I'm terrible, just as the title states. Why do I consider myself terrible? Every time I sit down and decide that I am going to start blogging again, I make one post and ghost. It's probably why no one reads or visits this site, they have no reason to.
I have many hobbies and love them. This should be easy. Yet, I do nothing. I can easily write about my adventures in technology, photography, videography, ham radio, and gaming. Or I could throw up a blurb about my experiences in vaping, my journey quitting smoking, becoming a father, being a husband (though I will admit, I am not a great one), and any other adventure my life takes me on.
One day I would like to look back on this blog to remember the times we've had, the experiences shared, and the information and education taken from all of it.
Life has changed a lot over the last 10 months since I have been active here, and I think it is time to bring it up to date. Keep your eyes peeled, if you are so inclined and can withstand the brutal dry eye, for an upcoming post containing the current status of the resident geek. Exciting things to look forward to with a few surprises!
As of Friday, November 6, 2015, 18:00hrs Eastern Standard Time, I am officially no longer a smoker (of cigarettes.) Sure, at the time of this post it has only been ~43 hours, but it's been trying! I decided today that I wanted to document my journey. Hopefully my last journey along this path. I figured that since I was only in 2 days and could recall most of my feelings and thoughts over the past 72 hours, it would be a great time for an introduction post (amirite?!?)
I wanted to throw out a short, yet important, introduction to how this whole endeavor got off the ground. I
am was a member of a dwindling sect of society - the cigarette smoker. The group of people worldwide that once reigned in popularity is now at the bottom of society. Addiction...it's a bitch. It's the one thing that will keep you wanting, longing even, to belong to a group that disparages your own name. For over 20 years I have been a member of that group of people in society. I haven't minded it much though. I have always found companionship in the fellow members of that group.
A long time member... maybe it's time to cancel that membership? It is quite expensive. Then there are cons like having to go outside in all types of weather. The stink. The faces and comments people make. Yeah, it's a bad time to be a smoker. I am not even going to touch on health issues.
I have been meaning to quit. I mean that seriously. I have given it a go a few times, though none too successful. I have even tried to quit by vaping before. I used those little electronic cigarette things. This was probably 2 years ago when the whole vaping thing was getting started. Since then they have made some very interesting improvements in the industry. So much so that a friend was able to get me interested in quitting again.
That friend, let's call him Ted (I don't like to use people's names without consent, it's just rude,) basically convinced me to quit smoking, all in the matter of about 3 days. Now that I think about it - did he brainwash me?
I spent a few days talking with Ted about equipment. He recommended items he was familiar with and is currently using, which I thought would be a plus, since it wasn't too expensive and he knew all about it. I had no idea if this equipment would be good, but still, I decided to take the plunge.
After reading a few pages about vaping equipment on the good old internet, I decided to go with Ted's recommendation of an Eleaf iStick TC40 and a KangerTech Subtank Mini with a sub-ohm coil. Now, I have no idea what I am talking about here. No clue. However, as time goes on, I am sure I will learn.
Thursday, November 5
I knew the equipment was out for delivery on this day. Ted messaged me about our joint order, which we combined together to save on shipping and which was being delivered to his house. Delivery was confirmed around 14:00 and the plan was to meet up after work and so he could help me get set up and show me the ropes. 16:30 finally rolled around and I went to meet up and procure the device and knowledge.
I met up with Ted at his house and we immediately tore into the box. It was kind of a whirlwind for me and I was too enamored with all the new shiny toys that I really didn't pay much attention to what he was doing... something I think I will regret in the future. In no time, my vaping machine was all set up and ready to go. Ted filled the inaugural tank with some of his own juice since mine hadn't come in yet, choosing the flavor of Apple of my Ice from VapeWild. And I was off.
Friday, November 6
Quit day, well, according to estimation of how many cigarettes remained in my last pack. I couldn't bring myself to throw them away or break them. They are just too damn expensive! I had my brand new vape machine with me. I went back and forth throughout the day between smoking and vaping. In my head I thought it was going to be like getting into a pool by slowly wading in. It kind of was.
By the end of the day I was almost out of the juice that Ted had filled my tank with the day prior. It tasted so good I could barely bring myself to stop vaping the night before. At this point my juice order wasn't delivered yet and it wasn't going to be. I had to make a choice: buy just one more pack of cigarettes, or go to a store I had just heard about, The Vaping Oasis. I opted for the later and drove there straight from work.
I really would love to get more in depth about my experience in The Vaping Oasis, but I will leave that for another post. I left there with 4 10ml bottles of juice and was happy. When I got home, I filled my first tank of juice with Toro.
Saturday, November 7th
It had all been going so well... until I woke up Saturday morning. It. Was. Hell. I would have to say that the morning time is probably the worst for me. It is when I crave a cigarette in the worst way. I thought the vaping would curb that urge in the morning, only I had an issue. For some reason every hit I was taking, no matter how big or small, was killing my throat. I had no idea why. So this in combination with the "nic fit" I was going through made the morning a bit rough, to say the least.
My throat got better throughout the day and I was able to level off. Coffee helped. The day really was just another day. I didn't have an issue at all.
We went to a friend's place that night because they were having a fire. I was really unsure about going. At this point it was just about 24 hours, and I was leery of myself in a public situation. We got there and everything was fine. I just vaped, no one cared or looked at me funny. As the night went on we talked about me quitting and vaping and received many words of encouragement. These really do mean a lot.
And then it happened: a smoker showed up to the party, walking to the fire smoking a cigarette. I saw it. I stared at it. I thought to myself, "Self, how you feeling about that cigarette over there?" I then replied to myself, "Dude, it's the first day. We can't go all crazy over the sight of a cigarette after 24 hours. That is completely nuts." So I moved on about my business. I reached in my pocket, hit my vape a few times, and continued on with conversation.
Sunday, November 8
Hooray! We are on the current day (as of the writing of this post.) This morning wasn't bad at all. Even though I was drinking the night before, I didn't have a cigarette and I was feeling OK in the morning. After some advice on how to handle the morning I was able to take some small hits of the vape and level out almost right away. This morning was a cake walk compared to yesterday.
I am hoping that the rest of the day will be much like the past - uneventful and manageable. We shall see.
I plan to continue to blog my way through this experience. I think it will help me overcome something that I have been afraid of for the past 10 or 15 years of my life. Maybe it will help someone else. Who knows.
I hope that you will follow me on my endeavor, maybe offer some words of encouragement or give advice. Hell, later on down the road maybe I will be answering some of the very questions I started out with.
Just in case you may have been living under a rock the past few days, a high school aged teen in the Dallas, TX area was recently arrested for bringing a homemade digital clock to school to show his teachers. This teen, Ahmed Mohamed, was then arrested when some teachers became uncomfortable with the clock. Now, I am not going to get into the political debate of young Ahmed's background, ethnicity, or religious preference, despite the fact that these details most likely played an influence, it is not the point of this post.
To get to the point of the post; I am in hopes that young Ahmed is not discouraged by this unfortunate event. The interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) is slowly dwindling. The jobs available in fields that align with STEM will soon become abundant. We need our youngest generation to become interested in these fields as we become more and more dependent on technology.
The simple fact is that Ahmed set out on his own to explore and create, and did so successfully.
Maybe too successfully. While Ahmed and I are separated by 20 years of age difference, we have something important in common. I also became interested in STEM fields at a young age.
My story started a little bit earlier than his. My parents decided to get the family a Christmas gift, a Tandy 1000 HX. It was either 1986 or 1987, I can't be sure. However, I took to it immediately. I loved everything about it. Eventually, I tore the thing apart trying to figure out how it worked. I was obsessed.
It is this obsession, this drive, that got me to where I am today. It is this same obsession that's going to give young Ahmed the skill and techniques to end up in a profession that he loves and lives for. It is for this very reason he should not give up on himself, just as we should not give up on him.
Recently, offers of support from the maker/hacker community have been plentiful. Each lab and maker havens have reached out to Ahmed in order to keep his passion alive, to keep him creating, to ensure our future is bright. It is these men and women, like Ahmed, that are going to create the next big thing, or discover how to cure cancer. It is this curiosity we must support. And this is why #IStandWithAhmed.
In season three of Netflix's hit series House of Cards, the main character Frank Underwood is shown playing two indie titles, Monument Valley being one of them. The few shots of the game that were shown in the episode intrigued me, so I had to give it a go. Minutes after finishing the episode, I picked up my phone and went directly to the app store. The game cost $3.99 and I figured it commanded that price based on the reviews and the shots of the game.
After it downloaded, I opened it up instantly. I was transported into a beautiful, and not to steal this from another (fictional) review, but it is true, M.C. Escher-ish world. I was hooked immediately. My silent Princess Ida and I were going to be best friends for the next few hours or days. I am a huge fan of puzzle games and this one was full of interesting mechanics and intricacies that kept me playing until I couldn't keep my eyes open.
"Whoever you are, whoever you think you are, believe also you're a silent princess. Your name is Ida, your journey is one through a forgotten landscape of twisting staircases and morphing castles, atop floating stones defiantly crossing an angry sea, within dimly lit caverns cobwebbed with ruins, M.C. Escher could only grasp at in a dream state."
Personally I couldn't have written a review better than HoC's Thomas Yates, the man hired to write about Frank Underwood. However, I would like to share some other thoughts of the game that may not have been considered. As beautiful and thought intriguing as this game is, I find it hard to justify the price point of $3.99. The game is too short in its current state. There are only 10 levels and though there is an expansion for the game for $1.99, it only contains an additional 8 levels. That hurts just a bit. I have not yet bought the expansion as I found the original 10 levels pretty easy. Will I purchase the expansion? Most likely... I am going to be bothered by what could be. What does "Forgotten Shores" hold in store for us? This is a question that could be answered at a later time.
All things considered, I would still recommend Monument Valley. The price for content is a little hard to swallow, but the game is entirely fun if you enjoy puzzlers.
I was bored this evening while the wife was off gallivanting around in the snow... So I decided to take a closer look at some of the games that are contained in my massive Steam library. OK, so maybe my library isn't impressive as some but it is still pretty large.
I decided to take a chance on Bastion. It had great reviews, I have owned it for a while, and why the hell not. I was pleasantly surprised with this game. While I was expecting, well, to be honest, I have no idea what I was expecting. All I knew is that at one point, probably around the time the game was released, it was all the rage. I sat on it though, and I am glad I did.
First impression right off the bat: DAMNIT, this is a controller game?!? Yeah, I feel that I am better at wielding a mouse and keyboard than I am with the trusty staple of the console. And this is one of the many reasons I prefer the PC over the console. Then you may ask, "Why do you have a console controller for your PC?" That question is simply answered, "Well, I said I prefer to play games using the keyboard and mouse.. I never said I do it exclusively." And that is true, take a look at the game play of Castle Crashers. That title is played a hell of a lot better with a console controller. I digress.
After I got past the shock of using the controller and actually picked up the game play I was starting to find this game highly enjoyable. I have to say that I was a little leery of the concept of the narrator, but I now see how it ties in to the game. And I have to say that some of the things that he has said thus far are quite ingenious. I continued on the initial area where I learned the use of the controls as well as the attack and defend styles. It was a great intro into the game and I have to give a bit of a nod to the devs on that one.
After I finally landed in the Bastion, the place that I would call "home," I was excited to continue on and after completing the small follow-up actions in the Bastion that is what I did. I ended up clearing 4 or 5 more areas and doing 2 of the weapons challenges. I feel as though the game, so far, is well thought out and the scenery for this game is nothing that I have ever experienced before. By far one of the, dare I use this word, prettiest games I have ever played.
I intend to continue play through of Bastion to see where it takes me. If there is more to report on it, I will be sure to do so!
I can't contain my excitement for this one... Road Redemption is currently in Early Access status on Steam and I immediately screamed "HERE TAKE ALL MY MONIES!!!" Some of you may be SO confused as to why I am so excited for this one. I have two words for you: ROAD RASH. If you aren't familiar with Road Rash then you were not born in the 80s and definitely missed out on the Sega experience. Many hours of my youth, and you may find this surprising (BWHAHAHA), were spent gaming: PC gaming, console gaming and tabletop gaming. Go figure, right?
Road Redemption is sure to bring back some awesome memories and looks (I haven't played it yet) to be an updated port of the classic game. As it stands now there are only about 10-15 hours of game play. As I mentioned before, it is in Early Access. Now to convince the wife to let me spend $20 on a game that isn't finished yet. You know what, I am probably better off not telling her about this one. Does she read my blog?
Ok, ok... I know. I have this blog and I never use it. I find myself asking, "Why don't you use this?!?" The answer is simple really. I use Facebook as my way to reach out. I have done some soul-searching on this one and realized that Facebook only goes so far now-a-days. With security being so tight, with good reason, only my friends see what I post. And trust me I have come up with some GOLD in the last few months.
So here is what is going to happen:
I am actually going to use this blog! My Facebook friends, Twitter followers and now the public will be able to keep up with what it is going on in my head. As well as various and sundry things that I find. I have connected my blog to both Facebook and Twitter! So... I hope that you find some joy and amusement as well as some info.
To start, I would LOVE to share this with you guys (NSFW audio):
Holy. Cow. Ok, so I am going to show my age here... But back in the day I lived for this cartoon. Yes I was uber geeky when I was a kid but hey, what has changed since then? I don't normally steal/link from other blogs, but when I do it has got to be awesome and this is:
For all the youngsters who are now Googling “reboot,” realizing that’s useless, and then instead Googling “reboot cartoon,” and then laughing at the image search results, your elders would like to explain to you a thing. Once upon a time, back in 1994 when the internet as we know it was still kind of a mystical thing that only scientists and weirdos used, and the ideas of “realistic” and “video game graphics” were only just starting to go together (I mean, the first Tomb Raider was still two years away), Saturday morning television had it’s very first half hour long entirely computer animated series about anthropomorphized computer components.
I cannot wait for this. Seriously. Cannot. Wait. I am currently Googling trying to find a place to watch the entire series now before the ReBoot reboot comes out. Yes, I know this is a little over the top; and yes, I know there still isn't a date. When you have a chance at reliving a part of your childhood that may have has some impact on what you are today wouldn't you do it?? I am all about it.
The day of taped up glasses, suspenders and pocket protectors are quickly fading away. It's getting harder to pick the geeks out of the crowd.
Welcome to the day of the modern geek where the technically savvy not only embody intelligence but display an elegant blend of style and personality. They are less likely to be found at the bottom of the social ladder but influential in the lives of millions by their very thoughts alone. They are more likely to design, develop and maintain the systems that impact the quality of life for so many.
For some the choices of runway model, professional athlete or pop singer were serious ones but the fascination with technology drives them to choose another path; these are the modern geeks. They are hidden among the masses, only identifiable by the technology they carry buried amid their designer suits and attaché cases. The phone on their belt is not only serving as a phone but providing access to email, the internet, contact info and more. The portable music player in their shirt pocket that is used more as a backup disk than for music. An attaché case enclosing a laptop so powerful the acronyms to describe it exist only in the world of geek speak. A brain so thirsty for knowledge it consumes all information in the vicinity only to hunger for more.
This is the modern geek. They enjoy sports but only on their High Definition TV. They dominate in their basketball league, but only after selecting the perfect sneakers to maximize the effectiveness of their go to move. They are the teenagers who setup the parental controls for their mom and dad. They have parties to celebrate turning 5 years old and for gifts, ask for computer products by name.
The modern geek is everywhere and with each new generation and the progression of science and technology, they are growing to be the majority and will someday be commonplace.
As for me, I still keep a pair of taped up glasses on my desk for old time's sake.
We have had some of the best times of our lives together... sadly those times have come to an end. I am going to miss you forever and it is with a heavy heart that I pen this letter to you. I really still cannot believe that I will never see your face again.
I was just with you on the morning of July 4th, sitting in your driveway checking out the newest edition to my fleet. You dubbed her Ethel because you didn't like my idea of Edna, which I wasn't even going to go with. Needless to say, she is going to stay as you named her. I am so glad that I got to spend that time with you even though it wasn't enough for a lifetime.
That is my most recent memory of you but there are so many more. Just the time we spent as roommates on Seip Avenue living above Liz and Dan created so many good moments that I will treasure forever. Every time I see a silver WRX STi I think of you, and now even more so. The Halloween party we had in the basement of Seip, that was a blast man. All the nights spent playing Xbox, debating anything and everything that came to mind, Spring Street Tavern nights... man, we had some crazy days.
There is nothing I can say that will make any of this better, I wish there was. I really do. I wish I could take the pain that your family feels from them, but I can't. I wish I could bring you back to your friends and family. I wish, I wish, I wish. I can't do any of these things. I can keep the memory of you alive for as long as I live and I will try my damnedest to do so. I am stopping in to see Stacey. She is going to draw up a piece for me to remember you forever. I am hoping to use some of the art you have. Also, the hot dog in a taco will never be covered up. That was your creation along with Scotty and inspired by Chris' chicken leg tattoo.
Well man, I am at a loss for words, which seems weird seeing as though I just wrote this letter to you. I hope that you rest easy up there and hope that you watch us from above. Until we meet again, my friend.