Posts

Showing posts from 2013

Why World of Warcraft?

Jana and I started playing World of Warcraft in early 2010. It pretty much immediately became and stayed our main hobby, and a major source of our enjoyment.

Most people - including us before we started playing - have the idea of WoW players as insufferable nerds, addicted to a game, with poor hygiene and no social contact. In addition to that, there's the concern about paying $15 per month for a game.

So let me tell you why I think World of Warcraft is the perfect hobby.

First off, the price. $15 per month is probably the biggest bang for the buck you're ever going to get for entertainment. Compare it to the cost of a single dinner with friends, or tickets to a movie. Then consider that you're likely to play WoW a lot more than the two hours it takes you to watch a movie.

WoW occupies as much or as little of your time as you want it to. You can play it 3 hours a week, or 30. There's always something to do - raiding and battlegrounds if you feel like high-stress action…

World War Z vs. The Last of Us... and other games

World War Z came out the same week as The Last of Us, but I only saw the movie now. I played the game in August.

World War Z is a movie version of the game. You got your deserted hallways with flickering lights, inhabited by clickers, who trudge around with zombie steps and are disadvantaged in the vision department, but are keenly attracted to sound. Once they hear you, they rush at you and you're dead unless you bash them with a crowbar, or hit them with several bullets (they never stop after just one).

If you're going to play the game, you obviously also have the time to watch the movie. It's not bad. But if, for some reason, you had to choose - play The Last of Us. The relationship between Joel and Ellie; the story that unfolds; the genius melancholy music... it comes together so well. If you only watch World War Z, it's... a much more plain and shallow play at the topic. The game is intense, frightening, moving; the movie, Jana and I watched as a comedy, laughing …

Insulin, diabetes, exercise, and frequent urination

I've been meaning to get around to this follow-up for a while.

I posted in May about how I got scary glucose and insulin results in a blood test. This was a sign of growing insulin resistance, which would lead to Type II diabetes if allowed to progress. I suspected two factors might be to blame: (1) the high quantities of zero-calorie soft drinks I was ingesting, and (2) despite my strict diet and general fitness, a lack of aerobic exercise.

For the following 3 months, I addressed both suspected causes. I eliminated most artificial sweeteners from my diet, and I started to exercise heavily. I believed exercise would work because: (1) studies show that regular aerobic exercise mitigates the risk of Type II diabetes; (2) all pregnant women develop insulin resistance, yet 99% get better afterward, so the condition must be reversible; (3) it would be compatible with my hypothesis about the workings of the underlying mechanism.

My hypothesis is naive, but it's compatible with my ex…

Unnecessary engineering

Look at this guy.

He crashes his old Citroen in an African desert. He's 20 miles away from the nearest village - about a day of walking, perhaps 2 on rough terrain - but he "didn't want to risk making the trek on foot". Instead, he spent 12 days in the desert, surviving on scarce supplies of food and water, sheltering under the car's chassis during sandstorms. He used that time to convert the Citroen into this ridiculous, dangerous motorcycle. Then he rode the motorcycle to the nearest village, arriving about 10 days later than if he just walked on foot.

This reminds me of how programmers often go about things... Instead of doing an awkward task by hand, we think of a clever way to do it with a program! Then we spend three times as long writing and debugging that program, as it would have taken to do it by hand. :)

Rick & Morty

Image
I just discovered Rick & Morty. It's ridiculous. And by ridiculous, I mean it's awesome. :)

Here's a quick GIF, just so you get the idea:

Oblivion

Just watched Oblivion.

Wow.

If you haven't seen it, this is a very good film.

More photos! #3

Image
Aaron is now nearly 7 weeks old. :-)

Here's a third set of photos from last time - oldest to newest:
















As you can see, he's starting to get blond hair. :)



Paintings!
Also, we finally received, and were able to get help to hang, the paintings from our St. Kitts apartment!

This is how they look in our new place:








Monogamy kills

Check out this awful story:
Wife and I have been together for 14 years, and on October 24th we celebrated our 12 year anniversary. Together we have 3 children: Martin 10 years old, Casey 7, Tiffany 4. Wife was a fantastic woman, and even better mother.

A month before her suicide she was acting very strange. She began withdrawing affection from me. It has always been a routine that before I would head out for work I would give her a kiss. However, whenever I went for a kiss she would always pull away.

When it came to talking, she would rarely give me eye contact. I tried many times to try to see what was going on and she would just play it off.

Last week, when I came home. I noticed that the kids were home alone. I started calling my wife, after 3 hours of no answer. We ended up calling the police. The next day she was found in her car dead; she had committed suicide. There was a suicide note, where she confessed to cheating on me, and that she could no longer handle the guilt.

My heart…

Zero-tolerance schools kill

I don't normally post stuff that's on top of the Reddit front page anyway, but - this really pisses me off:

Ontario mom urges schools to let asthmatic kids carry puffersRyan Gibbons, 12, died after a severe asthma attack during recess at Straffordville, Ont., school

Many schools in the US and Canada have zero-tolerance policies, in which everything - including essential emergency medicine, like inhalers and epi-pens - is considered a dangerous drug that must be kept out of kids' hands, whatever it takes. An asthmatic kid can't carry an inhaler. An allergic kid can't have an epi-pen. Instead, if an emergency arises, the kid has to go to the principal's office, or to the school nurse, and kindly ask for her emergency medicine. You know - if she doesn't die on the way there.

Obviously, this is dangerous. At the very least, the delay makes any health incident worse. Reasonable parents work around this policy, and give their kid a spare inhaler or epi-pen, to hid…

My experience with an (NSA?) prankster

Remember the movie The Mothman Prophecies? A major feature of the film is Richard Gere's interaction with an entity who calls itself Indrid Cold; a being with supernatural abilities who apparently knows everything there is to know about the present, as well as the future.

A person claiming to be Indrid Cold appeared in YouTube comments one day. It impressed other people who commented, by sharing apparently supernatural knowledge about them. Some people exchanged correspondence with it in private, and it impressed them with its abilities even more. One of those people posted about it on Reddit, and that's how I got to know about Indrid Cold.

I was naturally curious, so I sent Indrid an email. More than a month later, I received this reply:

Hello, Mr. Bider,

Your are the co-founder of a software company called 'Bitvise'. You are originally from Slovenia but moved to the Leeward Islands with your wife, Jana. You both enjoy fresh seafood and online gaming. You recently canc…

This is how I feel about sports

Image

Doubters and Bitcoin

Bitcoin is becoming sufficiently well known that people on reddit post topics like I believe that BitCoin will be a spectacular failure (granted, this was in the Change My View subreddit).

Here's my response:


Bitcoin is the same kind of "bubble" as gold. A comparison between the two:
Gold has ornamental use, and niche technology uses, neither of which contribute much to its perceived value. Gold is valuable because everyone thinks it is - because other people use it as a store of value.Despite its relative lack of inherent value, gold served as an economically stable medium of exchange for thousands of years.Gold is inappropriate as a medium of exchange in an online economy. It's impractical to trade at a distance without relying on third parties.Bitcoin lacks ornamental value and niche industry use, but is even better suited as a store of value.Bitcoin is extremely easy to send to anyone, at any distance, anywhere.The value of Bitcoin will stabilize once it approache…

New Relationship Insanity

Image
LoL. :) I definitely suffer from this.


Windows 8.1 upgrade blues

I wouldn't say my upgrade to Windows 8.1 was smooth.

The laptop first crashed soon after the upgrade. When I connected my external HDMI screen, Windows blue screened and pointed out the NVIDIA display driver as the culprit. I disconnected HDMI and updated NVIDIA drivers to the latest version, but now blue screens started to occur when attempting to open the NVIDIA Control Panel. When it didn't cause the computer to crash, it still failed to open with an error stating that no NVIDIA graphics card is currently active. I checked the Device Manager, but all it said was that NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M is operating correctly. That's even though it clearly didn't: I tried starting a game to make sure, and the frame rate, which should be about 100, was between 1 and 2. I didn't even try HDMI at this point.

It turned out the problem was that the upgrade to 8.1 disabled the Intel HD Graphics 4600 driver. I had to download a new one from the Intel Download Center. After installi…

Kimchi Cuddles

Image
I just love Kimchi Cuddles. It started earlier this year, and there's already hours worth of it to read. If you're trying to wrap your mind around poly - if you're looking for insight into what it's like as a mindset - then this is it.

Follow this link to read it from the beginning.


The cost of giving birth in Costa Rica, and more photos

Image
So, the bills are in:

SurgeonUSD1,600AssistantUSD400AnesthesiologistUSD400PediatricianUSD400Hospital (24 hour stay)USD1,980TotalUSD4,780
Not too bad, for no insurance, and a C-section. I've seen reports of total costs such as $25k in the US.

We were happy with the quality of service, and found the professionalism comparable to what we would expect in the US.

Why no insurance?
Folks have asked why we don't have medical insurance. Well, we sort of do. We have access to the public system, we just pay out of pocket for private health care.

Costa Rica has one of the best health care systems, in my opinion. There's a system of public hospitals that's available to everyone through social security. We pay a significant amount for social security every month, so we have access to that. However, we prefer to use the services of private hospitals. Private hospitals charge rates much more reasonable than in the US, so we can afford to pay out of pocket.

If we lived in the US, where …

Dan Savage on (non)monogamy

Hear, hear. Dan Savage makes an appearance in The Guardian:

Why is non-monogamy such a dangerous idea?

I don't follow his writing, exactly, but I've so far read nothing from him I didn't like.

People who can't use lifts

More specifically - people who:
Press both the up and down button when they call the lift. As if they're going to go both directions.Board a lift going the wrong direction, even when the direction is clearly signaled before they enter the lift.Fail to notice that the lift refused to register their floor selection, because it's going the opposite way.Grumble when they need to select their floor again, once the lift has reached bottom.
Our parking is in the bottom basement of our building. When I call a lift, and it arrives with a person already in it, and that person doesn't disembark, I immediately know:
They're a dumb fuck who pressed both the up and down buttons when they called the lift, causing the lift to stop on their floor when it didn't have to. This wastes my time waiting for the lift.They're a dumb fuck who entered the lift going the wrong way. This wastes their time, because now they're going with the lift, all the way the wrong direction, before t…

Halloween Baby

Image
Our son Aaron was born in the CIMA hospital in San José today, after 37 weeks of pregnancy, at 14:37 local time, October 31, 2013, by Caesarean section. He's tiny - 47 cm and 2300 g - but vivacious and hungry, and appears to be healthy despite his size. His weight seems to be mostly in his balls, which are bigger than his penis. His feet are tiny, and he arrived into the world with a head of dark hair, just like his momma.

We expected he'd be premature, but we didn't expect it would have to be by C-section. Towards the end of the pregnancy, ultrasound showed calcifications in the placenta. According to the ultrasound specialist, these calcifications were signs of an intrauterine infection, which could have resulted from a week of a flu-like illness which Jana experienced in August. There was a low level of amniotic fluid, and the baby had been behind with weight progression for a while. Since the amniotic fluid is composed to a large extent of the baby's own urine, the…

Couple Privilege

I found this awesome blog article describing couple privilege. It's literally the top search result for that search phrase, and for good reason. I've been irked by people expressing opinions that derive from couple privilege for years now, but I never had a coherent name for what they're doing, let alone what's wrong with it. This is the first time that I find such a stunning, exhaustive, concise explanation of what couple privilege is, and why it isn't a good thing.

The part that speaks most loudly to me is from Part 3 onward.

Mad Men vs. Breaking Bad

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the person who got Jana and I to start watching Mad Men. You know who you are. Thank you.

We started watching Breaking Bad before Mad Men. Whereas we've already consumed all 5 Mad Men seasons available to us through Netflix, we've hardly progressed past Breaking Bad season 2. The following are the reasons.

Mad Men has brilliant character development. Each character is multifaceted and shown in a variety of situations, exposing their depth. Breaking Bad has static, two-dimensional characters, who always have the same problems, the same shallow relationships, and behave the exact same way.

Mad Men follows what might be plausible life stories of professionals in the 1960s. The narrative develops naturally, one never has the impression it's contrived or forced. Despite that, the story manages to be titillating, interesting, amusing, thought provoking, and diverse; sometimes stunning.

In Breaking Bad, the narrative is contrived and…

Louisa Leontiades - "My Problem With Monogamy"

The following is an excerpt from a post by Louisa Leontiades, which corresponds with my views on the topic:
My Problem With Monogamy - Comfort Instead of Happiness
Everyone asks why. Why take the risk of having an open relationship when you have children? They perceive open as 'non-committed'. Why take the risk of being polyamorous when you are so happy together? They perceive polyamory as a selfish choice rather than a realistic choice supporting an inclination. Rather than argue those misconceptions, my answer is this.

The reason we are so blissfully happy is because we have an open relationship. Being monogamous is a horrible risk. And for us at least, a greater one than polyamory.

Monogamy is designed to keep couples together by creating barriers of exit; socially; financially and psychologically. One cannot look at the divorce statistics to ascertain how successful it is; this only proves how many couples remain married. Not how many couples remain happily married... Judgi…

The doghouse: Costa Rican traffic accident law

Image
Costa Rica has the stupidest traffic law I have ever seen. In the tradeoff between preserving evidence about an accident and avoiding congestion, Costa Rica firmly chooses the side of evidence preservation. In other words, if you're involved in any sort of traffic accident - however minor - you're supposed to leave the car exactly where it was, ignore the congestion this causes, and wait several hours for the police.

Just today, when returning from the shopping mall, it took us 20 minutes to overcome a distance of 250 meters, because of this:


The accident was absolutely minor; only the fenders on the cars were out of shape. Yet, these two cars stood like this, almost completely blocking a major roundabout, waiting for the police.

How anyone in Costa Rica thinks this kind of legislation is acceptable, is beyond me. Economic damage caused by the congestion is tremendous, and in most cases, by far exceeds the cost of the accident.

There might be a case of leaving the wreckage whe…

Alpha, beta

I recently stumbled over a Reddit community called The Red Pill. The central tenets of this community appear to be as follows:
There is such a thing as an alpha male. The main trait of the alpha male is that he's confident, and doesn't fall for women. He doesn't let women use him. Instead, he uses them. In modern times, an alpha man would likely not be married.According to The Red Pill, marriage is exploitation of men, and implies submission to the female. Laws are written such that (a) females have no repercussions if even after marriage, they still have sex with other men; (b) divorce benefits females through division of property that favors females, child custody that favors females, and alimony that favors females.There is such a thing as a beta male. This is a guy who doesn't control women, but lets a woman control him. He puts a woman on a pedestal, buys her an expensive engagement ring, and marries her. The woman then proceeds to cheat on him, and he might get st…

Disabling hot keys in Windows 8 using AutoHotkey

I have written previously about my disappointment with the design direction of Windows 8.

One of the most annoying "features" of this new Windows are the plentiful hot keys for things I really don't need, including WinKey + Enter (starts Narrator), WinKey + Plus (starts Magnifier), and of course the classic, the Windows key itself. When playing a game - I play World of Warcraft - it's very easy to press the Windows Key by accident, helpfully replacing your entire screen with the Start Menu, usually when it's needed the least.

I finally downloaded AutoHotkey to solve these problems. The following is the script I use:

; Disable WinKey + Enter (Narrator) #Enter:: return ; Disable WinKey + Plus/Minus (Magnifier) #+:: return #=:: return #-:: return ; Remap the Start menu to WinKey + S #s:: send {LWin} ; Disable WinKey when pressed alone ~LWin Up:: return ~RWin Up:: return ; Set NumLock state to always on NumLock:: SetNumLockState, AlwaysOn ; Disable extra mouse bu…

Slow download on MSI laptop with Killer network cards

I've written recently about my limited satisfaction with my new laptop, an MSI GT70.

Another problem I discovered recently was that download speeds were limited to 1.5 Mbps. Since this slow rate persisted regardless of whether I tried the wireless or Ethernet connection, I thought the blame was with my ISP; but after extensive testing, it turned out that other laptops were able to get better speeds, up to 15 Mbps, through the very same connection. It was only my MSI laptop that was seeing very low download speeds. Interestingly, upload speeds appeared to be unaffected, and the download speeds were also fine when using USB tethering through my smart phone, which used the same internet connection, but bypassed the Killer network cards.

Eventually, it turned out that I needed to install a driver update for the Killer network cards (both wireless and Ethernet) that come with the MSI laptop. I was able to download new drivers here. After removing the old drivers and installing new ones…

Free tarot readings for all

Image
I want to get better at tarot, and I don't have that many ponderous questions of my own to ask. If you want a shitty tarot reading from someone who has no clue, drop me a note. :-)

Post mortem

I hate Atlanta already.

First, it's the reason I'm here. It shouldn't have to be like this. I hoped to win back the heart of the person I came for. Instead, I've had to flee Birmingham, so she could no longer feel threatened by my presence.

Not that she even has a way to know that I left. But I couldn't in good conscience stay, after she reluctantly reached out to me while drunk, only to tell me how much she now hates my guts; how much it scared her I was there; and how she wants me to suffer...

Second, the room is a dump. Compared to the comfortable suite they had for me at the Meadowbrook Hampton Inn, this Holiday Inn Express is a cramped, poorly ventilated shithole, at a higher price. The desk is tiny and it shakes when I type. I shouldn't have chosen downtown.

I would write more, but I'm dead inside. Maybe tomorrow. In the meanwhile... I wonder if I can read tarot.


At my 5'7", I never thought I'd find a hotel bed in the US that feels too sh…

Some things are worth it

I did something that might be considered creepy.

Okay, super creepy. I traveled 1,700 miles to another country, in a desperate attempt to win back someone who had already expressed intent to change her phone number so she would no longer be contacted by me. I had other reasons that compelled me to travel, but I could have gotten that done somewhere else, if not for this.

I was humiliated and failed miserably.

I expected that. I hoped for a different outcome, but I really couldn't have expected something other than what I got. I did it anyway, because to do otherwise would be to betray what I value most.

I believe emotion gives meaning to life. Most people try to control it, repress it, make it tame. I think emotion is to be experienced, and an opportunity to experience it should be cherished. It should be cherished like a unique opportunity to taste a new and mesmerizing dish - but more so, because emotions are much harder to come by.

Many people think emotions should be restraine…

Elysium

Elysium is an awesome movie. It's worth seeing. A sci-fi spectacle with Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, William Fichtner, and lots of blood splatter. What more do you want?

Like most such movies, of course, it has a fundamental flaw that completely undermines its premise. It makes heroes of the wrong side.

Spoilers below.

The real villain of this story isn't Elysium; it's a lack of population control. The real hero aren't the people of Earth; it's life-saving technology.

The movie's naive conclusion is that, when all the billions of people on Earth are made citizens of Elysium, the life-saving technology miraculously becomes available to all.

This is not how things work. When a resource is only available to a few people, it's usually because it's scarce. What makes a resource scarce usually isn't a decree from government, but a law of nature that we have not yet learned how to overcome. In order for a major new technology to become more cheaply available t…

Oak Mountain State Park

Image
Went hiking today. These are from Oak Mountain State Park, minutes out of Birmingham. There ought to be more water in the falls, apparently it hasn't rained in a while.

Photos from Birmingham, AL

Image
I never thought I'd sing praises to a place in Alabama. As recently as half a year ago, I didn't think I'd ever visit here. Based on what little I heard of the state from the media, I imagined Alabama as a backward place populated by country hicks who sing corny songs and believe in a flat Earth that's 6,000 years old. Sadly, such people do live here. But for the most part, I had preconceived ideas which, in hindsight, were as accurate as the education about Kazakhstan that can be obtained from Borat.

For one thing, I didn't expect Birmingham to be this wonderful. I may have had excellent luck with weather - sunny every day I've been here - but it stands to reason this place would be lovely all year. Everything is so green. There are trees everywhere! Forests in the middle of the city! And everything is so well maintained. Wherever you look, the grass is manicured, flowering bushes adorn intersections, and elegant homes are gently nestled under the trees.

I'…