Yearly Archives: 2006

The Road to Mandalay

Rudyard Kipling is an interesting poet to study these days. His notions of the White Man’s Burden seem so outdated, yet his experiences in Colonial India have echoes in the actions of the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I had some music snippets and thought it would be a good exercise to fill them out using an existing poem as the basis for rhythm and structure.

I chose Kipling’s “Mandalay” because it had a structure that would work with what I already had melodically, and the verses are very visual.

The Road to Mandalay (mp3 2.32MB) is the simple demo.

It could use a bridge; it only has an A and B part now which gets repetitive after a few verses.

I heard a Sinatra version … Read the rest

Conversations with my Cabbie I

Walking home a little drunk at 3am, stop in at Kennedy Fried Chicken.
At this hour in this neighborhood, guys behind counters always seem happy to see a whitey stop in.
“What’s hot?”
“What’s ready?”
“Wings it is then. 6 pieces, please.”

Munching wings at 3:05am on 1st Ave, I see a guy sprawled out in the street near a cab, and the cabbie with his arms out, palms forward standing over him, who looks at me and asks if I can help drag the passed-out guy to the curb. I finish the wing I’m eating and put the rest in the pocket of my coat and take the drunk guy’s left armpit while the cabbie takes the right.

Drunkie starts to wake up … Read the rest

Escape to Obion | Episode 5: The Chemisphere

Episode 5: The Chemisphere (beta latest revision: 2006/3/2)

length: long

difficulty: hard

This game is more linear than the others, which is necessary because we’ve added level codes for the 4 levels in the game.

The levels represent junctures in the game that tell you that you’ve solved everything necessary to get to that point.
The puzzles get increasingly complicated in the game, but should not require taking notes in the way that #3 required.

Still, you will need to jot down a few things.
There is one musical puzzle in the game, but you should be able to get through even if you are unable to hear it, relying on the symbols instead.

edit 2006/3/2: Added better feedback on last two ‘locks’ that open ‘level … Read the rest

Conversations with my Mailman I

I first met my mailman when I happened to go out at the same time that he was putting in the mail, and I wasn’t sure whether I should just ask him to hand it to me or leave it for later.
But he saw me and asked, “you wanna take it?”
So I did, and we exchanged pleasantries before I left, carrying my mail with me around town for the next 9 hours or so.
(4 credit card offers, 1 bill, 1 other thing)

The next time I met my mailman was at the liquor store around the corner. The store probably has a name, but the sign outside just says, “Liquor” so I don’t know what else to call it.
I always see a … Read the rest

Roy G. Biv is Dead

Whoever came up with ‘Roy G. Biv’ as a memory aid for remembering color names had to scratch for vowels.

Red, Green, and Blue are necessary, of course as those are the three colors our eyes are ‘tuned’ to perceive, with all other colors being combinations of these primaries.

Yellow is a good addition, since although it isn’t a true primary, it is the brightest color we perceive since both red- and green-sensitive retina in our eyes are stimulated by it, making it appear nearly twice as bright as red or green alone.

So with RyGB we have three primaries and one secondary formed by combining red and green.

If we combine red and blue we get purple, which in some ways isn’t a true color … Read the rest


For eons, people have enjoyed mapping the musical scale to the color spectrum.

Despite knowing that music is waves in air and light is waves in electromagnetic fields, I decided to do a little research and math.

The color spectrum ranges from 384 to 769THz (terahertz)

By repeatedly doubling a note (say A, at 440Hz) we can find where it would actually fall in the electromagnetic spectrum.
In the case of A, we can find its relevant note many octaves (40 octaves, 240, or 1,099,511,627,776) up at 483,785,116,221,440 (~484THz) which puts it at the redder side of orange.

You can get comparable results by multiplying the original frequency by 1.1 to get it in terahertz.

notemidi notefrequency in center of audible, euphonious
Read the rest


Etymology lesson:


A thermostat is cybernetic in nature: There is a mechanism in place which keeps the room from getting too hot or too cold; it regulates things to ensure everything is in balance, that if something gets too far one direction, the system kicks on to bring it back in line.

Today, cybernetics is the “theoretical study of control processes, in electrical, mechanical, or biological systems, especially the mathematical analysis of the flow of information of such systems.” However, the original meaning of cybernetic referred to the person who steered or guided the ship through dangerous channels.

Cybernetic comes to us from the Greek word, kubernetes, meaing “pilot, governor,” which came from Greek kuberman, meaning, “to steer, guide.” Hence, if something is … Read the rest

Escape to Obion | Episode 3: The Alchemist’s Notebook

Episode 3: The Alchemist’s Notebook (latest revision: 2006/2/14)

length: medium long

difficulty: very hard

Not sure how long we can keep up a weekly publishing schedule before running out of ideas, but #3 is done.
This one is quite a bit trickier than the other two.
It’s less about stand-alone puzzles in the game (although the initial map puzzle, a “Bishop’s Square” – like a Rubik’s Cube jigsaw – can be a bit of a stumper) and more about comprehending subtle hints and gathering all the information necessary to get to the end.
You’ll probably need pencil and paper to keep track of everything.

edit 2006/2/14: added some additional hints in game

edit 2006/2/25: fixed error: in the Sun book, the symbol for ‘E’ was represented … Read the rest

Synthetic Creatures

Synthetic CreatureMaterialPersonalityNature of BirthDate
TalosBronzeAggressiveFashioned by HephaestusLike, 5,000 BC
Galatea (Pygmalion)StoneNot muchAphrodite Intervention“”
GolemClayCreepy, vengfulRabbis & God1579-ish
Gingerbread ManDoughRascally, with hubris??????
Frankenstein’s MonsterDead peopleVengefulScience1816
Tin Man, ScarecrowStraw, TinKindWitches1900
Tik TokMetalStalwartWitches again?1914
PinocchioWoodImpishFairy Intervention1914
Marius, Sulla, Radius, Damon, et al. *MetalHard-workingScience1921
The Robot from Fritz Lang’s MetropolisMetalNot muchScience1927
Loads of B-Movie robotsMetalSometimes good, usually badScience1950s – 1960s
$6-million ManDead Steve Austin + ‘Bionics’Good guyScience1974
See-Threepio (C3PO)MetalGayScience1977
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Escape to Obion | Episode 1: Fire and Ice

Episode 1: Fire and Ice (latest revision: 2006/2/11)

The first point-and-click adventure we’ve done, which is a surprise now since it’s so much easier to code than other sorts of games.

length: short

difficulty: medium

The challenge for the designer in this genre is in creating puzzles that are tough but not impossible. I think casual games players are a little more likely to get exasperated than they would be with a console or PC game.

edit 2006/2/11: added some additional hints in game… Read the rest