The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

July 17, 2014

At Least I’m Going Somewhere

Filed under: Cars — Brian Lutz @ 1:17 am

Is it just me, or does it seem sometimes like owning a car can be more of a hassle than it’s worth?  Of course, being able to move around freely whenever and wherever I want (traffic notwithstanding) is nice and all, but the things have a pesky tendency to generate shockingly large quantities of various expenses when you least expect it.  My current car is a 2007 VW Rabbit/Golf (for some reason they decided to bring back the Rabbit name for a couple of model years before switching back to the customary Golf name) that was purchased new right around the time I started this Blog (I think either the second or third post I made here was about buying the car.)  For the most part, it’s actually been pretty reliable, and I haven’t really had any major mechanical problems with it in the 7+ years and roughly 73,000 miles I’ve had it for.   And yet, even without any major repairs to deal with, the thing still has a way of throwing shockingly large expenses at you on a regular basis.

Granted, I am driving a German car, an actual Wolfsburg-built car, not one of the notorious “Actually made in Mexico” ones that made a shockingly large number of people swear off Volkswagens forever back in the MkIV era.  Even though it’s not a particularly fancy or expensive car (by German standards at least) it still comes with some of the infamous German parts and maintenance costs.  The short version is that every 20,000 miles or so the scheduled maintenance is somewhere in the range of $500-600 (at least based on the prices at the dealer, your mileage may vary) and even the lesser services run you somewhere between $75-100.  And that’s assuming nothing goes wrong.  If something breaks or needs replacing (currently my car is due for a water pump replacement, which isn’t an overly expensive part but is a rather involved installation) then things can get even more expensive in a hurry.  Fortunately, I haven’t had to deal with any of the really big repairs… yet.  Oh, and did I mention that I’m just about due for a new set of tires?

Of course, it’s not just the maintenance and repairs that will get you.  There’s also insurance, which will put a nice little dent in your wallet every six months or so.  And that’s assuming that you never have to actually use it for anything.  Unfortunately, “stuff” has a tendency to be unavoidable at times, especially when you have a car that spends a lot of time in narrow parking garages.  A couple of days ago I managed to accidentally scrape one of the concrete posts I park next to while trying to pull out of my space, resulting in this lovely little gouge on the right rear quarter panel.  The good news is that insurance will cover it, the bad news is that based on my past experience with auto body shops they’ll figure out some way to make this a $1,500 repair job, even though I’d only be on the hook for a $500 deductible plus whatever rate increase they decide to throw at me for the next three or four years.  Either way, it means that I’ll be without my car for a few days, and just in time for the nice little trafficpocalypse that WSDOT has planned for I-90 next week when they reduce the whole thing down to a single lane for a whole week right in the path of every possible bus I might take to work.  And working from home isn’t really an option for me either, since 95% of my job requires having access to the very specialized hardware I test on.  The ironic part is that even though the stuff I’m working on is intended for use in cars, unless it’s actually installed in said car it isn’t exactly the most portable thing in the world (you should see the ridiculous lengths we have to go to if for some reason we need to test the non-navigation model under driving conditions.)  So basically, it’s going to be a serious pain to get to work for the next week or so.

And it’s not just getting to work that’s the issue either.  I think that for the most part I’ll probably be able to make it through the weekend without too much trouble (I’ll be with my friends for most of it, and there’s a good chance someone else will be doing the driving) but it does mean that I will most likely need to walk to church on Sunday.  Fortunately I’m close enough that it’s an option to do so, and if I can get past that I can probably hold out until I get my car back, whenever that happens to be.  One of the advantages of living in the Downtown area is that there’s quite a bit within walking distance, and a lot of other things aren’t too much further away.  Even so, you don’t realize how much you actually use your car until you have to go without it for a few days.  Either way, I don’t recommend scraping concrete posts with your car.  It seems to be a bad habit to get into.

July 4, 2014

Random Thoughts: Summertime, and the Living is Surprinsingly Complicated

Filed under: Random Stuff — Brian Lutz @ 1:08 am

Well, tomorrow’s the Fourth of July, and as usual I’ve pretty much gone overboard on the fireworks.  There’s been plenty going on around here lately, both in and out of work, but I figure I better try to get in a post here while I still have all my fingers handy (not that I’m planning on losing any of them, but I’m just making sure.) So here’s a few random thoughts from the last few weeks:

  • After nine months of slogging through whatever crummy weather nature decided to throw at us, Summer has finally arrived here.  And it seems that everyone is determined to cram as much summertime stuff as they possibly can into it, which means that there’s no possible way you can do it all.  This means that you have to pick and choose how you spend your days, especially on the weekends.  This past weekend, for example, was spent mostly dealing with various fireworks-related tasks (including picking up most of the stuff for the Fourth of July,) although me and my friends did also find time to make a stop at the Nisqually wildlife refuge near Olympia along the way.  In the meantime, there were about six or seven other things I could have done if not for the fact that there was just no time to do any of them.  July is looking pretty booked as well,  I’ve been meaning to have some friends over to my place for dinner one evening, but so far there doesn’t seem to be a convenient day to do it until at least the end of the month, if not later than that.  And August is probably going to get filled uppretty quickly too, although the one thing that didn’t make the schedule for me this year is PAX, since I happened to miss out on the roughly 45-minute window where tickets were available since I was in a meeting at work at the time.  At this point I may try to go for one day if I can find a pass that’s at least semi-reasonable, but I’m not sure I’m interested in more than that anymore.  Then again, that’s another story, presumably for another post I’ll never get around to writing.
  • Last week, one of my co-workers was leaving the company to pursue a different project for a different company.  He is one of the guys on the team who has been around for quite a while, so naturally there were a number of various going-away events and get-togethers on the way out.  I attended one of these after-work gatherings one day last week, which took place at one of the trendy bar-and-grill type places you seem to have a ton of around around here these days.  I suspect that I probably don’t need to describe the place in too much detail, because you can probably imagine it.  Some vaguely fancy looking place in a trendy neighborhood with sky-high rents, half a zillion different types of beer (which is presumably great if you actually drink beer, kind of pointless otherwise), and in spite of the word “grill” featured prominently in the name, half the menu is sushi and the number of menu items for which a grill would actually be required could be counted on one hand.  The lights are dim, and the music is loud, but you can’t really hear it anyway because the ceilings seem to be designed to funnel every single conversation in the restaurant straight to your ears all at once except your own.  And somehow, all of this is supposed to somehow be conducive to socializing.  Who’s bright idea was this anyway?  Yes, I can see the point of creating a certain kind of ambiance to improve the overall experience, but between the dim lighting, loud background noise and mediocre food (I guess they figure that by the time you’re done with the Wall ‘O Beer(TM) you’ll be too drunk to really notice) I’m just not sure exactly how this type of place is supposed to be a good place for socializing.  And yet any time I go to a place like that it seems to be packed nonetheless.  Maybe the fact that I might be the only customer in the whole entire place who isn’t drinking, but I’ve just never seen the appeal of these types of places.

  • Currently stuck in my head right now: the music from the first level of Ikaruga, a once-obscure shoot-em-up that’s gradually become far less obscure over the years, which I’ve made a few poor attempts to play that generally failed miserably.  As I’ve been in the process of getting everything figured out for the Fourth of July this year, I’ve been doing a lot of research and watching a lot of YouTube videos to figure out what to get.  At the same time I’ve been seeing all sorts of elaborate pyromusical productions, and it’s occurred to me that it would be fun to do one of those someday.  Obviously I have a lot to learn before I can get to the point of being able to do stuff like that, but one of the things I’ve been thinking about a fair bit is songs that would be good to synchronize a fireworks show to.  This seems like one of the prime candidates, assuming I ever manage to get the stuff to do something like that (which involves things like electronic fire systems, software to design the shows, not to mention the large quantity of fireworks you’d need for that type of thing.  I’d definitely like to try it someday, but something tells me I’m going to need a little more space than I’ve got.

  • My fireworks tomorrow night won’t look anything like this, but I was fortunate enough to attend a pyromusical performance put on by the people who run Sky Wizard Pyro up in Monroe (which is also where I got a good chunk of my stuff for tomorrow.)  In addition to running one of the best-stocked fireworks tents in the area, these guys are pros, and put on a number of the professional shows in the area as well.  This was the pre-4th of July show they put on last Saturday, using all products that are (theoretically) available to the consumer.  In particular, the mine and comet effects were amazing to see in person, although some of the effect was lost when someone apparently unplugged the speakers halfway through and the music cut out (it was fixed for the video.)  I don’t even want to know how much they spent on this stuff (even at wholesale prices that stuff has to be freakin’ expensive) but that is easily as impressive as any show I’ve seen using professional display shells.  Now I just need to figure out how to do some of that stuff…

Regardless of how you’re spending your Fourth of July, keep it safe and (at least somewhat) sane.

 

June 18, 2014

A Tale of Smoke and Accordions: A short story

Filed under: Short Stories — Tags: , , — Brian Lutz @ 11:02 pm

Image credit: Flickr user Bernat Casero, Creative Commons

 

Based (very loosely) on a true story.  This is another one of me and my friends’  random conversations over dinner a few nights ago taken to yet another ridiculous and absurd conclusion.  There will be a quiz later.

It was on a gloomy Friday evening that me and a couple of friends found ourselves in front of the old Italian restaurant.  Neon beer signs glowed in the windows on one side of the building, and the decor of the place seemed to suggest that Julius Caesar himself probably ate here at some point, and they hadn’t bothered to do much remodeling since then.  Still, you never know when you might find a hidden gem in a dive like this, and I figured it was worth a shot.

As we approached the front door, the faint sound of accordion music began to emanate from the inside of the restaurant.  Instantly I recognized the tune as one of the standard cliché songs  you hear any time someone on TV needs something to sound Italian.  As I opened the front door, a pair of singers could be heard from some back corner of the room.  A quick look around confirmed that the place might have looked reasonably fancy at some point, but the decor inside looked almost as shopworn as the exterior, and yet the place was surprisingly busy.  Nobody was at the front counter, so as I waited I grabbed a menu and took a look.  It quickly became clear that the only thing luxurious in this place was the prices on the menu.  But before I could look up, a waiter in a dinner jacket and bowtie appeared in front of me.

“Can I help you?”

“Yes, a table for 3 please.”

“Would you like smoking, or non-smoking?”

“Non-smoking, of course.”

“And would you like accordion or non-accordion?”

The place wasn’t exactly all that huge, but I figured it’s tough to carry on a conversation with an accordion blasting in your ears, so slightly less accordion might be a good thing.

“Non-accordion please?”

“Ok then, you’d like the non-smoking, non-accordion section.  You will have to wait a bit, but if you’d like I could get you a table in the smoking accordion section.”

“No, we’ll… Wait, what?”

“The smoking accordion section.  It’s one of the loveliest corners in our fine restaurant.”

“That may  be, but why is it a smoking accordion section?  Did someone accidentally light their accordion on fire?”

“Of course not, that would be absurd.  You see, many years ago there was a great master accordion craftsman in the Italian village of Castelfidardo by the name of Giovanni Carini who crafted some of the finest accordions this world has ever seen, but he so enjoyed smoking his pipe that he could not bear to be without it.  One day in 1879, he got a brilliant idea to build an accordion with a pipe built in, so he could play his accordion and smoke his pipe at the same time.  “

“OK, so…”

“Soon he carried his accordion everywhere he went.  Everywhere he went, people praised his fine smoking accordion, and soon everyone wanted one.  He always wanted to make people happy, so he made sure each of his children, and each of his grandchildren got a smoking accordion of their own.  One of our accordion players has one of these fine instruments, which sounds a bit different from a regular one.  And yet, some people prefer the sound of the normal accordion, so we offer different sections with each one.”

“But didn’t I say I wanted the non-accordion section?”

“Ah, you see, we don’t have much room here, so you may have to think of our non-accordion section as more of a less accordion section.”  This was starting to get just a little bit confusing.

“Well, OK…  The non-smoking accordion section, I guess.”

“And would you prefer the smoking accordion smoking section, or the smoking accordion non-smoking section?

“Didn’t I say I didn’t want to be in the smoking section?”

“So you’ll want the non-smoking accordion smoking non-smoking accordion non-accordion non-smoking section then?  Very well.”

“Wait a minute here, what’s all this about smoking accordion smoking?

“You see, our accordion player isn’t the only one here with a smoking accordion.  Many of Mister Carini’s grandchildren immigrated to this area over a hundred years ago, each bringing their prized smoking accordions along.  They have now been passed down through generations, and the great-great grandchildren who own the prized smoking accordions are now some of our most loyal customers.  As with Mister Carini himself, they too travel everywhere with their smoking accordions.  But not all of them smoke their smoking accordions, so we need to have a smoking accordion smoking section and a smoking accordion non-smoking section.”

“Ah, I see,” I said, even though it was pretty clearly a lie.  “But what if I don’t want to be near any smoking accordions, smoking or otherwise?”

“Oh, then you’ll be wanting the non-smoking accordion smoking accordion non-smoking smoking section then?”

“Wait, I…”

“Or was it the non-smoking accordion smoking accordion non-smoking non-smoking section?  I’m sorry sir, I seem to have forgotten what you wanted.”

By now I might have been getting just a little bit impatient.  “What if I don’t want any freakin’ accordions anywhere near me?”

“That depends, sir.  are you looking for the non-smoking accordion non-smoking accordion smoking smoking section or the non-smoking accordion non-smoking accordion smoking non-smoking section?  There shouldn’t be too many accordions in either of those I should think.”

“Well, I’ll…”

“Actually, now that I think of it, I think we might have had to put a smoking accordion smoker in the non-smoking accordion non-smoking accordion smoking non-smoking section tonight.  I’d have to find out if he’s smoking his smoking accordion in order to figure out if it’s the non-smoking accordion non-smoking accordion smoking smoking section or the non-smoking accordion non-smoking accordion smoking non-smoking section right now.

“Wait…”

“Or I just had a lovely little table open up, but it’s in the smoking accordion section next to some smoking accordion non-smokers…”

“Oh, you mean the smoking accordion non-smoking accordion smoking non-smoking section?”

“Actually, I believe it’s in the smoking accordion non-smoking accordion smoking smoking section.  Unless the smoking accordion has switched places with the non-smoking accordion, in which case it would now be the non-smoking accordion non-smoking accordion smoking non-smoking section… Or was that the non-smoking accordion non-smoking accordion smoking smoking section?  You’ll have to bear with me sir, I occasionally have trouble keeping track of these things.”

“Gee, I wonder why.”

“Either that, or it appears I also have a table in the non-smoking accordion smoking accordion smoking non-smoking section…  But the smoking accordion smokers don’t smoke their accordions much there.”

“Actually, I was hoping for a section without any smoking accordion, without any non-smoking accordion, without any smoking accordion smoking and without any smoking accordion non-smoking.”

“Did you mean the non-smoking accordion non-non-smoking accordion non smoking accordion smoking non-smoking accordion non-smoking smoking section or the non-smoking accordion non-non-smoking accordion non smoking accordion smoking non-smoking accordion non-smoking non-smoking section?”

“Um…  Whichever one of those has the most non-smoking in it, I guess.”

“Unfortunately, we’re all booked up in that section, but if you’d like, I think the smoking accordion player should be off by 9, and the smoking accordion non-non-smoking accordion non-smoking accordion smoking non-smoking accordion non-smoking  smoking section should be a non-smoking accordion non-non-smoking accordion non-smoking accordion smoking non-smoking accordion non-smoking  non-smoking section, assuming there aren’t any non-smoking accordion smoking smokers in that area by then.  Would that work?”

“Um…  On second thought, do you happen to do take-out?”

 

 

June 6, 2014

Seven Years of the Sledgehammer

Filed under: Site Stuff — Tags: — Brian Lutz @ 11:02 pm

As of today, this Blog has now reached the ripe old age of seven years.  As this is the Blog’s anniversary, I have made a habit of using this as one of the two annual statistical “checkpoints” each year where I publish some of the stats of the Blog.  I do this partially to keep track of the ebb and flow of the Blog as time goes on (and to be perfectly honest, there’s been more ebb than flow lately) and partially to give some idea of where this Blog is.  I haven’t really been keeping too much track of my stats lately (at least not as much as I used to back when I was writing more often than I do now) but sometime within the past month my Blog received its 300,000th visitor.  Given the fact that the Sledgehammer Version 1.0 (which I continue to deny ever existed in the first place, lest someone try to actually go read it) managed about 15,000 visitors total in roughly two years of existence, that’s pretty good.  Of course, there are Blogs that get that many hits in a day, but I’m not trying to be one of those.  I’ve never been all that good at writing a journal, so I use this Blog to kind of keep track of what I’ve done, and hopefully leave some sort of record to whatever future offspring I might happen to have.  I find that I write better when I have an audience though, which is what keeps me going.

As always, thanks for visiting, and I look forward to hopefully creating some interesting stuff in the future.

  • Total Posts(all time, including this one):  644
  • Total Posts (So far in 2013): 16
  • Total Comments (all time):  927
  • Total  Page Views (all time): 302,344
  • Total Page Views (So far in 2013): 16,041
  • Total Page Views in 2013: 32,446
  • Total Page Views in 2012: 42,260
  • Total Page Views in 2011: 42, 742
  • Total Page Views in 2010:  52,228
  • Total Page Views in 2009:  60, 939
  • Total Page Views in 2008: 50, 219
  • Average Visitors Per Day (So far in 2014): 103
  • Total Blog Subscribers: 110

Top posts in the past 365 days:

Post Title Total Views
Sampling the Whitman’s Sampler: A Guide to America’s Favorite Box of Enigmatic Chocolates 7,421
Retail Wasteland – A Tour of the Totem Lake Mall 3,024
Wandering Off the Beaten Path at Princess Cays 1,727
Ya Wanna’ Buy a Watch? A Visit to St. Maarten 1,167
Malls of the Seattle Area: A Tour of the Factoria Mall 1,073
A Tour of Crossroads Bellevue – Part 1: The Mall 922
A Concise Guide to Surviving Disneyland: Dubious Advice From a (Somewhat) Seasoned Disneyland Veteran 870
A Not-So-Standard Chevron Station (Updated) 798
The Beginning and the End of the Old Bellevue Safeway 749
The Redmond Costco Moves Forward (Updated 9/9/09) 642
Classical Gas – Abandoned Route 66 Gas Stations 609

Total Homepage views (Last 365 Days): 3,602

Top posts (all time):

 

Post Title Total Views
Retail Wasteland – A Tour of the Totem Lake Mall 32,424
Sampling the Whitman’s Sampler: A Guide to America’s Favorite Box of Enigmatic Chocolates 29,335
Malls of the Seattle Area: A Tour of the Factoria Mall 12,647
Classical Gas – Abandoned Route 66 Gas Stations 12,002
A Tour of Crossroads Bellevue – Part 1: The Mall 8,889
The Redmond Costco Moves Forward (Updated 9/9/09) 8,298
My Very Nearly Award-Winning Chili Recipe, and Other Deep Dark Secrets 6,426
Malls of the Seattle Area: A Tour of The Everett Mall 5,595
A Brief Tour of the Bellevue Galleria, Bungie’s Future Home 5,023
The Beginning and the End of the Old Bellevue Safeway 4,288

Total Homepage Views (All time):  61,129

June 4, 2014

The Evolution of a Pyro

Filed under: Random Stuff — Tags: — Brian Lutz @ 1:53 am

A small sampling…

As of the time when I am writing this post, the Fourth of July is now just a month away.  And for anyone who knows me, I do a lot more thinking about the Fourth of July than just about anyone I know.  Granted, that isn’t setting the bar particularly high.  Most people, I suspect, are content to just find a public fireworks display somewhere and call it good, or if they’re feeling ambitious enough they might make a trip out to Boom City or Muckleshoot and try to buy a few things to light off on the Fourth without losing their proverbial shirts.  The fact that most of the major cities around here (including basically all of the Eastside and Seattle) just ban fireworks altogether, which means that the most powerful things you’re going to see on the shelves are party poppers.  I, on the other hand, have already spent a number of evenings over the past few weeks watching fireworks videos (focusing mostly on the new items in the catalogs this year even though it doesn’t look like anyone’s actually going to have most of them, making spreadsheets, and generally overthinking the heck out of the whole thing.

Naturally, this type of thing isn’t all that typical for most people .  Somehow, I doubt there are too many normal well-adjusted people out there who just wake up one morning and start thinking “You know, it seems like a good day to go set something on fire.”  Then again, there seems to be a certain primal fascination with fire and its many forms somewhere within the human brain that inspires people to spend suspiciously large quantities of money on fireworks.  It might also inspire people to occasionally want to set fire to buildings that don’t belong to them, but that’s a matter between those people and their psychiatrists.  In retrospect, the fact that my father (and my uncle who lived nearby at the time) would frequently use the Fourth of July as an occasion to mess around with fireworks when I was growing up is probably where a lot of it came from.  In theory, the permissible fireworks in the town I grew up in were supposed to be limited to the “Safe and sane” variety, but the close proximity to various Indian reservations provided plenty of opportunity for people to get their hands on the good stuff, which meant mostly bottle rockets and firecrackers (the big multi-shot cakes and reloadable mortars that fill most of the shelves of the fireworks stands these days were rare back in those days.)  We did try to light those off somewhat discreetly since we technically weren’t supposed to have those (although I suspect the police had bigger miscreants to worry about anyway) but fireworks aren’t exactly an easy thing to hide when you’re setting the things off. Admittedly, I may not have had the best role models back in those days when it came to fireworks safety, and it is entirely possible that I may have made occasional use of various fireworks in manners inconsistent with their labeling back in those days.  Granted, I never did anything too ridiculous back then, but then again, I suspect it was a bit of a miracle that me and my brothers came out of that period with all of our fingers.

Eventually the family moved up here to the Seattle area, and to a city where fireworks were banned outright.  For a couple of years we were lucky enough to have a view of a professional fireworks display off the back deck of our parents’ house, but eventually they moved that display elsewhere.  Occasionally we might find a few small items and light them off in the driveway while keeping an eye out for the police just in case, but for the most part I spent a few years just not paying much attention to the Fourth of  July.  Then back in 2008, my aunt and uncle and their family moved from Federal Way to Bonney Lake and started having our family Fourth of July celebrations down there.  The first year or two of this was intended to be a fairly low-key affair, but as darkness fell on the first Fourth of July we spent down there, we quickly realized that people take their fireworks pretty seriously down there.  Once darkness fell, there were three solid hours of people lighting off the big stuff all around us, dwarfing the couple of small variety packs we had.  I’d have to say that it was something of a revelation, and the next year’s Fourth of July saw our fireworks stash increase considerably as people started making trips out to Boom City and the stands at the Muckleshoot reservation to pick up stuff for the party.  At the same time, the neighbors across the street started getting pretty serious about the whole thing, and started bringing out some of the big stuff.  Naturally, we’re trying to keep up with the Joneses (well, I was anyway, not sure about the others) and the stuff starts getting bigger.  Over the next few years, it goes something like this:

2008:  “Ooh, I can shoot off fireworks!”

2009: “Ooh, I can shoot off lots of fireworks!”

2010: “Ooh, I can shoot off big fireworks!”

2011: “Ooh, I can shoot off lots of big fireworks!”

2012: “On second thought Maybe that was too many fireworks…” (this was right about the point that quantity started to outpace quality, and we found ourselves with so many little items to light off that by the time we were done we were lighting Excalibur shells 8 at a time just to burn them off.)

2013: “Maybe I should do some research before randomly buying a bunch of stuff…”

Which is where I found myself last year.  That was the point where instead of just heading up to Boom City and getting whatever looked good on the shelves of the fireworks stand, I started doing some research beforehand.  This quickly turned into spreadsheets full of info on which cakes looked best, which ones went with each other, and  what I could actually afford.  It was also around this time that I started finding the pyro community on the Internet, and started learning where I could get stuff without paying the oftentimes ridiculous prices you’ll find at the reservation stands (which become even more ridiculous when you start learning what that stuff costs wholesale.)  In the end, I managed to get quite a bit more stuff than I usually do (and even managed to throw in a few of the big 500g cakes for the first time) and just about managed to light off around half the stuff the neighbors had.

This year, having learned some lessons from last year, I’m looking to start learning a few new things.  First of all, I’d like to learn to fuse stuff together better (I tried to do a finale board last year consisting of 4 200-gram cakes, a 300-shot Saturn missile and a big 500-gram, but the fusing was pretty terrible) and try to get the timing down better on that one.  Second, I’m trying to actually coordinate things better, and continue with last year’s focus on making a show out of it rather than just lighting off a bunch of random stuff.  Beyond that, there’s still plenty of places I could go with this.  I could start getting into electronic firing, and from there (assuming I wanted to invest in the equipment to do it) I could get into doing scripted shows.  I could get an ATF type 54 license in order to be licensed to work with 1.3g display fireworks, although there are a lot of added regulations to deal with at that point (which is perfectly understandable, given the dangers involved when you start dealing with stuff that basically amounts to large semi-controlled explosions.)  I don’t know if I’ll ever go in any of those directions, but the options are definitely there.

Assuming I don’t lose any fingers in the process, of course.

May 20, 2014

Random Thoughts: You’ll Get More Mileage From a Cheap Pair of Sneakers

Filed under: Random Stuff — Brian Lutz @ 1:36 am

Random sunset, apropos of nothing.

 

Given the fact that I’m not a neuroscientist (nor do I play one on TV,) I tend not to have a whole lot of insight into the workings of the human brain.  Aside from whatever I might have learned from wandering into a random linkbait article on Buzzfeed or some news article I ran across while bored, the vast majority of the insight I might have into the function of the human brain comes from dealing with the one in my own head.  Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on the situation) I’ve had more than enough time to familiarize myself with it and figure out some of its quirks.  Which is nice and everything, but the problem is that I can’t ever seem to get the thing to go away for some reason.  I’ve been informed by various sources that this would turn out to be a Very Bad Thing if it ever happened, but there are definitely times when I would not complain all that much if given the opportunity to take leave of my senses for a while…  Just as long as I could observe the whole process from a safe distance.  Which generally tends not to be the case.  For better or for worse, I’m kind of stuck with the brain I’ve got, even if we tend to have our disagreements at times.

For example, I’ve noticed lately that my brain has a rather annoying habit of taking random bits of whatever conversation is currently happening, digging up some old song lyric that I haven’t heard in months, and then promptly getting that song stuck in my head for the next week and a half.  During a hallway conversation at work, me and a couple of co-workers were discussing various methods of ensuring uniform inputs while running some voice recognition tests we planned to do.  Rather than rely on the person doing the speaking to be consistent while speaking into the microphone, the discussion turned to using pre-recorded voice samples, which would then be played back to make the voice recognition requests.  As we discussed this, the need for a new set of speakers for playback came up in the conversation.  I was sort of half-engaged in this particular discussion, since it happened right when I was trying to walk out the door to leave for the day (something else that happens all too often, but that’s a topic for another post,) which left my brain plenty of time to correlate that with the lyrics to a song I hadn’t heard in years, which in this case happened to be “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me” by Billy Joel.  I suspect that for most people, their brains might happen to latch onto  some little bit of a song lyric stored in the long-term memory, let it roll around for a few minutes in short-term memory, then file it away again for some other time.  My brain, on the other hand, seems to want to bring up every single note of the whole entire song and make me listen to it in my head for hours, if not days.  By the time I finally made it out the door after the above conversation, I was singing the song in the car on the way home.

This type of thing isn’t a particularly uncommon occurrence for me.  And it’s just one of the many tricks my brain seems to enjoy playing on my conscious at inopportune times.  Another particularly annoying habit I’ve noticed is that my brain doesn’t like passing up information.  Even if it’s something small and inconsequential, for some unknown reason I have to know what exactly it says, especially if it’s going to be something I’ll pass by on multiple occasions.  Of course, once I have actually read it and know what it says, then it doesn’t matter anymore, and I can go back to ignoring it just like everything else.  If there’s one thing I can’t get enough of for some odd reason, it’s information.  Whether it’s spending three hours reading Lord of the Rings wiki pages trying to figure out what the heck I just watched (me and my friends have been in the process of gradually going through the extended versions of the Lord of the Rings movies over the course of several nights recently) or having to turn around and go back to figure out what a sign says that has absolutely no bearing on anything I do whatsoever, my brain seems to crave information.  It doesn’t seem to care what kind of information it’s getting, just make sure to keep the stuff coming.

Then again, this isn’t always necessarily a bad thing.  One of the former managers I’ve worked with in the course of my career has told me that he thinks such tendencies can actually work to someone’s advantage when it comes to testing software.  After all, it’s a lot easier to spot when something looks wrong when it jumps out at you like that, at which point you probably remember how you got there to try and retrace your steps.  There’s also that little bit of extra motivation that comes from knowing there’s something not working right and just knowing there has to be some way to reproduce the problem.  And although there are times when you’ll see weird things that just don’t ever seem to happen more than once (and it’s entirely possible that you might end up chasing after them anyway.)

It’s somewhat odd to think of the brain and the mind to be two separate (and often opposing) entities, but in many ways that theory seems to explain a lot.  After all, it seems like I spend a lot more time fighting with my brain sometimes than I do cooperating with it.  And there are definitely times when it seems to have a mind of its own, for better or for worse.  Then again, it’s the only brain I’ve got, so until I can figure out where I can come up with a replacement, I guess I’ll just have to deal with it, arguments and all.

May 7, 2014

Fun With Insomnia: A Series of Unfortunate Decisions

Filed under: Bad Ideas, Fun With Insomnia — Brian Lutz @ 2:21 am

One of these days I should really learn to stop eating at my computer.

Back when I added Fun With Insomnia to the category list on my Blog, I figured I’d be using it quite a bit.  After all, I tend to have problems sleeping at times, and I got the idea that spending that time writing rambling half-coherent drivel instead of lying awake in bed being annoyed by the fact that I can’t sleep might make a somewhat more productive use of my time.  Then again, by now I’ve pretty much figured out that I can write rambling half-coherent drivel pretty much any time I want to, so there isn’t really a whole lot of point in restricting myself to certain times of the night to do it.  Of course, I try not to make that fact too obvious here, so I tend to toss most of that stuff into other categories and hope that nobody notices.

Ironically, I wrote most of that first paragraph a few hours ago, then stopped because I was having trouble staying awake.  The net result of this was a roughly 1 1/2 hour nap, from which I woke up nice and groggy right around 9:30pm.  Given the fact thart I was pretty much half-awake at this point, I figured I’d be making it an early (by my standards anyway) bedtime, and made the usual preparations.  It was about 11 or so by the time I was ready to go to bed.  and roughly 11:30 by the time I actually turned the lights off.  Naturally, this is right about the time that the sleep inertia from the nice little evening nap happened to wear off, and I found myself wide awake in bed.  This is usually right around the point where you remember why those after-work naps tend to be a bad idea.  Typically it takes about an hour or so of tossing and turning before I start to realize that sleep doesn’t seem to be on the agenda, at least not anytime soon.  It is also right around this time that I start coming up with some of my “best” bad ideas.

Tonight, it was right around 12:30 that I started pondering completely absurd things, and started to wonder just how quickly I could be eating eggs if I jumped out of bed that very instant.  One thing led to another, and roughly fifteen minutes later I found myself at the second-nearest Denny’s (there’s actually one just a couple of blocks from my apartment, but I don’t go there all that often because it’s kind of a dump)  ordering something else because I had completely forgotten my original aim by that point.  Oh, and since I was already in the process of doing any one of a number of stupid things, I tried to write this Blog post while eating, which probably explains why I’ll be reading it sometime tomorrow morning and wondering what the heck I was thinking.  In theory, the Surface Pro I picked up a couple of months ago when they had the things really cheap (I don’t think I ever mentioned that I got one of these) would be perfect for this type of situation, but I’m quickly learning that the $129 type cover I bought with it seems to be better suited for decorative purposes than for use as an actual keyboard.  I could probably get better at this with practice, but quite frankly, it’s kind of a pain to use.

Anyway, based on my admittedly very small sample size of largely irrelevant data, I figured out that under ideal conditions someone could probably be eating eggs at an all-night diner within roughly 15 minutes of jumping out of bed, although this does assume roughly five minutes of dressing oneself in a socially acceptable fashion, no significant traffic between their current location and said diner, and fails to take into account the traffic lights that might be encountered along the way.  Specific optimizations could be made to streamline the whole process, but who in their right mind would call ahead to Denny’s to place an order?  Then again, there are plenty of other ways that eggs could be consumed within the comforts of one’s home.  I suspect that if someone has a quantity of eggs in their fridge and isn’t completely repulsed by the prospect of eating them raw, they could significantly reduce that number, down to almost zero.  Then again, as efficient as that may sound, don’t expect me to try any experiments on that anytime soon.  I could probably continue to overanalyze this to death for at least another thousand words or so, but I should really be in bed by now, so I’ll refrain from doing so (either that, or I’ll save it for another post.)

In retrospect, it occurs to me that by the time someone finds themselves at Denny’s ordering a three-course second dinner sometime after Midnight, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to trace this occurrence to one or more bad decisions, usually made in rapid succession.  One of these days I should figure out that those nice little naps after work, although they seem like a good idea at the time, have an annoying tendency to end badly.  Then again, I’m not really up past my bedtime, just everyone else’s.

April 24, 2014

More Disneyland Facts That Are Not True

Filed under: Random Stuff — Tags: , , — Brian Lutz @ 12:50 am

 

When you spend as much time at Disneyland, you start to learn a few facts about the place (you also have people that start wondering about you, but that’s another story for another post.)  Just about everywhere you look, there’s a story lurking around somewhere.  Perhaps it’s rooted somewhere in the past, telling a tale of rides and attractions long gone, but still remembered today.  Perhaps it’s somewhere in the future, whether an imagined future that probably never will be, or a very real future soon to come.  Perhaps it’s a story of fairies, magic and happily ever afters, or a tale of adventure in a time long forgotten.   And sometimes the stories just pop out of thin air for no apparent reason at all.

Those are the types of stores I deal with.  As you might know if you read my Facebook posts or have read my previous compilation of these from previous visits, when me and my friends go to Disneyland we tend to make up little stories along the way.  Sometimes it’s just little throwaway one-liners here and there to explain away some minor inconsistency.  Other times we’ll just decide something isn’t quite what it seems, and we’ll need something to explain it.  Other times, it’s just more amusing to make something up.  One way or another, we end up with these little stories and completely made-up facts, and somehow they just stick.

If that’s not clear enough, I’ll throw in this disclaimer:  ALL OF THIS IS COMPLETELY MADE UP.  That’s why they’re Facts that are Not True.  If they were true, Disneyland would probably be either a far more magical place or a much weirder place, and I’m not sure which.  Probably a bit of both.  Anyway, without further ado, some more Disneyland Facts that are Not True.

 


  • Most Disneyland visitors are aware of Disneyland’s practice of honoring Disney legends with windows on Main Street USA. What most people don’t know about is that cast members in Adventureland have established their own similar practice with the pile of skulls found in the canoe in front of the headhunters’ camp on the Jungle Cruise. Over the years, a number of notable cast members have been honored with skulls added to the pile in their honor. In recent years, advances in medical imaging technology have allowed Disney Imagineering to now create anatomically accurate representations of the skulls of the cast members being honored.
  • In 1967, following a number of notable incidents of bad driving on the Tomorrowland Autopia, Disney briefly experimented with adding several “police officers” hiding behind billboards on the ride to pull over misbehaving drivers and issue them “tickets” for their infractions. This move proved to be unpopular as almost immediately a number of children claimed to be traumatized by the experience, thinking they were about to go to jail. Finally, the experiment came to an end about a week later, after the Anaheim Police Department claimed jurisdiction over the Autopia.
  • In recent years, Disneyland has sought a number of different ways to put special overlays on existing rides, which has resulted in such favorites as Haunted Mansion Holiday. In addition to Rockin’ Space Mountain (which has been run primarily during Grad Nites) and Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy during Halloweentime, Disney also briefly experimented with running Space Mountain with the cars placed backwards on the track. Although the ride functioned surprisingly well in this configuration, ultimately the concept was sunk by difficulties in loading passengers and the fact that people tend not to buy photos of the back of their head, No formal name was ever decided on for the concept, but in testing, Disney Imagineering generally referred to this as “Backspace Mountain”.
  • For over 20 years now, the Brotherhood of Mechanical Performers and Artists (BMPA) has been attempting to unionize the animatronics at Disneyland following successful efforts in a number of smaller parks throughout California. In spite of a campaign promising shorter working hours, more breaks during the day and upgraded mechanical components, a vote among the animatronics in 2011 went overwhelmingly against unionization, with 88% voting no. Since this time, the BMPA has filed grievances against Disneyland with the NLRB, claiming that they somehow manipulated their animatronics to vote against them.
  • Most people know about the popular RunDisney events that take place at Disneyland and Walt Disney World, but in recent years, Disney has explored the possibility of expanding to swimming events as well. Last year, RunDisney extended invitations to a select few runners from the Tinkerbell Half Marathon to a special before-hours event where the Storybook Land canal in Fantasyland was opened for swimming. Although the participants were enthusiastic about the opportunity, it was ultimately determined that a large-scale event would be impractical. Although the Rivers of America seems like the most obvious place for an event like this, Coast Guard regulations designate it as a navigable waterway, which prohibits swimming.
  • (Note:  This one was posted on April 10th, the 50th anniversary of It’s a Small World.)  Today Disneyland is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the opening of It’s a Small World at the 1964 Worlds Fair in New York City.  Although the ride as it is currently designed promotes global friendship and harmony, what most people don’t know is that design of the ride is based off of an early rejected concept for the Haunted Mansion where creepy looking animatronic dolls would have filled the roles now taken by the various ghosts within the Mansion. This design was quickly rejected for being too scary, but only minor modifications were required to transform the original concept into the It’s a Small World ride we know today.
  • The fleet of parking lot trams that services the Mickey and Friends Parking Structure at Disneyland cumulatively travels over 150,000 miles in a year, a half mile at a time. This is enough to make a trip at least halfway to the Moon, leaving a trail of lost hats, glasses or other loose possessions that may fall from the tram in its wake.
  • It is well known that parrots and many other types of birds commonly kept as pets have the ability to learn how to mimic human speech and other sounds if exposed to them often enough. What is less well known is that crows and other Corvids have a similar ability. In 2012 a pair of resourceful crows found a prime spot to build a nest just inside the entrance to Star Tours. They went undetected for quite some time, and by the time a cast member spotted them several months after they had established a nest, they were able to make sounds that almost exactly matched those of the R2-D2 animatronic in that portion of the queue.

  • In spite of the fact that the mailbox in front of the Haunted Mansion does not have an actual mailing address, this does not stop people from sending over 75,000 pieces of mail to the Haunted Mansion every year, mostly containing death certificates and other applications. Although Disney originally responded with a form letter about the high volume of applications for the coveted 1000th Happy Haunt position, eventually they just had to start marking all the letters as “Return to Sender: Deceased”.  In an attempt to try to stem the tide of mail, Team Disney Anaheim has reportedly given consideration to creating a website to accept online applications for this position.  Which will promptly be ignored, of course, but at least it might save some paper.

  • Recently, Disney Imagineering has been working on a secret project to develop a set of fairy wings that will allow performers to actually fly for short distances. Early prototypes have proven surprisingly effective, but many logistical challenges have hindered their integration into performances. The project was nearly derailed when one of the prototypes was accidentally sold to a young child in a gift shop. They eventually caught up with the child and brought her down safely, but she had made it nearly to Irvine before they did. The FAA is still investigating the incident.

April 9, 2014

A Grownups’ Guide to Chasing Kids Around the Yard

Filed under: Family, Random Stuff — Brian Lutz @ 1:01 am

I certainly can’t figure them out… Can you?

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (which I belong to,) there are two Sundays a year where, in lieu of our regular Sunday meetings, we have what is known as General Conference.  Over the course of the weekend, a number of different sessions of the conference are held in Salt Lake City where church leaders speak to the membership of the church.  These sessions are broadcast by a number of various means to members around the globe, and are translated and transcribed into over 90 different languages.  Although the option is available to view the conference by satellite broadcast at the various church meetinghouses, these days most members of the church opt to view or listen to the conference by Internet from the comfort of their own homes.   In my family, we tend to use the Conference Sundays as an opportunity to have our own little get-together, something that can be difficult to do at times due to the greater distances between us these days and differing meeting schedules we have on Sundays.  This past Sunday, we had one of these get-togethers at my parents’ house up near Granite Falls.

As members of the family have moved away from the area for various reasons (one of my brothers moved to Provo last year to go to school at BYU, and my younger sister and brother-in-law recently moved from Pullman to California for a job after he completed a PhD at WSU) our family gatherings have gotten smaller over the years, to the point that this time around it was just me, my parents and my sister’s family.  It turned out to be a surprisingly nice day for it though, with the rain mostly taking the day off and even some decent sunbreaks throughout the day.  Since my parents moved into their new house about a year ago they’ve been working on getting the yard (basically a big patch of dirt when they bought the house) into shape, and one of their projects was adding a patio, complete with a fire pit that has recently been completed.  Today provided a nice first opportunity to make use of it.  Sounds like the makings of a nice quiet Sunday afternoon in the backyard, right?  Not particularly.

My sister has four boys of various ages (the oldest one currently being 7 years old, and the youngest six months) and when it’s nice outside they’re all over the place, especially Conner and Corey, the two oldest out of the four.  If I was that age and had that big yard to play in, I can’t imagine I wouldn’t be doing the same, but to be perfectly honest, I have a bit of a hard time keeping up with them these days.  It’s not that I’m (too) out of shape or anything like that, mostly it’s an issue with my knee that slows me down a bit and makes it hard to do much running.  Naturally, this presented a bit of a problem when they decided they wanted to play tag, and I was it.  Just chasing them around the rather large yard straight-up wasn’t going to cut it, so clearly some strategy was needed.  After all, even on a good day they’d have a distinct advantage in mobility and agility, not to mention that there was two of them.  It was also clear that, anytime it seemed like I might be gaining some sort of an advantage, they were going to just change the rules, Calvinball style.  The trick is to take this approach and figure out how to turn it around on them.

At first, it was just Corey chasing me around, so it was easy enough to make a few (incredibly) halfhearted efforts at catching him.  After all, when you’re dealing with a five year old it doesn’t even really require bright shiny objects to distract them (although it certainly helps,) so the trick is to wait until something else grabs his eye and he isn’t paying attention, then tag him and run (or quickly walk) away.  Of course, eventually they start to catch on, so the effectiveness of this approach tends to diminish over time.  Pretty soon they start recruiting their brothers to join in and chase after you, and you have to start picking one at a time to chase.  Of course, even with their speed, agility and endurance you’re still going to catch to them eventually, which right about the point where they start throwing the whole “Base” thing into the mix.  Base, for those of you who may have forgotten the  vagaries of various childhood playground games, is basically a convenient excuse for someone not to be it when they’re tagged.  Normally the location of said base is a fixed position in some easily accessible central location that can be reached quickly in the event of a rapidly approaching it.

This generally holds true right up until the time when the base suddenly ends up being inaccessible with the It approaching quickly.  It is at this point that the definition of Base tends to shift around a bit.  First it’s in one spot (which, of course, they happened to reach about .003 seconds before you managed to tag them), then it’s another spot, and then when none of those work things start to devolve into more theoretical things.  At one point, I think they decided that anything made out of wood was base.  Although this idea would theoretically result in a dramatic increase of the base-enabled surfaces available, it was also rather short-lived after I managed to find a convenient rake handle and call it a portable base.  This resulted in a rather hasty reconsideration of the whole thing.  Eventually it was decided (after a lot more running around trying to call various items base) that anything solid was now the base.  If we were going by boring technical definitions that would have basically rendered the entire game physically impossible to play (unless everyone figured out some way to assume a gaseous state of some sort and then managed to find a way to chase each other around without dissipating into the atmosphere.)  Of course, even going by a second grader’s definition of a solid this didn’t accomplish much anyway, since I pointed out that the big patio in my parents’ backyard that we were all standing on happened to be quite solid.

By this time I think we were all spending more time constantly redefining the ground rules and trying to flaunt whatever rules actually managed to stick than playing the game, and pretty soon it turned into hide-and-seek, which doesn’t work all that well when the only real hiding spots in the yard were either on the porch or behind the shed.  And after that, I think everyone just went back to trying to set each other’s pants on fire with magnifying glasses (it’s a long story,) but fortunately/unfortunately there were too many clouds for any of this to be particularly effective.  Eventually things mostly managed to settle down, but something tells me that those boys could keep going for quite a bit longer given the opportunity to do so.  It can be tough to keep up with them sometimes.

When you’re dealing with young children on a sunny day with a large backyard, eventually everything ends up turning into Calvinball.

 

April 1, 2014

The Stupidest Idea I’ve Had All Week: How to Crowdfund Your Way to Fame and/or Fortune

Filed under: Bad Ideas, Random Stuff — Tags: , — Brian Lutz @ 1:12 am
A Pile of Money

The expected result. – Image Credit: Flickr user Veken Gueyikan, Creative Commons

Note:  This was originally intended to be an April Fools Day post, but I realized that even by my admittedly low standards this was a pretty harebrained idea.  It is for this reason that I will present it as just another one of my run-of-the-mill bad ideas.  I seem to have no shortage of these lately…

I have been writing on this Blog for close to seven years now, and although during that time there have been ups and downs involved with this, over the past few months there has been one overriding concern that has arisen in my mind about this Blog and its future:  Somehow, I have failed to get rich off my Blog.  Now part of this is my own fault:  I haven’t made much effort to pursue the monetization of my Blog, but that’s really beside the point.  After all, some random article I read on the Internet ten years ago told me I could make a fortune in Blogging, and if it’s on the Internet it must be true.  Sure, I may have inadvertently forgotten to buy the $495 guide explaining how to do it, but how hard can it be to figure out?  Naturally, the most obvious way to make money by Blogging is to plaster ridiculous ads all over the pages.  Just a few banners here and there, and I could easily be making as much as .02 cents per visitor, which would add up to…  Hang on, let me do a bit of math here…  Around $10 a year, give or take.  I figure that would cover about a third of what I spend annually on image hosting (in the form of a Photobucket subscription,) which doesn’t exactly result in a whole lot of getting rich.  Clearly a different plan is needed here…

Then again, lately we’ve seen some interesting examples of ways to do just this.  If you’ve been reading the news over the past week or so, you will know that Oculus, a small startup company designing virtual reality hardware for (eventually) consumers that got its start primarily on crowdfunding through Kickstarter, was purchased by Facebook for $2 billion, in spite of never shipping (or even announcing) any sort of consumer-focused product, just a bunch of development kits.  In the process, they’ve set a new standard for cashing in on riding questionable fads, which raises some interesting questions:  Just what would it take to crowdfund something out of thin air and/or whole cloth and parlay it into big bucks?  For that matter, just what does it take to sell an idea for big bucks without actually following through on any of it?

In theory, the idea behind crowdfunding is to take some idea that you have, find enough people to back that idea, then use their funding to implement it.  In practice, the whole process tends to be kind of hit-or-miss.  Frequently you hear stories of projects that met their funding goals, then never quite panned out beyond that.  It’s hard to say how much of this comes from people getting in over their heads and finding their projects to be more than they had bargained for, but there have been some accused of doing the whole “take the money and run” routine.  In this case, we’re not actually trying to scam anyone here, we’re just trying to find just enough work to get someone’s attention.  We’re not looking to change the world here, all we’re looking for is something that someone with ridiculously deep pockets thinks might change the world, and is either too willing or too shortsighted to think the whole thing through.  The best way to do this seems to be to latch onto the latest big fad.  Preferably something big companies are throwing a lot of money into in an effort to try to get consumers to adopt it by sheer brute force.

Of course, you also need something for the big companies to throw those big bucks at, which means you’re going to need a team of engineers to build it.   It can be a little bit tricky hiring engineers without some startup capital, which is where the Kickstarter is going to come in.  For whatever it is that you decide to make, be sure to keep the backer rewards vague, at least at the lower levels.  Assuming you execute this strategy correctly you will probably end up with a product of some sort somewhere along the line, but you’re not trying to make something for the masses.  Keep the backer rewards at the lower tiers as things like T-shirts and tote bags, and put the actual products on much higher tiers.  That way you can deliver the actual rewards to the majority of the backers without too much fuss, and you can buy some time to “develop” stuff.  In the meantime, keep talking about your prototypes.  If you can manage to produce something that won’t crash and burn too often, try releasing a few as development versions to the higher-tier backers.  They don’t have to be perfect, just good enough that people who can work their way around some bugs can deal with them.  Again, it helps if you’ve got plenty of people willing to chase the latest fads and see potential whether it’s there or not.  Hubris can be your friend, just as long as you don’t fall into it yourself (that’s a job for your marketing people.  You DO have marketing people, right?)

If you can manage to pull this whole routine off and get the right kind of attention, start insinuating about what you could do with the “right kind of partner” to take your product to the next level.  Feel free to go into full-on vaporware mode for this; after all, the engineers can figure all that stuff out later.  As soon as the right combination of excessive money and deficient sense arrives, jump on it.  In the end, you’ll make out like a bandit, and it’ll be someone else’s job to figure out how to put your wild ideas to work.  At this point, it’s usually a good idea to stick around for a few months before quietly bowing out to “pursue the next big thing”.  What you do at this point is entirely up to you, but if you implemented the previous steps correctly, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ve got a large number of people who would love your head on a silver platter.  I’d recommend finding a nice quiet island with poorly enforced extradition policies, low taxes and which is somewhere that’s really expensive for disgruntled Kickstarter backers to travel to, and just lay low until everyone has forgotten who you are.

You would think this kind of idea would be just as terrible as it sounds, but if you ask the guys at Oculus, apparently it works…

 

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