Monday, January 30, 2012

Serious (House) Business

I haven't been blogging here much since late October because my wife Becky is pregnant. She yelled at me back then for posting here and NOT mentioning it, so now she gets top billing. I HOPE YOU'RE HAPPY NOW BECKY! Also, I love you! Our daughter is due on March 12th, so not only did we have Thanksgiving in November, then Christmas in December and New Years shortly afterwards, but we experienced the full second trimester in there and transitioned into the third. What this meant for me was a shitload of house work needing to get done.

Just this weekend I managed to repair the chewed up carpet edges in our living room (thankfully the puppy out grew that!) with some cheap carpet tape and some scraps cut out of the linen closet upstairs, buy new blinds for the baby's room and the living room, and install a new bathroom wall cabinet to finally give us some storage in there.

To get the baby's room ready I had to paint the walls light green, then go around and repaint ALL of the trim in the room white semi-gloss from the hideous yellow color that was apparently painted over an even more hideous navy blue color. Why would you paint trim like that? I don't even know why you'd paint trim to begin with. Leave it white! Certainly there are exceptions to this, but not many that I've seen. I also had to climb up in the attic, drill down through the top of the wall, and cut a whole in the ceiling to install a ceiling fan/light which improved the comfort factor of the room a ton.

I figure it might be interesting to list ALL of the repairs and upgrades we've made to this house since we bought it back in 2008:
  • Installed two new windows in the living room bay window
  • Repainted, re-caulked the outside of the front bay window
  • New locks on the front door
  • New sliding glass door in the back/kitchen area
  • Wood stairs from sliding door to back yard (replacing stone pavers stacked barely high enough)
  • New Microwave installed above stove (replacing generic range hood/light)
  • Installed carpet pad/carpet in main basement room (covering up bare concrete floor)
  • Patched a custom vent in basement that never should have been cut into ductwork
  • Installed Ceiling Fan/Light in both upstairs spare bedrooms
  • Installed awesome fan/light switch in 1st spare bedroom
  • New Heat pump and Central A/C Unit
  • New refrigerator
  • Pantry doors in the kitchen
  • Closet doors in the 1st Bedroom
I think that's everything! The great thing about this list is that I believe everything except the new Heat Pump/Central AC was done by myself. The big things I had a lot of help from my father-in-law who is a general handyman but also does drywall as his day job so that helps with the "oh well it can be patched" factor of messing up in-home repairs.

Monday, October 31, 2011

A Song of Ice and Fire and PAIN

It really seems like George R.R. Martin is just really good at writing bad things happening to characters, or at least that's the element of Low Fantasy that he seems to focus on through much of the second and third books in the series. I'm now about 60% of the way through the third book, A Storm of Swords, and some good things seem like they're about to happen to some of the characters. This is what prompted me to have the realization that practically nothing good has happened to ANY of the characters. Wars have been fought with both sides coming out of it badly, conflicts between characters resolved or at least progressed with BOTH sides seemingly getting screwed. I guess I can think of one character that things are going decently well for, and that's about it!

That said, I'm still enjoying the series and am very interested to see where things go even in the last part of the third book. He's definitely added in a ton of High Fantasy elements to the point that now I wouldn't even call it a Low Fantasy series or setting, it's just a really mean Medium/High Fantasy setting.

October is coming to a close, and I can't really believe it's been a year since last Halloween! Last year I spent a decent amount of money putting together a nice Obi-wan Kenobi costume so this year I spent roughly $5 on putting together a Tony Stark costume. The problem there is the chest-lights I'd rigged up don't show up on any pictures with a flash. I took a picture in the dark so I'll have to post that here.

I've been on a drought of new music lately, though I did pick up the Gorillaz newest album The Fall within the last month thanks to a friend reminding me about it on twitter. Becky also bought the new Coldplay album, but I have yet to really give it a listen. However, thankfully my friend Phil linked to a new group and song that I'm really enjoying right now, Data Romance and the song is called Bones:

Thanks Phil! I'm currently delving their other songs and finding quite a few that I really like. Glad to be listening to some new music (to me) again!

Monday, October 03, 2011

Fall 2011 Update

It was almost exactly a year ago that I posted about starting a reading schedule for the Wheel of Time series (Another Deathly Reading Schedule) after it worked so well to get me through the Harry Potter series in only a few months. I'm happy to say that unlike many of my other goal setting or attempts to get things done, the reading has been going exceedingly well and not only did I finish the Wheel of Time series (all of the released books, that is) on August 23rd of this year but I also managed to read several other books in that time frame as well including the classic 1984 and A Game of Thrones. I believe I also threw Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep in there late last year at the beginning of the reading schedule also.

In October last year I also posted about how I generally grow a beard in the fall, and I'm doing that again and once more this year it is also for my Halloween costume as well. Last year I had a bitchin' Obi-wan Kenobi costume and as much as I'd love to just dress up as him every year I'm going to switch it up and only do the Old Ben costume every few years or so (maybe).

Back to the topic of reading, today I saw this a few places on the internet: an awesome Flowchart of NPR's voted top 100 Sci-Fi and Fantasy Novels. I am actually pretty happy with the number of books I've already read from the list, but there are quite a few that it's reminded me I should be reading very soon. Right now I am only about 12% of the way through A Storm of Swords, and not to mention the two remaining published books in the Song of Ice and Fire series and then the next 2 Dark Tower books that I have here in the house and as many more of those as I want to read. Here are some of the books from that list that are now on my list of must-read books:
  • The Stand by Stephen King
  • Ringworld by Larry Niven
  • Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov
  • Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
  • Slaugherhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut
  • Animal Farm by George Orwell
  • World War Z by Max Brooks
  • Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C Clarke
  • I, Robot by Isaac Asimov
  • The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • Space Trilogy by C.S. Lewis
  • The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  • The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
  • Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
  • American Gods by Neil Gaiman
  • Watership Down by Richard Adams (was supposed to read this one in Middle School)
  • The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Hyperion by Dan Simmons
I think this list combined with the books not on here that I was ALREADY planning on reading will keep me busy for quite a long time!

10/31/11 - Edit
Adding these to my must-read list inspired by this Wired reading list of Essential Geek Books:
  • Godel, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofstadter
  • Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
  • Finish LOTR by Tolkien
  • The Visual Display of Quantitative Information by Edward Tufte (seems like a MUST HAVE for me)
  • Neuromancer by William Gibson

Monday, September 19, 2011

Reading Update - Sept. 2011

I started and finished my first Stephen King book ever, The Gunslinger, in a couple of days after I finished catching up on Wheel of Time. Now I'm tearing through Clash of Kings, the 2nd book in the Song of Ice and Fire series (I usually just call it Game of Thrones though because that's more recognizable) and am currently just over 50% through the book.

I have the 3rd book in Ice and Fire (Storm of Swords) waiting to read that I borrowed from Scott as well as the next two Dark Tower books that I've borrowed from Josh. After all of these I'm sure some other books will creep up that I need to read as well. Becky has suggested that I read some classics like Catcher in the Rye (after we watched and read about Field of Dreams over the weekend) and that sounds like something I'd like to do so that will probably show up on my list soon.

We've officially started cleaning out the baby's future room, which is turning into a big pain in the ass but it's good because it's forcing me to organize our space better and move things around the house to where they really should be finally. The basement is going to need to be overhauled quite a bit, but that's okay it's just time and effort that needs to be spent sooner than later.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Wheel of Time - COMPLETE!

Damn this feels good:

Considering I was reading Lord of Chaos back in November of 2010, these progress bars have been up on this site for almost a year now and I'm finally done with them! I read the last book, Towers of Midnight, in only 14 days which is pretty impressive for me (for over 800 pages).

Now I need to clear the progress bars on the right and figure out what I'm reading next!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Reading Update - Late Summer 2011

I breezed through Knife of Dreams (Wheel of Time book 11) in June and The Gathering Storm in July, then started on Towers of Midnight (book 13 and the latest one published) on August 9th. I'm only about 100 pages away from finishing it and nearing the point of being completely caught up on Wheel of Time. This is something that only two years ago I thought I would probably never accomplish, and here I'll have read 6 books (and one prequel book) of a 14 book series in 2011 alone. My average time to read the 700-1,000 page books has been 30 days almost exactly with one book taking me up to 49 days to finish (The Path of Daggers, book 8) and the quickest one finished so far being done in only 21 days (Knife of Dreams) - but I'm at 13 days of reading Towers of Midnight and have a strong feeling I'll be finishing it tonight.

With this large task nearly complete, I'm not sure what I'll be moving on to next. The Song of Ice and Fire books are high on my list, as is the first Dark Tower book - The Gunslinger. I also have some non-fiction books to read, and I'm fairly certain that I'll be re-reading Dune sometime VERY soon here.

In other news I've been playing Magic: The Gathering lately which is an awesome blast from the past. Mostly we're playing Commander (or EDH) which as a format was very enticing to me and many of my friends to jump back into the game.

Oh, also last year I enjoyed talking about GenCon but this year I've mostly left it out. I'd at least like to list the things I bought as I believe I did last year and found it a good exercise:
  • World of Warcraft: The Board Game - Burning Crusade Expansion (a steal at $15)
  • a set of 25 Alea Tools magnets for my D&D game (mostly reds for bloodied heroes/monsters)
  • 2 sets of earrings for Becky
  • one set of Chessex Dice for Becky
  • Gold: The Series Season 1 DVD
I believe that's it, which is insane and I'm sad I didn't buy more stuff but also very happy with myself that I can go to something like GenCon and be pretty reserved in my spending. If I remember anything else I bought I'll be sure to come back and add it to this list!

Monday, August 01, 2011

New Music - August 2011

I've thought about doing "Music Monday" posts, but instead I'll just keep posting about the new music I've been listening to and if it happens to be on a Monday then yay!

The Young Professionals (TYP) - "D.I.S.C.O."

- This one just gets stuck in my head, and I think the video's pretty damn entertaining too. For some reason the blatantly NOT to the beat playing of instruments interests me I guess.

Skylar Grey - "Dance Without You"

- Sure, Skylar Grey might be well outside of the type of music a lot of my friends listen to, but I've listened to and enjoyed plenty of Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Amy Winehouse, and plenty of other female musicians that I would consider just as outside of my normal music tastes. This song in particular is very reminiscent of several Bjork songs and I love Skylar's voice lately.

Justice - "D.V.N.O."

- Becky and I were introduced to the band Justice through the awesome song "Civilization", and as I do these days I searched around YouTube and found this one that is a favorite of mine the last month or so. VERY Daft Punk, but I don't think anyone would say that's a bad thing. :D

I have several other songs that are a part of my daily listening lately, but I'll save them for another music post in a week or two.

This week I'm flying out for GenCon, which I've been going to for the last 3 years (this is my 4th year) and I'm super excited about it! Looking forward to hanging out with a lot of people that I only get to see once or twice a year at conventions like this, and the usual good gaming and good times that always happen while we're there!

Also, if there's anyone out of the no-one that reads this that doesn't already know - my wife Becky is pregnant! She's due in early March and we're super excited! That's it for today, and probably the rest of the week due to GenCon, thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoy the music (if you do, please comment and let me know).