Caster's Corner - Livestreaming on Twitch

Sunday, January 20, 2019

New Home:

Hi everyone, I've decided to finally buy my own domain and hosting and stop relying on Google's free offering. Please check out the new home of this blog at the following location:

Same great content, new, better home!

Friday, January 18, 2019

Let's Play Wing Commander - Gimle Mission #2 - Deathstroke

 We were supposed to be getting out of Gimle pretty soon, but there was one small problem: Ops had detected a number of inbound Kilrathi fighters. They weren’t going to let us leave without a fight.

The Rapiers were with another team today, and we were back in our Raptors. All we had to do was run out to Nav Point 1 and see what was there.

Dralthi. Two full flights of them. Dakhath Deathstroke was leading the second flight, but we'd have to get through the first group to
even worry about that.

Angel broke right, I pulled left and we both went to 'burners. Outnumbered four to one, our only chance was to be aggressive from the start.

Under full guns, the lead Dralthi practically vaporized and then we were fully committed to the merge. I picked a target, engaged, and as soon as that one blew up, I went after another one. I don't recall which one was Dakhath, but I sure wasn't going to let that furry bastard shoot any more ejected pilots.

I had to check my watch when it was over. We'd blasted all eight of them in less than five minutes.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Road To PAX South 2019 - Day 1

All things considered, we made shockingly good time today. I’d wanted to leave at 0900, but final load checks never go perfectly smoothly, and saying goodbye to four kids and a very patient wife is never a short process. There are always tears. Some them aren’t mine. All this meant that we didn’t actually depart the family domicile until 0930, point the nose of the family people hauler South down Interstate 29, and come up to cruising speed.

The Aarons are off on an adventure!
 It was really surprising to see the snow quantities increase as we passed into Missouri and even Kansas. We seemed to be driving into a weather system, and hit some pretty good fog in Kansas. Enough to make me slow down a bit. Mini-me turns out to be a lousy navigator. I could barely get him to ride shotgun at all, he was too busy playing videogames and watching movies in the back seat. Maybe that makes him a good RIO, always watching screens? I don’t know, that’s for someone more knowledgeable than me about such matters to say.

The plan had been to just get to Oklahoma City and call it a night, but we hit OKC before 2000 and I was feeling good, so we kept going. That might have been a mistake. Traffic wasn’t bad, but I’m not sure that navigating through the Dallas freeway system in the dark, while tired, and searching for a hotel is a thing I want to repeat again. At the very least, I know it’s feasible when I make this run again next year!

All that leaves for tomorrow is a relatively short jaunt down to San Antonio, with the vital first In-N-Out stop and some Cane’s Chicken!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Let's Play Valkyria Chronicles 4: Chapter 5: Food Fight

Squad E enters a captured Federation town in search of food and supplies. Interactions with the townspeople are awkward, and there's no food to be found. It's almost like someone got there first. Hey, what's Squad F doing over there?

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Road Trips Old and New

The first family road trip that I can remember was in 1984. My parents loaded my brother and me up into an old truck with a camper shell on the back, and we went to Yellowstone. That was the first, and thus far, only time I’ve ever been to that park. I don’t have a lot of memories of that trip, since I was only four at the time, just a few vague recollections of riding in the camper top, sitting in a mechanic’s office when the truck broke down, and maybe a couple of other random fragments. Like I said, I was four.

Over the years, we took a lot more road trips. Never again in that truck, but my parents bought a first-generation Ford Aerostar minivan and towed a twenty-foot Komfort trailer to the Grand Canyon, Pismo Beach, and a variety of other places until 1993. Then they traded the Aerostar for a full-sized Econoline E150, and we went to Alaska. After that trip, the Komfort got traded for a bigger trailer which would be more capable of dealing with a bunch of hungry teenage boys. The family road trip was an annual highlight that only ended for me when the van dropped me off at college in 1997.

I haven’t made nearly as many road trips as an adult, though there have been a few. I love them, there have just been job issues. The last one I took was in 2015, navigating my heavily loaded Saturn Vue from Seattle to Sioux Falls in the big family move. That wasn’t an especially fun trip. I was alone, I had a deadline, and my car was so filled with stuff that I could barely see out the passenger side windows.
My one photo stop, somewhere in Montana, on the way to South Dakota.
But now things are changing. Like I said in yesterday’s vlog, this week I’m off to PAX South, and for the very first time, I’ve got a buddy with me. I’d promised the kids for years that they could start coming with me to PAX when they were thirteen. Why thirteen? Because that’s the age when the convention lets them do their own thing, and not require they have an adult present at all times.

I’m excited. It’s a chance to introduce my favorite convention to Mini-me. It is, I hope, the start of a running tradition that will see a growing crew attend a PAX event every year for a good long time. For this year, it should also be the start of some more meaningful road trips. We’ve got a long way to go, and a short time to get there (as the song says) but there should be time for a few short stops along the way. Mini-Me has never been to Texas before. I’ve never been through Austin, or spent any amount of time in Dallas. I’m looking forward to an exciting trip.

Monday, January 14, 2019

PAX Southbound! Vlog 2019-02

This week I'm off to PAX South 2019 with Jr. Streamer Electroboy11. This is going to be quite the adventure. It's Junior's first ever PAX event, and there's a lot of things that I'm looking forward to!

Next stop, San Antonio!

Friday, January 11, 2019

Let's Play Wing Commander - Gimle Mission #2 - Rapier Test Flight

I have no idea how I lucked into this one. When the pair of shiny F-44A pre-production birds touched down on the Claw, I assumed that if anyone would be taking them out on combat flights, it would be a couple of senior pilots on a milk run. Not so! Instead, Colonel Halcyon picked Angel and me to take the new fighters out on a regular three point CAP.

I can't wait for these things to hit regular squadron use. The Rapier is faster than a Hornet, with shields like a Raptor. It could use a couple of heat-seekers in place of the Iffies, but other than that I have no complaints.

Angel and I took off on patrol. We slipped through a small asteroid field at Nav 1, then ran into a Dralthi patrol at Nav 2. Not much to worry about there. Then we jumped a pair of Gratha a Nav 3. Still no worries. The Rapier really outclasses the cat heavies. I'm going to enjoy flying this bird.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

2018 Was Good For Me, But...

“2018 was a good year for me, but I know overall, it was awful.” I’ve seen that sentiment, or variants of it, expressed from a lot of different people over the past couple of weeks. Enough to make me wonder, and come up with a few theories of my own. Because the thing is, 2018 by the numbers, in America, was a pretty great year, overall. The economy was roaring, we kicked ISIS’s ass, didn’t get in a war with North Korea, and saw some seriously awesome developments in private manned space flight! Sure, there were a few downsides as well, but I think the highs well outweighed the lows.
What the economy feels like sometimes.
So what’s up? Discounting people who had specific, personal reasons for why 2018 was a terrible year (and I’ve had years like that, I understand), why the general downer sentiment?

My left-leaning friends seem to have a pretty obvious answer. Because every list of their personal 2018 highlights then segues into a list of all the bad things done by the Orange Man or his congressional minions, likely none of which actually effected them. Never go full TDS. My friends on the right seem to have similar issues, though usually they cast the blame on Democrats, the media, the government lying about the health of the economy, or Orange Man if they’re from the Never Trump brigade.

In short, I think politics and the media keep making people crazy.

Look, on the one side you have a media which is fully invested in making people believe that things are bad and getting worse. When even Jill Abramson admits that TDS sells papers, it should be apparent that there’s a problem. On the other side, the professional economic doom-sayers have been predicting the same thing for years. Sooner or later they’re going to be right.

“The problem with being a manic depressive is that you know sooner or later you’re going to be right, and the shit really is going to hit the fan.” – Doomsday, Wing Commander: End Run.

Is the economy in poorer shape than the feds in Washington want everyone to think? Probably. Are the numbers cooked to make them look better? Yes, but in the same way that they’ve been cooked for a couple of administrations now, which means that as long as the measures are the same, they’re still useful, even if they don’t tell the whole story.

I wish I had a real solution to the problem, but I suspect I’m just adding my voice to the screaming into the void at this point. The best I can do is suggest that folks should listen to their neighbors, to their friends, and pay a lot less attention to the media voices on either side. Keep eyes open (and good budget records) and see for yourself whether things are better or worse around you.

As for me, well, like I wrote previously, 2018 was pretty good for me. I’m hoping to build on that success for an even better 2019, regardless of what the talking heads tell me.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Let's Play Valkyria Chronicles 4! Squad Story - Gambler's Ruin

Another side story. This time featuring a hard-luck gambler, a dissection obsessed scout, and author who talks far more than he actually writes. Can Jester find a way to change his luck, or has he been dealt his last hand?

This was an interesting little story. Nothing really of consequence, but Jester, Teresa, and Connor are interesting to play. Definitely better than last week's Treading New Ground story.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Book Review: Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook (4th Ed.)

Over the summer, I found myself struggling a bit with some of my long runs while preparing for my first half-marathon. The truth of the matter was that I just didn't know quite how to properly fuel myself for long runs, and was learning as I went.

A conversation with an old college friend who has been running marathons for over ten years now turned me on this book as a resource to help solve my problems.

Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook is an all-in-one tome for athletes and aspiring athletes looking for solid nutrition advice. It's not a diet book, although there's a fair bit of diet advice, nor is it a recipe book, although there are several chapters filled with recipes.

What this book is, however, is a solid guide for anyone looking for evidence based guidelines for how to fuel an active body while achieving whatever your weight goals are. When to eat, what percentage of carbohydrates/fats/proteins to eat, and how much to eat are all topics that are covered well in this tome.

It's more of a reference manual than something that needs to be read cover to cover, but that's all right. just keep it on a shelf and refer to it when needed after skimming the Table of Contents and reading whatever chapters are relevant at the time. As for me, since I'm kicking up my marathon training program, this will definitely get some use for good food choices and snacks I can make at home.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Running Resolutions: Vlog 2019-01

Oh baby, it's still cold outside, but I've gotta get my plans in order for the first half of the year.

Running objectives go! Looks like I'm committed to running in a couple of local distance races in March and April, then my first full marathon in Fargo, don't ya know.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Let's Play Wing Commander - Gimle Mission #1 - Exeter Stage Right

If I thought the first couple of systems we had fought in were tough, Gimle was a whole different kind of battle. Our first mission was supposed to be a basic escort, walking an Exeter-class destroyer home from the jump point.

Instead, Angel and I launched straight into the teeth of a surprise ambush by two groups of Salthi. I don't know if the cats had blundered into the Claw's battlegroup by accident, or if they meant to be a quick strike force, but they sure hadn't brought enough firepower along to attack a carrier and her escorts.

Angel and I quickly joined the fight and made short work of the Kilrathi light fighters. Then it was off to Nav 1 and the destroyer.

Maybe the Salthi were just supposed to be a diversion to buy time. Because when we got to Nav 1, the destroyer was already under attack by a trio of Jalthi heavy fighters. Maybe the cats had figured that a few light fighters were a worthwhile trade for a destroyer. I don't know. What I do know is that Angel and I had one hell of a fight on our hands. Not that the Jalthi is much of a dogfighter, but that six-pack of lasers, plus the twin neutron guns for good measure, makes those things positively lethal as cap-ship killers if they're left unchecked for just a few seconds too long.

Angel and I split the bandits between us. We rolled in punching off missiles as quickly as we could, trying for a quick kill. I bagged one of the fighters first, and turned my attention to the unengaged fighter. Sure glad I was in a Raptor now, because those full gun bursts were able to make short work of the Jalthi once I got on the cat's six.

Angel finished off her target, and we joined up with the destroyer. They were pretty beat up, but still spaceworthy. Once they got back to the Claw they'd have a fair bit of damage control to finish up, but it would be nice to have that additional firepower in the strike group. 

Thursday, January 3, 2019

New Year's Jet Noise!

Hopefully by now all the fireworks are put away, and everyone is over any New Year's celebration hangovers. The Caster Clan is still getting back up to full speed on a few things, with the kids back in school and tax season now underway.

Also, it's cold outside (Baby). We didn't get much of a White Christmas this year, but Mother Nature sure made up for that a day later.
The front yard, just a couple days after Christmas, and me finally digging the snow blower out of the garage.

So since most aviating and motorcycling has now been reduced to hanger flying and shop talk for the next few months, how about some awesome videos?

For those who don't know, "Star Wars" Canyon is a transition in one of the California MOAs where photographers can get up close and personal with an awesome variety of military aircraft as pilots do their best Luke Skywalker/Wedge Antilles impressions. Watch this one full screen with the sound up!

I have no idea whether the Bell V-280 Valor should beat out the SB>1 Defiant for the U.S. Army's next big helicopter contract. But I do think that tilt-rotors are cool, and I'd love to fly one.

Last but not least, anyone got some spare change or an Oculus Rift they'd like to kick over to me? Because this looks like about the closest I'm ever going to get flying a Tomcat!

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Let's Play Valkyria Chronicles 4! Squad Story - Tanks for the Memories

Squad stories are little side vignettes which unlock after playing with a particular set of characters for a while. It's a chance to get a little more insight on three of the "regular" members of Squad E. Successfully completing a Squad Story usually either unlocks a new potential, or changes a negative potential to something better.

I feel like Treading New Ground is one of the weaker Squad Stories, but it's the first one that I did. This one centers around Aulard, one of Squad E's engineers, and Dan and Miles, Squad E's APC and tank drivers, respectively. It's a fun enough little story, it just doesn't really mean much overall, except that Aulard gets a better potential out of it.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

2018 By The Numbers

Happy New Year! As noted in yesterday’s vlog, I have some fairly concrete goals set for 2019. But just for fun, and because it’s the last day of the year, here’s my 2018 By The Numbers.

9 – Video games played through and added to the finished pile.
124 – Video games added to the backlog.
-115 – Progress made on the backlog. That’s… not optimal.
2 – Bullet Journal books filled.
1 – Pair of running shoes worn out
2 – Races run.
499.1 – Total miles run according to Runkeeper. 2017’s total was 267, so I almost doubled my distance again.

7 – Books read this year. Totally missed my target on that one, need to do better next year.
66 – Books in the Bible read. First time I’ve successfully completed a “Read the Bible in a Year” program.
148 – Articles, news posts, and reviews written for Marooners’ Rock.
3 – Airline trips taken.