Ending my beef ban

Some time ago (maybe 2004-2006), I decided to stop eating beef and pork. There were several reasons; the treatment of animals, the effect of red meat on my health, and the effect of meat production on the environment. For beef, I was also concerned about mad cow disease. And for pork, I was concerned about intelligent pigs.

I’ve made some exceptions over the years (mostly at nice restaurants), but for the most part I have stuck with my ban. In fact, I’ve ended up being a little more strict than I’d originally intended – mostly because it is easier to have a hard-and-fast rule than to always have to make a decision.

I’m still not going to eat pork, but, in my opinion, the health effects of eating beef have become less clear. Mad cow disease hasn’t been a problem in the US, and the negative effects of saturated fat may have been overstated.

Even with that new information, my other reasons for excluding beef are still enough for me to avoid eating beef at home (a hamburger creates the same amount of greenhouse gas as a chicken sandwich plus burning a quarter gallon of gas).

Beef production releases 27 lb CO2 equivalent per lb of meat (includes CO2 from fertilizer and transport of grain to feed the cow plus the methane the cow produces). Chicken produces 7 lb CO2 equivalent per lb of meat. So a quarter-pounder generates 5 lb more CO2 than a 4 oz chicken sandwich. Burning a gallon of gas produces 20 lb of CO2.
Along with the greenhouse gas difference, a pound of beef requires an extra 1500 gallons of water and 28 times as much land as chicken.
Switching to a vegi-burger probably doesn’t save much. Beans and grains are only 2-3 lb of CO2 per pound of food, but the extra effort to make and package the vegi-burger reduces that savings.

But while I wont be eating much beef, I no longer feel like it is worth avoiding altogether. I will order beef at restaurants where there aren’t other good options. And I will eat beef at friend’s houses. I never wanted my beef/pork ban to be an inconvenience for friends, and hopefully this change will make it a bit easier.

Summer trips

We made two trips this summer. One to Montreal with my family and one to Wyoming to see the eclipse. Photo galleries: Montreal Eclipse

We went to Montreal in mid-August and stayed near Mont Royal in an apartment through airBnB. Montreal is a nice city, but the main point of the trip was to spend time with my family and see my niece and nephew. The apartment worked well for having time with the kids and for take-out meals and breakfasts. One morning my sister-in-law brought back pasteries (Kouing Aman I think?) that were incredible. My favorite site was the cathedral. It was built in the 1820s in the Gothic style. It has a blue color scheme and some nice wooden sculptures.

A few days after getting back from Montreal, we went to Wyoming to see the total eclipse. We didn’t plan far enough ahead to have a hotel room so we left at 3am from Denver and arrived at Glendo state park (without too much traffic) at 7am. The park was nice and we spent quite a bit of time walking around. The eclipse itself was spectacular and something that I still think about two months later. I’m definitely planning to see the next one in America in 2024. Unfortunately, the drive back from the eclipse was awful. Traffic in the park didn’t move at all for a couple hours. We actually waited till 6pm to leave and the 3 hour drive took 6 hours. Next time I am going to plan much further ahead and get a hotel.

Touch table Broom Servce

I’ve completed my touch table conversion of the game Broom Service. We were introduced to Broom Service at Essen. One of the many good games that we learned about on that trip.

In Broom Service, the players compete to gather resources, move around the map and deliver potions. The interesting mechanic is that in each round, players select four of ten cards to play. When you play a card you can play it bravely, betting that other players haven’t selected that same card, and get a bonus. Or you can play it cowardly.

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Violin progress

I started learning violin in May 2009 and took lessons from September 2009 through July 2015. My violin instructor had me work on the material in the Suzuki books (while not really using the full Suzuki method). In June 2012 I had my first recital. At this point I was in Suzuki book 7 and had practiced for 1900 hours. I made a blog post about the recital and my progress and you can watch a video:

After stopping lessons two years ago, I’ve been going back through the Suzuki books trying to play the pieces with more polish and at the correct speed. I’ve gotten back to the piece I played at my first recital. I’ve practiced violin for 4400 hours now and I’ve worked on this piece for three months and have not yet been able to play it at full speed. I’m planning to keep working on it and might update this post if I do get it up to full speed.

Here is a video of a practice run. This doesn’t have the piano accompaniment, is out of focus and has a few errors, but it shows the difference between now and five years ago.

It is a bit strange listening to the difference. From my perspective while playing, it doesn’t feel like I am playing any faster than I was five years ago. That sounds crazy, and of course there are some things that do feel very different, but the feeling of doing something just as fast as I can without losing control is the same now playing at 100 bpm as it was five years ago playing at 65 bpm.

For reference, here is a professional recording of the piece:

This is about 10% faster than I can play it, and I also need to clean up a few of the fast runs before I am satisfied.

Moving data from MySQL to Google Sheets with PHP

I recently needed to pull data from a database and add it to a google spreadsheet. Google provides an API for working with Sheets, but like many of their APIs, the documentation isn’t great. I’ve got my program working and figured I’d document my steps for future me and anyone else who needs it.
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Board game programming tutorial – Part 3

This is the third part in my tutorial for converting a board game for a touch table using Unity.

The first part covered all our reuse code and conventions, setup the project and created a main menu.

The second part built the UI for a very simple game called “No Thanks!”.

This part will write the events to control the game, add buttons to the UI for the players to use to play the game, and finally add animations to the game.

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Board game programming tutorial – Part 2

This is the second part in my tutorial for converting a board game for a touch table using unity.

The first part covered all our reuse code and conventions, setup the project and created a main menu.

This part will build the game and player UIs for a very simple game called “No Thanks!”.

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Board game programming tutorial

Now that I have created several board game conversions in Unity, I thought that it might be useful to create a tutorial that describes the process that I go through to make a game.

In this tutorial, I’ll start with a common set of code from prior games and some basic art. I’ll create a new Unity project, import all the reuse code and plugins that I use, and make a complete game.

There is a set of videos to go along with this post which show all the steps that I perform in the Unity game builder.

I’ve also saved my Unity project at a few points along the way so that you can skip ahead or make sure that your project matches mine.

In this post, I’m going to cover all the reuse code and the reasoning behind it. I’ll setup the project, import all the plugins, scripts and assets that I’ll need. Then I’ll build the main menu.

In the next post, I’ll build the UI for the game itself and create the scripts for modeling the game. In the third and final part, I’ll add game control events and animations. Continue reading “Board game programming tutorial”

Touch table Village

I’ve completed a touch-table version of the board game Village.

Village has an interesting mechanic where you manage the life and death of your workers. All your workers start as farmers and can be trained as specialists. Actions take “time” to perform, and when enough “time” has passed, a worker dies. A limited number of each type of worker is rewarded with fame and victory points upon death while the rest get an anonymous grave. The key is making the best use of your workers and their time while  trying to arrange a good death.

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Websocket server for remote connections to touch table games

I am considering creating a system for touch table games so that they can be played both by people sitting around the table and by individuals at their own computer.

This post will talk about what I’d like to do and show the steps that I’ve taken to setup a websocket server on my domain and to connect to it from Unity.

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