I love the fall. Houston is ridiculously hot most of the year, and the temperature change never comes to early.

L is six months old now. He is not really crawling yet – he flips over and turns 360, though –  but we’re not in a hurry for him to grow up. He is a general delight as he is.

The new house is a mess of boxes and stuff that we really don’t need but have, and with work and L to manage, it’s getting sorted very slowly. I have big plans for the garage that will probably take years to come to fruition. That’s ok.

In other news, I have gotten funding to attend RSA and CCCC next year. I have a major project to pitch to whomever will listen.

I’m also trying to decide between a PS4 and a new PC.  Can’t afford both, but one may be possible. There are a lot of good games that have come out, or will soon, that my four-year-old PC can’t handle.


Checking in

I haven’t written much here lately. I’ve been busy, what with L now four months old and  H and I having returned to work.

We are in the process of buying a house for the first time. Like with the baby, this is occurring a little later in life for us than most folks, but it’s happening. We’re moving back to an area of Houston that we’ve lived in before, fairly far out – we’ve more or less given up on living closer in. Fortunately, we can afford a bigger house that way.

So three of my four goals for the year – baby, tenure, house, new car – are checked off. The car will have to wait a while longer, perhaps several years, while we get adjusted to home ownership.

I am running into some difficulty publishing my latest article. It may be too unabashedly argumentative in its current form to be palatable. We’ll see.


Gay marriage

Today’s SCOTUS decision on gay marriage was long in coming, but it came at last.

A lot of people are upset about it, but more people are deliriously, definitely happy about it. And in general, with some exceptions, I think anything that increases happiness in the world is a good thing. It’s quite possible for a nation and culture to move in a negative direction, but I think, again, that this is easily a net positive. 

The feelings of many social conservatives are hurt, but there is an easy cure – go out and make friends with some gay people. I think one will find that after some exposure to them one-on-one, they are like any other people, and what makes them ‘different’ is no more important than hair color. 

As a biblical scholar I spend a lot of time reading the gospels in the Greek, probably more than many Christians. My impression is that Jesus, who said nothing about gay people in any of the recorded narratives, didn’t obsess himself with the private sexual lives of people he encountered. That was what Paul did – and Paul, it’s easy to forget, was not Jesus. You kinda have to take his anti-homosexual rant with a grain of salt, as he was busy makng his own, limited version of Christianity.

Why would Jesus worry about something so trivial? Witness his forgiving of the adultress in John – would a man who said the stunner ‘He who is without sin cast the first stone’ fret about homosexuality? He had bigger fish to fry. Of course, that line is a definite interpolation – 3rd century – but it’s probably the most Jesus-y saying there is.

In short, gay marriage just isn’t a big deal. The seas aren’t going to boil. The sky will not fall. My newborn son will grow up in a country that is a little more free. That’s good, I think.

200 days

Recently earned the 200 days of survival achievement in The Long Dark.  I have enough rifle ammo hoarded to go for 300. Perhaps the makers of the game will add more achievements in a future build. In the meantime, I have bloody mastered your game.

Luke is growing and strong. He cries when he’s hungry and sleeps when he’s tired. These things constitute his job.

I’m settling up the grades for the spring right now. I think I did a great job in two courses and a good job in one other.

Got a promising R&R on a recent article, which is a very good sign. I may have some time to work on it later this month. June is going to busy with family activities, though. Max, my soon-to-be nephew, is imminent. I may have to do the lion’s share of the work in July, which is cutting it close.


I have my tenure letter in hand.  It is a yes.

In one sense, receiving it was somewhat anti-climatic, as it is the end result of a very long process that involved a considerable amount of hard work. So, the actual moment is not as transformative or exciting as some might think it, at least for me; rather, it is merely a bright point on a continuing line.

But it’s very nice to have in hand, I have to say, especially with Luke almost here.

The Long Dark

Baby’s almost here. We are as prepared as we’re going to be.

I’ve been playing the survival game The Long Dark of late. I recently passed the 50-day mark in the Steam achievements, in terms of days survived in the game’s simulation of the Canadian wilderness.

Overly aggressive wolves were a big problem at first until I figured out how to deal with them – scare them off with flares and torches until I got my hands on a rifle about 20 days in. Then they became a special treat.

Rabbits became my dietary staple in the last two weeks, as the wild’s ammo is quite limited.

I saw a bear, but you make different decisions when you have only one life. In some other game I would have attacked; here, I backed away slowly and then ran.


So I finally finished Dragon Age: Inquisition.

Short summary: So-so intro, great middle, so-so ending.

I certainly got my money’s worth. It has to be one of the longest RPGs I’ve ever played. The sheer number of quests and sidequests and fleshed-out areas to explore is mind-numbing.

I have to say, though, that I found the main quest lacking. The villain was one-dimensional – a standard I-like-chaos-wannabe-god type. He should have been dispatched in Act I and replaced immediately with someone more nuanced, like Flemeth or Morrigan, for example. Or the Plot Surprise (no spoilers) that comes in the end, instead of midgame where it would have made far more impact and led to a very different, and better, story.

I also don’t think that my BIG DECISIONS during the game made much difference on the ending. Templars vs. mages, Cassandra vs. Liliana, keeping Cole or Blackwall vs. dumping them, etc. The plot just sort went ‘eh’ when I made those decisions.

I also (this is turning into a list of the game’s flaws, isn’t it) was disappointed in the role of Power. I had over 250 Power at the end, and nothing to spend it on. I was assuming I was stockpiling it for a big battle or political maneuvering, but in the end I got a standard boss fight. Shades of ME3. Bioware, why do you always flub the ending?

I think my favorite part of the game is when the Inquistor gets to judge prisoners. Execute, imprison, let go, fine, recruit – what to do, now that you have power? Those were interesting decisions, with no clear-cut right answers. I would like to have seen more of that.


Some pedals, baby shower

So I have gotten interested in playing guitar again, after a year or so of no activity, and I recently bought a few pedals to kind of broaden my sonic horizons, so to speak. They are the Octafuzz and the Shaky Jimi.

The Octafuzz is a ripoff of Roger Mayer’s famous Octavia, which is still made via Mayer, but is out of my price range at $300 a pop. Both are octave doublers that add a note one octave up to whatever note you’re playing. This sounds horrible with chords, but very good with single notes picked close to the neck pickup. Hendrix famously used the Octavia to play the blistering solos on “Purple Haze” and “Fire,” among many other instances. I can get something pretty close to that cuts-like-a-knife sound with the Octafuzz, especially if I combine it with my Fuzz Face, with the Fuzz Face first in the chain and the Octafuzz second.

The Shaky Jimi is a ripoff of the famous Univibe, with a separate chorus setting. When on the vibe setting, it makes a sound like an old Leslie rotating speaker cabinet. I primarily bought the SJ so I could approximate the sound in Hendrix’s “Hey Baby,” which is probably my favorite guitar song. I am happy to report that the SJ is indeed capable of this sound, with a little knob-fiddling.  I had previously owned a Rotovibe, which also did this effect well, but it stopped working and I lost track of it between moves years ago.

In other news, H and I went to a joint baby shower for her and her sister (who is also pregnant) on Saturday. It was a fun occasion and we received a lot of really useful and wonderful stuff from some very thoughtful people.

pay no attention to that man behind the curtain