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).

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

July - Painting!

I randomly got the inspiration to do a painting of Gir from Invader Zim, and I've been dying to get more Acrylic painting under my belt so I finally figured - why not?

Here's the rough sketch and background on the canvas that I did Monday evening, it took about an hour and half because I was going very slow and taking my time. First time I've done a real Acrylic painting in a long time!

Gir Painting - 7/25/11

Yesterday I took an hour or so to sit down and fill in the colors on Gir himself, I quickly realized the background would need touching up in several places so I took care of that also. I'm very happy with the color selection on it.

Gir Painting - 7/26/11

Here's my progress as of today with the outline done in Sharpie. As I did the outlines I realized a few things that need fixing for Gir himself: his right eye should be almost perfectly circular and not an oval, and his hands look too much like claws. Both of these things I plan on going back tonight or tomorrow with paint and sharpie and fixing up.

Gir Painting - 7/27/11

As for reading progress, I plowed through Wheel of Time book 11 - Knife of Dreams in only 21 days and I am currently just over 50% through book 12, A Gathering Storm. Getting so close to the end of the series that things are getting REALLY exciting, but reading progress has been slow the last week due to summer activities - can't complain too much about that.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

More New Music of 2011

This time I'll try to embed some YouTube videos for the music:

  • the song "Iron" by Woodkid, we first heard it in the new E3 trailer for the next Assassin's Creed game

  • "The Bay" by Metronomy - after Becky sent me this video knowing it was a style of song I'd love, I'm loving a lot of other songs by Metronomy also

  • "Barbra Streisand" by Duck Sauce - our friend Chris linked to this on Facebook with a comment akin to 'what has music come to these days?' Becky and I loved it!

That's it for today, hopefully these YouTube links work and I don't have to F with the post too much.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Re-Employment, Year One

Exactly one year ago today is when I started posting to this blog more regularly with the great news that I'd gotten a job after 7 months of unemployment (here's the post if you didn't read it then). Thankfully I'm till employed and I'm positively loving my job, it's been great for the last year and I hope that it continues like this for some time to come!

I can't decide if it feels like a year has passed or not, but I'm okay with that because there have been some great times and it was definitely an eventful year. Probably most notably Becky and our friend Josh threw me an amazing birthday party at a friend's house with Battle Tag laser tag in the back yard (using cars as terrain and obstacles) and a very awesome in ground pool to take the edge off running around for hours in 90 degree weather. It was a fantastic time and the most fun I've had in a while, and Battle Tag was a better present than I could have imagined.

On the reading front, I've finished up through Crossroads of Twilight, the tenth book in the Wheel of Time series and am already half way through the prequel novel New Spring (which is only 330 pages). I'm very pleased that I can now read a 300 page book in just a week or two whereas they used to take me a hell of a lot longer to finish. After New Spring I feel like I will be on the home stretch of the series with only three books left that have been published and the final book on the way early next year.

After I catch up on Wheel of Time I'll be moving on to the 2nd Game of Thrones book (Song of Ice and Fire, whatever) and starting Dark Tower as well. I'm very interested to read something by Stephen King because so far I don't believe I've ever read anything he has written. Beyond those, I'm interested in checking out some classic Sci-Fi series like Foundation by Asimov, Ringworld by Larry Niven, and Lensman Series by E.E. Smith.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Music of Early 2011

Here is a simple list of the recent songs that I am obsessed with at the moment (usually Becky is obsessed with the same songs, but not always):
  • "Civilization" by Justice - you've probably heard it in the latest Adidas commercial with Katy Perry in it. Good god is this song good! Listen to it on YouTube here.
  • "The Golden Age" by The Asteroids Galaxy Tour - From another commercial, this time a Heineken commercial. Got it stuck in my head so decided to buy it and have been enjoying it. Music Video on YouTube.
  • "Tighten Up" by The Black Keys - Amazingly I actually heard this one first on DC101 (really shocking, I know), very good stuff! Music Video on YouTube.
  • The new album "Wasting Light" from the Foo Fighters
  • The Tron: Legacy soundtrack from Daft Punk

Reading Update: I finished A Game of Thrones in almost exactly a month, and have already jumped in to book 10 of Wheel of Time - Crossroads of Twilight and am now 12% into the book. If I read one WoT book a month I will be caught up in the series by August/September.

Friday, April 29, 2011

April Update

It's been just shy of a month since my last post, and at that time I was just starting A Game of Thrones and only 6% through it, now I'm 74% through the book and progress is picking up quickly (as it usually does) towards the climax of the book. I am really thoroughly enjoying GRRM's style of writing in contrast to many of the things I've been reading a lot of lately (specifically Wheel of Time), and though at first I didn't plan on reading the later Song of Ice and Fire books they are definitely on my list now. However, after this book I will be going back to Wheel of Time so I can continue to tear through that series before the end of the year.

I have been going to the Bushikai dojo and training in Nihon Jujutsu almost every Tuesday and Thursday since mid-January. I am loving it 100% and though I get quite sore from being thrown around and beat up, the exercise, energy, confidence, and extremely interesting things that I'm learning are all so positive that I can't believe I had been putting off joining the dojo for so long. I really can't thank Becky enough for getting me started there as a Christmas present, without that who knows how long I would have waited. So far I've lost between 5-10 pounds and I know that I've put on a lot of muscle (which means I have some muscles, rather than none) so I'm very happy with how it is changing me physically. The dojo also has regular Kenjutsu (sword) classes but I'm trying to keep my attendance limited at the moment because if I start going more I find that my free time becomes a LOT more limited.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Game of Thrones

On March 26th I finished Wheel of Time book 9, Winter's Heart, and quickly moved on to the copy of A Game of Thrones that I borrowed from Andrew. Right now, 4 days later, I am 6% through the book but I haven't been reading all that much yet so progress should pick up in the next week or two. By April 17 I hope I will be decently through the book, if not very close to finishing it, so that we can watch the HBO series and I'll be ahead of the game.

After A Game of Thrones I'll most likely be doing a marathon of the next few Wheel of Time books to get through all of the books that have been released before the final book comes out in early 2012. At the moment my average for WoT books is 1 per month, so that should be easily achievable.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

PAX East 2011 and Springtime

March has pretty well flown by because the first week was essentially preparation for PAX East, then the convention itself, and a return home to allergies + a cold and then here we are today! By March 9th Becky and I were up in Boston for the first time (for either of us), and although it was cold we spent two awesome days around town with Becky's friend Jon who lives in Jamaica Plain near the South End of Boston. I'm not even going to pretend that I learned how Boston divides itself up, but suffice to say it seems like there are multiple south parts and multiple north parts that are all quite different from each other.

We spent the majority of our time in the harbor/convention center area because we were staying at a hotel there for PAX East, which took place from March 11th-13th. PAX itself was amazing and we had a lot of fun, especially so with meeting a bunch of people including Josh's friend Bryan that lives really freaking close to us but we had to go to Boston at the same time to finally meet! We also had a lot of fun running around town with Jon and then with Chris Tulach who acted as our tour guide for the majority of the Freedom Trail on the Monday after PAX. Boston is easily one of Becky's and my favorite cities now. Pretty much all of the food we had while in Boston was amazing, so that helps.

I think it was a great idea for us to spend a few extra days both before and after the con in town, and hopefully we get to do the same for PAX East next year which we're both already planning to attend. I wish that we had gone last year because then we could totally make PAX East a thing for us to attend every single one of, but alas last spring was not exactly the best of times for us and doing things like going on vacation (I was unemployed at the time).

Then pretty much within a few hours of returning to Maryland my allergies flared up and I quickly caught a cold, which I was happy that it waited until I got home where I could be more comfortable while sick, but it resulted in the next week after vacation going by relatively uneventfully and so here we are in late March and it feels like time has just flown by. Becky got sick also, but I think we're both coming off of our colds now so hopefully we'll be feeling better just in time for April!

I didn't get nearly as much reading done on the train up to and back from Boston as I thought I would. Turns out riding a train from 10pm to 8am is disorienting and left us both in a strange state of limbo during the travel because we couldn't really sleep well but it was clearly the time for sleeping. That said, reading progress has been going well especially in the last two weeks and I'm now 80% of the way through Wheel of Time book 9, Winter's Heart, and expect to be finishing it up any day now. I'm still planning on tackling A Game of Thrones before April 17th when the show starts on HBO, so hopefully I can accomplish that without many problems. After that it'll be back to WoT for the home stretch of books before the last book comes out early next year.

Oh, and I absolutely have to mention that I finally, FINALLY, finally got to buy the new Battletech boxed set which I've been dying to get my hands on since my first GenCon 3 years ago when it was out but I wasn't really in the position to buy a bunch of things while I was there. Even better than that, I got to buy the new boxed set and it hasn't even been released yet! Yay! Now let's play some F'ing Battletech!!!

Monday, February 28, 2011

End of February Update

Two days ago I finally finished reading Wheel of Time book 8, The Path of Daggers. I've started into book 9 - Winter's Heart and hope that I can finish it pretty quickly because I am eager to get into the first Game of Thrones book before April when the TV show comes on HBO, and I also have the first Dark Tower book that I've borrowed from my friend Josh that I am very excited to read. Of course after Winter's Heart there's still 5 more Wheel of Time books, but those will be handled in the rest of 2011 I think.

Just over a year ago Becky and I were both greatly enjoying being home all day together and watching the Winter Olympics, but we were also quite stressed with my unemployment situation. This year there's a bit of stress due to the government supposedly cutting a lot of funding for programs and even potentially not passing last year's budget which would cause gov't wide furlough days. Either way this is an issue for my line of work and I'm concerned but trying to stay positive and not let the stress get to me that much.

Other than those things life has been going really well and pretty steady lately. I'm enjoying doing web development and programming work every day as much as I enjoy doing architecture and design so my job satisfaction at the moment is very high. I'm also looking forward to using the knowledge I'm gaining on personal projects developing web-apps and other things that I've wanted to work on for a long time but until recently didn't have the knowledge to do it.

On the gaming front we've slowed down on how much we have been playing WoW but hopefully will keep playing it enough that it is worth while as an expense. I've gotten into the beta for the game Darkspore which I hadn't heard about until last week and it's incredibly fun, and will hopefully be getting into the early closed beta for Rise of Immortals which looks interesting as well.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Late Winter 2011

At least I hope it's late Winter now. Don't get me wrong, I love all of the seasons and I even really enjoy snow, but this year especially the winter months brought a significant lull in a lot of things for me - most specifically gaming and my D&D campaign. Now that it's February I'm happy to be getting back into the swing of things as people's schedules generally open up a bit more and weather stops becoming such a big threat for plans being canceled.

One thing that I did start doing in January was training at the Bushikai dojo here in Frederick, last night as my 7th class there and I'm really loving it. I'm still quite out of shape and the warm ups are wearing me out but I'm slowly improving and losing a little bit of weight along the way. Most importantly I'm having a great time doing it and am excited to begin attending their Kenjutsu (sword training) classes possibly as soon as next week.

With my new job duties as PHP/MySQL web developer (or whatever you want to call it) I've had a lot of reading to do for training, which has stalled my recreational reading. First, an update on the training progress. At the very end of January I'd read 123 pages on PHP and 68 pages on MySQL. My progress at the moment is:
  • 200 pages on PHP (123 in 1 book, 77 in another)
  • 68 pages on MySQL
  • 52 pages on integrating PHP & MySQL together
  • 18 pages on Cookies, Sessions, & Authentication
  • 11 pages on Javascript
Progress through the books themselves has been slow the last week because I've been implementing a lot of what I'm learning and re-building our website to use PHP/MySQL. Now that I'm getting into the Javascript and Ajax stuff though I'm going to be reading more to get through all the information and then hopefully implement what I can from that as well. It's pretty exciting being able to finally put together a website or web based program that can do a lot of the things I've wanted to do for the last few years.

Reading Update: If I'd been reading along with my schedule I would be finishing book 8 - Path of Daggers right around now, instead I stalled at around 35% for a few weeks but am now getting back on track and am 44% through the book.

Monday, January 31, 2011

New Work Duties

I'm being trained at my day job for PHP/MySQL now in addition to my standard architectural duties. This is incredibly exciting because I really enjoy Web Design and Web Development and it's been something I've wanted to learn in the last two years and haven't really had a solid reason to do it until now.

Unfortunately having to read training books for work has mostly stalled my personal reading, but this is something I'm aiming to rectify in the next few weeks. So far I've read roughly:
  • 123 pages on PHP
  • 68 pages on MySQL
I'm just getting into the sections about integrating the two together, and I've gone through a lot of examples of writing PHP and creating MySQL databases on my computer. I've also just started working on taking our existing company webpage and redesigning it/changing the code so that it uses PHP and connecting it to the MySQL database I'm putting together at the same time.

It's funny to me because I have never considered myself a programmer (and still don't) but I'm actually starting to learn quite a bit more about how things are programmed, specifically dynamic websites. This minor change in job duties came at a hilarious time for me as well, I was just starting to get back into creating custom maps for Starcraft II and had been banging my head against a wall with some minor things that I somehow eventually figured out with different programming in the SC2 editor. Then this comes along, and I was already in a programming / looking at a lot of code and seeing how it works mindset, so things seem to have worked out pretty well on that front so far.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

January Update

I'm in the process of learning PHP/MySQL (and Javascript) for my day job so that I can help out with the web development stuff that my company does on a regular basis. It's interesting and as usual incredibly fun for me to be learning something new in programming (and my first professional training in any kind of programming).

Coincidentally, only a day or two before I found out I would be doing this for my day job, I got back into map editing for Starcraft 2 pretty intensely. It's a very interesting thing to get back into because I was doing a lot of map editing back in March-May while I was unemployed so it feels almost nostalgic to be doing it again.

Also last Thursday, January 13th was my first day attending Bushikai training for Nihon Jujutsu here in Frederick. In quite certain terms - I got my ass kicked. I couldn't even get through the warm ups (including a minute of push ups, carrying people around, all the fun stuff) and my body has been sore all over for the last few days. However I'm planning on going Tuesdays and Thursdays to start, adding Saturdays in once I'm a bit more in shape and hopefully even doing Mondays regularly as well. When I'm in shape I should be able to handle 4 days a week, I hope!

Reading Update: I am now 33% through book 8 of Wheel of Time, The Path of Daggers. For anyone that hasn't read the book series through book 8, I'm about to discuss a spoiler: It is on exactly page 207 of book 8 that the first mention of the weather finally getting cooler again occurs (mentioned by Faile). Now I just need to go back and re-read and keep my eyes open for when Jordan introduced the first real indication that the weather was staying warm into the fall. My guess is that it's sometime in book 4 (or even book 3) because that was the book that I read over a course of 9 months and so explains why I don't have a very good recollection of when it first started.

Overall that's probably one of the largest "plot" arcs that's happened in the books so far, really taking place over the course of 4-5 books, whereas most other things (so far) have generally lasted only 1-2 or at most 3 books excluding some of the largest plot points that are arguably in every book. To me that's pretty exciting, and is helping me propel through the middle of this book.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

The Marathon Method

I'm coining the personal term "Marathon Method" for my complete domination of reading in the last 6 months. I set out to read all of the Harry Potter books before the last movie, giving myself a deadline and a tough but still reasonable increment to complete each book in (1 month per book) and as you may remember I came in at least a month early. I even finished the last book, The Deathly Hallows, in 2 days! I'm fairly confident in saying that 700+ pages in 2 days is the most I've ever read in my life in such a short period.

Now I've moved the method on to the Wheel of Time series, and it's working wonders. I don't have a good record of when I was reading or finished the first two books in the series, but they were easily within the 2006-2008 time frame. That's 3 years for TWO books! I'm sure I read other books mixed in there, but still, I know for a fact I would finish one of those books in about 6-8 months if I was lucky. With my confidence built from the Harry Potter marathon, I set roughly the same goal for Wheel of Time - 1 book per month - in the hopes of finishing before the final book comes out. The book was supposed to be out in late 2011, but has been pushed to 2012 so I will easily be able to meet this goal.

I finished the 3rd Wheel of Time book, The Dragon Reborn, around 12/1/2009. I finished book 4, The Shadow Rising, on 9/30/2010. 10 months for one book. Book 5 - the Fires of Heaven - was finished on 10/27/2010 and book 6 - Lord of Chaos - was finished on 12/4/2010. I've taken what used to take me 6-8 months and relatively easily brought it down to roughly a 1 month task. The greatest part of this is that I don't really feel like I'm spending that much more time reading than I used to.

Lately I've been brainstorming how to apply this concept of getting myself motivated and moving on things to other parts of my life. I'm still working out how to apply it to my drawing, but I think applying it to gaming could be a pretty direct correlation to reading. Issue #1 is that there are a LOT of videogames that I want to play and beat, some from years and years ago that I just never got around to beating.

Here's a list of the games, most of which we already own or have borrowed from someone (Josh most likely) and that's why I'd like to get through them finally:
  • Metroid Prime (and I'd love to beat it with 100% completion)
  • Other games in the Metroid Prime series (2, 3, etc)
  • Fallout 3
  • Assassin's Creed
  • Assassin's Creed 2
  • Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood
  • Mass Effect
  • Mass Effect 2
  • Dragon Age
  • Bioshock
  • Bioshock 2
  • God of War
  • God of War 2
  • Little Big Planet
These are the games that I'd like to continue playing, or play more, but aren't necessarily a "beat it and be done" scenario:
  • World of Warcraft
  • Starcraft 2
I am thinking about simply progressing down the list above, because I know for certain that I'd start with Metroid Prime because that's one of the oldest games I have yet to beat. I need to steal a wii controller from my in-laws house first!

Reading Update: I've been breezing through A Crown of Swords finally, almost making up for how slow I was going back in late December. I'm now 86% through the book and I fully expect to finish it today or early tomorrow. Then I think I'll move right on to Path of Daggers, and then maybe after that book I'll jump over to the first book of the Dark Tower series and/or A Game of Thrones.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Recap of 2010

Last January I attempted very briefly to fill the void that a lack of a job gave me with doing a lot of my hobbies - drawing, writing, and playing games. I set some basic goals and I didn't even meet one of them. This year is a hell of a lot different, but I'm not to the point of setting up goals and certainly not to writing them online as even an unexpected promise to whoever reads them. Instead of setting goals right now, I'm working on accomplishing the ones that don't even need to be set for me to know they're there. Perhaps they were set years ago, or have always been there, but I'm doing them.

That may sound like I didn't do anything in 2010 then, if I didn't reach my goals. I know that's not the case. With that in mind, instead of goals for 2011 let's look back at some of the things that I accomplished in 2010:
  • I GOT A JOB!
That could really be the end of the list right there and I'd be happy, but there are some other (less important but quite fun) items that I'm going to attempt to quantify in some way here. Possibly in some semblance of chronological order:
  • Experienced one of the most enjoyable Winter Olympics ever with Becky, since we were both home all day/everyday - so much so that I'll consider taking vacation time for the next Winter Olympics
  • Determined that my marriage to Becky is even more special than I could have imagined, since we could spend all day, everyday together and still have a LOT of fun and not ever get that mad at each other. I've had numerous couples tell me they can't imagine doing that and how much they would kill one another.
  • Played a LOT of the Starcraft 2 beta, didn't play as much once it hit retail (but that may change soon) - also designed an awesome custom map for SC2 which I want to re-do for the retail build
  • Ran 15 adventures of my D&D Campaign - I'd certainly love to do more, but greater than 1 per month is not a bad number!
  • Attended a Bonsai beginner's class and actually learned how to pot, grow, and care for Bonsai properly (hint: I was doing a LOT of stuff wrong)
  • Attended GenCon 2010 and had a blast
  • Read through the entire Harry Potter series (for the first time) in preparation for seeing the last movie
  • Read 1984, and realized I (and all of my friends) should have read it years ago
  • Finished The Shadow Rising (Wheel of Time book 4) in September, finally, after almost a year of very slowly getting through it. Then finished books 5 and 6 in roughly one month each, and got half way through book 7 in December
  • I started and continued the Architect DM series at Critical Hits, which has been insanely fun to write and seems to be received quite well too
  • Movies we saw in theaters: Iron Man 2, Inception (twice), RED, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, Tron: Legacy (maybe some others, will update if I remember)
  • Becky and I resubbed to World of Warcraft for Cataclysm (god help us) in early December - and we're loving it
Reading Update: I am currently 67% through Wheel of Time book 5 - A Crown of Swords. My progress stalled for a week or two during the holidays for various reasons. We were pretty busy, but also I got several new books before the holidays and as Christmas presents so that naturally slowed down my progress because I wanted to read them a bit instead of just focusing on Wheel of Time. The very last Wheel of Time book was also pushed back to a 2012 release date, which means I have more than a year to read the last 5 books and one prequel which is more than enough time. I'm going to throw a few other books in the mix but will also try to get through WoT as soon as possible so I can talk things over with Becky without fear of spoilers.