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June 13 2011

A day at the (woodtick) races

I was up in Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area in Minnesota’s Iron Range last weekend, on a yearly camping trip with several friends: Ty, Garret, Kevin, Maggie, Val, Dan, and and Dan’s almost-one-year-old daughter Sammy. Kev and Mags noticed the local newspaper at a gas station, and had to buy one when they saw the front page. Above stories about and a mountain bike festival and an especially friendly grouse, the main headline was about the annual Woodtick Race, which has been going for 32 years as a fundraiser for the local fire department.

Well, we had to go.

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June 12 2011

Determining our fates with cold, apathetic, wonderful math

Minnesota is currently debating how to redraw our state district borders, as we do every 10 years, with new census data to guide us. Creating fair, impartial boundaries seems impossible, because it’s always tempting for the party in power to gerrymander everything to give themselves more power. I’ve long been critical of the shape of our 6th district, home of state shame Michele Bachmann. It conveniently bends around liberally-leaning downtown areas and grabs many of the richer, fiscally-conservative parts of the state and merges them with rural, socially-conservative parts of the state.

But how the hell do you draw fair, unbiased district boundaries? On the one hand, people don’t want their communities split down the middle. On the other, it’s really easy to lump certain communities together to create districts that are easy for one party or the other to control.

Here’s one way that’s pretty interesting: math.

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June 2 2011

My experiences with Champions Online

While I’m on hiatus from WoW, I thought I’d try Champions Online. It seemed like it could be cool. I’ve been on a big comic book kick lately (I’ve been reading Hellboy, Irredeemable, Flash, Scalped, and other great books) and the thought of creating my own superhero and engaging in superheroics sounded fun. And best of all, it’s free…sorta.

At first, I felt like creating a big dumb oaf good for smashing things, like The Hulk or The Tick. I gradually worked my way through the extremely elaborate character creator (man I wish WoW had more character options) and came up with this dude, whom I named “Adam Smasher”. Puns are an important part of superheroics.

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