owen

I recently ditched my morning routine of playing word games, such as the New York Times mini crossword and Wordle puzzles. Instead of relying on published online tips for solving Wordle, I thought it’d be interesting to craft my own tool using a unique algorithm. This algorithm considers the number of words left in the dictionary that include the revealed letters from the Wordle puzzle, while also taking into account the frequency of those letters in other words.

Surprisingly, my algorithm has performed quite well. The Wordle bot, which seemingly aims for perfection using a “bits of information” approach, often rates my method as less lucky and skilled. However, my algorithm still solves puzzles in fewer guesses on average. I’ve reached out to the New York Times staff with screenshots of these results, but they haven’t responded. They have, though, adjusted their luck and skill calculations, yet I still occasionally outperform the Wordle bot.

owen

Last Thursday, I joined a comedy show at Angry Jack’s Axe Throwing Lanes. With only three other comedians and a tiny audience primarily consisting of friends, it’s bewildering that I didn’t win, given that the victor was chosen by audience vote. Nonetheless, I suspect one of my fellow comedians had COVID since I’ve now contracted it for the second time.

With the children away at college and a less stringent approach to isolation than my previous two-week confinement in the master bedroom over Christmas, my wife Berta has also developed some symptoms. Fortunately, our experience has been akin to a cold with mild achiness.

owen

In the dense, shadowed embrace of Ravenwood Forest, my brother and I found ourselves alone, the comforting presence of our parents swallowed by the thick foliage. Panic set in as we called out, our voices lost amongst the ancient trees. We had stopped for a rest on our way to Port Haven, our family’s caravan laden with goods for trade, when a sudden rustle in the underbrush had drawn our curiosity, leading us astray.

I could feel the fear of never seeing our parents again seeping slowly into my heart as the last of the light dimmed through the forest canopy. Evin gripped my hand firmly as we carefully made our teary way through brush and leaf, searching for sign of open road or family. That’s when they appeared—men with cruel eyes and harsh whispers, brigands who saw in us an opportunity for ransom. We were helpless to their force, our cries muffled, our spirits lost.

owen

Conner’s mom was busy at the stove, with three pots boiling and a wooden spoon stirring something brown and thick in a small saucepan. The kitchen was a symphony of aromas, with the rich, earthy scent of spices mingling with the tangy sweetness of tomatoes simmering away. Today, she was preparing a feast, but not just any feast. Today, she was tackling the ambitious task of making the perfect eggplant parmigiana, a dish that had eluded her culinary grasp for years.

Conner, on the other hand, was far less interested in the culinary arts. He was sprawled on the living room floor, engrossed in a book, the sounds of his mother’s cooking a comforting background noise to his adventures. However, today was different. Today, his mother had enlisted his help for her culinary quest, and he knew better than to think he could escape the duties of being her sous-chef.

owen

I’ve been thinking for a while about a kind of role playing game that I’d like to play in. It has certain thematic elements and mechanics, with wide open opportunities for story and play. What I really wanted was something with a modern feel, but included fantasy elements. My world should easily allow stories to take place in a modern setting, but also a fantasy one, and support both magic and technology.

Of course, a game like this that immediately comes to mind for me is Shadowrun. Shadowrun has always struck me as the most interesting blend of the cyberpunk future and the arcane in a mainstream RPG. As much as I like the world of Shadowrun, I think it has a handful of limitations that I would not want for my own world. For one, the players are strongly encouraged to be shadowrunners. This means that most stories are going to fall in the domain of “a group of players working together to achieve some kind of anti/corporate goal, who get into trouble along the way”. That’s fine, but it leaves a lot on the table. Again, you could play something else, but the source material isn’t really helpful for this.