Fourteen Feet High and Rising

Back to the future of the present

Previously on Phil’s Newsletter: It was a dang ‘ol palindrome. Biden is prez. It was alarmingly chill.

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Wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey

A post shared by Phil Nelson (@philnelson)

It’s Thursday, and you know what that means… it’s time for Phil’s Newsletter.

I’ve been hanging out with my nephews a bit on Discord lately, playing guitars and dropping into their Minecraft worlds so they can show me around. They’re building a little replica of the downtown area where they live, and it’s pretty good. Like much in recent memory (and every child in history), they’re growing up so fast. We trade barbs and joke with each other like old friends, and I honestly feel almost… honored? That these tweens want to spend time with their ‘ol Uncle Phil. They’re good kids.

Last night’s hangout, where Ev was teaching me how to use redstone and note blocks to make music, had me thinking about the last time I got to see them in person- which would’ve been sometime in 2019. Back then we were learning to play basketball. They had a little nerf hoop against the garage, and possibly the worst shooting form I have ever seen. So I went into coach mode with ‘em for the afternoon.

At the time, it was such an innocuous thing, but looking back now it’s all mixed up with me learning to shoot baskets 25+ years ago from my recently-deceased father. Like all attempts to teach kids, it starts with us rolling ours eyes but indulging the “old man” with bad knees… until suddenly on the 20th try or so, it works. They almost can’t believe it, it must be some fluke. No. The next one misses, but it’s an honest miss- just off by an inch or two. The realization is almost jarring, it makes the hair on your arms stand up. This is how you shoot a basketball.

I’m the old man with bad knees, now. My dad was actually pretty good, he had a labor job that kept him lifting heavy shit for a living, and so he could fight for rebounds endlessly. His hops were not bad for a white boy. Even in his late 30s, on two fucked knees and a painful low back, he could get low enough to gently stick an elbow in your side if you stopped paying attention. That’s just how you play the game, he taught me.

I skipped that part with the nephews. They don’t play basketball to win, not like Ed Nelson and I did all those years ago. That’s ok. For now, we’ll stick to Minecraft and Telecasters.

My Birthday is February 1st

Normally I invite my friends to go out and get me drunk, but this year that ain’t happening. Normally I don’t make a big deal about it, but I am leaning in to having birthdays this year. Here are some suggestions if you want to buy me a gift:

  • I have an Amazon wishlist

  • Sick-ass guitar pedals of any type (I already have an MT-2 so not that?)

  • Weird electronics projects

  • Old video games

  • You can send me money via PayPal, or Cash App

  • Become a paid subscriber to this newsletter

  • Become a Patron for as little as $3/mo

  • Gift cards (esp grocery stores) are also appreciated, send to

The absolute best, free, thing you can do for me is to share my Patreon, this Newsletter, or my Twitch channel on your Twitter, Facebook, or whatnot! It is bananas how much even one of you sharing these posts increases the subscribers, traffic, and helps keep me on this side of financial solvency. Tell your friends. It helps.

The Next RetroStrange Movie Night Is 2/6

Last week’s show was awesome- we had good viewer numbers (for us), and a bunch of our pals came to hang out in the Discord. Honestly if they were all that good, I’d be pretty happy.

For the next show we’re getting back to our schlocky roots with a couple of trope-y 70s horror films: The Werewolf of Washington, starring Eyebrow-Acting Master Dean Stockwell, and the made-for-TV children-of-the-corn-like All the Kind Strangers starring Stacy Keach.

I’ve also been adding a bunch of public domain movies and shorts we’ve featured on the show to the RetroStrange YouTube channel. Please like and subscribe.

Divergent League Update

Quick reminder: There’s a Divergent League podcast! It drops every Friday and is hosted by The Commish (me). You can find it anywhere you get podcasts.

Hokey smokes, Bullwinkle! This week featured a small flurry of historic activity in Divergent League Baseball.

To start with, the Mets and Blue Jays agreed to what may be the biggest trade in league history- with New York sending over Bobby Bonilla and Doc Gooden, and the Blue Jays giving up Paul Molitor and Devon White. All four players are settling in nicely on their teams, and we watched a game from each on our normal Tuesday game time.

The second part of those games, Mets .vs. Braves, went on for TWENTY INNINGS, making it the longest game in Divergent League history. You can catch the dramatic finish on our Twitch archive.

OpenCV AI Competition 2021, Etc

One of my new gigs as as contractor at is helping run the world’s largest Spatial AI competition. I’ve been pitching in with OpenCV for a couple weeks now, it’s been fun and a good fit. Having already worked together on the massively successful OpenCV AI Kit Kickstarter campaign, there’s a lot of shared trust and that’s very cool. I’m back writing occasional updates on the KS, too.

Due to the competition’s press release… releasing, and the resulting press coverage (see VentureBeat) we made the choice to extend the deadline from Jan 27th to Jan 31st at 11:59pm PST. We may get over 1200 submissions. Guess who gets to read ‘em all? Yes, it is I, your humble narrator.

Mostly reading and writing for a living is weird after spending 20-odd years getting paid to code and design stuff. I’m still open for work, btw. Contractor lyfe.

Phil’s Good Links

What a week. It’s hard to know if we’re moving out of something or just in the eye of the storm right now. In San Francisco, we’re having the first rain storm in what feels like years.

Multiple days of rain! It’s a miracle. I gotta get out of California. Any east coasters need a roommate? I can cook. Sorta.

— Phil