Thursday, July 27, 2017

Navy Blows Stuff Up Good!

When my siblings and I were all in our teen years, our long-suffering mother decided she needed to better understand these strange, smelly, awkward things that infested her house, ate all her food, and generally acted like half-feral savages with alarming regularity.

She turned to The H.I.M. book, a guide to Highly Identifiable Males, a seriously tongue-in-cheek (but still highly accurate) book for dealing with men who are, well, men. Anyway, it starts off with the theory that part of what makes H.I.M.s the way they are is that sometime around age three, we lose part of our brain (probably the unimportant part that deals with processing lots of emotions) in an explosion. We spend the rest of our lives looking to get that part of our brain back, usually by viewing (or better yet, creating) bigger, and better explosions.

I don't know if that's true. What I do know, is that the Navy sure knows how to make, and film, some good explosions.

(h/t to for showing the original video.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

I Don't Miss GameDev Any More

I'm as surprised as anyone. We're hosting two camp councilors for our church this week, and one of them asked me if I missed being a game developer. If she'd asked me a year ago she would have gotten a different answer.

Almost two years of short commutes and predictable hours have had a pronounced effect on my attitude.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Let's Play Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance - Battle #2, Mission #2 - Ensnare Imperial Prototypes

Time to start hunting down a few of those weird TIE variants that popped up in the last mission. For this run, you're going in with Z-95 Headhunters armed with Ion torpedoes. Why they couldn't have sent some old Y-Wings rather than burning through their limited stock of Ion torpedoes is a question for high command. We just do as we're told.

The mission is to disable at least one each of all enemy craft attacking the bait convoy. Keep in mind that this includes the Escort Transports! The modified TIEs go down easily, so you'll want to save at least three or four torpedoes for the ETRs. Those things will chew your ship up with alarming speed!

Take your time, and be patient making runs at the ETRs, and you'll eventually get their shields down. Then close to point-blank range, and fire a pair of torpedoes to disable them.

All that's left then is to wait for the Heavy Lifters to haul one of each type out of the combat zone. Clean up the rest of the disabled fighters, and head for home to learn what secrets have been found out about these craft.

Monday, July 24, 2017

10K Training - Week 1 Complete

One week down, five more to go before I'm "ready" to run a 10K race. My Runkeeper app failed to capture one of my training days this week, but it looks like my best day was 6.35km, or 3.94 miles. The grand finale of each training week on this program is a distance run of increasing length, culminating in the sixth week where you're running a full 10km. For the end of Week One, though, the distance is "only" 5km. I'm pretty pleased by the fact that I ran at close to last October's race pace, finishing at 31:18.

Not especially fast by pro-runner standards, but a good mark allowing me to aim higher.

Not me, and not how I feel when running. (Image credit Runners World)

I can't say that I enjoy running, so much as that I endure it for the sake of amazing post-run beer. However, seeing visible progress and becoming more proficient at something physical and tangible always feels good.
Me after a run. I am not smiling, but I am better at running this week than I was last week. Next week I will be better at running than I was this week.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Let's Play Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance - Battle #2, Mission #1 - Flight Staff Transfer

It's moving day! You're being transferred from the Defiance to the Liberty and going anomaly hunting in the Outer Rim. Your first task is to ferry a replacement fighter over, while flying cover for the shuttles carrying staff members and squadron gear. Don't think too hard about how the Otana gets there.

On your way to the Liberty, your group receives a distress call from a convoy that's under attack by unidentified fighters! Your flight of four splits off, with you and one wingman jumping to the aid of the convoy.

Once there, you find some odd looking new TIE designs. Destroy them, defend the convoy, then jump back to the Liberty to complete your mission. The one difficult enemy will be the Escort Transport. Some hit and run maneuvers will allow you to take it out without too much difficulty. Just be patient and avoid being too aggressive.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Twitch Fitness FAQs

Below are a few common questions that I get during Twitch fitness streams. I figured I'd run them down here (and reprint them on my Twitch channel) for general reference purposes.

Q. Why do this to yourself?
 A. Short answer: Because I want to keep doing things that I enjoy for as long as I possibly can. Longer answer: I enjoy reading, playing video games, riding motorcycles, flying, and spending time with my kids. Devoting a few hours a week to fitness helps increase the likelihood that I can continue enjoying these activities longer, and hopefully give me a better quality of life down the road. None of that is guaranteed, of course, but the odds get better.

Q. What do you do?
A. I run during the part of the year where the weather is conducive, and have started supplementing that with a weightlifting plan geared around building running strength. My main focus right now is building strength and endurance for distance running. In the winter off-season I focus on strength training. I follow Running Mate for my running plans, and use the classic Weider system for weightlifting.

Q. How about diet?
A.  There's a saying that goes "You lose weight in the kitchen, you gain strength in the gym." I'm currently following a modified low-carb diet that includes a Bulletproof Coffee-style breakfast. I've lost twenty pounds in 2017.

Q. What are your goals?
A. I want to run two marathons before April 2021, when I turn forty-one. I also want to be benchpressing my own bodyweight within two years, and weigh around 180lbs.

Q. How are you progressing?
A. I ran my first 5K race last year and am training for a 10K this year. I plan to end my running season with the same 5K race as last year, and see how I've improved in a year.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Book Review - The Honorable Imposter

Continuing my summer church reading challenge, I picked up the first volume of a very long series by Gilbert Morris. While I'd not heard of Mr. Morris before, he was apparently quite the prolific author, publishing 283 books during his lifetime, according to Goodreads. His longest series, the House of Winslow novels, spans forty volumes, and is an historical fiction series following the lineage of one family throughout history.

Naturally, I started with Volume #1.

The Honorable Imposter takes place in the early 17th Century, as we meet our hero, Gilbert Winslow. An unenthusiastic divinity student, he is recruited by one of the English lords to infiltrate the Separatists in Holland, learn the whereabouts of William Brewster, and turn him over to the British Crown for execution.

Naturally, things don't go entirely according to plan. Gilbert finds himself falling in love with the young woman he planned to use to find Brewster, and at a critical moment suffers a nasty bout of conscience. This leads into the second half of the book, with Gilbert finding himself on the Mayflower, headed to Plymouth colony with the rest of the Separatists (or Pilgrims, as we have come to know them).

As a piece of historical fiction focused on a very religious historical group, the Christianity on display here makes perfect sense. The book also avoids the pitfall of all the good people being Christians while all the bad guys are not. As was historically true, most of the Mayflower's crew was not Christian, or at least not nearly so committed as the Separatist passengers. Some of the crew are good and helpful, others, less so.

It's clear that Morris did a fair bit of research before starting this series. The backdrops in England, Holland, and America are well described, and the actual historical characters such as William Bradford and William Brewster really come alive in the pages of the novel.

The weakest point, honestly, is Gilbert Winslow himself. Aside from remarkable fencing skills, he has very little to recommend him, and many of his major decision points seem forced. Where the surrounding historical characters live and breathe, Gilbert's plotline tends to run on rails with supernatural intervention making decisions for him.

Overall, it's not a bad book, just with a few problems. There's certainly far worse historical fiction out there. I'm going to give the next book in the series a shot and see if things improve.