Bytes Revisited

I’m writing this post from my old computer desk in my old room at my parents’ house in West Virginia, in my old desk chair. Except that now, I’m using an iPad touchscreen to type over wi-fi while I work on my Mom’s new computer that has a 20-inch flat screen HD monitor that takes up half the space that my old CRT screen did. Her computer is running Windows 7, Microsoft’s most visually advanced operating system ever, at least until Windows 8 comes out soon. Between all of this technology and the two iPhones that Gina and I have, we’re never more than a few seconds away from the Internet and the collective knowledge of the entire world.

And yet, 18 years later, I’m still sitting here trying to figure out how to get rid of an annoying Windows Update error message and why some programs inexplicably run slower than others. I wonder if we’ll have blue screens of death when we’re all using quantum computers installed in every object we own?

Update: At least these days, this kind of problem only takes a fraction of the time to fix. You can no longer ruin our lives with Microsoft Works 9, you foul machine!

A New Way To Write

I’m trying to decide if it’s worth it to be blogging by iPod Touch, as I’m doing right now with this post. On the one hand I feel one step closer to real 21st century gadgetry here, and maybe one of these days I’ll try out one of those “smart-phones” that the cool kids are all talking about on the playground.

On the other hand, I feel like I’m overpowering the touchscreen Lilliputian keyboard with the speed of my two suddenly oversized thumbs. Cower in fear, tiny letters, and despair!

There may be potential in this WordPress app. Maybe you’ll be hearing more from me as I post missives from my morning commute. Maybe you’ll get to see some creative misspellings, and I’ll have to put one of those “please excuse any typing errors” tags on every post. Join me on this journey!

Puckleball Revealed!

There’s been an overwhelming demand for me to shed some light on the mysterious game that is puckleball. As I mentioned in the Flickr gallery for Debra’s wedding, Puckleball is a game that Gerritt, Stephen, and I developed during the wedding weekend, while we were staying up late with nothing better to do than to create some sort of mystical new game. The basement rec room contained one of those 4-in-1 game tables on which you can play pool, air hockey, ping-pong, and baccarat or something, but none of the pieces were in place to play a full version of any of the games. Thus, boredom breeds innovation, and puckleball was born. Gerritt and Stephen laid out the original field of play before I arrived that weekend, and then Gerritt and I refined some more of the rules, leading to many tournaments over the next two days.
THE SET-UP
First, transform the table into an air hockey arena. You need four or five of those spongy water ball things that soak up water so you can throw them at your friend’s face in the pool. Make sure they’re dry, and space them evenly among the center line of the table. These are the Squeezles. Find eight to ten ping-pong balls and split them evenly between the two players. Finally, each player gets two air hockey paddles, or “puckles.”
THE BASIC GAME
Each player agrees upon a number of rounds to play. (I think we played a best-of-seven series.) At the beginning of each round, each player may strategically place their two puckles into the field of play, where they cannot be moved until the start of the next round. The player may not place the puckle directly in front of the goal area. The two players then take turns rolling (not throwing) their ball across the table, through the Squeezles and past the Puckles, trying to sink as many of their balls into the opposing players’ goal area as possible. The opposing player cannot use anything but their puckles to defend their goal, and only one puckle can be moved at the start of the next round. The round continues until all balls are played, and whoever sinks the most balls wins that round! Whoever takes the most rounds wins the game.
VARIATIONS
We had a couple of variations that I don’t quite remember well enough. They had to do with tiebreakers, mostly, and one involved an extra Puckle that you could move before you played each ball, but it only came into play in later rounds. I think we also had someone throw a whiffleball or something across the table at critical times, as well, or we would have if we kept having ties and had to go into extra innings.
So there you have it! If any of you people who actually played the game remember any other details, please comment them. And if anybody else actually ends up playing this again and we witness the birth of a new national sensation, then please let me know so you can electronically transfer my cut.

Post-Rennaissance Revival

I think the change of seasons has knocked me off my game somewhat. Either that, or I’m borderline sick. At any rate, being under the weather doesn’t make a guy want to write anything of substance, that’s for sure. I’m still working in the background on new stylesheets and things for Ramble On, but it’s slow going, because I don’t want to have to pour through CSS all over again, and some of the MovableType plugins aren’t working. The grand unleashing of the new blog design might have to wait until I have time and feel like doing it. I do know that I’m probably going to go with a pre-existing template, tweaked to my specifications – much like I did with the current design.
Things to mention:

  • This past weekend, a boatload of people from Blacksburg came up for the Rennaissance Festival held in Crownsville, MD. It was a lot of fun to walk around and see all the shows and festive things going on. You definitely get to see all kinds of people – sometimes way more of them than you really want to – but I suppose it’s all in the name of good fun. Thanks to Ben’s mom for the tickets and costumes! With her generosity, I got to play pirate for a day, which was as awesome as you might think it would be. Pictures are posted on Flickr, naturally.
  • Three cheers for working for the government! I received my letter in the mail today to get 15% off my monthly cell phone bill. It’s the little perks…
  • A shake of the magic 8-ball says that all signs are pointing towards me being able to go to the Maryland game this Thursday night with Jeanette and John-Michael of former ISE fame. This will be my first VT away game ever. Let’s hope I survive!

Vur Eyes On

Who’s got their new DSL service up and running in their new apartment? These guys. It’s been a wacky, fun-filled, adventurous few days here in beautifully crowded Fairfax County, but I’m definitely feeling settled in, for the most part.
In fact, it seems these past few days have been ones of change and travel for several people, not just me. Who else, you might ask? Well, I think the Discovery astronauts are glad to be back on terra firma (and I’m certainly glad there were no further complications, though I do think it’s time to start pushing for a post-shuttle space program, whatever that might be). Amy‘s been traveling across the U.S. on her way to her new home, and she’s been encountering strange and wonderful people along the way. One of my old friends from my first couple of years in college, Jess, got married in Kentucky, though I was unable to attend.
So, maybe there were favorable conditions for change up there somewhere. The Man Upstairs had his PDA in fine form, making all the schedules run right. I’m just glad that everything went smoothly.
… Even though this did happen a few days ago, I couldn’t let this story slip by. If you haven’t heard about singer Marc Cohn’s survival of a bullet to his head, then read up on it. He really must be living right, because not only did he survive the shooting after an attempted carjacking, but police have also arrested the man thought to have been behind the shooting. Is Marc Cohn a Christian? Maybe he is tonight.
… With all this talk about getting settled into the new place, I think it’s time to go on another trip. Say, back home to be in my brother’s wedding? I’ll warm up the car, you pick up the donuts. I’ll post if I get a chance!