Lila’s first bicycle

I took off Tuesday from work to hang with my cousin, Peter.

After the recent death of his father, he was inspired to take up bicycling again for his health. I helped him buy a gravel bicycle. He also purchased a bicycle for his daughter, Lila.

We spent the day building and testing both bicycles and talking about a lot of stuff. Because we grew up six years apart on different coasts, this was the most time I think we’ve ever talked.

That morning Peter told Lila, “Uncle Terry’s going to come over while you’re in school and help me build your bicycle!” She asked if I’d still be there when she got back.

Well, even though I had insomnia the night before and gotten very little sleep, I had to stay. It was well worth it…

Lila's first bicycle!

Karen said Lila was telling everyone in her class how excited she is that she was getting a bicycle. Lila doesn’t know how to ride a bicycle just yet, but she already sticker-bombed her bike like a boss.

I wish them a long lifetime of happy trails. Hopefully, I’ll get to go on a couple rides with them.

2020-01-20 Australia: bush fires and how civilizations collapse

What is going on right now in Australia is horrible. It will, no doubt, make far future history books (if there is a civilization left) as an example of how we were staring obvious Collapse in the face, and said, “Whatever! I’d like more of that.”

This inspired Jay to mix his love of boardgaming and his bleeding heart to make this video on the game Hotshots and raise money for the bush fire release.

Continue reading about a socio-political irony after the jump

2020-01-25 Ree Family Eating SLC

Ree Family Eating SLC

My aunt, Gia sent this photo to the group on January 25, 2020.

On the back of the photo is written:

Around table: Mrs. Ree, Dr Francis (bro., dr,. physics), Joan, Dr. Alexis T. (dr. chem), Bernadetter (languages, psychology), Taresa (chemistry).
SEP 60 Miss 38A 0%

Given the misspelling of my mom’s name, I have a feeling this was an outtake from this article which was published later. This photo, unlike the others, has Francis in it, which makes sense as that was just before he went looking for a job with his newly-minted Ph.D. (beating my mom by a single semester).

As expected, even in a posed photo, Francis is enjoying eating.

January 21

On January 21st, as I was down with the flu, I received this e-mail from my cousin:

Hi everyone,

My dad passed away this afternoon very peacefully. My brother played a song that reminded my dad of his parents. My dad opened his eyes and looked directly at Peter – the first time he’s done this in many days – and then waited for my mom to come to the room, and then passed away.

We haven’t figured out yet when the funeral will be but I will let you know as soon as it’s decided.

Thanks everyone. It’s been a long journey and also a very special one.


I had a task entry for over a year, “blog about Francis” which I finally deleted yesterday. It has a huge number of notes, and in a different time I might revisit them. There is so much to write about my Uncle, I don’t know where to begin.

Continue reading some past Francis stories after the jump

The “conversation”

Read this today:

…that conversation is never going to be had. I’m already running into Trump-voting motherfuckers – people who said so, frequently online, the receipts are there – who now deny ever having done so. If that fucker loses in 2020, you’re gonna see so many people forget who Trump is that it’ll scare you, you’ll think all us white folks got some kind of new brain disease.

So true.

13 hundred engineers…

I get a lot of cold-email outreach tech spam. It’s especially insidious because they automate the personalization and do repetitive outreach, so I have to read a little bit before I ignore it.

Without embarrassing anyone, here is one such example I got today…

Good Morning your first name,

I hope this finds you well. I am following up on a note I had written to you last week. I completely understand your busy schedules, wanted to connect with you at your convenient time.

I see great synergies between your company name scraped from LinkedIn and X— and would be glad to explore synergies to work together towards to address your product development /engineering needs.

X— is an engineering team of 1300+ engineers…

After I read the second sentence, I filed it away, but my peripheral vision caught the beginning of the third, and I recalled that message.

1300+ engineers? Holy shit! What sort of business can you build with 1300+ engineers, I wondered. The Mythical Man-Month tells us that “adding manpower to a late software project makes it later” so by this math, you couldn’t even change a lightbulb with so many engineers.

So I had to pull up what this company does, which is my engineering equivalent of slowing down to look at a car wreck. Here is the first bullet point in the previous e-mail.

  • Certify your products through comprehensive Test beds to automate the build and QA cycles

Stop right there. Why the fuck would I want to automate my QA? You have 1300+ engineers, you can make them run all my test suites by hand. It’d probably be better output too because they must be some really shitty engineers.

(If you have 1300+ engineers and you are not one of the FAANGs, you are doing it wrong.)

Some thoughts on Card Drafting

I decided to get back into board gaming, and ended up getting or playing the following games recently:

Last time I tried a board game was 2012. My girlfriend set up a surprise birthday for me over where we played a new game I had bought on a whim, Lords of Waterdeep (BGG Rank #51).

I am mentioning these games because all of those games happen to use a game mechanic I hadn’t seen when I was a serious board gamer in the 1980’s: card drafting. However, card drafting is a very popular mechanic today. In fact, over one third of the top 100 games on Board Game Geek use it!

The first time I had even seen this mechanic was when I ran across an early euro game known as Web of Power from 2000. Someone corrected me and said that, “there’s quite a number of earlier examples of drawing from a pool of face-up cards than WoP.” Well it was new to me in 2000!

Indeed almost 7600 games have been categorized as using the mechanic, and there are some examples in the early 1900’s using it, but nobody has heard of those games. This got me curious as to what are the earliest examples that might have influenced game designers?

Using the top 1000 as the cutoff, it looks like the first game to have this mechanic was El Grande in 1994. The next year, it won the Spiel des Jahres which must be what got people adding it to eurogames. That same year it looks like Wizards of the Coast modified Magic: The Gathering to create their smash hit Pokémon. Soon we find Elfenland, the Spiel des Jahres winner in 1998, Kahuna, a Spiel des Jahres recommended title in 1999. and Union Pacific, a Spiel des Jahres nominee also in 1999. This is followed by the aforementioned Web of Power which shares its birth year with Taj Mahal, Citadels, and  La Città, all four became Spiel des Jahres recommendations. Wow! Thanks, El Grande, and I guess, Pokémon!

Card Drafting, where have you been all these years?

My guess is if Illuminati (1982), a game I played as a kid, were made today, it would have that mechanic in it. But instead it has card drawing and then playing from the hand. In fact, Fog of Love has that same mechanic, and this is not actually card-drafting. And I think this explains is why the card-drafting mechanic is so popular: it adds an element of strategy through public information (you can choose to draft a card instead of drawing by luck). Games have moved into euro mechanics that want more public-facing strategy and less private hand-holding random draws, so we see more and more card-drafting.

Web of Power actually allows a choice/tradeoff: public drafting of a known card or private drawing of a random card. That’s something to keep in mind because I happen to think that balance between random ameritrash and dry eurogame mechanics are needed to make a good game today.

2019-02-08 Uncle Francis’s review on the movie “Roma”

From Uncle Francis:

After thinking the movie over this afternoon, it is a good movie after all. Writer & director Alfonso Cuarón is telling us about a woman’s story – mostly sad without explicitly saying so.

1. mistreatment & abandonment by her boyfriend;
2. pain of losing her baby before birth; and
3. camaraderie of humanity irrespective of the race & age as depicted by saving two children from the sea.

I especially liked the last scene after rescuing two young children abd getting holding shoulder to shoulder with children around the bonfire.


I think it may win the best picture academy award – a beautiful cinematography anyway.

Software engineering surveys are unintentionally hilarious

So… this was in my inbox today…

Most Loved/Hated Programming languages according to Hired
#PythonIsSexyAgain #NowPictureGuidoVanRossumNaked #SEXY? #NowTryGettingThatPictureOutOfYourMind #GlobalInterpreterLockAmIRight?
#EverythingIsAwesome #JavaCanDoEverything #JavaIsAwesome #NoWaitMaybeNot

(There are many other gems in there, like any good tragicomedy.)