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Category Archives: Life, Living and Loving

Books Report

I read… a lot. One of my reading loves is science fiction and some time ago, I came across a nine-book series written by Ian Douglas that I just love going back and reading over and over. The nine books are broken down into three trilogies: The Heritage Trilogy, the Legacy Trilogy, and the Inheritance Trilogy. The books – in order per their respective trilogies are:

Semper Mars, Luna Strike, Europa Strike

Star Corps, Battlespace, Star Marines

Star Strike, Galactic Corps, Semper Human.

It’s a series of stories about the United States Marine Corps taking the fight to not only the other planets in our solar system but throughout intergalactic space and the action is very good, like, in one book, the ever-present enemy – The Xul – feels the wrath of humanity and the USMC after they dropped some asteroids on Earth and the Marines retaliated by literally sand-blasting major Xul hub and this, in particular, is one of my favorite moments in all of the nine books.

But as with such books, this isn’t just a story about humanity against [yet another] implacable, xenophobic super race; they are stories that tell the history of the Marines, from their inception 10 November 1775 and, for,the books, covering more than 1100 years and despite politicians trying to disband the Corps for either being redundant or too damned different from the people and government they’ve sworn to protect. If you don’t know a whole lot about the history of the US Marines, well, you’ll find out a few things and, hell, I served in the Air Force and reading these books gives me much respect for the Marines, you know, despite inter service rivalry.

One of the ongoing themes throughout the books reflects real-life attitudes: Men and women, regardless of branch of service and in defense of our way of life, lay down their lives and at the whim of the civilian government only to be dissed when all,the killing is over and these brave souls could use more and better support from those who order them to die if need be.

Just like in these books, politicians seem to forget that our service people make it possible for them to carry on the way they do – including treating those same service people like red-headed stepchildren and tossing them aside like refuse… until, of course, they’re called on once more to put their lives on the line.

These books capture this mindset quite well, just as it captures what it’s like to go through basic training; oh, man, reading the way the Marine DIs jump all over new recruits right from the beginning – and reading their reactions (and one I know all too well). The books take you to the stars but in a very human way and seen through the eyes and lives of certain key characters and their families across the many generations. Many of these families are generations of Marines, from a lowly PFC and including a Commandant of the Marine Corps. At times, the books are a bit hard to follow because you see what will become familiar names – Galloway, Warhurst, Alexander… but hundreds of years have passed since the events of Semper Mars, which shows the meaning of the words, improvise, adapt, and overcome.

These books have been around for a while but I never get tired of reading them and how the Marines, who are usually doomed to do more with a lot less, stick together as a family to carry out their sworn duty. The books speaks to the meaning of Semper Fidelis – always faithful – when the enemy seeks to wipe them and humanity from existence… and Earth politics try to accomplish a similar goal.

If you’re a fan of these kinds of books, find them. Read them.

 
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Posted by on 12 March 2018 in Life, Living and Loving

 

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A Question

Does anyone have any information on how one goes about getting paid to blog?  If ya know how to go about doing it, I hope you’d be wiling to share that with me… and thanks in advance!

 
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Posted by on 4 December 2017 in Life, Living and Loving

 

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This Time of the Year

The one thing that drives me crazy at this time of the year is finding my inboxes overflowing with Black Friday and Cyber Monday shit and from sources that I’ve not heard a damned thing from all year… until now.

 
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Posted by on 27 November 2017 in Life, Living and Loving

 

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Damn, I Forgot…

I forgot to mention that the results of my bladder biopsy revealed that I don’t have bladder cancer and despite what my urologist said.  Ah, you can’t imagine how much it warmed my heart to hear him say, when I went back for my post-procedure follow-up, “You were right – you don’t have bladder cancer…” and more so when, right before the procedure took place, we were talking about it and he had to make a change in his orders to include a chemotherapy device to take care of the cancer he said he was 90% sure I had, which resulted in me looking at him incredulously saying, “Really?  Why don’t we wait and see what the pathology folks say about that and then decide the next steps?”  I found out later that he told my wife that he was 88% sure I had bladder cancer!  He said that I did have some polyps in there, which he removed.

I did find out, however, that I have BPH and he prescribed medication to take care of that.

 
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Posted by on 9 November 2017 in Life, Living and Loving

 

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Yesterday…

I turned 62 yesterday and it was also Bisexual Day and for probably the first time in a very long time, I didn’t have anything reflective to write about before yesterday but I know it’s because I’ve had other things on my mind that were just a bit more important than reviewing and analyzing my life to date (I’ll get to that in a moment).  Still, I had a great day and it started early with a visit to see Mom, who had a birthday care and, as she says, “A few ducats…” in it and her official pronouncement that, now at 62, I’m getting old.

Next was a trip to a nail salon to get a manicure, courtesy of my baby, Linda.  We couldn’t get in where she wanted us to go and it took a little work to find a place where we wouldn’t have to wait very long… and didn’t smell like acetone and funky feet.  Finally, we went to pick up dinner but before that, I spent quite a bit of time responding to all the birthday wishes I received from my family and friends on Facebook.  Dinner was a rather impressive spread that included sushi, fried noodles with shrimp and even sharing a really good-tasting Japanese style fried rice and it was all I could do to stay awake after such a feast but I managed it but it was close, let me tell ya.

Okay, what was on my mind that preempted my “usual” pre-birthday review?  Well, during a routine visit to the doctor, my lab work revealed microscopic traces of blood in my urine which require a trip to see a urologist; he decided that he needed to take a look inside my bladder and, um, trust me, you really don’t want to know what that was like but I decided later and giving into a very un-Christian-like thought that my worst enemy should be subjected to such an examination while being awake.  The urologist said he saw something in my bladder, which he said was probably bladder cancer – and as I told my mom, if you had seen the look on my face and Linda’s, you would have thought this dude was as crazy as we were thinking to make such a pronouncement without following procedure to determine exactly and precisely what it was he saw… and that meant a biopsy.

The good part is that I was out like a proverbial light having this done and I’ll spare you all the gory details but let it suffice to say that while I’ve never had a kidney stone, um, I know what it’s like to having some things coming out that, um, shouldn’t be coming out of there… and was still coming out of there to the point where I was more than a bit concerned about it.  No, it’s not life-threatening but it is pretty damned annoying and, yes, I would highly recommend this to my worst enemy as well.  So, yeah, with this on my mind – and understandably so – I just wasn’t of a mind to do my usual pre-birthday soliloquy and this brief piece of scribbling will have to suffice until next year, I guess.

 
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Posted by on 24 September 2017 in Life, Living and Loving

 

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Minecraft…

I actually didn’t think I’d have anything else to write about this game… until the new “better together” version of Minecraft was released yesterday… and it was a disaster.  The gaming industry has been talking about this upgrade to the game because since Minecraft has been around, there are millions of people playing the game across the different platforms – iOS, Android, PC, and the consoles – but unless you were on the same platform with someone you wanted to play with, I couldn’t play with someone who might be playing on their Android tablet due to a mismatch in the protocols that were specifically written for a given device.  Well, they finally solved the riddle and figured out a way for everyone to play Minecraft with everyone else and regardless to their device of choice; as I recall, the only exception is the Java version of the game and that’s because most modern devices other than PCs won’t run Java (or aren’t allowed to).

The beta version came out on Xbox One and to mixed reviews from those who gave it a try and one of the things I know many tried – and because I did it – is taking a world from the Xbox One version and converting it over to the beta version and it worked perfectly for me and many others.  Admittedly, the world I converted wasn’t a big one in terms of file size but there were others who had already built worlds that were not only grandly elaborate but in terms of file size, they were massive.  Still, the beta performed the conversion to my satisfaction even if I wasn’t fond of how they changed things like the game’s menus from what I’d painstakingly gotten used to playing the Xbox One version and I wasn’t the only one as evidenced by the riffing folks were doing on Facebook’s Minecraft Xbox One group page.

So now it was just a matter of the beta running its course and many people were waiting for it to go live.  I don’t know about the other console versions but Microsoft assured everyone that once the new game went live, we could still play the original version – it just wasn’t going to be updated going forward.  Additionally, anyone who had either the game disc or had purchased the digital copy and had played the game for five hours or more would receive the new game free of charge; it was also announced that any add-on packs purchased would be applied to the new game and work as expected but with the understandable caveat that some packs would take a bit of time to be included.

I fired up my Xbox to see if the new version was available there and only because I saw where my iOS version, Minecraft Personal Edition (or PE) had updated and I took a deep breath and proceeded to update my Xbox game and in a note to my son-in-law, I told him that I was afraid to open it but did so anyway.  Now things get interesting.  First, before I could do a thing with the new game, it locked up and eventually crashed my console and had to be reset.  Once that was done, I reopened the game and just like everyone else was probably doing, when to convert my current world into the new game; when it got done, I opened it… and discovered that literally half of my world was missing!  I found myself hovering in mid-air – and that’s because it was what I was doing when I closed that version of the world when I last played it – and then I turned around toward my “headquarters,” only to find that except for a few things, it was gone – all I could see was water where there was never any water.  Even better, I moved to where my headquarters used to be and discovered that the mountain that sits behind my place was literally bisected and to the point where one of my mines was exposed!  That’s about the time I started laughing because I knew if I was seeing something like this, there would be others who’d see it as well and as evidenced by hearing my son-in-law suddenly curse when he did the same thing I did and found parts of his converted world missing.

Several attempts to re-convert my world resulted in more of it being done but one of the things I noticed was that the world I was trying to convert was 257.5 MB in size… but only 170 MB had been converted.  I thought that perhaps the missing megabyte were tied up in the add-on pack attached to the original game so I went to apply it.  The size of the add-on is 8.4 MB… but the process kept getting to 8,1 MB downloaded and just stopped… then the game crashed and took my console along for the ride.  I told my fellow Facebook group members what I’d experienced and even provided pictures of the “carnage” and, yup, a lot of people were having similar problems.  But wait… this gets better!

If you had created a world in the beta, it would open up without a problem… but if you had an add-on applied, well, you could go to it in the menu and download it… except it wouldn’t download.  On the Facebook group, many people were reporting that they could open their worlds from the beta… but there were some things that weren’t working anymore that were working before this thing went live.  But wait… it gets even better from here!  Remember when I said that we were told that if we already had the game either in disc form or digital download we’d get the new game free?  Well, some people who had the game already discovered that when it was time to download and launch the new game, um, it was gonna cost them $349.00… and I had to laugh as I wondered how many people actually re-purchased the game at this price and while hoping that no one did.

I went to xbox.com to check system status one to see what they knew and, two, because this thing had crashed my console three times already and, indeed, Microsoft was aware that something was very wrong – and that’s about all they said; something’s wrong and we’re working on it so check back to see if/when we get it fixed.  I had another good laugh thinking about how Mojang – the creators of Minecraft – and Microsoft were getting bombed and slammed by millions of players and pretty much all at the same time.  I know some shit about moving stuff from a test/beta environment to going live so I know that you can test things until you get them working the way you need them to work but once in production mode, um, things don’t always go smoothly.  Talking to my son-in-law, he managed to get in touch with someone on the Mojang team who told him that they were having problems because they didn’t expect four million people to start playing the game pretty much all at once and because that’s what happened, everything was crashing and burning around them.  Now, you know, being experienced in such things, I said, “Really?  They should have expected it and should have planned on this happening!”  Whether those involved really did take this into consideration or not doesn’t change the fact that the much ballyhooed and anticipated new edition of Minecraft just blew up and now tech teams were – and are still – scrambling to fix it.

I’ve yet to check Xbox system status or fire up my console to see if things got fixed but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s still broken.  And, yes, I am very glad and happy that I can still play the original Xbox version that has my world very much intact and functioning properly.

 
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Posted by on 21 September 2017 in Life, Living and Loving

 

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More Minecraft

At this point, I’m not 100% sure of how long I’ve been playing Minecraft – maybe a week or a bit longer.  I could find out easily enough but the real point here is how it’s quite possible to get totally lost playing this game.  Then again, whenever I play a new game I like, getting lost in the moment isn’t all that unusual, as my recent experiences with Watch Dogs and Watch Dogs 2 would indicate and, knowing myself, once the novelty of Minecraft starts to wear off I’ll spend less time playing it – just don’t ask me when I think that will happen.

Some folks seem to play this game for the thrill of the hunt, coming to “life” when the sun goes down and the scary monsters come out; some seem to be explorers in that once they establish a home base, it’s time to gear up and explore everything they can get to, both above and below ground.  Some are creators/builders and I’ve seen plenty of examples of the work of some of these folks… and to say mind blowing doesn’t come close, as a YouTube video I watched yesterday illustrated:  Some guy built an underground world inside of his Minecraft seed and, wow – just wow.  I can’t imagine the amount of time this guy spent with his creation and I’ll admit to having my brain lock up for a moment when my son-in-law suggested that taking on a similar project would be fun; I told him that at the moment, I couldn’t even imagine what such a project on my part would look like.

It seems I like building things; with my son-in-law’s help, I built a four-story “apartment building,” built a kind of covered archway that leads to the apartment building; constructed some simple bridges between where my main “home” is and this little islet – and then between the islet and another part of my location… so that I could build another “standard” place.  I kinda have a goal to build something in the varying locations in my seed (there’s an achievement for this in Xbox) so gearing up and exploring possible building locations just seems like a logical thing to do.  What strikes me as being funny is that I’m finding that I’m building things without any real purpose other than seeing a shape in my head and start stacking blocks.  Like, with the apartment building, I told my son-in-law, as we drew close to finishing it, that I had no idea what I was gonna do with this place once it was finished.  Indeed, everything I’ve built outside of my main base has no pre-determined purpose; however. the apartment building is the most complicated structure so far.  The last place I built has me thinking about dividing the space into rooms… as soon as I figure out (or I’m taught) how to build interior walls because, um, this game doesn’t seem to have anything like sheet rock…

Now, if I didn’t have enough to do in my main seed, I decided to duplicate this seed and start a new game in Creator mode (as opposed to the default Survivor mode) and, wow, talk about a different animal!  In Survivor mode you have to do shit to get the stuff you need to do whatever it is you wanna do; Creator mode gives you everything you need to do this so once I got into my duplicated seed, it was hard for me to resist the urge to start cutting down trees and burrowing down deed to get the stuff I needed.  I just went into my inventory, tossed down a crafting block and furnace – and two items I actually don’t need, by the way – and started clearing a huge-ass space to build a place to, at the very least, place a bed.  I’m finding that I’m gonna need a lot of chests to store excess stuff in because they don’t run out like they do in Survivor mode, like, I can use all the cobblestone blocks I want and not have to stop to go mine more of them… but when I change materials, um, I’m finding that I’m gonna need those chests to stash the stuff I’m not using so that the inventory I carry with me doesn’t get overloaded.

This is kinda daunting since my crafting skills aren’t all that great at this point and, again, I’ve not gotten used to having everything I could possibly want or need to do something so what I think I should be doing is thinking about what I want to build, like, um, I have this idea for a tower-like structure that if I can pull it off, will end above the clouds…

I like mining; there’s something rather soothing about taking pickax and shovel in hand and just hacking at the various materials; whenever I hit a dead end – like one of those gigantic rivers of lava I seem to have a knack for falling into – I feel… frustrated.  Yesterday, Brian and I started taking apart a mountain of sand – and this sucker is huge – so he can collect the hidden sandstone to build a pyramid.  I sat for a good long time hacking at the sand, only stopping to convert the sand I’d been collecting into more sandstone… which seems kinda silly since this mountain we’re deconstructing probably has more sandstone than he’s gonna need to complete this project he has.  Even though he has his own seeds/worlds to play in, he seems to be having a grand time doing stuff in my world… and I’m not complaining one bit.  But…

I went to his world, one so he could show me the latest texture pack he got called steampunk – it’s pretty cool looking, especially the trees that have piping and moving gears in them and, two, so he could show me how close he was to a base camp he created that’s close to a Mansion he found.  Now, if I often feel lost roaming around in my world, following him around in his really amplifies this feeling because, of course, he knows where he’s going (for the most part) and I’m clueless as to the lay of the land.  And while I managed not to fall into a deep hole or otherwise get killed, it gets annoying to be running around at night and getting shot up by skeletons and having creepers and zombies chasing you all over the place.  You have the instinct to put and keep your head on a swivel when not in Peaceful mode… except there’s really no way to do this and, at one point when we were battling and dodging a clutch of creepers, I found myself wishing that I could create a shotgun which would be better than relying on a sword; I’d rather have the advantage of killing these things from a distance instead of having to always engage in close quarter combat with things that like to literally blow up in your face.

A bad guy alarm would also be a very nice thing to have, just like having a flashlight or even a torch that stays lit as you carry it in your hand… except if you have a lit torch and you run into a zombie, um, well, you see the problem here, don’t you?  Oh, and since the skeletons are archers, they can stand off at a distance and pepper you with arrows until you escape or get killed.  Now, one can arm themselves with a bow and arrows as well but I haven’t graduated to this point even though in my world, I do have the stuff I need to make one so this is gonna be on my list of things to do.

 
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Posted by on 22 August 2017 in Life, Living and Loving

 

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