I grew up in a household where watching TV was the exception rather than the norm. If I remember correctly, each of us kids [myself, Bananafishbonehead and the Kurd] could pick one show a week to watch and then we had a family hour of TV on the weekend. If there were special programs [like the Star Wars Ewok Adventure, V, or The Day After] then those were treated as exceptions. One thing that my sisters and I did to entertain ourselves was play card and board games. Risk, Monopoly, Mille Bornes to name a few. I fondly remember being able to dominate at most games and throwing the biggest hissy fit when, with overwhelming strategy and troops, the dice failed me roll after roll after roll and Bananafishbonehead’s meager forces held off the Huns, resulting in a thrown board and army pieces scattered around the living room. Ah, I love board games.
I had the opportunity to pick up Thunderclap from school on Tuesday and spend the afternoon with he and Tammy. I had been toying with the idea of picking up some board or card games for Thunderclap, and a fond memory I had of playing Dungeon! as a pre-teen had me googling to see if it was still available. Turns out it was re-released last year with a new board, cards and all new graphics. A quick call to a local Barnes & Noble let us know that a short hop, skip, and a jump away awaited incredible adventure, monster slaying, and untold riches. Now, I’m not a big D&D geek, but I played my share of TSR games as a youth and there were many hours on ship while on deployment in the Marines where we would pass the time in one sort of campaign or another. That said, I have often thought about how fun it would be to actually DM a game for Thunderclap and I do look forward to that day. But for now, this was a good gateway experience to test the waters.
Thunderclap was all atwitter as we drove home from the store and kept asking over and over if we could battle a dragon.
“I don’t know, but I hope so, buddy!”
I think I said that same phrase in response to the same question near a half dozen times on the 10 minute ride. Once home, we boned up on the rules, unpacked and set everything up and with both of us deciding to be dwarf clerics [he the male, I the female], we started our adventure. Immediately he was into it. Eager for each turn, each new opportunity to battle some monster, and eager see what treasure they would drop. His excitement and anticipation, not only for his turn, but for mine as well, was great to witness. Each new creature had him running into the other room to show Tammy what we were up against.
“Tammy, I’m fighting an OWL BEAR!”
“Look at this KOBOLD!”
“Isn’t this GREEN SLIME gross?!?”
The game progressed at a fun pace for quite a while, but before long, Thunderclap took the leap and jumped down into level 6. Now, in the context of this game, a cleric should not be hanging out in the hardest levels on the board. The creatures are mostly un-beatable and I can imagine a young player like Thunderclap becoming quite frustrated if each turn required him to run away and resulted in lost turns and lost treasure. But something wonderful happened on his first foray down into the depths of the dungeon that hooked him on the game and adventure gaming in general. He encountered a black dragon.
“Daddy, what does the monster card say?”
“You have to fight a black dragon, buddy.”
“A DRAGON?!? Is it really a DRAGON?!? Tammy! Tammy! I have to fight a BLACK DRAGON!”
“Hey, buddy, what number do you have to roll to beat it?”
“Oh, a twelve. That is going to be hard, won’t it daddy?”
“Yup, buddy. It doesn’t look good. Better blow on the dice for good luck.”
And with that, Thunderclap rolled, yes, you guessed it, a twelve. The joy and excitement at defeating a BLACK DRAGON could be heard throughout the land. And thus, a gamer was born.
Since then, each day has been filled with questions of when we can play the game again and nary a request to watch the tube. In addition, we ended up in a game store that happened to be going out of business and picked up Munchkin Cthulhu at discount and spent most of last weekend playing hand after hand after hand. I might have created a monster, but at least he’s a monster that is learning to read, use strategy, use basic math, stay focused for hours on end, and most importantly spend lots of quality time throwing ichor at daddy.
And that is the biggest win of all.
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Over the years I have identified as a runner and despite my foray into other sports, running is where I return for my core exercise. This is not because it is convenient, it is not because it is cheap, it is not because it is comfortable, it is because running is what I love.
A few years ago, I wrote about a 50 mile race that I ran on the PCT. This race was a life changing experience for me as it was the turning point of recognizing that I run because I love it. It was also the race that broke me for almost two years, crippling my identity as a runner as well as crippling my ability to run. That experience, the two years of running doldrums, fighting my body, finding my identity, yearning for the health to get back out on the trails, those were learning years.
I learned that a love of running isn’t something that you just pick up and do. That love has to be nurtured, it has to be cherished, it has to be cultivated, it can never be taken for granted. And in return? I receive all the love that running can give back to me. I can soak in sunrise as I fly down a piece of singletrack. I can revel in the strength and focus it takes to summit a challenging climb. I can gush about the zone I found in the midst of a long run. I can be inspired by the train of thought during a track work-out. I can solve nagging problems as I meander through oak groves. I can celebrate amazing vistas and the awe inspiring playground we call this world. I can feel stress melt away as the miles pass beneath my feet. That is the love that running gives to me. But only if I love running back.
It’s funny, also, how our sports are interesting parallels for our lives. Sometimes shakabuku wakes us up to what is crippling us physically, emotionally, and mentally. Sometimes we realize that to really have love in our lives, we have to work hard for the things we cherish. Sometimes we reap the amazing rewards of completely committing to love. Sometimes that love can completely eclipse and put to shame the love we have for our sports.
And sometimes, just sometimes, you end up with the gold medal.
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It’s that time of year.
Time to gird yourself for the events on the calendar. Time to gather with friends. Time to celebrate. Time to shave your legs.
The cycling season has begun. With races like Tour of Qatar and Tour of the Mediterranean under our collective belts and Tour of Oman underway, it is time to start thinking about spring classics and grand tours. It is time to hop back on the trainer and ride along while watching www.cyclingfans.com and the Sufferfest. But more importantly it is time to keep tabs on all our favorite cyclist and the stats of our favorite races. I mean, c’mon, you don’t want to be left out of the cool kids watercooler group, do you?
So, I’ve begun collecting a list of approved iPhone apps for teams and races. I haven’t had the time to go through each of these in detail, but as I do I’ll pop back in here and add a blurb about their usefulness. And, as new teams and races release apps, I’ll add them as well. Am I missing something? Just holler and I’ll add it.
BOOOO! None yet. WTF Tibco, Specialized-lululemon, GreenEdge?
BMC Racing Team – Netco Sports
The app is easy to use, provides decent information and gives quick access to current race stats and news. I give Marco Pinotti five stars for the best ears in the Peloton.
Omega Pharma – Quick-Step – The Application Store
Again, another easy to use app with a main wall focusing on recent team news. The team section is easy to navigate with a quick swipe setup to scroll through the team. Competitions are still showing 2012 dates. Light on features and detail and only two stars for showing Tommy Boonen without a smile. Play to your strengths, Omega!
RadioShack Leopard Trek – Explose
This app is pretty. Easy to use and lots of detail not only on races and news, but loads more information on the riders, as well. Calendar is up to date, and there is even a “Surprises” section that should at some point contain surprises. Five stars for the depth of info on the riders.
Team Sky Cycling – BSkyB
Same level of info as the Omega app, with little to show on the riders but the standard news and calendar. Nothing too special about this app, but I’ll give it a three stars for a pretty picture of Bernie.
Amgen Tour of California RadioShack Tour Tracker – Tour Tracker LLC
Still showing 2012 info.
Giro d’Italia – RCS Digital SpA
This app gets me giddy for the pink jersey. News, stage detail, classifications, teams, photos, video, live commentary! Data galore! Five stars for a well executed app and for the volume of info.
USA Pro Cycling Challenge RadioShack Tour Tracker – Tour Tracker LLC
Still showing 2012 info.
I’m not typically blogging about geek stuff, but when I come across a solution that I haven’t been able to find on the interwebs via Google, I feel a responsibilty to post my results for other folks to use when they run into the same problem.
So, the problem I ran into was a dialog window for our ERP software had popped up with most of the window off-screen while working with a Remote Desktop connection. This was on a Windows 7 client connecting to Remote Desktop on a Windows Server 2008 R2 host. Google search results said to use ALT+Space to access the window and choose ‘M’, but that was only working as a local keyboard shortcut and would just provide me with the ability to move the Remote Desktop session window. So I googled [when turning Google into a verb, you drop the upper-case, right?] keyboard shortcuts for Remote Desktop and wasn’t able to find the equivalent for ALT+Space, so I played around with it and came up with a winner using CTL+ALT+Space.
The solution, then, is as follows:
1. Select the offending window [using ALT+Insert if you don't have access to the window via the Taskbar]
2. CTL+ALT+Space and then ‘M’. The cursor will change to a four-pointed arrow.
3. Use the keyboard to move the window. A dotted outline will show you its boundaries.
4. Press Enter when you have the window in the desired location.
Where to begin? I have issues of fidelity, marriage, children, religion, science, and belief bouncing around in my head, to name a few.
These are tough topics to tackle, made even tougher by the audience that might read what I’m about to write. My apologies to any friends or family that will be shocked or offended by this post. This site started out as a journal for me, evolved into a training log, and then moved into a platform for me with a reading audience. I know quite a lot of that audience has dropped off in the last few years, but I assume that I still have the occasional friend, family member, or reader who will happen by here. It is time for me to get back to writing for me as I wade through this next period of exploration in my life.
So. I was a fraud.
I was not the happy, loving husband. I was not the morally upright Christian. I was not the intelligent geek. And 2012 was the year that it all came to a head. A friend told me recently that you can only wear masks and pull off a lie for so long before it becomes unsustainable. This year, my lies became unsustainable.
I wrote a long time ago that people live a life that is truly based off of what their priorities are. I THOUGHT that intelligence and logic were a priority to me. Heck, I’m a programmer, and those two items are part and parcel of what I undertake every day at the office. I thought I was fairly well-educated. I thought I approached life from a logical perspective. I thought I was rational.
I was raised in a very rigidly religious household. Discussion of things non-Biblical did not occur in our household. Science, when it came to evolution, was looked down upon with scorn. A show from NatGeo referencing carbon dating and the earth being so many billion years old? Hogwash. Carl Sagan on Nova? Turn that rubbish off. No explanation was ever given, none of the inconsistencies were ever discussed, and science, in relation to how it conflicted with religion’s teachings, was shunned. Now, I wasn’t explicitly TOLD not to believe these things, but the unspoken rigidity of belief created a culture that caused me to fear speaking against things and definitely guided me away from asking questions.
But I doubted. I would sneak In Search Of with Leonard Nimoy when my parents weren’t watching. I would watch the forbidden Nova. I would read sci-fi novels by Asimov and Clarke, Orwell and Bradbury. They taught me about a world of belief and science and culture that was completely foreign to mine. One that was “other” or “outside” and so completely different and fascinating compared to the sheltered world that I was raised in.
Oh, there were times where I was more vocal about my disbelief. My dogtags in the Marines were imprinted with “Agnostic.” And it was years after I left home before I sought out a church again. But the church culture, despite my upbringing, felt wrong and strange and often lacking in logic and intelligence. Yet, sought it out again, I did. I would often quote Proverbs 22:6–”Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not turn from it”–as the reason I came back into the fold. But honestly, the real reason I went back to the church was because I felt like I was expected to. It was part of the life plan that I should be living out. It was what was right.
So I gave it my best. I put everything into learning Godspeak. I poured myself into belief and internalizing and teaching and setting examples. And I thought I did a pretty decent job of it. But all the while, I felt like I was perpetrating a fraud. I pictured myself as this little black spot in a room full of bright light. I would pray with pastors and fear that God would give them insight into my disbelief. Which, as I write that out, makes no logical sense. But more on that later. I didn’t consciously set out to deceive people, and I genuinely tried to extol the virtues of the teachings of Christ as well as live them out in my life. But the Bible? Creation? Virgin birth? An interventionist God? I couldn’t wrap my head around believing these things.
So, if I felt like I valued intelligence and logic, why did I not question what I was being taught and what I was regurgitating? Because it wasn’t a priority for me. I put that priority behind the appearance I had to maintain for my family and friends. I had to wear masks for people to see the Jeff that they expected to see. I had a role to fill and there was an expectation that I had to live up to. Also, the culture in church is not one of honesty. Oh, everyone will talk ad nauseum about truth and challenging your faith and asking questions, but in reality, the hard questions are never answered. If the question is too challenging, the answer is faith.
Faith. Faith, belief that is not based on proof. The concept of faith has really got me to thinking lately. We, as humans, live in a logic-based world. We react to our environment with logic. We expect it to behave a certain way based on how we have observed it behaving. Our brains make logical pathways and logical assumptions based on how we learn. We communicate with each other using a logic-based method of reasoning and language. Everything about us is steeped in logic. So, why faith? Why, if God created this world around us and us to interact with it based on logic, and if the world it created is supposed to lead us to believe that God exists, why faith?
So, that seed. That little one right there, doubting faith and believing in logic, was the tipping point for my priorities. The more I thought about that idea, the more the mental shackles of thought were thrown off and the more I began challenging the inaccuracies, inconsistencies, and omissions that I had been exposed to for my nearly four decades. And those changed priorities have led me to a complete overhaul of my life. They have led me to re-evaluate what I want from life, re-evaluate what it means to be happy, re-evaluate how I want to raise my son, re-evaluate what it means to be intelligent, re-evaluate what is truly important.
And now I sit here, a single dad, in a loving relationship with a wonderful, intelligent woman, reading about atheism, creation science, gender equality and how to make home made sunscreen lotion.
Let the exploration begin.
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