Here's how it turned out.
“People would love it, and defend it with their lives because they would somehow know that their lives could be nothing without it.
If the Earth were only a few feet in diameter.”
Finally, the quarterfinals, and my first round to play. It's been several hours. I spent some of it walking around the con. Some of it watching other tournaments. Some of it watching bunny_hugger. Some of it putting up my best game ever on Lethal Weapon 3, a game I despised back in the 90s and which now I ... yeah, I guess I see what to do so now it's just boring with a lot of repetitive callouts.
I'm high seed. I get to pick what bank we play. I go with my scouting data and choose the Cirqus Voltaire bank. The tournament official asks what position I want. I say third, and then think of the joke: ``juggler''. He doesn't hear it, so I save the joke for the next round, when it gets as much appreciation as it deserves. Normally when people pick position they choose either the last spot available --- so they can better judge how risky they have to play --- or first --- so they can get it over with and not worry. I've been settling on second or third, partly because it's just felt good. Partly, it throws other people off. bunny_hugger has to explain, during the round, how it is I ended up playing third if I had my free pick. There was one moment during the rounds that someone went up during what was my odd-choice turn. Had he plunged, that would've been a disqualification for him and a compensation ball for me. I don't go looking for that, but I am aware doing slightly trivially odd stuff can put people off their game. And, goodness, I'm in the finals of Pinburgh. I need all the edge I can get.
So, Cirqus Voltaire. With bunny_hugger's assurance that defeating the Ringmaster is indeed something you can do, I focus on doing that instead of the many, many other ways you can get multiball going. It pays off: I beat ten million points, double any other player's score. First game down and I have three wins. There's three games to go, and the top two finishers move on to the semifinals; I'm already in a good spot.
Next game: Mars Trek. As first-place finisher the first game, I'm the last person to pick order, which is how I ended up going first. It's an electromechanical game. It's five balls. I just have to have one good one; failing that, no bad ones. I have my good ball early on, I think my second ball. I'm edged out on the last ball, but it's good for second place: 451,000 to 548,900. Yes, bunny_hugger's second-place score (563,700) would have beaten this whole group. I have five wins, one loss, and I'm in the very slight lead. There's no assurance of how many wins will get me to the next round (other than twelve, of course), but if I get get above six I'm probably in.
The late-solid-state game: Genesis. It's a punishing one. You shoot the major shots to collect body parts for an android and start multiball; if you're a wizard, you collect all the body parts and activate the Maria-class android. The two easiest body parts to get, on the instance of this I'm familiar with, are the ramps. Neither is an easy shot. I will go down to third place in this. Six wins, three losses; if I can do anything on the last game I'm probably in, maybe at the cost of a tiebreaker.
Also, thinking over the game, I realize something. I check the instruction card, and know that I need to test something when I can, trusting that I get into the next round.
The last game is the early-solid-state, Stars. The goal is keep the ball alive, and hit banks of drop targets. Easier said than done, since, early-solid-state game. But there's some hope. The ball does bounce some off the center post, even though it hasn't got the rubber sleeve around it. This means if the ball is plunging down the center and you don't move to save it, especially not by hitting the flippers, it might bounce right back onto the flippers for you. It does this once for me. I have to come from behind on the last ball, but I get most of the way there, finishing at second place with 97,105 points. Yeah, nobody knows why there's a 5 points there. The third-place finisher got 69,908. First place got a clean 132,000 and as bunny_hugger will note, her score that was only good for second place (208,200) would have creamed all our scores.
The important thing: I have eight wins, the most of my group. I'm on to the semifinals. I'll have my pick of game bank again. And I can test what I think I've learned about Genesis.
Trivia: The size of Algeria's French-speaking population is uncertain; estimates range from as low as 110,000 (of thirty million, at the time of this source's 2005 publication) to a quarter of the population. Source: Empires Of The Word: A Language History of the World, Nicholas Ostler.
Currently Reading: A Gambling Man: Charles II's Restoration Game, Jenny Uglow.
PS: The Summer 2017 Mathematics A To Z: Jordan Canonical Form, something really important that we never actually do.
I wrote a short short story (~500 words) inspired by today's celestial events. Check it out on Universe Factory, the blog of the Worldbuilding Stack Exchange community.
I got the idea a few days ago and, well, I just had to.
This sermon was presented to the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg on August 20, 2017, by Rev. Lyn Cox.
Marjorie Bowens-Wheatley and Clyde Grubbs ask, “Who are the prophets who inspire you?”
This congregation has been hearing all summer about personal stories of inspiration. You have heard of mentors, friends, and ministers. You have reflected on prophets of racial justice, and on what you are inspired to do to dismantle white supremacy.
The question of inspiration is not an idle one, nor does it hide neatly inside the folds of private spirituality. Inspiration is a deep breath, a connection to the forces that create and uphold life, an expansion of our consciousness past the limits of what was imagined before. Inspiration can cause trouble.
Yet we need a little bit of that. We need the winds of freedom and justice to blow and trouble the waters. Let us breathe in time with that wind. The prophets and mentors and ancestors who urge us onward show us how we and all of our siblings and the planet we share can have life abundantly. We know we need to change course. Inspiration is one of the ingredients that give us the courage to follow a new path.
Remembering the people who have inspired us is a beginning. The next part in moving us toward the world we dream about is figuring out what parts of those stories we want to weave into the future. Inspiration, breathing in a connection to something that is larger than ourselves, is paired with aspiration, exhaling into an expression of our hopes. Our sources of inspiration may lend us boldness to move forward. Our aspirations give us the power to join together and embrace what we are called to do.
We have to do a little bit of work in the space between inspiration and aspiration. We don’t want to simply imitate the people who have gone before. For one thing, our own times have their own challenges, and we may be able to borrow strategies from the past, but we have to choose them carefully. For another, nobody is perfect. Each person’s favorite historical figure is, most likely, problematic. We can work together to tease out which parts of our heritage and learning will become our inspiration, which parts will become cautionary tales, and how that translates into a list of shared goals.
So there’s a journey between inspiration and aspiration. Next week, I’ll talk about moving from aspiration to perspiration, hope into action. For right now, though, let’s back up to the inspiration part. I would like to tell you about some of my role models.
I grew up in a liberal United Church of Christ congregation in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. Until I was around nine years old, the church I went to was served by a co-ministry couple: a man and a woman. I listen now to the stories of my elder colleagues, those who were ordained in the 1970s and 1980s, and I hear them talk about being in their teens or twenties or later before they realized that women could be clergy. For me, gender diversity in religious leadership has been a given ever since I could remember.
Our ministers were a great team. They had different gifts, and they clearly cared about one another and thought about how they would collaborate. One of our ministers had a wry sense of humor, drew analogies between children’s books and each week’s gospel lesson, and taught us silly songs about faith. The other minister played sincere folk hymns on the guitar and sang in the choir and made references to Hebrew and Greek languages. They spent time with children’s ministry as well as adult ministry, and they were there right alongside the members to raise money for the Crop Walk or the Heifer Project.
I did not consciously set out to show evidence of their influence on me. Once I noticed it, though, I had a chance to think about what I wanted to do with that inspiration. What about my upbringing did I want to carry forward into the future, and what did I want to leave behind?
When I was in my mid-twenties, much to my own surprise, I applied to seminary. I asked one of my childhood ministers for a recommendation. As we were talking about it, she explained to me that professional religious leadership is not just one thing, much like congregations are not just one thing. The collaborative ministry of clergy and lay leaders bears a whole rainbow of fruits.
That’s the kind of minister I wanted to be, the kind who pays attention to the whole circle of what a congregation can be and do together. I knew I wanted to be the kind of minister who worked on developing music, caring, religious education, justice, and service.
On the other hand, there were things I wanted to do differently than the way I perceived them as I was growing up. I had already decided to become a Unitarian Universalist, though with much gratitude and affection for the tradition in which I was raised. In the intervening years, I have discovered and re-discovered many sources of inspiration. The church of my childhood is one that I am glad to have.
Here at the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg, I see evidence of the ways that your heritage has inspired you to grow your aspirations. I hear how a long tradition of welcome and inclusion and enthusiasm has brought you to dearly cherish your music ministries, including the choir. I see how you have cultivated green spaces around each campus, expressing hope in ways that only trees and flowers can do. Throughout the congregation, there are smaller gatherings, affinity groups, Covenant Groups, and COUCH groups that express hopes for depth and relationship. The White Supremacy Teach-In two weeks ago and the Peace Candle are just some of the examples that show your hope in a world that finds peace through the practice of justice, equality, and compassion.
It is this tradition of commitment that has led your Board of Trustees to sign on the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg as a supporting organization for a unity rally this afternoon at Italian Lake. The event, “Speak Up for Unity: No Hate Here,” will be hosted by the Community Responders Network from 3:30 until 5:30. If you are planning to go, you are welcome to bring positive posters and to park at the Hadee Mosque on Division Street. Speakers and performers will “support unity, diversity, and love and condemn white supremacy.”
This is a community where people find comfort, challenge, and renewal together, so that you can be prepared to build relationships and be accomplices for the power of love in the world. I gather from what I know of you great aspirations of participating in the work of justice, disrupting the oppressions that get in the way of the full unfolding of life for all in safety and abundance. I believe you are inspired by famous community builders and civil rights leaders, and I also suspect that there are elders and ancestors from within the congregation whose legacy inspires you. I look forward to hearing more.
The world needs this. The world needs allies for love and justice to renounce White supremacy in its many forms of racism, anti-Semitism, and xenophobia; and to block its advances. The world needs warriors for compassion; those who heal directly, and others who make way for that healing with science, policy, education, and by defending access to health care. The world needs those who do the radical work of introducing people to one another, those who step outside their comfort zones to connect communities, those who build coalitions and make common cause and show up in solidarity with neighbors.
The world needs accomplices for the Spirit of Life, and I believe this congregation is called to be some of them. You have demonstrated your aspirations. The raw materials are there. The work before you includes clarifying those aspirations, committing to them and prioritizing as one people, and clothing your values in practices of community.
Knowing your aspirations and inspirations does not make the path ahead easy. Being clear about our call to be neighbors in solidarity and stewards of the earth doesn’t mean we have certainty about the future or that all the resources are lined up neatly in a row. Yet I believe that the gifts we have among us, including the resources of our heritage and the renewal we can draw from our faith, are enough to take the next step.
Sometimes our aspirations show up, even when we don’t think we’re ready to move forward. Before we close, I’ll give you an example from our Universalist heritage. You may have heard this story before. It bears repeating. I don’t know if the story happened exactly this way, but I believe it’s true.
In the year 1770, John Murray was ready to give up everything. About ten years before that, as a preacher in England, he had converted from being a Calvinist to being a Universalist. He was personally mentored by James Relly, the founder of English Universalism. Universalism holds that all souls will eventually find reunion with the Divine; in other words, salvation is the destiny for everyone.
Over the course of the 1760s, John Murray and his wife Eliza became more and more deeply involved in this heretical religious movement. Then disaster struck. First their infant son, then Eliza became sick and died. John Murray was thrown into debtor’s prison. Murray’s brother-in-law rescued him, but he was so demoralized that he refused Relly’s urging to return to preaching. Murray said he wished “to pass through life, unheard, unseen, unknown to all, as though I ne’er had been.” He boarded a ship bound for New York, the Hand-in-Hand.
The Hand-in-Hand got stuck on a sandbar off the coast of New Jersey, near Good Luck Point. Murray was among those who came to shore in search of provisions, and it was there that he met Thomas Potter. Potter had built a chapel on his land that was open for traveling preachers. Potter invited Murray to preach, but Murray insisted that he had left that life behind him, and that he would be leaving as soon as the wind shifted and the ship was able to move off of the sand bar. Potter assured him that the wind would not shift until Murray preached in his chapel.
According to the legend, Murray tossed and turned that Saturday night, but arose on Sunday to preach a sermon for Potter and his family and friends. Indeed, following the service, the wind did shift, and John Murray went on to reclaim his vocation as a preacher. He was one of the people who ensured that a religious movement of Universalism was established in our young nation, creating a heritage of freedom and a vision of unity that we still draw from today.
That we still tell this story almost 250 years later says something about our inspirations and our aspirations. I believe that we can hold reserves of hope for one another, as James Relly and Thomas Potter did for John Murray. We can challenge one another to use our gifts to bless the world. Unitarian Universalist congregations like this one hearken back to Thomas Potter’s chapel, practicing open minds and open doors, creating a place of sacred hospitality. When we practice abundance and welcome the stranger, we may find a word that lifts us up and renews our spirits.
In the coming week, I hope you will take some time to give thanks for the people who have inspired you. They may be historical figures, ancestors, or friends who are right beside you today. Take stock of what they have taught you. Look around for the evidence of the ways they have already influenced you for the better in your words and actions. Write down the hopes and goals you draw from these role models and mentors and loved ones. The world needs communities of love and justice. We begin to answer that call when we understand how to translate our inspirations into aspirations.
So be it. Blessed be. Amen.
Having not done the advance planning needed to procure a pair of the dorky-but-necessary goggles for directly looking at the eclipse, I did the quick-and-dirty version instead: creating a "pinhole camera" by taking two index cards, punching a hole through one with a needle, holding them a couple of inches apart, and adjusting the distance between them until I got reasonable focus.
Quite neat -- while not nearly as spectacular as being in totality no doubt would have been (both my parents and my boss flew to the Carolinas for it today), it provided a good firsthand illustration of the principles as the visible dot in my "camera" went from circle to crescent over about ten minutes or so.
The one negative observation: I am now nearsighted enough that actually observing this now requires taking off my glasses. (Even my bifocals aren't good enough to resolve that level of detail. But at least my eyes are Really Good at Up Close and Tiny nowadays.)
Spreading the word (h/t to mindways) -- Fatal Encounters is a site doing research that everyone has talked about for decades but ever-so-conveniently not actually performed: how many people are being killed by police, under what circumstances, and how has that been changing over time? In an absence of data, talking heads fill the void with their own assumptions, and that needs to change. So they are building out an as-comprehensive-as-possible searchable database on the subject.
They're currently running a modest IndieGoGo campaign to fund operations for the next six months. It looks to be a good cause, and I've tossed a few dollars into the pot -- check it out...
A favourite song with a person's name in the title: Several options for this one, but I'm going with Hey there Delilah by Plain White T's. I generally really like songs that tell a bit of a story, and I can imagine the characters in this one so vividly. I like the balance of emotions; it's a sad song about missing a lover, but it's also optimistic and the music is at least somewhat catchy. And I like that they're apart because they're both pursuing their careers, it's not some passive muse waiting for her artist boyfriend to come home. It's not my usual musical style; indeed I discovered it simply by listening to chart radio like some young person who's in touch with the recent music scene.
Then it will go well for you and your children after you, for all of time, because you will do what is good and right in the eyes of the Eternal your God.And we ate cakes made by my sister and the community gave me some really nice silver Shabbat candlesticks with engraved stands.
We'll have it good
We'll have the life we knew we would
My word is good
I had to Google myself to see how long I had LastPass. I can't recall but it feels like forever. I think it was since I still had a LiveJournal, and I deleted the last one of those (this blog) back in 2008. Google tells me I first wrote about it on Anti-AOL in 2009 and my Dreamwidth tags tell me I did so here in 2010, so I'd guess I've used it for at least 7 but possibly as long as 9 years.
But realizing there is no fix for the blank site list dropdown and blank search results in the Firefox add-on really does kind of enrage me:
Also unfixed (that I've dealt with personally; there's probably more)
Not a bug, but weird (1) or flat-out inexcusable (2):
I am just *gaaaah* so fucking done with LastPass.
Interfaith solidarity and the power of love were in full force this afternoon at the unity rally in Harrisburg, PA, sponsored by the Community Responders Network. There’s plenty of work to do to continue dismantling white supremacy, anti-semitism, Islamophobia, and oppression in all its forms, yet it’s encouraging to know that so many people are ready to pull together.
In the wake of Charlottesville and the past week, I strongly recommend reading this article in the Guardian, which explores a bit of the ideology of this particular chunk of the far right. The heart of it is a reminder that Nazism is national socialism, and they are making hay with a philosophy that is basically a racist (and inegalitarian) corruption of classic socialism. It's bullshit, but seductive bullshit, now just as it was to Germany in the '30s.
It's a bit skin-crawling to think about (it's a bit hard to come up with a more exact opposite of my own worldview), but we're going to have to understand the enemy if we're going to fight them. And I think it's clear that we are going to have to fight them -- at the very least, this is a dangerous and rising memeset that needs to be opposed now, and vigorously...
Update, 8-21-17: the fix below (switching back to 32-bit Firefox) works great until you restart Firefox, then tada, it never works again. So I guess there is no answer short of trying every version of the LastPass add-on - really not a good idea when latest versions are patched for security vulnerabilities and so on and oh, LastPass, how completely unusable you are, let me count the ways.
Since discovering my fix only works until restart I've disabled LastPass and installed KeePass/KeeFox because I had online work to do and wasn't about to keep playing games with a broken password manager. KeePass has its own issues (mainly, when it stores more than one login for a site it tends to autofill the wrong one, leading to a lot of "copy username/copy password" clicking and pasting) but though it's not for the faint of heart (it's sort of an old-school program with about a gajillion options I haven't even glanced at yet) it does seem less batshit fucking insane to deal with, overall.
So, the LastPass blank dropdown menu and blank search results panel is very annoying. The dev hasn't updated the add-on since June and is responding to exactly zero complaints about this and other issues on his Firefox review page, though there might easily be dozens.
Which came to bite me, too, when Firefox finally let me have their latest multiprocess (e10s), 64-bit compatible version earlier this week (e10s is still automatically disabled if you install any add-on that isn't yet e10s capable); ever since I've had both LastPass problems, and saw others are having them, too [Example 1, Example 2, Example 3].
To fix these issues, just switch back to Firefox 32-bit. It's not even necessary to remove Fx 64-bit. It's actually better if you don't, so Firefox can just poke around in your profile folder and recreate the Firefox you've got in the 32-bit version you're about to get (just be sure to create a shortcut or a target that you can easily tell apart from the 64-bit icon).
32-bit Firefox runs LastPass perfectly, fixes the blank dropdown list of log-ins for each site and fixes search result panels showing up blank.
For everyone leaving bitter reviews [Example 1, Example 2, Example 3] and sharing the version number that allegedly works better [Version 4.1.62a]: I tried it in 64-bit Firefox, but it gave me all the same blank dropdowns as before.
My guess is the problems are not confined to any particular version. After I installed the May 31st version and saw the same issues it became clear the latest version is not at fault - it's 64-bit Firefox - and I'll gander that's no matter which version of LastPass going back to the earliest 56*-capable version you pick.
So if you've got 64-bit Firefox, try going back to 32-bit (here are the 32-bit installers. If you have automatic updates turned off, keep checking the directory for the latest). Run Firefox 32-bit with whatever version of LastPass you have and see if that fixes the problems.
And on to another busy week at my mathematics blog. What might you have had on your Reading Page if you added this to it?
Plus, What's Going On In Gasoline Alley? May - August 2017 So that should clear some things up. And now the big moment ... our last ride on Mean Streak!
Catching the sunset behind Mean Streak as the green train makes one of its last ascents.
Finally! We waited for a front-seat ride and here we are, ready to get it when the green train pulls out.
Ride operator taking a picture for the people in the front row.
Our chariot awaits! The gold train approaching the station for what would be our final ride on Mean Streak. Note the hill it drops down, a bunch of gravitational potential energy that couldn't be put to some entertaining use.
The pall-bearers gathered as nearly off-stage as possible. The eulogy for Mean Streak was being delivered here, even as the ride was still, you know, crowded and running two trains. (The third had already been taken off and set up as a prop in the ride graveyard.)
o/` People take pictures of the summer ... o/` The funeral ceremony for Mean Streak, guarded by people recording or photographing the whole thing. Behind it, Mean Streak rumbles on, heedless of the jokes about how rough it supposedly was
Trivia: Light bulbs became a comic strip standard for representing inspiration only in the 1930s. Source: American Cornball: A Laffopedic Guide to the Formerly Funny, Christopher Miller.
Currently Reading: A Gambling Man: Charles II's Restoration Game, Jenny Uglow.