Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Thinking about warmahordes

Warmachine has been on my mind. Thursday we went to a friend’s home to play the warmachine RPG. I’m running a paladin of the order of the wall/warcaster. The game is much closer to the wargame of the same name than the last edition. Privateer Press’s first RPG was based around the D&D 3.0/3.5 open game license. It featured lush hardcovers full of setting material and artwork. I bought all of those books, even though I never got to actually play because, well at the time I bought everything warmachine related I could find. In retrospect, the mechanics of the game represented an imperfect fit for D&D’s engine even with the 3.5 update. A conversion to pathfinder would likely remedy some of those shortcomings. In particular, the in-game cost of Arcane Tec, steam/mechanical equipment, and firearms was much more than their prevalence would suggest. The use and creation of said items was very resource intensive, often requiring multiple feets and high skill ratings before a character achieved proficiency. For those who loved the setting it was a beautiful world with a functional but limited mechanical interface. The new game features a unique 2d6 mechanic, custom careers, game play that mirrors the wargame, and a balanced advancement system. I really like character development—probably because characters retain the skills, spells, and special abilities of their wargame counterparts. Advancement is incremental with each 2-3 experience points netting a stat increase, skill bump, or special ability. Characters can only specialize so much before stat and skill maximums push them into advancing other abilities. Maximums increase every 50 experience points or so—allowing for specialization but keeping lesser characters from truly out-classing their betters. The net result is a game that favors complex multi layered characters with multiple skill sets. I don’t want to buy another game, but this one is starting to look like a keeper. My warmachine project is trundling along. Finances limit the speed of development—though with the dearth of games lately that’s not such a bad thing. Corc, Cherylkat, the brunette, and I get together regularly with the intent of playing—it just never seems to work out. We end up talking about “stuff.” Before it seems possible the night is over and no games are played. I’m giving serious thought to setting specific days for trips to Titan just so we can get our game on in a dedicated environment. Actually, WMTrainguy and I need to do that for FOW as we haven’t played in months. Of course the holidays are fast approaching—usually putting the axe to such plans. My goal is to ship out my old Khador army this week for fun and credit at BTP. I have all the models left to complete the army save a war dog and a Conquest. The conquest will have to get done in a different batch, but I’d like to be done with this army by the end of the year so I can start playing larger games. The conquest would just be nice to have around…maybe I can talk Corc into painting him. Actually, I wasn’t keen on the war dog until Butcher III came out at gencon featuring two hounds in toe. Now I feel fictionally obligated to have the little guy around. One of my recent obsessions has been legion of everblight. Despite the fact that I’ve never actually played a game of hordes, I love the faction. The more I read, the more I crunch numbers, the more I like how legion operates. A lot of that has to do with the ooo shiny factor of theoryhammering lists—a process that R and I used to go through for months at a time. I want to get a hordes list on the table. Corc kindly traded me his older metal legion starter box assembled and painted for a unit of man-o-war shocktroopers. The box caster isn’t a perfect match for me, but she’ll be good learning fodder. The real question is whether I want to start legion in March or see if lady Deathquaker would rather paint up my remaining early war French. On the one hand, the French are assembled and ready to go. Buying all that legion product would be expensive and that doesn’t even take into account the cost of having her assemble and paint them. There’s a strong financial argument against starting legion. On the other hand I really want to play hordes. It’s definitely what warmachine should have been—colorful, direct, all about the action, first world gamer problems I know. Fortunately I have plenty of time to think about it. In the mean time I’ve been reviewing the scope of a potential legion project. The nice thing about hordes is that each faction’s warlocks have their own flavor beyond mechanical theme. It’s easy, especially if you look at theme lists, to get an idea of the preferred play style for each warlock. Also, I’m interested in a limited number of support pieces, a focused set of infantry, and a targeted list of flying warbeasts. That makes it easier to review each of my potential choices. Reviewing the warlocks: • Absylonia, Terror of Everblight is a straight up beast caster who goes for the kill at warp 9. Her theme list focuses around heavy beasts supported by forsaken, shepards, and at least three lesser beasts—probably shreaders. Her simple and direct play style is appealing, but lacks tactical sophistication and flexibility. I’m pro-simple but anti-one-dementional when it comes to warlocks. • Bethayne, Voice of Everblight & Belphagor is a truly fantastic warlock. She has offense and defense. She can meld with her pet warbeast to amp up her combat stats or sit back and use him as a mobile spell channeler. She has strong attrition and senereo elements as well as a passable assassination game. She’s fun, something I highly value in a warlock. Her theme list is just plane beautiful—focusing on hexhunters, flying beasts, sorceresses—basically fast moving removal elements. • Kallus, Wrath of Everblight is a caster that I love fictionally and really have no use for in play. He’s a construct warlock who has several group-buffing abilities. He’s a bit of a beet-stick himself—durible but with decent damage output especially against massed infantry. His theme list starts with at least 40 models at tier four. The models I’d want to play him with, blighted warmongers and warspears, aren’t in his themed list. So we’ve got a caster who has all the abilities I want, but who requires all the units I don’t want with none of the ones that I prefer. He’s a no-go sadly. • Lylyth I, II, and III I want to like. Her play style meshes well for me. She hits hard. She’s a fast moving general. Unfortunately her theme lists are model heavy. She’s a strong backup caster choice. Heck, I’m even considering fleshing out her prime version with two groups of raptors, but she’s on the back burner for now. • Rhyas, Sigil of Everblight, much like Callus, looks great on paper, but requires more infantry than I want to deal with. She’s a dedicated assassination warlock lacking the tactical flexibility I prefer. I want my armies to be able to handle two of assassination, attrition, or objective based missions. • Saeryn, Omen of Everblight is one of the best warlocks in hordes and maybe the best warcaster/warlock in the game. She has game with all three of the mission types. Her spell list is second to none. Her theme list is simply beautiful. She’s up there with Bethayne for the top slot. The only issue I have with her is that fictionally, she’s tied to Rhyas, which obligates me to take one of the ninja twins if I take the other. That’s just how my mind works. • Thagrosh I and II are that rarest of cases, casters that I don’t like paired with theme lists that I do. He doesn’t jell for me. Maybe it’s because I run the butcher already and I don’t want to run another big caster. I’m not a fan of his epic version. Of course he has Typhon—probably one of the best beasts in the game. It’s sad, since I don’t like running character beasts/jacks with warlocks/warcasters that they aren’t fictionally bound to. He breaks with the beautiful and deadly esthetic that I want for legion. • Vayl I and II are beautiful on so many levels. They have complimentary styles using similar model choices. Their theme lists work well with Bethayne’s force. They have the whole winter theme going—which I love. Vayl I is an upfront spellslinger while version I is more defensive—leading to two related but distinct play styles. My only real objection is that they don’t have their own character warbeast. Based on that breakdown, I’m looking at Bethayne and both versions of Vayl as my warlocks. I’m still trying to figure out how many support units, how many centerpiece models, and how many infantry units are required for a playable force…but that’s an article for another time.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The making of an action hero pt35

I’m tired. Not didn’t-get-enough-sleep-tired but warn-the-heck-out tired. As I noted previously, I’ve gone to an every-other-day exercise schedule. This is good in that many of my physical complaints have gone away. Unfortunately that change came at the cost of a decreased weight loss rate. To be fair part of that is also that I’ve held back on the diet some in the name of reducing cravings—but the rate is still down. Knowing that criminals are plotting their plans for world domination while I’m getting back into form, I decided to up my game yesterday. I moved from the five to the ten pound clubs. Wow, @@###!!! That was ruff. After the first few exercises, mainly leg based, I could feel the weight. After the next few I had to really work to get the job done. By the end of the workout it took most of my focus just to keep going. I told the brunette that I didn’t expect going up five pounds to be that difficult. She mentioned that I doubled my weight. The truth is probably somewhere between those perspectives. The clubs are made so that the bulk of the weight flares out in front of the grip like the barrel of a baseball bat. In order to make the club heavier, the diameter of the barrel and the grip is increased. The result is a bigger, more unwieldy, outward flaring steel tube. The weight out at the end of the club provides tork above and beyond the mere weight of the unit. So it makes sense that it would be more difficult to handle. Even so, I didn’t realize how comfortable I’ve become with the five pound clubs until I tried to push through a 45 minute workout with the ten pounders. I’m tired, but not excessively sore. So I’m either not working hard enough or my body is getting used to exercise. I’m still trying to find the right balance. In the beginning strictly limiting my diet wasn’t a big deal. Since then I’ve found that mixing in some less healthy but more fulfilling options helps stabilize and prevent emotional eating. The nice part of this experiment is that I’m learning to cook things like bread, biscuits, and cake that I used to find intimidating. I’m even less inclined now to order out than before. The challenging part is that I’m learning to make things like bread, biscuits, and cake…which means we have them around the house more often. I’m finding that restricting these projects to special occasions, such as when we have company or we’re visiting friends, allows me to enjoy my own cooking while limiting my exposure. Having fresh banana bread for breakfast is nice, but it gets old when you end up having to eat it for several days in a row while the potential for snacking increases drastically. This weekend I have the bond-a-thon, 9+ hours of James bond movies+drinks+dinner+friends at our place. That is followed two days later by the brunette and my seven year wedding anniversary. I’m going to take this as the end of the easier period I’ve been going through and start picking it up. I’ll focus more on healthier meal choices. I’ll pick up the club workout pace with the end goal to be going through the entire video with the five pound clubs by the end of the year. This is going to be a challenge. But I think it will be good to push myself out of the comfort zone. I’m happy that working out every other day, not ordering out, making my lunches, weighing in, and watching my intake has become my comfort zone. Now I need to add more to that list. Weight today=281.8 pounds. Intake: Breakfast=A banana, banana bread, and milk. Work meal=an apple, tuna salad, and unsalted almonds. Dinner=Leftover pasta with meatballs and veggies.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Guns for the blind

Apparently Jimmy Kimmel took some blind people to the range, had them shoot at targets—badly, and made fun of them. Watching the resulting outrage is like hearing that people are upset that Howard Stern made fun of his guests. At some point one has to ask what they thought would happen? Was it in poor taste to tell someone that they shot their guide dog? Sure. Was the entire production cheap humor? Well yes. So what? How many people laughed when Al Pacino drove a car in Scent of a woman? (Raises hand) As a blind man who owns firearms and goes to the range regularly I’m happy to see Kimmel panning the whole blind-with-guns bit. It’s funny. It’s not a public safety risk. I’m kind of offended that this was the best he could manage, but then you have to consider the source. What bothers me is reading the follow-up commentary. “Blind people shouldn’t have guns.” “That’s dangerous!” “What do blind people need guns for anyway?” “Blind people will end up shooting bystanders if they’re allowed to carry a concealed weapon.” “How can a blind person distinguish their target—assuming they can be trusted to carry a loaded firearm in the first place?” Let’s deal with the ownership question first. I can own a car, a boat, a motorcycle, even a helicopter. The assumption is that possession of the item doesn’t necessarily mean I’m going to use it. What’s the difference here? None. Lots of items are dangerous. The idea that a blind person is inherently more likely to do something irresponsible is illogical. What, do they think I don’t know I can’t see? Do people think I’m not aware that bullets have the potential to kill—you know like cars, boats, helicopters…etc? If I want to collect classic cars, sailboats, tilt-wing aircraft, or firearms that is my right as a responsible adult. It’s also my responsibility to follow applicable law and common sense when employing those acquisitions. Blind people don’t have to “need” a gun—it’s enough for them to want one. What I use it for or don’t use it for is my business as long as it’s legal—the same as everyone else. The question of usage is worth discussing for the sake of public awareness. Visually impaired people shoot guns every day. Companies like Crimson trace, Lasermax, and Insight manufacture lasers for handguns, rifles and shotguns which can be used to help spotters get a blind person on target. Several companies make devices that allow a spotter to designate a target remotely for a blind person. Many of my friends have become adept at the use of the MKI eyeball while lining up my range shots. Using proper safety precautions, blind people can enjoy firearms with 0 risks to themselves or anyone else. Recreational shooting requires a bit of effort; but the experience is entirely accessible. As to the idea that a blind person can’t carry a firearm for self-defense, all I can say is that ship sailed a long time ago. Several states, notably Vermont, Wyoming, Alaska, and Arizona don’t require any kind of skill-based assessment in order to carry a concealed weapon. Many others have unrestricted open carry. Blind people in those states have been able to carry firearms for years if not decades. The blatant absence of blind-gunslingers-gone wild™ proves that blind people can be trusted with firearms. Much as in the case of recreational shooting, steps can be taken to minimize risks in a self-defense situation. Frangible ammunition, shot shells, and low density birdshot reduce the likelihood of over penetration. Waiting until a threat is at contact distances ensures that the correct target is engaged. Proper training in firearm safety, emergency response, threat minimization, and self-defense ensures that the right choice is made in a crisis. What I see here is fear, fear that blind people will make a worse decision than a sighted person in a moment of crisis. To which the only response is trust. Every day, millions of Americans get on the road trusting that everyone else, regardless of physical limitation, will drive responsibly. This is no different. Provided a blind person meets the legal requirements for firearm ownership, we have to trust that they will act responsibly with full awareness of their limitations.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The making of an action hero pt34

Entry number 33 I love cooking for large groups. I learned to cook in college—working the short order station at the snack bar and later as a line worker at a cafĂ©. Ever since then my sense of scale has been optimized around 10-20 guests. When I got my first apartment I had issues preparing meals for just one single solitary person. Fortunately I’ve learned to adapt portions to the perspective audience, but I still look forward to doing the big meal—appetizer, entree, dessert, drinks…and all the fixins. This year we’ll be hosting Thanksgiving for my family and the in-laws. The brunette isn’t a fan of hosting since from her perspective I end up doing all the work while she feels underutilized. She cleans and keeps people out of “my kitchen” while I make the food happen. I get to show off while she makes sure I’m not interrupted by little monsters—it’s difficult to make a three course meal when kids want you to race cars. So it works out well from my perspective. The catch this year is the turkey. I’ve never made one or the gravy, or the stuffing…I’ve always done up a ham or pork shoulder. But the brunette and CO want a real turkey day gobbler—which is fine, I love learning to cook new things even if roast turkey isn’t my thing. The challenge will be making the bird come out right the first time. My mother is giving me her electric poultry roaster—thereby saving my oven a grease bath and freeing up work space. So I’m preparing for this holiday extravaganza early. Any time I’m tasked with a new recipe I go through four stages of optimization, five if I have time. 1. I read as many versions of the recipe as possible. There are thousands of variants on most recipes. People love to tweak dishes, make them in a slowcooker, make them healthy, add bacon…etc. I look for the common elements such as the shared ingredients, the time-saving versions, the little tricks that the commenters use, the ways people jazz it up, and the versions that everyone seems to come back to. I like simple no-fuss recipes that let me mix-and-match ingredients. There’s always the five-star version that requires three $50 specific tools, 72 hours of prep time, and a precise coordination of elements to get the dish “just so.” I love to eat those meals, but hate to make them. So my final choice usually involves the words, simple, easy, or Crockpot. 2. I get a test recipe together and make a sample batch. This used to lead to horrific stories of flaming chicken breasts, brined potatoes, sweet and fruity pasta, and the infamous pepper-steak incident. Now I have enough experience that even if the dish doesn’t come out the way I wanted, it’s usually edible. I’ll stick at this stage until I have the recipe where I want it with the right consistency, texture, flavors, and portions. 3. I plan the meal, integrating the dish into the amount of time I will need for preparation, figuring out how much free space I’ll need on the counters and oven, making sure I have all the required tools, and coordinating the dish’s prep time so the meal components are ready-to-serve at the right intervals. I hate being rushed so I really really try to give myself enough time to make the meal happen with as little stress as possible. 4. I review the components and figure out how to do as much of the prep work ahead of time as possible. I dice veggies and save them in zip lock bags. I dice chicken and freeze it so all I have to do is thaw the package and throw it in the pan. I pre-measure ingredients and mix them up in advance. I buy ingredients in containers that are exactly the portions I need for the recipe—no measuring just open-dump-and done. The less work I have to do the day-of the better. 5. I time the process so that I can clean my cookware as I work. I used to use every pot and pan, every spoon and spatula for every recipe. Cleanup after meals was an event in-and-of-itself. Now I wash as I go, loading up the dishwasher so that when it’s time to serve the bulk of my cleaning is already done. With as little counter and sink space as I have cleaning-as-you-go is a matter of necessity as much as efficiency. I won’t be doing a test run. There isn’t going to be a backup turkey. I won’t be taking any time to refine the recipes—it’s going to be an adventure. I don’t have the time, resources, or inclination to run a full-on thanksgiving dinner twice in one month. I won’t be completely without resources. My mother in-law has agreed to come over early and “help” in the kitchen. For those who don’t know me, the last three words of that sentence hold legendary portent. I absolutely—unequivocally—without reservation hate having people in “my kitchen.” Cooking is a “thing.” Everyone does it differently. Everyone has their own process, their own pet peeves, their own recipes…etc. 99.99% of the time people who offer to “help” cause me more frustration than their assistance is worth. There’s only so much space in our apartment. While they’re helping, I have to work around them. People question ingredients, preparation requirements, and the order of operations. It isn’t intentional, they’re trying to help, but by the time they’re done, I’m usually in a mood—and not a good one. The brunette and I have a running joke. I tell people that she needs to learn her place—outside my kitchen! Ok, it’s only partially funny. My mother in-law is one of maybe three people I can work with who makes cooking easier, faster, simpler. She cleans pans in seconds. She offers helpful suggestions that are actually helpful and relevant. Somehow she’s never in my way. She’s perfectly happy doing that one thing I don’t have time to do like blending the mashed potatoes or glazing the ham or filling the pot with the drippings from the slowcooker—the one thing that is just challenging enough that it slows me down. She follows directions! It’s like magic. So I’m going to have help—good help. I’ve started researching the core components—turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, and mashed potatoes. At first glance making a thanksgiving dinner is terrifying. I have my mashed potato recipe down, but everything else is a separate process, a separate recipe, a new and complex way to screw up the traditional holiday meal. Stuffing doesn’t look that bad really. Gravy looks time consuming, difficult to perfect, but generally doable. Cranberry sauce comes in a can—easy. No, it’s the freaking bird which gives me pause. Let me step back for a moment. Now that I’ve done the research, Figuring out how the meal will go depends on how many people will be there and picking a theme. Between my parents, my mother in-law, my brother in-law, my brothers and their family/significant others, the potential for 4-6 friends, the brunette, and me, I’m cooking for between 10-18 people. I’m counting conservatively—any overage will get saved as leftovers. That means I need about a fifteen pound turkey, at least two desserts, one or two more sides besides the potatoes and stuffing, munchies for guests to graze on before dinner, drinks, and serving materials for everyone. Thanksgiving is potluck so I can count on guests to handle one of the desserts, one of the sides, and a second option from either category. If I make a salad and a dessert, maybe biscuits or bread, I should be fine. I’ll send an email requesting specifics so I can start planning the shopping. I have a couple options for theme. In this case “theme” means the general seasonings and ethnic ingredience I will use to bring the meal together. Initially I wanted to try a Southern bourbon themed meal—bourbon spice rubbed turkey, bourbon pumpkin sage cornbread stuffing, fried green tomatoes, cocktails…then I realized that I was one of the few people who would really go for that theme. I considered bacon—turkey rubbed with butter and bacon drippings and wrapped with bacon, apple and bacon stuffing, pepper bacon gravy, bacon wrapped asparagus skewers…great! except I’m pretty sure it would end up being far too heavy. I considered Indian seasonings, Ethiopian spices, or a Mexican chipotle style all without success. No, especially for my first effort, something simpler and less exotic is in order. I’m going with Italian, a spice pallet that most people will like, the rub for the turkey can use olive oil instead of butter, and I’m comfortable with all my side options. I could stick with traditional American—there’s nothing wrong with the classics. But if I’m going to go to all this effort, I might as well make a project out of it. I love the grand gesture, the big show, the elegant presentation. This is a chance for me to have some fun…so Italian it is. Now back to the bird. It seems there are lots of turkeys—flash-frozen, fresh, frozen, free range, brined, deboned…the list goes on. Initially I wanted a “fresh turkey. Who doesn’t want fresh right? Except that fresh doesn’t mean what it sounds like, it just means the turkey is sent from slaughter straight to the vender. That’d be fine save that the meat is sitting around unfrozen for 48-72 hours before someone picks it off the shelf. That’s not fresh in my book. Ironically, the freshest turkeys are the ones that are flash-frozen just as they are slaughtered. There’s probably some preservatives in there, but you’re getting a turkey that once thawed is functionally closer to the time of slaughter than its “fresh” brethren. So frozen it is. The other big question is brined or unbrined. Brining is just what it sounds like. The turkey is injected with salt water to keep it moist. Some cooks prefer to do this themselves with their own special blend of spices, but you can buy turkeys in the store pre-brined all be it without the secret family seasonings. The alternative is to “salt” the turkey the day before cooking. After it is thawed, you rub the turkey, inside and out, with a layer of salt and spices. The sodium draws the juices to the surface where they take on the flavor of the rub. Also, the salt locks the juices in—resulting in a juicier bird. If I go this route, called dry brining, I can pick my own seasonings and my turkey won’t be filled with chemical salt water. That’s good enough for me. So what I want is a flash-frozen unbrined 15 pound turkey. I’ll need to finalize the recipes for each dish and get a master grocery list together. Over the next few weeks I will go over each recipe here. If anyone has any feedback or suggestions I’d love to hear from you. Weight=280.6 Intake: Breakfast=health shake. Work meal=a pepper turkey wrap and an apple. Dinner=3 home made chicken biscuits.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The making of an action hero pt33

Entry #34 This mission update comes courtesy of a few weeks of down time. September forced me to reconsider some of my training practices. I reached a point where I was exercising every day. I felt great and was losing weight. I hit my August goals with room to spare. Then I started having “issues.” My knees began complaining. My back began twanging. My weight hit a plateau. I felt terrible. A certain amount of discomfort is to be expected—no pain, no gain. The issue being that it was getting more and more difficult to get “life” done. I could feel my mental fortitude slipping. I’m not much on self-help feel-good philosophy. I’d rather read a how-to book than attend a counseling session. That said, one of the lessons I’ve taken from internet feel-good wisdom is that identifying a problem is half of the solution. I found two issues in this case. First, I was looking at the club workout from the wrong perspective. There are two kinds of exercise. There’s aerobic—running, swimming…etc and anaerobic—weightlifting, wrestling…etc. The first can be done daily provided one takes the proper steps to protect muscles and joints. The second is designed to break down muscle tissue with short bursts of effort. The muscle then heals stronger than before—provided one gives it time to do so. I viewed the club workout as more of the first and less of the second, which is why I strove to push through it every-day. The result was that I didn’t give myself much time to heal. I fought through it for a while because initially it was helping and because later I didn’t want to quit, frail flesh be damned. I didn’t want to have to tell people that I had failed. The second issue is what the brunette not-so-lovingly calls my martyr complex. Honor, duty, responsibility aren’t just words to me. They are the words I strive to live by. Usually that works to everyone’s benefit. The dark side of the coin comes when, to meet my obligations, I “suffer” needlessly—on purpose. In this case I limited my diet, structured my time, and virtually cut ordering out and alcohol cold turkey. Much like with the exercise, those choices initially benefitted me. I was proud of making good decisions. Starting a new chapter in my life was fresh and exciting. Every victory supported the idea that I was going to win this time. Then I started losing motivation. It got more and more difficult to get up in the morning. My appetite spiked outside meal times. I didn’t want to “do” things as much…but I didn’t want to quit. I looked at my intakes for September and found some not-so-great trends. Either I was sticking rigidly to the diet or I was taking a day off. There weren’t any terrible choices in there; just an evolving cycle of swinging that clearly was going to get worse if steps weren’t taken. Even though I was succeeding, mostly, it felt like I was failing because I wasn’t losing weight at the previous rate. It’s fair to say that some of my issues came from simply losing the novelty of living better. It’s also fair to say I made some short term positive decisions that had long term negative consequences. So I found myself discouraged, in physical discomfort, and generally not feeling great. Fortunately the scale saved me. Watching my weight yo-yo around showed me that I was losing control. I took a week off from exercising to let my body heal. My weight ranged from 281 to 286 depending on my intake. That too pushed me to start paying more attention—some variation is fine, but there shouldn’t be 4 pound swings in a normal week just “because.”I feel like I’ve been learning all the lessons of the past four months over again—which is maybe true in a sense. It’s one thing to stick to the plan when things are going well. It’s something else when it clearly isn’t working. So I’m going to work on training my mind-and-body. Some of the upcoming projects include: • As of last week, I’m exercising every other day. I’ll go twice on weekends if I feel like it, but otherwise my body needs the healing time. • I have started baking. Making my own desserts is a skill I’ve wanted to develop for a while. This will let me enjoy some sweets while controlling the quantity and quality in the house. The first batch of pumpkin bread came out really well. I’ve added several new pieces of cookware to my Amazon wish list in order to facilitate this endeavor. • I am setting aside a portion of each pay check’s discretionary funds. I will use those funds to save up for a single expensive item or service. This will help me work on impulse control. • I am focusing on action hero equipment and beast-cave ™ so as to keep the sense of purpose and fun going. Somewhere I lost sight of the fun factor…so I need to get that back. • I am finally switching laptops to my windows 7 machine. I’ve been putting that switch off for months now despite mounting technical issues with my poor 7 year old XP platform. I need to simply do things that need to get done, not keep putting them off. • We will be hosting thanksgiving this year for our combined families. I’m going to make the obligatory turkey, stuffing, gravy, and mashed potatoes. I’ve never cooked a bird before, so even with my mother’s electric poultry roaster, this should be an adventure. I’ve been reading up on recipes and techniques in preparation for the big day—giving me something new to obsess over. This has been lots of fun. I am getting tons of new meal ideas. • I’ve discovered kickstarter. It’s like having your own personal department of Qs developing new and exciting gear for the next mission. This is one of those places where I will always be able to find something novel to obsess over. • I am going to sit down this week and go through the cardio portion of the club video myself. I’ve been trying to get a sighted friend to assist but schedules never seem to sink up. It’s time for a step forward down the workout path. • I am rededicating myself to gaming. Saturday we had a great pathfinder session run by lady Deathquaker. Sunday I ran my current exalted group and for the first time felt like the game was going somewhere. I’m trying not to push for games just “because.” It’s so much more fun when I’m into the experience. • I am pimppin out the chromebook and putting forth a meaningful effort to start using it as my mobile computing platform. Now that I’ve figured out how to theoretically use it with office products, it looks much more attractive than in the past. I have a ways to go, but things are heading back in the right direction. I have projects to work on, a plan, and the better part of my motivation back. Weight today=285. Intake: Breakfast=A breakfast health shake with oatmeal, spinach, strawberries, blueberries, banana, and almond milk. Work meal=A turkey wrap, Greek yogurt, an apple, and a hand full of unsalted almonds. Dinner=a small portion of Mexican chicken rice and a piece of pumpkin bread.