Meeting My Neighbors

For the past three years, I have hosted a holiday cookie exchange for my building. Our building has 12 units (mostly 2 bedrooms), so I had hoped that we could get at least half of them to participate. However, in the last three years, we have had three, four, and three units participate, including ourselves. It hasn’t been increasing, and I have been wondering why.

Peanut Butter Cookies, Macaroons, German Chocolate Cake Cookies, and Very Fancy Christmas Cookies of unknown variety because they’re too beautiful to eat.
Continue reading “Meeting My Neighbors”

My Understanding of the 5-star Rating System

Julie and I have very different understandings of the 5 star rating system. Here’s what usually happens at a restaurant:

(Kevin nosily scrapes the last bits of food from his plate using his finger as a backstop instead of his knife)

Kevin: So how would you rate this restaurant?

Julie: I liked it! Maybe four or five stars?

(Kevin gives Julie a look of horror and confusion)

Julie: Oh, maybe more like three and a half stars

Kevin: Yeah, I was thinking three or four stars

We then (mis)remember how we rated other restaurants and try to slot this meal against those ratings. This process is haphazard at best.

And it’s not just restaurants: I’m consistently more critical than Julie on movies, books, and recipes. However, rather than accept that I am just a negative person, I instead embarked on an empirical study to prove that rating systems, not I, are the flawed party. Continue reading “My Understanding of the 5-star Rating System”

GM Tip: How to create suspense in resolving actions

Short Version of the Tip

When a player takes an action that requires a roll:

  1. Ask the player to describe exactly how they are doing it
  2. Complete their description right up to the moment that decides success or failure
  3. Ask the player to roll
  4. Narrate the resolution (or have the player do it)

It may sound simple, but it’s not actually how most GMs resolve actions. Continue reading “GM Tip: How to create suspense in resolving actions”

Working from an iPad

Julie and I just got back from vacation in China. Amongst many other things, we saw baby pandas.

This was the only place where they had a line and kept us moving

On the trip, I wasn’t carrying my MacBook Air, but I did have my iPad and iPhone, and I learned a few things about trying to do work on my mobile devices. Continue reading “Working from an iPad”

Thoughts on OpenAI Figuring Out Dota 2

In 1996, Deep Blue played competitive Chess against world champion Garry Kasparov. In 2011, Watson beat Ken Jennings at Jeopardy. In 2016, AlphaGo played and beat Lee Sedol in Go. And in 2018, OpenAI Five played 2 games against professional Data 2 players, and the humans survived 2 very fun games. But in another year, I think that OpenAI Five will handily beat the best human Dota 2 teams.

(Disclaimer: I am neither a Dota 2 nor a Machine Learning expert, and I didn’t do much research for this blog post before diving into writing) Continue reading “Thoughts on OpenAI Figuring Out Dota 2”

Try out “College Contagion”, my one-page RPG!

After my last stint writing and publishing a tabletop adventure, I was inspired to take a shot at writing a rule system. With a few playtests and a PDF from an online Word template, I now also call myself a game designer by sharing “College Contagion.”

Continue reading “Try out “College Contagion”, my one-page RPG!”

My Current Podcasts

Everyone is into podcasts these days. Here’s a common conversation I have had.

A: “So, I was in the car listening to a podcast-”

B: “Wait, you listen to podcasts? Me too!”

A: “Really, what podcasts do you listen to?”

As much as I enjoy them myself, I don’t think it is unique or surprising to find fellow podcast listeners. Podcasts aren’t a specific interest, like “90s alternative” or “lemurs with thoughtful facial expressions.” Podcasts are a medium like “TV” or “movies,” so most people probably like at least one or two. Replace “podcast” with “sport” or “music” and it will roughly make as much sense. Continue reading “My Current Podcasts”

What Do You Mean By “Cook” and “Chef”?

Recently, I caught a podcast episode of The Splendid Table where “Nigella Lawson Defends the Honor of Home Cooking.” She recently wrote an article on Lenny Letter arguing that people shouldn’t say that they are “just a home cook.” The word “just” implies that home cooks are less than a chef where Lawson seems them as distinct crafts. Continue reading “What Do You Mean By “Cook” and “Chef”?”

My First Disneyland Day

For me, magic doesn’t usually require waking up an hour before my work day morning routine, but when you save an hour waiting in line for Space Mountain, it definitely feels like the right decision.

Since moving to the Bay Area just over 10 years ago, I have made many trips down to LA but never quite made it to Disneyland. We typically would leave at earliest on Friday afternoon and drive back to be at school or work on Monday morning, so we never found the time to make the price of admission worth it. However, my cousin Owen’s high school graduation was on a Wednesday, so since we had to dip out in the middle of the week, we extended our vacation through the following weekend and cut out a day to spend at Disneyland. Continue reading “My First Disneyland Day”

Watching Tape

I spend a lot of time preparing for my Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) games. Not only do I plan the adventures themselves, but I also watch, read, and listen to advice about being a better Dungeon Master (DM). And for fun, I watch streams of other D&D games, which is also preparation because I am studying what the DM is doing in their game. Some DMs are amazing, and some are only okay. I can tell by watching them, and that made me wonder: which one am I? Continue reading “Watching Tape”