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Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

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A Very Fun Weekend
Had an awfully busy weekend just past. Saw The Golden Compass with mostuff Friday night. Fun eye candy, but I kept falling out of the movie. I think in pulling out the controversion elements of the story the producers also took out the dramatic tension. It's like Hagrid telling Harry Potter "There's this V-Man guy--nasty dude, hurt a bunch of people. We don't like to talk about him." What's the big deal again? Casting famous actors didn't always help. My reaction to a scene would be "It's Christopher Lee and Derek Jacopi! Cool. I wonder who they're playing." Sam Elliot didn't help either, mostly because his history and his outfit screamed COWBOY! in a movie that didn't have cowboys. Kidman, OTOH, was great as the setting's Darth Vader.

Saturday Maggie was invited to a classmate's birthday party. The host site was a bounce house outfit--they had four of the things in a warehouse. The kids loved it, running all over like crazy. A couple of the bouncers were specialty items, a very tall slide and a slide when had an obstacle course to get to it. Maggie wanted me going through them all with her. The slides were fun, but the obstacle course one was sized to require interesting maneuvering from the kindergarteners. For me it required some serious contortions and my rib cage strongly objected to one maneuver. It's still sore. So I only went through that one the once, no matter how many times Maggie cried, "Come on, Daddy!" After a few hours we adjourned to the "party room" for pizza and birthday traditions. Maggie turned her nose up at the pizza since it wasn't her preferred brand. But she ate the cake, and sang the song.

Jamie had been kept out of the party because he'd been sick on Friday, but since he was doing better I took him and Maggie to the Saginaw Fire Department Open House. They were celebrating their new offices. With the growth of the town the police department moved to a new building and their old building was remodeled to be offices and training facilities for the fire fighters. The kids got to look at the fire engines. The new ladder truck was at full extension. Looks like "top of the grain elevator burning" was the reference scenario for the specs. The Texas Firefighter Museum folks had brought some old engines which the kids could climb into, great fun for them. One of the ambulance services was letting kids into their vehicle for a guided tour but that line was longer than Maggie's attention span. The best part for me was getting some disaster preparedness info from our local FEMA-equivalent. We got to chatting while the kids played. Turns out Walter Jon Williams' The Rift is a popular novel in that crowd (and well it should be). She agreed that it was a terrible book to read right before visiting the Gateway Arch.

Sunday Maggie and Jamie got to see their godparents again for the first time in weeks (and also the last time in weeks as they'll be out of town for the holidays). Jamie's been making a lot of progress lately, not just in talking but in behavior. This was the best behaved he'd ever been in the service, at least since he was weaned. Maggie was swept off to learn how to make cookies with her godmother afterwards.

That evening we went over to fordprfct's place to play Rock Band. Amazingly to me I'm being somewhat competent at it. Sure, I'm playing bass on "easy" but I'm someone who normally can't match rhythm or tune at all. The music selections aren't aimed at me. I suspect getting access to music you like is one of the big incentives for progressing in the metagame. I have to wonder about the future of the game--seems like there'd be a lot of interest in letting people access user-generated songs. Thousands of budding composers could get their tunes out to people by letting them play them.

I admit I want this so I can play filk in the Rock Band II game . . .

Current Mood: cheerful
It's Hard to Keep Ahead
Three years ago Pyramid published a gaming article I wrote, The Hills Are Alive With the Sound of Panic. It was mostly an excuse to explore the Hysteria Department at Illuminati University, but the plot focused on the invention of a "Fear Projector." I wanted an appropriate mad science gadget to drive innocent bystanders into a panic. Naturally there had to be a bit of technobabble describing how this thing worked:

The students used a combination of strobe lights and ultrasonic
vibration to make a working cannon-sized beamer

One of the problems with writing science fiction--even when you're doing mad science--is that it's hard to stay ahead of the curve. Turns out there is a government contract for just that kind of gadget:
Military funded researchers are preparing to test a nonlethal weapon that combines light and sound. Nicholas C. Nicholas, chief scientist of Penn State's Applied Research Laboratory, told an audience yesterday at a nonlethal weapons conference that in the first half of next year, the lab plans to test DSLAD, the Distributed Sound and Light Array Debilitator. It'll use essentially off the shelf technology to see if combining aversive noises with light produce some special debiliating effects.
I think "Fear Projector" still has a better ring to it than "DSLAD", but they probably couldn't get any good names through their review committee.

Current Mood: amused

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