Sunday, June 25, 2017

Whiz, Bang, Boom - the best campfire drinking game.

I just saw a compilation of campfire games for adults, and was surprised that Whiz, Bang, Boom wasn't on there.

I can't remember who taught this to me, but I've brought it to whatever gatherings I could, and after a quick internet search failed to reveal a write-up of the rules, I decided I'd take a shot at it.  Perhaps it's called something else by other people, I'd be happy to learn that.  I should also add some illustrations, but that's not my forte.


Sit in a circle (preferably around a campfire).  It should be obvious who is to your left and to your right.  Each person should also be able to point to someone across the circle from them.

To socialize and have a good time.  The game ends when everyone is bored, or unable to continue playing.

An easy way to think of the game is to imagine you are passing an imaginary hot potato from person to person around the circle.  Anytime anyone screws up, they take a drink.

A "starter" is selected using any method.

The starter begins a round by performing a Whiz to either their right or left.  This initiates the movement of the imaginary potato by sending it in a direction around the circle.

The imaginary potato is passed from player to player.  When receiving the potato a player must choose and perform one of three possible moves - Whiz, Bang, or Boom to continue passing the potato.  If the receiving player makes a mistake, either by performing an illegal move, performing the move incorrectly (typically by using the wrong hand), or taking too long as judged by the group, then the round ends.  The offending player takes a drink, and a new round beings with the drinker as the new starter.

The Whiz is used to either a) start a round, b) continue passing the potato in the same direction as it was received, or c) establish a new direction for the potato if it came from across the circle as a result of a "Boom".  A Whiz cannot be used to change direction.
To perform a Whiz, a player makes a sweeping motion with an arm and hand from outside to inside, while saying "Whiz" out loud.
That is, if the potato comes to the player from their right side, they sweep their right arm and hand from right to left, resulting in them pointing left.
This continues passing the potato leftward, to the person at the players left.
If the potato comes at a player from the left side, they must sweep their left hand and arm from left to right, while pointing (and saying "Whiz").  This would continue the potato's motion rightward, passing it to the person at the players right.

A Whiz cannot be used to change direction.  If the potato arrives from the left, the player cannot use their right hand to sweep right-to-left and redirect it leftward.  Changing direction constitutes a drinkable, round-ending mistake.

A common mistake is to sweep in the correct direction, but using the wrong arm.  If the potato arrives from the right, a player cannot use their left arm and attempt to sweep right to left.  The right arm must be used.

The potato may arrive at a player from across the circle due to a Boom, in this case either a right or left sweep is permitted to direct the potato around the circle (the correct outside-to-inside sweeping motion must be performed, i.e. the left hand cannot be used to sweep right-to-left)

A Bang may only be performed in response to a Whiz, or another Bang.  The bang is like a mirror that reflects the potato back to the person from whom the player received it.
The Bang is performed by holding up the opposite hand from which the potato arrived (either the right or left hand), palm facing the direction you are deflecting the potato back to, while saying "Bang."
Example:  if the potato is arriving from a player's right, they would hold up their left hand, palm facing right, and say "Bang."  This changes the direction of the potato, sending it back to the right of the player (where it came from).
If the player attempts to Bang with the wrong hand, that constitutes a drinkable, round-ending mistake.
A Bang often catches people off-guard who expect the potato to continue in the same direction after a few comfortable Whizzes.  Two players can also get into a tense "Bang-off" by repeatedly Bang-ing back and forth until one of them Whizzes it along, or Booms it across the circle.

A Boom may only be performed following a Bang.  The Boom sends the potato across the circle to any non-adjacent player (typically unexpectedly).
To perform a Boom, the player receiving the potato as a result of a Bang clearly points across the circle to anyone that is not immediately adjacent to them while saying "Boom".
Either hand may be used to point.  If the receiving player is not clearly pointed to, that constitutes a round-ending, drinkable mistake.

1) The starter uses their right hand, sweeping right to left, and points left saying "Whiz".
2) The person to their left keeps the momentum going by saying "Whiz" and also sweeping their pointing right hand from right to left.
3) the person to their left holds up their left hand, palm facing right, and says "Bang".
4) the person to their right (who was the Whizzer in step 2) sweeps their left hand from left to right, pointing right, and says "Whiz"
5) the person to their right (who was the starter) holds their right hand up, palm facing left, and says "Bang" to reflect it back
6) the person to their left (the same poor Whizzer as in step 2, now feeling caught in the middle) says "Boom" and points across the circle at someone.
7) that person isn't paying enough attention, and they fail to Whiz properly.  The round ends, that person drinks, and they start the next round with a Whiz in either direction.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Project: 3D Printing Mechanical Movements

I am fascinated by simple machines.  If you're not sure what I mean, see if this site on Mechanical Movements excites you at all.  If it does, read on!

The recent 3D Printing craze caught up with me over the holidays in the form of an Up Plus! 2 by  It received top marks in the "Just Hit Print" category of the 2014 Maker 3D Printer guide. Here is my experience so far.

I have enjoyed my time browsing Thingiverse for ideas.  It is a social network where you share models used with 3d printers, and has led me to printing some really incredible objects.  I've made some rookie mistakes, and learned a few tips along the way.

First, my out-of-the-box attempt:
Nautilus Gear
My next attempt was a complete failure:
A Screw
Lastly, my recent successes!
Trammel of Archimedes
Sierpinski Pyramid

Thursday, January 2, 2014

DeckRink 2014

I'm sure I'm not the only Canadian who feels less-than-whole because I have never built a backyard ice rink.  I am also a wannabe Maker on the lookout for a small-scope project.  Over the Christmas holiday, I solved both problems by making a rink.  On my deck.

It was mild out (4C).  The forecast said the temperature would drop and spend a few days in the -10C range.  I thought I recalled from the Surface Tension exhibit at the Museum that a backyard rink requires 5 straight days of negative Celsius temperature.  I figured since this was going to be on my deck, it would freeze from below as well as above.  A man-made "Caution: Bridge Ices" scenario.

The deck was covered in snow.  We didn't want the lumpiness to undo the perfect leveling provided by building on a deck, so we cleared it first.  Teri helped, and we shoveled really gently with plastic shovels to avoid wrecking the wood.

After clearing the deck we laid out the tarp.  It was a large 20'x20' tarp I bought last year (ahem, for  this idea, which I didn't get around to at the time)  The tarp was much bigger than our deck, so we zip-tied it to the railing on one side while we squared up the bottom.  We anchored it in a bunch of places with snow and plastic backyard chairs (which we thought would make cool built-in chairs anyhow).  This gave us a lined pool.  

To fill it, we used the garden hose.  The mild temperature meant the outdoor water tap was working, and the hose was accessed with ease because I had just neatly put it away for Winter.

It took a long time to fill the volume, but we went with about 4cm of water in the pool. 

The next day, the temperature did drop like forecast, and a test of the rink after 24 hours (by stepping on it) revealed that it was not yet frozen, but a nice thick (1cm) ice layer.

The day after (48hr), the rink was solid.  The kids skated all day, and supervision was us enjoying some glögg by the fireplace.  And it never once smelled like hockey skates.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Archetypal Beauty: the Tribhanga

I was stumbling through the vast time-wasting expanse of the internet, when I happened to come across the following photo:
Keira Knightley

Whether or not Keira Knightley is exactly your thing, I hope you can appreciate that this is a striking pose.  There is something about that S shaped curve, the angular elbow, level shoulder, and vertical  neck and arm that just seems aesthetically beautiful. 

Reflecting on what it is that made this picture jump out at me, I recalled something I saw at the museum recently.

Over the Christmas break, the family went down to the ROM to check out the new Dinosaur exhibit.  Entrance to the exhibit is gated by the particular time on your ticket, so we spent our wait in other parts of the museum.

It was in a section of sculptures that I read about the "tri-bent pose," or Tribhanga.  It is a standing body position with bends at the neck, waste, and knee.  The Hindu deity Krishna is often represented in such a stance (such as the sculpture at the ROM).  Buddhist representations are also found in tribhanga:
Avalokiteśvara in tribhanga

Avalokiteśvara in tribhanga

Clearly, the Indians are onto something.  As I learned from the wikipedia entry, the tribhanga position is considered to be the most graceful and sensual position in the classical Indian dance style of Odissi

Well, I had to see some of this dancing for myself.  The first youtube video I came across was the following recording of an Indian Odissi dance.  Despite having essentially no previous exposure to, nor appreciation of Indian dance, I was stunned by the skill, choreography, and grace they demonstrated (not to mention the incredible music).

So this was a quick journey in beauty, from celebrity skin to Hinduism, Buddhism, and classical Indian dance.  Experiencing our shared human condition over vast cultural divides blows my mind.  I hope you gained a little enlightenment too.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What horrible software have you used today?

I would like to nominate Microsoft Lync, for a recent webinar/remote presentation I was invited to.
Allow me to describe my experience.
  1. About 5 minutes before the start time, I navigate to the meeting invite URL on my Mac, in my default browser: Firefox.
  2. Dead on arrival - looks like I need to download and install Silverlight (50MB).  Sure, whatever.
  3. Install Silverlight, restart Firefox.  It's still telling me to install Silverlight.  Weird.  
  4. Might as well try Safari, probably closer to a "supported configuration" right?  It's recognizing Silverlight, hurray!  (but why didn't it configure Firefox?) Who cares, at least we're good to go now.
  5. Not so fast! I get this bright red error message:  "You cannot join the meeting because of a server configuration issue. Please contact the meeting organizer."
  6. I email the organizer. A minute or two later comes the response:  "the meeting has now started, you should be able to join."  I guess not starting the meeting is a configuration issue...
  7. At this point, I switch over to a PC laptop, figuring I might as well conform to the expected Microsoft ecosystem.
  8. The meeting starts, and I'm about to "enter the lobby."  I have a choice:  Would I like to "join using my browser"' or "download and use LyncAttendee?"
  9. I choose browser.  As it turns out, Audio isn't supported (wth is the silverlight plugin for?)
  10. I guess I have to see about getting Lync Attendee after all.  Dammit, the URL for LyncAttendee isn't handy, because I've joined the meeting already using the browser...
  11. I go back to my original meeting invite URL... There's the link! I spend some time downloading (another 50MB) and installing.
  12. I rejoin the meeting using Lync Attendee instead of the browser. How weird - there is still no audio!
  13. Ah, but wait, I see an error message! "Your audio device is not configured properly." That's not very helpful.
  14. I verify that my speakers are working by clicking on the volume control... There's the familiar "Ding!" sound.  I check control panel just to see if there's any other weird devices available.  Nope.  Seems fine to me.
  15. I notice the error message was click-able... Maybe there are some troubleshooting tips there.. "Your audio device is not set up properly, check your settings in 'Audio Device Options'"  Alrighty then, let's just find that menu option....
  16. Geez, I can't seem to find it anywhere... let's try google: "lync attendee audio device not configured"  Lots of hits.
  17. Good grief!!  The first hit reveals that "Audio Device Options" DOESNT EVEN EXIST in Lync Attendee.  That is apparently a Lync 2010 feature.  Another wtf, and another dead end.
  18. Back to google.  I navigate to the next search hit.. and miraculously, find a solution.  Some internet guy responding to a forum post writes: "you must not have a microphone plugged in. If you don't have a mic, Lync Attendee reports audio configuration problems..."  Wow.  Really?
  19. I dig out a crappy old mic, plug it in, and presto - I can hear the presenter!
This is what he said: "Thanks everyone, for attending.  Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions."

Friday, September 21, 2012

iPad Celsius settings for Siri - wth?

I love my iPad.  I don't have an iPhone, so I wasn't all gaga for the iPhone 5...  I was instead pretty excited for the iOS6 update, and to try out Siri.

So what can this Siri thing do anyway?  
I long pressed "Home," and said "What's tomorrow's weather?"
It worked!!  Well sort of.  It was in Fahrenheit.  I live in Canada where we base our temperature off the temperature of ice :)

I went to Settings > General > Siri, and double-checked my region.  Set correctly.  Weird.

I tried asking Siri, "What's tomorrow's weather in Celsius?"  Same answer.

I searched the web.  Found that you can change a setting in the Weather app.  Unfortunately, the iPad doesn't have such a beast.  Well, so much for that.  I was disappointed.  What a terrible oversight.

Decided to try my google-fu again today.. and found the answer here.   You change the settings in the Clock app.

The Clock App?  Good Grief.  

At least it gives me the weather the way I expect it to now, but Steve must be rolling in his grave.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Brand Recognition

A few years ago, my wife and I read an article about how many brand logos a typical 3 year old is able to recognize.  A simple search for "Child Brand Recognition" will get you there.  Suitably sickened, we decided that we'd at least casually try to avoid over-exposing our kids to marketer brainwashing.

I tend to think we've done pretty well generally, but once in a while it's easy to forget.  At the end of a recent doctor appointment, the kids were able to pick out some knick-knacks to bring home (Spiderman and Dora stickers, etc.).  They opted for some rubber band bracelets from a pharmaceutical company.  It's a wide yellow bracelet with "Axert" featured in blue.

It had been over a week, and Colin was of course still wearing his "cool" bracelet.  It wasn't until last night that we realized what had happened:  

"Yeesh! Y'know, he's been a walking drug company ad for a week!"
"Terrible!  Kids should not be used to advertise drugs!"
"We should at least be aware of what this Axert stuff is..."
"Google to the rescue!"

15 seconds later....

Axert: Migraine Treatment Medication

Well, that seems appropriate.  Nevermind.