Life and sleep deprivation.

11 August 2009

Disclaimer: I got three hours of sleep last night because my sleep schedule is screwed. This post will probably not make a whole lot of sense.

Lyssa and I organized craft night at our place on Friday evening and put the word out for folks to come over and work on stuff. There isn’t much else that you can say about that, really – I’ve been experimenting with Arch Linux on my netbook to get a sense for whether or not it will work for my purposes. I would eventually like to use my EeePC as a wearable computer for performing music at some point but I can’t really do that until I’m more familiar with it. Thus, I’m setting it up as an ultraportable workstation to put it through its paces. I don’t like putting anything into service until I understand it backwards and forwards in case something goes pear-shaped. Hasufin worked on a couple of leather projects that he’s had in the pipeline, Mika studied, Lyssa painted, and Keely worked on a cross-stitch that will eventually be a gift for two friends getting married. Earlier in the evening Keely and I ran out to pick up pizza for everyone (Ledo’s doesn’t deliver) which nearly turned into an adventure because I was running on decidedly lower blood sugar levels than usual.

Let me tell you, when you haven’t had anything to eat in approximately twelve hours the world’s an amazingly interesting place. Perception of sound gets wonky, touch gets dull, and the smallest, dumbest things are downright fascinating. By ‘fascinating’, I mean that I simply can’t figure out what something like a shoe or a steering wheel is without investigating it thoroughly. As you might imagine, this doesn’t make it easy to drive in DC traffic safely, hence, why I asked Keely to do so at the time.

I can’t help but wonder sometimes if my body’s propensity for hypoglycemia betides health problems later in life. Diabetes runs in my family, unfortunately.

Lyssa and I got up rather later than was probably wise on Saturday morning, seeing as how we had places to be and a considerable distance to travel to get there. Rialian and Helen had invited us to their house in the countryside of West Virginia, a good two hour drive from DC. After getting ready and gassing up the TARDIS we got on the beltway and drove northward to Maryland to pick up Bronwyn and then stopped off for lunch at Plato’s Diner in nearby College Park. The food and service weren’t bad, and after getting our brains back online we stopped off at Ikea so that Lyssa could pick up a couple of things for a project that she’s been working on while Bronwyn and I hunted for parking. Last weekend was a sales tax-free weekend in the DC metroplex so everyone and their backup had invaded malls and stores to buy stuff. Around 1530 EST5EDT we set out westward once again, in the general direction of West Virginia.

The drive to Mithlond wasn’t bad – as they go, it’s a straight shot until you get to the countryside, and then navigation is a matter of sharp eyes, blind luck, and faith that the directions we were sent were accurate. If you go far enough out into the country, everything starts looking like a gravel road. Thankfully we were still within range of a cell tower so Lyssa was able to call Rialian, who then met us as the end of his driveway and directed us to our final destination. We got there in time to meet up with a few folks from the New York contingent, Jason, Jenna, and Usi. We wound up sitting around on the back porch for a couple of hours shooting the bull, catching up, and discussing projects that we were working on. Usi’s never-ending quest for books to read got us onto the topic of literature and we tossed some ideas around. My taste in books is sufficiently idiosyncratic that I’m not sure I added a whole lot to the conversation, but I try.

Rialian was kind enough to appraise me of the net.access situation in his area. Mithlond appears to be using a satellite link for their datafeed, and more’s the point it isn’t the kind that uses a dialup modem for upload and the dish for download. I don’t know who set it up for them (though we tried to figure it out), but from what I can tell they did a good job. Apparently, the Museum of Country Music is across the valley from Mithlond, so of course I set about seeing if I could hit it from an unknown distance away. Once in a great while Windbringer could catch a beacon or two but there was no way that he could associate with the access point. The average link quality for that AP was 2/70, or in other words, not happening without heavy duty equipment. All through the early evening various and sundry people were at work in the kitchen preparing various dishes for a pot luck dinner – pasta, chicken, a salad made with greens grown in the garden, Kiarrth’s pear crisp – which we nibbled on late into the evening. Unfortunately the vegetable stew wasn’t done by the time we left, and wouldn’t be until late the next evening.

Somehow, probably because we’re all geeks, we wound up discussing games while sitting around in Ri and Helen’s living room. Mark brought up a game that he’s played around with off and on over the years called Dwarf Fortress by Bay 12 Games, which appears to be a strategy game that incorporates elements reminiscent of Diablo I and II, Dungeon Keeper, Nethack, and a few others that I don’t recall. Like the game Elite, Dwarf Fortress generates a playing field whenever there isn’t one (say, if you restart the game) pseudo-randomly through a process called procedural content generation, in which a richly detailed world can be created by running some comparatively simple algorithms with a couple of pseudo-random numbers as seends rather than designing the whole thing up front. Another example of this, and a more astounding one I think, is the game .kkrieger (not Sure Shot, as I’d erroneously said) from .theprodukkt, which fits into less than 100k of disk space (no, I’m not kidding). From there we moved on to RPGs, and we found ourselves trying to explain Mage to Usi, who hasn’t really played an RPG before, or at least not with a good group by the sound of things.

I forgot how difficult it was to explain something so open-ended to someone who wasn’t a gamer. It’s humbling, in a way.

Around 2330 EST5EDT Lyssa, Bronwyn, and I said our good-byes and departed Mithlond for home. Jason was kind enough to lead us back to town, whereupon we stocked up on some supplies for the trip back and eventually found our way back to route 70 eastbound, whereupon it’s more or less a straight shot back to DC. We stopped briefly at the House of Leaves to drop Bronwyn off and then arrived safely back home around 0230 EST5EDT on Sunday morning, though I didn’t actually fall asleep until 0300 or so, much to my chagrin. Lyssa and I woke up somewhen around noon on Sunday, and after showering and placing a couple of phone calls we met up with Hasufin and Keely to go to lunch at the Gordon Biersch at Tyson’s Corner Mall. If you’re looking for a relatively healthy lunch I highly recommend a bowl of their tomato-basil soup and the hummus and goat cheese salad (grilled chicken breast optional). I guarantee that it’ll fill you up in no time flat, and it’s tasty to boot. After lunch (by now it was around 1630 EST5EDT) we split up to bum around the mall for a while. I raided Radio Shack for parts but discovered that I can only mock up one string of my laser synthitar at the moment because it’s trivially easy to clean the Shack out of components these days. I wasn’t able to find any 1 meg Ohm resistors and had to make do with a variable resistor that topped out at that value, but even that’s going to require a good bit of soldering so that I can use it with a breadboard. Note to self: dig the spools of hookup wire out of my junk box.

After returning home, Hasufin went back to his place while Lyssa camped out in the office to play video games, Keely worked on some stuff for work, and I started teaching myself to use kicad, which is an electronics design package. Because Lyssa and I weren’t in any shape for dinner at the time (because our respective lunches were still sitting like the proverbial brick) Keely headed over to Hasufin and Mika’s place for dinner. You’ve already seen my sleep deprived review of G.I. Joe so I won’t subject you to any more about that particular movie.

And so, to sleep.