Thursday, March 31, 2011


I'm hitting somewhat of a milestone tomorrow.  I mean, I guess it's a milestone. I'm turning 30.  From what I've heard it's not much different from 29, except you might be clicking a different radio button on the surveys you take.  Then again, I've heard that's more often at 35 as well, so maybe I shouldn't worry about it too much. Surprisingly, being born on April Fool's day, I have experienced few, if any, memorable pranks on my birthday. It's to the point where I think of it as my birthday first, and a joke holiday second.

I don't like getting older. I'm not sure anyone does. I had to get my car out of a ditch during the winter and did something to my back.  It hurt horribly for two weeks and then was okay, but it gets sore a lot faster than it used to if I'm sitting for long periods of time, like at work. I've been getting grey hairs for several years now, and while I don't see any signs of baldness, I worry that it's going to start soon.  More than anything when I look in the mirror, I see my dad. No offense dad, but it's a bit frightening.

Speaking of my parents, one of the neater things about our ages is that we're just about 20 years apart.  So they've just turned 50, which is a much bigger milestone than 30 in my opinion. And of course that brings up the fact that when they were my age, I was turning 10, and my sister would have been 5.  I cannot imagine having a 10 year old and a 5 year old right now. Well, I guess I can, but it would make things so much different.  I do want kids, and I had planned to have at least one before I was 30, but things don't always work out as you plan. Take my career for example.

I finished college with an accounting and business admin degree.  They're very lucrative degrees. Accounting is rarely not in demand. Every business on the planet needs an accountant, and money pretty much runs the world, so I'm pretty secure in my ability to find jobs.  Even when times are tough. In fact, accountants are probably even more in demand when there's no money to manage, because the hardest thing to do is run a company with no money. I should know, I've been doing it for two years now. It's still just a job to me though. I suppose everyone fantasizes about finding a job doing something they love.  Then it doesn't feel like a job.  I don't think accounting can ever be like that for me. I'm trying to figure out what I could do that wouldn't feel like work, and that I have the skills to make money at.

If I tell people older than me that I'm turning 30, they make joking comments about how that's still young.  If I talk about being 30 with people younger than me, they jokingly comment about how old I'm getting. It's confusing being stuck in the middle.

If this post makes it seem I'm depressed about turning 30, I'm not.  I'm trying not to attach value to the age at all, other than to say I'm getting older and there are things I want to do with my life that I should either be doing or working towards doing. The last ten years have had a whole lot of changes.  In just terms of places I've lived over the last ten years, I've been in Seattle, Alaska, Tennessee, North Carolina and Boston. I've gotten married, and I've changed jobs three times, which, actually is probably not that much for 10 years for some people. I think the good has outweighed the bad by quite a bit, and if it's any indication of what I have to look forward to in the next 10 years, it means that I have no idea what's going to happen in the next 10 years.  I'm okay with that. I just don't want my back to hurt while I get there.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Fantasy Football is Not a Game Played in Middle Earth

In August my brother-in-law got his dad to be in a Fantasy Football league with him. Then Dad decided he didn't have the time and asked me if I'd like to take his place in their league. I like football every now and then, but I've never been one to follow it closely. I played in a Fantasy Football league once before in college. I don't remember much about it. Regardless, I took the opportunity to do something new and hopefully fun. I figured it would at least make watching the games more interesting, and the CBS Sports web site for the league looked like it would make it all pretty simple for a newbie such as myself.

So the season started, we held our draft, I put a team together, and it's been a lot of fun.  For the uninitiated, here's a brief summary of how fantasy football works.  Everyone in the league picks players for their team from all of the players in the NFL. Each week you pit a team of miscellaneous players against another person's team and see who does better.  How well you do is dependent on how well all of our chosen players do in their actual games each week.  The idea is to get a team of elite players that will always perform well, giving you the best chance to win each week.  So premier quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers are highly valued, where as second string players are often left on the bench.

If you don't get it, don't worry about it.  It's hard to really understand unless you get involved with it, but the basic idea is that your score is based on the real life statistics of the people you have in your team. If you play people that score touchdowns and run a lot of yards, you'll be doing well.

Why am I talking about fantasy football though? Two reasons.  The first is that I'm surprised how quickly I've gotten into it. I check reports on the players, and read articles on CBS Sports about who to play, who to not play, who is a sleeper pick that people may not know about.  If you want to do well, you have to keep up on this stuff or else you'll end up playing people who may be injured or out of a game for some other reason giving you a big fat goose egg for your score that week. And because I've got some vested interest in how well these football players do, I've been watching more football on the weekends. Especially the games where I have someone on my team playing.

The second reason is that growing up I wasn't really into sports that much. I did play little league baseball, though not very well. I was a gamer through and through, and I didn't even let the two mix by playing sports video games. Well, I did have a baseball game, but there was a fantasy element to it in that you could super jump and stuff.  Anyway, not only was I a gamer, not a jock, but I played role playing games, or RPGs.  Fantasy RPGs like Dragon Warrior, Final Fantasy, Lufia, Secret of Mana, Zelda, etc. And you know what most of those games had in them? A roster of people you had to select to create a team.  The team with the better stats would generally do better in the game.  If you look to pen and paper RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons you can start to see an even greater correlation to fantasy football.  I never played Dungeons and Dragons, but I understand all of the concepts involved from the games I did play.

The point I'm getting at is that even though I've never been much of a sports person, fantasy football may not be as big of a jump in hobbies as I might have suspected.  Every week I'm looking at a roster of players and choosing those with the more desirable statistics. I'm analyzing their match ups against other teams like I might analyze which character class would be better against a certain boss. And just like in all RPGs, whether it's a computer or a dice roll, there's a large factor of what is known as the RNG, or Random Number Generator.  In a video game you might have a really strong character, but the RNG comes up low and all you get are misses instead of hits.  In fantasy football you might think your stud quarterback can't possibly let you down, but then he breaks his knee in the first quarter of the first game of the season, and suddenly you're scrounging for a replacement.  

In fact, I would say it's worse in football.  Capable players often have bad games, or they get double covered because of their value which makes them less likely to make plays.  You pretty much just have to go with the averages and your best guesses and hope for the best.  This makes it interesting, and frustrating.  Probably more of the latter.  Especially when someone who you have available to you, but you didn't play in particular week, decides to have a really great game. (I'm looking at you, Dwayne Bowe.) Overall though, it's been a great experience.  It gives me a lot to talk about with my brother-in-law and future sister-in-law. She's also in the league and actually was the winner from last year.  When I hear people talk about football statistics and players, I don't feel so out of the loop now because, well, I'm actually in the loop.  And because of the RPG connection, I don't necessarily feel like I have to give up any of my nerd or geek cred because I'm in a fantasy football league.

So how am I doing with my team? Glad you asked.  It started off rough, but I'm currently up seven wins to three losses.  Not bad for being relatively new to this whole fantasy football thing.  But then again, I may not be as inexperienced at this as I first thought.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

I Borrowed a Guitar, and I Intend to Use it

Last weekend we were in Greensboro so Teresa could attend one of Catherine's bridal showers. I got to spend some time with the bro-in-law, David, and watched some college football, and our dog, Hannah. In one of our previous trips to Greensoboro I had noticed an acoustic guitar sitting in the corner of the downstairs family room looking sort of sad and lonely. I inquired to my in-laws about the ownership and purpose of the guitar, and I came to find out it was bought by my mother-in-law with the intent to learn it, but not the time. And thus it had been in that corner for quite awhile. Neglected. And did I mention sad and lonely?

Being the caring person that I am, I asked my wife's parents if I could borrow the guitar and put it to good use. They obliged, and I now have it at home in my music room. When I say music room, I mean the spare room where my keyboard is. I like to think of it as my room, though it has elements of things that are not mine, well, mine by marriage I guess. But I'm getting off the subject.

A short history of me and instruments. Growing up I took piano lessons. We had an upright piano in our home since before I can remember, and I practiced and took lessons for probably eight or so years off and on in between moving to central Oregon and then Alaska. I then played with the church worship team in high school, and with a ministry group in college, as well as my church during college. Needless to say, I put those years of piano lessons to good use I think. Where guitars come into this is that all that time playing piano, I was nearly always in the presence of a guitar as well, but never really learned to play one.

My mother played guitar. From what I heard, she taught herself how to play by secluding herself in her bedroom and listening to John Denver records. I haven't verified that, but I know I heard it from someone. Either my mom or her parents at one point. In worship bands the worship leader is almost always a guitar player. That was the case in both the youth group, and the college ministry team.

I had numerous guitar playing roommates in college. There was J.P. the rocker, who played electric guitar and often liked to comment, in reference to watching guitarists in music videos, that, "Any newborn fetus could play that." Though technically a newborn is no longer a fetus, I never really felt the need to argue the point with him. And there was Justin, who was a phenomenal acoustic guitar player. We were roommates around the time Shane and Shane were becoming popular, and Justin would figure out all of their songs and play them on his guitar. Paul and Bud were both guitar players from that ministry group I keep mentioning. Pioneers for Christ in case you were curious. I was roommates with both of them, though not a the same time.

Anyway, I think you get the picture. I learned music, music theory, how to read it, how to play in a band, etc. all from my piano training. But being in the environment that I was in, I also picked up some guitar chords here and there, and a rudimentary understanding of strumming. Enough to where I could play a three or four chord song. As long as it didn't include an F chord. But having never owned a guitar, or spending any amount of time learning basic guitar techniques, I never really felt like I could call myself a guitar player.

But I had a lot of interest in learning more because guitars are premier instruments. It's hard to find bands out there with lead pianists, though they exist. The simple truth is that almost all modern bands have guitar leads. The primary instrument for the Rock Band and Guitar Hero games is the guitar, though, side note, Rock Band 3 is out now with a keyboard instrument. Do want. And guitar players are cool people. At least, all of the guitar players I knew were. And guitars are so easy to take with you to play anywhere. After several years of lugging an 88 key KORG keyboard around, you start to look at the guitar players and get a little jealous.

So now I find myself in the possession of an actual guitar. It's not mine, but I have it on loan for as long as I need it. And now that I have one, I want to learn how to use it. More than just the few chords I already know. This week I've been thinking about the best way to do that. I don't really have the time, or money, to take private lessons like I did when I learned the piano, and I feel like I at least have a leg up on the the music theory part. I can read chords and stuff like that. What I don't have is the dexterity, or the familiarity with the guitar to really play it well. Even if I know how to play a G chord and a C chord, moving between them is a pain. I don't strum well because I have the habit of wanting to hit all six strings, even for chords where you're only supposed to play the bottom four or five. How do you not hit all the strings? They're so close together!

Last night I did a search on you tube and Google for beginner guitar lessons. Lo and behold there are quite a few free resources out there for learning the guitar, complete with instructional videos, chord charts, and step by step instructions on how to strum correctly. I just learned how to hold a guitar pick for the first time. So the only thing I need to do now is be consistent about practicing. And patient. I have a tendency to gloss over stuff if I feel like I already know it, like scales. But I've been reading that doing scales is important to training your fingers correctly, stretching them out and building the flexibility to play all those guitar chords. Even that dreaded F chord. This is starting to remind me a lot about learning to play the piano. Scales were always boring, but you have to know those by heart before you can play the fun stuff.

So hopefully, with some time and patience, I'll be able to teach myself to play guitar like my mom did, only instead of listening to John Denver, I'll be trying to play Jonathan Coulton songs.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

So Much for Summer

I don't know where it went. I really don't, but now it's Autumn, and that's my favorite season, so I guess I have that to be excited about. The air is cooler. I get to wear a jacket again, which, aside from the warmth factor is also like a security blanket. A security blanket with extra pockets for me to put things in. Like my keys. So I don't have them in my pants pocket which is highly uncomfortable when sitting down, and also limits where I can put my cell phone.

I can't say a whole lot has happened since last June. Teresa's brother got engaged, so Teresa and I will be in the wedding party for their wedding in January. I've been stressed out of my mind at work. Being the controller for a failing company, and not being able to do much to help it has not been fun. The company is still here though, and I still have my job, so I guess it's not all bad. I'd rather not dwell on it here though. Suffice it to say, work has sapped a lot of my energy that used to go into writing things like this blog. Most days I get home and we watch television shows on Netflix, or play Xbox, or anything else that requires little movement and thought.

Another awesome thing about the coming colder weather is the grass isn't growing as much anymore. I mowed the lawn last weekend, but I'll probably have to do it at least once more time before the winter sets in and yard work becomes a memory. Which is good, because then we can work on the inside jobs that never seem to get done. Although I did get a chance to organize the attic storage last weekend. I think I did a pretty good job myself. I impressed Teresa, and that's not an easy thing to accomplish.

We're looking forward to my family visiting in a couple weeks. It's been quite awhile since I've seen my parents and grandparents, so it should be a lot of fun. Also working on a trip to Oregon in December. So the next few months should be pretty busy. Hopefully I can find time to write in between all of that, and hopefully more than just an update every now and then.

Addendum: I failed to express the coolness of the person that my brother-in-law is getting married to, and will soon be part of my family. Her name is Catherine and she is the coolest nerd I know. I knew she was special when I first found out she liked to play Xbox with David, and that she was totally in to Mac computers. And along with her great fashion sense, she also is a tremendously fun person to hang out with and has some very lovable dogs at home. My apologies to Catherine for short selling her earlier in the blog post. I truly did her a disservice and I hope she can forgive me.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Summer Update

Teresa and I are doing well. As is Hannah. I've been busy with work, Teresa has been doing odd jobs for a friend in Black Mountain and recently had an interview for work in Black Mountain., so we're crossing our fingers for that. We've made a couple trips to Greensboro and Raleigh on account of David, Teresa's brother. One for a college graduation, and the other for a going away party. He went to Alaska to fish for the Summer. More on that below. It's been day to day for the rest of it. Where to start?

I've probably mentioned it before, but I'm currently working for a small business as their Controller. I control the money. Or rather, the lack thereof. The company wasn't in good shape when I started, but it was supposed to get better. We're still waiting for it to get better. I can't go into all the details, but it's plain enough to say that work is a major source of stress for me right now, which leads to a lack of motivation to write, or to do anything exciting around the house or around the town.

What I have been doing is playing video games, but that's not a shock to anyone I'm sure. I've started blogging about games specifically over at Gamespot. A website I've been a member of for years, but have now decided to fully utilize. This way, those of you that like that sort of thing can read about it there, and those of you that don't will be spared from long boring posts about World of Warcraft or the Xbox 360 on this blog. Most of the time. I reserve the right to gush about Rock Band 3 and the introduction of keyboards to the game. But I'll save that for later.

Last weekend we had a good time with Teresa's family in Greensboro sending off David to fish in Alaska. He's set net fishing in the Cook Inlet with a family friend of mine who we know from our church up in Soldotna. He'll be in Kasilof. He took his friend Jackson with him, and they're already having an amazing time up there. I know this because I read their blog. And you should too. Even if you don't know them, it should be a good insight into fishing in Alaska from the perspective of two outsiders. Of course, all of their talking about it makes me miss it. But it just gives me more resolve to go back there again, even if Mom and Dad have moved back to Oregon now.

The house we're in now is the first house we've lived in that requires any amount of yard work maintenance. I can mow the lawn easily enough, but when it comes to pulling weeds or thinking about planting things, I just sort of get overwhelmed. Our back yard is big. It takes about an hour and half to mow, and yet we don't use it for anything, so sometimes I wonder what the point of it is, other than just for it to look nice. It still isn't fenced and that's something I really need to do. Money kind of plays into that though. So it still might be awhile. Sorry, Hannah.

Teresa and I have been burning through our Netflix queue as well as catching quite a few good shows over the instant streaming options. We recently watched the first three Karate Kid movies. The first one was great. The second one was okay, redeemed mostly by the theme song. The third one was painful to watch. It's clear that Daniel Larusso learned nothing from his first two movies. And no matter how much Karate he learns, he always gets his butt kicked until the final show down. Interest in these was sparked by the new Karate Kid movie in theaters soon. I've heard it's pretty good. We also watched The Goonies. Teresa had never seen it. Now that missing spot of iconic 80s culture has been filled for her. We also watched the first season of Castle, and we're currently watching Leverage, which has turned out to be hilarious and awesome at the same time. Especially for geeky people like us.

We'll be heading to South Carolina for Independence day, and then it's the wide open Summer. Hopefully we'll be heading to Maryland for the Renn Fair again, but that won't be until Ocotober. 2010 is flying by. Time to make something of it.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


If you have not watched the season finale of LOST, or if you have not even watched the series, then you may be spoiled by the topic discussed below. Because the topic is LOST. If you have been completely under a rock for the last 6 years, LOST is, err... was an hour long drama on ABC. And now, from this point on, I will assume you know about the show and have watched the end of the series.

When I was just out of college in 2004, I was working for a small web developer doing Flash animations for websites and interactive business cards. My first post-college job. Not glamorous, but it paid the rent, and I enjoyed it. I usually worked in the evenings after normal business hours because I had a second job at a book store, and eventually doing actual accounting work, but that's a tangent I don't want to get into. The point of all this is that I watched the very first episode of LOST while I was at work. I had seen promotions for it, and if I was honest, I wanted to watch it for two reasons.

1) Merry Brandybuck was going to be in it. Or rather, Dominic Monaghan, and I was a big fan of Lord of the Rings.

2) J.J. Abrams was producing it, and I had just recently started watching and loving his other show, Alias.

So I found myself at work on the night it premiered as there was a TV in the office, so I turned it on to watch while I worked. I ended up not working at all, and was instead glued to the screen. Don't worry, I didn't bill my employer for the time I watched. The Pilot was incredible. I watched the whole season from the office. I didn't get TV at my house, so I watched it at work. And because I was at work, I never thought to tell Teresa about the show. Or maybe I did, but it didn't really interest her at the time.

Anyway, soon after the first season was over, Teresa and I got married and moved to Boston, so now we have TV and we live together and I'm not working weeknights. If I'm going to watch this show, she probably needs to be on board so we can watch it together. After watching the first season with her, she was hooked, and the rest is history.

And now it all really is history. Sunday night, the last episode aired and LOST is officially no more. The joy of LOST was that it was a mystery, and a journey, and a character drama all wrapped up into one. There was fantasy, science fiction, romance, action, and then crazy stuff that you can't really categorize. It was a great show. Like any show it had its up and downs, but it kept bringing us back for more each and every year.

I think it was in Season 3 where it was announced that they would end the show after six seasons on purpose, regardless of ratings in order to make sure the writing was purposeful and that it didn't just dwindle and get canceled without a solid ending. I'm glad they decided that, but it's still funny to think I don't have anything to watch tonight at nine o'clock.

So for those of you that have watched it. What did you think? Did the ending satisfy you? Did you see it coming? Did it make you mad? The narrative of the story has always been about character development both on and off the island. For this last season we've seen a strange parallel world. Now it turns out that parallel world was a fantasy. A place where the spirits of those have passed on figure out that they're dead and remember the people and things that were important to them. It's not explained exactly how this world came to be, except that it was willed into being so they could see each other again before "moving on." I've seen some people say it was Hurley, as the new protector of the island, who created this place for everyone.

I'm okay with it. It's a nice safe way to show everyone being happy and remembering the best times of their lives. But it's also not enough for me. While lots of people posited that the passengers were dead and in purgatory on the island, the show was never about the afterlife for me. It was about the island, and why they were brought there, and how it affected them when they were there. Now that it's over, I want to know more about the Light on the island, the people who have protected it, and how they chose to do so. I want to know what the island needs protecting from now that the Man in Black is dead. Honestly, I'd be thrilled to see some episodes dealing with the misadventures of Hurley and Ben on the island. Though at this point, a comedic spin off to LOST seems kind of silly.

There's also a lot of Dharma mysteries to be expounded on. What they discovered, what they did with it, how they found about it, and what Jacob's response was to it. In the end, the writer's decided these weren't important things for us to know. The important things were the character's journeys, and how their times on the island were some of the best times and relationships they had ever experienced.

Maybe sometime in the next year or two we'll go back and watch it from the beginning. I'd really like to see if watching it with the knowledge of how it ends highlights anything that we may have missed before. I think LOST was a unique experience that will be some time before it's reproduced on television. In the mean time, I'll have to find some other programs to fill my entertainment needs.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Published on the Internet Still Counts, Doesn't it?

It's not a huge deal, really. It's a paragraph on a Warcraft related website. But it's mine!

WoW Insider asked people to submit 100 words on what we want to see at Blizzcon 2010. A convention run by the makers of Warcraft, Starcraft and the Diablo series. You know what a convention is. This one is just centered on the franchises of one game company. I've never been to one. I doubt I ever will, but the news and information stemming from this convention relevant to my interests. So I submitted my 100 words, and hoped for the best.

The email came that they would be using mine (and several other people's) submissions in their article on the website. is essentially a blog reader for World of Warcraft news and articles. They stay up to date on things so I don't have to. Kind of like reading a LOST blog, only with many contributing editors and articles on every aspect game. Not only were they using my submission, they were paying me for it. Awesome.

Oh, here's the link.

I like to write. I've always written for myself. I write a sporadic blog, so obviously it's not hard to get your words on the internet. But submitting something to a news article site and having it accepted and published with my name on it and getting paid for it makes it all seem so much more validated. Take something you enjoy, like a hobby, or a TV show, and imagine writing something about that and then someone paying you to share what they thought was a cool written work with a lot of people. That's pretty neat, right? Right.

The way they took the submission was pretty interesting too. is part of the AOL network which has a program called seed. You sign up on the seed website and you can browse postings for submissions on various topics. That's how I send in the submission for and got accepted. I sent in another submission on another topic recently. I'm waiting to see if they like that one too. If they don't, I can always post it on my own blog.

In other news, I should be getting the Xbox and FF13 on Easter weekend. Yay! Easter weekend will be in South Carolina with Teresa's family. Yay again! No, I mean that. And I'm currently engrossed in A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. It took me awhile to start it, but now that I have, I have a hard time putting it down. I'll post more on that when I finish it. Work has been kicking my butt, which may or may not have been a contributer to the lack of posting on this blog. It appears it will continue to kick my butt well into next month before it (hopefully) starts to get better. It's not all in my control either. Most of it is a wait and see and hope and scratch and scrape to keep things going until that time. I took on a lot of responsibility when I took this job a year ago. I'm starting to feel the full weight of that now.

Spring is trying to break through. The weather has been a mix of cold and not cold. No snow, some rain, and I broke my windshield wipers a few weeks ago so that's not a good thing. But at times we've been able to have the windows open in the house and let the breeze in. Something Hannah does not like. Actually, she might like it, but it gives her ample opportunity to stare out the window and bark and the slightest sound of anything.