Monthly Archives: July 2013

Japan in Pictures: Day 1-2

By this point, we had been the air for *years*
We’re just grazing Kamchatka! Cool!
Within 271 miles!
Although I suspect we were traveling faster than 400mi/hr at this point.
Yes, that’s 13 time zones. Great on the way there, a total bear on the way back.
Not quite as close…I guess Russian and Japan were not as friendly at this point.
Just skirting the continental shelf. There must be some type of international border there.
Hooray! Here! Now, for the most important thing. Take a picture of the Kanji for ‘washroom’.

Go: The Original Sandbox Game?

So my good friend Greg suggested that I learn Go recently. After being schooled multiple times (both by him and my computer game on easy), I figured that I should actually go out and learn something about it in a more organized way.

Then it got me thinking… What is it that really makes a sandbox game?

Something where you have a large amount of freedom to play in the style you want, but more importantly where you have large amount of freedom to play in the way you want, doing anything you want before the world impinges on you and makes that impossible?

Examples that come to mind are the Ultima series, Oblivion, Arcanum/Fallout, but all of these have a large variety of types of ‘moves’ that you can make.

Go has “two simple rules”:
– You can place a piece on the board anywhere where it will not be immediately taken by your opponent
– You can take your opponent’s pieces by completely surrounding one or more of them them with no empty spaces in the group

But out of this, you can make the most elegant patterns, and so many emergent properties, in a “Conway’s Game of Life” way. You can make so many different shapes, that all mean different things, and that your opponent will respond to in different ways, depending on who they are.

Maybe it’s more of a co-operative sandbox game.

Investigation is ongoing.


Rollick was wondering if she was trying to distract him. Well, more than she usually distracted him. His eyes traveled down. There was something about her shoes, too…

“A direct line from Russia to Japan? Is that actually finally happening?”

“Well, it’s more of a direct line from Japan to Russia, and that’s part of the problem…There are powerful forces on both sides of this. You have the xenophobic forces…”


“…Still, who want no truck with foreigners on their soil.”

“Do they not understand planes and ferries?”

“Logic has never been their strong point. Since the start of the second lost decade, they’ve been gaining power, even more so than usual.”

“It’s always island nations that have the luxury of ignoring the rest of the world.”

“Well, them and the Americans. But anyways, what we need to do is figure out what side the ambassador was on, and/or who she was really working for, ”

“And who she was talking to on the Japanese side.” Finished Rollick.

“Exactly. I’m going to start my information gathering on the ‘net. You start gumshoeing with either the French or the Japanese side. Your choice.”


“But seriously, what else did you notice about the crime scene?”

“The techs are the most professional looking ones I’ve ever seen?”

“No, about the area around the body.”

“Well, the blast had to be done by a professional. That kind of shaped charge is difficult to design, and is generally a one-off. Any mistake, and this whole room would be rubble.”

“So, who does that mean? Why would a professional get involved in this? Oh wait, that’s my question to answer.”

“Also, there’s something bothering me about the shard pattern, but I can’t put my finger on it. Make sure they do a path report on the parsnip rose, too.”

“Sure, sure. But I wanted to ask you. How much do you know about Sakhalin?”

“The Russian island between Kamchatka and Hokkaido?”

“Saying those words around here could get you killed,” she said with another of her smiles.

“So, what about Sakhalin?”

“What would it mean if there was a direct rail link between Russia and Japan?”


It could be Philippe, but he was far too much of a French Nationaliste, unless he could be persuaded that the ambassador was an existential thread to La Belle France. There were a couple of groups of Navy Seals, but motives were difficult to find there, too. All the other options were less likely. They were all retired, or would never get involved in something political like this.

But then again, he was, wasn’t he?

Rollick knelt down by the outline of where the body used to be, and saw the parsnip rose next to it. The petals looked somehow sharper than you would expect for a vegetable, and there was some kind of bluish tinge to it. As Rollick was looking closer to investigate, he heard a ‘crunch’ behind him.

“So, found anything yet?”

It was her again. Rollick turned to face her, seeing the smile she always seemed to have, that said that she knew far more than you about what was going on, and that she would take great pleasure in rubbing that in your face whenever you thought you had just figured it out. Wheels within wheels indeed. Rollick decided not to rise to the bait.

“I’m curious to know what the path report will say.”

“Probably that he died of a gunshot wound. What else could it possibly be?” she said with a smile.

“Well, I’m curious to know what the parsnip was doing here, right beside the body.”

“What? That? That’s just a calling card. I need to fill you in on why the ambassador was here. She was negotiating a large construction contract with the Japanese government.”


“What? You’re surprised that the French Government would send a female ambassador to Japan?”

Display Case

Rollick knelt down to check out the shards of transparent plas-crete embedded in the floor. They were mostly about 1-3 centimeters in length, half a centimeter across, and pointy to the touch. [Ouch!] Really pointy. Rollick sucked on the wound on the tip of his finger. Plas-crete, especially transparent plas-crete always sharded when it blew. The question was, what made it blow? A material that was strong enough for pressurized steam tubes in a fusion reactor wouldn’t blow for anything less than a professionally shaped C6 charge. And that narrowed down the list to a handful of people, all of whom Rollick knew, or knew of, and governments. Wonderful. It was that kind of day.