Thursday, July 31, 2014

Driving to Vacationland

Vacation is finally here!  We got up at 3:30 and hit the road well before 5:00. Hit traffic before we'd gone five full miles. Soon enough, though, we were on our way.

I took this shot when we hit the Rest Stop in New Hampshire. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

New Player’s Handbook is Coming Next Month

This week’s Legends and Lore previewed the classes in the new Player’s Handbook, sparking quite a bit of discussion online.  Much of the preview was material that we’ve seen before or that Wizards of the Coast (WotC) has at least previewed before, but there were some surprises, too.  My initial reaction was that WotC has done an excellent job putting together a wide-ranging set of classic classes and subclasses, that those looking to customize their characters in minute detail should find quite a bit of material here for exactly that purpose.  

That said, WotC stuck closely to the D&D’s classic class list, which is a reasonable choice for a primary rule book, but it also leaves the door open to some creative homebrewing of niche subclasses. That's not a bad thing.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Quote of the Day

"Men like to think they control [the world] but this is nonsense. Women rule, as they always have. They tell a man he is god-like. The man believes them and is in their thrall.  For without them to tell him, he becomes merely a man."
 -- David Gemmell, from The Ghost King

I'm really enjoying this book. It has so far proven to be quite quotable. I'll put another one up tomorrow. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

San Diego Comic Con News Round-Up

Comparisons to Xena are obvious, and I can't help wondering if Lucy Lawless is either pissed or relieved that she didn't get put into this role five years ago.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Avengers 2: Age of Ultron Concept Posters

They've been teasing this concept art all week.  It's been like a jigsaw puzzle, with the final piece coming out just today.

Heard This Morning Before My Run

Me: Do you think I can run without a shirt this morning.

Sally: No.

Me: Too fat or too old?

Sally: Both.

Me: *sigh*  That's what I thought

Saturday Reading Room: GotG and Triathlon

Kind of a slow Saturday so far.  I'm feeling lazy, but at some point, I have to get off my butt and go run.  This post represents my desire to procrastinate.

Screenshot from Rotten Tomatoes
Twenty-five reviews, and no one thought the movie was stupid?  Wow.  The reviews on this movie are becoming a meta-story about the industry itself.  I'm becoming curious as Hell to see which reviewer has the balls to be the first to say that he/she hated this thing.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Five Things on a Friday: The Business of Comics is Booming

Sally and the girls aren't home.  I've got a beer open, and I'm watching the WWE's "The Ladder Match 2: Crash & Burn" on Netflix.  It's gratuitous violence, but I'm enjoying it immensely.
1.  Comic Sales Hit $870 Million in 2013 (Major Spoilers)
Captain America Promo Poster for
Avengers 2: Age of Ultron
This is from a base of $715 million in 2011 and $805 million in 2012, which gives us something like 10% growth year-on-year.  What’s exciting about that is that the growth appears to be sustained, that if we hit a billion dollars sometime in the next year, comics may no longer be a loss-leader for films and television but may actually become a standalone industry again.  That doesn’t suck.
From the article, the breakdown was as follows:
 - Comic Stores orders of Monthly Comics - $340M
 - Comic Store orders of Graphic Novels - $170M
 ------ Direct Market Total: $510M
 - Book Stores - $245M
 - Digital Comics - $90M

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Ant-Man Concept Poster

This came out yesterday at the San Diego Comic Con, courtesy of Entertainment Weekly.

Ant-Man has never been one of my favorites, but that poster works. Hopefully they'll make him the crazy Ant-Man who becomes Yellowjacket.  

Monday, July 21, 2014

Commute Report: Riding is Racing

New Rule:
If I pass you up a climb, and you accelerate to pass me back, you have to then ride hard enough to drop me. Otherwise, you have no right to look shocked / angry / surprised that I've held your wheel up the rest of the climb, down the next descent, and around the corner, only to destroy you as we sprint to the line in the Park.  

In the case I've just described, you are the one who started racing. All I did was bring it home hard enough to show you who was boss. 

Weekend Round-Up: Dreaming of Maine

It's Monday, and that's a bummer, but we've got less than two weeks until we leave for Maine. That is awesome!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Saturday Reading Room: What I'm Reading this Summer

The news is all crap this morning, and I refuse to share any of it.  I don't want to talk about the jet--you can read about that everywhere--and while the NYT has an interesting article about part-time employment trends, I have no idea how to summarize it effectively.  This morning's Saturday Reading Room is therefore actually what it claims to be--a reading room.

Here are four books I'm planning to read in the next few months.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Five Things on a Friday: Super Changes with Superheroes!

Happy Friday!  
It’s supposed to be gorgeous this weekend, and I don’t mind telling you that I cannot wait.
1. Thor is a girl
The gender-switching plot is a common
trope for comics.  Stephanie Brown's
"Girl Robin" is my favorite version of it.
The thing about making Thor a girl is that it’s been done before.  In one of the ancient stories (Prose Edda?  I can’t remember), Thor loses his hammer to a frost giant, and Loki turns him into a woman, so that he can woo it back.  In female form, Thor agrees to marry the king of the frost giants, who then throws an enormous feast in his new bride’s honor.  But the giant cannot impress his new bride with anything under the sun, until he finally brings out Mjolnir, which is his greatest treasure.  Thor grasps the weapon, and his female form is dispelled, after which he and Loki slay the frost giants.
My point in all of this is not that Marvel shouldn’t have run this particular story—that Thor becomes unworthy to wield the hammer, that Odin then assigns it to someone new, and that this new someone is a woman.  That may well work, and if it does, that’s great.  I’m all for new storytelling as long as its good.    

Thursday, July 17, 2014

I Hit the Wall Yesterday

It wasn’t a particularly hard day or anything, but I was stuck at my desk all day, and perhaps as a result, my back hurt by the time I got home.  I’d already decided to swim, though, and with Sally and the girls out for the evening, I stuck to the plan and headed for the pool.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Wanderhaven Sourcebook: The Priestess of Artemis and Background: Temple Orphan

As we were setting up our D&D Characters last weekend for our upcoming vacation campaign, my daughter Emma announced that she wanted to play a priestess.

Me: What kind of priestess?

Emma: I wanna be a priestess of Artemis.

Me: Um… what?

Emma: Artemis!  You know, she’s the goddess of the moon and hunting.  Oh Daddy, you’re so silly.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Bastille Day!

Stage 10: L'ouch!

I don't know how much the General Classification is going to change today, but there's a pretty big battle brewing for the Maillot à Pois.  

I'm expecting to see Joaquim Rodriguez finish with the polka dots today, but we may also see somebody like Tommy Voekler attack.  With it being Bastille Day, we're guaranteed to see a bunch of French riders go right from the start.  Should be pretty entertaining.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Pics from the Basement

Sally and I reorganized the basement today. It's not my favorite chore, but I'm pleased with the way it came out.

Three Weeks to Maine

I'm planning some rough water swim routes while we watch Tony Martin detroy the peloton in today's stage.  Martin is crushing these guys.

Anyway, this first one is around Black Island, which you can see easily once you're out past the rocks that mark the entrance/exit to Northeast Cove.  Last year, I kept telling myself I was going to swim around the island, but when you're actually out in the water, it's a long way.  I swam for 20 minutes and felt like I'd gotten at most half way out.  I was probably a little closer than that, but it's hard to judge distances from the middle of a lake.

At nearly two miles round trip, this turns out to be a little longer than I thought it was.  That's probably a good 50 minutes in the water at the very least.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

This Morning's Workout...

...was a swim/run brick:

5 x 100 @ 1:30 warm up
200 kick

1000 yard timer

50 easy

100 easy kick

50 easy

8 x 50 @ 1:05 alternating fly/free
 -- Fly 50s @ 95% effort

Saturday Reading Room: It's All Sports!

Everything that's interesting is sports-related.
I don't know that I would call that a "mountaintop" finish, exactly, but it's definitely an improvement over the sprint stages we've been having.  That said, Wednesday's cobblestoned stage was a classic.

Makes sense to me.  It's also probably the way the coaches themselves prefer it.  "Win at any cost!"

Friday, July 11, 2014

Five Things: It’s Here!

Another hodgepodge this week.  It's stuff that I find interesting, but your mileage may vary.

1.  D&D’s New Edition
The new edition of Dungeons and Dragons is here, and for what it’s worth, I like it.  My favorite write-up on the subject came from Harbinger of Doom (it’s in two parts, here and here), but briefly, there were several things that I thought were noteworthy.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Gently Used Bicycle Seats?

I busted the seat on my foldie on Thursday--the third time that's happened in the last three and a half years. So I walked over to the bike shop across from my office and asked for "the cheapest saddle you've got that's not a giant old-lady seat."  Not that I have anything against giant monster-saddles, but the foldie is already heavy enough without adding even more weight, and my commute is short enough that I hardly need all that padding.

Fourth of July Camping Trip

Who knew we were gonna wind up freezing?  It's been raining in sheets all day, and after a minor three-day heat wave, the temperature has fallen into the low 60s.

It took some doing, but I finally got the fire going. 

This fire may not look like much, but getting it going with
wet wood was NOT easy.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Four Things on a Friday: R-Day & July 4th

We're going camping this weekend.  It rained all night, and it's supposed to rain again today, but after that, it should be a good weekend.

The good news is that I talked Sally and the girls into waiting until after the thunderstorm to head out for our trip.  The bad news is that everyone in the house was pissed at me last night for being a spoilsport all night long last night.  Some of our friends are already out there, and it drove Sally crazy thinking about them having fun without us.


Truthfully, I'm not liking the way this weekend has started out.

Despite the inauspicious beginning, it's still the Fourth of July, and that makes it our nation's burthday.  In celebration, we'll have FOUR things on a Friday this week, not five.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Ben's Workout

Warm Up:
5 x 100 @ 1:35 (easy)

A Bunch of Old Pictures

I found most of these over the weekend cleaning out some of the pictures that were with my mom's old stuff.

My mother died back in 2011, but when she was alive, her house oftentimes felt more like a museum than an actual living space.  There were boxes and boxes of pictures.

It took me years to go through them all.  First off, because I didn't know what to do with all of them, and secondly, just because I found it difficult to confront my parents' legacy.  They were vibrant and alive and a big part of my life, until one day they weren't.  All the crap that goes along with that was just... tough.

Anyway, these were some of my favorites out of the many boxes.  They show parts of my life that weren't well-chronicled elsewhere.

This is my skateboarding out in front of the Captain's Hooch
at Camp Garryowen, Munson, Republic of Korea.
Every Squadron Commander's dream is to get an Adjutant on a skateboard.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Movie Review: Transformers 4 (The Quest for Dinobots)

I took Emma to see the new transformers movie Sunday night, Transformers 4: Age of Extinction, and we both really, really liked it.  I don’t love everything Michael Bay does, and in fact, I didn’t even like the last transformers movie, but this one was a big step up.  It’s been getting a ton of heat from critics.  Most have complained that the movie’s plot is nonsensical, but I don’t see it.  That was maybe a valid criticism of the second movie, and yeah, the third transformers movie was certainly mess in terms of its storyline, but this one?  This one made perfect sense.  It was silly, and there were at least two hole in the plot, one of which was gaping, but the story--why are we doing this, and who are these people?--that all tracked.

*spoilers below*