the xbox trick

The one bit of our sprawlingly complicated TV setup that can’t be manipulated via remote control is the turning on and off of our XBox, which we use for watching DVDs. We have to actually get off the couch to turn it on and off. One night whilst lamenting this burden, Leslie had the epiphany that we could train Sous to do it. You know, she’s five months old now, she should be pulling her weight around the house.

It turns out it was pretty easy to do with the clicker… I just had to glue a piece of a plastic easter egg to the switch so she could hit it with her nose. There have been calls for internet video of the feat, and we’ve finally gotten around to it. So, by popular request:

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double fisting

Jokes have been made by some parties that our little Sous-chef has a lot of expectations to live up to. While we will be happy with any life path she chooses, it is true that we want to offer her every opportunity to excel in the world of dog awesomeness. She comes from good stock, and at our play date last weekend she and her sister Peanut took a moment out for some synchronized sitting (double click to play):

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We’ve got applications in already to all the best prep schools… you can never start these things too soon. Leslie is starting her on Rachmaninoff drills, though her real passion seems to be early Charlie Parker licks on her doggy-tenor sax.


You may have heard something of Super Mario Galaxy. It’s the true successor to the last classic Mario platformer, Super Mario 64 (let’s not bring up the aberration that was Super Mario Sunshine). Anyway… I picked it up on the internets a couple of weeks before the release and have playing it in basically all of my free time since then, which has been limited. The game is basically perfect–the controls are sublime, the difficulty ramp finely tuned to gently hone your skills from rank n00b to the point that you are capable of accomplishing outrageous shit like this:


Or this (in both cases the goal is to get 100 purple coins–you die, you start over. No second chances!


Every level you finish nets you a star, the currency of success in the game. Your star count is what it’s all about, and once you’ve got 60 stars, you’re welcome to go kick Bowser’s ass and save Princess Peach (again, yes!). You get a nice movie and the credits roll. But as any fan knows, this isn’t the half of it. There are 60 more stars, some of them diabolically hard to finish (as in the video above). So great! You buckle down, play through the last 60, now you’ve got 120! Must be done, right? No! You’ve just unlocked Luigi, who starts back at the beginning of the game with 0 stars, and you get to do it all over again.

It takes a special kind of person to play a game they just beat (twice) all over again, and I am that kind. Actually, Luigi is subtly different from Mario. He slides around when you try to stop him, which makes most things harder, but he’s also skinny, so he floats further when jumping and flys farther as a bee. He still can’t get the chicks that Mario is landing though, poor guy. So anyway, I write you this now, having just finished 120 stars with Luigi, thus unlocking GRAND FINALE GALAXY where I got to meet all my old friends and recall the joy and sadness and screaming frustration of all 242 stars, and that’s a wrap!

Oh, and… I also finished my last class of my life, and graded final exams for 6 hours, and generally polished of the last annoying tasks of the semester. In a few hours we’ll get on a plane headed for some serious holiday relaxation and shit. And it couldn’t come soon enough.

dancing tetrahedra

It’s not as glorious as my smoke videos of old perhaps, but I’ve finally got some decent video of my current research work. What’ you’re seeing is a tetrahedral mesh of a cube with the tetrahedra (pyramids) colored according to their quality. As the quality improves, their colors shift toward green, and when they’re good enough, they disappear. At the bottom right is a histogram of qualities for the entire mesh. Should be a fun little clip to show when I give the talk at the International Meshing Roundtable in Seattle in a couple of weeks.

the first overt youtube post…

That’s right, folks, I’m entering the world of 2005 right here and now: inline flash video! I felt I should do it so I could bring you the genius of The Michael Showalter Showalter:


These guys have been hit or miss since The State, but I think this is them back at the top of their game.