I’m Ryan and I eat these things

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I was going through the ‘getting to know you’ phase with a couple new co-workers yesterday. I walked in on the conversation as they were talking about their various dietary choices, and it sounded something like this:
“I’m paleo.”
“I’m gluten free.”
“I’m vegan.”

I had to chuckle. Now, let me be very clear about this: I don’t care what you eat, where you do it, or who you do it with. It’s your life, not mine, and as long as you’re not actually hurting me in the process, I encourage you to do whatever makes you happy.
It just made me think of a scene that could have been in a Steve Martin movie, maybe L.A. Story.
So, now I will introduce myself as “almost-middle-aged-guy-who-is-doing-his-best-to-eat-healthy-and-exercise-but-also-likes-meat-and-beer.”

And no, I cannot have the duck.

I was preparing a post of epic insight and thoughtfulness…

But I became distracted by the announcement of a cartoon.
You see, I love cars, and I have kids. I’ve made a habit of occasionally showing the kids bits of Top Gear episodes and occasional burnout videos on Youtube; you need to show the next generation the right things, after all.
Well, I was going to post some sample renders of my latest Sketchup 3D project, a battleship that I’ll be using for my next book cover. However, I ran across a post on Twitter from the Top Gear feed…

Top Gear guys to be on Phineas and Ferb!

Yup.  Clarkson, May, and Hammond will be lending their voices and likenesses to the animated show airing in the US in March.  Yes, I’m still working on that 3D model, but I’ll be taking time out to watch some tv with the kids as well!

 

Thanks a lot, WordPress app

So this is what I get for posting a blog entry from my phone. Somehow WordPress decided I wanted to password protect my blog so nobody could read it. Makes perfect sense…
Should be fixed now, so I hope toy give it another chance!

It’s a long way to the top (if you want to rock and roll)

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Alright, I stole that from AC/DC. Now that I have your attention, I’d like you to ponder something with me.
With the Olympics coming up, I’ve been thinking about all those athletes who spend their days training. And training. And then taking a nap and training some more. At some point in there, they probably work a job, but it seems like the people who want to compete at the Olympic level often sacrifice work careers in order to stay at the top of their game.
It dawned on me that these people are battling for a unique distinction: the Best in the World. That’s right; if you win Olympic gold, nobody will ever be able to talk smack about how you’re not good enough and they’ll beat you the next time you both race your bobsleds in the park. No, you are the best in the world, a feat displayed on a world stage in front of millions.
What would it be like to be the best? To feel that, for at least the next couple years, nobody else gets to say they’re as awesome as you? I personally think it would be pretty mind-blowing.
I mean, I figure I am pretty good at my job, know my way around a toolbox, can belch my name in one breath, and can still beat my kids at their video games, so I figure I’m doing ok. But the title of Best Minecraft Player is not in my future. Nor is Best Shower Drain Cleaner-Outer.
Now, don’t take this as melancholy longing for something I gave up along the way. I was never going to be a Level 100 Dungeon Master or championship hamburger chef, though Championship Minivan Drifter is something I’ve considered training for. Ken Block, I’m talking to you! Click here to see what I’m talking about. I have an all-wheel-drive minivan; I’ll give it a try anytime!
Is anyone out there the best at something?

Spotted: The Stig!

 

I received this from Top Gear’s Twitter feed.  Not sure how they did it, but of course if it involves cars you can’t count out the Stig when it comes to the possibility of analyzing and following the Google Truck and racing ahead in order to get a nice snapshot of himself.

Now, if only he’d been doing a big smoky burnout in something rare and expensive!

 

You have to start somewhere

ralph-mcquarrie-star-wars-matteI recently saw a Youtube video from Ashton Kutcher, of all people, where he tried to give the kids the low down on how to be successful.  Not some shiny, idealized Hollywood version, but a talk about hard work, perseverance, and being honest with yourself.  There was one part I love to tell people about – and I paraphrase- where he said he was never too good for any job he had.  Working his way up, he claimed that he never spent his days whining about how he was better than what he was doing and how he should be the CEO already, but that it was a stepping stone, an experience builder for his next job.  That’s the way the world works, oddly enough.  You put in your time, learn your trade, and if you’re really lucky you marry Demi Moore and make millions of dollars.

Think of all those great actors and directors; they got their start somewhere.  Harrison Ford built sets when George Lucas brought him on stage.  Joss Whedon was a script doctor on a Toy Story movie, Brad Pitt drove a limo and carted strippers around.  So stick with it, Fry Cook; one day you might well be on posters around the world!

Making a segue into another realm of the entertainment industry where hard work matters, there is also one shout-out that should be given to Ralph McQuarrie.  If you’re not a sci-fi or design geek, you may not know the name, which is a travesty.  But this one man was largely responsible for the Star Wars we all know, and like those script doctors and set guys who never seem to become household names, he was yet an integral part of the movies we all know and love.  Major character designs like Darth Vader, R2-D2, Chewbacca, many of the sets and major vehicles were all drawn by this man.  He also worked on the original Battlestar Galactica and others.  Here’s a perfect example of a guy who created things that were enjoyed by millions over decades, and yet many probably don’t know his name.

So think of all these things next time you are at your job and it’s not going your way.  Boss is riding you, co-workers are lazy and gross, and the taco truck in the parking lot is late for lunch.  Just take pride in plying your trade, because even if you never become Ashton Kutcher, you could still be a Ralph McQuarrie; incredibly important but in the shadows, known only to those that really matter.

Operating systems and Us

wI read another blog this morning where the poor soul was lamenting the latest crash of his operating system.  It struck me that it’s absolutely absurd that we really only have two apparent choices in how to run our computers.

First, Windows.  That should really be all that I need to say, right?  Windows versions are like old school Star Trek films; one good one, one bad one.  (The old phrase was the even numbered Trek films didn’t suck.  I even liked Nemesis, but I digress…)  Seems like Microsoft produces a decent OS, rides the wave for a few years, then realizes that they need to con all those old customers who aren’t paying for Windows any more into thinking that they need to upgrade.  They scrabble, put in a bunch of gimmicky crap and BLAMMO- Windows Vista.  This cycle has been repeated for years: Win 95 to Millennium and 2000, XP to Vista, Win 7 to Win 8.  I have Vista and while I have great hardware in the box, the damn thing is getting glitchier and glitchier.  I’ve been pricing out Win 7, and Win 8 is actually cheaper.  Pay more for a worse, less stable and clutter-filled OS?  It’s an absolutely ludicrous industry in which we buy a crappy operating system from a vendor, and then a couple years later pay THE SAME vendor again to get a better product which really should have been the solution all along.  And then, they’ll introduce another clunker and the horrible cycle of despair will start all over again…

Second, there’s Mac OS/X, Lion, whatever it’s called.  I hate it because it’s cartoonish, gimmicky, and I feel like I have absolutely zero control over what’s going on with my computer.  Really, where the hell did that file I just downloaded go?  I want to move it to another folder, but how does that work?  Argh!

Linux is of course the hidden gem here. It’s stable, businesses run their servers on it because it doesn’t crash, and it’s open source so it’s always getting better.  It’s just not quite user friendly enough to appeal to the masses, and part of me thinks that’s intentional.  It’s like a badge of tech nerd honor to be able to describe the latest Linux distro on your box at home.

Whatever happened to the Chromebook?  Here’s about 1/3 of an operating system.  It boots, manages files, but isn’t the whole package.  Frankly, I’d love it of Google made their own full-blown operating system.  I’d even pay for it!

Retailers hate Thanksgiving

turkey-gunRetailers hate Thanksgiving.  There, I said it.  I mean, this Black Friday thing has finally gone too far.

I know some people who do the shop-all-night thing and they seem to really enjoy it.  They’ve never been part of a stampeding mob or knocked over an old lady to get the last DS game/Barbie/toy-of-the-month.  They seem to like the experience of being out with each other just as much as snagging a good bargain.  Can’t find fault with that.  Now, it’s not for me (I stay home and  watch gratuitously explosion-filled movies until early in the morning, but I digress), but I can see why some people do it.

The idea was that everyone had their Thanksgiving meals, during which we all presumably gave thanks for family, making it through another year, buying Google stock just after the IPO; whatever we figured we should be grateful for.  It was a time to gather the family and relax a bit, then after all the festivities were over, the shopaholics could bid us farewell and go spend until dawn.

Well, the madness gets earlier every year, though it seemed like stores found ways to reward people who braved the cold to show up at 2:00 am by rolling out new doorbusters or otherwise coming up with something to keep people out late.  But this year, Toys R Us is open at 5 pm, with many other stores opening at 8.  What the hell?  When do families eat?  Are we supposed to just have a Thanksgiving Brunch and call it a day?

It just seems a bit ridiculous; retailers hoping to get people out to their stores when most folks, employees probably included, would rather be stuffing one more slice of pumpkin pie down and hoping to avoid the dreaded ‘reversal’.

Maybe next year we can cancel Thanksgiving altogether.  Just have a Turkey McMuffin, shop at noon, and then finish putting up the Christmas decorations, because the stores have had that crap out since September anyway.  Thanksgiving seems like the forgotten holiday, sandwiched in between the toys, candy, and decorations stores can sell for Halloween and the toys, food, and decorations stores sell for Christmas.  Wait- did I just figure it out?  Retailers hate Thanksgiving because there’s not a lot of associated merchandise they can sell people!

As for me, I’m already putting up New Year’s Eve streamers…

 

New Novel Available!

turmoil book cover copyHello in blog-land,

It’s been a long time coming, but the latest novel in my military sci-fi series Birthright: Battle for the Confederation is now available on Amazon and BN.com, with paperback from Createspace to come in the next couple weeks as proofs are mailed and reviewed.  I’d taken a novel off from working on the series and wrote something else so as not to burn out on these characters, and now having come back to them I had plenty of fresh ideas and ways for them to get into entertaining forms of trouble.

I write these books because I truly enjoy doing it; I’d rather write and create something than sit around and watch reality TV at night, and having a hobby that can help pay a few bills doesn’t hurt, either.  The truth is, though, I wrote the first two novels in the series before I even realized I could market them through venues like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  I’ve already begun churning through ideas for the next one, and a rough outline is typed securely away on my laptop.

Maybe I’ll rewatch the series run of Firefly first, though!

 

http://rekroom.wordpress.com/book-list/birthright-turmoil/

Dear JJ Abrams

jj-abrams-star-warsSo, here we are, within sight of the start of filming for Star Wars Episode 7.  Actors are auditioning, scripts are being typed, and fans have been falling all over themselves to tell JJ Abrams and Disney what needs to happen in the next trilogy.

Imagine you’re George Lucas.  You’ve created Star Wars and rode the wave of that for decades.  Generations soaked up your work; parents showed their children the movies and their old toys.  And all people do is complain.  Those ungrateful bastards.  I can see both sides of this, really.

George created Star Wars.  It must be incredibly frustrating to have people complain about everything you do (even when it’s sort of deserved).

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“Midi Chlorians?  What the hell?”

He had a particular vision of how it all had to go, and stayed true to his own designs through thick and thin, despite all the complaining, and created an amazing universe that had spawned countless books, comics, and people who wear Stormtrooper outfits around town.  The rich galaxy he created for us is so much more than a simple movie setting.

The thing is, he created something that people identify with so deeply and feel such ownership in that folks really believe their input is important and needs to be heard.  They’re so invested that anything that seems to deviate from their ideal is seen as a mistake.  Yes, I count myself among those at times because, for the love of all the spice on Kessel, Han Solo shot Greedo.  He shot him first, then would have shot him again had he so much as twitched.  Then he tossed a credit across the bar and apologized for the mess.  Han drew down on Vader on Bespin during their surprise dinner party.  He didn’t complain about the ambush, yell at Lando, or duck and cover.  He drew on Vader and let him have it.  Any attempted wussification of Han Solo is met with scorn and disdain by me!

The point is, I see why the fans are so rabid about that.  Star Wars is so big and wrapped up in our culture that we’re all looking over their shoulders, making sure the makers of the series ‘get it right’.

Now, there’s a new Jedi in the picture.  From Padawan to Jedi Knight, JJ Abrams is now in charge.  I saw a film made by some fans imploring JJ to keep to a few simple ideas in order to get the new trilogy right.  I think they’re spot-on.  You can watch it here…

This guy has it right.  Stick to the origins, be inspired by the original trilogy, but yes, JJ, make it your own.  That’s why you’re here, to bring some new blood and fresh air into the process.  I think there are a lot of people who are cautiously optimistic about breathing new life into the franchise.  But please, make the interior and exteriors of the ships match each other, get the actors to tell an amazing story, and keep your hands off the Millennium Falcon!

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