We aren't the people we used to be.

Issue 44


Unihemispheric Sleeper
G. Slonaker


Distilled essence of mighty flower

dark green volatile compound

bursting forth and announcing hope

taking away the old and known

holding me close to the unknown emerging.

How I fear and want this new quality

I cannot grasp just yet. 


Footloose, or how to run away to sea
Excerpt; edited for length
Available for purchase
T. Bull


“Are they anchored?” I asked my wife, Karina. We were returning to our boat Matilda on our tender. I looked again and said, “That boat’s moving weird.”

In the near distance, I watched a woman come forward to the bow of her boat. She looked down, worry creasing her forehead. She threw her arms into the air and then returned to the helm.

The boat swung around on the anchor chain, jerking suddenly as she motored forward, then in reverse. It stopped, and she walked quickly back to the bow, peering down at the water.

“Maybe she’s just checking that the anchor’s set?” I mused.

“She looks like she’s stuck. Why don’t you go and ask if she wants some help?” asked Karina. “Drop me back at the boat, then you go see if everything’s okay.” Karina knew I wouldn’t be able to relax until I figured out what was happening.

After I dropped her off, I headed over to the troubled sailboat. The woman at the bow watched me warily as I approached. I suspected she was worried I’d tell her off for anchoring too close to my boat.

“Hey, how’s it going?” I asked.

“Ahh, I think my anchor’s stuck,” she said.

“I’m Tim. Can I help at all, or are you fine?”

“I’m Jasna,” she replied, clearly relieved. “Some help would be very useful. I’m solo and can’t see how the chain moves while I’m on the helm trying to get it unstuck. I was thinking maybe I’d have to dive on it in the morning, but if you could hop up the front and point out where the chain is, we might be able to work it free.”

Jasna tied off my tender, and I pulled myself onboard. I leaned over the bow and found the chain disappearing into the water underneath the boat. Using large arm movements, I indicated the angle of the chain, and Jasna manoeuvred the boat slowly backward. As the chain went slack, I started to winch it in.

Then we heard a horrible crunch.

The boat stopped, and the chain pulled taut, stuck under something.

“Try coming forward slowly now,” I yelled back towards the helm. “Ok, forwards again…backwards…hold there...”

Each time the boat moved, I winched in a little more slack, gradually lifting the chain off the bottom and hopefully away from whatever it was getting caught on.

“Ok, forwards again…”

There was another metallic scraping sound, but the chain jumped forward and hung loose.

I quickly brought in the last of the slack. “I think we’ve got it! Yes, I can see the anchor now.”

Jasna returned to the bow to check the progress and said, “That’s a relief. I’m so glad I didn’t have to dive on it. Hang on…the chain is starting to catch on the windlass.” I mentally kicked myself; I really should have checked that. We worked together to get the chain sorted out and to bring the anchor the rest of the way in.

With the anchor safely stowed, our thoughts moved to getting her boat secured away for the night.

I said, “Strictly speaking, I don’t think you’re supposed to anchor here. Would you like a hand to tie off to one of those mooring buoys over there?” I pointed at the mooring field nearby, where Matilda was safely secured.

It was off-season, but our brief experience with the Croatian authorities was that they are sticklers for the rules. Solo like she was, it was understandable why she chose to anchor. Tying off to a mooring when you’re alone is difficult, especially on these buoys, with a heavy chain link as a pendant.

“That would be great; I appreciate it.”

Five minutes later, once her boat was safely tied to a mooring buoy, I invited her to join Karina and me aboard Matildafor a drink after she finished settling in. There was no need to ask twice.

“I’ll see you in a few minutes,” came her enthusiastic reply.

J. Allen

Onboard Matilda, a drink in hand, we all chatted about what we’d seen and what brought us to this moment here on a boat.

Within a few moments of meeting her, it was clear Jasna was experienced. She charters her boat and runs a small sailing school, and as we later found out, she has also written several successful books on sailing. They cover her time in the South Pacific, where she also appeared in a British TV documentary about living aboard a boat.

Her anchor problem was no reflection on her skills but more a reality we’d come to learn and appreciate. If it can go wrong on a boat, at some point, it will. She had a plan B and C to get safely free. My timely offer of help just meant she didn’t need to resort to more complex solutions.

“I love this community,” she said, “everyone is so willing to help each other. It made things a lot easier for me that you knew what you were doing.”

It was a nice feeling to be acknowledged for a degree of competence by someone like Jasna.

But boy, we’d come a long way from the beginning. Karina, who previously knew nothing about boats, could now recognise a vessel needing assistance. As for me, a formerly desk-bound keyboard jockey, I’d at last acquired nautical skills that were useful in a pinch. We’d both grown to feel confident that we belonged and could work alongside others with more experience in the cruising world than ourselves.

We aren’t the people we used to be.


Red River Valley
Laura Nelson, sitting in with Poi Rogers


Building an Arcade Game: Excerpts from a Technical Journal
J. Turner

------- [Things to Learn] --------

Tiling backgrounds (street scenes)

Swapping between scenes

Audio playback

Element overlays (hazards, houses, trees, etc)

How steering wheels really work

------- [Ideas] --------

The truck goes horizontal and vertical

Need street hazards (oil, balls in the street, etc)

Dead ends

First 20-30 seconds should be consistent, then variable afterwards.

When driving badly, a character could pop-up (for lack of a better term) should be of someone looking disapprovingly from the DMV.

------- [Journal] --------

Completed the prototype wheel holder. But I'm dropping frames like crazy. Something's very wrong.

Figured out the audio problem...The master volume was turned down. Oops.

Started thinking about how to draw tiles / backgrounds. I've done this before but this seems way more complicated for some reason. Stitching together road segments sounds hard and doing it dynamically at runtime seems the best bet...if only if will be fast enough. Starting to get discouraged as the progress is slow at this point. Need to remain focused. And not feel this is a waste of time.


What a miserable, frustrating day. Nothing accomplished. No progress made. No movement, just dropping frames now. Tried to profile the app and it doesn't make sense what's happening. And there appears to be no tools to help. Feels like I wasted several hours today where I wanted to make some progress, instead just going in circles tracking down why I'm dropping frames.


J. Allen


Holy shit! I got it working! At least on the command line.

Buttons! They are connected now and working as expected.

I did get the map moving yesterday, but it was laggy. I realized it was doing linear interpolation. Got it back to following precisely.


Map loading—can now load an entire folder of maps, and it notes the keystones available for each map. I still need to figure out how to determine what the next map should be. Once we enter one, we won't know which end we are planning to exit without extra info. What if instead of picking just one map at a time, we pick “runs” of maps so that we never leave ourselves in an ambiguous state? We'd still generate these runs when needed, but it would be several maps at a time and we could be smart about not ending on a horizontal map.


Progress is slowing down...finding it hard to do work all day then trying to do this at night. Might take a slight divergence to see if I can figure out the wheels/pedals/lever since that's going to take a bit of experimentation and I get to play with wires again. Also need to start considering what I want to do for a monitor. But today, I did manage to get the maps to all load and be aligned properly.

Scene-loading with respect to asset-loading and displaying progress on the screen. This is trickier than I thought; needed to leverage co-routines. Also refactored everything today. The driving scene is completely isolated now, as is all of the debugging code. Now we can start working on scene transitions.

State machine. Scenes need to indicate to the state machine that they are ready to transition. However, how should this be expressed? The “attract” scene needs to say “move on to player setup” when a coin is detected. But that's different from when it needs to go into an overlay with “driving.” Which is different than showing the high score screen. What does the state machine need from the scene to know how to handle this?

This worked out pretty well. The state machine knowing edges is pretty straightforward...

Last night we were watching Hidden Figures and during the scene when Katherine gets into the Pentagon meeting and is asked to do math on the chalkboard, I recognized the range formula she was using to determine Glenn's return location: it's the same range formula I'm using. Pretty cool, although I find it hard to believe that formula still applies when orbital dynamics come into play.

Now back to it.


My dead dad and my dead dog
J. Gentile


M. Dabis

I drive by the cemetery every morning.

Stone boxes, row upon row.

In the end, I’d rather take up

only the space of a pine needle.

Together with all the others

I’m there to soften your step.

In winter, the long snow covers me up

and by spring I am gone.

Temple of Karnak, Luxor. No audio. By T. Bull


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