Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tuesday Afternoon

Darkness there, and nothing more.

Edgar Allan Poe
"The Raven"

It's the middle of the day - 1:50 PM as I start writing this, to be precise - and I'm sitting in my basement. Not unusual, mind you, because it's a workday and I work in my basement. What is unusual, however, is that all of the lights are off in the basement, my computer's monitor brightness is considerably lessened from its normal setting, and I'm wearing sunglasses. I have a huge headache and I am extremely sensitive to light today, although I'm not necessarily ready to pronounce that I've got a full on migraine. That can wait until after I'm done with the devotional at WVIHOP, at which point I'll crash on the bed and start whining like a baby for Holli to take care of me.

Nonetheless, here I sit like Bono, sunglasses on in a very dark room, much too cool for the schooling that's going on upstairs. So, while I wait for the internet to bring me what I need, I'll ramble a little bit.

Brianna is spending the week with her grandmother, who had surgery on her foot. Our eldest is being a servant this week, taking care of her grandma, bringing her things, and being her feet so that grandma can rest. I could not be more proud of her.

My distaste for secular media continues to grow, which is actually somewhat shocking to me considering how much distaste I hold for it in general at this point. I've decided today that I'm going back to a low-media-content information diet, and eliminating all of the news sites I visit. If something truly important happened in the world while I wasn't paying attention, someone I talk to during the day will tell me or I'll find out about it when I check up on my friends on Facebook.

I'm looking forward to some opportunities that are coming up. I won't say anything further, though, as I don't want to jinx any of them. So how about y'all just pray for me and we'll go from there?

Oh, look. The Internet has faithfully brought me what I needed. Back to work now.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Been a while since you've had one of those, hasn't it?

George Lowe
as Space Ghost
"Baffler Meal"
Space Ghost Coast to Coast

You know, I don't know why I don't come here to write anymore, to be honest. I love to write, and my abandonment of the blog as an outlet for that has been somewhat sudden and unexpected. I blame Facebook and Twitter. I'm going to have to get back to posting here, but in a somewhat random and undisciplined fashion as fitting with the way I do everything else, really.

No time for a recap of what's happened in the months since I've posted, so let's just say that life is largely amazing right now and go from there. No, today I come here for a purpose: to talk about being unconventional. Quite literally, in fact, before moving on to the figurative.

I am literally casting aside conventions today. Specifically, I'm hereby refusing to use the established database naming conventions that I've used for seven years now. I was encouraged to use them by the last boss I had before going into self-employment, and carried the practice on into my entrepreneurship. Why do I do it that way? Well, I started doing it because it's what everyone else does; using the naming conventions makes life easier for anyone else who might follow you and need to use your code, and it also makes it easier for you if you're the type who forgets what type one of your database variables is. You know what? I'm not going to forget what one of my variables, I honestly don't care if anyone could carry on my work if I were dead, and if I ever hire someone, they'd better be smart enough to work from my existing code. If I have to hamstring the way I work to accommodate an employee, I should probably have picked a better employee.

I also used those naming conventions because it was the way I'd been doing it for years. It felt comfortable, even though it might be somewhat contrary to the way my mind works. It was just the rote memory thing to do when I created a database to slap those prefixes I've been using for years on it. I don't know if there's anyone else out there whose brain works that way, but I know at least that when I do the same thing over and over and over again, I start to develop patterns of working. Even if, as in this case, they're actually detrimental to my performance.

So, effective with the database I'm writing today, the conventions are out of FortySixTen Studios' corporate policy manual (which is totally not pencil notes on a napkin). I hate them, they slow me down, and they're counterintuitive to an ambidextrous brain such as my own. This makes me want to kick myself for having done it for so long, but like I said, that's the way I'd been doing it for years and it's the way everyone else does it, so why stop doing it?

Because it's the wrong way for me to do things, that's why.

I am somewhat unconventional. I'm working out of my quote-unquote office, which is a six-foot folding table in my basement, which doubles as the master bedroom in our home. My beautiful wife homeschools our kids, and I spend at least three days a week playing music for my God and an empty room at the local House of Prayer. We don't have cable, or even a TV antenna to watch your favorite network programming. I - and by extension, my family, what with me being the family's leader and all - just kinda weird.

Today, I embraced a small part of that. I need to keep on it.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Why BattleTech Is the Best Game on the Planet

Though the scientific reality of fusion engines prevents them from exploding, the dramatic effect of such an expensive piece of machinery blowing up in a huge ball of fire is so appealing to the majority of BattleTech players that this rule was created to satisfy the common desire for a good explosion.

Tactical Operations
Catalyst Game Labs

Warning! Beyond here there be geek stuff!

I've been playing BattleTech, the aforementioned best game on the planet, with Connor lately. It's inherent in parents to share what we love with our kids; we do it with faith, with food, with music, and with our leisure activities. It's designed for ages twelve and up according to the box, but at almost eight now, he seems to be handling it just fine.

Anyway, we had a two-on-two battle tonight, up from the one-on-one affairs we'd had at Connor's request. He fielded an old-style Spider and a shiny, 75-ton Lao-Hu against my Hatchetman and Caesar. Not fair, perhaps, but blame the Random Assignment Tables.

Things did not go well for the boy. He rushed up with the Lao-Hu and was able to do significant damage to my Caesar, but at the cost of taking significant damage himself and letting the Hatchetman get behind him to, well, do what its name implies. The Hatchetman didn't get the chance, though, as the damage from all the fire it absorbed and a failed piloting roll knocked it down to the ground. He survived the boot to the right torso from the Hatchetman, though, and we went on to the next turn.

On the following turn, my Caesar was content to stay right where it was and keep firing at the downed Lao-Hu. Naturally, Connor tried to stand, but he failed another piloting roll. He crashed to the ground again, and through some odds-defying rolls of the dice blew up his mech's engine in spectacular fashion, leaving him with just the tiny Spider and almost certain defeat.

Not wanting him to go away empty handed, I fished out TacOps and looked up the rule for engine explosion. Four engine criticals in a turn? Check. Roll ten or more on the dice? Connor took care of that one with boxcars. So the engine explodes in spectacular fashion. The resulting nuclear fireball flayed armor off of my Hatchetman and tore one of its arms off completely, in addition to nearly coring the nearby Spider. The Spider then promptly turned tail and fled the battlefield, Connor's way of forfeiting.

What makes this so awesome, you ask? Imagination painting out the picture of what happened. You've got a two-story tall, 75-ton, anthropomorphic, walking tank that just fell down, causing the fiery, nuclear heart within its chest that gave it life to explode in a giant ball of flame, severely crippling the other two giant, anthropomorphic, walking tanks nearby. I'd go see that movie. But even better, I got to share that memory with a seven-year-old boy. Life is good.