Birdhouse?

On my Saturday run, I hit a couple of loops of the Elm Creek horse trails. I’ve been on these trails many times, but for some reason don’t recall ever seeing the structure in the picture below. It’s not big enough to be a deer stand, it’s only about 3-4 feet long, and barely 3 feet tall. It also has cut-out holes on one side that are about 4-5 inches in diameter.

No idea what it is, if it was some special birdhouse or some other purpose. I took a picture of it though because it was a cool find on my run.

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Quick Review: Moon

Pretty much ever since we’ve been together, my wife has suggested I watch the movie Moon. It’s the story of a solitary astronaut who works on the moon harvesting clean energy for Earth. He’s a couple weeks away from the end of his three year contract, and excited to get going home. However, things take a twist that leaves his future irrevocably changed.

There are some major plot twists in this movie, that if I give any more detail than that will spoil everything. Suffice it to say it’s not a major mind-job like some other movies, but the twists are entertaining and really get you thinking. I managed to figure out the twists pretty early in the movie, but what was more interesting was some of the subtexts of the film.

In particular, the view of how work is performed, and what humans are willing to do to get a job done. When we meet our hero he’s at the end of a three year contract. Three years of working alone in space, doing everything he can to help provide for people on Earth. He expresses his frustration with being alone, and how much of his family’s life he’s missed. Yet, there’s a sense of pride in coming to the end of his duty shift. As the plot unfolds, these questions about work take on new meanings.

One thing I can openly say is that Sam Rockwell did an amazing job in this film. It takes very talented actors to hold up a movie as the only character. His portrayal of a lonely astronaut on the moon was well executed, and you can’t help but sympathize for this man who has been left alone far too long. He does have a computer to have conversations with, but it’s really a one-man show, and very well done.

Overall, it was well worth the price of a rental, and I enjoyed finally seeing a movie that my wife has talked about for a long time.

 

Early icy run

I wanted to get my run in before work on Thursday, and so I set my alarm for 4:30am. As my body is wont to do, I woke up earlier than my alarm, at 3:30. I huddled in bed until 4 and then gave up and went out for my run.

The temps this morning were awesome, with the air temp around 37 degrees. The wind was annoying, but I could tolerate it. The worst part was the ice. About 30% of my run required me having to navigate ice on a black road in the dark with just a headlamp. At one point I was on a bike path that was incredibly slick. My wife pointed out to me tonight that you can actually see how much I slowed down in my run data to get over that section.

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I managed to make it home after 7 miles without falling on my butt. I need to make some adjustments to my 7 mile course though because it’s coming up a bit short unless I circle around for a tenth of a mile or so. I get a day off now, and then it’s a 28 mile weekend with 18 on Saturday and 10 on Sunday.

 

Internet Friends

The other day MPR posted a story about some new research out of the UK that states what many of us would say is obvious. Most of our online “friends” aren’t really friends in the grand scheme of things. The study found that even when people have hundreds or thousands of online “friends”, they still only have 4-5 quality online relationships. Quote from the study:

What Dunbar found was consistent with previous studies into the size of typical individuals’ relationship networks – five very close individuals, 15 close individuals, and additional layers of friends and acquaintances of up to 1,500 individuals.

I was actually thinking about this a bit recently myself. After my divorce my world changed quite a bit, and a lot of my physical friendships disappeared. However, I still had a large cadre of online friends, both on social media and online gaming. Yet, only a handful of these relationships would I consider close friends.

Interestingly, the closest online friends I have are actually not even local to my area, and so our relationships have developed over long distances, with large gaps of time between meeting in meatspace. Most of my online gaming friends disappeared when we all stopped playing the same games. I’m only in touch with a handful of those folks anymore.

Watching the meta narrative around internet based relationships is interesting. The methods by which people connect online have changed multiple times over the decades. Many studies are showing that younger people aren’t as interested in platforms like Facebook anymore, and so perhaps another shift is coming as well. It still feels like, as a society, we’re still trying to figure out this whole virtual relationships thing, and perhaps the new reality is that how we meet and connect with people will never be static again. Perhaps a new challenge for humanity, as we seek relationship, will be to continue to grow and adapt to changes to virtual community as thing ebb and flow from one paradigm to another.

I don’t think any of us can know the answer, but I am grateful for the relationships that I do have, both virtual and physical.

Putting stones in the hearth

I’ve been a long time fan of Blizzard games. In particular I was a huge fan of World of Warcaft, having played for many, many years. I’ve also played through all of the Starcraft campaigns,and dabbled in Diablo. However, a few years ago when Blizzard announced Hearthstone I knew I would have to give it a try.

Back in college I was a big fan of trading card games, and played the original version of Magic: The Gathering, along with its first expansion Arabian Nights. My friends and I also were avid players of the Star Trek: TNG TCG. Once I got married and had kids I lost contact with most of the people I played with and lost touch with the game. Hearthstone promised to bring me back to that nostalgia as an online TCG set in the Warcraft world, albeit with a kooky and silly flair.

I downloaded the game when it came out and played solidly for quite a few months. I made it through the first few expansions, and the first solo play expansion, before taking a break once again. Recently however I’ve picked the game back up and have grabbed one of the recent expansions, the League of Explorers. It’s been a ton of fun to learn about all the new cards and mechanics that have been added to the game in the time since I stopped playing, and I’m getting back into the swing of play again. I never manage to get much higher than level 18-17 before the season ends, but with some of the newer cards, and my new midrange Shaman deck, maybe next month I’ll manage to level up higher.

If you’re someone who enjoys TCGs I totally recommend downloading Hearthstone on whatever device you want and give it a spin. It’s a lot of fun and it keeps getting better.