Category Archives: Personal Stuff

So

I decided to try something new in the last few days. Well, something old, actually.

Remember me mentioning that I wrote a novel two summers ago? Well, I didn’t get much interest from agents back then, but I didn’t exactly do a great or comprehensive job of marketing. I pretty much suck at selling myself. Work and life get in the way quickly, and I’d nearly forgotten about it until a few days ago when I realized I have a little time to try and pitch it again.

This time the book is a little different thanks to a bit of editing, and I queried to many more agents that I didn’t even know existed. Time will tell if it piques any interest. I’m ok with it if it doesn’t; I have a career already. But it would be nice to have two!

I don’t think this summer is going to be fruitful for writing. It really needs to be devoted to vacation and stress-relieving. But it’s strange how the writing bug strikes me.

Luke continues to be awesome.

Fall

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.

 

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.

Inquisition

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.

Disaster

I had to wipe my iPad yesterday and lost about six months worth of diary entries as a result. For some mysterious reason, it stopped recognizing my passcode. I think it may have been hacked when I connected it to the wireless at work that day, which I’d never done before – even though I’ve never heard of that happening.

I suppose I have learned my lesson and will start backing up documents either to the cloud or to my desktop. I didn’t lose too much, but it hurt.

It’s a boy

H and I learned recently that the baby is a boy. While I was going to be fine with it either way, I have to say that this is exciting, now that we know for sure.

Now I have a sort of general concern about being a dad, which veers from mild worry to abstract terror. It seems like there are a lot of things I could screw up, but none of these is anything in particular. People seem to learn as they go.

It’s in, and other news

Yesterday was the due date for my tenure file. Now that it’s in, I can concentrate on teaching and on other projects.

I haven’t been writing here much lately, partially because I have starting keeping a private journal on my iPad where I can let loose about whatever, whereas here I am more circumspect.

One thing I would like to share today, though, is that over the summer when I wasn’t teaching, I wrote a novel. I would loosely characterize it as a post-apocalyptic adventure. The idea for it has been in my head for a few years, but I didn’t make the time for writing it until very recently. I haven’t marketed it to agents or publishers yet, as I have some friends reading it over and I would like their input first, but I plan to do so soon.

So that’s exciting, and I’m thinking that since I was able to crank one out relatively quickly during the summer break, writing several thousand words a day, I could conceivably write another next summer.  It wouldn’t affect my scholarly output because I use the long semesters, regardless of teaching load, to write that stuff, anyway.

Also, an important date is coming up tomorrow. H and I will have our tenth anniversary together. We had our first date on Oct. 8, 2004.

Additionally, I would like to announce (though it was already announced on Facebook some time ago) that H and I are expecting our first child next spring.

 

 

Fall 2014

So I have four classes to teach this fall. Three are my bread and butter – ENG 3302 Business and Technical Report Writing – and the loner is ENG 3318 – Studies in English Grammar.

While I teach 3302 virtually every semester, I haven’t taught 3318 since 2010. It is a welcome return. It is a very meaty course, in the sense that there is a lot of material to cover in a very brief time, and it is a general delight for me to teach grammar.

I’m going to concentrate on teaching this semester, so some writing projects are going to have to rest on the back burner, as they say. But, you never know. Some of my most productive writing has been during semesters when I was managing a heavy teaching load and the mounds of grading that accumulate. It’s odd how that happens.

I hinted in my last post that I had done a lot of writing over the summer. That is true. I’m not yet ready to share what I did, though, so I’ll continue to be enigmatic.