Growing Up

I was thinking of getting a couch or something for my room, somewhere for guests to lounge around.

Fuck new couches. I now have a ball pit in my room.

I talked a little bit to Mike Machenry, who built a ball pit last year after reading my comic about it. The big problem with ball pits is that they’re expensive. Filling a room costs on the order of $4000, give or take. You can use this calculator (set up by relsqui of #xkcd) to find the cost for a given room. I’d use 64% for the packing efficiency — that’s about what I’ve found.

So given the expense, I didn’t fill my whole room — just an area the size of the bed, to a depth of a couple feet — and even that cost as much as a reasonable couch. The cost was as high as it was largely because Mike strongly recommended crush-proof balls, which allows for a lot more roughhousing but cost about twice as much as regular ones on eBay.

But it was totally worth it. After seeing how much fun it is to lounge around in it, we’ve decided to get together and build a larger one in the living room and throw parties there (though we want to solve the cleaning problem first in a scalable way). The day we put it up, we spent probably twelve hours, on and off, lounging around throwing plastic balls at each other. It’s totally worth it, and everyone’s excited about expanding it. It’s wonderful to be able to wake up and roll sideways, blanket and all, into a ball pit, and sink slowly down to the bottom. I’ve padded it with pillows and blankets to make it more fun to, uhh, wallow, or whatever the appropriate verb is for ball pits.

And before you jump to comment — over the last 24 hours we’ve completely exhausted all the balls-related innuendo, so you needn’t bother.

Here are some more pictures:

Abby, on the left, descends slowly into the balls. We never did find her again.

As Mike discovered, you can sort the balls pretty quickly by throwing only certain colors away from yourself.

Everyone I know seems to use Fujitsu Lifebooks. <3 ultraportables.

To the above situation, we can only say:

1337

Last week’s story arc was a lot of fun for me. I hope you enjoyed it! A few notes for the more pedantic readers:

  • In Part 2, Elaine and Dr. Knuth are not competing to calculate the time-complexity of a known algorithm. They’re each trying to develop an algorithm to solve a particular problem. His “lower bound” comment is referring to his lower bound on how fast the problem can be solved (akin to saying “the lower bound on comparison sorts is n log n”), and she proves him wrong with her counterexample.
  • In the interest of time-continuity, panel #2 in the same strip is a montage showing the two children at different times. Bobby is quite a bit younger than Elaine (although he doesn’t strictly have to be — “drop table” has been in the SQL standard since at least the start of the 90′s).
  • Nick Oliver writes in to suggest that Elaine should have played in the band Perl Jam.
  • By 2002, Richard Stallman had grown frustrated with the direction of the blogosphere’s construction. He detached his airship and took it to parts unknown.
  • Upside-Down-Ternet is here. It seems to me that you could do an awful lot of pranks with it — turning everything upside down is just the beginning.

If you want to order a shirt for Christmas, you may want to do it soon. We can guarantee Christmas delivery to the US if you order by December 7th (and probably for the week after that) but we may go out of stock in some shirts/sizes before that.