Defiant Sloth

A list of some lists, from Field Notes. A quintessential kind of post for the notebook brand, really.

Riven Remake is Wonderful

So... Cyan released a remake of 1997’s adventure game Riven (the sequel to Myst) this past month, and I took the plunge to nostalgia-surf my way to nirvana. And it worked. This game is tremendously engrossing, and every bit as intriguing as it was for my 12-year-old self when I played the multi-CD-ROM switching original. And I feel like I can solve most of its densely-layered, nonlinear puzzles without a guide this time.

This isn’t a long-winded review of any kind — just declaring that this game is wonderful, escapist artistry steeped in what I guess I’d call historical video game design. It'll bring you joy if you only just move around its environments, let alone solve its puzzles. Huge kudos to the Cyan team for rebuilding and adding perfectly-tuned modern updates the quintessence of the puzzle-adventure genre.

screenshot from the game Riven of the prison island, prominently featuring a blue, partly cloudy sky above an island comprised of half a huge tree trunk with a steampunk dome atop it

Caught up on a few posts from The Obsessor, and came across a recommendation for a new camera app called Pure from Trevor Walsh. Reminds me of the early iOS days of experimental apps — no image preview, just tap anywhere on the screen, it captures a photo, and limits you to 12 per day. It’s good.

Is there any other state in the US with such a breadth of grocery store non-dominance as Minnesota? Great piece by Adam Platt at MinnPost on the state of affairs. Big Kowalski’s fan, even if it’s only 2% marketshare.

graph depicting several grocery stores and their store numbers and marketshare from 2003 to 2013

Beer & Cheese from Vermont

We went cruising across Vermont last week for a vacation, staying in a variety of towns (including Burlington, Stowe, Waitsfield, and Woodstock). Lovely place. It's very much a "Wisconsin of the eastern US plus mountains", as we visited a number of dairy farms and tasted our way through a terrific breweries. I didn't take as many photos as I would have liked, but... here are a handful of shots (specifically of the beer and cheese we tried).

foamy draft-poured glass of IPA beer in a golden color on a black table with black coaster

The Alchemist’s legendary Heady Topper IPA, tasted off the draft line at the brewery near/in Stowe. Really nice campus there.

green can of Fiddlehead IPA on a metal tabletop outside

Fiddlehead’s IPA, which I saw in a can at just about every restaurant and bar we frequented.

square package of cheese called Plymouth Cheddar in all caps

An excellent pack of Plymouth Cheddar. We nibbled our way through this paired with a bottle of Ira Sylvan Trousseau wine, unintentionally good together.

dimly lit can of beer with red cursive text called Waterbury Club Lager on a wood bar top

The Waterbury Club Lager, brewed by Prohibition Pig. Apparently they were heavily inspired by signage across the street and “copied it nearly to a T” as much as they could, in all fairness.

circular package of cheese with teal label and an orange blowfish mascot

A package of the Willoughby Cheese by Jasper Hill Farms. Alas, we didn’t get a chance to visit this farm, but ate this while staying at a farm B&B, so kind of worked out.

aluminum bottle of water with blue colorway atop a stone pillar in front of a farm blurred in the background

For consistency’s sake, I usually always pose a photo of a water bottle. This was taken at the Billings Farm in Woodstock after a short bike ride there. Aluminum bottles or bust.

The people have been talking about Gabriel Smith’s Brat, and after picking it up at a local bookstore on our first day of vacation in Burlington, 30 pages in, I will admit that the people are right — this is a wickedly good new voice in literature. 📚

Book Calle Brat with blue text and deer in headlight on cover resting on plaid black and white blanket

This guy, absolute connoisseur of north Minnesota/Wisconsin dive bars. A pleasure bumping into his retrospective series of essays, and this one about south Superior’s Ray Bar and tap puppets, is just 🤌.

Ambitious collaboration of companies using “luminescent pigments [from FibreTrace’s tech] into raw cotton when ginning”, whereupon “scanning a pigment, it can be tracked throughout the supply chain, identified and verified on-site”. Love to see this supply chain innovation approach.

Om’s great suggestion for Apple resonates on a number of levels — donate to national park preservation as a backbone to copies of macOS installs (since they keep naming versions after California landmarks and to amplify their sustainability efforts). Win win.

Very pleased to see Christina Nguyen win Best Midwest Chef at the James Beard Awards last night. The other nominees were equally as great, but she’s been up for several years and it’s such a well-deserved win for her restaurant, Hai Hai, a Southeast Asian gem in northeast Minneapolis.

Sign outside Hai Hai yellow building reading Living the Hai Life

Nothing quite stirs an emotional energy like waltzing into your local bagel shop with “Never Gonna Give You Up” greeting you on the speakers.

Interior of a bagel shop with rows of baked goods and menus on chalkboards above

This MagSafe, slide-out Nintendo DS-like iPhone game controller is brilliantly conceived, and one of those things you wish you would have thought of first. Best wishes to Josh King in building this out at scale — smart kid! He also built a nice site for it, where you can sign-up to preorder.

Good to hear the use of QR code scanning for restaurant menus is reversing. This has been an insufferable practice that leaves dining too transactional, diluting the experience of interaction with the environment and server.

A Mexican food menu featuring tacos and a QR code on a wood table

There seems to be a changing tide to hustle culture — whether it’s the folks I follow getting more mature, or acknowledgement of irrational societal pressures — and a reckoning with slowing down, mitigating distractions, and re-balancing life. Tracy Durnell has a good list in which to adhere.

Kino was released today as a 1.0 — a powerful, fun new video recording app from Lux, the makers of the Halide photography app. Immediate download for me, foremost to just check out their neat intro-to-the-app brochure. Secondly, to record my dog, who just sat there on the couch blinking at me.

As an admitted bandwagoner, it’s been an absolute pleasure watching the Minnesota Timberwolves navigate through the NBA playoffs.

<img <a href=””> src=“" width=“541” height=“600” alt=“A menagerie of Minnesota Timberwolves images”>

Love this quest to make a mass-manufactured paper bottle (alc bev brands Diageo and Pernod Richard, along with CPG giant P&G, lead the way). Biggest hurdles have been shedding a plastic lining, leaks and retaining carbonation, and weight issues during transportation.

Worthwhile, fun article on the very talented actress Sarah Paulson, whose performance in The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story as lead prosecutor comes to mind as most memorable next to her work in AHS. It’s unfortunate I’m not near Broadway to see her award-nominated play.

Love that this is the example of how LLMs working together as teams, called multi-agent systems (mas), hallucinate in an altogether nuttier level.

Screenshot of article quote that states: “There are downsides. llms sometimes have a propensity for inventing wildly illogical solutions to their tasks and, in a multi-agent system, these hallucinations can cascade through the whole team. In the bomb-defusing exercise run by darpa, for example, at one stage an agent proposed looking for bombs that were already defused instead of finding active bombs and then defusing them.”

I just received the email about Five Dials closing shop after a wonderful 16-year run. It’s been a great digital literary magazine, curating a variety of writers for travelogues, reporting, interviews, and stories. Luckily, they posted their entire archive for perusing.

Jason Fried is finding his niche with the Once software` portfolio that 37signals is building out. This recent post of his exemplifies the catalyst for them to do it, to the backdrop of horribly over-priced parking software:

[bad, overpriced software] is a deep well that keeps on providing.

Declaring it here: Dragon Quest IX has the best battle music in the series.

Scene from the Nintendo DS game Dragon Quest IX depicting a split screen with the upper one of the hero character attacking a slime, the lower one the stats of the battle

Zippers Deserve a Holiday

I’m not usually one for randomly invented holidays, but if today is ‘Zipper Day’, I’m here to celebrate. I’ve written, shall we say, extensively on zippers in my bag reviews and my posts on zipper pulls here and here.

My fixation with zippers is mostly about functionality and the usability experience of the mundane: zippers are an intrinsic part of any ‘thing’ they’re attached to, and so, quality zippers are important, and the tactility of using good ones makes a product much more enjoyable and long-lasting. You know what I’m talking about.

Anyway, here’s one of my favorite types of zippers, the YKK #5RC with DWR finish, featured on the Evergoods Civic Access Pouch 0.5 Liter.

Enjoy your zipping today.

close up photo of a black nylon accessory pouch and a steel YKK zipper

The absolute disregard of reasonable proportions in the wedge salad at Manny’s Steakhouse is perfection.

A wedge salad with an absurd amount of thick cut bacon bits next to a water glass and martini.

8BitDo Micro Controller is a Super Portable Wonder

With the new Delta game emulator out for iOS, I decided to invest in a super portable controller to use with a majority of 2D, non-joystick games. Always liked 8BitDo’s work, but never had much of a reason to purchase their controllers.

But I found their Micro controller impossible not to try, and subsequently enjoy:

  • At $20, it’s an easy buy.
  • It comes in two jolly colors
  • Has a battery that lasts an alleged 12 hours on a charge via USB-C
  • Thing measures just around the size of an AirPods Pro case
  • Shockingly, it’s not cramped to hold and use, and the buttons are very good for such a light, small housing

While it says on most of the product pages it doesn’t explicitly work with iOS, it absolutely does. Set it in Switch ‘S’ mode and add it like you would any other controller via the Bluetooth setting (it’ll show up as a ‘Pro Controller’). Works great with Delta, but haven’t tried it with other iOS games yet.

In summary, a recommended little buy.

A small rectangular controller in a shade of purple-blue sitting on a dark wooden surface