site creating a cult of personality to feed my already oversized ego! Hey, if you feel that way about it, tell me. I can take criticism. If, on the other hand, you think it would be cool, also let me know.

Basically, let me know what you think of this idea. If you care enough to have an actual opinion one way or the other, that is.

Thursday, June 09, 2005


I buried Oscar yesterday. Oscar was my iguana that I had for nearly 14 years, the longest I've had any pet in my life.

I guess that's about all I have to say about that.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Juggling Fire

I've played Dungeons and Dragons off and on since 1979. This should come as no surprise to you if you've read my blog before - I'm a big geek. I've found that overall I wind up being the Dungeon Master a heck of a lot more than a player. There are a variety of reasons for this, one of which is that not many people want to DM, another being that a lot really aren't very good at it, and the last is that I really enjoy doing it. I like how focusing my attention on multiple events at once really keeps me on my toes.

In the last couple weeks we've been working on some web development for a new client. It's fun stuff, and a lot of it is stuff that we're learning as we go. Well...I started out as Lead Developer on this, and suddenly got made Project Manager on it. Two hats. That's ok. I'm bucking to move into management anyway, and this a good chance for me to prove I'm capable of it. Last week I worked very closely with the two primary other people to get the first milestone delivered to the client on time. The next step required the skills of multiple people not normally involved with the project...so I annexed them yesterday and today. Yesterday at one point I had everyone in the office who wasn't management, sales, or support staff all doing my bidding at once...and I knew what they were all doing at the same time. Perhaps it was a bit of micromanagement, which I want to avoid (I want to just hand tasks to people and trust they they will get done), but this is a pretty time sensitive thing - it's due Monday. We were doing several things that nobody in the office except the owner had done before, so I was trying to get it all done. There was a false start or two thanks to a misunderstanding on my part, but everything got rectified and we are very nearly good to go. I'll be in tomorrow to resolve issues with Tomcat - I hate Tomcat, thanks to last weekend - but I'm confident they will be pleased when they see it in place.

The last couple days in the office have been a lot of fun, and I figured out why. It's the same reason I like being a DM. It's juggling fire.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Long Term

In replying to a comment a moment ago, I had a bit of an epiphany on the fundamental difference between short term and long term thinking. If it's less than one human lifetime, it's short term. People who are fundamentally selfish cannot think outside the scope of their own lifespan, and thus are incapable of true long term planning.

Having humanity's best interests at heart means thinking beyond your own lifetime. That's where the long term begins.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005


Now, there are some caveats to the previous post, of course, some assumptions that are being made - that getting off the planet is best for humanity, that very highly aware people would agree on goals, even that what's best for humanity is what's best in general. I have absolutely no doubt on the first assumption - for us to survive we simply must get off the planet. I have some slight doubt on the second one - Given the same information, they should come to the same conclusions, and a very aware person would attempt very strongly to avoid deception, but no two people have the same set of experiences, so maybe different goals might emerge - but I believe that they would agree on some of the more major things. The last thing is the strangest one to consider - what if what's truly best for the universe as a whole, long term, is not the survival of the human race? I hope that's not the case, but I don't know for certain.


So I have been reading Steve Pavlina's blog lately, and thinking about one particular entry on levels of consciousness. I was also thinking about humanity's long term survival prospects, and how it would be nice to see us establish a permanent colony on another planet, as I think that is absolutely necessary for us to survive. I strongly doubt I'll live long enough to see that happen, though. The conditions needed for that just take too long.

So I thought about it some more and decided I would probably be ok with knowing that as a direct result of my actions, a colony would be established at some point in the future, even after my death. It's like remote control - you know it works, even though you don't see it with the naked eye. Then I realized I didn't know how to do that, but - here's the kicker- that someone smarter than I am probably could. (This is where we tie things back to the first sentence of the entry.) They would not only have the ability, they'd have enough confidence in their ability and the impact it would have on others to make it stick. (I may actually have the ability, but I don't *know* that I do, nor do I know what actions I'd have to take to make it work.)

It occurred to me that someone at the highest level of consciousness would not only want to ensure humanity's long term survival, but probably could. They would want what was good for humanity, even if they didn't know exactly what that was, and they would act to make sure that it happened at some point in time in the future. Someone who lived several hundred years ago may not have even thought of the possibility of colonizing another planet, but they'd want humanity to survive.

So here's the punchline - Because someone at the highest level of consciousness would want what was best for humanity, and they would be able to ensure that it would happen, they already have. People smarter than I am (or at least more aware) have already done things that ensure our survival.

That's a really comforting thought.

It was an interesting experience to realize that even though I couldn't figure out what specific actions someone beyond my capabilities would take, I could deduce the generalities well enough to determine the outcome, hence the title for this post.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Rattlesnake Pasta

I was hungry for lunch, but wasn't sure of what to have. I went to Uno's, since I know I like most of their stuff, and just had the waiter pick for me. I briefly spelled out a few things I didn't like, but let him do the rest. He brought back something called "Rattlesnake Pasta" which is penne pasta with chicken in a cream sauce, a little bit of cheese, and a bunch of jalapenos. Very interesting, and something I would have overlooked had I picked for myself.

The easiest way to try something new is to have someone else pick it for you.

I've been doing a little thought on Grinning Gecko, and I'm starting to think that maybe in the long run - like once it starts making money - it should be a nonprofit organization. Now, nonprofit organizations certainly can pay people a decent salary. It's just that I think that even though I want to make games, the real purpose is to shape people's behaviour. It's an educational venture, really. The goal is to improve society by changing people's behaviour on a long term basis, and the means is games. This adds to some power and freedom of Grinning Gecko - it won't have to listen to people who are purely driven by profit.

Understand that I don't object to profits or making money, but that I think that it can frequently blind people to positive goals. Money itself is a neutral entity, a tool that lets you get what you really want. It's a mistake to want it for its own sake.

Monday, April 04, 2005


As MS ends support for VB6 a lot of people are left wondering what to do with their millions of lines of code. One solution that some have come to is .Net, but there are some major changes to the language that a lot of people don't like.

Another solution is to switch to REALbasic. It has a syntax very similar to VB6, and the standard edition is free for VB6 users until April 15. Go here to check it out, and if you get it from here you enter me into a contest. So...if you like me, get it!


Grinning Gecko

Ok, so I really should post some links to what the hell I'm trying to accomplish. First is Grinning Gecko itself. That's the home site of where I'll be releasing games of many types. The first releases will probably be pdf's at RPGNow, and here's the RPGNow Grinning Gecko store. Everyone needs merchandise, and Grinning Gecko is no exception, so there's a CafePress store, too. Once the pdf's start to do ok, I'll put a little effort into getting them done Print on Demand at two shops, both through Lulu, but slightly different - RPGNow has one and so does Grinning Gecko. Lastly (for now) are the Open Source projects I plan on: First there's lore-gcc, a front end to gcc for Lore. (Lore is my name for a programming language I want to write - I've written about it earlier.) Then there's lore, which is a Lore compiler written in Lore. Third is lore-lib, which will be the standard Lore library - but to clarify, it will be a collection of components, each partitioned out as cleanly as I can manage. The first bits to show up there will be whatever is necessary to make the compiler bootstrap. Fourth is lore-misc, which is things like bindings to various IDEs and any tools that emerge - actual apps as opposed to libraries. Lastly is legends, a game all this ties together - the goal is to make something similar to Neverwinter Nights.

So anyway, that's an outline of the plan, with all the links in one place so you can poke around and see how little I've done and watch my progress if you want. I need put all those links onto Grinning Gecko, don't I?

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Radical Conservatives

I've come to the conclusion that there are two uses of the term "conservative" with very different meanings. One is in the "liberal/conservative" spectrum, where "liberal" is "pro-liberty" and "conservative" is "pro-security". The other is in the "radical/conservative" spectrum, where "radical" is "pro rapid, major change" and "conservative" is "pro status quo".

Historically, most people amd groups who were "conservative" in the first sense were also "conservative" in the second sense, so it made some sense to equate "liberal" with "radical" - since in the 60's, 70's and 80's the people who wanted to enact sweeping changes were the ones pro-liberty.

We've seen a change, however, recently. The people who are attempting to enact the rapid major changes are the ones in favor of security over liberty, and are willing to sacrifice many rights to do it. This mind set is difficult for many to encapsulate, as it might be termed "radical conservative" which sounds like a contradiction in terms unless you realize the two distinct ways in which "conservative" is used.

It is very difficult to concretely identify a problem when the language does not lend itself easily to describing it. This is one of the advantages that these people have. Since they are difficult to classify, it is hard to identify them as a threat. Their rhetoric defies description, literally. As a result, they have rapidly gained power.

Saturday, March 19, 2005


So I went ahead and bit the bullet. I just applied for the Empower program with Microsoft. One thing that they wanted to know was a planned name and description of a product, so I decided to call it "Geckomania" and describe it as a set of puzzle games designed to promote creativity and cooperation. Planned release date of 3/1/2006.

Let's see how it goes.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Zoe Elizabeth Stanton

was born 5:16 PM Indiana time, March 2nd, weighing 6 lbs 9 oz., and measuring 20 inches long. A quick labor and pretty easy delivery overall. We're all home now, healthy and happy. Ben (her big brother) seems to like her well enough for now, but he hasn't had major changes to his life just yet, so we'll see how that goes over time. She's beautiful (yes, I'm biased, but I'm a dad and I damn well better be biased), sleeps peacefully a lot, and eats pretty well.

Thanks, everyone! By the way, I'll be posting pics as soon as we have some handy digital to post. Yeah, I should get with the 21st century and buy a decent digital camera someday.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Back to small diapers

My wife, Chris, is in labor right now. We won't be leaving for the hospital for a few hours, but then we'll be there for a couple days.

We both seem really relaxed about this whole thing this time, as opposed to with Ben. We're getting things done between contractions, where last time we just waited for the next one.

Wish us luck!


Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Mambo Rocks

Ok, so I'm in the process of setting up the Grinning Gecko website, and I decided to try Mambo. Wow, it's really cool. There's a lot that can be done with it with little to no effort. Now, I'm a big fan of Joel on Software, and I like what he has to say on a lot of things, but I'm sorry, Joel. I don't think I'll be buying CityDesk any time soon.

By the way, if you go to the Grinning Gecko site just now, it's going to look an awful lot like a default Mambo site with very little tweaking. Hell, it even says Mambo on it all over the place. I really need to get that figured out sometime soon.

But I also need to write an adventure or six to sell on RPGNow. This whole thing is a spare time kind of project, and I don't want to throw any more money at it than I need to.

But even before that I need to log off, take out the trash, and go to bed. I've stayed up way too late too many times this week already, and I don't need to be doing it tonight.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Steal Your Own Identity

So I was just kicking around JoS and saw a thread on identity theft and someone (Simon Lucy) commented on how ironic it is that people who steal identities usually have more fun with them than their original owners did. I just had the weird thought of "Man, that could be fun!" and then I wondered on why that is and how it works.

Identity theft is about being somebody else without consequences, but it's also about being who you'd like to be. The illegal kind of identity theft is irresponsible. It damages the original owner of the identity.

What I'm talking about here is to dare to be who you want to be. Take a chance. I'm not saying throw away your credit rating on stupid crap. I'm saying to ask yourself if you were a total stranger stealing your identity, what would you do with it to create a life you'd want to live?

Then ask yourself why you aren't doing that.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005


Last week our older Honda died, so Saturday we bought a new one. It's nice. Yeah, there's the extra cost for the "new car smell", and there are benefits to leasing rather than buying, but you know what? I'm real big on owning my stuff. That car will keep on working for 7-10 years after we're done paying for it, and maintenance on Hondas tends to be pretty low. They go for 200,000 miles and then they die The Death.

In other news, we finally got around to getting broadband. I have no clue why we took so long to do it, but it's hooked up, and the cool part is I got it to work with my wireless router with almost no problems at all. 802.11g is handy to have when you've been crawling along over dialup for years. Again, don't ask why we took so long to do this - I don't have a good answer.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005


Just so you know, I'm well aware of the irony that I, in fact, did own a company, and that the only products it ever released were gaming material. I made many mistakes with that company that I won't be repeating, and it was best to dissolve it.

One of the mistakes made was that the company was made with no specific goals in mind - games, no wait pharmaceutical software, no wait software development tools, no wait games - and then when I settled on games I focused on just hardcopy role-playing games. (Even then I still bounced from games to other stuff and back.) Both the lack of focus and the overfocus were mistakes. My desire is games - only games, but many kinds of games. Board games, card games, role playing games, computer games. (I'll still tinker with writing that language, Lore, but it's a tool to achieve the end of computer games, not an end to itself. That's why I'm open sourcing it.)

There were many other mistakes I made in my company, but I won't go into them here, or at least not now.

Monday, January 31, 2005

I want to create games

I had a good weekend. Today is my birthday (read the previous post) and over the weekend we met with a friend. She gave me two books - The Art of the Start and A Theory of Fun for Game Design. The first one was really good - one to go back to over and over - but the second one made me all verklempt at the end.

I have been a teacher at various times in my life, and it's usually a pretty positive experience, mostly with the kids that "get it". That happens more often with the brighter kids than average (or slow) ones, but sometimes you see that spark in an otherwise dull face, and that's really cool. That's the best part of doing it. Grading papers, on the other hand, sucks.

I really like being a dad. I'm looking forward to the next one quite a bit. I like seeing Ben grow, and it's so neat seeing him learn. I think that there are plenty of cool things I can teach him.

I really like Steve Pavlina's website and I think that he has great potential to help a lot of people with his new speaking career. That said, I do disagree with his decision to move away from his game company. I mean, he's free to do as he wants, obviously, and I wish him the best. But it's not what I would do in his shoes. I'd change what kind of games I make and sell, if I were in his shoes - if I already had a game company established.

I think that games are great way to teach people things. I also think that there are far too many games that focus on skills that are outdated in modern society. Spending time and energy on those skills will, in the long run, hold us back. We don't need violence. If you want to learn how to fight, go join the armed forces. Otherwise, it's a skill you learn for the sense of accomplishment and to stay in shape, and I don't have any problem with that. The key is to just not be in a situation where you need to fight.

I digress. My point is that in modern society knowledge of exponential growth is much more important than how to aim a gun, as one concrete example. A game is a learning experience in a low stress environment with little true penalty for failure. School does carry substantial penalties for failure, so either people don't learn, or only learn enough to pass the next test and forget it. A fun game that people play over and over will teach something deeply enough to ingrain it deeply into the brain. There are tests on the difference between men and women on spatial perception. Apparently men tend to do better on a pen and paper test than women. (Tend to, not always.) However, if the test is an interactive game that teaches as you go, the skew mostly goes away. The most interesting part is that if the pen and paper test is done after the interactive one, the skew stays gone. There is a permenent rewiring that takes place that shows that true learning took place. (I'll go look up the study and provide links if need be.)

I am in favor of win/win solutions. Cooperation will get our species a lot farther than competition will in the long run. Money spent on guns is money not spent on education or beautiful architecture or curing AIDS or colonizing other planets.

I want to write games that deeply ingrain constructive values in people. I think that I can help more people to live better in modern society this way than I can by teaching 20-100 kids at a time, or by doing public speaking, or most other things. Games are very subtle. Make them fun and people don't even realize what they are learning. This subtle manipulation of people's minds and value systems represents a pretty big deviation from my normal doctrine of non-interference in other people's lives, but I think it's perhaps my best shot at doing some good for large numbers of people.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Six-squared years

So a week from today I turn 36. It's not a bad thing, but sometimes I look back and wonder where my time has gone. I would like to have accomplished more by now, and certainly would like a larger paycheck. Overall life is good - great family life, good place to work, bills are paid - but I'm not entirely satisfied. Guess it's time to get working on something to sell that people will want to buy. Got any ideas? Let me know. Not a service, please - you can only sell your time once.

I sure don't feel 36. I should do about 10,000 sit-ups, though. Maybe run a marathon or two.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

A snippet from the cover of The Void.

A few years ago I published The Void

I recently dissolved Stanton Industries, Inc. I think it's safe to say it's a failure.

Friday, January 14, 2005


I was looking for languages the people had written CodeDOM Providers for, and I stumbled across Boo. Go check it out. They are doing some really cool stuff, and Lore may wind up looking similar it in the long run, as they have implemented several features that I want to include. They even have a SharpDevelop add-in for it, which is on my to-do list.

There are things I want Lore to do that Boo does not, like compile to native code, and also to the JVM. The type system of the JVM is going to slow down that last bit, though.

Thursday, January 13, 2005


It's been raining a lot here over the last two weeks, to the point where there's flooding to levels not seen in 90 years. I think it's because of the tsunami. Before you blow me off as being totally insane, let me explain a bit. The tsunami dumped a massive amount of water onto a lot of land, and while a lot of it drained back into the ocean, a lot just sat on the ground and is evaporating. That water vapor has to go somewhere, and I think that even if it rained out slightly east of where the tsunami hit, that still ramps up the water cycle. Water flows downhill, and I think that the water cycle would reach saturation and it would keep rolling across the globe until it stabilizes out. I don't know how long that would take, but I think it might explain the astonishingly crappy weather we've been having lately.

Or I could be totally wrong and the two are completely unrelated. I could still be insane anyway, but not because of this.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Dude, that's just...harsh.

So I dropped my son off at day care this morning and stopped off at the all-too-convenient Starbucks to get a latte before getting on the highway to go to work. On the way in I spotted something in the rain-soaked parking lot but didn't take the time to pick it up. I did on the way out, however, and found that it was the senior photo of a moderately pretty girl. That alone doesn't make this event blog-worthy, but what I read on the back does:

"Dave -
Well, buddy. We were always on again/off again friends. Being friends in 8th grade, then not talking again until junior year. I hope that after this year that this will not be the case. You have always been a great friend. Keep in touch. (heart) - Mari"

(I put (heart) there because I don't have a heart-shaped picture icon handy to insert there.)

Dave, you are either a careless klutz or a heartless bastard. Either way, shame on you.

(Edit: It's been pointed out that maybe she dropped it before giving it to him. I had considered that, and left that out of the original version of the post. So, if that's the case, she's a careless klutz. At least in that case she'll pretty clearly know that he never got it. In the scenario I paint above, unless he is a klutz, knows it, and admits it to her, she thinks that a good friend is blowing her off. Pretty crappy, huh? That or he is pretty heartless and tells her, which is still pretty crappy.)

Monday, January 03, 2005

Get out of Your Way

For much of my life I seem to have had some sort of mental constipation that stops me from functioning at my peak capacity. I have never figured out how to cure myself of it. I can overcome it for short periods of time, the longest of which got me back into school through a B.A. and a Ph.D., but it has long since faded. I had a coherent driving goal at that point in my life, but that's gone, and I'd like one back.

The title of this post is a statement I came up with in my last year of grad school as advice to a first year student in our research group. He was (and I assume still is) pretty smart, but was having some difficulty understanding some stuff. I knew he could get it, but his biggest problem was that he was convinced that it was supposed to be difficult. As a result, he was making the material much harder than it really was.

Essentially that's what I need to do - to get out of my own way. I'm pretty sure that I'm what's holding me back. When I was teaching highschool students a couple years ago, one of the things I told them was that "Most human failure is not a failure of ability, but of the will."

Funny how the person who gives advice is frequently the one who needs it most.