Nerd Fort Number One, Episode 2

This is the second episode, still in the first session. Nothing else really to say about it.

As for ‘housekeeping’ stuff, I have started to edit the second session. It was much shorter, but I am also making the episodes significantly shorter, so both sessions are going to take 4 episodes to complete. I think I will start doing a “gametale” near the end starting in session 3.

Thanks for listening! Tell your friends!

Nerd Fort Number One, Episode 1

So, My most recent previous post was almost six months ago.

I still want to follow up on that whole Podcaster’s Apprentice thing, but I’ve been working on something else since then. Specifically, a blanket fort (The end result of this blanket fort is in the player at the start of this post – like, it’s literally less than an inch above this text).

I built a wooden frame in my basement, covered it with blankets, and installed in it everything I need to record a podcast with other people. It has a computer, microphones, baffles (in the form of the blankets), a large coffee table, a few weird books, and a bunch of weird dice. I’ve been calling it “Nerd Fort #1,” both in anticipation of Nerd Forts to come, and in appreciation of it’s preliminary place in a great dynasty of forts.

So far, I’ve been recording myself and 3 others play 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons. These D&D sessions last for about 4-5 hours, and a few of us have never played this edition of D&D. I thought that might be helpful for people who either haven’t played this version and want to know more, or haven’t played D&D at all, and want to know more. My wife (who has been listening to me edit audio) has told me that she really enjoys listening to everything, despite not ever having a ton of interest in the game.

I have cut up our first session in to chunks about 45 minutes to an hour, and put some intros and ending credits to them, and I’m going to be releasing them here. I have 4 episodes ready to go, and I think that will give me enough time to stay ahead of schedule to regularly release them. I’m planning on cutting the time down so that I can release more at a time, as well as include other things that I think people would like.

I also have a few hours of board games being recorded with many other friends (including the ever-esteemed Andy “noobtheloser” Stuart, First of his Name, Writer of Gif-Stories, Occasional Visitor to Columbus Ohio, and sworn to CollegeHumor.com) that I plan on turning in to bonus Nerd Fort #1 content.

So, yeah. I hope you listen to it. I also hope that, after listening to it, you like it. If you do, please get a friend to listen as well. I’m not going to be advertising this very much until I get it up on iTunes (I think it needs 7 episodes? Not sure). But my friends will know, and my friends all know some pretty cool people who listen to good things, so I hope that a lot of people can find my weird little web page and podcast.

Thanks.

Podcaster’s Apprentice, post #1

So, I have started 4 podcasts at this point.

Wait. 5? I suppose it depends on how you count them.

A lot of them. That’s all that matters. I have gone through the initial phase of setting everything up/writing out scripts/even recording many episodes for a handful of podcasts.

In several cases I had started right before I learned that I’m going to be a Dad. In at least one case I realized that it was a stupid idea (especially since I couldn’t get permission from the music creators I needed). In exactly one case, I am about to record – this weekend!

One way or the other, consider this post the inaugural post for a blog series that I am calling the Podcaster’s Apprentice.

Topics will include:

  • What is the bare minimum for me to start?
  • What should I talk about?
  • Do I really have to spend money?
  • What is the suggested minimum for me to start?
  • I have more money – what else should I buy?
  • How do I get listeners?
  • Why don’t I just make Youtube videos? Or a blog? Or just post on a forum? Why would anyone listen to me?
  • How much time should I spend on this podcast?
  • When will I know when it is ready to publish?

And maybe some other topics.

A Brief Review, An Audacious Review, and an Update

Next in my series of podcasts is one that I no longer listen to, one that helped me get where I am, and of course, the update on the as-yet-unnamed D&D 5e podcast.

A Brief Review

I started listening to Private Sanctuary when I thought that I needed more nerdiness in my life and I was working at a job that required minimal communication with real live humans. I am reviewing this one only briefly because I am no longer listening to it – but that doesn’t mean it’s bad now. It’s just not what I’m looking for.

Ryan Costello, Jr. Started the 3.5 Private Sanctuary as a place where D&D 3.5 can continue living, despite the fact that Wizards of the Coast was dropping support for the game. In the first few dozen episodes, Ryan also watched as Paizo began to start Pathfinder, commenting on it’s development. Eventually they lost the “3.5”, because they were really just talking about Pathfinder. Eventually, Ryan (and crew) made multiple spin-off podcasts, all organized in to a podcast network.

The beginning of the Private sanctuary was something that helped me keep my sanity while going over multiple bumps and hurdles in my life. But when they split off in to the network, it was no longer what I was looking for. Mostly, it was the change in hosts – Ryan was about to have a baby and decided to sit out for a little while (this is all based on memory – sorry if I’ve got it wrong). The style change was a little jarring and I looked for other podcasts to keep my ears busy at work.

I am glad to see that Ryan and Co. are doing well and still releasing fresh content. If you are looking for general Pathfinder community news, check out their flagship podcast Know Direction (which focuses on industry events, products, and people), Private Sanctuary (which focuses on rules and game issues), or Geek Together (which is an intermittent podcast about a variety of narrow nerdy topics – but different each episode).

I’m going to leave it there for the Know Direction Network – I don’t listen to them anymore and therefore I feel like it would be disingenuous to have anything more in-depth. BUT, I will say that this podcast was what helped me to start my own podcast, which is discussed more in the next section.

Ryan, if you are reading this: let me know any time you find yourself in central Ohio. I’d like to give you a “thank-you” meal.

An Audacious Review

So, after I had listened to some 30 or so episodes of the 3.5 Private sanctuary, I noticed that I kept having opinions and I kept wanting to tell them to Ryan and his cohorts. Unfortunately, the episodes were about a year old at that point and I doubt that the hosts even remembered the points they were making. Nevertheless I still found myself trying to figure out how to talk to these guys, to offer a counterpoint, and to engage them on different issues.

And then I realized – what I actually wanted was to start my own podcast, so as to have conversations with people that I shared a nerdy space with.

So, how does someone start a podcast? Well, I googled “how to start a podcast.” I realize now that this is similar to the guys from Office Space looking up “money laundering” in the dictionary.

A few things popped up. I don’t know how far down the list it was, but the thing that really got my attention was The Audacity to Podcast. Which happened to be a podcast. All about podcasting. I was absolutely tickled about the recursion involved in the fact that this show existed at all. Through this podcast I learned that there are quite a few podcasts about podcasting, but this one was the one that I kept listening to. It is often evergreen content (seriously, even episodes 1-15 usually apply today), it is very well produced, and Daniel J. Lewis is very good at doing what he does.

Just like the previous two that I have reviewed, I started at the beginning. I downloaded every episode he has and started listening to them all. This gave me a good perspective on quite a few things, and helped me to develop the ideas that I had for a podcast. Some of the most important things that I learned I shall repeat here because I desperately want your awesome content to be preserved (really – I want you to make a podcast out of that awesome idea you have): 1. You must control your own feed, 2. You must have some kind of landing page that is easy to get to, and 3. Be passionate, be consistent, be considerate. Roughly June of 2014 I had managed to listen to enough episodes that I was finally comfortable starting a website (that you are reading right now).

Then, less than a month later, Amanda and I learned that we were pregnant. Well…okay. Suddenly the time and money that I’ve sunk in to this project has become a ‘back-burner’ project. But I also get a baby!

Like I said before, The Audacity to Podcast is a very well-produced show, and Daniel J. Lewis is good at what he does. He is humble, knowledgeable, and skilled. He tells you about different aspects of podcasting (and other online productions) with no hesitation, and often from his own experience.

Apparently, Daniel funds his life with his podcast network, largely through a few online businesses (consulting for podcasts and related work) affiliate marketing on Amazon and through various companies that offer products that he uses. He usually mentions something or other within the podcast episode, and experienced listeners hear it coming a mile away – but we still listen! which says something about his style.

An Update

So, in my previous post, I talked about the people in this new podcast that I am working on, and the space we will be in. The supplies for the space have been purchased and my wife told me that I am only allowed to have it be 9 feet by 10 feet, but that shouldn’t change it too much. I’ve been cutting wood and doing bad math in my head and coming up with ad hoc ways of supporting the whole thing and it looks like it will really be a space to game in really well. I don’t have pictures yet because I haven’t taken any, but I promise that I will.

This time, in addition to the physical structure, I will tell you about the structure of the podcast itself.

The basic plan is:

  • brief intro music (probably something from this hoopy frood) that lasts less than ten seconds before fading in to…
  • an intro talk where I talk about who we are and why we think you want us in your ears. This is probably recorded ahead of time and lasting less than 2 minutes, since you really want to hear…
  • THE CONTENT – i.e. the reason you people are letting me live in your head for a little while. Probably 30-35 minutes (well…probably an hour before I edit out cussing and boring stuff) of Pathfinder play. Eventually at an appropriate stopping point, we will get to…
  • Ending talk, which will be recorded by me, alone, and without the other players. Because I want this space to be for any announcements and we are recording 4-5 episodes worth of content in each session. I will provide a brief summary, probably a teaser about the next episode, and then I will talk about credits and the website. At the very end, I will include a D&D gametale, something that has actually happened to an actual player in an actual game – but also is very short.
  • Then, outro music.

Welcome To Night Vale Podcast Review (and update)

So, I am going to start a new series of blog posts, each one detailing a podcast that I am listening to. I am going to go in roughly chronological order based on when I started listening to it.

I am also going to include at the end a paragraph or two about the podcast that I am currently working on.

Podcast for You

To start things off, there’s the podcast that I started with: Welcome to Night Vale. I first heard about it from my friend from high school. Then I ignored it’s presence until I started watching the PBS Idea Channel. Then I remembered what my friend had said about it, and I started downloading like mad.

A charming little town in the American southwest desert (exactly where is never stated), Night Vale that has number of features that other charming little towns would do everything they can to keep secret for a decade and then turn in to a horror film after Stephen King gets a hold of it. Features like the Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your Home, or Hiram McDaniels (who is a fugitive from the secret police, a candidate for mayor, and a literal 5-headed dragon all at once), or the house that shouldn’t exist (according to scientists), or reports of mountains being sighted out in the desert.

Narrated by the in-world public radio host, Cecil Baldwin, we get a glimpse in to the supernatural goings-on around town. He tells us about the news with an air of…just kind of… not shocked by stuff in town. Don’t get me wrong, he does a great job of relaying the news and community announcements, and even being excited by doing it – but considering it nothing out of the ordinary except maybe the occasional political upheaval – much like any small town. Only he reports on health issues like throat spiders. Or education issues like the literacy rate of tarantulas being almost as low as 25% (which is shockingly low).

Each episode usually starts with the creator (Joseph Fink) talking to us about news of the WtNV brand – products, live shows, “thank-yous”, and other stuff. Once we get to the real content, the format of the show follows that of a small-town community radio show (or, I think so – I’ve never listened to a real small town community radio channel). There are segments like the community calendar, community announcements, sponsors, local celebrities and business owners being interviewed or giving advice, and a few others, in addition to ‘the news’ which is a phenomenon almost everyone is familiar with. There is also “The Weather,” which instead of “we live in the desert, it’s going to be bright and hot,” it is always an interlude featuring some indie band’s undiscovered music. At the end of the episode, Cecil always signs off with “Goodnight, Night Vale. Goodnight.” After his sign off are credits and maybe another announcement or two by someone else that helps on the show, and then a ‘quote of the day,’ which are universally a little disturbing.

Disparition makes most of the music. I don’t know who Disparition is outside of WtNV, but I absolutely love the music here. Usually it’s just normal kinda-creepy background music, but sometimes it underscores what is going on in the episode so well that I doubt the episode would be worth a listen without it. In addition to all that, I also use a few of his songs (most notably the Ballad of Fiedler and Mundt) to put my daughter to sleep.

If you are new to WtNV, I would suggest that you listen to the first few episodes (here is episode 1), so that you can understand how new characters are introduced, and how different phenomena or discoveries about the town are approached. After that, I would suggest you listen to Episode 17 (Valentine) for a well done “what happens when Night Vale has a crisis”, which does seem to happen pretty often. Then I would suggest listening to episodes 19a and 19b (The Sandstorm), because they are well written and use a very old SF/fantasy trope well, while also further detailing the hatred of the sister city, Desert Bluffs. Finally, episode 13 (A Story About You) is just some of the best writing I have ever seen. I tend to like the early episodes more, because it was more about discovering the town instead of just watching the town do it’s thing. I personally didn’t like the episodes that are in the ‘middle,’ (by current reckoning) because they tended to be about the people in the town, rather than the town itself. The most recent episodes have been getting back to that feeling, but we’ll see where it goes in 2016.

So in general – you should go listen to it. I have been listening to it consistently since I started. Every two weeks, without fail. At it’s worst it is a little annoying but still clever and entertaining. At it’s best, it makes me sit back in my chair at work and have a think for a few minutes.

Podcast for Me

Today’s update about the podcast I am currently working on is that I had my initial (unpublished) meeting with the people I am going to be recording with. At a party in mid-November, Eric Sterbenz was trying to convince me to give 5th Edition D&D a try, while at the same time I was trying to convince him to do a podcast. SO, we decided that he would DM and teach me as I learn how to play it, and have a microphone around to tell all of you about it. Also with us are my brother, Gary Kleinpaste (whom I have gamed with quite a bit), and our fellow long-time-nerdy-friend, Jeff Jackson (who was also there for much of the time that Gary and I were gaming).

This meeting was to establish that we were a group and that while it is a D&D campaign, it was also a podcast, and so certain things might have to be changed about how we play.

I am building Nerd Fort #1 – a 10 x 10 x 7 wooden frame in my basement, upon which sound-dampening fabric (blankets not otherwise being used) will be hung – to give us a pretty decent (if only hacked-together from available parts) studio. In this studio there are more side-tables than I know what to do with, and a large coffee table. On the coffee table is a battlemat almost the same size as the table. I have two microphones, a Blue Snowball and an ATR-2100. I have a computer down there, and one of the next investments that I will make is a sound mixer and more microphones.

End result: everyone is on the same page and still wants to be a part.

Hey seriously. Who are you people?

Really now.

If you read this, I would really like to know. Like, actually prove it. I think that it would help to motivate me – knowing that there are people actually reading this stuff that I am writing. If you are reading this, then please submit at least a one-word comment, below. I have to verify it before it will actually show, and the program that I use for comments needs your email – But I would really like to know that you are out there.

If for some reason you don’t like posting things on the internet, then come tell me in person. Or send me a text message. Leave a cryptic note about beetles on my front door. Anything.

I am asking this because I just looked at my analytics and it shows that there were 53 unique IDs that looked at my website (this website. that you are reading. right now.), and hardly anyone mentions that they know it even exists.

So yeah. Prove that you are a people. Leave a comment, or throw pennies at me when I walk to my house from my car. Just let me know that more than just robots read my website.

Anyways…

Yeah. about my previous post. That didn’t work. At all. I hardly wrote anything. The post right before this is just dripping with bright-eyed optimism and a can-do attitude.

I really thought I was going to be able to do it all.

But I have a baby and she got knocked off of her sleeping schedule. It made me want to take 100% of the other time in my day and sleep. Or do something to relax. Anything. Even during my lunch hour while I munch my sandwiches I didn’t get much done except fill even further my huge file of “cool shit that I’m totally getting to when I get some time.” Yeah. That ‘file’ is a Gmail draft to myself that I started as an easy way to transfer non-work things from my free time at work (lunch, breaks, etc.) to home. Just for giggles I copied and pasted it in to a new word document. At the default font size (11?), it is 43 pages.

Forty Three pages. Holy crap. I didn’t think it was that big. Even allowing for the fact that even a single ‘funny image url’ can fill a single line, and the odd “large list of stupid shit from a forum” is mostly useless… I imagine I’ve still got at least 20 pages there. And I have a few other email drafts that are topic specific, like GMing tools, Podcasting resources, Finance articles (did you know that if you can save $25k/year for 7 years, you will be able to retire in a big way and only need a part-time job?), and other shit.

This post isn’t much except me proving to myself that my website still exists.

Uhhh…one update though – I’ve got a real podcast really getting set up with real people playing a real game. Gonna have a sit-down on the 20th and talk with these guys about exactly what it all means and how to not talk over each other while recording. I plan on recording that just to prove that my microphones work.

NaNoWriMo

I’m not going to write a novel, but I am going to write.

I have quite a lot going on in my life – trying to find a new job, moving apartments, having an infant daughter – so I don’t think that I could drum up the focus needed for a novel.

Instead, I am planning on 4 things per week in November:
-One Blog post (about something other than meta-subjects).
-One Podcast episode (written, not recorded).
-One adventure of this new D&D campaign that I am working on (to the level of names of places, but not stats).
-One Chapter of one of these books that I would like to write (any sort of draft).

In addition, if I accomplish all of the above in a week but still have time to write,
-A first draft of a Short Story.
-Drafts of podcast episodes and blog posts.
-Important characters and items for the campaign.

These are goals, and they represent quite a lot of writing. I am going to be working on outlines and so forth before November gets started so that I have a clear path ahead of me.

I am not sure what my word count will look like at the end if I do keep up. But it will certainly be more than it is now.

I have no Idea what I am doing

I am apparently the owner of a website (that, uh… that I guess you are reading right now) – and I have no idea what I’m doing with it. I am a father since about 5 months ago (the adorable product is found here) – and I have no idea what I’m doing there, either. I have an entry level job (at a super-serious financial company that would love to make me wear a tie every day but I am actually a teenager trapped in the adult world so screw them!) – and they keep telling me to do the thing with the widget, but really I don’t know what I’m doing. I am a husband (as of roughly 4.5 years ago) – and I really don’t know what I’m doing there – I just show up every day and talk to this lady and I guess things are working out? Probably more to it than that.

So yeah. I have some pretty important things that I really don’t know why anyone would let me even act like I am properly trained to deal with them.

But.

But I know a bit about a few things: Chainmail (there are pictures of it on my photography page). Role Playing Games (which I really have no time for, considering the whole ‘husband’ thing, and the whole ‘father’ thing). People (which motivated the pursuit of my Psychology degree). Podcasting (which has a really big time-hurdle to overcome) and a handful of other things.

But.

But story is a thing that I have really taken an interest in. And I think I’ve always had this interest. Since I was very young. I loved books. I loved movies. I loved video games – and especially the video games that had really good story behind them. I would just sit and read all the little bits of the story that were scattered around whatever world I was exploring.

When I grew up and was dating, my girlfriend (now wife) and I had to figure out an issue that I was bringing to the table – that I had these stories saved up (which is good and useful), almost like files in a drawer, that I would repeat to anyone who would listen (which is bad, and drives people away). Considering she was my girlfriend, I had almost a captive audience and would just ramble on about whatever I was thinking about. Sometimes I would repeat my stories (which is worse). Sometimes I would repeat them on the same day (which is much worse). Sometimes I would repeat them verbatim, to the same person, in the same conversation (which is one of those things where I don’t even know why people in general put up with me). It really is a wonder that she kept dating me (seems like I’ve gotten the better end of the deal, honestly).

So there is this thing about storytelling. I’ve been thinking about it for a little while, and I think it holds up.

Storytelling is the oldest technology that we have. It predates the wheel – we were telling each other stories around the cook fire before the wheel rolled around. I’m pretty sure it even predates fire – can you imagine that story? The one where some otherwise uninteresting chick in the tribe comes back from an unexplained extended absence with a bit of fire under control on a stick and relates how she stole the secret of “taming the demon of light and heat” from some naive love-sick young man in the tribe 3 rivers over?

The ability to tell stories is also one of the few things that is universal to humans. Everyone does it. You cannot find a single person on the planet who is incapable of telling a story. Even if they say “oh I’m not a good storyteller,” they are lying. You just have to ask them about their day. About the best day that they’ve ever had. Or ever could have. Or how they met their girlfriend. Or where they got that scar. Or what they would do if they had a million dollars. Or what they would do if they could do one thing consequence-free.

Little kids are encouraged from the moment they can string a sentence together to tell people about their day – no adult is going to think they did anything notable that day (at least, not in the “capital -N-” notable way of saying), but here we are, training every little diaper-clad chaos engine to tell people about what has happened. And we make believe with them. From a very young age, we teach little kids that pretending to be someone else is a super cool thing to do. We’ve recently seen a social change that gives license to adults to pretend they are someone they’re not (comic-book movies, cosplaying, etc.), and then platforms on which to do it (facebook, twitter, tinder, etc.).

I forget entirely where I was going with this, but it’s been something that’s been in the back of my head for a good long while – it’s part of the reason my website has the word “story” in it in the first place.

I want to tell stories. I want to tell them with passion and I want to tell them to people who want to listen. I want to tell people stories that will leave them changed on a level so deep that they have to chew on a new truth for a month before they come back for another. I want the world to stop being okay with the same bullshit story every evening hour on the news, and to stop giving money to the people that will tell you the story you want to hear.

I want to empower others to tell the story of their own. I know people who are living a dream – and are left unsatisfied by it. I know people who have been kidnapped – and escaped by the good grace of a stranger. I know people who dropped out of college because something else was worth more – and they plan to go back. I know people who narrowly escaped death in the form of a flaming car wreck – and talk about it the way I would talk about a shitty concert I went to a long time ago. I know people who have gotten lost in thought just thinking about a leaf they hold in their hands. I know people with mental disorders that don’t have a name – but do have distinct symptoms that I’ve never seen elsewhere. I know people who take no joy in thinking of their abuser’s unfortunate circumstance – and I know people who revel in seeing them fall.

Each of these people have a story. I want them to tell it, and I want this website to be the very beginning of figuring out how to let them.

A week

A lot can happen in a week.

Certainly, a lot did happen the week before last. Going backwards from Sunday:

  1. Moved all of the baby stuff and 90% of my wardrobe back home from my parents-in-law’s place
  2. Came back to my parents-in-law’s house from a cabin-on-a-lake trip with my guy friends
  3. Kayaked on a lake – including once at 1am with an awesome full moon and once where I watched my friend slowly sink. It was hilarious. [mostly Saturday]
  4. Left my parents-in-law’s place and, amidst confusion, arrived at and checked in at the cabin. Met a guy in a neighboring cabin who got married at that cabin ten years ago. [Friday]
  5. Enjoyed a blissfully work-free evening. [Thursday]
  6. After coming home from work, worked my ass off being my wife’s assistant. [Wednesday, Tuesday, Monday]
  7. Spent all day keeping the baby out of my wife’s hair, and when I could, perform assistant duties for my wife. [Sunday]
  8. Drive the in-laws to the airport so they don’t have to leave the vehicle at the airport during their vacation, and then immediately go and move all the baby stuff to their house. They pay me some money to watch the house and tell me that all the beer they have in the fridge and cabinet is specifically for me and Amanda during the week. Spend the evening being Amanda’s assistant. [Saturday]

I am not normally one to make exclamations about how busy I’ve been. I will say here that parenting is some pretty time-consuming stuff, and a massive deadline from my wife’s work makes it even more busy. And then add house- and dog-sitting to that whole mix, and I don’t think that I had done anything except work that entire week.

It was a week so busy that I am only getting to writing this post almost two weeks later.

I am going to keep writing posts.

A to-do list for this website

So, in the interest of actually using this webspace that I am paying for, I am going to create this to-do list for myself. I feel like this will help me to be more directed in the way in which I approach it, and I feel like that is a good thing. I’m going to revisit this post on a regular basis (let’s say, monday sometime after lunch?) and let people know what I’ve done and what’s next. Maybe this should be a webpage.

CURRENTLY, I am working on THE WEBSITE ITSELF, with an emphasis on IMAGES

The website itself:

-The header image: Even if I do not include an Inn, per se, I should include imagery that evokes an old-timey building ready to welcome road-weary travelers.

-The Structure: Does this website operate in the way that I want it to? Do the pages lead to one another in a way that makes conceptual sense? I have no idea – but I will find out.

-Images I want: I have a daughter, even some pictures of her. Perhaps I should take the best images from my mother-in-law’s instagram and put them here? I think that’s a good idea. I also have other things that I have or want images of – and I even have a device specifically dedicated to their capture! and capture them I will.

Categories on the website

– Apprentice Father: Perhaps this should be less gender specific? Apprentice Parent? Whatever. I am learning to care for this screaming and laughing poop machine and I should act like it is something that I am learning, rather than something that is happening to me.

– Apprentice whatever-else: I am still not GMing. I am trying to tell stories, but might not have time. I know for a fact that I’m a nerd…am I writing about it?

Things connected to the website

– Amazon: I am an Amazon Associate…but even though they say I have been, I remain unpaid for the small amount of money that I am purportedly due.

– Social Media: I actually have a twitter for this thing. and a facebook. and I (as a person, not as a website) have an instagram. Perhaps I should integrate those more carefully….

 

Juggling

I haven’t updated in a while. I don’t really even know if anyone actually reads this – if they do, then I can’t tell because no one comments and there are more bots crawling my page looking for an email address to spam than there are live humans (also, I definitely have a USA Department Of Defense IP address in my analytics. Not sure what they think I am up to here).

The reasons I haven’t updated are many and varied. After I took a vacation in May it was easier to have the pattern of “not worrying about that right now”, and I am slowly working my way back to full website-productivity. The other things that I work on (when I get a precious moment free from parenting, husbanding, working and otherwise maintaining the household and life) tend to be video-game related, and I’ve been using the “I need to relax” excuse. But it’s an excuse 80-90% of the time. I can relax while writing – or I can relax while reading, which is something that I know helps my writing.

I think that I am no longer going to do the “==>” podcast – I don’t especially care about it and I think that it deserves more of an “audio drama” than “one guy talking into a mic” I still have all the files, but I think I’ll take them off of libsyn. I will start it up in the future if someone asks me to. Also the guise of “reading it to my daughter” is a pretty bad idea – she is going to start picking up words pretty soon, and Karkat is way too intense for her not to figure some of those out.

I am also working on finding a new job (current job doesn’t pay what I need – if you have a job that pays 35k with benefits or 45k without, email me seth . kleinpaste @ stumblestoryinn . com ), and a new apartment (current place isn’t the right size or shape for raising a getting-in-to-everything toddler). So yeah. I am legitimately busy right now, and I am figuring out what next to be podcasting. Hopefully it can be something with another person.

Basically I am using this post to prove to myself that I really can write a post on lunch at work. It’s not impossible, and I really don’t have more important shit to do.

status of stuff

Before I get going: Go see MAD MAX: FURY ROAD. You just need to. Don’t see it if you have PTSD associated with hardcore punk style (lots of leather and metal), or car crashes (basically it is one long car crash that keeps getting better), or fire. Those are the only reasons you are allowed to not see it.

So, I know I promised that I would have an episode up, and I am still planning at keeping to that, but I had to (once again) change my schedule to meet the demands of life. And I don’t even care that I may have disappointed all of my fans, considering how few they are, and how well I know them, and especially considering that the money I am paying to maintain this website is very much worth having a creative outlet.

I am finished editing the episode, and I will be recording the intro to it sometime later today, and hopefully that means that it will be published tonight after I get it formatted correctly and everything (currently both my beautiful ladies are sleeping and I don’t want to wake them with my voice). I am also still writing the next Lily story post, and that will hopefully be finished and made available by Thursday at the normal time.

At some point in the last week or two, Amanda found a file on our desktop that contained something that I was inspired to write. It was only a page or so long and I thought it wasn’t that great. Apparently she liked it, even though I don’t  really know what is great about it.

It was a high-level look at a world I had been thinking about where the last good king dies amidst prophecies of how he will return, and then all the bad guys try to keep their bad-ness to lower levels in order to not trigger the prophecies.

The kingdom goes through several evolutions of social structure and they eventually manage to have a society that can support (among other things) several successful evil necromancer-dukes, all without waking up the king. The thing is: they all really love their country, and all for different (often conflicting) reasons.

What I am envisioning is actually trying to publish a book of short stories that start from the point where the society has finished reeling from the shock of the king leaving, but have little to do with one another, except some references to influential characters and events.

This got all rambly and shit, but I don’t care. I’m just glad I have a website. What a day. What a lovely day.

p.s. if you are interested in my photography stuff, I changed the gallery. Check it out.

p.p.s Are you people sharing my website or something? my analytics show occasional huge jumps in unique IDs. Most recently on may 18th. Maybe you were all expecting my episode up? Show me some love on my facebook page if you aren’t robots – seriously: I want to know if there are real people actually reading this with their meaty eyes, you should let me know, because I haven’t met a single person who has said that they regularly check my website other than my brother and myself. I am not linking because robots follow links. just search facebook for the website name.

The Lily Story, Chapter 3 – Immediate Reactions

In chapter 2, I related how Amanda told me that we were pregnant

Before I get going, I am going to go on a little rant. Skip it if you want – it has little to do with the story, just a little bone to pick with critics of word choice. Click “Rant” to expand it.

Rant

Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system:

We were pregnant. I was sitting in a church parking lot under a little scraggly tree on my phone with my wife. My pregnant wife. The sun was shining very brightly. That moment after we hung up the phone was a very long moment.

I was at the beginning of realizing that I had no clue what was going to happen.

I am an anxious sort of person, I always know what’s going to happen. Not because I am some prophet or something, but because I have this intense desire to always appear to be very well composed and calm. This desire leads to me constantly thinking about what I am going to do when something happens, or when I do something, or when I go somewhere. I do this head-on-a-swivel thing when I am in a new situation: I try to turn my surroundings into a fire hose of information that I am trying to access and analyze in real time, so that I can develop some really good heuristics for the next time I am in a similar situation. I have become very good at this.

But there I was, contemplating a situation that will now change all other situations to come after it. No mental shortcuts applied here. My mind was in totally new territory. The very soil of this territory had a signal-jamming effect that forced me to re-evaluate everything. Simple things. Things like interacting with others. Even sitting next to other people (as I was about to do when I went back in to the lecture) presented a new situation that I had never before encountered.

  • “What do I tell them when they ask where I was?”
  • “Do I smile and enjoy the joy? Or should I wait until I am alone?”
  • “What if I start crying?”
  • “Do I just leave and try to explain later?”
  • “What if I accidentally let slip what I just learned? Should I be telling people right now? Can I trust these guys to keep it quiet? What if I tell them or lose my cool and later we lose the baby and then I have to tell people all of that?”

This is a sample of what went through my head by the time I had gotten back to the door. You know, all 20 feet. I still don’t remember even generally speaking what the lecture was about.

So my mind did this thing that I am at a loss of words to describe. “Fuzzy” is pretty close. Like you are walking through thick mist in a familiar neighborhood, and something hidden in the mist is making an unfamiliar noise. You have no idea exactly what is right around you, but you know where you are. You have no idea exactly what is happening, but you’re pretty sure that nothing is about to hurt you. You aren’t scared, but you’re not sure that feeling safe is a good idea.

It was a pretty strange feeling. I can’t say that I’ve gotten used to it, even now – when Lily is eight weeks old. But I can say that it is an interesting paradigm to find oneself in. And you don’t stop living life just because your brain wants to go find a corner to hide in and scream.

On Vacation

I am at oak Island, North Carolina.

My time is being taken up by showing my baby what sand is, enjoying the sand and sun myself, eating really good food, and generally relaxing a whole bunch.

You may have noticed that I did not upload a new episode. Even though I did have the time to record the next episode, I never finished editing it. I might be able to edit it when I get home saturday evening, or perhaps sunday. But I doubt it. The episode will go up when I finish it.

On the other hand, I do have a blog post (The Lily Story, chapter 3) already prepared and will have that out on thursday. I anticipate a good deal of time may be spent catching up and re-building my (painfully small) backlog. While I am doing that, I will probably put up more recent pictures of my adorable baby and probably some vacation pictures. And maybe a video of me locked in epic combat with a crab in a very cold swimming pool.

The Lily Story, Chapter 2: The News

Like I may have mentioned before, Lily was quite a surprise (By the way, do not ever call a child a ‘mistake’. They are either planned or a surprise). We were not actively trying to have kids, we were on birth control, we were getting used to deflecting the ‘when will I get a grand-child’ questions. So the story of getting the news is a little dramatic. Well. Dramatic for me.

After she was done with a bout of stomach gastro-intestinal issues (which was confusing, long-term, and expensive) about a month went by without anything really happening in our life other than thinking “Man, paying off these bills is going to be awesome! Here comes an actually useful savings account!”

And then she started to get nauseous again, which was the primary symptom for her previous GI issues. So we waited a little while to see if it was temporary as her systems got back to a pre-medical-intervention state, or if we would have to go see a doctor specialist. Again. It was certainly much less severe than it had been, and her other presenting symptoms (notably: pain) were absent.

In case you can’t tell already, this was “morning sickness” (which I now know: it rarely, if ever, occurs consistently in the morning), and we just thought that our doctors would once again call for some strange tests.

During that week she basically ordered me to move our bedroom from the attic to the main floor of our home (we rent the 2nd floor and attic) and clean a whole bunch of stuff. This was a little out of character, but not really demanding or otherwise terrible.  Only… she normally doesn’t just tell me to do things. She usually asks. I also didn’t mind: house needed cleaned. Turns out, the “nesting instinct” is a very useful, very powerful urge that many women get when they are pregnant.

Then I went to a class/lecture thing that she had been planning on attending with me, but was instead too nauseous to leave the house. About halfway through the lecture I get a text message from her:

“So, I used that last pregnancy test…”

That’s it. That was the entire text of the message.

I am sure that her head was doing what mine was about to do (more on that next week in Chapter 3), and apparently she thought she was being pretty vague.

I read that text message really quick, and read it again. I put the phone back in my pocket. I Thought about it. Took it back out and read it again. Looked back at the speaker, and tried to focus. Couldn’t focus, too much baby in my head. Tried to not reveal to my friends sitting on either side of me that suddenly very deep emotions were stirring – like an earthquake on the pacific ocean’s floor that is about to make Hawaiians very sad. Almost failed. Got up, walked out of the building. Sat down under a tree in the parking lot, and called Amanda.

I don’t really remember the conversation really well, but there was a lot of “Hooooly crap.” and “What? You already told your mom and dad?” and “Haha, which word of the text message did you think was vague?” and some very brief plans of who we would be telling ASAP vs. later.

After that, my brain got all fuzzy.