• Life

    My Son Is Coming Home

    Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby featherSo my son is coming home to visit for a week, in theory. We’re thinking about today, driving to the city to pick him up, stopping to visit my parents, his grandparents, on the way back, and then bringing him home for the fall break.

    Fall break is different to me, because Queen’s never had one. Reading week in the spring, but there was no fall break. The fall break for Eric isn’t really a reading week either, because it happens actually the week after midterms and, while the vacation after all that hard work is appreciated likely appreciated by the students, it still seems weird to me. I think their spring break is treated the same way. It’s not actually week to study and get ready for midterms but a week to recover from those midterms.

    Still, all beside the point. My son is coming home for a week. For seven days, or six probably, because he wants to go back on the Saturday for a party, my family will all be under one roof. A small piece of my world will be right, as normal as possible, because I don’t have a week off, because I still have all of the regular commitments, particularly my still-feeling-new job.

    But, unless a whole bunch of his friends are coming home, and reading week/fall break are not the same everywhere even to the schools that have it, and he’s told me that he doesn’t actually see or talk to a lot of people from highschool more except the ones he lives with, but that may change, he’ll mostly be around when I am, which means all three of my kids, even if there ignoring me, will mostly be around when I am. That actually will probably lower my stress level. And I could certainly use a lower stress level right now.

    For a week, I’ll be as close as possible to being able to say that everything is right in my world. I think even his sisters are looking forward to the visit since he hasn’t actually been home a lot since he moved to Ottawa in the spring last year.

    The shoe is on the other foot now, as the old cliché goes. I remember being his age and being near enough to being completely out of the house, on my own, living my own life. I recognize now at least some of the emotion my parents must have gone through at the time. I want him to explore and discover and live his own life, but I miss him terribly every single day.

    For a week, my family will be whole again, not that it isn’t, but it will feel that way for me in a different way. Or maybe I’ll just feel different. Either way, it’s going to be a good week.

    Be well, everyone.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

  • Life,  Philosophy

    Miyazato-Sensei Was A Wise Man

    Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby featherI’ve been studying karate for closing in on nine years now, and I get a lot out of it, mentally, physically, psychologically, socially. It’s become an important part of my life and health, and I hope to continue that for the rest of my life.

    My Sensei fairly often quotes Eiichi Miyazato-Sensei, the founder of the Jundokan (the Okinawan home of one of the two flavours of karate I practice), on a particular subject that doesn’t initially seem to promote karate, at least until you think about it a little. It probably sounds cooler in the original language, but still comes through fairly well in English:

    “Family first, then work, then karate.”

    Substitute your passion of choice for karate.

    The point being that anything after your family’s wellbeing and the support of your family takes a distant third place.

    It seems simple. Or it should.

    So, for everything I do, there should be a series of three questions.

    Does it help my family?

    Does it help my career without harming my family?

    Does it further a dream without harming my family or career?

    If I can’t answer yes to at least one of these, there’s a fourth, obvious question: why the heck am I doing it?

    Be well, everyone.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

  • Gaming,  Parenting

    Video Game Companies Need to Get Smarter If They Want My Money

    Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby featherBacking that up a bit, I appear to be raising several gamer kids, although of distinctly different types.

    At some point, we’ve all been Halo fans, and fans of first person shooters in general. Those days are mostly over, I think. We’ve decided we’re not going to bother with the XBox One at this point for a variety of reasons, but the 360 still has a solid place in our entertainment unit. So does the PS3. The Wii (although that’s mostly for Gamecube games, and the Gamecube itself has migrated to my son’s room with an older 360). And the recently acquired Nintendo 64. There are a variety of handheld devices in the house, too. DS and 3DS mostly, but there’s also a game boy and a PSP hanging around, as well as the game potential on several iPods. I won’t rule out a new console in the future, either.

    Personally, I’m fairly eclectic in my gaming (surprise!), though that usually means I don’t get really good at any one game. But it’s more about the fun, or with bigger games, the story telling. I’m not competitive, so I don’t need to be better than anyone else at something. I just need to be good enough to watch the story unfold in a reasonable time frame.

    But, like I said, the offspring are all different.

    Oldest appears to have migrated away from first person shooters of his “youth” to online battle arenas as his primary gaming entertainment. Not exclusively. He has a couple of handheld devices, so he’s never without games, though seems to prefer some of the classic Nintendo varieties. He’s ranked somewhere in the Platinum levels on League of Legends at this point, but plays several others, too. These are mostly too complicated for me to have time for the learning curve at this stage of life, but I like Smite as it gives you the ability to automate certain things to streamline play. We keep saying we should check out War Thunder, but haven’t managed to yet.

    Youngest Daughter is a Minecraft fanatic. I admit to having been bitten by this bug (as evidenced by a previous post) and intend to allow myself an account of my own for my fast approaching birthday. She likes the Pokémon type games, too, and has a fairly extensive and eclectic collection of DS games. But Minecraft is her current love and gets the vast majority of her gaming time at the moment. Often hours per day. As many as three people in our house have played Minecraft together at the same time.

    Oldest Daughter, on the other hand, is the RPG fan. She does some action-adventure games, too (like having just finished off the entire Assassin’s Creed series), but RPGs tend to hold her interest longer. For solo play, she keeps coming back to Skyrim lately, but we’ve played a couple of multiplayer games together in the last little while: War in the North, and Dungeon Siege III. Two very different games in the same general genre, but both a lot of fun. I think we probably enjoyed War in the North more, as we played through it at every difficulty level building our characters up to game maximum, but our interest did eventually die out.

    And that’s the problem right now. We haven’t found another one we can play together. Most of the really good games on the shelf get passed by as single player games. We want something that allows for the two of us to play together, as in at the same time. A lot of game developers seem slow to wake up to the idea that gaming can be social, that it almost has to be and not just in an online, can’t see the other players’ faces, smack talk kind of way. (Which I personally find to be a complete turn off.)

    Gaming can be family time.

    For me, that’s always what it’s about. Can I play with one or more of my kids? If the answer is no, it’s probably going to stay on the shelf at the store. Now, I recognize that I’m not part of the target market of young men with more money than sense that the video game industry seem to survive on by fleecing on a regular basis. But the thing is, I should be. I have the potential to spend more money on entertaining my family.

    And there are five of us.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

  • Announcement,  Life,  Writing

    Priority Shifts

    Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby featherI’m given to bouts of introspection and analysis, examining some bit of my life or how I’m doing something. Usually these last a few hours, or maybe a day or two. Occasionally, they go longer.

    The day or two I took off of writing to recharge my batteries turned into almost three weeks worth of electronic vacation while I considered nearly every aspect of my life. Hope no one’s missed me.

    In that three weeks, I’ve spent a fair bit of time with my kids, switched back to day shift, been late once for work, gotten a lot of stuff done around the house, and spent a great deal of time thinking about all of the activities that make up my life and what place they should be occupying.

    No, I’m not selling all of my worldly possessions and moving to a commune or a Buddhist monastery (although though I think both would be interesting experiences, if in different ways), or contemplating any major life changes at the moment. I don’t need a midlife crisis, really. But I’ve made some decisions about how I pursue certain goals, and how many of them I’m pursuing at any given time in favour of as much time with my kids as I can possibly get in whatever activities they’re willing to participate in.

    I like to think I’m a fairly involved dad, but at the same time I feel like it’s never enough. How often do you stop and say, “Why am I doing this right now? What would be a better way to spend my time?” I’ve been doing that a lot lately, and I find that while I profess to be all about family, there are times when mine is around and I’m doing something by myself that doesn’t involve any of them.

    This is not what I want.

    So, more geocaching, more karate, more anime, more audio work and podcasting, more video games, more movie making, more football, more paintball, and more of whatever other things I can drag them away from the computer with (that includes my trying to become a pro gamer son). Okay, more shared housework and chores, too—stuff’s gotta get done, after all.

    But also probably less writing and related activities. I’ve written before that suffering for your art is not a bad thing, but making other people suffer for your art just makes you a jerk (or perhaps some other word that rhymes with grass mole). Things that are solely for me can now only be done when they aren’t around or are sleeping (because it’s my night off and I’m on nights).

    Not as bad as you might think, though. I have breaks at work, days off when they’re in school, commuting time (I can dictate), and a few other odd moments here and there. I’ll still get things done in a creative vein, but I’m not going to be firing on all cylinders on everything at once. Writing goals wiped clean on a word count basis. The goal is now to finish whatever project is on the top of the list.

    There is now a top secret list of the order of priorities for my own creative work. Gone are the days of working on five or six things at once. I’m going to try one at a time for a while, which is going to be really tough for me, but will probably be good for me too. Blog posts go on a separate list. Yup, more of those than there have been in the last month or so.

    My new word: focus.

    Focus, grasshopper, you need focus.

    Be well everyone.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

  • Conventions

    My 2013 Convention Schedule

    Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby featherFirst off, if you see this twice in your feeds, I’m sorry. Because it’s relevant in several places, I’m cross posting it to both my author blog and my personal one, but a day apart.

    That said, to no one’s surprise, I’m raising a group of geek kids. My wife is the token non-geek, she thinks, but has either developed geeky attributes as she’s adapted to the rest of us, or she’s just letting her inner geek out to play a little more. Either way, we’re a geek family.

    And we like cons. Each of us for different reasons, probably, but a lot of those cross over. Cons are fun.

    I’ll be attending four conventions this year, with the possibility of yet to be scheduled day trips to a couple more depending on days off and budget at the time. This is on par with last year for me, but with some differences as one of those was World Fantasy which I went to on my own and two were day trips.

    But for 2013, we’re looking at this as a minimum:

    We (myself and my oldest daughter) will be at Ad Astra April 5-7. This is mostly a lit con with some other stuff thrown in. I’m looking forward to renewing a few real world friendships, conducting some interviews, going to some cool panels, and having a great time with my daughter. Tickets purchased months ago, hotel booked.

    On May 24, by request as a birthday present, I’ll be taking the same daughter to Anime North. She’s in love with anime and cosplay and it seems like a natural fit. Again just the two of us. Further, I have agreed to cosplay for the event. We will both be attending as characters from Soul Eater. In her case, the heroine Maka, and in my case Professor Stein. Tickets purchased.

    August 22-25, the annual family pilgrimage to the geek mecca known as FanExpo (also, I believe the third biggest con in the world after San Diego and New York comic cons). Four days of everything geek, and I do mean everything. Whatever it is, you can probably find it at FanExpo. Tickets not on sale yet, but vacation time booked.

    Finally, there’s a small con starting just down the road from us, Quinte Mini Con in Belleville on November 9 & 10. Shortest drive to a con ever for us. Both daughters are in, son debating, wonderful wife to attend if she’s not working. Tickets not on sale yet, but they’re supposed to be, so probably any second, we hope.

    It’s always the Year of the Geek, but it almost seems like 2013 is also the Year of the Con.

    Anyone have any suggestions?

    Be well, everyone.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather