Weekend Coffee Share: A Good Time Was Had By All

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you I’m fairly exhausted because I spent Friday night and all day yesterday helping my brother move back to Mississippi from Louisiana. It was nothing like my own moving fiasco in June. It went smoothly but it still required me to spend a night away from home and a whole day doing physical labor.

weekendcoffeeshare_2015

My brother, our dad, and I hit the road around 6 on Friday evening for one of the southernmost points in Louisiana. Since we had to go through NOLA to get there, we picked up the Little Jedi on the way. He spend the night with us and helped us load the truck yesterday. I don’t get to hang out with LJ as much as I’d like to, so it was good to have a few hours with him. He’s quite a good Spanish-speaker and I am not, so we got up to some linguistic antics Friday night.

Packing and unloading the truck wasn’t bad, as I judge these things. It took three hours to load and an hour-and-a-half to unload. The drive was pretty scary, though. My brother reserved the smallest panel truck U-Haul rents for the move, but when he went to pick it up, the only trucks they had available were the 1500-cubic-foot behemoths, so we had to come home in one of those.

I’m talking about truck that’s rated for 20,000 pounds and has a 30-foot-long cargo bay. Just to give you a frame of reference, the usable space on an 18-wheel flatbed is only 42 feet long. Needless to say, bringing that thing through the middle of New Orleans with its six lane traffic and curvy bridges was interesting, but we made it without incident.

And I’d tell you I am looking forward to October. I’m hoping I finally get to have a good month where everything¬†runs smoothly and I have the time to get my blogging back on track. This last summer was the most difficult one I’ve had in years, and September was a little better, but still not great — that’s one reason I’ve been off the blogs so much lately. But maybe things are settling down. I certainly hope so.

Sourcerer-logo (1)

Then I’d have to finish my coffee and run, because one of my grandson’s goldfish died this weekend, and I have to get ready for the funeral. And if the weather holds tonight, we might just get to see a lunar eclipse with a full moon at perigee. That hasn’t happened in almost 30 years, and won’t happen again until 2033, I am told. So as much as we need the rain that’s moving in tonight, I hope it holds off long enough for us to see this eclipse. Either way, we’re busting out the telescope at moonrise and looking at some craters.

Happy Sunday! Don’t forget to add your coffee post to the linkup at Part Time Monster and share it with #WeekendCoffeeShare on Twitter.

Advertisements

WeekendCoffeeShare: “H-A-L-O” Edition

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you I did something yesterday I haven’t done in almost a year. I disconnected myself from the Internet, aside from acknowledging a couple of private messages, just because I wanted to. I’ve been off a day or two here and there for things like work, family, and sickness this year. But I haven’t done it just to do other fun things since my vacation last October. It felt good.

weekendcoffeeshare_2015

I spent the whole day with the grandson. We were to go to a dove hunt yesterday with my brother. It’s an annual thing I’ve been doing with my Dad since the 90’s. Dad didn’t make it this year because he was in Florida. The three of us who were to go got our wires crossed and didn’t make it to the hunt, so we did some target shooting and had lunch, then the grandson and I came home.

On the drive back, we listened to the first quarter of a college football game on the radio. We were so into it by the time we got home, we ended up listening to the second quarter together in the boy’s room. I’m not that into football, but it’s a fun experience when you have a seven-year old who’s into the game to high-fives you when your team scores. By halftime our team was so far ahead we knew the rest would be boring — football on the radio is only exciting when the game is close — so we decided we needed to do something else.

As we were talking about what to do next, the boy said, “So when are we going to get on some ‘H-A-L-O’ together like you promised?” He’s taken to randomly spelling things out for some reason. I said, “How about ‘n-o-w?'” So we played, with a short break for dinner, until it was time for him to start winding down for bed.

Then I jumped into my own personal profile, which has significantly higher difficulty settings, and played until my own bedtime. And I have to say, it did me good to zone out on a single-player video game for several hours. My head feels better today than it has in weeks. There’s a bit of a backstory about the boy and the playing of the HALO.

He’s been wanting a shooter for the X-Box for as long as he’s known what shooters are. I’ve been against it — all us grownups have. What he really wants is to pay the super-adult games he sees advertised and hears (only slightly) older kids talking about. Things like Assassin’s Creed and Black Ops. Um . . . NO!

HALO is a sort of compromise after a year and a half of saying no. At least in that one, the opponents are aliens, the splatter quotient is low, and the whole thing tends to the cartoonish.

HALO_Reach

There was a meltdown at one point because he wasn’t allowed to check it out from the library. Not the sort of meltdown that demands discipline for inappropriate willfulness. More the sort that requires hugs and a careful conversation. He was sad because he didn’t understand why we weren’t allowing him to do something that he’d be allowed to do if he were spending the night with a friend who had the game. Yes, he’s willful. He’s also observant, and a wee bit assertive.

So the grownups relented, and I’ve been playing the game with him. I have to say, if the first three missions are any indication, the HALO game we’re playing is no worse than half the stuff he could get at on the tv. As long as he’s supervised with it and his gaming time is limited, I don’t see a problem. It’s a good incentive to get homework done, and it gives us something to interact with in a collaborative way. We’ll probably end up buying it.

We’ve not worked ourselves up to cooperative two-player action yet, because we just play the game differently. He doesn’t understand why I do things like take a sniper rifle and follow several meters behind the rest of the squad whenever possible, for example. And I don’t understand why he does things like shoot barrels for no reason in a game in which ammo is a scarce and precious resource. Or why he likes to charge into a room full of aliens, hold the trigger down, and spin around in circles until he’s either out of ammo or he gets them all. So we’ve developed a way taking turns.

He has a campaign set up on the Easy difficulty level. When he’s playing I mostly watch, but now and then he’ll let me clear a particularly difficult room or show him how to beat a boss when he’s having trouble. That way I learn the maps. He teaches me how to do things I’m not naturally good at. I am terrible at driving the vehicles with the two controller sticks, for example, and he’s way better at throwing grenades accurately than I am.

When he’s not on the machine and no one’s watching tv, I play my own missions on normal difficulty and figure out how to do things he needs to know, but would have a hard time figuring out on his own. Like how to zoom a sniper scope effectively and how to turn on night vision. So we’re both better at this game after a week or so of playing than either of us would be if we played on our own, given how little time we actually spend on it.¬†coffee

The boy’s gotten me back into gaming after years of being out. Because somebody with gaming experience has got to supervise and make sure things don’t get too outrageous, right? ūüėČ It’s the responsible thing to do, lol.

Speaking of which, he’s out doing his regular Sunday thing with some of his other grandparents. Since no one’s using the tv right now, I’m going to squeeze in a mission or two while I can. Check you later this afternoon.

Don’t forget to add your Weekend Coffee Share post to the linkup at Part Time Monster and share it with #WeekendCoffeeShare on Twitter.

Weekend Coffee Share: Hooray, September!

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you I’m glad it’s Labor Day weekend, because I really need the break. August was a marginally better month than June and July — at least there were no car accidents and no one died — but it wasn’t the greatest. I’ll not rehash the whole lousy summer, but I do hope September is the month things finally get better.

weekendcoffeeshare_2015

And I’d tell you I’m so far behind on my blogging, I don’t even know what to do next. Finding enough time to blog¬†is always an issue for me in the late summer and early fall, but it’s been worse than usual this year. The family’s needing a lot of time and the commute I took on when we moved in June just makes things different.

The drive is only 45 minutes door-to-door, but most of it is busy interstate driving, so it doesn’t have much decompression value. I don’t have much time before work to do internet stuff, as I have for most of the time I’ve been blogging. And when I get home it’s either homework time or dinner time. So, most nights, I’m not sitting down to the computer until well after 8 pm, and I’ve had to adjust my bedtime because I have to be up at least two hours before work time.

This is a serious lifestyle change. Up until June, my office was 15 minutes away, whether I walked or drove. It was just as fast to walk as to drive because the driving time was all about finding parking. So, most days I walked, and the 15-minute walk WAS good for decompression.

For most of the time I’ve been blogging, I’ve been able to maintain the productivity to blog mostly every day because I’ve been able to squeeze in an hour before work and/or an hour after, and when I needed to catch up, I could always stay up too late to get stuff done and catch up on my sleep the next night. Those two easy-to-come-by hours have simply evaporated. I’m dealing with a serious crunch here, and I don’t know an easy solution.coffee

I know most bloggers work day jobs and lots of people have busy schedules. ¬†I’m certainly not claiming to be unique or looking for sympathy here. I’m just perplexed by a problem I’ve not had to deal with up to this point. I managed so well for so long, and I don’t want to lose the progress I’ve just spent the last two years making. But I’m not sure at this point that this is going to get better once things settle down toward the end of the month. I’m afraid it’s here to stay, which means that if I want to keep blogging at the pace I’m accustomed to, I’m going to need to figure out something¬†to let go in order to free up the time.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you September is off to a pretty good start for me. In fact if it weren’t for the problem of not knowing how I’m going to recover my blogging time, it would be off to a better start than any month I’ve had since April. I gave most of the day yesterday to my grandson. My wife and stepdaughter have been sick (there’s a nasty virus going around), so they slept in. I made the boy breakfast and then we goofed around for an hour or so. I’d intended to give him some time early in the day and then get to work, but we ended up taking most of the day.

He wanted me to show him how to make paper snowflakes by cutting and folding paper. Our first attempt produced two strips of paper with three identical holes each. The holes were perfectly positioned to turn them into masks, so we each colored one with crayons, added string, and took photos of one another in the cool homemade masks.

weekendcoffeeshareI posted about the snowflake thing on Facebook, and my friend Rose, who’s blogged here¬†on more than one occasion, found me a snowflake tutorial. It took me a few tries to get the folding just right, but it worked, and we spent a couple of hours making snowflakes. The grandson is thinking he wants to make a bunch of them and glitter them up to use¬†as¬†Christmas decorations.

Aside from that, I was up and down, in and out of the house most of the day with him, and before bedtime, he ended up showing me how to play a video game because he wants me to X-Box with him. It was an all around good day, but I never found an hour or two to sit down and do any actual blogging — the internet time yesterday was all 15-minute sessions in which I either scanned comment threads for a few minutes or did quick Facebook posts.

He’s out with another of his grandfathers today — that’s a regular Sunday thing — and everyone else is in bed, so I’m going to see how far along I can get with the blogging between now and 3 p.m. today.

Have a great Labor Day if you’re in the U.S., and a fantastic week if you aren’t.

Don’t forget to add your coffee post to the linkup at Part Time Monster, and share it with #WeekendCoffeeShare on Twitter.

Weekend Coffee Share: Of Birthdays and Writing Skills

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you I’m officially a year older than I was last weekend. It’s one of those odd, nondescript birthdays that don’t mean much except that I’ve survived another year, but it’s been a good one. We had a few family members over for snacks and cake yesterday. It’s the first time in several years I’ve celebrated my birthday with anyone outside the immediate family, and it was nice. Having a decent-sized house with porches instead of a tiny, impossible-to-clean apartment really helps.

weekendcoffeeshare

My grandson, who is seven, got me a push-broom for my birthday. He thought of it himself. Sweeping the porches is mostly his job. Since we only moved to this house recently, the novelty of having porches to sweep hasn’t worn off. ¬†It’s still more play than work for him.

We found an old pushbroom in the toolshed when we moved in and I taught him to use it because sweeping a carport, a front porch, and a back patio with a regular floor broom is a ¬†bit of a chore. We broke the old push broom last month, and when my wife and stepdaughter stated talking about gifts for me, he told them I would be “tickled” to get a new push broom. And he was right. I am¬†tickled by it, because it’s a thoughtful gift.

The highlight of the day, though, was the gift my grandson gave me last night after everyone had left. He made me close my eyes and hold out my hand, and presented me with a tiny blue jay feather. I collect cool natural objects, and I have a little shelf where I keep them. I have an old deer antler, a 30-year old rattle from a rattlesnake one of my grandfathers killed a long time ago, and some other things there.

We picked up a barn owl feather and added it to the collection last week, and Blue Jay feathers are somewhat hard to come by in these parts. I was pleased that he picked it up and even more pleased that he saved it and made it into a birthday present for me. After we were done with that and had hugs all around, I helped him start his first short story.

The short story writing is something we’ve been talking about for a week or so. Last weekend, the grandson had to write several pages of sentences to correct a behavioral thing that was getting out of hand. I supervised that and made him report to me at the end of every page, because I wanted to see how quickly he could write a page of sentences for future reference. He did the sentences neatly, and in good time.

coffeeWhen he was done with the sentences he said, “writing is kinda fun,” and we had a conversation about things he could write other than sentences. That conversation turned to stories. What he wants is to write stories on a keyboard and publish them on the internet, but I’ve explained that he needs to start with stories on paper, and that it takes a while to get a story to the point that it’s ready to publish.

So, last night we sat down with a notebook and I helped him start his first story. I taught him about¬†brainstorming, asked questions to help him keep his ideas in order, and helped him with spelling. The conversation started with him asking whether the story should be fiction or nonfiction. I told him to write whichever he wanted, and he decided to write fiction because, he said, “I don’t know any true stories to write about.”

An hour and a half after we started, we ended up with a single hand-written page, plus one line on the next page just to keep the thing rolling when he sits down to work on it again. It’s already better than the first story I ever tried to write, because it has a real plot. Here’s an excerpt.

Once upon a time, there lived a cow. The cow was magical. It was evil. It wanted to rule the world. It had a secret lair and lots of  weapons. It made a war with the king.

The cow said lots of cuss words at the king . . .

He totally came up with that on his own. All I did was ask open-ended questions like “Okay, stories need characters. So, what sort of character do you want to start with? It can be a person, and animal, a talking car . . .” But you can definitely tell from this opening that he spends a lot of time with me.

He asked permission to put that last line in there, and given that I’m trying to teach him to think for himself and take risks with his writing, I thought it was important to let him include it. There’s also a queen who makes her first appearance in the next paragraph, armies with super-cool names, and a dungeon. All in the space of four paragraphs. I’m hoping he comes back to this and is able to sustain this narrative for another page or two.weekendcoffeeshare_2015

I’ve promised to publish the full story for him if he finishes it. We’re negotiating a price for it. I’ve offered him $5. He isn’t sure he wants to sell his VERY FIRST STORY EVER for that small a sum. I can’t say I blame him, but I’m not sure he understands that all I’m going to do is type it and post it, and he gets to keep the physical copy.

And that was my weekend. We’ve got the usual comics coming at mid-week, but I’m not sure what we’re doing tomorrow. It will likely be¬†something brief and strange.

Happy Sunday. Don’t forget to add your coffee post to the linkup at Part Time Monster and share it with #WeekendCoffeeShare on Twitter.