Category Archives: Uncategorized

On Things Not Done But Not Giving Up

So, have you ever had that sort of mental list of “things I’ll get around to” floating in the back of your brain? You know, things like cleaning the garage, writing the Great American Novel, or watching every episode of every Star Trek series in order? (I’m actually working on that last one. Finished all 4 seasons of Star Trek: Enterprise a few weeks ago.) Well, I have too many of those “things I’ll get around to” items… my collection of unread books scattered about the house attests to that. And, writing on this blog is another one. I just looked and my last post was last May in 2015!

What the heck? What have I been doing? Did I forget how to write? Am I dead?

No, not dead. No, still know how to write, although not terrible well. But, 2015 did turn out to be a busy year. Our oldest girl got married and we welcomed our first grandchild. So, 2015 turned into The Year of a Wedding and a Baby. We, also, made our annual trip to Gen Con and I still do the website for and help organize our local game convention, FlatCon. Add in work and “life” and this poor blog just sort of got forgotten.

But, I didn’t completely stop writing! Over the summer, my lovely bride challenged my geekling and I to play one, different game a day of the many neglected board, card, and other games we have at home. (Another group of “I’ll get around to” items.) We accepted the challenge and, mostly, succeeded. I decided to blog about THAT at http://asummerofgames.com/ where I listed every game we played in order. I, also, did little write-ups on the first 16 games or so and I always intended to write the rest. (Yeah, I know. There’s a theme here.) But, at least, I was still writing in the summer, but it started to feel like an obligation, a chore, that I had daily. When it becomes “work” I sort of mentally rebel and stop doing it. (Even the summer of playing a different game every day became a bit of a chore and I started to dread it a little.)

But, I’ve taken a break for a bit and recharged some. I’ve got some things on my mind and even if no one reads these entries, I’m still going to write them down. And, with no additional grand babies, weddings, or other big projects on the horizon, I’m hoping to write a bit more regularly…

Or it’ll be 6 months until the next entry. We’ll see!

Dad, hubby, geek, nerd, gimp, cynic and optimist.

Favorite History Podcasts – Part Three

In Part One and Part Two of this blog series I introduced you to many of my favorite podcasts on history. They ran the gamut of historical topics from the Byzantine Empire and Ancient Warfare up through modern times and everything in between. In Part Three, I’ll introduce you to the first podcast I became addicted to on a mobile device and my two all time favorite history podcasters. As always, you can listen to episodes usually right from a podcast’s website or search via iTunes or your favorite podcast app.

  •  The Napoleon Bonaparte Podcast (napoleonbonapartepodcast.com/): According to the podcast’s website, this was one of the first history podcasts online. Produced from 2006 to 2009, over 59 one hour-long episodes were recorded on the life and career of Napoleon Bonaparte. The two hosts, Napoleon scholar David Markham, residing in Canada and, Napoleon fan and podcast entrepreneur Cameron Reilly, residing in Australia, collaborated to create the longest podcast, in terms of both number of episodes as well as recording length, I have ever heard of covering just one topic. David and Cameron are unabashed fans of Napoleon and try to put him in a more positive light than traditional English based history usually does. Back when I listened years ago, all of the episodes were free. Now, only the first 19 episodes are free, but that’s 19 hours plus of content. If you like it, the remaining 40 cost a flat $10 for all of it. Still not bad. I spent many hours listening to this series and it is highly recommended! (Side note: Cameron’s company, The Podcast Network, also produces other shows including The Life of Caesar which I plan to try soon.)
  • The History of Rome (www.thehistoryofrome.typepad.com/): Produced by Mike Duncan, this 179 episode series covered the Roman Empire from the founding of Rome through the fall of the Western Empire. He elected not to continue on to do the Eastern, or Byzantine, Empire which survived many centuries after the fall of Rome. This was not my first podcast addiction, but it was my first “must check every week for a new episode” podcast. Mike is a fan of history and it shows in this series. This was my first encounter with a podcast where the creator truly does it solely for the love of the topic and sharing knowledge with the audience. In fact, he mentioned only after quite a few episodes that he added a donation button to the site at the urging of fans in the site forums. The podcast got so popular, Mike was able to organize “History of Rome Tours” to famous sites in Europe for him and fans of the show! Mike’s plain language story telling and dry humor make this my second favorite podcast of all time. After 179 episodes, a marriage to Mrs. History of Rome, two household moves, and the birth of his first child, Mike felt it was time to end the series in 2012. I was truly sad and missed the weekly updates. But, then he resurfaced…
  • Revolutions (www.revolutionspodcast.com/): In September of 2013, Mike Duncan returned to podcasting with Revolutions. In this ongoing podcast, instead of covering one topic or civilization, Mike is doing multi-part discussions of various revolutions throughout history. So far, he’s covered revolutions in Britain and America. The show is currently discussing the French Revolution and will cover the Haitian Revolution next. The show looks at the causes and effects of the revolutions and Mike’s background in Political History definitely shows. I’m just getting in to this one, but it’s very good so far. Oh, and he’s now doing tour tips again!
  • Hardcore History (www.dancarlin.com/): Dan Carlin hosts what is my all time favorite podcast on any topic. Dan is renowned in the podcast world for his work on Hardcore History and his more frequent series on politics, Common Sense. (Both found at http://www.dancarlin.com/.) Dan has a background in “old media” journalism but made the transition to “new media” impresario. His vocal delivery is fast, passionate, and assertive. He calls himself a “fan of history” not a historian, but the topics he covers are well researched and covered in-depth. He tries to ask tough questions and he will challenge your assumptions and the myths we learn in school. His episodes notoriously run longer than he plans, take more episodes to cover than he figures, and entertain me endlessly. It may take a few months between episodes, but every episode is worth it. If you only have time for one podcast, this is it.

Most of my favorite podcasts are labors of love, created by one or two person outfits who do it because they love history. I make a point of tossing these guys the occasional donation or I make a purchase in their store to “pay back” for the entertainment they’ve given me. Bandwidth, servers, etc. cost money. And, do not forget the opportunity costs in time spent on making these podcasts! I believe content creators should be fairly compensated for their work and I urge you to support those creators whose content you enjoy, too. You can usually find donation and/or store links on their websites.

If you’ve got some favorite podcasts of your own, tell me about them in the comments below!

Dad, hubby, geek, nerd, gimp, cynic and optimist.

via the MarySue: Geeky Celebs Dressing Up As Each Other For Halloween Is Our New Favorite Thing

OK, ok. I know this is a bit of a cop out for 30 Blogs In 30 Days. But I had a long night and a 2 hour wait for delivery dinner and I’m spent…

I spotted this while reading a different story on the MarySue: Geeky Celebs Dressing Up As Each Other For Halloween Is Our New Favorite Thing. It’s full of great celeb Halloween costumes like:

Sean Pertwee dressing up as his dad, the Third Doctor.

Sean Pertwee dressing up as his dad, the Third Doctor.

And…

Jennifer Morrison (from Once Upon A Time and Kirk's rebooted mom) in her fourth annual appearance as Hermione Granger

Jennifer Morrison (from Once Upon A Time and Kirk’s rebooted mom) in her fourth annual appearance as Hermione Granger

But, the award for most adorable goes to Neil Patrick Harris’ family

Neil Patrick Harris and family on Halloween 2014

Neil Patrick Harris and family on Halloween 2014

There are other great nerdy celebs in costumes at the MarySue.

Dad, hubby, geek, nerd, gimp, cynic and optimist.

Via Mashable: Internet Archive now lets you play 900 classic arcade games

Midway, Atari, Williams, Bally, Sega… Just a few of the companies that created many of the classic arcade video games from the 1970s and 1980s. Starting with simple monochrome games and evolving to multicolor games with music and sound effects, these companies along with others created a new industry and a new obsession for kids like me of that era: coin op video arcades.

Coin op games like pinball had been around for decades. But the revolutions going on in computer processors, memory and video displays coupled with lots of imagination created a whole new form of entertainment. And the effects of that revolution are still felt today with the home console video game industry worth billions of dollars annually. (If you’re interested, Wikipedia has a timeline of arcade video games.)

Kids at the arcade in the 1980s via arcadeheroes.com

Kids at the arcade in the 1980s via arcadeheroes.com

The games look positively primitive today. Back in the day, though, they were totally awesome and we fed them quarters by the truckload. Heck, I remember being in high school or college and visiting our local mall and its Aladdin’s Castle Arcade. The mall also had a branch of the bank where I had a savings account. And I had my passbook. I went to the bank three times and withdrew money that quickly fed those coin op games. In one afternoon, I blew like a hundred bucks which, in the mid ’80s, was worth a fair bit more than it is today.

But, now, thanks to the Internet Archive, you don’t need quarters or tokens to play many of these games. As Mashable reported, the Internet Archive has posted 900 classic arcade games online! You read that right, 900. Some are classics, like Zaxxon, Sinistar, and Defender. Others…well, not so classic, but still fun if only for nostalgia. And, they all play in your Internet browser for free. If you’re not old enough to remember these, you’ll probably think they look…well…primitive. But, imagine how the latest Call of Duty or Madden will look in 20 years when your kids are in their total sensory immersive rigs complete with Smell-o-vision playing Madden 50.

Got a few days free? Try them all.

Joe Walsh – Space Age Whiz Kids (1983) from MTVClassic1 on Vimeo.

Early MTV Music Video

Dad, hubby, geek, nerd, gimp, cynic and optimist.

DC Is Rolling Out a Big “Marvel-ous” Schedule of Movies!

It’s popping up everywhere, but TheMarySue.com has a nice recap of DC’s just announced slate of movies up through 2020! It starts off with Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, helmed by Zack Snyder, opening in 2016, as most already know. But, what is news, among announcements of solo movies for characters like The Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg, is the the announcement of a solo Wonder Woman movie starring Gal Gadot! (Wonder Woman will first appear in the aforementioned Batman vs. Superman.) It is high time one of these comics/superhero movies featured a female hero.

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman via Crave Online

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman via Crave Online

Alright, Marvel, your move. When are we getting a Black Widow solo film?

Dad, hubby, geek, nerd, gimp, cynic and optimist.

Via io9.com: New Behind the Scenes Book on Star Trek: TOS

Over at io9.com they’ve got a really cool article on a new book by Marc Cushman entitled These Are the Voyages TOS: Season One. It looks to be a fascinating (see what I did there?) look behind the making of the original Star Trek’s first season. It will be a must have item for any true fan of Trek. Some of the behind the scenes tidbits in the article:

  • Pigeons and a horde of wasps plagued the filming of the first two pilots.
  • Gene Roddenberry got 50% royalties for the show’s theme song because he authored weird lyrics for it that were never used.
  • The great Lucille Ball herself saved Star Trek from Desliu Studios’ board of directors’ axe. (Desilu, of course, stood for Desi and Lucy.) Not only that, but the great comedienne personally swept pesky dust from the camera tracks during filming!
  • Gene Roddenberry believed men in the future would not have body hair and made Shatner shave his torso for topless scenes.
  • DeForest Kelley was almost cast as Spock. (I’m trying to picture that one.)

Lots more in the article and the book sounds great. Going on my Amazon wishlist.

Shatner and Nimoy laughing during filming of

Shatner and Nimoy laughing during filming of “Patterns of Force.”

Dad, hubby, geek, nerd, gimp, cynic and optimist.

Kid Gets Iron Man Prothstetic Hand: Excelsior!

If this story by way of Geeklogie and KHON Channel 2 News in Maui doesn’t make you smile or bring a little tear to your eye, you’re as heartless as the Mandarin (the “real one” not the goofy British actor guy).

A three year old boy called Bubba was born with an impairment that left him with only one hand. It is all he has ever known and he was well adjusted and thriving. But, as the story reports, he knew he was different and always wanted a second hand like most people have. His grandmother found an uber cool non-profit called E-Nabling which creates prosthesis using 3D printing. Traditional artificial hands can run into the thousands of dollars, but this particular hand cost only fifty dollars to manufacture and they charged the boy’s family not one penny!

And, did I mention, they made it to look like Iron Man’s hand? Check out the video:

Dad, hubby, geek, nerd, gimp, cynic and optimist.

Can’t Fight Fashion: Wearables Will Be In the Classroom

Hat tip to Web/mobile developer and Accessibility Evangelist extraordinaire Paul Adam for tweeting this article from The Chronicle of Higher Education entitled Apple Watch: Coming to a Classroom Near You? With Apple’s new iWatch and other wearables from Motorola, Samsung and others, the ever present phone will move to the wrists of some students. This opens up the educational pitfalls of distraction and even cheating, but it may also open up new opportunities in learning and education methods.

an iWatch from Apple

Apple’s iWatch. Photo credit The Chronicle of Higher Education

Dad, hubby, geek, nerd, gimp, cynic and optimist.