Saturday, May 27, 2017

47th Birthday, Part 3 - Easy Targets


"Renewed shall be the blade that was broken
The crownless again shall be king."
The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkein

Recap: As part of my annual birthday exploration of new things, I took a blacksmithing class in Oakland.  Due to an error originating at the highest levels of Google (curse you, Larry Page!) I found myself two hours early for class in an unfamiliar city.

In every work of modern literature (usually around chapter 3) the author diverts from the main storyline to introduce a subplot involving Pokemon Go.  If you're not familiar with Pokemon Go, it's a game where you play the part of an illegal animal trapper.  You walk around in the real world, catching wild creatures, and forcing them to fight in cage matches until they are beaten unconscious.  When you find more vicious monsters, you can send them away to be turned into candy the others eat to grow strong.

You know, a standard kids game. I play Pokemon Go for my son.  He likes to see what I catch.
I just manage the Pokedex and walk to incubate new monsters.  I also make sure I catch one monster and visit one Pokestop a day to get the bonus.  Sometimes I rush off in the middle of writing to catch new Pokemon.  Sometimes I rush off during meals to catch new ones.  Sometimes I rush off when hanging out with friends, or seeing movies, or during invasive medical procedures.

I let my son evolve the monsters I catch into a new form. I don't do it myself, because I play for him.  I wait until he's out of school (sometimes for hours) to find out he doesn't appreciate that I waited for him.  I mean I was the one who rushed over to a park to catch enough Chikoritas to evolve our Bayleef, and all he had to do was tap the evolve button, but he's the one who gets to name the damn thing, and what kind of name is Basil Buttface for a Bayleef? I mean if anything it should be called Bay Laurel Buttface.

The day I was going to start my blacksmithing class, I realized I had a bunch of eggs that were going to hatch at the same time, giving me a bunch of experience.  I was also going to get my big bonus for visiting Pokestops and catching Pokemon seven days in a row.  I also had a bunch of monsters to evolve: more experience.  And I also had a free Lucky Egg, an item that lets you double your experience for a short time.

So, I was sitting around at The Crucible for two hours with nothing to do in downtown Oakland and a whole dump of experience I could get.  So, I I turned on the GPS and (after half an hour of arguing with it) started off on the two mile walk to the closest Peet's.  Holding out my phone out in front of me, I activated the Lucky Egg.

I evolved 10 Pokemon.
I passed by this campsite.

I hatched six Pokemon.
I passed by this building.

I got a latte.
I got the 7 day bonus for catching a Pokemon and the 7 day bonus for visiting a Pokestop.
I headed back to the school.
I saw some of this kind of art.


In the end, I got enough experience to go up a level. 

All in all, I had a good walking experience.  I returned to The Crucible and waited for the teacher.
He showed us around the facility ("Here's TIG welding." "Here's neon." "Never go in this room." "Here's the bathroom."), and explained how to be safe while blacksmithing ("Point the hot metal down when you walk." "Stop, drop, and roll." "Touch someone on the shoulder while passing from behind.").  Finally, he gave one vital piece of advice:

"We're in The Hood, here.  Be careful when you're outside.  Lock your car doors.  Keep your money hidden.  Above all, don't walk around your phone out in front of you; that just makes you an easy target."

I laughed.  "Ha. Ha. Ha.  What idiot would do that?  Ha. Ha."

Then I ran down the block to catch a rare, "shiny" Pikachu.  You know, for my son.

Friday, May 19, 2017

47th Birthday, Part 2 - GPS


Recap: The night before I was to start my blacksmithing class, I realized it was in Oakland.  As I live far away, I figured the drive would be long, but not the two hours Google Maps said.

I arranged with my (disgruntled) wife for her to pick up and drop off the kids; if I was gone from dawn to dusk, I wouldn't be able to take them to school and other appointments.  I packed a lunch and a water bottle and snacks.

I grabbed Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls.  If I was going to put in 30 hours of driving, I needed something to entertain me besides NPR pledge breaks and road accidents. David Sedaris would enthrall me with fanciful tales of his fatty tumors.

I headed towards the highway, started the audiobook, and turned on my phone's GPS.

Me: Navigate to The Crucible, Oakland.
GPS: You will reach your destination in two and a half hours.
Me: Fabulous.  Let's go.
GPS: Do not get on the highway.
Me: Oh, is there an accident?
David Sedaris: French doctors are weird.
GPS: Go around the bay.
Me: Around the bay?  The bay is this big...  Lake-like thingy.
GPS: It's a broad inlet.
Me: They could just call it a lake.  I don't know why we have so many different words for water and the land that's near it: bay, peninsula, isthmus, spit.  Makes me wonder if cartographers get paid by the word.
David Sedaris: "There's a story behind this," the man said, handing me the severed arm...
GPS: I said to go around the bay.
Me: You're wrong.  The bay is huge.  That's why California built three bridges over it.  It'll take forever to go around it.
GPS: One of us is in constant contact with supercomputers and satellites to figure out the quickest route.  That one is not you.  Go around the bay.
David Sedaris: My father once half-strangled a small child in front of me.  I love my family.
Me: Are you sure you're using the right preposition?  In 9th grade, Mrs. Bengtson made us memorize a list of prepositions in alphabetical order.
GPS: I know what "about" means.
Me: I can still recite them.
GPS: Please don't.
Me: About above across after against along among around butt by before between beneath beyond-
GPS: Butt?
Me: Not sure where that came from.
David Sedaris: Obama!!!
GPS: Now, take the Central Expressway.
Me: What?!
GPS: You don't have to yell at me.
Me: That'll take me in the entirely wrong direction!
GPS: It's the only way to go if we're avoiding highways.
David Sedaris: Then my father beat me with his belt for singing too loud.  I love my family.
Me: I'm sorry, what?
GPS: We have to take Central Expressway if we're avoiding highways.
Me: Why would we avoid highways?
GPS: You told me to.
Me: I did not.
GPS: Sure you did.  Saturday, when you were driving through San Francisco and wanted to avoid traffic.  You set me to "Avoid highways."
Me: How long will it take me to get there if I took highways?
GPS: 45 minutes.
Me: I'm putting you on mute now.
David Sedaris: Now that gays were able to marry, I shot my wife and pregnant daughter.


I arrived at The Crucible two hours early.  I immediately started my Pokemon Go/homeless camp experience, which we'll have to cover next week.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

47th Birthday, Part 1 - Decisions and Maps


"Gendry was only spared because smiths, even apprentice smiths, were too valuable to kill."

A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin


I have a list of things I'd like to do on my birthdays.  Every year, I go through each item on the list one by one.  I think about the pros and cons until I find the experience I liked best.  This year, I went through the list like this:

  • Make movie
    "Meh, sounds like a lot of work.  And I don't know a lot of actors."
  • Learn cooking
    "It'd be nice to see what I have in the kitchen and improvise something great.  Oh, wait.  I have children.  Children hate food with flavor."
  • Get Tattoo
    "Pretty sure the Tattoo is dead."
  • Forge sword
    "I've always wanted to make a sword.  I mean, I have a shield.  It doesn't mean anything without a cool sword you made yourself.  Plus, there's the badass factor."
See, I'm not making this up.
I've never made it to full badass-level.

I know how to fence and shoot a gun.  I've trained in Muay Thai, Tae Kwan Do, Boxing, Judo, and Hapkido.  I've gone on quests to battle monsters and protect fair maidens.  I've jumped off a plane.  I've had my hair bleached without succumbing to the pain.

The beginning of Dune where the main character gets blonde highlights.
But I was still not a badass.  It was decided.

I would find a master who would teach me the art of swordcrafting.  Then, like Sokka in Avatar: the Last Airbender, I would go from being the quirky, comic relief to a dashing hero with a rapier (wit).

The first step was to find a master.

When I was in San Jose a year ago, I heard about a place where you could learn blacksmithing called The Crucible.  I went online and reserved a spot in the Blacksmithing I class.  I would study several hours a day for a week, then I would take Blacksmithing II, and then I would take Bladesmithing.

Then I would be a Real Man.

The day before the class, I looked up the address of the school.  Then I rubbed my eyes and looked it up again.  Then I checked a few websites and looked it up again. 

Then I had a panic attack.

I'd made a small error.  The Crucible wasn't in San Jose; it was in Oakland.  It wouldn't take me 20 minutes to get to class each day.

It would take me nearly three hours.

Next week: my ingenious solution to the problem of having to pick up and drop off kids from school while doing nearly six hours of driving a day and having three hours of class.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

I Suck at Vacations

When we go on family vacations, everybody has a job.

My father makes plane and hotel reservations.  My brother finds things for the family to do.  My mother anticipates problems and solves them before they happen.  My wife packs.

I complain.

I've never liked vacations.  I never "got" them.  I don't get why you'd spend money on a vacation.  I don't get why you'd go through all the effort to pack your clothes up and wake up early to fly somewhere and stay in a hotel.

Most of all, I don't get what's so great about the places people go.

Why do people like to beaches?  Is it the sand?  I can buy it in bags and spread it around on the back porch?  Is it the water?  We have a bathtub.  Is it the miles of screaming kids and overweight guys in tiny swimsuits?  I'll put on my Speedo and sit next to you and make annoying noises.

Why do people like camping?  Nobody actually chops down trees to make firewood, fishes for dinner, and shoots a bear for a blanket to keep warm at night.  You know what you do camping?  You sit.  You don't cut down trees for firewood.  Heck, you can't even collect fallen branches; there are signs everywhere that say not to.  You can't fish for food, because that's bad for the environment (and time consuming).  You can't shoot a bear because they get mad.  And, again, you're surrounded by fat guys not wearing enough clothes.

If I'm going to be forced to go on vacations, at least I want to do something.  Go on a ride on a submarine, see rare snakes, plot the downfall of fascism, rescue an ancient artifact, shoot a guy with a sword, steal a Nazi uniform.

Okay, that's Indiana Jones, but at least he would take me on a fun trip.  Also, there's only one fat guy and at least he doesn't wear a Speedo.


Saturday, April 29, 2017

How to Be an American: An Assimilation Guide for Immigrants

[UNOFFICIAL DRAFT - NOT TO BE DISTRIBUTED TO NEW CITIZENS]

Hello, invader and potential terrorist! 

If you've passed the immigration test then you know the names of all the presidents, the full text and importance of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.  You know the dates of all our wars and their causes (not slavery, no matter what the Northerners say).

But ask yourself: do you know what it means to truly be an American?

Is it having a gun?  Driving a giant car?  Is it neglecting personal hygiene and common courtesy?
No.  Being an American is more than that.  It's a culture.  To be a Real American, you have to throw aside your beliefs and style of living.

Some handy tips:
  • Lose the accent
    There's only one American accent: YELLING AT PEOPLE WITH ACCENTS.
  • Eat American food
    Traditional American meal plan:


Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
Sunday
Breakfast
Bacon
Ham
Sausage
Eggs
Sugar Smacks
Lucky Charms
Steak
Lunch
McDonalds
Taco Bell
Burger King
Arby's
Wendy's
Subway
KFC
Dinner
BBQ
Fried Chicken
Pizza
Salisbury Steak
BBQ
Hot Dog
Double Burger

Don't forget, American food is plentiful.  If you can see your feet, you're not American enough
  • Complexion
    Americans have, um, clear skin.  Apply one of the following makeup colors: chalk, porcelain, or cream.  Make sure you cover everything.
Before and after
  • Entertainment
    Buy the biggest TV you can and get the most expensive cable package. Get either an XBOX or a Switch.  Don't get a Playstation.  Those are made in Japan.
  • Buy a Kindle, but never use it.  Just put it on your end table so people think you read.

    Music is limited to Country, Rock and Roll, and Hip-Hop, and Disco.  Celine Dion is American, no matter what her birth certificate says.  Rap music is foreign and causes kids to have premarital sex and kill white people each other.
  • News
    Remember the transitive property of mainstream media:
    Everyone is biased
    Therefore every news outlet is biased
    Conclusion = you can only trust Fox News, Breitbart, Trump's Twitter feed, and whatever meme your friends post on Facebook.
  • Political Involvement
    Don't.
  • Religion
    Christian.  You don't have to go to Church or read the Bible.  Just yell at anyone who doesn't wish you a Merry Christmas.


These are a great start.  Soon, you'll be bombing foreign countries and threatening foreigners just like the rest of us!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Libraries

I have an affinity for libraries.  I married a librarian.  I own a card catalog.
I even built the stand.
You don't know what a card catalog is?  Oh good grief.

For centuries, you found a book in a library by looking through drawers of little cards with the titles printed on them.  I grew up in a city with one of the first libraries to use a computer instead of a card catalog.

I remember I was surprised when I saw a giant IBM-PC sitting in the middle of the nonfiction section. I went over and did a search on the first (and let's face it, only) thing that crossed my mind: SEX.

Nothing happened.  This was in the days before graphical user interfaces.  If you did anything wrong, if you mistyped a single character, you'd have to start again from scratch.
I shall tell you of this SEX, pimply human.
Seeing my consternation, a librarian came over and loudly declared: "SEX? THAT'S A POPULAR TOPIC THESE DAYS. I CAN HELP YOU FIND SEX. LET ME PRESS THE SEX KEYS. HERE, NOW YOU'RE LOOKING AT SEX. I HOPE I HELPED YOU FIND ALL THE SEX IN THE LIBRARY."

Hundreds of books scrolled down the screen.  Several minutes later, I figured out the key combination for "For the love of God, please turn this off."

A few minutes later: "HEY, YOU TURNED OFF A LISTING OF ALL THE BOOKS IN THE LIBRARY THAT ARE ABOUT SEX. DID YOU FIND THE SEX YOU WERE LOOKING FOR?"

I didn't go into a library again until I graduated high school.  My father took me from college to college so we could choose one for me.

In the 80s, college tours always included a trip to see the library.  Back then, the internet was just six computers hooked together with wires and geek semen; if you wanted to do a research paper, you'd have to hit the library.

But how do you know if a library was good or not?  They all looked like big buildings filled with books.  I asked my father how he could tell if a library was good.  He walked to the nearest computer and typed in: SEX.

Just kidding.  He typed in his own last name: KAGLE.  Three books appeared: two of his and one of my mom's.

He smiled.  "Not a bad library.  A great library would have had four or five.  Three is okay."
Ever since that day, when I went into a new library I would search for my last name.  I almost never found anything.

As I write this, I'm sitting in the Los Altos library, where I just did this test.  Okay, I typed in SEX first, but KAGLE came next.  None of my fathers' books came up, nor my mothers' but MINE DID.
Here it is on the "Nobel Prize for Literature" shelf
They have all my books.
Actually, no you didn't buy it with tax funds.  I donated it.


Not a bad library. 

Saturday, April 15, 2017

!!!!Pinhole Sweepstakes!!!!!!

When I was writing this blog every weekday, I found it easier to come up with topics.  Everything I noticed while writing became a post.  Some examples:

  • Why are Starbucks bathrooms so dirty?
  • Hey, I got a free drink today because the barista screwed up!
  • Why did they take away the comfy chairs and put in wooden ones?
  • I think I'm going to start working at Peet's.
  • The nice old couple I met at the coffee shop.
  • Dear God, why do they keep talking to me?
  • Why is the homeless guy who yells at his newspaper always next to me?

However, since I've been only writing once a week, I feel like my posts should be more substantial, but I've run out of substantial material.  Every week has been a struggle, so I'm willing to spend money to come up with blog posts.

That's where Amazon saved my bacon.  They created a new way of marketing your book: the sweepstakes.  You decide how to choose a winner (random, in order they come, etc.), you decide how many prizes you want to give out, and you pick what the contestant has to do to win.

The conditions were the hard part.  I couldn't think of a poll.  I didn't want to make people follow me on or tweet something.

And who the heck is Yuval Noah Harari?!
I did, however, want to make the world a better place, and what better way to do so than by increasing the flagging sales of my book working against anti-intellectualism while spreading the gospel of Tim Minchin*?

So, here's the deal: click here to watch Tim Minchin's Storm and I'll buy you a copy of my novel Pinhole.  It's only for the first twenty people, so if you've already got one or are too late, here's the video:


And voila!  A new blog post for only $20!

*Pleasedon'tsuemepleasedon'tsuemepleasedon'tsueme

Sunday, April 9, 2017

47

There was a strange rash of the number 47 in my life recently.  While working on my son's pinewood derby car, I saw his last one.

I started playing a new game, whose main character's first name is 47.

I watched an episode of Star Trek the Next Generation (Frame of Mind) where Commander Riker is imprisoned in Ward 47.

I was looking up the first home I owned (Unit 47).
No, those aren't my decorations.

My wife works in building 47.

"What is up with all the forty sevens?!" I cried to the sky.
"You're about to turn forty seven." the sky called back.
"Ohhhhh!  Thank you sky."
"No problem.  Also, it's going to rain tomorrow.  You'll want to cover the grill."

All both of you who read my blog know I do something wacky on my birthday.  However, this year I have to do something especially wacky because it's a birthday where I turn a number ending in 7.  Birthdays that end in 7 have a special significance for me.  

A quick review of all my past "7s Birthdays."

7 Years Old
A few days after my 7th birthday, I went to the first showing of Star Wars.  I went from being someone who hated science fiction to someone who wanted to write it someday.

17 Years Old
The day after my 17th birthday, the USS Stark was hit by missiles and 47 sailors died.
I'm not into conspiracy theories, but 47 sailors died.  47.  This year is my 47th birthday.  See?  SEE?  Connect the dots, people.
Of course, the Lamestream Media will point out that only 37 were killed (21 wounded), but this Wikipedia page (but not this one) says 47, and the standard rule with conspiracy theories is to ignore contradicting info.

27 Years Old
At 27 I came face to face with my own mortality.  I was in the parking lot of a Borders Bookstore in Redwood City, California when I thought:

I'm 27.
27 is nearly 30.
When you turn 30, you're no longer young.
30 is nearly 40.
40 is pretty much 50.
50 is halfway to 100.
Almost nobody makes it to 100.
27 is 100 is dead.
I'm going to die soon.

37 Years Old
On my 37th birthday I found out I was going to be a father (which was a shock, as I already was one).

47 Years Old
So, I'm working on what to do on my birthday.  It has to be awesome.  Some ideas I'm toying with:

In honor of my 7th birthday: Break into George Lucas's home and leave him a cake.
In honor of my 17th birthday: Re-enact the attack on the USS Stark.  Only with marshmallows and blowtorches.
In honor of my 27th birthday: Find a Borders.
In honor of my 37th birthday: Have another child.

And then there's:
Blacksmithing classes.  I could make 47 horseshoes.
Take film classes and make a movie 47 minutes long.
I've never done a cartwheel.  I could do 47 of them.
Learn to bike without using my hands.  Bike 47 miles (326 km for those using the metric system)


So, any thoughts?  I'll take the first 47 suggestions.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

GDC 2017: The Final Chapter

Well, I've just about sucked every last drop of bloggable stuff from my GDC experience.  So, here's a few, random recollections to make me feel better for taking so many pictures.

Last year, I started going to parties (on the advice of "friends").  It's a daunting experience as there's a lot of parties.

The list of parties I planned on attending (a tiny fraction).
GDC parties are a special kind of awful.  Loud.  Alcohol-infused.  Dark.  Tons of people you don't know and can neither see nor talk to.

But I went.  Because my "friends" told me to.

I went to a Zynga party at their offices.  You remember Zynga, right?  They did FarmVille.  They did Flash games on Facebook.  Then Facebook games died.  Then Flash games died.  Then they died.

Yeah, about that.  This is their entry hall:


Some shots of their cafeteria:
 

Zynga didn't die.  They still have money.  A.  Whole lot.  Of.  Money.

I went to three IGDA parties.  At one, there was a whiteboard set up for #ResistJam.  


Game jams events where developers get together for a day or two and make a game as quickly as possible.  There's usually a theme (TrainJam, for example, is entirely coded on a train going from Chicago to San Francisco).  ResistJam is about making games about resisting authority.  *COUGH* Trump *COUGH*

At the top, the whiteboard said "I RESIST BECAUSE..." and you were supposed to fill out the rest.  I grabbed a pen and, in a fury of energy (and caffeine) I wrote:
I resist because I am the 1%.  Because I am white and cis and male.  Because my parents were great and I never wanted.  Because I can afford healthcare for my sick kids. BECAUSE IT WON'T HURT ME, it is my duty to act for those it will hurt....

Later, I walked by and someone wrote:
I was gonna write something, but this sums it up.

My ego insisted I take a picture.  And blog about it.  And get a tattoo.
If you agree with something I say, I'll take a picture of that, too.

I saw some weird stuff on the show floor.
A booth made entirely out of cardboard.
Even the chairs were made of cardboard.

This guy, who created the first (perhaps) MMO.

It wasn't very good.

One of the Power Rangers from the new movie.  It's held together with a lot of Scotch Tape.  What is that diamond shape thingy on the chest supposed to be?  It's really just a picture of a nebula or something.

Someone submitted a game to the Independent Game Festival and got selected to show it off.  Instead he or she came up with a clever marketing ploy.

"Please just buy the game! (on iOS appstore) and play it on your flight home! expo is too noisy."
There were some bizarre games built around alternate interfaces.
You play the upper half of a dismembered zombie and have to crawl along the floor to eat someone.
A game about finding the right book on a bookshelf.
And something about using a cat tree.  I didn't play it.
This Vectrex depressed me.  A lot.
*sad horn*
The Vectrex is an ancient home game system.  When I got my first job teaching game development (at the Art Institute of California - San Francisco) I met the librarian -- Jamie MacInnis -- who had helped build the prototype.

This particular Vectrex was being showed off by Sunnyvale's Digital Games Museum. When I mentioned I knew MacInnis, they asked to be connected so they could interview her.

I did a search and found the Jamie MacInnis Facebook page.
Then I realized the Facebook page was for the Jamie MacInnis-Library.
Then I realized the Facebook page was for the Jamie MacInnis Memorial Library.

Tell people you like them while you still can.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

GDC 2017: Kate Edwards and the Temple of IGDA


This is Kate Edwards, the Grand Poobah* of the International Game Developer's Association.  If you don't know her, she's had a pretty amazing life.

In her childhood, she met Stan Lee, the author of many of Marvel Comics' principal characters (Spider m\Man, Fantastic Four, etc).  According to Lee's autobiography, he considered turning Thor into a recurring villain for Hercules to fight, but he didn't seem right.  Traditionally, Thor was crude, boorish and...  Well, see for yourself:
The traditional view of Thor
But after a few hours meeting with young Edwards, he came up with a new design:
Edwards is on the left.
Sometimes we make fun of her by pointing out how much Marvel's Thor looks like her.  However, we make fun of what happened with her and Lucas even more.

Edwards went to college and graduated with degrees in cartography, geography, and anthropology.  She gave a talk on an ancient Hovitos artifact that was attended by George Lucas who later made...  Well, see for yourself.
Edwards is on the ri-  Left?  Yeah, left.
She takes all of the jokes at her expense with poise and grace, which brings us to the present.

Edwards said she was going to Cairo, and I asked her to pick up something for me so we could re-enact the most memorable scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark.

No, not that one.
No, not that one.
No, not that one.
I mean in the beginning when the bad guy (Belloq) steals the statue from Jones.

That one.
So, yeah, she went to Egypt.  And, yeah, she bought me something.
When's the last time the head of your professional association got you something from Cairo?
We meet up at GDC and I grab the statue from her:

Me: So, Doctor Edwards, we see once again there's nothing you possess that I can not take away from you.

Edwards: It's too bad the game development community doesn't know you like I do.

Me: It's too bad you don't speak Unity.

And then she shot a guy who threatened her with a sword and my face melted off.  
Edwards is the statuesque blonde on the left.  I'm the short, fat guy on the right.
Next year, she'll get me something from Asgard.




* Poobah isn't her actual title.  It's Supreme Exalted Commander.

Friday, March 17, 2017

GDC 2017: Setting My Hand on Fire

I've been doing wacky things for my birthday for a few years now.  I re-enacted a scene from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (on my 42nd, of course).  I jumped out of an airplane.  I donated to charities.

You know, weird stuff.  Also things I've always wanted to do.

A few years ago I went to Hawaii and attended a luau.  One of the entertainers was a fire-knife dancer from Samoa who set himself on fire.  On purpose.  Part of his act was to set his palm on fire and try to get people to shake his hand.
"Hi, my names Joe. Pleased to m- AAIAIAIAIEEE!"
I assumed he was covered in some kind of flammable, protective gel and wanted some for myself. Sadly, I couldn't find it (and the government of Samoa stopped answering my calls).  Then, one day, I noticed Oded Sharon's Facebook picture had him setting fire to his hand.

You know Oded, right?  Oh, come on, everyone knows Oded Sharon.  He's a game designer.  He's the King of Parties (or, perhaps, Prince Regent of Parties) at the Game Developer's Conference.  The most important thing is that he can set parts of his body on fire!
You know, this guy!
I messaged him:  How do you do that?  Is there a gel I can buy?
Oded: Are you going to be at GDC?  I can teach you if you'd like.
Me: EEEEEEEeeeeeeEEEEEEEeeeeeEEEEEE!!!!!!!!
Oded: Is that yes?
Me:  EEEEEEEEEEEEEEeeeeeeeEEEEEEE!!!!!!!
Oded: Are you okay?
Me: EEEEEEEEEEEeeeeeeeee.  Okay, I think I'm better.  Nope.  EEEEEEEEE!!!

He told me what equipment to buy (I had to something called a "bucket").  Then he came over and...  Well...


And, here's one with me setting my hand on fire and then lighting a candle with it.


Not sure what I'm going to do for my birthday now.  Something even more crazy.  Like... Cake.

Next week: Stealing something from the head of the International Game Developer's Association, because there's nothing she possesses that I can not take away from her.