Lives of Jim: a Print and Play Board Game


The past few days I’ve been working on a print and play board game in the evenings called Lives of Jim. It’s part of a 10-day paper game jam I’m taking part in. You can find Lives of Jim on if you want to print it out and play it. And the home for the game jam is on too. (That’s why I’m using — never heard of it before, love the URL.)

As if designing your own board game for a paper game jam isn’t nerdy enough each one of the character cards from the game is sort of a nod to different time travel tropes or stories. (One of the suggested themes for the paper game jam, the one I’ve adopted for the game, is time travel.)


There’s a future conqueror like Marvel’s Kang or Chronoliths, something like a terminator, Looper, a heartbroken time traveler like Slaughterhouse Five or maybe the time traveler’s wife, and the idea of morlocks or the caveman from Altered States.

I’m reaching a bit with calling Altered States a time travel movie. I kind of just like pointing people at that movie whenever I can though.

Let me know if you try out Lives of Jim!


How I Make Passphrases

Passphrases are awesome. Easy to remember; Hard to break. This XKCD comic explains it better than I ever will.

I use 1Password to remember all my passwords — highly recommended — so I don’t really need to remember any passwords but one. But I like to have a few stuffed into my brain permanently. My Apple ID, Gmail, and, of course, 1Passwords master password. Here’s how I make pretty strong (stronger than correct horse battery staple) passphrases that are still easy to remember.

First, I find a passphrase generator. Like, this one and generate a list of passphrases. I might get something like this …

priming whiffle nitrate keepsake goneness fireman

That’s alright. But we can do better. Why not make it even more secure by turning it into a bit of dialogue?

"Keep priming the whiffle nitrate!" shouted the gory fireman!

I dropped some words, added some, and added some punctuation, making it even harder to guess but, more importantly I can remember this passphrase.

Here’s another one. I randomly generated this …

goodbye close baby cakewalk henhouse stowage

and rearranged it into …

"Goodbye," said Baby, "I cakewalked the henhouse to stowage."

Or maybe something with numbers in it.

"It's 7 staves westward," I detailed. "Past the 12 hexagons."

A little longer than correct horse battery staple but when it really counts you want something really strong.

Photo courtesy of Konstantin Obenland

Photo courtesy of Konstantin Obenland


Me, Eating Cow Brains


Switching to Colemak for Typing: What worked

First of all, What’s Colemak? To put it simply, it’s a more efficient arrangement of the keys on your keyboard. Yes, more efficient than Dvorak. Plus, unlike Dvorak, it keeps all the most common keys used in keyboard shortcuts in place. It’s a keyboard layout for people who make their living using a computer. I touch type with it after using a “QWERTY” keyboard layout for years and years.

I was just talking to someone about my Strategy for learning to type with Colemak and realized I should post a quick update with what actually worked for me.

  1. Practice touch typing 0.5–2 hours a day (I started out at 2 hours and over a week went down to half an hour) with the drills in Master Key
  2. and copying a piece of text using Colemak for about 5 minutes every day
  3. Switched full-time to Colemak in 3–4 weeks when I felt up to it.

That’s what I did. That’s what worked. Are you tired of using an outdated, inefficient keyboard layout? Are you worried about RSI and would like to move your fingers less when you type? And just type more comfortably? Give it a shot.

You can see more about my experience with Colemak by checking out posts tagged as Colemak on this blog.


I Might Buy a Loser Cruiser

That’s what my dad calls a minivan. Or, at least, what he tells me the kids call it. My colleague, Lance, is slightly more excited about it than my dad. Here are his replies to my call-the-dealer-with-questions-first strategy for finding a used one.

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Man of Steel

Warning: I get super-geeky in this post.

I saw Man of Steel on Father’s Day with my dad and my son. Did I like it? It was alright and I kinda want to see more from the filmmakers involved to see where they go with it. I like superhero movies. 🙂 I really liked the crazy space fantasy bits with Jor-El at the beginning. Russell Crowe running around on a totally insane Krypton in Superman’s costume? YES. The Superman as a kid compelled to always do the right thing was also great. Everything else was … a little tiring. Also, the last little scene with the military felt a little small. That should have totally happened at the United Nations (yes, like Superman IV: Quest for Peace) or at least the White House.

The part I really didn’t care for was — SPOILER ALERT — Superman killing General Zod by snapping his neck. In front of a family? And in front of all the families watching the movie? That’s crazy. Superman, the enduring Superman that has become something like a fable for our times about the good use of power, doesn’t do that. And comics critic Chris Sims has it right when he says the movie ultimately fails when Superman proves the bad guy is right.

The bad guy tells Superman that he’ll only stop if Superman kills him, and Superman proves him right. Superman proves that the bad guy is right. There’s no other way. It’s just violence and death as the only solution.

Superman shouldn’t prove that the bad guy is right. 🙂 There’s probably a dozen different satisfying ways you could write yourself out of that situation and still show that, yes, the S really does stand for hope, hope that you can be better and that death is not the answer. Remember, Superman is a character that is compelled to preserve life. It feels like those really great “Superboy” scenes from the beginning were cherry-picked from better, more hopeful, original sources.

How could it have been different?

My favorite Superman is from the 1981 novel Miracle Monday by Elliot S! Maggin. I’ve written about it before.

This excerpt (from Chris Sims’ review of Miracle Monday two years ago) is how the “real” Superman would handle a General Zod.


Superman would fight forever to protect life wherever he had to. A real superhero does what we can’t. That’s why they’re super and worth caring about.

Also, check out Mark Waid’s review of Man of Steel. He’s the author who coined the “S stands for hope” (a brilliant idea). Superman killing ruined the movie for Waid. It didn’t ruin it for me, ultimately — I still, as noted above, want to see more — but that’s not the real Superman. 🙂


“I’m no longer an athlete,” he said. “I’m a warrior now. There’s a big difference. The athletes are just out to get paid. Warriors stand for something.”
Vegan bodybuilder Ken Williams

Warriors stand for something


Orange Belt in Karate

I got my Orange Belt, or seventh kyu, certificate in Shotokan Karate tonight. My 15 or 20 minute test that resulted in four days of stiff, sore muscles and blistered feet feels like a pretty good effort now. Apparently the testing instructor felt like I put on a good show. My sensei said it was a test to be proud of.

Now on to Green Belt!