Saturday, December 29, 2012

Thumbs Up: A Game of Rural Autobubbling

Objective: Get from Point A to Point B in as little time possible.


-          -You have to be on a public road at all times.

-          -You must obey all traffic laws.

-          -Points A and B must be at least 45 miles apart, as the crow flies.

-          -You may not use any Interstate Highways or roads colored orange in Google Maps.

-          -You may not use any roads with more than two lanes.

-          -If a road has two lanes for traffic, gains lanes at an intersection, but then immediately goes back down to two after the intersection, it counts as a two-lane road.

-         - You may not use any roads that go directly from A to B.

-          -You may use roads colored yellow on Google Maps for up to 15% of the journey, but time spent on these roads after the first 5% is counted as double.

-          -Players are not penalized for crossing roads which are yellow or more than two lanes at an intersection.

-          -Time spent on dirt roads only counts for half as much(ie, driving 10 minutes on a dirt road only counts as 5)

-         - The clock may not be stopped for red lights or stop signs. It may be stopped for railroad crossings.

-          -The clock may be stopped for going to the bathroom and getting gas.

-          -The clock may only be stopped for eating if the car is parked or in a drive-thru.

-          If the player needs to get gas, or eat, or go to the bathroom, and there are no ways to get to a bathroom, gas station, or restaurant on a two-lane non-yellow road, the clock is to be stopped at the last two-lane non-yellow road before the gas station, restaurant, or bathroom, and started again when back on that road.

Example Game: For all my SE Michigan readers, here’s an example game.

Objective: Get from Dequindre and Mt. Vernon to the intersection of State St. and Arch St. Port Austin, MI. 

Rules: Follow all rules above. You may use yellow roads for up to 15 miles but you must count double time after the first 5 miles. You may not use Van Dyke or M53. GO!

Update: This is my route for the above game, split into two parts because I almost broke Mapquest.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Axelrod: A Tragicomedy

David Axelrod sat at the conference table, his hands jittering as he tried to place the spoon over his absinthe glass, spilling it and sending the drink everywhere in a haphazard spray of leaded glass and absinthe, like something from a 19th Century bohemian’s fantasies.

He stared at the bits of booze and glass and broken dreams despondently for a few seconds. For a brief moment, the thought struck him to lick what he could up from the conference table, but as he lowered his face to the table, Stef Cutter spoke up.

“Uh, David, we’re ready for the meeting to start.”

He looked up like he had been woken from a nightmare into an even worse nightmare.

“Oh, right, of course.”, Axelrod said, standing up the best he could and making a feeble attempt to straighten his tie, which smelled distinctly of tears and scotch, more so than usual.

“Ahem. As you all know. We’re completely screwed.”

He nodded, confident that that massive display of oratorical eloquence had settled everything.

“Meeting adjourned!” he said, his forehead pressed hard against the table as he made an attempt to lick the last bits of scotch up from his tie.

“Not so fast”, Brad Woodhouse said, “We’re not screwed! FiveThirtyEight still has us at a 70% chance of winning!”

David Axelrod gave something halfway between a laugh and a cry that quickly descended into crying exclusively.


“And a model!” Stef Cutter said.

This caused Axelrod to lunge across the table, but lacking the strength to actually propel himself across five feet of oak, he found himself spread-eagled over the table, laying in a pool of absinthe. And leaded glass, but he didn’t mind that too much. The absinthe was worth it.

“He he he he ho ho ho ho!”, Axelrod muttered quietly to himself. For a few brief seconds, he was happy. It was 2008 again. He felt like a pig, wallowing in a pit of pure hedonism.

Seconds later, reality was upon him again. It wasn’t 2008. It was 2012, and his nightmares were just beginning.


Everybody else at the table was silent.

Axelrod screamed, “BINDERS! We wasted days on BINDERS! How? Why? And lady parts and fuel economy! Who the fuck cares about fuel economy!? 2006 is over!”

Silence in the conference room.

Axelrod continued.

“We’re hemorrhaging money and votes. We pulled out of Florida in cowardice, and in an act of supreme hubris, we pulled out of Michigan! Now we’re having to spend time and money defending MINNESTOA! Do you know when was the last time we lost Minnesota?”

“1972”, an intern said.

“That’s right! 1972! Do you remember 1972?”, Axelrod asked the intern.

“Uh, sir, I’m 22. I was born in 1990.”

“Oh. I remember 1972. I was seventeen. God, I had my whole life ahead of me. Everything was going great. Sure, the Democrats lost big, but I didn’t care then. I had a life. The world was so beautiful!”

Everybody stared at him. Nobody else could remember 1972. Or what they did before going into politics at all.

“Look, David” Stef Cutter said, “we’re doing our best to appeal to our base.”

“OUR BASE!? Our base is a bunch of 30-year old white college students on welfare! These are people for whom the biggest issues are actually ‘lady parts’, contraception, fuel economy, and gay marriage! LOOK OUT THE WINDOW!”

There was no window in the room.

“See all those people out there?”

There was silence across the room.

“THEY DON’T GIVE A CRAP ABOUT CONTRACEPTIVES! BOO FUCKING HOO! We’re all going to die on a hill for Sandra Fluke and Lena Dunham!”

“Nonsense!”, Brad Woodhouse said, “We’re talking about real issues. Did you see that ad with the kids singing?”

“Don’t you dare bring that up in front of me! Creepy kids singing about polar bears and strip mines! Show of hands: Who would actually care if all the polar bears died! Or if the government didn’t pay for birth control?”

One intern raised her hand.

“Oh, this is going to be good!”, Axelrod said. “Where are you from?”

“Bloomfield Hills.”

“Oh, great. And your parents?”

“Well, one’s a lawyer and the other one works for the State Department.”

“Fucking wonderful. Where do you go to school?”


“Brilliant. Have you ever worked a day in your life?”

“Well, one time I drove my Volt through an upper-middle class neighborhood. People there looked like they’d be working.”

“And how old are you?”


Axelrod pointed to her. “See? There’s our problem! I had a real job once, I don’t remember what it was, but I know I must’ve had it!”

Brad Woodhouse stood up.

“I had a job onc- Oh, wait, that was a TV show I saw.”

“My family”, David muttered to himself. “I have a family. I haven’t seen them in months.”

Stef Cutter stood up.

“Okay, so what we’ve taken from this meeting is that we’re set to pick up at least 350 Electoral Votes. Who’s up for wings and amphetamines at my place?”

“Aye!”, said all except Axelrod.

“Very good”, Cutter said. “Meeting adjourned.”

They all filed out of the room. Happy, complacent. No idea of what was coming. The last one closed the door and shut the lights on Axelrod, who was in the fetal position on the table.

“Where’s my family?”

(Update: 11/7: Well, this wasn't terribly prescient, was it?)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Existential Horrorscopes, 8/20/2012

Aries: You’re very energetic because you need constant diversion to placate your shallow self.

Taurus: Your stubbornness is the result of your biological impulses giving you the illusion of choice, when none exists.

Gemini: Your caring demeanor is the result of you being scared to death of feeling unloved. Beneath it, you are as ugly as the rest of us.

Cancer: You have strong faith in others because you put no faith in yourself.

Leo: Your pride is a self-delusion intended to prevent true introspection.

Virgo: No matter how hard you try, you cannot turn your analytical skills on yourself without sobbing uncontrollably.

Libra: You act refined because at least that makes you somewhat interesting, if only interesting in how phenomenally boring you really are.

Scorpio: You’re quick on your feet, but have you ever stopped and just THOUGHT, you hollow cretin?

Sagittarius: You fashion yourself to be a big fish in a small pond, but you aren’t even a small fish in a big pond. You are a minnow’s skeleton in an vast, otherwise empty, sea.

Capricorn: Oh, you think you’re deep and brooding, but you’re just another husk vainly searching for meaning in The Void.

Aquarius: You live your life in a constant state of rebellion from something or another in an attempt to delude yourself into thinking your existence has a knowable meaning.

Pisces: You surround yourself with fantasy worlds, unaware that the most spectacularly unreal existence is your own.

(Big thanks to Kimberly Szarama for editing this pit of soul crushing dread and advising me on the astrological stuff that I usually just say "BAH!" to.)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Existential Horrorscopes, 8/13/2012

Aries: You construct a façade for yourself because it is the only mildly interesting thing you can do with your life, you sad automaton.

Taurus: You are a hollow husk of a human being living in what seems to you to be an interesting world. DO SOMETHING!

Gemini: At least the constant shattering of your hopes will give you something to talk about at parties.

Cancer: You wonder if you have free will. Then you wonder if it would even matter.

Leo: No matter how many “friends” you surround yourself with; you never quite stop feeling alone.

Virgo: Your existence is so pathetic it would be funny if it weren’t happening to you.

Libra: How are you different from everybody else?

Scorpio: Your sense of closure is destroying all attempts at controlling your life. You would rather know for certain that your existence is meaningless than suspect that the nature of your existence is unknowable.

Sagittarius: You try to extrapolate a literary structure onto your life in a pitiful attempt to give your existence some meaning.

Capricorn: Why?

Aquarius: You cultivate an air of “quirkiness” though that may just be creeping insanity caused by your inability to adapt to the world you live in.

Pisces: Every day, you are drawn one day closer to a complete mental breakdown. And yet you’re sane enough to know that.

 (Big thanks to Kimberly Szarama for editing this pit of soul crushing dread and advising me on the astrological stuff that I usually just say "BAH!" to.)

Monday, July 30, 2012

Existential Horrorscopes, 7/30/2012

Aries: You frequently stare at yourself in the mirror for long periods of time, because staring at the outside is much easier than examining the inside.

Taurus: You put up a carefully constructed façade to cover your existential terror. Everybody can see through it, but they haven’t got the heart to tell you.

Gemini: You distract yourself with chasing windmills in order to avoid chasing yourself.

Cancer: On the rare occasions when you actually look within yourself, you feel proud of yourself and “special”, blissfully unaware that even in introspection, you are not unique.

Leo: You are aware that the world does not know or care that you exist, yet your impulses demand that you are “different”, that you are to be treated “special”, and this dissonance is the cause of your terrors.

Virgo: Your regrets haunt you like a pack of bloodthirsty hounds, but you can make them disappear by refusing to dwell on them. You are aware of this, but do nothing to stop them.

Libra: You suspect that you are an island of mediocrity in a sea of greatness, regardless of whether or not you are right, this suspicion is slowly eroding your sanity.

Scorpio: On the Stage of Life, you’re a tree.

Sagittarius: You fill yourself with epicurean delights, but they are never quite able to fill The Void within you, are they?

Capricorn: No matter what you’ve accomplished, no matter how many people you’ve loved, helped, or hurt, you will die alone.

Aquarius: Your life has gotten to the point where you are haunted by what you didn’t do, rather than what you did.

Pisces: You will never know for sure if anybody ever truly knew you. You wonder if it would be for the better that they didn’t.

(Big thanks to Kimberly Szarama for editing this pit of soul crushing dread and advising me on the astrological stuff that I usually just say "BAH!" to.)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Existential Horrorscopes, 7/23/2012

Aries: Every day, you feel more distant from your peers, for they always emerge to you as empty husks of people. But maybe you’re the husk.

Taurus: The more you know someone, the more you grow to despise them, because you see yourself in them, and isolate yourself from them rather than bettering yourself.

Gemini: Ennui surrounds you, you suspect that it is slowly killing you from the inside, yet all you do is read advice from some asshole on the internet?

Cancer: Your life is filled with soul-crushing monotony, yet you make no attempts to change it, further illustrating your own self-imposed powerlessness, you pitiful cretin.

Leo: Misery is the only constant in your life, and is thus the only thing keeping you sane.
Virgo: The tragic farce of your life will make an excellent TV movie someday.

Libra: You do not want to truly know thyself, and, in your case, I can’t honestly say I blame you.

Scorpio: You are terrified by the prospect that you may not even by the protagonist in the story of your own life.

Sagittarius: You may have squandered nearly every opportunity to make your life interesting. Was it worth it?

Capricorn: You surround yourself with “friends” at all times because when you are alone, your forced introspection gnaws at your frail psyche.

Aquarius: You feel trapped by the incomprehensibility of your own existence.

Pisces: No matter how hard you beg the Universe, it will not provide you with a suitable answer to the question of your own existence. 

(Big thanks to Kimberly Szarama for editing this pit of soul crushing dread and advising me on the astrological stuff that I usually just say "BAH!" to.)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Existential Horrorscopes

Aries: The terrors of the outside world shall never compare to the internal terror that is your existence.

Taurus: You will never be as happy as you were when you were ten, and you will hate yourself for this.

Gemini: Your life is a cruel joke, your suffering is the setup, and your death the ultimate punchline.

Cancer: You're never alone as long as there are others around to laugh at your myriad misfortunes.

Leo: No matter what you do on the outside, the emptiness on the inside will forever remain.

Virgo: You are a grain of sand on the beach of the Universe, and two people are having sex on top you you right now.

Libra: Even Sisyphus is proud that his life is full of less mindless, soul-crushing repetition than yours.

Scorpio: Every day you think that it was a mistake getting out of bed. Every day you are right. Why do you continue?

Sagittarius: Nobody likes you because you're a belligerent asshole, but you can't change it, because that's all you know

Capricorn: You will die cold and alone, covered in your own tears, with only The Void for company.

Aquarius: Even the Abyss is ashamed to stare back at you, you hollow, empty, husk of a human.

Pisces: Every day you find yourself more isolated from all around you. All is fleeting, especially those you thought you could trust.