Philosophical Health Check

Came across a survey that was floating around the blogosphere, which attempts to challenge you to think about the tensions in your own personal life philosophy. It’s pretty simplistic, and it doesn’t seem to have been designed to tell you your beliefs are wrong or hypocritical so much as to make you think about the questions that your particular outlook creates.

So, being amused by it for awhile – and being me – I wrote an online version of it [update: link dead]. There are only 30 questions, so it shouldn’t take you long, and I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments. Take the test!

Armadillo Run

Over the last few days, I’ve mostly been distracted by Armadillo Run, a fabulous little shareware game (Windows only… for now) somewhat reminiscent of The Incredible Machine. It’s great fun, and the download is under 2MB, which makes it a reasonable download even if you’re on a modem (who does that, these days?).

Each level challenges you to get a rolling “armadillo” to maintain a position somewhere in space, by hooking up ropes, poles, cloth, metal sheets, rubber panels, elasticated ropes, and rockets, and modifying them with greater or lesser tension or by setting them to self-destruct on a timer. When you “run” your proposed solution, these objects interact with one another and with the armadillo in order to try to solve the puzzle.

The thing that makes it notably different from The Incredible Machine, apart from the very powerful physics engine – mentioned above – is the huge degree of flexibility you have in implementing a working solution. In The Incredible Machine, you had in your toolbox a set number of varied “parts” – everything from candles to monkeys. While there are less different “parts” in Armadillo Run, each “part” has a cost, and you must spread your budget accordingly and try to get a high score by saving as much money as possible. It’s remarkably cool, because this means that there are a huge number of solutions to any given puzzle.

Give it a go. I’ve got the full version if you’ve played the demo and would like to try a few of the actual levels before committing your £10 to buying a copy.

Abnib Breaks Stuff, Fixes Stuff, Keeps Ticking

As you might have seen, the new version of abnib went live this afternoon. Just so I don’t keep getting the same comments over and over:

  • Right now, it’s a little fixated on the PST time zone. I’m not sure why this is, but I’ll fix this soon.

  • For some reason, it’s silently rejecting all applications for a username and password.

  • There’s no link to Abnib Gallery.

What’s new?

  • If you’re logged in (hah!) you can block posts by author. Later there may be other ways to filter and prioritise posts.

  • It automatically refreshes as new posts come in. No longer do you need to keep whacking "refresh" every time you get bored: if you’ve got JavaScript enabled, it’ll quietly check for new posts in the background and pick them up and make them appear on the page.

  • It integrates with the as-yet unreleased new Troma Night website, so you can see where and when the next Troma Night is at all times. Yeah, and this updates itself without refreshing too.

  • It’s prettier. I liked the old theme, but I know it wasn’t to everybody’s tastes, and the "it’s ugly" people were louder than the "it’s pretty" people.

  • A couple of extra features that you can’t see because you can’t log in yet, either. Ahem. Will fix that soon, then.

What Did Matt Leave This Time?

Last time Matt visited, he left his mobile phone charger. It wasn’t all bad: it gave him an excuse to come back again.

This time, he left his razor and a can of deodorant. That’s all we’ve found so far; but we’re convinced that he’s trying to move in by installments. This gives him an excuse to visit again (to pick them up), when we anticipate he’ll leave three things, and so on in that fashion until he’s living with us.

In other news, I’ve just got back from an unexpected drinking session with random socialists.

Scotland Revisited

Wind conditions were better the second day, but not on Cairngorm, so we took a drive out to The Lecht where we were at least able to get some skiing in. We booked my sister’s friend Jemma and Claire into ski school, which gave Jemma her "first time" taster and gave Claire the confidence she needed to keep going at it (after the difficulties she’d had last year), and she managed to take on – very successfully – one of The Lecht’s rough intermediate runs by the end.

Then, having travelled South from Aviemore to get to The Lecht in the first place, we just kept on driving, getting back to Preston late last night. This revises our schedule a little: we’ll be leaving here after lunch and back in Aberystwyth this evening; probably in time for Troma Night at Paul‘s.

I’d forgotten how beautiful some of the Cairngorm-crossing mountain roads can be. Long, empty, winding, unlit roads surrounded as far as the eye can see by long, flat-bottomed valleys and snow-capped peaks. Fantastic.

Mobile In Scotland

I’m posting this from my mobile phone from a youth hostel in Scotland. I’m sure you’ll forgive me for any predictive-text-based typos!

Snow conditions are reasonable, but gale-force winds closed the mountain so we haven’t actually managed to do any skiing yet. Instead we’ve spent today cantering about the countryside on horseback, firing arrows from bows, and climbing around a series of Aberdyfi-like high ropes courses. Rope burns aside, all great fun; and odds are good we’ll get to hit the slopes tomorrow.

Two very strange dreams recently. In the first, I was a human embodiment of the tree of knowledge from the Genesis story (yes, a dream in which I had memories of being a tree), come to Earth to warn people of a coming end time, but only a handful of people believed me. In the second, friends and I were at a comedy show at which Hayley was performing. She was extremely good. Then, later, I ended up having sex with Jen.

Comments that say I’m fucked up very welcome and already anticipated.

Edited 17th Feb: updated on a PC to add links and fix formatting.

Ski Time

Claire and I are off to Scotland for a spot of skiing while there might still be some snow left. We’re leaving tonight and we’re back at the weekend (probably on Sunday). In the meantime, we’re leaving The Cottage, Mario, and Luigi in the capable hands of Matt (Hat variety). We’ll be in Preston Wednesday and Saturday daytime, and I’ll generally have my mobile with me the rest of the time if anybody wants me. Oh, and Troma Night will be hosted by Paul this Saturday.

In other news, running Abnib through Pornalize is the funniest thing I’ve done all week.

Guess This Makes Me “Sad”

I guess it makes me pretty much the geekiest person at Troma Night to have, when watching Daredevil, been pissed off mostly not by the shoddy acting or the over-obvious CGI or the physics-defying abilities of the sight-deprived… no; what ruined the film the most for me was that the main character was able to hear a bullet from a sniper rifle coming toward him and dodge appropriately… yes, that’ll be a supersonic bullet he heard coming towards him…

Not the only thing wrong with the movie, of course, but the thing that stood out to me the loudest.

Poker Night, Geek Night, and Troma Night

Just a reminder about this weekend’s events at The Cottage:

Poker Night / Geek Night

As already announced, Poker Night / Geek Night (at which you can either join the poker table or play the usual selection of geeky board games) is tonight at 7pm. I haven’t a clue who to expect.

Troma Night

This week’s Troma Night is called "The Troma Night Where We Had No Fun," because Ellie has insisted that in her absence we’re not allowed to enjoy ourselves. The preliminary lineup looks like this:

We’ll also be trialling an experimental new layout for The Cottage living room, which should improve the availability of soft chairs and reduce the amount of "7pm fighting" that we usually get. Time will tell.

Happy Birthday To Me! Again!

Thanks are due to my Mum, my Dad, and my Aunty Anne for the lovely birthday cards I’ve just received from them. Also to my mum for my birthday present (some Wii nunchucks), a christmas card, two forwarded letters from Nominet, and a copy of Hoodwinked. Additional thanks go to my dad for the two business reports and for the stack of CDs, whose contents I’ll look at as soon as I get the chance.

Also thanks to the mystery person who sent me a parcel late in November. Sadly I may never know what it was or who you are, because it has since been returned to sender or possibly destroyed by the post office.

So why all this sudden influx of post? Well, it turns out that last year, not knowing my address for certain, my mum guessed. The address she guessed was the address of an unoccupied building up the street (except she’d also put the wrong postcode), where my post has been collecting for several months (except for the parcel that was returned to the post office on 31st November and abandoned). More helpfully yet, she seems to have told my entire immediate and distant family her guess, too.

So; thank you all, even mum, you silly old pasty.

And Here’s The Weather

Just wanted to be the first to get a picture online of it snowing in Aber this morning. It started about 6:50am, and it’s pouring down at a steady rate and is just beginning to stick to the ground. Clicky for big pics.

Snow 1 Snow 2

Snow 1×

Poker Night / Geek Night – This Friday, 7pm

This Friday (9th Febuary) there’ll be a combined Poker Night (run by Claire) / Geek Night (run by me) event at The Cottage. We’ll be kicking off at 7pm. I’m guessing (check with Claire) that the poker will be a pittance-stakes (pennies, maybe pounds) game of Texas Hold ‘Em, tournament-style, with gradually increasing blinds: safe for beginners but still fun for regular players. Meanwhile, those who like their board games more like a conventional Geek Night can join me in a game or two of Settlers Of Catan or Amun Re or something.

Either way, and excuse to drink at a quiet night in. All welcome.

The Ethical Slut

I’ve just been reading The Ethical Slut, by Dossie Easton and Catherine A. Liszt. Well, I say “just been reading” – I actually read it over two days last week (couldn’t put it down) – I’m actually just slow to post anything of interest to my blog, these days.

Anyway; I just wanted to share with you all what a cool book it is (although I appreciate that it’s content, like it’s message, isn’t for everybody). Its a handbook of ethical slutdom – consensual nonmonogamy, for those who prefer longer and better-defined words – and its a veritable wealth of information on alternative lifestyle choices from homosexuality to swinging. Did you know that there was a respected code of etiquitte for orgies? Neither did I. And while breaches of group sex manners are not a faux pas I anticipate having the opportunity to make any time in the near future, it nonetheless makes for fascinating learning.

The thing that impressed me most about the book, though, wasn’t what it gets rave reviews for. Its frank, honest, open and informative coverage of how to have successful polyamourus relationships were extremely good; that’s for sure – certainly great reading even if you’re only casually interested in the subject… but what really impressed me was its coverage of various aspects of relationship management: all as valid, extrapolated from the context in which it is presented, for “regular” serial monogomists as it is for polygamists. It talks about jealously, conflict management, ownership of feelings, respect, distance… all with a healthy dose of active listening on top. Its interspersed with some great stories that the authors (a relationship counsellor and sex therapist) have drawn out of their friends and colleagues, it’s charming, it’s witty, and it challenges you to think about why relationship norms are so popular: things most people take for granted.

The book’s biggest downside: it repeats itself. Now and then it’s easy to find yourself reading a few paragraphs, sure that you must have read this bit before, only to later realise that the authors had copied a whole paragraph to a place earlier in the book, in order to prepare you for them covering it later. It’s a little confusing. Still, highly recommended.

Edit: this comic says it all, really.