Thursday, April 26, 2012

Fun with toys -- Lego vs. Minecraft!!!

As you may know, I love Legos, and lately I've gotten totally hooked on Minecraft!!! And it's no coincidence. I just got done writing an article for my professional (video game programming blog) analyzing Lego's failed massive multiplayer online game, compared with Minecraft -- which is the game Lego wishes they'd made: Minecraft: Why Lego Group are kicking themselves about now…

I spent an unbelievable amount of time contemplating strategies for constructing a fortress that could withstand an attack -- for use when playing castle siege with friends. Then I made a video about it:

Here's an example of playing castle siege with my kids:

And here are some Minecraft videos that my kids directed on their own. Leo's video:

And Nico's:

Ok, we probably could be spending our time more constructively -- but we're having fun!!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Dream Diary

Back when I was pregnant with my first baby, and when he was very small, I kept a dream diary for about a year.

This was largely because I'm fascinated by the way the rules of the dream universe differ from the rules of reality universe (things can suddenly transform, and your objectives can suddenly change, and yet the dream universe rules aren't totally arbitrary). Plus I had the fantasy of writing a dream-universe graphic novel, a bit along the lines of Little Nemo in Slumberland.

Then, going back to work (and having a fixed wake-up-and-get-to-the-office time) kind of put a stop to taking the time to remember what I dreamed.

Lately, I've tried to start one up again, with some success, but I've met with some obstacles:

For one thing, a lot of my dreams are so embarrassing that I don't even want to write them down. Yeah, I know that the advantage of leaving Mormonism is that your journal is for yourself and not for the scriptures of the angels, but still! I don't want to feel like I have to burn my dream diary well in advance of my death to avoid having it read by posterity...

Secondly, all of my somewhat-less-embarrassing dreams seem to involve missing flights! It's weird!!! I don't think I fly that often, so I can't figure out why every other dream I remember seems to be about how I lost the info about where and when I need to go to catch XYZ flight to wherever, and maybe I can't get to the airport in time, etc....

Does anyone else have this problem, or is it just me?

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Joanna and me

I don't have many pictures of myself from my BYU days. But since Joanna Brooks has become the media's go-to person on Mormonism -- and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has reacted by spraying her with condescending snark -- the following picture has gone from being "Here's me with some of my fellow staff members at a Student Review party" to "Here's my brush with fame!"

Because the smiling halter-topped chick in the foreground is me, and the one tending bar in the background is Joanna Brooks. If you don't believe me, here's another picture from the same party:

That said, I don't claim I was ever good friends with Joanna. We were more like colleagues or acquaintances. (She was really good friends with my brother John, though.)

Then -- as now -- she believed in the CoJCoL-dS a lot more than I did. I don't know if she really believes the church is true or that it is good, but she's clearly a lot more invested believing it's true and making it good than I am.

Back in my BYU days, I liked the Student Review staffers for their independent streak, but I couldn't really relate to their earnest desire to try to carve out a space for themselves in the church, and improve it, if possible. I asked a lot of different people just enough leading questions to try to feel out if any of them were closet non-believers, but (aside from myself and my brother) it seemed that none of the SR staffers were. Personally, I just wanted to get out of the church's clutches, off its radar, and start my real life. Which I did, a year or so after these pictures were taken.

In the Student Review chapter of my novel I tried to capture a bit of what I felt the staffers were like: They were believers, but they were cool. Which helped hit home the point that the problem with the church isn't that it's not cool. It's that it's not true.

When reading blogs like Godless at BYU, I sometimes feel jealous of the way the Internet allows people to find other like-minded folks. Back then, I would have given anything to have a support system of like-minded non-believers. My brother John found himself a gay support network -- which probably included lots of non-believers -- but that didn't help me much because their main unifying experience was being gay. If they were non-believers, that was a bit of a side concern, at best. It's another example of how the atheist movement is generally a couple decades behind the gay movement, but following in the same tracks.

On the other hand, I don't think I'd go back in time and simplify life for my past self even if I could. BYU didn't kill me or even traumatize me. It was a learning experience, and if it had been easier, I think perhaps I would have learned less.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Here's what has been sucking up my time lately...

I've got a big, cool (but slightly procrastinatable) project I'm working on, so, naturally, I spent the whole day Saturday going "Just a little more Minecraft... OK, just a leeeetle wee bit more Minecraft...."

One Minecraft challenge that I set for myself was to try to make an attractive building design, given the constraint that it has to be made of stacked cubes. I decided to avoid making any flat rectangular walls since I noticed that the scenery can be fairly attractive, and it's composed of surfaces that aren't flat.

Here's a video of me giving a tour of my palace:

I don't want to dismiss this as a total waste of time because it involves spending time with Leo, doing something he enjoys. I posted some of Nico's videos the other day; Here's Leo's video:

Monday, April 02, 2012

Baby's first YouTube video...

Life is pretty exciting here on the parenting frontier known as the Internet!! Today's challenge is what to do about kids who want to express their creativity by directing their own YouTube videos, based on YouTube videos they like to watch. And they don't want to set them to private because they want to get comments from viewers like the other kids who post stuff to YouTube...

Here's the philosophy I'm going with: I've told them that the #1 rule of posting anything to the open Internet (either on a blog or on YouTube) is not to give any identity information at all, ever. Don't say where you live, and pick a handle to use instead of your name. Does that seem reasonable? Any other ideas?

My son came up with the following two videos. As you can probably tell, he did them all by himself, with no help from me. (OK, well, I helped him a little bit to transfer his drawings from TuxPaint to iMovie.)

Not bad, huh?

He'd really like some votes for team captains on his "Battle for Idiotic Money" show, so if you have a YouTube account, and are willing to leave a nice comment, that would be great!! (Please don't write anything mean and make me turn his videos private.)