ScrimismsPresently suffering a dearth of witticisms

December 2007

Books and Music and Musings31 Dec 2007

It turns out I have a blind spot in my pop-culture vision that is the size and shape of Neil Young.

For Christmas, my mom gave me a big coffee-table book called The Top 100 Canadian Albums, as chosen by a panel of 500 musicians and music lovers. The chosen albums are ranked by vote and not sales, and span all genres and periods from the 1950s to present day, so the book is reflects a nice slice of the Canadian music scene.

The #1 album is “Harvest” by Neil Young. This, I am somewhat ashamed to report, didn’t really ring any bells for me. “Neil Young is Canadian?” I asked aloud on Christmas morning. And then, “Neil Young is who, exactly?”.

As I flipped through the book it began to dawn on me that this Neil guy was a bit of a big deal. He had the #1 album in Canadian history, and appeared a few other times on the list.

Specifically, Neil is #1, #3, #16, #22, #30, #31, #40, and #47.

Clearly I’ve not been paying attention.

In my defense, in order to answer my next question, “What does Neil Young sound like?”, my parents dug into their collection of vinyl records. So his peak was slightly before my time.

I listened to “Harvest” on the turntable, and while it wasn’t an epiphany moment, I did start to understand why he might be thought of so highly.

Since then I’ve been keeping an eye out for Mr. Young. k.d. lang covered some of his songs on her “Hymns of the 49th Parallel” album (#59 in the Canadian pantheon) and I’ve been listening to that. On the airplane today I listened to a Neil Young live album via the in-flight entertainment system. I’m getting to rather like him.

Unsurprisingly, there’s lots of Neil Young on YouTube. Here he is with The Band. (“The Band is who, exactly?” led to more records being dusted off…)

News and Photos21 Dec 2007

This Sunday past, Ottawa received a massive dumping of snow, 37 centimeters in all, two cm less than the previous record for accumulation in all of the month of December, and it was only the latest of several storms to so far this year.

There are huge snowbanks along all the streets and getting to work on the bus has been less predictable this week.

During the storm I snapped a couple photos out our living room window, and then took a few more today for comparison. Both sets were taken in the early afternoon. See if you can tell which of these I took during the blizzard.

It was snowing as hard as I’ve seen in a long time. There were times when we couldn’t even see the big brown government complex across the way.

Another update: I’m heading to Nova Scotia on Sunday.

Musings18 Dec 2007

The famed sailor insists his great strength and trademark bulging forearms are the product of exercise and a specialized high-iron diet, not performance enhancing substances.

“I’m strong to the finich, cause I eats me spinach,” declared Popeye in a statement released by his lawyer, “Any allegations that I used human growth hormone, steroids, or other baned substances during my career are totally baseless and without merit.”

Poppy’s detractors note that his ability to perform superhuman feats of strength has never declined, even though his career has spanned almost 90 years. “Suggestions that he has maintained his physical capabilities over all these years by eating leafy greens, frankly, border on ludicrous, ” said one noted sailing analyst, “I think the average sailing fan is smarter than to be taken in by that.”

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Links and Software05 Dec 2007

XKCD, a wonderfully odd webcomic, features my favorite programming language today.

Eventually one returns to earth and writes programs in other languages, whereupon one discovers he has somehow broken his age-old habit of ending every line with a semicolon (and perhaps broken a build at the same time…).

Games and Software01 Dec 2007

A couple weeks ago, an RPG development forum I hang out on held a “game in a weekend” contest, challenging people to create a complete game in two days. It’s a bit like the “three-day novel contest”, in that you have to be slightly nutty to enter.

I decided to enter, and I’m not one to be nutty alone, so I roped Gaelan into working on it with me. Starting with some code I’d previously written and one generic grass tile, our aim was to produce a small-scale RPG in the time allowed (which was eventually extended by three days. Yeah, the two day contest turned into a five day contest. Weird, but useful…). Both being antiquity buffs, we decided to set our game in Ancient Greece, and drew some inspiration (i.e., outright stole a few things) from the Odyssey. Thus, The Trials of Soscarides was born.

The contest is over now, and “Soscarides”, reasonably complete by the deadline, tied for first-place with another entry. We are both quite proud of our little game.

I’d been holding off on posting it here because I was hoping to finish it first (the contest submission only has a little of the game content in place), but that is starting to look like it will take a bit longer than anticipated, so I’m posting it now. You can follow the link above and download the limited (and slightly buggy) contest entry, but you’ll have to wait a little while for the final release. Gaelan and I are both plugging away at it. I think the story is about 40% implemented and nearly all the art and mapping is done. I’m working on a few refinements to combat (which I wrote from scratch in 12 hours on day two of the contest) and a few other aspects of the game as well.

If you try it out, let me know what you think.