I don’t know where you buy a turkey tree, but I want one

All my adult life, I’ve heard people my age (and older) complaining about how Christmas season starts earlier and earlier every year. While true, most of the people complaining about this don’t realize that this isn’t a new phenomenon. It’s not even something that started in the last 10 or even 15 years.

The Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special from 1973 calls attention to this “problem” in the first 2 minutes of the video. Pay close attention to Charlie Brown’s conversation with his sister, Sally.

Yes, retailers are starting the Christmas shopping season earlier than they did in the past. But it’s not a new problem. In fact, if you consider how little has changed in the last 40 years, it seems to me that it is, perhaps, a sign of the desire of humans to merge the joy they experience with Thanksgiving and Christmas into a two-month long celebration of life, family, and surviving the winter together.

Something to think about.

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“There’s always next year” feels hollow and empty

I don’t know if I can find words to describe this feeling tonight. I know there’s a part of me that should be happy that the Royals made the playoffs for the first time in 29 years. I know that I should take solace in the fact that next year could be “the year”. But I can’t. There’s no way of knowing what the landscape of the team will look like next year. A number of contracts are up and the owner is not known for spending money to build a franchise when he can flip hot players for a quick buck.

A friend of mine made this photo today and told me I could share it. I had hoped to do so in celebration, but it’s too great a photo not to share. I would have loved to put one from tonight up beside this one but alas, it was not meant to be. There’s always next year…

Royals Timehop

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Bonjour, Yosemite, and you!

For several months now, I’ve been watching my Apple TV have an identity crisis whenever I see its name advertised across the network via Bonjour. I named my Apple TV Durendal (because all of my devices are named after weapons and because Marathon is awesome). It used to only happen every now and then. I’d go to AirPlay to my Apple TV and I’d be greeted with a “Durendal (2)” in my available devices list. I’d change the name to something else and back and it would fix. But a few days later, we’d be right back where we started. It was an issue that didn’t bother me much, so I didn’t worry about it. There’s only one Apple TV on my network and the name is unimportant, so long as it works.

But then today, Glamdring (my MacBook Pro and Gandalf’s hand-and-a-half sword of legend), started having a similar issue. Glamdring is less regularly accessed over the network, but having it always showing up with the wrong name in my Shared items in the Finder set off my OCD something fierce. Worse, changing the name in the Sharing preference pane only fixed it for a few seconds. Soon, it would increment right back up to “Glamdring (2)”. So I set out to find a solution.

It only took a second to find one. Toggling Bonjour off and back on is reported to resolve the issue. Unfortunately, partway through the beta release cycle, Apple changed the way this worked. All the instructions I found gave command line instructions to unload and reload the mDNSResponder LaunchDaemon. Unfortunately, the necessary .plist went missing during Yosemite beta’s development. Thankfully, Matt Burgess made a comment over at coderwall.com that revealed the new Terminal commands necessary to fix this (which has since been resolved, thanks to this tip). Since I can’t link directly to the comment, I’ve included it here for quick access.

sudo launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.discoveryd.plist
sudo launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.discoveryd.plist

Run these one after the other in Terminal and then change the name of your computer to its correct name. The problem should be resolved.

Since Glamdring was now resolved, I moved on to Durendal (which had climbed all the way up to “Durendal (102)” since I last fixed it). That one was easier, though less permanent. I simply went into the Settings app on the Apple TV and changed the name to one of the suggested default names the Apple TV provides. Then I went back to Custom… and put Durendal back into the field. So far, so good, but we’ll see what happens the next time the network cuts out unexpectedly or I have to force the Apple TV to restart.

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I’m dreaming of a Blue October

I’m exhausted. I stayed up far later than I had planned watching the Royals do something they haven’t done since I was 5 years old. I’m not a die-hard baseball fan. I don’t generally watch games on TV, and my family usually only makes it to a couple games a year. But I’ve always rooted for the Royals in my own way. By watching the score update on my phone and following along with the season, at least for a little while. But life always gets in the way and I usually lose track.

So when I found out that we were playing the Wild Card matchup this year, I was pleasantly surprised. I was even more surprised when I realized that I’d actually have the free time to catch the game, rather than having to be out running around doing something fatherhood-adjacent. So I stayed up and watched the game and got excited about a sport that has done very little to excite me for almost 30 years (barring a very sweet victory over the Red Sox that I got to witness live while rubbing it in the face of my brother-in-law and a few other games at Kaufmann I’ve caught through the years). And while I probably still won’t be buying season tickets or watching every game on TV, I am still pretty happy to have found joy in a Kansas City team that doesn’t kick a ball around a field or pitch.

I don’t really have the words (or energy) to write a lot about this. Besides, this fan already said everything I could say. I may not have been as dedicated a fan as he during my childhood, but my apathy toward baseball mirrored his own for many years. And while I’ve grown excited a time or two when catching a game at the stadium or just talking about the team with my friends and family that are still baseball fanatics, last night’s game was different.

So go and read that article. And if you, like me and like him, found a little bit of magic in last night’s game, then I hope you tune in for the next one, too. Because, this year, far more than a White Christmas, I want a Blue October.

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There’s a Grandma-shaped whole in the world

My grandmother died today.

I don’t really know how to express how it makes me feel. We knew it was coming. I got to say goodbye. There was no chance that she would recover. But yesterday there was a woman occupying space in the world and today there is not.

My mom’s mom passed this spring, which was different. But the same. I couldn’t find the words I needed then, either. I’d like to believe that writing this will be the first step toward moving forward.

My grandmother was not a frail woman. She was a survivor. A fighter. She already beat cancer, but in the end it doesn’t matter. You can be the greatest fighter in the world, but you always lose the last fight.

I remember seeing her in the hospital when it started…
            the dying
                        …and I couldn’t believe how much smaller she looked. It wasn’t right. Lying there in that tiny bed struggling to breathe, fighting to stay awake, wishing for an end to the pain, the fight, the weight of it all. And when they moved her to hospice care, I couldn’t believe it. Not my grandma. She doesn’t give up.

Even when she had the procedure to remove fluid from her lungs and she bounced back, we were all told repeatedly that it was only a matter of time. Her strength returned, and with it came her personality and a small portion of her appetite. She was still tired, though. Oh so tired. But each visit made her face brighter…
            but tired
                        …and her mood lighter. We could almost forget the dark cloud hanging over us all. Almost.

Saturday, it started to rain.

There was a complication. She had options, but none good. The family had a day to say goodbye while she was still lucid and then her medication would be changed to take away the pain. She held on long enough to give us a sense of closure. Selfless to the last.

This morning I was thinking about work. I was thinking about breakfast. I was thinking about my stuff and my problems and my day. I wasn’t thinking about the woman who took me to church camp and let me run wild; who always wanted to hear what I had to say and always made me feel loved and valuable and smart and important; who went out of her way to tell me how much she loved my wife and what an amazing family I have; who reminded me every time I saw her how lucky I was.

And now she’s gone.

It’s not fair and it’s not right and it’s how the world works.

But there’s a hole in it now that will never be filled.

At 8:26 am Central time, the world lost an irreplaceable piece of my heart, and the only way I know how to mark the occasion is to write this stupid little blog post. Because as insignificant as it is, everything else seems less.

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The Shepherd is coming…

“It’s a dangerous world, son. One that should not be traversed lightly. When the sun goes down, you best be home. Safe inside with doors locked. There are few places left of peace. Bright pinpoints of light in the darkness. Best to be in one when the darkness comes calling. But even those places are fewer and farther between than they once were. The world is changing. Growing cruel and dark. You must be strong. But not yet. Not yet. For now, you must be safe.

Don’t worry, son. The darkness won’t come here. There’s a tale, you see. An old tale. There’s a reason that bright places like Homewood still exist. A very special reason. For centuries, they’ve watched over us. The grey sentinels. Watched over us and kept the darkness at bay. You remember that. When all hope seems lost and the gruekin come scratching at your door, the grey sentinel will save us. The Shepherd protects his flock.”

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Get seven of Stanley Kubrick’s best films for only $40 on iTunes

For the last couple days, iTunes has been selling a seven-film collection of Stanley Kubrick movies for only $40. In HD. That’s less than $5.72 per film. Hell, A Clockwork Orange and 2001: A Space Odyssey are worth $40 alone. Why are you still reading this? Go buy these!

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Room 12 Studios: Official game developer of games and other game-type things

Ecliptic

It’s been nearly a year since the first prototype of Ecliptic showed up on my phone and now, after a lot of work, a fair amount of luck, and an egregious amount of procrastinating, it’s live on the App Store.

The bulk of the development was handled by my cousin, Alex (who wrote up a nice little blog post about the app, as well). But, as with all Room 12 Studios projects, the whole project is a group effort. Between beta testing, hiring a real composer, and pushing each other to get stuff done (all while working full-time jobs and/or raising children), it was a pretty interesting experience.

But enough about the boring stuff, let’s talk about the game.

It’s not fancy. It’s not groundbreaking. It’s not even award-winning (except for the award for Best Game Currently Released by Room 12 Studios). But it is fun. It’s great for kids. And the music is pretty awesome. Plus, it’s free (as in beer). And if you like the app and want to support what we’re doing, you can buy the Theme Pack as an in-app purchase for the low, low price of <insert the cheapest paid value available on the App Store in whatever country your account is located>. The entire game is entirely playable without paying a dime, however. And there are no ads (unless you count links to our other apps, in which case, I’m a liar).

Speaking (sub-consciously typing) about our other apps, be sure and check out iPredict, as well, if you haven’t already. It’s a quirky little fortune teller with an attitude. It received an update today, as well, which added some beautiful new animation and support for 4-inch iPhones and retina iPads. Be sure to check it out.

(also comes in a Lite version, with 100% fewer calories)

So go, download Ecliptic, and tell us how awesome it is. Or don’t. But share it with your friends, anyway. Especially if any of them decide to take pity on us and keep us as pets. We’re really tired of working for a living.

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Clark Fork: The Endless River That Waters The Mouth of Hell

This weekend, we visited family up at Priest Lake (it was awesome, and if I make time, I’ll write more on it later).

Heading home on I-90, we kept driving over Clark Fork in the middle of the night. So often, in fact, that my wife started cursing the signs as an indicator that we were trapped in an endless loop of horror.

Our fears were confirmed this morning when we passed another Clark Fork sign and then, immediately after, a building that said Hellgate Fire Dept. Montana No. 502.

If anyone sees this message, please send help.

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Dust off that French Maid outfit, it’s time to play Tanto Cuore!

I’m not sure why—maybe it’s because it’s Friday the 13th; maybe the full moon has got the world’s blood up—but whatever the reason, several iOS app developers have decided to throw an impromptu sale on the App Store. This is good news for the rest of us, though, as some really great games are on sale for just a dollar each.

As you may have guessed from the title, one of the apps is none other than Felicia Day’s favorite card game, Tanto Cuore. In this game, you play as the master of a mansion and you collect maids. Or something. I really don’t know, because it seemed confusing and I was only half paying attention to the episode of Tabletop in which they played the game. But it looked like a pretty good deck-builder, so if you’re into that sort of thing and like anime French maids, then this game should be in your wheelhouse.

Continuing with the tabletop gaming theme, the Euro-style board game Agricola is also on sale. If you’re a fan of the game, this is an excellent adaptation into a digital form. If you’ve never played it before, the game has an excellent tutorial system to get you started while playing your first game. The entire goal of the game is to build your farm from a 2-room hut to the most profitable farm in Europe, saving countless starving villagers.

And at this point in my post, I’m realizing that most of the great games on sale today are all Playdek titles. The one I’m most excited to start playing is D&D Lords of Waterdeep. This game was also featured on an episode of Tabletop, and it’s an interesting take on the Dungeons & Dragons universe. Instead of controlling a group of heroes as they quest for gold & glory, you join a shadowy group of powerful men & women secretly controlling everything that goes on in the city of Waterdeep. It’s sort of like Monopoly but with more backstabbing and less parking.

And finally, the only non-Playdek title on my list is a Disney title. Now, I heard you groaning back there, but hear me out. It’s for Star Wars Journeys: The Phantom Menace. No, wait! Come back! Seriously, I know that the movie is not for humans everyone, but this is a far better way to experience the story than watching the movie. Most notably because George Lucas wasn’t involved. Plus, it has a podracing game! Anyway, check it out. It’s only a dollar. What do you have to lose? I mean, aside from your self-respect.

Okay, now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s continue on the sci-fi trend we’ve got going here. If you’re a fan of Star Trek and you enjoy strategy games, you’re going to love Star Command. Set out on a mission to save the galaxy and try your best not to lose any of your crew. But good luck, because space is dangerous and humans are fragile. Assign your crew to Command, Science, or Engineering teams and give them jobs. Firing your weapons is a minigame in and of itself, but watch out for invaders on your ship. And hope you don’t get a hull breach, or else anyone nearby will be lost forever.

Bringing it back full circle to the fantasy and tabletop gaming of the start of this post, Warhammer Quest is also on sale. To date, Warhammer Quest is still my favorite tabletop dungeon crawler and it seems unlikely that any game will ever supplant it. While the iOS game is not as great as the actual board game, it’s still pretty fun and provides a heck of a lot of value for just 99¢. Plus, there are several expansions that add all new heroes and environments to explore. Happy treasure hunting!

That’s the last of the $0.99 sale titles that I felt were worth sharing, but there is one more title you should check out, because it’s free. Ridge Racer Slipstream may be just another Ridge Racer title and is not even close to the best racing experience on the iPhone and iPad, but it’s still a fun arcade racer and you can’t beat the price. So pick it up while it’s free, at the very least.

So go buy games and have some fun this weekend. Besides, what else were you going to do with that six bucks?

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