From the Instigator-in-Chief: I am not Myself These Days

I’m shaking things up a bit. For the next little while, I’ll be posting some personal-ish stuff when we don’t have anything else going. I figure doing that gets us more than we get from me posting a status update on Facebook, and we’ve got the space. I haven’t known whether I’ve been coming or going for the last ten or so days.

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I won’t run down the laundry list of problems I’ve dealt with in the last little while. I’m not convinced anyone wants to read that stuff on a blog — that seems to be what Facebook is for — and everybody’s got problems. Tl;dr version: the activity level here has suffered from my lack of attention, and I’m doing my best to ramp it back up, starting today.

What that means is I’m redirecting most of my Facebook time to the blog. My jaunt into Facebook over the last 10 months was about giving that network an honest chance and exploring its potential for growth. I won’t say it has NO potential, but I will say that I’ve failed to make it work, and failed at the expense of the blogging. So done with it for now.

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I’ll still check in on FB and keep up with my Facebook friends. Post a few status updates a week and share a link or three now and then. But as far as blogging on Facebook goes, I’m done. If you want to keep up with Gene’O though this last quarter of the year, best be reading this blog.

And it’s almost planning time. World Domination season is upon us once more. Time to start talking about what we’re doing in 2016 on the blog, and about how to make more lovely friends šŸ™‚

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We’ll see how it goes. Might not work at all. But since the Facebook thing is no longer working, and this blog needs WAY more content than I’m able to wrangle out of other people just now, well. I’ll just have to produce it myself.

This is a really great thing about Facebook and Twitter: If I spend the next twelve months doing nothing but pay attention to blogs, FB and Twitter will be right where I left them when I decide to go back. The blog works differently. It will run down if I don’t keep it up.

I’m not letting this blog run down. I’ve invested too much into it, and really. Without the blog, there’s no point to the rest.

Brace yourself! Gene’O is coming.

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Cry Havoc and Let Slip the Dogs of War!

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No comics today šŸ˜¦

I figure that having comics every Wednesday for almost two years gets us a little leeway. I’m about to mouth off here, people. You can endure a monologue from me, or you can find yourself another blog to read. This is where we are.

So, first. We’ve not been posting as often as we would like to post lately.

Second, I haven’t been around to answer comments.

Third, this blog isĀ absolutely not going away.

A year ago, more or less, I made this blog a political no-go zone. I am considering lifting that restriction and allowing contributors to speak their political minds on this blog.

Just so you know, this here pop culture blog is supported by a huge gaggle of feminists and other left-leaning people.

What if we decide to bring the politics back onto this blog? Slowly, carefully, and liberally? What about that?

Leave us a comment, if you have an opinion.

And have a video!

 

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.

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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.

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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.Ā 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? šŸ˜‰ 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: 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.

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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. Ā 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 Ā 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 amĀ tickled by it, because it’s a thoughtful gift.

The highlight of the day, though, was the gift my grandsonĀ 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 aboutĀ 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 Ā 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 beĀ 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.