hearthfire

Of the many things I’ve done in video games that I haven’t done in real life, one of my favorites was buying a house. Not in the Sims, but in Skyrim. When you buy a house in Skyrim, you start off with just some land and some blueprints.

hearthfire

In real life, buying a house looks more like this:

IMG_3206.JPG

This is our house. THIS is our house. This is OUR house. This IS our house. This is our HOUSE.

Buying a house in Skyrim is relatively easy. You get a letter from a Jarl,(1) you go see him, he has you kill some guys guys for him, and then you can buy the land for a mere 5000 gold.

In real life, it’s much, much, much more difficult. I signed my name twenty-seven times yesterday, and initialed twice. That’s after the forty-five-day waiting period. After a bazillion calls and trazillion documents requiring more signatures and initials and re-writes and…whew.

In Skyrim, I would now begin to build, mine clay and iron, forge hinges and nails, buy lumber, and go to the store for goat horns for lighst and straw to thatch and other nice amenities. You keep grinding away at this, eventually ending up with a great room, a dining space, a hearth, some bedrooms – even a library and trophy room if that’s what you like. And you can own Of the 600+ hours I’ve spent in Skyrim,(2) probably 200 of that has been spent building houses.(3)

In real life, I don’t have to do any of that. Our house is built. It’s been taken care of rather well for the past near-forty years. There’s room for all the cats and for Howie. Room for Ash to have an office and me to have a studio. There’s a rec room and even room for guests. There’s a great yard and a deck and a little creek and lots of birds. Basically, it’s exactly what we could hope for.

In Skyrim, the house would come with a housecarl, a sort-of bodyguard/house-servant/bitch. That’s apparently not a thing in real life, which is a slight bummer. Then again, our house is not likely to be attacked by bandits, spriggans, vampires or dragons, so I suppose that’s something of a fair trade.

But…there it is. We’ve bought a house. We’ve bought a house!


  1. Kind of a mayor/governor/minor king. It’s a soft-J, like in yogging.
  2. Not sure if that’s a number to be proud of or horribly embarrassed of…
  3. Probably also another 100+ hours just reading the books. I found myself firing up the Xbox just to do some reading.

plot-twist

Most days, I have no idea what to blog about. This would be why I don’t blog most days. But for quite some time now, I knew what today’s post would be. But then this happened:

NPR. Photo by Alex Wong for Getty Images

NPR. Photo by Alex Wong for Getty Images

My news can wait. The happiness of an historically oppressed group absolutely takes precedent. Congratulations to all the same-sex couples, today and beyond, who hope to find love and happiness through marriage!

house

The Wife and I have been watching Game of Thrones, now that we can watch HBO without a cable subscription thanks to the HBONow app.(1) One of the things that gets me about Westeros is how each family has its own banner and it own words:

House Stark

winter_is_coming___stark_sigil_03_by_grdx-d4oysm3.png

Winter is coming

House Lannister

lannister-banner

Hear me roar

House Baratheon

House-Baratheon-Sigil-11

Ours is the fury

You get the idea.

This set me to wonder: What would be House Butler’s sigil? What would be our words?

OSUThe first question depends on which of us developed it. If my mother and/or brother chose our sigil, it would probably be the OSU banner. If my sister and/or I chose, it would probably be the metal/devil horns on a field of black. If my dad chose…I have no idea.

But the words of House Butler are easy. It’s a lessen drilled into us at every turn from a very young age. Dad says it with the same grim tone as Ned Stark says his House’s words, with a mixture of foreknowledge and warning that would be dangerous to ignore. I don’t know why this is so important a thing, but I also don’t know the consequences to violating it…because I never have. Such it their import, such is their weight.

We do not mow on Sunday

Silly as it might be – and some House words are rather silly sounding – I’m sure those would be our words.


  1. We cancelled Netflix to cover the cost of the HBONow app, which makes us like the only American household without a Netflix subscription.

Jurassic World

It’s not often that I go to the movie, and even more rarely do I see a flick on opening weekend. So I’m going to take advantage of having seen Jurassic World yesterday to tell you a little about it.(1)

Or, well, basically I can sum it up with what I posted on Twitter right after seeing the movie:

My review of Jurassic World: Some dinosaurs just want to watch the world burn.

Yep. That’s basically the story. I’ll let you figure out how that’s possible.

The majority of the reviews I looked at on IMDb commented that it wasn’t as bad as Jurassic Park III, which is like saying something didn’t make you as sick as Taco Bell. But really, it’s a passable summer flick, not much depth, loads of action, and Chris Pratt, who’s so likable you’ll wish he were dating your daughter.  It’s also predictable, it’s re-treading old ground, and there’s nothing much to wonder at.

Which is what made Jurassic Park such a great movie. I remember, back in ’94 or ’95 when I finally got around to seeing it, the sheer wonder I felt “seeing” real, live dinosaurs for the first time. Yes, part of me totally knew that what I was seeming was so much ones and zeros, but another part – a large part of me – wondered where the hell Spielberg found dinosaurs to film. None of the ensuing movies have captured that. This is due in large part to the advances in CG, and that it’s pretty much commonplace. But the movies haven’t strived for wonder through other means.

Jurassic World at least tries. It does. A real, truly valiant effort. It almost gets there once, very nearly. But then that ever-so-beautiful Jurassic Park theme – easily the best theme John William’s ever wrote – swells, trying to play on the wonder you felt twenty years ago…and then what you see falls horribly flat. Maybe if Michael Giacchino hadn’t stood on Williams’s shoulders in that moment, it would have worked. But as it is in the final cut, it doesn’t quite work.

The other things that got to me was the volume on product placement. In the first maybe ten minutes, I saw Beats headphones, Samsung Galaxy something phones, Samsung televisions, and Starbucks coffee cups. And then a character in the flick comments upon the park having sold out, saying they should name the new dinosaurs directly after the sponsors: the Verizonasaurus, for example.(2) The product placement was already irritating, but then to have a character in the movie comment about selling out to corporations is wildly insulting.

Add to that the solidly mediocre acting of Bryce Dallas Howard, the predictable story, the logical improbability that a boy in high school and his much younger brother could repair a jeep that’s sat idle for 20+ years, and, well, you have a solidly average film starring a very likable Chris Pratt.

It’ll probably make millions.


  1. There probably won’t be spoilers.
  2. I don’t remember the exact lines.

dooku

Christopher Lee passed away today at the age of 93. The internet is full of tributes already. All I have to say is this:

count-dooku

You were my favorite kinda-lame Sith Lord. Thanks for all the great performances, sir.

pain and gain

If you were to go back and read this blog from the beginning,(1) you’d find one major theme: I am fat and seemingly powerless to be anything but.

Yet, I’m convinced this isn’t true. My dad, around the age of 60, decided he was tired of being overweight and, well, now he’s not. He says he feels better than he has in his whole life. Who says that at sixty, right? So part of me in convinced that I can do it, too. Now. I’m nearly 40, yes, but still 20 years younger than when my dad shed his extra pounds.(2)

I have something working against me though that Dad doesn’t: this stupid, diabolical fibromyalgia. I don’t mean that as an excuse. Honestly. But there are two challenges to trying to lose weight when you have fibromyalgia.

1. Pain

Basically, I hurt all the time. The degree of pain varies, but it’s as constant a companion as my glasses or Rene Zellweger’s penchant for mediocre acting. Also, it’s a roll of the dice as to which body part will hurt on a given day, and for how long. There are times when everything’s just fine, and then I stand up and try to walk only to discover that my hip or my knee or my foot feels like so many unoiled gears. It’s impossible to predict and impossible to work around. Exercise of almost any variety might focus on particular parts of the body, but they generally require all of the other parts to get involved too. So just because my torso hurts doesn’t mean I’ll be okay going for a jog.

Sometimes, the pain is motivation. On good days I think to myself that I’d rather hurt from doing something of my choosing – i.e.: exercise – than simply because there’s thunderstorm brewing three states away.(3) Other days, the pain will take a perfectly good jog and make it a rather slow trod. This is always frustrating, but I try to remember that I have to take it a little easy on myself.

2. Gain

To paraphrase Fat Bastard:

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I eat because I don’t feel good, and I don’t feel good because I eat. It’s been a habit so long now, to eat when I don’t feel well, that I don’t notice when I’m doing it. And fibromyalgia makes me not feel well quite a bit. I need to divorce the feeling from the association, but that’s not unlike tell a cat not to sit in a box.

IMG_2376

It’s gonna take a lot of training…

Nevertheless, I’m convinced that I’d feel a lot better if I lost some weight. It’s just going to take as much mental work as it does physical.

Sigh. Or I could go ahead and have a second helping of ice cream.


  1. Which, I mean, good luck. Even I can’t take that much of myself.
  2. However, though I’ve inherited every ounce of my dad’s stubbornness – and then quite a bit more from my mom as well – I don’t have his willpower. Dad could win a staring contest with wooden owls if he put his mind to it. He could make steel feel weak.
  3. Seriously, this has happened. Sometimes I can’t figure out why I feel like Judge Doom after his encounter with the cement truck until I see the satellite imagery over Illinois. We joke at work that I’m a mutant who’s the opposite of Storm: rather than me controlling the weather, the weather controls me. My X-Men name is Mr. Ots, which is Storm backwards.(4)
  4. We’re clever like that.

black turtleneck and blue jeans

Steve Jobs, though a hero of mine, didn’t get or do everything right. There were more than a few missteps along the way, from some of his early familial relationships to pretty much lying about having “cracked” the vaunted Apple TV. But one thing I’ve come to conclude he got right was his “uniform.”

From Fast Company

From Fast Company

(1)

Every morning I stare at the selections in my closet and just pretty much lose my will to go on living. It’s not that I hate my clothes, it’s that I just don’t even want to make this decision. What I wear should require roughly the same amount of brain power as reciting my ABCs or singing along with old Bon Jovi songs, in my opinion. It should require no more time than the time necessary to don the particular items of clothing before moving on with my life.

I know fashion has its place…but that place is nowhere near me and never has been. You could pull just about any picture of me from the previous ten years and I’ll be wearing any or all of the following:

  • Jeans or cargo pants;
  • T-shirt;
  • Button-up long- or short-sleeve shirt.

I throw the occasional sweater in there because Ohio winters do get cold. Otherwise, that’s it. It’s all just variations on a theme.

And it’s just mere laziness. Having fibromyalgia essentially means that many of my sensory receptors are turned up higher than they are for most people. Rather than turning me into some overweight and sweaty Daredevil though, it just means that loud noises physically hurt, bright lights blind me, and rough fabrics make me want to chew my own flesh off. So most mornings anymore I end up changing my shirt two or three times before I figure out which fabric my skin is comfortable with today. There are some shirts I own that are always comfortable, but generally one wants to avoid wearing the same thing to work everyday.

Unless one is Steve Jobs, which brings me back to my point.

I’ve been wearing the same style – though not the same actual clothes – for over a decade now. But varying my style means I’m spending more time choosing an outfit than I care to spend on it.(2) So why not give in and go Jobs? Why not find a type of pants, a type of t-shirt, and a type of button-up that are comfortable and just go with it? Day in and day in for the next howsoever long?

I just don’t have an answer anymore. So here’s to Steve Jobs, black turtleneck and blue jeans and all.


  1. You can find it here.
  2. And I’m incensed that I just used the phrase “choosing an outfit.” Choosing an outfit is never something I wanted to do with my time unless it was a euphemism for putting on my Bat-suit.

taptic

Matthew Inman wrote a post over at The Oatmeal today about his experience with the Apple Watch. Other than the part in which he’s actually a runner, his experience with the Apple Watch is pretty much the same as mine:

  • It will not replace your iPhone;
  • Battery life is a non-issue;
  • It gets me off my ass,
  • And rewards me for really basic shit;
  • And this is the future.

I’ve resisted doing an Apple Watch review to this point because a) there are a million Apple Watch reviews already and b) with a device of this type, I want to use it for a while before I share my thoughts with the masses.(1) But yeah, I pretty much agree with Mr. Inman.

Except on one point: The taptic engine. Inman writes,

taptic engine

I agree that it could be the death of the ringtone – and oh boy do I hope that’s true – but I wouldn’t call what the Apple Watch does “vibrating.” There are lots of thing out there that vibrate: phones, sports bands, smartwatches, speakers, The Flash…you get the idea.(2)

The Apple Watch is not one of them.

I’ve said since at least high school that rather than buying an alarm clock I would rather pay someone to gently tap my arm and intone just above a whisper, “Hey. Hey…it’s time. Time to wake up. C’mon Bo. There’s coffee out there.” People often joked that having that would cost a lot more than an alarm clock. Turns out that’s true; it cost me around $400.

That’s what the taptic engine does. Imagine the nicest little old lady in the world. She’s stooped and adorable and makes sure you always get a hot meal when you stop by and never busts your balls about how little you stop by. She’s someone of whom Mother Teresa would marvel, “What a gentle soul.”

That’s the taptic engine.

After years of garish ringtones, from that Nokia tone so annoying it became a friggin’ plot point in Love Actually to those über-grating Drooooooooooid tones to your Rihanna songs and, yes, even lightsabers, we finally have a notifier that’s more Buddha than Westboro Baptist Church. More gin-and-tonic than Jägermeister. More Iron & Wine than Aerosmith. More Jarvis than Hulk.

Or perhaps the best way to make my point is this: Apple Watch has absolutely zero functionality for measuring your sleep. This may soon change, now that Apple will allow third-party apps to access the Watch’s processors and sensors. But for the past month since I’ve had my Watch,(3) I’ve worn it while sleeping solely because the taptic alarm is the alarm I’ve been waiting for all my life. I wear it when I sleep because I want it to wake me up.

“Hey. Hey…it’s time. Time to wake up. C’mon Bo. There’s coffee out there.”

It’s not something that vibrates. It’s the most pleasant, most subtle attention-getter out there.


  1. “The masses” here being the three or four people who read this blog.
  2. Keeping it clean here, obviously.
  3. Yes, it feels horribly pretentious and insidiously fan-boyish to capitalize “watch” like that. But…somehow the device commands it. I have no excuse.

finals

It’s been a long time since I cared about the NBA at all, and just as long since I watched a game. But I tuned in to last night’s game between the Cleveland Cavs and the Golden State Warriors. Cleveland played a solid 48 minutes, but then followed it up with the worst five minutes of OT probably ever.

But I’m rooting for them, and will until the end. I don’t care so much the LeBron James came back; I just always root for any Cleveland team that makes it to the playoffs. Cuz, you know, it doesn’t happen that often.

So: Go Cavs!!!

Cleveland-Cavaliers-Feature

broken bald

A short while ago, I posted about how I intended to go bald gracefully, meaning that I wouldn’t shave my head like so many men out there and pretty much the entire male cast of Breaking Bad.

Well, about a month ago…I decided to shave my head.

I'm ready for my audition Mr. Gilligan

I’m ready for my audition Mr. Gilligan

Now, in my defense, I didn’t shave my head because I’m going bald. If that were the case, I’d’ve done it back when I was like seven.(1) I did it because I was curious as to how I’d look. Well and plus also The Wife wasn’t home.(2)

And I kinda like it. My intent was to shave my head the once and then let grow back whichever hairs still clung to the mortal coil. Instead, I’ve continued shaving my head for all of the past month. I like how it looks and, honestly, it’s easier to maintain than even the paltry amount of hair that I did have.

Really though, I most enjoy how my head feels. When it’s freshly shaved, it feels like soft leather. The next day, like smooth stubble. The following day, like a soft bristle brush. It’s not until it starts to feel like hair again that I want to shave it fresh, which is usually on about the fourth or fifth day.

How long will I keep it? Given how quickly my hair disappeared all on it own, I’d say I’m destined to look like this more-or-less forever, even if I decide to let it grow back.


  1. Okay, in reality I began noticing evidence of my impending baldness when I was in my early 20s. But people were telling me even in high school that I had a receding hairline. Which I responded to with the always appropriate “Your mom has a receding hairline!”
  2. Her response was, “I miss your hair.” To which I replied, “Welcome to my life.”