Good morning, Europe.
Good Afternoon, Australia.
Go to bed, North America.
Good morning, Europe.
Good Afternoon, Australia.
Go to bed, North America.
I continue to have way more fun with my Makerbot than I ever thought possible.
I got the model from Thingiverse. It took 16 hours to print, and I used supports, 5% infill, .1mm layer thickness, and 2 shells. I sliced it in Makerware.
You may notice that some of the pipes around his head are messed up. That’s not the fault of the model, that’s my fault. When I was cutting off the supports, some of them snapped off (probably because it needed more infill to be stronger) and I had to put them back together with epoxy. I don’t really mind that those pieces are a little weird, though, because it gives the impression to me that this particular Big Daddy has been stomping around Rapture for a really long time.
Eventually, I’ll start making practical things, but until then, I’ll be busy making beautiful toys and models, because I can.
I was getting my things together to go downtown, when my phone buzzed in my pocket. I pulled it out and opened a text message from my son, Nolan, which read: #BURRITOWATCH2014?
I smiled, and replied that I had an appointment downtown, but would be up for #burritowatch2014 as soon as I was finished, if he didn’t mind waiting for me. He said that was fine, and a few hours later we were waiting at one of my favorite places for our food.
While we waited, we took a stupid selfie for Twitter
We ate our delicious burritos, and then I took him home. When I dropped him off, I said, “Hey, your mom is going to have dinner with Stephanie tonight, and I’ll be home doing nothing. So if you wanted to come over and watch a movie or something, you’re invited.”
“I may be hanging out with some friends, but if I’m not, that sounds great,” he said.
“Awesome,” I said. “I love you.”
“Love you too.”
He walked up to his apartment and I watched him. I know it’s silly, but whenever one of my kids walks away from me, whether we’re saying goodbye in an airport or train station, or even if they’re just walking to their cars from my house, I see them though this strange paternal vision that makes them look like 6 year-olds, going to their first day of school. They’re 24 and 22, now, and I don’t think that’s ever going to change for me.
I drove back to my house, running a few errands on the way, and when I got home, Nolan called me. “Hey, I’m going to see my friends, but not until later. I don’t have time to watch a movie, but do you want to play a game?”
“Yes, I would love that,” I said. “I have some really fun two player games here. Come over whenever you want.”
“Okay, I’ll be there soon.”
I hung up the phone, and thought, “Holy. Shit.”
For years, I have struggled to close the gap between us that opened up when Nolan was a teenager and he pulled away from me. We had been so incredibly close when he was little, it hurt me a lot that he was so withdrawn from me, but I didn’t want to force a relationship on him that he didn’t want. Through it all, I continued to love him unconditionally, and I always hoped that one day he would come back to me. I always invited him to our house when we did things, and he usually declined. I’d ask him to hang out, or go for a bike ride, or play frisbee, and he wasn’t really interested. But, recently, something changed. He’s been coming over to see me more frequently, sitting with me in my house and talking with me about his life and the choices he’s making right now, asking for my advice, and closing that gap. It’s wonderful.
One thing I never thought would happen though? Gaming together. We played lots of games when he was a kid, but part of his character build during the teenager level was rejecting everything that was important to me, especially gaming.
So when he called me — didn’t text me, but called me — to ask if I wanted to play games, I was as happy as I was caught completely off-guard.
Much sooner than I expected, Nolan came walking into the house. Our dogs adore him, so Marlowe immediately ran laps, while Riley did her happy “rooooooooooOOoOOOOOOooooOOO” noise. Seamus just leaned into him and demanded scritches behind his ears.
Once the dogs had expressed their love for him, Nolan and I went to my nearly-completed gameroom, where all of my games are on a series of bookshelves that takes up almost one entire wall.
“So I have Hive, which is really fun and kind of like chess, All Creatures Big and Small which is like Agricola but for 2 people, Battlelore, which is a minis game with really cool movement rules, OGRE, which is the first wargame I ever played, Carcassonne, which I can teach you in about 5 minutes …”
“You also have all these decks of Magic cards,” he said, showing me a box that does, in fact, have several hundred Magic cards in it, collected from the first edition I ever owned, to the most recent release.
“Dude, let’s play Magic!” I said. We used to play Magic a lot when he was younger, and it was one of those things that, while it didn’t close the gap, certainly bridged it from time to time. In fact, during that time, I gave him unfettered access to my Magic cards, which he used to duel kids in his school. On day, he came home and was really upset that kids were printing cards from the Internet, and using them in sleeves, which he (correctly) interpreted as cheating. “I’ll never use sleeves,” he declared, “because I want everyone I duel to know that I’m not cheating.”
“This is an excellent idea,” I told him, both because it was, and because I really hate playing any game that has cards in sleeves. I mean, that’s like putting plastic on your couch, for fuck’s sake. Andrew.
Nolan took some of my cards with him to Game Empire to play in an open dueling thing, and an ur-gamer of my generation refused to play with him, because, in the ur-gamer’s words, the cards Nolan was using — my cards — were “far too valuable” to be used unless they were in sleeves. He gave Nolan sleeves for those cards, which Nolan used, but then returned when the duel was over, if I recall correctly.
Back in the present, he said, “Let’s play two-out-of-three with random decks.”
We grabbed a couple decks, including some Mirrodin Besieged decks, the Knights and Dragons duel decks, and two Planeswalker decks that I got at GenCon or PAX or some con a couple years ago.
Now, I am not the greatest Magic player in the world, and I don’t spend nearly as much time playing it now as I did when I was much younger and had more time (and money) to invest in keeping up with the latest rules and releases, but I still have a good time whenever I play. I also believe that, generally, fast decks that kill with one thousand cuts are usually more successful than slow decks that count on defending yourself a lot while you wait for a big bad to show up and smack the other guy into dust with two or three big hits. I could be wrong, but that’s my general experience.
I mention this because we randomly pulled decks, and Nolan got a fast deck each time, while I got a slow deck. They weren’t especially balanced, and he immediately took the first two games from me, basically by stabbing me a bunch of times with goblin spears, using the Dragons half of the Knights and Dragons duel decks.
We switched to the Planeswalker decks for the second match. I got Garruk (green), and he got Chandra (red). These little decks are really fun. They’re 30 cards each, a very simple build, and lend themselves to really quick duels … which is pretty terrible if you’re the guy with the green deck who needs to get 7 freaking mana out to play his Wurms, while the other guy’s red deck slowly murders you with goblins. Again.
I did win a single game, because Nolan should have taken a Mulligan on his draw, and after five games, it was Nolan 4, Wil 1.
“I just realized that your decks have both been fast decks, while mine were built around withstanding a lot of small hits until I can smack you a couple times for lots of life,” I said.
“I prefer fast decks,” he said.
“So do I,” I said.
He cocked his head to one side, which he’s done since he was little whenever he’s about to get serious, and said, “do you mind that I’m killing you? Like, is it still fun for you?”
When Ryan and Nolan were little, they played Little League. They were coached by their hypercompetitive dad, whose winning-is-the-only-thing attitude ruined the experience for both of them. At one point during one of their seasons, I had to stop going to games because I couldn’t stomach watching their biodad yell at them, oblivious (or uncaring) to how much it was upsetting them. And, Jesus Fuck Shit, Little League Parents: get some fucking perspective, will you? They are 8 year-olds, playing a game, on a weekend. If those little kids winning those games is the most important thing in your life, you fail at parenting, and life in general.
Sorry. I still get angry about how much those games upset my kids, and how I couldn’t do anything to protect them from it at the time. The point is, during that time, I tried my best to support them and provide a counter weight to their biodad’s crap. I told them, “It’s fun to win, sure, but if you only have fun when you win, you completely lose the joy of just playing a game, and being part of a team that works together. You’re not going to win every game you play, so if winning is the only way you have fun, you’re going to have a bad time pretty often.”
I think they intuitively understood that, and I think their understanding of that, coupled with a desire to meet their biological father’s demands, made the entire Little League experience very difficult for them. I know that they internalized my lessons, though, because they’ve both told me as much at one time or another in recent years.
“Yes,” I said. “I’m having a really great time playing with you. Winning just doesn’t matter to me.”
I paused. Then: “Are you ready for the greatest comeback in the history of life?” I asked him, “because it’s about to happen.”
He looked silently back at me, and raised his eyebrows.
“Shut up! It can totally happen.”
More of the look, and we both laughed.
“Okay, which of these decks do you want?” I asked him. One was called Into The Breach, which had a pretty cool-looking, H.R. Geigeresque insectoid creature on the cover. The other was called Infect & Defile, which had a dimilar, H.R. Geigeresque creature on its cover, but more bird-like.
“I’ll take, uh …” he looked at them both, and reached for Into The Breach. “I’ll take this one.”
I took the other, and he said, “No! Wait! This is green, and that is black and blue. I want the black and blue deck.”
“Normally, I’d say it’s not a big deal and you can have it, but you’re destroying me so much I’m going to keep it and consider it a minor victory.”
“Dude. That’s harsh.”
“I know. I’m terrible.”
We opened the boxes, and pulled out the decks inside. They are Event Decks, which I’d never played with before. It’s a pretty cool idea: you get a deck that’s constructed from a bunch of different sets, built around a particular theme, that’s theoretically tough enough to withstand tournament play.
“Hey, this is really cool,” I said, “and there’s even a little insert that tells you how to play the deck.”
I took my insert out and opened it up.
“Are you fucking serious?” I said.
He looked up at me, and I read the first sentence to him: “To win with the ‘Infect & Defile’ deck, you’ll need to be patient.” I skipped a bit and continued: “…given enough time, you’ll draw more cards…”
“Oh man, that’s hilarious.”
“Well, I’ve certainly been training up for this deck,” I said. “Let’s do this!”
We started our duel, and Nolan just ruined me, quickly, in back-to-back games. In the second game, he used a devastating series of instants to cut me down to four life, then a sorcery to finish me off, all on the fourth or fifth round. “I’m not even angry, ” I said, “that was amazing.”
“You are the undisputed master of Magic,” I said. “You may do The March, if you wish.”
The March is this silly victory thing we’ve been doing in our family since we first played one of the DVD versions of Trivial Pursuit in the early 2000s. Anne loves to do it, and I’ll admit that it feels pretty good to do when you’ve earned it, especially if you’re extremely obnoxious in the marching and saluting.
“No, I’m good,” he smiled. “I think these decks weren’t very balanced.”
I shrugged. “I don’t play enough to know, and if we were really super serious I guess we could switch decks and play again, but I know you’ve got to get to your friend’s house, and I don’t want to monopolize your Friday night.”
We cleaned up the game, and he said, “I had a really good time playing with you, and I’m not just saying that because I won.”
“I know,” I said, “I had a great time playing with you, too. I’m really glad you came over.”
He bent down and hugged me (he’s almost 6’2″, now, and has giant arms, so he pretty much engulfs my tiny 5’11″ person when he hugs me). There was a sincerity and warmth to his hug that I didn’t realize had been missing for a very long time. I hugged him back.
“I love you, Nolan,” I said.
“I love you, too, Wil,” he said.
I pulled away and patted his chest with my palm. “Have fun with your friends, and be good. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Okay. Let’s do this again.”
“I’d like that a lot,” I said.
He went out the front door, and I closed it behind him. Through the glass, I watched my little boy walk down the driveway, towards his first day of school.
I recently got a Makerbot 3D printer, and I’ve been having a whole lot of fun using it to make silly things.
Last night, though, I made my first legitimately beautiful object: The Maltese Falcon.
It took about seven hours to make, and these pictures show it inside my Replicator 2 (yes, I have a Replicator in my office. No, it does not make Tea, Earl Grey, Hot … yet), after I cleaned off the supports and took it off the raft.
It turns out the supports were very important. Here’s what happened when I tried to print it without the supports:
For those of you who are interested in specs, I did this with 5% infill, 3 shells, on high resolution.
And for those of you who are interested in all the stuff I’ve made so far, here’s most of my collection:
I used to subscribe to a lot of magazines, but over the years I’ve let all the subscriptions lapse. If I really want to read something, I pick it up on a newsstand, or read it online. One of the great things about my Kindle, for instance, is how I can grab an individual issue of something like The Nation or Mother Jones when I’m on vacation, and not have to deal with another physical piece of media that’s going to take up space in my bag.
I’ve found that I most frequently read magazines when I’m on airplanes (which is about twice a month, it turns out), so I usually pick up the latest WIRED or Scientific American or Mental_Floss when I’m on my way to the gate, read it, and leave it behind for the next passenger to enjoy.
But I know that magazines rely on subscriptions, and subscribing to things I really like is a good way to support that publication’s writers, editors, and staff, so I recently went ahead and subscribed to Popular Science and Mental Floss. When I signed up, I specifically requested that my information not be shared, rented, given, sold, gifted, delivered, or handed off in a dark alleyway dead drop to any third parties. Because I know that publishers don’t always honor these requests, I use unique and humorous names when I subscribe to magazines, so I know who isn’t honoring my requests.
So far, Mental_Floss is doing a great job not sharing my information. But Popular Science? Not so much. this delightful bit of junk mail showed up yesterday, along with my latest issue:
This is incredibly annoying, and violates the trust I placed in the magazine when I decided to give them my money. Awesomeface Wheaton will not be renewing his subscription, and now I get to enjoy months of telling all the third parties that Popular Science gave my information to that I don’t want their bullshit.
Look, print publications, you’re fighting with Internet and digital for eyeballs every single day. When you do shit like this, it just hastens your demise.
Don’t be a dick, magazine publishers. Do not share my information means do not share my information.
I just haven’t had any Christmas Spirit this year. We’ve both been very busy, had an unexpected death in the family, and have sort of felt like doing Christmas stuff (decorating, etc.) was just Another Fucking Thing To Deal With™.
We weren’t unhappy about it or anything, but we don’t give gifts in our family, we aren’t religious, and with the kids out of the house, were just sort of treating Christmas like it was another day.
When I woke up this morning, though, something was different. Decorating for Christmas, and having a nice Christmas dinner with Anne and Nolan (Ryan’s out of town) became something I wanted to do, instead of something I felt like I was supposed to do, because Christmas.
I woke up about 2 hours before Anne, which is a Christmas Miracle in itself, and after she was sufficiently filled with coffee, I walked into the living room and sat down next to her.
“I have a thought,” I began.
“Uh-oh…” she said. I smiled.
“I know we haven’t felt like doing anything Christmas-y, but … I kind of want to just put up our tree, and a couple of decorations.” I said.
“I am so glad you said that,” she said, “because I woke up feeling exactly the same way. I think it would be really sad for Nolan to come over tomorrow, and we don’t have anything in our house that says ‘it’s Christmas! Yay!’”
“So how about if we go to the store, get some food for a quiet dinner tonight with just the two of us, and then get something for dinner tomorrow?”
“I’d love that,” she said.
So a few hours later, we went to the store, with everyone else in the world, and got some food for a nice, quiet, and dare I say ROMANTIC dinner tonight. We also decided to recreate our Thanksgiving dinner for Christmas dinner, because it was damn tasty.
We got home after a surprisingly relaxed shopping experience with everyone else in the world, and I said, “Mrs. Wheaton, would you like to share the joyous holiday tradition of walking into the backyard and getting the Christmas tree out of the shed?”*
“I would love that, Mister Wheaton.”
We walked up into the backyard, where I unlocked the shed, and began the traditional process of extricating the tree from where it lives 50 weeks out of the year. Along the way, I knocked over several cans of paint. Two of them cracked and dumped their contents all over the floor.
“Oh yeah!” I said, “Now it’s CHRISTMAS!”
“I’ll go get some paper towels…” Anne said.
Once we cleaned that up, we brought the tree into the house. I assembled it in the traditional Christmas way, and we stood back to look at it. We decided that it was good.**
I think the tree had been up for three minutes when our Cat, Luna, made some plans.
Literally seconds later:
Then Marlowe saw her, ran over to see what the heck was going on, scared the shit out of Luna, causing Luna to launch herself out of the tree, to be chased across the living room by the puppy.
With a cat-free tree, I took another picture:
The year we got the fake tree, I was filled with regret, because the house didn’t smell like Christmas at all. Ryan, who had just gotten his driver’s license, drove himself to the gas station, bought these air fresheners, and hung them on the tree for us. As moved and happy I was by his gesture, we had to hang them outside for about two weeks, because holy shit do those things have a pungent smell that is nothing like pine but is actually like radioactive death trees.
Anne and I hung more ornaments on the tree, and then we hung up a few — a very few — decorations around the house. Then, when we felt like we were done, I put Noel the Christmas Walrus on the tree to make everything official:
Then, I walked into the kitchen and saw that Luna was recovering from her adventure:
I turned on the broiler, seasoned the steaks we planned to have for dinner, and opened a bottle of wine. Anne came in and joined me.
“You know what,” I said, “I’m really, really happy.”
“I’m so happy that we decorated our house just a little bit, and put up a tree, because we wanted to, instead of doing it because we felt like we had to.”
“Yeah,” she said, “this is something we chose to do, and who cares if it happened the night before Christmas, instead of three weeks go?”
“I’m really glad we did this,” I said.
“So am I,” she said.
I leaned in and kissed her. “This feels like our first post-kids Christmas,” I said, “with just the two of us doing this because it was fun and festive for us.”
“Totally,” she said.
We looked at each other for a minute.
“I want to just check in with the kids,” I said.
She laughed. “Okay.”
I traded text messages with Ryan and Nolan, we wished each other a happy Christmas Eve, and then I got an idea.
“DUDE! I saw this on Tumblr a couple weeks ago, and I want to try it.” I ran to my office, while Anne stood, confused and confused***, in the kitchen. I grabbed my tripod and my camera.
I set it up in the living room, and I took some pictures:
I was pretty happy with the way the pictures turned out, and I came into my office to post them while Anne wrapped a couple of gifts for the kids****.
Then I rejoined her in the living room to take one more picture that would let us say Merry Christmas (or Happy Winter Festival of your choice) to all of you who are reading this, from us here on Team Wheaton:
Yeah, pictures with a puppy are pretty hilarious…
But Seamus can do a super good sit, and he wants you to have a Merry Christmas.
And so do I. I hope you spend the holidays with people you love, who love you back.
*A few years ago, we got a fake tree, because I am so stupidly paranoid about getting a real tree that somehow explodes into a fireball for some reason and ruins Christmas like a kid who points out that Grandma just said something that’s really super racist at Christmas dinner. Not that I know anything about that at all.
**I also realized that this one little bit of lights that never seemed to light up, even though all the wires checked out and all the bulbs were in place, didn’t light up because we never plugged it in. The plug was wrapped around itself in a way that just hid it, and I never saw it until tonight. I texted Ryan, “dude. I am amazing”, and told him the story. “Our family is so smart, and so dumb at the same time,” he replied. “THAT is Wheaton Thinking,” I said.
***And also confused.
****We don’t give gifts to each other. We do give a couple little things to the kids.
Anne loves puns more than anything else in the world. She is so easily amused, she’ll spend hours trying to craft the best pun, and always has something ready for any situation. She’s like the Wayne Gretzky of dad jokes, too.
Being as easily amused as I am*, I’m a great audience for all of her humor, which is delightful for both of us.
She’s also incredibly creative, and loves to make cute, clever things.
Yesterday, she came home from the craft store with a bag of, well, elf parts.
“What are you going to do with a bag of elf parts?” I asked, not sure I wanted to hear the answer.
“You know how people take selfies?” She said.
“Well, if an elf did that, it would be called an elfie, so I’m going to make dioramas of an elf and his friends having a night out, and I’m going to use my cell phone to take pictures of them that he took himself.”
“That’s brilliant,” I said.
“Guess how much this bag of stuff cost?” She said.
I looked at the bag. It was fairly full of elf parts, and it looked like there were some googly eyes, reindeer parts, and a few other Christmas items inside.
“Um … thirty dollars?”
“You’d think so, right? And if it was thirty dollars, you’d think ‘wow, that’s totally worth thirty dollars.’”
“That’s exactly what I was thinking, yes.”
“Well, it was actually …” she paused dramatically, “eight dollars and eleven cents.”
“BAM!” I said. “You you got thirty dollars of elf in an eight dollar bag, is what you’re saying.”
She took the elf parts out of the bag, and got to work assembling them. A little while later, she brought an assembled elf into my office to show it to me.
“So I can put his little hand out like this,” she demonstrated, “and hold the camera out like this,” she held it up, “and it totally looks like he’s taking an elfie.”
“That’s rad,” I said.
I didn’t see her for close to four hours while she built more figures, set up construction paper for a backdrop, and took about a dozen elfies.
When she was all finished, she put them on her blog in a gallery that I think you will find as delightful as I did.
You can see the whole set at her blog. Happy Christmas Eve!
*(again, kids, being easily amused is the best because when you are easily amused, it is easy to amuse you.)
I loved the recent Big Bang Theory where everyone imagined what their lives would be like without Sheldon.
I was completely surprised to see that I was on the friendship web that Amy made, though, and when this came up on the screen, there was much rejoicing and squeeing in Castle Wheaton.
I’m such a lucky human, I can’t even
Last night, Marlowe discovered the simple joy of falling asleep in front of the fireplace. Anne and I binged on four episodes of Mad Men, and I think Marlowe got up once the entire time.
I really love this shirt that I helped design, which is at shirt.woot:
I’ve wanted to do something like this, which combines the Great Wave of Kanagawa with gaming, and I was super excited when the artists at shirt.woot helped take the idea I had in my head and make it a thing you can wear.
It’s currently #16 in The Reckoning at shirt.woot. This means that it’s likely going to go live on a farm upstate where it can play in a field with other T-shirts.
Unless it sells more before Monday, and climbs back up the pack to a single digit ranking, where it’ll be safe for at least a few weeks.
If you’re interested in having this design on a t-shirt, a hoodie, or a tote bag, this may be your last chance to get it, before it is swept away by a great wave of reckoning.
THANK YOU THAT IS ALL.
I’m not sure why I thought I needed to do bold slug lines in this post. It probably has something to do with the coffee in my otherwise empty stomach.