Sunday, September 17, 2017

Memorials, Mist and Morons

The word of the week is accrochable - yes, it IS a word!

 Sept 11 – Bitter Sixteen

You never know what's going to happen, in life.

None of those who were in the Twin Towers in NYC sixteen years ago could have known that their lives would be forever altered by the actions of a crazed few terrorists.

Those that lost their lives in the tragedy are still being identified, with the scattered remains 1 in 3 of the victims still unable to be positively identified. Closure for their families is not complete without being able to bury their loved ones.

"Time is an imperfect healer."

Yet the lesson remains with us today: live each day with intensity, experience life and don't let it go by without making the effort to grasp it fully... as tomorrow might not arrive one day.

Sep 12 – Lego Milennium Falcon!

There's yet another super-expensive Lego set... and I love it!

It also happens to be the second-largest Lego set ever released, with 7,541 pieces weighing nearly 20 pounds! Unsurprisingly, the sets sold out within a few days of its release on September 13th, despite the $899.99 CAD which will probably double the the year for those lucky enough to have got one... talk about investment potential! One little gripe: it's not quite a 1:1 minifig-scale, so that the interior layout is an approximation of what the actual ship's looks like to scale.

For your viewing edification, you can watch a short time lapse of one owner's 12 Hours and 43 Minutes that it took to single-handedly put together:

You can also compare it to THIS custom 11K-piece one-off monster that likely costs $2K USD in pieces alone, but IS made out to match the minifg scale perfectly:

SPECIAL BONUS: Adam Savage on Tested builds the new Falcon with his team and compares last year's 'Ultimate' Milennium Falcon to this one...

Sep 13 – The Orville... is good!

It took a little doing, but I managed to watch The Orville tonight.

For those of you unfamiliar with the new show from Seth McFarlane, it's a sci-fi comedy designed to parody Star Trek, and I felt it did a good job, overall:

( no spoilers )Like any new show, The Orville will have to find its legs in the first season, after the writers get more comfortable with the characters and the story of their world. I found the humor a touch lowbrow and the pace somewhat on the slow side, but if those are my only nitpicks after seeing only one episode of a new show, I think it's doing quite well.

The set design was excellent, with clean lines and bright colors used instead of the typical dingy and dark sci-fi we're used to seeing ever since the 1990s. I have some confidence that Seth McFarlane knows what he's doing in television by now, as evidenced by his excellent track record as a writer, so I'll be happy to tune into further episodes of The Orville, once I figure out how to get stream them from the USA...

Sept 14 – The Last Jedi... comic?

Oh, Mark Hamill... what are you up to?

The Star Wars star told fans this week NOT to read an old comic from the 1970's, as it contained spoilers for the upcoming film, The Last Jedi, this December:

Now, I'm not the kind of Star Wars fan who wants to know everything about a film before it's released - far from it! I want to go into the movie spoiler-free, at least as much as possible given today's pervasive social media and the preponderance of idiots on such who love spoiling things for people...

But: I think he's pulling people's legs, as a diversion for his amusement.

We'll see; I actually own the comic, which unsurprisingly has jumped in price on eBay from pennies to over $100 USD in some cases, which just goes to show how dumb AND desperate some people are to give in to their fanboy urges.

I'll wait for the movie, thanks.

Sept 15 – Mist Opportunity

Ergh... that was disappointing.

I started watching the new Netflix series The Mist, based on Stephen King short story of the same name... and it was terrible. About two episodes in, I suddenly realized it was a 'character drama' with Big Bad Monsters thrown in as the driving force for the thin plot... and that killed my interest in it.

I had no desire to sit through episode after episode of trying to untangle the mess of badly-written character dramatics meant to be 'interesting' yet are anything but, since the characters are so flat and the plot so contrived. I ended up skipping through all of the remaining episodes of the first season without missing anything, because if you can't care about or relate to any of the characters, then it's a complete waste of time.

Sad, because I had such high hopes for this been more than a C-grade attempt at a horror-based drama that I might've been interested in... and I doubt we'll get a second season based on the ratings to date.

Sept 16 – Climate Crazy

Oh, Strumpet... will your ego doom the planet?

Yet again the POTUS has pontificated that he refuses to let the USA sign off as part of the Paris Accord in support of saving the planet, due to his massive ego.

How soon is it's until he's gone, again? Three years?

I find myself frustrated from day-to-day with the sheer ignorance of so many people out there it comes to the reality of climate change. It's very simple:

It's happening.

All the evidence, all the facts, all the research: it ALL points overwhelmingly that and the climate changes reality and that instead of arguing or debating the topic, we should have already moved forward as a planet in DOING something about it. Preferably a whole lot of somethings, like what the Paris Accord is all about.

Instead, people believe the garbage that Strumpet is spewing, preferring to post laughably incorrect memes about how man-made climate change is a hoax while sticking their collective fingers in their ears to ignore the EVIDENCE. It's stunning how loud so relatively few people can be when they're spouting such ignorance; obviously the POTUS is setting the example for them.

Too bad the planet is going pay the price.

Sept 17 – Sad Socialization

Today I attended a memorial, and a celebration.

My friend Chris passed away twelve days ago, on September 5th, and today his family held a memorial service for him in Sooke. My lady and I attended, under cloudy grey skies, driving through the wooded rural roads out to his parent's secluded home perched high on a cliff overlooking the harbour.

Several hundred people attended, with standing-room only, which spoke volumes about the character of my friend and how beloved he was by so many.

The memorial took two hours, with family and then friends speaking their hearts about Chris. About his generosity, his kindness and his always-present smile, which was a genuine window into his soul. They told stories of his antics, his propensity for clumsy accidents, of his love of sports and above all, of his love for his friends and family that defined him as a person, through and through.

It was an experience I will never forget, to see how one person can touch the lives of so many and change them ALL for the better, simply because of who he was and how he chose to live each day: to the fullest, with passion and a glad smile. I was also glad of the opportunity to catch up with friends from Staples, some of whom had traveled far to be there from as far away as Alberta and Nova Scotia.

Chris will be missed greatly by all of us, but never forgotten, not for a moment, if today was any indication: the impact he had on our lives was both profound and subtle, and we all owe it to his memory to live, as his brother said, as though he's still with us... doing what we love, as Chris did, and always with a smile.

It came to me as we left: I've never met a better person than he.

Heading back from Sooke, my lady and I stopped in at another invite, the 50th wedding anniversary for the president of our RC boating club who had kindly invited us a few weeks ago. It was a much lower-key affair without a sombre core, and we were glad for the opportunity to sit down while we chatted with mostly-strangers for an hour before heading home, feeling exhausted from our emotions.

The week ahead's looking busy, as is the rest of the fall. Now that the massage work I've had has really taken, I'm going to dive back into swimming more often in the next few weeks, as my access card expires soon - my abdominals are at the point where the gentle exercise will do them good, and I can certainly use the tone-up. Morning laps in the pool, here I come!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Fairs, Film and Friends Lost

The word of the week is contemplative.

Sept 4 – Fair Part 2!

Today was our second day at the Saanich Fair.

My girlfriend and I arrived a little early so we could look around; though it was again rather a hot day, it wasn't as bad as it was on Saturday and also wasn't nearly as crowded. We got a lot of pics of the setup, which was pretty cool, with a large pond to float the boats:

The water was cool and refreshing, too!

By 5pm, most people had left the fair and the VMSS folks started to take down the display area, though by 5:30pm most of these folks have left as well. At the end, it was down to just two other VMSS people, my girlfriend and I to finish up, with stacks of tables, chairs and sundy items to load into two vehicles. We could have left as well, but neither of us felt right now doing that, as the other two people were older gentleman neither of whom were in peak physical form for weathering exercise in the heat. We finished up by 6:30pm, managing to cram everything into a truck and a van, then heading home ourselves across the mostly-empty parking fields after waiting in line with many other patient vehicles to exit.

All in all, it was a more relaxed day than Saturday. Next year though, if we do end up volunteering, we'll make a point to ask for the morning shifts, or even just pass on the duty if enough other people a party signed up... we'd like to see more of the Fair, especially if the weather isn't nearly as oppressively hot.

Sep 5 – Shock

My good friend Chris died suddenly today.

I have known Chris nearly as well as I'd like, having only met him during my time at Staples back in 2012, but we clicked right away. He was a friendly fellow, always willing to help and as it turns out, we shared a love of boardgames as well as some mutual local friends, so it was natural that we'd end up hanging out.

Chris was only in his early 30s when he passed away today from a heart condition called pericarditis, which is an inflammation of the heart lining suspected to be caused by a viral infection such as a cold. I had no idea this could happen, and his sudden loss shocked everyone who knew him.

I managed to write this today before work, which I feel expresses much of the friendship I shared with Chris and speaks to the character of the man I knew:

The world truly is a poorer place without him, and we'll all have to find a way to cope. 


Sep 6 – Ponderings

Losing a close friend really makes you think about life.

Really, you should be thinking about it all the time, but so many of us get wrapped up in the details of the everyday that we don't stop often enough to appreciate what we truly have going for us. Thoughts on dying seldom enter into people's daily lives, yet we'll all die, someday.

We take too much for granted - we've also all heard that.

I like to think that I've given more thought to what I have going on in my life over the years than many, though I don't pretend to be as introspective as the better philosophers throughout history. I think about where I've been, where he and where I'm going, and all the places that I've walked along that path.

I'm also incredibly grateful that I've rarely walked it alone.

True, there are some aspects of your life that you have to figure out for yourself: nobody's going to be able to fix things for you as an adult.

It's the people in your life that are the most important thing, those who by blood or circumstance or choice share the path you walk, coming and going as you all meander along the ways that your choices take you hither and dither. Knowing someone is the same as being friends, associates aren't family and those we choose to share our lives with( and they, us! )form the bedrock of our days. We assume that they'll always be there, and that will always have time to catch up.

Never take the people in your life for granted.

For myself, I take some comfort in that I've left this blog as a record of part of my life( around 20% )which is something, and I'm hoping to leave behind a good body of writing as well. I also hope, should I depart earlier than expected, that the good memories I made with many folks will linger on with them and provide comfort for many years after I'm no longer around to crack puns.

Then again, I might set up an email auto-pun generator.... hmmm.

Sept 7 – Why Game?

Why do I like boardgames, as opposed to video games?

It's interesting question; I've pulled back from online gaming in the last few years, a stark contrast to when I first arrived here in Victoria 10 years ago. Back then, I didn't know anyone here, so it made sense for me to continue gaming with my friends online in Neverwinter Nights as well as my friends from back east on Xbox Live playing cooperative games like COD and the like.

Gradually, that changed as my NWN group wound down and I lost interest in the first-person shooter games that demanded too much of my time in order to keep my skills( which were merely adequate )at levels needed to not drag down my teams. It just wasn't interesting to me anymore, and slower-paced games online held little similar interest for me, nor did MMO's like Warcraft or any of the others.

So that left boardgames, and thankfully Victoria has a thriving community for such at places like the Interactivity Cafe. But why do I play the games?

This article takes a look at the whys rather nicely, including this particular bit:

Also noted in the article is the fact that you're gaining face-to-face with people instead of through my computer interface... or alone with your phone. Personally, I've installed dozens of games on my previous phone, but only a few on my new one because I found that I just don't play them unless I have nothing else to do such as when I'm on a bus... but even then, I'd prefer to read.

Thus: I like boardgames because I can play them with other people when we get together in the same room.

So simple, and yet so true.

Sept 8 – Jobs For Me?

I'm still trying.

This month I've applied for three separate jobs within the government, doing my best to tailor my applications to the positions to show my strengths and qualifications. I've had discussions with several people about the positions to get their opinion on what the highlight, and I'm feeling much better about my chances of making it through the process then I did before the summer started.

It's crucial that I keep trying this fall.

It may not seem like much, but even a slightly better position would mean several hundred dollars more per paycheque, which currently for me have most every dollar spoken for... not a healthy way to live, but that's the way it is right now.

I'd hoped by now to be at least six months into my new business, generating revenue from my Glowforge, but that didn't happen, and neither did any of my job applications, so I'm here now and having to deal with things as they are.

All I can do is keep trying to make positive change in my finances, while reducing my stressing about same and continuing to move forward with my writing projects.

Sept 9 – Moving Film

In the late afternoon, my lady and I went to see a movie downtown.

We went to the old Vic Theatre, home of the Victoria Film Festival, to see the lauded Japanese animated feature In This Corner Of The World. The film is a rarity in that it's completely hand-animated, and it's just gorgeous visually:

The story follows the life of a young Japanese girl as she grows up prior to WWII and then her experiences during the war. It's moving and poignant, sweet and funny and tragic all at the right moments and it doesn't leave you with a Hollywood ending but rather pondering life's lessons and greater meanings.

It was the perfect thing for me to see this week.

Sept 10 – Breaks

Today went by quickly, but well.

Breakfast in the morning with a friend turned into a perfect lunch with my lady at Garrick's Head Pub: we were the only ones on the patio outside, and there was a Spanish guitarist playing nearby as part of the weekend market. The sun was shining and though we're in the shade, it wasn't too shivery... and we both enjoyed just relaxing outside in each other's company until the early afternoon.

I'm So glad I can eat their Sunday special again - YUM!!!!

As well, the weather has finally broken this week, with several overnight rain showers that have washed the haze from the sky, along with cooperative winds that have kept the smoke from the mainland's wildfires away. Both my sister and I have had steady headaches this last week, but as of yesterday they've cleared up, which leads us to suspect that they were in a large part related to the particulate matter in the air clogging everything up around here.

It did make for some good pictures though, like this picture of the moon from 6:30am on September 7th, which turned out rather well I think:

All for now; I've a busy 5-day week ahead, and lots to do each evening for the rest of the fall...

As I mentioned last week, I'm feeling pretty much back to normal, walking to work and home again in all things in between without any leg twinges. My abdominals are only complaining a little here and there, and so I'm looking to take up swimming in the mornings again for at least two days each of the next few weeks. It should be both relaxing and invigorating before work.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Fairs, Figures and Feeling Fine

The word of the week is glissade.

Aug 29 – Math Hustle?

Math has never been my strong suit.

Anything more complicated than basic addition or subtraction, with maybe a few percentages thrown in, always makes my brain hurt. I put it down to a combination of the lack of practice and a it's a rare thing in my life when I need to deal with mathematics more complicated than can be found on your basic five-dollar calculator.

But, sometimes you need the math skills on your side:

I’ve tried, and I still can't figure out who owes what to who in the above example. Unsurprisingly, the internet hasn't been any help either. I'm probably overlooking some simple aspect of the problem, like wondering how many watermelons I have left...

In a very rare reach-out, I ask you: who owes who what, from the above comic? Feel free to use the comments at the bottom of this blog!

Aug 30 – Life Levelling Up?

What if life was a video game?

I really like it when creative folk make informational videos about topics that people take for granted, or summarize things neatly in a graphical way.

This particular video below looks at the average human life as a character in the videogame, and treats their lifetime accordingly with brilliant satire:

Aug 31 – Drafting

Two years ago, I finished my first novel's third draft.

This year, I set a goal to finish by the time the left for vacation, or at least by the end of August... and if I hit the first goal, I'd take the remaining time off!

By working hard( and continuously )for the last two months, I hit the earlier date, meaning I have rewarded myself with the last 2 weeks 'off' from writing, including the time I spent down in the USA for the eclipse with my girlfriend's family.

In the meantime, I printed up / emailed out a half-dozen copies of my fourth draft for beta readers to review and give feedback on. I've included with each an updated copy of a questionnaire I hope will zero in their feedback on specific parts and aspects of the draft, such as plot, character and so forth: things that I'm concerned that I've improved properly without going overboard since the previous draft.

It'll probably be about a month before anyone gets back to me, so in the meantime I'll be digging back into the draft for Book 2, which has been waiting for almost 2 years... but I now feel better qualified to be working on it again, as its complexities meant I needed to become a better writer before I could finish it.

Time, as always, will tell.

Sept 1 – Healthy Normalcy?

I've been feeling really balanced this week.

An ultrasound on Monday revealed no abdominal abnormalities, though the subject of my right kidney came up again in that there's a small abnormality still inside. But since it hasn't changed since it was first detected in 2014, there's little cause for concern apart from keeping an eye on it on a yearly basis or if anything changes - I'm not worried, and neither is my doctor, so no need to get anxious.

My weight's almost back to normal, around 155lbs, which is excellent! I'm eating a full range of normal-sized meals again without effort or getting full too soon. While I'm still taking digestive supplements, I've cut them back to 1/2 or even 1/4 doses with each meal, as my 'throughput' seems to be perfectly fine at those levels.

I'm also far more energetic this week, waking up at the same time each day and getting tired at the same time consistently, with solid energy levels throughout the day. I'm getting in around 10K steps a day with NO pain from my right leg; only the occasional twinge, and I'm sitting easily at work without needing to shift around, which has NOT been the cast for the last six months! The massages in particular have helped loosen my psoas tendons, which had shortened due to my sitting at my day job for too long without compensatory exercises to counter...

My abdominals have also been solid, so much so that I've had to remind myself NOT to just jump up or twist around: it's been a LONG time since I've forgotten that ab pains are only a bad move away, and I'm hopeful that this will be the norm again soon. I credit lowering tension, weekly massages and nightly treatments with a heating pad all with helping my abs loosen their crazed grip!

Overall, I'd say I'm feeling around 90% normal, and should be back to 100% within a week or two, with caution and patience. I'll be getting back on my exercise bike, as I've already said, with caution and more patience, determined to get myself back into a healthier level of fitness by the time 2018 rolls around.

No more daily pain, anywhere, is the goal!

Sept 2 – Saanich Fair Pt.1

My lady and I went to the fair today... and WOW, it was hot out!

We were planning on going anyway, but our friends in the Victoria Model Shipbuilding Society were doing their annual demo at the fair and needed volunteers to man the demo pond, so we signed up and got( well, I did anyway )free tickets to the Fair.

We showed up around 1pm, taking our place at the end of  a long line of traffic, since today is the busiest day for the Fair. We proceeded fairly quickly to park at one end of the extremely-large field, hauling our boat and gear to the front entry:

Once inside, we found our way to the boat pond in the middle of the Fair rather easily, and were gratified to see that it was at the rear of a large building that shaded it nicely for most of the morning until late afternoon. There were a dozen club members there, and we set up our gear, then popped out briefly to get some lunch. I was rather hungry and grabbed some nearby Ali Baba pizza, while my lady opted for some asian food( Korean? )that she said was perfectly delicious.

The afternoon was HOT, getting up to around 35°C but at least the humidity was low! The fairgrounds were packed with people, and you could see everyone was really feeling the effects of the sun by late afternoon, as there was limited shade and no cool breezes as the grounds are located in the middle of the Saanich Peninsula away from any bodies of water. Hot, dusty and sun-baked!

We really enjoyed ourselves, just driving the boat around( I hit the sides too damn often because of the limited space / turning radius of my large boat ) and entertaining curious passers-by, especially the kids. We had hourly rubber band boat races just for them, which proved quite popular:

I was also really impressed with the new battery I've purchased this summer, a 5000 mAh  3-cell unit that I've got an incredible deal on from an Amazon dealer in Turkey, of all places. For the price of onebattery from a seller like Venom, I received TWO batteries... and even though one of them failed after a few days, the seller refunded my entire purchase, so the battery was essentially free! It ran the boat for hours today yet the voltage barely dropped( by a mere 0.4V )after all that, which is really incredible! It bodes well to running my more powerful PT boat in the future, once I get replacement motors installed in a month or so.

My lady and I headed out before 6 PM, feeling hot and tired and slightly sunbaked, so we made a beeline for Bubby's Kitchen in Cook Street village where we sat on the patio and soaked in the cool breezes from the nearby ocean - it was the perfect way to wind down from a hot day!

Sept 3 – A Day Out

It was a bit of a busy relaxed-Sunday today.

After spending the morning catching up on chores at home, my girlfriend met me after lunch and we headed out to find a good spot to play some boardgames for the afternoon. We settled in at Union Pacific Coffee in the area north of downtown, seated on their cozy back patio that's mostly shaded from the Sun, with an overhead arbor and plenty of green growing plants. We played our newest game, Treasure Lair, which we picked up in the states and is a good deal of fun once we'd become familiar with the rules. It was quite enjoyable, being a card-based game where you form a party of heroes to try and complete the randomly-generated quests in each game. We managed to get through a full game despite a very determined wasp who wanted my cookie - no way, fellah!

After that, we popped over to the Marble Slab Ice Creamery, where we shared a banana split while playing a few games of Hive. Out of five games, I won three, which I think is a new record for me as my girlfriend would regularly best me up until now. We finished off the evening with dinner at Azumi Sushi, where I really enjoyed the huge bowl of go to sleep chicken teriyaki soup, and promptly forgot to take the leftovers with me - doh!

This is the long weekend, I have tomorrow off as well, and I'll be back at the Saanich Fair again in the afternoon for a second shift with my lady will be better prepared( I'll have a sound speaker for the boat ) and I expect will be able to see more of the fair, since it's not likely to be as busy as yesterday.

I had to actually close my windows while writing the blog this evening, as the microphone I'm using was picking up the loud voices of passersby, which was the first.