Divine?

City of Stairs (The Divine Cities, #1)City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m going to give this one a weak 3 stars. I struggled with this book on a couple of fronts.

Third person current tense? I’m not sure, but it was like a nature show narrator during certain parts and it really bothered me.

I actually liked the characters quite a lot once I got past the author’s style. I think the indestructible secretary was a little much, but I understood why he was there. It’s useful to have that sort of “action” person around if you are not that action person. There were times when Shara didn’t look like a hugely experienced operative, but I was totally willing to roll with that. I also really liked Mulaghesh.

The world building perplexed me a bit. I wasn’t sure how certain parts of technology were or were not supposed to fit. There was no clear definition of what worked and what didn’t, what people were aware of and what they were not aware of. Eventually I put it into the same category as an 80s Batman movie.

There are lots of parts to this book that look like a thinly veiled condemnation of modern religion. I think there’s a lot of potential conversation stuff in here. For that alone, I would say pick it up and give it a shot.

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Secrets and Star Wars

I went back to look at where I’d left off with all the “secrets” posts and found something I’d forgotten. It’s fortuitous timing as well, since I wanted to talk about the Star Wars trailer that was shown very specifically at half time of the Monday night football game.

Is that really the target audience? Who gets the most help from that – the franchise or the NFL and their saggy ratings? This is not the first time they’ve done the “event” trailer thing – did it help last time?

October 20, 2015

The human body has an amazing capacity to care for itself. My sleep patterns are not always the best and I end up somewhere on the sleep deprived scale more often than I would like. When that happens, my body does (eventually) right itself.

Last night during halftime of the Monday Night Football game a trailer was supposed to premier for the new(est) Star Wars movie. I had no real interest in the football game and wasn’t even planning to have the TV on last night, but I DO actually have an interest in Star Wars (even if it’s only nostalgic at this point). I did all the work I could before going out and settling on the couch. Hit the little buttons to make sure all my screen time was counted. Paid some attention when the commercials aired, just to be sure I didn’t miss anything… then my body decided enough was enough with this whole ‘not sleeping’ thing and turned me off – like a light switch. I woke up just as the announcers declared that halftime was over and the third quarter was ready to roll. I missed the whole damn thing. It’s not that I couldn’t go see the trailer on the internet the very next morning. I could (and did) more than once. It was more the idea that I attempted to actually make the advertising thing “work” and just conked out. On the up side – it still counts because even though I wasn’t actually awake to see any of the other commercials before or after, the little buttons were pushed and the lights were on recording that I was “there” for the big halftime ad. One to the good for the ratings?

Connections

I’ve come to realize that I’ll never be one of those super consistent bloggers. I tend to wander away and not stay connected to my technology. I turn my phone off at night ~ and yes, I hear some of you gasping out there when I say that. It’s not such a big deal to me.

This weekend is a fine example. It’s Labor Day and I’ve avoided being on the computer since about Thursday. What have I been doing? Glad I asked myself…

Spending time with my kiddo. Doing work around the house. Going to cook-outs. Playing games! That’s the one that has taken up a whole bunch of time this weekend. Social interaction LIVE and in person! There was role playing, card playing and board gaming – why put limits on fun?

One of the cool parts of all this game playing was getting out to a local game convention. IF you’re in the Harrisburg area you should definitely check out the Gamers of Summer. I think they’ve got a winter version too – I just can’t seem to lay a hand on the link right now. I’ll update that when I track it down.

It was a lot of fun. I dragged some of my games along with me to share with new friends. I got to play a game I was interested in to see just how much I liked it. I got to PLAYTEST a game too! Looking forward to when Cup Full of Lies is finished and out there for public consumption (from Frugal Mule Games).

An enjoyable, relaxing weekend across the board (see what I did there?) and it didn’t require being connected to the computer or the tablet or the phone. Get out there and play a game!

A possible fan?

This is the next up from my series of “secret” posts about being a ratings family.

October 7, 2015

It still bugs the crap out of me not to be able to tell anyone what’s going on. What I find more interesting is that the reps from Nielsen (still not allowed to talk about anything) remember their accounts and the people they work with so clearly.

We had a “check up” session or some such thing (read: audit) where a rep had to come by the house and go over all the survey questions again, reinstall the computer audit app on the computer and check all the channels on the TV to verify that nothing has changed. Took around 90 minutes total – and yes it was totally redundant.

The part that really threw me off was that our rep remembered our conversation from last time she was here (4 months ago) and asked me how my writing was going…

Wow. I can only imagine if I had fans.

The fact that she remembered, and asked is weirdly motivating. I really feel the need to jump onto another doc on here and just keep typing.

Off I go to do just that thing!

Looking for your input!

I’ve had an idea – or part of an idea knocking around in my head for a while now. It’s an idea that hasn’t gone away, so I figure I should write about it. The problem is – I’m not sure how to approach the topic (or multiple topics) this would cover.

Let me explain.

One of the struggles a lot of modern writers face is the dread “day job”. As it turns out, I really like what I do during my day job. I work in the architecture field. I get to draw buildings all day, figure out challenging three dimensional puzzles, resolve health, safety and welfare code conflicts, and a bunch of other stuff that essentially would sound like ‘details’ to most folks outside the industry. It’s creative and challenging work.

I really want to write (and possibly present a talk on ~ say for a convention) a couple of topics relating to the field of architecture, but just saying “architecture” is such a broad statement I don’t know where to start.

Some of the things I’ve thought of digging into (in no particular order) are:

Archologies

Current building trends (smart building, green building, urban trends… what trend?)

The influence and art of architecture in the movies

The real problem here is even those 3 topics have huge swaths of ground they cover.

Articles like this one on current structures that look like they’re right out of science fiction are cool and inspirational, but do you want more than that? Less than that? Different than that?

So – if you have a thought or opinion on what you might like to hear about from that list leave me a comment (or drop a comment on my Facebook link where this article shows up) I’d really like to hear from you.

Interesting Lesson

Continuing with my series of posts about being a ratings family. I suspect I was over-thinking things, but I have a tendency to do that very thing. I can honestly say the further I get from pushing the button the more happy I am that I don’t have to deal with it anymore.

September 21, 2015

Yes, hitting the little button every 42 minutes is still a pain in the butt. The bigger question is how accurate it all really is. What is their margin of error on any of this stuff? I only ask that because when I got home after 6 hours away I noticed that my wife had simply kept hitting the “OK” button without changing who was actually listed as “watching” or whatever they categorize it as.

Interestingly enough it was still my programmed music channel running through the on-line connection. Different listener, same content… does it make a difference? That’s what our house was doing, so that counts? I suspect they wanted more finite data than that.

While I’m thinking about finite data, part of the deal is programming in whenever a guest is watching with you. I’m not sure how your friends are, but if they’re like mine they pay attention – particularly to new technology. How exactly do you explain your “secret” when it’s movie night?

The first time folks were over I actually turned everything connected to the TV off. Just didn’t use it rather than explain the whole thing. You know what? Didn’t have any kind of negative impact on the evening at all. We played a game, chatted, had some food and generally had a great time that didn’t involve media. Perhaps there’s a lesson here.

The West?

Straight Outta TombstoneStraight Outta Tombstone by David Boop
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was really excited about this collection. It has a story in the Monster Hunter universe and a story in the Dresden Files universe – IN THE SAME BOOK! How could that not be amazing?

Well, it could not be amazing because it’s westerns. Don’t get me wrong, I like them, they’re just not the top of my list. It is rare for me to be deeply impressed with a western – the western is very much my father’s genre.

I liked the Monster Hunter story. I liked the Dresden files story. I didn’t love either of them, but they helped fill that need to read in those universes. I liked the story by Phil Foglio even if I could see the end coming. There were a couple of stories that were MEH. My favorite story – far and away was actually “Chance Corrigan and The Lord of The Underworld” by Michael A. Stackpole. Western, steampunk, magic… definitely a worthy read.

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Adjusting to “The Secret”

Continuing my series of entries from my time as a ratings family. Adjusting to changes isn’t always the easiest…

September 5, 2015

This is becoming a pain in the ass. I hate the fact this company has set the sensor to need you to “check in” every 43 minutes. I’m certain that time has something to do with how long tv shows on networks are or something like that, but it absolutely doesn’t fit how I “watch” things. Let me restate – It’s a pain in the ass.

Example – I have a “smart” TV (the quotes are because I don’t believe it to be particularly smart – it’s simply connected to the net so I can listen to music or watch YouTube on it). I like to put a music provider service up, pick one of my channels and allow the music to be my background while I do stuff around the house. Never gave it much thought. NOW, every 40 minutes or so all the little blinky lights on the Nielsen box go berserk if I’m not paying attention to them. As part of the deal I’m supposed to hit the remote and “check in”. Yes, I know it’s stupidly simple. All I have to do is hit a button. That’s really the point though – before Niellsen it didn’t require any more thought once I turned it on. I would have it on or I wouldn’t. They have by their nature effected their own data. There have been times I have just turned things off when I might have kept them on before because I was tired of having the little blinking lights going off when I was in the middle of doing something else – or worse yet, at the climactic point of the movie I’m watching in the dark.

I’m not sure if there’s a way to change this. I’m certain they’ve got a stack of folks that routinely put a lot of thought into stuff like this and they’ve not come up with a better answer yet, so I doubt I’ll come up with anything either.

As I look over the mail that came in today something else has occurred to me. I can’t just trash the junk mail.

Yes, junk mail still happens but now I can’t toss it without looking at it first. Why? Because Nielsen is so worried about people influencing me and my watching choices that all of their correspondence arrives in unmarked envelopes. No logo, no name on the return address, nothing to give away our “big secret”.

OK, I get it. I know a number of people connected (loosely and distantly for sure) to the media that wouldn’t mind swaying numbers. So now I have to open all the junk mail – just in case.

Desire

You can read one of my stories for free!

I do actually still write. I know I am not nearly as prolific as many (most) of the other writers I know, but it is still something I do.

This past Wednesday the folks that came to the Watch the Skies meeting in person got a physical copy of the fanzine. I bring that up because my story Desire is published there.

IF you’re looking for a short story to read head on over to the website and check it out!