Contradiction in Terms
You say to-may-toe; I say toh-mah-tah. Deal with it.
Friday, December 19, 2003

I didn't want to be blog-silent these past couple of days, but a long-standing corporate client suddenly contacted me last Tuesday for a major rewrite of an already-completed project. (In fact, for 'major rewrite', you can just substitute the phrase 'complete overhaul'.) Not my fault, really: the former person in charge of the project suddenly got the axe, and of course, new management equals new specs. So I had to wade through around 60 pages of new resource material in order to come up with nine pages of new copy.

I surprised myself by managing to do it in just two days, but now I have no brain.

Fortunately, you don't need too much brain power to play most PC games, so I picked up a couple of new ones when Dean and I were in Greenhills. I was all excited to play Mall Tycoon 2, where you get to create your own mall from the ground up, but I found the gameplay a little intimidating since they don't even have tutorials or hints or in-game help or anything! There's so much detail it's amazing, but it also makes it too hard to learn without some kind of guidance. (Or maybe it's just my current lack of cranial capacity.)

Luckily, Sea World Adventure Park Tycoon has proven to be much more fun. As the name implies, you get to build your own Sea World Adventure Park, in either free build mode or a series of scenarios ranging from ludicrously easy to tear-your-hair-out. The visuals are gorgeous (I've spent valuable minutes so far just watching my seals play in their habitat.), and it's both easy to learn and absorbing to play. In fact, I'm going right back to it as soon as I'm done publishing this!

useless knowledge
Since reading The Name of the Rose, I've been intrigued by the concept of canonical 'hours'. Admittedly, this is partly because they have such cool names (like 'Matins' and 'Compline'), but also because no one has seemed able to clearly explain to me exactly what times these so-called 'hours' (which last a lot longer than 60 minutes) correspond to.

Turns out it works like this: the monks would divide the daylight portion of each day into four equal parts (from Prime to Nones), and the period of darkness was divvied up likewise (from Vespers to Lauds). So if the sun rose at 6 a.m. and set at 6 p.m., your canonical day would equate to standard time like this:

Prime = 6 a.m.
Terce = 9 a.m.
Sext = 12 noon
Nones = 3 p.m.
Vespers = 6 p.m.
Compline = 9 p.m.
Matins = 12 midnight
Lauds = 3 a.m.

So it looks like each canonical hour equals three of our regular hours, but the catch is that it only works that way during an equinox! The rest of the year, the nighttime can be longer than the daytime, as well as vice versa, meaning that sometimes the daylight 'hours' are significantly longer than the darkness 'hours', or the other way around.

To complicate matters further, the monks did not get up with the sun, but before it-- usually at Lauds, but sometimes at Matins, or sometimes they combined Matins with Lauds (presumably when no one wanted to get up quite that early). The astonishing thing is that everyone apparently understood how this works, and considered it a perfectly reasonable method of timekeeping.

It's because the names are just so neat, I bet.
Nikki bit in at 1:27 PM :: ::
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Nikki Alfar is really not as sexy as El's illustration would have you believe... but she doesn't mind if you think of her that way.
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