A Reading Goal

One of my goals lately is to read more.  I used to love reading for fun more than any other entertainment choice.  I would stay awake late into the night reading.  Then I acquired a computer, and another computer to play around with.  I bought more video games and DVDs.  I went to college and started playing World of Warcraft.  Soon, I wasn’t reading much, if at all.

Now, I want to reclaim my passion for reading.  One tool I’ve equipped for that use is Goodreads.  I’ve started keeping track of the books I’ve read, made a list of books I want to read, and I can track what I’m reading and how far through it I am.  Plus with the app for my iPod touch, I have a constant reminder that I could be reading.  But if there’s one thing I know, cool new toys only motivate for so long.  Eventually, you’ll either need to buy another cool new toy, or buckle down and do whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing.

In order to buckle down, I decided to make a goal for reading each day.  The goal? Read 50 pages a day.  I might be crazy.

When I made the goal, the book I was in at the time was a relatively easy read,  and the chapters were pretty short (5-8 pages).  Reading 50 pages was easy and could take less than an hour.  The problem I’m worried about now is that as the books become more complex and/or dense, 50 pages may become a tall order.

My solution to this problem is two-fold.  First, I’ll need to take an honest look at my time and figure out if I’m wasting time I could be reading doing other things I don’t really need/want to be doing.  Secondly, I’m reminding myself that it’s a motivating goal.  Yes, it’s great to accomplish the goal, but the purpose is so that every day I think to myself, “I should read today.”  And even if I only read 10 pages, it’s still better than what I was doing a year ago.

If you’d like to see how I’m doing, feel free to visit my Goodreads profile page.  I’ll try to track what page I’m on each day so you can see how far I’ve advanced.  If you’re wondering what Goodreads is, check out my review post.

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Free Gaming? I’m in!

Along with enjoying a variety of movies and shows, I have to admit that I really enjoy video games as well.  In fact, gaming easily takes up more time than the movies and tv.  And the only thing better than getting a new game is getting a new game for free.  Here are couple of upcoming free games and another online option you can give a shot.

First off is Battlefield Heroes.  This game is developed by EA and Dice and follows in the path of other Battlefield games: a first or third person shooter, 2 teams, a variety of classes.  The two main things that set this one apart are the cost (FREE) and the art style, which is more cartoonish, similar to Team Fortress 2.  And as of this point in time, the system requirements are fairly low. The game is set in a World War II style setting as well with teams based on a fictional Axis and Allies.  Currently the game is still in development but there’s a trailer and website online if you want more info.  Also, the game is free but to my understanding monetized in some interesting ways.  One is through advertisements on the website which you’re required to log into the game through.  The second is through the sale of costumes and other items which would help you play the game, but not give you an unfair advantage over others.

Another game currently in development is Mythos.  Everything I’ve heard about Mythos so far has been great, including word from Jeff Green, editor-in-chief of PC Coverage for the 1up Network who said it actually took him away from World of Warcraft for a bit. As a former World of Warcraft junkie (who still has withdrawal symptoms occasionally) this sounds like my kind of game.  It’s top down in a style similar to the Diablo games, but the spell system, UI, and art style seem more connected to WoW.  Again, this one is going to be free, with monetized items within the game.  The developers haven’t been clear as to what those items will look or work like, but again, probably not unfair to those who do choose to pay.  If you’re interested in this one, rumors are that public beta could fire up as early as this month, so keep your eye on the website.

Finally, speaking of websites, there’s Kongregate.  Kongregate is almost the ultimate Flash games hub.  If you’re like me, you might here “Flash games” and immediately tune out muttering something about how we don’t need another Bejeweled clone.  I understand where you’re coming from, and let me be clear that I’m not a huge fan of that type of Flash game either (except for Peggle).  This site is instead a massive community of gamers and developers and there’s some really cool stuff here.  You can find really violent platform shooters if that’s your thing, puzzle games like the Flash version of Portal, and even turn based RPGs.  Plus, what makes it even more addicting is the fact that many games have achievements, and as you earn achievements you get points which increase your level.  At this point, that doesn’t really do much for you, but it does create a potentially addicting mechanic which keeps you coming back to Kongregate for more.  And again, it’s absolutely free.

So if you’re looking for something fun for your PC, you can keep your ears to the ground on the first two, and enjoy some really fun games at Kongregate in the meantime.

I’ve been gone?

Ok, it has been a while. In the meantime, a lot of things have happened. One is that my wife and I hopped in a Yukon with my family and went to Colorado for vacation. I had fun, and we saw a lot of sweet stuff. Hopefully I’ll be able to do a post more in depth on where we stopped with pictures later.

But with the good comes the not-so-good. Right before we left for vacation, I came to discover that I had a cracked radiator. A friend was looking under the hood as some other things, and to be honest, we discovered it quite by accident. Thankfully, he turned to me and said, “We can change this ourselves, it’s easy!”. So just this past weekend, we finally stopped by the auto parts store and picked up what we needed. He worked, I helped and learned. I now feel confident that I could any of the following.

  • Change out the radiator (which I hope to never have to do again),
  • Change the distributor cap and rotor
  • Change the spark plugs and wires
  • Change the fuel filter
  • Change the oil
  • Replace the oil filter

All I need is a pair of ramps. It’s kind of crazy really. It’s not that hard to change the oil. I realize it’s more convenient to have it changed by someone, but now that I’ve seen it done once, I feel like it would be silly not to save myself the money and change it myself. Learn something new every day right?

Oh, I would be remiss not to mention that I watched three movies on Saturday, something I haven’t done in years. What made it more odd was that I enjoyed all three, and they’re all quite different movies: Shooter, Bridge to Terabithia, and Breach. I liked them all, and I would recommend each to fans of each type of movie. Bridge to Terabithia I found to be better than I thought it might be going in. I would recommend that as a great family movie you can watch with your kids and then talk about afterwards as it tackles some difficult subjects.

Fun for Less!

Generally when you think of a wedding anniversary, you think “expensive”. At least I do. My wife and I couldn’t do “expensive” this year, so we came up with a different plan and a had a great time. We ended up spending some time in historic Dubuque, Iowa. It’s the oldest city in the state, home to industry, ports, and really nice big houses up on the bluff. We took a historic carriage ride around town (the most costly part of the day next to gas). We also rode a small cart up the steep hillside so we could get some shots of the Mississippi from the top of the bluff.

After our time in Dubuque, we jumped across the border into Illinois and drove to a town called Galena. This place was pretty sweet. They have a really nice downtown area full of small shops in historic buildings. We stopped quick at a coffees shop there, before heading out to cross the border into Wisconsin! That’s right, 3 states in less hours. Then home for dinner and games. The verdict at the end of the day: do it again when we have time to spend a day each place.

A Good Weekend

It is so nice to have a weekend of nothing.  Well, mostly nothing.  Saturday was a great day of relaxing.  I got to sleep in, hang out with Amy, play some computer games.  I also got a chance to get out on the bike and make my way around town a bit, something I don’t do often enough.  It was rough (not as fit as I used to be.  I need to get used to having a bike again) but it was good for me I think.  The only bad part of the day was finding out how much are car repairs were going to be for the mirror and door handle.  Then that night, our friends Nathan and Theresa came over to celebrate her birthday.  We watched “She’s the Man” (her choice) and it didn’t actually turn out to be that bad.  I laughed quite a few times anyway.  Then, much more to my choice, Nathan had brought the Xbox 360 and rented “Gears of War” a sinful delight of sorts.  While quite gory and unfortunately chock with a good fill of “coarse” language, the gameplay is addicting and the graphics are amazing.

 Sunday was another pretty relaxing day.  Nathan came over and we finished Gears, I played some C&C Generals while Amy napped.  Then we went to church in the evening (which we don’t do often), gave our testimonies, and were accepted as members of our church.  We’re both pretty excited as it’s the first time we’ve ever been full-fledged church members other than by association with our parents.  I hung out at Matt’s a little last night for some Babylon 5 and almost fell asleep during the second episode.  All in all, a good weekend.

And a headache too…

It has definitely been one of those days.  It actually started last night.  In the process of bringing some friends home I back out of the garage and took off my drivers side mirror.  That’s two things on the left side of the car that need to be fixed now.  That was frustrating enough.  Now I have to chase down parts and pay for repair: not fun.

Then I got to work this morning and found out one of my coworkers was sick.  Normally not a big deal except that we’re in the process of hiring someone else and the guy who called in sick is filling in for someone else on sick leave for a while.  Needless to say that since January the extra things on my job kind of keep accumulating.  It’s not a large business though, maybe 4 of us here at a time during the day, so it’s to be expected.  It just makes me tired is all.  I guess I’ll make it.  I usually survive.  I need a nice relaxing evening tonight with a nice hot meal, perhaps a board game with my wife and a lot of nothing.  That would be nice.