Fun-Day Friday – Holidays and horror movies

Most of you in the U.S. are probably recovering from a Turkey or Ham hangover, by now. Yesterday was Thanksgiving, and there is always much to be thankful for. I’m thankful for my family. I’m thankful for our service members who couldn’t be with their own families. I’m thankful that we live in a free nation. I’m thankful that I have a job that lets me support my family with more than the bare life requiring essentials.

I was alone, yesterday. The rest of the family headed down to Texas for a family and friends gathering, but I had work obligations that prevented me from going with them. Skype will be used much until they return.

The only up-side to this was getting a chance to get caught up on my back logged list of horror shows on Netflix. I don’t get to watch them often, since there’s only a small sliver of time each evening where the kids aren’t close by, and the wife really doesn’t like them, so I can’t watch with her, either.

Silver linings, and all that. In the end, I can’t wait for them to get back. It’s better than six months at a time, though. Four years in the Navy taught us much appreciation for the time we have together.

I hope everyone reading had a good time with family and/or friends. Stay safe for the Holiday seasons, and enjoy the things you might often take for granted. Other people don’t have them.

Thanks for reading!

Fun-Day Friday – Happenings

I thought I’d fill today’s post with a bunch of updates on what’s been going on in my life, lately.

The two “bonus children” as we like to call them are pretty well settled into the household at this point. They’ve mostly learned our routines, and everyone gets along pretty well. This, of course, has led to a higher level of necessity for obtaining a vehicle with more seating. We were sad to let “The Tank” go, but the Ford Excursion has been traded in, and we now have a Ford E-350 15 passenger van to replace it. The van is in the shop getting running board steps installed. Everyone in our family is short. It’s more comical than practical when we try to climb in without those.

My quest for a Nintendo NES Classic is ongoing. We’ve called several stores to ask if there has been any new stock. Of course, GameStop lied and said Nintendo has stopped making them already, and there won’t be any further shipments. I considered tagging Nintendo and GameStop on Twitter about that, but clearly I will just have to look at the other three options in town. We’ve made an attempt at the Amazon and Walmart online sprints that have been available, but none have shown any success in obtaining the treasured compact box-o-nostalgia. I may never get one, but I’ll continue to try, at least.

I’ve recently purchased and received a Nexus 10 32G tablet. I’m in the process of setting it up for a Kali Nethunter installation. I’ll share the details in my Wednesday post. A case with keyboard and stand are on their way, and I’ll probably treat this like a not-quite laptop for some situations.

ArenaNet will release the next installment of Living Story Season 3 on Monday. I’m looking forward to trying it out. So far, I’ve been happy with this season of Living Story, and don’t foresee any major issues they could cause with it to change that.

My NaNoWriMo progress is pretty steady. I’m ahead of where I should be, and feel confident that I’ll hit the goal before November 30. I’m almost certain I won’t share this story with many people. It’s mediocre at best, but it’s keeping my creative writing juices flowing, and I might be able to start churning out a better story after I feel less pressure for a deadline. Maybe. I still need to edit NaNoWriMo 2015’s book, so maybe not.

The next door neighbors cut down a tree a while back, and some of the larger logs are still in their yard. If I don’t forget, I’m thinking about asking them if they mind if I cut a few log ends off of the wood that’s left. They make some of the best targets for throwing knives, and I’d like to get a decent target stood up in the back yard before the end of the year. I might need to hit up someone in the Amateur Radio club to borrow a chainsaw if they agree to let me do that.

Speaking of radio… if time permits, I need to do up a post on how our local DMR repeater works, programming the MD-380 handheld, and go over our local talk groups a bit. It might have to wait until after November, since my time is in a serious crunch this month with NaNoWriMo. We’ll see.

I got to help a friend with a scripting issue the other night. It was good catching up with him. Remember folks, it’s important to take a breather every now and then to catch up with old friends. Seriously. Go hug a friend right now, even. Even if it’s just an imaginary one.

If you’ve got anything on your mind you want to share, post in the comments. I’d love to read them.

Thanks for reading!

Fun-Day Friday – Nintendo Entertainment System Classic

So today is the day that Nintendo releases the NES Classic. It’s a smaller console designed to look much like the original Nintendo Entertainment System. It has HDMI output, and 60 classic games built in. The majority of the titles were games I enjoyed as a child, so this is on my want list. Amazon will have these available starting at 4:00p.m. CST. They are turning off oneclick for this release to give everyone a fair chance at it. They will have limited stock. I went to the local soul sucking Wal-Mart to buy one in person, but there were only 6 units available. I was (un)lucky number 7. Since I have to work, I won’t be able to park my rear at any of the other facilities that would have them “at opening time,” so I’m stuck waiting for my chance at it on Amazon.

As for NaNoWriMo, I’m at a total of 18,062 words as of November 10. This is ahead of the curve. I’ve managed to hit the minimum “average” per day every day. My peak number was 2,127 words on November 8. I’m still on the fence about whether to share this story or not, when it’s done. I guess I’ll know at the end of November.

Is there something that stirs your own nostalgia? Things you enjoyed from your childhood that you would like to relive for a while? Share in the comments.

Thanks for reading!

Fun-Day Friday – Book Review and Recap of Week One of NaNoWriMo

So, before I get to the book review, I wanted to recap that November is National Novel Writing Month. I’ve written three full days thus far, and the word count comes out to:
Day 1 – 1804
Day 2 – 1924
Day 3 – 1683

Remember that the average minimum for each day is 1667 words, so I’m ahead of the curve, so far. Hopefully, I can keep up the momentum.

As for the book review, it’s really a set-of-books review. Last time I did one of these, I mentioned the Montague Portal series. I’ve read the rest of the books in the series, and I wanted to share my thoughts on them.

All of these books except the first one (already reviewed) follow a single person named Aidan Redding. She is a security officer for Montague Corporation, and she gets progressively better at her job as the stories progress.

In “Sticky Supersaturation” the premise is that the universe is a two dimensional space, so the laws of physics make everything sticky to the touch, tastes are bland, and so on. The lab gets overrun by some horny chipmunks that devour antimatter, and it all goes downhill from there. The antics are memorable, and the story takes a couple of twists before Redding saves the day. Again, my only complaint is that it was too short.

In “Forever Falls” the universe is literally on a cliff face with a never ending waterfall. Redding investigates the death of one of the researchers, ends up in some sky diving death defying situations, fights to survive, and gets her suspect in the end. Mostly because the suspect believed she was dead, and couldn’t handle himself when she showed up to announce his part in the murder. She only lost part of a hand for her efforts, though she also got a bit wind burned. This one is longer, labeled a “novella” and is almost just the right length for these kinds of stories.

In “Hydrogen Sleets” the universe is just like our own. The laws of physics are the same. The problem is, it’s right at the beginning of its birth, so most of the universe is composed of free floating hydrogen that hasn’t decided to form stars or other matter, yet. A space station is built for the research, and she gets a try at a political stint. As a liaison officer, she has to deal with both her boss from Montague, and the civilian Congolese workers on board. Politics play a big role in some of the tensions, but she manages to navigate her way through the issues without too much trouble. I mean, what’s a damaged hand (again) and almost getting crushed by super gravity, plus a nice jagged jab in the side among friends? Yeah, it went something like that. She gets sent back for medical leave (again) at the end, but gets compliments and reprimands in spades for her efforts. This was labeled a novel, and while short for one, it was pretty much the perfect length.

I hope more Montague Portal stories are forthcoming, because the concept is divine. I highly recommend all of these if you haven’t read them yet. I wonder if it would be too difficult to develop a tabletop RPG around the series. Hmm. Food for thought.

Fun-Day Friday – National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)

Since this is the last Friday before November gets here, I thought I should bring this up. November is “National Novel Writing Month.” That’s NaNoWriMo for short. I’ve attempted to participate in this event year after year, and always gotten sidetracked or overwhelmed before completing a novel. Except for last year. That’s the first year I’ve ever actually made it to the end and come out the other side with a finished first draft novel.

I’m considering making another attempt at it this year. In case some of you dear readers are also aware of this month and are chomping at the bits to take a stab at it, here’s what helped me last year.

1) I used a site called 750words.com to help me track my words per day. You should probably do something similar. It was the greatest factor in helping me finish. Remember that if you intend to write “the bare minimum every day” that comes out to an average of 1667 words each day.

2) I finally let go of perfectionism. You can’t “write” and “edit” at the same time. The goal is to just write. The months AFTER NaNoWriMo are for editing. What you write might be, (okay, let’s face it… probably WILL be) a turd, but you will have plenty of time to turn that crap into something useful (like fertilizer or compost) AFTER you produce it. Just focus on the writing, and don’t worry about mistakes.

3) If you’re struggling with plot, write a few random sentences in a note pad and let one of those give you a sudden change in direction for your plot. You don’t have to know the gory details, just the broad overview of where you want to go with the story. As long as you can keep a good pace (both writing, AND within the story itself,) things will work out in the end.

4) It’s hard. It will be tough to maintain the pace. That’s okay. Do it anyway. Stay up late, get up early, whatever you have to do to find some extra writing time, do it. BUT more importantly than this…

5) Write at the SAME time every day if you can. Setting a schedule for your writing forms habit. Habit leads to eventual success.

6) Finally, “have fun with it.” It’s okay that what you write may be terrible, but remember this: There are books with story lines that are almost guaranteed to be worse than your own, and people have paid to read them. (Just google “Thorfinn Viking Vampire” at some point, and look at the books that pop up.)

Hopefully, everyone will be feeling much much better by the end of this month, so that I can do this. If not, I may have to choose between NaNoWriMo and UnixSecLab. If I have to choose, the WriMo is going to lose.

Are you planning to try for NaNoWriMo this year? Leave a comment below, and keep us updated on your progress!

Fun-Day Friday – Guild Wars 2 Halloween content

I spent more time at home this week than at work, due to the heavy coughing fits from my sinuses being flared up. This has been a light week on the content, because of it. My apologies, again.

Last Tuesday, Guild Wars 2 released the Halloween content for this year. They added a track to the world vs. world rewards, brought back the labyrinth, clock tower, and other goodies from years past, and introduced a few new weapon skins. I was very much hoping for a return of some way to obtain the backpack items from the first year content, but maybe they’ll do that next year.

My wife doesn’t play this game often, but the Halloween and Wintersday content are both content we enjoy, so I’ll be spending some in game time with her.

Halloween is my favorite holiday of the year, so this content always gets me excited. Hopefully, I’ll feel better soon so I can enjoy it more than just a grumble and a hazy stare’s worth.

Is there a game you enjoy playing? Online, board, card, etc? Share in the comments!

Fun-Day Friday – Book Review – No More Lonesome Blue Rings

No More Lonesome Blue Rings – Book Review

If you haven’t figure it out by now, I’m a huge fan of Michael W. Lucas as a tech writer. The thing is, he also writes fiction, and his fiction (so far) is just as amazing. I’ve purchased and read both books currently available in the Immortal Clay series (Immortal Clay, and Kipuka Blues.) These two books are an excellent length for a short novel, and the premise of their story is engaging. I will probably do a review on each or both at some point in the future.

However, today I am going to review a very short book entitled “No More Lonesome Blue Rings.” This book is in a collection of books called the “Montague Portal” series. I’ve been sitting on the fence about snagging these books, because I am currently in the middle of a rather large tome from another author. That said, I receive this book as part of my “thank you” package for sponsoring the PAM Mastery book at the level it needed to be sponsored (in my humble opinion.) I’ve been asking him off and on randomly for a few years now to write that book, so as soon as I saw the sponsorship go live, I pulled the trigger on it with much gratitude and enthusiasm. Apparently, I “oversponsored” in Mr. Lucas’ opinion, so he sent me some extra books when the print copy became available. “No More Lonesome Blue Rings” was among the books received.

I was surprised at how short some of these books were, so I set aside my current reading project, (“”) and did some research on what the reading order should be for the Montague Portal series. Since this was the first one listed, it’s the first one I read. It took me an evening.

The book only has 58 printed pages, but the story moves at a pace that makes it hard to put down. The main character, Sherry, has a genetic disease that causes deteriorated nervous system function. The Montague Corporation has found a way to open portals to alternate universes, and among those is one where the disease is “paused” while visiting it. Sherry has been sent there to help manage her condition. The book is written in a perspective that mostly focuses on her internal dialogue. She is very coherent and intelligent, but she can’t communicate or move around well due to her condition. All of the patients diagnosed with various diseases wear a colored band to indicate which disease group they belong to. All of them wear a red band, except Sherry. Her’s is blue. This partially explains the title of the book.

Without giving away the details (because the story is so short, I don’t want to ruin it for anyone,) the general gist is that she ends up on an adventure to save herself and her best friend from an attack by the local inhabitants, ends up surviving her encounter, and manages to improve her situation with the Montague Corporation overseers without losing her humanity.

The only complaint I have is that the story was too short. I love the premise of the Montague Corporation Portals to other Universes, because the possibilities for different stories is endless, but everything gets tied together neatly in the end.

I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series, (“Sticky Supersaturation.”) I anticipate that all of the books in this series will be well worth the read, but I recommend this book on its own merits, even if it is a touch short.

5 out of 5 stars for content and premise.

Fun-Day Friday – Children Are Sweet

So one of the things that defines who I am is my family. I started out life as an only child, but had cousins who sometimes felt more like brothers and sisters than cousins. When my mom re-married, I suddenly had lots of siblings, most of whom were already grown and gone with kids of their own, but I had one brother younger than me. Experiencing both “only child” and “brothers and sisters,” I knew I wanted to be a dad. I knew I wanted kids of my own. I also knew I wanted lots of them, and I was lucky enough to find a soul mate who feels the same way, and we have had seven beautiful children together. A friend in need who can not be there for her children for a while asked us recently to take on two more. This last weekend, we did just that, and they have been here for a full “business” week so far. We feel blessed and honored to take on this responsibility, and the kids are all doing pretty well. They already behave like siblings, with all of the ups and downs that entails, but they “click” more than they “collide.”

Children aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but for me, there is nothing more important that family. I don’t have anything “fun” to share today, because I’m exhausted from the trip to pick them up, and the oncall phone from work being noisy this week, but I felt compelled to share a little piece of my life with you. I hope everyone finds happiness in all you do. Thanks for reading.

Fun-Day Friday – Sad News and Happy News

So today, I’m not going to go over any of my hobbies other than to mention that one of them is called “Permaculture.” It’s a design science driven by a specific set of ethics to improve the land and grow abundance (food, friends, and fun.) The ethics state that any decisions made when designing a system should first consider whether the actions taken will harm the earth. If they do not, then consider will they harm people. If neither the earth, nor the people are harmed, then finally take care to build in a balance such that you limit growth of any one element of the system such that it will not consume more than it should. This last ethic is often misunderstood, and is often represented as “if you have abundance, you should freely share it with others, and not charge anything for your efforts.” In other words (using the misunderstood third ethic,) they are often summed up as:
earth care
people care
fair share

The first two are pretty accurate. The last, not as much. It is good to share abundance, but there is nothing wrong with getting something in return for your efforts.

I digress. The sad news for today is that one of the founding fathers (and the most well recognized of them) has passed away. Bill Mollison died on September 24th. He gave a great gift to the world by sharing his experiences and ideas about how to better grow food, and it is a sad day knowing that he has passed on.

The happy news is that we are expanding our family via a foster care situation. A friend of the family has asked us to step in while she is away for a while, and we are happy to do so. We have seven children that are excited to meet their new foster-ish siblings, and this weekend should be exciting, since we are meeting them and bringing them home.

There’s nothing more important than family, and sometimes family is who you CHOOSE, not who you share blood ties with. My great wisdom to share for today is this: (in the words of one of my favorite authors, Michael W. Lucas) “Go do something in meatspace.”

Fun-Day Friday – Ramblings

This is going to be short and sweet. I’ve been busy getting ready for a big event in our household, and thus I shorted myself on time to publish this. I apologize for that.

I’ll treat this as a week in review and go over some of the cool things that happened.

1) Michael W. Lucas has released his new “Mastery” book, PAM Mastery. PAM is one of those rare dark arts that most Unix SysAdmins prefer to meddle with as little as possible for fear of summoning a maentwrog or something. This book sheds some really bright light on how to tackle the appropriate incantations so you don’t do something that bites your head off in the end.

2) I’ve made some progress on troubleshooting one of the more recent modules released on the LAN Turtle. A new version of that module has already been released, so I get to start all over with testing it to see if it fixed any of the issues I was having. I’ll do that testing this weekend.

3) Guild Wars 2 released the second episode of the Living Story season 3. GW2 is one of a very small handful of computer games I still play these days. The content thus far is pretty good. I was hoping ArenaNet would put in a petrified wood node, but maybe it’ll come later.

4) My WiFi Pineappling book came in the mail. I’ll go through it, and do a review when I cover the Hak5 WiFi Pineapple NANO later down the road.

5) My wife bought me a present today. Halloween is my favorite holiday of the year, and she brought home a skull on a stand. I’ll take it to work and start decorating my cube for the holiday soon. It should go nicely with the skulls chain I hang every year.

What are your favorite games, holidays, or other activities and events? Share in the comments!