Planet Iron Blogger SF

May 20, 2019

a digital life

Certainly Strange

Doctor Popular

Play, Test, Repeat

I’m still cranking away on my board game designs, but it’s been a while since I’ve shared the progress. The two games I’ve been focusing on the most are The Lonely Dungeon and One Dimensional Chess.

Luckily there’s no shortage of game design meetups in the city, so I’ve been getting plenty of great feedback and ideas lately. Here are some recent events:

The Lonely Dungeon

The Lonely Dungeon is a single player dungeon crawler that I’ve been working on for a long time. During a recent playtest I decided to try a major rule change. I had been requiring players to engage with every new tile they encounter, but in this new version I decided to allow them to choose whether or not they want to engage with a new tile. I thought this change would break the game, but it worked out fantastically. In fact it fixed the key problem I had from most of my players and gave them the feeling of choice and control. Unfortunately you can’t make a change that big without needing to rebalance the game, which had been so finely balanced before.

One Dimensional Chess

One Dimensional Chess is one my most popular games and I believe it’s the best game for me to release first. So I’m working with Minusbaby, an NYC designer and musician, to create the perfect packaging for the game, then I’m going to release it on Kickstarter.

There’s also a prototype for 1D Chess on mobile phones, thanks to my friend Kurt Dekker.

The post Play, Test, Repeat appeared first on Doc Pop's Blog.

by doc at May 20, 2019 04:32 AM

May 19, 2019


Visiting Madagascar

Thomas and I just got back from our belated honeymoon trip, which we spent in Madagascar (with a few days in Instanbul to break up the travel).

I must say, I didn’t really know what to expect. Thomas had done the majority of the planning and fixing ahead of time since it was his idea—a childhood obsession with lemurs made this a dream destination for him his whole life. I expected to see lemurs and baobab trees and other beautiful nature, and in that regard it did not disappoint. But I didn’t realize that the majority of our days would be spent making 8- to 10-hour schleps in a 4x4 on poorly maintained roads to slowly make our way to our destinations. It certainly allowed for a lot of time to watch the scenery change as we passed from highlands to rolling hills, from golden savannahs to rainforests, and beyond. It allowed for a lot of reading—I started and finished the Broken Earth series in the matter of a few days. And I spent a lot of time thinking. We passed through countless villages lacking basic infrastructural things we take for granted in the western world such as electricity, waste management, maintained roads, clean water, access to technology—it’s impossible not to feel very “other” from people whose reality and life experience is completely separate from my own in so many ways.

That said, it was a great trip. Here are some highlights:

1. Tsingy de Bemaraha

This park took 2 days to travel to, and 2 days to come back from, along mostly dirt roads with various water crossings. It’s in a very remote area. But you can see it’s appeal—craggy erosive limestone formations as far as the eye can see. Our trek took us through the rainforest canyons (which felt very Legends of the Hidden Temple), into caves with stunning stalactites, and then up and around the tops of the Tsingys, where carefully constructed routes complete with cables and platforms gave us safe passage.

This, as far as the eye can see.

This, as far as the eye can see.

Thomas on an actually-quite-safe-feeling suspension bridge on top of the tsingys.

Thomas on an actually-quite-safe-feeling suspension bridge on top of the tsingys.

2. Avenue des Baobabs

The majority of species of baobab trees in the world grow only in Madagascar. This stretch of road off the western coast of the country is arguably one of the best places to see them and experience their grandeur.

These baobab trees are insanely tall and strange

These baobab trees are insanely tall and strange

With a Jenna for scale

With a Jenna for scale

3. Ring-tail lemurs

We saw many different types of lemurs—brown lemurs, jumping rat lemurs, sifakas, greater bamboo lemurs, golden bamboo lemurs, mouse lemurs—but the most charismatic of them all is definitely the ring-tail. They are like if you combined a cat, a raccoon and a monkey all into one bouncy, cuddly, curious creature. Watching them effortlessly hop and climb around the forests provided endless entertainment.

IMG_9382.jpg IMG_9504.jpg

4. Tsaranoro Valley

The Yosemite of Madagascar. A little known climber’s heaven, this valley off the side of the larger Andrigitra Park features huge granite massifs comparable to our beloved California park. It sees only ~2,000 visitors per year. A french climber runs a hotel nearby to cater to the climbing crowd.


by Jenna at May 19, 2019 09:16 PM

a digital life

Randy Lubin

Hiking the NakasendoThe weekend, we hiked the Nakasendo Trail through Kiso Valley in the Japanese...

Hiking the Nakasendo

The weekend, we hiked the Nakasendo Trail through Kiso Valley in the Japanese Alps. The hike followed the old mountain route from Kyoto to Tokyo and passed through several towns that preserved their Edo-period aesthetic.

We had a great time and put in some serious mileage - today we hiked 16km over a mountain pass.

Some pictures from the trail:

May 19, 2019 12:31 PM

I Like Turtles

California Academy of Sciences


May 19, 2019 04:00 AM

May 18, 2019

a digital life

May 16, 2019

a digital life

May 13, 2019

Randy Lubin

More delicious Tokyo bites!

Every week here is filled with great food – here are some standouts from the last few days:

Soba noodles in a chicken broth with black truffle:

Taiyaki with camembert cheese:

Sweet potato tempura:

Konjaku noodles:


We’re down to just two weeks left in Japan but I’m sure we’ll squeeze in a ton of great meals.

May 13, 2019 08:00 AM

Certainly Strange

Dagoth Uthol

I’ve recently started another run of Morowind, and I got this pretty cool screenshot of Dagoth Uthol opening his third eye to cast a spell at me:

by Steen at May 13, 2019 06:56 AM

Doctor Popular

A few more egg jars

I shared some of my egg jars a month ago and wanted to show what I’ve been making since then. These jars are easy to carry to work each morning, healthy, and simple to reheat.

The post A few more egg jars appeared first on Doc Pop's Blog.

by doc at May 13, 2019 05:23 AM

May 12, 2019

I Like Turtles

Well, this happened


May 12, 2019 04:00 AM

May 11, 2019

a digital life

May 08, 2019

a digital life

May 06, 2019

Certainly Strange

Morrowind Mantle

Combining the Tribunal Temple saints candles and Dagoth Ur mask I made with that painting I commissioned, the mantle place is now officially the Morrowind Mantle:

by Steen at May 06, 2019 06:23 AM

Randy Lubin

Back in Tokyo

After some fun but exhausting travels, it’s good to be back in Tokyo for a bit and have a routine again. We’ve been keeping things low-key but have still had time for great food. Here are some recent pics of great dishes, but you can always find more on my Instagram, @randylubin.

May 06, 2019 05:15 AM

May 04, 2019

I Like Turtles

New commute


May 04, 2019 04:00 AM

May 03, 2019

a digital life

May 01, 2019

Doctor Popular

Blame Tom Sachs for the mainstream rise of NASA fashion

note: This article is reposted from that time I guest-edited Rusty’s Electronic Dreams. You can (and should) read that full issue here and subscribe to her inbox zine here.

NASA is the new black

It’s not just your imagination, NASA t-shirts really are everywhere now. Not only are these shirts popping up at your favorite retail stores, a new wave of NASA themed collaborations are appearing all over the fashion world. But why?

An easy answer is nostalgia. Both of the NASA logos (the classic red “worm” and the newer “meatball”) have a wonderfully retro look that translates well to a t-shirt design, but it’s also possible that there’s an economic incentive at play too. As a government organization, NASA does not require licensing process or licensing fee to be paid for the usage of its logos.

My personal theory is that this current boom was sparked by the popularity of a pair of astronaut-themed shoes designed by the artist Tom Sachs. In 2012, Sachs and Nike teamed up to release the “Mars Yard” sneakers, which were inspired by the quirky “Space Program” installations that Sachs was making at the time. These shoes became instant classics and are covered by sneakerheads around the globe, sometimes selling to collectors for over $2,000. After the popularity of these shoes, more and more street brands started dabbling with NASA themed logos and designs.

So these shoes were just slightly ahead of the trend or the current wave of NASA inspired fashion was the result of an artist who was known for making spaceships out of plywood and glue. You decide!

The post Blame Tom Sachs for the mainstream rise of NASA fashion appeared first on Doc Pop's Blog.

by doc at May 01, 2019 07:04 PM

April 29, 2019

Doctor Popular

PopCast Yo-Yo Vlog (episodes #21 and #22)

I’m still cranking out the PopCast Yo-Yo Vlogs. Episode 21 talks about the history of Branding and episode 22 is an interview with someone who designed and manufactured 5 pieces of their dream yo-yos. If you like these episodes, please help support the show on

The post PopCast Yo-Yo Vlog (episodes #21 and #22) appeared first on Doc Pop's Blog.

by doc at April 29, 2019 02:35 PM

Certainly Strange

Oakland Day

One of my friends recently moved from SF to Oakland. Well, yet *another* of my friends moved to Oakland. To his credit, he’s made an effort to continue to come out to SF and hang out. Which is honestly amazing … Continue reading

by Steen at April 29, 2019 05:49 AM

April 28, 2019

Randy Lubin

Kyoto Part 2, Okayama, Takamatsu, and Naoshima

Continuing from last week’s post on Kyoto and Nara. 

On Monday we checked out Nijo Castle in the morning

Then we had an incredible kaiseki meal at Nijojo Furuta. This was my first kaiseki, which is a traditional Japanese meal of small plates and it was phenomenal! Photos:

Then we checked in at Hiiragiya, a 200 year-old Ryokan (guest house). It was a phenomenal experience with gorgeous rooms and amazing service. We had a great kaiseki meal there, too and a delicious Japanese breakfast with tons of small bites.

After leaving Hiiragiya, we travelled south to Okayama where we checked out the castle and Kuraku-en gardens.

The next day we took the train south to Shikoku island which included a beautiful 8-mile bridge over the inland sea.

We arrived in Takamatsu and quickly checked out the the castle there, which included another great garden

We then ferried to the small nearby island of Ogijima which had cool art houses, painted boats, and a hike to a lighthouse

The next morning we caught a ferry to Naoshima, the famed art island where we slept over in the Benesse House museum. The island was covered with art installations and it was a treat to hike around and take them all in.

The next day we took the long journey back to Tokyo: Bus -> Ferry -> Train -> Train -> Shinkansen -> Taxi. We were completely exhausted but it was well worth it!

April 28, 2019 08:45 AM

a digital life

April 27, 2019

a digital life

April 25, 2019

a digital life

April 23, 2019

I Like Turtles

Episode IV: A New Home


April 23, 2019 04:00 AM

April 22, 2019

Doctor Popular

Back from the United Yo-Yo Contest

I spent the weekend in St Louis at the United Yo-Yo Contest. I lived in STL for a year and it was good to come back for a quick visit. The contest was rad. I was a sponsor and judged the fixed axle throwdown that happened after the main events were over. I met a lot of rad people too.

While I was in town I got to hang out with Kyle Nations, one of my favorite modern responsive yo-yoers, and a bunch of other rad folks. I even got breakfast at a chess themed diner inside the chess museum.

The post Back from the United Yo-Yo Contest appeared first on Doc Pop's Blog.

by doc at April 22, 2019 04:36 PM

Certainly Strange

Little Mermaid

I went to see The Little Mermaid at the SF Ballet this Friday, and I quite enjoyed it. It was much more experimental than I was expecting, but this was a pleasant surprise. For starters, they had a theremin player, … Continue reading

by Steen at April 22, 2019 07:25 AM

April 21, 2019

Randy Lubin

Kyoto & Nara

I’m traveling this week with Avital’s parents and we’ve spent the past couple days in Kyoto and Nara. Previously, I’d only spent about 24 hours in Kyoto and it’s been great to see more of the city.

We spent most of today in Nara, capital of Japan before Kyoto, and visited temples, shrines, and gardens while hanging out with the tame local deer.

April 21, 2019 12:43 PM

April 19, 2019

I Like Turtles

Landing in SF


April 19, 2019 04:00 AM

April 18, 2019

a digital life

April 17, 2019

a digital life

April 15, 2019

a digital life

Certainly Strange

Master Aryon and his Protege: Recreational Activities

I commissioned Lukas Ketner to draw the scene of Steen and Aryon smoking and chilling and “researching spells,” and ho-lee crap he knocked it out of the park. The style is fantastic. I absolutely love the old-school Dungeons & Dragons … Continue reading

by Steen at April 15, 2019 06:04 AM


Doctor Popular

Some Black and White Music Videos

Here’s a collection of great music videos with no connection other than they are in black and white.

The post Some Black and White Music Videos appeared first on Doc Pop's Blog.

by doc at April 15, 2019 01:22 AM

April 14, 2019

Randy Lubin

Mount Takao

Last Sunday we took a great day trip to hike Mount Takao, a small mountain on the edge of Tokyo. We took our local train line about an hour east, through greater Tokyo megalopolis until we reached the mountains.

We took a beautiful trail up along a river bed and were rewarded with great views of Tokyo and nearby mountains from the top (also ice cream)! We took a different route down and got to some interesting temples and shrines, plus more great views.

This was a perfect day trip and great way to get out doors!

April 14, 2019 01:28 PM

April 13, 2019

a digital life

April 10, 2019

a digital life