Catching up

This summer had been a bit of a roller-coaster, especially professionally. All the company restructuring that was supposed to happen didn’t pan out, the company is now solidified once again, with a new “cost cutting” management team, which probably means a round of layoffs at some point. I feel fairly confident that they won’t involve me, but you’re never really certain about those sorts of things.

The situation with my family has also resolved itself, through heated arguments, resulting in them being angry at me for asserting myself and taking control of the situation. Apparently I’m not supposed to be a grown-up when talking to my parents, and by acting as one, they feel threatened. It’s for the best that they left, maybe they’ll come around someday. Honestly, I’ve stopped caring. You can only be taken advantage of for so long.

All that drama that had left me with fairly sleepless nights, stress and stomach ulcers has seemingly dissipated for the moment. While I feel much better now, it resulted in being in a pretty low place this summer. Now I have some catching up to do. I haven’t posted, I haven’t collected, I haven’t really given anything beyond my personal sphere of influence much thought.

I have a few personal projects I’m hoping to work on. My main quest for the fall is to clean out the garage. We’ve been housing the accumulated junk from three generations of family and it’s time to simply let some of it go. I think we’re going to rent a dumpster. It’s the only way to really get rid of some of it. Once that’s cleaned out, I’ll have a work space to work on everything else. There’s a large work bench area which includes some nice cabinets and even a drill press and grinder. That could go a long way in helping…

Mod out my smoker. I’m excited at the thought of taking my BBQ smoking to the next level. I’ve always been a BBQ nut, but living in Texas has brought that to a whole new level. I’ve perfected my ribs and pork butt and my brisket is coming along nicely. Most people say the first two are excellent and they went over well at the recent large cookouts I’ve done. My brisket is ok, perfectly acceptable, but it’s nothing out of this world. I think it’s mainly the cuts of meat I get. I’m limited to¬†mostly Select and Choice. It’s expensive to step up to the Prime grade or something crazy like some Texas Wagu. I want to nail my flavor profile before I drop $100 on a brisket. My smaller smokers and my vertical smoker are great for smaller cooks, but if I’m having 40 people over I’m going to need something a little bigger. Saving for my next super-large smoker is something I’m going to budget for.

Also on the list is my growing home media server. I’ve gone back through my massive collection of music and movies and I’ve been ripping personal copies whenever I have a spare minute. I started with the things we watch and listen to the most, which these days tends to be Pixar and Disney movies. The kiddo loves having an entire digital library at her fingertips. I Frankenstein’ed a server together, stuck three 1TB drives in it and I’m in the process of filling them up. I’m running Plex as my interface across my Roku devices and I’m using CouchPotato and SickBeard in additional to my already established collection to supply content. So far it’s going quite well. I need to swap out the video card for something tiny and passively cooled. Since I occasionally need to poke around at settings, I have it hooked up to a monitor and the only video card I had laying around is a gaming grade double-slot card. It’s loud, hot and completely overkill. I’ll find something on sale one day and replace it.

Elsewhere, I’m back on finishing up my various websites again. With WP 4.0 finally out and a theme I can use as a platform, I can move forward with at least two of them. I’ve got all the content uploaded to my portfolio site but I haven’t found the time to write descriptions and tag everything. I’ve also got 3 or 4 client sites to work on which are keeping me busy and supplied with a little card money for the ever growing collection.

These days boxes and packs just do nothing for me but simply buying team sets doesn’t really have any thrill to it. It’s still fun, but I’m constantly refining what I’m looking for in a collection. I’m leaning more and more towards slightly higher-end singles. I’d rather pay $10 for a card I really want than $20 for a blaster of crap. I also need to refine my lists again. I also need to make a massive COMC/Sportlots purchase and just finish off some of them. Things like 2 minis from 2012 Ginter are easily picked up and it would be good to just cross those sorts of things off the list.

That’s all. There wasn’t really any point to this entire post, just felt like getting some stuff off my chest.

 

Destiny – The Vanilla Ice Cream of Gaming

I was talking to several friends who occasionally and casually game and they all asked me my thoughts on Destiny, the latest shooter/mashup from Bungie. They had seen the marketing blitz and were wondering if the game was worth playing. The best analogy I could come up with (and after some deeper reflection, the one that still fits) was that Destiny is a good bowl of vanilla ice cream. Not just any vanilla ice cream, a really good kind. Ben & Jerry’s good. However, it’s the only thing in the bowl. The realization here is that for all the marketing hype about the greatness of Destiny, it’s incomplete. It’s ice cream without any sunday accoutrements. It has no chocolate sauce, no whipped cream, no jimmy’s and no cherry on top. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with good ice cream, it’s just that without it being made into a full dessert experience, you’re left wondering how good it could have been if only they had opted for the waffle cone. (more…)

Big Trade with Greg

I was going to put “Giant” trade, but I figured the Dodgers fans wouldn’t appreciate that. Bad title puns aside, Greg and I have traded a couple times in the past but had both slowly been building piles of cards for each other for what seems like forever. I had such a stack of Dodgers I couldn’t fit it into a flat-rate box. It was time to pull the trigger and swap some cardboard.

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