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The Ramblings of MA in PA
Let the geeking commence!

Originally published at Modern Domestic Geek. You can comment here or there.

Merry Christmas everyone!

As end of the years go, this one was pretty good. In some ways, I did get over the malaise that was hounding me this summer. One way was by starting on a course of anti-anxiety and anti-depressant meds. They’ve helped, though most of my anxiety is situational, though these help me cope.

My weight is lower than it was last year at this time, and while this holiday season has curtailed my exercise – I’ve spent the balance of the summer and fall spending a good deal of time at my gym. And I like it. I had a personal trainer for the fall, and started some things I never thought I would do. Namely – I ran. The first time I did it, I couldn’t believe I was actually doing it. But what I love the most are the endorphins, those are the best mood enhancer yet.

In other goals I had for this year – I had wanted to get to level 80 in WoW before the Cataclysm hit. I didn’t, but I did get to level 70, and I’ve just been enjoying playing so much when I get the chance. I’ve also been playing LOTRO occasionally, and loving that as well.

As for my basement – is there less stuff down there? Oh hell no. But that’s okay – I’ve been ‘thinking’ about what I want to get rid of. Maybe.

I did see a bunch of pretty good movies this year. I’m still working on either a Best Of list, or just a strict top ten. I’ll work on that this week.

All in all, the year started off with a bunch of pretty crappy things happening. But I’ve seen growth, in my boys, in me, and I think we are ending the year on a high note.

Cooking wise, I spent most of my holiday cooking time making candy. I learned to make pralines, and have been doing what I can to leverage them for other things. So that was a highlight, also with this brown sugar and butter glaze that was amazingly good.

And have I found the fun? Somewhat. Working on having fun, and enjoying what I do, when I do it. I don’t always succeed, but I’m trying.

So what do we have in store for 2011? Hopefully, we will be moving, and I’ll be applying my domestic geekery to a new home. I want to keep exercising, and I want to be able to run a 5k at some point next year.

So, if anyone is still reading this blog – have a very happy holiday, which ever one you celebrate. And may we all have a happy and fun new year.

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Originally published at Modern Domestic Geek. You can comment here or there.

Up in the dark early of the morning, worrying about budgetary concerns. In the midst of that, reading the coverage of the executive that was recently ousted from Apple.

His last name is Papermaster, and the only thing registering in my brain is now that he doesn’t work for Apple, I wonder if he will go work with Yomiko Readman, who is my favorite anime character of all time.

And yes, she is a paper master. She has the super power of being able to make paper do whatever she wants.

This is the crazy stuff that runs through my brain at 4am when I can’t sleep.

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Originally published at Modern Domestic Geek. You can comment here or there.

Once again, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted here. I think I’ve started to realize why. This week is has been a very hard one – very traumatic, dealing with some people that might be called friends, but probably shouldn’t be. And my weight stayed the same instead heading downward, and this overhanging malaise, which I think everyone I live with is sick of dealing with. And I’ve been trying to figure out what’s going on, and how to fix it.

I think I may have figured it out.  Dan and I were talking earlier, and I was saying how I felt like I was invisible, and that I don’t have anything outside of work and taking care of the household.  And on my way home from seeing a movie with two girlfriends, I realized what it was – I need to find the fun, because it’s been missing.

I used to write fiction.  I wrote about six novels then self-published them on line.  When asked why I didn’t get them ready for a publisher, it was because the writing had been fun for me, and publishing them would have been work.  It was the same with knitting – after I was done with writing, I picked up knitting, taught myself, and had a lot of fun doing it.  It was a lot of work, as was the writing, but it was fun.  And that was why I never took any knitting commissions – because then it would have been work.  I took up podcasting, and that was fun, and stopped when it was more like a job.  The same with blogging.  I think part of the reason I haven’t been posting more here, is because it wasn’t fun anymore – it was too much like work.

And now I’m not doing anything.  Okay – I’m working two jobs.  The first is the full-time career thing – that has been particularly unrewarding and soul sucking, but pays the bills.  And then there is taking care of the boys, managing the household, keeping things clean and organized, feeding the troops, managing the finances, supporting the boys in what they do, and running the errands. Included in that is my weight loss journey and going to the gym (yes, I joined one), because I have to take care of myself so I can be there for the boys. And this job is ultimately more rewarding than the first job, but it is a job.  What I don’t have is that fun something – the thing that challenges me and is defines me as more than the wife or the mom.  I’m really starting to hate being called those titles, not because I don’t like being a wife and a mom, but that it seems to define me as only that – and I’m not.

And games aren’t enough.  I thought I could fill that gap with Farmville, or WoW, or one of the many video games we have at home.  They were good fillers I thought, because it left me to be available when needed, whether it was for a meal, or whatever, and I could stop what I was doing so that if someone needed a meal, or something else, I’d be available.

So I need to find the fun.  And I know it has to be something social, whether online or in real life.  I’ve felt way to isolated, to the point where large parties are rather…upsetting to me, that I feel like I don’t know how to behave properly, so I just fade into the background.  So, I need to find something social, something with a bit of a challenge, even something I would need to learn, but ultimately, something that is fun.  Maybe a gaming group, though I don’t know of anyone that would want me for that.  I know that I don’t need to be famous, or well-known, I just need to interact with more people more often.

Because we all need more fun.  And I need it really bad.  Because I need to cure this malaise, and start feeling better about myself soon, or I might just fade away.

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Originally published at Modern Domestic Geek. You can comment here or there.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here, and my last posted was redacted because I felt it was so negative. That being said, my motivation to continue this site has been tested. As it is right now, I think the podcast is dead, and will only be revived by some sort of miracle. But I do want to continue to blog here, though I will need to make some changes.

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Originally published at Modern Domestic Geek. You can comment here or there.

No, there still is no podcast on casual gaming.  I’m spending too much time playing Farmville.  No, I’ve tried recording my intro several times and each time, I sound very angry, and in some cases, pretty nasty.  I’ve chalked it up to the fact that I’ve become very disillusioned by the whole podcast novel scene and social media in general.  And rather than rant, over what I feel the majority of people are doing wrong, I’m going to talk about the one who I feel is doing it right at this point.

It’s Nathan Lowell.  His series Golden Age of the Solar Clipper is some of the best podcast novels you will ever listen to.  Recently, the first one was published in trade paperback.  I couldn’t be happier for him.  I purchased a copy for signature AND a copy for my Kindle.  This is one author who is doing it right.  How?  Here are some of the things that make him MY favorite author right now.  Other than the fact when I got his book on my Kindle, I tore through it, even though it was the third time I was ‘reading’ it.

1.  He doesn’t over market.  Nate quietly came on the scene with Quarter Share, which is a tale of an everyman who finds a life for himself after the death of his mother.  And it’s on a spaceship.   It’s a different brand of sci-fi.  And it’s incredibly well-written.  And then he released several other books.  Very quietly, and without much fanfare.  It was only after I met him at Balticon two years ago that I actually found out about his work.  And then I listened to everything he had out – and it kept me sane while I was planning my wedding.

2.  He keeps writing.  And writing.  He’s legendary for completing NANOWRiMO in 15 days.  But he keeps putting out content.  I can’t wait for his next books.  But I think he spends the time writing that others spend on talking about their projects.  And it shows.

3.  He quietly announced when his book was being published, and it wasn’t done like it was a commercial to buy the book.  It was more – hey guys, something awesome happened to me, and I want to tell my friends about it.  And I was so happy for him, it got a bit dusty in front of my computer.

4.  The Kindle version of his book – was priced right in my sweet spot, so much so that I ordered it on the spot.  I usually dither over Kindle purchases, but this one was instantaneous.  I don’t know if he had anything to do with it, but whoever it did, did it right.  Lately I thought some offerings from people in this space were not worth what they were charging for it.  When in doubt – and if you have a choice – lower the price.

5.  He reads his books in his audio productions, and he reads them straight.  And they don’t need any embellishment at all.  The writing speaks for itself.  In this day where it seems more the norm than the exception to have a full-cast audio – I find Nate’s stuff refreshing, uncomplicated, and the straight reading still lets the story shine through.  Because it’s that good.  And can I tell you how nice it is not to be told how I should feel about how an episode ended?   There was actually one podcast novel that I stopped listening to because the author pissed me off with the after=episode commentary.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that Nathan Lowell is so good, that others want to evangelize for him.   And he spends his time writing more, which in my opinion, makes him the better writer.   And everyone is the luckier for it.  I wish more podcast novelists would follow his example.  Now not everyone can be Nathan Lowell, but it’s something everyone should strive for.

Note:  I’ve tried to make this post as positive as I can be, because there has been so much in the social media space that has been annoying the crap out of me as of late, and I do my best to stay as positive as I can, because I don’t want to hurt feelings, or project what might be a symptom of my life woes onto something that someone put a whole hell of a lot of work into.  Because I respect the work that was done, but at this point, I feel seriously over-marketed to, and in some cases in very insincere ways.  Make sense?  I hope so.

And go to Amazon, search for Nate’s stuff, and buy it.  Because his work deserves your book buying dollar.

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Originally published at Modern Domestic Geek. You can comment here or there.

So – in the past two weeks, the family has been through a lot of changes.  Dan got a new job, working in Center City, and he’s now out of his previous position, which we affectionately called Hell.  This is a fantastic opportunity for him, the start of a new career, the chance to possibly used to the skills he’s gained being in New Media, and a pay raise.  But with these changes, come some changes to the family.   I could use some advice, or discussion on two issues – ones that have a very domestic flavor to it.

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Originally published at Modern Domestic Geek. You can comment here or there.

Sometime in the future, you will hear a podcast that Sara and recorded about casual gaming.  In it we talk about Farmville, and Sara convinced me to play.  And even though she is my podcasting partner and dear friend, she is evil, evil, evil.  For I am blaming any lack of domesticity this week on Farmville.

I’ve been playing for a week, and I’m obsessed.  Okay, not really obsessed, I only check my farm whenever I check Facebook.  Which is a lot.  Of course, I can only check it when I have a computer near, since I cannot do anything with Farmville on the iPhone.  Which is probably a good thing.  For the iPhone, I have Zombie Farm, which works sort of the same way as Farmville, without the gifts from friends, and instead of animals, you grow zombies, and when you have a certain amount – you invade other farms and have the zombies eat farm hands.  It’s all great fun.

While these cute little time-wasters are fun – one aspect of them that I haven’t bought into are the micro-transactions – little purchases of farm cash, or objects within the game to make it a bit easier.  I don’t know if I will cave or not.  For example – I can’t grow the blue tiny zombie without the blue headstone, and that’s a $.99 micro-transaction.  For the moment, I’m going to try and get by without resorting to purchasing anything, but I guess I will see.

So – who are playing these games, and why do you think they are so popular?  As a time suck – really, if I weren’t constantly checking facebook, it would probably be about 10 minutes per day for Farmville, and Zombie Farm varies, since it goes with me every where.

And now, I saw step away from the laptop to make a feeble attempt at domesticity.  I’ll get it back…at some point.

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Originally published at Modern Domestic Geek. You can comment here or there.

Very early on Saturday morning, Dan got up and headed out to the Apple store – to sit in line and wait for the iPad that he had preordered. Ever since the announcement, the phrase ‘Internet in your hands’ has been a constant chorus around here. But hopefully, this device will be what he has been looking for for a year, something that is easily portable that he can write his blog articles on, and read what he wants to read.

Now, he’s been very generous in giving me time with it. I was interested in the e-reader function of the device. I have a Kindle and love it very much, but it really only does one thing. So, a bit of this will touch on what I thought of the e-reader capabilities.

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Originally published at Modern Domestic Geek. You can comment here or there.

I have mentioned that I just got a new fancy, high end, gaming laptop. That runs windows. And because of this, I’m able to install Steam, which is a method by which you can purchase games, download them, and then play them on any computer that has Steam installed on it- it’s the best DRM example I’ve found. It comes from Valve, who is famous for Left 4 Dead, and Portal. One neat thing about Steam is that sometimes you can download demos of games before you purchase them.

Tonight when I loaded up Steam, I was browsing through the store, and found a game from Pop Cap I hadn’t seen before. It was a variation on one of my all time favorite games – Bejewelled.

To explain to you how much I adore this game, I’ve bought it for every mobile device I’ve had with the exception of my classic ipod. It’s probably going on about 5 times I’ve purchased the same game.

This version is Bejewelled Twist and literally, it’s a twist on the old favorite. The player still needs to match three or more gems, but instead of swapping two gems, instead the player selects a square of four, and twists the group of four clockwise till the gems line up. The concept is simple, but the strategy is completely different, especially when it comes to making lines of four or more gems. I found it completely engaging, and I went through the fifteen beginning levels of the zen mode, which is sort an endless game.

There are new challenges with this game, and I look forward to checking them out when I purchase the full version, next time I’m willing to spend some cash on new games.

My next question is – when does this version come out for the iPhone? I’ve bought every game Pop Cap has come out with for my favorite portable device, and I find that I play the classics like Bejewelled, Bookworm, and Chuzzle, on almost a daily basis.

So, if you are a Bejewelled fan, go over to Pop Cap Games and check it out. And if you have a PC (and in a couple months – a Mac) – go check out Steam. Both programs are worth the time, and money.

And I can’t finish without mentioning – Dan had to make the crack that I go and get a high end laptop, to end up playing Bejewelled on it. But of course – I like puzzle games! A review of the laptop is coming, I just want to make sure I really put it through it’s paces first.

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Originally published at Modern Domestic Geek. You can comment here or there.

A couple of weeks ago an auction was held for a little girl’s future.  One of my contributions to the items to be purchased was my shortbread, which is dipped in chocolate.  The lot went for a pretty high price, and the winner asked me for the recipe.  Since I haven’t posted in a coon’s age (I’ve been particularly unmotivated, and not feeling the least bit domestic), I thought I would put the recipe here.   The name Sonic Boom shortbread is what the auction gave it, but it has since stuck.

What I’m going to to is type of the original recipe, then list the minor tweaks I gave it to get my shortbread.  Though – most of it is by instinct – and oven temp and different pans can give different results, so the recipe is not guaranteed.  Full recipe after the break

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