Saturday, January 31, 2009

Would Not Buy Again.

So three weeks ago, Child had me buy a birthday present for her friend's son. I bought it off eBay from oddbanana, a power seller with a 99.2% positive rating out of almost 100,000 ratings. I didn't think I'd have any problems. Boy was I wrong.

Three weeks, no present, an email, and two support requests later, I opened a PayPal dispute for "non-receipt of item". It took a couple days, but oddbanana refunded the money through PayPal (all $15.50 of it), with no comment or message.

One minute later, according to my emails, they opened an eBay "Unpaid Item case" for the same item.

Wow. The only explanation for the whole fiasco that I can think of is that they're using some sort of malfunctioning computer system to run everything. Regardless, it's highly frustrating (if not particularly financially debilitating), and I better not get stuck with some "Unpaid Item" mark against me.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Sounds like

Class outline:
April 15th: Classroom instruction
April 16th: Test & go over different equipment in the morning
April 16th: Shooting at the ranger in the afternoon.
At first I thought it was a typo, and participants would actually be shooting on some sort of gun range, then I remembered it was for a "chemical capture" class (read: tranquilizer guns), so perhaps it's correct.

Either way, I'm glad I'm not the ranger.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

250 Pushups

I think there's a tipping point in any skill where you've learned enough or advanced enough that practicing becomes fun instead of a chore.

I think I'm at that point with pushups.

My standard pushup limit used to be about 20 before I'd start hurting and give up. At a family reunion two (?) years back, we had a pushup contest, and I think I got all the way to 30 or 35 before collapsing. A few days ago, however, I did 65 pushups in a row. My practicing is paying off, and now it's fun to see how many pushups I can do.

The past couple days I've been doing 250 pushups in the morning. Not all at once, I do a set of 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 40, 30, 20, and 10. It's a great feeling, feeling like I'm actually in some semblance of shape.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Facebook Scrabble

A week or two ago, Child got interested in playing Scrabble on Facebook, so I signed up as well so I could play.

Facebook Scrabble is a little different from regular Scrabble. You're not allowed to play incorrect words, so there's no challenging of words. In addition, there's a built-in dictionary that you can check words before you play them.

Scrabble purists might squirm, but I can see why Hasbro changed the rules. In a potentially non-real-time game, and with no face-to-face playing, there's no way to prevent people looking up words, and as many words as they want, in a dictionary.

Child takes full advantage of the new rules. On the Scrabble homepage, you can enter in the letters in your hand and the webpage will spit out all possible words you can build from them. I lost miserably to Child, so I decided to build a program to help me.

My new Scrabble program will track the board and the letters in your hand, and on your turn, it will sequence through a dictionary of 174,000 words and find the highest scoring one. It takes bewteen 20 to 30 minutes to run on each turn, depending on how full the board is, which is acceptable since there's no time limit between turns.

A couple things I've learned:

1. If your letters are bad (read: 1 point letters, instead of the nice Vs, Qs, Ms, etc.) then no amount of help will get you good scores.

2. Those high point letters are better used on a triple letter score than a double word score. It's obvious in retrospect, but I've always shot for the double word without stopping to consider whether a triple letter might actually get me a better score.

Ute Supporter?!

Last night, Child and I took Child's dad to see City of Ember. He's a fan of Orson Scott Card, and apparently OSC gave the movie a thumbs up.

The movie started at 5:20. After we arrived at the theater, we realized we had a few minutes before the movie started, so we went across the parking lot and got some Coldstone's ice cream. The time: 5:10.

This morning I was reading through the news, and discovered the following: "Cold Stone Creamery is the latest business to pledge part of its proceeds to help the University of Utah's marching band play in the Inaugural Parade: 25 percent of your ice cream purchase from 5:00 to 10:00 [1/13/09] will go to the trip."

Aaaiieee! I just supported the Utes! My purchase of ice cream could have been the last few dollars they needed to make it to D.C.! What have I done?!

Ah, well. I suppose I should wish them well, they've earned it. Good luck in Washington, Ute band. May your spit valves never freeze shut!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Ultimate Scrabble Word

Here's your Scrabble word of the day:


If you play it along an edge of the board, where the existing letters are pharmacokinetic (bolded letters are already there [note how they are proper words], unbolded letters are the ones you add), then by my calculations, you should score 914 points.


Setting up a valid board that will allow the playing of this word is left as an exercise to the reader.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

New Year, New Class

Child and I teach the 13-year-olds at church. Last year, our class was 5 girls. They were nice girls, but had apparently slept through a few too many lessons. Getting them to stop chattering with each other and pay attention was like pulling teeth. They didn't know whether Genesis was in the Old or New Testament, and Child and I didn't even bother asking them to recite a scripture from memory.

At the New Year, we got a new class. We now have three kids, although only two showed up for the first Sunday. Both go to private/charter schools, they were highly intelligent, quiet, respectful, answered questions, and volunteered to read. Due to a mix-up in lesson manuals, we taught the lesson that they heard at the beginning of January last year--and they actually remembered it. One of them still had the handouts from the lesson in his scripture bag! Our last class could barely remember if they had even come to church the previous week!

It'll be a change, that's for sure. I'm looking forward to it.